A Small Tragedy
by Javier Daulte
Translated by Rodrigo Cameron
The action takes place in three spaces: two psychoanalyst’s offices and the home of
Carlos and Diana. These spaces can be separate or superimposed.
Dr. A’s office
Dr. A: Help you?
Bueras: I beg you on the knees of my heart.
Dr. A: This... well, er... you know... It takes time... One needs to establish
Bueras: Time? Time! What the hell are you talking about?
Dr. A: I must ask you to stay calm.
Bueras: Doctor, please.
Dr. A: I can make an appointment for Friday.
Dr. A: Would five to six be all right? I have nothing before that.
Bueras: No, no, you don’t understand. I need your help today. Right
now. It’s a matter of minutes.
Dr. A: Nothing of any importance can possibly be resolved in “a matter
Bueras: Just listen to me.
Dr. A: At this moment it is quite impossible. I have prior commitments...
Bueras: This is an emergency, doctor! You must listen to me!
Dr. A: Don’t touch me! I beg you: this is utterly ridiculous. You burst
into my office like a lunatic and you place me in a violent situation
which in no way will help you to resolve your problem, which, if I may
say so, is quite evident. I will make it quite clear to you right now that
this is an office providing psychoanalytical therapy and not an
emergency room. In fact, had you arrived five minutes later than you did
you would have rung the doorbell till the cows came home, for the
simple reason that you would not have found me here. And in that case
you would have had no option but to go to a hospital or something of the
Bueras: A police station.
Dr. A: What?
Bueras: If I hadn’t found you I’d have had to go to a police station.
Dr. A: I don’t understand.
Bueras: I’m talking about murder, doctor.
Dr. A: Murwhat?
Bueras: Murder. Mur-der. But it can be prevented. You could prevent it.
Dr. A: Please, I’m running very late. I’d rather continue this conversation
outside. Maybe I'll be able to help you.
Bueras: No, doctor! You don’t understand!
Dr. A: Look, please, I beg you. I am not accustomed to this kind of
Bueras: Nor am I.
Dr. A: Well let’s leave, then.
Bueras: Someone could be killed.
Dr. A: Go to the police. You said it yourself. If you hadn’t found me here
you would have gone to a police station. Just imagine you didn’t find me,
that we never had this conversation.
Bueras: It’s not a question of reporting a murder. It’s a question of
Dr. A: You haven’t come to the right person.
Bueras: You’re a coward.
Dr. A: You’re absolutely right. Now, if you please.
He shows him the door.
Bueras: Carlos Cossio is involved.
Dr. A: Who?
Bueras: Carlos Cossio. Your five o’clock.
Dr. A: I don’t know him.
Bueras: Oh, please! You treated him today. Hardly an hour ago. Just like
you’ve been doing every Wednesday for years.
Dr. A: Look, I don’t know you, I don’t know what you’re talking about,
and I don’t know why I’m listening to you.
Bueras: Stop playing games. This is serious.
Dr. A: I will not allow this.
Bueras: Pick up the phone.
Dr. A: You can’t force me to...
Bueras: Don’t think you’re protecting him. You’d only make it worse.
Dr. A: Who are you?
Bueras: You must do something.
Dr. A: Who are you? Are you with the police?
Bueras: Don’t be ridiculous. Listen to me. You must speak to Carlos.
Dr. A: What do you want? Who sent you?
Bueras: You are the only person who can stop this.
Dr. A: Did she hire you? His wife? Did Diana send you here?
Bueras: Christ! We’re wasting time.
Dr. A: Yes, Diana sent you. I knew something like this would happen.
You’ve come to find out. You’ve come to... You’re armed, right? You’re
blackmailing me. You’re after my money, aren’t you?
He takes out his wallet.
Take it, look, nothing but credit cards. I’ve no cash on me!
Bueras: Put that away!
He puts his hand in his jacket as if he were going to take something out
of the inside breast pocket. Dr. A jumps.
Dr. A: Don’t!
Bueras takes out an address book.
Bueras: Shut up, sit down and do what I say.
He takes the phone and dials a number he looks up in his address book.
Talk to him. Just say anything. Tell him you need to see him. Tell him it’s
Dr. A holds the cradle down with his finger.
Dr. A: Look, I’m giving you exactly one minute to get out of here. I beg
you. Don’t make me call the police. There is a limit to my professional
curiosity and you crossed it some time ago, in other words I am not in
the least bit interested in what kind of a psychopath you may be. Let me
make it quite clear that I will not allow you or anyone else to interfere in
any way with the relationship I have with my patients. And don’t
imagine for one second that you will make me ruin my years of work
with Mr. Carlos Cossio by following your outrageous instructions.
He snatches the receiver and puts it down.
So get out of my office. Now.
Bueras: Carlos is going to kill someone, doctor.
Dr. A: So what? Let him kill them. There’s no need for me to get
Dr. A: It goes against professional ethics.
Bueras: Ethics? Can’t you see that Carlos would be arrested and you’d
have to appear in court? And that if the story got out it wouldn’t exactly
be great publicity for you, that you might lose all your patients?
Dr. A: My patients? This is blackmail. Though I don’t see what benefit
you would derive from it aside from the pleasure of doing me harm. This
behavior pattern is typical of the perverse personality you seem to
possess. Everything leads me to believe that you’ve made all of this up.
Bueras: We might have been able to avoid certain details.
Dr. A: What do you mean?
Bueras: I mean you are forcing me to break professional secrecy.
The victim is Diana, Carlos’ wife. My six o’clock on Wednesdays.
Jump cut to Bueras’ office.
Diana: I’ve realized something. It’s so appallingly idiotic. Carlos has a
Bueras: And how did you find out?
Diana: You know I don’t go through his things any more. He said he’d
strangle me if I photocopied his appointment book again. But there are
many ways of finding things out. I used to be a police officer, after all.
Bueras: Such as?
Bueras: You’ve stopped having sex?
Bueras: What, then?
Diana: Must I tell you?
Bueras: It would be nice.
Diana: I don’t like certain...
She stops. She can’t get the words out.
Diana: Certain... certain “liberties” that Carlos takes.
Bueras: Liberties? What liberties, exactly?
Pause. Then quickly:
Diana: When we fuck he wants to stick his fingers up my ass.
Bueras: That’s all?
Diana: You don’t think it’s enough?
That other slut must love it and he thought it would also drive me wild.
In three weeks I’ll tell him we’re splitting up. Not before. I want to wait
till we’ve signed the lease on the new apartment.
Bueras: And what do you think it’s going to be like for you living with
him these next three weeks?
Diana: I’ll fake it.
Bueras: Looks like your mind’s made up.
Bueras: Will you manage it?
Diana: Why not? I’ve faked worse things before.
Diana: You know. The orgasms. When I’m mad at Carlos I pretend not
to have them. The thing is I need him to sign the lease on the apartment.
Bueras: You want him to pay for it.
Bueras: And then you’ll leave him out on the street.
Diana: Not exactly. I imagine he’ll have a place to go now. In any case,
seeing as he’s the guilty party, I reckon I’m due some sort of
compensation, don’t you think?
Bueras: You could talk it over.
Diana: Is that advice?
Bueras: You know it’s not. I’m just mentioning a possibility.
Diana: I hate advice.
Bueras: I know. I’m talking about an alternative.
Diana: Why are you defending Carlos now?
Bueras: Am I defending Carlos?
Diana: Carlos is a weak person, incapable of taking any sort of initiative.
He’s practically an invalid. You know that’s why I married him. And he
knows it too. He should beware of having certain ambitions...
Diana: Of power.
Bueras: I don’t understand.
Diana: It’s pretty obvious: he wants to dominate me.
Bueras: (ironic) You mean the fingers.
Diana: You’re making fun of me. Now I understand. You’re against me.
Bueras: I’m not for or against anyone.
Diana: Really? So why do you suggest I talk things over with him?
What are you proposing? Another one of your healthy “dates”? I prefer
my own methods.
Bueras: Your methods?
Diana: Time’s almost up. You leave it to me. I’m going to get what I
want. In three weeks it’ll all be resolved. Maybe sooner.
Bueras: What does it being resolved mean for you?
Diana: Money, affection, well-being. Just like you taught me.
Bueras: “I” taught you?
Diana: I suppose the goal of all psychoanalysis is to become egocentric
to the point of obscenity.
Bueras: In your case, then, our results have been outstanding.
Diana: Are you proud?
Bueras: No. It makes me think that we should suspend treatment for a
We’re stuck. And you know it: this isn’t the first time we’ve talked about
Diana: So? What do you mean, stuck? Stuck? What do I care if we’re
stuck? I’m paying for this. I’m the one who decides whether I keep
coming or not.
Bueras: No. That’s not the way it works.
Diana: It isn’t? How did it go then? One day you called me up and said:
“Hey Diana, I think you’re completely fucked up, why don’t you pop by
my office?” Was that what happened? I don’t recall, funnily enough.
Bueras: I think this is becoming counterproductive. In the beginning, the
Diana: Shut up, will you? I don’t pay to listen to your fascinating
rationalizations. We sorted that one out a while ago. You’re scared of me.
You’re terribly like Carlos in that way. You’re both scared and you’re
Bueras: Diana, don’t get started.
Diana: Don't get started on what? I’ve got three minutes left. And I’m
pretty clear on certain articles in our contract: so long as I don’t break
ashtrays or upholstery I can pretty much say what I like.
Bueras: Next Wednesday will be our last session.
Diana: Chicken! That’s what you are! Chicken! You’re a coward!
Fucking coward! You faggot!
Bueras slaps her. She suddenly stops. Then she starts crying. She leaves.
Bueras goes back to Dr. A’s office.
Dr. A’s office
Dr. A: You hit her?
Bueras: I couldn’t help it.
Dr. A: Fascinating. I’d never dare.
Bueras: To be perfectly honest, it’s not one of my usual methods.
Dr. A: I imagine you’re continuing the treatment. An episode like that
must mean years of work just to resolve the transference.
Bueras: Yes. I even had to raise my fee.
Dr. A: Yes, yes, absolutely... But of course! Now I understand...
Bueras: Understand what?
Carlos enters and lies down on the couch in Dr. A’s office. Bueras leaves.
Dr. A’s office
Carlos: I’m scared. Diana is not talking and I’m scared. I’ve never seen
her like this. And she’s always the first one to talk. She must be planning
something... It’s her favorite pastime. She’s hooked on intrigue. In the
past we would share it at least, but now... silence... Diana is terrible,
doctor, because she’s capable of doing anything, so long as it’s what you
Silence... I think it could drive me mad. Nothing is said... Neither one of
us speaks. And the mood gets thicker, denser, heavier; I feel something is
going to explode. But I can’t, I can’t speak. I’m a liar by nature, doctor,
you know that. Telling the truth makes me panic. Silence. Silence. And
as time goes by I feel quite clearly that a new reality is taking shape, a
new reality made up of silences, of looks, suspicion, conjecture. Diana
builds up a reality that is as true for her as it is false for me. Two versions
which drift further and further apart and become harder and harder to
reconcile. Two worlds. And I‘ve no idea which of the two would be more
effective. I can’t stop thinking about it and it terrifies me. One day...
anything could happen... One day... someone could be killed.
Dr. A and Bueras look at each other.
The silence is terrible, doctor! Silence makes anything is possible.
Anything! It’s like darkness!
Dr. A gives Carlos an injection. Carlos falls asleep.
Bueras: (from his office) You really use that stuff?
Dr. A: Just wait and see. He’s obsessed with money.
Bueras: I’m not surprised. Your fee must be astronomical.
Carlos wakes up in a state of euphoria. Bueras watches from his side of
Carlos: I don’t want to pay for the lease of the new apartment. It’s my
money, doctor! There’s two weeks to go and I don’t know what to do it!
I... I pay for everything! And I’m sick of it. Pay, pay, pay, for everything,
the rent, the food, her food, her nights out, her clothes, her therapy! That
woman is sucking me dry! She’s killing me! She’s suffocating me! She’s
driving me mad! She’s killing me! What can I do, doctor?
Dr. A: Associate.
Carlos: I don’t know. I feel so bad.
Dr. A: Naturally, you’re jealous.
Dr. A: Of Diana’s therapy.
Carlos: No. Why should I be jealous?
Dr. A: It’s natural.
Carlos: No. It’s the money. I pay for everything.
Dr. A: There’s nothing wrong with allowing yourself to be jealous of
someone. One should expect that sort of mechanism in someone who’s
trying to compensate for guilt.
Carlos: What guilt?
Dr. A: You have a mistress, Carlos. It’s strange that I continually should
have to “remind” you.
Carlos: A mistress?
Dr. A: You don’t have one?
Dr. A: No?
Carlos: It’s happened again, doctor. I lied to you again.
Dr. A: What?
Carlos: My lover... is not a woman.
Dr. A: I see.
Carlos: But don’t get too excited, doctor. That’s not even close to being
the whole truth.
Carlos leaves. We return to the present with Dr. A and Bueras.
Dr. A’s office
Bueras: Yes, I found that out today, Diana told me. But how does that
Dr. A: What do you mean? It must have been a terrible blow for her.
Especially for someone as paranoid as she is.
Dr. A: Well, someone who photocopies her husband’s appointment
book... It’s quite obvious: Carlos’ fear is far more tangible that I
imagined. What we’re dealing with here is not merely a woman, but a
Bueras: What do you mean, huntress? She could be killed.
Dr. A: No. My customer would be incapable of
Bueras: My what?
Dr. A: My patient would be incapable of
Bueras: “My customer”?
Dr. A: What?
Bueras: You said “my customer”.
Dr. A: When?
Bueras: Just now.
Dr. A: Me? No.
Bueras: Yes you did. You said “customer”.
Dr. A: I’m telling you I didn’t.
Bueras: You said it. I heard you.
Dr. A: What is this, are you trying to interpret my actions?
Bueras: No, I...
Dr. A: Yes, you’re trying to interpret my actions. This is priceless. You’re
insinuating that Carlos doesn’t interest me because I don’t see him as a
patient but as someone who “pays” me, right?
Bueras: I’m not insinuating anything nor do I want to get involved in
your mental blocks as an analyst. And believe me, you have them.
Dr. A: Oh, really? I could interpret your interpretation, if you like, you
Bueras: I have made no interpretation.
Dr. A: How very astute: “The secret of a good interpretation is that it
shouldn’t seem like one,” right?
Bueras: I didn’t interpret a thing. You’re the one saying that I’m
interpreting you. So I suppose I must be interpreting you.
Dr. A: Interpreting me? No, no, you didn’t interpret me. I interpreted you
in your attempt to interpret me. Don’t change the terms now.
Bueras: I change the terms?
Dr. A: Constantly.
Bueras: What are you talking about?
Dr. A: Hence your ridiculous fear of your “huntress”.
Bueras: What would really be ridiculous is if Diana died while we are
here arguing and you do nothing at all.
Dr. A: Nothing? I’m trying to make you see that your patient has more
motives for killing mine than mine has for killing yours. Admit it!
You’ve shown me the evidence yourself.
Bueras: All right, doctor, fine. If it worries you so much I’ll admit that
your interpretation is correct. Now I’ll ask you to
Dr. A: No.
Dr. A: It’s not correct. I still don’t understand why you insist on
Bueras: Doctor. We have five minutes.
Dr. A: Five minutes?
Bueras: Before she gets home.
Please, for goodness’ sake...
Dr. A: I’ve got it! Yes. I’ve got it. It’s you! You are displaying
symptomatic behavior! Of course. You’ve assimilated your desire to
cure, as an analyst, with your patient’s suffering. You believe all of this
murder fantasy because if Diana is dead, she stops suffering. You see? It
is your unconscious desire to be successful as a therapist that
Bueras: That’s enough, doctor.
Dr. A: Let me finish.
I know it sounds crazy. I’m asking you to do me a favor. As one
colleague to another.
Dr. A: Oh, please. Look, I’d be delighted, but your story has all the logic
of a dream.
Bueras: Yes, it sounds absurd... but it is precisely the case.
Diana screams from Bueras’ office.