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Kennedy's Crimes




ACT I
 
(Main office of "Vidriovencol Limitada". To the right, three chairs and a desk, on which there is a telephone, a stapler, a glass filled with pens and pencils, a typing machine and a glass of yoghurt. A dusty and colourless photography of an far-right leader hangs from the wall behind. Another desk stands at the centre of the stage. A typing machine and some sheets of paper are scattered over it.

(To the left a small table on which there are teacups, teaspoons, napkins and a coffee maker. A close cupboard stands underneath, besides a heavy filing cabinet.)

(There are two entrances: one to the left, which communicates to the street and doña Porcia's bureau, and another to the right, which goes to the main workshop. A chilling sound of drills and metallic saws will be heard along the play with varying intensity.)

(Slender 35-year-old AMINTA types notes out of small, greasy pieces of paper. She tries to avoid any contact with them —to no avail. A copy of the newspaper LA ERA lies on the floor.)
(Middle-age HUMBERTO enters. His face betrays certain anxiety.)
 
HUMBERTO. — And the old cow?
AMINTA. — She went with Eliana to the Tennis Club. They may come back at any moment.
HUMBERTO. — I'm so afraid.
AMINTA. — I don't like to see you marauding in my office.
HUMBERTO. — It stinks.
AMINTA. —It's the new detergent, and it doesn't stink. It's lavender.

(Humberto takes out a tiny key, unlocks the cupboard, sneaks out a tiny plastic bag and a sugar cup. He prepares a cup of coffee.)
 
AMINTA. — How is your son?
HUMBERTO. —He didn't sleep last night, it seems.
AMINTA. — Is the army going to take him?

(Humberto picks up the newspaper and peruses it.)

AMINTA. —I asked you whether the army is going to take your son.
HUMBERTO. — Most probably. His flat feet are no longer a valid excuse.
AMINTA. —Did you talk to don Marino?
HUMBERTO. —Not yet... We'll take care of that business today.
AMINTA. — (Happy) We? Is Kennedy going to visit us today?
HUMBERTO. —It’s about time for him to learn to speak for himself. His mother spoils him too much. Sometimes I wonder whether she still does his homework. Were he the president of this country she would be writing his speeches. (Pause.) Do you remember Edelmiro?
AMINTA. — It rings a bell. Did we fire him for forging a coffee bill?
HUMBERTO. — I hate to hear you conjugating the verbs in such a way, as if we were the owners of this bloody company. Anyway, Edelmiro quit his former job just to become a villain. You can see his picture here, in the crime page.
AMINTA. — What did he do? Did he rob a bank?
HUMBERTO. — Worse than that. Shot down in combat against the army! (Pause.) I would like to emigrate to the US.
AMINTA. — The US? Why not to Japan? They pay better salaries, I heard.
 
(65-year-old MARINO enters grabbing a heavy suitcase.)

MARINO. —Has anyone called me?
AMINTA. —Nobody, don Marino. It's no seven thirty yet.
MARINO. — I need your desk.
AMINTA. — Why don't you use your own?
MARINO. — Yours is more comfortable. Everything is handy.
AMINTA. — (disdainful) As long as you don't smoke...
 
(Marino sits down in front of the desk. He takes out a couple of documents from his suitcase and writes on them.)
 
MARINO. —I quit smoking long time ago. Another of my grandchild's great achievements. She asked me to quit smoking, so I did it. That simple. I still wonder whether it was by her own initiative or her mum's. You wouldn’t had been able to refuse my little girl’s pouts.  Would you believe that Carmen wasn't able to persuade me to quit smoking for almost fifty years?
AMINTA. — You got married young, don Marino.
MARINO. — I was only fifteen, darling.
HUMBERTO. — (to Aminta) Don't flirter with don Marino, Aminta. Doña Carmen is a jealous woman.

(Aminta laughs.)

MARINO. — (to Humberto) May I ask you what are you doing outside your workshop? I don’t want to be here when doña Porcia catches you sneaking out her tea.(Humberto serves a cup of coffee to Marino.)
 
HUMBERTO. — Then she will bully me and fire me as she has done with so many others.
 
(Marino accepts the cup of coffee.)
 
MARINO. —Thanks. What about this other scenario: doña Porcia learns that her dearest daughter, her only daughter, Eliana, expects a baby from a working-class boy, the son, let’s imagine it, of one of her employees. Porcia suffers a heart attack and dies. So, Eliana and her coming-out-of-the-blue lover inherit Porcia’s fortune, and that employee, that’s to say, the father of that lover, becomes a supervisor. Yes! He becomes our boss.
HUMBERTO. — (angry) You have a dirty mind!
MARINO. — Is it dirty to say what is in everybody’s minds?
AMINTA. — (to Marino) Do you mean that Eliana and Kennedy...?
MARINO. — I saw them at the main entrance of the Five Senses Motel.
HUMBERTO. —I wonder what were you doing IN that motel.
MARINO. — I wonder what do you know ABOUT that motel.
AMINTA. — (swift) Eliana will harm him. That girl has a heart of tart.
MARINO. — Do you mean, a heart of stone?

(Aminta types on her machine.)

AMINTA. — Her mother has nerves to stand such a spoiled creature. Eliana is a whimsical, saucy and naughting girl.
MARINO. — «Naughty girl», Aminta.
AMINTA. — Whatever.
MARINO. — With that use of the language you won't go far, sweet heart. (To Humberto) There is no reason to be ashamed, Humberto. Surely, all we are happy to know that our boss' daughter has fallen in love with one of us. That makes us feel better; rewarded, somehow. Your son's pleasures are our own. After all we all eat of the same shit. Because the Five Senses motel is an expensive one. Kennedy is, who to put it? our Colombian Casanova.
HUMBERTO. —(unconvinced) No doubt about that, no doubt.
MARINO. —There you are.
HUMBERTO. — I wanted to ask you a favour don Marino.
MARINO. —Of course. What is it?
HUMBERTO. — The army wants to get my son.
MARINO. — Uh! Good! They need young men in the front.
HUMBERTO. —Yes, they need arms and legs to detonate the mines left by the rebels in the oil fields.
MARINO. — Oh, yes. You can look at that that way if you want.
HUMBERTO. — I'm a patriot, as you well know, but the situation is just getting worse. Did you read about Edelmiro's dead?
MARINO. — I heard his name in the radio this morning, yes. Wasn't he shot?
HUMBERTO. — He became a guerrilla criminal!
MARINO. — Well done then. We knew him as a thief, do you remember? He has just got what he was looking for.
HUMBERTO.— He had a beautiful girl friend, with green eyes.
MARINO. — (Ironic) Beautiful? Oh, yes, I saw her on the street, at night, not long ago. I even get her a tip, for some silent words.
AMINTA. — You are such a swine!

(Humberto laughs. Marino looks at Aminta with irritation.)

MARINO. —Are the accounting books ready?

 (Aminta stops typing.)AMINTA. — Since Monday.  I've checked them already several times.

(Aminta stands up.)

AMINTA. —And, don Marino, next time you want to get rid of intruders, please, just let me know. I would like you to spare me all your filthy stories. Besides, I smell your private business better than anyone else. But, never mind. Embezzlements are not my main concern at all.(Aminta exits. Marino approaches Humberto.)
 
MARINO. — Aren't they?
HUMBERTO. — Pardon me?
MARINO. — (after a pause) My brother-in-law's cousin may help Kennedy to get out of this trouble.
HUMBERTO. — How much?
MARINO. — One hundred thousand pesos. Authentic. I don't deal with crooks.
HUMBERTO. — You know well I only get fifty thousand pesos per month, don Marino.
MARINO. —For ten thousand pesos I can keep Kennedy away from the front. They won't send him to combat, and his mother won't have to worry about those awful mines.
 
(Humberto laughs nervously.)

HUMBERTO. — I don't want to see him polishing some colonel's shoes neither.
MARINO. — (chuckling.) You are too demanding, Humberto.  Let me be frank with you. Do you know how our Lord Jesus Christ called all businessmen in the Temple of Jerusalem before his dead?
HUMBERTO. — Serpents.
MARINO. — No! Thieves. So, I will redeem my soul from a couple of sins by not being a businessman today. I will be honest. This cousin of mine offers me a kickback of twenty thousand pesos for each military card. You are a hard-working man, and I’m not so inhuman as to let you sacrifice your only son for a bunch of fat-cat, corrupted politicians. I will issue Kennedy's military card for ninety thousand pesos.
HUMBERTO. —I can't get them, honestly.
MARINO. — You have hurt my feelings, Humberto. I'm not working for charity. I also have my own needs. The inflation has increased.
HUMBERTO. — (dishearten) Thanks, don Marino…
MARINO. —Another way to solve Kennedy’s problems would be by letting him father a son.
HUMBERTO. —I don't argue about your kickback. It's fair, don Marino. If you help me now, I promise you, I will pay you on December, when I get my bonus.
MARINO. — Your bonus? How could I forget it! But I'm not a banker. Do you take me for an idiot?
HUMBERTO. — Of course, not.
MARINO. — So tell me, Humberto, does your wife work?
HUMBERTO. — At home.
MARINO. —It's a pity to see you toiling day and night, getting extra money to pay  for the education of your three children. For a single salary is never good enough, I know. Why don't you start your own company, Humberto? Think of Aminta; she is an unhappy wife, attractive still. If I were in your shoes I would propose her to take advantage of her position.
HUMBERTO. —Would you?
MARINO. —Your wife is getting old. And Aminta is an ambitious woman. Have you realised the way she looks at you? Her hands tremble each time you cross under the sill of that door. I still remember her insistence in calling your wife to inquire about your health.  That was last year, when you got meningitis.
HUMBERTO. —Hepatitis.
MARINO. — Thanks. She used to update us each morning about the ups and downs of your liver.
HUMBERTO. —I am fine now.
MARINO. —Thank God! Doña Porcia was quite impressed by Aminta's passionate diligence. After such an episode, how can I avoid getting a little bit suspicious about you both?
HUMBERTO. — I wasn't born yesterday, don Marino. In any event, I love my wife.
MARINO. —Do you? Pity, because the financial organisation of this firm relies very much on your shoulders.
(Pause.)
MARINO. — I would never denounce you, of course. But I would like to get a piece of the cake.
HUMBERTO. — I don't know what you are talking about, don Marino.
MARINO. — Let me tell you something else. Do you know in which way doña Porcia made her fortune?
HUMBERTO. — I’m listening.
MARINO. — Smuggling eggs from Venezuela.
HUMBERTO. — Risky business.
MARINO. — Risky business? That's illegal. She broke the law!
HUMBERTO. — Cut the crap, don Marino! What are eggs in comparison to arms or cocaine?
MARINO. —She broke the law, nonetheless.
HUMBERTO. — I guess we break it every day, some way or another, don't we?
MARINO. — We? That's too many people.
HUMBERTO. — Let me put things clear. I'm an honest man, don Marino.
MARINO. —True. You’ve never stolen a bakery. You’ve never been in jail.HUMBERTO. — (upset) What the hell? That trial was a farce. I was only 15, for God’s sake! I was innocent.
MARINO. — There is no need for you to be upset.
HUMBERTO. — What was that? A piece of bread! I took it just for fun! Jesus! My father always told me that he would rather see me in a coffin than in jail.
MARINO. — Now I can clearly understand Kennedy's fate. Don't get me wrong, please. Once hundred thousand pesos! What’s that, after all? You won’t have to sell your daughter on the street to get them.
 
(Aminta enters. She holds two heavy notebooks, which she hands out to don Marino.)
 
AMINTA. — Two doctors from the tax bureau are looking for you, don Marino.
MARINO. — (ironic) The doctors!
(Marino grasps his documents and exits.)

HUMBERTO. — What about the old cow?
AMINTA. — She just came in, with Eliana.
 
(Humberto cleans the cups of tea and locks them hastily in the cupboard.)
 
PORCIA. — (O.S.) You'll have to make a choice. You either take lessons in the dance school, or you come to work with me, at my office, every afternoon. 
ELIANA. — (O.S.) Come on, Mother! The university swimming team needs me!

(55-year old PORCIA enters. ELIANA follows her.)
 
PORCIA. — Nobody is really needed in this world. If the Pharisees were able to get rid of our saviour, you can with better grounds, get rid of those gold-diggers.
ELIANA. — Gold-diggers?
PORCIA. — I'm talking about that pretty-face fitness man—that lusty pig. I caught him the other day looking at your butt.
ELIANA. —Raúl is a married man!
PORCIA. — (smiling, to Aminta) Starting today, Eliana will help us once again. I want you to take note of the time my daughter spends in this office (to Humberto) Did our boys already finish the showers' screens for the Country School for English Ladies?
HUMBERTO. — (hesitating) I think... so.
AMINTA. — (passing to Humberto a sheet of paper) Doña Porcia is talking about another section. I apologise, doña Porcia, but don Marino has kept me busy preparing the accounting books for the tax office inspectors.
(Eliana changes the batteries of her walkman.)
 
PORCIA. — I told you yesterday evening that that work couldn't wait. Do you think that those ladies are going to take their showers without a screen? They are not lesbians, for God's sake!
AMINTA. —Don Marino...
PORCIA. — Don't blame another soul!
 
(Silence. Porcia looks at Humberto, who takes a note and exits.)
 
PORCIA. —You give too much importance to don Marino.
AMINTA. — Yes, but
PORCIA. —He is my subordinate. I'm the boss. At what time did that lazy bitter pig arrive today?
AMINTA. —On time.
PORCIA. — Sure! Did you arrange my appointment with Doctor Ardila?
AMINTA. — (nervous) His line was busy.
PORCIA. — There you are! I clearly told you yesterday what to do with his void cheque.

(Pause)

PORCIA. — What are you waiting for?

(Aminta looks trembling for her phonebook.)
 
PORCIA. — Another wasted morning! You are just another overpaid useless menial worker! They will suck me to the bone! Thank God my loans keep me afloat! And the legislation of this country backs them up! I  just don't fire you because I don't want to see you again begging on the street with a broken jaw.
(Aminta burst into tears.)
PORCIA. —Splendid! Scream louder! That way you'll tell everybody that I'm an ogress!
(Porcia wheezes and exits. Eliana approaches the door, looks outside and comes back.)
 
ELIANA. —She went to meet the tax office inspectors.
(Aminta calms down and takes a sip from her yoghurt glass.)
 
ELIANA. — What did she say about your broken jaw? Was it serious?
 
AMINTA. — I just got it dislocated once. But you know how excited your mother gets with my account of Francisco's assaults.
ELIANA. — What a beast!
AMINTA. — He's a maniac, a gambler and an alcoholic.  You don't know what I'd give to geld him.
ELIANA. — To geld him?
AMINTA. — Men are like dogs: angry and violent by nature. But with the help of a surgeon, that's to say, with the extraction of two tiny pieces of flesh, they can be so lovely
ELIANA. — You men, the dogs?
AMINTA. — Now I rarely see him -  which is a relief, for when he is at home he wants me to watch all those nasty films he gests from God knows where!
ELIANA. — You can get those films in any video store. But don't take me wrong. I just watch them. I have not even started my erotic stage, as my professor of philosophy told me once.
(Eliana takes a calculator and proceeds to do a few calculations which she carefully records on a sheet of paper.)
 
AMINTA. — Anyone who hears you might think otherwise.
ELIANA. —I have already told you that many of my class-mates have sex with their boyfriends, and even some of my mother's friends with, what they call, their protectors. My mother doesn't know about that or she just simply doesn't want to know it. It's poverty, the decline of our well-off class once they have lost their means. Don't get me wrong. Although I have been caressed by many of my boy friends, I am still a virgin… (She writes) Not only out of devotion, but because I have not been in love yet . (She writes) Let me see. Half a mile each week…
AMINTA. — (pungent) And Kennedy?
ELIANA. —(Very quickly, with a desire to disguise her surprise) So, are we talking about six inches?
AMINTA. —More or less.
ELIANA. — Approximately, then. At a rhythm of twice per second that renders twelve, for an estimate of one feet per second, and for a subtotal of sixty feet per minute.
 
(Aminta telephones.)
 
AMINTA. — I've got such a headache...
ELIANA. — The sexual act last three minutes—my classmates have timed it several times—that renders a second subtotal of one hundred eighty feet per act. Make fifteen acts per week and, surely, you may even get more than half a mile. Two miles per month, twenty four per years.
AMINTA. — (speaking on the phone) Doctor Ardila? It's Miss Díaz, from Vidriovencol limited speaking.  How do you do?... The reason for which I call you is that one of your cheques was bounced… Doña Porcia wants to set up an appointment with you, yes… and don't forget my request… I will give her the message. Thanks... Bye.
 
(Aminta hangs up. Eliana hands her the paper but Aminta ignores her.)

ELIANA. —Can you tell me why did you ask me about Kennedy?
AMINTA. —Someone has seen you with him in a one-hour motel.
ELIANA. — Lies.
AMINTA. — Just what I feared. You don't need to be cautious with me, Eliana. Our parents were superstitious peasants, as you told me once, and it's obvious that amongst  Sanctity and Sin they'd rather choose hypocrisy. But let me advise you. Are you using any form of contraception?
ELIANA. —I'm a virgin—I already told you.
AMINTA. —You can rely on me. Do you know that the army is about to take Kennedy in, and the only exit he has from this situation is by becoming a father?
ELIANA. — (sarcastically) I'm so ignorant. Thanks for enlightening me, Aminta.
AMINTA. — His father doesn't have the money to buy him a military exception—that's what he told me.
ELIANA. — (bitter) I don't blame him. I heard Humberto has a mistress.

(Pause)

AMINTA. — Kennedy is a good young man, but he can be so rebel. And, do you know what most rebels do in their early youth? The seduce and spouse wealthy girls.
ELIANA. — Only them , of course.
AMINTA. — Aren't you afraid, then?
ELIANA. — The military service will do him some good. I'm sure of that. In the worst scenario they will send him to the Middle East. Kennedy tells me that over there military quarters are as luxurious as in any 5-star hotel.
AMINTA. — And do you believe him? First of all, if he wants to go the Middle east he must speak English well. Second, if he goes -let's suppose, he's going to be sent to the front upon his arrival, where he will be killed in one or two days.  But never mind, Though he is very clever, he was hardly able to pass his final exams, and his English pronunciation is quite difficult to understand. Contrary to your opinion, I don't think that he really wants to be taken by the army. I suspect him capable of anything in order to avoid conscription.
ELIANA. —Your bitterness is getting on my nerves, Aminta.  Does this menial job as a secretary makes you so unhappy? You are not the only one carrying a buckle of shit in his hands, believe me! Nobody—even not my mother, enjoys working in this place, assuming nonsensical responsibilities. I despise people who think too little ant to talk too much. Caligula would have gladly cut their insidious tongues at once.  And you know what's the saddest thing? That I still would like to respect you. I'm a virgin, whether you like it or not. And if I'm not, well, that's my private life and mine alone. Have I expressed myself clearly?
 
(Aminta sobs as she types.)
 
AMINTA. —I didn't want to upset you, Eliana. I'm sorry.(Aminta stares at her.)

ELIANA. —(laughing) I'm sure you have work to do. Let's just forget it. Are you all right?

(Doña Porcia enters holding a document. Marino follows her.
ENRIQUETA and DANIELA, government employees, stride in.)
 
PORCIA. — (coarse) Say hello to Daniela and Enriqueta. (Sickly sweet) This is the administrative bureau, where don Marino mediates between my office and the assembly plant.   Aminta, my secretary; and this is Eliana, my only child. 
ELIANA. — Are you the doctors from the tax office?
ENRIQUETA. — (ignoring Eliana's question, patronising) What a pretty girl! What lovely eyes! Where is your father?
ELIANA. — At supper. Not where he eats, but where he's eaten.
PORCIA. — (apologetic) He died long time ago.
ENRIQUETA. — I'm so sorry. (To Porcia) Does your daughter come often to work in this office?
PORCIA. —During her holidays. Eliana possesses the talent, energy and disposition of a successful businesswoman.
ENRIQUETA. — How I envy you! My husband and I have a travel agency, but none of us has been able to persuade our daughters to come to help us—not even by threats. (Noticing the walkman) What do you listen to?
ELIANA. — Classics.
ENRIQUETA. —You are a cultivated woman. They always put me to sleep.
PORCIA. — Eliana never sleeps during te day.
ENRIQUETA. — Never?
PORCIA. —Her hard-working ancestor's blood run through her veins. On her holidays, it is my daughter who is in charge of our retail sales. Eliana is quite good at math. Yes!  She is a polymath. That’s how her teachers call her.
 
(Enriqueta picks up the sheet of paper upon which Eliana sketched some calculations.)
 
ENRIQUETA. — And what do we have here? The calculation of a recent sale?
AMINTA. —(ironic) If people pay in miles.
ENRIQUETA. —. One thousand per week…
DANIELA. — (to Porcia) Can the citizen show us the balance sheet?
MARINO. — Here it is, my dear.
 
(Marino advances and places it open on the desk. Daniela peruses it. Enriqueta scrutinises the office with a contempt only suitable to badly paid employees.)

DANIELA. —I'm not dear and I’m not yours. My name is doctor Daniela Contreras.
MARINO. —Pardon me, Mrs. Contreras. At my age eyes are deceiving.
DANIELA. —Would you be so kind as to call me doctor? If the citizen doesn't feel uncomfortable...
MARINO. — (sickly sweet) Does the doctor held a university degree?
DANIELA. — How dare you to ask me such a question? What do you take me for? A pretender?
MARINO. — Well, to be honest with you, yes

(Eliana laughs.)

DANIELA. — You are disgracing yourself! Aren’t you afraid of our laws?
MARINO. — Well, to be honest with you, no.

(Eliana laughs.)

DANIELA. — I promise you I would do my best to laugh with you, together, pretty soon.
MARINO. — I was just teasing you. I‘m so sorry.
DANIELA. —Save your sorrows for yourself. For now it is your duty to recognise me as an envoy of our government. You should address me by my title, whether you like it or not. (To Porcia) I see that your business has endured serious setbacks for the past six months.
MARINO. — Unfortunately. To be precise, since the start of the new taxing year.
PORCIA. — After the US decertified our economy, the value of the real state has almost collapse. I blame the merchants from Venezuela. We should have never opened that frontier. And now all our medicaments are imported from Ecuador. My God! Who would have believed that  of the fourteen employees I had last year now I only have ten?
ENRIQUETA. —If your loses continue in such a way you will have to close down your business by the end of next month.(Silence. Porcia moves quietly before the general amazement. Daniela continues perusing the balance sheet.)

PORCIA. —It is true. My enemies have brought me to the verge of a mental breakdown. Yesterday, for instance, we lost a substantial business. I had estimated a work for ten million pesos, but SOTRACOL offered to do it for five. Half my price! It's the bloody money laundering. I'm an honest woman who hardly remains afloat with dignity in this sea of pirates and sharks. I have turned down villainy of all kinds: illicit exports from Argentina, contracts with the dead, liqueur and weapon smuggling, buying of coke plantations in the Amazon, trafficking of votes and politician's bribes. But SOTRACOL has assumed them all with shameless impunity.
MARINO. — (scared) Doña Porcia! You can't prove such claims!
PORCIA. — What other proof do I need? It is overwhelming the number of contracts that SOTRACOL has underwritten under production costs.

(Porcia burst into tears. Marino hands her his handkerchief.)

DANIELA. —The citizen can establish a lawsuit for the protection of her interests.
PORCIA. —I don't intend to get into trouble neither.
DANIELA. —We are sorry about your economic situation, Doña Porcia, but our government requires financial liquidity. We are living in a state of siege.
PORCIA. —You don't have to tell me that. I also watch TV.  Our boys must have better weapons. In our fight against terrorism I would be the first to donate as much money as necessary to get rid of those little bastards.
ENRIQUETA. —In that case a voluntary donation of six million pesos would be quite suitable for this taxable year. 
PORCIA. —Six?
DANIELA. —Or, would the citizen prefer it, I will write a report about your company's book-keeping practices. If everything is in order you don't have anything to be afraid of. But one error, one tiny little error ,will be enough for us to fine you.
 
(Porcia collapses in the nearest chair, panting.)

ENRIQUETA. — Or, if the error happens to be too important, you may even go to trial for illicit enrichment.
MARINO. — (whispering) The air in this office is suffocating!
PORCIA. —Excuse me; this office is just too hot for me.

(Porcia advances to the proscenium. At a gesture Marino follows her. Porcia will gradually regain energy and coldness along the incoming conversation. The remaining actors will stay on the background.)

PORCIA. —For how much can you settle them?
MARINO. — Five million pesos, if we allow them to intimidate us. But if you allow me to act with a fair deal of hypocrisy I'll be able to settle this matter for four million.
PORCIA. — Hypocrisy?
MARINO. — Or falsehood, if you prefer it . That would be our colloquial expression, but hypocrisy is more adequate. 'Hypo' means under in Greek, and 'krise' judgement. 'Under judgement'.  But to be frank with you I'd rather pay the six-million-pesos fine instead of satisfying the conceit of those bitches.
PORCIA. — That's a legal solution I cannot afford. You are a complete encyclopaedia, don Marino.
MARINO. — I know. Would you be able to leave me alone with Enriqueta? I can't rely on 'the citizen'.
PORCIA. — I doubt it. But I'm sure you'll be able to manage them. And, please, do your best to persuade them to leave us in peace for four years at least. I cannot continue on like that - bribing newcomers every six months.
 (Porcia looses once more the colour in her cheeks.)
PORCIA. — (to Aminta) Were you able to speak to Doctor Ardila?
AMINTA. — He must arrive at any moment. He was quite anxious to see you. You know how blunt he can be.
PORCIA. —Eliana, Aminta, let's go to the office. Don Marino has serious business pending with Doctor Zea.
DANIELA. —And Doctor Contreras.
MARINO. — Of course, with our Philosophiae Doctor!
DANIELA. — Excuse me?
MARINO. — Never mind.

(Eliana, Porcia and Aminta exit.)

ENRIQUETA. — What have you decided?
MARINO. — Two million pesos. One for the government, and one for you both.

(Daniela laughs.)

DANIELA. — Who do you take us for? Sluts?
MARINO. — Well, to be honest with you, no.
ENRIQUETA. —We will offer you a decent way out, as salutary for this company as for yourself. We'll write a favourable report on your behalf for four million pesos.
DANIELA. — What on earth?
MARINO. — I’ll be frank with you both. I really give a damn about our government, about the future of this company and about you both, ladies. My wages as an account manager are just miserable. And yours too, I know. So, listen to me carefully. I can get you three million pesos if you are willing to pay me a substantial fee for my effort.
DANIELA. — Bullocks!
ENRIQUETA. —How much would that be?
MARINO. —Half a million.
DANIELA. —We’d rather deal directly with your boss.
 
(Daniela reaches her documents. Enriqueta takes her by the arm.)
 
ENRIQUETA. —I don't think we can reject his proposal. Doña Porcia can get offended, and, in that case, none of us will be able to get a piece of this cake. All their money will end up in the hands of our honest politicians.
DANIELA. —The shamelessness of our government offitials makes me sick, but we cannot be deterred by doña Porcia’s complains. Her tears are not convincing enough. We must give her a lesson.
ENRIQUETA. —To what cost? You are not married yet, sweet heart. But I have three children to feed.  You know that a salary is never good enough—you have to be resourceful.
DANIELA. —I call poor the soul that wishes more than they have.
ENRIQUETA. — Stop prattling like a nun, Daniela! Three million pesos are at the stake! Are you going to let them pass away, just to satisfy your morality with the suffering of a total stranger?
DANIELA. — Her crocodile tears disgust me, I already told you. I cannot pity her.
ENRIQUETA. —So pity yourself, for God’s sake!
DANIELA. —(grinning) Would you be willing to split those three millions in two? We can testify that the accounting books of this company are correct.
ENRIQUETA. —They won’t believe us. Surely they will send another supervisor.
DANIELA. — In one or two months. It's not sure. It won't be our business by then, anyway.
ENRIQUETA. — I'm not sure. What about the accountant's fee?
DANIELA. — (sarcastic) Accountant! I'll take care of him.

(Kennedy enters, a tall, thin lad of symmetrical countenance. Neither Marino,  Enriqueta nor Daniela take notice of him.)

DANIELA.— (loud) We have come to an agreement. We want three million for we both. All the additional money you get from doña Porcia will be yourr, whether it is four million or five. We just don't care.

(Marino discovers Kennedy's presence).

MARINO. — Very appropriate! But I don't accept bribes. I'm an honest manager, I already told you. Kennedy! Can you wait outside for a while, please? I'm in the middle of an important business.

(Kennedy takes a seat before a desk, openly challenging Marino. Marino, bothered and impatient, exits the stage. Enriqueta and Daniela follow him.)
 
MARINO. — (V.O.) That brat needs a good spank. We'll go to the cafeteria.
(Kennedy looks at the glass of yoghurt on the desk. He stands up, takes the glass and drinks. Aminta enters and utters a scream of surprise. Kennedy reacts clumsily and spills the content of the glass over his clothes and the desk. Aminta laughs. Kennedy blushes and steps back. Aminta opens a drawer from her desk and takes a red handkerchief. She approaches Kennedy and wipes his clothes. A sheet of paper falls from Kennedy's pocket onto the ground. Aminta takes it and peruses it.)

AMINTA. — What's this?
KENNEDY. — A poem.
AMINTA. — «From where do you come, papa?
You never talked about your secrets;
Long time ago you used to embrace me onto the air,
To avoid my fall over the mire;
Long time ago I used to embrace you,
Fearful to slip lifeless from the seat of a mechanic wheel.
The city was dark and glinting—
I felt the vertigo on your lap.
Your powerful arms used to pick me up from the mud,
When nobody else was willing to defend me.
Back then even the beggars were used to harm me.
Far away, always far away, your arms escape
Leaving me at the mercy of newer streams.
I blame those weakening ears;
I blame this, my strength,
Which I posses and I don't wish.» Is it a letter?
KENNEDY. —A poem.
AMINTA. — How long took you to write it?
KENNEDY. — One morning. Do you like it?
AMINTA. — (nervous; trying to smooth her discomfort) Humberto has been very worried about you lately. Soldiers are the children of the poor. Don Argemiro, my neighbour, complaints that fathers invest thousands of pesos in their sons, just to see them taken away by the army to the war front. Outrageous as it may sound, it is true that many of those lads are murdered during their conscription. Don Argemiro has authority to moan about it.  He lost his two boys near Cusiana, and now, as a widower, he will have to cope with a miserable old age, and almost with no money. His compensation is a trifle.
KENNEDY. —My father is not poor, and the army is not as bad as some cowards say. You travel, you meet new people.
AMINTA. — If you like it so much, why didn't you enlist voluntarily?
KENNEDY. — I'm only interested in the navy, or in the air force.
AMINTA. —Typical sexist mentality.
KENNEDY. — But the monthly payments are out...
AMINTA. —Of Humberto's reach, I know. Do you want some yoghurt?
KENNEDY. —(flush) I'm so sorry...
AMINTA. — (maternal) Raising a child is a difficult task. When they are small they jump over the streets, where so many careless drivers lurk ready to hit them. At the school they get all sort of infections, and if they don't get sick in their tender years, they die of chronicle diseases when adults. Their teachers torture them with their grades and rewards, and if they are strong enough to survive the trials of adolescence, they become an easy pray of wicked women or perverted men.
KENNEDY. —I've never allowed someone to abuse me.
AMINTA. — Oh, yes. Humberto told me about your quarrel with your science teacher. And what about women? 
KENNEDY. — I don't have much to say. You—yourself, are a woman. I don't mingle  with prostitutes. I'm to attractive to waste my time with them.
AMINTA. — You are modest! How many girlfriends do you have?
KENNEDY. — One.
AMINTA. — Only one? At your age Humberto had three.
KENNEDY. — He might have two still.

(Aminta flushes and types a couple of words.)

KENNEDY. —I'm tactful, but since you have force me to address this issue, I would like you to know that my mother is worried about my father's health. Francisco is a violent man. We know he has beat you and sent you to the hospital on several occasions. To conclude: if you really appreciate my father, please, leave him.
 
(Aminta slaps Kennedy.)

AMINTA. —How dare you?
 
(Humberto enters with a piece of aluminium in his hands.)

HUMBERTO. — What are you doing so early here? I expected you at noon. KENNEDY. — These are my holidays. I want the money you owe me.
HUMBERTO. — What for?
KENNEDY. —I will go to play billiard with some friends.
HUMBERTO. —First we'll have to sort out your conscription problem. Besides, I already told you that I'm not going to subvention your vices.
KENNEDY. —It's my only hobby!
HUMBERTO. — (sarcastic) Billiard? I don't believe you. My co-workers are gossiping about your real whereabouts. Ask that little girl to subvention you and your vices. 
KENNEDY. —I don't beg you money. It's a debt.
HUMBERTO. —Is it? How did you get that money?
KENNEDY. —From my weekly stipend.
HUMBERTO. — And who gives you your weekly stipend? Me. Therefore, if we talk about who claims his debts first, you may end up owing me a fortune.
KENNEDY. —Those were two thousand pesos I lent you for the groceries last week.
HUMBERTO. — You always have three free meals a day.
KENNEDY. —But...
HUMBERTO. —I will pay you on due time. Now, go away.
KENNEDY. — I thought we were going to talk about the army.
HUMBERTO. — (embarrassed) Yes—but I have changed my mind. Don't worry. I will sort it out. I may get you a work as a secretary of some general. Now come back home and help your mother with the housework, or go to practice some healthy sport, such as jogging. I have enough work to do. 
KENNEDY. — Keep your money for yourself! I don't nee it! And don't worry about my conscription! I'm going immediately to enlist my name! I'm more willing to die than to face you once again!
HUMBERTO. —I'm glad you say it. Now come back home; your mother waits for you.
KENNEDY. —It won't happen again! My decision is free. I won't be obedient any more.
HUMBERTO. — You better shut up.
KENNEDY. —Our past is painful, stained by mistreat, abuse, scorn, mockery, lies, gossips. All fades away, but you are never willing to change, and I'm never willing to let it happen once again. Your indifference today, when the civil war spreads, is the living proof that what I say is true.
HUMBERTO. —You say that because you have never had a son. What you desperately need is to suffer.
KENNEDY. —Tell that to my sister.
HUMBERTO. —Matilde has her own problems.
KENNEDY. —Of course. Such a fat slow ugly student.
HUMBERTO. —I won't allow you to mock her—never in my presence.
KENNEDY. —Why don't you send her to a plastic surgeon? The bill will be cheaper than the party expenses of her fifteenth birthday.
HUMBERTO. —You will always recriminate me for that party! Have you wonder about our social conventions? A woman must distinguish herself in society.  That's the only way she can get a decent family.
KENNEDY. —What? You mean a wealthy husband? I thought you were going to send her to Bogotá.
HUMBERTO. —I haven't decided it yet.
KENNEDY. —Do you know that Matilde wasn't able to pass her exams?
HUMBERTO. —What?
KENNEDY. —That's what one of her friends told me. She failed for three points. An unfortunate incident. But I'm sure you will help her. You can contact her tutor. I'm sure she will accept her mistake for a generous gift.
HUMBERTO. — You are just jealous of her!
KENNEDY —In that case you must ask yourself about the motives of my jealousy.
HUMBERTO. —And full of resentment! I got a scorpion for a son.
KENNEDY.—There you are:  insult me! You have never treated me as your only son! I'm only another of your subordinates! Your love is not generous, but sporadic and ill-calculated. I'm not as idiot as never to realise which your preferences are.
HUMBERTO. — Behave as a man! You are too old to speak like that!
KENNEDY. —I'll be a man, with a rifle in my hands, shooting at whoever gets into my way. Don't even think to come to visit me at the barracks—I warn you.
HUMBERTO. —Another word and I will teach you how to respect your father!
KENNEDY.—Respect? Whom? You? An adulterous thief?

(Aminta screams. Humberto beats Kennedy. porcia enters.)

HUMBERTO. —And who do you think you are to be flirting with the boss' daughter.
porcia. —You don't have any right to beat your son!

(Humberto sees porcia and steps back. Aminta picks up the sheets of paper spread over the floor.)

(Humberto sees Eliana and steps back. Aminta picks up the sheets of paper spread over the floor).

HUMBERTO. — (to himself) Since when the birds shoot to the hunters?
ELIANA. —The law punishes your behaviour—it changed ten years ago.  But some people require to go to prison in order to learn.
 
(Eliana reaches the phone, but Kennedy stops her).

ELIANA. — (exasperated) Kennedy!
KENNEDY. —The police will jail him for one day or two.
 
(Kennedy guides Eliana to a corner).

KENNEDY. — He's my father no matter what. We argued today, but, on the long run, we get along… Somehow.
ELIANA. —He behaves like a savage!
KENNEDY. — I'm not the only child in my family!
ELIANA. — That's not a justification! The police might give him a hard lesson.
KENNEDY. —It's not easy for him to control his behaviour.  I provoked him.
ELIANA. — What does he know about us?
KENNEDY. —He may suspect. (Whispering) Did you get the result of the test?
 
(Eliana stares at Aminta for a few seconds and then looks back at Kennedy).

ELIANA. —Negative.
KENNEDY. — Are you sure?
ELIANA. — I got tested twice.
KENNEDY. — (comfortless) That's a relive. I won't be able to see you this evening.  ELIANA. —My house is free.
KENNEDY. — I have a meeting with my school friends. We go out now. Would you invite me to eat something?
 
(Eliana approaches Aminta).

ELIANA. — I need two thousand pesos.
 
(Aminta takes out a bank note from an envelope on her desk. She hands it to Eliana, who in return signs a piece of paper).

AMINTA. —We haven't sold anything yet this morning. 
HUMBERTO. — (shy) The saleswoman may bring us some luck.
 
(Marino, Porcia, Enriqueta and Daniela enter. Eliana and Kennedy exit. Porcia signs three cheques that Marino hands out to her).
 ENRIQUETA. — No supervisor will come to importunate you during the remaining months of this year—that's my guarantee. And, if our political party wins next year's elections one more, I can assure you that we both will come back to take care of your interests.
DANIELA. —(reading a typed note)  "Your accounting books are correct, your tax calculations precise, and your payments on time. Taking into account your profits and your investments, we'll strongly recommend you for a governmental grant".  (Signing the typed note) Our democracy relies on citizens of your kind, doña Porcia.
 
(Porcia hands the cheques to Enriqueta).

...

ARDILA. —Your secretary?
PORCIA. —My daughter will rely on her.

(Eusebio trips before on his way to the main door).

PORCIA. —Would you like to call an ambulance?
ARDILA. — No, thank you.

(Ardila attempts to kiss Porcia. She pushes him off).

PORCIA. — We are not teenagers.

(Ardila exits. Lights off).



ACT II

Same place, three months after. Glass jar on the desk. The characters wear mourning clothes. doña Porcia enters. Marino follows her.

PORCIA. — (tired, although without melancholy) Doctor Ardila was a just man. I met him first when I was a child. During the Rojas-Pinilla dictatorship he wrote several articles against the regime. 
MARINO. —Those happy times! We, the poor, had a stipend for the milk, as in Venezuela. Did you know that the General was the first leader ever to employ the mass destruction weapons that the United States now employs against rogue nations? 
PORCIA. — (without interest) don't tell me.
MARINO. — I think our nation still pays interests for that investment. The point is that our General used them against the communist barracks of the state of Tolima. My uncle—rest him in peace, told me that the havoc caused by those weapons was similar to the one we saw in 1972, when several journalists photographed naked children burning on the streets of Vietnam. We must admit, though, that at that time the General didn't have proper media equipment to register his victories. 
PORCIA. — You believe on everything you hear about. Were it like that we wouldn't have the pest that is killing us right now. You can not even go the beach to relax and tan your skin; the roads are crowded with crooks and kidnappers.  
MARINO. —Be careful with your words.  I'd advise you to fit your mind to the most common opinion.
PORCIA. —I beg your pardon?
MARINO. — It the conflict tips towards the revolutionaries, we might well start celebrating their victories, while condemning the corruption of our congressmen.
PORCIA. —What are you up to? Marino!
MARINO. —Don't be afraid, doña Porcia; we, the poor, will always support whoever comes into power; a tyrant, either from the far right or the close left.
PORCIA. —Colombia is a democracy.
MARINO. —An oligarchy—that's my opinion.
PORCIA. —Are you a communist, Marino?
MARINO. —No; I'm not. But any democracy requires equality amongst their citizens; otherwise, it's an oligarchy.

(Pause).

PORCIA. — Poor Eusebio.
MARINO. — He died in an honourable way. A man far more valiant than any of our soldiers. We can even say that he poured his blood for our government—although there is an obvious contradiction; we cannot praise a victim in such a manner.  PORCIA. — Unarmed, he would have been unharmed. 
MARINO. — Did he owe you a lot of money?
PORCIA. — Almost ten millions.
MARINO. —A debt that deserves the immediate diligence of a lawyer.
PORCIA. —Of two; I had a meeting with them last night—as soon as we heard of Eusebio's murder. 
MARINO. — You did well. Even so, a judicial process is very slow. By the time you claim your money the inheritors of Ardila would have ravaged his property. 
PORCIA. —I have my own influences. Thank God today we'll take possession of some of his property. 
MARINO. — (surprised) Well prepared...
 
(Porcia realises that the bag of coffee is empty).

 PORCIA. — Damn! Where is my coffee?
 MARINO. — Did it run out?
 
(Porcia locks the cupboard).

PORCIA. — This office is full of rats!
MARINO. — Don't look at me as if I were guilty, doña Porcia. You know how little I work in this office.
PORCIA. — I'm aware of it. Was it Aminta?

(Marino laughs).

MARINO. — You are a clever woman, but too generous. When you are outside Humberto and Aminta drink as in their own home. 
PORCIA. —Humberto? He too?
MARINO. — I wasn't clear perhaps. When you are outside Humberto and Aminta drink as in their own home. Is the ambush today ?
PORCIA. — (sceptical) We'll see whether your calumnies are right.
MARINO. — They both are scum—a couple of crooks. Wait and see.
PORCIA. —If you prove to be right I will have to kick them out. I will instruct, then, a new secretary and a new director of personnel. It doesn't matter how much I pay to them; it doesn't matter whom I hire… Sooner of later I'm forced to caught, denounce and dismiss my employees. 
MARINO. — It's the mood of war. Perhaps you need someone trustworthy, someone honest…

(They look at each other with intensity. Kennedy, worn out and pale, enters wearing a military campaign uniform.  Wheezy and tired, he carries a machine gun).

PORCIA. — (scared) My God! What do you want?
MARINO. — But… This is Humberto's son!
PORCIA. — (dazzled) Of course! I didn't recognise him. So early?
MARINO. — You should be in the barracks.
KENNEDY. — Doña Porcia! Help me! I must wear a civil outfit. If they get me, they'll kill me.
 
(Marino laughs).

MARINO. — Who?
KENNEDY. — Two men! I think I lost them on the corner! If you see any one with a uniform, you both haven't seen me. Can I use your bathroom?
PORCIA. — Didn't you get enlisted in the barracks?
KENNEDY. — I didn't have another choice.  (He glances at Marino, nervous:)
My dad tried to buy me a military card, but my grandparents—by my mum's side, are from Cimitarra, and they taught me to be honest and correct. I tried to accomplish my duty with my fatherland. Besides, the militia is an unforgettable experience; you have access to the tanks, helicopters, battleships… As a child I never thought I was going to have access to those machines, but, as a soldier, I feel I owe all of them. May I use your toilette?  
PORCIA. — You don't know how much it pleases me to hear such an enthusiastic soldier,
KENNEDY. — How is Eliana?
 
(Porcia looks at Marino).

PORCIA. — The bathroom is at the bottom end of the left corridor.

(Kennedy exits).

MARINO. — I don't like any of this; the boy has got into serious problems. We must call the recruitment office.
PORCIA. —What for? The soldiers will ask me to paralyse our production and we'll lose an entire day of overpaid work.  I already undergo enough laziness with so many national holidays.

(Porcia pokes his face, trying to take out an eye-lash from her left eye).

PORCIA. — You better sit down and limit yourself to update our accounting books. Your lack of accuracy gives me headaches. Did you know that the mishaps we suffered after last year's government's supervision, left me bedridden for three days? 
MARINO. — After eighteen yeas I have worked in this company I can't recall any three-day work absence from your part.
PORCIA. — It happened during a weekend.
MARINO. — Are you all right?
PORCIA. — Would you help me with this eye-lash?
MARINO. — (nervous) My point is, you don't know what you are getting into by providing shelter to that lad.

(Marino blows over Porcia's eye.  She blinks).

MARINO. — I got conscripted by the army many years ago. Kennedy might be a deserter; or, what is even worse, a guerrilla fighter!
PORCIA. — Marino! But he is still a child!
 MARINO. — With a machine gun in his hands. Tow weeks in the front ate enough to change the character of a lad.  Didn't he mention that two of his mates were looking to clear him off?
PORCIA. — I never heard such words.
MARINO. — Ha said: "if they find me, they'll kill me".
PORCIA. —He could have just uttered an expression.
MARINO. — Someone else may buy it; not me. Kennedy well could have murdered an officer. There are captains obsessed with soldiers; they torture them, the put pressure on them, they intimidate them, they trick them…
PORCIA. — To what end?
MARINO. —To increase their hate; so that their hands won't shake at all when they be ordered to do away with a wretched, a traitor,  a kidnapper… 
PORCIA. —That's inhuman.
MARINO. —Inhuman for whoever lives and dies in a city, amongst cotton bedclothes and silverware. This revolution is the oldest of the world; didn't you know it? Our women don't give birth to men, but to sharks that  eat each other. Kennedy, with his machine gun, has run out of his cage. Let me help you.
 
(Marino blows onto Porcia's eye.  She stumbles and grasps Marino's shoulder. He recoils and trips. Both fell on the ground, holding each other's arms. Porcia kisses him. Aminta enters holding a bouquet).
 AMINTA. — (concealing her unrest) Good Morning! How remarkable to see don Marino at his office so early. Can I use your flower vase, doña Porcia?
 PORCIA. — (standing up, recovering her dignity, to Marino:) But,  how dare you? (to Aminta) If it's there is to be use.
MARINO. — Did you steal them from the funeral?
 
(Aminta places the flowers in the glass jar).

AMINTA. — I knew you were going to ask me that. No. My husband sent them to me.
PORCIA. — Francisco has become a sensitive man.
MARINO. — You mean a repented man, didn't you? I bet those carnations are an apology for the his last beating on you.
AMINTA. — Ha changed since he got a job.
PORCIA. — I'm glad to hear it.
AMINTA. — Money is the best remedy against boredom.
MARINO. —A temporary remedy, I would say.
POCIA. — Be kinder more Aminta, Marino.
MARINO. —I'm. Otherwise, I wouldn't ask her whether her husband mistreats her or not. What is his new profession? Boxing?
AMINTA. —(laughing) What an idea! His bank gave him a loan and he bought a blue pick-up. Now he carries furniture from house to house. He distributes milk on the suburbs of the city as well.
 
(Marino looks meaningfully at Porcia).


 PORCIA. — Who was going to tell it? I, myself, cannot afford a new pick up.

(Pause).

PORCIA. — I will go to my farm today. I rely on your diligence with all my customers, Aminta. And, please... buy a small notebook where to write an inventory of the coffee. As it seems, I have drunk too much lately —an unhealthy habit, as you might have read.
 
(Porcia exit).

AMINTA. — I'll sort it out. (To Marino) Doña Porcia seems a little bit strange.
MARINO. — I wouldn't expect less. You know how close were her interests to Doctor Ardila's.
AMINTA. — The gossips couldn't wait. Everybody knew the guerrilla camps near the «Jump of the Puck» every Saturday night. Even the army is used to avoid those surroundings. Ardila died close to Lola Vives's house.
MARINO. —Ah! Don't tell me that the mourners have conceived a love affair between that forgotten actress and Eusebio Ardila. People's mind's restlessness still surprises me.
AMINTA. — What a rotten tongue! What they say is that he went looking for his own death. MARINO. — (thoughtful, with ironic pleasure) No!
AMINTA. — A healthy man wouldn't go armed to such a place. In any event, Ardila subscribed several void checks to this office.
MARINO. — It doesn't prove anything! I know Ardila left a considerable fortune. His only significant debt would be with Doña Porcia.
AMINTA. — With us?
MARINO. — With us! Who else, besides you, enjoys the profits of this company?
AMINTA. — How much did he owe her?
MARINO. — Almost two hundred thousand dollars.
AMINTA. — Nonsense! Ardila only owed us five million pesos.
MARINO. — Of course! You don't bear in mind his personal services. Don't be scandalised! Our big cheese has her own weaknesses as well; nobody knows who Eliana's father is.
AMINTA. — Nefarious! Doctor  Ardila always loved Doña Porcia; if he decided to leave her his own fortune, it was with the best intentions. I don't doubt it.
MARINO. — Our boss has a wicked luck! The Ardila family will still keep a considerable property state.   It is clear that love doesn't drive anyone to a desperate state. Who cares about it? Men of wealth get into debt with the banks today; and, as in the colonial system of slavery, they are life-sentenced to pay outrageous fees and interest rates. Ardila's only significant debt was with Doña Porcia, although, I must confess, I don't know why… Did you know that the main cause of suicide amongst the elderly is sexual impotence?
 AMINTA. — Don't tell me that you want to kill yourself.
 
 (Aminta laughs).

 MARINO. — At my age I laugh at this new generation of drug-addicts; smoking, drinking and swallowing pills before fornication… He kill himself to make his wife miserable; to take revenge on her.  
AMINTA. — Such a looser? I feel sad for his three little orphans.
 MARINO. — Such parasites! With their inheritance they will get enough to get their weekly drugs.
AMINTA. — Why do you always have to think the worst of other people's lives? What is going to be the future of those children?
MARINO. — Aminta.
AMINTA. — Yes?
MARINO. — I know a doctor who can help you to ovulate once more.
AMINTA. — (thoughtful) I... Thanks, but we are not interested to have a child. MARINO. — Think on your golden years.
AMINTA. —It will be too selfish, besides.
MARINO. —Why?
AMINTA. —All we have to die some day, don't we?
MARINO. —Ah! I see Kennedy has confounded with his poetry. Where did I read that poem?

(Marino opens a drawer of his desk and takes a sheet of paper. He reads:).

MARINO.— We must die some day, I tell you
The most tenuous breeze, the thickest leave,
That brook that the anemones outlined

We must die some day, I tell you
The water running on these childish arms
Those sleepless nights that cut the nations

We must die some day, I tell you
And even so on rare occasions  we discuss
Our life, as our death, flows out of our reach

AMINTA. —Kennedy could have been a writer.
MARINO. — He is one of those; that's his problem. In any event, don't step back, Aminta. I can help you.
AMINTA. — What do you want?
MARINO. —We know that your husband is barren. You, however, have placed high expectations in Humberto.
AMINTA. —I won't accept your hideous comments once again!

(Marino grasps her from her waist).

MARINO. — Did you know that Humberto went to the hospital last week? He didn't want to take risks.
AMINTA. —No! You are a liar!
MARINO. —Trust me!

(Aminta bites him on his left ear; Marino screams and steps back).

MARINO. —Bitch!

(Kennedy enters wearing a dirty T-shirt and tight pants. Aminta stands up hardly taking note of him; her behaviour will become calmer and careless).

AMINTA. — Kennedy!
MARINO. — Don't tell me you got promoted already.
 
(Aminta holds the broken stalks of the flowers and leaves. Marino takes the phone).
 
KENNEDY. —Call them! But ask them to come here to pick up your carcass!
MARINO. — What carcass? I was just going to call my wife.
KENNEDY. —Your wife? It will be a double crime, in such a case. I never spare relatives.
MARINO. —(hesitating) You won't get away with it. Don't threaten me; I'm a civilian.
KENNEDY. —All we are sank in this muddle. An office job doesn't grant you any special privilege. You behave as the bureaucrats of the International Organisations; they lend us money so that we can pay them for their advise.
(Kennedy sprawls in a sofa and takes out a campaign knife from his pants).

KENNEDY. —Don't worry about it. I want to clean my nails.
MARINO. —I'm not worried! I'm outraged!

(Marino takes hold of the phone and dials a number).

MARINO. — It's a routine call; don't forget that I'm working.
KENNEDY. —I hope so.
MARINO. — Are you going to slaughter us all with your machine gun? Hello?... You can proceed whenever you want... At this time is fine. So long. (Marino hangs and looks attentively at Kennedy) My goodness! What would your father think of you once he sees you? What did you do? Did you kill a soldier or an officer?
KENNEDY. — An intruder.
MARINO. — I'm even more suspicious of your lightness.
KENNEDY. —You know the army very well! I plan to travel to the United States.
MARINO. — Do you?
KENNEDY. —I need money.
MARINO. — Do I look like a banker?
KENNEDY. — You can call me a racketeer, if you please, but I need two hundred dollars.  MARINO. — Talk to your father.
KENNEDY. — If you don't help me, I will talk to Doña Porcia.
 
(Marino opens a drawer and takes out two one-hundred dollar bills).

MARINO. — (smiling) Although I don't look like a gentleman, I'm a gentle character. Please, accept this as an act of charity.
KENNEDY. — If I were you I would be more careful with my words. You never know.

(Marino stands up and takes his bag. Aminta enters with a glass of yoghurt, a piece of cake, a banana and a bar of chocolate.)
 
AMINTA. — Do you want?
KENNEDY. — I'm not starving.
MARINO. — (sarcastic) Did you hear that Eliana fell in love with Oscar Collazos?
AMINTA. — (hesitating) The soup-opera actor?
 
(Kennedy looks angrily at them).

AMINTA. — He exaggerates, Kennedy. It is true that a paparazzi caught them together in the country club of Bogotá; but Eliana is not  Collazos' type.
 
(Marino exits. Aminta offers her meal to Kennedy).

AMINTA. —You must be hungry.
 
(Kennedy snatches the meal and swallows it).
AMINTA. — Francisco told me how hard was his conscription. That was fifteen years ago, of course, but it's enough for me to look at the shadows under your eyes to realise that everything goes the same; perhaps even worse. 
KENNEDY. — My mum told me that your relation with my father is over.  AMINTA. — (ignoring him) My husband is a hard worker. Now that he has the opportunity to make some money, he talks to me—every single night. He has even ask me to quit with this job, so that I can cook and clean properly our apartment. If everything goes well we may even have a child by the end of the year.
KENNEDY. — I don't understand how can you survive with such a miserable salary.
AMINTA. — (surprised) It's better than no income at all. Let me see that ring.
KENNEDY. — Oh!
 
(Kennedy conceals his countenance).

KENNEDY. — A girl friend gave it to me…
AMINTA. — Womaniser! She should have paid a fortune .
 
(Humberto enters wearing shirt and jeans; he smiles. A plastic bag hangs from his hand. His smile fades off as he sees Kennedy).

HUMBERTO. — And the old sow?
AMINTA. — She had something to do at her farm.
HUMBERTO. — And you—are you on leave?
KENNEDY. — I just got tired of military slavery. 
HUMBERTO. — Look at you! Kennedy Serrano! Just what I needed it! You come back to the barracks now, or I will drag you down from your ear along the street!

(Kennedy raises his legs and rests his feet over a desk).

KENNEDY. — What would you like? Do you want to see me bleeding for the sake of your employers? My grandparents were landholder's servants, and you… You are just another puppet of our petit bourgeoisie. I have my own principles.
HUMBERTO. —Anarchist! Now I understand it clearly! This little gentleman wants to get rid of his allegiance. Very well! The doors are open; go and look for your henchman in the jungle. But, don't come back to ask  for my protection in two weeks. The revolutionaries never spare a deserter. If I see you again I will denounce you! I'm not as stupid as to sacrifice my life for a traitor.
AMINTA. —Are you a revolutionary?
KENNEDY. — I fight for myself.
HUMBERTO. —Not even a paramilitary!
KENNEDY. — Not even so; you begot a parasite.
 
(Kennedy takes out his campaign knife and plays with it in his hands. He whistles. Humberto takes out a bag of coffee from his plastic bag and a key from a pocket in his pants. He prepares a cup of coffee as the scene goes on).
 
AMINTA. — I fear Marino has denounced us, Humberto.
HUMBERTO. — (to Kennedy) Do you have anything else to tell me?
KENNEDY. — I haven't told you anything yet.
AMINTA. —Kennedy!
KENNEDY. — I'm fed up of that stupid name. In the barracks the call me 'Get off'. Guess why?

(Aminta exits by her left. Kennedy stops her. Humberto drinks his coffee; he looks downcast).

KENNEDY. — (to Aminta) Will Eliana come today?
AMINTA. — Perhaps. I don't know.
 
(Aminta exits).

KENNEDY. — (to Humberto) A few days ago I was ready to join an anarchist organisation. After living as a swine I came to understand the futility of our government. I thought of the widespread corruption you always complained about, and I sadly realised you were part of it as well.  Now I cannot glorify my death, a sacrifice unworthy of a despotic band of robbers. As a subordinate I'm just scum.  HUMBERTO. — You are young, Kennedy. Some day you will understand that without sacrifice there is no progress.
KENNEDY. —Whose sacrifice? For whom?
HUMBERTO. —Of whoever dies… For the living.

(Kennedy bursts into tears).
 
KENNEDY. —I, who thought that all we were Christians!
HUMBERTO. — I'm not a virtuous man. Who can be? Forgive me.
KENNEDY. —Why did you never point out my mistake? I believed that the fairest people on earth were you and mum. And I was wrong. I'm always wrong. You lied to me! Always preaching. «Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive our trespassers». But you never forgave. Why, now, should I do it?
HUMBERTO. —Don't wait for the world to change, Kennedy; you are the one who must change first.
KENNEDY. — No!
HUMBERTO. — You are always denying your won blood. Be content with what you have! It's not the best, but it's yours! Why are we arguing? I will be always your father.
KENNEDY. — Will you?
HUMBERTO. — I have work as a horse for you.
KENNEDY. — For my sister. I should go. I need money; I escape from the barracks.

(Pause).

HUMBERTO. — How much?
KENNEDY. — One hundred thousand pesos.
 HUMBERTO. —Where are you going to?
 KENNEDY. —I can't tell you. As soon as I can I will send you a postcard with information on my whereabouts.
 HUMBERTO. — What did you do?
KENNEDY. —Nothing terrible.
HUMBERTO. —I'd rather not to know it; I have friends in  Caracas who can help you.
KENNEDY. — I don't want to rely on you again.

(Humberto gives him a key).

HUMBERTO. — This is the key of the kitchen cupboard; take what we have. KENNEDY. —  How much?
HUMBERTO. —More than you need.
KENNEDY. — Thanks.
HUMBERTO. — Business have improved…
KENNEDY. — I can see. Is that why you seduced your secretary?
HUMBERTO. — That was a mistake.
KENNEDY. — What made you change? Time?
HUMBERTO. — Suffering.
KENNEDY. —Whose? Mum's?
HUMBERTO. — I don't want to talk about it.
KENNEDY. —Why not? Do you think I'm going to insult you?
HUMBERTO. — There you are; being disrespectful with me once more. I have my own convictions, Kennedy—I know you don't believe me.
KENNEDY. — Don't tell me. 
HUMBERTO. — And you should consider the fact that I'm too old to stand your mocking
KENNEDY. — Now you can't lock me in my room, as ten years ago.
HUMBERTO. —What are you talking about?
 KENNEDY. —Don't you remember it? You flogged me twenty four times when I opened the door! Some neighbours heard my screams and knocked on the door! Fourteen hours asking for forgiveness! I was only eight!
HUMBERTO. —Ungrateful!
KENNEDY. — I point out an offence amongst so many others. A life won't be enough to heal so much cruelty. Not even on the front I felt so much disrespect; there everyone was falling, and the wounded were somehow getting the consolation of the dead.
HUMBERTO. —I asked you for forgiveness!
KENNEDY. — I can't! I can't erase all your offences.
HUMBERTO. —What else do you want?
KENNEDY. — Revenge!
HUMBERTO. — God!
KENNEDY. —Not against you, but against everyone who hasn't suffered yet. HUMBERTO. — You are not leaving us; you will come back.

(LORENA, a middle-aged woman, enters. She wears a dark suit. Her eyes peruse Kennedy, who reacts hiding his knife. Aminta follows her).
AMINTA. — May I help you?
LORENA. — (haughty) Good morning. I would like to buy a half-an-inch table glass.
AMINTA. — Are you looking for a security glass?
LORENA. — I'm in a hurry; I parked my pick up in front of the cafeteria. How much would it be?
 
(Humberto looks at Kennedy, who conceals his countenance. Aminta presses the digits of her calculator).

AMINTA. —They are the fashion; they look far better than a wooden table. But you must take good care of them; they get scratched very easy, doña…
LORENA. — Lorena; Lorena Porras.
AMINTA. — Nine hundred thousand peso—tax included.
LORENA. — Can I get a discount?
AMINTA. — No, I'm afraid. Will you pay  with a credit card?
LORENA. — Cash.
AMINTA. — (looking at Humberto) Maybe, our director of personnel can help you.

(Humberto and Lorena exit).

KENNEDY. — (to Aminta, who places the flowers besides her desk) Tell me that this was the only purpose of your affair with my father. 
AMINTA. — (hesitating) If you want to talk to Eliana in private, you should look for her at the cafeteria. She eats breakfast at nine. 
KENNEDY. — Is she on holidays?
AMINTA. — Until the end of the month; she will come back to Miami soon after.
KENNEDY. — Every time I come to this office I discover a new mean of corruption. For years my father asked me to behave as an honest man. Now he reads the gospels and quotes the passages that better suit his ends. All they are a bunch of hypocrites.
AMINTA. — If they are, I don't see why are do you bicker so much on your father.
KENNEDY. —What should I do, then? To praise him? I bet my father enjoys his two horns of wealth. For you both to fuck must be a ritual of consecration—or something of that sort. 
AMINTA. —  (angry). Every time I see you treat me as a slut. What have I done to you? I would never recriminate you for stealing my refreshments.
KENNEDY. — You just did it!
AMINTA. —Very well. You must know that I love your father; that he has always loved me, and that we both have planned to share the rest of our lives together. KENNEDY. —You are wrong! He's been only interested on your help!
AMINTA. —Eliana, at least, was intelligent enough to abort her baby.
KENNEDY. — That's a calumny!
AMINTA. — I, myself, went with her to the hospital. The foetus fell on a silver bowl and passed away; he was about two months old. We knew you intended to marry her, but, look at you now. If you were unable to survive in the army for six months, I must doubt of your capacity to educate and feed a child for twenty years.
KENNEDY. — You say those words because you are barren.
AMINTA. —I say them because I have aborted twice, and I'm not ashamed of it. Conception should be forbidden before forty.

(Kennedy stands up; his lips tremble in a ironic smile—his mask).

AMINTA. — You taxed my patience. I wouldn't have told you those words, otherwise.
KENNEDY. — Don't regret them. I know everything—sooner or later. 
AMINTA. — Where are you gong?
KENNEDY. — To buy a bag for my rifle.
AMINTA. — Are you travelling? Where?
KENNEDY. — Where nobody will recognise me.
AMINTA. —But…
KENNEDY. — I may join the Mafia; I have my credentials after all.
AMINTA. — What have you done?
KENNEDY. —  I'm never angry with my victims; they are the ones who attack me. Last night, for instance, I put down a wretched driver who tried to pass his car over my head on the Santos' plateau.
AMINTA. — God!
KENNEDY. — Once I shot him I realised he was armed.
AMINTA. —Murderer!
KENNEDY. —Do I scare you? Nonetheless, you were cold as ice when you describe your complicity on an abortion.
AMINTA. — You are pulling my leg.
KENNEDY. — Perhaps no. What's the difference? We live a nightmare. Have you ever awaken after murdering an entire crowd? The relief is brief; new enemies appear.
AMINTA. — Some one has to make a sacrifice.
KENNEDY. — Who? Me? Never!
AMINTA. —Tell me that everything you have told me is a lie! Tell me that you are too sensitive to commit a crime! Tell me that you are only a deserter!

(Kennedy exits. Humberto and Lorena enter).

 HUMBERTO.— Get eight hundred thousand pesos from Doña Lorena, Aminta—without a receipt.
 
(Lorena sits down and issues a check).

AMINTA. — (whispering) What happened to Kennedy?
HUMBERTO. — Nothing. He's looking for a new job. (to Lorena) We are talking about my son; he thinks too little on his future.
 
(Humberto exits).

LORENA. — As most of us. I should introduce you to my son; he wants a table for himself; he's and architect.
AMINTA. — (confused) What's his name?
LORENA. — Olinto Castro.
AMINTA. — I never heard of him.
LORENA. — (nervous) He studied in Bogotá; but he works in Cali.
AMINTA. — Technology pushes us to move from one place to another.
LORENA. — To whose name should I write this check?
AMINTA. — To the payee.
LORENA. —Where can I get the merchandise?
AMINTA. — Humberto will fasten it to your pick up.
LORENA. — How often do you do this kind of transactions?
AMINTA. — (surprise) Pardon me?
LORENA. — No, excuse me; my husband is a politician, and embezzlements are not unfamiliar to me; there is no point of comparison with this business, of course. All is part of our idiosyncrasy. Last week he signed a contract for one thousand million pesos.
AMINTA. — (jealous) A real fortune. How much did he get?
LORENA. — Thirty percent; in legal contributions for the incoming election campaign, needless to say. He knows how to handle the commissions that our attorney sent us once in a while. As you can figure out, the only business that pays well is the law, or the art of acquiring capital from the national treasure. All my relatives are lawyers.
 AMINTA. — I thought your son was an architect.
LORENA. — (blushed) He... got two degrees.
 
(Lorena hands out her check to Aminta. Humberto enters).

HUMBERTO. — The carriers wait for you with the glass, on the pick up.
LORENA. — Thanks a lot. Now excuse me.
 
(Lorena sale. Aminta remains thoughtful).

AMINTA. — A woman hard to swallow...
HUMBERTO. — And Kennedy?
AMINTA. — He went to the cafeteria, I think. He's looking for Eliana.

HUMBERTO. — If you see him, please tell him that his machine gun is in the hall. I wrapped it in newspapers. If a foolish worker finds it and harms himself, guess who is going to be blamed.

(Humberto locks the cupboard).

AMINTA. — Your son is sick.  He gets too much in our businesses. 
HUMBERTO. —He was just flirting with you, I bet. (He laughs) All men get a crush on you.
AMINTA. — I speak in earnest.
HUMBERTO. — I did what I could with Kennedy. I don't have great expectations about his future.
AMINTA. — And your wife—what does she say?
HUMBERTO. — She agrees with what I say. I asked her to swear never to give a single penny to Kennedy—we don't care whether he dies of starvation. He got into trouble. 
AMINTA. — A mother will be a mother always. You are inhuman, asking her to swear such things.  
HUMBERTO. —Women will never understand it—this is a business between two men.

(Aminta approaches Humberto and caresses his face).

AMINTA. — You know how to handle him. My husband is very happy with his new pick-up. He wants to thank you.
HUMBERTO. — (recoiling) I'm glad.  I must return to work.
 
(Humberto exits. Aminta follows him, but Eliana cuts her way).

ELIANA. — Let him leave. A diamond cuts another diamond. Why don't we go on Saturday to a disco? Have you been in 'El Templo Pagano'? I have a cute friend—you will love him.

(Eliana seats beside a desk and writes a letter).

AMINTA. — (sobbing) He will regret his cruelty some day.
ELIANA. — The burial was more boring than the funeral. Where is my mother?
AMINTA. — She had to cope with several problems at her famr.
ELIANA. —That's what she say?
AMINTA. — After the funeral.
ELIANA. — She wanted to eat lunch with me—I'm positive. Well! That's fine! I'll leave as soon as I finish this letter.  You will tell her I worked the entire day, of course.
AMINTA. — I will sign your working hours—as usual. (suddenly) Did you talk to Kennedy?
ELIANA. —He must be busy enough in the barracks.
AMINTA. — He came looking for you this morning.
ELIANA. — For me?
AMINTA. — He left his post, as it seems.
ELIANA. —I should leave before he comes back, then.
AMINTA. — He asked me about your abortion.
ELIANA. — What? You swore never to utter a single word of it.
AMINTA. — He gave me no other choice . I don't know how he got the information. Someone else told him. 
ELIANA. — I don't believe you…
AMINTA. — I didn't tell him anything he didn't know already. Besides, anyone gets intimidated by a man who cleans his nails with his campaign knife.
ELIANA. —Is he armed?
AMINTA. —Armed to the teeth!

(Aminta looks at the window).

AMINTA. — You can see him by yourself. I knew he was going to come soon.

(Aminta exits. Eliana speeds the writing of her letter. Kennedy enters and looks fixedly at her).
 
ELIANA. —What a surprise! I'm glad to see you!
 
(Eliana licks the envelope of her letter. )

KENNEDY. — What secrets does my girlfriend have for me this time?
ELIANA. — None…
KENNEDY. — None?

(Kennedy snatches her the letter. He opens it and reads it).

ELIANA. —What are you doing? Give it back to me!
 
(Eliana attempts to get it back).
 
KENNEDY. — Juan Carlos, my love? This brief separation is tearing me apart?

(Kennedy tears the letter with his hands. Eliana steps back).

ELIANA. — I wanted to talk to you about it—face to face.
KENNEDY. —You just reject me because… I don't have a car!
ELIANA. —No!
KENNEDY. —(unsecure) I'm not surprise at all! I have been lying to myself: seeing kindness in your coldness. 
ELIANA. — Two years is a long time.
KENNEDY. —I was prepared to wait!
ELIANA. —It's not difficult to wait in the barracks!
 KENNEDY. — What do you know about the military life?
ELIANA. — You only get one day off per week. That way you don't have time to meet new people. In the United States life is quite different.
KENNEDY. — In the United States! You make me sick.
ELIANA. — I must go.
KENNEDY. —You are saucy!
ELIANA. — Carry on, and don't forget to mention that I'm a slut.
KENNEDY. —Why did you lie about your pregnancy? I would have assist you.
ELIANA. — I didn't want to harm you.
KENNEDY. —It was our son!
ELIANA. —Maybe…
KENNEDY. —Maybe?
ELIANA. — In the Indian tribes of «La Guajira», all women and men bear the surname of their mothers. It's less mistaking, don't you think?  
KENNEDY. — You just want to provoke me.
ELIANA. —Is it not the most convenient for you and me?
KENNEDY. — I love you, Eliana.
ELIANA. —Ah! 
KENNEDY. — I'm not an educated fellow, but I'm willing to travel with you to Miami. A general helped me to issue my passport and my visa. 
ELIANA. —Aren't you a deserter?
KENNEDY. — They will need a couple of days to realise it.

(Kennedy takes out a hand of bills from one of the pockets of his pants).

KENNEDY. — Do you believe me now? I have enough money to buy my flight ticket. I just need a place where to stay. What can I do here? A country where people die or kill? You, who on your letter advised me to avoid any kind of violence, must agree with me.
ELIANA. — I don't want to get involved—it's not fair. What can you do in the US?
KENNEDY. — I'll be a construction worker. This is a matter of life and death.
ELIANA. — You still can continue working in Colombia. Peace will come, sooner of later. 
KENNEDY. — For you, I'm just a burden!

(Pause. Eliana embraces him). 
KENNEDY. —Let me alone! I don't want your pity! We both are from different breed! 
ELIANA. —Kennedy! 
KENNEDY. —This is the story of a worker's son who seduced the daughter of a miser.
ELIANA. —Nobody seduced me.
KENNEDY. —That's even worse!
ELIANA. —You behave as a spoiled child! We both fell in love with each other! Why is so difficult to understand it?
KENNEDY. — I just fell in love with your class, and you with my misery. You were weary of a society of hair-dressers and bankers, and then you find me… And you got everything from me you, and you forsook me. I don't blame you; I'm sure you didn't intend to hurt me. I will travel, anyway.
ELIANA. — Will you?
KENNEDY. —Why not? Does it surprise you that someone like can, somehow, travel to the US?
ELIANA. — (blushed) If that's your final decision, I, then, will support you.
KENNEDY. — Don't be ashamed.
ELIANA. —Let's forget about it, Kennedy! Let's forget about it!
KENNEDY. —You appreciate me now that you know the imminence of my move.
ELIANA. — Blame Aminta! She affronts me! A she affronts you too! She told me that you were a deserter! She accused you of threatening her with a knife! She hates us. I told her about my pregnancy and she gave me no choice—she persuaded me to go on with an abortion! Now I understand it clearly; we can start once more, Kennedy; your move to Miami is not a coincidence.
KENNEDY. — How can I rely on someone who has lied to me? Some day, crossing the street, we will avoid each other, as strangers.
ELIANA. —You got enlisted in the army without my consent.
KENNEDY. —My father was putting pressure on me! He was unable to buy me my military card.
ELIANA. — I would have been happy to give you the money you needed to.
KENNEDY. — Let's not blame anyone, then.
ELIANA. —Now we are free—free of commitments.
 
(Eliana sobs on Kennedy's chest. Marino enters).

 MARINO. — Still mourning the dead?

(Marino puts his bag on his desk. FABIOLA , a sixty-year old woman, follows her).

FABIOLA. — (to Eliana) I'm sorry to bother you. Are you all right?
MARINO. — Don't pay attention to the macabre mood of this office. One of our most reliable customers was murdered.  Please, sit down.
 
(Fabiana sits down. Marino approaches Kennedy).

MARINO. — Some men were asking for you in the cafeteria. If I were in your shoes, I would have left this place long time ago.
FABIOLA. —What's going on?
MARINO. —Ask him.

(Kennedy and Eliana exit).

FABIANA. — Is this place safe?
MARINO. — Safe enough. I understand Daniela and Enriqueta gave you my name. How can I help you?  
FABIANA. — (whispering) Our supervisor found several irregularities on your tax statement. He is concerned about the financial state of your company. 
MARINO. — Breaking news!
FABIANA. — We have been asked to implement measures to protect the interests of our community. Your company may close for a while. In the meantime a commission we have appointed on your behalf will establish your innocence or culpability. 
MARINO. — Carry on.
FABIANA. — This Friday morning, at seven to be precise, the police will come before your door. All your entrances will be properly sealed and banned.  For one or two months the government will assume entire responsibility for your property.
MARINO. — I'm at a stand. But, tell me, what is my business in all this? I'm only an employee.
FABIANA. — We may come on Thursday night to take out the most expensive machinery . If the owner of this company gets acquitted, the larceny will be discover in a couple of months.  But by then the government will be happy to reimbursed your company for any damage.
MARINO. — And if the government takes possession of this company, nobody will ever discover that damage.
FABIANA. —Well said.
MARINO. — Who do you take me for? Having been honest all my youth, I'm not going to become a scamp now—to my age!
FABIANA. —  (surprise, but well prepared) If you are not interested, there is no deal.
MARINO. — Let's wait to see what doña Porcia thinks of your proposal.  Get out before I call the police!
FABIANA. — Daniela and Enriqueta must have given me the wrong name.
MARINO. — Ah! By no means! You will forgive me, but I'm a careful man. Our boss is trying us by these days.  In any event, one thing is to divide a bribe in three parts, and another to brake into this company with flashlights, in the middle the night. 
FABIANA. — I want twenty per cent over all profits.

 (Aminta enters).

 MARINO. — (firm) You won't contrive that ruse.
 FABIANA. — (looking at Aminta) I appreciate your sincerity. Good bye.
 
(Fabiana sale. Marino puts his papers into order).

AMINTA. — New businesses, don Marino?
MARINO. — Nothing interesting.  
AMINTA. — I heard something about a ruse.
 
(Marino smiles).

MARINO. — I was kindly dismissing an importunate lady. 
AMINTA. — My myopia has increased lately. I wonder whether you were holding doña Porcia this morning, on the floor. 
MARINO. —Oh! You are keen; Porcia has a crush on me.
AMINTA. — A widow gets what she can.
MARINO. — I may be a married man,  but I'm practical and prudent. A love affair with my boss won't play to my own advantage.
AMINTA. —Not even her money?
MARINO. — I'd rather work as her accountant.
AMINTA. — You like to be in control.
MARINO. — A single amorous quarrel will be enough for Porcia to dismiss me—something I don't want. You are the only woman I've ever  been interested in.
AMINTA. — Forget about it.
MARINO. — Humberto doesn't love you. Did you hear that now he preaches? Damning adulterous souls, as if he were a model of virtue.
AMINTA. — What do you mean?
MARINO. — My point is that your system of embezzlement, which is your common ground, is on the wane.
AMINTA. —What?
MARINO. —In love, as in war, everything goes, Aminta.
AMINTA. —Did you?
MARINO. —Doña Porcia will dismiss you soon, and your husband's new pick up will be possessed. He will return to his old ways. But, from now on, you may rely on my support. One month ago I acquired a new apartment in the suburbs. Here you have its address.

(Marino hands out a card to her. Aminta's face gets sallow. Porcia and Lorena enter).

PORCIA. — Call Humberto, Aminta, please.
 
(Aminta stumbles and fells on a chair. Marino stands up).

 MARINO. — I will do it.
 
(Marino exits).

AMINTA. —  (to Lorena, clumsily) Can I be of your assistance?
PORCIA. — The farce has ended, Aminta. Allow me to introduced you to Mrs. Porras, my new lawyer; although you might have already met today.
AMINTA. —In other circumstances.
PORCIA. —Don't you have scruples?

(A shot is heard from the street. Marino enters).

MARINO. —A shot gun!
 
(Humberto enters and gets pale as he recognises Lorena. 

PORCIA. — (ignoring the gun shot) I was checking the inventory of the glass, and I couldn't find a security glass of eight per four feet. Can you show it to us, Humberto?
HUMBERTO. — It got broken—in two pieces. It was an accident.
 
(Aminta burst into tears).

AMINTA. — You don't need to humiliate us in such a way.

(Marino smiles and exits).

PORCIA. — (ignoring Aminta's words; to Humberto) An accident you might pay with your salary. You are an extremely resourceful man, Humberto; show us the broken pieces.
AMINTA. — (to Humberto, whispering) Marino denounced us.  (To Porcia) You must be blind! Don't you realise the outrageous way on which Marino is driving us to bankruptcy!
HUMBERTO. — Aminta!
AMINTA. — I will show his dirty tricks before you kick me out of this place! Yes! Even if I burn for it!
PORCIA. — (to Humberto) Bring me the pieces!
 
(Humberto, confused and thoughtful, exits).

LORENA. — (to Aminta)  If you cooperate with us we might not denounce you as a robber.
PORCIA. —Nobody wants you to go to prison.
AMINTA. —We haven't committed any crime. I know the law; you don't have any other proof than your testimony. 
LORENA. —It's always the same.  Do you want I drive you in my car to the nearest police station? 
AMINTA. —What I have said about don Marino is true! He denounced me. Now you have put me at his mercy.
PORCIA. —I really thank you. But let's to be sure nobody will go to prison.
AMINTA. —You are his protector!
PORCIA. — Can I ask you to sign your resignation letter today?
AMINTA. —Splendid! In such a case I will speak to Eliana before her return to the US.
PORCIA. —Are you… Are you threatening me?
AMINTA. —I just would like you to reconsider your intention.
LORENA. —The husband of this employee bought a pick up recently. We'll take possession of it tomorrow.
AMINTA. —My brother in law is the legal owner of that pick up.
LORENA. —Are you going to sign your resignation letter, or would you rather face a trial for embezzlement?
PORCIA —No. But you can't continue working at this office, Aminta.
AMINTA. —I will leave as soon as I receive an indemnity for five million pesos.

(Pause. )

PORCIA. —What would I get in return?
AMINTA. —Whatever.
PORCIA. — That's a deal; besides your silence, I want you to testify against Humberto.
AMINTA. —I don't see why not.

(Eliana enters; her voice is a broken groan).

PORCIA. — Eliana! Are you well?
AMINTA. —What happened?
 
(Marino enters—he's dazzled).

MARINO. —On the middle of the street—at noon.
LORENA. — The shot?
PORCIA. —But, who?
 
(Humberto enters with a piece of broken glass).

ELIANA. — I tried to replay to him, but as I saw him, I rose my head, and that man pointed out his gun to us, and… And Kennedy reacted as he could!
 
(Humberto drops the glass; it brakes against the ground. People step back, leaving Humberto on the centre of the state).

HUMBERTO. — But that was only a piece of broken glass...
 
(Lights off).





Hugo Santander Ferreira © First Film Productions 2011