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Killing jar

A khaki comedy in three acts

Emil Sharafutdinov • Boek • paperback

  • Samenvatting
    Autumn 2022, mobilization is announced in Russia; during this time three provincial Russian ladies – a mother, a sister and a wife – devise a cunning scheme to use a local military official to declare their good-for-nothing family tyrant as a killed in action war hero and receive millions of rubles in “coffin” money for him. However, soon everything starts to go wrong and all characters find themselves in a killing jar.
  • Productinformatie
    Binding : Paperback
    Distributievorm : Boek (print, druk)
    Formaat : 148mm x 210mm
    Aantal pagina's : 62
    Uitgeverij : Emil Sharafutdinov
    ISBN : 9789465110394
    Datum publicatie : 06-2024
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3-4 werkdagen
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14 dagen bedenktermijn


SETTING: The office of the military commissar.

AT RISE: COLONEL POGORELKO sits at the computer, methodically, using one finger, he locates and presses keys on the keyboard, retyping papers from the piles of conscripts’ personal files stacked on the desk. A LIEUTENANT enters.

COMMISSAR (snaps): I’ve told you I’m busy!
LIEUTENANT (backing away, timidly): I beg your pardon, comrade colonel, may I report? (Continues backing away. Pause.)
COMMISSAR: What’s there?
LIEUTENANT: There is a mother, her son died on8 Ukraine…
COMMISSAR (through gritted teeth): Are you in a hurry to take his place? (Pause.)
LIEUTENANT (barely audible): No, sir... Colonel, I couldn’t refuse this woman; she says her son is a two-time Hero of Russia.., her concern is not financial in nature... I thought you ma-ma-might want to receive her... (Pause.)
COMMISSAR: Alright, let her in.

(ANGELINA enters with a capacious handbag in her hands, wearing makeup, and wrapped in various scarves and shawls.)
ANGELINA: Good day. I am Angelina Vasilievna Kuzmicheva. How may I address you?
COMMISSAR (stands up, extends his hand to her): Colonel Pogorelko at your service, or you can just call me Mikhail Ivanovich. (He seats ANGELINA next to himself, adopts an empathic expression.) What matter brings you here?
ANGELINA (in a trembling voice): My son died yesterday.., my only one, Nikolenka... (She pauses, turns down her eyes welling up with tears.)
COMMISSAR (ingratiatingly): Where, how did it happen?
ANGELINA: In a car accident, he got drunk and drove off a broken bridge into the river.
COMMISSAR (exclaims): Bastards, cursed Ukrops6, (angrily pounds the table) they don’t even let us retreat humanly! They say themselves: ‘Get off our land!’ So why the hell, do you, bitches, blow up your own bridges so we can’t pull back?! What a foul tribe! Forgive me. Where did this happen, near Kherson, during the retreat?
ANGELINA: No, here in Mushino, in the Moscow region.
COMMISSAR: No, where did he die? – I ask, not where he lived.
ANGELINA: I’m telling you, he died here in Mushino.
COMMISSAR (taken aback): How is that?
ANGELINA: He got drunk with his booze buddies from the auto service and flew off the bridge. There were no barriers there, thank God, he didn’t hit anyone.
COMMISSAR: Excuse me, but what does it have to do
with us?
ANGELINA: My boy was only forty, he could live and live for so many more years... (She cries, takes out a large framed wedding portrait of her son and his military ID from the bag.) Here is his photograph, look what a fine lad he was. (The COMMISSAR, ignoring the old woman, moves the portrait and military ID to the edge of the table.)
COMMISSAR: I understand your grief, old lady.
ANGELINA: Angelina Vasilievna. Did you too lose a son in the war?
COMMISSAR: No.., I have a daughter. Where was your son awarded, in Chechnya? (Pause.)
ANGELINA: No.., please, look at his military ID, everything must be written in there.
COMMISSAR (reads the ID, jumps up): Motherfucker, this flat-footed bastard hasn’t even served! (Angrily throws the ID onto the table.)
ANGELINA (falls to her knees, writhes in hysterics): Father dearest, do not get angry, forgive this foolish old woman, save and help, restore the honor of my child, I entreat you! Father dearest, benefactor, my only son.. (peels off her scarves and shawls, scatters them on the floor; bareheaded and disheveled, she promptly glues herself to the commissar’s shoes); I’m bowing down at your feet, do not drive me away, sweet lord, waaaaah!..
COMMISSAR (trying to get rid of the old woman): No, no, please, ma’am, stop it! Get up! I can’t help you in any way! How do you not understand!? (Gritting his teeth.) Oh, you old fool!
ANGELINA (raises her head, reveals the large wooden gilded cross with a hidden camera on her chest, takes it in both hands, kisses it and adjures the COMMISSAR with the cross): I entreat you, I entreat you, sire, don’t banish the wretched mother for the sake of your darling daughter; I’ll pray for you all my life, my dearest, only help and save, don’t cast me out! Didn’t Jesus our Lord say: ‘Knock, and it will be opened to you’?
COMMISSAR: I don’t understand how I can help you. I have work to do, the homeland is in danger, do you understand? Your son shouldn’t have been drinking in the garages, he should have mobilized himself, then, maybe, he’d be alive now, and even if he wasn’t, at least he would have died a hero, not like this...
ANGELINA: That’s it, that’s it, my dearest, he who has ears to hear, let him hear – you’ve heard! Glory to you, Lord, you’ve heard! Veritable truth you speak, Mikhail Ivanovich. (She swiftly climbs back onto the chair, not letting go of the cross.)
COMMISSAR: I’m glad you understood me. Well, there is no changing it now, you can’t bring back the dead.
ANGELINA: Yes! Yes! Veritable words... But honor, Mihal Ivanovich, honor can still be restored! You can, Mihal Ivanovich, restore honor to my boy, you are God here! Here’s Andryusha, my gransonny (takes out a small photo of her gransonny and hands it to the COMMISSAR, who automatically accepts it), from my third daughter-in-law, she’s been married to my Nikolenka for three years now... I myself became a widow with five-year-old Kolenka, I know all how hard it is for her, have pity on the orphan, he’s the only one I have left, the light in my window – little Andryusha!
COMMISSAR: What can I do about it? He’s too young to serve.
ANGELINA: I beseech you, dearest, all-merciful Mihal Ivanovich, restore honor to Andryushenka, I entreat you, I’m entreating you on my knees, have mercy, don’t banish the old woman! (She falls to her knees again, raising the cross to the sky.)
COMMISSAR: Calm down, no one’s banishing you. Sit down. (ANGELINA crawls back onto the chair.) Calm down. I don’t understand what honor you’re talking about, what honor should I restore to you?
ANGELINA: You don’t say! Just now you yourself deigned to speak rather unpleasantly about my darling Nikolenka, saying that he was a flat-footed bastard who dodged the army.
COMMISSAR (interrupts): Ah! Well, alright, I take back my words, I got carried away. Satisfied? Now go with God.
ANGELINA: No! No! You were right, Mihal Ivanovich, don’t take back your words! That was what you ought to say, you’re a military man, a man of honor, but someone like my son, a deadbeat, troublemaker, he’s before you like a worm before a falcon, I understand that. You know about my disgrace, you alone, no one else, you can keep it secret, but how will I live among people?! How will my
Andryushenka live among people after that?! Ultimately,
they will find out everything too!
COMMISSAR: Find out what?
ANGELINA: They’ll find out how he died. Because that’s how we live, Mihal Ivanovich: we’re all tight-knit, all know everything about everyone, in school, the teachers know everything about each child. In almost every other house, the man’s either at the front or already killed. How my Andryushenka will go to first grade in three years, they’ll line up all the children and ask: ‘Who are you!?’, and all his classmates will answer in unison: ‘We are the children of the victors! Our fathers fell, defending the sacred motherland!’ But what will my Andryushenka say along with them? The teacher will pull him out by the ear, stand him in front of the class and say: ‘No, Andryushenka, don’t lie, Andryushenka, your dad didn’t fall for the sacred motherland, he fell off the bridge being dead drunk. While his comrades shed blood, saving the country, he hid under his mommy’s skirt!’ How will he live with this, Mihal Ivanovich, how will he look his comrades in the eye? How will my daughter-in-law and I, how will I look into the eyes of the neighbors and friends whose children perished there or returned without arms and legs? How will I stand side by side with them in church, praying for the deceased, how will I look into the eyes of the Lord now! Save us, dearest father (falls to her knees, raising the cross), save or kill, smite with lightning this old fool who couldn’t raise her son to be a man! Waaaaaah...
COMMISSAR: I don’t understand what you want from
me. Well, you may make a donation for the outfit for new recruits, I’ll give you a commendation certificate, you can show it to your women.
ANGELINA: You are the Lord God here, dearest father. I will make a donation to you, I have the money with me, that’s the sole purpose of my coming here (widens her eyes, utters in a sepulchral voice) – a mi-i-ion rubles! (She presses the bag to her chest, not letting go of the cross.) Everything I have, everything that God’s sent to the old woman for her whole life – all our family’s savings over the years; we thought of taking out a mortgage for an apartment but now without my Nikolenka, it’s of no use to us! (She glances back at the door, whispers fearfully.) Mikhail Ivanovich, I want to buy my son’s lost honor from you.., while you retroactively register him as a recruit to make it look like he died there, in action.., fighting the Nazis, and bury him with military honors, as it should be, and maybe even assign him some posthumous rank or little decoration.

(Pause. The military COMMISSAR widens his eyes at the old woman, swells and turns purple, unbuttons his collar, fills with rage, rises above the chair, breathes heavily, however, bursts not so loudly at all as it could be expected.)

COMMISSAR: Oh, you bitch! Sneaky viper, so this is what you’ve come up with... (ANGELINA falls face down, clings to the military commissioner’s legs, the COLONEL tries to pull her away by her hair, but she doesn’t come off.) Slipping me a bribe so as to get ten times more coffin money for your slacker?!
ANGELINA (releases the commissioner’s legs, lifts up the cross, melts into tears): Two, two million, Mikhail Ivanovich! I swear by Christ the Lord, I don’t need any money, take everything, everything for your boys, for your soldiers, just restore the honor, the honor to my Nikolenka and his little son Andryushenka, so they can look good people in the eye! ×