Can One Live This Way?

A Ten-Minute Play by Natalya Churlyaeva
Translated from Russian by Jane H. Buckingham

Natalya Churlyaeva Kolomenskaya 12/42 Krasnoyarsk, Russia churyahin@rambler.ru
Can One Live This Way? by Natalya Churlyaeva

CHARACTERS
GALYA: a middle-aged housewife. VADIM: GALYA’S husband. YURA: GALYA’S son. YANA: GALYA’S daughter.

Can One Live This Way? by Natalya Churlyaeva

SETTING
The action takes place in Galya’s apartment.

TIME
The present.

Can One Live This Way? by Natalya Churlyaeva

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As the curtain rises, the large room is in semidarkness. There is a table in the middle. GALYA sits by the table with her head on the tabletop. In front of her on the table are a glass and a half-finished bottle. VADIM enters. VADIM (Turns on the light.) Are you at this again? (GALYA tries to wake up, but cannot.) VADIM Galina, do you hear me? I'm talking to you! GALYA (Talks through her sleep.) Leave me alone. VADIM (Shakes GALYA'S shoulder.) Wake up. GALYA Why? VADIM Because your husband came home from work. GALYA From w-work? (Lifts up her head.) What do you have that's work? (Spitefully.) I know this work. Fondle the broads, and lick the boss' ass... VADIM Listen, you! Shut your filthy mouth. GALYA I won't! I'm your wife! Besides, a legal one. After all these years of suffering with you, I've earned the right to say what I think of you. VADIM You can no longer think. You simply have nothing to think with. Ruined your brain with drinking long ago, trash.

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GALYA Don't you dare insult me! I can... VADIM You can what? Still drink another glass of wine? (Takes the glass and pours wine from the bottle into it.) Here, drink up! (Pushes the glass closer to GALYA.) Drink! Always not enough for you. Have another glass... (Put the glass into GALYA'S hand.) GALYA (Takes the glass and examines it with drunken eyes.) No! VADIM Why not? You want to say you won't drink it? GALYA I will... Only tomorrow. Have to leave it till morning, else my head will really hurt. VADIM (Gives GALYA a slap in the face.) Galina! I'd kill you. GALYA (Throws the glass of wine in VADIM'S face.) Don't you dare lay a hand on me! Ever. VADIM I hate you. GALYA (Grins drunkenly.) But I love you... You're indeed the father of my children... (Giggles maliciously.) VADIM (Wipes his face with a hanky.) Enough! Stop talking about the children. GALYA (Spitefully.)

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My children, and also your children... But parents should always talk about their children... And the main thing, everywhere. Right? You do this yourself, everywhere tell what remarkable children I've given you. VADIM I said: don't touch the children. GALYA Ooooh... (Mimics.) Don't touch the children... Anyone who doesn't know you would think: what a caring father! (With emotions.) How caring, simply exemplary! A father of all fathers! (Sits down and continues in her normal tone.) But you're not so... Quite the opposite. You're even not their father... VADIM Don't continue! I warn you, never touch the subject. GALYA And what will you do to me? What can you do to me at all? Who are you that you can do something to me? You're nobody! Just the son of your father, a father who had already rotted in the grave long ago. By yourself, you're a big fat zero. You only know how to suck up to the boss. Not a man but a flunky... VADIM (Grabs GALYA'S by the hair.) I'll show you, you miserable fool, for these words... GALYA What? You'd kill me? VADIM (Grabs GALYA'S throat with one hand.) I'll choke you! GALYA And you'll go to jail. But there're those like you... Very fond of... (Giggles maliciously.) VADIM (Pushes GALYA away.) I can't even look at you. I hate you! Hate you!

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GALYA (Gets up from the table.) I only hear this from you... (Mimics.) I hate you, hate you... (Sits down on the sofa. Sobers up a little.) My dear, to hate is not your role. Your role is to love! All, and each...and every...except me... But why, why couldn't you love me for the rest of your life? I haven't done you any harm... VADIM You've ruined my life, drunk! GALYA And you? You didn't ruin me? VADIM What? How could I have ruined you? GALYA Life. My life. VADIM What life did you have that was ruined? GALYA Before I met you, I had a normal life. I lived as all normal people and could have gone on living that way. VADIM How? Like your parents, the alcoholics? Of course, you could have lived like them, in such misery and poverty, only you didn't want to. GALYA Because I fell in love with you. VADIM You're incapable of loving anyone or anything at all, except money. GALYA It's you who loves nothing except money! VADIM You think so? If it were really so, then why would I need you? GALYA
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So that you would have the opportunity to rake in money. It's I who gave you this opportunity! If not for me, if I didn't save you, twice, then you wouldn't even be able to get minimum wage now. So, everything you have... (Indicates the surrounding with her hands.) Lots of everything...even more than necessary. Take note, all this is thanks to me... (YURA enters.) VADIM (Looks around at YURA.) Why did you come? And why without notice? YURA I need something. VADIM You always need something. Just like your mother. YURA Is that bad? VADIM What's bad? YURA That I'm like mother. VADIM Look at her, is this good or bad? (Points to GALYA.) Drunk, as always! So, this is good? GALYA Good! Very good! At least, much better than taking after you, my dear hubby. YURA Are you two bickering again? GALYA (Maliciously.) No, sonny, we're not bickering, we're just talking this way with each other. YURA You talk this way all your life. VADIM
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Well, if we talk this way all our life, then you would already be used to this. YURA A person gets used to the good very quickly, but the bad, never. VADIM If you think it's so bad here, then don't come. And if you don't come here at all, I won't mourn over it. YURA Why? VADIM Why? Because you don't live up to my expectations. YURA That's not an answer. GALYA (Laughs.) Now here's news! It turns out that papa had expectations of sonny. VADIM You bet. GALYA Why did you never mention this? (Makes a face.) Perhaps I would help you somehow with these expectations... VADIM You will pester me! (Threatens GALYA with a hand.) YURA (Grabs VADIM'S hand.) Father! Don't you dare touch Mother. VADIM (Pushes YURA away.) And don't you dare touch me, you bastard! YURA If I'm a bastard, then you're the father of this bastard! VADIM
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Not likely. GALYA Yurka, calm down, you're not his bastard... (Laughs spitefully.) You have another father... YURA (Waves this off.) Enough! I've already heard this drunk lunacy. And more than once... (Turns to VADIM.) Father! Can't you finally make a decision about Mother? She had long needed treatment. You can send her to a private hospital. Maybe they'll help her there? VADIM Everybody will know this right away. YURA So? VADIM I can't do this in my position. YURA Why? Why not? So what, she's indeed sick! Many relatives are alcoholics, there's nothing to be ashamed of. VADIM Have you ever heard of people with my social status treating an alcoholic wife? YURA Well, then I don't know what to do with her. I can only say one thing: can't live this way any longer. GALYA So kill me! I'll die and you won't have any problems. Will live happily ever after... Can even live together...like husband and wife... (Giggles maliciously.) YURA Fool! GALYA Don't you dare insult me! I'm your mother! YURA
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What kind of a mother are you, if you can say such things? GALYA I only say them, but he... (Points to VADIM.) ...does... VADIM This is an outrage! Enough! I refuse to live with you... (Turns to YURA.) That's it, take her with you and do whatever you want with her. YURA Why me? In a month, I'm flying to London for training. VADIM Then phone your sister. Let her take her. YURA She won't. She has a new boyfriend, 7 years younger. Where is she going to find the money for a crazy mother? GALYA I'm not crazy! And I was never crazy. I'm just very unhappy... And you...you, my son, can't understand this...can't forgive your own mother...forgive her for giving birth to you, though there was not need to...should never have... You're indeed no child to me... YURA Wh-at? GALYA You were my perjury. Which I gave birth to in order to save him... (Points to VADIM.) ...from big trouble... YURA (Turns to VADIM.) Father, it seems to me that she desperately needs a psychiatrist. Her alcoholic mania has started! GALYA I don't have any alcoholic mania. You don't get that from 2 glasses of wine. What mania if everything inside me is frozen...iced over... I haven't been a woman for a long time... not even a person... (Turns to VADIM.) Don't look at me like that. I'm not afraid of you.
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YURA (Gets ready to leave.) Fine, sort it out yourselves without me. I'm leaving... GALYA (Grabs YURA by his hand.) You're not going anywhere. Hear what I'll tell you. I'm tired of seeing how you pose as a wealthy heir... (YANA enters.) GALYA (Turns to YANA.) Ah-h-h! Here's another Russian elite! Speak of the devil. YANA I wouldn't have come, but I urgently need a hundred thousand. YURA And, of course, not rubles. As always, you need dollars. YANA As a matter of fact, I need Euros. VADIM Listen, I'm not giving anyone anything anymore. Understand? I'm tired of this. After all, my salary doesn't allow me to support your wild life among other things. Especially since... GALYA Especially since you're not obligated to do this... (Turns to YURA and YANA.) Yes, yes, exactly. He's not obligated to support you. You're nobody to him. YANA What's this nobody. I'm his daughter, and I love... YURA Moolah and young gigolos, who gives you pleasure. VADIM Shut up! Get out of here. Everybody get lost. YANA Papa, give me money, please, and I'll leave right away.

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VADIM No. YANA Well, give me part of it then. It's Valerii's birthday soon. He wants a new car, I promised him. If I don't buy him a new car, he's going to leave me. (VADIM sits down at the table, holds his head with his hands.) YURA If your Romeo needs money, car, and a double-barreled, let him earn them himself. YANA What double-barreled? VADIM Really, what double-barreled? (Becomes thoughtful.) Why a double-barreled... YURA It's a joke. VADIM I'm sick of you...all of you... (Leaves the room.) YANA (Calls after VADIM.) Papa, money! I beg you, bring money! YURA (Calls after VADIM.) Father, and don't forget about me! GALYA (Knocks on the table with her fist.) Listen to me! I just can't understand what I've given birth to, idiots or skunks. How many times do I have to repeat, he's not your father! He doesn't have kids, can't have! He's gay, understand, gay! And was always so... YURA So, what if he is? Who's shocked by this these days? I, for example is bisexual, and she's... (Points to YANA.) ...a complete pervert... She's a cougar...
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YANA I'm not a pervert. Now all older women have young lovers if they can... YURA That's exactly it, if they can pay them. But you can't pay, so you run here all the time for Father's money. YANA What's the difference whether I pay him with my money or Father's money. Father also doesn't give it to us from his own salary. It won't send him to the poor house, he's rolling in dough. GALYA (Turns to YANA.) And your father, your biological father, has nothing, no money! He has absolutely nothing! He's disabled from Chernobyl, understand? YANA (Walks up to GALYA and looks her in the eye.) Mama, if you slept when drunk with some handicapped with no money, then no need to confess to me now. If you slept with some current tycoon, then you could let me in on your secret now. But try to foist some penniless cripple on me instead of a rich father, it's just insane. And if you'll continue in the same vein... (Maliciously.) ...then I'll decide that you're simply insane, Mama. YURA I've been saying this for a long time! I already suggested to Father, have her diagnosed at some resort for mental patients, else she'll even find for me some bum instead of Father. GALYA Your father's not a bum. He's a respectable man, a doctor, all his life worked in ICU. YURA If he doesn't have his own plastic surgery clinic, then you don't need to continue. In this case, I have no intention of running to him for a DNA paternity test. I have a father, and while he has money, whoever he might be, I'd sooner renounce you than him... VADIM (Appears at the doorway, hands behind his back.) I heard everything. I've come to a decision. A final one. YURA It concerns Mother?

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VADIM Shut up, SOB! (Pulls out a double-barreled shotgun from behind his back.) It concerns all of you...every single one. YANA Father, what are you doing! Put down the gun! VADIM I'm not your father. GALYA (Turns to YANA and YURA.) Heard that? I've been telling you this, but you just want to send me to the funny farm. YANA Father, you raised us, and whoever raised us is our father! (Turns to YURA.) Right? YURA (Turns to YANA.) Why are you so scared? You think he's going to shoot us? Have no fear, he won't. VADIM (Turns to YURA.) You're sure? YURA Hundred percent. (Calmly walks to VADIM, who steps back.) Well, why don't you shoot? Afraid? Or you don't want to go to jail? GALYA (Turns to YURA.) Of course, he doesn't want to. If he did, you wouldn't have been born... (Turns to VADIM.) Am I right? I gave birth to Yurka only because you begged me to. Have you forgotten how you got down on your knees and pleaded with me to get pregnant quickly? Get pregnant with whomever I wanted, if only you wouldn't turn up in the slammer for a couple of years after the scandal with your underground VIP gay club. Haven't forgotten, huh? VADIM (Aims the gun at GALYA.) And have you forgotten how you deceived me? Have you forgotten how you married me? How you got me totally drunk in your stinking dorm? How you lied the next morning that I
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assaulted and raped you, a poor innocent girl! How you threatened my parents and me with jail if I didn't marry you? How you dragged your alcoholic parents from the village and they screamed, "What grief! Our daughter! Raped! Pregnant!" I was a real fool, got scared, and got married. Only when she... (Points to YANA.) ...was born after 6 months...I understood how you deceived me... GALYA I... VADIM You're a cheat! She weighed 4 kilos at 6 months! Cheat! You ruined my whole life! I hate you! Hate you! Go to hell, cheat! (Shoots GALYA.) GALYA Ah... (Slips down to the floor.) (YURA and YANA are numbed with horror, then try to talk at the same time.) VADIM Shut up, mongrels! YANA Papa! Papa! Calm down! VADIM (Aims the gun at YANA.) You can't even imagine how calm I am... (Shoots YANA, who grabs her stomach and slips down to the floor. Turns to YURA.) YURA Don't! Don't do this, I won't tell anyone! VADIM Of course, you won't... (Walks towards YURA.) YURA (Backs to the window.) I will be quiet! Only give me the gun... Okay? VADIM (Pretends to consider YURA'S proposal.)
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You want the gun? YURA Yes. VADIM Take it. (Hands the gun to YURA.) YURA (Takes the gun and notices that VADIM wears gloves.) You're wearing gloves? Why? VADIM (Abruptly pushes YURA out the window.) Because I'm sick to death with all of you. Because my whole life you interfered with me, but now I just want to live for pleasure. (Removes the gloves, puts them in his pocket, and leaves the apartment.) (The phone rings.) ANSWERING MACHINE You have reached the Karavaev's. Nobody is home right now, please leave a message. VOICE Vadim Sergeevich! I want to remind you that tomorrow at 10 you have a meeting with the investors. (The phone rings again after some time.) ANSWERING MACHINE You have reached the Karavaev's. Nobody is home right now, please leave a message. (The light gradually dims.)

End

Can One Live This Way? by Natalya Churlyaeva

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