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Plays Double Bill: Weekend and Sunshine


Weekend and Sunshine: Two plays inspired by works by Bertholt Brecht and Ernest Hemingway

By Karl Dallas

1.    The Jewish wife

Inspired by a scene from Brecht’s Furcht und Elend des Dritten Reiches
(The Fear and Misery of the Third Reich)

NARRATOR

God knows he was no ideologue
And she went but rarely to the synagogue
As a scientist he had no time for politics
Said: Life goes on despite all their dirty tricks
But still she’s packing, and as she packs,
Leaving behind everything she lacks
In her heart her farewell speech she composes
Trying to remember what she knew of the Law of Moses
Well, let it be, each life must take its course
Let’s hope it’s temporary; nothing like divorce
She’s not concerned about what their friends might think
One thing’s certain: she will take the mink!

 (GRAMS: Comedie Harmonists: Wochenend’ Und SonnenscheinWeekend and Sunshine)

(NOTE: The Comedie Harmonists were a popular Jewish close-harmony group in Germany in the pre-Hitler period. This song is better known in English as Happy Days Are Here Again.)

JUDITH

(Sighs.)

God, how I hate packing! What shall I take? What shall I leave? How long will I be away? Will I need summer clothes or will I be back before warmer weather comes?

(Exclaims)

And how much longer will this madness continue? I said to Fritz we should have voted but he wouldn’t agree. But who could we vote for? Not the Reds, surely.

Now look what’s happening. The Führer hates us and his word is law. And that IS the law.

(Returns to her packing)

Don’t think I’ll need these silk undies. Who am I going to be seducing in Amsterdam? Who do I even know there?

(Pause)

Wait a minute! What day is this? Tuesday? Isn’t that the doctor’s bridge night? God, I’ll have to ring and cancel. I don’t expect Fritz will go without me. He’s not all that keen on bridge, I know.

(FX: Telephone dial)

Hello. Judith Keith here. Is that you, doctor? Good evening.

Yes, quite well, thank you.

Fritz? Well he’s not home yet but he’s had a bit of a cold lately. Yes, that’s why he didn’t make it to our last rubber.

No, nothing serious, thanks for asking.

Well, why I’m ringing is . . .

You know, I’m sorry to drop you in it at the last minute like this, but I’m afraid I won’t be able to make it for bridge tonight. I don’t know if Fritz will be coming, cos I usually do the driving. Perhaps one of your friends could give him a lift.

Why? Because I’m going away. Tonight, on the 9pm train.

No, not long. Probably just for a few weeks. At least I hope so.

I’m going to Amsterdam. Yes, they do say it’s lovely there in the spring. The tulips may be out. And I’ve got friends there.

I hope you don’t think I’m letting you down. I’m sure you’ll be able to get someone else for a fourth.

Oh come on! You know we haven’t played for a fortnight.

That’s right, Fritz had a cold then, too. He’s a bit susceptible in the cold weather.

Frankly, I think it’s absurd to go on playing bridge when it’s as cold as this, I always say. Stay home in the warm.

So, what put that idea into my head, going away? W-e-l-l, hard to say really. Nothing specific.

No, nothing to do with Fritz and me. We’re fine, really we are. Of course, we have our ups and downs, like most couples. And he’s under a lot of pressure at work.

Yes, you’re right. He always did bring his work home with him, nights. But I knew he was like that when we started courting. And we’ve been together long enough . . .

A bit sudden? No, not really. It’s been on my mind for weeks. Ever since the election. I kept putting it off, and now I’ve really got to . . .

Oh yes, right. We’ll also have to cancel our cinema date, won’t we?

Remember me to Thekla. And keep in touch with Fritz, if you would. Ring him up sometimes, could you perhaps? And see if you can persuade him to come on his own for bridge.

Well, au revoir.

Yes, of course I will. When I get back. Goodbye.

(To herself)

IF I get back!

(She hangs up and calls another number.)

(FX: Telephone dial.)

Hello, this is Judith Keith. Can I speak to Frau Schoeck, please?

Lotte? I’m ringing up to say Auf wiedersehn. I’m going away for a bit. Catching a train for Amsterdam tonight, nine.

No, nothing’s wrong, we’re both fine. I just feel I need some kind of a change of scene. And Fritz has got some issues at work. I just felt he needed some space to work things out.

And that’s why I’m calling, really.

The point is that Fritz has got the Professor coming here tomorrow evening, and I was wondering if you could both come too. Give him a bit of moral support, as it were.

No, I won’t be here. I’m off tonight as I said. Yes, tomorrow, that’s it.

I’ve asked the cook to come in, even though it’s her night off. Schnitzel, I think. It’s Fritz’s favourite.

Oh Max, too. That’s good.

Well, that’s it, really. I only just wanted to tell you I’ll be off tonight.

No, it’s nothing to do with that. You know we’re totally non-political. Didn’t even vote in March.

But people are giving him a bit of a hard time at work, so we invited the Prof over to try and get it sorted.

Well, since you might say, I’m part of the problem. As I’m, you know . . .

Yes, that’s right.

Well it’s sweet of you to put it that way, and I’m sure you’ll always be our friends. That’s why I’m hoping you can come over tomorrow.

Yes, I know you’re not that sort, but what about it, these are unsettled times and everybody’s being so careful, so you’ll come?

Well, let’s say even though I shan’t be here, right?

Max? I’m sure he’ll manage it, you know the way he is. The Professor will be there, tell him.

Well, I must ring off now. Goodbye, then. Love to you all. Schuss sweetie.

(She hangs up.)

(A clock strikes seven.)

Scheitze! Is that the time. Fritz’ll be home any minute. What on earth am I going to say to him? Think, think, THINK girl!

Here goes:

Fritz, liebling . . .

No, that’s no good. He always says he doesn’t like all that sentimental stuff, canoodling in the back row at the movies, and so on. Says we’ve got to act like mature adults, not sex-starved adolescents.

Fritz, my dear . . .

Yes, that’ll do.

Fritz, my dear, I know things are getting difficult for you at work. I feel that I’ve become part of the problem.

He’ll say he doesn’t know what I’m on about, that he never brings his work home. Well that’s true, up to a point, but he does toss and turn a lot in bed, these days. Ever since that bloody election . . .

I know he doesn’t like talking politics, but we can’t ignore what’s happening up in Berlin. That poor, crazy Dutchman! And then Herr Jacob . . .

Yes, that might be it.

Fritz, my dear. You know the brownshirts smashed up Herr Jacob’s, the jewellers. Stole some of his stuff, apparently. He’s taking them to law, though I don’t fancy his chances.

No, that won’t do. Why should he care about some poor Yiddisher shopkeeper? He thinks jewels and schmuck like that are ostentatious rubbish. I’ll think it through while I call one or two others.

(She dials another number.)

(FX: Telephone dial.)

Hi Gertrud. It’s Judith. I’m so sorry to disturb you.

Thanks, I love you too, dear.

I have something rather confidential to tell you. In fact, I haven’t even told Fritz.

The fact is, I’m leaving on a 9pm train to Amsterdam tonight.

No, not leaving HIM, silly. Well, of course, since I’ll be on the train and he’ll be here at home, I suppose you could say that I AM leaving him, technically speaking, but I’m not LEAVING him, not really.

No, not even a trial separation.

Yes, well, as you know, he’s been having a bit of a tough time at work lately, and I can’t deny it’s been affecting the both of us.

Yes, I suppose you could say it IS political, in a way, which is really ridiculous, cos neither of us at all interested in politics. We didn’t even vote last month.

Well, perhaps you’re right, we SHOULD have voted, but the only serious opposition was the Reds, of whatever flavour, and I can’t see Fritz or me hoisting the hammer-and-sickle, can you?

Anyway, I just wanted to ask if you could see that Fritz is all right, while I’m away, being his sister; I thought you . . .

Why not?

No, nobody’d think that, would they? Anyway not Fritz.

Well, of course, as you know, we haven’t . . . been getting on all that well, that’s been the case for some time now but . . .

Things at his work are just making it harder for both of us. I thought if I took myself out of the picture it’d be easier for him to sort it all out. The prof’s coming for dinner tomorrow, so I hope that’ll clear the air a bit, if I’m not there to confuse things.

How long? Well until those madmen in Berlin come to their senses, so it might be a while. I can’t see it happening, can you? The insane have taken over the asylum, don’t you think?

Yes, I agree love, politics is such a bore, but when they start smashing up jewellers’ shops, stealing stuff, and getting away with it . . .

Oh, didn’t you hear? That Mr Jacob. Apparently he’s taking the SA to court, but I don’t fancy his chances, do you? His partner’s a non-Jew, actually an SA member, so that might count in his favour. They’re saying he provoked them, by shouting abuse . . .

Yes, well, you’ve got to keep your head down, that’s what I always say. They’re a law unto themselves.

Anyway, back to your big brother. Can I tell him to call you, if he needs to talk?

No, I don’t think you’ll need to come in. The apartment’s a bit on the large side for a man living alone, but I’m sure he will cope.

If you do come in, you’d better leave his workroom to Ida to deal with, she knows what’s to be done. I find her pretty intelligent, and he’s used to her. She knows his funny ways.

Can you please keep an eye on his suits and remind him to go to his tailor, he’s ordered a new overcoat. He’ll need it, if this cold weather doesn’t let up.

And do see that his bedroom’s properly heated, he likes sleeping with the window open and it’s too cold.

Forgive me, love, but I must ring off now.

I’m very grateful to you, Gertrud, for being so understanding.

We’ll write to each other, won’t we? Let me know how he’s getting on, so I don’t worry.

Yes, that would be wonderful.

Goodbye,

(She hangs up.)

Now, what was I saying. Oh yes:

Fritz, my dear, I think I ought to go away for a short while, just a couple of weeks, perhaps a month or so. Until things calm down. The prof’s coming to dinner tomorrow and I think it’ll be easier for you to sort things out if I’m not there, confusing the issue.

I only hope he’ll understand I’m not leaving him for good. Well . . . I hope not, anyway.

I better call Anna.

(She calls another number.)

(FX: Telephone dial.)

Anna? It’s Judith; look, I’m just off.

No, I don’t think there’s any other way out. Things are getting too difficult. Too difficult!

Well, no, it isn’t Fritz’s idea, he doesn’t know yet, I’ve simply packed my things.

How long? Well, between you and me, my dear, I might never come back. You know the way things are. You heard about poor Mr Jacob? Well, nobody’s come round, smashing our windows, not yet at least. Some of our neighbours have been giving me funny looks, and they used to be so friendly.

That Frau Schultz, she’s the worst, looks right through me. And she used to be so kind. When I lost the baby . . .

And all this hasn’t helped Fritz and me. He doesn’t talk much, but I know he’s worried sick.

Yes, we ought to have talked about it, but you know the way he is. On top he seems so calm, but underneath . . . a raging volcano. Very bourgeois. Bottles it all up.

I’m expecting him at any moment, and I’ll try to explain it to him then.

Thanks, love, there’s a dear. If you could please keep an eye on him. You and Hans are our closest friends after all.

I’d like to have come and said goodbye to you, but it’s your concierge, you know. He’s one of them, I’m sure.

So, goodbye; no, don’t come to the station, that’s not a good idea. Someone might see you.

Goodbye, I’ll write.

That’s a promise.

(Noise of door opening, footsteps down the hall)

FRITZ

(Calls)

Hello, Judith. I’m home.

(Astonished)

What on earth are you doing? Are you going away?

JUDITH

Fritz, you must let me go; you can’t keep . . .

I’ll be your downfall, it’s quite clear; I know you aren’t a coward, you’re not scared of the police, but there are worse things. They won’t put you in a camp, but if I stay they might ban you from the clinic. It could happen any day now. You don’t say much, but I know it’s making you ill.

FRITZ

But Judith, my dear. Nothing they do can affect us, not here at home. I haven’t . . .

JUDITH

Don’t tell me you haven’t changed; you have! Only last week you established quite objectively that the proportion of Jewish scientists wasn’t all that high. Objectivity is always the start of it, and why do you keep telling me I’ve never been such a Jewish chauvinist till now?

Of course I’m one. Chauvinism is catching. Oh, Fritz, what has happened to us?

FRITZ

I’m sure we can work it out.

JUDITH

Can we, Fritz? Can we really? Are you sure?

(FX: Car horn.)

That’ll be my taxi. I’m catching the nine o’clock, the train to Amsterdam.

Could you pass me the fur, dear? I don’t know how cold it’ll be in Holland.

(FX: kissing noise.)

Bye, my dear. I’ve asked the cook to prepare schnitzel for tomorrow night, when the prof comes. Lotte and Max are coming, so you’ll have some space to sort things out.

Oh, and can you burn this book, with all my telephone numbers in it?

You can’t be too careful, these days, can you? Who knows, there might be a vacancy for a clinician in Holland, and we could be together again.

If not, well . . .

(FX: car horn)

I’d better go, or I’ll miss the train. I love you.

Liebling.

2.    In Henry’s Diner

A play for radio inspired by scenes from the writings of Ernest Hemingway: primarily Men Without Women and A Farewell to Arms

NARRATOR

I’m sitting in a bar, on 52nd Street,
Sitting in a bar, thinking.
I’m sitting in a bar, on 52nd Street,
Sitting in a bar, drinking.
Thinking of war, drinking to stop myself wond’ring what for.
Thinking one thought, as traffic passes by.
Thinking:
We must love one another, or we die.

(GRAMS: Dooley Wilson: As Time Goes By)

(Subdued chatter in the diner. Door pings and noise of traffic in the street outside as the two men enter. Chatter and music stops abruptly)

GEORGE

Afternoon, gents. What’s yours?

MAX

I don’t know. What do you want to eat, Al?

AL

I don’t know. I don’t know what I want to eat. Say, what time do you have, Max?

MAX

Goddam watch has stopped. Clock there says it’s twenny-past five.

(To George)

I’ll have a roast pork tenderloin with apple sauce and mashed potatoes.

GEORGE

It isn’t ready yet.

MAX

What the hell do you put it on the card for?

GEORGE

That’s the dinner. You can get that at six o’clock. It’s only five now.

AL

The clock says twenty minutes after five.

GEORGE

It’s twenty minutes fast.

AL

Give me the chicken croquettes with green peas and cream sauce and mashed potatoes.

GEORGE

That’s the dinner.

AL

Everything we want’s the dinner, eh? That’s the way you work it?

GEORGE

I can give you ham and eggs, bacon and eggs, liver . . .

AL

I’ll take ham and eggs.

MAX

Give me bacon and eggs.

AL

Got anything to drink?

GEORGE

Silver beer, bevo, ginger-ale.

AL

I mean you got anything to drink goddammit? Scotch? Rye?

GEORGE

Just those I said.

MAX

This sure is a hot town. What do they call it?

GEORGE

Summit.

AL (to Max)

Ever hear of it?

MAX

No.

AL

What do you do here nights?

MAX

They eat the dinner. They all come here and eat the big dinner.

GEORGE

That’s right.

AL

So you think that’s right?

GEORGE

Sure.

AL

You’re a pretty bright boy, aren’t you?

GEORGE

Sure.

MAX

Well, you’re not. Is he, Al?

AL

He’s dumb

(Shouts)

Hey you, at the end of the bar. What’s your name?

NICK

Adams.

AL

Another bright boy. Ain’t he a bright boy, Max?

MAX

Town’s full of bright boys.

I’ll have ham and eggs.

Just a bright boy.

(Quiet for moment, then. . .)

What are you looking at? You, behind the bar.

GEORGE

Nothing.

MAX

The hell you were. You were looking at me.

AL

Maybe the boy meant it for a joke, Max.

(George laughs, humourlessly)

MAX

You don’t have to laugh. Nothing’s funny. You don’t have to laugh at all, see?

GEORGE

All right.

MAX

So he thinks it’s all right. He thinks it’s all right. That’s a good one.

AL

Oh, he’s a thinker.

(They continue eating.)

What’s the bright boy’s name down the counter?

(Shouts)

Hey, bright boy. You go around on the other side of the counter with your boyfriend.

NICK

What’s the idea?

MAX

There isn’t any idea.

AL

You better go around, bright boy.

NICK

OK, OK.

GEORGE

What’s the big idea?

AL

None of your damn business. Who’s out in the kitchen?

GEORGE

The cook.

AL

Tell him to come in.

GEORGE

What’s the idea?

AL

Just tell him to come in, goddammit!

GEORGE

Where the hell do you think you are?

MAX

We know damn well where we are. Do we look stupid or what?

AL

You talk silly. What the hell do you argue with this kid for?

Listen, you, just tell the goddam cook to come out here.

GEORGE

What are you going to do to him?

AL

Nothing. Use your head, bright boy. What would we do to a goddam cook?

GEORGE

(Shouts)

Sam, come out here a minute.

SAM

What was it?

AL

All right, nigger. You stand right there.

SAM

Who’re you calling a nigger, goddammit?

GEORGE

Just do what the man says, Sam.

SAM

Yes, sir.

AL

I’m going back to the kitchen with the nigger and bright boy.

Go on back to the kitchen, nigger. You go with him, bright boy.

MAX

Well, bright boy, why don’t you say something?

NICK

What’s this all about?

MAX

(Shouts)

Hey, Al, bright boy wants to know what it’s all about.

AL

(Voice from the kitchen)

Why don’t you tell him?

MAX

What do you think it’s all about?

GEORGE

I don’t know.

MAX

What do you think?

GEORGE

I couldn’t say.

MAX

(Shouts)

Hey, Al, bright boy says he couldn’t say what he thinks it’s all about.

AL

No need to shout, Max. I can hear you, all right. If we keep the hatch open we can hear each other fine.

Listen, bright boy. Stand a little farther along the bar. You move a little to the left, Max.

MAX

You gonna take a snapshot, or what?

Talk to me, bright boy. What do you think’s going to happen?

(George does not answer.)

I’ll tell you. We’re going to kill a Swede. Do you know a big Swede named Ole Andreson?

GEORGE

Yes.

MAX

He comes here to eat every night, don’t he?

GEORGE

Sometimes he comes here, yeah.

MAX

He comes here at six o’clock, don’t he?

GEORGE

Yeah, if he comes.

MAX

We know all about that, bright boy

Let’s talk about something else. Ever go to the movies?’

GEORGE

Once in a while. I got to be here, most nights.

MAX

You ought to go to the movies more. The movies are fine for a bright boy like you.

GEORGE

What are you going to kill Ole Andreson for? What did he ever do to you?

MAX

He never had a chance to do anything to us. He ain’t never even seen us.

AL

(From the kitchen)

And he’s only going to see us once.

GEORGE

What are you going to kill him for, then?

MAX

We’re killing him for a friend. Just to oblige a friend, bright boy.

AL

(From the kitchen)

Shut up, Max. You talk too goddam much.

MAX

Well, I got to keep bright boy amused. Don’t I, bright boy?

AL

You talk too damn much. The nigger and my bright boy are amused by themselves. I got them tied up like a couple of girl friends in the convent.

MAX

I suppose you were in a convent?

AL

You never know.

MAX

You were in a kosher convent. That’s where you were.

I see you lookin’ at the clock, bright boy.

Anybody comes in, you tell them the cook is off, and if they keep after it, you tell them you’ll go back and cook yourself. Do you get that, bright boy?’

GEORGE

All right. What you going to do with us afterwards?

MAX

That’ll depend. That’s one of those things you never know at the time.

GEORGE

It’s a quarter past six. People be coming in for a meal any time now. Matter of fact, here comes one now.

(Door pings. Brief burst of traffic noise.)

Hiya Joe!

JOE

Hello, George. Can I get supper?

GEORGE

Sam’s gone out. He’ll be back in about half an hour.

JOE

I better go up the street. I only gotta short supper break before I’m back on.

(Door pings as before. Brief burst of traffic noise.)

MAX

That was nice, bright boy. You’re a regular little gentleman.

AL

He knew I’d blow his fool head off.

MAX

No, It ain’t that. Bright boy is nice. He’s a nice boy. I like him.

What’s the time by your fool clock, bright boy?

GEORGE

Six fifty-five. He’s not coming.

MAX

Bright boy can do everything. He can cook, tell the time, and everything. You’d make some girl a nice wife, bright boy.

GEORGE

Yes? Well your friend, Ole Andreson, isn’t going to come.

MAX:

We’ll give him ten minutes.

(A pause.)

It’s seven o’clock, now. Come on, Al. We better go. He’s not coming.

AL

Better give him five minutes.

(A customer enters)

CUSTOMER

What’s good tonight, George?

GEORGE

Nuttin’. Cook’s sick.

CUSTOMER

Why the hell don’t you get another cook? Aren’t you supposed to be running a lunch-counter?

MAX

Come on, Al.

AL

What about the two bright boys and the nigger?

MAX

They’re all right.

AL

You think so?

MAX

Sure. We’re through with it, here.

AL

I don’t like it. It’s sloppy. You talk too much.

MAX

Oh, what the hell. We got to keep ourselves amused, don’t we?

AL

That’s the truth. You ought to play the races, bright boy.

(They leave. Doorbell pings and traffic noise rises as the door opens, then dies down as it closes.)

GEORGE

Sit still, you two, while I untie you.

SAM

I don’t want any more of that. I don’t want any more of that.

NICK

(With false courage)

What the hell!

GEORGE

They were going to kill Ole Andreson. They were going to shoot him when he came in to eat.

NICK

Ole Andreson?

GEORGE

Sure.

SAM

They all gone?

GEORGE

Yeah, they’re gone now.

SAM

I don’t like it. I don’t like any of it at all!

GEORGE

Listen, Nick. You better go see Ole Andreson. Tell him two guys are lookin’ fer him. Killers, most like.

NICK

All right!

SAM

You better not have anything to do with it at all. You better stay way out of it.

GEORGE

Don’t go if you don’t want to.

SAM

Mixing up in this ain’t gonna get you anywhere.

You stay out of it.

NICK

I’ll go see him. Where does he live?

SAM

Little boys always know what they want to do.

GEORGE

He lives over to Hirsch’s rooming-house.

NICK

I’ll go up there.

(Doorbell tings and street noise rises as Nick leaves the eating house.

(Enter a young couple. They are talking as they enter.)

GIRL

I feel like a drink.

MAN

Me too.

GIRL

What should we drink?

MAN

It’s pretty hot. Let’s drink beer.

(To George)

Dos cervezas, por favór.

GEORGE

Two beers?

MAN

Si, señor.

GEORGE

Big ones?

MAN

Si. Two big ones. Cold ones.

(To the girl)

What’re you lookin’ at, darling?

GIRL

I’m looking out the door. See that line of hills. They’re white in the sun but the country is so brown and dry.

They look like white elephants.

MAN

(As he drinks his beer)

I’ve never seen a white elephant.

GIRL

No, you wouldn’t have. They have them in Siam, sacred animals.

MAN

Well, I might have seen them. Just because you say I wouldn’t have doesn’t prove anything.

GIRL

I’m looking at this bead curtain. They’ve painted something on it. What does it say?

MAN

Anis del Toro. It’s a drink.

GIRL

Could we try it?

MAN

If you like.

(Shouts)

Listen.

We want two Anis del Toro.

GEORGE

With water?

MAN

Do you want it with water?

GIRL

I don’t know. Is it good with water?

MAN

Yes, with water.

GIRL

It tastes like liquorice.

MAN

That’s the way with everything.

GIRL

Yes. Everything tastes of liquorice: Especially all the things you’ve waited so long for; like absinthe.

MAN

(Irritated)

Oh, cut it out.

GIRL

You started it. I was being amused. I was having a fine time.

MAN

Well, let’s try and have a fine time.

GIRL

All right. I was trying. I said the hills looked like white elephants. Wasn’t that bright?

MAN

That was bright.

GIRL

I wanted to try this new drink. That’s all we do, isn’t it – look at things and try new drinks?

MAN

I guess so.

GIRL

They’re lovely hills. They don’t really look like white elephants. I just meant the colouring of their skin through the trees.

Should we have another drink?

MAN

All right.

(Changing the subject, dropping his voice almost to a whisper.)

It’s really an awfully simple operation, honey. It’s not really an operation at all. They call it a procedure.

GIRL

I think I’d rather not talk about it. Makes me sick, just thinking about. Specially here, where people can listen in. It’s a very private thing.

MAN

I know you wouldn’t mind it, honey. It’s really not anything. It’s just to let the air in.

I’ll go with you and I’ll stay with you all the time. They just let the air in and then it’s all perfectly natural.

GIRL

And you think then we’ll be all right and be happy.

MAN

I know we will. You don’t have to be afraid. I’ve known lots of people that have had it done.

GIRL

So have I. And afterwards they were all so happy.

MAN

Well, if you don’t want to, you don’t have to. I wouldn’t have you do it if you didn’t want to. But I know it’s perfectly simple.

GIRL

And you really want me to?

MAN

I think it’s the best thing to do. But I don’t want you to do it if you don’t really want to.

GIRL

And if I do it you’ll be happy and things will be like they were and you’ll love me?

MAN

I love you now. You know I love you.

GIRL

I know you do. But if I do it, then it will be nice again if I say things are like hills look like white elephants, and you’ll like it?

MAN

I’ll love it. I love it now but I just can’t think about it. You know how I get when I worry.

GIRL

If I do it you won’t ever worry?

MAN

I won’t worry about that because it’s perfectly simple.

GIRL

Then I’ll do it. Because I don’t care about me.

MAN

What do you mean?

GIRL

I just don’t care about me.

MAN

Well, I care about you.

GIRL

Oh, yes. But I don’t care about me. And I’ll do it and then everything will be fine.

MAN

I don’t want you to do it if you feel that way.

(High heels walking from left to right)

Hey, where’re you going?

GIRL

Just looking, that’s all. I can see fields of grain and trees along the banks of the river. Then far away, beyond the river, there are mountains. There’s the shadow of a cloud moving across the field of grain and I can see the river through the trees. The sun’s going down and I expect the moon’ll be up, real soon.

MAN

Yeah, the sun’s going down. It’ll soon be dark, and we won’t see anything.

GIRL

(Ignoring his interruption)

We could have all this. We could have everything.

MAN

Yes.

GIRL

And every day we make it more impossible.

MAN

What did you say?

GIRL

I said we could go everywhere.

MAN

No, you didn’t. And no, we can’t. It isn’t ours any more.

GIRL

It’s ours.

MAN

No, it isn’t. And once they take it away, you never get it back.

GIRL

But they haven’t taken it away.

MAN

But they will. Just you wait. Just you wait and see.

GIRL

You’re just saying that to make me feel bad. And I was enjoying the view, the hills like white elephants and all.

MAN

I don’t want you to feel bad. Come on back from the window, into the shade. You mustn’t feel that way.

GIRL

I don’t feel any way. I just know things.

And I know you want me to . . .

MAN

(Interrupting her)

I don’t want you to do anything that you don’t want to do.

GIRL

Nor anything that isn’t good for me. I know. Could we have another beer?

MAN

All right. But you’ve got to realize . . .

GIRL

I realize fine. Can we please maybe stop talking about it?

I’m going to sit down here at this table and I’m going to look across at the hills on the dry side of the valley and you . . .

MAN

Yes?

GIRL

Oh, I dunno. You get me so mixed up. Do what you want for God’s sake!

MAN

You’ve got to realize that I don’t want you to do it if you don’t want to. I’m perfectly willing to go through with it if it means anything to you.

GIRL

Doesn’t it mean anything to you? We could get along.

MAN

Of course it does. But I don’t want anybody but you. I don’t want anyone else. I don’t want anyTHING else. And we both know it’s perfectly simple.

GIRL

Yes, you know it’s perfectly simple.

MAN

It’s all right for you to say that, but I do know it.

GIRL

Would you do something for me now? Please, pretty please?

MAN

I’d do anything for you.

GIRL

Would you please shut the fuck up about it? Would you please please please please please please please stop talking?

Would you do that for me. Please?

MAN

Yes, I’ll do that for you. I’ll pick up our bags and cross over to the train station and put them on the train.

But please remember I don’t want you to do it, not necessarily. I don’t care anything about it. Please remember that.

GIRL

I’ll scream.

MAN

Please don’t. I’m taking the bags over to the other side of the station.

GIRL

Yes, please do that small thing for me. All right, OK? Then come back and we’ll finish our beers.

MAN

What about the anis?

GIRL

The licorice? You can finish it if you like. It makes me feel nauseous.

MAN

Will you feel better then?

GIRL

I feel fine. There’s nothing wrong with me. I feel fine.

(Doorbell pings, traffic noise rises and subsides as the Priest enters with Rinaldi)

RINALDI

(Italian accent; in the middle of a conversation)

He thinks he has syphilis. I don’t think he has it, but he may have. Some of these dames . . .

PRIEST

I don’t want to know about dames.

RINALDI

(Laughs)

No, I suppose you don’t, Father. You could say a prayer for him.

PRIEST

Here?

RINALDI

Why not. Doesn’t it say to pray at all times and in all places?

PRIEST

I think that’s the Protestants. We have to do it when we say mass.

RINALDI

I don’t think he goes to mass.

PRIEST

He should come to confession. You, too, Rinaldi.

RINALDI

I lost my faith at Hue.

PRIEST

Was that tough?

RINALDI

Rugged. Charlie was all over us. Lost a lot of buddies.

PRIEST

They say there’s no atheists in foxholes.

RINALDI

Not true. That’s where God looked away.

PRIEST

Don’t be like that. He never looks away.

RINALDI

Sometimes I wish he would. I seen things . . .

PRIEST

So how are you, really?

RINALDI

Tired. I’m so fucking tired.

PRIEST

Is it the war?

RINALDI

Who can say? It just goes on and on. As if it will never end.

PRIEST

I think it will end soon. I don’t know why, but that’s the way I feel.

RINALDI

I forgot. You were out there too.

PRIEST

Yes. People here can’t understand the way it’s been.

RINALDI

I can’t understand the way it’s been. I mean, why do we want that fucking country – saving your presence, Father, but I get so worked up, just thinking about it – what the hell are we doing there?

PRIEST

Hell is right, my son.

RINALDI

So you think it will end soon.

PRIEST

One thing for sure. It can’t go on this way much longer.

RINALDI

So what will happen?

PRIEST

They will stop the fighting.

RINALDI

Just like that?

PRIEST

Just like that.

RINALDI

Won’t there have to be some kind of a peace conference?

PRIEST

No need. They’ll airlift everyone out. Finito!

RINALDI

But the TV says we’re winning.

PRIEST

Believe me, no one is winning. But they have taken the outer suburbs. You can’t go there nights. They control the roads in and out of town.

You see, it is only in defeat people become Christians. When there is nowhere else to go. Like your friend with his syphilis. It is a sickness.

RINALDI

But Christ’s disciples ran away when he was taken.

PRIEST

True enough. Peter was a broken reed. I sometimes ask myself, would it have been any different if he’d fought to stop them taking Jesus in the garden?

RINALDI

And?

PRIEST

I don’t think it would have been any different. But this war, this is different. Those peasants, they are defeating the most powerful army on the planet. We are beaten, Rinaldi, like your friend with his syphilis. He’s got to stop going with whores, and our army has got to stop trying to defeat peasants fighting on their own land.

Listen, we were defeated when we relocated them, took them off their farms and imprisoned them in camps.

RINALDI

That was our strategy for victory.

PRIEST

The peasant has wisdom because he is defeated on the day he was born. Give him a sub-machine gun and his wisdom bursts out of his gun-barrel. He thinks he’s an atheist but he isn’t. Atheists can’t be defeated, because they think they know everything.

RINALDI

Like your pope, they’re infallible. Forgive me father, but that’s the way I see it.

PRIEST

No need to apologise. I thought the same way back then, when I saw them loading the body bags on to the helicopters. Those peasants, they think they’re Buddhists, but they’re children of God. Like you and me, Rinaldi, like you and me.

RINALDI

And they’re winning?

PRIEST

Not really. But we are losing.

RINALDI

I think you’re right.

GEORGE

Will you take a drink, Father? On the house.

PRIEST

No. Thank you my son,  but I got to be out on my rounds first thing. Up at six, crack of dawn.

RINALDI

I’ll have a beer, please.

GEORGE

Coming up.

PRIEST

Good night, my son.

(Door pings, traffic noise as before as Nick re-enters the diner.)

NICK

Excuse me, Father. I didn’t see you.

GEORGE

Hey, Nick. How’d you get on? Did you see Ole?

NICK

Yes. He’s in his room and he won’t come out.

SAM

I don’t even wanna listen to this. Those guys were bad news.

GEORGE

Did you tell him about them?

NICK

Sure I did. I told him but he knows what it’s all about.

GEORGE

What’s he going to do?

NICK

Nothing.

GEORGE

They’ll kill him.

NICK

I guess they will.

GEORGE

He must have got mixed up in something in Chicago.

NICK

I guess so. It’s an awful thing.

I wonder what he did?

GEORGE

Double-crossed somebody. That’s what they kill them for.

NICK

I’m going to get out of this town.

GEORGE

Yes. That’s a good thing to do.

NICK

I just can’t stand to think about him waiting in the room and knowing he’s going to get it. It’s too damned awful.

GEORGE

Well you better not think about it.

NICK

Yeah.

GEORGE

So what’d he say?

NICK

Not much. Just lay on his bed, face turned to the wall.

GEORGE

Didn’t he know about the killers?

NICK

He knew all right. I don’t think he thought there was much he could do about it.

GEORGE

He could of got out of town. I know I would.

NICK

I told him I’d been up here at the eating house. Two fellows came in. They tied me up and the cook too, said they were going to kill him when he came in to his supper.

GEORGE

What’d he say to that?

NICK

Said there wasn’t anything he could do about it.

I said I could tell him what they looked like, their brown derbies and tight topcoats and stuff.

GEORGE

And?

NICK

Said he didn’t want to know what they looked like.

GEORGE

You could of told him to go to the police for protection.

NICK

I did tell him that. Said it wouldn’t do any good.

GEORGE

Perhaps it was just a bluff, those two guys pulling our chain.

NICK

Yeah, I told him that, but I didn’t really believe it.

GEORGE

No more did I.

NICK

He said it wasn’t a bluff.

GEORGE

It was me, I’d be out of town on the next train out. Hitch a ride if I couldn’t raise the fare.

NICK

He said he was through with running.

GEORGE

So he was just laying there, waiting for the killers to pop him in his bed?

NICK

Yeah, said he was trying to make up his mind to go out, but it didn’t seem like he could get up the effort. Just lay there on his bed, face turned to the wall.

Thanked me for coming round was all.

GEORGE

Did you see the broad owns the flop, that Mrs Hirsch?

NICK

Nope. I saw this other woman, called herself Mrs Bell, looked like a cleaning lady. She looks after the place while that Mrs Hirsch’s away.

GEORGE

What she say about old Ole?

NICK

Said he was a nice guy. Used to be a prize fighter.

GEORGE

Could have been a contender.

NICK

She didn’t say that, just that he used to fight. Talked about the way his face got messed up in the ring.

GEORGE

Yeah. Bet he was a handsome Swede, that blond hair and all, before he got all punched up.

NICK

She said, this Mrs Bell, she said:

WOMAN’S VOICE

He’s been in his room all day. I guess he don’t feel well. I said to him: “Mr Andreson, you ought to go out and take a walk on a nice fall day like this,” but he didn’t feel like it.

NICK

So he’s just lying there on that bed, waiting to die.

GEORGE

Well that’s all we can ever do, come to think of it, Nick. In the end we’re all fixin’ to die.

NICK

That’s a pretty grim philosophy, George.

GEORGE

But ain’t it the truth?

NICK

Guess so. “All fixin’ to die”. Guess so.

CUSTOMER

If you guys have finished shooting the breeze, perhaps you could put a nickel in the jukebox.

CHORUS OF CUSTOMERS

Play it again Sam.

SAM

I don’t do the jukebox. I’m the cook.

GEORGE

Go on. Play it, Sam.

SAM

OK George, just for you.

NICK

And for Ole Andreson, laying on the bed at Mrs Hirst’s flop, fixin’ to die.

GEORGE

Yeah.

(GRAMS: Dooley Wilson: As Time Goes By)

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