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Eric steps outside the house and slams the door. He brings a hand to
his head and massages his forehead, running his fingers through his
hair, whilst frowning, eyes tightly shut; deep in thought. Leaning
back, he slides his back down the door into a sitting position with
his knees in his hands. Then he shouts, gesticulating violently:
"Eva Smithâ€¦dead! And she had said she was expecting a baby! I would
have been a father! What the hell was I thinking? If only I had had a
few less drinks that nightâ€¦"
He reaches his hand into the inside pocket of his jacket and brings
out a metal flask. He takes one long swig, and sighs deeply, looking
up at the sky. Suddenly he drops his head in an outburst of tears,
hurling the flask to the ground.
" Eric you fool! YOU DAMN FOOL! Look at the mess you've made! I led
her to death- it was me, I killed Eva Smith! Oh God!"
He pauses for a moment, sighs deeply then continues:
"By Jove! What will Mother think when she finds out? Oh who gives a
damn about mother? She only cares about herself and her image to
others. But what if she finds out about my drinking? My bloody
drinking! Why? God, why do I have such a hellish habit?"
Suddenly he raises his voice and shouts:
"Look what it's done to me! He lowers his voice to a murmur. Look what
it did to Eva Smithâ€¦that night, I was rather squiffy, all right, but
surely I wouldn't seem a threat to anybody! Not me! Damn it, how could
she think I would be a danger?"
He hears shouting and raised voices from inside the house. Suddenly he
jumps to his feet and begins to pace the street, the cool breeze like
a smack to his drunken face.
" Why did she refuse my money? She knew that she would need it! Maybe
the child could have been a new start for her! I could have helped
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realise what I've done they will never have any respect for me. They
didn't even have any before- not for me and not for Sheila either.
We're both adults. Surely they could allow us some mind of our own?
Sheila is the only one who understands what's going on this evening.
Mother and Father just don't see! Sheila understands the inspector's
reasons for being here. Somehow she understands him and so do I! The
inspector is here for a reason apart from the inquiry of Eva Smith's
death. He is teaching us a lesson, showing us the right way to treat
people! Mother and Father just won't listen to what he's trying to
tell us. They are the fools for not seeing anything from anyone else's
prospective. Why don't they understand that we are all involved and
that we are all to blame! WE ARE ALL TO BLAME! Mother and father just
don't realise what a damn hellish thing we've done! Eva Smith is dead.
She's gone and there's nothing we can do to change that now. We killed
her, and Father started it. It's his entire fault! He even seems to
find it quite amusing. The whole matter doesn't bother him in the
slightest! Well I don't find it funny at allâ€¦in fact I'm damn ashamed.
We did her in all right. If he hadn't sacked her in the first place
she wouldn't have been unemployed and so she wouldn't have gone
anywhere near the Palace Bar! That just wasn't her sort! She was too
sweet and innocent. She was so out of place. Why didn't she resist me!
Why wasn't she firm with me? Why didn't she just tell me to go away?
What a fool I am!"
He kicks a pebble into the road. As it scuttles across the road into a
puddle, Eric watches the ripples skid across the surface; eyes wide
open, in a daze.
"Who is that inspector? He makes me ill at ease. I am absolutely
transparent to him. He can see right through me- I can't hide anything
from him! Those eyesâ€¦they dig deep into my mind, searching me for the
truthâ€¦I can't let Dad find out where I got the money! I can't. Oh
father! Why won't you trust me? Why won't you understand that I have
my reasons? He thinks he's always right! His pathetic excuse for a
He mimics his Father's provincial accent:
'Unless you brighten your ideas, you'll never be in a position to let
anybody stay, or to let anybody go.' He treats me like such a child!
If he finds out about the money, it'll only strengthen his bad views
of me. If I go back, there will be no way of hiding it. The inspector
will make me pour out every detail with his almost supernatural
manners. He frightens me. He knows something that we are yet to learn.
I should leave, I should not go back."
He begins to run desperately, but after a few minutes, he stops and
turns back. He looks down the badly lit road and distinguishes the
faint outline of his house. He draws his dinner jacket close around
himself as a cool, night breeze send a shiver down his spine. He
closes his eyes and begins to walk very slowly.
"I must go back, I have no choice, I have to go back and set things
straight. He knows this much, why shouldn't he just know the whole
damn story, and anyhow, Mother and Father are the fools here and no
matter what they think of my involvement, I know that it is them who
are the ignorant and miscomprehending ones. We must make them see. The
inspector must already know my involvement anyway so if my family are
going to hear about me, let them hear it from myself, rather than let
myself seem a coward! I want to set this matter straight and have done
with it. Right!
(Walks hurriedly down the road, and paces up to the door, takes a deep
breath and enters calmly.)