Dramatic Texts >> William Saroyan >> Hello Out There

HELLO OUT THERE by William Saroyan
 
A Play in One Act
 

Characters
THE YOUNG GAMBLER
THE HUSBAND
THE WIFE
THE GIRL
ANOTHER MAN

 

[There is a fellow in a small-town prison cell, tapping slowly on the floor with a spoon. After tapping half a minute as if he were trying to telegraph words, he gets up and begins walking around the cell. At last he stops, stands at the center of the cell, and doesn't move for a long time. He feels his head, as if it were wounded. Then he looks around. Then he calls out]

YOUNG MAN
Hello -- out there! [Pause] Hello -- out there! [Long pause] Hello -- out there!

[A girl's voice is heard]


THE VOICE
Hello.


YOUNG MAN
Is that you, Katey?


THE VOICE
No -- this here is Emily.


YOUNG MAN
Who?


THE VOICE
Emily.


YOUNG MAN
Emily who? I don't know anybody named Emily. Are you the girl I met at Sam's in Salinas about three years ago?


THE VOICE
No -- I'm the girl who cooks here. I'm the cook. I've never been to Salinas. I don't even know where it is.


YOUNG MAN
You say you cook here?


THE VOICE
Yes, I do.


YOUNG MAN
Well, why don't you cook something good?


THE VOICE
I just cook what they tell me to. [Pause] You lonesome?


YOUNG MAN
Lonesome as a coyote. Hear me hollering? Hello out there!


THE VOICE
Who you hollering to?


YOUNG MAN
Well -- nobody, I guess. I been trying to think of somebody to write a letter to, but I can't think of anybody.


THE VOICE
What about Katey?


YOUNG MAN
I don't know anybody named Katey.


THE VOICE
Then why did you say, Is that you, Katey?


YOUNG MAN
Katey's a good name. I always did like a name like Katey. I never knew anybody named Katey, though.


THE VOICE
I did.


YOUNG MAN
Yeah? What was she like? Big girl, or little one?


THE VOICE
Little.


YOUNG MAN
What sort of girl are you?


THE VOICE
Oh, I don't know.


YOUNG MAN
Didn't anybody ever tell you? Didn't anybody ever talk to you that way?


THE VOICE
What way?


YOUNG MAN
You know. Didn't they?


THE VOICE
No, they didn't.


YOUNG MAN
They should have. I can tell from your voice you're OK.


THE VOICE
Maybe I am and maybe I ain't.


YOUNG MAN
I never missed yet.


THE VOICE
Yeah, I know. That's why you're in jail.


YOUNG MAN
The whole thing was a mistake.


THE VOICE
They claim it was rape.


YOUNG MAN
No -- it wasn't.


THE VOICE
That's what they claim it was.


YOUNG MAN
They're a lot of fools.


THE VOICE
Well, you sure are in trouble. Are you scared?


YOUNG MAN
Scared to death. [Suddenly] Hello out there!


THE VOICE
What do you keep saying that for all the time?


YOUNG MAN

I'm lonesome. I'm as lonesome as a coyote. [A long one] Hello -- out there!

[The girl appears, over to one side. She is a plain girl in plain clothes]


THE GIRL
I'm kind of lonesome, too.


YOUNG MAN
[turning and looking at her] Hey -- No fooling? Are you lonesome, too?


THE GIRL
Yeah -- I'm almost as lonesome as a coyote myself.


YOUNG MAN
Who you lonesome for?


THE GIRL
I don't know.


YOUNG MAN
It's the same with me. The minute they put you in a place like thsi you remember all the girls you ever knew, and all the girls you didn't get to know, and it sure gets lonesome.


THE GIRL
I bet it does.


YOUNG MAN
Ah, it's awful. [Pause] You're a pretty girl, you know that?


THE GIRL
You're just talking.


YOUNG MAN
No, I'm not just talking -- you are pretty.


THE GIRL
I'm not -- and you know it.


YOUNG MAN
No -- you are. I knew Texas would bring me luck.


THE GIRL
Luck? You're in jail, aren't you? You've got a whole gang of people all worked up, haven't you?


YOUNG MAN
Ah, that's nothing. I'll get out of this.


THE GIRL
Maybe.


YOUNG MAN
No, I'll be all right -- now.


THE GIRL
What do you mean -- now?


YOUNG MAN
I mean after seeing you. I got something now. You know for a while there I didn't care one way or another. Tired. [Pause] But I'm not tired any more. Hello out there.


THE GIRL
Who you calling now?


YOUNG MAN
You.


THE GIRL
Why, I'm right here.


YOUNG MAN
I know. [softly] Hello out there!


THE GIRL
Hello.


YOUNG MAN
Ah, you're sweet. [Pause] I'm going to marry you. I'm going away with you. I'm going to take you to San Francisco. I'm going to win myself some real money, too. I'm going to study 'em real careful and pick myself some winners, and we're going to have a lot of money.


THE GIRL
Yeah?


YOUNG MAN
Yeah. Tell me your name.


THE GIRL
Emily Smith.


YOUNG MAN
Honest to God?


THE GIRL
Honest. That's my name -- Emily Smith.


YOUNG MAN
Ah, you're the sweetest girl in the whole world.


THE GIRL
Why?


YOUNG MAN
I don't know why, but you are, that's all. Where were you born?


THE GIRL
Matador, Texas.


YOUNG MAN
Where's that?


THE GIRL
Right here.


YOUNG MAN
Is this Matador, Texas?


THE GIRL
Yeah, it's Matador. They brought you here from Wheeling.


YOUNG MAN
Is that where I was -- Wheeling?


THE GIRL
Didn't you even know what town you were in?


YOUNG MAN
All towns are alike. It doesn't make any difference. How far away is Wheeling?


THE GIRL
Sixteen or seventeen miles. Didn't you know they moved you?


YOUNG MAN
How could I know when I was out -- cold? Somebody hit me over the head with a lead pipe or something. What'd he hit me for?


THE GIRL
Rape -- that's what they said.


YOUNG MAN
Ah, that's a lie. [amazed, almost to himself] She wanted me to give her money.


THE GIRL
Money?


YOUNG MAN
Yeah. If I'd have known she was a woman like that, I'd have gone on down the street and stretched out in a park somewhere and gone to sleep.


THE GIRL
Is that what she wanted -- money?


YOUNG MAN
Yeah. A fellow like me traveling all over the country, trying to break his bad luck, going from one poor little town to another, trying to find somebody good somewhere, and she asks for money. I thought she was lonesome. She said she was.


THE GIRL
Maybe she was.


YOUNG MAN
She was something.


THE GIRL
I guess I'd never see you, if it didn't happen, though.


YOUNG MAN
Oh, I don't know -- maybe I'd just mosey along this way and see you in this town somewhere. I'd recognize you, too.


THE GIRL
Recognize me?


YOUNG MAN
Sure, I'd recognize you the minute I laid eyes on you.


THE GIRL
Well, who would I be?


YOUNG MAN
Mine, that's who.


THE GIRL
Honest?


YOUNG MAN
Honest to God.


THE GIRL
You just say that because you're in jail.


YOUNG MAN
No, I mean it. You just pack up and wait for me. We'll high-tail the hell out of here to San Francisco.


THE GIRL
You're just lonesome.


YOUNG MAN
I been lonesome all my life -- there's no cure for that -- but you and me -- we can have a lot of fun hanging around together. You'll bring me luck. I know you will.


THE GIRL
What are you looking for luck for all the time?


YOUNG MAN
I'm a gambler. I don't work. I've got to have luck or I'm no good. I haven't had any luck in years. Two whole years now -- one place to another. Bad luck all the time. That's why I got in trouble back there in Wheeling, too. That was no accident. That was my bad luck following me around. So here I am, with my head half busted. I guess it was her old man that did it.


THE GIRL
You mean her father?


YOUNG MAN
No, her husband. If I had an old lady like that, I'd throw her out.


THE GIRL
Do you think you'll have better luck if I go with you?


YOUNG MAN
Yes, of course. It's no good searching the streets for anything that might be there at the time. You got to have somebody who's right. Somebody who knows you, from way back. You got to have somebody who even knows you're wrong but likes you just the same. I know I'm wrong, but I can't help it. If you go along with me, I'll be the best man anybody ever saw. I won't be wrong any more. You know when you get enough money, you can't be wrong anymore -- you're right because the money says so. I'll have a lot of money and you'll be just about the prettiest girl in the whole world. I'll be proud walking around San Francisco with you on my arm and people turning to look at us.


THE GIRL
Do you think they will?


YOUNG MAN
Sure they will. When I get back in some decent clothes, and you're on my arm -- well, Katey, they'll turn and look, and they'll see something, too.


THE GIRL
Katey?


YOUNG MAN
Yeah -- that's your name from now on. You're the girst girl I ever called Katey. I've been saving it for you. OK?


THE GIRL
Okay.


YOUNG MAN
How long have I been here?


THE GIRL
Since last night. You didn't wake up until late this morning, though.


YOUNG MAN
What time is it now? About nine?


THE GIRL
About ten.


YOUNG MAN
Have you got the key to this lousy cell?


THE GIRL
No. They don't let me fool with any keys.


YOUNG MAN
Well, can you get it?


THE GIRL
No.


YOUNG MAN
Can you try?


THE GIRL
They wouldn't let me get near any keys. I cook for this jail when they've got somebody in it. I clean up, and things like that.


YOUNG MAN
Well, I want to get out of here. Don't you know the guy who runs this joint?


THE GIRL
I know him, but he wouldn't let you out. They were talking of taking you to another jail in another town.


YOUNG MAN
Yeah? Why?


THE GIRL
Because they're afraid.


YOUNG MAN
What are they afraid of?


THE GIRL
They're afraid those people from Wheeling will come over in the middle of the night and break in.


YOUNG MAN
Yeah? What do they want to do that for?


THE GIRL
Don't you know what they want to do it for?


YOUNG MAN
Yeah, I know all right.


THE GIRL
Are you scared?


YOUNG MAN
Sure I'm scared. Nothing scares a man more than ignorance. You can argue with people who ain't fools, but you can't argue with
fools -- they just go to work and do what they're set on doing. Get me out of here.


THE GIRL
How?


YOUNG MAN
Well, go get the guy with the key, and let me talk to him.


THE GIRL
He's gone home. Everybody's gone home.


YOUNG MAN
You mean I'm in this little jail all alone?


THE GIRL
Well -- yeah -- except me.


YOUNG MAN
Well, what's the big idea -- doesn't anybody stay here all the time?


THE GIRL
No, they go home every night. I clean up and then I go, too. I hung around tonight.


YOUNG MAN
What made you do that?


THE GIRL
I wanted to talk to you.


YOUNG MAN
What did you want to talk about?


THE GIRL
Oh, I don't know. I took care of you last night. You were talking in your sleep. You liked me, too. I didn't think you'd like me when you woke up, though.


YOUNG MAN
Yeah? Why not?


THE GIRL
I don't know.


YOUNG MAN
Yeah? Well, you're wonderful, see?


THE GIRL
Nobody ever talked to me that way. All the fellows in town -- they -- [Pause]


YOUNG MAN
What about 'em? [Pause] Well, what about 'em? Come on -- tell me.


THE GIRL
They laugh at me.


YOUNG MAN
Laugh at you? What do they know about anything? You go get your things and come back here. I'll take you to San Francisco. How old are you?


THE GIRL
Oh, I'm of age.


YOUNG MAN
How old are you? -- Don't lie to me! Sixteen?


THE GIRL
I'm seventeen.


YOUNG MAN
Well, bring your father and mother. We'll get married before we go.


THE GIRL
They wouldn't let me go.


YOUNG MAN
Why not?


THE GIRL
I don't know, but they wouldn't. I know they wouldn't.


YOUNG MAN
You go tell your father not to be a fool, see? What is he, a farmer?


THE GIRL
No -- nothing. He gets a little relief from the government because he's supposed to be hurt or something -- his side hurts, he says. I don't know what it is.


YOUNG MAN
Ah, he's a liar. Well, I'm taking you with me, see?


THE GIRL
He takes the money I earn, too.


YOUNG MAN
He's got no right to do that.


THE GIRL
I know, but he does it.


YOUNG MAN [almost to himself]
You shouldn't have been born in this town anyway, and you shouldn't have had a man like that for a father, either.


THE GIRL
Sometimes I feel sorry for him.


YOUNG MAN
Never mind feeling sorry for him. [Pointing a finger] I'm going to talk to your father some day. I've got a few things to tell him.


THE GIRL
I know you have.


YOUNG MAN [suddenly]
See if you can get that fellow with the keys to come down and let me out.


THE GIRL
Oh, I couldn't.


YOUNG MAN
Why not?


THE GIRL
I'm nobody here -- why, all they give me is fifty cents every day I work here -- sometimes twelve hours. I'm nobody here.


YOUNG MAN
Get me out of here, Katey. I'm scared.


THE GIRL
I don't know what to do. Maybe I could break the door down.


YOUNG MAN
No, you couldn't do that. Is there a hammer there or anything?


THE GIRL
Only a broom. Maybe they've locked the broom up, too.


YOUNG MAN
Go and see if you can find anything.


THE GIRL
All right. [She goes. She returns] There isn't a thing out there. They've locked everything up for the night.


YOUNG MAN
Any cigarettes?


THE GIRL
Everything's locked up -- all the drawers of the desk -- all the closet doors -- everything.


YOUNG MAN
I ought to have a cigarette.


THE GIRL
I could get you a package, maybe, somewhere. I guess the drug store's open. It's about a mile.


YOUNG MAN
A mile? I don't want to be alone that long.


THE GIRL
I could run all the way, and all the way back.


YOUNG MAN
You're the sweetest girl that ever lived.


THE GIRL
What kind do you want?


YOUNG MAN
Oh, any kind -- Chesterfields or Camels or Lucky Strikes -- any kind at all.


THE GIRL
I'll go get a package. [She turns to go]


YOUNG MAN
What about the money?


THE GIRL
I've got some money. I've got a quarter I been saving. I'll run all the way. [She is about to go]


YOUNG MAN
Come here.


THE GIRL [going to him]
What?


YOUNG MAN
Give me your hand. [He takes her hand and looks at it, smiling. He lifts it and kisses it] I'm scared to death.


THE GIRL
I am, too.


YOUNG MAN
I'm scared nobody will ever come out here to this God-forsaken broken-down town and find you. I'm scared you'll get used to it and not mind. I'm scared you'll never get to San Francisco and have 'em all turning to look at you. Listen -- go get me a gun.


THE GIRL
I could get my father's gun. I know where he hides it.


YOUNG MAN
Go get it. Never mind the cigarettes. Run all the way.

[The girl turns and runs. The Young Man stands at the center of the cell for a long time. The girl comes running back in. Almost crying]


THE GIRL
I'm afraid. I'm afraid I won't see you again. If I come back and you're not here, I -- It's so lonely in this town. I'll stay here. I won't let them take you away.


YOUNG MAN
Listen, Katey. Do what I tell you. Go get that gun and come back. Maybe they won't come tonight. Maybe they won't come at all. I'll hide the gun and when they let me out you can take it back and put it where you found it. And then we'll go away. Now, hurry --


THE GIRL
All right. [Pause] I want to tell you something.


YOUNG MAN
Okay.


THE GIRL [very softly]
If you're not here when I come back, well, I'll have the gun and I'll know what to do with it.


YOUNG MAN
You know how to handle a gun?


THE GIRL
I know how.


YOUNG MAN
Don't be a fool. [Takes off his shoe and brings out some currency] Don't be a fool, see? Here's some money. Eighty dollars. Take it and go to San Francisco. Look around and find somebody. Find somebody alive and halfway human, see? Promise me -- if I'm not here when you come back, just throw the gun away and go to San Francisco. Look around and find somebody.


THE GIRL
I don't want to find anybody.


YOUNG MAN [swiftly, desperately]
Now, do what I tell you. I'll meet you in San Francisco. I've got a couple of dollars in my other shoe. I'll see you in San Francisco.


THE GIRL [with wonder]
San Francisco?


YOUNG MAN
That's right -- San Francisco. That's where you and me belong.


THE GIRL
I've always wanted to go to some place like San Francisco -- but how could I go alone?


YOUNG MAN
Well, ytou're not alone any more, see?


THE GIRL
Tell me a little what it's like.


YOUNG MAN [very swiftly, almost impatiently at first, but gradually slower and with remembrance, smiling and the girl moving closer to him as he speaks]
Well, it's on the Pacific to begin with -- ocean all around. Cool fog and sea gulls. Ships from all over the world. It's got seven hills. The little streets go up and down, around and all over. Every night the fog-horns bawl. But they won't be bawling for you and me.


THE GIRL
Are people different in San Francisco?


YOUNG MAN
People are the same everywhere. They're different only when they love somebody. That's the only thing that makes 'em different. More people in San Francisco love somebody, that's all.


THE GIRL
Nobody anywhere loves anybody as much as I love you.


YOUNG MAN. [whispering] Hearing you say that, a man could die and still be ahead of the game. Now, hurry. And don't forget, if I'm not here when you come back, I'll meet you in San Francisco. [The girl stands a moment looking at him, then backs away, turns and runs. The Young Man stares after her, troubled and smiling. He sits down suddenly and buries his head in his hands. From the distance the sound of several automobiles approaching is heard.]

 

 

 

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