The hallway of an average flat. We see the front door, shoe cupboard, some jackets hanging on the wall and a few pairs of shoes.
Nenad is lying on the hallway floor. He is lying on his back, with his hands under his head. Next to him there is a telephone, whose flex leads up to the shoe cupboard, which is its usual place.
Nenad lies there motionless for a short time, and then begins to talk to himself, slowly.
NENAD: I knew at once that it was Dario. Not because I was expecting something like that to happen, or because it was actually Dario’s building, but because of the sole of his foot. “A short while ago they carried someone out of the building next to the park”, my father told me yesterday. “Wrapped in a blanket. Only the sole of one foot was visible.”
He lets out a deep sigh and continues.
NENAD: I knew at once that it was Dario. Clearly before my eyes I could see the sole of one foot, metallic yellow and shiny, raised defiantly like Dario’s head with its pointed beard, a sole that hadn’t managed to remain still beneath the blanket. Permanently unable to raise his head, Dario had looked over the sole of one foot and had grinned at this world one last time. He had lain there motionless and laughed at the nonsensical movement around him, that amateur performance in which he himself had once appeared, and one more time, even though he was only an actor, he had changed the script.
Another sigh and a slightly longer pause.
NENAD: And so, at last, one of my friends has died. I have to admit that I had secretly wanted something like that to happen, because I’d hoped it would bring me closer to Anya, whose numerous friends had died and who had seemed from time to time to reproach me because mine were still alive. And last night, after a long time, I did actually embrace Anya.
A short pause.
NENAD: Maybe it was because of this, or because of the final laughter from his sole, I don’t feel sad about Dario’s death. In fact I don’t think about him now because of Dario himself, but because his death has joined together my farewell and renewed meeting with Anya, just as the simple music of an acoustic guitar gathers together the medley of words above it.
Nenad lies motionless for a few more moments and then sits up and crosses his legs beneath him. He picks up the telephone, lifts the receiver and dials a number. We hear the ringing tone.
FEMALE VOICE: Yes?
NENAD: Anya, is that you?
FEMALE VOICE: Yes, it is.
NENAD: What are you doing?
ANYA’S VOICE: Nothing. I’ve just got up.
NENAD: Me too… Errrm…
The line starts breaking up and they lose their connection.
NENAD: It must be something to do with the post office.
He dials the number again. We hear the ringing tone. After ringing five times in Anya’s flat he puts the receiver down, but then picks it up again immediately and dials the number once more. This time he waits for it to ring eight times before putting down the receiver.
Nenad stares at the telephone for a few moments, motionless, and then rests his elbows on his knees and buries his face in his hands. He remains in this position for a few minutes. Then he picks up the receiver once again and dials the number. We hear the ringing tone.
ANYA’S VOICE: Yes?
NENAD: Anya, is that you?
ANYA’S VOICE: Yes, Nenad, it’s me,.
NENAD: What happened?
ANYA’S VOICE: The electricity gets cut off every five minutes and my phone’s gone completely bonkers.
NENAD: What’s the telephone got to do with the electricity supply?
ANYA’S VOICE: Here at the crossroads it’s a madhouse. The traffic lights only work when they have a mind to.
NENAD: I thought you’d cut me off. Here, I’ve been saying to myself: “It’s quite true that she’s not normal.”
ANYA’S VOICE (affectionately): Is that what you say about me?
NENAD: How should I know…? Anyway, are we going to see each other today?
ANYA’S VOICE: Let’s make it tomorrow.
NENAD: Well… O.K.
ANYA’S VOICE: Don’t be angry with me.
NENAD: I’m not angry with you… So shall we phone each other?
ANYA’S VOICE: Yes, let’s.
NENAD: O.K. then…’Bye.
ANYA’S VOICE: ‘Bye.
Nenad puts down the receiver and for a while stares vacantly at the wall in front of him. Then he picks up the receiver again and dials a number. We hear the ringing tone.
MALE VOICE: Hello?
Nenad does not answer.
MALE VOICE: Hello, who is it?
Nenad still says nothing.
MALE VOICE: Look, find someone else to fuck around with, will you?
NENAD: Who’s that?
MALE VOICE: Nenad, is that you?
MALE VOICE: Yes. Look, you called me.
NENAD: Are you… …alive?
DARIO’S VOICE: Sort of. I’ve just got up. My head’s splitting.
NENAD: I thought you were dead. My old man saw someone being carried out of your building… So it wasn’t you?
DARIO’S VOICE: No. Mind you, at the moment I feel almost like that chap.
Dario laughs and Nenad lets out a short, nervous laugh.
DARIO’S VOICE: So, how are you?
DARIO’S VOICE: Really?
NENAD: Well, you know… Fine.
DARIO’S VOICE: Are you sure?
NENAD: Yes, I’m sure.
DARIO’S VOICE: But, could be better? (The same, friendly laugh.)
NENAD: Yes. (Begins to laugh together with Dario.) Yes, could be better.
Originally published in BCS (Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian) in Par grama drama (A Few Grams of Drama) in 2010. Translated by Timothy John Byford. Translation copyright by Kosta Tadic.