From The Outports

by Duncan Wells


Meme: The seventeen-year-old girl held captive by water and a way of life.
Leo: The 65 year old supply wharf owner who has been forced to live a lie all of his life.
Linnie: Meme's mother, a believer in superstitions and forerunners.
Gerald: Meme's hard working no nonsense father.


Stage right, the family home containing a kitchen table and chairs, chesterfield, end table and rocking chair. Stage left the supply wharf and shed.

Scene One

Lights rise on Leo seated at the end of the wharf. He is mending a net while singing the first verse of Dark Island in a capella.

Leo: Away to westward I'm longing to be,
Where the beautiful heaven unfolds by the sea,
Where the sweet purple heather blooms fragrant and free,
On a hilltop high above the dark island.

Fade Lights

Scene Two

The lights rise immediately here upon the kitchen where Meme is seated at the kitchen table playing the guitar. She plays badly and is just learning how to play Dark Island - a song Leo taught her. When Leo finishes singing the first verse from Scene One, Meme continues the song at the top of Scene Two without missing a beat between scenes.

Meme: Oh isle of my childhood, I'm longing…. Oh isle of my childhood, I'm longing for thee…Oh isle of my childhood….childhood….childhood….damn! Oh isle of my childhood, I'm longing for thee.

Enter Linnie. She is chasing an invisible cat with a broom. She searches the kitchen area and behind and beneath all furniture. She is trying to hit the cat with a broom.

Linnie: Hey! Get out! Get! Cat? Hey!

Meme: Oh isle of my childhood…

Linnie: Where the hell did you get to? Kitty, kitty! Cat? Stupid cat!

Meme: I'm longing for thee…

Linnie: Ah hah! Yeah, I know where you're hiding….kitty, kitty!

Meme: Oh isle of my childhood I'm…..

Linnie: Nice kitty, kitty! I'm not gonna hurt…heyaw!!! Damn! Here kitty, kitty! Nice kitty! Nice little kitty, kitty - Heyaw!!

Meme: When the steamer leaves Oban and passes Tireeeee….

Enter Gerald. Linnie is on the floor looking for the cat. Meme continues to annoy, singing half lines in her attempt to get the chords to the song right. She stops only when her father forcibly removes the guitar from her hands

Gerald: Had enough'a that! No good broken down piece of junk! A new ferry's what we need. None'a this Friggin' 'round patchin' an' fixin' an' overhaulin' with spare parts from some old fishin' boat that shoulda' been done away with twenny years ago.

Linnie: Nice kitty, kitty! Heeeeeere kitty, kitty!

Gerald: What the hell are you doin'?

Linnie: Shush! I'm lookin' for a cat.

Gerald: We don't have a cat.

Linnie: I know. Here kitty, kitty, kitty! Come on out. Mumma not gonna hurt you - Heyaw!!

Gerald: Meme, knock it off and get ready for supper. Come on Linnie, get outta there! I want my supper.

Linnie: Did you see the cat run out here?

Gerald: No, I didn't see the cat run out here. The only cat I saw today was Bridie's cat an' she was dead.

Linnie: Bridie's cat? But that's the one I'm lookin' for.

Gerald: Well, ya ain't gonna find her 'cos she's dead. Now get outta there!

Meme: Who's dead?

Gerald: Bridie's cat. Got caught sleepin' round the fork lift down on the dock. Now, let's eat.

Linnie: But I just saw Bridie's cat.

Gerald: Sure ya did Linnie! Meme, what did I tell you 'bout playin' that God damn guitar?

Linnie: But I did! I saw Bridie's cat.

Gerald: Meme? Knock it off!

Meme: There's nothin' to do Papa.

Gerald: Whatta ya mean, nothin' to do?

Meme: I mean, I - don't - have - any - thing - to - do!

Linnie: Gerald?

Gerald: What about the bicycle I paid thirty dollars for out in the back porch?

Meme: I use it.

Gerald: Why aren't you out in the fresh air ridin' around?

Meme: Because I'd rather be playing guitar.

Gerald: Well, you should be outside.

Meme: But I don't want to be outside.

Linnie: Gerald?

Gerald: Don't get smart with me girl!

Meme: But it's true.

Gerald: Well, what's true an' what I want you doin' are two different things an' when I get home from work I don't wanna have to be listenin' to that God damn thing. Spendin' all your free time in the house….girl your age should be outside.

Meme: I don't spend all my free time in the house Papa. I go out.

Gerald: Yeah, out! Down to the supply wharf.

Meme: Well, that's outside.

Linnie: Meow!

Gerald: It's no place for a girl…'specially, a girl your age. Leo Tanner got work to do down there. He don't need the likes of you hangin' round.

Meme: Leo doesn't mind me hanging around.

Linnie: Gerald?

Gerald: Linnie, will you shut up? Can't you see I'm tryin' to talk to this one?

Meme: As a matter of fact, I think he likes my company.

Gerald: Well, I don't care if he likes your company or not. I'm tellin' you to stay the hell away from the supply wharf.

Meme: But I like going….

Gerald pulls the guitar away from her and drops it on the chesterfield

Gerald: And if I hear another word about it I'm gonna smack ya in the mouth! Now get supper, sit down and shut up!

Meme gets supper for all three. Kraft dinner and baloney. Linnie is trapped beneath the chesterfield.

Linnie: Gerald?

Gerald: What?

Linnie: Bridie's cat.

Gerald: Bridie's cat is dead, Linnie.

Linnie: But I saw her.

Gerald: When?

Linnie: Five minutes ago.

Gerald: That a fact.

Linnie: Yes.

Gerald: Well, ya got me on that one Linnie 'cos Bridie's cat was killed about an hour ago.

Linnie: Then it must have been a forerunner.

Gerald: Yeah, right Linnie. A forerunner! That's probably what it was.

Linnie: I can feel it now Gerald. I can feel it! I'm getting that….that feeling.

Gerald: Aww, sit down!

Linnie: It's the same feeling I got when I had that dream….everything….black!

Gerald: Linnie?

Linnie: Black and silent…..and then the fog… billowed across the surface of a dark ocean….closer…..and closer…..and…

Gerald: Linnie, will ya siddown?

Linnie: Everything was in total darkness…! And when we woke in the mornin'. Remember?

Gerald: I remember.

Together: We had a power failure.

Linnie: All the lines were down. We were in total darkness….black! It was as if I willed it by dreamin' it.

Gerald taps the salt shaker on the table.

Gerald: You put salt in this already?

Meme nods yes. He taps it again and it works

Linnie: And now…today….I see a forerunner.

Gerald: God!

Linnie: I must have some kind of, I don't know….power. Like…like some people have ESP? It's like a third eye….some kind of sense….and extra sense I have learned to develop yet.

Gerald: Pass the pepper.

Linnie: Wait!

Gerald: What?

Linnie: There's no pepper in that shaker.

Gerald: (To Linnie) Then put some in it.

Linnie: But I have the feelin'! It's like a dizzy feelin'.

Gerald: (To Meme) Fill this up will ya?

Meme leaves to fill the pepper

Linnie: But don't you want to check it to see if I'm right?

Gerald: No, I believe ya.

Linnie: Meme, is there pepper in that shaker?

Meme: It's empty, Maw.

Linnie: There! See?

Gerald: Look Linnie, I got enough problems down at work. Now just sit down or…or go out or….go upstairs.

Linnie: I haven't touched that pepper shaker in months.

Gerald: Big deal.

Linnie: Yet, I knew it was empty.

Gerald: Big deal.

Linnie: But I knew.

Gerald: But I don't care, alright? I got other things on my mind. We're still workin' on the John Neal. We been workin' on her for two solid months. Everybody down there's frustrated….moody….snappin' at each other. I don't wanna have to come home here to you and your feelin's.

Linnie: You just don't understand.

Gerald: I understand that we been workin' for two months and getting' nothin' done. That's what I understand. Six patches welded to her hull and three of them leakin'. We got some company big wig that's gonna be comin' over to see what the hell's takin' us so long and you can bet he's not gonna be too happy about how much money they're losin' with her sittin' in dry dock for so long. I mean, everybody down there knows the John Neal ain't seaworthy no more. We been tellin' 'em that for years. Humph! They're just too damned important to listen to us. They have to send over some….

Linnie: Wait!

Gerald: Oh, knock it off!

Meme sits to eat

Linnie: No, wait! The John Neal…she's gonna sink.

Gerald: Yeah, well that's what usually happens to a ship when she isn't seaworthy.

Linnie: October…

Gerald: Oh my God listen to her.

Linnie: Seventeenth….

Gerald: Even knows the date.

Linnie: Nineteen seventy six!

Gerald: Right, now siddown an' eat will ya?

Linnie: Seven o'clock in the mornin'.

Gerald: Linnie?

Meme: Maw, would you…sit down? Please?

Linnie sits

Linnie: You'll see.

Gerald: Right.

Linnie: You don't have to believe me.

Gerald: I don't.

Linnie: A lot of stranger things have happened in this world you know.

Gerald: Yeah, like what?

Linnie: The parting of the Red Sea.

Gerald: Aww, geez no! Here she goes with the Bible again.

Linnie: People see ghosts all the time.

Gerald: Do they.

Linnie: Yes they do.

Gerald: Name one.

Linnie: My father.

Gerald: He was a drunk.

Linnie: He was not.

Gerald: He was so. He was a drunken fisherman who got his kicks from makin' up stories about things that never happened an' you know it.

Linnie: Well, you hear stories all the time about sailors who've seen ghost ships.

Gerald: I haven't seen any ghost ships.

Linnie: Well, not you maybe but other people have.

Gerald: Yeah, and they were probably drunks too.

Linnie: I don't care what you say Gerald. I think there are a lot of things that can't be explained for one reason or another.

Gerald: Yeah, like dead cats suddenly comin' back to life.

Linnie: I saw the cat!

Gerald: Did not.

Linnie: I did so!

Gerald: You're fulla shit!

Linnie: I'm not makin' it up.

Meme drops her fork and exits in disgust

Meme: I'm finished!

Gerald: Then you're crazy!

Linnie: I know what I saw.

Gerald: An' I don't want you out tellin' people about it either.

Linnie: I'll tell whoever I want.

Gerald: You just keep your big mouth shut! I gotta work with men down on the docks an' I don't want them laughin' behind my back.

Linnie: Let them laugh.

Gerald: I mean, they already think you're nuts.

Linnie: Who?

Gerald: Everybody.

Linnie: Like who?

Gerald: Everybody I said.

Linnie: Oh shut up!

Gerald: It's true.

Linnie: Well, they can think whatever they want and you can think whatever you want.

Gerald: ESP like a friggin' hole in the head.

Linnie: I saw the cat!

Gerald: Sure ya did Linnie.

Linnie: I saw the cat!

Gerald: Just shut up an' eat!

Fade Scene

Scene Three

Leo is seated on the wharf still working on the net. Meme enters.

Leo: Problem?

Meme: I don't know about you but I'm ready to get out of here now. Stupid man!

Leo: Arguin' are they?

Meme: Arguin'? Ha! S'all I ever hear from them. Did so! Did not! Did so! Did not! Humph! Still goin' on about spendin' too much time in my room. Still goin' on about the bicycle that he paid thirty dollars for. What the hell am I supposed to do?

Leo: Gum?

Meme: No thanks.

Leo: Well, it's like my father used to say. You're always tryin' to run away from somethin'.

Meme: Yeah, well la de da for your father.

Leo: Just take your time. Relax! You'll get to where you're goin' sooner or later.

Meme: Sooner or later or when hell freezes over.

Leo: Well, maybe.

Meme: If I only had a place to go.

Leo: You already got a home.

Meme: You know what I mean. A place…somewhere else.

Leo: So, your mother an' father had an argument. So, you're father's complainin' about you spendin' too much time in your room. Doesn't mean ya gotta run away.

Meme: You don't know what it's like.

Leo: Right. Maybe when I get to be as old as you I'll understand.

Meme: Very funny!

Leo hangs netting across the front of the shed

Leo: Ya got it tough kid…one disaster after another.

Meme: Yeah, well how would you like it? Seventeen years old and I bet I can't name one person my age who I can actually sit down and talk with.

Leo: Oh, I was mistaken. I thought it was your parents you were mad at… but it's not. You're upset because you got nobody to play with.

Meme: I'm upset because I don't like it here.

Leo: So what's new?

Meme: Everyday! Goin to and comin' from.

Leo: Terrible thing that goin' an' comin'!

Meme: The fishin' boats.

Leo: An' the fishermen!

Meme: I got nothin' to do.

Leo: Except go fishin'!

Meme: Will you stop that?

Leo: Well what the hell do you want me to say? You come down here to sit around cryin' about poor you and how everything in your life is so awful. I tell you to get interested in somethin', read a book, write a book. Hell, I even gave you a guitar so you'd have somethin' to spend your time on but here you are again cryin' about the same damned thing.

Meme: Alright then!

Leo: Alright!

Meme: I won't say anything else about it.

Leo picks up a plastic bag

Leo: Good! The less ya talk the more ya think. See ya later!

Meme: Where are you going?

Leo: Home.

Meme: What for?

Leo: Because that's where I live.

Meme: Oh come on, stay for a while.

Leo: I don't wanna stay for a while. I been here for the last ten hours workin' an' besides, I got some sword fish hearts I promised Victor I'd make for supper.

Meme: He can wait.

Leo: He's already been waitin'.

Meme: Well, he can wait some more. Come on! Sit down!

Leo: What, you wanna complain some more?

Meme: I already told you I'm not gonna say anymore about it.

Leo: Sigh! Alright! Sittin' down…whatta ya want?

Meme: My mother saw a forerunner today.

Leo: So? You're mother's always seein' things that don't exist.

Meme: It was a cat.

Leo: A cat?

Meme: Yeah. Bridie owned it.

Leo: The fork lift right?

Meme: Yeah. She claims she saw it about a half hour after it was killed.

Leo: Well, not meanin' to speak bad about your mother Meme but she is sort of odd.

Meme: Odd? Ha!

Leo: What, you don't believe she saw a forerunner?

Meme: Oh get off the pot Leo! Of course I don't. I don't believe any of those crazy things she comes up with.

Leo: Well, there are some people who do believe them.

Meme: So I hear.

Leo: Mind you, now I don't but there are some people.

Meme: Makes you feel kid of superior, doesn't it?

Leo: How's that?

Meme: Oh come on Leo, let's face it. There's obviously something wrong with these people. They sure can't have too much on their minds if they're gonna make room for that kind of foolishness.

Leo: You think so do you?

Meme: Don't you?

Leo: No.

Meme: Whatta ya mean, no?

Leo: Look Meme, you believe what you wanna believe an' let other people believe what they wanna believe.

Meme: But it's not true

Leo: So?

Meme: It's some weird thing my mother does…some kind of mixed up imagination.

Leo: So?

Meme: But you said so yourself…she's odd!

Leo: But I didn't say there was anything wrong with it.

Meme: Then what are you sayin'?

Leo: I'm not sayin' anything Meme. You're the one talkin' about everyone else like you're so special.

Meme: I'm not talkin' about everyone else.

Leo: Y'are so!

Meme: I am not.

Leo: Meme, who cares if your mother sees ghosts?

Meme: I do.

Leo: True or not, it don't matter. So what if some people happen to believe her. You got your room. You got your….your dreams of runnin' away to the mainland. Leave other people alone with their lives. Ha! Ya ask me, I think you read too many of those movie magazines the way ya go on expectin' everybody to be just so.

Meme: I just feel I'm better than all this.

Leo: Ha! You got some nerve girl!

Meme: I'm just tellin' the truth.

Leo: What, ya think you're better than me?

Meme: I never said that.

Leo: You think because you don't fit in around here that there's somethin' wrong with all of us and you're perfect?

Meme: I didn't say that either.

Leo: I got a job! I got a house! I got an extra mouth to feed and an extra body to take care of, just like your mother an' father an' just like everybody else around here. I'm not ashamed of who I am, what I have, where I work, where I live an' neither is anybody else I know.

Meme: I'm not ashamed.

Leo: Well, of course not. You got nothin' to be ashamed of. You're perfect!

Meme: Oh knock it off!

Leo: What is it you wanna do anyway? Take all of those people who obviously got somethin' wrong with them an' shoot them?

Meme: Drop dead Leo! Just….drop dead! Leo: You gotta live an' let live.

Meme: An' don't give me anymore of your father's philosophies. I'm sick of them.

Leo: Boy, do you know what I notice about you?

Meme: No, but you're gonna tell me right?

Leo: You got this...this annoyin' little way about you.

Meme: Look who's talkin'!

Leo: You're saucy. You answer back an' not kindly either. You got this little thing in your voice that grates on a person an' you're gonna push it too far one of these days.

Meme: It's the way I talk. I was born this way, alright?

Leo: Look, you got anything else to say to me?

Meme: No Leo, I got nothin' else to say to you about anything…nothin'!

Leo: Good then I'm goin'!

He Exits

Meme: Try to tell you somethin'….think you got some one to talk to….awwwww….shit!!

Lights Fade On Wharf

Continue To Scene Four