Born in 1978, Milan Markovic graduated from the Faculty of Dramatic Arts in Belgrade.
The Bench, Belgrade Drama Theatre, directed by Goran Ruskuc (‘Josip Kulundzic’ Award of the Faculty of Dramatic Arts)
Good Morning Mr Rabbit, ‘Dusko Radovic’ Theatre, directed by Jelena Bogavac
Aca Can’t Understand That (radio-drama)
Good Morning Mr Rabbit, (radio-drama)
Hyva boy, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana
Good Morning Mr Rabbit, National Theatre, Belgrade and Mostar.
Hyva boy (in Serbian, English and Slovenian – ‘Pre-Glej na glas!’, Ljubljana 2007)
Good Morning Mr Rabbit (in Serbian and English – ‘Scena’, Novi Sad, 2005; ‘Tmalcart – Nova srpska drama’, Mostar, 2006)
The Green House (‘Teatron’, 2004)
Markovic was the assistant during the practical dramaturgy training (organised by TkH Belgrade/Maska Ljubljana/Frakcija Zagreb, 2005 and 2006).
He took place in the Forum of Young Playwrights during the ‘NEW PLAYS FROM EUROPE’ Festival in Wiesbaden, 2006. Later that year he worked as an assistant director on the ‘Wild animus’ project in Zagreb (production Waxfactory, New York). In November 2006 Markovic participated in organising the new drama festival ‘Pre-Glej na glas!’ in Ljubljana and was the project coordinator for ‘New Drama at Sterijino Pozorje’ in 2007 and 2008.
Markovic is a member of the SFW New Drama, a group of playwrights who promote new dramatic expression in Belgrade. He participates and leads dramaturgy workshops and stage readings within this project.
Markovic is the founder and administrator of the archive website www.nova-drama.org, the largest of its kind in the wider region.
Translated by Lidija Kapičić
TINA: You know, he and I used to sleep in the living room while the flat, while they were redecorating the flat and one night Dad went down to the basement, opened the door silently not to wake us up, went down into the basement and shot himself in the head. Darko was the first to run down there and see it all... You want some? Miša. Do you want some more chocolate?
TINA: And now he’s showing that he’s all brave and strong, by actually, by behaving like a pussy.
MIŠA: You’re lying.
TINA: I’m not lying.
MIŠA: Your dad’s on a trip, your mom told me. You are always lying.
TINA: I don’t lie, I make things up.
MIŠA: It’s the same thing.
TINA: It’s not the same. And besides that, there are things I can make up and things I can’t. This is the sort of thing I would never make up...
There are things we do not notice, and also the ones we pretend not to notice. However, there are those things we choose not to notice. Agreeing to turn a blind eye to some things, despite their obviousness, just appears to make life easier, and it continues to flow smoothly – but only to a certain point. Until the payment time.
The games which the actors play in the drama Hyvä Boy by Milan Markovic – those which they play with others, and also with themselves, with their own imagination or their own consciousness – differ in their criteria of noticing, just like by the readiness of the dramatis persona to admit to the rest that they notice (or don’t notice) the truth in they live in.
Can a love affair, or just a friendly gathering between two people who have families, remain unnoticed in a provincial small town? Can a woman listen indifferently to ‘village gossip’ about her unfaithful husband? Can the suicide of a family’s father be portrayed to his child as ‘daddy’s gone on a trip’? Can a mother not worry about her underage son who doesn’t sleep at home, and who spends his time in street fights? Can a fourteen-year-old boy in love spy on a twelve-year-old girl and stay unnoticed? Can she not notice how her mother regularly takes food, secretly, to the supposedly empty basement?
But, anything that isn’t noticed, for whatever reason, will suddenly one day appear in reality. But this time it won’t be like Carpenter’s terrifying film monster or the perverse revenge of twisted Baby Jane, but more like the spirit of a husband who, although dead, eats, drinks and scorns his widow in the very basement where he killed himself; like the dead look of a betrayed husband who in the eyes of those he meets wishes to recognize sympathy; like the pathological worry of a woman for the family of an ex-lover who committed suicide; like the non-existent telephone calls that a twelve-year-old girl constantly answers, longing for her father who she was told was on the road, although he killed himself; like the urge of her sixteen-year-old brother to prove he’s not a coward like his father whom he found dead in the basement was, picking cruel fights with his peers time and time again; like the crime which he’s about to commit with the same gun that his father used to shoot himself... And finally, like a badge which has “This year I was a good boy.” written on it, which Santa Claus, in the middle of a drunken night in the middle of nowhere in Finland, is personally going to give to a future suicide, a suicide who can no longer pretend that his life hasn’t turned into shit.
In Finnish, hyvä boy means good boy.
And that’s how the phantom apparition of Santa Claus will get tangible contours of reality which will be incarnated in the badge whose harmless inscription echoes like terrible irony in the consciousness, conscience and soul of a man who is himself soon to become a phantom apparition for his widow, daughter and finally son, the self-same ones whom he didn’t free by leaving, but rather imprisoned.
So, the game continues. In the same basement where once he shot himself is now his son, Santa Claus’s badge in one hand, and a gun in the other... The scene gradually sinks into darkness, while little Tina utters, like a mantra for driving away her own fears and insanity, almost like saying a prayer, the final replicas addressed to a terrifying reality which are becoming more intensively informed by apparitions surrounding her, and she says: “Hey, where are you? Come here, please, don’t scare me! Okay, I’m going to sit here and I won’t look, I’ll close my eyes. Please, come. Why don’t you want to play with me? Here, I’ll close my eyes. I’ll pretend that I don’t see anything. I’ll pretend that I don’t notice anything.”
Translated by Lidija Kapičić
To Jelica Satarić and the Group, for everything I’ve learned from them
To Simona Semenič and Maja Pelević
To my family
Darko is drinking beer from a two-litre plastic bottle. A noise frightens him, he drops the bottle and runs down the street.
Tina is squatting on the ground,tensely observing an anthill. She turns and looks towards the:
DRAGANA: ...I can’t. Not tonight. Because...No, pussycat, you know why. Today...No, I said I’d be here today, and that is how it’s going to be. I know. Yes, I was, so what. Two nights in a row in my own house, is that a sin? I can’t. I can’t change it now. I am sorry. You’ll have to, sorry, but you’ll have to...Yes. Yes. Sorry, but you’ll have to... Nevertheless. Nevertheless. You are so sweet... I know, but you’ll have to cancel it. You are sweet...Really? You are just saying that. I can’t. Not tonight. Sorry...
Tina. Darko cautiously enters the flat. Morning.
TINA: Someone’s in the basement.
DARKO (Notices her): Ah. What are these... You are not sleeping? What idiots. Have you seen...
DARKO: You are not sleeping?
TINA: I got up at 9.
DARKO: Why aren’t you in school? Fuck, have you seen them in number 5? What are they playing at?
He unwraps a piece of burek (cheese pie) and starts eating it.
They say a child’s got stuck in the elevator.
TINA: A child’s got stuck in the elevator.
DARKO: Yes, they say a child is stuck in the elevator.
TINA: A girl.
DARKO: Of course.
TINA: Why “of course”?
DARKO: Another reason I would never live in a block of flats.
TINA: Why is it a girl “of course”?
DARKO: Boys are more agile and independent. They start going out on their own younger. It’s normal that a girl is stuck in the elevator because it’s probably the first time she’s been out alone. She probably thought, here, all my friends from nursery school are playing outside in the car park in front of the building, only me and my girlfriends watch them from the window. She probably cried for days and weeks begging her parents to let her out, and when they finally did, God punished her.
TINA: I started going out on my own before you did.
DARKO: And now she is going to carry this trauma for years because she wanted more than she could handle.
TINA: I started going out on my own before you did.
DARKO: Yes, but I am still older. Why aren’t you in school?
TINA: I am going in the afternoon. The whole week.
Somebody’s in the basement.
DARKO: What the hell is with this burek!
TINA: Someone lives in our basement.
DARKO: What are you talking about?
TINA: Somebody’s in the basement.
DARKO: Cut it out.
TINA: Somebody lives there.
DARKO: C’mon, Tina, don’t start that again.
TINA: I saw Dragana last night taking a full tray of food down there.
DARKO: And what were you doing here at that time?
TINA: What’s that got to do with it? You see, she’s locked the door.
DARKO: You didn’t start going out before me.
TINA: Darko, I am telling you, someone’s down there.
DARKO: I don’t care if anyone’s down there. Even if it wasn’t just another of your bullshit stories I wouldn’t give a damn, even if Brad Pitt himself was there, absorbed in a game of checkers with Osama Bin Laden’s sister, I wouldn’t give a shit, get it? Do you know what the real mystery is, Tina? The locked door isn’t a mystery, the mystery is why these shitheads never, I mean never, put cheese in a burek which is called a cheese burek, do you understand, that’s the mystery. Or an even bigger one – why do I buy that same burek for breakfast every fucking morning? That’s the real mystery.
TINA: Give me a bit.
DARKO: No. By the way, we don’t have an elevator.
DARKO: We don’t have an elevator.
DARKO: Even if they did let you go out earlier it was because we live in a house, not in a block.
TINA: I know where the key is. I saw where she put it, she put it here.
She points to the door frame.
DARKO: Tina, why can’t you sleep during the night? I mean, why don’t you go to bed around 11 or 12 like any other 10-year old girl...
TINA: I am 12.
DARKO: ...Why don’t you go to bed, read the paper a bit, a gossip magazine and then, maybe, at some point, fall asleep? Why doesn’t it work in your case? Why do you have to wander through the house in the middle of the night and make up mysteries, what’s the deal?
TINA: And where were you all night?
DARKO: You know where I was, with the boys outside, doesn’t matter where, in any case I didn’t make up anything.
TINA: You weren’t sleeping? I don’t think you were sleeping with the boys. I think you all drank brandy in Štek until you spent all the money you had on you, then you went out into the street to fight the passers-by.
DARKO: That’s not true.
TINA: Then you probably went into the street to fight the passers-by but, unfortunately, there weren’t any, because no-one normal walks around our area at that time of night, so then you probably had a fight among yourselves.
DARKO: That’s not true. I would never spend all my money so I wouldn’t have any for burek in the morning.
The phone rings. It rings three times and then stops. It looks like Tina is the only one who notices it, but she doesn’t answer it.
TINA: You know what, I don’t care about your burek.
TINA: When you go to the army you won’t see it for six months.
DARKO: As if it matters. I’ll live. Burek is not the most important thing in the world. There are much more important things in this world than burek.
TINA: For example?
DARKO: For example? Who, for example, takes care of you when you sleep? Have you ever, for example, thought about it? While you sleep your innocent sleep in your cosy bed, who protects you from the Kosovars? The Hungarians, the Chinese? You’d rather not think about it, they rarely come into your mind, these thoughts, eh?
DARKO: While you innocently sleep and dream about your teddies, bunnies and foxes, who protects you from the Kosovars? It’s not burek that protects you from the Kosovars, I protect you from the Kosovars. I stand guard with my buddies and share a cigarette.
TINA: You don’t smoke, you idiot.
DARKO: Everyone starts when they go to the army. And while keeping one eye on suspicious movements in the dark around me, I follow the ciggie so it doesn’t get past me.
TINA: And then a Chinese sniper aims his weapon at the glow of your cigarette and pops you like a dog.
TINA: And when he goes back to Segedin he is the coolest guy because he killed a Serb who was stupid enough to smoke on his watch.
DARKO: It hadn’t got to me, I said I was waiting for my turn, stop talking rubbish! You dummy.
The phone rings again. Tina goes and answers it after the second ring.
Fuck that phone, you know.
DARKO: Sometimes I wank for hours, I can’t stop.
TINA: I have a bit of a stomach ache. Just under the belly button. As if...like a stone.
DARKO: It calms me down. I relax. Otherwise I can’t sleep, some nervousness shakes me, who the fuck knows.
TINA: As if I have a stone here.
DARKO: I lie and freak out, like a tit because of Dad or because you are crazy, or some circles appear in front of my eyes, now big, now small, just to drive me crazy, but I can’t close my eyes, for some reason they are like, you know like Tom and Jerry when they put matchsticks in their eyelids, like shutters, then I have to wank off.
DARKO: It’s not some...sex thing, when I wank I don’t think about anything, just some warmth floods me and sometimes I think, I think that I am the closest to God ever, that’s what I think, I think that God is observing me right then and I feel warm around my heart. I’d kill myself without it, I swear. I wouldn’t be able to. I’d shit my pants like a pussy, I’d jump under a tram.
TINA: I think you got the wrong number. I am not lying, I have no reason to lie. Why should I lie to you?
Looks at the receiver and hangs up.
DARKO: Who was it this time, Michael Jackson?
DARKO: Mum? What does she say?
TINA: She is on her way. Told me to heat up the cabbage rolls.
DARKO: To heat up the cabbage rolls?
DARKO: She prepared cabbage rolls? She made it last night and now she told you to heat it up?
TINA: Obviously she prepared it, if she told me to heat it up. I can’t heat up something that hasn’t been made, can I?
DARKO: I am not going to eat it.
TINA: Why not?
DARKO: I’ve got my reasons.
TINA: You’ve got your reasons?
TINA: You’ve got your reasons not to eat cabbage rolls?
DARKO: Yes. Because I know you are bullshitting again. If she wanted to make cabbage rolls she would have to visit occasionally, and she is never here.
DARKO: She is never here. Even if she came here she wouldn’t make cabbage rolls.
TINA: Alright, I’ll heat it for myself.
Tina goes to the kitchen.
DARKO: Cabbage rolls...
Darko goes the toilet.
Tina comes back from the kitchen, tries to enter the toilet.
TINA: C’mon, man...get out.
DARKO (Off): Why?
TINA: I can’t wait two hours, that’s why!
DRAGANA: Have you seen...
TINA: Yes, I have.
DRAGANA: Terrible. It’s terrible.
TINA: I’d like to go to the toilet.
DRAGANA: You should see what the parents look like.
TINA: Mum, tell Darko to get out.
DRAGANA: Like zombies. Blue white green. Do you know that little girl?
TINA: What little girl?
DRAGANA: The one stuck in the elevator.
TINA: Mum, I really have to.
DRAGANA: What, sweetheart?
TINA: The toilet. I have to go to the toilet.
DRAGANA: So, why don’t you?
TINA: Because Darko is wanking in there.
DRAGANA: Could you put the coffee on for me, please.
Tina goes to the kitchen. Dragana knocks at the toilet door.
DARKO (Off): Yes?
DRAGANA: Come out.
DARKO (Off): Why?
DRAGANA: Because I am telling you to.
DARKO (Off): I am having a crap.
DRAGANA: It doesn’t matter.
Darko comes out, Tina shoots in.
DARKO: How do you imagine it?
DARKO: How do you imagine me emptying my bowels? I mean, if I have to come out regardless of the fact I am having a crap, then I’ll have to do it somewhere else, won’t I, I’ll have to do it somewhere else in the flat and that wouldn’t be nice, would it?
DRAGANA: Don’t talk nonsense.
DARKO: It wouldn’t be nice to go to the kitchen and shit in the oven. Or have a shit, for example, have a shit in your bed. To have a crap in your bed, that wouldn’t be nice, would it?
DRAGANA: No, Darko, that would be unpleasant. That’s enough now.
The phone starts ringing.
TINA (Off): I’ll get it!
Tina comes out of the toilet and runs to answer “the phone”.
DARKO: Her too now.
Dragana goes to the kitchen.
DARKO: If it’s for me I am not here. Unless it’s Nicole Kidman.
TINA: Yes? I understand. Yes.
Dragana returns with coffee.
DARKO: She is talking to America.
TINA: I am not sure because... Yes. He is not too healthy in his head today.
DRAGANA: Where are you going?
DARKO: I am going to sleep.
TINA: Wait, Darko! It’s for you.
DRAGANA: Let him sleep.
DARKO: Yeah? Nicole?
TINA: Mary, her secretary. But she’ll tell her everything, go ahead, talk.
DARKO: Hello, Mary? You speak Serbian...Bosnian-Croatian...That’s lovely. That’s simply amazing. I have goose bumps. Me? Not the best. Something, you could say, something’s bothering me, and I haven’t slept all night. Isn’t that right, Mary, life goes on? (To Tina and Dragana) Lovely woman. (into the phone) Yes. I know. I do believe so. I will. Say hi to Nicole. Tell her I think of her often. As a person. Bye and God bless you.
Hangs up and goes to his room.
Lovely woman. And she speaks great Serbian...
TINA: Does she? She is really beautiful, Mum, I wish you could have seen her.
DRAGANA: Nicole knows, my dear, who she employs. And she’s got money, she can choose.
TINA: So? She earned every penny honestly. I mean, she wasn’t stealing, was she?
DRAGANA: I am not saying.
TINA: She wasn’t involved in crime.
DRAGANA: But it’s easier to earn that much money in America.
TINA: She never stole, an actress.
DRAGANA: I want to say that if you were such a beautiful and talented person like Nicole Kidman then you’d, well, you’d more easily, I mean talent you’d more easily cash in in the States, here, that’s it.
TINA: Is it? I’ll ask.
DRAGANA: Feel free. America is ruling the world at the moment in such a way that it drains, you know, actually drains life from little nations such as our little Serbian nation and then it builds its industry, like, for example, the Hollywood industry. Then we struggle on our own. We try, kicking around like some, in fact, little mice, and we look ridiculous to ourselves, not to mention the neighbours. Can you imagine how funny we look to them while we are, you know, kicking around.
TINA: Are you trying to say that Nicole Kidman...
DRAGANA: But that’s not the worst. Not the worst. Then we lose our identity, our soul, my love...not just money. That’s the worst part. Once you lose the soul, sweetheart, there is no money in the world...
TINA: Are you trying to say...
DRAGANA: They say there is no money in the world that can get your soul back. Once you’ve lost it.
TINA: Nicole Kidman is a whore.
DRAGANA: It’s easy to employ some poor girl later, some poor, you know, peasant girl from Texas to act like a good soul. When you don’t have one.
TINA: If I knew...
DRAGANA: I mean soul.
TINA: Excuse me?
DRAGANA: When you don’t have a soul. When one doesn’t have a soul.
TINA: No soul.
DRAGANA: When one doesn’t have a soul.
TINA: No soul.
TINA: Mum, who’s in the basement?
DRAGANA: What do you mean, darling?
TINA: Who did you take food to last night?
DRAGANA: Why would I take food down there? To whom? If I was hungry, I mean, if I was really hungry, I could’ve eaten in the dining room, couldn’t I? If I was really hungry. But last night I wasn’t hungry at all. Together we ate French toast, you must remember? I thought last night it would be thrown away.
TINA: That’s right, we had French toast.
DRAGANA: All that bread’ll be thrown away, I’d better make some French toast. That’s what I thought. It’d be better if I make French toast, otherwise it’ll get thrown out. We watched some film, remember? We watched a film and ate French toast, and I didn’t notice how much I’d eaten until it was too late, until I’d stuffed myself.
TINA: Yeah, you really stuffed yourself. I remember you saying “I really stuffed myself”. But who did you take the food to?
DRAGANA: Love, please, will you stop bothering me. You know I didn’t go to the basement last night. That’s, that’s again you imagination, your imagination is playing games with you, love.
TINA: Why did you lock the door then? Mum?
TINA: The basement door. It’s locked. You locked it. Why?
DRAGANA: The basement door should be locked.
TINA: It’s never been locked.
DRAGANA: The basement door must be locked. There are rats. All sorts of...there are rats in the basement that can hardly wait to...
TINA: It’s never been locked.
DRAGANA: Rats can’t wait, sweetheart, they can’t wait to climb up. And they are nasty animals, I am sure you know what kind of animals they are.
TINA: I know.
DRAGANA: They are dirty toothsome beasts that transmit diseases. Once they bite you you are done for.
TINA: But they can’t open the door.
DRAGANA: There’s no cure. Have you any idea how many people have died from the plague? I am a nurse, I know that, if I know anything then that’s it.
TINA: But they don’t know how to open doors, Mum, do they?
DRAGANA: What, darling?
TINA: Rats can’t open doors, can they?
DRAGANA: They can’t, how could they?
TINA: Then why...
DRAGANA: Though, you never know. They are clever. They can eat you before you can say “Jack Robinson”.
TINA: Then why would we lock the door?
DRAGANA: What do you mean?
TINA: Why would we lock the door if they don’t know how to use the handle. I mean, rats. They don’t know how to use it. Even if they knew, they couldn’t reach it, and even if they reached it, they wouldn’t have enough weight to press on it. Isn’t that right?
DRAGANA: Probably. They probably wouldn’t.
TINA: Then why’s the door locked? The basement door.
DRAGANA: I have to start lunch, darling. Tell me the time.
DRAGANA: I really have no time for nonsense.
DRAGANA: Alright, here...imagine, I don’t know...here, imagine, for example, that your mother is a secret agent...
DRAGANA: What do you mean “who”? Who’s your mother? So, imagine that I am a kind of secret agent. That I have a mission, ok? A secret mission. Imagine I have a secret mission of national importance. Imagine that. And all, for example, if I was, well, a secret agent, all I had to do was to keep that basement locked. That would be my, you know, mission.
TINA: And to take food.
DRAGANA: I haven’t taken any food down there, stop making things up. Haven’t we, tell me, haven’t you and I agreed about your making things up?
TINA: Yes we have.
DRAGANA: What did the doctor say? He said I should let you make up whatever you want, even your imaginary phone conversations, whatever you want, but if it’s something important, not to do it. Didn’t you and I agree on that?
DRAGANA: Let’s say I come back from work and you tell me, for example, that the police called and Darko had been arrested. Are you allowed to make up such things?
TINA: No. I must not. I must not make up things like that.
DRAGANA: I don’t want to hear any more about the basement story. You are just scaring people. Have you bothered Darko with it?
TINA: Yes I have.
DRAGANA: And, what did he say?
TINA: That he doesn’t give a shit. He said he didn’t give a shit if the door was locked.
DRAGANA: There you go. You see how he, how he knows what’s important and what’s not.
TINA: He mentioned burek with cheese.
TINA: He said that burek with cheese is a real mystery.
DRAGANA (Looks at her watch). I have to put lunch on.
Dragana goes to the kitchen.
TINA: And the cabbage rolls?
DRAGANA: What cabbage rolls?
TINA: You told me to heat it up.
DRAGANA: Oh, dear, Tina.
She goes out.
TINA: I am afraid, I am afraid it’s one...
DRAGANA (Off): Why don’t you go outside a bit, there’s plenty of time before school.
TINA: ...I have a feeling that we didn’t, that we didn’t understand each other properly.
2. Park / street / basement
Space 1 (park)
TINA: I know you are looking at me, I won’t tell anyone. Don’t go! I like it that you are here. Do you want to know how I know? Well I don’t know, simply, when I walk along the street, that suddenly I am not alone anymore. I feel you. No. It’s like this: I am walking along the street and everything is normal, cars, passers-by, blah blah blah and then, in an instant, I turn around while I cross the street and I look down the street and then, in that instant, it hits me.
Do you understand? I feel you. I am not cold anymore, as if a fever hits me, I shiver, it feels good and I don’t have to turn around and see if it was you, it’s enough that I know. I don’t tell anyone anything because they would think I am crazy, but you and I know it. We know.
Don’t go. Will you? Here, I’ll pretend you are not here, I’ll pretend not to notice anything.
I can tell you stories no-one knows. If you want. Just don’t go.
Space 2 (street)
Darko sits on the wall, drinking beer from a 2-litre bottle and spitting on the floor.
Space 3 (basement), lit by coloured lights which slowly come on.
Dragana descends the wooden steps with a tray – some food and a bottle of beer. Dimitrije is sitting on the floor, his back to the wall, nibbling on some seeds. He lifts his eyes for a moment when he hears the door open, then continues to stare at the floor and nibble.
DRAGANA: Sorry I couldn’t ... Sorry I am late.
Places the tray in front of Dimitrije. He takes the bottle, pours the beer, takes a sip and continues to nibble.
DRAGANA: I couldn’t come earlier. The children are... Tina probably saw me coming here last night. I had to wait. To be sure. I think last night she saw me coming down for the first time. I had to lock the door. I don’t want, I didn’t want to think, and the basement, the basement is no place for a child.
DIMITRIJE: And Darko?
DRAGANA: Sleeping. Why are you looking at me like that? He goes out at night, you know that.
DIMITRIJE: He goes out too often.
DRAGANA: Nothing will happen to him, he is with his friends.
DIMITRIJE: I think he goes out too much for his age.
DRAGANA: The little girl is problematic. She spies on me. I am convinced that sometimes she spies on me. And her fantasies...
DIMITRIJE: You are such an idiot.
DRAGANA: Why don’t you eat something? You haven’t eaten for days, that worries me.
DIMITRIJE: I don’t give a fuck.
DRAGANA: Don’t be like that. I know it’s not easy but you don’t have to look like that. Why don’t you shave?
DIMITRIJE: Why do you care?
DRAGANA: Don’t start that again.
DRAGANA: I think, really, I don’t think I deserve this.
DIMITRIJE: You disgusting whore.
DRAGANA: I don’t deserve to be spoken to like this. I am worried, I am the only one who looks after you and you...
DIMITRIJE: Drop dead.
DRAGANA: I don’t deserve to be spoken to like that. I could, really, I could leave you here. Nothing prevents me from leaving you here hungry and thirsty and alone, no totally alone, surrounded by rats, bugs and dust, if I only, I mean, if I only wanted to. But I don’t want to. Because you are my husband and I love you I could never leave you alone.
DIMITRIJE: You are completely out of your mind. Did you know that? Completely mad.
DRAGANA: Because you are my husband and I love you.
DIMITRIJE: Has Natalija been?
DRAGANA: You know, I mean, you know she comes, often, every other day, and that is, I can’t look at her and how, I mean, you know, how funny it all is, that she comes, you know, in fact, to see the kids. When you left she suddenly started to show interest in the children, especially, which is logical, in Darko. She cares, she started to care for them. It’s funny, isn’t it? Don’t you think, I mean, if nothing else, it’s funny? Last time she came she told me, can you imagine, she told me she was grateful. She was grateful for my understanding. Like, I understand her and she is grateful for that. That woman, I mean, she is, at the very least...
DIMITRIJE: What? What is she?
DRAGANA: ...Confused. At the very least confused, to put it mildly. As if she doesn’t know, I mean, it’s not possible to hide in such a small town, as if she doesn’t know what people are saying.
DIMITRIJE: What are they saying?
DRAGANA: One can’t, I mean, in such a small town, it’s difficult to hide something like that, something like an affair. It’s difficult to hide it because people see, it’s visible. Of course, now, well, people are polite and pretend not to see, but it is obvious, it’s impossible to hide. And her Miodrag, I can see it on his face when I visit, when I meet him at the market, I see it when he looks at me. Miodrag knows what was happening when you stayed after hours at work, it was clear, when you travelled to Negotin and now when she comes to see the kids, he understands, and that, you should see his eyes, they speak a thousand words, that clearly hurts him a lot. That lost look which desperately searches, yes, one could say, desperately searches for compassion but can’t find it. Every time I see him it breaks my heart, like a ghost, you should see him, like some ghost walking around the market with an empty basket, he doesn’t know what he wants to buy or where’s he going, maybe he doesn’t want anything, maybe he’s looking for that, you know, maybe for that expression he fails to find.
DIMITRIJE: You would like that.
DRAGANA: Horrible, a horribly touching scene.
DIMITRIJE: You would love that, that would explain everything. But you are afraid that what I told you might be the truth, that between her and me there was nothing except friendship. You are horrified by the thought that we were only friends and nothing else, because you have no friends. You’ve never had any. And the one that’s been fucking you, and badly too...
DRAGANA: Stop it.
DIMITRIJE: That “colleague” you visit during the night...
DRAGANA: What was I supposed to do when you left, wait for you?!
DRAGANA: To wait for your mercy, like a sufferer...
DIMITRIJE: You are such an idiot...
DARKO: I hate plans, you know that. I don’t like them at all.
MIŠA: I know.
DARKO: Planning things. It’s disgusting. I am not the type.
MIŠA: I know.
DARKO: I mean, let’s be objective, Miša, you aren’t either. You are not, well, let’s be objective, you are not the type for making plans. Especially, I mean, not for cunning ones, for clever ones.
MIŠA: What do you mean?
DARKO: Well, I think, I mean...you are such a ...well, honest, one could say that you are an honest guy. And honest people do not make plans, especially not cunning plans.
MIŠA: Well, yeah...but I thought that we weren’t planning a lot. I thought that, maybe, tonight...
DARKO: No way.
DARKO: Not tonight. There’s gonna be a fight. The ones from Radiceva street are coming, Tadija called them, do you know Tadija?
MIŠA: Well, maybe, hmmm, we could do it before the fight. I thought...
Darko pulls out a gun.
DARKO: No weapons, Tadija said no weapons, you know these guys from Radiceva, they are...
DARKO: I mean, they are cunts, you never know.
DRAGANA: Eat, it’ll get cold. I can’t, I decided long ago I wouldn’t wait for you, but I won’t leave you. I want you to know that. It’s important you know that. Eat, it’ll get cold.
DIMITRIJE: You’ll never leave me in peace, will you?
You are completely mad.
Dimitrije continues drinking.
DARKO: What were you thinking?
DARKO: What were you thinking?
MIŠA: Well, to stop by before if you think that...
DARKO: She is crazy, you know that?
MIŠA: I know... But nevertheless I thought...we’ve known each other for a long time. I don’t have big plans. I thought you could take me tonight, so I can have a chat with her.
DARKO: I am not sure you are aware of what you are asking me to do. She is my...I mean, we are talking about my sister, here, not some other, well, just any other whore from the station. I mean, you are a, so to speak, a tramp, though there are exceptions, but we are still talking about my sister, not some...
MIŠA: I only want to, Darko, I’d just like to, I mean, I told you, just have a talk with her. I’ll respect you.
DARKO: We are talking about my sister, not some filthy slag from the station.
MIŠA: I know, here, I prepared...I know it’s silly to give money, but I thought you would know best what you need. That’s what I thought...the best is if you give him the money, Miloš, and he’ll know best what he needs to buy.
DARKO: You thought well.
MIŠA: Here. It’s not much money, but as I said, I said clearly I don’t want to owe to anybody.
DARKO: That’s really nice of you. From the beginning... I always said that you were the right guy.
MIŠA: Darko, tell me why, I mean, why are you fighting?
MIŠA: Why are the boys from Radićeva coming, why are you going to fight?
DARKO: What do you mean?
MIŠA: Well, nothing.
DARKO: What do you mean “why are we going to fight”?
MIŠA: Never mind.
DARKO: Because they are cunts, you know they are, what’s wrong with you? You are a strange character, Miša. As they say, strange.
Darko. Tina comes in dressed “adventurously.”
DARKO: Where have you been? In fact, I don’t care.
DARKO: Nothing. I’ve been waiting for you.
DARKO: Don’t start.
DARKO: Nothing you can tell me interests me at the moment. Not how you caught butterflies, or how you observed, well, looked at those...ants or whatever.
TINA: Oh, well. I never thought. I mean, I never thought about telling you about it.
DARKO: I don’t care about any of that. I can’t listen to it. My head will explode.
TINA: I never intended to tell you about it, because I never went to catch butterflies. But, nevertheless, I had a great time.
DARKO: Every time I sleep in the afternoon I get a headache. I wish, I simply want to take one, take one long nail and drive it into my head. Nail it through my head.
TINA: I didn’t go catching butterflies but I came across a gorgeous ants’ nest. Down there next to the school, there is the yellow wall of the kiosk, you know? I found the front and the back...you know, they have two entrances to the house, the front and the back. In fact, they are the entrance and exit. Practical, isn’t it? Isn’t it practical?
DARKO: Straight into my head.
TINA: There is no bumping into each other. If you look carefully you’ll rarely see two ants bumping into each other. They are calculating creatures. They have little antennas they use to communicate. When they find food, they form two lines, one goes one way the other the other way, the opposite. And every time they meet they move these antennas and chat about something.
DARKO: You don’t say ants’ nest.
DARKO: You say ant hill, not nest.
TINA: Why are you in such a bad mood?
DARKO: I have a headache. A splitting headache. It’s going to explode.
TINA: Because you sleep in the afternoon.
DARKO: ...You think that’s why?
TINA: Every time you sleep in the afternoon you have a headache.
DARKO: See, it’s possible. Maybe it really is connected to my afternoon nap.
TINA: Has Dragana been?
DARKO: She’s in the shop.
TINA: In the shop? Mum is in the shop?
TINA: That’s not true.
TINA: I’ve just been there. I’ve just been there and she wasn’t there. She is not in the shop.
DARKO: You were in the shop, she wasn’t there and based on that you have concluded, well, you have concluded that she hasn’t been to the shop.
DARKO: And you never thought, I mean, not for a moment, that she might have gone to another shop? The corner shop is not the only shop in the world, not to mention in our neighbourhood. I mean, it isn’t the only shop she could have wanted to go in.
TINA: It’s not the only one. But when Mum says she wants to go to the shop, it means she is going to the corner shop. And she’s not there.
DARKO: If that is the case she probably lied. She lied to us. She said she was going to the shop and she went to the kiosk. Terrible. A terrible woman.
TINA: She wasn’t in the kiosk, I went there too.
DARKO: Ok, Tina, I really don’t have, I mean, do you understand me if I tell you I don’t have the energy for this. I am trying to concentrate. Can you understand what I am trying to tell you?
TINA: You need concentration.
DARKO: Yes. At the moment I badly need concentration.
TINA: Alright. I understand. Everybody needs concentration sometimes.
Door bell. Darko goes to open it. He returns with Miša who is carrying a wrapped box of candies.
DARKO: You know Miša?
TINA: So to speak. One could say that. Sometimes he follows me.
DARKO: What do you mean?
TINA: Sometimes he follows me when I am alone outside.
MIŠA: I think you’ve mistaken me for someone else.
TINA: A couple of days ago he bought me an icecream. Do you remember you bought me an icecream a couple of days ago? You followed me along the street, you hid around corners, you probably thought I hadn’t noticed you. Is that what you thought? And I hid around the corner and surprised him. Did you have a fright? Then he said he had to buy me an ice-cream.
TINA: And what?
DARKO: Did he buy you an ice-cream?
TINA: Yes, didn’t I tell you he bought one? A cornet. Chocolate flavour.
MIŠA: I didn’t, really...
DARKO: A chocolate cornet...
TINA: I don’t mind, Miša, I like the fact you are around. Otherwise I’d be scared walking alone during the night.
MIŠA: Here, I’ve brought some candies.
TINA: Tell me.
MIŠA: Who, me?
TINA: I don’t know. You look like, I mean, you look like you want to tell me something.
MIŠA: Well, yeah... I thought...
DARKO: Well, I am off...I have to put some air in my tyres. Bike tyres. I’ll need my bike so it’s better if the tyres are pumped up. But later... I was thinking.
MIŠA: I thought, if you want, I’d like very much, if you’d like to be my, if you’d like to get together.
TINA: Excuse me?
TINA: I didn’t hear you.
TINA: Say it again.
TINA: What you just said.
MIŠA: Well, I was saying that I like it here, so I’d like more often, I mean, it would be nice to see each other more often.
TINA: What do you know about ants?
MIŠA: I saw them on TV...
TINA: On TV? You saw ants on TV?
TINA: And then, I mean, everyone is surprised to see our civilisation is going to ruin.
MIŠA: Because of me? Not because of me...
TINA: Because of you, yes. You have no soul, my friend. I mean, it’s not irreparable, but you have no soul.
MIŠA: How is it that I don’t have, I mean...a soul
TINA: Nicole Kidman drank it.
TINA: Nicole. Nicole Kidman. The actress. But we’ll fix it. We’ll need, it’s not irreparable, it won’t be easy but it’s not irreparable, we’ll need a lot of mud.
MIŠA: Mud? Plenty at the market, the pipes broke.
TINA: Loads of mud. The process is not that short, and you should know, we need, dedication is needed.
MIŠA: From whom? Nicole?
The “phone” rings.
TINA: From her too. Excuse me.
She answers the “phone”.
Hello? (to Miša) I knew it! (into the phone) Yeah. We do have a stove. And a fridge. Yes. A boiler too. They are white, yes. White! Ceilings? They are...well, let’s say... fluorescent green with pink spots. Oh, really? You don’t say...You think I am a fool?
Slams the phone down.
It seems they have, I mean, it’s obvious, it looks like the flat is bugged.
MIŠA: Tina. Sorry, but I’ve got to tell you, all of that is passé.
MIŠA: Bugging. Nowadays it’s all done via satellite. I saw it on...I mean, a friend told me how it works. It’s a completely automated process. Everything is recorded.
TINA: Have you got your swimming costume on?
MIŠA: What do you mean?
TINA: Have you got you-bathing suit on?
MIŠA: You mean now?
MIŠA: Well, I... haven’t.
TINA: Why not?
MIŠA: Well...I was not planning to go swimming.
TINA: Never mind. Let’s go. No time to lose.
MIŠA: Well...we shouldn’t forget...I thought, perhaps...
MIŠA: What about the candy box?
TINA: Bring it, we’ll think on our way.
Tina leaves a candy on the table for Darko. They rush outside.
DARKO (Off): Look what I’ve found near the stairs!
Darko comes back with a children’s tricycle and a bicycle pump. He notices they’ve gone. He tries to ride the tricycle but his gun bothers him so he takes it out and places it on the table. He notices the candy Tina left. Puts the candy in his mouth and gets back on the tricycle, briefly. Gets serious, frowns, takes the gun and leaves the room.
Tina and Miša covered in mud.
TINA: Let’s sit for a while. I am exhausted. I am really...
TINA: I really got tired. I haven’t run this much since... I can’t remember the last time I ran this much...
MIŠA: I think they got angry.
TINA: It’s because people, I mean, generally, they don’t care about anything. Especially not about us, the young.
MIŠA: I think that, well, they got angry because we ruined, because we ruined their fountain.
TINA: You said there was mud at the market. Didn’t you, tell me, didn’t you?
MIŠA: I did.
TINA: Didn’t you say there was mud at the market? Didn’t you?
MIŠA: I did.
TINA: Well there wasn’t, I don’t think there was a gram of mud there. How did you think we could do this? If we hadn’t screwed the fountain there wouldn’t have been any action.
MIŠA: No, I agree, Tina, of course we had to do it, but I am just saying why I think, I am saying why I think they got angry.
TINA: I really don’t know how you imagined doing this without any mud.
MIŠA: I am just saying...
TINA: I am dead tired.
MIŠA: I am a bit cold.
TINA: Of course. Of course you are tired. Have you seen the Matrix?
MIŠA: I get ill easily.
Tina takes the candy box out of her bag and opens it.
TINA: You remember when Keanu Reeves wakes up bald and miserable in the matrix, after he had taken the pill, he was cold too.
Tina gives him a candy.
TINA: Keanu Reeves, the Matrix.
TINA: You, too, have just taken a pill.
MIŠA: What pill?
First there is one then another gun shot in the distance. Miša jumps and looks in that direction.
TINA: You have just taken such a pill. For the end...
MIŠA: Tina, why...
TINA: Here, you deserve it. You were brave.
Gives him another piece of chocolate.
MIŠA: No, thanks. Why does Darko, I mean, hang around with Tadija?
TINA: With who?
MIŠA: Tadija. I don’t like him, that Tadija. Everyone with him fights all the time, and one day, I mean, one day somebody’s going to get hurt.
TINA: Well, that is...it’s not Tadija’s problem. That, my dear Miloš, is a man’s thing. You would do the same if something bad happened in your life.
MIŠA: I wouldn’t.
TINA: You’d do the same thing if something really scared you. Just like Darko. Darko is afraid. He is really scared, they all are. And then they all have to, well, they have to prove every day to themselves and to the others that they are brave, fearless.
MIŠA: I wouldn’t do that. I wouldn’t fight.
TINA: Because...you know, he and I used to sleep in the living room while they were fixing the flat and one night Dad went down to the basement, opened the door quietly not to wake us up, went into the basement and blew his brains out. Darko was the first to run down there and he saw it all... More? Miša. Do you want more chocolate?
TINA: So, now he is showing off his bravery and how strong he is by, in fact, being a cunt.
MIŠA: You are lying.
TINA: I am not.
MIŠA: Your dad is on a trip, my mother told me.
TINA: I don’t lie, I make things up.
MIŠA: It’s the same.
TINA: It’s not. Besides, there are things I’m allowed to invent and things I am not. I would never invent something like that. And you believe your mother...
MIŠA: You are making it up. If this really happened, I mean, if it had happened he would have talked to Mum.
TINA: She is even crazier. They are all crazy. Especially the old guys. They can really make things up ...
MIŠA: I am cold.
TINA: Come here.
TINA: You, too, are a bit of a cunt, eh? All you men are in fact, a bit of a cunt.
MIŠA: I think you are mad. I saw you once, I went out to throw the rubbish and I saw you squatting behind the kiosk.
TINA: Your mum is mad.
MIŠA: You had a wooden stick in your hand, you were holding it and digging in the ground. I stood and watched you, for two hours you dug like a madwoman.
TINA: Two hours?
MIŠA: Two hours. Like a madwoman.
TINA: You stood two hours in the middle of the street, with a rubbish bag in your hand and stared at me?
MIŠA: Well, it was all strange to me.
TINA: I was watching ants. Real live ants. They, you know, live there...behind the kiosk. Next to the school.
MIŠA: And I was, well, I was watching you...
TINA: ...You stink. You should wash yourself.
MIŠA (Gets up): You, man, are not normal.
TINA: Wait, where are you going?
MIŠA: To see where Darko is.
MIŠA: Well, no reason. It’s on my way home. So I thought...
TINA: Why would you look for him?
MIŠA: I am going to have a wash, right.
TINA: What is there to wash?
MIŠA: Mud. I stink.
Miša leaves, Tina runs after him.
Tina. Sitting and waiting. Goes to the kitchen, then returns to the room. Brings a chair, grabs the key and unlocks the basement door, descends. Dragana comes in.
DRAGANA: These people, really...I mean, they don’t know...though, I certainly knew how to pick a job.
TINA: Where’s Darko?
DRAGANA: Imagine, they call me this late... Why is, Tina, why’s the basement door open?
TINA: What were you doing at the hospital?
DRAGANA: Why is it open? Tina. The door?
TINA: I was down there. I wanted to see, Mum, there are no rats down there, there’s nothing there. Some seeds on the floor, but no trace of rats!
DRAGANA: Haven’t we...Tina, why are you doing this? Why do you...?
She goes to the door and slams it so hard it almost comes off its hinges.
Why are you doing this? Explain to me.
TINA: Mum, what were you doing at the hospital? You never go to work at this time. Miša told me that Darko went to fight again, where is he? Have they shot him, tell me?
DRAGANA: What are you making up again? I am asking you if there’s anything you don’t understand in my, I mean, am I speaking some incomprehensible language, what’s the problem? Do, I mean, do I... really, Tina, I don’t get it, how, I mean, can’t you understand when I tell you, really, I am trying, I am really trying to explain that door, Tina, it has to, it has to be closed at all times...
TINA: I know, Mum.
DRAGANA: That door has to be locked, it has to be locked all the time. Locked, it has to be locked. We have to, you and I have to be careful. Won’t we? Promise we will, that both of us will be careful, together, we’ll make sure it’s closed, locked.
TINA: I promise.
DRAGANA: I really don’t know if you understand me when I tell you, that it’s like, I told you, like a secret mission. A very important mission, a state secret.
DRAGANA: Do you understand?
DRAGANA: Yes, sweetheart?
TINA: Where is Darko?
DRAGANA: Out with his friends. Don’t worry about him, he can handle it, if anyone can, he can take care of himself.
TINA: They shot him.
DRAGANA: Haven’t we made a deal?
TINA: I know they shot him, and you’ll go away now again, and I’ll be alone again.
DRAGANA: Alright, go now, get ready for bed.
TINA: Mum, don’t lie to me. I can’t take it anymore. I am not crazy. I am not crazy!
DRAGANA: Tina, go to bed.
TINA: Where are you going?
DRAGANA: Go to bed. I have to return to work. They gave me another shift. C’mon, go to bed, I won’t be long.
TINA: Mum, don’t go, please!
DRAGANA: Tina, I wouldn’t go if I didn’t have to. Don’t make it harder...
DRAGANA: What am I going to do with you?
Tina goes to her room.
Tina. Darko comes in quietly. It’s morning.
TINA: I thought you’d been shot.
DARKO: Not sleeping again?
TINA: I was sitting, all night I stayed awake in bed. Dragana was not here, nor were you, and I thought...
DARKO: Where is she?
TINA: At the hospital. They gave her a new shift.
DARKO: Let me sit a bit, I am dead. Phew... Tina. This makes no sense. It’s not a joke. I am not a moron, nor a peasant, I said it nicely, Tina, you know what kind of people they are.
TINA: What people?
DARKO: It’s not a joke. As if nothing makes any sense, man, like in that film when the guy loses it. Alright, maybe it’s shit, but, man, you know, at least you know which is the tail and which is the head, not like this, how can one manage, I mean, how can one handle it? In a film, one knows, doesn’t one? Schwarzy can’t have a scar across his face, because Schwarzy is a good guy. Except in Terminator I, ok, but even there it’s clear, always clear, it has to be clear to everyone.
DARKO: Well, who’s the good guy and who’s the bad guy. The good guy, I mean, the good guy can’t have a scar across his face and one eye missing, with one eye and a lame dog, and the bad guy looks like some, for example, like an ok guy from the neighbourhood. I mean, how do we know who to trust? If the good guy had a scar across his face, nothing would make no sense, nothing!
TINA: What are you talking about?
DARKO: And that Jasmina, what a little...she’s a whore, you know. A real little whore. I am not saying she fucks for money, like what we mean by whore. My head is killing me.
Dragana enters the flat.
TINA: I want you to promise you won’t see Tadija again.
DARKO: You see, I didn’t have a nap this afternoon so it hurts now. I didn’t sleep at all.
TINA: Promise me.
DARKO: Ok, Tina, you are, sorry, but you are bothering me. You don’t know, I mean, you really don’t now what you are saying.
DRAGANA: Are you up?
TINA: I thought you’d been shot.
DARKO: Tina’s bothering me, Dragana, tell her to stop bothering me.
TINA: I want you to promise!
DRAGANA: Don’t start so early in the morning...
DARKO: They shat their pants! Is it Tadija’s fault they shat themselves?
Dragana goes to the kitchen.
DARKO (Whispering, so Dragana can’t hear): Tadija got shot, do you understand that? He is lying who knows where, you know, as they say, more dead than alive, hey, and that little cunt, little Jasmina says it was my fault because I brought the gun, says it was me, hey, that they shat themselves because of me, the little whore. I knew what kind of cunts they were, that’s why I brought it. Was I supposed to go empty-handed and now be lying next to Tadija?
DARKO: Don’t you give me that bullshit too.
Tina starts crying, Darko gets up and goes to the bathroom. Dragana returns from the kitchen with coffee.
DRAGANA: Why are you bothering him?
TINA: How long are you going to pretend?
DRAGANA: What are you talking about?
Tina gets up angrily and leaves the room.
Sips the coffee, goes to the bathroom and tries to open the door.
DARKO (Off): Yes?
DRAGANA: Listen, I’ve been working all night, I am dead tired. I want to brush my teeth and go to bed. C’mon, get out.
DARKO (Off): No.
DRAGANA: I am not telling you again.
DARKO (Off): Leave me alone.
DRAGANA: Darko, get out, this is the last warning. I slaved all night and now you are messing me around.
Darko comes out.
Why are you looking at me like that? What the hell is wrong with you, kids?
Enters the bathroom.
Darko looks at her, then takes the gun from his jacket and goes to the basement.
7. Basement /Park
Space 1 (basement)
Dimitrije. Darko comes down the stairs. He stops for a moment when he sees his father.
DIMITRIJE: I went on a business trip to Finland a couple of years ago, they took us all the way up to the north, supposedly because of the natural beauty...
DIMITRIJE: As if that, I mean, as if I was interested in natural beauty, but alright...and so we arrived there, at some farm, there was a pub, a bar...And everyone starts, well, they start drinking, boozing, and I went for walk and, can you imagine, I met Santa Claus.
DARKO: Santa Claus?
DIMITRIJE: An old Fin dressed in a red suit with a white fur collar. He was sitting on a log and feeding a reindeer. I sat next to him and started to talk, and it turned out that grandpa understood English, and for four hours I told him about Mum, Tina, you, my crap, hey, for four hours the man listened to my bullshit and then he took off his glove, patted my hair and gave me this...
DARKO: What is it?
Space 2 (park)
Tina arrives at the park, looks for someone.
DIMITRIJE: A badge. It says “This year I’ve been a good boy.” In Finnish.
He caresses his hair, gives him the badge and leaves the basement.
Darko remains alone, with a gun in one hand and the badge in the other.
During Tina’s monologue the light in Space 1 slowly dims. She remains alone on the stage.
TINA: Hey, where are you? Come, please, don’t be afraid!
There, I’ll sit here and I won’t look, I’ll close my eyes. Why don’t you want to play with me? Here, I’ll close my eyes.
I’ll pretend not to notice anything.
I’ll pretend not to notice anything.