STATION

 

 

Mr. Anatole Bilenko

38/7 Chernihivska St., Apt. No.31, Kiev 02002, Ukraine 

Tel. 517-00-86

E-mail abil@i.com.ua

 

 

Olexandr Viter

 

THE STATION

A play in two acts

 

Cast:

 

Tania

 

Olga

 

Irene

 

ACT I

 

Scene 1

 

Interior of a small provincial railroad station. Sitting on a bench in the passenger lounge is a woman (TANIA) about 35 years of age.

 

Tania: (looks at her watch). Twenty minutes left, a meerest trifle compared with eternity. (Pause). But oh how slowly these twenty minutes creep along. It seems that somewhere a vicious gnome holds time by the throat and doesn’t let it go. (Takes a look at her watch again). Nineteen minutes. Thank you, gnome, for letting one minute escape from your clutches. 

 

Another woman (OLGA), about 25 years of age and fashionably dressed, enters the railroad station

 

Olga:   (takes a look around). Whew! I made it at last. Not much of a station, I’d say. Oh well, I’ve seen something like that before, although this dump seems to beat them all. (Notices the other woman). Hail to the natives! When’s the arrival of the train?

 

Tania:  In eighteen minutes.

 

Olga:   Eighteen minutes and I’ll be on my way home for a hot bath, red wine, and a soft bed. Good Lord, how much I want to get home!

 

Tania:  Seventeen.

 

Olga:   What?

 

Tania:  I said that seventeen minutes are still left.

 

Olga:   Wonderful! By the way, does this station have a name?

 

Tania:  Probably not.

 

Olga:   What do you mean by “probably”? There has to be a name. Everything in the world has some name.

 

Tania:  It’s simply a station without a name.

 

Olga:   All right, let it be without a name. By the way, where is the ticket office? I don’t seem to see it anywhere.

 

Tania:  There’s no ticket office.

 

Olga:   Of all the places to hit the shit. No station name, not ticket office. Where am I supposed to buy a ticket to get out of this wretched backwoods?

 

Tania:  Why wretched? There’s a beautiful forest around here.

 

Olga:   Oh, I’ve had enough of that beautiful forest when I was slugging between its pine trees for four hours! I’m surely knee-deep in a thing! 

 

Tania:  You shouldn’t be in such a stew. If you want to leave so much, you’ll leave.

 

Olga:    Of course I want to leave. No doubts about that. It’s the greatest desire I have right now.

 

Tania:  We’ll see.

 

Olga:   See what? This provincial wretchedness or your fairytale forest? Oh well, there’s no use talking about it. (Pause). Oh, how I feel cold! Is there any snack bar here?

 

Tania:  No. But if you like tea, it’s in a jug kettle on the table over there.

 

Olga:    (Picks up the kettle and pours some tea into a cup). Really, it’s hot tea and smells super.

 

Tania:  Strawberries.

 

Olga:    What?

 

Tania:  It smells of strawberries. I add it to the tea for the aroma.

 

Olga:  Does it mean that you’re the boss around here? Why didn’t you say so right away? I thought you were waiting for a train just like me. 

 

Tania:  I am.

 

Olga:    And still, where can I buy a ticket?

 

Tania:  You won’t need any.

 

Olga:    How come?

 

Tania:  You’ll understand eventually.

 

Olga:   Sure, I will, when the train wheels away without me on board. Seriously, what should I do about the ticket?

 

Tania:  I told you: you won’t need any.

 

Olga:   That’s a bit thick. I have to get out of here as fast as I can. Tomorrow I’ve got a course credit test in English. Once I’m through with yet another two credit tests and an exam, I’ll be a certified specialist. I simply don’t believe I can get out of here for a song!

 

Tania:  Ten minutes.

 

Olga:    Ten what?

 

Tania:  Ten minutes left before the arrival of the train.

 

Olga:   All right, damn that ticket. I’ll come to terms with the conductor. Thank God I’ve got some money about me. Are you a cleaning woman in this place?

 

Tania:  A cleaning woman and everything else. I double as a manager and subordinate.

 

Olga:   A manager you say? Why then are you taking me in about the tickets? You can’t even tell me the name of this station.

 

Tania:  But I told you – the station doesn’t have a name. It’s simply THE STATION, a stopping place.

 

Olga:   Oh well, talking with you is about the same as preaching to the wind. I’ll go around and have a good look myself. (Walks around the railroad station). Now here’s the arrivals and departures schedule. Arrival at 17:40 p.m., departure at 17:45 p.m. No name of the station in sight. Then there’s an arrivals and departures schedule of ships. Now what the –  . Is this a railroad station or a seaport?

 

Tania:  It’s a railroad station.

 

Olga:   (reads). Arrival at 9:00 a.m., departure at 9:15 a.m. …. Now tell me what kind of a seaport can there be in this hole and in winter besides?

 

Tania:  A usual seaport, just like any, if, of course, there’ll be any passengers in winter.

 

Olga:   Are you by any chance earning anything additionally at the seaport?

 

Tania:  Yes.

 

Olga:   I see that you’re heaped high with duties around here. Good, now let’s take a look at this schedule. What, for passenger airliners? Well, I’ll be jiggered! Does it mean that you also have a local airport?   

Tania:  Yes, though a little one.

 

Olga:    And now you’ll tell me that you hold a job there, too.

 

Tania:  Yes, I do.

 

Olga:    In what capacity? Where is your boss?

 

Tania:  I told you – I’m the boss and the subordinate all wrapped into one.

 

Olga:    I see. Isn’t this place some sort of a loonybin? Looks so very much to me.

 

Tania: No need to be so angry. I told you that this is THE STATION, written with capital letters. 

 

Olga:    If it’s written in capital letters that makes my guess very close to the truth.

 

Tania:  One minute left.

 

Olga:   Thanks for reminding me. You can stay at your mysterious THE STATION, but for me it’s time to make myself scarce. (Runs out of the passenger lounge).

 

Tania:  Just let it happen today! Please, please, let it happen. There’s still ten seconds. Nothing! It didn’t happen.

Enters Olga

 

Olga:   Brr-r-r, it’s so cold out there! Is the train late or what? I’ll better stay here where it’s warm.

 

Tania:  The train won’t arrive today.

 

Olga:    Did I hear your right?

 

Tania:  Yes, the train won’t arrive.

 

Olga:    How do you know? Did you know it in advance?

 

Tania:  No, I hoped it would arrive.

 

Olga:    How d’ye like that? She hoped. So who’s the boss here then?

 

Tania:  I am.

 

Olga:    So tell me where did the train disappear?

 

Tania:  It did not arrive.

 

Olga:   That much I noticed myself! The question is why didn’t it arrive?

 

Tania:  Because you didn’t want it.

Olga:   I didn’t? What are you chattering about? Do you realize how much I have to pay for my studies? You won’t earn such money in thirty years!

 

Tania:  In real fact you didn’t want to study.

 

Olga:   That’s none of your business.

 

Tania:  Sure, it’s not, but the train didn’t arrive for you?

 

Olga:   For me? Is it supposed to be my personal train? Maybe I’m worried for no reason at all. The train might simply be late.

 

Tania:  No, it’s never late. It either arrives, or it doesn’t.

 

Olga:    Splendid! What a fix I’m in. Just why did I have to visit that idiot?

 

Tania:  What idiot?

 

Olga:  The freak who invited me to his dacha. At first everything seemed to be fine. I was treated to good food, drinks, nice music, an erotic video film … we began kissing each other and then followed what usually happens in such cases. Once we were spent, he drifted into dreamland and raised a typhoon of snoring. Much as I tried to wake him I failed.  I felt ditched and it cut me to the quick. I rushed outdoors to my car and tried to start it – no deal, the frost had chocked it off. Then I saw a road sign reading “The Station. 10 kilometers” and walked in that direction right into the forest.

 

Tania:  Why didn’t you stay at the dacha until morning? 

 

Olga:   If I did, that freak wouldn’t live to see it. I would have strangled him. Besides, I had to take a course credit test that morning.

 

Tania:  Doesn’t make much of a difference now. You’re still here.

 

Olga:  Thanks for reminding me. As the manager of this station, you owe me an explanation. What the hell is going on in this place?

 

Tania:  Nothing unusual.

 

Olga:   Where’s the train then? How will I get out of here?

 

Tania:  There’ll be no trains today. Wait for an airplane tomorrow morning.

 

Olga:   At what time?

 

Tania:  At 10.

 

Olga:   At ten, you say. My course study test is at half past eleven. The flight time is half an hour at the most. Seems I’ll make it.

Tania:  If only the airplane arrives.

 

Olga:   If what? Are you really the boss here?

 

Tania:  I am, but the arrival of the airplane doesn’t depend on me.

 

Olga:   Now that’s too much! I’m sick and tired of all this mess. First it’s that freak of a stud, and now it’s you! (Speaks under her breath). Go to hell, all of you. I’ll just walk back home along the tracks.

 

Tania:  You’ll hardly make it. It’s too cold.

 

Olga:   Thanks for the optimism. (Looks out of the window). Maybe you’re right. I’d run the risk of freezing to death on those tracks. Goodness gracious, why did I land in this dump? Do you have a telephone at least?

 

Tania:  None at all.

 

Olga:    A railroad station without a telephone? Incredible.

 

Tania:  There’s no need for it.

 

Olga:    No need for a telephone? Well, well, that’s nonsense of the highest order.

 

Scene 2

 

That instant a frightened and tearstained woman (IRENE) runs into the passenger lounge. She looks around and crumples onto a lounge bench from exhaustion.

 

Irene:  What a rat!

 

Olga:   Who’s that supposed to be?

 

Irene:  What? Oh, it’s nothing, just one of my latest problems. (Pause). Thank God I reached this place where there are people.

 

Olga:    Now don’t tell me that you’re a manager of this station as well.

 

Irene:   No. I simply… I want to get home.

 

Olga:    Unfortunately, getting home from here won’t be that easy.

 

Irene:   No tickets available?

 

Olga:   No tickets, no ticket office, and, as a matter of fact, no trains. The last hope is an airplane that’s supposed to arrive next morning.

 

Irene:  Is this an airport? 

 

Olga:  It’s not only an airport, but also a seaport. And it’s all under the management of….. What’s your name?

 

Tania:  Tania.

 

Olga:   All this is managed by this here Tania. At least that’s what she says and tries to convince everybody that it’s an unvarnished truth.

 

Tania:  Would you like some tea?

 

Irene:   Yes, if I may. 

Some minutes later Tania brings the tea.

 

Irene:   (drinks the tea) Splendid, real lime-flower tea. I don’t remember when I drank it the last time.

 

Olga:   Lime-flower tea? Let me taste it. (Tastes the tea). Tania, you poured it out of the same kettle as my tea. I saw it with my own eyes. But mine was a strawberry tea.

 

Tania:  She simply wanted lime-flower tea, so she got it. Do you want some honey besides?

 

Irene:   Oh yes.

 

Tania:  I’ll bring it right away. (Leaves the passenger lounge).

 

Irene:  Do I feel fine! It’s warm, I’m among people again, and I’ll have lime-flower tea with honey.

 

Olga:    Listen, lady, let’s have a good talk while she’s away.

 

Irene:   A talk about what?

 

Olga:   About this fishy place. What’s going on here just doesn’t make any sense.

 

Irene:   Exactly what?

 

Olga:  Everything! This here railroad station, airport and seaport managed by one person. The trains ignore all schedules. There’s no telephone. And this Tania is surely off the beam.

 

Irene:  To me she seems like a very nice woman.

 

Olga:   Nice you say? And her gibberish is nice too? As far as I can make out, she’s as much a manager as I’m a minister.

 

Irene:   A minister of what?

 

Olga:    Of everything. Never mind what. The main thing – she’s not a manager.

 

Irene:   So what is she then?

 

Olga:    A usual crackpot of the quiet variety.

 

Irene:   And what can we do about it?

Olga:    At this stage I don’t know, I really don’t know.

 

Irene:   (bursts into sobs). How can we get out of here?

 

Olga:   Stop whimpering first, and let’s set our brains to work. Getting to the next station on our own is out of the question – we’ll freeze on the way. This crazy dame is living here somehow which means she’s getting her food and clothes from somewhere. So we have to find out from her where we are and what kind of a place this is. Only then we’ll understand how to make a break for it.

 

Irene:   What if we fail to learn anything?

 

Olga:   That might be a horny dilemma. Wait a minute. I’ve got an idea. She might be lonely in this place and so she spins her funny yarns for us, her grateful listeners. Let’s reverse the situation to a point when she’ll itch to get rid of us.

 

Irene:   How?

 

Olga:   Very simply. We’ll tell her, for instance, that you broke prison camp where you did time for murder. At large now, you’re looking for a hideout. And this station is the best imaginable option.

 

Irene:   Somehow I don’t want to pull anyone’s leg.

 

Olga:   And what about wanting to stick around here God knows for what purpose? You need to understand that she won’t let us go just like that. Well, do you agree with my idea?

 

Irene:   Seems I have no other choice.

 

Enters Tania

Tania:  Here’s the honey. Buckwheat honey, the best you can have with tea.

 

Olga:    As far as I know, Irene would prefer it with something else.

 

Irene:   With what? Perhaps with coffee?

 

Olga:    No, Irene holds chifir in greater respect?

 

Tania:  A what?

 

Olga:   Chifir is an incredibly strong brew of tea that has about the same effect as pot. (Turns to Tania). It’s adored in prison camps, isn’t it?

 

Irene:   Oh yes, chifir is just the right stuff.

 

Tania:  Did you pull time in a prison camp?

 

Irene:   Yes… seems like it.

 

Olga:   (quietly, secretively) She’d be doing time to this day (whispers to Tania) hadn’t it been for a fortunate chance. She’s on the lam now. (To Irene). Right?

    

Irene:   Yes… seems like it.

 

Tania:  So you broke loose from a prison camp?

 

Irene:   Yes… seems like it.

 

Tania:  I would’ve never suspected it, judging from your looks.

 

Irene:   Outwardly I seem to be a quiet chick, but in real fact …

 

Olga:   Beware of a silent dog and still water. Let me introduce you to the notorious Irene the maniac. Have you read about her in the papers?

 

Tania:  No, never.

 

Olga:   She’s got five murders to her credit! Life imprisonment! And she’s on the wanted list of Interpol.

 

Tania:  You really did all that?

 

Irene:   Yes… seems like it.

 

Tania:  How interesting. I’ve never seen a live murderer before.

 

Olga:   (takes Tania aside). Interesting you say, eh? You’d better realize that for her killing a witness is as easy as stepping across a little puddle.

 

Tania:  I don’t understand what you mean.

 

Olga:   It’s we who are the witnesses. One corpse more or less doesn’t make any hell difference to her.

 

Tania:  Is she bent on killing us? What for?

 

Olga:   Who knows. This here is a quiet place. You see, she can’t afford having any witnesses. After she bumps us off she’ll sit it out in this station until the hue and cry peters out.

 

Tania:  (to Irene). Are you really a murderer?

 

Irene:    Sure, and a rapist besides.

 

Tania:  Staggers my imagination.

 

Olga:    Small wonder it does. First she kills and then rapes her victims!

 

Irene:  Well… not always. Mostly I like it the other way around. But sometimes after a good rape I’m not in the mood to spill blood.

Tania:  At first sight you look so quiet and modest. 

 

Irene:  I go at it just as quietly and modestly, without ruffling the calm. Noise immediately attracts crowds and creates a greater danger to be nabbed.

 

Tania:  But you look so frail. Or is it only the women you’re after?

 

Irene:  Nothing of the kind. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with my orientation, and I prefer men.

 

Olga:   She’s saying so out of modesty – it’s men, and women, and anyone else she can lay her hands on.

 

Tania:  What happens when she comes across a really strong guy?

 

Olga:    She’s a sambo freak, or what’s called….

 

Irene:   Karate… black belt.

 

Olga:    Yes, that’s it. She can break a brick with one finger.

 

Irene:   Well, one finger is an exaggeration. But with two I can do it.

 

Olga:   One or two makes no difference. The main thing is that she’s got the power – it’s under wraps, so to speak.

 

Tania:  You know what? I’ve got an idea. Stay here. We’ll be living together. This is a quiet place, way out in the backwoods. The Interpol will never reach us.

 

Irene:   Aren’t you afraid of harboring murderers? It smacks of a long stretch in a slammer.

 

Tania:  Damn it all! Well, are you staying?

 

Irene:   I don’t know…

 

Tania: That’s about the same as an agreement. This calls for a celebration. I’ll be back with some wine in a jiffy.

 

(Tania runs away)

 

Olga:    We blew it!

 

Irene:   Wasn’t it your idea of her itching to get rid of us? My foot she will. Now she won’t let us get away for sure.

 

Olga:    I had not way of knowing that she had such a twisted mentality. We’re in a pretty pickle.

 

Irene:   What do we do now?

 

Olga:   (walks up to the schedule of arrivals and departures). This schedule looks real enough to me.

 

Irene:   Does it matter whether it’s real or unreal?

 

Olga:    It means that we still have a chance to get away, if an airplane or ship arrives.

 

Irene:   So what? 

 

Olga:    Stop your so-whats! The main thing is to endure until morning, and then…

 

Tania arrives with a bottle of wine

 

Tania:  Red wine here, as sweet as honey. (Pours the wine into three glasses). Come on, let’s drink for all our dreams and wishes to come true!

 

Olga:   I, for one, have three dreams: to be rich, to have a child from a man I love, and … and…well, that’s too intimate and will hardly come true.

 

Irene:   Tell us, it’s interesting to know.

 

Olga:    No, I can’t.

 

Irene:   (enters into her imaginary role of murderer). Spill the beans or else I’ll give you a deep-six.

 

Olga:  All right, simmer down. I want to try being a man, but that will hardly be ever possible.

 

Irene:   Yes, hardly. What about the other dreams?

 

Olga:  With the money it’s a blank. It’s the same with a kid of my own. As to a man, a psychiatrist I know told me that it’s the sublimation of my utopian fantasies expressed in a pathological form.

 

Tania:  Let’s drink then for our utopian fantasies to come true.

 

Everyone drinks the wine

 

Irene:   I feel tired.

 

Tania:  I’ll make a bed for you. Have a good night’s sleep until tomorrow morning.

 

Irene:   Thanks a lot.

 

Olga:    Thanks for being considerate in our trouble.

 

Tania produces pillows and blankets from a box close by and puts them on a bench

 

Tania:  Good night.

Irene:   Good night. (Tania leaves)

 

Olga:    Irene.

 

Irene:   What’s up?

 

Olga:    If you’ll go on the rampage of raping and killing tonight, don’t disturb my sleep.

 

Irene:   All right, I won’t. Sleep well.

 

Scene 3

 

Night

Irene:   (to Olga). Get up!

 

Olga:    What’s happened? What do you want?

 

Irene:   Get up, I said!

 

Olga:    Did the airplane arrive?

 

Irene:   No, it didn’t.

 

Olga:  Why the hell are you waking me up then? (Looks at her watch). Merciful heavens! It’s only three o’clock after midnight!

 

Irene:   Here, read this. (Gives her a newspaper).

 

Olga:  At three o’clock? You must be really a maniac to be reading the press at such a time of day.

Irene:   Just read what it says.

 

Olga:   And then you’ll leave me in peace?

 

Irene:   Just read it.

 

Olga:   All right, let’s have a look. So  … Weather forecast… abundant snowfalls… Is that what excited you so much? Or didn’t you see snow in your lifetime?

 

Irene:   Read what’s printed higher up.

 

Olga:    “Chronicle of Criminal Events.”

 

Irene:   That’s what I mean. Read it.

 

Olga:   “Irene Bulakhova, the maniac murderer who’s serving a life sentence, escaped from a high security prison camp yesterday … The Interpol has been engaged in her search.”

 

Irene:   It’s about me, Irene Bulakhova!

 

Olga:    Just a minute! Does it mean that you’re the lamster?

 

Irene:   Exactly. Take a look at the picture.

 

Olga:    (takes a closer look at the page). God Almighty! It’s really you!

 

Irene:   Who else?

 

Olga:   Which means that the story I made up about you isn’t an invention at all! (Runs into a corner of the passenger lounge). Now keep away from me.

 

Irene:   Do you really believe that I’m a murderer?

 

Olga:   I don’t believe in anything, in anything at all. I’m leaving this place right now as fast as I can. I didn’t hear anything, I didn’t read anything, I didn’t see anything…

 

Irene:   Are you really afraid of me?

 

Olga:    No… not at all… I’m not afraid…I simply…

 

Irene:   All this doesn’t make any sense.

 

Olga:   Exactly. Since it doesn’t make any sense, I haven’t seen you and I haven’t heard anything about you. My imagination simply played a trick on me.

 

Irene:   Listen, I’m not a murderer!

 

Olga:  Exactly what I say – not a murderer. You did the right thing to give the slip to your jailers. Decent people shouldn’t be mixing with jailbirds.

 

Irene:  I wasn’t mixing with them. Never! I’m a hairdresser.

 

Olga:  I’ll buy that too. A decent person can always be useful in a prison camp in one way or another.

Olga tries to run out of The Station

 

Irene:   (shouts). Stay where you are!

 

Olga:    (frightened). All right, all right, I just ….

 

Irene:   Sit down!

 

Olga:    (sits down). All right, I’m sitting.

 

Irene:   Now listen and keep your mouth shut!

 

Olga:    As you say.

 

Irene:   My name is Irene Bulakhova.

 

Olga:    A nice name.

 

Irene:  Shut up! I’m a hairdresser. Never in my life have I broken the law! Now get this straight – I’ve never been in a prison camp.

 

Olga:    But you yourself said that ….

 

Irene:   This is no more than a doltish mistake.

 

Olga:    And what about the newspaper?

 

Irene:  I don’t know who fed them that gibberish. But on second thought there seems nothing so strange that such a newspaper should appear at this station.

 

Olga:   Do you want to say that it’s a fake printed by that fake of a manager? (Sweeps her eyes around the station). Seems unlikely, although in addition to an airport she also might run a print shop. So if you’re telling the truth…

 

Irene:   Of course it’s the truth.

 

Olga:    Then there’s something real behind all the weird happenings in this place.

 

Irene:   What do you mean?

 

Olga:    There must be a connection between the newspaper and The Station.

 

Enters Tania

 

Tania:  Folks, I see you’re already up. I invite you to join me.

 

Olga:    What for?

 

Tania: To admire the Aurora Biorealis, that is the Northern Lights. They say it’s an unforgettable sight. I dreamed so often of seeing it.

 

Olga:    The Northern Lights here, of all of places?

 

Tania:  Where else? Join me. Not in the mood? All right, I’ll have a look at it myself.

 

Tania leaves

 

Irene:   Did you see that? Are you still digging for an explanation about the newspaper?

 

Olga:    This joint beggars description.

 

Irene:   And what’s that to mean?

 

Olga:    Remember what she said just now about her dream to see the Northern Lights?

 

Irene:   So what?

Olga:  When you weren’t around yet she told me that the train I was expecting did not arrive because I didn’t want it to arrive.

 

Irene:   I still don’t see the connection.

 

Olga:    To tell you the truth, yesterday I really didn’t want to go through that course study test.

 

Irene:  Whatever you say it’s a disjointed explanation about the non-appearance of the train, the more so about the appearance of this fake newspaper. 

 

Olga:   Probably I’m about to say something crazy, but I’m under the strong impression that we are gradually going to crack at this station. You, for one, wanted your invention to be true, didn’t you?  

 

Irene:   Yes I did.

 

Olga:    Well, your desire came true.

 

Irene:   It’s ridiculously absurd, if you ask me.

 

Olga:   Now recall the tea you were served. It came from one and the same kettle, but your tea was different from mine. Each of us got what we wished.

 

Irene:  Still it’s absurd. Do you want to say that our desires come true at this station? No, I don’t agree with that. I’m a normal, grownup person who ceased believing in fairytales a long time ago! 

 

Olga:    But your desires are coming true.

 

Irene:   So you think that they are coming true right away?

 

Olga:    Exactly.

 

Irene:   All of them?

 

Olga:    I don’t know. Logically, all of them, at least the ones that are real.

 

Irene:   We can check that right away.

 

Olga:    How?

 

Irene:   Yesterday you said that you had three dreams. Remember?

 

Olga:    Yes, but ….

 

Irene:  I remember quite well what you said. As concerns the money and child, that’s difficult to check…

 

Olga:   I wouldn’t say so about the money – you either have it or you don’t. I practically hadn’t any…  (Looks into her handbag and sees some strange money in it). Hey, what’s that? Who put it in my bag? Was it you?

 

Irene:   What a question to ask a church mouse.

 

Olga:   This here money looks weird, with some hieroglyphs on them, and there’s a hell of a lot of it. 

 

Irene:   They are Japanese yens. 

 

Olga:    How do you know?

 

Irene:  Is that supposed to be a secret? Nowadays everyone knows what a yen looks like. But I don’t understand what makes you so sore about it. The money wasn’t stolen from but given to you.

 

Olga:   What am I supposed to do with those yens in this dump, eh? Shove them up my asshole? I can’t exchange them, buy anything in a store, put them in a bank, nothing… 

 

Irene:   You wanted the money for some reason, and you got them. Why the yens – well, that’s something you should know better than anyone else.

 

Olga:    Hey, I remember it now. I dreamed of traveling to Japan. Mind you, Japan but not some banal Italy, France or the United States.

 

Irene:   See, you’ve got the answer: your dream came true.

 

Olga:    What if that station rat shoved the money into my bag? It might as well be forged.

 

Irene:   If you don’t believe in this dream having come true, let’s check on your last dream.

 

Olga:    About what?

 

Irene:   You said that you wanted to try being a man. Does this wish still stand?

 

Olga:   Sort of. But it’s impossible, about the same as squaring the circle. You’re saying that… Hey, put the brakes on. It’s the last thing I’d want now!

 

Olga abruptly touches her body. Moments later her hands drop helplessly

 

Olga:   What a horrible stunner. Goodbye to my former self. No wonder I had such a strange feeling. Now I’m a woman only from the waist up, what’s from my waist down is the dream come true with a vengeance.

 

Irene:  What about your dream of having a child? You seemed to have wanted it so much as well.

 

Olga:   Yes, I did. Not just any child, but from a man I really would love. I haven’t seen the one I loved for about two months and will hardly see him again. We had a horrible row and parted, looks like forever.

 

Irene:   Because he jilted you in favor of another woman? 

 

Olga:   Yes … a homey type who was supposed to be good at cooking, making a cozy home, wanting a child, unlike me thinking only about my future career and exams. It would have probably made a difference if I had been pregnant at that time. He could have relented or… Wait a minute; I feel nauseated. What could it mean?

 

Irene:   Maybe you’re …

 

Olga:   If so, it’s the craziest combination. Can you image a gynecologist’s eyes popping out of their sockets at the sight of my dreams come true? He’d be begging in vain to be admitted to a loonybin, while I to a cabinet of curiosities.

 

Irene:   Now take it easy. You shouldn’t be overexcited in such a state.

 

Olga:   You can afford being an admonishing angel, although the future of the two of us is not that bright. While the prison camp is crying for you, for me it’s a cabinet of curiosities.

 

Irene:  It could be a maternity for men instead… You’d better think about something pleasant. About money, for instance.

 

Olga:    What the hell would I need it for, if I don’t even know who I am?

 

Irene:  Everyone needs money. A hermaphrodite is also a human who wants to live decently. That’ll also be true for you even if you’re an IT.  

 

Olga:    I’m not an IT!

 

Irene:   So who is that IT then?

 

Olga:    I don’t know.

 

Irene:   We can find it out.

 

Olga:    How?

 

Irene:   Very easily. If you are a man you should be behaving accordingly.

 

Olga:    In what way?

 

Irene:   As if you didn’t know how men react to women.

 

Olga:    So what do you intend to do?

 

Irene:   I’ll striptease.

 

Olga:    Go ahead.

Irene performs a striptease

 

Olga:    O-o-oh!

 

Irene:   What’s the matter?

 

Olga:    It’s so funny.

 

Irene:   What’s so funny?

 

Olga:    I’ve got an erection. I feel great. Go on dancing.

 

Irene:   No siree bob! I’m not ashamed doing it before a woman, but before a man it’s something else.

 

Olga:  Why the hell do you hold me for a man? I’ve been in that skin only for a couple of minutes. Besides, I’m probably a pregnant man! Which means that I’m a mother and a father at one and the same time.

 

Irene:   I’ve got a suggestion.

 

Olga:    To keep on dancing?

 

Irene:   Oh no. Both of us realize that all this is utter madness, don’t we?

 

Olga:    Certainly.

 

Irene:  For some reason I’m afraid of doing or saying anything. Our each step pulls us ever deeper into this madness. So let us say a prayer, hit the sack, and sleep it over. In the morning it might prove to be no more than a horrible nightmare. Agreed?

 

Olga:    You might be right. What about dancing some more? It was so cool having an erection.

 

Irene:   Stop that, lady or whatever you are, or you might get horny beyond relief.

 

Olga:   All right, all right. But it’s still so cool having that thing!

 

Fall asleep on a lounge bench. Fadeout

 

ACT II

 

Scene 4

 

Enters Tania in a swimming suit, a towel over her shoulder

 

Tania:  Time to get up, folks!

 

Olga:    What the… Where am I?

 

Tania:   Time to get up! Morning is the best time for a swim. Get up or you’ll miss the pleasure.

 

Irene:   What swim, and where?

 

Tania:  In the sea. At this time of day the water is surprisingly warm. The gulls are wheeling low above the water. In the distance the ships are bobbing up and down in the swell. It’s a wondrous sight to behold. You walk slowly into the sea, inhale its briny smell, and surrender to its soothing embrace. Do you want to miss all this delight?

 

Olga:   Cut out that lyrical crap. In the morning the sea is always cold. And what sea are you talking about if it doesn’t exist in this place? What I saw was only a stream without a name and a snow-covered forest.  

 

Irene:   Swimming in the sea in January? The weirdest suggestion I ever heard.

 

Tania:  If you want it to be in January, you’ll have it.

 

Olga:   Please stop for a while. I just remembered my wish! (Pats her body). Strange, but there’s nothing at all.

 

Tania:  Nothing what?

 

Olga:   I had it last night.

 

Tania:  What did you have?

 

Olga:    A desire that came true. It must have been in my dream.

 

Irene:   You have that thing in mind?

 

Olga:    What else? Since you also know about it, it wasn’t a dream.

 

Irene:    Must be so.

 

Tania:  What are you talking about?

 

Olga:    Oh, I was just wondering what I should put on – a swimming suit or swimming trunks?

 

Tania:  Whatever your heart desires.

 

Olga:    Now my heart desires that you drop dead.

 

Tania drops to the floor

 

Olga:    Hey, stop kidding me. I was just joking.

 

Irene touches Tania’s body

Irene:   She’s cold.

 

Olga:    Clay-cold?

Irene:   Absolutely. My congratulations, lady. Now you and I are colleagues, so to speak.

 

Olga:    But… but I didn’t even touch her so much as with a finger. 

 

Irene:   You must have scared her out of her wits – and her heart failed.

 

Olga:    What do we do now?

 

Irene:   As a pro, I’d advise to cover up your tracks.

 

Olga:    Are you serious?

 

Irene:  Serious or not, but I don’t know what to do. These puzzles make me feel pumped out. Today should have been the first day of my family life!

 

Olga:    Which means?

 

Irene:   Yesterday I should have been married.

 

Olga:    Married?

 

Irene:  Yes, it had to be a super wedding party. The bridegroom was extra class – with money, a splendid car and all the other things that make life easy. Although he was a bully and cad, I believed it to be of little importance, what with my meager income of an ordinary hairdresser.   

 

Olga:   Small wonder you’re so unusually dressed.

 

Irene:  We were going to the wedding ceremony in a car together with his friend. All the time my future husband was approving of my beauty and intelligence. At first it was nice to hear the compliments. But then he switched over to irksome details and said that my boobs were the best in the world. His friend had a ready tongue and blurted out that his girl’s boobs were much better. That triggered off a bitter argument. They were so neck-deep in it that they forgot about my existence. I held my tongue until my chosen one began pulling down my dress to prove his point. I got so mad that I slapped his face and jumped out of the moving car. I was fortunate to land in a high pile of snow. The incident got me off balance and I ran into the forest without a second thought. After I had cried my eyes out I retraced my steps only to see an empty road and a ten-dollar bill tucked under a stone, along with a note reading “Waiting for you at the wedding ceremony.” That was the last straw. I went again into the forest and hoofed it until I reached this station.  

 

Olga:   A sad story indeed. 

 

Irene:  Probably not as sad as the circumstances we’re in now. What should we do with this so-called manager? She seems to have blinked out for good. 

 

Olga:    Let’s try artificial breathing.

 

Irene:  No, that’s good for the drowned, but hardly for anyone who’s been scared out of her wits.

 

Olga:    I’ve seen a first-aid set in this place. Let me have a look. Here it is. What about analgen?

 

Irene:   No, this lady won’t have a headache anymore.

 

Olga:    Something for gastric disorders?

 

Irene:   No good.

 

Olga:    For cardiac disorders?

 

Irene:   No good as well.

 

Olga:    Against death?

 

Irene:  Against what?

 

Olga:   (reads). “Ointment against death. Apply to the skin of the deceased three times a day right after death. No side effects have been detected. Approved by the Ministry of Health.”

 

Irene:   Are you serious?

 

Olga:    Here, read it yourself.

 

Irene:   (Reads). Yes, that’s what it says. Well, if it’s approved by the Ministry of Health then…

 

Olga:    Are you sure she gave up the ghost?

 

Irene:   Hard to tell, but the ointment won’t make things worse than they are.

 

Irene and Olga apply the ointment to Tania’s skin. Tania opens her eyes and then gets to her feet

 

Tania:  Oh, what happened to me?

 

Olga:    You seemed to have died. Now you’ve risen from the dead.

 

Tania:  It happens…

 

Olga:  Do you want to say that nothing unusual occurred? That everything is all right? If so, someone of us has really a lose screw. Do you understand this?

 

Tania:  So you’re not joining me for a swim in the sea?

 

Olga:    Let your sea go to hell! I want to understand at last what’s going on here!

 

Tania:  Nothing! Absolutely nothing. We’ll, I’m off to the beach.

 

Tania leaves The Station

 

Olga:   Did you hear that? By the way, what time is it?

 

Irene:   Ten minutes to nine. Why do you ask?

 

Olga:    The ship is arriving in five minutes. Let’s hurry, maybe we can get on board in time.

 

Irene:   I’m not going anywhere.

 

Olga:    What do you mean?

 

Irene:   Just what I said.

 

Olga:    But why?

 

Irene:  Because if I return it’ll strip me of my last self-esteem. Or perhaps that creep will want me to strip to my birthday suit to prove his point again. I won’t let him and his friends derive such satisfaction.

 

Olga:    So send him to hell.

 

Irene:   That’s what I did already when I reached this station. 

 

Olga:    Do as you like, but I’m leaving.

 

Leaves at a run. Enters Tania

 

Tania:  And where is …

 

Irene:   She rushed to the ship.

 

Tania:  I wish she makes it.

 

Irene:   You want her to leave? I thought you didn’t.

 

Tania:  Oh no. I wish her success. I wish it very much.

 

Enters Olga

 

Irene:   Well?

 

Olga:    Nothing.

 

Irene:   You were late?

 

Olga:    No, the ship simply did not arrive.

 

Tania: I guess there’s nothing to be done in this case. What about a pleasure cruise on a schooner?

Olga:    What schooner are you talking about?

 

Irene:   An old schooner with snow-white sails and an old seadog for a captain.

 

Olga:  Why didn’t you tell us about the schooner before? How much would your old seadog     charge for giving us a lift to the nearest city?

 

Tania:  Nothing at all.

 

Olga:   How come?

 

Tania:  The schooner is not intended for transporting passengers but for pleasure cruises only.

 

Olga:   I can’t stand it anymore, really. This absurdity is like a sucking mire. I insist on knowing where we are and what’s going on in this place. 

 

Tania:  Are you sure you want to know it?

 

Olga:    Without a shadow of doubt.

 

Tania:  First of all you’re at The Station.

 

Olga:   That much I know? Where is The Station located?

 

Tania:  That’s what I don’t know myself. 

 

Olga:   Listen you screwball, if you’ll carry on like that I’ll… No, that won’t change anything; you’ll rise from the dead anyway.

 

Irene:   Don’t get in a flap, Olga. (Turns to Tania). Better tell us how you appeared here?

 

Tania:  Now where should I begin? Let me say it in a way you all know since childhood. Once upon a time there lived a woman. She wasn’t rich, but she wasn’t poor either. She graduated from a university, landed a job of shuffling papers from nine a.m. to six p.m., and received a tolerable salary that made life bearable…

Olga:    What about the private part of your life?

 

Tania:  I had boyfriends all right, but it didn’t lead to any marriage. Thank God I haven’t any children, because I haven’t met yet the one and only I could be love-sick with. Soon I realized that there was something wrong about a life without any bright yesterdays and bright tomorrows…

 

Olga:    At what stage did The Station come in?

 

Tania:  One fine morning a stranger phoned me and offered the job of manager at this station. I agreed in the belief that I’d start a new life, have new friends and… I couldn’t have foreseen the outcome. I arrived here exactly as you did without the slightest idea what this place was like. At first I thought it was someone’s peculiar joke, then the idea of madness came to my mind. Everything here seemed to be genuine: The Station itself, the schedules of arrivals and departures, the apartment I got along with the job, the refrigerator crammed with every kind of food I wished, and a wardrobe with clothes for every occasion. But…

 

Olga:    But what?

 

Tania: There wasn’t a single soul around. Moreover, not a single train, airplane or ship ever arrived at this destination. I got really mad and decided to leave by following the railroad tracks wherever they would lead me.

 

Irene:   Did you have your way?

 

Tania:  No. I walked and walked until I could hardly stand on my stumps. Then regret got the better of me and I wished to be back at The Station and – lo and behold! I simply walked into it without much ado.

 

Olga:    Moving around a vicious circle, didn’t you?

 

Tania:  Not at all. I just wished to be back and the next moment I was here again. That’s when I understood what The Station was all about.

 

Irene:   What exactly?

 

Tania:  A place where your dreams and desires come true, just any one that’s sitting deep inside you. You want pineapples – help yourself, you want gold – take it as much as you want.

 

Irene:   But that’s impossible. It’s nothing more than an illusion or drug addiction.

 

Tania:  Neither the one or the other. Everything here is for real, and you can have absolutely everything. There’s but one wish that doesn’t come true. It’s getting out of here.

 

Olga:    But why?

 

Tania:  Because in every one of us there lurks a little nasty worm that’s feeling cock-a-hoop with such a way of life. And you yourself don’t have the guts to say that you’d want to leave this place. A lot of people arrived here, but only a few managed to get out.

Olga:    A lot you say? Where did they all go then?

 

Tania:  To one place or another to build their own worlds and live in them, each to his own desire.

 

Irene:   But that’s great?

 

Tania:  You think so?

 

Irene:   How else? I don’t understand why it irks you.

 

Olga:    (to Tania) Aren’t you kidding us? Say that you are.

 

Tania:  Didn’t you see enough yourselves?

 

Olga:    How does it happen?

 

Tania:   I don’t know. It just happens.

 

Irene:  Let me see what I’d want now. I want… I want… (closes her eyes, then starts). Hey, what’s that? It’s so cold (pulls out a pack of ice cream from under her dress). Look, it’s ice cream. Who of you stuffed it under my dress?

 

Tania:  You did it yourself, because it was your wish.

 

Irene:   But I didn’t say anything… I didn’t even think about it…

 

Tania:  A desire is at times not what you say and even not what you think. Your desires here come true spontaneously without you mentioning them, understand? Now and then you don’t even realize it. (Takes away the ice cream and puts it aside). Say, what ice cream do you like?

 

Irene:   Strawberry ice cream. Why do you ask?

 

Tania:   (picks up the ice cream and gives it to Irene). Read what’s written on the wrapper.

 

Irene:   Strawberry ice cream.

 

Olga:   (also reads what’s on the wrapper). Fantastic, but I don’t understand why anyone would want ice cream so much in winter.

 

Tania:  It’s a normal human trait. In summer we want it to be winter, while in winter we miss ice cream.

 

Irene:  (leaves the ice cream on the bench, paces up and down along the bench deep in thought, somebody walks past her – and the ice cream disappears). Did I really want it that much? Strange … (Looks around and sees that the ice cream has disappeared). Hey, who took my ice cream? Olga, was it you? If you wanted one, you could have just wished it!

 

Olga:   No, I didn’t take it. I, for one, don’t like fruit ice cream. I prefer vanilla. Was it you who took it, Tania? (Tania smiles ironically and remains silent).

 

Irene:  It vanished just like that. Oh, now I understand. The moment I realized that I had craved such a trifle as ice cream I didn’t want it anymore.

 

Olga:    (to Tania). Did you understand anything of what she said?

 

Tania:  Of course I did. She began understanding the mechanism.

 

Irene:  Hurrah! Long live The Station (begins to run around, skips and jumps, and then rushes out of The Station). 

 

Olga:    What’s the matter with her?

 

Tania:  It’s the first phase.

 

Olga:    Is this to mean that she’s off her head? 

 

Tania:  It’s euphoria, a normal reaction of anyone during the first phase of staying at The Station.

 

Olga:    And what’s the second phase?

 

Tania:   The second phase is depression.

 

Olga:    Caused by what?

 

Tania:  It’s difficult to explain. You’ll feel it yourself soon. The first phase does not last long.

 

Olga:  Don’t see others only through your eyes. Maybe you have a shortage of fantasies, but mine are legion.

 

Tania: Fantasize then to your heart’s content. Nobody’s hindering you from devising any fantasies you want.

 

Olga:   For some reason they melt away in your presence.

 

Tania:  (ironically). Are they that intimate?

 

Olga:  That’s none of your business. (Turns sharply on her heels and leaves, returns some moments later). I’m sorry for the outburst. I simply cannot concentrate. My wishes don’t measure up to any standards, but they’re not intimate.

 

Tania:  All right, fulfill my wish then.

 

Olga:    What is it?

 

Tania:  Leave me alone. You’re pestering the life out of me. 

 

Olga:   As you wish. (Leaves. Tania is alone, she wraps her hands around her body, probably weeping quietly or swaying).

Scene 5

 

Irene runs into The Station. She wears a nice dress and hairdo (wig?), hat and jewelry, whirls around the passenger lounge, looks at herself in an imaginary mirror, while Tania watches listlessly

 

Irene:  How do you like it? It’s from Versaci. I saw something like it in a magazine. Why do you keep mum? Doesn’t it fit me?

 

Tania:  (indifferently) It does.

 

Irene:   What about the hat? Or should I take it off?

 

Tania:  Take it off if you want.

 

Irene:  (takes off the hat, but then puts it on again). The hat should go with the dress. How do you like my high-heeled pumps? They sit smugly on my feet and I could even dance in them. What about some music?

 

Tania:  Just wish and you’ll have it.

 

Irene:   Oh, I forgot. (Closes her eyes and sweet music fills the air). Do you like it?

 

Tania:  Oh yes.

Irene begins to dance to a slow rhythm

 

Irene:   Come on, join me … (Tania begins to dance. Irene stops abruptly). It’s too slow. What about making it livelier? (Irene closes her eyes again and concentrates. The music accelerates to a throbbing rhythm). Super, that’s just it! 

 

Both women continue dancing to a maddening rhythm

 until they drop onto a bench from exhaustion; the music subsides

 

Tania:  Did you like it?

 

Irene:   Immensely. I don’t remember the last time I had such fun. What about you?

 

Tania:  It was a wonderful way of shattering solitude. At first I longed for it and felt snugly comfortable being alone, but when there’s nobody around to speak to it becomes unsettling.

 

Irene:   Didn’t you have any friends?

 

Tania:  Oh yes, my colleagues at work, neighbors, friends from my school days. But they all got married, started families, some of them went abroad… Probably that’s not interesting for your. Do you really like being here?

 

Irene:   Yes, so far. Why are you asking?

 

Tania:  Judging from what I see, you behave like a child and your desires are that of a child – fancy dresses, ice cream, dancing…

 

Irene:  You see I grew up without a father, while my mother was very strict. As long as I can remember myself I suffered from tonsillitis. So ice cream was a rigid taboo. As to fancy dresses, there was never enough money. A visit to a discothèque was another taboo imposed by my mother. She believed unshakably that if I were to go to a discothèque I would be inevitably raped, killed and buried under a bush. Believe me or not, but when I worked already I still did not buy any ice cream, being afraid of inflaming my tonsils. 

 

Tania:  Doesn’t sound like a cloudless childhood. For all that, don’t you have some truly big dreams and desires?

 

Irene:  Of course I have. But for some reason I don’t see them coming true. I keep wishing, but nothing comes out of it.

 

Tania:  What is it that you wish, if it’s not a secret?

 

Irene:   There is nothing secret about it. I want to love and to be loved.

 

Tania:  It’s what everybody wishes. You’re not unique in this respect.

 

Irene:   I don’t want to be unique. I want to be happy.

 

Tania:  Loving and being happy is not always one and the same thing. Occasionally, it’s just the other way around. Besides, it’s a sheerly abstract wish. Who in particular do you want to love?

 

Irene:  Not anybody in particular, but a composite image of a man. I still have a vague idea about it.

 

Tania:  (ironically) Tall, handsome, tenderhearted, with an irresistible sex appeal? You were about to get married. Isn’t that the wish that came true?

 

Irene:   Well, marriage is one thing; love is something quite different. You don’t have to put all your eggs in one basket.

 

Tania:  So you didn’t exactly love him, did you? Money must have interested you more?

 

Irene:  He wasn’t that rich, owned an apartment, a car… A handsome man, he was pretty good in bed. I liked him to the last day, but there was no unbounded love between us… In brief, he just wasn’t one in a thousand.

 

Tania:  What then do you have by love in mind? Flowers, tender words, kisses under the stars?

 

Irene:  I have little trust in words… Flowers… To tell you the truth, I don’t like them. When presented, you rejoice for a minute or two, after which the flowers become a nuisance that in a day or two can be rectified only by dumping them in a garbage can. Neither are kisses under the stars to my liking – in winter it’s cold, in summer the mosquitoes are plaguing you… 

Tania:  What about spring, when trees and flowers are in bloom?

 

Irene:  In spring it’s always raining, especially irritating when you forget to take along an umbrella. 

 

Tania:  What an unromantic character you are! You’re certainly hard to please.

 

Irene:   I wouldn’t say so. What I like most are presents – jewelry, clothes, cosmetics…

 

Tania:  I see. Since you can have all that now on a whim, why would you need a man? Maybe your wishes don’t come true here for the simple reason that you need only presents, comfort, and the like… 

 

Irene:   (dejectedly) Do you really think so?

 

Tania:  Have you ever fallen in love? Say, at first sight.

 

Irene:   I have…

 

Tania:  How did it happen? What if you simply forgot what that feeling is like?

 

Irene:   Please don’t laugh at what you’ll hear now. Promise?

 

Tania:  I promise.

 

Irene:   I was still a schoolgirl when I saw an American movie with this Hollywood star – and I was immediately over head and ears in love with him.

 

Tania:  They are like that only in the movies, while in real life they’re drunkards, druggies and bed hoppers at best.

 

Irene:   And at worst?

 

Tania:  Gays.

 

Irene:   It was the last thing on my mind then.

 

Tania:  Didn’t you ever fall in love just like that with our men? 

 

Irene:   Never.

 

Tania:  Know what, take a look in your handbag whether everything is in place there?

 

Irene:   Are you suggesting that something in it was palmed?

 

Tania:  Quite the contrary. Just take a look. 

 

Irene:  (looks into the handbag, rummaging through it nervously; finds a letter). Strange, a letter with an address in English. It definitely isn’t mine. Did you put it here?

 

Tania:  I didn’t touch your handbag.

 

Irene:   (reads the letter to herself). Unbelievable… it’s from him, along with his photograph.

 

Tania:  What does he write?

 

Irene:  That he fell in love with me at first sight, having searched for someone like me for years. The way he wrote this letter is the most incredible thing of all. 

 

Tania:  Why?

 

Irene:   It’s written in Ukrainian. He studied it to write me this letter… now he can’t imagine his existence without me and says that his future is exclusively in my hands. I simply cannot believe it.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

 

Tania:  But it’s just what you wanted.

 

Irene:   How did you know about this letter?

 

Tania:  I didn’t know for sure. It was more of a hunch, because I experienced something similar. He wasn’t an actor but an engineer I came across on the Internet. All this does not bode a happy ending, though.

 

Irene:   Why?

 

Tania:  For this kind of love letters, photographs, fantasies and fond memories seem to be enough. What you need is someone who’ll be at your side all the time, and that might prove to be an altogether different kettle of fish. What if you get disappointed? Yours is a delusive dream that’ll lead you to this station. At least mine did. 

 

Irene:   So you want to get out of here? Is it that bad?

 

Tania: I don’t know. I’m beginning to have no dreams or wishes at all. The ones I have occasionally are somewhat petty and indistinct. You’ll feel that yourself soon.

 

Irene:  (picks up the letter again). Excuse me, but I’d like to read this letter once more. Incredible as it might be, I still like its message.

 

Tania:  I won’t disturb you. What about some tea?

 

Irene:   No, let it be wine.

 

Tania:  (opens the teakettle, smells its contents, and offers it to Irene). It’s Muscat champagne.  

 

Scene 6

 

Appears Olga in an exotic dress

 

Irene:   Wow, where did you get those far-out threads?

 

Olga:  Not threads actually, but the leather gear of an Amazon. What are you wetting your whistles with, ladies?  

 

Irene:   We decided to stir up our blood a little with wine. Want some?

 

Olga:    No, I’m loaded enough with adrenaline as it is. Time I cooled down.

 

Irene:   (picks up the teakettle) Now it’ll be mint tea. Strange, but it’s not.

 

Olga:  (takes the teakettle, smells its contents, and tastes what she had poured into a glass). Tastes like milk to me. 

-Tania:  (smells the liquid) It’s koumiss, fermented mare’s milk, a favored beverage with the nomads. Olga, what have you been doing before you showed up?

 

Olga:   Oh, I did a lot of what I never thought I’d be capable of! I parachuted, deep-dived in the sea, and tore around a field on horseback.

 

Tania:   Imagining being an Amazon?

 

Olga:    Sort of. When I was a child I liked playing an Amazon.

 

Tania:  And the Amazons adored koumiss. So crook the elbow in honor of your ancestors.

 

Olga:   (tastes the beverage and screws up her eyes from pleasure). That’s just was I lacked. What if I really was an Amazon in the past life?

 

Irene:   Which means that you were interested in men only as trophies?

 

Olga:  Oh no, the Amazons also got married, but first they had to kill at least one enemy. Nowadays it would be something like bumping off a male pig chauvinist. 

 

Irene:   Mind what you say in this place.

 

Olga:    It’s no more than a joke.

 

Tania:  You must have enjoyed yourself immensely in the meantime.

 

Olga:   Oh yes, I have a weakness for outdoor exercise. But for some reason I no longer want anything.

 

Irene:   Me too.

 

Tania:  So quickly?

 

Olga:   Maybe we simply got tired of dreaming, wishing and wanting. Don’t you think so, Irene? 

 

Irene:   I suppose everything should have a reasonable limit.

 

Tania:  Congratulations, ladies. Here comes phase two of your visit to The Station. La-la, la-la, la-la! 

 

The women sit down in a circle and spontaneously one after another strike up a mournful folk song (or something similar of the producer’s choice)

 

Olga:    Why is it that once our wishes come true, we don’t get any joy or pleasure out of them?

 

Irene:   That’s exactly how I feel now. I’m holding this letter in my hands as if it were no more than a rent bill.

 

Tania:  The explanation is simple. We appreciate things for the price we paid for them. In this place, though, you get everything for nothing. Absolutely nothing! And that doesn’t put any edge on the joy and pleasure.

 

Olga:   That can mean only one thing: however much you’ll wish to get out of here it just won’t happen.

 

Tania:  Not exactly. I saw it happen once since I’ve been here.

 

Irene:   I still don’t understand what we have to do to this end.

 

Tania:  It’s up to each to decide whether to stay or not.

 

Olga:    But judging from what I’ve seen here, we no longer belong to ourselves.

 

Tania:  Of course we don’t. 

 

Olga:    So who the hell holds the power over us all?

 

Tania:  You know the answer by now.

 

Olga:    Me?

 

Irene:  Yes, you and each of us. The Station demands from us real wishes, not cheap counterfeits to soothe our egos! When you begin realizing what your real but not illusory dreams and wishes are, it gives you the blues and the creeps. Is it that difficult to understand? The Station has enslaved us. We are its happy hostages. It gives us everything, though denying the opportunity to fight for it. It’s like a vampire that sucks out the human will and power, leaving but a nice shell that takes comfort in its own chimeras! You cannot challenge this morass, because nothing is holding you in the real world where for every wish and desire you have to surrender a little part of your own heart. At The Station you don’t need a heart at all, because nobody wants to suffer any sacrifices and pay or have his/her peace and comfort upset…

 

Olga:    How then can we get out of here?

 

Tania:  It’s simple. Just think only of those wishes and desires for which you are prepared to fight and pay the price.

 

Pause

Olga:    I want to get out of here!

 

Tania:  No, no, that’s not it. It’s but a way but not the goal. You have to know and feel something that will guide you out of here, something important, essential…

 

Olga:    When’s the train, airplane, ship or whatever arriving?

 

Tania:   In twenty minutes.

 

Olga:    What will it be?

Tania:  It should be a train. If you hope to get out, favor a wish that has a high purpose you are prepared to pursue relentlessly.

 

Everyone paces around the passenger lounge, thinking intently

 

Irene:   Nothing comes to my mind.

 

Olga:    With me it’s about the same.

 

Tania:  We’ve got little time left. The morass is already creeping up to our souls.

 

Olga:    I want a good job, a big house, a man I love, a child…

 

Tania:  Words, words, without a single truth in them!

 

Olga:    But it’s true. I really want all that.

 

Tania:  It’s no more than words.

Pause

 

Irene:   (quietly, under her breath) I don’t know… Seems I’ll never solve this puzzle… I’ll stay here. Maybe it’s not such a bad choice.

 

Tania:  Don’t give up! Every time I wait for a train or ship I try to recall something special to get out. Don’t give up!

 

Olga:    What’s that to you if one of us manages to leave?

 

Tania:  Perhaps it’ll inspire my faith in such a possibility.

 

Again everyone paces nervously around the passenger lounge. Then they stop abruptly

 

Tania:  Well?

 

Irene:   Nothing…

 

Olga:    Everything I wish is so phony… everything but this… No, I don’t know…

 

Tania:  What is it you don’t know?

 

Olga:    Some insignificant trifle just crossed my mind.

 

Tania:  Tell me about it.

 

Olga:  When I was a five-year-old child, we had an old wooden swing in our backyard. It creaked horribly and looked like a prehistoric monster. I used to swing high into the air where little wings seemed to grow out of by back, while I, like some fanciful bird, would soar over the world below and trill my cherished song. For some reason I recalled that swing now. It was more of a wish to put my child on the swing and give it those little wings. I really wished to see that swing here, but there’s none in sight.

Irene:   (runs around The Station in search of a swing). Indeed, there’s no such swing around.

 

Tania:  I think that it’s a good sign.

 

Olga:    Why?

 

Tania:  All the wishes that come true at The Station are nothing more than chimeras. Here we can have the best imaginable swings, but not a single real swing we had personally known at one time or another in our life. Couldn’t that be the whole point of our predicament?

 

Irene:   (to Olga) Wait a minute. You said that you wanted to put your child on the swing, didn’t you? But do you understand that you can’t decide everything for a child? 

 

Tania:  We must have landed in this place for a reason. A child, though, is innocent, because it comes pure into this world.

 

Irene:   And we cannot decide for it in what world it has to live.

 

Olga:   Our wishes come to an end where the wishes of others begin. So if we want something for others, we have to sacrifice something of our own…

 

Irene:   Are you really prepared to sacrifice everything you can have at The Station only for the sake of putting your child on an old swing? Is it worthwhile?

 

Olga:    Do you think that I’m that crazy?

 

Tania:  Don’t lead her thoughts astray. They might be crazy, but they are real. At times a woman does not understand the mysterious nature of her wish, but she follows it and achieves it in the end.

 

Olga:    When does the airplane arrive?

 

Tania:  You probably had the train in mind.

 

Olga:    It seems to me that it will be an airplane.

 

Tania:  Five minutes

 

Olga:    I’ll have a go at it.

 

Tania:  I wish you luck! But don’t forget that it’s only at The Station you can have everything for free, while in the world you’re headed your wishes and desires come at the highest prices.

Olga:   Can a simple swing have a price? It’s no more than a recollection of long ago when a playground swing was intended for fun and excitement.

 

Tania:  A recollection of the past, you say? Perhaps. But when it’s projected into the future it ceases to be just for fun and excitement.

 

Irene:   Three minutes… 

 

Tania:  On your marks, get set…

 

Olga:   Here I go. Until we meet again… Or not? (Leaves The Station).

 

Irene:   Will she make it?

 

Tania:  She found what’s worth paying the price.

 

Irene:   And what about us?

 

Tania:  We’ll have tea.

 

Irene:   With me it’s lime-flower tea.

 

Tania:  I’ll have black tea with lemon.

 

Pause. Drone of an airplane in the distance

 

Irene:   Do you hear that? Sounds like an airplane.

 

CURTAIN

 

Translated from the Ukrainian

by Anatole Bilenko

 

 

* * *

 

Olexandr Viter, playwright, scriptwriter, poet, actor and producer, was born on February 26, 1972 in Kiev. He graduated from the Ivan Karpenko-Kary Institute of Theatrical Art of Kiev in 1996. Since 1994 he has been collaborating as a producer and playwright with the Anatoliy Diachenko Center of Modern Experimental Dramaturgy, Benefice Theater, Ivan Franko National Theater, Suziria (Constellation) Drama School, Kiev Chamber Theater-Drama School, and theaters in Luhansk, Odessa, Dnipropetrovsk, Bila Tserkva, and Moscow, producing and stage directing over 20 plays and theatrical presentations within this period. In 2001 he was awarded the Presidential Grant for Young Artists to stage Lesia Ukrainka’s drama Advocate Martian at the Ivan Franko Theater in Kiev. In 2003-2006 he was chief producer with the Managerial Board of Art Programs of Ukraine’s National Radio Company.

As one of the founders of YIAMT (Youth Interactive Modern Theater) in 2006, he is currently its full-time producer, playwright, and instructor in dramaturgy and rhetoric. His two-act play The Station was premiered at this theater in 2006.

He won prizes at numerous Ukrainian and international theatrical festivals, e.g. first prize at the Festival of Modern Ukrainian Drama in Kiev (1999); second prize as screenplay coauthor and producer of the feature film Sentimental Hunt for the Shadow (Sentimentalne poliuvannia za tinniu, Grok Studio, Kiev, 2002) at a film festival in Minsk, Belarus (2002); second prize for the play Traces of Yesterday’s Sand (Slidy vchorashnioho pisku) at the Topical Arts Biannual Festival in Kiev (2004); first prize for the play The Station at the Creativity of the Youth – the Nation’s Treasure Competition in Kiev (2006); first prize for The Station as the best play at the Theatrical Session Festival in Dnipropetrovsk (2008).

Olexandr Viter also wrote the play The New Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh (Novi pryhody Vinni-Pukha) to the motives of A.A.Milne’s children’s classic (1996), the play The Angel that Went Mad based on Vladimir Nabokov’s novel Camera Obscura staged at the Kiev Chamber Theater (1997), the lyrics to the musical The Adventures of the Wooden Boy (Pryhody derevianoho khlopchyka) staged at the Panas Saksahansky Theater in Bila Tserkva (2002), the play How to Become a Real Hippo (Yak staty spravzhnim behemotom) staged at the KYIV Municipal Theater (2007), and the screenplay for Hostages of the Earth and the Sky, a joint Ukrainian-Iraqi Kurdish production of a 10-film TV serial (2008).  

 

 

Anatole Bilenko, born on January 16, 1939 in Kiev. In 1943-1954 resided in Germany and the US where he gained most of his secondary education. In 1967 he graduated from the Department of Translation at the Taras Shevchenko University of Kiev and embarked on the career of a professional translator in 1964. He is a member of the Ukrainian Writers Union, has to his credit over 20 books of Ukrainian, Russian and Belorussian fiction translated into English, and holds the Ivan Franko Prize for Literary Translations. His latest literary translations are featured in the Ukrainian Literature journal (a project of Prof. Maxim Tarnawsky of Toronto University, published by the Shevchenko Scientific Society in New York, N.Y., USA  [www.UkrainianLiterture.org, vol.1, vol.2]) and in The Mercurian: a Theatrical Translation Review, vol.1, No.4, 2008.

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Центр Леся Курбаса - 2017 - ГО Джойфест ©

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