Центр Леся Курбаса - 2017 - ГО Джойфест ©

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Neda Nezhdana

 

translated by Tetyana Shlikhar

 

A SUICIDE OF LONELINESS

 

Tragicomedy

in 13 steps, with one intermission and one jump

 

 CHARACTERS:

 

PEOPLE:

HE – a middle-aged man

SHE – about his age

 

 

CATS:

(without any signs of cat appearance)

MAN CAT – a man in black

LADY CAT – a woman in white

BODY – silent (actor is not required)

 

 

Note: when Cats act, People freeze as if in a snapshot, and when People act, Cats hide.

 

  

ACT I

Step 1

Scenery: roof of a high-rise block. On the edge of the roof (and the stage) there is a low fence. There is also a small booth (big enough to hide in), as well as an antenna. In the depth of the stage there is an exit.

It is night. It’s the end of May, when the weather is pretty warm during the day, and it’s still chilly at night. There is a weak light from the stars, full moon, windows and streetlights. Cats clamber up to the stage from below. Their movements are soft and the bearing is stately. They look around the roof.

***

MAN CAT. It seems to me, nobody here… What do you think about it?

LADY CAT. Not bad.

MAN CAT. Super-duper, isn’t it?

LADY CAT. I would agree with “super”, but definitely not “duper” – half a duper, or even a quarter of it.

MAN CAT. So, shall we stay here or continue looking for something else?

LADY CAT. Oh no, I can’t go on searching any more, that’s unbearable! We’ll spend the whole night in a search. Did we go out to celebrate something or to climb the rainwater pipes?

MAN CAT. I’m all for that, babe! Have a sit.

LADY CAT (settles down on the brink). While the moon is still there… You see, it’s getting clouded up…  if it gets overcast – the whole celebration will go down the drain.

MAN CAT. Which drain?

LADY CAT. Doesn’t matter. Any. After all, the feast of the full moon without the moon…

MAN CAT. Why worry so much, babe? The moon is still the moon even behind clouds. The main thing is to know that it’s full, and that it’s there…

LADY CAT. But for me it’s not enough. I need to see it, feel it…

MAN CAT. Well, I knew you are sensitive, but not to that extent.

LADY CAT. We have what we have. I wonder why Ruddy is so late.

MAN CAT. Yeah, he promised to bring along some sour cream – damned dandy.

LADY CAT (with tenderness). He’s not a dandy at all – just a dare-devil. Which I can’t say about somebody else here… And actually – what kind of celebration it is if it’s dry in the mouth.

MAN CAT. I’d love to see him dragging up the drain pipe with a package in his teeth.

LADY CAT. What’s wrong with that? I used to haul babies like that and nothing happened to me… Listen, how will he find us?

MAN CAT. That’s right, babe, we need to tag the territory.

LADY CAT. Ohhh… At least do it somewhere on the other side.

MAN CAT. Oh, we are so delicate, hard to imagine!

The Man Cat goes to the other side of the roof, turns around and “tags” the territory. Meanwhile from the depth of the stage where the exit is comes a man. He is well-built, athletic, dressed in black, with a bag or a sack. It’s HIM. He is dragging a BODY. He brings it to the proscenium and hurls it to the floor, takes a breath. He doesn’t pay attention to the cats. The Man Cat gives a sign to Lady Cat to be quiet and they hide. Lady Cat runs to the Man Cat. HE looks around the stage, takes a flashlight from his pocket, goes to the edge of the roof, and whistling, lights up downwards. He hangs some device on the booth (a hidden camera). Finally, he puts the flashlight back into the pocket, takes the BODY by the legs and drags it behind the booth.

MAN CAT. You’ll be laughing but it seems to me he came here for long.

LADY CAT. I won’t laugh.

MAN CAT. So what shall we do – take off?

LADY CAT. What next! I’m fed up with him. I won’t go anywhere.

Meanwhile a woman appears in the door in the depth of the stage. This is HER. SHE is beautiful, dressed in a long elegant gown, but  she is very gloomy. She looks around. He’s hiding from her behind the booth, he takes out some device and hangs it on the booth, then takes out his mobile phone, dials a number and whispers something into it.

MAN CAT. Hey, look – another beauty has dragged along. Are they having a date here or something?

LADY CAT. It doesn’t look like that – he is hiding from her…

MAN CAT. Listen, what if we also hide for a while?

LADY CAT. Why, are you so timid?

MAN CAT. I’m not timid, I’m careful…

LADY CAT. I want to see what happens next…

MAN CAT. Do you really need it? You’ll see it all from over there… let’s go… out of harm’s way…

The Man Cat takes her to the other side, they hide.

Meanwhile HE shoves the phone back and watches her. She’s walking along the edge of the roof looking down, then she comes to the proscenium and halts by the fence, facing the precipice.

 

Step 2

She is looking down as if enchanted. Then she takes out something very small and throws it into the “abyss”, she counts seconds, listens carefully – in a few seconds a clatter is heard.

He stops several steps behind her and watches her. She doesn’t notice him, puts one foot beyond the fence. He makes a few steps in her direction.

HE. The moon looks like a vilified sun…

SHE (turns startled). What?

HE (comes up). I say, the moon is full today. It looks like the sun but a pretty tormented one, doesn’t it?

SHE (steps back a bit). I don’t know…

HE (makes another step closer). I wonder if you know that full moon attracts sleepwalkers? You aren’t one by any chance, are you?

SHE. By any chance, no. (Moves back).

HE. Then it’s all clear.

SHE. What is clear to you?

HE. I’m sorry for interfering, but you’ve chosen the wrong place.

SHE (turns her head to him) What?

HE. Wrong place, I say. Look: there are rubbish bins all over the place down there – not attractive at all, I mean…

She turns quickly and goes to the other side. He follows her.

HE. And here it’s still worse. There is a playground. Can you imagine what children will see tomorrow morning? Their mind is so sensitive… Why hurt them? (She moves further) Don’t do that. Don’t!

SHE (without turning around). How do you know what I’m going to do?

HE. I see it in your eyes.

SHE (without turning). You’re lying. You can’t see my eyes.  I’m standing with my back to you.

HE (comes up to her). So what? I feel them… Big eyes full of despair. You’re looking into the black abyss. It attracts you… (Makes a step).

SHE (steps back) Don’t approach me!

HE. Why? I can stand wherever I like. Here. (Stands closer) Or here. (She moves back). What if I want to make a step off the roof too…

SHE (looks at him) You – never.

HE. Why?

SHE. You don’t look like that.

HE. How do you know what I usually look like?

SHE. I can hear your voice.

HE. And what kind of voice I have?

SHE. An ironical one.

HE. Do you think that you look like that? Not a bit. If I met you somewhere in the street I would never believe… Once, though, I thought of it as the best way out too. You fly like a bird, one moment – and then it’s all over…

SHE. So why didn’t you do that?

HE. I live on the ground floor – if you jump off the window there, you can rather gain health than lose it. Do you have the same problem? The ground floor, right?

SHE. Second one. But it doesn’t matter.

HE. I see, it’s a lot more comfortable to do it off the roof, especially if you’re in a long dress.

SHE. What does the long dress have to do with it?

HE. Indeed, the most important thing is the roof – that’s for sure. Ninth floor, after all. But there something you didn’t take into account.

SHE. What exactly?

HE. Can you imagine your appearance afterwards?

SHE. I don’t care…

HE. It’s not true. You do care. You put on a nice evening dress – it suits you very well, believe me. And high-heeled shoes. I suppose, your lingerie matches it all as well, doesn’t it?

SHE. That’s already too much!

HE. Judging by your response, the lingerie is all right. And now imagine. You’re on the ground. In what position or angle will you end up? – only God knows, or maybe even he doesn’t. The dress can be pulled up… Can you imagine that? Such an impressive picture! Hollywood is nothing compared to that. And suddenly the ill matched lingerie spoils all the aesthetics…

SHE. Are you mocking at me?

HE. You got offended? No need. I’m just worried about you.

SHE (loses her temper). You know what?.. I can do well without your worries. I have a slight request to you though.

HE. Hopefully, not about money?

SHE. No. Would you please move somewhere over there, as far as possible?

HE. Excuse me, do I bother you?

SHE. I can’t do anything when somebody’s standing over me. Leave me alone, I need peace!

HE. Eternal peace?

SHE. At least a temporal one!

HE. Excuse me, but I also have a very tiny request to you.

SHE. To me?! And do you promise to leave me alone after that?

HE. Of course I do! Why are you so nervous? Do you have any problems?

SHE. No, I’m totally fine!

HE. So, you’re a happy person.

SHE (furious). Sure, I want to jump off the roof because of infinite happiness!

HE. You know what, fury suits you perfectly well. Has anybody told you that you’re very beautiful?

SHE. Sure, lots of times. You thought you were the first one, eh?

HE. No, but perhaps, the last one.

SHE. So what?

HE. Could you show me the exit here?

SHE (perplexed). Do you want to leave?

HE. I thought you wanted it.

SHE (showing downwards). The exit is here, in front of you.

HE. Thanks a lot, only after you.

SHE. You know, I would rather let you go first now! I can even help you and wave you good-bye…

HE. No, no, why. Gentlemen always let ladies go first.

SHE. So you are a gentleman then?! I haven’t seen such impudence in my whole life!

HE (ironically, with emphasized politeness, bows and obsequiousness). Listen to me, my fair lady, would you be so kind, if you don’t mind of course, to show me the way that leads from outside inside, in particular, to the place that common people usually call exit? Is it better?

SHE. So you want to prove your gentlemanness with nonsense like that, eh?

HE. Me? God forbid. I just want you to show me the stairs or at least a ladder to get out of here, and then you can jump to your heart’s content! (flings to the fence, steps on the edge). I mean, not that much of a content…

SHE. The exit is there. (Shows to the back). Don’t you see?

HE. Please, show me off to it. (holds out his hand to her). Maybe, there in heaven you will be given a credit for that…

SHE. All right… (Gives her hand to him).

HE. Watch out!

Instinctively SHE jerks her leg, catches on the fence and falls on the roof. The purse slips out of her hand.

 

Step 3

He jumps up to her and helps her to get up.

SHE. Ohhhh….

HE. What’s up?

SHE. My leg…

HE. It needs rubbing… Where does it hurt, here?

Starts rubbing, She continues screaming.

SHE. Don’t touch my leg!

HE. You’ll feel better.

SHE. No way! It’s even worse!

HE. Whatever you wish. Actually, why take care of your leg, if all the same you’re already with one foot in a … you know where. I’m not sure though, if it’s with the right or with the left one… The saying doesn’t tell anything about it. By the way, which one hurts you – the right or the left one?

SHE. The middle one.

HE. Great. So, you’ve got middle legs – or maybe, middling ones.

SHE (with indignation). Why is that they are middling? Not only have you crippled my legs physically, but also you slander them ethically… It’s your fault!

HE. I cried to you: “Watch out!”

SHE. Exactly. You cried. My ears got stuffed up because of your yelling, and my legs gave way…

HE. Uh-hah, a real monster, no less. Her legs gave way. You just didn’t watch your way – now you have what you have. And I’m a scapegoat.

SHE. You’d better help me.

HE. But I’ve tried to.

SHE. My leg needs treatment – not ripping off. Oh, it seems to be bleeding…

HE. Do you have any spirits on you?

SHE. Who do you think I am? I’m not a drunkard …

HE. I meant deodorant or perfume…

SHE. I’ve got perfume in my purse… Wait a minute, where is it? Where did you put my purse?!

They look around. He notices the purse.

HE. There it lies. (awkwardly takes the purse, it opens, everything gets out of it).

SHE. Damn. Everything’s out! It’s your fault!

HE. Let me help you pick it all up.

They begin picking up the stuff, she finds her pocket mirror and looks at herself.

HE (ironically). Once I read that a neat woman is the one who can easily empty her purse onto the table.

SHE. Stop it, I don’t need your help. I’ll do it myself otherwise you’ll put everything in the wrong place…

HE. You’re welcome, madam. (Finds the key and hides it). By the way, it seems to me you were looking for this? (Points to a bottle of perfume).

SHE. Right.

HE. Now show me, where is your horrible wound?

SHE (shows). Here, will it hurt? (He sprays). Ouch!

HE. Be quiet. (Starts blowing onto the scratch). You’re like a child. You’d better continue playing with dolls rather than jump off the roof.

SHE. Thanks for reminding me. (She tries to get up but returns to her place immediately). Now I won’t make it to the exit at all, it’s all your fault. So good-bye…

HE. Why won’t you make it there?

SHE. How is that why – my leg!

HE. That’s ok, you’ll limp to it.

SHE. Don’t even think about it! I’m not going to limp! I’m injured. I suppose you aren’t going to carry me, are you?

HE. No problem. (Lifts her in his arms, she resists).

SHE. What are you doing?! Hey, put me down immediately!

HE. A man carries her in his arms, and she is still angry! Where should I go?

SHE. I have shown you already – over there…

HE (goes to the exit carrying her, with an effort). By the way, how much do you weigh?

SHE. That’s a tactless question.

HE. My barbell weighs 50 kilos, what about you?

SHE. Your comparisons are inappropriate.

HE. So you weigh more?

SHE. I’m not a barbell!

HE. Unfortunately. It’s easier to carry a barbell. (Comes up to the door, puts her down by the wall, she sways a bit). But don’t fall, please. (Pushes the door). It’s closed.

SHE. Wait a minute. (Pulls the door – no result). Have I closed it? Perhaps, automatically.

HE. Do you have the key?

SHE. Yes – I took it from the yardman… (rummages in her purse).

HE. Maybe we should take all the stuff out again and have a better look?

SHE. Wait, have you picked up everything into the purse?

HE. Why me? You pushed me aside. (Imitates her). “I’ll do it myself, I’ll do it myself…”

SHE. I knew, you won’t do it properly.

HE. So it’s me who did it improperly, right? I’m sure it was you. By the way, we can still go and look around the place where the purse had dropped. But I’m not going to carry you this time. Trudge there on your own.

SHE. Don’t worry, I will. (Starts going, then suddenly remembers, that she has to limp). Honestly, you’ve almost strangled me with your huge arms.

HE. Ha! I took the trouble to overstrain myself! Of course, only severe ingratitude – that’s all I could expect from you.

SHE. Likewise.

HE. Let’s better look for the key.

They are looking for the key. Cats appear on the stage again. He and She don’t pay attention to them and don’t hear them.

***

MAN CAT. A strange couple. He must be fibbing something to her…

LADY CAT. Of course. Did you get it – she wants to jump off the roof, can you imagine that?

MAN CAT. What do you care about it?

LADY CAT. Why, she doesn’t even know how to do that!

MAN CAT. Once I fell off the fourth floor – nothing so bad, kept my bed for a week – and full speed ahead…

LADY CAT. Big deal, fourth floor! Any fool can jump off the fourth floor. Ruddy fell off the sixth floor – and not a single scratch.

MAN CAT. The main thing is not the floor, but the way you land.

LADY CAT. You’re right. And they don’t have the slightest idea of falling!

MAN CAT. Savage folks… I wonder, where is Ruddy with our sour cream?

LADY CAT. What if he fell off somewhere?

MAN CAT. Impossible – he knows all rainwater pipes here in-and-out. He’s climbed them hundreds of times.

LADY CAT. If he didn’t carry anything it would be fine, but he has sour cream along. I’m worried. And now this guy here loafing about like an eyesore, he’s getting on my nerves. I still wonder what he wants of her?

MAN CAT. Why guess so long? What can a middle-aged man want from an attractive woman?

LADY CAT. Of course, you think only in one direction. I’m sure: this case is a lot more complicated. She doesn’t even like him – he irritates her.

MAN CAT. I bet two fish tails against one that he’s going to curb her…

LADY CAT. You’ll lose.

They hide again.

 

Step 4

She comes up to the booth, goes behind it, notices the Body and screams.

HE. What happened?

SHE. Come here…

HE (coming up). Why do you scream?

SHE. What’s that? (Scared, in a low voice). Who is that?

HE. Well… (Examines) It’s something… Well, legs. Arms. Looks like a human being. And it’s rather a man, than a woman, though – it could be anybody…

SHE. Is it alive?

HE. Why do you ask me? Feel the pulse and you’ll know it.

SHE. Oh no. I’m scared. Maybe better you do it? You’re a man after all, hopefully, a courageous one.

HE. Just a moment ago I was unbearable, and now I’m courageous – what a sudden change!

SHE. Well, sorry, don’t be offended.

HE. Ok, then step aside a bit, if you’re so timorous.

She moves aside. He examines the body, without too much profoundness. Turns to her.

HE. You know, I have to tell you something rather unpleasant. But don’t worry. (Keeps down his voice). It seems to me that this is a dead body.

SHE. My gosh! (Turns away.) Are you sure?

HE. At least, it didn’t show any signs of life.

SHE. But how come it is here?

HE. Why do you ask me? You don’t think I’m an information desk on dead bodies, do you?

SHE. Don’t approach me…

HE. Goodness’ sake, do I look like a murderer? (Makes a step towards her).

SHE. Stay where you are…

HE. No problem…

SHE. How can you prove that you’re not a murderer?

HE. Why should I prove anything to you? We have presumption of innocence ...or whatever it’s called… and after all, what do you care about it? What are you afraid of? You’re within five minutes of becoming deceased yourself.

SHE. Do you… do you want to kill me as well?

HE (approaches her). Me – kill you?! It’s you who wanted to throw yourself off the roof. That’s why I mentioned the five minutes.

SHE. And what if I don’t want to spend these last minutes in the company of a dead body and a murderer.

HE. I’m not a murderer at all, how many times should I repeat that?!

SHE. Why are you here then? At night, alone on the roof, eh?

HE. Me? Well… I just… fix antennas.

SHE. At night?

HE. Why? Can you imagine, people are about to have a rest after a long working day, and here it comes – TV doesn’t work! A disaster!

SHE. And you don’t have a rest after a long working day, do you?

HE. I work night shifts. By the way, night is the best time for antenna repairs. At day the sun blinds you, flies are buzzing around, crows caw into your ear…

SHE. Oh, I see – so it’s crows that bother you, aren’t they?

HE. Of course, they disturb the electromagnetic field, and create an additional noise.

SHE (jeering). I see, I see. And do you fix them in complete darkness?

HE. A first-class professional doesn’t actually need to see with his eyes. You should feel an antenna like a woman – by sense of touch, smell…

SHE. Taste…

HE. Taste… No, taste is not necessary. And above all, I have a flashlight. Why all these interrogations at all? If somebody looks like a murderer, it’s you!

SHE. Me? Why me?

HE. Why did you decide to jump off the roof then?

SHE. You won’t understand it.

HE. Well, I’m not that weak-headed. Maybe, I seem like that in the moonlight, but at day I look much smarter. Honestly. And as a Homo sapience I apply logic to the situation: if there is nobody else on the roof besides the two of us, and if I didn’t kill, then you did it. You had all the chances, you had time for that…

SHE. And what about the motivation? Why did I do that?

HE. How can I know? Well, the guy could have had an affair on the side – and you are an impulsive woman, you know…

SHE. I see him for the first time!

HE. Now say that you found yourself on the roof quite accidentally too.

SHE. No, I’m here not accidentally.

HE. You just killed him accidentally.

SHE. How many times should I tell you – I didn’t kill him!

HE. But the body – it’s here!.. You see what an awful situation I’ve got into! I’m hanging about on the roof alone with a recently killed body. If anybody comes here, I will be the first suspect in the murder – me, because you will be having a rest on the ground by that time… And what if they pin your death on me too? You could be a witness and I could have done away with you as well… Or vice versa  - I threw you off the roof, and he was a witness. In two words, I’m in deep shit.

SHE. I don’t care. (almost crying). Leave me alone.

HE. Well, I like that!.. You’ve closed the door and now you’re showing the white feather? No. I won’t let you go now, for sure.

SHE.  I wonder how exactly you’re going not to let me go.

HE. How? Easy… (takes up a combat position). Have you ever taken up judo or sambo?

SHE. No…

HE. And I did.

SHE. You don’t think I’m going to fight with you, do you?

HE. I wouldn’t recommend that. And actually, I don’t fight with women, but…

SHE. Of course, it’s so chivalrous, so gentlemanly – to attack a delicate, defenseless woman! A maniac!

HE. So, now I’m a maniac?! (Starts approaching her, she steps back).

SHE. Just touch me and I’ll scream.

HE. You can scream whatever you want. I’ll show you what a real maniac is.

He stops in front of her. A pause. Suddenly he kisses her on her lips, she steps back and slaps him on his cheek.

 

Step 5

HE. (rubs his cheek). Wow – such a delicate, defenseless, and injured woman.

SHE. (guilty). I’m sorry… But you asked for that.

HE. Listen to me, if you are so firm about your decision, one night isn’t a big deal. Just one night. Look, how beautiful it is – stars, silence… Please, stay with me only for one night.

SHE. Do you promise not to pester me afterwards?

HE. I promise. I can even look for a better place to jump for you.

SHE. I’m not going to freeze here all night long!

HE. I can sacrifice my coat to you for you to feel warm. (Takes off his coat).

SHE. No need.

HE (slips it over her shoulders). Of course you do need it. You’re trembling like a bald puppy. I don’t want you to stiffen up by the morning. Though for you it could also be a way out.

SHE. What do you mean “by the morning”? Are you going to stick around all night long? Go and look for another exit. There must be some fire escape ladder here…

HE. All right, only if you accompany me. Please…

They walk along the edge of the roof. He takes out his pocket flashlight.

HE. What if you give light and I look for it?

She shines the light for him, and he examines the roof side.

HE. Here, you see – it’s quite inconvenient to throw yourself off here as well – garages are all over the place. You can fall and lie there for who knows how long.

SHE. Do you think nobody will notice me?

HE. It’s better to be on the safe side. And here you shouldn’t do it for sure – you’ll get tangled in branches. You’ve chosen a wrong roof.

SHE. I didn’t choose it.

HE. Bad for you… (Touches the back of his head and looks up). Seems like a raindrop …

SHE. I don’t feel anything. Oh…

HE. Now you feel it too? By the way, do you have an umbrella?

SHE. Of course, an umbrella is indispensable for a suicide.

HE. It’s a pity. I don’t have either. And it’s likely to rain pretty heavily soon.

The sounds of wind and rain are heard, the rain is pretty light at first.

SHE. Hurry up – look for your damned ladder!

HE. The ladder won’t get away from us. (The sound of rain is getting stronger). Let’s go over there.

He grasps her by her hand and drags her to the booth, they are hiding under a shelter.

HE. By the way, what’s your name?

SHE. Why do you need it?

HE. I got you, decent women don’t strike up acquaintances with strangers, but if it happened so…

SHE. You can call me whatever you want.

HE. Good. Then I’ll call you Victoria.

SHE. Oh no, please, not Victoria!

HE. Why?

SHE I just have bad associations.

HE. Ok, then what about Pronya?

SHE. You are mocking at me, aren’t you?

HE. All right, you don’t like old names either. What about Liliana?

SHE. Please, don’t.

HE. Ok, then I’ll call you “Miss Incognito”, and I’ll be “Mr. Stranger” for you. Is it a deal?

SHE. I don’t care.

A pause. He gazes into the sky… She embraces her knees with her arms.

HE. Maybe you’ll still try to tell me what happened? Sometimes people just need to cry on somebody’s shoulder, on an absolutely strange shoulder…

SHE. (ironically). And you’re so gentlemanly as to apply for the part of this shoulder?

HE. Why, do you usually hold casting for this part?

SHE. No. Usually I don’t need a stranger’s shoulder. Moreover, you don’t tell me why you are here.

HE. How is that I don’t tell you? I’ve already told you – antenna issues.

SHE. Then you can think I’m here because of antenna issues too.

HE. I didn’t get you…

SHE. What is not clear? My antenna has broken down, and I just can’t live without my TV set. I’m a kind of a TV zombie, a TV zombie-woman…

HE. Do you think TVs work better in the other world?

SHE. I don’t know, haven’t been there yet.

HE. What nonsense!

SHE. And do you think your version is not nonsense?

HE. One to one?

SHE. I’m not going to play with you.

HE. If you don’t want to speak, you can just stay silent. Sometimes, you need it. It can sound weird but – it’s like more difficult to stay silent than to speak. You can rarely have such luck… Would you like to try?

SHE. No… I want this damned rain finally stop!

A rolling of thunder is heard, the lightning flashes.

HE. Be careful, Miss. What if some Zeus or Peroun strikes us with His right arm…

SHE. It would be great.

They stop talking. Cats peep out of the stage wings.

***

LADY CAT (obviously feels cold). There they are your clouds! Do you see?

MAN CAT. They are equally mine as yours. I didn’t bring them.

LADY CAT. You told me that it doesn’t matter if it’s cloudy or not. I hate rain.

MAN CAT. You’re laying such claims to me as if I ordered it. Personally.

LADY CAT. And then we’ll have to trudge through puddles – can you imagine the color of my skin afterwards? Faugh…

MAN CAT. Maybe we should join those jerks by the booth?

LADY CAT. I pass.

MAN CAT. It’s drier there.

LADY CAT. It’s dangerous.

MAN CAT (dreamy). And what if they treat us to something?  Some sausage or bacon…

LADY CAT. Uh-hah, and then they’ll come up to you again and give you more. They are both on pins and needles, don’t you see it? I can feel the wild strain and stress even from here. A furious smell of anxiety. And you, don’t you feel it?

MAN CAT (inhales the air). I feel their excitement…

LADY CAT. All the more… Just think, if you were seducing a bimbo, and at that moment some bozo pestered you, what would you do?

MAN CAT. I would scratch his mug! (A pause). By the way, the anxiety comes from you, babe…

LADY CAT. Maybe… I’m worried about Ruddy. Where is he gadding about?

MAN CAT. Maybe, he’s gone on a spree…

LADY CAT. Listen, do you ever think about anything else?

MAN CAT. Are you jealous?

LADY CAT. Oh drat you! I’m afraid something might have happened to him. Maybe you’ll go and have a look?

MAN CAT. Where? Where should I go? Do you know the direction?

LADY CAT. No…

MAN CAT. You see what I mean? Why make unnecessary movements?

LADY CAT. You’re such a lazybones – just unbearable! Let’s at least walk around the roof and have a look.

MAN CAT.  But what about the rain?

LADY CAT. We are wet to the skin all the same. Let’s go.

Lady cat goes deeper into the stage, drawing him with her. They disappear.

 

Step 6

SHE. Listen to me, if neither you nor me killed him, who is the murderer then? Where is he?

HE. How can I know that? Do you think I belong to his guards?

SHE. What if he’s hiding somewhere here?

HE. Where can he hide here?

SHE. I don’t know. Somewhere over there… (points out indistinctly).

HE. Why do you need him?

SHE. He can do away with unwanted witnesses. I mean me or you.

HE. So what? He will do the job for you.

SHE. Still, I’m scared.

HE. Ok, if you stay here, I can look around the roof. Do you promise?

SHE. I promise. (He gets up). (Goes). Wait!

HE. What’s up?

SHE. And what if while you’re there he comes here?

HE (returns). Ok, I’ll give you a whistle. (Gives it to her). If you see anybody, just blow on it and I’ll be back immediately.

SHE. Ok.

He leaves her, she stays sitting there and watching him, she looks around. Suddenly she takes the whistle and blows it. He hurries up to the sound.

HE. What happened?

SHE. It’s just this (points to the body) it seems to have moved a bit.

HE (approaches the body, examines it). It must be wind.

SHE. And you? What observations did you get?

HE. There’s nobody there. You can relax.

SHE. So, shall we continue the search of a ladder?

HE. You know, I’ve just remembered, that this type of houses is not provided with a fire escape ladder.

SHE. Listen, to be honest, I don’t quite understand it. What’s the point of my presence for you here?

HE. Why, it’s more than clear!  You’re my witness.

SHE. No way! We could be considered accomplices.

HE. Any suggestions?

SHE. What if we fake his suicide? Throw him off the roof?

HE. Uh-huh, he’s lying there on the ground, while we are hanging about on the roof, fresh as daisies – and here will they pinch us. (A pause).

SHE. If only we had a gun, then we could put it into his hand and shoot into his temple – inspectors will see the hole in his head, and won’t go into any further investigations of the real reason of his death... But we don’t have a gun.

HE. You don’t have it. (Takes out a handgun).

SHE. Is it real?

HE. No, just a toy. (Jokingly takes aim at her). Pow! Pow!

SHE. Why do you need a handgun?

HE. For self-defense. 

SHE. Is it loaded?

HE. Sure. Why?

SHE. Can I have a look at it? Please…

HE. No, you can’t. I don’t give my handgun to unbalanced women…

SHE. Um… is it true, you didn’t kill him? Don’t be afraid, I won’t report you.

HE. No, I didn’t.

SHE. It’s a pity… (Pause). I mean it would be better for me if you did kill him.

HE. Why would it be better?

SHE. It would just mean that you have experience in such things. Do you understand? Actually, it’s really difficult for me to do this… If there is still anything after death… You know, a suicide is a sin.

HE. I see what you mean, but why should I kill?

SHE. In this way you’ll save my soul, if I have any.

HE. Look, if you’re so pious, why the hell did you decide to make away with yourself?

SHE. I’m not pious at all. I’m just a coward. I’d like to hire a hit man. But where can I find one? They don’t usually advertise themselves in newspapers or on the Internet…

HE. So, you need a hit man, don’t you?

SHE. I need somebody who handles gun well …

HE. By the way, do you know that hit man’s job is pretty expensive?

SHE. Of course, I do…

HE (ironically). So how are you going to pay, Miss, - with gold or diamonds?

SHE. Unfortunately, the only golden thing I have is this tiny necklace. Here… (Points to her neck). But I can pay with my apartment. I have a nice studio… Windows overlook the sunny side. A spacious kitchen…

HE. (sarcastically) What about the hallway?

SHE. The hallway is a bit narrow though, but the bathroom and the toilet are separate.

HE. At least something. But it is necessary to make a will confirmed by a notary…

SHE. And what if I just write it down with a signature and date? To my mind, such things are declared valid. The last precatory words, you know…

HE. That’s really tempting. But it should be done not here and not now. We should think it all over to avert suspicion. We’ll need a steep or sewerage, or maybe a well…

SHE. Then, do you agree?

HE. I haven’t said anything yet… One more thing. I need to know that you have a serious reason to leave this world. If you are really in the dead end, I’ll do a good deed. Otherwise…

SHE. Ok, I’ll try… But only if you also tell me why you are here.

HE. It’s a deal. But you do it first.

SHE. Ok… (Pause).

 

Step 7.

HE. Oh my God, you’re all trembling.

SHE. It’s cold…

HE. Let me give you something warming to drink. (Takes out a thermos flask, pours out). Here, drink it to have some drive…

SHE. What’s that?

HE. It’s neither potassium cyanide, nor arsenic. (fooling around). Is that a bad news for you? Well, sorry, madam, we don’t provide poison. You are welcome to all we have…

SHE (sits down next to him and takes the cup). So what is it?

HE. It’ll warm you up.

SHE (sips a bit and immediately takes away the cup, choking). Are you crazy?! It’s vodka!

HE. It’s not vodka, it’s a home-made product.

SHE. Take away this slop…

HE. It’s not slop at all, an absolutely decent beverage. Tell me, don’t you feel warmer?

SHE. A little bit. Why do you keep it in a thermos flask? For the sake of conspiracy?

HE. What kind of conspiracy?

SHE. Well, maybe you’re hiding it from your wife.

HE (smiles). No, just to keep it cold – I hate it warm…

SHE. I see. (laughs). I’ve just never tried home-distilled vodka from a thermos…

HE. You see how many things you haven’t tried yet in your life, and you are going to… goodness knows where. So why are you going there?

SHE. It’s just… I don’t want to live. At all. There is no pleasure from life.

HE. That’s abstraction. Give me facts: occupation, work, family status… What happened to you? Did all your relatives die out? Did your house collapse? Something’s wrong with the upper storey? You don’t have a job? You are starving to death? What!

SHE. My relatives are alive, the house is undamaged, I do have a job… But I wish I didn’t have it.

HE. Is your boss a sadist?

SHE. No, why… I just do a job not connected to my major at all. I’m a historian. I’ve read lots of historical novels in my childhood… I wanted to discover new civilizations! And when I got into an archeological expedition… All the romanticism has disappeared into thin air. It was awful. I had to dig, sweep, rummage about in dirt and decayed bones. In addition to that, there was heat, dust, absence of conveniences. A routine, pointless chore. To make it still worse, it was in places where most interesting things had already been dug out before me. Thus, I bid farewell to archeology…

HE. So, you’re a kind of a workshy lady, aren’t you? A historian has lots of other opportunities.

SHE. Then I started to work in a historical museum, I held tours around it.

HE (fooling around). But that’s wonderful! Such a noble mission! Enlightment!

SHE. Are you mocking at me? Every day you have to repeat like a parrot the same text learned by heart which nobody remembers or listens to. It seemed to me I was turning into a museum exhibit myself. And then, this miserable salary… I got sick and tired of total poverty and mending runs on my stockings. It is so humiliating.

HE. Well, sounds almost like “with fingers weary and worn, with eyelids heavy and red, a woman sat, in unwomanly rags, plying her needle and thread”. Don’t make Himalayas out of a molehill. Your sufferings are just ridiculous…

SHE. But you demanded facts!

HE. Stockings… You must have pulled on miniskirts, eh?

SHE. I prefer long skirts!

HE. In long skirts runs are not visible, my dear! Unless somebody is lying in a puddle or fixing sewers… Do you care about their opinion concerning your stockings?

SHE. You are just unbearable.

HE. And you’re unconvincing… And what are you up to now?

SHE. Transmigration of souls…

HE. Oh, that’s interesting. Hinduism?

SHE. Oh no, it’s all much simpler… (Pause). I deal with transmigration of souls together with their bodies. I work for a real estate agency… You know, even old friends call me now only when they need to sell or buy something. I didn’t notice before how many people aren’t satisfied with the place they live in. Many of them think that as soon as they change the location everything will change. But one should change something else. You can’t run away from yourself…

HE. You don’t like your job, right?

SHE. I hate it.

HE. But apart from your job… Didn’t you have anything else in your life?

SHE. I did. But nothing special.

HE. Still try to remember…

SHE. Well, I fell in love. I’ve never felt so well before… just because of his presence, because of the sound of his voice, his sigh, the way he smiled… It was fantastic. His touch made me fly into an intoxicating abyss. Everything got different to me – filled with a taste of him. I began to pay attention to the world. Scents, sounds, things – everything became unusual, sweet, inebriating… And he also composed music. Beautiful music… Just listen: (sings a tune) ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta…

HE. Well, it sounds like Mozart to me.

SHE. Maybe, I’ve messed it all up… Actually, it doesn’t matter. In two words, I loved.

HE. And he?

SHE. He told me he loved me too – sometimes I believed him, sometimes I didn’t… (pause).

HE. Some other woman appeared, right?

SHE. How do you know? (He shrugs his shoulders). I understand it’s commonplace. I saw her… If she were at least a beauty, but she is just – plain. Besides, she is a lazy, humdrum, narrow-minded person. And then endless deceits, offences, empty promises, and refusals to speak without any reason began. I felt hurt, terribly hurt – it hurt me without him, and it hurt me every time I touched him. I found myself in a hell. A real hell that doesn’t have a way out! I told him I couldn’t go on like that any more. And he left me for her… Today I saw them together in the street. I felt disgusted as if I’ve had food with somebody’s dirty spoon… Why live in hell?

HE. You’ll fall in love again.

SHE. I don’t believe in love any more. It died. My life has become empty and colorless. It’s painful for me to live. Unbearable… Why are you laughing? Do you think it’s funny?

HE. No, no… I’m just rejoicing. You know, I thought women like that don’t exist any more.

SHE. What do you mean “like that”? Naïve? Stupid? Go ahead, have another look! There will be none soon…

HE. Oh no. I mean reckless. Present-day women are so cynical and mercenary. Let’s take love. A man treats it commonly – it is good in itself, while a woman is subconsciously waiting for some payment for it – in the form of presents, flowers, and eventually, marriage…

SHE. A woman just needs attention from a man. A sign showing that he really loves her, and not just uses her as a chunk of meat for an instant satisfaction of hunger…

HE. It seems to me that if a man doesn’t give his woman a feeling of being loved in the moment when she is really loved, no “signs” can help later… And on the whole, you are a discovery to me. I thought women who die of love, have already become extinct, just like mammoths.

SHE. Mammoths died out because of cold…

HE. That’s what I’m saying - cold. Those women cannot stand cold in their heart. They used to lay hands on themselves, that’s why they didn’t have descendants – and so did they disappear.

SHE. So, in your opinion, I’m a kind of a dinosaur, right?

HE. You’re a miracle… But with my luck, a woman like this already loves somebody else!

SHE. Not any more… (A pause, he makes a step towards her). Well, are you going to shoot or not?

HE. Shoot? What at?

SHE. What do you mean what at? At me (Points out to her heart).

HE. Oh… I forgot about it… No, you didn’t convince me.

SHE. Why?

HE. You want to hurt him with your death. But it won’t work.

SHE. Why?

HE. Because he doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t care if you’re alive or not. I mean, if that other woman died, the one he left you for… Then, maybe, he would feel something…

SHE. I like your idea…

HE. What idea? Do you…do you want to…kill her?

SHE. Not me but you. You have experience and gun. And I can assist you – I can be on the lookout…

HE. What lookout? It’s your rival and your problems!

SHE. Are you worried about the payment? Don’t worry - I have a country house as well, 20 kilometers from the city. Conveniences are in the yard, but there is forest and a lake in the surroundings…

HE. I don’t need your rotten country house. Calm down.

SHE. It’s not rotten at all…

HE. You know, I have a better suggestion to you…

SHE. To kill him? I don’t have any more property. Not a single square meter… Though I would give no more than a doghouse for him.

HE. No, no, no. Just wait with your murders and cubic meters… You’re like a terrorist. Have a sit. (She sits down next to him). Maybe you could sit closer?

SHE. Why, does the proposal require being on close terms?

HE. Yeah, that’s this sort of proposal.

SHE. No problem, I can get closer.

 

Step 8.

HE. How would you like it – with a preface or straight to the point?

SHE. I can do without any prefaces.

HE. Good. (Pause). Let’s make love.

SHE. (Sighs, a pause). Listen, do I really look so bad?

HE. Bad? Why bad? On the contrary…

SHE. Do I look like a woman who you can easily offer right in the street…

HE. On the roof. We’re on the roof.

SHE.  All the more…

HE. Oh, you don’t like the place, do you? To my mind, it’s quite extraordinary.

SHE. No, the place is all right. It’s just we can’t do it like that. We hardly know each other…

HE. I tried to get acquainted with you, you didn’t want it yourself! I can introduce myself…

SHE. No, don’t do it. Don’t you understand it’s offensive?

HE. What’s so offensive about the fact that I like you?

SHE. It’s just there are men - quite naïve ones - who think that all problems women have come from either lack of sex or its low-quality.

HE. I didn’t say that. But there is a grain of truth in it too…

SHE. If only everything were that easy.

HE. It is easy. Release yourself. Just try…

SHE. You’re saying it so simply, as if you offered me a cigarette.

HE (settles himself cozily by her). I just don’t have time. What if you throw yourself off the roof in the morning?

SHE. Maybe earlier.

HE. You see? You don’t leave me any alternatives yourself. I have to jump from the first stage to the third, skipping the second one. But if the circumstances were a bit different, I would invite you to a cafe, I would pay you compliments, present roses…

SHE (ironically). A gentleman set: flowers, sparkling wine, light music…

HE. You don’t like roses.

SHE. You’re right, I don’t.

HE. Let me guess what flowers you like. Those are not gladioli, not gerberas, hardly lilies …  What about hyacinths?

SHE. How did you guess it?

HE. I don’t know. You just look like them, not the flowers themselves but the scent.

SHE. So you can speak figuratively? I would never think.

HE. You just don’t know me well enough yet. I can even recite poems. Would you like me to recite you something?

SHE. Oh, I hate bad poems. I’d kill those who write them.

HE (ironically). Wow! What about those who recite them?

SHE. No…

HE. Ok, it’s better. And what if you like it?

SHE. I doubt it. But you can try…

He gets up, nervously moves around. Finally stops.

HE. And nothing has happened.

More nights will arrive,

Desires will lessen.

And the way will be gone

To the highest of heaven

Among valleys in white

Where the sun is not needed,

Where the moon is enough. (Pause).

SHE. Is it yours?

HE. (Pause). No. I wouldn’t take the risk to recite mine. Why, do you want to kill the author?

SHE. No.

HE. So, did you like it?

SHE. Nothing to die for, but it has some bite in it…

HE. That’s better. Would you like some music?

SHE. Music? Here, on the roof? How?

HE. I have a magic stick for that. Hold a sec… (rummages in his bag, takes out a stick, waves with it). Hocus, pocus! (Music sounds).

SHE (trying to see what’s hidden there). You’re a cheat! You’ve hidden a CD player there.

HE. Will the lady dance with a cheat?

SHE. I don’t want to dance with you…

HE. Beside me here is only this guy (points to the body). And I see it in your eyes that you want to dance with me – rather than him…

SHE. It’s dark here – you can’t see anything.

HE. Your eyes are shining like those of a cat. Let’s go…

SHE. You forgot about my injured leg.

HE. Ok, you won’t do break dance today. We’ll dance very slowly and very carefully. I’ll support you wherever it’s possible. I can even limp with you. Would you like it?

SHE. No. (Drags her by her hand, they begin dancing a slow dance).

SHE. It is so strange…

HE. But it’s good when it is strange… I like you very much, lady Incognito. I’m falling in love with you, I’m afraid …

SHE. What are you afraid of?

HE. I don’t want to lose you…

They dance for a while. The music stops. He dashes to his bag.

SHE (stops him). That’s enough. (She takes her seat).

HE. Whatever you wish… Look, give me your hand…

SHE. What for?

HE. I can tell you your fortune.

SHE. Do you really know how to do that?

HE. A little bit… (Examines her hand, touches it with his fingers). You’ve got a very long life line… It almost goes to the other side. And this is the love line… You see how big it is. And children – lots of them… all these small lines are children…

SHE. You’re a liar. (jerks away her hand).

HE. So am I a liar or a cheat? You should somehow decide on it.

SHE. Both.

HE. Uh-huh, and a boor as well… You’re lucky with new acquaintances today. (takes her by her hand and kisses, quietly). Don’t take your hand away, please…You can stop me whenever you want to, ok? Don’t be afraid. Everything will be all right…

He caresses her, then takes into his arms and carries her into the depth of the stage. Cats appear.

***

MAN CAT. You see, he did tame her, and you didn’t believe me.

LADY CAT. Don’t be a bore.

MAN CAT. Why, you’ve lost! You owe me a fish.

LADY CAT. The whole fish already? We were talking only about a tail. And actually, I didn’t play any games.

MAN CAT. You didn’t say “no”. And then you added: “You’re going to lose!”

LADY CAT. It’s still unclear if anything … works out of it for them… There is another man on her mind. And on the whole she is now like a cat on hot bricks.

MAN CAT. If you have doubts we can go and have a look.

LADY CAT. Fie…You’re so perverted! I won’t go.

MAN CAT. Are you afraid that I win?

LADY CAT. I don’t care if you win or not. I won’t go. Spying is filthy.

MAN CAT. Oh, we’re so delicate.

LADY CAT. And even if it’s true – is it a proof? It’s just despair. An illusion of unloneliness.

MAN CAT. Perhaps. But still…

LADY CAT. You know, I feel pity for people.

MAN CAT. Why?

LADY CAT. If you can make love not only once in a while as we do, but everyday – you can go nuts of desire…

MAN CAT. So, you think love is madness?

LADY CAT. I don’t know. I’m going mad of waiting now. If Ruddy doesn’t appear soon I’ll jump off this damned roof myself!

MAN CAT (sighs). You’ve never been waiting like that for me.

LADY CAT. Never… It is but too true.

They leave the stage.

Pause.

At this point there can be an intermission. Anyway, there must be a pause or a blackout.

What has happened between people should be left an open question.

 

ACT II

Step 9

She comes out to the proscenium from behind the booth, wrapped in a coat, treading unsteadily. He follows her at some distance behind. She stops by the brink of the roof and starts examining the floor – she bends, looks at something, gets up, etc.

HE. What are you doing?

SHE. Looking for the key…Where could it have gone?

HE. Shall I shine you with the flashlight?

SHE. Please do. (He’s looking for his flashlight, takes it out). You’re asking so as if I needed it for myself.

HE. Why, is it for me? (Directs the light on her). Do you want to get rid of me?

SHE (hiding from the light). Didn’t you want it yourself?

HE. Some time ago I really wanted it but now… I want this key for both of us.

SHE (ironically). Really? Then go on searching, why are you standing?

They are crawling around the roof for some time. Then he sits down on the brink.

HE. Listen, you’ve got a strange reaction. Do you always dash searching for something after that?

SHE. No, it’s the first time. And actually, I’m shocked.

HE. By me?

SHE. By myself. An unknown man… I don’t know anything about you.

HE. And what do you want to know about me?

SHE. When was the last time you were with a woman?

HE. Well, I like your questions…

SHE. Long ago?

HE. Why do you think so?

SHE. You’re just like… I can’t explain it to you… I just felt it like that.

HE. You didn’t like something?

SHE. No. On the contrary.

HE. Then maybe we can do without questions?

SHE. One more. Are you married?

HE. Not now.

SHE. Divorced?

HE. Yes.

SHE. Why?

HE. People live, and change… I was too occupied with my job, she didn’t see me all day long, and gradually we just drifted apart… And then I forgot about her birthday… She got very offended.

SHE. I can imagine…

HE. I came late at night, and there was a note on the table – she’d packed her stuff and left.

SHE. And since that time you…

HE. Look, let’s change the topic. Why should we recall the ghosts of the past?

SHE. For me intimacy means frankness. And you are so closed… I don’t understand you. Tell me, why are you here? Why did you stop me? What for?

HE. I’ve told you already.

SHE. I don’t believe you.

HE. You’ve imagined yourself God knows what.

SHE. I have a request to you. Give me your handgun, please.

HE. What for?

SHE. I just want to have a look at it…

HE. But no suicides, ok?

SHE. Ok. I promise. You don’t believe me?

HE. Ok, take it, but be careful. It is loaded.

Takes out the gun, she examines it.

Meanwhile the Cat characters appear again. Lady cat looks down.

***

LADY CAT. Look, do you see the spot over there? Maybe that’s Ruddy?

MAN CAT. Better have a look what they are doing…

LADY CAT. What’s that?

MAN CAT. Shhh… (Takes her aside). He has a gun in his hands…

LADY CAT. Not he but she…

MAN CAT. Still worse. She is but so unbalanced. Women are crazy – first this guy then another one…

LADY CAT. And men are insidious: they sing songs about love keeping a handgun ready in their pockets.

MAN CAT. You know the rule, don’t you: if there is a handgun hanging on the stage at the beginning of a performance, it should definitely fire at the end.

LADY CAT. Firstly, not a handgun but a rifle. And secondly, look – she doesn’t even know how to handle it.

MAN CAT. Still worse. What if in the heat of the moment she presses the trigger and accidentally hits us… We’d better leg it…

LADY CAT. Not leg it but paw it.

MAN CAT. Whatever, but as far as possible from these crazy guys.

LADY CAT. I’m not going anywhere –I’ll wait for Ruddy.

MAN CAT. Just look at you – what a wild sparkle in those eyes – you definitely have something on your mind…

LADY CAT. He is not sincere. I feel it. I hate liars. And so does she.

MAN CAT. Let’s at least hide behind that booth. Come on, babe, be quick. (Draws her into the depth).

LADY CAT. The most interesting part is coming up …

MAN CAT. The most interesting part is to stay alive. (Drags her forcibly).

 

Step 10

SHE. It is so cold… I wanted to remind you about our agreement.

HE. What agreement?

SHE. You promised to tell me what you’re doing here. One secret for another. Frankness for frankness.

She steps back and aims the gun at him as if jokingly.

HE. That’s a bad joke. Give it to me… (Makes a step towards her).

SHE. Don’t approach me. It is loaded.

HE. You won’t fire at me, will you?

SHE. Then stay where you are. Please.

HE. Ok, I stay here. What next? Are we going to stick around like that all night long? A nice mise en scene. Especially against the background of the dead body.

SHE. Do not distract from the subject. Why are you here?

HE. All right. (Pause). I’m a lunatic, I usually rove about at night.

SHE. Why aren’t you wearing your pajamas instead of the coat then?

HE. What’s wrong with that? What if I fell asleep in a coat. I was drunk, you know…

SHE. Lies. You look like a lunatic the same as an elephant looks like a ballerina. And you don’t drink as well.

HE. Ok… I’ve been to a woman… I won’t give out her name… Well, suddenly her husband came home, she was in panic. It was stupid to hide in a closet… So I climbed up to the roof…

SHE. But you’ve just confessed to me that you haven’t had a woman for a long time.

HE.  Well, nothing happened, actually. And this is most frustrating. I’ve suffered for nothing.

SHE. What about the thermos flask – she provided it for your journey, didn’t she?

HE. What does the thermos has to do with it?

SHE. That’s what I’m talking about. The thermos doesn’t fit in… And the handgun – did she give it to you to fire back at her husband?

HE. No, I had it before.

SHE. Then why did you fall back if you had the gun?

HE. Why do you think he was unarmed?

SHE. Did he have an automatic rifle? (He goes, sits down). Explosives? Chemical weapon? Bacteriological weapon? A knife? Scissors? Pliers?

HE. Are you sneering at me?

SHE. I’m trying to prove your version… What were you so scared of?

HE. I wasn’t scared at all, I just didn’t want to discredit the woman…

SHE. Then you’re a noble gentleman, eh? Suffered for the sake of a woman?

HE. Why, couldn’t I do that?

SHE. You’ve watched too many cheap melodramatic comedies.

HE. Can a comedy be melodramatic?

SHE. That’s what I’m trying to say.

HE. Why don’t you believe me?

SHE. Just listen to what you say. Your fable has such a long beard that it is dangling along the way for half a mile already.

HE. If you don’t like it, go ahead and make up your own version.

SHE. To be honest, I thought you’re a burglar.

HE. Thanks a lot. But I’m not worthy of such high a title.

SHE. Did I offend you?

HE. What do you think?

SHE. Sorry… But why do you keep saying all that nonsense? 

HE. I won’t say a single word now. I don’t like speaking when I’m pointed at…

SHE. So, you’re going to be silent as a grave? (Pause). Ok. Here is your handgun. (Gives him back the handgun. He doesn’t take it.) Will you tell me now? (Pause). Please, tell me…

HE (takes the handgun). If I tell you the truth, I’m afraid, you won’t believe it.

SHE. Just try at least.

HE. All right. I’m here because of UFO.

SHE. Another fairy tale?

HE. I saw it. With my own eyes. In the middle of a day.

SHE. A real flying saucer?   

HE. No, it wasn’t like a saucer in shape.

SHE. A cup? A saucepan?

HE. Your irony is out of place. It was actually a cylinder with a metal shine. It was hanging up there for a moment and then moved again repeatedly – it disappeared in one spot and immediately appeared in another one.

SHE. But it was proved already that those are just some atmospheric phenomena, aren’t they?

HE. Who proved it? There are hundreds of evidences, there are pictures and video recordings, there are indices of various devices. But they are all ignored. It has become a taboo.

SHE. Why?

HE. That’s a different question – why. Perhaps, because it’s comfortable for somebody in this way.

SHE. Look, but why those flying saucers have never tried to come into contact with us?

HE. They did try.

SHE With you?

HE. If you mean a humanoid coming out of it and greeting me by the hand – no, this never happened. But still there was a contact… A mental one… We, people, come into this so to speak contact every day, but actually, what do we know about each other? Just some illusory, distorted images. And what really happens there, in our thoughts? What is a contact after all? When I first saw them some strange, unknown thoughts appeared in my head. They were unexpected and belonging to somebody else. As if from nowhere. I had thoughts that this was some parallel civilization and that they took hold not only of the space but also of time. I realized that our biggest problem is that we don’t understand time. We plan something and live in an illusion that it’s going to happen like that. But something different happens. Catastrophes, diseases, wars, a concatenation of circumstances. We live like blind kittens in a complete darkness of the future. The logic of events often seems incomprehensible. And it breaks us, drives us into despair. In this darkness we hurt others and hurt ourselves… And only afterwards, looking back into the past, we begin to understand our fate…

SHE. But there are people who can tell the future.

HE. Sometimes they can. But it’s like a lightning, like electricity. Do you see the difference? We know the laws of physics, chemistry, mathematics, but we don’t know the laws of our own fortune.

SHE. Do you want to say that you’ve discovered them?

HE. No, I just realized that they should be discovered. Maybe, I’m the chosen one to bring people a new knowledge, to take them out of the desert of blindness and weakness. (she applauds). You don’t believe me?,,

SHE. Sorry. I was wrong – you do have imagination. You invent it all so well, but implausible… (Pause).

HE. I was wrong too. I thought you’re different, that you can understand such things.

SHE. For me intimacy means frankness.

HE. And for me intimacy is trust.

SHE. I haven’t noticed any trust on your part. Only lies.

HE. Your problem is that you don’t believe anybody.

She goes and take a sit on the brink of the roof. He stays by the booth. A light spot appears in the sky in the way that She can see it and He can’t.

 

Step 11.

SHE. Look, what’s that? (Points out to the spot). Over there, look…

HE. I told you already I’m not an information desk officer.

SHE. There is a strange cylinder. Maybe that’s your UFO?

HE. Stop getting at me…

SHE. I’m serious, just have a look.

HE. (looks around, astonished stands still, then runs in its direction). That’s the UFO… Do you hear me? That’s it!

SHE. Wow… Cool!

The UFO is shining brighter. He runs in its direction agitated.

HE. Do you believe me now?

SHE. Listen, it’s so unbelievable… Oh, look, it is moving. Did you see that?

HE. Yeah, I did.

SHE. Hurray!

She starts running along the stage, joyfully jumps. While He is only fixedly looking at the object.

SHE (stops). Did they come for you? (Pause). Do you speak to them mentally? (Pause). Tell them to take me with them too, do you hear me? They can, can’t they?

HE. I don’t know…

SHE. Look, maybe they don’t see us. It’s dark here. Where is your flashlight?

She’s looking for the flashlight, switches it on, and starts jumping and dancing with it.

SHE. Come on, why are you standing? Give them some signs. Maybe, there is some system of signals… I don’t know how to do that!

HE. Neither do I.

SHE. Well, do at least something!

He takes the flashlight and starts drawing some lines with the light. He is enthusiastically drawing curves with the flashlight. It looks like a shamanic dance. Cats appear on the stage.

***

LADY CAT (pointing to the sky). Do you see it there, in the sky?

MAN CAT. Of course I do… Well it’s UFO…

LADY CAT. You’re speaking about it so simply, as if about a fish tail.

MAN CAT. By the way, I would be happier if it were a fish tail…

LADY CAT. Oh my gosh, what are you thinking about!

MAN CAT. What should I think about?

LADY CAT. And what if this UFO has taken our Ruddy?

MAN CAT. It’s a pity…

LADY CAT. Is that all you can say?

MAN CAT. It’s a pity, if they’ve taken sour cream as well…

LADY CAT. You’re just unbearable!

MAN CAT. It’s you who said there is no holiday when it’s dry in the mouth.

LADY CAT. I’m fed up with your sour cream!

MAN CAT. And I’m fed up with your Ruddy! It’s still half a month left till your heat period, why are you going mad?

LADY CAT (turns away). You’ll never get it!

MAN CAT. That’s it. I’m sick and tired of your holiday! I’m getting down..

Turns around and goes.

LADY CAT. Wait! I don’t want to stay here alone…

The Lady Cat runs after him. Meanwhile the Woman takes out the handgun out of his bag. She fires into the air.

HE. Hey! What are you doing?! Give it to me!

SHE (steps back). I just fired into the air! For them to hear that we’re here…

HE (takes the handgun away from her). Do you want them to think of us as aggressive maniacs?

SHE. But I did it only for the sake of sound…

HE. They won’t hear it all the same.

SHE. They won’t see us either – at such a distance!

HE. Who knows. Maybe they have strong optics. (Checks the handgun).

SHE. By the way… (Takes a spyglass out of his bag, brings it to her eyes).

HE (notices the spyglass and suddenly cries out). Put it back! Immediately! (He dashes to her like a tiger). Stop!..

SHE. I just wanted to have a look, what’s wrong?

HE. You’ll go blind!

SHE. What?.. (Drops the spyglass, it rolls on the ground. He snatches it and hides away). How is that?..

HE. People who used to watch UFO through spyglasses usually lost their eyesight. You could have gone blind! Lenses focus the light, you know…

SHE. Why didn’t you warn me? Why didn’t you tell me?

HE (hugs her). Sorry, I got so scared for you…

The light spot disappears.

SHE. Listen, where is it? (They look around).

HE. It can disappear and then appear in a different place. It’s not disappearance – just a very high speed.

SHE. It will appear again, won’t it?

HE. Perhaps.

SHE. Let’s look around.

They ramble around the roof. He comes back, sits down and embraces his head with hands. She comes up to him.

SHE. What’s wrong with you?

HE. They won’t appear again.

SHE. Why?

HE. I got it now… Nobody intended to take me along. They’ve just used me as an experimental rabbit. They don’t need me. That’s the end. And I’ve fantasized goodness knows what, imagined myself the chosen one, almost a Messiah. What an idiot… A chunk of an idiot…

SHE. Maybe, it’s my fault…

HE. Don’t blame yourself. I was just mistaken. They flew away… (Goes to the edge of the roof).

SHE. What are you going to do? Hey…

HE. Do you think the suicidal mood is contagious? Is it transmitted through droplet contact? Or through something else?

SHE. I’m serious. What’s on your mind?

HE. Don’t be afraid – I’m not going to jump. It’s just everything I lived for over the last two years – it has suddenly collapsed… And now there is only vacuum around. Almost like there – beyond the roof. You see, I was working at the theory of speed. This UFO moves exactly according to my theory, do you see what I mean?

SHE. Are you a scientist?

HE. Well, you can say so. I developed the theory, wrote articles, applied for grants, showed all my calculations, but at the institute I worked for, it wasn’t accepted seriously. To prove the theory I need a laboratory, special devices, experiments. To put it in one word – money.

SHE. You have to unravel the mystery. Then you’ll be able to talk to them on equal terms, you see?

HE. I’m not going to unravel anything now…

SHE. If you want I can help you. Of course if… if you need me…

HE. I need you very much…

SHE. You know, I don’t want to jump any more. I want to unravel the mystery. With you.

HE. And what if you get disappointed with me?

SHE. I believe in you. You don’t have the right to surrender. Do you hear me?

HE. You know, you’d make a perfect wife of a revolutionary… You’re kind, very kind, especially when you don’t jump off the roof. But I feel too bad now…

A pause. He steps aside from her. She walks around the roof, comes up to the body, bends over it, looks at it.

 

Step 12

SHE. You know, it seems to me, it’s just a dummy! Oh my God, what idiots we were… To take a doll for a man! Hey, now we’re free!

HE. Free from what?

SHE. What do you mean – from what? From the body. From the danger of arrest. But still how shall we get out of this roof? (A pause. She moves nervously around the roof). I have an idea. Let’s set fire to something. Somebody will call the firemen and they’ll take us out of here. Oh, we can set this dummy on fire.

HE (examines the mannequin). No I feel pity for the dummy. Such a fine work. Wait…

He gathers something that can burn (for example, paper), she helps him. He sets a fire, they look at the fire together. At this moment a shrill woman’s voice sounds from loudspeakers by the booth.

 

Step 13

VOICE. Attention! Put out the fire on site! Stop it immediately! Real fire is forbidden due to safety measures. Why no actions are taken yet?!

SHE. What’s that? (comes up and pushes the door of the booth – it’s closed). Where does this voice come from?

Pause. She gives him a long attentive look. He avoids her gaze. The voice from a microphone together with side noise of a TV studio bursts out again.

VOICE. Dear ladies and gentlemen. We remind you that you’re watching “The Last Hero of a Suicide” reality show.

SHE. A reality show? How is that – did they record it all here? Do you hear that?! (she’s looking for a camera, finds one). It was all recorded! I’ll smash their cameras! I won’t let it on the air!

HE. Stop it! (stops her). What are you doing?...

VOICE. The rescuer has got a victory in the battle with death and will receive the prize he deserves. The prize of ten thousand dollars is waiting for him. Please, greet the winner! (Applauds).

She fixedly looks at him, he avoids her look.

HE. Idiots! Oh my gosh, what idiots they are..

SHE. So you did know everything, didn’t you? You knew about the show? You… Why didn’t you tell me?

HE. I had no right to… Those were the rules of the game.

SHE. Game? Do you think it was a game? You were just playing?

HE. Not quite. Only at the beginning… And then it all turned serious.

SHE. What meanness… You’re just a dirty scum. Do you at least understand what a lowdown act you’ve done?

HE. I’ve done nothing bad to you, on the contrary…

SHE. You’ve made a fool of me – a rescuer, can you imagine that!.. How much will you get for this show?

HE. You heard it. Why do you ask?

SHE. Of course, nowadays Judas 30 pieces of silver don’t work. Rates go up. So they pay you in case I don’t jump, right?

HE. Yes. But you have to decide it yourself.

SHE. That’s cruel.

HE. Why? What’s so bad about your desire to live again?

SHE. You gave me hope, and it turned out to be a fake. That’s terrible.

HE. Listen to me, please… I did it for my future laboratory… I needed money badly. I want to prove my theory…

SHE. You’d better do a career of a hitman. It’s still more honest.

HE. But when I took up the project – I didn’t know you. I didn’t know that you’re so… unusual. And it’s a gift from the heaven that I met you, believe me.

SHE. Leave your theatrics for the camera. You did it for money, and you’re disgusting to me. It is abominable even to stand next to you… But it won’t work out for you. You won’t get the money. I will jump off the roof.

HE. Are you crazy – to jump off the roof just to prevent me from getting the money?

SHE. I just want to make a suicidal show. You can give a sign to your cameramen – let them prepare the cameras. A real show is coming up (Steps on the edge of the roof).

HE. If you want I can just reject the money.

SHE. You’ve lost.

HE. I need you very much.

SHE. I don’t believe a single word you say.

HE. What should I do for you to believe me?

SHE. Nothing. It’s too late. (Looks down, prays).

He steps between her and the edge of the roof.

HE. Then let’s jump together. If I jump – will you believe me?

SHE. If we smash up to death, what will you care if I believe you or not?

HE. I hope we won’t. We’ll jump with a parachute.

SHE. But I don’t know how…

HE. It’s time to learn then. (Takes her from the edge of the roof into the depth of the stage). Wait, I’ll get it.

Takes a back sack with a parachute, fixes it on his back.

SHE. But you’ve got only one parachute.

HE. Doesn’t matter, it’s strong enough for the two of us. We’re not that heavy after all.

SHE. And what if it doesn’t open?

HE. Don’t be afraid – it will. Do you believe me?

SHE. I don’t know…

HE. I ask you for the last time. Do you believe me?

SHE. I want to believe you. Only… what if it becomes a suicide?

HE. It will be a suicide of our loneliness… You see what I mean?

SHE. I see…

HE (embraces her, steps to the edge of the roof with her). Don’t be afraid: everything will be fine. I count to three – and we jump. Clear?

SHE. Yes.

HE. One, two, three…

The Jump.

Blackout. Cats’ voices.

LADY CAT. But they don’t know how to jump! Land on your paws, on the pads…

MAN CAT. People don’t know how to fall… but they can fly. Sometimes.

LADY CAT. Maybe now is this “sometimes”?

MAN CAT. Maybe…

The lights go up. The stage is empty – there is only a lonely dummy left there. Another blackout.

 

CURTAINS

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