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David Butler, He said / She said


Written by: David Butler


A table in a university canteen. DANNY (20s) seated, a burger on tray before him. EMER (20s) approaches, with tray on which a salad bowl.


EMER                         Hey mister, ya mind if I sit here?

DANNY                      Emer! Jesus! (Beat) What, they don’t have a canteen in the Science block anymore?

EMER                        They do, babes. But they use engine oil to cook in. (She sits. Beat.) How’s your burger?

DANNY                      You’re not about to give me another spiel about meat is murder! You needn’t be worried.                                       I swear, there’d be more meat in a plywood sandwich. (Beat) How’s your rabbit food?

EMER                         Meh… A plywood sandwich begins to sound tempting.

DANNY                      Seriously, what has you in the Arts block?

EMER                         Variety, babes. You know me.

DANNY                      Ofan old day. You’ve changed. (Beat) New haircut?

EMER                         Ten out of ten! Veerry observant. You look…what’s the word?

DANNY                      Phhhh! Like a bag of shit?

EMER                        Now you mention it… Maybe you’re eating too much plywood.

DANNY                      Hunh! How’s the studies?

EMER                         Don’t ask. Fucking electronics, I swear to God!

DANNY                     That good, yeah?

EMER                        So every year, (right?), Dee scraped through. I mean scraped. Every year she’d to repeat                                         electronics in the autumn. I can’t get my head round the fucker either. And now Charlie’s                                     as bad. Reckons he’ll have to repeat it this time round.

DANNY                      So your contention is, bad wiring runs in the Foley family?

EMER                        The Foleys are genetically unfit to cope with electronics. That’s my contention. (Beat)                                           How’s you?

DANNY                      Hunh! Can we go back to talking about your rabbit food?

EMER                        Pesky wabbit!

DANNY                      Ged away fwom my caw wots

EMER                        Ha! (Trying to sound casual.) How’s Debs?

DANNY                      Ah!

EMER                         What?

DANNY                      I’d a feeling we weren’t here to talk about my studies.

EMER                         (Pause) So? How is she?

DANNY                      Debbie? (Beat) How would you imagine she is?

EMER                         Look.I know she… went. (Looks around.)To the Rape Crisis Centre.

DANNY                      Yeah?

EMER                         Charlie told me.

DANNY                      I see.

EMER                        Danny. I don’t know what Debs has told you… (Beat) Look, how is she? I mean, has she                                         said anything?

DANNY                      About…?

EMER                         Danny, it wasn’t rape.

DANNY                      Oh.

EMER                         I was there. Earlier on, I was there. She was well out of it.

DANNY                      Out of it?

EMER                        Off her fucking… Drunk.High. You know how she gets.

DANNY                      I’ll tell you what I know. What she knows. (Looks about, then leans forward.)When she                                           woke up next morning, she’d no clothes on her. Not a stitch. Whoever had put her to bed                                     had…had thoughtfully helped her out of them. (Beat) Then she found her tampon.                                                 Tossed  in a corner, it was.

EMER                         Gross!

DANNY                      Yeah! Gross. She’s hazy about a lot of the night, but it was your baby brother put her to                                          bed. That much she remembers. Being lugged up the stairs by him.(Quieter.) Other bits,                                      too.

EMER                        Ok. So why didn’t he put her into his bed. If he was planning to…you know. Why did he                                           put her in the spare room, under all the coats, where anyone might walk in?

DANNY                      I don’t know what was going through his mind.

         EMER sets her cutlery down and pushes the barely tasted bowl to one side.

EMER                        Dan. Listen to me. Charlie’s not the type.

DANNY                     The type?

EMER                        He wouldn’t do anything like that. (Tense pause.) He says she was all over him, actually.

DANNY                      Right!

EMER                        You need to take her down off that pedestal, babes.

DANNY                      Correction. What Charlie Foley said was that nothing had happened. Nada! It was only                                          after he heard she’d been swabbed that he admitted anything happened between them.

EMER                         (Beat) That still doesn’t make it rape.

DANNY                      So what would you call it?

EMER                         Did Debbie say she tried to resist?

DANNY                      She was hardly in any condition to consent, Emer.

EMER                         Ok. You know what I think happened? (Beat) You’ve…never done anything you’re                                                    ashamed of?  Woke up and thought ‘Oh, holy fuck!’

DANNY                      I’ve never woken up and thought ‘Oh holy fuck I’ve raped someone,’ no.

EMER                        That’s not what I’m asking.

DANNY                      What are you asking?

EMER                        I think your pal Debbie woke up and thought ‘Ah Christ, here we go again.’ Cos people                                           were in and out of that room all night.Getting their coats. (Beat) I hate to tell you babes,                                       cos I know how much you like her. But Debbie Delaney’s fast getting the reputation as                                         the college skank.

DANNY                      (coldly) I’m not seeing your point.

EMER                        For all she knows, there could be photos on everyone’s phone. She needs to cover her                                           arse.

DANNY                      So she…what? Makes up this cock-and-bull story about your brother?Kind a far fetched,                                        wouldn’t you say?

EMER                        Yeah? (Beat) Ok. The night we got together.

DANNY                      What about it?

EMER                         What do you remember about it?

DANNY                      I was amazed it had happened at all, is what I remember. To be honest, it came as much                                     less of a shock when you dumped me three weeks on.

EMER                        I didn’t dump you.

DANNY                      No? What did you do?

EMER                        I broke up with you.

DANNY                      Semantics.

EMER                        I broke up with you when it was obvious you were in denial about your feelings for your                                         pal, Debs.

DANNY                      My pal, Debs. You said it yourself.

EMER                        I don’t buy that. Friendship, when the two of you are like Tweedledum and fuckin’…But                                           that’s not my point. My point is, what do you remember about that actual first night?

DANNY                      It was the Halloween ball.

EMER                        Yeah. And?

DANNY                      We were both wankered. (Beat) We went back to mine.

EMER                         Then?

DANNY                      We got it on.

EMER                        Ok. Did you ask?

DANNY                      Ask?

EMER                        (Glances about.Intense.)Did you explicitly ask did I want to have sex with ya?

DANNY                      What is this? We went out! Three weeks, we were together…

EMER                         But that first night… did you ask?

DANNY                      So what are you saying, Emer? Now I raped you?

EMER                         I’m just trying to show you babes. How easy it is to cross a line.

DANNY                      (Pause. Pushes aside unfinished burger.) Why are you here, Emer? Why did you come                                            here?

EMER                         I want you to…talk to her. She’ll listen to you.

DANNY                      And tell her what, exactly?

EMER                         Tell her not to press charges.

DANNY                      It’s not up to her to press charges. It’d be up to the DPP to press charges. If they think                                          there’s a case. (Beat) She’d be a witness.

EMER                        Whatever! Jesus! (Beat) I mean,does she really want to put herself through all that?                                               Besides which, the DPP would tell her, the whole thing is a load of my arse.

DANNY                      No it’s not, Emer.

EMER                         You were there?

DANNY                      I know Debbie.

EMER                         And I know my brother.

DANNY                      So where does that leave us?

EMER                        That night we got together, yeah? Ok. We’re in bed, together. The room’s spinning. First                                         time, I didn’t pull your hand away. I give you that. I let you…you know. Turn me on. But the                                     second time? Dan, I woke to find you at it again!

DANNY                      You didn’t object.

EMER                         I was asleep.

DANNY                      Only to begin with.

EMER                        And that’s ok, is it?

DANNY                      But after. You didn’t object after.

EMER                         I’m objecting now.

DANNY                      Emer. That was six months ago.

EMER                        And? There’s no statute of limitations if it’s sex.

DANNY                      So what are you saying? I tell Debs to drop the whole thing or you’ll go the cops, is that                                        it?

EMER                        No! Jesus! What I am saying, things happen. Between people. (Beat) I’m not going to                                           the  guards, Danny. Or the Rape Crisis Centre for that matter. It never entered my head                                         to, to be honest. But saying I did go, think what a hell your life would be.

DANNY                      It still sounds like a threat to me.

EMER                         Sorry if you take it that way.

DANNY                      How d’you expect me to take it?

                DANNY rises energetically, scraping the chair backwards.

DANNY                      This is bullshit, Emer. And you know it.

EMER                         You’re going?

DANNY                      (Picking up tray.) Lecture.

EMER                         Really?

DANNY                      We still have lectures. In the Arts block.

EMER                        Right. (Beat) Look, Dan. Talk to her, would you do that? (Their eyes meet for a long                                                 moment.) For me, babes.

DANNY                      And say…?

EMER                        Just talk to her.

DANNY                      (shakes his head) Hunh!

         DANNY walks away. EMER watches him go, then takes out mobile and begins to type message. She                     doesn’t see that DANNY has returned until he is at the table.

DANNY                      Ok.

EMER                        (Long pause, suspicious.) You will?

DANNY                      I said ok.

EMER                        Hey! Thanks.

DANNY                      Yeah.

EMER                         Thanks, Danny. I mean it.

DANNY                      I know you do. (Beat. He begins to go.) See you round, Emer.

                   DANNY exits. EMER remains seated. EMER stares at mobile, shivers involuntarily, and putting it                             away, she slumps as though in defeat.

Slow Fade

David Butler is a multi-award winning novelist, poet, short-story writer and playwright. The most recent of his three published novels, City of Dis (New Island) was shortlisted for the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year, 2015. His second poetry collection, All the Barbaric Glass, was published in 2017 by Doire Press. His 11 poem cycle ‘Blackrock Sequence’, a Per Cent Literary Arts Commission illustrated by his brother Jim, won the World Illustrators Award 2018 (books, professional section). Arlen House is to bring out his second short story collection, Fugitive, in 2020. Literary prizes include the Maria Edgeworth (twice), ITT/Red Line and Fish International Award for the short story; the Scottish Community Drama, Cork Arts Theatre and British Theatre Challenge awards; and the Féile Filíochta, Ted McNulty, Brendan Kennelly and Poetry Ireland/Trocaire awards for poetry. His radio play ‘Vigil’ was shortlisted for a ZeBBie 2018. David tutors regularly at the Irish Writers Centre.

Read in Serbian HERE.

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