A Seal on her Mouth. Joanna's Page 30
A Seal on her Mouth. Joanna's Page 30
The clock struck midnight, the coach became a hearse, men-servants became grave rats and the ball dress became a shroud.
But it was later. But now we played carelessly. We were grown children or old children. Hardly finishing one game, we sat down to play other. Toys, rules and partners were changing. They played by notes, paints, numbers, words..
We played even weddings.
In her past childhood games were her life but now adult life became a game.
So, they married well, and everything were good, except her strange illness which Yana first found out the next day since Denis brought her to Moscow and they fought in a half-dark front. And he said he could well run from the field of battle, as Pushko did and she had has nothing to worry about. And the roulette was stopped for an instant and silence came. And once again during those bustle days Yana felt somebody's mysterious touch, turning an invisible key in the depths of her ego. And the next day, she at last decided to finish the long ago begun story for the competition announced by the magazine 'Rabotnitsa'. She suddenly tested an attack of insuperable disgust for a paper, for an innocent ball-point pen, for the words, which should have been written on paper, and especially for the history which that formerly was good enough.
"It will be over," Yana decided. "These are nerves and overstrain". And she embarked on writing a series of articles 'Our Countrymen', which Khan charged her to conduct. She messed about a trifling text in one column till evening and felt as if she ate a hated from little up plate of pumpkin porridge which was abundantly dressed with castor oil she. The same recurred the next day, in a month and in two ones. Writing gave her squeamish hatred, insuperable nausea; she was ready to engage in whichever: washing floors, dishes; laying rails, asphalt, dressing the deceased in a morgue and editing any balderdash in order not to write only.
She never told anybody about her trouble. Her resignation from her work in the editorial office was natural because of her married life. Then there followed her pregnancy, the birth of Philip, the defense of her diploma in the journalistic faculty on her old essays. Of course, she got an excellent mark. Then she passed through state examinations. Why did she give up writing? Nobody asked her about it for a while. But understanding that it couldn't be going on so, Yana began to seriously think about getting a humble position of an editor or a teacher of Russian language and literature.
It was Denis who saved her.
"Here is an excellent detective and there is a prospect of signing a contract on television. Will you take part in this work?
Yana knew he was not able to write. He asked her to do it because he couldn't do without her, and in that minute belonged to her. Between them a secret war was going; it was a war of their prides. Once he already tried to write by himself. Yana then refused to help him, alleging to Philip and the defense of her diploma. He came to complete grief and now in his subconsciousness hated her and his own dependence on her, considering that she purposely humiliated him.
And in his own way he asserted himself in the company of actresses and non-actresses, feeling her 'Achilles heel' - hotshot jealousy of a fisherman who vainly tried to keep an enormous big fish in his hands; the fish was slippery, icy and resisting and that was why it was especially desirable.
And she looked like an owner of a small box, which was closed from within itself.
Being afraid to find out this infamous jealousy, Yana was tied down to Denis, being constrained and tormented. The more she hated him, the stronger her jealousy was.
Finally, he humbly asked her, not guessing that she also couldn't write now.
But the big fish in her hands became silent, a small box was opened slightly, and this sense of possessing was so sweet, that she consented to leaf over a detective, while Philip slept. Unexpectedly she was carried away. Philip woke up a long ago; he yells and she fed with him porridge and continued to read. Then she went for a walk with Denis and devoured one page after another.
"Well?" Denis impatiently asked from the threshold, even not taking Philip out of the baby carriage.
"It is like sunflower seeds. You nibble and spit but can't tear away from them."
"You are a queen of plots. But I can't imagine how to do it. Motion is needed."
'Yes, motion is needed," - Yana convinced herself . "Eventually, detective is also a game. Here they on a board there are ladies and gentlemen, queens, bishops and pawns, being placed by this queen of plot. One of them is a killer. The party is played and they are here before me. It is not necessary to torment oneself and search the truth which doesn't exist. It is only needed to play a party once again with a spectator and find a murderer together. But motion is needed."
All of it reminded her of something, but she didn't want to analyze it. She thought that it was necessary to help Denis and assert herself in his eyes; it was enough for him to work hard alone. In fact, the last turned out to be not very good, but they were three now and needed to live on something. She was useless mother and wife. Playing a mother and wife bothered her just after its beginning. It was necessary to make an effort. It was as a new game.
Motion, motion. Rolling a baby carriage with asleep and packed Philip along quiet side-streets, she mentally placed figurines, belonging to an unknown Englishwoman who was 'the queen of the plot'. A hall with a fire-place before which this paralyzed old man sat with a newspaper in an arm-chair. The old man was killed by a shot in the back of his head from a noiseless pistol and about an hour continued to motionlessly sit at a fire-place, as he sat for hours every day. All inhabitants of the house, including a maid, and also two guests who were suspected of committing the murder, all of them were interested in of the old man's death, and all of them passed by him at that hour. Some did it a few times. The stairs leaded upwards where there were three bedrooms. In addition, the door downstairs leaded to the dining-room, to the old man's cabinet of with a joining bedroom and to in room of the maid and in the garden.
A famous detective ordered everybody to stay in the room, by turn called to everyone, setting an alibi and compelling them to again and again pass by the sitting old man in their memory, and every time we waited a shot, which was more and more possible, as the investigation discovered more details and unexpected turns. It allowed electrifying a spectator, especially because a shot was noiseless and the old man after every such passage-way continued to motionlessly sit in his arm-chair. And we didn't know whether he is alive or dead.
Passing by him, everybody wanted to kill him. Everyone was a potential murderer, and it was not so important, who pressed the cock. It is only an insignificant fact just. The shot was noiseless.
Again something very familiar appeared in this new game by foreign figurines. She had played this game already.
And Denis played. When she compelled him to leave injured Leonid instead of George Pushko
"You wrote about me."
Did he understand it? In any event, he liked Yana's game; his eyes shone icy phosphoric brilliance; it was real merry dancers. He was on the hook and belonged to her now. Especially he liked cheapness of the film; it was one of the terms of the contract.
"And what about the ending?"
"The old man turned out to be alive. He seated a wax doll into the arm-chair to find out who of his heirs would succumb to temptation and discovered that the doll was really full of bullets. And then he bequeathed everything to the Soviet fund of peace.
Denis laughed, "Well done, Yana!"
"All right, the ending will be done later. But now you must write other things.
It easy to say 'write'. The paper and the fountain-pen cause a usual attack of disgust in her. Then Yana took a notebook for telephone records with a pencil tied to it, sat down at a cook-table, turned on the concert on requests on TV and, and as a patient after a long ailment, made the painful first steps. She was carried away gradually; stranger figurines became animated and also conduct their own game, invented and defend themselves. And the detective conducts his own game. Then Denis joined them because it was his game too. Since then it would become their joint game for many years forward. The ideal married couple Joanna Sinegina and Denis Gradov were professionals in detective genre. They shot the endless television serial "Following the Black Track" with the same Anton Kravchenko in the role of the Soviet militia agent and superman Paul Kolchugin
She, Denis, Anton and other actors, the film crew, artistic councils, the state committee and, of course, audience, millions of audience were also involved in their game.
Then there were the next tangled cause, the next search of a criminal, and there were no politics and morality in it. We were investigators but not judges. They were always in fashion and afloat, having an eternal set of human vices, which came into being from the original sin of their forefathers.
'Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?' (Genesis 3:11).
'And the LORD said unto Cain, Where [is] Abel thy brother?' (Genesis 4:9).
The life itself played a detective with them and connected them.
In that primordial game of theirs not only Leonid died. No, it was not disgust but some alienation and indifference for life. Time killed us, and we killed time.
This life that looked like life, nevertheless, was in full swing. Their screen version went big. Then Denis one day appeared at home, being escorted by a militiaman, and declared, that it was Misha, his best friend. While a new friend of his washed his hands in the bathroom, Denis whispered that this fellow was a godsend and that it was not important who of them had found but important is the thing that Mish was an investigator on Pertrovka who during about two hours had enough time to tell shocking detective stories that would be enough for five episodes. He was ready to give these and other materials to him with Yana, if they would assign him a consultant and give him a possibility him to visit the house of the cinema, because cinema seemed to be the only Misha's weakness. He didn't drink and smoke, was an exemplary husband, a sport master on firing and so on.
Listening to the teetotaler Misha who peacefully sipping jasmine tea from a drinking bowl, Yana exclaimed fully sincerely,
"My God, why don't you write? But he answered that everybody must have engaged in the work and that he would be very pleasant, if in our domestic cinema a detective genre would prosper in glory of native Petrovka and its humble employees. He also said that he loved his work and dreamed of it from his childhood, and that he could write only protocols.
He went away, leaving a feeling of world's firmness and written numbers of his phones, both domestic and working ones, on a tea box
"You can phone round the clock; I got used to my night work."
And Yana was envy of him, being ready to rush at night towards a gangster bullet, only not to put pen to paper.
But Denis stood above her as an executioner, requiring, that she tomorrow should take a bull by the horns because Misha's work was dangerous and it was fate which sent him to them
And it was impossible to wriggle out of Denis.
What compelled her to accept that slavery for many years? Was it her desire for possession of Denis? For a slave who was needed by his master was a master of his master. But was it only that thing? Or those were remains of her complex of guilt before Denis, an atavism of that real life.
Somehow or other, digging in criminal cases, archives, judicial meeting, conversations with prisoners, business trips to colonies were the most gratifying moments of that game. But how horrible were those attributes of execution: a writing desk, typewriter and paper!
White and clean sheet of paper - she conceived a hatred for white color. Though every time she persuaded herself, that it was not a real execution, that took place already a long time ago, and that it was not necessary to pierce her heart by a pen and write with blood or writhe under the red pencil of Khan, but it was only necessary to professionally describe the party which was played by her. But every time she delayed this moment dreaming of an earthquake.
Joanna was happy with a detective theme because of a possibility to go underground with its antilaws, accepting these antilaws as they were. Other themes, which demanded one or another life conception or the Truth, were fully unacceptable. This Joanna had no positive support; she, as well as Socrates, knew that she knew nothing. Wasn't everything senseless, and what sense was? Everyone had his own doomsday, it started after individual death, and sense could be only in personal eventual 'Why?'
Formerly she believed she was born to say something to the people. Now she had nothing to say. All ways of human life, about which everybody often argued around, both in a whisper and in a load voice: where to go: forward, to the right; to the left, to western democracy or to eastern despotism were acceptable and not acceptable for her; now her modest idea about happiness became firmly established through the word 'not'. Happiness was when her leg, eye, heart or stomach didn't hurt, when there was no conflagration, when her refrigerator was in ful order, when Philip was healthy, when Denis didn't sleep with anybody and when there was no war.
'Following the Black Track'. Together with the hero, the Soviet superman Paul Kolchugin who was a clever, fearless and passionless priest of fact in the first episodes, in the following episodes went down to the underground world with its antilaws. He was the same player, going down to the underground labyrinth of a next werewolf and unmasking him: who will win? The underground world was an antiworld where one could see his own reflection.
If everyone has his own element; fire, water, earth or air, then Denis' element was underground. There downwards he was out of distance; in the underground he glided over everyone: both the right and the left. As nobody else he was able to express demonic romanticism of lawlessness, all those stalactites and stalagmites that stood still as at Madam Tussaud's and white imprint of hand on a black wall or black tracks on white snow.
But it was she who had the key to the underground. Denis and Paul Kolchugin pursued those werewolves of her; it was she who guessed her own reflection in the black mirror of underground. And probably, it was the only authentic reality of that game. Because only one who tasted from the tree of knowledge of good and evil was able to see and distinguish evil; this capability is given only to one in whom poisonous fruit of sin lives. And the more one succeeds to dig out a black abyss, the deeper it is in him.