The Last Will of Shiromordov

A Comedy in Three Acts by Natalya Churlyaeva
Translated from Russian by Jane H. Buckingham

Natalya Churlyaeva Kolomenskaya 12/42 Krasnoyarsk, Russia churyahin@rambler.ru

The Last Will of Shiromordov by Natalya Churlyaeva

CHARACTERS
PALYCH: Gennadii Pavlovich Belochkin, the head of a respectable establishment. GALIA: Galina Iakovlevna, PALYCH’S spouse. SOTNIKOV: a character of undefined social status. BOSS: Semen Semenych, the head of the local branch of the shadow government. ATTORNEY: Valentin Sergeevich, the attorney of the local branch of the shadow government. NOTARY PUBLIC: Elena Petrovna, the notary public of the local branch of the shadow government. ANNA: Anna Averianovna, Shiromordov’s sister. GEORGE: ANNA’S husband. VESELKO: Angelika Ivanovna, Shiromordov’s former lover, works at the respectable establishment. LAPSHIN: Anatolii Petrovich, a prominent official. BODYGUARD: Alex. SECRETARY.

The Last Will of Shiromordov by Natalya Churlyaeva

SETTING
The action takes place in the city, in a luxury apartment and a government office.

TIME
The present.

SYNOPSIS
The bizarre circumstances after the death of a petty functionary expose the corrupt atmosphere of some government agencies. Three different sets of heirs, each holding a copy of the will bequeathing the entirety of the property of the deceased to them, try to claim their inheritance. The government agency where the deceased worked needs to sort this out as quickly as possible so that the inheritance would not go into the wrong hands.

The Last Will of Shiromordov by Natalya Churlyaeva

I-1

Act One
As the curtain rises, GALIA, PALYCH, SOTNIKOV enter a luxury apartment. GALIA (Heaves a sigh.) There, finally it’s all over. Now we can relax. SOTNIKOV Allow me, allow me, distinguished Galina Iakovlevna. Oh, I beg your pardon! You’re not just distinguished but dear to us... And no question about being dear, you’re our beloved! It would be better to say that it’s all over for our dearly departed Shiromordov. Now he can really rest... (Chuckles.) If, of course, we pay no attention to the existing superstition about the Last Judgment waiting for all of us. PALYCH You’re being dramatic, as always. SOTNIKOV But what else can you do with such tragic circumstances? GALIA Gennadii, pay less attention to him. He talks all sorts of nonsense, let him blabber to himself. What will you get from him? SOTNIKOV While you, sweet Galina Iakovlevna, believe that there’s something to get from you as opposed to me? GALIA What, what? What’s this you’re saying? Why am I here? SOTNIKOV Indeed, why are you here? You’re perfectly right in posing the question. It’s worthwhile for you to ponder over, strictly speaking, the meaning of your stay here. What relation do you have with this apartment... (Gestures.) What rights do you have to leave tracks on this parquet... PALYCH Why can you talk this way to my wife? I’d ask you not to forget yourself. SOTNIKOV and

I-2

Ah, please excuse me, Mr. Belochkin, please don’t kill me, show mercy. How could I forget? Now you’re not a simple gentleman, but so grand, so fabulously rich! God forbid, only imagine to yourself heaven knows what and make a big deal at the spur of the moment. Indeed, as if there’s no regret later. Or even repentance. GALIA Gennadii, is he going to keep on being a buffoon? Keep getting on my nerves? Enough mocking us! SOTNIKOV What are you talking about, Galina Iakovlevna? What buffoonery? What mockery? Can yesterday’s friend, today’s servant, and should be tomorrow’s slave really allow himself such things, Gennadii Pavlovich? PALYCH What nonsense are you talking? Enough! After all, it’s starting to get boring. GALIA Gennadii Pavlovich, I demand drastic measures from you. I announce to you officially: if you don’t put this brazen face in his place...eh-h-h...how to express it better... SOTNIKOV Please don’t trouble yourself for nothing, Galina Iakovlevna. Please don’t strain your pretty little head too much, otherwise, God forbid, what if something came out of it. What if something extravagant, like the birth of fresh thoughts. GALIA You shameless man! Get out of here! SOTNIKOV Aha, not so fast... Have you noticed what a poor start would bring? I run and stumble. GALIA Gennadii Pavlovich, I demand your immediate intervention. PALYCH (Shrugs his shoulders.) What can I do with him? You can’t do anything if he’s born this way. GALIA Throw this man out of our home immediately! Let him leave us alone at last!

I-3

SOTNIKOV Why? what’s this whining? GALIA Gennadii, are you suggesting that I act independently? What, am I to summon a guard? PALYCH Galina, calm down, please. It’s bad for you to get excited. You know him, he’s always this way. Can’t reform him already. SOTNIKOV Exactly, I am what I am, and I don’t intend to be reformed to please all kinds of weasels! This is no penal colony! PALYCH Why are you making such a fuss? No one is demanding anything like that from you. SOTNIKOV You’d start to demand from me yet. Who are you to demand anything from me? But here I can demand something from you. Why do you want to say that? PALYCH

SOTNIKOV Don’t you understand? Already forgotten what we’re indebted to? How quickly you’ve stepped into the role... Just that I’d behave more carefully in your shoes. And take your beloved wife in hand... GALIA Gennadii, why do you let him do this? (Turns to SOTNIKOV.) Why are you wagging your tongue? Who are you, after all? What do you imagine yourself to be? SOTNIKOV Me? I at least don’t try to imagine myself as anybody, unlike you, our precious Galina Iakovlevna and Gennadii Pavlovich. (Hysterical.) My husband and I represent reputable organizations! We’re professors, under our guidance... PALYCH GALIA

I-4

(Frowns.) Galina, calm down, what’s this for? Why do you start this explanation that no one needs? GALIA What do you mean “why”? This man obviously doesn’t quite understand whom he’s dealing with! Doesn’t realize the difference between us! SOTNIKOV And what’s the difference between us? I don’t see any special difference... However, to be honest, of course there is a difference. Though sad as it is for you, I am still a bit smarter than both of you put together. Wha-at? What made you decide that? SOTNIKOV How do you think intelligence is measured? Don’t know? Or do you think that the more papers you write to yourself, the smarter you become? Must be, your precious wife convinced you of this? Meanwhile, the presence of such confidence by itself indicates the exact opposite. Do you know what it is? The mental deficiency of an individual. You have no idea how many such backward people are among our high and mighty! Almost in every chair of command. And sometimes even manage to get two or three in one chair... GALIA Oh, you scum! You beast! Now I’ll show you backward... (Grabs a pillow from the sofa and hurls it at SOTNIKOV but hits PALYCH instead.) PALYCH Are you out of your mind? Watch where you’re throwing! GALIA You deserve what, like...you know who! (Chuckles.) He knows, he knows. You know, right, our professor...pseudo? And you shut up! Defect! GALIA SOTNIKOV SOTNIKOV GALIA PALYCH

I-5

(Restraining himself.) What did you say? OK, jokes aside. Well, take the old witch away... You hear? Else I can’t vouch for myself... Come on, come on, do I have to remind you who made you professor, leader, and all the rest? It’ll be so bad for both of you you’d wish it had never happened... Well? (Shows PALYCH a fist.) Forgotten that I’m fed up with you? PALYCH (Coughs.) Galina, please go out for a minute... Leave, go down, take a walk. He and I have to talk. GALIA Why do I have to go? I still haven’t looked around the place as I should. PALYCH Well, so go, look... Go, go! SOTNIKOV (Chuckles.) Just that I earnestly ask you: don’t touch anything. You still haven’t assume the rights to the inheritance. GALIA Oh, I’m so sick of him! Wish I hadn’t laid eyes on him. SOTNIKOV Absolutely agree with you. Would be great if they’d stop squinting at me. Not eyes but downright some cash register! GALIA My nerves definitely can’t take it anymore... (Pulls out a cigarette.) I’m going to have a smoke. SOTNIKOV Go, go... Smoke... From under a black cloak... (GALIA walks out of the room in protest.) PALYCH Why are you so rough with her? What wrong has she done you? SOTNIKOV (Impatiently.)

I-6

She’d try to do me harm yet. Me, who made the way for her and you together in the world... Something I’ve since regretted many times already. When will your sweet other half stop double-cross me? Huh? PALYCH It’s not on purpose. SOTNIKOV Not on purpose, not on purpose... Perhaps she’s not on purpose, but here it turns out that you presents me especially with surprises. What surprises? PALYCH

SOTNIKOV What, what... These. Didn’t I fix up the scientific council in your lousy establishment? I did. Secure commercial protection? I did. So why did you start getting greedy? Why did you make your own assistant idiots more prudent? Everything is not enough for you? Think with your head: you and your old lady are simply pathetic candidates of disciplines nobody needs, and nothing more! Can’t prove to anyone that they're commercially viable or restructuring. PALYCH Okay, okay, I won’t anymore. SOTNIKOV Yes, of course, you won’t. Already ruined it... Exposed all of us... (Gets furious.) You’re what, a rat, decided to destroy our specialty network, huh? You look at me. PALYCH I understand everything. No need to go on. SOTNIKOV Understand what? What do you understand? What could you understand if we even haven’t started the conversation yet? What conversation? PALYCH

SOTNIKOV Business conversation... Serious conversation... What, you think I’m going to carry on small talks with you here? PALYCH Perhaps not now? Maybe later?

I-7

SOTNIKOV What nonsense! We’ll talk right now. PALYCH OK, fine, I agree. I wasn’t against it at all. SOTNIKOV Even if you were... So, fine... Since no one is against it... (Takes some papers out of a briefcase.) Here’s a copy of the will... (Hands them to PALYCH.) Next week go to the notary public and declare yourself the heir. PALYCH Why the rush? Seems to me not quite decent. Maybe we should wait a little? SOTNIKOV Earlier had to wait! Sit and wait, not run and talk about anything with your old fool. PALYCH Here we go again. Why are you constantly going after her? Old, so old. Why is she old? She’s my age, and I don’t consider myself old. SOTNIKOV What, you think that if a broad of retirement age stretches a mini-skirt over her wrinkled ass, she’ll instantly become young? Is that your opinion? PALYCH You made it sound so indecent. You have to understand, we’re constantly in the public eye and must meet the demands of fashion... In a word, we’re public figures. SOTNIKOV It’s hard not to agree with you. You’re right, she’s a public broad, and you, well, a public dude. That’s right, everything’s just as I thought. PALYCH Excuse me, but something I don’t quite... SOTNIKOV (Gets furious.) Why did you blabber about this will to her? Now she moves around here, shaking the relics! Pictures herself the mistress... What connection does she have with all this? (Shows around with his hands.) The same as you... And the late Shiromordov... And other professional

I-8

figureheads. Just keep in mind, in case of anything, no one will be polite to you. If anything, have to get yourself out of... (A heartrending cry is heard, and ANNA barges into the room. She grapples with BODYGUARD, who is trying to hold her back. GEORGE gives BODYGUARD a shove in the back.) ANNA Oh-oh-oh-oh! My gosh! Save me! Help me! Murder! (Grabs BODYGUARD by the ear with one hand, beats him on the head with her purse.) SOTNIKOV Who are you? (Does not hear him.) Police! Quick, call the cops! George! ANNA

(Turns to PALYCH.) Palych, who are they? You know them? Nope. See them for the first them.

SOTNIKOV

PALYCH

GEORGE Oh, you shameless liar! Anna, did you hear what he said? It turns out this jerk sees us for the first time! ANNA (Not letting go of BODYGUARD.) Call the police, George! Told you to call the cops! GEORGE (Runs up to the window.) Police! Help! Burglars! SOTNIKOV (Runs up to the window and closes it.) Shut up, you idiot! What do you want here? PALYCH Wait, wait... It seems I might actually have seen them somewhere before... Just not sure where. SOTNIKOV

I-9

You’re never sure of anything! Where could you have seen this blockhead? GEORGE I’ll show you a blockhead! Ouch-ouch! It hurts! BODYGUARD

ANNA (Hits BODYGUARD with her purse.) Take that, take that! Take that, you lousy scum! BODYGUARD Let go! (Tries to break free.) Let go, crazy bitch! ANNA (Holds onto BODYGUARD by his hair.) George, help! I can’t handle him alone. GEORGE Aha, now I... (Runs over, picks up a chair.) Take this, you skunk! (Hits BODYGUARD on the head with the chair. BODYGUARD topples over onto the floor and lies there not moving.) Rest a little... Think about life. (Pants.) Oh-h, my, what a wild one... Got loose somehow. SOTNIKOV Lord, what are you doing? Did you organize an escape from the loony bin to the slammer? GEORGE Wh-a-at? Who are you? Well, get out of here, and quickly... And take this stiff with you... (Points at BODYGUARD lying on the floor.) SOTNIKOV You don’t have to worry about him. As soon as he comes to, he’ll leave on his own. ANNA ANNA

I-10

(Detects PALYCH.) Listen, George... I for sure have seen this slimy crook before. GEORGE I recognized him right away. He lies that he doesn’t know us. ANNA (Gives PALYCH a push.) Listen, you, goatee! You really don’t remember me? PALYCH Haven’t had the honor to be introduced. ANNA Wasn’t it you who was quite drunk at the banquet and took it into your head to paw me, huh? What, forgotten? (Amazed.) Wow! I see your taste leaves something to be desired, Palych. ANNA George, did you hear? They’re insulting me! GEORGE Don’t bother with them. They won’t do anything to you, can knock them down with a feather. ANNA George, don’t you understand me? GEORGE I do, I do. Just don’t understand what I’m to do. SOTNIKOV But here I personally can’t much understand anything. Palych, can’t you explain precisely who they are and what the devil they’re doing here? Especially on such a painful day for all of us. PALYCH Darn, I don’t know! I know nothing. SOTNIKOV And you, good people? Maybe tell us who you are and why you dragged yourselves here? GEORGE SOTNIKOV

I-11

Want a lot, get a little! I won’t tell you anything, don’t pin your hopes on it. SOTNIKOV Why’s that? Man, are you by chance a terrorist? (Confused.) Annie! What should I do? GEORGE

ANNA Keep quiet, George, better keep quiet. You know yourself. SOTNIKOV You then, Palych, come on... Tell at what banquet and with what goal you grope this respectable lady? PALYCH There’s nothing to tell... I don’t remember anything. SOTNIKOV Well, were you so totally wasted then? ANNA He lies all the time! The rascal, he remembers everything very well. SOTNIKOV So, lady, that means you remember this well? That’s wonderful. Then let’s figure out this character together. You’ll have to tell us, what’s this banquet for? In whose honor? GEORGE There’s this, like his... Well, this... Presentation... For some new bigwig of theirs. Something to do with some vets of some wars. ANNA George! Shut your mouth. GEORGE Oh, OK. Understood, already shut. SOTNIKOV Now something I don’t understand again. What vets, what wars? And what presentation you attended, Palych, without our knowing? Weren’t you told: no letting strangers into our business! Why did you start exercising autonomy? What role did you go into? PALYCH

I-12

They were no strangers. Everybody there was in a very narrow circle of their own people. Can even say almost relatives. SOTNIKOV In that case, whose people are these? (Points to ANNA and GEORGE.) Yours? PALYCH No. Really not your relatives? Not by any chance. SOTNIKOV Hey, people! Please tell us whose people you are. ANNA Definitely not yours. SOTNIKOV Not a shade of doubt in that. Perhaps you’re someone’s relatives? ANNA Shiromordov’s! SOTNIKOV Wh-a-at? Palych, did you hear? Now this is news. GEORGE How is this news? Anna’s his sister, like forever. (Turns to ANNA.) It’s true? SOTNIKOV SOTNIKOV PALYCH

ANNA Nothing more true... Exactly, you can’t doubt it. SOTNIKOV Well, then, that explain many things. In that case, please allow me to express my deepest condolences for the untimely death of your brother. GEORGE

I-13

No big deal. Had to drink less... BODYGUARD (Comes to and tries to get up, chimes in irrelevantly.) I didn’t drink! It wasn’t anything, it wasn’t that. ANNA (Takes a breath.) You’re right, George. Indeed how he got drunk the last time. Horror! Now death has caught up with him... And all because of them, his drinking buddies! Look at their trend: get drunk and go behind the wheel... BODYGUARD (Again irrelevantly.) Never! I always get behind the wheel stone cold sober! SOTNIKOV Shut up! Not for you to talk. You’re not behind the wheel, should be behind the door! And not let anyone in. BODYGUARD (Gets on his feet.) Right, not let in! I tried... And she had to hit me? Is that so? SOTNIKOV Okay, leave, we’ll sort it out later... Indeed, a hit man. BODYGUARD Oh! (Turns and holds his head.) My head is splitting! ANNA Have no fear, it won’t. No need to harass a married woman. BODYGUARD Think I’ll go lie down... (Enters.) What’s this lie down? Where’s he thinking of lying down? (Looks around.) And who are these people? BODYGUARD Don’t worry about me, please, I’ll find a place somewhere... Here, I can lie down GALIA

I-14

on the couch... GALIA Are you out of your mind? Just you look at him! He wants to lie down on my leather couch! ANNA George, you just look at this snake bitch! How clever, turns out she already has a couch here! Interesting, since when? BODYGUARD I’ll go then, rest in the car... PALYCH (Agitated.) Wait, wait, Alex! Wait, don’t leave, something strange is going on here. SOTNIKOV Well, Alex won’t be able to clear up any situation for us. Go, Alex, don’t listen to him... Go wherever you want. We’ll sort things out with you later... (BODYGUARD leaves.) GALIA Gennadii Pavlovich, I officially demand an explanation from you: who are these people and by what right are they here? (Shrugs his shoulders.) She says she’s Shiromordov’s sister. As for the guy with her, I have no idea. Probably her husband. ANNA Who else? Of course my husband! GALIA Husband huh, so? And why’s that? What do you have to do with us? I don’t know you and I don’t want to know you! Gennadii, throw them out of our place now! And let them take Sotnikov along at the same time. GEORGE Oh, you bitch! You tacky cat! I’ll rip out your legs and stick them together as matches, old witch! Then you’ll run and yell! SOTNIKOV Quiet! Silence, everyone! PALYCH

I-15

ANNA Fat chance! Ordering people out! Why should I listen to this slut and keep quiet? Had to think up something like this? Her house... Completely lost her mind, filthy chatterbox? No way, like hell! (Gives GALIA the finger.) Who do you think you are? Half-baked! Can’t put two words together, yet put on airs! Who knocked it into your rotten head that such wealth could fall on you, you hairy-legged pariah? According to what law? The law of inheritance! GALIA

GEORGE Wh-at? Fancy that, how smart! Indeed, the heiress turned up, from the back alley. What more do you want? GALIA Gennadii Pavlovich, why do you keep quiet? PALYCH Galina, it seems to me that you had better not get involved in this. There’re circumstances not known to you. Better let Sotnikov sort this out. SOTNIKOV What’s to sort out here? Nothing to sort out. Everything’s clear as day. We have on hand a will written in black and white that in case of Shiromordov’s untimely death, Gennadii Pavlovich Belochkin is the sole legitimate heir of all of his liquid and non-liquid assets. As well as all bank accounts, domestic and foreign, registered in Shiromordov’s name. Naturally, not suspecting the existence of this document, our lady excellent in all other respects... (Points to ANNA.) ...decided that all these properties will be transferred to her as the legitimate heir. And it would be quite reasonable for her to come to such a conclusion since, as we all know, Shiromordov had no official wife or legitimate children. If not for the afore-mentioned will. We, on our part, did not look into this issue at all, believing that Shiromordov had no sister. Well, for this mistake, Gennadii Pavlovich will assume, so to speak, personal responsibility. So there you have it, my dear, if you want to know: we’re here on full legal grounds. Namely, on the basis of the law of inheritance. ANNA Listen, Mr., don’t you take me for a retard! I knew my own brother better than you, and when there was a chance I was skilled at loosening his tongue. This crazy brainless fool... (Points at GALIA.) ...doesn’t know what she needs and what the deuce she’s plucking out of here! But then I know for sure what you are and why you needed my brother! So now you

I-16

listen well to what I’ll tell you: you blew it this time, understand? And all the others together with you. Look! (With a triumphant look pulls out a piece of paper.) See? I also have a will. (Screams.) Ah-h-h-h!! (Throws herself at ANNA and knocks her down. GEORGE tries to separate them.) No, bitch, no! I won’t allow it! (Tears the piece of paper out of ANNA’S hand and stuffs it in her own mouth, and chews.) That’s it! That’s it! You have no more will! PALYCH (Approaches, slaps GALIA.) Don’t disgrace yourself, idiot! (Laughs.) The bitch has completely lost her mind. It’s a copy! SOTNIKOV That’s right... Good job, Palych, should have made her see reason long ago. GALIA (Confused.) Gennadii, you raised your hand to me? You hit me? After all that I’ve done for you? After all the sacrifice on my part? How dared you? What, is there nothing sacred left with you? All my life I exerted myself, pulled you up! Oh God, why such humiliation for me before some lowbrow? ANNA Shut your trap and choke on the paper... Some aristocrat turned up from the back alley... I’m coming with you... George, listen, have to go around, make a list of everything, otherwise, they might steal things. Start with these... SOTNIKOV I’d advise you not to rush ahead of time. So far, there’s nothing clear about your status. For my part, I can only assure you that nothing will turn out for you in this matter. Am I correct, Palych? PALYCH The will was drawn up properly in my name and I don’t intend to let anyone have anything. I owe nothing at all to anyone here. ANNA GALIA

I-17

GALIA (Emotionally.) You owe me everything! Everything that you have! You’re incompetent, not enough of anything! Remember how the last year in high school I gave my new boots to our class instructor so she would change your 4 to a 3 in the certificate? Have to give away such boots for such a worthless person! Forty years have passed and those heels are still in front of my eyes... And how you failed your session at the institute, remember? How I got on my knees in front of the rector and begged him to transfer you to the evening session? Now I wouldn’t do it for anything in the world! Remember how you by folly set off an explosion in the department? You can’t imagine what it cost me to hush up the matter! And later, already in Moscow, when you were in grad school? Already forgot how I had to sell Mama’s place and spend everything to the last dime on you, you blockhead, so that you would finish? I indeed keep quiet for your protection, and think of the terrible... PALYCH Then keep quiet. Pull yourself together. GALIA What are you saying? So I should pull myself together but you’ll let loose? Not happening! PALYCH Calm down! Don’t you see what’s happening here? (Quietly.) We simply have no other way out. ANNA (Concerned.) Listen, George, this is indeed a very big place. Maybe somewhere there’s another way out? You better go check, else I’m worried. GEORGE True, indeed, Annie... (About to exit.) GALIA Don’t let him go alone! He’ll rob us! PALYCH Heard that, Mr.? You’re not going anywhere alone. GEORGE Who’s barking? Why am I not going? PALYCH

I-18

Because I said so! ANNA Whoa, you said so! Who are you here? PALYCH The owner! I ask you to remember once and for all, I’m the owner here! (LAPSHIN and VESELKO enter.) ANNA I’m the owner here! LAPSHIN What’s this news at our home? What’s this with owners turning up in our absence? ANNA Yes, I’m the owner here! What’s this? Oh, heavens, and this hussy with him! LAPSHIN What hussy? ANNA The last love of my deceased brother! Why did she show up here? Haven’t we gone through enough of her shame during his life, she has to fray my nerves after his death? GALIA (Starts to moan.) Oh-h-h-h! Now I’m starting to feel bad! Quick, give me water... (Fills a glass herself and drinks it.) PALYCH Anatolii Petrovich, I fail to understand you. You in your position bring shame to yourself this way with this... Don’t even know how to say it. You should be ashamed! LAPSHIN I don’t understand you, Gennadii Pavlovich. Why the feeling of shame here? SOTNIKOV I can explain. You see, this lady whom you brought along as companion, to put it mildly... VESELKO What are you saying? Behave yourself like a man!

I-19

SOTNIKOV And how should a man behave with women, I beg your pardon, of that sort? GEORGE Give a punch to one place, that’s the whole conversation. PALYCH If this woman won’t leave here now... LAPSHIN Nothing of the kind. Why should she leave if she just got here? I don’t understand the meaning of your statement. And I’d advise all of you to stop carrying on this kind of conversation altogether in her presence. Why’s that? GEORGE

LAPSHIN Because no one else but she, being Shiromordov’s wife, inherits... Wh-at? She’s his wife? Yes, wife! ANNA You think you’re his wife! I think you’re Satan! Only certainly not his widow... GALIA Right! Totally agree with you! This is no woman but the devil in a skirt! SOTNIKOV (Laughs.) Have to give it to the broads! Only just fighting and already at one. Just like them. This is typical, whoever they are, whatever circle they run in, they react the same way to those like Veselko. Like a bull to a red flag! Though, in fact, such as Veselko posts no danger to a family. Does a normal guy really runs out after her filthy skirts? VESELKO What expression is that? What are you saying? SOTNIKOV What you deserves. Well, when there’s already a crack in the family, of course, where else does the poor guy go? In this case, the Veselkos are necessary, always ANNA VESELKO

I-20

ready to take in a lonely man with serious intentions. They sometimes even take him in for the position, but usually without money or assets. Because not every man wants to share their assets with Veselko. So, you broads take offence at her in vain. The problems in your family aren’t her fault but your own. Why are we at fault? ANNA

SOTNIKOV Why do you make your men’s life miserable? Appreciate them for what they are and hardly any of them would run to a Veselko. A person of sound and sober mind would hardly go to these people. Isn’t that so, Anatolii Petrovich? Are you indeed under the influence today? LAPSHIN You’re mistaken. I’m sober as a judge. He’s off his rocker! ANNA

PALYCH Anatolii Petrovich, I beg you, please be more serious. We didn’t come here to play games. LAPSHIN Agreed, Gennadii Pavlovich. Time to end the game. So, gentlemen, cards on the table! Angelika Ivanovna, you have the last word. VESELKO Listen, all of you, and remember! I am the legal owner of everything Shiromordov left behind. Yes, yes, according to the will! Anatolii Petrovich, please be kind enough to show the document... (LAPSHIN rummages in his briefcase.) VESELKO (cont’d) Therefore I suggest all unauthorized persons to leave the premises... And never carry on ambiguous conversations in my presence! Else you’ll regret it. SOTNIKOV What’s this? Who dares to threaten us? What insect is this? GEORGE It’s not even an insect, it’s a drunk flea! LAPSHIN Once again I ask everyone to be more polite to the heir of the vast estate...

I-21

(Shows everyone the document.) Here you are... And by the way, be more polite to my future wife. SOTNIKOV (In amazement.) Wh-at? Well, both Shiromordov and you bastard... What have you done... Now the devil will flog you in hell! GEORGE (Turns to ANNA.) I told you! How many times I warned you that your brother was an unreliable drunk. GALIA (Looks around in confusion.) Gennadii... But how is that? I can’t understand a thing. I don’t much understand either. PALYCH

SOTNIKOV Doesn’t matter, we’ll figure it out somehow.

II-1

Act Two
The curtain rises on the setting of an office. BOSS and ATTORNEY sit together. BOSS How could such a thing have happened? Where did you see it? (ATTORNEY mumbles something indistinct.) BOSS (cont’d) What kind of counsel are you after this? You’re a fossil, not a counsel. Well, you have say it. ATTORNEY

BOSS I call a spade a spade. How would you call it? You’re a fossil. You were duped, big time. ATTORNEY Who could have anticipated it? Such a thing couldn’t have entered a person’s head. BOSS How did Shiromordov think of it? You want to convince me that the deceased actually had a head on his shoulders? Besides, not an empty one? ATTORNEY I don’t know what to say. It turns out to be so. BOSS In my opinion, it turns out that your head’s as empty as his. This Shiromordov was a minion! A drunk, a womanizer, and at best, a small-time crook. Exactly why he was of value to us, why we kept him. You at least remember how he puffed up with importance when we bought him a doctorate? Would at least be a little smarter, at least got around to reading it through. And then, they say, he carried on such nonsense at security that he disgraced us. The creep came close to bragging to his mistress that he could easily make her an academic! Again at our expense. “I’ll secure you a career in science.” Got nowhere with that one! In short, it was difficult even to pull this Shiromordov up to a minion. No one would remember him now if he didn’t put on such a show. I’d like to see at least with my own eyes who put the idiot up to it. ATTORNEY So you want to say that he didn’t think up all of this?

II-2

BOSS Are you trying to infuriate me? How many times do I have to explain something to you? This Shiromordov was unable to think at all! Who would have moved him up if he had at least an organ for thinking? Times aren’t the same. Now the smart ones don’t get to move up but dragged under instead. ATTORNEY Well, indeed this is an overstatement... Hmm... Dragged under... BOSS What, isn’t that so? ATTORNEY Certainly not... Take you here, for example. You alone is worth all of us. BOSS Wh-at? I won’t hear this from you anymore. What did I say? ATTORNEY

BOSS You dared to evaluate my mental abilities. ATTORNEY Nothing of the kind! I only allowed myself to express my admiration of your great intellect! BOSS What, don’t you understand? If you continue in this vein, you’ll receive a salary according to the payroll. ATTORNEY How’s this? I really don’t understand. BOSS How much do you get on the payroll? (ATTORNEY approaches BOSS and whispers something in his ear.) BOSS There, that’s right. In rubles. Paid in rubles in the payroll. So, for bad behavior, this sum will be paid in rubles, not in greenbacks. (Confused.) ATTORNEY

II-3

You can’t do this to me. It’s too cruel. BOSS Really? Yes, I’ll die of hunger! ATTORNEY

BOSS Why don’t others die? They get several times less than this sum even in rubles... And even not all. ATTORNEY How can you compare that? Think, take a simple person with no needs and minimal demands, or... BOSS Or you? And what demands do you have, our not-so-simple person? What can’t you do without? Dry martinis? Or do you prefer brandy? Ah-h, I know! You love French Champagne, from the Madam! But have to be awfully drunk at the same time! So that they hop on the table and make faces at you and you throw caviar at them. Am I right, those are your demands? (Sigh.) You’re denouncing me again. ATTORNEY

BOSS I’m not preaching to you here. I’m reminding you of your tendency towards the occasional bout of drinking! Among other things, fraught with dangerous consequences for all of us. You’ve forgotten how during one such spree you reached such a state that you started seeing pink elephants! Forgotten how you were so frightened then that you ran to a cop paying him to save you? ATTORNEY It was just a misunderstanding. It can happen to anyone. BOSS Shut up! Don’t drive me crazy. Listening to you, our alcoholics are so loaded with money that they have to get rid of it from time to time by throwing it at cops... (Looks in the door.) Semen Semenych, Sotnikov is here. Can he come in? Alone? BOSS SECRETARY

II-4

SECRETARY No, some people with him. I don’t know them... But seem to me, so-so. BOSS Let him in alone. SECRETARY What about those who came with him? Offer tea, coffee? Or something stronger? BOSS Too much honor. They’ll be spoilt. ATTORNEY Exactly, they’ll be spoilt, let them do without. Let them just sit and twiddle their thumbs. SECRETARY OK. All the same to me just let them sit. Better for me... (Exits.) (SOTNIKOV enters.) BOSS Well, how’s it going? Come and sit down... Tell me. SOTNIKOV Tell you what? Everything... Tell me everything. I already told you everything. Really everything? Everything that I know. BOSS Then let’s take it from the top again. SOTNIKOV I have nothing to add. How could I know that Shiromordov managed to make three wills at once? BOSS SOTNIKOV BOSS SOTNIKOV

II-5

ATTORNEY Not just three. But three identical wills! Same date, only to different people. SOTNIKOV I wouldn’t say identical. They were notarized by different people. BOSS But one and the same date on all of them? SOTNIKOV The same! Same date. BOSS You’re sure? No mistake? Didn’t make it up yourself? SOTNIKOV Don’t believe me, can ask Alex. Possible it’s not made up. That’s what I also say. BOSS You say, you say... You say a lot! What a chatterbox we have here... Can even say a talker of local importance... Such a mess. Better sit and hold your tongue as you’re asked. SOTNIKOV (Offended.) Well, then. First talk then shut up... No understanding you. ATTORNEY (Laughs.) Watch, now he’ll cry! Sotnikov, what’s with you? Lost control of yourself? SOTNIKOV Sotnikov what? If someone needs something, then at once – Sotnikov! If something goes slight wrong, then Sotnikov’s guilty right away? Why Sotnikov here? There sits the attorney, ask him. He did the paperwork, let him explain how it could have happened. ATTORNEY BOSS SOTNIKOV

II-6

Nothing of the kind! I have to explain nothing. I’ve nothing to do with this awkward situation. BOSS Awkward situation, indeed! Imagine to yourself how much this awkward situation will cost us. SOTNIKOV He lies all the time, nail him! He prepared the papers, the devil knows how! And drove Shiromordov to the notary public... BOSS Just don’t understand... (Turns to ATTORNEY.) Where did you draw up the documents? ATTORNEY I...I don’t really remember... It was so long ago. What? What’s that? BOSS

ATTORNEY I...I...Please excuse me, I thought... I wanted, how better... But what’s the difference, really, where? BOSS (Turns to SOTNIKOV.) I remember you said that he staggered with the papers to some public institution? SOTNIKOV Yes, that’s the case. Palych described it. True, I wasn’t with them then. You know... BOSS I know, I know... By the way, where’s he now? SOTNIKOV Who, Palych? He’s here now, sitting in reception! Call him? Go, call him... (SOTNIKOV exits.) BOSS (cont’d) BOSS

II-7

Must call him right away. ATTORNEY Just be stricter with them, Semen Semenych. What do you mean, stricter? BOSS

ATTORNEY That one’s a liar! A shameless liar. Not a word can be trusted. BOSS Yea? And your words can be trusted? You’re our conscientious truth-seeker, perhaps? Better keep quiet... (PALYCH and SOTNIKOV enter.) (Smiles.) Good day, Semen Semenych! How are you feeling? You’re here too? (Puts out a hand, no one responds.) How do you do, Valentin Sergeevich? BOSS Just you look at him. It seems to be a good day for him. Must be so... But then it’s a very bad day for us. ATTORNEY Pay attention to how he cares for our health. You’d think that it’s of great importance to him... You almost drove us all to our graves! SOTNIKOV You just wait, he will yet. Can expect that from him and this one is even a comrade. Sotnikov! Sotnikov what? Am I wrong? BOSS Must admit that this time you’re right as never before. PALYCH (Wipes off the sweat.) ATTORNEY SOTNIKOV PALYCH

II-8

Perhaps I should sit down? Or is it better for me to stand? BOSS Why stand? Sit, sit... No reason to be on your feet. PALYCH (Settles on the edge of a chair.) Thank you, Semen Semenych. SOTNIKOV Just you look, what a cultured comrade! How well-bred. Politeness itself! Someone near him doesn’t know, can’t imagine how this gentleman showers his subordinates with swearing. PALYCH That’s slander! Yes, it had in fact happened a few times, raised my voice to a shout. Well, so what, it happens to everyone at work, you yourself understand. Sometimes the nerves just can’t stand up to the pressure... And it wasn’t my fault but negligent employees. SOTNIKOV (Laughs.) Raised his voice to a shout! Bruises don’t come from shouts, understand? People run out of your office with black eyes! See it myself. Indeed, intellectual... With a hairy soul. ATTORNEY And with fists... His are also hairy. (Surprised.) This is news to me. What, Sotnikov, does he really get into fights at work? SOTNIKOV Yes, all his minions felt this keenly! Indeed, what doesn’t suit him at work. Everything except the work itself. PALYCH Please don’t listen to them, Semen Semenych! It’s not true! BOSS As you say, Gennadii Pavlovich. Don’t listen, so we won’t. In fact, enough listening to these mockers. Come, we better listen to you... Come, come, don’t be shy. I’m all ears. Hear, hear! Let him talk. SOTNIKOV BOSS

II-9

ATTORNEY Just watch, doesn’t take this one much to lie. PALYCH But what exactly should I say? BOSS Everything, everything, Gennadii Pavlovich, everything to the smallest detail. Everything to do with drawing up the documents for you and Shiromodov. PALYCH Nothing special to tell. Simply they came to us and signed the documents. More, I don’t know. Wait, wait. Who are they? BOSS

PALYCH Valentin Sergeevich and this woman. ATTORNEY He lies all the time! I told you: he’ll lie! I’ve never been to his, not with any woman, not even with men. PALYCH How “never been” when in fact you did? Alex even drove you over then. He can back me up... (Jumps from the chair and runs to reception, yells to the door.) Alex! Alex! Come here, please! Please tell them that Valentin Sergeevich was at my place that time. BODYGUARD (Enters.) You called? BOSS Who? Us? No... But since you’re here, do answer a question: did you drive Valentin and the notary public to see Belochkin? BODYGUARD I did... Only they didn’t go to Belochkin but straight to Shiromordov. ATTORNEY (Triumphantly.) Heard that? Everyone heard that? (Points at PALYCH.)

II-10

Convinced that this character brazenly lies at every step? PALYCH What do you mean “lies”? What kind of stupidity you’re talking about? Shiromordov works in our organization. Worked, that is... Directly under me... Tell me, Alex, did you see the signboard? BODYGUARD (Uncertainly.) Well, yes... Seemed it was written there: director...of some institute. PALYCH (Joyfully.) That’s right, Alex! And this institute is right under our organization. You know, Semen Semenych... SOTNIKOV He calls this an institute! Modest comrade, say no more. Two old drunks sit, wear through their pants, and Shiromordov considered himself their boss. They always invited him as the third when they needed one. Paid himself a salary which could easily feed a dozen other specialists. PALYCH That’s not my problem! There was no agreement concerning specialists... (Turns to BOSS.) You yourself always said: our main task is to organize more legal entities and plant trusted people everywhere. ATTORNEY He trusted Shiromodov well! SOTNIKOV What’s this got to do with Shiromordov? The matter isn’t Shiromordov. He’d never have thought of it himself. BOSS You hear, Valentiin? It already dawned on Sotnikov that Shiromordov wasn’t behind this. Who then? ATTORNEY

BOSS This we have to try to find out... Alex, tell me, then you brought these two right to the entrance? BODYGUARD

II-11

Yes... Then I carried the briefcase for Valentin Sergeevich to Shiromodov’s office. BOSS Why? Valentin, What’s this news? ATTORNEY Why? I see nothing wrong with it. After all, I’m an attorney, have to keep up the reputation. If I don’t... What reputation? BOSS

ATTORNEY What reputation? Yours, of course, Semen Semenych! You’re our imposing one and you should have an imposing attorney too. How otherwise? SOTNIKOV (Derisively.) And who’s our imposing attorney? You, perhaps? BODYGUARD (In an undertone.) He’s an attorney like I’m a ballerina. PALYCH (Points at ATTORNEY.) There, Semen Semenych, you see! Now you understand what he is? BOSS What must I understand? That he’s a dimwit, though with his tongue hanging well? I know this already without you, and we pay him for this. True, I didn’t expect him to get so out of hand recently. Should have carried his own briefcase. Who does he think he is? (Turns to ATTORNEY.) You job, among other things, is to carry this briefcase with a significant look and from time to time make profound comments about nothing! So, you watch me. If you don’t deal with your official duties, we’ll soon find your replacement. ATTORNEY Who? Who will you find? SOTNIKOV Anyone we want. There, would even take Alex. No need to go further. ATTORNEY Sotnikov, don’t joke. Don’t forget, I have a diploma, a degree... Service record, after all.

II-12

SOTNIKOV Just think, a diploma. A problem, indeed. If we have to, tomorrow we’ll issue a diploma with a watch to Uncle Vania! As if it matters to us. PALYCH Why a diploma with a watch to him? SOTNIKOV Because, why you... and he... (Nods in the direction of ATTORNEY.) and Shiromordov were given the same. For work, that’s why. (Sternly.) Sotnikov! Behave yourself. BOSS

SOTNIKOV Pardon me, Semen Semenych, I got carried away. BOSS There you are... However, back to our cows. BODYGUARD (Surprised.) What cow? There was no cow there. (Smiles.) What, there wasn’t? Remember? Eh, Alex? SOTNIKOV

BODYGUARD (Also smiles.) Ah-h... No-o, only chicks... And all of only one. (Twists his head around.) What? What chicks? PALYCH

(Sternly.) Don’t digress! Alex! So, you and Valentin dropped into Shiromordov’s office? Who was there? BODYGUARD Shiromordov... And him... (Nods in the direction of PALYCH.)

BOSS

II-13

BOSS That was all? Nobody else there? BODYGUARD No, nobody else... Well, we went in. Valentin Sergeevich and I, and this... (Smiles.) And this chick with us...the notary public, that is. I just put down the briefcase and left right away. Where did you go? BOSS

BODYGUARD I immediately went to the car and waited for them there. PALYCH I definitely remember nothing about the briefcase. Perhaps it wasn’t there at all? ATTORNEY How wasn’t? So, I was but my briefcase wasn’t? Is that it? SOTNIKOV You listen to him more and he’ll tell a different story. I’m not me and the horse’s not mine. Listen to him for a while and even he’s not there, and Shiromordov was absent. BODYGUARD Shiromordov was definitely there! It seems he was sitting then, quite drunk, eating an apple and drinking water. I asked him for an apple and he gave me the finger, said, “Apples also cost money.” BOSS Okay, Alex, everything’s clear with you. You’re free to go. BODYGUARD I’m going then... (Exits.) BOSS So... The four of you remained in Shiromordov’s office after Alex left? That’s right, Semen Semenych. PALYCH BOSS

II-14

Well? What happened then? You sat and started to draw up the will together? So? PALYCH Not quite. I personally was not present with the drawing up. ATTORNEY How’s this “not present”? Then who celebrated this event with champagne? PALYCH That was already later! Much later. In fact, I went out during that time, you really don’t remember? SOTNIKOV Where did you go? Why? PALYCH Well... In a word, I needed to do something. SOTNIKOV Upset stomach, perhaps? ATTORNEY Why’s he lying? I had the upset stomach! BOSS Wait, wait, not all at once... So, Belochkin, you admit that you left Shiromordov’s office at the moment of the drawing up of the extremely important document... That’s right? Can you explain to us why? (Wipes out sweat.) I can... You see, I had a very important meeting right at that time. BOSS How so? What could be more important for you at that time? PALYCH You see, a foreign delegation came to us that day. So? What follows? BOSS PALYCH

PALYCH I simply had to meet it... In the line of duty... As the head of the host organization. You have a deputy for this! SOTNIKOV

II-15

These weren’t simple foreigners. What kind? Really gold?

PALYCH SOTNIKOV

PALYCH No need to be wicked. A very imposing American came to us then. SOTNIKOV What are you saying? What’s this American? Shoved a finger in the ass? Huh? Dragged out some four-pound shit from there? PALYCH (Looks down, embarrassed.)

No.

SOTNIKOV So, didn’t shove in anywhere, didn’t drag out anything? Why then are we still sitting in this shit? Wonders, pure and simple. PALYCH Not my fault, I swear to you! I simply couldn’t do otherwise! Besides, Valentin Sergeevich and the notary public were still there with Shiromordov. ATTORNEY You listen to him! Couldn’t do otherwise... Its me who couldn’t. BOSS (In amazement.) What couldn’t you? ATTORNEY Told you, I had an upset stomach. Whether you want it or not, had to withdraw quickly. Where to? SOTNIKOV

ATTORNEY Where to... Where do people go with an upset stomach? Where even the tsar walk to. BOSS And you dared leave Shiromordov alone with the notary public?

II-16

ATTORNEY (In a hurry.) No, no, not me! I didn’t! I left before Belochkin. Much earlier. What happened there without me, I can’t answer... Where’s the notary public? (Presses the call bell.) (Enters.) Yes? The notary public here yet? Yes, sitting in reception. Send him in. (SECRETARY exits.) BOSS (cont’d) Hmm... What a strange picture is emerging... (NOTARY PUBLIC enters.) Who are you? BOSS (cont’d) BOSS BOSS SECRETARY BOSS

SECRETARY

NOTARY PUBLIC (In a trembling voice.) Me? Elena Petrovna. PALYCH That’s her! She was the one with Valentin Sergeevich then, Semen Semenych! (Smiles.) How do you do, Elena Petrovna! ATTORNEY

SOTNIKOV (Sits up slightly and looks NOTARY PUBLIC all over in perplexity.) Valentin, what’s this? You really couldn’t find someone more serious?

II-17

ATTORNEY Why? The documents were drawn up faultlessly. SOTNIKOV If they were done faultlessly, why are we all gathered together today? As the speech goes... Not quite. What “not quite”? PALYCH Not quite that way. The speech goes “We are gathered here today... ” BOSS (In amazement.) What, is he always like this? Or just today? SOTNIKOV Even worse. Here he’s at least shy in front of strangers. ATTORNEY Semen Semenych, forget Belochkin, all the same you won’t get the truth out of him. Better ask Elena Petrovna what they did there in my absence. Elena Petrovna, please tell us what took place in Shiromordov’s office after I withdrew? NOTARY PUBLIC Where did you go, Valentin Sergeevich? Where the tsar walks to. Pardon me? ATTORNEY Elena Petrovna, I’m asking you, please be kind enough to tell us in detail what went on in Shiromordov’s office during our visit there. Do you remember? NOTARY PUBLIC (In embarrassment.) I...I...I don’t know. What don’t you know? BOSS SOTNIKOV NOTARY PUBLIC PALYCH BOSS

II-18

Nothing... Nothing I could do.

NOTARY PUBLIC

BOSS You could do nothing about what? I hope not the documents? NOTARY PUBLIC No, no, not the documents... My stomach. BOSS What? You too? NOTARY PUBLIC (Almost cries.) Not my fault... It’s Valentin Sergeevich... It’s him. He proposed dining in an exotic restaurant... I felt sick... Nothing I could do about myself. SOTNIKOV What time did you dine? Valentin? You have such dinners often? ATTORNEY What, do you propose that I go hungry? BOSS No one forces you to go hungry! But visiting an exotic restaurant before the signing of such important documents? It’s too much indeed... PALYCH I agree with you completely, Semen Semenych, it’s indeed too much! And they were even late! It’s because of them there was the misunderstanding with the foreign delegation. SOTNIKOV Ah, so that’s what it was! So, they’re all to blame? And you took offence and ran to give yourself up to the American? BOSS Sotnikov, enough going after Belochkin... So, Elena Petrovna, nothing you could do with yourself and so you left... (Laughs.) After Valentin Sergeevich... (Raises his voice.) SOTNIKOV

BOSS

II-19

Sotnikov! SOTNIKOV I’ll be quiet, Semen Semenych, I’ll be quiet. BOSS So, Elena Petrovna... Please don’t worry so much! It can happen to anyone. So, I hope you then took the documents with yourself? (Puzzled.) Documents? Why? BOSS (Pensively.) So... That means the documents remained in Shiromordov’s office... Where were they, do you remember? On the table? NOTARY PUBLIC (Confused.) I...I don’t remember. BOSS Belochkin, where were the documents? PALYCH How would I know? And why should I know? (Hysterically.) I saw these documents for the first time only when I put my signature on them! I was simply kept in reserve in case of emergency... (Lowers his voice.) As with Shiromordov... I still don’t know I became the heir of what... Or, perhaps, not of... Only why did you organize this scam? You wanted to hide something or hide for others... SOTNIKOV And you see how he got his hackles up. ATTORNEY Uh-huh. Now he’ll start to crow. PALYCH Stop! I won’t let you mock me! I’ll complain! NOTARY PUBLIC May I go? I really don’t know anything at all... NOTARY PUBLIC

II-20

SOTNIKOV Palych, you intend to complain to what authority? Start with whom? Our district? ATTORNEY No, that’s too minor for him. He’ll appeal to the Attorney General... Even better right to the Council of Europe. PALYCH Laugh, laugh... Just you don’t have to cry later. NOTARY PUBLIC May I go? I have to... You sit! No time for you now. ATTORNEY

SOTNIKOV (Slaps his forehead.) Listen! Why didn’t we think of it right away? He and Shiromordov arranged this when the two of them remained in the office! They came to an agreement and scanned all the documents! They had a scanner standing on the side there! We gave them the scanner, as corporate assistance... This basically changes things... BOSS Belochkin, what do you say to that? Was it so? PALYCH I already told you everything. I wasn’t there, I left for a meeting. SOTNIKOV Do you want to say that you left Shiromordov alone with the documents, next to the scanner? PALYCH Don’t you dare go after me! I’ve warned you. SOTNIKOV Enough! Don’t know about you, but I’m rather tired of it already... (Rolls up his sleeves and approaches PALYCH.) Do as you wish, Semen Semenych, but I’ll now teach this gentleman my own way... Our way... PALYCH (Almost squeals.) Don’t come near me! I’m not afraid of you! I’m not afraid of any of you! BOSS

II-21

Sotnikov, wait... Don’t make a fuss... For once he’s so brave... (Takes a few photos out of a drawer.) Interesting, is he also not afraid of these? Now, shove these under his nose. SOTNIKOV (Shows the photos to PALYCH.) Look, traitor! Pay attention... Well, what do you say? Still not afraid? BOSS If he still isn’t afraid, we can show him more... More substantial. PALYCH (Takes a good look at the photos.) Oh, my gosh... Please excuse me, Semen Semenych... I beg you, please forgive me... I beg you on my knees! (Gets down on his knees.) I just don’t know what has come over me today... Probably something with the nerves... I think I’m going to be sick... What if it’s complications after the flu? You’ve known me for a long time, Semen Semenych! I never contradict you in anything! Now I can’t recognize myself... Perhaps the secretary poisoned me with something in reception? She could! She could have slipped something into the glass, I drank it and lost control over myself! You interrogate her, she’ll own up, she has nowhere to go! Please excuse me, I’ll still be of use to you... GALIA (Shouts recklessly from the reception.) Who are you to stop me? (The door swings open. GALIA storms into the office. SOTNIKOV gets in her path, tries to stop her.) GALIA Out of the way! Leave me alone, I’m telling you! Where’s Gennadii? (Sees PALYCH on his knees.) Gennadii, why are you on your knees? Are you out of your mind? Get up now! (Runs to PALYCH and pushes him.) (PALYCH loses his balance and falls on his side. GALIA falls awkwardly onto PALYCH. SOTNIKOV and ATTORNEY try to help GALIA up.) GALIA (Beats them off and pulls the wig off ATTORNEY.) Don’t you dare touch me, pervert! Give me back my wig, bitch! ATTORNEY

II-22

(NOTARY PUBLIC tries to sneak quietly out of the office.) GALIA (Gets up with the wig in her hand.) What? Give you back your wig? Who’s going to give me back my dream? Dream of a wonderful life! In which I’ll be surrounded by beautiful things, not this damn replica! ATTORNEY You don’t even deserve replica! Give back the wig, I say! GALIA And who here deserves anything? You, perhaps? You don’t even deserve this lousy wig! (Opens the window and flings the wig out as PALYCH lifts himself a little off the floor.) As for you... (Whacks PALYCH in the ear with a fist and he falls like a sack.) ATTORNEY What have you done! Why did you throw away my wig? How am I to see people now? SOTNIKOV (Laughs.) No problem, cover yourself with a hand. BOSS Galina Iakovlevna, please calm yourself. Give us a chance to sort things out without your participation in this knotty matter. You’re only hindering us. GALIA Not for anything in the world! No way I’m leaving this fool alone with you, else he’ll do something again. SOTNIKOV He will, he will... Together with you... By the way, where’s our notary public? (Looks around.) Don’t know... Elena Petrovna was beside me all the time. BOSS I said: nobody leaves before we sort things out! What are you looking for? SOTNIKOV ATTORNEY

II-23

(Laughs.) His wig! ATTORNEY Please don’t worry yourself over Elena Petrovna, Semen Semenych. She won’t disappear from us. BOSS I don’t doubt that. But what are we supposed to do with the other notary publics? The ones who processed the wills for the other heirs? And what are we going to do with the heirs? There’s so little time left. SOTNIKOV You’re right, Semen Semenych, must act somehow. Well, act! Take action! (Perplexed.) BOSS ATTORNEY But what?

BOSS Think, think... Perhaps you’ll think of something.

III-1

Act Three
The curtain rises on the same scene as Act One. BODYGUARD (Enters, grumbling.) Study, study, study... Had to think up such stupidity? Where will you go? Where will you find such a thieves’ den? Well, okay. Am I really going to wear myself out? (Switches on a tape recorder, starts dancing to the sound of a tango, singing.) Ta-ta, ta-ta-ta, ta-ta, ta-ta-ta... ATTORNEY (Enters, a new wig of different color and style on his head.) How about that! Here’s a picture! No doubt it’s worth the brush of Titian. Or is it Rembrandt? No, of course, van Gogh! Exactly, van Gogh... Though, perhaps also not van Gogh but this... Well, the one who painted the girl on the ball? Alex, tell me, you know. BODYGUARD (Sings, dancing.) I don’t know this girl, I don’t know this girl... ATTORNEY Yes, you know! Remember, yesterday at the gallery? What’s his name, remember? Yesterday? BODYGUARD

ATTORNEY Yes, yesterday. Even the girl on the ball there. Ah-h... Picasso. There you are, exactly! Picasso. BODYGUARD (Continues to dance.) You’re right, Valentin Sergeevich... The girl in this Picasso, that’s it! Now if you could dance with them... Else, what does it matter? Have to dance by yourself. BODYGUARD ATTORNEY

III-2

ATTORNEY Yes, I agree with you, Alex. Can’t dance the tango alone. BODYGUARD I know you can’t, but what can you do? Nothing you can do when there’s no one to dance with... Indeed not with you! Why did you think so, Alex? (Smiles.) Why not with me? Better with me than alone... (Dances with BODYGUARD.) VESELKO (Enters with SOTNIKOV.) Ah, what wonderful music! I haven’t heard such music for a long time... With what joy I’d dance now... Forget everything in the world... All troubles... SOTNIKOV Very true, Angelika Ivanovna. Troubles exist to be forgotten... I beg you... Your hand! VESELKO Sotnikov, you can be so charming... And it seems to me that I can feel like a woman with you. SOTNIKOV And why wouldn’t it be, Angelika Ivanovna? (SOTNIKOV dances BODYGUARD.) (Enters.) with BOSS (Sternly.) What’s this? What occasion for a dance? (The dancing stops.) BODYGUARD You yourself ordered to learn to dance the tango. BOSS Why? BODYGUARD Eh... In order to be a companion for the right people just in case. VESELKO and ATTORNEY with ATTORNEY

III-3

ATTORNEY What’s this? That’s a very progressive idea, Semen Semenych. By the way, it seems to me that Alex, like no other, is suitable for this. BOSS What? I said, for the wife to be a companion of the right person... I repeat: for the wife. (Exits through the other door.) ATTORNEY (Disappointedly.) Ah, the wife... Then it’s not very progressive. BODYGUARD (Puzzled.) What’s he talking about? SOTNIKOV The bathhouse, Alex, the bathhouse. The bathhouse is sacred to Valentin Sergeevich. VESELKO Ugh, how inappropriate! Indeed, guys. What bathhouse are you talking about? You don’t talk about such things in the presence of women. SOTNIKOV Why, Angelika Ivanovna? Why not bathhouse in the presence of women? VESELKO Because a man should go to a woman only after the bathhouse! Clean, cleanshaven, clothes well pressed... And shoes always polished! BODYGUARD (Amazed.) How? Shoes right after the bathhouse? VESELKO What, you don’t hear too good? I said, not only shoes but polished shoes! ATTORNEY (Sighs.) How lucky I’m free from such obligations. VESELKO (Sternly.) Quite in vain. What, Valentin Sergeevich, you’re really not a man?

III-4

Oho! Alright, problem. (Hesitates.)

BODYGUARD ATTORNEY

Eh-h-h...

SOTNIKOV He wants to say that he should thoroughly mulls over the answer to this question. ATTORNEY Not need for that! No need... By the way, I’m married. And already more than a dozen years. VESELKO Your wife isn’t to be envied. Neither joy nor satisfaction from you. ATTORNEY (Surprised.) You know my wife? Did she tell you that? VESELKO Doesn’t even have to. Obvious right away. How? Your absurd wig alone is worth it. ATTORNEY What’s this about my wig? Besides, it’s not mine. Mine was ruined by a... Unimportant who. VESELKO What do you need a wig anyway? Men don’t wear wigs. ATTORNEY Well, you know, dear Angelika Ivanovna... We can go so far beyond this. For example, I’m convinced that women don’t wear pants. But aren’t you wearing them? So, if we follow your logic, you’re not a woman, but... But not clear what. VESELKO An outrage! How vulgar... A redneck and nothing more! ATTORNEY ATTORNEY VESELKO

III-5

Well, what of it, and thank you for that. VESELKO You have no shame! ATTORNEY Thank you, thank you. Thank you for the kind words. VESELKO You get no kindness from me, don’t hold your breath! ATTORNEY I’m deeply grateful to you for that, Angelika Ivanovna. VESELKO No need for compliments! Wouldn’t fall for that! OK, enough of you two. SOTNIKOV

BODYGUARD Doesn’t matter, let them go at each other. It’s even interesting to listen when people are entertaining. ATTORNEY I’m not a clown. If Angelika Ivanovna wants to be a clown, then let her amuse you. VESELKO I won’t let anyone insult me! That’s it, I’m leaving... (Prepares to leave.) BOSS (Enters.) Don’t even dream of it. You’re not going anywhere until we’ve solved all the problems with you. VESELKO How’s this not leaving? What, you’re going to tie me up? BOSS If we have to... SOTNIKOV So? We can, for the good of business. VESELKO

III-6

Sotnikov, what a dolt you are! Constantly run into trouble. You think that Anatolii Petrovich doesn’t know where I currently am? He knows perfectly well and will search for me here without fail. SOTNIKOV You’re sure about this? VESELKO Hundred percent! As different from you, Anatolii Petrovich is a decent man! He’s a true gentleman! BODYGUARD Who? Lapshin a gentleman? He’s a deputy in the Administration! ATTORNEY Alex, you’re straight forward as a babe among us. SOTNIKOV That’s why he’s right. From the mouth of babes, as they say... BOSS (Pensively.) Yes... A gentleman in such a position? The two things don’t jibe. VESELKO You’ll see how horribly mistaken you are! Anatolii Petrovich isn’t like what you think. He’s a decent man, devoted to me body and soul. Devoted to me alone and no one else! BOSS I’m sorry to say that I thought he’s only devoted to one idea. VESELKO What’s that? BOSS Utmost enrichment by means of infinite absence of principles. VESELKO Not true! He’s the most principled deputy, you mark my word! And an angel compare to those around him! You don’t believe me? BOSS Why, Angelika Ivanovna? I willingly believe this. True, there’re things I not only believe but are very well-informed about. For example, it’s well-known to me that Anatolii Petrovich regularly sent his daughter on budget funds to Europe and America. The official goal of the world tours of this, I beg your pardon, rather

III-7

stupid girl is the demonstration of materials non-existent in nature for further extension of the contracts on the development of such materials. You must agree that the goal is ridiculous compared to the funds regularly invested by the State in this girl. Of course, this fact by itself is unlikely to be worth any special attention if it didn’t provoke indignation in the pseudo-scientific circles. And the indignation is justified since just the funds spent on the excursions of the young offspring of this, as you maintain, decent papa, would be enough to repay with interest the financing of an excellent lab, which the papa himself so cares for in words. Look closer at the noble family and you can’t avoid the question connected with the existence of the extensive pharmacy chain under the leadership of Anatolii Petrovich’s noble wife. By the way, Angelika Ivanovna, your rival, his legal wife. Where did this new financial genius come from? I know for certain that quite recently she was listed as an ordinary physiotherapist in a factory clinic. I agree in advance with anyone who considers such facts minor details of our lives. Trifles, however, have the ability to add up. Therefore, we add up the free apartments your gentleman gets from the State, and not just one, which are privatized under the names of his daughter, his present wife, and even his papa, a war veteran. It would have looked quite okay if certain details were not known. For example, that papa-veteran all through the war toiling on increased ration in the district committee beyond the Urals. Though I perhaps got carried away. Stories of this kind can go on forever, but I’m not a fan of this. I’m even prepared to forget everything said and agree with you that Anatolii Petrovich is indeed an angel if we compare his activities with what his colleagues and associates are up to. And what are you yourself up to? What are we up to? VESELKO What, you consider yourself angels? You’re the real devils! BOSS Think I’m forced to agree with you, Angelika Ivanovna. I’ll confess to you frankly, would like to be in paradise but sins aren’t allowed there. No, don’t put us there. SOTNIKOV Doesn’t matter, Semen Semenych, they won’t let her in either. She’ll burn in hell together with us. VESELKO Nothing of the kind! Won’t let me in... By the way, I go to church every Sunday. BODYGUARD So? What’s the big deal? I go too, so what? VESELKO SOTNIKOV

III-8

VESELKO Go as much as you like! Go everyday. What do I care? BOSS Why not? After all, Alex is your brother in Christ. VESELKO Some brother, indeed... To hell with this brother! BOSS True, Alex, what are you doing here? Already no time to spare and haven’t seen Shiromodov’s sister. Go for her. BODYGUARD As you order. ATTORNEY He can’t handle her alone. She can give him one on the head. He definitely needs help. Perhaps I’ll go with him? Why you? BODYGUARD

ATTORNEY What, are you against it? We’ll have a good time. BODYGUARD Unlikely I’ll be bored without you. BOSS Sotnikov goes with Alex. Come on, take the car, and fast. Valentin, I’ll need you here... LAPSHIN Hello. (Enters.) ATTORNEY Look, our angel flew in! SOTNIKOV Aha... Look at how he flaunt his wings... (Turns to LAPSHIN.) What will you tell us, angel? What news did you bring from the Man Upstairs? (Exits together with BODYGUARD.)

III-9

LAPSHIN (Puzzled.) What’s he talking about? (Sees BOSS and breaks into a smile.) Oh-h-h! Semen Semenych... What a pleasant surprise... I didn’t dare hope to meet you like this, can say, simply in a home setting... BOSS But we’re not quite simple here. Don’t delude yourself. VESELKO Anatolii Petrovich, don’t trust them! Especially this...Semen Semenych! He was just slandering you so... Simply horrible! Even took my breath away. LAPSHIN Semen Semenych, I dare hope that you wouldn’t take the words of this...how to express more intelligently...ignorant woman seriously. BOSS I also never take your words seriously. LAPSHIN (Laughs.) Ha-ha-ha-ha! How funny! I’m glad, I’m glad... ATTORNEY What are you so happy about, our wingless angel? LAPSHIN You’re joking right, Valentin Sergeevich? Also very funny... (Laughs.) Wingless angel... Had to come up with that... But why precisely me? ATTORNEY I didn’t think it up. It’s Angelika Ivanovna who baptized you. She decided and put you among ephemeral beings, despite your obvious chubbiness. She said, “Anatolii Petrovich is an angel,” and that’s it! And we, well, all as one, are devils. VESELKO Certainly devils! Only missing the tails. And I’m mum about the horns. LAPSHIN Angelika Ivanovna, come to your senses! You said such things to Semen Semenych? What’s with you? VESELKO It’s you who should come to your senses, Anatolii Petrovich! You’re a man of

III-10

position! And what position? Please think: who are you and who is he, this Semen Semenych known to no one? ATTORNEY Please allow me to correct you, Ms Veselko, and bring clarity to our business at the same time. Anatolii Petrovich isn’t a man of position but in a position. He was put in this position, understand? He sits in it. And sits well! And will sit until we interfere. And he won’t interfere with us, I so simple-mindedly assume. He isn’t a man to interfere. There’s no need for him to, so bubbling with life. Moreover, he knows what happens to one who interferes. Please take note, one who interferes will salvage neither his wit, honor, conscience, nor even credits towards the fatherland! But all these have absolutely no significance. Only one thing is important, that this person, put in the position, doesn’t interfere. And indeed if this person will begin to understand everything he should with half a word, half a hint, without any written instructions, understand everything expected of him... You see, he’ll be moved to a different position. He’ll be taken so gently by the hand and transferred to a different chair with more expensive upholstery, and better opportunities. If he, God forbid, turns out not to catch on quickly or unmanageable... Or simply, this can happen to anyone, have a weakness for some floozy... He’ll be gone from any position in no time! Whether the position is big or the most miserable, it’s indistinguishable under the microscope... Did I paint the picture correctly, Semen Semenych? BOSS Roughly, yes. Your tongue hangs well, Valentin. That’s what we pay you for. ATTORNEY Great thanks to you... But can’t pay more somehow, Semen Semenych? Valentin, don’t push it. BOSS

ATTORNEY Just joking, Semen Semenych, just joking. BOSS Yes, I see that you’re joking, that’s why I forgive you. But regarding Anatolii Petrovich, here I really don’t get whether he’s joking with us or going seriously all out against us. LAPSHIN What all out, Semen Semenych? Why are you this way with your humble servant? For me, it’s indeed the greatest joy to behold you in such, one can say, intimate surroundings. So what kind of joke is this? BOSS Did you hear, Valentin? He said he’s not making fun of us. Is he simply mocking

III-11

us? LAPSHIN (Throws up his hands.) What do you mean? God forbid! VESELKO Anatolii Petrovich, I fail to understand your behavior. BOSS Just imagine, Angelika Ivanovna, we also can’t understand Anatolii Petrovich’s behavior. How to understand the behavior of a man, as we all know here, in such a high position, already with a wife and a grown daughter, a man who suddenly declares publicly that he has a fiancée? And this fiancée is just about to become his wife! Excuse me, gentlemen, but we aren’t yet living in a Muslim country. You understand, it doesn’t become an official to have a second wife, it’s no joke. Especially, I beg your pardon, such... (Nods in the direction of VASELKO.) However, what to say, everything’s so clear without words. VESELKO What’s clear? What’s clear to you? How can you be so conceited? Please remember once and for all that he loves me! And love is the feeling that pierces a man quickly and thoroughly, like lightning! After that, there’re no family ties, no obligations to society! BOSS Ah, is that so? In that case, I offer you my apologies, Angelika Ivanovna. I’m prepared to take my words back and acknowledge that I underestimated you. Without a doubt, love is a feeling that justifies everything without exception. If so, if there’s actually love, then I’m prepared to kiss your hand gladly. Not only kiss your hand, but get on my knees and lower my head in front of you as soon as I see that you’ll stay forever with Anatolii Petrovich, deprived of his post and all his regalia in one stroke! And forever feel love like a current running through all your organs... VESELKO How’s this that he’s deprived of his post? Who would do that to him? Who can take away his title and awards? Indeed not you? ATTORNEY You think we can’t do that to Anatolii Petrovich? You think we’ll be too timid? You don’t have the power! VESELKO ATTORNEY

III-12

You think so? We can, indeed we can... And will, if he doesn’t change his mind... Well, what will you say to that? Will you want him then? VESELKO (In confusion.) I...I don’t know... I haven’t thought about it... (Rouses herself.) No, No! It’s just not possible! BOSS Anatolii Petrovich, did you hear? Angelika Ivanovna just can’t imagine you without your position, titles, and other insignia. I dare assume that you, in turn, can’t imagine Angelika Ivanovna without her so-called inheritance from Shiromordov. Am I right? Eh, Anatolii Petrovich? Just be honest. LAPSHIN (In confusion.) But... You won’t blame me for this? After all, not I but she proposed this option to me. Who in my place wouldn’t be tempted? It seemed to me then that good fortune has finally floated into my hands... And, I’ll admit to you honestly, Semen Semenych, there was never ardent feelings between my wife and me. If fact, Father in his own time sought her out for me, guided by some of his own reasons. But, Semen Semenych, here’s my cross! I also had no idea that this Shiromordov was capable of such! What a scoundrel! Repay your kindness this way? Simply inconceivable! I implore you, please help me out of this sticky situation. BOSS I understand your agitation, but I can’t allow myself to reassure you in vain, Anatolii Petrovich. Alas, even Semen Semenych isn’t omnipotent. He has his own Semen Semenych above him... But there’s still something we can do for you, taking into account your whole-hearted repentance and sincere desire to cooperate with us. LAPSHIN I’ll do anything! Anything I need to do! You can rely on me. BOSS That’s wonderful. Valentin, explain what’s expected of him. ATTORNEY Anatolii Petrovich, here’s the deal... (Takes out a notebook.) Actually, nothing... But here you’ll receive such a sum for this... (Writes on a clean sheet and shows LAPSHIN.) Besides, in cash and immediately. You see, all the wills bear one and the same date. Now, Anatolii Petrovich, all that’s expected of you is to specify also the time on your copy. We’ll say, for certainly, it’ll be... 9:15. And the money is yours.

III-13

Good, good, I agree. I hope you have the will at hand?

LAPSHIN BOSS LAPSHIN

(Hastily.) Yes, yes. Of course I have. Angelika Ivanovna isn’t knowledgeable about these matters. VESELKO Excuse me, Anatolii Petrovich... Something I don’t understand you very well... Have you decided to betray me? LAPSHIN Why betray? On the contrary, save! Both you and me... I won’t betray you at all, why would you think so? I’m just... I’m dropping you. Please don’t get excited, it often happens between a man and a woman. VESELKO Just like that? Whenever you want? I’m not some candy wrapper! ATTORNEY Please calm down, Angelika Ivanovna. Anatolii Petrovich isn’t betraying you but for money. Besides, he’ll retain his position. VESELKO So, money and position for him. But what about me? BOSS Please don’t worry, Angelika Ivanovna, you won’t be let down. There’s money for you too. ATTORNEY Angelika Ivanovna, you’ll get... (Writes on a clean sheet and shows VESELKO.) Such a sum... I hope it’s agreeable to you? VESELKO No! Add fifty more. (Looks at BOSS.) Twenty. ATTORNEY

III-14

VESELKO Twenty-five. BOSS (Interrupts the bargining.) Thirty. That’s it, all agree. As the Germans say – abgemaht. Cash only! No banks! VESELKO ATTORNEY (Smiles.) Of course. Nice to do business with people in the know. BOSS Valentin, come on, quickly finish with Angelika Ivanovna and return. ATTORNEY Will do, Semen Semenych... Please come, Angelika Ivanovna, no time to waste. VESELKO Let’s go... (Turns to LAPSHIN.) And you, Anatolii Petrovich... You will regret this! You’ll never meet such a woman in your life... God will punish you... He will... So that both of your heads would work equally badly! (Twitches with fright.) You don’t say... What a terrible curse... (Escorts VESELKO out.) ATTORNEY

BOSS Have a seat, Anatolii Petrovich... What will you drink? LAPSHIN Don’t know... To tell the truth, after all the worries, I have no particular desire... All the same, as you see fit. BOSS Don’t you worry. After we settle everything, we’ll still have fun together... We’ll have a good laugh. If not? If we can’t settle? LAPSHIN BOSS

III-15

Well, then we’ll be laughed at for sure. LAPSHIN Why? BOSS Because, Anatolii Petrovich, no one will cry over us. LAPSHIN How’s this no one? Relatives? Friends, acquaintances? Colleagues, after all? Certainly the ones in this with us. BOSS (With doubt.) Certainly... Of course they’ll cry... Perhaps, even howl... (There is a grievous cry and BODYGUARD and SOTNIKOV barge in, carrying ANNA between them.) ANNA Ah-h-h! No, I don’t agree! No, I’m not going! Not for anything! BODYGUARD Here, Semen Semenych, fulfilled the assignment... Brought you Anna Averianovna... SOTNIKOV Brought her, like some wild bird! ANNA I’ll show you a bird! You sly one! I’ll make you sit up! (Stamps hard on SOTNIKOV’s foot.) SOTNIKOV (Cries out.) Ouch! What are you doing? It hurts! ANNA (Stamps on BODYGUARD ’s foot.) I’ll make you sit up too! (Breaks free from BODYGUARD and SOTNIKOV.) BODYGUARD (Jumps.) Ouch! Why me? I dance like that all day! BOSS

III-16

Alex, this lady didn’t exactly have dance in mind. BODYGUARD Then why? Why did she tread on my foot? What have I done to her? ANNA What? Broke into my home, that’s one! Grabbed and overpowered me, that’s two! Dragged me here, that’s three! Without my permission, that’s four! Besides, the two of you, that’s five! SOTNIKOV But what do you have so solidly against me? ANNA Everything! Everything! I don’t like you, too smart... Not a person at all but a fox! LAPSHIN Strange... And I always thought that a fox is cunning. ANNA Good Lord, he thought! Get out of here! A turkey also thinks but it ends up in the soup. What can you think about? LAPSHIN (Indignantly.) How dare you! Do you realize whom you’re talking to? ANNA And why not? With Tolik, the latest betrothed of the mistress of my late brother, Boris Averianovich Shiromodov! And who is thinking of getting married without being divorced first! LAPSHIN It’s a lie! BOSS Dear Anna Averianovna, your indignation is fair and fully justified, but somewhat belatedly. Anatolii Petrovich, to general satisfaction, had changed his mind and returned to eternal, that is to say, universal values. BODYGUARD Value is good, eternal value is even better! BOSS Alex, what’s this I hear? It appears that you have a head like Spinoza’s. BODYGUARD

III-17

(Offended.) No, I don’t have splinters in my head. BOSS And what if you do? All the same you wouldn’t be worse. SOTNIKOV Exactly, wouldn’t be worse, but also not necessarily better for us. What do you want from me? ANNA

BOSS In essence, the same as from Anatolii Petrovich. Not too much and in return you can get something, and very significant. Anatolii Petrovich was so pleased with this something that he quickly forgot about everything in the world. Even his ardent love for Ms Vesleko, which flared up so suddenly in him. SOTNIKOV And Ms Veselko herself? She didn’t object? BOSS She also couldn’t object. You see, she thoughtlessly entrusted the document to Anatolii Petrovich. Therefore, she had no choice but to agree to our very reasonable offer. Naturally, for a modest fee. (ATTORNEY enters.) BOSS And here’s Valentin Sergeevich. I hope everything went smoothly? Like silk. ATTORNEY

BOSS Good, time to wrap things up. So, we proceed to the final stage. What do you think, will there be complications with this client? (Nods in ANNA’s direction.) ATTORNEY Hard to predict in advance. So far, everything’s going according to plan. Can say gotten rid of one of the heirs. Have to get to work on the remaining two... ANNA (Screams.) Ah-h-h! Not so easy to get rid of me! I’m not Veselko! Damn murderers! Only try! Ah-h-h! Don’t come near me! George will come with the cops now!

III-18

Why the cops?

BODYGUARD

ANNA To save me from you, you sharks! Don’t think you can take me with your bare hands! I’m not as simple as you think! I’ve already insured my life against you! SOTNIKOV For how much, if it’s not a secret? ANNA How much? I need nothing! If, God forbid, anything should happen to me, you all will go begging under guard! So there, my dears. LAPSHIN Please calm down, Anna Averianovna. No need to shout so loudly. Better look at me...see? I’m alive and well, and sincerely wish the same for you. ATTORNEY Precisely. He’s alive and well, our former heir. And how well! Only look at him. Doesn’t even have a cough. ANNA Perhaps he doesn’t cough, but what about his pussy with ears? Did she have a coughing fit? ATTORNEY Unfortunately, she’s no longer among us. She has already left us, and quite voluntarily... ANNA (Screams even louder.) Ah-h-h! Holy Mother of God! Really killed her? Strangled her, you tyrants! Ah-hh-h! BOSS Be quiet, you crazy broad! ANNA I may be a broad, but you can’t get the better of me so simply! Ah-h-h! (Starts to run around the room.) Somebody, help! BOSS Sotnikov, close the door quickly! Else someone accidentally pops in, then there’ll be hell to pay... And you, Alex, watch Lapshin, he’s not to be trusted...

III-19

ANNA I’ll dart out! Have to get out! (Runs to the door, but intercepted there by SOTNIKOV.) ATTORNEY Hold her! Maybe tie her up just in case? BOSS Yes, wouldn’t interfere then. Will be quicker and more reliable. SOTNIKOV (Grabs ANNA.) No need to shout... (Covers ANNA’s mouth with a hand, and pushes her forward.) We have no intention of harming you... ANNA (Bites SOTNIKOV’s fingers.) I’ll shout! You’re not covering my mouth with your filthy paw! Aw, she bites! Now I’ll show you! SOTNIKOV

ATTORNEY Only no violence! I can’t stand violence. (Seats ANNA on a chair.) Uh-huh, without violence... Would have tried... (ANNA butts his stomach with her head.) Aw! Well, now, how can you do it without violence? Tie her to the chair... Help him. BOSS SOTNIKOV

(SOTNIKOV and ATTORNEY tie ANNA to the chair.) ANNA Torturers! Rapists! Assassins of the human race! LAPSHIN Semen Semenych, please note that I in my position don’t have the right to participate in acts of violence against a person. You know, in my official duty I have to be in charge of things, including the issue of human rights... BODYGUARD

III-20

(Turns to ANNA.) Don’t be scared! Nothing will happen to you... Gag her! BOSS

ATTORNEY Would be good... Only with what? (Looks around, takes a serviette from the table and shoves it into ANNA’s mouth.) SOTNIKOV Phew! Managed somehow... What a broad... A beast, not a woman... (The phones rings, answer it.) Hello? Yes... Yes... Semen Semenych, it’s for you. They say it’s urgent. You take it? (Holds out the phone.) (Takes the phone.) Hello... Yes... Yes... What? It can’t be! All the problems have been solved... What? How not? Hard to believe! (Turns to the others.) Quick, turn on the TV! (Speaks into the phone.) Hello! What channel? Eight? What? Ten? Good, I’ll call back later... (Puts down the phone and runs with everyone else to the TV.) VOICE FROM TV As is known, available on the Internet there is a site, which brings forth information with reliable documentary evidences on major frauds of real estate and bank accounts. In particular, documents were presented on ownership through figureheads with the mandatory official registration of wills to other figureheads. This way, for a long time the swindlers managed to avoid the levying of progressive taxes. Only an absurd coincidence, or, as some analysts believe, a possible error of the operators after the mysterious death of one of the figureheads, resulting in the presentation of three wills with the same date to different heirs, enables putting an end to their sacrilegious game. The Attorney General’s Office is conducting an investigation. Now onto other news... Turn it off. What will happen now? BOSS (Makes a call on his cell phone.) BOSS ATTORNEY BOSS

III-21

Hello? Airport? When’s the next flight? To where? Anywhere! Where? Greece? Any earlier flight? Spain? I see... How do things stand with Cyprus? Find, okay... No, no! An open ticket... Yes... Yes... Reserve for one... Who is this? This is Semen Semenych! (Hastily.) Semen Semenych, please reserve a ticket for me too. BOSS I don’t have time, do it yourself. You know what to do in this case. SOTNIKOV Plan Z? (Nods.) We’ll meet later. Alex, quick, the car and to the airport. Right away, Semen Semenych... (Exits quickly with BOSS.) BODYGUARD BOSS SOTNIKOV

SOTNIKOV Bye, Valentin! Remember me kindly... God’s will, we’ll meet again... (Exits.) (Confused.) And me? Do I go too? Where’s the money promised me? ATTORNEY (Fleeing.) What, are you an idiot? What money? Have to clear out! LAPSHIN How absurd... Only how was this known... Hope Velselko didn’t let the cat out of the bag... Still, what are they afraid of? Who would believe her? Just have to shove her somewhere far away... So it would be out of sight, out of mind... (Exits.) (Runs in shouting.) Ah-h-h! My Annie! You’re alive? No one got you mad? (Tries to untie ANNA.) I just got back from the cottage, look around, but you were nowhere to be found. Turned the place upside down, ran to the neighbors. Good that Barbara from the GEORGE LAPSHIN

III-22

first entrance saw how they took you away... (Hugs ANNA.) I was so afraid for you, Annie! What would I do without you? (Pulls the serviette out of ANNA’s mouth and kisses her.) ANNA (Breaks away, unwillingly.) George, did you water the cucumbers? Must have forgotten again? GEORGE My dear, what cucumbers? Let’s get out of here quickly! The devil takes everything...

End

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