Callbacks: "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof"


BRICK

Skipper had some fever that came back on him which the doctors couldn’t explain and I got that injury – turned out to be a shadow on the X-ray plate and a touch of bursitis, so I lay in a hospital bed, watched our games on TV, saw Maggie on the bench next to Skipper when he was hauled out of the game for stumbles, fumbles! – Burned me up the way she hung on his arm. Y’know, I think that Maggie had always felt sorta left out because she and me never got any closer together than two people just get in bed, which is not much closer than two cats on a – fence humping…

So, she took time to work on poor dumb Skipper. He was a less than average student at Ole’ Miss, you know that, don’t you? Poured in his mind the dirty, false idea that what we were, him and me, was a frustrated case of that ole pair of sisters that lived in this room, Jack Straw and Peter Ochello – He, poor Skipper, went to bed with Maggie to prove it wasn’t true, and when it didn’t work out, he thought it WAS true – Skipper broke in two like a rotten stick – nobody ever turned so fast to a lush – or died of it so quick. (beat)……I left something out of that story, Big Daddy. I left out a long distance phone call which I had from Skipper, in which he made a drunken confession to me and on which I hung up....the last time we spoke to each other in our lives.  


BRICK/MAGGIE

(In this scene, Maggie has been rambling on and Brick is letting everything go in one ear and out the other until she calls him out. She can feel his disdain for her.)

MAGGIE

Why, year before last, when Susan McPheeters was singled out fo’ that honor, y’ know what happened to her? Y’know what happened to poor little Susie McPheeters?

BRICK

No. What happened to little Susie McPheeters?

MAGGIE

Somebody spit tobacco juice in her face.

BRICK

(dreamily) Somebody spit tobacco juice in her face?

MAGGIE

That’s right, some old drunk leaned out of a window in the Hotel Gayoso and yelled, “Hey Queen, hey, hey there, Queenie!” Poor Susie looked up and flashed him a radiant smile and he shot out a squirt of tobacco juice right into Susie’s face.

BRICK

Well, what do you know about that.

MAGGIE

What do I know about it? I was there, I saw it!

BRICK

Must’ve been kinda funny.

MAGGIE

Susie didn’t think so. Had Hysterics. Screamed like a banshee. They had to stop th’ parade an’ remove her from her throne an’ go on with…(She catches sight of him in the mirror, gasps slightly, wheels about to face him. Count ten.) Why are you lookin’ at me like that?

BRICK

(Whistling softly) Like what, Maggie?

MAGGIE

The way you were lookin’ at me just now, befo’ I caught your eye in the mirror and you started to whistle! I don’t know how t’ describe it but it froze my blood! – I’ve caught you lookin’ at me like that so often lately. What are you thinkin’ of when you look at me like that?

BRICK

I wasn’t conscious of lookin’ at you, Maggie.

MAGGIE

Don’t you think I know that --? Don’t you? --?—Think I know that ----

BRICK

Know what, Maggie?

MAGGIE (coming unglued)

That I’ve gone through this ---hideous ----transformation, become -----hard!----Frantic! (adding, almost tenderly)….cruel! That’s what you’ve been observing in me lately. How could y’ help but observe it? That’s all right. I’m not…thin-skinned anymore, can’t afford to be thinned-skinned anymore.


BRICK/BIG DADDY

(In this scene, Brick’s detachment is at last broken through. His heart accelerates, his forehead becomes sweaty. The thing that they end up discussing is the inadmissible thing that Skipper died when Brick disavowed the relationship between them)

BRICK

Will you please give me my crutch so I can get up off this floor?

BIG DADDY

First you answer my question. Why do you drink? Why are you throwing your life away, boy, like somethin’ disgusting you picked up in the street?

BRICK

Big Daddy, I’m in pain. I stepped on that foot.

BIG DADDY

You started drinkin’ the day your friend Skipper died.

BRICK

What are you suggesting?

BIG DADDY

I’m suggesting nothing. But Gooper and Mae’s suggesting there was something not right exactly in your….

BRICK

“not right?”

BIG DADDY

Not, well, exactly normal in your friendship with…..

BRICK

They suggested that, too? I thought that was Maggie’s suggestion! (long beat). Who else’s suggestion is it, is it yours? How many others thought that Skipper and I were…..

BIG DADDY (gently)

Now, hold on, hold on a minute son. I knocked around in my time.

BRICK

What’s that got to do with –

BIG DADDY

I said “Hold on”! – I bummed, I bummed this country till I was –

BRICK

Whose suggestion, who else’s suggestion was it?

BIG DADDY

Slept in hobo jungles and railroad Y’s and flophouses in all cities before I –

BRICK

Oh, you think so, too, you call me your son a queer. Oh! Maybe that’s why you put Maggie and me in this room that was Jack Straw’s and Peter Ochello’s, in which that pair of old sisters slept in a double bed where both of ‘em died!


MAE/GOOPER

(Mae and Gooper are preparing to tell Big Mama that the doctor lied to them about Big Daddy’s diagnosis and he is, in fact, dying of cancer. Gooper, an attorney, has never liked Brick - thinking he is a no-account drunk. But he knows Brick is Big Daddy’s favorite and when Daddy dies, the plantation will be left to him. Gooper is trying to stop that. Mae is one of those conniving southern women who is sweet on the surface, but a manipulating shark underneath. Her claws some out from time to time.)

MAE

Mommy, Mommy, Big Mama, we’re just as hopeful and optimistic about Big Daddy’s prospects, we have faith in prayer – but nevertheless there are certain matters that have to be discussed an’ dealt with, because otherwise –

GOOPER

Eventualities have to be considered and now’s the time. Mae, will you please get my briefcase out of our room?

MAE

Yes, honey.

GOOPER

Now, Big Mom. What you said just now was not all true and you know it. I’ve always loved Big Daddy in my own quiet way. I never made a show of it, and I know that Big Daddy has always been fond of me in a quiet way, too, and he never made a show of it either.

MAE

Here’s your briefcase, Gooper, honey.

GOOPER

Thanks you. Of course, my relationship with Big Daddy is different than Brick’s.

MAE

You’re eight years older’n Brick an’ always had to carry a bigger load of th’ responsibilities than Brick ever had t’ carry.

He never carried a thing in his life but a football or highball.

GOOPER

Mae, will you let me talk, please?

MAE

Yes, honey.


MAE

That woman isn’t pregnant! She can’t tell you the name of the gynecologist because he doesn’t exist! You can’t conceive a child by a man who won’t sleep with you. We know it’s a lie because we hear you in here; he won’t sleep with you, we hear you! So don’t imagine you’re gonna pull a trick over on us to fool a dyin’ man. Liar!