Mikhail Krasnyansky

Screws, Nails and Co.

One sunny Saturday afternoon, the Master, the one who owned the place, brought a hammer, a screwdriver and a tin can of nails and screws out of the closet to fix a broken hinge on the kitchen window. He set out his tools on the sunlit windowsill, donned his glasses and got right to it. In a little while, the Master's seven-year-old son came running in and cried, “Daddy, come quick, there’s our neighbors fighting hard the courtyard!” They both rushed out of the kitchen, but before doing that, the Master took off his glasses and put them down on the windowsill. So, the tools, the glasses, and the nails and screws were left all alone. The nails and screws began tossing and turning inside the can right away, engaging in a lively conversation.

Old Screw: Ah, how good it is here, how bright and warm! Finally, we are getting some time in the sun.

Young Screw: Indeed, it is so boring to stay in that box all the time, in the darkness. I want change. I wish we were screwed into some thing already!

Old Screw: Didn’t you hear they now use a power tool to screw us in? Me, I am afraid I am going to get dizzy because of it. We old screws are more used to the leisurely pace of a regular manual screwdriver, when they slowly drive you in, oh, ever so tenderly.

Screwdriver: Oh, it is no fun for me to screw you, you bugger. Just you look at me: slim, smooth and long-legged, with an exquisite handle. And now look at you: a fat shorty, and with all that ugly carving, eew! I’d rather make a move on the Hammer, except he is ignoring me altogether.

Old Screw: Oh, our Hammer has no interest about your body. All he wants is to hit someone in the face—that’s how he gets his bliss, haha.

Screwdriver(sighs): Well, yeah, round and round you go, and happiness is still but a dream…

Young Screw: Oh, that Screwdriver of yours is such a bore! But a power drill is just one drunk whirl! Before you even understand it, the wood shavings smell completely covers you, oh, it's almost marijuana - “I am high” and then you’re chilling for the next few years. Yummm!

Old Screw: Yeah right, wood! How about when they stick you into some god-awful plaster instead, to rust away until retirement? And then there are those stinky plastic dowels, too. Yuck!

Glasses: Well, you got that right! Your body can’t breathe in all that plastic, and besides, it pollutes the environment. We’ve read about it a million times, haven’t we?

Old Nail: You, screws are really spoiled. Just listen to yourself: screwdrivers, power drills... That’s a dream come true! With us, it’s that damn Hammer every time: bang, bang, bang! And it’s all on your head too, mind you, turning you into a complete moron by the time you get driven in.

Hammer (disdainfully, speaking to the Old Nail): You won’t even get out of bed, I mean can, without a whack on the head!

Crooked Nail: That idiot (pointing at the Hammer)tried to drive me into a concrete slab. And now look at how nicely that turned out: I am all crooked with scoliosis, and nobody needs me. Gee, thanks. But at least they didn’t toss me in the trash just yet. That Hammer, he’s totally off his rocker. Not a drop of decency left!

Hammer (indifferently): Oh, drop dead, y’all. I never had any decency to begin with, so where from I can get this last drop?

Rusty Nail: I had been stuck in plaster for 10 years. I have dermatitis allover because of it. What do I even do? (speaking to Glasses)Do you happen to know?

Glasses: We read somewhere that sandpaper helps.

Crooked Nail: Well, last week, when the Master was putting a shelf on, that little boy of his grabbed me from the can and—get this!—used me to pick on a pimple. Man, let me tell you, human flesh is really something! It is soft and warm, and kind of ticklish too. I thought I was in heaven!

Entire box together (indignantly): You old perv! You pedo! Get the hell out of our can! (pushing the nail out; it falls on the windowsill, and then all the way down to the floor).

Crooked Nail (from the floor, cheerfully):Sure thing, stay in your precious can, you morons! I like the floor just fine. Before we all know it, the boy will come running back again and step right on me. He always goes bare foot in the summer. I just can’t wait…

Glasses (addressing the entire can): You are too harsh with that poor guy. We read it once that there used to be a time they nailed people to the cross, or to trees even—and it’s not like anyone ever complained.

Rusty Nail (sarcastically): Except the poor sobs on the cross.

Young Nail: Man! Stuck in meat! Wow!

Old Screw (speaking to Young Nail): Know-nothing is what you are! In meat! That’s a human body! It hurts like hell. Nothing funny about it. Us Screws, we never tortured anyone.

Hammer (disdainfully): Nail through the hand—that’s torture? Pfft! How about sharpening this Screwdriver baby here and driving her into someone’s eye? That would be areal big deal!

Screwdriver (speaking to Hammer): All you ever do is bully everyone.

Hammer (proudly): That’s by design. That’s what they made me for. At least that’s how I see my purpose in life. If you are scared of me, then I am doing my job well.

Glasses: Well, we thought Hammers are mostly for construction and repairs—for creative work, so to speak.

Hammer: (irritated): You should think less! You don’t need to be all that smart to create! A monkey could do it! Now, to make sure there’s law and order everywhere—that’s what requires a special talent!

Screwdriver: (speaking to Hammer): Oh, law and order… So you are the only man around this closet, right? How about giving a girl some loving then? But no, you need to worry about order instead! It’s too bad for me we don’t have anyone else eligible here, just that old toothless Saw and the Pliers, but who knows what gender those belong to. What a drag! I envy Glasses, at least they get to read a lot. And you, Hammer, you like reading?

Hammer: (after thinking for a short while): I don’t know, I never tried.

Glasses: (apparently upset): These days we don’t read as much either. See, the frame is broken here, and the Master just put it back on with some electrical tape, so now it is fairly difficult to read. Sure, he could have taken us to an Optic to get it all fixed, but he is too much of greedy for that. No two ways about it.

Hammer: (menacingly): Hey, you two! Rotten Glasses! Too frigging smart for your own good? Who are you to tell the Master what to do? How about I smack you around a little? Fix your dumb brains for you?

Glasses: (distractedly): Well, we… it’s not like we… We respect the Master very much! It’s just that we really need that temple fixed… we want to read. Real bad.

Hammer: (grudgingly): The Master knows best, what to fix and what not to fix. Now shut the hell up!

That’s when the Master came back, put his Glasses on and quickly finished fixing the window. He then saw the Crooked Nail on the floor, picked it up and, after giving it a once-over, threw it back into the tin can and closed it. “That isn’t right, a nail just lying on the floor,” he grumbled. “Every one need stok now his place.” He then put the tools and the can with nails and screws back into the closet without giving it any thought. Their life went back to usual: darkness, servitude, boredom, the gloom of incessant waiting and a snowball’s chance in hell of being able to change anything. As to the Master, it never even occurred to him that these wretched nails and screws, or what were they, could have dreams, or hopes, or even think. The things we take for granted…