He was born and raised in Moscow. He never knew the countryside, and factories had never interested him, nor had he ever visited them. But he’d had occasion to read about factories and to be a guest at the homes of factory owners and to speak with them; and once he caught a glimpse of this or that factory, from far away or up close, then each time he would think about how from the outside everything was quiet and peaceful, while from the inside, most likely, there was the impenetrable ignorance and the dull egoism of the owners, the boring, unhealthy labor of the workers, and squabbles, vodka and insects. And now, when the workers were deferentially and fearfully making way for the carriage, he saw in their faces, in their peaked caps, in their gait – physical uncleanliness, drunkenness, nerves and embarrassment.
I didn’t have the strength to stay home any longer. As usual, this “ideal wife,” who loved talking about her superb culinary skills and throwing out words like risotto, clair, and molecular gastronomy, didn’t cook worth a damn, rarely cleaned house, and the word “comfort” had a very abstract meaning in our home. To be frank, it had NO meaning. Because there was no comfort in our home. And so, after shaving, I got dressed in my best suit—it had waited out its hour—and went three stops on the bus to the railroad station. There was a brilliant dive bar where I used to drink until seven in the morning, surrounded by railway station prostitutes, station police, station beggars and others simply waiting for their night trains. Well, and of course, station prostitutes. Did I already mention them? Anyway. One of them, with a body to die for but a face not worth a damn, I made into the hero of an old short story of mine. Luckily, she never found out about it. Otherwise, I think, she’d have increased her rates.