Jack Throws Mary's Lamaze Book Off of His Balcony
(May 1977)

(Jack is sitting on his balcony, typing, when Mary comes up behind him in the doorway carrying a pastry box.)


JACK: (turning around, surprised) Hi.

MARY: (pointing to the box) Cannolis. Got time for coffee?

JACK: I...I...I'm kind of involved.

MARY: Well, if you'd like, the cannoli fairy will just leave them here and tiptoe away.

JACK: It must be kind of difficult to tiptoe in...your condition.

MARY: Precarious, for both of us: If I fell forward, I'd never stop rocking.

JACK: (laughs) You'd better stay then.

MARY: Good, cause the coffee's already on.

JACK: How'd you manage that?

MARY: Oh, I've been here awhile. Obviously, you haven't lost the art of tuning me out.

JACK: I'll just let that one pass me right by!

(She goes to get the coffee, singing to herself, and Jack looks annoyed and pleased at the same time.)

MARY: (carrying a tray) I even brought along some lemon peel. Mmm...are you at a good stopping place?

JACK: The best stopping place is the middle of a sentence.

MARY: I remember. That was Hemingway's idea.

JACK: We both thought of it, independently.

MARY: (laughs) It makes sense, whoever thought it up. You don't have to go chasing after your train of thought. You just look at what you started and pick up, right where you left off.

(She hands him a cup.)

MARY: Lemon, no sugar. Ahhh...it's a lot like last year. Sunshine, springtime...cannoli?

JACK: Coffee.

MARY: It's okay, isn't it?

JACK: Mmm...you know, I always said, for an Irish person, Mary Ryan makes a damn good cup of espresso.

MARY: Fenelli! That's the name.

(Jack does not respond. Mary gets up and looks down from the balcony.)

MARY: Oh, Jack!

JACK: (terrified) What, what is it?

MARY: (laughing) Oh, no, no, no! Not yet! It's there...that lady, the roof card lady (points) over on Barrow Street. Oh, that is absolutely amazing! Look at what she's got blooming out there!

JACK: Is she talking to them again?

MARY: A very animated conversation, only there's nobody there but the plants and the flowers. Poor thing, she must be terribly lonely.

JACK: Maybe it suits her.

MARY: I doubt it. Oh, I know, I know, lots of people like to be alone sometimes. That's different from being lonely.

JACK: Well, maybe you could chuck her a cannoli and tuck a message in it, hmm?

MARY: Oh, too late, she's gone inside.

(He smiles.)

MARY: I haven't seen that in such a long time.

JACK: What?

MARY: Your smile.

JACK: Even social misfits get spring fever.

MARY: You know, maybe I'm prejudiced, but I honestly like springtime in the city best.

JACK: Well, sure, anybody can go out into the country and sniff apple blossoms first hand. That's easy. Here, you have to work at it. A day like this, anything's possible.

MARY: Jack, I dare you to say you're not enjoying yourself. I dare you to say you didn't want me to leave yesterday any more than I wanted to go. And I dare you to tell me that sharing this isn't better than being here alone.

JACK: I never said I didn't like your company.

MARY: More coffee?

JACK: Mmm-hmm.

(She pours some.)

JACK: Are you gonna miss that? The built in tv table?

MARY: (laughs) Actually, it's a little dangerous. If your daughter gives a little kick, it's goodbye espresso.

JACK: It's a girl, hah?

MARY: Ma and I both think so.

JACK: How can you tell?

MARY: Oh, lots of very scientific ways. Like, you take your wedding band and you hold it on a piece of thread over the baby. If it moves one way it's a boy and another it's a girl.

(Jack rolls his eyes and laughs.)

MARY: Or, Ma says it's the way I'm carrying her. All in front, instead of all around.

JACK: Mary Ryan Fenelli, teller of old wives' tales.

MARY: Babies - they do somethin' to your head.

JACK: I know.

MARY: Okay, all that's really silly, honey, but there's a lot of serious stuff maybe you ought to know about.

JACK: No, no, no, Mary.

MARY: Look, this is just in case. I mean, it's not to be construed as pressure in any way. I know how you feel, you've told me often enough. But I honestly think when the time comes, you may react differently than you think.

JACK: Why do you want to set yourself up for another disappointment? I've told you, I don't want...

MARY: Okay, okay, but would you do one thing for me? One small thing, just in case?

JACK: Probably not. What?

MARY: (takes a book out of bag) Read through this, Lamaze and Natural Childbirth. You've missed all the classes. If you should decide to change your mind - and, honey, I hope you will - at least you'll have some idea of what's happening.

JACK: I know where babies come from Mary and, I told you, I don't want to be an eyewitness.

MARY: Oh, Jack, please, couldn't you at least look at it?

JACK: What the hell do I have to do to convince you? (takes the book) I don't want your damn book! I don't want the baby! Dammit, no!

(He gets up and flings the book off the balcony, then walks inside. Mary is stunned.)

MARY: You nitwit! You could have killed somebody!

JACK: (screaming, from the inside) Did I?

MARY: (looking over the edge) I don't see any crowds gathering, but you were just lucky!

(She goes inside.)

MARY: Fenelli, what the hell's the matter with you?

JACK: Okay, okay, it was a dumb thing to do! I'm just mad, that's all.

MARY: Oh, I see, you were angry! Your wife made a simple little suggestion that didn't fit in with your plans for the day!

JACK: Suggestion? That was no suggestion! That was another less-than-subtle demand!

MARY: Didn't I specifically say I wasn't pressuring you?

JACK: Saying doesn't make it so, Mary! It sure felt like pressure to me - the sweet kind, the manipulative kind, the kind that you're very good at!

MARY: We were sitting there, sharing, having a lovely time together. It was like last year, when we were just starting out.

JACK: Last year you wanted more, only I don't have more to give, Mary! You know that, now, don't try and test it! I knew it then, too, only I made a big mistake. I let you convince me I could be what you wanted!

MARY: You are what I want now. You always will be! I never asked you to change, Jack, only to share yourself with me.

JACK: Mmm-hmm, and with who else? Your mother? "Da"? Frank? Pat? Kathleen? Siobhan? The baby I don't want? Then share some more, huh? More babies, all of them Ryans? Look, we've been through all of this before. I don't want to hurt you anymore! Why do you keep bringing it up?

MARY: Because you can share! You just did, for the whole afternoon!

JACK: That was another big mistake. Sure, I loved it. Sitting out there in the sun with you almost made me forget what would come next, but you reminded me, quick enough! A couple of cups of coffee, next step, natural childbirth!

MARY: (appalled) I asked you to read a book!

JACK: Just in case! Just in case when you call me up and say, "Jack, I'm having your baby," I'll have the strength of character to high-tail it up to Riverside Hospital and help you breathe until the kid pops out!

MARY: (angry) Don't you do that!

JACK: Why not? That's what I am, aren't I? Cynic, loner, misfit? That's what you told me plenty of times, early enough! Only problem is, you can't face the fact that you can't revise my character!

MARY: Oh, "That's the way I am!" No it's not! You're not mean, you're not cruel, you're just scared! Why can't you realize that the worst part of it is over? We have a chance to have it all again! All our happiness, all our loving, only with more added to it!

JACK: Mary, that surgery may have restored my sexual competence, but it wasn't a personality transplant! They don't know how to do that yet - make husbands and fathers out of guys who aren't willing or able!

MARY: But you are. I know you are!

JACK: (whispers) Mary Ryan knows. (louder) Mary Ryan knows. (yells) Well Mary Ryan's wrong! She always was! I know myself! I know my limits! And I'm not gonna get into something that's only gonna bring more disaster! We've both had plenty of that! So, why don't you save your energies to raise the baby, cause I can't help you!

MARY: You mean you won't!

JACK: (calmly) What I mean is, I don't want to help you, Mary. You can leave now. I want you and Johnny Ryan's grandchild to get out of here and leave me alone.

MARY: You'd better be careful, Fenelli, cause you've just about convinced me you mean that.

(She walks out the door, and Jack looks really scared.)

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