Dust (Dialogue Between Man and Woman)

By Saverio La Ruina

Translated by Thomas Haskell Simpson

Volume 5, Issue 4 (Fall 2015)

In 1992, actor and playwright Saverio La Ruina established the theater company Scena Verticale in his hometown of Castrovillari, a provincial metropolis of 20,000 in the hills bordering the southern Italian states of Calabria and Basilicata, far outside the regular circuit of theater. In the years since, he and his company have won virtually every important theatrical prize in Italy, including prestigious UBU Prizes both for acting and playwriting. With his collaborator Dario De Luca, his company has also established the annual festival, Primavera dei Teatri, which has had great success bringing national attention to theater produced outside Italy’s recognized cultural centers.

La Ruina is most known for three theatrical monologues he has written in Calabrian dialect and performed throughout Italy, in two of which—Dissonorata (Dishonored) and La Borto (The Abortion)—he speaks in the character of a village woman of his region who has been victimized by the brutal male honor codes that have held and continue to hold sway in numerous parts of rural Italy.

The present play, Polvere (here translated as Dust), first performed in 2015, represents a striking departure in at least two ways from what spectators have come to expect from La Ruina. In place of a solo monologue, this play is a dialogue between two characters. The speech and modes of thought of this urban couple (with the male role performed by La Ruina) has lost any trace whatsoever of dialect. Instead they communicate in the deodorized speech typical of contemporary mediatized, educated, suburbanized Italy (which, in its reduced, involute vocabulary, can also be considered a dialect, but that’s another matter). Despite speech that appears plain to the point of being pallid, democratic and (so-to-speak) free-market, the predominant sensation we have from the play’s first moments is of language used as a vehicle of menace, of domination, an instrument for the creeping invasion of a demented psyche into a vulnerable one. The most immediate point of comparison for English-speaking readers would obviously be Pinter, and more recently perhaps, a contemporary master of the ambiguous pause, Annie Baker, though Baker’s hesitations and silences are certainly more comic. Although a stinging social critic, Baker generally has affection for her character’s foibles and flaws. In La Ruina the situation is more visceral and more disturbing, and we can say that he puts greater demands on his audience.

The challenges of this translation are deceptive, precisely because of La Ruina’s exploration of a style of speech that presents itself as innocent and candid but is in fact loaded with violence. A particular challenge for the translator is to find effective and sensitive American equivalents for those incredibly common, seemingly neutral, terribly banal expressions apparently devoid of denotative meaning, which are sometimes called “discourse markers.” These terms, signifiers without a fixed signified, serve as shifting signals between interlocutors in a dialogue, and although they have no tangible meaning, they are quite culturally specific. In Italian, for example, there is the word ma, which means “but,” but there is also Mah…, a sort of iteration of “but” that expresses lack of enthusiasm about or assent with regard to what has just been said or asked. In this kind of language, the vocal sounds themselves—for example, labial b and m, the dental d, and aspirated vowel sounds—seem more important than the fluid, contingent meanings of the words spoken. Even more than their equivalents in English do, the Italian words (yes) and no (no) quite often, when used rhetorically or to gain time while formulating a response, may express their opposites (I make this assertion while recognizing that no means no). Because American rhetorical tactics are different from Italian ones, it can feel unsatisfying and not quite right to translate Italian into English yes.

Here are a few examples of discourse markers from only a few pages of the translation (which may indirectly serve to explain the play’s allusive title, referring to something omnipresent but invisible, oppressive but ungraspable): “Uhm…, But…, Look, I’m sorry, Come on, No, Yes, Well, Anyway, Really, Eh?, eh…, Gosh, Hm…, All Right, Now now, (Nods), Yes but, OK, Wow, Nooo, (Silence), You think?” Especially in rendering an intimate relationship, each of these ambiguous, rather vapid exhalations can betray more truth and convey more dramatic power than whole paragraphs of verbiage.

More urgent to discuss here, however, is the reaction of anger and at times outright hostility this play has aroused in some spectators and readers. Dust was partly developed in consultation with, and has often been performed for, people at Women’s Shelters, refuges for women who have fallen victim to violent relationships, and also at anti-violence centers for men who have been perpetrators of violence. La Ruina has written to me that in post-play discussions these audiences “always express great satisfaction for how the play reflects in precise, surprising, surgical ways the dynamics at work in violent couple relationships.” In a review for the online journal Doppiozero, critic Maddalena Giovanelli enumerates the symptoms portrayed with surgical precision in Dust: “the programmed deconstruction of the personality of the other through continuous debasing, diminishing, molding; the demand that the other abandon everything to the relationship; the demand even to nullify the past; the wish to dominate every aspect of the life of the other; the obsession with knowing every instant; the phobia about being lied to.”

Despite these responses from the people most directly connected to the problem the play confronts, other spectators have reacted, La Ruina tells me, with “hostility toward the play, as though it was itself hostile and violent, confusing what raises the issue with the issue itself.” These viewers’ complaint center on two aspects: First, the maddening passivity, almost to the point of complicity, of the woman toward her own victimization (In one performance, in the middle of an intense moment, an exasperated spectator yelled out, “Sparagli!”—Shoot him!). The second complaint condemns the play’s arc, or seeming lack thereof; that is, its structure of slow, unrelenting escalation of cruelty (with one brief exception), which some have claimed robs the play of breath, of dramatic variety.

I have discovered the same reaction of hostility among readers to whom I have sent drafts of this translation, including one who angrily called the play “an exercise in hostility,” and a text message that simply read, “I am the wrong person to evaluate this play. I just don’t cope well with this sort of thing. Sorry.” Discussion over. Still more troubling are the non-reactions of those to whom I’ve sent the draft, who promise to send their thoughts and comments, but then never do despite repeated requests, as though the whole matter were so distasteful that it were better to pretend it didn’t exist.

Toward readers who prefer silence to dialogue, the thought comes that they should probably avoid a play called Othello, which deals with a similar dynamic far more excruciatingly and violently, and they might do well to stay away from Greek tragedy altogether. As for Dust, I can only cite the words of the playwright himself: “I have to resign myself that the destiny of this play is in the divisions it creates (weird for me because the last 3 monologues I’ve done create almost total empathy). I don’t bother with whether the play is ugly or beautiful. Maybe the most important thing is what happens around it.”

Thomas Haskell Simpson

Works Cited

Albanese, Angela. “Scavare nella Polvere. Dialogo tra uomo e donna di Saverio La Ruina” (“Digging in the Dust. Dialogue between man and woman by Saverio La Ruina”). Mantichora 5 (forthcoming December 2015).

Giovanelli, Maddalena. “La Ruina: la violenza, la polvere.” Doppiozero (January 2015). http://www.doppiozero.com/materiali/scene/la-ruina-la-violenza-la-polvere

Saverio La Ruina is an Italian actor, playwright and theater director. In 1992 he founded the theatrical cooperative Scena Verticale in his hometown of Castrovillari in the southern region of Calabria, far outside the national centers of culture. As an actor, La Ruina has won Italy’s most prestigious new theater award, the Premio Ubu, for his two stage monologues in Calabrian dialect, Dissonorata and La Borto, in which he performs in the character of a woman victimized by the crushing patriarchal honor codes that still hold sway in many parts of rural Italy. In 1999 he and his company established an annual performance festival, Primavera dei Teatri, which brings to light plays and playwrights who originate from outside the regular theatrical circuit, and puts them in contact with audiences often excluded from contemporary performance. For more information, see: http://www.scenaverticale.it/.

Thomas Simpson is Associate Professor of Instruction in Italian at Northwestern University. In The Mercurian, he has published a translation of Marco Martinelli’s “Rumore di acque” which has been performed in New York, New Jersey, Chicago, and Milwaukee. His translations of plays by Edoardo de Filippo have been performed in New York, New Haven, Pittsburgh, and Seattle. He is also translator of Marco Paolini’s The Story of Vajont, Marco Baliani’s Body of State (co-translator), The Comic Mask in the Commedia dell’Arte by Antonio Fava, and Valentina Valentini’s Theatres, Worlds, Bodies  (ths907@northwestern.edu).

 

Dust (Dialogue Between Man and Woman)

BEGINNING

 As they enter, SHE is singing to herself Cole Porter’s C’est Magnifique

SHE:   Nice party, no?

HE:     Uhm…

SHE:   My friends, did you like them?

HE:     Uhm…

SHE:   Did you have fun?

HE:     Listen, if you don’t mind, do you think you could find a hotel for me?

SHE:   Why?

HE:     Would you mind calling a hotel, please, so I don’t sleep at your house?

SHE:   What do you mean? Come on, get in the car.

HE:     No, I’m not getting in.

SHE:   But… did I do something…

HE:     Look, I’m sorry, I’m just tired, I want to go to sleep. Would you mind?

SHE:   But why not at my place? You slept there last night…

HE:     Last night.

SHE:   What’s changed now?

HE:     I have to explain?

SHE:   I don’t understand, we had such a nice evening, you seemed happy… What’s the matter?

HE:     You’re so dry.

SHE:   Dry, what do you mean? You mean too bony, skinny, what…?

HE:     No no, you’re a dry woman, of feeling.

SHE:   Why, did I disappoint you? If I did something wrong, I’m sorry, I don’t…

HE:     Are you going to call a hotel or not?

SHE:   What did I do to you?

HE:     What did you do…

SHE:   No, I really don’t know…

HE:     Ah, you don’t know?

SHE:   No, I don’t know, you have to tell me.

HE:     Did you feel fulfilled?

SHE:   About what?

HE:     I felt like I’d shown up with Brigitte Bardot… Everyone greeting you, hugging you. Did you see yourself?

SHE:   It was a party at my friends’ house, we all know each other…

HE:     (Upset) So I entered the house of these people and you presented me like I was some friend.

SHE:   But…

HE:     But you never touched me, a little gesture, anything…

SHE:   Besides the fact that I never had time because you disappeared at a certain point.

HE:     Do you think it worked?

SHE:   Worked?

HE:     To make you understand.

SHE:   But I don’t know you, I thought maybe he’s gone outside to talk to someone, take a walk, have a smoke…

HE:     You never came over to hug me and most of all you never made it clear we were together.

SHE:   Look, in a little place like this if I come to a party with someone out of nowhere they see in two seconds there’s something between us. It’s not like I go around with men, like it’s nothing. Anyway, look, I assure you, if tomorrow you ask my friends if I’m with someone, they understood perfectly.

HE:     So why didn’t you say my boyfriend?

SHE:   Because you just slept at my house the night before, I didn’t even know it was like that for you. I thought he’ll think I’m an idiot if I say my boyfriend. Like maybe for you it’s I’m here now, gone tomorrow, it’s nothing.

HE:     Because that’s how it is for you, right?

SHE:   (Silence)

HE:     That’s what you think, then?

SHE:   No, that’s not how it is for me. But my boyfriend… seemed a little too much. If I knew it mattered to you I would have specified that we’re seeing each other, that we have a relationship, I don’t know… Anyway, I’m sorry…

HE:     That’s a relief.

SHE:   Maybe I didn’t pay you enough attention…

HE:     I’d say.

SHE:   So I’m sorry then. Anyway I explained why.

HE:     Anyway, there was a positive note tonight.

SHE:   What?

HE:     Your eyes.

SHE:   (Silence)

HE:     Can I ask you a question?

SHE:   Sure.

HE:     But, no, maybe it’s better not to.

SHE:   Why?

HE:     Come on, maybe you don’t feel like answering.

SHE:   No, I feel like it.

HE:     Yes, but maybe you think this guy why’s he sticking his nose in my…

SHE:   No, I’m not thinking anything, actually I’m curious, tell me.

HE:     You touch yourself.

SHE:   I touch myself?

HE:     Yes, the whole night you were touching your hands, how come?

SHE:   Well, I don’t know, maybe because my hands are always cold, so I warm them up, I don’t know…

HE:     And your throat. You were always touching your throat too.

SHE:   Well, because I always need to cover my neck, even in the summer, so if I don’t have something on I touch it.

HE:     But you touch yourself continuously.

SHE:   What do you mean, I touch myself?

HE:     You touch yourself, you’re always there touching yourself.

SHE:   But when, in which moment?

HE:     When you listen to the others.

SHE:   Well maybe it relaxes me. It’s just like when someone touches their beard, no? I touch my neck, my hair…

HE:     Anyway, we won’t talk about it if you don’t want to.

SHE:   No, that’s not it; I want to understand. Why, what do you think about the fact that I touch myself?

HE:     That it can either be sheer distraction or a way of communicating something.

SHE:   I’d say it’s more distraction. Actually for me it’s a sign I’m listening, it shows I’m concentrating on listening.

HE:     Yes, but if you have a tight little t-shirt with a low neckline and you touch your throat that way, a man watching you, it’s not like he thinks you’re concentrating.

SHE:   Why, what should he think?

HE:     Maybe he thinks you have a pretty uninhibited rapport with your body. Or worse, it’s a way of winking, no?

SHE:   Well, that seems… No, it’s just a habit. Some people chew their nails for example. Maybe for me it’s also a way of reassuring myself.

HE:     Why, were you embarrassed?

SHE:   No, not with them.

HE:     But I was.

SHE:   You?

HE:     Yes, me.

SHE:   Why?

HE:     I was wondering what they thought of me.

SHE:   Really?

HE:     Yes, I was really embarrassed.

SHE:   Oh come on…

HE:     Yes, very, another reason why I left.

SHE:   I didn’t get that at all.

HE:     No, eh? Should I show you how you do?

SHE:   (Nodding) Hm…

HE:     You’re not aware, but when they’re talking to you, you touch yourself (he caresses his neck in a very sensual way) like that, and so if you touch yourself that way…

SHE:   But I don’t think… Do I really do that?

HE:     Yes, you do that.

SHE:   Gosh I’m sorry, I mean, what you’re showing me is not nice.

HE:     Look, I know maybe you do it distractedly, but you have to be more attentive to the signals you send. Be aware of it. If you want to send them, send them, but if you don’t want to send them, don’t send them.

SHE:   I definitely didn’t want to send them.

HE:     But if you go like (as before) this.

SHE:   Hm… Actually, If I think about it… I do that a lot. I just didn’t think it could… become…

HE:     If I’m telling you as a man, trust me.

SHE:   No no, I trust you, I trust you.

HE:     Trust me.

SHE:   Yeah, if I did like that.

HE:     All right…

SHE:   All in all… a disaster.

HE:     Now now, come on, let’s not exaggerate, the important thing is to understand why.

SHE:   Anyway, I’m sorry I embarrassed you.

HE:     All right, you didn’t do it on purpose, you said so, no?

SHE:   No, absolutely not. Anyway, I’m sorry.

HE:     (Sweetly, smiling) We’re together, no?

SHE:   (Nods)

HE:     The next time though, let them know right away who you’re with.

SHE:   (Nods)

HE:     That is, it needs to be very clear that you’re with me.

SHE:   (Nods)

HE:     But you have to be the one to say so, especially when I come to a place that’s yours, no?

SHE:   (Nods)

HE:     You have to present me.

SHE:   (Nods, slightly bewildered)

Blackout

SOME TIME LATER 1

HE:     Sit down

SHE:   Why, what do we have to…

HE:     Sit down.

They sit.

HE:     Come on, let’s tell each other everything, I want to know everything about you, your past, who there was before me…

SHE:   (Silence)

HE:     Come on, I’m interested.

SHE:   No, come on, you start.

HE:     First I want to know about you.

SHE:   No, you first, then me.

HE:     All right then. I don’t know if I should tell you…

SHE:   You said we have to tell each other everything, no?

HE:     Yes, but I noticed that you’re a very cautious person about certain thing…

SHE:   Like what?

HE:     Well, we still haven’t made love yet, no?

SHE:   Yes, I need some time.

HE:     No, it’s fine, but… that’s never happened to me before. I’ve always been with women… who really want it.

SHE:   Well, I’m really everything but that.

HE:     Yes, I understand that doesn’t work with you.

SHE:   I’m not saying it doesn’t work, just not in those terms…

HE:     Yes yes, but I want to learn your ways. I just wanted to tell you how I am. That’s all. Actually, I want to tell you about something that really affected me.

SHE:   What?

HE:     As a photographer, you know?

SHE:   Yes.

HE:     I told you about the photo essay I did about Indian women…

SHE:   Yes.

HE:     …that came out a while ago in ‘Espresso’… Though in my opinion they didn’t choose the best pictures.

SHE:   Why?

HE:     Well because they were looking for ones they could connect to social issues, which are fine, you need to, but I would have chosen the ones that showed more their way of being.

SHE:   And how is that?

HE:     That is their way of being doesn’t come through in their external beauty, which is definitely notable, but in the internal kind that comes through in their behavior, their composure, in their little movements, never a gesture out of place. Like authentic modesty.

SHE:   OK, these things you’re telling me seem very positive.

HE:     They don’t have, in other words, that female craving you find everywhere in the West to please always and no matter what.

SHE:   OK, but not all women, though.

HE:     Almost. Anyway for me the Indian woman is beauty. You know what happened to my father two years ago?

SHE:   What happened to him?

HE:     He got lost. Or rather we thought he’d gotten lost. In truth he was trying to get back to our old house in the country. But it was too far by the paved road so he cut across the fields. He fell down a ravine and couldn’t get up again.

SHE:   How long was he stuck there?

HE:     Eighteen hours, including a whole night, in winter. He was eighty-four years old.

SHE:   Wow, did he survive?

HE:     I looked for him in the churches, in the bars, at the hospital, even under bridges, but I couldn’t get the picture of my mother out of my head, back home, waiting. I asked myself what my father would have done if he was standing in the same place I was. I looked over toward our old country house and start cutting across to it. I get to a ledge, I hear a voice far off, it seems like a dream, I go down… and I find him there stretched out, face down in the dirt. I help him get up and ask him, dad, are you okay? And he answered: pretty good.

SHE:   Nooo…

HE:     YES. Eighty-four years old, after a night in the cold with his face in the dirt, he answered me: pretty good.

SHE:   Incredible.

HE:     And you know why he was saved?

SHE:   Why?

HE:     Because that saint of a woman, my mother, would dress him in long winter underwear, wool underwear, heavy wool underwear with an elastic band, then his pants, his shirt, a sweater, an overcoat, scarf, hat and gloves. If he hadn’t been dressed that way he would have frozen to death. That’s what love is. Love conquers even death.

SHE:   Thank you, that’s a beautiful story.

HE:     Now tell me about you.

SHE:   (Silence)

HE:     Come on, I’m curious…

SHE:   (Silence)

HE:     Start with the most important thing…

SHE:   (Silence)

HE:     Or the most beautiful…

SHE:   Uhm…

HE:     So?

SHE:   This thing happened at night, in Rome, shortly after my father died, I mean, I was very upset.

HE:     (Silence)

SHE:   I was staying at a girlfriend’s apartment. We hadn’t seen each other for a while so we stayed up late talking. She knew I was really close to my father, she asked me how I felt when he died, what had changed in my life. Then she told me all about problems she was having at work, with her boyfriend, you know, all that sort of thing. At a certain point it was very late, she had to get up early for work, so she went to bed. By myself I couldn’t stop thinking about my father, I couldn’t sleep, I was crying. In those days I was having panic attacks…

HE:     (Silence)

SHE:   In other words I couldn’t lie there in bed. Since you couldn’t smoke in the building, I go down to the street to have a smoke. And I’m walking back and forth in front of the door. It was August. It was like three in the morning.

HE:     (Silence)

SHE:   I don’t know if you know that area. She lives on the corner of Via Mottolese and Via Amadei.

HE:     (Silence)

SHE:   Right down there on the corner there’s a newsstand.

HE:     (Silence)

SHE:   Anyway I was smoking and walking, from the door of the building to the newsstand, newsstand to door. A guy grabs me when I’m trying to get back in the building and drags me into an alley…

HE:     (Silence)

SHE:   Yeah, he dragged me into an alley… and that’s where it happened.

HE:     (Silence)

SHE:   So, when I was living through this thing I didn’t… I didn’t cry for help, I didn’t scream, not right away anyway, I just froze.

HE:     (Silence)

SHE:   All right, so, just kill me. Like the time I crashed my car into a snow bank. I said all right, I’m dying, it’s all over, do your worst. I was, like, anesthetized.

HE:     (Silence)

SHE:   Then, I remember, a motorbike went by with no muffler, you know?, and for me it was like they’d slapped me and I screamed and so the guy ran away.

HE:     (Silence)

SHE:   But by then the worst had already happened.

HE:     (Silence)

SHE:   (Smiling bitterly) All this just to let you know it’s pretty fragile in here, I mean, with me it’s not like you take me to bed and start doing somersaults.

HE:     I will learn… from you.

Blackout

SOME TIME LATER 2

HE:     Who did this painting?

SHE:   A girlfriend of mine from when we were little did it.

HE:     And what’s her name?

SHE:   Claudia.

HE:     Claudia… Is it signed?

SHE:   Yes.

He goes close to the picture.

HE:     Hm, Claudia. You like it, this painting?

SHE:   I don’t know if it’s a fine painting. I don’t know if Claudia is a good painter, but she gave it to me for my birthday. It’s been with me always in all the different places I’ve lived. I don’t mind it, it’s pretty. I mean, I think it’s pretty.

HE:     But have you seen the woman in the center of the painting?

SHE:   Yes, I’ve seen her.

HE:     And how is she?

SHE:   Eh… it’s a beautiful figure, beautiful body, tapered, I like it…

HE:     And these women at her feet?

SHE:   Well… They’re women but stylized, they seem a little bit like fish, like animals… I never thought they were women, they seem like flowers…

HE:     Uhm…

SHE:   What is it?

HE:     But don’t you see what a mean face this woman has?

SHE:   Well, no, actually I never noticed it.

HE:     Sit down.

SHE:   (Undecided)

HE:     Sit down.

They both sit down in front of the painting.

HE:     Look. However you look at it, she is in a seductive pose. With all these women, one spread over the other, around her feet. It’s a woman who is affirming her sensual power, no?

SHE:   You think?

HE:     Well, there she is, naked…

SHE:   Yes, but refined, delicate…

HE:     But naked, in the middle of a red painting, with this really mean face, this hair that looks like Medusa, and all these very sensual women, like a bunch of nymphs, laid at her feet.

SHE:   You think so?

HE:     Mmm… I don’t get it. I find it morose, erotic I’d say.

SHE:   But… I never looked at it like that.

He gets up and continues as though giving a lesson.

HE:     Look at the eyes. Anyway she has these long eyes…

SHE:   But I don’t… It’s not me, I don’t think… She made it, she gave it to me, but it’s not me.

HE:     But it’s you. She gave it to you because this is you. You like it?

SHE:   Well, if it’s me it doesn’t correspond much, that is, with this eye this way, mean like you say. If you see mine mean, sensual…

HE:     (As though making a positive remark) A little bit.

SHE:   But it doesn’t seem to me…

HE:     Why do you pluck your eyebrows?

SHE:   Eh?

HE:     The hairs of your eyebrows.

SHE:   But I don’t pluck them very much. There are only three or four here… They’re ugly.

HE:     You think?

SHE:   Yes, really, they’re ugly, because there are only three or four… scattered. So I pull them out.

HE:     Yes, but this way doesn’t look good on you.

SHE:   But I don’t do it any particular way. I only pull out these three or four that sprout up here…

HE:     Yes, but like that you give a very aggressive look to your eyebrows.

SHE:   You know I never thought about it… Aggressive, you say?

HE:     Very aggressive… But, do you look at yourself?

SHE:   It’s not like I look at myself very much.

HE:     I’ll show you.

He goes to get a mirror and holds it out to her.

HE:     Because anyway you see it’s a look that gives the eye a very aggressive expression.

SHE:   You think? Well… I didn’t think…

HE:     But it is. Look at yourself.

SHE:   I shouldn’t have done it?

HE:     No. Because you’re sweet, with this little girl face and these eyebrows change your expression, they make your expression more seductive, I don’t know if that’s clear.

SHE:   Yes, but even if I don’t pluck them the look doesn’t change. My father’s were like that too.

HE:     Are you sure?

SHE:   (Looking at herself in the mirror) Well… maybe my eye is a little aggressive…

HE:     Trust me.

SHE:   So no more plucking?

HE:     For now, no more plucking.

HE:     (Looking at the painting) And about this painting? What do we do with it?

SHE:   Uh…

HE:     You want to keep this painting?

SHE:   Well… I’ve had it for so many years… at least fifteen years. It doesn’t bother me, I mean.

HE:     Yes, but it represents an erotic aspect of you that I don’t like.

SHE:   But it’s just a picture…

HE:     Yes, but the day you throw away or burn this painting will be a very important day, it will mean you’ve grown up.

SHE:   Because it disturbs you if…

HE:     It disturbs me a lot.

Blackout.

SOME TIME LATER 3

Lights up. The painting is gone.

HE:     Did you move the chair?

SHE:   Ah, yes… yes, I moved the chair the other day.

HE:     And why did you move the chair?

SHE:   Well, I moved it because…

HE:     Would you please look at me?

SHE:   No, it’s just I’m making the tea…

HE:     The tea’s not important.

She turns.

SHE:   I moved it because…

He places a chair in front of his own.

HE:     Can you sit down and tell me here?

She sits.

SHE:   Here I am. So, I was telling you…

HE:     Something’s missing.

SHE:   And… what’s missing?

HE:     You didn’t say love.

SHE:   Ah, yes, sure, love, sorry, I’m sorry.

HE:     Very good. So, let’s repeat: why did you move the chair?

SHE:   Love, I was telling you that I moved it because…

HE:     But are you annoyed by what I’m asking you?

SHE:   No, love, I’m not annoyed, it’s that I was making the tea and so…

HE:     No, I’m saying, it’s not that you got irritated because…

SHE:   No, not at all, I’m explaining to you. Maybe I can’t remember, but I’ll try.

HE:     Well of course, try, think about it. Does it come to mind?

SHE:   Love, I think I bumped into it the other day before going to work because I was in a rush and…

HE:     But do you think you bumped it or did you bump it?

SHE:   Well, I believe I bumped into it. Yes, if I moved the chair, I bumped into it.

HE:     And why did you bump into it? It’s been there a while, no? I’ve never bumped into this chair since I’ve been coming here. Why did you bump into the chair?

SHE:   Well you know, I can’t remember…

HE:     So think about it.

Pause

SHE:   But maybe because I was sleepy, you know going to work, maybe I was late.

HE:     You were late? And why were you late?

SHE:   I can’t remember now exactly whether I was actually late, but…

HE:     Eh no, because you’re never late, so you’d remember if you were late that morning.

SHE:   Yes, maybe I was late, maybe the alarm didn’t go off.

HE:     And therefore: you were late because the alarm didn’t go off, you were rushing, you bumped into the chair and moved the chair. Hm, I understand. And how come the alarm didn’t go off? The alarm always goes off.

SHE:   Eh, well I don’t know, maybe the battery was dead.

HE:     And so you go to sleep risking that the alarm might not go off?

SHE:   Yes, that happened once. But now that I think about it, I’m sorry, I’m not so sure at all that it didn’t go off that morning.

HE:     Hm, so think about it; go ahead.

Pause

SHE:   You know, I can’t remember if the alarm went off or didn’t go off that morning?

HE:     Hm… But anyway, this chair, how long’s it been since you moved it?

SHE:   Eh, exactly, I’m trying to reconstruct it exactly, love, I’m sorry.

HE:     So think about it.

Pause

SHE:   Well, I don’t know… Love, when was the last time you came here?

HE:     The last time I came here it was there. So you moved it in the last two or three days?

SHE:   So yes then, I must have moved it in the last two or three days. If you can remember it…

HE:     Therefore in the last two or three days you were late to work?

SHE:   No, but in fact, love, it doesn’t seem to me… But now, it could be that the cleaning lady… Maybe Silvana, who comes to clean?

HE:     So then you got to work late or rather Silvana… When did Silvana come to clean?

SHE:   Eh, Silvana comes Thursday, so then… Today is Sunday, maybe Thursday Silvana came and moved the chair.

HE:     But how many years has Silvana been coming to clean?

SHE:   Eh… must be three years by now she’s been coming.

HE:     And she moves objects?

SHE:   I don’t know… it depends… Books for example she never moves… However, maybe, you know, sweeping…

HE:     So therefore you weren’t late getting to work?

SHE:   No, love, I don’t believe so.

HE:     And so why did you say the alarm didn’t go off? Before you said that the alarm didn’t go off.

SHE:   But I’m not really very sure at all, sorry. I thought, I was trying to think.

HE:     But you’re sure then that you weren’t late for work?

SHE:   Yes, I believe so… I don’t know, love, I’m sorry. Let’s call Silvana. That is, I don’t know… What should I do? Should we call Silvana? Do we want to ask if she moved the chair?

HE:     There’s no need to call Silvana. Were you late to work or weren’t you late for work?

SHE:   But it doesn’t seem to me that in the last three days… No, I don’t believe…

HE:     But have you ever had alarm problems with your cell phone?

SHE:   I don’t know, love, but I can remember, one morning, recently, that I was running a little. But I don’t know if it was Thursday or the week before and if I moved the chair that day.

HE:     And so, in other words, you didn’t hear the alarm.

SHE:   No, it actually didn’t ring, it’s not that I didn’t hear it.

HE:     And so therefore you have an alarm problem.

SHE:   Yes, maybe so… So then… that is, I set two alarms, I don’t know how…

HE:     Eh, you should start setting three alarms. For sure, not remembering whether, I mean… No? Love, why not think a little bit seriously about it?

SHE:   I can definitely think about it, love, I’m sorry, but… I swear… I don’t know, I’m sorry… I didn’t… But the chair doesn’t go there, should I put it where it was before? Because… that is, if it disturbs you, I don’t…

HE:     It doesn’t disturb me. That is, are you aware how important it is to be present to yourself when someone does things?

SHE:   Yes, love, I’m sorry, you’re right.

HE:     But was it bothering you, the seat there?

SHE:   No, it’s always been there. It’s because I bumped into it a moment… But for me, let’s put it where you want, I mean… if you don’t like it.

HE:     No no, it can stay. Do we want to move something else in the house?

SHE:   No, but it’s not like I want to move furniture.

HE:     But that’s not it. It’s that you cannot answer no, nothing, I moved it because I can’t remember. To nothing can one answer saying I can’t remember, the cleaning lady, me, you, the cat… No. If you have the craving to move the chair you have to justify your motive to me. We sit down, we talk about it and we understand what this desire of yours to move the chair derives from.

SHE:   But after all it doesn’t seem so important to me.

HE:     You believe it’s not important. But the chair is not the chair. The chair is everything, the chair is the glass, the tree, the neighbor’s beard. Today it’s the chair, but tomorrow it’s a person, a man and I need to understand whether you are a trustworthy woman.

SHE:   I’ll be more careful, believe me.

HE:     Why? Would you tell me everything you think?

SHE:   Yes, of course, obviously… What do you want to know, love, ask me.

HE:     Can I ask you anything at all?

SHE:   Yes.

HE:     And I can put my hands everywhere and everything is in its place?

SHE:   Sure, you’re at home with me.

HE:     Can I turn on your computer, can I look at your mail…

SHE:   Sure, of course…

HE:     Are you sure?

SHE:   Sure.

HE:     (With a bit of a boyish smile) All right, I believe you.

He plays around like a little boy making funny poses

HE:     Look how I believe you.

SHE:   (She laughs)

HE:     Do I believe you like this?

SHE:   (She laughs)

HE:     And like this?

SHE:   (She laughs)

HE:     Look, like this I believe you for sure.

SHE:   (She laughs)

HE:     But in your opinion will the others believe me this way?

SHE:   (She laughs)

HE:     Maybe more like this.

SHE:   (She laughs)

Blackout

SOME TIME LATER 4

He sees her smoking on the balcony.

HE:     Ah.

SHE:   No, sorry, it’s that I can’t quit all at once. A little at a time…

HE:     Did I say something? I didn’t say anything.

SHE:   It’s the first of the day, the first and last.

HE:     No, seeing as how last night we said we were going to quit smoking…

SHE:   You’re right, I’m sorry, but I just couldn’t make it.

HE:     Then on the sly…

SHE:   No, but I would’ve told you, sorry.

HE:     Hm… Sure, so you go hide for a cigarette…

SHE:   But…

HE:     You’re not a trustworthy woman.

SHE:   I’ll toss it right now.

HE:     (Taking the cigarette) Don’t you worry about it, I’ll take care of it, you sit down.

SHE:   (Hesitates)

HE:     Sit down.

She sits.

HE:     Listen… You remember three days ago when I called and you had just left school?

SHE:   Yes.

HE:     Then if you remember I called again to find out whether you’d made it home, no?

SHE:   Yes.

HE:     And you were still on the way. Remember?

SHE:   Yes.

HE:     Because you’d run into your friend, you said, no?

SHE:   Ah, yes, Marco. But not so much my friend as a friend of my brother’s.

HE:     Do you mind if we go over again what we said on the phone?

SHE:   No, love, you ask and I answer.

HE:     You met and greeted one another, no?

SHE:   Sure.

HE:     How?

SHE:   Ah… how? Hi, hi…

HE:     Where were you?

SHE:   I was walking.

HE:     And him?

SHE:   But I already told you, he was in the coffee shop down below here.

HE:     How’d you have your hair?

SHE:   Tied up.

HE:     And how were you dressed?

SHE:   With the orange dress.

HE:     With the orange dress? So you wanted to be noticed?

SHE:   No, love, what do you mean? It’s big on me, and kind of ugly.

HE:     Yes, but orange.

SHE:   Yes, but a faded orange, almost brown. Should I get it and show you?

HE:     There’s no need to get it, I know it.

SHE:   No one notices it…

HE:     So you say, no one notices it. In fact though, Marco noticed you.

SHE:   Actually, love, it was just by chance because he was coming out of the café and I was walking by.

HE:     And the fact that he came out right when you were walking by doesn’t tell you something?

SHE:   No no, it was clear that…

HE:     All right, did you shake hands or kiss?

SHE:   No, we kissed each other on the cheek, you know, ciao ciao…

HE:     But holding hands or not?

SHE:   Holding hands.

HE:     So you kissed and held hands.

SHE:   Yes, kissed and held hands.

HE:     How?

SHE:   What do you mean, how?

HE:     (Rising) Do you mind showing me exactly how you greeted him? Get up.

SHE:   (Undecided)

HE:     Get up.

She gets up. They repeat the greeting.

HE:     So you took each other’s hands and you kissed… Like this?

SHE:   Yes, exactly.

HE:     But did he hold your hand for long or a little?

SHE:   Well I don’t know… whatever is normal when two people greet…

HE:     A quick greeting?

SHE:   Yes, a quick greeting.

HE:     And when you saw him, what did you think?

SHE:   What did I think… Hm… Gosh, Marco, how long’s it been…

HE:     But did you think that you wanted to greet him?

SHE:   Well I don’t know, if I thought… that is, the time it takes to think and he was already there in front of me and we greeted one another, I didn’t think I’m going to greet him or I’m not going to greet him.

HE:     And were you happy to see him?

SHE:   Uhm…

HE:     In your opinion, were you happy to see him?

SHE:   Well, normally happy, that is… Um… curious I hadn’t seen him for so long, so what are you up to, or not up to, what have you been doing, where have you been?

HE:     And him, to see you?

SHE:   Well, yes, he seemed… normally, like two people who meet one another.

HE:     And after you greeted one another, what did you say to one another, that you’d be in touch?

SHE:   But I don’t even have Marco’s number…

HE:     So you didn’t say we’ll see each other soon.

SHE:   No. Ciao, have a great day, ciao.

HE:     And while you went back home after seeing Marco, did you think about having seen Marco?

SHE:   No, that is no, I didn’t think about him, why should I think about Marco? No.

HE:     So the whole day long you didn’t think about him anymore?

SHE:   No.

He takes out the cigarette he had taken from her, goes out to the balcony and lights it.

Blackout.

SOME TIME LATER 5

She is alone, cell phone rings, they talk.

SHE:   Hi, love, how are you?

HE:     Uhm…

SHE:   Love, is something wrong?

HE:     No, it’s that…

SHE:   Don’t you feel well?

HE:     (Silence)

SHE:   Tell me, love, what is it?

HE:     I’d like to ask you something…

SHE:   What?

HE:     Something you talked to me about a while ago. Can I?

SHE:   Yes, of course.

HE:     But… do you mind if we talk about it again?

SHE:   No, love, I don’t know what it is but go ahead and ask me.

HE:     Do you remember the time you talked to me about that thing that happened to you in Rome?

Pause

SHE:   Yess…

HE:     Does it bother you if we talk about it again?

SHE:   You want to talk about it?

HE:     Yes.

SHE:   Love, if you want to talk about it we’ll talk about it.

HE:     But you don’t want to?

SHE:   No no, if you want to talk about it we’ll talk about it.

HE:     Can you tell me exactly what happened?

SHE:   But love, I already told you that.

HE:     Can you repeat it again for me, please?

SHE:   From… where?

HE:     From when you went down to smoke.

SHE:   All right. I told you I was at my girlfriend’s house, that I couldn’t get to sleep and I went down to the street to smoke…

HE:     Unh huh…

SHE:   And I’m walking back and forth in front of the street door, door newsstand, newsstand door…

HE:     And then?

SHE:   Then, when I was about to go back in…

HE:     When you were about to go back in?

SHE:   This guy grabbed me and dragged me into an alley.

HE:     But before he grabbed you, did you look at him? How did you look at him?

SHE:   No, I didn’t look at him at all.

HE:     No?

SHE:   No, I didn’t even notice he was there.

HE:     All right, but what did you have on?

SHE:   Eh well, it was summer, I had a dress on…

HE:     And sure, a dress, the guy pulled up your dress like that and… Why didn’t you cover yourself when you went out?

SHE:   But love, it was August.

HE:     But you think you’re a normal person at three in the morning goes down and smokes in the street?

SHE:   I don’t know, love…

HE:     What were you expecting?

SHE:   Love, I wasn’t expecting anything, otherwise I wouldn’t have gone down.

HE:     All right and after?

SHE:   After when?

HE:     After he took you into the alley.

Pause

SHE:   That’s when it happened.

HE:     But he… did he come in?

Pause

SHE:   Yes, love, yes.

HE:     But… did he finish, not finish?

SHE:   I told you, a motorbike with no muffler went by, the noise woke me up and I screamed. And he ran away.

HE:     So then… he didn’t finish?

SHE:   No.

HE:     But you, why didn’t you scream, before?

SHE:   I already told you, love, I was like anaesthetized.

HE:     Or maybe you liked it?

SHE:   (Silence)

HE:     But can you explain to me why you didn’t scream?

SHE:   (Silence)

HE:     And in the morning when you saw your girlfriend what did you say to each other?

SHE:   She asked me what had happened…

HE:     And why’d she ask you if she didn’t know anything?

SHE:   Because she saw the shape I was in…

HE:     And you?

SHE:   I told her I’d fallen down the stairs.

HE:     For fuck’s sake, but why didn’t you tell her what had happened?

SHE:   I don’t know, I already told you, all I know is that as soon as I told her I fell down the stairs it became true for me too.

HE:     How is that possible, for fuck’s sake?

SHE:   Because I repressed it. Probably because I couldn’t tell myself… I couldn’t bring myself to tell myself… It was too much. I was mourning my father, I was having overwhelming panic attacks, there was too much going on in that moment.

HE:     Yes, but why didn’t you scream before, why didn’t you scream in the very first moments?

SHE:   (Silence)

HE:     Can you tell me why?

SHE:   (Silence)

HE:     For fuck’s sake, but if you go out at three in the morning to smoke and walk the streets of Rome with a short dress on, what do you think will happen? They’re going to bring you a bouquet of flowers? Let’s tell it like it is, when it comes down to it you deserved it… and when it really comes down to it, you were also asking for it.

SHE:   (Weeping) Love, you tell me what to say and I’ll say it, what to think and I’ll think it, what to do and I’ll do it.

HE:     Are you crying? All right, I’ll get off. I’ll call back when you’re done.

SHE:   But do you want us to talk to someone, should we get help from someone?

HE:     No, you and me are enough.

He abruptly ends the call.

Blackout.

ANOTHER TIME 6

He and She are embracing.

HE:     Come on, come here.

SHE:   No, I can’t do it.

HE:     Come on, you can’t be afraid of a horse.

SHE:   No, no…

HE:     Come on, feed him, he won’t do anything.

SHE:   I’m afraid…

HE:     Don’t be afraid, come on, I’m here.

SHE:   I can’t do it.

HE:     Don’t pull your hand away, be calm.

SHE:   But I’m afraid he’s going to bite me.

HE:     No, he’s not going to bite you, look, he’s afraid too.

SHE:   Okay, but don’t let go of my hand.

HE:     Be calm, I’ll keep my hand under yours.

SHE:   Oh God, here he comes here he comes…

HE:     Stay calm, stay calm.

SHE:   Is he here, is he here?

HE:     Feel the tickle?

SHE:   (Silence)

HE:     He already ate.

SHE:   Are you teasing me?

HE:     Look, look how brave you were.

SHE:   Oh God I can’t believe it. Love, I did it, I did it.

HE:     See how you did it?

SHE:   Thank you, love, I can’t believe it.

HE:     You’re such a little girl.

Blackout

SOME TIME LATER 7

SHE, off, is singing to herself

HE:     Love, would you mind making me some tea, please?

SHE:   Sure, love, just a moment and I’m there.

HE:     Would you mind making me some tea now?

SHE:   Yes, yes, love, I’m getting dressed, just a moment, I’m just drying off…

HE:     All right, I don’t want it anymore.

SHE:   No, I’m all done. You always say I have to dry myself really well or I’ll have cold feet, this is bad for me, that is bad for me. Fuck, this thing is stuck… (Arriving in a rush) What do you mean you don’t want it anymore?

HE:     Did you hear what you just said?

SHE:   Why?

HE:     First of all the language. Can we do a little cleanup? So: fuck, cunt, no.

SHE:   You’re right, I’m sorry.

HE:     And then the volume. Why the screeching?

SHE:   I’m sorry, love, I thought you couldn’t hear me. There are two rooms between us.

HE:     And I had to call you twice.

SHE:   But the second time I was already here.

HE:     And the tone? Can we talk about the tone?

SHE:   What tone?

HE:     “Just a moment, I’m getting dressed”. You know what I would have done? I would have come naked and made you tea.

SHE:   No, love, I said I have to finish drying myself, in a moment I’m there. Anyway, I’ll make the tea now.

HE:     I don’t want it.

SHE:   What do you mean you don’t want it?

HE:     I don’t want it anymore. In fact, you know what I’ll do? I’ll go have tea downstairs.

SHE:   No, what do you mean downstairs, I’ll make it, we’ll have it here at home.

HE:     No, I’ll go out for it.

SHE:   Shall we both go? Shall we go have some tea together?

HE:     No, I’ll go by myself.

SHE:   What do you mean by yourself?

HE:     It just seems like today you really don’t want to have tea with me.

SHE:   What? We have tea together every afternoon. Come on, let’s make it here, it only takes a second, which one do you want? The green? The white? I know, let’s make the special one you brought from India.

HE:     Yes, since you and I are never going to go to India together.

SHE:   What? You told me you would take me.

HE:     But in your opinion I can go to India with someone who answers “I can’t, just a moment, I’m getting dressed”? I can’t take you there.

SHE:   Why not?

HE:     Because you don’t love me.

SHE:   Love, what does tea have to do with love?

HE:     It’s not the tea. It’s the love. As always, it’s feelings we’re talking about.

SHE:   What do you mean feelings?

HE:     Because feelings are the base of everything. Anyway how many men have you said I love to before me?

SHE:   But I already told you, love, two. They were very long relationships…

HE:     Forget about what you did. Did I ask you what you did? You said: two. You know how many women I said it to before you? Zero. Therefore I love you. You don’t love me.

SHE:   What do you mean I don’t love you?

HE:     Shall we play the three card game?

SHE:   What’s that mean?

HE:     You have said I love you to three people me included. One, two, three. One of the three is true. Which is the true one?

SHE:   But all three are true. The first I was seventeen…

HE:     Always this first love of yours when you were seventeen that you wish for everyone, that you’d wish for your daughter since it was so delicate, so romantic… So what was so special about this phenomenon?

SHE:   He cared for me.

HE:     (Struck) Ah, right, he cared for you. So I imagine how many times you told him I love you.

SHE:   (Silence)

HE:     (Thinking it over) How many times did you tell him I love you?

SHE:   (Silence)

HE:     Answer?

SHE:   Um, three, four.

HE:     Ah, not one time like you said. You see? You always give different answers. Every time we talk you always give different answers. You see that you’re not credible?

SHE:   But sometimes I get confused, it was so many years ago…

HE:     You’re not confused, you’re untrustworthy. You see why we always have to repeat the same things? You force me.

SHE:   Yes, so now we have to talk again about when I was seventeen?

HE:     Yes, we’ll talk fifty times about when you were seventeen if necessary. In fact, you know what we’ll do? We’ll make some nice tea, even the Indian since you like it so much, and we’ll repeat it all from the top.

SHE:   All from the top?

HE:     Yes, all from the top. Sit down.

SHE:   (With a slightly cross tone) No, please, enough.

HE:     What did you say?

SHE:   No, I mean…

HE:     No no, repeat what you said?

SHE:   I said…

HE:     With the same tone as before. Repeat… Repeat… Repeat!

SHE:   (as before) I said enough.

He slaps her.

Blackout

SOME TIME LATER 8

HE:     Who is Ivan?

SHE:   Eh?

HE:     Didn’t you hear?

SHE:   Who?

HE:     Ivan. Eye-Vee-A-Enn.

SHE:   Ivan what?

HE:     You heard me.

SHE:   I don’t know any Ivan.

HE:     Are you sure?

SHE:   Yes, love.

HE:     You’re telling me you don’t know any Ivan.

SHE:   No.

HE:     Think hard.

SHE:   There’s no need, I already answered.

HE:     Is that your last answer?

SHE:   Yes.

HE:     So you don’t know him.

SHE:   I don’t know who you’re talking about.

HE:     You don’t know Ivan Donato.

SHE:   No.

HE:     So no Ivan Donato exists?

SHE:   Someone with that name may exist, but I don’t know him.

HE:     Strange, though, he was at your father’s funeral.

SHE:   But, just like lots of other people.

HE:     Yes, but you arrived in a car with him.

SHE:   Well I don’t think so, and anyway I was so upset I don’t even remember how I got there.

HE:     But for me it’s all completely clear. I’ll tell you how you got there.

SHE:   What are you trying to say?

HE:     That you know Ivan Donato very well. Out with it, love, tell me.

SHE:   But why shouldn’t I tell you? I don’t know who he is.

HE:     Love, tell me the truth, nothing will happen.

SHE:   But I already told you.

HE:     (Marking the words) So you told me that you don’t know any Ivan Donato.

SHE:   (She nods no with her head)

HE:     All right, I believe you.

Pause

HE:     You’re a liar.

SHE:   What do you mean a liar?

HE:     I’ll give you another chance.

SHE:   For what?

HE:     Who is Ivan Donato?

SHE:   But I don’t know him.

HE:     Come on, tell me.

SHE:   I already told you everything.

HE:     But why are you hiding it?

SHE:   But hiding what? Who are you talking about?

HE:     About who was behind you the whole time.

SHE:   Where?

HE:     At home, at church, at the cemetery.

SHE:   But, love, there were so many people, relatives, friends, neighbors…

HE:     And you don’t remember him?

SHE:   I don’t remember anyone in particular.

HE:     No? But everyone remembers him.

SHE:   Everyone who?

HE:     Everyone, everyone.

SHE:   And who told you these things?

HE:     It’s not important who told me.

SHE:   No, love, on the contrary it is important.

HE:     You know what the only important thing is?

SHE:   What?

HE:     That you should have told me.

SHE:   But I always tell you everything.

HE:     You’re a liar.

SHE:   What do you mean a liar?

HE:     You’re a liar because you know him. You want some help?

SHE:   (Silence)

HE:     Does a gray Peugeot mean anything to you?

SHE:   But there are billions of gray Peugeots.

HE:     Cabrio, with a yellow interior?

SHE:   (Silence)

HE:     You want to think about it?

SHE:   (Silence)

HE:     Come on, love, take some time. Think about it.

Pause

HE:     You’re a liar and a whore.

SHE:   What?

HE:     You’re a whore and a liar.

SHE:   Why?

HE:     Because yesterday standing in front of me was a person who saw you.

SHE:   But, who?

HE:     Someone from your town.

SHE:   From my town?

HE:     Small world, eh? Yesterday I did a photo essay on a person from your town.

SHE:   And so?

HE:     When I asked him if he knew you he said ah, yes, Ivan Donato’s ex.

SHE:   I’m not his ex, we were never together.

HE:     Ahhh, so you know him.

SHE:   I didn’t tell you because there was nothing to tell. He was just a friend.

HE:     If he was just a friend why did you lie to me?

SHE:   Because I didn’t do anything, we were never together.

HE:     Liar, liar and whore.

SHE:   But I swear, we were never together.

HE:     So why not say so?  Because you still see him?

SHE:   Because it never came up.

HE:     But today it did, however.

SHE:   Yes, I know love, I’m sorry.

HE:     You see you’re a liar.

SHE:   But I was afraid you’d think who knows what.

HE:     What? That you still see each other? That you still fuck? The truth. Because that’s not how it is?

SHE:   Nooo.

HE:     All right, you don’t fuck him now, but you fucked him before. Everyone knows.

SHE:   But you never talk to me like this, why are you talking to me like this?

HE:     Because that’s how you talk to people like you.

SHE:   Like me how?

HE:     Whores, whores and liars.

SHE:   But you know everything about me.

HE:     Apparently not. Why not tell me?

SHE:   Because we spend hours talking about me, about my past, and then we start over again, you ask, I answer, hours and hours, always the same things, always the same, always the same…

With a sudden movement, he grabs her nipples and twists them.

HE:     Yes, always the same lies, because you’re all the same, whores and liars. You’re like all the others. But I realized that already at that first party at your friends’. Brigitte Bardot. I already understood when I was sixteen. With that one who said she loved only me, that she kissed only me, that she walked holding hands only with me. Then my friends asked me, who do you think you’re going with? You still haven’t noticed? But you know all of us here in town have done her? You understand? Already at sixteen. Whore and liar at sixteen. It’s in your DNA. Young and old. Like the one in the art gallery who pulled down the gates and got down like a sheep. For me. Her husband at home with the children and we’re screwing like pigs. You understand the lady in the art gallery? I gave her what she wanted. ‘Cause you women, just put something between your legs and you lose your bearings. Always ready. Like dogs. Or the student at my photography exhibit who leaves her fiancé at home with an excuse, “I’ve got a headache”, and comes back alone. I made that headache go away. And then she says, fuck me here, in your set, and piss on me. And that’s what I did. I fucked her and pissed on her while I came. It was the greatest feeling in my life.

As he speaks, she begins trembling, the shaking gets stronger and stronger, becoming convulsions. He changes expression, looks at her in shock, like a scared child.

HE:     I beg you don’t do that, I beg you don’t do that, don’t do that, don’t do that… it’s nothing, it’s nothing… it’s passing, it’s passing now… ssshhhh, ssshhhh, enough, enough, enough… it’s over, it’s over… it’s gone, you see how it’s gone? Do you feel me, do you feel me hugging you? ‘Cause now we’ll hug and it’ll all go away. You taught me that. You taught me how to hug? I didn’t know how. You taught me how to make love. I didn’t know how to make love. I told you right away, remember? I said, I’ll learn from you. And now we make love and it all goes away. It’s always like that. We make love and it all goes away.

Blackout

EPILOGUE

She receives a phone call. The dialogue takes place on the phone.

HE:     So are you going to tell me what you did with this guy?

SHE:   But, who?

HE:     You know perfectly well, Ivan Donato.

SHE:   Nooo, not again.

HE:     Why, did you think we were done? Look, the discussion has only started.

SHE:   But it’s seven in the morning. We talked about it until three. I didn’t sleep. I have to go to work…

HE:     Yes, but you didn’t tell me the whole truth.

SHE:   But I told you everything, what else do we have to talk about? Do you want for us to talk about it with him? Shall I have you speak with him?

HE:     There’s no need for him, you and me are enough. We two will talk about it now when you come up.

Pause

SHE:   I don’t think I’ll come up.

HE:     What? You’re not coming up?

SHE:   We don’t need to see each other right now. I need…

HE:     You need what?

SHE:   A little time.

HE:     What. Hold on, I don’t understand. You need a little time?

SHE:   Yes, I don’t feel like it… right now.

HE:     Ah, you don’t feel like it? So I’ll come down to the car and you tell me to my face you don’t feel like it.

SHE:   I’m sorry, just give me a little time.

HE:     You have to tell me to my face, you understand? But anyway… who am I talking to? Look at yourself in the mirror, go look at yourself in the mirror, go, go. Look at those wrinkles. Those creases around your eyes say who you are.

SHE:   My wrinkles. There’s my blood in my wrinkles. But who are you, when it comes down to it who are you to judge my whole life? Okay, so I’m a shit woman, I have wrinkles you want me? This is me.

HE:     Ah, now you talk back to me too? You have to tell me in person. You and I shut ourselves in the house and you have to tell me in person that I have to take you as you are because you’re fine that way. But where are you headed with this load, this weight? Look what you’ve done, look at what’s happened to you. We’ll shut ourselves up inside and take up the discussion again, because you have to explain to me…

SHE:   But what do I have to explain to you? Again?

HE:     Because you think I’ve forgotten that thing in Rome?

SHE:   Nooo, but what else do I have to say, I’ve already told you everything.

HE:     You think I’ve forgotten that thing when you went out at three in the night to smoke in the street? You think your explanation convinced me?

She gets up, leaves the cell phone on the chair, walks away, then stops, turns and looks at the phone.

HE: Eh? You think you convinced me? Why don’t you answer? You see the difference between me and you? Whatever you ask I’ve told you. What are you doing, crying? Are you crying? All right, I’ll get off, I’ll call you when you’re done. Are you done? Hey, will you deign to answer me? Oh, here we are now she doesn’t answer, now our provincial Brigitte Bardot doesn’t deign to answer. Eh, what is it? Lose your temper? Do you feel sick? Poor little thing. Come on, answer. Anyway you know how it is, no? I come down, we make love and it all goes away. That’s how it always goes, no? Hey. Anyway you know how it is, no? Eh? We make love and it all goes away…

She stands still, looking at the telephone.

Blackout.

One thought on “Dust (Dialogue Between Man and Woman)

  1. Pingback: Editor’s Note 5.4 | The Mercurian

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