The winter is back again. It snows for two days already.
The Club was locked, but—with a hush pride—I took the duplicate key out of my coat pocket.
I locked myself away in the building and for an hour or so worked alone until I heard someone pull at the front door.
(Alyosha, the Supervisor, urged me to keep it latched when alone in the building: the typewriters in the rooms, you know.)
I thought it was Lenic with his competitional coat of arms but it turned out to be Rita.
I, conversationally, told her about my mistake and she instantly burst out:
'Idiots! The coat of arms! What for? The communal tomb?'
She leaned against the wooden partition put along the first flight of stairs, half of her face hidden behind the partion edge—and gazed at me with her left eye full of sorrow or pain or something of the sort.
'Are you alive?' she asked wearily.
Then, she broke the news, "There is no town. It doesn't exist any more. Why do they keep me here?'
And after a pause, she added almost in whisper, 'I've seen them. The wounded.'
She asked if anyone else was in, and if Boss had returned.
My answers were in the negative.
She went away.
Five minutes later Aida, a typist, came. They told her the Editorial House had been set ablaze. It, actually, was not, but she, all the same, decided to take home her slippers and the box of tea she was keeping at her work place.
Arcadic appeared and then Guegham, a journalist. For an entire half-hour, the Renderers' turned into a chatter room with four of us talking about nothing in particular.
Then Rafic, one more journalist, joined in and finally—once again—Rita.
Arcadic asked her if the windows in her flat were still broken and letting the wind in.
Her answer was in the affirmative.
Then, he gave an account of his talk on her behalf with some big-shot from the new Government.
'I could give her an official pass-bill, but all the same they wouldn't take her on the helicopter,' confessed the big-(but powerless)-shot.
'Why?' looking at Arcadic asked she—a small irreversibly aging girl without any close relative in this extinct town awfully far away from her Ma and with the cold winter wind sweeping over her one-room flat.
She was not crying but the tears rang all too distinctly in her voice. 'Why—they—I—why—...'
It was almost 12 a.m., and I remembered those two sizable sheets of vinyl I had hammered from inside to the two non-communicational windows in our one-but-spacey-room flat and proposed them to her.
All of us left, and I closed the Club.
Together with Rita, I went uphill towards our place.
Suddenly, she baulked and announced it unseemly to go there without being acquainted with my wife.
So, I promised her to bring the vinyl tomorrow to the Club forgetful that tomorrow is Saturday—a day-off.
At lunch there came a canon bang from the Soviet Army garrison, and Sahtik, taking it for a signal of a nearing missile attack, rushed off with the children to Underground.
Sashic appeared hurriedly and drove away having left a halfsackful of flour.
A page-and-a-half from Joyce translated.
At three p.m. I went to the downhill town to see Sashic and Valyo and discuss Sashic's proposal to evacuate our women and kids.
Sashic said he had a loft-house in Siznic Village with a supply of fire-wood there.
Together we went to Valyo and on our way met Edo—Valyo's cousin—who also hankered to find a quiet place for his family and was going to Valyo to discuss the matter.
However, Valyo was not fit for talking business.
Shortly before our arrival, he battered his twelve-year-old son, Sego.
The boy had been out with his friends for too long. His father got too worked up with anxiety about his dear son and beat him on his return.
He beat him in the underground, severely as if fighting an adult, using the boy as an outlet to dump this constant nervous tension; and during our visit he was in profound prostration, hardly speaking a word, shocked by his own deed.
Our unstarted discussion was interrupted by a prolonged GRAD hail. All ran downstairs.
I lingered behind to make a piss (I noticed more than once that sudden volleys loosen my bladder) and to switch off the gas in the kitchen (Orliana had been preparing tea for us).
Valyo came back somewhat ashamed to switch off the gas too.
I was heading home up the Kirov Street. At some places the side-walks were totally covered with the rubble and debris. A desultory shelling was going on.
Along the entire street, I encountered no more than a dozen people—three of them astray soldiers from the local garrison rambling amidst the dead town with no comprehensible aim: one more species of poor boys.
I came back too late for my yoga.
Then, I washed the plates they left behind scared by the GRAD bursts.
One more hail of missiles hit the destroyed town.
Now, it's calm. Twenty-past-nine p.m.
The water-walk is ahead after which I'll have the privilege to call it a day.