Swans Commentary » swans.com April 19, 2010  



Silence Please


by Peter Byrne


Short Play



(Swans - April 19, 2010)  

•   Don't let it bother you.

•   It gives me the creeps.

•   It could be worse. Some of them forget your name.

•   My name she knows. But she makes me feel like someone is standing beside me.

•   She looks at him?

•   No, she looks at me, but she sees him.

•   How do you know?

•   Because what she says is for him.

•   Look, if she says it to you, I wouldn't complain. Things could be worse. Think of Leonard.

•   Complain? I can't get a word in. But it gives me the creeps.

•   You don't remember Leonard? His wife just stopped talking one day.

•   So?

•   She never started again. It was as if he wasn't there. Not another word to him.

•   I don't remember any Leonard.

•   He thought he'd have to have her put away.

•   That's not my problem here.

•   He sent her to the doctor with her mother. Leonard could hear them talking when they got out the front door. He felt that wasn't right.

•   Was he a tall guy with a dent mark on the side of his forehead?

•   You know, I can't remember. But they sent some woman social worker to see him.

•   She talk?

•   She must have. Anyway he claimed she was a great lay.

•   It gives me the creeps. I get goose pimples.

•   There are things you have to overlook, close your eyes to.

•   You think he laid her?

•   Leonard? He said he did with bells on. But I have my doubts. She slams her car door, buzzes the door and in she comes. Hello Mr. Leonard Whatever. I'm here about your wife's problem, so where's the bed? My condom or yours? Who would believe that?

•   So I close my eyes. But she just keeps talking to this other guy.

•   The guy beside you?

•   I said it was like there was someone beside me. But sometimes he's behind me, an older man.

•   Leonard said he never had it so good. Like being single again. Of course it cost him plenty. First of the month she had to have her check or her lawyer was on to him.

•   He didn't have her put away?

•   That's the funny part. He blamed her mother. She never stopped talking.

•   Sometimes it's a child. It stands in front of me, no higher than my waist.

•   Your wife like kids?

•   It's creepy when she starts with the baby talk

•   She's pulling your leg. It's all in fun.

•   You're saying I don't have a sense of humor? Forget that. She's dead serious with the old man, explaining all she's done since the last time she's seen him. It's hard to take.

•   But it's not as though the old boy actually lives with you. And the younger guy? Has she tried to move him in?

•   It's not like that at all. I told you that he's not really there beside me. But she kind of flirts with him.

•   I can see that it could be annoying.

•   Annoying? I feel a chill run up my back when she starts.

•   Do they ever gang up on you, the four of them?

•   It hasn't happened yet. She doesn't have them around together. But, who knows, she might, a talker like her. Then I'd have the kid squalling, and the two men sizing each other up.

•   I wouldn't like that at all. Leonard's wife didn't do that.

•   No, she gave him the silent treatment. I'd like that.

•   But that wasn't the end of it. Leonard, the single life -- it didn't work out for him. He blamed it on the monthly payments but I figure he'd always been ill-adapted to existence.

•   All I remember is that dent in his forehead. I suppose it predated the trouble with his wife.

•   The wife had shut up permanently. The trouble was with her mother. She kept coming around and filling cartons with household items. She'd chew Leonard out while she packed the stuff.

•   I know the type.

•   The chump was broke and the house pretty empty. His mother-in-law went on about him not needing all that space.

•   A helpful soul.

•   As a matter of fact, she offered to give him a hand, moving. In my opinion that did it. Together with all her talk, of course, which he wasn't used to.

•   Did what?

•   He started swinging at her. She told the judge her hands weren't even free. She was carrying a carton full of his beer steins.

•   Leonard attacked his mother-in-law?

•   Tried to brain her, she said. They had him put away.

•   My God! That goes to show you.

•   What?

•   How words can trip you up.

•   Well, you have to keep your eyes open. But not too wide.


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Swans -- ISSN: 1554-4915
URL for this work: http://www.swans.com/library/art16/pbyrne124.html
Published April 19, 2010