The Man Who Came With The Snow
1- Railway – night:
A snowy night. A tall, haggard, raggedy man with a hat over his head and a backpack on one shoulder comes along on the railway. He looks at the houses around the railway with curiosity. He even stops at one point and looks at a shanty house on which snow is falling.
2- Café, same time:
A dim café. Men on the bar drinking beer. Women squirming among customers and smoke cigarettes. What’s visible is the sometimes faces of a man and a woman that light up with a match. Two children, one a 4-year old boy and the other a 5-year old girl have threaded low grade pistachios on a string like a rosary. Their eyes in this smoky atmosphere resemble two wolf cobs waiting to prey on those renewing their beer.
4 year old boy: We didn’t sell to that guy.
5 year old girl: He’s a vodka drinker, doesn’t want any pistachios.
4 year old boy: We didn’t sell to that other one either.
5 year old girl: Never mind he’s insane.
Next to where the insane man is sitting there is another man with his head bent over his chest. Though sitting on a chair, it seems that in the absence of his cane he would fall to the ground. The crazy man who’s more of a Mongol than insane is wearing a black suit and red tie.
Crazy man: I love this woman and want to marry her.
The man with bent head calls the waiter by hand motion. The waiter, a fat woman with make up and masculine manners arrives with a tray full of beer in glasses.
Bent head: Have merci on him. He has fifteen rubles. He’s here to become a groom tonight. Give me a beer too.
Waiter hands a glass of beer and grabs crazy man’s hand to take him to dance.
Crazy man: Don’t worry about money. I have 15 rubles. We’ll buy a house and live together.
3 – Railway, outside café, night:
Railway winds through a narrow alley and stretches on. Man comes on railway under snow. A moment later he arrives in front of a shanty building. Sound of music is heard from inside. The building is a shack though it seems to have once prospered.
4 – Café, same time:
Waiter dances with crazy man and meanwhile she robs his pocket with two fingers and hides the stolen money in her palm and winks at the two children who saw her, not to tell.
5 – In front of café and stairway, continued:
Music is still heard and man enters the café. He goes down the rickety stairway to the basement. Sound of music becomes louder and louder.
6 – Café, continued:
4 year old boy: Let’s go home. I’m sleepy.
5 year old girl: Wait, a new customer just walked in. Follow me.
And she grabs a small stool hidden in a corner and walks through tables of drunken men and women with made up faces and reaches the newcomer who can’t find a place to sit.
5 year old girl: Did you want this? (Man looks) We know our customers. Please sit down. (She puts the stools down for the man to sit. To the 4 year old boy:) Go bring a table for the gentleman.
The 4 year old boy rushes to bring a table. Man is tired. He throws his backpack by his feet and to avoid anyone from stealing it he puts his foot on the back pack.
5 year old girl: Should I tell you what you want now? (Man looks at her. He is touched by her innocence) You want a beer with pistachios. Buy the beer from the bar and the pistachios from me. (man shows no reaction) Don’t you want pistachios?!...Are you a vodka drinker?!... What would you like? Man gazes in the distance and nothing can be read from his eyes. The 4 year old boy is carrying a taller stool over his head as a table and brings it and yawns out of being so sleepy. The 5 year old helps and pulls the stools to put in front of the man. Then she holds the pistachios before the man. Some rows of pistachios on strings. Now man and both children look at each other through the circle of stringed pistachios.
4 year old boy: Buy some pistachios to snack with your beer. Only half a ruble.
The woman waiter who had robbed the crazy man’s pocket comes forward with a tray of beer and holds the money that she had teasingly stolen from the crazy man in front of crazy man’s face.
Waiter: Instead of becoming a groom you better learn how to watch your pocket. And she hands the money to the crazy man.
Crazy man: Hey girl, with this money…with this money…I…I…will buy flowers…flowers. I …will buy you perfume…perfume for you. (he always stammers in speech.)
Waiter comes forward and brings her face closer to the man and whispers something in his ear. Man puts his hand in his pocket and brings out matches and lights up her cigarette. Woman stares at him for a few seconds and then she blows out her cigarette smoke. Children look at the man and by moving their heads left and right make a hint to him not to trust the woman. Woman turns around and catches the children.
Waiter: Go don’t disturb our customer here.
Woman leaves and man looks at the children. The 5 year old girl brings her head forward.
5 year old girl: This woman is sick. Whoever went with her died.
Man stares at them.
4 year old boy: Don’t you want pistachios? Only half a ruble.
Man buys a string of pistachios and plays with it like rosary. He motions by hand to a woman distributing beer to bring him one. He takes a gulp and drops a pistachio in his mouth.
5 year old girl: Not like that. The pistachio will crush. Let me take out the pistachios from the string for you.
She takes the string of pistachios from the man. The waiter shows up again. She is carrying empty beer glasses on the tray. She hands a full glass to man.
Waiter: Are you a traveler? (man thinks for a moment. Then drinks his beer) Give me your hand let me read your palm. (Children watch in worry and hold on to their pistachios ready to sell) You are a traveler. You used to live in this town once! (She keeps staring at lines on his palm.) You went to Moscow to work! Now you have returned after some years! (she looks at man) Right? (she looks at his palm again) Were you in jail in Moscow? One year…two years…three years…right? (man looks at woman’s eyes) No, not on charge of smuggling. You had a fight for example. They killed your friend and suddenly you ended up in jail! Right?! One year…two years…three years…well, be who you are but welcome back. (she kisses him on the corner of his lip. Then she slowly sucks the corner of his lips with hers and draws a line on his face with the tip of her tongue. Then she points to a room in a corner.) There’s our empty room. Follow me.
Man looks. A woman comes out with a man. They fix their clothes. They seem to have come out of a lovemaking session. The woman waiter goes in front of the door and waits for the man. Man just looks and woman waves her hand to take him to the room with her. The crazy man gets up and walks towards the woman. The children who were cracking pistachios nod their heads left and right in negation.
4 year old boy: Don’t trust her.
5 year old girl: She is ugly!
Crazy man: (comes to the front of the room and holds out a ruble) Take this ruble and buy yourself flowers. Buy a house. Become my wife. I love you. I will take your clothes off. We’ll both get naked. I’ll kiss you here and there. Then I’ll grab your tits.
Waiter: Will you grab me anywhere else?!
Crazy man: No. my hand will get dirty. Come let’s dance.
Waiter: Dance alone until I join you.
Crazy man leaves and dances by himself pretending to hold a woman in his arms. Man drinks up his beer. The man with bent head who looks as if he has a deformed body leans on to his cane. He turns his head a little to say something to the man.
Bent head: Don’t trust these kids. Some time ago two children their age took a tourist to give him lodging. But they attacked him in the dark and robbed him of everything he had and ran away. The poor guy stayed in the café with a wounded body for a few days. We’ve seen a lot here.!!
Man looks at his backpack and holds his foot tighter on it.
5 year old girl: Here every one is afraid of one another. We are afraid of you too. (man looks) We’re afraid that you’ll leave without paying for the pistachios.
4 year old boy: We’re afraid that you may beat us.
Man keeps silent and drinks his beer.
5 year old girl: Another man also ate our pistachios and when he got drunk he handed one ruble for me and then he kicked my brother in the back and said: “Here’s a half a ruble for you too.”
4 year old boy: Let me tell you want you want now; pistachios.
Bent head: You want a cozy snugly blanket! You haven’t had a good night’s rest for a long time. You want to sleep all the way till morning right?
5 year old girl: Alone?! (he brings his head closer) Come to our house. (he covers his mouth with his hand so nobody can hear.) Our mother is not sick. Only 2 rubles!
4 year old boy: (his eyes sparkle with naughtiness. He holds his hand in front of his mouth and whispers in the man’s other ear) She is so beautiful.
Man is stunned. As if he can not believe what he has heard. He looks around to see whether anyone else has heard what he has. Man with bent head is busy drinking his beer but keeps his attention focused on the man and the children.
5 year old girl: (brings her head closer) Only two rubles.
Bent head: Hey, where’s your father?
5 year old girl: He is dead.
4 year old boy: No he’s not dead.
5 year old girl: He’s dead.
4 year old boy: No he isn’t. (and cries)
Bent head: Then who supports you?
4 year old boy: I do. I sell pistachios. (puts his hands in pockets and brings out the change he made by selling pistachios and shows to the man) Whatever I make I’ll spend half on buying more pistachios and I buy food with the other half.
5 year old girl: We pay for food and our mom pays the rent. (in man’s ear) We’ll go home now and you follow us.
Both kids leave and pass through the crowded smoky café. Man is still holding part of the stringed pistachios. He throws his backpack on the shoulder and puts his brimmed hat on ready to leave.
The café owner, a woman who had so far prepared the beers from behind the bar sees him.
Café owner: He drank three beers and he’s leaving without paying.
Waiter: These two kids take away our customers every night.
Café owner: Once he gets to the door catch him and make him pay.
They are both looking at the man and have forgotten about the café. Man is standing. He is skeptical to go or not. The children who are waiting at the door signal for him to come.
Bent head: Go ahead don’t worry. If you get hurt we’re here.
The children go ahead. At this moment a young girl holding an infant enters. Man gets shocked upon seeing her. The young girl goes to the empty room at the end of the café. The crazy man who’s dancing alone becomes stunned upon seeing her and stops dancing. He then follows her and pulls the room curtain to the side.
Crazy man: Don’t worry about money. Here’s 15 rubles. I’ll buy you flowers. I’ll buy you a house. I love you. I’ll take your clothes off. We’ll both get naked. I’ll grab your breast and suck milk off it. These cruel men will suck both your breasts. I’ll only suck on one and will leave the other for your baby.
The woman waiter comes and grabs his hand and drags him away and makes him sit by the man with bent head.
Waiter: Make him sit or take him away. He’s messing up the café.
Bent head: Sit down.
Crazy man: (he becomes polite and fixes his tie) Ok, ok.
Bent head: You have to contain yourself when it comes to love. If you rush it everything will be ruined. Love has to come on its own. We rushed it in our love for socialism. Back then we were the Soviet Union. We attacked Afghanistan and we messed everything up even worse. See how I became sick. Because I was so terrified in Afghanistan.
Again, both kids have returned and want to come to the man. The café owner goes forward.
Café owner: You guys walk in without pay and take away our customers too.
5 year old girl: We’ve come to get our pistachio money from that gentleman.
Café owner: You had promised to help me wash the dishes. You too had promised to baby-sit. But you guys only take away our customers.
The children shy away and bend their heads down. Café owner leaves. The 5 year old girl whispers something in the 4 year old boy’s ear and then they both leave in different directions. The 5 year old girl goes to the kitchen and starts to wash the dishes and beer glasses and the little boy goes to the room at the end of the café. At the same time a man enters and walks to the young woman with the baby. The woman gives the baby to the 4 year old boy.
Café owner is pouring beer in glasses for the customers. Waiter changes the gramophone music record.
Waiter: This man is like stone. He won’t talk.
Café owner: I’ll make him talk.
She pour two glasses of beer and walks towards the man. She pulls a stool and sits on it.
Café owner: You are my guest for this glass of beer. (man looks and says nothing) My name is Natasha. What’s your name? (man looks at the room at the end of the café) I have seen you before! In the Soviet Union times when this place was the artists club. Did you know my husband?
Man drinks up his beer and keeps looking at the room at the end of
the corridor. The man who had gone into the room comes out and a
feminine hand takes the infant back from the 4 year old boy.
Café owner: My husband was the manager here. Back then the club was public. After the disintegration of the Soviet Union my husband was killed in civil war. Then I was forced to manage here to support myself and stuff. Do you remember back then?
Man’s silence is much deeper than assumed.
Café owner: You must recognize me. I was famous back then. I was an actress. I used to work with Bandarchuk. But I was forced to run a café. I too collapsed with the Soviet Union. When I saw you I thought I knew you. You are either a local or we used to work in the same place. Won’t you say what you’re after? (drinks beer) Your silence scares me. It reminds me of the man who had come to kill his wife with a knife. It was his own fault. He had left his wife for some years and the poor woman was so miserable that she had to work here.
Then she turns around and follows the direction of the man’s eyes. Man is looking at the room in the corridor end where a man enters the room and a feminine hand gives the baby to the 4 year old boy.
Café owner: Many come here because of her. For this café she plays the role of…the role of…(doesn’t complete her sentence) If you have no place I have a room up there. If you are also afraid of getting disease go with her. (she points to her chest) With her you are only allowed from here up.
Right this moment the two children stand next to the man with their pistachios and move their heads in negation.
Café owner: (to 5 tear old girl) Did you wash the dishes?
Girls nods to affirm. Café owner leaves.
Behind the bar the waiter fills up beer glasses. Café owner arrives.
Café owner: This man is harder than stone but he is focused on that room. He also closely watches his backpack. He either has money in it or has hidden a weapon. If he intends to go to the girl don’t let him take his backpack.
Suddenly a voice is heard. Both turn their heads. Crazy man has kneeled down in front of the room door and loudly utters love words and cries. The 4 year old boy is holding the infant looking at him.
Crazy man: You have a child and I have the money. We love each other too. What else do you want for happiness?
Café owner: Poor guy! Why doesn’t she let him in?
Waiter: She’s afraid of him.
Café owner: Why don’t you go with him yourself? He’s so pitiful.
Waiter ponders. She takes the beer and at first gulp by gulp and then drinks it all up. As if she wants to prepare herself for a job. She goes out of frame. Inside the café man is again in front of the children.
5 year old girl: Are you mute?
Man: (laughs) What should I say?
Both children look happy by his talking.
4 year old boy: Won’t you pay us for the pistachios?
Man searches his pocket and takes money out and pays them.
5 year old girl: If you come to our house we’ll give you a discount on the pistachios.
Café owner: (claps her hands from behind the bar so the kids can hear) It’s late, go home.
The café lights are turned off and customers realize it’s time to pay the bills and leave.
5 year old girl: We’ll wait for you by the door.
And they leave. The waiter grabs crazy man’s hand that’s still crying and brings him behind the bar. Crazy man becomes quiet by seeing the picture on the wall. It is a picture of some women naked from waist up holding infants in their arms.
Waiter: Come, these are my colleagues. See which one you like. Stop crying so much. (he’s still crying) Then he starts to talk to the women in the picture and gradually he forgets that they are not real and only images. Among the women in the picture there’s one who has bent her head. Crazy man picks her.
Crazy man: I have a capital of 15 rubles. I’ll buy you everything. I’ll buy you flowers and perfumes.
Man also gets up and with his backpack on his shoulder walks to the bar to pay for the beers. He takes money out of his pocket but he becomes tempted to drink another beer.
The café owner sees crazy man who is uttering romantic words to the women in the picture. She turns and stands by the bar.
Café owner: I have seen this man before. His coming took me to the past. To when my husband was alive. To when I acted in theatre. Won’t you laugh at me if I do something? (waiter looks. She doesn’t know what is supposed to happen) I want to act. She goes in front of the mirror and puts lipstick on her lips and uses eyeliner on her eyes and eyebrows. She fixes her hair and walks to crazy man and looks at him. Café owner brings herself closer to him. Crazy man looks at her in wonder. Café owner laughs. He suddenly falls in love with café owner.
Crazy man: I love you.
Café owner: I love you too dear.
Crazy man: Will you be my wife?
Café owner: Will you marry me?
Crazy man: I have 15 rubles. Don’t worry we’ll be happy.
Café owner: Do you want to dance?
Crazy man: I will give you flowers.
Café owner puts a music record on the gramophone, grabs his hand and embarks on a romantic dance. Upon seeing their dance man with bent head gets up and as if finished with a mission canes his way out of the café. The two children who have hid themselves against the wall under the staircase witness crazy man and café owner’s dance.
Crazy man: Why do you love me?
Café owner: Because you are pretty.
Crazy man looks at her adoringly and laughs and kisses her. The two children move their heads in negation.
Sound of a blow to the café window is heard. Café owner dancingly reaches the window. Crazy man is in her arms. Two women are behind the café window.
Café owner: We’re closed.
Woman: I didn’t work tonight.
Cafe owner: Everyone’s gone. The last customer is leaving too.
Crazy man: If I didn’t get married I’d marry you. (then he looks at the café owner who’s giving him a dirty look.) Well, the poor woman wants it.
Café owner: Just one of you then.
A moment later one of the two women comes in and sees the man standing at the bar. She also sits on a stool by the bar and brings out a broken mirror from her purse and looks at herself in it.
Woman: Once I used to broom the city with my hair. (man pays no attention) I have a kid. My husband went o Moscow to return but he never did. I have no news of him any more. I don’t know if he’s alive or not. I had a baby when he left and was pregnant with one. (she goes behind the bar and sits across from the man) Now I have a 4 year old and a 5 year old. I was forced to…(but she doesn’t finish her sentence)
Crazy man has fallen asleep in café owner’s arms. Café owner puts him down on some chairs by the heater.
Woman: (to man) I don’t like being a prostitute. I only do it once a month. Whenever I run out of money. Last time whatever I made I spent on my child’s doctor.(she drinks beer and light up a cigarette) You look familiar. Are you from around here? (she stares at him for a while and so does man at her) No?...Haven’t I seen you before?...Didn’t we sleep together before?...Yes we have slept together…once…twice…three times…Haven’t we slept together?!
They stare at each other’s eyes. Man turns around at once and sees the two children besides him while they move their heads in negation. Man bends and brings his mouth close to the children’s ears.
Man: Is she sick too.
Children nod positively.
5 year old girl: (brings her mouth to his ear) Whoever went with her died.
4 year old boy: (brings pistachios out) Will you buy pistachios?
Waiter who was so far cleaning the café and moving the chairs turns the bar light off. Woman gets up and leaves in disappointment. The two children leave and peak from behind the wall.
Waiter: You saw all of them. Only one is left. I want to close the café door. Just don’t forget she’s only from this point up.
Man idly waits. He neither goes or stays. Waiter grabs his hand and pulls him towards the room. The two kids move their heads in negation. Man is standing in front of the door. Waiter walks away a little. Then she returns and puts her hand in man’s pocket and brings out some money.
Waiter: Hold this in your hand and go in.
She in fact pushes him into the room and closes the door. Then she comes to the backpack and opens it. Now there’s no one in the café except crazy man who’s asleep and snoring and the café owner who has fallen asleep by the heater. In the backpack there are a couple of old clothes and an old leather bag. In the bag there’s an old picture of a pregnant woman holding a baby in her arm.
Room of the woman with baby, same moment:
Man is sitting on the chair. Girl is standing with her back to him breastfeeding her baby.
Woman: Excuse me let me feed my baby so she won’t cry.
Then she places her baby on a piece of cloth spread in a corner and pulls the cover over the baby. She stands across from man. Both look at each other. Man with money in hand. Woman closes her eyes. And turns her head towards the wall. And brings out her breast. Man looks and becomes provoked. Woman comes forward. Ready to surrender her breasts to man. Man sits motionless. Suddenly, baby cry is heard. Woman’s face is towards the wall. Baby cries. Woman hugs baby and feeds her with her back to man. Man gets up and puts the money on the chair and leaves.
Heavy snow falls. The two kids go. And man follows them. Both the children and man are fearful of every tree shadow. The two children although walk ahead of man but they constantly stop and wait for him to catch up. Man pulls his coat collar up. Sound of a dog barking is heard. The children enter frame and keep going. Man follows them. This time they enter frame and a little further away they turn and look. Man has fallen behind. Children wait for man to come. Suddenly, sound of gunshot is heard in the distance. Man stands. So do the kids. They look around. Man is also standing under the snow. His face in frame. From behind the man facing forward we see the children waiting.
Room of woman with baby, past:
Man’s face. He takes his hand out of frame A moment later, milk is splashed on his face.
Railway, midnight, present:
Snow falls on man’s face. Then he turns around and goes back the way he came. The two children look in despair that he’s not coming.
4 year old boy: Wait here I’ll go and bring him.
He runs towards the man walking away under snow. 5 year old girl waits. At first, we see what she sees. Then we only see her with her fears and anticipations. After a long pause the little boy grabs man’s hand and brings him into frame and both walk away in the depth of frame.
In front of and inside the children’s house, midnight:
Finally, they arrive at a shanty house. The sound of dog barking rises. Man feels threatened. Plastic bottles and tin wastes crinkle under his feet and dog howls have become wilder. They reach a room that’s the children’s home. A room none but an old junk Russian car. From inside the room a lantern light flickers. Man seems scared to go in. If it weren’t for the embarrassment in front of the kids he would have returned but they invite him in with their looks, smile and wiping their red frozen noses. The children pull his hand and bring him in.
5 year old girl: Come in there’s no one here. Are you sleep or awake mom? (she pulls her) Come in. She’s not sick. She’s asleep. She is always asleep. Her name is Lolita. Mom, wake up you have a guest get up.
Then she spreads their raggedy blankets for herself and her brother right under her mom’s feet and lays her brother and herself down to sleep.
5 year old girl: Don’t be afraid she doesn’t have any disease. She’s drunk.
4 year old boy: Good night sir! (and he closes eyes and falls asleep)
5 year old girl: Good night sir!
Girl also pulls the blanket over and falls asleep. Man waits in doubt for a moment and looks at everywhere under the lantern light. He sits by the woman’s head. The woman is asleep. Man is situated right over her head. When he pushes her blanket away her bare chest and face is visible from above. As if she has frozen. Man brings the lantern closer to her face and places his hand over her face.
Woman moves and raises her head. She brings up the lantern with difficulty close to man’s face.
Woman: Is that you? (she can hardly breathe. Her eyes look hollow. She’s in total disbelief. Half awake she talks again) You are alive?!
Man looks like dead meat.
Woman’s voice: (over his face) Children, your dad has come.
Children are sleep.
Script: The Man Who Came With The Snow