(A Mediterranean Solar/Lunar Drama)
(Friday. A large screen on stage. Caption: LOCAL NEWS. THE NEWSREADER appears.)
THE NEWSREADER: Exactly 57 years have passed since Mr. Merso, the hero of Albert Camus’ The Stranger, shot five bullets into the body of the innocent Arab on a beach under the sizzling Mediterranean sun. And he killed the black. But modernism is not dead. As things stand today, many people still become enslaved by books from that period. Such is the case with the following event, which happened in the outskirts of town, where an insane man, claiming to be Merso, shot five times at a black garbage bag.
(A videotape rolls. In the darkness an advertisement flashes, neon against a building. Its light illuminates a street in a large town. On one side of the street is a garbage dumpster, a pile of garbage in black plastic bags next to it. Beside the bags stands a white man, barefoot, wearing a straw hat and a white suit. Pulls out a pistol, aims at a bag. Shoots five times. A GARBAGE MAN runs up the street. A black man, dressed in an orange fluorescent uniform. The murderer stands motionless with pistol in hand.)
THE GARBAGE MAN: What have you done, man?
(He bends and collects the refuse from the tattered bag in a scoop.)
THE MAN: I killed a man.
THE GARBAGE MAN: What man? Look, look what you did!
(The man kneels, pistol in hand, crying.)
THE GARBAGE MAN: Hey, what’s up with you?
THE MAN: I killed a man. Can’t you smell it? It smells like hell!
(Two teams of reporters, cameras flashing, enter in a rush. THE GARBAGE MAN provides statements, THE MAN standing to one side, crying over the garbage bag.)
A REPORTER (to THE GARBAGE MAN): Please, tell me what happened.
THE GARBAGE MAN: This lunatic says his name is Merso. And that he killed a man. He shot the garbage bag five times, and that’s it. No big deal. Except he caused me more work.
(A car carrying THE INSPECTOR arrives. He approaches the bag and the crying man. Looks around. Moves forward, and the reporters meet him with their cameras.)
THE REPORTERS: Mr. Inspector, what happened?
THE INSPECTOR: Sorry, there’s no case here. There’s a weapon, but no victim. What we have here is a mentally disturbed person who identifies himself with a character from a famous book.
THE REPORTERS: What book is that?
THE INSPECTOR: I’m not authorized to say. Ask the garbage man.
(Leaves. The tape ends. A return to the studio. THE NEWSREADER again.)
THE NEWSREADER: As you can see, books have become more and more influential in life. Those who claim that television is the greatest villain are incorrect. The astronomers say that there is greater radiation from the sun these days due to an increase in sunspot activity. Here in the south, the sun burns without mercy. Stay in the shade until our next report. And now, these messages.
(A commercial for detergent on the screen. The play’s director is free to choose which kind.)
VOICE ON SCREEN: An all-purpose, ecologically safe detergent. Removes even the most stubborn stains. Even those stubborn black ones. As white as snow. A deadly enemy to anything that isn’t white.
(The screen goes black. The play begins.)
Translated by: Zoran Ančevski and Richard Gaughran