Monologue from the collection Paper Cuts: Comedic and satirical monologues for audition or performance by Kirsty Budding, originally published by Blemish Books, Canberra www.blemishbooks.com.au
I met Gertrude at the bingo. She’d lost her glasses and couldn’t see her numbers; I was the lucky man who got to help her guide her pen. Every time my hand brushed hers, she giggled like a sixteen-year-old. Made me forget I was in a retirement home. I was so happy; I couldn’t bring myself to tell her that her glasses had been on her head the whole time.
The next morning, I walked down to the corner shop to buy her some flowers. I thought of her giggle every step of the way. But by the time I got back to the residents’ lounge, the seat next to her was taken.
It was Mr Willoughby – that smooth-talking Lothario from 29a. He’s a retired British officer who wears a tweed suit and has the straightest back I’ve ever seen. Hardly any arthritis. He sounds like David Attenborough and he can dance – not just a slow dance; he can do the twist, the jitterbug, the tango.
He’s next to Gertrude telling jokes and she’s giggling away, saying, “Oh Mr Willoughby, you are funny!”
Cad. (Confiding a secret) Last year, there was a scandal involving Willoughby and Mrs Smith from 28a. That’s right: Mrs Smith. Mr Smith was in the rehabilitation wing recovering from a hip replacement and Willoughby was ready to provide comfort, if you get my meaning. No one was surprised when Mrs Smith died of a heart attack; it was the most action she’d had in thirty years.
Then there was Mavis. And Betsy. And Doris. All decided they wanted a happy ending. I tell you: with Willoughby around, “assisted dying” has taken on a whole new meaning.
And now he was after my Gertrude! Well, when I was young, I’d have walked away. But I’m old enough to know if you love someone then you should just bloody tell them. I wasn’t going to let him take her back to his parlour without a fight! So I shuffled over, holding my flowers like a schoolboy, and I said:
“Gertrude. I’m old and I can’t dance and it took me an hour to get you these flowers from the corner shop, which is 400 metres away. I have a crooked back and I don’t sound like I narrate nature documentaries for the BBC, but I love you.”
“I can also assure you that your life expectancy will be significantly higher if you choose me. So, if you want a few minutes of excitement followed by a heart attack, then Willoughby’s your man. But if you want someone who will wear you down gradually over a number of years before you finally die peacefully in your sleep, then take these flowers, and be my sweetheart.”
Willoughby sneered, but Gertrude giggled and took the flowers. Then she took my arm – and as we left the lounge like two teenagers off to the pictures, she whispered:
“I knew the glasses were on my head.”