Blesok no. 31, March-April, 2003
Translated by: Philip Philipovich
Alive and Well
(A bar, nearly empty. ANGJELE, middle aged, sitting at a table. He is drinking beer. Enter DIMITRIJA, looking haggard, aged. He walks on crutches. DIMITRIJA sits down at another table. ANGJELE watches him. He finishes his beer, walks over to DIMITRIJA.)
ANGJELE: How's it going, Dimitrija?
DIMITRIJA: Fine, thank God.
ANGJELE: Can I buy you a drink?
DIMITRIJA: A beer.
ANGJELE: You remember me?
(They are looking at each other. ANGJELE gets up. He brings two beers, sits down again.)
ANGJELE: Where have you been?
ANGJELE: Something happened to you?
DIMITRIJA: Long story. Don't even ask.
ANGJELE: An accident?
DIMITRIJA: Don't even ask.
(ANGJELE raises the glass to toast.)
ANGJELE: To your health. Cheers!
DIMITRIJA: To your health!
(They both drink.)
ANGJELE: Traffic accident?
DIMITRIJA: Wish it was.
ANGJELE: No? What then? (pause) Did you have a fall?
ANGJELE: Someone beat you up?
ANGJELE: Know who it was?
ANGJELE: You don't remember?
DIMITRIJA: Never saw him.
ANGJELE: They put a sack over your head? (pause) Settling some score? You rubbed someone the wrong way? (pause) He fixed you up pretty good.
DIMITRIJA: What did you say your name was?
ANGJELE: You don't remember me?
DIMITRIJA: Getting old.
ANGJELE: He sure did a number on you. Fixed you up real good.
(DIMITRIJA drinks up his beer.)
DIMITRIJA: With a crow bar.
ANGJELE: A crow bar?
DIMITRIJA: A hammer. (pause) A crow bar and a hammer. Ten, fifteen pounder. At least. Bone by bone. One at a time. Twenty-seven fractured, total. Three chipped. Plus cracked ribs, that's a separate count. Fractured skull. Spinal injuries. Damaged spinal cord.
DIMITRIJA: Have problems with my head. Constant headaches. Fucking head. Left leg shortened by two inches. Three toes missing. They sewed me, they patched me, but they never put me back together. Right arm gone. Chemi… chemi… fucking-pharesis of the right side. Severe motoric aphasia. Muscle tonus and… hypertonia. Jaw is locking up. Some bone must be dislocated. One kidney removed. The other one – no good. I'm not supposed to drink anymore. But do I ever! At night, can't hold my water. The moment I fall asleep, I leak. Have breathing problems. Fucking lungs. Be better off if a train had run me over. Early retirement. No special privileges, merits. Job-related disability.
DIMITRIJA: It's OK, though. Can't complain. Had fun in my own time. From there, it's downhill anyway. Ask anyone about Dimitrija the Cop. Know how many broads I scored! I lost count. Can still do it, too, fuck me. My old lady bitches, says, barely on your last legs, and still getting it up.
ANGJELE: That's life.
DIMITRIJA: Thank the Lord we're alive and well.
ANGJELE: Thank the Lord we're alive and well.
(They drink. ANGJELE is watching DIMITRIJA.)
ANGJELE: You know who beat you up?
DIMITRIJA: Who did?
ANGJELE: I did. (pause) With both a crow bar and a hammer. A twenty pounder. Thought I fractured thirty-two bones. That's what I was going for. You never even put up a fight, you mother-fucker. Not that you had a chance. It was like punching a bag. You squealed like a hog.
ANGJELE: You don't remember me? I used to drive a red Ford Escort. Everybody else was driving some old junk back then. But you had to pick on me. I had a piece of girl with me in the car, and I was just getting down to business. And then you pulled me out of the car. You beat the shit out of me, you really fucked me up. For what, though… For the fuck of it… Hit me in the crotch with a night-stick. In the fucking crotch, Dimitrija. It still hurts. What the fuck did I ever do to you to get that kind of shit. I filed a complaint against you. Useless. You guys just close ranks. You're the authorities. Me, a nobody. Couldn't get out of bed for two days. Third day, I try getting up, then just turn around, head straight back. My balls felt like blimps, it was like having melons between your legs. Had two operations. Both failed. Didn't dare think about women. A hard on gets me in the worst pain. Never had any kids. I can still barely screw, but when I do, boy, it's pathetic.
ANGJELE: Want another beer?
DIMITRIJA: It's my turn.
(He gets up, wiping off his eyes. He exits, brings back another round of beer.)
ANGJELE: Why, Dimitrija?
DIMITRIJA: Good question, why?
ANGJELE: Like a pair of stray dogs after a street fight.
DIMITRIJA: We'll bounce back.
ANGJELE: It's taking a long time.
DIMITRIJA: Long time.
ANGJELE: To your health! Cheers!
DIMITRIJA: To your health!
(Front door. ANGJELE and SVETO stand in front of the door. ANGJELE with a crow bar in his hand.)
SVETO: You sure this is the place?
ANGJELE: Don't worry about it. Just stay out of it.
SVETO: You remember how he looked?
ANGJELE: After I'm through with him, he won't look the same.
SVETO: Just don't get worked up. Stay cool. Please.
ANGJELE: You just keep out of it.
(He knocks on the door. BLAGOJA opens the door.)
ANGJELE: Good afternoon.
BLAGOJA: Good afternoon?
ANGJELE: Looking for Aco.
(BLAGOJA stares at the crow bar.)
BLAGOJA: Aleksandar? He's not here right now.
ANGJELE: And where might he be?
BLAGOJA: I don't know. Would you like to leave word for him?
ANGJELE: We'll just wait.
BLAGOJA: I don't know when he's coming back.
ANGJELE: We're not in a rush. And what's your relation to Aco?
BLAGOJA: To Aleksandar? I am his father.
ANGJELE: Would it be all right to come in?
BLAGOJA: Are you his friends?
ANGJELE: No. (pause) Come on in, Sveto!
(They step inside.)
ANGJELE: You don't mind if we sit down.
BLAGOJA: Can I help you somehow?
(They sit down. Pause.)
BLAGOJA: Would you like some coffee?
ANGJELE: Maybe some brandy, eh, Sveto?
ANGJELE: Brandy would be good.
(BLAGOJA brings some brandy.)
ANGJELE: Here's to our health. Cheers.
(They all drink.)
ANGJELE: How old is Aco?
BLAGOJA: Aleksandar? Seventeen.
ANGJELE: The worst age.
(SVETO nods gravely.)
ANGJELE: Know that little punk of Trajko's?
(SVETO nods gravely.)
ANGJELE: Live and learn, live and learn. Is this homemade?
ANGJELE: Excellent stuff!
(ANGJELE pulls out his vehicle registration, hands it to BLAGOJA. BLAGOJA takes it. Pause.)
ANGJELE: Did Aco tell you?
BLAGOJA: We'll work it out.
ANGJELE: What do you mean we'll work it out?!
Some things you can't just work out. I've been a driver for thirty-one years. I started stealing my old man's car when I was twelve. A Ford Escort. I got my license in summer camp. Top of the class. Sveto can tell you. Until today never once had a scratch. Until today. Looked like brand new. Until today. Looked better than any new one. I personally took care of it. Never once went to a mechanic, Sveto can tell you. Spark plugs, oil, filters, belts. Exhaust, fixed all by myself. Bore through the pistons, three times. Reset the odometer, four times. Whatever for? Twice changed the shocks. Total of three hundred and three spark plugs. Eleven axles. Twenty joints. Four carburetors. Bearings. Gaskets. Belts. Exhaust. Rims. Sveto? Steering wheel. The front body… (pause) And so on.
BLAGOJA: We'll have it all fixed.
ANGJELE: What are we going to have fixed?
BLAGOJA: What is the total damage?
ANGJELE: Is Aco going to show up? Aco!!
ANGJELE: Where have you been, Aco? Were you trying to run away? Trying to hide?
BLAGOJA: Why did you run away?
ACO: I was afraid.
ANGJELE: Of me?
ACO: This one here came after me, screams how he's going to kill me. So I lock myself in. He starts pounding on the hood. Kicks the door. Climbs on top of the roof. Starts jumping up and down. A crowd gathers. Then he starts prying open the door with a crow bar. I was scared shitless.
ANGJELE: Did you see what you did to my Ford?
ACO: It's just touchups.
ANGJELE: What touchups, Aco! I'll show you touchups, I'll touch you up right here.
BLAGOJA: You shouldn't have run. You should have waited for the cops, let them investigate, make a report.
ACO: A cop did show up. as i'm giving him my registration card through the window, this one yells, pull him out or let me pull him. then they both start pounding on the windshield. They take off their jackets and start breaking the car open. The crowd that's gathered joins in, everybody's screaming at me. Someone says to break the windshield and pull me out of the car from the front. Another one says to tear gas me, so i come out on my own. this one here picks up a huge rock. I don't know what to do, so i start the car and beat it.
ANGJELE: You ran away like a pussy, Aco. It's not so much that you don't have a license, but you do have eyes, do you? Do you look around when you're driving? Do you have any brains in your head? We all could have been killed. You got to observe those signs, you mother-fucker! No, he just steps on it, what the fuck does he care! And my Ford was ticking like clockwork. A perfect machine. Could run up to a hundred miles on the open road. Why are you staring at me? What?
BLAGOJA: Why are you staring at me? What the heck are we going to do now?
ANGJELE: What are you staring at, Aco? What are you staring at? What are we going to do now?
(ANGJELE gets up. Smashes a vase with the crow bar).
BLAGOJA (gets up.): It's all right. He made a mistake. I'll settle this.
ANGJELE: It is not all right.
ACO: Now you see why I ran away.
ANGJELE: And where are you going to run to now?
(ACO runs away. ANGJELE after him.)
ANGJELE: Where are you going to run to now?
(ANGJELE throws ACO on the ground. BLAGOJA tries to restrain him. ACO falls down. ANGJELE hits ACO in the crotch with the crow bar. SVETO grabs ANGJELE from behind, tries to pull him away. ACO passes out. BLAGOJA takes him in his arms.)
SVETO: God, Angjele, good God, Angjele!
ANGJELE: What, what Angjele…!
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