End of the day, although what little there was of daylight lapsed at 16.00. Now, at 19.30 you leave the gray, Soviet-style building where you work and trudge among the boot-eating porridge and the boot-ripping potholes of the streets, side-stepping and being side-stepped. Everybody is in each other's way. It is the city's manner.
You used to be lonely at this hour, needing to get behind closed doors, back to your one-room apartment where you could pour yourself a drink and sit in your underwear, watching the inanities of the TV screen that threw images your way which mocked you, seeming to be more alive than you were.
Now and then you could not bear to plunge amid the packed house at the metro, nor endure the 'sardine' effect when the trains were too crowded. You were too angry to face the anger of others. So sometimes you had a quick beer in the alley to calm down.
Twice you had taken out a membership at the fitness center, but it never lasted. Aside from getting fit you had hoped to meet women. But it never worked. You were too shy or ugly, maybe your sweatpants didn't bulge out enough or your eyes were too hollow -- whatever it was, the women you wanted never wanted you.
As a matter of fact, such unrequited love, however general and misdirected, was beginning to make you feel..well, alternatively suicidal and homicidal...as if you wanted to do or commit some great act of destruction. So you were seething with these harsh emotions when, you met....her.
HER. You found her in a shop you happened to stray into along some anonymous alley. The shopkeeper introduced you because he apparently knew her well, and your mutual attraction was immediate. Indeed, you could not imagine ever finding such a perfect woman in such a nondescript and dubious location. But there she was, looking brightly at you, answering you in a voice at once as open as the sea wind and as intimate as a story around a campfire.
You could tell that she wanted to be yours, She must have been some sort of foreigner, and maybe she didn't have documents, because it was necessary to pay the shopkeeper for his silences, but once that transaction had been carried out, it was simply a matter of taking her home.
In the metro, the women glanced at you with eyes batting out the usual contempt, and some of the men, seeing the kind of immaculate lady you had with you now, actually grinned, maybe out of some form of primeval embarrassment at seeing the essence of things, and then all of them looked away and left the two of you to your own romance.
You asked her if she wanted to share a pizza with you, but she declined. However, she was only too happy to see you purchase a small bottle of vodka and a few cans of beer. She wanted you to be happy. Her eyes were exquisite and her lips protruded, puckering in the way that seemed to request a kiss.
When you got her home, amazingly, she praised your forlorn little apartment, and her smile, out of nowhere, seemed to remove the whiplash of the years.
She answered all your questions and waited patiently while you ate some pizza and had just enough to drink. She waited while you showered.
And then she allowed you to undress her, and when you entered her, doing so for the first time in years -- and because of your desperation -- you finished in just a few seconds and lay there wanted to cry out of pleasure and rage -- she told you - you were the best lover she had ever had. And said she was yours forever.
And, against all odds, you believed her.
to be continued
===Eric Richard Le Roy===