– What’s your name? – I asked.
– Valerka! – he answered slowly, thinking about the consequences of our talk.
His face was motionless, his eyes were looking into one point. He was sitting on an old bench (if it could be called a “bench”), so old, that it seemed to fall into pieces. In some places painting was still visible and looked like a rough skin on the wood.
– May I make your portrait? – I continued.
– And what for?
– What for? To be stamped on somebody's memory!
– On whose memory?! My granny’s’? She is dead!
– And do you have children?
– A son.
– So for your son’s memory!
– He doesn’t need it!
– Ok. Then for my memory! – I insisted – I’ll give your photo to Sergey Mikhailovich and he’ll give it to you.
(Notice: Sergey Mikhailovich is a director of the radio-astronomical laboratory. He invited me. Here, on the territory of the laboratory met Valerka. He was a watchman. 2 days a week. A bottle in the morning, in the evening – another one. Everything on the schedule.)
– Aaa, noo.. The director will see my eyes and will fire me. No photos!
– Your eyes are normal! And you are not drunk!
– Aha, of course. I have to drink a basket of vodka to be drunk!!
– Ok. That means we’ve came to the agreement?
– No, I can’t. the director will abuse me. He’ll tell that its only morning and I’m already drunk!
– I’ll tell him I asked you to pose. And we got good results, but you were sober!
I was lying. Sergey Makhailovich passed by a few minutes earlier, and of course, he saw everything (if he wanted).
We kept silence. Valerka was thinking about something.
– OK! I agree. Give me a bottle.
– A bottle?! What for? I want to make your photo, not the photo of a bottle!
– And how could I pose without a bottle?!
I was confused and Valerka helped me
– Ah… Then I have to finish this one! – he stood up, went to the store room and came back with the bottle of vodka and a glass. There was about 150 grams in the bottle, he didn’t open it and pretended he’s filling the glass.
– Make a photo right now!
– Ha! Your bottle is not begun!
– OK! As you wish! – He skillfully opened the bottle, poured vodka into his glass and drunk it at once. I haven’t seen almost anything.
Then he hided the bottle under the bench and put his glass upside-down in front of a cat, sitting near on thу metal box.
– Shall we start? – he asked with satisfaction and put his arms on the table.
– I made a few shots, thanked him anв was ready to go.
– Hey! Wait! – he shouted right to my back – What’s your name?
I told my name.
– Hey, Victor, don’t forget to send me my photo!
– Of course I won’t!
And it was disgusting at my heart. I felt like it was me who made Valerka drink. He was on sentry duty and didn’t want to pose me…