SCENEThree weeks later. A corner of Fifth Avenue in the Fifties on a fine, Sunday morning. A general atmosphere of clean, well-tidied, wide street; a flood of mellow, tempered sunshine; gentle, genteel breezes. In the rear, the show windows of two shops, a jewelry establishment on the corner, a furriers next to it. Here the adornments of extreme wealth are tantalizingly displayed. The jewelers window is gaudy with glittering diamonds, emeralds, rubies, pearls, etc., fashioned in ornate tiaras, crowns, necklaces, collars, etc. From each piece hangs an enormous tag from which a dollar sign and numerals in intermittent electric lights wink out the incredible prices. The same in the furriers. Rich furs of all varieties hang there bathed in a downpour of artificial light. The general effect is of a background of magnificence cheapened and made grotesque by commercialism, a background in tawdry disharmony with the clear light and sunshine on the street itself.
Up the side street YANK and LONG come swaggering. LONG is dressed in shore clothes, wears a black Windsor tie, cloth cap. YANK is in his dirty dungarees. A firemans cap with black peak is cocked defiantly on the side of his head. He has not shaved for days and around his fierce, resentful eyesas around those of LONG to a lesser degreethe black smudge of coal dust still sticks like make-up. They hesitate and stand together at the corner, swaggering, looking about them with a forced, defiant contempt.
LONG[Indicating it all with an oratorical gesture.] Well, ere we are. Fif Avenoo. This eres their bleedin private lane, as yer might say. [Bitterly.] Were trespassers ere. Proletarians keep orf the grass!
YANK[Dully.] I dont see no grass, yuh boob. [Staring at the sidewalk.] Clean, aint it? Yuh could eat a fried egg offen it. The white wings got some job sweepin dis up. [Looking up and down the avenuesurlily.] Wheres all de white-collar stiffs yuh said was hereand de skoitsher kind?
YANKChoich, huh? I useter go to choich onctsurewhen I was a kid. Me old man and woman, dey made me. Dey never went demselves, dough. Always got too big a head on Sunday mornin, dat was dem. [With a grin.] Dey was scrappers for fair, bot of dem. On Satiday nights when dey bot got a skinful dey could put up a bout oughter been staged at de Garden. When dey got trough dere wasnt a chair or table wit a leg under it. Or else dey bot jumped on me for somepn. Dat was where I loined to take punishment. [With a grin and a swagger.] Im a chip offen de old block, get me?
YANKNaw. Worked along shore. I runned away when me old lady croaked wit de tremens. I helped at truckin and in de market. Den I shipped in de stokehole. Sure. Dat belongs. De rest was nothin. [Looking around him.] I aint never seen dis before. De Brooklyn waterfront, dat was where I was dragged up. [Taking a deep breath.] Dis aint so bad at dat, huh?
YANK[With sudden angry disgust.] Aw, hell! I dont see noone, seelike her. All dis gives me a pain. It dont belong. Say, aint dere a backroom around dis dump? Lets go shoot a ball. All dis is too clean and quiet and dolled-up, get me! It gives me a pain.
YANK[Vehemently.] Sure ting I do! Didnt I try to git even wit her in Southampton? Didnt I sneak on de dock and wait for her by de gangplank? I was goin to spit in her pale mug, see! Sure, right in her pop-eyes! Dat woulda made me even, see? But no chanct. Dere was a whole army of plain clothes bulls around. Dey spotted me and gimme de bums rush. I never seen her. But Ill git square wit her yet, you watch! [Furiously.] De lousey tart! She tinks she kin get away wit moiderbut not wit me! Ill fix her! Ill tink of a way!
LONG[As disgusted as he dares to be.] Aint that why I brought yer up ereto show yer? Yer been lookin at this ere ole affair wrong. Yer been actin an talkin s if it was all a bleedin personal matter between yer and that bloody cow. I wants to convince yer she was ony a representative of er clarss. I wants to awaken yer bloody clarss consciousness. Then yerll see its er clarss yerve got to fight, not er alone. Theres a ole mob of em like er, Gawd blind em!
LONGYerll see em in arf a mo, when that church lets out. [He turns and sees the window display in the two stores for the first time.] Blimey! Look at that, will yer? [They both walk back and stand looking in the jewelers. LONG flies into a fury.] Just look at this ere bloomin mess! Just look at it! Look at the bleedin prices on emmoren our old bloody stokehole makes in ten voyages sweatin in ell! And theyher and her bloody clarssbuys em for toys to dangle on em! One of these ere would buy scoff for a starvin family for a year!
YANKAw, cut de sob stuff! T hell wit de starvin family! Yuhll be passin de hat to me next. [With naïve admiration.] Say, dem tings is pretty, huh? Bet yuh deyd hock for a piece of change aw right. [Then turning away, bored.] But, aw hell, what good are dey? Let her have em. Dey dont belong no moren she does. [With a gesture of sweeping the jewelers into oblivion.] All dat dont count, get me?
YANK[Who has been staring at something insidewith queer excitement.] Take a slant at dat! Give it de once-over! Monkey furtwo tousand bucks! [Bewilderedly.] Is dat straight goodsmonkey fur? What de hell?
LONG[Excitedly.] Church is out. Ere they come, the bleedin swine. [After a glance at YANKS lowering faceuneasily.] Easy goes, Comrade. Keep yer bloomin temper. Remember force defeats itself. It aint our weapon. We must impress our demands through peaceful meansthe votes of the on-marching proletarians of the bloody world!
YANK[Angrily.] Git away from me! Yuhre yellow, dats what. Force, dats me! De punch, dats me every time, see! [The crowd from church enter from the right, sauntering slowly and affectedly, their heads held stiffly up, looking neither to right nor left, talking in toneless, simpering voices. The women are rouged, calcimined, dyed, overdressed to the nth degree. The men are in Prince Alberts, high hats, spats, canes, etc. A procession of gaudy marionettes, yet with something of the relentless horror of Frankensteins in their detached, mechanical unawareness.]
YANK[Glaring from one to the other of themwith an insulting snort of scorn.] Huh! Huh! [Without seeming to see him, they make wide detours to avoid the spot where he stands in the middle of the sidewalk.]
YANK[Viciously.] Gwan! Tell it to Sweeney! [He swaggers away and deliberately lurches into a top-hatted gentleman, then glares at him pugnaciously.] Say, who dyuh tink yuhre bumpin? Tink yuh own de oith?
YANKT hell wit youse! [He approaches a ladywith a vicious grin and a smirking wink.] Hello, Kiddo. Hows every little ting? Got anyting on for to-night? I know an old boiler down to de docks we kin crawl into. [The lady stalks by without a look, without a change of pace. YANK turns to othersinsultingly.] Holy smokes, what a mug! Go hide yuhself before de horses shy at yuh. Gee, pipe de heinie on dat one! Say, youse, yuh look like de stoin of a ferryboat. Paint and powder! All dolled up to kill! Yuh look like stiffs laid out for de boneyard! Aw, gwan, de lot of youse! Yuh give me de eye-ache. Yuh dont belong, get me! Look at me, why dont youse dare? I belong, dats me! [Pointing to a skyscraper across the street which is in process of constructionwith bravado.] See dat building goin up dere? See de steel work? Steel, dats me! Youse guys live on it and tink yuhre somepn. But Im in it, see! Im de hoistin engine dat makes it go up! Im itde inside and bottom of it! Sure! Im steel and steam and smoke and de rest of it! It movesspeedtwenty-five stories upand me at de top and bottommovin! Youse simps dont move. Yuhre ony dolls I winds up to seem spin. Yuhre de garbage, get mede leavinsde ashes we dump over de side! Now, whata yuh gotto say? [But as they seem neither to see nor hear him, he flies into a fury.] Bums! Pigs! Tarts! Bitches! [He turns in a rage on the men, bumping viciously into them but not jarring them the least bit. Rather it is he who recoils after each collision. He keeps growling.] Git off de oith! Gwan, yuh bum! Look where yuhre goin, cant yuh? Git outa here! Fight, why dont yuh? Put up yer mits! Dont be a dog! Fight or Ill knock yuh dead! [But, without seeming to see him, they all answer with mechanical affected politeness:] I beg your pardon. [Then at a cry from one of the women, they all scurry to the furriers window.]
YANK[With a jerk of his head back on his shoulders, as if he had received a punch full in the faceraging.] I see yuh, all in white! I see yuh, yuh white-faced tart, yuh! Hairy ape, huh? Ill hairy ape yuh! [He bends down and grips at the street curbing as if to pluck it out and hurl it. Foiled in this, snarling with passion, he leaps to the lamp-post on the corner and tries to pull it up for a club. Just at that moment a bus is heard rumbling up. A fat, high-hatted, spatted gentleman runs out from the side street. He calls out plaintively: Bus! Bus! Stop there! and runs full tilt into the bending, straining YANK, who is bowled off his balance.]
YANK[Seeing a fightwith a roar of joy as he springs to his feet.] At last! Bus, huh? Ill bust yuh! [He lets drive a terrific swing, his fist landing full on the fat gentlemans face. But the gentleman stands unmoved as if nothing had happened.]
GENTLEMANI beg your pardon. [Then irritably.] You have made me lose my bus. [He claps his hands and begins to scream:] Officer! Officer! [Many police whistles shrill out on the instant and a whole platoon of policemen rush in on YANK from all sides. He tries to fight but is clubbed to the pavement and fallen upon. The crowd at the window have not moved or noticed this disturbance. The clanging gong of the patrol wagon approaches with a clamoring din.]