World To Come. Act 1 Scene 2

SCENE TWO  

The bleak and miserable looking South Bronks with its third world mentality and fourth world life span becomes almost a physical reminder of the culture and differences of the varying races and religions. Or more specifically perhaps how they are treated by the ruling order, police and secret police.

In ‘the Boogie Down’, anxiety is high and some are truly miserable. It used to be just two large mega plantations. One belonged to the Morris family and the other the Bronks family. Now it’s a peri-urban labor reserve ghetto. Overpacked and completely mismanaged by the city. A sea of low rise six story tenements and varying  failed experiments in brutalist brick affordable housing run alongside the veins and arteries of the highway beds. The armada of trucks and train lines that supply Newyorkgrad with food must all pass through here to reach Hunts Point Market. Amid this grim barrio sprawl, in this cramped dead place of Spanish speaking poverty are some pockets of normal life. In the north along the border with Westchester it becomes a green and hilly oasis populated mostly by Albanians. This juxtaposition is striking. South of the Cross Bronks Expressway, the place is a fourth or fifth world country. Serfs for the city to clean apartments, wash cars, hold doors and clean dishes. To the north, something manageable takes shape. An Albanian suburb that mostly sat out the class war.

The friends of Sebastian Adonaev, known by many here as “Kawa Zivistan” came from all five boroughs, the primary adminsitrative districts of Newyorkgrad. They find their way north along those endless highway systems. Some too on the public trains. Some on buses or motorcycles or Guyanese modified muscle cars. The friends of the dead end up eventually in a place called the Wakefield Commune. Like most places in the Bronks, it has way too many people living there and no elevators. The vast labor reserve ghetto south of the expressway for the mostly Spanish speaking working class, it ends abruptly. The Albanians keep everything in their districts clean of the dirt they do everywhere else. 

“Well that’s the prejudice anyway. Most of them are hardworking and honest citizens. Their mafia has a rather brutal reputation,” Raphael explains. 

Viktoria Christiana Contreras is dressed in all black. A lace veil covering a plain albeit heavily makeuped face and contacts which turn her eyes feline brown blue. Her husband, Rafael Contreras is in denim jeans and black shirt as he owns no funeral appropriate suit. He has only sobered himself up long enough to attend the two funerals. Raphael is unshaven. His baby face is markedly hard for the first time in many years. The weather is very poorly. It really seems that in the Bronks no matter if it is hot or cold the weather is always terrible. It is nearly the end of summer, but it has refused to rain this year. The weather machines are in real anarchy or Newyokgrad’s local oligarchy is slipping. They are in a crowd of several hundred mourners. The sky is grey and foggy with smog.

The first Funeral is for Seabstian. Known also by his pen name and guerrilla name Kawa Zivistan. The infamous partisan known by those who really know him as Sebastian Robertivich Adonaev is dead. The funeral is very well attended considering all the bridges he had burned this year. Very few people believe he is really dead. Everyone is speaking of “seeing it or not seeing it coming.” Also of his “incredible potential” now buried. Just as some had suspected before his 30th year. It is rather like a sad circus. There are way too many people speechifying, justifying and explaining, and there is an overabundance of booze flask flowing and over the counters. Who will lead the tribe? Many of the mourners are Negs. Many are wearing blue ambulance Class A dress event uniforms. His parents are kind and vaguely soft bourgeoisie types. They don’t break down or cry. They just quietly hold court and whisper on the sidelines. His mother in particular seems to be conspiring with select old friends paying their respects.

“I read all they need now is upload the soul into a new body,” a guest named Maximillien suggests, “like Premier Putin does and that guy who helped colonize Mars.”

It is a closed casket affair. Kawa had allegedly shot himself twice in the head with a small caliber pistol and then toppled seventeen stories off a roof. Or he was executed. With two bullets to the head. Then thrown off the roof. Either one could have been equally true if you really knew him. Which to be fair a lot of these people did. They knew him in both a biblical sense, a literal sense and aman of his word. Some had served with him in the emergency medical services. Or in foreign extraordinary expeditions. Some were from ‘the Organization’. A few had just fucked him in passing. Others had made love with him for his poems or his hyper-colorful, somewhat naughty little drawings. Some are family. Most are comrades. There is very little left of his face. Seemed possibly the work of the secret police. Or his own work, hard to really say. Similar to how Rahula Today the famous rapper and martyr from Detroit had died in 2068. A little too similar really. How do you shoot yourself twice?

Theoretically, it is an Ivory funeral. But the only thing Yiddish about it was that it is done on the tasteful but cheap, and scheduled to go on for seven days. There was liquor and also warm fresh bagels and various kinds of smoked fish. He was to go in the ground less than 24 hours after his alleged suicide. There not being a note was the most unnerving aspect of the whole thing. Kawa was amongst other things a very prolific writer. Not leaving a suicide note was highly suspect, completely anticlimactic. Out of character. The inner circle knew exactly why he’d gone and done what he did, kept it to themselves. What he thought he had to do. Whether he died by his own hand, or got snuffed, well it all had to do with that Maccluskey broad.

“Over a woman that didn’t even love him!” exclaims Seabstian’s oldest friend Nikholai Trickovitch. Then he spits on the floor and does a shot, “That dumb whore  set him up to die! Blat.”

“I want to see the fucking body,” demands a woman named Anya Drovtich. It’s actually out of character for her to curse. She’s a Muhamidian and a Fire Department EMS Bureau Instructor.

Anya’s thick black dreads and the blue F.D.N.Y. Emergency Medical Service uniform that many are wearing out of respect for the fact that Kawa had once been an E.M.T. with that prestigious organization. For four years until the Bureau of Trials and Interrogations had forced him out after various plots and labor agitations centered around the island nation of Ayiti. As well as a controversial subversive newspaper. Many core members of the resistance are of course E.M.T.s, Paramedics and also some Fire Fighters with the organization Kawa built during the long dark lost years. Anya just says what many are thinking, but few other than the parents, Trickovitch or Mickhi Dbrisk had the familiarity with the dead to outright declare.

Viktoria and Rafael stand quietly drinking Vodka in the background. They recognize many of Kawa’s associates. From dinner parties. From late night salons on revolution. Comrades, friends and also some former lovers. Also the fair weather comrades who mostly drank his wine and ate his food. Who do so even in his time of death. Many if not all are from the Z.O.B. His gang, clique, club, party and ‘cult’, which many have and did still call it. Whatever it had been, or still secretly was it wasn’t over with the death of Kawa Zivistan. After decades of clandestine organizing, theirs was a durable Otriad, the realization of an American guerrilla movement.   

Viktoria knows the female faces slightly better than the male ones. Long nights at the Mehanata Social Club where Kawa would hold court up on the Mezzanine. Making deals and handing out homework assignments. She’s mostly stayed out of the Z.O.B. club affairs, despite his many attempts to rope her in. Rafael however is absolutely more involved. Inside the internal club politics, he knows almost everyone here. Since despite the blur of the drink, he’s still a Kadro.

“The casket stays closed, sister,” declares Mickhi Dbrisk, a tall Jamaican gangster in a black leather jacket. His gray armband and the small silver lion pin on his left lapel indicating him as a person of authority here. Openly marked as an elected officer of the People’s Defense Forces. The bulge of a pistol can be seen if you know where to look.

“I won’t believe he’s dead until I see the body,” Anya repeats.

The mob of comrades and family mills about. The mother of the dead man nods to Mickhi Dbrisk. Kawa’s mother has strange circular, red wizard spectacles. His father is portly and normally jovial, albeit not really such as his first son’s latest funeral. Dbrisk opens the casket. There lies a body. A body with no head. In theory it is the body of a prolific poet. A dedicated paramedic, partisan and hooligan named Kawa Zivistan. His head is severed, completely missing. His gray multiform is still very crisp. The Ayitian flag of Palmares is tucked in his left breast pocket. Red and blue with the tree of life. Cannons and spears defending hard won and bloody liberty.

Where’s his fucking head?” mutters Anya in Arabic.

Rafael Ernesto and his paperwork wife Viktoria take a black town car hired out from the Mexican Express. Kawa’s funeral was in the North Bronx but Dasha’s is in Little Odessa in Southern Breuklyn.

Four hours in traffic, three shots of vicious Rakia, two Baltika 9s and a steady flow of Stolichnaya Premium and a pretty long car service ride later, they make it to Breuklyn a bit after sun down. Through way too many different factional check points. Interborough transit is getting prohibitively expensive. On the southern coast of Breuklyn they arrive at a pretty bleak gathering. This second funeral is quite small, but rather fancy. ‘The bitch didn’t die on the cheap’, thinks Viktoria. It’s on the very other side of the grad.

There are fewer than two dozen people there. No speaks anything but Russian and no one cries except the mom. Dasha looks as beautiful dead as she ever did alive. Like a gently sleeping doll. The funeral is nominally ‘Russian Orthodox’, as that is her patron’s religion.  Although Daria was allegedly some part Ivoryish. Probably another deception. The patron has spared no expense. Her mother had been flown in from Penza. Based on the patron’s insistence she was to be buried here and not sent back to Russia. There are a couple lady friends of the night that Viktoria recognizes from the tavern. Dumb foreign gold digging whores, she thinks. There are an assortment of men. All looking suspiciously at each other. Daria had a fan club and none of them are amateur. Rafael’s Russian is much stronger than Viktoria’s. Being American native, she speaks middle English and low English. Though it is his fourth language, he can follow the mood. He makes out vaguely hushed interactions. Scene size ups and non-spoken accusations.

Viktoria knows very little about the nightlife of Daria, outside of the Bulgarian Tavern ‘Mehanata’. She can fill some blanks in though. Even though virtually anything the girl said was a total lie. There was a paperwork husband named Maccluskey. There was a ‘boyfriend’ named Serge paying for an apartment in Brighton. There was a corporate lawyer named Dmitry, who was her patron and was paying for her school and credit cards. She had a best friend named Tanya, a funny looking little emaciated tramp who looks like she needs to find a patron to feed her or get a real job. Viktoria can basically only guess at who everyone else is besides the patron. Holding court on his failed investment. Allegedly, Daria’s black heart had stopped roughly 48 hours ago. The medical examiner inconclusively blamed a hazardous midnight cocktail of Red bulls, Vodka shots, Cocaine, and something else they couldn’t really identify. Daria was known to play with all that stuff pretty often.

Some homies found her body at the Stillwell elevated rail station. She was pronounced dead shortly after a work up at Coney Island Hospital. She had in her purse a small book of poems written to her by one ‘Kawa Zivistan’. Who allegedly killed himself just one day after confirming she was gone.

“Allegedly, blat” was the only word in Americano being bandied about this funeral. A lot of alleged behavior. A lot of possibilities, culprits and suspects.

“Who to blame for the death of my daughter?” her mother asks Viktoria in highly broken English when no one seems to be paying attention, “which one of these men?”

“I’m sorry I just don’t know.”

“My Dasha told us there was some crazy poet in love with her. Want-rescue her from. This kept life. Life of shit in non-glamours Amerika. She say-tell me, this poet man. Trying to steal her away. For about one year. Who kill my daughter in really?”

“I just don’t know. I’m so sorry. I just don’t know what happened,” repeats Viktoria.

“Is man here now? This fucking shit. This Kawa Zivistan?”

“No. Kawa is dead too. He shot himself. Twice. After identifying your daughter’s corpse. We just came from his funeral,” says Rafael quietly knowing there are lots of bad man killers here.  Rafael, drunk again, looks like he might cry looking down at Daria’s body. Buried in hyper-expensive completely out of season Peony flowers in fancy white casket with gold trim. He had loved her. While still partly loving his paperwork wife Viktoria in a sad way too of course. Everyone had loved Daria Andreavna. She had dark magic and ‘tits galore’. She had style, cunning and class. Without knowing very much about her, many men had tried to have her. Because she was young and free and exotic and beautiful and impossible to tame. She was a true collectors item. Many men here had tried to own her in one way or another. Her husband, her various boyfriends and her sponsor patron included. Many of which are now here.

Who to blame for this total catastrophe?” asks the mother again.

Nobody really knew. Allegedly, a lot of fucking things had happened over the course of the year, in the wilderness of Newyorkgrad, the third most powerful city on earth. The Ziggurat of many, many lights and towers. 

“A senseless tragedy blat. A senseless goddamn waste of…,” the very well-dressed man in the custom cut black silver blue suit whose name is Dmitry Khulushin, had almost said ‘talent’ aloud, but instead, says “…of total perfection.”

Daria’s mother begins to sob hysterically which is permissible for a woman and mother to do at a Russian funeral. Skinny little Tanya tries to comfort her but starts crying too. Her daughter had come a very long way to die obscurely, for absolutely nothing. Viktoria grabs Rafael by the arm, “It’s time to leave. Now. Her brown eyes say she means it. Rafael looks like shit. Real poorly. The sometimes hard defenses of his machismo crumpled on the ride over, any minute now he could get in a bad fight. They Fenian exit. Which is to say without drawing any attention or even saying goodbye.

They wait outside. The funeral was held at ‘The National’ on Neptune Avenue.  Another Mexican Express cab is coming to take them home to District Greenpoint. Rafael begins to weep heavily. Sobbing for Dasha, whom he very much loves, loved, no, loves. And for Sebastian too who was one of his closest real friends in this bleak city. He had introduced them and thus feels now, more than any other moment in the year prior, responsible for what has happened. Since in truth only he knows the full story of it. In both Peruvian as well as Russian culture, ‘real men’ do not by any stretch of fucking imagination cry. Especially in front of women. Paperwork wives included. But, cry now he does. Wiping away the tears as they form. Hitting a brick wall until his hand bleeds, then breaks. Viktoria tries to stop him from boxing the wall. He slaps her. She is just an American. The child of Fenian Catholics. They work hard and wear the blue collar. They drink pretty heavily. They have lots of kids and they cry in front of whomever they want. The Mexican Express is nowhere in sight. Viktoria can’t believe Raphael hit her. Brighton Beach is a bleak eastern oblivion the cops haven’t properly patrolled in a decade or two. The coast of dystopia. A place of traffic. The endlessness is magnified by some not seen aura. A feeling that all times occur at once here. It is a dying place lined with a wide ugly boardwalk.  The crumbling boardwalk goes past the many dilapidated public housing towers. Out into nowhere in both directions. Dropping out of time or sight. You drown yourself in your own black desperation here because it is the worst of both the old country and the new one. On the end of the long Steeplechase pier you can line your pockets with quarters then drown yourself in the brine. The sun has finally set on this once plump and happy empire. The short lived Pax-Americana has come to an end. But will it end in a pathetic whimper or a vile televised gang bang? The vultures are circling the grad. Have at it! The Haan hordes and the Russian spy machine are very ready. 

World to Come: Act 1, Scene One

Photo by Riccardo Bertolo on Pexels.com

SCENE ONE 

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.

World To Come (Prelude)

The World to Come

Prelude

         The year is unknowable. Two fugitives hide in a safehouse in central Moscow. Near the Arbat, inside the second inner great ring. There are many good places to hide here. Some would find them to be murderers serving nothing but a psychosis. To others, heroes of a revolution. But to most regular people they are invisible. Their tribulations and trauma belong only to themselves. For now they are worth only a little bit more alive than dead.

           They smoke. They cry. They take a few shots. At each other and with Vodka. They bleed and they also remember. They talk with their hands. The room is poorly lit in a soft blue light from electric candles. A man with pure gray eyes is seated at a desk. Eyes as such are expensive. As though he has very good patrons. As though he once had real eyes. He is working on a small primitive typing device. Tapping away. A large scroll is opened to reveal a very old story, an ancient manuscript in a language very few can read. Fewer still can possibly understand. In the background, the Russian song ‘Oy Moruz’ plays. 

       “Oh frost. Oh frost. Please don’t kill my horse.” But in Russian. “My wife is a jealous wife. My wife is a beauty! She waits for me in sadness.”

         The record skips and it becomes a dancehall song. Abruptly it warbles. Then turns off. Sebastian Adonaev called ‘Kawa’, an Americansky. He is going through a lengthy codex. The codex is inscribed upon a parchment contained on rollers in a silver sheath. He’s copying out something Sephardic from the scroll. Intermittently he is also typing. The words appear holographically projected on the walls of the windowless room. Daria Andreavna called ‘Dasha is a Russian emigre with bleached blond hair. She is meticulously assembling a futuristic weapon. A silenced automatic pistol. She is smoking a banned Newport cigarette. Banned in the Russian Federation because it is more deadly than any other brand. Sometimes she smokes slowly. Sometimes she smokes quickly. She is deliberate until she is not.

SEBASTIAN:

Reading from the codex.

‘I have had so many lives. Some past. Some future. Some even run concurrently. I feel as though I have visited the mountain top. At the innermost quarters of the Ziggurat itself I had powder blown into my eyes and awoke here. With you. As though it were all a dream.’

 She smokes at him. At first saying nothing.

DARIA:

A sane man, in an insane world is what?

SEBASTIAN:

You read the Talmud?

DARIA:

Of course I read the Talmud, blat.

SEBASTIAN:

I’m perfectly sane.

DARIA:

Yet the world is still not.

Your eyes. Always so fucking sad. I am sorry you are made to suffer so. It seems you have lost muscle memory to even form a fake smile. I would go so far as to say. It’s time to stop. All your fighting. Admit your struggle is hopeless.

SEBASTIAN:

We’ve done these lines before.

DARIA:

You keep these mad notions to yourself. We are again flesh. We live in only three dimensions.

SEBASTIAN:

Reading from the Silver Dressed Manuscript

‘The snow fall was exceptional. It was as if Hashem had pulled a vast white blanket upon us to tuck America to bed. Then the devil and a host of petty bureaucrats did not take the time to keep the power running. This winter was the winter that tens of thousands across the empire were tucked in without heat into a long kiss goodnight. That was the winter the Chornay finally fought back with real determination. Remembering finally where they came from. Resisting a planned eradication.’

DARIA:

Who taught you that word Chornay?

SEBASTIAN:

Maybe Maria. 

DARIA:

Probably Medved.

A pretty scroll. With such dubious origins. Dubious, is that a good word?

SEBASTIAN:

Reading from the Silver Dressed Manuscript

‘In a well-fortified safe house buried in the heart of the Russian Capital. I lock eyes with a woman who in another life broke me down and sold me as a slave!’

DARIA:

‘Indeed’, as you like to often say. Indeed you are a slave to something.

SEBASTIAN:

Reading from the Silver Dressed Manuscript

‘Her eyes, her eyes! Even the bluest day on the Caspian contains no such expansive shimmer! There is no comparison for this level of captivation. All things we have done, or did or may even still have to do! Only so that we might never have to bear again the painful agony of our tumultuous separation.’ 

DARIA:

My, my, oh my the fuck my! The stories you tell yourself blat. Re-read then my little bleak one. My American Mayakovsky. Read and torture yourself. Read the numbers of the letters. Read above and between lines.

SEBASTIAN:

Reading from the Silver Dressed Manuscript 

‘Poem #38: The Millennium Hostage Crisis. Part One.’ 

Life of the slave show!

    “I will remove you from your castle and make you watch the way we live in the wilderness below.”   

And she slips off her high heels into a star-crossed stare down. She always calls the shots,

    Gun shots to blood soaked makeshift cots.   

The shots she calls are complicated.

             She must find me highly dedicated.

She mostly deals with the haves, and I am the have nots!

The rules are anything goes, but no one “knows”.

    If she’s been known to steal the weapon from my overcoat,

    I’ve been quick to remove her clothes.

       I spill  for the thrill of those invited, I can kill on compunction! I still have the will! To activate the full facilities!

Of word play and the use of allegory.

       To execute deliverance of a blue-blood-bleeding testimony?

“A Post Soviet love story?”

    Involving a Chechen Jew peasant and a woman once of Penza now mostly “of night.”  

    It will be of little glory, the way I tell the story.

    “It’s based upon real people. Real blood and real bleeding!”

Of taking, of wanting, of feeding the need. Of fucking and fighting and the will to survive!  

In a City of glass, steel, and greed.

           Real emotional explosions! Her eyes are always so bright.

 She has long since urged me to put down the weapon and give up the fight.

But I have a last name that is easy to place, I could buy some new papers, but not a new face.

They can spot us on site!

It’s the ongoing struggle of those who lead:

“A tragic, unyielding life of night.”  

We’ll sell a sordid tale.

I wish I had found her back when she was nineteen or twenty.

Before she had to do what she did. And does what she still do.

To keep from starving in the shadow of plenty.

My objective and travail. 

Is to recruit the members of this audience into a clandestine apparatus. And harness our collective clandestino.

To force a mighty train to prematurely jump the rail.  

     I wear suspenders with buttons, a Mayakovsky cap, and iron plated under shirts. I dreamed up a plan to get revenge on a man, or a series of men, hit them in their pockets.

Hit them where it hurts.          

    I called her late at night bleeding all over the place.

      She said “Don’t get your bleeding heart on my red carpet.”

And she fixed me midnight supper.          

Herring, beets, Palemni.

        And she wiped the cake of crimson off my bloody Chechen face.         

    (Small talk)   

 “And the snowfall is phenomenal this year.”

She retorts:

 “Don’t get French with me my dear.”

“They really punched yer ticket. Did a number on you in the district, this time.”

          (She loves the way I make the Amerikansky Noire lingo mix out eloquently with a touch of old Fenian rhyme.)

“The pay phone call cannot be traced.”

“The weapons hidden in the drywall. In the space your men replaced.”

“The ice cold taste of 9 proof Baltika is refreshing, albeit haram.”

“Those good patriot informers. Those zombies. Those follow-follow men. They beat me for a fortnight, Demand I sign a grim confession,  

Attesting to the building and or placement of some near but unexploded bomb.”

        “Why can’t you be like normal men?”

 I told her: “I’m hungry for my freedom and I’m never going hungry again!” (Sung)

And she says:

 “I cannot love you if you’re dead.”

“Please put the house in order, Use the lithium. Use Russian Standard Vodka; use my lips if necessary,

To rectify the madness as it expands inside your head.

           I’m not saying that I love you now or later,

Simply I refuse to cater.”

“To all the incidents generated lately when you do not behave.”

“Explain how you plan to court me. YexFrom a black-bag-disappearance.”

“In a frosty, shallow, unmarked open grave.”

        “If you’re going to dedicate, in your exacerbation, ‘Resistance efforts’ to a woman (me) who can only love you out of pity,

“In this bleak and foreign city!”

“Even if the words sound epic, also pretty”

“Fuck it man! You’re doing it again!”

I sigh and then reply:

“Did I tell you lately you’re my dorogaya and if not for loving you. I’d surely be dead a thousand times at the hands of ten thousand lesser men?”

Oh, when last we wrote I spoke of devouring her, for hours.

To tease her.  To please her. To want her. To need her. Amid a bed of hand-picked, Peonies. Or provincial-wild-flowers.

She isn’t one for single serving dancehall roses. She moves too fast for poses.

Her bright eyes beckon as they dart about the room filled with bluff and imitating glee.

“Accelerate your tempo of evacuation! The checkpoints separate the have everythings. From the people who are dressed like you.

“And carry paper work like me.”

     “I suppose you and only you. The woman that I trust and choose. Can entrap these men of business with their whoring,”

“With their endless thirst for further treasure.”

“With long lines of china white running from the mouse trap to their nose. How many slaves does it take to keep this neon play ground running?

“I know via your profession you can undertake a series of transactions.”

“Blonde dynamite distractions.”

Before any know exactly what’s in store. Reduce the need for automatic weapons. Acquire us the proper routes and channels.

And guide us through a tunnel to the vile trading floor.

    She looks at me and rolls her eyes and says in Russian, “Lord have mercy.”

    I said “I don’t have imaginary friends, there ain’t no need to curse me.”

Where we met is unimportant.

Did I mean to enlist her?

I couldn’t resist her.

I had causes and struggle and vengeance and plan.

I shouldn’t have kissed her,

And longed for her touch.

For surely she lays nightly in the arms of some husband, some much lesser man.

“We have become a most curious spectacle lately.”

     “You hate me? Push further.”

“Took you home from the bar stool!”

“Bite me!”

“Kick me! Kill me! Fuck me!”

“Bait me.”

She could have killed me that first night, just with things that she said:

I looked at her once.

And the wheel was turning quickly but the hamster was dead.

The wheel was her cold rationale.

The hamster was the morals that once governed the wheel.

And there were bright lights. That up lit her eyes and whatever that implies.

Separating what she does.

From that which she is still willing to feel.

“You take up so much clock! Blood from a rock!

“I must return to District work which begins at moon rise.”

And the steel trap will slam shut.

And bind me behind those District walls.And the men of that vile district,

    “Will use their credit cards.”

“To pay for my flesh. And access between my thighs.”

              She said “Root for me.”

“I’m going voodoo out tonight. To earn my money in the City.”

         If you truly are my friend,

“Understand that I’ve been hungry and I’m never going hungry again.” (Sung) 

I am looking down the barrel at my pin striped enemy. And the columns we’ve been shaking.

And lives we’re always taking.

I was seeking sweet surrender and I sought it at her feet.

“You think you’re not a target? You pay your taxes don’t you?”

        “Are you blind to their transgressions?”

A cavalcade of charging bulls rampaging down the street!

       Everything from here out, it’s true!

My bones rust, from your stardust, your fairy eyes!

     “I lose myself to you.”

She says, “Oh the things that you might do.”

Our harsh and untenable positions have emboldened us. As we know no one cares or pays attention, or even has a clue.

If we want it bad enough we can get it:

 “For the rest of our lives?”

“We do.”

“Even if that life,” she says, “will last no longer than another day or two.”

“Kiss me. Fight beside me Dorogaia,

Even if to you my name and words are sometimes strange.

For what they do to your body and mind,

     And what they did to my family, to my people.

 “Help us create a major crisis at the Moscow Stock Exchange.”

“You’re crazy,” she said. Your crazy won’t get me dead! We’ll talk about your ridiculous plan in the morning.

“It’s all a slave show.”

“And if you didn’t know. Russians who help rebels aren’t even given a funeral. Much less a warning.”

DARIA:

Encore! Encore! Dedicated to heroic little me! Dasha Andreavna! A true Russian patriot! A hero of the revolution?

SEBASTIAN:

Are you blushing yet woman?

DARIA:

We Russians know not how! I like it very much. When you talk so emotionally, dirty to me in such lyrical poetry? Can I use that phrase ’emotionally dirty?’

SEBASTIAN:

I am capable of just about anything when you believe in the work.

DARIA:

The work!? The history books will again close and say you wrote it all yourself. The narrative, it makes no room for powerful female leadership.

SEBASTIAN:

Our work is important! Giving the people some actual hope. Giving the people in the trenches of America’s greatest uprising something of substance. To finally believe in the inevitable victory. 

DARIA:

How do I bring you back? To the world of the real. 

SEBASTIAN:

You can’t. 

DARIA:

Your homeland is in ashes. You’re the very last of your kind. Your last held cities are completely surrounded. Flying fortresses blacking out the very sky. Marching metal tin men. Killing everything they encounter. Our poems are all lies. Songs about something impossible and never ever to be. Yet, you seem to find in them useful propaganda. To somehow hope these scrolls contain anything besides blasphemous false hope!

SEBASTIAN:

The poems and the codex are the only weapons we have left.

DARIA:

Publishing these, Je ne sais; wild fucking conspiracy theories and varying alternative realities. These delusions of grandeur, well they get a lot of people killed. 

SEBASTIAN:

The clandestine movement is still circulating them with zeal and fascination. 

DARIA:

Written in the antiquated prose of a dead language! Read erratically over the radio?

SEBASTIAN:

Poetry and Martyrs are immortal.

DARIA:

I think all your dead friends have very little use for any more poetry.

SEBASTIAN:

You forget a lot. 

DARIA:

Because it is all so terrible.

SEBASTIAN:

We have already played our part! It absolves us of any further responsibility to any higher cause. We don’t have to get involved ever again. We’re safe!

DARIA:

We’re not safe. We’re only in Purgatory.

SEBASTIAN:

The dead can’t take the dead to sleep. The dead can’t dance to soca.

DARIA:

Remind me! Why again do I still stand by you? It costs me a lot. 

SEBASTIAN:

Story time again?

DARIA:

Tovarish lover. I challenge you right fucking now blat. The Ministry of the Interior wants to know how our poems are coded. The Department of Homeland Security accuses you of course of the highest levels of treason. Thus to your alleged country of origin you will probably never return. Your “Millennium Hostage Crisis”. This one has cost the Oligarchy dearly. The Bureau for Arranging Meetings with God may knock on our door any day now. Remind me again why I’m still even helping you?

SEBASTIAN:

Sweetness, where do we even start?

DARIA:

You can remind me how we met.

SEBASTIAN:

The trouble sweetness, with all your little tales, is that not a single one of them are ever fucking true. Frankly, they’re all quite bleak. Your stories foster a real hopelessness.

DARIA:

The greatest fun with your stories is that so many of them are possibly real. You expose yourself.  To a most serious liability. Your voice is just so fucking loud. Even the bed bugs can inform on you!

SEBASTIAN:

What will be the prize? For a most ‘premium’ story. 

DARIA:

Tonight? I let you call me dorogaya.

SEBASTIAN:

If tonight were to be forever. Were it now, just one long cold evil night. What’s the get you now are after? What’s the goal behind the prize? If the truth is any real prize.

DARIA:

Ah, prosto. The legendary greetings of our cultural context.

I won’t get raped again. That is a good fucking goal blat. And you won’t get tortured for weeks into years on end. Good goal too. Killing things you love in front of you. People you really care about. With their blades, their beatings, gas, current, water fire boards and also sodomy. Cutting small pieces from me and feeding them to you. The people you love most won’t have to get killed this time. In the real world. Maybe they can even sit the long game out. Maybe, you’ll get to bring your city and miserable desert homeland back from the ashes of oblivion. Your whole mischosen people can come back from the dead. Goals upon goals Fuck! Fuck it man, maybe I’ll date you.  For a while. Have a summer fling in Saint Pete. Take a train to endless China. Like you always said you wanted to. If it were a movie. Anything is possible. The truth is a means to such goals.

SEBASTIAN:

What story then tonight dearest?

DARIA:

What you’ve done in my name is very complex. What you’ve seen inside the Ziggurat is hardly small talk in any language.

SEBASTIAN:

What have I done in the name of you? 

DARIA:

A lot of bloody fucking terror. 

SEBASTIAN:

What I saw there? The truth in its innermost parts. 

DARIA:

Liat, Liat. When all the history is finally written. They’ll make you look like a pure lunatic. A fanatical fucking zealot. A real mad man. A terrorist. A perversion. And me, just some whore. At best a hapless muse! Note the role of women in all men’s tales.

SEBASTIAN:

What have I done?

DARIA:

Enough.

    Suddenly she kisses him hard. Reminds him for an instant of what he’s fought and still is fighting for. She pulls away. For a small tiny moment he smiles inside and ourside.

SEBASTIAN: 

One more night!

DARIA:

It is a shame that it all must end.

          She blows a powder into his face and the story begins again. To the sounds of trumpets and rattling machine gun fire.