Tuesday, December 14, 2010

DOCTOR ZHIVAGO: THE FINAL CHAPTER ~ A "Druther*Ending*, according to Salvatore Buttaci of Harbinger*33


Warner Brothers Entertainment photo
 DOCTOR ZHIVAGO:
THE FINAL CHAPTER
DRUTHER*ENDING, According to ~
Salvatore Buttaci

Before the Revolution he was Dr. Zhivago, a reputable physician from a well-to-do Moscow family.  Some of his closest associates and boyhood friends were Romanov cousins of the tsar.  Those noble good old boyars high on the ladder of the elite.  Like Segei Kapinski.  Andrei Portnoy.  Feodor Rosivev.  All gone now in the name of justice won for the proletariat masses.
Tripped down that same ladder by booted Bolshevik feet, he was now simply Yuri.  Gone the expensive black medical bag, his dark fur-lined gabardine suits, imported Tom Mix boots, unlimited caviar –– all of it confiscated by the have-nots, thanks to one of the Marx brothers who wrote a book and Lenin who applied it by rocking the tsarist regime and rolling it forever into past history.  Now they were the haves, and Yuri, a sensitive but practical man, was making the best of life in Motherless Russia.
Yuri didn’t care.  It was “Yuri” he wanted Lara to whisper in his ear, not “Dr. Zhivago,” on those slow days at the People’s Clinic when he would slip away to Yuryatin, snuggle beneath a dozen woolen blankets with shivering Lara in her narrow cot.
Emptying his mind of the guilt of infidelity, Yuri lay there making the best of it.  He figured, What Antonia at home did not know could not hurt her.  And anyway, life was cruel.  The Red Army had seen to that, and Yuri was fed up with sacrificing.   He refused to turn his head away from Larissa Feodorovna Guishar Antipova.  His lover Lara.  He was a decent man, but not so decent he could walk away.  Lara was married to Pasha Antipova, away fighting a war against the White Army.  Yuri was married to Antonina Gromeko.  So what!
“Lara, my love, I have an idea.”
“Just hold me, Doctor.”
“Call me ‘Yuri’ please, like the masses do.”
“But Doctor ––”
“Lara, the tsar is dead.  The tsaritsa, the grand duchesses, the tsarevich, Rasputin…all of them murdered.  Our dearly departed empire, Mother Russia, has been transformed into a Communist state.  Lenin and Trotsky have led the march of the mother-buckers.  So, to sum it all up, ‘Me Yuri, you Lara.’ ”
“Oh, yes!  Da!  Da!  Da!  And Da again!  Oh, Yuri!”
They sat up in the cot, each half turning to the other.  “Come with me, Lara.  I want to see if the country estate in Varykino is as pretty in the winter as it is in springtime and summer.  Besides, the place is empty.  We shall have it all to ourselves.”
He threw his legs over the side of the cot and said, “Lara, dress warmly.”
From his dogsled they could see in the near distance the palatial estate, made brighter by the setting sun, and when they arrived, Yuri parked the sled under one of the evergreens, then uncovered the scimitar and the estate key hidden under the unwelcome mat.  He stabbed away at the block of ice until the door was visible.  He turned the key and they entered.
“There’s more ice in here than there is outside,” Lara said, then slid on the iced marble floor, managed to stand, only to fall again and again.
Yuri’s cleated shoes kept him at least physically upright.  He headed towards the dining room tabletop encased in a thick slab of ice.  No matter, he thought.  I’ve got poems to write!  Pulling on his fingerless red woolen gloves, he chopped away at the drawer beneath the tabletop where, miraculously, his old Wasserkov fountain pen and bottled ink had escaped the frigid cold.
He wrote on the first page, “Poems to Lara.”
“Oh, Doctor Yuri!” called Lara from some rooms away.
Yuri called back.  “I am writing poems, Lara.”
“Oh, Yuri Zhivago!”
Yuri was exasperated.  “How can I write a poem, much less a little book of them, if you are going to scream like that?” Yuri screamed.
Then he smelled Lara’s perfume (their favorite, “Moscow #6”) and when he turned in his ice chair, he saw Lara standing there sans heavy fur coat, sans a stitch of clothing.  Bare as she was only hours ago on that Yuryatin cot.  She wore only a smile and blue eyes in which white snowy flecks sparkled.
“Let’s write a poem together,” she suggested with more than a hint of seduction.  “Put away your Wasserkov pen, you handsome man.”
No way now could he compose poetry.  Instead, he composed himself, took the bare Lara in his arms, kissed her so feverishly, for a moment their four lips couldn’t be separated.  (Those versed in Russian idioms call the experience “lip gluing”)
From the corner of Yuri’s eye he saw the start of the end of his life.  In Antonia’s two mitted hands she gripped the scimitar her father had won in a Russian bazaar and Yuri had returned to safekeeping under the doormat.
“I believed you!” Antonia said, the words steaming out from between clenched front teeth.  “You had so many patients with the Russian flu, you had to sleep at the clinic.  And if Olga Feodora Bodganevich hadn’t come by for her flu shot, I would still be in the truthless dark.  I came here, knowing how deeply you love this place.  Now you will die in it.  The press will headline this story ‘Zhivago Closes Practice Due to Murder.’ and the lead paragraph stated simply, ‘Yesterday noted doctor Yuri of Trashaponic Road in Moscow was retired from the medical occupation when his wife Antonia zhivogged him with a century’s old scimitar.  The murder weapon was found at the scene of the double murder, jutting from the cleavage of her deceased husband’s lover at this point unidentified.’ “
“I can explain everything,” Yuri said in the tinny voice of a street beggar.  “I came here to defrost our country estate so the two of us, Toni, could come in early spring, have a picnic in the main salon, reminisce about the old pre-Lenin days.”
“And this slut?”
“She’s one of my patients who recently lost both her parents in a blood purge.  It’s driven her quite insane.”  Then he gestured towards the pink naked Lara.  “I was all ready to give her a physical examination when you happened to walk in.”
Yuri’s last words.
Antonia, true to her word, zhivogged Zhivago down the middle like a ripe Ukranian watermelon.  
From Lara’s blanched lips white vapor puffed away like a train running late.  In her blue eyes, the white flecks were gone.  Only tears now.  The widow Antonia, still in hacking mode, light-footed her way towards the naked bimbo, sidestepping the geyser of red-hot blood gushing like borscht from the cavity of Yuri’s chest, painting the ice floor red as the new flag.
Back in Moscow, Lenin was experiencing a senile moment.  “Is the revolution over?” he asked his wife.  Stalin was hot to Trotsky and Yuri’s patients were still patiently waiting for their flu shots in a long clinic line across the street from a long breadline.
Antonia sat at the dining room table, wondering if tomorrow would bring several more inches of snow.  Should I wait here for spring? She thought,  or go home and report my husband missing?  She returned the scimitar to its hiding place under the mat, took the reins of Yuri’s dogsled, and mushed them home.  In mid-ride, she tore her return train ticket and tossed it like snowflakes into the bitter cold air.
                                                    ###
                                                Epilogue
An old man, who could have resembled Yuri Zhivago had Yuri lived to be 80 years old, stood on a moving bus, watching the sidewalk where a woman who looked like a senior-comrade version of Lara walked briskly in her red babushka.
Calling to her through the sealed window distracted the bus rider who crashed the bus into a long breadline where moments before many were standing.  Now most were lying dead or dying.
The two look-alikes suffered fatal heart attacks and died a scimitar’s length from each other. 
Survivors on the breadline took home an extra loaf of bread.




Wowzers! 
Sal scimitared right in 
and zhiovogged a freezing rendition of
a Writers'Challenge to a Druther Ending . . . 
Have you one in you??? 
Info to getcha in the mood, Right Here <

"Can't wait for your druthered Great",
said Absolutely*Kate
and our mighty fine staff of renown

*AT THE BIJOU*

About our shining star Author, AT THE BIJOU ~ That's Sharon, not Lara or Antonia with our loveable Godfather aboard Harbinger*33 . . . though I believe she's all women to he. Sal Buttaci professes English from his former life and prolifics poetry and prose and anything that goes when a pen, frozen or warm nears his crazy, cool, copacetic and conceptual mind. Fortunate am I and so many in WritersWorld to know and love the guy. He's a gent amongst the gentry ... a playful soul who sees into how words wish to best tale their tells . . . and he does. More Sal and all he has to sell from his current books on the market are right at these very slick quick clicks:
naturally, he'd want me to hawk ~
( I didn't let him down, even 'briefly' )
+ 
Thanks Yuri ... whoops, grazie molto bene Sal!
You're a mentor to many ~ a warmer heart than Mother Russia
~ Absolutemente*Katarina


                    * DO ENJOY OUR NEXT WRITER'S BRANDY *   


9 comments:

Jeanette Cheezum said...

Lara never stood a chance. Only the yellow flowers in the movie were the beauty of their affair. I loved The widow Antonia, still in hacking mode, light-footed her way towards the naked bimbo, sidestepping the geyser of red-hot blood gushing like borscht from the cavity of Yuri’s chest, painting the ice floor red as the new flag.

Salvatore Buttaci said...

Thanks, Jeanette. I had so much fun writing this irreverent piece, all the while thinking, Can Boris find it in his heart to forgive me? Or is he past the knack of caring?

Paul D. Brazill said...

That is the way to do it. I've never read the book or seen the film but I prefer you're version!

Salvatore Buttaci said...

Paul, thanks for the kudos, but having read the book and seen the film, I prefer the book by Pasternak. Mine was just an opportunity for me to have some fun.

Harry said...

Like Paul, I never read the book or saw the movie. But I can't imagine the original was better than this one. Probably no one even got zhivogged. Nice Sal!

Madam Z said...

"Antonia, true to her word, zhivogged Zhivago down the middle like a ripe Ukranian watermelon."

Who, but Sal, wordmaster extraordinaire, could think of a line like that? I thought he had reached the pinnacle, but then he informed us that "Stalin was hot to Trotsky!" Sal, you are more fun than a barrel of Muscovites!

Salvatore Buttaci said...

Harry and Madam Z, writing this story was a barrel of fun! I love the Russian novels and really had no business tampering with one of their endings, but I could not resist. If Boris Pasternak got peeved and rolled in his grave, it was probably a good thing. Ever try to lie in the same position year after year? It can only bring on scads of grave sores.

Matthew S. Magda said...

Sal Butacci -- Your ending of Doctor Zhivago was both hilarious and sanguine -- a Soprano-like ending indeed!

Absolutely*Kate -- You had a great idea in getting writers to redo the ending of famous movies (the only kind anyone would want to redo.) Perhaps you would want to suggest that someone, maybe
the surfer cowboy or New Jersey Anthony, would want to rewrite the ending of The Third Man.

Matt Magda

~ ABSOLUTELY*KATE said...

Oh SAL ~ It so warms my laughin' heart to see you slide across the freezin' frenzy of slick ice to rewrite into potentials of good cheer. LOVED the doppleganger hanger of your Epilogue.

You're the craftiest oh wielder of the plume in a room where writers scribe on. So very grateful (said this Kate-full) that you added your fun-flair (or is that flare) to this Druther*Endings challenge.

And Magda -- there just may be another terrifical ending comin' up ... you don't think Butch and Sundance really died, do you?

(( Uh? Do YOU, Har? ))
~ Absolutely*Kate wishin' much "HO HO" into all you mighty fine BIJOU holidayin' patrons of the arts and writes ...

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