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Mr. Alojz Horvat is retired and his day begins and ends with a phone call. Mr. Horvat spends his days talking to answering machines, trying to find out what is the balance on the bank account he uses to receive his pension.  His battle with answering machines will lead him to reach various Ministries, agencies, police, the State Attorney’s office, emergency, National lottery, church and finally the other world.


PRODUCTION YEAR: 2015

TRANSLATED BY: VIŠNJA MIHALIĆ

NUMBER OF FEMALE CHARACTERS 3

NUMBER OF MALE CHARACTERS: 4

NUMBER OF CHARACTERS OF UNDEFINED GENDER: 6

COPYRIGHT: All rights reserved



CAST

ALOJZIJE HORVAT, pensioner, barely alive;

FIRST GHOST – male with announcer voice;

SECOND GHOST – female with announcer voice;

THIRD GHOST – male with plain voice;

FOURTH GHOST – female with plain voice;

FIFTH GHOST – female with deep voice;

SIXTH GHOST – male with deep, deep, voice.



(The play takes place in the dark flat of Mr Alojzije Horvat, and it proceeds – mostly around him. Puppets can also be involved in the performance.)


ALOJZIJE HORVAT’S FLAT.

(Telephone is ringing.)

ALOJZIJE HORVAT: Hello!?

Music.

ALOJZIJE HORVAT: Hello!?

Telephone is ringing,

End of musical phrase and switching on –

AUTOMATED ANSWERING SERVICE OF THE TELE-YUNADI TELE-OPERATOR.

FIRST GHOST: Good afternoon! Dear caller, please listen to our recorded message till the end. (Musical signal.) We would like to inform you that the credit union “Banco Univeršo[1]” has suspended all payments through contracted standing orders from the current accounts of their clients so to this date we have not received your payment for telecommunication services for the month of:

SECOND GHOST: February.

FIRST GHOST: In the amount of:

THIRD GHOST: Three hundred.

FOURTH GHOST: Twenty.

FIFTH GHOST: Nine.

SIXTH GHOST: Euro.

FIRST GHOST: Please pay the outstanding amount immediately in person to the direct transfer account of the company Tele-Yunadi to avoid additional costs caused by forced collection. But, if you have already paid the outstanding debt or …

(Horvat slams the receiver.)

ALOJZIJE HORVAT: God forbid! And I have still not received my pension…


AUTOMATED ANSWERING SERVICE OF THE BANCO UNIVERŠO.

THIRD GHOST: Good afternoon! You have reached:

SECOND VOICE (Merrily): Banco Univeršo!

FOURTH GHOST: If you are our old client, press one. If you are stupid, press two. If you wish to become our stupid client, press three. (Horvat presses.) Good afternoon. You have reached Banco Univeršo, Sector for our old clients. If you need the Department for personal banking, press one. If you need… (He presses again.)

THIRD GHOST: Good afternoon. You have reached Banco Univeršo, Department for personal banking. If you need your current account statement, press one. If you need a loan… (He presses.)

FOURTH GHOST: Good afternoon. You have reached Banco Univeršo, current account statement. Please enter you PIN after the tone. (Slow entering of PIN.)

SECOND GHOST: Unfortunately, your current account is on:

(Underlying music, sad, of course.)

THIRD GHOST: Thirtieth.

FOURTH GHOST: March.

FIFTH GHOST: Two thousand and fourteen.

SIXTH GHOST: Frozen.

SECOND GHOST: For further information please call the management of the Banco Univeršo, at 01 253 789.

(Horvat slams the receiver.)

ALOJZIJE HORVAT (very upset and out of breath): What!? What are you talking about?

(Hurried dialling.)

AUTOMATED ANSWERING SERVICE OF THE BANCO UNIVERŠO MANAGEMENT.

THIRD GHOST: Good afternoon. You have reached Banco Univeršo, Management office.

EVERYBODY (promotional jingle):

Banco Univeršo is your salvation!

Banco Univeršo, Banco Univeršo.

Banco Univeršo cares about you!

Banco Univeršo, Banco Univeršo.

SIXTH GHOST: This conversation is being recorded.

(Recording sound.)

FIFTH GHOST: Please enter your personal identification number after the tone.

(Sound of a small bell, and then entering a number – slowly, thoroughly.)

Good afternoon Mr.

THIRD GHOST: Alojzije.

FOURTH GHOST: Horvat.

FIFTH GHOST: Status:

SIXTH GHOST: Pensioner.

SECOND GHOST: The management of the Banco Univeršo has for you one

THIRD GHOST: Happy.

FOURTH GHOST: And one

FIFTH GHOST: Sad.

SIXTH GHOST: Announcement.

SECOND GHOST: If you want the happy announcement, press one. If you want the sad announcement press two.

(Horvat presses.)

THIRD GHOST: Good afternoon. You have reached Banco Univeršo,

FIRST VOICE (merrily): Happy announcements for our clients!

EVERYBODY (promotional jingle):

Banco Univeršo, Banco Univeršo.

Underlying music.

FIRST GHOST: Dear Mr:

THIRD GHOST: Alojzije.

FOURTH GHOST: Horvat.

FIFTH GHOST: Banco.

SECOND GHOST: Univeršo.

SIXTH GHOST: El-tee-dee.

THIRD GHOST: Marshal Islands.

FIRST GHOST: Has lowered the fee for all payments through contracted standing orders of personal accounts of citizens for:

FOURTH GHOST: Zero. Zero. Zero. Point. Zero. Six.

THIRD GHOST: Percentage points.

FIRST GHOST: Because – we are your salvation! Banco Univeršo thinks for you!

SECOND GHOST: If you now want to listen also to:

THIRD GHOST: Sad.

FOURTH GHOST: Announcement.

SECOND GHOST: Press two or just wait till our operator answers.

(Music. Melancholic.)

SECOND GHOST: According to the decision of the Ministry of Finance dated:

THIRD GHOST: Twenty ninth.

FOURTH GHOST: March.

FIRST GHOST: The company.

FIFTH VOICE (tearfully): Banco.

SECOND VOICE (tearfully): Univeršo.

SIXTH VOICE (tearfully): El-tee-dee.

THIRD GHOST: Marshal Islands .

SECOND VOICE (whimperingly): Was removed from the register of financial institutions and all future operations were prohibited.

ALOJZIJE HORVAT (shocked, out of breath): I beg your pardon!? And my money? What about my money!? What about my money!?

FIRST GHOST: But do not worry, because:

EVERYBODY (promotional jingle): Banco Univeršo is your salvation! Banco Univeršo cares for you! Banco Univeršo, Banco Univeršo!

SECOND GHOST: For any future information you can have your photograph taken[2] at the authorised photographer Toni or call the Liquidation office in the Ministry of Finance at 01 819 356.

(Slamming the receiver.)

ALOJZIJE HORVAT (desperately): Jesus, Jesus … That’s why I did not get my pension!

Pressing phone keys, fast.

THIRD GHOST: Good afternoon. You have reached the Ministry of Finance, Liquidation office.

(Music.)

FOURTH GHOST: If you want to liquidate a company, press one. If you want to liquidate an institution, press two. If you want to liquidate a person, press three or just wait till our operator answers.

(Horvat presses a number. Underlying music)

SIXTH GHOST: Good afternoon. You have reached the Office for liquidation of persons.

FOURTH GHOST: If you want to liquidate a legal person, press one. If you want to liquidate a public person, press two. If you want to liquidate the minister, hold the line or just wait till our operator answers.

SIXTH GHOST: This conversation is being recorded.

(Recording sound.)

THIRD GHOST: Unfortunately, all the liquidation operators are currently out in the field.

FIFTH GHOST: If we have not answered your questions successfully, you can have your photograph taken at Toni’s or call the Citizens’ complaints and petitions service at 01 673 526.

ALOJZIJE HORVAT (losing control): Where is my money!? God forbid! And how shall I survive, they don’t care at all… Shall I eat White Snowman’s steaks, and poop snow flakes, until this is resolved!?

(Nervous dialling.)


THIRD GHOST: Good afternoon. You have reached the Ministry of Finance, Citizens’ complaints and petitions service.

ALOJZIJE HORVAT: Oh, my God, what is this world we are living in!?

FIFTH GHOST: If you have a complaint, press one. It you have a petition press two.

ALOJZIJE HORVAT (pressing a key): I am pressing! I am pressing!!!

FIFTH GHOST: If you do not have a complaint or a petition, but a praise…

ALOJZIJE HORVAT: I am pressing, you stupid woman!!!

(Pressing a key.)

FIFTH GHOST: … please press three, the minister’s spokes-woman will answer immediately, and they would like to take you to lunch and have photographs taken at Toni’s for the newspaper.

ALOJZIJE HORVAT: I have a complaint and a petition! (Pressing a key.) I am pressing number one, do you hear me!? (He presses again.)

SECOND GHOST: Good afternoon. You have reached the Ministry of Finance, Citizens’ complaints service.

ALOJZIJE HORVAT (a bit calmer): Thank God…

Music.

SIXTH VOICE (eerily): This conversation is being recorded.

Musical accent.

THIRD GHOST: If you have a complaint about the manner of communication with the citizens or the public, press three. If you want to report bribe-taking, think again and then press three again. If you have a complaint about the way the minister works, press three again or just hold the line till our operator answers.

ALOJZIJE HORVAT: O-ho! Now you will hear me, I shall press all the numbers!

(He presses.)

SIXTH GHOST: Unfortunately, the minister and his deputies on number 3 are unavailable at the moment. Leave your communication data after the tone. Your address will be forwarded immediately to the chief operator for field liquidation…

(Musical motive.)

ALOJZIJE HORVAT: I beg your pardon!?

SECOND GHOST: Unfortunately…

THIRD GHOST: … you have not…

FOURTH GHOST: … left…

FIFTH GHOST: …personal…

FIRST GHOST: … data.

(Underlying music, slightly threatening.)

SIXTH VOICE (slightly threateningly): And why?

ALOJZIJE HORVAT: I beg your pardon? Jesus!

THIRD GHOST: If we have not answered your questions successfully, go ahead and have your photograph taken at Toni’s or contact the Information service at the Ministry of Finance at 01 392 671.

(He slams the receiver.)

ALOJZIJE HORVAT: No way!
(He dials.)

FIRST GHOST: Good afternoon. You have reached the Information service at the Ministry of Finance. Due to increased interest of citizens caused by liquidation of the financial union Banco Univeršo, please call the Agency for Deposit Insurance at the free of charge number 0292872. If you want…

(He slams the receiver.)

ALOJZIJE HORVAT: Aha, aha! Finally! This is it!

(He dials a number.)


AGENCY FOR DEPOSIT INSURANCE

FIFTH GHOST: Good afternoon. You have reached the Agency for Deposit Insurance. On.

THIRD GHOST: Zero one.

FOURTH GHOST: Zero April.

FIFTH GHOST: Two zero fourteenth.

SECOND GHOST: Year, we have transmitted the following information to all depositors of the credit union Banco Univeršo through daily newspapers:

FOURTH GHOST: Due to the fact that the savings deposits of its depositors were not insured the credit union Banco Univeršo was removed from the list of financial institutions and all its future operation was forbidden.

FIFTH GHOST: If you have a savings deposit at Banco Univeršo, press one. It you are receiving your salary via current account open in Banco Univeršo, press two. If you are receiving your pension via current account at Banco Univeršo, press three.

ALOJZIJE HORVAT: Yes! Yes!

(He is pressing.)

SIXTH GHOST: Good afternoon. You have reached the Agency for Deposit Insurance. Unfortunately, monthly personal incomes, as salaries, pensions and allowances are not subject to the Law on the Obligatory Insurance of Citizens’s Savings Deposits.

ALOJZIJE HORVAT: Whaaaat!?

FOURTH GHOST: However, within fifteen days, you can definitely lodge a complaint to the State Attorney’s Office. Complaints are settled as quickly as possible, that is five years after each individual complaint has been received at the latest. You must attach to the complaint:

(Underlying music, merry.)

FIRST GHOST: Birth certificate, no more than six months old and a personal photograph the size of a small death certificate, obligatory taken at Toni’s.

SECOND GHOST: Three hairs in a transparent deep freeze bag.

THIRD GHOST: Left foot print!

FOURTH GHOST: Dental record with X-ray of the entire mouth cavity.

FIFTH GHOST: Full genome made in the licensed institution of the Pension Insurance Institute.

ALOJZIJE HORVAT: Villains! BANDITS!

SIXTH GHOST: And finally, a blank, signed Exhumation consent. In parentheses, make sure to give the address of the funerary institution, future grave plot and the number of your own policy on which you are lying.

Special remark: personal photograph the size of a small death certificate must be made without fail at our authorised photographer Toni, and we can put you through immediately because studio “Toni” is in the doorway of our institution…

(Musical motive from the receiver and it continues …)

ALOJZIJE HORVAT: Band of brigands! Cheating bustards!


PHOTO STUDIO “TONI”

THIRD VOICE (merrily): Good afternoon! You can have your photograph taken at Toni’s!

ALOJZIJE HORVAT: Now what!?

THIRD GHOST: If you want to have your photograph taken for a passport, press one. If you want to have your photograph taken for an identity card, press two. If you want to have your photograph taken for a death certificate, press three. For further information just wait till our operator answers.

ALOJZIJE HORVAT: Oh my God, my blood pressure’s gone up… My pulse is like a million beats…

(Music from the receiver – popular operetta.)

FIFTH GHOST: Good afternoon. You have reached the photo studio:

THIRD GHOST: You can have your photograph taken at Toni’s!

FOURTH GHOST: Unfortunately, due to VAT increase to 25%, my husband, the photographer Toni on:

(Pause.)

FIRST GHOST: First.

SECOND GHOST: April.

FIFTH GHOST: 2014.

FOURTH GHOST: Committed suicide by hanging. During the mourning days, all the activities of the photo studio have been discontinued.

FIFTH GHOST: But of course, you can still have your photograph taken, only not at Tonći’s any more.

SIXTH GHOST: But at his wife Verica.

FOURTH GHOST: No, no! Excuse me! This was recorded by mistake! You cannot have your photograph taken here at the moment! Definitely not! Where does the recording stop? A-ha. (Punching the recorder.) Here is the erasing button. Hair stylist. This is the future. Ha-ir sty-list’s shop!

(Music, still an operetta.)

FIFTH GHOST: For all further information wait till our operator answers.

(Accidental recording of the photographer Toni, his wife and Toni’s end. Toni, half-drunk.)

TONI: Hello? Is this being recorded? Hello? Well, it must be recorded since the red light is on… So, folks, here it goes: Hello! Toni is gone! First and foremost, you can get stuffed one and all! From the stupid credit union Banco Univeršo, through the Agency to the Police!!! Second: once I move this chair below my feet, my wife will probably say to everyone that I have hung myself because of VAT, money or loss of savings. Well, this is not true! No! But it does not matter! It does not matter… What matters is that now (whimperingly) my Mica will no more…

VERICA: Toni!? What are you doing on that chair and with the rope around your neck!? Have you gone mad!? And who is that Mica!?

TONI: Mica is the only love of this sad life of mine.

VERICA: And what about me!? What am I to you!?

TONI: What are you? A wife. Only the legitimate wife.

VERICA: Legitimate wife!? I am only a wife!? And when you hang yourself, I should pay off your debts!? Is that legal!? Me!? Jerk! Take this, then!

TONI: No, no, no Verica! I have changed… (Wheezing.)

VERICA: Where can this be switched off? (Punch.) No, no. You cannot have your photograph taken here at the moment!


(Horvat slams the receiver.)

ALOJZIJE HORVAT (with a trembling voice, very upset): Well, I’ll show you all, now you will see with whom you are playing… Where is that number, aha…

(Dialling a number.)

STATE ATTORNEY’S OFFICE

SECOND GHOST: Good afternoon, you have reached the State Attorney’s Office.

ALOJZIJE HORVAT: Finally! God, my heart almost stopped, my blood pressure is three hundred… Now we shall see where my money is and who stole it. Wait, wait I’ll turn you all in! Oho! Now you are going to see who you are playing with!

FIRST GHOST: If you want to report criminal offences against property, press one. (He presses.) If you want to report criminal offences against economy, press two. (He presses.) If you want to report criminal offences against official duty, press three. (He presses.)

SECOND VOICE (through tears): Unfortunately, all operators for criminal offences against property are currently busy. If you want to wait, press asterisk or call a little later. (He presses.) Please hold the line, the first free operator will answer promptly.

(Music.)

SIXTH GHOST: Currently you are six thousand seven hundred eighty eight on the waiting list. The estimated waiting time till the fist free operator for criminal offences against property responds is seven months, fifteen days, nine hours and thirty six minutes.

ALOJZIJE HORVAT (through excited coughing, choking): Jesus!?

SIXTH GHOST: The price of one call is six euro’s per minute. To return to previous menu press hash or call a little later…

(He presses. Soothing music.)

FIRST GHOST: Unfortunately, all operators for criminal offences against economy are currently also busy. If you want to hold the line, press hash or call a little later…

ALOJZIJE HORVAT: Stuck the hash! I am pressing, I am pressing!!! (He presses.)

SIXTH GHOST: Currently you are two million seven hundred thousand six hundred and sixty fifth on the waiting list. The estimated waiting time till the first free operator for criminal offences against economy responds is four years, three months…

(The receiver is slammed.)

ALOJZIJE HORVAT: Robbers! Thieves! Band of brigands!

(Coughing. The phone is ringing.)

SECOND GHOST: Dear caller, in accordance with the zero tolerance policy towards crime and corruption you can report all criminal offences completely anonymously at this public service of the State Attorney’s Office. If you want to make such – an anonymous complaint – here, please press asterisk.

(He presses.)

ALOJZIJE HORVAT: Well, let’s see this wonder…

SIXTH GHOST: To continue, enter your name and surname.

ALOJZIJE HORVAT: I knew it! (He quickly inserts obviously wrong numbers.) I’ll show you an anonymous complaint… I’ll show you now!

FIFTH GHOST: Error. The name and surname do not exist.

SIXTH GHOST: Enter national identification number. (He enters.)

FIFTH GHOST: Error. The national identification number does not exist.

SIXTH GHOST: Enter unique citizen identification number. (He enters.)

FIFTH GHOST: Error. Unique citizen identification number does not exist.

(Music in the background.)

SECOND GHOST: If you do not want to make a complaint in this completely safe and anonymous way at the State Attorney’s Office you can call the Police Department directly on a special number for the fight against organised crime. (Music.) 01 481 285. (Slamming the receiver.)

ALOJZIJE HORVAT: Police!? Police!? But of course!!! Why did not I think of that!?

(He is dialling in a hurry.)


POLICE DEPARTMENT


FIRST GHOST: Good afternoon, you have reached the special service of the Police Department for the fight against organised crime. If you have observed suspicious activities in your surroundings, and these seem to be organised, press one. If you want to report the observed suspicious activities in your surroundings that seem to be organised, but are not organised after all, press two. If anything or anybody is suspicious to you, whether they seem to be organised or not, press three – you will reach the personnel section of the Police Department. We would like to offer you a full time job.

(He presses.)

SECOND GHOST: Since you have noticed suspicious activities in your surroundings that seem to be organised, please answer the following questions using the key “hash” for affirmative and key “asterisk” for negative answer.

FIRST GHOST: Question one. Do the suspicious persons observed wear gangster hats?

(He presses.)

SECOND GHOST: The answer is negative.

FIRST GHOST: If they do not wear gangster hats, perhaps this in not the case of organised crime. Thus please answer the following question: do the suspicious persons you have observed in your immediate surroundings wear Hugo Boss, Armani or Dolce & Gabanna black suits?

(He presses.)

SECOND GHOST: The answer is affirmative.

FIRST GHOST: They do!? If they follow the fashion, they are organised! Please answer the following question immediately: do the suspicious persons wear fire-arms in their elegant Hugo Boss suits?

(He presses.)

SECOND GHOST: The answer is negative.

FIRST GHOST: They don’t!? Neither long nor short!? And have you noticed, among those suspicious persons, a model who gives orders to the others, who is obeyed unquestioningly, or is perhaps protected, or perhaps even driven in a bullet-proof vehicle of the highest automobile class?

(He presses.)

SECOND GHOST: The answer is affirmative.

FIRST GHOST: You have!? Can you give us registration of this vehicle straight away!?

(He presses.)

SECOND GHOST: The answer is affirmative.

FIRST GHOST: YOU CAN!? Type in the number of the bullet-proof vehicle of the high class in which a handsome gangster chief of the entire organised crime in our midst is being driven and then press hash.

(He types in and presses.)

FIFTH GHOST: Processing… Processing… Error. Error… ABORT! Delete the record! Abort. Delete the record immediately! (Very upset.) ERROR IN THE SYSTEM!

SIXTH GHOST: Dear caller, you have typed in the number of the bullet-proof vehicle in which … is driven …

VOICE of an excited policeman in the receiver: Jozo, delete this, delete!

VOICE of Jozo, near by, calm: What the …, I don’t care. I am, like, a war veteran.

VOICE of an excited policeman approaching the telephone: It’s easy for you!? What shall I do!?


(Horvat slams the receiver.)

ALOJZIJE HORVAT (heavy breathing, coughing): Jesus, I feel sick… I shall go mad… I shall go mad…  Mad … or faint…

Music.

FIFTH VOICE (in echo): Error. Error. Leave your data. System error. We shall contact you later. System error. Error.

SIXTH VOICE (in echo): Leave your address, name and surname. We shall contact you soon.

ALOJZIJE HORVAT (breathing heavily, powerless): Oh God, what is the number of the emergency service… Wait, they wrote it down for me somewhere. (Rustling of paper.) Aha, here it is.

(Dialling a number.)


EMERGENCY SERVICE


FIRST VOICE (yawning): Good afternoon, you have reached 112, unique European number of emergency service.

SECOND VOICE (hurriedly): If you need urgent help of the fire-fighters, press one. If you need urgent help of the police, press two. If you need urgent help of the mountain rescue service, press three. If you need urgent medical help, just hold the line and our first free operator will contact you.

(Music.)

THIRD VOICE (suddenly a special sound signal of the advertisement for Toto[3]): Play Pingo! Pingo 15 from 90! Take part in the drawing each Monday and win the greatest prize!

FIFTH GHOST: Important announcement! Due to continuous and false calls, the arrival of emergency medical service is charged additionally, by kilometre and by number of the building stairs.

FOURTH VOICE (sound signal of the advertisement for Toto again): Toto! Play Toto 7 from 39! The expected jackpot for super seven is now over 37,000,000.00 euro’s.

SIXTH GHOST: Important announcement for users of urgent medical help – each step is charged regardless of the fact whether the building you live in has a lift!

THIRD VOICE (sound signal of the advertisement for Toto again): Toto 6 from 45! Numbers of the 23rd round will be drawn on Sunday, 7th June 2014 at 20:05! The guaranteed jackpot is 1,000,000.00 euro’s.

SIXTH GHOST: Because of that, and with regard to previous announcements, you might be better off if you take a tranquillising pill or simply wait for the arrival of local coroner.  However, if you wish to continue using the Emergency medical service – just press hash.

(Horvat presses a button to the music.)

SECOND GHOST: Dear caller, each patient is in the centre of our attention, but nobody, nobody, not even they are exempt from the possibility of erroneous evaluation of their own heath condition. We are warning you that the abuse of the number of the Emergency service was regulated by the law as the abuse of the entire health system!

FOURTH GHOST: Precisely because of that the Emergency medical service uses purposeful communication with the population to raise the awareness about responsible behaviour of each individual in our society. The application that you are going to hear now will help you get medical care in the fastest possible way.

THIRD VOICE (sound signal of the advertisement for Toto again): Beno! Play Beno! The numbers of the 58th round will be drawn on Monday, 1st June! Colour your day in Beno colours!

FIRST GHOST: If you are a female person, press one. If you are a male person, press two. If you are of transsexual orientation or undecided about your sexual orientation, press three.

(Horvat presses a button. Underlying music.)

FIFTH GHOST: Congratulations! You are a male person! Just another tiny question before we offer you the jackpot!

FIRST GHOST: If you are under 73 years of age, press one, if you are over 73 years of age, press two. (He presses. Sound of a sigh and loss on Toto.) Unfortunately, because you are over seventy three years of age, not even the Emergency medical service can help you!

SECOND GHOST: According to all the available statistical data and the answers you have provided up to now – You have lived enough.

FIRST GHOST: We would like to point out that almost one quarter of the inhabitants of this country is aged  between 60 and 73 years, and the available resources are not enough to save even a few of them. Because of the current economic crisis, it is understandable that we cannot help you any more.  And because of that:

(Change of a musical motive. Gently, optimistically.)

SIXTH GHOST: Play the state lottery games! What do you have except games of chance? For jackpot and consolation prize by pressing hash we are connecting you free of charge to the Red Cross or Caritas[4] of the Church of the Holy Cross.

ALOJZIJE HORVAT (wheezing): That ha-sh… Any-body… (He presses. He is talking with the last atoms of strength) … ju-st  any-body to res-pond …


CHURCH OF THE HOLY CROSS


THIRD GHOST: Dear caller, welcome to the automated answering service of the Church of the Holy Cross.

(Musical motive performed by a choir: Hallelujah!)

FOURTH GHOST: If you are a Catholic, press one. If you are not a Catholic – become one and call again a little later! (Hallelujah!)

FIFTH VOICE (advertisement, jingle): Become a Catholic in three minutes! Free of charge baptisms in the Church of the Holy Cross, Mondays at 13 o’clock! This week quick baptism is performed by fatheeer Krištooo!!! Become a Catholic in only three minutes! (Hallelujah!)

THIRD GHOST: If you are praying for bodily health, press one. If you are praying for spiritual health, press two. If you are praying for your own life needs, press three.


ALOJZIJE HORVAT (in a near-death rattle)


FIRST VOICE (advertisement again, merrily): But if you are praying for eye illnesses, together with us pray to saint Lucy on house number one. (Hallelujah!)

SECOND VOICE (the same): If you are praying for throat illnesses, together with us say a rosary to saint Blaise on house number two! (Hallelujah!)

THIRD GHOST: If you are praying for cancer illnesses, together with us pray a novena to saint Peregrine, on house number three. (Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Ha-lle-lujah!)

FIFTH GHOST: Automated answering service of the Church of the Holy Cross was made for all those who like to pray, but also for those who want to pray, but do not know yet how to start. Automated answering service is an opportunity for persons who do not use modern technologies like internet, to access our entire contents and, with special prayer books, listen to spiritual thoughts, opinions and hear their favourite church music.

Choir: Alleluia!

SIXTH GHOST: If you are a sinner, press one. If you think you are not a sinner, also press one – because you are a sinner by all means, and in addition you also have the mortal sin of hubris.

ALOJZIJE HORVAT: Go- to- hell- all- of- you… (Slow dialling, Horvat coughs, drools, breathes with a rattle…) If I could switch- you- off, if only I could switch- you- off, if I could- only- die- as- a- man…

FIRST GHOST: That’s right; you are a great sinner, like every man! If you have committed a sin by an action, press one. If you have committed a sin by a thought, press two. If you have committed a sin by omission, press three or just wait till our operator answers.

ALOJZIJE HORVAT: I shall- press- your-mamma…

FIFTH GHOST: And till our operator answers we recommend you to the protection of saint Cyriacus, helper in all kinds of temptations and special helper in the moment of death. Saint Cyriacus was a deacon of Pope Marcellus who lived in Rome during the rule of emperor Diocletian. Because he helped Christians who were forced to build emperor’s thermae, Cyriacus was thrown into prison and tortured in a horrible way.

FOURTH GHOST: During his imprisonment, Diocletian’s wife – who was secretly a Christian – brought her daughter Artemia for the deacon to free her of demons. By saint Cyriacus’ prayers, Diocletian’s daughter was exorcised of demons. Saint Cyriacus was executed on Via Ostiensis, and Pope Honorius I erected a basilica on his grave in his honour.

SIXTH GHOST: It is known that saint Cyriacus is a patron of all exorcists and protector from all devil’s attacks.

ALOJZIJE HORVAT (going on, dialling now in a distance): O my God, when- will- this- end… I just- want- it- to- end…

FIFTH GHOST: He is particularly invoked at times of deadly struggle. Let us now call upon the Holy Spirit together:

ALL THE VOICES TOGETHER (disharmoniously):

Oh come, Creator, Holy Spirit,

Visit the souls of believers,

Flow with the almighty mercy

Into the bosoms you created.

Choir in the background.

THIRD GHOST: Let us pray. Repeat after me…

ALOJZIJE HORVAT: Da-mn, da-mn you all… (He dies. Music, and then the telephone ringing.)


FROM THE OTHER SIDE

Telephone is ringing during the entire scene.

ALOJZIJE HORVAT (with a healthy voice): Jesus!? I thought I had died! (He laughs.) Oh God!? I have fainted… I have just fainted. You will not have me so easily, oh no, no… (Youthfully!) No, you rascal!!! (He gets up and cleans.) Devil knows how long I have been lying here unconscious. (Finally he picks up the receiver. Angrily.) Hello!? What is it now?

SIXTH GHOST: Mister Alojzije Horvat..? We phoned a little while ago, but…

ALOJZIJE HORVAT (overjoyed): Oh, thank God, finally a human being! I was getting mad with all these automated answering services… You know, I felt very sick. I am well again, thank God. Tell me, tell me, what is this about?

SIXTH GHOST: If you want to go to Heaven, press hash. If you want to go to Hell, press asterisk. If you want to rest for a while in the Purgatory, just hold the line till our operator answers… (Switching off sound. Darkness.)

THE END



[1] Univeršo is pronounced: univerʃo

[2] The phrase “you can have your photograph taken” has a figurative meaning in Croatian: it’s no use, there’s nothing else you can do.

[3] Toto, Pingo, Beno – comical onomatopoeic names for various lottery games (Lotto, Bingo, Keno)

[4] Caritas is Croatian Catholic humanitarian organisation



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