Mikhail Bulgakov the heart of a dog and other stories


HOUSE No. 4, ENTRANCE 6, 2ND FLOOR, FLAT 50, ROOM 7



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HOUSE No. 4, ENTRANCE 6, 2ND FLOOR, FLAT 50, ROOM 7

To tell the truth I've no idea why I crossed the whole of Moscow to get to this huge building. The document I had carefully brought with me from the mountain kingdom was valid for all six-storey buildings, or rather, for none.

The cage of the dead lift in entrance six. Got my breath back here. A door with two notices. One says "Flat 50". The other an enigmatic "F. Arts". Must get my breath back again. My fate is about to be decided.

I pushed open the unlocked door. In the semi-dark hall was a huge box full of papers and a grand-piano top. A room flashed past, full of women and wreathed in smoke. There was a short burst of typing. Silence. Then a deep voice said: "Meyerhold."

"Where's ASS Lit.?" I asked, leaning on the wooden barrier.

The woman by the barrier shrugged her shoulders irritably. She didn't know. The other one didn't know either. A long dark corridor. I groped my way along by guesswork. Opened one door — a bathroom. The next door had a scrap of paper nailed to it. Askew, one corner turned up. AS. Thank the Lord. Yes, ASS Lit. My pulse started racing again. Voices inside: mumble-mumble-mumble...

I closed my eyes and imagined the inside. This is what I saw. In the first room — a carpet, an enormous writing desk and a bookcase. Awesome silence. At the desk a secretary — probably one of the names I know from magazines. Then other doors. The section head's office. Even more awesome silence. Bookcases. Who's that sitting in an armchair? ASS Lit.? In Moscow? Yes, Maxim Gorky. The Lower Depths. Mother. Who else? Mumble-mumble-mumble. They're having a talk. Or perhaps it's Bryusov and Bely? (17)

I knock lightly on the door. The mumble-mumble stops to be followed by a hollow "Come in!" Then more mumble-mumble. I turn the knob and it comes off in my hand. I'm petrified. A fine start to my career! Breaking the door knob! I knock again. "Come in!"

"I can't!" I shout.

A voice comes through the keyhole:

"Turn the knob right, then left. You've locked us in..."

Right, left, the door gives slightly, and...







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