Excerpt In Translation

Pour réussir un poulet

by Fabien Cloutier

L’instant scène, 2014


Fabien Cloutier won a first Governor General’s Literary Award in 2015 with Pour réussir un poulet, a raw and cruel portrait of the exploitation of human misery. Marie-Claude Plourde’s translation brings across the gritty, rhythmic language of the original in working-class English that verges on broken.


ACT 3

 

CARL — Geez man

’zat a job or a lunch?

 

JUDITH GILBERT — Oh dear just enjoy it

It’s oysters

Oysters

 

CARL — Not sure I want any

 

MÉLISSA — You’re not ashamed a’ yourself?

Your lil’ sister can open ’em up on the first try

An’ you, you’ve been messin’ with that one for five minutes

 

CARL — Shut up

 

STEVEN  — I like ’em plain

 

MÉLISSA — Pepper lime vodka for me

Best mix

I tried so far

 

JUDITH GILBERT — Careful not to maim yerself with that

 

CARL — It’s disgusting

 

STEVEN — You gotta eat some to develop the taste

Like blue cheese

With time

It starts to taste good

 

CARL — Blue cheese

First time I ate that

It felt like I was bitin’ straight into a boil on a dick

 

STEVEN — For fuck’s sake

 

JUDITH GILBERT — Well when there’s a boil on a dick

I ain’t bitin’ into it

 

STEVEN — Mom for fuck’s sake

I don’t wanna hear that

 

JUDITH GILBERT — S’ just a joke

I’m so happy to eat oysters

Free oysters to boot

It’s almost enough to make me forget bein’ pissed off ’bout my stolen plant

 

STEVEN — Stolen plant?

 

JUDITH GILBERT — Someone stole a hibiscus from my balcony

 

CARL — Huh?

 

STEVEN — An’ I bet your door wasn’t even locked, eh?

You gotta keep your doors locked Mom

In the world we live in today

You gotta keep your doors locked

 

CARL — It takes a real asshole to steal a plant

 

JUDITH GILBERT — An asshole or an Arab

 

MÉLISSA — There you go again

 

CARL — I ain’t so sure ’bout an Arab stealin’ a plant

Stinkin’

That’s what they’ve got a reputation for

Not stealin’

 

MÉLISSA — This shit ain’t funny one bit

 

CARL — They’re just jokes

 

STEVEN — But those people, they don’t get that jokes are jokes

 

JUDITH GILBERT — I called 911 for my plant

They tell us to do that when somethin’ happens

But they din’t do nothin’

I thought a policeman dressed as the police woulda come

That’s all

At least it’d send a signal to ’em scumbags

Out stealin’ plants

Show ’em the police give a shit ’bout that

 

CARL — It wasn’t an emergency

 

JUDITH GILBERT — Damn right it was an emergency

If that scumbag is running out onna streets

With my hibiscus in ’is hands

S’ right now they oughta go after ’im

Not tomorrow

 

MÉLISSA — Let’s just eat ok?

 

CARL — That doesn’t look good

It can’t taste good

 

STEVEN — Come on

 

JUDITH GILBERT — Do you eat shrimp?

 

CARL — Yeah

 

JUDITH GILBERT — They’re damn ugly too

 

MÉLISSA — An’ you eat shrimp anyway

Same thing

 

CARL — You’ll never see me eat an ugly snatch tho

 

STEVEN — That ain’t true

An’ you know it

 

CARL — There’s no way you’re telling that now you jerk

 

STEVEN — You kept sayin’ yourself that your ex’s snatch

Looked kinda like someone had punched a shepherd’s pie

Din’t stop you from having two kids with ’er

 

MÉLISSA — Hey you jackasses

You just don’t say snatch in front of your mother

Have some basic decency you two

 

JUDITH GILBERT — Stop starin’ at it

It’s not like it’s gonna jump into your mouth by itself

 

CARL — Man that shit tastes so bad

 

STEVEN — Come on

Swallow it down

 

MÉLISSA — Wow you’re laying it on thick

 

STEVEN — Wut?

 

CARL — D’you have to eat it raw?

 

JUDITH GILBERT — It’s better raw

 

CARL — I’ll fuckin’ know what to eat

Whenever I need to throw up

 

JUDITH GILBERT — But just outta curiosity

Who is it who gave you such a big fat gift?

 

CARL — The guy who owns the mall

 

STEVEN — Mario Vaillancourt

 

JUDITH GILBERT — Ain’t that the shoppin’ centre with the restaurant you work at?

 

MÉLISSA — Yeah

He comes to the restaurant sometimes

I see him when I wait his table

 

JUDITH GILBERT — An’ what did he give you that for?

 

STEVEN — Well

There are cheap ones

At the dock in Caraquet

They’re cheaper there

It’s like shrimp

They’re cheaper in Matane

 

CARL — He knows a fisherman who’s gettin’ oysters onna side

An’ he’s givin’ me that ’cause he’d like us

To be partners sort of
We’d buy a whole lot

An’ then sell that here an’ split profits

But I don’ trust ’im

 

STEVEN — It’s ’cause he’s not goin’ through a distributor

It’s a fisherman who’s sellin’ some for cheap for regular folks

I think it could work

 

JUDITH GILBERT — Cheap cheap how cheap?

 

STEVEN — Real cheap

 

CARL — Cheap but what if it tastes like ass?

I’m regular folk but I still can’t bring myself to swallow that

 

STEVEN — You looked willing earlier tho?

 

CARL — I thought it could be nice ’nuf

But since I’ve tasted the stuff

Who’s gonna buy it if it tastes awful?

 

JUDITH GILBERT — Hey now you’ll have to get it outta your head

That just because ya don’t like oysters

Nobody else does

 

MÉLISSA — Yeah

 

STEVEN — Wut you doin’ this Friday?

 

CARL — What’s this now?

 

STEVEN — Answer me

Wut you doin’ this Friday?

 

CARL — Fuck you

 

STEVEN — What is it you’re doin’ Friday night?

 

JUDITH GILBERT — Come on answer

 

CARL — I’m gonna see “Tribute to Queen”

 

MÉLISSA — Again?

 

STEVEN — An’ just how many times have you seen “Tribute to Queen”?

 

CARL — Fuck you

 

STEVEN — How many?

 

CARL — Fuck you

 

STEVEN — You told me you’ve seen “Tribute to Queen” twenty-seven times

So your fuckin’ lessons on taste

You c’n shove ’em up your ass!

 

CARL — It tastes like ass!

 

JUDITH GILBERT — A deal like that’d work with restaurants

Or maybe fish markets

 

MÉLISSA — Under the table to boot?

 

STEVEN — Yup

 

JUDITH GILBERT — I’d be you

I’d go to Caraquet

 

MÉLISSA — Yup

You gotta work for a livin’

 

CARL — Usin’ up gas

An’ missin’ “Tribute to Queen”

To go an’ end up bored to tears in Caraquet

Can’t wrap my head ’round that

 

STEVEN — We won’t be goin’ there as tourists

 

CARL — It takes a special license to drive a truck

 

STEVEN — I c’n find one

I drove a school bus onna side for three years

D’ya think I took the course for that?

 

CARL — Dude you change your mind on a fuckin’ whim

You din’t wanna see ’is face again

An’ now you’re ready to deal oysters with the guy

 

MÉLISSA — Ever buy knives at Dollorama?

 

CARL — Like everybody else

 

MÉLISSA — But they’re shitty the knives from Dollorama

You cut three ’r four carrots an’ they don’t cut anymore

 

JUDITH GILBERT — Yeah that’s right

 

STEVEN — Damn right

They’re fuckin’ shit

 

JUDITH GILBERT — It’s like the garlic from China

It makes you burp more than the garlic from here

 

MÉLISSA — Anyway

The Chinese dude makin’ the knives

He’s not thinkin’

“I’m not makin’ this

It’s useless”

He makes ’em

He sells ’em

 

CARL — So?

 

STEVEN — You’re so damn slow

 

MÉLISSA — That’s all

Meaning

If they’re willin’ to sell knives that don’t work well

Someone can go sell oysters

Even if they don’t like the taste

 

CARL — It’s just/

 

JUDITH GILBERT — What now?

 

CARL — It’s goin’ a lil’ fast I think

 

JUDITH GILBERT — It’s not too fast at all

It’s a sign

Damn you don’t believe in signs sometimes?

 

STEVEN — Yeah

 

MÉLISSA — Yeah

 

JUDITH GILBERT — Back in the day

Fellas with no diploma who ended up with government jobs

With pension funds an’ all

There was plenty of ’em

But that’s over now

Even the guy out puttin’ the cones inna streets

So that they c’n paint the lines onna side of the road

He has to have a diploma

 

MÉLISSA — Takin’ a cone outta the pickup

Dumpin’ it onna ground every three ’r four feet

A retard could do that

 

JUDITH GILBERT — An’ it’d be way cheaper ’irin’ that retard

Or prisoners

You have them put the fuckin’ cones out

’stead of paying their cable

An’ private trailers to fuck their girlfriends in

But it doesn’t work like that

The government nowadays

If ya don’t have the right paper

They don’t give a shit about ya

So you two

Who din’t even finish secondary three

C’n we jus’ agree that

When somethin’ comes your way

You have to make the most of it

 

CARL —

 

JUDITH GILBERT — You don’t like it

You think it tastes like shit

That’s fine we get it

You c’n eat all the crap you want

An’ die from a heart attack in a couple of years

That’s your right

But to make a quick buck off the best oysters inna world

It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing

 

CARL — Would you let me bring my Queen cassette?

 

PETINF14-QuebecReads-Favicon-32x32Translation by Marie-Claude Plourde