by David Ransom
Dark psychological drama. A play with minimal stage directions.
DR JACKAL & MR SMITH
JACKAL: a psychiatric doctor.
SMITH: a mental patient.
MOREAU: an orderly.
[Psychiatrist’s office. There is a cassette tape recorder. JACKAL
is onstage. There is a knock at the door.]
[Enter SMITH escorted by MOREAU (an orderly)]
MOREAU: Dr Lecter for you, Dr Jekyll.
JACKAL: The name’s Jackal.
MOREAU: Don’t know which is worse.
JACKAL: And you know very well, Moreau, the patient is Smith - John
Smith - of Southend-On-Sea.
MOREAU: Yes, of course, Doctor. Now you just seat yourself down
there Dr…I mean Mr Smith.
JACKAL: I could have you dismissed, Moreau.
MOREAU: Course you could.
JACKAL: Shall we start?
[JACKAL starts tape recorder.]
JACKAL: Well what?
SMITH: Are you going to start interviewing me, or not?
JACKAL: Tell me about those nine people you killed for no apparent
reason. No, tell me again about the other six you say you killed that
the authorities did not connect with you.
SMITH: I did kill them.
JACKAL: Ok, I believe you; so tell me about them.
SMITH: Ok. I beat a young boy to death in the park because he was
wearing the most ridiculous glasses I’ve ever seen. And I can
assure you, he did not like being beaten to death.
JACKAL: How do you know?
SMITH: Well, there was a lot of screaming and crying going on.
JACKAL: Do you think he might have liked it in a way?
SMITH: Is that what you think?
JACKAL: It's a possibility.
SMITH: You’re saying some strange things for a doctor.
JACKAL: Yes. You’re right. Carry on.
SMITH: I couldn’t find a weapon, so I had to use my bare hands. I tore all
the flesh off my knuckles. I hate it when that happens.
JACKAL: Tell me about a different one.
SMITH: There was that old woman I was going to help across the street.
But as I pushed my way through the crowd, I
observed she had more than one opportunity to cross; but the silly
old hag just stood there waiting for the end of the world. Anyway,
by the time I got to her, I was fed up with her, so I pushed her in front
of a bus – a double decker, number thirteen. The police
thought that one was an accident.
JACKAL: And why does Moreau call you Dr Lecter?
SMITH: Because I ate one of them. Well, not the whole of him – just his
buttock - the left one. It did look so tender and mouth watering. Don’t
get me wrong: I washed and cooked it first. I’m not an animal.
JACKAL: Before we go on: are you a religious man, Dr...Mr Smith?
SMITH: No. Why don’t you call me John?
JACKAL: You know I don’t want to do that. But you do believe in an
SMITH: You asked me all this when I first came here.
JACKAL: When you were forced into this miserable place, you mean.
SMITH: I’m sure it was for my own good.
JACKAL: For the public’s good, you mean.
SMITH: They could have put me in jail.
JACKAL: They can’t put you in jail if you’re insane.
SMITH: Am I insane?
JACKAL: Do you believe in an afterlife?
SMITH: You’ve asked me all these questions before.
JACKAL: Well now I’m asking them in…in a different way.
SMITH: We’re definitely getting off track here.
JACKAL: I’ll be the judge of that. Keep telling me how to do my job, and
this interview’s over.
SMITH: But you’re the doctor. You want this more than I do.
JACKAL: Is that what you think?
SMITH: Have you read "Waiting For Godot"?
JACKAL: I don’t read plays.
SMITH: But you know it’s a play. It’s a play about futility. I always think
of it when we’re having these little interviews – don’t know why.
JACKAL: Where the fuck…?
SMITH: Ah, Doctor: swearing. You should be setting an example.
JACKAL: Where the hell is this leading us, Smith?
SMITH: Some people would say Hell is a swearword.
JACKAL: Yes, religious people – which brings me back to my question…
SMITH: Alright, alright. I don’t believe in life after death. I don’t believe in
God. And I don’t believe in fucking Jesus Christ.
JACKAL: I always thought he seemed like a nice boy. Don’t dismiss him
out of hand.
SMITH: So we’re a comedian as well, are we? Wish I had my notepad.
JACKAL: I’m the one with the notepad, dear boy.
SMITH: You should be an actor - never mind. Tell me, Dr Jackal, do you
know the difference between a character and a role?
JACKAL: Yes, and I think you’ve been playing both.
SMITH: I thought you didn’t read plays?
JACKAL: We were forced to read Shakespeare at school.
SMITH: Weren’t we all?
JACKAL: I’ve lost my train of thought now. This is all very unprofessional.
SMITH: You were asking me about the people I’ve killed; the one’s the
police don’t know about, or didn’t connect to me.
JACKAL: Yes, yes, go on.
SMITH: Ok, if that’s what you really want.
JACKAL: Of course it’s what I really want. I wouldn’t ask, otherwise,
SMITH: Did I tell you about the one I didn’t commit?
JACKAL: Yes, you did; but I’d like to hear it again.
SMITH: Well, as I remember, I was looking at the river; the dark night
river; watching it flow beneath the bridge. This chap came along –
didn’t register me – climbed up onto the parapet. He was going to
jump. I talked him out of it.
SMITH: Don’t know. Anyway, we became good friends for two years.
Then, one day, we were standing on a cliff, watching the sea. Then
he started that irritating habit of his of blowing his nose so hard he
always made it bleed. He’d done it so many times, I just couldn’t
take it any more; so I pushed him off the cliff. He didn’t scream. One
moment he was there; the next: gone, leaving behind a strange
silence. The police naturally thought that one was a suicide.
JACKAL: And tell me again why you think you didn’t do this one?
SMITH: Well, I didn’t. I was just reversing what I’d done before.
JACKAL: I can see your logic.
SMITH: Are you sure?
JACKAL: I mean: although it's a strange logic...What are you doing? Sit
down, Smith. Smith? Smith, stop it now. I’m warning you. If you
can’t remain professional, the whole thing’s off. For God’s sake.
SMITH: Thought you didn’t believe in God.
JACKAL: That was you. Got ya.
SMITH: The point of this exercise is not to get me, Dr Jackal.
JACKAL: Then don’t make stupid mistakes. Why don’t you sit down and
tell me something.
SMITH: What, more murders?
JACKAL: What else?
SMITH: You’re obsessed with murders.
JACKAL: Rich, coming from you. Good. Now what do you want to tell
SMITH: I’ll tell you about the baby I killed.
JACKAL: No, please, I don’t want to hear about that one; not now.
SMITH: As you wish.
JACKAL: Talk to me.
SMITH: You know there was one person I killed who was quite close to
JACKAL: You sure you want to talk about that?
SMITH: Yes, I do.
JACKAL: Maybe we should leave that one for another day.
SMITH: No. Let me talk about her.
SMITH: She was my cousin. I was in love with her. She was marrying
that dick-head from school.
JACKAL: Fancy marrying a prat like that.
SMITH: Who’s telling this: you or me? I was upset; so upset, I just went
up to them at the wedding reception, and – she actually leaned
forward thinking I was going to kiss her, and he put out his hand – I
banged their heads together - very hard. This disturbs you?
JACKAL: Just get it over and done with.
SMITH: The crack of their skulls…
JACKAL: I don’t need so much detail.
SMITH: Sorry, doctor, it’s what you’re going to get. The crack of their
skulls was so loud, the staff in the hotel reception later reported that
they thought someone had fired a gun.
JACKAL: That’s enough, Smith.
SMITH: I never knew my own strength.
SMITH: Their skulls fell apart like eggshells; and what was inside, came
out – and I don’t just mean the red stuff.
JACKAL: Stop talking like that.
SMITH: This is how I talk.
JACKAL: This interview is over.
SMITH: There's more.
JACKAL: I tell you it’s over.
SMITH: Do you like a good story?
SMITH: Do you like a good story?
JACKAL: Jesus, what now?
SMITH: Well, if it’s a story, it isn’t fact, is it?
JACKAL: Maybe I should burn this tape?
JACKAL: It sounds as though you’re interviewing me – instead of the
other way around. Hang on, are you saying that some of the stuff
you’ve been telling me, you’ve been making up? Because if you are, I
can assure you that’s not true.
SMITH: No; but something I might tell you might be just a story.
JACKAL: Like what?
SMITH: Like when I sawed my wife’s head off.
JACKAL: You’ve never had a wife, Smith.
SMITH: Humour me.
JACKAL: Ok. So how did you kill her.
SMITH: That is how I killed her.
JACKAL: Go on.
SMITH: The wife: Talk talk talk talk talk! All she ever did was talk! You
think you’ve got problems; try being married to my wife – when she
was alive, that is. In the end, I just couldn’t stand it anymore. I tied
her to a chair…
JACKAL: I bet you did that more than once.
SMITH: None of your business.
SMITH: You’re not being very professional.
JACKAL: Sorry. I’m sure you’d do a lot better.
SMITH: As I was saying, I tied her to a chair, and then went out to the
shed to fetch a saw. What I still find hard to believe – even though I
witnessed it myself – is that she talked all the way through it. Just
talked and talked, oblivious of what was happening to her, carrying
on long after I’d severed the major artery in her neck; long after I was
blind with her blood – hot and stinging. But she wasn’t shouting or
screaming or swearing at me, or threatening me because of what I
was doing to her. It was just the usual mundane drivel I’d put up with
for the past ten years: the weather; what she’d bought in town; the
latest gossip. It was then that I realised she must have been insane
all along. Even when I was desperately sawing through her spinal
column, she still managed to rasp something intangible at me, her
eyes staring so wide, I thought they would burst. The worst thing of
all was that long after her vocal cords were useless to her, she
carried on mouthing words. Even after her head thumped onto the
dining room table, she was still trying to say something to me.
JACKAL: That is a new one. Remarkable. Anything else you want to tell
SMITH: No. I think I’ve talked enough.
JACKAL: I don’t think so.
SMITH: Yes; yes, I have.
JACKAL: Tell me more.
JACKAL: Tell me more.
SMITH: This interview is over. Let me out of here.
JACKAL: Ok; but don’t think you didn’t shock me with that story about
your wife, because you did, Mr Smith.
SMITH: It was just a story.
JACKAL: I’ll escort you back to your room.
[JACKAL escorts SMITH from the room.]
[MOREAU is in Dr Jackal’s office with the tape recorder. JACKAL
(who was pretending to be Smith in Act One) enters.]
JACKAL: What are you doing in here, Moreau?
MOREAU: Ah, Dr Jackal. Or should I call you Dr Jekyll. You and your
stupid role reversal games with the patients. What can you possibly
hope to achieve by these pathetic charades, Jackal?
JACKAL: That’s none of your business, Moreau.
MOREAU: Oh, but it is my business. You know, you’re much more like
Dr Jekyll then you care to admit; you’re just as insane.
JACKAL: Get out. Get out of my office.
MOREAU: Tell you what: why don’t you and I play some role reversal. I’ll
interview the patients, and you can clean up the shit and vomit.
JACKAL: You’ll be dismissed for this, Moreau. You forget Dr Caligory
and I go back a long way.
MOREAU: You’re the one who’ll be dismissed if I play this to Caligory.
JACKAL: ...Give me that...
MOREAU: ...Or arrested.
JACKAL: What are you talking about, you stupid man?
MOREAU: The murder of your wife.
JACKAL: Don’t be absurd, man.
MOREAU: It’s all on this tape.
JACKAL: Then you heard me - me as Smith – talking about the murders
the police don't know about. He has told me in ordinary interviews all
about these extra murders.
MOREAU: Not this one, he hasn’t.
JACKAL: And how would you know?
MOREAU: You always stupidly leave them in the machine for hours
afterwards. I’ve listened to all your tapes. There’s not much else to
stop the boredom round here.
JACKAL: Why you dirty little...
MOREAU: And you did – two years before you started here – report your
wife missing. She’s never been found, has she, Dr Jekyll?
JACKAL: You filthy...
MOREAU: Tell me, Jekyll, how does it feel to take a life?
JACKAL: It felt great.
MOREAU: A real killer. There’s going to be changes around here, Jekyll;
JACKAL: You won’t leave this room alive.
[JACKAL kills MOREAU.]
JACKAL: Just thirteen more, Smith – thirteen more – and I’ll have caught