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Chapter from hyper-novel "The Story of David Z."
Return of Anatoly to Russia with the box of his ashes which he asks his friend Victor to mix with the paint and paint the wall.V: Come in, sit down here....
A -- Anatoly
V -- Victor
Voice from another room (Victor's wife)
Kitchen in Moscow, Summer 2201
V: Yes, it's me. I am with a friend. (To A) Let me check with her. Smoke, smoke. I smoke in the kitchen. (Leaves)
[A takes a box from his briefcase and places it on the table. Also an envilope and the money. V returns.]
V: What is that?
A: The ashes.
V: The ashes?
A: Yes, the ashes, the letter and the money.
V: I see. That is what you wanted to talk to me about about.
A: Yes, I want you to mix it with the paint and paint the wall.
V: What wall?
A: It doesn't matter. A brick wall.
V: Any wall?
A: An old one, the one that needs a coat of paint.
V: And you brought the ashes from America?
A: Yes. In my laggage. And nobody asked anything. Well, there is more than that, Victor. Here is a letter, which explains everything and the money. I want you to cremate my body, mix the ashes with the ashes in the box and then with the paint. do you understand?
V: Cremate your body and mix the ashes. I understand.
A: The letter is my last will. If there are some questions, you show them the letter. It's in two languages. The Embassy could be interested. You know, I have to be back to Alaska, to teach in the Fall -- and I haven't said anything to them.
V: I see. Do you want anything? Coffee, tea?
A: Anything. Doesn't matter. Well, that is all. I have a note on me and when they will find the body, you get the call.
V: Do you want to have a drink?
A: Fine. If my father will get involved, you show him the letter; there is something in it for him. Make sure it's cremated, I mean, the body.
[V places the glasses and the bottle on the table, takes the letter and puts it back.]
V: To be cremated. I see. All right.
A: I fear that I can come back. Do you believe in resurrection?
V: Not really. Reincornation, maybe.
A: You see? That is what I do not want. I want to be gone. Completely.
V: I understand.
A: How did I get here in the first place? I never understood it. mix it with the red paint, or any other color, it doesn't matter.
V: And how do you want to do it?
A: I doknow. It's not important. The death is easy. The rest is the problem.
V: What's happened?
A: What do you mean?
V: Something happened to you.
A: Nothing. It's time, that's all, nothing else.
V: Do they know, your family?
A: What do they know? What can they know about me? Why should they? It's not their business. It has nothing to do with them. Go ahead, take a look. The ashes are in there.
V: That is what I do not understand...
A: Open, open it. That is why I here.
[V opens the box.]
V: I see. Where did you get it?
A: I told you, it's mine. It's my ashes.
V: I need a drink.
A: That is what I fear -- to be back. And I am back. you see. Shouldn't, but I came back for some reason. That is what I do not understand -- the reason! Well, I do not know reasons for my birth. nobody knows. Besides the stupid explainations we all have. He was right, he wasn't crazy.
A: Neitzsche. You read Neitzsche, did you?
A: The eternal return. time after time and time again.
V: Tell me, what's happened?
A: I telling you -- nothing. I died. And here I am again. That's why I came here. That's why why I came to you. somebody has to stop it.
V: But why me?
A: You are my friend. I thought about it. If you can't stop it, I don't know who can. Don't worry I have the money. It should be enough for the cremation and the paint. Mix the new ashes with the old, those in the box.
V: I am here!
A: You go to her and I will go too.
V: Wait. Who is it? The ashes?
A: I told you -- me! You don't believe me. I understand. I don't believe it myself. If you would tell me something something like that, I wouldn't believe it. But it's truth. I woke up and the ashes were everywhere. A lot of it. And I knew it was mine.
V: When did you come?
A: Today. And I called you right away. I do not want to drag it. I am tired, I am sick of this story. Look, somebody has to do it for me, the painting job, I mean. I came all the way from the States, because I thought you can understand me. You always understood me. She didn't. She only said that she did. I should know that. Ishould get it when I said that that I do not want to be burried. And the organ donation, she saw it on my driver's licence. They didn't like it, the family. Kids, I understand, but she should know me.
V: Give me a minute, I will be back.
[V leaves. A dial the phone.]
A: Hello? May I speak with Mr. Antohin, room 606. Thank you. [Drinks.] Hi, it's me. Are you ready? Yes, I am here. Yes, I told him. Just take a taxi. I want it today, understand?
[V returns. A hangs the phone.]
V: She doesn't fell well.
A: I am sorry. Listen, I arranged everything. All you have to do is to claim the bodies, cremate them and mix the ashes with the paint.
V: The bodies?
A: Yes, there is another me. He was waiting for me in the hotel. He was in Russia all this time. How did he know that I was coming back again? He doesn't know it himself. Just was sitting there waiting for me. This is the last thing I could expect. If I do not have enough to worry about. I am surprised that he never contacted you. But he is different type. A loser. An alchogolic. He was dry for two days, because he was afraid that they won't let him in the hotel's lobby. Put the tie and the white shirt.
V: Why are you here?
A: I told you. I was born here for some reason and I have to vanish here too. Don't you understand? If I had any doubts before, after I met him, I am resolved. What I'm supposed to say now?
V: Are you here by yourself? Just you?
A: Just me this time. I don't have even any laggage. One case.
V: Let me check on her, I will be back in a second.
[V leaves. A opens the box.]
V (voice): I'm coming.
A: I'm leaving. Say hello to your wife.
V (comes back): Wait. You can't leave like that.
A: I'm sorry if I cause any trouble. I wouldn't come, if I had somebody else to ask.
V: No, no, I'm sorry, she is ill. You know this women's thing.
A: I do not have a wife anymore. We are not together anymore. I guess, we never were together, not really. It's all ashes and dust. You see? [Takes some ashes from the box.] That's me. I feel like Hamlet. Or his brother. Like fourty thousand brothers. What I was waiting for?
V: Why don't you stay here? Stay.
A: No, we have to do it tonight.
A: I and him, the other me.
V: why don't we talk about it tomorrow?
A: It is tomorrow. He is on his way.
A: Me. [Smiles.] You are like her. You don't understand. I suess, you didn't read Neitzsche. I thought you could understand it. I am in control of what is about to take place. I never was. V: Look, maybe I don't understand you and I don't. There are many things I never understood in you, but I can't you walk way like this. Not like this. We need to talk.
A: How can we talk about something we don't know? I do not talk with him. I made a big mistake, Victor, I thought she understood me. What could she possible understand when I don't understand myself?
V: You stay. You will leep in the living room. You have to stay.
A: First I thought, you know the place, the sidewalk, it could be painted with those ashes. The steps of the main building of the Moscow University. I was in the tenth grade or something -- and they had a competition. Math or physics, I forgot. It was at the top floor and I looked down. Tolstoy wrote that Napoleon looked at Moscow from this spot. I don't know, I looked down. I was fifteen, I think, and I saw them, the little people bellow. Little, like me. And felt so little. You know, I rulled it out; you can't paint the steps, not those steps. Do the wall. That is why I said, any wall. I don't know why I didn't jumped then. Maybe I did. What do I know? Well, maybe I thought that I can be saved. Do you know what he said to me?
A: The other me. He said -- thank you. Yes, and I asked -- thank you for what?
V: Are you staying?
A: No. He said, thank you for giving me a chance. He is crazy. He has your number and he will call, because he is not American. He is Russian, he doesn't know what I know. I didn't give him a chance. I didn't give him anything! I jumped, that's all. And I am dead ever since.
A: I know this voice.
V: She had a miscarrage.
A: If he comes, tell him that I'll wait for him at the steps of the main building.
V: What did you to you in America?
A: You do not want to know.
V: I do.
A: You read Dostoevsky. This is the place to die and live after you die. You should know it. The new world, the other world, the world after.
V: You made it all up?
A: I gave him your address. The other, the Russian me. He should be here any minute. He doesn't talk much. It's good. I talk. When the bell rings, I leave. If you are still my friend, don't do anything besides what I asked you to do. Or do nothing. Maybe you are lucky and you won't be back. Maybe your wife really loves you. Maybe you're here for a real reason. Maybe you can unserdtand me. Be a friend. Let me go away. Help me.
[Doorbell. Blackout. The End. Victor paints the wall.]