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from the February 2018 issue

Three Weddings and a Funeral

Trīs kāzas un vienas bēres

Latvian author Sven Kuzmins describes the absurd toils of a depressive wedding musician.

“Why are you tying that weird rag around your neck?” Bush asked as he spit the toothpaste into the sink, leaving numerous white flecks on the sleeve of Ziedonis’s suit jacket. Ziedonis looked into the mirror, rinsed them off with water, and, without hiding his offense, said to Bush, who was standing behind him:

“It’s not a rag, it’s a genuine nineteenth-century jabot.”

“It would’ve been better if you’d just put on a tie like a normal person.”

“Oh look, suddenly we’ve got a fashion critic here, somebody who bleaches his hair like it was still 1992,” Ziedonis replied as he watched Bush’s heavyset, half-naked figure in the mirror and thought to himself: Goddammit, what am I even doing here?

“Well, OK, don’t get offended,” Bush came closer and put a hand on Ziedonis’s shoulder. Ziedonis turned his head and carefully freed himself from Bush.

“I have to run,” he said, shoving the synthesizer under his arm as he walked out into the hallway.

“Did you take your pills?” Bush called after him, but Ziedonis was already in the stairwell.


Ziedonis arrived at work before ten. The white hall of the registry office had been cleaned, aired out, and prepared for the wedding ceremony. Sharlotte was putting on her lipstick in the side room and was reading something intently.

“Good morning. What are you doing?” Ziedonis asked.

“I’m studying my speech.”

“You’re studying your speech? I thought it hadn’t changed in twenty years.”

“Yes, that’s exactly why I decided to introduce a few small corrections. To keep with the times, so to speak.”

“That’s a good idea. The most important thing is to throw out all those ‘in accordance with the legislation of the Republic of Latvia . . .’”

“Ziedonis, sweetie, you know very well I can’t and don’t want to throw those out.”

“Why not? They sound so dry. You get the impression that marriage is nothing more than a responsibility. And anyway, if I had any say in it, I’d take the coat of arms off the wall, too. Why does a wedding hall need to look like the state revenue service or an enlistment office? Why can’t a wedding be a light and pleasant event?”

“But Ziedonis, honey, a wedding is a pleasant event. That’s why we have you,” Sharlotte said smiling as she straightened Ziedonis’s jacket, which was at least two sizes too big for his lean frame. “Just learn once and for all that the bottom button on a jacket has to stay undone! And take off that crochet work. Put on a normal tie.”

“That crochet work is a genuine nineteenth-century jabot! You said yourself that a musician has to pay attention to his appearance.”

Sharlotte opened the wardrobe and tossed Ziedonis a wide, slightly crumpled tie. He noticed that Sharlotte herself was wearing a brightly colored, unusually tight dress completely out of place in the registry office’s sterile interior. He carefully studied the director’s sturdy frame and concluded that her total body mass might be greater than Bush’s. However, while the extra pounds made Bush look flabby, Sharlotte’s Willendorfian complexion created an impression of health and strength.

She returned to the mirror and repeated her new speech:

“The union of two individuals is not just the joy they share during the most beautiful moments of their marriage and also not just the difficulties they overcome on life’s winding path. It’s also an example for friends, other people close to them in their lives, and fellow human beings. An example and a reminder that marriage stands at the foundation of every healthy society. How do you like it?” she asked.

Ziedonis felt an irresistible urge to go back home, crawl underneath his blanket with his clothes still on, and never come out again; he remembered that he hadn’t taken his Zoloft for three days in a row.

“It’s really good,” he said, lying. “Inspiring. And what are we playing?”

“What do you mean, what are we playing? Mendelssohn. What else?”

“Fine, Mendelssohn at the start. But how about something new toward the end?”

“Oh, look at that! We’ve got ourselves a visionary. No! We’re doing everything by the book.”

“Please! Something from Kalniņš at least. 'Little Blue Bird,' for example.”

“Not on my watch. Let’s go,” Sharlotte said as she gave him a hard slap on the shoulder. He studied his reflection with loathing and, using all his strength, pulled his tie into place. Sticking the synthesizer under his arm, he proceeded out to the hall.

None of the wedding guests looked especially happy and both rings ultimately turned out to be too small, though that didn’t significantly impact the pace of the ceremony. As he played the usual Mendelssohn, Ziedonis understood he needed to hurry home and take his pills, because his depression was becoming increasingly unbearable. After the ceremony he lifted the synthesizer off the stand and proceeded to the side room to say good-bye to Sharlotte, but she grabbed Ziedonis by the sleeve and said:

“Wait, wait. Where are you off to? We still have two trips today. The car is outside; go load up your piano.”

Ziedonis looked at the calendar on the wall. Two wedding trips were, in fact, scheduled, but there was a small note next to both of them: “No music.”

“But I don’t have to go. It says: ‘No music.’” he said.

Sharlotte looked at the schedule, looked into one of her folders, and said:

“Yes, but they’ve signed a standard contract, my friend. So you’re coming along.”

“Good God. Again? Why do I always have to go even when nobody ordered music?”

“Because, Ziedonis, sweetie, it says so in the contract. If it’s written on paper that there’s going to be a fully equipped pianist, then we have to bring along both the pianist and the equipment.”

“Is there no way of finally getting those standard contracts in order? Because this is totally absurd. More and more often I come along with all of you for nothing. Lately I’ve been driving around more than playing.”

“Come on, don’t exaggerate. Some people would love to have your job—a party outside of town, new people, free food, nothing to do.”

“But I don’t want to do nothing! If they’d ordered a ball, I’d happily come along to play for that ball. But they’ve clearly stated they don’t want it.”

“I’ll say it one last time, both contracts say we are providing a pianist. So we are providing a pianist.”

“Sharlotte, please understand me,” Ziedonis was grasping at his final straw, “I’m a professional composer and I want to use my time productively.”

Sharlotte twisted her face into her “boss” grimace, flipped a page in her folder, and said:

“Really? That’s funny. It says here that you’re a wedding musician. So load up your piano into the car, we’re leaving in twenty minutes.”

Ziedonis was about to answer: “Yeah, a wedding musician who goes to weddings to play no music,” but he knew it wasn’t worth arguing any further.

On the way Ziedonis pressed his head against the window and, catching sight of his reflection, shuddered at his unattractive exterior. During his student years he’d also recognized that he wasn’t especially attractive, if attractiveness is defined as the classical Greek ideal. His long nose in combination with his diminutive chin made him look like a half-melted wax doll. In his youth he could still joke about it. Now, on the verge of forty, his half-long hair had hopelessly receded from his forehead, and what are often referred to as bags under the eyes, in his case looked more like overcooked dumplings.

The wedding took place on an empty beach. The groom had long dreadlocks and an upturned mustache. The bride distinguished herself with brightly colored yet very tasteful makeup, a baroque dress, and a diadem tattooed onto her forehead. The guests also looked sufficiently colorful for Ziedonis to understand why nobody required his services here. Lately, Sharlotte had increasingly wed people like this and her attitude toward them was simple, she’d say: “It’s nice for anyone in this world to find someone like themselves.” However, during the speech she’d usually diverge from her script and go off into detailed instructions regarding the sacrament of marriage and an adult’s moral responsibilities.

Ziedonis stood off to the side hugging his synthesizer and watching the bridal party as he wondered what would end up being this event’s musical direction. Maybe it was worth it to go up to the groom’s relatives and ask? Maybe he should introduce himself and familiarize them with his high school experiments in progressive rock? However, this group looked even more advanced. People like this might even be interested in his more recent work—his jazz compositions from his time at the conservatory as well as the piano concertos he’d composed according to the modes of limited transposition, which incidentally was also his diploma piece.

After the rings were exchanged the wedding guests invited Sharlotte and the driver for a picnic in the dunes where two girls were playing an Indian tabla with remarkable dexterity, while a young guy was tapping an instrument with his fingertips that looked like a flying saucer and produced a harplike sound. Making sure his boss didn’t see him, Ziedonis exchanged his tie for the jabot and tried to stay close to the percussionists. After a while he succeeded in striking up a conversation with one of the wedding guests—not exactly one of the musicians, but without a doubt one of their friends. It was a young man named Mark Vorman. He carefully quizzed Ziedonis about the life of a wedding musician, but most of all, for some reason, he was interested not in Ziedonis’s musical experience, but instead in his mental state.

“How long have you been struggling with depression?” he asked.

“Nine years.”

“Shit. Thank God it only took me four years to get over it and without pills.”

“Lucky you,” Ziedonis said as he traced rings in the sand with his finger.

“It’s good at least that you’re able to live with it.”

“With varying results,” he sighed. “For a moment it even seemed like it was all over. But then I skipped a few days on my Zoloft like an idiot and now I feel the floor crumbling under my feet. Trust me, it’s not pleasant.”

“You bet,” Mark said as he motioned to a young man sitting nearby. “Hey, Harry, do you happen to have anything for depression?”

“I do,” the guy named Harry replied, “we were just thinking it was a good time. Let’s move to the woods, though.”

They sat down inside of an out-of-the-way ring of pines behind a dune—Vorman, Ziedonis, and a crowd of followers. Harry lit something that resembled a cigarette and passed it around.

“I don’t really smoke,” Ziedonis said when his turn in line came.

“Suit yourself, but this is a good anti-depressant. Worked wonders for me.”

Ziedonis shrugged and indifferently took a drag. At first it sent him into an unpleasant coughing fit, but soon he was overcome by a strange tranquility—similar to what he’d felt as a child, running across the meadow and on hot summer nights when he’d slept in the loft at his father’s house. A peace that he’d been seeking for so long that he couldn’t even understand at first whether he was worthy of it. He lay down on the warm seaside earth and for a long time watched tranquilly as clouds crowded together, touched, formed shapes, separated, and in all of that there was a wonderful harmony—musical as well as geometric. “If I died right now,” he thought, “at least it would be with the awareness that once in my life I’d heard the music of the spheres.” And his thoughts, too, were deeper, more expansive than usual. It was pleasant to linger in them.

“Doesn’t it seem to you like at every moment up there in the air a new, completely unique composition is being written?” he asked slowly.

“That’s a lovely idea,” Mark agreed.

“I could try to play it.”

“Go ahead and try.”

“I’ve got a combo amp in the car,” he said.

“Go get it. I’d love to hear it,” Mark said and the rest agreed.

Ziedonis was overcome by a long-forgotten feeling of happiness and motivation. This kind of effect wasn’t something that even Zoloft offered (it just made his mood somewhat bearable). He got up, laughed about the situation he’d unexpectedly found himself in, and went to the spot where the driver had left the van. Time went by slowly and Ziedonis didn’t want to rush it.

But when he reached the parking spot at the forest’s edge, the van was no longer there. The rest of the cars were all in their spots, but their gray Volkswagen was gone. Ziedonis patted down his pockets looking for his phone, but it too had gotten lost somewhere. He ran back to the beach where the wedding guests were congregating in small groups and soon found his phone half buried in the sand. Sharlotte had called him exactly eight times. Ziedonis dialed her number.

“Hello? Ziedonis? Where are you? We’re going to miss the wedding because of you,” she yelled anxiously into the phone.

“I’m sorry. I lost my phone.”

“Unbelievable! Everything always goes off the rails for you, even if you don’t have to do anything. Walk out to the highway right away, we’ll come get you. Don’t waste any time!”

It occurred to him that he could just as well hang up and stay in the dunes with his new friends, but remembered that all of his equipment was in the van. “That’s right,” he thought as he walked back toward the highway, “it was all too good to be true.”

Apparently, the van had already gotten pretty far. The empty road seemed endlessly long, the synthesizer was awkward to carry, but that wasn’t enough—clouds had gathered in front of the sun and it began to drizzle. At first the rain was very light, but soon it turned into a heavy downpour.

“No, no, no! Not the keyboard, please, not the keyboard,” he muttered as he cursed himself, Latvia’s climate, and the registry office. He took off his jacket and tried to wrap it around the synthesizer, but it didn’t help. The rain was crashing down onto the highway and roadside ditches like an avalanche. Pressing the drenched synthesizer up to his chest, Ziedonis kept moving forward. A few minutes later a car’s headlights pierced the impenetrable downpour. But as soon as Ziedonis got into the van, the rain, as if by cynical comedy script, stopped.

“You’ve put on that stupid crochet work again,” was the first thing Sharlotte said when she saw him.

The next wedding took place in a large hall; a bit further on there were not just one but two saunas heating up by the pond, and all in all everything looked very traditional. The exchange of rings was followed by the traditional crowning, during which, for some reason, a couple of burly twins carried the bride around on their shoulders. Women gossiped at the tables, men wasted no time getting drinks and every few minutes yelled at their children who were racing across the space reserved for dancing—just in case. The wedding party gave their toasts, the bride’s grandfather watched the guests with suspicion from his wheelchair, while two short-haired young guys in white shirts played exactly the same kind of repertoire on their synthesizers that Ziedonis would’ve played in their place.

But Ziedonis’s perception had changed. He almost couldn’t hear the people bellowing out their toasts. On the other hand, he could hear even the softest whispered conversation underway at the tables. When people came closer to him, he could see each clogged pore on their skin, every unshaved piece of stubble. But the most terrible thing was that Ziedonis had the power to predict their thoughts and movements.

Having discovered this kind of power, he was dumbfounded. “How strange,” he thought, “in a moment 'The Blue Carbuncle' will end, one of the musicians (the one on the left with the Yamaha) will play a bar from 'Raise Your Glasses,' the hosts will set up a game involving guessing answers to riddles so guests can get to know each other while delegating two of the groom’s relatives to protect the bride, but this guy in the pink shirt who’s sitting next to me will go for a smoke on the balcony and will think about how to strike up a conversation with the groom’s redheaded sister without alerting his wife who, incidentally, will be the next one to give a toast. They’re all programmed like electronic watches. Goddammit, what am I even doing here?”

Ziedonis understood that he needed to get out of there fast. He quietly asked Sharlotte when she was planning on going home. But it seemed that his boss was already a bit tipsy and she gestured indifferently:

“Are you in a hurry? Let’s sit for a while,” and nudged the gentleman next to her to fill up her champagne glass.

Ziedonis fell back into his chair and remembered how good he’d felt reclining by the forest under that cloudscape. It turned out that right next door there was a world in which he’d gladly live out his life, but it wasn’t meant for the likes of him.

“Not meant for the likes of me,” he repeated under his breath.

“What?” the man in the pink shirt asked.

“Nothing, nothing,” Ziedonis answered and the man got up and went for a smoke, glancing at the groom’s redheaded sister.

The entire evening Ziedonis privately predicted the wedding guests’ actions and his predictions came true without fail—even his premonition that the twins, who’d spent the entire time obsessively carrying around heavy objects, would convince him to go to the sauna. After dusk the men had grown rowdy. They packed into one of the saunas, didn’t waste time on speeches and most of the time made do with primitive sentences. Some of them were standing naked on the deck drinking vodka, trying to outgrowl each other, though most of them crowded together in the narrow rooms inside. The twins brought in a special wooden chair where the grandfather had been sitting and placed him in the center of the sauna. The group sitting on the upper bench was constantly throwing water on the hot stones, yelling, “Saunas are tops when your heart stops!” The thermometer’s indicator had climbed up to the 120-degree mark and the steam chamber resembled a shared taxi at rush hour. When it’d get too hot for the grandfather, he’d motion and the twins would carry him out on his chair. He’d sit like that in the moonlight as steam rose off his bony flesh. When the grandfather felt sufficiently cooled down, he’d motion again and the twins would carry him right back inside. One of the musicians had dozed off on the steaming bench, hit his forehead on the hot stones, and was now resting by the edge of the pond. The other one was rolling around like in a trance in the corner of the sauna and kept repeating, "Sometimes I wish I were an angel . . . " But Ziedonis, trapped between men drenched in alcohol sweat, was sitting on the lower bench and kept trying to think of clouds and the music of the spheres.

The one who’d been next to him and had spent the evening glancing at the groom’s sister sat down next to Ziedonis and introduced himself as Egon. The whites of his eyes were as red as his face.

“Hey, you some kind of a musician?” he asked.


“Hey, uh, can you play for us? The singers, uh, went off.”

“My synthesizer got soaked on the way,” Ziedonis said. “I don’t know if it’ll work.”

Egon considered what Ziedonis said as if it had been something complicated and called out:

“Hey, guys, we need to bring over the piano from the guest house!”

“It’s not necessary,” Ziedonis tried to object, but the carrier twins had tied towels around their waists, carried out the grandfather who had overheated again, and ran over to the guesthouse. Realizing that these guys were beginning to exhibit too much interest in him, Ziedonis decided to sneak out and disappear. But, while he was looking for his clothes in the overfilled front room, the twins had already taken the “Riga” brand piano and pushed it along the wooded path placing it on the deck. The women, who were using the other sauna, had gathered on the edge of the pond and were watching the chaotic scene.

“You’re crazy! Why do you have the piano?” the bride yelled.

“We’re having a concert! Come on over here,” Egon yelled back.

Ziedonis had found his socks and was hurrying to put them on, but the twins/porters had lifted the taboret on which he was sitting and carried Ziedonis over to the piano.

“Play something fun,” yelled the ladies.

“Yeah, something to dance to,” yelled the men.

There were calls coming from every side: “Yellow Leaves!” “Genovefa!” “Legionnaire songs!” But Ziedonis, who was sitting at the piano in nothing but his socks, hands shaking, quietly said:

“Piss off with your Genovefas,” and forcefully slammed out a heavy minor chord on the keys. Then another one, and another, and soon he was running up and down the octaves with so much force that for a few euphoric minutes he’d forgotten where he was, and on that dark night the comets and meteorites streaked across the sky and the trees looked alive as they shivered in the wind. His euphoria transformed into anger. At Bush, at Sharlotte, at the registry office, at the wedding guests, at the crowd of intellectuals he was destined never to join, at all the world known to him.

Then he stopped, took a break, walked into the front room of the sauna, and returned with the jabot around his neck. Making eye contact with the steaming grandfather, he continued to clatter the keys until he started getting cramps in his frozen legs.

The audience applauded. Without looking back, Ziedonis walked into the front room of the sauna. He wrapped himself in a white bathrobe, grimaced as he took a big gulp of vodka, waited until the audience started to disperse, and then went off to find Sharlotte. “That’s it,” he thought, “now I get to decide who goes where and when.”

“Hey, buddy, you’re fucking psycho,” Egon tried to pat Ziedonis’s back approvingly, but he pushed away Egon’s hand with a strong and precise motion and went off in the direction of the other sauna.

“Sharlotte,” he yelled, looking into every room. “Sharlotte, where are you?”

“Ziedonis, honey, is that you? Come up,” a voice echoed from the second floor.

Ziedonis walked up the stairs. There was a light on in one of the bedrooms. He opened the door. Sharlotte was standing in front of him with wet hair, noticeably drunk. She looked Ziedonis in the eyes, made a crooked grimace, which was surely meant to be seductive, and let the bathrobe slide off her shoulders.

“Tell the driver to start the car. We’re leaving,” Ziedonis said categorically.

“No, Ziedonis, sweetie, we’re staying for the night,” she replied and put her chubby arms around Ziedonis’s waist.

“Stop this behavior right this second! Get yourself together and go find the driver.”

“No, no, you’re not getting away from me that easily,” Sharlotte said with a smile, pulled Ziedonis by his jabot, pushed him into bed, and rolled on top of him with all her weight. Ziedonis clenched his teeth and tried to avoid Sharlotte’s kisses, he attempted to fight back with both hands.

“Pull yourself together, music man,” she ordered. “Don’t be such a wimp!”

“Yeah, pull yourself together! Be a man!” a voice echoed from the hallway. Ziedonis and Sharlotte looked up. Both musicians were standing by the door—one was supporting himself against the door frame, the other had a small trickle of blood flowing from his cracked forehead.


Shading her eyes with her palm, Sharlotte looked out at the chill autumn sunset, while Igor, the pianist who was now working at the registry office in Ziedonis’s place, played the most popular melodies of the composer Raimonds Pauls. Eight people out of the ten invited had come to Ziedonis’s funeral—Bush, who’d found Ziedonis hanging from his bathroom ceiling, still couldn’t pull himself together and was drinking for the third week straight, whereas Ziedonis’s father upon receiving the invitation had replied: “He had it coming, almost drove me there himself.” On the other hand, Mark Vorman had somehow found out about the funeral. He arrived late and stood off to the side the entire time, but when the proceedings were over and the gravediggers pushed the cross into the sand with the handles of their shovels, he walked up to Sharlotte.

“So strange to get to know a person in their final months,” he said.

“I feel like we never got to know each other at all,” Sharlotte sighed and blew her nose into a napkin.

“Seemed like everything was going to be fine, right? He said he had finally recovered and felt relieved.”

“Yes, that’s what he said, but I suspected that it wasn’t entirely true.”

“Apparently,” said Mark. He shoved his hands into his coat pockets and looked at the piano player, Igor. “Who the hell is that?” he asked.

“That’s our Igor.”

“Igor who?”

“Igor the pianist. He’s taken Ziedonis’s place.”

“I see,” Mark nodded expressively, bit his lip, and hung his head.

“What? Something wrong?”

“No, no. Everything’s OK,” Mark said as he rustled the leaves with the tip of his shoe.

Coolness arrived with twilight. Igor finished the melody and shot Sharlotte an inquisitive glance. She dragged her index finger across her throat indicating that it was time to go. Igor turned off the synthesizer and began unplugging the cords while Sharlotte produced a tiny bottle of Condy’s Crystals from her pocket and went to spray the flower bouquets and wreaths. So they wouldn’t get stolen.

© Sven Kuzmins. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2018  by Uldis Balodis. All rights reserved.

Trīs kāzas un vienas bēres

– Kāpēc tu sien ap kaklu to dīvaino ļecku? – jautāja Bušs un izspļāva zobu pastu izlietnē, atstādams uz Ziedoņa žaketes piedurknes vairākus baltus punktiņus. Ziedonis ieskatījās spogulī, noskaloja tos ar ūdeni un, neslēpdams aizvainojumu, teica aiz muguras stāvošajam Bušam:

– Tā nav nekāda ļecka, tas ir īsts 19. gadsimta žabo.

– Būtu labāk uzsējis kaklasaiti kā visi normāli cilvēki.

– Atradies modes kritiķis, pats balini matus tā, it kā būtu 92. gads – Ziedonis noteica, spogulī vērodams Buša drukno, puskailo figūru, un pie sevis domādams: "Velns parāvis, ko es šeit daru?"

– Nu labi, neapvainojes, – Bušs pienāca tuvāk un nolika roku uz Ziedoņa pleca. Ziedonis atskatījās un ar piesardzīgu kustību no tās atbrīvojās.

– Man jāskrien, – viņš teica, pasita padusē sintezatoru un izgāja gaitenī.

– Zāles iedzēri? – Bušs sauca nopakaļ, taču Ziedonis, šķiet, jau bija kāpņutelpā.




Darbā Ziedonis ieradās pirms desmitiem. Dzimtsarakstu nodaļas baltā zāle bija izmazgāta, izvēdināta un sagatavota kāzu ceremonijai. Šarlote palīgtelpā krāsoja lūpas un kaut ko cītīgi lasīja.

– Labrīt. Ko tu dari? – Ziedonis jautāja.

– Mācos runu.

– Mācies runu? Man likās, ka tā nav mainīta jau gadus divdesmit.

– Jā, tieši tāpēc es nolēmu tajā ieviest mazas korekcijas. Iet kopsolī ar laiku, tā teikt.

– Laba doma. Galvenais, izmet beidzot ārā tos "saskaņā ar Latvijas Republikas likumdošanu..."

– Ziedonīt, tu ļoti labi zini, ka es tos nevaru un negribu mest ārā.

– Kāpēc ne? Tas izklausās tik sausi. Rodas iespaids, ka laulība ir pienākums. Un vispār, ja man būtu teikšana, es noņemtu arī ģērboni no sienas. Kāpēc laulību zālē jāizskatās kā ieņēmumu dienestā vai kara komisariātā? Kāpēc kāzas nevarētu būt viegls un patīkams notikums?

– Bet Ziedonīt, kāzas ir patīkams notikums. Tāpēc jau mums esi tu, – Šarlote teica un smaidot piekārtoja Ziedoņa žaketi, kas viņa kalsnajam augumam bija vismaz divus izmērus par lielu. – Tikai iegaumē beidzot, žaketes apakšējai pogai vienmēr jābūt vaļā! Un to tamborējumu ņem nost. Uzsien normālu šlipsi.

– Tas tamborējums ir īsts 19. gadsimta žabo! Tu pati teici, ka labam mūziķim jāpiestrādā pie sava vizuālā tēla.

Šarlote atvēra drēbju skapi un pasvieda Ziedonim platu, nedaudz saburzītu kaklasaiti. Viņš pamanīja, ka Šarlotei pašai mugurā bija koša, neierasti pieguļoša un dzimtsarakstu nodaļas sterilajā interjerā pilnīgi neiederīga kleita. Viņš nopētīja priekšnieces dūšīgo augumu un secināja, ka viņas kopējā ķermeņa masa varētu būt lielāka nekā Bušam, taču Bušs ar saviem liekajiem kilogramiem izskatījās ļumīgs, turpretī Šarlotes villendorfiskā komplekcija radīja iespaidu par veselību un spēku.

Viņa atgriezās pie spoguļa un noskaitīja savu jauno tekstu:

– Divu cilvēku savienība ir ne tikai prieks, kurā tie dalās laulības skaistākajos brīžos, un ne tikai grūtības, kuras tie pārvar dzīves līkločos. Tas ir arī piemērs draugiem, tuviniekiem un līdzcilvēkiem. Piemērs un atgādinājums, ka laulība ir katras veselīgas sabiedrības pamatā. Kā tev patīk? – viņa jautāja.

Ziedonis sajuta grūti pārvaramu vēlmi atgriezties mājās, palīst zem segas ar visām drēbēm un nekad vairs nelīst ārā; viņs atcerējās, ka jau trešo dienu nav dzēris zoloftu.

– Ļoti labi, – viņs sameloja. – Iedvesmojoši. Un ko mēs spēlējam?

– Kā, ko spēlējam? Mendelsonu. Ko tad citu?

– Labi, sākumā Mendelsonu. Bet varbūt beigās uzraujam kaut ko jaunu?

– Kas vēl nebūs! Inovators atradies. Darām visu pēc programmas.

– Bet varbūt tomēr? Kaut no Kalniņa. "Zilo Putniņu", piemēram.

– Nekādu "Zilo Putniņu". Ejam, – teica Šarlote un spēcīgi uzsita Ziedonim pa plecu. Viņš ar nepatiku nopētīja savu spoguļattēlu un no visa spēka savilka kaklasaiti. Pasitis padusē sintezatoru, viņš devās uz zāli.


Neviens no kāziniekiem neizskatījās sevišķi priecīgs, un beigās abi gredzeni izrādijās par mazu,  taču tas būtiski neietekmēja ceremonijas gaitu. Spēlējot mūžīgo Mendelsonu, Ziedonis saprata, ka steidzami jādodas mājās iedzert tabletes, jo grūtsirdība kļuva arvien neizturamāka. Pēc ceremonijas viņš nocēla sintezatoru no statīva un devās uz palīgtelpu, lai atvadītos no Šarlotes, taču viņa satvēra Ziedoni aiz piedurknes un teica:

– Pagaidi, pagaidi. Kur skriesi? Mums šodien vēl ir divi izbraukumi. Mašīna jau ir ārā, vari iet un iekrāmēt savas klavieres.

Ziedonis ieskatījās sienas kalendārā. Divi kāzu izbraukumi tiešām bija ieplānoti, taču abiem blakus bija maza piezīme: "Bez mūzikas".

– Bet man jau nav jābrauc. Te rakstīts: "Bez mūzikas", – viņš sacīja.

Šarlote aplūkoja dienas plānu, ieskatījās vienā no savām mapēm un teica:

– Jā, bet viņi ir parakstījuši standarta līgumus, draudziņ. Tā ka nāksies vien braukt līdzi.

– Dieviņ tētīt. Atkal? Kāpēc man vienmēr jābrauc līdzi arī tad, ja neviens nav pasūtījis mūziku?

– Tāpēc, Ziedonīt, ka tas ir paredzēts līgumā. Ja uz papīra rakstīts, ka būs pianists ar pilnu aprīkojumu, tātad mums jāved līdzi gan pianists, gan aprīkojums.

– Vai tad nevar beidzot tos standarta līgumus savest kārtībā? Jo šis ir pilnīgs absurds. Es aizvien biežāk braukāju jums līdzi pa tukšo. Pēdējā laikā vairāk braukāju, nekā spēlēju.

– Nu, nepārspīlē. Cits tavā vietā būtu pateicīgs – tusiņš ārpus pilsētas, jauni cilvēki, ēšana bez maksas, nekas nav jādara.

– Bet es negribu neko nedarīt! Ja viņi būtu pasūtījuši balli, es labprāt brauktu un spēlētu balli. Bet viņi ir skaidri un gaiši teikuši, ka to nevēlas.

– Pēdējo reizi atkārtoju, abos līgumos ir rakstīts, ka mēs nodrošinām pianistu. Tātad mēs nodrošinām pianistu.

– Šarlot, lūdzu, saproti arī mani, – Ziedonis ķērās pie pēdējā salmiņa, – es esmu profesionāls komponists, es gribu izmantot savu laiku lietderīgi.

Šarlote savilka īpašo "priekšnieces" grimasi, uzšķīra kādu no lapām savā mapē un teica:

– Tiešām? Dīvaini. Te ir rakstīts, ka tu esi kāzu muzikants. Tā ka krāmē vien savas klavieres mašīnā, izbraucam pēc 20 minūtēm.

Ziedonis jau bija gatavs atbildēt: "Jā, kāzu muzikants, kurš brauc uz kāzām, lai nemuzicētu," taču zināja, ka tālāk strīdēties nav vērts.


Pa ceļam Ziedonis atspieda galvu pret logu un, ieraudzījis savu atspulgu, nošausminājās par savu nepievilcīgo ārieni. Arī studiju gados viņš apzinājās, ka nav diez cik skaists, ja par skaistumu pieņem klasisko grieķu ideālu. Garais deguns kombinācijā ar niecīgo zodu padarīja viņu līdzīgu pakusušai vaska lellei. Jaunībā viņš par to vēl prata uzjautrināties. Tagad, uz 40 gadu sliekšņa viņa pusgarie mati bija bezcerīgi atkāpušies no pieres un zem acīm iezīmējās tas, ko parasti sauc par maisiņiem, bet kas Ziedoņa gadījumā vairāk līdzinājās pārvārītiem pelmeņiem.

Kāzas notika tukšā pludmalē. Līgavainim bija gari dredi un uzskrūvētas ūsas. Līgava izcēlās ar spilgtu, taču ļoti gaumīgu meikapu, barokālu kleitu un uz pieres uztetovētu diadēmu. Arī viesi izskatījās pietiekami kolorīti, lai Ziedonis saprastu, kāpēc viņa pakalpojumi šeit nevienam nebija vajadzīgi. Pēdējā laikā Šarlote šādus cilvēkus laulāja arvien biežāk, un viņas attieksme pret tiem bija vienkārša – viņa teica: "Jauki, ka jebkurš šajā pasaulē var atrast sev līdzīgu," taču runas laikā parasti novirzījās no scenārija un izplūda detalizētās instrukcijās par laulības sakramentu un pieaugušu cilvēku tikumisko atbildību.

Ziedonis stavēja nomaļus, apskāvis sintezatoru, vēroja kāziniekus un domāja, kāds būs šī pasākuma muzikālais noformējums. Varbūt būtu vērts pieiet pie vedējiem un painteresēties? Varbūt iepazīstināt ar sevi, ar saviem vidusskolas laika eksperimentiem progresīvajā rokā? Lai gan šī kompānija izskatījās vēl advancētāka. Tādus varētu interesēt arī viņa jaunākie skaņdarbi – gan konservatorijas laikā tapušās džeza kompozīcijas, gan pēc ierobežotās transpozīcijas principa sacerētais klavierkoncerts, kas cita starpā bija arī viņa diplomdarbs.

Pēc gredzenu apmaiņas kāzinieki ielūdza Šarloti un šoferi uz pikniku kāpās, kur divas meitenes ar apbrīnojamu virtuozitāti spēlēja indiešu tablas, bet kāds pavisam jauns čalītis ar pirkstu galiem sita instrumentu, kas izskatījās pēc lidojošā šķīvīša un izdeva arfai līdzīgas skaņas. Pārliecinājies, ka priekšniece viņu neredz, Ziedonis nomainīja kaklasaiti pret žabo un centās uzturēties perkusionistu tuvumā. Pēc kāda laika viņam izdevās uzsākt sarunu ar vienu no kāzu viesiem – ne gluži ar mūziķi, taču neapšaubāmi ar vienu no viņu draugiem. Tas bija jauns vīrietis vārdā Marks Formans. Viņš cītīgi izprašņāja Ziedoni par kāzu muzikanta dzīvi, taču visvairāk viņu nez kāpēc interesēja nevis Ziedoņa muzikālā pieredze, bet gan viņa psihiskais stāvoklis.

– Cik sen tu jau cīnies ar depresiju? – viņš jautāja.

– Deviņus gadus.

– Šausmas. Es, paldies Dievam, tiku galā četru gadu laikā un bez ripām.

– Laimīgais, – teica Ziedonis, ar pirkstu zīmēdams gredzenus smiltīs.

– Labi vismaz, ka tev izdodas ar to sadzīvot.

– Ar mēreniem panākumiem, – viņš nopūtās. – Vienu brīdi pat likās, ka tās mocības ir galā. Bet tad es kā idiots izlaidu pāris dienas zolofta kursā, un tagad jūtu, kā zem kājām brūk pamati. Tici man, tā nav patīkama sajūta.

– Ticu, – teica Marks un pamāja kādam puisim, kurš sēdēja turpat netālu. – Klau, Harij, tev gadījumā nav kaut kas pret depresiju?

– Ir, – puisis vārdā Harijs atsaucās, – mēs tieši domājām, ka ir īstais laiks. Bet ejam tur, mežiņā.

Viņi apsēdās nomaļā priežu ielokā aiz kāpas – Formans, Ziedonis un bariņš sekotāju. Harijs aizsmēķēja paštītu cigareti un palaida to pa apli.

– Vispār jau es nepīpēju, – teica Ziedonis, kad rinda bija nonākusi pie viņa.

– Kā vēlies, bet šis ir labs antidepresants. Man palīdzēja.

Ziedonis paraustīja plecus un vienaldzīgi ievilka dūmu. Sākumā tas izraisīja nepatīkamu klepus lēkmi, taču drīz vien viņu pārņēma dīvains miers – līdzīgs tam, ko viņš bija piedzīvojis bērnībā, skraidīdams pa pļavu un karstās vasaras naktīs gulēdams tēva mājas sienaugšā. Miers, pēc kāda viņš bija tiecies tik sen, ka sākumā pat nesaprata, vai tik laba sajūta viņam vispār ir piemērota. Viņš atlaidās siltajā piejūras zemē un ilgi, nesteidzīgi vēroja, kā gubu mākoņi drūzmējās, saskarās, veidoja formas, dalījās, un tajā visā bija brīnišķīga harmonija – gan muzikāla, gan ģeometriska. "Ja es tagad nomirtu," viņš domāja, "tad vismaz ar apziņu, ka vienreiz mūžā esmu sadzirdējis sfēru mūziku." Un arī domas bija dziļākas, apjomīgākas nekā parasti. Tajās bija patīkami kavēties.

– Jums nešķiet, ka tur, gaisā katrā dotajā brīdī tiek sacerēts neatkārtojams skaņdarbs? – viņš lēni jautāja.

– Skaista ideja, – piekrita Marks.

– Es varētu mēģināt to nospēlēt.

– Nu, pamēģini.

– Man mašīnā ir kombis, – viņš teica.

– Aizej pakaļ. Es labprāt paklausītos, – teica Marks, un pārējie piebalsoja.

Ziedoni pārņēma sen aizmirsts prieks un motivācija. Šādu efektu nesniedza pat zolofts – tas vienkārši padarīja noskaņojumu mēreni ciešamu. Viņš piecēlās, pasmējās par situāciju, kurā negaidot bija nokļuvis, un devās uz vietu, kur šoferis bija atstājis busiņu. Laiks vilkās lēni, un Ziedonis it nemaz nevēlējās to steidzināt.

Taču mežmalas stāvvietā viņš secināja, ka dzimtsarakstu nodaļas busiņa tur vairs nav. Visas pārējās mašīnas stāvēja savās vietās, bet viņu pelēkais folksvāgens bija prom. Ziedonis iztaustīja kabatas, meklējot telefonu, taču arī tas bija kaut kur pazudis. Viņš aizskrēja atpakaļ uz liedagu, kur bariņos pulcējās kāzu viesi, un drīz vien atrada savu telefonu līdz pusei ieputinātu smiltīs. Šarlote bija zvanījusi tieši astoņas reizes. Ziedonis uzspieda viņas numuru.

– Halo? Ziedoni! Kur tu vazājies? Mēs tevis dēļ nokavēsim kāzas, – viņa satraukti kliedza klausulē.

– Piedod. Es pazaudēju telefonu.

– Apbrīnojami! Vienmēr tev viss aiziet šķērsām, pat tad, ja nekas nav jādara. Tūlīt pat nāc uz šoseju, mēs pabrauksim pretī. Nekavējies!

Viņš iedomājās, ka tikpat labi varētu nolikt klausuli un palikt šeit, kāpās ar saviem jaunajiem draugiem, bet tad atcerējās, ka mašīnā atradās viņa aparatūra. "Tā jau man likās," viņš domāja, soļodams šosejas virzienā, "viss bija pārāk labi."

Pēc visa spriežot, busiņš jau bija ticis diezgan tālu. Tukšais ceļš likās bezgalīgi garš, sintezators bija neparocīgs nešanai, taču ar to vēl nepietika – saulei priekšā nemanot bija savilkušies mākoņi, un no debesīm sāka smidzināt lietus. Sākumā tas bija pavisam viegls, taču drīz vien pārvērtās pamatīgā gāzienā.

– Nē, nē, nē! Tikai ne sintezators, lūdzu, tikai ne sintezators, – viņš murmināja, domās nolādēdams gan sevi, gan Latvijas klimatu, gan dzimtsarakstu nodaļu. Viņš novilka žaketi un mēģināja to aptīt ap sintezatora taustiņiem, taču tas nelīdzēja. Lietus gāzās pār šoseju un grāvmalām kā kalnu lavīna. Piespiedis samirkušo sintezatoru pie krūtīm, Ziedonis soļoja uz priekšu. Pēc dažām minūtēm necaurredzamās šaltis caurdūra auto lukturu gaisma. Bet, līdzko Ziedonis iekāpa busiņa salonā, lietus kā pēc ciniska komēdijas scenārija mitējās.

– Atkal tu esi uzsējis to stulbo tamborējumu, – bija pirmais, ko Šarlote teica, viņu ieraudzījusi.


Nākamās kāzas notika lielā viesu nama zāle, nedaudz tālāk dīķa malā kūrās nevis viena, bet divas pirtis, un kopumā viss izskatījās ļoti tradicionāli – pēc gredzenu apmaiņas notika mičošana, kuras laikā divi būdīgi dvīņi nez kāpēc nēsāja līgavu uz rokām, sievas klačojās pie galdiem, vīri bez liekas kavēšanās ķērās pie dzērieniem un drošības pēc ik pa brīdim sabāra savus bērnus, kuri skraidīja pa dejām atvēlēto platību, vakara vadītāji teica vecus tostus, ratiņkrēslā sēdošais līgavas vectēvs vēroja publiku ar šaubu pilnu skatienu, bet divi īsmataini puiši baltos kreklos uz sintezatoriem izpildīja tieši tādu pašu repertuāru, kādu viņu vietā būtu spēlējis arī Ziedonis. Taču bija mainījusies Ziedoņa uztvere. Viņš praktiski nedzirdēja klaigājošos vadītājus, toties spēja saklausīt katru smalkāko sarunu, kas pusčukstus risinājās pie galdiem. Kad cilvēki pienāca viņam tuvāk, viņš redzēja katru aizsērējušu poru viņu ādās, katru nenoskūtu rugāju. Bet briesmīgākais bija tas, ka Ziedonis spēja paredzēt viņu domas un kustības.

Atklājis sevī šādu spēju, viņš apmulsa. "Cik dīvaini," viņš domāja, "tūlīt beigs skanēt "Zilais karbunkulis", viens no mūziķiem (tas, kurš pa kreisi, ar Jamahu) izpildīs "Par to mums atkal jāiedzer" takti, kāzu vadītāji izspēlēs iepazīšanās spēli ar mīklu minēšanu un deleģēs divus līgavaiņa draugus sargāt līgavu, bet šis tips rozā kreklā, kurš sēž blakus, izies uzpīpēt uz balkona un domās par to, kā lai sievai neredzot iepazīstas ar līgavaiņa rudo māsu, kura, starp citu, būs nākamā, kas teiks tostu. Viņi visi ir ieprogrammēti kā elektroniskie pulksteņi. Velns parāvis, ko es šeit daru?"

Ziedonis saprata, ka steidzami jāmūk. Viņš klusi pajautāja Šarlotei, kad viņa domā braukt mājās. Taču priekšniece, šķiet, jau bija iesilusi un vienaldzīgi atmeta ar roku:

– Tev kaut kur jāsteidzas? Pasēžam vēl, – un piebakstīja blakus sēdošajam kungam, lai tas papildina viņas šampānieša glāzi.

Ziedonis atslīga krēslā un atcerējās, cik labi bija juties, guļot mežmalā zem mākoņi ainavas. Izrādās, tepat blakus bija pasaule, kurā viņš labprāt paliktu uz dzīvi, taču tādiem kā viņš tas nebija atļauts.

– Tādiem kā man tas nav atļauts, – viņš pusbalsī atkārtoja.

– Ko? – jautāja vīrs rozā kreklā.

– Neko, neko, – Ziedonis atbildēja, un blakussēdētājs, pametis aci uz rudo līgavaiņa māsu, izgāja uzpīpēt.


Visu vakaru Ziedonis domās pareģoja kāzinieku darbības, un viņa pareģojumi nekļūdīgi piepildījās – arī tas, ka dvīņi, kuri visu laiku kā apsēsti pārnēsāja smagus priekšmetus, viņu pierunās iet pirtī. Pēc saulrieta vīriešu kompānija bija kļuvusi zvērīga. Tikuši līdz vienai no pirtīm, viņi vairs netērēja laiku liekām sarunām un iespēju robežās iztika ar nepaplašinātiem teikumiem. Daži no viņiem kaili stāvēja uz lieveņa, dzēra šņabi un sacentās rūkšanā, taču lielākā daļa drūzmējās šaurajās telpās. Dvīņi ienesa pirtī speciālu koka krēslu, kurā sēdēja vectētiņš, un novietoja to pirts viducī. Uz augšējās lāvas sēdēja kompānija, kura visu laiku meta garu un kliedza: "Laba ir pirts, kurā apstājas sirds!" Termometra stabiņš bija pakāpies līdz 120 grādu iedaļai, un pēršanās telpa atgādināja maršruta taksometru sastrēgumstundā. Kad vectētiņam kļuva par karstu, viņš pamāja ar roku, un dvīņi iznesa viņu ārā ar visu krēslu. Tā viņš sēdēja mēnessgaismā, un no viņa kaulainās miesas cēlās garaiņi. Bet, kad vectētiņš jutās pietiekami atdzisis, viņš atkal padeva mājienu, un dvīņi apņēmīgi ienesa viņu atpakaļ. Viens no mūziķiem bija aizsnaudies uz lāvas, pārsitis pieri pret karstajiem akmeņiem un tagad gulēja dīķmalā. Otrs tādā kā transā vāļājās pirts stūrī un visu laiku atkārtoja: "Sometimes I wish I were an angel..." Bet Ziedonis, iesprostots starp alkohola sviedros izmirkušajiem vīriešiem, sēdēja uz apakšējās lāvas un centās domāt par mākoņiem un sfēru mūziku.

Blakussēdētājs, kurš vakariņu laikā bija metis aci uz līgavaiņa māsu, apsēdās blakus Ziedonim un stādījās priekšā kā Egons. Viņa acu baltumi bija tikpat sarkani kā viņa seja.

– Eu, tu kaut kāds muzikants esi? – viņš jautāja.

– Nu, jā.

– Eu, a tu nevari mums uzspēlēt? Dziedātāji, redz, atlūzuši.

– Man pa ceļam samirka sintezators, – Ziedonis atzinās. – Nezinu, vai strādās.

Egons apdomāja Ziedoņa teikto, it kā tas būtu kas sarežģīts, un iesaucās:

– Eu, veči, vajag atnest no viesu nama klavieres!

– Nē, nevajag, – Ziedonis centās iebilst, bet dvīņi-nēsātāji apsēja ap gurniem dvieļus, iznesa ārā vectētiņu, kurš atkal jutās pārkarsis, un aizskrēja uz viesu namu. Sapratis, ka veči sāk par viņu izrādīt pārāk lielu interesi, Ziedonis nolēma slepus izlavīties ārā un pazust. Taču, kamēr viņš meklēja savas drēbes pārpildītajā priekškambarī, dvīņi jau bija pa koka celiņu atstūmuši klavieres "Rīga" un novietojuši tās uz pirts lieveņa. Sievietes, kuras pērās otrā pirtī, bija sastājušās dīķa malā un vēroja haotisko ainu.

– Trakie! Kam jums klavieres? – sauca līgava.

– Mums būs koncerts! Nāciet šurp, – Egons atsaucās.

Ziedonis bija atradis savas zeķes un steigšus centās tās uzvilkt kājās, bet dvīņi-nēsātāji pacēla tabureti, uz kuras viņš sēdēja, un aiznesa Ziedoni līdz klavierēm.

– Uzrauj kaut ko jautru, – kliedza dāmas.

– Davai, kaut ko dejojamu, – kliedza vīri.

No visām pusēm skanēja saucieni: "Lapas dzeltenās!" "Genovefu!" "Leģinoāru dziesmas!" Bet Ziedonis, kurš sēdēja pie klavierēm vienās zeķēs un kuram no visa šī ārprāta drebēja rokas, klusu noteica:

– Kaut jūs visi nosprāgtu ar savām genovefām, – un ar spēku izsita no taustiņiem smagu minora akordu. Tad vēl vienu, un vēl, un jau pavisam drīz viņš ārdījās pa oktāvām ar tādu sparu, ka uz dažām eiforiskām minūtēm aizmirsa, kur atrodas, un tumšajā naktī komētas un meteorīti švīkāja debesis, un vējā trīcošie koki izskatījās atdzīvojušies. Eiforija pārauga dusmās. Uz Bušu, uz Šarloti, uz dzimtsarakstu nodaļu, uz kāzu viesiem, uz intelektuāļu bariņu, kurā viņam nebija lemts iekļauties, un uz visu viņam zināmo pasaules daļu.

Tad viņš apstājās, ieturēja pauzi, iegāja pirts priekškambarī un atgriezās ar žabo ap kaklu. Saskatījies ar kūpošo vectētiņu, viņš turpināja rībināt taustiņus, līdz nosalušajās kājās sāka mesties krampji.

Publika aplaudēja. Ziedonis neatskatīdamies iegāja pirts priekštelpā. Viņš ietinās halātā, viebdamies iedzēra lielu malku šņabja, nogaidīja, līdz publika izklīst, un devās meklēt Šarloti. "Viss," viņš domāja, "tagad es diktēšu, kurš, kad un uz kurieni brauks."

– Eu, vecīt, tu esi pilnīgs psihs, – Egons mēģināja atzinīgi papliķēt Ziedonim pa plecu, taču viņš ar stipru un precīzu sitienu atvairīja Egona roku un devās otras pirts virzienā.

– Šarlote, – viņš kliedza, ieskatīdamies visās telpās pēc kārtas. – Šarlote, kur tu esi?

– Ziedonīt, tu? Nāc augšā, – atskanēja balss no otrā stāva.

Ziedonis uzkāpa pa kāpnēm. Vienā no guļamistabām dega gaisma. Viņš pavēra durvis. Šarlote stāvēja viņam priekšā, slapjiem matiem un manāmi iereibusi. Viņa ieskatījās Ziedonim acīs, uztaisīja pašķību grimasi, kas droši vien bija iecerēta kā pavedinoša, un nometa no pleciem halātu.

– Saki šoferim, lai darbina mašīnu. Mēs braucam mājās, – Ziedonis kategoriski sacīja.

– Nē, Ziedonīt, mēs paliksim pa nakti, – viņa atteica un aplika tuklās rokas ap Ziedoņa vidukli.

– Tūlīt pat izbeidz šīs vaļības! Saved sevi kārtībā un sameklē šoferi.

– Nē, nē, šovakar tu no manis tik viegli vaļā netiksi, – Šarlote smaidot noteica, pavilka Ziedoni aiz žabo, iegrūda gultā un ar visu savu svaru uzzvēlās viņam virsū. Ziedonis sakoda zobus un, vairīdamies no Šarlotes skūpstiem, ar abām rokām centās atkauties.

– Saņemies, klavierētāj, – viņa pavēlēja, – neesi lupata!

– Jā, saņemies! Esi vecis! – atskanēja balss no gaiteņa. Ziedonis un Šarlote atskatījās. Pie durvīm stāvēja abi mūziķi – viens no viņiem balstījās pret durvju stenderi, otram no apdedzinātās pieres tecēja smalka asins strūkliņa.




Aizēnojusi acis ar plaukstu, Šarlote skatījās vēsajā rudens saulrietā, kamēr pianists Igors, kurš tagad strādāja dzimtsarakstu nodaļā Ziedoņa vietā, spēlēja Raimonda Paula populārākās melodijas. Uz Ziedoņa bērēm bija ieradušies astoņi cilvēki no ielūgtajiem desmit – Bušs, kurš atrada Ziedoni karājamies pie vannasistabas griestiem, joprojām nespēja atgūties un trešo nedēļu no vietas dzēra, bet Ziedoņa tēvs, saņēmis ielūgumu, esot atbildējis: "Tā viņam vajag, pats mani gandrīz tur iedzina." Toties kaut kādā veidā par bērēm bija uzzinājis Marks Formans. Viņš ieradās ar nokavēšanos un visu laiku stāvēja nomaļus, bet, kad process bija galā un kaprači ar lāpstu kātiem iespieda smiltīs krustu, viņš pienāca pie Šarlotes.

– Cik dīvaini iepazīties ar cilvēku pēdējos mēnešos, – viņš teica.

– Man ir tāda sajūta, it kā mēs vispār nebūtu iepainušies, – Šarlote nopūtās un izšņauca degunu salvetē.

– Bet likās taču, ka viss būs labi, ne? Viņš stāstīja, ka beidzot esot izārstējies un jūtoties atvieglots.

– Jā, tā viņš teica, bet man bija aizdomas, ka tur kaut kas nav tīrs.

– Droši vien, – teica Marks. Viņš sabāza rokas mēteļa kabatās un paskatījās uz pianistu Igoru. – Un kas tas tāds? – viņš jautāja.

– Tas ir mūsu Igors.

– Kāds Igors?

– Pianists Igors. Viņš tagad strādā Ziedonīša vietā.

– Skaidrs, – Marks daudznozīmīgi pamāja, saknieba lūpas un nodūra galvu.

– Kas? Kaut kas nav kārtībā?

– Nē, nē. Viss okej, – teica Marks, ar kurpes purngalu rušinādams lapas.

Līdz ar krēslu iestājās vēsums. Igors nospēlēja melodiju līdz galam un uzmeta Šarlotei jautājošu skatienu. Viņa novilka ar rādītājpirkstu pār kaklu, dodot mājienu, ka jābeidz. Igors izslēdza sintezatoru un sāka atvienot vadus, bet Šarlote izvilka no kažoka kabatas pudelīti ar zilajiem graudiņiem un devās ar tiem apslacīt ziedu pušķus un vainagus. Lai nenozog.

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