He was easy-going but incisive, as if everything was a joke,
including life, which actually was precious to him though
he did not show it and despised displays of emotion and
He was sensitive to others but had hard fists.
El was not kind but did not go looking for trouble, and
fought only worthy rivals, not picking on weak people.
If you asked him, “How’s it going?” he might answer,
“Dunno” or “As usual,” with no wish to elaborate.
He was not easily categorized.
I remember we were looking at windows one night, lit up in
the apartment block opposite, and El suggested we should
both choose a window with the light on, and if the first to
go out was mine, we would have to pardon a certain person,
but if it was El’s we would punish him, make him suffer a
bit for his sins. I won, but El ignored it and did his thing
Kostya was a designer, and when we told him about our
quirky wager, disapproved, but when I remarked about
Kostya and his scruples that I found people boring who had
not known real grief, El thought it over and said, “Bollocks”
(about my pronouncement). I saw once more that he was