An aside before there’s anything for it to be an aside to: It’s Tuesday afternoon. I was just working on my novel. It is entirely autobiographical, you should know, except that it is also a complete wish-fulfillment fantasy. Ergo, the two cats I had in 1998, when the year the novel begins, is in it. Sally, who dies a few years before that is in it, too, as is Skipper, the cat my family had for only part of a year before a dog got him, when I was ten or eleven. The reason for this aside is that I wanted to tell you that I just now saw a line in which I said Suzy, one of my cats at the time, “was not a bouncy, friendly cat like Shirley,” the other cat I had then (not to be confused with the one I have now, Shirley II). I think it amusing that I was upset that I’d written that about Suzy, who was definitely a friendly cat, although not very bouncy, so I changed the passage to “was not as bouncy a friendly cat as Shirley.” Wouldn’t want my readers to think badly of the poor thing.
Now back to the following, which I transformed from a language poem back to conventionality:
Act 1, scene ii: HORACE, a man in his early thirties, is pacing in a
dimly-lit, nondescript living room.
HORACE: If only there were something I could do.
If only there were something I could do.
But. neither reason nor the costliest
deodorant available can work
me into his sweet place in her esteem.
Nor have my deep-wailed pleas to heaven won
me even half-an-angel’s-breath of aid.
Woe, woe, oh, woe. I flicker sadly through
her blank unconsciousness of me, my doomed
soul dimmed to something only owls could see,
my heart a crypt about to close on it.
Oh, me; oh, my; oh, me; oh, me; oh, me.
MARGARET: Oh, me; oh, me; oh, me? Good Jesus, Horace,
what is wrong with you?! (She bursts onstage out of a door
as she finishes putting on a bathrobe.) The day has shrunk
to 4 A.M. You ouqht to be in bed,
not rasping pathological oh me’s
against the sleep of your superiors!
HORACE: Oh, Mother, dearest Mother, you can’t know
how miserably unbearable my life’s
become. It’s but an earthworm sandwich made
with neither mayonnaise nor butter. Each
day Ursula repudiates my love
with greater ardor! What, oh, what, am I–
(Enter JULIUS through a window.)
MARGARET: Good Christ, what lout through yonder window breaks?
Quick, Horace, club the creep!
JULIUS: Hey, just a minute. I don’t breaka nothin’.
she’sa open. And she looksa just lika mine, so I comes t’rough.
Youse got no calla to clubba me.
HORACE: Of course I do! In case you didn’t know, it’s aainst the
law to come through other people’s windows without permission.
JULIUS: Even if I’m a dreama come t’rough?
HORACE: What are you talking about? You’re no dream come true;
you’re a damned burglar who’s just gained illegal entry to this house
and I’m going to. call the police!
JULIUS: Hey, wait.a minute, Boss. I might be a damma burglar, but
youse hearda the lady: she says I’m a lout. Besides, I am a dreama
come t’rough~-if you wantsa this Ursula.
MARGARET: Give me the damned club, Horace. I’ll take care of this
cretin if you won’t! You call the police. (She approacnes Horace.)
HORACE: Hold on, Mother. First I want to find out what he knows about Ursula.
JULIUS: Hey, Boss, I don’t know thisa Ursula from a Lemona meringuea
pie, but womens, thems I doesa know, an’ I kniowsa how to get them.
JULIUS: Hey, I knows a froma the outside youse needsa the help with
the girl. I got psychica giftsa an’ they tellsa me. That’sa the
real reason I’ma climb t’rough the window. Your needsa was forcin’
me to comea to youse!
MARGARET: All right, then, I’ll call the police.
HORACE: No, Mother, please. Let me just hear what he has to say.
MARGARET: Good grief.
HORACE: So? Just how do you think you can help me with Ursula?
JULIUS: Hey, who knows? ‘ All, I can tella youse is
And it won’t costa you a arma an’ a lega, neither!
of it in advancea; is all I’ma charge.
HORACE, sarcastically: That’s all?
JULIUS: Yeah, I feelsa sorry for youse, so I do thisa for almosta free.
HORACE: You’re crazy. You haven’t given me the slightest idea of
what you might be able to do. It ‘s pretty obvious that you’re just
trying to wriggle out of your–
JULfUS: Hey, Boss, I know I’ma ask youse to takea tbe big chancea, so
I tellsa you what: I do it for free, and only fifteen dolla in advance!
HORACE: You’re really out of your–
JULIUS: Hey, y0use can even paya me in advancea after I does it, howsa that for fair?
MARGARET: Good grief. Horace, I’m going back to bed. If you finally
call the police and they want a statement from me, they’ll have to
wait until the morning. (Exit.)
HORACE: I really should call the police. It’s ab–
JULIUS, rushing over to him: No,no, Boss, don’t do that! I can
really helpa youse!
HORACE: Get away from me! (At this point, JULIUS bumps into HORACE.)
JULIUS: ‘Scuza. (He hurriedly backs away from Horace.)
HORACE, picking up the phone: I was insane to believe even for a moment that you could help me win Ursula. You’re just trying to trick me out of teaching you that you can’t just climb in any open window that you–
JULIUS: No, no, youse got it alla wrong. Look, here’sa my picture
witha my namea, Sean O’ Casey, ona the back. (He pulls out a wallet
and hands Horace a photograph from it.) That’ s a from when I hava
the beard. If I tricksa youse, youse can justa show the policea
that an’ hava me ina the slammer quick. That way yousea covered,
Boss. Trusta me, I no tricksa youse.
HORACE, putting the phone back down and taking the picture:
Wait a minute. This is a picture of Ursula! And that’s my wallet you have! (Pause.)
JULIUS: Yeah, yousea right: it’sa your wallet! (Pause.) But how is
it it’sa me what’s got it, hunh? (Brief Pause.) Hey, Boss, you ever
hears ofa the psychokinesis? Well, that’s only one ofa my psychica
giftsa. Another, which I justa remember, isa hypnosis. I can use
that for youse with this Ursula. So forgeta the slammer an’ hirea
HORACE: Ah, you. propose to hypnotize, Ursula into loving me.
JULIUS: Nah, I can’ta do that. I only makesa people thinka
HORACE: You can only hypnotize people into thinking they’re chickens!?
JULIUS: Youse thinks thisa hypnosis isa easy?
HORACE: No, not necessarily. I just think that if–
JULIUS: Listen, ifa the hypnosis isa so easy, I coulda make youse
giva me everything ina the house an’ let me go. Why I no do that?
‘Cause the hypnosis, she’sa hard. Usea the bean, Boss. Nobody hasa
the room for mqre than a little ofa the hypnotic capacity, an’ all I
hasa isa for to changea people intoa the chicken. Or vice ofa the
HORACE: But what possible good would it do to turn Ursula into
JULIUS: Hey, what kinda man is gonna stay with a chickena? This guy
who got her, he’sa drop her fast!
HORACE: How ignorant you are, poor fool. No man
on earth could disconnect from Ursula
though she erupt in boils and breathe black flames!
Her soul would make a coat of leprosy
a fashion all Chicago’d fight to wear!
The filigree of her least thought would win
a thousand worshippers through any stink
of cancer you could mar her beauty with!
The perk of what she is, is far too rare
to be susceptible–
JULIUS: Okay, okay, I getsa your drifta!
HORACE: Besides, there’s no
way I could let you desecrate the flow
of her nobility of form and hue.
There’s no way I could let you desecrate–
JULIUS: Okay, okay! I tellsa you what I does: I hypnotizea the guy
she’sa hot into; I makesa hima .the chicken. (Pause.) That way, he
doesn’ta droppa her, she dropsa him!
HORACE: I don’t know. She’s very loyal. And making him act like a chicken wouldn’t make her boyfriend much less than the dweeb he already is.
JULIUS: How you knows a that tilla we tries it? (Pause.) Justa give
it somea thought: what youse got to losea? If I no helpa youse, youse
just losea the happiness ofa shuttin’ a poor misguideda soul what
comesa accidentally t’rough your window into the jaila. But if I
helpsa youse, youse winsa the Ursula! (Pause.)
HORACE: You can really hypnotize people?
HORACE: it could work. T~is North–that’s her boyfriend–fancies
a philosopher. If he suddenly started acting like a chicken,
so disturb his mind that he’d forget even Ursula.
JULIUS: North? Not Larry North?
HORACE: Yes. Why? Db you know him?
JULIUS, laughing: Why, sure. Thisa North, he’s my nexta-door
neighbor except for a few houses.
HORACE: So you wouldn’t want to hypnotize him, after all.
JULIUS: Hey, sure I doesa it For fifteen dollars inna the advance.
He’sa not my friend, justa my neighbor. An’ he’sa too big onna the
positivista school of philosophy fora my tastea.
HORACE: And you could hypnotize him?
JULIUS: Hey, I guarantees it, Boss.
HORACE, suddenly exploding: Okay, okay! What have I got to lose?
For neither reason nor the costliest
deodorant available has worked
me into his sweet place in her esteem.
Nor have my deep-wailed pleas to heaven won
me even half-an-angel’s-breath . .
JULIUS, overlapping the last part of Horace’s speech:
spirit, Boss. (Curtain.)
I am now fairly certain, by the way, that I will go with the 1996 version of this play–but I may try to find a way to use some passages in the above. Especially the punsa.