(A garden with an apple tree. The tree is sawn off at the trunk. Midnight. Puppet sits on his suitcase near the tree trunk. Drinks from a bottle. Tsetsa appears in the moonlight).
PUPPET: (Looks at her.) Tsetsa?
TSETSA: Well, I was right, it’s you.
(Puppet stands up, hugs her. Tsetsa trembles.)
PUPPET: Are you cold?
(Removes his coat and hands it to her.)
TSETSA: I’ve been cold all my life. But now, you see, I’ve grown up.
PUPPET: You have.
TSETSA: That means nothing to me now. Then I wanted to be like my sister. I wanted you to play at shadows with me, not with her. (pause.) Once Bela got sick. I asked you if I could replace her at the rehearsal. You said I couldn’t play a girl because I didn’t have breasts. I cried all night, Puppet. (pause.) Why is life like that? You don’t have breasts when you need them. They grow when you don’t.
(Tsetsa takes a note from her pocket.)
TSETSA: Here’s the address.
PUPPET: Vienna? What’s she doing there?
TSETSA: (envious.) She walks on catwalks. She wrote that she drove a convertible. Poor child, she doesn’t have a roof over her head!
PUPPET:(sits.) Why did she leave?
TSETSA: When they put you away, a very handsome guy from Vienna visited Temo. A fashion designer. He said the West was crazy about our leather. He gave Temo a pile of money to start a tannery. Temo quit his job at the military hospital. He isn’t a psychiatrist anymore. And Hook runs a café .
PUPPET: Why didn’t you write?
TSETSA: When I wrote you about the child you didn’t answer.
PUPPET: What could I answer?
TSETSA: I’d go crazy if it were yours. I want a child with your eyes.
(He hugs her.)
TSETSA: She had it and gave it up. She left it on the doormat of your mother Tsveta’s house. And went to Snake. What a bitch!
PUPPET: Who is Snake?
TSETSA: The guy from Vienna. They call him Snake.
PUPPET: Who else had her?
TSETSA: Kiss my cheek and I’ll tell you.
(Puppet kisses her. Tsetsa looks at their shadows. Smiles sadly.)
TSETSA: I’m kissing a shadow.
TSETSA: Temo had her.
PUPPET: Temo who? Hook’s father?
TSETSA: Bela doesn’t sleep with the ones she loves.
PUPPET: I don’t understand.
TSETSA: Suicidal people who don’t have the guts to point a gun at their heads, kill themselves with too much sex. With those they don’t love. You don’t kill yourself before someone you love.
PUPPET: Bela never attempted suicide.
TSETSA: She enjoys picking at her scabs. When the wound begins to heal, she tears at it again.
PUPPET: Does Hook know about Temo?
TSETSA: No. Even if he knew, he wouldn’t have the guts to say anything. He would lose his café .
PUPPET: (Suspiciously.) Temo doesn’t even wear shorts, because of his leg.
TSETSA: Come on, Puppet. You are so old-fashioned. Does he have to take his pants off? Trousers have a fly for such a thing. (Pause.) But, this was done in the old-fashioned way.
TSETSA: Yes, he took off his pants. Ask Bela about the tattoo on his lame leg.
TSETSA: A snake. She told me: “Tsetsa, you should see Temo’s tattoo.” “No, thanks,” I said, “I don’t want to see it. See it yourself if you’re interested.” “I’ve seen it,” she said.
(A branch snaps nearby. Tsetsa gets up.)
TSETSA: Hook! He’ll kill me if he sees me!
(Tsetsa runs away. Hook appears.)
PUPPET: (Points to the apple tree.) Who cut it?
HOOK: Your father Arso. Don’t even think about getting everybody together for a party. (Spits on the ground.) Say what you have to say, ’cause my fiancé e is waiting for me.
PUPPET: You’re getting married? To who?
HOOK: I’m marrying Tsetsa. She works for me.
PUPPET: Wise. You’ll need only one car to go to work. (Pause.) You’re crazy. You love one sister, but you’re marrying the other?
(Hook shakes his head and grabs him by the neck.)
PUPPET: What’s your problem?
HOOK: What’s my problem? You know that my mother hanged herself? You don’t know. And you know where? You don’t know. On this apple tree.
HOOK: Because she went insane.
(Pause. They look each other in the eye. Hook takes his hands off Puppet’s neck.)
HOOK: But I am not insane. This tree has been cursed. The games with shadows began under this tree.
HOOK: I’m afraid to sleep, Puppet. I hear voices at night. They keep saying: “Your son, Temo… Your son, Temo… Your son, Temo.” And then laughter. “What about Temo’s son,” I ask, but there’s no answer, and again I ask, “What about him?” I also heard that one of my grandfathers went insane. Am I next? Is it hereditary, Puppet? (Pause.) I want you out of my life. You’re still crazy. I’ll give you money, just go away. Leave the city, the state. Here, take it. (Throws money, which drops and remains on the ground.) Let me live like everybody else. I want to get up at seven, to eat three times a day, to brush my teeth in the evening. I did everything for you. I got Temo to write a medical report to save you from jail. But in court you pulled out a knife against me.
PUPPET: You said Bela knocked the candle over. Would you rather have her go to jail?
(Hook keeps silent.)
PUPPET: And, you also said…
HOOK: I know what I said.
PUPPET: You said: “Your honor, she is a little slut. At the movies she kissed me like a whore.” He asked you: “She is a whore just because she kissed you? Would she still be a whore if she kissed someone else?” “No,” you said. “I know that kiss. She is a whore. Your honor, she kisses like a movie star, like an actress.” Is it true that
you and her kissed?
(Hook is silent.)
HOOK: The child… is it yours?
(Puppet looks at him rigidly. Pause. Puppet lights a cigarette.)
HOOK: Those were dangerous games, Puppet!
PUPPET: Dangerous? For whom?
HOOK: For society.
PUPPET: They were dangerous for you. When one plays shadows he has no body to keep him company. He’s a ghost. Alone in the world. But you, you can’t manage alone. You need people, a word that doesn’t exist. What’s the word for people? You don’t know. My name you know. But you still hide in the crowd. Nothing happens if you hide in the mob and swear at a policeman. If you stand up to swear, you get killed. What’s courage, hiding or standing? Without a society you can’t get to sleep. You’ll marry Tsetsa because you’re afraid to sleep alone. But when you die, you’ll have to die alone. No one can keep you company then.
HOOK: I was seventeen. The world swirled around me in pollen and madness. My blood was boiling, my eyes itching, I was smothering.
PUPPET: Allergy. It goes away after puberty.
HOOK: It wasn’t an allergy. It was a religion. The old man tricked us. Do you know about him? No. Do you know where he’s from? No. Do you know where he got the chest? No.
PUPPET: Bela told us.
HOOK: Do you still believe the story about the chest?
PUPPET: I do.
HOOK: (Gets up.) You should be in the loony bin at Demir Hisar! I’m getting out of here.
PUPPET: Then go. Go and rot in mediocrity. You know what that is? You don’t, because you’re in it. When you are in a dark room, you adapt. You see as if you’re in daylight and you don’t care that it’s dark. If someone asked you if you were normal, you’d say you were. An idyllic family scene. Satisfied with being ordinary, nothing little, nothing big. Afraid to say I want this, I want that. Are you the man that had high hopes with Bela and me; that the sky would pitch a tent for us when it gets dark, and the day would take it down with the dawn, that we would perform in strange cities? Are you the man who read adventure stories when the doctors took off your father’s leg, when you told us they’d give him a hook? That’s how you earned your nickname. Temo came back from the hospital without a hook. Are you the man who bled with Bela and me under this apple tree and became our brother? Do you remember that, Hook? Bela was afraid to cut her finger and she cried, saying: “I’m a fraud, I can’t even cut my finger!” Then I pierced her finger with a rose thorn while you covered her eyes. Who was the fraud, Hook? Tell me.
HOOK: Look at yourself, brother. You went bald. You’re on the streets. You need food, but you think of shadows. You think that the world will turn upside-down if you give it Slavic shadows and dragons! Don’t give me that crap. I’m cured.
PUPPET: Who cured you?
HOOK: My father.
PUPPET: What kind of cure?
HOOK: He told me to count; first to a hundred, then to two hundred, three hundred…
PUPPET: Then to four hundred, to five hundred.
HOOK: How do you know?
PUPPET: It’s an old trick. Tell someone to count so he doesn’t bother you anymore. He’ll die before he finishes counting.
HOOK: (Takes the money from the ground.) If you stay… we’ll start a tannery, I could employ you. We’ll tan leather for Europe.
PUPPET: (gets up.) Once upon a time there were two friends. One of them left. How many remained? Tell me. You know how to count.
HOOK: You’ve never called me brother.
PUPPET: Where is the chest?
HOOK: Nobody knows.
(Puppet leaves while Hook stops, hesitating.)
(Calls out after being sure Puppet has left.)
HOOK: (Points to the apple tree.) I sawed it, brother! I was afraid I would hang myself.
(He also leaves.)