A monologue from the play by Eugene O’Neill
NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from Thirst and Other One-Act Plays. Eugene O’Neill. Boston: Gorham Press, 1914.
It’s easy to say: “Why don’t I beat it?” I can’t. I never have enough coin to make a good break and git out of town.
He takes it all away from me. And if I went to some other part of this burg he’d find me and kill me.
Even if he didn’t kill me he’d have me pinched and where’ud the kid be then? [grimly] Oh, he’s got me where he wants me all right.
He squares it with the cops so they don’t hold me up for walkin’ the streets. Yuh ought to be wise enough to know all of his kind stand in.
But if he tipped them off to do it they’d pinch me before I’d gone a block. Then it’ud be the Island fur mine.
[scornfully] D’yuh suppose they’d keep me any place if they knew what I was? And d’yuh suppose he wouldn’t tell them or have some one else tell them?
Yuh don’t know the game I’m up against. [bitterly] I’ve tried that job thing. I’ve looked fur decent work and I’ve starved at it.
A year after I first hit this town I quit and tried to be on the level. I got a job at housework—workin’ twelve hours a day for twenty-five dollars a month.
And I worked like a dog, too, and never left the house I was so scared of seein’ some one who knew me.
But what was the use? One night they have a guy to dinner who’s seen me some place when I was on the town.
He tells the lady—his duty he said it was—and she fires me right off the reel. I tried the same thing a lot of times.
But there was always some one who’d drag me back. And then I quit tryin’. There didn’t seem to be no use. They—all the good people—
they got me where I am and they’re goin’ to keep me there. Reform? Take it from me it can’t be done.
They won’t let yuh do it, and that’s Gawd’s truth.