Play No. 3
The Oyster and the Pearl
HARRY VAN DUSEN, a barber.
CLAY LARRABEE, a boy on Saturday.
VIVIAN McCUTCHEON, a new school teacher.
CLARK LARRABEE, Clay’s father
MAN, a writer.
ROXANNA LARRABEE, Clay’s sister.
GREELY, Clay’s pal.
JUDGE APPLEGARTH, a beach comber.
WOZZECK, a watch repairer.
The Oyster and the Pearl
Harry Van Dusen’s barber shop in O.K.by-the-sea, California, population 909. The sign on the window says: HARRY VAN DUSEN, BARBER. It’s an old-fashioned shop, crowded with stuff not usually found in barber shop-Harry himself, for instance. He shop, crowded with stuff not usually found in barber shops-Harry himself, for instance. He has never been known to put on a barber’s white jacket or to work without a hat of some sort on his head: a stovepipe, a derby, a western, a homburg, a skullcap, a beret, or a straw, as if putting on these various hats somewhat expressed the quality of his soul, or suggested the range of it.
On the walls, on shelves, are many odds and ends, some apparently washed up by the sea, which is a block down the street: abalone and other shells, rocks, pieces of driftwood, a life jacket, rope, sea plants. There is one old-fashioned chair.
When the play begins, Harry is seated in the chair. A boy of nine or ten named Clay Larrabee is giving him a haircut. Harry is reading a book, one of many in the shop.
CLAY. Well, I did what you told me, Mr. Van Dusen. I hope it’s all right. I’m no barber, though. (He begins to comb the hair.)
HARRY. You just gave me a haircut, didn’t you?
CLAY. I don’t know what you’d call it. You want to look at it in the mirror>
(He holds out a small mirror.)
HARRY. No thanks. I remember the last one.
CLAY. I guess I’ll never be a barber.
HARRY. May be not. On the other hand, you may turn out to be the one man hidden away in the junk of the world who will bring merriment to the tired old human heart.
CLAY. Who? Me?
HARRY. Why not?
CLAY. Merriment to the tired old human heart? How do you do that?
HARRY. Compose a symphony, paint a picture, write a book, invent a philosophy.
CLAY. Not me! Did you ever do stuff like that?
HARRY I did.
CLAY What did you do?
HARRY. Invented a philosophy.
CLAY. What’s that?
HARRY. A way to live.
CLAY. What way did you invent?
HARRY. The take-it-easy way.
CLAY. That sounds pretty good.
HARRY. All philosophies sound good. The trouble with mine was, I kept forgetting to take it east. Until one day. The day I came off the highway into this barber shop. The barber told me the shop was for sale. I told him all I had to my name was eighty dollars. He sold me the shop for seventy five, and threw in the hair cut. I’ve been here ever since that was twenty four years ago.
CLAY. Before I was born.
HARRY. Fifteen or sixteen years before you were born.
CLAY. How old were you then?
HARRY. Old enough to know a good thing when I saw it.
CLAY. What did you see?
HARRY. O.K. by-the-Sea, and this shop-the proper place for me to stop. That’s a couplet. Shakespeare had them at the end of a scene, so I guess that’s the end of this haircut. (He gets out of the chair, goes to the hat tree, and puts on a derby)
CLAY. I guess I’d never get a haircut if you weren’t in town, Mr. Van Dusen.
HARRY. Nobody would, since I’m the only barber.
CLAY. I mean, free of charge.
HARRY. I give you a haircut free of charge, you give me a haircut free of charge. That’s fair and square.
CLAY. Yes, but you’re a barber. You get a dollar a haircut.
HARRY. Now and then I do. Now and then I don’t.
CLAY. Well, anyhow, thanks a lot. I guess I’ll go down to the beach now and look for stuff.
HARRY. I’d go with you but I’m expecting a little Saturday business.
CLAY. This time I’m going to find something real good, I think.
HARRY. The sea washes up some pretty good things at that, doesn’t it?
CLAY. It sure does, except money.
HARRY. What do you want the money for?
CLAY. What do you need?
CLAY. I want to get my father to come home again. I want to but Mother a present.
HARRY. Now, wait a minute, Clay, let me get this straight. Where is your father?
CLAY. I don’t know. He went off the day after I got my last haircut about a month ago.
HARRY. What do you mean, he went off?
CLAY. He just picked up and went off?
HARRY. Did he say when he was coming back?
CLAY. No. All he said was, Enough’s enough. He wrote it on the kitchen wall.
HARRY. Enough’s enough?
CLAY. Yeah. We all thought he’d be back in a day or two, but now we know we’ve got to find him and bring him back.
HARRY. How do you expect to do that?
CLAY. Well, we put an ad in The O.K. –by-the-Sea Gull, that comes out every Saturday.
HARRY. (Opening the paper). This paper? But your father’s not in town. How will he see an ad in this paper?
CLAY. He might see it. Anyhow, we don’t know what else to do. We’re living off the money we saved from the summer we worked, but there ain’t much left.
HARRY. The summer you worked?
CLAY. Yeah. Summer before last, just before we moved here, we picked cotton in Kern Country. My father, my mother, and me.
HARRY. (Indicating the paper). What do you say in you ad?
CLAY. (looking at it). Well, I say… Clark Larrabee. Come home. Your fishing tackle’s in the closet safe and sound. The fishing’s good, plenty of Cabazon, perch, and bass. Let bygones be bygones. We miss you. Mama, Clay, Roxanna, Rufus, Clara.
HARRY. That’s a good ad
CLAY. Do you think if my father reads it, he’ll come home?
HARRY. I don’t know, Clay. I hope so.
CLAY. Yeah. Thanks a lot for the haircut, Mr. Van Dusen.
[Clay goes out. Harry takes off the derby, lathers his face, and begins to shave with a straight-edge razor. A pretty girl comes into the shop, closing a colorful parasol. She has long blonde hair.].
HARRY. Miss America, I presume.
THE GIRL. Miss McCuteheon.
HARRY. Harry Van Dusen.
THE GIRL. How do you do.
HARRY (bowing). Miss McCutcheon.
THE GIRL. I’m new here.
HARRY. You’d be now anywhere, brand new, I might say. Surely you don’t live here.
THE GIRL. As a matter of fact, I do. At any rate, I’ve been here since last Sunday. You see, I’m the new teacher at the school.
HARRY. You are?
THE GIRL. Yes, I am.
HARRY. How do you like it?
THE GIRL. One week at this school has knocked me for a loop. As a matter of fact, I want to quit and go home to San Francisco. At the same time I have a feeling I ought to stay. What do you think?
HARRY. Ate you serious? I mean, in asking me?
THE GIRL. Of course I’m serious. You’ve been here a long time. You know everybody in town. Shall I go, or shall I stay?
HARRY. Depends on what you’re looking for. I stopped here twenty-four years ago because I decided I wasn’t looking for anything anymore. Well, I was mistaken. I was looking, and I’ve found exactly what I was looking for.
THE GIRL. What’s that?
HARRY. A chance to take my time. That’s why I’m still here. What are you looking for, Miss McCutcheon!
THE GIRL. Well …..
HARRY I mean, besides a husband…..
THE GIRL. I’m not looking for a husband. I expect a husband to look for me.
HARRY. That’s fair.
THE GIRL. I’m looking for a chance to teach.
HARRY. That’s fair too.
THE GIRL. But this town!… The children just don’t seem to care about anything, whether they get good grades or bad, whether they pass or fail, or anything else. On top of that, almost all of them are unruly. The only thing they seem to be interested in is games, and the sea. That’s why I’m on my way to the beach now. I thought if I could watch them on a Saturday I might understand them better.
HARRY. Yes, that’s a thought.
THE GIRL. Nobody seems to have any sensible ambition. It’s all fun and play. How can I teach children like that? What can I teach them?
THE GIRL. Of course.
HARRY. (drying his face). Singing, dancing, cooking….
THE GIRL. Cooking? … I must say I expected to see a much older man.
HARRY. Well Thank You!
THE GIRL. Not at all.
HARRY. The question is, shall you stay, or shall you go back to San Francisco?
THE GIRL. Yes.
HARRY. The answer is, go back while the going’s good.
THE GIRL. Why? I mean, a moment ago I believed you were going to point out why I ought to stay, and then suddenly you say I ought to go back. Why?
HARRY. (after a pause). You’re too good for a town like this.
THE GIRL. I am not!
HARRY. Too young and too intelligent.
THE GIRL. You seem to think all I want Is to find a husband.
HARRY. But only to teach. You want to teach him to become a father, so you can have a lot of children of your own to teach.
THE GIRL. (She sits almost angrily in the chair and speaks very softly.) I’d like a poodle haircut if you don’t mind, Mr. Van Dusen.
HARRY. You’ll have to get that in San Francisco, I’m afraid.
THE GIRL. Why? Aren’t you a barber?
HARRY. I am.
THE GIRL. Well, This is your shop. It’s open for business. I’m a customer. I’ve got money. I want a poodle haircut.
HARRY. I don’t know how to give a poodle haircut, but even if I know how, I wouldn’t do it.
THE GIRL. Why not?
HARRY. I don’t give women haircuts. The only women who visit this shop bring their small children for haircuts.
THE GIRL. I want a poodle haircut, Mr. Van Dusen.
HARRY. I’m sorry, Miss McCutcheon. In my sleep, in a nightmare, I would not cut your hair. (The sound of a truck stopping is heard from across the street.)
THE GIRL. (softly, patiently, but firmly). Mr. Van Dusen, I’ve decided to stay, and the first thing I’ve got to do is change my appearance. I don’t fit into the scenery around here.
HARRY Oh, I don’t know. If I were a small boy going to school, I’d say you look just right.
THE GIRL. You’re just like the children. They don’t take me seriously, either. They think I’m nothing more than a pretty girl who is going to give up and despair and go home. If you give me a poodle haircut I’ll look more, well, plain and simple. I plan to dress differently, too. I’m determined to teach here. You’ve got to help me. Now, Mr. Van Dusen, the shears, please.
HARRY. I’m sorry, Miss McCutcheon. There’s no need to change your appearance at all.
[Clark Larrabee comes into the shop.]
HARRY. You’re next, Clark. (Harry helps Miss McCutcheon out of the chair. She gives him an angry glance.)
THE GIRL. (whispering). I won’t forget this rudeness, Mr. Van Dusen.
HARRY (also whispering). Never whisper in O.K,-by-the- Sea. People-misunderstand. (Loudly) Good day, Miss.
[Miss McCutcheon opens her parasol with anger and leaves the shop. Clark Larrabee has scarcely noticed her. He stands looking at Harry’s junk on the shelves.]
HARRY. Well, Clark, I haven’t seen you in a long time.
CLARK. I’m just passing through, Harry. Thought I might run into Clay here.
HARRY. How is he?
HARRY. He’s fine, Clark.
CLARK. I been working in Salinas. Got a ride down in a truck. It’s across the street now at the gasoline station.
HARRY. You’ve been home, of course?
CLARK. No, I haven’t.
CLARK (after a slight pause). I’ve left Fay, Harry.
HARRY. You got time for a haircut, Clark?
CLARK. No thanks, Harry. I’ve got to go back to Salinas on that truck across the street.
HARRY. Clay’s somewhere on the beach.
CLARK. (handing Harry three ten-dollar bills). Give him this, will you? Thirty dollars. Don’t tell him I gave it to you.
HARRY. Why not?
CLARK. I’d rather he didn’t know I was around. Is he all right?
HARRY. Sure, Clark. They’re all O.K. I mean.
CLARK. Tell him to take the money home to his mother. (He picks up the newspaper, The Gull.)
HARRY. Sure, Clark. It came out this morning. Take it along.
CLARK. Thanks. (He puts the paper in his pocket.) How’ve things been going with you, Harry?
HARRY. Oh, I can’t kick. Two or three haircuts a day. A lot of time to read. A few laughs. A few surprises. The sea. The fishing. It’s a good life.
CLARK. Yeah, well That’s the first money I’ve been able to save. When I make some more, I’d like to send it here, so you can hand it to Clay, to take home.
HARRY. Anything you say, Clark. (There is the sound of the truck’s horn blowing.)
CLARK. Well (He goes to the door.) Thanks, Harry, thanks a lot.
HARRY. Good seeing you, Clark.
[Clark Larrabee goes out. Harry watches him. A truck shifting gears is heard, and then the sound of the truck driving off; Harry picks up a book, changes hats, sits down in the chair and begins to read. A man of forty or so, well-dressed, rather swift, comes in.
THE MAN. Where’s the barber?
HARRY. I’m the barber.
THE MAN. Can I get a haircut, real quick?
HARRY (getting out of the chair). Depends on what you mean but real quick.
THE MAN (sitting down). Well, just a haircut then.
HARRY (putting an apron around the man). O.K. I don’t believe I’ve seen you before.
THE MAN. No. They’re changing the oil in my car across the street. Thought I’d step in here and get a haircut. Get it out of the way before I get to Hollywood. How many miles is it?
HARRY. About two hundred straight down the highway. You can’t miss it.
THE MAN. What town is this?
HARRY. O.L. by-the-Sea.
THE MAN. What do the people do here?
HARRY. Well, I cut hair. Friend of mine named Wozzeck repairs watches, radios, alarm clocks, and sells jewelry.
THE MAN. Who does he sell it to?
HARRY. The people here. It’s imitation stuff mainly.
THE MAN. Factory here? Farms? Fishing?
HARRY. No. just the few stores on the highway, the houses further back in the hills, the church, and the school. You a salesman?
THE MAN. No, I’m a writer.
HARRY. What do you write?
THE MAN. A little bit of everything. How about the haircut?
HARRY. You got to be in Hollywood tonight?
THE MAN. I don’t have to be anywhere tonight, but that was the idea. Why?
HARRY. Well, I’ve always said a writer could step into a place like this, watch things a little while, and get a whole boot out of it, or a play.
THE MAN. Or if he was a poet, a sonnet.
HARRY. Do you like Shakespeare’s?
THE MAN They’re just about the best in English.
HARRY. It’s not often I get a writer in here. As a matter of fact you’re the only writer I’ve had in here in twenty years, not counting Fenton.
THE MAN. Who’s he?
HARRY. Fenton Lockhart.
THE MAN. What’s he write?
HARRY. He gets out the weekly paper. Writes the whole thing himself.
THE MAN. Yeah. Well, how about the haircut?
[Harry puts a hot towel around the man’s head. Miss McCutcheon, carting a cane char without one leg and without a seat, comes in. with her is Clay with something in his hand, a smaller boy named Greeley with a bottle of sea water, and Roxanna with an assortment of shells.]
CLAY. I hot an oyster here, Mr. Van Dusen.
GREELEY. Miss McCutcheon claims there ain’t a big pearl in it.
HARRY (looking at Miss McCutcheon). Is she willing to admit there’s a little one in it?
GREELY. I don’t know. I know I got sea water in this bottle.
MISS McCUTCHEON. Mr. Van Dusen, Clay Larrabee seems to believe there’s a pearl in this oyster he happens to have found on the beach.
CLAY. I didn’t happen to find it. I went looking for it. You know Black Rock, Mr. Van Dusen? Well, the tide hardly ever gets low enough for a fellow to get around to the ocean side of Black Rock, but a little while ago it did, so I went around there to that side. I got to pocking around and I found this oyster.
HARRY. I’ve been here twenty-four years, Clay, and this is the first time I’ve ever heard of anybody finding an oyster on our beach at Black Rock, or anywhere else.
CLAY. Well, I did, Mr. Van Dusen. It’s shut tight, it’s alive, and there’s a pear in it, or worth at least three hundred dollars.
GREELEY. A big pearl.
MISS McCUTCHEON. Now, you children to listen to me. It’s never too soon for any of us to face the truth, which is supposed to set us free, not imprison us. The truth is, Clay, you want money because you need money. The truth is also that you have found an oyster. The truth is also that there is no pearl in the oyster.
GREELY. How do you know? Did you look?
MISS McCUTCHEON. No, but either did Clay, and in as much only one oyster in a million has a pearl in it, truth favors the probability that this is not the millionth oyster – the oyster with the pearl in it.
CLAY. There’s a big pearl in the oyster.
MISS McCUTCHEON. Mr. Van Dusen, shall we open the oyster and show Clay and his sister Roxanna and their friend Greeley that there is no pearl in it?
HARRY. In a moment, Miss McCutcheon. And what’s that you have?
MISS McCUTCHEON. A chair, as you see.
HARRY. How many legs does it have?
MISS McCUTCHEON. Three of course. I can count to three, I hope.
HARRY. What do you want with a chair with only three legs?
MISS McCUTCHEON. I’m going to bring things from the sea the same as everybody else in town.
HARRY. But everybody else In town doesn’t bring things from the sea – just the children, judge Applegarth, Fenton Lockhart, and myself.
MISS McCUTCHEON. In any case, the same as the children, judge Applegarth, Fenton Lockhart, and you. Judge Applegarth? Who’s he?
HARRY. He judged animals at a country fair one time, so we call him judge.
MISS McCUTCHEON. Dogs or hounds?
HARRY. Hound’s a little old-fashioned but I prefer it to dogs, and since both words mean the same thing. Well, I wouldn’t care to call a man like Arthur Applegarth a dog’s judge.
MISS McCUTCHEON. Did he actually judge dogs, as you prefer to put it, at a country fair one time? Did he even do that?
HARRY. Nobody checked up. He said he did.
MISS McCUTCHEON. So that entitled him to be called judge Applegarth?
HARRY. It certainly did.
MISS McCUTCHEON. On that basis, Clay’s oyster has a big pearl in it because he says so, is that it?
HARRY. I didn’t say that.
MISS McCUTCHEON. Are we living in the Middle Ages, Mr. Van Dusen?
GREELEY. No, this is 1953, Miss McCutcheon.
MISS McCUTCHEON. Yes, Greeley, and to illustrate what I mean that’s water you have in that bottle. Nothing else.
GREELEY. Sea water.
MISS McCUTCHEON. Yes, but there’s nothing else in the bottle.
GREELY. No, but there’s little thing in the water. You can’t see them now, but they’ll show up later. The water of the sea is full of things.
MISS McCUTCHEON. Salt, perhaps.
GREELEY. No. Living things. If I look hard I can see some of them now.
MISS McCUTCHEON. You can imagine seeing them. Mr. Van Dusen, are you going to help me or not?
HARRY. What do you want to do?
MISS McCUTCHEON. Open the oyster of course, so Clay will see for himself that there’s no pearl in it. So he’ll to face reality, as he should, as each of us should.
HARRY. Clay, do you mind if I look at the oyster a minute?
CLAY. (handing the oyster to Harry). There’s a big pearl in it, Mr. Van Dusen.
HARRY. (examining the oyseter). Clay… Roxanna… Greeley… I wonder if you’d go down the street to Wozzeck’s. Tell him to come here the first chance he gets. I’d rather he opened this oyster. I might damage the pearl.
CLAY, GREELEY, and ROXANNA. O.K., Mr. Van Dusen.
(They go out.)
MISS McCUTCHEON. What pearl? What in the world do you think you’re trying to do to the mind of these children? How am I ever going to teach them do to the mind of these children? How am I ever going to teach them the principles of truth with an influence like yours to fight against?
HARRY. Miss McCutcheon. The people of O.K.-by-the-Sea are all poor. Most of them can’t afford to pay for the haircuts I give them. There’s no excuse for this town at all but the sea is here, and so are the hills. A few people find jobs a couple of months every year North or South, come back half dead of homesickness, and live on next to nothing the rest of the year. A few get pensions. Every family has a garden and a few chickens, and they make a few dollars selling vegetables and eggs. In a town of almost a thousand people there isn’t on rich man. Not even one who is well off. And yes these people are the richest I have ever known. Clay doesn’t really want money, as you seem to think. He wants his father to come home, and he thinks money will help gets him father home. As a matter of fact his father is the man who stepped in here just as you were leaving. He left thirty dollars for me to give to Clay, to take home. His father and his mother haven’t been getting along. Clark Larrabee’s a fine man. He’s not the town drunk or anything like that, but having four kids to provide for he gets to feeling ashamed of the showing he’s making and he starts drinking. He wants his kids to live in a good house of their own, wear good clothes, and all the other things fathers have always wanted for their kids. His wife wants these things for the kids, too. They don’t have these things, so they fight. They had one too many fights about a month ago, so Clark went off-he’s working in Salinas. He’s either going to keep moving away from his family, or he’s going to come back. It all depends on – well, I don’t know what. This oyster maybe. Clay maybe. (Softly) you and me may be. (There is a pause. He looks at the oyster. Miss McCutcheon looks at it, too.) Clay believes there’s a pearl in this oyster for the same reason you and I believe whatever we believe to keep us going.
MISS McCUTCHEON. Are you suggesting we play a trick on Clay, in order to carry out you mumbo-jumbo ideas?
HARRY. Well, maybe it a trick. I know Wozzeck’s got a few pretty good-sized cultivated pearls.
MISS McCUTCHEON. You plan to have Wozzeck pretend he had found a peardl in the oyster when he opens it, is that it?
HARRY. I plan to get three hundred dollars to Clay.
MISS McCUTCHEON. Do you have three hundred dollars?
HARRY. Not quite.
MISS McCUTCHEON. What about the other children who need money? Do you plan to put pearls in oysters for them, too? Not just here in O.K. by-the-Sea. Every where. This isn’t the only town in the world where people are poor, where fathers and mother fight, where families break up.
HARRY. No, it isn’t, but it’s the only town where I live.
MISS McCUTCHEON. I give up. What do you want me to do?
HARRY. Well, could you find it in your heart to be just a little less sure about things when you talk to the kids, I mean, the troubled ones? You can get Clay around to the truth easy enough just as soon as he gets his father home.
[Arthur Applegarth comes in.]
HARRY. Judge Applegarth, may I present Miss McCutcheon?
THE JUDGE (removing his hat and blowing low). An honour, Miss.
MISS McCUTCHEON. How do you do, judge.
HARRY. Miss McCutcheon’s the new teacher at school.
THE JUDGE. We are honored to have you. The children, the parents and the rest of us.
MISS McCUTCHEON. Thank you, judge. (To Harry, whispering) I’ll be back as sson as I change my clothes.
HARRY (whispering). I told you not to whisper.
MISS McCUTCHEON (whispering). I shall expect you to give me a poodle haircut.
HARRY (whispering). Are you out of your mind?
MISS McCUTCHEON (aloud). Good day, Judge.
THE JUDGE (bowing). Good day, Miss. (Miss McCutcheon goes out. Judge Applegarth looks from the door to Harry.)
THE JUDGE. She won’t last a month.
HARRY. Why not?
THE JUDGE. Too pretty. Our school needs an old battleaxe like the teachers we had when we went to school. Well, Harry, what’s new?
HARRY. Just the teacher, I guess.
THE JUDGE. You know, Harry, the beach isn’t what it used to be, not at all. I don’t mind the competition we’re getting from the kids. It’s just that the quality of the stuff the sea’s washing up isn’t good any more. (He goes to the door.)
HARRY. I don’t know. Clay Larrabee found an oyster this morning.
THE JUDGE. He did? Well, one oyster does not make a stew, Harry. On my way home I’ll drop in and let you see what I find.
HARRY. O.K., judge. (The judge goes out. Harry comes to life suddenly and becomes businesslike.) Now, for the hair cut! (He removes the towel he had wrapped around the writer’s head.)
THE JUDGE. Take your time.
HARRY. (He examines the shears, clippers, and combs.) Let’s see now. (The writer turns and watches. A gasoline station attendant comes to the door.)
ATTENDATNT (to the writer). Just wanted to say your car’s ready now.
THE WRITER. Thanks. (The attendant goes out.) Look. I’ll tell you what. How much is a haircut?
HARRY. Well, the regular price is a dollar. It’s too much for a haircut, though, so I generally take a half or a quarter.
THE WRITER (getting out of the chair). I’ve changed my mind. I don’t want a haircut after all, but here’s a dollar just the same. (He hands Harry a dollar, and he himself removes the apron.)
HARRY. It won’t take a minute.
THE WRITER. I know.
HARRY. You don’t have to pay me a dollar for a hot towel. My compliments.
THE WRITER. That’s O.K. (He goes to the door.)
HARRY. Well, take it easy now.
THE WRITER. Thanks. (He stands a moment, thinking, then turns.) Do you mind if I have a look at that oyster?
HARRY. Not at all.
[The writer goes to the shelf where Harry has placed the oyster, picks it up, looks at it thoughtfully, puts it back without comment, but instead of leaving the shop he looks around at the stuff in it. He then sits down on a wicker chair in the corner, and lights a cigarette.]
THE WRITER. You know, they’ve a gadget in New York now like a safety razor that anybody can give anybody else a haircut with.
HARRY They have?
THE WRITER. Yeah, there was a full-page ad. About it in last Sunday’s Times.
HARRY. Is that where you were last Sunday?
THE WRITER. Yeah.
HARRY. You been doing a lot of driving.
THE WRITER. I like to drive. I don’t know, though those gadgets don’t always work. They’re asking two-ninety five for it. You take a big family. The father could save a lot of money giving his kids a haircut.
HARRY. Sounds like a great idea.
THE WRITER. Question of effectiveness. If the father gives the boy a haircut the boy’s ashamed of, well, that’s not so good.
HARRY. No, a boy likes to get a professional looking haircut all right.
THE WRITER. I thought I’d buy one, but I don’t know.
HARRY. You got a big family?
THE WRITER. I mean for myself. But I don’t know-there’s something to be said for going to a barber shop once in a while. No use putting the barbers out of business.
HARRY. Sounds like a pretty good article, though.
THE WRITER (getting up lazily). Well, it’s been nice talking to you.
[Wozzeck, carrying a satchel, comes in, followed by Clay, Roxanna, and Greeley.}
WOZZECK. What’s this all about, Harry?
HARRY. I’ve got an oyster I want you to open.
WOZZECK. That’s what the kids have been telling me.
ROXANNA. He doesn’t believe there’s a pearl in the oyster, either.
WOZZECK. Of course not! What foolishness!
CLAY. There’s a big pearl in it.
WOZZECK. O.K., give me the oyseter. I’ll open it. Expert watch repairer, to open an oyster!
HARRY. How much is a big pearl worth, louie?
WOZZECK. Oh, a hundred, two hundred, maybe.
HARRY. A very big one?
WOZZECK. Three, maybe.
THE WRITER. I’ve looked at that oyster, and I’d like to buy it. (To Clay) How much do you want for it?
CLAY. I don’t know.
THE WRITER. How about three hundred?
GREELEY Three hundred dollars?
CLAY. Is it all right, Mr. Van Dusen?
HARRY. (He looks at the writer, who nods.) Sure it’s all right.
[The writer hands Clay the money.]
CLAY (looking at the money and then at the writer). But suppose there ain’t a pearl in it?
THE WRITER. There is, tough.
WOZZECK. Don’t you want to open it first?
THE WRITER. No, I want the whole thing. I don’t think the pearl’s stopped growing.
CLAY. He says there is a pearl in the oyster, Mr. Van Dusen.
HARRY. I think there is, too, Clay; so why don’t you just go on home and give the money to your mother?
CLAY. Well… I knew I was going to find something good today! (The children go out. Wozzeck I bewildered.)
WOZZECK. Three hundred dollars! How do you know there’s a pearl in it?
THE WRITER. As far as I’m concerned, the whole thing’s a pearl.
WOZZECK (a little confused). Well, I got to get back to the shop, Harry.
HARRY. Thanks for coming by.
[Wozzeck goes out. The writer holds the oyster in front of him as if it were and egg, and looks at it carefully, turning it in his fingers. As he is doing so, Clark Larrabee comes into the shop. He is holding the copy of the newspaper that Harry gave him.]
CLARK. We were ten miles up the highway when I happened to see this classified ad in the paper. (He hands the paper to Harry and sits down in the chair.) I’m going out to the house, after all. Just for the week end of course, then back to work in Salinas again. Two or three months, I think I’ll have enough to come back for a long time. Clay came by?
HARRY. No, I’ve got the money here.
CLARK. O.K. I’ll take it out myself, but first let me have the works-shave, haircut, shampoo, massage.
HARRY (putting an apron on Clark). Sure thing, Clark. (he bends the chair back, and begins to lather Clark’s face. Miss McCutcheon, dressed neatly, looking like another person almost, comes in.)
MISS McCUTCHEON. Well?
HARRY. You look fine, Miss McCutcheon.
MISS McCUTCHEON. I don’t mean that. I mean the oyster.
HARRY. Oh, that! There was a pearl in it.
MISS McCUTCHEON. I don’t believe it.
HARRY. A big pearl.
MISS McCUTCHEON. You might have done me the courtesy of waiting until I had come back before opening.
HARRY. Couldn’t wait.
MISS McCUTCHEON. Well I don’t believe you, but I’ve come for my haircut. I’ll sit down and wait my turn.
HARRY. Mr. Larrabee wants the works. You’ll have to wait a long time.
MISS McCUTCHEON. Mr. Larrabee? Clay’s father? Roxanna’s father? (Clark sits up.)
HARRY. Clark, I’d like you to meet our new teacher, MISS McCUTCHEON.
CLARK. How do you do?
MISS McCUTCHEON. How do you do, Mr. Larrabee? (she looks bewildered.) Well, perhaps some other time, then, Mr. Van Dusen. (She goes out. Clark sits back. Judge Applegarth stops at the doorway of the shop.)
THE JUDGE. Not one thing on the beach, Harry. Not a blessed thing worth picking up and taking home. (judge Applegarth goes on. The writer looks at Harry.)
HARRY. See what I mean?
THE WRITER. Yeah. Well… so long. (He puts the oyster in his coat pocket.)
HARRY. Drop in again any time you’re driving to Hollywood.
THE WRITER. Or away. (He goes out.)
CLARK (after a moment). You know, Harry, that boy of mine, Clay… well, a fellow like that, you can’t just go off and leave him.
HARRY. Of course you can’t, Clark.
CLARK. I’m taking him fishing tomorrow morning. How about going along, Harry?
HARRY. Sure, Clark. Be like old times again. (There is a pause)
CLARK. What’s all this about an oyster and a pearl? HARRY. Oh, just having a little fun with the new teacher. You know, she came in here and asked me to give her a poodle haircut? A poodle haircut! I don’t remember what a poodle dog looks like, even.