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A Parody Outline of History(23)

2006-09-07 21:56

  ACT II

  Eugene O'Neill)

  SCENE I

  The bedroom of a bachelor apartment in New York City in the Fall of 1920.

  There is about the room an air of neglect, as though the occupant did not particularly give a damn whether he slept in this room or in hell. This is evidenced in a general way by the absence of any attempts at decoration and by the presence of dirty laundry and unopened letters scattered about the room.

  The furniture consists of a bed and a bureau; at the foot of the former is a trunk such as was used by American army officers in the recent war.

  Although it is three in the morning, the bed is unoccupied. The electric light over the bureau has been left lighted.

  The lamp flickers and goes out for a minute; when it again flashes on, the Angel and the Professor's Son are seen standing in the room, as though they had come there directly from the close of the preceding act; the Angel, however, has completely removed all Y.M.C.A. insignia and now has a beard and chews tobacco; from time to time he spits out of the window.

  The angel——Why the hell weren't you satisfied to stay in heaven?

  The Professor's Son——Well, I just wanted to see my old buddies once more—— I want to see them enjoying the gratitude of the world.

  The Angel——Hmmmm——well, this is where your Lieutenant now lives—— and I think I hear him coming.

  They step behind a curtain. The noise of a key rattling in a lock is heard, then a light flashes on in the next room. The sound of unsteady footsteps——a vase is knocked over——a curse—— then enter the Lieutenant.

  He wears a dinner-coat, one sleeve of which hangs empty. His face is white, his eyes set, his mouth hard and hopeless. He is drunk——not hilariously——but with the drunkenness of despair.

  He sits down on the bed and remains for several minutes, his head in his hands.

  The Lieutenant——God, I'm drunk——(after a pause)—— drunk again——well, what of it——what the hell difference does it make——get drunk if I want to——sure I will——get drunk—— that's the dope DRUNK——oh Christ!——

  He throws himself on the bed and after lying there a few minutes sits up.

  The Lieutenant——Gotta have another drink——can't go sleep, God damn it——brain too clear——gotta kill brain——that's the dope—— kill brain——forget——wipe out past——

  He opens the trunk in his search for liquor. He suddenly pulls out his lieutenant's coat and holds it up,

  The Lieutenant——There's that God damn thing——never wanted to see it again—— wound stripes on right sleeve, too——hurrah for brave soldier——arm shot off to——to make world safe for democracy——blaa——the god damn hypocrites—— democracy hell——arm shot off because I wasn't clever enough to stay out of it——ought to have had sense enough to join the——the ordinance department or——or the Y.M.C.A.

  He feels aimlessly through the pockets of the coat. Suddenly, from the inside breast pocket he draws out something——a photograph——

  The Lieutenant——Ellen! Oh God!

  He gazes at the picture for a long time.

  The Lieutenant——Yes, Ellen, I should have joined the Y.M.C.A. shouldn't I?——where they don't get their arms shot off—— couldn't marry a man with one arm, could you?——of course not—— think of looking at an empty sleeve year after year—— children might be born with only one arm, too——children——oh God damn you, Ellen, you and your Y.M.C.A. husband!

  He tears the picture in two and hurls it into the trunk. Then he sinks onto the bed, sobbing drunkenly. After a few minutes, he walks over to the trunk and picks up one half of the torn picture. He turns it over in his hand and reads the writing on the back.

  The Lieutenant(Reading)——"I'm waiting for you, dear——when you have done your bit 'for the freedom of the world'."

  He smiles, wearily, and reaches down to pick up the other half of the picture. His eye is caught by something shiny; it is his army revolver. He slowly picks it up and looks at it for a long time.

  The Lieutenant——For the freedom of the world——

  He quickly opens his top bureau drawer and takes out a box of cartridges. One of these he inserts in a chamber of his revolver.

  The Lieutenant——For the FREEDOM——

  He laughs.

  As the curtain falls he presses the revolver against his temple and fires.

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