Monday, February 06, 2006

It matters a little bit

I was thrilled over the weekend to learn that Ben Murphy and Roger Davis will be appearing at the Western Film Fair here in Charlotte in July. Should I embarrass myself by bringing in my box of Alias Smith and Jones clippings or all my old cassette tapes on which I recorded the audio of the show? I didn't even have a cassette player to record any of the Pete Duel episodes, although I did later make a cassette copy of "The Men That Corrupted Hadleyburg" episode from the recording that I managed to get from a reel-to-reel tape.

In an effort to make this a literary post, I'll provide the two references to Alias Smith and Jones from Martin McDonagh's play "The Lonesome West."

Background:

Valene and Coleman Connor are brothers in Leenane, Galway. Their father was shot in the back of the head by Coleman days before the play opens--accidentally, or so Father Welsh, the heavy-drinking priest believes. Hours after the funeral Tom Hanlon, another member of the community, kills himself. Valene helps Welsh drag the lake for Hanlon's body, then the two return to the Connor home to drink.

Welsh (pause) A lonesome oul lake that is for a fella to go killing himself in. It makes me sad just to think of it. To think of poor Tom sitting alone there, alone with his thoughts, the cold lake in front of him, and him weighing up what's best, a life full of the loneliness that took him there but a life full of good points too. Every life has good points, even if it's only. . . seeing rivers, or going travelling, or watching football on the telly. . .

Valene (nodding): Football, aye . . .

Welsh: Or the hopes of being loved. And Thomas weighing all that up on the one hand, then weighing up a death in cold water on the other, and choosing the water. And first it strikes you as dumb, and a waste, 'You were thirty-eight years old, you had health and friends, there was plenty worse off fecks than you in the world, Tom Hanlon'. . .

Valene: The girl born with no lips in Norway.

Welsh: I didn't hear about her.

Valene: There was this girl in Norway, and she was born with no lips at all.

Welsh: Uh-huh. But then you say if the world's such a decent place worth staying in, where were his friends when he needed them in this decent world? When he needed them most, to say 'Come away from there, ya daft, we'd miss ya, you're worthwhile, as dumb as you are.' Where were his friends then? Where was I then? Sitting pissed on me own in a pub. (Pause)Rotting in hell now, Tom Hanlon is. According to the Catholic Church anyways he is, the same as every suicide. No remorse. No mercy on him.

Valene: Is that right now? Every suicide you're saying?

Welsh: According to us mob it's right anyways.

Valene: Well I didn't know that. That's a turn-up for the books. (Pause) So the fella from Alias Smith and Jones, he'd be in hell?

Welsh: I don't know the fella from Alias Smith and Jones.

Valene: Not the blond one, now, the other one.

Welsh: I don't know the fella.

Valene: He killed himself, and at the height of his fame.

Welsh: Well, if he killed himself, aye, he'll be in hell too. (Pause) It's great it is. You can kill a dozen fellas, you can kill two dozen fellas. So long as you're sorry after you can still get into heaven. But if it's yourself you go murdering, no. Straight to hell.

Valene: That sounds awful harsh. (Pause) So Tom'll be in hell now, he will? Jeez. (Pause) I wonder if he's met the fella from Alias Smith and Jones yet? Ah, that fella must be old be now. Tom probably wouldn't even recognise him. That's if he saw Alias Smith and Jones at all. I only saw it in England. It mightn't've been on telly here at all.

Welsh: (sighing) You wouldn't be sparing a drop of that poteen would ya, Valene? I've an awful thirst. . .

And then later in the play, after the priest is told that Coleman deliberately shot his father, he writes a letter to the Connor brothers and then drowns himself in the same lake as Tom Hanlon. For awhile the brothers, who have been at each other's throat throughout the play, attempt to get along.

Coleman: I hope Father Welsh isn't in hell at all. I hope he's in heaven.

Valene: I hope he's in heaven.

Coleman: Or purgatory at worst.

Valene: Although if he's in hell at least he'll have Tom Hanlon to speak to.

Coleman: So it won't be as if he doesn't know anybody.

Valene: Aye. And the fella off Alias Smith and Jones.

Coleman: Is the fella off Alias Smith and Jones in hell?

Valene: He is. Father Welsh was telling me.

Coleman: The blond one.

Valene: No, the other one.

Coleman: He was good, the other one.

Valene: He was the best one.

Coleman: It's always the best ones go to hell. Me, probably straight to heaven I'll go, even though I blew the head off poor Dad. So long as I go confessing to it anyways. That's the good thing about being Catholic. You can shoot your dad in the head and it doesn't even matter at all.

Valene: Well it matters a little bit.

Coleman: It matters a little bit but not a big bit.

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