для читателей старше 18 лет
I was sitting in a wicker armchair on the terrace of my house wistfully looking at the horizon as though that line where the water and the sky thought couldn’t been like yesterday. The ocean grumbled like an old man. White wave crests angrily climbing up clinging gray grizzled stones. A fitful wind was wafting salty breeze touching my naked legs, worn roughly home loafers. As if singing in unison with the nature my soul also couldn’t find any peace, excitedly dreaming of coming changes and fatedly dying away while changing the pages of a memory diary again and again.
Hour-hands fiercely measured in a hurry days, weeks, and months. I understood I was no longer going to live. Robert Fredrikson, a doctor, who cared about my health for about good twenty four years, for the last time when he was asked about for how long I would continue living, just hid his eyes and pressed his lips. I always could read within lines, so his inarticulate mumbling about healthy way of living mearly annoyed me and always kindly sent him to hell.
Even today in the morning, he having had his customary visit as he always did, agreed on having some business in Boston and hurriedly left, leaving me in a gloomy mood.
I closed my eyes and breathed a full breast salty air. “I wished that it could have been a Cuban cigar,” – rushed in my head willy-nilly. I hadn’t have smoked for four years. But I truly believed that I would smoke again or not. It’s all up to Madam Fortune, which I had been on good terms before. Anyway the choice was not wide – either death from a surgeon, or by natural death, or, possibly, in the nearest days.
— A fresh press, Mr. Hart, – a voice of a butler brought me back from a dark hole of depressive thoughts.
He, as always, quietly came up to the table which was by an armchair, and an accurate pile, close to me, put fresh newspapers on the edge of the table. His voice woke up a dog dozing by my legs, a red pooch called Vinci, looking at the butler with a reproach in its eyes the dog closed its eyes again.
— What did they write? – I grinned on knowing that my yesterday’s announcement burst out tabloids of the world’s news.
— Your name is on the first pages in every newspaper. You made a stir, – there was anxiety and disapproval in Patrick’s voice.
He got quiet but I felt some reticence, something he didn’t dare to ask at all. Patrick had been working in my house for nearly forty years and was more than just a butler, he was my acquaintance, patient and executive.
— What do you think about all this? – I asked letting his feelings out.
— Mr. Hart, I have always been delighted with the tightness of your deeds but this time I am afraid you are making a serious mistake, – Patrick was more careful about what he said with him there trying to seem delicate. – And Mr. Crosby asked to prolong your research for at least one year more…
— I don’t have this time! – I interrupted him roughly.
There was an immediate reaction to my mood. Moving his ear and raising one of the eyelids Vinci flashed me a sour look and sighed.
Patrick turned his eyes away then pursing his lips asked in a hurt dry voice:
— May I go?
— Go, – I asked in irritation.
The butler turned and made his way to the hall. Regretting about my unreasonable harsh words I stopped him:
— Pat, I want you to know. In case the operation might go wrong, not like we expect, – I kept silent feeling a lump rising in his throat, – I’ve opened an account on your name. So you don’t have to find another job. You may go now.
Of course I could not fail to notice a thin Patrick’s body having been slouched after my words and then avoiding looking into my eyes he nodded hurriedly in token of thanks and then left.
I realized that being depressed I could make people who really mattered to me exhausted and most often Patrick was the one who happened to appear in the heat of the moment. He was my faithful and patient Patrick.
He was the first butler who my wife Helen and I decided to hire. Patrick worked in the neighborhood of the Blackwoods and whenever visiting them we saw him as being delicate and dutiful. He reminded us of a meerkat that could stand at attention with a thoughtful look in its eyes. Soon the Blackwoods moved to California and we invited Patrick to work in our house.
He was twenty-six at that time. He was reserved but also considerate and polite like that of high society, attentive to the little things. He always wore his hair accurately stacked on the right side. And trying to keep it carefully Patrick had his tilted head a bit on the right. Even now there was something about him that made him look boyish. Those might have been his thin long legs which added lightness to his skipping gait. He always knew intuitively where to observe the chain of command or let himself discuss some delicate topics with me. In short Patrick managed to join our family quite suddenly.
Later on he got a fiancée – an easily amused and voluptuous Daniela from Cabo Verde who brought him some food containers with care every day screaming loudly and emotionally over her groom’s thinness. One day on feeling amazing Daniela’s food smell we got to a comfortable secluded corner of our kitchen where Patrick hastily ate his food. We were politely offered to share the meal with him. Having tasted it we exchanged delighted looks and decided unanimously that the girl should certainly work with us. This was how Daniela got into our house filling the kitchen with the smell of spices and Portuguese songs which she sang in an undertone while cooking. I never saw her in a bad mood though I wouldn’t get surprised if she had slept with a smile on her lips.
I took a newspaper. That was “The Boston Globe.” Despite the fact the internet was a good facility I kept remaining faithful to newspapers. I liked the smell of fresh printer’s ink. The years spent doing newspaper publishing business evidently made themselves felt. Or that was the modern generation of people I belonged to who the only source of getting news was reading newspapers. That was more than me. My fingers seemed to have strange tactile affection for a rough paper. It was a pleasure to me to look at headlines, set priorities in the order of reading articles which I marked visually.
One headline large printed on the first page caught my attention: “A multi-millionaire Dan Hart made an announcement about the possibility of brain transplantation.” And then it said in bold italics: “Moreover he claimed to become the first person in the nearest future who would have his brain transplantation into a donor’s body.” Then I began telling my biography.
So I folded the newspaper and tossed it down upon the table where the same publications were waiting for their turn. My hands seemed to be impossible heavy due to moral and physical fatigue. So did I feel sorry for myself? Surely, yes! That pity ate me away from within as if sulfuric acid making me tearful and weak.
Sure I knew finding a donor may take time. And I waited for it. It was up to seven months and twelve days by now. That made me exhausted, emaciated leaving me deprived of sleep and rest. But I desperately tried to cling to life. Anxiety as a shaggy hungry wolverine rubbed against a bad heart. Every single evening I thanked the day and added it to the box where the memories of cheerless and dull days were kept. My heart dying to its salvation might have stopped beating the next day!
Then I heard a phone call in the hall. Patrick picked up the phone.
The journalists seemed to have gone mad trying to interview me no matter what. Soon the butler appeared on the terrace informing me:
— Miss Novak, the journalist, came. You have an appointment with her at twelve.
— Let her in, – I tiredly made a gesture with my hand pointing at an opposite armchair.
After a few minutes I heard a woman melodically drum her heels on a marble floor of the hall and then an elegant blonde came in having a brown leather case in her hands. A dog lifted up its head trying to assess the level of threat coming out of the visitor and confirming that there was no cause of alarm immersed itself in slumber again.
The journalist’s lips trembled nervously with a sad smile. But her big eyes looked at me tensely and ingratiatingly as though trying to read my mood. She was in the state of mind that was clear to me. I always avoided talking to reporters and sometimes I unreasonably reacted violently to their persistence. Showing off on the cover is all for the young people but I was not that conceited. All the interviews as a rule tended to be about my personal life and my plans for the nearest investments. But why on earth should I tell everyone what I spent my money on? In another words on knowing my moody character the journalist community were right to have no special liking for me.
I stood up from the armchair, made a step towards her, then stretched my hand out and she gave me hers. It was such a warm, soft and amazing hand. I put her palm up to my face slightly touching her silky wrist with my lips. The second and her facial tension disappeared making her smile look natural and suddenly her eyes twinkle.
— Good day, Mr. Hart! You have a very nice house, – twittered the journalist in a low exciting mezzo-soprano.
— Good day to you Ms. Novak. Thank you!
I gestured at her to sit down in the armchair which stood opposite. So she did, flirty forcing her knees together on the right.
I began to look at her with a certain satisfaction. She might have not been older than twenty five years old. The tight low-necked dress she wore was just up to the knee. With old-man pride I let myself suppose: the girl while preparing for an interview might have thought of me as a man and not just a seventy year old man and an involuntary smile appeared on my face.
— What drinks would you like at this time of the day? – I asked courteously still looking at the girl.
One could read a childish curiosity in her light-blue almond-shaped eyes. She also examined me. The girl’s thick arched eyebrows and narrow cheekbones added her appearance an aristocratic look. A straight nose like that of Ancient Egyptian Queen Nefertiti gave her face a strong-willed look, I should say a stubborn expression. Her lips were sensual, her chin clearly-visible. The make-up she wore was great and subtle. I glanced for one at a string of white pearls which beautified her long graceful neck. One pearl in each ear, no rings, so there was no doubt she wasn’t married or engaged. I thought Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci would have fought for the right to paint her portrait in previous centuries. The first one would see angelic beauty in her, the second one notice intensity and charisma in her face.
— I don’t mind a cup of green tea. You may just call me Carol, – answered the journalist coloring slightly as I kept my attention roving over her.
Standing behind her back Patrick followed her into the kitchen without delay.
— Oh, look here Carol I must admit I used to bite people. My teeth were itching, – I explained and then paused enjoying her puzzled air. – But at that time I was a little less than one year old and then I gave up doing it. So you have no need to be afraid of me. By the way you have very beautiful eyes and your turquoise dress shows off their color depths, – I couldn’t resist from paying a compliment.
On not having attractive appearance even in my youth I had an ability to attract women as far as I was well-read. I could also pay delicate compliments which I being a pimply youth wrote down in my notebook from romance novels in a tremble. At that time I painted a wonderful evening in my mind when I could have taken my beloved’s hand and whispered her some pleasant words.
Carol turned so red and taking a pack of papers out of her bag said smiling:
— Thank you, Mr. Hart. That’s a pity you can’t bite now, that would be a great sensation.
— Dear me, no! How could I do harm to your wonderful skin, in no way!
— Let us leave all these formal compliments and turn to the main topic. I’ve already informed you on phone about our film industry wanted to make a film about your life and the operation coming up. So as soon as our cameraman is likely to appear we will be able to start. And for now you may look through the questions you’re going to be asked about and cross out the ones you may not like.
She held her hand out the papers covered with writing and I could smell light fragrance of her floral perfume with sweet and sour notes of a green apple. Having settled my spectacles I began reading. All the questions were rather standard: about my operation, childhood, parents, the first million I earned, children, wives…
— There isn’t anything improper. I must own I am a little bit disappointed, – I smiled giving her those papers back.
She tried to stand up stretching her hand to take them. At that moment I couldn’t resist the desire to look down her décolleté. She saw that and the corners of her mouth dimpled in the beginnings of a smile. That was a smile of a beauty who normally got tired of ugly guys waiting for a chance to get acquainted. I saw that smile in my youth a hundred times. Wealth and status protected me from such arrogance and seeing it now was so strange. It can’t be that luxury to turn her brain! It’s flattering to reach such girls!
I heard a voice from the hall and then a man appeared on the terrace accompanied by Patrick. He was a heavily built man with a red puffy face, dressed in jeans and a beige shirt with wet broad patterns on it under his arm. He held a camera in his hand.
— This is Mark, – Carol introduced me the cameraman.
I greeted him nodding my head slightly. He also nodded but in a businesslike manner staring professionally at the terrace below narrowed eyes. Carol and I watched him patiently. A dog watched him either.
Mark stared down on the floor, paved with expensive old-like neat tiles in a skillful way, then my eyes caught ivory walls and wicker furniture. At last he shifted boldly a big white marble vase with blooming gerberas in it so that it could be in the background of a picture. And without any delay, fussy, he began installing his camera stand right at my left.
Noiselessly, next to the table appeared Patrick. He with skilled movements put a tea-set, a sugar bowl, some lemon in a rosette and a dish of muffins on a white gloss surface of a tabletop. After pouring tea for three persons the butler disappeared as just quietly as he appeared.
The girl switched her gaze towards the tea cups. She enjoyed looking at the white marble bottom of a tea cup, wild flowers crept around from the center of a saucer and it seemed like somebody pressed them cruelly with his hand leaving without a pleasure of sunshine. But young browses got out obstinately from under oppressive weight.
Having ignored the muffins the journalist took the cup and made her way to the cameraman to discuss something. I noticed the girl went in for sports: wiry quadriceps on both of her legs made me guess she was a running amateur. The open-toe high-heeled sandals added her already tall height some more good ten centimeter.
One of my short acquaintances used to court only the girls who were much higher than him. To answer to my question why he preferred that kind of women my friend stared up saying wistfully: “You see any man can meet a short woman but one cannot say that of this type, – he emphasized the words ‘this type,’ – you’ll have to know how to interest her!” I had to confess I was rather below the usual height and also always looked at high girls with delight. It happened that some qualities which always pleased us in people we our selvesun fortunately lacked in.
Carol felt my eyes on her, then turned and said hastily:
— We’ll start in a few minutes, – said the journalist probably taking my careful attention for impatience. She looked fixedly at me from head to toe.
— Wouldn’t dream of it! I am not going to change my clothes, – warned I in case anything turned up, furiously straightened my white linen shirt.
— And indeed I never even thought of asking about it, – smiled she when I glared at her.
The girl didn’t finish her tea, put the cup on the table and herself comfortable in the armchair. Then took a powder-box out of the case and giving me an embarrassed look, wiped up her nose slightly sparkled with the heat with a sponge and shook her long hair back. She hurriedly put a black varnished box back into the case and casting her victorious eye over the cameraman then paused a second straightening her back.
— Start the camera! – solemnly said Mark, settled himself comfortably in a bar chair staying in the dark shadows.
— Dear viewers! We are now in Dan Hart’s country-house, a well-known owner of Heart Industries Corporation,’ the journalist tore her eyes away from the camera and gazed at me. ‘Mr Heart, your announcement in information medium yesterday certainly made you the main newsmaker of the week! – began the girl her interview with such an excessive solemnity in her voice. – Now the whole world knows about your future operation, the brain transplantation. Will you tell me how did you get the idea of being operated on? And why is this risk for?
— I was diagnosed a dilatation heart cardiomyopathy about four years ago, putting it simply, stagnant circulatory deficiency. The doctors say I have now a very short time to live to go on living with all this, maximum two or three years,” I began to tell in a slow manner. And now, lying in a hospital bed, I asked the doctor about the possibility of donor’s heart transplantation. The doctor was tightly amused. He said that cigars, whiskey and sleepless nights spoilt my health so much that my entire system would have to be totally transplanted. And then he added with a frown, that the transplantation would have been possible but I didn’t seem like be able to endure it. His words jangles in my mind after he had gone. It was then I got the idea of brain transplantation. I was analyzing it for a week and then I began to act. A Medical Research Laboratory was created for a year. Then I signed contracts with nine specialists from different countries, each of them was the country’s most qualified or best expert in the field of allografting and neurophysiology. Then the research work started and lasted for more than three years. For today three primates had already been operated on. In all the cases the patients felt fine, their motor functions were totally restored. Unfortunately the doctors still didn’t know if their brains could retain memories in full. Indeed we might have waited a little longer but we were pressed for time. So every single day I accepted gratefully like a gift. That was why currently we acquired proactively the best donor.
— Do you mean your operation date remains obscure? – the journalist couldn’t hide her disappointment.
— Alas, God only knows when it may happen.
— What age do you need a donor? In another words, which life period do you want to come back to? – asked the journalist, not faking her intrigue now. She held her hand out to a china cup, her eyes smiled and narrowed.
I had to formulate my reply to the most interesting question which had been haunting me for four years – and it was the question “How would I look like?” I couldn’t stop thinking about it and had to spend many long sleepless nights. It was like wandering along the bank in utter darkness, listening to the waves whispering, trying to get an answer from them.
Carol waited patiently for me to gather my thoughts but I kept thinking about whether it worth explaining all the risks of incompatibility with the donor. That was why it didn’t much matter to me to know the donor’s age, appearance. What really mattered was the donor’s body to be compatible with my brain!
— There is one basic requirement to the donor. He shouldn’t be over eighty years, – I tried a little joke. – Well, in medical terms to perform successful allotransplantation it is necessary to have donor-recipient match major his tocompatibility complex antigens. There are six major antigens and if five of the six matchis a good luck. If a recipient rejects two antigens transplantation may still be possible in principle there is a higher chance of rejection. And last but not least donor good immune system is necessary. Brain transplantation should be carried out simultaneously with spinal cord transplantation that implies the following essential condition: donor’s spinal length should fit into mine. Besides it is required to obtain the consent of relatives. As you see it’s quite difficult.
— Mr. Hart, why did you have to hide the fact of the ongoing research and decide to release it now? – asked the girl, touching a lock of her corn hair, streaming on the breeze blowing from the ocean.
— I wanted incredible results, so that was why I thought that was not necessary to enlarge upon the topic. On the first year of the research we made no move one iota but I didn’t allow the work stop. “It doesn’t matter what you’re dreaming about start doing something about it! At this point miracles can happen!” the words belonged to the great Goethe and became my motto. Belief in miracle gave me strength and my dream came true. When I got beneficial results that made me wonder about the situation. Some people might have taken transplantation procedure for a murder. In any combination of circumstances we could have got my corpse, empty skull and the people who operated me on would have been accused of voluntary manslaughter. There could inevitably be some problems with access to my bank account. And yet a stranger claiming he was Dan Hart could have been declared insane and ended his life in a residential psychiatric facility. Thus, I had to announce about my operation coming soon, first of all in order to protect the people who worked in the laboratory.
Carol sat slightly frowning looking thoughtfully through me. For a moment it seemed to me she didn’t listened to me and stared at her with a questioning glance. She roused at that:
— Have you ever thought how the world could have been changed if such operations had been a norm for our society? Surely the price for the operation would be enormous! And rich people could have lived forever if they had used the poor as donors! It would have been possible for some people to get a donor even by illegal way! The time for black market, “the extra people trade” would have come!
I couldn’t help to notice the pain which she said her last words with. Of course, I thought about the possible consequences of the discovery many times. What was the price for life? A million? A milliard? I guessed a man would have given the worlds for the possibility for staying in the living world. Everyone feared darkness of emptiness and uncertainty. Every human being would have used the possibility to survive with what was left of their strength. A man had always been weak and whatever power he could have he would not be able to fight fear of death.
When Jim was born I was frantic with anxiety for my little baby and that was then I first terribly felt fear of death. My mind was filled with dark images of danger my small son might face in his life at every step.
In my memories I liked going back to the time when my son was young enough and recollect him standing on a small chair washing peacefully his palms with a piece of soap. And it was so nice watching him laughing when playing with foam that was on the sink. Remembering all that seemed perfect! But troubled parents with all their parental affection for children, they would find all the sharp corners of the bathroom, that could cause tragedy in case the children lost their footing. Thoughts of the last moments of life had always followed us since we became parents, seriously ill and in our old age. No one could ever escape death. I might have been the first one!
I kept silent and didn’t know what to answer that lovely lady. Her eyes looked so cold.
— You are right, Carol, – I said quietly. – We live in the cruel world where a good deed may go against us. You are too young yet and hardly ever seriously thought about death but in my life death sat at my bedside twice. And I’m afraid our third meeting with it is going to be final. This unpleasant cold feeling of fear and helpless isn’t something I’d wish on anyone. Even for the sake of the future of the whole humanity I wouldn’t refuse from life! You’ll excuse me but I’m not a hero. Totally! But I can calm you down: even the rich cannot live eternally. How many lives the human brain is able to endure? Two, maximum three. One day its cells may become worn out and it would not be possible to perform their functions with quality.
— There were cases when very rich people lost all their money and their relatives had to adapt to new conditions, – the journalist kept on calling out to my conscience. – For example, banks may go bankrupts and the war may begin! Might the members of your family be candidates for donors?
— If the war had begun there might have been enough donors even without my relatives involved! – I said angrily letting that upstart know she wouldn’t manage to get through to my conscience.
I felt I started to regret our devil’s interview to have started. The only thought that the life of my children and a granddaughter might be in danger made me take the attitude of a spectacled cobra with an open hood, ready to attack the source of the threat.
The journalist smiled nervously. Initially we got turned on but now the feeling was gone. We seemed to be on opposite sides. I was a rich man who was able to buy anything and anybody. She was doomed to become a donor for somebody like me.
Giving me a cold look and smiling at me with a standard smile, Carol asked me the following question:
— What was your relatives’ reaction to such a hard decision?
— I expect my son every moment and he may answer your question himself. We are very close to each other and I would say there isn’t a person in the world who can be closer to me than Jim. He knew everything about the scientific research from the very beginning, he understood and support my ambition to create a laboratory though he didn’t discourage me from operation. My son supposes that at this point risk is too high and we need to go on with the experiment. As for my daughter now she is in the Seychelles experiencing a new amorous emotion. For me she still remains a small girl, that’s why she knows nothing about my plans because I don’t want to worry her.
My daughter is the image of her mother: beautiful, giddy and sadly a stupid and frivolous girl. She is like a cat and can be tender if she wants to get something from her owner, but if she is in a bad humour she shows her claws without thinking. Jess has an impulsive-exalted character looking for constant enjoyment. She is interested only in fashionable things, jewelry, men and different kinds of reality-shows, which she may discuss with her friends on phone for hours. She is always in love with somebody but even I having a phenomenal memory don’t manage to remember the name of her boyfriend who she is dating at the moment.
Jessica was born when I could enjoy of becoming a father, for me it was like a gift. Right after her study at school my daughter moved to live in Manhattan. She called me very seldom. And whenever made a call she started to go rippling sweetly along with her talk. She always said how much she loved me and missed me a lot. And when my daughter finished talking she used to ask me to make a deposit on her account. My health never interested her much. She finished Juilliard School in New York. She studied at Drama Faculty. As an actress my daughter wasn’t required and then she decided to be a fashionable chronicle star and you know she is still brilliant at it. I tried to arouse her interest in our corporate affairs but all my efforts to talk about that were in vain and burst into tears reproaching me that I wanted to force her to start working due to she was a burden to me. From my daughter’s youth up the last point in all our arguments was her blackmail, she threatened me to move to her mother. For that reason avoiding my ex-wife’s bad influence upon my daughter I had to give way to heiress in everything. I understood that later that idleness came into her gradually like an illness and it would be practically impossible to get rid of it years later. I grew up a user in my daughter though I didn’t intend to and I was the one to blame for.
— Do you think that after being operated on you may become a defective man in the way of health? – said the journalist carefully in a more soft voice.
— Yes, I do. You know, Carol, it sounds like a nightmare. I try to keep my mind off troubles. It’s better to die than to live like a vegetable. If something bad happened I had already asked Jim not to torture me. I think he can have enough strength to master this oppressive feeling alone and part with me, because I wouldn’t have been a father to him but just half of dead and half of alive body.
My heart was heavy to go on with that topic about possible pains and fidgeting in the armchair I murmured:
— Do you have any other questions?
Carol nodded in understanding:
— And the next question is going to be about your parents. What were they like?
I closed my eyes recollecting the thirties of the last century. My memory overwhelmed me, my voice was warm with recollections. And I, unhurriedly, attentively began to recall past events that had caused my birth:
— My father’s name was John. He was a short, thick-set, cheery fellow, with his hair coarse, black, cut enbrosse, uniformly turning grey. He narrowed his shortsighted eyes that made his face full of many tiny wrinkles. His voice was deep and base. While repairing cars my father usually liked humming a little tune. Though the last time I saw him I was four years old I remember him clearly. And he died by that time. You know, Carol, it’s natural for me to associate human beings with animals by appearance and actions. So, you see what, my father was a typical raccoon. Funny about that! The shape of his eyes and eyebrows made him look like that animal. He was fussy and tenacious of life. He always did something with his hands, either a wooden whistle for me, which he skillfully carved with his knife, or mended shoes for the whole family.
The journalist smiled. It seemed like we managed to restore the status quo. Hostility vanished from her sweet face, she sat listening to me, fiddling with her hair. The operator was practically all the time taking a close-up of my face and almost didn’t turn back to Carol that gave her an opportunity to stay relaxed which was certainly not my case.
— And what animal would you compare me with? – the girl smiled archly waiting for a compliment and demonstrating two devils in her blue eyes.
— I haven’t decided yet. If we take into account just external data you remind me of a swift-footed deer. Almond-shaped eyes, long legs, graceful lines of body make that obvious to me. But it’s difficult to know the character and the inner world of a man for half an hour because you cannot make a conclusion about a person. I’m sure you’re like an animal of wildlife habitat because I suppose you’re hardly ever been gentle and tend to live a quiet family life.
— An interesting comparison, I should say, – Carol’s face opened in a thoughtful smile. She’s probably found some epithets in my words pleasant for herself. – Let us still turn to your father. Who was he by profession?
— He was born to be a mechanic, and a long queue of his clients was a proof to that. I still remember his jacket smelled of petrol, with heavy pocket where he always had unnecessary bolts and nuts. I have associated the smell of petrol with my father during the long years. He had large venous hands which he used to make a living for my mother and me, and of course for his parents and two brothers who lived on the farm in Minnesota. As any other boy, he dreamt of the sea that he had seen only on the pictures in his childhood. And seeking adventures being on the board of a fishing-boat he, when he reached adulthood, got to Gloucester. But his daydream crashed over a reef of reality in the most unpredictable place. He turned out to be seasick and that made him impossible to stay on the board for a long time. There could be no question of coming back to the farm. So that was why having failed on one path of life my father without thinking went to his garage which was in taxi-park area where his talent was drawn out to the full extent. And he worked there until the war began. My father did his duty to his country and went back to Gloucester to the taxi-park again. But in the beginning of twenties when the act of prohibiting selling alcoholic drinks came into effect he let himself be tempted by his friend and became an accountant. It was quite a risky business but certainly profitable. Gloucester turned out to be a cramped place for friends for that kind of business and they moved to Boston. Having easy money they unexpectedly made a lot of acquaintances with common interests which included visiting restaurants, the race tracks and of course escort beautiful girls. To give him his due, in all that cycle of fun and delight he didn’t forget old men and regularly sent them a good part all the money he earned. Life seemed beautiful but suddenly America met economic crisis and the speed and severity of the current downturn took the whole country. The dry law was repealed and soon after making the whole money fly my father had to turn back to repairing cars.
He was still single. The thought about marriage didn’t struck him till he met my mother who managed to change priorities and respect family values. At the time they met my father was already forty three. He fell in love with her like a boy! I must admit that my father was incredibly charismatic. Being good at telling stories, sometimes indecent, which he knew a great many my father often became the life of the party. All the years spent in Boston he even didn’t manage to get his own house, that was why moving from one house into another one he decided to settle down in Washington Street in the neighborhood with my mother’s hose where she lived with her parents. Her name was Rosemary. She was twenty four but looked much younger. I must tell you mother was not that beautiful, a petite, thin, brown-haired girl with small regular features, a flat breast and a slim waist. Anyone could take my mother for an adolescent. My father affectionately called her Canary mainly for her love of yellow color. A lively, curious girl, she could really remind him of a little bird with round brown eyes. Why did that lovelace and a joker find my mother so attractive I couldn’t understand. But he started to show Rosemary different signs of attention such as compliments, delicious food which were precious little of those days. But she in turn didn’t return her affection for him.
— Don’t I go into detail? – suddenly I thought.
Carol listened to me attentively, her eyes were filled with warmth. It even seemed to me that she had already forgiven me for refusing to die.
— Oh, you describe quite vividly, – she approved.
— Then one day, six months or so my mother couldn’t stand against his singing under her window in the night, so all the neighbors applauded. So as canaries always did she responded to hermale-canary song’ I admitted ironically. ‘However at that moment my granddad strictly said “no” who was almost of the same age of my father. I think there was no need to talk about my parents who didn’t want such a husband for their daughter. My grandfather was a strong-willed man. His opinion was never called in question in our family. He looked like an old wolf because he couldn’t move with his neck. It was connected with osteochondrosis of the cervical spine which he suffered from for many years. For him to look back he had to twist around with his chest. My grandfather had a large nose by the way which I inherited from him, a thick white hair and the same white eyebrows that almost covered his eyes. He was thick-set, broad-shouldered with a short neck. I must admit I looked very much like him, the only difference was that my body type was more canary like than that of a wolf,’ I said spreading my hands to indicate helplessness. ‘My grandmother was, on the contrary, liked to laugh when anything amused her and spoke in the singing manner, drawling her words. She reminded me of an owl. She was plump, short, without any waist. Her eyes were always round and surprised, she had a turned-up nose and a very small fine mouth. My granny pursed her lips in the shape of a circle. I remembered by the way she suffered from sleeplessness and that was why she used to do some knitting or read a book at nights. So how did she manage to have a rest I couldn’t understand.
— Mr. Hart, excuse me for interrupting you but I’m interested to know what animal do you associate yourself with? – asked the journalist raising an eyebrow with interest.
— I was waiting for this question, – I laughed suddenly, slightly embarrassed tossing in the armchair. – That’s a paradox, of course, but who do you think a canary and a raccoon bare? A penguin! Believe me I myself wasn’t flattered at all with that part. I would rather be an eagle or a red deer but nevertheless I was born a penguin! Well I am quite proud that I am round-bellied at the age of forty. My nose is of a good size and my eyes are weak. I don’t mind cold weather, I cannot say that of hot weather. I’ve never gone in for sports but I am a good swimmer. Practically I don’t eat meat and prefer sea food. What interests me much is making a nest, care about my posterity and to be faithful to my female.
— That’s a quite unusual comparison and rather controversial, – noticed Carol. To my surprise she listened to me in her grave way and then added with a slight smile. – For me you look more like a wild animal than a penguin. When we stop working on our TV project I’ll share my opinion with you which I may change. And now let’s turn to that story about a raccoon and a canary.
— That sounds intriguing! I didn’t think I might look like a wild animal in a young lady’s eyes, – I paused discouraged with the girl’s frank words.
Eventually taking the words for compliments I continued telling about my past:
— All in all my mother run off with my father and their friends were hiding them for two weeks. My grandfather had to give way. The wedding celebration wasn’t the best one. They married quietly. Let me admit those days were the hardest for America for the whole period of the Great Depression.
I was no more in a playful humor when I began to tell the next part of the story:
— My mother told me that the poorest families had to eat frog’s meat at that period of time and there were some plants to eat. My grandfather shouldered the burdens of the family as much as he could teach exact sciences at school. His wife, a daughter and a fourteen-year-old son Kurt were dependent on him for support. My mother finished a music conservatory but due to the crisis it was practically not possible to find a job in the field of her speciality. My father moved to his mother’s parents’ house, a three-roomed flat and the situation in the family considerably changed for the better. I was born in the year of 1933. It was probably the unbalanced and unvarying diet my mother had been on during pregnancy. The day I was born my weight was barely less than two kilo. My father was over the moon! At that time he worked in a long-haul cargo transporting service. He hadn’t been at home for a few days. In his rare days off he had to repair cars. He was dead on his feet. It happened that he didn’t have a wink of sleep for a few days. Some of the money he earned he still had to send his relatives on the farm. In May of 1938 he passed away. When he was going on the trip again he just fell asleep driving.