Father McShane Helps Mary Block Jack's Annulment
(March 1977)

(Mary comes into Father McShane's office.)

MARY: Hi, Father!

Fr. McSHANE: Aaah, Mary!

(They hug and he kisses her cheek.)

Fr. McSHANE: Thank you for making time for me this morning. How are you?

MARY: (shrugs) I'm doing pretty well, thanks, but very curious.

Fr. McSHANE: Sit down. (she sits) I've had a letter from the chancery about the annulment proceedings and, heaven help us both, I've come up with a plan that can only be described as devious.

MARY: You never had a devious thought in your life!

Fr. McSHANE: I surprised myself. Now, this is predicated on the idea that you're still opposed to an annulment and divorce. Is that the case?

MARY: Yes.

Fr. McSHANE: But Jack's going ahead anyway?

MARY: (clutching her head in frustration) Yes.

Fr. McSHANE: He has shown no signs of changing his mind?

MARY: He thinks he's gonna drag it out and wear me down until I don't care anymore, until I'm so sick of the whole thing I give him divorce and the tribunal grants an annulment. And until the other day I had hoped it would backfire.

Fr. McSHANE: How do you mean?

MARY: I was so sure that I could hold out longer than he could. Maybe he'd begin to miss me enough so that he'd have second thoughts.

Fr. McSHANE: You've changed your mind?

MARY: Father Richards asked us both to write an essay about the marriage.

Fr. McSHANE: Right.

MARY: And I delivered mine to the chancery and ran into Jack, and we both had to wait together for a few minutes. I made the mistake of conning him into letting me read what he'd written.

Fr. McSHANE: And?

MARY: It wasn't true! Jack's fanatical about the truth, father. For him to misrepresent anything - especially feelings we both share which were so important to us both - means the guy's really desperate, in a way I can't begin to understand.

Fr. McSHANE: Mary, what if we could put a stop to everything for a while, so that Jack had a chance to get away from it, so he had time to stop and think what he's doing? Would that help?

MARY: Well, it might. If we could just wait until the baby's born, so he can see his own child, hold it, find out what it feels like to him.

Fr. McSHANE: One more question: How much of Jack's problem stems from his physical problem?

MARY: Oh, much more than he'll admit! I think he's so afraid that we'll never make love again that he can't even bring himself to think about the surgery.

Fr. McSHANE: In case it's unsuccessful?

MARY: Yeah. What are you getting at?

Fr. McSHANE: I have a letter from the chancery, asking for my analysis of the marriage and so forth. Father Richards indicated that this is one of the final pieces of documentation required.

MARY: Yeah.

Fr. McSHANE: What if I refuse to supply it until Jack's undergone surgery?

MARY: Oh, Father...

Fr. McSHANE: Now, I have moral grounds for my refusal: Jack promised me he'd consult a specialist before he undertook the annulment, and he didn't do it.

MARY: But I don't think he's ready for surgery yet.

Fr. McSHANE: (grins) Exactly! And by the time he is, and has seen a doctor, and made the arrangements, and had the surgery, and recovered, the baby will be here. And, even then, it might take me a while to marshal my thoughts on the matter.

MARY: (smiling) Oh, Father, that's terrific! That's incredible! That's the most wonderful idea!

Fr. McSHANE: (laughing) I thought it was pretty good myself.

MARY: Thank you!

Fr. McSHANE: You are welcome. Shall we give him a call?

MARY: I'll dial it for you.

(She dials the number, and Jack, who is in the middle of a visit from Maeve, answers.)

JACK: Fenelli.

Fr. McSHANE: Jack, Father McShane. How are you?

JACK: Fine, Father, and you?

(Maeve starts listening to Jack's end of the conversation when she hears who it is.)

Fr. McSHANE: Somewhat regretful that I have to make this call. But I think it's only fair to let you know what's going to happen.

(Mary and Father McShane have their heads together, so they can both hear Jack, as if they were making a crank phone call.)

Fr. McSHANE: I have a letter here from Father Richards, requesting my analysis and opinion regarding your marriage and the annulment.

JACK: Mmm-hmm, Father Richards mentioned that.

Fr. McSHANE: I'm sorry to say I can't provide it, Jack. (Jack's face drops) Which means, of course, the annulment proceedings will come to an abrupt halt.

JACK: Why? I mean, why won't you give it to me?

Fr. McSHANE: How shall I explain? You made me a promise, and I am not inclined to do any favors for you til you've kept your word! Quid pro quo! (whispers to Mary) And all of that.

JACK: What promise?

Fr. McSHANE: You agreed to consult a specialist about your condition before you sought an annulment, and I'm afraid I just can't join in that annulment until you've done what you promised to do. It's as simple as that. As a matter of fact, I don't think I can get a statement together until you've actually undergone surgery.

JACK: That's blackmail!

Fr.McSHANE: Possibly.

JACK: Did Mary put you up to this?

MARY: (whispering, putting her hand over the receiver) Tell him it was all your idea!

JACK: Is she there with you?

(Mary laughs.)

Fr. McSHANE: Why, yes she is.

JACK: (seething, while Maeve looks on, trying to keep from grinning) You just tell her to stay put! I'll be at your office in thirty minutes! You're meddling, Father! Now, you've got a moral obligation to provide whatever information the chancery asks you to give! Now, you and Mary can't sit up there and try to block a legitimate annulment!

Fr. McSHANE: Jack? Jack? Save it, til we see you. Goodbye!

(They hang up on Jack.)

JACK: (to Maeve) Now Mary's got Father McShane wrapped around her little finger! Yeah, well they think they're gonna put me in a hospital and that's gonna delay the annulment, hah? (trying to find his shoes and socks) Well, let me tell you: Nothing - I mean nothing - is gonna make me back off now!

(He crouches onto the floor and finds one shoe, then looks for the other one, which Maeve finds and throws to him.)

MAEVE: Jack, you know, if you think you're gonna go charging up there, strong-arming Father McShane, you've got another thing coming.

JACK: Yeah? Yeah, well, we'll see about that!

MAEVE: God help you.

(He finishes putting his shoes on and, in the next scene, storms into Father McShane's office, where Mary and Father McShane are still sitting.)

JACK: In civil court, this is collusion and obstruction of justice. Now, ecclesiastically speaking, I don't know what you call it, but you're not gonna get away with it!

Fr. McSHANE: I'm glad you have such a clear picture of what I may and may not do. Sit down, Jack!

JACK: I don't feel like sitting down, Father.

MARY: Oh, come in and behave yourself, Fenelli. You're not on the docks.

JACK: You ain't kidding! I'm in the subject of a couple of extortionists.

Fr. McSHANE: Could I be wrong, or did you or did you not promise me that you would consult a specialist about his opinion on your physical condition before you did anything about an annulment?

JACK: I'm not sure what I said.

Fr. McSHANE: Really?

JACK: Alright, alright, I said it and I probably meant it at the time. But...

Fr. McSHANE: But, you didn't do it.

JACK: My physical condition - as we so delicately refer to it - has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the annulment proceedings!

Fr. McSHANE: Possibly. The connection may be only in my fevered brain. But, the fact is, I'm not going to send the chancery my report until you've had surgery.

JACK: You have to comply with the request from the chancery.

Fr. McSHANE: It was a request, not a directive.

JACK: I'm gonna call Father Richards. (picks up the phone)

Fr. McSHANE: Please do, but if you're expecting him to set up an inquisition just for me, you'll be disappointed.

JACK: Don't tell me Mary didn't put you up to this.

MARY: (shrugs and smiles) Sorry, sweetness.

JACK: (fuming) Alright, alright, alright, with Mary as your witness here, I have your promise that if I find a specialist, go through with the bypass operation, you'll hand in your report to the chancery? Furthermore, it will be an honest report, no tricks, no Mary Ryan propaganda?

(Mary looks as though she doesn't know what he's talking about.)

Fr. McSHANE: I'll describe the situation and the marriage honestly, as I understand it.

JACK: Mmm-hmm, twenty-four hours after the surgery?

Fr. McSHANE: After you're released from the hospital.

JACK: Nah-ah!

(Father McShane shakes his head.)

JACK: Okay, twenty-four hours after I'm released from the hospital! But you'll hand-deliver the report to Father Richards!

Fr. McSHANE: (nods) Agreed.

JACK: Okay, okay, you'd better start preparing your report, Father, because I'm going around the corner to make the arrangements to enter Riverside Hospital.

MARY: (stunned) Jack, you can't!

JACK: Yeah?

MARY: Honey, it's too soon!

JACK: Oh, now we're Expert Specialist Dr. Mary Ryan!

MARY: But Alex said at least six months!

JACK: Well, it's been six months, and Alex is gone! And it's about time to consult a new specialist, and if I can't find one at Riverside, I'm sure that somewhere, somehow, there's a vascular expert who will do the job! Hah?

MARY: Oh honey, that's taking such a chance!

JACK: Well, under the circumstances, Mary, I don't have much choice, because I'm not gonna lay off the annulment and I'm not gonna delay the annulment and, until you accept that fact, it's gonna be difficult for all of us!

(Jack storms out of the office, and Mary and Father McShane look at each other with dread.)

More Scene Transcripts

Back to Ryan's Bar Online