Resguardo personal por Paloma Pedrero [Personal Claim Check: English translation]

You can find the original in Spanish here [although this translation is based on the version found in Aproximaciones: al estudio de la literatura hispánica, Sexta Ed. by Friedman, Valdivieso and Virgillo]. A list of other works by Paloma Pedrero can be found here.

Resguardo Personal por Paloma Pedrero; Personal Claim Check by Paloma Pedrero

Dramatis personae: Marta, the wife; Gonzalo, the husband

Dining room of a modest house or apartment. The furniture are typical of a rental apartment: unpolished, impersonal and cheap. There is very little decoration. In the living area there are signs of a recent move. Turning on the light, we see Marta. She is dressed and made up, although in her face there are marks of weariness. She opens her handbag and finds a piece of paper that she places on top of the counter the telephone rests on. She was going to dial but regrets it and hangs up. She sits on the sofa next to a cardboard box from which clothes that she has gently placed there are peeking out.

The doorbell rings. Marta gets up, puts on her coat and heads to open it.

Gonzalo appears in the entryway of the door.

Marta: (without letting him enter) What do you want?

Gonzalo: What about what I want? Let me in.

Marta: For what?

Gonzalo: We need to talk.

Marta: I can’t talk right now. I’m in a hurry. I was going to leave right at this moment.

(Gonzalo pushes the door and introduces himself into the house.)

G: I believe that you owe me an explanation.

M: Another one? I have no other.

G: Where is Nunca*? (The Spanish word for “never” and also the name of their puppy)

M: You should know. She is at your house. Maybe she is tired of being there and left to enjoy the sun.

G: She has disappeared. You are the only one who has the keys to the flat and you knew that I would be away for two days. You took her, didn’t you?

M: (looks around) Call her. If she is willing to see you.

G: (opens the doors of the rooms) Nunca! (he whistles) Nunca! Nunca, it’s me…!

M: You see, she is not here.

G: Where is the dog? Don’t make me angry, Marta. I only want you to give me an explanation. You have taken her away.

M: Will you report me, then? I would advise you against it. You are going to make a frightful spectacle of yourself. (she laughs) I can already see it: offended husband reports wife for the kidnapping of a dear puppy. (she laughs heartily) How funny, no?

G: Do not begin to make me anxious. I was trying to be reasonable. I beg you not to make me lose control.

M: Scream, scream. It is very healthy. I know that you need to.

G: (raising his voice) Do not talk to me in that tone! You are trying to make happen that which I was trying to avoid! Where is the dog?

M: Speak softer, please. You do not find me well at all. I have not left the house for two days. I am still a little…

G: What happened to you?

M: Fever. I was at about 40 degrees.

G: Have you seen a doctor?

M: I have had some terrible delusions. The night before last I woke screaming; I dreamed that you had turned into a red spider…

G: (worried) When did you have the first symptoms? Pain? Inflammation? Have you taken medicine to lower your fever? Do you want me to examine you?

M: Don’t worry, I’m already well. I have taken antibiotics and I no longer have a fever. By the way, Gonzalo, can you hear if you have been anesthetized by the doctor before an operation?

G: What does it matter if you can hear or not? Well, if it is anesthesia of the surgical kind, evidently, no.

M: And if it is the surface-type/superficial kind? If it is superficial, can you hear what is happening around you?

G: Well…yes, but, why are you asking me this?

M: No, it was just an image. When I was delirious with fever, I felt like I was anesthetized. (A little pause) But I could hear everything.

G: You seem tired. You should not be alone.

M: What time does your train arrive? I was waiting for you before, but you were delayed for 10 minutes. You arrived at Chamartin at 6:30, no?

G: Why do you know that?

M: I was waiting for you.

G: You knew that I was going to come for the puppy, clearly. You acknowledge that you had taken her.

M: I retrieved her. I opened the door and she came running to me. “Ah, no” , I told her, and I explained the situation clearly to her. Then, she decided of her own will that she would prefer to live with me. I assure you that I did not coerce her.

G: You disconcert me, Marta. I don’t know if you have developed a new sense of humour or if it’s that you’re staying with me.

M:  (with sarcasm) No, I have no interest in staying with you. I’m in a hurry.

G: Listen to me. Let’s talk like civilized people. We are fucking life up too much with one another. There is no sense to this.

M: (Shows him a poster) What do you think of this poster on that wall? It is all so ugly…

G: I came to speak to you!

M: Will you give me the piano? The piano was my father’s, he gave it to me.

G: Shut up! I want…I’m fucked, Marta. Do you not realize that?

M: (She looks at him fixedly) I already know. You cannot stand to feel abandoned. It makes you sick. Well you should calm down, because it is a lie; you left me first, and then I…left.

G: I have never left you. That is not true.

M: No, clearly, you just work so much…Well, it is better now. At least you don’t talk to me about systoles and diastoles.

G: I don’t understand you.

M: I don’t pretend that I understand at this point. I am a little…paranoid, but no fool.

G: I always have you in mind.

M: You always have me at home. I have a neighbour who said that the best thing about being married is that one does not have to worry about what is happening with the girlfriend.

G: Why did you not say anything to me?

M: It has not been serious. You already know that my fevers are psychosomatic.

G: Why did you not tell me that you were cheating on me?

M: What a most unfortunate expression! Do you know where it comes from? I have never found out its meaning.

G: If at least you could roll around with that asshole more discreetly, but no, you had to bring him to the house, so that the porter could see you.

M: We never did it in our bed.

G: That’s the least you could do! I have already told you the one thing I cannot stand…I feel betrayed!

M: Gonzalito, leave it. What do you want? You’re boring me very much. We do not understand each other. People can’t always communicate with everyone else, it’s normal. It’s a question of wavelength…yours and mine crash and plaf! chaos, chaos, chaos…

G: Are you still seeing him?

M: No. I’m trying to find peace.

G: You already knew that he was a son of a bitch. I’m happy that, at least, you have realized that.

M: We were talking about chaos.

G: So, you’re still seeing him.

M: Whatever.

G: You know that it doesn’t matter to me.

M: I’m not with anyone. I already told you that I need to be alone.

G: Until when?

M: Until I can forget and return to believe in impossible things.

G: I need you to return to the house. This is absurd.

M: It is totally absurd. It has cost me much to make this decision but already this is how it is, I have already made it.

G: You need to return. I am not accustomed to being alone.

M: It is an issue of learning.

G: Marta, I love you. I swear that I love you.

M: I already know that. You taught me something else that I did not know…

G: Return to the house. we can fix things…

M: You taught me the odd thing about love: its destruction.

G: I want to continue living with you. I believe that all is not lost…

M: It may be that the destruction is part of love…

G: Look, Marta, I have been thinking much about us, I know that I am a fucked up guy but…I will make an effort to save our relationship.

M: Yes, you are very fucked up and deaf enough.

G: You have to understand me. You know that I have many responsibilities. I am fighting so that they can give me the position of Chief of the service. I will have 30 beds in my charge. I will pass 10 hours everyday in the operating room…

M: No! Always the same, no, please. I dream of deformed people, with extra appendages, transfusions, echocardiograms, tic-tac, tic-tac, tic-tac, hearts that never stop.

G: I do it for us, for our children. I want to earn money so that we can live well…

M: That is interesting. Luck! We are wrong; I need other things and you, another wife.

G: Don’t make me lose my patience. I have decided that I would forgive you…that I understand you. I know that you are a little…unstable and I know also that I, in part, am responsible. Let’s help ourselves. If you do not lend me a hand, I will not obtain that position.

M: I don’t give a shit! God, all your life, with the same old story!

G: You don’t want to listen to me!

M: No.

G: You are not interested in speaking to me, no?

M: Yes.

G: Yes?

M: Yes that no, no I have no interest.

G: You will return home?

M: No.

G: I warn you that I will not ask you anymore.

M: I thank you. I’m in a hurry.

G: This is your last opportunity.

M: I don’t want it.

G: It’s incredible the resentment that you have. You are sick.

M: Yes, you give me palpitations.

G: I do not consent you to speak to me like this!

M: I have to leave.

G: To?

M: Go, Gonzalo. Get out of my house. I have not invited you in.

G: Okay, you asked for it. I came here for something…

M: For something that is not here. (looks at her watch) My God, it’s 11 minutes to 8! (She heads towards the door. Gonzalo puts himself in front of her and does not let her leave)

 G: You don’t get to leave until you tell me where the dog is.

M: Get out of here. I have something very urgent to do.

G: Return to me that which you have robbed.

M: She is mine! I have raised her, looked after her when she was sick…

G: That’s bullshit. I took her out to pee…

M: Lie! I fed her, I did everything…

G: Who paid for her?

M: You do not buy anything, you imbecile. Nothing that is alive. And get out of here!

G: Where is the dog?

M: (after a pause) Do you want to know where she is? Do you want me to tell you? In the municipal dog pound.

G: What did you put her in the dog pound for?

M: From your house to the pound directly. What did you think? That I would stay there waiting for you?

G: You bitch…!

M: And no, don’t bother to go look for her because they won’t give her to you. I have a paper that says that I am the owner and only I can use this claim to get her back.

G: Give me that paper now!

M: You have taken everything from me but the dog you will never see again! (Marta tries to leave again. Gonzalo blocks her)

M: Let me go! I have to leave!

G: The paper…!

M: This afternoon is the last time to pick her up. The pound closes at 8. That leaves me with 8 minutes. (hysterical) 8 minutes!

G: So?

M: They gave me 72 hours. If I don’t come now and they close, they will euthanize her tonight.

G: That is a lie!

M: I swear by God! (crying) I have been sick and alone. I have not been able to leave the house before…when you arrived I was going to leave to find her. Please, I beg you, let me go. There isn’t much time left!

G: No. (Marta throws herself at him and punches him)

M: You son of a bitch! You are an…! They are going to kill her and it’s all your fault!

G: All your fault. It was you who took her to the executioner.

M: (supplicating) There is still time left. The pound is right around the corner…There are 4 minutes left…

G: No.

M: (She hands him the claim check) Take it, go. Run, I will tell you where…

G: No.

M: What? You will not go?

G: One must pay for the whims of insanity. (Reads the paper and looks at his watch)  She’s dead, there is no longer time.

M: You are. I see it so well, so clearly…I feel a certain happiness that I had not been wrong. You are despicable. You are a red spider; you have eaten my roots, my leaves…,you have killed my dog…

G: You have killed her. You are crazy, Marta. And only for pride…

M: Only for hate.

G: You are more serious than I thought.

M: May you feel much satisfaction from your work, doctor.

G: Eight o’clock.

M: Goodbye.

G: One moment, I have to confirm it. (he heads towards the telephone)

M: What are you going to do?

G: Call the pound.

M: (points to the claim) The number is there.

Gonzalo dials the number. Waits, and hangs up.

G: They have closed. (satisfied) Your puppy is already…(makes a gesture of injection and rips the paper into pieces. Marta collapses) Goodbye. (he leaves)

(Marta looks towards the door. After some agonizing seconds, she began to laugh in earnest. She runs towards a packing box, opens it and out comes Nunca, stretching.)

M: (surprised). You are already awake? You poor thing…Very well, you have behaved stupendously. (She gives her something to eat) Did you hear everything, Nunca? I needed you to hear everything, so that you know what kind of person your father is. Well, already you are going to need to move on…It has only been a little dream. (Pulls out a syringe from the box) The fault is Gonzalo’s; this was his. (she throws it away with contempt) Have you see how well everything has been working today? I knew him so well..You know, I myself believed it was the truth; I almost died. But it’s already over, he will not return to bother us…at least not you. Let’s go for a walk? Hale

(Nunca wags her tail contentedly. Marta takes the leash. They go out.)




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