Valentin Krasnogorov

 

 

 

 

THE FALL OF DON JUAN

A play in two acts

 

Translated from Russian by

Yana Skrynnik, Dimitri Vorontzov, edited by Joseph Matthew Kim

 

 

 

 

 

ATTENTION! All copyrights to the play and its translation are protected by the international legislation and belong to the author and the translators. Its edition and reprinting, duplication, public performance, translation into foreign languages, without a written permission of the author is forbidden.

 

 

 

 

OTHER PLAYS OF THE AUTHOR

 

 

 

 

 

Contacts with the author:

Tel. (7)-812-699-3701; (7)-812-550-2146

(7)-951-689-3-689 (cell.)

e-mail:  valentin.krasnogorov@gmail.com

The site: http://krasnogorov.com/?page_id=38

Contacts with the translators:

Tel. (1)-917-402-1319

e-mail: YanaSkrynnik@gmail.com

DimitriVorontzov@gmail.com

 

 


 

 

 

Synopsis

 

This play combines elements of drama and comedy. Bride and groom, who are also successful business partners, are forced by circumstances to offer a total stranger (an aging, oddly behaving man) the role of a witness in their wedding ceremony. To kill time, the young couple asks their witness to tell them about women he loved. The result turns out to be quite unexpected. This accidental meeting dramatically changes the fates of all three characters.

3 characters: 2 males, 1 female.

 

 

 

 

 

Characters:

 

MICHAEL, 30 years old

NATALIE, 34 years old

WAITER (WITNESS), about 60 years old

The ages of the characters are approximate and may be changed depending on the cast and specifics of the production.


 

Act I

A few tables out on the street near a small dilapidated cafe in suburbs. In the background, a forest, a lake, a few houses. It's quiet and empty.

Michael and Natalie enter. They're about thirty, both elegant, handsome and impeccably dressed. Michael looks a bit younger than Natalie. He projects the air of certain arrogance of a successful, self-confident, bossy man.

NATALIE. (Looking at her watch.) We're almost two hours early.

MICHAEL. Told you we should've left later.

NATALIE. I hate being late.

MICHAEL. So, now what?

NATALIE. Let's just walk a little. The air smells so nice.

MICHAEL. I don't feel like walking around.

NATALIE. Do you want to sit here then?

MICHAEL. Where? In this crappy cafe?

NATALIE. We told Bob to meet us at the door. That one right across the street, do you see it?

MICHAEL. Whatever, I'd prefer something a little more VIP.

NATALIE. I don't want to leave. At least this place is nice and quiet.

MICHAEL. Fine then. Let's stay here.

They sit. Pause. Michael's phone rings. He answers it.

Talk to me... Tell the printing shop to send invoices, but double-check them. No, I'll write the checks. (Pockets his cellphone.)

NATALIE. Can you turn it off, Mike?

MICHAEL. Why? We've got nothing else to do.

NATALIE. We can just talk. I mean, that's why I wanted to come early anyway. We haven't talked since forever. We're always too busy.

MICHAEL. Just a sec. (Takes out his phone, dials a number. Speaks into the phone.)š Well, are you done yet? (Listens). Hurry up. (Hangs up).

NATALIE. Oh, c'mon, turn it off already.

MICHAEL. I can't. What if Bob calls me? (Pause.) What sort of idea was it to pick this ugly town?

NATALIE. This lovely town, you mean. Look around, it's so nice and peaceful...

MICHAEL. Splendid. But a day like this calls for a different kind of environment.

NATALIE. I like it here.

MICHAEL. I know.

Pause.

NATALIE. May be we should order coffee.

MICHAEL. Sure. (Calls a waiter.) Hey! Anybody around?

Pause. No response. Michael drums on the table.

ššššššššš Waiter!

A waiter appears. He's an aging, disheveled, unshaven man wearing an untidy coat and muddy boots.

WAITER. Can I help you?

Michael looks him up and down with disgust.

MICHAEL. Yes, you can. Bring us coffee.

The Waiter stares at NATALIE.

What are you looking at? I told you - two coffees. Quick.

The Waiter walks away.

ššššššššš The hell was he looking at you for.

NATALIE. No idea. I guess he liked me.

MICHAEL. You've been here before?

NATALIE. No.

Phone rings

MICHAEL. (Picks up.) Hello. No. It's not ready for print yet. Show it to the designer first... Listen, you know where Bob is? OK. (Hangs up.)

NATALIE. You were right, it was a bad idea to come here. I thought we could be alone together in a nice and quiet place, just the two of us.

MICHAEL. It is just the two of us.

NATALIE. Three of us, with your phone.

MICHAEL. Natalie, please. It's only a couple of short phone calls.

Pause.

ššššššššš So, where's that waiter?

NATALIE. Don't ask me. (Pause.) This is no fun.

MICHAEL. You chose this town. I told you it would be a lot more fun in the city.

NATALIE. That's not what I mean.

MICHAEL. Don't be sad. (Hugs her.) Hey! Say that you love me.

NATALIE. (Kisses him.) You are too handsome. So handsome that it attracts and scares me.

MICHAEL. Scares you?

NATALIE. Scares me, because I notice how girls look at you sometimes. They'll steal you from me.

MICHAEL. From someone as beautiful as you?

Enter Waiter, a tiny tray in his hands. On the tray, sugar, cookies, cream and one cup of steaming coffee. The Waiter places it in front of Natalie.

WAITER. Here you go.

NATALIE. Thank you. (Sips coffee.) Mmm, it's good.

WAITER. Made just for you.

NATALIE. (Strange look.) Ummm, okay, well thanks.

MICHAEL. Where's mine?

WAITER. Oh, did you want some coffee too?

MICHAEL. Yeah?

WAITER. Oh, my mistake, sir. What would you like? Turkish, Irish, Colombian or instant?

MICHAEL. Just coffee.

WAITER. Black or light?

MICHAEL. Black.

WAITER. Sugar?

MICHAEL. Sugar.

WAITER. Double or regular?

MICHAEL. I said regular. Whatever, just bring some damn coffee.

WAITER. I see. I'm afraid I can't do that. The cafe is closed.

MICHAEL. What? What do you mean closed? You just brought her coffee!

WAITER. That was for the lady.

MICHAEL. Huh? And what about me?

WAITER. I'm afraid there's nothing for you, sir.

MICHAEL. What the hell are you talking about?

WAITER. The cafe is closed, sir.

MICHAEL. Then why the hell did you ask all those damn questions about what kind of coffee I wanted?

WAITER. I was just being polite. I wanted to know what kind of coffee you drink.

MICHAEL. So, the cafe is open for her, but not me. Is that it?

WAITER. That's right.

MICHAEL. What are you, a waiter or a freaking clown?

WAITER. I'm a freaking clown. (Steps aside, starts dusting other tables.)

NATALIE. (To Michael.) Don't.

MICHAEL. What do you mean don't. That guy is a mental case.

NATALIE. Just don't, it's not worth it. Here, drink mine.

MICHAEL. No thanks. (To the Waiter.) Hey you, here's ten bucks for being a complete weirdo. Keep the change.

WAITER. That's okay sir, I got it.š (Returns money.) In case I didn't mention it before, the cafe is closed.

MICHAEL. (To Natalie.) That freak is asking for it.

NATALIE. (To the Waiter.) Excuse me sir? I know you said the cafe is closed, but can you make an exception and please bring us another cup of coffee?

WAITER. For you, miss?

NATALIE. Yes, for me please.

The Waiter leaves.

MICHAEL. Must be the full moon tonight... What kind of freaking cafe is this anyway? It looks like it really is closed.

NATALIE. Why are we talking about the cafe and the waiter? Can we forget that and just talk about you and me?

Phone rings. Natalie reacts.

MICHAEL. (To Natalie.) It's Bob. (Into the phone.) Hello? Yes. (Listens for some time.) Holy... Are you ok?.. Oh, I see... That sucks, man... Well, take care of yourself then. (Hangs up.) Bob's not coming.

NATALIE. What happened?

MICHAEL. He had an accident.

NATALIE. (Worried) Is it serious?

MICHAEL. No, he's fine. He rear-ended someone and now has to fill out a bunch of paperwork at the police station. Anyway, he said hi.

NATALIE. So, he's not coming.

MICHAEL. No.

NATALIE. What are we gonna do?

MICHAEL. I've no clue. May be we should go back.

NATALIE. And cancel everything?

MICHAEL. Not cancel, just postpone. I knew it was a bad idea to come here. We should've done it in the city, the proper way... in a restaurant with guests, music and champagne... But you wanted peace and quiet.

Pause.

ššššššššš Say something.

NATALIE. Something.

MICHAEL. Great.

Enter the Waiter. A cup of coffee in his hand, but no tray. He places the cup in front of Michael.

ššššššššš Is the cafe really closed?

WAITER. Yes.

MICHAEL. Then what are you still doing here?

WAITER. Oh, nothing, just twiddling my thumbs, that's all.

MICHAEL. Good for you, now go away.

The Waiter walks away.

NATALIE. So what do we do now?

MICHAEL. We drink coffee.

NATALIE. Don't be mad.

MICHAEL. I'm not mad. (Pause.) All right, why don't we just ask one of the locals here to stand in for Bob?

NATALIE. Just anyone?

MICHAEL. You have a friend who lives here, don't you?

NATALIE. No, she lives in the city now. I don't know anyone else here.

MICHAEL. Any other suggestions?

Pause. Michael taps on the cup to call the Waiter, who appears instantly.

ššššššššš Why is it so quiet here? Where's everyone? Did they ran away?

WAITER. It's always quiet here during the off-season. Plus, it's the middle of the week, so some people work and others are are in the city.

NATALIE. We need a little help, and it would only take half an hour. Could you tell us where we can find someone?

WAITER. Try asking in any of the nearby bars.

MICHAEL. Thanks.

WAITER. No problem.

The Waiter just stands there.

MICHAEL. You can go.

WAITER. Go where?

MICHAEL. I'd tell you where, but not in front of the lady.

WAITER. Can you write it down on a piece of paper please? I'll go make some coffee for myself.

Exit Waiter.

MICHAEL. He's getting on my nerves.

NATALIE. I know. We both seem to be nervous today.

MICHAEL. Weird.

NATALIE. Yeah.

Pause.

MICHAEL. (Joking.) May be we should hire that waiter guy.

NATALIE. That's not very funny, but he may be our only choice.

MICHAEL. True, and after all, we really need him just to sign a piece of paper.

NATALIE. I kind of imagined it differently.

MICHAEL. I know, but we can't just walk around and knock on random doors. We'll have to get someone or postpone the wedding.

Pause.

NATALIE. Ok. Let's talk to him.

Pause. Enter the Waiter with a cup of coffee and sits down at another table, not too close to Natalie and Michael.

MICHAEL. Hey you, what's your face, come over here.

The Waiter approaches Michael and Natalie.

WAITER. What would you like, sir?

MICHAEL. Sit down. Want a drink?

WAITER. Coffee, you mean? No, thanks. But if you're offering something stronger, then why not? I could use a little alcohol to cheer me up. I'm in a minor key today.

MICHAEL. I've got brandy in the car. I'll go get it.

WAITER. Good call.

Exit Michael. Pause.

What does he want from me?

NATALIE. What makes you think he wants anything from you?

WAITER. Why else would he invite me to his table and offer me brandy?

NATALIE. You're right, we'd like to ask you for a favor.

WAITER. A favor?

NATALIE. We'll explain.

Enter Michael with a bottle.

MICHAEL. No brandy. Just whisky.

WAITER. Even better. I'll go get the glasses.

MICHAEL. Good call.

(Exit the Waiter.)

ššššššššš Did you tell him?

NATALIE. No.

MICHAEL. Ok. I'll talk to him.

Enter Waiter with three glasses.

WAITER. Found some glassware.

MICHAEL. Impressive. (Pours whisky.) Well, down the hatch!

WAITER. What's the cause?

MICHAEL. Don't worry about it.

WAITER. (Lifts his glass.) Whatever you say, sir... Well, down the hatch.

They drink.

MICHAEL. So, here's the deal... We need a witness.

WAITER. A witness to what?

MICHAEL. You see, we're getting married, legally.

WAITER. So, before now your marriage has been illegal?

MICHAEL. (All patience.) Before now it hasn't been registered.

WAITER. (Ignores Michael, to Natalie.) You're getting married to this young fellow? Well, congratulations. I presume, it's for love.

NATALIE. Why else would people get married?

WAITER. It depends. For love, sex, money, entertainment or for some other silly reason and last but not least, just for getting married. Some people even get married out of fatigue.

NATALIE. Out of fatigue?

WAITER. Well, let's say, a man and a woman are intimate. A year goes by, then another one... The affair just drags on and on. The uncertainty, the instability begin to tire them out. So she decides it's time either to break up or get married.

MICHAEL. Look mister, or sir, or whatever the hell you want me to call you...

WAITER. Just call me simply "My lord".

MICHAEL. Sorry, can't bring myself to call you that. Now, next to someone as decrepit as you I may come off as a young boy, but just so you know, I'm a grown man. Quite fit to beat the crap out of anyone who doesn't mind his own business.

WAITER. (Doesn't acknowledge him immediately.) What if I used to be a boxer? And not just any boxer but a heavyweight?

The men face each other, ready to attack. Suddenly the Waiter turns around and leaves.

NATALIE. Where did he go?

MICHAEL. He suddenly remembered he had urgent business.

Michael's phone rings.

NATALIE. Turn it off, for God's sake!

Michael turns off the phone. Pause.

ššššššššš If you want him to be our witness, be polite.

MICHAEL. That guy drives me mad.

NATALIE. Just be patient.

MICHAEL. These suburban winos talk too much. Their drivel gets to you at some point.

NATALIE. Just ignore him.

Enter Waiter carrying a bouquet of violets. He casually moves Michael aside and hands the bouquet to Natalie.

WAITER. This is for you.

NATALIE. Violets? Thank you.

MICHAEL. Why would you bring her flowers, dude?

WAITER. A bride should have a bouquet. We're low on fleur d'orange in this town, so I had to go with the violets.

MICHAEL. Ok then. Sit down. Let's get back to where we left off. So, this lady and I are getting married, legally. In like an hour, in the local town hall. Are you paying attention?

WAITER. I am paying attention, except, what does it have to do with me?

NATALIE. We need a witness for the ceremony. The witness we've invited couldn't come. He had an accident. We need you to stand in for him.

MICHAEL. We'll pay you of course.

The Waiter is suddenly sad. Pause.

ššššššššš Well, what do you say?

WAITER. Let's have another one.

MICHAEL. Kind of lame without a chaser.

WAITER. I'll bring some.

MICHAEL. You've got some?

WAITER. I've got everything.

Exit Waiter.

NATALIE. I don't get it. Was it a yes or a no?

MICHAEL. Of course, a yes. He'd say yes to anything for a bottle.

NATALIE. What if he says no?

MICHAEL. We'll just give him more.

NATALIE. Interesting character.

MICHAEL. He stinks of fish.

NATALIE. At least it's not booze.

MICHAEL. Thank God for that... even though it's about to change.

NATALIE. Still. He's kind of funny.

MICHAEL. Than maybe he should entertain us for the next hour. That'll help us kill time before the ceremony.

Enter Waiter carrying plates with some food.

WAITER. Not a wedding banquet, but at least we won't be hungry.

NATALIE. Wow! Just like Versailles.

MICHAEL. Now let's drink. (Pours whisky.)

WAITER. To the newlyweds!

They drink.

ššššššššš You may now kiss the bride.

NATALIE. You didn't give us an answer. Will you be our witness?

WAITER. First I should know whom I'm uniting in holy matrimony.

MICHAEL. First, you don't need to know anything, pal. Second, you're not the minister. All you have to do is stand there and be quiet. Then you sign the paper, get your money and that's it. Got it?

WAITER. Then find somebody else.

MICHAEL. If you want more money, just say so. I won't bargain.

WAITER. Well, I will.

MICHAEL. What the hell do you want to know? My fiancee wanted a modest ceremony, and our close friend as a witness. The close friend didn't show up. That's it.

WAITER. (to Natalie.) You'd like me to be your close friend for this hour?

MICHAEL. Don't get it into your head you are irreplaceable, buddy If you really have to know, this whole thing can be done without any witness. A little something to the clerk - and no problem. But my fiancee wanted a witness, and I'm used to fulfilling her fantasies. That's just the kind of guy I am.

NATALIE. I'm not asking to fulfill my fantasies, but it'd be nice to have someone give me what I really need.

MICHAEL. Which is the same thing.

WAITER. The difference is that our fantasies are what we really need, and other people's needs are just fantasies.

MICHAEL. Oh, shut up.

WAITER. I'm leaving.

NATALIE. Please stay. I'm asking you to take the role of my friend.

WAITER. I accept.

MICHAEL. Well, thank God. Let's have a drink. (Pours and is about to drink.)

NATALIE. Mike, don't get carried away. We have a ceremony.

MICHAEL. You're right. (Puts his glass down. To the Waiter.) But you drink. Stick around for a while. Let's sit and chat, we are bored. My fiancee finds you kind of funny. Don't you, darling?

NATALIE. I think you've had enough alcohol for today, darling.

WAITER. I don't get it. You'll be married in an hour, and you're bored?

MICHAEL. Not like "bored" bored... But check this out: we've been living together for two years. We're not talking about crazy, swipe her off her feet, make her swoon, happily ever after kind of wedding, the first night of marital bliss and a thrilling reversal of fortune here. It's just a formality, getting a certificate, confirming the current status, OK?

WAITER. Still it's a wedding... Do you get bored easily?

MICHAEL. Like any other guy.

WAITER. This means you can be a bore to others. That's dangerous. When women get bored, they fall out of love.

ššššššššš (To Natalie.) Do you love him?

NATALIE. (After a pause.) Yes. I'm getting married to him.

MICHAEL. (To the Waiter.) Look, do me a favor, quit telling me how to live my life. If you think your gray hair gives you any right to preach to total strangers, then you're wrong. We don't appreciate advice from an old fart living off social security pension.

WAITER. So, you're bored, and you want me to entertain you...

MICHAEL. Precisely.

WAITER. And you're willing to pay for that.

MICHAEL. That's right.

WAITER. Well, I'm ready. Where do we start?

NATALIE. Tell us something about yourself.

WAITER. What for? Here I am, in front of you. You can see me and hear me. What else do you want?

MICHAEL. The looks, the words... those are nothing. I want the core, not the outside. What's your name?

WAITER. šššššš The question trifling seems from one,

ššššššššššššššššššššššš Who it appears the Word doth rate so low;

ššššššššššššššššššššššš Who, undeluded by mere outward show,

ššššššššššššššššššššššš To Being's depth would penetrate alone.

MICHAEL. What the hell was that?

WAITER. Faust. I remember it from school.

MICHAEL. Your memory is good, for your age.

WAITER. No complaints so far.

NATALIE. And yet.... Perhaps, you could tell us your name?

WAITER. šššššš What's in a name? That which we call a rose

ššššššššššššššššššššššš By any other name would smell as sweet.

MICHAEL. (To Natalie, ironically) There you go, Natalie, someone for you to talk with. You're into that sort of stuff.

NATALIE. (To the Waiter) Are you really a waiter?

WAITER. Not really.

NATALIE. What are you then?

WAITER. I'm a freaking clown, just like your future husband said, and I'm here to please you, as we agreed.

MICHAEL. Look, if I offended you, I apologize.

WAITER. I'm not offended. Any job is a good job.

NATALIE. What about this cafe?

WAITER. Like I told you, it's closed. It's been closed for the last couple of years.

NATALIE. Where did you get coffee and food then?

WAITER. Magic.

NATALIE. What should we call you?

WAITER. Why not just call me "a witness"? I'll be gone in less than an hour anyway, so why bother to know my name?

From this moment on we, too, will call him "the Witness".

NATALIE. How do you know so many poems?

WITNESS. Not many, you heard only two. I learned them by heart when I was a kid, so I could seduce girls.

MICHAEL. Any luck with that?

WITNESS. Oh yes. They just swooned.

MICHAEL. Maybe you could tell us about some of your past adventures... if it's humanly possible for someone to remember that far back. Now that's what I'd call entertainment. Go ahead, I'll keep the booze coming.

WITNESS. Great, let's get smashed. Wait, I'll be right back.

Exit the Witness.

NATALIE. Don't mock him.

MICHAEL. He'll survive. And besides, I'm not sure he gets it anyway.

NATALIE. He's not as stupid as you think.

MICHAEL. I don't think he's stupid. I think he's weird. There's a difference. Watch this, he's going to tell his entire life story in the next hour.

NATALIE. But listen....

MICHAEL. (Cutting her off.) Oh come on. Let me have some fun, will ya?

Enter the Witness carrying some napkins.

MICHAEL. How about some whiskey?

WITNESS. Sure.

They drink.

MICHAEL. So, you were just about to tell us what a great thief of hearts you used to be.

WITNESS. (Chewing.) Used to be? You better watch out or I'll steal your fiancee's heart.

Michael laughs out loud. The Witness pours himself another drink.

NATALIE. You're going to have a hell of a hangover.

WITNESS. All good things come with a trade-off.

MICHAEL. To hell with the hangover!

NATALIE. (To Michael in low voice.) Don't provoke him.

MICHAEL. Don't worry. Just let me have a good time. (To the Witness.) So, the girls just swoo swooned, huh?

WITNESS. You bet they did!

MICHAEL. How many did you have?

WITNESS. Enough.

MICHAEL. Hard to remember them all, huh?

WITNESS. Not really.

MICHAEL. Well, go ahead and tell us then. Let's go through your little black book.

WITNESS. The whole book? There's not enough time.

MICHAEL. Bummer. Well, tell us about the best ones then, but in detail.

Pause.

ššššššššš Well, what's keeping you?

WITNESS. Umm... where to begin?

MICHAEL. Start from the beginning. Who set you off on your glorious path of becoming Don Juan? Who was the first one?

WITNESS. Hmmm..... The first one...

NATALIE. Must've been awhile ago. You probably can't remember.

WITNESS. Sure I can.

NATALIE. How did you meet her?

WITNESS. She lived next door. I was nineteen, and clueless. Just a nerd who knew everything about Charles Ives and Henry James, but nothing about girls.

NATALIE. Then I guess I was a nerd too.

WITNESS. She was sixteen, and God, she was hot. All the guys were crazy about her and tried to ask her out. Cars stopped when she walked along the street.

MICHAEL. So what did you do?

WITNESS. I... I didn't do anything. I was a nerd, remember? But the best part of being a nerd was that I was actually able to help her with her homework. So one day after doing some math we chatted in her room, and then all of a sudden she just got up, walked out and then called out for me from somewhere else in the house. Well, I followed her voice down the hall and into her parents' bedroom, and there I saw her in bed, stark naked. I freaked out and asked her what she was doing.

NATALIE. And what did she say?

WITNESS. She said that she loved me.

NATALIE. And you?

From this moment on Natalie will listen to the Witness with increasingly focused attention.

WITNESS. She was young and pretty, and her hair smelled like apples, and her eyes shined with love and anticipation. And I, I was a skinny and awkward kid, and I didn't even dare to look at her.

MICHAEL. So, what happened?

WITNESS. It was a bit of a mess, really. I don't think either of us felt much, except may be pain and embarrassment. And yet it was the most intimate and romantic moment I ever shared with a woman.

Pause.

MICHAEL. Was she a virgin?

WITNESS. I wish I could go back in time...

MICHAEL. Right, but was she a virgin?

WITNESS. Huh? Oh, yes... You want the details. Yes, she was a virgin.

MICHAEL. Why did she choose you?

WITNESS. Because she loved me.

NATALIE. Why?

WITNESS. No idea.

NATALIE. Were you courting her?

WITNESS. No.

NATALIE. Then šwhy did she fall in love with you?

WITNESS. Maybe because I loved her too.

NATALIE. Did you tell her that?

WITNESS. No. But somehow she knew that anyway.

The Witness takes another sip. šPause.

MICHAEL. That's quite a story, Don Juan. You don't mind if I call you that, do you?

WITNESS. Call me whatever you like.

MICHAEL. Now tell us about the next one.

WITNESS. Is this really so fascinating?

MICHAEL. Of course! Tell us about your most memorable night with a woman.

WITNESS. They were all memorable.

MICHAEL. Pick one.

NATALIE. Should I take a walk?

MICHAEL. No, stick around. This is going to be interesting.

NATALIE. I'm not interested.

WITNESS. Please don't leave. I promise my stories won't offend you, even though they'll probably make him laugh.

MICHAEL. So, the most memorable of all your memorable nights. How old were you?

WITNESS. I was twenty two and she was nineteen. We escaped from a boring party our friends were having on a ranch, and found a small cottage to hide in. We picked some wildflowers along the way, and when we got there I threw them on the bed. She laughed and said she always wanted to do it in a haystack.

MICHAEL. So, what was it like?

WITNESS. Words can't give it justice. So much closeness, tenderness. It happened in early June, lilacs were blooming and we made love all night long. I was happier than I could ever imagine.

NATALIE. You are a romantic... unless you're telling us someone else's story you read in some book.

WITNESS. Maybe I did. What's the difference as long as you're not bored?

MICHAEL. A flower bed, that's cute. Oh by the way, was she a virgin, too?

WITNESS. No.

NATALIE. I can't figure out if you're a poet or a sex maniac.

WITNESS. A maniacal poet. Or a poetic maniac.

MICHAEL. Sex crazed poetic maniac.

WITNESS. The best kind of craze I can think of. You're the one who insisted I go through my little black book.

MICHAEL. I had no idea old folks can come up with such torrid sexual fantasies.

WITNESS. You have no idea about a lot of stuff, kid. For example, how to behave yourself. I'm not sure if your IQ is too low or your ego is to big, or maybe you're just too much of an adolescent...

MICHAEL. Shut the fuck up...

WITNESS. No, you shut up, kid. Why did you have to come all the way down her to get married instead of just doing it in the city? Did you elope? Don't your parents know? Aren't you over eighteen yet? Maybe I should inform the authorities.

MICHAEL. Are you making fun of me?

WITNESS. Nah, I'm just teasing ya. You keep reminding me in front of the lady of how old I am, so I'm paying you back by reminding you of how young you are.

NATALIE. Are you saying I look older than him?

WITNESS. Not at all, šit's just that he looks younger than you.

MICHAEL. Let's go find someone else.

NATALIE. Stop it, both of you!

WITNESS. Stop what? I'm trying to be tactful. I could call him a snotty little punk, but I didn't!

NATALIE. Enough already!

WITNESS. But he keeps calling me dude and pal, when he should be calling me sir.

NATALIE. Please forgive him. He really wasn't very polite to you. He's just nervous today, and so am I. Believe me, with someone else and in a different situation he can be very tactful.

WITNESS. If he's rude to waiters he can be rude to anyone. Even to you. You'll see. Pretty soon he'll be telling you to shut the fuck up.

NATALIE. No he won't.

WITNESS. Don't bet on it.

Pause.

NATALIE. Let's stop bickering and talk about something else.

MICHAEL. Let's get back to his little black book. You agree?

WITNESS. Yeah sure. Why not?

MICHAEL. Let's move on then. Next chapter. What's it called?

WITNESS. A night in a hotel.

MICHAEL. Sounds promising. I hope it has some kinky details.

NATALIE. Michael...

MICHAEL. Don't hold anything back. We're all adults.

WITNESS. I'm a seducer, not a pornographer. If you want porn, go get some magazines.

MICHAEL. Just get on with it.

WITNESS. It happened in the city I've never been before or since. I met her at the train station and we went straight to a hotel.

MICHAEL. I don't get it. That wasn't the first time you slept with her?

WITNESS. No it wasn't. And I don't think you can imagine just how much she and I longed for each other on that night. (To Natalie.) Do you find this too personal?

NATALIE. It's okay.

MICHAEL. (To Natalie, sarcastically.) Thank you Natalie. (To the Witness.) Go on.

WITNESS. The moment we walked into the hotel room, she ripped off her dress and we threw ourselves at each other. (Pause.) It was such a long time ago...

MICHAEL. How old were you then?

WITNESS. Thirty something.

NATALIE. And she?

WITNESS. A little younger. She was like a gentle fire. I loved her that night like never before, or since.

NATALIE. Did you love all the women you slept with?

WITNESS. Every single one.

NATALIE. I don't see how that's possible.

WITNESS. And I don't see how it can be any other way.

NATALIE. šHow can one man love so much?

WITNESS. Well, why not? Remember what Plato said? We all were androgynous at first, but later the gods split us up into genders. And ever since that time we've been seeking harmony by trying to find our second halves.

Michael and Natalie exchange perplexed looks. Witness picks up knife and fork and starts to eat.

MICHAEL. Who the hell are you? What is your real šprofession?

WITNESS. I'm killer.

NATALIE. A killer?

WITNESS. (With a knife in his hand.) Yes. A professional killer. I send innocent people to the Almighty on the regular basis.

NATALIE. And you're not in jail.

WITNESS. They tried to put me away. Three times. But as you can see, I'm still free.

MICHAEL. Are you really a psycho or just faking it?

WITNESS. I'm telling you the truth. These hands are used to a blade. (Plays with his knife.)

Michael and Natalie exchange glances.

ššššššššššš Well? Do you still want me to be your witness?

Pause.

MICHAEL. No I don't. No, keep it to yourself. (Pause.)I can't figure you out!

WITNESS. Knowing you, I'm not surprised. I, on the contrary, figured you out almost right away. You're quite transparent to me.

NATALIE. (To the Witness.) What do you see that's so transparent about him?

WITNESS. Not much. But I see a lot in you.

NATALIE. Oh really, and what do you see?

WITNESS. Everything.

NATALIE. Oh, stop trying so hard to impress me. And maybe you shouldn't drink anymore, you've said enough already. First you were a maniacal poet, and now you're also a mind reader.

WITNESS. But I am a mind reader. Let's see. Your first name is... umm... Natalie.

NATALIE. (Sarcastically.) Wow.

WITNESS. Your last name is... Actually, your last name doesn't matter because you'll change it in an hour anyway... The spirits also told me you're single, but they seem to think you may get married way too soon.

NATALIE. Astonishing.

WITNESS. You are a sociologist in the advertising field. You work for your, uh, husband-to-be... no wait, you're his business partner! As for your age... the spirits say you're over eighteen.

MICHAEL. The spirits just don't know shit.

WITNESS. But they did tell me a moment ago that you were born on May 12th... which makes you a Taurus, so naturally you're stubborn.

NATALIE. How did you know that?

WITNESS. A woman is like an open book to me.

MICHAEL. Bullshit. He probably sneaked a peek at your driver's license while I was getting the whiskey.

Pause.

NATALIE. What else do you know?

WITNESS. Like I said, I know everything about you.

NATALIE. Like what?

WITNESS. I shouldn't say, it would be unethical. (Pause.) Unless you'd like me to whisper it to you.

NATALIE. Whatever. Whisper it.

Witness whispers something in her ear. Natalie reacts.

ššššššššš How did you know that?!

WITNESS. I told you I know everything about you.

NATALIE. But how?

WITNESS. It's my secret.

NATALIE. Stop it! Get away from me!

MICHAEL. What did he say?

NATALIE. Leave.

MICHAEL. (Grabs the Witness.) That's it. I've had enough.

NATALIE. Don't touch him.

MICHAEL. Why not?

NATALIE. Just leave him alone.

MICHAEL. (Reluctantly releases the Witness.) It's your lucky day, pal. You should thank her.

Pause.

WITNESS. Forgive me. I talk too much.

NATALIE. How do you know so much about me?

WITNESS. Let's make a deal. Let me keep my secret a bit longer. I'll tell you a little later, but don't ask me until then. Okay?

NATALIE. I don't know.

WITNESS. Come on. You'll probably guess it anyway. Deal?

NATALIE. Deal. (Offers her hand for a handshake.)

WITNESS. (Kisses her hand instead.) Smile and I'll believe you.

Natalie smiles reluctantly, then brightens up. Pause.

ššššššššš Well, the show is over. Your ceremony starts soon.

MICHAEL. (Checks his watch.) Not soon enough.

WITNESS. I should go change. These are my fishing clothes. I probably look disgusting.

MICHAEL. You do.

WITNESS. I apologize. (Pause.) I guess I'm getting old. I'm beginning to hate the world. Everything seems to have been better before.

MICHAEL. What do you have against this world?

WITNESS. I don't know. It's all about sex and money these days. I feel I have no time to think or read or love.

MICHAEL. Interesting.

WITNESS. Ok. I'm going to take a shower and put myself together.

Exit the Witness.

MICHAEL. What did he say to you?

NATALIE. It doesn't matter.

MICHAEL. Then why did you freak out?

NATALIE. Stop interrogating me.

MICHAEL. Come on, it's me!

NATALIE. That's the point.

MICHAEL. So, you have a secret with that guy that I'm not supposed to know.

NATALIE. I guess so. He knows things about me that you don't.

MICHAEL. How's that possible?

NATALIE. I don't know.

MICHAEL. What do you mean you don't know? Have you met him before?

NATALIE. I don't think so. You know I can't remember faces very well.

MICHAEL. What do you mean you can't remember? Have you slept with so many men that their faces are all just a blur?

NATALIE. You've been a jerk to him all this time and now you're being a jerk to me.

MICHAEL. Oh, shut the fuck up.

Pause.

I'm sorry.

NATALIE. He was right. (Hurries away.)

MICHAEL. Natalie wait! (Rushes after her.)

 

End of Act I.

 


 

 

Act II

 

The set is the same as in Act I.

Enter Michael and Natalie, continuing the conversation.

 

MICHAEL. You okay?

NATALIE. Yeah.

MICHAEL. I'm sorry. (Hugs her.) I have no idea what's gotten into me today.

NATALIE. I thought you'd beat him up. That would be a great way to celebrate our wedding.

MICHAEL. You don't seem too happy today.

NATALIE. Neither do you.

MICHAEL. Do you wanna talk about it?

NATALIE. Not really.

MICHAEL. What's eating you?

NATALIE. You're acting like a jerk on our wedding day.

MICHAEL. I'm just nervous, because you're not happy.

Natalie laughs bitterly.

ššššššššš There has to be something else.

NATALIE. Are you happy that we are getting married?

MICHAEL. Are you?

NATALIE. Of course I am. It's finally about to happen.

MICHAEL. It was you who kept postponing.

NATALIE. I?

MICHAEL. Who else? I tried to persuade you for two years. I think you're still resisting.

NATALIE. Why do you want to marry me?

MICHAEL. What kind of question is that?

Pause.

ššššššššš Is there something you're not telling me?

NATALIE. Oh, stop making things up. I have nothing to hide. You'll make the ideal husband, I wouldn't find anyone better. You're strong, handsome, successful, young... Almost too young, for me.

MICHAEL. There you go again... You are only four years older than me.

NATALIE. For a woman age difference like that is a catastrophe. It's like I'm twice as old as you.

MICHAEL. Don't be silly. You look younger than I do.

NATALIE. Well now, yes. But in five years I'll fade, and you'll be at your peak. What then?

MICHAEL. We'll discuss it then. (Kisses her.) Tell me what's really bothering you.

Natalie is silent.

Does it have anything to do with sex?

NATALIE. No, the sex is fine... although, if you want the truth, when I'm in bed with you, it feels like we are having sex instead of making love.

MICHAEL. What do you mean?

NATALIE. You're so concerned with satisfying me that I feel pressured to be satisfied. It's as if we both have obligations to fulfill and deadlines to meet, and the whole thing feels like some sort of business deal.

MICHAEL. What do you want then?

NATALIE. I just want to feel loved when we do it.

MICHAEL. You're still a romantic at heart, even at your age.

NATALIE. Thanks for reminding. A woman at any age is a romantic at heart.

MICHAEL. (Trying to placate her.) Don't be like that. We're not eighteen. Do you feel like I'm not being gentle enough with you?

NATALIE. It's not about how you treat me. You take very good care of me, but only because that's how you think I should be treated. Not because that's the way you really feel. Do you know what I'm trying to say?

MICHAEL. Not really. Does it bother you that much?

NATALIE. Yes, but I can live with it. I'm far from being perfect. And maybe I'm not always agreeable.

Pause.

MICHAEL. I didn't realize we had so many unresolved issues.

NATALIE. You didn't?

MICHAEL. Well, maybe I did, but I guess I never really thought about it.

NATALIE. I told you we shouldn't have discussed it.

MICHAEL. Why not? It's important.

NATALIE. Is it? Ok, at least we can't say we didn't talk about it.

MICHAEL. But we can still stick with the plan and get married, right? You didn't change your mind about that, did you?

NATALIE. No.

MICHAEL. Ok.

Enter Witness. He's well dressed and shaven. He carries a tray with coffee cups. Michael and Natalie don't notice him right away.

WITNESS. Why don't we have more coffee?

NATALIE. (Surprised.) Oh my God, is that really you?

WITNESS. It's me. Or maybe not...

MICHAEL. You look great.

WITNESS. I'm trying to fit the image of a first class waiter.

MICHAEL. You look more like a bridegroom.

WITNESS. You are a lovely couple, and I'm your best man. I have to look the part.

NATALIE. You know, I think I recognize your face. Have we met before?

WITNESS. Yes, how could you forget? I was right here half an hour ago. The only difference is I had stubble on my face.

NATALIE. No, I mean before today.

WITNESS. No. I would have remembered you. You are gorgeous, and I don't forget gorgeous women.

NATALIE. Don Juan strikes again.

WITNESS. Just keeping in shape.

MICHAEL. Whatever. We gotta kill time anyway.

NATALIE. Kill time?

MICHAEL. Wait, that didn't sound right.

NATALIE. Well, let's kill time then.

WITNESS. Killing time is like killing yourselves. We have to enjoy every moment of life. I'm telling you this as a killer.

MICHAEL. What do you enjoy the most, apart from being a killer?

WITNESS. Women.

NATALIE. How many have you been with?

WITNESS. Countless.

NATALIE. Really? That must be tiresome - going from one to another.

WITNESS. You're right. It can be exhausting sometimes. (Drinks.)

NATALIE. Then why do you do it?

WITNESS. The world is filled with wonderful women: shy, daring, modest, passionate, innocent, experienced, open, guarded... Why wouldn't I want to know them all?

NATALIE. I don't know, why?

WITNESS. Ask a man of my age how many times he's made love to his wife. Let's say, twice a week, fifty two weeks a year... That makes it a hundred times a year, and in thirty years... (Pours and drinks.)

MICHAEL. Three thousand.

WITNESS. Bravo. Now ask him how many of those he remembers. One or two, probably no more than that. The rest of it is blurred into a monotone, mundane routine, mentioned in medical books as reproductive activity.

MICHAEL. So, you've read medical books too?

WITNESS. One or two. Don't you find what I described depressing? On the other hand, you have Don Juan. For us great seducers, meeting every new woman is an adventure, a battle, a victory, a celebration. It has the charm of novelty. Three thousand adventures. Three thousand victories. Three thousand nights of love.

NATALIE. You loved every one of them?

WITNESS. Yes.

NATALIE. That's not possible.

WITNESS. What's not possible? To love three thousand women, or to love a woman three thousand times?

NATALIE. (Laughs bitterly.) Either. But go on.

WITNESS. What's the point? Honestly, do you even enjoy my stories?

NATALIE. Honestly? No, not really. Each of them ends the same way every time.

MICHAEL. Sex.

NATALIE. Yes. Tell us how you seduce - that's what's interesting. The rest is physiology.

WITNESS. Physiology? If that's how you feel, I pity you. To me it's the ultimate manifestation of happiness. Intimacy - what a beautiful word.

MICHAEL. Who wins, that's the question. They say, a man chases a woman until she catches him.

NATALIE. Good thing you're not chasing me. Or I would've taken your observation personally.

MICHAEL. (To Witness, ignoring Natalie's comment.) Getting a woman is not the issue, the issue is how to say goodbye to her. How did you do that?

NATALIE. You really want to know?

WITNESS. I never said goodbye to anyone.

NATALIE. Then what did you do?

WITNESS. We magicians don't share our secrets.

NATALIE. So tell us how you seduced all those women.

WITNESS. We seducers don't analyze things like that. We just come and take what already belongs to us. It requires no effort. It's easy and joyful.

NATALIE. But there must be a secret. The secret of Don Juan.

WITNESS. There is. Ok, I'll tell you this one. To seduce a woman you need to love her. That's it.

NATALIE. You love women that much?

WITNESS. I do. A woman is the most beautiful creature in the world.

Pause.

MICHAEL. You must've met some exceptional women.

NATALIE. And you haven't?

MICHAEL. No. Not until I met you.

NATALIE. Tell us, my dear Don Juan, these adventures, didn't they affect your relationship with your wife?

Pause.

WITNESS. Not at all. Thousands of women, young and old, took off their clothes for me. But it didn't bother my wife in the slightest.

NATALIE. But I bet she still has a lot to say about it.

WITNESS. (After a brief silence.) She's not with me anymore.

MICHAEL. She left you, huh?

WITNESS. My wife was one in a million. But she died. And I couldn't save her.

NATALIE. Why did you have to save her?

WITNESS. Who else?

Pause.

NATALIE. I'm sorry. Please accept our condolences.

WITNESS. Thank you, but it's been three years. Let's not talk about it. Today is a happy day for you.

MICHAEL. I don't know what to say.

WITNESS. Don't say anything. Let's continue flipping through my little black book.

Pause.

MICHAEL. By the way, so far you've been telling us about your affairs with younger women. But have you seduced anyone who was more your age?

WITNESS. Yes I have.

MICHAEL. What was the oldest? (To Natalie.) Do you mind if he shares his stories?

NATALIE. I mind your questions.

WITNESS. I can stop anytime.

NATALIE. No, go on.

MICHAEL. So, how old was she?

WITNESS. Fifty three. But I wasn't young either.

MICHAEL. Well, what was it like?

WITNESS. Believe it or not, it was wonderful. There was a touch of grey in her hair, wrinkles on her face, but her body was young and fresh, her breasts firm and supple, and she was endlessly gentle... There's something maternal in a woman of that age, she gives you peace, consolation, comfort, tenderness... And you feel like a man and a child, a lover, a protector... Anyway, these are just my fantasies.

NATALIE. I'm listening to you and asking myself if I envy the women you've been with, or pity them?

WITNESS. (Pause.) So, what did you decide?

NATALIE. (Pause.) I envy them.

MICHAEL. Why?

NATALIE. I'll tell you some other time. (To Witness.) Do you ever get bored?

WITNESS. Never.

NATALIE. And your women, did they ever get bored with you?

WITNESS. You would have to ask them.

NATALIE. But they're not here.

WITNESS. (Pause.) No, they're not.

NATALIE. Then who can I ask?

WITNESS. Ask yourself. Are you bored with me?

NATALIE. No.

MICHAEL. What does it have to do with being bored or not? Are you saying that the man is supposed to be the entertainer, instead of something more worthy or more important?

NATALIE. I don't have an opinion about that.

MICHAEL. A man is not a dancing monkey. He should earn money, take care of his woman, support his family.

WITNESS. You should run for congress.

MICHAEL. May be I will.

NATALIE. I agree. Still, a woman shouldn't be bored with her man.

MICHAEL. What about a man? What if he's bored with his woman? Whose fault is that? His? Hers? (To Witness.) What do you say to that?

WITNESS. I couldn't say. I don't know men that well. I know women better.

NATALIE. Stop bragging.

WITNESS. I'm not bragging. I know the female body better than anyone. I know its sufferings and afflictions. I know a woman's soul. I've heard confessions from thousands of women. I've heard so many stories, witnessed so many tears...

NATALIE. Wait!.. I know where I saw you... You're a doctor.

WITNESS. I told you it would come to you.

MICHAEL. (To Natalie.) How did you know?

NATALIE. I had an appointment with him.

MICHAEL. (To Witness.) You're a doctor?

WITNESS. What did you think I was?

MICHAEL. I didn't think anything. What do I care? You're a doctor, so what? What's the big deal?

NATALIE. Why did you introduce yourself as a killer?

WITNESS. Every surgeon feels like a killer sometimes.

MICHAEL. What about all your stories? Were they all just make-belief?

WITNESS. No, they're all true.

NATALIE. I'm sure they're not.

WITNESS. Why? You think a doctor can't also be a Don Juan?

NATALIE. He can, I guess.

WITNESS. If I were making it up, my stories would've been more elaborate, more spectacular.

MICHAEL. Exactly. When I asked you to flip through your little black book, I expected something a lot kinkier.

WITNESS. Such as?

MICHAEL. Well, for example, how you made love on a hood of a car, or at least on a table. You know, wild and crazy things.

WITNESS. On a hood - no, on a table - yes.

MICHAEL. A-ha, so it did happen. Well, tell us. I hope you saved the best for desert.

WITNESS. Sure, but this will be the last one. I think we're all fed up with this game by now.

Pause.

NATALIE. Well, we're waiting. Are you making something up again? Tell us the truth this time.

WITNESS. I always tell the truth. May be not the whole truth, but the truth nonetheless. It was the middle of the night, and the smell of chrysanthemums filled the air...

NATALIE. Why chrysanthemums?

WITNESS. Because it happened in the fall. The table was covered with flowers.

MICHAEL. A flower bed again? You keep repeating yourself, Mr. Don Juan. But I see, it would be too hard on a table without flowers.

WITNESS. Glad you picked up on that so quickly.

MICHAEL. Back to business.

WITNESS. To business? If you see it that way, you may find it boring. I simply held her hand and talked to her the whole night.

MICHAEL. That's it?

WITNESS. That's it. I reflected on my whole life. All that I achieved and lost, the things I regretted and hoped for, things I would have changed if I could have started it all over again. I confessed my love for her. I poured my heart out to her. I begged her to stay with me and I swore that I wanted to be with her forever.

MICHAEL. And what did she say?

WITNESS. She was quiet. She just listened. It was a long, memorable night. Then suddenly it was morning, but I felt like I didn't have enough time to say everything I wanted to say. I couldn't bring myself to part with her.

MICHAEL. And that of course, was another best night of your life.

WITNESS. No, it wasn't. And now excuse me, please, I have to leave you for a few minutes. (Starts picking up the dishes, but leaves and exits.)

NATALIE. Why are you treating him like that? What did he do to you?

MICHAEL. I don't know. I disliked him from the first moment. We are different.

NATALIE. You can say that again.

MICHAEL. I'm a man of action, a business man, and he's a bullshitter.

NATALIE. That's not the difference. He has depth. You're more shallow.

MICHAEL. Whatever. Those are just words. You don't know what you want from me. What do you really expect from me after all? You say I'm handsome, well-off, and caring. Do I love you? Yes. What else do you need?

NATALIE. You're simply refusing to understand what I'm trying to tell you.

MICHAEL. Have you ever tried to understand me? Help me to live out my inner self? Is it my fault no one read "Faust" to me when I was a kid, and didn't take me to listen to Charles Ives? I live in a world of sharks. Any moment they can break me and swallow me. I have to be made of steel to survive. No one cares about me or my true feelings. I built myself, and it's hard for me to change. If you love me, accept me the way I am.

NATALIE. I do.

MICHAEL. And if you don't like me the way I am, then help me to change.

NATALIE. Calm down.

MICHAEL. Why did you have to make an appointment with him? Why didn't you just go to your own doctor?

NATALIE. (Reluctantly.) I had problems...

MICHAEL. (Taken aback.) What sort of problems?

NATALIE. A few months ago I started having slight pains. My doctor said it was nothing, but to make sure, he sent me to a specialist.

MICHAEL. (Motions to where Witness has gone.) Him?

NATALIE. Yes.

MICHAEL. (Astonished and contemptuous.) He's the specialist?

NATALIE. That's who he is, a special surgeon or something.

MICHAEL. That's odd. What happened next?

NATALIE. He examined me, checked my sonogram and realized that I must have surgery right away. It was a simple surgery, but it saved me.

MICHAEL. How come you didn't tell me?

NATALIE. You were in Chicago, opening a new branch, remember? By the time you got back I was all right.

MICHAEL. How could you not recognize him?

NATALIE. I couldn't see him during the surgery. And afterwards, I think he only checked on me once. There were other doctors on the floor who took care of me.

MICHAEL. But what about during the appointment?

NATALIE. He was wearing a robe and a cap... And he was the one who examined me, not the other way around.

MICHAEL. That's just great.

NATALIE. That's how it was.

Pause. Michael hugs her.

MICHAEL. Our plans haven't changed, I hope.

NATALIE. (Pause.) Mine hasn't. Has yours?

MICHAEL. No. Definitely not.

NATALIE. Ok.

MICHAEL. This is all his fault, that goddamn waiter, or doctor... Whatever he is.

NATALIE. What does he have to do with it?

MICHAEL. He got you all worked up with his talk. It was odd, the way you listened to him.

NATALIE. It wasn't odd. I was just listening.

MICHAEL. You don't think all that storytelling was the truth, do you?

NATALIE. What I think is... (Pause.) Oh my God!

MICHAEL. What? What is it?

NATALIE. I'm such an idiot! Now I see! God, I'm so ashamed!

MICHAEL. What?

NATALIE. He didn't have a little black book!

MICHAEL. That's what I've been telling you all along. He made it up. I knew it from the start.

NATALIE. No! He's been telling us about the same woman, the one he loved all these years. He was talking about his wife! How could I be so callous and stupid, teasing him and making fun of him. And asking him for intimate details!

MICHAEL. He was more than willing to tell...

NATALIE. He just needed to talk to someone. He had a drink, it loosened him up... He was tired of keeping it all in. He was sad. Remember, how he said: "I'm in a minor key today".

MICHAEL. But this last bit with the table...

NATALIE. That's her funeral, don't you get it? He was saying farewell to her. And you and I were laughing! All his stories were so truthful, so sincere, and so pure, but we... We just...

MICHAEL. Ok, get over it... Relax... There's nothing we can do now.

Pause.

NATALIE. (Takes a look at her watch.) It's almost time. Do you wanna go to the office and see what's going on?

MICHAEL. Yeah, sure.

Exit Michael. Enter Witness.

NATALIE. Could you come over here, please?

Witness walks up to her.

ššššššššš Tell me something... the women in your stories, are they all the same woman?

WITNESS. You guessed it.

NATALIE. Your wife?

WITNESS. Yes.

NATALIE. Please forgive us for being so tactless. I'm very embarrassed for the both of us.

WITNESS. It's not a big deal. You didn't know...

NATALIE. Why didn't you tell us?

WITNESS. I couldn't admit to you that all my life I loved only one woman and that she happened to be my wife.

NATALIE. Why not?

WITNESS. It's not that interesting. Besides, no one would have believed it.

NATALIE. I would've believed.

WITNESS. Even so, I wouldn't have been able to discuss the intimate details about my wife with total strangers. It's easier to talk about nonexistent random women from my past.

NATALIE. Why didn't you tell us who you were, or remind me when you saw me today? Why pretend to be a waiter?

WITNESS. Because I wouldn't be very convincing as a waitress.

Natalie laughs.

ššššššššš Seriously, I didn't pretend to be anything. You asked for coffee, and I brought it.

NATALIE. By the way, what sort of a cafe is this? It looks pretty old.

WITNESS. I bought this place and turned it into a summer house after my wife died. I wanted to hide in here, away from people. And from guilt and grief. I just wanted to be alone.

NATALIE. Guilt? Why?

WITNESS. I am a doctor. I was supposed to be the first one to notice that she was sick. I was too caught up in my work, I didn't notice her illness before it was too late.

NATALIE. And if you had noticed, would it have been possible to save her?

WITNESS. I don't know. (Pause.) But it doesn't matter now.

NATALIE. This isn't the way she would have wanted you to live.

WITNESS. I know... I see life differently these days. I actually started appreciating life again only very recently. But why does life have to be so cruel?

NATALIE. I had my appointment with you quite a while ago. How did you remember my name and date of birth? You see dozens of women ever day.

WITNESS. Yes, but none as charming as you.

NATALIE. I appreciate the compliment. But it's Ok now to take off your mask. The show is over.

WITNESS. You're right. And unfortunately, I have to bid farewell to the mask and to you.

NATALIE. Wait. Apart from my looks, there must have been another reason why you remembered me.

WITNESS. Well, when I saw you here again a few months ago, I thought I recognized you at first, but I wasn't sure. (Pause.) So when I got back to the office, I checked your name in my computer. So, the explanation is quite simple. (Pause.) But why are you here, in this town? Do you have a summer house here?

NATALIE. My girlfriend does, and I love being here. I grew up in this town, my parents got married and lived here until they died. It means a lot to me.

WITNESS. Is that why you chose this place for your wedding?

NATALIE. Yes. It wasn't a very good idea, as you probably realized.

WITNESS. Marriage is often not a good idea.

NATALIE. You do not like my fiancee?

WITNESS. I like his fiancee much better.

NATALIE. Another compliment and I'll be convinced that you are indeed a seducer.

WITNESS. I've never been a seducer, but when I met you, I decided to become one.

NATALIE. And there it is.

WITNESS. The complements come naturally in your presence.

NATALIE. You are inexhaustible.

WITNESS. You inspire me.

Pause.

ššššššššš Forgive me my earlier histrionics.

NATALIE. What made you want to do that?

WITNESS. Can't you guess?

Pause. Natalie and Witness look at each other. Enter Michael.

MICHAEL. They're all set. We can go soon.

NATALIE. Already? Wait... I need a few minutes.

WITNESS. You're welcome to go inside. The door is open. Should I show you the way?

NATALIE. No thanks. I'll find it.

Exit Natalie. Pause.

MICHAEL. I have no idea how to act around you anymore.

WITNESS. What do you mean?

MICHAEL. Well... For example, I promised to pay you.

WITNESS. So, what's stopping you?

MICHAEL. You're not the kind of person I though you were. You're a doctor, and I'm a little embarrassed.

WITNESS. You can go ahead and pay me. Doctors love to be paid.

MICHAEL. But you weren't acting like a doctor around us.

WITNESS. It doesn't matter. Clowns get paid too, and waiters get their tips.

MICHAEL. Are you serious? (Pulls out his wallet.) How much?

WITNESS. I was joking. You brought drinks, I brought the chaser. We're even.

MICHAEL. (Hides the wallet.) I underestimated you. You are a threat. I can't figure out in what way, but you are. I sensed it when I first met you.

WITNESS. Don't worry, we'll part ways in half an hour.

MICHAEL. To mutual delight.

WITNESS. And I doubt we'll see each other again.

MICHAEL. I hope not. I regret I asked you to be our witness.

WITNESS. And I'm grateful to you for that.

Enter Natalie.

NATALIE. I'm ready

WITNESS. You are unbelievably beautiful! That's what I call a bride.

Pause.

MICHAEL. Ready to go?

NATALIE. Yes.

Michael heads towards the exit, Natalie follows him half-heartedly. Witness doesn't move.

MICHAEL. (To Witness.) Are you coming?

WITNESS. Only if it's absolutely necessary.

NATALIE. You promised.

WITNESS. Then I'll keep the promise.

All three of them are headed off stage. Natalie stops suddenly.

NATALIE. Where's my bouquet?

MICHAEL. What bouquet? (Sees the violets.) Ah, this one... Just a sec. (Pulls Witness to the side.) Where's the nearest florist?

WITNESS. By the train station.

MICHAEL. How far away is it?

WITNESS. About a five minute walk.

MICHAEL. (To Natalie.) Wait for me. I'll be back soon. (Exits.)

WITNESS. I thought you forgot about my violets.

NATALIE. No. I haven't.

Pause.

ššššššššš We only have a few minutes left. Can I talk to you frankly?

WITNESS. By all means.

NATALIE. Promise to be truthful?

WITNESS. I promise.

NATALIE. Do you like me?

WITNESS. You know I do. Very much.

NATALIE. I like you too.

WITNESS. Well, I'm glad you're no longer repelled by me.

NATALIE. No, that's not what I mean. You are... I... I want to be with you.

WITNESS. I don't understand.

NATALIE. What's to understand? I want to be with you. Isn't that clear? I want to be with you.

WITNESS. Why?

NATALIE. (Trying to sound playfull.) To be another entry in your little black book.

WITNESS. That book doesn't exist.

NATALIE. But I do.

WITNESS. Are you kidding?

NATALIE. Not anymore. I want to be yours. What else can I say?

WITNESS. You want to be with me after your wedding?

NATALIE. Yes. After our wedding.

WITNESS. First your fiancee was making fun of me. Now it's you.

NATALIE. (Still trying to hide embarrassment behind the playful tone.) I'm proposing to you. I'd rather it be you who does that, but I don't want to wait that long.

WITNESS. (Suddenly agitated.) Please don't laugh.

NATALIE. (Earnestly.) I'm not laughing. I... I love you.

WITNESS. Since when?

NATALIE. Since forever.

WITNESS. We've only known each other for a little over an hour. How is that since forever?

NATALIE. I was asleep before I met you, but now I'm awake. I realized I was looking for you all my life.

WITNESS. Why now? What have I done to deserve someone like you?

NATALIE. Great seducers don't do anything special. They just come and take what already belongs to them. Ring a bell?

WITNESS. You don't have to quote it.

NATALIE. Did you notice how in all your stories you kept saying words like "gentle" and "tenderness"? I'll be gentle and tender with you. I know how to be both. Whenever you need me to be those things, I will.

WITNESS. You know something? You are a seductress.

NATALIE. If you love me half as much as you loved your wife, that would be enough for me. I want to experience that kind of happiness. Even if I'm just a shadow of her.

WITNESS. A woman like you could never be anyone's shadow.

NATALIE. I'm not going to try to compete with her. That would be impossible. I'll simply love you.

WITNESS. But you don't know me at all. I am a moody introvert.

NATALIE. Well, I'm no picnic myself.

WITNESS. I work a lot. The hospital pages me every other night. Sometimes I have to stay there overnight. You'll get bored.

NATALIE. Bored? With you?

WITNESS. Without me.

NATALIE. Is there anything else I should be warned about?

WITNESS. I can be possessive. You'll find me hard to deal with.

NATALIE. I'll do my best.

WITNESS. That's very romantic of you, but... I'm sixty years old.

NATALIE. And I'm thirty four. It's not that big of a difference.

WITNESS. I'm not being clear enough. Let me say it in another way: in ten years I'll be seventy.

NATALIE. And I'll be forty four. Look, you still don't understand. I want to spend my life with you.

WITNESS. I know I'm a little drunk, but not enough to accept this insanity.

NATALIE. Well, I'm fed up with being sane.

WITNESS. Sometimes a little sanity doesn't hurt.

NATALIE. If we start analyzing everything, we may ruin it all.

Pause.

WITNESS. Natalie, I like you a lot. But this is impossible. I'm sorry.

Exit Witness. Natalie is alone. Pause. Enter Michael carrying a posh bouquet of white lilies.

MICHAEL. For you.

NATALIE. Thank you.

MICHAEL. Ok. Let's go?

NATALIE. Where to?

MICHAEL. What do you mean "where to"? To get married.

NATALIE. Wait. (Puts the bouquet down on the table.) I have to tell you something.

Pause.

MICHAEL. Well?

NATALIE. I don't think we should get married.

MICHAEL. What? Why?

NATALIE. Because... Because I don't love you.

MICHAEL. Since when?

NATALIE. I don't know. Since long ago, I guess. May be I never loved you.

MICHAEL. And you're telling me this now?

NATALIE. I just realized it now.

MICHAEL. You've got to be kidding me. We've been together for two years. And I though it was good. We're in business together...

NATALIE. No, Mike. I realized that a woman shouldn't marry a man just because she could live with him. She should marry a man who she couldn't live without. Or no one at all.

MICHAEL. How could you change your mind just like that?

Pause.

ššššššššššš Ok. If you're having doubts, let's just postpone the ceremony. In the meantime, we can just live together like before.

NATALIE. No, Michael. We should break up now.

MICHAEL. But why?

NATALIE. I settled for compromise all my life, I agreed to everything. I always said "yes", but today I say "no". It'll be better for both of us.

MICHAEL. It may be better for you. But not for me. I'll go insane without you.

NATALIE. Believe me, I'm not the kind of woman you need.

MICHAEL. But why? Why?

NATALIE. This is exactly our problem, you don't understand me. You are caring, you love me in your own way, but we're different.

MICHAEL. So, that's it? It's over?

NATALIE. Yes. You know why I've been so nervous all day? It's because I realized I was about to make a mistake.

MICHAEL. You're making a mistake now.

NATALIE. (Hugs him.) I'm sorry.

Enter Witness.

WITNESS. Excuse me... Am I interrupting?

NATALIE. Not at all.

MICHAEL. Thank you for wanting to help, but the wedding is cancelled. We changed our minds. (Takes his coat and the car keys.) Natalie, come on.

WITNESS. You refused to marry him?

MICHAEL. That's none of your business. I said there'll be no wedding, that's all. (Tries to lead Natalie away.)

WITNESS. No, there will be a wedding.

Michael stops and stares at Witness, perplexed. Witness takes a step towards Natalie and kneels down on one knee in front of her.

ššššššššš Natalie, I give you my hand and my heart. Will you marry me?

MICHAEL. He's playing you for a fool again.

NATALIE. Yes, I will.

Witness rises. He and Natalie stand facing each other.

MICHAEL. What is this, some kind of game?

NATALIE. (Holding Witness's hand.) No, it's not a game.

MICHAEL. You want to marry - him?

NATALIE. Yes.

MICHAEL. (To Witness.) And you're asking her to marry you?

WITNESS. Yes.

MICHAEL. Where did this come from? How did this happen so fast?

WITNESS. I don't owe you an explanation.

MICHAEL. (Takes a few threatening steps towards Witness, who remains calm.) I wanted to teach you a lesson the moment I saw you. It's not too late.

NATALIE. Michael, some problems can't be solved with your fists.

MICHAEL. We'll see.

WITNESS. (Taking a deliberate step towards Michael.) Easy, my friend.

MICHAEL. (Slightly less aggressive.) You stole my bride.

NATALIE. Nobody stole me. I made my choices.

WITNESS. Calm down. Accept it like a man.

MICHAEL. That's easy for you to say...

WITNESS. No, it's not easy. I love this woman, and yet I agreed to be a witness for your wedding. I gave you my time, I smiled and made a fool of myself, and every minute I was saying good bye to her in my mind. Now it's your turn to be the witness.

MICHAEL. Your witness? Me? You're crazy! Should I witness not only your happiness, but also your wedding?

NATALIE. No. That would've been too cruel. (Pause.) Unless you decide to. Then I'd be glad.

Pause.

MICHAEL. (Crashed.) Natalie, wake up! What's the rush?

NATALIE. I'm afraid he may change his mind.

MICHAEL. Well... Perhaps I should indeed act like a man. Do you really want me to be your witness?

NATALIE. Yes.

MICHAEL. Well, if you insist...

NATALIE. Thank you.

Pause. Natalie picks up the violets and takes Witness by the hand.

NATALIE. (To the Witness.) Let's hurry. I've been waiting for so long.

 

 

 

The End.