(The railway station buffet. HERZOG is sitting, drinking coffee. Pause. SIVIC comes up to the table, sits down beside him and carries on with his own drink.)
SIVIC: It’s another half hour late.
HERZOG: Half an hour ago it was another half hour late.
SIVIC: Trains. Have another drink.
HERZOG: I’ve had three coffees already. I’m ready to burst. People in this town are drinking, eating and dancing as if tomorrow’s going to be the end of the world. Which it might be, of course. The way things are going, we may well be in at the end. The last great explosion. Planet Earth shot out from the gullet of a monster cannon. The last magnificent seconds in which everything will be possible.
SIVIC: Everything’s already possible now.
HERZOG: Not for me. I have terrible constipation. Spent half my life sitting on the lavatory. You’ve no idea what I go through. Of course, it does give me time to reflect on things, but that isn’t all that pleasant, either. I don’t understand this visit from Mr Klaus. I feel like a village schoolteacher with an inspector coming from the big city. I have a strange sense of foreboding about the whole thing. And I think I’m going to need your help.
SIVIC: I’m at your service, Sir. (raising his glass) Your good health.
HERZOG: And yours. Whenever I drink to someone’s health in this smug way, I half expect someone to come up behind me and split my head open with a club.
SIVIC: You have nothing to fear in this backwater.
HERZOG: Fear doesn’t depend on real danger. I wonder why it doesn’t say in the letter how long Mr Klaus will be staying. If it was an ordinary visit, it’d last the usual three days. Did Stevo Andrejevic look over the accounts?
SIVIC: Yes. Rather carelessly. I had to go through them again myself. It’s not the first time he’s made mistakes which show he doesn’t place much value on your good will towards him.
HERZOG: He seems an honest enough lad to me, and a bright one, too.
SIVIC: You know best, Sir. I may be wrong. Though I’m not usually in these things. In any case, he gets on my nerves.
HERZOG: Well, at least the books are all right, aren’t they?
HERZOG: I keep thinking something’s not all right. I wake up in the mornings and I feel fine until I remember what’s not all right for the day. There’s always something for me to latch on to.
SIVIC: You’re overdoing things, Mr Herzog. You need a rest.
HERZOG: Ah, if only I could take a rest. I have to have too much to do so I have a reason for being so keyed-up all the time. Leave me with nothing to do for just two days and I’ll go off into a panic.
SIVIC: I could hold out much longer than that. Just keep the money coming in.
HERZOG: I give you enough, don’t I? If you take care of Klaus, we can no doubt agree on a little extra. Sniff out what he wants. You’re an old hand at that kind of thing. Your brother does it officially.
SIVIC: Mr Herzog, I like to know as much as possible. If I can sell that knowledge as well, so much the better. Nowadays everything’s up for sale. Even things people think money can’t buy. They’re usually the cheapest of all.
HERZOG: Everybody must have arrived at home by now and be waiting. Everything’ll be getting cold. There’s something else on my mind, too, Mr Sivitch. We haven’t extended the premises. We’ve been dragging our feet for six months now, even though we had definite instructions. We need an extra 400 square yards.
SIVIC: I’ve brought the matter up several times, Mr Herzog.
HERZOG: I should have listened to you. If we’d extended, the place might have made a better impression on Mr Klaus.
SIVIC: On the other hand, we may be overestimating this Mr Klaus. What if he’s just a simple tourist coming up for retirement, travelling through Europe on his expense account, with no clear intention in his head at all? He’ll wonder how on earth he landed up in this backwater, pack his bags again and go straight back home.
HERZOG: And what if he’s a precise and cynical German with a couple of fangs sticking out of his mouth? Who I’m patiently waiting to meet at the station? All I need do now is prostrate myself before him like a red carpet. Please be so kind as to go and ask once more when this modern marvel of a train is due to arrive.
SIVIC (getting up): Of course.