[A small country store. LOPAHIN, a merchant, rests on a stool behind the counter. FIRS, an old man, mumbles incoherently to himself as he sweeps up. There are crates of cherries everywhere and a sign which reads “Cherries for Sale...CHEAP!”]
LOPAHIN: You’re a good worker Firs, old man. I don’t know how I ever got along without you. You’ve been quite helpful this past year. Very helpful indeed. You’ve missed a spot. Very good. Thank you, Firs.
[FIRS says something, but not a word can be distinguished.]
I remember when I was a lad of fifteen, I used to sweep up for my father--he kept a little shop in those days. One day, I missed a spot. Father was furious. I’ll never forget that day. He took a broom and shoved it up my ass. Right up my ass! I remember quite clearly.
[Enter GAEV. He rushes to the counter.]
GAEV: Lopahin! I must speak with you! It’s urgent!
LOPAHIN: Not now--I’m in the middle of a story.
GAEV: But it’s urgent!
LOPAHIN: Where was I?
That’s right--the broom!
GAEV: [Spots an empty bookcase.] Ah! There you are!
[Rushes to the bookcase.]
Oh! Beloved friend! Don’t worry, I’ll get you out of here! Lopahin, how much do you want for this bookcase?
LOPAHIN: In a moment.
GAEV: Name your price!
LOPAHIN: Where was I? It’s so hard to remember after one is interrupted! Oh, yes!
GAEV: [To the bookcase.] Are you well, my friend? Oh, dearest bookcase! Faithful companion! How I’ve missed you! You mustn’t hate me for leaving. I always intended to come back for you! You must believe that!
[A large pile of cherry crates crashes to the floor as EPIHODOV Enters. Cherries fly everywhere. FIRS mumbles something and begins sweeping them up.]
EPIHODOV: Sorry, everyone! Sorry! Don’t mind me. Every day some misfortune befalls me. I don’t complain. I’m used to it, and I wear a smiling face!
LOPAHIN: Ah! Good Epihodov! I remember, when I was fifteen I once knocked over a crate of cherries in my father’s store. I remember quite vividly. He took the crate and shoved it up my ass. Right up my ass! I was shitting splinters for weeks!
[EPIHODOV trips over his own feet and crashes into the counter, splitting his head open.]
EPIHODOV: There! There, you see! I’ve split my head open! How do you like that?!
LOPAHIN: The usual?
EPIHODOV: Yes, and a few extra bandages this week if you don’t mind.
LOPAHIN: Certainly, my friend!
GAEV: [To the bookshelf.] Friend? Friend?! Hah! They know nothing of friendship! You and I--we know of friendship! Always true! Never faltering! No, no ... don’t cry. Hush now, little bookcase. [Sotto voce.] Don’t worry ... I have a plan to get you out of here! Shhh! They’ll hear you!
[LOPAHIN hands EPIHODOV a box of bandages.]
LOPAHIN: Bandages, there you go. Anything else?
EPIHODOV: Perhaps a little extra gauze? And some kind of disinfectant for minor cuts and bruises?
LOPAHIN: Of course.
[LOPAHIN hands EPIHODOV a long strip of wrapping guaze.]
Cut off what you need. I’ll look for the alcohol ... or perhaps some Neosporin Ointment!
EPIHODOV: Whatever you think best, dear friend.
[LOPAHIN rummages through his shelves. EPIHODOV measures out a length of wrapping gauze and picks up an axe to cut it. GAEV begins to fondle the bookcase.]
LOPAHIN: Hydrogen peroxide? I seem to be out of alcohol. You cleaned me out last week.
[EPIHODOV raises the axe and cuts off his hand.]
EPIHODOV: There! You see! I’ve cut off my hand! It’s really quite remarkable! One thing after another!
[FIRS mumbles something and sweeps up EPIHODOV’S hand. He begins wiping up the blood.]
LOPAHIN: Thank you, Firs.
[LOPAHIN pours hydrogen peroxide on EPIHODOV’S hand.]
EPIHODOV: Ooh! It bubbles!
GAEV: [To the bookshelf.] Now listen carefully. Don’t be alarmed, but...
[GAEV lifts his shirt to reveal a small pistol.]
I won’t use it unless I have to, so ... remain calm. If you act suspicious, they’ll know something’s up, and then we’ll have to come out shooting! Take a deep breath. Deep breath. Deep breath! You’re going to give us away!
LOPAHIN: What’s going on over there?
GAEV: Stay back! Stay back or I’ll shoot!
[GAEV points the gun at LOPAHIN and EPIHODOV. FIRS begins dusting the bookcase.]
I’ll use this if I have to! Now...we’re going to walk out of here nice and easy. Nice and easy, understand!
[GAEV lifts the bookcase and moves towards the door. FIRS dusts it as they go, mumbling to himself. As he reaches the door, GAEV slips, and the gun goes off--shooting EPIHODOV several times in the chest.]
EPIHODOV: You see! Didn’t I tell you?! One thing after another! But I don’t complain. I’m used to it!
[EPIHODOV falls to the ground, dead--blood spurting from his chest. GAEV shields the bookcase from this bloody scene.]
GAEV: Don’t look! Please! You don’t want to see ... Oh, don’t be angry with me. I couldn’t stand it if you were angry with me. They drove me to it! Try to understand!
LOPAHIN: You killed him.
GAEV: Yes! I didn’t mean to, but I must save this dear bookcase! It has been with me since I was a small child! It is my only true friend! Isn’t that right, dear bookcase.
LOPAHIN: Oh, dear Leonid Andreyevitch. What a tragedy! This particular bookcase is not your bookcase at all! Why, I know the bookcase you speak of--it was sold to a traveling salesman the same week your dear boring sister left us!
GAEV: Then ... this isn’t my bookcase?
LOPAHIN: Not at all. I purchased this bookcase from three sisters who claimed to be moving to Moscow ... although I don’t think they were really moving anywhere. They talked of nothing else, but it seemed a lot of empty gibberish to me.
GAEV: [To the bookcase.] You fraud! You led me on! You’re not my bookcase!
[He blasts the bookcase to pieces.]
I believe a man should always be prepared to kill himself. That’s why I carry a gun.
[GAEV shoots himself in the head.]
LOPAHIN: What a bloody circus.
[Pause. FIRS begins to clean up the mess.]
I remember when I was fifteen, the circus came to town. I wanted to see the circus, but my father thought it frivolous. I remember quite vividly. He took the whole circus and shoved it up my ass. Right up my ass!
[FIRS continues to clean, mumbling to himself incoherently, as the lights fade to black.]
* * *
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Copyright © 1997 by Walter Wykes
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