A small country shop on the island of Inishmaan circa
1934. Door in
right wall. Counter along back, behind which hang shelves of canned
goods, mostly peas. An old dusty cloth sack hangs to the right of
these, and to the left a doorway leads off to an unseen back room. A
mirror hangs on the left wall and a table and chair are situated a few
yards away from it. As the play begins, Eileen Osbourne, late sixties,
is placing some more cans onto the shelves. Her sister Kate enters from
the back room.
KATE: Is Billy not yet home?
EILEEN: Not yet is Billy home.
KATE: I do worry awful about Billy when he's late returning home.
EILEEN: I banged me arm on a can of peas worrying about Cripple Billy.
KATE: Was it your bad arm?
E.EN: No, it was me other arm.
KATE: It would have been worse if you'd banged your bad arm.
EILEEN: It would have been worse, although it still hurt.
KATE: Now you have two bad arms.
EILEEN: Well, I have one bad arm and one arm with a knock.
KATE: The knock will go away.
EILEEN: The knock will go away.
KATE: And you'll be left with the one bad arm.
EILEEN: The one bad arm will never go away.
KATE: Until the day you die.
EILEEN: I should think about poor Billy, who has not only
bad arms but
bad legs too.
KATE: Billy has a host of troubles.
EILEEN: Billy has a hundred troubles.
KATE: What time was this his appointment with McSharry
was and his
EIlEEN: I don't know what time.
KATE: I do worry awful about Billy when he's late in returning,
ElLEEN: Already once you've said that sentence.
KATE: Am I not allowed to repeat me sentences so when I'm worried.
PT.FEN: You are allowed.
KATE: (Pause) Billy may've fell down a hole with them feet of his.
Er.EN: Billy has sense enough not to fall down holes,
sure. That's more
like something Bartley McCormick'd do is fall down holes.
KATE: Do you remember the time Bartley McCormick fell down the hole?
EILEEN: Bartley McCormick's an awful thick.
KATE: He's either a thick or he doesn't look where he's
(Pause) Has the egg-man been?
EILEEN: He has but he had no eggs.
KATE: A waste of time him coming, so.
EILEEN: Well it was nice of him to come and not have us
eggs that would never arrive.
KATE: If only Billy would pay us the same courtesy. Not
with eggs but
to come home quick and not have us worrying.
EILEEN: Maybe Billy stopped to look at a cow like the other time.
KATE: A fool waste of time that is, looking at cows.
EILEEN: If it makes him happy, sure, what harm? There
are a hundred
worse things to occupy a lad's time than cowwatching. Things would land
him up in hell. Not just late for his tea.
KATE: Kissing lasses.
EILEEN: Kissing lasses.
KATE: (Pause) Ah, no chance of that with poor Billy.
EILEEN: Poor Billy'll never be getting kissed. Unless
it was be a blind
KATE: A blind girl or a backward girl.
EN: Or Jim Finnegan's daughter.
KATE: She'd kiss anything.
EILEEN: She'd kiss a bald donkey.
KATE: She'd kiss a bald donkey. And she'd still probably
draw the line
at Billy. Poor Billy.
EILEEN: A shame too.
KATE: A shame too, because Billy does have a sweet face
if you ignore
the rest of him.
EILEEN: Well he doesn't really.
KATE: He has a bit of a sweet face.
EILEEN: Well he doesn't really, Kate.
KATE: Or his eyes, I'm saying. They're nice enough.
EILEEN: Not being cruel to Billy but you'd see nicer eyes
on a goat. If
he had a nice personality you'd say all well and good, but all Billy
has is he goes around staring at cows.
KATE: I'd like to ask him one day what good he gets, staring at cows.
EILEEN: Staring at cows and reading books then.
KATE: No one'll ever marry him. We'll be stuck with him
till the day we
EILEEN: We will. (Pause) I don't mind being stuck with him.
KATE: I don't mind being stuck with him. Billy's a good
despiting the cows.
EILEEN: I hope that the news from McSharry was nothing to worry o'er.
KATE: I hope he gets home soon and not have us worrying.
I do worry
awful when Billy's late in returning.
The shop door opens and Johnnypateenmike, an old man of
about the same
age as them, enters.
JOHNNY: How is all?Johnnypateenmike does have three pieces
of news to
be telling ye this day . . .
KATE: You didn't see Cripple Billy on your travels now, Johnnypateen?
JOHNNY: (Pause. Put out.) You have interrupted me pieces
of news now,
Mrs. Osbourne, and the third piece of news was a great piece of news,
but if you want to interrupt me with fool questions so be it. Aye, I
saw Cripple Billy on me travels. I saw him sitting on the hedgebank,
the bottom of Darcy's fields.
KATE: What was he doing sitting on the hedgebank?
JOHNNY: Well what does he usually be doing? He was looking
at a cow. Do
ye have any more interruptions?
KATE: (Sadly) We don't.
JOHNNY: I will get on with me three pieces of news so.
I will leave me
best piece of news 'til the end so's you will be waiting for it. Me
first piece of news, a fella o'er in Lettermore stole a book out of
another fella's house and pegged it in the sea then.
EILEEN: Sure that's no news at all, sure.
JOHNNY: I suppose it's not, now, only that the fella was
fella's brother and the book he pegged was the Holy Bible! Eh? !
KATE: Lord save us!
JOHNNY: Now is that no news at all?!
EILEEN: That is news, Johnnypateen, and big news.
JOHNNY: I know well it's big news, and if I have any more
how big me news is I'll be off on the road for meself to somewhere me
news is more appreciated.
EILEEN: Your news is appreciated, Jahnnypateenmike.
KATE: We never once doubted how big your news was, Johnnypateen.
JOHNNY: Me second piece of news, Jack Ellery's goose bit
Brennan's cat on the tail and hurt that tail and Jack Ellery didn't
even apologise for that goose's biting, and now Patty Brennan doesn't
like Jack Ellery at all and Patty and Jack used to be great friends. Oh
EILEEN: (Pause) Is that the end of that piece of news?
JOHNNY: That is the end of that piece of news.
EILEEN: (Pause) Oh that's an awful big piece of news that is. Oh aye.
Eileen rolls her eyes to the ceiling.
JOHNNY: That is an awful big piece of news. That goose
might start a
feud. I hope that goose does start a feud. I like a feud.
KATE: I hope Patty and Jack do put it behind them and
make up. Didn't
they used walk hand-in-hand to school as ladeens?
JOHNNY: There's a woman speaking if ever I heard one.
What news is
there in putting things behind ya? No news. You want a good feud, or at
least a bible pegged about, or a thing like me third piece of news,
which is about the biggest piece of news Johnnypateenmike has ever had
. . .
Billy, seventeen, one arm and one leg crippled, enters, shuffling.
BILLY: I'm sorry I'm late, Aunty Kate and Aunty Eileen.
interrupted me news-telling, Cripple Billy.
KATE: What did the doctor say to you, Billy?
BILLY: He said there was nothing on me chest at all but
a bit of a
wheeze and nothing but a bit of a wheeze.
JOHNNY: I didn't hear the lad had a wheeze. Why wasn't
KATE: Why are you so late home so, Billy? We was worried.
BILLY: Oh I just had a sit-down for meself in the sun
there at Darcy's
KATE: A sit-down and did what?
BILLY: A sit-down and did nothing.
KATE: Did nothing at all?
BILLY: Did nothing at all.
KATE: (To Johnny) Now!
BILLY: Nothing at all but look at a couple of cows came over to me.
Kate turns away from him.
JOHNNY: (To Kate) Now who's nowing?! Eh?!
EILEEN: Can't you just leave cows alone, Billy?
BILLY: I was just looking at them cows.
KATE: There's nothing to see in cows! You're a grown man!
BILLY: Well I like looking at a nice cow, and I won't
let anybody tell
me the differ.
JOHNNY: (Screaming) If ye don't want to hear me news I'll
take it and
go!! Talking about cows with a fecking eej!
BILLY: A fecking eej, is it?
ElLEEN: Tell us your news, now, Johnnypateenmike.
JOHNNY: If ye've finished with the cow-talk I'll tell
you me news,
although I'm sure I'd get a better audience for it from fried winkles.
KATE: We're a good audience for it . . .
EILEEN: We're a good audience for it . . .
BILLY: Don't pander to him.
JOHNNY: Pander, is it, Cripple Billy?
BILLY: And don't call me Cripple Billy, you.
JOHNNY: For why? Isn't your name Billy and aren't you a cripple?
BILLY: Well do I go calling you "Johnnypateenmike
with the news that's
so boring it'd bore the head off a dead bee"?
JOHNNY: Boring is it? How is this for boring news so . . .
BILLY: At least you do agree it's boring news anyways.
JOHNNY: (Pause) From Hollywood, California, in America
led be a Yank be the name of Robert Flaherty, one of the most famous
and richest Yanks there is. Coming there to Inishmore they're coming
and why are they coming? I'll tell you why they're coming. To go making
a moving picture film will cost o'er a million dollars, will be shown
throughout the world, will show life how it's lived on the islands,
will make film stars of whosoever should be chose to take part in it
and will take them back to Hollywood then and be giving them a life
free of work, or anyways only acting work which couldn't be called work
at all, it's only talking. Colman King I know already they've chosen
for a role, and a hundred dollars a week he's on, and if Colman King
can play a role in a film anybody can play a role in a film, for Colman
King is as ugly as a brick of baked shite and everybody agrees, and
excuse me language but I'm only being descriptive. A little exodus
Johnnypateenmike foresees to the big island so, of any lasses or lads
in these parts with the looks of a film star about them, wants to make
their mark in America. That rules out all in this household, I know, it
goes without saying, unless of course it's cripples and ingrates
they're looking for. Me in me younger days they'd've been sure to've
took, what with me blue eyes and me fine head of hair, and probably
still today they'd be after taking me, what with me fine oratory skills
could outdo any beggar the Dublin stage, only, as ye know, I have me
drunkard mammy to look after. The Man of Aran they're going calling the
film, and Ireland mustn't be such a bad place so if the Yanks want to
come to Ireland to do their filming.
Billy sits on the side-table, deep in thought.
JOHNNY: That was Johnnypateenmike's third piece of news
and I'll ask
you now, bad-leg boy, if that was a boring piece of news?
BILLY: That wasn't nearly a boring piece of news. That
was the biggest
piece of news I did ever hear.
JOHNNY: Well if we've agreed on the bigness of me news
. bigness isn't
a word, I know, but I can't be bothered to think of a better one for
the likes of ye . . . I will take me payment in kind for that piece of
big news, and me payment today will be a small boxeen of eggs for I do
fancy an omelette, I do.
JOHNNY: What "oh"!
EILEEN: The egg-man came and he had no eggs.
JOHNNY: No eggs?! I've gave you me big piece of news on
top of me two
smaller but almost as good pieces of news and ye've no eggs?!
EILEEN: He said the hens weren't laying and Slippy Helen
only eggs he had.
JOHNNY: What do ye have for me tea so?
EILEEN: We've peas.
JOHNNY: Peas! Sure peas won't go far for a grown man's
tea. Give me
that bit of bacon there, so. That one there.
EILEEN: Which one? The lean one?
JOHNNY: The lean one, aye.
E:LEN: Jeez, your news wasn't that bloody big, Johnnypateen.
stares at them hatefully, then exits, fuming. That fella.
KATE: We oughtn't be getting on his wrong side, now, Eileen.
will we know what's going on in the outside world but for Johnny?
EILEEN: But isn't that the first decent bit of news that
fella's had in
KATE: Aye, and we might miss out on the next bit, now.
EILEEN: Coming with his egg extortions every week.
BILLY: That was an interesting bit of news, aye.
KATE: (Approaching him) You're not usually at all interested
Johnnypats biteens of news, Billy.
BILLY: Not when they're about frogs falling over, no.
about films and getting away from Inishmaan I am, aye.
KATE: You're not thinking about your poor mammy and daddy
BILLY: No, now. I'm just thinking about general things for meself, now.
EILEEN: Is he off again?
KATE: (Sighing) He is.
EILEEN: Off thinking?
KATE: That lad'll never be told.
EILEEN: The doctor didn't look at your head when he looked
chest did he, Billy?
BILLY: (Blankly) No.
EILEEN: I think that's the next thing to go checking out is his head.
KATE: I think that's the next item on the agenda, aye.
The shop door bangs open. Johnny sticks his head in. JOHNNY:
If ye aren't chasing after me I'll take your bloody peas, so!
Eileen hands Johnny a can of peas. Johnny slams the door
on his exit,
Billy not noticing him at all, the women bemused. Blackout.
Bartley, sixteen, at the counter, looking over the penny
sweets in the
two rectangular boxes Eileen is tilting up for him. Billy is sitting on
the chair, reading.
BARTLEY: (Pause) Do ya have any Mintios?
EILEEN: We have only what you see, Bartley McCormick.
BARTLEY: In America they do have Mintios.
EILEEN: Go to America so.
BARTLEY: Me Aunty Mary did send me seven Mintios in a package.
EILEEN: Good on your Aunty Mary.
BARTLEY: From Boston Massachusetts.
EILEEN: From Boston Massachusetts, uh-huh.
BARTLEY: But you have none?
EILEEN: We have only what you see.
BARTLEY: You should get some Mintios really, because Mintios
sweeties. You should order some in. You should get somebody from
America to go sending you some. In a package. Now I'll have to be
taking another look for meself.
EILEEN: Take another look for yourself, aye. Bartley looks
boxes again. Billy smiles at Eileen, who rolls her eyes to the ceiling
and smiles back.
BARTLEY: (Pause) Do ya have any Yalla-mallows? EILEEN:
(Pause) We have
only what you see. BARTLEY: They do have Yalla-mallows in America.
EILEEN: Oh aye, I suppose your Aunty Mary did send you some in a
BARTLEY: No. She sent me a photograph of some in a package.
proper sweeties she sent me were the seven Mintios. (Pause) Really it
would've been better if she'd only sent me four Mintios and then put in
three Yalla-mallows with them, so then I could've had like a selection.
Or three Mintios and four Yalla-mallows. Aye. But, ah, I was happy
enough with the seven Mintios if truth be told. Mintios are nice
sweeties. Although the photograph of the Yalla-mallows did raise me
curiosity about them. (Pause) But you have none?
EILEEN: Yalla-mallows? BARTLEY: Aye. EILEEN: No. BARTLEY: Oh.
EILEEN: We have only what you see.
BARTLEY: I'll have to be taking another look for meself
so. I want
something to go sucking on. For the trip, y'know? BILLY: For what trip,
The shop door bangs open and Helen, a pretty girl of about
enters, shouting at Bartley.
HELEN: Are you fecking coming, you, fecker?! BARTLEY:
I'm picking me
sweeties. HELEN: Oh you and your fecking sweeties! EILEEN: Lasses
HELEN: Lasses swearing, aye, and why shouldn't lasses
be swearing when
it's an hour for their eejit fecking brother it is they're kept
waiting. Hello, Cripple Billy.
BILLY: Hello there, Helen.
HELEN: Is it another oul book you're going reading? BILLY: It is.
HELEN: You never stop, do ya? BILLY: I don't. Or I do
sometimes stop .
. . EIlEEN: I heard you did drop all the eggs on the egg-man the other
day, Helen, broke the lot of them. HELEN: I didn't drop them eggs at
all. I went pegging them at Father Barratt, got him bang in the gob
with fecking four of them. Fn PFN: You went pegging them at Father
Barratt? HELEN: I did. Are you repeating me now, Mrs? EILEEN: Sure,
pegging eggs at a priest, isn't it pure against God?
HELEN: Oh, maybe it is, but if God went touching me arse
practice I'd peg eggs at that fecker too. EILEEN: Father Barratt went
touching your. . behind in choir pr ..
El.tEN: Not me behind, no. Me arse, Mrs. Me arse. EIN:
I don't believe
you at all, Helen McCormick. HELEN: And what the feck d'you think I
care what you believe? BILLY: Helen, now . . .
BARTLEY: The worst part of the entire affair, it was a
sheer waste of
eggs, because I do like a nice egg, I do, oh aye. HELEN: Are you
entering the egg-debate or are you buying your fecking sweeties, you?
BARTLEY: (To Eileen) Do you have any Chocky-top Drops, Mrs?
EILEEN: (Pause) You know what me answer's going to be,
BARTLEY: Your answer's going to be ye have only what I
We're getting somewhere now. BARTLEY: I'll take another look for
meself, so. Helen sighs, idles over to Billy, takes his book from him,
looks at its cover, grimaces and gives it back. BILLY: Are ye going on
a trip, did Bartley say? HELEN: We're sailing o'er to Inishmore to be
in this film they're filming.
BARTLEY: Ireland mustn't be such a bad place, so, if the
Yanks want to
come here to do their filming. HELEN: From the entire of the world they
chose Ireland, sure. BARTLEY: There's a French fella living in Rosmuck
nowadays, d'you know?
EILEEN: Is there?
BARTLEY: What's this, now, that the French fella does
do, Helen? Wasn't
it some funny thing? HELEN: Dentist.
BARTLEY: Dentist. He goes around speaking French at people
everybody just laughs at him. Behind his back, like, y'know?
HELEN: Ireland mustn't be such a bad place if French fellas
live in Ireland.
BILLY: When is it you're going, so, Helen, to the filming?
morning-tide tomorrow we're going. BARTLEY: I can't wait to go acting
in the film. HELEN: You, are you picking or are you talking?
BARTLEY: I'm picking and talking. HELEN: You'll be picking,
having your bollocks kicked for ya if ya back-talk me again, ya feck.
BARTLEY: Oh aye.
BILLY: Sure, why would you think they'd let ye be in the
HELEN: Sure, look at as pretty as I am. If I'm pretty
enough to get
clergymen groping me arse, it won't be too hard to wrap film fellas
round me fingers.
BARTLEY: Sure, getting clergymen groping your arse doesn't
skill. It isn't being pretty they go for. It's more being on your own
HELEN: If it's being on your own and small, why so has
never had his arse groped be priests? BARTLEY: You don't know at all
Cripple Billy's never had his arse groped be priests.
HELEN: Have you ever had your arse groped be priests, Cripple Billy?
BILLY: No. HELEN: Now.
BARTLEY: I suppose they have to draw the line somewhere.
you, you're small and often on your own. Have you ever had your arse
groped be priests? BARTLEY: (Quietly) Not me arse, no. HELEN: D'ya see?
BARTLEY: (To Eileen) Do ya have any Fripple-Frapples,
stares at him, puts the boxes down on the counter and exits into the
back room. Where are you going, Mrs? What about me sweeties, Mrs?
HELEN: You've done it now, haven't ya? BARTLEY: Your oul aunty's a mad
woman, Cripple Billy. HELEN: Mrs. Osbourne isn't Cripple Billy's aunty
at all, anyways. She's only his pretend aunty, same as the other one.
Isn't that right, Billy? BILLY: It is. HELEN: They only took him in
when Billy's mam and dad went and drowned themselves, when they found
out Billy was born a cripple-boy.
BILLY: They didn't go and drowned themselves. HELEN: Oh aye, aye . . .
BILLY: They only fell o'erboard in roughseas. HELEN: Uh-huh.
they doing sailing in rough seas, so, and wasn't it at night-time too?
au.BILLY: Trying to get to America be the mainland they were. HELEN:
No, trying to get away from you they were, be distance or be death, it
made no differ to them. BILLY: Well how the hell would you know when
you were just a babby at the time, the same as me? HELEN: I gave
Johnnypateen a cheesy praitie one time and he told me. Wasn't it him
was left there holding ya, down be the waterside?
BILLY: Well what did he know was in their heads that night?
in that boat.
HELEN: Sure didn't they have a sackful of stones tied
BILLY: That's only pure gossip that they had a sackful
of stones tied
between themselves, and even Johnnypateen agrees on that one . . .
BARTLEY: Maybe he had a telescope. HELEN: Maybe who had
BARTLEY: Maybe Johnnypateenmike had a telescope. HELEN: What differ
would having a telescope have? Bartley thinks, then shrugs. You and
your fecking telescopes. You're always throwing telescopes into the
fecking conversation. BARTLEY: They do have a great array of telescopes
in America now, d'know? You can see a worm a mile away. HELEN: Why
would you want to see a worm a mile away? BARTLEY: To see what he was
up to. HELEN: What do worms usually be up to? BARTLEY: Wriggling.
HELEN: Wriggling. And how much do telescopes cost? BARTLEY:
dollars for a good one. HELEN: So you'd pay twelve dollars to find out
worms go wriggling?
BARTLEY: (Pause) Aye. I would.
HELEN: You don't have twelve hairs on your bollocks, let
BARTLEY: I don't have twelve dollars on me bollocks, no,
there. I saw no sense.
Helen approaches him.
Helen punches him hard in the stomach.
(Winded) Hurt me ribs that punch did.
HELEN: Feck your ribs. Using that kind of fecking language
to me, eh?
(Pause) What was we talking about, Cripple Billy? Oh aye, your dead
mammy and daddy. BILLY: They didn't go drowning themselves because of
me. They loved me.
HELEN: They loved you? Would you love you if you weren't
barely love you and you are you. BARTLEY: ( Winded) At least Cripple
Billy doesn't punch poor lads' ribs for them.
HELEN: No, and why? Because he's too fecking feeble to.
It'd feel like
a punch from a wet goose.
BARTLEY: (Excited) Did ye hear Jack Ellery's goose bit
cat on the tail and hurt that tail . . . HELEN: We did hear.
BARTLEY: Oh. (Pause) And Jack didn't even apologise for
biting and now Patty Brennan . . . HELEN: Didn't I just say we fecking
heard, sure? BARTLEY: I thought Billy mightn't have heard. HELEN: Sure
Billy's busy thinking about his drowned mammy and daddy, Bartley. He
doesn't need any of your days-old goose-news. Aren't you thinking about
your drowned mammy and daddy, Billy. BILLY: I am.
HELEN: You've never been on the sea since the day they
died, have you,
Billy? Aren't you too scared? BILLY: I am too scared. HELEN: What a big
sissy-arse, eh, Bartley? BARTLEY: Sure anybody with a brain is at least
a biteen afraid of the sea.
HELEN: I'm not a biteen afraid of the sea. BARTLEY: Well
there you go,
now. Billy laughs. HELEN: Eh? Was that an insult?!
BARTLEY: How would that be an insult, saying you're not
afraid of the
HELEN: Why did Cripple Billy laugh so? BARTLEY: Cripple
laughed cos he's an odd boy. Isn't that right, Cripple Billy? BILLY: It
is, aye. Oh plain odd I am. Helen pauses, confused BARTLEY: Is it true
you got nigh on a hundred pounds insurance when your mammy and daddy
drowned, Billy? BILLY: It is.
BARTLEY: Jeebies. Do ya still have it? BILLY: I have none
of it. Didn't
it all go on me medical bills at the time?
BARTLEY: You don't have even a quarter of it? BILLY: I don't. Why?
BARTLEY: No, only if you had a quarter of it you could
yourself a pretty classy telescope, d'you know? Oh you could. Hml.EN:
Do you have to bring telescopes into fecking everything, you?
sARTI-EY: I don't, but I like to, ya bitch. Leave me!
out of the shop as Helen advances on him. Pause. HELEN: I don't know
where he gets the fecking cheek of him from, I don't.
BILLY: (Pause) How are ye two sailing to Inishmore, so,
Helen? Ye've no
HELEN: We're getting Babbybobby Bennett to bring us in his boat.
BILLY: Are you paying him?
HELEN: Only in kisses and a bit of a hold of his hand,
or I hope that
it's only his hand I'll be holding. Although I've heard it's a big one.
Jim Finnegan's daughter was telling me. She knows everybody's. I think
she keeps a chart for herself. au.BILLY: She doesn't know mine.
HELEN: And you say that like you're proud. I suppose she
whether you had one, as mangled and fecked as you are. BILLY: (Sadly) I
HN: Congratulations, but would you keep it to yourself?
In more ways
than one. (Pause) Me, the only ones I've seen belong to priests. They
keep showing them to me. I don't know why. I can't say they whetted me
appetite. All brown. (Pause) What have you gone all mopey for? BILLY: I
don't know, now, but I suppose you intimating me mammy and daddy
preferred death to being stuck with me didn't help matters.
HELEN: I wasn't intimating that at all. I was saying it
BILLY: (Quietly) You don't know what was in their heads. HELEN: Uh-huh?
And do you?
Billy bows his head sadly. Pause. Helen flicks him hard
in the cheek
with her finger, then moves off BILLY: Helen? Would Babbybobby be
letting me go sailing to Inishmore with ye?
HELEN: What have you to offer Babbybobby, sure? He wouldn't
want to go
holding your mangled hand. BILLY: What has Bartley to offer Bobby, so,
and he's still going with ye?
HELEN: Bartley said he'd help with the rowing. Could you
help with the
rowing? Billy lowers his head again. What would you want to be coming
for, anyways? BILLY: (Shrugging) To be in the filming. HELEN: You?
She starts laughing, slowly, moving to the door. I shouldn't
you, Billy . . . but I will. She exits laughing. Pause. Eileen returns
from the back room and slaps Billy across the head. BILLY: What was
EILEEN: Over my dead body are you going to Inishmore filming,
BILLY: Ah I was only thinking aloud, sure. EILEEN: Well
aloud! Stop thinking aloud and stop thinking quiet! There's too much
oul thinking done in this house with you around. Did you ever see the
Virgin Mary going thinking aloud? BILLY: I didn't.
EILEEN: Is right, you didn't. And it didn't do her any
exits to the back room again. Pause. Billy gets up, shuffles to his
mirror, looks himself over a moment, then sadly shuffles back to the
table. Bartley opens the shop door and pops his head inside. BARTLEY:
Cripple Billy, will you tell your aunty or your pretend aunty I'll be
in for me Mintios later, or, not me Mintios but me sweeties generally.
BILLY: I will, Bartley.
BARTLEY: Me sister just told me your idea of being in
the filming with
us and I did have an awful laugh. That was a great joke, Billy. BILLY:
BARTLEY: They may even bring you to Hollywood after. They
may make a
star out of ya. BILLY: They might at that, Bartley. BARTLEY: A little
cripple star. Heh. So you'll remind your aunty I'll be in for me
Mintios later, or, not me Mintios but me ...
BILLY: Your sweeties generally.
BARTLEY: Me sweeties generally. Or if not later then tomorrow morning.
BILLY: Goodbye, Bartley.
BARTLEY: Goodbye, Cripple Billy, or are you okay there,
you do look a little bit sad for yourself? BILLY: I'm fine, Bartley.
BARTLEY: Good-oh. Bartley exits. Billy wheezes slightly, feeling his
Billy: (Quietly) I'm fine, aye.
A shore at night. Babbybobby fixing his curragh. Johnny
slightly drunk, walks up to him and watches a while. JOHNNY: I see
you're getting your curragh ready, Babbybobby. BOBBY: I am,
JOHNNY: (Pause) Are you getting your curragh ready so?
BOBBY: Didn't I
just say I was getting me curragh ready? JOHNNY: You did, aye. (Pause)
So you're getting your curragh ready. (Pause) All spick and span you're
getting it. (Pause) All nice and prepared like. (Pause) All ready for a
trip or something. (Pause) That's a nice boat, that is. A nice boat for
a tripeen. And it's even more nice now that you've got it all prepared
for yourself. (Pause) All prepared and ready. BOBBY: If it's a question
you have to ask me, Johnnypateen, go ahead and ask me the question and
don't be beating around the bush like some fool of an eejit
schoolchild. JOHNNY: I have no question to ask you. If Johnnypateenmike
has a question to ask he comes right out and asks it. You don't see
Johnnypateen beating around a bush. Oh no. (Pause) Just commenting on
how nice your curragh is is all. (Pause) How nice and ready you're
getting it. (Pause) Nice and ready for a trip or something. (Pause.
Angrily) Well if you won't tell me where you're going I'll fecking be
off with meself. BOBBY: Be off with yourself, aye.
JOHNNY: I will be off with meself. After your treatment!
BOBBY: I gave
you no treatment.
JOHNNY: You did give me treatment. You never tell me any
Mrs. up and died of TB the other year, and who was the last to know? I
was the last to know. I wasn't told until the day she died, and you
knew for weeks and weeks, with not a thought for my feelings . . .
BOBBY: I should've kicked her arse down the road to tell you,
Johnnypateen, and, d'you know I've regretted not doing so ever since.
JOHNNY: One more time I'll say it so. So you're getting
ready. All nice and prepared for a trip or something, now.
BOBBY: Ask me a question outright and I'll be pleased
to give you the
Johnny stares at Bobby a second, fuming, then storms off
continues with the boat. (Quietly) Ya stupid fecking eej. (Pause.
Calling off left.) Who's that shuffling on the stones? BILLY: (Off)
It's Billy Claven, Babbybobby. BOBBY: I should've guessed that. Who
else shuffles? BILLY: (Entering) No one, I suppose. BOBBY: Are your
aunties not worried you're out this late, Cripple Billy?
BILLY: They'd be worried if they knew but they don't know.
I snuck out
BOBBY: You shouldn't sneak out on aunties, Cripple Billy.
they're funny aunties.
BILY: Do you think they're funny aunties too, Babbybobby?
BOBBY: I saw
your Aunty Kate talking to a stone one time. BILLY: And she shouts at
me for staring at cows. BOBBY: Well I wouldn't hold staring at cows up
as the height of sanity, Billy.
BILLY: Sure, I only stare at cows to get away from me
aunties a while.
It isn't for the fun of staring at cows. There is no fun in staring at
cows. They just stand there looking at you like fools.
BOBBY: Do you never throw nothing at them cows? BILLY: No.
BOBBY: That might liven them up. BILLY: I wouldn't want
to hurt them,
sure. BOBBY: You're too kind-hearted is your trouble, Cripple Billy.
Cows don't mind you throwing things at them. BILLY: You don't know
that, Babbybobby. BOBBY: I threw a brick at a cow once and he didn't
even moo and I got him bang on the arse.
BILLY: Sure that's no evidence. He may've been a quiet
cow. BOBBY: He
may've. And, sure, I'm not telling you to go pegging bricks at cows. I
was drunk when this happened. Just if you get bored, I'm saying.
BILLY: I usually bring a book with me anyways. I've no
desire to injure
BOBBY: You could throw the book at the cow. BILLY: I would
read the book, Bobby. BOBBY: It takes all kinds, as they say. BILLY: It
does. (Pause) Are you getting your curragh ready there, Babbybobby?
BOBBY: Oh everybody's awful observant tonight, it does
Ready to bring Helen and Bartley o'er to the filming? Bobby looks at
Billy a moment, checks out right to make sure Johnny isn't around, then
returns. BOBBY: How did you hear tell of Helen and Bartley's
BILLY: Helen told me.
BOBBY: Helen told you. Jeez, and I told Helen she'd get
a punch if she
let anyone in on the news. BILLY: I hear she's paying you in kisses for
this boat-trip. BOBBY: She is, and, sure, I didn't want paying at all.
It was Helen insisted on that clause. BILLY: Wouldn't you want to kiss
Helen, so? BOBBY: Ah, I get a bit scared of Helen, I do. She's awful
fierce. (Pause) Why, would you like to kiss Helen, Cripple Billy?
Billy shrugs shyly, sadly. BILLY: Ah I can't see Helen
ever wanting to
kiss a boy like me, anyways. Can you, Bobby? BOBBY: No.
BILLY: (Pause) But so you'd've took the McCormicks without
BOBBY: I would. I wouldn't mind having a look at this
meself. What harm in taking passengers along? BILLY: Would you take me
as a passenger too, so? BOBBY: (Pause) No. BILLY: Why, now? BOBBY: I've
no room. BILLY: You've plenty of room. BOBBY: Did I not say no, now?
BILLY: That boat could take four easy. BOBBY: A cripple fella's bad
luck in a boat, and everybody knows.
BILLY: Since when, now?
BOBBY: Since Poteen-Larry took a cripple fella in his boat and it sank.
BILLY: That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard, Babbybobby.
BOBBY: Or if he wasn't a cripple fella, he had a bad leg
BILLY: You're just prejudiced against cripples is all
you are. BOBBY:
I'm not at all prejudiced against cripples. I did kiss a cripple girl
one time. Not only crippled but disfigured too. I was drunk, I didn't
mind. You're not spoilt for pretty girls in Antrim.
BILLY: Don't go changing the subject on me. BOBBY: Big
What subject? BILLY: The subject of taking me to the filming with ye.
BOBBY: I thought we closed that subject. BILLY: We hardly opened that
subject. BOBBY: Sure, what do you want to go to the filming for? They
wouldn't want a cripple boy. BILLY: You don't know what they'd want.
BOBBY: I don't, I suppose. No, you're right there. I did see a film
there one time with a fella who not only had he no arms and no legs but
he was a coloured fella too. BILLY: A coloured fella? I've never seen a
coloured fella, let alone a crippled coloured fella. I didn't know you
could get them.
BOBBY: Oh they'd give you a terrible scare. BILLY: Coloured
they fierce? BOBBY: They're less fierce with no arms or legs on them,
because they can't do much to ya, but even so they're still fierce.
BILLY: I heard a coloured fella a year ago came to Dublin a week.
BOBBY: Ireland mustn't be such a bad place, so, if coloured
to come to Ireland.
BILLY: It mustn't. (Pause) Ar, Babbybobby, you've only
coloured fellas to put me off the subject again. BOBBY: There's no
cripple fellas coming in this boat, Billy. Maybe some day, in a year or
two, like. If your feet straighten out on ya.
BILLY: A year or two's no good to me, Bobby. BOBBY: Why so?
Billy takes out a letter and hands it to Bobby, who starts
BILLY: It's a letter from Doctor McSharry, and you've
got to promise
you'll not breathe a word of it to another living soul. Halfway through
the letter, Bobby's expression saddens. He glances at Billy, then
continues. BOBBY: When did you get this?
BILLY: Just a day ago I got it. (Pause) Now will you let me come?
BOBBY: Your aunties'll be upset at you going. BILLY: Well
is it their
life or is it my life? I'll send word to them from over there. Ah, I
may only be gone a day or two anyways. I get bored awful easy. (Pause)
Will you let me come? BOBBY: Nine o'clock tomorrow morning be here.
BILLY: Thank you, Bobby, I'll be here. Bobby gives him back the letter
and Billy folds it away. Johnny quickly enters, his hand held out.
JOHNNY: No, hang on there, now. What did the letter say? BOBBY: Ah
Johnnypateen, will you feck off home for yourself? JOHNNY: Be showing
Johnnypateen that letter now, you, cripple-boy.
BILLY: I won't be showing you me letter. JOHNNY: What
d'you mean you
won't be showing me your letter? You showed him your letter. Be handing
it over, now. BOBBY: Did anybody ever tell you you're a biteen rude,
Johnnypateenmike? JOHNNY: I'm rude? I'm rude? With ye two standing
there hogging letters, and letters from doctors is the most interesting
kind of letters, and ye have the gall then to go calling me rude? Tell
oul limpy to be handing over that letter, now, else there'll be things
I heard here tonight that won't stay secret much longer.
BOBBY: Things like what, now?
JOHNNY: Oh, things like you rowing schoolies to Inishmore
kissing green-teeth girls in Antrim is the kind of thing, now. Not that
I'm threatening blackmail on ya or anything, or, alright yes I am
threatening blackmail on ya but a newsman has to obtain his news be
hook or be crook. BOBBY: Be hook or be crook, is it? Well have this for
hook or be crook. Bobby grabs Johnny by the hair and wrenches his arm
up behind his back.
JOHNNY: Aargh! Be letting go of me arm there you, ya thug!
I'll get the
constabulary on ya.
BOBBY: Be lying down on the sand there, you, for yourself.
Johnny face down on the ground. JOHNNY: Be running for the polis now
you, cripple-boy, or shuffling anyways.
BILLY: I won't. I'll be standing here watching. JOHNNY:
that makes ya. BILLY: Good-oh.
JOHNNY: I'm only an oul fella. Bobby steps up onto Johnny's
Aargh! Get off of me arse, you! BOBBY: Billy, go pick up some stones
for me. BILLY: (Doing so) Big stones? BOBBY: Middling-size stones.
JOHNNY: What do you want stones for? BOBBY: To peg them at your head
'til you promise not to bandy me business about town.
JOHNNY: You'll never get me to make such a promise. I
can withstand any
torture. Like Kevin Barry I am. Bobby throws a stone at Johnny's head.
Aargh! I promise, I promise. BOBBY: On Christ ya promise? JOHNNY: On
Christ I promise.
BOBBY: That withstanding didn't last fecking long. Bobby
Johnny, who stands back up, brushing himself off. JOHNNY: I wouldn't
get that kind of treatment in England! And now I have sand in me ears.
BOBBY: Take that sand home with ya and show it to your
JOHNNY: You leave my drunken mammy out of it. BOBBY: And
that promise. JOHNNY: Under duress that promise was made. BOBBY: I
don't care if it was made under a dog's arsehole. You'll be remembering
it. JOHNNY: (Pause) Ya feckers, ya! Johnny storms off right, shaking
his fist. BOBBY: I've wanted to peg stones at that man's head for
BILLY: I'd never get up the courage to peg stones at his
Ah, I suppose you shouldn't peg stones at an oul fella's head, but
didn't he drive me to it? (Pause) You got up the courage to travel to
Inishmore anyways, and you scared of the sea.
BILLY: I did. (Pause.) We'll meet at nine tomorrow so.
make it eight, Cripple Billy, in case Johnnypateen lets the cat out of
the bag. BILLY: Do you not trust him so?
BOBBY: I'd trust him as much as I'd trust you to carry
a pint for me
without spilling it. BILLY: That's not a nice thing to say. BOBBY: I'm
a hard character, me.
BILLY: You're not a hard character at all, Babbybobby.
You're a soft
BOBBY: (Pause) My wife Annie died of the same thing, d'you
But at least I got a year to spend with her. Three months is no time.
BILLY: I won't even see the summer in. (Pause) D'you remember
Annie made me the jam roly-poly when I had the chicken pox? And the
smile she gave me then? BOBBY: Was it a nice jam roly-poly? BILLY:
(Reluctantly) Not really, Bobby. BOBBY: No. Poor Annie couldn't cook
jam roly-polies to save the life of her. Ah, I still miss her, despite
her awful puddings. (Pause. ) I'm glad I was able to help you in some
way anyways, Cripple Billy, in the time you've left. BILLY: Would you
do me a favour, Babbybobby? Would you not call me Cripple Billy any
more long? BOBBY: What do you want to be called so? BILLY: Well, just
Billy. BOBBY: Oh. Okay so, Billy. BILLY: And you, would you rather just
be called Bobby and not Babbybobby? BOBBY: For why? BILLY: I don't know
BOBBY: Ido like being called Babbybobby. What's wrong with it?
BILLY: Nothing at all, I suppose. I'll see you in the
BOBBY: See you in the morning so, Cripple Billy. Em, Billy.
Didn't I just say? BOBBY: I forgot. I'm sorry, Billy. Billy nods, then
Oh, and Billy?
Billy looks back. Bobby makes a gesture with his hand.
I'm sorry. Billy bows his head, nods and exits right.
notices something in the surf pick a Bible up out of it, looks at it a
moment, then tosses it back into the sea and continues working on the
boat. Blackout. SCENE FOUR Bedroom of Mammy O'Dougal, Johnny's
ninety-year-old mother. Mammy in bed, Doctor McSharry checking her with
a stethoscope, Johnny hovering. DOCTOR: Have you been laying off the
drink. Mrs. O'Dougal? JOHNNY: Did you not hear me question, Doctor?
DOCTOR: I did hear your question, but amn't I trying to examine your
mammy without your fool questions? JOHNNY: Fool questions, is it?
DOCTOR: Have you been laying off the drink, Mrs. O'Dougal, I said.
MAMMY: (Burps) I have been laying off the drink or I've
sort of been
laying off the drink.
JOHNNY: She has a pint of porter now and then is no harm
MAM:MY: Is no harm at all. JOHNNY: Is good for you!
DOCTOR: So long as you keep it at a pint of porter is
the main thing
MAMMY: It is the main thing, and a couple of whiskeys now and then.
JOHNNY: Didn't I only just say not to mention the whiskeys,
DOCTOR: How often is now and then? JOHNNY: Once in a blue moon.
MAMMY: Once in a blue moon, and at breakfast sometimes.
breakfast," jeez . . . DOCTOR: Johnnypateenmike, don't you know well
not to go feeding a ninety-year-old woman whiskey for breakfast?
JOHNNY: Ah she likes it, and doesn't it shut her up? MAMMY: I do like a
drop of whiskey, me, I do. JOHNNY: From the horse's mouth. MAMMY:
Although I do prefer poteen. DOCTOR: But you don't get given poteen?
MAMMY: I don't get given poteen, no. JOHNNY: Now.
MAY: Only on special occasions. DOCTOR: And what qualifies
as a special
occasion? MAMMY: A Friday, a Saturday or a Sunday. DOCTOR: When your
mammy's dead and gone,Johnnypateen, I'm going to cut out her liver and
show it to you, the damage your fine care has done.
JOHNNY: You won't catch me looking at me mammy's liver.
I can barely
stomach the outside of her, let alone the inside. DOCTOR: A fine thing
that is for a fella to say in front of his mammy.
MAMMY: I've heard worse. JOHNNY: Leave me mammy alone
now, you, with
your mangling. If she's been trying to drink herself dead for
sixty-five years with no luck, I wouldn't start worrying about her now.
Sixty-five years. Feck, she can't do anything right. DOCTOR: Why do you
want to drink yourself dead, Mrs. O'Dougal?
MAMMY: I do miss me husband Donal. Ate be a shark. JOHNNY:
1871 he was
ate be a shark. DOCTOR: Oh you should be trying to get over that now,
MAMMY: I've tried to, Doctor, but I can't. A lovely man
he was. And
living with this goose all these years, it just brings it back to me.
JOHNNY: Who are you calling a goose, ya hairy-lipped fool?
Didn't I go
out of me way to bring Doctor McSharry home to ya?
MAMMY: Aye, but only to go nosing about Cripple Billy Claven is all.
JOHNNY: No, not . . . not . . . Ah you always go spilling
you, ya lump.
MAMMY: I'm an honest woman, me, Johnnypateen. JOHNNY:
Honest me hairy
hole. MAMMY: And you didn't get me drunk enough. The doctor packs up
his black bag. DOCTOR: If I'm only here under false pretences . . .
JOHNNY: You're not here under false pretences. Me mammy did seem awful
bad earlier . . . cough, Mammy . . . Mammy cough. But she seems to be
over the worst of it, you're right there, although, now, while you're
here, Doctor, what is all this about Cripple Billy? He wouldn't be in a
terrible way, would he? Maybe something life-threatening, now? Oh I
suppose it must be something awful serious if you go writing letters to
DOCTOR: (Pause) Did you ever hear of a thing called doctorpatient
confidentiality, Johnnypateenmike? JoHNNY: I did, and I think it's a
great thing. Now tell me what's wrong with Cripple Billy, Doctor.
DOCTOR: I'm going to open up that head of yours one day, Johnnypateen,
and find nothing inside it at all. JOHNNY: Don't go straying off the
subject now, you. Tell me what's wrong with . . . or was that a clue to
the subject, now? There's something on the inside of his head that's
wrong? A brain tumour! He has a brain tumour! DOCTOR: I wasn't aware. .
JOHNNY: Tell me he has a brain tumour, doctor. Oh that'd
be awful big
news. DOCTOR: I'm off home, I thank you for wasting me precious time,
but before I go I'll just say one thing, and that's I don't know where
you got your information from this time o'er Cripple Billy, for it's
usually such accurate information you do get, oh aye . . .
JOHNNY: Polio, polio. He has polio.
DOCTOR: But as far as I'm aware, apart from those deformities
since birth, there is nothing wrong with Billy Claven at all, and it
would be better if you didn't go spreading fool gossip about him.
JOHNNY: (Pause) TB, TB. Ah it must be TB. The doctor walks away.
JOHNNY: Where are you off to? Don't go hogging all the
The doctor has exited. Ya beggar! Is Billy in such good
rowing to Inishmore in the freezing morning as he did this day'll do
him no harm, so?
Pause. The doctor returns, thoughtful. Didn't that get
him running back
quick? MAMMY: Like a cat with a worm up his arse. JOHNNY: That was a
descriptive turn of phrase, mammy. DOCTOR: Billy's gone to Inishmore?
JOHNNY: He has. With the McCormicks and Babbybobby rowing them.
Babbybobby who'll be arrested for grievous bodily harm the minute he
returns, or grievous headily harm anyways, for it was me head he
grievously harmed. I don't know if grievous bodily harm applies to
heads. DOCTOR: They've gone to see the filming? JOHNNY: To see the
filming or to be in the filming, aye. DOCTOR: But the filming finished
yesterday, sure. It's only clearing the oul cameras and whatnot they
are today. JOHNNY: (Pause) I suppose they must've been given unreliable
information somewhere along the way, so. MAMMY: Aye, be this goose.
JOHNNY: Don't you be calling me goose, I said. MAMMY:
Get me a drink,
JOHNNY: If you retract goose I'll get you a dr . . . MAMMY:
Johnny pours her a large whiskey, the doctor aghast. DOCTOR:
Don't . .
. don't . . . (Angrily) Have I been talking to meself all day?!
JOHNNY: (Pa?use) Would you like a drink too, Doctor, after
stunned you with me Cripple Billy revelation? DOCTOR: What do I care
about that arse-faced revelation? JOHNNY: Heh. We'll see if your tune's
the same when Billy returns home dead because of your secrecy and
you're drummed out of doctorhood and forced to scrape the skitter out
of bent cows, is all you were ever really fit for anyways, oh we all
DOCTOR: Billy won't be returning home dead because there's
matter with Billy but a wheeze. JOHNNY: Are you persisting in that one,
Doctor Useless? DOCTOR: Shall I say it one more time, thicko? There is
nothing wrong with Billy Claven. Okay? The doctor exits. JOHNNY:
Cancer! Cancer! Come back you! Would it be cancer? Tell me what it
begins with. Is it a 'C'? Is It a 'P'? MAMMY: You're talking to thin
air, ya fool. JOHNNY: (Calling) I'll get to the bottom of it one way or
the other, McSharry! Be hook or be crook! A good newsman never takes no
for an answer!
MAMMY: No. You just take stones pegged at your head for an answer.
JOHNNY: Let the stone matter drop, I've told you twenty
times, or I'll
kick your black arse back to Antrim for you. Johnny sits on the bed,
reading a newspaper. MAMMY: You and your shitey-arsed news. JOHNNY: My
news isn't shitey-arsed. My news is great news. Did you hear Jack
Ellery's goose and Pat Brennan's cat have both been missing a week? I
suspect something awful's happened to them, or I hope something awful's
happened to them.
MAMMY: Even though you're me own son I'll say it, Johnnypateen,
the most boring oul fecker in Ireland. And there's plenty of
competition for that fecking post! JOHNNY: There's a sheep here in
Kerry with no ears, I'll have to make a note.
MAMMY: (Pause) Give me the bottle if you're going bringing
He gives her the whiskey bottle. JOHNNY: Sheep deformities
interesting news. Is the best kind of news. Excluding major illnesses
anyways. (Pause) And I want to see half that bottle gone be tea time.
MAMMY: Poor Cripple Billy. The life that child's had. With that mam and
dad of his, and that sackful of stones of theirs . . .
JOHNNY: Shut up about the sackful of stones. MAMMY: And
Although look at the life I've had too. First poor Donal bit in two,
then you going thieving the hundred-pound floorboard money he'd worked
all his life to save and only to piss it away in pubs. Then the
beetroot fecking paella you go making every Tuesday on top of it.
JOHNNY: There's nothing the matter with beetroot paella, and hasn't
half of that hundred pounds been poured down your dribbling gob the
past sixty years, ya bollocks? MAMMY: Poor Billy. It's too many of the
coffins of gosawers I've seen laid in the ground in me time. JOHNNY:
Drink up, so. You may save yourself the trouble this time. MAMMY: Ah,
I'm holding out to see you in your coffin first, Johnnypat. Wouldn't
that be a happy day? JOHNNY: Isn't that funny, because I'd enjoy seeing
you in your coffin the same as ya, if we can find a coffin big enough
to squeeze your fat arse into. Course we may have to saw half the
blubber off you first, oh there's not even a question. MAMMY: Oh you've
upset me with them harsh remarks, Johnnypateen, oh aye. (Pause) Ya
fecking eejit. (Pause) Anything decent in the paper, read it out to me.
But no sheep news. JOHNNY: There's a fella here, riz to power in
Germany, has an awful funny moustache on him. MAMMY: Let me see his
funny moustache. He shows her the photo. That's a funny moustache.
JOHNNY: You'd think he'd either grow a proper moustache
or else shave
that poor biteen of a straggle off. MAMMY: That fella seems to be
caught in two minds. JOHNNY: Ah he seems a nice enough fella, despite
his funny moustache. Good luck to him. (Pause) There's a German fella
living out in Connemara now, d'you know? Out Leenane way. MAMMY:
Ireland mustn't be such a bad place if German fellas want to come to
JOHNNY: They all want to come to Ireland, sure. Germans,
everybody. MAMMY: And why, I wonder?
JOHNNY: Because in Ireland the people are more friendly.
are, I suppose.
JOHNNY: Of course they are, sure. Everyone knows that.
Sure, isn't it
what we're famed for? (Long pause) I'd bet money on cancer. Johnny
nods, returning to his paper. Blackout.
The shop. A few dozen eggs stacked on counter. KATE: Not
(Pause) Not a word, not a word, not a word, not a word, not a word, not
a word, not a word. (Pause) Not a word.
En,EEN: Oh how many more times are you going to say "Not a word," Kate?
KATE: Am I not allowed to say "Not a word" so,
and me terrified o'er
Billy's travellings? EILEEN: You are allowed to say "Not a word," but
one or two times and not ten times.
KATE: Billy's going to go the same way as his mammy and
Dead and buried be the age of twenty. EILEEN: Do you ever look on the
optimistic side, you? KATE: I do look on the optimistic side, but I
fear I'll never see poor Billy alive again.
EILEEN: (Pause) Billy could've at least left a note that
he was going
to Inishmore, and not have us hear it from oul Johnnypateen.
KATE: Not a word. Not a word, not a word, not a word.
Johnnypateen revelling in his news-telling then, along with his
intimating o'er letters and doctors. KATE: I fear Johnnypateen knows
something about Billy he's not telling.
EILEEN: When has Johnnypateen ever known something and
not told, sure?
Johnnypateen tells if a horse farts. KATE: Do you think? EILEEN: I
know. KATE: I still worry o'er Cripple Billy. FT.EN: Sure, if
McSharry's right that the filming's o'er, it won't be long at all
before Billy's home, and the rest of them with him.
KATE: You said that last week and they're still not home.
they stayed to see the sights. KATE: On Inishmore? What sights? A fence
and a hen? EILEEN: Maybe a cow came o'er to Cripple Billy and he lost
track of time.
KATE: It doesn't take much time to look at a cow, sure.
EN: Well, you
used to take an age in talking to stones, I remember. KATE: Them stone
days were when I had trouble with me nerves and you know well they
were, Eileen! Didn't we agree on never bringing the stones business up?
EILEEN: We did, and I'm sorry for bringing the stones business up. It's
only because I'm as worried as ya that I let them stones slip.
KATE: Because people who live in glass houses shouldn't
stone-conversations at me. EilEEN: What glass house do I live in? KATE:
We had twenty Yalla-mallows in the ha'penny box the other day and I see
they're all gone. How are we ever to make a profit if you keep eating
the new sweeties before anybody's had a chance to see them?
EILEEN: Ah, Kate. Sure with Yalla -mallows, when you eat
no stopping ya.
KATE: It was the same excuse with the Mintios. Well if
you lay one
finger on the Fripple-Frapples when they come in, you'll be for the
high jump, I'm telling ya. EILEEN: I'm sorry, Kate. It's just all this
worry o'er Billy didn't help matters.
KATE: I know it didn't, Eileen. I know you like to stuff
your face when
you're worried. Just try to keep a lid on it is all. EILEEN: I will.
(Pause) Ah sure that Babbybobby's a decent enough fella. He'll be
looking after Billy, I'm sure. KATE: Why did he bring poor Billy off
with him anyways so if he's such a decent fella? Didn't he know his
aunties would be worrying?
EILEEN I don't know if he knew. KATE: I'd like to hit
Babbybobby in the
teeth. En.EEN: I suppose he . . . KATE: With a brick.
EILEEN: I suppose he could've got Billy to send a note at the minimum.
KATE: Not a word. Not a word. (Pause) Not a word, not
a word, not a wor
. . .
EILEEN: Ah Kate, don't be starting with your "Not
a words" again. Kate
watches Eileen stacking the eggs a while. KATE: I see the egg-man's
EILEEN: He has. The egg-man has a rake more eggs when
doesn't be working for him. KATE: I don't see why he keeps Helen on at
all. EILEEN: I think he's scared of Helen. That or he's in love with
KATE: (Pause) I think Billy's in love with Helen on top
of it. En.EEN:
I think Billy's in love with Helen. It'll all end in tears. KATE: Tears
N: We ought look on the bright side. KATE: Tears, death
Johnny enters, strutting. EILEEN: Johnnypateenmike. KATE:
JOHNNY: Johnnypateen does have three pieces of news to
be telling ye
KATE: Only tell us if it's happy news,Johnnypat, because
we're a biteen
depressed today, we are.
JOHNNY: I have a piece of news concerning the Inishmore
trippers, but I
will be saving that piece of news for me third piece of news.
KATE: Is Billy okay, Johnnypateen? Oh tell us that piece of news first.
EILEEN: Tell us that piece of news first, aye, Johnnypateen.
Well if ye're going arranging what order I tell me pieces of news in, I
think I will turn on me heels and be off with me!
KATE: Don't go, Johnnypat! Don't go! JOHNNY: Hah?
EILEEN: Tell us your news in whatever order you like,
Sure, aren't you the man who knows best about news-ordering?
JOHNNY: I am the man who knows best. I know I'm the man
who knows best.
That's no news. I see you have plenty of eggs in.
EILEEN: We do, Johnnypateen.
JOHNNY: Uh-huh. Me first piece of news, there is a sheep
out in Kerry
with no ears at all on him. EILEEN: (Pause) That's a great piece of
news. JOHNNY: Don't ask me how he hears because I don't know and I
don't care. Me second piece of news, Patty Brennan's cat was found dead
and Jack Ellery's goose was found dead and nobody in town is said to've
seen anything, but we can all put two and two together, although not
out loud because Jack Ellery's an awful tough.
KATE: That's a sad piece of news because now it sounds
like a feud is
JOHNNY: A feud is starting and won't be stopped 'til the
one or the two
of them finish up slaughtered. Good. I will take six eggs, Mrs., for
the omelette I promised me mammy a fortnight ago.
EILEEN: What was the third piece of news, Johnnypateen?
mention me mammy and nobody even asks as to how she is. Oh it's the
height of politeness in this quarter. KATE: How is your mammy,
Johnnypateen? JOHNNY: Me mammy's fine, so she is, despite me best
efforts. EILEEN: Are you still trying to kill your mammy with the
JOHNNY: I am but it's no use. A fortune in booze that
bitch has cost me
over the years. She'll never go. (Pause) Well now, I have me eggs, I've
told you me two pieces of news. I suppose that's me business finished
here for the day. KATE: The . . . the third piece of news,
Johnnypateen? JOHNNY: Oh, the third piece of news. Wasn't I almost
forgetting? (Pause) The third piece of news is Babbybobby's just pulled
his boat up on the sands, at the headland there, and let the young
adventurers off. Or, let two of the young adventurers off anyways,
Helen and Bartley. There was no hide nor hair of Cripple Billy in that
boat. (Pause) I'm off to have Babbybobby arrested for throwing stones
at me head. I thank you for the eggs. Johnny exits. Pause. Kate sadly
caresses the old sack hanging on the wall, then sits at the table.
KATE: He's gone from us, Eileen. He's gone from us. EILEEN: We don't
know at all that he's gone from us. KATE: I can feel it in me bones,
Eileen. From the minute he left I knew. Cripple Billy's dead and gone.
EILEEN: But didn't the doctor assure us five times there was nothing
wrong with Cripple Billy?
KATE: Only so not to hurt us that assuring was. It was
had the real story all along, same as about Billy's mam and dad's
drowning he always had the real story. EILEEN: Oh lord, I see
Babbybobby coming up the pathway towards us.
KATE: Does he look glum, Eileen? EILEEN: He does look
Babbybobby usually looks glum.
KATE: Does he look glummer than he usually looks? EILEEN:
does. KATE: Oh no.
EILEEN: And he's taken the hat off him now. KATE: That's
an awful bad
sign, taking the hat off ya. EILEEN: Maybe just being gentlemanly he
is? KATE: Babbybobby? Sure, Babbybobby pegs bricks at cows. Bobby
enters, cap in hand BOBBY: Eileen, Kate. EILEEN: Babbybobby.
BOBBY: Would you be sitting down a minute there for yourself,
Eileen? I've news to be telling ye. Eileen sits at the table I've just
brought the two McCormicks home, and I was supposed to bring yere Billy
home, I know, but I couldn't bring yere Billy home because . . because
he's been taken to America for a screen test for a film they're making
about a cripple fella. Or . . . I don't think the whole film will be
about the cripple fella. The cripple fella'd only be a minor role. Aye.
But it'd still be a good part, d'you know? (Pause) Although, there's
more important things in the world than good parts in Hollywood films
about cripple fellas. Being around your family and your friends is more
important, and I tried to tell Cripple Billy that, but he wouldn't
listen to me, no matter how much I told him. Be boat this morning they
left. Billy wrote a letter here he asked me to pass onto ye. (Pause)
Two or three months at minimum, Billy said probably he'd be gone.
(Pause) Ah, as he said to me, it's his life. I suppose it is, now. I
hope he enjoys his time there anyways. (Pause) That's all there is.
(Pause) I'll be seeing ye. FTr.FRN: Be seeing you, Babbybobby . . .
KATE: Be seeing you, Bobbybabbybobby. Bobby exits. Kate opens the
letter. ElI.FRN: What the devil's a screen test, Kate? KATE: I don't
know at all what a screen test is. EILEEN: Maybe in his letter it says.
KATE: Oh the awful handwriting he has. EILEEN: It's never improved.
KATE: "Dear aunties, can ye guess what?" Yes. We can guess what. "I am
off to Hollywood to make a screen test for a film they're making, and
if they like the look of me a contract they will give me and an actor
then I'll be." He doesn't explain at all what a screen test is.
Frr.FEN: With all the thinking he does? KATE: What's this, now? I can't
make out even two words in this sentence with his writing . . . "But if
it's a big success I am . . . it might only be two or three months
before I am too busy with acting work to be getting in touch with ye
too often at all . . . so if ye don't hear from me much from summertime
on . . . don't be worrying about me. It'll only mean I'm happy and
healthy and making a go of me life in America. Making something of
meself for ye and mammy and daddy to be proud of. Give my love to
everyone on the island except Johnnypateen, and take care of
yourselves, Kate and Eileen. You moan the world to me . . . mean the
world to me." It looks like moan. (Pause) "Yours sincerely . . . Billy
Claven." (Pause) Turned his back on us, he has, Eileen. EILEEN:
(Crying) And us worrying our heads off o'er him. Eileen goes to the
counter and quietly fishes through the sweetie box. KATE: After all
we've done for him down the years. Frr.FF.N: We looked after him and
didn't care that he was a cripple boy at all.
KATE: After all the shame he brought on us, staring at
cows, and this
is how he repays us.
EILEEN: I hope the boat sinks before it ever gets him to America.
KATE: I hope he drowns like his mammy and daddy drowned before him.
EILEEN: (Pause) Or are we being too harsh on him? KATE:
being too harsh on him but only because it's so upset about him we are.
What are you eating? EILEEN: Oh Yalla-mallows and don't be starting on
me. KATE: I thought you'd ate all the Yalla-mallows. EILEEN: I'd put a
couple of Yalla-mallows aside for emergencies.
KATE: Eat ahead, Eileen. EILEEN: Do you want one, Kate?
KATE: I don't. I have no stomach for eating at all, this
day. Let alone
EILEEN: (Pause) We'll see Cripple Billy again one day, won't we, Kate?
KATE: I fear we've more chance of seeing Jim Finnegan's
daughter in a
nunnery before we see Cripple Billy again. (Pause) I'm not sure if I
want to see Cripple Billy again. EILEEN: I'm not sure if I want to see
Cripple Billy again. (Pause) I want to see Cripple Billy again. KATE: I
want to see Cripple Billy again. Pause. Blackout. The shop, summer,
four months later. A couple of flyers for The Man of Aran, being shown
at the church hall, hang on the walls. The sweetie boxes and a stone
lie on the counter, beside which Bartley stands, pursing his lips
dumbly and doing other stuff for a few moments to fill in time as he
waits for Kate to return. Helen enters carrying a few dozen eggs.
HELEN: What are you waiting for? BARTLEY: She's gone in the back to
look for me Fripplefrapples.
HELEN: Oh you and your fecking Fripple-frapples BARTLEY:
Fripple-frapples are nice sweeties. Helen arranges the eggs on the
counter. I see you've brought the eggs up. HELEN:You, you're awful
BARTLEY: I thought bringing the eggs was the egg-man's
job. HELEN: It
was the egg-man's job, but I did kick the egg-man in the shins this
after and he didn't feel up to it. BARTLEY: What did you kick the
egg-man in the shins for? HELEN: He insinuated it was me murdered Jack
Ellery's goose and Pat Brennan's cat for them.
BARTLEY: But it was you murdered Jack Ellery's goose and
cat for them.
HELEN: I know it was, but if it gets bandied around town
I'll never be
BARTLEY: How much are you getting paid? HELEN: Eight bob
for the goose
and ten bob for the cat. BARTLEY: Why did you charge extra for the cat?
HELEN: I had to pay Ray Darcy for the borrow of his axe. See, the goose
I only had to stomp on him. It takes more than a stomp to polish a cat
BARTLEY: A plankeen of wood you could've used on the cat,
shelling out for the axe at all. HELEN: Sure I wanted the job carried
out professional, Bartley. A plank is the weapon of a flat-faced child.
I wouldn't use a plank on a blue-arsed fly.
BARTLEY: What would you use on a blue-arsed fly? HELEN:
I wouldn't use
a thing on a blue-arsed fly. There's no money involved in killing
blue-arsed flies. BARTLEY: Jim Finnegan's daughter killed twelve worms
HELEN: Aye, be breathing on them. BARTLEY: No, be sticking
their eyes. HELEN: Now there's the work of an amateur. (Pause) I didn't
even know worms had eyes.
BARTLEY: They don't after Jim Finnegan's daughter gets
HEr.BN: What's this stone here for? BARTLEY: I caught
talking to that stone when first I came in.
HELEN: What was she saying to the stone? BARTLEY: She
was saying "How
are you, stone," and then putting the stone to her ear like the stone
was talking back to her.
HELEN: That's awful strange behaviour. BARTLEY: And asking
then, if it knew how oul Cripple Billy was doing for himself in
America. HELEN: And what did the stone say?
BARTLEY: (Pause) The stone didn't say anything, Helen,
they don't say anything. HELEN: Oh, I thought you said Mrs. Osbourne
was doing the voice for the stone.
BARTLEY: No, Mrs. Osbourne was just doing her own voice.
we should hide the stone and see if Mrs. Osbourne has a nervous
breakdown. BARTLEY: Sure that wouldn't be a very Christian thing to do,
HELEN: It wouldn't be a very Christian thing to do, no,
but it'd be
BARTLEY: Ah let's leave Mrs. Osbourne's stone alone, Helen.
enough on her mind worrying o'er Cripple Billy? HELEN: Cripple Billy's
aunties should be told that Billy's dead or dying, and not have them
waiting for a letter from him that'll never come. Four months, now,
isn't it they've been waiting, and not a word, and them the only two on
Inishmaan not been informed what Babbybobby knows. BARTLEY: What good
would it do, sure, informing them? At least this way they've the hope
he's still alive. What help would Babbybobby's news be to them? And you
never know but maybe a miracle's happened and Cripple Billy hasn't died
in Hollywood at all. Maybe three months wasn't a fair estimate for
HELEN: I hope Cripple Billy has died in Hollywood, after
place in Hollywood that was rightfully a pretty girl's place, when he
knew full well he was about to kick the bucket. BARTLEY: A pretty
girl's place? What use would a pretty girl be in playing a cripple
HELEN: I could turn me hand to anything, me, given a chance.
I've heard. HELEN: Heard what?
BARTLEY: I've heard Hollywood is chock-full of pretty
girls, sure. It's
cripple fellas they're crying out for. HELEN: What are you defending
Cripple Billy for? Didn't he promise to send you a package of
Yalla-mallows you've never seen a lick of?
BARTLEY: Maybe Cripple Billy died before he had a chance
of sending me
them Yalla-mallows. HELEN: It's any excuse for you, ya weed. BARTLEY:
But dying's an awful good excuse for not sending a fella the sweeties
HELEN: Too kind-hearted you are. I'm ashamed to admit
you're related to
BARTLEY: It doesn't hurt to be too kind-hearted. HELEN:
this hurt? Helen pinches Bartleys arm. BARTLEY: (In pain) No. HELEN:
(Pause) Does this hurt?
Helen gives him a Chinese burn on the forearm. BARTLEY:
(In pain) No.
HELEN: (Pause) Does this hurt?
Helen picks up an egg and breaks it against his forehead.
(Sighing) I'd better say yes before any further you go.
HELEN: You should've said yes on the arm pinch, would've
BARTLEY: I should've said yes but you'd still've broken an egg on me.
HELEN: Now we'll never know.
BARTLEY: You're just a terror when you get around eggs.
HELEN: I do
like breaking eggs on fellas. BARTLEY: I had guessed that somehow.
HELEN: Or could you classify you as a fella? Isn't that going a biteen
BARTLEY: I notice you never broke an egg on Babbybobby
Bennett when he
reneged on your kissing proposals. HELEN: We were in a row-boat a mile
from land, sure. Where was I supposed to get an egg?
BARTLEY: Reneged because you're so witchy-looking. HE.EN:
because he was upset o'er Cripple Billy, and watch your
"witchy-looking" comments, you. BARTLEY: Why is it runny eggs don't
smell but boiled eggs do smell?
HELEN: I don't know why. And I don't care why. BARTLEY:
you look like one of them raggedlooking widow women waiting on the
rocks for a rascal who'll never return to her. HELEN: That sentence had
an awful lot of Rs. BARTLEY: It was insulting with it, on top of the
Rs. HELEN: You've gotten awful cocky for a boy with egg running down
BARTLEY: Well there comes a time for every Irishman to
take a stand
against his oppressors. HELEN: Was it Michael Collins said that?
BARTLEY: It was some one of the fat ones anyways. HELEN: Do you want to
play "England versus Ireland"? BARTLEY: I don't know how to play
"England versus Ireland." HELEN: Stand here and close your eyes. You'll
be Ireland. Bartley faces hew and closes his eyes.
BARTLEY: And what do you do?
HELEN: I'll be England. Helen picks up three eggs from
the counter and
breaks the first against Bartley's forehead Bartley opens his eyes as
the yolk runs down him, and stares at her sadly. Helen breaks the
second egg on his forehead. BARTLEY: That wasn't a nice thing at all to
. . . HELEN: Haven't finished.
Helen breaks the third egg on Bartley. BARTLEY: That wasn't
thing at all to do, Helen. HELEN: I was giving you a lesson about Irish
history, Bartley. BARTLEY: I don't need a lesson about Irish history.
(Shouting) Or anyways not with eggs when I've only washed me hair!
HE.EN: There'll be worse casualties than eggy hair before Ireland's a
nation once again, Bartley McCormick. BARTLEY: And me best jumper, look
at it! HELEN: It has egg on it.
BARTLEY: I know it has egg on it! I know well! And I was
going to go
wearing it to the showing of the film tomorrow, but you've put paid to
that idea now, haven't ya? HELEN: I'm looking forward to the showing of
the film tomorrow.
BARTLEY: I was looking forward to the showing of the film
too until me
jumper became destroyed. HELEN: I think I might go pegging eggs at the
film tomorrow. The Man of Aran me arsehole. The Lass of Aran they
could've had, and the pretty lass of Aran. Not some oul shite about
thick fellas fecking fishing.
BARTLEY: Does everything you do have to involve eggpegging, Helen?
HELEN: I do take a pride in me egg-work, me. Is this bitch
coming to pay for me eggs? (Calling) You, stonewoman!
BARTLEY: She's taking an age to bring me Fripple-Frapples.
HELEN: Ah I
can't waste me youth waiting for that mingy hole. You collect me
egg-money, Bartley, and give it to the egg-man on the way home.
BARTLEY: I will, Helen, aye. Helen exits.
I will me fecking arse, ya shite-gobbed fecking bitch-fecker, ya...
Helen pops her head back in. HELEN: And don't let her
dock you for the
four you went and broke on me.
BARITLEY: I won't, Helen. She exits again.
Kate slowly enters from the back room, absent-mindedly,
Bartley after a second.
KATE: Hello there, Bartley. What can I be getting for
(Pause. Bemused) You were going in the back to look for your
Kate thinks to herself a moment, then slowly returns to
the back room.
Bartley moans loudly in frustration, putting his head down on the
counter. Slight pause, then Kate returns and picks up her stone.
KATE: I'll bring me stone.
She exits to the back room again. Pause. Bartley picks
up a wooden
mallet, smashes all the eggs on the counter with it and walks out,
slamming the door. Blackout.
Sound of Billy's wheezing starts, as lights come up on
alone on oz chair in a squalid Hollywood hotel room. He wheezes
BILLY: Mam? I fear I'm not longer for this world, Mam.
Can't I hear the
wail of the banshees for me, as far as I am from me barren island home?
A home barren, aye, but proud and generous with it, yet turned me back
on ye I did, to end up alone and dying in a one-dollar rooming-house,
without a mother to wipe the cold sweat off me, nor a father to curse
God o'er the death of me, nor a colleen fair to weep tears o'er the
still body of me. A body still, aye, but a body noble and unbowed with
it. An Irishman! (Pause)Just an Irishman. With a decent heart on him,
and a decent head on him, and a decent spirit not broken by a century's
hunger and a lifetime's oppression! A spirit not broken, no . . .
(Coughing) but a body broken, and the lungs of him broken, and, if
truth be told, the heart of him broken too, be a lass who never knew
his true feelings, and now, sure, never will. What's this, Mammy, now,
that you're saying to me? He looks at a sheet of paper on the table. Be
writing home to her, I know, and make me feelings known. Ah, 'tis late,
Mammy. Won't tomorrow be soon enough for that task?
He gets up and shuffles to the mirror left, quietly singing
Boy." "Farewell father and mother too, and sister Mary I have none but
you. And for my brother, he's all alone. He's pointing pikes on the
He stumbles, ill, crawls up onto the bed, wheezing, and
looks at the
photo on the dresser. What would Heaven be like, Mammy? I've heard 'tis
a beautiful place, more beautiful than Ireland even, but even if it is,
sure, it wouldn't be near as beautiful as you. I do wonder would they
let cripple boys into Heaven at all. Sure, wouldn't we only be
uglifying the place? He puts the photo back on the dresser. su.BILLY:
"Twas in old Ireland this young man died, and in old Ireland his body's
lain. All the good people that do pass by, may the lord have mercy on
this croppy boy." Oh it's a bad way the chest of me is in tonight,
Mammy. I think it's a little sleep I should have now for meself. For
there's mighty work in the railyard tomorrow to be done. (Pause) What's
that, Mammy? Me prayers? I know. Sure, would I be forgetting, as well
as you taught them to me? (Blesses himself) And now I lay me down to
sleep, I pray to God my soul to keep. But if . . . (Pause) But if I die
before I wake . . . I pray to God . . . (Tearfully) I pray to God . . .
Pause, recovering himself He smiles. Ara, don't worry, Mammy. 'Tis only
to sleep it is that I'm going. 'Tis only to sleep.
Billy lies down. His pained wheezes get worse and worse,
suddenly stop with an anguished gasp, his eyes close, his head lolls to
one side, and he lays there motionless. Fade to black. SCENE EIGHT A
church hall in semi-darkness. Bobby, Mammy, Johnny, Helen, Bartley,
Eileen and Kate sitting. All are staring up at the film Man of Aran
being projected. The film is nearing its end, and its soundtrack is
either very low or not heard at all. MAMMY: What's this that's
happening? JOHNNY: What does it look like that's happening? BARTLEY:
Aren't they going catching a shark, Mrs., and a big shark?
MAMMY: Are they?
JOHNNY: Shut up and drink up, you. MAMMY: I will, goosey.
BOBBY: I hope only water it is that's in that bottle, Johnnypateenmike.
JOHNNY: Of course it's only water. (Whispered) Don't be
near Babbybobby, Mammy. MAMMY: I won't be. JOHNNY: And mind the
BOBBY: Has your Johnny been thieving any more of your
lately, Mrs. O'Dougal?
JOHNNY: I never ever thieved me mammy's life savings.
I only borrowed
MAMMY: Since 1914 this fecker's borrowed them, short-term.
that's the definition of short-term. KATE: (Pause) That's a big fish.
EILEEN: 'Tis a shark, Kate. KATE: 'Tis a wha? EILEEN: A shark, a shark!
HELEN: Have you forgot what a shark is, on top of talking to stones?
BARTLEY: It's mostly off America you do get sharks, Mrs.,
and a host of
sharks, and so close to shore sometimes they come, sure, you wouldn't
even need a telescope to spot them, oh no . .
HELEN: Oh telescopes, Jesus . . . !
BARTLEY: It's rare that off Ireland you get sharks. This
is the first
shark I've ever seen off Ireland. JOHNNY: Ireland mustn't be such a bad
place so if sharks want to come to Ireland.
BARTLEY: (Pause) Babbybobby, you weren't in long with
the polis at all
when you was took down for Johnnypat's headstoning, how comes?
BOBBY: Oh the guard just laughed when he heard about Johnnypat's
head-stoning. "Use a brick next time," he said. "Stop piddling around
JOHNNY: That guard wants drumming out of the polis. Or
at least to have
spiteful rumours spread about him. BOBBY: And we all know who the man
for that job'll be. JOHNNY: He beats his wife with a poker, d'you know?
HELEN: Sure is that news? They don't let you in the polis unless you
beat your wife with a poker. BOBBY: And that's an outright lie anyways
about the guard beating his wife with a poker. (Pause) A biteen of a
rubber hose was all he used.
KATE: (Pause) Not a word. Not a word from him. HELEN:
Is stony off
again? EILEEN: She is. HELEN: Hey, stony!
EIlEEN: Ar leave her, Helen, will ya? HELEN: (Pause) Ah
going to be catching this fecking shark. A fecking hour they've been at
it now, it seems like.
BARTLEY: Uh-huh. Three minutes would be more accurate.
HELEN: If it was
me had a role in this film the fecker wouldn't have lasted as long. One
good clobber and we could all go home.
BARTLEY: One good clobber with Ray Darcy's axe, I suppose.
the axe-talk, you.
BARTLEY: Doesn't shark-clobbering take a sight more effort
JOHNNY: What's this that Johnnypateen hears? Helen grabs
Bartley by the
hair and wrenches his head around as Johnny makes a note in a pocket
book. HELEN: Just you wait 'til I fecking get you home. Just you
fecking wait . . .
BARTLEY: Ah that hurts, Helen, that hurts . . . HEr.FN:
Of course it
hurts. It's supposed to fecking hurt. BOBBY: Be leaving Bartley alone
now, Helen. HELEN: Up your arse you, Babbybobby Bennett, you fecking
kiss-reneger. Would you like to step outside with me? BOBBY: I wouldn't
like to. HELEN: Shut your hole so.
BOBBY: Not if there was to be kissing involved, anyways.
Bartley roughly. JOHNNY: A little noteen, now, Johnnypateen has made
for himself. A side of lamb at minimum this news'll get me, off Patty
Brennan or Jack Ellery anyways. Eheh. HELEN: You'll be eating that lamb
with a broken neck, so, if that news gets bandied about before Jack and
Pat've paid up, ya feck.
JOHNNY: Oh aye.
BARTLEY: (Pause) Look at the size of that fella's nose.
(Pause) Look at
the size of that fella's nose I said. KATE: Have you been falling down
any holes since, Bartley? BARTLEY: Oh Mrs, sure wasn't I seven when I
fell down the hole I fell down? D'ya have to keep dragging that up
every year? HELEN: (Pause) Oh they still haven't caught this fecking
shark! How hard is it?
Helen throws an egg at the screen. BOBBY: Oh don't be
pegging any more
eggs at the film, Helen. Weren't the five you pegged at the poor woman
in it enough? HELEN: Not nearly enough. I never got her in the gob even
once, the bitch. She keeps moving. BOBBY: You'll ruin the egg-man's
bedsheet anyways. HELEN: Ah, the egg-man's bedsheet is used to being
eggy. BARTLEY: How do you know the egg-man's bedsheets are used to
being eggy, Helen?
HELEN: Em, Jim Finnegan's daughter was telling me. MAMMY:
why don't they just leave the poor shark alone? He was doing no harm.
JOHNNY: Sure what manner of a story would that be, leaving
alone! You want a dead shark. BOBBY: A dead shark, aye, or a shark with
no ears on him. JOHNNY: A dead shark, aye, or a shark kissed a
green-teethed girl in Antrim.
BOBBY: Do you want a belt, you, mentioning green-teeth girls?
JOHNNY: Well you interrupted me and me mammy's shark debate.
MAMMY: They should give the shark a belt, then leave the
JOHNNY: Why are you in love with sharks all of a sudden?
Wasn't it a
shark ate daddy?
MAMMY: It was a shark ate daddy, but Jaysus says you should
JOHNNY: He doesn't say you should forgive and forget sharks.
(Pause) Sharks have no ears to begin with, anyways. Pause. They look at
him. Babbybobby was saying a shark with no ears. (Pause) Sharks have no
ears to begin with, anyways. JOHNNY: We've moved on from ears-talk,
you, ya thick. BARTLEY: What are we onto now? JOHNNY: We're onto Jaysus
forgiving sharks. BARTLEY: Oh aye, that's an awful great topic for
conversation. HELEN: I always preferred Pontius Pilate to Jesus. Jesus
always seemed full of himself.
BARTLEY: Jesus drove a thousand pigs into the sea one
time, did you
ever hear tell of that story? Drowned the lot of the poor devils. They
always seem to gloss o'er that one in school. KATE: I didn't know Jesus
could drive. HELEN: Mrs. ? You' ve gone loopy, haven't you Mrs. ?
Haven't you gone loopy?
KATE: I haven't gone loopy. HELEN: You have. Your stone
was telling me
earlier. KATE: What did me stone say?
HELEN: Did you hear that one, Bartley? "What did me stone say?"
JOHNNY: Of course poor Kate's gone loopy, Helen, with
the gosawer she
raised and loved sixteen year preferring to take his TB to Hollywood
for his dying than to bear be in the company of her.
Eileen stands with her hands to her head and turns to
face Johnny, as
does Bobby. ..EEN: (Stunned) Wha? Wha? JOHNNY: Em, whoops.
Bobby grabs Johnny roughly and drags him up. BOBBY: Didn't
I say to
ya?! Didn't I say to ya?! JOHNNY: Sure don't they have a right to know
about their dying foster-babby, stabbed them in the back without a
BOBBY: Can't you keep anything to yourself? JOHNNY: Johnnypateenmike
was never a man for secrets. BOBBY: Outside with ya, so, and see if you
can keep this beating a secret. JOHNNY: You'll frighten me mammy,
Babbybobby, you'll frighten me mammy . . .
MAMMY: Ah you won't, Bobby. Go on and give him a good
JOHNNY: That was the last omelette you'll ever eat in
my house, ya
MAMMY: Carrot omelettes don't go, anyways. JOHNNY: You
Johnny is dragged of right by Bobby. Sound of his yelps
and more distant. Eileen is standing in front of Bartley, hands still
to her head. EN: What was this Johnnypateen was saying about . . .
BARTLEY: Would you mind out of me way, Mrs., I can't see. Eileen moves
over to Mammy. HELEN: What's to fecking see anyways but more wet fellas
with awful jumpers on them?
EMl.EN: Mrs. O'Dougal, what now was this that your Johnny was saying?
MAMMY: (Pause) TB they say your Cripple Billy has, Eileen.
E.N: No . .
MAMMY: Or, they say he had anyways. Four months ago Billy
was told, and
told he had only three months left in him. BARTLEY: That means he's
probably been dead a month, Mrs. Simple subtraction that is. Three from
four. EILEEN: Ah sure, if this is only your)ohnnypateen's oul gossiping
I wouldn't be believing you at all . . . MAMMY: Aye, if it was
Johnnypat's gossiping you wouldn't need to care a skitter about it, but
Babbybobby's news this is. Cripple Billy showed him a letter from
McSharry the night before they sailed. Sure, Babbybobby would never've
taken Cripple Billy, only his heart went out to him. Didn't Bobby's
Annie die of the same thing?
EILEEN: She did, and in agony she died. Oh Cripple Billy.
The days and
nights I've cursed him for not writing us, when how could he write us
HELEN: When he was buried six feet under. Aye, that'd
be an awful hard
EILEEN: But . . . but Doctor McSharry five or six times
I've asked, and
nothing at all wrong with Billy did McSharry say there was.
MAMMY: Sure, I suppose he was only trying not to hurt
you Eileen, same
as everyone around. (Pause) I'm sorry, Eileen. Helen and Bartley stand
and stretch, backs to screen, as the film ends. Eileen sits, tearfully.
HELEN: Oh thank Christ the fecker's over. A pile of fecking shite.
BARTLEY: And not a telescope in sight. The film winds
out, leaving the
screen blank. A light goes on behind it, illuminating the silhouette of
Cripple Billy on the screen, which only Kate sees. She stands and
stares at it. MAMMY: ( Wheeling herself away) Did they catch the shark
in the end, so, Helen?
HELEN: Ah it wasn't even a shark at all, Mrs. It was a
tall fella in a
grey donkey jacket. MAMMY: How do you know, Helen?
HELEN: Didn't I give the fella a couple of kisses to promise
to put me
in his next film, and didn't I stamp on the bollocks of him when his
promise turned out untrue? MAMMY: All that fuss o'er a fella in a grey
donkey jacket. I don't know.
HELEN: He won't be playing any more sharks for a while
the stamp I gave the feck. Helen and Mammy exit. Bartley stands staring
at Billy's silhouette, having just spotted it. Eileen, crying, still
has her back to it. Kate pulls back the sheet, revealing Billy, alive
and well. (Off Calling out) Are you coming, you, fecker? BARTLEY: In a
minute I'm coming.
BILLY: I didn't want to disturb ye 'til the film was o'er.
turns, sees him, stunned. Kate drops her stone and embraces Billy.
BARLEY: Hello there, Cripple Billy. BILLY: Hello there, Bartley.
BARTLEY: Just back from America are ya? BILLY: I am.
BARTLEY: Uh-huh. (Pause) Did you get me me Yalla-mallows?
didn't, Bartley. BARTLEY: Ar, ya fecking promised, Billy. su.BILLY:
They had only Fripple-Frapples. Billy tosses Bartley a packet of
sweets. BARTLEY: Ah jeebies, Fripple-Frapples'll do just as fine. Thank
you Cripple Billy.
KATE: You're not dead at all, are you, Billy? BILLY: I'm
Kate. KATE: Well that's good.
BARTLEY: What was it so, Billy? Did you write that doctor's
yourself and only to fool Babbybobby into rowing ya, when there wasn't
a single thing the matter with you at all? BILLY: I did, Bartley.
BARTLEY: You're awful clever for a cripple-boy, Billy.
Was it out of
Biggles Goes to Borneo you got that idea? When Biggles tells the
cannonball he has the measles so the cannonball won't eat Biggles at
BILLY: No, I made the idea up meself, Bartley. BARTLEY:
Well now, it
sounds awful similar, Billy. BILLY: Well I made the idea up meself,
Bartley. BARTLEY: Well you're even more clever than I thought you was
so, Billy. You've made a laughing stock of every beggar on Inishmaan,
all thought you'd gone and croaked it, like eejits, me included. Fair
play to ya. EILEEN: Not everyone on Inishmaan. Some us of only believed
you'd run off, and run off because you couldn't stomach the sight of
BILLY: Not for a second was that true, Aunty Eileen, and
reason I returned that I couldn't bear to be parted from ye any longer?
Didn't I take me screen test not a month ago and have the Yanks say to
me the part was mine? But I had to tell them it was no go, no matter
how much money they offered me, because I know now it isn't Hollywood
that's the place for me. It's here on Inishmaan, with the people who
love me, and the people I love back. Kate kisses him. BAR/TEY: Ireland
can't be such a bad place, so, if cripple fellas turn down Hollywood to
come to Ireland. BILLY: To tell you the truth, Bartley, it wasn't an
awful big thing at all to turn down Hollywood, with the arse-faced
lines they had me reading for them. "Can I not hear the wail of the
banshees for me, as far as I am from me barren island home."
Bartley laughs. "An Irishman I am, begora! With a
heart and a spirit on
me not crushed be a hundred years of oppression. I'll be getting me
shillelagh out next, wait'll you see." A rake of shite. And had me
singing the fecking "Croppy Boy" then. KATE: Sure I think he'd make a
great little actoreen, don't you, Eileen?
BARTLEY: Them was funny lines, Cripple Billy. Do them again.
KATE: I'll be off home and air your room out for you,
Em, you've forgot your stone there, Mrs. Mightn't you want a chat on
the way, now?
KATE: Ah I'll leave me stone. I have me Billy-boy back
now to talk to,
don't I, Billy?
BILLY: You do, Aunty.
Oh she hasn't started up with the bloody stones again, has she?
BARTLEY: She has. Talks to them day and night, and everybody
her, me included.
BILLY: You shouldn't laugh at other people's misfortunes, Bartley.
BARTLEY: (Confused) Why?
BILLY: I don't know why. Just that you shouldn't is all.
it's awful funny. BILLY: Even so.
BARTLEY: We-ell I disagree with you there, but you've
got me me
Fripple-Frapples so I won't argue the point. Will you tell me all about
how great America is later, Cripple Billy? BILLY: I will, Bartley.
BARTLEY: Did you see any telescopes while you were over there?
BILLY: I didn't.
BARTLEY: (Disappointed) Oh. How about me Aunty Mary in
Massachusetts? Did you see her? She has funny brown hair on her.
BILLY: I didn't, Bartley.
BARTLEY: Oh. (Pause) Well. I'm glad you're not dead anyways,
Billy. Bartley exits. BILLY: (Pause) That's all Bartley wants to hear
is how great America is.
EILEEN: Is it not so?
BILLY: It's just the same as Ireland really. Full of fat
Eileen gets up, goes over to Billy and slaps him across
BILLY: Aargh! What was that fer?!
EILEEN: Forget fat women with beards! Would it have killed
you to write
a letter all the time you were away? No it wouldn't, and not a word.
Not a blessed word! BILLY: Ah aunty, I was awful busy. ET.EEN: Uh-huh.
Too busy to write your aunties, were worried sick about you, but not
too busy to go buying Fripple-Frapples for an eejit gosawer and only to
show off the big man you think you are.
BILLY: Ah it only takes a minute to buy Fripple-Frapples,
sure. Is that
a fair comparison?
EILEEN: Don't you go big-wording me when you know you're in the wrong.
BILLY: Sure, comparison isn't a big word. EIH-Er.AFN:
Yankee-high-and-mighty now I see it is. BILLY: And I found the American
postal system awful complicated.
EILEEN: It's any excuse for you. Well don't expect me
to be forgiving
and forgetting as quick as that one. She's only forgiven cos she's gone
half doolally because of ya. You won't be catching me out so easy!
BILLY: Ah don't be like that, Aunty.
En wFN: (Exiting) I will be like that. I will be like
that. Long pause,
Billy's head lowered. Eileen sticks her head back in.
And I suppose you'll be wanting praitie cakes for your tea too?!
BILLY: I would, Aunty. EEN: Taahhh! She exits again. Pause.
at the sheet/screen, pulls it back across to its original dimensions
and stands there staring at it, caressing it slightly, deep in thought.
Bobby quietly enters right, Billy noticing him after a moment.
su.BILLY: Babbybobby. I daresay I owe you an explanation. BOBBY:
There's no need to explain, Billy. BILLY: I want to, Bobby. See, I
never thought at all this day would come when I'd have to explain. I'd
hoped I'd disappear forever to America. And I would've too, if they'd
wanted me there. If they'd wanted me for the filming. But they didn't
want me. A blond lad from Fort Lauderdale they hired instead of me. He
wasn't crippled at all, but the Yank said, "Ah, better to get a normal
fella who can act crippled than a crippled fella who can't fecking act
at all." Except he said it ruder. (Pause) I thought I'd done alright
for meself with me acting. Hours I practised in me hotel there. And all
for nothing. (Pause) I gave it a go anyways. I had to give it a go. I
had to get away from this place, Babbybobby, be any means, just like me
mammy and daddy had to get away from this place. (Pause) Going drowning
meself I'd often think of when I was here, just to . . . just to end
the laughing at me, and the sniping at me, and the life of nothing but
shuffling to the doctor's and shuffling back from the doctor's and
pawing over the same oul books and finding any other way to piss
another day away. Another day of sniggering, or the patting me on the
head like a broken-brained gosawer. The village orphan. The village
cripple, and nothing more. Well, there are plenty round here just as
crippled as me, only it isn't on the outside it shows. (Pause) But the
thing is, you're not one of them, Babbybobby, nor never were. You've a
kind heart on you. I suppose that's why it was so easy to cod you with
the TB letter, but that's why I was so sorry for codding you at the
time and why I'm just as sorry now. Especially for codding you with the
same thing your Mrs. passed from. Just I thought that would be more
effective. But, in the long run, I thought, or I hoped, that if you had
a choice between you being codded a while and me doing away with
meself, once your anger had died down anyways, you'd choose you being
codded every time. Was I wrong, Babbybobby? Was I? Bobby slowly walks
over to Billy, stops just in front of him, and lets a length of lead
piping slide down his sleeve into his hand. BOBBY: Aye.
Bobby raises the pipe...
Billy: No, Bobby, no...! Billy covers up as the pipe scythes
Blackout, with the sounds of Billy's pained screams and the pipe
scything down again and again. SCENE NINE The shop, late evening. The
doctor tending to Billy's bruised and bloody face. Kate at the counter,
Eileen at the door, looking out. ETN: Johnnypateenmike's near enough
running o'er the island with his news of Billy's return to us. KATE:
This is a big day for news.
EILEEN: He has a loaf in one hand and a leg o' mutton
KATE: Billy's return and Babbybobby's arrest and Jim Finnegan's
daughter joining the nunnery then. That was the biggest surprise.
EILEEN: The nuns must be after anybody if they let Jim
daughter join them.
KATE: The nuns' standards must have dropped. BILLY: Sure
Jim Finnegan's daughter become a nun? It's only pure gossip that Jim
Finnegan's daughter is a slut.
DOCTOR: No, Jim Finnegan's daughter is a slut. BILLY:
Is she? DOCTOR:
BILLY: How do you know? DOCTOR: Just take me word. EILEEN:
Isn't he a
BILLY: (Pause) Just I don't like people gossiping about
people is all.
Haven't I had enough of that meself to last me a lifetime? DOCTOR: But
aren't you the one who started half the gossiping about you, with your
forging of letters from me you'll yet have to answer for?
BILLY: I'm sorry about the letter business, Doctor, but
wasn't it the
only avenue left open to me? EILEEN: Its "Avenues" now, do ya hear?
KATE: Its always big-talk when from America they return. EILEEN:
Avenues. I don't know.
BILLY: Aunties, I think the doctor might be wanting a
mug of tea, would
ye's both go and get him one? EILEEN: Is getting rid of us you're
after? If it is, just say so. BILLY: It's getting rid of ye I'm after.
Eileen stares at him a moment then moodily exits to the back room.
DOCTOR: You shouldn't talk to her like that, now, Billy. BILLY: Ah they
keep going on and on. DOCTOR: I know they do but they're women. BILLY:
I suppose. (Pause) Would you tell me something, Doctor? What do you
remember of me mammy and daddy, the people they were? DOCTOR: Why do
BILLY: Oh, just when I was in America there I often thought
what they'd have done if they'd got there. Wasn't that where they were
heading the night they drowned? DOCTOR: They say it was. (Pause) As far
as I can remember, they weren't the nicest of people. Your daddy was an
oul drunken tough, would rarely take a break from his fighting. BILLY:
I've heard me mammy was a beautiful woman. DOCTOR: No, no, she was
awful ugly. su.BILLY: Was she?
DOCTOR: Oh she'd scare a pig. But, ah, she seemed a pleasant
woman, despite her looks, although the breath on her, well it would
BILLY: They say it was that Dad punched Mammy while she
heavy with me
was why I turned out the way I did. DOCTOR: Disease caused you to turn
out the way you did, Billy. Not punching at all. Don't go romanticising
it. Billy coughs/wheezes slightly. I see you still have your wheeze.
BILLY: I still have a bit of me wheeze. DOCTOR: That wheeze is taking a
long time to go. The doctor uses a stethoscope to check Billy's chest.
Has worse or better it got since your travelling? Breathe in. BILLY:
Maybe a biteen worse. The doctor listens to Billy's back. DOCTOR: But
blood you haven't been coughing up, ah no. BILLY: Ah a biteen of blood.
(Pause) Now and again. DOCTOR: Breathe out. How often is now and again,
Billy? BILLY: (Pause) Most days. (Pause) The TB is it? DOCTOR: I'll
have to be doing more tests. BILLY: But the TB it looks like? DOCTOR:
The TB it looks like. su.BILLY: (Quietly) Theres a coincidence. Johnny
enters quietly, having been listening at the door, loaf in hand, a leg
of lamb under each arm, which he carries throughout. JOHNNY: It's the
TB after all?
DOCTOR: Oh Johnnypateen, will you ever stop listening at doors?
JOHNNY: Lord save us but from God I'm sure that TB was
Billy, for claiming he had TB when he had no TB, and making
Johnnypateen's news seem unreliable. DOCTOR: God doesn't send people
TB, Johnnypateen. JOHNNY: He does send people TB. DOCTOR: He doesn't,
JOHNNY: Well didn't he send the Egyptians boils is just as bad?
DOCTOR: Well boils is different from tuberculosis, Johnnypateen,
no he didn't send the Egyptians boils. JOHNNY: In Egyptian times.
DOCTOR: No, he didn't.
JOHNNY: Well he did something to the fecking Egyptians!
killed their first-born sons. JOHNNY: He killed their first-born sons
and dropped frogs on them, aye. There's a boy knows his scripture. Do
your aunties know you have TB yet, Cripple Billy? BILLY: No, they don't
know, and you're not to tell them. JOHNNY: Sure it's me job to tell
them! BILLY: It isn't your job at all to tell them, and don't you have
enough news for one day with me return. Can't you do me a favour for
once in your life?
JOHNNY: For once in me life, is it? (Sighing) Ah I won't tell them so.
BILLY: Thank you, Johnnypateen. JOHNNY: Johnnypateen's
Christian man. DOCTOR: I heard you were feeding your mammy poteen at
the showing of the film today, Johnnypateen. JoHNNY: I don't know where
she got hold of that poteen. She's a devil, d'you know? DOCTOR: Where's
your mammy now?
JOHNNY: At home she is. (Pause) Lying at the foot of me stairs.
DOCTOR: What's she doing lying at the foot of your stairs?
Nothing. Just lying. Ah she seems happy enough. She has a pint with
DOCTOR: How did she get lying at the foot of your stairs?
falling down them! How d'ya usually get lying at the foot of a fella's
stairs? DOCTOR: And you just left her there? JOHNNY: Is it my job to go
picking her up? DOCTOR: It is! JOHNNY: Sure, didn't I have work to do
with me newsdivulging? I have better things to do than picking mammies
up. D'you see the two legs of lamb I got, and a loafeen too? This is a
The doctorpacks up his black bag, stunned, as Johnny admires
DOCTOR: I'm off now, Billy, to Johnnypateen's house, to see if his
mammy's dead or alive. Will you come see me tomorrow, for those further
tests? BILLY: I will, Doctor.
The doctor exits, staring at Johnny all the way. Johnny
beside Billy. JOHNNY: Me mammy isn't lying at the foot of me stairs at
all. It's just I can't stand the company of that boring feck. BILLY:
That wasn't a nice thing to do, Johnnypateen. JOHNNY: Well you're
hardly the world's authority on nice things to do, now, are you,
Cripple Billy? BILLY: I'm not at that, I suppose. JOHNNY: Ah what harm?
Do what you want and feck everybody else is Johnnypateenmichael's
motto. BILLY: Did you hear McSharry talking about my mammy when you
were listening at the door? JOHNNY: A bit of it. BILLY: Was he accurate
about her? Johnny shruggs. Oh isn't it always on this subject your lips
stay sealed, yet on every subject from feuds o'er geese to ewe-maiming
be lonely fellas, your lips go flapping like a cabbage in the breeze?
JOHNNY: Now, on the subject of feuds over geese, have you heard the
latest? Billy sighs. Well we all thought Jack Ellery and Patty Brennan
were apt to go killing each other o'er the slaughter of their cat and
their goose, but now d'you know what? A child seen them, just this
morning there, kissing the faces off each other in a haybarn. I can't
make it out for the life of me. Two fellas kissing, and two fellas who
don't even like each other. su.BILLY: (Pause) You've changed the
subject, Johnnypateen. JOHNNY: I'm great at changing subjects, me. What
was the subject? Oh, your drowned mammy and daddy. BILLY: Were they
gets like McSharry says? JOHNNY: They weren't at all gets.
BILLY: No? And yet they still left me behind when they sailed off.
Eileen returns with mug of tea. En.EEN: I've the Doctor's
au.BILLY: The Doctor's gone. EILEEN: Without having his tea? BILLY:
Fn.FF.IL; Don't you be big-wording me again, Billy Claven.
have the Doctor's tea so, if it'll save a family dispute.
She gives him the tea. Johnnypateen goes out of his way
to help people
out, and do you have any biscuits there, Mrs? BILLY: You're changing
the subject again, aren't ya? JOHNNY: I'm not changing the subject. I
want a biscuit. EILEEN: We have no biscuits.
JOHNNY: I'll bet you have a rake of biscuits. What do
you have on the
shelf behind them peas, there? ETTEN: We have more peas.
JOHNNY: You order too many peas. A fella can't go having
peas with his
tea. Unless he was an odd fella. (Adjusting lamb) And there's no way
you could describe Johnnypateenmike as an odd fella. Oh no. BILLY:
Johnnypateen. Me mammy and daddy. Their sailing. ElN: Oh that's ancient
news, Billy. Just leave it alone . . . JoHNNY: Sure if the boy wants to
hear, let him hear. Isn't he grown up and travelled enough now to be
hearing? EILEEN: You're not going telling him? Johnny stares at her a
moment. JOHNNY: It was on the sands I met them that night, staring off
into the black, the water roaring, and I wouldn't've thought a single
thing more of it, if I hadn't seen the sack full of stones tied to the
hands of them there, as they heaved it into the boat. A big old hemp
sack like one of them there, it was. And they handed you to me then,
then started rowing, to deep water.
BILLY: So they did kill themselves o'er me? JOHNNY: They
themsevles, aye, but not for the reasons you think. D'you think it was
to get away from ya? BILLY: Why else, sure? JOHNNY: Will I tell him?
Eileen nods. A week before this it was they'd first been told you'd be
dying if they couldn't get you to the Regional Hospital and medicines
down you. But a hundred pounds or near this treatment'd cost. They
didn't have the like of a hundred pounds. I know you know it was their
death insurance paid for the treatment saved you. I don't know if you
know it was the same day I met them on the sands there that they had
taken their insurance policy out.
BILLY: (Pause) It was for me they killed themselves? JOHNNY:
insurance paid up a week after, and you were given the all-clear afore
a month was out. BILLY: So they did love me, in spite of everything.
Frr.lEEN: They did love you because of everything, Billy. JOHNNY: Isn't
that news? BILLY: That is news. I needed good news this day. Thank you,
They shake hands and Billy sits. JOHNNY: You're welcome,
JOHNNY: Billy. (Pause) Well, I'm off home to me mammy.
have dropped down dead when the Doctor barged in and we'll both have
had good news this day. (Pause) Mrs., d'you have any payment there for
Johnnypateen's good news and not peas? EILEEN: There's Yalla-mallows.
JOHNNY: (Looking at packet) What are Yalla-mallows? PTT.FN:
mallows that are yalla. JOHNNY: (Pause. After considering) I'll leave
them. Johnny exits. Long pause. BILLY: You should have told me before,
Aunty. EILEEN: I wasn't sure how you'd take the news, Billy. BILLY: You
still should've told me. The truth is always less hard than you fear
it's going to be. EILEEN: I'm sorry, Billy.
Pause. Billy lets her cuddle him slightly. BILLY: And
I'm sorry for
using evidently on ya. EILEEN: And so you should be.
Eileen gently slaps his face, smiling. Helen enters. Hello,
can I get you? HEI-mEN: No, I've just come to look at Cripple Billy's
wounds. I've heard they're deep. BILLY: Hello, Helen. HELEN: You look a
fecking fool in all that get-up, Cripple Billy.
BILLY: I do, I suppose. Em, Aunty, is that the kettle,
now, I hear
boiling in the back? EILEEN: Eh? No. Oh. (Tuts) Aye.
Eileen exits to back room, as Helen pulls up Billy's bandages
under them. BILLY: Hurts a bit that picking does, Helen. HELEN: Ar
don't be such a fecking girl, Cripple Billy. How was America? BILLY:
HELEN: Did you see any girls over there as pretty as me?
BILLY: Not a
HELEN: Or almost as pretty as me? BILLY: Not a one.
HELEN: Or even a hundred times less pretty than me? BILLY:
a couple, now. Helen pokes him hard in the face. (In pain) Aargh! Not a
one, I mean. HELEN: You just watch yourself you, Cripple Billy. BILLY:
Do ya have to be so violent, Helen? HELEN: I do have to be so violent,
or if I'm not to be taken advantage of anyways I have to be so violent.
BILLY: Sure, nobody's taken advantage of you since the age of seven,
HELEN: Six is nearer the mark. I ruptured a curate at
six. BILLY: So
couldn't you tone down a bit of your violence and be more of a sweet
HEr.EN: I could, you're right there. And the day after
I could shove a
bent spike up me arse. (Pause.) I've just lost me job with the egg-man.
BILLY: Why did you lose your job with the egg-man, Helen?
know, I can't for the life of me figure out why. Maybe it was me lack
of punctuality. Or me breaking all the egg-man's eggs. Or me giving him
a good kick whenever I felt like it. But you couldn't call them decent
reasons. BILLY: You couldn't at all, sure.
HELEN: Or me spitting on the egg-man's wife, but you couldn't
a decent reason.
BILLY: What did you spit on the egg-man's wife for, Helen?
the egg-man's wife just deserves spitting on. (Pause) I still haven't
given you a good kick for your taking your place in Hollywood that was
rightfully mine. Didn't I have to kiss four of the film directors on
Inishmore to book me place you took without a single kiss? BILLY: But
there was only one film director on Inishmore that time, Helen. The man
Flaherty. And I didn't see you near him at all.
HEEN: Who was it I was kissing so?
BILLY: I think it was mostly stable-boys who could do
HELEN: The bastards! Couldn't you've warned me? BILLY:
I was going to
warn you, but you seemed to be enjoying yourself.
HELEN: You do get a decent kiss off a stable-boy, is true
would probably go stepping out with a stable-boy if truth be told, if
it wasn't for the smell of pig-shite you get off them. BILLY: Are you
not stepping out with anyone at the moment, so?
HELEN: I'm not.
BILLY: (Pause) Me, I've never been kissed. HELEN: Of course
never been kissed. You're a funnylooking cripple-boy.
BILLY: (Pause) It's funny, but when I was in America I
tried to think
of all the things I'd miss about home if I had to stay in America.
Would I miss the scenery, I thought? The stone walls, and the lanes,
and the green, and the sea? No, I wouldn't miss them. Would I miss the
food? The peas, the praities, the peas, the praities and the peas? No,
I wouldn't miss it. Would I miss the people? HELEN: Is this speech
going to go on for more long? BILLY: I've nearly finished it. (Pause)
What was me last bit? You've put me off . . . HI FN: "Would I miss the
BILLY: Would I miss the people? Well, I'd miss me aunties,
or, a bit
I'd miss me aunties. I wouldn't miss Babbybobby with his lead stick or
Johnnypateen with his daft news. Or all the lads used to laugh at me at
school, or all the lasses used to cry if I even spoke to them. Thinking
over it, if Inishmaan sank in the sea tomorrow, and everybody on it up
and drowned, there isn't especially anybody I'd really miss. Anybody
other than you, that is, Helen. HELEN: (Pause) You'd miss the cows you
go staring at. BILLY: Oh that cow business was blown up out of all
proportion. What I was trying to build up to, Helen, was . . . HELEN:
Oh, was you trying to build up to something, Cripple Billy?
BILLY: I was, but you keep interrupting me. HELEN: Build up ahead so.
BILLY: I was trying to build up to . . . There comes a
time in every
fella's life when he has to take his heart in his hands and make a try
for something, and even though knows it's a one in a million chance of
him getting it, he has to chance it still, else why be alive at all?
So, I was wondering Helen, if maybe sometime, y'know, when you're not
too busy or something, if maybe . . . and I know well I'm no great
shakes to look at, but I was wondering if maybe you might want go out
walking with me some evening. Y'know, in a week or two or something?
HELEN: (Pause) Sure what would I want to go out walking
cripple-boy for? It isn't out walking you'd be anyways, it would be out
shuffling, because you can't walk. I'd have to be waiting for ya every
five yards. What would you and me want to be out shuffling for? BILLY:
For the company. HELEN: For the company? BILLY: And . . . HELEN: And
what? BILLY: And for the way sweethearts be. Helen looks at him a
second, then slowly and quietly starts laughing/sniggering through her
nose, as she gets up and goes to the door. Once there she turns, looks
at Billy again, laughs again and exits. Billy is left staring down at
the floor as Kate quietly enters from the back room. KATE: She's not a
very nice girl anyways, Billy. BILLY: Was you listening, Aunty Kate?
KATE: I wasn't listening or alright I was a biteen listening. (Pause)
You wait for a nice girl to come along, Billy. A girl who doesn't mind
at all what you look like. Just sees your heart.
BILLY: Howlong will I be waiting for a girl like that
to come along,
KATE: Ah not long at all, Billy. Maybe a year or two.
Or at the outside
five. BILLY: Five years . . . Billy nods, gets up, wheezes slightly and
exits into the back room. Kate starts tidying and closing up the shop.
Eileen enters, helping her. Sound of Billy coughing distantly in the
house now and then. EILEEN: What's Cripple Billy looking so glum for?
KATE: Billy asked Slippy Helen to go out walking with him, and Helen
said she'd rather go out walking with a brokenheaded ape.
EILEEN: That was a descriptive turn of phrase for Slippy
Well, I've tarted it up a bit. EILEEN: I was thinking. (Pause) Cripple
Billy wants to aim lower than Helen.
KATE: Cripple Billy does want to aim lower than Helen.
wants to aim at ugly girls who are thick, then work his way up.
KATE: Billy should go to Antrim really. He'd be well away.
Billy probably doesn't like ugly girls who are thick. EILEEN: Sure
there's no pleasing Billy. KATE: None.
EILEEN: (Pause) And you missed the story Johnnypateen
spun, Kate, about
Billy's mam and daddy tying a sack of stones to their hands and
drowning themselves for the insurance money that saved him.
KATE: The stories Johnnypateen spins. When it was poor
Billy they tied
in the sack of stones, and Billy would still be at the bottom of the
sea to this day, if it hadn't been for Johnnypateen swimming out to
save him. And, stealing his mammy's hundred pounds then to pay for
Billy's hospital treatment. EILEEN: We should tell Billy the true story
some day, Kate. KATE: Sure, that story might only make Cripple Billy
sad, or something, Eileen.
EILEEN: Do you think? Ah there's plenty of time to tell
story anyways. KATE: There is. The two finish their closing up, Eileen
locking the door, Kate turning the oil lamp low. This'll be the first
decent night's sleep in many a month I've had, Eileen.
EILEEN: I know it will, Kate. Have you finished for good
stone shenanigans now?
KATE: I have. They only crop up when I've been worrying,
and, you know,
I know I hide it well, but I do worry awful about Billy when he's away
from us. Eu.EN: I do worry awful about Billy when he's away from us
too, but I try not to let stones enter into it. KATE: Ah let's forget
about stones. We have our Billy back with us now.
EILEEN: We do have our Billy back with us. Back for good.
The two smile and exit to the back room, arm-in-arm. After
Billy comes in from the back, sniffling, and turns the oil lamp up,
revealing his bloodshot eyes and tear-stained cheeks. He quietly takes
the sack down from the wall, places inside it numerous cans of peas
until it's very heavy, then ties the cords at the top of the bag
tightly around one of his hands. This done, he pauses in thought a
moment, then shuffles to the door. There is a knock on it. Billy dries
his cheeks, hides the sack behind him and opens the door. Helen pops
her head in. HELEN: (Forcefully) Alright so I'll go out walking with
ya, but only somewheres no fecker would see us and when it's dark and
no kissing or groping, cos I don't want you ruining me fecking
reputation. BILLY: Oh. Okay, Helen.
HEleN: Or anyways not much kissing or groping. BILLY:
HELEEN: Tomorrow wouldn't at all suit. Isn't it Bartley's
BILLY: Is it? What have you got him? HELEN: I got him
. . . and for the
life of me I don't know why I did because I know now he'll never stop
fecking jabbering on about it or anyways won't stop jabbering 'til I
give him a big thump in the fecking face for himself and even then he
probably won't stop, but didn't I get the fecker a telescope? BILLY:
That was awful nice of ya, Helen. HE.EN: I think I must be getting soft
in me old age. BILLY: I think so too. HELEN: Do ya? BILLY: Aye.
HELEN: (Coyly) Do ya really, Billy? BILL: I do.
HELEN: Uh-huh. Does this feel soft? Helen pokes Billy
hard in the
bandaged face. Billy yelps in pain.
BILLY: Aargh! No, it doesn't feel soft! HELEN: Good-oh,
I'll see you
the day after tomorrow for our fecking walk, so. BILY: You will. Helen
kisses Billy briefly, winks at him, and pulls the door behind her as
she exits. Billy is left standing there stunned a moment, then
remembers the sack tied to his hand. Pause. He unties it, replaces the
cans on the shelves and hangs the sack back up on the wall, stroking it
a moment. He shuffles over towards the back room, smiling, but stops as
he gets there, coughing heavily, his hand to his mouth. After the
coughing stops he takes his hand away and looks down at it for a
moment. Its covered in blood. Billy loses his smile, turns the oil lamp
down and exits to the back room. Fade to black.
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