Here is the first quarter of the story.
I was pensively penning the outline of the inkstand's circular, quivering shadow. In a distant room a clock struck the hour, while I, dreamer that I am, imagined someone was knocking at the door, softly at first, then louder and louder. He knocked twelve times and paused expectantly.
"Yes, I'm here, come in..."
The door knob creaked timidly, the flame of the runny candle tilted, and he hopped sidewise out of a rectangle of shadow, hunched, gray, powdered with the pollen of the frosty, starry night.
I knew his face - oh, how long I had known it!
His right eye was still in the shadows, the left peered at me timorously, elongated, smoky-green. The pupil glowed like a point of rust....That mossy-gray tuft on his temple, the pale-silver, scarcely noticeable eyebrow, the comical wrinkle near his whiskerless mouth - how all this teased and vaguely vexed my memory!
I got up. He stepped forward.
His shabby little coat seemed to be buttoned wrong - on the female side. In his hand he held a cap - no, a dark-colored, poorly tied bundle, and there was no sign of any cap....
Yes, of course I knew him - perhaps had even been fond of him, only I simple could not place the where and the when of our meetings. And we must have met often, otherwise I would not have had such a firm recollection of those cranberry lips, those pointy ears, that amusing Adam's apple....
With a welcoming murmur I shook his light, cold hand, and touched the back of a shabby arm chair. He perched like a crow on a tree stump, and began speaking hurriedly.
"It's so scary in the streets. So I dropped in. Dropped in to visit you. Do you recognize me? You and I, we used to romp together and halloo at each for days at a time. Back in the old country. Don't tell me you've forgotten?"
His voice literally blinded me. I felt dazzled and dizzy - I remembered the happiness, the echoing, endless, irreplaceable happiness....