Vittorio Franceschi

"Jack the Reaper"
 

Translation by Kevin John Tierney
 
 
 
 

Synopsis

A modern-day serial killer has already killed 18 women.  A small, private television crew has identified the house (a dark basement-level apartment) of the mother of the killer - dubbed “Jack the Reaper” by the press, after the historic Jack in whose footsteps today's Jack is following.  In fact, he kills in the same way as London's Jack of the late nineteenth century.  It was is a childhood friend of Jack, his best friend, who disclosed discloses the old woman's house to the crew.  And it is the same friend who drove drives them there, to respond, with the mother, to the journalist's questions about Jack (now even his mother and friend refer to him by this name), who disappeared years ago (although a light filters through the closed door of his room).  What were his tastes? His favorite color? Did he believe in God? And his early childhood? Girls? Questions abound, bold and silly alike, while the crew bit by bit lights the cavernous room, making it into a bright studio set: curtains, mirrors, armchairs and couches, spotlights… is it possible that television transforms reality? It would be a fantastic story.  The journalist persists with her inquiries and we can ask ourselves if beside the old mother, is it really a friend of Jack or Jack himself responding to the questions?  Such is the process of identification of this strange character who knows everything about Jack, even the innermost secret workings of his mind.  Perhaps more prudence, more sensibility, more respect for this mother's pain is necessary.  But the crew delves unrelentingly into the darkest corners, even asking the friend to re-enact a crime, with a young starlet called up to play the victim.  Magnificent, bravo! Everything is recorded, and soon the material will be ready to air, an audience is guaranteed.  But suddenly, there is a black-out.  Agitated voices in the dark, this is not fiction!  A few seconds.  When the lights return, the journalist is on the ground, stabbed to death.  Who was it?  Has Jack returned?  Or has his friend already taken over all of his characteristics, including homicide?  Or, more simply, are Jack and his friend the same person?  We will never know.  But is it really that important?  The crew is terrified and runs out, jumping over the corpse.  Chaos is God's crazy brother, the mother says, which of the two will judge us?
 
 
 
 
 
 

JACK THE REAPER
(Jack lo sventratore)
(1992)

A play in two acts by
Vittorio Franceschi

___________________________________________________________

Characters

JACK'S FRIEND - a man in his forties
JACK'S MOTHER

A somewhat scruffy crew of a small, private TV program, composed of:

The JOURNALIST (Bianca) - beautiful, somewhat intellectual, in her thirties
The DIRECTOR (Elio) - in his forties
The CAMERA-MAN (Lallo) - in his fifties
The ELECTRICIAN (Alberto) - who does not speak
The SOUND TECHNICIAN (Gigi) - who does not speak

Additionally:

CAROLINA - a very cute young actress
 

___________________________________________________________
 
 
 
 
 

ACT ONE

In the basement level of an apartment complex.  A large, bare and squalid room, more like a garage than an apartment.  There are two doors on the back wall, left and right.  Next to the left door there is a switch.  A short distance from the right door, towards center, a filthy sink with only one basin and a broken mirror.  On the left wall, there is the main entrance, which is wider than normal, like a shop door.  A bit more downstage is a chipped door to the bathroom.  Set up by the left wall is a little Formica table with metal legs.  On it, a small lamp, a radio, and piles of puzzle magazines, many of which are scattered on the floor.  Next to the table are an old wicker chair and a cloth (canvas) folding chair.  Here and there are mountains of cardboard boxes and various junk.  On the upstage wall, twenty-three calendars are hung in an orderly manner, in tiers.  Two lines of nine below one line of five.  Low on the left, hung by a nail, a dark jacket.  High on the left wall are three little frosted-glass windows which look out to the building's courtyard.  At center, hanging from the ceiling, there is a rectangular light, similar to those used in billiard halls.  On the right wall, towards the back, is the circuit breaker.  A light filters from under the door on the left and its keyhole.

It's about ten in the evening, and the scene is dark.  The sound of a motor is heard from outside.  The light from two headlights beams for an instant from the windows, weakly lighting the set before disappearing.  The motor stops, car doors slam, and we hear the scuffling of feet.  The door on the left suddenly opens and quickly closes again.  Again the set is lit, due to the intense light coming from the room.  We have enough time to see the figure of an elderly woman sitting on the wicker chair.  Then everything falls (goes) dark again.  A key turns in the main entrance door, which opens slowly, letting through the dim light of a streetlight.  The beam of a flashlight, held by JACK'S FRIEND, cuts the darkness.

JACK'S FRIEND
Shut the door.
(The door is shut. In the semi-darkness we catch
a glimpse of a few silhouettes.)
Here.
(With the flashlight, JACK'S FRIEND illuminates
the calendars, the sink, the doors, and finally
the seated woman - JACK'S MOTHER - who protects
her eyes with her hand.)

MOTHER
Turn off that flashlight.

JACK'S FRIEND
Sorry.
(The scene falls into darkness, but after a
moment the lamp turns on. Now we see a bit better
the characters that have entered together with
JACK'S FRIEND: the JOURNALIST, the DIRECTOR, the
CAMERA-MAN, and two TECHNICIANS, who are carrying
a few rolls of electric cables. They all stand
motionless in front of the main door.)

MOTHER
Come forward.

JACK'S FRIEND
I didn't mean to hurt your eyes. I wasn't even sure I would find you here.

MOTHER
And where did you think I would be?

JACK'S FRIEND
Well, I don't know. In bed, resting.

MOTHER
Why would you think that! I was waiting for you.
(Eyes the group.)
There were supposed to be two.

JOURNALIST
Plus the director. Good evening, ma'am!

MOTHER
No. Two in total.

JACK'S FRIEND
Maybe it's my fault, I didn't specify well. But I am sure that there were three. Two plus the director.

MOTHER
But there are five.

DIRECTOR
For a transmission (show or program) like this, it was the minimum, ma'am. Eighteen installments is no joke.

JOURNALIST
I assure you that the troupe is already down to the barest minimum.

CAMERA-MAN
I'm a man of few words, and those two are mute.
(Indicates the two TECHNICIANS)

DIRECTOR
Carolina has been warned, too. We told her: don't buzz, don't call, just knock lightly. Delicately.

MOTHER
Who is Carolina?

JOURNALIST
An assistant (A want-to-be actress). She'll be joining us later.

DIRECTOR
As soon as she finishes her show at the Old Regular.

MOTHER
Is she really necessary?

  JOURNALIST
Smiles are very important on the small screen. To break the tension, understand? A couple of remarks, a pair of lips…

MOTHER
We're not off to a good start.

CAMERA-MAN
Calm down, we're being quiet. (Don't worry, we'll keep it down)

MOTHER
It's not because of the noise - no one can hear anything coming from down here. It's all the coming and going that worries me.

DIRECTOR
There will be no comings and goings. As soon as the girl arrives, we bolt the door and for a week, nobody leaves this place.  We've got cots, food, everything. A bunker. Have some faith.

  MOTHER
If someone discovers us…

  JOURNALIST
Ma'am, we guarantee you the highest secrecy (maximum confidentiality). I'll take full responsibility.

  DIRECTOR
We are a very serious station.

  JOURNALIST
It's in everyone's best interest, right?

  JACK'S FRIEND
Otherwise, good-bye scoop!
 (ALL smile)
Is there some coffee left?

  MOTHER
No.

  JACK'S FRIEND
News from Jack?

  MOTHER
No.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Okay… well, let's make ourselves comfortable.
 (Takes the folding chair, opens it, and places it
 in front of the JOURNALIST)
Please.

  JOURNALIST
 (Having taken out from her briefcase a pen, a
 notepad, and some loose papers.)
How kind.
 (Sits.)

  JACK'S FRIEND
Well… this is Jack's home.

  DIRECTOR
 (Indicating the up-left door.)
What's in there?

  JACK'S FRIEND
Jack's room.

  DIRECTOR
Ah, interesting!

  JACK'S FRIEND
But you can't go in.
  DIRECTOR
Why not?

  MOTHER
You can't.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Don't insist.

  JOURNALIST
It would be very important for the transmission.

  MOTHER
No.
 (General discomfort)

  CAMERA-MAN
And over there?
 (Indicates the door on the right)

  JACK'S FRIEND
The bathroom.

  DIRECTOR
And over there?
 (Indicates the up-right door)

  MOTHER
That is my room. Go right on in.
 (No one moves.)
Please.

  DIRECTOR
Later, later.

  MOTHER
There are a lot of photographs.

  JOURNALIST
 (Rising, very interested)
Ah-ha!

  DIRECTOR
Photographs?
 (Takes a step toward the door)

  JACK'S FRIEND
But only of Jack as a child. Of Jack as a little kid. Nothing that could reveal what the Jack of today (today's Jack) looks like. There aren't any photos of Jack after he was twelve.

 (The JOURNALIST sits back down)

  CAMERA-MAN
Couldn't we have a bit more light? I won't say another thing.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Yes, of course. No need to settle for darkness.
 (Flicks the switch next to the left door. The
 ceiling light turns on, violently illuminating
 the middle of the room, which now vaguely
 resembles a boxing ring)
Round one, fight!
 (Laughs)

  CAMERA-MAN
Just look at the conditions we have to work with!

  DIRECTOR
What a shit-hole.

  JOURNALIST
Let's not exaggerate.

  MOTHER
It's our natural light.

  JOURNALIST
It's an interesting touch. Lallo, get ready.
 (The CAMERA-MAN shoulders the camera. The
 JOURNALIST grabs a microphone that she will hold
 out in turn to the interviewees)
Ma'am, may I ask a few questions?

  MOTHER
Of me?

  JOURNALIST
Sure. Tell us about yourself. It's a good way to start the transmission.

  MOTHER
There isn't much to say about my life. And besides, I'm not used to talking about it.

  JOURNALIST
It'll be a surprise, you'll see. Tell us about when you were a girl. Blonde? Brunette?

  MOTHER
I don't even remember anymore.

 (ALL laugh)

  DIRECTOR
Good, keep going! See? You've made a good impression with the audience.

  MOTHER
The audience?

  JOURNALIST
I mean, if we like you! We're a tough crowd, you know? But the audience is easy to please. Come on, continue. Let's say that you had red hair. Is red okay?

  MOTHER
If it's okay with you…

  JOURNALIST
How kind!

  DIRECTOR
Good! See? It's easy!

  JOURNALIST
So, what were you like as a girl? Dreams? Plans?

  MOTHER
As a girl, I was poor.

  DIRECTOR
 (Indicating to the CAMERA-MAN to zoom in on the
 MOTHER)
Lallo, go.

  MOTHER
My parents made every sacrifice so that I could study. I loved history, philosophy, literature.

  JOURNALIST
So you have some cultural interests.

  MOTHER
Oh, not any more. Now I do cross-word puzzles.

  JACK'S FRIEND
But she never finishes them. She's always left with a few blank boxes.

  MOTHER
It feeds the Hudson. Six letters.  Well! I also like proverbs. Live as a wolf, die as a wolf… the hare gets away when the dog looks away…

  JOURNALIST
And to what do we owe this decline in interest?

  MOTHER
In what?

  JOURNALIST
In culture.

  MOTHER
Ah… I was about to graduate when I met an enterprising young man who asked me to be his wife. I said yes. My parents cried, but I was happy. I loved him. He did a thousand different jobs, and I was there behind him: washing, cooking, laughing. When we had bills to pay, instead of paining ourselves, we said(we would say): today, let's invent life!

  JOURNALIST
Beautiful! Right, Elio?

  DIRECTOR
Yes, very poetic.
 (The two TECHNICIANS exit)

  MOTHER
He had many brilliant ideas, he was an artist. One day he opened a shop of artificial flowers. He (It) was a success, and then (I even)  I got pregnant. We wanted a boy, and a boy was born.

  CAMERA-MAN
What luck! I've got three girls!

  DIRECTOR
Quiet, you!

  CAMERA-MAN
Sorry, sorry. It just sticks it to me right here.
 (Indicates his stomach)
If nothing else, they've gotten past the little dresses and sweaters (they were able to pass on dresses and sweaters). Let's just say that that was a relief. (At least we saved money there)

  JOURNALIST
 (To the MOTHER)
And then?

  MOTHER
We went to live in a little house with a garden. First we rented it, then after a few years it was ours. There was an abundance of light there. So many large windows, sun the whole day. I don't like the sun.

  JACK'S FRIEND
 (As if recalling an ancient dialogue)
“Open the curtains, Mom!” - “Too much sun ruins the plants!” - “Is it possible to have two good things together? Why do we always deny ourselves one of the two?” - “I don't know what to say to you, Enrico. But don't you open those curtains!”…

 (Looks at the on-lookers with an air of one who
 asks: did you like that?)

  MOTHER
We were passably happy. We had a dog, a cat and two magnolias. You wouldn't even know that (Would you know it that here inside bloomed roses, lilies, violets. More beautiful than real ones. A garden.
 (She covers her face with her hand, as if she has
 just now noticed the presence of the camera.)
  JOURNALIST
You don't mind if we film, right? It's important material. Memories, the past. Everything is born there. Over here, Lallo.
 (The CAMERA-MAN changes position and keeps on
 filming.)

  DIRECTOR
 (To the two TECHNICIANS who are returning with
 more equipment.)
Quietly.

 (From here on out, the two will exit and enter
 several times, bringing from off-stage various
 crates containing curtains, electric and sound
 equipment, mainly stage lights and microphones,
 which they will mount on stage.)

  JOURNALIST
 (Fanning herself with her notepad)
How on earth were you relocated here?

  MOTHER
You can say banished. After fifteen years of marriage, my husband ran off with an eighteen-year-old girl who worked for him and I never saw him again.
 (The DIRECTOR stifles a laugh)
He sold the house without telling me anything, including the furniture, even the magnolias, even the camera. He took away the dog and left us the cat. Pinched-up black and white little bastard, as my son used to say. Luckily, the shop was still being leased, and the contract was in my name. Jack was twelve.

  JOURNALIST
But aren't there any windows here?

  JACK'S FRIEND
There.
 (Indicates the little windows up high)
Dark at night, dark during the day.

  MOTHER
As if it weren't enough, cars park up against those windows.

  JACK'S FRIEND
That's when Jack began slashing tires.

  JOURNALIST
Interesting. He started out like that? Lallo, in on him.

  DIRECTOR
 (To JACK'S FRIEND, tidying him up)
Smoothly,(Stay cool) okay? Without Jack here, you are the protagonist, you need to feel like you are the master of the field. Would you mind standing more over here?
 
 (The DIRECTOR places JACK'S FRIEND center, under
 the light)

  JACK'S FRIEND
Here?

  DIRECTOR
Does that work, Lallo?

  CAMERA-MAN
Good.

 (Meanwhile, the SOUND TECHNICIAN has placed a
 microphone stand, with microphone, in front of
 JACK'S FRIEND)

  JACK'S FRIEND
What do I need to do?

  JOURNALIST
Not a thing, sir, just respond (answer) to the questions.

  DIRECTOR
Naturally.

  JOURNALIST
Would you like to sit down? We have a couch and a rocking chair, too, in the van.

  JACK'S FRIEND
No thanks, I'm ready to roll right now!

  (ALL laugh)
 

  CAMERA-MAN
That's great!
 (To his colleagues)
Isn't he friendly! (He's a good sport, no?)

 (The DIRECTOR sits down again)

  JOURNALIST
 (Speaking into a microphone that she holds in her
 hand)
Anyway,(So,) he used to slash tires.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Yes, but it didn't last long. It didn't give him any pleasure. I mean… he was looking for something else. And besides, he couldn't stand the owners yelling. One time, they beat him (up).

  JOURNALIST
He was discovered!

  MOTHER
There wasn't any proof.

  JOURNALIST
Maybe someone saw him…

  MOTHER
There wasn't any proof!

  JACK'S FRIEND
For a while, they didn't park their cars there anymore. Then they started to again.

  CAMERA-MAN
Just like in my neighborhood, same thing. The other Sunday…

  DIRECTOR
Hey, no, Lallo, c'mon.

  CAMERA-MAN
Sorry.

  DIRECTOR
If everybody's talking… if everybody's making comments… then we'll need to cut here, edit there… alright, no, okay?!
  JOURNALIST
We're not cutting anything, we're leaving it all. Truth, naturalness. Voices, comments, sounds, everything. Even the fuck-ups, people like that. Like real life.
 (To the MOTHER)
Every installment will be divided in three parts. The first is introductory: some color, setting, interviews, etc. Then the central part: reconstruction of the crime. Then the conclusion: round table discussion with the experts.

  MOTHER
Will I need to be there, too?

  JOURNALIST
No, not you. If anything, at the last installment, as a guest.
 (To JACK'S FRIEND)
After that incident, did Jack slash tires again?

 (JACK'S FRIEND hesitates)

  DIRECTOR
 (Indicating the microphone stand)
Speak into the microphone.

  MOTHER
No.

  JACK'S FRIEND
No. He confided in me once…
 (To the JOURNALIST)
Jack told everything to me! He confided in me that he had gone out to slash again. He had already opened the knife. This one.

 (JACK'S FRIEND fishes out of his pocket a
 switchblade wrapped in a white handkerchief
 marked with blood. Instinctively, everyone gets
 closer to look.)

  CAMERA-MAN
I can't see anything.

 (Everyone moves back)

  DIRECTOR
Hey, close-up?
  CAMERA-MAN
Of course.

  DIRECTOR
 (To JACK'S FRIEND)
Open it. Open the handkerchief.
 (JACK'S FRIEND very cautiously opens the
 handkerchief)
Pull out the blade.
 (JACK'S FRIEND looks at the MOTHER, who looks
 away. Then he puts the bloody handkerchief into
 his jacket pocket and pulls out the blade)
Now wield it.

  MOTHER
 (Bending over the cross-word puzzle)
When dreams end, the monsters run free.

  DIRECTOR
 (To JACK'S FRIEND)
Come on, wield it. Good. And now make a movement (gesture) like this, as if to strike…

 (The DIRECTOR indicates a striking gesture from
 bottom to top)

  MOTHER
No!

  DIRECTOR
Hey, she can't keep on saying no! Stop!

  MOTHER
The motion is too familiar.

  JOURNALIST
This, however, you need to leave to us to decide. I realize, you are the mother of the monster…
 (The JOURNALIST freezes on the inside)
But we need to have freedom of movement.

  DIRECTOR
A little.

  JOURNALIST
I guarantee you, ma'am, that we will make proper use of this material. Not to mention that we're paying.
  DIRECTOR
We're paying very well!

  MOTHER
I know, I know…

  JACK'S FRIEND
 (Still wielding the knife)
It isn't very good of you.

  JOURNALIST
It's neither good nor bad. The contract is signed and you've already taken the deposit.

  MOTHER
We shouldn't have…

  JACK'S FRIEND
 (Leaning over the MOTHER, affectionately)
We did it for your own good, Jack entrusted you to me. You need care, there's the light bill to pay, food to buy. And you need to buy a new pair of glasses.
 (To the onlookers)
She can't even do her crossword puzzles any more!
 (To the MOTHER)
And then, what if Jack comes back!
 (To the onlookers)
Because he can come back at any moment!
 (To the MOTHER)
Is this what you would call a house? Does it seem fitting to you to welcome him here? With this money, you could furnish it, buy a washer, a television… so you can watch when this goes on air!
 (To the onlookers)
When does this go on air?

  JOURNALIST
In December.

  JACK'S FRIEND
 (To the MOTHER)
For Christmas!

  JOURNALIST
And also, by talking openly about Jack, many things will be understood, so many aspects of his personality, so many taboos will cease to be.
  JACK'S FRIEND
You all can't imagine how many lies they tell. Whenever the newspapers are short on news they pull out Jack's story. To every murdered woman's name, they pin the name of Jack, they remember him only when there's a corpse. “It's Jack's work”, “Suspicions on Jack”, “The nth victim of Jack”, “The same methods”!

  MOTHER
Twenty years later!

  JACK'S FRIEND
Jack only killed young girls. Sometimes…
 (The MOTHER cries)
… nearly kids. The oldest of all his victims was only twenty two years old. Ornella. Last week, they killed a sixty four-year-old prostitute. Strangled and raped. And instantly they blame Jack. But Jack never raped his victims, let alone strangled them. He used a knife. How can they say the same methods? A sixty four-year-old prostitute! Jack will be furious! All of his victims were perfumed with lily of the valley (hyacinth), understand? Lily of the valley!

  JOURNALIST
Yes, we read that.

  JACK'S FRIEND
But Jack has already stopped killing. Twenty years have passed since the last time.

  MOTHER
 (Who has regained her composure)
He's healed! (Cured.)

  JACK'S FRIEND
People change.

  MOTHER
Twenty years! If I saw him, I wouldn't recognize him.

  DIRECTOR
So no slashing gesture?

  JOURNALIST
No gesture.

 (To the DIRECTOR)
Or maybe later on.
 (To the CAMERA-MAN)
Go back to the knife and then onto me.
 (The CAMERA-MAN films)
This is the knife of Jack the Reaper. With this knife Jack killed eighteen women. But the hand holding it isn't Jack's, it is his dearest friend's. His best friend, childhood friend.
 (Takes under her arm JACK'S FRIEND, who is
 visibly embarrassed)
They grew up together. They dreamed together. They cried together. Sir, do you know Jack?

  JACK'S FRIEND
Oh, yes.

  JOURNALIST
Do you care about him?

  JACK'S FRIEND
Oh, yes. Very much.

  JOURNALIST
Could you tell us something about him?

  JACK'S FRIEND
Yes. What?

  JOURNALIST
Whatever you like. Your childhood games, his favorite color.

  MOTHER
Yellow.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Yellow.
 (To the MOTHER)
Also green.
 (To the JOURNALIST)
But yellow more.

  JOURNALIST
Was he an animal lover?
 

  JACK'S FRIEND
Yes, your honor.

 (The onlookers look at him, stupefied)

  DIRECTOR
Why “your honor”?

 (JACK'S FRIEND hesitates to respond)

  MOTHER
He always said it, since he was a kid. I believe he read it in a book.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Actually, no. He actually saw it in a film. Jack didn't read much, Jack read very little. Open and shut (open and close, that's what he did with books just) like some surgeons when they discover that the sickness has won. Instead he went to the movies a lot. He liked courtroom dramas. There's always someone who says “your honor” there. In the finale.

  DIRECTOR
Wait! I have an idea! Fantastic!

  JOURNALIST
What?

  DIRECTOR
A court!

  MOTHER
 (Rising)
What do you mean by that?

  DIRECTOR
Calm down, ma'am. Nothing dangerous.
 (He makes her sit back down)
The proceedings. The courtroom. Jack's friend reconstructs the crimes. His mother testifies.
 (To the JOURNALIST)
And you will be the chief justice, who asks all the questions. It's a game, I mean. The truth won't be altered. Just re-dressed. And it really needs some re-dressing, poor thing. As it is, it isn't very nice to look at.

  JOURNALIST
As long as we're clear on one thing: the transmission (show)is mine, I conduct it, the interviews are mine. I decide the order of the crimes, too.

  DIRECTOR
Don't you think that they will decide that? They want to respect the real order of events.

  JOURNALIST
We'll see. There's a game of sequences that I'm particularly fond of.

  DIRECTOR
Sequences?

  JOURNALIST
The game of the seasons. Summer crimes, winter crimes, spring crimes… it could be an idea, don't you think?

  DIRECTOR
Yes, yes… it could be…
 (To the MOTHER)
We're going to transform the room a bit but without ruining anything. Then we'll put everything back in order.

  MOTHER
I don't know if Jack would be happy.

  DIRECTOR
I think he would, I think he would. If he said “your honor”…

  JOURNALIST
 (Signaling to the CAMERA-MAN to start filming)
Did he say it often?

  JACK'S FRIEND
Mm, yes. Once in a while. He dreamed of being condemned unjustly.

  DIRECTOR
This is great! Why?

  JACK'S FRIEND
He said that injustice brings you closer to God. He had searched a lot in that direction.
  MOTHER
 (Leaning over the crossword puzzle)
Contributes after the Missouri and the Ohio .

  JOURNALIST
We'll have a method to get deeper. But let's proceed in an orderly fashion. We were talking about tires, and slashing them. Jack had gone out into the courtyard a second time.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Ah, yes. He had just opened the knife. But he didn't slash the tires.

  JOURNALIST
Was he disturbed? Did someone arrive?

  JACK'S FRIEND
No, it was just…
 (Looks at the knife that he clutches in his hand)
He had pity for the knife.

  MOTHER
 (Still over her crossword puzzle)
For the blade.

  JACK'S FRIEND
For the blade. Yes, he talked to her (it) often, and so…

  CAMERA-MAN
To the blade?

  JACK'S FRIEND
Yes. Excuse me… can I loosen up a little bit? Excuse me…

  JOURNALIST
But of course.

 (JACK'S FRIEND closes the knife, wraps it up
 again in the handkerchief, and puts it back in
 his pocket)

  DIRECTOR
Wait! In the meanwhile, how about the rest of us think about the court. Everybody before the bar! Do we have a balustrade?

  CAMERA-MAN
We've got everything, doc.

  DIRECTOR
And a gavel?

  CAMERA-MAN
We even have that.
 (The SOUND TECHNICIAN fishes a gavel from a crate and pounds it)
Order in the court!

 (Little chuckles. JACK'S FRIEND, in a corner, is
 moving to loosen up his muscles. The two
 TECHNICIANS exit)

  DIRECTOR
Good, loosen up. Like that!

  JACK'S FRIEND
It strengthens the solar plexus. Oxidizes the adrenal gland… and the peritoneum… from here to here!
 (Extends his hand first with the palm down low
 and then up high)
Not to mention the liver… the spleen… and obviously the lungs, always there inside…
 (Indicating the DIRECTOR's chest)
…compressed… understand? Let it free, let it free!

  DIRECTOR
Yes, yes… of course…
 (Laughs stupidly, almost frightened)
Let it free!
 (Indicating the sink basin, to change subjects)
Can you drink out of that?(Is it potable, or drinkable?)

  JACK'S FRIEND
Yes.
 (The DIRECTOR drinks)
I don't know.

 (The DIRECTOR turns off the water and looks at
 the CAMERA-MAN pointing to his own head as if to
 say “this guy's crazy”)
  JOURNALIST
Better? You feel more relaxed?

  JACK'S FRIEND
My word, I didn't think… I could never be an actor.

  CAMERA-MAN
But look, you've got talent, I mean it. Think about it a little.

  JACK'S FRIEND
 (Rolling his head)
Too much tension.

  JOURNALIST
Do you want me to give you a massage? I'm good, you know? Sit down.

  DIRECTOR
 (To the CAMERA-MAN)
Now she's giving him a massage.

 (The DIRECTOR and CAMERA-MAN snicker)

  JOURNALIST
Sit down.
 (JACK'S FRIEND sits on the folding chair)
Now lean back. Are you afraid?
 (JACK'S FRIEND leans on her)
Lallo!…

  CAMERA-MAN
 (Filming)
Right away!

  JOURNALIST
 (Massaging JACK'S FRIEND's neck and shoulders)
Now how can you have pity for a blade?

  CAMERA-MAN
A piece of iron… (metal)

  JOURNALIST
Excuse me, Lallo, I'm conducting the interview.
 (To JACK'S FRIEND, starting up the massage again)
Perhaps Jack communicated with the steel? Did he have psychic capacities?
  JACK'S FRIEND
He used to say that in a blade there are millennia of thought. To understand man, you must be blade.

  JOURNALIST
Cut!
 (The CAMERA-MAN stops filming)
Hey, no! You need to be clearer! Television is a very simple and very direct means of communication. The news needs to be precise and dry, bam!! Be more explicit, otherwise… man, blade… it's confusing! If I don't understand it, imagine your average tv watcher! Don't speak in metaphors, please: one plus one is two. The ambush, the screams, the over-turned body. We're not at the theatre. Not even the movies, thank God. C'mon, let's film.(pick up where we left off) And you don't need to be so quiet.(reticent or hesitant)

  JACK'S FRIEND
I was speaking about a mystery.

  DIRECTOR
As long as there aren't too many mysteries, otherwise this Jack with all his eighteen crimes runs the risk of being a bore!

  CAMERA-MAN
Because the public doesn't wait,(wastes no time) you know? Tick tock, tick tock…

 (The CAMERA-MAN mimes flicking channels)

  JACK'S FRIEND
 (With sudden rage)
There are so many mysteries, more than you can imagine! But You will (could) never understand them. Never!

  JOURNALIST
Calm down, calm down.
 (To the MOTHER who has stood up)
Stay seated, ma'am. Nothing's happened.
 (Gestures to the CAMERA-MAN who starts filming
 again)
We didn't mean to offend Jack, or even less offend his mysteries. I'm sure I would like to know some of them.(I would sure like to know some of them)

  JACK'S FRIEND
Let's let the river run, Jack would say, when (all) the water has all come down, the gold-diggers will come to rummage through the stones.

  JOURNALIST
It's a very refined image.

  JACK'S FRIEND
No, it's muddy. Gold-diggers live in the sludge.
 (To the MOTHER)
May I have some coffee?

  MOTHER
I'll go make it.

  CAMERA-MAN
Extra large, (Better make it a double) okay?

  JOURNALIST
Listen… that room…

  JACK'S FRIEND
No, the room, no. I can't. You want the gesture? Like this: zip and zip!
 (Executes a very fast gesture, from the bottom to
 the top, ending in a strange curve)
But the room, no.

  JOURNALIST
 (Curious about the gesture)
How did you do that?

  JACK'S FRIEND
Like this: zip and zip!

 (JACK'S FRIEND repeats the gesture)

  DIRECTOR
Nice!

  JACK'S FRIEND
It's very easy. If you want, I can teach you it.(it to you) But she…
 (Points to the room where the MOTHER went)
… can't see.(But I don't want her to see or But she can't watch)

 (The two TECHNICIANS return with a yellow
 balustrade and place it center, just behind the
 microphone stand)
  JOURNALIST
That was so quick!

  JACK'S FRIEND
Oh, this is nothing. If you had seen Jack…

  DIRECTOR
Amazing!

  JACK'S FRIEND
You want to try? Look: like this.
 (Takes and guides the DIRECTOR's arm)
Zip and zip!

  DIRECTOR
It's true, it's incredibly easy!

  CAMERA-MAN
It's like a magic trick!

  DIRECTOR
 (Who has seen the balustrade)
Ah, beautiful! Perfect.

  JOURNALIST
So, the room?

  JACK'S FRIEND
No. The room, no.

  JOURNALIST
At least let me look through the keyhole.

  JACK'S FRIEND
No.

  JOURNALIST
Please.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Yes.
 (The JOURNALIST leans over to look, but JACK'S
 FRIEND quickly covers the keyhole with his hand)
That's enough.

  JOURNALIST
But there's a light on!
  JACK'S FRIEND
Yes, for twenty years now. Jack could come back at any minute.

  JOURNALIST
That's an insane expenditure!

  JACK'S FRIEND
Yes. Let's go.

 (JACK'S FRIEND conducts the JOURNALIST away from
 the door)

  DIRECTOR
 (Pointing at the balustrade)
Can we light this?
 (The ELECTRICIAN focuses the beam of a spotlight
 onto the balustrade)
Make it bigger… more… stop! Okay! We'll need the rocking chair. Or the couch?
 (To the JOURNALIST)
Martinelli…
 (The JOURNALIST, who's talking with JACK'S
 FRIEND, doesn't seem to hear)
Martinelli!

  JOURNALIST
Yes?

  DIRECTOR
Rocking chair or couch?

  JOURNALIST
I don't know, you decide.

  DIRECTOR
Rocking chair. It's much more original. And then… we'll need to fix up the sink.
 (The two TECHNICIANS exit)
Excuse me…

  JACK'S FRIEND
Me?

  DIRECTOR
Jack used to wash here?

  JACK'S FRIEND
Yes. And here (this is where he used to fill up his glass...) he filled up his glass before going to bed.

  DIRECTOR
Interesting.

  JACK'S FRIEND
He kept it on his nightstand.

  DIRECTOR
The glass?

  JACK'S FRIEND
Yes. But he never drank it.
 (Pointing to the room where the MOTHER is)
She would say: “why do you get water if you never drink it?” - “You must have faith in the thirst. Sooner or later it will arrive, and then… glub! glub!”
 (And the two glub glubs seem like two stabs)
He never spilled a drop despite there being a lot of loose rocks (stones) here.

  DIRECTOR
A true acrobat!

  JACK'S FRIEND
You need to keep the glass low. Look: below the knees, like this. And the arm is loose. And then you go, like this.
 (Mimes the movement)
And the water doesn't spill. Et voilà! Not a drop.

  JOURNALIST
You are a born actor. And even a mime. Let's do that again, huh? I want this: the nighttime thirst of Jack!(Jack's nighttime thirst)

  CAMERA-MAN
You're awfully intimate (close) with the old lady.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Intimate?(close)

  CAMERA-MAN
I mean… you seem at home, here. You know all the particulars…

  JACK'S FRIEND
Jack and I were childhood friends. Always together, playing and dreaming. So many afternoons in here! I'm like a son to her.
 (The two TECHNICIANS return, carrying a red
 rocking chair. They also carry an absurd pink and
 blue frame which they place around the sink -
 including the mirror - and two large, colorful
 curtains with sparkling sequins, which they set
 up on the two sides of the room, as if to frame
 it. The MOTHER also enters. She holds a tray with
 a few cups of coffee.)

  DIRECTOR
Gentlemen, the coffee has arrived!(coffee's ready)

  JACK'S FRIEND
Coffee!
 (Everyone approaches and they serve themselves)
Jack's mom makes wonderful coffee. No one knows how to make it like she does.  Yet another mystery.

 (Relaxed, everyone smiles)

  CAMERA-MAN
I'm curious about something. Sorry, can (may) I? But just don't tell me that it's a mystery: between you and Jack, who could run the fastest?

  DIRECTOR
What kind of a question is that? I've got a few of my own, too, you know!

  CAMERA-MAN
I'm interested.

  JACK'S FRIEND
I didn't care for speed. Jack neither. (Neither did Jack)

  MOTHER
He was awfully skinny.

  JACK'S FRIEND
He loved marathons. He would've liked to have become a great marathon runner. Like Pheidippides. To shout “we are victorious” and die.

  JOURNALIST
And die?
  JACK'S FRIEND
It's a beautiful death.

 (The MOTHER takes away the tray with the empty
 cups)

  CAMERA-MAN
But hey, you didn't answer my question. You talked in circles but didn't answer me.

  JACK'S FRIEND
 (To the JOURNALIST)
And you, how would you like to die?

  JOURNALIST
I've never thought about it.

  JACK'S FRIEND
I don't believe it.

  JOURNALIST
Honestly, never.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Not even as a little girl? All children think about death.

  JOURNALIST
As a little girl, I dreamed of marrying Humphrey Bogart. My mother would tell me, look, he's dead, but I still dreamed of marrying him. See? Death doesn't do it for me, we've never gotten along. The whole (very) idea is so far away from me…

  JACK'S FRIEND
Still… think about it a moment. Want me to help?

  JOURNALIST
I would like to die making love. To Humphrey Bogart!

 (Everyone smiles. The MOTHER enters, goes to sit
 and takes up the crossword puzzle again)

  CAMERA-MAN
Everyone here talks in circles, but no one answers the questions.

  MOTHER
An infernal river. Nine letters.
  JACK'S FRIEND
You'd need Jack! Yes, he would know how to answer!

  DIRECTOR
Lights!
 (The ELECTRICIAN abruptly turns on all the
 lights which violently illuminate the balustrade,
 the rocking chair, the framed sink, the curtains,
 etc. The room now looks like a television set, a
 mix between an entertainment hall and a
 children's tv show in a mess of cables and
 stands. On one side, the sound system)
The law is equal for all!
 (To the JOURNALIST)
You like?

  JOURNALIST
A court outside of time, a toy-court. Cute!

  DIRECTOR
Shall we proceed? Out in the house!
 (The ELECTRICIAN turns of the main light)
Would you mind moving yourself here?
 (Points JACK'S FRIEND to the balustrade. JACK'S
 FRIEND moves behind it)
Now say something. Sound test.

  JACK'S FRIEND
 (Speaking into the microphone)
I wish Jack were here.
 (The DIRECTOR signals him to speak louder)
There are a bunch of steps here (many stairs here), Jack! They've built a bunch these twenty years, I'd like to climb them with you! Okay?

 (The DIRECTOR gives JACK'S FRIEND the “OK” sign)

  JOURNALIST
What steps (stairs) were you talking about?

  JACK'S FRIEND
All of them. Jack and I had a true passion. What crazies!

  JOURNALIST
What do you mean?

  JACK'S FRIEND
We really liked steps.(stairs)
 (To the MOTHER)
Right?
 (The MOTHER does not respond)
Right?

  MOTHER
 (Without lifting her head)
Right.

  JACK'S FRIEND
She didn't approve, said that it was dangerous. Did we ever fall? Huh? Tell the truth, did we ever fall?

  MOTHER
 (Still with her head down)
No, never.

  JACK'S FRIEND
We scaled them all, up to the top. We went (up the steps) two at a time, three at a time. The higher, the better. Churches, monuments, towers. And if at the top there was a little wall, we went up that, too, and there we stood on tip-toe, as tall as possible. Shame on you if you put your heels down. Tip-toe, tip-toe! Higher, higher! More, more! Jack was certain that one day or another he would have grown wings.

  JOURNALIST
He had problems with girls.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Well, yeah. Like all boys. Who hasn't had problems with girls? Even girls have problems with girls!
 (Laughs with the JOURNALIST)
The hardest thing was to keep them happy.(cheerful or chipper)

  MOTHER
In my day, it wasn't like that. When we girls would look for a husband… we laughed right away to make them understand that we knew where our place was. Good little wives, respectful of our asshole (idiot) husbands. But today the littlest smile costs blood. You need to tear smiles out of them with pliers, those little bitches!

 (A girl's laughter is heard, sudden and loud)
  DIRECTOR
 (Standing next to the SOUND TECHNICIAN, who is
 balancing levels)
We're doing some level tests, sorry.

  JOURNALIST
 (To the MOTHER)
Our work is hard, you know, ma'am!… Lights, sounds, sets… we need to make a show out of nothing. Could you stand up, please? I'd like to talk a bit with you; you can't stay there in the dark.

 (The MOTHER stands)

  JACK'S FRIEND
Am I free?

  JOURNALIST
You are never free. You are my prisoner here, don't (didn't) you know?

  MOTHER
Where do I go?

  JOURNALIST
 (Not listening to the MOTHER)
You haven't told us yet your name yet.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Oh, well, I… I'm Jack's Friend… I prefer you … call me that: the friend. Like in those westerns. “Hey, amigo!”

  JOURNALIST
You'd like to remain anonymous. Okay, friend amigo. But don't try to escape me, you can't.
 (To the MOTHER, pointing to the rocking chair)
Ma'am, would you like to sit down over there?

  MOTHER
In the other house we had one, but we never used it. The cat slept there.

  JOURNALIST
Give it a Try!

  DIRECTOR
You'll like it. Let me help you.
 (The DIRECTOR makes the MOTHER comfortable)

  MOTHER
It has a strange effect on me.

 (The DIRECTOR gives a push to the chair, which
 rocks with a certain violence)

  DIRECTOR
And give (how about) a laugh, for once!

  MOTHER
Oh God! No!

  DIRECTOR
Yes! Yes, fly! (Take off)

  MOTHER
Enough! Help!

  DIRECTOR
Fasten your seatbelts!

  JOURNALIST
 (Speaking into the hand microphone, which she
 offers to the MOTHER every so often)
How are you, ma'am?

  DIRECTOR
It's rocking!

  MOTHER
I want to get off!

  JOURNALIST
Rocking, laughing, drinking coffee. A house like so many others in a town like so many others. Still… let's talk about Jack. The name Jack. It is the time for names. You have all asked yourselves if Jack is his real name. Is Jack your son's real name?

 (The DIRECTOR stops the rocking chair)

  MOTHER
Oh, no. My son's name is Enrico. Jack is a nickname. Enrico called it a pseudonym.

  JOURNALIST
Did he pick it?

  MOTHER
The papers picked it… after the third crime. They found certain analogies.

  JOURNALIST
For example?

  MOTHER
I'd rather not respond. It has to do with particulars…

 (The MOTHER covers her face with her hands)

  JOURNALIST
You don't want to tell us one? A little tiny one?

  MOTHER
No.

  JOURNALIST
 (Bothered, but professional)
We respect your pain, ma'am. Make yourself comfortable. (The MOTHER returns to her crossword puzzles)
Please.

 (Indicating the balustrade to JACK'S FRIEND, who
 moves himself there)

  DIRECTOR
 (Indicating the balustrade to the CAMERA-MAN, who
 starts filming)
Lallo…

  JOURNALIST
 (Exhibiting a piece of paper)
We have a list of names.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Yes. Eighteen names.

  JOURNALIST
Next to every name a date.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Yes.
  DIRECTOR
Could you speak up, please?

  JACK'S FRIEND
Yes. That good?

  DIRECTOR
Thanks. And don't look directly into the lens.

  JOURNALIST
We have checked with the old newspapers. The names correspond. And so do the dates.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Jack was very precise. He marked it all there.
 (Points to the calendars)
Every crime a date, every date a name. The hard part was starting off, as it always is with anything.

  JOURNALIST
Did Jack hate women?

 (The MOTHER makes a light, sarcastic laugh)

  JACK'S FRIEND
 (Almost hushing the MOTHER)
Oh, no. He loved them.
 

  MOTHER
He believed that he loved them.

  JACK'S FRIEND
However, he suffered a lot because of them. He followed them for hours and hours. He dreamed about them. He gave them gifts: flowers, necklaces. But he was without hope because they never returned the favor. (But he was mortified because they never loved him back.) They asked him what's your job, what's your salary, what kind of car do you have…

  MOTHER
An idealist and dreamer of a son who spends afternoons gazing at the clouds is the worst disgrace that can befall a mother. I prayed to Jesus to make me blind (I prayed to Jesus to make him blind), but Jesus only even cures the blind!

  JACK'S FRIEND
Jack was sweet, tender. He carved hearts out of stones and put them in the girls' pockets. Here… here…
 (Indicating various places)
But most of all in their overcoats. And he wrote letters. He had beautiful handwriting (He even had nice penmanship). But the girls never responded. One of them, one time, took the letter and tore it up in front of his face, without even opening it. Jack had spent a whole day and night writing it.

  MOTHER
She tore it up right in front of him!

  JACK'S FRIEND
Three months later, Jack and I met that girl on a platform at the train station. She asked us for a light, but didn't recognize us.

  JOURNALIST
Do you remember this girl's name?

  JACK'S FRIEND
No. It was… no. I should…

  MOTHER
Alice.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Alice, yes, that's right. Alice. Eighteen years old. Student.

  JOURNALIST
In fact, it's here on the list. Alice.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Yes. When Jack began to kill he remembered her.

  MOTHER
Alice was the third victim. It was right after her death that the papers started to talk about Jack the Ripper …

  JOURNALIST
About that…
  JACK'S FRIEND
But Jack corrected them immediately with a letter to the papers: the Reaper.

  CAMERA-MAN
But why the change?

  MOTHER
Ripping is for sheets of paper…

  JACK'S FRIEND
Are you speaking, or am I?
 (The MOTHER bows her head and is quiet)
But reaping is on a much larger scale. You can reap a field, a planet, a soul souls. That's what Jack said.

  JOURNALIST
One could say that Jack had great plans.

  MOTHER
Yes, enormous. If I told you them (them to you), you wouldn't believe it.

  JOURNALIST
You're a lucky mother, you know that? Children usually don't talk with their parents. Especially the sons, especially with their mothers. But your son told you everything.

  MOTHER
The first time he woke me in the middle of the night, still covered in blood. He told me I want to tell you everything, remember what I tell you because people forget, I know that people forget…

  JACK'S FRIEND
And he gave her a notebook and told her write, it's better this way, look, here's a pen, write. Isn't that right (so)?

  MOTHER
Right. Yes.

  JACK'S FRIEND
On the first page there's still a fingerprint in blood, now turned black. Jack wrote next to it in a ballpoint pen: Stella.

  MOTHER
And I told him with my eyes closed: go wash your hands.

  JACK'S FRIEND
 (Indicating the sink to the onlookers)
Yes, mom.
 (Goes to the sink and mimes washing his hands,
 without turning on the water)
You know, mom? It's like when you wake up after a dream. Right after waking up, we remember everything, but just turn on the lights and good-bye!(As soon as you awaken you remember everything...)  And so it's good best to write them down, your dreams!

  MOTHER
And from that point, (that moment onwards) so it was. He spoke (dictated) and I wrote. And later (after) he always wanted to reread it and add here, change there… he was very fussy.

  JOURNALIST
So there exists some sort of diary. So a sort of diary exists?

  JACK'S FRIEND
Yes, it's over there.
 (Points to Jack's room)
But you can ask me, I know it by heart. I always had open access to Jack's diary.
 (Closes his eyes, as if to remember better)
Tuesday, July 13. I met Roberta. I feel I already love her.

  MOTHER
Crazy! Crazy! Just met! The same way with all of them!

  JACK'S FRIEND
 (Reciting)
We walked / at great length along the piers / where the water laps / calm in the night / and the boats bump (joggle) / deaf, like foolish sisters / in the great silence of men.

  JOURNALIST
Beautiful!

  JACK'S FRIEND
Yes. This is poetry, gentlemen!

  JOURNALIST
A poetic diary!

  MOTHER
Yes, a slew of existential tremors.

  JOURNALIST
You disagree, ma'am?

  MOTHER
I detest poets, who get drunk off of sadness and then piss melancholy. You know what the proverb says? Poets find the palm trees but never the coconuts. Entire generations remain stuck on their verses like flies on flypaper. Fortunately there aren't any (left) these days. Have you noticed? Their extinction made less noise than (that of) the dinosaurs'.

  JACK'S FRIEND
 (To the JOURNALIST)
Damn you! That's what Jack said.

  JOURNALIST
He swore at his mother?

  JACK'S FRIEND
Did he have a choice?
 
  JOURNALIST
A curious dispute. Right, Elio?

  DIRECTOR
Yes, truly.

  JOURNALIST
Who inspired Jack to write these works?

  JACK'S FRIEND
Women. They seemed more beautiful to him reflected in the water.

  MOTHER
What water? This city isn't anywhere near the sea!

  JACK'S FRIEND
But Jack had the sea in here!
 
 (JACK'S FRIEND puts a hand on his heart. During
 the following quarrel, JACK'S FRIEND and the
 MOTHER are distant, as if they're each absent,
 only intent on evoking the past)

  MOTHER
 (To the JOURNALIST)
Read that diary, read it. Two lines under it's written that Roberta's a slut, that she deluded him, that he will make her pay with blood. Leaf through that diary: it's full of love affairs that lasted a day, insults and crosses.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Jack insults traitors!(those who betray)

  MOTHER
But what betrayal? Women chew just like men, Enrico! Even the sweetest creature can have a bit of spinach between her teeth! (get a piece of salad caught between her teeth)

  JACK'S FRIEND
Shut up!

  MOTHER
Love them for their meat (imperfections), Enrico! It's too easy to love them for their moments of beauty! Put your heels on the ground, stay here with the rest of us, don't run away!

  JACK'S FRIEND
Nooo!!

  MOTHER
Look your mother in the face!

  JACK'S FRIEND
I hate you!

  MOTHER
Enrico!

  JACK'S FRIEND
Call me Jack!
 (To the onlookers)
But Jack yelled much, much stronger. I can't get so high.

  MOTHER
It's true, he had a very acute voice.

  JACK'S FRIEND
But also very deep.

  MOTHER
I meant… he had a large vocal range. Unpredictable.

  JACK'S FRIEND
He still does, I would imagine.

  MOTHER
Surely much less.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Yes, probably. Time passes even for Jack.
 (To the DIRECTOR)
How was I?

 (Everyone applauds)

  DIRECTOR
Magnificent! It's like Pirandello, theatre within theatre!

 (The MOTHER sits down, head between her hands)

  JOURNALIST
Very interesting.

  DIRECTOR
Did you get all that?

  CAMERA-MAN
It's a hit.

  DIRECTOR
 (To JACK'S FRIEND)
Well done, sir!
 (To the MOTHER)
You too, ma'am, bravissima.(bravo)

  JOURNALIST
I would like to pick up again on the theme of love. So, Jack was never loved. All the girls ran away from him, made fun of him.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Yes.

  CAMERA-MAN
Me too, same thing. The exception being my wife. And that was just luck (so I made sure not to waste any time before popping the question). Then out of nowhere all of a sudden as soon as we get married… like that!
 (Gestures with one hand in the air)
They all come knocking on my door! Psh. Explain that one to me.

  DIRECTOR
Listen… you want to give me the camera? That way I can film you while she interviews you. Looks like Jack is him (he's Jack)!

  CAMERA-MAN
I won't say another thing.

  MOTHER
I'd like to say something.

  JOURNALIST
Go right ahead, ma'am.

  DIRECTOR
Lallo!
 (To the ELECTRICIAN)
Alberto, a spotlight over here.

  MOTHER
No, please, I'm no longer used to the light, it hurts my eyes.

  JOURNALIST
Okay, it's okay like this.

  DIRECTOR
The film (shots) will be awful, I won't put my name on it.(to it)

  JOURNALIST
Please…
 (Moves the folding chair next to the MOTHER and
 sits down)
But (So) ma'am, do you ever go out?

  MOTHER
Sometimes, but only after sunset.

  JOURNALIST
Does someone do your shopping for you?

  MOTHER
Oh…
 (Points towards JACK'S FRIEND)
He is very kind. And besides, I eat so little.

  JOURNALIST
Do you go out for walks?

  MOTHER
Only short distances.

  JOURNALIST
Do you have any friends? Relatives?

  MOTHER
No. Hunger feeds itself.

  CAMERA-MAN
Did Jack say that?

  MOTHER
It's an old proverb.  Look… what I meant to say… on the subject of love…

  JOURNALIST
Yes?

  MOTHER
I loved my son very much. I did everything for him that a mother should. Everything that this old world of ours has decided that mothers should do. I have the pedigree of an impeccable mother, an observant mother. In a certain sense you could say that I cultivated the bigotry of motherhood. Because I wanted to be reassuring for that little boy who was growing up in front of my eyes in a house like this. I already knew that (the concept of)family was a deception, even before my husband left. Unfortunately I'm no longer a free spirit, I don't know how to fight. Even if I know how to see things. They taught me to have more respect for my pots than my eyes. But with my son… all of that is prescribed. Bedtime stories… breakfast with honey… invisible stitches (stitching)… if he skinned a (his) knee, I disinfected it…

  JACK'S FRIEND
 (With a reproachful tone)
With tincture of iodine…

  MOTHER
It's the best disinfectant, even in the first aid kits (in the emergency room)they use tincture of iodine.

  JACK'S FRIEND
All of Jack's friends skinned themselves: shins, elbows, knees. And all the moms used alcohol. Only she used tincture of iodine! And all his friends: Enrico has the tincture! Enrico has the tincture!

  JOURNALIST
Please! The lady was speaking.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Fine, fine. I won't say another thing.

  MOTHER
Despite his crimes I never stopped loving him. And consoling him. What ought a mother do, if not console her own children? God will take care of (make)justice later. And we will be punished. But as long as we are here… you don't know how (can't imagine) in this room… what screams… how much pain…

 (The MOTHER cries)

  JACK'S FRIEND
 (To himself)
Cry, cry, yes. It does you good.

  JOURNALIST
Truly moving.
 (To JACK'S FRIEND)
May I ask you a question? I realize that it could seem absurd but I'm asking it the same also because you had said something before… about injustice…

  JACK'S FRIEND
It's an interesting theme.
  JOURNALIST
Look, here's the question: Did Jack believe in God? Did he pray?

  JACK'S FRIEND
Oh, yes. He prayed.

  MOTHER
Since he was a little boy. I taught him all the prayers. He even made the Nativity scene.

  JOURNALIST
All kids do that. I meant after.

  JACK'S FRIEND
He prayed, he prayed. In his own way. He prayed for his victims. He prayed for his knife. He prayed for all the world's knives. Do you believe me when I say he prayed as he killed?

  JOURNALIST
What kind of prayer?

  JACK'S FRIEND
Difficult to say. What can I do?

  JOURNALIST
Don't you remember a few words? Jack never told you anything?

  JACK'S FRIEND
Yes, but… he was a little bit ashamed.

  JOURNALIST
Ashamed? Why?

  MOTHER
He wasn't like all the other boys.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Jack would say: I want to die from a strike to the heart. The day I find God… I will ask him to aim straight for the heart.

  JOURNALIST
So he was looking for God.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Yes… but he had vague information… like everyone, I suppose. Turn here and there… go up, down… the neighborhood isn't very big and in the end, like everyone else, he would wander into church. He would open the side door… there was a sticker (brass plate that read) with “door closes automatically” on it and Jack liked to imagine that that was one of God's miracles. He'd enter, take off his hat… sometimes he stood in the back, but more often he kneeled… on only one knee. Since he was a kid he had divided men into two categories: those who (kneeled with both knees on the ground and those who kneeled with only one)put both their knees on the ground and those who put only one down. He was part of the second team and was proud of it. Yes, to him, that position seemed more dignified. Maybe he had seen in some film that even the ancient knights kneeled like that in front of their sovereigns. He, too, wanted to submit himself with honor. Not yet knowing how God would appear to him in that position, head bowed, he would close his eyes and listened. He had learned to train his hearing… he could hear the slightest sounds… even the dripping of the candles… and, you know?… the whispering of the women at confession, too. He had learned how to decipher them. (it) It's hard! It's like reattaching the meat onto the bone.
 (Laughs lightly)
And so he knew all of their sins. But God, no, God didn't appear. Yes, sometimes he felt a wind around him and thought: He's here, He's here, look at Him! And he opened his hands to be ready to catch Him… to never let Him go again. Once he made an offering to the chaplain to play the organ for him. Bach is always Bach… but God didn't come and Jack left. Night had fallen, it was cold and starting (it started) to rain. It was then that Jack… intuited… to have been victim of a great injustice. But he didn't rebel, no, on the contrary. He thought that it was a sign. Maybe I'll die right now, he thought. That's why God wanted to reward me with His absence! Because my agony and my need become oil for his lamp! He was so sure that with a shout he knelt in the middle of the street. He spread his arms and closed his eyes. With his mouth open, so that his soul could take the quickest route to Heaven. It was the driver of a '64 Chevy van (the bus number 64) who brought him back to reality. He was blocking traffic. There on one knee in the middle of the crosswalk. Yes. The labor of Faith can make us crazy. Jack rose humiliated and disillusioned. His pants were wet up to both his knees. He leaned against a wall, lit a cigarette and talked to himself, he said: enough searching, now, I'm not a kid any more, I'm going to the movies. And even if He calls me I won't turn (back). Now He's the one who needs to ask for me on one knee. In any case (If not)… to each his own road.

  MOTHER
And so it was. Jack never again set foot in a church (again).

  (Silence)

  DIRECTOR
Cut!

  JOURNALIST
Cut! Very good, a little bit lengthy, but we can remedy that with the commentary. How did it go?

  DIRECTOR
Excellent! Beautiful monologue! Well done!

  CAMERA-MAN
A little dark.

  DIRECTOR
 (To the SOUND TECHNICIAN)
Could you put in some sort of background effect? Solitude in the city… lines of old men (waiting in line to receive) withdrawing their pension… you follow? Smog, traffic, drugs… I don't know if… I'd like something spiritual, transcendental. For example, some of those Tibetan chants. Even the Tibetans (have been searching) search for God, for at least ten thousand years. Look (to see if you can find something) a bit to find something

  CAMERA-MAN
Can you smoke in here?

  MOTHER
No.

  JACK'S MOTHER
Jack had quit.

  MOTHER
From one day to the next. He threw away the pack and said: starting today, I won't smoke again.

  DIRECTOR
Smoke-free. Like me.

  CAMERA-MAN
A week without smoking?

  JOURNALIST
You can take turns outside the door.

  CAMERA-MAN
Well, best to fill 'er up, since if I don't smoke…
 (Fishes from his pocket a pack of cigarettes)
Is it break (time)?

  JOURNALIST
Are you crazy? You film, film (keep filming, film everything… everything, everyone. From behind, from above, from below. Then I'll worry about filling it with commentary.
 (Gets closer to the MOTHER while the CAMERA-MAN,
 having put the pack away, starts filming again)
How long has it been since you've seen (you last saw) Jack?

  MOTHER
His last calendar is from twenty years ago.

  JOURNALIST
And the others?

  MOTHER
 (Pointing to JACK'S FRIEND)
He brings me them (them to me). Every year at New Year's he shows up with a calendar.

  JOURNALIST
Did he tell you when he would come back? How was the farewell?

  JACK'S FRIEND
There wasn't a farewell.

  MOTHER
I found a letter.

  JACK'S FRIEND
On the nightstand. With all the lights on.

  MOTHER
There are several in the room. Enrico wanted it illuminated (them on even) during the day.

  JOURNALIST
Did he ask you for forgiveness?

  JACK'S FRIEND
She's never read it.

  MOTHER
On the envelope was written: Do not open till the next crime.

  JACK'S FRIEND
P.S.

  MOTHER
Don't turn off the lights.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Said and done.

  JOURNALIST
You've never turned them off? In twenty years?

  MOTHER
Never. He could come back any minute.

  JOURNALIST
And the letter? Never opened?

  MOTHER
Never.

  JOURNALIST
Never been curious?

  MOTHER
Oh, yes, every day. Often even he'll (he'd)say to me: let's open it. His eyes shone at the (very) idea.

  JACK'S FRIEND
I wanted to put her to the test. Jack would have done the same.

  JOURNALIST
Are you sure that the most recent crimes aren't Jack's work?(doing?)

  MOTHER
Certain things a mother knows.

  JOURNALIST
Beautiful response.

  DIRECTOR
 (Rummaging through one of the chests)
Magnificent! Look, I found a splendid costume!
 (Fishes out of the chest a dinner jacket, top
 hat, white silk shoes and cane)
The screen, quick!
 (The SOUND TECHNICIAN exits)
Seems that Jack the Ripper, the real one, was quite the elegant dresser, maybe a dandy, someone even suggested he was a member of the royal family, I've read the documents.
 (To the JOURNALIST)
How do you like it for the trial scene?

  JOURNALIST
Yeah, it could work. But it isn't a scene, Elio. It's a testimony, a confession, the telling of a true crime. Eighteen true crimes.

  DIRECTOR
Okay, okay. But with the costume it will be much better.
 (To JACK'S FRIEND)
What's your size?

  JACK'S FRIEND
Large. Pretty (Extra) large.

  DIRECTOR
Could you give us a number?

 (The SOUND TECHNICIAN enters with eccentric
 floral screen, which he places upstage left
 directly in front of the hanging jacket)

  JACK'S FRIEND
It's been a long time since I bought myself a suit.

  DIRECTOR
Would you mind trying it on?
 (JACK'S FRIEND hesitates)
Behind there!
 (Points to the screen decisively. JACK'S FRIEND
 goes there with the suit)
The top hat!

 (The DIRECTOR hands JACK'S FRIEND the top hat)

  JACK'S FRIEND
Even this?

  DIRECTOR
Naturally. Shirt. Tie. Shoes. Cane.

 (The DIRECTOR hands JACK'S FRIEND everything.
 JACK'S FRIEND disappears behind the screen)

  JOURNALIST
He'll look so handsome. Ma'am… are there many mysteries in Jack's life?

  MOTHER
So many.

  JOURNALIST
And do you know some of them?

  MOTHER
All of them.

  JOURNALIST
And you don't want to reveal some of them to us?

  JACK'S FRIEND
 (From behind the screen)
No!

  JOURNALIST
 (Very dryly)
I am a journalist and I need news, I need it to breathe. You promised me great revelations and I don't believe that my channel will pay the bill if they (you don't agree to open your secret drawer!)don't decide to open the cash drawer! Come on, let me live a day of glory. One mystery!

  JACK'S FRIEND
Fine, but only one.
 (His head appearing for a moment)
The one about the lily of the valley.

  JOURNALIST
Was Jack this stubborn?

  MOTHER
Just the same.

  JOURNALISTS
All of Jack's victims(were perfumed with hyacinth) had lily of the valley perfume. Why?

  MOTHER
Stella used that perfume.

  JOURNALIST
Who is Stella?

  MOTHER
The first girl that Jack killed.

  JOURNALIST
 (Indicating the balustrade)
Ma'am, would you mind coming over here to say that?

  DIRECTOR
Speak up, could you?

  MOTHER
The first girl… his little brat, that's what he called her. Jack knew how to be terribly sweet.

  JOURNALIST
 (Getting comfortable on the folding chair)
And the lily of the valley?

  MOTHER
Stella used that perfume. An essence. It was very persistent.

  JOURNALIST
Did you know the girl?

  MOTHER
Enrico always had me meet his girlfriends. He brought them here, I prepared tea and biscuits. And afterwards he asked me: did you like her? Stella was sitting (sat) there…

 (The MOTHER points at the folding chair)

  JOURNALIST
 (Standing up, unsettled by the idea)
Here?

  MOTHER
Yes. She stared at me in the silence. A deep gaze and a feeble smile… on that white face.

  JACK'S FRIEND
 (From behind the screen, singing. Dialogue
 continues over.)
     You are like me
     Crazy like Jack
     You want to throw yourself
     Into the coming darkness
     La la la la la la…

  DIRECTOR
Nice voice.

  MOTHER
Then all of a sudden she asked me: do you know (have you been to Venice) Boston ?… Who knows why?… Maybe just to break the silence. Two days later Stella was dead. Enrico stole the bottle from her and so, afterwards, he put two drops of the essence on every victim, here, behind the ear. He called it “olfactory continuity”. The police had a field day making a thousand hypotheses. Jack laughed at them reading the (had a good laugh as he read the papers) paper.

 (The song finishes)

  JOURNALIST
How old was Jack when he killed Stella?

  MOTHER
Eighteen.

  JOURNALIST
Oh my God! And Stella?

  MOTHER
Seventeen.

  JOURNALIST
They were two kids!
  MOTHER
Children grow up quick these days.

 JACK'S FRIEND comes out from behind the screen
 dressed to the nines)

  JACK'S FRIEND
How do I look?

  DIRECTOR
Extraordinary! Lallo, get a hold of this!…
 (The CAMERA-MAN films)
A real Jack! A real reaper! Here, come here!
 (Conducts JACK'S FRIEND to the balustrade, moving
 the MOTHER, who returns to sit in her place)
Do you mind, ma'am? More lights! Up! Up!
 (The lights on the balustrade brighten)
Swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Say I swear.

  JACK'S FRIEND
I swear.

  DIRECTOR
Magnificent. What's your name?

  JACK'S FRIEND
Jack!

  JOURNALIST
 (With the moralistic tone of certain
 commentators)
We'll leave it to the experts to tell us what could be the causes that would transform a sensible and tranquil young man full of ideals, we could almost even say old-fashioned, into a ruthless monster, into a ferocious assassin. We are not setting out to make judgments or give a moral, we are not interpreting the facts, but only presenting them as they are in all their unrelenting crudeness. It's the price one must pay in order to know the truth.

  CAMERA-MAN
 (Sotto voce, still filming)
Brava.

  JOURNALIST
If this transmission is able to make a breakthrough, to open even a little glimmer in our drowsy consciousness, we will have achieved something great and our work will not have been useless. Hey, friend amigo!

  JACK'S FRIEND
 (Seemingly having been given a certain boost by
 his new outfit)
Hallo!

  JOURNALIST
What does friendship mean to you?

  JACK'S FRIEND
When Jack ran the marathon, all of his (the neighborhood champions) friends were there.

  MOTHER
He was sixteen: a stick!

  JACK'S FRIEND
I followed him on my bike encouraging him. Then I stopped and insulted the others. That is friendship. Jack won. And then tap.

  JOURNALIST
Tap?

  JACK'S FRIEND
Have you ever seen Jack when he tap-dances?
 (JACK'S MOTHER smiles, as if lost in a memory)
Look, Jack is… he's formidable! The floor seems to pop under his feet! Like a fireplace in winter!
 (Dances a few steps of tap with an awkward
 vehemence)
Bam! Cha! Ba-bam! Ch-ch-cha!

  MOTHER
 (As if she were talking to Jack back then)
Stop that, silly! Crazy little fool…

  JACK'S FRIEND
And the happiness that sprang forth from those steps is so contagious that everyone caught it. (springs forth from those steps is such that everyone catches it.)
 (Dances his far-fetched tap-dance)
This is the song of the stars! Who is it? Everyone out! Bam! Cha! Ba-bam! Ch-ch-cha! You, too! Everybody!
 (For a moment, even the JOURNALIST, the DIRECTOR,
 and the two TECHNICIANS dance, laughing. The
 CAMERA-MAN dances, too, still filming)
The whole world dances with Jack!
 (The tap-dance ends amidst general happiness)
So… friendship is something unstoppable, like some invasions. It sacks you from head to toe and there isn't anything left that's ours. But at the same time, everything that we have is worth more than before. If a friend dies, no one can make up for it (we receive no compensation). Isn't it terrible? And when he leaves, you hope he comes back soon. Isn't it also the same in love?

  JOURNALIST
Beautiful imagery.
 (The CAMERA-MAN stops filming)
Sure, if (only) Jack had listened to you…

  JACK'S FRIEND
He was the one who taught me. It's all written in his diary.

  DIRECTOR
Precisely, in the diary. Easy to write it, but in life, it's different. Taxes, sickness, children who want to borrow the car… (your kid wants a new car)

  CAMERA-MAN
The Your wife, the condominium, politics…

  DIRECTOR
Who has time for friendship?

  CAMERA-MAN
It's a luxury. A friend of mine works at the auto-body shop. I brought him my car 'cause someone put some dents in it. Seven hundred fifty! For nothing! A scratch! Seven hundred fifty bucks! Good-bye, friendship.

 (The SOUND TECHNICIAN plays a strange Asian-
 sounding lullaby)

  DIRECTOR
Aha! You found the music!
 (To the JOURNALIST)
What do you say? Could it go with the search for God?

  JOURNALIST
Yeah, it's not bad, let's keep it.

  DIRECTOR
It's very spiritual. Mysteries (the great mystery), the cosmos…
 (Waves his arms like an orchestra conductor)
If I were God I'd like it.

  JOURNALIST
 (To the SOUND TECHNICIAN)
But you keep on looking, okay?! Look, look… you never know.

  DIRECTOR
Excuse me, ma'am… may we light that door?
 (Pointing to Jack's room)
Just light it.

  MOTHER
Why?

  DIRECTOR
This is Jack's room, I don't know if I'm making myself clear.

  JOURNALIST
He's right. Seeing as we can't enter… let's put some light on it.

  DIRECTOR
A thousand here, Alberto. And cut the other one. Put it here.
 (JACK'S FRIEND enters into the beam of light,
 back to the door)
Turn a little bit… like that…

  JOURNALIST
 (On the side, to the MOTHER)
What is there in that room? Why can't we enter?

  MOTHER
It's a mess.

  DIRECTOR
Is this okay for framing (does this work as a frame)? You like it?

  JOURNALIST
Yeah, it's fine. But is he entering or exiting?
  DIRECTOR
 (To himself, doubtful)
Is he entering or exiting?

  JOURNALIST
 (To the MOTHER)
Let me give it a quick look. Later, when everyone's asleep. I promise I won't touch anything.

  MOTHER
No.

  DIRECTOR
If you ask me… I'd say that he's exiting for one of his endeavors. You there, Lallo?

  CAMERA-MAN
 (Filming)
I'm going.

  JOURNALIST
 (To the MOTHER)
We'll talk.
 (To the microphone)
Yes, he's definitely exiting.
 (To JACK'S FRIEND)
You got it all (everything), Jack?

  JACK'S FRIEND
 (Very much in character, feeling the pocket where
 he keeps the knife)
Yes, I've got it all (everything).

  JOURNALIST
Who are you going to meet?

  JACK'S FRIEND
Roberta.

  JOURNALIST
Where?

  JACK'S FRIEND
By the cattail pond.

  JOURNALIST
At the cattail pond? Why?
  JACK'S FRIEND
The water's warm. It's comfortable (nice)there.

  JOURNALIST
Will you go swimming?

  JACK'S FRIEND
Yes… I believe so…

  MOTHER
 (Sighing, her head between her hands)
Don't go out, Enrico…

  JOURNALIST
And after (then)?

  JACK'S FRIEND
After?(then)
 (Is confused)
There was a blue light… the diary says: like a neon light. But it was the moon. The warmth of the mud under naked feet gives a strange pleasure…
 (Fishes the knife from his pocket, wields it with
 the blade open and looks at it. The bloody
 handkerchief dangles from the pocket)
Your honor… some grieve for the victim… some pity the assassin. But no one thinks about the heartbreak of the blade, so defenseless, forced to bathe herself (itself) in blood.

  MOTHER
 (In a whisper)
Jack…

  JOURNALIST
Continue.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Jack said… only the frogs could be heard.

  JOURNALIST
And then?

  JACK'S FRIEND
 (His hand trembles)
Good, good, my dear. Don't be afraid, don't do that. A light, soft “plop”, a flutter of wings. Then I will clean you with the handkerchief. Yes, that's how it is. The blade stops trembling. Go ahead, she (it)says. If we really must… but hurry, I can't stand the shouts. Now she comes out of the water… and the only sound… was the silence of the frogs.
 (Smells the air)
Lily of the valley (Hyacinth)! Is that you, Jack?
 (Yells)
Jack!

 (The lights suddenly go out. There is an almost
 unreal silence in the darkness)

  DIRECTOR
What's happening?

  CAMERA-MAN
Who was it?

  DIRECTOR
Lights!

  MOTHER
Is that you, Jack?

  DIRECTOR
Alberto!

  JOURNALIST
Hurry up!

  CAMERA-MAN
Where's the flashlight?

  DIRECTOR
I smell lily of the valley!(hyacinth)

  CAMERA-MAN
Miss Martinelli!

  MOTHER
Jack…

 (The lights suddenly return: the ELECTRICIAN has
 flipped the circuit breaker)

  CAMERA-MAN
The circuit-breaker was blown!

  JOURNALIST
Overload, too many lights.

  DIRECTOR
Why are you looking at me?

  CAMERA-MAN
Speaking of which, who was it who smelt the scent of lily of the valley? hyacinth

  DIRECTOR
Huh? And you're never wrong?

 (Everyone laughs)

  CAMERA-MAN
Cigarette break.
 (Opens the entryway door)
There isn't a cloud in the sky, just stars. How can a person kill a person with all these stars? (How can one kill with such stars in the sky?)

  JACK'S FRIEND
 (Frozen, back to the door of Jack's room)
Can I move from here?

  DIRECTOR
We're on break, can't you see?
 (To the CAMERA-MAN)
Close the door, you want them to discover (see)us?

 (The CAMERA-MAN approaches, leaving a small
 opening)

  CAMERA-MAN
For the smoke

 (The CAMERA-MAN stays to smoke near the opening.
 For a moment we get a glimpse of two car
 headlights from the windows, as if someone were
 parking)

  JACK'S FRIEND
 (To the JOURNALIST)
Did you think that Jack had returned?

  JOURNALIST
Well, for a moment…
  JACK'S FRIEND
It would have been too perfect.
 (Taking one of her hands)
Beautiful hands.

  JOURNALIST
And if he had killed me?

  CAMERA-MAN
 (Indicating JACK'S FRIEND)
Impossible, he's got the knife.

  JOURNALIST
Ah, yes. True…

  CAMERA-MAN
We don't need to worry.

  DIRECTOR
 (To the MOTHER)
Do you really believe he could come back?

  MOTHER
Yes. He could.

  JACK'S FRIEND
At any moment.
 
 (Knocking at the door. Everyone jumps, then
 freezes. No one speaks. More knocking, a discreet
 rapping. Everyone instinctively moves back a
 step. Then the door opens slowly and a girl's
 face is seen. Enter CAROLINA, looking as if she
 had just run. Wears a cape which she immediately
 takes off, throwing it into the CAMERA-MAN's
 face)

  DIRECTOR
Carolina!

  CAROLINA
Hi everyone!

  DIRECTOR
 (To the MOTHER)
That's Carolina!

  CAROLINA
 (Who gives a special smile to the DIRECTOR)
I couldn't make it any sooner, I haven't even taken my make-up off. How's it going? This place is cute. But what a stuffy smell! Can't you open up?
 (Pointing to JACK'S FRIEND)
Is he Jack?

  JACK'S FRIEND
Oh, no. Your honor.

  CAROLINA
 (Chatty)
Your honor? How cute! There was some awful traffic… worse than noon! Speaking of which, I parked in the courtyard, right in front there.
 (Pointing at the windows)
That's allowed, right? Not like they're going to slash my tires? Because in my neighborhood they do it all the time! They're (I'm) in pieces, the Old Regular is a mob. Oh, you know what, Elio? They offered me a film, but it has to be a little bit porno (but it must be a bit of a porno), I don't think I'll do it. It's hard (tough)for people who want serious work (these days) Right? I am going to fall down I'm so tired. Can I have a coffee?
 (Sees the knife that JACK'S FRIEND is still
 grasping in his fist and lets out a shriek)
Ah! But that's a real knife!
 (Sees the bloody handkerchief hanging out of his
 pocket)
And this is blood!

  JACK'S FRIEND
 (Affectionate, pointing to the knife)
It's Jack's knife.

  CAROLINA
It's not the same… that they'll show (they showed)on TV.

  JACK'S FRIEND
A Gregor switchblade. See?
 (He puts it under her nose)
It's written here.

  CAROLINA
I had a boyfriend named Gregor!

 (Carolina faints)
  DIRECTOR
Carolina!

 (Everyone stays frozen. The lights suddenly go
 out)
 
 

END OF ACT I
 
 
 
 
 

ACT II

The scene is re-lit by the dim light of the lamp. The usual light filters out from Jack's room. The TV crew is sleeping on five cots dispersed throughout the room. Without making a sound, the JOURNALIST, dressed in a light night-gown, gets up from her cot and approaches Jack's room. She listens for a moment and then moves to grab the doorknob, but in that exact moment the door opens. The JOURNALIST lets out a small gasp of fear. At the threshold is JACK'S FRIEND, still wearing the dinner jacket. He quickly closes the door, smiling.

  JACK'S FRIEND
I was passing by randomly (just passing by)and said to myself: let's see if everyone's sleeping. Insomnia?

  JOURNALIST
Toothache.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Have you tried getting some exercise?

  JOURNALIST
I forgot my sweatsuit.

 (They both laugh, hushed: the dialogue here is
 all sotto voce)

  JACK'S FRIEND
You want to take a walk?

  JOURNALIST
Gladly. Where are you going to take me?

  JACK'S FRIEND
To the slums.
 (Points to the sleeping crew members)
Vagabonds (Clochards). A world adrift.

  JOURNALIST
I'm scared.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Just kidding.(I was just joking) This is the old historic district. Do you like it?

  JOURNALIST
Yes, very suggestive.

  JACK'S FRIEND
And this is the market square. The fountain freezes during the winter. Kids break off the icicles and suck on them like popsicles. Jack and I used to do that, too. Let's sit down on the edge.
 (The JOURNALIST is about to sit down on the far
 end of her own cot)
Careful! It's wet over there. Here.
 (Sits down in the middle of the cot, calling the
 JOURNALIST over with a gesture)
See?
 (Points to a spot up in the air)
The world's highest steps.

  JOURNALIST
Have you been up there?

  JACK'S FRIEND
Twelve minutes and twenty-seven seconds! Jack, too, photo finish!
 (Stands on tip-toe)
Old scoundrel…

  JOURNALIST
Do you miss him?

  JACK'S FRIEND
 (Lowering his heels)
Who wouldn't? I have so many wonderful memories.

  JOURNALIST
Tell me one.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Waiting for the dawn together.
 (Sits back down)
The first light shining from behind the steeples… it was magnificent up there. Do you know our (this valley)hill?

  JOURNALIST
Some (A) friend brought me there (here) once. There was a dance salon (discotheque), I think.
 

  JACK'S FRIEND
It's wrathful and hard. Then suddenly sweet. It's like a beautiful poor woman. Have you ever noticed?
 (Smiles, stands up)
Then we went (would come) down, whistling to the larks. There used to be a lot of gardens back then. Do you like the smell of roasted coffee?

  JOURNALIST
I adore it!

  JACK'S FRIEND
 (Sits down)
The coffee shop opened at six o'clock sharp. The chairs were still on the tables, but the cream pastries were already there in the window, hot and appetizing.
 (Stands up)
You had to wait for the coffee because the machine was still cold and so we stood at the doorway looking out at the square, which bit by bit (little by little)came to life in the soft, light blue light. Do you know when they turn off the street lamps?

  JOURNALIST
Yes, it's a very poetic moment. Magical.

  JACK'S FRIEND
It's as if dawn went dark. You expect the passers-by to turn about-face and go back to bed.
 (Sits down)
And after coffee, a cigarette. We both used to smoke back then. Even the sound of the first streetcars was pleasant. Yes, that (it) is the time when every good thing is still possible. But then day comes in a hurry, someone calls your name, and your ears are ringing to death (and death picks up its scythe). And just what is your name? Let me guess: Laura? Matilda? Charlotte?

  JOURNALIST
Cold…

  JACK'S FRIEND
Lucille! Rosemary!

  JOURNALIST
You're getting colder…

  JACK'S FRIEND
Giuseppina! Esmerelda!

  JOURNALIST
 (Laughing)
Colder, colder… lost in a blizzard!

  JACK'S FRIEND
Who is as lovely and fair as a winter's morning… Snow White!

  JOURNALIST
Without the seven dwarves?
 
  JACK'S FRIEND
I give up.

  JOURNALIST
Bianca.

  JACK'S FRIEND
I wasn't too far off… Bianca: white, like the moon.

 (JACK'S FRIEND caresses the JOURNALIST's hair,
 but suddenly pulls his hand back, as if
 frightened by his own gesture)

  JOURNALIST
Now you know my name but I don't know yours.
  JACK'S FRIEND
Another mystery. Better that way, right? You need to fill eighteen episodes.
 (Points to the camera, which is still mounted on
 its tripod)
How many mysteries can that thing hold? As many as there are stars? More than are dreamt of in your philosophy? To be or not to be?

  JOURNALIST
Come a little closer , my mysterious Hamlet.
 (JACK'S FRIEND starts)
What is it?

  JACK'S FRIEND
Please… I'd prefer a bit more formality.

  JOURNALIST
You'd really rather?

  JACK'S FRIEND
Yes, it's… it's more erotic.

 (THE JOURNALIST laughs, light and seductive,
 making him sit. She caresses his chest)

  JOURNALIST
Okay then... Sir… sir… sir… I like that a lot.

  JACK'S FRIEND
 (Eyes closed)
A little more to the left…

  JOURNALIST
Here?

  JACK'S FRIEND
The sun is on the hill now.

  JOURNALIST
Yes. And no one can see us, no one can hear us… and I need to ask you something… come closer… sir… something very professional…

  JACK'S FRIEND
Don't do it.

  JOURNALIST
If you only knew, my dear sir… how difficult my job is! I've been searching for years, waiting…
 (JACK'S FRIEND moves to stand up, but the
 JOURNALIST holds him back)
How many closed doors I've come across in my life! If just one were to open… you are so manly… and so kind!
 (She speaks into his ear)
A little rock heart… carve one for me. Like Jack used to do. A heart for Bianca.

  JACK'S FRIEND
I have one already ready (right here). I took it tonight from Jack's nightstand drawer in there.
 (Points to Jack's room)
There are a few of them in there. Hearts that Jack didn't have time to give.
 (Handing her a little stone heart)
Sandstone. Do you like it?

 (The MOTHER appears at the right threshold. She
 is carrying the tray with a kettle and teacup on
 top)

  JOURNALIST
I adore sandstone. It's beautiful. I'll make it into a pendant to put right here.
 (Takes JACK'S FRIEND's hand and places it on her
 own breast. With a gasp, his jaw drops. The
 JOURNALIST whispers into his ear)
What is hiding behind that door?

 (JACK'S FRIEND laughs, carefully freeing himself)

  JACK'S FRIEND
Do you know that you are very beautiful?

  JOURNALIST
Is that your response?

  JACK'S FRIEND
It's a smoke signal.

  JOURNALIST
Like the redskins! Am I in danger?

  JACK'S FRIEND
Beauty attracts Jack.

  JOURNALIST
Do you think he will come back?

  JACK'S FRIEND
Depends on the quality of his desire. Jack had an unquenchable thirst.
 (The JOURNALIST laughs)
Why are you laughing?

  JOURNALIST
Unquenchable thirst… don't you think that's a bit of a banal phrase?

  JACK'S FRIEND
Anatomy's banal, too. Isn't it banal to have two nostrils and only one nose? It would be much more interesting to have two noses and only one nostril!

  JOURNALIST
You're crazy! Adorable…

 (She leans in to kiss him on the lips but at that
 moment the tray falls from the MOTHER's hands,
 making a loud crash. Everyone wakes up, CAROLINA
 screams, jolting straight up)

  CAROLINA
Mommy!

  JOURNALIST
What happened?

  MOTHER
The piglet dreams of acorns.

  CAMERA-MAN
What time is it?

  MOTHER
 (Picking up the pieces)
Five.
  DIRECTOR
A.M. or P.M.?

  MOTHER
A.M.

  CAROLINA
Oh my God, how wretched (what a scare!)!

  CAMERA-MAN
 (Throwing himself back down)
Aw, sweet mother of God…

  MOTHER
I'm sorry. I had made myself some tea… I always get up at this hour. It slipped out of my hand.

 (The MOTHER exits with the pieces on the tray)

  DIRECTOR
I'm fine with five in the morning if it's the end of the night, but as the beginning of the day, it's freakin' miserable. And what the hell do acorns have to do with anything? And who's the piglet? Could I get a coffee?

  CAMERA-MAN
 (Still stretched out)
Triple, with two lumps (donuts).

  CAROLINA
I for one, if I drink coffee at this hour, I'm not going to be able to fall asleep again. How wretched…

  CAMERA-MAN
And the environment (the atmosphere) sure doesn't help. And I also heard people talking… who was talking?

  JOURNALIST
 (Decisive, grabbing her clothes)
I say we get working.

  DIRECTOR
But it's five!

  JOURNALIST
The early bird gets the worm.
 (To the MOTHER, who is still in the other room)
Right, ma'am?
 (To JACK'S FRIEND)
Are you feeling up for it?

  JACK'S FRIEND
First I'd like to do some exercises. Two minutes. Excuse me.

 (JACK'S FRIEND warms up as he did in ACT I.
 Everyone rises and dresses)

  JOURNALIST
 (Disappearing behind the screen)
Anybody back here?

  CAROLINA
 (Also with clothes on her arm)
Can I come, too?

  JOURNALIST
Just a minute, please.

  DIRECTOR
 (To CAROLINA)
What do you need the screen for? You're getting dressed, not undressed.

  CAROLINA
You're right, Elio. It's the shock! But in order to get dressed, I need to get undressed first!

  CAMERA-MAN
What's the problem?

  CAROLINA
I feel watched.

  DIRECTOR
You're right!

 (All the men turn away)
  CAMERA-MAN
At the Old Regular, sure, but here, no.
 (CAROLINA gets dressed in a hurry. The CAMERA-MAN
 points to the bathroom, addressing JACK'S FRIEND)
Can I get in here?

  JACK'S FRIEND
No problem!

  CAMERA-MAN
No problem in a manner of speaking. Maybe there's Jack in there sitting on the can!
 (Enters the bathroom, closes the door and
 screams. Everyone jumps. The CAMERA-MAN
 reappears)
Kidding!

 (The CAMERA-MAN closes the door again)

  CAROLINA
 (Having fully dressed)
Done!
 (The two TECHNICIANS clear the cots, piling them
 up as best as they can against the walls.
 Meanwhile, the others quickly wash at the sink,
 each with his or her own towel on his or her arm)
It looks like wartime, with all the evacuees!

  DIRECTOR
And what would you know about that, doll face?

  CAROLINA
I saw it in this black and white film, lasted more than three hours, a total bore! My mother once told me that when she was little she used to go to the movies to keep warm. The longer the movie, the happier they were!
 (Puts her hand under the faucet)
Ah!

 (CAROLINA washes her hands for a few seconds,
 hopping back and forth from the cold. The
 ELECTRICIAN, having washed, sits down on a crate
 and appears to nod off)

  DIRECTOR
Damn, and it's humid, too.

  CAROLINA
Looks (You can tell) like we're below sea level.

  DIRECTOR
My dear, here we're below all sorts of levels.

  JOURNALIST
 (Re-entering from behind the screen)
It's free now.

 (The JOURNALIST puts cream on her face. The SOUND
 TECHNICIAN knocks on the bathroom door)

  VOICE of the CAMERA-MAN
Occupied!

  CAROLINA
Now as for me, here, what exactly am I doing? You know, I haven't really figured it out, yet.

  DIRECTOR
You'll see, you'll see. Trust me. And anyway, nothing porno, I promise.

  CAROLINA
And no knives up in my face. I'll scream, okay? Wake up the whole building. First scream, then faint.

  DIRECTOR
Into my arms?
 (Laughs stupidly. CAROLINA shivers)
May I, miss?

 (The DIRECTOR puts his jacket onto the girl's
 shoulders)

  CAROLINA
Don't you get cold?

  DIRECTOR
In the mornings. But only if I sleep nude.

  CAMERA-MAN
 (Reappearing from the bathroom)
It's free now.

 (The SOUND TECHNICIAN enters the bathroom)
  JOURNALIST
We all here?
 (Has taken up the notepad and papers)
You all awake? Everybody ready? Can we start again?

  DIRECTOR
Yessir. C'mon, Alberto!
 (Realizes that the ELECTRICIAN has fallen back
 asleep)
Alberto! You want a cappuccino? A little something to eat? Attaboy, buddy… up with the lights. But softly, okay? The instruments are sleepy, too.
 (Lights fade up)
We're ready.

 (The MOTHER has returned and is seated in her
 usual spot. JACK'S FRIEND has finished his
 stretches)

  JOURNALIST
 (Indicating the balustrade to JACK'S FRIEND)
Good. Would you mind getting into place?

  JACK'S FRIEND
Oh, yes, of course.
 (Moves to the balustrade. With the top-hat in
 hand)
This, too?

  DIRECTOR
Put it there, on the rail.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Oh, yes. No problem.

  DIRECTOR
A little to the right.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Okay. I'm ready. Where do I look?

 (The CAMERA-MAN snaps his fingers above his head)

  CAMERA-MAN
Here.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Oh, yes, perfect. There.

  JOURNALIST
 (In front of the balustrade, microphone in hand,
 as the CAMERA-MAN begins filming)
Good morning, friends. We are again in the refuge of Jack the Reaper. It is at once exciting and terrible. The time is five A.M. We are hungry and tired. We slept on uncomfortable cots. It's cold. But here we are nevertheless ready to talk to you about him, his work, his story. Which begins in a December many years ago. Is that right?

  JACK'S FRIEND
Yes, that's right.

  MOTHER
Had it never begun…

  JOURNALIST
Please, ma'am. Dear friend, I would like to open with a question that everyone has asked themselves: how did Stella and Jack meet? Do you want to tell us the story?

  JACK'S FRIEND
Oh, well… it's a very nice story! That morning Stella had to go to a wedding.

  MOTHER
It was a Sunday.

  JOURNALIST
Who was getting married?

  MOTHER
Her best friend.

  JACK'S FRIEND
But the car wouldn't start!

  CAMERA-MAN
Just like me, same thing, yesterday!

 (The JOURNALIST shoots a look at the CAMERA-MAN)

  DIRECTOR
Lallo!…
  CAMERA-MAN
I won't say another thing.

  JACK'S FRIEND
So Stella was trying to push the car, but there was a pothole and she broke a heel!

  JOURNALIST
Oh the poor thing!

  MOTHER
And they were new shoes!

  JOURNALIST
Just try to imagine.

  MOTHER
And on top of that, she was late!

  JACK'S FRIEND
Are you speaking, or am I?
 (The MOTHER lowers her glance)
She was desperate, understand? Do you understand, your honor? Desperate! But she saw the bus (was at the)stop and so she broke into a run with one shoe in hand, to (catch it in time) the end of the line there.

  JOURNALIST
“There” where? Let's be more specific for our viewers.

  JACK'S FRIEND
In front of the coffee shop, on the other side of the square.

  JOURNALIST
Your coffee shop?

  JACK'S FRIEND
Mine?

  JOURNALIST
Yours and Jack's.
  JACK'S FRIEND
Oh, yes, of course.

  JOURNALIST
And you saw her running? Careful, this is important!

  JACK'S FRIEND
Yes, we both saw her. Jack and I were eating a pastry when we saw her pass. But her hat was falling to the side of her head…
 (Starts to move away from the balustrade and come
 to the center of the room)
Is it alright if I…

  JOURNALIST
Oh, please, we wouldn't do without.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Thank you.
 (Runs to the center of the room and makes an
 awkward gesture to indicate the hat's position)
Like this!
 (The crew smiles)
Thank you!
 (To the DIRECTOR)
Was that okay?

  DIRECTOR
Excellent. Go on.

  MOTHER
But it wasn't really a hat, it was a headband of white flowers…

  JACK'S FRIEND
Don't interrupt! So Stella stopped to fix it, the headband. Still with one shoe in hand! Two seconds, I swear, not a moment longer. But in that exact moment the bus took off!

  JOURNALIST
What an unlucky morning, the poor dear!

  JACK'S FRIEND
Unlucky? It was thanks to this that Stella met Jack!

  JOURNALIST
And how did that (it) happen?
  JACK'S FRIEND
Poor Stella! She watched the bus drive away and, out of frustration, burst into tears. And here Jack was so clever!

  JOURNALIST
He called a cab?

 (The onlookers sneer; JACK'S FRIEND shoots them a
 look)

  JACK'S FRIEND
No! He caught up to her, took off one of his own shoes…
 (Takes off a shoe)
…and asked her: is there anything I can do for you?

  MOTHER
First he gave her his arm and then asked her: is there anything I can do for you, miss?

  JACK'S FRIEND
Ah, yes, right.

  MOTHER
Enrico knew how to be quite the gentleman.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Clever, right? No one else would have thought of it.

  JOURNALIST
And how does the story end? The viewers are on the edge of their seats. Right, friends?

  JACK'S FRIEND
They walked off arm in arm, limping, each with a shoe in hand. For a moment they turned back to me and waved good-bye like this…
 (Waves the shoe)
And a great love was born!
 (The crew applauds)
Thank you, thank you!

  JOURNALIST
An old-fashioned love story!

  DIRECTOR
 (To JACK'S FRIEND)
Excellent progress!
  JACK'S FRIEND
I gained a little faith, I feel at my best.

  DIRECTOR
Bravo.

  JOURNALIST
And after? Hopes? Plans? Kisses? What happens after?
 (JACK'S FRIEND is silent and looks at the MOTHER)
A small lapse in memory? Perhaps you could help us out, ma'am?

 (The MOTHER lowers her head without speaking)

  JACK'S FRIEND
Your honor… the wind blows without questioning. The Chinook, the no'theaster…  the stern dives and the ship goes. Jack, myself, all of you… how many mysteries there are, friends! Jack used to say: a man is what he (his) desires. He (One) leaves the docile (for ferocity)to come into the ferocious as you (as one) leaves one shop to go into the next. Until the desire ceases.
 (Closes his eyes, recites)
“In one night / passes my life / which you wanted eternal…” Nice verses, eh?

  MOTHER
The same old rotten mush.

  JACK'S FRIEND
 (To the SOUND TECHNICIAN)
Here there are heart-breaking roars, bellows and bleats. A lot of animalistic sorrow.
 (The MOTHER laughs)
Shut up!
 (The MOTHER is quiet and bows her head)
Your honor… friends… have you ever walked at night along deserted streets? Those dark storefronts… overflowing with unsold goods… refused offers… gifts never given… and the city becomes lead… immersed in the silence of its opulence and guilt… in its remorseless abyss… in its hominid sleep.
 (Fishes out of his pocket the knife and flicks
 the blade)
Gregor switchblade. The best.
 (The blinding light of a lightning bolt
 penetrates from the windows, followed by an
 enormous clap of thunder. The lights flicker)

  JOURNALIST
It's incredible, friends. Even nature herself seems to be called to testify, seems to want to say: I was there, I saw it all. Shall we continue?

  JACK'S FRIEND
Yes, but with her.
 (Points to the MOTHER)
What comes next is very difficult for me (alone.)by myself.

  JOURNALIST
Is that okay with you, ma'am?

 (The MOTHER lowers her head. JACK'S FRIEND gets
 closer to her and puts his hand on her shoulder)

  JACK'S FRIEND
Here we are.

  DIRECTOR
Lallo…

  CAMERA-MAN
Ready.

  JOURNALIST
The killing of Stella, if I'm not mistaken.

  MOTHER
No, no mistake.

  JACK'S FRIEND
The killing.

  JOURNALIST
 (To the MOTHER)
Are you up for it? Do you believe you can recreate it for the TV? The public loves particulars.

  MOTHER
Jack's stories were always so meticulous, so detailed…

  JOURNALIST
Good, then. Are we ready?

  DIRECTOR
 (To CAROLINA)
The killing!
 (To JACK'S FRIEND)
With the storm, make sure to stop when it thunders, okay?
 (To the MOTHER)
Otherwise, we'll lose all the lines!

  JACK'S FRIEND
We're ready.
 (To the JOURNALIST)
Jack suffered here very, very much.

  DIRECTOR
You can go!
 (Lightning)
No, wait!

 (Thunder)

  CAMERA-MAN
Jeez, right now?

 (The thunder fades)

  DIRECTOR
Action! No, just a moment! There isn't just nature in this world, artists have their needs, too.
 (To the MOTHER)
Nighttime, right?

  MOTHER
Yes, night. And a deep silence.

  DIRECTOR
Nice. If I may… nothing's changed, okay? We'll just… help reality out a little bit. Gigi… a little wind. Tiny hisses… downward paths, illuminated pavement…
 (Soft and unsettling hisses of wind are heard)
Nice… Alberto, backlight.
 (The scene darkens, now with the MOTHER and
 JACK'S FRIEND backlit)
Action!

  MOTHER
Stella had big, black eyes that filled with tears at the third stab. When she died.

  JACK'S FRIEND
No. At the third stab she said: Enrico don't hurt me. But she wasn't crying yet.

  MOTHER
You're getting confused.

  JACK'S FRIEND
She was surprised, yes. But she wasn't crying. Not yet.

  MOTHER
In the diary it says the third.

  JACK'S FRIEND
It's wrong, it needs to be modified. Stella whimpered, this, yes. But only afterwards did she begin to cry. When Jack unbuttoned her coat.

  DIRECTOR
Okay, but when did she die? We need to be precise!

 (Everyone looks with disappointment at the
 DIRECTOR, who makes a sign as if to say: fine,
 we'll cut it)

  JACK'S FRIEND
She died at the eleventh. It's the most plausible hypothesis. Though, even Jack had his doubts.
 (To the MOTHER, who is about to say something)
He told me a long time afterwards.
 (To the JOURNALIST)
The human heart, you see, is a lot smaller than one thinks. It isn't easy for a knife. That's what Jack said.
 (To the MOTHER)
Anyway, she died.

  MOTHER
Yes, she died. But she kept on crying. The tears kept on falling. Jack said: how strange, she was dead, and she kept on crying.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Yes, that is true. Poor Stella, she must have been in terrible pain.

  JOURNALIST
And it was a that point that Jack dragged her into that doorway where she was found by those two little girls?

  JACK'S FRIEND
Yes.

  MOTHER
No. First…

  JACK'S FRIEND
Yes, that's right. First…

  JOURNALIST
What happened? We want to hear something in particular?

 (Lightning, thunder)

  DIRECTOR
Stop!
 (The thunder diminishes. JACK'S FRIEND seems to
 breathe with difficulty)
Action!

  CAROLINA
Poor things, I pity them.

  JOURNALIST
Would you like a glass of water?

  JACK'S FRIEND
Yes.

  MOTHER
No, let's move it along. He lifted her blouse up to her breast and then with one strike of the knife made the buttons fly off the skirt.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Well! Are you speaking, or am I?

  MOTHER
Just hurry it up.
  JACK'S FRIEND
I don't know how it was… there isn't an order…

  MOTHER
Yes, there is.

  JACK'S FRIEND
But not in the memory. She was still warm, this, yes. And crying, yes. In the dark… your honor, do you know the sound of ripe apricots when they fall from the branch? It's the same sound that the blade makes when it cuts into flesh. That's what Jack said. A light “flop”, soft, muffled. And when it comes out… it's hard to describe… it's like a beating of wings… low, very low. Lying on the ground. Swallows or something like that. Yes, very beautiful, to tell the truth. Poetic, even.

 (CAROLINA cries in the silence. Lightning,
 thunder)

  DIRECTOR
Stop!
 (The thunder diminishes)
Action!

  MOTHER
Come now, finish it up.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Okay.

  MOTHER
Plunge.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Where?

  MOTHER
You know. Wake up!

  JACK'S FRIEND
The trachea?

  MOTHER
After.

  JACK'S FRIEND
The spleen?

  MOTHER
Yes.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Yes. Soft. Good-bye. The breast. Mama!

  MOTHER
This first. Go!

  JACK'S FRIEND
Yes. Trachea. Epiglottis. Down! It gurgles.
 (Starts)
What is it?

  MOTHER
A window batting against the wind. Go. Cold. The breath.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Yes, the breath. Vapor. Further down. The bladder. How did it go?(What did she say?)

  MOTHER
She Thought.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Yes, thought.

  MOTHER
To free…

  JACK'S FRIEND
Oh, yes. I'm speaking. To free the blood from out of its prison. Gasp?

  MOTHER
Before.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Glance?

  MOTHER
Before.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Yes. Good-bye. Wheeze. Sink. Sink?

  MOTHER
Plunge.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Yes. Uterus. Here. Ovaries, yes. Navel. There. Everything. The middle.

  MOTHER
Plunge.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Yes. The heart. The heart. The heart. There it is. Slip away. Taken. Finished.

 (Silence. The only sound is CAROLINA crying)

  MOTHER
Then there's the lily of the valley (hyacinth), et cetera et cetera.

 (A rumble of thunder rolls away)

  JOURNALIST
Good. Very good. A little bit lengthy, but can remedy that with the commentary. Do we want to do the shots of the lily of the valley (hyacinth)as long as we're hot?

  DIRECTOR
I see you're feeling creative, good. On with the lily of the valley!(hyacinth)

  CAMERA-MAN
After a cigarette break, though.

  MOTHER
There's something we haven't said.

  JOURNALIST
Go on.

  MOTHER
Enrico wore his father's jacket.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Yes. A dark jacket.
  MOTHER
My husband used it for gardening. When he left, he forgot it, left it hanging on a hook.

  JACK'S FRIEND
And Jack said: it's mine. Right?

  MOTHER
Right. He wanted it for himself. I watched him grow up in that jacket.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Jack called it: my chrysalis.

  DIRECTOR
Interesting, yes. Maybe we could use that… around the sixth, seventh episode. You agree, Bianca?

  JOURNALIST
Yes, maybe. We'll think about it. The father's jacket. But for now let's get on with the lily of the valley (hyacinth).

  DIRECTOR
Ok, let's go. Light change, Alberto!

 (The ELECTRICIAN cuts the backlight and puts up a
 general wash. The MOTHER heads towards her room)

  JOURNALIST
Don't run off, ma'am. We need your help for the lily of the valley scene.

  JACK'S FRIEND
That one I remember perfectly on my own. I've read it a thousand times in the diary. There was a Christmas tree on the balcony.

  DIRECTOR
 (Lighting up)
A Christmas tree?

  MOTHER
Yes, on the third floor.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Of the house across the street.

  MOTHER
With the little lights that blink on and off.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Yellow light, red light, blue light, off. Yellow light, red light, blue light, off.

  DIRECTOR
Bianca, I have a brilliant idea!

  JOURNALIST
What do you want to do?

  DIRECTOR
We'll reconstruct the scene, excellent! Let me take care of it! I feel it, I feel it… Gigi, take a look in the van to see if there happens to be…

 (The SOUND TECHNICIAN nods and exits)

  JACK'S FRIEND
What do I do?

  DIRECTOR
Just a moment. Carolina!

  CAROLINA
Yes?

  MOTHER
May I go?

  DIRECTOR
Yes, yes, go already! And stay quiet, if you can!
 (To the JOURNALIST, who is surprised)
That woman talks and talks, who does she think she is?
 (To the MOTHER)
Leave a little bit of space for us, too, huh?
 (To JACK'S FRIEND)
Tell it to her!

  JOURNALIST
Elio…

  DIRECTOR
Hey, I'm here, too, you know. Contrary to previous indications. Come here, Carolina. Your moment has arrived. Lie down here.

 (The DIRECTOR points to the pavement in front of
 the balustrade)

  CAROLINA
On the ground? But it's cold!

  DIRECTOR
You're right. Here.
 (Lays a blanket on the ground)
Now would you mind getting into places, my dear?

  CAROLINA
Do I have to play dead?

 (The SOUND TECHNICIAN enters with a little
 plastic Christmas tree with lights and ornaments)

  CAMERA-MAN
Where does this go?

  DIRECTOR
 (Points to the balustrade)
Here, on the balcony. Next to Jack's top-hat. Oh, yes, now that's good! How do you like it, Bianca?
 (The ELECTRICIAN plugs in the Christmas tree)
Ma'am, you, over there.

 (The DIRECTOR motions the MOTHER over to the
 balustrade)

  JOURNALIST
We'll be careful not to sensationalize too much, I hold fast to true journalism.

  DIRECTOR
Let me take care of it, we'll find the right balance. Lallo, I'd like to try a shot from above.

  CAMERA-MAN
From above?

  DIRECTOR
Am I speaking Arabic?
 (To the ELECTRICIAN, who is standing on a ladder
 adjusting a light)
Alberto, I need that ladder here.
 (To CAROLINA)
You ready?

  CAROLINA
 (Lying down)
On my back or on my side?

  DIRECTOR
 (To JACK'S FRIEND)
Would you mind showing us how Stella's body was on the ground?

  MOTHER
No.

  DIRECTOR
You will become famous, ma'am: the mother who always said no. It's exhausting!

  MOTHER
What does it matter how she was lying? And having the girl there on the ground… tell stories with words. Isn't that enough for you?

  DIRECTOR
Video (The screen)has its needs, my dear madam.

  MOTHER
 (To the JOURNALIST)
If you only knew the torment… it's as if I were there, too, with my son on those nights. And him, too…
 (Indicating JACK'S FRIEND)
Always recalling, reconstructing, consulting the diary… and Jack said, and Jack did… makes a person suffer.

  JOURNALIST
We all suffer, ma'am. Don't make a big deal of the professional exterior (judge us on the outside, we may seem cynical to you), we might seem cynics, but it's not like that. And besides, everyone has his own cross to bear, that's life. If I were to tell you all my problems… best not open that chapter. Why are you looking at me like that? Is it my hair?
 (Goes to the mirror above the sink and checks her
 hair)
It's just a little dirty.
  MOTHER
Do you have any children?

  JOURNALIST
Nope, no children, no husband - I'm single. But I do have a horse! Toboggan, a Lipizzan.
 (To JACK'S FRIEND)
Do you ride?

  JACK'S FRIEND
I don't really have the inclination.

  JOURNALIST
Shame, I was inviting you (I would have invited you to come with me). Riding is life!

 (The JOURNALIST slaps her notepad against her leg
 as if it were a horse-whip. The ELECTRICIAN puts
 the ladder where the DIRECTOR wanted it)

  DIRECTOR
Here, Alberto. I'd like to try it from here. Lallo, go!

  OPERATOR
Go, go… easier said than done…
 (Climbs half-way up the ladder, carrying the
 camera with difficulty)
Maybe it's the hour (time), maybe it's the ladder, but I feel my head spinning.

  DIRECTOR
 (Kneeling next to Carolina, who is waiting seated
 on the blanket)
Alberto, can you give me a thousand here? Good… now widen it a bit…
 (To JACK'S FRIEND)
Okay, let's say she was on her back. On the back works? It's more realistic that way, if you ask me.
 (To the CAMERAMAN)
Is she in the frame?
 (To CAROLINA)
Lie down.
 (CAROLINA lies down on her back)
Bend your legs slightly over here… here, like this. Nice. Close your eyes.

  CAROLINA
No practical jokes, alright?!...
 (CAROLINA closes her eyes)

  DIRECTOR
Perfect. Exquisite. You're ready for the lily of the valley. (hyacinth)
 (Laughs stupidly)
How does it look, Lallo?

  CAMERA-MAN
If she could curl up a little…

  DIRECTOR
Curl up.

 (CAROLINA executes)

  CAMERA-MAN
Stop! Good.

  DIRECTOR
 (To JACK'S FRIEND)
How's it looking? A good match?

  JACK'S FRIEND
The head… was bent in the other direction.

 (CAROLINA executes)

  MOTHER
More.

 (CAROLINA executes)

  DIRECTOR
Like this?

  MOTHER
A little bit more, still.

  DIRECTOR
Ma'am… more or less, right? Now we're into socialist realism!
 (CAROLINA has executed. The DIRECTOR
 speaks to JACK'S FRIEND)
Is this good?

  MOTHER
Eyes wide open.
 (CAROLINA executes)
And the mouth…

  JACK'S FRIEND
Are you speaking, or am I?
 (The MOTHER lowers her head)
Eyes wide open… mouth agape…
 (CAROLINA executes)
And the legs stretched out.
 (CAROLINA executes)
A little bit spread-eagle.

 (CAROLINA executes)

  CAMERA-MAN
Wait, no! It's either the legs or the head, I can't get it all to fit.

  DIRECTOR
Can't you get further up?

  CAMERA-MAN
This thing wobbles. If I fell (fall I'll) I'd kill myself, and then we'd (we'll)have a real corpse with human blood.

 (The two TECHNICIANS laugh; the CAMERA-MAN climbs
 higher)

  DIRECTOR
Yes, a pool of blood. As long as we're already here… abundance! What can you see from up there?

  CAMERA-MAN
I'm seeing… guess!

 (The two TECHNICIANS laugh)

  JACK'S FRIEND
 (Forcefully, as if to hush the TECHNICIANS)
And she had her jacket (coat) on, since it was very cold. It was a leather jacket, padded, so much that it was hard for Jack to sink the first few strikes in. So he undid her buttons and it seemed like after that, things went much better. That's what Jack said. But the blanket wasn't there.

  CAROLINA
 (Getting up)
Hey, no! Either you give me a jacket, or you leave me the blanket. I'm freezing!

 (The SOUND TECHNICIAN has fished a jacket and
 purse from out of one of the crates)

  DIRECTOR
Here's a jacket. Try it on.

 (CAROLINA puts on the jacket)

  CAMERA-MAN
I'm coming down, okay?

  DIRECTOR
Are you crazy? You need to be ready!
 (Takes the blanket from off the ground and puts
 it on his shoulders)
Like in the trenches!

  CAROLINA
It's kinda big on me.

  DIRECTOR
Nobody will notice when you're on the ground.
 (CAROLINA lies down; the DIRECTOR hands her the
 purse)
This, too.

  CAROLINA
Brrr… make it quick!

  DIRECTOR
 (To the ELECTRICIAN)
Lights up a little…
 (To JACK'S FRIEND)
Come here.
 (Makes JACK'S FRIEND kneel behind CAROLINA)
The knife!

  JACK'S FRIEND
Oh, yes…

 (JACK'S FRIEND raises the knife, which he still
 has in his fist)
  CAROLINA
Elio…

  DIRECTOR
You're not afraid, I hope…

  CAROLINA
I'd like to see you in my place.

  DIRECTOR
Wait, no, it's Christmas! The lights!
 (The Christmas tree lights begin to blink)
Gigi, go: background music.

 (“Silent Night” plays. The CAMERA-MAN films)

  JOURNALIST
Now Stella lies on her back, killed by twenty-six knife wounds.
 (To the MOTHER)
That's right, twenty-six?

  MOTHER
Yes, that's right.

  JOURNALIST
We have tried to reconstruct the scene as faithfully as possible. In the cold of the night, the only sign of life being the lights of a Christmas tree. What was Jack feeling in that moment? What was he thinking?

  JACK'S FRIEND
Lily of the valley (hyacinth), that's what he was thinking.

  MOTHER
The perfume bottle was sticking out of Stella's purse.

  JACK'S FRIEND
 (Fishing out of his pocket a bottle)
It was hard for him to unscrew the cap, his fingers were frozen. Surely, thought Jack, we're below freezing. Much below freezing.

  MOTHER
It was a very harsh winter. In our building the pipes froze. We washed with lemon for a week.

  JOURNALIST
Excuse me, is that the bottle of lily of the valley? The legendary bottle?

  JACK'S FRIEND
Yes, but the perfume's gone.
 (Shakes the bottle in the light)
There's just a little bit left. Two drops.

  DIRECTOR
Can you see it?

  CAMERA-MAN
Not very well. A little bit higher, please.

 (JACK'S FRIEND executes)

  JACK'S FRIEND
Lily of the valley.

  JOURNALIST
A perfume he knew quite well. The perfume of his first girlfriend, of his first love, the perfume of youth. He unscrewed the cap of the bottle…

  DIRECTOR
C'mon, unscrew it!…

  JACK'S FRIEND
Jack doesn't want to. There are only two drops left, they could evaporate.

 (JACK'S FRIEND puts the bottle back in his
 pocket)

  DIRECTOR
 (To HIMSELF)
We're never going to get to smell it, this damned lily of the valley.

  JOURNALIST
Can you at least go through the motions?

  JACK'S FRIEND
The motions?… Jack said…

  MOTHER
First, close her eyes.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Yes, that's true. The eyes.

 (JACK'S FRIEND closes CAROLINA's eyes)

  MOTHER
And the mouth.

  JACK'S FRIEND
The mouth, too.

 (JACK'S FRIEND closes her mouth)

  MOTHER
Then he put on the scent. With his pinky.

  JACK'S FRIEND
That's right, the pinky. There.
 (Raises his pinky. The CAMERA-MAN snaps his
 fingers to get JACK'S FRIEND's attention and
 motions him to look into the camera)
There, see? It's simple. Like this.
 (Executes the motion and then rises suddenly,
 very frightened)
Who's there?

  JOURNALIST
What's going on?

  JACK'S FRIEND
Footsteps! Someone's coming!

 (JACK'S FRIEND runs left and right)

  MOTHER
He was terrified.

  JACK'S FRIEND
He didn't know what to do. Escape? Where? Over there! Yes! Running? No, better go quietly. Without making eye contact. They're coming!
 
 

  MOTHER
 (Covering her face)
Oh my God…

  JACK'S FRIEND
There was a maze of back alleys… and Jack went here and there… yes, just like this… here and there…
 (Moves nervously and frenetically)
The footsteps were getting closer… but from where? He couldn't figure it out!
 (Yells)
From where?

  MOTHER
 (Still with her hands in front of her face)
Ask for forgiveness, Enrico… ask for forgiveness!

  JACK'S FRIEND
The footsteps rang like thunder… and Jack took Stella…

 (JACK'S FRIEND grabs CAROLINA by the arms and
 drags her behind the balustrade. The purse is
 left on the ground)

  CAROLINA
 (Terrified)
Help! Elio!

  JACK'S FRIEND
 (Covering CAROLINA's mouth with his hand)
Quiet!

  DIRECTOR
What are you doing?

 (The DIRECTOR moves towards the balustrade, but
 is stopped by the JOURNALIST)

  JOURNALIST
Stop. Lallo, you there?

  CAMERA-MAN
Here I am.

  MOTHER
The purse!
 (JACK'S FRIEND turns back, grabs the purse and
 flees behind the balustrade)
Just in time!
 (CAROLINA, curled up in the fetal position on the
 ground, cries)
Shut up, you little slut!

  JACK'S FRIEND
 (Speaking through the bars of the balustrade)
They were two tall, military-looking soldiers guys. They were speaking another language that Jack didn't understand.

  MOTHER
It was terrifying!

  JACK'S FRIEND
Sailors, Jack thought. Look, yes. Russian sailors. Or Dutch.

  MOTHER
This city isn't anywhere near the sea!

  JACK'S FRIEND
Anyway, they were foreign. They stopped to look at the Christmas tree… and chatting, chatting and laughing. They wouldn't go away! And so Jack started to pray.

  JOURNALIST
To pray?

  JACK'S FRIEND
And to talk with the knife.

  MOTHER
With the blade.

  JACK'S FRIEND
With the blade. To console her it. He was whispering, whispering with infinite love. And his prayers were answered, because when he looked up, the two men were no longer there. And so he left the entryway they were in, leaving Stella there behind… in that silence… in that perfume.

  MOTHER
He looked at her one last time.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Yes, that's true. In that semi-shadow… he looked at her one last time. She looked like a wet rag. A rind. Then he closed the knife, wrapped it in the handkerchief, put it in his pocket…
 (Executes the movements)
…and returned home.

  MOTHER
That's how it was.

  JACK'S FRIEND
It's all written in the diary.

  MOTHER
The end.

 (Silence)

  CAMERA-MAN
 (Lowering the camera)
Beautiful.

  JACK'S FRIEND
 (To the MOTHER)
It's not finished!
 (To the others)
There's the vandal for love!

  DIRECTOR
What's that?

  MOTHER
One of Jack's stories. Hot air.

  JACK'S FRIEND
 (To the MOTHER, angrily)
It's not a story! It's a parable!
 (The MOTHER lowers her head. JACK's FRIEND speaks
 to the others)
A tear-jerker. A stranger saw a fresco. It was so sweet… no, radiant… no… what did he say?…

  MOTHER
Sublime.

  JACK'S FRIEND
There, yes: sublime.
 (To the MOTHER)
I'm speaking.
 (To the others)
So sublime that the stranger began to cry. A masterpiece. Then he saw the men passing by. They passed by, passed by. My God! No one stopped to look at the fresco. But how? Where are you going? The stranger called them, tugged at their jackets: wait, turn back! Admire these forms, these spaces, these infinite perspectives! And these angels? Don't you recognize them? They are you! But those men, nothing! They huddled their shoulders and hurried their pace, annoyed. The stranger was desperate. What to do? What to do?
 (To the MOTHER)
Proverb!

  MOTHER
A drowning man would cling to razors.

  JACK'S FRIEND
And so the stranger screamed out in agony, took an awl and… ssslaaash!
 (Violently slashes the air a few times,
 accompanied by the shrill sound of his voice)
The lime! The plaster! Flakes! Dust! Destruction! Vandal!
 (To the JOURNALIST)
Vandal, yes. But for the love of the fresco. Now that the masterpiece was destroyed forever… reaped… with its pebbles lying in the sun… everyone ran to look at it! Everyone there to gawk, gossip, poke it with a finger. Everyone there to weep over the lost beauty. Traitors. They should have loved it before. That's what Jack said. Understand?

  JOURNALIST
Yes… I think so…

  JACK'S FRIEND
 (Lightly, as if trying to reproduce Jack's voice)
Will my little awl be able to scratch at the world's conscious?

  MOTHER
That's enough now.
 

  JACK'S FRIEND
Ask God to make knives.

 (Silence. Everyone stares at each other a little
 bit lost and frightened)

  CAMERA-MAN
 (Still perched on the ladder)
Wait, what did he say?

  DIRECTOR
 (Tapping his finger on his forehead)
Jack was sick.

  CAMERA-MAN
I didn't film any of that…

  DIRECTOR
Bianca… break time?

  JOURNALIST
Yes. Five minutes.

  CAMERA-MAN
I'm coming down, okay?! For good.

 (The CAMERA-MAN climbs down the ladder with
 difficulty)

  DIRECTOR
 (To CAROLINA, who is still behind the balustrade,
 a little shocked)
You can come out now. How's it going?

  CAROLINA
I was afraid he was going to rape me.

  DIRECTOR
No, Jack didn't rape his victims. He just killed them and then…
 (Runs his thumb across his belly, bottom to top)
Ssslaaassh! In French (Italian): ssssleeeeeech! (Ssslaaassh!)

 (The DIRECTOR laughs stupidly)

  CAMERA-MAN
Cigarette.
 (The CAMERA-MAN lights a cigarette and opens the
 front door a little)

  CAROLINA
Can I keep this? Brrr…

 (CAROLINA wraps herself more tightly in the
 jacket (coat))

  DIRECTOR
It's yours, I'll give it to you. You were fantastic, good job. Very expressive.

  CAROLINA
I can do better.
 (To JACK'S FRIEND, who hasn't moved and is
 staring into space)
Hey, you really scared me, you know? You need to be nicer to girls.
 (JACK'S FRIEND doesn't respond)
You feeling okay?

  JACK'S FRIEND
Excuse me.

 (JACK'S FRIEND accompanies the MOTHER to the
 table, sits her down, hands her a crossword, and
 then flees to the darkest corner of the stage)

  CAMERA-MAN
Fresh air! The storm rinsed out the earth. In my home town, after a storm, all the little kids go out to catch snails.
 (Satisfied breath)
Aaaahh!!

  JOURNALIST
Carolina!

  CAROLINA
Yes?

  JOURNALIST
I want four smiles for the four seasons, each one of them different, and each one more beautiful than the last. But sad, since they need to announce the crimes.

  CAROLINA
I don't know if I can.

  DIRECTOR
I'll teach you, it's not that hard. Come here!

 (The DIRECTOR and CAROLINA sit apart)

  JACK'S FRIEND
 (As if protected by the darkness, sings)
     You are like me
     Crazy like Jack
     You want to throw yourself
     Into the coming darkness
     La la la la la la…

  JOURNALIST
You have a very beautiful voice.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Jack and I, since we were little, sang in the choir. Then afterwards we wrote a lot of songs, lyrics and music.

  JOURNALIST
I'm impressed. Can you have us listen to some?
 
  JACK'S FRIEND
Gladly. When?

  JOURNALIST
Soon. We'll be needing it, to cut the tension…
 (Fishes from her pocket the little rock heart and
 shows it to him mischievously)
Let's take a walk in the old historic district?

  JACK'S FRIEND
With pleasure. Wait! I forgot…
 (Takes off a shoe and offers the JOURNALIST his
 arm)
Miss… is there anything I can do for you?

 (The JOURNALIST takes off a shoe, too, laughing)

  MOTHER
 (Bent over the crossword puzzle)
The fly kicks at what it can.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Bianca…
 (Waves his hand to “hypnotize” the JOURNALIST)
You are getting sleepy (relax)…

  JOURNALIST
Are you trying to hypnotize me?

  JACK'S FRIEND
Abracadab… bibbly… zap zap!

  JOURNALIST
I felt the shock! An electric current!

  JACK'S FRIEND
Yes, enough to illuminate New York! Or would you prefer Paris? Lisbon? Prague? No, Vienna! Do you waltz?

  JOURNALIST
I adore the waltz!
 (JACK'S FRIEND takes her hand while the SOUND
 TECHNICIAN puts on the “Blue Danube”. The music
 seems to be coming from far away)
It'll be a cripple's (limping) waltz!
 (They dance, limping each on one shoe)
You dance like an angel!

  JACK'S FRIEND
I was born with it…

  JOURNALIST
Can I ask you a question?

  JACK'S FRIEND
No. Yes. No.

  JOURNALIST
What do you do? In life?

  JACK'S FRIEND
Jack said that questions come dressed in evening wear, while answers, the poor things, wear overalls. I adore questions without answers.
 (The music is closer now)
If Jack saw (could see) me now…

  JOURNALIST
Do you know where he is now?

  JACK'S FRIEND
The Danube flows, the water will dry up. Then we'll need to search through the muck. Quick, quick!

 (The volume of the music increases)

  DIRECTOR
 (Having opened one of the two big, old, stacked
 boxes)
Carolina, come look!
 (Takes some cloth flowers and leaves from the box
 and throws them into the air)
Flowers and leaves! Magnificent! All fake, but it looks all real! September, October, April!
 (Puts flowers in CAROLINA's hair as she dances
 softly)
You look like Botticelli's Primavera! Italian Renaissance! We have smiles for all the seasons! For all the crimes!

 (Everyone laughs, the JOURNALIST and JACK'S
 FRIEND dance, whirling rapidly)

  CAMERA-MAN
 (Shooting photographs with flash)
Hey, I'm sending these photos to the press! Bianca Martinelli dances with Jack's friend!

  DIRECTOR
Scandal!

  MOTHER
 (With a shout)
Stop that music!
 (The music cuts out suddenly)
Come here, you!
 (Snatches JACK'S FRIEND from the JOURNALIST's
 arms)
Go home!

  JACK'S FRIEND
You don't get to order me around!
 (The MOTHER slaps him)
You did not need to do that.

  MOTHER
Yes I did! To take that damned idea out of your head!

  JOURNALIST
What idea would that be, if I may ask?

  MOTHER
That's a fine question, coming from you, simpering bitch! Back off!

 (The MOTHER shoves the JOURNALIST. Everyone moves
 to intervene)

  JACK'S FRIEND
You can't do that!

  MOTHER
 (To the JOURNALIST)
From the moment you came in here, you have done nothing but flatter him with your big doe eyes, your sweet-talking, your intellectual pretensions! All the little sluts are like this! They chat and chat but their real objective is to get in your bed!

  JACK'S FRIEND
 (To the MOTHER)
You should be ashamed (of yourself)!

  JOURNALIST
And what if that were true? Who's going to stop me? I'm not a baby, I can make doe eyes at whomever I please, I can go to bed with whomever I please, and (if there's a slut around here, it's you)the slut will be you!

  MOTHER
Damn you! Damn you!

 (The MOTHER throws herself onto the JOURNALIST.
 They scuffle. The CAMERA-MAN films)

  DIRECTOR
You're crazy, you're both crazy! You're ruining everything!
 (The two women are separated. The DIRECTOR
 addresses the JOURNALIST)
I am amazed at you.

  JOURNALIST
Shit, shit, shit!
 (Crying, the JOURNALIST throws herself into
 CAROLINA's arms)

  MOTHER
Viper…

  JACK'S FRIEND
 (To the JOURNALIST)
I'm distressed, I'm sorry.

  JOURNALIST
Leave me alone.

  JACK'S FRIEND
I don't know what I can offer (do), truly.

  JOURNALIST
Go away!

  JACK'S FRIEND
Bianca…

 (The JOURNALIST slaps JACK'S FRIEND)

  CAMERA-MAN
 (Without stopping filming)
Bingo.

  JACK'S FRIEND
 (Rubbing his cheek)
Love…

  MOTHER
Idiot!
 (To herself)
Just the same…

  JOURNALIST
What is she prodding at? Are you perhaps her son?

  JACK'S FRIEND
Me? No. Her son is Jack!Jack is her son.

  MOTHER
He should have consulted me the way you consult a survival guide. Mothers are good for that. And instead… look at him, just like Enrico!… Wedged between the dreams of his youth, like between the trash in a junkyard.

 (The MOTHER sits in her usual place)

  JACK'S FRIEND
 (Dreamy)
For Jack, life was… looking for the heads (loose ends)… that were dancing here and there… catching them and tying them together again… without stopping the race. Your honor… the dreams of youth are inhuman. Jack never understood how men can fall from such heights without hurting themselves. They always say that cats have nine  lives, but men have many more, each worse than the last, so Jack used to say.
 (He gives the MOTHER his shoe and puts his foot
 on her knee. She puts on and laces his shoe. He
 speaks low)
How did it go?
 (Nods to a melody)
La la la la la…

  MOTHER
Little runaround…

  JACK'S FRIEND
Little runaround…

  MOTHER
Who walks in the night…

  JACK'S FRIEND
Ah, yes… alone and desperate…

 (The melody begins to flourish from memory. The
 onlookers watch with interest)

  MOTHER
Your story is lost…

  JACK'S FRIEND
Entwined in signs…

  MOTHER
Inextricable…

  JACK'S FRIEND
Inexplicable…
 (Now singing at full voice)
     You are like me
     Crazy like Jack
     You want to throw yourself
     Into the coming darkness
     Turn the world upside down
     From top to bottom
     Vandal for love
     Reaping the night
     To see where
     Hides the light…

     And, as companion,
     Possessing a blade (a blade all your own).

  DIRECTOR
 (Softly to the CAMERA-MAN)
That could be the transmission's theme music.

  OPERATOR
Music and lyrics by Jack the Reaper.

  JACK'S FRIEND
 (Sings)
     Crazy like me
     You wish, like Jack,
     To dance, eyes shut,
     The tap dance of love
     Give blood a color
     Give pain some sense
     Death a perfume
     And in the coming darkness
     Make dreams run away
     Through our veins

     And, as companion,
     Possessing a blade (a blade all your own).

 (The song finishes, everyone applauds)

  DIRECTOR
Truly extraordinary! A revelation!

  CAMERA-MAN
It gave me goose-bumps!
  DIRECTOR
We could launch that, you know?

  CAROLINA
Have you ever thought of singing seriously?

  CAMERA-MAN
It's a hit!

  DIRECTOR
“Jack's friend”! Think about it!

  CAROLINA
At the Old Regular, they'd take you right away!

  JACK'S FRIEND
Bianca…
 (Takes the JOURNALIST's hands)
Did you like it?

  JOURNALIST
I was moved.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Electric current?

  JOURNALIST
A power plant inside of me. As if I had gone into that room!

 (The JOURNALIST laughs, pointing at Jack's room.
 JACK'S FRIEND laughs, too)

  JACK'S FRIEND
Let's get married.

  DIRECTOR
Haha, magnificent! Bianca, it's a wonderful idea: a wedding, bouquets of roses , a wedding cake!

  CAROLINA
And Jack can make the toast (be the witness)! Are you there, Jack?

 (Everyone laughs. Carolina puts a veil that she
 found in the boxes on the JOURNALIST's head)

  JOURNALIST
Are you people crazy?

  DIRECTOR
Come here. Arm in arm. Top-hat!
 (JACK'S FRIEND and the JOURNALIST look like the
 figurines on top of a wedding cake)
Perfect! Just like that!

  JOURNALIST
 (To JACK'S FRIEND)
We'll be bride and groom!

  JACK'S FRIEND
Yes!

  DIRECTOR
For play (pretend)… but also a little bit for real!

  CAMERA-MAN
 (Shoulder the camera)
The audience goes crazy for weddings!

  CAROLINA
Me too! I always cry!

 (CAROLINA distributes handfuls of rice from a bag
 that she found in the crate)

  DIRECTOR
This is what you call the happy ending! Pure theatre!
 (Laughs, applause)
Up with the lights, Alberto! Special effects!
 (The lights intensify, creating an amusement park
 effect, sequins sparkling. The dark, cavernous
 space from the beginning must be almost
 completely gone to make room for a luminous T.V.
 set. Everyone throws rice, singing the wedding
 march)

  ALL
Long live the bride and groom! Kiss! Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!

 (JACK'S FRIEND and the JOURNALIST kiss. At the
 exact same moment, the lights go out. Total
 darkness. Only from Jack's room filters the usual
 light)

  CAMERA-MAN
Nooo… we did it again! Too many lights!

  DIRECTOR
Peek-a-boo!

  CAROLINA
Crap.(Pig)

  DIRECTOR
Guess who it was?
 (The sound of a slap is heard)
Ow!

  CAROLINA
And (guess) who was it now? Guess!

 (Sparse laughter)

  CAMERA-MAN
Alberto, you there?

  MOTHER
Is that you, Jack?

 (The door to Jack's room opens and closes
 quickly, as at the beginning. The scene is
 momentarily lit by the blinding light. Then
 everything falls back into darkness)

  CAROLINA
I'm scared!

  CAMERA-MAN
Alberto, hurry up!

  CAROLINA
I smell lily of the valley!

  DIRECTOR
No, that's my after-shave: “Ancien régime” by Kopal.

  MOTHER
Jack, can you hear me?
  CAMERA-MAN
If you can hear her, turn the lights back on!
 (Suddenly, the lights go back up; the ELECTRICIAN
 has flipped the circuit breaker)
See that? See that he heard it!

  DIRECTOR
Thanks, Jack!

 (CAROLINA lets loose a blood-curdling scream and
 faints. The JOURNALIST's body is on the ground in
 front of the balustrade. JACK'S FRIEND is frozen.
 There's a muffled confusion, not even the
 slightest sound of a voice is heard. The DIRECTOR
 runs to the door, opens it, is about to flee, but
 then turns back, lifts CAROLINA, drags her a few
 yards, then abandons her and escapes. The CAMERA-
 MAN, having abandoned his camera, lifts the girl
 and drags her outside. The two TECHNICIANS
 approach the JOURNALIST to lift her, but the
 SOUND TECHNICIAN nearly faints, and then dry
 heaves. The ELECTRICIAN takes him under his arm.
 They flee. There is a long silence)

  JACK'S FRIEND
 (Looking at the JOURNALIST's body)
She was beautiful.

  MOTHER
Beauty and madness go hand in hand.

  JACK'S FRIEND
 (Fishes from his pocket the perfume bottle)
Lily of the valley. Finished.
 (Throws the bottle next to the corpse and then
 heads towards the screen)
Did you (she)say something?

  MOTHER
No, nothing.

  JACK'S FRIEND
 (From behind the screen)
Peace at last, eh?
 (Recites)
My own Venus / you rise from your shell / celestial birth / luminous daughter / of the sea…
 (The MOTHER has taken the sheet off a cot, and
 now covers the body of the JOURNALIST)
Did you (she) say something?

  MOTHER
Just a little (slight) movement of the air.

 (JACK'S FRIEND returns from behind the screen. He
 now wears the pants from the beginning and the
 jacket that was hanging from the hook. It's
 covered in stains, which could be blood)

  JACK'S FRIEND
A sheet over a dead body always has a nice effect. True No?

  MOTHER
True.

 (JACK'S FRIEND collects some flowers from the
 ground and throws them onto the JOURNALIST's
 body)

  JACK'S FRIEND
Spring… summer… autumn… winter.

 (The MOTHER fishes out of her pocket a letter and
 reads the message on the envelope)

  MOTHER
Do not open till the next crime.
 (Tears the letter to pieces and lets them fall
 onto the corpse)
That's what Jack said.

  JACK'S FRIEND
 (Looking up to the windows)
It's getting lighter.

  MOTHER
Yes, it's dawn.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Smoke signals.

  MOTHER
Clouds.

  JACK'S FRIEND
Cheyennes.

  MOTHER
Clouds.

  JACK'S FRIEND
 (Beating his chest)
Ugh!

  MOTHER
It's going to rain.

 (The MOTHER sits at her usual spot, picks up the
 crossword puzzle. JACK'S FRIEND sees the
 abandoned camera on the floor)

  JACK'S FRIEND
T.V. camera.
 (Picks it up, shakes it in his hands)
Ugh!
 (Looks into the viewfinder)
Beautiful!
 (Fishes out of his pocket the knife, looks back
 and forth between the knife and the camera,
 weighs them, then throws away the knife and
 embraces the camera, which shakes in his hands)
Good… good, my little dear!
 (Caresses it; the shaking stops)
Lallo, go!

 (JACK'S FRIEND goes to the ladder, climbs a few
 steps)

  MOTHER
They'll be here soon.

  JACK'S FRIEND
From up high.
 (Is at the top of the steps)
Twelve minutes and twenty-seven seconds!
 (Plays with the camera)
Incredible! Better than real life! Did you say something?

  MOTHER
No, nothing.

  JACK'S FRIEND
 (Pointing to the corpse)
A thousand here, Alberto.
 (Descends from the ladder. Addresses the MOTHER)
Excuse me… would you mind moving here?
 (Points to the balustrade; the MOTHER moves)
What do you say, Bianca? Gigi… background music! How?
 (Turns, surprised and frightened)
Who's there?
 (The MOTHER looks at him in silence)
You don't hear it? All these screams… this disorder… do you know what it is?

  MOTHER
There's a proverb. Chaos is God's crazy brother. Maybe he's the one who was woken up.
 (A loud thunder is heard)
Did you know that God had a brother?

  JACK'S FRIEND
 (Sneering)
One gives orders, and the other messes everything up!

 (JACK'S FRIEND plays with the camera and films
 the MOTHER)

  MOTHER
Which of the two will judge us?

 (A very loud thunder-clap)

  JACK'S FRIEND
Stop!
 (The thunder fades into a rumble. Without
 stopping filming, JACK'S FRIEND addresses the
 MOTHER)
Excuse me, would you mind repeating that?

  MOTHER
Which of the two will judge us?

  JACK'S FRIEND
Again!

  MOTHER
Which of the two will judge us?

  JACK'S FRIEND
Again!

  MOTHER
Which of the two will judge us?

 (Another violent thunder-clap followed by a long
 rumble as the lights slowly fade out. From Jack's
 door filters the usual light)
 
 
 

END
 
 



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