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June 1, 2009 by · No comments

Ekaterina Vitkova

Photo: lepiaf.geo


House Manager’s Wife
Money Dealer’s Wife
Money Dealer
House Manager
Young Man who breeds decorative fish

The lights open on the interior of the Dentist’s small apartment, consisting of a bedroom, kitchenette, bathroom and a balcony. The only window (on the balcony side) overlooks one of the metropolitan “hostels”. The apartment is located in an old, battered, twenty-story bearing-wall building. There are visible traces of leaks on the walls. Above it there are office rooms, where the Young Man breeds his decorative fish. In one of them we see two shelves with fish bowls. The House Manager and his wife live on the lower floor. The Money Dealer’s wife and her husband live on the upper floor.

The Dentist is doing ordinary chores – tidying up her place, hanging laundry on the balcony to dry, arranging washed dishes. While pottering about the room she notices a new damp spot on the wall.

The Dentist talking to herself:

There’s something leaking all the time. I’m sick and tired of it! Can’t make repairs or make improvements. What you have, if you’ve managed to have anything at all, is a place where you’ll just rot away… No escape. That young man breeding fishes upstairs has flooded my apartment three times. Once in the kitchenette, once in the bathroom and once in the front room. But I can’t bring myself to betray him. He has a wife and a little kid.

It’s probably all they have to live on. And since no one can bring themselves to do it, there you have it: it keeps dripping and will just keep on dripping! (Gradually she grows angry) Although, I’m sick and tired of him. Let him breed his fish wherever he wants! By any chance is this an apartment building or a breeding-pond? There are 500 souls living here.

What would happen if everyone started breeding fish in their place? We’d all wind up wading around in tin rubbers instead of slippers. And to top it off, he plays the fool. You talk to him, he winks his big eyes and…. He doesn’t know where the leak is coming from. From the thingamabob. By any chance is my granny breeding fish upstairs? I’ll take to City Hall and complain. Let him sort himself out best he can. I’m sick of being exposed to this dripping and leaking and never feeling like a human being in my own home.

Do you know what it’s like in the common areas? Graffiti cursing you in a hundred languages. In the corner on the left there’s phlegm, cigarette butts and turds now and then. In addition, the entry door belongs on the scrap metal heap – so many colors, it’s perfect for an abstract sculpture. Why we don’t mend it, you ask? Or why we don’t have a cleaning lady. Well, can you make five hundred persons come to an understanding among themselves?

The door bell rings. House Manager’s Wife enters, dressed casually, an apron, sleeves rolled up, flip-flops

The House Manager’s Wife: Is it dripping?

The Dentist: It is. Come and see.

The House Manager’s Wife /enters/: Same with us. And the stain keeps spreading. I’m telling you, it’ll blow out again and we’ll have to spend all night by the buckets like last time. In addition, my baby’s missing. What should we do?

The Dentist: No idea. Anyway, I’m on the night shift, so I’m going to work. Once it starts, let it leak! I’m outa here. Where there’s man – there’s a leak. Where there’s no man – there’s no leak.

The House Manager’s Wife: But, how so? Come on, let’s at least ring the bell of that one upstairs to see what’s going on. ‘Cause by the time you get back from work you’ll have changed your attitude. Unless, of course, you’ve made up your mind to emigrate.

The Dentist: Yeah, I’ll emigrate alright – to Africa. Maybe one of the dryer regions…. So what if we ring his bell? He’ll say it wasn’t him and then secretly wipe the water with the mop. His place is out of joint and my nerves are in shreds. At least, ask your husband to threaten him with cutting off his pipes.

The House Manager’s Wife: Threaten him, threaten him? Don’t you know that one threatened to beat my husband if he dared to touch the pipes. And the shouting! Never thought he had it in him…. Otherwise he pretends he wouldn’t say boo to a goose.

The Dentist: All right, let’s ring his door bell and then it’s off to work for me, knowing I’ve done my citizen’s duty.

They climb on the upper floor. Knock at the door.

Young Man breeding decorative fish: Oops, it’s going to leak downstairs again. I laid this pipe myself, but it doesn’t seem to be right in place here.

Where else should I put it, since the lady next door won’t give me access to the tap and waste pipe in the cellar? ‘More leaks, bigger stains,’ they’re going to start bawling again down below; how they’re fed up…. Well, let’em be fed up!

I’ll keep breeding my fish for as long as I can, and that’s that. (apologetically) Besides, where else can I keep these fish? Find me an office downtown? And what, pay a thousand dollars a month rent, uh? Plus taxes? Me… pay… that?. When donkeys fly.

The guy that can make me fork over that much hasn’t been born yet. [He moves and knocks on wood.] I’ll pay when hell freezes over. And, as far as those with the leaks are concerned, I’ll sort things out with them somehow. Lord a’mighty, it’s no big deal! I’ve already told them about my wife and kid. Just a toddler, and my wife – unemployed, and me – an orphan, a poor orphan at that. Anyway, I’ve told them about the fish from the guppy family. It’s my star number.

Once they calm down a little, I’ll assure them that everything will be fine. Just have to show them around the aquarium and, behold – here are the Guppie-e-e-s. They can’t live without each other. If you move one of them away, the other one dies. Say what you will, Romeo and Juliette with a water twist. Just grabs their hearts. But what to tell them now, I’ve no idea.

Already told them about the new apartment; we’re about to get it any moment, since we have millions of interest points from my great-grandmother, and when they convert the interest points at I-don’t-know-how-much-cash-per-point, then we and the guppies are moving to live in a monolithic, closer-to-the-ground apartment building. I simply don’t know what lie to tell them . All I know is that I’m lost without the fish. But I’ve no idea what to tell. I have nothing left. /He looks at his body downwards/. Except for the one’s virility. And even that, not always.

There’s knocking at the door. He bustles about. Finally, he opens the door, sees the ladies and spreads open his dressing-gown, revealing that he is naked. The ladies begin to scream and take flight down the stairs.

The House Manager’s Wife /panting/: Oh, did you see him? I don’t know what to say, just…. have no words. Ah, no, that was just too much.

The Dentist: What exactly do you call too much….

The two cast a glance at each other and burst out giggling like crazy.

The Dentist: It’s always the lean ones….

They are choked with laughter.

The Dentist: Oh, [taking deep breaths] you know, this cheered me up. I feel like I have the strength to pull out four nerves and file down five molars. What a mess, it did so raise my spirits. You simply don’t know what’s going to happen next.

The House Manager’s Wife: Or pop out in front of your eyes.

Now the dripping becomes more audible.

The Dentist: What about the leak?

The House Managers’ Wife: That one really caught me off-guard. A fabulous trick. Made us forget about the leak and everything. Come on, you put down a larger bucket and go to work. When my husband comes back, we’ll see. Holy cow, if I tell him what just happened…. What a dirty fellow. But his wife is no better. She makes eyes at men and shakes her fanny….

The Dentist: You know what that girl asked me once. ‘You, says she, are a medical worker. Come, tell me, can I catch AIDS from giving a blow job?’

The House Manager’s wife: She didn’t!

The Dentist: She certainly did!

The House Manager’s wife: Wow, as if that’s not enough for her… They burst out laughing wildly again. I’m going to see the money dealer. It doesn’t leak in her place, but it stinks. Could be the miasma or… I have no idea… Because he’s also installed a toilet where it doesn’t belong.

They walk away in different directions. At one time the house manager’s wife looks back.

The House Manager’s wife: And what did you tell her?

The Dentist: Who?

The House Manager’s Wife: His wife.

The Dentist: About what?

The House Manager’s Wife: What do you think I mean – about the AIDS?

The Dentist: Aha. I don’t remember any more.

The House Manager’s Wife: Come on, what do you mean you don’t remember! Is it possible or not?

The Dentist: /muses for a while and adds absentmindedly/: There’s no proof.…

The House Manager’s wife sighs furtively with relief.

The Dentist: /just before she leaves the stage/: … not that it’s… not possible.

The House Manager’s wife remains looking at her in total bewilderment. A moment later she also leaves the stage.

Meanwhile, the House Manager comes home from work. He drops his work bag, puts on his slippers. Then takes out a newspaper and a can of beer, turns on the TV, sits down on the sofa and blissfully puts his feet on the table, leafing through the pages. He has just opened the beer, drinks from it and lies back with a sigh of contentment, when he clearly and distinctly hears the dripping noise from the leak. He turns his head and sees a pile of rugs and a bucket half-filled with water next to them. He sets down the beer, stands up slowly, goes to the bucket; looks at the ceiling, then again at the bucket, then he squeezes the rugs and spreads them around.

The House Manager: I’ll kill that bastard! …

Photo: lepiaf.geo

To be continued

Copyright © Ekaterina Vitkova
Translation Copyright © Valentin Krustev and Peter Cooper

Leaks was published in The Contemporary magazine, Issue 2, 2001, Sofia, Bulgaria.

Categories: Frontpage



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