Teti-à-Tête (With Tony) #13

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Tati as TATI

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Tony as TONY

 

ACT 99 SCENE 5
TWO AND TWO MAKE FOUR

 

TONY: 23,770… 23,771… 23,772… and… 23,773! Whew!

Tony wipes the sweat from his brow. He’s sitting cross-legged on the lounge room floor, peering intently at a laptop screen. He seems to be quite chuffed about something.

Tati comes into the room chewing bubble gum. She notices Tony at his laptop, and approaches with no small amount of curiosity. She leans over his shoulder, popping a whopping big bubble right next to his ear.

TONY: Jumping Jehoshaphat! Tati, what the hell?!

TATI: Well, pardon me! I thought you had your hearing aid turned off.

TONY: Why would I do that? I need to hear when you’re creeping up on me!

TATI: It looks like it isn’t coping with that task, otherwise you wouldn’t have jumped out of your pants!

TONY: Ha bloody ha. How very droll.

TATI: Anyway, what are you counting? Or do you just enjoy the fact that you can count?

TONY: I didn’t graduate kindergarten only yesterday! Give me some credit.

He indicates the laptop screen.

TONY: I’ve been counting our blog comments.

TATI: Really? And the point of this is…?

TONY: It’s nice to see how far we’ve come. I remember the days when we were hardly getting any comments at all. Don’t you?

TATI: I do, but what’s the point of counting them?

TONY: It reminds me to be grateful for all the attention we’ve been getting.

TATI: I get it, Tony. I’m not dense! But still I ask, what’s the point?

TONY: Well, these high numbers are getting me kinda giddy with excitement. I think I wanna go set off firecrackers in some letterboxes now… you know, to celebrate.

Tony offers a self-conscious smile.

Tati pushes past Tony and grabs the laptop. She starts to poke her finger around the touchscreen.

TONY: Hey! You’re getting your greasy mitts all over my lovely, pristine laptop!

TATI: What?! They’re as clean a newborn’s ass!

Tati licks her hand and shoves it under Tony’s nose—palm up—as proof of her claim.

TATI: See?

Tony wrinkles his nose in disgust, visibly squirming where he sits.

TONY: Erm, okay.

Tati lets rip a snort of victory, and continues to fidget her finger over the touchscreen.

TONY: Okay, seriously, what are you doing?

Tati opens the admin panel on their site, and pokes at the section ‘Comments’.

TATI: Got it?

TONY: Nope. I’m not at all convinced that I’ve ‘got it’.

Tati rolls her eyes.

TATI: Look!

She jabs at a particular point on the screen.

TATI: There’s the exact number of comments in parentheses!

TONY: I can see that! It’s at 23,781 now!

TATI: Well… 23,784 actually… but I’m trying to figure out why you’re counting them manually? Are you some kind of pervert? Do you have a number fetish?

Tony’s face turns redder than a stop sign on Mars.

TONY: Erm… no. I just didn’t see the little number in brackets…

Tati looks genuinely shocked.

TATI: Really?!

Suddenly realising the magnitude of his mistake, Tony looks at her with heartbreakingly wretched hangdog eyes. He says in a tiny squeak…

TONY: I know. I’m not a man.

TATI: And how long have you been counting for?

Tony’s voice is now a pathetic whisper.

TONY: Three hours…

Tati suddenly remembers that there’s bubble gum in her mouth. She resumes her chewing, her face taking on a musing look.

TONY: Why are you looking at me like that?

His voice has risen above a whisper again. Tati pops another bubble.

TATI: Honestly? I’m torn between contempt and respect.

TONY: Okay, just gonna go hide in a cupboard now…

TATI: No no no! You really are a lovely idiot, Tony. You’ve valiantly spent three hours on this fruitless task.

Tati ruffles his hair.

TATI: Let’s finish it together, yes? After all, we have a lot of readers to be thankful for.

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Dear Readers,

We at Unbolt Me have a special message for you.

WE LOVE YOU!

Seriously, we could not have lasted these five years without your unflagging support. The fact that you keep coming back to read our silly little offerings means more than we can adequately say. In fact, we’re not particularly adept at conveying gratitude at all, and now neither of us is able to think of an elegant way to conclude this thank you message.

So… let’s just stop there, shall we?

(At this point, Tati is whispering to Tony in a menacing tone. She hopes he hasn’t actually been counting followers too. Tony’s tapping his hearing aid, pretending that it doesn’t work.)

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2019

Privilegee (based on a true story)

I jumped into a marshrutka and climbed onto my favorite corner seat in the back row. It’s a bit higher than the other seats and you feel like you’re sitting on the upper circle at the theater. You can see and hear everything without attracting a lot of attention. Today, though, I wasn’t about to watch passengers.

I untangled the headphones that always managed to tie themselves into mysterious reef knots. It never mattered how carefully you packed them before. Then I found the next MP3 file on my phone and delved into an audio book in English. It required a hell of a lot of effort to recognize formerly familiar words now disguised in quirky pronunciations. I don’t know who invented the rules of English but this person definitely must have had an upset stomach. I had no another logical explanation as to why they mocked the human race so cruelly.

While still in a state of shock over how the word ‘cautiously’ sounded in actual fact, I hadn’t noticed that the marshrutka had not moved in a while. And I eventually realized that the leaflet advertising lessons promising guitar playing virtuosity in record time had been hovering near my nose for a suspiciously long time. I turned my head from the window that the leaflet was stuck to and looked towards the passenger compartment. Something was happening near the driver and it wasn’t a pleasant scene, that’s for sure.

An old man was standing there, waving a pensioner’s card in front of the driver’s nose. He was insisting on a free ride but the driver would not comply. There were only two priority seats, and unfortunately both were occupied. The driver suggested that the old man get off the bus and wait for the next one. This suggestion obviously wasn’t to the old man’s taste.

The old man looked highly strung, while in contrast the driver was the very image of calm. The old man threatened to write complaints to all known authorities, from the boss of the driver to the president of Ukraine. The driver, wordless, offered him a pen.

And the bus still didn’t move. Passions were rising.

The passengers quickly divided themselves into sides. The first side eagerly supported the old man, cursing the driver and government for being so heartless and humiliating poor, defenseless pensioners. The other side wisely reasoned that the bus wasn’t made of rubber and that the driver was duty bound to fulfill the daily revenue target. There was no place on Earth where a retired person could be late on a Saturday morning.

I sat on my VIP loge in the back row of this bus theater. I was not enjoying this stage play at all. The perfect voice with posh English pronunciation was still whispering something in my ear but I was no longer listening to it. The ugly La Comédie humaine had grabbed all of my attention.

The crowd started to demand that the bus continue on its route. Someone yelled at the driver while someone else threatened to help the old man to leave the bus if he couldn’t do this on his own… and suddenly I felt unbearable shame for everything that was happening here. No. I refused to be a part of this crappy play!

I left my seat and approached the driver, holding forth a five-hryvnia note. He took it without a word, tossed it into the money box, and shut the door. The bus moved ahead.

I was back at my seat. No one said a word. The other passengers went back to their private affairs. Someone poked a nose into their phone. Someone looked out the window. Someone else continued their conversation. I tried to concentrate on my audio book again.

“Stop here!”

The bus stopped at literally two hundred meters. The old man disembarked. Only he. No one else. And when he was passing me, our eyes met. I was ready to see any emotion in his stare… gratitude, embarrassment, surprise. But hatred? What the fuck?!

A bit later, I understood the reason. At the time, however, I was dumbfounded at the unpredictability of human nature and just went back to the book. Moominmamma had called everyone to the dinner and I didn’t want to be late.

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA
© All rights reserved 2017