We sit in a restaurant on Nevsky. The sun brought too many guests to the party of today. We are hiding from it, them. Outside, a man plays guitar.
“I almost worked here,” Y tells me.
I look around. It is a nice place, respectable.
“Why didn’t you?”
Y nods at a waitress.
“The uniforms. They are ugly, uglier than money.”
I look at the waitress; gray, lifeless, carrying pasta. I shrug.
I look back out the window at the man playing music. He is bald, wearing sunglasses. A woman, who might once have had a song written about her, dances. Her arms boogie, her legs do the twist. She is wearing leather.
“She’s having fun,” I say. Y looks out. She nods.
A child has come stumbling into view. The woman plods around him, as rhythmic as a falling brick. The child backs away from her. His hair is curly. His mother stands close, tapping away at her phone.
The woman has a beer. She is singing into it. It splashes on her onto her leather jacket. A homeless man is leaning against a nearby sign. He is wearing a blue track suit. He is drunk. He pulls down his pants, he scratches, then falls.
The child dances, the way children do; wobbling, arms up. The woman is laughing, trying to clap, spilling beer on the Mother’s shoes. The child dances, bold, gets closer to the guitarist. I can hear his laugh, even though the music is loud and the glass is thick.
The woman closes her eyes, she moves with the day, with the crowd, with the sun. Her leather jacket hangs open. She almost trips on the hand of the homeless man.
Our food comes–something Asian, and a cider. I thank the waitress. She smiles, her lips are gray. I take the Cider first and look back through the window.
The guitarist has bent down, playing louder. The child dances, reaching out, touches the guitar. He pulls his hand back, scared. Then, he smiles.
The woman has stopped dancing; out of breath, she lights a cigarette. The Homeless man snores; a good Samaritan has pulled up his pants. The Mother is on her phone.
The child dances.
“Cute kid,” I say.
“Yeah,” Y agrees.
We start eating.