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Sorry, this entry is only available in Latvian.

Trial

Sorry, this entry is only available in Latvian.

A tragicomedy in 2 acts

Translated into English by Margita Gailitis and Vija Kostoff

Cast of Characters:

Zenta – old and almost immobile
Herman – old and mobile

ACT 1.

Scene 1.

A poorly furnished room. An old radio, old TV and an old phone. An old bed. Zenta is lying on it, lounging. She too is old. Zenta suffers from varicose veins, so, even in summer she wears thick stockings. She is impatiently waiting for something. She keeps glancing at her watch. She listens to what is happening behind the dividing wall. Finally she loses patience.

ZENTA (knocking on the wall). Are you going to torment me again? Torture me once more? Again spite me? Come here! I know it’s over! What are you doing there? You’ve not fallen asleep, have you? Jesus Christ…Come on! It was over ten minutes ago…If you won’t come…!
HERMAN. Don’t turn the house upside down.
ZENTA. It’ll fall down by itself! It’s ten minutes since it ended. Damned fool!
HERMAN. Can’t I even go to the toilet any more?
ZENTA. Fine. Ok. Sit down at the foot of the bed.
HERMAN. Your bed?
ZENTA. Of course – just sit. Well!
HERMAN. Well, what?
ZENTA. Tell me!
(Herman deliberately hesitates. Zenta is burning with impatience)
ZENTA. I beg you, please tell! Hermy well…Speak for God’s sake! Tell me! Well! Well?
HERMAN. Everything’s happening…
ZENTA. Yes! But what?
HERMA. A lats for the episode…
ZENTA. If you’ll tell me – you’ll get one! When have I ever owed you anything? Bloodsucker! Don’t drag it out! Well?
HERMAN. Frederika is expecting a baby!
ZENTA . I predicted that! I sensed it! I thought so!
HERMAN. Guess whose? Three guesses.
ZENTA. It’s Fernando’s! Who else!
HERMAN. Ha! Ha! Ha!
ZENTA. Who? Surely not Rodrigues’?
HERMAN. Ha! Ha! Ha!
ZENTA. It can’t be that it’s Edmundo’s …
HERMAN. Ha! Ha! Ha! It’s Marquez Andreas’!
ZENTA. No!
HERMAN. Yes!
ZENTA. No! No! No!.
HERMAN Yes! Yes! Yes! It’s Marquez Andreas’, it’s his!
ZENTA. Who would have thought it! Marquez Andreas… But then Señor Escamilio…

HERMAN. Didn’t I tell you that Señor Escamilio shot himself last Tuesday? But last night Donna Anna…
ZENTA. No…
HERMAN. Yes!
ZENTA. Died? From a heart attack?
HERMAN. No. Lopez strangled her. While Fernandez was with Alvarez…
ZENTA. Wait a minute…Wait…Let me digest that. Let me understand…Mull it over (Takes a glass of water and adds some heart medication drops.) Holy Mother of God! But then…Lopez – how could he? How could he! Anna … who’s done so much for him… I didn’t expect that of Lopez. Not from Lopez.
HERMAN. But I did, I knew Lopez had a dark side. I felt it even then when he saved Rodriguez’ life. I sensed that he wasn’t as innocent as he pretended to be.
ZENTA. Poor Señor Escamilio … Did he deserve an end like that? Donna Anna! The dear, dear girl. Poor thing. (She sobs.)
HERMAN. Better a bitter truth than sweet lies.
ZENTA. And Eugenia? What does she say about all this?
HERMAN. She doesn’t say. She just does. Eugenia… Now, there’s a real woman! She tells Marquez Andreas that Frederica’s baby is Fernandez’, but to Fernandez, that it’s Rodriguez’… In the meantime Angelica steals Señor Escamillio’s will.
ZENTA. Angelica?
HERMAN. Yes. Yes. Angelica! And Rudolfo hides Donna Anna’s diamond bracelet, the one that Marquez Andreas gave her as a gift last year on Saint Augustus day. Do you remember?
ZENTA. How could I forget! Hides? Why?
HERMAN. That’ll become clear later. Yes But Eugenia … What a woman! Eugenia tells the police that Rinaldo has killed Donna Anna.
ZENTA. Jesus! Holy Mary! Why?
HERMAN. To save Lopez.
ZENTA. But why should she have to save Lopez?
HERMAN. Because Lopez is her lover!
ZENTA. No!
HERMAN. Yes!
ZENTA. But Lopez is with Angelica. They’re deeply in love.
HERMAN. To pull the wool over everyone’s eyes. Since last autumn Angelica has been meeting Señor Escamillio on the sly. That’s Angelica for you!
ZENTA. Bastard! You! You bastard! How long will you make me wait! When will you finally fix my TV! Life goes on. So much is happening! And all of it’s passing me by because you, you mutt, won’t fix my TV!
HERMAN. I’ll fix it!
ZENTA. When? When? You just promise – again and again!
HERMAN. What I promise I do.
ZENTA. Call a master technician if you can’t do it. Even if I have to pay my last lats for it.
HERMAN. I’ll fix it myself. A master technician, ha!
ZENTA. I didn’t expect that of Lopez. Above all, not Lopez. And in the same way you promise to fix my phone! How many years is it that the phone doesn’t work?
HERMAN. You would have been disconnected long ago anyway. Can you even afford a phone? And who would you phone? The morgue, when you’ve died?
ZENTA. I’d call the ambulance. One never knows, whose graveyard will get the call!
HERMAN. Don’t even hope! You’ll have to pay both for calling the ambulance and the graveyard. Have you got the money?
ZENTA. You suck the last santime from me. You!
HERMAN. Ingratitude is a great sin, Zenta. You abuse me like the village idiot. Just look at your needs versus mine. But our pensions – are the same.
ZENTA. Stop whining! You, a landowner, and practically in the city centre! A house, virtually in the centre! You’re rich! A property owner! A real kulak!
HERMAN. Shut up, Zenta. Where’s that lats?
ZENTA. Here! Here! That’s how all my lati spin over to you.
HERMAN. I have to pay the land tax. My brother may come any day now.
ZENTA. From where?
HERMAN. From Australia or America. Maybe from Brazil. If the Red Cross searches for someone, they find them. Sooner or later, but they find them…When my brother comes, the house has to be in some kind of order. I’m counting on every santime. I’ve got to buy firewood.  Pay for electricity. Why are you burning electricity in broad daylight?
ZENTA. How am I to know that it’s broad daylight if you’ve nailed the window shut?
HERMAN. Because they’re falling out! They need to be reframed. I’ve got to pay for garbage removal… The chimney must be swept… The fence is falling over… the garden’s a jungle…Lilacs are invading the house…
ZENTA. Don’t touch the lilacs! You mutt!
HERMAN. What! On top of it, there you go spilling water! Making the floor rot! Like a cripple! Put down that glass!
ZENTA. Ain’t ya be touchin’ the lilacs! Paws off. I tell ya, Herman, I’m warnin’ ya.
HERMAN.  I do what I want on my property. I can’t stand it when you talk that low-brow Changais’1 mumbo jumbo.
ZENTA. Holy Mother of God! I’m the one who supports you after all.  I pay rent to you! Don’t even think of smoking here! You shouldn’t burn money in cigarettes.
HERMAN. What will you do to me!? I need the rent today! I want you to pay it today! Right now. Immediately. If not – out of my house! Out with all your crap!  Right now – go!
ZENTA. Fine, smoke then. Poison yourself. Hermy, you know the pension doesn’t come till Thursday. How do you expect me to pay you today?
HERMAN. Well, what if you croak by Thursday, who’ll pay me for June? Who? In the future you’ll pay me in advance. You hear, Zenta? In the future, in advance. On Thursday you’ll pay me for both June and July.
ZENTA. But if I croak, God, have mercy, who’ll return the July rent?
HERMAN. Well then you yourself will have to carry water, firewood, go to the store yourself. (Readies to go to the store)
ZENTA. Hermy, you can see that I can’t go.
HERMAN. Keep your wallet on the ready! What did I have to buy?

ZENTA. The same as always, as always, Hermy. Just don’t forget, for the kitty – with trout! Hear? Remember – with trout! Only with trout!

Scene 2

Zenta lifts her useless legs over the edge of the bed, and with difficulty walks around the room. Zenta talks to and preoccupies herself with the cat, who is not visible to the audience.

ZENTA. Come on, Mittens, Mittens, Mittens, come on out now! You don’t have to hide any more. That rat out of hell has gone. Come, come now. My little pet can eat now… You’re real hungry, aren’t you? Starving. Wait. Wait. Eat now, eat … sweet, good kitty… Purr, purr…my fine, good kitty…Go on – purr. Eat now, eat. You don’t want it? Don’t like the one with the goose? Don’t like the chicken? Want the trout? You little spoiled tomcat… Oh, oh you sure are spoiled. I know you want trout…No trout this time. My pet must be a bit patient, it can’t be helped. You’ll have to eat the goose or the chicken. My dear, dear little kitty … how have you managed to be so sweet, so good a kitty… If you don’t want it now, then don’t eat it. You’ll eat soon enough… Did you use your litter box? You did, didn’t you, yes?  Fine kitty. If people have invented something useful these days, it’s cat litter. Light blue like the bluest sky. As fragrant as flowers. Oh, my little tiger… My leopard. Lion…Wait a minute, do lions belong to the feline family? Oh, oh how lovable you are today. Want to be patted…loved a little. Yes, yes. Scratch behind your ear, under your chin, your little tummy…Just too good, too sweet…Fur like silk…Whiskers…Oh, dear, a whisker’s fallen out…How did that happen? Where’s the whisker? Where did the whisker go? Teeth…sharp as a pike’s. White, sharp little teeth…Now, now… don’t bite, that’s a no-no…Calm down, calm down…Little paws…Nails…No, no… don’t start to kick! With your back legs yet! With your back legs! Ha! Ha! Ha! You want to fool around! Play… Enough, enough…Crazy one! It’ll end up as always – in biting and scratching. That’s from too much love, isn’t it? That’s right. From a great love… Calm down! Calm yourself… Where’s the mouse? No mouse? Well, look, look for it! Lost your mouse. No mouse …When, poor little one, did you last see your mouse? Small, soft mouse…fine-boned, bright-eyed, tail like a silk thread…
No-o…no-o… no-o little mouse…! It must be under the bed, that white store-bought mouse. God knows what rattles in its belly? Under the bed…Go on, look, have a look. O my little Mittens, my little pet! Don’t want to crawl under the bed…Don’t like the dust mites…Fine, I’ll crawl under…I’ll look …I’ll get the mouse for my kitty, my little Mittens…

Zenta gets down on all fours on the floor and searches under the bed. She gets dizzy and falls, reaches for the night table, which falls over with great noise. Herman hurries in.

Scene 3

HERMAN. Zenta! What now…What havoc are you wreaking now?
ZENTA. My deal little kitty…My dear Mittens…
HERMAN. Zenta! It’s me … Herman! What’s happened to you? How did it happen? Alright, alright everything will be alright. It’ll be fine. Did you hurt yourself?
ZENTA. The little mouse, where’s the mouse?
HERMAN. Get up. Get up. Whatever I have Zenta, I don’t have mice in my house. I’ve caught them all. Now, now, like this, like this. I already said, everything will be fine.
ZENTA. Phooey, you and that glue. You’re inhuman…
HERMAN. Glue is better than any trap. You don’t have to throw the corpse out, they devour each other. There are no mice in my house. Now, now, see. Everything will be fine. Where are your drops? See, there they are. Drink some water…
ZENTA. Empty. Again you haven’t brought it …
HERMAN. Well, then drink some milk. See it’s totally fresh. I’ll bring some water later. What I promise I do. Now drink some milk.
ZENTA. I don’t want that farm milk out of a jug. How many times have I not told you that? God knows where it comes from?
HERMAN. From a cow, Zenta. Milk comes from a cow. Have you forgotten that, living in Riga? Pretty, white milk.
ZENTA. God knows what germs are in it! I want pasteurised milk.
HERMAN. Maybe you want bird’s milk? The pasteurised is almost twice as expensive!
ZENTA. This one sours already the second day.
HERMAN. Let it get sour. You can make cottage cheese from it. Finicky are we?
ZENTA. I want what I pay for! I pay seven percent to you of the price of all purchases you bring me.
HERMAN. I carry what I can, Starting tomorrow you’ll pay me ten percent for everything I bring.
ZENTA. What? Ten percent! Have you lost your mind?
HERMAN. Do you want me to play your servant for your pretty eyes alone? Go, get me this! Get me that! Not this! This isn’t good, that isn’t good! Ten percent! Amen!
ZENTA. It’s like some Catholic church! Jesus, forgive me, me a poor sinner! A tenth! You’re pulling my eyes out of my head!
HERMAN. It’s a wonder that I haven’t become rich from your percentages. What’s to be made from these purchases? Santimes! Do you yourself eat anything? All of it is for the cat! What do I get out of it? But I still have to pay the land tax.
ZENTA. (sorting through the groceries) Why isn’t there cat food with trout? Did I not clearly say that you have to get the trout ones?
HERMAN. Well, there wasn’t any, there was none with trout! There was goose, chicken, veal, wild game, turkey. With everything else but trout. Neither at the store nor in the market.
ZENTA Aren’t there any other stores? All those markets and parquets…Could you not have gone into another store?

HERMAN. I’m not going to roam over half the world for the sake of a cat! Next time pay for a taxi for me! Everyone’s crazy for the trout! What about herring eaters? Cheap and good enough for pensioners? Trout! That’s all you hear! How cats survived before, I really don’t understand!
ZENTA. Cats are a hundred times better than humans.
HERMAN. Cats! Killers! Animals of prey! Catching birds…
ZENTA. And you don’t catch anything?
HERMAN. Me?
ZENTA. Yes, you! You do catch! Catching catch! In the chicken store! Is a chicken not a bird? Tell me Herman, have cats ever started a world war?
HERMAN. Go on you crazy old hag!
ZENTA. Or revolutions? Privatisation? Land reforms?
HERMAN. I have to go and shore up the fence.
ZENTA. Wait. Wait a minute! How much did you spend? Show me the receipts!
HERMAN. Does anyone give receipts at the market? Soon you’ll be asking me to give you a daily report!
ZENTA. I’ve noted down every santime. Sometimes you con me out of fifty santimes! Thief!
HERMAN. Call the police! Take me to court! Police! Police!
ZENTA. (sobs) Mittens, Mittens! You’re going to scare my kitty!
HERMAN. Mittens, Mittens!
ZENTA. Quiet! You’ll kill him with your screaming.
HERMAN. I’ve been waiting for that for a long time now. Hoping for it! H-o-p-ing! I could strangle him, with my bare hands strangle him! Skin him and throw his meat in a pot!
ZENTA. Herman!
HERMAN. Well?
ZENTA. Come closer…
HERMAN. Well?
ZENTA. Come, come here…
HERMAN. What is it?
ZENTA. Hermy, come here. A bit more…
HERMAN. Zenta?
ZENTA. Just a bit closer! (Hits him.) Have this! And this! I hope you die! I hope you croak! May your soul perish! If you ever do anything to my Mittens… I’ll…
HERMAN. Crazy old hag! Ha! Ha! Ha! The truth is that a mad Changalis is worse than a cannon!  (Tries to calm down Zenta)
ZENTA. If you lay so much as a finger on my kitty…
HERMAN. What could you do to me, you old turnip! (exits)

Scene 4

ZENTA. Mittens! You can come out again! Don’t hide. Frightened are you? Don’t tremble, my poor little one…The milk is fresh…No trout. Forgive me my pet.  Come on!

Herman is heard coming back.

ZENTA. Run! Hide! He’s coming back! That monster’s coming back. Hide! Run away!

Herman enters.

HERMAN. You’ve scratched me. I need to disinfect the wound. See the blood.
ZENTA. There’s some hydrogen peroxide in the buffet.
HERMAN. My heart too is bleeding.
ZENTA. There should be a band-aid there.
HERMAN. Nothing more?
ZENTA. What else do you want?
HERMAN. Certainly not hydrogen peroxide! There used to be a whole battery of … Cognacs, armagnacs, vodkas here… And those DDR – East German  liquors were here once…
ZENTA. Were. Yes, were! Also Adam and Eve were once in Paradise.
HERMAN. Zenta, haven’t you really got anything for a man with wrecked nerves and a bleeding heart? (Pulls a mickey out from his inside pocket.) This will have to do.
ZENTA. What is it?
HERMAN. Kvass it is.
ZENTA. Kvass, my foot! It’s hooch, rot gut what else.
HERMAN. But still cheap. Fifty santimes.
ZENTA. Those are the fifty santimes that you con out of me each time.
HERMAN. Listen Zenta, about that paradise…
ZENTA. What paradise?
HERMAN. The one you just mentioned.
ZENTA. Don’t ya dream o’ it. Don’t ya even think o’ it! You won’t be accepted there. They won’t let you in.
HERMAN. What if I stopped smoking/ Don’t laugh. Smoking is supposed to be the greatest sin these days. You can steal and rob, and not pay taxes, and – that’s nothing. But if you light up in a no smoking place…
ZENTA. Mine?!
HERMAN. I’m talking in general. If you light up in a place that forbids it – they jump on you!
ZENTA. This is also a no-smoking area.
(Appearing not to have heard, Herman lights up a cigarette and sips from the bottle)
HERMAN. What do you think? What counts in it?
ZENTA. Counts where?
HERMAN. In those paradise accounts. What goes on your record? Do years in labour camps count? And the Russian occupation – does that count?
ZENTA. How should I know?
HERMAN. If they also consider the years of occupation…
ZENTA. Who are they?

HERMAN. Then it’s not fair. Those, you understand Zenta, are circumstances beyond one’s control. If they count the years of occupation it’s not fair.
ZENTA. Just drink some more of that hooch…
HERMAN. Y’know Zenta I think more and more that paradise must be as empty as if it had been swept out. Since Adam and Eve. And y’know I imagine paradise has probably become a desert. If there’s no one there, who waters the trees and cuts the grass. You have to look after a garden after all. Would the Garden of Eden be an exception? No, that lilac must be cut down! A garden must be cared for!
ZENTA. You won’t touch the lilac! Don’t get drunk, Herman, please…
HERMAN. Paradise has probably become an ecological catastrophe long ago, but we still dream – paradise, paradise…
ZENTA. I’m up to here with your drunken blabber! That’s it! No drinking any more! Otherwise you won’t be able to watch the serial! You need a clear head for that. I’m so worried about Alvarez! He’s in great danger! Enough!
HERMAN. Alvarez is in no danger.
ZENTA. How do you know that?
HERMAN. I know.
ZENTA. When will you fix my TV.
HERMAN. It looks to me that there’s a small part missing. I’ll get it. I’ll fix that TV for you. What I promise I do. But it’ll cost you five lats. Count on that. I have to pay the land tax. My brother may arrive any day now. Everything must be in order.
ZENTA. Oh, my God…I have to feed my kitty. I have to buy vitamins. His whiskers are starting to fall out. I have to pay for a rabies shot.
HERMAN. That’s money down the drain! Why does he need a rabies shot if he only hangs around the house? Zenta?
ZENTA. Yes?
HERMAN. You won’t bite him, will you? Ha! Ha! Ha!
ZENTA. Idiot! A kitty must be properly cared for. He’s a living being. See – his vaccination record. Have you got one? No. And you won’t have. But my kitty has one!
HERMAN. The cat’s everything for you Zenta. But I too am a human being.
ZENTA. That’s the trouble, that you’re a human. Cats are a hundred times better than humans. Do cats smoke? Do cats drink booze?
HERMAN. I could stop.
ZENTA. Go on, get out! Go to your own room!
HERMAN. I could be your cat. Zenta, let me be a cat. Your cat…Zenta…
ZENTA. Mittens, Mittens…
HERMAN. Call me that. Call me!
ZENTA. You’re drunk…
HERMAN. Mittens, Mittens …You used to call me that once.
ZENTA. Never!
HERMAN. You’ve forgotten. You did call me that. Mittens, Mittens…
ZENTA. Oh, my God! You’ve got to go. It’ll start up again! Get up off your butt. Go and watch! And come and recount it for me! Flora would be a fool if she…

HERMAN. What?
ZENTA. Flora would be an absolute fool to get involved with Rinaldo. Alvarez is altogether a different thing! Tonight it’ll be decided! Hermy, go on! Otherwise you’ll miss the beginning.
HERMAN. Flora is a real slut!
ZENTA. Flora is a decent girl!
HERMAN. An absolute slut!
ZENTA. What are you talking about! Flora! Pure, fresh…
HERMAN. The ultimate slut!
ZENTA. Ok. Ok. Fine. Only go, I beg you, and watch! You can always use another lats.
HERMAN. I have to suffer all this for a lats. For a solitary lats.

(Herman exits.)

ZENTA. He’s put on his earphones, the devil, so I won’t hear. I’m not even allowed to hear! Mittens! Mittens! Where are you my pet? Come to me. Good kitty, dear kitty…

 

Scene 5

Herman, furious, rushes into Zenta’s room holding a flagpole.

HERMAN. Now you’ll get it! Why didn’t you tell me that we had to hang out flags today?
ZENTA. Today?
HERMAN. Yes, yes, today! All you do is sleep like a cog in a wheel for days on end! You could at least watch out for this!
ZENTA. Today isn’t the 18th of November – Independence Day nor the fourth of May. Neither Midsummer’s Eve nor Christmas!
HERMAN. Nothing needs to be hung on Midsummer’s Eve or Christmas!
ZENTA. And today you have to hang a flag? Maybe half-mast for mourning?
HERMAN. Why for mourning? The president has arrived.
ZENTA. What president?
HERMAN. Maybe a king. Some Big Cheese. Now I’ve got to pay a fine! Ten lats! It’s your fault! Ten lats! As much as I’ve saved over the month. I now have to give it away!
ZENTA. Ten lats for not hanging out a flag?
HERMAN. Yes, yes! And you just sleep here! Not knowing whether it’s morning or night.
ZENTA. If I had any say I’d prohibit by law hanging flags from such shacks as ours! I’d impose fines for hanging them not for not hanging!
HERMAN. In the first place it’s not a shack, it’s a house. Secondly not ours but mine! Only mine! And half of it will belong to my brother when he comes. My brother and I were born in this house and grew up here! Our granddad has earned it through blood sweat and tears! As a freedom fighter.
ZENTA. How could I have known that?
HERMAN. Aha, you didn’t know that?
ZENTA.I was talking about hanging the flag out.

HERMAN. You know nothing, stupid goose.
ZENTA. Fix my TV then I’ll know everything!
HERMAN. You’d just stare at serials! I have to pay ten lats! You’re going to pay them! You! Give me ten lats!
ZENTA. I don’t have it.
HERMAN. Ah, you don’t? (He turns the bed upside down with Zenta in it and starts to search.) And what’s this?
ZENTA. Give it back! Thief!
HERMAN. There’s all of fifty here! You swindler! She doesn’t have any money! Miserly witch!
ZENTA. What are you doing?
HERMAN. I’m trying to figure out if you’re worth more to me dead or alive. There’s the rent, percentages…if alive. But the anatomicum – the dissecting theatre would pay me …I’ll have to check my papers, how much exactly it was…
ZENTA. Herman… What are you talking about? What papers?
HERMAN. I signed a contract giving the right to use your body in medical experiments after death. That’s in fashion now.
ZENTA. After whose death?
HERMAN. After yours, of course.
ZENTA. How could you sign such a contract without me? Virgin Mary, forgive such sinful talk, please forgive…
HERMAN. I’ve got all my ducks in a row Zenta. I’ve only got to add things up.
ZENTA. You’re not human! If this is true! No, you’re blabbering your usual nonsense. Idiotic jokes! Give it to me…give back my money! (Sobs.) Give it to me! I have to buy vitamins for my kitty… I have to pay for a shot…Soon I’ll need new litter…
HERMAN. Vitamins. Shot. Litter. For the kitty?
ZENTA. Yes, yes…
HERMAN. Where is that cat? Could you not for once show him to me? Your beloved kitty. I want to see him. Where is he?
ZENTA. He’s hiding.
HERMAN. Call him.
ZENTA. He won’t come.
HERMAN. Call him here.
ZENTA. He’s afraid of you. Raving lunatic!
HERMAN. Get that cat over here!
ZENTA. What are you going to do?
HERMAN. I want to look at him.
ZENTA. There’s not much to see. A cat like a cat. A striped tabby.
HERMAN. I want to see those stripes.
ZENTA. Hermy, leave off.  For God’s sake, let him be. Take those lats…Take them. Only leave off. You were right about Flora. Flora is a true blue slut…I just didn’t know it …Who would have thought it if even Ricardo didn’t realize it. Neither Ricardo nor Marquez Andreas, not even Eugenia… You’re right Hermy, Eugenia – that’s a real woman…
HERMAN. Be quiet, or else I’ll…
ZENTA. What – you?
HERMAN. I’ve figured it out.

ZENTA. Hermy, be sensible. Who’s going to pay rent to you? Who’ll give you seven, no, ten percent of all purchases made? A lats for each serial episode? For each step you take…After all, I’m your income source. Your milking cow I am!
HERMAN. What cow! Don’t be so conceited! You don’t even make a decent goat! But right now the discussion is about cats, not about cows or goats! About cats! Where is he?
ZENTA. Maybe he’s run outside.
HERMAN. Through what?
ZENTA. I don’t know. If a cat doesn’t want to be seen, you won’t see him. Hermy, I figured out that I could give you another five lats. From the so-called savings put aside for emergencies. Take it. But you should know – that’s the last of it. Take it. You’ve got to pay the land tax after all.
HERMAN. Fine. Fine. I won’t refuse…Zenta?
ZENTA. Yes, Hermy?
HERMAN. Call the cat!
ZENTA. Mittens! Mittens! What can I do if he won’t come? That’s what cats are like… Even circus trainers can’t manage them.
HERMAN. I’ll manage him. Where is he?
ZENTA. Maybe behind the buffet, maybe somewhere else. Cats were gods in Egypt, did you know that Hermy?
HERMAN. I want to see that god.
ZENTA. Mittens, Mittens! Don’t take him away from me… Leave me my kitty… Please, I beg you – I don’t have anyone else in this world … No-one else. Please, please…I love him.
HERMAN. Where is he?
ZENTA. Don’t take my kitty from me!
HERMAN. You don’t even have a cat. And never have had one!
ZENTA. Haven’t you yourself been bringing food for my kitty?
HERMAN. You yourself devour it! You! With trout – that’s the one that you like the best! Phooey! Sunk so low as to eat cat food! There’s not such a famine yet. Besides it’s expensive.
ZENTA. Don’t you yourself bring me kitty litter for my cat?
HERMAN. Look, there’s the litter. As it was when I brought it from the store, just the same. No one has shit in it! Nor peed in it, no – no one. Never. Clean, soft litter…
ZENTA. Because I clean it out! Change it all the time! That’s why my kitty has clean litter! That’s why!
HERMAN. If only my land was like this kitty litter. Soil it and throw it out. And buy another lot at the store. But no. The earth is not like kitty litter. You can contaminate it but can’t throw it out. Zenta, you have to put an end to it for once.
ZENTA. Don’t meddle in my life! Our marriage was terminated – What year was it that we got our divorce?
HERMAN. We haven’t been separated even a day. You wouldn’t leave! You couldn’t be chased away by force. Why didn’t you leave?
ZENTA. I’m registered here.
HERMAN. The registration has been annulled. I can put you out on the street within 24 hours. When my brother comes, where will he live? This room must be vacated!
ZENTA. Where will he come from, I ask you?

HERMAN. Strangers have no business knowing this! If the cat is still here tomorrow, Zenta…I give you the opportunity to get rid of him yourself.
ZENTA. How, Hermy? How?
HERMAN. I don’t care how – squash it, hang it, strangle it or drown it! If the cat is still here tomorrow, I’ll have you … do you believe me? No, Zenta? I’ll do you in … with this very flag pole… Understand? Off  to the dissecting theatre. I’ll have to look at my papers to see how much I will in fact get for you.
Scene 6.

Zenta still in her room. Herman enters.

HERMAN. Do you not want to hear the news?
ZENTA. What news can there be?
HERMAN. It’s fine weather outside. A south-easterly wind… The atmospheric front has moved to the north…
ZENTA. I don’t care. Let it move.
HERMAN. Zenta! Eugenia has been freed!
ZENTA. What?
HERMAN. Now that’s a woman!
ZENTA. Wait a minute, what time is it?
HERMAN. After five.
ZENTA. But it starts at six thirty pm. How do you know that Eugenia has been freed?
HERMAN. Today it was broadcast sooner.
ZENTA. Sooner? How so? For years it’s been 6:30…
HERMAN. I repeat – today it was earlier.
ZENTA. How can that be? What is it today? Judgment day or what that it’s broadcast earlier?
HERMAN. Earlier, and that’s all. Don’t you want to know what happened?
ZENTA. Oh my God, why not! Why wouldn’t I want to? Tell me Herman, do tell. Is Eugenia out of prison yet? How did she get out?
HERMAN. Now that’s a woman!
ZENTA. She’s escaped?
HERMAN. She’s had her bail paid … Someone has paid the bail for her!
ZENTA. You don’t say! Who’s paid for her?
HERMAN. Who DO YOU THINK?
ZENTA. I can’t even fathom… She’s pissed everybody off. Frederica certainly not… Marquez Andreas – no. She told Fernandez that Fernandez’ child is Rodriguez’, but to Rodriquez she said it was Fernandez’… They won’t put up bail. If Señor Escamilio were still alive, I would say it was him!
HERMAN. But he can’t be the one, because you know he shot himself to death.
ZENTA. Yes. But who then?

HERMAN. Think Zenta, think!
ZENTA. Lopez!
HERMAN. No, no. Lopez has fire up his ass. Police at his tail. He’s flown the coop with Angelica.
ZENTA. How? With Angelica? Angelica was only there to pull wool over everyone’s eyes and secretly she was seeing Señor Escamilio.
HERMAN. When Escamilio was alive. Now it’s something totally different.
ZENTA. Who could have put up bail for Eugenia? They had to be totally insane. Hermy, I can’t for the life of me think who. Don’t torture me.
HERMAN. Donna Anna!
ZENTA. You don’t say! Jesus, Madonna take pity on me! Really! Donna Anna was strangled two days ago! Poor thing! Dear, good Donna Anna! Herman, either you’re really messing something up, or you’re trying to bait me again.
HERMAN. Zenta I’m telling you like it is. My brother also was reported as being dead. But he was found.
ZENTA. What?
HERMAN. Yes. Peteris Liepins lives in Cleveland. That’s in America. Understand? My brother is in America.
ZENTA. But Donna Anna? Has she risen from her grave?
HERMAN. No, because she’s never been in a grave! The same as my brother…
ZENTA, Hermy, don’t confuse your brother with this. As it is I don’t understand it. Lopez did strangle her, didn’t he?
HERMAN. My brother?
ZENTA. Jesus Christ, Donna Anna!
HERMAN. It turns out that it was only for show. Understand? Lopez pretended that he was strangling her and Anna pretended that she was strangled!
ZENTA. Oh, my God!
HERMAN. That’s how it is. And you know my brother…
ZENTA. And then? What happened then?
HERMAN. The rest will be tomorrow. I told you – Eugenia – what a woman! And it turns out – she’s also Donna Anna’s bastard daughter!
ZENTA. No!
HERMAN. Yes!
ZENTA. Let me not hear one bad word about Donna Anna! Don’t you dare tarnish the only decent person!
HERMAN. What, me? But if you don’t want to hear the truth…
ZENTA. Whose then, Jesus Christ, is Donna Anna’s … that child  – whose…that damned Eugenia?
HERMAN. That will be in the next episode. You have to live until then. But now you understand Zenta … that my brother has been found … This house, this room … you must leave. My brother’s no loser. All of them in America are rich as hell.
ZENTA. Who told you that the brother has been found?
HERMAN. Yes, Peteris Liepins. The Red Cross said so.
ZENTA. How do you know that it’s him?

HERMAN. Peteris Liepins, son of Janis. Born in Riga. Everything matches I have the address. I’m going to write to him to come home. I’ve not suffered through all this regarding the house for nothing. Regarding the land. My brother has money. In America everyone has money. We have to start with the roof! Then the windows, the doors… Maybe my brother and I will build a new house? Across from here. This one can serve as a barn, a shed or a garage. Did you know that everyone in America has cars? My brother will have to keep his car somewhere! You know where we’ll drive to? To “Mols”.
ZENTA. What seashore is that?
HERMAN. What seashore? That’s a shopping plaza! Gigantic, like they have in America. So my brother can see that we here aren’t paupers. And then we’ll just shop till we drop! Everything! I’ll go through the shelves and fill my cart. When Petey was a kid he really loved raisins. We’ll buy raisins – as much as we can stuff ourselves with! But for me … I want to try everything. A bit of everything. I’ll buy caviar…
ZENTA. Haven’t you eaten enough of it to make yourself sick? Didn’t you once eat caviar more than you eat porridge today?
HERMAN. Yes, but now for more than twelve years I haven’t seen either black or red roe caviar.
ZENTA. You liked the taste of the red better. We used to live like we were joined at the hip, like a hand in a glove then. Wasn’t that so, Mittens
HERMAN. What is that cat still here?
ZENTA. No, no. There’s no cat, I no longer have my kitten.
HERMAN. That’s good. You’ve come to your senses. You’d almost lost your mind with that cat. Zenta, when my brother arrives and we’ve built a new house, maybe … I think, my brother won’t object … Maybe you’ll be able to come back. But for now – you’ll have to leave. Are you even listening to what I’m saying?  My brother and I will start a new life! Do you understand? You’ve attached yourself to me like a bloodsucker! Was that the postman?

He hurries out. Yes, it was the postman. Herman opens an envelope he has received.
ZENTA. Dear God … What now?
HERMAN. …in ten days … if not, “ eviction from the premises without right to contest and without being assigned another residential space.”…
ZENTA. What must be done in ten days time?
HERMAN. The land tax must be paid.
End of First Act

ACT 2

Scene 1
As before, Zenta’s room. Herman enters.

HERMAN. Zenta I need money!
ZENTA. Don’t look for it here!
HERMAN. Maybe you’ve got some stashed away somewhere. In a sock?
ZENTA. If you can find a sock you’re welcome to it. The only socks I have I’m wearing.
HERMAN. Zenta I need money!
ZENTA. That’s big news.
HERMAN. Lend me some!
ZENTA. Would you give a sausage to a mutt? A mutt might even give it back… I don’t have any!
HERMAN. What else could be sold?
ZENTA.. The soul to the devil!
HERMAN. Zenta, I treat you humanely, but you …If I don’t pay within ten days…
ZENTA. The eternal hue and cry! What could they do to an old fool like you?
HERMAN. “Expropriation of land and property without right to contest”… Without right to contest!
ZENTA. At least good that it’s without contest.
HERMAN. Understand? Understand? You do understand, you old boot? You understand well enough! It means – they take away my land and house! Everything!
ZENTA. That can’t be.
HERMAN. Yes it can.
ZENTA. Your land. Your house. Who can take it away from you?
HERMAN. One can tell it to you from one end or the other in vain. Who? Who? The government!
ZENTA. This, our own government?
HERMAN. Who else?
ZENTA. But this government was the one that gave you the land. What the previous one had taken away this one gave back. Lawfully and rightfully. They’re now going to take it away? That can’t be.
HERMAN. The land tax needs to be paid.
ZENTA. Can one pay it from a pension? That’s the same as wanting a rooster to lay eggs. How can you afford it?
HERMAN. Ask that of the government.
ZENTA. Dear Government! Where can Herman get the money? – Let him go and kill some old woman! But, dear government, what’s to be had from one old woman – twenty santimes! – Let him kill five old women, and look – he’s got a lats! Not only does Herman get his money but we get rid of old women. And don’t think that the government isn’t forthcoming. Do you know Zenta that we’ve passed a new law? – Really? – Yes! Pensioners from this day forward are allowed to cross the street on red lights! – See, what a nice chat I had with the government.
HERMAN. Stop putting down the government! It’s clear that you liked the old rag better … the Red rag …
ZENTA. Hermy, for this house, this land your father and mother were tortured to death in Siberia…
HERMAN. Who betrayed us? You!
ZENTA. What are you saying!
HERMAN. You damned Young Communist League member!
ZENTA. You were on the list, what did I…
HERMAN. You! You made them list us! We weren’t on that list! Your lover, that whorish butcher of a Chekist, that KGB Commissar listed us! With his own hand! I know it all! You wanted this house! You wanted this land! You also got it! You and that whorish Chekist! Don’t use my father’s name in vain! Don’t use my mother’s name! Don’t talk about Siberia! You hoped that I too would not return! But I came back.  And I got my land back! My house back! And I also got you back! And look how your Chekist vanished! As if he’d fallen in a well! And I got you back! You barren cow! You couldn’t bear me a child! A son! At the least a daughter…We’d have grandkids, Zenta, grandkids. Imagine, how we’d live…Kids, grandkids…How all of us would live here! On our own land, our own house…I’m going to sell that land. Grandad’s blood…Mother’s and father’s sweat … I’ll sell it. For a big sum. I’ll buy an apartment in the Old Towne of Riga. On Auseklis Street, no Pumpura Street. I’ll put in an ad.
ZENTA. Herman, you’re not going to do that. Do you really think I don’t know what happened to my Commissar?
HERMAN. The militia was looking for him.
ZENTA. And why didn’t they find him?
HERMAN. How should I know?
ZENTA. Yes, how should you know if I haven’t told you Hermy?
HERMAN. What?
ZENTA. Where my Commissar is buried.
HERMAN. Where?
ZENTA. In the garden under the lilac bush. That’s where. Do you think that bush would grow so well by itself? Or bloom so beautifully? Would I have cared so and watered that bush while I still was able to do so? How fragrant it was!
HERMAN. What are you trying to tell me Zenta?
ZENTA. That when you sell the land, new owners will come.
HERMAN. How else…
ZENTA. That the new owners will want to make a new garden. They’ll cut down the old bushes and plant new ones. They’ll dig up the soil…and find my Commissar. They’ll find him and will ask – how did he happen to get here?
HERMAN. So what?
ZENTA. They’ll question you…
HERMAN. I know nothing. How did he get under the lilac bush?
ZENTA. They’ll question me…
HERMAN. And?
ZENTA. And I’ll tell all.
HERMAN. How did he get under the lilac bush? On my land! My territory! When I …
ZENTA. Yes, Hermy, you hung him in the woods like a cat. But I dragged him home. Gave him a proper burial.
HERMAN. I’m surprised you didn’t erect a monument!

ZENTA. I’m his gravestone.
HERMAN. Who’d believe you? Maybe he hung himself.
ZENTA. No, no Hermy, you’re the one who did it.
HERMAN. You have no proof.
ZENTA. When they dig him up, there’ll be proof. For sure. That’s been thought of. The proof’s been arranged; it only needs to be dug up. Believe me, there’s proof.
HERMAN. I believe you. I do believe. I know you. Why didn’t you turn me in?
ZENTA. I don’t like to repeat myself.
HERMAN. So you really did love me? Tell me. Just once. You’ve never said it to me. Tell me – even if it has to be said in the past tense … I loved you, Mittens…
ZENTA. I despised you! You wrecked my life! Murderer! I despise you! In the present tense! I would have had a baby with the Commissar …
HERMAN. Zenta, Zenta you could have had the baby. Wouldn’t we both have raised him…What did you do with him?
ZENTA. Don’t crawl into my soul! Don’t tamper with my soul! Don’t tamper! Why do I love my kitty so? Because cats don’t tamper with a soul!
HERMAN. Why have you stayed with me?
ZENTA. With you? Never with you! I stayed with my Commissar. With the house and the land! This was my house! It was my land! Almost in the centre. Riga! Riga! What land! But land must be worked –loosened and turned, raked and dug up. It requires a man’s strength.
HERMAN. And that damn Chekist had that, did he?
ZENTA. The Commissar had all a man should have. Not like you.
HERMAN. It’s nothing of course that he shot people…
ZENTA. Ah, and who shot his father who was a partorg – the Communist Party Whip in Latgale? Were they not people? And you, who hung my Commissar? Who were you?
HERMAN. Zenta when I returned, I slunk along the fence… I saw how he was digging up my grandfather’s land, how he watered the lawn, ruined my mother’s roses, slept in my bed and screwed my girl…
ZENTA. Never mind, soon you’ll be able to slink along the fence again … Let them take it from you! What you wanted you got!
HEERMAN. Sleeping in my bed and screwing my girl…
ZENTA. Do you think we didn’t see you slinking along the fence? We made a point of opening the curtains so you would see better…
HERMAN. Zenta, do you know what your butcher Chekist, KGB Commissar said to me just before he shit his pants? Do you know he shit his pants?
ZENTA. What did he say?
HERMAN. He said – “Herman, you can have your bitch! Why the hell do I need her! “
ZENTA. Shut up you monster
HERMAN. “Just let me go! I need your land not that hag. Damn that whore!” Could I let him talk like that about a woman? Could I let him live and not hang him?
ZENTA .You swine!
HERMAN. Better bitter truth than sweet lies.
ZENTA. It’s not true! Those are all lies!
HERMAN. They’re not lies! It’s the truth.

ZENTA. No!
HERMAN. Yes! I’m the only one, the only one who has loved you. No one else. Ever. And I’m the only one that you’ve abused, as much as it’s possible to abuse.
ZENTA. Who got you back on your feet? Who? You were nothing but a walking corpse when you came back from the hard labour camp? A bag of bones! You could barely drag yourself around! How you managed to bump off my Commissar, I don’t understand to this day. You weighed a mere fifty kilos! You couldn’t even spit! I pulled you through! Besides you were politically suspect while I was working for the Central Committee.
HERMAN. As the General Secretary! Ha! Ha! Ha!
ZENTA. In a much better position!
HERMAN. You were a common barmaid, Zenta.
ZENTA. Common? Nothing was common in the Central Committee! Least of all the barmaid! That was the best workplace in the Soviet Socialist Republic of Latvia! All your life Herman you’ve lived at the expense of the Central Committee! Black caviar in the morning, red in the evening. A half a litre jar each day!
HERMAN. Don’t exaggerate.
ZENTA. Not an iota. Salmon, eel, lamphreys. Ham from Holland, Hungarian bacon! You were back on your feet within half a year!
HERMAN. I exercised every morning that’s why I managed to survive. And worked my land.
ZENTA. You gorged yourself on the collective’s caviar, that’s why. Because, I stole it for you. A half-litre jar each day. Holy Mother of God forgive me, I have sinned.
HERMAN. Attagirl Zenta, hats off to you. You stole what was stolen.  See how God metes out justice.
ZENTA. I was caught once.
HERMAN. Really? You haven’t told me that! Do tell!
ZENTA. Under the counter that jar … A bit from each plate … Almost full. Then – Marquez Andreas, phooey, Mark Andrejevich shows up behind me! Zenta Antonovna, what have you there…
HERMAN. Under the counter…
ZENTA. And he feels me up under my dress…
HERMAN. The degenerate! You slapped him, didn’t you?
ZENTA. If I had you wouldn’t be sitting here. I had to pay.
HERMAN. How much?
ZENTA. We came to an agreement.
HERMAN. But more interesting is the question – for how much? How much did you have to pay to that Marquez Andreas, phooey, Mark Andrejevich?
ZENTA. I extended favours to him.
HERMAN. What sort of favours?
ZENTA. What sort? What sort? It’s clear what sort!
HERMAN. What favours!
ZENTA. Yes! Yes! Of course sexual. Sexual favours for keeping silent I extended to Marzuez Andreas, phooey, Mark Andrejevich. Classy ones, by the way. Very classy ones!
HERMAN. Whore!
ZENTA. But you in the meantime gorged yourself on caviar! You preferred the red.
HERMAN. How many times?
ZENTA. Times? Twenty years! Get a calculator, if you want to add it up.
HERMAN. But those were our best years! How could you do it at the same time with me and with that Marquez Andreas?
ZENTA. With Mark Andrejevich! How? The same way as you gorged on that caviar. In the morning the black, in the evening the red! In the morning the black, in the evening the red! Where are you going?
HERMAN. To vomit.
Scene 2

Zenta’s room. Herman too is there. He finishes writing.

ZENTA. Why are you sitting there like a wooden god? Did you write it?
HERMAN. I wrote it.
ZENTA. To your brother?
HERMAN. None of your business.
ZENTA. It’ll start soon. Are you checking your watch?
HERMAN. It isn’t even four yet!
ZENTA. At what time is it today?
HERMAN. Like always. At half past six.
ZENTA. How like always if yesterday it finished at five?
HERMAN. What? Ah, yes! Yesterday was an exception.
ZENTA. What was so special yesterday? Did Brezhnev die, or what?
HERMAN. Which Brezhnev?
ZENTA. Don’t you remember Brezhnev?
HERMAN. He’s already dead.
ZENTA. And what did I say?
HERMAN. If there’s nothing to say, then don’t…
ZENTA. I don’t want you to miss the serial.
HERMAN. There’s nothing more to miss.
ZENTA. Oh, Lord, God! I don’t even know if I’m happier that Donna Anna, the dear, is alive or if I’m sad that damned Eugenia has turned out to be her daughter…That just can’t be, it simply can’t be. Well, we’ll see. We’ll just have to see.
HERMAN. We won’t see.
ZENTA. You’re going to watch and tell it all to me. For one lats.
HERMAN. I won’t watch and I won’t tell you.
ZENTA. For a lats.
HERMAN. Not for a lats, not for a louse. The property is impounded. Here’s the dispatch.
ZENTA. Yesterday you said – within ten days.
HERMAN. You haven’t a clue. Before expropriation it must be impounded. And the movable property is the first to be impounded.

ZENTA. What movable property is it you have? What is it you have that moves? Except for me, an I’ve already been sold…
HERMAN. Movable property doesn’t always have to move. The TV, for example Zenta, is movable property. And we no longer will be watching it because it’s been impounded.
ZENTA. No!
HERMAN. Yes!
ZENTA. But they haven’t carried it away yet! You can still watch today.
HERMAN. What’s impounded is impounded. I won’t go against the law.
ZENTA. But Hermy, dear, no!
HERMAN. It’s been packed up and tomorrow they’re going to take it away.
ZENTA. Something must be done! We must get some money! Do something! Sell my buffet!
HERMAN. That one will start to move on its own soon – from wood-borers.
ZENTA. Books! There are still books! Take them all to the market!
HERMAN. All the books have been sold.
ZENTA. What do you mean – all! Aren’t the ones over there books? Those Marquez Andreas brought here after the putsch, Look, all gold embossed. Oh, Lord, how heavy they are!
HERMAN. They were fine to sit on. But not good for burning. Zenta, no one needs your Party’s history. Even less so Lenin’s collected works.
ZENTA. But Karl Marx? The collected works of Karl Marx and in good condition?
HERMAN. Karl Marx and good conditions! These two don’t go together at all.
ZENTA. Screw off the taps! Lift up the floorboards! The window frames! The stove bricks!
HERMAN. Ha! Ha! Ha!  I should tear down my house? For the sake of a TV I should tear down my house?
ZENTA. Save it! Save the TV! Sell the fence for firewood! Sell… I don’t know what. I don’t know. But save the TV. Save Andreas, Angelica, Donna Anna – save them! Save Flora! Save Lopez! Rodriguez. And that damned Eugenia! Save them, dear Herman! It’s my family after all! Our family! The TV. You know, you do know how it is to have your family taken away from you – shot, hung, starved to death in Siberia! Save the TV.
HERMAN. Eugenia – now that’s a woman! Ha! Ha! Ha!
ZENTA. Herman! Wait! Yes! Why didn’t I think of it before! Your property is being impounded not mine!
HERMAN. Of course mine.
ZENTA. Yes, Herman yes! Yours not mine!
HERMAN. And so?
ZENTA. We have to change the TVs.  Take mine and carry yours into my room! Let them impound this one! They really don’t care! What do they know.
HERMAN. Ha! Ha! Ha! Go light a fire in hell!
ZENTA. At our age Herman nine days is a long time. What all can’t happen! Donna Anna may regain her status. Know something? Know what?
HERMAN. What?
ZENTA. Lopez still hasn’t said what he needs to say. Lopez! Bring the TV here! It’s nothing that it’s packed. We’ll unpack it!

HERMAN. I don’t have a TV.
ZENTA. Hermy, this is not the time to tease.
HERMAN. I don’t have a TV.
ZENTA. Go on, what kind of talk is this? Why talk like this?
HERMAN. Zenta , I repeat for the third time in clear Latvian: I don’t have a TV. Do I have to talk in your Changalis mumbo-jumbo for you to understand?
ZENTA. You’ve been recounting to me for years what you’ve watched…
HERMAN. Why do you think I saw it?
ZENTA. You were watching of course…
HERMAN. During that time I had the chance to rest a bit.
ZENTA. How did you know what to tell? In very fine detail?
HERMAN. I read the TV guide. Ha! Ha! Ha! A week in advance. Now too I could tell you what happens the next seven days.
ZENTA. Did you read it in the TV guide?
HERMAN. Yes! Do you want to know who Donna Anna really is?
ZENTA. Be quiet! I don’t want to know ahead.
HERMAN. You don’t want to know either what’s ahead or what’s been.
ZENTA. It’s really the truth? Swear! By the firstborn Son of Virgin Mary?
HERMAN. I can. I can Zenta by whatever you want. I swear.
ZENTA. Why did you do that?
HERMAN. To talk to you Zenta. After all, we never talk about our own life. Only about Señor Escamilio, about Angelica and Rinaldo… Would I get to talk to you otherwise? And it was like a gift …I gave that to you as a gift, by that I mean the family…But my family is in Siberia, my brother is in Cleveland.
ZENTA. Ah, for me? A gift? From you to me? You gave me a gift?
HERMAN. Ignore the lats, that’s only…
ZENTA. Ah, so! Nothing else would do. Jesus, Holy Mary, forgive me, a sinner…
HERMAN. What are you going to do?
ZENTA. Then, Herman, There’s nothing else left for me to do …
HERMAN. Zenta! What flea has bitten you now?
ZENTA. Then there’s nothing else left for me to do but to watch my own TV!
(Zenta turns on her old TV. It’s in total working order)
Scene 3

Zenta’s room. This time Herman politely knocks at the door before entering.

ZENTA. Did I say – enter? Why did you knock?
HERMAN. What are you doing?

ZENTA. I’m getting ready!
HERMAN. For what? Where are you going all dressed up like this? Mad fool! Where could you go Zenta? Where?
ZENTA. I’m getting ready to watch. Today will be like an introduction. Our first encounter…
HERMAN. You will let me watch, won’t you?
ZENTA. You? Not a chance. You can read it in the TV guide. A week in advance.
HERMAN. There are no pictures in the TV Guide. At the least I’d like to see Eugenia’s face. What a woman!
ZENTA. Fine. When Eugenia will come on I’ll call you. But only for Eugenia! You’re a stranger. You’ll only get in the way. You don’t belong to the family. You have your own brother. Where did you say?
HERMAN. In Cleveland.
ZENTA. Did you send him that letter? I haven’t noticed you going to the post office.
HERMAN. I’ve reconsidered it. I won’t write to my brother.
ZENTA. Because you don’t even have a brother, right? Liar! One can’t believe a word you say!
HERMAN. There’s a brother. There is. Peteris Liepins, son of Janis. He lives in Cleveland, but … I no longer want my brother to come here. There won’t be a house or land so what is he to do here? The land and the house taken away… I don’t want him to know. Let him continue to live believing what he has up to now. That I died in Siberia. That he has no one here. And, you know Zenta, the only thing I remember about my brother is that he liked raisins. Do you think that’s enough?
ZENTA. Enough – for whom?
HERMAN. Brotherhood. Mutual interests. I know a hundred times more about Alvarez.
ZENTA. A brother is still a brother. If only my brothers hadn’t been blown up in a bunker! … I wouldn’t talk like that. It’s a sin to talk like that.
HERMAN. You, low-brow
Changalis1 drag your band of kin along everywhere like a she cat her young!
ZENTA. And , you, high-brow Chiulis1, have even your only brother glued to your ass? Who did you write the letter to if not to your brother? Give it here! To the anatomicum?
HERMAN. Give it back to me!
ZENTA. What did you write? About me?
HERMAN. Yes, about you!
ZENTA. To come and get me? But before that you have to finish me off? They won’t take a live one, will they?
HERMAN. To the anatomicum – live!
ZENTA. Are you going to snuff me out?
HERMAN. I should. You’ve already confessed your sins…
ZENTA. You must let me say the Lord’s prayer?
HERMAN. What would you prefer? To be beaten to death or strangled?
ZENTA. Thanks for giving me a choice.
HERMAN. Are you going to resist?
ZENTA. Strangle me! I no longer have the strength to resist. Strangle me!
HERMAN. I no longer have the strength to strangle. I’m tired.

ZENTA. Do you still want to be my cat? I could take you now. I’m not able to love you as a human but as a cat I could…
HERMAN. Yes. Yes. Zenta, yes.
ZENTA. Come! Mittens! Come here, my pet! Oh, poor little thing…Where has my troublemaker strayed to …What have you done, where have you scampered off to …Your little ear is torn. Your fur snarled. Oh, my  little rowdy. So lovable. Dear, dear kitty. Come onto my lap, come. Good, good kitty. My Mittens. My kitty. Such a good kitty, such a love. Are you hungry? You are, aren’t you? How could a kitty not be hungry?  After wandering about and getting into fights…A bit of trout? Yes, there is, there’s trout. Saved for my kitty. For my dear Mittens. Don’t you want it? Not even the trout? How can that be? Where were you, where did you stray to… My Mittens…
HERMAN. I wrote that I withdrew from the agreement. About agreeing to use you for medical purposes…
ZENTA. Kitten. My kitten. Cats are a hundred times better than humans. A whisker broken off… You must eat some vitamins. Will you eat your little vitamin? Yes? Good kitty. Take it in your mouth. Go on. Tasty? Have another. Yes, yes, my pet. Like a little pat? Mittens… Yes. Want more? Got the taste of it? Open your mouth. See, how good. Such a love, so good … Oh, oh, so good… Herman, what are they going to do with us?
HERMAN. Nothing. They’ll let us leave.
ZENTA. Maybe they’ll assign us some small corner?
HERMAN. No, Zenta, see for yourself. It’s written right here – without assigning another residential space…
ZENTA. What kind of people are they, who write such things. A notice …Yes. Within ten days! Decimal, zero five percent penalty for each day missed…
HERMAN. It’s no longer important Zenta.
ZENTA. The right to impound… Movable and immovable… See how we almost conned them with the TV!
HERMAN. Don’t forget about your kitten…
ZENTA. My pet. Good kitty. O my dear little soul. God’s own creature … Wee mouth…Do you want another vitamin? Maybe it’s too much. You might get an allergy. Not so much, my pet. Your fur might fall out, what’ll we do then. My dear Mittens…Wait Herman!
HERMAN. I’m not Herman. I’m Mittens.
ZENTA. Wait a minute Herman! When did you last pay the land tax?
HERMAN. I’m not interested in that any more…
ZENTA. No, answer me!
HERMAN. Well, when I had to … for the previous quarter.
ZENTA. But it’s written here that the last time you paid was in 1999!
HERMAN. That’s garbage! How I worked and slaved to pay it . And for what? They come and take your land and as if it were cat litter to dispose of. Like fouled cat litter.
ZENTA. It’s written here that the last time you paid was three years ago. You beast! You wrung the last lats from me! What did you do with that money! Where did you squander it? Where Herman?
HERMAN. Zenta I tell you I paid in April. Barely, but I managed to make ends meet. I’m not Herman I’m Mittens.

ZENTA. Herman! What is our house number?
HERMAN.  Is your head made of mush Zenta? You can’t remember the number any more?
ZENTA. Tell me the number.
HERMAN. Catspoo!
ZENTA. Tell me!
HERMAN. Future Street twelve. Do you really not remember the number?
ZENTA. Don’t snooze off Herman! This notice is addressed to 2 Future Street! Are you Lipins?
HERMAN. Lipins … I would be… in your mumbo jumbo  – you Changalis. I am … Liepins.
ZENTA.  But it’s written in black and white – Lipins.! Chiulis not Changalis, Future Street 2.
HERMAN. What? For him? He’s a total …degenerate … bum …Total … de …generate…
ZENTA. And look who has signed it?
HERMAN. Kitten …don’t …forget …
ZENTA. I know that signature like my own hand! It’s Mark Andrejevich’s.signature!
HERMAN. All is … fini …shed…
ZENTA. Oh my God! Jesus, Holy Mary, o my God! What’s happened to you … you’re white as a sheet! Oh, Lord that’ll be from those vitamins!
HERMAN. They…weren’t vita …mins…
ZENTA. What then? Oh, Lord, Herman, dear Herman, Mittens, my dear…
HERMAN. Poison.
ZENTA. What are you saying! God! God! Where are you?
HERMAN. It’s as it should be … I bought them for your cat.
ZENTA. But I’ve never had any cat! I asked you to buy vitamins not poison!
HERMAN. It’s as it should be … For your cat. My … dear … girl … Give me another …
ZENTA. No, no! What will I have left then? How many are still here? Enough for me. They’re tasty. Good vitamins. Enough for me. For both of us… Just to be Christian. …Sleep, sleep Mittens. Sleep my kitty. Sleep my pet. Me too … let’s both sleep. Close your eyes. Rest. Where have you strayed, what have you done…Rest … So good, such a love … my dear … (Zenta is popping pills in her mouth as she talks.) …we’ll fly off to the moon. My kitty will have golden little mice there. For my dear Mittens. Yes – there’ll be. Your whiskers are falling out… Vita… mins…Mittens, my dear kitty… Donna Anna, is that you? Alvarez…Lopez, forgive me that I thought so badly of you…Frederica, you’re going to have a baby… You’ve come … My dear ones, good ones, my only ones…

The lights are dimmed.
Sound of the nailed shut window being pried open. Two young people in love stealthily climb into the room.

GIRL’S VOICE. Couldn’t someone walk in on us?
BOY’S VOICE. No, no. For sure not. I know my neighbourhood. No one lives here.
GIRL’S VOICE. That’s odd. Such a good place… love, what a wonderful perfume … How fragrant the lilacs!
BOY’S VOICE. We should find out if this land can be purchased. Would you like that? My dad can afford it.
GIRL’S VOICE. Mark Andrejevich is so nice…
BOY’S VOICE.. You’ll have to call him papa. He doesn’t like to be called Mark Andrejevich… Let him buy this place. For sure! Tochno! A fantastic idea!
GIRL’S VOICE. Oh!
BOY’S VOICE. What’s wrong?
GIRL’S VOICE. I stepped on something. Ugh! Something soft! Jesus! What is it?
Flash a light on it!
BOY’S VOICE. Yuk! A dead cat!
GIRL’S VOICE. How awful! Another one! Where have you brought me!
BOY’S VOICE.  Calm down, love. What are you afraid of? It’s only two dead cats. In this neighbourhood there are more cats than people. How about burying them under the lilac bush!
GIRL’S VOICE. Yes! And let’s put a big bouquet of lilacs on their grave.
BOY’S VOICE. For sure! Tochno!  I’ll ask papa to get the lilac for us. And the house and the land besides!
GIRL’S VOICE. The fragrance of lilacs is absolutely the best in the world…
The end.

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