— Posted in Always into Darkness, Psycho (1960)

Psycho (1960), Act 01, Scene 02





A small room, a slow fan buzzing on a shelf above the narrow bed. A card of hotel rules is pasted on the mirror above the bureau. An unopened suitcase and a woman’s clutch handbag are on the bureau.

On the table beside the bed there are a container of Coco-Cola and an unwrapped, untouched egg-salad sandwich. There is no radio.

The man standing by the bed, wearing only trousers, T-shirt and sox, is Sam Loomis, a good-looking, sensual shirt man with warm humorous eyes and a compelling smile. He is blotting his neck and face with a thin towel, and is staring down at Mary, a small sweet smile playing about his mouth. Mary keeps her face turned away from him.

After a moment, Sam drops the towel, sits on the bed, leans over and takes Mary into his arms, kisses her long and warmly, holds her with a firm possessiveness. The kiss is disturbed and finally interrupted by the buzzing closeness of an inconsiderate fly.

Sam smiles, pulls away enough to allow Mary to relax again against the pillow. He studies her, frowns at her unresponsiveness, then speaks in a low, intimate, playful voice.

“Never did eat your lunch, did you?”

Mary looks at his smile, has to respond, pulls him to her, and kisses him. Then, and without breaking the kiss, she swings her legs over the side of the bed, toe-searches around, finds her shoes, slips her feet into them. And finally pulls away and sits up.

“I better get back to the office. These extended lunch hours give my boss excess acid.”

She rises, goes to the bureau, takes a pair of small earrings out of her bag, and begins putting them on, not bothering or perhaps not wanting to look at herself in the mirror.

Sam watches her, concerned but unable to inhibit his cheery, humorous good mood. Throughout remainder of this scene, they occupy themselves with dressing, hair-combing, etc.

“Call your boss and tell him you’re taking the rest of the afternoon off. It’s Friday anyway … and hot.”

Mary’s response whiffs of soft sarcasm.

“What do I do with my free afternoon, walk you to the airport?”

Sam counters with a meaningfully reply.

“We could laze around here a while longer.”

“Checking out time is three P.M. Hotels of this sort aren’t interested in you when you come in, but when your time’s up …” Small anguish creeps into Mary’s voice. “Sam, I hate having to be with you in a place like this.”

“I’ve heard of married couples who deliberately spend occasional nights in cheap hotels. They say it …”

“When you’re married you can do a lot of things deliberately.”

“You sure talk like a girl who’s been married.”


“I’m sorry, Mary,” Sam replies after a moment. “My old Dad used to say ‘when you can’t change a situation, laugh at it.’ Nothing ridicules a thing like laughing at it.”

“I’ve lost my girlish laughter.”

“It’s the only girlish thing you have lost,” Sam observes.

“Sam. This is the last time,” Mary replies with difficulty, after a meaningful quiet.

“For what?”

“This! Meeting you in secret so we can be … secretive! You come down here on business trips and we steal lunch hours and … I wish you wouldn’t even come.”

“Okay. What do we do instead, write each other lurid love letters?”

Mary is about to argue, but instead turns away.

“I haven’t time to argue. I’m a working girl.”

“And I’m a working man! We’re a regular working-class tragedy!”

Sam laughs.

“Sam … this is no laughing matter … It is tragic! Or it will be … if we go on meeting in shabby hotels whenever you can find a tax-deductible excuse for flying down deductible here …”

“You can’t laugh at it, huh?” Sam asks, interrupting, seriously.”

“Can you?”

“Sure. It’s like laughing through a broken jaw, but …” He breaks off, his cheeriness dissolved, goes to the window, and tries to raise the shade. It sticks. He pulls at it. It comes down entirely, and the hot sun glares into the room, revealing it in all its shabbiness and sordidness as if corroborating Mary’s words and attitude. Sam kicks at the fallen shade, laughs in frustration, grabs on to his humor again. “And besides, when you say I make tax-deductible excuses you make me out a criminal.”

Mary, having to smile.

“You couldn’t be a criminal if you committed a major crime.”

“I wish I were. Not an active criminal but … a nice guy with the conscience of a criminal.” He goes close to Mary, and touches her. “Next best thing to no conscience at all.”

Mary pulls away.

“I have to go, Sam.”

“I can come down next week.”


“Not even just to see you, to have lunch … in public?”

“We can see each other, we can even have dinner … but respectably, in my house with my mother’s picture on the mantel and my sister helping me broil a big steak for three!”

“And after the steak … do we send sister to the movies and turn mama’s picture to the wall?”

“Sam! No!”

After a pause, Sam simply agrees.

“All right.”

She stares at him, surprised at his willingness to continue the affair on her terms, as girls are so often surprised when they discover men will continue to want them even after the sexual bait has been pulled in.

Sam smiles reassuringly, places his hands gently on her arms, and speaks with gentle and simple sincerity.

“Mary, whenever it’s possible, tax-deductible or not, I want to see deductible you. And under any conditions.” He smiles. “Even respectability.”

“You make respectability sound … disrespectful.”

Sam, brightly.

“I’m all for it! It requires patience and temperance and a lot of sweating-out … otherwise, though, it’s only hard work.

There’s a pause.

“But if I can see you, touch you even as simply as this… I won’t mind.”

He moves away and again the weight of his pain and problems crushes away his good humor. There is a quiet moment.

“I’m fed up with sweating for people who aren’t there. I sweat to pay off my father’s debts … and he’s in his grave … I sweat to pay my ex-wife alimony, and she’s living on the other side of the world somewhere.”

Mary, smiles.

“I pay, too. They also pay who meet in hotel rooms.”

“A couple of years and the debts will be paid off. And if she ever re-marries, the alimony stops … and then …”

“I haven’t even been married once yet!”

“Yeah, but when you do … you’ll swing.”

Mary, smiling, then with a terrible urgency.

“Sam, let’s go get married.”

“And live with me in a storeroom behind a hardware store in Fairvale. We’ll have a lot of laughs. When I send my ex-wife her money, you can lick the stamps.”

Mary, in a deep desperation.

“I’ll lick the stamps.”

He looks at her, long, pulls her close, kisses her lightly, looks out the window, and stares at the wide sky.

“You know what I’d like? A clear, empty sky … and a plane, and us in it … and somewhere a private island for sale, where we can run around without our… shoes on.  And the wherewithal to buy what I’d like.” He moves away, suddenly serious. “Mary, you want to cut this off, go out and find yourself someone available.”

“I’m thinking of it.”

Sam, a cheerful shout.

“How can you even think a thing like that?!”

Mary, picking up her handbag, starting for the door.

“Don’t miss your plane.”

“Hey, we can leave together can’t we?”

Mary, at door.

“I’m late … and you have to put your shoes on.”

Mary goes out quickly, closing the door behind her. As Sam stares down at his shoeless feet …