Babe…from Crimes of the Heart

Babe…from Crimes of the Heart

Modern – Women

By Beth Henley (Penguin: 49-50)

[Toward the end of Act 1:  Babe is telling her sister, Meg, about her affair with a 15 year old black boy and how she came to almost kill her husband]

BABE: All right, then. Let’s see…Willie Jay was over. And it was after we’d…we were just standing around on the back porch playing with Dog. Well, suddenly Zachary comes from around the side of the house. And he startled me ’cause he’s supposed to be away at the office, and there he is coming from round the side of the house. Anyway, he says to Willie Jay, “Hey boy, what are you doing back here?” And I say, “He’s not doing anything. You just go on home, Willie Jay! You just run right on home.” Well, before he can move, Zachary comes up and knocks him once right across the face and then shoves him down the porch steps, causing him to skin up his elbow real bad on that hard concrete. Then he says, “Don’t you ever come around here again, or I’ll have them cut out your gizzard!” Well, Willie Jay starts crying–these tears come streaming down his face–then he gets up real quick and runs away, with Dog following off after him. After that I don’t remember too much clearly; let’s see…I went into the living room, and I went right up to the davenport and opened the drawer where we keep the burglar gun…I took it out. Then I–I brought it up to my ear. Why, I was gonna shoot off my own head! That’s what I was gonna do. Then I heard the back door slamming and suddenly, for some reason, I thought about Mama…how she’d hung herself. And here I was about ready to shoot myself. Then I realized– that’s right, I realized how I didn’t want to kill myself! And she–she probably didn’t want to kill herself. She wanted to kill him, and I wanted to kill him, too. I wanted to kill Zachary, not myself. ‘Cause I–I wanted to live! So I waited for him to come into the living room. Then I held out the gun, and I pulled the trigger, aiming for his heart but getting him in the stomach. (After a pause) It’s funny that I really did that.