Kelvin Point Shadow

    The prologue was here .

    The alumni meeting was planned in a restaurant, which, fortunately, was not far from my house. This is important - I do not drink anywhere so much as at a graduate meeting. If I go far, I just won’t get to the house.

    After graduation, I only saw the guys with whom I studied at the institute at graduate meetings. In life, we don’t intersect with them at all - do not consider the presence of friends in social networks as an intersection? That is why these meetings become an amazing opportunity for me.

    Somehow I came across one movie about two friends who were afraid to go to a graduate meeting. It seems that Lisa Kudrow played there ... Yes, “Romy and Michelle at the alumni meeting”, it seems so. Over 10 years, their achievements were zero, and the girls passion as they wanted not to be an empty place. More precisely, do not seem. Who knows what happened to the rest of the rest? So they came up with a legend: as if they had invented glue for paper stickers.

    I don’t know why they were afraid of this meeting. I'm not afraid. For me it’s like an outlet, for one simple reason: they don’t know me there. And it makes no difference to me that they will all think of me. More precisely, not so: what they think, then okay.

    It's like going to interviews - can you tell yourself any heresy about yourself, no one will check? And if they check it, then it’s okay - they just won’t hire. I already know that they won’t take it, otherwise I would not stick out in its place.

    I just go to this meeting and get drunk. I am not interested in how anyone is doing, who will sing a song about their successes in the business or personal sphere. I know that they are the same as Robert. That is, like me.

    Any of them can wear any mask, and amuse themselves at this vanity fair. There will also be listeners - those who, for some unknown reason, think that they need to be themselves. Nonsense. It’s not interesting to be yourself. I am myself every day. And I don't like a damn thing about myself. I do not want to be myself.

    We all just do what we try not to be ourselves. No one likes being yourself. In life, we are boring, gray, and useless. And we want to be bright. No, to be again ... Not to be, but to seem. We want people around us to consider bright. To lick us, as in that fairy tale about Cinderella - the famous film "Pretty Woman".

    Therefore, we like to go to supermarket chains, live in hotels as expensive as the budget allows, fly in business class and generally everything called the words “VIP” or “Premium”. There we are clients, and we are obliged to lick. And if they don’t, then we will fill the Internet with angry comments about the bad attitude, rudeness and unwillingness to help us - to us, clients!

    We are not confused by all the virtuality and far-fetchedness of this game. Here I am a man. I sat in the cabin of a business class plane - I am still a person. The stewardess came up - she is also a man. I’ll start to act up that I want not brandy, but brandy or bourbon, and still remain a man, like a stewardess. After all, I could meet her, for example, in a supermarket, and start acting up there? Would she listen to me? Not. And on the plane - forced. Because the game is like that.

    Though it sounds negative, it makes no difference to me. I will go to the alumni meeting and play the game. For at least one evening I will not be gray, boring, disgusting Robert, but the one I want. Who do I want to be? Hmm ...

    They say that if you know the answer to this question, then everything in life will work out. There will be some goal there, understanding - what is right and what is not, what actions are needed to achieve the goal, and which ones only interfere and pull back.

    I've lived for 34 years and have no idea who I want to be. Of course, if Agent Smith suggested that I, as Cypher in The Matrix, choose any fate for myself, I would come up with something. Or not? By the way, an interesting question ... What would I choose? Probably some neutral life of a millionaire, or even a billionaire, so as not to miscalculate? Like, there will be money, and there I’ll figure it out, who I really want to be? So in life, if you ask me, or anyone else that is missing - will they still call money? Need to think…

    Or rather, to dream. What else remains like me? Dream and build someone from yourself. At work, in the family, on the Internet, at a graduate meeting. By the way, here is the restaurant.

    I pulled up a little, adjusted my T-shirt, put on a rotten smile and went inside. A girl greeted me cordially in the lobby, apparently the restaurant manager, or whatever they are called. Without falling out of the role, I slightly expanded my smile.

    - Good afternoon! - the girl said in a very pleasant voice. - Please remind your name.

    It's like my name says something to you, baby. Although I am Robert, but not De Niro. Here is a great moment to play another game. Fun joke to impress her. Something like "my name is too famous to be called." She smiles politely, or even laughs - how do they have etiquette to react to moronic jokes?

    - Robert Adams. - I decided to do without games.

    The girl smiled again, lowered her eyes and, apparently, began to look for me on the list of invitees.

    “All right, everything is fine, Mr. Adams.” She said finally. - Come on, I will accompany you.

    The girl came out from behind her small counter and headed for the hall. Trying not to lose my image, I proudly paced next. The hall was simply huge - probably seven hundred seats.
    In the middle is a rather large dance floor, next to a low stage. Some musicians were unpacking there.

    The tables were located around the stage, and at a distance, there was even a second floor, more precisely - a balcony, like in a theater, only around the perimeter of the restaurant. Who had the idea to rent such a huge room? Or will the meeting be for the whole stream? Yes, with wives? It’s good that I didn’t take mine with me ... Although, she didn’t offer it. And I - even more so.

    Part of the tables were already taken. At first, I tried to make out familiar faces, but nothing worked. Firstly, as it should be, a cozy atmosphere reigned in the restaurant, in other words, it was dark. Secondly, I have not seen all these people for several years, and even in bright light it’s not a fact that I could find out.

    - I beg! - the girl stopped near the dance floor and waved her hand around the hall. “Anything else to help you, Mr. Adams?”

    “So, this is ...” I was a little confused by the unexpected stop. - Where to sit?

    - There were no requirements in this regard. It turns out that each guest chooses a place for himself. Anything else to help?

    “Ah, no, thank you ...” I continued to mutter, then I packed up, returned to my image and said bravely. - Thank you very much!

    - I am glad to help you. - the girl gave me another radiant smile and hurried to her workplace.

    I wonder when they are trained, give any classification of smiles? And situations where they should be used? This one is radiant, this one is condescending, and this one is reassuring, still neutral, persistent, like a stewardess, sweet, charming, attractive ... Damn, the programmer’s mind went back to the wrong steppe. Where to sit?

    Once again, I looked around in fear that someone would call me, and I would have to hurriedly remember his name. Fortunately, no one paid attention to me. Sincerely rejoicing in this, I moved to a table located in the farthest corner, under the balcony, far from the stage, and even closed from prying eyes by a large tree, like a ficus.

    Not only my desk was free, but also a few people around. Sitting down, I was convinced that it was practically not noticeable to others. Eh, it would be nice if among those present there would no longer be such clogged drunk introverts, then I would do without neighbors.

    The table was already set - there were some snacks, salads, olives in small plates, but most importantly - the bottles. I came for their sake. Occupation in the next few minutes appeared by itself.

    I immediately set the champagne aside - I never loved him. There, after a couple of seconds of deliberation, a vermouth unknown to me went to liquor. What is left? Whiskey, of course. Yes, not some, but my beloved Jack.

    And then a very difficult task appeared: is it already possible to drink? As luck would have it, the remoteness of my table did not allow me to consider how others deal with this matter. I began to think hard, make plans for an intelligence operation — maybe run out, have a smoke, and collect information along the way? No, some nonsense ... Well, to hell with him. In the end, it’s Jack - if I break the rules, I’ll just pay the bottle.

    I chose a suitable glass, poured half and, without ceremony, threw it into my mouth. Yes, Jack is good. The smell is not very pleasant compared to other brands, but the taste is amazingly light, without too much astringency and a touch of alcohol. The charm. Pour some more.

    I did not overturn the second glass; I tried to savor it. He took a sip, held a burning liquid in his mouth, but could not endure for a long time, and swallowed. Not soda, though. Finishing off the rest, I threw my head back a little.

    - Hi Robert.

    From surprise I choked and began to cough. Somehow he put the glass on the table so as not to drop it - the cough was brutal. I couldn’t open my eyes and look at the person who called me.

    - Do not die of zeal. I heard through a cough. It seems to be said it was very friendly.

    Finally, I managed to cope with misfortune. Rather, an effort of will. So with a runny nose it happens - you don’t seem to cough anymore, and in the throat you still feel some annoying rubbish, now and then causing a slight spasm. I opened my watery eyes and saw Trevor.

    He had already taken the chair opposite and was looking at me with interest. He was dressed as if he were going to the same store with me - a T-shirt, jeans and sneakers. A nice face, hair with a little gray in the temples is cut short, and the famous smile, as if speaking - hey dude, relax, everything is fine, I came in peace! This smile has always acted magically on me, and today was no exception. I smiled back, because I could not otherwise.

    “Trevor ...” I said, feeling like a sincere idiot who saw the beloved star of show business in the supermarket.

    “Good to see you, Rob.” I don’t remember when we last met?

    - Yes, I too ... Ten years, probably?

    - I think, yes. Well, the time has come. How are you?

    At first, of course, I wanted to say "about nothing." Then he remembered that he was going to appear at this holiday as someone. Then he realized that he never came up with a legend.

    - Yes, as usual. I shrugged indifferently.

    - About nothing?

    - What? - I'm a little confused.

    - Yes, so I ... Well done, that I came.

    - Oh, thanks. This is my first like today.

    - What?

    - Well, like. Nothing of approval. For which the whole Internet is trying.

    “I see you're in a good mood.”

    - Yes, what is it ... Okay, I won’t listen to me if I start whining. How are you, Trevor?

    - Perfectly.

    - You forgot to add "as always." - I smiled.

    What is there to fantasize - Trevor is always doing well. I still at the institute never ceased to be surprised. I have a blockage with exams - Trevor is already with the highest marks in his pocket. For all the years of study, I have never seen him in exams, lectures and seminars. I don’t have money - Trevor is always ready to lend, and to give back is not necessary. I'm Depressed - Trevor drags me to a party or a movie. I get so drunk that I can’t walk - Trevor drags me on himself. If it weren’t for Trevor, I wouldn’t be sitting at the alumni meeting, because he wouldn’t be.

    - What are you doing? - I jumped from immersion in my own thoughts.

    “It's easier to find than not doing.” - laughed Trevor.

    I was tempted to joke about his self-confidence. If it weren’t Trevor, I would not have restrained. But this is Trevor.

    - Flowers, I think, not involved. - the same irony crept into my words.

    - I'm doing it. Trevor nodded. - I have a winter garden. Kaifovy, by the way. In Norway.

    - Where? - I, as a true representative of my country, did not know much about geography.

    - Norway. This country is in the north of Europe.

    “There ...” I said, starting to feel an unpleasant phantom feeling in my stomach.

    “Come visit Kelly and the children for a week.” True, I’m not often there, but for the sake of the week I’ll move my plans.

    It was said so sincerely, without pretense and arrogance, that I got a lump in my throat as if from a teary movie about a dog. The phantom feeling in my stomach turned into a real one. For some unknown reason, I was scared.

    “Why do you need a house in Norway?” My voice trembled a little.

    - This is my hobby.

    - Norway? Or a house?

    - At home.

    - In terms of? Do you have a lot of them?

    “Yes, about twenty, or thirty.”

    “Is that all in Norway?”

    - Of course not. - Trevor smiled.

    This smile again. Not a shadow of mockery, grin, and coquetry. He smiled like a father reassuring a little daughter, frightened by a nightmare. And I am that little girl. I buried myself, disappeared, disappeared into that smile. I'm not scared anymore. Lord, how easy ... I can just talk!

    - Where else?

    - Alaska, Hawaii, Switzerland, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Egypt, Emirates ...

    Trevor kept on listing, but I stopped hearing him. I felt uneasy again. I wanted to leave, run away, forget and never remember. Trevor ... Trevor, why did you come? Why are you telling me this? I know for sure that you do not want to offend and humiliate me. But you are doing great. Norway? Switzerland? A bunch of houses? Why are you telling me about this? After all, you are sitting right in front of me. You, alive, real, and not some TV channel that talks about the life of the successful and rich.

    - ... China, Mongolia, Japan, Australia, Russia, Georgia. So, he didn’t seem to forget anything ... - Trevor looked up at the ceiling, trying to remember.

    - Russia?

    - Well yes. What?

    - Yes, so ...

    - Great country, by the way. I have a business there and several social projects.

    - What kind of business?

    I asked questions, feeling just awful. I’m a small child, I broke my knee, roared, but familiar guys came up to me, I quickly wiped my tears and try to talk to them and pretend that everything is fine with me so as not to drop my face.

    - Aichi company, development of services. There are a lot of talented programmers, but not everyone knows English or are ready to move. So I organized a company right there.

    - What are they developing? - Thank God, I can talk about at least one topic without feeling like complete shit.

    “Are you really interested?” Trevor squinted.

    - Well, in general terms. I waved a circle in the air. Apparently, this circle symbolized those very common features.

    - Basically - integration services for business. Type of social networks of interaction within industries and beyond.

    - What is it like?

    - In Russia, it is very bad with business automation, and especially with integration. There is some local vendor that has flooded the market, but forgot about the existence of the Internet. As a result, each business sits and boils in its own juice. They are held by a bunch of people who integrate companies manually - suppliers, contractors, buyers. Prices, needs, stocks, peers, and so on - everything is managed manually. Well, I came up with a social network for business.

    - What? I mean - what exactly did you come up with?

    - Well yes.

    - Are you a programmer, or what?

    - Including.

    - How is that - including? Are you a business owner?

    - Yes.

    - And the programmer?

    - Yes.

    - Practitioner?

    - Yes. I love to write code, so far.

    - Once “including”, then who else?

    - Another analyst when it comes to business. Manager is also a profession, if you deal with the quality of management, and not just yell at people. Still - an entrepreneur. Design engineer. A bit of a designer. Marketer. HR Any activity where there is creativity.

    - And what is creativity in HR? Do you have interviews? Account cards?

    - Of course not. Inspire people. Social programs are designed to make employees proud of the company they work for. Help solve personal and family problems. Send to study in other countries. Many things.

    - Wait, this is not HR ... Girls usually sit there and shift papers, well, corporate events are held.

    - I'm not talking about the position of HR, but about the essence of the profession. The essence is interesting to me, but I do not sit there all the time.

    - But as?

    - So. When there is a need or desire. I’ll come, for example, to a Russian company, go through the office - I see that everyone is rotten. I’m sitting in the office for a couple of days, I’ll get a laptop, I’ll start to write something - a code, or a book - and I’m listening to it. In the workspace, in a cafe, in the parking lot, I bring the guys to bowling. And I'm listening. Usually a couple of days is enough to understand what or who the problem is.

    - So what?

    - What "and what"?

    “Well, what's the usual problem?”

    - In managers, as a rule. They put pressure on people just to put pressure. Squeezing out of them projects, indicators, some figures, believing that it is important to me.

    - Is not it so? This is business ...

    - Business is not "come on, come on, faster, more, why are you poking around in the ass!". Business is a pleasure. For everyone who is connected with him and with him. Well, I decided so for myself.

    - And the profit?

    - What is the profit?

    “Isn't profit the main thing?”

    - Profit is important. Trevor nodded. “But she is not in the first place.” More precisely, it is no more important than people. If you treat employees like cattle, then you will have to worry about profits. Moreover, you alone. And when people and the atmosphere come first, the employees themselves will worry about profit, even more than me.

    - How is that? Why? Did you zombie them, or what? What for them your profit?

    “She's not mine.” - Trevor smiled. - In all my businesses, I share it with people. Half to me, half to them. Of my half, I invest in development.

    - Wait, how do you share the profit between the employees? What is the distribution base? Salary? Position? Any contribution?

    - Not. Trevor squinted mysteriously, paused a moment, and finally said. - I’m equally divided between everyone.

    - That is, the cleaning lady receives as much as the director?

    - Yes.

    “And how ... Well, how do they look at this?” Managers

    - Poorly. Therefore, I have few managers. And there are more than enough people who are happy, joyful, enthusiastic about their business. Especially in countries where income is critical.

    - For instance?

    - Well, in the same Russia. If a programmer, on average, earns two thousand dollars there, then I have five, or six, up to ten.

    - They probably adore you?

    - Not. Trevor shrugged. - First, some people appeared, tried to create a cult of my personality. My portraits were hung in classrooms, books were kept on tables — mine, again. I don’t know where they got such love from hanging portraits ... I stopped all this. I gathered people and said that this is just such a business model, experimental, and I don’t need their snot and kisses. Only quality work, interest and creativity. And let them not worry about income.

    I shut up, not knowing what else to ask. I ceased to understand Trevor’s train of thought. He's probably kidding me. I decided to play a trick on an old friend. Maybe he chose this role for himself this evening?

    I did not like this thought, but it somehow explained what was happening. Yes, that is right! Trevor, old rascal, played me! And I, like a fool, was seduced - I’m sitting, I hung my ears, that look and saliva will flow.

    These thoughts made me even a little better. Thank God! All this is nonsense! He is just like me! Nothing! He builds himself from unknown to impress! And to whom? On me, a gloomy old moron! From this thought it was even pleasant in my soul. Maybe I’m not so empty place, since I found a person in this world who spends time and energy on how to please me?

    Trevor noticed a change in my mood. I expected him to be upset, but there it was - Trevor smiled even wider and, for some reason, reached into his pocket for his smartphone.

    “I know what you're thinking.” - Trevor was looking at me, and his fingers ran around the screen of the device. - I will show you now.

    - What you'll show? I asked with irony.

    - Go here.

    I stood up impressively, slowly walked around the table, stood behind Trevor's shoulder.

    - Look. - he jabbed a finger at the screen.

    The browser on the smartphone showed the site of a company.

    “I don't understand a damn thing, Trevor.” I said arrogantly. - What is it, Cyrillic?

    - Oh, damn it, for sure. - Trevor caught himself, sharply scrolled the page, switched the language. - Here look.

    - Where to? - all the same tone I asked.

    - Well here. Owner of company.

    “So ...” I pretended to read myself in order to gain some time. I saw two words at once - Trevor Jones.

    “Wait, now ...” Trevor was already driving something into the address bar.

    I felt uneasy again, as if the veil had fallen from my eyes. When something happens before your eyes - bewitching, or frightening, and most importantly - not real, you start to think: maybe this is a dream? Or a raffle? Now they’ll all stop and say: smile, you are being shot by a hidden camera! But time goes on, events develop, and before you, slowly, it comes to you: this is reality. You are not sleeping. Unpleasant feeling. Hope faded away.

    - Here look. - Trevor jerked my sleeve. - This is the site of my Chinese company. See the name?

    - I see. I muttered mechanically, although I did not look at the screen.

    Unable to stand any longer, I returned to the table. The legs were cottony, perspiration appeared on the forehead - either from Trevor and his endless sites, or from whiskey. By the way, whiskey ...

    “Trevor, will you have a drink?” I asked quietly and reached for the bottle.

    - Why not. - he shrugged, picked up the first glass from the table and set it closer to me. - Come on.

    - What are we drinking for? I asked when I filled the glasses.

    “For you, Robert.” - without hesitation, Trevor answered.

    Well, for me, so for me. I drained the glass in one gulp and returned it to the table with a loud sound. For me ... Why does this sound like bullying? What does he mean again? He told me about his wonderful life, in order to emphasize the contrast with mine ... I don’t know how to call this mine mine ... My ... Being? Too pathetic ...

    Existence. Yes it is. Like a stone, or dog poop on a path in the park. They also exist, even bring some benefit. You can hammer a nail with a stone if you don’t have a hammer at hand, or break someone’s head off.

    If you collect a lot of these stones, you can build a house. Probably, the owner of the company in which I work thinks so. He is a creator, like Trevor, and we are stones. And he gave at least some sense to our existence - he built a house. To myself. And we give him shelter, protect him from wind and rain, and rejoice from our whole stone soul. Especially those who were lucky enough to be from the inside of the wall, and look at the Master.

    As he eats, sleeps, plays with children, heats himself by the fireplace. And to amuse myself with the thought that I’m not just being covered with mold here - there, for them, these wonderful people. I do not exist in vain. Maybe I even live.

    Has Trevor really become so? Unpleasant, but I want to believe it. Otherwise, I do not understand. Otherwise, I lost my last friend in my life.

    - Hey, what are you doing? - Trevor's voice sounded worried notes. - Whiskey got into the wrong throat?

    - A? - I jumped, as if from a microsle driving. - What you said?

    “Yes ...” Trevor smiled and got up from his chair. - I'll go for a walk, there are things. Do not run away, we'll talk more. It seems to you a guest.

    Trevor walked around the ficus on the left, and Tracy appeared to the right. Warden Tracy. The eternal warden.

    - Rob, hi! - Tracy threw up her hands and spread them around. Apparently going to hug with me.

    What I honestly did not want at all. But I made an effort on myself, got out of the chair, smiled and wrapped my arms around Tracy's shoulders. A stereotyped idea was born in my head that years did not spare anyone, and now our headman became more voluminous, but I stopped short. Nonsense, I had never hugged her before, and I have no idea if Tracy grew in girth or not.

    - Why are you alone here? - Tracy sat in the chair from which Trevor retreated.

    - Why you are alone? - I scornfully twisted my face. “I'm with Trevor.”

    - With whom? - Tracy frowned, but after a second she smiled again. “Well, okay, I won’t remember everyone.” Well, come on, tell me!

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