Sleepwalking my way through life: Men Should Weep

Men Should Weep

"Leave me go! Making a bloomin fool of me in front of my friends!"

“Where have you been ‘til this time of night?” I bellowed at her, speckles of spit flying from my mouth. It was late and Jenny had just arrived home. I had to drag her inside away from the group of boys she was standing with. Again.

“That’s none of your business, I’m grown up now!”

“Don’t you speak to me like that; I asked where you’d been!”

“And I told ya, none of your damned interfering business!” She screeched, a defiant grin on her face. Well, it could’ve been a grin, but it could also have just been the make-up smeared over her lips.

“Jenny! John!” Maggie shouted at us over the bellowing, she was sick of these fights as much as I was and I could see the usual headache forming behind her eyes. I should have stopped there, but I was too angry.

I grabbed Jenny’s arms, squeezing tightly as I went down to her level. “Where wis you? Answer me!”

She looked away, trying her best to avoid my gaze. “At the pictures…”

“The pictures come out at half ten, where wis you after?”

“With Nessie Tait and a couple of friends…”

I shoved her backwards so she fell onto the couch with Maggie. “I don’t approve of your Nessie Tait-”

“That’s a pity,” she shouted, “I do!”

“You impudent little bitch! What I ought to do is take my belt to you!”

She laughed, “Just you try it!”

“Next you come in here at this time of night I will! Look at yourself!” I grabbed her and dragged her tarted ass to the sink and mirror. I let her glimpse her face in the mirror before grabbing her hair and thrusting it into the sink, dunking her face in the water. She came up coughing and spluttering, her makeup running over her face in a way that made her look like a sad clown.

“There!” I shouted, a slight sound of triumph in my voice. This memory sickened me when I thought about it later, I was taking pleasure in her embarrassment. “And next time you’ll let your hair grow to the colour God meant it to be, and leave it that way!”

“Maybe I will, and maybe I’ll no, it just depends!” she replied, her voice obviously upset.

“I’m wanting no more sauce from you Jenny. I’m speaking to you for your own good, what’ll the neighbours think? You coming in at this time of night and standing in a close with a man?”

“What do I care what the neighbours think? And I suppose you never stood in a close yourself?”

“I know my own sex Jen, it’s you I’m thinking about.”

“You can save your breath, I’m not as naïve and innocent as you think.” Great, what a way to calm me down Jen. “I’m not as green as cabbages… And talking about cabbages, I’m chucking the shop.”

Oh, she knew how to push my buttons. And what a thing to throw into the argument, just the perfect thing to get me raging.

“You’re doing what?”

“You heard. I don’t want to touch vegetables the rats have been at with a boss that’s always checking the takings. No, I’ve had enough of that.”

“I what, may I ask, do you propose to do, my lady?” I asked, bending down in a low bow.

“I’ve got myself a job at the jewellers, that was my boss I was with tonight.”

Maggie and I exchanged a look. “Is that so? Where’s his shop? I’m your father and it’s my right to have a word with this… new boss.”

“You’ve got a fat chance of that,” Jenny announced, standing up and strutting across the room to leave. I grabbed her arm to stop her but she shook free and stood facing me. “I’m not telling you anything. I’m sick of Ma waiting at the shop with the kids running about and Ma asking for potatoes and tomatoes while embarrassing me in front of everyone!”

“I didn’t mean to aggravate you Jenny… I was just needing your money for the house…”

“The impudence of you!” It was one thing to piss me off; it was another to upset my wife. “It’s your duty to hand over every penny to her that’s looked after you for all your days!”

“Save your breath! It’s not my job to take care of the kids, it’s yours! I didn’t ask to be born into this hell hole, not in a clatty kitchen with no food and sleeping beside a snoring old wife. No, I’m leaving.”

Ok, that hurt. I looked around the room, at the mess that was the flat, my home. “Things won’t always be like this Jenny, I know it’s not the home me and your mother would like for you… It’s just the way things are.”

“Aye, it’s always bad luck with you. Every time you lose your job, it’s bad luck!”

“Well so it is bad luck!” I say, throwing my arms up in the air, “there’s a depression on, do you not understand?”

“I understand fine,” she said, stepping closer and closer towards me. “Some men get on and make money, depression or not. Others just don’t have the brains.”

Her face was an inch from mine, I could see every shade of watery colour painted on her skin, I could feel the heat coming off of her, and I could smell the stale smell of alcohol on her breath…

“You’ve been drinking.” I growled in a deep undertone.

“What about it?” her face showing a flicker of fear.

“What have you been drinking!?” I bellow.


“By God! If a girl ever asked for it!” I grabbed her arms and shook her, “What have you been drinking?!”

“Just… a couple of gins.”

I suddenly let go of her, stepping away with a maniacal grin on my face. “Right you are my lady, right you are! Not content with painting your face, dying your hair, staying out half the night; you’re drinking gin! Carry on! You’ll end up in the gutter, and when you do you shouldn’t come to me to pick you up!”

“You needn’t worry, when I leave this pigsty I’m not coming back, so you’d better hang on to your job this time, if you can!”

It happened before I could stop myself, but at the time I didn’t want to stop myself. My hand rose up and smacked her across the face, sending her to the ground. She lay there, motionless as my rage ran riot round the room. The lights seemed to darken, and I lost my vision for a moment…

The lights came back up and my ears were filled with applause. I look around the room and see people standing up, clapping and cheering. The examiner is at her desk, smiling broadly and writing feverishly on some paper. I look down and see Helen smiling up at me, her cheek slightly red, but her lips mouthing the long awaited message; we’ve done it, it’s finally over.

I pushed passed everyone in the room and retreated to the changing room where I down a bottle of water in seconds. My heart was pounding and my fists clenched as I raced into the toilet next door. I ran the tap and splashed cold, soothing water on my face. Feeling myself calm down, I looked in the mirror at my dripping face.

There’s always a downside to the good results of method acting.

Extract taken and edited from the play 'Men Should Weep'
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At 8:38 pm, Anonymous Kiwiqueen said...

I was very extremely confused for a moment. I thought maybe there was some sort of time warp thing going on, and everyone was into it but me.

17 is way too young to have a daughter who wears make-up and drinks gin. :-D

In confusement I read down to the bottom, and then *ping* went the lightbulb.

Anyway, back to work. :-(

At 5:50 pm, Anonymous x said...

fikkin loved that (:


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