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Authors: The Anthem Sprinters (and Other Antics) (v2.1)

Bradbury, Ray - SSC 10

BOOK: Bradbury, Ray - SSC 10
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THE

ANTHEM
SPRINTERS

And
Other Antics
by

THE DIAL PRESS
      
NEW YORK
      
1963

Ray Bradbury

 

 

COPYRIGHT
©
1963 BY RAY BRADBURY

All Rights Reserved

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOG CARD NUMBER:
 
62-17689

Any
resemblance between the characters herein and actual per
sons living or dead is purely coincidental.

NOTICE!
No amateur or professional reading of this work
may be given without permission in writing from the author's
agent, Harold Matson Company, 30 Rockefeller Plaza,
New
York
20.

DESIGNED BY ALAN M. HEICKLEN

MANUFACTURED IN THE
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
BY
 
THE
 
COLONIAL
  
PRESS
  
INC.,
  
CLINTON
,
  
MASS.

To
John Huston,
who sent me after the
White
Whale;

To
Nick,

the
cab-driver of
Kilcock
,
who helped me in my Search;

To
Len and Beth
Probst
,
who found me when I was
lost;

and
to Maggie,
who brought me safely
home.

CHARACTERS

 

THE
  
OLD
  
MAN
  
(MIKE)

THE
  
YOUNG
  
MAN
  
(MC GUIRE)

HEEBER
 
FINN

KELLY

FEENEY

QUINLAN

KILPATRICK

THE
 
DOCTOR

PAT
 
NOLAN

MR.
  
PEEVEY

FLYNN

DONOVAN

CASEY

The
curtain
rises upon darkness. Later on, we will make out
certain details,
but
now, in the dark, we hear someone whistling
and
singing, off away
somewhere, an Irish ditty of some vintage
or other;
"Sweet
Molly
Malone" will do as well as any. The voice
fades,
then comes back, dies off into a kind of pumping
gasp, and at
last
we see
why, as
onto the stage, wobbling badly, exhausted,
pedals an old
man
on a bike. He more
falls than gets off the
damned thing
in
midstage
and lets the beast lie there at his feet
as he takes
off his cap and
wipes
his brow, shaking his head.

The Old Man
Old Man,
you're
not
what you once was!

He puts
away
his
handkerchief, puts on his cap, bends to heft
the bike, is still
too
winded and lets it fall.

Ah,
lie
there,
brute
that you
are!

He takes
out a
bottle and
eyes it sadly. There is but one last
fiery gulp in it. He
downs
it philosophically and holds it up to let
the last tiny drop fall
off on his tongue. As
he is doing so, we
hear
a car
approach, stage left. Its lights flash out in a beam
to spot
the old man,
who fends off the
light with his free hand.

Enough
of
that, now!

The lights go off, the motor cuts, a door opens and slams,
the
young man
enters, stage left.

The Young Man
Is anything wrong?

The Old Man
(blinking, peering)
You
made a bund man of me is all. Who's
there?
(Squints)

the young man,
uncertain, takes half a step.

The Young Man
Oh,
you don't know me—

The Old Man
That's
certain!
(Squints)
Is that an American voice I hear?

The Young Man
I
just got
ofi
the boat—

The Old Man
He just got off the boat! He did
indeed! Come closer!

the
young man
approaches.

There!
Me eyes are better.
An American face to go with the
American voice.

The Young Man
May
I
be
of assistance . . . ?

the old man
holds
the bottle up so it can drain its emptiness
on the air.

The Old Man

Well,
there's assistance
and
assistance. It came over me as I
pumped up the hill, one or the other of us, me or
this damned
vehicle
(He kicks the
bike gently),
is seventy years old.

The Young Man
Congratulations.

The Old Man
For
what? Breathing? That's a habit, not a virtue.

The Young Man
Let
me give you a lift.

The Old Man

No,
a moment's
rest,
thanks, and me and the beast will be
on
our way. We don't know where we're
going, Sally and me—
that's the damn
bike's name—ye see, but we pick a road each
day and give it a try.

the young man,
who
has been watchful and warming to this,
now
says, with real affection:

The Young Man
Does
your mother know you're out?

The Old Man
(surprised)

Strange
you say that! She does! Ninety-five she is, back there in
the cot! Mother, I said, I'll be gone the day;
leave the whisky
alone!

He laughs to himself, quietly.
I never married, you know.

The Young Man
I'm
sorry.

The Old Man

First
you congratulate me for being old and now you're sorry
I've no wife. It's sure you don't know
Ireland
. Being old and
having no wives is one of our principal industries! You see, a
man can't marry without property. You bide your
time till your
mother and father are
called Beyond. Then when their property's
yours, you look for a wife. It's a waiting game. I'll marry yet.

The Young Man
At
seventy?

The Old Man
(ruffling)

I'd
get twenty good years out of marriage with a fine woman,
even this late, do you doubt it!

The Young Man
(impressed)
I do not!

the old man
relaxes.

The Old Man
Now,
what are you up to, in
Ireland
?

The Young Man
I'm
looking for the Irish.

The Old Man
(surprised,
pleased,
then
mystified)
Ah, that's difficult. They come, they throw
shadows,
they
go.
You got one standing before you, now!

The Young Man
(smiling)
I know!

The Old Man
You
be a writer, of course.

The Young Man
How
did you guess!

The Old Man
(gestures)

The
country's overrun!
There's
writers turning over rocks
in
Cork
and writers fishing in dinghies off
Dun
Laoghaire
and
writers
trudging through bogs at
Kilashandra
. The day will
come,
mark me, when
they will be five writers for every human being
in the world!

The Young Man

Well,
writer I am, and Irish I'm after. What shapes the Irish to
their dooms, and runs them on their way?

the old man
eyes
the young
man
with not exactly suspicion,
but . . .

The Old Man

You're
in the country two hours and already you sound like an
actor in the midst of the Abbey Theatre stage!

The Young Man

Do
I? Well, my family's all from
Ireland
, fifty years ago. So I
came to see their town, their land—their—

The Old Man
(wincing)
Enough
! I got the sense of your jabber! Come here!

the young man
steps
closer,
the
old man
takes his shoulder.

All
right now, you say you want to bag the Irish in his lair?
find
him out?
write
him down? I'll take you to that place where you
can spy on him unbeknownst! And where you'll see an event that's Irish as
Irish can be—unseen before by outlander's eyes,
or if seen not believed, or if believed not understood!

The Young Man
(eagerly)
An Event?
a
fair?
a
circus?

The Old
Mais

A
sort
of circus, you might say
...
an unusual circumstance, the meeting of Fates is
better! Hurry on, man, or we'll miss it!

the
OLD
man
starts to trot,
with his bicycle.

The Young Man
My
car—

The Old Man
Leave
it there. It's not far.

TO
MUSIC:
the young man
follows
the old man
off into the
wings, right. They reappear almost immediately,
left,
the
old
man
on the bike this time, pumping unsteadily along.

The Old Man
(pointing)
Do
you see those men there, walking on the road?

The Young Man
(running
behind)
Yes!

The Old Man

That's
not quite
the Irish!

 

TO
MUSIC:
They vanish offstage right and reappear, left,
the
young man
still jogging after the old one on the bike.

(Pointing)
Do you see all
them
young fellows on their bikes
pumping uphill?

The Young Man
(breathless)
Yes!

The Old Man
That's
almost
the Irish.

TO
MUSIC:
They
vanish
stage right, then reappear,
left,
the
old man
seated on the crossbars of
the bike,
the young man
pumping.

(Pointing)
Do you see that
sign, now?

The Young Man
(gasping)
Yes
!

The Old Man
Hold
everything!
Stop!

The bike wobbles and collapses. Both leap off barely in time.
the old man
points dramatically.

That's
the Irish!

A door has slid out of the wings, right. A sign has come down
out of the flies,
the young man
reads it aloud.

The Young Man
Heeber
Finn's.
(His face takes fire)
Why . . .
it's a pub!

The Old Man
(all
innocence)

By
God, now, I think you're right!
(He runs to the pub door)
Come meet my family!

The Young Man
Family?
You said you weren't married!

The Old Man

I'm
not! But a man, seventy or no, has got to have a family.
Right?
Well!

the old man
rams
the double wicket doors, plunges through.
At this instant the scrim goes from front to back lighting. In
stantaneously we see the inside of
Heeber
Finn's pub, the men
at the bar, and Finn himself working the spigots. Once the
lighting is established, the scrim can go up out
of the way.
At the sound of the doors
flung back, the men at the bar jerk.

It's
me,
boys!

heeber finn,
behind
the bar, sighs.

Finn
Mike!
Ya
gave us a start!

Another Man
We
thought it was—a
crisis!

the old man
is
pleased with the savor of that word.

The Old Man
Well,
maybe it is! This is my friend!

He points to
the young man.
Now
he
points to the others.

. .
.
and
these, you might say, are what I use for a family . . .

the young man
is
touched by this fancy, and nods to all. The
men murmur in friendly fashion, nodding.

Finn

Has
your friend a crisis, then, Mike?

the old man
sobers
dramatically.

The Old Man
He's
come to see the Irish, clear!

finn
pours
from a bottle.

Finn
See it or drink it?

The Young Man
A—bit
of both.

Finn
Well spoke.
To your health.

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