The Changing of the Guard

Scene 2

Young Mr. Grace's office

YMG is dozing at his desk.  Bakewell enters and approaches him.

Bakewell:        Mr. Grace?  Wake up, sir.  Mr. Grace?

YMG:             Eh?

Bakewell:        Sorry to wake you.

YMG:             Oh, that's alright, Miss, er, Bakewell.

Bakewell:        Were you having a nice dream, sir?

YMG:            Well, I was dreaming I was on holiday already, at the New York
                       Plaza, just having dinner.

Bakewell:         Oh, that's a coincidence, sir.  One of the things I have to tell you
                        is that the Plaza has confirmed your booking starting Sunday.

YMG:              Oh, that's fine.  Cancel it.

Bakewell:         Cancel it?

YMG:            Yes, that's right, cancel the booking.

Bakewell:        Why, Mr. Grace?

YMG:            My dinner was terrible.

Bakewell:        I see.

YMG:              Anything else, Miss Bakewell? For what I was paying, I'm
                        going to see what was for afters.

Bakewell:         Well, you can go back to sleep in a moment, sir, but Mr. Frobisher
                        is on the 'phone.

YMG:              Who?

Bakewell:        Mr. Frobisher, the secretary of your club.

YMG:              Oh yes, I've been expecting his call.  I'm afraid I'm in a bit
                       of trouble.

Bakewell:         Trouble, Mr. Grace?

YMG:               Yes, the night watchman at the club is blackmailing me.

Bakewell:          Oh, dear!

YMG:               Yes.  One night last week he saw me coming out of the club
                         with a nightclub hostess.

Bakewell:          Well, that's hardly scandalous, sir.

YMG:               This hostess was, er, unusual, though.

Bakewell:           How so?

YMG:                She works at the Pink Flamingo Cabaret, which I later found
                          out is a, er . .

Bakewell:          (knowingly) Female impersonator club.

YMG:                Yes, but I didn't know it at the time.  I figured it out, though.

Bakewell:           When was that, sir?

YMG:              When she offered to arm-wrestle the waiter for the drinks bill.
                         But I didn't want to be rude, so I said I had a headache and
                         offered her er, him a ride home.

Bakewell:           Hmmm.  Well, I should think the watchman at your club
                          would be more discreet, Mr. Grace.

YMG:                 Yes, but it's a new watchman.  He's a young man barely 60.
                           (Sighs) This is a fickle and faithless generation, Miss Bakewell.

Bakewell:          Yes, sir.  Will you speak to Mr. Frobisher, then?

YMG:                  Oh, yes.  Thank you.  (Picks up receiver) Hello Charles . . .
                            yes, damn that watchman!  I've got to pay him, I suppose.
                            You're sure you can't help me? . . .  Oh, what has he got on
                            you? . . . Hmmm, I didn't think that was a crime anymore.
                            Well, how much does he want? . . . I see.  Well, that can be
                            arranged, I suppose.  (Sighs) Why can't we have a night
                            watchman that sleeps on the job, like other good clubs have? . .
                            Yes, goodbye. (Hangs up)

Bakewell:             You'll be paying him off, then, Mr. Grace?

YMG:                  Well, sort of.  The chap says he doesn't want any money.
                            He doesn't fancy the night shift and wants a position
                            at my store!

Bakewell:             Well, that's quite ambitious for a blackmailer!

YMG:                   Yes, well, I'm afraid I'm going to have to give him what he
                             wants.  But I don't fancy having him around here.  Which
                             of our branches is the farthest away?

Bakewell:              That would be the Liverpool branch, sir.

YMG:                   Ah.  Have we any positions going there?

Bakewell:             Well, we did have, but Mr. Rice of Tropical Fish will be
                            transfering there after the holiday.

YMG:                  Hmmm.  I didn't know we have a Tropical Fish Department
                            in Liverpool.

Bakewell:             We don't, sir.  Mr. Rice will be working in Do-It-Yourself,
                            but he said there were some people in Liverpool who needed
                            his support.

YMG:                  I see.  His family?

Bakewell:            No, sir, his football club.

YMG:                 Oh, my.  That's going a bit overboard, don't you think?

Bakewell:            Oh, I don't know, sir.  Football fans are very loyal.

YMG:                 Oh, that's right.  You're keen on a football club, aren't you?

Bakewell:            Yes, sir.  Manchester United.  You remember I got that
                           tattoo last year?

YMG:                 Tattoo?

Bakewell:            That's right, sir.  Remember?  You saw it when you took us
                           on your yacht  this summer.

YMG:               Oh, that's right.  It's a little, er, football, isn't it?

Bakewell:            Yes, sir.

YMG:                 Yes, right near your, er . . . (his face lights up, and immediately
                           his stress indicator sounds, and he tries to catch his breath
                           as Bakewell fans him with some papers from his desk.)

Onward to Scene 3

(c)1999  John F. Crowley