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A monologue from the screenplay by Steven Zaillian, Kenneth Lonergan, and Jay C.
Bill “The Butcher” Cutting
No, I don’t never sleep too much. I have to sleep with one eye open, and I only got one eye, right?… I’m forty-seven. Forty-seven years old. You know how I stayed alive this long?
All these years? Fear. The spectacle of fearsome acts. Somebody steals from me, I cut off his hands. He offends me, I cut out his tongue. He rises against me, I cut off his head, stick it on a pike, raise it high up so all on the streets can see.
That’s what preserves the order of things. Fear. That one tonight, who was he? A nobody. A coward. What an ignominious end that would have been. I killed the last honorable man fifteen years ago.
Since then, it’s… You seen his portrait downstairs? (pause) Is your mouth all glued up with cunny juice? I asked you a question…. (Smiling) Oh, you got a murderous rage in you, and I like it.
It’s life, boiling up inside of you. It’s good. The Priest and me, we lived by the same principles. It was only faith divided us. He gave me this, you know. That was the finest beating I ever took.
My face was pulp, my guts was pierced, and my ribs was all mashed up. And when he came to finish me, I couldn’t look him in the eye. He spared me because he wanted me to live in shame.
This was a great man. A great man. So I cut out the eye that looked away. Sent it to him wrapped in blue paper. I would have cut ’em both out if I could have fought him blind.
Then I rose back up again with a full heart and buried him in his own blood… He was the only man I ever killed worth remembering. I never had a son. Civilization is crumbling.
(Bill gets painfully up from his chair, kisses his hand and places it on Amsterdam’s forehead) God bless you.