Flowers in the paintings of Eleanor Shcheglova

Silent poetry of flowers

Ai-Petrinsky bouquet

Eleonora Shcheglova lives in Yalta. In 1976 she graduated from the Simferopol Art School, in 1984 - the Kiev Art Institute, department of monumental painting. But she was not a monumentalist for long, she was drawn to the canvas, flowers became her favorite nature.

Elya and I were brought together by a lucky chance. Resting in the Crimea, I ended up with her in one of the family feasts.

And very soon, amid the noise of the general conversation, I heard someone addressing me: "Would you like to see my work?" I never refuse such offers, and only asked: "When?" "Now," - said Elya, - "I live on Sadovaya Street, it's very close."


Fascinated and bewitched, I was the very first picture - "Asters". Fluffiness, bordering on airiness, skillfully selected background - a transparent lace curtain - created the feeling of a swaying, ringing, warm breeze.

I have not yet departed from the discreet charm of asters, and Elya was already opening the parade of exquisite, luxurious roses. And, exhibiting picture after picture, she said: “Roses are my favorite flowers, they are feminine and beautiful. I especially love climbing roses. "

I have seen plenty of towels with the queen of flowers in my life. But Elina's paintings were different. What was the matter, I somehow didn’t immediately understand until I heard the answer to my not yet asked question: “Because here, in Crimea, there is such transparent air and light,” and I, unable to restrain myself, continued: “ ... and the great taste of a talented artist. "


At some point, it seemed to me that I was so overwhelmed with impressions that I would no longer be able to perceive the following pictures as emotionally, and the "stack" of them was considerable.

And then Elya exhibited “Still Life with a Samovar”. A stunning riot of colors and a surprise association with the Little Dutch. Once I specially went to Leningrad to look at their magnificent still lifes in the Hermitage under the illumination of the bright, cold April sun. I saw them in the high gloomy halls of the Amsterdam galleries.

Elina's painting had the same rich composition, surprisingly close to the tradition of the old masters, painted coldish-shiny dishes, which perfectly combined with a bright hot autumn bouquet and the fruits of the hot south. And I had the impression that I, as it were, met again with my beloved little Dutchmen, but now - in the enveloping velvet of the Crimean autumn.

And Elya, meanwhile, exhibits a new painting - "Ai-Petrinsky Bouquet" - and says that she also loves to paint wildflowers, because she sees in them naturalness brought to the absolute. And, peering at the flowers she painted, I, a botanist, for the first time get imbued with the deep meaning of what was said and regret that I did not feel it before, did not notice it.

Climbing rose

This mountain Ai-Petrinsky bouquet is especially close to me. Once upon a time, together with my friend, a wonderful Crimean botanist Valentina Mikhailovna Kosykh, we searched for rare plant species in the mountains of Crimea, and noticed common ones as well.

We have been to the Ai-Petrinskaya Yayla more than once. And now, looking at this bouquet, where the smallest details characterizing the botanical species of plants are lovingly written out, I recall our botanical expeditions with an aching feeling and recognize each of the flowers with joy.

Here are the blue-purple sultans of a bruise widespread in Russia, easily recognizable cornflowers, chamomiles, graceful curls of alfalfa. On the left side of the bouquet there are more inhabitants of only the Crimean mountains: medium-sized yellow flowers of the sunflower, pink flowers of the Crimean Veronica, and throughout the picture there are purple balls of wild mountain onions.

Artist Eleonora Shcheglova

Eli combines photographic accuracy in depicting colors with a talented construction of a picture on a surprisingly harmonious combination of color relations.

This bright individuality of her work can be seen in all her works. And maybe that's why she so brilliantly manages to keep the mood of beauty and happiness of a sunny day on her canvases.

I will come to El more than once. I will come alone and with friends - employees of the Nikitsky Botanical Garden. And in memory of the spicy smells of mountain herbs, in memory of the Crimea, youth, friends, I will take with me to Moscow "Ai-Petrinsky bouquet". And also, not trusting memory, I will write down Elina's words: “I paint flowers because they are always beautiful, they have a lot of life, they are always different, joyful, very picturesque, in them I find silent, vivid poetry”.

Irina Isaeva,
Doctor of Agricultural Sciences

Flowers in the paintings of Eleanor Shcheglova - garden and vegetable garden

In the evening on the Dyatlovy Hills, not everyone could tell whether there would be sunrise again. It was worth seriously talking about it - swaying from heels to toes, they looked at the ceiling with their shaved foreheads, as if they were looking for underdogs or spiders, then they giggled, then they drilled something, like black wolf berries or henbane were overeating. Others, apparently shy of the first, spat only when they were bothering them, and brushed them off. Many had an idea about the pestilence once brought in by peddlers: they argued until they were hoarse, pounded on the table with their fists and, through a word, with foam on their lips, remembered Nav when they played dominoes. And they never heard of the change of day and night. There was no definite order in this, but exactly so it happened. Indeed, no matter where you came from, neither the true lie nor the formal truth was good. It happened - from ancient times, when it was very abundant along the backwaters and notches - a small fry, who had been darting around the gateways all day, jumped up and clung, turning up its nose in front of each other. Put them out and put them right away. They felt sorry for themselves, so they made up all sorts of things. It was said that the son of Svarog, the husband of Zarya-Zarevnitsa, the sun god Khors, while still a teenager, somehow passed near these places. I saw the Dyatlovy Hills with gnarled aspens, and warty stumps like fly agarics, and clouds of gnawing mosquitoes near the fallen banks, overgrown with a series of two-arshin hellebore. And he turned away. Others, from his own tribe, did not stay here either, although, the sly rumor says, there were no longer any homegrown aspens or stumps in the area. The big gods, you know, demand sea space, and those that are smaller in dignity supposedly did not like the aborigines themselves. This was a legend composed by stubborn people. Therefore, get up when you still can't see anything - sneaking between the bed and the wall, where with God's help, where at random, sit on a bent-legged stool in front of the window, covered with a crust of frost with a peephole made. And wait, making a prayer: maybe, as if etc.

Inspired by the epic epic, such a prologue was spinning in my head in its sluggish existence, while time was still flying, producing, as expected, its intricate patterns on glass. Where did it fly? and what is it, is this Time? Theorem. Perhaps he himself became the predicate of this theorem, its logical predicate, how did he get here? Again, alone with You, beloved, and with your restless thoughts, as if meeting the dawn for the first time. "What for?" - you probably ask. Well, maybe in order to remember themselves, they did not rely on beauty and did not forget about the surrounding phenomena in life, it would be better, not according to the rules. "And what the hell gave you all this?" - Lucidly, although not so pompously expressed Pink. But that was another question.

“The solar disk, oh you, the living all-loving! there is no other besides you! with your rays you make the eyes sound, the creator of all beings. Do you ascend in the eastern circle of light to pour out life to everything that you have created: people, four-legged, birds and all kinds of worms on earth, then they look at You and fall asleep when You enter! "

Tapping the sistras to the beat of the singing, without her crown and necklace, in an ingenious ruffled fine linen that fell from her shoulders, his wife, Queen Nefr-et, sat at the stern of the boat, which glided like a spindle in the flood waters of Hapi, gloomy at this time. An amber bunch of grapes, dates on a platter of ebony, and an amphora of pomegranate wine from the Western Stream were before her in her eyes, lowered to the water, there was humble hope and sadness. A smoke of resinous incense from a mixture of cedar, frankincense and cypress either curled as if bewitched at her breast, then, with little faith, broke into knees, as soon as the song died down, it was carried away freely, melting over the waves. And the speckled skins of the Kosh leopards under her feet, cassia and myrrh of the anointed, generously covered the bottom. At the bow of the barge, like the lookout Up-Wout that opened the paths, the outline of a baboon with a raised tail, according to descriptions usually with a silly elongated muzzle, was faintly outlined. At sunrise, that was to jump up and burst into joyful cries. But then he was gone. The ringing of sistres ceased all the clouding fog spreading over the impenetrable floodplain of the western coast. And the barge, wrapping itself as if in a shroud, sailed away.

Recalling this, he again plunged into the twilight of the past when he proclaimed the Disc of the Sun as the consubstantial truth of life. No matter what they said afterwards, he walked for a long time towards the realization of that and, as soon as his hour came, he did everything, as he imagined it, without belittling anything. True to his appeal, he ordered to remove from the paintings on the steles and from the walls of the tombs, built by the court army and nobles, as well as in magnifying from his own cartouche, the mention of the former deities, deciding to leave for the people only Titlo Re, who unites both lands with his mighty fiery right hand: as the progenitor of the universe. For this liberty, the power-hungry nobility Ne (since ancient times they were at enmity with Ne, the northern ones - He and Mengfe were still doubly devoted to him) secretly turned away from him, calling him an apostate in their hearts, and then betrayed the eternal anathema. Seeing this, he broke all ties with the opposite Ne. And he ordered to build a new capital on nobody's land, halfway from Ne to the Delta - the sunny Akhyot. All who were obedient to the tsar's call and were bright in their thoughts did not hesitate to work. From the north and south, the smoothly and efficiently erected city was surrounded by horseshoe mountains, rocky peaks, parting, descended by the river. And over its fruitful valley widening into the distance, not darkened by priestly flattery and treachery, the Day became.

“I am Eh-not-iot,” he said, “the spirit of Iot, the Father and the Son, the Sun! May my oath be unbreakable, just as this city will not disappear into oblivion: it created its own limits. And it will not be erased, it will not be washed away, it will not be cut down, it will not be lost forever, and it will not be allowed to disappear. But if he does disappear, if the stele on which he is depicted collapses, I will renew it in the same place!

The doctor listened with the corner of his ear and in between times watched the fly crawling on the table, barely touching its articulated legs, ready to hibernate. Reaching the ashtray in the form of a shoe, similar to those in which the apprentices had gone before, she sat down on her belly and began to poke the chebot's knit with her oval stigma with a hollow proboscis. He seemed tempting to her, she tried to climb higher, but could not resist the smooth glaze, fell off and, tired, began to rub the sticky wings.

The recipient did not like the diptera's convulsions, he was upset with the results of the two previous medical examinations. He got this strange patient as if on purpose immediately after his vacation. And he passed almost without a breath among the hassle of arranging a mortgage cottage. (Fazenda with flower beds, so this is - for the aesthetic pleasures of the wife, praedium silvestre - for colleagues, for myself, so - a breakthrough!) The fly had nothing to do with it, the more I wanted to knock it down. But he didn’t know how best to do it: he was afraid to knock the ashtray on the floor - not just what the object was, but still memorable in the image of his student days.And then, having already done the execution in his mind, he thought that in the eyes of his sister such an act would look unflattering. Reluctantly, he looked up from the insect behind his glasses.

"Is Spirit Iota also your name?"

The name was a real punishment whenever and wherever it sounded. So I had to be ready for the trench of misunderstanding, to explain everything again. Moreover, the tricky question seemed to be not only of professional interest.

- Yes and no. The spirit of Iota is a sacrament, as a reflection of the Father inherent in it.

For persuasiveness, he pointed to a lattice opening with open staple curtains, where a radiant halo flamed:

They were both the Father and the Son. The luminary itself was ancient, but every day, appearing in this world, it was transformed, and, remaining the same ...

- Perhaps delusional compensation, confabulation? There are signs of conversion, speech is poorly constructive, although there are no stable symptoms.

A man sitting in an armchair, about forty-five, with ravines of bald patches in the shape of the letter psi, and of a dense build, - a wide South Asian face, as if a hand asphalt roller had driven over it, a third behind smoky windows, with a five-altyn iodine lentigine on his cheek, - wrinkling his forehead, looked through his glasses at the nurse, who was neatly scribbling her anamnesis:

- Note that he gives onyms in Greek or Coptic, which was not there at that time. Whatever one may say, but one and a half millennia, for the eighteenth dynasty, is an anachronism. And how did they manage without vowels? Try to pronounce something in this language? The immortality of the soul, as far as I understand, is an endless inner space. Ad infinitum... That's all. And the name is Nefertiti, you know? Beautiful came... Although from their point of view, I think it is wrong. When there is no time, is it possible to say came, all the more about beauty? No, beauty - goes, they have it outside the past, everything is in the present.

Having finished the previous line, the sister stopped her stylus over the paper. She tried to guess how the tirade would end, and felt the look of her superiors, which penetrated her to the liver. According to rumors that reached her from the time of her lethal relationship with the local resident, she was "still free", and she was still of such an appearance that she did not have to be bored in the military environment of psychiatric luminaries.

Thinking about beauty, the doctor's finger straightened over the table and described a loop in the horizontal plane.

- Pardon me, what now? What did the Latin world with its plutocratic paganism, and even Christianity, give us? Memento, quia pulvis: remember that you are dust! Yes. Is something still unfashionable? Amenhotepov with this symptomatology for six months has never happened!

Akhenaton- he corrected. - Wa'nre N'frhep'rure... As you please.

But the doctor looked at the nurse: like a schoolboy blurting out something at the blackboard. Apparently, he was once an excellent student.

The sister smiled shyly. Her free hand in the sleeve ironed and tied at the wrist, as if obeying an inner impulse, lay down on a stack of neatly folded papers, straightened the glued fold, hesitated, got up and touched the lapel of the robe on the chest. With her crossed fingers, the ring with an ureus on the ring, symbolizing power, she must have given him a sign. Then, from under her narrowed eyebrows, she looked. Did you find out or not?

Just in case, he smiled at her too. In her features (meaning sisterhow it was perceived by both Rehit and Nemkha in that era, in his soul it was not separated from - beloved) the sensual lips were connected, and in the folds of the mouth there was like a forced meekness. This created in her appearance the complete opposite of the condescending inaccessibility that Nefr-et conquered. The one sitting opposite reminded him of Kiya, his second faithful ...

- One more or the second, faithful? The first one, what did you cheat on?

Kiya the nurse looked inquisitively again. Have him there was a thin neck, prominent cheekbones, an egg-shaped elongated skull, which should have given him in the eyes of the common people signs of godlikeness, and skinny ankles.In the end, it flashed through my head, they could not be too lazy to check it through some portal.

While the sister was busy with her notes, the doctor took out a lighter from his dressing gown, a pack with a stunted dromedar in the picture and put it in front of him on the edge of the table.

- So you are married, as I understand it: a wife, a concubine, therefore, there are children. How did you end up here? Something really, my dear, far from Egypt!

He took a cylinder of a lighter set in brass, pointed it at it and began, like a magician, to drive back and forth, at the same time examining the reaction.

The weakened fly near him, meanwhile, overcame the fear of crashing and made courageous attempts to conquer the summit. It looks like she was tempted by the hole in the side of the cigarette shoe, but she could not get to the slot, she fingered with two paws, clung to the sheer coffee-white glaze, but, exhausted, could not hold, fell. Then, probably deciding to return here in the next life, she flashed with veined lamellar wings and flew away.

Having interrupted his manipulations, the doctor, together with the chair of thirty degrees, turned in the same direction, as if speaking to the object of irritation adieu... With a balding temple, he looked at the nurse and spoke in his mind another short parting word, no longer in French. After completing its dying glide path in front of the windowsill, the fly landed on the glass behind the curtain, buzzed there again, in agony, and probably gave up its ghost. Without turning around, he took off his glasses and began to wipe them on the edge of his robe.

- Besides, the weakness of convergence, in my opinion. You yourself have not been there? Black earth: Kemet, as if. They also call her beloved: Ta-Meri... Lined either by the Mamluks, or by erosion, such as the leper Sphinx without a nose. And the yellowish Nile, dotted with feluccas: river... Or here is Abu Simbel in the rock, then Karnak with its limestone pylons. Gigantomania, I'll tell you. And the current architecture, by the way, is odd. They were in no hurry to live, what was really there: they chewed their figs before leaving, so that they could refresh their memory, remember the taste and return later. I forgot what they call him there. Yes fig, or fig, all one ...

As he lit a cigarette, he glanced at the ashtray, as if not sure if the fly had flown away.

- Have you been on vacation yet? have you already mapped out somewhere? Sorry, sorry! Nothing seems to have changed for them, all the same fables about ibises and phoenixes. I'm sorry, what? - looking at the lined sky outside the window, he flicked a lighter near his lips with a clutched cigarette. - Oh, did you hear? Well, yes, the age of new technologies, I forgot. Although, you know, Herodotus still has these miracles. And then, where to rush, when there is no time or death in our sense. Memento, quia pulvis! Memento, quia… You understand? And at least that! They loved beer and cats.

A thick puff of smoke spread over the table with a note crushed by a loose-leaf calendar - "borrow in advance from Osterman", twisting its mane, flowed along the trachea into the lungs of the sister.

«Self-confident asshole!She thought.

For some reason, remembering again about his wife, who had gone to her parents for a couple of days, and about the cottage, the doctor intercepted her with a polished, polite look.

- Identity disorder, I suppose. You can specify the abbreviation only - DRI. Well, maybe ... And who examined him?

He took the nurse's medical history and began to flip through hastily, humming and muttering. As is typical for arrogant and pedantic people, he was killed by official disorder. His fingers moved along the lines of four - where clearly, where sloppily scribbled sheets to the very end and from the end back to the beginning.

Quid? Ubi? Quando? Nec hoc nec illud!1 As I thought, hmm.

Whatever you say, all people crave, if not the truth, then at least consolation. In the many different circumstances of how he got here, there was no secret for a long time, and, nevertheless, at the risk of looking ignorant, I had to remind myself of myself.

His beloved daughter Ankhnes, as he affectionately called her, married a puny youth, in whom, they were assured, also had his blood.And not so much by mutual attraction, if judged by his insufficient age - and unsuccessful. With the filing of clever courtiers, the successors of the feeble mind eradicated everything related to the new call and established the old order. The bright capital, the sunny Akhyot, orphaned, fell into decay: it was given up for desecration, as an abandoned granary without a livestock soon died out alive and fragrant, depressingly emptied. But the faithful remained. Therefore, when the enemies burst into his last bedchamber in the capital city, the coffin was not found. With great malice, which did not do them honor, they chopped everything up in his funeral church, and scattered small fragments fiercely along the deaf ravines, as they did with renegades during hard times. At this time, his friends were transporting him secretly on donkeys, covering him with a pile of rags from idle eyes on the roads. And they buried here, on the left bank of the beautiful river, in its valley, then not yet polluted with gas, free: opposite the wayward Ne.

The doctor put the half-smoked cigarette in the ashtray and wrote something down on the loose-leaf calendar.

“So you’re not there?” And what about the parents? Do you remember them well? You never answered: who did you love more - mother or father?

In the questionnaire, this was a weak point: his mother, Teye, did not belong to the royal house, the priests and the nobility were against it. The name of his father, which the commoners identified with polytheism, he also had to erase from the steles.

My sister didn’t look up from the letter, she listened as if on duty only.

- Do you always have such an interesting manner of expressing yourself? We've already met once, remember? And why do you talk about yourself in the third person?

She asked this, as if out of curiosity, casually and inattentively, as women pronounce it when they cook or knit something. Her drooping eyelids with a waid border covered her gaze. Or had she already behaved so prudently so as not to arouse suspicion, wanted to protect him from future ordeals, let her know so that he would not flatter himself too much?

He thought what to say. There was no friendship between them yet, although even after friendship it would be difficult to call it: depending on what, of course, it is applied and how to use it. As soon as he turned to her internally, as soon as he imagined her next to her, she found herself right there with a pen and her notebook.

“Do you remember anything else? Well, maybe not yourself, but these are yours Ka and Ba

She pronounced "these yours" without a trace of hypocrisy, not at all like others did. Then she sat down side by side on a stool. And if he was weak, she gave him something to drink to keep him awake. Playing along with her, he was sure that he was in Per-hai - the "house of jubilation", where the festivities of the Thirty Years were held and at a large feast, giving praise to the laws of the kingdom, all were righteous in their hearts and serene. Then, when the wall was gone, they read her notes together. They didn't care whether it was Per-hai or not. They did not regret anything: what was around was no longer there. Hoping that they had parted with the smallest, they did not expect anything else: not knowing the worries and time, behaved like children, no one could hinder them in their pranks, since no one saw them. And every day they were born anew. And they did everything that they could not before.

In what we, often inappropriately, call the past, life has decreed that he is forced to start his story from the most inspired side. Over time, he completely forgot how to believe in coincidences: in the snares of Providence, when it sends down troubles, there is probably a calculation of his own - to make him think. Sometimes we still think. Although we are usually busy with something else before the appointed time, we are in a hurry be in time, to see and grasp everything at once, and, moreover, without even realizing whether we need all this and why.

He received the news about his father with a dubious delay, on a training ground, which had been dug in by infantry, smoggy, pitted by tanks and brave, somewhere between Lvov and Zhitomir: it may be interesting for someone. Topographically, the landing point was marked with a cross with a pinned flag on the map.Launched from the halyard of the exhaust, stabilizing part and pulled out after the slings from the uncoupled valve on the knapsack, the dome behind the back opened instantly. Well, if it’s in slang, so - with the agility of a dog that broke loose from the chain, and this is like intestines outward, in the words of Chaliapin. He was a great expert at all sorts of horror stories and each time, recalling the background of his concussion, he thought of something and added to it. (Not believing in omens slob, now he began to swear, but what is so and what is wrong, of course, you do not know). At the convulsive thought of Chaliapin under the fuselage of the receding belly "Annushka" he was shaken sensitively. No, everything turned out okay, without punctures, as if written. For a long time no longer a beginner, he packed his equipment himself and was accustomed to dynamic jerks, but for some reason drew attention to this... A moment later, soaring like an archangel to the ground on the straps of the parachute, not yet knowing what awaited him there, and not without heartfelt sarcasm remembering the deaf Chaliapin, he still managed to admire the bluish haze of bird cherry and the wild plums blooming around.

In his Ivanovo, which for some was to the "northeast of Moscow" and, thus, just one of the many points on the tablet, he arrived only the next morning on a passing cargo-passenger slug. Yes, and not so much regretting that he was late (the funeral that had lingered somewhere was sent a couple of days before), but worrying about how his mother would find him. He, as before, saw her without her father, alone. Her face was remembered as an ageless photo from a family album when she was not yet thirty. Her hair, trimmed under oblique bangs, blond hair, pinned back with a comb in the form of chamomile petals, did not know despondency, all noticing her eyes and like a smile ashamed of herself, in which there was a scent of Caucasian charm from her great-grandmother. What colors can you use to describe all this? In it, a magical world came to life with balloons tied with pastille ribbons, especially somehow smelling like Christmas trees for Christmas and Easter cakes. On Easter, when she was in the early April frost, from all over the neighborhood all homeless people flocked to them. And the chillisnik of a heated Dutch woman, to whom everyone was leaning, warming their backs in their bag-like dolls and Armenians (for some reason, his father called their robes belted with thick belts, like those of the Franciscan monks in the picture), smelled of rawhide, caraway tincture came out with a couple of praises, and it became cramped, festive and hot in the house. His consciousness also contained a collection of skeletons of lizards, worm-like exuvia of dragonflies, elytra of rhinos, leaf beetles and other beetles, which he found, of course, "independently", according to the entomological atlas. Then, moreover, magnificent herbariums of those wildflowers and herbs that they loved to collect, walking along the meadow together behind the stream, numbered and in a mother's even handwriting in Latin. When he was not yet six, he remembered how his mother taught him to retell and draw, what he saw during the day, and what he would like to draw from memory. And he diligently drew oval or square figures in a notebook with legs turned to the sides like pokers and multi-colored circles, which they carried, holding by strings, over their heads raised to the sky. Such was this world, created by her vigilant vigilance, at any moment accessible to perception, knowing no boundaries and at the same time intelligently intimate. He was not yet properly born, but with all the pores of his soul he had already idolized her.

When he approached, she always looked at him through the view of the architraves burning like sunflowers, moving from one window to another, through the fringed wavy tulle that amazed the child's imagination. Noticing from a distance his taut, well-proportioned figure, she bowed her head restraining joy on her face, crossing herself with a pinch mechanically, as her mother once did. Then, already restlessly, she walked to the threshold.

A silk twisted cord with a cut off loop on a rusty crutch and, as evidence, also confiscated by the inquiry, was still hanging by the hood in the attic.

Father was buried the day before, in a closed boarded-up coffin, due to some alleged bureaucratic overlap, bypassing the house, delivered to the cemetery in an ambulance from the morgue. (The car was also described as suspicious, with a tiny filthy window on a covered body and pinkish-gray like a repainted prison funnel.) In the materials of the investigation case with carelessly blurred lines, which he later tracked down, "the reasons for the suicide" remained sealed. Trying not to touch the past, they did not talk much with their mother then. But over time, when he tried to find out at least something, she reluctantly returned to this unhappy topic. Subjected to self-censorship, her crumpled story was cut off in the same place. Sparing him, she let something out, awkwardly averted her eyes and turned the conversation into another direction. He never rebuked her for this restraint. But in the main it was like this.

In the late forties, then still careless newlyweds, who had been divorced before the war, his parents, who loved each other without memory, taught in high school. Perhaps the ardent open love of two young teachers cut someone's eyes (in connection with the loss of their loved ones). An overly headstrong father, a historian, was once reproached for neglecting the "role of personality" in his lessons. Sincere in everything, the mother adhered to strict convictions, everyone knew her from the city Hall of Fame, she was an example for both her colleagues and students. Frowning, she paused here and did not want to say what he answered. The former Latvian teacher, the son of a red Latvian rifleman and a Russified Polish governess, blindly avoided the Gulag. Probably this is not relevant, but on the surviving amateur portrait hanging on the wall by the mantelpiece, the grandmother, who knew very well from the Kiev gymnasium who hit her and later became the people's commissar - Tolya Lunacharsky, was not at all "proletarian": in a frivolous hood tied under the chin and with a volume of La Rochefoucauld, astride a trotter. The case, no matter how terrible it may sound, was both ordinary and exceptional in its way: a wave of arrests took place in the city then, but out of four of his cellmates who were detained on similar charges, he survived only. Beaten and depressed, when he returned, he did not immediately discover that the carpet and two paintings, which had been bought for the day of the engagement, were no longer in the apartment - a la Monet, the dowry of the wife.

“They didn’t believe me, who taught children the truth! I am a liar!"

Subsequently, when he started drinking, this thought became obsessive to him.

Deprived of front-line awards, dismissed from school, he could not get a job on the profile of education. Then he went to this factory: he was still allowed to make office tables.

Distributing shag and bone glue-making dope, the workshops stood right there, on the edge of the ravine. Their house was in a row of others and, as it were, a little to the side. Retrieved from his grandfather who had never lived here and completed, he was on a green quiet street, which with its tight-fisted way of the former village, chickens and ganders grazing on the lawns by the porches and weakening the attention of strangers by deserted people during the day, still claimed the outskirts. Father was jarred by the hubbub of squabbles and swear words coming from the backyards. When he poured his misfortune, even if something annoyed him, he never used foul language himself, although he drank heavily, the artisans could not forgive such a vice.

“Never drink! And don't shout at anyone. If you are unsure of yourself, leave first. And don't trust anyone! Remember, the better you are, the worse you are. "

Statikov gazed openly at his father, who was evidently out of sorts. In adults, this happens when they say something and need to be listened to. Here, fortunately, his mother appeared and took him away from sin. There were many such scenes, and he already clearly remembered this.

A week later, without really finding out anything, he left home with curd cakes and pies in a bundle. As he walked along the path from the porch, his mother, bareheaded, stood at the gate under the summer drizzle that covered the sky. And next to her, as if she had also turned gray, was a willow tree with a swing. Having already gone around the bend, in the dangling empty swing, he suddenly saw himself.

The Guards regiment in which he served was located immediately behind the ring road, near a white-trunked curly grove. She was famous and met everyone with a wide-leaved sycamore that stood like a doorman in front of the roadside. It was swept a mile away from the turn and therefore was in different generations as a beacon for the townspeople. At the beginning of summer and closer to autumn, it was especially elegant here. From the watchtowers that stood along the perimeter of the army fortified area drowning in the foliage, the sentry with carbines trampled there through the horn of the binocular device could see the lawns colored with self-assembled tablecloths, where old and young played catch-up, shady shelters of solitary couples and near them - combing cover of neurasthenic stubborn mushroom pickers. An immature, unconscious appeal to this dramatic spectacle was not allowed. From the center of the city there was a big top painted with circus advertising, like an African cockatoo, a tram. A stubby, the carriage rolled along the busy streets with that choleric carelessness, which was now out of place, annoyed. Lackey clingy bigotry as disorder in actions and words he felt from childhood. This common human vice could hardly be attributed to some prevailing fatality or linked to a personal cult, he thought, which now, as a bankrupt totem, was condemned. People, of course, behaved like people, it happened that they were a little hypocritical, until something personally touched them and sometimes, even with a bitter delay, did not sober. With a sophisticated inclination to simultaneously take out everything on others, under the guise of flattering justice or perseverance, he was almost the same and grumbled. Humiliated, he seemed to be a prisoner in a surrendered tower, in the invincibility of which he was sure. In truth, he disliked his father, finding him already deprived of charm and weak, moreover, he was undeservedly jealous of his mother, but becauseabout I knew my soul was seething.

On the neighboring side of the grove, opposite the unit, there was an overgrown noble churchyard: a brown brick wall, all in cracks, evoking sadness and resounding with marching songs in a counter-march, the ledges stretched behind the spine of the parade ground to a girder with a copse. On weekends, the parade ground rested because of the folded-back transom at the corner of the barracks, where under the leadership of the stingy Chaliapin there was a soldier's locker, the smash hit about the robin was boringly heard ... Although Chaliapin's face had a scar on the gristly bridge of his nose from childhood, and from the deep unfriendliness of nature to him, it was as if it had been cut down with the help of a blunt cleaver or a metal chisel, he was not at all the daring daredevil that he was now considered in the garrison. Before his heroic injury, he was reputed to be the kind of behavior that is spoken of by “his own on the board” and “shirt-guy”. At the shooting ranges, he was concussed: he was slightly wounded in the leg and became half deaf. His hearing should have been restored, as he was told at the hospital when he was discharged, since the auditory nerve was not affected. But he was a complete orphan, from the Vitebsk boarding school, he did not want to register for any one. He was simple-hearted, but not a sucker: as it should, he oiled the foreman, who soon left, then concocted a report to the general and began to manage the warehouse.

The schlyager was rhythmic, life-affirming: everyone knew that Chaliapin needed to develop his own hearing, no one scolded him for it. A languid female voice repeated the chorus: “Fly robin, fly! " And those who passed by, thinking about the upcoming demobilization, dismissively plugging their thumbs behind the convex copper belts on their tunics, broke their steps and sang along, paraphrasing in their own manner:

The chipped wall, in dense acacia and hazel thickets, was dozing before the invasion of love couples.

On one of the layoffs, his legs brought him here. Wandering through the cemetery, he tried to decipher the reason for this, although he was hardly fully aware then. In our expired love, we often stir up the graves of loved ones, disturb their peace, sometimes physically, not only in our thoughts. Does longing move us? envy? or disappointment? Indistinctly thinking about this, along the path disappearing into the alder forest, he walked along the carved bas-reliefs and calvary with a reddish fringe of moss at the bases, sliding on the turf with butts, peering behind the open slabs of the crypts. Probably, as he realized later, this itch of age-related daring and curiosity manifested itself in this climbing through the old churchyard: looking into the pits that once served as graves, he himself did not know what he was looking for. In the dank darkness, tilted or fallen tiers of planks were everywhere, and stinking trash rotting beneath them. Was he late for the funeral, by chance or not? Where did this funnel come from with people sullenly crawling out of it? whose corpse was brought in it? Did the pathologists mutilate my father like that? Or did you really need to hide something and the coffin, so they nailed it? What would he do if he was there? Suppose he could insist that the red-top lid be removed. But whatever he saw, what would it change? And the mother would not have endured, such a sight could completely kill her, all the more so if everything he thought about turned out to be true. With annoyance, returning in his thoughts to the day when he was handed the funeral, tormented by doubts and himself already considering the oppression in his soul as God's punishment, he worried that he had not been able to say goodbye to who he was, in fact in fact, very expensive. He reproached his deceased father with half-childish intolerance, although in his heart he understood that this attitude was unfair. His father was dear to him by what he gave, without knowing it himself, spiritually. What do the violent death and the hammers of the undertakers accustomed to all mean before this connection? The living either forgive much or do not notice in their loved ones that for which they later become indebted to themselves, as in an unpaid answer, think about it and unconsciously pay tribute to the dead. And can you part with what has grown together with you spiritually?

Keeping to the left, in order to go out again to the same groove in the wall through which he climbed, he made his way between the graves, no longer looking into the crypts. Probably, he had not yet passed half of the mental circle when he felt that something had changed in his perception. As a manifestation of his protective self, which at that time was still vaguely distinguished, did not know its full significance, this time he experienced it for the first time. The stern face of his father, as he never knew it, looked like the face of the Old Testament Egova from all sides, as if giving instructions, looked. And this image, created by his weakened spirit, helped out, again filled with determination and strength.

Pondering whether to turn back immediately, through a curtain of weeping willow, four meters between the graves, he noticed a female figure. The cemetery here dropped to a ravine, and there was honeydew on the branches bent to the ground. The opportunity to meet someone here was so negligible that he froze with a sinking heart in the middle of the path. Nearby was a fallen dry tree, from behind the rotting trunk of which, in the thickets covered with cobwebs, far away, as through a crack in a keyhole, a bas-relief was looking with a swollen eye. The burials behind him were swallowed by the thicket. He remembered well that he heard how somewhere with a crunch broke off and fell, shuffling over the leaves, the trill of a nightingale, which slightly brightened up the desolation around, broke off and in the distance only shouted squeaky racketeers the sound of a jay. The grave in front of the willow and alder, with the earrings not yet darkened, was a blooming island among the overgrown nettles and weeds. Taking a step closer, he parted the sticky panicles.

Curly hair hid the girl's shoulders.She was so preoccupied with her thoughts that she did not hear his steps, like a statue, with her hands clasped in a lock, she was sitting on the grass. At the gravestone boulder, among the spread out tulips, a light glowed like an icon lamp in front of the icon case. It was a stub of candles: on a wooden round, with a drip of wax, it had almost all melted and burned out. As if from the breeze he raised, a sharp flame stirred, puffed up with smoke and squeezed on a crippled pea flagellum. The girl covered the wick with her palm, and a ring flashed like a turquoise under a ray of light breaking through the alder. Bending down, she whispered something, then her shoulders shuddered, she, with a low cry, turned around. And he saw a face in the hut of hair, charmingly young and proud.

Skąd pan tu? where are you from?

He hesitated, his hand took off the landing blue beret with the cockade ... So, in front of the grave - she is at the stone, on the clover planted near, and he is still in his ambush, they met. Angela was from Krakow, she graduated from school there, - “liceum ogólnoksztaƚcące”She said, still squatting cautiously and forgettingly switching over to her native language. But he should not be surprised to see her here, she added as an excuse: now there are no classes, summer holidays at the Lyceum!

Wakacje, rozumie pan?

He confirmed that he "understands." Then, where, understanding, where, guessing the meaning of the turns of her speech, he also found out that here she was visiting her bardzo świetnej, bardzo drogiej a half-Polish relative and that her grandfather was buried in the cemetery.

In front of the abandoned chapel, before reaching the hole in the broken wall, they parted. Movement was hampered by the ceremonial-exit uniform. At the same time, the conversation did not go well, resolutely disagreeing with what he had been thinking about before. And the meeting flashed before him as if in a haze.

The next morning, in the peacefully snoring barracks, this haze cleared away, and he desperately scolded himself. Imagine only, he said to himself, barely opening his eyes at the very uncomfortable, caressing bed that seemed to him: at the most “fateful moment” (here he did not spare artistic paints!) The girl appeared like an icon from nowhere and disappeared. And besides her name, which no longer went out of his mind, he did not know anything else to find her. He recalled her ingenuous question, from amazement innocently and seductively parted as for a kiss the lips of a mermaid like malachite eyes ... And he felt he needed her. Thoughts about my father did not become secondary from this, did not dissipate in the least, but seemed to have acquired a new tonality. He reproached himself, but, trying to figure them out, he noticed that everything he thought about was woven like lace into one thing... It goes without saying that all this, in its order, immediately connected with her - with her eyes, voice, lips, and discouraged any desire for complex inferences.

On the next weekend, he made the next excursion to the cemetery. He did not immediately manage to find that very grave with a memorial unmarked boulder. Only the initials were engraved on the semi-suede metal plate on top. M... and K.. Although he had hope in his heart, the girl was not here. He immediately composed a note and put it at the foot of the stone, for faithfulness pressing it to the ground with a wooden round covered with wax. At the same time, he considered the round itself, which could have previously served as a stand for the decanter. Then the decanter fell, he thought. It seemed to him that the girl was holding him in her arms, and that at one moment she was distracted by something: presumably, a very responsible scene outside the window. The decanter, having slipped out tactlessly, broke, the stand, therefore, became unnecessary. Not realizing to himself a clear account of why he was doing this, he, like a pagan, bowed to the stone near the alder. Then, deciding that it was stupid to leave a note, and also, fearing prying eyes, he took his clumsy message and put the brought flowers to the grave. When he left, then, stopping over the nettles, now and then turned around: it seemed that Angela was about to appear. Not heeding his persistent pleas, she did not appear.And after that, having completely lost his peace, he got up and lay down with thoughts of her.

And so, three weeks later, fate again obsequiously brought them together in the peasant market. Apparently, because he constantly pondered about their meeting, he met the girl as he imagined, as he remembered and imagined. Angela was in a lily summer dress trimmed with scallops on the sleeves and hem, the same light-colored pumps, and in gymnasium socks with a lilac border around her tanned calves. Her stubbornly outlined chin in a half-profile and a turquoise, like a ring, a hairpin on the back of her head in her hair tied in two bundles, swam depraved in front of him in a senseless crowd near the hills of early-ripening imported cherries. She was so busy solving economic issues that she did not look in his direction, did not notice anything. Following her, he repeated the memorized phrase, which then immediately melted in his mind. Then, stopping half a step, he watched as a bag of cherries rolled up in a horn moves excitedly from the counter into the bag.

Dzieñ dobry, panna! Jestem bardzo cies ...2

It was an annoying but coincidentally happy moment. The girl understood everything at once, took him by the arm, as if leaving him alone for a minute, and they went somewhere. So she was expecting a meeting too?

Without a word, they reached the exit from the bazaar, where they were selling flowers. Angela slowed down, glancing around, and both plunged into a sea of ​​smells. The gaze was buried in pink terry daisies, cherry-bluish motley asters, multi-eyed sword gladioli, sultans of purple verbena and bluish-red phlox, planted either in homemade boxes resembling the shape for Easter cottage cheese, or in purchased unpainted pots. He looked for tulips, but they must have faded. The girl held his hand. She looked at a jug of garden daisies, in front of which a flying bumblebee circled, testing the inflorescences.

There was little cash in his pockets. But the compassionate old woman at the sight of them immediately conceded everything for almost nothing. Throwing the bag over her shoulder, Angela took the bouquet with both hands, pressed the stems to her chest. And they both walked on. If he wanted to say something, he forgot everything. A hitherto unknown and uncontrollable reality took possession of him: they could be silent and enjoy it. And those around them were also not up to them. You could walk like this for a whole century and just admire! There was a comfortable bench in the square near the Latin Cathedral. They sat down on it side by side and began to eat the amber-golden cherries that were on the stalks. Having felt the berries, they, foolingly, brought them to their lips, bit off the fruit, then at the same time spat the seeds over their shoulders, and both - as if it was the right thing to do - laughed.

Cherries in a bag rolled up in a horn, I had to admit, there was absolutely nothing left. About ten meters away, a fountain with a dragon was rustling in an iridescent glow from the splashes: the jets pouring out of their mouths cast black in the sun, water dust was blown away by the wind towards the bench. It smelled like the freshness of the big river and pears. Angela held a ball of berries at her thigh, which was covered with flat folds at the hem. Flowers in a spreading sheaf lay on her lap, as if she had just picked them. Thinking that he was studying those, he saw her lips next to him, felt her breath under the straining bodice of her dress ... he wanted to accomplish something incongruous, with inevitability enticing, to ruin the wondrous moment. And he was silent.

Ahead of his inclinations, she glanced slyly sideways:

"Do you want me to say something first?"

Well, yes, he wanted it. She was incredibly close, and I still could not believe in this reality. The desire to touch her flared up and shyly melted away. He felt her, but he did not move from cowardice. What if he thinks all this?

“You are silent about me, I know,” she said so quietly that he was afraid to miss something. - But it's better than words, they have little meaning. As you wanted, that's how it turned out, right? How do you feel? do you see what's already yours?

- You know. Don't make it up! Now there is just me and you. There is only us: I am like you and you are like me.Don't you find? the world differs not so much in colors as in their shades, halftones. See what magenta is it? and these velvet streams. Nature is also happy. But there is also sorrow in this, do you notice?

What language did they speak?

Angela caught his hand in her lap, somewhere under the flowers, squeezed it in her small palm and quickly raised it to her lips. Water pollen sprinkled on her eyelashes.

He had to finish this phrase himself: there was a rumble of thunder. From a low cloud that had ripened from somewhere, a warm rain suddenly poured out. Angela knew it was going to rain. Throwing her arms out to the sides, she leaned back on the rungs of the bench, put her face under the frequent drops, closed her eyes and froze with a kind of satanic sweet smile. The thunderstorm continued to spread, as if a raging dragon in their honor threw thunder and lightning on the sides. A part of the city was still illuminated by slanting streaks of light, but in the near overhanging edge of the cloud something was threateningly mixed, changing outlines, as if a heavy, cloudy lead was slowly melting in its depths. The day seemed to be getting dark: the trade stalls behind the alley and the adjacent facades of buildings clouded with a brain veil. The eaves, three chiseled queens, turrets on the bell tower near the cathedral, which they had previously examined, puzzling over whether it was Baroque or Renaissance, and what they could mean, became illegible. Then it all disappeared, and the rain, washing away the city dust from the roofs and leaves, poured like a bucket. The alley on both sides disappeared under the water. In front of the bench, streams flowed and froth, and in the fiery discharges that overshadowed the sky, one could see how in the turbid puddles near the fountain, furiously swell, hiss and immediately, alternating, bursting running bubbles.

Everything turned out the way he imagined: the unknown descended and torn off the ground. And Angela must have controlled it:

Prshydz! pshyjdz! pshyjdz!

Surely, she called to her not only raindrops, and something was about to happen. Taking an example from her, he also threw back his head and began to repeat:

There was no time for gradations and shades: to take off their shoes, grab her by the hand, and run.

Soaked through to the skin, the rain died down suddenly, as it began. They sat as if on a raft that emerged from the stormy waters. The girl, laughing, dangled her legs above the ground in her knee-highs and looked up. As if forgetting about him for a moment, she looked and looked. And how, from her gaze, the sky above the cathedral blossomed like a rainbow: the shining seven-flowered rocker, flashing, threw itself across the city, to the still-covered with fog crosses of churches on the mountain. Then the sun peeped out from behind the departing cloud, touched the dark pointed onions, warmly and splendidly illuminated them, and the rainbow faded. Angela pulled the hairpin out of her hair - streams were still running from her wet strands, and threw her hands up to the sky ... Unable to bear it, he lifted it up. She did not resist at all, she was quite bodily and supple, moreover, light as a dandelion. When he raised her, she managed to grab the flowers. She threw them now over her shoulder like a newlywed and burst into serene laughter, as if bells were ringing back. Above them stretched a boundless, clear vault. He carried her and carried her. And the girl threw chamomile first and then behind her shoulders ... There was no end to the alley. A white petal train fell on the asphalt mirror and whirled, amusing passers-by.

Such is the story. Whether there was anything unusual in her, judge for yourself. In some ways he, perhaps, a little dramatized it, keeping it as a talisman in his mind, in something, maybe a little embellished, but without any purpose, not in essence. Two years later, everything that had happened to him and this girl was already revealed to him as to a traveler walking into the distance, in an immense mental retrospective. In real life, shyly hiding her grin behind a carnival mask, they parted with Angela. Ridiculous, but it was as a foregone conclusion: the girl's vacation was over, she had to return to Krakow. And at that time he received a letter.Mother asked for advice: sick and barely waiting for a pension, tired of malignant language, she wanted to move. Between the lines, he realized that she already had an exchange in mind - to a large industrial center in the neighboring region, where life, she thought, was better. But what could he answer from afar? Knowing the value of kindness and happiness, the mother was not particularly practical. After the move, her hopes did not come true, and the monetary supplement from the sale of the garden, which she hoped for, turned out to be not so great, in no time. And it so happened that he never returned to the city of his youth.

Further, probably, and at all could be written off, as the fugitive monks said in the Middle Ages, to the treachery of the wheel of Fortune and the opposition of the planets. In his biography, polished later as a saga, in one single paragraph, although with a patriotic epure, even after those years he could not find himself known: everything turned out as if a bad joke, someone's unreasonable fiction. Work on the assembly line of an automobile plant, where he immediately got a job, in the hope of getting decent housing then - almost ending with a shin injury, participation in eventing sports, with the offset of all certificates of honor and other awards, almost completely erased from memory, if not his. Apparently, that is why he omitted the details when he was questioned: after all, nothing in the sublunary world is given for free, and life was not only for him. Thinking about the future, which at that time was still included in his horizons separately, without a dual merging with the past or the present, he did not blame fate and did not fall into despair from bouts of blues. And yet, not finding himself in the tumultuous passage of time, borrowing excess strength from the past, no, no, he turned his gaze back: perhaps, into a courtly and ugly era, embraced by the sign of comets, the invasion of leprosy, vesicles of smallpox and a plague, whether he was a vagant or a buffoon, wouldn't life seem like this? However, he only charged himself. But living with these ideas was all the more worthless. Resourceful, he was naturally stubborn. And little by little, shutting himself up, like a warlock in his cell, he began to explore the library, which, long before the tragedy, supplied with its own catalog and a laconic summary commentary in a notebook lined in two obliques, had been compiled by his father especially for him.

The catalog was systematic, it consisted of nine sections, including both original works and translations, and, in addition, there were about a dozen books marked in the margins as "Greek" and "Lat". Moving forward along the description, he found that the titles of the books are not arranged in alphabetical order, but in a gradually increasing thematic order as the range of time decreases and deeper into any issue, while with obligatory links to how the same topic is covered in other sources. Having made a preliminary review of all the literature listed in the catalog, he thought that it might not be worthwhile to blindly follow the specified sequence. I wanted to quit the search as soon as possible, settle down more comfortably in my closet and start reading. But he continued to study his father's beaded handwriting on the margins delimited by a double line: his hand did not recognize solid signs, putting apostrophes instead, the lowercase "p", "p" and "a" almost merged when they stood in pairs or alternated, and the letter " d 'everywhere with its circle curved upward.

No one could reproach him for having decided to devote entirely his insignificant leisure to such academic pursuits, moreover, with its simple Spartan atmosphere, his refuge noticeably stimulated this passion. Being both in shape and size, something in between a truncated corridor and an enlarged closet, his little room through a cut door in the wall was connected to the room in which his mother rested, and its book half, farthest from the bed, was located near the creaky common staircase leading to the attic.In addition to these advantages, it was still cold, like a punishment cell, and by the window, which looked from the height of the second floor into the courtyard, at the ruberoid roofs of arbitrarily built sheds with neighboring cats who loved to fight there, there was a trellis fireplace that wasted the budget all winter long. But when he opened his eyes in the morning, the spines of leather, leatherine and frayed calico, patched with faded pike cloth and tracing paper, looked at him in ranks from the rack. They stood in a row like unbridled horses zealously and in different ways, according to the "suit" of the knowledge they contained, they looked at him, but each appealed to a sleepy mind. So he started one day by going through the contents of all the shelves. After the revision, he discovered a slight discrepancy: the catalog did not include The Lives of Patriarchs and Prophets by Hastings, published in Philadelphia, with very good engravings and republished in Moscow by Hamann's Aesthetics. (Interestingly, then he opened these books, looked and leafed through, but never read them). On an additional shelf, the sixth, which was nailed above the bed to be constantly at hand, there were dictionaries and reference books. Toward evening, checking the glosses in the notebook, he took from the shelf some treatise, the edge and binding of which, from folio to folio, depending on the print and paper, had a stale sweet or sour smell, went to bed with him and so, with an open book he often fell asleep.

You are probably asking: was this thirst for knowledge associated with any special make-up of his personality or talent? With the accelerating pace of life and various electronic innovations, such a question is pertinent, of course, just now, think about why you asked it? do you really care, do you really want to stop here and speculate? And then, at the age at which he was, the very posing of this question could have done damage. Well, yes, he was not without talent, but it never occurred to him to ask himself why he was doing this, reading, learning something ... He went ahead and knew one thing for sure: in his desire to find the cause of all things, some of his own unique "philosopher's stone", he was not alone. And here, in his searches and studies, he could rightfully be proud of himself, consider himself some great pioneer, pathfinder: self-knowledge is inseparable from consciousness, the world differs not so much in colors, it was recalled, as in the combination or absence of halftones. In the wise "Book of Changes", which he began to study in fits and starts (well, that is, if that evening he was not at the assembly line or did not meet Angela near the city park) the lot fell for him on the Shea hexogram. Following the clues in the margins of the notebook, before that he studied the story of the life of Lao Tzu, the "old child" and one of Three pure, as the faithful adepts called him, and made a conclusion, which in many respects coincided with his own, obtained from a series of haphazard observations. The essence of this was simple: every thing, as well as any phenomenon, even at first glance random, has its own purpose and its source, which you just need to try to isolate in the chain of events, correlate with the desired and recognize as a leading sign. Therefore, he believed that in the coincidences that fell out according to the "Book of Changes", there is a deeper meaning, the meaning of which should be revealed from efforts in more than one sitting. And in search of that meaning, I turned and re-read the pages. In the text, this hexogram was associated with the "army" and meant Execution: five intermittent lines, one continuous. Their meaning was interpreted as good luck in fortitude inside there was a danger, the insignificant were not supposed to act. Fervor and determination had to balance endurance and vigilance. “An unjust trial is also possible, - with the allegory of the Celestial Empire it was in the comments. - An army is needed. But the army may have a cart of corpses. "

Armed at the conveyor belt with a harsh howling wrench on an electric suspension in front of the wheels of freshly painted trucks or on the way to the gym, where his ruthless and ironic trainer, like Herod, was waiting, he did not forget his home searches. And if a couple of minutes fell out, he immediately turned to the form of the hieroglyphs denoting this hexogram, which were depicted in the book like this:

As the embodiment of a single universal diphthong, even if it sounded differently for everyone, they seemed to be fused, fused over the eras. Trying to imagine them separately, turning them over in his mind and putting them together again, he made efforts to achieve a clear clarity of their perception and tried to stay in this state for a longer time (all distracting sounds went away, although he did not lose self-control, as the sixth sense could catch, what happens at the conveyor). But unconsciously, it seems, he was thinking about something else. And what was in his thoughts, on which no one could count, suddenly knocked on the door itself.

One Sunday, like manna from heaven - and a business organizer and a healer of the soul, an old bosom friend of his father appeared in the house, how meaningfully he, taking off his hat and his long-brimmed gray mac, introduced himself: Trofimov... He was no longer young and looked, in his loose, old-fashioned and unassuming attire, like a secret, outstanding sorcerer. Yes, without causing the slightest fear for some reason, his person seemed to come out of Arabic fairy tales with original etchings, vignettes and gold embossing, laid out like parchment, which she had been reading since childhood. There was immediately something in him from Sinbad, who, after long wanderings in foreign seas with untold riches, again stepped on his father's bank, and from a sybarite-sorcerer in a tangled story about Aladdin. Statics had never heard of him before, and had never seen him.

“I don’t know what to expect?” twenty years neither hearing nor spirit! - standing in front of the guest, the mother said, embarrassed and not too friendly. - If only I had informed in advance ...

It seems that she was not so surprised as wary of the arrival of an old acquaintance.

Having listened to her, Trofimov burst out laughing. He was baggy and bald to match his chlamydah, with a short knobby nose, a wide forehead and a firm large chin, which was immediately remembered. And from the threshold, looking around the squalid dwelling with a sloping, hollowed-out floor, he said weightily:

- If to be precise - twenty two... Long time ago, dear, yes. But I am who you need now!

Mother gathered on the table - lazy pancakes with sour milk, which she baked in a minute on the gas stove, and summer blueberries in sugar. Then she sat down herself in front of Trofimov.

- Than God sent, do not blame!

Nikolai Sergeevich's father's friend was overwhelmed and from the conversation it turned out that he was single. In the capital's apparatus, he held a high position. But he was not pompous with this position: he held on, without obeying, and reasoned weighty with humor and with jokes he talked about various alterations and collisions that he had been in. And he was smart. By the way, he informed Statikov that these times worked in the Economic Council, in the department of the Administration of Affairs. When they were abolished, by sublimation, or "like a horseman behind a wagon train," he moved to the ministry and now oversees the entire region.

- Well, you know, and I'm not God, but I can do something! He said meaningfully about the hardships of housing.

Then, as befits a fabulous guest, Nikolai Sergeevich promised that he would pull off three skins from whom. And left.

Before the working shift on Monday, in an office with stained panels and a whole pack of telephones, which the directorate hastily allocated to him, he poured Armenian "Ararat" into cups, splashing it out into a tub of ficus, apparently having experienced this more than once, not stimulating liquid tea, and alternately gave instructions, as if reading from the stems of the yarrow:

- You are in vain, Sergey, you hit sports, this is not for you, not that style. But the course was, in general, correct.As you show yourself, assert yourself, it will go on, if you show, in addition to firmness, flexibility. I will solve the issue with the apartment and your employment. Remember, if I have promised anything, I will. You will be with me or behind me, so after that you choose. Just look, don't let me down, you shot. Dashing trouble is the beginning - have you heard?

Having humbled his young uncompromising rigorism, Statikov drank "Ararat" with a bite of truffles and assented. Even if he had not been reminded of this, he understood and heard everything. Shortly after this meeting, he changed jobs. And a month later, hastily recollecting the school basics of algebra and writing an essay with one blot, he was out of competition enrolled in the evening department at the Institute of Economics.

So, without resorting to any magic spells and astrological forecasts, he established that every cherished desire in its purposeful development is realizable. The “Book of Changes” and 18 two-kopeck coins, with which he guessed, tossing them three in a row, and choosing between Yin and Yang, clearly gave not a direct, but an approximate, hypothetical outcome in his interpretation of events. The laws of Tao themselves - until some time they led him further, suggesting the right path, not allowing him to wonder or limp among victories and failures - were unchanged and invariably confirmed this. Perhaps that is why, in the face of a fait accompli, he did not feel any particular inconvenience at that time. The factory ink overalls were replaced by a cambric shirt, leather shoes bought from a stash, and ironed trousers. He postponed his thoughts about Trofimov, with all the interconnection between the past and the present. His questions would have worried the mother. Naturally, she wished him happiness and luck in all sorts of endeavors: she wished, as she knew how, at the same time, she really did not want to stir up the past. He saw in this a warning, a threat to the prospects of life in general, as he understood it then, and to his career in particular. Giving him her care and warmth, the mother, of course, was right: any burden pulls before the ascent!

Nadezhda Pavlovna, as her mother was called at school, was exacting to the words: if she had thought of something like that, she would never have told her son. But he managed to read it in her eyes. At this distance, he now had to gain a foothold.

For those who believe in the secret symbolism of the occult, the theurgy of numbers, and inexplicable folk signs, it should probably be said that the full name of the organization in which it was to be established could hardly fit into a standard seal with a coat of arms. He asks to twist him for the feuilleton style and the liberty of some comparisons, which he resorts to, only in order to convey that state, that measure of perception and the range of sensations. Almost mirroring the state of morality in society and at the same time, usurping it, serving on various reasons and as a stumbling block and justification, such an attitude to other features of reality prevailed in the minds of people as regardless of what. Introducing discord in the order of perception, everything taken together exchanged feelings and surreptitiously undermined the mind, as far as he later understood. Without condemning anyone, he simply states this and endlessly regrets.

One of the many in the department of Gossnab, the organization with which fate brought him together by chance, was formed once from the structure of the Economic Council, which was disintegrating like a boiling conglomerate - a regional institution that was part of the system of centralized management of the country's economic development. However, during its term, as was commonly believed, the official apparatus of such institutions was artificially inflated, and from the bacillus of parochialism, the entire system burned out. Not wanting to bear fruit in the same desecrated place, the new organization settled down in a newly renovated building.The ambiguous antique exterior of that, periodically by some newspaper libel about funds that had sunk somewhere and lapses reminding of itself, for more than a hundred years, even from the point of view of architectural forms and undeservedly, was familiar to die-hard inhabitants as a “pantheon”. Since the time when the City Duma and the Administration were sitting here, the Ionic order with whitewashed pilasters has been looking at the highway adjacent to the left façade near the park. And from the side of the central square, where festive processions took place twice a year, and the thickened air pierced the orchestra with bravura marches, the union of two erotic caryatids from lowered tunics at the entrance was crowned with a classic pediment with six decorative superstructures. From an excursion into the history of the issue, it turned out that these very add-ons appeared later or were made according to the wrong project, because of which, in the general plan, they created a disproportion and visual dissonance. It was also said that in the past it caused debate among specialists, and echoes of disagreements somehow seeped into the headings of newspapers. As it was supposed in that long-spoken, silent era, the calculation was made by someone on the active and lively responses of readers. But this plan did not justify itself. The city was maladjustable, merchant-kondovy and inert, I was not used to such a pluralism of opinions: while the learned men were waving their sabers, stood like a sly peasant on a hillock, glancing from the side, but he himself did not interfere with the academic discord. And as it happened, I did not lose in anything. The dispute again turned out to be fake, speculatively protracted, as evidenced by two contradictory articles in a noisy trade union regional newspaper. In view of this, the vigilant townspeople had the conviction that they wanted to find fault with the architectural forms of the building, pour tubs of dirt on it, but they could not even do that ... The superstructures, however, did not care: their scaly, green-colored kokoshnik with five of its smaller copies and gazebos, like lookout towers along the cornices, in spite of everything, still crowned the roof and enchantingly, giving food for the imagination, floated indestructible in the scattered night illumination like fighting Scythian tents.

But that was before the renovation. No competitions, no tenders, transparent as glass, were not held at that time. And after the completion of the restoration work, from several organizations that challenged their right to settle here (according to "historical continuity", as stated in the progressive chronicle of those years, but more, the people said to declare their ambition, to raise their authority), according to the authorities, only one was suitable for that caliber and weight. While aligning themselves with Moscow in everything, well-meaning city authorities, of course, rarely made mistakes. And bypassing the eight-digit one - "Oblglavzarechpromnechernozemkomplektsnabsbyt", the onomastic pearl of the first five-year plans, it was called the Office with power-hungry meekness.

Statikov was not at all foolish, recalling his first steps in a new field, and did not try, albeit unintentionally, to present them in the light of the present: such a style was imbued with the spirit of that time, which anyway teased the old state of mind, broke like an extravagant young lady of marriageable age , but did not dare to completely abandon it. What they were still embarrassed to say publicly could be briefly conveyed like this. “Is the great in the great? The time asked. - The bottom line is what is? or is it what it appears to be? How to look, it is not a fact yet! As you look, there is a lot in the small. Descending from the mountains and gaining strength, the stream rushing into the misty valley favors the stream. Large rockfall - stones. The oak heels and crumbles. Bamboo with hazel - bend. The rock belongs to lichen and moss. " Time, as usual, had one yardstick for everything about everything. The form and style of all biting generalizations is such that, no matter how you turn it, everything is correct.But if one can see at least something objective in the nature of the intricacies of eras, then it seems that time did not change anything: as the Book of Changes said, it only created a general appearance, its own unique flavor. Everything was determined by place and people, and even - occasion... As an everywhere. And it was necessary to fit into this routine.

Thanks to patronage, he was formalized into a huge state as a messenger, in other words, with a not painfully flattering, troublesome duty to distribute papers across the floors. Loose from habit along branched passages with steep spiral staircases leading something to the wrong place like a worm's hole, with round windows under the very ceiling like a nicotine thorn (either they were deliberately not washed for a change, or the mop was missing from the bucket) , and dead ends on the periphery, he looked around. Most often, he went to the planning department for assignments, which was on the third floor, near the assembly hall and the foyer with a milky-pink marble colonnade. Here the vanity was pretty exhausted. With a grunt, on every marching throw, sharpabout glancing upward and disrespectfully cursing to themselves, overcoming 126 steps of the front staircase covered with a tight carpet, the non-athletic cut visitors found themselves in a different world and immediately looked for a place to rest. Truly similar in some way to the Ottoman pasha or caliph (with a grand and lordly wayward, presented to the understanding and in a whisper), Doronin Khozdazat Davlatovich reigned supreme here. According to meticulous ladies who cannot be completely trusted in messages of this kind, he was with Persian eminent ancestry... Maybe from Shiraz, they said, or from Tabriz. Not missing to mention in such a connection and, in order to finally overshadow with his unsurpassed erudition: the innumerable Median possessions, ancient Urartu and Assyria, the sovereign dynasty of the Aheminids, who then came from Fars Sassanids, the Arab Caliphate that arose here later, the Turkic Seljuk Chigisian empire, behind this, the Turkic Seljuk empire Tamerlane and at the same time Shahinshah Bank founded in Tabriz, with the participation of the ruble and the pound. Then there was an expressive pause to adjust the pendants on the chest, and the gaze of the eyes looking straight into the heart spoke more than asked.

- Well, have you ever heard? Why are you so uneducated? Ask, so let us enlighten! Like this.

But the legendary list of Doronin's merits did not end there. On top of that, in his years (more precisely, he was 42, which was also from the category of coincidences and according to the law of numerological vibrations, interacting with the name of the organization and other magic numbers, as if closing the circle) he looked like exotic boxwood, was an admirer of Omar Khayyam and Rumi, whose ghazals he could quote in Pahlavi. And before recently was not married.

Such information, pursuing, as a rule, an ordinary goal - to win over, while at the same time to find out something, spread like a fan among the still inexperienced applicants for luck, who, jumping out to get married, either quit or left immediately on maternity leave, and among those , who liked the burning heartbreakers hefty, but certainly - tete-a-tete. What served as the starting point and leaven for such investigations, where did this fantastically inflated female ambition portrait come from, which played a cruel joke afterwards, and it was inconvenient to ask. Khozdazat Davlatovich himself, without whose knowledge even a fly did not fly on the third floor, behaved as if he did not know anything about himself. I dropped in at the typewriting bureau Statikov many times a day. And in order not to anger the ladies, it was necessary to respond appropriately to their flirting, moreover, showing by his appearance complete readiness for everything that could become a continuation of the acquaintance. In essence, it turned out to be above the forces, but it was also part of the performance. What marks only for appearance, also frees from obligations, therefore, no one was offended by unfulfilled promises.

He received all the guidance and instructions from the youthful secretary, Eleanor Nikandrovna, who, according to the retellings of the same enchantresses from the machine bureau, was divorced according to her passport, had worked here for ten years and was therefore the unwritten mistress of the organization. Lined on all sides with various office utensils, and in the capacious cavities of the table - with bags with peanut halva, pistachio sorbet, Iranian prunes in chocolate and a more dull assortment of domestic sweets, she sat opposite the entrance to Doronin's office. As befits her according to her position, without the knowledge of her superiors, she did not let anyone pass beyond her desk. In the course of business, she was absent-minded, jealous, but strict. And everyone called her behind her eyes Shamakhan (playfully distorting the ending of her surname and highlighting the vowels in the same manner as she did). Their romance developed hard and stormy. And he must say a few words about this.

Like a Barbie doll that grew out of clothes at her car, with purple lips in a bow and a fluffy white rosemary bust in the neckline, when he appeared in front of her eyes, she either walked her fingers over the keys clinking in each line and clogging the soft sign of "Olympia" or wielded a stapler. Having a special scent for this, the authorities recognized them by their steps, which was accompanied either by a slight spasm of the muscles of the face or by a gentle tilt of the head. When someone else approached, she lifted her eyes with such disdain, as if a mosquito flew past or a crumb of plaster fell off, and continued to do the same - chewing something or enthusiastically, as do cats licking their paws, sucking on candy. In the hope that she would someday interrupt her sacred rite, he modestly paused beside her throne and patiently waited. On reception days in the hall there were visitors with urgent papers for signature, or even completely unfamiliar with each other, not from the departments of the Office, with some sore question or petition. They could sit for a long time on the sofas, wondering when happiness would smile at them and the young lady, having pronounced her last name with errors, would invite someone to “pass”. Waiting made them feel sick and, as soon as someone appeared at the door, everyone stopped flipping through magazines and looked at him studying. And now, when the legs were already numb, and goosebumps began to run between the shoulder blades, her Majesty angrily looked up to contradict her in any case, and even more so with "any walkers" was not allowed. At first, her gaze, with cumulative pressure, pierced her belt like some kind of obstacle that blocked the panorama, then, as if surprised that this part was still intact, rose by a quarter.

- Oh, is it you again? She said so that the people on the sofas sighed with endowment. Then she absentmindedly looked around the table, trying to find those documents that he had already taken away.

As he soon noticed, the subject of her irrepressible passion was assorted - from "friendly European countries", pencils and flat, then still a novelty, markers, laid out as on the beds in their boxes. Not knowing a sense of proportion, she did not tire of repeating that with all their household uses continuously. She was unintentionally truthful in this respect: the assortment was proportionate, if one may say so, to her venerable corpulence, and also, if rumors were to be believed, the image she had created for influencing management. And this image, above all, appreciating the helpfulness and diligence in others, in awe of all power and slavishly despising everyone who entered, she treasured incredibly. She especially had a weakness for - Faber-Castell, already sharpened, three-edged, which were not in retail sale, and the slates, which she saw as the height of perfection, did not break with the next sharpening. To somehow placate her, Statikov praised her desk, which was probably made of very valuable wood species, and also allowed her to change its geometric shape from a plane-symmetric "P" to, undoubtedly, a more solid "G". Then he asked about other office supplies.And in conclusion, which she was also very flattered, she borrowed one of the imported pencils

He never used what he had taken, and exactly an hour later he handed in back, again finding himself in the focus of two brown eyes. Grumpy and fastidious - not so much to her liking as her imperative powers, this time she put aside the matter and prophesied like a Pythia, with a hissing breath and putting her subtext into it:

- INaasha punctuality makes inaam honor! You are promisingaacourier depash!

The pencils with the dispatches had nothing to do with it. "My dear Don Juan!"- he read in her insidious, as disturbed seraglio, eyes.

Breaking all the canons of the service-romantic genre, and according to rational forecasts, more resembling a cancerous tumor, their tricks developed for a good six months. She was twelve years older than him, rather hot-tempered, although she was responsive when others could not be worse. At the same time, she is not stupid and judicious in everything that concerned her female reputation, already faulty, already tarnished by human rumor. He would not be much mistaken if he said that by the end of their abnormal relationship, the acquired craving for adventure had already competed in her with the feeling of unaccountable platonic love that blossomed like a snowdrop in the heat. It seemed to her an unacceptable sacrilege to rip it off and add it to the evening bouquet in her solid boudoir. So she amused herself with this primrose, but, fearing misinterpretations, she preferred to revel as a fetish from afar, taking on a still jealous mentoring role. In the minute conversations that fell between cases, she with great skill in every possible way hid her feelings or clothed them in nursing care.

- I heard that you are a frequent visitor to the machine bureau? - somehow flew from her lips. - Do not believe these young ladies, everyone is lying. Sluts and libertines, they just mess up the water and lift up their skirts in front of each oncoming cross. Continuous Gomorrah and Sodom. Don't let these papillotes twist you! You hear? Beware!

But she should be given justice: if she were not so wise, their relationship in that informal Cupid-stricken atmosphere would surely have ended more trite. When he was unable to return the pencil, which must have been dropped somewhere along the way, and frankly told her everything, she confessed in response, holding on to the stapler, which was gurgling convulsively in her hand, and out of confusion, clutching the binder to her, as in the Bible:

- You almost killed me, dear! In a feminine way, even a pity. You are presentedaaare you pouring? But, fortunately, I was not mistaken! - And blushing deeply with pleasure, she burst out laughing.

Perhaps this relationship, with a thick fleece of flirting or hypocrisy, from the standpoint of the present day, can be regarded differently. Fully occupied with building his career, he hardly thought about it seriously at the time. And yet, thanks to fate, this was not the main meeting here. Well yes. And what is the main thing in life? Perhaps the main thing is always standing and waiting, and everything random runs somewhere? It is clear that he thinks so now. Or here's another question: how much are certain of our beliefs when one inglorious moment is able to change at once both our sincerity and what we used to see as a goal?

Trying to develop neatness, he carried the folders in his hand lowered to his left thigh, clasping the roots with his palm from below. Having decided to adhere to strict order in everything, he did not expect to be praised for it. In terms of his psyche, it was much easier for him to perform such operations when he did not have to be distracted by routine bows and greetings, memorize the sequence in which the papers had to be handed out, and unmistakably know everyone he visited by name. Therefore, usually absorbed in a series of extraneous thoughts, he was extremely uncollected, confused names and appointments for the urgency of delivery, and at first it was not easy for him.In addition, while he was making marches on the floors, his fingers sweated from the effort, treacherously imprinted on the pimpled surface, and before distributing it, he had to quickly wipe the overgrown leatherette with a handkerchief somewhere on the sidelines.

And so, after this action, someone pushed him once, the ill-fated "depashes" stitched together and scattered mixed. Almost dropping the folder, he looked in bewilderment at the demigod in the black troika, who was jumping next to him like a toad on the parquet. Such was the impression from the outside: truly, like a toad, busy looking for some insects in the swamp wasteland. Jumping, he chattered something, while striving with his elbow to push him away when he tried to help.

- One two Three. The fourth, the most damnable, is missing. "A" has fallen, "B" has disappeared. What a bad luck, these are the times! Forgive your mercy, sir, I really can't live without these pranks.

There was nothing else to do but to stand like a lumberjack and wait. The employee seemed to be out of his mind and in general, it was not supposed to behave like that here.

- Apparently not: not accepted, not grafted, not supposed to! - Throwing his head, he exclaimed joyfully and deafeningly. “In all honesty, I’m like a goof myself: if I find one thing, I’ll surely lose the other.” What the Lord bestowed, so he rewarded to the grave. But after all, not every bast in the pageaboutku, huh? Excuse me, I completely forgot to inquire in this suvodi. How about you by your patronymic?

Statikov embarrassedly introduced himself: while everyone called him only by name, not distinguishing him from other messengers, who with their joy resembled lathered purebred horses. What was really surprised at his appearance? He felt the stupidest bewilderment, as if being grabbed by the reins at full gallop.

The man stopped fumbling on the floor, looked closely, and a shadow of doubt slid across his face. The answer was perplexed to him.

“Avon has sprouted from you. Starting to be? And that, in our hodgepodge will not disappear. Sherivetev. Have you heard of me already?

Confusion, perhaps, what good could be taken for uncouthness, and slow-wittedness for disrespect: before that they met only in passing and there was nothing unflattering, which he seemed to be hinting at, Statikov could not say about him.

Sherivetev gazed upward with the pupils of his bulging eyes. But then he got up and broke into a sugar smile:

Everything turned out as if in a stupor and terribly awkward. Having handed over the papers, the employee again apologized, primly bowed his head and disappeared.

Cursing his awkwardness, Statikov began to sort out the mixed mail with pollen adhering to the fields at the windowsill. The documentation was intended for the archive: everything was scrupulously checked there, examining almost under a magnifying glass every badly printed sign, as if it were mortgages. And if they found disorder, they made their own cipher-like notes in the accompanying one. So I had to carry some of the documentation back, wait for all the "outgoing" ones to be corrected, and hurry up to return. It happened that twice a day he made such circular trips to the archive, which was on the first floor in the other wing, behind the door with a bell and, like a cuckoo clock, a window that immediately opened. It was not difficult, but it took a lot of time, which could be used more effectively. And later, when he realized what was the point of nitpicking, he was tempted even to correct a minor inaccuracy or a typo himself. In his not painfully flattering assumption, the employee was actually not mistaken: since he was entrusted with this, he could gradually learn something from these old reports and statements. But for what? it never entered his head! Among the numbered pages he came across a crumpled memo with the last name he had heard in the corner: "from Sherivetev V.A., led. economist".

Feeling like a thief, who inadvertently got into someone else's pocket, he twice reread the laconic text that had been sketched out as if not out of hand, more like a rebus.The handwriting was calligraphic, with bridles and curls over capital letters, compressed and running up lines.

“On Thursday, April 10, I was late. Then, in my absence in the Garden, everything went according to schedule, with the exception of lunch. ".

In the sense of a tricky note, no matter how you read it, - he figured, - the events on "Thursday" took place backwards and were like under the veil of behind-the-scenes mysticism. It could only be a reception room with a separate staff, which was personally selected and updated by Doronin every year, adhering to the verified practice. Sherivetev was also in this state, but even if he was allowed a lot, such a presentation was unacceptable in terms of status: it was too cocky in form, it seemed to make fun of something. And yet in the giver himself, who scribbled it so floridly, it was impossible to notice a single feature that stood out in any way: how cleverly this rogue played everything!

As is typical of unlucky people, Sherivetev turned out to be light in sight. Although the part of the corridor in front of the cubbyhole where Statikov stood had been empty a minute earlier, God knows where he came from and looked over his shoulder, coughing diligently and meaningfully.

- Eka has served! Have you taken everything apart?

With the intention to retire, nothing came of it. Sherivetev immediately made a roundabout maneuver: he threw out his knee, as if a real clown in a pantomime, waved his hand like a kapellmeister and quickly grabbed it by the floor of his jacket. In his loose demeanor, in his figure as if on hinges, and in his enveloping soft gaze, there seemed to be something absurd or amiss. Appearing unasked and interrupting the business spirit, it infuriated him, in no way connected with what and how he spoke.

- In other words, such a rule, I'll tell you: I slept like that, warn me! He said obsequiously and with grimaces. - Doronin, our dear one, as a standard. And the rest are forced to hesitate: where would a trifle come out, what, and so - for the time being, with our communal troubles, can you establish a connection? Then, if you please, give an explanatory note, for prevention. But why does he need such letters, if he sends them on Fridays, will you believe me, sir, as if he sends canceled bills to the basket? I really don't know how to understand.

Trying to drive away a vision, one of those that happened in childhood - as if he was looking through a lens, to horror, wherever he looked, hypertrophied everything, Statikov, clutching folders, took a step back. His ears were burning. Then the thought flashed through him that this meeting was not accidental.

And it is true, it is no coincidence. If you look ahead, acquaintance with Sherivetev will become significant in his fate, transform his career in its own way and lead to a reassessment of some judgments. But would he be so grateful for that?

At one time or another external, as he believed, to a greater or lesser extent, was determined nevertheless - internal... This is how it was instituted from creation and everything reasonable is arranged according to the same model. Installed correctly. Yes, only with this degree, not everything was so well: it was not possible to be oneself in the service. He was the way he remembered himself and knew, from the reviews from the outside, and - not so. It was necessary, he thought, so that he would not be suspected of anything in vain, because people have their own stereotypes and preferences, and if they do not understand something, then ... Internally, he did not seem to change, but sometimes he did not recognize himself. The personality of Trofimov himself, with his seemingly awakened guilt before his father and insistent care, was by no means ambiguous. But reason had its own storeroom here, a closet. When he talked about this, he himself regarded such a zagashnichek in two ways: in practice, he was necessary, since life did not go smoothly every minute, and he had to sacrifice something in himself - or to adjust and reshape interests to more acceptable places, or to postpone until the best times. But even if there were no overlays, he was not left with anxiety, as if he was walking along a squishy flimsy gati, afraid to stumble and look back.At what cost then will he have to pay for this? Is he that right in his assumption? Or is it sheer nonsense, over which it was not worth even breaking your head, in it simply speaks fear, hereditary suspiciousness of the father? The next time I met Angela, it was worth reflecting on!

«What is there to think about?»

Suspecting that he had misheard, he looked discouragedly at his colleague. But he, not noticing his mine, selflessly poured out in revelations that they were old friends while holding the button of a jacket with the fingers of one hand, twisting it, hoping, apparently, to tear it off altogether.

- And I’m in the warehouse, you know, not just one of the inveterate losers, but somehow everything is in plain sight, but by ear, yeah. In service, it’s not at all like at home, it’s just a punishment. Think about it: if, for example, there is a bag, some kind of precious little casket, fall at your feet, so surely in front of everyone. And your eyes are smart. Do you know why I am talking?

It could have ended badly. Statikov was ready to fail with shame: then he himself will fire himself up for not listening to reason, he did not immediately leave.

- Well what for? - the imperious baritone intervened in time.

The voice was from behind, like a gospel, incognito. It was Doronin's exquisite technique: inaudibly, like a jaguar in an aviary, walking along the corridor with a slumbering crack, as it might seem to myopic eyes, he casually added some remark or directive to the conversation of subordinates. For the overwhelming majority of employees, when they fiddled and forgotten, his intervention gave the impression of a coastal siren before a nearby landslide. This was perceived as a warning, serving, as a rule, as a harbinger of an unfolded headwash at a meeting, moreover, it had the feature that often left rotozeans in complete confusion about their scale and reasons. Doronin rarely resorted to formal written penalties, used other means for this. For each employee, he kept a report card, as it were, including all the blunders and advantages of the majority funded system, from the staked out norms of which he did not retreat a single step. At the same time, he was invariably polite and correct, did not come to harsh remarks, but never explained the motives of his actions. Apparently, he believed that a standing employee, if he already had his own position, should have guessed about it himself. The graying leadership of the Office looked askance at all his "Machiavellian" methods, reconciling with such an innovation as a temporary and forced measure. On the sidelines, this was explained by "positive" statistics: so far no one has complained, but there was no harm to order in this. Having arrogated to himself the right to interfere in personal conversations, which to be in service could not, he registered the reaction to the remark, uttered his "well, well, go for it!" and, as if annoyed at the revealed lapse, he left.

Intuitively, without punishing misfires, Statikov had not yet learned to predict. And I thought so about calculating posing cleverness. If a person rationally and seven miles away plans something, then he introduces a distortion into his mental space, because by doing so with some utilitarian and selfish purpose, he leaves out of the calculations the changeable ligature of phenomena, as well as (often not without reason) the still unrealized yourself. On a sober look, such reasoning might seem too pessimistic, but he did not overload his brain beyond measure, he was just already a little knowledgeable. Potentially for a career, any omission, in addition to a violation of chain of command, could become a black mark. And for the good of the case, as it turned out later, in his two-chambered soul, Doronin in private conversations could be a liberal: keeping his interlocutor in the eye, in every way branded the worn-out leavened patriotism and crushed it with risky allegories like live bait. But he did not like liberty in his subordinates.

Imposingly courteous, in a throw pinned to his shirt, like a tie from a rosip and with a beige rag from a breast pocket to match, he looked friendly, brushed some speck from the lapel and seemed to wink:

- Holdandthose brand, all sorts of people. One out and kind of happy and capable ...

The statics turned involuntarily. But Sheriveteva has already disappeared.

On weekdays, Angela usually waited for him in a hilly suburban park, by a pool framed by rustic trees with led out, occasionally gurgling krinitsa. Toward evening, when the shadows lengthened on the linden alley, from the very stop, paved with large yellowish flagstone, an amateur quartet came here to play Chopin, Brahms and Hungarian rhapsodies. The repertoire was not rich and never, as far as I remember, was replenished, therefore, in order to give it a touch of novelty, the works alternated in a mixed order, but began and ended with Liszt. Of his nineteen rhapsodies, two enjoyed particular success: the second and the fifteenth, and the "second" was downright adored and asked to repeat at the end. When her passages, crowned through the caesura with an arbitrary festive cadenza of the bow, died down, the elderly women standing on the flanks, feeling emotional, said: “Bravo! bis!". Then, as if looking for support, they looked at their husbands with newspapers or magazines under their arms, and their faces got wet with the handkerchiefs in their fists. But more often a group of musicians, whose cube T-shirts, sweating around their necks, on weekends were replaced by jackets for one buttonhole and butterflies crookedly pinned to the collar of their shirts, butter up the ear con brio and without interruption. The harmony of viola, piano and two violins close up overlapped the sound of footsteps. But Angela somehow heard them, her heart outstripped his approach. And no matter how many times he tried to sneak up to her unnoticed and stand up with a concentrated, serious look behind his back, as if he had been here for a long time, he did not succeed. While he was still walking, the world froze in admiration and silently parted when she, noticing his silhouette under the shade of rustling bushes, elastic as a doe, rushed headlong through the crowd towards.

- The lucid gentleman was late for something today, moreover, he looks unusually dashing. Where is that ceremonial uniform that suits him so well? Don't frown. If you are demoted because we are meeting, I will cause an international scandal!

Maybe you shouldn't have held her back? Of course, only figuratively, in a language that they both understood, and for him and for herself she was ready to smash everything into small chips around.

- Come on, let's leave it as it is.

- No, we won't! you can't leave everything to others. Then, they don't need it at all. Look how foolish they are.

They watched the newcomers throw coins into the pond. Local boys, with their cursed poles with tin cans bolted to them, then fished out everything from a dime to a penny. They had their own craft and competition here, they did not allow random strangers on pain of punishment into the free field. And the most active of these brats with a flair for entrepreneurs swore that for a reasonable fee they could overlook your investment.

Angela put ten pennies in it and in her palm, they joined handfuls, swung ... Having broken on the wrong parabola, as if competing, the coins at once beat the columns of water in the middle.

“Now they won't get it so easily.

- Yes. Are you in trouble again with me?

In difficult times, it was only necessary to hug her tighter to distract her. Because of his non-statutory absences, intrigues began to be plotted against him in the unit. The connection with the charter was only indirect. The command knew that they were meeting, given his track record of valor, looked like a blind eye to acquaintance with a foreigner, but was silently displeased. They could not directly forbid them to meet, so for order it was necessary to observe the pro forma, and once, when they met here, he was "missed." He received a penalty and until the end of the week ran a cheerful, broken five of the same penalties in the kitchen.Everything was nowhere simpler: before being transferred to the reserve, others got away with such liberties, but many envied the adventure with the “pretty Polish girl”.

- Look, what a wonderful sunset?

On the ridge, which opened in a clearing of trees, a wheat loaf of the sun rolled into a numb forest, like a forest perched at sunset, on the distant slopes, where the dying rays still lay, between the trunks of the fir trees one could see deadwood.

- Nadzwyczaj dziwno, jakby aplikacja! 3 - she said critically.

Leaving the park, they walked through the adjoining back streets, dodging and looking around like intruders. Both were unpleasant, but the precaution paid off as a result. In order not to expose yourself to danger and then not reproach each other for no reason, having run into a patrol, as once. Angela was hardly as zealous as she thought she was. Rather, with her fiery nature, he could imagine her as a priestess, perhaps somewhere in the temple of the Druids or in the temple of Vesta (which he did not tell her, of course, so that she didn’t think God knows anything about herself). But this time she still intended to take him to the church, especially since he himself wanted to look at the service. Earlier, because of his cavalry self-willed, she allegedly did not succeed in anything. And thinking about it, she missed and waited all day.

- Yesterday Aunt Eva had guests: either urbanists, or landscape painters, - she atoned for her sins. - One, with such a curly beard, stood in front of me like a faithful knight on his knee, said ... He confessed something. Well, in a word, here. Have this in mind!

Walking alongside, she joked as if by force. Before that, he still told her about his father. Listening to him, she kept fiddling with a medallion with an icon on her chest: closed with an engraved lid and hanging down on her chest with a twisted cord, it was with her almost like the bishop's panagy. Given her age, the image was perhaps exaggerated. But give her free rein and if it were possible in reality, as he ambitiously imagined, then in the hierarchy of other ranks, supramundane, she would not have the very last step! And the ring, a dismembered ring, on her fragile finger bent at the joint shone with a bluish turquoise when she twisted the medallion. He told her everything he knew, and they never spoke about it again. Yes, she was now joking with force, although he was already used to all such metamorphoses. Her face was then touched by some kind of rupture that fell from heaven (she kept the reason for this grief to herself, probably thinking that a penetratingly feminine, irrational mindset was needed here, and immediately substituted her lips for him if he asked), then, like a lake steel an expanse in the clearing of the clouds, which could never have been foreseen, blossomed capriciously. Sometimes they went out to their alley in the park. And they walked in an embrace under the chestnuts, along the foliage that had fallen right before our eyes and bends creeping under our feet. Painted with the color of the approaching autumn, the leaves sometimes fell off the branches in pairs, sadly and solemnly whirling in their farewell dance, but fell apart to the ground.

"See, they sacrifice themselves too!" Angela exclaimed vividly.

With these words, she took his arm gravely and became extremely anxious. The path along which they walked spiraled the hill and passed near the romantic rotunda, entwined with honeysuckle with climbing cissus, in front of a bush of gnarled, poisonous juicy elder. Here was a disastrous and memorable place for both. They looked at each other, laughing, but more often they continued on their way.

Being in a pathetic mood, although it was very little different from her other fun, Angela never tired of reciting poetry in Polish. Anything from Tyutchev or Yaroslav Ivashkevich, their shanovnyh poetic idols, diverse in character, but somehow combined in her soul.

He did not know the literary translation of these lines, so he perceived them, like everything from the poetry that she read, as far as he understood the language and mainly according to the meaning embedded in the stanzas.(The Pleiades is a constellation that is already in October: they rise vaguely and cruelly above the horizon and look deep into the thoughtfully lowered heads, at clumps of broken birches and crippled lutes. They appear and tremble over the house at dawn and send a beam shrill and quiet and they say a word to me, and in a voice so familiar, as if there is still someone happy in the world).

Angela read them abruptly, with a touch of slight bitterness, like nostalgia, which she knew from somewhere at 17. The story "Sérénité", which was written by Ivashkevich as a confession and was covered with a soulful melancholy of memories, in her opinion, already contained a premonition of the end of the path, a bitter grimace from the meaninglessness of impending death and, at the same time, her desire. She believed that everyone was given such a feeling. But if a person realizes this without panic, - does not give himself up to the sails of unfulfilled hopes, all that has already sunk and will not return, then he can, like Ivashkevich, stretch his life. But this is rare, she thought, since everything has already been taken into account, written in advance on the path of life. When she talked about this, it seems that she was sorry not for her idol, who had lived a long and full of collisions life, but for those people who were not at all affected by the trouble, and were not touched in life by the test. So, as she believed, these people could not accept the price of what was intended, that is, they could not come to terms with their fate, so as not to fool either their loved ones or themselves and not fall into vulgarity in the last days. She noticed his bewilderment and grinned: “Tak prawdziwie: anticipating the finale, such people start to fuss, start to make up for something. I think it's gone. " Yes, - and the most regrettable, in her opinion, was that many cannot or are afraid to look with dignity at the life that they have passed, be it a spring marathon or an autumn thaw. Their hearts say one thing, they want something else, feelings contradict reason, and no matter what they prefer, everything they do not agree. To the same cohort - niemądrych 4 - she self-critically considered herself. “With our souls we understand everything, but for some reason we hide in ourselves, we are ashamed. Sometimes, I disappear from myself - from the one that I know, who you can see me as well. And the world I created then hangs in the balance! "

She said that this is it came to her in the end of a long illness, when she was already receiving medical treatment in a summer sanatorium by the sea. There were plenty of all kinds of games and other liberties (wiele wolny). But she shunned her peers. Having escaped, she climbed a pine tree twisted by lightning by the dunes and watched. The furiously bubbling surf confused and bewitched her. A damp wind blew across his forehead and chest. She gave herself up to these sensations, lost the sense of time, entrusted herself to the slow rhythm of her heart, which whispered something about fate and karma. In a moment, it seemed to her that these were the branches that around, bursting, were talking to her. She tried to figure out what they were muttering about, let in all their rustles, inhaled the intoxicating rich resinous smell. And the old creaky pine tree suddenly froze, no longer moved its peeling branches, as if it were listening to it itself. Then a bubble burst in front of her eyes. The world was returning in its colors. And everywhere a plaintive and rebellious bird noise was heard.

What was there in this girl that he could not understand? and was it only this inconspicuous indistinctness, some painful trait of nature that possessed and fascinated in her? Still a teenager, she filled everything with her light, her simple in meaning, such seemingly ordinary words fell like peace on the soul. And for that alone, he thanked fate that brought them together. But Angela was always lacking in something, she was ambitious beyond her years. And like a firebird out of captivity, it brought with it no one knows where, where everything was different, as she imagined, and where she was - with a fair amount of thinking here about herself, already the sovereign sovereign of thoughts and mistress.When she suddenly fell silent, mentally transported to the magical, azure distances of that country, then everything was immediately transformed. Perhaps both the mystery and the solution were in this?

“Do you think you’re listening to me?” - She lightly touched his elbow. “Do you think about that day again when you were late for the funeral? Jeszcze troszkę, we came.

The church was surrounded by neighboring buildings. With a lancet portal sandwiched between them and a reddish smalt that hid the day in the elongated windows, at first it seemed small. The daylight, penetrating into the interior and the hidden source at the altar was barely enough to illuminate part of the utensils behind the pulpit and the priest, a dark-haired man without birette, in a white alba and from a distance seemed like baked cottage cheese kazule.

The benches closest to them were occupied. Probably, unnerving the priest with their careless fractional clatter on the floor, they walked forward and stood in the center of the gloomy nave. It was the first time he attended a Catholic service. The sermon was in Polish-Ukrainian, alternately lisping and cooing vowels. He did not understand the language well and tried to listen to himself, as Angela wanted. She stood beside her, trembling, burning with impatience. Was she sincere then in conceiving this sacrifice? Her sweaty palm was tense, trembling slightly in his fingers. And like the lingering and unctuous tenor of the cleric, coupled with the current of her blood, slightly vibrated, now rising, now falling. And from the crucifixion, the stern face of his father looked. But higher - as if a six-winged seraphim picked up and lifted to the heavenly tent above the pulpit.

Who could explain what happened - everything that happened then, many years before and after? Or did he needlessly reproach himself and simply failed to comprehend what was associated with the tragedy of his father, with the subsequent drama in the relationship of his parents? What did, say, these people in "dolls and armies" mean, that they used to gather in the house, how to take Christ and warm themselves? He did not understand this then, and it is also evident that he could not comprehend and some other, firmly sunk into the soul, still embarrassing episodes of childhood. And is it possible to prevent something by one effort at will, when you know it in advance? - All his life he puzzled over this! Through the slush, the darkness and the sermon, in a large mother's jacket, embroidered with poppies that were opened across the field, and in lace-up boots, sticking out, as if not their own, from under a leaky piece of matting, for some reason I was driving with my father to the village. The charioteer, a crooked and disgusting old man in a bulging robe, visible to him only from the back, furiously lashed the rump of a horse that was stuck in the slush. Covering himself with the edge of the same matting, my father sat at the front end, in the heaped straw, sipping like a rotten pasture. He sat hunched over his forehead with a fluffy hat pulled down on his forehead, like a rook: he seemed unsociable, aloof, unnatural. He sat and shivered as if from a chill. And every time the whip took off with a whistle, his face went dead. The child's consciousness, as it was at that time, had not yet experienced a dashing misfortune, therefore, not knowing full vigilance and compassion, ached with a feeling of abandonment: the father had forgotten that he had a son, he didn’t even know where he was now. Everywhere you looked, everything swallowed the clay mess of the country road behind the cart, which, creaking with its hubs, kept going and going. And there was no end to the tedious drizzling rain, or the swollen, like oatmeal jelly, road. The father, it seemed, was no more, only this frightening driver. And the echoes of the whip over the gray rump of the gelding pierced in doublets into the ears through the crunching of the wheels, which broke teeth. Fifteen years later, in his father's unfinished diary, as an excerpt from the litany, he reads: "From Mesopotamia, through Egypt, it absorbed and absorbed, and if its trace is the path of the eternal Chariot, then life and death are like dents under its rim." Is it possible that the father had already foreseen what would happen? And on the other page was: “And then, in complete despair, they erected new gallows for themselves, for the former ones had already become dilapidated.” Will you forgive, father? He knew that he was parting with this memory. "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and ..."? The voice, disembodied inquiring, stopped the pain gathered at the Adam's apple in a tight lump, everything blurred in his eyes, tears accidentally shed, he felt their bitterness on his lips, felt that he was crying, but could no longer restrain himself. And then something happened outside, as if it had dawned and revived.And how did the gloomy vaults of the nave disappear? The church was filled with the viscous and slow mystery of the organ. I felt relieved from my heart. And an unspeakably kind light streamed everywhere.

A moment later, he again saw the stubborn figure of the priest ahead. Competing with him, from Angela came not burning life-giving fire. Everything was in him. And in Angela and him. And it was - inside and outside everyone.

A moment or centuries have passed since you can figure it out and say it for sure? Until the hour of the present outside the timeaboutAnd, unrelated to his etched gait of the substance, he reluctantly and rarely asked himself about this: without turning around, he just walked. And this light, once perceived by him, immaterial and intangible, descended into the depths of the soul under the temple vaults, protected in its own way. It happened that in the decline of his strength, he nevertheless retreated from Angela, that light and fire given to her, the incessant thirst for life. Thinking that he was retreating from himself, he regretted - and found again, whether he thought it or not, like a miracle.

When, after completing the fifth year, he was successfully certified as an economist in the planning department, which after the social molt also significantly changed and began to flaunt the cannon of commerce, he was handed a telegram on purpose. It was like a dropped unexploded land mine - and laconic and capacious in content, without the exact details of the sender and on government letterhead: “Dashing trouble start well done". He was not so naive. After reading it, I did not have time to break it. That anonymous person was a great solicitor and seer!

Here, according to everyday rules, it would be worth taking a break - to sit down somewhere on the bank, in the shade of a rakita, look around the Volga eye and think about it. It seems that he did so. But first, one more event must be described. Since then, everything that used to occasionally tingle in the heart was already sore on the soul like a bursting blister, and if it hadn't been for misfortune, it might have lain under the wraps.

After the ill-fated telegram from Trofimov, the mother did not live long: she took to her bed and did not get up anymore, having a cold. She faded away in his arms and walked away without agony, peacefully quietly, crossing her with a weakened gaze in parting. She left as if she had been overshadowed by the thought that she had done everything she could for the good of the child.

Of the close relatives in the city, my mother had either a niece, or a cousin, on her father's side, a sister who had never been with them. Statikov did not know her surname and address, while he was sure that there was no need to find out. And yet, it did not work to see the mother as quietly as she left.

On the day of the funeral, in addition to colleagues from the trade union committee, warmly and patiently expressing sympathy, Malinin, his fellow student and neighbor, unexpectedly and unexpectedly came. A stately, sharp-eyed horse like a horseman, moreover, a desperate carousel and a rake, he was in a double-breasted elongated jacket, obtained, apparently, somewhere for hire in a black, tightly buttoned shirt and with white carnations under the film, which he, turning angularly away, immediately took off ... He entered - and, not daring to approach, froze at the door, frowning and blushing coldly. Probably no one has ever seen him with such a mourning expression: like Lermontov's penitent demon.

Following Malinin, with whom they were not yet friends at that time, women began to converge in scarves tied in a hut and a knot, with monotonous faded greenery: from all around. All of them, it turns out, knew their mother, shaking their heads, and in a whisper asking each other whether first for the funeral service, they sat in a row against the wall on the stools that were stored.

Already at the last minute, which in feelings stretched far beyond imaginable boundaries, somewhere in an infinity dawning with moonlight, he noted in half-oblivion how two unknown persons with a clear nonparticular bearing, grotesquely somehow stood out at the coffin, carefully brought in a basket full of living once the daffodils are cut. With a tilt of the head, with equally identical haircuts for a half-box, they greeted everyone. Then, looking around the room, they put the basket to the two wreaths in the corner and, bowing sparingly, went out.This was not approved by the Synclite of Women: the old women made a reprimand at the door with their eyes and began to whisper more frequently.

For this incident, no one paid attention to the fact that the mourning ribbon on the basket was still wrapped upside down, to the arched handle, they forgot to straighten it in a hurry. Suddenly all of her began to move - silk, like a runner, slipped over the intertwined round rim over the petals, the pistils poured with moisture, shimmering like dewdrops, and there was something bewitching in their rare sky-blue color. The smoke from the myrrh in front of the headboard stirred for a moment: the mother seemed to be smiling in her bed.

«Loving, devoted, beloved", - the meaning could be disassembled on the tape.

Whose epitaph was this? Why is this to him at the last moment? Life gave a dull short groan and went on. Life, of course, had its own reason ... Through a running tear, he saw Malinin come up and straighten the ends hanging over the rim. Now they were arranged strictly symmetrically, and heartfelt gratitude glimmered in the faces of the women.

It was a dry, ringing autumn.

«Give me wine and milk! I accept this offering!"- Following custom, the man sitting by the window pulled down his pajamas from his left shoulder and hit himself on the cheeks a couple of times with the same hand.

He was still alone, in frayed hospital trousers and oversized slippers on his bare feet. For the sake of appearance, it would be possible to remove this too: the local boiler house was working properly until Trinity. There was a peephole in the door, which the orderlies used to expose. They did this when they became unbearable from the long inactivity and between the bullets of the husarik for cigarettes or beer there was a strong desire to stretch out. Although at such an early stage, I thought, hardly anyone felt the desire to stand on the other side in a sirloin position. Just in case, nevertheless, having done what was supposed to be done, through the cross-hairs of the rods on the lattice, he put his palm to the frosty glass and, waiting until the scab of the ice that had landed during the night melted, for energy he ran his hand from the crown of the head to the back of his head through the stubbornly prickly hair. Time - what was called by him in the chain of associations, flew here at full speed like a purebred greyhound argamak, or how else they say about it - arrow from a bowbecause everything that was seen came true.

It was daylight outside. He took a leaf of the calendar that was lying on the bedside table, Blue's favorite reading matter: he and Pink were cautiously, accompanied by all the servants, transferred here the reason for this, he would like to understand. "14 February, Monday. Sun. 7.59 Zach. 17.30." The paper, he noticed, was low-grade, grayish, with oblique woody splashes in the light, yellowed along the edges, but not wrinkled. Such detachable dates were never used anywhere. But Goluboy was observant: it must have been lying around somewhere, - begged, promising something in return, or, as usual, got it. This was something that surprised: someone who does not care about all the established procedures is unlikely to kindle with the desire to meet the sunsets and sunrises on schedule. In addition, if you rely on paragraphs of anamnesis, then the romantically exalted feelings of this subject were of little interest to the heliocentric kitchen. He turned the sheet over. "How to be the first person of the verb moan? "The face of the Blue - perhaps in all possible respects, which may not be entirely acceptable and strange to common sense - was like an earthen jug of water, which the chaste maidens in the paintings, holding with one hand, carry on their shoulders. an encyclopedic dictionary for florists: azalea, geranium, magnolia, mimosa ... and narcissus... "A genus of herbaceous bulbous of the Amaryllis family, with white and yellow colors, tubers are poisonous, many species are bred as decorative ones. With the help of selection ..."

One night, Blue jumped up - it happened at the time of meadow alpine flowering, with indomitability enticing him to copulation and causing a comic conflict with himself, - lowering his pants, froze in front of a broken mirror,which he secretly hid under his pillow:

"I dreamed that the umbilical cord was untied!"

Dozing Pink woke up and, having contrived, cracked Blue in the teeth.

His face, already not exuding earthly charm, was distorted with a surge of feelings. He was the same height as Blue, much less agile, but strong. Barely staying together, they were fooling around, not sharing something, betting and arguing. When there was a bucket outside the windows, Pink tried to hide in the shade. He got much better there, as he assured the taciturn, grumpy orderlies. But as they turned away, they still happened - gloomy and silent. The day before, when he was picking lingonberries at the edge of the forest, the Blue had been bothering him for four hours with questions about the sublimation of psychic energy and the feeling of levitation, which, perhaps, anybody still experiences with prolonged unipolar sex. Combing his right handful through the bushes and stuffing his mouth with berries, Pink listened to all these defamations, since he had no opportunity to answer. And he must have accumulated a lot over time! Unlike Blue, he was not painfully impressionable and, if he inflicted beatings, he did not lose control of himself. The attacks of his aggression that still happened, but seemed to be on the wane, were not as important as he wanted. Doctors believed that he had such a manifestation of the syndrome of influence and fleeting akinesia. Pink remembered this phrase while walking around, when, unwittingly, circumstances hit the wall with his shaved head, and he repeated it at night, so as not to forget. At the same time, as in revenge, he practiced blows on the Blue: such a memory rarely let him down. In linguistics, and in the natural sciences, he was not quick, but clever, and if he recognized something in which he saw profit for himself, he immediately tried to apply it. Seeing them in front of him every minute, he thought that he had studied both of them fairly. Although all their tricks were a matter of chance, they were rarely repeated exactly. They complemented each other in half. Pink was harder than Blue, so he lost over long distances, which manifested itself in their uneven relationships and skirmishes. But no matter what they say, this ostentatious, as if explosive hatred between them, the opposition of a mobile mind and brute force, was not hot or cold, but in itself, like a habit - to walk, eat, drink.

The blue man, who was looking at his navel with passion at that moment, flew off from the slap in the face, but did not drop the mirror. In general, he was sensitive and gentle. He enjoyed women, as well as flowers, while he was not twisted in spring, he also enjoyed aesthetically: in the summer he could watch them float under the windows in their flannel dressing gowns, wrapped in a fold of downy shawls below the waist, or in polychrome cellulose half-hangers pinned to breasts. But if someone did not nurture him, then he despised him. Pink, who was eager to fight, that is, for the slightest offense he immediately rendered physical disgrace, and looked at the fair sex differently, with his inherent share of skepticism and pessimism (which he tried to hide from the ubiquitous and beautiful eyes of his sister), this refinement I flattened the blue one and turned it on. Moreover, if you look at them not so biasedly or, for example, through other glasses, then Pink could do the same thing as Blue. But if the latter, on an unconscious causal level, had its own guiding basis, possibly absorbed by him with his mother's milk (he simply did not know such a word as "morality"), then Pink, referring to morality, did everything according to justice, or, as he said, according to the empirical laws established by him himself while still at liberty. He assured that he was still showing restraint when he was raising a younger brother-idiot, but the expression "physiognomic syndrome" to describe their relationship, I think, was better suited. It seems that when he hit Blue, he expected him to change color from the slaps.

But the incident did not end there.A sister came in: she was all-seeing, just a little - and immediately appeared, like a deity from a cloud in her dressing gown. Shaking her head sympathetically, she glanced at both of them and stood by the bed. Her hand found a bandage in her pocket, which she discreetly removed from the head nurse's locker on the way. In her heart she was depressed by what had happened: for the first time, her bashful nature led her to plunder state property. She was uneasy in this out-of-date image. But, in essence, she did not in the least repent of the perfect theft. The bandage was sterile, surgical and limited-availability, not at all intended for peacekeeping tasks. And yet she was sure that he could be useful to her.

The loss is insignificant, it is clear, but it wouldn’t be worth it to walk around the department with stolen goods!

Glancing at him with a chilling look, she still took out this bandage. She broke the wrapper with a harsh thread, took off the paper cap, took out the compressed roll and began to unwind it. She was uncomfortable with the awning, as Blue was waving his arms and grimacing. She stroked his skinny shoulder as she confronted Pink with the bruised edge of the nightstand, and asked him to lie down. Leaning by the bed so that he would not whine, she bandaged his entire stomach, which was bleeding slightly at the umbilical cord: she put one layer of gauze and another. Then she sat down right there, except cooing, like a dove. She pitied Goluby as a sister and intuitively endowed this feeling with a touching maternal jealousy: a quality that went against medical logic and circumstances. But hefty Pink, an oholnik and a villain, her nature, like a blackberry soufflé in armor, is understandably much more pleasant. And Blue lost his temper, glad that he had not been tied to the bunk. And Pink, clinging to her chest, as if ashamedly murmured: “So I came to you and brought you the truth. I did not act unrighteously with anyone: I did not do evil instead of justice, I did not rape, I did not kill. I am clean, I am clean, I am clean!»

Then, out of caution, he did not bring this retreat to the attention of his sister, who has a habit of re-entering when the colored couple, having whirled around and spent a day, fell asleep. But everything she had heard earlier, in an authentic presentation and without cuts, she assured with her seal, allowing him to indicate the date that he had deduced, albeit deviating from strict rules, kept under a thorn bush, always ready, well-perfected kalam: posthumous Thirty years, the same day, 2nd month Ah-et. "

For those who love tinkering at home and think that every skill in life can come in handy, he should explain: he made kalam from broom sorghum using a flattened tablespoon, rye crumb and an old nail. The rest could have been invented by Blue, but he could have sworn to that ... Yes, when you really want something, you can do anything, just not to get in the way! Looking at the window pane with the frozen print of his hand, he released the calendar sheet from his fingers. Life was like a sweet and sour layered sandwich, and you had to eat it. The staff here had enough worries, the sister could not be so sympathetic to him and to this couple. In the presence of a doctor, she behaved differently. Such is the chiasma and caesura with every appearance of it. The time she left, he remembered that he had once been married.

Not that and the one she loved: slender, dark-skinned, with thick curly hair and Byzantine (somewhere she read!) with a profile of a brunette, an excellent athlete, a secretly inveterate preference player in secluded corners of an amphitheater of audiences that climbed up to the ceiling and counting crows in the morning. And to everything - the irresistible son of the all-powerful secretary of the regional committee, who was known among the people as the patron of sciences, was the universal idol of women's hearts and the reliable Archimedean support of the university that was becoming more and more fashionable among applicants. promeka.

Actually, she began to call him Michel: everything ordinary did not suit him. Friends, the Spaniard and Lapa, "knights of the cloak and sword", called Kruchnev among themselves - Chris... There was something extremely personal here: maybe from the past remake about cowboys, which she also saw, but that was not discussed, or something else. But no matter what they said about him after, it had absolutely nothing to do with the Malay dagger!

Elena had heard a lot about this brotherhood at school, and they lived next door. Judging by the rumor, all three constituted the intellectual clan of the untouchables: having sworn an oath of allegiance, they stood behind each other as a wall, kept aloof from their peers and did not accept anyone else into their elite club. In winter, they all worked together in the track and field arena, they were superbly developed physically and, undoubtedly, gifted: from school physics and mathematics Olympiads with honorary prizes and gifts, which was for the rumor, although attractive, but completely incomprehensible, to junior competitions in fencing and karate. And here…

- A penny, Christos down below! - a chuckle passed in the class from the window at the end of lessons.

Arrogantly busty, out of mind, and irreplaceable, Kopeikina, like a March cat, immediately arched her back.

To Elena's taste, she was, perhaps, too obese, like an early adult and overeating Turkish delight concubine: she wore pink stockings, boasted about her thigh tattoo with two doves kissingbutmi, and indelible lipstick in the toilet. In front of her classmates, she always turned up her nose, and with those that were older, she flirted. At the same time, she was building such a mama's tsatsu, touchy, although in her briefcase she always had toothpaste and a spare set of underwear. She splurred the guys in the eyes. Someone liked her stupidity, perhaps. But as for Elena, her appearance of these Rubensian forms did not admire. However, she was offended when she looked at Kopeikina. Not so offended as puzzled: everything that was rightfully due to her, she managed to get and undeservedly and without difficulty. Outside of school, this pava used to make up and, from a touch of early maturity, looked beyond her age in her face, lived without thinking about what would become of her next. It's just that this darling has been lucky so far. And okay. There would be no need to devote so much space to such a person. But in other aspects of the research, which concerned the whole company, about which the girls were already whispering, walking in pairs during breaks, and singing nightingales throughout the district, her guesses were soon confirmed.

Returning from the ballroom dancing circle, she once spotted her rival in a neighboring park on a bench, between the Spaniard (he was like a spitting image of a centaur: wide-chested, eared, impressively squat and red-haired) and lanky Paw. Their hands in shift exercised under the hem. The first to climb under the skirt, apparently, the height of Lap. And behind him is the Spaniard. So the fingers of one did not interfere with the other and for a short time, like cockroaches, remained there. Sensually complementing all that was missing, Elena peeped at it from a distance, walking along a stitch behind the trees, which was hiding in the bushes here. Natural curiosity got the better of her, hiding her under the canopy of branches. And for five minutes, obliviously biting her lips, she stood and looked out from under the reddening bunches at the tough Kopeikina, who fought back slightly, fidgeting and jerking between the pressing guys with her bare legs like on a gymnastic apparatus, and heard her wretched voice breaking. Rising on tiptoe so that it could be seen better, she almost scratched herself on the branches, stained her face. I completely forgot where it was: the hawthorn was marks and thorns. Then, deciding that she was doing something indecent, she stepped aside, winced and turned away with a chill. Kopeikina did not interest her anymore, at the sight of that then it became embarrassing even, pitying and funny. And to herself, she noted: Kruchnev is not there.

I remember a meeting in front of the school, when he accidentally found himself half a meter away from her. In a silver tide, murderously black-haired, foldable and swirling like a gypsy, he instantly stood out from any crowd that surrounded him all the time, but he himself did not seem to be captivated by the attention of others.He was wearing the same denim three-piece (she already noted: he had such a strong attachment to this ammunition that he never parted, and never took off at night!) And he smelled of tart ylang-ylang. She always remembered that bitter smell that stirred the senses. But for some reason he himself seemed ordinary, everyday then. Elena could not understand what came over her, but this impression hurt her. She then kept returning to this scene, which either chilled her or wounded her. Yes, dampened, as if. But she never decided anything.

So that's it. He himself stood with Kopeikina at the door. When Elena passed - probably similar to Malvina, with protruding curls and in this pleated skirt of hers with such a large cherry belt that you couldn’t see your legs, as if from a picture, he followed her with the attention of his oil-bearing eyes.

«Here you go!She thought.

Then a hopeless storm of textbooks began - first before graduation, then before entrance exams. And Elena, thank God, forgot about everything. (Although, what could she forget? What, please tell me, did you know?) But all the same, not for long: they ended up in the same faculty with Kruchnev. It was a complete surprise, which she did not even immediately realize, but, letting herself in, felt that she was pleased. At a general lecture - either on the applied fundamentals of physics, or on the tedious axioms of matanalysis, he immediately noticed it, pierced the audience with his eyes ... And it was as if he had run out of steam on this, something did not gather the courage to approach. Since then, as the cat in front of the hot pot, gazed with his eyes from a distance, as if trying on, and waited. From time to time they met when, with the air of a London dandy, he walked towards one another, or was in the men's company, or self-confidently walked down the street in an embrace with someone. The latter amused Elena: both in mind and in his appearance he was worthy of the best, but as luck would have it, he chose some all pimply, frail and thin.

"I am Cinderella, he is a prince ... destiny?" She chuckled to herself.

Evaluating her chances, and wondering what and how, meanwhile, she jealously watched as others looked at her chosen one and built approaches. To be honest (in her soul she sometimes selflessly embarked on this voyage), then there was no smell of proud-petty annoyance at some silly passion, another Kopeikin. Yes, there was no resentment against the rivals. But the ammonia taste of the class remained. Cinderella, with all the possible virtues and perfections of that, she did not want to be at all. She would not have been to her: before that, back in the eighth or ninth grade, she strove in everything to be like Assol, the dreamy-ambitious character of her beloved Alexander Green. Caught up in the adventurous wind of Scarlet Sails, she read all of his works from cover to cover. She read other books: she knew the content and the new theatrical style of Chekhov's plays, on occasion she could flash with some quote from Tolstoy, Bernard Shaw or from Shakespeare. Moreover, when she read, she put herself in the place of the heroines, and she wanted to guess how the plot would unfold if they did not behave the way the author ordered in the book. Dreaming and conjecturing something, although without raising it into something more than just entertainment, often taking everything from library shelves, she read with enthusiasm and, if you compare her here with a hundred of her peers, then by the age of eighteen she had read a lot. Yes, nothing can be done about Cinderella's belongings: because of the compliant nature at school, he stuck to her, reminding her of her as a deliberately lost crystal shoe, albeit with a captivating "beautiful" one, and also this label.

The exams were not easy for her, overcoming them, she experienced extreme fatigue. But all the more later, nature came to life in her and began to harass, as if wanting to make up for her oversight, nature. True, she had such a wrongness, a dastardly delay from the latent innate excess in it.Everything that she had repeatedly heard from her friends and had read many times in books that went from hand to hand and frankly illustrated, individual words and gestures, even the surrounding smells, began to boldly flood her imagination and terribly inflamed sensuality. And what she thought about during the day, when she read these books, or dreamed in the evenings, when she was alone, with a hasty obnoxiousness appeared and came true at night: Pan in his dreams came to her and snatched away. And in every dream it happened like this: when he touched her, she resisted him, denied him in words, then, wrapping a vine around his torso, limply obeyed. He took her to a nearby park, where the hawthorn she knew to disgust grew, laid her down on the same bench without much preamble and undressed her. From the proximity of his furry strong paws, Elena felt an itch in her body. Through the dream, she felt all of herself, then, closing her eyes more tightly, turned over onto her back, and the dream continued from the same place. They all also amused themselves and made mercy with Pan on the bench, which was like the bottom of the bathroom, uncomfortable and cramped. It was necessary to settle down somehow differently, the knees all rested on something. But the one who hugged her was tempted. And she wanted to see what and how he would do with her. And so that he did it as soon as possible, without torturing her, and he got out. Pan stroked her breasts, looked at other places, twisted in every way, looked into the bushes that were behind, leaned again - and said that everything was the same with her as with Kopeikina. He only stroked her body, climbed between her legs and hugged her like a madman. And he repeated that with her "everything is so." But I didn't do anything else. At the same time, he was always in the form of a Spaniard.

And then, before the spring session, as if on purpose, her notes with lectures in mathematics disappeared somewhere. Upon learning of this, Kruchnev offered his own. And later he came up - she had already thought to pick up the notebook - and held out two tickets to the concert. Elena could not help smiling. That's all.

Since then, they have met. But that's all. It seems that she hastened to bring her lover into the house: she already knew that it would turn out this way. Michelle was, however, schooled and impeccable, nothing like those acne, with excess testosterone pins, from the harassment of which you do not know how to get rid of on the street. Elena liked his good manners, such a long-term, long-playing approach appealed to her. But could this be combined with something else? Many of his words seemed superfluous, otherwise they were embarrassing to the very core. Chris said that he "fell in love" with her at once, that he had never been with anyone, that he values ​​her very much, but he is afraid to lose faith in himself, because of some mistake to lose her and all that. He assured that he had abandoned all his pretty girls and saw in her not at all what he had with others before. Something rebelled in Elena when he spoke in such a manner: she was sensitive to praise, but did not at all want to know about what he had with others earlier. Well, in general, she didn't really like it when he talked about his past relationships, and this also explained some of the difficulties in their relationship. Her loving nature, who wanted to get everything at once and without reasoning, his pathos was confusing. But Chris, probably, could not do otherwise, could not single out her among fellow students, could not waste himself in revelations and extolled her to heaven. He wanted to endlessly sing serenades to her, praise some features in her appearance and present flowers to her every day. And he achieved his goal, with joy she almost lost her head. But as for everything else, he had to try hard so that he could understand him without “offense and correctly,” as he asked. Well, yes, she could get an idea, she had heard about his early maturity and perfectly understood that he didn’t want to lie anymore, that he might regret his boyish amusements, as well as that he was sluggish before ... She was embarrassed that he didn't do what he was supposed to do right away.Being with him in companies, she noted: with her, he in every possible way seeks to present himself in the best way. He said that it comes from love. And every time he said this, he had a breakdown, and nothing worked.

Elena thought for a long time that she knew everything about him, but apparently knew only what she was supposed to. Kruchnev's mother, once a fashion designer and, judging by family photographs, doted on her son, was a cheerful and sociable housewife. Thanks to his father, who kept him tight-lipped, Michel was provided with everything he needed from birth. From the cradle, his room was littered with toys, even a tiny squirrel in a cage by the bed was spinning. And a nurse and a nanny were assigned to him. Then, when he grew up, he began to attend classes with a cruel Serbian polyglot teacher, who was from old immigrants and, if someone was distracted in the classroom, he didn’t give a damn, he beat his ferula on the shoulders. Chris remembered all three by name and remembered this time of life fondly. He said that he still visits this nanny of his from the provinces, who now with the whole family, not without the assistance of his father, settled in the house next door, and makes gifts on holidays to her mentor and on behalf of the family. (Born in a shirt, he took it for granted: he littered with money, used it, but did not particularly appreciate it). Still, secretly from his daddy- in whose hands, as his mother said, except for his wife, the whole region was - he came to lectures at the end of the week and after that he drove her through the streets in his own car. That one had a liqueur and chocolate bar, good music and various other bells and whistles. Chris boasted that all the leading nodes are on special order, and the booze and chocolate are without "surrogate and from there." These trips of theirs cannot be said in a nutshell. It happened that they changed seats, and he gave her to steer. She was such a fool that she immediately freaked out when he began to show how to press the pedals, all sorts of levers and other gizmos on this damn control panel that interfered with his elbows, opposite her feet. And without looking back, she believed everything, no matter what he said! Even outside the city, in the forest, they had an obkom dacha, and in the center of the city - an apartment with a whole hippodrome. But spoiled by attention to himself, he never bothered himself with "plebeian" understatements. Well, in general, as it happened, it happened. Seriously. With her own hands she ruined everything: with family receptions and marriage preparations, it would still be worthwhile to wait a month or two.

- I really thought that your father, at least, a general! - he said after this acquaintance.

- In your royal appearance, the most beautiful. Seed from seed sometimes, it can be seen, and at some distance falls.

- Don't you dare say that anymore!

Elena flushed, hurt. Of course, she loved her loved ones, although, to be honest, she was ashamed of the constant poverty in the family, the way of hardworking sadness, which was like a generic stigma in their house, and hospitable and rude simplicity. She was from a “low-income family,” as it was nominated in society and reflected in statistical reports: such was the post factum and her background. And she definitely didn’t like it. Therefore, everything that her father and mother could not give her in childhood, she tried to make up for herself. Foreseeing - well, maybe just a little delusion - that with her character, which tended to lead to confusion at home, the inclinations of the mind and appearance in the future, she would still need the ability to behave impeccably, to understand painting and literature in the slightest degree and correctly not to speak tongue-tied, - that's it. And the realization that she had already achieved a lot in this, living in the modest world of her parents, and gave rise to that pride in her that made her endlessly ascend and fall, try on herself what was inaccessible in her mother's life, but instinctively, according to successive fear, immediately give up.So it was with Michel: an accidental spat revealed exactly the falsity that they were hiding from each other. And that could make her look different, threatened to belittle her, which was so important to her. True to herself and painstakingly created image, Elena could not allow this. Chris could have pretended not to have noticed the possible rudeness or bad taste of her parents. Or at least put it in a more tactful way, which would not hurt her so much. But he said it with a laugh, as if he were talking about something else. And now the girl's dream of a noble prince, which until recently had so recklessly worried, began to annoy.

The denouement came unexpectedly, at the very first joint New Year's party, which disintegrated in Elena's perception into a series of painfully comic scenes. The apartment was a general's: the owner, along with his second wife, a violinist from the conservatory, was on a long business trip. Restless children decided to arrange a holiday for themselves in the absence of a jealous stepmother, who was not much older than theirs. They were all called Chuk and Gek: both were in light gray jackets, white identical shirts and were similar to each other in a vest, including their sleek, in spite of fashion, one head of hair was only in a red tie, and his twin brother was in green. In short, both were scary cuties, they spoke English fluently, showed photographs where they stood together in pioneer red jackets and swimming trunks against the backdrop of Ayu-Dag at Artek's, and were good in every other respect. But in their desire to unite people according to "different interests" they overdid it. The rooms were wandering back and forth, touchingly drunk and lasciviously flattering, shamelessly clinging to everyone, mostly unknown to Elena, boys and girls. The smug, seductive Michelle with his hand nonstop, as for show, wandered in her lap under the table ... She felt sorry for him. He wanted to compensate for his failure, to recoup in public. Not realizing this, he behaved with her as if she was the same as those girls who deserved exactly what they were invited for. In the end, she got tired of the fruitless wandering at the feet of his hand. Opposite was a blue-eyed, uncommunicative blonde who did not notice anything. At first impression, he is a self-sufficient, carefree dreamer. Such, a little on his mind, Peer Gynt, who fell into the company of terrible trolls. Ibsen's poem, with a peeled spine, all speckled with other people's comments in the margins, she just then took from the library and read it. And a knife timidly dropped on a plate. The ensuing outburst of Michel's jealousy, his haughty, shameless tone. Her farewell, from despair, a slap in the face ...abouteverything went, rather away!

She did not remember how she dressed: Michelle was angry and did not try to hold back. Although she did not think about it then, she was unable to regret or reason. At the same instant she was disgusted with everything. That insult, which he uttered in front of everyone, gushed the ear with tavern obscenity. Or did he count on humiliating her in this way, breaking her off? A terrible apathy seized my heart, such that at first it pushed aside all the annoyance at him. And there was a feeling that everything was cut short. Only the feeling was. And there were no thoughts. Was she free from him and from herself? Who knows.

She probably almost rolled head over heels down the stairs and flew out the door with a bullet. Under the visor of the front door was is he... She recognized the stubborn face of the blue-eyed one who seemed to have lost his Solveig. She did not know his name, forgetting already about what was at the table. And how much does it cost here, - I thought, - stomping from the frost? Certainly not otherwise, he wants to amaze with his foresight, completely charm. Yeah, as a local Salvation Army representative. But she did not even hope, for all her imagination, she did not even think of inflicting such a doom with her knife! She noted: like a gopher, in a fawn fold-eared hat, a slightly stooped, numb figure. Laughing, she almost ran into him.Thinking to prevent her catastrophic flight, he spread his arms with a rake - and unsuccessfully, he stumbled. With a devastating look, she had already opened her mouth to vent her indignation on it. And who did he think he was, unfortunate one? Without saying what she was thinking, she inadvertently cheered up. According to the state of her soul, it had nothing to do with it, almost like a telegraph pole. She was outraged by what had happened. Outraged, but not free. And to top it off, chills went through her whole body. For a minute or two he followed her and muttered something ... Walking along the snow-covered road along the facades, she could not make out the words. The night was frosty and starry, what I could not remember - to go and admire! On the sides, the houses of that Zavolzhsky microdistrict with the native features of the backwoods, where Michel had brought her, rose up with candles. An incomplete, distant, malicious yellow moon looked up from above. And the crunch of the steps of both echoed out of order.

Elena turned around and saw a slightly bent silhouette in front of her like a powdered bear. Again, something stopped her in her expression. It seems that he really thinks that he saved her ... Having caught up with her, he innocently apologized (she understood everything at once, did not ask why). And I tried to help with the fasteners of the cloak thrown in a hurry. Awkward and strong, sensitive fingers. She perplexedly perceived their calm arbitrariness: looking for loops in the valves of their clothes, they were in no hurry, as they climbed on a frozen flute. Feeling them on her, she was in such a daze that she doubted afterwards whether there was this conversation between them.

- What are you perspicacious! She seemed to mumble.

- Now I will not die, they saved me from certain death in the cold.

- Not just what? Why did you leave?

He looked down at her figure, looking for what was still left unbuttoned.

- What is done is done, although I did not imagine it so. You will definitely not die from loneliness and cold. I'll walk you through, okay?

No, there was not a drop in him of what she had suspected of him at first, such a windy bum and talker. She somehow remembered a farewell school ball, a Spaniard had appeared from somewhere there ... And for some reason it felt good.

She did not dignify him with an answer and walked on. The area was unfamiliar, the deserted road either made whitish shots into the distance, then disappeared behind the houses. Not noticing the direction and thinking to herself, Elena walked. Nothing prevented her from indulging her feelings. She did not know what, and who to blame, and out of resentment she wanted to crush the whole world. Such was the state, and so she experienced that minute. In this state, she did not care where to go. She was in the grip of new and not the best sensations. Not understanding why it fell on her, if she wanted to, she scolded these sensations. She wanted to somehow get rid of the one in herself who reproached her for something, wanted to quickly forget about the troubles at the party. Either she intended to somehow evaluate what had happened, then at once to throw it out of my head, to forget this stupid slap in the face, and all the dates with bouquets of greenhouse roses or azaleas in the middle of winter, trips to the country, with all the kisses so long at parting and greedy when they met, she wanted to forget Michel himself. And she walked in these conflicting feelings.

Elena walked. And what she saw multiplied the trouble: it looked at her from all sides from the dead, like eye sockets, nooks and crannies and from mosaic-lit gray walls. All around was the stamp of disgraced oblivion. The whole city seemed to shrink, faded from cowardice into its concrete hollow. And the street has already become useless to anyone: the same abandoned, inexpressively lost, like it! She did not know such a state of aching devastation, she had nothing to sensually compare it with. And in order to find the desired peace in her soul, she denied everything. Yes, she gave the reason for their breakup. Michel was drunk, he asked for this prank of hers. The rupture would still happen someday.Apparently, he sensed a change in her, and at the same time decided to take the opportunity: from jealousy, he could do it. Perhaps he loved her. But he had difficulties on the basis of too early, if you call it by your normal name, debauchery... And this was reflected in a detrimental way on everything. Growing up under the watchful eye of his father, he was terribly proud of himself, at the same time resourceful and smart. But even if he said so in the heat of the moment, it did not excuse him much. This is the final chord that put the outgoing year in their relationship. Such and not the same as we would like. But he was predetermined and she should not be tormented and punished herself. And yet, seeing the New Year's light streaming from someone's windows, Elena felt very lonely. Her bodyguard on the side walked in silence, endowing her with his approximately meek demeanor and self-control. She was grateful to him for the fact that he did not bother with questions, but he could have said something, impolite at all ... Well, yes, but where and with whom is Michelle now? Jealousy and annoyance at him returned to her again.

"Yes, everything seems to be so and not quite!" She thought. She thought, thought - and, turning away, sobbed. The physical trembling has passed, but how can you get rid of self-humiliation, shame? Where is that beloved that she did not save? And, finally, where does this sweet, almost innocent, malevolence come from when someone else was courting her so easily and sincerely? He is hardly familiar enough with the whole company, she had never met him before. That's where Chris is, there is always something going on, it's not right! everywhere he leads her and flies out. Think, so why does he need her? So, girl to go out? It was not the first time she thought about it: various obsessive thoughts came into her head. Although, what difference does it make if he knows someone or not? Hearing his even puffing, she went over her sensations. He seemed to be saying something when he buttoned up his coat. How did it come to him: what's done is done? He seemed to say this about her too. And he didn't ask about anything. Imagining that Michelle was looking at her now, she again felt a slight gloating. Yes, she so wanted to talk to him that evening, she lacked warmth so much! She needed to be convinced of something she wanted to return a feeling of security, confidence in him. But what I wanted to find in my beloved was no longer there, now all security came from him, from this blue-eyed one. And the fingers of his hands were still on her. No, no: neither Peer Gynt nor Michel. He walks and modestly rises above her, conveys his tranquility. She thought he could do it. Feeling his disposition, she warmed herself with this thought and, reveling in her power, connected with him through this.

The street behind the houses should come out onto the avenue someday, she thought, where, perhaps, is not so dreary? Yes, somewhere, just not to see these walls, mockingly joyful screaming windows in front of your very nose! At the turn, her boots slipped, she grabbed the guy by the hand. Probably, this is from her shock, a failure of feelings and norms of behavior. She listened to his gasp. Well no. Perhaps he will never know anything and never, an obliging and fabulous bear! She figured out how her question would sound about his pretentious "not only" and whether it seemed promising. But then his eyes, under the visor of a fluffy hat, descended themselves from the Milky Way:

“I think I’m thinking about what you’re talking about.”

Not knowing what to say, she caught his elbow. She had a long way to go: she had to get to the upper part of the city, and the party was in a low-lying, beyond the river. She thought it would be wiser to return. But then she imagined Michel's smug face and said to herself with firmness: not... There must be a taxi on the way, if they walk in this wilderness, flashed in my head.

"I won't put you in a taxi alone," he said resolutely.

- Did I ask for anything?

Or did she really say something? He would not plant her alone. Well well!

And they walked and walked again.Snowflakes blown off the lime trees spun a slow foxtrot in front of them. Somewhere behind - a rocket soared, a gloss of malachite immediately overshadowed, became somehow more fabulous, more beautiful than the night between the sycophants-lanterns stretched into the distance two gigantic shadows. One shadow looked bigger. But both - yes, as if both were nothing together. She again wanted to redraw everything in her soul. And how can others take everything at once and cut it off? She always suffered difficulties in doing so. She would not have made any hasty decisions if something had developed differently in her life, if she had not always had to decide something. Michel also joked that supposedly she herself beckoned him as Maha, he did not elaborate, which of the two. What, what, but he knew how to fog up! Well, yes, he is not a lamb himself, but in some ways he got right to the point here: she is more courageous and more decisive than him. Then she also liked to look at how he lovingly ate her with his eyes, when she was a little naked in front of him in the car. She didn’t think about the continuation when she did it, she looked at his face and that was it. Michelle seemed to be thinking, even very much, but, alas, he did not succeed. She wanted to, undressed - so what? She liked to show herself because he liked it. He was madly in love with her eyes, figure, hair - and all that, as he said. But was it not for this alone that she loved him? They love the oracle because he is an oracle, because you yourself are close to him! Mother tirelessly repeated this thesis. Let Michelle be an oracle, let him stay as he was. how was... Or is she really such a secret libertine? Let him say what he wants. Oh, what it is. No, she is not Maha, so look in front of anyone ready to undress. And she cares. In vain did he think so of her.

At the doorway, behind which the avenue was swaggering with the lights of belated cars, her neighbor's panting was stopped. He pointed to the windows with a wave. She did not immediately understand where he was showing her. In one window a tree was phosphorized through the curtains.

“Yes,” he said. - Anywhere else now waiting for you?

Elena expected action, but she was intimidated by the question.

Without lowering his raised hand, he smiled.

Still wanting to get some answer, even if not entirely truthful, that would simplify everything at once, she half-turned from the bottom up looked at him. All that was expected, she had already read in his eyes: in order to forget, she herself wanted to plunge into it. But there was something else. The thought of possible intimacy with this good-natured stranger did not cause anything that frightened with its flip side, slimy unknown at such a moment. Yes, she was drawn to this bear, drawn to "plunge", to forget, to wake up after the one that she was only for herself. Was and is. And yet, standing in front of him, Elena could not overcome the contradiction in her soul. An intellectual pledge of purity, when she had to decide something, a usurper naturally woke up in her, a guardian of strict morality, looking at her through the eyes of her mother. Elena felt that if she took the first step, then along with it the end would come that was connected in her fate with Michel. Something new will begin and end to that... And this ambivalent feeling prevailed upon herself when, cursing to herself, she glanced in the direction of his hand in the girth of the sleeve of his down jacket.

- So that? Do you have someone there?

Everything that she wanted to say never left her lips. And he didn't utter a sound. Before that, she intended to turn around and leave: she would be satisfied with any answer. “I don’t know him at all!” She thought, as if she had dropped something that she had already got used to and attached to. She looked at her feet - and became thoughtful. No one could tell exactly what she was thinking. Did she know about it herself? Or her prudent soul knew everything beforehand. "In a white rose corolla? in a whisk of white. A half-forgotten stanza came to her mind. She came in the same form as she came, and so without a final revision, it was stickingly spinning in my mind.She did not believe in evil fate: therefore, fate again. She knew everything or not, but all the same - she stood and wondered like a young maiden-night before the golden-horned month that appeared to her. And as if in unison with her, the prickly snowstorm lay down.

Leaning over to her, he carefully removed from her hand an almost unwarming knitted mitten. Elena looked at his face with a high forehead, which could be guessed under the fur cap of a muskrat cap, spicy elongated, with a regular crooked nose, stubborn eyes and with a narrow rounded chin.

- Do you want to become the last consolation in my fate? And what is your name? You probably have a name. Maybe you should have done it before ...

While he was answering, their fingers touched and intertwined. His hot palm did not burn.

Everything was so incredibly delightful that no one would have resisted it. The Spartan way of life of Statikov trembled from the paradise pastoral of mountain pre-dawn flutes, the echoing of midday pipes and horns, the midnight languor of viols and fine-stringed harps, in the insinuating harmony of horns, Dionysian cymbals and sweet-singing Moorish lutes. Harmony intoxicated them, excited them, pouring into their hearts now like an angelic song, now like a ringing spring drops, and at the culmination with indomitable streams it was crowned with hot flamenco with castanets and a long exaltation of Indian tabla and tom-tom. Under these harmonious rhythms, the sheets, saturated with the moisture of bodies mixed with perfume, did not have time to dry and smelled like musk. Elena was not so inclined to burden herself - she did everything both quickly and willingly, but only if it aroused mutual interest in her, gave inspiration and it worked brilliantly - I changed the sheets first every other day from my bottomless dowry. When it ended, putting on a robe, hung them out on the balcony in the morning, where they blew in the wind until evening, regaining grace and freshness, like prayer banners on the ledges of Lhasa. In order not to “do too much,” she walked around the rooms without a dressing gown, in a Gavroche-style baseball cap and hare, with two pom-poms, slippers and the same kind, adding another apron, fried for dinner with paprika, potatoes and prunes meat.

And now, in her picture pose on her back, which came out of her inimitable chamber improvisation from Titian's canvases, with her arms folded behind her head, she lay beside her in a drowsy bliss from exhaustion. Two round dimples - one at the left thigh, the other on the chest and a mole on the earlobe, even as a drawn fly. Sensing his attention, she immediately opened her eyelids. And the gaze of the long-eyed gray eyes slowly and puzzledly looked in the opposite direction: from pink nipples looking apart, through the emblem of the belly with a pubis under a curly, slightly shiny fluff, to the ends of feet groomed like chrysanthemums with childish, almost imperceptible nails. Behind this, her right leg lazily lifted with the heel down, revealing a full and smooth knee. The swan's neck, with a pulsing delicate vein at the collarbone in a thick fleece of dispersed brown hair, seemed to lengthen even more and, finally, almost without separating from the pillow, gently, as if spontaneously bent.

- Will you tell me anything else about yourself?

She pronounced it as if she was already ready for repetitions and only sorted out what she knew for the future. Returning to the same point in the sun again, he daily updated his story, fished out of his childhood memory what he could: about the same as she did the linen from her innumerable dowry. In fact, Elena was interested in everything. She wanted to know how he once rolled down the mountain on a Finnish sled, and how already below, where there were many onlookers, the runners parted, hitting the sand, and he, turning upside down, smashed his nose on the cobblestone. Also, in all shades of age perception - about how he realized his gender for the first time in his life and how and with whom he then kissed.And then about that grinder - broad-shouldered, a beard with a shovel, a peasant in an oily canvas apron, who once a week with a portable foot-machine stood in front of the window by the house. Elena found the design of the machine entertaining, all the time she asked again when he started talking, asked him to repeat it from time to time, and he explained in detail what and how it was arranged. At the bottom of the bed, he said, near the legs, there was a longitudinal board, pressing of which actuated two wheels through the swivel, connected by a belt drive: one leading, like a flywheel, and the one above, smaller. In the hub of this, which is smaller, it was inserted like a spindle, or a spindle in a spinning mill, an axle with emery wheels mounted on it, held by a stupor on the frame. There were five such emery discs, of various thicknesses, diameters and their purpose. When the whole mechanism was working, sheaves of sparks flew from under the emery: at the blade spinning like floss, madder, yellowish-red or blue, which depended on the abrasive material and metal, they strove in a conical beam in an arc, but immediately, to his huge disappointment, turned pale, faded away. Meanwhile, the spindle from the applied efforts continued to turn, producing more and more sheaves. Both the disks themselves and the equipment to be processed differed so much that the color dance of sparks was always with some mansion and was reborn before our eyes. The grinder was not hefty, but dexterous. He always came sutra, and each time he got up under the windows, his back. And only his loud voice could be heard, stretching out between the houses: “axes-topo-oriki, knives-and, vi-ilki to-ochim!»

- So he was standing with his back to the window? But what about a floss and a beard with a shovel? Hmm. But all the same: hatchets, knives, circles ... how cool! She giggled with delight.

She also needed to know about that magical car with rotating headlights, pedals and real the horn that his father gave him on his name day, and how he rolled back and forth around the yard, honking and scaring the chickens. Then again - about the first time I saw a steam locomotive, from under the wheels of which, in a fit of irritation, steam escaped with a whistle: I wanted to look again - and hide somewhere, closing my eyes with fear. Later…

- No, wait, darling, you are carried away again! Then, about this steam locomotive, did you not accidentally peep at Lumiere? This last time reminded me of another of their films. Two brothers, I think. They also have "Diana's Bathing". Well, am I guessing? No, you talked about this the day before yesterday: you said that you were with a neighbor's girl at the front garden, and that she was a month or two older than you. By the way, how did you know that? And you were still standing with her and admiring the flowers - shaggy, purple. She said that they have been growing for a hundred years. And you didn't believe her. Why?

As her mind frantically searched for an answer, Elena got tired of waiting. Her leg, with a raised knee, languidly threw back to the side, the lower back, as if there were no bones in her body, flexed elastically. She closed her eyelids, a long, quiet moan escaped from her parted lips, floating like a cant from her head through her damp, crumpled hair, an impatient palm lay flat next to his groin and, stealthily, fingering her fingers, slipped. Her question was temporarily stuck in the prelude of flutes and horns, which played so that thoughts disappeared at once. However, in a pause, without breaking the musical system, she could ask:

- So what, and how was it there?

“And expansive and elegiac and eccentric. Oh well!" He chuckled.

In the period of drizzling absurd quarrels and silent troubles, the Static, softening, retreated when he recalled this idyll, fulfilled, like everyone else at such a time, oaths of eternal fidelity and romantic dreams. His eyes went blank: how could he not have foreseen the nightmare that began later? It would also be appropriate to ask about that mysterious star that so fatally led him to Elena. He did not shy away from himself and did not hide: they still met with the enchanting, unpredictably mischievous and incomparable Angela.In dreams, she still appeared in front of him as before: she laughed, clung like a blade of grass in the field and flirted. "Kochanaj mnie! kochanaj... But immediately, laughing, she suddenly burst out, - sparkling with calves and bare feet over the grass, ran like a gazelle to hide in the foliage. Trying to find her, he walked along the bed of intertwined roots of a dense, like an enchanted forest, looked out for her and, looking around, called out. She found herself more often somewhere nearby: whispering from the branches now "hot", now "cold" teased like a dryad and beckoned. "Give me your hand, idziemy z mna... That is our common, then los. Widzisz, one też poświęcają się!"5. Jumping out of her hiding place, with a charming innocence in her eyes that were right in front of him, she held out her hand. And he obeyed as a faithful page and knight, wherever she wished, followed her. She also wanted that when the time came, they met again at the same place, to swear allegiance already "to the grave" and then go together to the night Watch... "What watch?" But Angela did not explain when that time would come, or what it was: “Ostatni, rozumiesz? " At the same time, over and over again, their conversation took place in a bilingual mixed dialect, as if the languages ​​had not yet separated phonetically: the Polish Latin alphabet was perceived by ear as Cyrillic, and it seemed that he understood everything. Saying goodbye to her, it happened that he shuddered in his sleep - opening his eyes, he looked at the luminescent dial of the alarm clock, which was on the table in front of the bed, and remembered that he had already been a couple of months, then three more months, then four more, how he was married. Yes, meeting now with Angela, he often found in her something of Elena, as unique as when they walked along the alleys of the park, attracting to themselves with the dope of herbs, the coolness of silvery groves and giving off mint virgin dew. What at first united everyone - him, Elena, Angela - with that ardent hidden demiurge, who soon became not a roundabout obstacle, as if an artificial obstacle on the way? Did it start with him or with longing for Angela, with whom sooner or later it was necessary to part, and the memory associated with her more and more ached in the chest and melted like the sevenfold light of the Pleiades?

Imagine for a moment that he would start talking about that in bed - what a sad story it could turn out! But, fortunately, all this is still out of the realm of speculation, almost like a leisurely fortune-telling on the coffee grounds. It was not even worth asking then. One river in flood was not enough for them, they were overwhelmed and carried forward like a powerful tidal wave. And both uncontrollably revel in this feeling: not life, strawberry jam.

The honeymoon lasted for a year. During this year, and without significant hassle, between the "horns and castanets", they managed to move to a newly renovated departmental house, which was not far from the Office. The apartment turned out to be overlooking the river escarpment. It had a black marble bathroom, sparkling against the walls like a cowrie sink with an ensemble of anodized handles, armored glass cabinet doors for hanging toiletries, a mirror in front of it, and a headset built right there through a transparent shower partition. But what was more striking was the kitchen, the size of their former room, with ready-made imported equipment. At the bottom of the entrance, a mustachioed, non-familiar concierge was on duty at the table, whom Elena immediately dubbed "the old maid." She endlessly read the same volume of Flaubert in a shabby softcover, and if she was distracted, she brought the lorgnette to her face, with the expression of a Guinean tortoise, lying under her hand, probably of heirloom value.

Wandering around the rooms in her usual form, when she was not wearing anything, or like sprouted beans in her favorite plush robe with a hood, and so dreamed of living in luxury before, Elena was terribly glad about the change of scenery.Most of all, on weekends, she liked to stand under the shower, making various cycles and erotic figures behind the partition (as if she had no idea that her husband had already entered and was looking at her). Then she looked around - demonstratively, fatly and easily moving her hips, bent over at the waist and beckoned him with a finger with mischievous mischief. Before climbing under a stream of water scattered by a plastic sieve, where there was a body ardently clung to him and smelling of meadow chamomile and sage, he alternately saw two Helen: one of the walls was half a meter in width, from feet to head mirrored. Elena somehow contrived to contemplate him too, she terribly liked to look at both bodies together. The balcony with the prospect of parking for cars was constructive here, but it was rarely used, because all the bed linen on call was already changed and washed by the washerwoman.

A year ahead of his wife (she was capable, but did not differ in diligence, and when she got married, it seems, she completely lost all interest in the path of "dry lifeless sciences"), Statikov successfully defended his diploma. His defense turned into a truly family event: before that, when he disappeared in the library in the evenings, Elena was jealous of him for every little thing, but, as he received his diploma, she made a grand feast. Yes, before life was not so diverse, he thought, when they sat at the table in the living room and clinked glasses of good vintage champagne: Elena preferred semi-sweet more, but for the sake of an opportunity she made a sacrifice, bought somewhere a real brut from chardonnay. Apparently, she admired her husband. Sitting across the table, he kissed her hand with a beautiful expensive ring on his finger, listened to her reasoning that this was just the beginning of their life together, that he was smart and even without a diploma, which, as he knows, both of them had a hard time getting, perfectly developed. So what if he desires strongly - and he does? - it will be able to achieve even more. He listened to these reflections with his heart and at the same time saw how the bubbles adhered to the glass of the wine glass were stubbornly holding onto the walls ... Noticing the embarrassment on his face, Elena looked affectionately, slowly raised the glass and immediately changed the subject. Uncomplicated somehow, on a whim, she could be a subtle tactician, she immediately tried to guess his desires. So why not, he thought. Let her lips speak beauty, which in itself was like justice. But isn't the goal what she mentioned? And is there anything more weighty in life besides such smiles, steadfastly secured happiness for two? In essence, everything was as it was, as she said: before meeting with her, he floated as with the flow, the immediate goal was to obtain a diploma. But this was not his task, it was only an intermediate goal.

In the service, this inevitable touch in his increased inner quest was not ignored. To prevent him from hesitation in loyalty to the once made step and to strengthen the desire to stay at the unscheduled meeting - closer to the fall, but timed to coincide with the successfully completed educational stage, he was congratulated on the already approved promising appointment. Mentioning some of his merits and shaking hands, the authorities were very convincing, while they wished that he would say something in response. To be honest, he did not count on such a pump and felt himself under the gaze of his colleagues standing in front of him as in front of a Roman triumphant a little out of place. He did not like, even hated when his dignity was extolled: this undermined his mental structure, that life charter, laid down in the parental family and more aimed at self-criticism, the authority he himself affirmed. He did not remember what he said: from the inability to flirt and, bewildered, he uttered only three dozen quiet stumbling words. The speech turned out to be unimpressive: those around him, each of whom was much more experienced than him, could get the impression that he was not happy with congratulations or the appointment. But he dreamed it with excitement.He was overly exacting of himself: none of those who knew about the degree of his qualifications and hard work firsthand, honoring him, could have suspected something unworthy and twisted their souls.

Elena was proud of this circumstance, immensely rejoicing in his successes, and at the same time spent more. Praising one of her next exquisite outfits with a discreet label "Yves Saint Laurent" and looking at his high-precision watch in a rectangular case - a gift for graduation, Statikov tried not to get discouraged. The wife was wasteful beyond her means, but it was not just about the budget: any unjustified luxury, as he believed, spoils, corrupts the mind. He reasoned so to himself: his charming wife had nothing to remind of this. She might not understand something, misinterpret his words, think what good, that he is stingy. And yet they once had an impartial conversation. Elena stated that her dresses and other toilets were purchased by someone in Monte Carlo or Strasbourg: a friend said where, but, frankly, she no longer remembers. In short, not in a not so expensive European boutique. And his watch, which at the time of presentation still showed Bien's time, flew in someone's briefcase directly from the ski Alps. He instantly got sick of asking about other jewelry. Well, in general, she behaved and reasoned, probably, like all young wives in these cases. Without thinking at all about how much this can be combined with work, she wanted to be with him all day long, grumbled affectionately if he was late for the table, then pulled him into her arms and did not want to hear about anything else. He knew, while going shopping in his absence, she was already looking after the baby's underwear and was going to give birth “as soon as she was lucky”. Yes, he drew attention to this unconditional fact: she was both luxury-loving and practical, she did not see much difference between work and family. And in this respect she was extremely ambitious. Her love ardor, which never dried up, and what sooner or later came out as a consequence, in her mind, should have contributed to the fact that her husband constantly improved his career, had well-deserved honors and received even more.

As far as he could, he pleased his wife's ambitions and reciprocated her frankness. And yet there was something he couldn't tell her about. Elena, with her feminine sanity and ambition realized through him, must have been greatly amazed if she knew about it. Yes, his own ambition, which, as he believed, sometimes parasitizes and ruins the harvest, did not unconditionally push them around. As he gazed into the mirror that still hung in the bedroom in the morning, part of a modest inheritance, in a walnut runic oval frame, a sober gardener awakened in him. Why did Trofimov help him and since then showed attention to his fate, already from afar? He himself who has no offspring and, perhaps, in his declining years worried about this, - to direct, to start pushing up the career ladder, he could have without any ulterior motive. But this gigantic man, no longer working in the ministry, but whose surname was still ingrained and trembling by the local authorities, it seems, still closely followed his progress and took care of him. Even during the life of my mother, the question that had lodged in my head and had tormented since then was only one. Then, out of cowardice, he was careful not to ask her about it directly, but she herself avoided touching the past in conversations: when his father had not yet drunk, even before his detention, what connected the whole family with Trofimov? And in general, what could this official have in common with his father? Having little idea of ​​what was like a skeleton in a parent's closet, he was probably overly suspicious when he tried to figure out these relationships on his own. But what comes to mind at least once cannot be disregarded overnight.And in the direction he was still not mistaken: from a distance, formally having nothing to do with him, at first it was unintelligible, and the first thunder struck.

With an unsuccessful change of regional authorities, a split occurred in the strong-headed, but decrepit top of the Directorate. And from the capital for an ostrastka, like a popular character with a broomstick, a lean, lean and long-handed inspection arrived with lightning speed: from olden times, service affairs are boring without intrigues and intrigues! Like a field mouse, Sherivetev fell under the millstones - that unlucky person whom Statikov ran into in the corridor, being still a talented courier, as it was said in the dossier, but completely not recognizing the force of the circumstances above himself. Here it is necessary to make an explanation for those who are unfamiliar with the secrets of state service: this was the idea of ​​Sherivetev's closest colleagues, who, at least for greater persuasiveness, looked up to their bosses in everything, and bosses, who, on occasion, always referred to the authority of their colleagues. Behind the obverse of this fine-grained characteristic, which sounded to the trained ear precisely heretic and already under the very curtain of what was replicated by someone, no one bothered to look. Therefore, no one knew about the true nature of Sherivetev, that free freeman and witchcraft, who opened the same world in a new way of intelligent inner liberation, in short, all that Statikov, thanks to their relationship, revealed in himself. (He was lifting the curtain a little now: it is not easy to talk about what is expensive, what you did not save in time and what causes pain in the heart even from the grains of loss). This pain was difficult. To be frank to the end, she united everything that he myself I discovered in myself, and what in its own way made Sherivetev related to the figure of ... Angela! Yes, ineby their own paths, and harmoniously and sometimes belligerently coexisting in it, for the time being, they balanced the mind and expanded the vault of the spiritual space. At the same time, both were in him, it would seem, even before the time when he met everyone. He came to such a conclusion, observing himself, and, no matter how he wondered, he could not rationally explain it! The laws of Tao, with their all-encompassing universal panorama, of course also manifested themselves here. In addition to everything, a sober assessment, a thoughtful and calm rethinking of certain everyday situations were fruitful in relation to the development of meditative practice. But to the previous fortune-telling from the "Book of Changes" he cooled down. Tossing copper two-kopeck coins, through the devaluation of those already out of circulation, but still stored by him in a separate box, which was removed from the table in the absence of his wife on occasion (Elena saw in such activities one fun and, therefore, a potential hindrance to her love) , now he himself seemed to be something abstract. No, it was not a childish and useless waste of time, as she thought: the game gave a reason to reflect, trained observation, was an articulate arbiter and tempered the will. And yet, the balance between "dark" Yin and "light" Yang, only as a game, no longer captured the mind and did not possess the heart muscle so much. Meanwhile, at the sight of Sherivetev, he immediately remembered Angela, experiencing at the same time either jealousy or pity. He could discern such feelings in himself. But even these refined manifestations of his psyche, as it follows, could not understand: in the nature of a colleague, nothing corresponded to Angela's temper, everything was exactly the opposite.

- Well, how are you, how? Is everything well with you today? - he usually asked somewhere on the sidelines, as if from someone else's evil eye.

Due to official formalities and some hardened laziness, open friendship between them did not work out. Nevertheless, sometimes their paths crossed somewhere. And she was dumbfounded at fleeting meetings with this sage. He still had the tendency to take by the arm, one had only to gape, and slowly carry him along the labyrinth of corridors with openwork-blue baroque vaults, along the way explaining something like a dispersed mentor on a walk, drawing intricate zigzags and circles in the air with his finger. It was interesting to listen to him. But if you look at their conversations more meticulously, it would be immodest and imprudent to be content indiscriminately with what he presented.

“Of course you know that,” he said one day.- I just want to remind you that in our building - not in an institution, obviously, God forbid, but in a building, there are only three floors. On each floor there are three or four departments, each with its own structure, office apparatus and several branches, like feudal vassals on the side, that is, again with their own structure, but with limited powers. Due to the specifics of the work between neighboring departments, friction sometimes arises. Well, you understand, it is torture for our official to monitor the daily observance of order, which only happens there. But to put it bluntly, more often than not it’s a trifle of some sort, as between children who didn’t share a scoop or plot in the same sandbox. So it does not come to fundamental disagreements or fierce scuffles, but more often it turns into some kind of paperwork and fuss. But these petty disputes, all the more, have a disease-causing effect on the apparatus. And the management, in order to establish a row, is forced to intervene: to support someone, to make a slap on someone, sometimes, for example, even to teach a lesson, and a branch with that name should be completely abolished. But this, as you understand, is solely for reasons of exemplary morality, for the information of the uninitiated. In fact, no matter what is said or done, everything always ends in peace, and disagreements and punishments remain on paper. So that's it. To eliminate such contradictions, there is one more floor, the fourth, with the status of immunity and neutrality. Immediately, I note that this interdepartmental business floor is not an invention, not a fiction, but actually a completely material superstructure, so to speak. But no matter how you look, even through the most powerful field glasses, you cannot see it from the street.

He shared this conclusion as a discovery he made, which had to be immediately reeled up on a mustache. But for a person with experience in courier service, this was an open secret. This additional, or spare, as if built-on floor was, generally speaking, incomplete. Presumably, it took place at a level two meters below the ceiling of the foyer and the assembly hall, which was on the third floor, and was a rather long closed terrace on consoles, inside it looked like a gallery. With its Venetian-style windows narrowed like loopholes, this additional floor looked out into the courtyard with a darkened arched bezel at the gate and a cropped lawn in front of garbage cans, where in the morning you could watch a janitor in a technical vest. He alone controlled an electric mower, in winter - with a shovel, which had a twin handle like a cart, and in the fall - with a broom. He was without replacements, which could be guessed by his black hat with two cross-shaped muramy stripes, like braids, on the back of his head. And from above, it looked like the housekeeper of the courtyard who had remained here since ancient times, which was closed on four sides by the cream-colored frame of the building, in the shape of an isosceles trapezoid. There were no working rooms in this gallery, it was conceived near the assembly hall, perhaps to give special comfort and solidity to the Council that once sat here and, as they said, was then covered with a carpet along its entire length with tables for cigars and chairs placed at intervals ... But after repeated changes, there was no need for it, and the door that led to this captain's bridge from the foyer was clogged and draped. According to the assurances of Sherivetev, who had reconnoitred a certain "roundabout", which he presented with the face of Magellan, who opened the strait between two oceans, it was possible to get here if you knew how to pick up the keys to the zinc-sheathed and inconspicuous door in the corridor, at the very dead end, by the toilet. A quarter from the floor, she had black strokes from scraping the soles, and no one cleaned the warped parquet around, as if waiting for repairs. The plank at the top was screwed on like a blindfold carelessly, and the stencil on it read Escape.The pressure of those who, maybe in a hurry, confused her with the door to the toilet, she did not give in, for which she, miserable, and fell. The one who needed, however, knew that the key was lying - obliquely, under a rolled-up fire hose, which was connected to the tap behind the cabinet door on the wall by means of a coupling. All regular or self-styled visitors who came here for the first time were led up from the corridor, to the very ceiling - a plank steep ladder with a polyurethane pipe laid on the left side instead of the railing. And what looked like an attic observation window from below turned out to be a hole during the ascent. Here the ceiling was raised, and a three-meter vestibule led out onto the terrace around the bend. Two tiny steps led down to the floor, paved with something dirty and whitish. A wobbly and ugly iron structure, which according to the emergency evacuation plan was known as "PV-1" and in everyday life was just a ladder, pierced the annex from the side from the bottom to the roof. Like a centipede, resting against the plaster of the building, with its ridge rumbling and shuddering during thunderstorms, it climbed to the roof two meters from the ground. Although there was no point in this, such a reserve was made, apparently, according to a single template, in order to discourage a gang of growing up accelerators from the vanguard of the street sneaky punks from empty climbing in other public places. The gallery was not specially heated, but warm air penetrated here through vents from the assembly hall, so during breaks - everyone could arrange them for himself when he wanted to, in order to dissipate, so long as it did not interfere with the main work - even in winter, during a thaw, it was possible here walk freely. In good weather, from the narrow dusty windows, two pinkish turrets were visible near the greening junior kokoshnik on the opposite roof and between them - like scattering clouds, horns and masts of VHF antennas. The fact that this spare floor was used for negotiations on occasion was most likely a duck dropped from the hands of someone. It is known that mountains of all sorts of fables about cellars, abandoned attics and compartments in old buildings in the field of myth-making are proliferating by leaps and bounds. And yet, if there was no key in the locker with the fire hose, no strangers came in again.

Seemingly feeling very comfortable in the role of Chicherone, Sherivetev showed this place and the time later, when they were here, he liked to remember their first walk together and tease.

- Note: forty-eight or fifty steps one way along this sienna painted wall, and the same amount back. But certainly not forty-two! Something, I see, does not coincide with your cabalistic calculations. It does not work! Or should I multiply by three and a half?

He had in mind the interconnection of all numbers in the Office, in the mysticism of which Statikov was inclined to believe earlier.

- So you said that the floor is incomplete?

- I did not say that. Although you cannot keep up: you already, of course, have smelled everything here before me, managed to visit! And that, hopefully, you will come somehow, and you will be here on the wall at once and will get some advice?

- There are enough prophecies below.

- Yes naboutwell, don't you understand! "mene, tekel, uparsin"- are you expecting this for an hour? But then you will have no one to prompt. No, all these numbers of yours mean absolutely nothing. Both hermeneutics and theosophy are outside the innermost areas, where they are still suitable, like cranes pecking into a shallow plate with spelled scum. On duty, as it were. Take at least some representative of unorthodox trends: they, as a rule, all begin with large-scale and indiscriminate criticism, in their holy fervor they are ready to overthrow everything to the ground. They don't even think about it, but as a result, it turns out like an oratorical verb. And why? But because they do this want, believe that if they are right in one thing, then they are right in another.And if a person builds something from the mind, and not from the mind, then with time, uneven hour, it is brought in.

- What, mind, mind - isn't it one thing?

- Maybe one thing, it's like someone got lucky. It's not about words. Why, when they don't see the difference between something, they use it in the same way. The instruction here is very simple, it goes back in image to the Bible: the mind is needed in order to pick an apple from the branch, and the mind - so as not to tear it at all. Almost everyone has the first, while the second, given our suchness, I ask you humbly forgive, everyone lacks a little. In short, everything that is associated with the value-rational human structure is controversial. And if so, although this is not a conclusion of paramount importance, then consciousness can be controlled. Not to manipulate, this is for day laborers from the first three floors, but to manage. Such is the heuristic: no matter how you look, everything is science. Not to confuse it in our hospitable language with sophistry! Why are you so incredulous? After all, everything goes its own way with us, in vain they are looking for stylistic flaws, but names are changed in different ways. We'll survive somehow. I'm still curious: why does it seem to you that this additional floor is incomplete? Nice to know!

But more often he talked about something substantive, one could ignore the remarks dropped in passing. Yes, he did not expect to get any answer immediately and, if there was no such answer, did not ask again, did not find fault. And in general, when he said something, he had to hold his breath and only listen. Reason, busy with the day's gimmick, became clearer in the course of these conversations, became more exacting of itself and harder. At the same time, Sherivetev never left anything unsaid, an started and not always pleasant conversation was not ambiguously interrupted by him halfway through, and if he doubted anything, he did not hide it in himself and, if he was wrong, he admitted it do not hesitate directly. When he was carried away, describing something with vividness, his speeches could be heard to his heart's content, he reasoned with such visual and exhaustive clarity that what was said was immediately easily assimilated. But later, if there was a need to recall something, in thoughts to turn to the same episodes of the conversation, it was very difficult to reproduce, because it had the general property of subtle popularization, clarity of the story. Looking at him, it involuntarily occurred to him that, had he not been in the Office, had his fate been different, he could have become a magnificent storyteller and interpreter, such an improviser who could explain on his fingers both the essence of a metaphysical theory, and any an everyday question and, in general, everything that he indulged in with the greatest interest, as if yielding to the childish excitement that still lived in him, even here. Sometimes, when the two of them were in this gallery, he, emphasizing the importance of the topic and the moment, slowed down his steps. And his gaze, usually thoughtfully open, seemed to be filled with weight under the burden of something approaching from afar, barely perceptible, still invisible to most others (which he never admitted by the strength of his heart), but inevitable. During such conversations, it seemed that he was reasoning more with himself. As if looking for something to grab onto, from time to time he glanced around, circled with his brown eyes now along the whitish flooring under his feet, now along the elements of the roof behind the wall, although he probably could not distinguish anything.

Once, on the eve of changes, the suffocating smoke of which had just been drawn in the Office, they walked the same way together. Warm light orange sun wedges fell from the windows into the gallery with an oblique comb: like slices of freshly planed pine, with flies buzzing above them, they spread across the floor, changing at the walls in a clear twilight shadow. And there was the impression that they were walking along the squares of the edge of the chessboard.

- A lot of cupbearers are very tempting: displacement, a great specialist! - said Sherivetev with ironic sadness about the reshuffle that had begun, which also affected him. - That's it, my friend. What can you say here? without a reason and a horse harness you will not object. Well, it's your will, if that's what it is. Why, the caftan, perhaps, by the time, as they say, is not sewn according to the figure. Have you, I heard, also changes: boyar mansions, the firstborn in the family?

When he, although rarely, with affectionate reproach asked about it, in more familiar terms or using his not smoldering figures of speech, the extraordinary proportions of perspective were violated. All-pervading wonderful light filled everything with itself, streaming from bulging, just humble eyes. And Statikov instantly dissolved in this light, - drooped loftyhow he himself defined it. And I felt the oppressive bulkiness of the outer circle: the stucco white-stone chambers - and those that already exist, and those that will still be, and the bliss of homespun comfort, among which for some reason he was alone, there was neither Angela nor Elena. For a moment he fell into a panic, was completely overwhelmed by this performance. "That's it ... that's it!" - it whirled in my head. But here, feeling as if ashamed of this thought, he again saw Sherivetev, not as before, but more physically and without embarrassing charisma, detached. Not a demigod, but as if a fallen angel walked in front of him, without powerful wings spreading behind his shoulders and radiant armor protecting the ramen. And this fallen angel who commanded them was in a saggy tweed jacket with a dangling herring tie, a stale shirt that had been washed at the collar, and knocked down brown shoes. In addition, and with indistinct eyes, like topaz. Mumbled his own: "ege, snag!"- and walked to his own destruction, as if not understanding this at all. Odd after all and ... too frank!

On the sidelines and near samovars with cranes and cords, between puffs and pies with milk mushrooms and sevryuzhina, a pulling, nodding Volga voice was repeated like a mantra. - And this news was immediately carried, scurrying through the floors, all as if waxed, in gray polyester suits and haircuts newway, almost to zero, nimble and impudent, like Drosophila flies, clerks:

- The inspection was successful!

When the office hype died down, Statikov was already in the rank referent... From the hall overcrowded like an anthill, he was transferred to a spacious reception room for four people, not so much close, as he thought at first, but only geographically close to the authorities. Although such a situation was not a novelty for anyone, the order to appoint here, with an official vacancy opening at least once every three years, was received with envy and flattering. In addition to various preferences - salary allowances and several non-protocol privileges, the room itself for those who were endowed with a little artistic taste could claim to be some kind of pictorial oasis and arboretum. Since then, when he caught sight of Sherivetev's memorandum, and he looked here ten times a day, annoyed at his chronic romance, and standing like a fool in front of the omnivorous and loving Shamahanova, nothing has changed here. The wandering soul, we know, itself does not know where it will find it.

Remaining a rudiment of interior luxury and chic in the institution since the old days and immediately became the subject of intimate aspirations in the planning department, the reception room was still presented - a majestic Butia eriospatha to the ceiling, scraping on the plafond with dancing nymphs with straw-greenish feather-like branches growing in flowerpots and falling like wild grapes along the entire wall with jade-saffron begonias on the sides of that - little-known engravings by Challen and Boucher ... two works could have belonged with a stretch - "Self-portrait" and "Lady with a Fan" from Watteau's paintings: at best, two copies, but outsiders were assured that the originals of something of the same kind, presumably, were also with "little-known" engravings Challen). And - the general pictorial diva: the winged female Sphinx on the panel, the subject of Doronin's aesthetic admiration.A little more than a meter diagonally, a monster on lion's paws sat under the stars lit up in the sky among a dull landscape of sands with a pergola peeking out from the side near the ravelin and blocking the entrance with its menacingly open mouth. According to general observations, a spark of "sinister" was brought here by an optical, more precisely - a stereoscopic effect: the room was pentagonal, from the secretary's desk to the massive door to Doronin's office, along the fifth additional wall with a panel and at an angle to the asymmetric windows there was a carpet path. And the feminine Sphinx, who seemed to be ready to rears up to his full height, looked at everyone entering with fierce eyes burning like a fiery pyrope.

Doronin, although he did not express himself in this sense directly, but he very much appreciated, as well as the panel itself - one of the few antiquities that remained here after an inept, roughly carried out restoration, and its plot, perhaps, seeing in that features of the past greatness and brilliance of the Ancient East, motives with echoes of legends. An aesthetic darling of fate and a disguised epicure, at heart he was not the cruel despot that he might seem. And, nevertheless, using his subtle mind and all his office skill, he managed to place himself among his subordinates in such a way that, even half-jokingly in his presence, no one would dare to call the aforementioned monster with some dissonant name. As far as collective psychology is concerned, there was that rare case when his superior bosses appreciated him, although they disliked him, and his subordinates both respected and feared him. And so, it must be, in order to somehow brighten up this circumstance and the emerging, maybe someone has a parallel with the Theban myth, namely that the elite state here was renewed almost every year, the reception, which for some unknown reason was firmly entrenched, everyone called - Winter Garden.

On this topic, as well as on the topic of euphemisms in general - apparently, as a kind of memory of the common cradle of mankind, one could reflect separately. But the very word "Garden" in those who appeared in the Directorate recently and had no imagination, could cause spasms of irritation. It was also curious that this attitude was initially presented as either a banal "tribute to fashion" or a superficial lexical rejection, without clarifying the latent, so to speak, reasons. But if you try to conduct a research here, you could find that the rejection of any phrase, directed outwardly at a physical object, was at first expressed in trifles, from hidden misunderstanding to reasoned and half-joking criticism, but then, as if swollen from an abscess, tried to turn to persistent and outright hostility to anything that had anything to do with the ill-fated object. At the same time, the matter was complicated by the fact that both "inveterate conservatives" and "pseudo-liberals" who opposed them, it seemed, found it difficult to separate their passions both from themselves and from the question that initially caused all the controversy. Using for this mostly inductive method in reasoning and instead of synthesis analysis, the difference between, relatively speaking, imperial style and modern both competing parties determined themselves: one that was before and left, as expected, ruined everything, and these "upstarts from under the table" absolutely had to modernize everything... Here, it seems like when the wind and temperature outside the window change, blindly borrowing something from archaic ideas, people proceeded from the fact that when a particular phenomenon was mentioned, it could repeat itself. In this sense, although the original basis of the subjects has changed little, any previous cliché or name threatened to be a relic. The problem, in its texture, was seen as moldy and over the decades it was already pretty mutilated, as the veterans of the institution said. But the more the excitement grew around her, the more enthusiastically she was exploited.

He was already familiar with the new environment.His mentor and immediate neighbor turned out to be Lapin, a meticulous and omniscient financial advisor who, if I may say so, had a complex and original nature. For those who knew him less, he was an impenetrable, heavy on his feet and impregnable man with a puffy sanguine face and changing from "radish to starch syrup" - as he himself said when he wanted to pry someone, two-tone and two-stroke facial expressions. When his irresistibly fixed gaze from under the bushy fused eyebrows, first resting on the chest, tried to nail those who entered the place and those, overflowing with a feeling of piety, indulged in confused explanations or wilted, Lapin immediately erased the severity from his face. With a light, familiar wave of his hand, he called the petitioners, sat down in front of him on a chair with apoplectic broken legs, and said:

- I heard about your case, I heard. So do you want me to help?

Having listened to the usually affirmative answer of the visitors who were unsure of support, he began to tell some curious incident or background of an incident, which he read about in the newspaper. At the same time, he followed the expression on the face of the applicant and expected what and how he would say. Subjected to a spontaneous change of mood and hopelessly suffering from malaria fever himself, at first glance he despised all inexperienced clients, including the impudently hasty walkers from adjacent departments, who came for help, in his words, as on his own name day (doing here, however, a small indulgence for the more sensitive sex). But it was an appearance, in fact, he defended himself in such a manner. For those who knew him better, he was a big hunter of stale unsolved crosswords, corporate parties and a foodie. In the occasional discussions, when socially significant topics were touched upon, caring for "an idea, not a motto," he immediately put forward his considerations on each issue and, defending them, was quite harsh. And yet Lapin did not fully disclose his true credo to his colleagues, but relied on this, oddly enough, more on pen and paper. Everyone in the department remembered his journalistic embarrassment. At the beginning of the summer season, with the information and time he had got hold of somewhere, he wrote two not bad articles on the topic of the day and printed them - “tempted by temptation” - in the democratic, royalty-free press that appeared like raincoats out of the ground. The editorial staff liked the material by the sensation and the slowdown during the holidays: they immediately responded with a free number with one of his articles and an attached coupon of a six-month subscription. After reading the letter of praise in the envelope, Lapin cursed the editor over the phone, leaving him with the right of satisfaction, and the gift coupon, which hit him like a slap in the face, immediately sent back with a short and fervent wish. He stated that he certainly did not expect such an attitude from the once venerable mass media publication, which had written, apparently, to the point that it approached moral bankruptcy. And on the very editorial board, which was pulling the strap of professional bondage by its cracker, not that he was angry, but no longer wanted to have any contacts with her. He insisted that he had now found for his "philosophical experiments" more respectable founders in the near-literary industry. But I was still experiencing that episode - I honored all the nouveau riche, who on Sunday afternoon on the porch would not serve a penny, and gravitated in the breadth of his soul to large-scale reasoning. All this happened according to one scenario, like a practiced Chinese ritual. And it looked like this.

Lapin usually began with the damned question about the weather - that is, about global warming and the exorbitant growth of ozone holes, which seemed to him a particularly gloomy sign, with accelerated ablation and an unprecedented anomaly of the geomagnetic poles (as a rule, with a separate turn of speech about prowling hostile UFOs and others like them tectonic movements).

- Others say that we ourselves create it, as if we are conjecturing something out of our ignorance, therefore, they say, we deserve all this. Nonsense! And here and at home to my faithful I say that - nonsense. But the key word that they want to implant in us by all means, notice: deserve.

Mentioning the ozone holes and movements, he slowly reached into his pocket - and left his hand there for a while, forgetting why he did it. Then, relaxingly leaning over the armrest of a leather chair, he made a recursive transition to the news column in Vedomosti, uttered two or three tricky phrases about financial policy, masterfully building them in such a way that without transparency and a sense of elbow, it is impossible to achieve order in this matter. And after a pause, during which his vast linen handkerchief made a cruise from his trouser pocket to the chunky cliff of his chin and back, while the helmsman sneezed contagiously, which was like the rolling of the surf. - Only after that did he again look at Statikov with a jet of motionless eyes and, as it were, in continuation of the current topic, reported (although it is not clear what exactly he complained about) about the vile manner of some furtively muttering something.

- Pardon me, why in Latin? And he didn’t offer you gold, heirloom? Something is still cheap, I can tell you, not in avantage! A spouse is a flight attendant, you know? Cairo, Athens, Rome ...

Here in the room a secret mechanism worked like in a musical apparatus equipped with a rotary perforated drum. Eleanor Nikandrovna, who was sitting diagonally from Lapin (now she was wearing a beautifully curled wig with tones of mother-of-pearl and insisted that she was not spending her annual vacation alone: ​​first in the Seychelles, and then with to their loved one, in Turkey), coughed with a grace note and spoke with a breath and swallowing unnecessary words:

- And what is it know, aa? spoken! Tell me Phil-Ipaatch!

Semi-deaf expert Kalugin - Filaret Ipatievich, like an Arabian Bedouin under a bandaged palm tree, nodded earnestly. It was indecent to mention Sherivetev, whose rebellious spirit still hovered here.

The statics from the bottom of my heart would like to add something to this satirical portrait, soften it at least in hindsight in major tones. But then he had already become so accustomed to what he saw every day, and he himself was imbued with the same attitude that he did not comprehend it with a heightened feeling, at least without the contradictory negative reflection, which was generally characteristic of him in life. Outside of service or on small business trips, which he arranged for himself, so as not to get hung up on routine, this specially allocated, all noting accounting and summary body had a rest. But as soon as he entered the service front door and went to the Winter Garden, which, following the fashion that had come, was increasingly called the "small office," his mind was rebuilt like a thermocouple. Probably the same thing happened with his colleagues, with everyone who greeted him every day and in a friendly way assisted in his work. In other people's miscalculations or weaknesses, the "realistic approach and common sense" tried to find any advantage and benefit that he could derive for himself. "Desired by an uncomfortable waste?"- as Sherivetev would probably put it. Yes, the more we deny something in our souls, the more we depend on it, apparently. A year before that, having fallen out of favor as a "renegade and skygazer" and after that, and their own convicted and rejected by the collective (Doronin avoided pronouncing his surname, used any name), he probably would have only smiled when he learned that such a trifle worries someone. And yet annoying thoughts in the same harness with words sat down and survived, although with the subjunctive particle "would", but came. And because they came, as if looking for an accessible gyrus in the brain in order to lay eggs there, at first it was uncomfortable in a new place. Overcome by tides of self-hypnosis, overly demanding of himself, he just took it all that way.To tell the truth, he could not reproach himself for anything. On the contrary, when he pondered about Sherivetev, recalling their conversations in the upper gallery, and weighed all the pros and cons in his mind, it seemed to him that if he had given up something earlier, say something or do something wrong , then he would certainly have lost. And he would have lost not only in what made his official status and authority stable in the eyes of his colleagues, he could have lost here immediately in everything. Internally, he was not ready for such a turn. Following the heuristic and unexplored path that Sherivetev walked in his life, pushing him to the same, he could lose here much more than everything that he already has and can still get, if he desperately wants to. Both in his views and ethical criteria, although he had similar judgments, he was not a Sherivetev, and he did not want to be one. And this position, or the job situation, no matter how negative reaction such a phrase caused in his soul, was more significant, had a hundred times greater weight than an increased salary bonus or service bonuses. Under the influence of that, he understood someone else's rejection of any informal dissent - that is, even a slight deviation from generally accepted, deep-rooted and often false ideas - as an immutable and objectively conditioned reality. One's own attitude, that is, external tolerance for these manifestations, is as a subjectively transient and forced measure, as a kind of mental radicalism. It was such a radicalism that even elevated it in their own eyes, because it was necessary to reduce, as far as possible, the entire measure of divergence with the position of others. And it doesn't matter whether that position was borrowed from someone, temporary, or from your own shoulder, dear. When he thought so, he believed that if he is aware of his conditional tolerance and the rotationality of all changes, is able to reason sensibly and still sees in the relations of other people nothing more than vestiges of barbarism, gluttonous envy or obscurantism, then he can easily return to the previous foundations in himself ... Hardworking and assiduous, he did not dwell on such issues, all these thoughts seemed to pass by, in his heart he disdained them, while honestly doing his job. And if so, he reasoned, then the matter is fixable. The only trouble was - and here, perhaps, the main obstacle dug in, and not only his personal one, that those who repeat this from time to time usually have nothing to lose.

And after this appointment, when the annual balance was already on the nose, and life, having recovered from an office fever, placidly entered a measured channel, followed by a march a chain of other collisions, so unprecedented, they said that no one could understand.

At the end of the second decade of December, snowless and fierce from this misfortune, knowing that on Thursdays the authorities rarely call, Statikov with a foreboding entered the luxurious office, which looked like a freak show. His nostrils immediately caught the smell: in two alabaster vessels on crossed stands in a niche, dahlias, dead and crimson-leaden like bird giblets, agonized. The sports crossbow, previously bolted to the wall with three nickel-plated brackets, has already disappeared. It would not be superfluous to say that the change in the attributes of the situation, following the vicissitudes of fate, took place here regularly. Coming from the maternal side of the fairyland of Zoroastrian magicians and Scheherazade, Doronin was known as a great admirer of everything elegant, both antiques and brakant. When he saw something worthwhile (Statikov noted this once at the annual manufactured goods fair, with a remarkable auction deployed at the finish line), his oblong face, like a python's, became predatory. The objects respected it and seemed to go to him ... Without any real need, however, serving as if as their mazurka and burra - ennobled by court balls, free and easy dance of the Gallic woodcutters,a kind of decoration on the everyday facade of life. But he also quickly cooled both to people and to things.

Autumn cold weather sets in. At night, light frosts cover the puddles with ice. Where have the funny butterflies gone? Hives flew into the sheds and fell asleep there. On the slopes of forest glades, under dry leaves, lemongrass lay down for the winter. Blizzards covered snowdrifts. Foxes and weasels wander in search of food. They cannot find butterflies under the fluffy snow. Words for information: urticaria, lemongrass, not to be found.

I lived by the sea and fished. I had a boat. There was a booth in front of the house. There was a huge watchdog dog on a chain. I went to sea. He guarded the house. Watchdog greeted me cheerfully with a catch. He loved to taste fish. I patted the dog on the back and treated him to fish. Words for information: I have a huge one.

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