Only now, in the car, when the city's districts, the bridge over the river, and the silent suburbs were already left behind, when there was the high-speed highway's concrete under the wheels instead of block-stone and asphalt, only now Mayer suddenly noticed that it was spring all around; that in the trees, which grew on the road's both sides, buds had already been opening, and a spicy sticky smell of the first coming out leaves was getting mixed up with the sod's smells; that in the forest, which sometimes almost reached the road, there was, for certain, a whole range of different birds singing, and that already quite soon, among the last year's packed leaves, there would be the first white flowers blooming. Mayer knew that it was the way it should be, and, surely, it was now in that carefree world, which was flashing behind the car's window, but he could not see the opened buds; because of the engine's noise, he did not hear the birds; while air, that was rushing into the car through the lowered window, was bringing no smells, but only coolness. He also knew that in two hours he should be accompanied into one of studies at the low-key grey town house, encircled with the forged figured fencing, on one of silent lanes in Salzburg, where on the table, in the prepared files, the papers would already be ready; that tonsured smiling Hossler would rise towards him and take order with coffee, as it was only old Johannes, Hossler's aide-de-camp, who could make it in such a magic way maybe, due to his years, spent in Vienna, and a hectic, but short romance with Agnessa the confectioner, badgerly Johannes would recall it even now There would also be brown sugar, strudel, and air cakes

The rain, which unexpectedly spilled almost from the clear sky, there was only one tattered cloudlet there, suddenly stopped. Mayer lowered the once lifted window again. The highway, which became wet, and the wet tires' rubber were tickling his ears He stopped the car. The highway was empty. From both sides, the banks lowered towards him. Having clambered up the nearest one, Mayer found himself in the forest Still lingering in his ears, the noise of the engine, the road, and the counter wind silently disappeared somewhere, and absolutely other sounds filled everything with themselves. That was right birds were chirping aloud, the last year's packed leaves and grass were rustling under his legs, quickening smells of the damp ground were getting mixed up with the smell of the first, already fresh-blown leaves, and it even seemed that behind the trees, the white flowers glimpsed And another, far-off day rose before his eyes Somewhere here, in these places, when there was neither that speedy highway, nor many-many other important and necessary things, when Mayer could only have a motorcycle, in the same early spring, he and Hoffmann got stuck on that motorcycle in the middle of the broken wood road. On the eve, the rain had not stopped for some days, and there was impassable dirt. Then, they were young and cheerful, and that adventure only tickled them. After common efforts, the motorcycle was freed, and they dragged out on the dry, but still cold ground. Birds were chirruping in the same way, the sky was of the same blue color, and life was spreading far all around. They smoked, laughed, Mayer had Elsa, Hoffmann had Heidi, they both knew that their fun-loving girl-friends were waiting for them, and that the free evening was to come soon

Mayer had a draw. He did not like lighters and still preferred matches, though they were less practical. Since those far-off times, Hoffmann had greatly forwarded in rank, Mayer was sincerely happy for him and strongly regretted that their relations had cooled for no discernable reason. There was already no former confidence. All began to change at once after Hoffmann suddenly and without any distinct reasons parted with Heidi. She left soon, and neither Mayer, nor Elsa knew anything about her any longer since then It was time to go. Mayer walked to the car. Recently, he frequently visited Salzburg about business. Since that time, it became absolutely simple Reich was soldering with new territories, and any ridiculous formalities disappeared. Once Elsa even managed to come with him together, as having spent all her life in Munich, she had been nowhere else. That day, she left her children in charge of her sister

Igor Savchenko

Minsk, February 2001

Russian-English translation: Andrej Bursau