The Iceman Cometh

The Iceman Cometh by Harold Bloom, Eugene O’Neill

Book: The Iceman Cometh by Harold Bloom, Eugene O’Neill Read Free Book Online
Authors: Harold Bloom, Eugene O’Neill
subject, shakes his head sadly .
    Too late! The old Doc has passed on to his Maker. A victim of overwork, too. He didn’t follow his own advice. Kept his nose to the grindstone and sold one bottle of snake oil too many. Only eighty years old when he was taken. The saddest part was that he knew he was doomed. The last time we got paralyzed together he told me: “This game will get me yet, Ed. You see before you a broken man, a martyr to medical science. If I had any nerves I’d have a nervous breakdown. You won’t believe me, but this last year there was actually one night I had so many patients, I didn’t even have time to get drunk. The shock to my system brought on a stroke which, as a doctor, I recognized was the beginning of the end.” Poor old Doc! When he said this he started crying. “I hate to go before my task is completed, Ed,” he sobbed. “I’d hoped I’d live to see the day when, thanks to my miraculous cure, there wouldn’t be a single vacant cemetery lot left in this glorious country.” There is a roar of la ughter. He waits for it to die and then goes on sadly . I miss Doc. He was a gentleman of the old school. I’ll bet he’s standing on a street corner in hell right now, making suckers of the damned, telling them there’s nothing like snake oil for a bad burn.
    There is another roar of la ughter. This time it penetrates HICKEY s exhausted slumber. He stirs on his chair, trying to wake up, managing to raise his head a litt le and force his eyes half open. He speaks with a drowsy, affectionately encouraging smile. At once the laughter stops abruptly and they turn to him startledly .
    That’s the spirit—don’t let me be a wet blanket—all I want is to see you happy—
    He slips back into heavy sleep again. They all stare at him, their faces again puzzled, resentful and uneasy .

Act Two
    The back room only. The black curtain dividing it from the bar is the right wall of the scene. It is getting on toward midnight of the same day .
    The back room has been prepared for a festivity. At center, front, four of the circular tables are pushed together to form one long table with an uneven line of chairs behind it, and chairs at each end. This improvised banquet table is covered with old table cloths, borrowed from a neighboring beanery, and is laid with glasses, plates and cutlery before each of the seventeen chairs. Bottles of bar whiskey are placed at intervals within reach of any sitter. An old upright piano and stool have been moved in and stand against the wall at left, front. At right, front, is a table without chairs. The other tables and chairs that had been in the room have been moved out, leaving a clear floor space at rear for dancing. The floor has been swept clean of sawdust and scrubbed. Even the walls show evidence of having been washed, although the result is only to heighten their splotchy leprous look. The electric light brackets are adorned with festoons of red ribbon. In the middle of the separate table at right, front, is a birthday cake with six candles. Several packages, tied with ribbon, are also on the table. There are two necktie boxes, two cigar boxes, afifth containing a half dozen handkerchiefs, the sixth is a square jeweler’s watch box .
    As the curtain rises , CORA , CHUCK , HUGO , LARRY , MARGIE , PEARL and ROCKY are discovered . CHUCK, ROCKY and the three girls have dressed up for the occasion . CORA is arranging a bouquet of flowers in a vase, the vase being a big schooner glass from the bar, on top of the piano . CHUCK sits in a chair at the foot (left) of the banquet table. He has turned it so he can watch her. Near the middle of the row of chairs behind the table , LARRY sits, facing front, a drink of whiskey before him. He is staring before him in frowning, disturbed meditation. Next to him, on his left , HUGO is in his habitual position, passed out, arms on table, head on arms, a full whiskey glass by his head. By the separate table

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