The house was near the forest. When the sun slowly set over the horizon in a clear weather over the lilac pine-trees in twilight it seemed that the very top of the seventeen-storied building wore a gold crown. The red-bricked building was made of two close to each other like the twins. One entrance faced to the forest and led to the parking line the other – to the road crossing the blocks of houses. Windows like the sewing sticks glued the parts of the twins. A thick wall separated one section of windows from another. Each floor had four apartments: two one-roomed and two two-roomed.
The house was strange with the sharp corners and among surrounding five-storied buildings it looked like a tower spike. Inhabitants of "the red dwarfs" struggled against the long construction which broke ecology but they lost the fight and when the house had been built frankly hated it. They called it the Tower. It attracted the eye but not the soul. To live in that house for some reason would not be desirable. Apartments in the Tower cost fabulous and in fact there was a suburb of Moscow! A place was not overcrowded far from the center and the underground was not under the windows but investors did not reduce the price and waited for "the right client". There were a few clients for a year that the most part of the windows remained empty.
For that time the local businessman whose name was known very well rented the ground floor for a casino which he loudly called "the Bay of Pleasure". In the evenings under the neon signboard of "Casino" shone the other one "Billiard Club". Below it was "Bar" and to the left "Slot Machines”. "Crazy Cash" was written by huge red letters. Inhabitants of the five-storied buildings were frightened by "Crazy Cash". It also frightened off the possible buyers of the apartments in the Tower. They were not "crazy" to wait until somebody breaks "cash" and arrange shooting under their windows.
The profitable businessman had managed to find the sanction which forces of hired workers to build a brick separate entrance to a casino for the convenience of clients. So near the Tower which became ugly was the third entrance to "Crazy Cash". Behind one of the windows of casino there was a huge palm tree in an oak tub. It was proudly looked at pine-trees from its exclusive position. Unlike the pine-trees it's always bright and warm. But it wasn't important for the wild-growing plants which didn't want to entertain clients sitting in a tub. On the glass window there was an image of the same palm tree which contour from the neon fires began to shine brightly in the darkness. So the entrance was full of lights, the bar attracted, the billiard club promised, the hall of slot machines encouraged and the crazy cash drove mad. Casino didn't like the Tower either. As nobody came there Casino was afraid to lose money but the stubborn businessman as well as his investors was waiting for the clients.
Clients were not in a hurry…
…That year the winter didn't come for a long time. More over it was much snow which wasn't going to melt, frosts at the end of March were like in January and people were sad. It was Monday. Even lights in "the Bay of Pleasure" appeared not so bright and the palm tree was bored. Yes, it was the usual Monday. The beginning of the working week and the beginning of cold boring March. The combination on the green cloth of the casino’s table meant despair.
His new black "BMW" of the fifth model had stopped near "the Bay of Pleasure" in the center of the parking line. He had looked at the shining palm tree in the window and thought: "Crazy Cash. It is so primitive.”
That irritated him. Everything irritated him last time: the weather, the late spring, clients, colleagues, employers. He left the car loudly shutting the door. And he again looked at windows of casino: "Don't wait!" They had some minutes to think: "The client arrived. The rich car, the excellent suit, the black cashmere coat, expensive boots…" "Don't even dream! Go to hell!"
Well, it's not eight but the street was quiet. At eight in the evening the entertaining program would begin and music would be loud. To attract clients the crazy owner of casino sent through powerful columns signals to everything, to everyone who was passing by. Inhabitants didn't complain. Probably, that wasn't the time for the battle. The army hadn't gathered yet under the banners. But that was only a matter of time.
"No, I am not your client." he thought and looked again at the windows.
It was the reception room. There on the tenth floor was dark. "It means I am the first." and he went to the entrance watching the time. A quarter to eight. He didn't like to be late. They had fifteen minutes to gather. Otherwise…
Otherwise what? It's not his time he would follow the game. He became irritated. Why was HE always in time? He always had a schedule. He knew time was money! Not everyone who should come here today was so rich and so demanded. Why? Really if the person was more significant the more he would appreciate time of the others. His time he should spend on himself. It’s time to communicate. That's his main problem – communication. He created the Tower for himself.
He had typed a code and entered the house loudly shutting the entrance door. The house was elite but there wasn't a guide inside. Few apartments had been sold and not everything was ready. When could he call? Could he rise on the tenth floor first? It's a quarter to eight. No, thirteen minutes to eight.
In the lift he took out the mobile phone from the pocket of the coat.
At that time one more car came to the entrance. "BMW" of the third model the same black color but not so new and a back bumper damaged. A respectful man went out of the car in the same cashmere coat. He had the same tie and the same expensive boots. He was the copy of the previous man but a little smaller and not so wide in shoulders and the face expression was simple. In general he was just the advanced copy of the man who had arrived three minutes later. His car had stopped twelve minutes to eight.
"I am not going to play, don't wait for!" he looked at windows of the casino.
Then a man looked at dark windows on the tenth floor. He thought: "Aha, it means I am the first!"
But in a second the light had flashed in two windows. He signed in disappointment and went to the house.
He repeated to himself: "My time is money and they can't be late!" then added: "Why did I agree on this adventure?" He didn't choose the Tower. But the Tower had chosen him. He nervously pressed the buttons opening the entrance door. He had forgotten a code. But then he said: "Well! Come on! Nothing serious happens!"
He had already entered the house and another car appeared near the Bay of Pleasure an old model.
A driver parked very carefully straight to the white lines. Finally, a woman of thirty years old, modestly dressed in a dark thick long coat, boots on a platform, a turtle neck sweater went out. The man turned back and nodded her. The woman wanted to come but at that time she saw the other car. The man who had arrived on "BMW" of the third model went in she stopped.
It was a dark green "Volkswagen". A man in a bright jacket went out and also nodded her asking with a smile: "Have they already gathered?"
"I have seen only one." answered the woman.
"What's the time?"
"Ten to eight." she added looking at the watch. "It’s nine already. He likes accuracy."
"It's so dark here." the man looked around."As for me I like the other entrance close to the road."
"But it's better for walking." said the woman in disagreement."Just go out and you are in the park."
"Walk, breath, look at pine-trees."
" When I were old my tastes will probably change.” the man laughed. “Now I like to jump out of the house straight to the underground."
"You are a typical product of a civilization. The child of a metropolis."
"You are right. I haven't got a summer house. What for? On holidays I go abroad, week-ends spend with friends. Better rest is outside the city instead of work. In a metropolis we work. And how many should we be here do you know?"
"Seven. Except the owner."
" Well, that … "
The man had locked a door of the car, put it on the signal and turned to the woman:
Then they went to the entrance door. He pushed the buttons of the code. The woman stood close shivering from cold. The wind was very cold. But she had decided to be patient whatever happened. The man agreed with her. The Tower was new for them. And both the man and the woman were full of expectations.
"Well, that's terrible weather today, isn't it?" asked the man holding a heavy iron entrance door.
"Yes. It's very cold." she nodded and came in. And the second lift began to move up.
Soon near the entrance appeared a girl in skinny jeans and a fashionable short jacket with a hood from which you could see some locks of her hair. At first glance she was about twenty. The girl was nervous pushing her hair in the hood of the jacket but they did not obey. The girl hurried up and her steps were fast. She typed a code impatiently, her fingers trembled and she tried to be calm.
"It's bad to be late." she repeated to herself pressing the button to call the lift. “It is the law of life: who lives close late more often.”
The girl was mistaken. First she had come in time. Secondly she was only the fifth. And at last the most beautiful woman came. Oh, who doubted.
The sixth woman was simply perfect. She looked relaxed. Her chubby short fingers were blue from cold as she had to go from the underground ten minutes on foot in a penetrating wind.
But nothing to do: she hadn't got the car. She could not at once push the necessary buttons by the frozen fingers and the first combination of numbers had appeared wrong. The door had not opened.
The woman nervously began to search for the mobile phone then she made two steps back and looked at windows of the tenth floor. "Oh,God! I am late!” she signed and began to hurry. She didn't want to disturb anybody asking a code of the lock and tried once more. Her fingers again ran by buttons. That time the code had been typed correctly and the heavy door opened, the woman flew in and rushed to lifts.
Suddenly the music burst. The entertaining program began. In a lift the woman looked at the watch.
“They would forgive me a minute.”
“It is not necessary to be so nervous." she told herself. "It doesn't mean anything to me. It's not important".
But she didn't want to be late. Easy come – easy go. She wanted it to be over earlier. Likely it was her last visit to the Tower.
And at last time had come. Under sounds of a cheerful song at the beginning of nine "Mazda" a car of the red color drove and a magnificent platinum blonde went out. She was one more hope of "The Bay of Pleasure". However the blonde looked at the casino with interest. She would rather go to the casino. Music, champagne, a flying roulette ball, she liked all that.
The woman shut the door of the car and shook her curls. Then impatiently she went on high heels to the Tower. "Am I late? Well, I think, they will wait! "The Bay of Pleasure still looked at her with hope and the palm tree cheered her up." Bye, so long!" she waved to casino with her hand tightened in a glove and the sound of her high heels was close to the entrance door. She wore the white leather service jacket, the slacks of red color and the high boots decorated with colorful stones. It was hard to know her age, especially in the darkness. She was from twenty five up to forty. She used a lot of make-up. There was a suspicion that unlike the girl who had come there about ten minutes ago that blonde was not natural and her small height was compensated by the height of heels. Her heels were four inches for sure! But what effect!
Without taking off the red gloves, the woman pushed buttons and at first typed the right code. Her mobile phone rang. She entered the house and only then not worrying at all without vanity had got from a handbag a mobile phone which was calling loudly.
The lift took her on the tenth floor. Doors were closed and the woman looked round. The blonde had the poor sight but she did not like glasses. She was sure they would ruin her image. Glasses were in the handbag, just in case. She didn't get them out.
The light on a staircase usually was very bright. And everyone could guess the woman was over thirty. May be she was close to forty. But she spent much time caring about herself: massage cabinets, the hairdresser, cosmeticians. Yes, she smoked. For a long time and a lot, a pack a day, that's why she was so pale. And the color of her skin seemed ashy because of a tone-cream she had used a lot.
On the one hand near a window there was a door behind which – a ladder. The door was massive, iron and locked from within. Not to break a rule of fire-prevention safety, the key was into the lock, the door was slightly opened.
In case of a fire or earthquake it's free for the evacuation. But that fact didn’t trouble the blonde. She was almost disappointed to be there. That was Monday.
She could use it for entertainments. And there …
She came to the door separating a section with four apartments, she was late. She looked to the left. There was one more window. And the way came to a balcony. She thought it was the best place to smoke. Well. They would not force her to stay for three hours in a reception and to listen to someone's nonsense!
She didn't promise to stay for a long time! They should let her out!
While the blonde was thinking about it, the door opened. The man behind it tried to be kind.
“Hi.” he said. “We are waiting for you.”
“I have already said: I am rising.” the blonde answered. She wanted to smoke. She expected to make it in the street before entering the house but she was late for a meeting and she was in a hurry. Now she felt irritation. “No, that's not good!”
The blonde looked at the man who had opened the door for her. He was tall, thin, with a strange sharp sight. His sight was as sharp as the Tower with its sharp corners.
The blonde felt nervous. The man didn't seem pleasant.
“I want to smoke.” she said.
“Will you come in first?” he offered politely.
“Is there a place to smoke? Can I smoke there?” the blonde didn't stop speaking.
“We shall solve it.” promised the man. “Have you come to do that?”
“Well, in general.”
She came in and her platinum hair moved after her like a cloud. Suddenly she stopped.
The corridor with four doors was deep and dark. The lamps didn't lighten it well. It smelt the fresh paint. It was a mess everywhere around as the repairing works were not over.
The blonde looked at wooden ladders, a basket of paint, brushes and on a floor there were tools and another basket full of paint. One wall was half painted. There and then, at the door laid bricks in a pile.
“What is it?” the blonde asked blinking. She was afraid of dust.
“Repairing works.” indifferently said the man. “Have you ever seen it before?”
“I saw, but …”
“Something confuses you?”
“No. Absolutely not! May I smoke here?”
“Later. Please, wait. First I should introduce you to our guests. Perhaps, they will not be against if you smoke in a reception. We should ask about it. I know, not only you smoke.”
“I hope you haven't got more bad habits.” the blonde smiled.
“That's another question.” and the man widely opened the door before the last guest. “Please, come in.”
She had come frightening. But then she cheered up. The corridor shone and seemed different. Repairing had been finished recently and all around, walls and the floor and furniture were neat and pleased an eye.
The blonde looked around. The hall was decorated with taste. Re-planning was available. Initially it was the two-roomed apartment but the wall was removed and she stood in the middle of the huge hall. Near the entrance door there was a leather sofa, deep armchairs and a coffee table. The conditioning was unusual.
At the window there was a desk with a computer on it, two phones and a fax. The chair had been moved up closely, the monitor was off, as the phones. It was the beginning to nine.
The working day of the secretary was over.
The woman had taken off a service jacket and stayed in a snow-white sweater. The man helped her to put her service jacket between the man's cashmere coats, one was more dark, another brighter, the female leather jacket which had been shabby enough was somewhere between. The girl's short jacket was lonely hanging closer to an entrance door. Her bag was there too.
“Don't take off the shoes.” said the man.
“But I think you will give us special slippers as at the hospital.” said the platinum blonde sarcastically.
“That's not a hospital.” the man softly noticed.
“And what is it? A clinic?” the woman did not stop asking.
“Does it look like?” he smiled.
“No, but …”
The woman had shaken curls. Eventually, she had already come. That’s why to turn and leave would be silly. There were two doors before her. The glass one was on the right and the big, massive, red door – on the left. That door had been opened.
“And where should I go?” she asked.
“To the left.”
“Well, of course! To the left!” the blonde burst out laughing. “I like to go to the left! “
The joke was stupid but the man didn't respond it. When the woman was ready to come he firmly stopped her:
“What is it?” she looked back.
“Do you know the rules? Were you warned?”
“The rules? What rules?”
“Of course, that's not a hospital. But we have got rules. During the session all mobile phones must be off.”
“Yes, yes, I understand.” the woman nodded and looked into her handbag.
“It is for your convenience.” the man said. “It is impossible to concentrate when in a pocket there is a mobile phone. It's a temptation, do you agree?”
“A temptation?” the blonde wondered playing with a tiny mobile phone. “I don't understand.”
“You will contact somebody and interrupt us. It means that the confidential atmosphere created with such work will be destroyed.”
“What do you offer?” the woman asked impatiently.
“Put your phone here and shut it off.” and the man added her mobile to six other phones in a box of the desk. He closed the box and said.
“Now you are welcome. “
She opened a massive door and entered.
“Here she is – the last!” exclaimed the man with delight. His sight was condemning.
“Excuse me.” the woman murmured.
The others kept silent. The pretty girl nervously wound a twisted lock on her finger, the man sitting next to her turned away to the window.
“Well? Shall we begin?” asked the man who after the platinum blonde entered the room.
It was a big area in twenty and a half square meters, spacious, not full of furniture. At a window – dense heavy curtain, light not bright. That room was in the dark colors. Everyone felt a light grief of withering and tranquility there.
The low armchairs’ color was hardly dark than the color of the wall-papers. They were transformers. It was possible to change easily a position of an armrest, lower it or, on the contrary making them comfortable. Thus they were not heavy and it was easy to move them without an effort more close to the window or in the center. The blonde had counted eight armchairs. Two were empty. The woman understood that one of the armchairs was hers.
“Here we spend our sessions.” said the man. And he had noticed that the blonde uncertainly looked back, came to her and softly touched her hand. “As you are here for the first time, I would like to introduce you to people.”
He looked at the impatient man and said:
“This is Sergey. Here we avoid surnames and age. We try not to mention an occupation. This theme is forbidden. Your address, the name of the street you live in, the number of your house – all these are not important. Well.”
The man nodded and rose from an armchair saying.
“I am Sergey.”
“Close to him is – Vsevolod.”
The man who had arrived by "BMW" of the third model and who looked like Sergey stood up and said.
“You may call me Seva.”
He had dark sad eyes, very beautiful, big with long eyelashes but the face features were small and his hair rose up in the ridiculous hedgehog even after the skilful hairdresser.
"How old is each?" thought the blonde. She watched them sitting next to.
"May be they are the same age. Both are a little over forty. And they are well familiar with each other".
The man indifferently looking out of the window turned back and with a wide smile said.
“I am Arthur.”
“Glad to meet you.” the platinum blonde smiled in the answer. Among all men in the room, including the owner, he was the youngest and the most handsome. Very handsome! Everybody paid attention to that fact.
“Close to Arthur, on the right – Zhanna.”
The girl nodded. The platinum blonde looked at her with dignity. She was very pretty. The figure was slim, the waist was thin, the legs were long and probably she did not keep on any diets!
How lucky she was! Someone got everything from birth and for someone it was a hard work! To break legs wearing very high heels to seem taller! The blonde felt as her legs began to hurt. She wanted to sit down and smoke.
“And this is Lida.” the owner introduced the nice woman, a bit plump with smoothly combed chestnut hair. She was simple and lovely. Her name was Lydia but shortly Lida.
“No need to be afraid of her." thought the platinum blonde. She was that type of women who always and everywhere fought for the attention of men.
“Close to her – Vera.”
The woman who had arrived by the old car and parked slowly, stood up and nodded. She was the other type of women: the business woman. Not a business-lady or an owner of a company of underwear with her name as a title but the simple worker, who worked all night long so hard that almost hadn't time for the private life. Not the secretary, a rank above. The average rank.
Her clothes were simple but comfortable. Her eyes were red like with the person who a lot of time spent at a computer. As most people she had contact lenses. But eyes looked tired because of them. The platinum blonde noticed everything and greeted her unwillingly. Well, that happened. May be she would look better dressed- up with the make-up …
“Well.” the man looked round.And then addressed to the woman standing at a loss.
“I think you should introduce yourself, shouldn't you?”
“Okay.” she shook her curls and said proudly.
“I am Angelica.”
“Wonderful!” Arthur shouted. “What a nice name! “
“It suits you.” said the kind woman Lida by name.
“Thanks, I want to ask.” the blonde had hushed up. “Are the names real here? I am not sure …”
And she stopped.
“Not necessarily.” the man calmed her. “Here, as at a confession: the main thing is your soul and for God all people are without names. When God gives you life he isn't caring about the name. The man is important. The man who needs help.”
“So, Angelica is with us today. Well, you are welcome, sit down.”
The platinum blonde sat in an armchair and stretched her legs in narrow, sharp-pointed boots, modern but not comfortable. She asked the owner.
“And what is your name? You have got the name, haven't you? How could we all name you?”
“Yes, I have got.” he smiled. “I am Ivan.”
Vera and Arthur looked at each other. "They knew each other." noticed Angelica.
She became quiet and relaxed.
That was not dangerous. All seemed so … normal.
Sergey and Seva looked respectable, Zhanna was naive, Lida was nice and Vera with Arthur looked like businessmen. What problems could these people have? Anyway, there was no danger about them. All of them wanted to speak, communicate.
Ivan sitting in the armchair close to the door addressed to the newcomer.
“Angelica, do you want to ask anything before we shall begin?”
“Yes. Can I smoke here?”
“Can she smoke here?” Ivan looked at the others. “Sergey, I know that you smoke.”
“Does it mean that you are not against?”
“I am not.”
“I agree.” responded Seva. It seemed he would agree with everything Sergey said.” I don't mind.”
“But I do.” exclaimed Lida. “I do not smoke myself and I do not like when somebody smokes close.”
“I do not smoke either.” Zhanna disagreed. “But I have got used. I do not approve but also I do not object.”
“I smoke.” Vera complained about herself. “I try to give up. But I can't.”
“And I even do not try.” Arthur smiled cheerfully. “I do not smoke. But for me it doesn’t matter whether you smoke or not.”
“So, we shall sum up.” said Ivan. “Angelica, Sergey and Vera smoke. Zhanna, Seva and Arthur do not smoke but do not object. Lida does not smoke and objects. But you, Lida, in this case in minority.”
“And you?” she looked straight at him.
“I am neutral. I am always neutral. You should obey.”
“Well.” Lida nodded. “Smoke.“
"It is necessary to finish with the Tower." she thought. "This time I shall come into trouble, no need to appear here anymore. It is too hard."
“I shall give you ashtrays.” Sergey rose. The conditioning is good here but we shall not smoke much. Relax.”
He came to the wall and took from a shelf of the unit a pair of the light silver ashtrays. He said smiling:
“I will take this.” he weighed the third ashtray in the hand. It was massive, made of dark glass and obviously did not match on style to other things in the room.
“Well, the best – for the ladies, the rest – for the men.”
He gave Angelica and Vera the ashtrays, then returned to his armchair and got out a pack of cigarettes. Ivan watched everybody smoking. The pause lasted for about a minute then he said.
“So, today we have got the next session of psychotherapy. Shall we begin?”
Nobody was against. And he added.
“Who wants to speak?”
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