Delirium Russian Style

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

Delirium Russian Style by Natalya Churlyaeva

CHARACTERS
ZINA: a housewife. JULIE: ZINA’S friend and neighbor. BORIS: ZINA’S husband. ZABULDYGINA: an elderly woman. LALA: TV correspondent. GEORDIE: TV cameraman. HERMAN: a person of unknown origin.

Delirium Russian Style by Natalya Churlyaeva

SETTING
The action takes place in Zina’s apartment.

TIME
The present.

SYNOPSIS
A man has a run-in with an elderly woman at a bus stop, but his wife does not believe his story. Instead, she accuses him of having an affair with their next-door neighbor and her good friend who is visiting her. The man finds a witness of the incident and brings him home. Meanwhile, the elderly woman, who happens to be the mother of a prominent member of society, decides to get even and breaks into their home after summoning the media. The witness turns out to be an extraterrestrial agent sent to Earth, thus giving the media a field day.

Delirium Russian Style by Natalya Churlyaeva

I-1

Act One
Sitting at the dresser, ZINA applies makeup to one side of her face. ZINA The-ere. Very good…or not very? Of course it is, simply remarkable! Although no, it’s completely not remarkable. Who do you want to deceive, Zina? Yourself? Indeed, it’s been a long time since you were young… Well, even if it’s so? And what’s this not young? Better to say far from being old. You’re only… Never mind… So that there’ll be nothing to fear. Let’s take the new shadow… (Picks up a bottle.) How bright! They say these aren’t in vogue anymore… Never mind, let’s, try isn’t torture… (Examines half of her face in the mirror.) Hmm… It seems not bad… And if we add a little of the old shadow? There… Already better… Interesting, how will the eyeliner look against this background? Horrid! Never learn to line the eye my whole life… Okay, that’ll do… If we still pencil it a little more, then it won’t show that I never learned… (Looks in the mirror.) No! Doesn’t quite work. Have to make it more striking… Have to be thicker… So the eye would seem bigger… Can leave it like this… Now the lashes… Let’s see what mascara we have… (Paints the lashes of one eye.) There! Done with one eye… Wow! Not bad, the eye really turned out! Hmm… The eye’s so striking, but no eyebrows… What to do? Where to get eyebrows if there aren’t any? Just have to draw them… They say eyebrows are in fashion now… There… Don’t know if it’s good, but on the whole, if we consider it together with the eye, it seems it turned out pretty well… If, of course, we don’t pay any attention to the fact that I’m terribly pale… Even rather grey! Need to apply a little more blush… There… Seems excessive. So, I’m no longer grey but almost crimson… Phew! Ends with powder… Okay, we’ll do the lips for now, and then we’ll see… (Puts on lipstick.) Bad, of course, that my lips are thin… Ah, how I would like to have full lips! So that all the guys would lick theirs when I walk down the street… That’s what I need, lips… (Someone rings the doorbell. ZINA jumps in alarm and it becomes clear that half of her face is badly smeared while the other half looks very pale.) ZINA (cont’d) Oh! Who could this be? I expect no one, Boris has gone out for a long time… No, no, I won’t open the door! You never know what…

I-2

(BORIS appears after some time.) ZINA It’s you? How you scared me... Returned already? BORIS Why didn’t you open the door? Too lazy to go to the door? ZINA What’s with you, like a mad dog on the loose? An icicle fell on you? BORIS What icicle? (Looks attentively at ZINA, tries to figure out what is wrong.) What’s with an icicle? ZINA Why are you looking at me like that? BORIS Nothing. It seems to me that there’s something different about you. What? ZINA

BORIS Can’t say what right away, but I think you look somewhat strange. ZINA There’s nothing strange about me. BORIS You’re sure about this? Well, you know better. Don’t talk to me in that tone. ZINA

BORIS What tone? I’m talking to you in the usual tone. ZINA Exactly, the usual. Insult me as usual, mock me as usual... BORIS I don’t insult and I don’t mock.

I-3

ZINA Yes, you do! You constantly mock me. How do I mock you? BORIS

ZINA Over anything. Anyway you can. Sadist! Don’t talk to me that way. I’m not talking to you in any way. Yes, you do! BORIS BORIS ZINA

ZINA No, I don’t! And I don’t intend to talk. Great if you shut up. BORIS

ZINA And don’t you tell me what and what not to do! Look at that, what has he become... BORIS And according to you, what have I become? A tyrant! Me? A tyrant? Yes, you! Precisely, a tyrant! Zina, I refuse to understand you. ZINA Here understand something else. Should take a look at yourself from someone else’s eyes. ZINA BORIS ZINA BORIS

I-4

BORIS Why? To see how ridiculous you are. ZINA

BORIS You look at yourself! (Finally notices ZINA’S unnatural skin tone and starts to laugh aloud.) Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! ZINA Why are you laughing? I didn’t say anything funny. BORIS Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! ZINA Stop it right now! You hear? Shut up! Don’t you dare make fun of me! BORIS Zina, I’m not! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! I just can’t stop! You remind me of a clown! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! No need to go to the circus with you... ZINA You never take me there! BORIS Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Why to the circus? ZINA You never take me anywhere at all! BORIS Listening to you, I spend days sitting near you. ZINA The problem is that you’re not near me. If you’d sit near me, there would be more sense from you. BORIS Do you want to say there’s little sense from me? There’s no sense from you at all. ZINA BORIS

I-5

Do you want to say that you have a worthless husband? Do you want to say that? ZINA What, isn’t it really so? BORIS Why do you live with me if I’m so bad? ZINA Why bad? Because you said so. Me? Yes, you! You just said so. BORIS BORIS ZINA

ZINA Don’t make things up. I couldn’t have said that to you. BORIS How “couldn’t” if you just did? I heard it with my own ears. ZINA You couldn’t have heard it with your ears. BORIS So, you think I can’t hear with my ears already? Then why do they grow on my head? Ears don’t grow on the head. Then what are they doing there? They stick out. Look at your own ears! Why? ZINA ZINA BORIS ZINA BORIS

I-6

BORIS You think they’re glued to the back of your head? Like antennae, turning in different directions! Don’t babble nonsense. I don’t have such a habit. ZINA Then why do you say like antennae? BORIS Because. ZINA Do you want to say that I have big ears? BORIS What, are they small perhaps? If things go in one ear and out the other... ZINA Loudmouth! Mama always told me that my ears are small and pretty... BORIS And spin around like antennae. ZINA Enough! Stop! Only hear nonsense from you. BORIS So, now I’m even stupid too? Why now? ZINA ZINA BORIS

BORIS Because earlier I haven’t heard you calling me stupid. ZINA And have you heard me calling you smart? BORIS Yes, I have! (Tugs at his own ears.)

I-7

With these same ears! ZINA (Sighs.) Here we go again. BORIS What “again”? ZINA Again I turned out to be right. As always. BORIS Don’t understand. What don’t you understand? ZINA

BORIS How did you turn out to be right? Even if not always, at least this time? That your ears are no good at all. ZINA

BORIS You’re not giving my ears any peace again? Are you making up stories about them again? ZINA You’re doing it. I do? BORIS

ZINA Yea, you! Claim that I only say bad things about you, then turn around that I call you smart. And constantly refer to your own ears. What’s the logic? BORIS What does logic have to do with this? ZINA How’s this “what”? Don’t you indeed understand that I couldn’t have said such things in principle? BORIS What couldn’t you have said in principle?

I-8

That you’re smart!

ZINA

BORIS It turns out that you think I’m so stupid that I can never be called smart in principle? Do you want to say that your husband is an idiot? ZINA No, I don’t... What? So I’m just a fool? I didn’t say that. BORIS You didn’t but you wanted to... Right? Answer what you’re being asked! ZINA I don’t answer provocative questions. Why is it provocative? Because... You know why. BORIS Listen, if you don’t answer me now... ZINA What? You’re going to hit me? Have I ever hit you even once? BORIS BORIS ZINA BORIS ZINA

ZINA For shame, hit... It’s a shame listening to you. Who say such thing? How’s that? Crude. BORIS ZINA

I-9

BORIS Everyone does... Crude. ZINA Who’s everyone? And where do these “everyone” express themselves so crudely? BORIS Must listen with attention! You criticize my ears, but your own are a thousand times worse. Mine at least can hear something, but yours hear nothing at all. Despite that you train them all day in front of the TV. You listen, you listen, but you don’t understand that only baffling nonsense flows from it. ZINA Why have you decided that I must understand with my ears? Why with the ears? BORIS

ZINA That’s what I’m asking you, why with the ears? How can I understand with my ears if other organs quite different from the ears are intended for this? BORIS Don’t know about you, but the rest of the people use the head for this... (Looks at a haughtily silent ZINA.) Well, what do you say? Got it finally? What should I have gotten? ZINA

BORIS That your husband is far from the fool that you take him for. ZINA And what then is he, my husband? BORIS I’m your husband! Then and now. How many years have you lived with me and you still don’t get anything? ZINA Well, what changes it? In what sense? BORIS ZINA

I-10

Your wit. BORIS Don’t understand. ZINA You’re what, proud of it? It’s a great achievement to be my husband? Do you really think that one thing makes you smarter than you are by nature? (Confused.) Don’t know... Maybe. BORIS

ZINA No, it can’t be so! Nothing can be so. BORIS Who can’t be so? You. ZINA

BORIS So, nothing can’t be for me, but everything must be for you. ZINA Yes. What were you thinking? Only not with a husband like you. BORIS How so? ZINA With a husband like you, not that I have everything, unlikely anything will show up for me at all. BORIS And what do you still need? What isn’t enough for you? ZINA Everything! There isn’t enough of everything! Wipe your eyes! Look around in every store window. BORIS There’s nothing for you to look at there. You indeed have everything. I have nothing. ZINA

I-11

BORIS Well, you do know it’s really cheeky on your part, so to speak. ZINA You’re being cheeky to dispute the facts. I have nothing, absolutely nothing that one can be proud of. BORIS What does it mean “can be proud of”? I don’t understand your statement. ZINA How can you understand. In order to understand, you need to have some organ other than ears. You’re like living in a vacuum. You’re completely unaware of what’s going on around you. BORIS I notice everything. Perhaps you didn’t notice, but I immediately remarked that today you’re the spitting image of a clown. ZINA Wha-at? Are you at me again? Why do you particularly want to infuriate me? BORIS Do I have to do that? You’re in a bad temper by nature. ZINA Not by nature, I’m that way from life. Who isn’t? You think I’m not? BORIS

ZINA (Calms down.) That’s what I’m talking about. In our time, nice people are nowhere to be found. BORIS That’s true. But then no need to look for the angry ones, full of them. All mad as hell... Especially the old women. Just now for no rhythm or reason, one such banged me on the head with her string bag. ZINA Really? You? A string bag? On the head? What for? BORIS Nothing. I didn’t do anything to her, just wanted to get on the bus, but she was standing on the steps. As soon as I started to get on, she snapped at me, “Where

I-12

are you barging to, you blockhead? Can’t see, perhaps?” I politely answered, “I can see.” She got even more furious. “If you can see, step back! Let people get off!” I didn’t even have time to understand anything and she banged me on the head with her bag! I saw sparks in my eyes. Did she carry bricks in there? But she wouldn’t pipe down. Started to push me off the bus, and how she pushed. ZINA And you kept quiet as usual? BORIS I would have if I wasn’t so mad that I couldn’t stand it and really gave it to her. ZINA And then? BORIS Nothing more. I turned around and came home upset. For a long time she was still yelling all sorts of nonsense at me, “I’ll put you in jail for life! I’ll sit there until you croak!” And stuff like that. ZINA What a nightmare! What will people say now? What people? BORIS

ZINA The ones who saw how badly you behaved to an old lady. BORIS First, she wasn’t a lady but an old witch. Secondly, she’s the one behaving badly, not me. And thirdly, there weren’t any special people there. There weren’t people there? Yea... some passers-by. ZINA And you don’t consider passers-by people? What are they then? Aliens, maybe? BORIS Who can figure them out? Maybe also aliens. (There is a knock on the door.) ZINA BORIS

I-13

ZINA (Steps out.) You yourself are an alien! BORIS I’m not an alien... I’m Russian... Although, if you think about it, what’s the difference? Probably, we, as Russians, are closer to aliens than results of evolution. From microbes to monkeys and from monkeys to businessmen. So? We also have little resemblance to these results... And we’ve great difficulty with the intermediate stages of evolution. At least, we can’t have monkeys or businessmen at large. In order for them to survive here, they need cages, matters not if the cages are simple or gold... And what businessmen there! In our winter, even microbes disappear. So there... (ZINA and JULIE walk in.) BORIS (cont’d) Clear? Clear! Everything’s clear. What’s clear to you? ZINA How you behave in public. Just wouldn’t shut up. BORIS And how do I behave? If some nasty old hag is going to hit me on the head with a bag... JULIE If it were some! The fact is it’s not some. BORIS How do you know? My Zina has already managed to report to you? JULIE Not she to me but I to her! I saw this disgrace with my own eyes. BORIS Agreed, the scene was a disgrace, but I wasn’t at fault. And you, as our neighbor and a friend of my wife, should confirm that it wasn’t a disgrace on my part. JULIE Do you hear? I haven’t even said a word, not half a word to him, and he’s already ZINA BORIS

I-14

justifying himself. ZINA He always does that. No, not always. Always. When you’re not rude. And not fighting with old women. JULIE BORIS ZINA

BORIS I didn’t fight with her. She hit me on the head with the bag. Julie, what happened exactly? ZINA

JULIE I tell you, our Boris, at the bus stop, didn’t manage to get on the bus... ZINA Wait, wait. Why do you say “our”? JULIE Well fine, fine, not “our” but your. Your Boris, after Zabuldygin’s mother clonked him on the head with the bag, rushed at her and started to shout that he’ll kill her... What? Zabuldygin’s mother? ZINA

BORIS I had no intention of killing anyone! And I haven’t the faintest idea about any Zabuldygin. JULIE As I see it, you’ve certainly done a good job. Don’t know Zabuldygin. No, I don’t. BORIS

JULIE Do you know how to live without heat in the winter? We already dream about this Zabuldygin instead of decent guys, but he, it turns out, hasn’t the faintest idea

I-15

about him. Aren’t you ashamed? BORIS What should I be ashamed for? That I don’t know any Zabuldygin? JULIE You, Boris, are indeed a shameless person. One has to feel sorry for your wife. BORIS I’m not shameless, but I really don’t know any Zabuldygin. And I’m not ashamed to admit that. JULIE Should be though. But why? Can you explain why? BORIS

JULIE Because this Zabuldygin, if he wants, can leave all of us without light and heat. And all because of you. ZINA

BORIS Why me? What do I have to do with it? As if our light isn’t constantly cut off? And even heat we can only brag about in the summer. JULIE Don’t tempt the Lord, you still haven’t frozen to death yet. And no icicles sticking out of your ears and nose. You live here and don’t understand your own happiness. Do you know how people live? BORIS And I owe this happiness to some Zabuldygin? Thanks, Julie, would never have thought of that... ZINA You never think of anything at all! JULIE True, Zina, really had to think of that? Beat up the mother of Zabuldygin! And in public besides. People were there, and saw everything. BORIS First, I didn’t beat her up. She hit me on the head. I already told you this a hundred times. Secondly, if I would lie in wait for her in some dark alley, where

I-16

there are no people, would I knock her off? Is that what you think? ZINA It’s not our opinion, it appears that way in your opinion. JULIE I think no one would notice Boris in a dark alley. And then he could cause trouble to nobody. But this way he has put us all in a very unpleasant situation. When it reaches Zabuldygin that some good-for-nothing threatened in front of everybody to bump off his mother... BORIS But I didn’t threaten to bump her off! I simply said to her, “I’ll nail you, old witch,” and that’s all. ZINA It doesn’t change the essence of the matter. JULIE It’s worse! It’s worse than bumping her off. ZINA Julie, don’t exaggerate. Nail or bump off, it’s essentially one and the same. JULIE No, it’s not. Nailing, it’s worse, much worse than bumping off. ZINA Not worse. And don’t argue with me! Think, to nail... Here to bump off, yes. It’s in fact very, very bad. JULIE What, it turns out, in your opinion, bumping someone off is very bad, but just nailing him, on the other hand, is even very good? Is that so? No, it’s not. BORIS

ZINA Here, you heard? Don’t worry, Boris isn’t the only one who talks nonsense. BORIS Nonsense doesn’t suit me. I’m not you broads talking nonsense. ZINA Filth suits you! Where did you see broads here?

I-17

BORIS Did I really say here? And I haven’t done anything nasty. JULIE What do you mean you haven’t, if you played such a dirty trick on us all that now you’ll never bail yourself out? BORIS If you go on again about this lousy old hag, then I have absolutely nothing to do with it here. Where, here? ZINA

BORIS Did I really say here? Must be I used the word having in mind “everywhere.” JULIE So, it seems, you have nothing to do with it everywhere? Perhaps it’s not you but I who should be blamed when our heaters freeze and lights cut off? BORIS Perhaps you or perhaps someone else. In any case, I have nothing to do with problems of municipal services. JULIE Oh, you shameless man! You with your wild behavior aggravate these problems to the extreme! Why did you attack Zabuldygina? Why threaten to kill her? ZINA Boris, I really can’t imagine what will happen to us if they cut off our light and heat. Our people will rip you to shreds! And me together with you. BORIS We always have something cut off. Either light, or heat, or something else. And here I have nothing to do with it. Besides, I repeat again: I didn’t hit Zabuldygina but she hit me... With a bag on the head... (Touches his head.) And very painful at that. ZINA No one saw it. If someone did, he wouldn’t think much of an old woman accidentally tapping you. And even if he did, he would in no way admit it. BORIS Why not?

I-18

JULIE Because all normal people want to live in peace. No one would start to argue with Zabuldygin, especially because of some blockhead like you. BORIS But you, Julie, doesn’t speak for everybody. If you’ve lost your own conscience because of cowardice, it still doesn’t mean... JULIE That others have this conscience once. Am I right, Zina? I had it. But he definitely not. ZINA

BORIS Maybe you once had it, but when we met, you already didn’t. ZINA How would you know? You’ve never been interested in my conscience nor my soul, nor my anything. BORIS And what do you think I was interested in? Really your clown face? ZINA Are you doing it again? Insult me? In front of others? BORIS Why in front of others? Julie is no stranger to us. ZINA Who’s this “us”? BORIS Well, you, me. Julie is far from a stranger. Can even say very close... ZINA Close? Do you want to say that you two are very close to each other? JULIE Zina, come to your senses! He didn’t want to say that at all. ZINA Then what did he want to say? JULIE I don’t know what he wanted to say, simply he made a slip of the tongue...

I-19

ZINA What slip of the tongue did he make? JULIE Well... That you look like a clown in general. Me? Like a clown? Yes, like a clown. ZINA You are clowns! Both of you! Put on some vulgar farce in front of me! BORIS Why would Julie and I put on a farce? I’m just upset with this old shrew, came home, wanted to dine in peace, and then... ZINA And then go meet Julie! But she couldn’t wait and came tearing along for the date. JULIE Wha-at? ZINA Yes, a date! You never suspected that I didn’t go out at all today. JULIE Why not? ZINA (Triumphantly.) Because I told you yesterday that I intend to spend the whole day at the beauty salon! Didn’t I tell you that I’d spare no money, that they’d create a miracle for me there? Didn’t I? You did. So? JULIE ZINA BORIS

ZINA So you believed me, and rushed over here! (Looks at ZINA.) BORIS

I-20

And they created this “miracle” for money? JULIE Don’t worry, Boris, she did the make-up herself, for free. ZINA No, not for free! Not free at all! See? (Picks up the cosmetics and shows them.) See? Do you know how much all this costs? You’ll never guess the sum in your wildest dreams! BORIS If in rubles, definitely not. I only dream in greenbacks... ZINA No, not in rubles! If it were in rubles... What a fool I am! Spent so much money and all for nothing. It turns out they lied to me! Who? My husband and my girlfriend... BORIS Wha-at? With her? If that doesn’t beat all! ZINA (cont’d) Together made up some Zabuldygina... There was no Zabuldygina! You just wanted to cheat on me, have a tête-à-tête... JULIE Why would I want to have a tête-à-tête with him? Because... ZINA

JULIE And nobody except you needs him! Everybody’s tired of him! It’s impossible to live with him at all! ZINA (Turns to BORIS.) Heard that? Here’s how you live with her. BORIS How? ZINA That you’ve already managed to bore her! In fact, not just with me, you’re already interfering with her life also...

I-21

JULIE Of course he does! Just think, Zina, after his fight with Zabuldygina such a thing can start, a thing that it’s even scary to imagine... ZINA I don’t believe you. Why? JULIE

ZINA Because there was no Zabuldygina. You made her up especially, for conspiracy. BORIS There was! There was a Zabuldygina... Though, maybe not Zabuldygina at all but some crazy old woman. There was no old woman. Why wasn’t there? ZINA Because old women don’t fight with grown men. You feed me all sorts of baloney and you yourself... BORIS Fine! I’ll bring you witnesses who saw everything. Real witnesses, not like your friend the chatterbox here... I’m not a chatterbox! JULIE BORIS Chatterbox... (Goes out.) And in principle I wouldn’t have anything to do with such as you... (Follows.) Why not? Because I’m not like a clown? JULIE ZINA BORIS

ZINA Perhaps that’s why... Because my Boris only likes clowns... Like his wife. JULIE

I-22

So stay with him, if you suit each other so well. ZINA And you? JULIE I’m going and I’ll tell people whom your Boris would think of fighting with. Let them prepare for the worst ahead of time. You’re not going anywhere. What do you mean I’m not going? ZINA That means you’ll sit here like a dear until he returns. JULIE Why? ZINA People disturb nothing before its time. Maybe there was even no Zabuldygina. JULIE There was. ZINA And if there was, there’s nothing to fear. Sit here for the time being and wait. JULIE Wait for what? ZINA I don’t know. Maybe something good. JULIE How long do we have to wait... Okay, we’ll wait. We’ll see whom he brings back... (Silent.) Listen, Zina, do you have anything tasty? ZINA What do you think? Not only tasty, but also strong. JULIE Then I agree to wait till at least tomorrow. We’ll sit and wait to see whom Boris will find... ZINA JULIE

I-23

II-1

Act Two
ZINA and JULIE sit at the table. On the table are refreshments and bottles. JULIE Oh, Zina, I don’t know what to say. But in my informed opinion, we are true martyrs. ZINA True, Julie, martyrs. I already have such a hard time with my Boris, such a hard time. I have no more strength... Do you understand me? JULIE I do. I always understand you very well... Here only one thing I don’t know at all. ZINA What? JULIE How could you come up with such nonsense? ZINA What nonsense? JULIE As if Boris and I would cheat on you. ZINA You have to excuse me, Julie... Just that I can tell you one thing: if you had lived with him as I have, then that’s not the only nonsense you would come up with. JULIE I wouldn’t. Why not? ZINA

JULIE Because I, as different from you, Zina, am a sober person. ZINA You? A sober person? After all that we’ve had to drink? JULIE Not that, Zina.

II-2

Then what?

ZINA

JULIE In the sense that I’m a person with common sense. Well, that I’m always thinking sober thoughts. ZINA You? Sober thoughts? As long as I’ve known you, you’ve never think any thoughts at all! JULIE Well, don’t say that... I do... I do think. You just haven’t noticed it. ZINA You? Think? About what? What can you think about, Julie? JULIE About different things... About myself... And about others too... In fact, about everything under the sun. ZINA Ah-h... Understood. Julie, maybe you think of everything under the sun, but you can’t come up with anything specific. JULIE Why? I can come up with something specific... And very easily. What, easily? Yes, easily. ZINA Then come up with something! If it’s so easy for you. JULIE Please... (Pretends to think.) I already have... ZINA That’s great... Sit down and think... Perhaps first time in your life... By the way, Julie, what specifically can one think about? ZINA JULIE

II-3

JULIE I already told you. Anything you like. ZINA Naturally. Nowadays you can think anything you like. JULIE Nowadays not only can you think anything you like, but also do anything you want. ZINA Exactly, Julie. So why think if you can do right away? That’s what I tell you. JULIE

ZINA So let’s do something. Why think for nothing? JULIE Only must do something so... So... Even scary to think about! ZINA Something scary to think about? (In embarrassment.) No, no, only not that! What, not what? I will not cheat on Boris. JULIE What does your Boris has to do with it? ZINA You really didn’t have that in mind? What? That I cheat on him. You’ve never, really? JULIE JULIE ZINA JULIE ZINA

II-4

ZINA What’s it to you? Why do you have to know whether I have or haven’t cheated on him? JULIE It’s absolutely all the same to me! What difference is it to me whether you twotimed him or not? ZINA Then why do you try to force me to do it, if it’s all the same to you? JULIE (Dumbfounded.)

Me? Force you?

ZINA Yea, you! Who else? Who proposed to me to do what I shouldn’t even think about? JULIE Why shouldn’t you? ZINA Because once you start thinking about it, then ultimately, it will be. JULIE What will be? (Shows an interest.) Here try, Zina. Imagine to yourself that you’ve already cheated on him. With whom? At least with a millionaire. ZINA With what millionaire? With our millionaire perhaps? JULIE Why not? Is our millionaire any worse than others? No, it won’t work with ours. ZINA JULIE ZINA JULIE

II-5

Why won’t it work? ZINA Because the only difference between our millionaire and our bum is the amount of money. JULIE Well, Zina, something you’ll say as well! Her millionaire and her bum are the same person, there’s no difference... ZINA There is. Even the criminal codes are different. What criminal codes? JULIE

ZINA Different ones... Which they violate. One is a tramp, but the other... It’s scary to say what he does... In a word, what he wants, even breaks the law. JULIE But why is it scary to say? We aren’t all without sin. ZINA No, not all! I, at least, don’t break the law. And keep a tight rein on my Boris. JULIE Not tight enough. Why not tight enough? ZINA

JULIE Because he slipped out and beat up Zabuldygina. And you say the millionaires. They don’t care! Some laws to break, laws that no one wants, if even such as your Boris does what he wants. ZINA (Sighs.) Oh, Julie, don’t say it. Now everyone enjoys his life. Everybody and his dog. Want to drink, they drink, want to fight, they fight... JULIE And want to steal, they steal. ZINA And rightly so. Only we’re waiting for something all the time, waiting... But why

II-6

wait? No need to dillydally. Must act before life shows us its backside. JULIE What have I been telling you? Definitely must do something. And definitely something so... Something so out of the ordinary. ZINA What, for example? JULIE Example? Well, example... So, right away you don’t consider that... (Glances at a newspaper.) Aha, here! Listen... (Picks up the newspaper and reads.) “Show up at the exotic dance contest at the nightclub Iceberg...” Well, what do you say to that? ZINA Do you want us to go dancing at a nightclub? JULIE You don’t want to? ZINA (Uncertainly.) Well... I don’t know how it’ll look. JULIE Very simple. Everything is written here. Arrive before 11 p.m., register for the contest, and wait your turn. Then when you turn comes, start dancing. That’s all. As you can see, everything is very simple. Only consider, have to dance so well in order to get first place. ZINA Why must it be first? Isn’t it enough for us to be second? JULIE No Zina, not enough. Why? ZINA

JULIE They promise a car for first, but only a case of beer for second, nothing more. Oho! A real car? ZINA

II-7

JULIE No only real, but new... A new car, understand? ZINA Julie, I’m game... Only it seems to me our chance of winning the car is not great. Why? JULIE

ZINA Think about it. We’ve never danced anywhere except at parties. JULIE Exactly, we’ve danced at parties! That means, we know very well what a drunk audience wants. ZINA But it’s not just an audience! It’s an audience in a nightclub, and not from the entrance next door. JULIE That’s just what the guy from second floor at the next entrance does, goes to nightclubs. ZINA Is that the one who quickly bought two apartments and turned them into one? JULIE No, the other one. But the one you talk about also hangs out at nightclubs quite often. True, lately he’s seen more in the casino. ZINA (Sighs.) Only where do people get their money? JULIE From camels. From what camels? Probably Tajik camels. ZINA Why Tajik? There are no Tajik camels. ZINA JULIE

II-8

JULIE Well, so from Afghan. What difference is it to you? Let others crack their heads over this, now we have to think of something quite different. What about? ZINA

JULIE About how we’re going to win the new car. ZINA I think... Only I can’t come up with anything. JULIE Then listen to me carefully... Are you listening? I’m listening. ZINA

JULIE First, we have to create a special public image. What kind of image? ZINA

JULIE The kind that no one can recognize us, before or after the dance. ZINA You think so? But I’m thinking just the opposite. JULIE What opposite? ZINA I’m thinking that we’ll become famous, and everyone on the street... JULIE No way! In the first place, we’ll become famous only if we win the car. If we lose, then we’re bound to become the universal laughing stock. ZINA Ah-h... Understood... Only I can’t imagine to myself what public image would be best in this situation. JULIE

II-9

(Looks attentively at ZINA.) You know... I’ve already imagined this to myself... And, what’s the most interesting, the image is almost ready. ZINA Really? JULIE Yes. You’ve done well. Here, if we leave half the face made-up, and cover the other half with toner, it’ll look very exotic. You think so? Well, let’s try. Wouldn’t hurt to try... (JULIE makes up half of her face quickly and ludicrously like ZINA, and ZINA repairs her make-up.) ZINA Strangely enough, but it seems to me that such an image suits you very well. JULIE I never doubted it for a minute... Everything suits me. ZINA Julie, what about the hair? JULIE Don’t know which is better, put it up or braid it? ZINA Our hair isn’t enough for braiding. JULIE Then let’s put it up. We’ll look even younger this way. (Together they do each other’s hair.) JULIE Wonderful! There... Good... Let’s start rehearsing the dance. But what kind of dance? ZINA JULIE ZINA JULIE

II-10

Exotic, of course! What else? The most complete, with stripping. ZINA Naked? JULIE Well, naked, not naked... At least, until they give us the car, we’ll have to strip... Yes, Zina, only this and no other way. ZINA (Uncertainly.) Julie, but can’t it happen that we drop all our clothes and they don’t award us the car? JULIE They will. Zina, they will for sure. If we drop all our clothes, then no competitors will be scary for us. ZINA You’re sure? Hundred percent. JULIE

ZINA What if there’re still some young girl come out stripping? JULIE So what? Even if some snot foolishly decides to strip, indeed, she’ll definitely be alone, but we’ll go out together. This is one. And then there’ll be the two of us together and already not so young as she, which is very sexy in itself. This is two. That is, imagine: you and I together, and besides, far from being old. And with such a stunning image! This is three. ZINA Yes? Well, okay, consider that you’ve convinced me. I also think that with such an image as ours, unlikely someone will still dare to come out to the audience. JULIE Understand what’s the appeal now? Then, come on, turn on the music and we’ll start practicing. ZINA Let’s start... (Switches on the music.) Only have to move the chairs back so they won’t be in the way...

II-11

(ZINA and JULIE start to move quite artfully to the music.) JULIE Zina, follow the rhythm! Don’t forget, this isn’t just a dance but an exotic one... On the count of three shed your sweater! Ready? ZINA Fine! I’m ready... One... Two... Three... JULIE

(ZINA and JULIE cast off their sweaters.) ZINA Julie, it seems to me that we need to be bolder... Don’t forget whom we’ll be performing in front of! JULIE Like you say, Zina... Can be bolder... On the count of three, take off the skirt! One... Two... Three... (ZINA and JULIE take off their skirts and throw them in the direction of BORIS and HERMAN entering.) ZINA Bolder! I tell you, even bolder! More rhythmic and bolder... JULIE All right... Bolder, so bolder... Let’s continue... Are you ready to continue? Ready! But I’m not ready! HERMAN Boris Arkadevich, why are you interfering with a creative process? BORIS Quiet, Herman! How did you get here? Intergalactionovich. This is my wife! So? HERMAN BORIS ZINA BORIS

II-12

What, don’t you understand? She wants to be completely naked! HERMAN So? It’s so scary! (Stops dancing.) Zina, did you hear what he said? ZINA Who? JULIE Your Boris! He said that if you strip, it’s so scary. BORIS I didn’t say that! What, what? (Switches off the music.) Well, repeat it. I’m not repeating anything. ZINA Whom did you bring? And why do you try to convince him that your wife isn’t pretty? HERMAN He’ll never be able to convince me of this. You’re pretty... (Turns to JULIE.) And you too... Very pretty. If, of course, we don’t pay attention to your head. BORIS Exactly! Right away, it’s obvious that you’re a guy, Herman. JULIE No such thing is obvious right away. At least not the first impression. HERMAN Do you doubt that I’m a man? ZINA BORIS JULIE

BORIS

II-13

JULIE Maybe you are. You do look it, but are you a man? That can’t be made out, not right away. HERMAN Excuse me, but you’ve lost me. What do you have in mind? Is it good or bad to be a man? JULIE And you really don’t understand this? Indeed no. HERMAN

ZINA Julie, why do you keep at it? If the man doesn’t understand this, it means he isn’t a man. BORIS Stop talking nonsense! Do you want to say that he’s a skirt? JULIE We want to say that if he doesn’t like us, then he isn’t a man. HERMAN But why did you decide that I don’t like you? I even like you very much. I repeat, if I don’t pay attention to your head. ZINA But what don’t you like about Julie’s head? HERMAN Not only Julie’s... Is that her name? A very pretty name. ZINA So, she has a pretty name, but not a pretty head? Is that so? HERMAN Not quite. But one thing I can definitely confirm: in its psycho-physical characteristics, her head is no worse than yours. ZINA Wha-at? You don’t like my head either? Boris! Do I show him the door or do you deal with him yourself? BORIS I didn’t bring him here in order to show him the door.

II-14

ZINA He insults me, calls me all sorts, and I don’t have the right to show him the door? JULIE Zina, not only you, but he also insults me. He doesn’t like my head, you see. Fancy that, how picky! So, everybody but you likes it? HERMAN Did I really say I don’t ? Really not? JULIE

BORIS Your head is completely empty. Who can like such a head? HERMAN It isn’t whether the head is empty or not. It’s just her head... This head... It... JULIE Well? What? What about the head? HERMAN Just that with such a head you’re like... BORIS A clown. ZINA You’re at this again? Listen, you’re driving me nuts! Julie, all day today he won’t give me any peace! Only hear from him: clown, clown, clown! What I’ll give you now for these words! JULIE Right, Zina! Let him have it! And for me too. Give it to him right in the nose so he won’t be rude to women. HERMAN Excuse me! Boris Arkadevich is right. Both of you actually look like clowns. If, of course, just looking at your heads. But if we pay attention past your heads to other parts of your body, then it reminds me... No, I’d better not say it, else you can give it to me in the nose too. ZINA Not give but hit.

II-15

BORIS You watch I don’t punch you in the eye. ZINA You? Punch me? You can’t bring yourself to! BORIS Why do you think I can’t? ZINA Because I’m first of all a woman. And I’m right in this, understand? BORIS No, I don’t. ZINA You won’t dare hit me. I’m not some Zabuldygina to you. BORIS You’re first of all my wife! HERMAN What, is a wife already not a woman? BORIS Women don’t behave this way! What way? This way, like you! How do I behave? ZINA ZINA BORIS

BORIS Look at yourself! Parading half-naked in front of a strange man. What kind of woman are you after this? ZINA Exactly the kind like Julie. Why do you look at me? You look at her! BORIS (As if noticing for the first time.) Julie, indeed, really... You’re also this way? At our home? Well, okay, Zina, God bless her, is my wife after all.

II-16

So?

JULIE

BORIS She can walk about at home filthy, disheveled, half-naked... And even naked! But you? Why are you walking around our apartment this way? JULIE I’m not walking about. I’m training. Yes, we’re training. Rehearsing. What are you rehearsing? An exotic dance. Why? In order to get a new car. JULIE ZINA BORIS ZINA BORIS

HERMAN Really, it only takes undressing to get a new car? JULIE No, not only. Try to express yourself in an exotic dance, and you’ll see how hard it is. Where? What do you mean “where”? HERMAN Where must the dance be performed to get the car? ZINA At the nightclub Iceberg. But why do you want to know this? JULIE All the same, you personally have no chance of winning the exotic dance contest. HERMAN JULIE

II-17

HERMAN You shouldn’t think so. Please turn on the music and I’ll surprise you with my talent in this area. (Switches on the music.) Surprise us, Herman, surprise us... Let the broads not turn up their noses, while they learn to twist with their backs... Show them what a real dance is... (HERMAN dances, very professionally.) JULIE Look... Would never think a guy... ZINA Actually, he dances not too badly. But it’s not enough, really not enough. BORIS Why isn’t it enough for you? ZINA Not me but the regulars of the nightclub. BORIS What more does he need? ZINA These gentlemen want the dancers to strip also, among other things. BORIS And why is that? ZINA How’s this “why”? We must demonstrate to the audience that we’re not some backwoods hicks but civilized people. BORIS Civilized people really must strip for this? Strange. JULIE Why strange? BORIS I always thought that only uncivilized savages dance naked. ZINA BORIS

II-18

You are the savage! You go nowhere, good at nothing, don’t know what people in nightclubs do, and you talk. BORIS Me? Good at nothing? And you know that I... And I... ZINA Enough of you, shut your mouth. As if I don’t know you... Look, the guy can dance, how he dances, and you... BORIS I dance no worse than he. (ZINA and JULIE laugh.) BORIS What, you don’t believe me? I can show you... (BORIS starts to dance together with HERMAN and is also quite good.) JULIE Wow! Zina, I never thought that your Boris dances so well. ZINA And I also didn’t suspect it myself... Here’s some skunk! How long we’ve lived together, how often we’ve been guests, and he never once danced with his own wife... Just you wait, I’ll make sure you have a fun life. You’ll find out from me for dancing with strange chicks, keeping a secret from me. JULIE Zina, maybe he had never danced with anyone? ZINA How could that be? JULIE Maybe he was busy with amateur art activities in childhood? And besides, not for nothing. See, they dance better than we do! This way they can win the car without us... ZINA And we’ll show them now who’s better... (Gets ready to dance.) Now we’ll show them... Right, Zina, let’s show them! JULIE

II-19

(All four dance together.) HERMAN Wonderful! Boris Arkadevich, Look! We’ve formed two exotic pairs! JULIE No... Not quite... For now, only Zina and I look exotic, you and Boris look ordinary. BORIS That’s not a problem for us... Herman, are you ready? On the count of three, we’ll look exotic! HERMAN If it’s so necessary to be exotic, then I’m ready. One... Two... Three! BORIS

(BORIS and HERMAN first take off their jackets, then their ties.) ZINA Great! Now we’ll definitely win the car! JULIE And we’ll go to the countryside in it! All together! ZINA Why all together? Do you think that Herman has no one to go to the countryside with? HERMAN There really is no one for me to go to the countryside with. And I’d be very happy to go with Julie...If, of course, by that time, her head looks a little less exotic... (SABULDYGINA appears. The dancers do not immediately notice her.) BORIS You’re really stuck on her head... Don’t look at her head, you had better twist your hips more energetically... And you ladies, don’t be lazy, else we won’t get any car... SABULDYGINA Aha... So that’s what it is... I see... So that’s what I've gotten to... Well, stop! Stop, I say!

II-20

BORIS What’s this? Who’s interrupting our rehearsal? HERMAN

ZINA Who’s this? Who’s the old bag? (Switches off the music, the dancers stop.) How did she get into our home? SABULDYGINA This isn’t a home! This is a den! A criminal hideout! A den of thieves! A nest of debauchery! And you’re all libertines here. ZINA Wha-at? And who are you? A burglar perhaps? JULIE Zina, this is no burglar, this is Zabuldygina. BORIS She’s the one who hit me on the head with a bag. SABULDYGINA And you wanted to kill me! I didn’t want to kill anybody! Yes, you did! I have a witness... (Turns to HERMAN.) Herman, tell them. BORIS BORIS SABULDYGINA

HERMAN I can confirm that all Boris Arkadevich said to this woman was that he... SABULDYGINA What Arkadevich? A naked pervert who wanted to kill me? JULIE Where do you see naked? He’s not naked...

II-21

SABULDYGINA So I’ll have him naked! I’ll ruin him naked! Why? HERMAN

SABULDYGINA Because I’ll not only pull down his shirt, but also his pants! Do you know what I can do with your Arkadevich? HERMAN How would I know? I just don’t understand how you, to put it mildly, an elderly woman, will be able to remove his pants from him, a man not yet old? Unless, of course, he wants to. He’ll never want to. ZINA

SABULDYGINA But I’m not asking him! I’ll pull down his pants and that’s all! Why do you want his pants? HERMAN

ZINA She doesn’t want his pants, she wants him! Don’t you understand? She’s after him! HERMAN Why? ZINA Because she needs him like a man. SABULDYGINA Why the heck do I need this degenerate? Besides, like a man... ZINA You’re the old degenerate! Glued yourself to him, tracked him down, barged into our home... I don’t need him! Then what do you need? SABULDYGINA HERMAN

II-22

SABULDYGINA I need his money, money! What money? For what? ZINA

SABULDYGINA For emotional distress! (Turns to BORIS.) Did you promise to kill me? You did. Did you badger me with bad words? You did. In a word, you mocked from your heart a poor woman. Made fun to your heart’s content. But now, my dear, time to pay for the fun, and pay plenty. And if you don’t pay, I’ll take you to court! BORIS It’s you, old witch, who should pay for hitting me on the head with a bag! Nobody saw this. SABULDYGINA

BORIS You lie, old witch! I have a witness who saw it. SABULDYGINA No, did not! But then everyone heard how you promised to kill me! BORIS (Turns to HERMAN.) Herman! Confirm the fact that she hit me on the head with a bag. HERMAN Yes, as a witness of this incident, I confirm this fact and can even appear in court if asked... SABULDYGINA You? In court? A naked pervert will appear in court? This will be hilarious! (Laughs and points to ZINA and JULIE.) And take them with you! Why? HERMAN

SABULDYGINA And perhaps these hussies will go to court naked with you? JULIE Why naked? You must think we have nothing to wear.

II-23

ZINA Julie, why should we go to court? You can’t find justice there. JULIE True. Why should we go to court? Better to go on TV then... SABULDYGINA Look at that, how smart! You think you’re the only one so smart? I sent for them already! They’ll expose you! They’ll film you perverts and bullies here and show the world... ZINA You yourself are an old bully! Get out of here... (Tries to turn SABULDYGINA out.) Get out, go! Barged into someone else’s home, troublemaker, and still... SABULDYGINA Don’t touch me! Just you wait, they’ll come and we’ll figure out right away who is the troublemaker here... We’ll figure out alright. I doubt it very much. We’ll wait and see. If you’ll live... JULIE HERMAN JULIE HERMAN

III-1

Act Three
No one on stage. BORIS and HERMAN enter. BORIS (Puffing.) Phew! Push her out the door somehow... A beast, not a granny! Barely managed together. I’m afraid we didn’t. What do you mean we didn’t? HERMAN I’m afraid this lady didn’t leave us in peace for long... (There is a knock on the door and the shout, “Open up! Open the door, murderers! I’ll show you!”) BORIS Likely you’re right... (Looks around.) And our ladies? Haven’t they left us for a long time? HERMAN I think also not long. Must assume they’re tidying themselves up after the exotic dance performance. BORIS Taken them long enough. Not time for us to tidy up too? HERMAN HERMAN BORIS

BORIS We’re not ladies, can parade around in a T-shirt. HERMAN Don’t know what’s considered parading, but isn’t my body naked here? Besides in front of TV correspondence who are about to come unexpectedly. It seems to me not appropriate. BORIS Really?

III-2

(Looks in the mirror.) You think so? HERMAN In front of TV correspondence, definitely. BORIS Appropriate in front of whom then? HERMAN Don’t know... Maybe in front of a woman one loves. BORIS (Condescendingly.) Must be, you sleep in a jacket? HERMAN I do sleep in a jacket. Ah-h... It’s obvious... BORIS

(Again there are clamor and shouts behind the door, “Rats! Open the door! You hear? Open up! Degenerates! Criminals!”) HERMAN With your permission, I’m going to get dressed after all... (Gets dressed.) And you, as you want... Can remain undressed... Rights of the host. BORIS Perhaps you’re right... (Gets dressed.) I will not walk around undressed in front of a TV crew even with the rights of a host. Otherwise, they’ll think some nudists live here. HERMAN Nudists? That’s something new. Businessman, I know. Showman, I know. But nudist? No, I don’t know. BORIS But I, among other things, in my pension fund, deals with nudists for the most parts. And I see showmen and other “-men” mainly on TV. HERMAN Must be difficult for you, then, if you don’t deal with businessmen.

III-3

BORIS Why? Quite the opposite, it’s bad for them... The businessmen, that is. With my nudists, while money is given to them, I’m quite well off. (ZINA and JULIE enter, already dressed, very decently.) ZINA Who’s quite well off? Are you talking nonsense again, Boris? BORIS I’m not. I’m having a conversation with a person. HERMAN With what person? BORIS Again! You don’t consider yourself a person? I’m having a conversation with you. Think it’s with Zabuldygina? Maybe she would like to have a heart-to-heart chat with me, but the door interferes... (Shouts behind the door, “Open the door, parasites! Deadbeats! Perverts! Traitors! Dregs of society!”) ZINA Lord! What will the neighbors say? JULIE Zina, don’t you worry about the neighbors. Everything they say about you, you’ll find out later from somebody, why worry now. ZINA How can I not worry? Do you think I like hearing these barbaric screeches outside my door? JULIE I understand you, Zina. Zabuldygina’s voice is actually very unpleasant. Like a crow cawing. ZINA It’s not her voice, but what she shouts about me with that voice that bothers me. And very loudly too... HERMAN

(Shouts behind the door, “Thugs! Criminals! Perverts! Whores!”) JULIE

III-4

Zina, she’s not only shouting about you. She’s insulting all of us here... Here’s a mean old hag! Honestly, would have killed her with my own hands. HERMAN Is it possible not to resort to so strong a means... BORIS What? HERMAN Well, for starters, exchange mutual insults at least? ZINA What next! Are we going to stoop to some... JULIE Exactly, Zina. Gods may do what cattle may not. HERMAN Do you want to say that the lady behind the door is a god? BORIS She’s more like the Devil than a lady... (There is a rumble behind the door and the shouts, “If you don’t open, I’ll break down the door!”) ZINA Boris, must do something! She’ll break our door! BORIS Have no fear. She’ll likely break her own neck than a steel door. HERMAN No door will protect you if a key solution isn’t adopted in relation to her. BORIS What solution? HERMAN You clearly formulated it from the very beginning... BORIS What? HERMAN And Julie supported such actions...

III-5

What actions?

JULIE

BORIS What are the actions that we can take not to hear such screams? ZINA And never see this disgusting old bag anymore? HERMAN Can only guarantee this if Boris Arkadevich finally carries out the promise given to her. BORIS What promise? HERMAN You promised to nail her. Isn’t that so? BORIS Wha-at? That’s impossible. Why? JULIE Because she has a son – Zabuldygin. If he finds out... ZINA He’ll only thank us. BORIS Are you serious? Kill a human being? ZINA This Zabuldygina isn’t a human being. Who said so? Said what? HERMAN JULIE JULIE HERMAN

III-6

HERMAN That this Zabuldygina isn’t a human being. ZINA A human being can’t shout this way. BORIS And won’t fight with a bag in public transit. JULIE And won’t kick a steel door like this... (HERMAN is very perplexed. He is the focus of attention.) BORIS What’s with you? JULIE Herman, what’s the matter with you? ZINA Are you okay? HERMAN If you’re of the opinion that she isn’t a human being... Hmm... In that case, I find it difficult to draw any definite conclusions. What kind of conclusions? BORIS

HERMAN On the specific properties of the given individual. If she doesn’t meet the classification criteria of homo sapiens, or, quite simply, a human being, then what is she? ZINA Whatever you like, only not human. HERMAN But indeed in appearance she’s very similar to human. BORIS She’s similar to a beast in appearance. JULIE And a very nasty beast to boot.

III-7

HERMAN I still don’t understand... ZINA What don’t you understand? Must act! Have to get rid of her before the neighbors call the cops. HERMAN Why don’t you call the cops yourselves? ZINA Are you out of your mind?! What cops? HERMAN Why are you so afraid of the police? Let them use their power to neutralize this humanoid essence dangerous to society. JULIE Her son is Zabuldygin! Za-bul-dy-gin! No police would get involved with her. ZINA And with the help of the cops she can neutralize us such that we become scraps in back alleys. HERMAN Do you want to say that the police won’t fulfill their duties? What duties? BORIS

HERMAN Do you want to say that the police won’t protect people from mad beasts? (Again a still scene. Everybody stars at HERMAN.) BORIS Listen, buddy, strictly speaking, who are you? HERMAN In what sense? ZINA Don’t play the fool! Boris asks you: where do you come from? HERMAN How’s this “where from”? From the bus stop. He brought me from there, as witness. I saw how this beast beat him on the head and he answered...

III-8

JULIE Herman, you don’t understand. They ask you where you, so strange, came from. HERMAN Strange in what sense? What shows this strangeness? JULIE In everything. You’re not like any of us. You don’t walk the same way, don’t see things the same way, don’t talk... How do I talk? HERMAN

ZINA Politely! Our people don’t behave this way. Have you at least once heard our people talk to each other politely? You couldn’t have. You couldn’t stay the way you are at all if you would be with our guys... Why are you smiling? Why are you always smiling? Our people don’t smile. HERMAN Why not? JULIE What’s there for them to smile about? If you regularly pay rent but you’re still regularly in debt, will you be smiling? Will you? And if after you’ve paid for everything, they shut off the water, light, and heat, referring to non-payment? Will you be grinning as before? No, you won’t. The smile will disappear from your face. And as you go through the channels, arguing that you’re not a camel, that you’ve paid up even beyond the statutory, you’ll be running around for a long time without success, your face will take on a more downcast air. And finally, if you’re one of us, you’ll understand that there’s nowhere to go for justice, that everything is against you. But you’re not one of us. ZINA So, who are you? Well? Why here, gawking? Own up, who are you, and where did you come from out of the blue? HERMAN I already told you where. Boris Arkadevich brought me here. ZINA Don’t squirm! Answer the question! BORIS Wait! I think I’ve got it... Listen! He’s a spy!

III-9

JULIE Herman, is that true? Is what true? That you’re a spy? ZINA Exactly! Why didn’t we figure this out sooner? JULIE (Turns to HERMAN.) Tell us, are you really a spy? American? HERMAN I refuse to understand you. Won’t confess, the skunk... (Turns to HERMAN.) Well, speak up, why did the CIA send you to us? HERMAN Boris Arkadevich, this all seems more than odd to me... Boris, wait. Wait for what? JULIE Perhaps we’re making a mistake. What if he’s not an American spy? BORIS What’s the difference? The main thing is that he’s not Chinese. HERMAN It seems to me I had better leave you... BORIS Stop! You’re not going anywhere till we hand you over to whomever we should. ZINA Boris, don’t rush. You know, it’s possible to negotiate with everybody. JULIE BORIS BORIS HERMAN JULIE

III-10

You don’t negotiate with the CIA. Why?

BORIS ZINA

BORIS They’re all greedy. Ask a lot but pay little. In a word, jerks... And many of our sheep have already defected to them. So it’d be better if we deliver him to our own, reliable, from whom there’s no escape... (There is a knock on the door and a voice, “Please open the door! TV crew!”) ZINA Right, Boris! We’ll hand him over to our TV people. Right now, by the way... BORIS Aha! They’re a hundred times more reliable, no one can run away from them, nor hide... ZINA They’ll get to spies like you from under the ground! If necessary, will even find you in the john and put you on camera. Then, if you twitch, will show the world with your pants down. HERMAN Why pants down? I don’t need such popularity. I don’t aspire to fame. BORIS Aha! Here you gave yourself away! This admission of yours proves conclusively the involvement of secret service! He needs no fame... Tell the tale to your own granny. Here, look at me. I’m looking. HERMAN

BORIS See, I’m a normal guy, so I want fame, and much more... (Goes out.) And TV will help realize my not very modest desires... ZINA By the way, I also wouldn’t turn down fame. Who would? Everybody wants recognition. Everybody... (Points to HERMAN.)

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Except him... JULIE I also want to go on TV. After this, I’ll have so many admirers... HERMAN I’m afraid you’re making a very big mistake... ZINA What mistake? HERMAN You’re letting into your own home, can even say, into your own intimate life, people who think nothing of distorting reality... (BORIS enters with LALA and GEORDIE.) LALA Now... Now we’ll expose them... Show our viewers how low a person can reach if he’s not stopped in time... Geordie, shoot! GEORDIE Lala, I don’t understand you. What’s to film here? LALA (Looks around.) Well... Don’t film the setting. It seems decent enough. Viewers may not understand us... So... Film the bullies. What bullies? BORIS

GEORDIE Them? They also look quite tolerable. JULIE And better than this squeaky cream puff. GEORDIE Do you have her in mind? This is no cream puff. This is Lala from Channel 24/5. What Lala? JULIE

LALA Geordie, don’t get distracted! We have little time... Here... Hit the table with the bottles.

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Lala, I wouldn’t advise this.

GEORDIE

LALA Do what you’re told! And don’t argue with me. GEORDIE You’ll be sorry later. Don’t you see it’s French cognac on the table? Who would believe you that bullies and rowdies live here? What bullies? What rowdies? (Looks closely.) Indeed... And the dishes are also decent... (Picks up a plate and reads the label.) Bo-he-mi-a... Hmm... Cool... Okay, Geordie, then film me with the window in the background. GEORDIE Won’t work either. They’re European. It’s okay... (Draws the curtains.) Come on, film me. Here I’ll close these rags... (GEORDIE films.) ZINA You are a rag! A dishrag... LALA This is LaLa Laskovaya... We are... In a dwelling! Yes, precisely in a dwelling, because it’s not possible to call this den a home. In here live people for whom noble old age is nothing sacred! To them this is simply the opportunity to get away with letting loose one’s fist. Yes, our dear viewers, exactly so. Today, in broad daylight, one of the inhabitants of this haunt attacked a defenseless old lady! Mrs. Zabuldygina, the mother of a very well-known, very respected man of our town. This monster beat her up! At the same time shouting that he would kill her. By some miracle, the old feeble woman managed to escape the clutches of the monster of cruelty and ran away... Now we will show you this barbarian... LALA LALA ZINA JULIE

III-13

BORIS That’s it, enough! We didn’t agree to this! Get out of here... (Goes to the window and pulls back the curtain. Outside the window, arms spread wide apart, is Zabuldygina in a ridiculous pose.) Get out of my home! Together with your poor old hag! Who can climb along the wall to the second floor... SABULDYGINA (From beyond the glass.) Open the window, parasites! Open up, I can fall! BORIS So, fall! I didn’t invite you to my home! We don’t know how to get rid of you... ZINA Boris, quieter! We’re being filmed... (Runs up to the window and opens it.) (ZABULDYGINA climbs inside.) GEORDIE Lala, I think something doesn’t quite fit with your story. It turns out your poor old woman can climb the wall like a monkey. LALA Not your problem what she can or can’t do. Your job is to shoot, and later we can cut out the episode with the window. GEORDIE No! I won’t take part in this disgrace. LALA You will! GEORDIE No, I won’t! I was recently offered a job at Channel 10/3. And if your story airs, I can even fly over to Channel 54. SABULDYGINA Shoot, told you to! And don’t argue. Who are you anyway? Nothing but a technician. You’ll fly off the handle and stay out of work. GEORDIE Lala, why do you get mixed up with her? You presented her as noble, but here you’re ennobling this decrepit Stalinist.

III-14

SABULDYGINA Wha-at? I’m decrepit? I’m stronger than your stooping petty grouch. Can’t even force some riffraff to work... Slouch. LALA What liberties are you allowing yourself? I’m no slouch! Then what are you? SABULDYGINA

LALA I... I... I’m the winner of the “Lady Big-Mac”! But you... You... You really are a nasty old woman! Indeed, for such words, killing you is not enough... SABULDYGINA (Turns to GEORDIE.) Hey, young man! Don’t listen to her! Point the camera at me! Now I’ll tell everything without your puny Lala! And you’ll show people later... (Stands in front of the camera.) Listen to everything here! I burst into this den. Only looked around and I quickly see it’s filthy business. Some drunks! In short, only bums live here. The table is all covered with bottles and wine glasses! My head was spinning and I was stunned. Not only are there drunks and bums, but perverts also weave a nest for themselves here. You can’t imagine, good people, what they’re up to... (Points to ZINA and JULIE.) Here these young hussies smeared one side of their faces blue and the other heavens know what, and spruced up their hair with devil knows what. Real tarts! And they’re standing, twisting their behinds, back and forth, back and forth. Together with these bullies here. I’ll now show you how... (Wriggles her rump.) Like this... Like this... And the main thing, not only this, but naked! I’ll now show you how... And don’t look at them but at me! They’ve already managed to get dressed, but then they were looking like this... (Strips, wriggling.) Now you see what state I caught them in... GEORDIE (Shouts.) Stop! Stop, don’t! SABULDYGINA Don’t what? Don’t scare people. GEORDIE SABULDYGINA

III-15

(Points to ZINA and JULIE.) So, they can but I can’t? How am I worse than they are? GEORDIE You’re an old woman, no bombshell. SABULDYGINA A lot you know, rookie! Film me, told you to... Shoot, or it’ll be worse! GEORDIE Lala, what are we to do? Come on, give an order. LALA (Almost in tears.) Geordie, dear, I don’t know. Help me, please! You know I need this story. I can’t return without it... GEORDIE How can I help you? You took it on yourself. LALA I’ll get fired! Well, tell me what to shoot. I don’t know, I don’t know! GEORDIE And I know? At least, can’t shoot this biddy who climbs the wall. Especially when she strips... BORIS Listen, why did you come here? Were you really invited for this? Here, look! (Points to HERMAN.) Here’s the real bomb! Only not a bombshell... Film him! And us together with him... LALA Why? What’s he to us? No one needs this guy of yours. BORIS He’s not our guy! Understand? Not ours! What does it mean “not ours”? GEORDIE GEORDIE LALA

III-16

BORIS This is a spy! I hope there’s no need to explain how much you need him? ZINA Of course, they do! Everybody needs spies. LALA (Turns suspiciously to HERMAN.) Are you really a spy? Why a spy? Boris, why do you upset him? BORIS Fine, fine, let it be as you think. I understand nobody likes being called a spy. It really sounds offensive. Herman, you’re not a spy, you’re secret service. (Turns to LALA.) He’s secret service, sent by a hostile country to us! LALA (Repeats in a singsong voice.) Secret service... (Joyfully.) Geordie! Did you hear how lucky we are? Come on, shoot! (GEORDIE films.) LALA This is LaLa Laskovaya from Channel 24/5... We are... We are in the apartment of citizens showing particular vigilance! With their own strength, not distracting competent authorities from importance matters, they were able to neutralize and apprehend a dangerous spy of a hostile country. And our channel is the first on the spot where there is such a significant event for our city! Nothing is yet known about him, even those on duty who is obligated to know everything! You, dear viewers, who always stay with us regardless of what we show you, today, right now, will finally be rewarded for your patience! You will hear an exclusive interview with a real spy... Here he is, before you... (Points to HERMAN.) And with us too! Show us also! JULIE GEORDIE HERMAN JULIE

III-17

Later, later. We’ll work with you later. LALA Mr. Spy, please answer a very important question for our viewers. Which secret service do you work for? CIA? MI6? HERMAN Why have you decided that I’m a spy? JULIE (Tries to get into the frame.) He’s not a spy! BORIS (Tries to get into the frame.) I told you, he’s secret service! LALA Ah, my apologies, Mr. Secret Service. Please tell us, Mr. Secret Service, which agency sent you here, and for what purpose? HERMAN You know, my only goal... My stay here... LALA Yes, yes, Excellent! Please continue... And what does it include? SABULDYGINA Mock an older woman! Like me! Insult them any which way, hit them on the head... BORIS Don’t lie, old witch! It’s you who hit me on the head! And he only observed this on the side and saw everything. ZINA Even if he didn’t see it! Being a spy, he sees everything, hears everything, and knows everything about everybody. JULIE Zina, why do you repeat this nasty word? Herman is secret service, understand, secret service, not any spy. LALA Now let him, as secret service, answer our viewers. Please tell us, which agency do you represent here?

III-18

HERMAN The Intergalactic Shock Breakthrough Service, if you want. Pardon me? LALA

BORIS (Surprised.) So Herman, you’re not from the CIA? HERMAN No, I’m from the ISBS. BORIS Ah-h... Should have said so sooner! And we almost did a bad thing. Indeed, we could have nailed you. JULIE After all, whatever you may say, the CIA is no friend of ours. ZINA And the ISBS? Do you think that if the CIA is our enemy, then we must put down the ISBS as friends? JULIE Where is this very ISBS? In Alpha Centauri... HERMAN

(Everybody looks dumbfounded at HERMAN.) BORIS What, are you mocking us? HERMAN Why would I be mocking? Is this constellation really unknown to you? LALA Geordie, stop! Wait a bit with the shooting... Tell me, what do you think, whom are you filming now? GEORDIE Lala, when I’m shooting, I try not to think at all... Especially about whom I’m filming. SABULDYGINA

III-19

He’s filming a psycho! I told you, some Lady Big-Mac, film me! But no, wanted to surprise the dimwits with a spy. Look at him, what spy is that? So, you’re not a spy? LALA

HERMAN No, I’m Captain of the Intergalactic Shock Breakthrough Service. LALA (Confused.) Geordie... I’m uneasy about something... Seems to me I’m definitely getting fired today. JULIE Why would they fire you? For reporting from our apartment? ZINA Again yours? This is my apartment! Mine, not ours! JULIE I’m saying: why will they fire her? For our catching an intergalactic secret service in your apartment? LALA There is no intergalactic secret service. ZINA Not on your lousy channel because there’s not enough money on this for you! It does on national channels, and ghosts, UFOs, Bigfoot, and horoscope eight times a day... LALA But he’s not Bigfoot! And not a ghost... (Touches HERMAN.) Ah, if only he were a ghost! Geordie and I would have a remarkable story... It would be shown on Channel 9, and Channel 8, and even... HERMAN If I were a ghost, I’d try to avoid communicating with you. LALA You’re not a ghost, you’re a psycho! You’re all psychos here! Together with this lunatic who climbs the wall! SABULDYGINA

III-20

Search for psychos on your own TV! You’re crazy yourselves, and drive people crazy! Search closer at yours and not among people. LALA What people? He says that he’s Captain of the Intergalactic Shock Breakthrough Service. So? BORIS

LALA Can’t even film this! Let alone show it. Why not? Because it’s not normal. BORIS Please, so it’s not normal, but paranormal. What’s the difference? Would that be easier for you? LALA (Uncertainly.) Well... If only paranormal... All the same, I should still make sure that your secret service agent didn’t escape from the loony bin. How do you prove that he’s all there in the head? We guarantee for his head. JULIE JULIE LALA

ZINA We do, we guarantee! We can guarantee this a hundred percent. BORIS Here we all trust him, all our society. GEORDIE That’s just not an argument. Our society always trusts those we shouldn’t. Every unsavory character... ZINA You’re an unsavory character! Come on, film the Captain of ISBS, and us together with him. GEORDIE

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I’ll shoot nothing without an order. While the boss hasn’t ordered me... LALA Geordie, I don’t know... Herman, do something! What can I do? JULIE Well, anything. Show them your capabilities. ZINA You were dancing so well! HERMAN I’m fully capable, and not just in dancing. SABULDYGINA How do you prove it? Where’s the evidence? I can show my rights. What rights? For operating a vehicle. HERMAN HERMAN SABULDYGINA JULIE HERMAN

SABULDYGINA Can you show your own car? At least you have a car, or just the rights? JULIE He’ll soon have a car. But this is irrelevant. SABULDYGINA You bet it does. Perhaps he drives around the city in an old “Soapbox”? Then no rights can help him. Any fool will tell you he’s crazy. HERMAN At present, I don’t have a car. I sold it. SABULDYGINA Aha! I suppose he even sold the “Soapbox” so he won’t be called crazy?

III-22

BORIS Why is he crazy if he managed to sell the “Soapbox”? Crazy is the one who bought it. JULIE Herman is normal, and even very smart. Must show him on TV for this one thing alone. And us together with him. And he’s not just smart, but also secret service! Intergalactic. So , come on, film while it’s not too late, else we can turn to another channel... LALA Fine, fine... So, we continue the interview with the agent from the constellation Alpha Centauri... SABULDYGINA Get real, Lady Big-Mac! We don’t need anyone from this Centauri. We don’t need anyone in the world at all. ZINA So, must ask him about this! What do they want from us? Why the hell should we surrender to them? (Turns to HERMAN.) What, you have nothing else to do on Alpha Centauri? What do they intend to do with us still? JULIE Will they stop mocking us some time, or not? BORIS How long will they continue to experiment on people? LALA Please, please! It’s not you but I who should be asking the questions! So, ask! JULIE

ZINA And quickly, before our patience runs out, else... Else there’s diddlysquat to show! BORIS LALA (Turns to HERMAN.) Do you hear? Our viewers want very much to know when your experiments will

III-23

end? Do you understand the question? Please answer them: when will you finish experimenting on people? (Everybody looks at HERMAN. GEORDIE first films, then lowers the camera.) HERMAN (Thinks for a long time.) Unfortunately, I cannot give you an answer to this question...

End

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