Chapter 018

Sergey appeared at the beginning of June. He called during breakfast.

“Yes, hello, I’m listening!” my father coughed. “Yes, I’m listening! Oh, it’s you, Seryozha, hello.”

Holding the phone to his ear, he slowly walked out onto the balcony. I followed.

“Well, I understand you, Seryozha,” my father finally said, scratching the tip of his nose thoughtfully. “So you have decided to work with us? We? Yes, of course. Well, we made you an offer, so we’re going to work together! Otherwise, why all this talk!”

My father paused, listened, and occasionally said “uh-huh” and “well, yes”.

“Well, now that you’re being sent out, you can bring your goods to our warehouse if you want to work together. That makes sense. When do you want to move it?”

Sitting on the balcony couch with my back to my father, I looked out into the yard and listened.

“We’re going to the warehouse now. Okay, we’ll wait for you. Yeah, be there in a couple of hours. We’ll unload you. Deal. All right. Bye,” my father pressed the button on the phone.

“What, he wants to bring his goods already? We haven’t done the paperwork yet, have we!?” I turned around and said sharply.

“We’ll do it, what’s the problem?” my father said calmly.

“It’s just not in the right order,” I shrugged. “We should have drawn up the documents and started working by now. It’s been a month! He may have other things to do there, though.”

When we arrived at the warehouse, we began loading. Soon we heard the sound of an engine from the gatehouse, and a “ZIL” truck with a flatbed and an iron container in the back rolled up to the warehouse.

“Sergey is here,” I said.

“Well and good,” replied my father, carrying the boxes into the ‘GAZelle’.

“Good afternoon,” a square silhouette in shorts, an A-shirt and flip-flops appeared at the entrance.

“Hey, Seryoga!” I blurted out, and we shook hands.

“Hello, Anatoly Vasilievich,” he said politely, approaching my father in a dignified manner and shaking his hand, almost as if at a formal reception.

“Hi, Seryozha,” my father said casually.

“Loading?” Sergey asked.

“Yes, almost done!” I said happily. “What did you bring?”

“All my goods, Anatoly Vasilievich and I talked this morning and decided I’d better bring them to you,” Sergey said, wiping the sweat from his forehead and temples with the back of his hand. “Dichlorvos, air fresheners, basically ‘Aerosib’, and some salt. And I grabbed a couple of showcases, I thought maybe we could use them here.”

“That’s right, Seryoga! Well done! Bring everything, we’ll figure it out!” I laughed, pleased with the housewifery of our future companion. “Just a minute, we’ll finish here and you can drive up!”

“Let me help you, it will be faster,” he said, and in a moment he was there, pointing to the boxes and saying, “These? How many? Ten?”, when he heard my “Uh-huh”, he grabbed one, took it to the back of the “GAZelle”, came back and grabbed the next one. He was done in a minute.

“That’s it, Dad, pull away,” I said. “Seryoga, come up, we’ll unload you.”

“Maybe I’ll take the goods and you unload here yourself?” suggested my father.

“That’s a good idea!” I said, “You go ahead, Dad, and we’ll unload.”

“Shall I drive up?” Sergey asked as soon as the “GAZelle” drove off with a grunt.

I nodded. He walked towards the “ZIL”. I hummed: Sergey’s walk made me laugh. Broad shoulders, short legs and an overweight build. He walked, often shuffling his legs, and his arms, which seemed short because of the fullness of his body, dangled like rags in the rhythm of his steps. The truck pulled up to the warehouse. Sergey, sniffling and with obvious difficulty, clumsily climbed into the back and opened the container doors.

“Why did you bring the pallets?” I wondered. “We have plenty of them here.”

“Well, I didn’t know that. There’s only three of them here,” Sergey said, adding with a chuckle. “Common fund! That’s my contribution to the common fund!”

“All right!” I smiled, feeling more and more sympathetic towards him.

“Cool guy, that Seryoga!” I thought to myself as we worked. “It all worked out so well – we got the goods we wanted, and we got such a wonderful, kind, cheerful, open-minded partner! My old man is always unhappy about everything. Even now he is angry. What has Seryoga done to him? He asked for the second time about our work scheme. So what? He could have answered in a normal way, saying, “You’ll find out later”. No, he had to insult a good man he didn’t know. I think we’re going to work well with Seryoga. We’re going to have a great partner.

I was glad that my time of reluctance to work with my father was over. I was so tired of his lectures, his moralizing, and his endless stories about how I should and shouldn’t live that I was ready to leave everything and go over the hills and far away. I was so sick and tired of it all. I didn’t want to see my father at all. The stuffiness around me was suffocating. And so I rushed with all my strength towards a new turn in my work, like a diver who rushes up from the depths, feeling that the oxygen is running out and that a breath of air is the reward for his patience.

“Let’s take down the showcases first!” Sergey interrupted my thoughts.

“Damn, we have nowhere to put our own,” I nodded in the direction of the previous warehouse.

“The common fund, they’ll go to the common fund too!” Sergey cackled and smiled.

The new warehouse was almost empty, and we took the showcases to the farthest corner.

“You work with ‘Arbalest’, right?” Sergey said.

“Yes, everyone works with ‘Arbalest’, I think,” I replied. “You did, didn’t you?”

“Yes, we bartered with them for a good volume. Do you work with ‘Mongoose’ as well?”

“We do. You worked with them too, didn’t you?”

“Uh-huh!” said Sergey.

“So you work with all the wholesalers here?” Sergey continued.

“Yes, like everyone else, we work with some and some not,” I said evasively.

Sergey chewed his bottom lip, wanted to say something, but exhaled thoughtfully and just said: “Okay, dichlorvos, here are two hundred and fifty boxes, where to?”

I dragged the empty pallet to the truck and said quickly: “Here!”

It took us about forty minutes to unload three pallets. Sergey was drenched in sweat. His forehead, his temples, the folds of his neck. He was breathing heavily, like a man unaccustomed to long and regular physical exertion. Despite the heat, I was just warming up, barely sweating.

Next came the salts – thick boxes of fifteen kilograms.

When Sergey finished with them, he exhaled heavily, straightened up, and put his hand on his lower back.

“Tired?” I muttered.

“No, my back,” he grimaced harder and looked at me. “I threw my back out once, so I’m trying to take care of it.”

I sympathized with him, told him that my father’s back was also ruined, and immediately encouraged him that we should join forces, increase the business turnover, and immediately hire a storekeeper and a loader.

“You made good money with ‘Sasha’, right?” I asked afterwards.

“Yes, Davidych would pay well. Not everybody though. Usually he paid everybody okay, but he paid me really well. I was on good terms with him. At that time I was building up ‘Sasha’. I found suppliers, signed contracts, drove around the cities, and I got sales all over town.”

I admired what he said, because my father and I got an active and experienced partner.

“Do you want to know how much Davidych paid me?” Sergey slurred.

“How much?”

“Forty thousand a month.”

“Wow!” I opened my mouth in surprise and whistled.

“Well, he officially paid me twenty and gave me another twenty so the others wouldn’t know. Otherwise, if the others in ‘Sasha’ had found out, they would have made such a fuss!”

“You bet they would,” I said.

The amount Sergey mentioned was staggering. Ten thousand was considered a good average wage in the city; twenty was a comfortable wage at which there might already be a surplus.

“Yeah, I see what you mean. I would have been upset too if the company had closed down so abruptly!” I said, encouraging him. “Well, it’s okay, we’ll try to earn more!”

“Never mind,” Sergey brushed it off. “If we make at least fifteen thousand a month, I’ll be happy!”

We had barely unloaded when my father returned, looked around the warehouse, and lit a cigarette.

“You got a cigarette?” I said.

“Do you smoke too?” Sergey was surprised.

“Yes, everyone here smokes. Even my mother,” I said sourly. “We’re going to quit. And someone smokes one after the other, right, Dad?”

My father gave me a hurt look, turned away, and slurred over his shoulder:

“I’ll quit smoking faster than you, you’ll see.”

“We’ll see!” I said excitedly and added to Sergey, “Don’t you smoke?”

“No, I don’t, I smoked when I was young. I started when I was sixteen, and I stopped when I was twenty.”

“Wow, great,” I was impressed. “I should quit this shit too, my stomach hurts too much…”

“Yeah, I remember I was the only one in my group to quit. Everyone else kept smoking, and I told myself that I would quit, and I did,” Sergey added. “What’s wrong with your stomach?”

“Gastritis, I guess, I don’t know, it just hurts sometimes,” I brushed it off. “We eat any old how, we’re on wheels all day long. My father used to have gastritis, so I guess I inherited it.”

“Well, are we going to load or what!?” my father interrupted.

“Yes,” I shuddered. “Let’s load up, we’re all relaxed here.”

“Well, what should I do? Help you or what?” Sergey threw up his hands.

“I think you can go,” my father said. “Why should you help us? You brought your goods, now it’s just a matter of papers. We can load it ourselves.”

“I was just thinking, it’s like we’re already together,” Sergey said with a puzzled look on his face. “We can already start selling all the goods through the company.”

“Seryozha!” my father stared at him, clenching his jaw. “But the documents are not ready yet! What are you talking about? Let’s draw up everything first, and then we’ll start working together!”

“Anatoly Vasilievich, I called the organization that registered my company, they had some kind of delay, they said they could not accept the documents now, in two weeks, they said I can bring them. So I thought, why waste two weeks? We can already start working! Why lose money?”

“We are working, Seryoga,” I blurted out. “Our process is not dependent on the date of the merger. If you can’t do it now, fine, we’ll do it in two weeks. It’s no big deal. We’ll still work the same way. And you, suit yourself.”

“Okay, I get it,” he said disappointedly. “You and Anatoly Vasilievich are people of principle and have everything strictly in order.”

“And what did you expect, Seryozha!?” my father got angry. “What’s the point of all this talk. First the documents, then the work. And not the other way around, as you suggest!”

“All right, all right, Anatoly Vasilievich, I get it!” Sergey said humbly. “I will call them tomorrow to find out how it is, and I will let you know.”

“Now we are talking!” my father said and turned to me. “What are we loading?”

I showed him, and we started loading. Sergey hesitated uncomfortably beside us, came closer and began to help, awkwardly handing boxes from the pallet to me and my father. The awkwardness of the situation forced me to continue talking to Sergey on the first topic that came up – I asked him where he lived, heard the answer – not on the way – but I offered him a ride anyway.

“Will we give him a ride to the market, Dad?” I said.

“We will,” he snapped in a metallic tone, not stopping to load the goods.

Half an hour later, we were done. As I closed the gate of the warehouse, I was the last to enter the “GAZelle,” and immediately my shoulders met the square torso that took up almost two-thirds of the seat.

“Seryoga, move!” I said.

“Oh, yes,” he moved, sniffed his nose, wiped the sweat from his brow for the umpteenth time, and put his hand on the panel in front of him to keep his heavy body from the bumps in the road.

As we passed the gatehouse, we left behind the woman as well who stood guard there. The fat woman was smoking and watching our “GAZelle” with a tenacious look through old-fashioned big round glasses with noticeable dioptres. She looked about forty years old.

“Who is this woman? Does she work here?” Sergey asked.

I told him that there are several janitors here, they work in shifts, they don’t get paid, but the janitors collect a bribe from the cars parked at the factory, and that’s how they live.

The “GAZelle” crossed the intersection with a strenuous squeaking of the frame and drove out onto the asphalt.

“It’s strange that you’ve been selling ‘Luxchem’ on the market for so many years, but no one has ever taken it away from you,” Sergey said suddenly, as if he was expressing a thought that was bothering him.

“What do you mean, strange!?” I was surprised. “Why should it be taken away from us!? We sell our goods, others sell theirs. We do not interfere in their goods, they – in ours. We simply have a good relationship with everyone.”

“Treat other people the way you want to be treated, Seryozha!” my father said, without taking his eyes off the road.

“Well, yes,” Sergey said after a noticeable pause, as if surprised. “You have really good relations with everyone. It’s interesting.”

Our conversation with Sergey turned into a regular chat and did not stick in my mind at all. At some point my father joined in and I heard the end of Sergey’s sentence: “Anatoly Vasilievich, your barter goods, how do you sell them after?”

“Seryozha!!!” my father suddenly turned red, the veins in his neck swelled. “I’m telling you for the third time, we will not discuss this subject until the documents are drawn up!!!”

The car rolled briskly down the roundabout, past the huge warehouses of “WholeSale”.

“Why do you keep asking – what and how!!!?” my father slapped his hand on the dashboard right in front of Sergey’s nose. “How stubborn you are!!! You were told – no!!! No means no!!! Which part of it don’t you understand!!!?!?”

I mentally shrank into a ball. A slow, creeping, horrible thought crawled through my brain: “What the hell are you doing!? He’s about to retreat, and that’s it – goodbye ‘Aerosib’!”

“Anatoly Vasilievich, why are you yelling at me?” Sergey said quietly. “I’m not shouting at you, am I?”

“I have my reasons!!” my father stammered, coughing, blood half dripping from his face. “I’m not yelling, I’m explaining to you that you shouldn’t be so stubborn! You were told once – after signing the documents! What more do you want!? No, you keep trying to find out where we are taking our goods! What’s the point of all this!?”

My father coughed harder. I sat quiet as a mouse, waiting every second for Sergey to say something like, “That’s it, let’s get it over with! There will be no merger!”

But to my delight and no less surprise, nothing of the sort happened. Sergey, as before, behaved in a non-confrontational, gentle and compliant manner.

“I’m not wheedling out, as you might think,” he said, showing surprise, incomprehension, even a slight insult. “I already see you and Roma as my partners in the business. In fact, we’ve already merged, we’ve decided to work together, and I’ve already delivered the goods to your warehouse, haven’t I?”

“Seryozha!” my father almost calmed down. “Don’t bullshit me! You can take the goods in and out if you want to. You know that yourself. And verbal oaths and assurances are worthless. When the paperwork is done, we’ll work together. Until then, we’re not. And let’s not talk about it again.”

“Well, if that’s the case, okay,” Sergey got sad and pouted.

We drove on in an uncomfortable silence for a minute. And again I broke it with the same purpose – just so that I wouldn’t lose hope, I told Sergey that we could find another law firm if the one he had called couldn’t process the documents quickly. Grasping the renewed dialog, Sergey immediately agreed, fell silent, and a minute later sniffed his nose and said: “Would you stop right there, please, Anatoly Vasilievich?”

The “GAZelle” changed lanes and stopped at the curb. I jumped out and let Sergey out.

“That’s it! Call us as soon as you get any news!” I said and shook his hand firmly.

“Goodbye, Anatoly Vasilievich,” Sergey said, pulling his hand toward my father.

“Bye, Seryozha,” he replied dryly and with a discreet handshake.

Sergey turned and walked away along the moving cars. I ducked into the cabin and looked at his broad back, his arms dangling in the rhythm of his steps. We moved, lined up to the left, and drove back. I wanted to rebuke my father again for being too harsh, even aggressive, but I dared not, looking at his face. I just said: “Yeah, you did a good job on him.”

“He shouldn’t have sniffed it out!” my father snapped.

We rode in silence for a minute, when my father suddenly said, out of thoughtfulness: “Seryozha is a cunning fellow! Such a quiet and discreet way of snooping around and finding out everything.”

I didn’t argue. I had a similar thought, but it was invisible under a layer of others. I was fixated on the idea of the merger, and no event could disturb my desire to take the step that seemed so important and the only right thing to do.

The “GAZelle” rolled briskly halfway down the road, and we turned off the roundabout to “WholeSale”. I jumped out of the car at the gatehouse, went into the office, marked the waybill, left the building and hurried to the warehouses. When I saw Alexey Semyonovich coming towards me, I immediately broke into a smile. The man aroused only positive emotions in me. As always, he wore a cap, walked with a crooked, extinguished cigarette between his teeth, and smiled mischievously.

We greeted each other warmly. The expediter driver once again defined office female workers and the size of their butts, and then asked me seriously how my father and I were doing. In euphoria, I told him everything as it was – that we were starting a company, joining forces with a man he knew, in general – we were consolidating!

“Wow, that’s news! Congratulations, Roma!” the expediter shook my hand firmly. “And who are you merging with? Who is he!?”

“Alexey Semyonovich, you know him, Sergey from ‘Sasha’!” I said. “‘Sasha’ closed down, you know, but the goods remained, so we decided to merge with him and continue working!”

“Oh, Seryozha, I know him…” the expediter said, thought for a while, lifted his cap and scratched the back of his head. “I know him, the swarthy one, I know Seryozha… Then good luck to you, Roma… It’s a good business… Grow and get bigger! Make a lot of money!”

“Thank you, Alexey Semyonovich!” I shook his hand emotionally and hurried on.


“Ramses, do you want to hear the news?” Vovka made an expression of intrigue.


The two of us walked across the “Pelican” premises from the office to the warehouse. I carried the waybill and the unloading permit, Vovka followed, escaping once again from the boredom of the office.

“Petrovich was kicked the fuck out by Daddy!” Vovka blurted out, looking up at me with his bulging eyes and smiling at me with a deliberately retarded grin.

“Are you serious!?” I was surprised.

“Yeah, totally kicked him the fuck out!” Vovka brushed me off happily and pulled up his jeans. His stomach was in the way. Puffing, Vovka unfastened his hands and the jeans fell back down.

“Why did he do that?”

“Guess! Guess who tipped Daddy off!?” Vovka took a step forward, put his hand on my chest, squinted mischievously, and smiled bloodthirsty.

“Did you shit on Petrovich!?” I said, knowing the answer in advance, but wanting to sweeten Vovka’s ego. It worked.

“I diiiid!!!” he grinned contentedly.

“Who would have any doubt,” I said, approaching the ‘GAZelle’.

With his hands under his hips, my father sat in the driver’s seat, staring straight ahead without blinking. “Like a statue,” I thought. After I handed him the papers, I went into the warehouse.

“You wanna know what I am now!?” Vovka was hanging around.

“You’re a parasite, that’s what you are!” I summarized in a friendly way.

“Hee-hee-hee!” he laughed. “No, I don’t mean that! I’m in Petrovich’s place now, the commercial director! So watch out, all deliveries are now strictly through me! I’m dealing with you, suppliers! You’re going to toe the line! You’ll put all the money right here!”

Vovka tugged at his jeans pocket. I looked at him cautiously and ironically. There is a grain of truth in every joke. Vovka’s jokes contained mostly truth.

“Come on, Ramses, I was only joking!” he backpedaled. “I have a special respect for you!”

During the unloading, Vovka hung around the warehouse with his arms wide spread as if he owned the place, chattering incessantly and playing commander to the storekeepers. Finally we came out again.

“What’s up, bigwigs, are you done? Going home?” Vovka put his shoe, down at heel, on the wheel of the ‘GAZelle’.

“Yes, that’s all for today, I’m already hungry,” I nodded and grinned. “Going out tonight?”

“You bet your butt, Ramses! You ask such stupid questions!”

“At nine in front of the hotel?”

“At eight!” Vovka said.

“The evening is expected to be long?” I laughed.

When we met at the appointed time, we reached the avenue in ten minutes. It was summer, June. The weather was amazing. As we maneuvered through the stream of people, we turned our heads back and forth.

“Wow, what a shape!” I hissed loudly into Vovka’s ear and punched him in the ribs.

Ahead of us walked a girl in a sleeveless white tank top, a mid-thigh denim skirt, white sneakers on her bare feet, and a bag over her shoulder. There was something subtly familiar about the way she moved. I looked closer. She was about one hundred and sixty centimeters tall, her ponytail of blond hair pulled back, and she was slender but shapely. The girl moved easily. Every movement emphasized her femininity. I became interested. We sped up.

It was her! The waitress from “Clear Skies”!

That’s why her movements seemed familiar to me. I was confused, almost stumbling, but I forced myself to say a banal “Hello!”

“Hello,” the girl said playfully, her eyes brightening instantly.

My eyes automatically slid down to her breasts and I forgot what I was going to say next. Vovka grunted and awkwardly pulled up his pants. She watched our confusion for a few seconds with a deep look in her green eyes, and when she understood everything, she laughed out loud. I looked at her as if mesmerized. Her laughter made her even more beautiful. I came to my senses and began to ask the stupidest questions that my mind was capable of at that moment. Vovka mumbled something, too. Finally, I got to the question about the girl’s name.

“Rita,” she said with a relieved, soft laugh.

“Roma,” I introduced myself.

“Vladimir,” Vovka held out his hand gallantly.

“Pleased to meet you!” Rita put her small hand in his.

We walked next to each other for a few dozen meters. I was completely embarrassed, but deciding that it was enough for the first conversation, I hurriedly said goodbye to the girl and pulled Vovka with me in the opposite direction. Rita laughed, waved at us, and walked on. When we were far enough away, I turned and noticed the new confidence in the girl’s movements.

The rest of the evening passed in a normal way. At two in the morning Vovka and I left the club in a state of drunkenness. For a few seconds I breathed the air that was not stuffy because of the heat and the crowd, took out my cigarettes and handed them to Vovka. He shook his head and said that he was “fucking sick of it” and needed to quit smoking. But he immediately took a cigarette out of the pack and lit it. I also lit a cigarette and told him that we had to quit this bad habit after all.

“Yeah, we gotta quit, Ramses. It’s so fucking disgusting! Let’s go!” Vovka waved his hand. “Call that jerk Edik, tell him to wait for us.”

“No answer,” I said after a few rings. “Strange.”

“He’s screwing another passenger somewhere in the bushes,” Vovka said, laughing. “He’s skinny, but his dick is probably knee-long.”

I laughed too. We went to the hotel. There, without meeting Edik, we sat down with another “picker-upper” who said that Edik was taking his final exams and that a construction worker with a diploma would not be moonlighting after them. The guy offered his services and I wrote down his number.


Sergey called me on Monday, June 13 of the following week. He said that everything was sort of settled at that law firm and that we could even submit the documents tomorrow.

On Wednesday, Sergey and I, both in T-shirts and shorts, found ourselves in the office of the law firm. I was still in a state of euphoria. Sergey looked distant, barely noticed my joy, and was sluggish in the dialog. Everything went quickly – Sergey answered the lawyer’s questions by saying that he would sell half of his share in the company for the minimum amount of five thousand rubles. Then he took out a folder with documents and handed it to the girl. She looked at me, and I confirmed that I would buy the share. The next thing was a formality: give me your passports, sign here, stamp here, and pay the fee.

“The documents will be ready in about a week,” the girl summarized, smiling sweetly. “We’ll call you.”

After the routine “thank you,” we both left the office.

“Congratulations!” I smiled and shook Sergey’s hand. “We are partners now!”

“The same to you,” he shook my hand lazily, sighed and rubbed the bag. “Well, let’s go, shall we?”

I nodded. We went outside, exchanged general phrases, and my father walked by the “GAZelle” with a cigarette. When he saw us, he was surprised and said: “That’s it? So soon?”

“Why should it be long?” Sergey muttered. “They will make changes and in a week, they said, we will get the documents. So we can start working now.”

I offered to spend a week choosing and preparing the office. My father agreed.

“Aren’t we going to start working together tomorrow?” Sergey was surprised.

My father said it would just be working together, because we don’t have an office, we’ll have to choose from the premises of the office building, and probably make minimal repairs.

“And what about the goods!?” Sergey said.

“What about them? Standing in the warehouse, what will happen to them? As soon as we solve all the organizational problems, we’ll start working. In the meantime, we have to sell our goods.”

“What do you mean!? I don’t get it!” Upon hearing my father’s answer, Sergey became alarmed. “So you will sell your goods and I will not sell mine, is that it?”

I told him that we had no claim on the goods he had brought, that he could sell them himself and keep the profit for himself, and that all the new supplies would go to the common business.

“Well, that doesn’t seem right,” Sergey was confused.

To make him feel better, I set a date and said that we would work separately until the first of July, and then together.

I looked at Sergey who was hesitating.

“We’ll have a lot to do before the first of July, Seryoga, you’ll see!” I added, saying that in addition to the office issue, we would have to hire a storekeeper and a loader, and me and my father would have to sell the rest of the retail stuff and finish the move from the old warehouse to the new one. “And you probably have some things to do, you said you were running some operations there.”

“I don’t seem to have anything like that,” Sergey said.

“Well, then do something on your own or just rest,” my father summed up.

“How much retail do you have?” Sergey asked, saying that his mother works as a saleswoman for the owner of the retail outlets in the market, and he could offer him our goods.

That kind of help would come in handy.

“Well, all right. I’ll talk to him and let you know what’s what. Anyway, shall we stay in touch or what?” Sergey hurried to end our conversation.

“Why in touch?” my father was surprised. “And the office? What’s the delay? We have to solve the problem with the office! Come to the factory tomorrow morning, we’ll look for premises.”

Sergey thought for a second, then said sourly:

“And what kind of shared taxi goes here?”

I named it and immediately asked: “And you don’t have a car?”

“No, I don’t have a car yet, I sold my ‘Toyota’. I’m thinking of going to the auto market this weekend to look at some cars. In the meantime, I’ll walk.”


The next morning, after walking around the administration building with one of the factory owners, we chose an office – a room on the first floor about seven meters square. The adjoining room for the workers was even smaller, because the only barred window looked like a prison window, and I immediately nicknamed it “the kennel” because it was so cramped.

“Yeah, it’s pretty cramped,” my father said, his head up, staring at the peeling ceiling of the future office. “Just a little renovation and we can get to work.”

“So?” I nodded at Sergey. “What do you think?”

“Well…” he brushed me off reluctantly. “There are no other options.”

“No,” I confirmed.

“Then let’s settle here,” Sergey grimaced.

He rejected the option of repairing the office ourselves. There was a team of workers in the building next door, and we immediately hired them for three thousand.


We didn’t see Sergey for a few days, we were doing our own things – getting the door to the office, moving some of the goods from the old warehouse to the new one, and working on the delivery.

The repairs in the office turned out to be exactly three thousand – a carelessly whitewashed ceiling, haphazardly glued wallpaper, paint-stained windows with dusty panes, a thick brownish-red floor, and a new unpainted door without handles or locks. The three of us entered the room and looked around.

“There’s only one socket,” I said. “It’s not enough. We could use another one.”

“Why not enough?” Sergey wondered.

I explained. My father supported me. Brushing it off, Sergey agreed.

“We also have to make the lock on the door!” said my father.

“Oh, yes! The lock, that’s right!” I perked up and looked around the room again. “Tomorrow morning we’ll take the tools, buy a lock on the way and put it in, right, Dad?”

“We will,” he mumbled grudgingly.

“Is that it?” Sergey asked. “I don’t think there’s anything else to do today.”

“Yes, it looks like that’s all for today. Well!” I looked at him. “See you tomorrow then.”

We went outside, my father and I went to the warehouse, and Sergey went to the bus stop.


The next morning, when my father and I arrived at the factory, Sergey was already walking around the front yard of the office building, his face pensive, his hands behind his back.

“Now we’ll put the lock on, we bought it!” I shook his hand and showed him the bundle in my hand.

The three of us walked into the office.

“Look, Dad, I should take the door off, right?” I said as soon as we were inside.

“Of course you should take it off,” he replied sharply. “Not in the mood,” I realized, and I put my toe under the door, and it came off the hinges easily.

“Let me hold it and you start poking,” I suggested to my father.

Sergey stood next to us. After a few minutes, when the slot for the lock was hollowed out by a third, he said: “Are we going to make the socket today?”

“You can start now,” my father said, not taking his eyes off the work.

I stood with the door between my legs, holding it with my hands.

“Me!?” Sergey was surprised.

“Well, you can call your father,” my father froze in his work and looked at Sergey over his glasses. “I think you two can do it faster.”

“Why call my father!?” he was more surprised.

“Well, I’m making the lock! This one is helping me!” my father pointed his chisel at me. “We make the lock, you make the socket! It will be a joint effort! If you don’t want to invite your father, do it yourself. Will you manage by yourself?”

I understood my father’s position and even agreed with him. But his obvious conflictuality was confusing. My father stared at Sergey over his glasses, waiting for an answer.

“No, I can’t do it myself, I don’t know much about electricity,” he mumbled.

“If you can’t do it yourself, call your father!” my father snapped. “He knows about electricity, I hope! It’s not hard, it’s just one socket.”

“Not hard!?” Sergey got nervous. “There’s no room for a socket, do we have to make a new one!?”

“Well, you’ll make a new one, what’s the big deal!?” my father said and continued to work.

I was silent, watching them both, nervously sensing the tension in the air.

“Let me poke a little,” I suggested, hoping to lower the temperature somehow.

“What are you going to poke here!?” my father snapped, staring at me.

“Well, I’m going to deepen the groove, come on.”

“Here! Poke!” my father roughly handed me the chisel and hammer, scratched his finger under his nose, adjusted his glasses, and stared again at Sergey, who grimaced unhappily.

“Let’s go, Seryoga, to the warehouse, let’s get a table and a chair,” I said when the door was ready, taking him away from the ripening conflict. Sergey agreed in silence.

We walked halfway before he said with a sigh:

“Oh, dear… Anatoly Vasilievich has quite a temper…”

“Yes, my father’s character is difficult,” I nodded and added. “I’ll give you that!”

After getting a table and chair from the old warehouse, we went back.

On Friday morning, June 24, we were with Sergey again in the office of the law firm, signed the documents, and the folder with them went into Sergey’s bag.

“Well, should I have them or what?” he said.

“Yes, of course,” I thought. “Leave them at home, what’s the difference! Let you have it!”

From that moment on, there were officially two owners with equal shares in the company.

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