Come on Little Fishie by Bob Galley


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This Play is the copyright of the Author and must NOT be Performed without the Author’s PRIOR consent


      A MAN IS SITTING WITH A FISHING LINE. HE PRETENDS TO FISH AS HE
      SINGS.

      JACK:  “Come on little fishy, come on little fishy, come on little
      fishy, come, come, come.”

      Patricia enters. She is dressed only in workaday clothes. she walks
      past Jack & speaks while the singing continues.

      PATRICIA: O Jack! He’d sit there with his fishing line. He was very
      fond of it. A beautiful piece of equipment. Handmade. An heirloom from
      his uncle Cyril. Only a few of them in existence.

      She pauses while the singing continues

      PATRICIA: That song! Jack sat there day after day singing (joins the
      song) “Come on little fishy”—I never thought it would become such an important part of
      my life. Everything would have been fine if we could have kept it in the family. If only that
      stranger had never come.

      Patricia exits as Henry enters tentatively.

      JACK:  “come, come, come.”

      He looks at his watch.

      JACK:  Five and three quarter seconds! Again! Damn! It has to be six
      and a half. “Come on little fishy”—- I must get that timing right. We
      can’t change the whole orchestral arrangement.

      He watches his watch and sings again as Henry approaches.

      JACK:  “come on little fishy, come on—-“

      He stops singing.

      HENRY:  What are you doing?

      There is a pause and then the singing continues over the dialogue.

      JACK:  “Come on little fishy”, etc.

      HENRY:  That’s a catchy little tune. Sort of grows on you.

      Jack will not engage in conversation. Henry joins in.

      HENRY:  Come on little fishy, come on little fishy- I must say those
      lyrics represent a real challenge.

      Henry sings a bit more.

      HENRY:  I’m getting sick of this. Let’s stop.

      Jack stops.

      HENRY:  I asked you a question; and when I ask a question, I like to
      receive an answer. What are you doing?

      Jack does not answer.

      HENRY:  I see. You are determined not to answer. Well! Let me tell you,
      you will not deter me. Persistence! That’s me. Scientific discipline.
      When I put my mind to something- I will prevail. And of course, an inquiring mind.
      If I want to know something- I will find out.

      Jack starts to sing

      HENRY:  Stop that song. You haven’t answered my question yet. I’m
      not going to go away. Come on, you can tell me. What are you doing?

      Singing stops.

      HENRY:  Well, what are you doing?

      JACK:  What does it look like I’m doing?

      HENRY:  Fishing.

      JACK:  Go to the top of the class.

      HENRY:  But—

      JACK:  What?

      HENRY:  There’s no water.

      JACK:  My, my, you are doing well. Very observant.

      HENRY:  But if there’s no water, there’s no fish.

      JACK:  I can see the logic in that.

      HENRY:  But why—?

      JACK:  That’s a good question; but it’s not the right question.

      HENRY:  Not the right question?

      JACK:  No.

      HENRY:  What is the right question?

      JACK:  No, that’s not the right question either. Think for a moment;
      make your mind blank. When you first saw me sitting here with a fishing
      rod, quite incongruously, as you pointed out, what was your first thought?

      HENRY:  Um—

      JACK:  Apart from the obvious, “Look at that silly bastard”. No.
      I’d be willing to wager that you pondered the situation for approximately
      six and a half seconds, and then thought of something scathingly sarcastic. Am I
      right?

      HENRY:  Um—

      JACK:  Surely you can do better than that. A person of your obvious
      loquaciousness and considerable vocabulary can surely manage more than
      ahumble “Um”. Come on, you thought of something, didn’t you? I
      knew it. Outwith it. Go back and walk in—start again.

      Henry does so.

      JACK:  Stop. Pause while you think of pithy comment.

      HENRY:  Um—Have you caught anything yet?

      JACK:  No. Except for you of course. Ha ha. I suppose you think I’m mad.

      HENRY:  No.

      JACK:  No.

      HENRY:  No. Not at all. I see exactly what you’re doing. You sit
      there hoping somebody will say something like, “How many have you
      caught?” It initiates social contact.

      JACK:  That’s good. A very plausible assessment. Very perceptive
      indeed. Most people wouldn’t see it that way.

      HENRY:  Ah but in that respect, I have the advantage over most people.
      I had an old uncle who collected hand crafted fishing rods—

      JACK:  I had an uncle, who always carried a tennis racket, no matter
      where he was, except under the shower of course; like this see.

      Jack gets up, holding the fishing rod it as if it were a tennis racket.

      JACK:  He’d always walk around with—-

      HENRY:  That’s not a tennis racket.

      JACK:  No, but just pretend it’s a –

      HENRY:  It doesn’t even look like a tennis racket and you’re not
      holding it properly—unless you’re planning a double backhand smash- a very
      low percentage shot.

      JACK:  I am merely trying to set a visual image of my uncle carrying a tennis racket.

      HENRY:  I have serious doubts about you, my friend. There is definitely
      some sort of perceptual disorder.

      JACK:  How dare you say that. How dare you cast aspersions at my
      conceptual capability.

      Gestures Henry closer and almost whispers to him.

      JACK:  In actual fact, I have devised a remarkably sophisticated and
      devious little scheme, so you see it is not a question of my
      intellectual accomplishments. It is quite clear to me that the problem is your
      complete inability to use your imagination.

      HENRY:  I beg your pardon.

      JACK:  Determined you might be; dogged even; but bereft of the capacity
      to think laterally. But you’re right; it’s not the same.

      Jack hands the fishing rod to Henry.

      JACK:  Here, take the bloody tennis racket, er, fishing rod.

      Henry takes the fishing rod and examines it closely. Every time he
      handles it he does so and is reluctant to relinquish it.

      JACK:  The point is Uncle Bertie used to swan around with this tennis
      racket and people would walk up to him and ask, “Which way to Wimbledon?”
      And you know what he’d say?

      HENRY:  What?

      JACK:  F—- off.

      HENRY:  F—- off!

      JACK:  Well not really. What he actually said was—was – I can’t.

      HENRY:  Can’t what?

      JACK:  I can never bring myself to say that word.

      HENRY:  Can’t you?

      JACK:  No I can’t say f—. But uncle did. F—- off. Not a real
      conversationalist, Uncle Bertie.

      HENRY:  Did you like your Uncle?

      JACK:  Like him! I loathed him! Hated him! Detested him! All I wanted
      to do was to beat him senseless with his bloody tennis racket. That would
      have been an appropriate end for him.

      HENRY:  Engineer hoisted with his own petard.

      JACK:  What?

      HENRY:  Shakespeare.

      JACK:  O yes. But it would have upset Aunty Ally. She was so nice. An
      actress. A good one by all accounts. Shakespeare. An angel she was.
      Never did anything wrong in her entire life. A paragon of virtue! A saint!

      HENRY:  She must have been a very boring person.

      JACK:  Why do you say that?

      HENRY:  Must be if she was that perfect.

      JACK:  She wasn’t perfect. She had one little fault; she was always
      having a bath. Her obsession for cleanliness drove me mad, almost to the
      point where I——

      Henry hands the line back.

      HENRY:  Well thank you for telling me all about your family. Nice to
      have a little chat. But enough time wasting. I came here because——

      JACK:  Has a lovely feel to it.

      Jack advances towards Henry as if about to strangle him. Henry turns
      and sees him as the lights go down.

      BLACKOUT

      When the lights come on the fishing line is leaning on the chair.
      Judge enters. He is dressed as if on his way to work.

      JUDGE:  Mrs. Ripper, Mrs. Ripper.

      He grasps his lower chest, upper abdomen in pain then rests on the
      bench. Henry enters. Judge does not notice him.

      HENRY:  I came here because—- I have to know.  It‘s got something to
      do with the garden. There was a man sitting here- with a fishing line,
      just like the ones—Yes- that’s significant and he was singing- yes—that
      song—

      Henry sits with the line “fishing”

      HENRY:  “Come on little fishy, come on little fishy—“

      He hums the tune and then sits silently. Judge looks about. He finds a
      tennis
      racket which he holds and looks at.

      HENRY:  Does have a lovely feel to it.

      JUDGE:  Has a lovely feel to it. Mrs. Ripper—Mrs. Ripper.

      HENRY:  “Come on little fishie—“

      JUDGE:  Jack! I didn’t expect to see you—

      He approaches Henry, stopping when he realizes his mistake.

      JUDGE:  O, I don’t think you’ll catch anything. No water.

      HENRY:  No. I suppose you think it looks silly.

      JUDGE:  Doesn’t faze me at all. I see some really strange things-
      every day,
      but I don’t think I’ve ever seen you here before.

      HENRY:  [aside]I know him from somewhere. [back] No. I think I’ve
      only
      been here once.

      JUDGE:  I’ve been here lots of times. (aside) Sometimes I wish I’d
      never got
      involved. (back) A bit odd, but quite refreshing, Jack and Patricia-
      doesn’t do
      any harm to see a different perspective. (aside) Best thing you
      could do is get
      out of here. (back) Nice to have a little chat with them. Trouble is
      usually turns
      out to be a long session. Don’t think I’ve got the time today.

      HENRY:  Spot of tennis eh!

      Henry swings the fishing line like a tennis racket.

      JUDGE:  What! No. Court. Not a tennis court. A real court. A law
      court.

      Judge puts the racket back. Henry moves to him.

      HENRY:  Good luck.

      JUDGE:  Pardon.

      HENRY:  Good luck with your case. I hope they let you off.

      JUDGE:  Let me off! I don’t think so. I’m the judge.

      HENRY: [aside]That’s where I’ve seen him, at the trial.

      JUDGE:  Let you into a little secret though—She thinks I’m going to
      let her
      off. She’s pleading insanity.

      Judge laughs inanely.

      JUDGE:  She’s no more insane than I am. Do you know what she did?

      HENRY:  No.

      JUDGE:  She bludgeoned a man to death with a tennis racket.

      HENRY:  Why?

      JUDGE:  Why? Don’t know. We haven’t got that far yet. But I can
      guarantee you; she’ll come up with some lame, pathetic little excuse, totally
      bereft of imagination. Some people simply can’t think laterally. There was one
      I remember where the putative motive for murder was that they were working on
      an arrangement, and the victim couldn’t get the timing of the vocal line right.

      Judge laughs again. Patricia enters approaching Judge.

      PATRICIA:    Judge.

      JUDGE:  Mrs. Ripper! Nice to –

      PATRICIA:    I didn’t expect to see you.

      JUDGE:  It has been a while. There’s something I wanted to say to
      you.

      PATRICIA:    There’s something I wanted to say to you. I bear you no
      malice, personally, and when it’s all said and done you were only doing
      your job; putting away psychopathic serial killers.

      JUDGE:  Yes, we all have our cross to bear. But I have to tell you
      that—

      PATRICIA:    And there’s something else I have to tell you. They’re
      not as good as they used to be.

      JUDGE:  You’ve lost me I’m afraid. What’s not as good?

      PATRICIA:    The capsicums.

      HENRY:  Capsicums?

      PATRICIA:    What are you doing with that?

      Patricia snatches the fishing line.

      PATRICIA:    That’s a very precious piece of equipment.

      She throws it roughly on the chair. Henry shows concern that it may
      be
      damaged.

      PATRICIA:      [to Judge.] Who is he? [to Henry] Who are you? [to Judge]
      What is he doing here?

      JUDGE:  So many questions.

      PATRICIA:    We have to be careful. Why has he come?

      JUDGE:  Why have you come?

      HENRY:  Capsicums. I’d heard about your capsicums. You may not be
      aware, but your capsicums have achieved quite a reputation. I had to
      know. Capsicums are a passion of mine. I’ve studied them in depth- written
      papers- given talks on the radio—even proposed a new classification.
      Without boasting I can say that I am one of only a handful of people worldwide
      who could be classed as an undisputed authority on the subject of
      capsicums; perhaps the world’s foremost now that Nathan Pickens is no longer at
      large.

      Judge coughs.

      HENRY:  I want to hear about them.

      PATRICIA:    What do you think, Judge?

      JUDGE:  What do I think? I think about a lot of things actually.

      PATRICIA:    I need your guidance. Do you think it’s safe to tell him
      about thecapsicums?

      JUDGE:  I really don’t know. I—

      PATRICIA: [to Henry]  Amazing isn’t it? For a man accustomed to
      making critical life and death decisions like whether a psychopath goes to
      prison—

      JUDGE:  Mrs. Ripper, I have no idea—

      PATRICIA:    Yes—but it’s not your fault. You’re a judge.  [To
      Henry.]      I could tell you about the capsicums but there are other considerations. There
      are others involved. Intimately. Jack of course.

      Jack enters.

      PATRICIA:    Reverend Jeremy

      Reverend enters. He and Henry recognize each other but don’t acknowledge.

      PATRICIA:    You remember him, Judge?

      JUDGE:  Yes.

      PATRICIA:      [to Henry]    A frequent visitor.

      JACK:  [to Henry]    A frequent unwelcome visitor.


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