Принцесса Атех

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OUTLINE

Following 13 years of Labour rule, the Conservatives are about to take back Westminster. Plans to continue privatization initiated under Margaret Thatcher have been announced by the Conservatives during the campaign. Postal votes applications are flowing through the mail system.

Carla receives the letter from Uri, then questions herself about his existence.

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WOMEN'S W.C. LONDON CENTRAL MAIL CENTER

A dyed blond Royal Mail employee is taking a break at the headquarters's restroom. She cracks the window open, lights up a cigarette and talks to a pair of feet peeping out under a closed door.

-Bloody windows can't even open properly.

-You are playing with fire my dear.

-Who cares, next months we're out anyways...

The pair of feet turn around and the sound of flushing covers the end of the sentence. The blond lady continues as the noise fades out.

-So, who are they sending to Israel for the last letter?

-Well, it should have been Gurav but I guess because of his faith... his apparent faith I should say as I don't really know if he's Muslim, they've decided to send Elliott.

-Seriously, Elliott... He's a poof.

Coming out of the booth, the other employee heads for the sink.

-Well I guess they prefer sending a poof than a Paki as you would say. Anyways, who knows if he's gay, she says looking at herself in the mirror... You're just saying this because he's never responded to your overtures.

-You can't blame a skirt for trying, but I'm sure he is, answers the blond as she exhales through the half open window... Who wears a buttonhole!

JUNKERNGASSE, BERN, SWITZERLAND

Carla locks her bike in front of her building when an old lady walks out the door. Carla stands up and moves out of her way.

-Good evening Mrs. Mahler.

-Oh, good evening young lady. I have to go buy butter, for the veal liver steak.

-But I think the grocery store is closed at this hour.

-No, no... It's not, I know, I know... answers the old lady with a smile. By the way, the postman dropped a letter in your mailbox this morning.

Not wanting to contradict the old lady and not really sure as to who of the two is the sanest.

-Oh, Ok, well thank you and good night.

CARLA'S APARTMENT, BERN

Entering her apartment, Carla drops her Frietag bag and keys on the table and sits down to inspect the letter which she just picked up from her mailbox. Baring a British stamp and no return address, she tears it open and finds a short note clipped to a photograph of Uri, standing in front of a ship, in some African port judging from the skin color of the dockers in the background. She flips over the photograph but sees nothing written other than Fujifilm Quality Thermal Photo Paper. She then reads the note, looks back at the photograph, then back at the note, then at the envelope again. She can't read the date on blurry postmark but notices 4 letters under the stamp: BIOT. Intrigued, she looks online and finds a small town in France named Biot but then looks back at the Queen's portrait on the stamp. She scrolls down on her online search to find a more plausible match, British Indian Ocean Territory. She locates it on a map and zooms out to realize that this is the most remote place one can imagine. She then looks back the photograph of Uri and notices the name of the ship behind him: Атех.

URI'S ROOM, BUDGET HILTON, BANGKOK

At each pass, the intermittent fan blows the shut blinds onto the open window frame. Uri is leaning on a bed looking through the bathroom door left ajar, where a woman, sitting on the toilet bowl, sees him staring at her.

-You better look good. Soon soon, you going to sit you too, says Po, a 20 year old Khmer girl, as she stand up to wipe a drop of pee.

After glancing at herself in the mirror, she gets back in the gloomy room and jumps on the bed next to Uri.

-I think you not really gay... You a little crazy Canadian man, but I know you like woman. You like me!

-Maybe I want to be a lesbian!

-I think you playing. Like a game. I think you hiding... You mystery man.

Uri pulls Po who sit on top of him. They start making love.

URI'S BATHROOM, BUDGET HILTON, BANGKOK

Po is holding Uri's dick as he's taking a piss, standing in front of the mirror, stretching and raising his face's skin, pouching his lips, seeking a quintessential feminine look.

-I don't want you to cut your dick, says Po as she shakes the last drops.

-Of course I won't... But I need to fix my face... Not sure about this Dr Chat though. Sounds like a charlatan.

-What's a charlatan.

-Like a fake doctor... Maybe we should go meet some Kathoeys tonight and ask the ones that look good who did them.

-Maybe we go to Pataya.

-No, I don't wanna go there.

-Where can we find some here in Bangkok?

-Maybe Nana Plaza, but I no go there. I not allowed.

-You're banned?

-Yes banned.

-Ok so where else.

-Patpong... Soi Cowboy...

Continuing to grimace, Uri nods.

-Neahh... Don't wanna go to these places either.

BERN-ZURICH TRAIN, SWITZERLAND

ATEX certification logo

Leaning against the train's window, Carla is scrolling down search results for Atex on her phone.

She sees the logo for equipment certified to be used in Explosive Atmosphere, derived from the French ATmosphère EXplosive, but doesn't understand why a ship would be named that way.

She pulls the photograph of Uri from the envelope on the table in front of her and stares at it.

BURGHÖLZLI CLINIC, ZURICH

Carla is back at Dr. Jan C. Grulc's office. This time she's leaning on a Corbusier long chair set near the window. Jan is at his desk, looking at her profile.

-So they think I have hallucinations, that I'm inventing things?

-Actually, just to clarify things, no one spoke to me or sent me any report about you, nor would I issue any report to a third party. By the end of our sessions, which might continue for an indeterminate period of time, depending on a number of factors, I will write you a note, stipulating that in my opinion, you are ready, or not, to go back to work.

-So what do you think? I'm I imagining things? Am I crazy?

-Crazy, in my field, is not really a term we use. Not because it would be derogatory but because it just doesn't mean anything. Like a 3 star chef would be bemused if you'd tell him that his food is tasty.

A moment passes. Jan is now sitting in an arm-chair, next to Carla.

-So, would you want to tell me about this man you mentioned during our last session...

Carla, who is still looking away, waits a few seconds then answers.

-I thinks I pretty much told you everything... We met like 3 or 4 times... 5 actually...He came out of nowhere, saved my life twice. Once in Bern, once in Moscow... We made love... Once I remember, the other I don't... What else can I tell you.

Jan keeps quiet. Silence remains for a few minutes, until he breaks it.

-And do you plan on seeing him again?

-I never planned to see him. It was always him who either appeared out of nowhere set up a meeting.

-Would you want to see him again? If the possibility arose?

-Yes. Yes I would.

-Do you know where he is?

Carla hesitates a little. Not sure if she should be paranoid or is she's delusional.

-No. No I don't.

After another silence, Jan continues.

-Tell me about your father...

BURGHÖLZLI CLINIC, LATER

Carla is lying on the long chair. Jan is standing by the window.

-and as a child, did you imagine him coming to save you?

Carla, exhales a discreet laugh before answering.

-look, I trust that you ask the right questions, but isn't all this a bit obvious? These questions about my father versus my imaginary lover...

-I don't know, you tell me!

-What I didn't tell you is that my father died of AIDS. I finally figured it out as no one ever spoke about it here. He died of AIDS because he was probably having a wild life in New York City while I was stuck with my grandparents on a farm. So yes, I hope that one day he'd show up, not to save me because I loved my grand-parents, but when he died I was seven. So as of then I was officially an orphan, only hoping for a ghost to come and save me. Then when I grew up, I guess that the ghost figure transform itself in some kind of lover. Does that fit the profile?

Carla, is somehow out of breath, holding her emotions. Jan turns to her.

Ok, thank you. I think it was enough for today. I'll see you next week, Ok...

GREEK TAVERNA, ZURICH

Carla enters a deserted restaurant in the mid afternoon. A man, probably in his seventies, looking like the owner, greets her and invites her to sit near the window.

-Can I get you something to drink young lady.

...

Carla has finished her plate and the owner is now sitting at her table, drinking Ouzo with her.

-And do you know where you're family was from?

-Yes, a small Island near Turkey.

-Mitilini? Lesbos?

-No, much further East. I can never say it, correctly but I can show you on the map.

Carla lights up her phone and locates the island off the southern coast of Turkey.

-There!

-Oh, Kastellorizio!

-Yes, that's it, but then I believe that they set up the business in Venice then moved to Australia during the war, then New York... They were in the shipping business.

-Wow. Real Greeks.... I was in the shipping business too. A mechanic on ships for 15 years. Seen every port in the world. Then I decided to marry and move here.

-So you have kids?

-Yes, two boys, but they're big now, and Swiss, just like you...

Carla smiles at the old man.

-Oh, by the way, since you have been around, maybe you would recognize this port?

Carla pulls the photograph of Uri and shows it to the old man.

-Is this your boyfriend?

-I don't know, maybe...

-Well, he better come back fast, otherwise someone will steal you.

Carla smile.

-I don't know, Africa maybe because of all the black people. Could be Brazil too. This is his ship?

-Yes, I think so.

-He is Russian?

-No why?

-Because it's a Russian ship.

-Atex is a Russian company?

-No, because they're Russian alphabet. Similar to Greek. In this case it's difficult to make the difference with Latin alphabet because they are similar letters yet slightly different. Here...

The old man writes down on the paper table cloth: Атех

-See, the small т is like a capital T in Latin alphabet instead of t.

TRAIN BACK TO BERN, SWITZERLAND

Carla is on the train back home. She pulls her phone and loads the Cyrillic alphabet on her phone the types the four enigmatic letters on the Russian keyboard. Hundreds of results pop up but all in Russian. She switches to the image tab and finds a collection of icons and sculptures of an ancient mystical figure: Принцесса Атех, Princess Ateh.




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