The Dwarfs

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Authors: Harold Pinter
know something about me but you don’t. Do you know what I am? I’m the ragamuffin who vomits in the palace. There’s a dryrot in me. Rot everywhere. What about the worm that ate a building down? That’s what it’s like. I could stay in this armchair for ever. Or in bed. Yes. Do you know, I can’t step out of bed? I’m unable to step out of the bed. I can’t put my foot on thefloor. I could stay there, always. Have people come and feed me. They could do that easily enough. Yes, you don’t know. You don’t know what you’ve got in this room. A sack of old bones. But can’t you understand? I can’t even commit suicide. It’s got to be a decision. That’s an action. I can’t act. I’m not justified in committing suicide. It would be worthless, meaningless. Suicide isn’t meaningless. It’s an action. That’s what it is.


    What are the dwarfs doing, in their journeys to the street-corners? They stumble in the gutters and produce their pocket-watches. One with a face of chalk chucks the dregs of the day into a bin and seats himself on the lid. He is beginning to chew though he has not eaten. Now they collect at the backstep. One scrubs his veins at the lower sink, now he is gorged in the sud. Spruced and preened, in time for the tuck. Time is kept to the T.
    Pete is in the cabin. He cannot hear the backchat of bone from the yard, the crosstalk of bristled skin. He is listening to himself. Now Mark, who combs his hair in mirrors. He holds six pocket-mirrors at related angles. He sings the song of Mark to the cocked glass. He does not see the market outside the window. He sees himself and smiles.
    The floor is scrubbed to the grain, my own work.
    It is to this fund I donate, and sublet the premises. I strike a shrewd bargain. I am the promoter, although neither Pete nor Mark is aware of the contract, nor of the contractor.
    They are still there, the two of them. Or perhaps they have gone. We must wait. I am prepared to wait. I do not want to stop waiting. The end of this vigil is the beginning of nothing.

    - Come away, come away, death, and in sad cypress let me be laid, Pete sang.
    The sun was setting. Lilac hung heavy on the arched tree. The garden flickered. In low deckchairs Len and Mark were lying. Pete gravely ended the dirge, standing at the garden door.
    - I like this garden. It’s tranquil.
    In a lower garden a bonfire, burning, collapsed, in a gash, splintered. Smoke smarted thinly across the fences.
    - My mind’s a blank, Mark said.
    - Say the first thing, Len said, that comes into it.
    - Shaving in the asylum of Wednesday I saw a toadstool sitting on a blank rabbit, Mark said in one breath.
    - Blimey!
    - There you are.
    - I’ll tell you what, Pete said, thinking got me into this and thinking’s got to get me out. You know what I want? An efficient idea. Do you know what I mean? An efficient idea. One that’ll work. Something I can pin my money on. An eachway bet. Nothing’s guaranteed, I know that. But I’m willing to gamble. I’ve never stopped gambling but I’m a bit cramped these days. That’s what I need. Do you know what I mean? Of course, some people are efficient ideas in themselves. You might be an efficient idea yourself, Mark. You can never tell. I wouldn’t like to pass judgement. But I’m not. I’ve got to sweat for one. And if I can get hold of one I’ve got to make it a going concern. No grafting and no fiddling. Some people can afford to take three or four days off a week. I can’t afford the time. Do you know what I mean?
    - I should think they’re very few and far between, efficient ideas, Mark said.
    - They may be. But I told you, thinking got me into this and thinking’s got to get me out.
    - I once knew a man who didn’t think, Mark said. He rushed home as fast as he could every evening, turned the armchair round, sat in it and looked out of the window. After about two hours, when it was dark, he’d get up and turn on the light.
    - Yes, Len

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