Short story from my volume: The Door and other extraordinary stories
I don't know if I can confess or if I should be ashamed, but that theatre play was the only one I enjoyed, even more so as I understood so little of it. Its start, in particular, lingers in my mind almost like an obsession. “Is this death for sale?” he asked, “No!” he answered firmly.
I don't know what methods did the actors use or who was their consultant, maybe a system of mirrors, maybe an illusionist or maybe modern techniques with well-hidden screens however it is clear that moment I saw death.
It appeared suddenly, without anything forespeaking of it, as if it had always been there, and it would have only be let seen when the other would discover it. My blood froze; I must admit, because I never thought I would get to see death until it would come for me. And I was even more terrified as it was not the skeletal image, with a black trail and a scythe in the hand, but naked, strangely beautiful, like a smoke, which was shivering as if the lamps of an old TV set had heated too much or maybe too little, however, did not have the right temperature. And it was hot; I didn’t even realize how much I was sweating. Most certainly, everybody else was also sweating just as much, but I no longer knew anything about their existence. It was only me, face to face, although a few meters away on the impromptu stage with her. Every time the first one would say “Is this death for sale?” the image would shiver as if it were scared not to be sold.
If it would have been a movie, I would have blamed it on the special effects. I would have rather have it be a cartoon, and for that apparition not to be like that, but happy, to scare the kids a little bit, but no more than the step mother in Snow White, so beautifully drawn by Disney. I liked that cartoon so much… But no, I was at the theatre, the actors were in front of me, and that image existed. When the first one took it by the hand and intended to leave, to get rid of the second, the contrast between his sunburned hand and her white hand was so big that I almost felt it was hurting me. She followed him humble. She was so beautiful wreathed in nakedness that I forgot who she was. Only when she turned her head and grinned at me I realized.
The second act wasn’t second to the first, although I couldn’t understand now either how did they manage to set it up. An actor was walking like a Hamlet on the bicycle, perorating al sort of incomprehensible words. At one point, from behind the curtain, actually through the curtain, a young woman appeared dressed in a riding costume. She was indeed holding a horsewhip in one hand and was riding a saddle which floated about one meter above the stage. When the fake Hamlet spoke to her for the first time, the young woman fell off the imaginary horse. What if monkeys instead of climbing down from the threes, he said, and then she became a monkey, would have jumped up, and she jumped, humans would now have wings, and she grew wings, and would fly through the sky like birds and she flew away.
The impression was so powerful that, although I knew it wasn’t real, it did not only seem real, but also perfectly normal. It was, how I can put it, logical. Evolution could have taken a different course, indeed, humans could have developed wings. It isn’t too late now either, I thought, in a few millions of years we might. Or maybe with the help of medical technique, even faster.
Of course I am now embarrassed by my thoughts from last night, but since I started I will maintain the same sincere register. However, I would not want for my fiancée to find out, that is why I am going to burry these pages as soon as I am over. The moment when thousands of bats entered the stage and started screaming and dancing the mating dance, I looked around. The spectators had all gone crazy. I believe you know what I mean by this…
Anyway, the ending was, at least for me, the climax. The apparition of the tragic choir, whatever, choir, is one way of putting it, a conventional word for naming that collective character, extremely important for theatre plays, but here it is inappropriate, because the “choir” wasn’t the same. For example, the way in which it would transform: at first — while the spectator would put their clothes back on, and on the stage an Indian with an olive skin, full of feathers from top to bottom, in fact I believe he was dressed only in feathers, was lighting the fire, yes, in the middle of the stage! — first the head of the first member of the choir could be seen, and only after a few seconds the rest of the body. He was dressed like a Franciscan monk. Then, the same way, the second one appeared, and then the third and so on further until a choir made up of so many members that they would not even fit the stage, was formed. They were sitting crammed into each other, and those who could not fit, would float next to the stage. And none of them made any sound. They were just sitting crammed, around the fire, watching. Everyone felt he was watched, stared at, fixed on. I did not know what the silent choir tried to tell me, but I knew that I should have been frightened. However I tried to stay cool, especially since the fire caught them, so that the entire stage was on fire, and the choir was an unbelievable flame, a motionless bunch of flame-men, whom were staring and not saying anything. Not one word, not one gesture, not one breath. When the flames extinguished, without any doubt, on the empty, endless stage, a baby was playing with his own fingers. He was growing at a stunning pace, so that in a few seconds he became a young man, handsome as I would never know. From behind him, without being noticed before, a young woman appeared and here I can admit it was the most beautiful girl I ever saw, either in real life, either on TV/cinema. She caught him by the hand, gentle, he tackled her, I wouldn’t say protective, although the gesture was not far from such an interpretation. More like loving. They hugged and formed the body of a tree, whose branches immediately covered the entire stage. Than a huge noise, like a thunder which would have boomed straight in your brain, was heard, making everybody cover their ears, and the tree disappeared, leaving the stage empty. It stayed like that for several minutes, hours maybe, I cannot even remember and, anyway, I did not check my watch since I was holding my hands to my ears. A long time afterwards, or at least that is what I believe, I removed my hands and I saw that I was alone. Completely alone. And instead of the stage I was staring at the empty wall from my living room, a wall which for a long time is the subject of sometimes extremely passionate discussions, in respect to what we should put on it. My fiancée would have liked one of Klimt’s paintings. I would have liked a smart TV, if possible 3D, to be able to display on it not one painting but entire exhibitions, museums or theatres. Although after yesterday’s experience it would be better to stick to their TV programs, Talk-shows, news, forecasts, analysis and para-analysis which will never endanger my mental health, because I for one, I confess, I would rather die healthy, in my bed, at one hundred years old; I’m not interested in experiences out of the ordinary I don’t want to be in any way different than the rest of the population. I want to be a happy Romanian, but what am I saying a Romanian: a common man, a European citizen, if not of the world, without questions and without answers. Isn’t it better like than ladies and gentlemen? Isn’t that what we all want?