Trafika Europe 12 - French Bon-Bons

Louis Armand

around at the familiar setting—white walls, white car- pet, white chairs. A white desk with penholders, type- writer, filing cabinet. White bookshelf with the usual waiting room magazines sagging out of it. A couple of embarrassed‐looking hydrangeas stood in a vase atop the bookshelf—the only things in the room that didn’t look like the life had been sapped out of them. ‘Well there’s a queue outside this butcher’s shop,’ the man’s voice said, ‘in Moscow. It’s cold. The shop doesn’t open ’til seven—it’s four in the morning and the queue’s already halfway around the block. They’re all huddled in their coats, feet stamping.’ The voice sounded like it was coming from just behind the door. There were footsteps going past. Gone. I stared in the general direct of nothing, waiting for Volta’s sec- retary to call me in. The voice went on: ‘At quarter past four, the door to the shop opens and the butcher comes out. The queue surges forward. The butcher holds up his hands. Comrade brothers! he says. If there are any zhids among you, go home. There won’t be any meat for you today. A couple of old women leave the queue, heads lowered resignedly, and walk off into the gloom.’ The clock on the wall was also white and read 9:48—the hour and minute hands overlapping. Only two more to kill. At 9:50 the preceding patient would leave Volta’s office by a separate door, bypassing the waiting room,


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