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Ground Zero Aleksandra is a play composed of two compatible parts of contemporary life: terrorism and love, that is, marriage crisis. The September 11 events in New York interweave with dramatic events of a European family in Zagreb, a city which convincingly symbolises all dilemmas of Europe today with its dynamic yet controversial expansion. The two veriticales of the West – America and Europe – create a firm spiral of this double “merry tragedy”. The first one, Ground Zero, crystallises the tragic history of mankind as the culture of death and murder; the second one, Aleksandra, treats the dramatic nature of the Western model of love as a permanent fatal error, a permanent crisis of the seemingly monogamous love within the frame of monogamous marriage. The central character of this peculiar dramatic spectacle, in that mix of the rising chaos of death and chaos of love, is Aleksandra, a woman who with a final step worthy of a heroine abandons both her husband and lover. Verbal abuse and terrorism are not so far apart as they seem at first. Ground Zero Aleksandra takes place in the in-between space of cause and catastrophe. The metaphor of dance – a possible freedom for all – is offered if not as a “denouement”, then as a possible “way out” for the contemporaries. Yet, in the atmosphere of that possibility, there is a constant flow of dramatic questions whether this alienated and frightened man of the present wants freedom at all or whether he is just flirting with it during the holiday season or during occasionally fun relaxations, treating it as a short-lived carnival fact and not as a possibly permanent condition of the human world.


YEAR OF PRODUCTION: 2002.

CHARACTERS: 6 MALE

                     7 FEMALE

COPYRIGHT: ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.






 Characters



PRESIDENT

FIRST LADY

FIRST FIREFIGHTER, CHARLIE

HIS WIFE, BETTY

SECOND FIREFIGHTER, CARLO

HIS FIANCEE, ANNIE

THIRD FIREFIGHTER, CHARLES

HIS GIRLFRIEND, LYDIA

NURSE, TERESA

WOMAN, WIFE, ALEKSANDRA

MAN, HUSBAND, GASPAR

SEDUCER, MIHAEL

GRANDMOTHER, VERA



Note

The play proceeds without breaks. All stage directions, including this note, should be taken as broad suggestions. Although the stage directions are an integral part of the play, the work's compatible two-part structure makes it possible to treat them flexibly and generally enables great freedom of approach. The stage directions can even be transposed as sound into the fibre of the play. Something similar can be said of the sound effects and the music: the author has deliberately left enough space for all kinds of applications in line with the director's wishes. The same applies to the choice of film and video material on the video wall or a large transparent screen that may be used for projecting and through which the play can also be viewed. If the director does not wish to take advantage of the freedom offered, things can remain the way I wrote them.






Energy points, crime scenes

Zagreb, a city in blue, the red colour of decision. The dancing foundations of beings at war with themselves. The dancing attempt of freedom.

New York, the play of illusion and reality, an action spectacle, a multi-coloured reality show in the basic colour of death. A quiet, mute, funeral drama of ashes: Ground Zero.


P. S.

In those days the sun was without illusions. It shone with a glorious light.




1.
FRAGMENTS OF THE APOCALIPSE



The intense smell of burning.

Can the fullness of reality curb the richness of theatre? It can't. Can the events of everyday chaos outdo the playwright's imagination? No. At worst, it can waver for a moment. Already in the next moment, things return back to normal. A creative look at the world will discover with astonishment that it is seemingly free structures that best reveal the firm outline of a lack of freedom. The imagination survives on steel froth, on world necessity. The theatre is a place where illness, health and pleasure are diagnosed.

Can we distribute cruelty and horror evenly? Not really. Do we have the strength to understand indifference in its totality? We do. Do distinctly positive characters still exist? Hardly, because for a long time now real heroes have not been possible outside the world of comics and computer games. In the real world, illusions are disappearing. But we can come across positive characters every now and then. Especially when I am in a humanist mood, like now as I prepare the scene for Ground Zero Aleksandra, a fragile sketch of locations, a sketch of those areas where a crime has been or is being committed against the body or the soul, or both at once. Paradoxically, these are at the same time locations of some morbid aesthetic pleasure, an unusual pleasure not unlike that which occurs when people gather around the scene of a car crash involving many dead bodies. Why does looking at destruction and death hold such an attraction? There is as yet no complete answer. The apocalypse is complicated.

From the beginning to the end of the play an intense smell of burning.

In the middle of the stage, right up to the edge of the proscenium, is the relatively neatly arranged ‘’oasis of the little domestic chaos’’, a kind of combination of a living room and dining room, the space of a typical middle-class Western family. (If the play is performed outside of a theatre, in a sports hall, for example, or on concrete beneath a skyscraper, the suggested configuration of scenery can still function well.) This ‘’oasis of the little domestic chaos’’, Aleksandra, is surrounded by grayish-black ruins covered in dust and ashes. This is the apocalyptical Ground Zero. Building material, mortar and rubble, bent steel bars with fragments of concrete hanging from them, but also a half burned American flag. Smoke at the site of a fire, ashes, dust, burned concrete, glass and steel, and, buried beneath this big heap, dead bodies. During the action in Aleksandra, in the ‘’oasis’’, the Firefighters clear the rubble and communicate quietly. CNN reporters talk to one of the Firefighters. Photographers take photos of the horror scenes. The President holds speeches and gesticulates, or walks among the ruins with the First Lady. The Nurse searches for survivors in order to give them first aid. They all look like ghosts in the haze of smoke and dust.



2.
THE ZONE OF ASHES AND DUST



This is the age of authenticity.

A terrible thunder tears through the silence. The world shakes, the theatre hall shakes. The big towers crumble. Dust floats above the stage throughout the play. The pungent smell of burning and the dust sting the eyes and the respiratory organs of the actors and the audience.

Upstage there is a video wall. In its upper right hand corner are the letters CNN, and at top middle the words: THE UNITED NATIONS – THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PEACE.

Across the entire video wall we see scenes of the destruction of the World Trade Center towers, the famous Twins in New York. These authentic scenes, in which desperate people jump from the highest floors into the abyss to save themselves from the fire, unfold in complete silence. A scene in which a couple, a woman and a man, jump holding hands is in slow motion. The dubious beauty of this scene cooperates with extreme despair. During the entire play we see crushing documentary clips of the events of September 11, 2001, documentary scenes from American wars from Vietnam onwards, as well as clips from famous disaster films featuring New York. These are actually all action spectacles where reality and illusion are difficult to tell apart. The sounds from the films and documentary clips are accompanied by funeral marches, heroic marches or classical music with a fateful air, preferably music from the repertoire of Christmas concerts.

In order to underscore the complete indifference towards the world outside the selfish microclimate of the ego, an indifference which permeates the relatively safe “oasis of domestic chaos”, that is, the “oasis of the little domestic drama”, the material from the video wall also appears on the television screen in the house.

Lights on the ruins of the hell called Ground Zero, while the “oasis” remains, for now, in darkness or semi-darkness. A little bit Country and Western music, for instance Neil Young’s Field of Opportunity or Motorcycle Mama. Than a track of light on the President who is standing on an improvised speaker’s platform fixing his tie and his hair.  Even when he is speaking of serious or tragic things, a barely noticeable smile floats on his lips. He is not covered in dust, he is not strewn with ashes. The President taps his finger on the microphone and says “One, two, one, two”. Then he stands upright and circles around with his eyes, decisively taking in the whole world.

PRESIDENT barely concealing a gloomy diluvial pleasure at the way the situation is developing, that is, he is alive and feeling well, and, above all, he loves his work, he truly takes pleasure in the power he exudes through the cellophane of the hearty, convivial modesty of a man in the field, a man on an official excursion into some excitement, even danger

I am the President. During these past few days, while postcards from the hell of Manhattan have been flooding the world, I’ve been working a great deal. The production of death is in my job description, as is the enjoyment of life. This contrast makes my job extremely exciting. I’ve loved my job ever since classical times and I’m damn good at it. I’ve held a few encouraging speeches. Believe me, it wasn’t easy.   I’m an artist of interesting monologues, but in the last few days because of the credibility of the institution of the President and because of future presidential elections I’ve had to insist on being serious rather than interesting. This is the age of authenticity, an age that places great challenges before our presidential profession. And it is always the age of authenticity and the colours are always true as blood. I’m quite educated so I know what I’m talking about. I mean, remember my well known biography. It’s a good biography. A masterpiece, I would say. For thousand of years now, smoke, fire and ashes have been stinging my eyes because I go out and visit the brave people in the field. Although my eyes sting and itch, sometimes I even joke a little in order to encourage these heroes of our nation. Fellow Americans, I am the President but this does not mean I don’t have the right to rest my sore eyes and joke at my own expense. Even I have the right to a little humour at the end of a hard day. In a democracy, everyone has the right to a little humour, even those who have lost their loved ones. How else would we cope in this factory of life for recycling eternal death? Yes, yes, my fellow Americans, each of us must ask himself what he has done for the nation and not what the nation has done for him. Just like JFK, my favourite predecessor in this post, I too always say: “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”. Take me, for example. Because of black Tuesday, because of this hell here He points at Ground Zero.  I gave up a golf game that was arranged ages ago for Thursday, which is today, and I’ll be damned if that doesn’t make me proud. I am the President. I’m a damn good President. You could say it’s a family business. Still, Daddy and I are different. He had none of the dramatic pathos in difficult situations that I have, for instance. He was merely a charming digital armchair warrior behind an elegant screen. I’m not saying he wasn’t good at his job. Hell, I’ve learned a lot from him. I’m only saying that he didn’t have the aura of the strong guy next door like me. Now, after black Tuesday, I’m the spectacular hero because I immediately came to the scene of the crime and I’m spending time with perfectly normal people who earn only forty thousand a year, maybe even less. He points to the ruins, the Firefighters and the Nurse. Ha! Drama and tragedy are definitely dead. The spectacle has been in for a long time now. The spectacle is a state of mind, the spectacle is the state of the world. This horror has been in preparation for centuries. Makes a circular movement with his arm showing the ruins. I’m the President and I’m always prepared for the worst, which is sometimes the best, you know what I mean. Never in my rooms did I succumb to any metaphysical prittle-prattle, pf, pf, pf , like those protagonists and employees of Shakespeare’s, those soft-skinned hesitators, or those invalids of Beckett’s, total irrationalists, confused and waiting for karma, who are so appealing to people with no imagination, with no message, nothing to say to this world with so much on offer. No, no and no. I immediately dealt with the problem. Already at the biblical beginning of my term I promised prosperity and abundant wellbeing for all. But I also promised blood, sweat and tears. And isn’t this what we have now? Did I not fulfill my promises? Yes, yes and yes! I was always among the first when it came to giving and that despite the danger, gentlemen. Yes, yes. For instance, in February this year, when I donated blood for the first time as President, the adhesive tape that holds down the needle almost came off. At least it seemed that way to me, so I vigorously waved my hand to stop it, you know me, so that the needle fell off for a moment, at least I thought it did, so I almost burst with pride that even as President I was donating blood, and for a moment, but only for a moment, I fainted. The doctors panicked and quickly brought their President to consciousness. Don’t worry guys, I told them, this is nothing. Your time is coming. The time of great disgust and enormous pollution. You will have to clean the stars of human shit while shouting “Hallelujah” in order to keep up the illusion of romance in the universe. You know the west side story? Yes, we know, we know. Yes, that’s the one. That’s what I told them and then I sprightly got to my feet. Ah, what’s a little spilled donated blood! They looked at me in admiration. Wanting to encourage the nation, I donated some more blood in July, two days before Independence Day, more precisely on Monday, July 2, which is to say four days before my birthday on July 6. Unlike that time in February, this time everything went well. And I was rewarded for this gesture of donating blood. In memory of this patriotic act on the occasion of Independence Day, the doctors gave me a little bottle of my own blood which I always carry with me so that every now and then I can boast and show it around, but, in fact also to encourage the American nation to follow my example. Out of his pocket, he takes a little glass bottle with blood red liquid . He proudly shows it around and puts it back in his pocket. After donating blood I enjoyed eating my favourite hamburger, the Big Mac, and had a glass of Californian red wine. Then I got up, greeted the doctors and cold-bloodedly put on my new suit. My First Lady chose this red tie to go with the blue suit. With a casual gesture he fixes his tie. But, people, the most important thing now is to clear this rubble and hand out medals, decorations, badges of courage, severance pay, fees, awards and the rest and find a good market for the tax payers’ money. There are no more survivors in this hell anyway. That’s right. I’m always where the President should be. When Alamo fell, I was there. When Pearl Harbor was attacked, I was there. When Berlin fell, I was there. When the Berlin Wall was being built, I was there. When the Berlin Wall was being pulled down, I was there. When the Alexandrian library was burning I supervised the carrying of water. The water carriers, all of them famous readers, trembled with excitement. What a day! I’ll never forget it. Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to save the books. But hey, fuck the books, if you’ll allow the colloquialism. Lives are what matters, especially beautiful lives. What’s important is that I saved the beautiful Amneris, my God, the appealing Egyptian ebony woman, the former Miss Alexandria, the woman who wiped the dust from Aristotle’s opus. Besides her, I saved the other actresses, Electra, Medeia, Fedra, Iocasta and many others; I saved all those heroines of our youth, all those strong female personalities with pleasure and menstruation in their eyes and crime in their blood. Ah, Alexandria, and those beautiful city girls near the public royal library. I also met Aleksandra, the famous dancer from the future Ukraine - we called her Sasha - and I started some damn good vibrations in her. Yes, yes my fellow Americans, I was always first in line when the going got tough. And here again I’m first on the scene. This is Ground Zero, a nightmare theatre, an Artaudian vision live. Up on Broadway all they do is fuck around. That’s the truth. This here is the real thing! I’m the first President whose office took him straight to hell. Ground Zero is the highlight of my career. I’ll bet you I’ll get re-elected for another term because I showed courage and that is what the people of this free country love and respect the most. I’m the first statesman to arrive at Ground Zero. While everything around me was covered in smoke and dust I simply took the megaphone and told the guys that, regardless of the sacrifices, we will defeat evil and our revenge will be terrible, as always. Isn’t that right, guys?!

THE FIREFIGHTERS all at once
That’s right Mr. President, We’re all proud of you. Hip, hip, hurray! – Shout the Firefighters and go back to clearing the rubble.

PRESIDENT with just a hint of a smile
OK, people, a terrible evil in the form of Satan has attacked what is good, as always, and I can look, without shame, into everyone’s red terrorist eyes and say that the empire strikes back. I swear by the star treks of my nation, those nomadic picnickers in tents who have confused the colour of blood, the colour of oil and the colour of money, I swear they’ll pay. Some smart asses, even from our own ranks, very confused egg-headed intellectuals, say that we presidents are to blame for this hellish disaster Points with his hand at the scene, the audience, the whole world. That we are to blame for the expulsion of the Jews from Egypt, from Europe and God knows where else; that we are to blame for Korea, for Vietnam, for all the world wars and local wars. Really! You don’t say! If today weren’t such a serious day I would answer them the same way that I speak to desert skunks on my ranch in Texas. I would simply tell them to forget poetry. I would tell them that it was futile in the difficult conditions of industrial and post-industrial production, as was already stressed by the good old Cotton King from Arizona, who read our poet Whitman in the original. Poetry can succeed only in the delicate conditions of feathers and down. I had a dream last night. I dreamt that I had a fierce sentence for that guy in the tent: “If you took out a poker of blind Jacks and gave me the hell called Ground Zero, tomorrow I’ll have a poker of aces for you and give you the hell called scorched earth, the hell called Wasteland.  Say goodbye my friend, say goodbye to all the luxurious tents North, West and East of the Nile.” Yes, that’s what I told him. Here, my First Lady can confirm it. The First Lady, woman, mother and wife who always stands by me. I’m already very tired of all this He gestures with his hand towards Ground Zero. and today I still have to complete a full and proper inspection of the site. Then tomorrow there are the meetings with the Senate, Congress and all those desiring money, influence, power and prosperity.

FIRST LADY in an elegant suit the colour of clear skies makes her way through the rubble and stands by her husband, throwing back her hair in that irresistible manner of a girl who has studied body presentation in Hollywood

I am the First Lady and I studied body presentation in Hollywood. Everything the President has told you is true. He did have that dream and told me about it first thing at breakfast. We have no secrets. We’re a perfect couple. Although I never cook, since this horror started I have taken over the kitchen because I no longer trust cooks. Maybe they were infiltrated already in Roman times, these so called sleepers, and have been waiting for the right moment to poison the President and the First Lady to make it easier for them to rule the world, the world as a kitchen, you know what I mean. I cook all day long. I make all kinds of dishes, but most often I make a high-calorie pizza with a lot of spicy ketchup. With the pizza I usually serve Coca Cola, sometimes Pepsi Cola, depending on my mood. That makes the meal complete. I always check the napkins, because I heard that’s how they smuggle that white drug that makes you sleepy, that weakens a statesman’s concentration and generally has an impermissibly relaxing effect. I also read historical books about first ladies. I study the strategies they used to keep their husbands and how they opposed the opposition or hastily organized coalitions whose goal was to distance them from their historically important husbands. The First Lady’s job really isn’t easy. I have to choose ties and suits for my husband, and as for my own clothes I have to be as watchful as a hawk not to make a mistake and wear something twice. Envious journalists, so-called publicists, would tear me apart in their merciless yellow media. That Judith Butler would speak up as well, the most badly dressed intellectual between the two coasts, the one that writes complicated frustrated essays and those poisonous columns of hers. Generally, we’d hear from all manner of envious lesbian and feminist scum of irreparably rural backgrounds and with no political correctness in their actions. Yes, yes, that’s how it is. Every day I spend fifteen minutes on the Internet studying the clothes of all the modern day first ladies so that I may avoid negative surprises from this dressmaking and fashion competition. I also have to be very educated. I know all there is to know about Brač stone, Amsterdam tulips, Chinese silk and Egyptian pyramids. My brain is as full of data as the strongest and biggest hard disk in the Pentagon. Also, every day in between my many obligations I read poetry, although it has been said that it is a futile thing. Yes, I’m thinking, it is futile, of course, but during those casual relaxed conversations between first ladies it is good to know who wrote all those leaves of grass and generally the blades of all those plants. Between you and me, I sometimes help write the speeches that my husband, the President, must hold the following day. Also, every day the President and I spend a few minutes preparing preventive clever replies to all sorts of stupid and difficult questions which strange soft people ask my husband on various TV shows. A few days before this hell Points at the ruins. I advised the President regarding the relatively difficult question of who was the greatest philosopher of all times. I told him to simply say it was Jesus Christ. And really, you wouldn’t believe it, on that very afternoon he was asked that exact same stupid question. And without hesitating the President said the name of our man from Bethlehem, the well-known philosopher of the little man who from the very beginning has been working for us on the globalization of the poor in spirit so that we may rule more easily. The first amendment is his very own ingenious trick, a brilliant joke... Oh, oh it's hot in here, this smell of burning is biting my nostrils but I'm glad I have the privilege of visiting our heroes, our brave firefighters. The Bravest, as they are officially dubbed here in New York. I was glad to inspect the ruins with my husband, accompany the President, that is. And then rush, rush on home to make dinner, a high-calorie pizza for ten guests from various countries. Thank God there's plenty of Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola. You'll find out everything else, in detail if necessary, from the Nurse. She is also a woman, if you know what I mean.

The First Lady bows at the world in general and with an irresistible gesture fixes an unruly lock of hair, climbs down from the platform and joins her husband for an official inspection of the ruins. Media flashes are everywhere. A CNN team is also there. Then a track of light on the Nurse as she crouches down among the ruins looking for survivors who need first aid. She stands up straight and shakes the real and imaginary worlds of death from her uniform.

THE NURSE fixes her cap with the red ‘’plus'' sign and approaches the platform smiling with her full, wide, beautiful, humane lips

I told the President that it's been two days already and that there is no hope left. The experts say there are no more survivors, dear God. The firefighters saved all those they could reach and those still showing signs of life. Yes, but the President says Teresa, do everything you can. All right, I'm a professional, I'm doing everything that has to be done. And besides, I voted for him. I like the man. That gait of his, the gait of the first settlers. Firm and agile as a cat. As solid as the Statue of Liberty. Quick as lightning, always so full of hope. I'll bet he has a hundred notches on his tool for sexually welding his female associates. And that every decent woman in this nation of ours dreams of sharing her household with him, for better or worse... But what was I actually going to say? Nothing important. I'm a nurse and nothing human is alien to me. This world is terrible, this is a trivial fact. In this world almost 30% of women have never had an orgasm. They all live unhappy lives without real memories and in the end death reaches them without them ever having felt an orgasm. What kind of cosmic justice is that? No justice. Until recently I was one of those poor souls, I was a part of those infamous 30%. Until I met my very own police officer, my all-American guy. But let's not talk about sex and love, I'm on duty now. Things have never been easy for me. After everything I went through at neurosurgery, I still have to work here in this hell. Ground Zero is definitely the height of my career. But too much is just too much, enough is enough. After this job I'm retiring, I've made up my mind. I want to still be relatively young when I watch my grey hairs grow in peace, drink red wine and read interesting, combative interviews with strong, multi-dimensional intellectuals who speak the truth revealing charlatans in the medical, entertainment and other industries. I like strong, decisive and determined characters who verbalize until the point of pain the pain of their emptiness, the way of their emptiness. I want to walk a little in the streets of the city with my eyes covered so that I don't see the morally dubious whores, the main tourist attraction of my city. My future husband will help me, he will hold my hand. And now for a few small indiscretions from the clinic where I work. I spend my lunch break looking at white bloodless gauze. This relaxes me. I've had enough of blood-stained gauze. Do you see, do you understand this? I've had enough blood, enough! I've had enough neurosurgery! I will suffer if I have to, but I've had enough of those shallow tricks by bad actors in E/R. and other trashy soap-operas that show nurses in an eternal neurotic rush. I am slow and conscientious, in the sense that haste makes waste. In my dreams a red river flows. Enough, enough! Enough, damn you... Idiots, all you can think of are your smooth ATM cards. You've robbed Ground Zero, you've robbed all the ATM machines in this area, you vultures. The day before yesterday and yesterday you stole fifteen million, the day before yesterday and yesterday, while I searched like a lunatic for survivors... Idiots, that's not your money. Idiots, idiots, freaks. You’re nothing but ordinary three-day old sandwiches. You're a horror, Stephen King personally. Just you wait until our wise and relentless Noam Chomsky gets you... You’re the obsession of big shopping-malls, you idiots, you fat cannons without any sense of blue sky and curly clouds... Her shouting grows louder as she gets back to work, looking for survivors among the ruins.

FIRST FIREFIGHTER shaking off ashes and dust, fixing his helmet and putting the megaphone to his lips. He speaks in a raised voice but in a composed, firm and decisive manner

I am a firefighter. That says it all. I went to school for years, so that I may watch, as an expert, how fire swallows everything in the line of fire. I agree with Heraclites who said that the universe is an eternal fire, measures of it kindling and going out without measure. Still, modern science has discovered that fire tends to be kindling more than going out. I am a firefighter. We firefighters, we are the heroes of the streets. In this town they call us The Bravest, and rightly so. All the boys in this town dream of one day becoming firefighters, the only macho types who deserve that name along with police officers and garbage men. We jump headlong into the fire while others run far from it. During these past few days in these ruins, in this horror, He shows gestures with his hand at Ground Zero. while we were saving the few survivors, many of our colleagues lost their lives. I am a firefighter. That says it all. Meaning, my job is entirely futile. My job is not unlike writing poetry. You can write like crazy, man, you can write till Kingdom come, you can write tons and tons of great poetry, enough to make your head hurt. But fools will ignore it. The majority of the world population will not understand anything. People are as stupid as cattle after feeding. They insist on holidays as if that's what's really important. As if on those days they’ll be doing something very important. Poetry? Not a chance. Landscape lyrics maybe, but anything that has the slightest traces of a universal dimension simply won't get into their heads. Take that verse by the Croatian poet Tadijanović ''my mother weaves white linen''. Entire generations have been unable to cope with it. A little textile metaphysics and everybody's fucked. Good one, Tadijanović! You really landed one on them there. I'm telling you that people are stupid. It's the same with fire. My profession was invented by occasional politicians - I mean the fire-lover Nero and his team from the Colosseum - so that sensationalist journalists could always have powerful photographs. Some problem, eh? You just stand at the fire scene and shoot. A real all-engulfing and serious fire can't be put out by anyone. I said so to the Russian Tsar when Moscow was burning, but he didn't react. He looks at me with that strange Russian look of his and says put it out, put it out, batchsushka. Whatever the cost. Stupid. People are really stupid, batchsushka. For example, always, but always, for thousands of years now, whenever Etna wakes up, the entire population is always really shocked all over again. Instead of simply moving fifty miles away from the crater and that's it. Ah, the Russian Tsar. This current president of ours is more reasonable. He comes to Ground Zero already the next day and says, OK, guys, save what you can. He doesn't insist on the impossible task of putting out the fire. He doesn't nag and ask for the impossible, he doesn't insist on putting out the general fire, the fire as such. The President is a stern rationalist, an optimist with a lot of good nature. He has beautiful blue eyes, the colour of the Texas sky. He's a really good man, this President. I often use a megaphone to achieve good communication among people. But sometimes the megaphone is not enough. Despite the general babbling, people are increasingly uncommunicative. You can shout your head off, saying, people, get away from the fire, get away from the fire, but it's no good. I'm a good firefighter, I don't drink, I don't smoke. I often joke with my wife about what would happen if I started smoking. She tells me, don't you dare, I'll leave you and go at once. You don't say! Where would you go? To my sister's, she says. You foolish woman! Your sister hates you because you stole me away from her back in high school. Do you think she's forgotten that little anecdote? You're wrong if you think she has forgiven you that fantastic trick when you deliberately fell at ice-skating so that I could help you up slowly, and then buy you tea, pop-corn, hot lemonade and other sedatives and then marry you in a hurry. Ah, women. Yes, I'm a firefighter. And that's why each one of my monologues has the added weight of universal questions. When Rome, Moscow, Stalingrad, Dresden, Beirut, Baghdad and other cities were burning they asked me, Charlie, how long will this go on? I told them the truth. I told them that fire, when it really starts burning, swallows everything, even cities with strong names, even those with the strongest names. Yes, I'm a good firefighter and a good husband. I'm a member of a public lending library seven blocks from this horror. I can't wait for the first book on Ground Zero. There's no chance that it'll come out without my photo in it, no doubt about that. I've been here from the beginning and I have a trustworthy face, whatever that means. I read a lot, I do crosswords and I know what I'm saying. I donate blood regularly. Soon I'll be getting my gold badge for my hundredth donation, yes sir! I'm a really good guy. That's why I always wonder about people who keep on destroying and burning buildings in all sorts of ways. Although, generally speaking, my steady job depends on them, I often criticize them over a glass of beer, damn them. Shouting. Isn't that right, Carlo?

SECOND FIREFIGHTER wipes the sweat from his brow, cleans the inside of his helmet, takes the megaphone and, shouting with exasperation, replies

Yeah, Charlie, that's right, you're always fiercely criticizing those damn faggots that just destroy and burn, burn and destroy. It's their fault I haven't been on vacation in seventeen years. I've forgotten how to swim and how to ski. You know all this very well, because you're well read and well informed. I'm always talking about summer swimming and winter skiing. I’ve already bored the hell out of my fiancée and everyone. All I do is talk about work. Annie understands me and despite everything she wants to marry me, a firefighter. Once divorced, you understand. Fire here, fire there, fire, fire... They destroy and burn, and I put it all out and when the fire is over then I save the survivors and sort out the rubble and the dead bodies. You're right when you say our job is futile. We would be better off writing poetry, we wouldn't get so dirty. Just look at how dirty we are. Then again, a poet is even dirtier than us, poor guy. He's a cultural terrorist, fighting against ordinary terrorists. He distributes burning verses that nobody understands and history keeps on proving him wrong. And these pyromaniacs, all they do is carry kerosene, gasoline, various fuels and torches and then burn and burn, burn everything that will burn, burn selectively and unselectively, generally just burn with no connection to ecology...

FIRST FIREFIGHTER passionately raising the megaphone

You're right, Carlo. They just laugh, have a good time and travel like gentlemen pilots in cockpits; they travel in private ships, in balloons, having the time of their lives. And all I do is put out fires. I don't even have time to watch an ordinary baseball game. My Betty has been begging me for five years now to go see a normal movie. But I don't have the time for normal human life. Betty was terribly upset on Sunday. And she told me if I kept this up with work that she’ll deny me physical contact. That's all I need now. I spent the whole evening comforting her, trying to calm her down. Poor woman, she made the worst choice of her life in marrying a firefighter. It's true, all I do is put out fires. I do it in overtime. I put out fires and separate iron from concrete as if it was some kind of smart job. There’s as much dust on me as in a mid-sized Sahara. I'm as full of ashes as the biggest building sinner of Babylon. Nothing is as exciting as the bath tub of a firefighter after work. Three centimeters of liquid mud. I could grow tomatoes, kiwi and other fruits. I could, but I won't. I don't have a spare bath tub. And I want a bath after work. I was telling Charles about it yesterday. Isn't that right, Charles?

THIRD FIREFIGHTER wiping off sweat, fixing his helmet, taking the megaphone and shouting

That's right, Charlie, that's exactly what you said, and you're fucking right, man. I got it all in a second. Maybe I'll leave this job and go look for a normal profession, where you can see some damn results. I hear they're looking for riders in Colorado. I told Lydia. But, fuck it, you know these young girls. They think it's cool when I come home full of dust and the smell of burning on my skin. She said it makes her carnal climaxes better. Get a load of that, carnal climaxes! She told me confidentially: Charles, let my clitoris decide. OK, I said, OK, what else could I do? I don't know much about girls, but I do believe everything their clitorises say. I'm still green, but not so green as not to know the importance of the clitoris. The clitoris is the most important thing in the world. OK, I'm still green. All I do is ride and ride, wherever it takes me. Lydia says I should just let go and not calculate. She said, just you ride, honey, and things will be fine. But, Charlie, when are you gonna call this fucking lunch break? I'm starving.

SECOND FIREFIGHTER shouting into the megaphone

Yes, that's a very good question. Tell us, Charlie, you're this team's boss. I'm starving.

FIRST FIREFIGHTER looking at his watch, firmly

In twenty-two minutes, guys. No sooner. Our superiors are following our every move. Every dollar counts. Besides, this is a humanitarian action. Let the world see how we take care of our fellow man. Come on, hang in there a little more! I know this is pointless, but a lot of things are pointless and still people stick to the schedule. Just look at those silly Japanese in their Zen gardens, how they weed out their creeper plants and clean stones that have been clean for ages. Look at their silly ritual earthquakes every half an hour…

The Firefighters work, digging up rubble, searching for survivors. The Nurse also searches for survivors. The President and the First Lady walk among the ruins in a concentrated inspection. Ground Zero lives its posthumous life. All kinds of horror scenes on the video wall. Screams. The strange music of human death. Lights on the ''oasis of the little domestic drama''.



3.
THE PINK FAMILY ZONE
(Hesitation)


In its own way, life is hard everywhere, and so also in this combination of a living room and dining room. One couch, two armchairs, a low coffee table and on it a cordless phone, newspapers, a few books and a pile of illustrated magazines; a large cabinet shelf with a small bar (bottles of various drinks can be seen through the glass), books, a television set (72-cm), DVD, CD-player, video-recorder and a stereo. In the middle of this space there is a dining table covered with a table cloth and four chairs with upholstered backs. The only thing on the table is an ashtray. The television is on the whole time. Images without sound pass on the screen. They are the same images as those on the video wall but occasionally sound is also heard. In the Zone of Ashes and Dust, the Firefighters, the Nurse, the President and the First Lady are performing their tasks. These are people on a job. They look like ghosts. When the lights come on, the “oasis” is empty for a few moments, and then Gaspar enters. With long, nervous steps he approaches the bar, takes a bottle of Courvoisier and a glass, and goes to the table. He nervously pours himself a drink, then goes to the coffee table, takes a newspaper, goes back and sits at the dining table. He doesn't watch television at all. He sips his drink, lights a Marlboro, smokes and browses through his newspaper. Gaspar is a tall thin man with a narrow melancholic face. This makes his face look a little cruel. He's wearing a brown jacket, black trousers and a blue shirt with no tie. There are grey streaks in his hair. Soon Aleksandra enters dancing gaily through the door on the right. She spins around a few times. Thick black hair, curly afro-look hairdo. She's wearing a black georgette evening dress reaching to about ten centimetres above her knees, a black bolero made of the same fabric and black silk stockings. She's also wearing black high-heel shoes. Humming, she goes to the coffee table and energetically takes the remote control, putting it back immediately. Slight neurosis. An obvious lack of interest for world events. She goes to the cabinet shelf, takes three aperitif glasses and takes them to the table. Then she goes back, takes three large plates and napkins and then three wine glasses. She puts all this on the table taking no notice of Gaspar. He's no longer browsing through his newspapers. He watches her persistently, nervously puts out his cigarette and immediately lights another one. With a sudden twitching movement he finishes his drink and pours himself a new one. The trivial is never trivial enough. You always want more, more and more. Mammals love the glamour of a full emptiness. The surface of horror cannot be described. To put it simply, you cannot be trivial enough. Life is mostly made up of trivialities. Life shines with fast beauty.


1.

GASPAR (motions toward the table): For three, I see... There really are no limits to your audacity. You're actually setting the table for three. Your cousin was almost killed two days ago in New York, and you act as if nothing has happened.
ALEKSANDRA: Well he wasn't killed. And that's all that matters. As for the others, I couldn't care less. They can all kill each other for all I care. Five thousand dead, ten thousand, a hundred thousand even... What's it to me? The important thing is that Mladen is OK. Great. Case closed.
GASPAR: You're really something.
ALEKSANDRA: I have to think of myself. Life is short. I don't have time for pity. Only in case of war or accidents in my immediate surroundings, within 50 miles, only then am I concerned, concerned for myself... I don't care what happens in Osijek or Rijeka or Venice, let alone New York... OK, those first images, I admit, impressive, expressive... But it's got nothing to do with me...
GASPAR: Oh, let's just leave it, I don't really care about those images either, although the Hippocrates oath keeps running through my head... But you really are setting the table for three...
ALEKSANDRA: Aha, so that's what's bothering you my little penguin. You want to use terrorism as emotional blackmail. Well, you're playing the wrong card. Haven't I told you ten times already that I've invited him? Oh, please! Don't play the gangster from that film, Pulp Fiction or whatever it was called.
GASPAR: And don't you play that... that immoral woman from your favourite film Basic Instinct.
ALEKSANDRA: You're such a baby! I don't need to live like I'm in some film. I'm not into crime and I'm not immoral. I just want to live. Is that a crime? (Pause.) It's got nothing to do with feminism or anything like that. You need to come to terms with that, Gaspar. I'm like Africa, as Mihael likes to put it. And that's just how I feel, exuberant and wild. Always have, ever since I was a child.
GASPAR: I feel wild, too. My heart is full of expensive chili peppers. (He gives Aleksandra a menacing look.) I could smash something. Or do something even worse. For example...
ALEKSANDRA: Calm down, Gaspar. Besides, he wants to get to know you a little better, talk to you a bit, maybe give you a kiss on the cheek...
GASPAR: Fantastic. Wonderful. It doesn't even occur to you to ask whether I want to get to know him better. Hey, this man has been my nightmare for months. I dream about sharp knives, about slaughtering my opponent...
ALEKSANDRA: Listen, we've already... (Sits on a chair, pours herself a little cognac and drinks. Lights a cigarette, inhales and exhales. Gaspar is spinning his glass.)... we've already been through this.
GASPAR: We haven't been through anything. I tried a few times, but you act as if you're possessed. You just go around the house dancing and your eyes are shining like you're insane. I can't talk to you any more. You've become a real circus. But remember, I'm still your husband.
ALEKSANDRA: All right, I remember, I remember. And I see you every day in the bedroom, yuk, yuk, which is additional proof. Still, I don't see why you have to keep stressing it so much.
GASPAR: Well, because you're avoiding me, yuk, yuk. And you're neglecting Maria. Today, for example – you left her with her grandmother in the midst of all that unbearable old age. Couldn't the child have stayed at home? We've had guests before. But, oh, yes, Mihael is a special guest and you don't want to be bothered by a child while the two of you develop those complicated conversations of yours. All about dancing and poetry... and we know where all of that leads. Morbid.
ALEKSANDRA: You're skipping the facts again. (Points at his glass.) And you're drinking too much. First of all, her cough was getting worse so I left her with my mother because she is, after all, a doctor and so knows what's best for Maria...
GASPAR: And I don't? Aren't I a doctor?
ALEKSANDRA: Yes, but mother is more qualified, she's a GP. And second, it's not true that I'm neglecting Maria. I take her out for a walk every day and show her nature. And you tell me, how many mothers do you know who do that? All other mothers do is show their children yuk, yuk, toys, while I show our Maria nature. Maybe I'm neglecting you, but that's not my fault.
GASPAR: And whose fault is it?
ALEKSANDRA: Yours.
GASPAR: Mine!?
ALEKSANDRA: Yes, yours. When was the last time you told me you loved me? When was the last time you danced with me? When was the last time you kissed me, really, really kissed me?
GASPAR: Kissed you! Well, yesterday, Aleksandra, yesterday!
ALEKSANDRA: I said: really kissed me. Meaning intensely, if you like, wildly. When was the last time you showed me the stars?
GASPAR: Stars...
ALEKSANDRA: Yes, stars. What's wrong? Do I no longer deserve the stars in the third year of our marriage? Or at least a sentence or two about them...
GASPAR: Listen, I'm a doctor, not an artist. I'm a humanist. I treat people, sometimes I even feel compassion. I make a decent living, I'm politically correct, I vote for democracy and provide for my wife and child. I do not write sentences about stars. I’m not good at writing, darling. Don't you see? Remember my postcards from Paris? All I would write is ‘’I love you’’ and ‘’lots of love’’. I can hardly even write out a prescription. Poetry is your department in this house.
ALEKSANDRA: In a marriage, poetry is everybody's department.
GASPAR: Everybody's?
ALEKSANDRA: Don't play dumb. (Pause.) What about the pretty little junior doctors, night duty and nurses. You have no problem with poetry there, and at home you just sit around, eat apples and read those damned newspapers. You think I don't know. For example, that time...
GASPAR: Aleksandra...
ALEKSANDRA (furiously): While I was with our child, while I was...
GASPAR: Stop, Aleksandra! Calm down. I came out and confessed, didn't I? It was the only time I strayed, which wasn't all that strange. Two months of abstinence, a healthy man and...
ALEKSANDRA (not listening): While I was with our baby... I can't even bear to remember it. If you had only written a few words of encouragement, an apology, anything, any old yuk, yuk, without literary pretensions...
GASPAR: Aleksandra... Haven't I told you that for me writing...
ALEKSANDRA: And look at Mihael. (Gets up, puts out her cigarette and moves energetically towards the stereo.) He immediately felt the situation I was in, my growing sadness. He is so imaginative. He taped himself and sent me his words of encouragement. (Takes a tape from the shelf and puts it into the cassette player.) Listen to what he sent me for my birthday. And you? You gave me a washing machine.
GASPAR: Well that was what you wanted, wasn't it? You went on for months about how a new washing machine would really make you happy.
ALEKSANDRA: But why can't you ever surprise me for my birthday? I mean, a washing machine is all right. But an extra something. (Raising her voice.) Where is the extra something, a dessert, something? A little note in my dressing gown, for example, saying ‘’I want clean underwear every half an hour.’’ Or something like that. Something playful and silly. I want to feel that I'm alive. I always had this idea of marriage as the perfect place for real, full-blooded life. A place for all kinds of cultural refinement, frenetic excitement for two... And maybe it is, but ours isn't. And listen to this! (Turns on the cassette player.) Listen!
GASPAR: I've heard it twice already. Yuk, yuk.
ALEKSANDRA: Well listen again!

Mihael's voice coming from the cassette player.

MIHAEL: A fragment for Aleksandra's sadness

(Eine kleine Nachtmusik)

It's hard to tell the colours apart, but it's lovely to be in the street when autumn writes that stars disappear in the dust. Have you really seen them, all of them, when they fall? If you have, then you will understand that I appreciate their fall. Don't be sad, Aleksandra. Don't. The stars will return at the time of the fullest moon. That's the moon when you're happy. Be. Dance. Twirl your soul in the sun. Go wild in the Origin. Look at your eyes in the mirror and pray. Sing softly to the ants. Dream. This is your life.

Aleksandra turns off the cassette player and returns to the table. Gaspar yawns.
Aleksandra takes a sip of her cognac and lights a cigarette.



2.

ALEKSANDRA: Yawning, are you? And do you hear how Mihael encourages me? Be, he says. Dance, he says. And what do you tell me? Nothing. Just some plain everyday yuk, yuk...
GASPAR: Oh, come on, you're exaggerating. And what would I have left to say. I've already told you all that matters ages ago. That I love you and that I will love you till I die. Till death do us part. I don't have to repeat the same thing over and over again every day.
ALEKSANDRA: Of course not, you idiot...
GASPAR (Interrupts her): Don't you call me an idiot. In this house...
ALEKSANDRA (not listening): You should say the same thing, but in a different way. But you're cruel. Heartless, that's what you are. You come home from work and you say nothing. I'm lucky if I get a cynical comment about the food. (Imitates him.) ‘’Darling, don't just cook weeds. You'll turn into a vegetable.’’ Very funny, you carnivore. And this from a man who should, as a doctor if nothing else, argue for healthy food...
GASPAR: Look Aleksandra, you really should give it a rest. This isn't good for your blood pressure. You're crazier by the day. The horizons of your elementary understanding of the world as such are limited.
ALEKSANDRA: And you? What about you? Take a closer look at yourself! An intellectual, yuk, yuk...
GASPAR: You take a closer look at yourself. This Mihael will ruin you. I haven't been able to recognize you since you've been spending time with him. He's disturbed our marriage.
ALEKSANDRA: You've disturbed our marriage. A long time ago. All you ever do is sit, read, or watch TV, and not a word. Or you chew something. Mostly apples.
GASPAR (trying at a joke): Well, an apple a day keeps the doctor away.
ALEKSANDRA: Yes, and you answer the phone with your mouth full. You chew while you talk. Your face is grey and boring. It makes me sick. I can't take it any more. I need some laughter and humour. And some colour. Your face really is grey, Gaspar. I'm totally serious.
GASPAR: If that's really the way it is, well, you saw all that before. Why did you marry such a grey idiot? Why did you want to have a child with me? Why?
ALEKSANDRA: You were so caring and gentle. That's something every woman needs. Somebody to take care of her. I didn’t know it was just a mask. I didn't know you were so possessive and empty. You want a beautiful wife, an attractive lifeless icon, one that puts up quietly with your emptiness, one that serves for show. At home, she should be quiet and spread her legs from time to time... accelerate her pelvic movements...
GASPAR: Stop it, Aleksandra! You should be ashamed of yourself! How can you say that?! If I want a peaceful home, it doesn't mean I'm possessive. If it's natural for a man to take care of a woman, as you say, isn't it just as natural that he would want to have a peaceful home?
ALEKSANDRA: This isn't peace. This is pure boredom, pure apathy. Peace means at least a bit of laughter every day. Or horror, like during the war. I wish New York would happen here. People would finally look at their fellow creatures. Ever since the war ended Zagreb has been boring, you've been boring, you're possessive, you're sick, you lad! You frown even when Ana, my old friend, comes to visit. When you heard about Mihael, you became so possessive it was crazy. Don't I have the right to an intimate friend? If you can have coffee every day with that colleague of yours, yuk, yuk and...
GASPAR (Interrupts her): Possessive? I think I'm extremely tolerant. I simply can't believe how tolerant I am. I sit and quietly wait for your admirer to appear.
ALEKSANDRA: Admirer!?
GASPAR: Your potential lover.
ALEKSANDRA: Lover?! He is much more than that; he is my alter ego, my dancing companion... (Losing herself in rapture. Puts out her cigarette. Raises her glass for a toast.) He is a man who understands my efforts at a poetry of the everyday, my crude verse thrills him, my realist poetry delights him. (Pause.) You're too ordinary to understand. Now I finally see who I'm living with.
GASPAR: You've gone totally mad.
ALEKSANDRA: And you are totally ordinary, which is not far from madness either.
GASPAR: But I have money and come from a good family.
ALEKSANDRA: And I am unusual and beautiful. An artist of words by profession. My good looks attract attention wherever I am.
GASPAR: Beauty queens also get that sort of attention.
ALEKSANDRA: Yes, but I also have brains.
GASPAR: So, our interests match. Money, beauty and brains. Why then this damned Mihael?
ALEKSANDRA: We need some excitement, a touch of madness. You're heartless, proper and boring, and he is warm, interesting and playful. He's creative and mad. He just writes and writes. He dances every day, man! When did it ever occur to you to dance at home? You don't even do morning exercise.
GASPAR: You've really gone mad. Like you're in puberty. He's an artist, for God's sake, and I'm a doctor, you, you snake... You're becoming more and more difficult to put up with. No wonder I've been drinking a little too much lately... And I also feel the need for classical music...

Gaspar gets up and goes to the stereo, nervously takes a CD and puts it into the CD player. Verdi. La Traviata. Music fills the scene, but it's not too loud. The Firefighters and the Nurse perform their duties outside the ‘’oasis’’. The President and the First Lady wonder around like ghosts in an utterly strange inspection of the ruins. Unreal, but true. The video wall abounds with realistic horror that occasionally slips into surrealism. Gaspar returns to the table and sits opposite Aleksandra. There is an odd smile on his face and more firmness in his demeanour. As if he has decided that he too will be interesting. The cheap economy of the marital circus. A lack of anthropological insight. Increased adrenalin production caused by the struggle for the favour of Woman. The knowledge that a serious opponent has appeared. An archaic situation imbued with the use of modern, sophisticated verbal technique, a subtle dramatisation of sexual diplomacy. The relatively new civilisation of marriage for ‘’love’’ applied to the ancient affairs of blood, attraction and repulsion. Gaspar pours some more cognac into his and Aleksandra's glass. She laughs, surprised.


3.

ALEKSANDRA: Oh, what's this then? You didn't do this a week ago when it was my birthday. You were mad at Mihael because along with the tape with his voice he also sent me this black evening dress with a bolero for my birthday. (Proudly shows off her dress.)
GASPAR (Raising his glass): It's very provocative, I have to admit. Cheers! You know, you really are eccentric. (Aleksandra raises her glass. They clink their glasses.)
ALEKSANDRA: Cheers! (They slowly drink a few sips.) I want to be eccentric. That doesn't automatically make me a bad mother. Do you see? And if I'm a bad wife, then that's entirely your fault.
GASPAR: Maybe you're right. Maybe I also have to change a little.
ALEKSANDRA: Not a little. A lot.
GASPAR: OK, a lot. Sorry, Aleksandra... (Leans over and touches her hand. Pause. Then, cheerfully.) So, when is your lover coming?
ALEKSANDRA: First of all, he's not my lover but my... cosmic partner. My partner in text and glorious horizons, if you will. Secondly, I've already told you a hundred times that he'll be here at eight.
GASPAR: Ah, yes. (Looks at his watch.) Another fifteen minutes... Cosmic partner. An interesting way to put it. (Gestures toward the table.) And what's for dinner? As far as I know, we have nothing special prepared.
ALEKSANDRA: I told Mihael it won't be anything elaborate. Just a light dinner. For example, prosciutto, cheese, black olives, bread and wine.
GASPAR: Red, I presume.
ALEKSANDRA: Red, of course. Red wine gives me my best experience of the world.
GASPAR (ironically): Are you saying that the cosmic partner is also a carnivore?
ALEKSANDRA: ?
GASPAR: I mean, you mentioned prosciutto so...
ALEKSANDRA: It seems so, yes. At that cocktail party at the French embassy, when we talked, he took all kinds of sandwiches, in fact canapés. You know those small ones, with all those different kinds of meat. I didn't touch them, of course...
GASPAR: And still, you became quite close at that cocktail party, damn cocktail party. How come you didn't find him repulsive? When I eat meat you twist your face in disgust. I have to brush my teeth as soon as I finish eating.
ALEKSANDRA: All right, he can be forgiven, but you can't. You look like a vegetarian but you eat meat like some primitive hunter. Do you see? You and meat just don't go well together.
GASPAR: Me and meat?
ALEKSANDRA: Yes, you and meat.
GASPAR: Wait a minute, does that have anything to do with women?
ALEKSANDRA: No, no, we're talking about food now.
GASPAR: Ah, I see...
ALEKSANDRA: Now, Mihael and meat, on the other hand, do go well together. Actually, he goes well with anything. He's an artist, a subtle intellectual bandit, very controversial both in art and in life. Everything becomes him. When he eats meat it looks kind of innocent, like cartoons for children.
GASPAR: Does that mean he has the privilege of being allowed to eat meat?
ALEKSANDRA (cheerfully, elated): In a way, yes. He can do anything, he's got that damn divine quality... He's a celestial hooligan. He's passionate and creative. I think he's a genius, and every genius, as history has shown us, is also a savage. You're quite sophisticated, despite your cruel face... You're kind of integral in your ordinariness. You're civilised, Gaspar. You're too civilised, and he's not. Whatever he does looks normal. You can't blame a volcano for spitting lava, can you?
GASPAR: Genius, genius... yuk, yuk... Oh, I'd like to be like that.
ALEKSANDRA: You're either born with it or you're not.
GASPAR: And does he have money? I mean, how does he stand, what are his circumstances?
ALEKSANDRA: Why do you ask? What does that have to do with anything?
GASPAR: It's a common question. I want to know something about the man you've invited to dinner.
ALEKSANDRA: I have no idea. I don't think he's doing too well. I think he doesn't even own a car. But he said something about a bike. He didn't have a car at that cocktail party because he asked if he could go with me when I called a taxi.
GASPAR: Don't mention that taxi. Beautiful night, around nine in the evening, summer, your hand and his suddenly laced together. Aghh. And you're on your way home to put Maria to sleep. Stars are falling on the roofs of urban buildings. Very interesting. I'd give anything to know what it was you talked about in that taxi.
ALEKSANDRA: Frankly, I don't remember. All I remember is that it was a beautiful conversation.
GASPAR: I bet it was. Physics and metaphysics. Meat and non-meat. Unvomited horizons... (Pause.) But tell me, you said he was over fifty.
ALEKSANDRA: Yes, but what's that got to do with anything?
GASPAR: Isn't he a bit old for you? I mean, the age difference is a bit too big for a serious...
ALEKSANDRA (interrupts him): For God's sake, Gaspar, I am married! I hope you've noticed. And he's definitely not too old for companionship. I have a right to have friends. On the other hand, if that's what's bothering you, I'm quite sure he has quite a turbulent love life. A woman can feel these things. For instance, Picasso...
GASPAR: I know, I know, pottery and painting, oils and black pastels... Picasso was fifty four when he started with Dora, who was twenty seven. You've told me several times. But Picasso...
ALEKSANDRA: ... was crazy...
GASPAR: ...not to mention Dora...
ALEKSANDRA:.. but Mihael is even crazier. Definitely.
GASPAR: Oh, that's such crap. How would you know? You weren't on intimate terms with Picasso.
ALEKSANDRA: Women's intuition, darling. (Takes a sip of her cognac. Lights a cigarette.) You'll see those eyes, those fast moving cinders. And the movements. Not to mention the words.
GASPAR: Well don't mention them. Especially the words in his letters. That variation on touch, that paragraph on touch that you read to me – it shows his great potential. He's crazy, but he does write well. But I also have some admirable qualities.
ALEKSANDRA (smiling): For example.
GASPAR: I'm stable and can love only one woman. And most importantly, I can take care of her. I'm also a good father. In the long run, I'm a better choice than some dancer and artist. My only flaw is that I'm boring and dull. But that makes me tolerant.
ALEKSANDRA: And unbearably trivial. So, all in all I should be very satisfied, should I? Even grateful.
GASPAR: Of course, my dear...

The telephone rings. Aleksandra puts out her cigarette and goes to the little table with the telephone. At the same time, a track of light on the ruins at stage left. Mihael (standing among the ruins) is holding a mobile phone in one hand and in the other a blue rose in white wrapping paper. He's wearing a dark suit and tie. The collar of his jacket is lifted. Aleksandra picks up the phone. Gaspar is pretending to read the papers. He takes a sip of his cognac.


4.

ALEKSANDRA: Hello.
MIHAEL: Aleksandra.
ALEKSANDRA: Mihael.
MIHAEL: It's a beautiful night, Aleksandra. We'll be seeing each other soon. I couldn't wait so I called.
ALEKSANDRA: You have no idea how much I'm looking forward to seeing you. It's almost eight. Where are you?
MIHAEL: At the club. I was held back a bit, but I'll be there in about fifteen minutes. Just let me put on my coat. Gregory will give me a lift. But tell me, did you get my letter today?
ALEKSANDRA: Aha, it was lovely. I love that bit about the dance of the seven veils. You really touched me. But the most beautiful part was the one about how we have to dramatise our own lives if we really want to live. If we really want to know that we're alive.

During this conversation, Gaspar gets up and approaches Aleksandra, who is walking around the room with the receiver in her hand. Gaspar embraces her from behind and kisses her neck while she's talking to Mihael.

MIHAEL: I’m glad you like it. I was thinking of us when I wrote it, of us and those lifeless everyday people around us. They look like ordinary banal bananas. Yes, banal bananas. And yes, why not, like worn-out trainers.
GASPAR (kissing Aleksandra’s neck): That’s right, we have to dramatise, we have to…
ALEKSANDRA: Oh, let me go, will you! Can’t you see I’m talking?
MIHAEL: What?
ALEKSANDRA: Gaspar won’t leave me alone. He’s making fun of me, kissing my neck. Can you imagine!
MIHAEL: Let it go, Aleksandra, it can’t be easy on him either.
ALEKSANDRA: You have a kind word for everyone.
MIHAEL: Never speak ill of the poor. You see, that thing in the letter, you understood everything right away. To dramatise the daily boredom of our fellow man. That’s the task of the artist. And that’s what you do. I’ve read your stuff. Your poetry shows a realistic concern for the drama of the everyday. Although you don’t pity your fellow creatures, you do treat their fragility with benevolence.
GASPAR (kissing Aleksandra’s neck): You have a kind word for everyone…
ALEKSANDRA: I do try. But sometimes I feel so miserable and helpless. (To Gaspar.) Oh, let me go! (To Mihael.) Gaspar is so possessive. Even now, he won’t let me talk in peace. And mother is possessive, too. Everyone is possessive. They don’t let me breathe but they’re so very nice. Hypocrites. It’s enough to drive you mad.
GASPAR (shouting): We have to dramatise…
MIHAEL: I hear Gaspar yelling that we have to dramatise. And I can also hear some music.
ALEKSANDRA: Gaspar has put on La Traviata, and now he’s going wild around me.
MIHAEL: Leave him, maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe Gaspar is not a banal banana after all. Well, I’ll see for myself soon. And most importantly, I’ll see your intensely dear eyes again. I can’t wait to see my dancer and her graceful gait. You walk so beautifully, Aleksandra.
ALEKSANDRA: Thank you, Mihael. Your compliments are warm and, I believe, true.
MIHAEL: That’s because you are warm and you truly feel your own body. And your voice. The charming way you shape your words. That’s why I’m in a hurry now. I want to see your lips curving so beautifully under the weight of vocals and consonants. I’ll see you soon Aleksandra.
ALEKSANDRA: See you. Oh, listen, do you really like prosciutto?
MIHAEL: I love it.
ALEKSANDRA: Thin or thick slices?
MIHAEL: It’s all the same.
ALEKSANDRA: OK. I’ll go and cut it then. You must be hungry by now.
MIHAEL: Like a wolf. Bye, bye… I’ll hurry. I still have to find Gregory. Don’t be mad if I’m a few minutes late. Bye, bye…
GASPAR (imitating Aleksandra): You must be hungry by now.
ALEKSANDRA: I won’t, Mihael. Bye, bye.

The track of light on Mihael fades. Aleksandra frees herself from Gaspar’s embrace and puts the phone down. Gaspar goes to the table, sits and takes a sip of his drink. He lights a cigarette. Aleksandra comes to the table and sits. She lights a cigarette and takes a sip from her glass.

GASPAR (imitating her): You must be hungry by now.
ALEKSANDRA: And you must be stupid by now. You’re impossible, Gaspar. I’m talking, and you’re deliberately disturbing me.
GASPAR: And you’re deliberately seducing Mihael and you’re doing it right in front of me. And he’s doing the same, of course. You can see that from miles away.
ALEKSANDRA: Oh, come on. You know that I have to be very concentrated when I talk to him. The way he talks is so rich and metaphorical.
GASPAR: And he weaves a net like an old fisherman. For a little fish – you.
ALEKSANDRA: Don’t be so trivially trivial.
GASPAR: Trivially trivial. That must be one of his expressions.
ALEKSANDRA: His expressions are much stronger. He says that most people are “banal bananas”. Get it into your head, Gaspar, he and I are above all that ordinary physical…sexual egoism. We look at the world in a spiritual, creative way. That’s why there is never any monotony between us. I feel so free.
GASPAR: Yuk, yuk. Tell us another one, why don’t you! You said something similar about me. In the beginning. You said that your relationship with that bore was killing you. Yes, that’s what you called him – a bore, Ivan from college. You didn’t find me boring back then. On the contrary. I destroyed your relationship with Ivan.
ALEKSANDRA: And I’m grateful for it. That was the most boring man I ever met before you. (Laughs.) It was so beautiful, the way you stole me away.
GASPAR: And now I’m paying for it. Now it’s Mihael’s turn. You get bored quickly. But no, you didn’t find me boring back then.
ALEKSANDRA: Not until we started living together. Then I realised that you tried being fun until you felt that I was completely and only yours. That was your mask. And, oh, when Maria was born! Oh, then you really showed your true nature. You turned into gentle but dry political correctness… (Raising her voice.) You became grey, grey… You became grey boredom.
GASPAR (raising his voice): You stupid shoe, you fool. You’ve got it all mixed up. Mihael has really bewitched you. You’re really going to go mad. You never said things like this three months ago, before that damn party at that stupid embassy. Mihael has awoken the lowest passions in you. You lie all the time, you interpret the history of our marriage as it suits you…
ALEKSANDRA: The history of our illness…
GASPAR: In the end you’ll bring pain and suffering to us all.
ALEKSANDRA: Pain and suffering! You really are…
GASPAR: Yes, pain and suffering. You’ve already made an idiot of me. You insult me every day. And soon, our little angel, our Maria will also feel Mihael’s and your “poetry and dance”. But there is a way out. Before you destroy everything, I must do something. Oh, yes, my dear.
ALEKSANDRA (yelling): Aha! You’ve started threatening. I won’t fall for the threatening theory, my dear. Oh, no. And I’m sure divorce has crossed your mind. Oh, so typical for a coward. Going right for the easiest solution. And you, sir, wouldn’t consider fighting for your Alice, as you used to call me, ha?
GASPAR: If a man must fight, as you put it, for his wife, it means he has lost her already. The other way around is also true.
ALEKSANDRA: But of course, of course he must fight! Show some initiative, don’t be such a wimp. Fight. Show me a star. Maybe even organise a little starry host. Maybe you’ll succeed, maybe I’ll love you again, even more.
GASPAR: Oh, I don’t give a shit. Me, fight? Today against Mihael, a year from now somebody else, and then after that another one and another one all until you’re one foot in the grave. Really! As if I have nothing better to do.
ALEKSANDRA: That’s the reality. I am Africa. I am African wool.
GASPAR: You’re stupid as shit. And that’s reality too.
ALEKSANDRA: Maybe, but I’m not afraid, you know. I can always go back home to my mother. She’ll be only too happy to have me back. And not only because of me. You know how she loves Maria. But why am I wasting my time talking to you. (Ostentatiously gets up and puts out her cigarette.) I’d better go and cut the cheese and prosciutto.
GASPAR: OK, we’ll see whether you’re afraid or not. I’ve noticed that you’re quite fond of the middle class material security. Winter holidays, summer holidays, Mediterranean cruises, skiing in the Alps and so forth. Not to mention the nice clothes. What you make with your poetry is hardly enough for make-up and cigarettes. So, just remember, don’t go too far! I’m as good as gold, but my patience has its limits.
ALEKSANDRA (goes to the kitchen): You can threaten me all you like, but I want to dance like crazy, I want to be free. Do you hear, free! If marriage can’t give me that, then, fine, I’ll find another way.
GASPAR (shouting after her): What, will you become a prostitute?
ALEKSANDRA: Aren’t I one already? Isn’t a marriage like ours a form of prostitution? And I mean a serious sort of whoring.
GASPAR (yelling as she leaves the stage through the door left): Maybe it is, but it all happens in the warm home of a respected family. Although, I must say, you have been avoiding your marital duties lately. (Pause.) Hey, make sure there’s plenty of prosciutto! The carnivores are among us… Even a brief conversation with you makes me as hungry as a wolf.
ALEKSANDRA (off, yelling jokingly): Yes, sir!

La Traviata is still playing. Gaspar pours himself another drink and lights a cigarette. He downs his cognac. He then gets up and nervously paces the proscenium smoking, gesticulating, speaking loudly.


5.

GASPAR: Oh, Verdi, my friend! What would you do in this situation? My wife has gone mad. She speaks about freedom as if she were in jail, and she is quite openly cheating on me. In my own home. She’s taken up with a crazy artist. He writes her letters. He phones. They even went for a walk once. After their walk they had a cappuccino in the centre of town. This paranoia has been going on for three months. And now, to make things even better, she has invited him to our house. The visit of the potential lover. Unless, of course, they have already… Because, my dear Gaspar, they are (imitating Aleksandra.) cosmic partners. Cosmic partners, my foot. I’ll be damned if in a few days Aleksandra doesn’t come up with the idea that they are gods from Olympus. Yes, yes… Neurotic women always find some neurotic idiot. She’s preparing a light dinner while her child is at her grandmother’s place coughing. Oh God! And I’m pretending to be taking it all well. I’m drinking cognac and listening to La Traviata. (Singing along with the motif that is currently playing.) Haaaa, tttttt, dddd…..ooooo, aaaaa….I’m thirty nine. Will I kill myself? Maybe I am a grey idiot, but I am not such a fool as to go to heaven in my best years. No sir! No way. I’m doing well. I’m making more and more money. I have a new car, a lovely silver coloured Mercedes. My colleagues respect me. Patients like me. The new nurse, Mary, keeps staring at the knot of my red tie. Hm, I should do something about that. But why? I’m tired of all the ceaseless activity… Oooo…aaa… haaa… What if I kill both Aleksandra and Mihael at the same time, here, for example, at the dinner table? True, I’ve never killed anyone before, and this is becoming less and less of an oddity in today’s world. I mean, it’s becoming less and less odd that there are people who haven’t killed anyone. But why kill Mihael? He’s just following his male instinct. And if I only killed Aleksandra? That wouldn’t be good for our Maria. Oooo… aaaa… uuuuu… And what if I just divorced Aleksandra and left her to fend for herself. I’d love to know who would take her on Mediterranean cruises then… Oooo… haaaa… uuu… (Shouting, to Aleksandra.) Cut up a lot of cheese! Hey, and lots of black olives!
ALEKSANDRA (off): Aaaall right… Should I pour olive oil over them now?
GASPAR (shouting): Of course not, you ignorant. You should serve olive oil separately so everyone can take it as they like.
ALEKSANDRA (off): OK, boss!
GASPAR (again in the same tone): And then again she can be so loveable sometimes. Really, what should I do? Oh, Verdi, tell me! Oooo… aaaaa… uuuu… Maybe I should be modern about it all and let her meet with Mihael in our home. Maybe I should be very modern and bring Mary along for some special time for the three of us together. Oh, I’d love to see Aleksandra’s face when she catches sight of her thin waist. (Pause.) What an idiot I am! What are these fantasies? I love Aleksandra. (Shouts.) Aleksandra, I love you! Aleksandra, I love you! Here, I can be crazy, too. Ha, ha, ha, olala… Not only Mihael. I can be even crazier, I can be as crazy as an entire madhouse, I can declare you my elementary need without which I can’t survive, not even in the bathroom while I’m shaving, an elementary need without which I can’t even shit properly. I hereby declare you my elementary need (Gaspar tears at his hair, puts out his cigarette, takes the bottle and drinks from it. His eyes have a mad glow. He is chanting.) I love Aleksandra! I love Aleksandra! Hey, I love Aleksandra! I love Aleksandra! I love her little African wool, her fine wool. Ooohhoo… uhuuuu… ahaaaa aaa… uuuu… oooohhooo…

A few moments of blackout. Gaspar is chanting “I love Aleksandra”. La Traviata continues to play along with sounds from the video wall. Lights on the ruins. Ground Zero.



4.
BORDER SITUATION: NEUROTIC MEALS


Ground Zero. The Firefighters, the Nurse, the President and the First Lady play their official roles. The horror begins to take on all the characteristics of an ordinary work day. The video wall. Sounds. Chaos. Films. La Traviata stops.

FIRST FIREFIGHTER: stands upright and speaks into the megaphone
Lunch, lunch, lunch. (Shouts toward offstage.) Come on, Jim, let the women in with the lunch. We’re hungry as wolves. We moved lunch for two hours later today to show courage and endurance in the face of the enemy, in the face of fire, generally. Yes, but now we really are very hungry. Let the women in. Jim, open the fucking door!

The Firefighters gather, slapping each other’s hands (“high five”). They put down their megaphones, rub their hands, talk, light a fire in an empty tar barrel. The warm atmosphere of a warm meal of tired, always dedicated firefighters. Three pleasant women enter carrying small knapsacks on their backs. They look like ordinary American housewives or ordinary American students. A winning simplicity: checked shirts, jeans, trainers. They take food and drink out of the knapsacks, they talk, gesticulate, exchange kisses with their men. They spread out a red-and-white checked tablecloth in front of the barrel. They spread out little bundles containing food as well as knives and forks. A lovely homely atmosphere, the mood of a working man’s lunch with some associations of a picnic. The President and First Lady approach the fire in a relaxed manner.

PRESIDENT fixing his tie, brisk, firm
Way to go, boys. A job well done. You did all you could. Still, you should go on, do what you must. We’ll be on our way now, sycophants from all corners of the world are waiting for us, ha, ha, ha…

FIRST LADY flirtatiously
I still have to change and make pizza. I swear by Saint Patrick, I don’t trust cooks any more. Not even those from Ireland where my good great grandmother came from.

FIRST FIREFIGHTER in the manner of a host
Mr. President, stay with us at our working man’s firefighters’ lunch. It would be a great honor for us, not to mention that it would be a historic event for American firefighters. And, besides, ma’am, you should take a break for a day, leave the pizza and let the guests, sycophants and hangers-on wait a while. Our women, girlfriends and fiancées have brought all the food and drink we need, and very patriotically, too. Isn’t that right, girls?

THE THREE WOMEN readily and devotedly
That’s right, Charlie.

PRESIDENT with American simplicity
Sounds good, Charlie. What do you say, dear?


FIRST LADY
Great. I kind of miss situations without protocol. All this reminds me of our trips to the mountains and our family gatherings at the ranch.

FIRST FIREFIGHTER businesslike, friendly, wonderful
Thank you, ma’am. Thank you, Mr. President. Have a seat. OK, Betty, hand me the meat so I can fry those Kentucky steaks.

They all sit among the ruins. Very happy that the President has accepted his invitation, Charlie barbecues the meat on an electric barbecue next to the barrel. The women are busy around the drink, food and serving starters. Everyone is eating and talking in expectation of the famous Kentucky steaks. On the video wall – ceaseless horror. Sounds of the national anthem, of heroic marches, all laced with stimulating Country and Western tones. Flags are waving. Ground Zero between reality and nightmare. Not even the most serious negative situation can disguise the positive excitement of people. Blood runs, because it is alive, selfish and rich. Blood eats and talks. A light expressionistic madness that continues naturally into the third millennium.

PRESIDENT eating with determination
I told that man that the black boy’s poker will not make us sway an inch from our way of life.  Russia is always pushing for something, always complaining, but in the end it supports our efforts. Great Britain also. Our mines are working, working. In the Middle East we’ll soon be moving even closer to oil, because we love and need oil. The space programs for fast development in the stratosphere are also moving ahead smoothly. My wife always chooses the best ties in the world. The word tie, or cravat, comes from the Croats. I’m quite educated, I know what I’m talking about, trust me…

FIRST LADY eating with determination
That’s right. Of all the first ladies, I am the best when it comes to ties, pizza, or anything for that matter. Still, I try to stay modest, although that’s very difficult when you have a few thousand people taking care of you. My suit the colour of the blue sky causes havoc among the young employees. The White House is whiter than the whitest colour I’ve seen on the stretch from Kamchatka to Afghanistan… The only thing holding us back a little is Ground Zero

FIRST FIREFIGHTER eating with determination while skillfully turning the steaks on the barbecue
Don’t worry, ma’am. Everything is under control. My colleagues and I are doing a pointless job, but we’re doing it well. I love this job. Fire is beautiful, but unusually difficult to handle… I said as much to Nero when he went over the top with flames and so a lot of people got killed. Ground Zero reminds me of Rome. It’s not so much the intensity of the fire but everything else around it, I mean our noble task of rescuing the survivors, I mean the warm meals, our gatherings, our devoted wives, my dear Betty who follows me selflessly all around the world…

BETTY eating without restraint
Nothing is hard for us women when it comes to our husbands, who have done so much for this country. We cook best, we want the best. Those boys from the tents, with the terrorist glow in their eyes, they should know that we will never falter. We’re the best at everything. Our clothes are the best quality, my ironing is world class. My Charlie never had any complaints about our warm home. There is nothing more beautiful than when a firefighter takes a bath. There’s an inch of mud left behind in the bathtub. I love to clean it. Then I sing and marvel at the amount of dust it takes to make so much mud. Really, people, I’ve done a lot of cleaning and I know what I’m talking about. Nobody can put one across me! No, no. I love my firefighter’s mud. I always remember this during the Sunday sermon and I simply say: ashes to ashes, dust to dust…

SECOND FIREFIGHTER eating with determination
You’re right, Betty. We’re all one strong and lovely community. When Moscow was burning, we all rooted for the rain to fall. When Rome was burning, it actually was raining, but only for half an hour which was not enough. Nero was bending with laughter. I admit I had never met a man who enjoyed fire so much, the lick of flames, the crackling of burning material. I also love these informal gatherings when everybody eats a lot so we can build up strength for new firefighting, for new fires, new ruins. I tell my Annie that everything is just fine and OK, except that it is very difficult in our profession to set a date for weddings.

ANNIE eating cheerfully
Oh, people, I can wait. What matters is that I’ve met the love of my life. Carlo is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I don’t understand the historical background of the fire, but I hope that my darling knows what he’s doing. And that’s enough. I too have read Musashi who said that we must do away with the prejudice that it is natural blonds who are the quickest to arrive at the way of emptiness. He said that nobody, but nobody, arrives at the way of emptiness just like that, thanks to, for example, origin, hair colour and other secondary traits. Musashi obviously knew how to write and he knew his women…

THIRD FIREFIGHTER eating with determination
Right you are, Annie. By the way, Musashi rocks in the Bronx, in my neighborhood where everybody knows me. Everybody borrows his books, so that sometimes you have to wait for months for a certain book. The Way of Emptiness is his best book. His acrid pages on shining rings of fire thrill my black brothers. I, on the other hand, may decide in favor of riding. That job in Colorado really appeals to me… Only, I don’t know, Lydia loves me as a firefighter, and I’m the last man to go against my future wife. Besides, my parents like her, which is reason enough for me to stay in the fire department for the time being… I envy the guys who communicated with Nero and the Russian tsars… Yes, but now I’ve been given the opportunity to be in the company of the President of our nation during an ordinary lunch at the site of a fire, isn’t that right? So, when I really think about it, it’s a big thing being a firefighter…

LYDIA eating cheerfully
I told Charlie yesterday to stay strong and focused because Ground Zero is something no firefighter in the world should miss. I told him to stay at least until the end of this job, I told him that Ground Zero was important for the nation, that he shouldn’t ask what the nation has done for him but what he has done for the nation, that after this action we could go to Colorado, that we could build a home there, too… Well, I like riding as well, although hot firefighters also turn me on…

THE NURSE eating cheerfully
I told the President that there are no more survivors, and he tells me Teresa, do everything you can. That’s exactly what I’m doing. I’ve turned over tons and tons of rubble. I’ve stressed several times already, when talking to journalists, that this world is horrible and that is a trivial fact. All horrible things are trivial. I also said that, after this Points at Ground Zero. so help me God, I am retiring and my all-American police officer will massage me, massage me in long nights, we’ll watch Oprah and basketball and shout “I love this game, I love this game” until judgment day if need be, and all this in spite of our enemies who think they will weaken our determination to build skyscrapers… Oh, we’ll build even bigger, taller and prettier skyscrapers and then we’ll see… They can’t destroy as much as we can build… The only thing that bothers me is that damn gauze, the red gauze of my profession…

The Zone of Ashes and Dust. Ground Zero. Everybody is eating and talking. They are drinking Coca Cola and gesticulating vividly in the midst of the ruins. Horror on the video wall. Contrasts and disbelief everywhere. The world sends messages of encouragement and support. The worried faces of passengers at airports. Will flying become less appealing? No, nobody has learned Icarus’ lesson. Nobody has paid serious heed to Tecumseh’s ancient curse against presidents. This is Ground Zero. A blazing warning to the builders of tall death on the foundations of the world’s fragile technology. The ceaseless horror of the video wall.



5.
PRACTICING HYPOCRISY: EVENING INTONATIONS


Lights on the “oasis of the little domestic drama”. The exalted sounds of La Traviata. Also sounds from the video wall. Picturesque ghosts in the semi-darkness of the ruins. Aleksandra appears carrying a knife in her left hand. She is wearing an apron with “LONG LIVE THE COOK” written in red letters.


1.

ALEKSANDRA: Hey, Gaspar, what’s wrong with you? Have you gone mad? Hey, come on, calm down a little.
GASPAR (running in one spot but slowing down): I love Aleksandra, I love Aleksandra…
ALEKSANDRA: You go two years without telling me you love me, and now all of a sudden you say it ten times. What does this mean?
GASPAR (panting): Ah, well…a moment of inspiration…Probably brought on by the strong personality of your precious friend. Yuk, yuk.
ALEKSANDRA: You’re yuk, yuk. Speaking of which, how about getting yourself decent and fixing your hair! Our guest will be here soon. He’ll think we’ve been fighting… (The bell rings.) … See.
GASPAR: I hear, so what! Let him in so I can finally meet your cosmic partner. He must be very hungry by now.
ALEKSANDRA (laughing): No jealous scenes, please!

Aleksandra exits. Gaspar goes to the stereo. He turns off the CD player, fixes his hair and goes back to the table. Sounds and images on the video wall. He sits down and lights a cigarette. He plays nervously with his lighter. Voices are heard from the hall.

MIHAEL (off): I wish you a lovely evening.
ALEKSANDRA (off): And it will be. Definitely. Thanks to you.
MIHAEL (off): And you, too, Aleksandra.
ALEKSANDRA (off, excited): Oh, Mihael! A blue rose. It’s so beautiful. Thank you. I love roses. How did you know?
MIHAEL (off): I had a feeling, dear Aleksandra, a feeling. A feeling you liked blue. And I also like beautiful roses in morbid blue. I call them the blue roses of Holland.
ALEKSANDRA (off): You really are original. You know that, Mihael?
MIHAEL (off): I try, my little dancer. But, dear God, what’s that knife in your hand? You look like Lady Macbeth in action.
ALEKSANDRA (off): I am in action.
MIHAEL (off): Did I do something wrong or have you killed Gaspar?
ALEKSANDRA (off): No, no, Mihael. I’ve just finished cutting cheese for our dinner, and I came suddenly into the living room, because Gaspar was shouting like mad…
GASPAR: I love Aleksandra, I love Aleksandra…
ALEKSANDRA (off): Do you hear? He’s teasing me again. Wait, I won’t be a minute. Give me your coat. There. And I’ll put the rose in water right away. Come in, please!

Aleksandra and Mihael enter. Mihael is a slim, good looking man, slightly balding, about Aleksandra’s height, meaning a head shorter than Gaspar. He’s holding a wrapped bottle. Aleksandra is holding the knife in one hand and the rose in the other. She introduces the two men.

ALEKSANDRA (slightly raising her hand with the rose): Mihael. Gaspar.

The two men shake hands. They eye each other discretely.

MIHAEL: Pleased to meet you.
GASPAR: Pleased to meet you. Welcome.
ALEKSANDRA: Excuse me, gentlemen. You two can get to know each other a bit while I take this stupid knife to the kitchen. And I also have to find an appropriate clever vase for this exquisite rose.

Mihael puts the bottle on the table. Aleksandra leaves dancing and singing a tune.


2.

GASPAR: Please, have a seat. (Trying to be witty.) Let’s get to know each other a bit, as Aleksandra says. A bit of realism is always good.
MIHAEL: It would be my pleasure.
GASPAR: What would you like to drink? (Points to the table.) There’s good old Courvoisier. (Then he points to the shelf.) Or perhaps you’d like a whiskey, vodka, Martell or Metaxa. Maybe some home made brandy or something lighter…
MIHAEL (sits and raises his hand to stop the list): I’ll join you in what you’re having, dear Gaspar. (Handing him the wrapped bottle.) I just happened to buy the same for you. Just a little something. Flowers for women, drink for men.
GASPAR: Thank you so much.
MIHAEL: Courvoisier agrees with me. French cognac generally. Europe should unite at least around cognac.
GASPAR (pours cognac for Mihael and then himself, then he raises his glass): An interesting idea. Cheers!
MIHAEL: Cheers! (They take a small, courteous sip.)

Pause.

MIHAEL: Europe united around cognac and with cognac. That may be the best solution. Ah, the taste of tested quality, the scent of ancient oak forests and beautiful barrels. What do you think, dear Gaspar?
GASPAR: Well, the percentage of alcohol is important. I’ve already had a few drinks tonight but I’m not dizzy. That’s a sign that the percentage should be raised.
MIHAEL: Maybe. United Europe, and all of us individually, need a stronger percentage. That would make it easier to bear the cruel reality from, say, Jerusalem to Reykjavik.
GASPAR: Excuse me?
MIHAEL: Jerusalem and Reykjavik. The space between those two cities is a good symbol of the fantastic scale of cruelty from the South to the North. I mean the cruelty of your average person’s daily life.
GASPAR: There is perhaps less cruelty in Reykjavik and it may be less severe... I mean the climate is colder, so…
MIHAEL: Oh, you are mistaken, my dear Gaspar. Hot blood runs in the North. (Takes a sip of his drink.)
GASPAR: What do you mean?
MIHAEL: You wouldn’t believe the things that happened to me in Sweden, Finland, Holland and on Iceland. As Aleksandra may have told you, I have dedicated my life to art and companionship with female beings. So, in the North I met many dancers – that’s what I call intense girls and women – and their tenderness, their passionate tenderness I would say, would sometimes take on an unbelievable cruelty. I get goose pimples just thinking of it.
GASPAR: I’m afraid I don’t understand.
MIHAEL (smiling): They are simply too tender. Especially when they sense they are dealing with real men.
GASPAR (takes a sip of his drink): I’m afraid I…
MIHAEL: You know, we, we men from the South of Europe, it’s generally agreed that we are the world’s best lovers. Women appreciate that. (Takes a sip.) So much so that they stick to you like band aid. They look like white glue.
GASPAR: You don’t say!
MIHAEL: They tremble kindly, stickily. Their lonely bodies twist fanatically. It’s almost impossible to breathe, dear friend. Gaspar, you must visit Oslo, Copenhagen, Reykjavik or at least Amsterdam. When you return you won’t wake up for five days. I guarantee it.
GASPAR: I’m not really sure I want to go. I love sleeping, but five days…
MIHAEL: That’s how tired you would be my friend, that tired.
GASPAR: I don’t see why…
MIHAEL: Yes, I admit, it’s not easy, but we must make sacrifices for Europe. I told you, these are cruel women and…
GASPAR (Interrupts him): I wish Aleksandra were a bit crueler.
MIHAEL: Paradoxically, and in contrast to the warm climate, towards the South women are less passionate. And that’s that. As for Aleksandra, she’s very special. She can’t be classified. She’s neither cruel nor gentle. (Pause. A sip of cognac.) She really is an exception, a fantastic exception, really. She is somehow ethereal…
GASPAR: You think so?
MIHAEL: Oh, yes. Absolutely. Definitely, my dear Gaspar. You may not be aware who you’re living with. She’s world class.
GASPAR (confused): Well, you know… Sometimes it’s hard to tell…
MIHAEL: I agree with you, sometimes it really is hard to tell. But this can’t confuse fanatic lovers of women, can it?
GASPAR: Probably not.
MIHAEL (smile. Pause): But, tell me, you’re a doctor?
GASPAR (Sighs): Yes.
MIHAEL: Aleksandra told me, but she didn’t tell me which area of medicine you service.
GASPAR: I beg your pardon? I’m afraid I’m not really good at these modern dialogues.
MIHAEL: I mean, which area of medicine do you work in?
GASPAR: Psychiatry.
MIHAEL: Wow! That must be an exciting area. I mean, it can’t be boring.
GASPAR: Well, it depends.
MIHAEL: Do you have a private practice, like Dr Freud once had?
GASPAR: No, I work in a hospital, on the Women’s Psychiatric Ward.
MIHAEL (perks up): Fantastic!
GASPAR: But privately, as a hobby, I’m doing some work on myself and Aleksandra. And, for the past three months, you as well.
MIHAEL: I’m very honoured, but I have to say that you’ve chosen a very difficult hobby.
GASPAR: It’s not that bad. My hobby mostly comes down to analysis and diagnosis, with little or no treatment. After all, which one of us three would ever admit to being sick?
MIHAEL: Yes, you’re quite right there. But tell me, honestly, are we really sick?
GASPAR: Of course. We’re all sick. The whole world is sick.
MIHAEL: Isn’t that observation a bit too harsh?
GASPAR: Not at all. It’s mild. The harsh observation would be that the whole world is very sick.
MIHAEL: And what then would be my shortest diagnosis? I’m terribly curious.
GASPAR: Well…You know, these are delicate matters and I…
MIHAEL (Interrupts him): Go on, tell me! I’d really love to know.
GASPAR: From what I could gather so far, I mean from your behaviour toward Aleksandra, I would say you’re suffering from progressive euphoria.
MIHAEL: Progressive euphoria? Me?
GASPAR: Yes, you.
MIHAEL: Sounds good, I have to admit. It’s good to be progressive. I mean, it doesn’t sound like an illness. It sounds more like something positive.
GASPAR: Well, now, it is all rather complicated. Like everything in psychiatry.
MIHAEL (pensively): Like everything in a soul in which millions of years of sun, earth and blood come together. Hm, hm, progressive euphoria…

Aleksandra enters without her apron. She is carrying a small black vase with the blue rose. She puts it on the table, sits and lights a cigarette.


3.

ALEKSANDRA (cheerfully): Well, gentlemen, who’ll pour the lady a drink? I’d like to drink to you meeting each other, to us all coming together like this. (Gaspar quickly takes the bottle and pours Aleksandra a drink.) I’d like to drink to our dear guest Mihael. (They all raise their glasses and toast.)
ALEKSANDRA: Cheers! (To Mihael.) Cheers!
GASPAR: Cheers!
MIHAEL: Cheers!
ALEKSANDRA: So, guys, how is it going? Are you two getting to know each other?
GASPAR: Great.
MIHAEL: Great?! Fantastic! In just a few minutes we have resolved the unification of Europe. Your husband really understands the situation, Aleksandra.
GASPAR: Thanks to Mihael’s brilliant idea on cognac as the unifying agent.
ALEKSANDRA: Did you also mention prosciutto, black olives, olive oil, cheese and Mediterranean cuisine in general?
GASPAR: No, we haven’t.
ALEKSANDRA: There, you see. And in just a few minutes I have finished arranging our light dinner that belongs to a cuisine that could also unite Europe.
MIHAEL: Combined with cognac, Courvoisier, shall we say.
GASPAR: With a higher percentage of alcohol, of course.
ALEKSANDRA: Especially in the wine. Mediterranean cuisine demands strong wine, both red and white if possible. Speaking of which, what do you say I serve dinner?
GASPAR: Marvelous idea.
MIHAEL: I’m starving.
ALEKSANDRA: Me too.
GASPAR: You’re usually not hungry at this hour, but today…
ALEKSANDRA: But today I am. So what? (Aleksandra gets up.) Will you help me, please, Gaspar.
GASPAR: With pleasure.
ALEKSANDRA (Leaving, to Mihael): Mihael, you promised me a poem before dinner. May I hope that it’s already in your head?
MIHAEL (laughing): Don’t worry my little dancer. You know me. Tonight we’ll improvise a little, and that can be very interesting.
GASPAR: I’ll bet.
ALEKSANDRA: Come Gaspar, behave yourself. (To Mihael.) We’ll be right back with nature’s gifts.

Aleksandra and Gaspar go to the kitchen to get dinner. Mihael slowly drinks his aperitif and thinks aloud.

MIHAEL: Well, if I'm suffering from progressive euphoria, then Gaspar is suffering from geometrical progressive jealousy. And if one must suffer, then it's better to suffer from euphoria. Although I don't really see what kind of suffering it is if I'm constantly overcome with joy and if I always feel good. My dear Gaspar, you haven't got a chance beside me. If I really wanted to, I could steal Aleksandra in two to three seconds. (Gets up from the table, speaks euphorically.) You are definitely insane. How can a washing machine possibly compete with a black georgette dress? Especially with a working machine already in the house. (Mihael intones the song O sole mio.) O sole mio, o sole mio... My dear Gaspar, a dress given as a birthday present lasts for life. And the fabric it is made of lasts for centuries. But that is less important. The most important thing is the lasting memory of that priceless heady moment when she first sees the dress and when she first touches it, isn’t that right, Aleksandra? And this on the day of your birthday, this recent glorious day when the postman rang and delivered the parcel. Oh, how impatiently she opens the parcel, and in it a black evening dress and incense sticks from India, along with, of course, a beautiful letter full of warm sense. God, to light a stick and dance lightly in that dress to the music of instruments from the Far East. Yes, yes, Aleksandra, beautiful gestures keep us alive, don't they. No, a washing machine cannot arouse those deep stirrings of the blood. Not Aleksandra's. Definitely not. I mean, she's not a simple little village girl from one of those romance novels you buy at the news stand. She is not a banal banana. My Aleksandra loves applied poetry, persistence, wackiness and elegance. She is a dancer. She is a poet of harsh, everyday reality. She is charmingly unbalanced because she has no fixed goal. She wanders around like a dazzling headless fly. She has decided to live an exciting, selfish and beautiful life. Poor Gaspar can only give her comfort, stability, boredom and some morbid humour after a litre or two of cognac. This is a good combination for many people, but not for my Aleksandra. O, no, my God.... O sole mio... O my sun... Children who can feel the sun love to dramatise their own lives, take in the sun on beaches, scratch their genitals...

Aleksandra and Gaspar enter carrying dinner. On the table they place a large tray with prosciutto, cheese and black olives, as well as a basket with bread and a bottle of red wine. Then they all sit and finish their aperitifs.


4.

ALEKSANDRA: Are you practicing something, Mihael? Are you writing an obsolete drama with affected but dazzlingly trivial dialogues between sad natives?
MIHAEL: Well...
ALEKSANDRA: We heard you from the kitchen. You even sang a bit of O sole mio.
MIHAEL: Just a little bit, but I was mostly thinking aloud. Thinking aloud is not a bad thing. It feels like you experience the thought more intensely. (Pause.) Wow! (Pointing at the tray.) Superbly arranged.
GASPAR: Wait till you see this! (Showing him the label on the bottle.) Superb wine. Cabernet Sauvignon, 1996 vintage. (Reads.) Quality dry red wine. Don't worry, Mihael, we have six more bottles.
MIHAEL: Good connections, I presume.
GASPAR: No, no. A patient of mine whom I cured from serious depression. Her husband has a vineyard, makes wine, mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Pinot. They gave me twelve bottles.
ALEKSANDRA: I think the Cabernet Sauvignon goes best with prosciutto and cheese.
MIHAEL: It's remarkable that somebody surrounded by an abundance of such good wine can succumb to depression.
GASPAR: Yes, it is hard to understand. What’s even more difficult to understand is that the lady in question doesn't even like wine. Therapeutic Communities and five milligram doses of Valium helped stabilise her condition. Together, of course, with...
ALEKSANDRA: Together, of course, with your beneficial influence.
GASPAR: Well, you could say that. I managed to convince the woman to start believing in herself and to enjoy her positive traits.
MIHAEL: You taught her to think positive. More locally than globally.
GASPAR: Exactly.
ALEKSANDRA: Oh, come on, don't brag so much. (Pause.) Gentlemen, what do you say we light a lovely green candle?
MIHAEL: Why not? Green is the wonderful colour of the future.
GASPAR: I can’t imagine dinner without candles.
ALEKSANDRA: You're lying again. When was the last time we had a candlelit dinner?
GASPAR: A week ago, on your birthday. We were listening to Mihael's story on the radio, the one he dedicated to you, while the candle burned quietly away and I was mad with jealousy. I had to take a pill to calm down.
ALEKSANDRA: Yes, but the candle was burning because I suggested it. (Aleksandra gets up and goes to the shelf to get the candle-stick and candle.) I always have to insist. When was the last time you suggested we have a candlelit dinner?
GASPAR (sipping his wine): Green, oh how I love you green. Verde que te quiero verde.
MIHAEL: Green wind, green boughs. Verde viento. Verde ramas. I see you like Lorca, Gaspar.
GASPAR: That's the only one of his verses that I know by heart. It reminds me a lot of modern ecology movements, Greenpeace and the Greens in the German parliament.
MIHAEL: My favourite are the verses from his Unfaithful Married Woman, or something like that, I don't know the exact title of the poem. You know the one: Her thighs slipped from beneath me/like little trout in fright,/half full of shining light/half chilly. Sus muslos se me escapaban/como peces sorpendidos,/la mitad Ilenos de lumbre,/la mitad Ilenos de frio.
GASPAR: Please, no more about unfaithful wives. If only I were Lorca. It was easy for him; I heard he was fond of men.
MIHAEL: But he obviously knew a lot about women's nature. Maybe he was fond of some men…

Aleksandra returns with the candle-stick and candle. She lights the candle and then sits.

ALEKSANDRA: Maybe so. But let’s be honest, both men and women are equally faithful and unfaithful. Mihael, you promised a poem before dinner.
MIHAEL (takes a sip, smiling): Artists have always had to earn their food with their art. (Gets up.) But I’m warning you that tonight I’m improvising. I haven't prepared anything special.
ALEKSANDRA (clapping her hands): It doesn't matter. Let's hear it, let's hear it!
GASPAR (ironically): It's years of practice plus the last three months. I do my morning rounds the same way, with no preparation, and my patients are happy.
ALEKSANDRA: I can imagine. Would you just shut up, can't you see that Mihael is trying to concentrate!
GASPAR: Oh bullshit he is. All right, all right, excuse my language. Anyway, nothing can put an old sea dog off his track.
MIHAEL: That's right. People, this shall be a prose poem and it shall be called The Black Bee.

Mihael speaks slowly and in a slightly raised voice, Aleksandra listens enraptured while Gaspar smokes nervously and sips his drink.

MIHAEL (looks at Aleksandra, then at the ceiling): Black bee, in your eyes the maniac of beauty is lighting the coals for mushrooms. He looks very sticky, like a mushroomer or stargazer. He is very hard-working and dreams of the Stone Gate in Zagreb and the astronomical observatory where once, as a professional workman, he painted the telescope. And it is lovely to dream of the Stone Gate and the observatory. They are the narrow doors through which one must pass in order to see manic-depressive stars. There are not many dancers; not many are brave enough to look the stars in the eyes. And we should jump headlong and screaming into a dialogue with them, we should verbalise astronomical viewpoints until we collapse. There are few brave politicians of the universe. What we have are mostly petty demagogues from the margins of the infamous Balkan pot-house. There are few good speeches about the stars. Few are those who dare to look at the current monologues of comets. But, black bee, we are fireflies and we shall do it. Beautiful is the day when you realize that you are not in the space of boredom, when you realize that you are the night dance of freedom, a little moth with a small motor in your cute little bum... When you realize that Isadora Duncan is not the delusion of Russian customs officers and a flue-ridden Yesenin in a retirement home full of the cheap tricks of writing wills in blood on bare skin. When you also realize that you need not carry silk scarves and condoms when riding in a car. The hands and mouth are enough, black bee. Remember when you held that small piece of paper and read my verses about the brave dancer? (Mihael raises his voice a little.) „But this is an urban hearth.“

Here, Aleksandra interjects and goes on reciting with Mihael. Gaspar is increasingly nervous.

But this is an urban hearth
Is there a man in this city
At all
Whose gifts are not mediocrity,
The routine gifts of chaos
Before going to sleep,
Before the little and big death?!
If I ever meet him I will tell him:
I am no longer the sweet machine of autism.
Come! I am now a great joy.
Come to me! My name is sinner.
Come inside! I am a dancer and sin.

Mihael sits ceremoniously, Aleksandra applauds enthusiastically and Gaspar nervously puts out his cigarette.

GASPAR: That was very nice. (Ironically.) But you know what they say: love goes through the stomach. (Points at the table.) The hungrier I am, the more I feel hunger and the less I feel everything else.
MIHAEL: Exactly. A hungry person cannot properly see the beauty of other people. I once met a tramp under the Freedom Bridge who is hungry every day, who has been hungry all his life and who confessed to me that he has never been in love. Can you imagine such depravity?
ALEKSANDRA: That’s terrible. Poor man. Well, let's eat then. (Gestures toward the food.) No one has the right to leave this kind of beauty untouched. Wait! Just a minute, let me take away the aperitif glasses.

Aleksandra takes the glasses to the kitchen and returns immediately. She puts the plates on the table. Gaspar opens the bottle of wine with a corkscrew and pours the wine into their glasses. They all put food on their plates using toothpicks. They start eating. Aleksandra eats elegantly, taking small bites and chewing slowly. Gaspar takes big bites, and his chewing is vigorous but relaxed.  Mihael tries to eat politely at first, but then grows more at ease. The atmosphere is increasingly relaxed.


5.

ALEKSANDRA: Bon appetit, boys.
MIHAEL: Bon appetit to all of us.
GASPAR (with his mouth full): Bon appetit, cosmic partners.
ALEKSANDRA: Oh don’t make fun!
MIHAEL: We’re all hungry, which is good.
GASPAR: It means we’re compatible.
ALEKSANDRA: I don’t know which is better, the prosciutto or the cheese, the olives or the bread or the wine?! (Pause) Oh, I’ve forgotten the bowl with olive oil! I’ll be right back.

Aleksandra gets up, runs off cheerfully and is back quickly.

ALEKSANDRA: Here, if you want you can pour some lovely olive oil over your cheese.
GASPAR: Great! And we can also dunk our bread in the oil.
MIHAEL: Yum!
ALEKSANDRA: I read that, beside garlic, olive oil is the best natural antibiotic.
GASPAR (laughing): It’s also good for the erection.
ALEKSANDRA: Oh, aren’t you the clever one… Come on, you’re making things up again.
MIHAEL: Everything that is edible is good for one’s health, and erections…
GASPAR: (Interjects): … are a sign of good health.
MIHAEL: (drinks): That’s right. (Pause.) Everything’s fine. This is what I call healthy eating full of pearls and curious protein. But really Aleksandra, where did you get all these fine delicacies?
ALEKSANDRA (drinks): Well, you have to know how to choose well, look around a bit. I found a shop where they sell delicacies from all over the world. For example, the cheese is Italian, the olives Greek, the prosciutto Croatian and the olive oil Spanish.
GASPAR (empties his glass): And the wine is Hungarian. (Pours wine into everyone’s glass again.) Hey people, Cabernet Sauvignon!
MIHAEL: It really is superb. This is one aspect of globalisation I do support. This wine speaks nine languages.
ALEKSANDRA: (slightly jealous): From that patient whom you cured of her depression.
GASPAR (with a full mouth): That’s right.
MIHAEL (takes a sip): It’s not easy to cure people today, especially from depression.
GASPAR: Around 20% of the world population suffers from this wretched disease.
ALEKSANDRA: You could occasionally be included into that statistic.
GASPAR: And so could you, you snake!
MIHAEL: The remaining 80% don’t have time to be sick because they have to fight for survival.
ALEKSANDRA: Maybe you’re exaggerating a little. You mean they have no time to be depressed?
MIHAEL: Exactly.
GASPAR: That may not be too far from the truth, although it is stretching it a bit.
MIHAEL: No-one can convince me that someone struggling for their daily bread… (Picks up a slice of prosciutto with a toothpick and lifts it high up in the air…) and for survival in general (…and lowers it into his mouth.) has time for depression. Even artists prone to subtle explorations, who work near depression because of their characters, even they can’t become depressed if they are poor. The ones who are well-off or the rich ones on the other hand – they absolutely can.
GASPAR: (takes a slice of cheese with his hand and eats): What you’re saying is not far from the truth, but things actually are more complicated than that. Each case has to be looked at separately. One can’t not have time for depression. Depression is like a cold, it comes or it doesn’t come. However, I admit that prevention is possible. It’s an old issue – how to distribute light into the frozen eyes of unhappy souls. But we’re working on it, we’re working on it…
MIHAEL (picks up an olive with a toothpick and places it into his mouth): Absolutely. But if you would prescribe depressed patients only ten minutes dancing every day, I assure you my dear Gaspar, it would have a better effect than all the drugs and therapeutic communities put together. The sun lies in the dance step. We’re all in need of dancing.
ALEKSANDRA (sucking on an olive): What kind of dancing?
MIHAEL: Simple, any kind. What matters is that you dance. (Raises his voice while eating his olive.) To music or in silence. What’s important is that you dance. Dance is a form of ecological therapy for both the mind and the body. (Gets up and takes a sip.) It works best as preventive therapy, but it could also be used as a form of treatment for depression. Yes, dancing. All the toxins evaporate to the sky. All poisons are defeated. The demagogy of politicians fades. The excessive rhetoric of dramatic dialogues fades. We can all beat laziness. The body cleanses itself. Not to mention the soul. (Sits.)
GASPAR (putting some prosciutto into his mouth): Interesting, very interesting. Dance as therapy. I’ll have to think about it. Why not?! (Pours what is left of the wine. Takes a sip.) Look, no more wine. I’ll get another bottle.
ALEKSANDRA: Take two, so you don’t have to keep getting up all the time.
GASPAR (stretching): And I have to go to the toilet. (Gets up.) Dance. A really good idea.
ALEKSANDRA: I can just see you standing before ten patients telling them: “Come on girls, let’s dance!”
GASPAR: Yes, but what should I do with those whose depression is so bad they can’t even get out of bed?
MIHAEL: They can at least watch. But it’s important to dance. Dancing is the best prevention if we want to live long and healthy lives. It’s the best therapy for all ailments. Try it, Gaspar, and you’ll see.
GASPAR (thinking, fails to notice the vague irony of the last sentence): Of course, that wouldn’t be bad. (Takes the empty bottle and starts to leave.) I’ll suggest it to my colleague Darko already on Monday. He’s definitely the best occupational therapist in town. He plays the guitar for his patients every day and has already achieved a lot just by doing that. If they’re already singing, why not dance a little too?

As he is leaving, Gaspar strokes Aleksandra’s thick, curly hair. She stops eating. Mihael is slowly drinking what is left of the wine in his glass. Aleksandra is obviously tense. She lights a cigarette and inhales the smoke deeply, letting it out with a sound. She wrings her hands, throws her head back, and fixes her hair.

ALEKSANDRA: Mihael.
MIHAEL (smiling): Yes, my intensely warm eyed girl.
ALEKSANDRA (very serious): Mihael, listen, I can’t take this any longer.
MIHAEL: What?
ALEKSANDRA: Gaspar is becoming impossible. He’s jealous of you.
MIHAEL: It would be odd if he weren’t.
ALEKSANDRA: It’s not just that. He’s so boring, terribly boring and heartless. He’s grey, he’s already dead, Mihael. I refuse to be a crutch, I’m not Mother Teresa or the Red Cross… He’s so painfully meaningless that not even dancing can save me. Not even taking care of Maria. And you and I see each other so rarely.
MIHAEL: And poetry?
ALEKSANDRA: I can’t concentrate. Everything I write seems silly. Not realistic enough. All some Alexandrian crap. Entirely out of sync with my honourable name. I feel miserable. It’s as quiet as a grave here, you know what I mean. There’s no creative atmosphere, no sincere laughter from him. He’s showing off a bit for your sake today, but normally he’s such a wimp. If it weren’t for Maria, believe me, this place would be like a tomb at any graveyard. Or a mortuary in some backward country. It would be a so-called transitional mortuary, casually thrown over some clay, with no architecture of fear, no dignity and no rage against death.
MIHAEL: Don’t lose heart, remember my letters. Enjoy our telephone conversations.
ALEKSANDRA: All that is encouraging, but it really doesn’t last long enough. Mihael, I have to live with him. Lie next to him and avoid his touch, hold back my repulsion, watch him chew those damn apples and stare into that damn television. (Raising her voice.) He’s cruel. He just says nothing and that’s how he punishes me for spending time with you. It seems that everything between us has died. Even Maria doesn’t hold us together any more, which is a paradox. Maybe some of the blame is mine, too, but I just can’t go on being with people who are not creative. I can’t be with paralysed, unpeeled potatoes. I, I…I don’t know what to do, I don’t know what I’ll do, I, I…
MIHAEL: Aleksandra…
ALEKSANDRA: I don’t want to go on being with such a …
MIHAEL: Aleksandra…
ALEKSANDRA (shouting): No, no and no! Not even you can persuade me, not even you can stop me from ending this unbearable relationship. I can’t take silence without love. Silence without love is deeply homophobic, definitely reactionary, it has no clear political platform, don’t you see. I can’t stand boredom without warmth. Actually, I can’t stand boredom at all. Anyway, it seems like I don’t love him at all any more and…
MIHAEL: But only a month ago you said you’d try for Maria’s sake…
ALEKSANDRA (hysterically): No, no and no! I won’t. It’s better for the child not to grow up in this deadly atmosphere. She and I both need some evening laughter every day. Gaspar is well-behaved, I have to say, but he’s dry and boring, silent to the point of cruelty, self-sufficient. When he looks at the child he seems so see right through her. Work, television, newspapers and apples. Can you imagine?!
MIHAEL (seriously): With great difficulty, because I live an entirely different life. I’m very childish, you know. I just dance, write and make love to women in all means of transport, in all sorts of places, in all sorts of conditions. I joke all day long, I laugh and I sing. I’m a little sparrow with a big heart. Well, all right, I too sometimes have a big red apple. It’s no longer a sin to eat an apple.
ALEKSANDRA (hysterically): Mihael!
MIHAEL (calming her down): Calm down, Aleksandra! You’re my pet and you will always have my understanding. We’ll go for walks with Maria, buy chestnuts and popcorn. We won’t go near McDonalds and eat that trash. Instead, we’ll look at blinking stars and eat healthy food like this prosciutto and cheese. (Puts a slice of cheese into his mouth.) Don’t be afraid, you’re not alone. I’m here, too. Forever. I am here as a reminder that childhood did not die with puberty. You and I, Aleks, we aren’t afraid of anything. We’re cosmic partners and nothing can stop us and…
ALEKSANDRA (interrupts him): Stop, Mihael, for God’s sake! You promised me friendly support. You said you wanted to dance with me.
MIHAEL: That’s right. I always want to dance with you.
ALEKSANDRA: Doesn’t that mean be with me?
MIHAEL: Well, yes, but…
ALEKSANDRA (Not listening to him): That’s how I understood it, Mihael. The time has come. I really can’t take it any more. Since we became close three months ago, Gaspar seems to me more and more like a speck of dust on the bright surface of your eye. (Shouting.) I want to be yours, Mihael! I will leave him, I swear it! Do you hear me, Mihael!!? I love you, oh God! I’ll get a divorce, Mihael, come what may…
MIHAEL: Aleksandra, darling, wait… My little Sandra, calm down…

Gaspar enters with a bottle in each hand.

GASPAR (furiously): So, that’s how it is! You shameless bitch! That’s exactly what I tried to hint at, a divorce, and you called me a coward. (Opening a bottle.) You said I should fight to keep you. And then I added that I would really like to know who would finance your Mediterranean cruises, your ski holidays in the Alps, your new laptop and generally…
ALEKSANDRA: I only want to be free…
GASPAR (pouring wine into all three glasses)… and generally, the standard of living you’re used to. (Drinks.) And what about Maria? What about our little daughter?
ALEKSANDRA: That kind of cheap blackmail won’t work. So typically patriarchal. My mother will help me in any case. I was fine in my parent’s home. (Defiantly.) And I can go stay with Mladen in New York. He survived that fucking Ground Zero and he rides his bike all round Central Park. He’ll take me in. He loves his cousin, his little Sasha. I can leave immediately. I’ll send him an e-mail today. I’m not afraid of airplanes and those terrorists. No, no, my friend. I’m Aleksandra. Everyone’s trembling with fear now, but not me, no! Besides, I can do without the high standard of the middle class. (Hysterical laughter.) Ha, ha, ha…you think you can blackmail me, really! (At the end of her nerves, but poetically.) I can also eat potatoes like Marina Cvetaeva, fucking potatoes… (Takes a slice of prosciutto and eats nervously.)  O yes! I can do it…
GASPAR: Bull shit you can!
ALEKSANDRA: You can swear all you want… (Drinks some wine.) But if I can write better than her, I’m sure I can eat those damn potatoes as well!
MIHAEL (Drinking): The unfortunate Marina had amazing strength, but in the end she did commit suicide. Yes, she had great strength. Think about it, Sasha. Do you have it, Aleksandrina mia?
ALEKSANDRA (takes a sip): I think I do, and as for suicide, I’m not even thinking about it for now. (Proudly.) Oh, yes, I have the strength! Especially if you help me. Will you, Mihael?
MIHAEL (drinks): Always, Aleksandra, my darling. Always, as much as I can.
GASPAR (drinks): And that’s not a lot, my dear Mihael. I mean the financial aspect, of course. Which is very important in this case, believe me. (Pause.) When was the last time you went skiing?
MIHAEL (smiling, takes a sip): I’ve never been skiing. I couldn’t afford it. I couldn’t buy skis and ski boots.
GASPAR (vaguely ironic): And have you been on a Mediterranean cruise?
MIHAEL: Even further out of my reach. I only fantasize about it.
GASPAR: There, you see!
ALEKSANDRA (quietly): If it’s for love, I too can live modestly.
GASPAR (takes some cheese and eats it): Maybe. But for how long, that’s the question. Besides, you forget how important it is for you to look good. And all that costs, my dear. (Takes a sip.) And another thing you’re forgetting, perhaps the most important thing, is your promiscuous nature.
MIHAEL (puts some prosciutto in his mouth): I have that kind of nature, too.
GASPAR: Yes, but you admit it. She plays the lady, when in fact… Well, you can see for yourself. She’s even prepared to invite a potential lover to dinner and immediately sit in his…
ALEKSANDRA: Mihael and I are cosmic partners. (Takes a sip.) We act mostly in the celestial sphere.
GASPAR: Yes, but now you are asking him for help. You want him as an earthly partner, too. (Takes a sip.) Stop pretending! I heard enough. Celestial sphere my foot, you shameless bitch. All you care about is your own wet, insatiable, greedy cunt. It seems like you really take me for a fool.
ALEKSANDRA: But…
GASPAR: Shut up, you snake! If I’m boring, as you say, it doesn’t mean I’m stupid enough not to understand something I heard with my own ears. It’s a fact that you desire an intense orgasm, that you want to leave the warm nest…
ALEKSANDRA: Warm?
GASPAR: … and in a month, you may want to come back, you fickle woman, you occasional economic whore.
ALEKSANDRA (takes a sip): Dream on.
MIHAEL (drinks some wine): People, this is all one big mess. Food is the only thing that retains eternal stability. (Takes a slice of prosciutto and eats slowly.)
GASPAR: You really don’t know anything about Aleksandra, do you?
MIHAEL: I have only some basic information. A little info for improvised orientation.
GASPAR: That’s obvious.
ALEKSANDRA: Gaspar!
GASPAR: She’s been turning men’s heads ever since she was in primary school. (He pours wine into all three glasses as he speaks.) If you only knew the things she told me! And the things I heard from people who knew her in high school and university...
ALEKSANDRA: Half of it isn’t true, Mihael. Gaspar is so jealous that he’ll make up…
GASPAR: She’s made love in a plane, a lift, a train and a bus. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that she screwed some terrorist or oil magnate… I’m telling you, planes, cars, buses, snow trucks, trains, trams…
MIHAEL: Well, that’s actually quite charming.
ALEKSANDRA: Not in a bus. I swear. (Takes a sip.)
MIHAEL: There, you see! Gaspar, it’s not very nice of you to make things up. (Takes a sip.)
GASPAR: That’s not the point, the locations I mean. I only added that, in parentheses, to show that this person (points at Aleksandra.) can’t restrain herself anywhere. The point is that she changes partners like underwear. They all bore her soon. She falls in love so quickly, that in these three years we’ve been married, you…
ALEKSANDRA: Gaspar, stop it, please!
GASPAR:… you may be the seventh man she is infatuated with, to put it politely. Anyone with a little persistence can win her heart. What kind of a woman is that?
MIHAEL: In everyday speech, women like that are referred to as “easy”. But, as I already told you, Aleksandra can’t be classified with average women. She’s an ethereal soul, playful, passionate…
GASPAR: Oh come on, Mihael. Ethereal, you say. But she has both feet very firmly on the ground. Even I stole…
ALEKSANDRA: Gaspar…
GASPAR: I stole her away from another man, Ivan, whom she also accused of being boring, like me. Boring, boring, boring…she would repeat hysterically. It wouldn’t surprise me if even you, who are so obviously not boring, meet the same fate.
MIHAEL (takes a sip): And what if I do? It won’t be the end of the world. Gaspar, I don’t understand, why, why you take it to heart so much, why you see it as such a tragedy. And besides, it’s already happened to me. Here’s an interesting anecdote for you. One of my wives, Aleksandra’s total opposite, I mean stable and with no ethereal aura of playfulness and seduction, after three or four years of marriage, she comes to me and says that she’s bored with me. Of course, I asked her why and do you know what she told me?
GASPAR (interested): What?
MIHAEL: That she’s bored because we hadn’t been to the cinema in two years.

Everybody laughs and takes a sip of their wine.

GASPAR: And you really hadn’t been to the cinema in two years?
MIHAEL (laughs): No. I was working on a novel so…
ALEKSANDRA (maliciously): Gaspar doesn’t get the point. In a play this is called a sudden reversal. The woman was bored because she wasn’t creative, and I bet she didn’t dance either. Am I right, Mihael?
MIHAEL: Unfortunately, yes. She couldn’t understand that those who write and dance can stay at home for years without getting bored. They can even let their hair and beard grow long for the fun of it. I mean a beard all the way to the floor. And if we’re talking about a woman, she can stop changing her underwear. The cinema. The cinema. Films, films… I mean, you can watch films on TV, can’t you. Although I admit, the experience is different in a cinema. (Takes a sip.)
GASPAR: But she didn’t write or dance and the poor woman naturally wanted to go to town sometimes and see some people. That’s part of the herd mentality. You can’t really blame her for it. (Takes a slice of cheese and eats it.) I mean, you can’t blame a person who, as Aleksandra says, isn’t creative and who began to be bored with you because you stayed at home all the time.
MIHAEL (taking a slice of prosciutto and bread): I never did blame her. I realised what was going on already then. (Eating.) That’s why we broke up.
ALEKSANDRA (nibbling on a piece of cheese): Two such different people simply aren’t good for each other. It’s only natural that they would…
GASPAR:… Split up. That’s what you wanted to say, isn’t it.
ALEKSANDRA: Exactly.
GASPAR: And what if they have a child? (Raising his voice.) Yes, what if they have a child? Like us, for instance.
ALEKSANDRA: Even then.
GASPAR: Really! Even then?
ALEKSANDRA (raising her voice): Especially then. You think it’s good for a child to live in a deadly atmosphere with no love? Well it’s not! It can only harm the child. In that case it’s better for it to live with only one parent, even if it is with those fucking potatoes, ovens and cutlery.
MIHAEL (trying to soothe the tension): What do you say we put on some music? Jazz, for example?
GASPAR: One parent…
ALEKSANDRA (vivaciously): Great idea. (Pause.)

Aleksandra gets up and goes to the stereo, picks out a CD and puts it on. Jazz fills the scene, but not too loudly. Continued horror on the video wall.

MIHAEL: Let it go for now, Gaspar! The two of you will discuss it when you’re alone.
GASPAR: Didn’t you hear her? (Points at Aleksandra as she returns to the table.) She said she was in love with you and that we would split up. She said she’d leave me. (Takes a sip.)
MIHAEL: But she may not have meant it that way…
ALEKSANDRA: (Interrupts him): I said it, it’s true. We have to settle this today.
GASPAR: We! What do you mean “we”?
ALEKSANDRA: The three of us, of course.
MIHAEL: The three of us!?
GASPAR: The three of us!?
ALEKSANDRA: Yes, the three of us.
MIHAEL: But, Aleksandra, for God’s sake, you two are married and you have to deal with it. What have I got to do with it?
GASPAR: Exactly.
MIHAEL: I mean we haven’t even kissed, we haven’t even slept together, Aleksandra. All that happened was that our hands spontaneously laced together in the taxi. I don’t understand you, Sasha, and…
ALEKSANDRA (Interrupts him excitedly): Mihael, don’t try to cop out now, my darling. You know very well that as soon as we met… at that American professor’s lecture…there were some small vibrations between us.
MIHAEL: But we didn’t even talk then and …
ALEKSANDRA (not listening to him, furiously): And when we met for the second time, at the embassy cocktail party, remember, it all became quite clear. You saw me home in a taxi which I called at around nine in the evening, so that I would still be able to tuck my baby in. I know all the dates and times, just like you. And it was you who kept mentioning it in all your letters, even in that story on the radio a week ago, on my birthday. For three months now you've been seducing me systematically and in such a calculated way with your stories of dancing, of birthdays, of Salome and the seven veils, of the astronomical observatory and the Stone Gate in Zagreb, all sorts of things... You call me your black bee, your African wool and what not... You arrange for your story to be broadcast on the radio on my birthday, and even read it yourself with that warm lovely voice, and you send me that same story as a letter that I receive on the morning of that same amazing day. But that's not all. That same morning, a parcel arrives from you, a black georgette dress and a bolero made of the same fabric. On the dress a packet of Indian incense sticks and your orange card which says ‘’Dancer’’, and a blue piece of paper instead of a blue rose that could damage the dress... Gaspar almost flipped. (Turns to Gaspar.) Isn't that right? (Turns to Mihael.) And now, after everything, you can still ask what you've got to do with it all? Jesus, you seduced me! Dear God, Mihael, didn't you know that I've fallen in love with you?! I love you and I want to be with you. I'm a woman in love, you idiot! I want to dance with you. This thing with Gaspar has been a mistake all along...
GASPAR (Interrupts her): You said something like that when you were leaving Ivan to be with me...
ALEKSANDRA (Interrupts him): I did love you, Gaspar, but when I started to grasp your true nature my love began to fade. In the last three months, Mihael has completely opened my eyes. Indirectly, I have to say. He has never said anything against you or spoken badly of you, but he did everything to make me love him. And now he's copping out, the bastard. Pretending he's clueless, even asking what he has to do with the whole thing. (Yelling.) Idiots! I'm going crazy! (On the verge of tears, turning to Gaspar.) I may even end up in your hospital. I swear I'm going crazy! What's going to happen with me? What's going to happen with the child? (Turns to Mihael.) And you, you... (Sobbing.) You promised you'd show me the stars, you promised we'd buy chestnuts and popcorn, that we would walk through all the streets of this town, that we would go to Venice and sit on the white stone... (finishes her glass of wine. Whispering.) On white stone, on white stone...
GASPAR (seriously): Come on Aleksandra, stop pretending.
MIHAEL (gently): Come Aleksandra, calm down! (Touches her shoulder.) Everything will be fine.
ALEKSANDRA: Let go of me you coward!
GASPAR (with irony): Well you did say you liked what Mihael wrote in his letter – that we have to dramatise our own lives in order to really know we're alive. (Takes a sip of wine.) And now, when things are really starting to get complicated, your enthusiasm seems to be waning, the idea seems to be losing its appeal for you, as if you're not enjoying it all that much any more, as  if...
ALEKSANDRA (raising her head and fixing her hair): Shut up, you grey boring man! You make me sick. (Lights a cigarette. Inhales deeply and exhales.) Go and analyse those pathetic women in your hospital. Don't do it with me!
MIHAEL (in a conciliatory manner): Hey, people, there's been some kind of strange misunderstanding, but everything will be fine. (To Aleksandra.) You're all worked up dear, and...
ALEKSANDRA: Don't you ‘’dear’’ me! Isn't it true, everything I've said?
MIHAEL: Well, not really. (Takes a slice of prosciutto and bread.) I never said anything about Venice and white stone. (Eating.) I did mention the sea and cliffs, seagulls and foam, wool and humidity, milk and cream, the sun and the stars, but not Venice.
GASPAR: There, you see, Mihael! She falsifies history. In the end, she'll even say that there was no attack against the World Trade Center, that there was no Homeland War in Croatia, that there is no unemployment, that...
ALEKSANDRA: (in a calmer tone): I got a bit carried away in my anger. But everything else is true. You seduced me.
MIHAEL (Drinks): Maybe so. But not intentionally. As I said, there has been a misunderstanding. I do want to spend time with you, Aleksandra. I want us to dance with deep affection but I have never led you to believe that I want to live with you or go out with you like couples in love do. I never even mentioned the possibility, let alone promised something like that.
ALEKSANDRA: Why all those letters then, the poetic allusions, the radio story, the dress, the incense and all of that? Why?
MIHAEL: To put it simply, I felt you were a soul mate. I felt we were alike. We are eruptive dancers, we are the seducers in this world. I felt that in you and I liked it. I liked the way you want to fascinate everybody around you, discretely but intensely, to explore every possibility, to have a commanding view of the entire territory of wherever you happen to be, and that actually means to seduce everyone gently, but relentlessly.
ALEKSANDRA (Looking at him with tenderness): Gently and relentlessly, Mihael.
MIHAEL: Exactly. Gently and relentlessly. We are irresistible whores. That is why I wanted, and still want, us to become very close friends. We make literature of life, and in doing so we deceive people. We, Aleksandra, are happy creatures who make their loved ones miserable.
GASPAR: Bravo, Mihael! You don't come across this kind of honesty every day. You really are a decent human being.
ALEKSANDRA: I understand, but, nevertheless, Mihael, I've fallen in love, damn it.
MIHAEL: Wrong move. I said there's been a misunderstanding. Remember now, I never came on to you, never sent any sexual messages or anything like that. I merely dreamed of having a female friend from artistic circles who is a lot like me, and of sharing with her that same or similar richness that binds us. I never dreamed you'd fall in love with me, and anyway, this is the first time you've even mentioned it and...
ALEKSANDRA (Interrupts him): Well I thought it was so obvious. I thought it was your style, completely original, and so...
MIHAEL: I never dreamed that you invited me to dinner in order to resolve your marital problems...
ALEKSANDRA (Interrupts him): That wasn't the reason, believe me, Mihael! It wasn't. That's just the way it turned out. I didn’t plan it, Mihael. Everything kind of got mixed up in my head. My mind is in chaos... That's why my new poems are incomprehensible... Whenever my mind is in chaos I produce chaotic democratic texts that can be of use only to half-wits who have completed one grade of some suburban school...
MIHAEL: Don't use some feigned chaos as an excuse and don’t play the tough girl and create drama where it doesn't really exist, OK? You at least are not one of those professional writers who try and keep up some semblance of chaos in their texts, while regularly and realistically going to the bank to collect royalties for their really chaotic textual abortions. Really chaotic because that's the only way they can write. So, Aleks, don't offer lame excuses. All of a sudden you present me with an accomplished fact. I'm telling you, black bee, there has been a strange misunderstanding, to put it mildly.
GASPAR: Absolutely correct.
MIHAEL: But we're all reasonable people. It can all be cleared up with a little music, drink and a talk. (Takes a sip.)
ALEKSANDRA (looking at Gaspar): In any case, I can't, I don't want to be with you any more. (Raising her voice again.) I can't take it any more, I can't...
MIHAEL: I'm sure that Gaspar and you can work it out in a reasonable and elegant manner.
GASPAR (enthusiastically): Really, Aleksandra...

The telephone rings. Aleksandra nervously puts out her cigarette, wipes her eyes, fixes her hair, gets up and goes to the telephone. During the telephone conversation, Gaspar opens the third bottle of wine with trembling hands and pours it into all three glasses. Mihael eats peacefully and slowly, washing down his prosciutto and cheese with wine. Gaspar smokes nervously and drinks slowly. With restless eyes he watches Aleksandra as she talks and walks. He ‘’arranges’’ the blue rose in the black vase, wipes invisible specks of dust from his sleeve, fidgets in his chair, and eats a black olive... A track of light on Vera upstage right, among the ruins. On the left side of the ruins there are megaphones, ladders and picks. The Firefighters, their wives, the Nurse, the President and First Lady are sitting in front of the tin barrel and cheerfully eating their lunch. Lively gesticulation as they devour their Kentucky steaks. Images of horror on the video wall. Vera is holding the receiver of a cordless telephone. She is wearing a red skirt, black top and a red chequered flannel shirt, unbuttoned.

ALEKSANDRA: Hello!
VERA: Hi.
ALEKSANDRA: Hi, mum.
VERA: I hear music. A party? Or are you and Gaspar enjoying yourselves?
ALEKSANDRA: Ah, no, mum. I told you we were having a guest today. My friend Mihael...
VERA (Interrupts her): Mihael... Oh, turn that music down, will you! You know I hate talking on the phone while there's...
ALEKSANDRA: OK, just a minute. (Hurries to the stereo and turns off the CD player.) Well I told you we were having a guest today. (Spitefully.) My friend Mihael is here. A light dinner, the three of us chatting, listening to some jazz, that kind of thing.
VERA: And what did you make for dinner?
ALEKSANDRA: Nothing special. I cut up heaps of prosciutto and cheese and served all that with olives, olive oil, bread and wine.
VERA: Not bad. You could have sprinkled some oregano on the cheese. It's fantastic. But, listen, Maria isn't coughing any more, she didn't get a fever but she's very restless. She keeps asking for her mummy, I can't calm her down; she's used to falling asleep beside you and Gaspar. She's screaming like mad. She wants you and keeps screaming ‘’I want my mummy! I want my internet! I want my games!’’ I tell her: ‘’Tomorrow, dear, tomorrow my little Maria’’, and then she tells me, listen to this, like a little philosopher: ‘’Tomorrow is never. I want them now!’’ Do you see?! A brilliant thought: tomorrow is never. All in all, I think it's best I bring her over, because otherwise Granddad and I won't get any sleep at all, do you see! And the poor child is miserable...
ALEKSANDRA: But mum...
VERA: It's her bedtime anyway. Put her in her crib, tell her a short story and that's that. As soon as she sees her room and her toys, the computer and you she'll calm down and fall asleep, and you can go on with your dinner.
ALEKSANDRA: But mum, you know how things are, I did ask you that today...
VERA: (interrupts her): I know, I know dear, but this is better for the child. We can't have her straining herself, do you see? That might bring about a cough although I gave her some syrup.
ALEKSANDRA (helplessly): All right then, but don't forget her things. Take...
VERA: Of course, her syrup and her pills and grandmother's chamomile, marshmallow and honey drink. Everything for my little darling, my lovely granddaughter. I'll be there in ten minutes. The traffic's not too bad now. I'll park right in front of your building so I'm there in a sec. And don't put any music on now for God's sake because you won't hear the bell. I don't feel like messing about with the mobile and wasting my time, do you see. I don't want Maria's cold to get even worse. I'm off now. Bye!
ALEKSANDRA (Sighs): Bye. See you.



6.
BORDER SITUATION: HOW BODIES ARE ARRANGED
IN THE UNIVERSE


Darkness as a brief historical fact. Then light on the ruins. The delicate dramaturgy of ruins and a work day on one continent and the dramaturgy of an evening of fun on another. Although they are slightly reminiscent of ghosts, people eat, drink and talk as if all of it were determined by fate as normal, as if it were defined by some firm divine intention. During the sixth scene, the light is evenly distributed on the ‘’domestic oasis’’ and the ruins. Everything acquires a similar aspect of acceleration. A more demanding director may chose to incorporate some dialogue from the Zone of Ashes and Dust into Scene 7. Maybe that is a good idea. Why not try? Fulfilling one's needs is commanded by vague but strong impulses. To eat. To dance. To sing. To drink. To love. Simply – to be. To generate a feeling of freedom no matter how harnessed and questionable it is. Food, drink, sensuality, singing, dancing. Amidst the horror it shines all the more, it gains the character of something relentless. We are a version of beautiful slaves to passion. Is it our passion? Is it our will? We don't know. We can only guess. And yet we claim. Only two things are certain: Ground Zero and the passionate excitement on the edge of being and disappearing, the edge of a seeming indifference, but actually always and forever close to the edge of imminent Death. So, let's enjoy ourselves some more. Death tastes of an intense life. Everyday neuroses are nothing but symptoms of a full-blooded departure into eternal peace and rest.

The President, satisfied, uses a handkerchief to wipe his mouth, greasy from the steak, then gets up, casually climbs up to the platform, raising in his hand a can of Coca Cola
and a little bottle of his own blood. He then holds a speech or simply talks and comments because he generally likes to talk a lot and listen to the sound of his own voice. His toast, speech and comments are occasionally interrupted by the applause of the First Lady, the Firefighters, their companions and the Nurse. As the President's excitement grows, so does their own, as well as their feeling of togetherness.  In the Zone of Ashes and Dust the dignity of reckless and rebellious living always runs high, in spite of certain social restraints. Although Ground Zero looks like a postcard from Hell, this place of disaster is increasingly reminiscent of a large heap of ashes glittering in the colors of the Phoenix.

PRESIDENT raising a can of Coke and a little bottle of blood from which he takes a sip
Here's to our comrade heroes, our American, our New York firefighters. Here's to your companions, here's to the First Lady and the Nurse. Here's to our wonderful American women. At my initiative, lunch went on for a bit longer, but don't worry, you won't be fired. I'll straighten it out with your superiors, who, believe me, are aware of your great responsibilities and the enormous efforts you are putting into saving as many people as possible. You've already done a great deal in this Manhattan hell today. I know you're tired. Your President is with you. I like being here with you, so I've asked the Vice President to deal with my state affairs and I let the boys from security know that they needn't worry and that they don't have to be here before sunset. But these Kentucky steaks are really good. You’ve done a fine job, Charlie! This is how I do them on my ranch in Texas. My two dogs and cat are really happy when we have steak time. I'm glad I let protocol down today…

FIRST LADY applauding cheerfully, followed by the others
So am I, so am I!

PRESIDENT
… and that I'm here with you, with the heroes of our nation, the heroes of our streets. Let the blind boys from those expensive tents, that, by the way, were bought with money from oil that will soon become our oil, gentlemen, let those blind boys see that this situation with Ground Zero cannot make us waver from our usual patriotic lunches which, like today, we can prolong a bit, lunches at which we often joke, although we are mostly conservatives. Yes, conservatives, but with a democratic foundation in our blood. Excited. Yes, democratic conservatives, but not hypocrites as some of our pathetic intellectuals call us, and in doing so spit on our progressive society. And ours is the most progressive society in the world, isn’t it? Don't we openly, out in the open, like now, publicly eat steaks, eat meat in public? And what do they do? Those pathetic faddish intellectuals from various universities or freelancers from insignificant magazines. They do the same, exactly the same, but secretly, hiding behind huge soy steaks. And not only do they hide, they use obscure language when they attack our fundamental values, above all our family values and our meat values. Dear friends, here is one of a great number of obscure pamphlets by some pathetic intellectual secessionist. The pamphlet reached my desk in the Oval Office a few days ago. He takes out a piece of paper from his inside pocket. I've already ordered the arrest of this subversive individual who does not respect our nation and our indigenous values, and, if you like, the values of our presidential system. Don't worry, gentlemen, the US Army, the rangers, the marines, the CIA and FBI will find this arrogant individual and then his time is definitely up, so help me God. Listen to what it says here, gentlemen. He reads with indignation and occasionally comments. “The US President is a sophisticated bureaucrat of the dancing figures of nothingness. He would sooner advocate pointless murder than support a program of healthy eroticism.” What the hell does that mean, I’d like to know? Everybody knows I always support good programs. “He didn’t read the texts of Curt Cobain because he prefers those by Courtney Love. He even claims that Curt didn’t grasp nirvana, proof of which, he says, is his untimely death, while on the other hand Courtney has grasped it because she visits big shopping malls every day, replacing jaded night-time fucking with half-jaded daytime shopping reminiscent of nirvana. The President says that Courtney Love is smarter than Curt because she never succumbs to the hasty adolescent solution of running under the rainbow, a rainbow that an adolescent trip will reveal as the belief in death that does not really exist. As we can see, the President is a very problematic guy.” You don’t say! Me, problematic, you damn asshole! Excuse my language, dear ladies, but I can’t refrain from telling this individual what’s coming to him. “He is a pathological hypocrite with a double tendency: he allegedly opposes blasphemy while at the same time he uses religion to the shameless ends of presidential domination over ordinary citizens. The key word here is domination. He will die for it if necessary, and, if necessary, for a little domination he will catch clap in a small village, beside a big city, remembering Kitty, the famous dancer who was on Oprah, where she declared her tourist Hollywood walk along Sunset Boulevard to be her glorious tale of an early but successful defloration.” Damn fool! What Kitty? What defloration? This guy’s completely nuts. “I also have to state that the President represents an obvious crisis of growth after Nietzsche, as evidenced by his endless joy at the exaltation of a song of dubious artistic value, his joy at the adolescent-geriatric song My Heart Belongs to Daddy. As we know, this is a famous Lolita evergreen, supported by perverse men, mostly agile sixty-year-olds. The President represents violence against fathers and female children, especially fathers and the authority of predecessors.” You scumbag, you scum! When have I ever done anything to hurt my father? He lives a wonderful life, even today. “He wants to destroy, both really and symbolically, the authority of Einstein and the other great men of science, declaring himself the universal father of the nation. He boasts endlessly with the Ten Commandments, as if he personally came up with them and wrote them down on Mount Elbert, in a tourist’s solitude on the Rocky Mountains. My God, he boasts with those commandments just like, for example, all true blue Americans boast with those famous amendments, especially the First Amendment that, paradoxically, ends in a conflict of interest with the increasingly stronger idiocy of political correctness.” I’ll be damned if I understand this. “The President, therefore, is also a hypocrite. The second key word is hypocrisy. He wallows in hypocrisy every day, just like chubby children wallow in whole milk with oatmeal while telling you that they’re on a diet. So, allow me to conclude. The President does not believe in God, only in oil, but he likes to present himself as a believer, not an oil man. Besides, he mentions the Lord’s name in vain all the time.” By God, you’re lying like a dog. “Our President is a deeply heartless, cold and immoral man. When has he, for example, shown concrete, intimate respect to an ordinary person? Never. He is, to put it simply, a dishonorable man. That, fellow Americans, is our President. Do we all deserve such a president?” The President furiously crumples the piece of paper and throws it into the ruins. There, gentlemen, you see the lengths my enemies will go to. Isn’t it terrible?

EVERYBODY approves, shouting words of support to the President, waving with the remains of their steaks.

PRESIDENT angrily
Me, a hypocrite? Me, not showing intimate respect? Oh, those dirty intellectual secessionists! The enemies of our nation. I do it every day. My First Lady can confirm it. She’s never jealous because she knows that it’s one of the President’s duties to show respect to ordinary citizens. The First Lady nods solemnly, confirming everything the President said with a smile and intimate gestures and then continues with her meal. Even now, as usual, even now after a hearty meal which I’m washing down with Coca Cola I will invite an ordinary person, for instance a nurse With an intimate friendly gesture he invites the Nurse.  to join me in intimate respect as I continue this intimate speech on the occasion of a nasty incident full of terrorism that has hit us through no fault of our own these beautiful sunny September days.

The Nurse readily approaches the President, obviously very pleased with his invitation. Her cheeks are rosy from food, drink and pride. She’s smiling and beautiful and wipes her greasy little chin with her hand. She chews and swallows the last bit of steak and wipes her hands with a napkin. Then she takes off her cap with a red “plus” sign, kneels, throws her lavish hair to one side and performs the ever more popular fellatio on the President as he continues his speech full of national pride and solemn accents. Everybody approves of their mutual intimate respect. The President stands as proud as a pioneer, as firm as the first settler and gently tousles the Nurse’s hair, ecstatically continuing his speech among the ruins. Ground Zero, the Zone of Ashes and Dust. The video wall is showing the horror of the destruction of the Twins, documentary scenes of terrorism, disaster scenes.

PRESIDENT furious and yet pleased looks up at the sky
Me, a hypocrite! Me not showing intimate respect! I am in fact proud to say I often do so. In fact I do it whenever my state duties allow it. Even now at this very moment. Our nurse’s all-American boyfriend, a good honest police officer, who as we speak is on duty somewhere in this hell, will be proud that his girlfriend and future wife, an ordinary American, is being shown intimate respect by the President. It’s actually mutual intimate respect between the first citizen of the nation and an ordinary citizen, in this case a female citizen. Even love, if you will. It’s love on a higher, even national, plane, something that pamphleteer knows nothing about. The President tousles the Nurse’s hair. Privately and publicly, I have always stood up for a strong family. For our national family values. Yes my friends, a strong and healthy family. A healthy family is the cornerstone of our capitalism, gentlemen. It is, in fact, this institution that the enemies of our nation actually want to bring down and destroy. These destroyed towers are only a piece of bloody symbolism, a bloody warning. He speaks ecstatically, casually tousling the Nurse’s hair. He occasionally takes a sip of Coca Cola or blood. Our enemies actually want to destroy our most valuable achievement. They want to destroy the American family. They want to destroy our American dream. Our American dream that is always connected with a happy family. Well I’ll be damned if they will. The family is everything, the family is a holy thing. And we will ceaselessly dream the dream of a perfect family. Besides the dollar this is our greatest value. Yes gentlemen – the family. If a man makes a mistake every now and then his family will always stand by him. I mean, look at me. In my student days I went astray every once in a while. Once I even had a few drinks too many. And what happened? Nothing. My family stood by me. I always say, if you make a mistake, make a smart mistake. That means, after the sin has been committed, admit it immediately within your family. Admit your mistake. Ask your family for forgiveness and then go on in pursuit of your happiness and the happiness of your family. Also, always do good deeds, especially on your birthday. Make a point of doing a good deed for every birthday. The right side of the video wall shows a party on Madison Square Garden on the 19th May of 1962. Marilyn Monroe is singing Happy Birthday Mr. President. The left side of the video wall is still showing horror. This time it’s all the American wars from Vietnam onwards. The Nurse is totally immersed in the intimate fellatio, a kind of general fellatio so to speak, as an expression of deep mutual respect. Each of your birthdays should be suffused with good deeds. Make a huge party and feed many people. The emphasis should be on fruit salads with lots of vitamins. Your loved ones should remember you by the amount of vitamins you so unselfishly gave them. Always be lavish with vitamins. I repeat, on every one of your birthdays do a good deed. And if your birthday is on the sixth of July, like mine, then you should do even more good deeds. That’s a really good day because it comes two days after our Independence Day. Which makes a birthday party even more festive. On that day give out your winter clothes to poor families. Poor families will appreciate it. And these enemies of ours in their expensive desert tents, in deserts where it is almost always warm, they don't know what a harsh American winter is, anyway, when almost all the Great Lakes turn to ice and when shit freezes in your ass all the way from the East coast to the West. Yes, when, as President, I just think of the American dream, our family values, birthdays and good deeds I get slightly dizzy, like I'm losing consciousness, like I'm levitating, floating, like I’m about to fly, like I’m slowly passing out. He is shivering a little, shaking slightly as he tousles the Nurse's hair. And that is why I always say to my enemies: Leave, because you will not destroy us, because our strength is founded on a healthy family and on loving our neighbor. The President lowers his voice a little as Marilyn Monroe sings the birthday song to JFK on Madison Square Garden, and the audience sings along with her. Everybody on the scene joins in the famous lines. After the refrain the President raises his voice, but now it sounds a little hoarse and broken. And to my friends and my nation I always say: Love thy neighbor, love him on the lips and everywhere else and you shall feel good on this Earth. Love each other, people... Give your fellow man your own blood, if need be. From his pocket he takes the little bottle of his own blood, opens it and places the neck of the bottle on the Nurse's lips. For a moment, she stops the fellatio, takes a sip of the blood, then gives the President a loving look and continues with showing mutual respect.  Love each other, people, embrace each other... Love each other here and now, love each other today, because maybe tomorrow in our own planes, boys with the dark eyes of sincere suicides will charge once again... and I tell them: The bigger they are, the harder they fall... as our famous Texas saying goes... so, love each other today, love your neighbor wherever you can, because that's what our Christian faith teaches us, because that's the best defense from all kinds of enemies... love each other, because tomorrow is a new day... there's a lot of work ahead... the enemy will never defeat the American dream... The President speaks faster and faster, he closes his eyes in ecstasy and as he tousles the Nurse's hair his movements become faster and faster while Marilyn Monroe finishes her birthday song for the President. Silence accompanies the rest of the President's speech. This silence is not the lack of sound, it is a loud silence. …love, oh, love... love each other and nobody will ever defeat the American dream... love each other and hang our flag on each house... love each other and listen to our national anthem... love each other, people... oh... oh... show each other intimate respect... oh... show it mutually and every day... oh... always say the well-known holy words... oh... always say alternately... oh... ‘‘The American dream, carpe diem, the American dream, carpe diem, the American dream, carpe diem, the American dream''...

The Zone of Ashes and Dust. Ground Zero. The smell of a site of fire, the smell of fried Kentucky steaks on the stage and in the audience. The smell of beer and Coca Cola. Some stirring begins, people getting up, approaching each other, starting to kiss. People are admiring the President, people are listening to the President, people are doing as the President says. The American dream begins. Everybody is kissing. Everybody is living out their long suppressed desires, their most hidden wishes, their most intimate dreams. The First Lady and Betty kiss tenderly, remembering their first shy and yet passionate lesbian experiences in elementary and secondary school. The First Firefighter and the Third Firefighter in a fierce homosexual embrace; for the first time they are living out their permanent boyhood dreams. The Second Firefighter and Lydia, leaning against a charred iron pillar, come together passionately like Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone in the famous film Basic Instinct. Annie approaches them and joins them, unrestrained, helping her Charlie by simultaneously showing intimate respect to him, her future husband, and to his colleague’s girlfriend Lydia. An important and beautiful scene, a scene so alive and innocent. It is an anthropological scene of a prehistoric expression of love towards one’s fellow man, at what may be “the end of history”, as formulated by the wise professor Fukuyama. Fantastic contrasts. In the midst of the ruins, the unadulterated desire for life to go on in spite of everything. Against the background of devastation, the desire for new birth, the desire for success and progress, the desire for ordinary human pleasure. Simple, wholesome, direct, convivial American spontaneity and dream-like ease. The American Dream in a fierce rhythm and in full glory amidst the burned ruins, against the background of the conflagration, the blackness, the concrete and steel. Horror continues on the video wall.  The choreography of the unfettered joy of living people in contrast to the fateful dramaturgy of misery. Ground Zero and the American Dream. The American Dream and Ground Zero.



7.
DANCE VARIATIONS, FREEDOM IS HORROR,
BEAUTIFUL IS THE NIGHT


The “oasis of the little domestic drama” is in red semi-darkness. The TV screen is alight and showing scenes identical to those on the video wall, but with no sound. The CD player is playing softly but loud enough to be heard. The song is Elvis Presley's Are you Lonesome Tonight.

Are you lonesome tonight,
Do you miss me tonight?
Are you sorry we drifted apart?
Does your memory stray to a
bright summer day
when I kissed you and called
you sweetheart?

Do the chairs in your parlor
seem empty and bare?
Do you gaze at your doorstep
and picture me there?
Is your heart filled with pain,
shall I come back again?
Tell me, dear, are you lonesome tonight?

When the song ends, a little pink light on the “oasis of the little domestic drama” and on Ground Zero, the Zone of Ashes and Dust. The same song plays again immediately after it ends. Aleksandra and Mihael, in an embrace, sway to the music, their bodies intimately pressed against each other. Mihael is now wearing only his shirt, his tie loose, and Aleksandra is wearing only the black georgette evening dress that Mihael gave her for her birthday, without the bolero. A very erotic image of bare shoulders, nothing but black shoulder straps on the white skin of a beautiful and still young woman. Vera is sitting at the table, swaying to the music and eating prosciutto and cheese with her hands. She is clumsily throwing olive seeds at Aleksandra and Mihael. On the table and beside it on the floor there are seven empty bottles. On the table there is also the unopened bottle of Courvoisier that Mihael brought, as well as an empty bottle from which the protagonists drank in the third scene and at the beginning of the fifth scene. Gaspar staggers slightly with a bottle of Chivas Regal in his hand, wearing no jacket now, his shirt unbuttoned. It is late, almost one o'clock in the morning. Everybody is drunk. The women a little less, the men a little more. Their movements and speech are slow, but toward the end of the scene they become quite lively. An atmosphere in which time seems to have stopped, and being lost, or present, in pleasure, joy, desperation, indifference, euphoria or merely in ordinary disorientation, is reflected on the faces, in the movements, the speech, the singing, the shouting and the screaming. Everything is ready for drama or the illusion of drama, which is also a really nasty drama with unpleasant consequences. Everything is ready for all manner of democratic staging. Everything is ready and painfully visible in our world, a world without real myths and real gods. Everything is ready with the pink and reddish light on the scene. The reddish light also covers the video wall full of blackness. Running beneath the rainbow was never easy for anyone. Freedom is precarious.  Maybe Aleksandra is our destiny. The red colour of life. It is the colour that can enrage death.


1.

MIHAEL (dancing): It’s a beautiful night, Aleksandra. Can you see all the stars?
ALEKSANDRA (dancing): Oh, yes, Mihael! I see them in your eyes as little dots. And I also see the sun and the rain in colours. I’m Alice in a land full of wonders. I’m Alice inside you.
GASPAR (wiping his mouth with his shirt sleeve after taking a sip): Alice, Alice, who the fuck is Alice? That’s that song by the rock-group Smokie, at least I think it is. You’re not Alice, you never were my Alice. Well, actually, you’re everybody’s Alice. (takes a sip.). You’re a sex maniac, you are...
VERA (throwing olive seeds at Aleksandra and Mihael, and then at Gaspar): Gaspar, don’t be rude. You at least are from a nice family.
GASPAR (approaching the table, touching the bottles with his hand): Yes, that’s quite true… Madam Vera, my dear mother in law. But, we’re out of Cabernet. The urban barbarians have drunk it all. But never mind, you’ll all come to Gaspar’s clinic in the end. It’s a shame that our humane psychiatry has been avoiding electro-shocks lately, ha-ha-ha. I’d show the lot of you.
VERA: Gaspar, doctors have to strive for a humane approach (throwing seeds at Aleksandra.) Hey, my little Aleksandra, thank you for inviting me to stay for dinner... It’s lovely… Granddad’s angry, but I called him and explained everything…thank you...
ALEKSANDRA (dancing): You’re welcome, mum… Just enjoy yourself. You’re entitled to relax a little, have a little fun... You’ve been taking care of other people all your life… (To Mihael.) But really, why won’t you take me to the sea, to a river, forever, so that together we can explore African wool, the symbol of freedom? Tell me, Mihael.
GASPAR: Mihael is free, but you’re not. Not yet. (Laughing drunkenly.) No more Cabernet. But somewhere in this house we still have some Chardonnay. The Chardonnay from the last party. Gaspar knows, oh I’ll find you, my little Chardonnay. This whiskey is a little too strong for my delicate doctor’s physique.
MIHAEL (dancing): We’re exploring together, my beautiful one, and sharing our dancing experiences and our astral experiences. But we can’t live in the same space because there would be an explosion. Two such rich natures cannot live in the same house, in the same flat, on the same ship.
VERA (taking a sip): I called Granddad, and it’s alright. As my Aleks says, I can relax a little, have a little fun. I’m only 49 (takes off her shirt and top.). My husband is a modern man, he’s also an artist. And besides, I’m visiting my darling daughter. Hey, you’re bad, seducing decent men (Throwing a seed at Aleksandra.) You didn’t learn that from me. (Takes a deep breath, squeezes her breasts and looks at Gaspar drunkenly but seductively.)
GASPAR (leaning with his arm on the table): I’ve heard all sorts of things about you, too.
VERA (gets up, puts her arms around Gaspar): You’ve heard nothing, you’re making it up. But here, now I’ll rape you. I’ve wanted you for a long time, ha-ha. So you won’t have to make anything up any more. Make it up…make it up…make it up… Gaspar…come on, lie down…there’s a good boy…You have to listen to me because I’m older... and I’m more experienced as a doctor...
GASPAR (pretending to defend himself): I heard that a student killed himself because of you while you were still at university.
VERA (drags Gaspar to the floor, opens his zip and alternately speaks and performs fellatio, like an experienced woman): The whole story was made up by that Eva, a psychiatrist like you... I know her, she was always jealous of my boyfriends, that little bitch from diplomatic circles... (She lifts her skirt and sits on an excited and very hard Gaspar, pounding at him without shame or hesitation.) Yes! Yes! She slanders me whenever she can… (Gaspar surrenders and participates. Vera is wild with passion.)… because I stole a cute guy from her in Opatija...
GASPAR (participating excitedly): For heaven’s sake, Vera, they’re watching us… Vera, you’re crazy. It’ll all be my fault again.
VERA (speaking intermittently in ecstasy): Oh, come on, Gaspar, what are you afraid of? She did say I should relax and have some fun, didn’t she? Can’t you see they’re dead drunk? They’re only concerned with themselves. It’s like we don’t exist. Aleksandra is smitten with love. Mihael as well. Oh, Gaspar, come on, go wild now, show us all the stars. We too have a right to stars.
ALEKSANDRA (dancing, not paying any attention to Vera and Gaspar, who are having frenzied drunken sex on the floor): Why, Mihael, damn it, why can’t we live in the same house, in the same flat, on the same ship?
MIHAEL (dancing. He too pays no attention to the frenzied couple on the floor): I told you, there would be an explosion.
ALEKSANDRA: What kind of ex…explosion?
MIHAEL: A big multi-coloured explosion. People with a lot of music in their head cannot put up with anyone like themselves for a long time. Relax and dance, Aleksandra. Our whole life is before us.
ALEKSANDRA: What life? Life in strange marriages? I don’t want life in strange marriages! I want freedom! I’m prepared to fight for my freedom!
MIHAEL: You’re being too philosophical! One should relax to the sounds of sad songs like this one. You should think of the sky while you look at the earth or browse through big shops in search of samples of fine georgette (pointing at her dress.). You should understand the night, Aleksandra.
ALEKSANDRA (cheerfully): I’m having a hard time following you, my dear friend.
MIHAEL: Oh, Aleksandra, do you remember that story in which I wrote that the night suits you?
ALEKSANDRA: Yes, it was on that Thursday when our hands experienced touch in the taxi. It was our touch. One must understand touch. One must be able to understand touch. One must nurture it. Everything disappeared then. Everything disappeared in a moment. The universe was lost in the night, lost in…
MIHAEL (Interjects): In your warm, only slightly bony fingers. But touch should be experienced like the night. Touch is a freedom in which you lose your little self. Nobody can buy real touch. Real touch has no price. People forget that. Real touch has no self-interest, no possessiveness.
ALEKSANDRA: No, Mihael. That’s why I wrote that poem, Touch, I read it to you…
MIHAEL: Yes, my darling, you did. I remember the line “touch should be listened to, even when the radio’s on…”
ALEKSANDRA: Mihael, let’s lose ourselves in touch.
MIHAEL: We’re already lost, lost in thinking about it.
ALEKSANDRA: I’m sick of thinking, I want to feel.

Aleksandra and Mihael sway as they dance. Vera completes her ‘’rape’’ of Gaspar, or better said, they both bring it to an end. Vera looks at Gaspar with admiration. She gets up and awkwardly fixes her skirt and bashfully puts on her top and shirt. Then she sits on the chair sipping her drink as she stretches, satisfied. Her movements are drunk but natural as if nothing special had happened. Gaspar gets up, fixes his clothes, lights a cigarette and smokes cravingly. His hands are trembling. Then he takes a sip of his whiskey, wipes his mouth with his arm and with a silly drunken expression, squinting, occasionally glances anxiously toward Aleksandra.

GASPAR: I’ll find that Chardonnay. Alanis Morissette sings about a fly that fell into that beautiful wine… “Isn’t it ironic…”, she sings...
VERA: Yes, but why does this music keep playing over and over again? Why only this Elvis the King… (She burps.)… I was in love with him you know…
GASPAR (swaying gently. Takes a sip of whiskey and tries to be formal again, like before the “rape”.): Playing over and over again, over and over again... Well, it’s playing over and over again because I programmed it that way. Because that’s how I programmed it on a CD player, dear madam. These are lines that shocked the second half of the 20th century. They speak of unhappy people, torn apart… But I’ll find that wine…
VERA (louder): I speak English and I understand the song, but it’s becoming slightly boring. Listen, Gaspar, how about putting on some Edith Piaf?
ALEKSANDRA: Or Janis Joplin?
MIHAEL: Or Tom Waits?
GASPAR (Feeling guilty): OK, I’ll indulge my still legal darling wife… (Goes to the stereo, puts down the whiskey bottle, stops the previous CD and puts on a Janis Joplin CD.) And after this, I’ll put on your Edith Piaf, madam. Where’s my whiskey? Aha, there you are, my boy… I’ll find that wine...
MIHAEL (announcing, like a master of ceremony): And after Edith Piaf, let there be light from various cellars. Let there be Tom Waits!
GASPAR: Hear, hear, maestro!
MIHAEL: And after that a Bach fugue, a violin concert and maybe the great mass in H-minor.
ALEKSANDRA: I’d like a fugue. I like fugues. They’re full of the colours of the rainbow. I’d like to run while Bach fugues are playing.
GASPAR (laughs): Well, you can run to any music. Isn’t that right, Mihael?
MIHAEL: That’s right, maestro. Janis Joplin here, she ran like mad. Just listen to this Piece of My Heart or that other song Try, Just a Little Bit Harder. Janis died from running, Aleksandra. Janis died from freedom, my astral soul.
ALEKSANDRA: She was brave.
VERA: She was vulnerable.
GASPAR: She was a confused American girl… I’ll find that wine…
MIHAEL: She was a really crazy girl. Totally nuts, very fine, but she didn’t die of wine.
GASPAR (singing loudly): … she wasn’t fine and she died of heroine, but she was no hero… I’ll find that wine…

Janis Joplin and Piece of My Heart. Aleksandra and Mihael stop dancing. They approach the table, swaying gently to the rhythm of the music. They sit down. Gaspar puts the whiskey bottle on the table and staggers towards the door on the left. Mihael eats some prosciutto and opens the bottle of Courvoisier that he brought for Gaspar. Aleksandra sucks on a black olive. Vera is swaying in her chair enthralled as she listens to Janis. Mihael pours the cognac into the dirty glasses, but nobody minds.


2.

MIHAEL (Takes a sip): This prosciutto is so good that even cognac goes well with it.
VERA (Takes a sip): Maybe you’re an alcoholic, so you like alcohol with anything.
MIHAEL: You’re right. I suffer from structural alcoholism. You saw this already on that starry night when I rang you and your husband at two in the morning and talked about the beauty of the universe.
VERA: We couldn’t get any more sleep that night, my husband and I. We understand artists, but that was just too much…
ALEKSANDRA (Takes a sip): What do you mean by structural alcoholism?
MIHAEL: It means that I’m drunk even when I’m not drinking alcohol.
ALEKSANDRA: You’re so special, Mihael. You know that?
MIHAEL: I know. That’s why the stars love me and the African wool of all girls on all continents.
VERA: I’ve never met such a boaster.
MIHAEL: And you never will.
VERA (eating an olive): Two would really be too much.
ALEKSANDRA: Oh, come on, mum. He’s great. Mihael is so interesting, it makes me dizzy.
VERA: It’s the booze that’s making you dizzy. It’s the booze and dancing that’s made you dizzy, my lovely.
ALEKSANDRA: It’s love that’s making me dizzy, mum (pointing at Mihael.) I told this idiot I love him. And what does he do? Nothing. First he seduces me, I fall in love, and now he’s copping out.
MIHAEL: Come on, you’re exaggerating. I never seduced you intentionally.
ALEKSANDRA: And unintentionally?
MIHAEL (Takes a sip): I don’t know about that. I’m a little sparrow. I’m always joyful and happy to be alive.
ALEKSANDRA: You’re depraved. God will punish you. Oh, God, why am I so happy when I meet a madman with a poetic soul.
MIHAEL: Because you like meeting people who are like you.
VERA (sharply, almost soberly): My daughter is not mad. She’s so rational. She prefers vegetables to meat. She avoids lard. She despises obese children. That’s why our Maria looks so lovely. And you, sir, in your middle age, stop pretending to be younger than you are.
ALEKSANDRA: He’s not pretending, he really is younger.
MIHAEL (ironically): My freshness only prompts women in late middle age to become women of early middle age.
GASPAR: (entering with two bottles, shouts): Janis is the best! Janis is the best! She was an unhappy girl with a very happy job... Here, here’s the Chardonnay! Hey, people! Stop drinking cognac and that whiskey, those ecologically awkward drinks.
VERA: Hey, and you stop shouting!
GASPAR: (opening a bottle): And why are you so jumpy, madam? I know what it is. Here, let me just take this cork out and I’ll put on your Edith Piaf… I’ve found the wine, ha-ha…
VERA: Very good, my dear son-in-law! That’s it! Edith Piaf! (raising her glass.) Here’s to Gaspar! (Takes a sip.)
ALEKSANDRA (Takes a sip): Her voice, so sad. And yet so strong. Patti Smith has a similar voice. The old witch! Mihael, remember when you played that song of hers for me over the phone, the one that goes “because the night belongs to lovers”? From her Easter album?
MIHAEL (Takes a sip): Of course I remember. Dangerous girl. Moves one to strong action, ah. And Edith Piaf’s voice stirs in me the first spring showers, first loves, first umbrellas…
ALEKSANDRA: First kisses in doorways, the first hidden kisses… the first exciting lift rides… the first ice-skating…the first plane ride…it makes me dizzy to remember those persistent boys...
GASPAR: There, you heard it yourselves…since her earliest youth she has been unable to stop herself... Fucking cork!

Gaspar, although drunk, has managed to open the bottle. He pours the wine into the remaining empty glasses. He takes a sip and, trying hard to walk straight, approaches the stereo. He stops the Janis Joplin CD and puts on Edith Piaf. He returns to the table. The exquisite voice of the French singer fills the air, but not too loudly. Horror on the video wall. The aftermath of the fire. Screams. Confusion. Death. Dust. Ashes.


3.

VERA: Heavenly.
MIHAEL: They called her the Little Sparrow. She weighed 45 kilograms and yet she sang like seven thousand nightingales. Her coarse voice made the public experience… all sorts of things…
ALEKSANDRA (coquettishly): Mihael, shall we dance again?
MIHAEL (Takes a sip): My legs are insecure, and I myself am somehow insecure. Seven thousand nightingales can kill a weak man…yes, yes...
ALEKSANDRA: Oh, come on, Mihael, let's go. I feel so, so...
GASPAR: Horny.
VERA: You're so vulgar! Can't you see that the woman just wants to dance a little…? (She laughs a lascivious and conspiratorial laugh and throws a seed at him.)…and you’re so rude, it's incredible.
GASPAR (takes a sip of wine): Oh, I just like talking to people… My dear mother-in-law, I do know my own wife, you know... (Gaspar's tongue twists slightly.) We've been living together for three years… And besides, as you must surely know, I’m a psychiatrist by profession, so… so I do know a little about human nature...
MIHAEL: And to make the whole thing better, Gaspar works on a women's psychiatric ward... He may even introduce dance as a form of therapy…
GASPAR: Yes, yes… I have to mention this first thing Monday morning to my colleague Darko… ha-ha-ha…why not try it? My dear mother-in-law, if you have any problems, I most humbly recommend myself… ha-ha-ha...
ALEKSANDRA: Come on, Mihael. Listen to this compre... compre... comprehensive chanson… Mihael, I can feel the call of the dance so strongly... I feel so, so...
GASPAR (grinning): Horny.
VERA: You're being rude again. (She laughs and throws a whole olive at him.)
MIHAEL (Takes a sip): Being horny is quite a natural thing, my dear madam. You're a doctor, don't you know that biology has its own divine biological laws and...
ALEKSANDRA (interrupts him): Mihael, let's go, my friend. Let's show the people in this town how to dance. (Points at everybody and takes a sip.)
VERA (takes a sip, cheerfully): Show us some biology!
GASPAR (Takes a sip): Aleksandra, show us everything!
ALEKSANDRA: It's good to show… It’s good to provoke...
MIHAEL: It's good to seduce… Oh, yes, but it's hard to seduce a real player…
ALEKSANDRA: Like you, for example... (Takes a sip.)
GASPAR: I wasn't such easy game in the beginning either... But I admit, it's hard to resist. It's hard to avoid a white body that’s offering itself to you… ha-ha-ha...
ALEKSANDRA: It's hard to live in silence... Let's go, Mihael… Let's get out of the silence... The inertness of these human mammals is driving me mad... (Takes a sip.)
MIHAEL: Have a rest, darling… (looking at his watch.): We mustn't wake the birds… It's past one... They have to sleep some more… We mustn't disturb them… Birds can feel every movement in nature…
ALEKSANDRA: Well, that's exactly why… If we dance, they’ll have beautiful dreams... Let's dance… The birds won’t mind.
GASPAR: Birds rarely dream...Only before they head South...
VERA: Then they're nervous…Maybe they’re a bit cold.
MIHAEL: In their little heads they're dreaming of one big Sun… and the warm currents of the sea air...
ALEKSANDRA: You're stupid and backward… Birds, birds, birds. Birds always dream of flying... They dream of flying even as they fly... For example, like...
GASPAR: For example, like you…
VERA: Oh, come on, Gaspar, stop making fun of her all the time... Silly as she is, she really might ask for a divorce... All those things you said after we put Maria to sleep, I still can't get them out of my head... But, I agree, one should dream...
GASPAR: Well, let her ask... (Ostentatiously finishes his glass of wine.) I've had enough…
ALEKSANDRA: Let's dance, Mihael, come on... You bewitched me with your poetry and now you don’t want to do anything…
MIHAEL: And what if I’m tired? Don't I have a right to some rest? You have no idea how hard I've been working these past few days… I've been working on a poem that will change the world…
VERA: You must be joking… a poem that will change the world, ha-ha…
GASPAR: The thing is, he's actually serious… He's crazy, you know… ha, ha… Here's to Edith Piaf! (Raises his glass and looks at her): Oh, look, it's empty…
ALEKSANDRA (Not taking her eyes off Mihael): Mihael!
MIHAEL (cooing her): Easy, easy, girl… Easy, easy, my little girl... Be a good girl, my little blue-bell… We'll dance before dawn when the birds wake up and start flying…
VERA: How beautifully he talks... just like her dad... Ah, her father was a good man, God rest his soul…
MIHAEL (turns toward Vera): God rest his soul? I don't understand… your husband is at home…
VERA: That's my second husband, my dear Mihael… He's a good man, too, also an artist... But he has a week heart… So please, don't even think of calling us at 2:00 a.m. again, because I’ll strangle you… (Shows with her hands how she would do it.)
MIHAEL: Oh, don't worry, I won't... Please try and understand… That was in the heat of the moment, when a fantastic… a really fantastic idea occurred to me… that intellectuals never sleep… I wanted to tell Aleksandra… but I didn't dare call… because of Gaspar… I didn’t want him to kill her with a pillow or… or a telephone receiver... Well, then I called you as the first of kin of my dear and beautiful black bee that...
ALEKSANDRA (on pins and needles): Mihael, come on, let's dance. I can't stand it any more, in this vale... valley of tears...
GASPAR (Pouring some wine into a glass): This is a green valley...
MIHAEL: ...full of sparrows and clowns that cry because they cannot fly like the bird called albatross…
ALEKSANDRA (shouting): Mihael, I swear to God...
MIHAEL (Touching her hand and cooing her): There, there, my dear little dancer, my biblical love… my bee, my little black bee…  my girl, my little girl… my mouse, my sweet little mouse...
ALEKSANDRA (trying to break free of him): Let me go, you monster! I'm asking you for the last time, will you dance with me or not? Well?
GASPAR: She is violent, isn't she? Really, when she drinks she really isn't normal…
VERA: Well, who could be normal when they're listening to Edith Piaf? Do you think I'm normal now? Well, I'm not… My whole life has come before my eyes... in filmic speed… Look, there are no more olives…
ALEKSANDRA (looking at Mihael): Well?
MIHAEL (lazily and tipsy): I've already told you… at dawn… We mustn’t wake the birds now... God would surely punish us…
ALEKSANDRA (with disbelief): Since when do you believe in God, you bandit? (Gets up furiously). All right! (Turns to Gaspar.) What about you, will you dance?
GASPAR (resigned): Me... After everything you've done to me!? Ah... Besides, you know I'm not really one for dancing... especially now... I can hardly stand on my feet... (Takes a sip.)... Now I'm drinking to forget her... my Alice, my Aleksandra...
ALEKSANDRA (wildly): Well, then I'll dance alone, you idiots! (She takes a bottle of wine and drinks from it in long swallows. Then she bangs it down on the table.) I'll show you dancing… (She hurries to the kitchen and comes back with the knife that she used to cut the prosciutto. Then she goes to the edge of the proscenium and waves it about.) I'll show you dancing... you ordinary male pigs... and yet I won't dance alone, I'll dance with a knife, you faggots... I'd like nothing more than to kill you but I don't feel like going to prison because of scum like you. I'll show you dance, you spiritless idiots…
MIHAEL (Cheerfully): Take off your shoes, black bee… dance barefoot like Isadora Duncan... sweep us off our feet, baby...
ALEKSANDRA: And I will, you imposter, you can be sure of it. Now you'll see how an unhappy woman dances. (She takes off the black high-heel shoes.) A woman with a boring husband... a woman that falls in love with a crazy experienced man, a poet, the whore of whores... and he doesn't want to return her love...
MIHAEL (Interjects): He can't, my little sparrow... he can't... because he loves all women... he takes part in the general dance... he's like the Red Cross for suffering women all over Europe and the world. He’s a neurotic therapist.
GASPAR: I may give you a job on my Women's Psychiatric Ward, ha-ha...
MIHAEL: That would be an interesting experience... ha-ha...
ALEKSANDRA (getting into a dancing position with the knife in her left hand): Bastards, you male bastards... selfish pigs... I'll devote myself to my little girl and to poetry, poetry and my little girl...
VERA (cheering her on): Yes Aleksandra, yes... And I'll help you take care of my granddaughter (pointing at Gaspar and Mihael.)…and these guys, these mopers, they can just rot to death, aha!
ALEKSANDRA (in a raised voice): Oh, leave those criminals be... I'll dance for my own pleasure… even if I'm sad like our beautiful Edith Piaf (She yells and waves her knife about in a dancing position.) The stars never knew mercy… He's the first man to reject me… Oh, God, times are hard, there's no love... But life goes on… When love dies it's like a little death... And now, people - Salome, just for you… (Staggers a little, but quickly takes her position.)... Only for myself...


4.

Aleksandra begins her dance, the knife in her hand, her back to the audience. Later, she will spin in swaying movements, approaching the table and then moving away. She dances barefoot in her elegant, classy black silk stockings. Her dance is very erotic. In the beginning, her movements are soft, the wild in them hidden, but later they become more expressive, very intense. Vera watches her with pride and joy, sipping her drink, while the men stare at her beautiful dancing body. The songs of Edith Piaf provide the opportunity for various changes in pace, as well as for various figures. She dances for around five minutes. The occasional exclamation, comment, pause, sigh etc. Gaspar opens the second bottle of wine and pours some into the empty or half-empty glasses, mixing the drinks. Horror on the video wall, all sorts of fragments of the Apocalypse.

VERA (excited): Turn it up a bit, Gaspar, please! So we can hear better...
GASPAR (gets up unwillingly): It's a good idea... but my legs are weak... I can't... that whiskey... (Looks on the table for the CD-player remote control)… Where is that damned remote control? Not here... I have to go over there... (Goes to the stereo and turns up the sound.) Ah, Edith Piaf... she really is good... (He returns to the table, not taking his eyes off Aleksandra who is dancing, waving about her knife. The choreography of the dangerous dance.)
VERA: This is beautiful... That's my...daughter, you know... When she was in school I took her to rhythm gymnastics and dance classes.
MIHAEL (not taking his eyes off Aleksandra): Well, you know, every investment... (Clapping.) …Bravo, Aleksandrina mia bella!
GASPAR: (Takes a sip): Beautiful… and the swaying... the swaying...
MIHAEL: (Takes a sip): ...of the hips, my dear Gaspar, the hips...
VERA: Oh, look at that! Really...
MIHAEL: Bravo! A little to the left...

At a certain point Aleksandra takes off her stockings and dances barefoot. The white skin of her beautiful legs and the black georgette evening dress. White shoulders, and on them only thin bands: black shoulder straps. The dance becomes even more erotic.

MIHAEL (proudly): Oh, this black dress of mine does suit her... ah...
GASPAR (proudly): Well, the one I gave her last year isn’t too bad either... Black, oh how we love black...
MIHAEL: On white... they go well together...
VERA: Be quiet, young men, and watch my only child…
GASPAR (Takes a sip): Dear God, look at that! I can't... I can't recognize her...
MIHAEL (Takes a sip): My dear colleague, even the stars are getting an erection now...
GASPAR: You're absolutely right… It's madness…
MIHAEL: Poetry...

At that moment, in an exciting erotic stylization, Aleksandra drops one shoulder strap. A whole shoulder flashes and then also her left breast. Her dance is wild, she's waving her knife about. Her face has a wild expression. Her entire body displays a very intensive inner expression. Her dance becomes increasingly furious. She looks like a frenzied Amazon.

GASPAR: Dear god, I'll end up on a psychiatric ward...
MIHAEL: Well, you're already in one…
GASPAR (cries): Aaaahhhhhh… Look at that, will you look at that... Oh...
MIHAEL (takes a deep breath): Pure poetry... a dance clinic…
VERA (Takes a sip): Stop it, gentlemen! Please, you're disturbing my only darling. My diligent little girl…
GASPAR (in a professional tone): Oh, how many patients in the world would be cured if only they could see this…?
MIHAEL: You're right...it's like medicine to the eyes, the spirit, the soul and the entire internal business of the body…

Aleksandra is no longer following Edith Piaf's song. She's lost in her own ecstasy. The dance is increasingly turning into stylized running all over the “oasis” scene. Aleksandra spins, waving her knife, runs, stops for a moment, then runs again. As she runs over the scene she shouts in a strong voice several times: ''I am the new Salome, I am the urban Salome''. Then she suddenly stops next to the table and puts her arms around her mother, defiantly looking at Gaspar and Mihael. She looks more sober than earlier. She picks up a bottle and takes a few long swallows.

ALEKSANDRA: Mum, I will devote myself only to my little girl, to poetry and dancing. (Defiantly to Gaspar and Mihael.) I will never again put your cock into my cunt, gentlemen. (Mihael protests with a gesture saying that he has nothing to do with it, anyway.) I will never give birth again. My sweet Maria is enough for me. I will never again look at the deformed face of a dirty child that has just been born totally fucked up from the shock of coming out. I will never again look at those idiotic tiny disgusting red faces of children coming out of my cunt, who even after a hundred years call me ''mama'' and rarely or never Aleksandra. The only thing coming out of my cunt from now on will be sighs, I swear it. The only thing coming out of my cunt will be quality sighs. (Raises her arms high, the knife in one hand, and the bottle in the other. She turns over the bottle and pours wine over herself. Then her hand disappears under her dress and she masturbates with the glass bottle neck, while at the same time waving the knife above her head, a smile on her face. With an ecstatic expression she turns toward Vera again.) Mum, I swear on Maria's life, the only thing coming out of my cunt will be quality sighs. (She masturbates with the bottle and waves the knife.) Mother, really, I'll dedicate myself only to myself, my little girl, to poetry and dance. To dance that no-one will be able to see. Enough dancing before idiots. A woman can't be free if she lives with a man for too long. Because... because… (She raises her voice in ecstasy, reciting in a strong voice, and continues her masturbation while at the same time waving the knife.)

Because I am the urban Salome.
I wish I was African wool
I'll dance alone again
In a black see-through night-gown
All the veils have fallen
From my eyes long ago.
Dear God, it's because I had to (She looks the men up and down with contempt.)
dance with ants.
Yes, I will put silver on my eyelids again.
I will dance alone again.

Aleksandra wakes from her ecstasy, it seems as if she has sobered up suddenly. She stops her masturbating, puts the bottle down on the table, but keeps the knife. She looks at the bottleneck in disbelief, puts her hand under her dress and touches herself between her legs.

ALEKSANDRA (to Vera, appalled): I can't believe it, mother. These idiots have made my period come early. Lunatics, idiots... (Shouting at Mihael and Gaspar.)… You've excited me, you idiots. Oh, this will never happen again for as long as I live. I'm done with idiots.

Aleksandra then goes to the stereo and stops Edith Piaf’s song. Everyone looks at her in silence. The video wall is still showing silent horror. Aleksandra fixes her shoulder strap, puts her knife between her teeth, puts on her stockings and shoes. She takes the knife in her hand and stands upright resolutely.

ALEKSANDRA: Mother, let's go home, let's go to my parent's home. This space is dead for me. (She approaches the table and points the knife at Gaspar.). Marrying this... this man... was one big mistake. (Then she points the knife at Mihael.) And spending time with this one was a painful education for a fool in love like me.
VERA: But darling, let's at least wait until dawn.
ALEKSANDRA (Gesturing with the knife towards the men): No, not a moment longer. These idiots make me sick. I'm disappointed to my very foundation. I want to finally live freely. Let's go right away. The car is downstairs. There's hardly any traffic and the road is clear.
VERA: Listen, I'm a little drunk… I don't dare drive and...
ALEKSANDRA (practically): Pour some cold water over yourself and do a couple of knee-bends. In the meantime, I'll wake Maria, and that's that. If you can't, I'll drive. We're leaving this... this… I've wasted three years for nothing. (To Gaspar.) The lawyers will take care of everything...
GASPAR: But the child is...
ALEKSANDRA: Forget it! I don't want to discuss anything with selfish breeding little men like you. As I said, the lawyers will take care of everything. I'll file for a divorce after the New Year. (With contempt.) And as for that reservation for New Year's Eve in that fucking exclusive hotel, share it, if you like, with this interesting gentleman. Enjoy New Year's Eve, gentlemen... idiots... fuck it... I'm so stupid... Idiots, I could cut you up like that prosciutto... (To her mother.). Let's go! If I stay any longer I'll do something terrible and uncontrolled. (In a wild movement she stabs the knife into the table, throwing back her hair.)
GASPAR (takes a sip, spitefully): And end up in my clinic on a beautiful night like this.
MIHAEL: It's a beautiful night. This is a beautiful night.
ALEKSANDRA (to Gaspar): Oh, just go and treat your pathetic women. Don't worry about me. Aleksandra is something else. Aleksandra has always been something else. You two couldn't understand that, you never will. Remember, Aleksandra is something else, Aleksandra is freedom. Let's go, mother! Aleksandra is freedom.

Vera gets up and starts walking insecurely. Aleksandra helps her. They leave. Gaspar and Mihael remain sitting at the table in the ''oasis'' scene full of nocturnal mess. The two of them also seem to have sobered up a little. They're silent for a few moments. Gaspar, dejected, pours the remaining wine into two glasses. The video wall is full of horror.


5.

MIHAEL (raising his glass and drinking): Cheer up, lad!
GASPAR (drinking): It's not that simple. You saw what she did to us... like a fury. Cool and calculated...
MIHAEL: Don't worry, it all heals quickly. You're still young, so you're too sensitive. If you only knew the things that I've seen and experienced! Ah... (Pause). So, you say that 20 percent of the world population suffers from depression.
GASPAR: Yes, but what's that got to do with...
MIHAEL (interrupts him): Oh, it has, it has. In order to prevent it from happening to us, even a hint of it or a symptom, I have a good idea.
GASPAR: ?
MIHAEL: You saw how beautifully Aleksandra danced. If she is freedom, are we not freedom, too? Well, I suggest the two of us go wild a bit and dance. So that we too can be free, so that we can be freedom.
GASPAR: You’re joking.
MIHAEL: Not at all. I've noticed that you have a lot of different music, hundreds of CD-s. Have you perhaps got any film music, a soundtrack or something?
GASPAR: I have quite a few, around fifty or so.
MIHAEL: And have you by any chance seen the film Zorba the Greek?
GASPAR: I have. I even have the music from that film, but... (Suddenly he realizes.) You don't mean that we...
MIHAEL (smiling): Exactly. You remember that scene in which Anthony Quinn is dancing? Of course you remember. (pours some whiskey into their glasses.) Cheers!
GASPAR (smiles, his mood much better now): Cheers! (They drink.) I'll be damned, but this is a very good idea. Good old Zorba, a man filled with a longing for freedom. Actually, freedom itself.
MIHAEL: You should have thought of it. Well, you’re the psychiatrist.
GASPAR: Yes, you're right. Really...
MIHAEL (getting up, briskly): Well, let's go, then!
GASPAR: Let's go!
MIHAEL: We too are free.
GASPAR: We too are freedom.

As Mihael moves the table, bottles and chairs to the side, Gaspar goes to the cabinet shelf and looks for the CD. He finds it and puts it in the CD player. We hear the recognizable music from the film Zorba the Greek. The video wall is showing ruins and horror. Gaspar studies the bar on the cabinet, picks out two bottles and, waving them cheerfully, goes toward Mihael.

GASPAR: To hell with the hotel and the reservations! Who can wait another three and a half months? For us, the New Year is today. Do you agree, Mihael?
MIHAEL (also cheerfully): Absolutely. We'll live at least a thousand years.
GASPAR (handing one bottle over to Mihael): Here, that's champagne of some sort. It's not Dom Pérignon, but who cares.
MIHAEL (looking at him, smiling): Aleksandra is freedom.
GASPAR (looking at him, smiling): Aleksandra is freedom.

Slowly, but cheerfully, they open the bottles. The sound of corks popping. Horror on the video wall. The champagne foam flows down the bottle and falls onto the carpet. They toast each other and drink. The drink flows down their chins. Mihael takes off his tie and swings it behind himself. Gaspar goes to the stereo and turns up the volume, then he returns to Mihael. The two disheveled men, their shirts open, raise their bottles and, toasting to each other, clunk them one against the other and drink. Then they slowly place the bottles on the floor, one next to the other, and start dancing to the very loud music. In tune to the familiar melody, at first they dance slowly, then faster and more furiously. The video wall quivers with horror. The ''ghosts'' at Ground Zero also start dancing. The Firefighters and their women, the Nurse, the President and the First Lady. The ‘’ghosts’’ of Aleksandra and Vera also appear. As he dances, the President takes the small bottle of his own blood out of his pocket and offers it to all those present. They all playfully drink the blood without stopping their dance. The President drinks the last sip and elatedly throws the bottle at the ruins. The dance lasts around 5 minutes, or more if the director or the directress so decides. It actually makes no difference because the ‘’ghosts’’ among the ruins, just like Mihael and Gaspar, would want to dance forever. Everybody is dancing. The distinction between Ground Zero and the “little domestic oasis”, Aleksandra, is no longer so sharp. The general dance unites them. Gaspar and Mihael are at the center of the dance flurry. During the dance, the madness of the two men's freedom keeps growing. Their faces are slightly tense but their movements are dignified and harmonious. They are saying that while it lasts life cannot end. It is paradoxical but true. Suddenly, at once, everything comes to an end: the music, the lights, the dance, the movement, the scene, everything. The only thing alight in the darkness is the video wall. It is showing, without sound and in slow motion, the familiar scene in which a couple throw themselves from one of the towers of the World Trade Center in New York. Then the video wall shuts down, too. Complete darkness, death. But death is only a short break until a new dance. It's a small Ground Zero, a small Ending as a sign of an approaching new Beginning. Death is democratic writing glue on the path to a new drama. To a new freedom. To a new life. To a new play. To a new dance. Dance is a terrible freedom. Dance is fire.


The End



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