MAIN MENU

Dessert

APPLES

Characters

Petkutin

First Stonemason

Second Stonemason

Actor (later plays The Apple)

Actress (actually a man, later plays the Virgin Mary)

The River Jordan

The Golden Ram (actor wrapped in a golden fleece)


(Takes place in an ancient theater by the Danube in the 17th century. (Two stonemasons are carving the names of Petkutin and Kalina on the tombstones. Working by the light of two small lanterns they are running behind schedule. The tombstones stand in front of the ancient theater, whose seats can be detected in the background.)

FIRST STONEMASON
Is your name long? Will you finish by this evening?

SECOND STONEMASON
It’s not so long. Kalina.

FIRST STONEMASON
Of course. Your fingers always smell of women.

SECOND STONEMASON
They say she was torn apart by the dead….

FIRST STONEMASON
Well, they’re older. In the beginning there was death. Prehistoric death, older than man and born before birth...

SECOND STONEMASON
And your name today, is it long?

FIRST STONEMASON
It’s male. And male names are harder. Pet ku tin.

SECOND STONEMASON
What happened to your man?

FIRST STONEMASON
They say all sorts of things about him.

SECOND STONEMASON
They want to get into the house by going under the sill? What do they say, for God’s sake?

FIRST STONEMASON
They say he wasn’t human.

SECOND STONEMASON
Out of the question.

FIRST STONEMASON
Why is it out of the question?

SECOND STONEMASON
Because only the living can die. Somebody who isn’t alive cannot die. That’s impossible!

FIRST STONEMASON
Do you want to see for yourself that Petkutin wasn’t human?

SECOND STONEMASON
Certainly. I low?

FIRST STONEMASON
It’s simple. Look in his grave.

SECOND STONEMASON
His grave? That’s where the devil marries.

FIRST STONEMASON
He’s not there. Petkutin’s grave is empty. Like a mouth without wine.

SECOND STONEMASON
Good God! What happens to his kind then? Where are they Put? Neither two strokes of luck nor two lives can a man have.

FIRST STONEMASON
That is why I am telling you that Petkutin isn’t human. He’s just a body without a soul. They say his kind always returns to this world. Whenever the church bell rings three times. They roam around, searching for a soul for their body. (Frightened, the two stonemasons look around them.)

SECOND STONEMASON
You know what? Let’s split them up. You do one letter for me and I’ll pay you back the first chance we get.

SECOND STONEMASON
You mean a letter on loan?

FIRST STONEMASON
On loan.

SECOND STONEMASON
But let it be a female, not a male letter. I prefer carving female names.

FIRST STONEMASON
All right. You’ll get a female letter. Now let’s get down to work. And be careful! Many a man has been burned by female beauty. (The two work on the same tombstone, Petkutin’s. Actors appear, carrying a tent and props for the crèche. They are preceded by two shining stars in the sky, leading them like kites on a string. The stonemasons are terrified.)

ACTOR
Does anybody here want to see our play? We are actors and have just arrived. Tomorrow we move on.

SECOND STONEMASON
Have a good journey!

ACTRESS
Anybody else here apart from you?

SECOND STONEMASON
Other than these two deceased, nobody. Unless you think they’ll commission a performance from you? (Tweaks the Actress’s breast, slips his hand under her blouse and, in amazement, pulls out an apple. Takes a bite out of the apple.)

ACTRESS
All that glitters is not gold. All that gladdens need not well bode!

ACTOR
Whoever commissions it, as long as he pays, can expect splendid acting.

FIRST STONEMASON
And what purpose does your acting serve’? 1, for instance, serve the dead and earn my living off them. And you’?

ACTRESS
We live off of dead writers and living spectators. Spectators like you, who are quick to spit and slow to lick up.

ACTOR
Man has a contract with God. God gives him only a 40th part of his life to use. The remaining sixty parts go back to God unused. Now we thespians and players can conjure up for you the sixty unused parts of your life.

FIRST STONEMASON
We are finishing up here. As soon as we collect our tools and read the Psalm we’re off and you can recite your lines to whomever you want. (Collects the tools.)

ACTOR
No, you are not off, damn it! You will pay for the show and watch it or else this cudgel will be put to work!

BOTH STONEMASONS
(Kneeling in fear and reading the Psalm) “I waited patiently for the Lord, and He inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings...” (The nearby church bell rings three times and Petkutin enters the ancient theater. The stonemasons and actors watch in astonishment.)

PETKUTIN
Once life vanished we awoke To a life to us not given. As from a copse we emerged dazed, Amidst the familiar places amazed Their hour our young flesh had grazed... (Sneezes) (To the actors) So, you’ve arrived, have you’?

ACTOR
We have, but where did you breeze in from’?

PETKUTIN
At the first ring I was in India, at the second in Leipzig, and with the third ring I entered my own body.

ACTOR
Wait a minute! Who’s putting on this show here, you or we?

PETKUTIN
(Walks over to Kalina’s tombstone) “I think, my love, that that was an underhanded, rotten way to behave!” (Walks over to the stone in the middle of the theater, where he left his money before being torn to pieces. Picks up the coins.) I shall hire you and so it is only right that I should pay you. Do you know a play called The Crèche?

ACTOR
Now that’s a different matter. You’ve chosen a rather strange place and time for it. The Crèche is a Christmas play; this is the wrong season, but never mind. He who holds the goblet, names the prayer.

PETKUTIN
(Gives the money to the actors) One, two, three, four, five coins!

ACTRESS
What’s wrong, you look pale.

PETKUTIN
Haven’t you heard? We had a death ill the family.

ACTRESS
No we didn’t hear. Who died?

PETKUTIN
What do you mean who? Can’t you see’? Why, I did. We’ve already had the forty-day commemoration. And I had just gotten married...

ACTOR
I had a wife too ... It was spring in her soul, autumn in mine, and then the same bird flew through both our souls ... Did she love you very much’?

PETKUTIN
Yes she did, but that’s not the point.

ACTRESS
What is the point?

PETKUTIN
She tore me apart and devoured me. She, Kalina, the only human being I ever loved.

ACTRESS
It happened, as the Hungarians say… Why’? Were you perhaps too sweet?

PETKUTIN
It was a sort of bet. A bet as to whether I am or am not a man. Whether I am or am not a human being.

ACTOR
(With a dose of fear) Well are you or aren’t you’?

PETKUTIN
It looked as though I was, although I am not. I am here, and my grave is over there. I am Petkutin. From that tombstone. (The Actor and the Stonemasons cross themselves and retreat from Petkutin in superstitious fear. They huddle together.) Don’t be afraid, I don’t pose any danger to you.

ACTRESS
You don’t? Then who does?

PETKUTIN
Those who are like you. Every human being, alive or dead. They’ll devour you the way they did me! They’ll infect and destroy you as they did me!

ACTRESS
How?

PETKUTIN
Don’t you perform The Crèche?

ACTOR
We do.

PETKUTIN
Isn’t your Crèche the one with the two stars where wood, water and beast, not people, present their gifts to the newborn Christ?

ACTOR
It is.

PETKUTIN
Well, perform it then! (With a sweeping wave of his hand he signals for them to begin. Two stars appear in the sky and come to stage center, where a tent has been pitched. Inside the tent are the Virgin Mary and, in the crib, the Baby Jesus. The crib is approached by The Golden Ram (the Actor wrapped in a rough blanket), a second Actor carrying a glass of water, i.e. the River Jordan, and the Actress covered in leaves, carrying two real apples on her breast.)

VIRGIN MARY
A church I shall build from the stars White doors for the church from the Moon Icons I shall draw with my eyes The liturgy I shall sing by heart On horse to the church I shall come From the horse unlock it with my spear….

RIVER JORDAN
(Holding up a book) This is the Old Testament, the future blood of Christ. The blood of this newborn child lying in the crib. He has a Father in heaven, but no Mother.

APPLE
(Holding up another book) This is the New Testament, the future body of Christ. The body of this newborn child lying in the crib. Here on earth he has a Mother, but no Father.

RAM
He shall expiate all human sins future and past, he shall expiate original sin!

PETKUTIN
(Joining in) That does not mean that he shall save me as well! Or you, water. Or you, plant. Or you, animal! RAM What do you mean?

PETKUTIN
We are not of the human ilk. We do not carry original sin; we were not expelled from Paradise. Christ is not embodied in an apple, in water, or in the Golden Fleece. We elude his cosmic power of redemption because we are exempted from the calculations of sin and should live our own lives. Why should we atone for the sins of others? What are we doing here?

FIRST STONEMASON
Wait a minute! As a man I too wonder what we are doing here. Just look man can consume bread, pants, socks and hate in immeasurable quantities. And there’s never enough. Yet there’s more of everything else in the world, more wisdom and beauty than we can consume. You who are not man, you who have a father on earth but no mother, tell us who we are and why we humans are here.

PETKUTIN
You are here in this part of the universe because time has learned to stop still. If you realize that Eternity descends from God and that time comes from Satan, you will understand that at a certain point there comes the “golden mean” between Eternity and time. At that point time stops for an instant so that it might be blessed by Eternity and that is your “present moment”. You people are here on Earth because in this part of the universe time stops and allows you this way of life. But there is also polluted time, which does not manage to intercross with Eternity and is thus deprived of blessing and stoppage, it is deprived of your present and is therefore fruitless, barren time. In this part of the universe no one can survive. But you don’t care about that. Because you have polluted the Earth with crimes, you have infected the plant, the water and the animal and now want to go farther and pollute the stars as well. We bid you farewell. We shall follow our star, not yours. There we shall find our new soul. And we shall love it forever. And a day. Farewell to people! (Petkutin takes from the Actors the glass of water and the apples, wraps himself up in the Golden Fleece and rises to join the other star, which breaks away from the Earth, becomes ever brighter and carries him off into the infinite heights of the universe.)