ON THE OLD ROMAN ROAD

 

Screenplay for a full-length feature film

*Below is an extract from the full script. If you are interested in the full version, or for an easy reading copy, please contact us!

 

Spring                         Exterior/day
 

A deafening gunshot, which drowned out the girl’s scream. The servant preparing the midday meal shuddered; leaves and twigs blasted away by the heavy-gauge shot fell from above. There was another shot; a bird’s feather fell twisting in the air down into a brook and slowly floated away…

"Arsehole! Wants to shoot us all because of his woman!" the servant muttered.
 


Lane                         Exterior/dusk
 

Two Arab girls are walking down a narrow lane in town. The girl’s faces are covered: from below to halfway up the nose, from above down to the brows. Their huge black eyes gleam and sparkle.

Wrapped in long white robes, the girls walk, swaying gracefully, down the street and out into a square.

 

Square                         Exterior/dusk
 

The Arab girls go over to their own people. There are bonfires burning here. The caravan is about to leave. The camels call plaintively, mournfully. The drivers are packing up low tents. Finally the caravan formed up, but one of the camels does not get up, it stays lying down. The drivers ran over, look into its eyes and understand: the camel had turned obstinate. Its driver turns pale – he fears his master’s anger. The camel had not forgiven him some slight. The caravanbashi (person in charge of a caravan) comes over and says to the driver:

"You stay with it until this foolishness passes, then catch up."

The caravanbashi walks away with a jingle of bells. The stubborn camel turns its head, stares after him, and heaves a deep plaintive sigh. The caravanbashi stops his camel and looks back: maybe the camel will reconsider? No, it is still lying down, not budging. The caravan departed – into Babylonian sands, the Arabian Desert. The stubborn camel’s driver unrolls a strip of felt, wraps himself in an aba (a coarse wool wrap) and lays down to sleep in the hope that in the morning the camel will have forgotten the slight, will move, and they will be able to catch up the caravan by the evening.

 

Square                         Exterior/day


A cold, overcast day. Three months have gone by, it is well into autumn, but the camel is still sitting in the square. Some burly young man has decided to help the Arab: they have brought two wooden beams, pushed them under the camel between the legs and begun to lift it. Everyone was happy, while the driver could not conceal his joy: he grinned happily, embraced everybody. But after a minute or so the camel swayed and sank to its knees. The driver was in despair.

"A real stubborn brute," said the young man in wonder.

The driver sat on his felt roll and began knitting a stocking. He joined the thread to the camel’s wool. The longer the stocking, the balder the camel became.

That day saw the first snow flurries, it melted before it reached the ground, then began to settle on clothing. The camel, too, looked at these strange white flakes and shook them off with a sharp toss of the head.

Then suddenly the driver, a proud Arab, got down on his knees in front of the camel and wept. To comfort him somehow, boys brought him bread. But he carried on weeping silently. The tears tumbled from his eyes, trickled into his scanty mustaches and beard.

The camel stared at the driver unblinkingly, as though it wanted to penetrate the depths of his soul.

Suddenly the camel stretched its neck, groaned plaintively, sighed several times and began to get up.

The boys shouted:
"It’s got up, the dev (Armenian – dragon) got up!"

The driver rose, wiped away the tears, took the bread, loaded up the camel and set out. People smiled as he passed.

The boy Levon stared long and hard after the camel as it disappeared down the narrow twisting lane and went off to school.
 


Street/Square                         Exterior/day
 

The boy walks to school, his bag tucked under his arm. A few stray dogs followed in his footsteps. People walk down this street fast, in silence, deep in their own thoughts. All around silence, as if everything was smothered by deep snow. A curtain twitches mysteriously in one window. At the end of the street a woman’s voice is suddenly audible:

"Gago, go home!"

Somebody opens a door, looks up and down the street with frightened eyes and slams the door immediately. Uncle Grigor walks towards the boy. He is a sluggish man, but now he, too, is hurrying.

"Where are you going?" he asks Levon.

"School."

Grigor wants to say something, dismisses the idea with the wave of a hand, and walks on. Levon watches him go: this ox-like man was running, slipping in the snow. Almost all the shops ate locked shut. A man behind a windowpane caught the boy’s look, smiled at him in sympathy and shrugged his shoulders.

Suddenly a young woman ran out naked over the snow into the street, seized a boy playing there and dashed back through the door. A burly red-cheeked boy laughed ringingly at the sight.

The boy came out onto the square. On its smooth brilliant white surface is a black stain. Around it stand four solders in Turkish army uniforms. Their bayonets gleam on their rifles. Levon walks over. He sees a human head lying there. Blood on the snow.

The boy turns round: a headless man lies in the snow, his arms thrown wide. Nearby a butcher’s cleaver. Nearby Akhmed Chavush, the butches, on his knees. He seized a fistful of blood, wetted his beard and began praying to Allah.

The boy stood stock still, as if rooted to the stop. One of the solders orders:

Get out of here!"

Levon walks away.

 

Roof of a house                         Exterior/day
 

Levon, like the other boys, has launched a kite from the flat roof of a house. Large diametered, long tailed and multicolored kites soared into the blue of the sky and, reflecting the setting sun, seemed like wandering lamps.

Suddenly a curly month-old lamb floated through the air very close to the boy. When it had flown a fair way off, there came a barely audible bleat: "Ba-a-a-a! " The dot vanished in the sky.
 

 

Smithy                         Interior-Exterior/morning
 

The boy loved to watch smiths at work. The glowing forge reminded him of the enraged dragon in the fairy story. The red-hot iron was pulled out of the fire and the smiths with their sooty faces and their blackened roughened hands raised the heavy hammer. The boy came closer to the anvil so the fiery showers that flew from under the hammer sprayed over him. The eyes in the smiths’ black faces were red from the fire reflected in them. The smiths’ hammers either rang out in double quick time or, the reverse, at long intervals.

There was a long drawn-out squealing of wheels – the boy turned round: out of the mysterious semi-darkness of the smithy, in the precisely delineated rectangle of the opened door, a cart drawn by a pair of oxen passed slowly along the lane, drenched in a white light. Their horns were wreathed in big bunches of white blossom and it seemed their heads had been dipped in snow. The peasant’s fur hat was decorated with twigs of pink apple blossom.

 

Barbershop                         Interior-Exterior/day
 

The Armenian barber was shaving a Turk. At that moment a disheveled brother-in-law Manuk, the one who robbed corpses, walked quickly into the barbershop. He drew the barber aside and whispered in his ear:

"There’s a real to-do in the street: everything’s all messed up – Turks, Armenians! What are you doing here? There’s

a massacre in the square!" Brother-in-low Manuk’s eyes flashed blue sparks.

The barber decided that if a massacre had started, he should not let the opportunity slip – the Turk was dozing in the chair, up to his eyes in lather – and, barely pausing for thought, cut his throat. Then he rushed to the square, razor in hand, to join the crowd. The peaceful midday silence of the square stopped him in his tracks. Horrified by what he had done and cursing brother-in-low Manuk, he jumped on a horse and raced out of the town.



Street Exterior-Interior

A black open-topped Beetle braked to a stop in front of a carpet store at the Ku’damm; a swarthy girl in dark glasses got out. When she opened the door, a store clerk, Vano Hakopyan, came over.

"Can I help you?"

The girl quickly ran her eyes over him and said:

"I need an Oriental carpet, three by five." She carried on walking between the rows of carpets heaped in piles. The girl spoke in heavily accented German.

"This one," she said, pointing to a dark blue carpet. It was an Isfahan carpet, very expensive. There where so many intricate patterns on it, it could make your head spin.

"Perhaps not, I don’t know, " she added.

"Her accent is Arabic," thought Vano.

Vano suggested a wonderful Karabakh rug. He took a rolled up rug and with a single rapid shake unfurled it in front of his client. The carpet was woven of turquoise and ruby. It radiated calm, strength and beauty. It did make your head spin. The proprietor was out and, while the carpet was wrapped, Vano offered his client an Oriental coffee. She accepted.

When Vano had poured the coffee and sat at a low table, the girl finally took off her glasses. She took a sip and said:

"Tasty!"

Her eyes were doe-like and huge.

When she left, Vano took her business card from the table. It read: Lejla Weichbutter. Vano inspected Lejla’s empty coffee cup: the patterns of the coffee grounds on its thin porcelain sides were very promising.

 

Forest                         Exterior/day
 


In the green sunlit forest, a little lake gleamed mysteriously. Like a round mirror dropped in the grass, it reflected the trees bending over it and the blue sky between them. When a white Arab stallion placed a leg, black to the knee, in the water, the mirror shattered.

The stallion swam. Lejla slipped off the horse and, holding onto its neck, swam alongside. Her body was tanned chestnut.

Then a long-legged golden-chestnut Karabakh stallion stepped in the water. Vano paid no heed to his nakedness, as he held onto the horse, exaggeratedly straight, like a solder on parade. His body was tanned a golden wheat color.

 

Street/Store                         Exterior/Interior/dusk
 

When the working day had ended, a sherry colored Porsche drew up in front of the store and the telephone rang immediately. The boss picked up the receiver. He said:
"Good. Vano! A client wants to talk to you. He wants you go out to his car."

When Vano went out onto the pavement, the door of the Porsche flew open. A fit-looking young man said:

"Get in. I’m Lejla’s husband."

His only defect was a bald spot on his domed skull.

As soon as Vano had got in and shut the door, the Porsche raced off madly. They both looked in silence at the windscreen. The Porsche turned onto the autobahn. The speedometer went beyond 210 kph. The Porsche was vibrating and felt as if it wanted to tear itself away from the road surface. Vano’s stony face expressed nothing.

"Now this lunatic is going to smash us to pieces. But I’m not going to start a conversation because of that," he said to himself, noticing the sweat on the driver’s tanned bald patch.
 


Levon’s apartment                         Interior-Exterior/dusk
 

Djemal turned the TV on: there should be something about the Kurds. Before Madonna had been demonstrating athletic sex. Then there’d been a soap bubble with a fat man turning inside and someone had lifted a trap door in a beach and disappeared into the sand.

First a cow-like German politician said something good-naturedly:

We do not want the conflict between Kurds and Turks to be settled on German soil. Violence on the part of demonstrators will be dealt with according to the laws of this country…" The cow puffed on a fat cigar. Then there was an interview with the Foreign Minister. He looked like an unsuccessful baseball player.

"We want by legal means – I repeat, legal! – to expel members of the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) from Germany."

"Where to?" was the question.

"Where they came from’" snapped the minister.

Then a Kurdish youth doused himself in gasoline, - the camera did not manage to show haw he set fire to himself – burst into flame and span on one leg like a top. The police line and the Kurdish demonstrators watched the torch burn.

The Turkish ambassador, in spite of his accent and the awful number of mistakes he made, spoke in German:

We will take all PKK members – they are terrorists – back in Turkey. An independent court will decide measures of punishment – Turkey is just as much a democratic country and cut off limb of European member…"

A barge loaded with construction materials – boards, bricks and a mound of gravel – drifted past the window. Suddenly a pig with an ax in its back jumped out of a heap of cement, busily ran in a semi-circle, then disappeared.

The Turkish ambassador carried on.

"Switch off the Sultan’s eunuch!" Levon said.

Djemal pushed the button and box fell silent.

The disturbed water filled the flat with sliding golden reflections. Covered in Levon’s script, the endless paper ribbon again began to wind trough the air, like a conveyor belt transporting time and history.
 


Lane                         Exterior/morning
 

Levon walked down a narrow lane. Suddenly a pomegranate flower fell at his feet. The boy picked it up and smelt it: the red blossom had no scent. Behind a stained glass latticed window a girl’s rapid whisper could be heard:

"Come tomorrow morning."

It was the house of Akhmed Chavush, butcher and executioner. They say he’ wet his beard with the blood of more than a hundred condemned, thought Levon.

 

Lane/House                         Exterior/morning
 

Early in the morning Akhmed Chavush went out of the gates of his house with two older wives. The latter were wrapped in black garments. Akhmed locked the gates.

Waiting until they had passed out at the end of the lane, Levon came from round the corner of the house, climbed the wall and dropped down: it was an inner courtyard, paved with stone slabs. A pomegranate tree with a crown as a ball grew here. Next to it was a bush of Persian lilac. It was also in flower, so profusely that the bush resembled a mauve cloud.

There was nobody in the courtyard. He pushed the door of the house. It was locked. Then Levon went along the staircase that climbed around the outside of the house. It took him onto the flat roof of the house. He went to the edge: there was another inner courtyard. A girl was asleep on the crown of a Persian lilac. She resembled a very young Lejla. That was the name of Akhmed Chavush’s third wife. Her naked body, brown as the chestnut, was drowning in the mauve foam of Persian lilac.

 

Levon’s apartment                         Interior-Exterior/dusk
 

Djemal knew a song about an eagle whose wings had been cut off.

Levon said:

"Mister Ashur, a Syrian teacher, taught me my Armenian letters. Mister Ashur was a poet as well. He wrote "The Infant’s Dream", "Elegy On The Grave of Aznavour The Decorous", "Angels", Ode To The Warrior", "Peace Be On Your Families", Celestial Daughters", Mister Ashur’s teaching methods were simple – the stick.

There is a story that he was seen in 1915 in the desert; there was a sand storm and he gathered round him the children and adults, who were dying of thirst, and gave them Armenian lesson drawing a word in the sand, the wind erased it, the teacher wrote again in the sand…"

 

Lane                         Exterior/day
 

Levon’s mother is taking him to the bath house. Maritsa walked in front, not hurrying. A pale blue umbrella in her hand. Her maid walked behind her. A comb that resembled a dove’s wing was prominent in Maritsa’s hair. She swayed her hips artfully, glanced at the men, smiling slightly.

"Don’t look at her," his mother whispered.

The mother knew the boy had already seen Maritsa naked in the bath house several times, but she always said in the street; "Don’t look at her!"

 

Bath house                         Interior/day
 

The building of the Oriental baths was constructed over sulfur springs. Next to it rose heaps of ash and cinder and as you crossed this black and white territory it felt as though you had landed on the moon. Something bright red was moving along the path between the hills. It was a vegetable seller. His cart was heaped with crimson tomatoes. The bright stain moved against the black background. When the cart drew level with one of the hills, suddenly a bunch of about ten boys, led by a youth, emerged out of the ash. They were also the color of ash. The youth felled the seller with a blow of the fist. The boys swarmed over the cart with devilish speed, grabbed as many tomatoes as they could and ran away. Their heads and clothes smoked as they ran, and a trail of fine ash drifted after them.

 

Street                         Exterior/day
 

Two Turkish policemen were leading an Armenian. The man they held was puffing under the weight of a basket. When they had passed, the mother stopped to look after them.

"He was smuggling bullets," a passer-by said. "For the revolutionaries in the mountains."

Meanwhile the man under arrest put his basket on the ground, to change hands. One of the policemen lifted the lid of the basket: there was a yell and a girl in a yashmak leaped out and run off, screaming, next to Levin. Everyone was helpless with surprise. The smuggler went to escape, but a policeman grabbed him by the shirt.



Apartment Interior-Exterior

"…In the language of the Turks, the boys who lived behind bath house were called kyulkhan-beys – lords of the ash heaps," Levon continued his story. Women would throw babies born out of wedlock behind the bath house. Those that survived would burrow into the warm ash in winter, to get away from the cold. They buried their own dead. They lived by theft. Once a year the owners of the bath house by low, would remove the ash heaps. The workers would come across dozens of corpses. One of the lords of the ash heaps was Ali, a handsome, tall, well-built, strong young man of about twenty-one. My father brought him to work for us as a watchman. He immediately changed his clothes, bathed (the third time in his life), shaved, cut his hair, tied on a broad long green belt, stuck a crooked dagger in it and took up a long stout stick. They used to say that Ali carried on unofficially as the chief of the town’s bandits. While Ali was with us our house and property was never robbed…

 

Bath house                         Interior/day
 

The boy watched the maid wash Maritsa and rub her with some kind of fragrance. The swirling steam, the debilitating heat, the heavy smell of sulfur and overweight women’s bodies, made Levon fall into a drowsy stupor – as if he could see himself from outside.

A woman leaned across from the next compartment and whispered to his mother:
"Look," she said, indicating Maritsa, "what a body, no wonder they all go to her."

A thirteen-year-old girl, Ekhitsapet, the eldest brother’s fiancée, came into their compartment. The mother bathed the girl and combed her hair. She kissed the mother’s hand. Catching Levon watching her, the fiancée smiled: Levon, who was thirteen, was a child to her. The big nipples of her small round breasts glowed pink in the lather.

 

Room                         Interior/day
 

Ali entered the father’s office. (He was the same young man who knocked down the tomato seller.) He was obviously tormented by painful thoughts. He looked as though he wanted to tell the father something important, but couldn’t do it.

"What is the matter, Ali?" the father asked.

"I want to tell you something, but I am afraid, you’ll laugh at me."

"Speak, don’t be shy."

I have decided to walk barefoot to Mecca, to become a khadji(Arabic – a Muslim who has made the pilgrimage to Mecca.) and return. I have made a vow."

"That is a good thing you have thought up, Ali. But why barefoot?"

"So that my most heartfelt desire will without doubt comes to be."

"Well then, and a good journey to you," said my father, ending the conversation.

Ali did not leave.

"May I be ash at your feet," said Ali (instead of ‘dust’ he said ‘ash’.)

"Speak Ali, I am your friend…"

"Effendi (Turkish-Mister), if you could give me two gold pieces, anything can happen on the road."

"Two gold pieces will not be enough," the father said. "I will give you fifteen."

Ali bent and kissed the hem of his robe. The father counted out fifteen gold coins and placed them in Ali’s hand.

When Ali had gone out, the mother, who had been listening at the door, came in.

"If it had been an Armenian going to Jerusalem, you would have given him nothing for sure," she snapped.
 


Road                         Exterior/midday
 

Ali was walking along a dusty road drenched in the white midday light. He has changed his clothes for the rags of a lord of the ash heaps. In his hand is a gnarled shepherd’s crook. His bare feet step in the hot dust. When Ali passed some old man squatting by a wall, one of them spat contemptuously after him and swore:
"Kyulkhan-bey!"

Ali did not turn round, though he heard the insult.

 

Apartment                         Interior-Exterior/day
 

Levon continued the story:
"Brother-in-low Manuk grew so rich robbing corpses, he bought the barbershop of the barber who fled the town, the one who didn’t understand Manuk’s joke and slaughtered the Turk. Now nobody could say brother-in-low earned his money robbing the dead. Brother-in-low Manuk also bought expensive pigeons from Diarbekir – Diarbekir pigeons are the best in all Asia Minor – and became a passionate pigeon fancier. Instead of barking at night in the graveyard, he now spent all his time on the roof – racing pigeons. The pigeon fanciers used to lure away each other’s pigeons and there would be fights as a result, sometimes with knives…
 


Lane                         Exterior/day
 

Akhmed Chavush stuck up a yafta(Turkish-Poster) on the wall and began to shout in his hoarse thunderous voice. He did so with obvious pleasure. His voice made people fell afraid.

"Ali is on his way back from Mecca. He is barefoot and weak. The duty of every Muslim is to meet Ali and ask him about the paradise promised to Muslims. Disobedience means the gallows! The prophet has shown great mercy to Ali! Ali has earned this great favor by making his pilgrimage to Mecca on foot! He sank his bare feet in the white-hot sands of the Arabian Desert! From today he is Ali-bey! Every Muslim is obliged to meet Ali-bey with gifts! Disobedience means the gallows!"

 

Road                         Exterior/midday
 

A crowd of people blocked the broad dusty road between the wheat fields. Ali left by this road for Mecca. By this road he was returning home. The air shimmered in the midday heat. The brightly colored Oriental carpets, which were spread on the road for two to three kilometers, were going grey from dust. A dot appeared in the distance. It grew gradually, turning into human figure. It was Ali. He had on a long green Aba, his head is also wrapped in a green head cloth, in his hand a long gnarled crook, his chest bared, also exposed is his manhood, now graced, by the prophet’s favor, with the seal of the khadji – the reward he earned for his pilgrimage.

The people surrounded him. All that could be heard was the hard breathing of thousands of people – each trying to be among the first to touch the symbol of Ali’s masculinity sanctified by the prophet, touch his rags and crook, to bring or name his gift: someone gave a horse to the barefoot pilgrim chosen by the prophet, someone a portion his property, someone his entire store. Mounds of offerings – silk, silver, gold, furniture, carpets, rugs, beds, bedding, clothing, weapons, musical instruments – were at last loaded onto litters, and Ali, surrounded by the crowd, set off, dusty and tired, for the town. The roofs were crowded with onlookers, curious women pressed against barred windows. Ali was silent. He walked slowly: exhausted. Dust and sweat made furrows in his brow. He riches the town mosque and falls on his knees. He kisses the warm marble threshold, prays, turns his face to the South, and enters the mosque.

Then they accompany him to a palace set aside for him and there he asks them to let him rest:

I am tired…"

 

Barbershop                         Interior-Exterior/day
 

Brother-in-low Manuk soaped a customer’s face up to the eyes, then began to hone his razor on a leather strop. Several boys sat on the threshold of the open barbershop. One of them said loudly so brother-in-low could hear:

"But Petros’ pigeon hatched two fledglings." With a smile, the boy winked at Levon.

Brother-in-low Manuk falls for it, walks over to them, razor in hand.

"Who said so?"

"Hamlet."

"Can’t be true."

"Hamlet said: "Two fledglings’."

"This Hamlet’s lying."

The customer is indignant. Soap bubbles are bursting on his mustaches, tickling his nose.

"Listen, are you going to give me a shave or not?"

Be patient a moment," Manuk tells the customer.

Brother-in-low Manuk is flummoxed.

Another boy says:

"I’ve seen Petros’ fledglings with my own eyes."

The customer is furious:

"How long am I supposed to wait?!"

Brother-in-low Manuk’s eyes are wandering and the customer is growing fidgety: he remembers that one customer has already had his throat cut in this barbershop. Will Manuk suddenly try and do the same?

"What’s up with you?" brother-in-low asks calmly.

This calm is worse than if he had shouted. The customer looks around warily and is no longer angry, he is asking now:

"I want you to give me my shave…"

Brother-in-low grabs a towel sand wipes his face:

"Right, out!"

The customer leaps out of the chair, puts on his fez and runs for it. Brother-in-low Manuk closed the barbershop. It was still working hours. As he did so he muttered:
Give him a shave! Does he think I’ve nothing better to do?"

 

Shop                         Interior-Exterior/day
 

A month later Ali opened a grocery store, in which there were neither scales nor measures, because he neither weighed nor measured anything.

Ali-bey sat in state in the shop, propped up on silk, brocade and satin cushions, in a green aba,

With a half meter long mouthpiece between his teeth and wearing a green head - cloth.

A rich man appeared outside the window. When caught sight of Ali he made a servile greeting. Ali beckoned with a finger, invited him to come in.

When the man had come into the store, Ali said:

"What should I send to your house?"

"Send anything you like," the rich man said and placed several gild coins on a silk pillow.

At midday the lords of the ash heaps gathered in front of the store. Ali sat at the window in such a way he could not be seen and watched his servants hand out bread. The "lords" pushed and fought for an extra piece, squeezed out the weaker ones, who were then brought to Ali. He gave them bread out of his own hand.

 

Stone well                         Exterior/dusk
 

Levon dreamed a dream: from the bottom of a stone well Leyla and Ekhitsapet, his brother’s fiancée, their bodies covered in feathers flew slowly upwards with a powerful flapping of violet wings, circling. The boy was looking down from window. Leyla ant the fiancée flew past the window.

Levon now watched from below as they flew up to the house roof…

 

Lane                         Exterior/day
 

Ali-bey set off for his store. "To work," he used to say to himself. On the street a policeman, reckoned to be mad, was beating up a kyulkhan-bey. Ali walked past. The cries of the boy being beaten up continued. Then Ali turned back and slapped the vicious policeman across the face.

 

Store                         Interior/day
 

A charade was being acted out, a mad, nightmarish charade: one of Ali’s servants tied on a dirty red apron to look like a street coffee vendor. Ali sprinkled ash from the bathhouse ash heaps on his head and expensive clothes. He did this from an expensive porcelain dish. Than he said:

"Give me a cup of coffee."

The servant in an apron served him coffee. The servants watched Ali, covered in ash, slowly drink his coffee. After drinking it, Ali placed the empty cup on a try and said:

"That’s on credit, I have no money…"

 

Bedroom                         Interior/dusk
 

Ali lived in unheard-of luxury. He took eight twelve –year-old girls as wives, one after the other. A strange concert was now taking place in his royal bedroom: Ali was lying on his back. Five wives were sitting on him ay once. The remaining three were accompanying them on Eastern musical instruments, one of them also singing a popular song of the time with the strong, full voice. A fawn wandered around the bedroom, a peacock on the windowsill shrieked harshly from time to time….

The mark of the khadji was not to be seen.

 

Ash heaps                         Exterior/dusk
 

Levon’s father walked along a path between the ash heaps. Suddenly Ali-bey in regal brocade clothing crawled out of one of the heaps. Father took fright, then recognized Ali and stopped.

"Ali-bey, what are you doing here?"

In the dusk the ash dropped from the gold cloth, the breeze wafted smoke from Ali’s head in a ray of the setting sun.

Ali said:

"Every so often I feel like burrowing into a heap of ash…"
 


House                         Interior-Exterior/dusk
 

Brother-in-low Manuk’s wife screamed, lost consciousness and collapsed on the ground. Brother-in-low Manuk went to the window and drew aside the curtain: Petros the pigeon fancier stood in the yard with Hamlet and two brothers. They had all in their time suffered at the hands of Manuk. Petros shouted from below:

"Come out!"

Brother-in-low Manuk went to the cupboard that he alone had the key to. He unlocked the cupboard, got out his grandfather’s old dagger, pulled it out the sheath, kissed the cold steel, slid it back into the sheath and went outside. His wife remained lying on the stone floor. Brother-in-low Manuk’s appearance in the doorway and the huge unsheathed dagger had their affect – his opponents drew back. Petros muttered:

"We’ll talk another time."

Brother-in-low Manuk looked at the floor: his wife did not get up. Then he went up the outer staircase onto the roof of the house. He opened the cages. The pigeons settled on his shoulders, hands and head.

Levon was lying on the roof of the house next door. The boy looked down: brother-in-low Manuk was covered in blood and pigeon feathers. Drops of blood were spattered across his face, white shirt and hands. Blood dripped from the huge dagger that glinted in the dusk. All over the roof decapitated pigeons twitched, fluttered their wings, jerked.

The boy covered his eyes wit his hand.

 

Apartment                         Interior-Exterior/dusk
 

Neither Levon nor Djemal saw the bow of a luxury yacht sail into the rectangle of the window, very close to the glass. The hatch was inlaid with turquoise ceramic tiles decorated with Indian cucumbers. Lejla was lying on the floor. Her naked body gleamed like a wet chestnut. Vano poured liquid yogurt out of a dippier onto Lejla’s head. Her eyes were closed.

Levon, a short gnarled old man with a huge skull, went to the lectern. He no longer paid any heed to anything: neither to Djemal at the table who was whispering "… not a Chinaman", -thin glass scrunched, Djemal raised his hands out with stuck long splinters of glass from the crushed goblets, then he stood up and began waving his bloody hands and hobbling like a wounded bird: nor to the tremendous crash and immediate explosion of a fuel tank that came from above, from the busy highway carrying thousands of cars than ran parallel to the canal.

Levon inserted a new roll of a clean paper that gleamed lake parchment onto the roller and began to stretch it tight. He did not see a burning, blazing cherry-colored Porsche hurtle immediately after the crash into the black water of the Berlin canal. It flew towards the yacht, but fell next to it an immediately began to sink. The yacht did not slow down.

Levon pulled the paper tidily down onto the lectern and took his pan…
 

THE END
Copyright © Don Askarian 2000