Chapter 36: Fourth part / Chapter 6

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 23



There was another detail made Nicole Gratte and Oleg Bystritsky communicate in very different ways. Gratte often inserted French phrases, and by the way, she didn’t want to do this. Nicole respects people who may not know her native language; but Bystritsky constantly said that Nicole’s German accent, to put it mildly, requires improvement.

In the autumn, at one of the meetings, he said:

“As usual, with mistakes in the speech.” He spoke quietly, but she noticed.

Nicole answered ironically:

“Regardez-les, dit Dieu” (“Look at them, God said”).

“What do you say in French?”

“God delights us.”

In the winter between 2006 and 2007, it seems that on January 2, 2007, they came to the same restaurant and ordered two pineapples. In addition to Bystritsky in his role, there was also Diane and Christina; there were no particularly intense conversations. They just ate and left. Nicole said that she dreamed of trying pineapple all her life, and nobody bought it for her.

Christina said: “I will not ask you for a piece, all four of our pineapples are the same, but know, I devour your pineapple in my eyes.” Usually, Christina was sad, but that dinner at the restaurant cheered her up.

Honestly, Bystritsky’s comments related to the accent made her a little nervous. She began to ask everyone in turn. Michael Schneiga said that he perfectly understands her, and the accent does not need any changes, not only in everyday life but perhaps even in professional purposes. It was as if he imagined she would head his Vista holding.

Gratte knew it’s just stupid flattery if he would have connected her to the holding, not in the distant future, but soon, she wouldn’t have worked with Pierre and completely left his bank.

Bystritsky liked to arrange dates, and at the same time, not going on to develop a more serious relationship. Diane admitted that she had been meeting with him in the restaurant for half a year. He does not want a serious relationship but loves to eat. The hamster suits him more than any women, but Diane is a big cat lover. It seems that there are no better couples for dating. But not for life.

Bystritsky has his idiotic stereotypes in the field of vegetarianism; the inadmissibility of slaughtering cattle, and thoughts about the lack of love in the world, coupled with the Bystritsky’s economic theory. Jones seems to be battered either. Or her parents were nuts, drug addicts or alcoholics, but she didn’t talk about it, or something like that.

Nicole thought in this way; she had no reason to be mistaken.

Once their next dinner ended, though they were for three, not four. Oleg said:

“Women, you can go, but I will take it off the table.”

When Diane and Nicole got to their cars, Jones told her something. No, she was not drunk at all.

“Nicole, I will tell you a secret,” they began many of their remarks with personal names. “It seems to me that this Bystritsky is a crazy idiot,” Jones said and laughed playfully.

“And you are continuing to date with him?”

“I think we need to hire some kind of boxer and knock him out.”


“Yes, I had one situation in my life. Both of my parents are dead. I lived in a four-room flat building. Then I moved to a private house, of 42 square meters.

When I told him this, he looked at me so unkindly, and added: ‘You made a stupid decision on the issue of your flat.’ I say: ‘you don’t understand if I do not have elderly parents, why do I need a big house?’ He did not answer, pretended that there was no conversation. He still does not like the donated flats, if they are not personalized for your money.” Nicole did not answer but understood that the time he asked about her house, she did not tell what he hated.

In truth, Gratte first believed in Bystritsky and considered his opinion exemplary: both in life and at work. She did not like his remarks about the accent of speech though, and, honestly, she also doubted that his pronunciation was completely a Berlin one. She underestimated Diane, by contrast.

It seemed to her that Diane Jones was not a good worker, not concentrated, her hands always fell out; and she did not really manage to do anything in the right time. There were several cases when, as Deputy Director of the Economic Risk Assessment Division, Nicole asked her for several reports, and she sometimes finished them in two days, and sometimes in three.

But after Jones criticized Bystritsky, Nicole ceased to respect him and became close to Diane. She understood that Diane was a true friend, and Oleg was a pseudo-communicator whom she could never trust. For some reason, Nicole doubted that Bystritsky had only ‘flat aggression’ as if there were no comments about the accents of speech.

When Nicole tried to tell Diane or Christina (she trusted her almost immediately) the same thing about the accent that Bystritsky repeated to her every time—they had a fierce stupor. They did not even know how to answer such questions.

“Diane, how could I tell you this,” Nicole said. “I have a feeling,” she somehow said that she only had a feeling, she was shy to name Oleg as a source of concern, “as if my speech doesn’t sound like Berlin streets, and yet they don’t think that I sound German naturally.”

“Nicole, I don’t know who taught you the language, but neither German nor any other language is divided into any standardized accents. The streets of Berlin or Munich. Yes, in different areas of the same city they can speak differently. So you hear a guest from Munich in Berlin, you start to think that the Berlin version is similar to Munich? Hardly.”

“Do I speak German too wrong for you, Diane?”

“A weird question,” she did not understand the source of her concern at all.

Nicole asked Christina, who had generally grown up in Germany. She told her that the Nicole’s changed sounds are insignificant, but she felt them. The accent is quite pleasant for hearing. Gratte began to think more and more that Bystritsky was a stupid idiot. He probably had a hard time learning German, now he is kicking out at others. She asked neither Jones nor Weber about his accent, didn’t want to tease at them.

Rarely, it happened that Nicole was a little scattered in German itself. It seemed to her that Christina had never used any complex expressions, but Nicole didn’t immediately understand the German word “absichtlich” (intentionally) from the mouth of Diane. She rarely used this word and found it only in dictionaries.

There were two elderly men in the bank. One with a semicircular face, white-grey hair, the second was bald without hair. Nicole saw how Oleg Bystritsky approached them from afar; it seems that they have long known him. Once she heard a snippet of a conversation with this grey-haired man that his wife died of oncology, and, it seems he served in the army, has the rank of sergeant.

On one of the military holidays, Gratte bought a postcard and wrote her own poem there. She knew that the grey-haired man’s name was Ludwig. There were some lines from which it followed that the lyrical heroine depicting his wife was already in paradise. He should be proud of his military experience either, perhaps even write a book with his memoirs.

Before, she didn’t write many poems, except for all kinds of rules, recommendations, and so on. When she approached the grey-haired man, he talked on the phone and ignored both her postcard and her presence. She had put it inside the table, and now Nicole generally doubts that he read it.

At the end of the day, an unfamiliar woman approached her in the bank. It turns out that she saw a postcard. She said that her name is Ani. She added that she was faced with the problem of oncology; several of her relatives died very painfully. The verse is extremely interesting, impressive; the alter ego of the suffering woman who finds herself in paradise is very inspiring. The grey-haired man didn’t respond at all.

From some moral point of view, reading other people’s letters is unacceptable, and Ani violated the taboo; on the other hand, there was nothing particularly personal, no secrets of a particular person. Even if the wife of this grey-haired man died in this way (she heard only a fragment of the conversation, moreover, Ludwig said this one), Nicole really knew nothing about her.

She had seen many times before the dismissal of Oleg Bystritsky that the grey-haired and the bald one trusted him more. He sometimes stayed with them in the office, and it looked like they were talking not only about work. Here Nicole Gratte also wanted to meet them, to enter their circle of trust. And they were conservative people: Bystrytsky started communicating with them when they were a little younger in 1994, and now they don’t want to get to know anyone else.

Many people talk about the crisis of the young and old generations. But some older people are accessible to young people, easily communicate and get to know them, while others are closed and distrustful ones. If you go up to some elderly person and give him some gift, then it’s not at all a fact that he/ she’ll still want to communicate or will be glad of such attention.

From snatches of conversations, Nicole heard several times that they wrote some books, perhaps their memoirs, and Bystritsky was somehow involved in their reading, proofreading, evaluation and editing. She thought, since they’re writing, then perhaps they’ll be glad to receive something written in their honour, but no. They met Nicole recently, not in 1994, now they’re distrustful of strangers.

And suddenly... fainting, the feeling of rewinding time, resuscitation, doctors, defibrillator, flickering, even flashing some bright spots in the eyes... and the final retirement. The bald fainted in the office. This is the grandfather whom Nicole didn’t give any cards.

The next day he came absolutely calmly, with not even a limp. He began to draw up all the necessary documents from his employer. The grey-haired man approached the bald man. Nicole again memorizes an eavesdropped snippet of conversation:

“Of course, I understand you, Edward,” she first recognized his exact name, “but you know how old we are. We are too old, and our health has deteriorated sharply. I remember doing jogs every morning, and now I would get to work.”

Nicole strode past. You can’t prove it, she knew more. She imagined how she swallowed, and then spat out—in her mind, of course.

The old people, of course, are sure that they are in the first list of people who are the most disadvantaged on the planet. It’s only they have diseases; it’s only they that are ill; it’s only for their sake that doctors work.

As if there was no toxicological clinic; as if there were no dreams with barrels and cans filled with urine and vomiting. Would someone retell at least a couple of Nicole’s dreams, and they would change their minds, right? At best, this is eroticism, but only the ending of these dreams for some reason causes nausea.

“We have lived a healthy and happy life,” said Ludwig, “and today the youth is not the same. They only poison themselves with drugs.”

Oh God, the old man did mention the young ones. But only according to him, only drugs are to blame for all health problems of young people. Vomiting, toxicology? Yes, you just ate some damned drugs that your body doesn’t think they’re good food. Murders, violence? Yes, they were most likely under carried out the influence of drugs. It doesn’t matter who or how this business was created.

As if you can’t just take a pure, innocent child and rape him. And victims of violence, like Carla or Christina, believe that they’re in the spotlight. Women or men like Nicole would be indignant why no one writes about stomach problems. Everyone considers himself/ herself in the centre, that’s all.

Elderly people are no different from the same feminists, victims of violence, and indeed from anyone else. All this is multiplied by stereotypes that cultivate respect for them, if only because these people can be someone else’s parents.

A woman with anorexia problem, for example, may not want to discuss anorexia with a man, and old people may also not want to communicate with non-old people. There are no positive stereotypes about anorexia, this is the difference from the elderly issue.

Nicole didn’t want to prove anything to the elder people. Whatever point of view they share, it’s better to calm their nerves, and not strain them. But somewhere inside, she was still angry at these stereotypes: as if only old people had diseases and all young diseases only from drug addiction. These people won’t understand until their children become any sick, that most are not drug addicts.

Submitted: May 24, 2020

© Copyright 2020 RomanBoukreev. All rights reserved.


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