You harlot!’ the man announced, his tight jeans not straining even slightly.
‘What did you call me?’ returned the indignant woman with the flushed neck.
‘You harlot!’ he repeated, this time adding a strange sort of underarm flourish, as though reaching to perform a gynaecological exam on an invisible giraffe.
‘How dare… what makes you think...’ the woman flustered.
‘I’m sorry,’ she turned to the group stood hunched together in the dark. ‘Is this really the script? He just keeps repeating… and nobody even says ‘harlot’ anymore, especially not in...’
‘Just read, please.’ The instruction was barked by the guest director.
‘How could you do this to me?’ the man continued before his scene partner had even reset. He removed his fingers from the imaginary animal’s cavity and touched the back of his hand to his very real forehead instead. ‘As if it wasn’t enough to emasculate me once, you had to...’
‘Emasculate you?’ she wasn’t reading, she was flicking through the pages in confusion. A bead of sweat trickled from the man’s pulsing temple.
‘When we consummated our...’
The woman mouthed the words back in disbelief. She knew this episode would be different, but. Her eye caught the row of three taxidermied cormorants which had been placed in the background of the set, begging only more questions to which she could find no answers.
‘When you severed me. That night. Gelded me with your… your,’ he gulped and looked nervously to the side. His hand, now hanging pointlessly in mid-air, was shaking. He cleared his throat. ‘With your toothy tuppence, your gnashered gash, your serrated snatch, your…’
‘Your cuspidioed c…’
‘I said, woah.’
There was an audible gasp of relief from the interrupted orator. His face was reddened as if thistles had been dragged across it.
‘Is he claiming, and please give me a second to try and express this correctly. Is he saying that, on our wedding night, my vagina bit his dick off?’
There was a murmuring in the shadows which, after a moment, was silenced by a deliberate cough.
‘Yes,’ the guest director spoke firmly in a nasal tone. ‘That is exactly what he is saying. Because that is what it says in the script. Do you have a problem with it, dear?’ His tongue followed the last word out as if he was gagging on it.
The woman touched her fingers to her temples and took a deep breath.
‘And what else have I done?’
‘I’m sorry. What else...?’
‘To make him call me a harlot three times in a row?’
Just then, Ross Kemp appeared from the darkness. He wore only a large white pair of boxer shorts. A thick circle of red liquid was soaked around the crotch.
‘Quentin,’ he called out, before realising her was interrupting. ‘Sorry Steve, Letitia.’ He nodded politely before turning back to the director. ‘Quentin, are you sure about all this blood? It’s pretty graphic for tea time.’
The guest director dropped his head into his hands and mumbled.