In the park. Birds’ songs. Seated on a bench
with his eyes closed, Kigali soaks up the sun.
His appearance is that of a corpulent, mature, black tramp. With eyes closed,
he lets the sun bathe his face. He is wearing glasses, one of whose temple
pieces is held on with adhesive tape. Through the park go the following
passersby: couples, families, runners in jogging suits…
After a few moments of calm, Boniface enters. He is another black tramp of a similar age, but his skin
is a lot lighter and he is shorter. He is carrying a plastic bag. He approaches
stepping lightly, but when he sees that Kigali
has his eyes closed, his movements
become careful. Trying not to make noise, he puts the bag down next to the
bench, and begins to remove from it several wet articles of clothing:
undershirts, socks, underpants, shirts, which are few and rather worn. He
carefully spreads them out, using the bench for a drying rack. At a given
stirs and murmurs.
Is it you, Boniface?
Yes, Majesty. I have finished
washing all this. There was a big brawl at the fountain. One woman was fighting
with another one she said took her soap. It will be dry right away. With this
sun it won’t take long. I’m sorry I took so long.
I fell asleep.
That’s fine, Majesty. Until they
open the soup kitchen, it’s the best thing you can do: sleep.
I dreamed I had an audience with
Keep on dreaming. Some day he’ll
He seemed old and tired to me. I
got the impression that he’s very ill.
We’re all old, tired, and ill.
Before opening my eyes, Boniface, I
was listening to the birds. (Suddenly.) Tell me something. Did you mail
the letter to President Clinton?
Did you put the stamps and the
address on right? That letter is important. I know that it is going to impress
him. He’s not like the others. He will read it carefully and will send for me.
He’s a good man. Besides, I know that he’s very worried about our people. Everyone
We’ve made some progress. Before,
they were only concerned about the gorillas. They said we were catching too
many gorillas. Do you remember?
(Kigali seems not to have
What time do they begin serving
At noon. It will still be a good
How long a while?
Don’t think about it. The wait will
seem longer. Try to distract yourself. If you want, we can start strolling in
that direction until…
hushes him with a gesture, and
points with his finger.)
Look, Boniface….That white thing
moving like a wounded heron, isn’t it a newspaper?
Yes. Someone must have left it
forgotten on the grass.
Grab it, please, before someone
else takes it. Maybe it’s today’s.
(Boniface gets up and exits
to retrieve the newspaper. While Boniface has his back to
him, Kigali rummages in his
pockets and takes out a piece of candy. He unwraps it and puts it into his
mouth as fast as he can, before Boniface returns. He chews it
until, with a painful grimace, he holds his hand to his mouth, palpating a
tooth through his cheek. Boniface returns with a
Here it is, Majesty. We’re in luck:
it is today’s and it’s all here. (Noticing his gesture of pain.) What’s
This tooth. The filling that young
man put in has fallen out.
He didn’t seem very trustworthy to
me. The ones who always come don’t know anything. When I see them with such new
white coats, I start to shake.
We ought to be grateful to
them….They help us without asking anything in return.
Experience. They get experience,
and then they can treat patients who pay.
Everybody is happy, then.
No; not everybody: you lost the
(Shrugging his shoulders.) It
served me well while it lasted. Is it much before noon?
(Rummaging in his clothes.) Somewhere
here I have the candy they gave us yesterday. Maybe it will help distract you
from feeling hungry.
(Boniface finds the candy
and offers it to Kigali. The latter is
about to take it but, remembering his toothache, refuses it.)
No, Boniface. You need it more than
I do. Yesterday you hardly had any dinner. You gave me almost all your share.
Don’t think I’m unaware of this. I see it and I am thankful for it. And I take
it into account: eat the candy.
I’ll save it in case we need it
As you wish. Go ahead and read me
the paper…; I can’t understand very well what it says. Besides, with these
glasses I can’t see very well. I wonder who they belonged to.
To someone who stopped needing
them. Someone who died, perhaps.
May God receive his spirit. Now he
must be seeing the face of the Lord.
I hope he doesn’t need his glasses
for that. It must be terrible to ascend to Heaven to see God’s face and realize
when you get there that you’ve forgotten your glasses.
Go on and read, and don’t blaspheme
(Boniface browses through
It’s about politics in this
country….(Pointing out a photograph.) This is the man in charge of
(Looking.) He seems like a
good man. He may be. I don’t understand why the world is so terrible, being in
the hands of people who seem so charming.
You’re becoming cynical, Majesty.
Look at this. Last night a homeless
person was beaten. Right near here, by the warehouses.
Who did it?
(Reading.) “The victim, a
beggar named Jim Ortega…”
Jim Ortega? Is he the one who took
Yes, I think so. Yes, his name was
May God forgive him. Keep reading.
Who did it? Does it say there?
“According to a witness, there were
two or three clean-cut young men…”
What does “clean-cut” mean?
“Clean-cut” means they looked rich.
“They got out of a large, red car, which they parked at the entrance to the
alley where Ortega was preparing to spend the night, as usual. The victim says
he remembers nothing: only the blows and the insults.” I’m asking myself why
they had to insult him.
My God, forgive them, for they know
not what they do.
You think they didn’t know?
Read me more. Read me the
international news. I know you don’t like to, but I have to know.
(Sitting up, indignant.) What
kind of question is that? What do you mean what for? I have to know what is
going on. What would happen if they finally did agree to meet with me?
Who is going to meet with you?
Whoever. Someone will, and then,
how can I show up there totally ignorant? You surprise me, Boniface. I assure
you that sometimes I think you don’t realize my situation. You are so obsessed
with little things, that you forget what is truly important. It’ll take time,
but I know that I’ll succeed in speaking at the United Nations. Arafat spoke at
the UN, and he didn’t even have a real country.
He had a gun.
(After a pause.) Render me
that service, Boniface. I beg you.
(Boniface turns the pages of
the newspaper. Upon arriving at a certain page, his face contracts in a grimace
Here it is: “The tribal killings
continue. The army has laid waste to the whole region to the north of the
capital. The international observers found a scene of desolation and death at
their arrival: (He swallows and continues, speaking with difficulty.) hundreds
of cadavers, beheaded alive or after they were killed with machetes, are lying
along the shoulders of the roads. In a school near…”
That’s enough. You are right. Stop.
Stop it, Boniface. Don’t torture yourself. I’m sorry to have asked it of you.