Their Final Act blurb
Jimmy McGuire, a washed-up comic, is found dead on the streets of Inverness, his body garroted. Back in the 1990s, McGuire had been half of a promising double-act until his partner, Jack Dingwall, was convicted of rape.
GETTING TO KNOW ALEC MCKAY
Transcript of first counselling session with Mr Alec McKay
Counseller: Mr McKay. Welcome. Please take a seat.
McKay (regards the chair with suspicion before finally sitting down): Afternoon. This going to take long?
Counseller: Are you in a hurry, Mr McKay?
McKay: Always in a hurry, me. You know, places to go, people to see. Things to do.
Counseller (consults notes): You’re wife tells me you’re currently living on your own over on the Black Isle? She had the impression you don’t get out much.
McKay: Aye, well. That’s all she knows. We’ve got pubs and everything over there these days, you know.
Counseller: So you’re out most evenings?
McKay (long pause): Well, it varies.
Counseller (nods): So, Mr McKay, the purpose of this discussion is just to have an informal chat—
McKay: Informal chat?
Counseller: Well, yes.
McKay: And how much are we paying you for this informal chat, Chrissie and I?
Counseller: That’s hardly—
McKay: No, I’m joking. Carry on. You’d got to informal chat.
Counseller: This is just an informal chat to help me get to know you a little before we begin the counselling in earnest. The plan is for me to see you and your wife separately and then we’ll move on to some joint sessions. Are you comfortable with that?
McKay: You’re the quack.
Counseller: I’m not a— I’m not a doctor, Mr McKay. I’m a counseller. We can talk later about the kinds of methodologies I apply.
McKay: I’ll look forward to it.
Counseller (takes a breath): So. Mr McKay, I understand you’re a police officer?
Counseller: A detective. That must be interesting.
McKay: Aye, I suppose it must.
Counseller: A very demanding job, I imagine?
McKay: Most jobs are, if you do them properly. Are you asking whether I put the job before my marriage?
Counseller: I’m not asking anything at this stage, Mr McKay. (Pauses) Do you think you do?
McKay: Do what?
Counseller: Put your job before your marriage.
McKay: I thought you weren’t asking anything at this stage.
McKay: I don’t know. What does Chrissie say? Or aren’t you asking her anything at this stage, either?
Counseller (long pause): She tells me you work long hours. That you get caught up in the work. That sometimes you bring the stresses home with you. That—
McKay: You already know the answer, then. Why ask me?
Counseller: I wondered whether you felt the same.
McKay: Of course I do. Why wouldn’t I?
Counseller: Your wife also says it doesn’t matter. That she always knew what she was marrying.
McKay (shrugs): I think she did always know what she was marrying. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter.
Counseller: Why do you say that?
McKay: Because it’s one reason why I’m here. Why Chrissie and I have split up.
Counseller: Do you think you have split up?
McKay: We’re not living together. That seems like split up to me.
Counseller: How long have you been living apart?
McKay: A couple of months.
Counseller: And you think that’s permanent?
McKay: That’s why I’m here, isn’t it? I’m hoping it isn’t. Chrissie suggested we give counselling another go.
Counseller: And you thought that was a good idea?
McKay: I thought anything was worth a shot. Even this. No offence.
Counseller: None taken. You want to get back together with your wife?
McKay: Of course I do. I’d do anything to make that happen.
McKay: Well, anything except unburden my deepest emotions to a complete stranger with a notebook and pen. (Pause.) I’m joking again.
Counseller: Of course, Mr McKay. Do you love your wife?
McKay (after a long pause): Love?
Counseller: You’re familiar with the concept?
McKay: I’m a middle aged Dundonian male. It’s not the kind of language we use.
Counseller: No. But do you?
McKay: Do I love her? Well, like I say, I’m here.
Counseller (makes extensive note): Tell me about your daughter, Mr McKay.
McKay: Lizzie. She’s dead.
Counseller: Is that all you can tell me about her?
McKay: Well, no. But it’s always the first thing that comes into my head about her. For some reason. I miss her. All the time. Every minute. I missed her when she first moved to London. But I thought, well, she can always come home when she wants to. Now she can’t.
Counseller: Do you feel guilty about her death?
McKay: Guilty? Why should I feel guilt? There was nothing I could have done— Aye, of course, I feel guilty. What do you think?
Counseller: You don’t blame your wife?
McKay: I don’t blame anyone. Not even myself, most of the time. Just now and then. Most days. Whenever I think about her.
Counseller: Your wife seems to think you blame her. That you blame your wife, I mean.
McKay: Aye, I know she does. And I think Chrissie blames me, though I know she probably doesn’t.
Counseller: Do you blame anyone?
McKay: Maybe the London Underground. For running Tube trains that people can fall under. But no. Either it was just an awful accident, or…
Counseller: I understand, Mr McKay. Either way, it means the you and your wife are really without closure—
McKay: Closure? Do you people still use that word?
Counseller: Sometimes. When it’s appropriate.
McKay: You think we need closure?
Counseller: I think you need to talk about your daughter’s death and what it means for each of you.
McKay: How much are we paying for this? What do you think we’ve been trying to do?
Counseller: At least we’re in agreement, Mr McKay. That’s a good start. Perhaps we should take that as a cue to pause for tonight?
McKay: Quit while we’re ahead, you mean? Your call. Do you think we’re ahead?
Counseller (after a long pause): What I think, Mr McKay, is that you’re not going to make this process easy for me.
McKay (shrugs): Like I always say to the people I have to interview, that’s not my job. Anyway, I have the feeling you’re not going to make it easy for me either.
Counseller (smiles): As you say, Mr McKay, that’s not our job. But let’s give it a shot anyway, shall we?