Empty Bottles

By Oscar Sanz Cabrera

Translated by Matthew Ward

Volume 5, Issue 2 (Fall 2014)

The action of ‘Empty Bottles’ takes place in a squalid flat in the Sant Antoni area of Barcelona, but the play could be set in any other place. What I mean is that Sant Antoni is not an especially poor or problem area, rather, it is a central district of working class residents and trades people. That is the reason I situated the play there and did not want to locate it in the suburbs. The prologue of the edition published in Spain refers to the action taking place in the bosom of an ‘ultra lower class’ family. To be more precise I would say that there exists a kind of limbo, or rather a kind of purgatory, between a lower class and an ultra lower class. In that place any false step may plunge you irretrievably into the abyss. And it is there, in that purgatory, where the members of this family are truly to be found.

When you are born into what is considered a lower class you live with the latent presence of that abyss, of that purgatory. That omnipotence can plunge you into a grey acceptance of your precarious existence or, on the contrary, it can serve as a powerful incentive to leave it behind. As an author I am interested in characters that live in that purgatory. This is where we find the true heroes. The most dreadful dramas and the cruellest, and by definition, the funniest comedies. ‘Empty Bottles’ is a cocktail of those two extremes.

— Oscar Sanz Cabrera

I worked very closely with Oscar at all stages of translating ‘Empty Bottles’, which I believe greatly helped me to capture the spirit and richness of the original work. The play is translated into what I would call a ‘rough and tough’ London English, which I felt was the closest equivalent to the colourful language and ribald humour of the Barcelona residents that make up the cast of Oscar’s characters. I have striven to capture the colloquial nature of the characters’ speech, their jokes, their irony and wordplay but without making them too ‘cockney’. I did not want to risk an audience stopping to ask themselves whether someone from Barcelona would ever use such and such an expression and thus being distracted from the play itself

— Matthew Ward

Oscar Sanz Cabrera: Playwright, director and screenwriter. In 2008 Oscar wrote and directed his first play ‘La Partida’, for which he was awarded two of the three main prizes at the 13a Mostra de Teatre de Barcelona; the ‘Special Jury Award’ and the ‘Public’s Award for Best Show’. In 2009 ‘La Partida’ ran for seasons in Barcelona and in Madrid, which were extended on two occasions. The play was published in 2011 by the University of Lérida. In the same year it was translated into Italian and was premiered at the Teatro del Trastévere in Rome. Oscar’s second play ‘De la Misma Pasta’ won the ‘Premio Kutxa Ciudad de San Sebastián’ in 2012 and was published by the Alberdania publishing house. ‘De la Misma Pasta’ has been translated into English under the title of ‘Empty Bottles’. In 2013 Oscar wrote and co-directed his third play ‘Paquito (Lágrimas, Mocos y Sangre)’. It was premiered in March 2014 at the Off del Teatro Lara in Madrid, where it will be staged again in the autumn. In addition to the three plays already mentioned, Oscar has also written ‘El Último Mordisco’ and ‘El Pastor Lobo’. He is currently finishing his first full length screenplay ‘Protegido’.

Matthew Ward, translator, has lived in various parts of Spain on and off for over twenty years. During that time he has worked as a translator, interpreter and proof-reader on a freelance basis, in addition to teaching English and doing office and agricultural work. He has a BA in Spanish and Latin American Studies from Birkbeck College, University of London, and has also written a number of screenplays in English and in Spanish. He is currently living and working in a cooperative in the mountains of Catalonia, northeast Spain, and is translating another play by Oscar Sanz.

 

Empty bottles

Kutxa Prize, City of San Sebastián 2012

CHARACTERS

LUCAS, son. 40 years old

LUISA, mother. 62 years old

MARÍA, daughter. 25 years old

ESTEBAN, eldest son*. 44 years old

 

Autumn.  An old and dreary flat in the Sant Antoni area of Barcelona.

A spacious kitchen-diner occupies the whole stage.

The walls are stained with damp and there are exposed electrical cables.

At the back and on the right there are the usual kitchen appliances, cooker, sink, fridge, cupboards and shelves. Everything is old and coated in oil and grease.

From the wall behind, a hallway leads to the front door on the right, and on the left to a passage leading to the bathroom and the bedrooms.

Off the hallway we can only see a coat hanger on the wall with the odd jacket and an umbrella.

In the centre are a table and three chairs.

On one side up against the wall are a couple of chairs piled high with dirty and crumpled clothes. On the other side stands a bookshelf packed with old books.

The third scene takes place in a hospital room.

*It is important that the character of Esteban does not have an overly effeminate manner.

Note: On occasions the characters interrupt each other or begin to speak before the other has finished their reply. These interruptions will be marked with a series of full stops at the end and the start of the interrupted dialogue. For example:

LUCAS: Mum loves me as I am…

ESTEBAN: That’s what I can’t understand.

LUCAS: … and that’s why I’ve come back again.

 

1.

First day, in the afternoon. LUCAS, 40 years old. He has a week’s stubble and is barefoot and wearing a moth-eaten vest and threadbare cotton underpants.  He is sitting on a chair with an empty bottle in his hand. His mother, LUISA, 60 years old, enters. Her hair is clumsily tied leaving several stands loose. She is wearing an old knee-length coat and underneath it a stained kitchen apron over a nightdress. She is carrying several plastic bags. She walks with difficulty. LUCAS appears not to see her.

LUISA: Can’t you see there’s none left you wretch?

LUCAS: Where were you?

LUISA: I’m not buying you any more.

LUCAS: Where’ve you been?

LUISA: Unless you have a bath there won’t be any more booze in this house.

LUCAS: Have you been shopping?

LUISA: Since when have you been interested in what I do? And I’m not talking about when I’m cooking.

LUCAS: I’m not hungry. Have you been to see her?

LUISA: Of course you’re not hungry, you haven’t eaten a thing for two days. It’s normal.

LUCAS: You’ve been to see her, haven’t you?

LUISA: If you don´t eat your stomach closes up.

LUCAS: Answer me!

LUISA: I don´t have to tell you anything.

LUCAS: I knew it, you’ve been to see her. It´s obvious, I can tell.

LUISA: Is that right?

LUCAS: Yes, I can tell by her rat’s smell.

LUISA: Talking of smells do me a favour and have a bath for God´s sake.

LUCAS: You´ve seen her, haven’t you?

LUISA: Even if it´s only a quick shower. I´m sure you´ll feel better at least a little cleaner.

LUCAS: I´ll never be clean if you don´t stop going to visit her.

LUISA: Listen your lordship I´ll tell you something. Nobody’s got the right to tell me where I must and mustn’t go. Understand? She´s my granddaughter, you bloody drunkard. I´ll give you a kick in the liver if you start ordering me about again. You got that? And go have a shower for fuck´s sake. You´re disgusting.

LUCAS: She doesn´t need anything from you. She doesn´t need anything from anyone. She´s a rat and rats know how to survive on their own.

LUISA: Look what I´ve got (takes out a bottle from one of the plastic bags).

LUCAS: Give it here.

LUISA: Give it here? Is that how you ask for something?

LUCAS: You love torturing me!

LUISA: You´ve seen it, haven’t you? Well I´m not even going to give you the cork.

LUCAS: Why are you doing this to me?

LUISA: Not a drop not a miserable drop. Not until you have shower.

LUCAS: Fuck off.

LUISA: Fuck off yourself.

LUISA takes off her coat and leaves it on the hanger.

LUCAS: What did she say?

LUISA: Not a bit of shame! After eight years without seeing her…

LUCAS: That´s a lie I´ve seen her. At a distance at her mother’s funeral, at her bitch of a mother´s funeral.

LUISA: Shut it you wretch! You´re nothing more than a sack of worms. Not a thought of her in eight years and only then to insult her and…

LUCAS: What the hell did she say?

LUISA: So now you’re interested what your daughter has to say?

Short pause.

LUCAS: No.

LUISA: So come on, the shower. Your sister´ll be here in a minute.

LUCAS: Oh yeah? (Crosses his arms and puts his feet on the table) Well, good-o.

LUISA: Look son if you don´t want to have a shower don´t have a shower. It´s all the same to me but at least do me the favour of putting on a shirt and trousers. I don´t want your sister seeing you like that. Do me that favour.

LUCAS: Give me a drink and your wishes will be my commands.

LUISA: If I give you a drink will you have a shower?

LUCAS: I´ll be a good boy.

LUISA: You sure?

LUCAS: Of course. Don´t you trust anyone?

LUISA: Not even my own shadow.

LUCAS: Relax your shadow doesn´t trust you either.

LUISA: Alright, I´ll give you just a little.

LUCAS: That´s right a drop of petrol and the little car will be on its way.

LUISA: Here.

LUCAS: A drop more.

LUISA: No, with what I´ve given you you’ve enough to reach the bathroom. After you’ve had a shower I´ll give you as much as you like.

LUCAS: Don´t make promises that you´re not going to keep.

LUISA: Shut up you wretch!

LUCAS knocks back the brandy his mother has given him. He gets up and walks towards the bathroom.

LUCAS: I´ll be right back. Pour me another one, I won´t be long dear.

LUCAS enters the bathroom and closes the door.

LUISA: Use the yellow towel! It´s already dirty and ready for the wash.

LUISA touches her forehead with her hand and closes her eyes a moment. She sits down and she pours herself a little brandy and knocks it back it one. The front door bell rings.

LUISA: It´s open.

MARÍA, 25 years old, enters.

MARÍA: Why are you always leaving the door open?

LUISA: To let a little air in.

MARÍA: Hello.

LUISA: Hello sweetie you´re so early! I still haven’t had time to make lunch.

MARÍA: Not to worry, I´ve already eaten. Anyway, it´s four o’clock.

LUISA: I know it´s four. Are you going to start criticising me?

MARÍA: If it´s not a good time I’ll be off.

LUISA: Come here silly. Give your mum a kiss.

MARÍA gives her a peck on the cheek and looks at the bottle.

MARÍA: I see you haven´t changed your perfume.

LUISA: And tell me, how’s work?

MARÍA: Fine, I´m fine.

LUISA: They haven’t sacked you at the cake shop.

MARÍA: I said I´m fine.

LUISA: Look what a figure she´s got! Shame you haven’t got a bosom. Me at your age I was just as good-looking but with more bosom. Don´t pull a face, do you think I was born looking like this? No sweetie no. You´ll end up like this as well so make the most of it while you can before the veins start climbing up your legs.  Don’t you want me to make you something to eat? Come on sit down.

MARÍA: Mum I´ve got something I have to tell you.

LUISA picks up the bottle and pours herself a drink.

LUISA: Sit down sweetie and make yourself at home. That´s it. Do you fancy a drink? I mean something else, water, milk… well I don´t have any milk. Would you like me to pop out and buy you some juice?

MARÍA: I don´t want anything. Don´t bother, there’s no need. I don´t want anything.

LUISA: Not even a little water?

MARÍA: OK, a little water.

LUISA: It’ll have to be from the tap.

MARÍA: From the tap is fine.

LUISA: Wait a moment, I´m going to wash a glass. Where the fuck is the scouring pad?

MARÍA: It doesn´t matter I´m not thirsty.

LUISA: No it can´t have gone far.

MARÍA: Honestly mum I don´t want anything.

LUISA stops searching and fills one of the dirty glasses and sits down. She takes out a bottle of pills from her pocket. She opens it and she pops a couple into her mouth and drinks the glass she has filled. She makes a grimace of disgust.

MARÍA: What are you taking?

LUISA: Calm down. They´re for my head though I don´t know why the hell I take them. They don´t do anything. My head’s been splitting for a week. What about you? Have you got a boyfriend or something?

MARÍA: Do you want me to go out the way I came in?

LUISA: Calm down sweetie and relax. When I say boyfriend I mean to say if you´re with someone who cares about you. Even if she´s a tart. That’s the only thing that matters that they care about you. I don´t like you being on your own.

MARÍA: I am on my own mum. I´ve always been on my own.

LUISA (Pours herself a drink): So you´re not going to have anything?

MARÍA: Any news of Lucas?

LUISA: I like you asking about him.

MARÍA: How’s he getting along?

LUISA: Fine, really fine. You´ll see for yourself in a minute.

MARÍA gets to her feet.

LUISA: Sit down and calm down. He´s having a shower.

MARÍA: You didn´t tell me he was here.

LUISA: He’ll be very pleased to see you.

MARÍA: Why didn´t you warn me he was at home?

LUISA: You didn´t ask me sweetie. Sit down and calm down.

MARÍA: When did he come back?

LUISA: He´s having a shower. When I told him you were coming he went to spruce himself up.

LUISA takes a swig. MARÍA hesitates a moment and sits down.

MARÍA: How is he?

LUISA: Better, much better. He has his days but he´s better. What he needs is a job. Hey you couldn’t get him in where you are?

MARÍA: Are you mad or are you back on the pills?

LUISA: Why sweetie anyone would think.

MARÍA: Tell me the truth, can you imagine Lucas selling cakes in a cake shop?

LUISA: Sweetie as a shop assistant no but I´m sure you need someone to scare the flies away or take out the rubbish and that kind of thing.

MARÍA: I came to tell you something.

LUISA (Standing up): OK sweetie OK. You can be really snappy when you want to be. You´re like your father, may he rest in peace.

MARÍA: Do you reckon he deserves to?

LUISA: He deserves what?

MARÍA: It doesn´t matter. Sit down. Please.

LUISA: OK OK I´ll sit down, I´ll sit down.

MARÍA: Look mum you know I´ve never asked you for anything…

LUCAS comes out of the bathroom with his hair wet and uncombed. He is barefoot and is wearing dark trousers with braces and the same vest as before.

LUCAS: Well look who’s here, my dearest sister.

MARÍA: Hello.

LUCAS: Mum, the bottle.

LUISA: Give your sister a kiss, won´t you?

LUCAS: You promised that you’d give me the bottle if I had a shower!

LUISA: Take it you brute!

MARÍA: I think I´ll be off, OK? I´ll come back another day.

LUISA: No María darling sit down and don´t pay him any mind. You know what he´s like. (Moves towards the hallway) I´ll be back in a minute. I´m going to look for something to eat. It´s been ages since we all had lunch together all three of us… I´m going to make a potato omelette.

MARÍA: Mum please don´t bother I´ve already eaten and it´s five o’clock. I have to go. I´ve got to talk to you please mum.

LUISA (Putting on her coat): Back in a minute.

LUISA exits.

LUCAS: Bring some beer!

Silence

LUCAS: Don´t think that I´m not happy to see you, eh?

MARÍA: You say such sweet things. You´ve always been a poet. .

LUCAS: I mean what I say. You´re looking good. It´s a shame you´re a dyke.

MARÍA: What are you doing here? Aren´t you ashamed of yourself?

LUCAS: I´m in my home. I was running around here before you were born, a long time before. So it should be me asking you what the fuck you´re doing here.

MARÍA (Standing up): I´m off. Tell mum that I´ll pop in another day, I don´t know… I´ll talk to her another time, OK? (Moves towards the hallway).

LUCAS: You leaving already?  Well, that’s fine. Don´t think I´m going to stop you. You can throw yourself out the window for all I care. Come to think of it if you´re in such a hurry it’ll be the quickest way down.

LUCAS laughs to himself at his own joke. MARÍA stops turns around slowly and returns to the table.

MARÍA: How is your daughter?

LUCAS: What?

MARÍA: Your daughter.

LUCAS: Fuck off!

MARÍA: Mum says she´s doing really well at college.

LUCAS: I haven’t got a daughter.

MARÍA: You´re right you haven’t. You had one but now you haven’t. You´ve got nothing left.

LUCAS: You´re wrong! I’ve got a bottle and a thumping headache. You haven’t got any painkillers, have you?

MARÍA: You’re pathetic.

LUCAS: Sit down for fuck´s sake! The one day we see each other. Bloody hell! You´re so uptight your arse squeaks! Do you fancy a drop?

MARÍA appears to laugh. She sits down reluctantly.

LUCAS: And to what do we owe the pleasure of your visit?

MARÍA: Nothing, I just wanted to see mum.

LUCAS: Well mission accomplished, no? Now you’ve seen her.

MARÍA: I’ve got… a matter I need to talk to her about.

LUCAS (Pours himself a drink): A matter hum… sounds mysterious. You want some?

MARÍA: The only mystery is how you can keep on drinking without your liver exploding.

LUCAS: Our family is made of iron. Rusty and twisted maybe but pure iron.

MARÍA: Yeah and how are things with Esteban?

LUCAS: How’s it going to be with him… the lucky-arse? He´s got no worries. He gets paid every month… with his boyfriend the cobbler.

MARÍA: Is he still seeing Mr Tomás?

LUCAS: Like two lovebirds. I´m sure they’ll be celebrating their silver wedding anniversary soon.

MARÍA: But the old boy must be getting on a bit, isn´t he?

LUCAS: Yes, I don´t know.

MARÍA: Has he still got the heel bar?

LUCAS: No way, he retired. It seems he wants to go back to his village in Camona and wait for it… he´s asked Esteban to go and live with him.

MARÍA: Well, that’s what he should do.

LUCAS: But he won’t. Esteban is a ladies man he can’t leave mum. It´s like he´s still got his fucking umbilical cord.

MARÍA: And is he still at the Sant Antoni market?

LUCAS: Of course. What else is he going to do?

MARÍA: True enough. I forgot that ´he doesn´t drink´.

LUCAS: He spends the day looking for old books in rubbish bins or with his little chums at the Arenas cinema. You know how much he´s always liked the cinema though he spends half the film with his head between his legs… I mean someone else’s legs.

MARÍA: What’s he got to say about you being back here?

LUCAS: What´s he going to say? Not a peep.

MARÍA: I only ask because he was running around this place a long time before you were born.

LUCAS: What a bitch! You’re a sharp one eh? I’ve always thought you got the best of the genes.

MARÍA: Compared to you that is obviously the case.

LUCAS: Maybe sperm is like wine it gets better with age.

MARÍA: That’ll be it.

LUCAS: Then it’s clear that Esteban prefers a young wine.

LUCAS roars with laughter. MARÍA cannot contain herself and joins in. The door opens and ESTEBAN enters. He is wearing brown horn-rimmed glasses and trousers hitched right up to his navel, which reveal his socks, a shirt buttoned to the collar and a woollen waistcoat with buttons. His hair is dirty and oily with a side parting and the crown is an unruly mess. He has a pile of books under his arm and a rolled-up newspaper in his hand. He launches himself towards LUCAS. He does not see MARÍA.

LUCAS: Look who we have here, the ´wine taster´.

ESTEBAN: Where are the comics I left under my bed?

LUCAS: Aren´t you going to say anything to your sister?

ESTEBAN: Tell me where are the comics I left under my bed? Hello María.

MARÍA: Hello.

LUCAS: Don´t be unsociable. Aren’t you going to give her a kiss?

ESTEBAN: I want you to give me back the comics. Now!

LUCAS: But what comics? What a fuss come on sit down and don´t be rude to the guest.

MARÍA (To Esteban): How’re things with you?

ESTEBAN: Fine.

LUCAS: They´re fine.

ESTEBAN: They were under my bed all in a parcel. Thirty-five issues of the first edition of Flash Gordon from one to thirty-five. The first set and in perfect condition. Please, I´m asking you to give them back.

LUCAS: Do me a favour and shut up my head’s going to explode. What´s more it wasn´t me. Come on, get me a painkiller mate.

ESTEBAN: I’ve got a buyer.

LUCAS: I’m sure you’ll find them again. Don´t panic, you always do.

MARÍA: Alright boys, I´m off.

ESTEBAN: I won’t find those they’re unique.

LUCAS: Is that right?

ESTEBAN: And much sought after.

MARÍA: Tell mum I´ll come round another time (moves towards the door).

LUCAS: And how much might those comics be worth? I mean if a bookseller like you wanted to buy them. How much would they cost?

ESTEBAN: A collector would pay, if they´re in good condition, which they are, about five hundred Euros.

LUCAS: Never.

ESTEBAN: Maybe more. A bookseller could pay two hundred or even three hundred if he has a buyer like I have.

LUCAS: And they´re as good as sold?

MARÍA exits. LUCAS and ESTEBAN do not even notice.

ESTEBAN: That´s right. Five hundred Euros. I´m going to lose five hundred Euros.

LUCAS: Bastard. (To Esteban) I´m going to help you look for them.

ESTEBAN: Oh yes?

LUCAS: I promise.

ESTEBAN: And where do you propose looking?

LUCAS: I don´t know but if you´re prepared to pay me a small reward I´ll bring them to you. I mean if I find them of course.

ESTEBAN: It was you, you bastard!

ESTEBAN approaches LUCAS threateningly. LUCAS stands up and begins to slowly circle the table.

ESTEBAN: It was you, I know it!

LUCAS: Don´t shout, I´ve got a headache.

ESTEBAN: I´ll kill you, you drunken shit. I´ll kill you I swear. One day when you´re sleeping it off with your mouth wide open, I´ll empty a bottle of sulphuric acid into your filthy gob. Your teeth will be all dazzling white and not a trace of plaque.

LUCAS: You haven’t got the balls shirt-lifter.

ESTEBAN leaps over the table and grabs LUCAS by the throat.

LUCAS: Get off me you filthy slag!

They engage in a pathetic struggle. ESTEBAN has LUCAS by his throat and his face. LUCAS bites ESTEBAN´S finger and breaks free. ESTEBAN shouts in an exaggerated manner.

LUCAS: Come here and I´ll bite your ear off!

ESTEBAN: You’ve broken my finger!

LUCAS: I can’t have broken it, it’s not even bleeding.

ESTEBAN: I can’t move it.

LUCAS: You started it.

ESTEBAN: I´ll have to go to hospital.

LUCAS: You haven’t given me an answer. If I find them will you give me reward?

ESTEBAN: Yes I’ll fucking give you something. Of course I´ll give you something.

LUCAS moves towards the pile of clothes on one of the chairs. He picks up a crumpled shirt, smells it and puts it on.

LUCAS: This is no time for vagueness Esteban. It is time for specifics. (Buttons up the shirt) How much will I get?

ESTEBAN: A hundred.

LUCAS: That’s profiteering.

LUCAS picks up some boots without laces and starts to put them on. LUISA enters with a bag of potatoes.

LUISA: Where’s my little girl?

ESTEBAN: OK, a hundred and twenty-five.

LUISA: María?

LUCAS: Alright, a hundred and fifty. I´ll go now.

LUCAS picks up a jacket and exits, he still has a boot in his hand. LUISA leaves the bag of potatoes in the kitchen.

ESTEBAN: Bastard.

LUISA: Where’s he off to?

ESTEBAN: He’s broken my finger.

LUISA: And María has she gone as well?

ESTEBAN: It hurts. I can´t move it.

LUISA opens the fridge.

LUISA: I was going to make an omelette but they’ve gone. Oh just as well, there aren´t any eggs left.

ESTEBAN: Why did you let him come back here again?

LUISA: You´re brothers and you know I don´t like you talking like that.

ESTEBAN: He only comes here when he wants something. He´s a vampire, don´t you realise?

LUISA: Of course I realise. Do you think I´m an idiot? Let´s have a look at that hand. Just so you understand, there’s nothing nicer for a mother than to be able to look after her children. There’s nothing wrong with it.

ESTEBAN: He bit me! He almost took my finger off!

LUISA: I don´t like you two fighting.

ESTEBAN: He´s stolen a collection of comics that I´ve sold. Well sold no but almost. I´ll sell them soon. It´s a great batch and they´re mine and he´s stolen them.

LUISA: Well these things have a solution Esteban…

ESTEBAN: He´s stolen them!

LUISA: … you only have to worry about the things that don´t. The rest doesn´t matter.

ESTEBAN: But mum…

LUISA: Shhh remember my boy, the rest doesn´t matter.

LUISA caresses his head as if she were combing him. ESTEBAN sits and leans against her breast and closes his eyes. LUISA seems to hum a lullaby. ESTEBAN abruptly removes his head and gets up and angrily walks towards his bedroom. LUISA watches with indifference as he moves away. She walks towards the kitchen while she continues humming the lullaby.

 

2.

Second day, in the morning. ESTEBAN sits with his hand clumsily bandaged reading a newspaper. LUCAS emerges from his room barefoot and wearing the same vest and underpants as in the first act. He opens a cupboard then another. He finds an empty bottle of brandy and examines it.

LUCAS: And mum?

ESTEBAN: Working.

LUCAS: What a woman! She never stops.

ESTEBAN: By the way, did María say anything to you yesterday?

LUCAS: No well yes but I don´t remember.

ESTEBAN: I don´t know what the hell she wants in such a hurry but she´s called and she says she’ll be round and that she´s got to talk to mum. Someone else who only comes here when they want something.

LUCAS: Don´t get jealous you’ll always be her favourite.

ESTEBAN: Yes, her favourite.

LUCAS: You´re the apple of her eye. Anyway she only wants to talk about ´a matter´.

ESTEBAN: A matter?

LUCAS: That´s what she said: “I’ve got a matter I need to talk to her about”.

ESTEBAN: I don´t trust that butch cow. I’m sure she’s after something. She didn´t tell you anything?

LUCAS: Yes, she told me… she had a matter she wanted to talk to her about.

ESTEBAN: Forget it, it doesn´t matter (returns to his newspaper).

LUCAS: Eh, do you know where mum hides her medicine?

ESTEBAN does not pay him any attention and reads.

LUCAS: You know I won´t give you a minute’s peace until you tell me.

ESTEBAN (Still reading): Under the sink and with a bit of luck you´ll confuse it with the bleach.

LUCAS: Here it is.

ESTEBAN: Leave her a little for when she gets back. If you don´t she’ll be like a scalded cat.

LUCAS: How’s your hand?

ESTEBAN: Bad really bad. A little better than yesterday but bad.

LUCAS: It´s just that I got a little agitated.

ESTEBAN: A little agitated! You almost tore my finger off!

LUCAS: I´m saying sorry for fuck´s sake! Or can´t you see that? You like it when someone grovels at your feet. If you don´t control your fucking pride your heart is going to end up full of pus.

ESTEBAN: What do you know about the comics?

LUCAS: I´m on to it. We´ll have some news soon partner. What do you reckon María wanted? I mean do you think she came here because of mum´s money?

ESTEBAN: Money?

LUCAS: Yes money.

ESTEBAN: What money?

LUCAS: Come on, don´t act the retard. You´re enough of one as it is.

ESTEBAN: But what money?

LUCAS: Mum earns a wage and you earn a wage. She´s still working like a dog and you live in fucking squalor. Don´t tell me what money! Don´t fuck with me Esteban we´re having a quiet little chat!

ESTEBAN: So that´s why you’ve come, isn´t it? Well you can shove off hyena. A hyena, that´s what you are.

LUCAS: A hyena?

ESTEBAN: That money if there was any. I repeat if there was any, would be, and I stress, would be, ours. It´s mum´s and mine. If there was any.

LUCAS: If there was any, if there was any…? If I´d known I would have strangled you when we were still kids. Like this, just playing. No one would have suspected.

The telephone rings.

LUCAS: Saved by the bell laddie.

ESTEBAN: (To telephone) Yes? (…) Yes, I´m her son. What’s happened? (…) (Worried) When? (…) We´re coming now. (Hangs up) It was the hospital. Mum’s been taken in. We´ll get a taxi. Come on! ´

LUCAS: Eh… it´s just… Look you go so meanwhile I’ll take a shower and… I… it´s better I stay… and tidy up all this a little.

ESTEBAN: You´re right, better you don´t come. I don´t know what I was thinking.

ESTEBAN exits hurriedly.

LUCAS: Say hello from me! (smiles, picks up the bottle and pours himself a drink) And from the genie.

 

3.

An hour later. A hospital room. LUISA is in bed completely sedated. She has been put on a drip. Beside her is MARÍA. MARÍA touches LUISA´S hand and her hair.

MARÍA: Think it over. You don´t have to give an answer now but just picture it. Getting up in the morning and looking out the window and being in your village. In the village where you were born. Pure mountain air and walks in the meadows… just picture it.

LUISA: I don´t know sweetie, after all this time.

MARÍA: It´s always been your dream.

LUISA: Yes, has it?

MARÍA: Of course, you’ve always said so. Just picture it. Just you and me in your village in a lovely little new house they’ve built where the chemist was. You remember? You wait to you see it. It´s a chance we can´t let go by. Besides, the house is really near the station. If you want to come to the city to see them you´ll be able to. You´re not going to be cut off.

LUISA: It sounds all so lovely but I don´t know.

MARÍA: What is it you don´t know?

LUISA: I don´t know if I want it to stop being a dream. Dreams are perfect and life isn´t.

MARÍA: But what have they been telling you? You´re talking like a nun. Are you OK? Listen, it´s better we talk when the tranquilisers have worn off. I just want you to think about the possibility of leaving that tip where you live and leading a better life, just you and me. You deserve it, we deserve it. You can´t keep looking after those two. They´re two men, two adults. You have to let them live their own lives. You deserve a rest.

LUISA: Yes, do I?

MARÍA: Of course you do. Rest and think it over and we´ll talk, OK?

ESTEBAN enters, he gives the impression that he has been listening for some time.

LUISA: Look who’s come.

MARÍA: Hello.

ESTEBAN: What´s happened?

LUISA: I´m fine son. Mum´s fine and you don´t have to worry.

ESTEBAN: But what happened?

MARÍA: She came over faint at work and lost consciousness and she took an hour to come round. They´re carrying out tests. We´ll have the results this afternoon.

ESTEBAN: When are you coming home?

MARÍA: I´ve just told you, they´re carrying out tests and…

ESTEBAN: I wasn´t talking to you.

LUISA: Soon Esteban soon. What about Lucas?

ESTEBAN: Well, he was going to come but he… he wasn’t able to you know. He´s… he´s stayed behind cleaning.

LUISA: Cleaning?

ESTEBAN: Yes. When the hospital called me he was in the middle of cleaning. Well, we were both cleaning the flat a little.

MARÍA: Well don´t take your eye off him because the last time Lucas cleaned the flat he took everything including the fridge. Don´t you remember mum when we went to visit Auntie Flora? We got back to find that he hadn’t even left the skirting boards.

LUISA: But that was years ago you were still a child. I don´t know how you can remember.

MARÍA: He stole my radio-cassette, my textbooks and my skates. How can I ever forget?

LUISA: That´s water under the bridge, sweetie.

ESTEBAN: Mum. I want to tell you that we are very worried about your health and we miss you a lot and we want you to come home to look after you.

MARÍA: You…! But she only left the house less than four hours ago!

LUISA: I know son, I miss you too. Mum´ll be back soon. Don´t you worry.

ESTEBAN: We´re also going to clean the kitchen.

LUISA: There’s no need, don´t you worry.

ESTEBAN (Takes her hand): We´re going to look after you a lot. A lot.

ESTEBAN repeatedly kisses the hand. LUISA caresses his hair. MARÍA is annoyed.

 

4.

Third day. Midday. The two brothers are in the dining room. ESTEBAN still has a bandage on his hand. LUCAS is seated at the table. He is barefoot and wearing the same trousers with braces.

LUCAS: She said that?

ESTEBAN: Like I told you she said: “You can´t keep looking after those two”.

LUCAS: Those two?

ESTEBAN: Exactly and with contempt. And later she said: “They are two men. You have to let them live their lives”.

LUCAS: Live their lives?

ESTEBAN: That´s right: “Live their lives” and later to top it all the little bitch says to her: “You deserve a rest”.

LUCAS: A rest.

ESTEBAN takes out a bottle from under the sink and picks up a glass.

ESTEBAN: Fancy a drink?

LUCAS: Thanks Esteban, I´ll have a little.

ESTEBAN: Here.

ESTEBAN amicably pours LUCAS a drink. LUCAS drinks. 

ESTEBAN: María´s come to take it all. We can´t allow it.

LUCAS: No, no we can´t.

ESTEBAN: We can´t let her take what belongs to us. To you and to me. To the both of us. She left.

LUCAS: You´re right, she left.

ESTEBAN: That´s it and so she hasn’t any right to claim anything.

LUCAS: No she doesn´t.

ESTEBAN: Exactly, she doesn´t.

LUCAS: Everything will be for us two, right?

ESTEBAN: Well of course brother. Everything.

LUCAS: And the flat as well?

ESTEBAN: The flat?… Well… well of course everything. That´s what I´ve been telling you. A drop more?

LUCAS holds his glass closer. ESTEBAN fills it obligingly. LUCAS drinks.

LUCAS: So we´re together in this, are we not?

ESTEBAN: That´s it, together until the end. You need me and I need you. We´re a team.

LUCAS: A team?

ESTEBAN: That´s it a team.

LUCAS: Sounds good.

Pause. ESTEBAN fills LUCAS´ glass again.

LUCAS: Does it still feel stiff?

ESTEBAN: Eh?

LUCAS: Your hand. God damn it, your hand.

ESTEBAN: Ah…

LUCAS: What were you thinking? That at my age I’m going to start camping it up?

ESTEBAN: Fine just fine. Not completely but fine.

LUCAS: Didn´t I tell you I was sorry?

ESTEBAN: Yes more or less, why?

LUCAS: In case I´d forgotten to tell you.

ESTEBAN: Yeah listen and…

LUCAS drinks, ESTEBAN watches him while he bites his nails.

ESTEBAN: Listen, what are we going to do?

LUCAS: Eh?

ESTEBAN: About María and about mum.

LUCAS: I´m thinking.

ESTEBAN: I reckon that…

LUCAS: Shhh I´m thinking.

The doorbell rings. Silence. LUCAS and ESTEBAN look at each other.

ESTEBAN: Someone’s at the door.

LUCAS: Yeah.

ESTEBAN: What shall we do?

LUCAS: You expect me to open it?

ESTEBAN: It might be her.

LUCAS: Mum?

ESTEBAN: No, ´her´.

LUCAS: Yeah.

The doorbell rings again with more insistence. ESTEBAN is waiting on LUCAS.

LUCAS: Open it. We´ll talk.

ESTEBAN: That´s it, we´ll talk.

LUCAS: Leave it to me eh. I know how to deal with women.

ESTEBAN nods and opens the door while LUCAS adopts a solemn pose in his chair. MARÍA enters.

MARÍA: Hello.

LUCAS: Well look who it isn´t.

MARÍA: I thought you weren’t in.

ESTEBAN: “I thought you weren’t in”. (to Lucas) You see? She´s sniping away already.

MARÍA: I want to talk to you.

ESTEBAN: ´We´ want to talk to you, (to Lucas) don´t we?

LUCAS: That we do. We want to talk to you.

MARÍA: Mum is coming to live with me.

ESTEBAN (To Lucas): What did I tell you?

MARÍA: Mum isn´t well, in fact she´s in a bad way. She needs to be looked after. She needs someone who’s there for her and that…

ESTEBAN: … and just by chance that person is you, isn´t it?

LUCAS: Let her finish for fuck´s sake!

ESTEBAN: Let her finish no! Who’s been with mum all this time? Eh? Who? Me. Who’s had to put up with her and… look after her and…? (To María) And where were you then eh, where? When things got difficult you left. You took your things and you left only thinking of yourself. You said: “I´m fifteen years old and I don´t have to take your shit”. And now you turn up and you want to give us lectures. You turn up as if you were the grown-up and responsible daughter and you want to take control of this family.

MARÍA: I´ve spoken to the doctor.

ESTEBAN: What?

MARÍA: I spoke to the doctor this morning.

ESTEBAN: ´I´ should have spoken to the doctor, understand? Me. ´I´ am the eldest son. ´I´ am the head of the family. ´I´ should have spoken to him and not you, ´me´.

MARÍA: Maybe he didn´t speak to you because you weren’t at the hospital. Maybe it was because in the two days that she was there you were with her for two minutes. Maybe the doctor spoke to me because I was the only person who’s been with her day and night.

LUCAS (To Esteban, admiringly): Take that.

ESTEBAN: Me… as head of the family… that is… my duty eh is to look after the house. And that´s what I did, exactly. That is what I did. And don´t come round here now giving me lectures you fucking dyke.

MARÍA: Lectures?

ESTEBAN: I know why you´re doing it. I may be backward but I´m not stupid. You want her money. You want mum to go with you so that she’ll die in your arms and you´ll get all her money.

LUCAS: Exactly, to finish off the job.

MARÍA: You´re both mad. I don´t need her money I earn my living. I´m not mentally retarded like you two. I can manage on my own I always have done.

ESTEBAN: Oh yeah? And how are you going to buy a house in mum’s village with your meddling dyke cake-maker’s wages?

MARÍA: What house?

ESTEBAN: Yes a house and don´t play dumb. I heard it in the hospital. You were telling mum about it. (To Lucas) She was hissing in her ear like a fucking viper.

MARÍA: I still don´t know if I´ll buy it or not. At first I’d be renting. Anyway that´s got nothing to do with it. I´ve come here to explain to you what the doctor said and…

ESTEBAN: Well smartarse, what did he say?

MARÍA: … and the only thing that you´re worried about is mum´s fucking money.

LUCAS: Wait a minute, wait a minute. It´s clear that not one of us is remotely interested in mum´s money. What we are interested in is that she gets well and that she leaves hospital soon and all that crap.

ESTEBAN: That´s right. And that she comes home soon to ´her´ home.

LUCAS: Let´s let her continue. Please, María…

LUCAS makes a solemn gesture to continue. MARÍA looks at them and she takes her time.

MARÍA: Mum is ill, she´s very ill. They´ve found a tumour in her brain. It´s really big and it takes up all her frontal lobe. And that means that it´s a serious problem, very serious.

LUCAS: OK but the operation will be covered by the insurance, won´t it?

MARÍA: There won´t be an operation.

ESTEBAN: And you´re going to decide that as well or what?

LUCAS: Well, so they remove this globe thing: ´if thine globe offend thee pluck it out´.

ESTEBAN: Lobe Lucas lobe.

LUCAS: Yes that´s it. They take out the globe and the problem’s solved. Besides, if it´s covered by the insurance… (He pours himself a drink).

MARÍA: They can´t do anything. There’s no operation, no treatment, nothing. They have given her two months to live. Maybe more, maybe less. It depends on how the tumour develops.

ESTEBAN: And does she know?

MARÍA: No, no, it´s better she doesn´t. (To Esteban) And that´s not me mind, the doctor says so. Apparently in these cases it´s better to say nothing to the patient.

LUCAS: Well, I´d like to know if I was going to die (drinks).

ESTEBAN: Of course you´re going to die idiot. And if you don´t stop sucking on that bottle it’ll be very soon.

LUCAS: You´re going to croak as well shirt-lifter but in your case it’ll be from an overdose of ´man milk´.

MARÍA: Listen to me a moment! Please above all not a word of this to mum. (To Esteban) And not just because I say so. Really, it´s what the doctors say.

LUCAS: Two months.

MARÍA: Two months

ESTEBAN: That´s two months she’ll spend in ´her´ house in ´my´ house, is that clear?

MARÍA: Listen to me a moment if only for a moment please. I want to tell you something else. Mum has spent her life working, right?

ESTEBAN AND LUCAS: Yes.

MARÍA: She´s spent her life fighting.

LUCAS: She had balls did mum.

ESTEBAN: Do us a favour and don´t talk about her in the past. She isn´t dead yet.

MARÍA: Well I reckon that after the life she´s had she deserves a rest and she deserves some quiet.

ESTEBAN: Are you implying that she doesn´t get any quiet here?

MARÍA: I´m not implying anything for God’s sake! I´m saying that her dream should come true.

ESTEBAN: ´Her´ dream? Or… ´your´ dream?

LUCAS: But what dream? Whose dream?

MARÍA: She’s always wanted to go back to the village where she was born.

ESTEBAN: To her village? Come off it. She left when she was a kiddie and she´s never been back.

LUCAS: They chased her out like a dog when her stepbrother got her pregnant. (He pours himself another drink). Just as well the baby was born dead.

MARÍA: It´s always been her dream to go back to where she was born and if mum meant anything to you two, you’d know that.

ESTEBAN: Her dream has always been to die here. So mum´ll leave this house feet first.

LUCAS: Do us a favour and don´t talk about her in the future. She isn´t dead yet.

MARÍA: Mum is coming with me.

ESTEBAN: Bollocks!

MARÍA: There’s nothing more to say.

ESTEBAN: Fucking bollocks!

MARÍA: I´m off.

ESTEBAN: That´s it, go. That´s your answer to everything, running away.

MARÍA turns around and returns to the table.

MARÍA: OK. Let her decide.

ESTEBAN: There’s nothing to decide.

LUCAS: Seems fair to me.

ESTEBAN: Fair? Who do you think you are now fucking King Solomon?

LUCAS: If I was fucking King Solomon I´d cut mum in two and you could take away half each. In fact if you can´t reach an agreement it could always be a solution.

Silence. ESTEBAN bites his nails pensively. MARÍA stares at him.

LUCAS: Although, really the fairest solution… would be to cut her into three parts.

LUCAS laughs at his own remark.

LUCAS: I´d ask for the hindquarters.

LUCAS laughs again. There is a staring contest between ESTEBAN and MARÍA. 

ESTEBAN: OK, let her decide.

MARÍA: Let her decide.

LUCAS: That´s it let her decide. How about we toast the deal?

 

5.

Fourth day, first hour of the afternoon. ESTEBAN is in the bathroom. In the dining room LUCAS is clumsily cleaning the floor with a mop. He is wearing some old unlaced boots and the same same vest and underpants as in the first scene. He approaches the table. He wrings out the mop and he runs it over the surface. He then does the same with one of the chairs.

ESTEBAN (OFF): Have you put bleach in the water?

LUCAS: Of course I´ve put bleach in the water. How many times have you asked me? Do you think I´m a fucking retard like you?

ESTEBAN (OFF): OK OK. I only wanted to know if you’ve put bleach in the water. You have, haven’t you?

LUCAS: Go bugger yourself with a cactus. If you don´t want me to help you, say so and I´ll stop.

ESTEBAN (OFF): Of course I want you to help me Lucas. Of course I want you to help me.

LUCAS: Well then, shut your fucking trap.

Silence.

ESTEBAN: Eh eh, let’s be clear. You´re not helping me. It’s in both our interests that mum gets a good impression.

LUCAS: Well stop fucking me about with the fucking bleach.

LUCAS approaches the sink. He bends down and picks up a bottle. He opens it, smells it and takes a drink. He gets out another bottle, he smells it, and holds it away from his face with disgust and tips a good measure into the bucket.

LUCAS: I hate fucking bleach. It smells of prisons and hospitals.

He puts the mop into the bucket. He twirls it between his hands and sits down without letting go of the mop. He picks up the bottle and he pours himself a drink. ESTEBAN enters with a cloth and a bucket in his hand. He is wearing a floral apron and pink rubber gloves.

ESTEBAN: You´ve finished?

LUCAS: Yeah, look I haven’t let go of the mop yet.

ESTEBAN: And you’ve got hold of the bottle already.

LUCAS: You want some?

ESTEBAN: No.

LUCAS: So don´t bugger me about.

ESTEBAN: Have you cleaned the floor?

LUCAS: Yes, the floor and the table and that chair over there. What´s up?

ESTEBAN: Don´t get angry but… I don´t smell bleach.

LUCAS: You calling me a liar?

ESTEBAN: I´m not calling you anything.

LUCAS: Let´s play a game. You stick your fucking nose in the bucket and if there isn´t any bleach you drink it.

ESTEBAN: I´m not saying there isn´t any bleach, I´m only saying it doesn´t smell.

LUCAS: What time´s she arriving?

ESTEBAN: I don´t think she’ll be long so you’d better have a shower.

LUCAS: We didn’t discuss that.

ESTEBAN: We said that mum ought to get a good impression. Better she doesn´t see you like that.

LUCAS: Mum loves me as I am…

ESTEBAN: That’s what I don´t understand.

LUCAS: … and that´s why I´m back here.

ESTEBAN: Dogs and drunks always find their way home.

LUCAS: What?

ESTEBAN: Nothing, I was talking to myself.

LUCAS: Listen, one thing. Why did you accuse María of wanting to get hold of mum´s money?

ESTEBAN: Well, because that’s what she wants.

LUCAS: No, no, I know that already. I´m saying… why did you accuse her of wanting to get hold of the money if according to you there isn´t any money?

ESTEBAN: Me?

LUCAS: Yes you. You were like a she-wolf with her cubs.

ESTEBAN: It´s just…

LUCAS: If we´re in this together it´s better you don´t lie to me.

ESTEBAN: I´m not lying. There’s no money, I swear to you.

LUCAS: You´ll think I’m paranoid but I’d rather you didn’t lie to me.

ESTEBAN: Agreed, you´re right. There is a little money.

LUCAS: You know I hate your ´littles´ Esteban.

ESTEBAN: Let´s see. It´s not that there’s much but there is a little something.

LUCAS: We´re partners and it´s better you don´t lie to me.

ESTEBAN: OK, mum has a savings account at a fixed rate that she´s never touched. She started it before you were born. Every month she pays in something. It´s not much but of course after so many years I reckon it must be a tidy little sum.

LUCAS: And that money is supposed to be for us two, right?

ESTEBAN: I already told you it’ll be for us two.

LUCAS: Fifty-fifty.

ESTEBAN: That´s it.

LUCAS: Great. You see how easy it is?

ESTEBAN: Yeah.

LUCAS: Well from now on no more lies, OK?

ESTEBAN: No more lies.

LUCAS: That´s the ticket.

ESTEBAN: Good. So let’s finish clearing away the things. They´ll be here soon.

LUCAS: Esteban.

ESTEBAN: Go ahead.

LUCAS: Sit down a minute mate.

ESTEBAN: But they´ll be here any minute and I´d prefer to finish clearing away all this and …

LUCAS: Sit down for fuck´s sake. The one time that we´re having a relaxed conversation.

ESTEBAN: Alright, just for a little while.

LUCAS: We don´t talk much, do we? I mean talk like we are now.

ESTEBAN: Well no, not really.

LUCAS: It’s good to talk.

ESTEBAN: Yeah.

LUCAS: Do you remember when we used to go to school?

ESTEBAN: Of course I remember.

LUCAS: The two of us with the same outfits.

ESTEBAN: In those days mum was well and she used to make our clothes.

LUCAS: Really? I don´t remember that.

ESTEBAN: What I mean to say is that she didn´t spend the day shouting.

LUCAS: I don´t remember her before the shouting.

ESTEBAN: Don´t you remember the brown trousers?

LUCAS: What trousers?

ESTEBAN: The shorts, the ones made of wool.

LUCAS: Do I remember? How can I forget those fucking woollen trousers?

ESTEBAN: They itched liked mad. Mum made those as well for the two of us. She had this thing about making little matching outfits. Later she sold the machine and she didn´t ever sew again. Not even a sock. But before she sold it she made us a big pile of clothes. We were always dressed the same.

LUCAS: Like two good little brothers.

ESTEBAN: When we were small we used to sleep together.

LUCAS: In the same room?

ESTEBAN: And in the same bed.

LUCAS: Fuck me. I don´t remember that.

ESTEBAN: Yes, until they started me on medication. It was when we lived in the old flat. The one near the railway line. Don´t you remember that you were scared of the trains? At night, every time one went passed you used to hug me so tightly…

LUCAS: So we used to sleep together?

ESTEBAN: Yes, the room was so small that there was only space for one bed.

LUCAS: I take it that you respected me.

ESTEBAN: Bloody hell Lucas, you were almost a baby.

LUCAS: Well, I don´t know.

Silence.

LUCAS: How time flies.

ESTEBAN: Yes, it does.

LUCAS: Can you picture us two now in one of those matching outfits we used to have?

They laugh.

ESTEBAN: Well, it wouldn´t be a bad idea to welcome mum with those woollen trousers. Can you imagine?

LUCAS: Shut it, shut it, I´m itching just thinking about it.

ESTEBAN: The two of us there nice and smart…

LUCAS: With the fucking side partings.

ESTEBAN: What´s the matter with a side parting? I like to comb my hair with a parting.

LUCAS: Yes, so I see. Some things never change.

ESTEBAN: We were happier in that flat.

LUCAS: Happier?

ESTEBAN: Well, I don´t know. Better off.

LUCAS: It´s a shame I don´t remember.

ESTEBAN: Sometimes it´s better not to remember.

LUCAS: And do you remember when we changed schools?

ESTEBAN: Of course.

LUCAS: And do you remember Tebas and his gang?

ESTEBAN: Yes, I remember. Of course I remember.

LUCAS: And do you remember when they grabbed you in the toilets and pulled off your trousers and pants and all your clothes and they threw them out of the window into the street?

ESTEBAN: Why are you bringing that up now?

LUCAS: They left you stark naked the bastards. Tebas got out a penknife and said he was going to cut off your willy. If you hadn’t managed to run off he would have cut if off. That fucking bastard would have cut it off. As it was time to go back to class after playtime the corridor was jam-packed with kids. You had to walk along the whole corridor starkers to the headmaster’s office. What an uproar that was. The whole school seeing you there in your birthday suit.

ESTEBAN: I don´t know why you have to remind me of that.

LUCAS: And to top it all that bastard headmaster only dragged you out of his office by the ear and made you walk all the way back down the corridor to your classroom to get your coat. What a sadist! Everyone was falling about with laughter. What bastards! They were laughing like mad. Do you remember?

ESTEBAN: How do you expect me not to remember?

LUCAS: I swear I stopped laughing when the bastard headmaster dragged you out of his office by the ear.

ESTEBAN: Yeah.

LUCAS: And when you had that fit and the ambulance came I was really worried about you I swear. You were my big brother. I was dead scared. I was only a kiddie. I went straight up to Tebas and told him that if anything happened to you I was going to stick a biro in his eye and I´d leave him half blind like that one-eyed man in the market. He laughed at me and shoved me aside but I swear that if anything had happened to you I would have done it.

ESTEBAN: Why are telling me all this?

LUCAS: It was me.

ESTEBAN: Who what?

LUCAS: It was me who gave Tebas the piece of paper you used to keep in your blue pencil case with the heart drawn on it.

ESTEBAN: What?

LUCAS: The sheet of notepaper with the heart coloured in with the crayons you never let me use: ´Esteban loves Tebas´ inside a little pink heart. You even drew a fucking cupid’s arrow. You were always good at drawing.

ESTEBAN: Why did you do it?

LUCAS: Do what?

ESTEBAN: Why did you have to give him the heart?

LUCAS: I don´t know. That´s the truth. I don´t know. I suppose it was because you wouldn´t let me use the crayons. Because I found that heart with his name and yours. And because… Oh, I don´t know!

ESTEBAN: Have you finished?

LUCAS: I think it was out of shame… shame that someone might find out.

ESTEBAN: Have you finished now?

LUCAS: Yes. Well, no. I mean… that now I wouldn´t do it. I mean to say that if I was in the same situation now I want you to know that I wouldn´t do it. Do you understand what I´m trying to say?

ESTEBAN: No Lucas, I don´t know. I don´t know why the fuck you’ve had to tell me.

LUCAS: I don´t know either. Maybe it´s because of what we said before. You know, about no more lies.

ESTEBAN: I would have preferred not to know.

LUCAS: OK then, calm down. I won´t tell you anything more.

ESTEBAN: What else do you have to tell me?

LUCAS: Didn´t you say it was better not to know. Make your mind up or you´re going to drive me round the bend as well.

ESTEBAN: Do me just one favour and forget about me. Fucking forget about me for once and for all!

ESTEBAN gets up and continues tidying up.

LUCAS: Listen don´t be angry mate, it´s not a big deal.

ESTEBAN (Shouting): Leave me alone!

LUCAS: What a sensitive lad!

LUCAS watches him. Silence.

LUCAS: By the way, I´ve got news about the comics.

ESTEBAN: The comics? (He approaches with interest) Have you got the comics already?

LUCAS: Not yet but very soon. It´s just that the bloke I sold them to doesn´t want to give them to me but I’ve given him an ultimatum. (Esteban glares at him angrily) Don´t look at me like that we´ve said no more lies, or haven’t we?

ESTEBAN: OK, agreed. And who did you sell them to?

LUCAS: What does it matter?

ESTEBAN: It matters to me. I know all the booksellers.  I demand to know.

LUCAS: Some bloke called Rovira.

ESTEBAN: To Rovira? But what were you thinking doing business with that bloodsucker? That bastard´s never ever going to let you have them back.

LUCAS: Yes, he´s going to let me have them back.

ESTEBAN: No, no he won´t. He knows perfectly well what they´re worth. He won´t let you have them back.

LUCAS: Calm down. I told you that I´ve given him an ultimatum. He either gives me back the comics or I burn his shop down. I went there with a can of petrol and a box of matches. The can was empty but of course he didn´t know that. While I was talking to him I put a cigarette in my mouth and I lit it with a match, see? You should’ve seen him. He went as yellow as my fingernails.

ESTEBAN: Ha, ha, yes I’ve had loved to have seen him, yes. And what did he say?

LUCAS: He told me that he´d bring me them. That he didn´t have them in the shop but that he would bring me them.

ESTEBAN: Good!

LUCAS: But…

ESTEBAN: But what?

LUCAS: He asked me for money and…

ESTEBAN: Of course.

LUCAS: … now that we´re partners I reckon we should cover the costs of the operation between the two of us.

ESTEBAN: Like hell. I´m not giving him a cent.

LUCAS: I reckon it´s fair. I sold them to him, didn´t I? Well now it seems logical that if I want them I´ve got to pay for them.

ESTEBAN: Alright, alright. And how much is he asking?

LUCAS: Double what he paid me.

ESTEBAN: I knew it. I told you he was a bloodsucker, I told you. And how much is double?

LUCAS: It doesn´t matter.  We´ll work it out later.

ESTEBAN: No, how much is double?

LUCAS: Fifty Euros.

ESTEBAN: Fifty Euros? You wretched swine! You sold him thirty-five issues of Flash Gordon first edition in perfect condition for twenty-five miserable Euros?

LUCAS: I don´t know! But to me they were just some old comics.

ESTEBAN: I can´t believe it.

LUCAS: He took advantage of me. Of my circumstances and my good faith.

ESTEBAN: Twenty-five Euros! … You´re a fucking mad drunk and totally brainless!

LUCAS: Esteban, we´ve got something more important in hand than those fucking comics. Don´t provoke me or the team goes down the shit hole.

ESTEBAN: You´re right, you´re right and for that reason I´ll shut up. But let me tell you something. If you don´t get them back…

LUCAS: Don´t threaten me or I´ll rip off your ears, shirt-lifter.

ESTEBAN (Looking at his watch): Come on, go and get dressed. It´s late.

LUCAS: The money.

ESTEBAN: What?

LUCAS: The money.

ESTEBAN: What money?

LUCAS: Don´t act the dizzy mare. Twenty-five Euros.

ESTEBAN: It´s just that right now I don´t have it. I´ll give it to you when you bring them back. Anyway I´ve got a buyer and we agreed that I´d give you a hundred and fifty for them, didn´t we?

LUCAS: That´s right.

ESTEBAN: Well OK. I´ll give you a hundred and seventy-five and that´s it. No, better still, I´ll give you a hundred and eighty. Nice round numbers. When you bring them back.

LUCAS: Done, a hundred and eighty. But when I bring them back, eh?

ESTEBAN: That´s it, you pain in the neck, I´ve already told you.

LUCAS: A little drink?

The door and some voices are heard. 

ESTEBAN: Shit, they´re here already. Remember, we´ve got to impress her.

LUCAS: Job done, as soon as she sees me with the mop and you with those… gloves. By the way, they really suit you.

Enter LUISA in a wheelchair. She is sedated. MARÍA is pushing her and she is carrying a large bag on her shoulder. The brothers wait for them beside the table. ESTEBAN is still wearing the pink rubber gloves and holding the cloth. LUCAS holds the mop as if he were in a parade ground inspection.

LUISA (To María): Did you bring the biscuits that were in my bedside drawer?

MARÍA: Yes mum, I´ve brought them. And that´s the last time I´m going to tell you.

LUISA: And the juices?

MARÍA: Yes, the juices as well.

ESTEBAN: Hello mum.

LUISA: My boys!

LUCAS: What a lovely chair.

LUISA: I´ve been dying to see you!

ESTEBAN: Us too mum. We´ve missed you so much. (To Lucas) Isn´t that right?

LUCAS: Eh… yes of course. So much.

MARÍA: Didn´t you remember how to light the cooker?

LUISA: Come here you two and let me give you a kiss.

The two brothers look at each other. MARÍA gestures that LUISA is acting a little strangely. ESTEBAN approaches and leans over his mother. LUISA holds his face with both hands and gives him five big kisses on the cheek. ESTEBAN straightens up. He takes his brother by the arm and indicates that he move closer. LUCAS bends down and LUISA gives him another barrage of kisses. LUCAS touches his face and moves towards the bottle. LUISA speaks to them as if they were children.

LUISA: So have you two been behaving yourselves?

The two brothers look at each other in surprise. MARÍA shrugs her shoulders.

ESTEBAN: Eh… yes, we have mum (elbows Lucas).

LUCAS: Yes, of course we have.

LUISA: That’s what I like to hear. I´ve brought you a little something. María, give me the biscuits.

MARÍA takes out some packets of biscuits from the bag. They are typical hospital fare.

LUISA: Here you are. Two for each of you.

The brothers take their respective packets and force a smile.

ESTEBAN: Thanks mum. You shouldn’t have bothered.

LUCAS: Hum… biscuits.

LUISA: Eat them up and you´ll see how nice they are.

MARÍA: They´re delicious. I already had to eat mine in the taxi.

LUISA: I always asked the nurse for an extra packet and later I hid them away. The old lady in the bed next to me used to give me hers as well. As the poor thing was full of tubes she never ate a thing and she used to give me all her food.

MARÍA: If she’d spent another week in the hospital she’d have opened her own snack bar.

LUISA: Come on. Let me see you eat up those biscuits.

The two brothers look at each other. LUCAS shakes his head. ESTEBAN gestures to LUCAS to go ahead. MARÍA smiles maliciously. LUISA waits for them to start eating. ESTEBAN opens one of the packets and he raises a biscuit to his mouth.  

ESTEBAN: Very nice, aren´t they Lucas?

LUCAS: I´ll save them for later.

LUISA: Try them. You can´t go without eating and be drinking all day.

MARÍA: That´s true. Better you eat them. They´re really nice.

LUCAS: Do you want to eat something that´s also ´really nice´?

LUISA: I saved them especially for you son.

ESTEBAN: Eat one at least.

LUCAS reluctantly opens a packet and takes out a biscuit. Everyone watches him. LUCAS hesitates and then bites it.

LUISA: Nice, aren´t they?

ESTEBAN: Very nice.

LUCAS: … icious.

LUISA: I´ve also brought you some juices.

As soon as LUISA turns towards MARÍA, LUCAS spits out the biscuit.

LUISA (To María): Give them the juices sweetie.

LUCAS: No! … Juice no please.

ESTEBAN: It´s only that we had breakfast just now. Just a minute ago, (to Lucas) didn´t we?

LUCAS nods.

LUISA: Well, for a snack then. Come on. Take me to the bathroom sweetie.

MARÍA: Let´s go.

LUISA: Pour me a little drink first.

MARÍA: You heard the doctor. No little drinks.

LUISA: What does the doctor know?

MARÍA pushes the wheelchair and heads towards the bathroom.

ESTEBAN: You´ll see mum, I´ve just cleaned it.

LUISA: What a darling son I have!

LUISA and MARÍA enter in the bathroom.

LUCAS (To Luisa): And I mopped the floor!

LUCAS picks up the bottle and pours himself a drink.

ESTEBAN: Have you noticed? She’s in a terrible state.

LUCAS: I´m telling you I´m not going to eat one more biscuit.

ESTEBAN: She´s kind of… kind of affectionate.

LUCAS: I reckon it´s that globe thing. It must be pressing on part of her brain (knocks back his drink in one).

ESTEBAN: Being in the state she´s in María can do with her what she likes. We´ve got to be on the lookout.

LUCAS: You what?

MARÍA enters and approaches the table.

MARÍA: Well, you’ve seen how she is.

ESTEBAN: She´s not that bad. I thought she’d be worse, (to Lucas) didn´t you?

LUCAS: Err yes. We thought she’d be in a terrible state, (to Esteban) didn´t we?

MARÍA: What are you two playing at?

LUCAS: Nothing, but if you want we could play doctors and nurses. Do you remember?

MARÍA: You haven’t noticed that she can´t walk and can hardly move her arm?

ESTEBAN: What are you insinuating?

MARÍA: I´m not insinuating anything. It´s obvious that she needs me.

ESTEBAN: She´s never needed you. Why’s she going to need you now?

MARÍA: Maybe because she can´t manage on her own and you two can hardly take care of yourselves.

LUCAS: I don´t know what you’re driving at and I don’t like the road you´re taking.

ESTEBAN: We´re perfectly capable of looking after mum and helping her with everything she needs. (To Lucas) Aren´t we?

LUCAS: Absolutely.

LUISA (OFF): Can you give me a hand?

MARÍA: Well, now’s your chance to show it.

ESTEBAN: Show what?

MARÍA: Your mother or are you both deaf? She´s asking you for help.

LUISA: Can you hear me or what?

ESTEBAN: I´m coming mum! (To María) You´ll see. Lucas, put the bottle down and go and help mum.

LUCAS: Me?

ESTEBAN: Yes. We´re going to show your sister that we´re capable of looking after her.

MARÍA: You´re so pitiful that I don´t know whether to laugh or throw up.

LUCAS: Oh yeah? You´ll see.

LUCAS leaves the bottle and glass on the table and moves solemnly and decidedly towards the bathroom.

MARÍA: I´m staying here until mum makes a decision.

ESTEBAN: No way. This isn´t your home anymore. It stopped being your home the day you walked out.

MARÍA: You need me.

ESTEBAN: We´ve never needed you.

Enter LUCAS. He appears uncomfortable. He is carrying something in his hand that he is hiding behind his back.

ESTEBAN: And mum?

LUCAS: It´s better that you go.

ESTEBAN: What´s happened?

LUCAS: I just can´t do it.

ESTEBAN: What can´t you do?

LUCAS hands him a roll of toilet paper.

LUCAS: Here.

ESTEBAN: What?

LUCAS: Mum says you go.

ESTEBAN: Me? And… why me?

LUCAS: For fuck´s sake I´m a man and despite being our mother she is still a woman and… it´s better that you do it.  You’ve got more of a feeling for these girly things.

ESTEBAN: You miserable swine!

LUISA (OFF): Isn´t anyone coming to help me?

ESTEBAN looks at the toilet roll in his hand. He looks towards the bathroom and looks at the toilet roll again. MARÍA smiles.

MARÍA: I´m coming!

MARÍA approaches ESTEBAN smiling. She snatches the toilet roll and she heads towards the bathroom. Before entering she turns around and looks her brothers up and down.

MARÍA: By the way, start thinking which of you is going to let me have their room.

MARÍA enters in the bathroom and closes the door. ESTEBAN casts a look at his brother. LUCAS shrugs his shoulders.

 

6. 

Fifth day, in the morning. ESTEBAN and LUISA are having coffee.

ESTEBAN: All I´m saying is that we´ve always been alone and alone we´ve always got by.

LUISA: Do you know how long it´s been since the last time the three of us were together in this house?

ESTEBAN: Well I don´t know. Well yes, since María abandoned us.

LUISA: You´re wrong son.

ESTEBAN: I am?

LUISA: Yes, she didn´t abandon anyone. It was me who abandoned her. It was me who abandoned you all.

ESTEBAN: No way. It was her who walked out. Besides she said: “I´m never coming back”. And now look at her. It hasn’t taken her long to come back.  As soon…

LUISA: As soon as what?

ESTEBAN: Look, I didn´t want to tell you but if she´s come back it´s for your money. For your patrimony, for ´our´ matrimony. Ours.

LUISA: No one’s going to take the money.

ESTEBAN: And Lucas is the same.

LUISA: Lucas?

ESTEBAN: Why do you think Lucas has come, eh? To keep you company?

LUISA: I don´t know and I don´t want to know. I only know that I´m happy to have you all here again.

ESTEBAN: Me too. Deliriously happy. Look at me sleeping in the dining room! As if I was a dog! In my own home!

LUISA: Esteban, son. I don´t like to see you like this.

ESTEBAN: I don´t like it either but what do you want me to say?

LUISA: Calm down. Have you taken your pills?

ESTEBAN: Calm down no! I could have done a lot of things. Great things but no you always had to have me tied to your apron strings. It´s not fair. It´s always been me who’s had to take all the shit of this sick family. All your shit!

LUISA looks at ESTEBAN who remains with his head bowed down.

LUISA: Very well son, you´re right. Do you want to tell me something more?

ESTEBAN: Tell you?

LUISA: Yes, maybe there’s something more you want to tell me.

ESTEBAN: About what?

LUISA: I don´t know. Perhaps about your father?

ESTEBAN: I´ve got nothing to tell you.

LUISA: About what happened?

ESTEBAN: No.

LUISA: Are you sure son?

ESTEBAN: I´ve told you no.

ESTEBAN is growing more and more agitated.

LUISA: Me… me yes I want to tell you something. I want to tell you that… that I´ve always tried to give you all the best and that… I know that I wasn´t the…

ESTEBAN: … I don´t see why you´re bringing this up now.

LUISA: Listen son. I know we´ve never talked about what happened but…

ESTEBAN: … Mum please.

LUISA: And I know I didn´t deal with things well and that…

ESTEBAN: Forget it!

ESTEBAN covers his ears with his hands so as to stop hearing.

LUISA: Forget it no! I can´t keep forgetting there isn´t time for that. I regret so many things that…

ESTEBAN: Drop it mum!

LUISA: … I feel… Son, you have to know that I never knew what was happening and that if…

ESTEBAN: There’s no need mum.

LUISA: Yes there is. For me there is.

ESTEBAN: No, now no. That´s enough.

LUISA: I know that´s enough! But let me just tell you that I´m sorry. I´m so sorry. And if I had known that your father…

ESTEBAN: Shut up!

LUISA: Son, please, I´m only asking you to forgive me that you don´t…

ESTEBAN interrupts her by shouting. He is sitting with his hands over his ears and with his eyes closed.

ESTEBAN: Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!

Silence. ESTEBAN is leaning forward over his knees, rocking compulsively backwards and forwards. Little by little he calms down while LUISA begins speaking as if nothing has happened.

LUISA: Do you know what I´d like to make for lunch? … Macaroni with sausages. It´s been years and years since I´ve made that, hasn’t it? … It used to be my speciality.  Do you remember? If you go shopping we can make it the two of us… It used to be your favourite dish, didn´t it? With the sausages well done just as you like them. With lots of fried onions and a small bay leaf and a little white wine before adding the grated tomato. Grated tomato is better. Tinned doesn´t give the same flavour. And then the last swish-swish with the macaroni and they´re finger-licking good.

ESTEBAN: And cheese.

LUISA: That´s it. And then grated cheese on top.  So delicious, you´ll see. We´ll all have lunch together. Well, I don´t know if your sister´ll be coming. If she doesn´t we´ll reheat them when she gets here. And we can open a little bottle of a good wine. Do you think I´ll be able to drink a little wine?

ESTEBAN: The doctor said no alcohol.

LUISA: It´s true, you´re right. Son, will you give your mum a kiss?

ESTEBAN does not raise his head. LUISA approaches him in her wheelchair until she positions herself at his side. ESTEBAN, initially suspicious, ends up leaning towards her and resting his head on her breast. LUCAS appears. By the state of his hair it he has just got up. He is dressed in the same vest and underpants as in the first scene. He sees ESTEBAN and LUISA in an embrace.

LUCAS: Eh! Take a breather lovebirds! Control your emotions you´re not alone.

ESTEBAN sits up and picks up the newspaper.

LUISA: Son, why don´t you put on some trousers?

LUCAS: What with these legs that God gave me? It´s a shame not to show them off, don´t you think?

LUISA: Lucas son, do it for your mother.

ESTEBAN looks at his brother disapprovingly and gestures that he should pay attention to his mother.

LUCAS: Alright, alright. I´ll be a good boy. If you want I’ll put on some trousers. Though I´m only doing it to stop my brother from getting jealous.

He moves towards a chair covered in a big pile of clothes that is leaning against the wall.

LUCAS: That´s if I can find them.

ESTEBAN pulls out a rumpled handkerchief from his pocket and blows his nose.

ESTEBAN: Lucas.

LUCAS: I´m coming for fuck´s sake! Can´t you see I´m looking for them?

LUISA: Shh, don´t squabble.

ESTEBAN: I want to know when you’re going to bring me the comics.

LUCAS: Good morning first, isn’t it?

ESTEBAN: Good morning.

LUCAS: That´s better. (To LUISA) How’s the belle of the house? (To ESTEBAN) And don´t you go taking offence.

LUCAS bends down and he gives his mother a good morning kiss on the lips. She smiles and pats his bottom.

LUISA: What a rogue you are! Come sit down with us.

LUCAS picks up the bottle and a glass.

ESTEBAN: I´ve asked you a question.

LUCAS (Pours himself a drink): Me?

ESTEBAN: Of course. Who was the cretin that took my comics?

LUCAS: What an arse. First thing in the morning on about his fucking comics!

ESTEBAN: You remember I had a buyer.

LUCAS: Alright, this afternoon you´ll have them here.

ESTEBAN: I´m counting on that, eh?

LUCAS (To Luisa): But how could you give birth to such an arse?

LUISA laughs, delighted with her sons. She puts her hand over LUCAS´. He takes her hand and gives it an exaggerated long and intense kiss. LUISA laughs in amusement. LUCAS continues the game and begins to wink and pout. LUISA cannot stop laughing. ESTEBAN observes the scene with irritation and he gets up.

LUCAS: You off already?

ESTEBAN: Yes.

LUISA: Aren´t you going shopping to make the macaroni?

ESTEBAN: No. I don´t want macaroni.

LUISA: Alright.

LUCAS: Going to the Arenas cinema? I didn´t know they have morning ´sessions´ on Thursdays.

ESTEBAN: Get fucked.

LUCAS: Ah, OK. Well if you’re going to Mr Tomás´ house say hello from me.

ESTEBAN makes a gesture of contempt at LUCAS. He picks up a pile of old books that are beside the table and he moves towards the door. He turns around before going out.

ESTEBAN: Mum, we´ll make macaroni another day, OK?

LUISA: Of course son. Another day.

ESTEBAN nods and he exits. LUCAS sits in front of LUISA and he pours himself another drink. LUISA follows him with her eyes.

LUCAS: Has María gone as well?

LUISA: Yes, she went off early to work.

LUCAS: So… it´s my turn to babysit?

LUISA: Son and you? Why don´t you look for a job?

LUCAS: Why don´t I find a job? That is the question.

LUISA: Well and why don´t you find one?

LUCAS drinks. LUISA watches him and swallows saliva.

LUCAS: Because I don´t look. What responsible businessman would dare to employ me? Tell me. And me, I´m not going to work for any old scumbag.

LUISA: Why don´t you ask your sister to see if they need someone at the cake shop.

LUCAS: Yeah, right!

LUISA: Yes, I´m sure she could ask.

LUCAS: You reckon?

LUISA: Of course son. She´s not your sister for nothing.

LUCAS: Well, I could see myself working in a cake shop (drinks).

LUISA: I could as well.

LUCAS: I´d cut my nails, I´d have a shave…

LUISA: … and a good haircut and some clean shoes.

LUCAS: Well I´ll tell you something. If I put my mind to it I could become a great salesman.

LUISA: I reckon you could too. Every day I´d wash and iron your shirts.

LUCAS: ´A man with clean nails and an ironed shirt can go as far as he likes´. That´s what my old gypsy cellmate used to say.

LUISA: Well even though he was a gypsy he was right. An ironed shirt looks like a new shirt.

LUCAS: Hey, but you. When have you ever had an iron?

LUISA: We´ll buy one.

LUCAS: Of course.  Well yes, I’ll ask María.

LUCAS pours himself another drink.

LUISA: Let’s have a drop?

LUCAS: No (he drinks as if savouring an exquisite liquor).

LUISA: Don´t be mean to your old mum.

LUCAS: It´s not that I don´t want to. It´s just that you can´t drink. If it was down to me.

LUISA: A little won´t do me any harm. I haven’t had a drop for three days. What are laughing about?

LUCAS (With the bottle in his hand): You see it? Well I´m not even going to give you the cork.

LUISA: Don´t be mean.

LUCAS: I´m not mean, I´m giving you a taste of your own medicine .

LUISA: You love torturing me!

LUCAS: You were my teacher.

LUISA: Come on stop messing about, I´m a little poorly.

LUCAS: Alright, I´ll pour you a drink.

LUCAS gets up and picks up another glass.

LUISA: Thank you son. At least you understand me.

LUCAS pours two drinks but he does not give her the glass.

LUCAS: Mum, I´ve been thinking. Now that you´re ill. Well that… of course that…

LUISA: Tell me son.

LUCAS: What will happen to your things?

LUISA: My things?

LUCAS: That´s it, your things. I mean… when you aren´t here. And let’s hope that´s a long way off before you´re not here. Well…

LUISA: I´m listening.

LUCAS: Well that´s it. Fuck, that your things. I mean your face creams, your clothes…, the money, the flat…, you know. Well, if you’ve thought about what will happen to everything. I mean. Who will it go to?

LUISA: Son, you don´t have anything to worry yourselves about.

LUCAS: It´s not a worry. It´s more like a matter of organisation.

LUISA: You can all rest assured because there’s nothing to organise.

LUCAS: Ah no? Well that´s not what Esteban told me.

LUISA: And what did he tell you?

LUCAS: He let drop that you two have some ´little savings´.

LUISA: He told you that?

LUCAS: Aha.

LUISA: I find that odd.

LUCAS: You find that odd.

LUCAS empties his glass. LUISA stretches out her arm.

LUISA: Give it here.

LUCAS: Give it here? Is that the way to ask for something?

LUISA: Why are you doing this to me?

LUCAS: I´m not going to give you a drop not one miserable drop. Not until you tell me about the ´little savings´ that you and my idiot brother have tucked away.

LUISA: Alright. Give it to me and I´ll tell you what you want.

LUCAS: You sure?

LUISA: Of course. Don´t you trust anyone?

LUCAS: Not even my own shadow.

LUISA: You´re just like your mother.

LUCAS: We´re two of a kind. (He moves the glass towards her) Go on, take it.

LUISA: Thank you son.

LUISA knocks back the glass in one.

LUCAS: It tastes fantastic when your tank is dry, eh?

LUISA: Let me have another little drop.

LUCAS: Easy, savour it.

LUISA: You gave me so little…

LUCAS: OK. Well tell me about the money. What’ll happen to it?

LUISA: Esteban told me that´s why you´re here.

LUCAS: You know what a hypercritical girl’s blouse he is.

LUISA: But I´m not bothered, truth be told. Deep down I know all of you aren´t to blame.

LUCAS: Let´s get to the point mum. What happens to the money?

LUISA: It´s alright son. If you´re here for the money you can shove off now. You can all shove off if you like.

LUCAS: Why do you say that?

LUISA: Because there’s nothing left.

LUCAS: That´s not true.

LUISA: I swear it is.

LUCAS: But… No, no it can´t be. You´re having me on.

LUISA: There’s nothing left.

LUCAS: And… does Esteban know?

LUISA: No, not yet.

LUCAS gets up and begins walking and rubbing his head.

LUCAS: Nothing?

LUISA: Not a thing.

LUCAS: And the flat?

LUISA: Do you know who came to visit me in hospital?

LUCAS: I didn´t go because I can´t stand the smell of bleach.

LUISA: My granddaughter.

LUCAS: I´m not interested. Besides, I asked you a question.

LUISA: Your daughter.

LUCAS: Don´t fuck with me I haven’t got a daughter!

LUISA: She asked me about you.

LUCAS: Fuck that! What happens about the flat?

LUISA: She´s quite the little madam. She asked me how you were. We were talking about you. About you two when she was little. She told me about when you went to a Mexican restaurant to celebrate her birthday and you broke a fishbowl.

LUCAS: It was an accident. And it wasn´t a Mexican it was a Chinese. And it wasn´t a fishbowl it was an enormous aquarium. It took up half the wall like a partition. And I didn´t break it. It was an accident.

LUISA: Yeah, an accident.

LUCAS: It´s true for fuck´s sake. I swear to you. I´d left my wallet at home, so what? It was an accident. I realised when they brought me the bill and the fucking flower liquor. I reached for my wallet and it wasn´t there. It was an accident. It could have happened to anyone.

I told the Chink waitress. I don´t know if she understood me or if she didn´t understand me but she turned around and called her boss. Fucking hell I was with my daughter! We were celebrating her birthday! And her bitch of a mother sided with the other Chink waitress that appeared. I told her that there wasn´t a problem and that she should bring another ice cream for the kid and another Gordon’s for her fucking mother while I went to look for my wallet. I was sure I´d left it in the car or at home or I don´t know where. That I wouldn´t take long. But they didn´t let me. Starting off with my wife. The bitch said to me: “What, are you going to do the same as last time?”.  But that time was different. That time my daughter wasn´t there. We weren’t celebrating her birthday and I hadn’t bought her a stuffed giraffe that looked like a donkey with measles. That´s what the bitch said to me: “Aren´t you ashamed to give your daughter a donkey with measles?”. The kid started crying and her mother started shouting at me. She was as drunk as a skunk and I was shouting at her as well. We had been drinking a little. The manageress of the restaurant took me by the arm. My crazy wife began hitting me with her handbag. Chinks started coming out of the kitchen. It looked like a fucking karate film. The kid kept crying.  Everyone was shouting. The table went over. I picked up the bottle of flower liquor and I threw it with all my might at the fucking aquarium.

Ever since we’d arrived I couldn’t stop looking at it. And they didn´t stop watching me. Those fucking obese fish didn´t stop watching us. Watching me. So I threw the bottle with all my might and that was the end of the show. The floor was covered in fishes that bounced around like tennis balls. Ten or fifteen Chinks grabbed hold of me. I could hardly move. Then we heard the sirens. My psychopath of a wife kept hitting me with her handbag. She slipped and fell on the floor. I think that´s when she cracked her fucking vertebra.

I felt a tremendous blow and I woke up in a police car. I only asked about my daughter: “where’s my daughter?”. Nobody answered me, no one.  It was an accident, a fucking accident. After that they didn´t let me see her. And later it was her who didn´t want to see me. And I don´t care if it was her mother or that bitch´s fucking mother or the fucking mother of that bitch of a judge who didn´t let me go near her.

Silence. LUCAS pours himself and glass and drinks it.

LUCAS: It was an accident. It was a fucking accident.

LUISA: That´s all water under the bridge now son.

LUISA shows her empty glass to LUCAS. LUCAS picks up the bottle and he fills both glasses.

LUCAS: Do you know how many times I tried to call her? See her? Touch her?

LUISA: She was only a child. A manipulated and frightened child. But now she´s strong like us. She´s one of our kind.

They drink. Silence.

LUCAS: Did she really ask after me?

LUISA: Of course. She said that when she gets back perhaps you could see each other and have a chat.

LUCAS: When she gets back from where?

LUISA: From making her dream come true.

LUCAS: More fucking dreams.

LUISA: She´s going to study in Berlin.

LUCAS: Berlin? The little bitch. She´s the smartest of the family but where’s the money coming from?

LUISA: Come on, give me another drop.

 

7.

Some hours later. LUISA is in her wheelchair looking at some photos. On the table there is an old biscuit tin full of photos, a glass and the bottle, now almost empty. The door opens. LUISA closes her eyes and pretends to be asleep. MARÍA enters with a plastic portfolio. She is out of breath and it appears she has been running.

MARÍA: Hello.

Silence. She approaches LUISA.

MARÍA: Mum?

She eyes the bottle with disapproval. She picks up the glass. She smells it and bangs it down on the table.

MARÍA: Great. Lucas? Esteban?

Silence. MARÍA takes off her jacket and she leaves it on a chair. She takes out her mobile. She looks for a number and calls. LUISA opens one eye and observes her without being seen.

MARÍA: Good morning, I mean good afternoon. I´d like to know what time the office closes. (…) I see, and can´t you wait a moment until I get there? I´ll be there before two (…) OK, and what time do you open in the afternoon? (…) You don´t open? Shit!, sorry (…) Tomorrow the problem is I wanted to take the authorisation signed and sealed to the bank. Do you understand? (…) No, I don´t think you do understand me. (…) No, no, you don´t have a fucking clue! (…) I´m sorry. It´s just that I left work early in order to arrive on time and… the metro took ages. I ran all the way home and… and I´ve been delayed. Really it will only be a moment, please. I can bring it over in a moment. I won´t be long. (…) But… (…) Alright, I´ll bring it tomorrow. (…) Yes, of course I´ll bring it all signed. (Hangs up). Fucking bastards!

LUISA goes back to pretending to be asleep. MARÍA angrily puts away her mobile and paces the dining room. She approaches the table and hesitates before pouring herself a drink in LUISA´S glass. LUISA opens an eye and watches MARÍA drink. MARÍA eyes the box of photos and picks up one. She looks at it and puts it back. She picks up another and then another. The hard expression on her face turns into a smile. LUISA watches her out of the corner of her eye. MARÍA sits down and pulls the box closer. She continues looking at the photos.

LUISA: Do you remember when you were little? You always wanted to see the photos.

MARÍA: I suppose I was trying to understand this family.

LUISA (Eyeing the bottle): Are you going to let me have a little?

MARÍA: You can´t. Anyway, you’ve already had some.

LUISA: Me? Cross my heart and hope to die if…

MARÍA: No, don´t you die before you sign.

MARÍA picks up the portfolio and puts it in front of her mother. LUISA looks at the portfolio. She looks at the bottle and at MARÍA again. MARÍA picks up the bottle and pours LUISA a drink.

LUISA: Thank you sweetie.

LUISA drinks the glass and she gives MARÍA a photo. MARÍA takes it without paying it attention.

MARÍA: You have to sign at the bottom.

LUISA: Look sweetie, (she shows her one of the photos she has on her lap) in this one the two of us are on the beach.

MARÍA (Takes it reluctantly): Which beach was it?

LUISA: El Prat, next to the scrapyard where your father used to work.

MARÍA: Sounds idyllic.

LUISA: You had to see it. As you were so little you weren’t afraid of the water. There was no way to get you to come out. Oh, how you loved the water!

MARÍA: Yes look I loved the water. Esteban loved comics and Lucas loved brandy just like his mother.

LUISA: We used to go there because your father could come and have lunch on the beach with us. He only had an hour but we used to have a great time together, the five of us. It was the only way to see him sober. He never used to talk as you know but I know that for him it was important. I mean that you should see him sober.

MARÍA: Yeah. All I remember was that he used to arrive with his hands black with grease and as he was eating the tips of his fingers would slowly turn white.

LUISA: Potato omelette, Russian salad, pork with peppers…

MARÍA: I´ll never forget those enormous black hands.

LUISA: … potato salad, escalopes… your father loved escalopes.

Silence.

MARÍA: Did you ever forgive him?

LUISA: Forgive him?

MARÍA: Dad.

LUISA: I don´t know.  While he was alive no.

MARÍA: Perhaps it was unforgivable.

Pause.

LUISA: And me?

MARÍA: What about you?

MARÍA looks at her defiantly.

LUISA: Nothing.

LUISA lowers her eyes. She picks out another photo from the box.

LUISA: Do you remember this?

MARÍA (Closing the box abruptly): Well, that´s enough of the photos. (She holds out a biro in front of Luisa) These are the papers for the banker’s reference. Everything’s ready now. You only have to sign here at the bottom.

LUISA: Sweetie…

MARÍA: And the rest of the copies as well. Tomorrow morning I have to take them without fail.

LUISA: It can´t be done.

MARÍA: What?

LUISA: I wanted to tell you but what with the hospital…

 

8.

Afternoon. MARÍA is wearing her jacket. She is finishing packing clothes into a travel bag. She is visibly angry. LUCAS arrives with a packet of comics and a bottle wrapped in paper. He leaves the comics on a chair. 

LUCAS: You off already?

MARÍA: Yes, I´m going.

LUCAS opens the new bottle and pours himself a drink.

LUCAS: Don´t you like Esteban´s room?

MARÍA: No, it´s not that.

LUCAS: If you like I can let you have my bed. When all is said and done I´m used to sleeping anywhere. Even in a closet.

MARÍA: It’s not necessary.

LUCAS: I mean it, seriously. More than anything I did it to fuck Esteban over. Metaphorically speaking, eh.

ESTEBAN arrives.

MARÍA: The one who’s fucked us over is your daughter.

LUCAS (To Esteban): Hey look at him. You weren’t listening from behind the door, were you?

ESTEBAN: Have you brought the comics?

MARÍA: My-o-my, butter wouldn´t melt in his mouth.

LUCAS (To María): So she´s already told you, eh?

MARÍA: Yes, she´s told me.

ESTEBAN: Who’s told you what?

MARÍA (To Lucas): In the end it turns out you were right.

LUCAS: I´m always right sweetie.

ESTEBAN: But what’s happened?

MARÍA: Lucas was right. His daughter´s worse than a rat.

LUCAS: Eh, let’s keep it polite. Only her father can call her a rat.

ESTEBAN: Can someone tell me what the fuck´s happened?

MARÍA: Nothing. Your darling niece. She´s got everything.

ESTEBAN: What everything?

MARÍA: Everything, Esteban. Everything. Do you know what everything means? Well that, everything.

ESTEBAN (To Lucas): What´s she talking about?

LUCAS: My daughter, she´s got all the money.

ESTEBAN: It can´t be true!

LUCAS: Oh yes it can. She´s sharper than a knife.

ESTEBAN: And the flat?

MARÍA: The flat was mortgaged years ago.

ESTEBAN: It can´t be true. That can´t be true. Mum isn´t well. Mum has a tumour in her head the size of melon. She´s not in her right mind. Not in front of a judge.

MARÍA: It was all signed and counter-signed months ago. I´ve just seen the documents. She´s left your niece her last fucking cent so if you´re thinking of getting something you’d better think again.

ESTEBAN: It can´t be true, mum promised me…

MARÍA: Mum´s been taking advantage of you all your fucking life. Knowing that afterwards she’d throw you away like an empty bottle. The same as me. The same as all of us. Mum treats people like bottles. She´s only interested in them while they’re full. And we´re empty as far as she´s concerned. Actually, I reckon that we were born already empty in her eyes. When it comes down to it I´m not surprised. I already knew I couldn’t expect anything more from her than a string of sweaty kisses every time I came to see her. (Looks at Esteban, who is devastated and sits down on a chair) Poor little you. What a disappointment it must be. What an idiot you were Esteban! You thought you’d inherit all the estate, didn´t you? That you’d be the only fucking heir. Well there you go you’ve got your inheritance. You´re going to look after her until she dies. But don´t you worry. You can relax because according to the doctors she won´t last long.

LUCAS: You, don´t you act the smartarse now. You thought you’d be the only heir as well. If not what the fuck were you doing here playing the prodigious daughter?

MARÍA: Prodigal.

LUCAS: Yes that, the fucking prudigal daughter.

MARÍA: Look’s who’s talking. And you by any chance aren´t here for exactly the same thing?

LUCAS: I´m here to see what I can scrape up like I´ve done all my fucking life. But with my head held high and face-to-face without hiding behind a mask. That´s the difference.

MARÍA: You two disgust me. This family is a rubbish tip. I´m going.

LUCAS: See you next time.

MARÍA: No, Lucas. There won´t be a next time.

LUCAS: Well OK, you go.

MARÍA picks up the travel bag and moves towards the door.

LUCAS: Hey, and now do you trust us to look after mum?

MARÍA stops without turning around.

LUCAS: I mean… if you have any advice.

Silence.

LUCAS: Not to worry. We´ll handle things.

It appears that MARÍA is going to turn around, but she leaves. LUCAS pours himself another drink and he sits down. He begins to take off his boots and his socks.

LUCAS: We´ll handle things, won´t we brother?

ESTEBAN: I´ve no intention of handling anything. I´m never going to forgive this in all my life. In all my fucking life!

LUCAS: Don´t be melodramatic. We´ve survived a lot worse. In the end it´s only money.

ESTEBAN: But how didn´t I realise? How didn´t I realise? She never stopped calling her granddaughter and buying her knickers and nail varnish and taking her croquettes… And me? Not a clue. I am a fucking retard!

LUCAS: Too right or do you reckon that they give disability benefit to just anybody.

He picks up some scissors and tries to cut his toenails. He squints. It is clear that he needs glasses.

LUCAS: Listen, why don´t you do me a favour?

ESTEBAN: I sacrificed my whole life to be with her, so as not to leave her alone, and then…

LUCAS: Help me cut my nails. I need glasses and I can´t even see my toes.

ESTEBAN: Are you mad?

LUCAS: Eh, I´ve got some scissors. It´s not as if I´m asking you to cut them with your teeth.

ESTEBAN: Leave me alone! How can you think about cutting your nails at a time like this!

ESTEBAN sits down devasted. LUCAS offers him the scissors.

ESTEBAN: It can´t be true.

LUCAS: Come on be a good boy. The last time I tried I almost cut off one of my toes. The floor was covered in blood.

ESTEBAN: Do me a favour and cut your wrists instead and leave me alone.

LUCAS: You miserable selfish shirt-lifter.

ESTEBAN: Me miserable? But don´t you realise that she´s left me without a penny.

LUCAS: When all is said and done it was hers.

ESTEBAN: No, it wasn´t hers! It was mine as well, mine!

LUCAS: Yours? Come on don´t snivel and blow your nose. Your comics are over there.

ESTEBAN raises his head and changes his tone.

ESTEBAN: Where?

LUCAS: There on the chair.

ESTEBAN approaches the comics and begins to examine them meticulously.

LUCAS: You were right. That Rovira is a one-off. He ended up offering me up to a hundred and ninety Euros. And I told him: “You can shove your money up your arse. Those comics belong to my brother, to my brother”.

ESTEBAN does not appear to listen to LUCAS, he continues examining the comics obsessively.

LUCAS: You listening to me or not? He ended up offering me up to ten Euros more than you. But we had a deal, didn´t we? We´re partners. We´re a team, isn´t that right? Brothers and partners. Are you listening to me or am I going to have to throw these scissors at your head?

ESTEBAN: Yes, I´m listening. Many thanks.

ESTEBAN picks up the comics and goes to his room to leave them there.

LUCAS: Many thanks…? If I´d known you wouldn´t help me cut my toenails I´d have sold them to Rovira.

LUCAS squints. He bites his tongue and goes back to his toenails. ESTEBAN appears. 

LUCAS: Well you used to cut mum´s.

ESTEBAN: You said it. I used to. Now she can get fucked. No more being her fool. I´m going.

LUCAS: Oh yes? You as well?

ESTEBAN: I´m going to Carmona with Tomás.

LUCAS: Well may you and your Prince Charming live happily ever after.

ESTEBAN: I´m off right now to tell him that I´m going with him.

LUCAS: The money.

ESTEBAN: Eh?

LUCAS: My money.

ESTEBAN: Your money?

LUCAS: I´ve brought you the comics now you have to give me the money.

ESTEBAN: Yes, now.

LUCAS: Now when?

ESTEBAN: As soon as I´ve sold them I´ll give you your share.

LUCAS: That wasn´t what we agreed.

ESTEBAN: Calm down we´re partners, aren´t we?

LUCAS: You told me they were sold.

ESTEBAN: It´s a good batch. I´ll soon sell them and when I sell them we’ll have the money.

LUCAS: We said we were a team and no lies.

ESTEBAN: I´ll give you more. I´ll give you a hundred and ninety.

LUCAS: You´ve swindled me.

ESTEBAN: Two hundred.

LUCAS: I want my money now!

ESTEBAN: OK, I´m going to make a call. Maybe I can line something up today.

LUCAS: You´ve let me down. I thought we had a deal.

ESTEBAN: And we do Lucas, we do.

ESTEBAN approaches the telephone, he takes out a small pocketbook and searches for a number.

LUCAS: I told you no lies. Look I told you.

ESTEBAN: You´ll see how they´ll snatch them up.

ESTEBAN dials a number. LUCAS gets up and he picks up a lighter from the kitchen and checks to see if it works. He picks up the bottle of brandy and goes out without ESTEBAN noticing.

ESTEBAN (To telephone): Yes, hello, it´s Esteban and I´d like to speak to Mr Ibáñez, on behalf of Esteban (…) Yes, I´ll wait (he sees that Lucas is not there. He covers the receiver). Lucas?… Lucas?… (To telephone) Yes, yes, I´m here. How are you Mr Ibáñez? (…) Well we´re not so bad. I´m calling because I have a batch that… (…) Ah, yes, yes, it´s true, she was taken in but now she´s better, thank you. As I was saying, I have a batch of… (…) Nothing, it was nothing she had a bump on her head, nothing serious. It´s a magnificent batch that I´m sure that… (…) No, no she´s now at home, yes. Well I have the complete first set of… (…) Yes, I´ll pass on your best wishes, thanks, thanks. What I was saying was it´s a first edition in perfect condition of… (…) Well my mother must be around sixty something or seventy. (…) Yes, yes, she´s still very young like you Mr Ibáñez, like you. (…) Of course, many thanks, from you I´ll tell her (…) No, no, don´t hang up. I called you because I have the first edition of the first set in perfect condition of Flash Gordon. (…) That´s right.

LUCAS returns with the bottle, he sits down at the table and continues with his toenails. ESTEBAN watches him, he winks and signals to the receiver smiling. 

(…) Yes of course, the thirty-five first issues in perfect condition. I wanted to know if you´re interested. (…) Of course you´ll have to see them. It´s only logical. When would be a good time for you? (…) Very good, well tomorrow morning if that is convenient for you. I´ll come by your shop. (…) That´s right, goodbye, good morning, goodbye, goodbye.

He hangs up.

ESTEBAN: You see? It´s almost settled.

LUCAS: Too late.

ESTEBAN: What´s that smell?

LUCAS: Could be my feet?

ESTEBAN: No, it smells of…

A trace of smoke is coming from the passage.

ESTEBAN: What´s that?

LUCAS: I told you it was too late.

ESTEBAN: What have you done you wretch?

LUCAS: We were a team and you swindled me.

ESTEBAN launches himself towards his room. Shouts are heard. LUCAS cuts his toe and shouts. The smoke increases.

LUCAS: Ah! God dam fucking toenails!

ESTEBAN (OFF): Fire! Fire!

ESTEBAN enters running and grabs the mop bucket full of water from next to the sink.

ESTEBAN: You´re mad! What have you done! I had a buyer!

ESTEBAN disappears with the bucket. LUCAS begins to make himself a crude bandage for his toe with a sock.

ESTEBAN (OFF): You´re mad!

LUCAS: You´re right. I didn´t stop until I cut myself. I really don´t know what’s the fucking point of toenails.

He pours himself a drink. ESTEBAN emerges with his head down and with traces of ash on his face and hands. He appears to be totally gone.

ESTEBAN: I´m going to kill you.

LUCAS: Have you put it out properly? We don´t want the whole place to burn down because of a few fucking comics.

ESTEBAN (Picks up Lucas´ full glass): I´m going to kill you.

ESTEBAN throws the glass in LUCAS´ face. The brandy goes in his eyes. LUCAS shouts with pain and falls to the floor. ESTEBAN kicks him several times in the stomach and pounces on him grabbing him by the throat. They struggle and roll over a couple of times. LUCAS bites ESTEBAN´S arm. ESTEBAN shouts and lets him go. LUCAS seizes the opportunity to turn ESTEBAN over, pin him down and sit on his chest. Out of control, he grabs ESTEBAN´S throat with one hand and with the other he blindly searches for the scissors that have fallen to the floor. He manages to pick them up and he waves them towards ESTEBAN´S face. His hand trembles.

ESTEBAN: Kill me! Murderer! Kill me!

LUCAS remains frozen for a few seconds and then lets ESTEBAN go. He gets up slowly and he sits down while he rubs his eyes. ESTEBAN sits up with difficulty clutching his throat.

ESTEBAN: You´re a murderer!

LUCAS: Don´t you say that again.

ESTEBAN: You´re a mad drunk and a murderer!

LUCAS: Shut up!

ESTEBAN: What are you going to do? Are you going to kill me as well?

LUCAS is in shock. ESTEBAN picks up the bottle and gives him a drink. When the alcohol passes down LUCAS´ throat, he begins to cough. 

ESTEBAN: You didn´t have the right to do it.

LUCAS: I was just a kid, it was an accident.

ESTEBAN: Dad loved us.

LUCAS: It was just an accident.

ESTEBAN: It was his way of showing it! He loved us and you killed him!

LUCAS: I was only defending you. He was on top of you. I smashed the chair into his ribs so you could escape. He threw himself at me like a mad dog. I was only defending myself. You saw it. I only pushed him. It was an accident. The bathroom floor was wet. He slipped and he hit the back of his neck. You were in front of him, you saw it.

ESTEBAN: Why did you do it? Why did you have to do it? He was our father.

LUCAS: He was a monster!

ESTEBAN: You´re a monster! What kind of son is capable of killing his own father! You destroyed this family. You didn´t have any right to do it but you did it. Everything could have been different. You had no right to interfere, none. It was something between the two of us. Between Dad and me. No one more than the two of us. It was our secret. And you had to stick your fucking nose in and fuck everything up as usual. No one would have found out. And you fucked everything up. Everything.

LUCAS: But I thought that…

ESTEBAN: Dad loved me. He loved us. In his own way but he loved us.

ESTEBAN slowly walks away. LUCAS watches him closely.

LUCAS: It was just an accident.

He picks up the bottle and drinks from it compulsively.

 

9. 

A week later. The bookshelves in the dining room are empty. There is no trace of any books anywhere. LUISA is in her wheelchair next to the table. She is just finishing ironing a shirt. On a chair there are some recently ironed trousers with a belt in place. LUISA is humming a popular song. She has a serene smile.

LUISA: Lucas, it´s ready now.

LUCAS comes out of the bathroom barefoot and he approaches the table. He is wearing a new vest and underpants. His hair is wet. LUISA gives him the shirt. She speaks to him sweetly.

LUCAS: What a lovely bath!

LUISA: Here, put it on. Be careful.

LUCAS: It´s hot.

He puts on the shirt and begins to button it. LUISA touches her head with a gesture of pain.

LUCAS: Are you OK?

LUISA: Yes, I´m fine. The trousers are over there.

LUCAS: Are they new?

LUISA: No, they´re washed and ironed.

LUCAS: Well they look new.

He puts on the trousers. He looks at himself.

LUCAS: If the gypsy could only see me now…

LUISA: Tuck the shirt in.

LUCAS: You mean…?

LUISA: Of course. Come here let me help you.

LUCAS moves nearer and LUISA tucks his shirt into his trousers. She hoists the trousers up high and does the belt up.

LUCAS: So high?

LUISA: Of course. You can´t go around with your pants hanging out. Look how handsome you are.

LUCAS: I don´t know. I´m getting the sensation I´ve been possessed by Esteban.

LUISA: Quiet, quiet. Come on pass me the comb.

LUCAS: The comb?

LUISA: Relax, it doesn´t bite.

LUCAS passes her a comb that is lying on the table.

LUISA: Bend down a little I can´t reach.

LUCAS: Alright, but no tugging.

LUCAS sits on the floor with his back leaning against the legs of his mother. LUISA begins to comb him. LUCAS closes his eyes. He appears to fall into a state of ecstasy.

LUISA: Like this, see?

LUCAS: Eh, that´s lovely that comb.

LUISA: Of course

LUCAS: Hummm… it´s so relaxing.

LUISA: And once you get used to it, it´s no trouble at all.

LUCAS: Ooooh… lovely.

LUISA: When you were all little I combed your hair every day. I washed your little faces and I dressed you in clean clothes and I combed you. Combed you so well. I made your sandwiches for lunch. I put them in the checked bag that I´d embroided with your names and I took you to school. Do you remember the woollen jackets that I made you?

LUCAS (With his eyes closed): Of course, and the little woollen trousers. I remember them as well.

LUISA: You were so cute the two of you. You must have been about two and Esteban around six. Your brother absolutely adored you. You were his little doll. He used to spend the whole blessed day with you. He was the only one who could understand you. We used to say to him: “What does the baby say?”. Your tongue was more twisted than a corkscrew.

LUCAS´ breathing is becoming more and more resonant. He is moving from relaxation to sleep. LUISA keeps combing him very slowly.

LUISA: It was so long ago. So many things… I don´t remember when it all began to change. I swear I don´t remember.

One day you wake up surrounded by dirty clothes, empty bottles and unpaid bills, and reproaches, and shouts and fights. And it doesn’t seem you’re awake. It seems you´re trapped inside a nightmare. But it isn´t a nightmare, you´re awake. Confused and lost but awake. And that’s the worst nightmare. To be awake.

LUCAS begins to snore. LUISA leans over to look at his face. She sees he is sleeping. She smiles and caresses his head. She picks up a mirror from the table. She looks at her reflexion. She slowly caresses her face and she takes the mirror away, leaving it resting in her lap.

LUISA: Lucas, son.

LUCAS (Opening his eyes): Eh?

LUISA: You were asleep.

LUCAS: I nodded off. That comb is so relaxing!

LUISA (Gives him the mirror): Here, see how handsome you are.

LUCAS: Let´s see (Taking the mirror) It´s like I said before. The spitting image of my brother.

LUISA: Don´t talk rubbish, you look just fine. By the way, do have any news of Esteban?

LUCAS: Esteban? … well … I don´t know. But fine I´m sure he´s fine.

LUISA: He´s fine?

LUCAS: Yes, he called me and he told me he was just fine and that he´d come round as soon as he´d finished helping María.

LUISA: María?

LUCAS: Well… yes. He´s… helping her with the move. That´s it, helping her with the move.

LUISA: So, María´s now got the house?

LUCAS: Yes, and apparently it´s very nice. With lots of light and little birdies…

LUISA: So Esteban is with María.

LUCAS: Yes, they went together the two of them. They now get on like a house on fire. Esteban´s lending her a hand with the decorating. You know he’s got a way with those things.

LUISA: I´m glad that you are all helping each other.

LUCAS: Of course, we´re all of a kind.

LUISA raises her hand to her forehead.

LUISA: It feels like my head´s going to explode.

LUCAS: Would you like a pill?

LUISA: No, I don´t want any more pills now.

LUCAS: You´ll soon get well in your village, you´ll see. They´ve promised me that when the house is ready we´ll all go and live there. They´re really looking forward to seeing you.

LUISA: Lucas, son, promise me something.

LUCAS: Tell me.

LUISA: Promise me that you´ll talk to my granddaughter. To your daughter.

Silence. LUISA closes her eyes, she speaks with more and more difficulty.

LUCAS: Alright, I promise. I´ll speak to your granddaughter. With… my daughter.

LUISA: That´s what I like to hear my boy. No bitterness.

LUCAS: No bitterness.

LUISA: Can I tell you something?

LUCAS: Go on.

LUISA: I don´t want to go back to the village.

LUCAS: Ah no? Well don´t worry. If you don´t want to go to your village we won´t go. We´ll stay here just the two of us nice and quiet.

LUISA lets the arm holding the comb fall.

If I tell you the truth I don´t give a shit about going to your village either. Nor about being surrounded by trees, oor about the bloody birds. We can get by very well just the two of us here in our own home.

The comb falls from LUISA´S hand. LUCAS does not notice.

With this bible student get-up I’ll soon get a job and you´ll see. On my first payday I´ll buy a kilo of prawns and a box of Ribeiro white wine. If one day you drink a little it won’t do you any harm.

LUISA´S head falls slowly forward until it is motionless.

And I´ll also buy some calamares in breadcrumbs and some salted almonds, and some fresh cockles.

LUISA stops breathing.

Oysters no, they´re aphrodisiacs and no one’s made of stone… I´ll even wear a tie. And you´ll have to dress up too, eh? If you like we can take some photos. Yes, I´ll buy a camera and we´ll take some photos. The two of us together. We´ll be able to send them to Berlin.

Darkness. 

 

 

 

One thought on “Empty Bottles

  1. Pingback: Editor’s Note 5.2 | The Mercurian

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