Death of a Mercenary: Act 1 - Scene 6


ACT I- SCENE 6


THE BEDROOM SUITE IN HELENA’S APARTMENT -- LATER THAT NIGHT

The light of a full moon cast long contrasting shadows on the bedroom’s white-coloured concrete rendered walls. No lights have been turned on; darkness is reflected on the floor’s polished terra-cotta tiles.

On the back wall (up stage), a set of GLASS PANED-DOUBLE DOORS exit towards an outside balcony. A gentle breeze bellows the sheer cloth curtain panels that hang from wooden rods at each side of the doors. The blades of a CEILING FAN turn languidly from the centre of the ceiling.

On the foreground of the right side-wall is a wood framed entree leading towards the bathroom. In the space between this entrance and the corner of the wall is a RECORD PLAYER/BAR COMBINATION CABINET. Framed reproductions of MODERN ART decorated the walls, POTTED PLANTS, the corners.

A BED is centred on the left side-wall with its foot-board extending towards the right side-wall. There is walking space at both sides of the bed and NIGHT TABLES at each side of the TALL WOODEN HEAD-BOARD. Resting on top of the left side night table is a LAMP. To the foreground of the left side-wall is an opening that leads to the rest of the apartment, and the exit.

The record player is playing the song “Memorias” by the Spanish singing idol, Camilo Sesto*. HELENA and AGUSTIN are in bed engaged in passionate, slow moving love-making that seems to be choreographed to the rhythm of the music. As the song finishes and the record stops, they climax and remain panting in each other’s arms, Helena’s body laying on top of Agustin’s.



HELENA
(Panting)

God! Where’d you learn how to fuck?! (gasp) I can’t breath! (as her breathing normalises, she kisses his face repeatedly, gently) Your are such a prick! (moans in surrender) God, I hate you! (more kissing)


AGUSTIN
(Staring at the ceiling, distant)

Helena, stop being so melodramatic.


Stung by the words, her face a mask of fury, HELENA sits upright, and slaps Agustin’s face hard.

_______________________

*See lyrics at the end of play


HELENA
(Cold)

You fucking sonofabitch!

She tries to hit him again but AGUSTIN reacts quickly and grabs hold of her arms. He pulls her towards him, rolls over her, and pins her to the mattress, his hands holding hers wide. She struggles to get free and curses at him. He holds her more tightly, smiles mischievously, bends over and kisses her hard on the lips. Helena tries to resist but the effort is in vain. Agustin looses his grip and she embraces and kisses him with renewed passion. He pulls away slowly, eyes locked with hers.


AGUSTIN
(Feeling his jaw)

Has anyone ever told you that you have a nasty temper?

HELENA
(Angry at him and at herself)

Did anyone ever tell you that you’re a lousy lover?


AGUSTIN

You should consider some serious therapy. Mood swings can be treated, you know.

Abruptly, HELENA pushes him aside as he mocks her with a low guttural laugh. She reaches for a wrap-around robe that hangs from the bed’s headboard and covers her naked body.


HELENA
(With an expression of disdain)

Such’a prick. Men!


AGUSTIN remains laying on his back staring at the ceiling. HELENA turns on the table lamp and sits staring at him as she works her long hair with her fingers.


HELENA
(Thinking)

Agustin?


AGUSTIN
(Lost in his own thoughts)

Um…?

HELENA

I want to ask you something, and I want you to give me a straight answer.


AGUSTIN
(Yawning)

What?


HELENA stops playing with her hair and nails him with a piercing look.


HELENA
(A beat)

Are you faking it?


AGUSTIN
(Stupefied)

What…?!


HELENA
(Growing agitated)

When we make love, are you for real… or just an act?


AGUSTIN
(Disbelief, annoyance)

Jesus fucking Christ! What do you think?


HELENA
(Anger and frustration)

God damn it! I don’t know what to think! (then) When I’m with you is like it doesn’t get any better and I have no doubts. But then, you turn into something else -a thing, no feelings, no emotions, and I feel like I wasn’t good enough for you -like now!


AGUSTIN does not reply; he turns on his side and ignores her. HELENA looks at him with cold controlled rage.


HELENA
(Hissing disgust)

You’re so hollow inside all that’s left is an echo!


AGUSTIN
(Expressionless)

It’s a gift.


HELENA’S feelings of jealous fury, doubt and passion release like a torrent, and she grabs a knife from the top of the night table and sticks it hard into the headboard.


HELENA
(As she swings the knife)

Bullshit! I’m fucking serious! Agustin, look at me! Is this your sick way of telling me that you have another lover?


AGUSTIN’S initial shock turns to rage. He grabs the knife and throws it away. Then, he grabs Helena by the shoulders shakes her violently.


AGUSTIN
(Screams)

Stop it!


HELENA begins to sob. She’s left drained, lost and miserable. Startled by his own violence, AGUSTIN releases her. His mask of anger slowly recedes and his hand (and heart) reach out to her and gently wipe away the tears. She grabs his hand with both of hers and with closed eyes, she holds it to her cheek. His other hand gently removes loose strands of hair from her face. She opens her eyes and looks at him, and he answers with a tender smile.


AGUSTIN
(Softly)

Tú, sólo tú, has suspendido la pasión a mis enojos, la suspensión a mis ojos, la admiración a mi oído. Con cada vez que te veo nueva admiración me das y cuando te miro más, aún más mirarte deseo.

[You, and only you have overruled the passion of my anger, the distraction to my eyes, the whispers in my ear. And every time that I see you, you give me new admiration and the more I look at you, to see you more I desire (from “Life is a Dream”, Act I).]

The day I met you I knew that I would never want to want another woman but you.


HELENA
(Rolling her eyes and embracing him)

Oh, you are soooo corny!


They remain silent for a few moments. Then, abruptly, HELENA moves away, ashamed of her vulnerability; angry of her weakness, afraid of rejection. She takes a deep breath, and gradually -painfully, the words come out.


HELENA

I don’t want you to get the wrong idea. I just want things clear between us. So let’s keep it simple. Whenever you get tired of me, or I get tired of you, we just move on. No strings attached, no hard feelings. Understand?


AGUSTIN understands, but remains silent. HELENA gets out of bed and ties the robe’s cord around her waist. AGUSTIN grabs her hand as if to say something, but she tenses, and he knows that the time for conversation is over. He lets her hand drop. HELENA opens the drawer from her night table, pulls out a large envelope and throws it at him.


HELENA

Here. This is for you.


Before Agustin can say anything, HELENA exits into the bathroom and the shower goes on. Agustin opens the envelope and pulls out a couple of 8 x 10 black and white photographs. He studies the pictures, returns them to the envelope, and lays back staring at the ceiling, thinking. He runs his fingers through his hair trying to clear his mind. Then he sits over the side of the bed and begins to dress pulling clothes out of black duffel bag. He begins to dress: khaki field pants, jungle boots and olive-green cotton shirt. Helena enters as he is retrieving his pistol from under the pillow.


HELENA
(Drying her hair with a towel)

One of these days, that gun is going to fire and blow your head off.


AGUSTIN

Maybe so, but it won’t be my head.


HELENA moves to the cabinet to fix herself a drink.


HELENA

Want me to fix you something?


AGUSTIN
(Tying his bootlaces)

I’d love some coffee -but you don’t cook.


HELENA
(Private joke, half smile)

You remembered! -Good boy.


HELENA prepares two glasses and hands one to Agustin.


AGUSTIN

What is this?


HELENA

Lemon water.


AGUSTIN
(Waving the envelope)

No, this?


HELENA
(Tasting her drink)

I believe those are pictures of the place you guys are heading. I got them from the pilot who did the recon. Same guy who flew us back this morning.


AGUSTIN
(A look)

These are classified. He just… gave them to you?


HELENA
(Quiet laugh)

Darling, don’t be silly. He was trying to be friendly and told me about his work to impress me. I got curious and helped myself to these. He doesn’t know they are missing. And who knows, they might come in handy.


AGUSTIN

One of these days you’re going to go too far.


HELENA
(Shrugs dismissively)

What do you care?


AGUSTIN gives her a peeved look but decides to leave it at that. He then puts the envelope in his bag and continues to dress. Ignoring him for the moment, HELENA walks towards the double doors, leans against the wall and stares into the night. Her previous argument left her feeling depressed.


HELENA
(Feeling the cool breeze) 

I can’t sleep this time of night. It’s just like the night we met -stargazing. (without glancing back, she senses Agustin moving close to her, then) When you look up, what do you feel?


AGUSTIN
(Searching the void)

Loneliness. (reflects, then) -Makes me want to go home.


HELENA
(Look of comtempt)

Home. That’s the place I hate the most.


HELENA shivers as her mind recalls unpleasant experiences from her early life.


HELENA
(Sadness)

When I was a little girl, I used to spend a lot of time alone. My mother was very beautiful. More interested in her looks than in me. Every night I fantasised about her coming to my bedroom, reading me a story… telling me how much she loved me, -it never happened. Instead, I used to pray for a kidnapper! Someone who would come and take me away so they could miss me. But that didn’t happen either and I stopped believing in fairy tales.


AGUSTIN folds his arms around her in a soothing embrace. With him, she feels safe. They remain silent for a few beats, AGUSTIN gently caressing her cheek and HELENA leaning into his hand.


AGUSTIN

What about your father?


HELENA

Never home. Business and politics are his life. One day, he and my mother had a fight, the last of many. She left and I never saw her again. I was only ten. (then, with mounting bitterness) Papi got rid of everything that reminded him of my mother. As I grew up, I resembled her more and more, so he... (sigh, then moving away from his embrace) And here I am, telling you my life story. Not that it matters much; talking to you is like talking to a priest.


AGUSTIN
(A beat)

Elena, I… have to tell you something.


HELENA, sensing the hesitation in his voice, stiffens but remains silent. Is he going to tell her that he loves her?


HELENA

Yes?


AGUSTIN

Helena, (hesitation, then firm and decisive) I’m not coming back.


HELENA
(Disapointed)

Of course you will. You always do. You’ve done this a dozen times before.


AGUSTIN
(Turning her to face him)

No. That’s not what I mean. After this mission I’m quitting. -No more freelancing. I’m going home. -To stay.

HELENA , stunned and confused, swallows her drink and moves away.


HELENA
(Trying to keep her voice firm)

But why, Tino? Why now?


AGUSTIN

I’m tired. I’m tired of bluffing... I need to get away.


HELENA
(Feeling betrayed)

I don’t believe you! You need danger the way an addict needs a hit! That’s why you keep coming back!


AGUSTIN

I keep coming back because pretending to be someone else is something I do well!


HELENA
(Confronting him, anger)

And what do you pretend to do with your life? Go back to Cleveland, or New York, or where ever the fuck you came from and live happily ever after? Because if you think that you can return and pickup things where you left off, then you are an idiot! (silence, then pleading) Agustin, this isn’t pretend! I’m not pretend- You are making good money, you have friends that would die for you and we have each other. This is your life.


AGUSTIN
(Exasperation)

I hate this life!


HELENA

It’s a living.


AGUSTIN
(Grabbing her arm)

You call this living? There’s no life here -it’s all death; people dying all around us!


HELENA
(Breaking loose)

Is that what this is all about? (cold indifference) Well, it happens!


AGUSTIN
(Stunned)

It happens? Is that all you can say? (rising rage) Women, children, old people, simple people who don’t know shit about politics or wars are butchered by their own government and all you can say is, -it happens?


HELENA
(Snaps back)

What do you want me to say, -I’m sorry? Hey, I don’t like it any better than you do but we are not responsible for that. Why don’t you blame the rebels and the socialists for starting all this shit in the first place? We’re the good guys, remember?


AGUSTIN

Are we? I can’t even tell anymore, and I’m sick of doing things I don’t want to do. (he moves away in frustration. then, with pensive clarity) What is happening to these people is wrong, we know its wrong, and we’re part of the problem.


Agustin moves back to the bed and resumes arranging his kit into the duffel bag. Helena watches in silence trying to understand what just happened.


HELENA
(In a harsh whisper)

If you felt this way, why did you come here?


AGUSTIN
(Unsettled by the irony)

Somebody pushed me. Somebody set me off in this direction and a bunch of other hands have pulled my strings. For had I been in my right mind, I would not have picked this life for the world.


HELENA
(Contemptuous)

Welcome to reality. (then) We don’t make the rules, Tino. We just play the game as best we can...


AGUSTIN
(Firm)

Then I am out of the game! (turning to her, sensible ) Elena, I don’t know what I want to be. All I know is that I don’t like what I am. I don’t want to fight with you. I didn’t mean to hurt you. (offhand, softly) I don’t want to hurt anybody anymore.


HELENA stares at him for a moment as a feeling of foreboding pulls a tight knot in her stomach. Unnerved, she goes to the bar, pours herself a stiff drink and swallows.


HELENA
(Her back to him)

What about us?


AGUSTIN
(Moving closer)

If I were to ask you to leave with me, would you come?


HELENA
(Tightly controlled)

You haven’t asked.


AGUSTIN

You didn’t answer.


HELENA
(Almost a whisper, embittered)

You’ll never ask, will you?


AGUSTIN places his hands on her shoulders and leans close to her ear.


AGUSTIN

Will you come with me?


HELENA
(Turning to face him) 

No.


AGUSTIN’S lip part to say something but words fail him. Then, he let’s go and turns away to recover his bag from the bed.


HELENA
(Avoiding his eyes; hers glazed)

Will I see you before you go -or is this good-bye?


AGUSTIN
(He stops, lifeless)

No strings attached; no hard feelings.


As he leaves, AGUSTIN looks at her for the last time, then he turns around and exits. For while, HELENA remains frozen in place like a salt statue. Then slowly, her masked features begin to crumble as tears roll down her face and she begins to sob.






END OF ACT I - SCENE 6




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