Salvation, p.5

Salvation, page 5

 

Salvation
 


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beggars, I remember, they were always grateful of the warmth and generosity my father showed them. But they were sick, fever-ridden and father had no option but to send us away. To my aunt on the Euston Road in London. I felt no ill-will toward my father, he felt it was his duty and I admire him for that. He didn’t want us at risk. Mother took us, that is, me and my brother Samuel, across the water on a large boat. I can remember the smell of fresh paint on it. As we left the dock mother turned to me and said ‘this is your country, don’t you forget that, it will always be here for you whenever you wish to return’. (Beat) I hope she is watching me. (Beat) She fell ill when she came back here, contracting the fever on the return journey. My father nursed her but sadly she passed soon afterward. He continued to run the surgery and soup-kitchen and made it his quest to defeat the fever. And those are my sentiments, now. I have felt so guilty about what happened to my mother.

  Beat.

  DEIRDRE. Do you have any stories for me? More joyful ones?

  AIDAN. (Thinks) A little while ago, the little scamp Peter Doyle put manure in Mary's shoes. She was outraged.

  DEIRDRE. (She laughs) How awful…!

  AIDAN. And there was the time he stole her smock away from her while she was cleaning herself in the yard. She couldn’t move for her nakedness!

  DEIRDRE. Did he give it back to her?

  AIDAN. No!

  DEIRDRE. How did she…?

  AIDAN. I heard that two nurses had to stand one in front and one behind to shield her. The inmates were jeering and shouting from the windows.

  Deirdre laughs.

  AIDAN. It was a strange sound, the laughter, a rare noise. It can be lifeless here. Meeting you, Nurse Jacob, has been the most interesting thing that has ever happened to me.

  DEIRDRE. Thank you. (Beat) I met a friend of yours earlier, Paddy.

  AIDAN. How is he?

  DEIRDRE. Guardian Power pushes him around. He could contract the disease with all the work he does. Nonetheless; I found him to be amusing.

  AIDAN. (With gritted teeth) Amusing?

  DEIRDRE. Making me laugh with all the tomfoolery you have been getting up to together.

  AIDAN. He spoke of me?

  DEIRDRE. Of course! He is your friend, isn’t he?

  AIDAN. What did he say?

  DEIRDRE. That you enjoy drinking and playing cards.

  AIDAN. (With venom) That's not true!

  DEIRDRE. Aidan!

  AIDAN. Wait ‘til I get my hands on him.

  She goes to him, holds him. He tears himself away.

  AIDAN. Whatever he said about me, it isn't true.

  DEIRDRE. It's good to know there is life in you. I understand you wish to rebel. Who wouldn’t after being holed up for over ten years? You drink a bit of rum and play a little game, so what? You're human, I like that about you.

  Beat.

  AIDAN. So there is nothing between yourself and Guardian Power?

  She sighs and turns away from him.

  DEIRDRE. Why are you asking that? Did I not tell you I'm turning down his invitation?

  Pause.

  AIDAN. It's a better life. What can I offer you? Everything you need lies with him. Hot meals, clean water, nice quarters, medicine. All I've got is seashells and a rotten stink all over me. He smells like cooked dinners and soap. Soap? The only soap I know is used to wash floors, not people. Go to him, it's easier for us all this way.

  DEIRDRE. I do not want Guardian Power.

  AIDAN. (Slightly delusionary) I've been in hell for years. Hell makes you believe there is no hope but when you came along, heaven was in my sights. You taught me there is more and I want more! You make me alive and…

  She holds a finger to his lips.

  DEIRDRE. The mortuary. Tomorrow night.

  She runs off.

  Aidan locates the flower he threw away earlier in the scene and twirls it in his fingers.

  He stops, holds his chest and coughs, violently. He shakes it off, goes to his bucket, takes out the washcloth and starts washing the floor, whistling.

  Mary appears from behind the altar, watches Aidan for a few moments and creeps out.

  Switch to:- Mortuary.

  Paddy is sitting on a slab, drinking.

  The body of Margaret Finney, covered with a sheet is lying on one of the slabs.

  Paddy drinks and looks at the body, he then slowly moves over to it and puts a hand out, wanting to remove the sheet. He snatches his hand away, takes out his bottle and drinks heavily from it. Repeats. He then removes the sheet and is stunned by what he sees. He gags, nearly throws up and replaces the sheet. He walks back to his original slab, sits and puts his head in his hands, then looks to the ceiling.

  Mary enters.

  PADDY. (Drunk) I'll have that cart pulled before the stars come out, missus.

  MARY. Doubts.

  PADDY. Missus?

  MARY. I had three older brothers. When we were children we spent our days running. Running around the field like a new litter of puppies. We laughed so hard when we ran out of breath. Gerry, the eldest, was the fastest, the strongest. Then James, he was the middle brother. I was third fastest, as Eoin, he had a gimpy leg and couldn’t get too far without stopping. He had the loudest laugh, though, he always seemed to be having the most fun. (Paddy has passed out on the slab) Our father could be a cruel man. But never to me, he said I was special. My brothers felt his wrath, the shouting, the arguments. He could be wild with a cane, my father. I never found out why Eoin had that gimpy leg but… Father passed when I was sixteen. I found him with bruises all over his face and chest. It was one of my brothers; I haven’t the proof but I am certain of that. They felt liberated. They started to drink and bring whores back to the house. Mother was becoming ill because of it. She wanted them to leave and they disobeyed until one day, a soldier, at least I think he was a soldier, came to our door. The next thing I knew my three brothers were packing bags and leaving home. The man at the door stopped Eoin and I can clearly remember him saying - 'G'way, lad, you'll be no use'. Gerry and James patted Eoin on the back and embraced him, then they left, laughing and joking, in a cart pulled by a large horse. I never saw Gerry and James again and I pray for them everyday. My father and two brothers had left and next, was Eoin. He begged people for work but none was given to him for his leg. He took to the drink, not unlike yourself, Patrick, I understand why you feed yourself that poison. He went out walking one night after two bottles of rum and the last time I saw him he was head down in a puddle of mud, drowned. At his funeral I spoke with the priest and he told me about the light and the love of God. My brothers and father had left me and the good Father explained that God would never leave. (She goes over to Patrick and kicks him lightly to check he is asleep, he moans and turns over, unconscious) There is a Mr. Morrissey and there is even a Master Morrissey but that's best left in the past. I will have questions for God when I leave this place, He has a lot to answer for in terms of my own family. (To the ceiling) I love You, my Lord, but if my boy Aidan is taken from me I feel I must doubt You further. You have given me this life. This life that has seen everybody I have loved leave. You owe me this. The life You have given me owes me this.

  She pauses, shuts her eyes, she is close to tears.

  She begins to walk off but before exiting, looks at the body of Margaret Finney and spits on it.

  This rouses Paddy.

  PADDY. Missus?

  She looks at Paddy and walks off.

  Paddy sees the rope around his waist.

  PADDY. Pull the cart, boy, like a horse.

  He exits.

  Lights fade.

 

  ACT ONE

  SCENE THREE

  The mortuary.

  Aidan and Deirdre waking up on a slab.

  DEIRDRE. Don’t be afraid.

  AIDAN. I’m not. I want us to start our lives together anew.

  DEIRDRE. That's what I want, too.

  AIDAN. What did ye do about Power?

  DEIRDRE.
I gave him a small amount of my time. (Aidan turns away from her) Don’t be like that, darling. I yawned my way through his stupid jokes and stories.

  AIDAN. (Turning back to her) He'll get ye, I can't compete.

  DEIRDRE. Don't be silly.

  AIDAN. Ye want me over an almighty Guardian?

  DEIRDRE. I certainly do. (Pause) I asked him about your parents.

  Aidan sits up, annoyed.

  AIDAN. What? What did you ask?

  DEIRDRE. No need to be upset.

  AIDAN. Ye had no right asking.

  DEIRDRE. You need to know the truth.

  Pause.

  AIDAN. (Very reluctantly) Well…well what did the tyrant have to say for himself? Lies, I would wager.

  DEIRDRE. He said that…

  There is a noise at the door, they are scared by it.

  AIDAN. Hide!

  Aidan lies back on the slab and covers them both with the sheet.

  Patrick enters with the rope still tied around his waist carrying sheets.

  He puts the sheets in the cupboard, or wherever is suitable. He starts to pick his nose, scratch himself. Maybe even takes a drink. He is about to leave when he notices the slab with Aidan and Deirdre on. He moves slowly to it and then yanks the sheet away.

  PADDY. (Jumping back, aghast) For the love of Jesus!

  AIDAN. Paddy…

  PADDY. I thought the dead had risen!

  AIDAN. Patrick!

  PADDY. This is much worse!

  AIDAN. Oi!

  PADDY. Has the drink finally ripped my senses away from me?

  He approaches the pair and places his hands on their faces.

  PADDY. You are both real. Very real.

  DEIRDRE. Patrick…

  PADDY. Aidan! And Nurse Deirdre! The scandal!

  Aidan gets up and slaps Paddy.

  PADDY. (With eyes closed) Thank you. Thank you. I thought I was headed for the idiot room there…

  Deirdre gets up, drapes the sheet around her.

  AIDAN. (To Deirdre) We have
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