Waking beauty or
Smell the Rot
A three act play
First act takes place in Bucharest in 1990.
Second Act takes place in Bucharest in 1997.
Third Act takes place in New York 1.1.05.
List of Characters:
Passer-bys: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5.
SALESWOMAN - acts like a bouncer
NOSTALGIA – late 40s Swedish woman looking for a boy toy .
DORIAN GRAY - a mid 30s man, macho style.
ONDA - at the age of 17-18, poor, sweet and innocent; at the age of 25, glamorous model and actress, superficial and deep, endearing and bitchy; at the age of 32 almost perfect in NYC style. This actress has to be played by a feisty beautiful actress who looks convincing at all the three ages.
DAN, The Husband early 50s, well off financially, outgoing, overweight.
JULIE, The Mother - Under 40, looks good.
JULIETTE, the Little Girl Her daughter, about 9-10 years old
KEEV, 35-40 yrs old. A combination of Marquis de Sade, Karl Marx and Boy George. This character must be played by an actor with exceptional charisma, tall, striking handsome with long wavy jet black hair. The most peculiar thing about him is that he gives voice to putrid stuff with the pretense and eloquence of a 17th century French poet, and no matter what horrible things he is going to say the public likes him.
ELVIS FISHSTICK - Late 20s, handsome, clean cut, quite charming...until he opens his mouth.
JACK - The Friend Mid or late 30s, medium to short build, dark rimmed glasses, amoral and amusing; He is wealthy and slick and moves with poise.
SAM – New York starving playwright.
The stage has two levels. On the upper level we see a shabby big bed with a terrible mosquito net all around it. We can hear noise of mosquitoes. It's dark, and is hard to tell who is in bed, but the person there jolts every now and then annoyed by mosquitoes. There is just a faint blue light on the bed.
ACT I, SCENE 1
VOICE OVER: "Bucharest. Romania. 1990. One year after the fall of the Iron curtain. People are free, the stores are not empty anymore, they are full with all these amazing goods ...a Dollar a piece ... from Turkey and China, cheap stuff, yeah, but right now, this year they flicker like diamonds, all people are still equal thus broke...but they are pure...they have ideals...they've been holding out for years...there was nothing to sell their souls for...they are so innocent...for now.“
The stage goes pitch dark and silent for a second, then eerie blue light appears on the lower lever appears allowing us to see the exterior of a shabby store with a long line of women waiting. The women can be extras or projected on the back wall. They should be mostly good looking, with a few hilariously ugly for comic effect.
Close to the front door we see a woman who looks like a salesclerk and acts like a bouncer. Viridiana is next in line. She is about 17-18 year old, pure, innocent and dressed very poorly.
SALESWOMAN: Your name please.
VIRIDIANA: Viridiana. (She shyly hands the saleswoman a note.)
SALESWOMAN(crude):This is not a church to hand me a written prayer. Here you ASK for what you want. Speak up.
VIRIDIANA:I want a man.
SALESWOMAN(professionally): We have wimps, jerks and cads. And some me-too brands in between. What flavor would you prefer?
VIRIDIANA: None of these. Well...I’d like a man...MAN. Good looking, athletic, well read, well bred, honest, great manners, good teeth… there gotta be something exceptional about him. Heroic. Something unusual…so I can know he’s the one. Clean money; not stolen or from bribes.
SALESWOMAN: Sorry, we don’t have that brand.
VIRIDIANA: You haven't got merchandise?
SALESWOMAN: (offended): Oh, no. Its all full stocks. We get supplied very well but that flavor is simply missing on the market right now. It comes along quite rarely, about once every other 10,000 items. We reserve it for our most valued customers.
VIRIDIANA: But who can afford to buy 10.000 pieces?
SALESWOMAN: Nobody. That’s why we don’t have any. In America I hear they’re better supplied. If you ever go there, take my advice and give it a try. The quality of the ware is superior. The goods make sport regularly, dress better, eat better, live better. Different air, different breed: Good boys, sly boots and super sly boots. I heard they last longer. The expiration date on their labels is practically unlimited.
VIRIDIANA: Sounds to good to be true. Maybe it’s nothing more than a rumor. Why "no" here and "yes" there? What's going on?
SALESWOMAN: Here after thirty they get a belly pot, they start balding, they get a double chin. Their gaze change. Their eyes glaze over of defeat, which is depressing, or of impudence, which is annoying. None of these two looks are in demand. They bring down the expiration date. That's way we sometimes falsify the labels...like all stores do.
VIRIDIANA: (with naïve bewilderment): If the ware’s of such law quality how come the customers don’t complain to the Better Business Bureau?
SALESWOMAN: The commission puts up with it. Everybody puts up with it. Where you ain't got something, God himself can’t ask for it. Besides, look at this disclaimer: The sold ware can always be returned and replaced, at no cost. You take a nice sweet POS…
VIRIDIANA: (with naïve bewilderment):I beg your pardon. What is a POS?
SALESWOMAN: It’s our store code for Parent Over Shoulder. Or, Piece Of Shit. A drip…The Omega male. You take him, keep him for a while, afterwards you come here, and replace it with a cack.
VIRIDINANA:(puzzled): A cack?
SALESWOMAN: A churl, a creep, a boor, a chuff, a clodhopper, a cad! You keep him much as you can stand then you come here and replace it for a city slicker or a charming bumbler.
VIRIDIANA: (more puzzled):A bumbler?
SALESWOMAN: Whatever… an ass, brute, fool, idiot, jackass, nincompoop, ninny, rascal, scamp, schmo, schmuck, tomfool. (Gasps for air). And when the time comes, you rest again with a nice moffie or with a spoiled chichi.
VIRIDIANA: (same as before) A spoiled chichi?
SALESWOMAN: A mama’s boy, a chicken! A cream puff, an epicene, a faggy, a fairy, a foppish, a fruity, a lily, a limp wrist, a milksop…
VIRIDIANA(same as before):A milksop?
SALESWOMAN: A Nancy, a girlie girl, a pantywaist!
VIRIDIANA: A pantywaist?
SALESWOMAN: Yeah, a pretty boy, a puss, sappy, a sissy, a swish, a twinkie, Mr. Softee. And then you start all over again. Our customers have no time to get bored. Women have fun trying and changing the goods, and this keeps the business alive. So, did you make up your mind? What do you want to buy?
VIRIDIANA: That’s all you have?
SALESWOMAN: Well, yes.
SALESWOMAN: We do have half-pints…but…
SALESWOMAN: You know, bucks, cadets, chips, punks, puppies, runts, small fries, tadpoles, whippersnappers…But they’re not for girls…(beat) Like you.
VIRIDIANA: I'll think about it...I’d prefer to wait until...
SALESWOMAN: Honey, it’s useless to wait! You either take one and or give up, become a nun. See how many women are behind you? Hurry up. Make up your mind. Buy now, or you may lose out. We may have nothing left for later. Just the barren, the fruitless, the impotent…
VIRIDIANA (horrified):The impotent?
SALESWOMAN (With more dignity: yeah, the infertile, sterile, unfruitful, the unprolific…and then if you keep waiting, it’s going to be even worse…
VIRIDIANA: Worse? What can be worse?
SALESWOMAN: The aged, the ailing, the debilitated, the decrepit, the failing, the infirm, the lame, the woozy, the puny, the languid, the zeros! So? (Viridiana is on the fence) C’mon. Buy now! (Viridian steps forward) Good girl. Come in. (Viridiana enters the shop) Next one please!
(The next is a foreign woman in her later 40s, blond, maybe Swedish)
SALESEWOMAN: Your name, please.
SALESWOMAN: (write her on a register): O.K. And what can I do for you?
NOSTALGIA (with strong, funny accent): I’d like to buy a Latin man. Romanian men are Latin, aren’t they?
SALESWOMAN: Yeah. Sure. Haven't you been here last summer?
NOSTALGIA: Ya, I was in the area. So what’s new?
SALESWOMAN: How about the sensitive type? They’re raised by their excellent moms like flowers in a little pot. They need watering every day and extra care. The caretaker must be gentle yet powerful and well off to support them. They’re very frail, they can’t make it on their own, although they can have some ego issues. But on the whole, they’re soft. Really soft. They come with options…They’re gonna adore you, worship you, wash your panties, be your slaves.
NOSTALGIA: Yum…And what’s the Romanian name of the brand?
NOSTALGIA: (Check the word in the dictionary and babbles in a very weird Romanian)
Fu - ta- low. FUT - LOW... "FUT" means fuck in Romanian. Fuck low? Oh, no. Anything else?
SALESWOMAN: How about the macho brand? Charming show offs, will manhandle you on occasion…be the master…
NOSTALGIA: Yum…Sounds powerful and exotic. And what's the name of the Romanian brand?
NOSTALGIA: (check the word in the dictionary and bubbles): Mittel - can. Mittel means medium. So all that fuss for a guy who can.... just medium. Oh, no! What else you've got?
NOSTALGIA:(gives her a tip): Something more exciting…(dreamingly) a lover boy, a make out artist, a lady killer, an night owl, an operator, a heavy hitter, a pleasure seeker, a player, a flirt, a gallant…a great lay!
SALESWOMAN: (suddenly nicer as she receives the tip): You mean a playboy? Of course. Of course.
NOSTALGIA: Wonderful. Two pieces, please.
SALESWOMAN: (opens the door and Nostalgia enter the shop): Two? What for? Threesomes or spare parts?
NOSTALGIA: Strategy. When the first one is gonna play me, stop calling and expect me to wait for him to come around, I waste no time, and I play with the other one. And when the second ones starts playing me, I go back to play with the first one…I’m good.
SALESWOMAN: Honey, you do whatever you want with your ware. Come in…(Nostalgia goes inside) Next customer please! (This time a guy comes along. He is in his early thirties, wears a linen Armani black suit and a black tank top with a generous view on his plentiful hairy chest, he appears slightly stoned) Your name…
DORIAN GRAY: DORIAN GRAY.
SALESWOMAN: Are you from here or...
DORIAN GRAY:I emigrated to Canada after the last elections. Hated the regime here. But I’m back. I wanna settle down and repatriate.
SALESWOMAN: Are you crazy?
DORIAN GRAY: They have no good women there. I gathered here’s still plenty…
SALESWOMAN: Yes, plenty. What flavor would you like? (she s going to pause briefly waiting for a reaction after each offer): Beautiful and nice? Or Gorgeous and bitchy? Model Type? Wifey? Early home every day? Sweet? Aggressive? Silent? Chatty? Day-dreamer? Go getter? Submissive? A dominatrix?
DORIAN GRAY: Nah.
SALESWOMAN: Or maybe a floozy? A bimbo? A harlot, a hooker, a party girl, some arm candy?
DORIAN GRAY: Nah. Not this time.
SALESWOMAN: No bad girls?
DORIAN GRAY: Nah. Not this time.
SALESWOMAN: A femme fatale?
DORIAN GRAY:(seems tempted: I like them…but, nah. Not this time.
SALESWOMAN: An actress?
DORIAN GRAY: Too self centered.
SALESWOMAN: A model?
DORIAN GRAY: Too prima donna.
SALESWOMAN: A nymphet?
DORIAN GRAY: (Seems tempted): Hmmm…A nymphet? Yum.
SALESWOMAN: Ya, a little baby doll? A bobby-soxer? A butterfly? A cupcake? A debutante? A maiden? A schoolgirl?(deep breath)A virgin?
DORIAN GRAY: I don’t know…I’ve tried them all…
SALESWOMAN: Then what are you looking for?
DORIAN GRAY: In the mornings when I'm hung over .... before I sleep like a log...I dream of woman who's beautiful and fair and home early... a woman to truly love me ... and to take good care of me...A woman with who it’s a pleasure to talk with, to fight with, to sleep with...This kind of woman.
SALESWOMAN: Oh, now I remember. The girl from the other shift told me about you.
DORIAN GRAY (annoyed): She did?
SALESWOMAN: You come here every summer and you’re always asking me for the same stuff. She’s been selling you that brand over and over again. Let's check her ledger: last summer you bought 99 units like that. She gave you everything we’ve got. We ain't got nothing no more. We’ve ran out of that brand…
DORIAN GRAY (laughing): Nonsense! It's impossible!
DORIAN GRAY: You know why? (Takes a smoke of pot. Enlightened) Because they are all like that! All of them. (Proud and jolly) We’re the ones who blast them every single time…
SALESWOMAN: It's your business what you’re doing with the ware, after you buy it. I repeat: This brand is out.
DORIAN GRAY: Come on! There must be some under the table. (He gives her a tip) The last one. I swear. This time I'll be good...
SALESWOMAN: The last one?
DORIAN GRAY: I swear.
SALESWOMAN: O.K. THE LAST ONE...it will be very hard ... NOSTALGIA …(Dorian Gray makes a face like he’s not interested) or VIRIDIANA (he makes a face like he’s interested) But even her... I doubt she’s gonna go for it.
ACT 1, SCENE 2
(They both enter the shop. The stage goes dark. Behind the store we see and hear a firestorm, weird noises, flashes of light, firecrackers, yelling, like in a cartoon when the mouse tears down the house. Then, pitch black and spot light on the upper stage. We see the actress who played Viridiana earlier, waking up. She looks the same: pure, sweet and innocent, and she’s wearing a gray worn out camisole with holes in it).
ONDA: What a nightmare! That Bunuel film last night was really shocking. And that man, Dorian Gray, where did he come from? My mind is such a ball of fire sometimes.
(Tries to go to sleep, mosquitoes are biting her and making noise. She is going to speak with a comical exaggerated naiveté):
I can't sleep. It’s hot…I’m hungry...(talking to the audience) Maybe it’s the mosquitoes...That’s why I can’t sleep. They’re burning holes through my camisole...I've had it for years, how dare they? Is not that I don't have money, (she addresses the audience with royal dignity) I do have money, but who cares how I look in bed? Nobody ever sees me in bed. This is my turf! No men allowed, until I meet my one and only love. I’m a good girl.”
(Beat. Then, continues as before addressing the audience)
I have money. Plenty. I work in a clothes store. I make about 100 dollars a month. But every time I get my paycheck, I spend it on a pretty dress. There are so many beautiful clothes in the store! I wish I could buy them all! Someday...This store used to be empty, until last year. Now, that Ceausescu’s gone, we have all these wonderful things...Jeans, sneakers…where did they keep all these beautiful things all along? Did they keep them hidden in some warehouse far away? (pause) I’m so hungry...if mom were alive she'd tell me to stop doing that. That is, go to sleep with no food, so I can buy all these pretty dresses...I’m bad. Until last year, I was buying a new one every year. And they all looked like my grandma's...now I buy one every month. I splurge. (pause) I miss mom...mom was so elegant, and so beautiful, and she only bought one dress a year...how did she manage to do it?
ONDA: (In the receiver): Hi…Wonderful…12 o’clock, here? Sure.
(Hangs up. Talks to the audience as before)
Yesterday I met this man Dan, who just called me. He’s a bit old, and a bit heavy, but he seemed so kind! He came with a fantastic car, when he parked it in front of the store the traffic stopped. He lives downtown, in a big mansion he told me. He got lost, he needed directions. Then, as I explained to him how to get the hell out of this bad neighborhood, he told I looked me like an actress or a model...Then, he asked me if I ever wanted to do something like this…go to acting school? It was so kind of him...even if it were a lie. He pretended he cared about my life. No one ever pretends that. He’s the same age as Dad, but so much kinder! Dad is always raging about stuff! He always yells...No wonder mom died so young. But Dad was pretty dashing when he was young…What happens to us, why do we change for the worse in time? It’s so bad…
(She is getting dressed, and puts on a white outfit that looks out of fashion but still it makes her look deliciously innocent, ...the door bell rings).
...Must be Dan. Can’t believe is noon already. I overslept. Today! The first day in my life when I go out to have lunch in an expensive restaurant with a man. The truth is I’ve never been to a cheap restaurant with a man either. But I’m not going to tell him that.
(Door rings again)
He’s gonna want to touch me, kiss me, and I’m gonna say no, and he’s gonna try to do t again, and again, and I’m still gonna say no. And I'll keep saying no until I finish high school. Mom said to wait and do it only after I go to college. Dad is more strict. He wants me to get married first. For a woman it’s different he said. She gets damaged. (The bell rings) I’m coming, I’m coming…
(Takes a small mirror from her purse and takes one last look at herself, then she looks about the room. She is dressed in white and looks exquisite, in contrast with the squalor of her room)
What a shabby place! I’m like a lotus flower ...emerging from all this crap...but of course, I’ll tell him I have a super nice apartment, and a super nice dad, and super nice everything…
(When she puts on her mirror back, she finds a tiny white envelope, and she takes a card from it).
ONDA: "What’s that? Oh, my God. Must be from Dan. When did he slip it into my purse?
(She opens it):
Marry me? He'd only seen me once? Must be bullshit to get my legs open.
(The door rings again increasingly impatient)
He’s so impatient. Maybe it’s love at first sight...
(As the door rings furiously she walks out and tosses one more to the audience)
Bullshit? Or love at first sight?
(the door rings on the cue of love at first sight)
ONDA: Love at first sight!
ACT II, SCENE 1
Voice Over: "Bucharest, seven years later. 1997, a whole new ballgame. The stakes are higher.”
SCENE: Bucharest. Daylight. Beginning of fall. A square with a couple of benches, a statue of the Sleeping Beauty awakened by Prince Charming, two townhouses left and right, and a street heading backstage. The back wall is white with a projection screen that will be used throughout the play.
Onda, now a model, a glamorous young woman, is pacing feverishly back and forth. She has long wavy hair, black sunglasses, high heels, a black sheer wind coat over what appears to be little or nothing. She holds two kittens in a velvet purse. Each gust of wind brings a smattering of copper leaves and unveils her beautiful legs. At every glimpse of her legs, passer-bys are making comments, ranging from nice to disgusting.
PASSER BY #1: HEY GORGEOUS!
PASSERBY #2:WOW! WOW!
PASSER BY #3: THAT’S MY TYPE OF WOMAN.
PASSER BY #4: SWEETIE, TELL ME HOW MUCH YOU WANT AND WE HAVE A DEAL.
PASSER BY #5: HAVE YOU SEEN HER LEGS? NOW THAT’S A HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
(The light fades in. The passer-bys get still. The stage is dark. Spot on Onda):
ONDA: I’m burning! I’m head over heels. He set my heart and mind on fire! I can’t stop thinking of him. What’s the truth? Is he a zero? Or a genius? Is he eccentric? Or embarrassing? Is he for real? Or is he a con artist? Oh, who cares? I feel so alive. The more scandalous the more exciting. I’m crazy. Yesterday life was OK without him. Now everything is bland without him. I spent hours, days and nights with so many men, and it’s like I’ve never heard an interesting thought! Never got high when I looked in their eyes. Something inside my chest was always asleep. He awakened it. He woke everything up. (Beat). When I’m with him, my heart skips a beat. I get goose bumps. Butterflies in my stomach…I hate them…Oh my God, I must have lost my mind. Everything is just emptytainment…and look: I’m already borrowing his made-up slang.
This man pushes me to do something…I’ve always dreamed to do.
Today I am going to kill… my husband. (Beat) For him.
(Lights fade in. On the projection screen backstage we see a nightclub where alternative music is playing. We see a young man, very tall, charismatic, manly, with his jet black hair loosely put up with a red bow in a womanly fashion. His bare feet are in slippers, and he’s wearing a vintage communist worker robe over a pair of European style shorts. The whole thing is filmed from Onda’s Point Of View. The man walks towards the camera and talks to the camera like he would talk to Onda.)
KEEV: Hi, I’m KEEV. My friends told me that you come here often. Your name is Onda, right?
I know what you’re thinking. I’m not gay.
I know, I look different than the men over here.
I come from New York.
You can tell, can’t you? I bring the fresh air of freedom.
(Three young men come and take Onda to dance. Onda is dancing a sexy upbeat song, being the center of attention. KEEV attacks. He starts dancing in front of her, circling her, smiling and looking her in the eye like an innocent devil who is savoring the prey he is set to seduce. He seems putrid, brilliantly intelligent and somehow vulnerable.)
(Dark stage. Projection is over. Spot on
Onda on the stage, alone in the square.)
ONDA: When I first saw him he was like a bored lion. He was laying low but when he saw the other men trying their luck, he jumped to attack. His armor was shining with the power of 1000 watts: Slippers, vintage factory robe, shorts, and a loop of hair tied up with a red bow. Unusual accessories, turned into tools of charm. Who would have thought it? An eccentric seducer, a devilish hypocrite,
a Diogene wannabe...His conversation was unlike anything I’d heard; all paradoxes and tenderness. How could I remember I was married?
ACT II, SCENE 2
(Light again, movement on the street.)
PASSER BY #5: HELLO GORGEOUS!
PASSER BY #6: WHAT A PIECE OF ASS!
(Onda’s husband shows up. He is a man in his early 50s, outgoing and heavyset.)
DAN: Would you people please shut up! She’s my wife. Hi babe! What are you doing here? I thought you were shooting a commercial today?
ONDA (warmly: Hello, baby. How are you?
DAN: I’m going home to take a power nap to be fresh for tonight.
ONDA: Great. I’m waiting for a friend. See you tonight.
DAN: I see you’re causing quite a stir with the passer-bys… Did anybody try to touch you?
ONDA: No, but Romanian men on the street are sort of gross, aren’t they?
DAN: What did they do?
ONDA: They just stare at you shamelessly. They check you out like a piece of meat. Make all these cat calls. I got used to it. What can a woman do?
DAN: I don’t know? Marry one? Sometimes when I go to the nude beach and I look at all the naked men I wonder how the world’s population reproduce.
ONDA: You’re funny. Maybe beauty is the culprit. Maybe female beauty is harmful.
DAN: No, female beauty is not harmful. Female beauty is rather useless. (He looks her dead in the eye and speaks with double entendre) Yes, beauty matters at first. Men are suckers for beauty when they see it. You catch the man easily, you hook him...but the hard part is keeping him. I have to run now. See you later, love you! (He leaves).
ACT II, SCENE 3
ONDA: (To the audience, dead pan): Why keep him? If you keep anything for too long it gets old, it loses its taste and it begins to stink.
(PROJECTION: CLOSE UP OF KEEV TALKING TO THE CAMERA, POV OF ONDA.)
KEEV: Are you a model? Too bad. You know, my ideal is the UGLY woman. Shy, sensitive, with a husky voice, not so pretty…but who cares? From this woman the truth sprouts out like a man’s most fabulous erection. Faced with truth, any man is penetrated to the core and seduced. (pause) Seduction: It’s not an unpleasant thing. Or is it?
(Fades to black. The stage is still).
ONDA: It was one of those nights when you have no clue that everything is about to change. The man upstairs knew I wanted to cheat on my husband. He knew I couldn’t stand the smell of old skin that no expensive cologne could hide. I was turned off with the flaccid lips that I had to kiss, acting enthusiastic. Turned off at the view of white hairs on his flabby chest. I was fed up with his boring dinners and his boring group of white haired pals. Fed up with his stale jokes and his delusion of self-importance. I was fed up with his money, his town house, his summerhouse, his cars… all for which one single minute of my life is a price to high to pay. That night I decided to start over, I wanted a clean slate, and I wanted to chose better this time around. I was ready to meet Prince Charming and wake up.
(Again, the stage is dark and still. The Projection screen shows Prince Charming show up in the nightclub in the shape of a handsome young man, clean-cut, well-dressed and well bred. He takes Onda to dance and she seems to enjoy his company. KEEV is watching with a smile.)
ONDA: In the same night God put two 2 kittens on my lap. One pure and tough, the other more like a Salvador Dali type. Who was I supposed to chose? Adonis or the eccentric? It was a tense game.
(Projection: The young man looks at ONDA visibly seduced, he slowly kisses her hand, There is a growing tension, music up, like a big seduction scene, it looks like he is going to win. The moment deflates comically when he says his name, he has no personality in his voice):
Elvis Fishstick: Thanks for dancing with
me. My name is Elvis Fishstick."
(Onda from the projection screen walks away. KEEV grabs Onda and kisses her passionately.)
ONDA: ELVIS FISHSTICK, that’s the ugliest name I’ve ever heard! How could anybody date someone with a name like that? His voice put me to sleep. Keev’s words woke me up; his kiss lit me all up. The next day he sent me a note
VO: (We hear KEEV’s voice): "Onda, An evening with you is exquisite. Who would have known? You are marvelously entertaining, deliciously fetching and a devilish kisser. I look forward to more of you in New York, Paris, Romania, Tahiti, wherever you want...and back."
ONDA: (Deadpan): How could I not kill my husband?
ACT II, SCENE #4
(Light. ONDA is seated on a bench and is speaking on her cell phone):
ONDA: Hello, he just went home to take a nap. Go ahead...No second thoughts. I’m so happy. Be careful, no mess. I am hanging out in the square and half of the city saw me here. Don’t worry, he owes so much money to so many people, his suicide will surprise nobody...See you later darling. Thanks.
(She turns off her cell and she starts playing with the kittens making a big display. A mother and her 9-year-old daughter come in the square to admire the statue. The more the daughter’s curiosity will be relentless, the more the mother will speak on auto-pilot).
JULIE: (to her daughter): Look what a marvelous statue! Tell me, can you recognize it?
JULIETTE: No Mommy.
JULIE: It’s Sleeping Beauty when Prince Charming kissed her and woke her up after 100 years of deep sleep.
JULIETTE: So one day my Prince will come?
JULIE: Yes, dear.
JULIETTE: How will I recognize him?
JULIE: You’ll just know.
JULIETTE: What’s he like?
JULIE: He’s handsome, kind, smart, chivalrous, brave, loving, loyal and honorable.
JULIETTE: On a white horse?
JULIE: Yes, dear.
JULIETTE: But I’ve never seen a horse here. Just bikes. Who’s going to put the sleep spell on me?
JULIE: I forget. It’s either some jealous fairy or THE VILLAIN because the Princess refused his hand.
JULIETTE: Mom, why does the princess refuse his hand?
JULIE: Because he was ugly and dishonorable and mean.
JULIETTE: Mommy, if he asked her to marry him, the Villain wasn’t that bad, was he?
(Mother sits down on the bench and opens a magazine, and will continue to speak distractedly to her daughter).
JULIETTE: He kidnaps the princess but doesn’t hurt her. And he’s strong! He could do all sorts of bad things to her. (defying) The bad guy was honest!
JULIE: Dear, you’re talking nonsense.
JULIETTE: He wanted to marry her but he didn’t force her. That’s nice!
JULIE: The Villains are mean spirited men that all good girls like you should avoid. Including you. Take my word for it.
JULIETTE: If he loved the princes he had a good heart. Don’t you always say that people who love us are good?
JULIE: OK, Ms. Know-it-all. The VILLAIN may have been an honest man with a good heart, but he was ugly and the Princess couldn’t love him and she was upset because he was forcing her to like him.
JULIETTE: But in Beauty and the Beast the princess loves the beast for his good heart.
JULIE: Baby cakes don’t you have an ugly friend at school? That obnoxious boy with terrible acne, who kills frogs and bullies the girls? What’s his name, Dan? Would you like to marry him when you grow up?
JULIETTE: Oh my God! No, Mom…
JULIE: You see… that’s how the princess felt too.
JULIETTE: Now you’ve got me worried.
JULIE: If you’re a good girl, and if you listen to me, nothing bad is going to happen to you.
JULIETTE: Am I ever going to meet Prince Charming?
JULIE: Of course doll, all the good girls meet him.
JULIETTE: You’re good, did you meet him?
JULIETTE: Really? Why didn’t you tell me?
JULIE: It’s daddy, silly.
JULIETTE: Daddy? You and daddy argue all the time. You said he liked other women. And he never had a white horse…
JULIE: Love made him Prince Charming for a while…Afterwards… you saw what happened… poor baby.
JULIETTE: The fairy tales always end saying they both lived happily ever after.
JULIETTE: But now you’re telling me that love is like fever! It comes and goes. I don’t understand Mom. When you’re with Dad you cry and you both argue. In the fairy tales the princess is crying only when she’s kidnapped by the Villain? Maybe Dad was the VILLAIN?
JULIE: I thought he was Prince Charming but soon enough he turned out to be The VILLAIN.
JULIETTE: Mommy, but Dad is the most handsome man in the world, and I love him. If you don’t want him I am going to marry him when I grow up.
JULIE: When you are going to grow up, he is going to be very, very old.
JULIETTE: Then, I’m going to marry someone just like him.
JULIE: God forbid! You need to be a good girl and wait for someone nicer than your dad.
JULIETTE: What if he doesn’t come?
JULIE: Can you please stop with all these questions? You’re tiring me out.
JULIETTE: Mom, prince charming always kills the villain in the end. Dad loves me. I don’t want anybody to kill dad. What should I do?
JULIE: Nothing. You wait. You be a good girl. You have a long wait ahead of you.
JULIETTE: (her whining is getting worse): Mom, but who am I supposed to wait for?
JULIE: Stop already!
JULIETTE(to Onda who is still on the bench): Miss can I please play with your kittens?
ONDA: Of course sweetie.
(she is handing the little girl the purse)
JULIETTE: Thank you M’am.
JULIE: Miss, thanks but you shouldn’t…really…
ONDA: Oh, it’s my pleasure. Girls will be girls. What grade are you in?
JULIETTE: I’m in fourth grade. (Deadpan to Onda): Madam, if you don’t mind, who are you waiting for here? Are you waiting for Prince Charming or for the Villain?
JULIE: Darling would you please stop! You’re embarrassing me. You’re embarrassing the Lady.
JULIETTE:(stubbornly): Are you waiting for Prince Charming?
ONDA (hesitant):I’m not waiting for Prince Charming.
JULIETTE: No? So how about the sleep that only Prince Charming can end with his kiss?
ONDA: Hmmm, let me see… It’s the sleep of fear. Fear of opening your eyes on your own. Fear of seeing that Prince Charming is actually the Villain and that the Villain is actually Prince Charming.
JULIETTE: So if a boy looks handsome and brave he’s actually mean and a coward? And if he’s ugly and wimpy and wears glasses, he’s hiding secret powers? Like in Superman?
JULIE: Miss, would you please stop confusing my daughter? How could you poison her tender head with such ideas?
ONDA: Oh, I’m sorry we’re just joking.
JULIETTE: So who is prince Charming, and who’s the Villain?
ONDA: The Villain is a deceiving warrior with many alluring faces.
JULIETTE: So he’s not ugly?
ONDA: To the contrary!
JULIETTE: Mom, do you understand?
JULIE: Well, sometimes the Villain is ugly, other times he comes across as attractive. The princess starts trusting him. He talks like a magician and tells the princes whatever she wants to hear until the princess is hooked on him. Then he pulls a bad move and shows who he really is.
JULIETTE: And Prince Charming doesn’t he show up to save her?
ONDA: This is in the movies my dear. In real life, Prince Charming shows up to pick up the pieces, long after the damage is done. He is the end, the giving up, the monotony and the boredom.
JULIE: Miss, I totally disagree with you!
ONDA: Oh, Madam, Prince Charming is a wimp.
JULIE: Prince Charming is strong and brave!
ONDA: (amused): Prince Charming is a boring WIMP.
JULIE: How can you say something so rotten to my little girl?
JULIETTE: (protesting) I’m not a little girl! You say I’m a big girl, every time you want me to clean my room. (After she defeats her mother with her own arms she turns to challenge Onda): If Prince Charming is such a wimp, why do all the princesses marry him in the end?
ONDA: Because although they love the villain they don’t have the courage to stay with him.
JULIE: Miss, please stop it! I can’t allow you to plant such ideas in my daughter’s head!
ONDA: But I heard you saying that you too didn’t marry a Prince Charming type. You chose the opposite.
JULIE: It was a mistake. My little girl won’t make any mistakes. I won’t allow her to make any mistakes.
ONDA: Why not?
JULIE: Because she doesn’t have to suffer like I did!
ONDA: Don’t you think she’s going to suffer more if you tell her that life’s just a fairy tale?
JULIE: She’s going to see later, on her own, how life really is. Why should I pollute her mind with anything now?
ONDA: If you feed her with lies...
JULIE: How dare you…
ONDA: I’m sorry, if you feed her with these illusions, she’s going to look for them all her life and she won’t be any happier…
JULIE: My little girl is going to be happy, let me take care of this. Would you please mind your own business? Let’s go doll, it’s getting late.
JULIETTE: Mom, you don’t lie to me, do you?
JULIE: You see what you’ve done to her? Are you happy? No, my dear, Prince Charming is not a wimp. He isn’t stupid. He’s handsome brave and strong. He’s going to protect you and be your best friend. But don’t take him for granted because you are going to regret it.
(The two leave the stage. The little girl runs from her mother and comes one more time to Onda)
JULIETTE: Miss, be candid with me? Who do you prefer between the two? The Villain, don’t you? Me too. But he’d better be handsome like Dad, and not ugly like my classmate, Dan. (She runs back after her mother who is expecting her impatiently) Good-bye... .... (To her Mom) the Lady we spoke to, she’s so beautiful…
ACT II SCENE #5
(Onda is alone again. Her friend, Jack shows up. He is of medium height, slim, classy, detached and fun. He is dressed very sharply and moves with the poise of a wealthy man.)
JACK: Onda my dear, I just got a call from my man. Everything worked out fine. I brought champagne. And glasses. (Takes a couple of plastic glasses from his pocket).
ONDA: Oh you’re my hero, I was worried.
JACK: Did you ever love him?
ONDA: At the beginning. I was grateful. Nobody had treated me so well before. I was very, very young and I sort of threw myself into it. All the other girls in my neighborhood were dreaming to do the same. I had the chance, so to speak. It was the only way out. And I really thought he loved me. But it was just about him
JACK: I never understand guys who go out with much younger women. I’m not like that.
ONDA: I know, that’s why you’re my best friend. I was the sex toy, the arm candy, his lost youth, his ego pill, everything else but me.
JACK: Little bird in a cage you are free.
ONDA: You see, beauty is destructive…
JACK: I know what you mean, who would think to out a crow in a cage?
ONDA: Everybody wants a piece of the beautiful people. No one is happy to let them go.
JACK: What’s wrong with you? You look strange. Hope you don’t have fever or anything.
ONDA: No. It’s something else. (Coyly) I’m a bit afraid.
JACK: (he believes she is talking about the crime) You’re scared? Why? It was suicide. He left you a note.
ONDA: Oh, no, it’s not that. ... I’m afraid I’m in love. I’m so scared!
JACK: In love? That’s a first. Who did you the favor?
ONDA: I know nothing about him.
JACK: You must know something about him.
ONDA: All I know is that he inhabits his beauty with genius.
JACK: Why do all people fall for this?! You did it for him?
ONDA: No, no! I decided long ago. I grew tired with all the control, the demands, the tyranny, the phone calls, the nights, the whining…the boredom. You know I tried to run twice, and he followed me, broke the door, made a scene, scared my friends. It’s just a coincidence.
JACK: And you know nothing about this man?
ONDA: He gave me his card and I’ve lost it.
JACK: Business card?
ONDA: Personal card. Can you believe I’ve lost it?
JACK: Tell me if you need any help. I can tell my people to ask around about him.
ONDA: Oh, you’re so sweet! This world will be a sad place without people like you. But no thanks.
JACK: Onda, you know my philosophy: I like to delegate. If I can pay someone to do it, why should I do it myself?
ONDA: How are you? How‘s business?
JACK: All my businesses are thriving. Bucharest is bubbling with new initiatives. These are very exciting times. Everything is great
(his voice just drops, he seems sad and changes the subject). Just tell me if you need any help. There’s nothing that I can’t do in this city.
ONDA: I know. I’ll think about it. But this man is special. I don’t want to ruin the mystery just yet. How is your wife?
JACK: You mean my-ex?
ONDA: (stunned) Did you leave her?
(He nods no).
ONDA: She left? Is she crazy?
JACK: She met a man named KEEV and she lost her mind.
JACK: Do you know him?
ONDA: Barely. I saw him in the club the other night. We didn’t really talk, I was busy with my new love… This KEEV is quite the eccentric. He was dressed so strangely. I’m surprised they let him in.
JACK: He’s a high roller.
ONDA: What’s the deal with this guy?
JACK: He’s married to a noble French woman he met in New York and who invested a lot of money in his ass. They have a baby and she’s pregnant again.
ONDA: He’s married? Are you sure? He didn’t look like the married kind. What’s he doing in Bucharest?
JACK: He comes here often. He says for business, but in fact he comes here to roll a little bit in the mud and to fuck. He complains his wife doesn’t give him enough sex. But of course, it’s not about that.
ONDA: I see you got a full report on him.
JACK: He organized an exhibition for her. He helped her sell some paintings. Then he seduced her.
ONDA: What a jerk!
JACK: He is putrid. I asked her if he’s better in bed, and she confessed that he’s not that great. He has a limp dick and he turns women on mostly with talk. And she’s still nuts about him! Go understand women. Cora and I had very good sex. Can you believe that?
ONDA: This is weird.
JACK: (Mockingly) From the moment she met him, Mrs. Painter’s life tuned into full color. She woke up from some dead sleep. That’s what I was for her: the comatose sleeping pill.
ONDA: Oh, darling, don’t talk like that. You’re the most charming and witty friend I’ve got. And I mean it.
JACK: She wants to divorce. I even suggested a 3-month marital vacation to be with guy, so she can see the scumbag for what it’s worth. I told her it’s silly to divorce for him. He knows his interest. Why would he leave a woman with money for a woman with no money?
ONDA: I agree, why would he?
JACK: (He’s suspicious about Onda and Keev)
You’re independently wealthy now! No man will turn his back on you because of have to eat only salami and soy to be with you.
ONDA: Who wants that kind of man anyway? Let’s toast, Jack.
JACK: To a new life! And to new beginnings!
ONDA:(trying to look like she doesn’t care but thirsty for any shred of information about KEEV). For new life and new beginnings! Thanks Jack. You’re my best friend. What would I do without you? (Pauses to drink, then she comes back to the subjects that really interests her): What does he do? Is he in finance? Is he a painter?
JACK: He never went to college. He was kicked out of High School in the 12th grade. Some rape scandal with an underage girl. It wasn’t clear if it was consensual. Later he went to the States, worked as a museum guide and married that wealthy chick. (Suspicious) I’m surprised he didn’t come on to you…
ONDA: I told you I was busy with someone else. A great guy, very handsome ...Elvis Fishstick.
JACK: You fell in love with a man called Elvis Fishstick? This is so not you! Are you kidding me?
ONDA: I’m crazy about him. He’s very handsome. Head-over-heels.
JACK: I didn’t know you were into handsome hunks.
ONDA: (She is lying more and more) He’s just my type. He’s my knight in shining armor, really. So manly, and so nice, with a touch of mystery. But I don’t want to talk about him today. It’s not appropriate. I have to go home, discover the deed, call police, cry …(she starts sobbing) Poor man, he was good with me …I am so sorry. But he was such a cheapo. If I tried to divorce him he would have fought me tooth and nail, stall me, buy the judges…he would have ran after me, made a show…I would have ended up with nothing.
JACK: Onda, don’t cry. I wanted to set you free, beautiful bird.
ONDA: People will talk…
JACK: They shouldn’t. There’s nobody all white in this town. There’s too much beauty out there! We’re all lusting for it! We all want it. We all sell our soul piece by piece everyday to get all this beautiful stuff we want. It’s all up there for the kill.
ONDA: We’re both nice people. We give money to beggars, we help our parents, we love our pets, but no matter how we turn it around, we committed a crime.
JACK: It’s OK, doll. Life is not a fairly tale. That’s the fun part.
ONDA: I wish I could turn back the clock…
JACK: Never regret the past. Be happy! You met your Elvis, you have the love you craved, and you’re free. What more do you want? If he ever let’s you down I am here from you. I‘ve always dreamed that you and I…Check him out, though. Be smart. Don’t do anything stupid. But if he’s worthy, go for him. (she is sobbing)… Don’t cry. I can’t stand to see you crying, …I want to see you happy (pause) Save you tears for later. You’ll need them. Time to go. Good-bye luv! Keep your spirits up! Happiness is around the corner.
(Jack leaves and while he is walking, a bullet hits the back of his neck and he drops dead.)
ACT II. SCENE 6
ONDA: Oh my God, she killed him! She did it. She’s so stupid. How could she do something like this? To Jack? Such a wonderful man. Oh, no, this is a bad dream, someone wake me up.
(She faints, and fells on the bench.
Silence, then we hear a police siren and people screaming. Windows in the Square open, onlookers gather around the body. ONDA is still laying on the bench. The door of the house in front of her opens, and KEEV walks out in a robe, like he just woke up)
KEEV: What’s going on… Police? Who shot who?
(He sees Onda):
Onda, you here, in front of my house?
What are you doing here? Are you waiting for me?
(KEEV goes to the bench, is kneeling down, gently kisses her, she open her eyes and looks at him stunned, she doesn’t kissing him back.
KEEV: What are you doing here? Are you waiting for me?
ONDA: No, I wasn’t waiting for you. I mean, yes, I was waiting for you.
(She is touching his hair with jovial dismay):
I see you still haven’t washed your hair.
KEEV: You know, today I thought about you. I played tennis and when I got home and I put my hand in my hair and it was full of dirt...The dirt in my hair made me think about you.
ONDA: The dirt in your hair made you think about me?
KEEV: Yeah, here lies the true tenderness, in the dirt under your nails. In the dirt under your nails lies true intimacy...You’re shivering....what happened?
ONDA: Some one was shut dead.
KEEV: Do you know who?
ONDA: No. (beat) Keev, I want to ask you something. What’s between you and Nora?
ONDA: Did you sleep with her?
Oh, God, no. Nora is a good painter, I organized an exhibition for her, but did you look at her?
ONDA: Yes, she’s strikingly beautiful.
KEEV: You haven’t noticed?
ONDA: No. What?
KEEV: She has those horrible protuberances, or haven’t you noticed?
KEEV: Those mountains of fat..
ONDA: Mountains of fat? She’s thin as a rail.
KEEV: She has those huge breasts that make me nauseas.
ONDA: (confused) She has superb voluptuous breasts!
KEEV: I like the manly woman. The hairy strong manly woman. Big breasts are vulgar, they disgust me terribly. Oh, and did you look at her nails?
ONDA: No. What’s wrong with them?
KEEV: French manicure.
ONDA: What’s wrong with French Manicures?
KEEV: They’re sinister. It turns my stomach upside down. Is like you paint dirt over your nails, but you make it white, instead of black.
(He looks at her nails, scolds her)
What’s this clear polish for? At least they’re short.
ONDA: You’re sure she hasn’t fucked you?
KEEV: I don’t inspire fuck. I inspire philosophy. Women sleep with me because of all the bullshit I jumble, but I don’t inspire fuck. I’d love to have a woman come to me and tell me, boy, keep your mouth shut, let’s fuck.
(He makes an attempt to embrace her but she pulls away).
ONDA: Stop! You’re disgusting.
KEEV (Delighted) You don’t want this?
(He is speaking with a lot of poetry and elegance as if he’d describe the rainbow):
You don’t want to fuck someone and the next day just ask for his number out of courtesy, knowing full well you are never going to call him? You never want to fuck just for the fuck?
ONDA: I want to fall in love.
KEEV: How many times have you fallen in love so far? Do you even remember their names? Do you remember their faces? How long did it last the last time?
ONDA: (counts on her fingers) …A week.
ONDA: I see. Love is just an illusion, worse, a contagious disease. You take it, you develop fever, you do all these crazy things that you later regret, and then it goes away.
KEEV: You’ve changed.
ONDA: Until this morning I believed in the Absolute.
KEEV: (laughing) How can you be married with the old fatty, to live with him in that reactionary townhouse, to eat with him in that reactionary dining room, to fuck him in that reactionary bedroom, and to come here and tell me you believe in the Absolute?
ONDA (gazing at him playfully and seductively: Maybe until this morning I’d forgotten all about the Absolute.
KEEV: You’re such a vixen! So womanly, (mocking outrage, like this is something terrible, like being a serial killer or a child molester) How can you be so womanly? I’ve told you, this scares the shit out of me.
ONDA: So there’s nothing between you and Nora?
ONDA: Then Jack lied to me.
KEEV: Who’s Jack?
ONDA: He lied? He left her for me. But I can’t believe that Nora had personally... I’m sure she’d asked someone for help...her only friend was Dan. This means Dan took care of Jack and Jack took care of Dan. All because of you...worse, because of me.
KEEV: What happened because of me?
ONDA: Nothing, nothing.
KEEV: Why am I the bad guy here? (jokingly) I haven’t killed anyone.
ONDA: Surprisingly, you’re the only one who hasn’t. Keev is it true that you’re married?
KEEV: Oh, don’t start with scholarly formalities...you are too...
ONDA: No, I’m not anymore...
KEEV: Since when? Last week you were married.
(continues as if what she said was absurd)
What did you do? Did you kill the poor fatty?
ONDA: I have to go.
ONDA: I have to go...
KEEV: Why? You don’t like me? What kind of men do you like?
ONDA: I like men who are ...pure.
KEEV(laughing) I am pure. There’s a lot of purity in all my shamelessness. I am shameless because I am pure.
KEEV: Purity is the biggest outrage. The most shameless thing of all. Didn’t you know that?
ONDA: How many women have you slept with? A thousand? Five thousand?
KEEV: With many; with too many women... I haven’t been. Oh, God, there are so many women I haven’t been with! So many I haven’t fucked.
(They stare at each other standing perfectly still for a few second, they look at each other coldly, like there is a glacier between them. Then, unexpectedly, Keev laughs and embraces Onda passionately, like he wants to devour her.)
KEEV: Oh, I want you, I lust for you..
(Keev is laughing and kisses her again like a hungry primitive man who is devouring a deer. We hear a police siren. The little girl shows up at scene running and looking lost. She sees Keev kissing Onda passionately. While they kiss Onda slips something in his pocket. Another siren. Onda breaks away from his embrace and runs away. He remains standing alone smiling unaware of the little girl. He puts his hand in the pocket and sees the little envelope. He opens it:
KEEV: (deadpan to the audience) Marry me. Marry me?
“Seven years later in
Manhattan. First day after New Year’s.”
ACT III, Scene 1
Big bed. Onda is underneath the cover. There are several carton boxes half wrapped in the room.
ONDA (to the audience, like a stand up routine): Oh, New York, I hate it. And I love it. I hate it. I hate it. I hate it. And I’m sooo in love with it. Nah, I just hate it. I’m done with it. I graduated NYC. Time to move on. Today. Hmm. Tomorrow. But I’m gonna miss it terribly. New York is in my blood now! If I go back to Bucharest I’ll cut my wrists out of boredom and it’s gonna spill all over the floor. And I’m in New York’s blood too. If we have another terrorist attack my blood will spill on the sidewalks. That’s no joke. It goes both ways, you know? (Beat)
Last night I saw this movie, shot at the UN, the Interpreter, and I already missed New York. I panicked! I was sitting on my chair, eating popcorn, terrified that I can be so reckless and just leave this amazing city. The most photogenic city in the world. But as soon as I walked out of the movie theater into the city, I remembered all the bullshit and I started packing. It’s all about the numbers here. A number’s game: If you only send enough headshots! If you only go to enough auditions! If you only go to enough blind dates…if you only sleep with enough people. Then you’ll find uniqueness! It’s all bull. I’m done. I’m gonna get out.”
ACT III, Scene 2
(Sam, rises up from the covers. Must be a surprise, we didn’t know he was there.)
SAM (sleepy) Get out? Where? Wanna go have brunch?
ONDA: No. I’m not hungry. I wanna go home.
SAM: (looks around baffled still sleepy): You are home.
ONDA: You don’t understand. I want to go home.
SAM: Where “home"?
question, Sam. I don't really know.
like a plan. Where's your heart?
ONDA: I have no clue. And I have no heart, Sam, you of all people should know that.
SAM: Don't give me this crap. Where are you going?
ONDA: Bucharest, I guess.
SAM: Where did this come from?
ONDA: I’m depressed. I don't know why. I’m stuck.
That's all? We all are.
Yesterday I left my job.
ONDA: I did? By the way, how the hell did you end up in my bed?
SAM: You came back from your New Years Party, I came back from my New Years party, we drank a little bit more, watched TV, guess we both fell asleep…(he lifts the cover) Nothing happened. See? We both have our clothes on.
(She gets out of the
bed, and she is dressed perfectly.)
ONDA: I don’t really like that. You’re not supposed to fall asleep here.
SAM: Relax. It was New Year’s eve. I’m allowed to sin once a year. So, you’re really going back? When?
ONDA: I donn’t know. I’m kinda scared.
SAM: Why are you scared of?
ONDA: If I go back I might get killed.
ONDA: Some bad shit happened before I left.
SAM: What happened?
ONDA: Huh…a big shakeup. All my life, as I knew it, fell apart.
SAM: What are you talking about?
ONDA: Some people got killed… Like in a domino game
ONDA: My ex husband and my best friend.
SAM: I’m so sorry. I didn’t know you were married. You look so young…
ONDA: My marriage was a stupid mistake. But at the time it seemed the smart thing to do. One of those things that you needed to have under your belt, to prove to the world you weren’t a failure.
SAM: What happened?
ONDA: (She understands she went to far she wants to backtrack) A stupid earthquake. Fortunately, I was out in a park when it happened.
SAM: So you’re scared to go back because of earthquakes? The odds of a new one must be low…
ONDA: We have big earthquakes there… A new one can come anytime.
SAM:(sarcastic and suspicious): So, it’s not the “Fear of Flying” that rattles you, it’s the “Fear of Earthquakes”?
ONDA: That’s right. And a fear of dirt! A fear of aggressive people! A fear of stray dogs. Lots of things. The gypsy kiddies begging on the street, amputated……
SAM: Who cuts the limbs off?
ONDA: Their parents….The un-fluoridated water, there are 22 million Romanians, and at least 200 million cavities! And 200 million fillings and dentures. The cops that take bribes! The docs that take bribes! And all the nurses that take bribes. No tip, no injection. You just die there, while they’re playing backgammon. The clerks that take bribes! The first grade teachers that take bribes! The university professors that take bribes! The priests that takes bribes, the judges that takes bribes, the marketing directors that take bribes, …the journalists that take bribes, the newspaper owners, the mayors, the governors…everyone! Everything scares me.
SAM: What about the men?
ONDA: Too macho. And prostitution is the new national pastime. Naked women are plastered on everything. Above the Sunday crossword puzzle, to the left of the weather forecast, to the right of the interview with the President… every joint has hookers on retainer. They show up uninvited, even at weddings. It’s a man’s world.
SAM: So it’s here, or haven’t you noticed? That’s why I’m at your mercy.
ONDA: That’s right.
SAM: Let me hold you.
ONDA: I’m fine.
SAM: You don’t strike me as ‘fine’. Come to me.
ONDA: If I’m going to sleep with you – I’ll feel disgusting afterwards – and you’ll need to find another roommate.
SAM:I don’t want sex.(Pause) I just want to hold you.
ONDA: I can give you sex but I can't hold you.
SAM: You’re so full of shit.
ONDA: So are you.
SAM: I don't want sex. Why can’t you just let me hold you?
ONDA: I’m looking at every man as a trap - I’m quite comfortable with my life as it is…
SAM: You don’t strike me as comfortable either. You need me. Come to me.
ONDA: People do things if they anticipate pleasure, and I don't anticipate any pleasure when I think about you. The only thing I anticipate from you is the rent.
SAM: I’ll go get it…
ONDA: (sweet) Now? (Sam gets out of the bad, he is wearing jeans and a black T short, straighten up his hair and comes near her swaggering)
But I am in the mood for
ONDA: (Coldly) Just go.
SAM: (Horny) I want sex…
ONDA: Please go, Sam. Go! Go!
(They struggle, she pushes him out of the door, as he is walking out he is tossing to her)
SAM: By the way, Happy New Year…
ACT III, SCENE 3
(ONDA starts packing, then stops. Opens the window, closes it. Turns on the news, then turns them off. Open a book, tries to read, stops. Opens some mail and starts sorting it out.)
ONDA: Happy New Year…Wish you a year filled with wonderful opportunities…may all your wishes come true…You didn’t get this part for the ….we’ll keep your headshots on file…May the New Year lead you into the path…Days fulla smiles, rent due….you forgot to pay…credit charges…Sparkling with happiness. ..Success and Good will… Gosh...Sometimes I miss Dan. Poor Dan.
(Noise of door knock. KEEV, looking a little bit older and less wild, but still "different", he is dressed like a bum but has an expensive alligator leather travel bag at the other side of the door. He knocks on the door, in a peculiar way. She jumps out of the couch, and a book falls down with noise. Stands still, holding her breath. She doesn’t go to the door. He is waiting, then he pull out his cell and calls her number The speaker picks up, you can hear his voice:
KEEV: "Hello you’re not there, Happy New Year. My answer is Yes. My name is Keev, coming from Paris…(brief pause waiting for her to pick up) Alors, bisou, bisou…"
(ONDA runs to open the door, bewildered, enthused, then stops awkwardly, and remembers to be cautious. She opens it half way, sneaks out of her apartment).
ONDA: Keev? You? I’m so happy to see you! It must be what? Seven years? I can’t believe you haven’t forgotten everything.
KEEV: Well, I actually, forgot quite a bit. For instance, have we ever fucked?
ONDA: No, never…
KEEV: How come? (she shrugs) You don’t invite me in?
KEEV:(suspicious) We never fucked, not even a little bit?
ONDA: We almost did it but then…
KEEV: Why did you lose interest?
ONDA: We started to…something happened…I was…you were…
KEEV: Impotent ?
ONDA: That’s what I’d heard…
KEEV: (the way he pronounce each word must be very peculiar. Every “bad” word must be pronounced like it’s a nobility title):Yeah, I’m an old hag. I smell bad and I can’t fuck. I‘m an impotent. A limp dick. A sissy, paper tiger, a little girl…(as he says all that he looks pretty masculine)
Stinko, but charming still, you have to admit.
ONDA: Well, you do smell. (She takes a strand of his hair with mocking disgust)
In America people wash their hair every day. I bet you wash it once a week… or less…
KEEV: Once a month is too much.
ONDA: I’ve been thinking of your dirty hair…
KEEV: You’ve been thinking of my dirty hair… But you don’t invite me in? How’s that?
ONDA:(Looking at his bag0: Where are you staying?
KEEV: I don’t know, I was thinking maybe under a bridge somewhere. But they ran out of space under the one in Brooklyn.
ONDA: You’re a wealthy man, you can afford a hotel, can’t you?
KEEV: Bucharest wealthy is New York poor.
ONDA: Tell me about it. After I bought this apt. I was left with nothing. But you live half the time in Paris, don’t you?
KEEV: I only claim unemployment benefits in Paris, that’s all.
ONDA: You claim unemployment benefits in Paris? Since when?
KEEV: I’ve been claiming unemployment in Paris for 12 years.
ONDA: But you own tens of properties…
KEEV: In Bucharest. Not in Paris.
ONDA: And a factory …
KEEV: In Bucharest. Not in Paris…
ONDA: And your wife was the heir of the biggest porcelain fortunes in…
KEEV: In Germany. But not in Paris. In Paris I’m a poor man. The richest poor man you know. In Bucharest, I’m the poorest rich man you know. Look at my clothes…
(he is wearing some dusty magenta trousers made of thin worn out curtain brocade, and a gray shirt)
ONDA: They’re nice…
KEEV: I always buy second hand.
ONDA: But you still give a grand to casinos every night, don’t you?
KEEV: I lend, not give. I always have an extra few hundreds when I leave.
ONDA: How many casinos are in Bucharest now, 30?
KEEV: Many more. But never enough. I’m training you know, my dad was a wealthy man who lost it all, and died like a dog. If anything happens to me, this skill alone will keep me going.
ONDA: People were whispering behind your back you’re a tightwad. So that’s why…Your stinginess is stuff of legend in Bucharest. They say you’re “avida dollars”, close-fisted..
KEEV: Just frugal and thrifty…
ONDA: Grabby, greedy, penny pinching…
KEEV: (like he is offended) All these crude words… (with utter disgust) parsimony, miserliness, rapacity, scrimping, austerity, cutbacks… They’re just music to my ears! (Increasingly enthusiastic) I always drive people crazy with them. There’s nothing wiser than being the ultimate cheapskate, the perfect curmudgeon, the best miser! I’ve cut all the business class travel for my directors! You should have seen their faces! They all call me a harpy, hoarder, a muckworm, a scrooge, a Shylock! It’s hilarious.
If I can’t find room under some bridge, I am going to take a flight back tonight.
ONDA: Sorry, I can’t invite you in. I would love to, but I can’t.
KEEV: Why not?
ONDA: I can’t show my place to you, you’ll make fun of it. You live in a fucking castle…
KEEV laughs quietly.
KEEV: You must have a man in there. Doesn’t bother me. Can I take a peek? Married again?
ONDA: I have a male roommate.
This is what you call
your husbands these days?…or is it your dog? You can always tell him, go to
your room! Can’t you?
ONDA: We have a no overnight guest policy. I enforced it. I have to follow through. I gave him hell when he tried to break it.
KEEV: Then come with me to Paris.
ONDA: Keev, I don’t care about Paris right now.
KEEV: Why not?
ONDA: Let’s go to Bucharest.
KEEV: You want to leave your job here? Are you nuts?
ONDA: I don’t care about my job here, if I can’t act.
KEEV: Where do you work?
ONDA: NYAA, the biggest talent agency in New York.
KEEV: Your balls must be hanging down to your knees. Not bad, for someone who came from a place so tiny, no one can find of on the map.
ONDA: I deal with all the stars, but, of course, I’m not one of them. Do you have any idea how toxic that is?
KEEV: Still, sounds cool to me. You have the glam. I have the crap.
ONDA: I can’t believe you also bought into all this. You, of all men! You lived here, you should know.
KEEV: I had fun…
ONDA: That’s why you went back to Paris in 6 months!
KEEV: I got to write crazy pieces for that newspaper, L’anti-Americaine. It was fun. Here I couldn’t even claim unemployment. I had to stay in line, show up every week, even when it was snowing and it was minus 50 degrees outside, fill in yards of paperwork… They made it so hard, in the end I said fuck this, I don’t need the damn check! And that’s exactly what they wanted. Stealing was easier… It was another Bush recession, no one had jobs. I couldn’t even email the governor a complaint. There was no, “contact me link” on his website. I couldn’t stay in a “so-called-democratic-country” where I couldn’t complain to the governor, could I?
(He is laughing softly as if it’s the biggest absurdity on the planet)
ONDA: Are you sure they had the internet back then?
KEEV: And, the unemployment hot line didn’t have a single option to le you to speak to a human. They would just pass me from one human free menu to the next, hoping that in the end I was going to give up. I couldn’t live in such primitive country!
(While he gives this speech he pretends to be quite inflamed, but he always retains the elegance of someone who doesn’t really care).
ONDA (longingly): When I first met you were wearing that Commie factory robe…remember?
KEEV: Huh…Nope. But once a communist, always a communist.
ONDA: A rich communist.
KEEV: Honey, communism is a state of mind.
ONDA: What did you do in New York?
KEEV: I was driving a tour bus. Taking bribes from all the stores and pubs I stopped at to bring them clients. I made quite a bit of cash. (with the tone of a duke who is traveling incognito) But how long can you drive a bus?
ONDA: Whatever you touch you turn into cash. Even if it’s crap.
KEEV: Actually, I’m in the business of crap.
ONDA: What do you mean?
KEEV: I’m selling toilet bowls. That’s how I spend my days. I bamboozle people to take a look in the depths of my toilet bowls. I boondoggle and flimflam them into loving them, appreciate them and buy them! The perfect toilet bowl is more critical than a Picasso, Gucci or Jimmy Choo. You use it every day. You stare at it every day. You feel it every day. All the people who visit you see it. All the women you sleep with, see it, touch it, feel it, sniff it. The toilet bowl is the most important object you use. And the only thing in your life that actually has some depth. I explain to customers the whole philosophy of crap; The smoke and mirrors of filth, the deep significance of feces, the exuberance of gibberish and hogwash and hooey, the paradoxes of junk, the secret beauty of moonshine and poppycock, the fascination of rot…the sophistication of garbage, the highs of the crude, the splendor of the baloney…the dignity of the shit and the urgency of containing our bodily ruins in perfectly shaped toilet bowls. The most exquisite ones, the most expensive ones. Mine. I have a factory, and two stores, “The Art of Shitting”, and “The Artistic toilet”. That’s how close I got to art.
ONDA: Then why did you move back to Bucharest?
KEEV: I ask myself the same question everyday. There you’ll land some parts, get on the tube. But no glamour for me. I am going to die selling crap.
ONDA: No, you’re not.
KEEV: Of course not. I’m building a film studio on one of my properties. So keep your contacts at the talent agency. A movie in Bucharest costs about 50 times less. Well, maybe with me it’s going to be only 10 times less. But still…You’re in Europe. Not in India. The water is clean. You don’t need to take any vaccines when you go there. You can move into my townhouse in Bucharest. I’ll give you the attic. It’s ballroom size. I wouldn’t offend you with less.
ONDA: An old shabby townhouse attic! Go back to my childhood land…escape New York, escape myself, escape everything and hide in an attic…in your old house…that’s pretty tempting.
KEEV: We could stage plays and readings at night …
ONDA: And I’ll be waiting for you to come back from the casino and we’ll talk well into the early hours…
KEEV: You’ll tell me about plays. I’ll tell you about my fascination with “la soubrette”. Ever since I was a little boy I loved to sleep with the chambermaid, the nannies, the au pairs… I always loved to screw La Soubrette. Asked mom to hire only the prettiest ones. (Changes subjects) What are you waiting for?
ONDA: Is hard to just blow everything off. My friends, my nights out, the reservoir…my doormen, they’re like family, you know…
KEEV: You’ve graduated New York, haven’t you? (she nods) The same way I graduated fromles soubrettes. Sort of. Let’s go.
ONDA: I have to ship the boxes first.
KEEV: You don’t need seven pairs of under wears full of holes…you just need to move your ass…
ONDA: Did you miss me?
KEEV;(laughs uncomfortably) Bucharest or Paris? Make up your mind. I’m a busy man.
ONDA: Are you?
KEEV: I have a wife, kids, mistresses, soubrettes, chambermaids, pets. The whole nine yards…
ONDA: So you’re still married?
KEEV: She’s in Paris, I’m in Bucharest full time now. It’s been like this for a few years now.
ONDA: And…how are things?
KEEV: (uncomfortable) You know how the serious things are…pretty serious.
KEEV:(laughs uncomfortably) Come on, we’re going to hang out in Bucharest and pick up men and women…it will be fun…
ONDA: You said your answer was yes…
KEEV: I’m here, aren’t I? I’m all the way here, 7 thousands miles away.
ONDA: Seven years later. Seven thousand miles under the trouble sea? Waking me. Taking me. Things are supposed to be right. You’re supposed to be a nice man. You were supposed to come get me with no wife, no luggage, pure and clean, in a zeppelin.
KEEV: You’re right, I’m bad, I’m a creep. I’m the Marquis de Sade and Karl Marx all in one. But I haven’t killed anyone, have I?
ONDA: What a boring Villain…(blurts out)…I’m afraid to go back… I risk getting killed…you know, since Dan’s…
KEEV: You’re going to take the risk… I love a woman that’s fearless…You’re going to wake up and see all the pitch black stuff for what it is…and spit on it. You might end up a bag lady, but you’re going to be free…totally free. With me? Totally free, and forever.
ONDA: (Takes his bag with one hand, throws is on top of her pile of boxes) Let’s go eat.
KEEV: And then, my dear bag lady, we go find a bridge to sleep underneath… With all the beggars and the junkies…love those guys…
ONDA: And all the bums, the chiselers and the deadbeats
KEEV: and all the destitutes, the freeloaders and the hobos…
ONDA: and all the moochers, the muzzlers, the paupers, the panhandlers, the vagabonds and the tramps…
KEEV: We’ll all be one …with the ragbags, hand in hand with the rustlers, the scroungers, the spongers, the stiffs and the vagrants…
ONDA: And in the morning we’ll wake up and smell the rot…
KEEV: The admirable, amazing, astonishing, astounding, awe-inspiring, divine, rot!
ONDA: The extraordinary,
KEEV: The fabulous
ONDA: The fantastic,
KEEV: The groovy, the incredible,
ONDA: The magnificent, marvelous, phenomenal rot!
KEEV: The always exhilarating, sensational, staggering, superb rot!
ONDA: The ever surprising, terrific, wondrous rot!
KEEV: There’s so much poetry in all the dirt. When you get it, you stop being scared of it. You gotta grasp it, the lasciviousness of clay! The voluptuousness of feculence! All the amusement in filth! The gravity in putrescence! All the purity in the sleaze! The mystery in dust! The randomness in stains! There’s so much tenderness in decay.. so much ardor, so much closeness and care, so much warmth so much yen…
(He takes the same hand with tenderness…holds it, kisses it, then let’s go of her acting scared, laughs devilishly, grabs her and they both run away)
respiro@2000-2004 All rights reserved