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All alone

By then, his father had already taken to his bed. He simply got bored with life. He was not ill, he just chose to stay in bed and let his wife take care of him. Life became difficult for her. When they neared Belgorod, riding in the lawyer's Lexus, the lawyer—a traditionalist—said that he would leave the old woman's son at a hotel and drive and bring the old woman to Belgorod. Meanwhile, his father would spend half a day in the care of the bodyguards. He was so kind, that lawyer. Had it not been for his idea, the old woman's son would have driven back to Moscow with a clean conscience. A cruel man, he could never understand this kind of sentimentality. No one had ever taken pity on him, neither the women he loved, nor the authorities, nor his enemies and rivals, of course. Hadn't they made an honest attempt to cross the border? What else could he have done?

The lawyer brought his mother over. She turned out to be a crooked, stooped old woman with a walking stick. She was very happy to see him, cried a little at various moments and described to him the physiological details of his father's condition—how she had hurt her back lifting him and how he would wet his bed if she didn't get there in time. He listened to all these horrors and considered going back to Moscow as soon as possible, where a friend had lent him a huge, bourgeois apartment, where he stayed with a 21-year-old girl who had welcomed him back from prison. The lawyer took his mother back and in the evening he and the lawyer sat at an outdoor restaurant, since it was July, and about them walked young girls smelling of young flesh. Less than a month had passed since he had emerged from the camp. Life was a holiday for him. He ate a kebab, chased shots of vodka with beer the way he liked it, used foul language and felt happy. For no reason at all, just because he had spent two and a half years behind bars.