Caffe Cino Pictures

Jerry Caruana’s 1962 Cino play “Mannikins”

Posted in Uncategorized by Robert on January 1, 1930

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by Jerry Caruana
C 1962 Jerry Caruana
All rights reserved


Young Man
Female Mannikin ((Bride)
Male Mannikin (Father)
Mrs. Blakely (Voice only)

SCENE: A room with a single bed, a table on which are kitchen
utensils, including a large knife. Two mannikins
(actors standing like mannikins.) One is dressed
as a bride, with a veil over her face. The other
is a man with a handlebar mustache, dressed in a
dark suit of old-fashioned cut. The room is dark,
the mannikins are seen by gloomy light. A young
man enters, turns on the light and proceeds to empty
his pockets, taking out such things as keys, wallet ,
a package of cigarettes, laying them upon the table.
He turns, approaches the bride mannikin, lifts the
veil and kisses the cheek lightly, then speaks. )

YOUNG MAN: Good evening, Marianne. I’ve come home at a reasonable hour. I’ve laid out my things for tomorrow morning. Tomorrow is a workday. You can count on me to punch the clock on time. I
haven’t had too many beers. I have spoken to no one all evening. You’re the first. Ch, yes — I mustn’t lie. I did speak to the bartender,
of course. I said, ‘A beer please.’ I repeated this speech five or six times during the course of the evening. Not much of an evening, I grant you, but what do you expect? (Turns to the male mannikin)
Hello, father. Hello, pillar of wisdom. I wish you would explain to my wife that, far from having wasted precious hours in the bar, I have spent them like a real man. She will only understand if you explain
it. Your age, your dignity, your personality would illuminate the subject better than my knowledge can. Father, there are certain things
that I can say only to you. But I can’t help it if she just happens to overhear me. Oh, father,father! How those barflies torment me with their stupid conversation! Why is it that as I grow older, people become more and more like cockroaches? Their conversations are like clumsy insect dances in which their jaws get interlocked. They seem to
walk around each other, mixing words and spit and hanging by the teeth! A couple of nights ago a woman sitting beside me drinking beer began to talk to me. She asked me, ”What do you do?” I said, “Nothing.” “Don’t you work?” she said. “Yes,” I said, “I work.” “Well, what do you do?” she said. “Nothing. Nothing, Madame.” Then I looked at her, into her eyes. I wanted to find out whether I could tell her about you. After all, it isn’t true that I do absolutely nothing. What would she say if I told her that I had in my apartment
two incomparable mannikins whom I treated as though they were alive, and that possessing them was all the joy I know in life — my fun, my art, my hobby, my religion, my domestic bliss, my love, my quarrels and my truces? Someday I may meet a person who will understand what it means to believe in mannikins, but I have little hope of that, and
certainly that person would bear no resemblance to that woman, who, beneath her penciled brow, had the eye of an ox! I turned away from her. Then a fellow came up and wedged himself between us, bending his face close to hers and introducing himself with an imbecilic joke he thought was perfectly hilarious. Soon he was sneaking to her about his Public Relations job as though it were the most enchanting thing on earth. She caught his enthusiasm and began an aria about her job in marketing research, and , father, I don’t think the disciples of Jesus carried the news of his teachings with more fervor than she did the
lessons of her marketing research. Is it any wonder , that, to shut out voices like theirs, I think of you and my beloved wife. I sit there,
missing you. I wonder what you might be saying to each other. I delay my homecoming so as to make it all the sweeter. Oh , I know you two have fascinating conversations when i am out. Your speech is different
from the babbling of the insects. I’ll bet you do nothing but talk about me. If I could only overhear you once — an intelligent conversation
on a profound, inexhaustible subject. (A knocking is heard. It is the sound of a broomstick on the ceiling of the room below. The young man cries out the following words in fright) What’s that? (Knocking again.) Oh Christ, it’s Mrs. Blakeley knocking on her ceiling. Am I talking too loud? What time is it? It’s after one. No, I’m not talking too loud. At this late hour whispers carry. The whole world becomes a stinking amplifier. (He takes off his shirt. He turns his back to the

BRIDE: Strange, isn’t it, dear father-in-law, that my heroic husband, who , in any age that had use for an extraordinary man, would have become a theme for minstrels’ songs, should be so oppressed
by modern vulgarity that he believes there is nothing better to do these days than sit in bars and dream of us? So many, many people sit in bars today. But only one like him.

FATHER: He is my son. My son. His anguish shall not
go unrecorded. His father’s heart is storing up each
moment of it like a book of music.

YOUNG MAN: They’re speaking. (Loudly.) They are speaking!
Let me hear your voices just once more! {Knocking
of woman downstairs, then her voice.)

MRS BLAKELY: Hey, you crazy bastard, son of a bitch!
I’m going to call the Police. Your hear? I’m
going to the station house!

YOUNG MAN: (Stamping his foot.) I hear you, swine-snout.,
You’re coming through to me, you pig! And here’s
my answer-: call the stinking cops. Make sure
They’re with you when I see you again , because if
nothing stops me, I’ll decorate those thick pig’s
nostrils with your blood! Go on, call the
police. Call the police! (There is a silence.)
Oh, please God, don’t let her bother me — not
now. Give me an hour. (Turns and looks at the
mannikins. They are whispering together.) Please,
a little louder.

BRIDE: (Audible now, but continuing what she has been
saying to the father.) He handled the old scold
perfectly, didn’t he father? Imagine breaking in
on his intimate affairs like that.

FATHER: I could not have done better myself.

YOUNG MAN: (Aside.) Thank heavens, they respect me after that.

BRIDE: (To the father.) My dear young husband is right in thinking that we talk about him all day long.

FATHER: What else can we do? He hasn’t given us the freedom to do otherwise.

BRIDE: You’re right. There’s nothing else for us to do.
That is to say, our sphere is rather limited. It’s
not as if we had the power to Speak to each other
about each other. (Young man shows signs of disturbance now)

FATHER: That would be too selfish, Marianne.

BRIDE: (With a slow mechanical motion , her arm moving
from register to register, she extends her hand to
the father, who seizes it mechanically.) It’s
not as if we spent time holding hands together, in
the good old-fashioned way, and promenaded up and
down the vistas of this room. (They do not walk.)

YOUNG MAN: There isn’t any need for that.

FATHER: Right. No need.

YOUNG MAN: (Rises, approaches the mannikins.) And neither
is there any need for holding hands!

FATHER: My son, I would not hold her hand. My hand is a prisoner in hers.

YOUNG MAN: (To the bride.) Release my father’s hand!
(She does not do so) Why are you doing this to me? You’re nothing but a mannikin. You were installed in this apartment for the sole reason of delighting me, your husband. You seem to think —

BRIDE: Yes, I seem to think that there are worlds in me of
which you’re not aware. When you installed me here
you should have realized that there is more in me
than you would ever dare to look for. There must
be more, dear husband, How could it be otherwise?
When a man sets up a mannikin to be his bride,
you can be sure that bride is going to be dangerous.
If I’m a bride, then I’m a woman. If I’m a woman
I have power. Don’t take me for granted, husband.

YOUNG MAN: Listen to the dummy rave! You’re absolutely
under my control. Admit it, woman!

BRIDE: Then why are you so frightened? Lie down on your
bed. Control me from a distance. You have always
kept me at a distance anyway.

YOUNG MAN: So you’re challenging me. All right, I will
lie down. I will control you. And even if I can’t —

BRIDE: What then?

YOUNG MAN: Then I won’t be afraid. I shall remember
you are only thoughts revolving in my mind. When
you soothe me you are pleasant thoughts and when you
hurt me you are wretched thoughts , but you remain
mere thoughts! I’m not a man if I can’t face you. So, run wild , the two of you ; Go on: what were you saying to him? (Mimics her.) ‘It’s not as if we spent time holding hands together.’ Well, what;
next? How about winking your eye and showing him
your ankle?

BRIDE: (As earlier, to Father.) It’s not as if I winked my
eye at you the way cheap women do in bars. (She
winks at the father and smiles.) And turned my head from left to right, from right to left so that your eyes could eat the beauty of my skin
down to the pure white bone.

FATHER: (with a booming, good natured laugh) Ha! Ha!
If I did so, daughter, I could say of you with
honesty: I found her as pure as I left her and I
left her as pure as I found her.

YOUNG MAN: No, Father. Father!

BRIDE: It’s not as if I turned my back to you and turned
my head to you and lifted up my dress so you
could see the backs of my knees, a sight which men
find thrilling, as I understand.

FATHER: Ah, they are beautiful! Look at them, son. Stop
lying there and treating us as though we were puppets
in a show put on exclusively for you! Come here
and admire with me the backs of your wife’s knees.

YOUNG MAN: I will not! Marianne, put down your dress!

BRIDE:  (She does so, with a surprised look at him.  Then
speaks to the father in the same way as before.)
It’s not as if I danced with you when he is  out,
and made small talk with you, as they do in bars
and tawdry little dancehalls. {The bride and father
do a curious, sensual dance, short, abrupt steps,
each step separated from the next by a distinct
time interval. They speak intensely.} What do
you do?

FATHER: Public Relations man! Important work. I’m quite
a hot-shot! What do you do?

BRIDE: Marketing research! Utterly fascinating, sir.
Dear me, I don’t think the world’s seen anything
to compare with my researches since the Epistles
of St. Paul!

FATHER: Oh yes! St. Paul. A fascinating man. Great
prophet, wasn’t he?

BRIDE: I’ll say. We certainly could use his selling style
today. With him  the passion was the slogan
and the slogan was the passion. No wasted
emotion. Every feeling that he had went straight to
the potential buyer.

FATHER: Straight as an arrow. Wham!
BRIDE: Do you know? All of a sudden, like a hot flush,
I find I have a passionate desire to read the Bible.

FATHER: Well, fancy that! I have one at my place. Why
don’t we just mosey up and take a crack at it?

BRIDE: Say, big boy, do you really, really have a Bible?

FATHER: I wouldn’t think of living in a place without one.

BRIDE: Oh, aren’t you the funny one!

YOUNG MAN: (Wildly) Oh, please, no more stupidity! Torture me to death! But not stupidity. Don’t remind me of those vulgar idiots I see all day.

BRIDE: (Stops dancing.) Poor darling,  We’ve upset him. What
is it, my son? I think you’ve had a nightmare.

YOUNG MAN: I’m not your son! And yet I thank you for
tormenting me by saying so. At least it isn’t
stupid. (He grips her hand) Marianne, I’m not your
son. I forbid you to say it again. I’ll kill you if you do.

FATHER: (Grips young man’s hand. They stand like an inanimate
group. The young man is in the middle.) No violence, my boy.

YOUNG MAN: Allright, but let her remember her place.
She is my wife by virtue of being a figment of my
imagination. As the general of all my imaginary
troops, I command her to remember her place! She
is my faithful, saintlike, pure exquisite wife!

FATHER: (Releasing the young man. Speaks to the wife.)
Comfort your husband.

BRIDE: I’m still as pure as on the day he married me. Please
don’t be angry with me if I say I find you perfectly
delightful at this moment. I only tease you to
arouse your jealousy. But don’t mistake my teasing
for rebelliousness. I know my place.

YOUNG MAN: I’m glad to hear that. Now let me sleep. Go
back to your places. I’ve got to punch a clock
tomorrow morning. (They go to their places, stand
exactly as they were at opening of scene. He
turns out the light.)

BRIDE: Don’t turn out the light, my darling. Who knows
what might happen in the dark? You leave me with
another man and fall asleep. Don’t you think that’s
tempting flesh and blood a bit too far

YOUNG MAN: (Turns on the light again.) ‘What on earth
are you talking about?

BRIDE: (Coquettishly.) You say I am a figment of your
imagination and you choose to think me as your
faithful wife and I must be obedient to
your will. Well, then, husband, I am only doing
what a faithful bride should do when I ask you not
to sleep alone.

YOUNG MAN: That’s a very interesting point. Quite logical.
Allright, then, I command you to get in bed.

BRIDE: (Walks to the bed mechanically, lies down and
stretches out her arms. He stands over her.)
You’ve never kissed me passionately, darling.
(Young man looks at her frightened, bends, kisses
her on the lips. Bride laughs leeringly.) Ha!
Ha! More, more, more, more! Now that you’ve given
me a taste of it, I’ll never have enough of it!
Feed my starved body, lover boy: Make up for all
the years that you’ve neglected me. Burn up your
rotten conscience in one big red hot act of love!
More, more! I love it! Ha, ha, ha! Another kiss.
But can’t you put a little tongue in it this time? Come on! Let’s try it!

YOUNG MAN: Help me! Father! Father!

FATHER: Your despair is making you quite helpless. I can
tell you what to do. Your mother behaved this way
on her wedding night, and I taught her a lesson
she never forgot. A woman’s lust is like a beast
that must be tamed by fear. You must approach her like a murderer. Your desire ought to fall across
her body like the shadow of death. I remember
how, on my wedding night, I was standing over your
mother just as I am standing over your wife. She
was looking up at me, saying, “Here we are, alone
at last, my friend, and somehow it appears to me
that you are suffering from indigestion. I think
you’ve had a little too much wedding cake and wine.”
Then she began to giggle, as your wife is doing now.
I didn’t say a word , I went to the table and took
a knife. (Father goes to the table and takes a knife.)
And then I took her by the hair and wrenched her
head back. (He does this to the bride.) I held the
knife close to her heart and I twisted her neck
in such a way that she had to move closer
and closer to the knife to keep from having it broken.
BRIDE: Forgive me! Forgive me!

FATHER: Will you ever try to make a fool of me again?

BRIDE: Forgive me.

FATHER: Answer- yes or no!


FATHER: (To young man, releasing the bride.) You see?
She changed her tune allright. (He gives the
knife to the young man , ) Take my word for it.
Teach her to fear you and she’ll whine like a
dog at your feet.

YOUNG MAN: (Looks at the knife as though it were an unfamiliar
object. He holds it by the blade and turns it upside
down , then studies the handle.)

BRIDE: Don’t try to teach him anything. He doesn’t listen.
Look at the way he’s handling that knife. He’s like
a country yokel in an antique shop. He’s so afraid,
it makes me sick to look at him. He holds the knife
by the blade and stares at the handle like a philosopher.
Well, now he’s turned it the right way. Bravo!
He’s beginning to realize that he’s holding a knife.
There’s no telling what, he’ll learn next. Well, now
he’s daydreaming, looking at the reflection
of his face in the blade. Why did I marry such
a man? His eyes are closed to everything and he
believes that he sees better when they are closed than
when they’re open. Oh look! I believe he’s
entertaining thoughts of killing himself. Why don’t
you stop him, father-in-law?

FATHER: It is the only honorable thing for him to do.

YOUNG MAN: The only honorable thing for me to do. But why?

FATHER: Because to live with us as we are now is a disgrace
to you. You created us in order to escape from the world.

YOUNG MAN: Not to escape! To rise above it!

FATHER: Very well , to rise above it. But have you done so?
We were meant to lead you away from ordinary life,
which you find so disgusting — but by creating us
you have only led yourself into its midst again. Dreams
are beautiful, but if the dreamer spurns the world
he will be punished by the world for doing so. Your
hatred is poisoning you. The torment will not stop
unless you compromise with yourself. You must come
to terms with the everyday life you detest.

YOUNG MAN: I would rather be dead.

FATHER: The choice is up to you. (Young man hold the knife
with the blade slanted toward his stomach. Father
speaks to bride.) Marianne, give me your hand. (She
does so. He helps her to her feet, then stands
beside her, watching the young man.)

YOUNG MAN: Too much light. (He turns out the light.
A siren is heard in the distance, on a high note
lasting five to ten seconds.) Mrs. Blakeley, I
forgot your threat, but you’re a little bit too
late. (He drives the blade into his stomach holding
the knife with both hands, then falls on the bed
and remains, swaying slightly, in a seated position,
looking at the mannikins who very slowly return
to the position they had occupied when the play
began. As they speak and move, he grows weaker
and weaker. The last word spoken by the bride
coincides in time with the freezing of both the bride
and the father into their original postures, as
well as with the death-rigidity of the young man.)

FATHER: Somehow, my lovely girl…

BRIDE: (Giggles)

FATHER: ….it makes me think of endless fields of flowers ,
billowing oceans of wheat , whit e clouds, like ancient
sailing vessels, skimming through the deep blue sky.

BRIDE: You forgot the snow-capped mountains and
the rivers of milk. And you also forgot those
ravenous black birds that suddenly turn white and
sing like nightingales.

FATHER: But wait a minute, can’t we stop and think for
a moment? What has happened? If I only had a
minute I might find the answer. Honor and disgrace.
I think that was the issue. Damn it, we’re so
pressed for time now. Oh , Marianne, how I would like
to reach out suddenly with all my strength and seize
one petal of a flower or one pure white feather of
a bird — or just one perfect word. Then I would
give it to him as a souvenir. Take this my son,
and remember my love.

BRIDE: The worms will thank you. Every stinking one of them.

FATHER: (They are in their places, lifting their arms and
moving their heads toward the original positions. The
bride has put her veil down.) What was I thinking about? I can’t think backward anymore but only forward, and I’m so afraid to move
that way. Was it about a flash of lightning on
a gloomy day? Tell me, hurry, hurry, tell me! was
it that?

BRIDE: I just don’t know, I’m sorry I can’t help you.


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