- Wake up, sir! It’s your station: Orel! We’re almost there! – a bony woman’s fist taps on my back.
After two shakes of a lamb’s tail, the mosaic of the night’s dream is irretrievably smashed down. Strange enough but I plunged into sleep, though seemed to be quietly huddled up on the upper side berth gazing thoughtlessly at the blurred dome light.
Flickers in icy air, red and blue traffic lights, tea yellow lamps swim by behind the window. All snow had quit the skies and lied in wait like the Russian invader in a small Baltic state.
It is five in the morning. February.
The supply aisle in the third-class sleeper accommodates protruded arms, feet, bedsheets, luggage, heads, regrets and reprisals.
A single snoring on the right side and sound of spoons on the left. The woken up travelers whisper in the dark, others waddle in the dim light carrying their crumpled bedclothes to the car attendant, like redheaded stepchildren.
I am not the only one to alight in Orel. With quiet gloat, but more with appreciation, I look around: who else to leave the train?
Exit into the black winter night draws folks together, fills them with solidarity and slightly disdainful communitarian joy.
We will now leave the board, swan off into the cold Orlovian universe, like pioneers of space exploration. The rest will remain to toss and turn in the sultry air of the car.
I look at those who quit the train and find out with surprise the total incompatibility of Orel with the fresh visitors.
Here’s a bloke. I could easily imagine him in a glossy.
“And now an interview with the trendy fashion designer William Jacobs in new nude style. Just add a monkey’s paw.”
He has a shaven head and gallant manners. Everything he does is delicious and elegant.
A solid structure of fancy black horn-rimmed specs.
Neatly put on stridently orange coat. Feet are decked out in brilliant blue trousers with socks to match. Italian shoes.
This Albion’s son stands up and winds two coils of heavy red muffler round his neck, like a slack python.
He moves to the exit. There is something glorious in his homosexual gait: King Style himself has condescended to the transience of space.
Here is a young couple.
A lean young man: I would not contend with him in reciting Baudelaire.
Slender backside, asthenic arms.
Bullet for My Valentine. Goth, wine and bats in a castle hall.
His girlfriend is at his side. Rainbow dyed hair, mamelons of breasts under the sweater.
A tuke with squirrel ears.
Her eyes are otherworldly as if a drug has dilated her pupils forever.
The couple is so weirdly beautiful they are not supposed to live. Cannot last long, at least.
Some day they will jump off a cliff hand in hand. Or slash wrists lying in a hot bath together.
But that will happen later. Now they turn and make their way toward the lamp-lit vestibule.
Purple-green bunches and wisps scatter over the girl’s shoulders.
I do not dare to approach this beauty, fragile as a Narnian butterfly.
One touch with the bear’s paw and the brittle wing gets broken.
Here is a Jew.
He is very tall. Perfectly white shirt – as if he had not spent the night on the berth – is mated with a black waistcoat, spick-and-span and freshly ironed.
He puts on his jacket, stands out and the brim of his black hat obstructs the light.
He exudes Torah and incense. His calmness is the eye of Yahweh.
Everything will be no more: this train, Orel, me and all of us. These pages will also perish, whereas the eye of Yahweh will behold as before.
I feel like coming near and saying something nice to him, but I don’t know what. And far less why.
Probably just to hear him say something nice to me.
And I will give credence to him.
But to nobody else, not even to myself. And he knows it perfectly well. Probably that is why he says nothing.
The Big Bangs are heard as the travelers pull out their belongings from under the benches. “Woo, woo, Chattanooga there you are!”
The car attendant seems an adroit cupboard came alive. She cleans the outer grab-handle covered with hoarfrost using a cloth. Doggedly kicks the ladder tread to move it and then, lo and behold, a passenger step falls out of the car into space.
A stairway to heaven.
I am looking at the British designer and the waferish juveniles. At the eye of Yahweh.
I would like to tell them something passionate, convince them they don’t belong here. It’s a wrong station. They’re out of place.
It’s the area of habitual faith, factory buzzers and revolving gates.
Gather your wits! Cut it out! You should know better!
As for me, I will get off. I don’t care, being a veteran good-for-nothing. And their fate? Can they really meet it here?
The infertile and unbelievable prophetical concoction bubbles and boils. Cassandra gives up the attempt to knock at the door in despair and falls prone on Pandora’s Box. Stay put!
However, not a sound fell from my lips.
I take my leave forever.
Somebody’s back shuts out the opalescent hair. The red scarf disappears.
The crowd, as a many-headed louse, crawls into the rime-covered underpass.
The black Jewish hat has blended in and disappeared from view.