At 9 a.m. I was at the Club. An hour later somebody pulled at the entrance door latched from within. I went to open it.
Today, on a Saturday, no one from the staff was supposed to come; so it could be only Rita after the vinyl I had promised to give her.
However, my guess was not correct. There stood Arcadic.
We had a beard-to-beard talk on the broad one-step porch:
he—spectacled, making leather-gloved gestures in front of me;
and I—bareheaded, holding the solid pad-lock in my hand.
He said that his pal, an MP, agreed to sign a passbill for Rita's departure, only she had to have a certificate signed by a physician (say, by Boss' wife) about her being subject to some urgent medical treatment unavailable in this Republic.
The right eye of this Arcadic boy looked quite good, perhaps, a bit shifty yet good.
<!-- I don't care to look into people's sinister one, except when I'm left with no other choice.-->
He went away. There was another pull at the door.
This time it was Rafic, the consort of the paper's queen in disguise. He left in less than five minutes without mentioning a reason for his turning up.
Did he come to check if I keep promises?
Then, finally, Rita came (I, at long last, was smart enough to leave the entrance door open).
On seeing me in the Renderers' alone, she was obviously disappointed.
'Nobody's here?' asked she. (A good question on a Saturday!)
She tried to ask it in a smarter way:
'Has anyone been here?'
I knew she meant Arcadic and answered:
'Yeah, there was,' I made a sadistic pause and ended, 'Rafic and he's just left.'
Then, I gave her those sheets of vinyl and a wrapped handful of nails apologizing that they were second-hand ones.
I made it a special point to inquire if she had a reliable neighbor to drive them in.
And, after all this procrastination when she collected and absently put the things into her bag, I dropped playing suspension games and broke the news she was so eager to know about the pass-bill promised for her.
She happily rushed out of the Renderers' and down the corridor, and down the half-dozen worn-out wooden stairs, but was stopped by the metal entrance door, and—forgetful to turn its handle down—she was only squeaking and ramming at the door with all her light body, vainly and desperately, like a caged bird.
After lunch I went to the downhill town with two additional loaves of breads the mother-in-law had baked in the morning.
Carina plaintively sat next to her children serving their nap time in the underground.
She said that Sashic went to Valyo at ten a.m., but the latter was not at home and now Sashic also was somewhere in the town.
I went to Valyo. Near their block of flats, I met his father—vet Simon— making for his son's.
Orliana repeated Carina's account that Valyo left early in the morning.
She gave us the key of their flat to wait for Valyo up there.
We were sitting and waiting. At times just sitting.
Simon complained of the hard times we were having and related about his mode of survival. Then, he retold me the joke he made in the late thirties.
Valyo never came.
When Simon stretched on the sofa, I left.
Down in the underground, Orliana said Valyo had not told her a word about moving to Sashic's village.
I went uphill and near the Bus Station visited Ruben, a driver from that pipeline constructing firm.
He said his truck-bus was out of order after an accident.
Sashic was knocking around their apartment block. We had a talk sitting in his car.
He outlined his plan to use an ambulance. At the moment the roads outside of town are impassable for an ordinary car – only an ambulance can get through.
He could fuel an ambulance vehicle—all of them stopped operating long ago because of petrol absence.
When I came back, Roozahna was not at home. Her aunt Susanna suggested taking her to their village, which is next to Sashic's, and they had already taken off.
Then, Sashic and Carina came without their children (a good neighbor was asked to look after them in their underground), and we planned details of the would-be evacuation and discussed what things were to be taken to the village.
When the assembly was over they went home, and my mother-in-law stepped out. I dived into ULYSSES translation till Sahtik asked how much was left of the today's portion.
' Half a page. Why?'
' Mother went to her place for an hour or so.'
Well, it was a grand one—a piece of pride for any male.
If not only for the carping thought at the back of my mind: so what?
But it came afterwards.
Ahshaut got up at five p.m. An hour later a shell burst sent them to Underground.
No yoga. (Omni-monitoring Parathma knows better if that was because of my sloth or the aching knee.)
At supper Sahtik related about sixty traitors arrested for espionage and signaling to the enemy artillery.
The stale news repetition clearly indicated stagnating tendencies in the underground mass media.
The water-walk is ahead and then a try at having a