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 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.
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?
EMER Danny, it wasn’t rape.
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.
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.
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.
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.
DANNY We got it on.
EMER Ok. Did you 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.
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.
EMER (Long pause, suspicious.) You will?
DANNY I said ok.
EMER Hey! Thanks.
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.
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. https://davidbutlerauthor.wordpress.com/
Read in Serbian HERE.