Day of the Equinox, the first day of Autumn. Birmingham Library, ground floor café. A table by the window. 15:25-15:45.
“To have one best friend. The concept- I can’t do it.” ‘You’ll always be my best friend, there is no question.’
“She has shrunk in size, physically shrunk; become a waif of a person.”
(Broken, stilted English from a native speaker, in consideration for his Russian female friend):
“Tea no good, machine broken. ‘Miss Saigon’…. I don’t know why my legs are so tired. In Russia? On Saturday, tomorrow night, great dancing on the television- AND we have Russian dancers!!! I will record it, tomorrow is first show. Remember the bomb in London last week? Another man, seventeen years old… This is Mexico: earthquake. Strong wind in the Caribbean; Puerto Rico.”
A short silence.
“When we finish drink, we take lift…high.”
Another pause. Silence.
“Oldest lady in the World lives in the Ukraine. She is one hundred and seventeen. His wife died ten years ago- he was thrilled!! Champagne!!! Many Russian ladies in Leamington Spa. We have come from India….other countries, not Russia.”
“Somehow, you find a way.”
“Teacher, murdered. Terrible. Tragic, tragic- a tragedy. This is her book, the lady. Only forty-three years old: very young lady. Katya. Any messages? I see wind, ice-cold. Lady and man in trouble, having sex in shop. Near Whitby!! Scarborough.”
“I want you to know that, or I would never have a chance to be your best friend, to share…”
“Too much drink. Alcohol.”
(They get up and leave, he talks to the woman in the café):
“My tea was very good, by the way. I say a good thing is worth waiting for.”