You will laugh, but I was born in Odessa. I am silent for everything else, but they often ask me: "Are you a Jew?" “No,” I reply sadly, “unfortunately not. I am a strange mixture of Poles, Germans, Ukrainians, and Russians. But I was born in Odessa, is that not suitable for you?”
     I was born at the 16th station of the fountain, where the sea is still relatively clean. (Just don’t ask about what - I’m afraid you won’t like what you hear in return) And there I learned what a real Odessa citizen is. "How is Zhvanetsky?" - you say, and still be wrong. Mishanka, of course, was born in Odessa, but he got out of there because he was poorly fed. Where did you see the well-fed Odessa? I’m kind of funny at you.
     No, Uncle Misha and I rushed to the place where we were cared for, where there was more red ribe and fewer smiles. And if they tell me that I am from Odessa, I honestly answer: "You misunderstood me. I was just born there. But this is also worth something ..."
     Like any abnormal, I was always drawn with unstoppable force to those places where I come from. And one day I did leave, leaving my wife (I was still married then), affairs, important meetings, and everything that made me postpone my trip for another month. I got on the first train I got, spat on the Moscow platform, slippery from the rain, and drove off.
     - Home? the conductor asked me.
     “Home,” I agreed easily.
     And he remembered the joke:
     "At the Odessa train station, a fat aunt with suitcases sticks out at the door of an arriving train and shouts:
     "Carrier !!! Pothaskun !!! Come here, you'll have me first!" "
     "True, this is a joke to you, but in Odessa this is life.
     Almost for the first time in my life I went to NE. You did not go to NE? Then you do not understand me. Stop reading immediately. And, by the way, read it once.
     My neighbor was a hoarse girl who scolded Moscow with its ticket offices in which tickets are only for general and CB, Moscow prices, pestering # #% of new Caucasians and me. The girl, as I later learned, was called Masha and she went to the capital to sell the nuts collected from her grandmother in a village near Razdelnaya. Now, Masha, tired of waiting at the box office for at least a reserved seat, was traveling to Odessa, spending half her own money on the ticket at the cost of a week of hard labor.
     - And you will not pester? she asked suddenly, calming slightly.
     “I'm not pestering!”
     - Look at me, without nonsense.
     This "stupid thing" did something to me that I wanted to cry and laugh, I suddenly realized that I was madly in love with the absolutely uninteresting Masha just a minute ago, that I was probably pestering her and that I was really going home.
     “Masha, what do you see if I suggest you go to a restaurant?” -
I blurted out after a while.
     “What do you think if I say that I don’t have money?”
     - Very positive, I am treating you.
     - Coming! - stated Masha. - But in general, let's go. Go out into the corridor, I'll change clothes. I don’t have to go in jeans ...
     - Come on. Well this is not National, I smiled.
     “Come out, or you’ll go alone.”
     And I went out, I stood and looked out the window, until they touched my shoulder. I turned around and froze in place. Before me stood a spectacular blonde in a tight-fitting black dress, who managed to get her hair done somewhere. Yes, with this it’s possible that in “National”, that in “Maxim”:
     “So are we going somewhere or was it a stupid joke?” - asks Masha.
     - Guess three times.
     And we go.
What can I say - all evening I climbed out of my way to maintain the image of a socialite. But she, she changed so much in the couple of minutes in which she changed her clothes. Her hoarse voice gained insane charm, features - inaccessibility, gestures - majesty.
     Night. We are in a dark compartment. I hold Masha’s hand and read to her verses of mine and strangers. I really want to kiss her thin fingers, but I don’t dare. I'm generally timid by nature. And there is something unearthly nearby ...
     “You really aren’t pestering,” Govort Masha.
     “Sorry,” I sigh.
     “But I seem to be pestering,” she says.
     A small tremor beats me. I do not understand what is happening to me.
     “You tremble,” she says, and I see her smile in the glare of light falling from the window.
     - Stupid, right?
     “You want me to hug you and you will warm yourself,” she says so naturally that not a drop of falsehood and vulgarity is heard in these words.
     “Very,” I say with my lips. So I can’t be heard at all, but she hears or doesn’t hear, but she still hugs me and everything plunges into a pink fog, into an unreal space without time. Where there is only her, only her lips, hands, skin ... I cease to exist, I die a sweet death every time I touch her.
     Morning comes. And again, in front of me is Masha in her slightly baggy jeans.
     - Arrived already, about five minutes left ... It's time to say goodbye ...
     - Wait ... What goodbye ... How to say goodbye? ..
     “Yes,” she says, as if not hearing, “do not go out onto the platform right away, please.” My husband will meet me.
     And the train stopped. I sat and looked at the closed door. I tried to convince myself that everything that happened was just a dream. I tried very hard to convince myself of this.
     But he couldn’t.


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