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SEMYON:

Everything shattered...cups...plates...life...a human life! A life shattered and no one sheds a tear.
Peace...humanity...a grave...Two people standing by a grave. There you have it, the entire story
of the human race. ​(He goes to the table)​ We’ve got by so far on what Maria brings home. We’ll
survive. ​(He opens a drawer.)​ Or will we? No, I don’t think we will.
(He takes a revolver out of the drawer and holds it to his head.)
Here’s your eggnog, Semyon, a bullet in the brain, here’s your answer. I’ll count to five and press
the trigger. One, two, three…​(He shuts his eyes. Someone knocks loudly on the door. He hides
the gun behind his back.)​ Who is it?

(The door flies open. ARISTARCH DOMINIKOVICH GOLOSHCHAPOV enters.)


(SEMYON with revolver behind his back and ARISTARCH.)

ARISTARCH:
Excuse me, am I disturbing you? For God’s sake don’t let me interrupt you if you’re in the
middle of something important.

SEMYON:
Oh, no...not at all. I’m in no hurry. Who are you? What do you want?

ARISTARCH:
Might I ask with whom I have the pleasure…?

SEMYON:
Oh yes. Er...yes. My God! Podsekalnikov. Yes, that’s me.

ARISTARCH:
Delighted. Forgive my curiosity, but you are the Podsekalnikov who intends to shoot himself?

SEMYON:
Who told you? ​(Aside)​ He’s come to arrest me for possession of firearms. Oh my goodness me,
that Podsekalnikov. Me? Never.
ARISTARCH:
Really not? How can that be? Here is the address and…​(He notices the note.)​ What’s this? ​(He
​ hat’s written here? ​(He reads.)​ I hold no one responsible for my death. And
picks up the note.) W
signed, Podsekalnikov. You are Podsekalnikov.

SEMYON:
I am. Six months hard labour.

ARISTARCH:
Now, come, come. This is not the way, citizen Posekalnikov...Does this do anyone any good? I
mean ‘I hold no one responsible.’ On the contrary, you must blame, you must accuse. You are
going to shoot yourself. Wonderful. Perfect. By all means. But shoot yourself for the good of
society. Don’t forget that you are not alone, citizen Podsekalnikov.

Look about you, look at our Russian intelligentsia. What do you see? All kinds of things. What
do you hear? Nothing? Why do you hear nothing? Because our intelligentsia is silent. Why is our
intelligentsia silent? Because it has been silenced. But you cannot silence a dead man, citizen
Podsekalnikov. If a dead man were to speak...Nowadays, when only the dead may say what the
living think. I have come to you as a dead man, citizen Podsekalnikov. I have come to you in the
name of the Russian intelligentsia.

SEMYON:
Pleased to meet you. Take a seat.

ARISTARCH:
You are taking leave of life, citizen Podsekalnikov. In this respect, you are right. Life has become
impossible. But if this is so, then surely someone is to blame. Now I am not able to speak out,
but you can. You have nothing to lose. You have nothing to fear. You, citizen Podsekalnikov, are
free. Therefore, tell us honestly, openly, boldly, whom it is that you blame.

SEMYON:
Me?
ARISTARCH:
Yes.

SEMYON:
Theodor Hugo Schultz.

ARISTARCH:
In the Comintern? No doubt he too is to blame. But surely not the only one, citizen
Podsekalnikov. There is no point in blaming only him. Blame them all. I’m afraid you don’t yet
understand why you are shooting yourself. Allow me to explain.

SEMYON:
Good grief! ...All right.

ARISTARCH:
Citizen Podsekalnikov, what you desire is to die for the truth.

SEMYON:
That doesn’t sound unreasonable.
ARISTARCH:
But truth does not wait, citizen Podsekalnikov. You must act quickly. Tear up this note and write
another. Write honestly what you think. Blame those that deserve it. Defend us, the
intelligentsia. Cross examine the government, ask one brutal question: why, in rebuilding the
country, have they not used someone as brilliant, as loyal, and as educated as Aristarch
Dominikovich Goloshchapov?

SEMYON:
Who’s he?
ARISTARCH:
Me. Write that, and then shoot yourself. And you will have shot yourself like a hero. That one
shot will awaken the sleeping conscience of this country. It will be the signal for open debate.
Your name will become a household word. Our death will be the topic of the day. Your picture
will be in all the papers. Citizen Podsekalnikov, you will be a people’s hero.

SEMYON:
Very interesting, Aristarch Dominikovich...tell me more.

ARISTARCH:
The Russian intelligentsia will gather about your coffin. The cream of the nation carry you
through the streets. You will be deluged with wreaths. Your hearse will be a garden of flowers.
Magnificent prancing white horses will draw you to the cemetery.

SEMYON:
Now, that’s living!

ARISTARCH:
I would have shot myself, citizen Podsekalnikov, but unfortunately I can’t. On principle. ​(He
looks at his watch.)​ We agree then? You must make a will, some sort of statement...perhaps it
would be better if I were to write it for you, and you simply then sign and shoot yourself.

SEMYON:
No, I’ll do it myself.

ARISTARCH:
You excellent man, you Russian hero...Allow me to embrace you in the name of the Russian
intelligentsia. ​(He embraces him.)​ I did not weep when my mother died. My poor mother,
citizen Podsekalnikov. But now...now…​(he goes, weeping)