“Talk To Me Like the Rain … And Let Me Listen” (Tennessee Williams)
MAN. Can you talk to me, honey? Can you talk to me, now?
MAN. Well, talk to me like the rain and — let me listen, let me lie here and — listen … [He falls back across the bed, rolls on his belly, one arm hanging over the side of the bed and occasionally drumming the floor with his knuckles. The mandolin continues] It’s been too long a time since — we levelled with each other. Now tell me things: What have you been thinking in the silence? — While I’ve been passed around like a dirty postcard in the city … Tell me, talk to me! Talk to me like the rain and I will lie here and listen.
WOMAN. I –
MAN. You’ve got to, it’s necessary! I’ve got to know, so talk to me like the rain and I will lie here and listen, I will lie here and –
WOMAN. I want to go away.
MAN. You do?
WOMAN. I want to go away!
WOMAN. Alone! [She returns to window] I’ll register under a made-up name at a little hotel on the coast …
MAN. What name?
WOMAN. Anna — Jones … The chambermaid will be a little old lady who has a grandson that she talks about … I’ll sit in the chair while the old lady makes the bed, my arms will hang over the — sides, and — her voice will be — peaceful … She’ll tell me what her grandson had for supper! — tapioca and — cream … [The Woman sits by the window and sips the water] — The room will be shadowy, cool, and filled with the murmur of –
WOMAN. Yes. Rain.
WOMAN. Anxiety will — pass — over!
MAN. Yes …
WOMAN. After a while the little old woman will say, Your bed is made up, Miss, and I’ll say — Thank you … Take a dollar out of my pocketbook. The door will close. And I’ll be alone again. The windows will be tall with long blue shutters and it will be a season of rain — rain — rain … My life will be like the room, cool — shadowy cool and — filled with the murmur of –
WOMAN. I will receive a check in the mail every week that I can count on. The little old lady will cash the checks for me and get me books from a library and pick up — laundry … I’ll always have clean things! — I’ll dress in white. I’ll never be very strong or have much energy left, but have enough after a while to walk on the — esplanade — to walk on the beach without effort … In the evening I’ll walk on the esplanade along the beach. I’ll have a certain beach where I go to sit, a little way from the pavillion where the band plays Victor Herberg selections while it gets dark … I’ll have a big room with shutters on the windows. There will be a season of rain, rain, rain. And I will be so exhausted after my life in the city that I won’t mind just listening to the rain. I’ll be so quiet. The lines will disappear from my face. My eyes won’t be inflamed at all any more. I’ll have no friends. I’ll have no acquaintances even. When I get sleepy, I’ll walk slowly back to the little hotel. The clerk will say, Good evening, Miss Jones, and I’ll just barely smile and take my key. I won’t ever look at a newspaper or hear a radio; I won’t have any idea what’s going on in the world. I will not be conscious of time passing at all … One day I will look in the mirror and I will see that my hair is beginning to turn grey and for the first time I will realize that I have been living in this little hotel under a made-up name without any friends or acquaintances or any kind of connections for twenty-five years. It will surprise me a little bit but it won’t bother me any. I will be glad that time has passed as easily as that. Once in a while I may go out to the movies. I will sit in the back row with all that darkness around me and figures sitting motionless on each side not conscious of me. Watching the screen. Imaginary people. People in stories. I will read long books and the journals of dead writers. I will feel closer to them than I ever felt to people I used to know before I withdrew from the world. It will be sweet and cool this friendship of mine with dead poets, for I won’t have to touch them or answer their questions. They will talk to me and not expect me to answer. And I’ll get sleepy listening to their voices explaining the mysteries to me. I’ll fall asleep with the book still in my fingers, and it will rain. I’ll wake up and hear the rain and go back to sleep. A season of rain, rain, rain … Then one day, when I have closed a book or come home alone from the movies at eleven o’clock at night — I will look in the mirror and see that my hair has turned white. White, absolutely white. As white as the foam on the waves. [She gets up and moves about the room as she continues] I’ll run my hands down my body and feel how amazingly light and thin I have grown. Oh, my, how thin I will be. Almost transparent. Not hardly real any more. Then I will realize, I will know, sort of dimly, that I have been staying on here in this little hotel, without any — social connections, responsibilities, anxieties or disturbances of any kind — for just about fifty years. Half a century. Practically a lifetime. I won’t even remember the names of the people I knew before I came here nor how it feels to be someone waiting for someone that — may not come … Then I will know — looking in the mirror — the first time has come for me to walk out alone once more on the esplanade with the strong wind beating on me, the white clean wind that blows from the edge of the world, from even further than that, from the cool outer edges of space, from even beyond whatever there is beyond the edges of space … [She sits down again unsteadily by the window] — Then I’ll go out and walk on the esplanade. I’ll walk alone and be blown thinner and thinner.
MAN. Baby. Come back to bed.
WOMAN. And thinner and thinner and thinner and thinner and thinner! [He crosses to her and raises her forcibly from the chair] — Till finally I won’t have any body at all, and the wind picks me up in its cool white arms forever, and takes me away!
MAN. [presses his mouth to her throat] Come on back to bed with me!
WOMAN. I want to go away, I want to go away! [He releases her and she crosses to center of room sobbing uncontrollably. She sits down on the bed. He sighs and leans out the window, the light flickering beyond him, the rain coming down harder. The Woman shivers and crosses her arms against her breasts. Her sobbing dies out but she breathes with effort. Light flickers and wind whines coldly. The Man remains leaning out. At last she says to him softly –] Come back to bed. Come on back to bed, baby … [He turns his lost face to her as –]