An Angel, Who Fell Out Of Heaven

Варис ЕЛЧИЕВ | Проза


An Angel, Who Fell Out Of Heaven

(A screenplay)


A dawn breaks over a city. A cleansing truck passes down a street, splashing the asphalt. The street’s pavements become filled with people. In a close-up, we see an old, bespectacled man (the Professor). He is wearing a suit and a tie, a beret on his head. The man is in a hurry.

A summer cafe. An employee appears behind the cafe’s large windows, then starts taking tables and chairs out onto the pavement. Another cafe employee proceeds to dust them off with a rag. The Professor walks up to the two men. «Good morning,» he says. «Ooh, Professor, good morning,» — responds the one wiping the dust. «How are you?» asks the second employee, smiling. «I’m fine, thank you «, the Professor replies. The dust-removing man then asks another question: «Are you still having those dreams about an angel perching on your shoulder?». The Professor nods his head and, giving the dust-cloth man a guilty look, asks: «Can I come in to get changed?». The man throws the rag on the table and, straightening himself, answers: «Why such formality? You’ve been told a hundred times already — this cafe is yours. You can come in or out whenever you please».

The Professor goes inside, enters one of the utility rooms, takes off his suit and puts on work clothes. Then, he takes a broom, a scoop and a plastic bag and heads out of the cafe again. He walks past the two cafe workers at the entrance, then reaches the adjacent street and starts sweeping. He does his work very thoroughly — moving ahead, stopping and retracing his steps to pick up some small piece of rubbish or a burned-up matchstick. He picks up a trash bag that someone’s left behind on a street corner and expresses his displeasure, turning to face the windows of a nearby block of flats: «Why can’t you lot be bothered to use dumpsters? After all — janitors are people, too! Why are you so disrespectful of our labor?..». He then grows embarrassed of his own words, muttering: «Some janitor I am…». Two young men are walking along the pavement. As they pass the Professor, they give him close looks. The Professor turns away…

…Back at the summer cafe with the large glass windows. Customers are sitting behind the tables. Some of them are drinking tea, others — coffee. The Professor walks over to the far corner of the cafe and washes himself under a tap. Then, he goes to the room where he’s left his clothes, changes back into his suit and dons the tie. As he comes out of the cafe, one of the employees smiles at him, while the other says: «Can I ask you — the angels that sit on your shoulders, do they have wings?». The Professor beams at him and replies: «Are there any other kind?»

..A bus stop. A bus pulls up. Along with the others, the Professor climbs aboard. As he looks over his fellow passengers, his mobile beeps with a new message. He begins to read: «Every day, you leave the house at dawn. I can’t understand what possible business you might have at the University at such hours. I’m beginning to grow suspicious. Perhaps, you’ve got another woman that you keep running off to? Yesterday, I told you that our soon wants to go to his friend’s birthday party and that we need to buy a decent present. Have you left me the money for the present? No!.. We still haven’t bought our daughter’s dowry, either. Whatever are you thinking of? The groom’s family tells us to hurry up — they can’t wait forever!». Sighing, the Professor puts the phone back into his pocket.

He gets off the bus at the next stop. We see him walk into the university lobby, having passed through a boiling crowd of students assembled at the entrance. He heads for the elevator, exchanging greetings with a few acquaintances along the way, gets to the first floor and enters a lecture room. The Professor’s entrance puts a stop to the students’ noisemaking. Standing at the blackboard, he begins his lecture: «Our subject today is transfer over large distances of amplitude of oscillations of minor effects that don’t fall into rhythm during resonance. Let’s turn our attention to such a mysterious phenomenon as the destruction of the Jericho Temple during a prayer service, a phenomenon which is also mentioned in the Bible. In reality, this unique event occurred as a result of infrasound consonance between the wind instruments and the main part of the vocal range of the temple’s congregation. In other words — it was caused by resonance…»

As he delivers his lecture, the Professor moves his gaze from one student to another. Suddenly, he notices that one of the girls in the upper row is lying with her head on the table. He interrupts what he was saying and asks the student: «Hey, why aren’t you paying attention to the lesson?». The girl doesn’t move. Then, the Professor gestures to the girl’s desk neighbor, implying that he should have a word with her. The lad brushes the girl’s hand and whispers to her that she’s being addressed by the teacher. With a start, the girl lifts her tear-stained face: «I’m sorry. Please, forgive me». The Professor continues: «And, do any of you know the reason for the sudden collapse of the Egyptian Bridge in St. Petersburg? No? As a squadron of cavalry was riding over it, a resonance occurred due to the merging of the synchronous thudding of the well-trained horses’ hooves and the internal oscillations of the bridge. That’s what caused the bridge to fall down…»

He is once again interrupted by sobbing, coming from that same female student: «Professor, please — can I leave?!». Having received permission, the girl quickly heads for the exit. As she passes by, the Professor asks: «Has something happened?». «No, nothing.. I’m sorry,» — she says and leaves the auditorium.


The girl walks out into the corridor and stands by the window, continuing to cry. Then, she takes out her phone and dials a number: «Swear that you’re telling the truth!». On the other end, a woman’s voice is audible: «I’ll swear to whatever you want. Quit indulging in illusions. This hairdresser of yours, this scumbag — he’s cheating on you. Yes, a scumbag! How else can you call a man who cheats on his girlfriend with a woman who is 15 years older than her?!». «I don’t believe you, this can’t be true!», the student says and rings off. She walks out into the university courtyard and sits on a bench. She looks around, notices couples sharing tender moments and starts to cry in earnest. Dialing the same number again, she asks: «Can you prove the things you’ve said?». The woman replies: «Come meet me at the Book Arcade, I’ll show you where she lives. They make love until late in the night and then sleep till noon». The girl shouts: «That’s disgusting! I hate him!»

… She gets out on the street, dissolving into the crowd. Upon reaching the Book Arcade, she stops by some book stalls where a brisk trade is going on. The girl looks around her, studying the shoppers. Soon, she is joined by the woman she’s been on the phone with. The woman attempts to talk some sense into her: «You’re such a beautiful girl! Why don’t you break up with this bastard?! I’m your aunt and I don’t want you ruining your life!». The student sobs: «I can’t force my heart to forget him. Can’t you understand — I love him. I’ve never been in love before. First love grows into your heart — you can’t just tear it out. It’ll be painful…»

The two women are riding the subway. The girl sobs quietly. Her aunt tries to comfort her: «You shouldn’t torment yourself so. Look at yourself — you’re in an awful state! Call that a hairdo? When was the last time you’ve been to a styling salon?». They get off the train and up an escalator. Next, we see them walking down the street, turning into a courtyard. The woman points her finger at an apartment building: «That blue balcony over there. She’s well-to-do. Your bastard of a boyfriend is as good at being a Don Juan as he is at cutting hair». Tearful, the girl shows an inclination to move forward: «I’m going to prise open the door and storm her flat!». The woman stops her: «For one thing, you won’t get into the flat. Also, you might get arrested for disorderly conduct». The girl begins to scream: «How else can I find out for sure whether he sleeps with this bitch?!». Her aunt calms her down: «Don’t be rash!»

The two women wait. From time to time, the building’s residents walk past — some of them throwing surprised glances at the pair. Kids play noisily in the courtyard. We see a boy take a doll from a girl and run away. Crying loudly, the little one chases after him… The student begins to sob again: «If you only knew, how the two of us dreamed of having children». Her aunt comforts her: «He is not the right match for a girl like you. You’ve got your university studies, a wonderful career ahead of you. Surely, you’ll meet a man worthy of your attention. Don’t waste your nerves on this slimeball». The two continue to stand and wait. The woman says: «I haven’t eaten anything since morning. I’d better go buy myself something…». She leaves and soon returns with a roll and a packet of juice. Finally, the curtains in the balcony window part and a blond-haired woman appears. The student looks on with bated breath. A young man comes up behind the woman and starts caressing her neck. At this point, the girl breaks down and covers her face with her hands. «I’m going to kill them!» she shouts and, with a bellowing cry, charges towards the apartment building. Her aunt puts away her food and runs after her. She manages to catch up with the girl right before the entrance and locks her into an embrace. The girl pounds her aunt’s shoulders with her fists. Having calmed down, she, without uttering a word, steps away from her and leaves the courtyard with quick steps. The aunt calls after her, but the girl does not respond. We see the girl walking down the street, brushing the passers-by. Eventually, she enters a building and stops in front of one of the apartment doors. With trembling hands, she gets the keys from her bag, opens the door and walks in. She enters one of the rooms and begins rummaging in the wardrobe. Going through the shelves, she takes out a photo album. Sobbing, she begins to tear to shreds all the photographs featuring her boyfriend. Then, she grabs a large teddy bear with a heart-shaped pendant saying «To my One and Only. Happy Valentine’s Day» hanging from its neck and proceeds to tear off the toy’s limbs. Her hands still trembling, she walks into the kitchen, pours herself some water and swallows a couple of pills. Then, she removes the bedsheet from her bed, leaves the apartment and uses the stairs to climb into the attic. She gets up on the windowsill and begins to tie the sheet to a pipe that runs along the ceiling. Picking up a stick, she pushes the knot forward. After that, the girl walks over to a pile of bricks in the corner of the attic and tries to pick up several bricks at once, intent on using them as a footrest… The bricks slip from her grasp and scatter on the floor.

«What are you doing here?» someone asks in a loud voice. We see a tall young man entering the attic. He is about 25-26 years old, athletically built; a valise in his hand. The girl feels lost for words: «Nothing.. I…». The man notices the hanging bedsheet rope with a noose on its end and sighs: «So, you’re thinking of killing yourself?». The girl lowers her head. The young man walks over and stands next to her: «I’m not asking why you’ve decided to settle scores with life. Although, these days, girls mostly commit suicide because of infidelity of their sweethearts».

Brushing the brick dust from the girl’s clothes, the young man continues: «Believe me — revenge should be exacted through life, not death!». He produces from his pocket a small water bottle and hands it to the girl. She takes a few gulps and says: «Thank you». The man inquires: «Are you working or studying?». When the girl replies that she is a student, he asks: «What’s your major?». The girl answers: «Physics». «Oh… Physics…,» the young man muses. «Back at school, I used to find this subject somehow mysterious. Though the essence of it is still not particularly clear to me, one thing I’ve learned distinctly: people are studying logical patterns present in nature. At the same time, human nature itself is devoid of such patterns. A human being is the most spontaneous creature in existence». The girl listens to the young man avidly, then quietly heads towards the exit.


After the girl leaves, the young man remains still for some time — unable to tear his gaze from the exit door. Then, sighing deeply, he says: «Amazing. I’ve just done something I’ve never done before — saved someone’s life». He walks over to the attic window and looks out at the house across the street. Then, he puts his valise on the floor and takes out a sniper tripod. He inspects it, dusts it off with a rag and attaches an optical device on top of it. Having opened the window, he props his sniper rifle against the wall and slides the attic door bolt shut. The man’s cell phone rings. A husky male voice asks: «Are you there?». «Yes, I’m in place,» says the young man. The man on the phone continues: «To tell the truth, our current client is no better than this bastard he’s paid us to deal with. The two of them used to be business partners, until they swindled each other. But, none of this matters to us. We’ve got to perform our part of the bargain. We’re told to kill, so — we’ll kill. Do you remember our rules? Concentration, composure and total indifference to the surroundings. Good luck!». The call ends. The young man takes a swig from his water bottle and looks out of the window at the passers-by below. He sees an elderly woman carrying a basket; a schoolboy with a satchel on his back; a young blonde woman. The cell phone rings again. The man with the husky voice asks: «You’re not getting nervous, by any chance?». «No,» the young man replies. The man continues: «You’ll reach your first nice round number today. This scumbag is going to become your fifth job. In our line of work, such a score still means infancy. But, by the time you become a true master, like me — you’ll lose count of the jobs you’ve done». The young man sighs. The older man goes on: «It’s a good thing that this quagmire hasn’t sucked you down completely. There are still some clean patches in your soul. You still call yourself a sniper, not a hitman. By the way, do you know the story of the origin of the word ‘sniper’?». «No,» the young man answers. The older man explains: «During wintertime, remarkable birds come to the swamplands of England. They’re called snipes. These birds are about 25 centimeters in length and have greyish-black colored feathers. They are very cautious, and can sense approaching hunters from 200 meters away. You see, these snipes are considered the hardest targets of all — few people can lay claim to having bagged such a trophy. In the 19th century, British hunters coined the verb ‘to snipe’, that is — to shoot snipes. And that’s where the noun ‘sniper’ came from». The older man rings off. The young man remains motionless for some time, continuing to look at the entrance of the building opposite the window. He sees an elderly couple walking past. A scene from his last stay at his parents’ flashes before his eyes: as she serves lunch, his mother pauses to stroke his hair. She praises the neighbors’ daughter she wants him to marry. His father puts a bottle of homemade mulberry wine on the table. As the two taste the wine, the son talks on the subject of his father’s health. «Soon, I’ll start earning enough to fully pay for your operation,» says the young man. His father asks: «Why aren’t you telling us anything about this new job you’ve found?». The young man replies: «I’m working for a secret security detachment…».

The young man drinks some more water, then looks at his watch. Having done that, he reaches into his pocket, takes out a photograph and studies it. The photo portrays a middle-aged man. «Right now, does he in the least surmise that his life is going to end in about half an hours time?», thinks the sniper. Then, he hides the rifle on top of the water pipe that runs along the ceiling and leaves the attic. He goes down the stairs and out of the apartment building, throwing a careful glance at the first entrance of the building across the street. He crosses the street to approach the entrance. As he does so, he counts his steps, mouthing the resulting number to himself quietly. After that, he returns to the attic again. As his gaze falls on the hanging bedsheet rope, the girl who’d nearly settled scores with life appears before his mind’s eye. The young man sighs deeply: «She is so beautiful. Her captivating eyes can drown a man in their depths». He pulls down the bedsheet and inhales it’s scent. Then, he takes out his mobile, dials a number and says: «Can you imagine — I saved a girl’s life a few minutes ago. She is young and beautiful, a student studying Physics». The man with the husky voice asks: «I don’t get it — aren’t you in position right now?». The young man replies: «I am. But, when I just came here, I saw a girl who was about to hang herself with a bedsheet. I rescued her». The man on the phone turns ironic: «Usually, our job is to kill. Rescue does not fit with our professional activities». The young man continues: «I’m experiencing amazing feelings right now. You know, she has the most spellbinding eyes. When I think that I saved such beauty from closing shut forever, I feel a sense of immense pride». «Okay, do your job and don’t get distracted. You’re not getting paid for daydreaming,» the older man says. The young man looks at the phone in exasperation, then puts it away. He looks at his watch and, once again, stares out of the window. Taking hold of his rifle, he primes it for firing. A white sedan approaches the building across the street and pulls up by it’s first entrance. The sniper quickly readies his weapon and takes aim at the car’s rear section. A tall young man wearing dark glasses climbs out of one of the car’s front doors, walks to the back of the car and opens one of it’s rear doors. A second man emerges from the car. He is middle-aged, dressed in a black suit and tie, a briefcase in his hand. The young man now has his victim’s face in the crosshairs. He intends to pull the trigger. But — his hands are shaking. Beads of sweat roll down his face. «What are you waiting for? Come on, shoot!», he orders himself, but the shot never comes. The man with the briefcase enters the building.

The young man throws the rifle aside and sits down on the floor. His mobile rings unceasingly.


Following his bodyguard, the man with the briefcase enters the building. «Boss, am I free to go?», asks the bodyguard. «Yes,» says the man, then watches him leave. After that, he walks down the corridor, enters the living room, sits down in an armchair, picks up the remote and starts switching the channels. An elderly woman wearing an apron walks in and asks: «Will you be having lunch?». He glances in her direction and inquires: «What have you got?». The maid replies: «I’ve prepared your favorite — veal languette and pasta. I’ve also made soup». «I’ll have the languette. But first, bring me some tea», says the man and continues switching the channels.

A luxurious room. Along one wall is a built-in fireplace; the other side of the room is highlighted by an antique clock with a huge pendulum. The room also features several near- human height vases. Expensive works of art adorn the walls.

Turning his head towards the sideroom, the man calls: «Sarah, Sarah!». A woman in a silk robe appears, stands in the doorway and utters: «I’m listening». The man throws a frown at her: «Your husband has come home from work — why aren’t you giving him a warm welcome? Does it matter to you at all whether I’m here or away?!». The woman doesn’t reply. The man gets up and walks right up to her: «I just can’t understand your attitude towards me. I’ve bought you so many diamond sets you’ve already lost count of them. Of fur coats alone, you’ve got seven or more. Less than a month ago, I bought you yet another new car. Tell me, what else must I do?!»

The maid enters, carrying a tray of tea. Upon seeing her, the man falls silent. The maid puts the tea on the coffee table and leaves. The man starts waving his hands about: «The money that you spend in a month on makeup, spa treatments, gyms and perfumes — it’s enough to support several families, don’t you know!». The woman pushes his hand away: «Stop this shouting! Are you trying to poke my eye out?». She wants to retire to another room, but he blocks her way: «I maintain all of your relatives! Do you know what another, more grateful woman would do in your place?! Huh?! Do you?!». «Well?», asks the wife in an ironic voice. «She’d wash her husband’s feet every evening, and then she’d reverently drink up the dirty water!» shouts the man, enraged. Also filled with rage, the woman covers her face with her hands and begins to cry: «I’m so tired. I can’t bear this any more. Oh, God, give me patience!».

The maid appears again, a tray in her hand: «I’ve brought your lunch,» she says, puts the plates on the table and leaves. At that moment, the man’s phone rings. As he answers the call, his wife seizes the opportunity to vacate the room. «What’s the matter? Come on, out with it!» the man utters. The voice on the phone is heard saying: «The workers are demanding to be paid. They say that they haven’t brought any money home for three months in a row. Their children are going hungry». The man shouts: «Their kids are going hungry? To hell with them. If they’ve managed to last this far, they can wait a little longer». He throws the mobile in the armchair, opens the door and enters the sideroom. His wife is lying on the bed face down, crying. He roughly flips her on her back: «Tell me, what more do you want?! What else do you want me to get you?!». After a short pause, the woman begins to speak bitterly: «When will you stop treating me like a thing? I’m a human being, I have my own feelings, my own insecurities. You come and go when you please. Often, you remain absent for weeks. When was the last time you stroked my hair? Can you remember?». The man begins to laugh: «So, that’s what it’s all about? Turns out, you happen to be upset because your hair needs stroking». He roughly brushes his hand through her locks: «There you go, I’ve done it!». The woman moves her head away and starts to cry: «I’m so unhappy. You don’t even remember the dates of our important family occasions!». The man yells: «You’re unbelievably ungrateful! Curse you!»

As he leaves the apartment, the maid says to him: «You haven’t eaten anything. Where are you going on an empty stomach?». «To the devils!» the man replies. He hurries down the stairs and climbs into his jeep, which is parked in the courtyard. He starts the engine and switches on the stereo. Instrumental music fills the car’s interior. We see the man driving the car, nodding his head to the music.

..An Oriental massage parlor. As the man enters, the girl at the reception says: «Have you booked in advance? We’re full today». «I never book in advance,» he answers sharply, then proceeds down a smoke-clouded corridor, opens a door and walks in. A white cat runs up to him and rubs against his legs. «There you go, kitty», the man says. «You went on and spoiled my trousers yet again!».

A middle-aged, white gown-wearing parlor employee is busy massaging a client. Upon noticing the man enter, he wipes the cream off his hands with a rag and approaches him, saying: «You’re somewhat unexpected. You should have warned me beforehand». With a sigh, the man replies: «It just happened that way». Pointing to his current client, the therapist says: «I’m almost done», and goes off to resume his work.

The man settles down on a sofa, takes a magazine and leafs through it. Then, his attention is attracted by the cat who sits at the entrance. A bowl of food stands on the floor nearby, but the cat keeps ignoring it. «Why doesn’t she touch it? It’s the first time in my life that I see a cat just sit in front of a pile of food, instead of munching it up…». The therapist explains: «Yesterday, I insulted her. Pushed her aside with my foot. As you can see, she is holding a grudge now — so much so, that she even refuses to eat out of my hands. You know, sometimes we get preoccupied with the material side of things, failing to see the significance of spirituality…»

Amazed, the man listens to the therapist telling his story. Meanwhile, the latter finishes his work and, slapping his client on the back, throws: «We’re done. Get up!». The client climbs off the massaging table and rubs his back with a towel. Having put on his dressing gown, he walks past the newcomer and leaves the room. «That young man is a great car mechanic. A true virtuoso. It’s a pity that he’s already got osteochondrosis», the therapist says, looking after him.

The cat walks up to the man and rubs against his legs again…


The car mechanic comes out of the parlor, proceeds to the shower room and washes himself. Then he gets dressed and comes out. With quick steps, he gets to his jalopy of a car, climbs inside and starts the engine. Checking his mobile, he opens an SMS and reads: «Sorry, but I just can’t go to the country with you tomorrow.»

He drives his car along a crowded street, navigating heavy traffic, then pulls up by his auto repair shop. Having opened an iron gate, he comes in and greets a young lad — his apprentice. Then, he dons his overalls. On one wall of the garage, there hangs a large photograph of the footballer Messi, on the other — a photograph of Ronaldo. The mechanic presses his finger to his apprentice’s nose and says loudly: «Messi». The young man jerks his head away and shouts: «Ronaldo!». The mechanic laughs, then proceeds to drive his jalopy on top of the service pit. He climbs under the car and begins to repair it. The young man says: «That guy came again. He says that he, himself, is a nobody. It’s his boss who’s set the deadline for us to leave the premises until the end of the month». Twisting something with a wrench, the mechanic shouts: «Does he realize that my work here feeds a family of six? What would happen to them?!». The lad shrugs: «I don’t know. He said: ‘I don’t make the decisions, it’s my boss’ order'». The mechanic takes a deep breath and mumbles: «Screw you, and your boss!»

Someone signals outside. The young man calls his mentor: «Come here, look what client has just arrived!». The mechanic climbs out of the pit and sees a latest model Mercedes being towed by an evacuation truck. The car is glistening all over. The owner spreads his hands in exasperation and says angrily: «It just stopped dead for no apparent reasons. I had to call the evacuators and asked them to take me to the nearest repair shop. So, they’ve towed me here». The mechanic instructs the evacuation truck driver to lower the Mercedes to the ground. With a bit of effort from everyone present, the car is pushed into the repair garage. As the mechanic inspects the vehicle’s interior, his attention is attracted by an expensive suit hanging over the back seat. Then, he opens the hood and, having fiddled with the engine a little, says: «It’ll take somewhere around three hours». The owner of the luxury car hails a taxi and leaves. So do the evacuators. After they depart, the mechanic disassembles the dashboard under the panel. While he does this, the apprentice inspects the car, not hiding his admiration.

The mechanic gets behind the wheel and starts the car. «You’ve fixed it in just five minutes. Why did you say you needed three hours, then?», asks the apprentice in surprise. His mentor claps him on the shoulder: «You go take apart the gearbox on that old clunker, then grease it well. And — don’t poke your nose in the affairs of grown-ups». After that, he pulls out his mobile and dials a number: «Listen, where can I find your boss?». The man on the other end says: «Haven’t I told you already — you must vacate the premises. There is nothing more to talk about here». The mechanic interrupts him: «I said, where can I find your boss?!». The man answers: «The boss doesn’t want to meet with you». The mechanic insists: «Listen, it’s not me who wants to meet with him, it’s another big boss». «Who are you talking about?», asks the man. «Who am I talking about?», replies the mechanic, «My own brother. Do as I say, if you don’t want to land yourself in trouble.»

Soon, an SMS arrives on the mechanic’s phone. He promptly reads the address contained in the message. In a hurry, he goes to the bathroom and shaves. Then, he takes the expensive suit from the back seat of the Mercedes, goes to the changing room and puts it on. For a few seconds, he stands before the mirror, admiring his appearance. Next, he returns to the working area, opens the Mercedes’ glove compartment, procures a bottle of exclusive cologne and sprinkles himself. He also puts on dark glasses. Having said farewell to his apprentice, who stands rooted to the spot in surprise, he revs up the luxury car and drives out of the garage. Soon after, he arrives at the address given in the text message. He whispers something into a security guard’s ear and the man raises the barrier, allowing the car to drive into a courtyard. The mechanic enters a building, climbs the stairs to the first floor and ends up in a waiting room. Aside from him, there are four people in the room. He whispers a few words to the secretary. The woman enters the office and quickly comes out again, saying that the boss is waiting. As the mechanic enters the office, an obese man quickly gets up from behind the desk, walks up to him and shakes the newcomer’s hand with both of his. The fat man inhales the smell of the mechanic’s cologne, takes a close look at his suit and glances at his car, visible outside the window. The mechanic begins to speak in an imposing manner: «My brother is working at a car repair shop that’s situated on your property. He didn’t manage to get proper education, but — he can work miracles with his hands. He earns his bread by honest labor — one that brings profits to you, as well. And now your people want to force him from the premises. Even though I have a very busy schedule, I somehow managed to set aside a couple of hours to settle this matter. I want you to sign a long-term lease agreement with my brother». «Excuse me, but — where do you work?», asks the fat man. «Let it be a secret,» replies the mechanic.

The fat man calls his secretary, instructs her to quickly prepare some documents, signs them and hands the papers over to the mechanic. The latter takes the documents and leaves. He passes through the waiting room, accompanied by the surprised stares from everyone present. He gets into the car and starts the engine. A look of satisfaction on his face, he presses on the gas pedal. As the car leaves the courtyard, the mechanic takes out his mobile and snaps two photos — one of the speedometer readings, the other — of himself behind the wheel. Then, he glances at his watch and turns the car around, heading in the direction of the ballet school. At the ballet school, the mechanic opens a classroom door and walks in. Inside, a young teacher is conducting a lesson for small children. With a gesture, he beckons her over. They begin talking. The young woman can’t hide her admiration for the new suit her boyfriend is wearing. She inquires whether he has won some money in a lottery. When it comes time to say goodbye, the mechanic arranges things so as to make the girl come outside to see him off. When she sees what car he climbs into, her eyes grow round with astonishment.

Soon, a message arrives on the mechanic’s phone: «Darling, what time tomorrow is our trip to the countryside? I’ll be ready!». He finally arrives back at the garage and changes into his overalls. As he shows the signed contract to the apprentice, the lad cries «Yes!» and hugs his mentor. Then, the mechanic throws a glance at the photos of Messi and Ronaldo and shouts: «Messi!». This time, the young man utters the name of the second footballer in hushed tones.

His spirits running high, the mechanic leaves his workplace and walks out on the street. At the entrance to the subway, he sees a young migrant playing an Oriental string instrument. The mechanic stops, entranced by the music, then produces a large banknote and hands it to the performer. The migrant thanks him, kisses the banknote and presses it to his eyes, saying: «No one’s ever given me such money before». «I’m in a good mood today! Spend it at your leisure,» says the mechanic and walks away.


There is another young man standing next to the performer. As the migrant continues playing, passers-by stop to listen, forming a small crowd around him and throwing money at his feet. When the music stops, one elderly man asks: «What kind of instrument is this?». The migrant replies: «It’s called ‘rubab’. I’m from Syria. This is our national instrument». The man says: «I had no idea that you have such beautiful music».

The migrant begins to play a new melody. The second young man with the overgrown facial hair starts to sing mugham in a mournful voice. People continue to throw the two of them money. The elderly man says again: «Such spellbinding singing! What is this music?». The migrant replies: «This brother is from Karabakh. His life has been touched by war, too. As for the song he’s singing — it’s called ‘mugham’ «.

The sun begins to set. The migrant gathers the money and gives some of it to the other young man, then puts the instrument in its case and leaves the subway entrance. Some time later, he comes to a house. The house is populated by Syrians. One of them is holding a speech: «The latest events show that the situation is hopeless. Everything got out of control. If we want to survive and make sure that our children have tragedy-free lives, we must make our home here…». The room is filled with cigarette smoke. The migrant greets one of his fellow countrymen, asks him how his things are going, and then inquires: «Who is this person making the speech? It’s the first time that I see him». He is answered that the man is from Aleppo; that he only arrived yesterday. Meanwhile, the orator continues to speak. The migrant waves his hand to dissipate the cigarette smoke and leaves the room. He walks down the street and enters a store. Having bought some bread and milk, he comes out again and gets into the doorway of a nearby building. He rings the doorbell of one of the apartments. A woman opens the door. The migrant kisses her on the cheek. A little girl of about four, wearing a long white dress, runs up to him. He takes her in his arms and goes into the living room. Packed boxes and stacks of bedding stand on the floor along one of the room’s walls. The migrant says to his wife: «I’ve heard on the news, American general Stewart says that Assad’s power has strengthened thanks to the Russians. They will soon take control of Aleppo and Idlib». The wife sighs: «And when will this war end? Have they told anything about that?». The migrant also sighs and replies: «The end to this war is not yet in sight». They sit down at the table to a dinner of rice. The migrant tells of his unexpectedly high earnings of the day; about the man who was in good spirits and gave him a large banknote. After the dinner is over, he sits down on the floor and starts playing with his daughter. «It’s nice here,» says the wife, «We’re in the heart of Europe. But — we’ve got financial problems. If only we could save up enough money, we could lease some cafe. Your rubab playing alone isn’t enough for us to pull through. The husband sighs: «I think that, sooner or later, this war will end and we will be able to return home. Do you know what bothers me the most? When we were leaving, we should have taken our potted aloe plant with us. True, we had other things to worry about, but — the poor thing is probably drying out without water and cursing us». A little later, he says to himself: «All deserted houses need someone to water the flowers and wind the clocks».

The doorbell rings. The woman goes to the door: «I’ll open it». A few moments later, she calls her husband: «There’s a man out there asking for you». The migrant comes over and begins pulling the guest into the flat: «Come on in, will you! Have you brought it?». «Yes,» replies the guest, showing him a small sack. «Well done,» says the migrant and gives the man some banknotes. Then, he takes the sack, returns to the living room, opens it, pulls out a handful of earth and brings it to his nostrils, inhaling the scent. «What kind of earth is it that you buy it for money?», asks the wife, surprised. «It’s the earth of our homeland. Dealers bring it over and sell it here,» says the husband. The wife looks perplexed: «What do you need it for?». «I’ve bought it for our daughter», replies the husband. He pours the earth onto a piece of tarpaulin, on which the girl is playing with her toys. «My grandfather always said: those who move far away from the earth of their homeland are likely to grow sickly. Don’t you see how often our child gets ill? From now on, let her play on her native soil».

The wife expresses her dissatisfaction: «What kind of nonsense is that? Haven’t you got better things to spend money on? Look how many problems we have!». The migrant kisses her on the cheek: «All will be well. As long as we have a roof over our heads, and we are not going hungry — all is well. So many people died over there. So many people drowned in the sea while trying to escape those burned-out ruins. Think about that».

Sitting on the earth-covered tarpaulin, the girl plays with her toys, one of which is a doll resembling an angel. Holding the doll by its wings and laughing, she moves it back and forth in the air. The father gets to his knees beside his daughter and joins in the game. Then, he puts his head to the floor and rubs his face in the earth he’s just sprinkled there.


Early in the morning. The streets are nearly deserted, with only a few pedestrians visible here and there. His broom in his hand, the Professor is sweeping the sidewalks. A little girl wearing a long white dress is looking out of an open window, holding a doll that resembles an angel. As the Professor passes underneath the window, she drops her doll. The doll lands on the Professor’s shoulder, then descends to the ground. The Professor picks up the angel and, with tears in his eyes, admires it for a long time.

About the author:

Varis Elchiev was born in the city of Sumgait, in the Republic of Azerbaijan. He has received higher education, having graduated from the Baku State University (Faculty of Philology). Mr Elchiev is a member of both the Azerbaijani and the Russian Writers’ Unions and a candidate member of the International Writers’ Union. His awards include the Azerbaijani Government’s Highest Literary Award (the «Golden Word») and the Eurasian Literary Association Award. The Winner Of The Moscow Literary Prize.

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