понедельник, 7 ноября 2022 г.




At breakfast, Elvira Maksimovna's voice trembled with the bird's chirping that Sasha knew so well. This calmed Sasha, and when they, having paid for the table and lodging for the night, went out into the courtyard of the hotel, no one-eyed man was there, and Sasha had completely forgotten about the morning incident.

And I remembered when Elvira Maksimovna suddenly asked:

By the way, why were you in the parking lot for so long? I had to wait for you for breakfast.

“I followed the car,” Sasha answered. She did not want to tell Elvira Maksimovna about her meeting with yesterday's one-eyed man, because she herself did not want to relive this meeting again.

- Behind the car? - responded Elvira Maksimovna. - Go and chat with the parking lot workers? They certainly did not leave them indifferent to your appearance ...

“You know I'm not interested in men,” Sasha said.

- Who are you interested in? asked Elvira Maksimovna.

Sasha has already heard this question a hundred times and answered it a hundred times exactly as she answered now:

- I'm interested in you.

“We must think,” Elvira Maksimovna grinned, as always, and in gratitude, as always, patted Sasha on the knee.

They got into the car. We drove out the gates of the parking lot, and soon the hotel could no longer be found in the rearview mirror.

“Maybe you want to lead?” asked Elvira Maksimovna.

“I don’t drive very well,” Sasha said, “you know ...

“So you need to train,” Elvira Maksimovna advised. - Patience and work will grind everything. In vain did I buy you the rights especially for this trip? And she wrote out a power of attorney for this car ... just in case of a fire? ..

- If you're tired...

“You’re talking business,” Elvira Maksimovna said thoughtfully, “when I’m tired, then you’ll lead.” Now it's easy for me...

- As you say.

“Give me a bag from the back seat,” Elvira Maksimovna asked.

Sasha turned around. A dozen identical multi-colored plastic bags of chips fluttered in the back seat, which Elvira Maksimovna had brought with her from the hotel restaurant.

- Wow, - said Elvira Maksimovna, when Sasha got a bag from the back seat, - they even have chips of my favorite variety. Reveal to me...

Sasha opened the package. Elvira Maksimovna took her hand off the steering wheel, but immediately returned it.

“Feed me,” she asked, “so that I don’t get distracted.”

Sasha managed to bring only the first piece of fried potatoes to Elvira Maksimovna's mouth - and immediately dropped it. A sensor on the dashboard beeped frantically, and to the right of the steering wheel, on a small display, the electric letters of foreign incomprehensible words lit up and burned, pulsing, pulsing.

– What is this? Elvira Maximomovna was surprised. – Sasha, did you press anything here?

- N-no...

"Damn, what's written here?!"

The beeping of the sensor turned from intermittent to continuous, and the car began to lose speed. No matter how Elvira Maksimovna pressed buttons and pedals on everything in a row, no matter how she twisted the levers, the car seemed to fall into some kind of stupor and could not be revived in any way.

Of all the instruments, only the steering worked. Elvira Maksimovna turned to the side of the road, where the car quietly stopped.

- Well, - said Elvira Maksimovna, - they arrived ...

- And what happened? Sasha asked. “Like running out of gas…

- You yourself saw how it was refueled ... Here, all control is electronic. And for some reason it crashed. God knows what it is...

Elvira Maksimovna got out of the car. Sasha followed her.

“And not a single car,” muttered Elvira Maksimovna, lighting a cigarette. - What are we now with you - cuckoo here until the evening?

She took out a cell phone from her purse, turned it on, tried to dial any number, listened - only a barely audible wheeze came from the speaker.

Elvira Maksimovna grimaced and threw the phone into the back seat.

Maybe open the hood and take a look? Sasha suggested. It's possible that something can be fixed...

- Yes, what to fix something ?! even Elvira Maksimovna got angry. You might think you know something about it! Fix it... Someone seems to be driving over there,” she said, peering intently at the tape of the road covered with a hot, oscillating film. - The truck seems to be ... Let's vote - it will help. We'll pay him if anything...

Sasha went around the car and stood at the left side of the hood next to Elvira Maksimovna. They looked at the slowly approaching truck, and Sasha had a restless, still incomprehensible feeling growing in her chest, which became clear to her only when the truck drove up so far that it was possible to make out the facial features of the driver sitting behind the wheel.

Black bandage across the face and black beard. Sasha raised her hand to her mouth in fear. Elvira Maksimovna also recognized this truck and did not raise her hands.

The truck flew past them.

“Thank God,” Sasha breathed. Do you remember this driver?

“Who almost killed us last night?” - Elvira Maksimovna clarified. - Of course I remember…

- It’s good that we didn’t stop him and he drove past ...

"Don't rejoice ahead of time," said Elvira Maksimovna in a strangely hardened voice.

- What? .. - Sasha whispered, turning around to where Elvira Maksimovna had turned.

The truck came to a point where the road widened slightly, slowed down, made a 180-degree turn, and stopped like a beast about to jump.

It seemed that the driver was considering how to deal with the travelers who were in a difficult situation. It was at least three hundred meters from the truck to the dead sports car, about five minutes had passed since the truck stopped.

– What is he doing? Sasha asked Elvira Maksimovna in a whisper. Why did he stop there? I'm scared ... He turned in our direction and stands.

A few more minutes passed. The truck stood still. For Sasha, this was much more terrible than if he began to approach them. She couldn't take her eyes off the frozen truck. The driver could not be seen at all through the three-hundred-meter thickness of muddy stuffy air and dusty glass.

- Finally! - Elvira Maksimovna uttered hoarsely and immediately lit a cigarette, nervously drawing in the sugary menthol smoke. - Someone else is driving ... Look - it seems like a jeep is driving?

- Jeep, - Sasha confirmed; glancing briefly, she turned back to the scary truck.

Noticing a sports car parked on the side of the road and women waving frantically, the jeep slowed down and drove up to them.

As soon as the jeep stopped next to them, the truck in the distance began to move again. He turned around again and slowly drove on his way.

Sasha couldn't help but let out a sigh of relief. Elvira Maksimovna was already explaining something to the man who got out of the jeep.

Sasha turned to them as the truck was out of sight.

The jeep turned out to be not just any, but a Land Rover. True, it was dusty and neglected to such an extent that one might think that he had never known a car wash or even a simple rag.

The driver of the jeep was about thirty-five. Short coarse hair, randomly sticking out in different directions, gave the impression not of a sloppy mop, but of a trendy hairstyle. The driver's face was of the type that is usually said to be carved out of stone, although, looking closely, Sasha realized that only the protruding lower jaw could be made of stone. The rest of the face, as soon as its owner began to speak, came into a lively movement - the lips moved in time with the words flying out of them, the eyebrows moved in time with the lips, the folds on the brown forehead moved in time with the eyebrows, and the lower jaw, which was supposed to pronounce the words, seemed perfectly still, and gave every reason to believe that the jeep driver's brain was in her, and not behind the sliding sinuous wrinkles of a brown forehead.

The driver of the jeep was dressed in jeans that were rather shabby and torn at the knees and a denim jacket with torn off sleeves, which, when unbuttoned, did not hide a single muscle of a perfectly trained torso.

As Sasha could understand from the conversation, the jeep driver's name was Edik, he was engaged in the sale of used cars in a town with an unpronounceable name five kilometers away. Edik was just heading there when Elvira Maksimovna stopped him.

“We even have an emergency gang in the city,” Edik boasted, leaning back against his jeep, “you can call and they will come here.”

“I already called,” Elvira Maksimovna said, “she doesn’t pick up from here ...

- Yes? Edik was surprised. – And I also wanted to buy a mobile phone for myself the other day… We don’t even have a mobile center in our city, in my opinion… Yes, this is a city – one name. No mobile center is needed. You whistle at one end, you will answer at the other ...

- Great, - Elvira Maksimovna appreciated. - And what about the car?

- With a car?

Edik went up to the car, opened the hood and, carefully scratching his lower jaw, thought deeply about its shimmering insides.

- Is the car new? Edik asked a few minutes later.

- New, - answered Elvira Maksimovna, - they didn’t really have time to run in ...

- So that's the point! - Edik was delighted. - And you probably quickly drove her?

“I rarely drive slowly,” said Elvira Maksimovna.

“In that case, it could be something like this,” Edik said, wrinkling his brown forehead, “these new machines, just like those stuffed with electronics, have such a shitty feature ... If they are exploited too zealously, they simply turn off the entire system in order to do not overheat ... Understand?

“Almost,” Elvira Maksimovna shook her head. In other words, nothing serious?

- As far as I understand, no, - Edik confirmed and put his hands in the pockets of his jeans, - it is quite possible that in half an hour the engine will cool down and everything will be in order. Although - just in case - you need to show the girl to a specialist ...

- What girl? Elvira Maksimovna asked in astonishment and glanced sideways at Sasha, who was standing on the sidelines.

- Yes, I'm talking about the car! Edik explained. That's what I call cars...

She and Elvira Maksimovna laughed. Sasha suddenly noticed that Elvira Maksimovna was not looking at Edik the way she usually looked at the men around her.

“What if it doesn’t start after half an hour?” asked Elvira Maksimovna.

Edik thought again with his lower jaw.

- I can offer this option, - he said, - I will give you a lift to the city, and from there you will return here in an emergency car.

- And my ... car should I leave here, or what? - Elvira Maksimovna did not understand.

“Yes, you can do it here too,” Edik shrugged his shoulders, “what is there ... Two cars pass along this highway every hour ... And you will turn around in half an hour ... If you hurry, of course ...

- Well, no, - Elvira Maksimovna resolutely objected, - I won’t leave my girl ... that is, the car ... here unattended.

- Then let's - your girlfriend will go with me, - Edik made a second proposal, - in the city she will agree with the emergency gang and return. Until then, take care of your car. Is that how it goes?

Elvira Maksimovna looked doubtfully at Sasha. Sasha shrugged her shoulders, but lowered the corners of her mouth, which always meant she had a clear unwillingness to do anything.

Elvira Maksimovna knew perfectly well that all she had to do was order her, and Sasha would meekly get into Edik's jeep and go wherever he needed to. But she just doubted that Sasha would be able to quickly negotiate with the emergency service workers, whose structure, apparently, is still in its infancy in this city, and organize a trip to help.

And Elvira Maksimovna did not smile at all for half a day to sit in complete solitude in a car melting from the crazy southern sun.

“Besides,” thought Elvira Maksimovna unexpectedly to herself, glancing over Edik’s half-naked torso – from the powerful jaw to the elastically convex and brown abdominal muscles, “it would be nice to ride in a jeep with a peasant – the old fashioned way. For the sake of diversity, so to speak ... "

- Let's do this, - said Elvira Maksimovna, - I will go with you, Edik, and the girl ... Sasha will remain to guard the car.

Eddie shrugged.

“Yes, what is it to me?” he said. - Do as you wish. Remember what I said about new cars stuffed with electronics? – this he turned to Sasha. - It is quite possible that when the engine cools down, it will return to normal ...

“Exactly,” said Elvira Maksimovna, “you, Sasha, that’s what – if this happens suddenly ... Well, in about fifteen minutes ...

“In about fifteen minutes it’s about time,” Edik interjected, “the motor will have time to cool down completely during this time. Unless, of course, my diagnosis is correct. But I actually understand something about cars ...

- If in fifteen minutes the car can go, - continued Elvira Maksimovna, - you drive slowly forward - you will meet me with an emergency gang. Then you won't have to pay the full cost of the call.

“But it wouldn’t be better for you and me to wait in the car together,” Sasha said, who really did not want to be left alone, “if fifteen minutes ...

“So should I take someone to town or not?” Edik asked, pulling away from the side of his jeep. - Keep in mind that I'm leaving now. I can't wait fifteen minutes. Things are waiting for me in the city ...

- Drive, drive, - Elvira Maksimovna hurried, taking a step towards the jeep, - who knows. Suddenly, and after fifteen minutes, and after half an hour, the car will not start. And here we are waiting for another ride ...

- A very long time, - Edik confirmed, interrupting, and opened the door from the side of his driver's seat, - a very long time to wait.

“Here,” Elvira Maksimovna said, “as Edik advises us, we will do just that,” her gaze again lingered on Edik’s chocolate press. - Just what should we do if we suddenly miss each other with Sasha?

“Easier than simple,” Edik spoke quickly. There is a cafe at the entrance to the city. It's called Roadside. You will meet there, if that.

- Excellent! - Elvira Maksimovna liked this plan. Do you remember, Sasha? Cafe "Seaside".

“You can’t drive past it,” Edik said, getting into the jeep, “there is only one highway here, and on this highway - on the remaining stretch of the way to the city - there is one such cafe ...

– Did you understand everything? Elvira Maksimovna asked Sasha.

“Yes,” Sasha nodded and sighed.

- Don't be silly! – Elvira Maksimovna reassured Sasha, already walking around the jeep to sit next to Edik, – you have rights. I gave you a power of attorney for the car. You drive normally ... Like.

“Yes, there’s nothing to drive here,” Edik interjected again, “all the time in a straight line and in a straight line. And there are few cars, so even if you want to, it will be difficult for you to crash into someone.

She and Elvira Maksimovna laughed. Edik started the engine.

- Well, see you soon! Elvira Maksimovna shouted to Sasha, trying to drown out the noise of the jeep's powerful engine with her birdlike voice. - Look, do not confuse anything! Wait fifteen minutes or more. Then try to start the car. Then, if possible, drive slowly towards me ...

The end of the phrase was no longer heard. Throwing out two fountains of white dust scorched by the sun from under the rear treads, the jeep rushed along the road and very soon turned into a black dot, and then completely disappeared.

* * *

Sasha couldn't get the one-eyed bearded man out of his head. In a stuffy car, even with all the windows down, she was sleepy, but she was afraid to close her eyes, so that the vile black mug, crossed over the eye with a deaf bandage, would not appear again in her mind.

Finally, weary of her hazy state of half-sleep, she got a bottle of lukewarm mineral water from the back seat and, leaning out of the half-open car door, rinsed her face.

“It must have been fifteen minutes already,” she said to herself, and reaching for the key in the ignition, she tried to start the car.

The engine roared, the car trembled, ready to rush forward.

- Started up ... - Sasha said with surprise, - wow - what miracles ... As if it hadn’t stalled half an hour ago.

The car started moving. Sasha was driving in first speed - very, very slowly.

“Probably it looks funny from the outside,” thought Sasha, “such a massive car, but it moves as if it is groping its way in the dark.”

Sasha received confirmation of this assumption immediately - some crazy teenager motorcyclist who swept past her towards the city turned around and opened his mouth wide, breaking his pimply mug into two halves.

It even seemed to Sasha that snippets of mocking laughter had reached her.

- So what, - Sasha said and increased her speed by two kilometers per hour, - but I have the opportunity to meet Elvira Maksimovna here - on the highway, and not hang around in some eatery at the entrance to the city. I imagine the rednecks in this diner will stare at me. And try to treat with warm Soviet champagne produced in the city of Uchkuduk ...

No matter how slowly the sports car driven by Sasha dragged along the track, and no matter how Sasha peered into the distance unsteady from the heat, the emergency car did not show up.

But some long one-story building loomed ahead, similar to a train car and a construction barrack forgotten by someone on the road - at the same time.

Soon it was possible to make out the sign - "Cafe "Pridorozhnoe".

“Apparently, I’ll have to wait in this cafe for my Elvira Maksimovna,” Sasha muttered under her breath, “you can’t get anywhere ...

“Maybe,” a thought stirred in her, “that Elvira Maksimovna is already waiting for me there? It is unlikely - she does not know for sure that her car has returned to normal ... "

Sasha drove up to the cafe. I parked the car so that it could be easily seen from the road and headed to the cafe.

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Like a drop of revived mercury, a large sports car was flying down the narrow and winding mountain road of silver color.

The huge, red sun, like the wide-open eye of a prehistoric reptile, already beginning to be sucked in by the sagging line of the distant horizon, did not see the car gliding under its fading rays.

The big gray car, not subject to the red sunset glow, seemed completely alien to the southern nature surrounding it; and was so similar to an unknown alien beast that it became strange at the thought that inside it, of course, there are people who control it.

“The sun is setting,” Sasha said, without squinting, watching the darkening and dying ball through the tinted glass. “It’s beautiful, isn’t it, Elvira Maksimovna?”

Sasha received in response a cloud of tobacco smoke and a melodious bell:

- Of course.

“As in the old joke,” Sasha continued, looking into the distant mountain ranges passing by the window, similar to the backs of giant ossified camels, “when an employee of a large company comes to a travel agency and orders an exclusive mansion on the Mediterranean coast for his boss ...

Sasha fell silent, mesmerized by the flaming camel backs.

- So what? Elvira Maksimovna said loudly, again dragging on her cigarette.

- BUT? Sasha started up, turning around.

- Is it an anecdote?

- Anecdote ... Ah, well, yes. An employee of the company in a travel agency sets conditions - that the mansion is only three meters from the beach, that there is no one around for twenty kilometers, that seagulls fly over the sea only from left to right and do not scream ... He is told: this is impossible - there are certain sanitary areas near the sea and in general ... wildlife cannot be controlled. The employee lifts from his shoulders a huge bag stuffed with hundred-dollar bills. The agency is dumbfounded, the employee was promised to arrange everything ...

Sasha fell silent for a few seconds, feeling that Elvira Maksimovna was not listening to her - there was a sharp turn ahead, and the road narrowed sharply.

“A few months later,” Sasha continued, when the dangerous turn was over, “on the veranda of a luxurious mansion, three meters from the deserted beach, a businessman comes out. He scratches his chest under a brocade robe, looks at the sky, where seagulls with tied beaks fly from left to right, and says: “Yes, beauty ... That’s what you can’t buy for any money ...”

Elvira Maksimovna smiled, shaking her graceful, slightly birdlike head.

“Quite right,” she said, “there is nothing that cannot be bought.” She even turned to Sasha, noticing that she shrugged her shoulders vaguely. - You say it is not so?

“It can’t be like that,” Sasha said after a pause, “something must be such that ...

- For example? - Elvira Maksimovna asked mockingly, lighting another cigarette. - Give an example...

Sasha was silent.

- Even if we take the crown of creation - man, - continued Elvira Maksimovna. - It would seem - what is more perfect and more valuable ... But - it is easy to buy and sell. Did I buy you? Well ... to be more precise - I rented it. During your vacation. But if I want, I can buy forever and with all the giblets. It is so?

Sasha said:

- So.

Although she could object about offal, by which Elvira Maksimovna clearly meant a spiritual, out-of-body human essence, but did not. And a minute later, she thought with fear that she kept silent because her spiritual, out-of-body essence is now not completely free.

"It'll be completely dark soon," Sasha said to drive that thought away from her. - Where are we going to sleep? Back in the car?

- In about two hours there will be a roadside hotel, - said Elvira Maksimovna, - a cafe, a gas station, everything ... We will spend the night there. And we'll be there the next morning. It is interesting to see which mansion my "sixes" have chosen for me ...

“What about you,” Sasha asked, “do you trust them so much that you don’t even check their work?” Have you seen this mansion yet?

“Only in the photographs,” Elvira Maksimovna shrugged her shoulders. “My firm has been around for a long time. And the staff know my tastes. I am so sure of this that I can trust them in choosing this kind. I am most captivated by the location of this mansion - it is located on a stretch of the Black Sea coast, where you rarely meet any of the other vacationers. Perhaps there is only one such site left,” she added, “and rest here costs much more than in any fancy sanatorium. Of course,” she continued, throwing her finished cigarette out the window, “there are certain difficulties in this case – it is difficult to get there. Only by car. But after all - it will not be a problem if it is not made a problem. So?

“Yes,” Sasha nodded. – Remember when we had a rest in a closed sanatorium in Yalta last year? How did the people around us squint at us? ..

- Exactly, - Elvira Maksimovna picked it up and laughed, - especially when I invited you to rub my back in the shower on the beach ... In that mansion where you and I will live this year, there will certainly be no chain-bearing rednecks. In general, there will be no one. Only a minimum of servants. You know... - Elvira Maksimovna laughed again, catching a sudden thought - why don't you and I get married? Well, not officially, but like this ... I would buy you out of your fucking office. You would no longer have to serve fat old aunts crazy with age ... I can imagine how stunned my “sixes” would be when they found out ...

- We have been meeting for a long time, - Sasha remarked, - in my opinion, for anyone from your environment ... the formalization of our relationship would not be a big surprise. The girls from my agency would definitely be very surprised. It is not so rare that men marry prostitutes, but in order to ...

- You are wrong! Elvira Maksimovna suddenly objected. - I mean, my subordinates know everything about our relationship. No one should know anything about our relationship with you - of course, I joked about the wedding. I need to maintain my prestige. And if there are any rumors among my "sixes", then the chatterboxes are well aware - one careless word and ...

“Someone told me,” Sasha said, “that earlier, in the last century, rich old men who supported young girls represented them in the world as their nieces ... Do you remember, Elvira Maksimovna, how they once took us for sisters?

Elvira Maksimovna was already thinking about something else, smoking another menthol cigarette, which she destroyed up to three packs a day. Sasha, looking at her, fell silent and turned back to the window.

The mountain descent is over. The winding and narrow road has turned into a smooth, wide highway - a serpentine ribbon hanging so low from the tree straightens on the floor.

It's already completely dark. Elvira Maksimovna turned on the high beam and increased her speed. They drove in silence for about half an hour.

- I want to sleep, - Elvira Maksimovna yawned barely perceptibly, - her eyes are closing.

“You don’t need to sleep,” Sasha was frightened. - Let's talk, otherwise you will fall asleep, and we will fly into a ditch. How many such cases happened.

"I'm tired of it," Elvira Maksimovna grimaced gracefully. Everything has already been discussed. For days in a row, we just do what we talk. Put some disc.

- What, for example? Sasha asked, opening the glove compartment.

“King Crimson,” Elvira Maksimovna said after thinking, and when the music sounded in the cabin of the car speeding along the highway, she leaned back and stretched sweetly without letting go of the black steering wheel from her hands.

Sasha turned to the window again, but nothing was visible there, except for the rapidly flying overweight silhouettes of bushes and trees, which almost instantly turned into a solid dark line.

Sasha closed her eyes. She seems to have dozed off; in any case, the thoughts and images that suddenly swirled in her head, in their fantasticness and at the same time their vivid plausibility, were more like ordinary dreams.

When a white-foamed wedding dress covered her and she found herself somewhere on a hill, surrounded by humming people, and next to her Elvira Maksimovna took her by the arm, dressed for some reason in a strict men's suit and therefore became like a miniature boy who glued a tuft of black over his upper lip wool from the lining of a winter coat, - she suddenly felt cold touches on her body and, opening her eyes, realized that she really was sleeping.

Electric guitar overflows, like threads of an invisible, sparkling cobweb, easily taking off and disappearing, instead of falling off, filled the interior of the car - Elvira Maksimovna, obviously, added a sound.

Sasha stirred and suddenly found that her white shirt was unbuttoned to the last two buttons, and without that short skirt fluffed up to the very waist.

- Awoke? Elvira Maksimovna purred thinly. - I woke you up, woke you up ...

She reached out to Sasha again, keeping her eyes on the road, and Sasha, habitually feeling her hand on her chest, leaned back and closed her eyes.

“No, that won’t do,” Elvira Maksimovna said after half a minute and took her hand away, “now you don’t sleep, my eyes are so glued together ... And it’s still an hour to go to the hotel. If not more... It's better if you don't let me sleep.

Sasha resignedly moved closer to Elvira Maksimovna. Her hands skillfully slid over the bird's body, freeing him from clothing where it was needed.

“Be careful…” Elvira Maksimovna exhaled quietly after a few minutes and, tilting her head slightly, took her earlobe away from Sasha's already swollen lips. - I'm still driving a car ... I need to somehow control myself ...

Sasha's palm, folded like a boat under Elvira Maksimovna's clothes, slid off her stomach a little lower, and, screaming, Elvira Maksimovna threw back her head herself and greedily dug her lips into Sasha's lips.

Lowered long eyelashes flickered before Sasha's half-closed eyes, and at the same second, from somewhere far away and at the very same time, a car roared very close.

Escaping from the tight embrace, Elvira Maksimovna turned the steering wheel. Sasha was thrown to the door. The headlights of a sports car, switched to high beam, snatched out of the darkness of the night a truck that swept very close by, furiously humming with an antediluvian horn.

Elvira Maksimovna, without ceasing to squeal, pressed on the brake pedal. The sports car spun across the road, and with a terrifying screech it came to a halt, almost overturning.

For a few seconds there was such silence, which happens only after a very strong direct blow to the face.

Sasha looked in the rearview mirror. The truck, which almost smashed them and Elvira Maksimovna together with the car, also stopped. The door slammed, someone fell out of the truck.

- What was it? Sasha breathed out.

“That’s how we had fun…” muttered Elvira Maksimovna, staring with widened eyes at her hands, still clutching the steering wheel, “if only a little more, and we would have left a wet place… Who knew that in this wilderness, and even at such a time there may be an oncoming car on the road...

- He's coming towards us, - Sasha screamed, looking into the rear-view mirror again, - this one ... from the truck.

Elvira Maksimovna silently started the car and began to turn around. The driver of the truck, a huge bearded man, was already very close. Elvira Maksimovna squealed again when he rapped on the glass from her side.

- Whores!! the man's roar sounded muffled because of the raised windows. “They almost ruined my car, you filthy bitches! .. I saw what you were doing there !! There are no cops on you, perverts!!

Elvira Maksimovna finally leveled the car and switched gears. The man was still running beside them, yelling something completely inarticulate and shaking the night air with his clenched fists.

Sasha suddenly noticed that his broad face was crossed obliquely by a black bandage covering his right eye.

- I'll find you again! - shouted the man.

Elvira Maksimovna pressed the gas pedal, and he, along with his truck, disappeared.

Instantly picking up speed, the sports car raced on down the night road. The sparkling guitar threads disappeared - Elvira Maksimovna turned off the player.

Sasha still couldn't calm down. Her breathing was interrupted every now and then, and from time to time she had to gasp for air that had suddenly become very stuffy. She couldn't lower the window - it seemed to her that if she did this, the one-eyed bearded man would immediately roll into the passenger compartment, woven out of the darkness of the night, and grab her by the arm.

“But now I don’t feel like sleeping,” Elvira Maksimovna smiled with her still pale lips, who was always proud of the fact that she quickly recovers after any shock - a quality, by the way, very useful in her hectic life as a Russian businesswoman.

“It seems to me that I won’t sleep at all today,” Sasha complained, “this one-eyed one ... Like a pirate from a black and white film ...

- Scared? Elvira Maksimovna turned slightly to her. - What is there to be afraid of now? We did the right thing by leaving immediately. Who knows what he could do to us on the night road, where there is not a soul for several kilometers ... Now there is nothing to be afraid of. I would look at this animal when he tries to download rights somewhere ... Where it's crowded. Let him prove that there was something like that. There were no witnesses to the incident - he was alone in the cockpit. And none of the cars received any damage. It seems ... Well, ours - for sure.

“Look,” Sasha suddenly got up in her seat, “there are some lights ahead!”

“Yes,” Elvira Maksimovna confirmed. - A big building. Have we already arrived at the hotel? What is it called there...

Elvira Maksimovna took out a map of the area from under the seat and unfolded it on her knees.

- Yeah, this hotel ... Do you know what it's called? she chuckled again.

- How?

- "Motel" ... What? Briefly and clearly. The most important thing is the topic. Most importantly, this hotel should not be as dirty as hotels in the periphery usually are. I know those provincial “Motels” – cockroaches fall from the ceiling like confetti… – Elvira Maksimovna looked at Sasha again.

Sasha buttoned up her shirt and straightened her skirt.

“Then put my clothes in order,” demanded Elvira Maksimovna, “only this time without nonsense.” Otherwise, I’m already afraid - suddenly another crazy truck will surface now ...

She laughed with a silver bell. Sasha was not laughing.

Ahead, large letters flickered, lined with red electric lights. After a few more minutes, the letters formed easily into the word "Motel."

“Look,” Elvira Maksimovna was surprised, rising a little on the seat so that Sasha could button up her skirt. “Indeed, they have already arrived. And I thought we still had a whole hour to go ... The ancients said well: a pleasant fellow traveler - and the road is half as short ... - the bell rang again. “Besides, we were driving at high speed. Well, just a little more, and we will have the opportunity to sleep on relatively clean linen ...

* * *

When she and Elvira Maksimovna slept together, Sasha always woke up first - it was assumed that Sasha was supposed to make coffee and cook breakfast. For almost all of Sasha's regular customers, such morning care meant that, in addition to the usual dachshund, Sasha needed to throw some more on top.

In the case of Elvira Maksimovna, Sasha had the opportunity to skimp on his voluntary duties, because Elvira Maksimovna did not drink coffee, but instead of breakfast, she smoked two or three menthol cigarettes. Moreover, Elvira Maksimovna took Sasha with her on a two-week vacation, having paid for her services in advance; she wouldn't pay Sasha extra every morning now...

In addition, Elvira Maksimovna used Sasha's services for quite a long time - ever since a few years ago she suddenly discovered in herself a dormant attraction to the representatives of her own sex and put her henpecked husband out of the door. Sasha knew perfectly well that Elvira Maksimovna, the owner of a large metropolitan firm, who loves accuracy in everything, would never pay more than the agreed rate even to her.

Sasha dressed slowly in front of the mirror. Her clothes - something like a permanent uniform laid down by the nature of her profession - a transparent shirt and a very short skirt - did not hide at all, but on the contrary - emphasized every pleasant bulge of Sasha's body, which Sasha herself considered ideal, and generally accepted standards - a little large .

The dressing procedure, although Sasha performed it with deliberate deliberation, took only a few minutes. It was too hot for pantyhose, and Sasha was not supposed to have underwear - Elvira Maksimovna did not like it.

Having dressed, Sasha combed her well-groomed long blond hair, which she was very proud of, and loosened it over her shoulders, fluffing a little around her slightly wide-cheeked face.

Having finished with the hair, Sasha set about the obligatory make-up. From time to time she turned away from the mirror and cast a glance at Elvira Maksimovna, sleeping naked, lying across the wide bed.

As usual, stripped of clothes, Elvira Maksimovna resembled a fragile fifteen-year-old girl drowned in swollen snow-white sheets. Her face, even with traces of yesterday's strict make-up, could not be called the face of a thirty-year-old woman. Elvira Maksimovna took care of herself and looked much younger than her years, and if it were not for her usual business suit, then at all sorts of business meetings or conferences she could easily be mistaken for the daughter of one of the businessmen who accidentally wandered.

Suddenly Sasha thought that, despite such a long and close acquaintance with Elvira Maksimovna, she would never learn to address her as “you” - even in the most intimate moments. Already Elvira Maksimovna herself made comments to her about this - she said that it’s funny to hear phrases like: “Elvira Maksimovna, lift your skirt, please, it’s more convenient ...” - but Sasha couldn’t help herself - it just so happened that from the very early childhood, every person, invested with even a minimal shred of power, aroused in her reverence, reaching outright reverence.

And since, due to her timid nature, Sasha considered almost every person important and significant, she only called girls from her calling agency and stray cats, whom she loved very much, as “you”, and that’s all.

Sasha called both her father and mother, as was customary in the nineteenth century, “you”.

Sighing about something in her dream, Elvira Maksimovna rolled over on her side, outlining a short invisible arc in the air with her sharp pink girlish nipples.

On the wide bed, Elvira Maksimovna looked very small. Sasha often thought that Elvira Maksimovna's diminutiveness was more than compensated by Elvira Maksimovna's love for everything big and significant - be it a squat and wide sports car, huge mansions on the outskirts of the capital, a company that spread almost half of Moscow with many branches in other cities and, finally, her magnificent body, Sasha.

As if sensing Sasha's gaze on herself, Elvira Maksimovna rolled over onto her back and raised her head.

- Woke up already?

“Yes,” Sasha nodded, moving away from the mirror.

- What time is it now?

Sasha, looking at the watch on her hand, answered.

- Oh-oh ... - Elvira Maksimovna stretched sweetly, bringing her thin hand to her mouth. “Where did I put my cigarettes yesterday,” she suddenly became worried, “have I really lost it?” In this hole, most likely you won’t get such cigarettes for any money ...

- Yes, here they are, on the nightstand!

“There’s already a lot of time,” Elvira Maksimovna said anxiously, lighting a cigarette, “we’ll leave soon. We’ll just have breakfast and then we’ll go ... And you, Sasha, go down to the parking lot ... Ask them to look at our car and ... fill it up. Full tank - who knows where next time we will meet a gas station until we get to the place.

“Okay,” Sasha said.

“For now, I’ll take a shower and get dressed,” Elvira Maksimovna said, leaning back comfortably on the pillows and waving a smoking cigarette towards Sasha: “Go.”

* * *

Sasha did not want to eat at all, nor did she want to return to the stuffy room, so after giving the necessary instructions to the workers in the parking lot, she stepped aside and sat down on a low bench in the shade of a tall, lonely cypress.

To Sasha's left stood the grotesque hulk of a cheap cinder block hotel, messily painted a hazy green-brown color, which made the whole structure look rather repulsive, as if the hotel had been doused with shit from roof to cellar.

Sasha looked around - the smell, from which she was slightly sick, came from a wooden booth of a single toilet, intended, obviously, for employees of the parking lot and gas station of the hotel.

To the right and left, for Sasha’s observations, there was nothing of value either - only puddles of diesel fuel, heaps of garbage of agricultural and technical origin, exuding a mixed aroma of manure and burnt car treads, and several old, broken-down cars, mostly trucks on a fence surrounded by a flimsy fence of rusted metal plates actual parking lot.

Suddenly, Sasha noticed that the boys who were examining Elvira Maksimovna's car kept throwing far from modest glances at her, winking and giggling among themselves.

On a creaky bench, she turned a little sideways to them so that the lack of underwear, which attracted the attention of young people, God forbid, would not damage Elvira Maksimovna’s car - Sasha perfectly remembered how at one of the gas stations a mustachioed uncle, looking at Sasha’s chest, half-naked after another pranks of Elvira Maksimovna, accidentally scratched the front fender with a filling pistol.

In order not to provoke the workers, Sasha began to look at the camel backs of the distant mountain ranges, the distance to which seemed to have not changed at all during the second day of her car trip. Sasha would gladly get up from the bench and move somewhere far away from the hot eyes of young people, but there were no other benches in the shade in the courtyard of the hotel.

Sasha was well aware that men liked her, but she herself did not have any feelings for them. When she started her career as a street prostitute, she used her attractiveness solely for profit and sincerely did not understand those women who were frank about enjoying themselves in bed with a man. And only when she accidentally had a chance to try female caresses, she realized that bodily pleasures are not only the pleasure of delicious food, expensive drinks and cozy rest.

Then she decided, as they say, to combine business with pleasure and passed an interview in one of the agencies specializing in supplying clients with girls and boys trained in all the subtleties of same-sex love.

After several months of work in this agency, Sasha met Elvira Maksimovna and fell in love with her so much that a week rarely passed without two or three, or even more, calls from Elvira Maksimovna.

Later, Elvira Maksimovna began to take Sasha with her on holidays or business trips, and at about the same time she began to start strange and confusing conversations about unnatural marriage, which soon became a kind of fixed idea for Elvira Maksimovna.

Sasha did not understand whether her patroness was serious about this or joking. She knew that such marriages were illegal, but still, the thought of the possible possibility that she and Elvira Maximovna would someday live - as spouses - under the same roof, made Sasha try her best to please Elvira Maximovna. Momentary revenue is a good thing, but she wanted to achieve a deep and long-term location of Elvira Maksimovna.

And Elvira Maksimovna, although she preferred young girls to male representatives, could not forever get rid of her dream of a real man, because of the absence of which, according to her, she began to feel a craving for women.

Sasha did not understand much when Elvira Maksimovna talked to her about this, but one day it occurred to her that after many fruitless attempts to find her ideal man, Elvira Maksimovna began to rebuild herself under this ideal...

- Hello beauty!

Sasha almost cried out in surprise and fright. In front of her stood the same man whose truck had nearly rammed Elvira Maksimovna's sports car the previous night.

Well, yes, the same one. A thick black beard and a pirate bandage on his face. He was dressed, as Sasha could now see, in old, impossibly frayed and oiled jeans and a tattered T-shirt of an indefinite color, which exposed his thick hands, blackened by the southern sun. Sasha noticed a tattoo on her right shoulder - a skull over two crossed bones and a strange inscription - "If you want grief, love me."

- Hello, beauty ... Deaf, or what?

“N-no…” Sasha found the strength to stammer. - Hello…

“He was driving towards us,” flashed through her mind, “how could he be in this hotel? Specially - turned the car around and chased us? I waited for the morning and now ... "

“After I almost fit into your car,” the man said, as if answering Sasha’s unspoken questions, “I almost turned my truck over. The cylinder on my right wheel was already dying, and then you ... In short, I had a flat tire, and the spare tire is no better than the old cylinder. I had to come back here - after all, you won’t go on a flight on such shit ... I ran out of time, called ... Now I’m sunbathing here ... through your fault, by the way ... - the one-eyed man ended his speech with a savory spit that almost hit Sasha on the leg.

“Well, excuse me,” Sasha said, “we didn’t do it on purpose…”

“Sorry…” the one-eyed chuckled. "Fuck your apologies..."

Sasha looked around helplessly. Throughout almost her entire life, there was always a person next to her, whose duty it was to protect her. When she worked on the street, it was the guy who sold her to clients. If he couldn’t cope on his own, he could always call four from the old car, constantly standing in a deaf gateway, either the guards, or the roof, or just his friends - Sasha did not know who these four were, drinking every night beer in an old car and appearing only when it was necessary to reason with outraged customers who were not on business. And after Sasha began working in the agency, she had no problems with clients at all. The girls who had already drunk dashingly - her colleagues in the shop - whispered that they were terribly lucky, that they go under such a serious roof and none of the clients dare to offend them just like that, and Sasha did not understand their joy. It turned out so well for her that she knew about cases of clients bullying prostitutes only from oral stories, which she was not very inclined to believe: it was a sin for many girls to embellish and turn rather ordinary episodes into real incidents.

And now even Elvira Maksimovna was not around to intercede for her.

- Why are you silent? The one-eyed man kept looking at her. “Are you… retarded?”

“I’m… tired,” Sasha burst out, “I’m tired… just…

The one-eyed man snorted disdainfully and looked her over from head to toe, in which, however, there was by no means only disdain.

- And you have nothing ... - he began to say and turned to the car, near which there were no workers, - nothing, I say, you have a wheelbarrow. What is it called?

Sasha knew this. Elvira Maksimovna loved her cars and often repeated their names.

“Audi Quattro Sport,” she uttered, “one of the latest models ... Only it is not adapted, it seems to me, to our roads. This is where your truck will pass...

“Let’s swap,” suggested the one-eyed one, “let’s wave without looking, huh?”

Sasha didn't have anything to say. It seemed to her that the one-eyed man, who at first spoke to her more or less calmly, was now gradually losing his temper.

“It’s necessary to turn off the conversation,” Sasha thought, “somehow he behaves incomprehensibly at all ...”

“I will go,” she said. - I'll be late for breakfast.

“Nothing,” the one-eyed man said incomprehensibly and shook his head, “nothing ...

Sasha got up from the bench and went to the entrance to the hotel. While walking to the door, she looked back twice - the one-eyed man was looking after her, putting his hand to his forehead in the manner of a visor.

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  CHAPTER 2 At breakfast, Elvira Maksimovna's voice trembled with the bird's chirping that Sasha knew so well.  This calmed Sasha, a...