From The Outports

by Duncan Wells

Scene Four

Linnie is sitting with her knitting on her lap. She is in a trance. Meme enters from outside. Long pause.

Meme: Maw?

Linnie Comes to

Linnie: Yes?

Meme: What are you doing?

Linnie: Oh, hello dear.

Meme: What were you doing?

Linnie: I was just….day dreaming.

Meme gets something to drink

Meme: Really? Hmmm! Papa gone to bed?

Linnie: Uh huh! Early to bed, early to rise.

Meme: Right! So, ah, how's you special powers coming along?

Linnie: Well, I'm not really sure if I have them yet.

Meme: That a fact.

Linnie: I think maybe I have to learn how to relax first. Tryin' too hard means I have to think too hard and if I'm thinking too hard I'm all tensed up and when I'm all tensed up my mind is on the fact that I'm all tensed up and that means that my mind isn't relaxed.

Meme: So….you have to learn how to relax.

Linnie: That's what I just said dear.

Meme: Right.

Meme sits on the sofa

Linnie: So, where were you?

Meme: Down the supply wharf talkin' to Leo.

Linnie: Oooh naughty, naughty. You know what your father said.

Meme: He doesn't have to know I was there.

Linnie: No he doesn't but naughty, naughty all the same. Hangin' around the supply wharf is no place for a girl your age.

Meme: So I've been told.

Linnie: You should be doin' things with other children your age.

Meme: I'm not a child Maw.

Linnie: Well with other…..people your age.

Meme: Right.

Linnie: Spendin' your time down there with a man his age, well, it just isn't right.

Meme: We get along just fine Maw.

Linnie: It doesn't make it right.

Meme: Well, maybe I should start hangin' around with Jeannie Close. She's my age.

Linnie: Oh no dear no. Jeannie Close is married with a brand new baby. She can't do all those things you and her used to do when you were younger.

Meme: Oh right, I forgot. What about Helen Sharples?

Linnie: Well, she's married too.

Meme: Well, whatta ya know! How stupid of me.


….let's see, Lorraine Wall is married. Victory Bonfield's not married but she got a baby…Victory Bonfield's sister Diane is married…no, she's not married anymore. Her husband left her after he put her in the hospital that time, but she got two kids and besides, she's three years older than me so I guess I can't be hangin' around with her.

Linnie: Meme ?

Meme: Uh huh?

Linnie: I realize that most of your friends have grown up an' gotten married…

Meme: They've gotten married Maw. They're still the same age as I am….and it's not most of my friends, it's all of my friends.

Linnie: Well, there must be something you can do.

Meme: Forget it Maw. You got the wrong girl.

Linnie: Well, you can't keep hangin' around the supply wharf with a man who's three times your age.

Meme: Why not?

Linnie: Because it's just not right.

Meme: But I like Leo.

Linnie: But he's older and…and he has that brother of his.

Meme: So?

Linnie: Well, you know what I mean.

Meme: No I don't.

Linnie: Things can happen.

Meme: Like what?

Linnie: You know….things!

Meme: Ha! I can't believe what I'm hearing.

Linnie: Well, you're hearin' it and it's true. Your father agrees with me to.

Meme: Well, maybe I should find a boy my age.

Linnie: Now, that's exactly what your father an' me was sayin'.

Meme: Were you really?

Linnie: Now, there are those three young MacLeod boys. Two of them work with your father an' the other one works on the Cape Sable.

Meme: Maw, I just finished tellin' you, you got the wrong girl.

Linnie: There's Edward Healy's boy Randal who drives the fish truck.

Meme: I'm not interested.

Linnie: And there's Donald Almond

Meme: Yuck! He's thirteen!

Linnie: He's still a nice boy. And big for his age too.

Meme: You really think I should meet a boy an' get married, just like that.

Linnie: Well, you are seventeen years old.

Pause. Meme sighs aloud

….Meme, look, your father an' me don't wanna come right out an' tell you what to do with your life but you have to make a move sooner or later.

Meme: I'd like to make a move alright!

Linnie: Well?

Meme: Maw, what would you say if I told you I wanted to go to the mainland.

Linnie: You can go to the mainland any time you want once they finish work on the John Neal Ferry.

Meme: No, no, no! I don't mean go to the mainland to see a movie, do some shoppin' an' come back home on the 11 o'clock ferry. I mean go to he mainland…to live.

Linnie: Oh, no dear, no you can't do that.

Meme: Why not?

Linnie: Because this is where you live. This is where you belong. This is where all your people are.

Meme: You an' Papa.

Linnie: Me, your father, your Aunt Florence. You have your grandparents and their parents buried here on this island.

Meme: And that means I should stay.

Linnie: Well, of course.

Meme: Forever.

Linnie: I see no reason why you'd wanna leave here.

Meme: I can give you a million reasons I wanna leave.

Linnie: You don't have all the fuss an' confusion here like they have on the mainland or in those other big cities. It's not like were isolated here. We have the John Neal to take us back an' forth whenever we want.

Meme: The John Neal is in dry dock most of the time.

Linnie: Not most of the time.

Meme: Most of the time,

Linnie: Well, even if it is, we have everything we need right here.

Meme: Yeah, but we don't have everything we could have. We don't have everything we want.

Linnie: I don't want anything.

Meme: Maw, we don't even have indoor toilets here.

Linnie: Never needed them.

Meme: And we only got electricity five years ago.

Linnie: Well, there you are! We got electricity. And to tell you the truth we got along just fine before they hooked it up. If you ask me, it's just another bill we have to pay.

Meme: But there's so much goin' on over on the mainland. There's life over there! From there you can take a car, a bus, a train, an airplane an' you can ride, you can fly to anywhere you wanna go.

Linnie: But I don't wanna go anywhere.

Meme: But I do.

Linnie: Keep it down Meme! You'll wake your father.

Meme: You talk about me getting' married like you talk to me about washin' the dishes an' like Papa talks to me about stayin' away from the supply wharf. I don't even think about boys or babies.

Linnie: Well, don't you think it's about time?

Meme: No!

Linnie: Then what do you plan on doin' with your life?

Meme: Sigh! Geez Maw, when I think about all those girls I grew up with…when I think about Helen

Sharples, fourteen years old and married with a baby. I can only pity her. I mean, what does she have?

Linnie: She got a husband and a child. She has a family.

Meme: Fourteen years old?

Linnie: I was married when I was fifteen

Meme sighs

…well, there's nothing wrong with that! Your father and I were in love.

Meme: But I don't love anybody.

Linnie: You like Leo

Meme sighs and hangs her head in disbelief

Meme: Oh my God!

Linnie: And that's what worries your father and me.

Meme: We're just good friends.

Linnie: Me an' your father were good friends once too.

Meme: Maw, look, I'm not you. I'm not happy here. I don't wanna be here. I think about goin' away. I think about it all the time. I dream about being able to walk out my front door someday in a place where the smell of salt an' fish isn't hangin' in the air every time I take a breath. I wanna be able to walk down a paved sidewalk, go to the library, go to see a movie and go to a restaurant. And to be like those girls who work in the libraries, movie theatres and restaurants. I wanna wear a white uniform, carry trays, sell tickets meet people and have friends and to find out who all those people are over there. I wanna know what they do and where they go when they finish work at the end of the day. I wanna know what they know. I mean, are they married? Do they have babies?

Linnie: I don't know

Meme: Exactly! You don't know. And why don't you know?

Linnie: Forget it Meme.

Meme: Forget it?

Linnie: Just….forget it!

Meme: Oh, ok! Alright, I'll forget it. I'll just go back to my room, sit around, bang on the guitar for a little while…study for school, though I don't know what the hell for. I'll read a book and then I'll go stare out my window at the ocean an' wonder what's goin' on over there on the mainland. Then I'll bang on the guitar some more, study some more, read another book and then I'll go back to the window, look out and wonder some more. And when I get tired of that I'll go down to the supply wharf with Leo an' complain about how unhappy I am an' then I'll come back home an' listen to Papa tell me to get out of my room an' stop hangin' aroun' the supply wharf an'…an' "don't answer me back or I'll smack ya in the mouth!!" An' I'll keep that up until I finally give in an' say, "Oh the hell with this! I think I'll go out an' get pregnant like all my other friends did". Hmmm! Maybe I'll get pregnant by one of those nice boys who work on the draggers. The one's who are off for one or two months at a time…like Diane Bonfield's husband who comes home, beats her up an' then heads back out again for another few months. My husband'll be out there an' I'll be right here mindin' the kid, wipin' up drool, an' vomit, an' cleanin' shitty diapers an' when my husband gets home off the dragger, why, we'll kiss an' hug and say, "Oh darlin', darlin', darlin, isn't this the life we always wanted?"

Linnie: Meme be quiet! You're gonna wake your father.

Meme: Is this the life you always wanted?

Linnie: I said be quiet!

Meme: I said is this the life you always wanted?

Linnie: This is the life I have an' I'm more than satisfied with it.

Meme: You never wanted more?

Linnie: Never.

Meme: You never wondered what it would be like to be someone else? To be livin' somewhere else?

Linnie: Never.

Meme: Not even when you were younger?

Linnie: Not even when I was younger.

Meme: I don't believe that.

Linnie: I'm not askin' you to believe it.

Meme: An' I don't believe you saw a forerunner today either.

Linnie: I saw a forerunner!

Meme: You didn't see a forerunner. Bridie told you about the cat.

Linnie gets angry

Linnie: She did not. I saw a forerunner.

Meme: She either told you or you over heard it because there is no way…

Linnie: There are a lot of things in this…

Meme: There are a lot of things in this world I don't understand but forerunners isn't one of them an' if it is then I'm not interested. I just wanna get the hell outta here!

Her father yells from off stage. She yells right back at him.

Gerald: Meme?

Meme: What?

Gerald: Keep your voice down an' get the hell to bed!

Meme: I'm not tired.

Gerald: I said get the hell to bed!

Meme: I'm> goin' to the bathroom!

Meme Exits

Gerald: Meme?

Linnie: She's gone to use the toilet she'll...she'll be up in a minute.

Gerald: Just tell her to be quiet.

Linnie gets up. Gerald yells again.

Gerald: Linnie?

Linnie: Coming dear.

Fade Scene

Scene Five

Meme is seated near the end of the wharf. It is morning but still dark. It is obvious that she has been there all night. Leo enters.

Leo: What the hell are you doin' here so early?

Meme: Oh, hi…how're you?

Leo: Good…great! How about you?

Meme: Not bad.

Leo: Oh oh.

Meme: Oh oh what?

Leo: Last thing I hear before leavin' work, first thing I hear comin' back to work. The tragic life of a seventeen year old….gum?

Meme: Naw.

Leo: Well, you wanna get right into this? I gotta couple a fellas comin' by to pick up some lines an' traps an' I have to help them load it in the truck.


So, c'mon, what is it?

Meme: I was here all night you know.

Leo: Doin' what?

Meme: Nothin'….thinkin'….talkin' to myself….countin' stars.

Leo: Now there's a good way to ruin your eyes.

Meme: Ha! Yeah.

Leo: Hard on the head too. You get so far an' lose your place…have to start all over again. It gives me a headache.


Your father know you spent the night down here?

Meme: What do you think?

Leo: I don't think anything. I asked you a question an' I expected an answer.

Meme: No, he doesn't know I spent the night down here.

Leo: That's what I thought.


Meme: Leo?

Leo: Yeah?

Meme: Did you know or….did you realize that nobody ever leaves this place?

Leo: Are you gonna start talkin' about everybody again?

Meme: No…no, I won't do that. I promise.

Leo: Good.

Meme: It's just that it was mentioned to me….my mother told me. The people who were born here usually die here. I never really thought about that before. It's something I never really took the time to notice.

Leo: But it's true.

Meme: Yeah, it is. Isn't it.

Leo: Sure is.

Meme: But why?

Leo: Why not?

Meme: Leo, don't talk to me like that.

Leo: You're a big girl, right?

Meme: I've been up all night thinkin' about it…tryin' to understand it.

Leo: But you don't understand, do you.

Meme: No, I don't.

Leo: Yeah, I knew that.

Meme: My mother an' father think it's time I met somebody an' got married.

Leo: Well, what do you think?

Meme: I don't wanna get married.

Leo: Then don't.

Meme: Don't wanna have babies, I…I just don't wanna be here.

Leo: I know.

Meme: Humph! I talk too much, huh?

Leo: Sometimes, but that's ok. I know what it's like. I mean, bein' talked into or forced into doin' something you don't really feel like doin'. That's life.


Meme: Your brother Victor, right?

Leo: Well, yeah.

Pause. Leo moves a trap

I mean, after my mother an' father died there was only me to look after him. I'd rather be out there makin' big money on the draggers but Victor….well, you know he can't do much for himself an' he is my brother. Comes a time when a person has to make a real important decision in their lives….Victor was mine.

Meme: You ever sorry for it?

Leo: Yeah…yeah, I feel sorry for it….well, some of the time. But I think if I had the chance to change anything…to make anything different, it would be for Victor to be able to do things.

Meme: Kind of makes my problems seem small.

Leo: Naw. Your problems are important. Mind you, I can't solve them but I know it's nice to have someone to tell them too…someone to talk to. I couldn't talk to anybody about Victor. I still don't really.

Meme: You're talkin' to me.

Leo: Ha, yeah, but you owe me for all the times I listened to you.


My ah…my mother used to tell me he was an angel…that he was special an' that it was my job to protect him…to watch over him. She said that was the reason we were born together…at the same time…it was God's plan. I bet he has a plan for you too.

Meme: You think so?

Leo: Sure….sure, we…we all have a purpose. I have mine, you have your's. I mean, we may not like what God got planned for us but there's nothin' we can do about it.

Meme: Don't get holy on me Leo.

Leo: Naw, I'm not holy. I'm just….I dunno….thinkin' about Victor…thinkin' about what my mother used to tell me.

Meme: How do you feel now?

Leo: Whatta ya mean now?

Meme: Well, now that you made this decision an' stuck with it for so long…takin' care of Victor….not bein' able to go to sea like everybody else…livin' here.

Leo: God's plan. What can I say?

Meme: Yeah, well I hope that he has better plans for me.

Leo: If you ask me you've been dealt a pretty good hand already. You're healthy…you're smart. There's not one girl I know around here whose made it to the eleventh grade.

Meme: That's because they all got pregnant.

Leo: And gave birth. God's plan.

Meme: For them.

Leo: Yes, for them. For you, who knows? Geez, I mean look! Victor was born retarded, so what? Jack Warn is down there in the bait shed limpin' around on accounta he was born with one leg shorter than the other. Ferris Dalton's oldest boy lost three fingers in a steam turbine, Missus Bonfield got a hair lip an' your mother sees ghosts.

Meme: Well, that makes me feel a lot better.

Leo: Aw, c'mon Meme! You can't sit there an' try to pretend to me that you're not lucky. You want to do somethin'! You really want to do somethin' an' you got every chance in the world to do it. Bein' born here….livin' here….livin' here all your life, it's nothin'! It happened to everybody here. They can't see across the ocean. They don't wanna see across the ocean. You do. I mean, maybe you're right. Maybe you should go. I got no doubt in my mind that you wouldn't be able to find somethin' for yourself over there, but it could be worse than here.

Meme: Impossible.

Leo: But you don't know.

Meme: You sound like you're tryin' to talk me out of it.

Leo: I'm not tryin' to talk you out of it.

Meme: Well, are you sayin' I should go?

Leo: I'm not sayin' that either.

Meme: Well, what would you do?

Leo: Ha! I've done all I'm gonna do.

Meme: Didn't you ever wanna leave?

Leo: I have Victor to look after. I can't leave.

Meme: But if you didn't have Victor.

Leo: Meme, if Victor wasn't born, I wouldn't 'a been born.


Meme: You don't actually believe that, do you?

Leo: Yes. I was told by my mother that I had a purpose in this world and that was to take care of my brother. If all of a sudden I stopped belivin' then I've wasted my life. Now, you can go to the mainland…you can travel round the world. You might find what you're lookin' for or you might find nothin' at all. You might find with the smell of fish an' the screech of gulls an' with all the other things you come to dislike that this is all there is for you. It's just somethin' you have to live with.


Meme: Leo?

Leo: Yeah?

Meme: You are tryin' to talk me out of leavin', aren't you.

Leo: Meme, look out there, see? Just off the point an' below the moon. Whatta ya see?

Meme: You mean the light house?

Leo: Yeah, see it flashin'? Off….. an' on……wanna go….don't know…..wanna go…..don't know….wanna go….

Freeze. Fade Scene.

Scene Six

Meme is seated at the table playing the guitar. She sings the chorus of Dark Island from beginning to end. Linnie putters about placing tea on the table for both her and Meme. Long pause after the song is played.

Meme: It's awfully quiet here, now that Papa's gone to work. Nice, isn't it?

Linnie: Yes, but he'll be home soon so don't you go off anywhere.

Meme put her guitar on the chesterfield. Linnie hums the tune to Dark Island.

Meme: Ma?

Linnie: Uh huh?

Meme: You really believe in ghosts an' stuff like that?

Linnie: Yes.

Meme is disappointed

Meme: Oh.

Linnie: That bother you?

Meme: No, I just…don't understand it I guess.

Linnie: Well, don't worry about it Meme. Neither does your father.

Meme: Yeah, but he doesn't understand anything as far as I'm concerned. You…me…anything! He's just here movin' around the house.

Linnie: He understands work.

Meme: Right! He knows how to weld.

Linnie: He's really a good man.

Meme: I bet I could learn how to weld.

Linnie: He's got a good heart.

Meme: I bet I could learn how to weld in no time at all.

Linnie continues humming Dark Island. Long pause.


Linnie: Yes dear?

Meme: This dizzy feelin' you get.

Linnie: What about it?

Meme: Well, do you think it's just, you know, a dizzy feelin'?

Linnie: It's possible.

Meme: Yeah, that's what I thought.

Linnie: But when I get them Meme, I see pictures…in my head.

Meme rolls her eyes

…I do!

Meme: I see pictures in my head too Maw.

Linnie: Well then, you never know….some day!

Meme: Humph! Yeah, sure, some day!

Linnie: You think I'm crazy?

Meme: No, not crazy.

Linnie: Your father thinks I am. He thinks I make it all up.

Meme: Do you?

Linnie: No Meme, I don't.

Meme: What about the cat?

Linnie: I saw the cat!

Meme: Yeah, but it just seems that…

Linnie: I saw the cat, Meme!

Meme: And it was Bridie's.

Linnie: Yes.

Meme: A lot of people have cats around here Maw. I mean, couldn't it have been some other cat?

Linnie: Well….maybe.


Meme, there are such things as forerunners. I'm not the first person to ever see one….though I might be the first person who ever saw a cat.

They laugh

….funny, wha'?

Meme: Yeah.

Linnie: Yeah, well you don't have to believe in anything you don't want to but take it from me, there's nothin' wrong with believing…in ghosts or anything else.

Meme: That's exactly what Leo says.

Linnie: Well. Leo should know all about things like that. He comes from a family that knew all about the sea and all the strange things that took place 'round here over the years.

Meme: I like Leo.

Linnie: I know. (pause) He's a nice man.

Meme: He was tellin' me all about his brother today.

Linnie: Victor?

Meme: Uh huh. First time he ever talked about him. At least the first time he ever talked about him to me.

Linnie: Well, I can understand that. Leo Tanner was always the quiet type anyway…like his father.

Pause. Linnie sips tea.

What did he say?

Meme: About Victor? Nothin'. Just talked. Said he was an angel.

Linnie: His mother always said that too.

Meme: Yeah, he told me.

Linnie: Do you believe him?

Meme: No…not really.

Linnie: Oh. They're ah…they're twins, Leo an' Victor. Did you know?

Meme: Yeah, I knew that. God's plan, right?

Linnie: That's what they say.

Meme: You ever see him?

Linnie: A long, long time ago…years.

Meme: What's he look like?

Linnie: Leo I guess. He used to look like Leo, only…only different. His mother used to wheel him up an' down the lane when we were kids. Take him down to the wharf an' let him stare out at the ocean. He would stare, an' stare, an' stare an' she would….talk to him…tell him about the fishin' boats…point at things for him to see…try to get him to say words. I don't think I ever heard him talk though, but then I was always afraid to go near him…was just a little girl at the time. All the kids were scared of him. Some of the grown ups used to blame him whenever things went wrong. They believed he was an angel and they believed that when he got angry things would happen…bad weather…a fishin' accident. Even after a bad fishin' trip you could go down to the bait shed an' hear all the old men talkin'…sayin' Victor was in a bad mood. That was why their catch was so small.

Meme: Did they really believe that?

Linnie: Sure they did.

Meme: Did you?

Linnie: Well, yes. Everybody believed it.

Meme: What about now?

Linnie: Well, now is different. Nobody's seen him in…twenty years, I guess. People hardly talk about him anymore.

Meme: Seems like an awful shame havin' an angel an' usin' him like that…blamin' all the bad things on him.

Linnie has just noticed Gerald coming in the door. She starts to clear away the cups

Linnie: That's just the way it was Meme.

Meme: But that doesn't make it right - Oh, hi Papa.

Meme gets up to help. Linnie brings Gerald tea.

Gerald: Where were you this mornin'? I got up an' you weren't around. Weren't in your bed either.

Linnie: She…she was out ridin' around on her bicycle.

Gerald: Yeah, well about time! Get some use out of it…pay thirty dollars an' hardly see it outta the porch.

Linnie: How's the John Neal?

Gerald: All finished. They're puttin' her back in service first thing tomorrow.

Meme: Does that mean we can go to the mainland tomorrow?

Gerald: No, not tomorrow…have to give 'er a few days…just to make sure she's ok. A couple 'a trips back an' forth to make sure the bugs are out an' that she doesn't split a seam.


Oh for Christsake Linnie, here! Clean this, it's dirty!

Meme: Two days?

Gerald: Wha'? Ah, yeah….two days.

Fade Lights

Continue To Scene Seven