Archive | April 2013

God

Почему Бога не любят очень сильненько? 

Почему Бога убивают очень больненько?

Почему Батюшку очень больненько?

Почему Инечьки так больненько и Товарюшьки очень больненько?

Очень больненько Инечьки… Мои Инечьки… очень больненько…

 

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Snow of Kilimanjaro – short story adopted into stage play by Inna Maria Swan

Swann

 

The Snow of Kilimanjaro

 

ACT

 

Scene

 

Darkness.

 

DEATH

Kilimanjaro is a snow covered mountain nineteen thousand seven hundred ten feet high and is said to be the highest mountain in Africa. Its western summit is called by the Masai “Ngaje Ngai”, the House of God. Close to the Western summit there is the dried and frozen carcass of a leopard. No one has explained what the leopard was seeking at that altitude.

 

Lights slowly go up

 

Early Afternoon. Autumn. Africa.

 

The revolving stage of a burned by the sun plane near the House of God is rotating slowly as the world turns.

 

On the left side of it a man is laying on the cot with his back to the audience.

 

On his left Molo is standing with a fan.

 

A woman dressed in hunting attire is sitting on a folding canvas chair on the right accross from him slowly sipping a drink from her glass. Small traveling table is between them set by the trunk of a wide shady mimosa tree.

 

It seems that the tree is the center around which the whole plane revolts.

 

On the table are several empty or near empty glasses from drinks and a book.

 

Under the table leaned against one of its legs is an empty bottle of Whiskey.

 

Upstage left three huge filthy birds with naked heads sunk in the hunched feathers squatted obsinely are watching the man from a distance, while a dozen more quick-moving shadows are passing above.

 

HE

The marvelous thing is that it’s painless. That’s how you know when it starts.

 

SHE

Is it really?

 

HE

Absolutely. I’m awfully sorry about the odor though. That must bother you.

 

SHE

Don’t! Please don’t.

 

HE

Look at them… Now is it sight or is it scent that brings them like that?

 

Woman turns and both of them observe the birds silently for a moment

 

HE

They’ve been there since the day the truck broke down. Today’s the first time any lit on the ground. I watched the way they sailed very carefully at first in case I ever wanted to use them in a story. That’s funny now.

 

SHE

I wish you wouldn’t.

 

HE

I’m only talking. It’s much easier if I talk. But I don’t want to bother you.

 

SHE

You know it doesn’t bother me. It’s that I’ve gotten so very nervous not being able to do anything. I think we might make it as easy as we can until plane comes.

 

 

HE

Or until the plane doesn’t come.

 

Silence

 

SHE

Please tell me what can I do. There must be something I can do.

 

HE

You can take the leg off and that might stop it, though I doubt it. Or you can shoot me. You are a good shot now. I taught you to shoot didn’t I?

 

SHE

Please don’t talk that way. Couldn’t I read to you?

 

HE

Read what?

 

SHE

Anything in the book bag that we haven’t read.

 

HE

I can’t listen to it. Talking is easiest. We quarrel and that makes the time past.

 

SHE

I don’t quarrel. I never want to quarrel. Let’s not quarrel any more. No matter how neurvous we get. Maybe they will be back with another truck today. Maybe the plane will come.

 

HE

I don’t want to move. There’s no sense in moving now except to make it easier for you.

 

SHE

That’s cowardly.

 

HE

Can’t you let a man die as comfortably as he can without calling him names? What’s use of slanging me?

 

SHE

You’re not going to die.

 

 

HE

Don’t be silly. I’m dying now. Ask those bastards.

 

Three birds grow animated as they see another one of their kind land and softly waddle to join them. Woman turns away from the birds. Takes a quick gulp of her drink.

 

SHE

They’re around every camp. You never noticed them. You can’t die if you don’t give up.

 

HE

Where did you read that? You’re such a bloody fool.

 

SHE

You might think about someone else.

 

by this time revolting stage turned enough for us to see the man for the first time. Exhausted by pain. Semi-drunk. In his mid fifties with strong featured face of a professional hunter. His beard, which he’s grown on the occasion of going hunting to Africa is uncared of for the past three days. His khaki shirt is unbuttoned on his chest showing gray chest hair. His right leg is bandaged up to his thigh.

 

HE

For Christ’s sake… That’s been my trade.

 

Long pause as man looks across the heat shimmer of the plain.

 

DEATH

He lay then and was quiet for a while looking across the heat shimmer of the plain to the edge of the bush. There were a few Tommies that showed minute and white against the yellow and, far off, he saw a herd of zebra, white against the green of the bush.

 

HE

This is a good camp…

 

SHE

Wouldn’t you like me to read?

 

Pause

 

SHE

There’s a breeze coming up.

 

HE

No thanks.

 

SHE

Maybe the truck will come.

 

HE

I don’t give a damn about the truck.

 

SHE

I do.

 

HE

You give a damn about so many things that I don’t.

 

SHE

Not so many.

 

HE

What about a drink?

 

SHE

It’s supposed to be bad for you. It said in Black’s to avoid all alcohol. You shouldn’t drink.

 

HE

(Shouts)

Molo!

 

Scene

 

HE

Molo!

 

Death dressed in a black hooded robe enters from USR acting as MOLO, a hired driver/servant

 

DEATH

(bowing subserviently)

 Yes Bwana.

 

HE

Bring whiskey-soda.

 

DEATH

Yes Bwana.

 

Woman waits till Molo leaves, then speaks

 

SHE

You shouldn’t. That’s what I mean by giving up. It says it’s bad for you.

 

HE

No. It’s good for me.

 

Death as Molo comes back with a drink. Sets it on the table. Then, sits comfortably on the sand near man’s cot.

 

DEATH

So, now it was all over. So now he would never have a chance to finish it.

 

HE

So this was the way it ended. In a bickering over a drink.

(Man takes a sip from his glass)

Since the gangrene started, I had no pain…

 

DEATH

And with the pain the horror had gone.

 

HE

And all I feel now is a great tiredness and anger that this

 

DEATH

That this was the end of it.

 

Pause

 

DEATH

(addressing the audience)

For this that now was coming, he had very little curiosity. For years it had obsessed him…

 

HE

But now it meant nothing in itself. It was strange how easy being tired enough made it.

 

Pause

 

HE

Now I would never write the things that I had saved to write…

 

DEATH

Until you knew enough to write them well?

 

BIRD #1

Well, you would not have to faile at trying to write them either.

 

BIRD #2

Maybe you could never write them?

 

BIRDS #3 AND #4

Maybe that was why you put them off and delayed at starting?

 

HE

Well… I would never know now…

 

DEATH

Well, you would never know now.

 

SHE

(who was looking at the man all this time lost in thoughts, holding her glass of whiskey-soda with ice melting away and biting her lip)

I wish we’d never come.

You never would have gotten anything like this in Paris. You always said you loved Paris. We could have stayed in Paris or gone anywhere.

I said I’d go anywhere you wanted.

(half to herself)

If you wanted to shoot we could have gone shooting in Hungary and been comfortable.

 

HE

Your bloody money.

 

BIRDS

(echoing)

Your bloody money. Your bloody money. Your bloody money.

 

SHE

That’s not fair. It was always yours as much as mine. I left everything and I went wherever you wanted to go and I’ve done what you wanted to do.

(fighting the tears, she turns aside)

But I wish we’d never come here.

 

HE

(enjoying to hurt her)

You said you loved it.

 

SHE

I did. When you were all right. But now I hate it. I don’t see why that had happen to your leg. What have we done to have that happen to us?

 

HE

(Pompously)

I suppose what I did was to forget to put iodine on it when I first scratched it. Then, I didn’t pay attention to it because I never infect. Then, later, when it got bad, it was probably using that weak carbolic solution when the other antiseptics ran out that paralyzed the minute blood vessels and started the gangrene

(he looks at her enjoying the game. Quietly sarcastic)

What else?

 

BIRDS

(echoing)

What else? What else? What else?

 

SHE

I don’t mean that.

 

HE

If we hired a good mechanic instead of a half baked kikuyu driver, he would have checked the oil and never burned out that bearing in the truck.

 

BIRDS

(echoing)

… a good mechanic … checked the oil … never burned out … never … kikuyu … kikuyu … Ha! Ha! Ha!

 

SHE

(understanding his game)

I don’t mean that.

 

HE

If you hadn’t left your people to take me on…

 

SHE

(cutting him off with growing emotion)

Why, I loved you. That’s not fair. I love you now. I’ll always love you. Don’t you love me?

 

HE

(after a beat — looking straight into her eyes)

No.

(softens a bit)

I don’t think so.

 

turns his eyes away

 

HE

I never have.

 

Silence

 

SHE

(flabbergasted)

Harry, what are you saying? You’re out of your head.

 

HE

(very calmly)

No. I haven’t any head to go out of.

 

SHE

(resolutely)

Don’t drink that.

(Seeing no reaction, woman tries it the other way around)

Darling, please don’t drink that.

(a shadow of response in him prompts her to speak further; notoriously)

We have to do everything we can.

 

HE

You do it. I’m tired.

 

He turns away. And his eyes catch a sight of the snow covered mountain Kilimanjaro. Ice and snow sparkle and glare on the freezing top of “House of God” and the merciless destroying-all heat down here – in the “House of Men”

 

HE

Molo! Bring whiskey-soda!

 

DEATH

Yes, Bwana.

 

Death slowly rises and glides off stage

 

Lights fade out on Woman. At the same time light grows stronger on the backdrop where majestic Kilimanjaro stands immovable and silent. Actors playing Birds take off the bird rags and throw them upstage inside out – the inside of their rags is white and now the rugs resemble heaps of snow.

 

Scene

 

Night.  Sound of train arriving. Headlights of the train cutting through.  Harry with soldier’s day pack on his shoulders stands on a busy Railway Station in Bulgaria. It’s Autumn of 1945.

 

Harry stands still watching luggage carriers, passengers and soldiers moving across, passing him as if he were invisible.

 

Change of decorations choreographed as busy rail station transforming into the railway station buffet: prop window “flies” down CS to “frame” the mountain; four male Birds as Soldiers bring on stage two tables and 10 chairs setting them onto revolting stage and sit at the far USL table; female Birds as Refugees walk with their suitcases to sit themselves at the second DSR table.

 

As the lights go up, we discover Harry standing in the Railway Station Buffet. He is taking the day pack off his shoulders and sits himself at the table joining four GIRLS and an OLD MAN. Four other Soldiers are seated at the second table playing cards and smoking. All are waiting for the train. Through the window are seen the peaks of the mountains. 

 

BIRD #1

(as the Old Man’s Secretary pointing at the mountain peaks)

Is it snow?

 

DEATH

(as the Old Man)

No, that’s not snow. It’s too early for snow.

 

BIRD #1

(to other Girls)

It’s too early for snow. No, you see.

 

BIRDS #2, #3 AND #4

(as other Girls, echoing)

It’s not snow. We were mistaken.

 

Girls freeze

 

Lights change. Stage revolts taking the Girls USL and bringing Soldiers’ table DSR. Spotlights on Harry and Old Man looking onto each other. Harry crosses to the window. Looks out onto the mountain. Lights up on the snow covered “House of God”. Snow begins to fall on the b.g.

 

HE

(crossing to the window)

But it was the snow all right. And Old Man sent them on into it when he evolved exchange of populations. And it was snow they tramped along in until they died that winter.

 

Lights fade on Old Man. Harry turns to the Soldiers observing them playing cards. Sounds of wind are HEARD.

 

Scene

 

Sounds of cheerful laughing. It’s Christmas day — Gauertal — (1945). As he speaks we HEAR b.g. sounds of horse carriages passing by. Sounds of footsteps walking on the snow.   

 

HE

(standing by the window)

It was snow too that fell all Christmas week that year up in the Gauertal, that year we lived in the woodcutter’s house with the big square porcelain stove that filled half the room, and we slept on mattresses filled with beech leaves.

 

O.S. Urgent but weak knock on the entrance door is heard. One of the Soldiers goes to open the door. Returns with Deserter.

 

BIRD #9

(enters SR as Deserter; his feet are bleeding)

Please help. The police is after me.

 

Harry and Soldiers help the deserter: washing his feet, bandaging them and giving him woolen socks. Sounds of knocking on the entrance door and the O.S. voices of gendarmes. The Deserter hurriedly let out through the back door SL as the Soldiers return to table shouting crude card game jokes pretending they’ve been playing cards all this time. One of the Soldiers goes SR to let the police in. The game stops as he comes back with 4 GENDARMES

 

AD LIB Soldiers talking to Gendarmes keeping them so that Deserter can escape.

 

Freeze all and fade out AD LIB into the sound of wind. Lights dim on the scene and come up stronger on Harry, still standing by the window.

 

HE

… And we gave him the woolen socks and kept gendarmes talking until the tracks had drifted over.

 

DEATH

But you had never written a line of that, nor of that week when you were snow-bound a week in the Madlener-haus that time in the blizzard.

(sound of wind grows louder)

 

Stage revolts bringing Soldiers’ table DS and Death’s table US, so that Death is looking at Harry through the window. Harry joints the gamblers – eight Birds transformed from four Soldiers and four Gendarmes into eight gamblers wearing wool sweaters of mountain skiers. Lights transform to a single smoking lanter. Fade off the rest of lights. Sounds of howling wind in the distance.

 

A blizzard rages outside. Main Cabin in the Mountain Ski Resort. Six card players, who’s been gambling non-stop for the past 10 hours, are smoking.  Herr Lent looses another round. Bank Holder wins again.

 

Death appears in this scene as Bank Holder. Harry appears in this scene as a friend of Herr Lent, the owner of the ski resort.

 

DEATH

(as Bank Holder; observing the bets placed)

The next bet plays 10 thousand Marks. Herr Lent, I don’t believe you have any money left. Please leave the table.

 

HERR LENT

(in a gambling rush)

I bid the season’s profit of my school.

 

Death looks hard into Herr Lents eyes.

 

DEATH

(after a beat)

I’ll have you to make it in writing.

 

Herr Lent writes a note and puts it on the heap of banknotes laying in front of Bank-Holder, who checks it and begins another round. ADD LIB another round of a game with all players growing quiet as they observe Herr Lent. As all open, Herr Lent looses again. He sits quiet and still for a moment watching Bank Holder collecting the bank, folding Herr Lent’s note and putting it in his inside pocket. All look at Herr Lent in silence.

 

BANK-HOLDER

Herr Lent, I insist you leave the table.

 

HERR LENT

Not now. I can win it all back.

 

BANK-HOLDER

Herr Lent, you’ve just lost all cash you’ve had, you’ve lost all your ski-school money AND the season’s profit. What else can you bet?

 

Herr Lent motions to Harry

 

HERR LENT

(giving him the keys)

Go to my office and bring me the brown box from the safe.

 

Harry motions “No” and refuses to take the keys

 

HERR LENT

(under his breath)

Damn it!

 

He gets up, leaves and comes back with the brown box. Sits, opens it and takes out the stock papers.

 

HERR LENT

(passing the stocks to Bank-Holder)

Here are the bonds worth of 100 thousand Marks.

(a beat as Bank-Holder looks at him)

Take it!

 

Bank-Holder slowly takes the bonds and examines them. Sounds of violent blows of wind are heard.

 

BANK-HOLDER

The next bet is 100 thousand.

 

Harry and other players leave the table leaving Herr Lent and Bank-Holder one on one. Harry stands by the window, watching Herr Lent in horror, and smokes.

 

BANK-HOLDER

The bets are placed.

 

He begins the round passing cards over the table. They play in utter silence. Herr Lent’s face brightens as he opens.

 

HERR LENT

“San Voir!”

 

As Bank Holder opens, Herr Lent’s face it grows pale and stiff. Bank Holder collects the bank.

 

Herr Lent slowly rises from the table and leaves the room. All are silent.

 

Bank Holder takes brown box and puts all his winnings into it. Then, he lights a cigar. No one moves or speaks.

 

All freeze as spot-light grows on Harry and Death.

 

HE

(standing by the window)

There was always gambling then.

 

DEATH

When there was no snow you gambled and where there was too much you gambled.

 

 

HE

So much time of my life spent gambling.

 

DEATH

But you had never written a line of that, nor of that …

 

O.S. sound of a gunshot. A moment, and O.S. Herr Lent’s dog howls in grief. Heads turn, but no one moves.

 

Red lights flash. Fade in sounds of explosions and machine-guns. Window and lantern “fly” up. Stage begins to rotate.

 

Chaos and more sounds of shooting and screams of wounded are heard. Birds are falling down dead. Spotlight on Death walking towards Harry through the hell of war, stepping over dead bodies.

 

DEATH

… You had never written of that cold, bright Christmas Day with the mountains showing across the plain that Barker had flown across the lines to bomb the Austrian officers’ leave train, machine-gunning them as they scattered and ran. Remember when Barker afterwards came into the mess and started telling about it? And how quiet it got and then somebody saying… 

 

HE

(To Death; sitting on his cot here in Africa)

“You bloody murderous bastard.”

 

DEATH

Those were the same Austrians you killed that you’ve skied with later…

 

HE

No not the same.

 

As following Death’s and Harry’s monologues overlap, the wild and chaotic carnival of war transforms into the sensual dance scene

 

DEATH

Hans that you skied with all that year, had been in the Kaiser-Jagers. Remember when you went hunting hares together up the little valley, you’ve talked of the fighting on Pasubio and of the attack on Pertica and Asalone and you had never written a word of that. Nor of Monte Corno, nor the Siete Commum, nor of Arsiedo.

 

HE

(trying to shut off war memories)

How many winters had I spent in the Voralberg and the Arlberg? It was four. And I remember the man who had the fox to sell when we walked into Bludenz that time to by presents, and the cherry-pit taste of good kirsch, the fast-slipping rush of running powder-snow on crust, singing “Hi! Ho! Said Rolly!” as we ran down the last stretch to the steep drop, taking it straight, then running the orchard in three turns and out across the ditch and onto the icy road behind the inn. Knocking your bindings loose, kicking the skies free and leaning them up against the wooden wall of the inn, where inside in the smoky new-wine smelling warmth, they were playing the accordeon.

 

Scene

 

Lights shift back to African setting. Woman is still sitting in her canvas chair as before. Birds are all as before USL squatting on the ground. Death, acting as Molo again, comes to the folding table and places before Harry the ominous whiskey-soda.

 

DEATH

(touching Harry on the shoulder)

Your whiskey-soda, Bwana.

 

Harry opens his eyes. Picks a drink and downs it all in one gulp. Hangs the empty glass back to Death silently requesting another one. Death bows and leaves.

 

HE

(after a beat)

Where did we stay in Paris?

 

SHE

(surprised)

At the Crillon. You know that.

 

HE

Why do I know that?

 

SHE

That’s where we always stayed.

 

HE

No. Not always.

 

SHE

There and at the Pavillion Henry-Quatre in St. Germain. You said you loved it there.

 

HE

Love is a dunghill. And I’m the cock that gets on it to crow.

 

SHE

If you have to go away, is it absolutely necessary to kill off everything you leave behind? I mean do you have to take away everything? Do you have to kill your horse, and your wife and burn your saddle and your armor?

 

HE

Yes. Your damned money was my armor. My Swift and my Armour.

 

SHE

Don’t.

 

HE

All right. I’ll stop that. I don’t want to hurt you.

 

SHE

It’s a little bit late now.

 

HE

All right then. I’ll go on hurting you. It’s more amusing. The only thing I ever really liked to do with you I can’t do now.

 

SHE

No, that’s not true. You liked to do many things and everything you wanted to do I did.

 

HE

Oh, for Christ sake stop bragging, will you?

 

As Harry turns to look at Woman, he sees that she’s crying.

 

HE

(gradually slipping into familiar lies of the gigolo he became)

Listen. Do you think that it is fun to do this?  I don’t know why I’m doing it. It’s trying to kill to keep yourself alive, I imagine. I was all right when we started talking. I didn’t mean to start this, and now I’m crazy as a coot and being as cruel to you as I can be. Don’t pay any attention, darling, to what I say. I love you, really. You know I love you. I’ve never loved any one else the way I love you.

 

Harry takes her hand and starts kissing it moving up her arm

 

SHE

(smiles; melts)

You’re sweet to me.

 

HE

(shaking off gigolo mask; honestly)

You bitch. You rich bitch.

 

Woman frees her hand and turns away

 

HE

That’s poetry. I’m full of poetry now. Rot and poetry. Rotten poetry.

 

SHE

Stop it.

 

Woman gets up as if to leave, then turns to him again.

 

SHE

(without emotion)

Why do you have to turn into a devil now?

 

HE

(without looking at her)

I don’t like to leave anything.

(smiles to himself)

I don’t like to leave things behind.

 

FADE OUT:

 

END OF ACT 1

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