World to Come: Act 1, Scene One

Photo by Riccardo Bertolo on


Newyorkgrad it gets so evil hot by the end of its Summer. Expectations can cook themselves. The citadel of shrill indulgent billionaires and unwashed foreign masses longing to wear designer sneakers becomes a swelter box. Most people of any means flee to their dachas in Strong Island to avoid it. All night they had been at the social club. The cavalcade of Rakhia and lapland, grinding all over the night. Sebastian invited them to after hours on the roof. 

Dawn is now rising. It arrives on a roof garden in the Isle of Mann. Five friends were out all night consuming smoke and spirits. They now sit atop the seventeen story print house converted to a housing cooperative. Saved demolition by some arcane historical preservation laws. It is one of lowest lying structures left in the District Financial amid a maze of towering blue and purple glass towers. Monuments to the gods of trade and alleged progress.  Sebastian Robertvich Adonaev is neither fully Russian nor usefully American. He is a byproduct of the global city’s cosmopolitanism. By privilege he appears caucasian, but in second soul a Jew.  

 Over a bottle of cold Basque wine, Sebastian tells old danger tales to those who can still manage to listen. It is the second to last weekend of Thermidor and soon the summer will end. A fake gold watch dangles off his left wrist as he enunciates his wild tale with his hands. His dark brown hair is covered by a leather partisan cap. Which stylistically declares to some that he hands out newspapers, or to others that he is a highwayman. A bandit masquerading with beliefs.

The City Council was supposedly on the verge of legalizing prostiution.

 Slim and enthusiastic Europeans Amelia Monteleone and Viktoria Christiana Lynch Contreras snap off photos. They clink their glasses. They banter about being heavily intoxicated. Raphael Ernesto Lynch Contreras is  a consummate wild man. His baby face in a constant smirk. His flowing black hair was numerous salt and pepper streaks. They show he’s aging. Slightly poorly thanks to the Peruvian war and the alcoholism. He is the green card carrying husband of Viktoria. Raphael sits with his “dear friend” Sebastian and a beautiful Russian devotchka named Daria Andreavna. They aren’t getting along. The story telling makes her aggressive. Raphael attempts some mediation. Sebastian and Daria evil eye each other. Viciously across the low wooden table they chain smoke over. She has crazy person eyes to go with Sebastian’s crazy person stories. The affectionate if not overly familiar rendering in Russian of Daria is ‘Dasha’, and this is what Sebastian has been calling her all night. They had been introduced several months before, but both had been way too drunk to remember. They are both regulars at the ‘Mehanata Social Club’, but Sebastian more on Thursdays and Daria more on Saturdays. Sebastian tells a dangerously insensitive story. Daria is appalled. Sebastian removes his skally cap and says, “The job and operation, call it as you want, involves calling on high end prostitutes whose number one acquires in the association of athletes, banker men and or those of Post or former Soviet backgrounds. Mostly at the Banya. Sebastian loves the way everything sounds in Russian. Fucking, fighting, and partisan songs. Though he knows under three dozen small phrases and can barely read Cyrillic. He’s an enthusiast of wanting things he cannot possibly have. Becoming things that are unlikely to be.

“So shortly after the girls arrive and you present some fictitious cover. You take their coats as they walk in and settle on a price that will involve no bit of touching at all. Make small talk, make big talk. Whichever you like. Then, you tell them that they’re being filmed and also recorded, but that you’re not a cop. Not some rich pervert or a Mossadnik. Or who-ever else can get weird and dangerous. You’re not there to entrap them for absolutely anything. You can tell them you’re an abolitionist, or keep it real apolitical. Then comes a harmless ask.”

Puff, puff passes along this ill-conceived venture. There is hate in Daria’s eyes.

“You tell them to call down to the driver and say their John is layered out like Charlie Sheen!”

Tiger-blooded,” notes Raphael Ernesto. 

“You put on tea. You tell them a little storah. A personal tale about why you are not a dog or a pig. No troll or ghoul. Intermixed with the story are questions you plan to help answer on a cost effective timeline. How you came to fully hate this line of flesh work. Because you had loved someone forced into it. Because it is evil to trade in coerced human flesh. You convince them to take and perhaps disseminate to other persons a phone number. To arrest or eliminate traffickers and pimps. Also, how to get such trafficked and victimized people the resources they need to escape such work. With a VISA and a future. They get the job cash for nothing. We’re in an era of creating digital money and printing highly convincing hundos. What’s fucking money? We can print it easily these days faster than the Federals can secure it. A number, a simple number which is a real way out of the night life. They get that number on a card. You also ask them to put it in their phone. Eventually, the poor unfortunate soul either will pass the number along or report it directly to their pimps. But, inevitably you force a violent hand. You spread the knowledge that there is in fact a networked way to escape such slavery, are they so inclined. It’s cheaper and more effective than lobbying or the useless political routes. All the cops and half the politicians are on the take, partake anyway. We go directly to the sex slaves and assure them there is safe way out. The next stage then is to get our various operatives into the spas and brothels to feign cardiac arrest and call in ambulances and firemen in as reinforcements. Then we just burn them down.”

Her jaw drops a little.

“They would kill you for all that nonsense,” Daria spits out, “Kill you and your family and people you love. For such bullshit man! For a lot less than bull shit. A number! I spit on your American number. For insulting low grade bullshit that changes nothing. You will die off. They will kill those dear to you too. Make no mistake. They will kill people who owe you money, blat. Nothing at all will be fixed about anything. Not one single girl will go free. It is all stupid bourgeois liberal thinking,” retorts Daria. 

“It is the world’s oldest trade!” she tells them.

“The world’s oldest trade is growing food,” Sebastian retorts.

“It’s the world’s oldest trade item,” she replies, putting out her smoke, “is taking women and trading them for food.”

Daria has the regality of being born all Slavic. As a newer emigre she has vulnerabilities here. But far outside the great dividing highway that loops the Moscow capital ring roads, separating the have everything’s from the have nothings or have only little somethings she is in America a type of sexy alien. Born radiantly beautiful and equally tough.  Daria was born in Penza  fully Russian after the alleged triumph of Capitalist Modernity. Then the rebirth of the Russian Federation. It has left her charming and capable of great fight. Arriving in the largest city of the United States during the time of recession and transition into oligarchy, she is rudderless and floating in glittery fairy tales. They don’t expel the daily hardships of her newly adopted country. Her card is not green yet. Sebastian is fourth generation. He knows his heritage only from books.

“What’s all this for anyway blat?” she asks, “You’re taking some moralistic stand? You see the papers the politicians like this flesh trade. The girls are making money, everyone is making money, don’t fuck with other peoples’ money. You will disappear.”

“They say anyway that I am a hard man to make disappear,” Sebastian flatly retorts, I am not afraid to die for a thing I believe in sweetness. At the cost of all my American privileges.”

 “But are you also not afraid to endanger others,” she retorts.

“He has such dumb American beliefs blat!” she mocks, “I guess you’ve never had to work for anything. Or work to keep something you fought hard for blat. So you would give away most easily. Your life seems so very easily offered. To take, if you ask me,” she snaps back at him.

“Hey, lady, you are insulting to my dear friend and our gracious host,” sternly interjects Raphael, “This man, you have no idea what he’s been through to back up these words. This man is a people’s hero! This is a hard man to stop.”

Daria could care less about the Peruvians definition of so-called ‘heroism’. She is appalled by Sebastian’s cynical little story about call girls passing, itself off as incompetent activism. She offers to kill him. Sebastian obliges her. He thinks she’s bluffing, but doesn’t care if she’s not not. The vodka and wine has them both. They are animated by drink but also offstage sufferings.

‘I’ll kill this over privileged American hypocrite,’ she thinks. A civic duty to my new mother land and the old country too blat! ‘This shit head knows not with whom he fuck,’ she thinks. Mostly, she maintains a mighty level of the not giving of a single shit of a shit. Not one fuck of a fuck, of a shit. She is on an off kilter day. She’s totally blacked out. She won’t remember anything at all. She only remembers every other night out when she drinks. The rest of them form an intractable blur. A black haze punctuated with irregular black and blue marks. “From falling down stairs.” If she really kills him, the tragedy, as far as a memory, will really belong to no one.

Rafael implores her to be more, “Suave, Suave!” To be more calm and “Tranquillo.” The once infamous Peruvian revolutionist, now moonlighting as a Newyorkgrad low key digital disk jockey and designer jeans mender. He cannot even barely modulate Sebastian’s posturing ego and Dasha’s swaggerous, murderous taunting. Now they’re waving invisible pistols at each others’ faces like wild Middle Easterners. Shoving, swaggering and carrying on in the morning lights and sounds of the city that never sleeps doing a line, getting a coffee and coming back online for public visitation.

“You think like a niggle!” she yells at him.

The job of any and all men as far as she is concerned is to please her by making sure her drink is never empty. Making sure that life is a series of well thought, fully compensated attractions. All to make her life easier than it would have been growing up poor in some small Russian half-town. Seabstian has failed her in his utter arrogance. His morals and his poltical colors are useless to her. Useless and insulting. 

Amelia and Christina are drunk enough to ignore everything occurring. They take selfies inthe dawn oblivious to the murder setting itself up.  Before Rafael can talk them down, Daria and Seabstian are going up a ladder. Up to the 18th level of the garden deck. An easterly platform atop the roof garden with the massive blue glass Geary Building towering just an alleyways distance away. Thousands of expensive little cubicles for the lower upper office class. Sports players, fancy pied a terres to stuff a mistress and city homes for the lower ranks of the financial class. But all the lights are out.  They take off up the ladder to a higher level deck of the hanging garden. In Sebastian’s liquor stained mind, she will either fuck him or kill him, but its all relatively engaging. In her mind is only a blackness filled with a spirit urging her to do him in.

“So you’re gonna kill me? Or just fucking threaten on about it?” says Sebastian in her face.

Absofuckinglutely,” she replies, “your life is all bullshit. Your death is certain, blat.” 

They’re bare knuckle boxing! Daria is in a boxing school in Brighton. She strikes at him hard. But it isn’t his first rodeo. A few blocks. A few jabs. Ducking and moving around this upper most ledge. 

“Die you shit! You fucking Amerikansky! You wasted one blat,” she spits at him.

Rafael is actually too drunk to get up the ladder to intervene. He is aware that his friend might be in some danger. But the ability to climb a ladder is for now gone. Amelia and Christian have not stopped their camera phone art making. Over white wine, they look out over the District. They don’t look up with even the smallest level of moderate concern or even moderate care. Actually, only Rafael knows Daria and Sebastian intimately enough to care. As he is in love with both of them in very different ways. Rafael knows a lot about Sebastian’s other life aboard. As ‘Kawa Zivistan’, a wanted rebel throughout the peripheral colonies of South Central America and the Wild West Indies. A  partisan leader in the American guerrilla. Not spooks nor the police forces had taken him so far, or gotten very close to making him capitulate. A Russian woman might get close enough this morning. It is not that Raphael doesn’t wish to intercede. Had he not introduced them! It is that in his intocations he cannot make it up the ladder. Rafael has drank too much again. His brain is just too wet to stop them.

Daria and Sebastian  are now boxing very close to the ledge.   

“You don’t want to live here forever?! You don’t enjoy having all this amazing stuff!” Daria taunts him.

Their boxing and taunting has them perilously near the edge of the roof. She is striking hits and he is just taking her hits. Part of it turns him on. Then, then it comes. Thwack! She cracks his jaw hard. He grins at her with a little blood on the lip.

Hit me to kill me! Just knock me into that fucking pit! Make a good inglorious end to it. It’s all bullshit you know. I’ll just come back,” Sebastian declares in a Russian he himself didn’t know he actually speaks.

That catches her a little off guard. 

The most beautiful woman he has ever seen lately is just a side story in his own mind. His own much larger tragedy propels him to make questionable life choices, such as this one. 

“Kill me blat!” he yells. 

Then, she tries to finally kill him. She’s moves now so fucking fast, like she’s basically trained in the School of Alcoholism. Daria cocks back and doesn’t even inhale or blink. She hits him in the throat with the right and then with the left, Crack! He topples backwards off the roof. As Sebastian plummets back, he grabs out instinctively. Yanks her right along with him. Physics does the rest. 

They tumble together off the ledge. They plummet to the alley way below. The flesh snaps apart. Two souls leave their bodies from a pile of dead and bloody husks. A pointless death.

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