One for the Road

CHARACTERS

NICOLAS………mid-forties

VICTOR………thirty

GILA………thirty

NICKY………seven

A room.

NICOLAS at his desk. He sits still. He leans forward and speaks into a machine.

NICOLAS

Bring him in.

He sits back. The door opens. VICTOR walks in, slowly. His clothes are torn. He is bruised. The door closes behind him.

NICOLAS

Hello! Good morning. How are you? Let’s not beat about the bush. Anything but that. D’accord? You’re a civilized man. So am I. Sit down.

VICTOR slowly sits. NICOLAS stands. walks over to him.

What do you think this is? It’s my finger. And this is my little finger. This is my big finger and this is my little finger. I wave my big finger in front of your eyes. Like this. And now I do the same with my little finger. I can also use both…at the same time. Like this. I can do absolutely anything I like. Do you think I’m mad? My mother did.

He laughs.

Do you think waving fingers in front of people’s eyes is silly? I can see your point. You’re a man of the highest intelligence. But would you take the same view if it was my boot—or my penis? Why am I so obsessed with eyes? Am I obsessed with eyes? Possibly. Not my eyes. Other people’s eyes. The eyes of people who are brought to me here. They’re so vulnerable. The soul shines through them. Are you a religious man? I am. Which side do you think God is on? I’m going to have a drink.

He goes to sideboard, pours whiskey.

You’re probably wondering where your wife is. She’s in another room.

He drinks.

Good-looking woman.

He drinks.

God, that was good.

He pours another.

Don’t worry, I can hold my booze.

He drinks.

You may have noticed I’m the chatty type. You probably think I’m part of a predictable, formal, long-established pattern; i.e., I chat away, friendly, insouciant, I open the batting, as it were, in a lighthearted, even carefree manner, while another waits in the wings, silent, introspective, coiled like a puma. No, no. It’s not quite like that. I run the place. God speaks through me. I’m referring to the Old Testament God, by the way, although I’m a long way from being Jewish. Everyone respects me here. Including you, I take it? I think that is the correct stance.

Pause

Stand up.

VICTOR stands.

Sit down.

VICTOR sits.

Thank you so much.

Pause

Tell me something….

Silence

What a good-looking woman your wife is. You’re a very lucky man. Tell me… one for the road, I think….

He pours whiskey.

You do respect me, I take it?

He stands in front of VICTOR and looks down at him. VICTOR looks up.

I would be right in assuming that?

Silence

VICTOR

(Quietly) I don’t know you.

NICOLAS

But you respect me.

VICTOR

I don’t know you.

NICOLAS

Are you saying you don’t respect me?

Pause

Are you saying you would respect me if…


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