The working morning at the bank, as usual, began with an unrealistic number of calls and customers, but Alexander was already used to everything. In twelve years of work, you won’t get used to this. His boss looked into Alexander’s office.
— Sasha, I’ll send you a request now, look at everything on this loan agreement and let me know. It’s urgent.
— Good, — Alexander was waiting for the call of the work program, where the appeal from the boss was supposed to arrive, ignoring the client’s stories about how all banks would collapse in the near future. The program received a request.
Alexander copied the number and looked at the information, picked up the phone and dialed the number of the boss, still listening to the end of the bank employees.
— Boris Sergeyevich, I looked at everything, checked everything. The last installment was already 5 years ago, a couple of million overdue.
— Wow. Well, send me all this.
— I did. And why, if it’s not a secret?
— The bank has sued the borrower, we are collecting materials. Most likely, they will demand recovery by any means.
— Clearly, — Alexander’s gaze slid to the borrower’s data. — Wait, but it turns out that this is an old woman born in the 40s!
«Yes, that’s the way it is,» the boss replied gloomily and hung up.
A couple of months after this conversation, Antonina Vasilyevna counted the money for groceries for this week. We need good food because of her health condition, but a woman’s pension does not allow her to eat like this. Yes, and money for medicines… Expensive medicines, by the way.
The old lady sighed and went to the enameled cookie jar, in which she kept the money taken on credit six years ago. There is very little left, what will she do then? Antonina Vasilyevna didn’t even want to think about it. When she realized that she would not be able to repay the loan, she simply stopped making contributions.
The woman knew perfectly well how it would end in the end, but something else was more important to her. Antonina Vasilyevna took out a loan to pay for expensive medical procedures. Then she did not think that they could do this to her, she did not think that her own son would eventually betray her.
The old landline phone rang. Antonina Vasilyevna went to the phone and picked up the receiver.
— Hello? — Hello, Antonina Vasilyevna? an unfamiliar male voice rang out.
— Yes, it’s me, — the old woman sighed in resignation. She already knew these calls all too well. I knew that it was a call from the bank and asked to repay the debt.
— This is a bank employee, Alexander Speshov, you took a loan from the bank six years ago, — the man paused. — Do you know the amount of your debt?
«Yes, I know,» the old lady replied indifferently. She was a proud woman and wasn’t going to beg for forgiveness of her debt.
— You owe the bank more than five million rubles, — Alexander clarified just in case.
— Yes, that’s right.
— And you haven’t made contributions for 5 years.
«I don’t,» the old woman sighed.
— If you have financial difficulties, we could arrange for you to refinance or restructure the debt…
«I don’t need anything,» Antonina Vasilyevna interrupted him. – I will pay off the loan and the overdue interest.
Alexander was silent again for a short time. He didn’t know how to inform the old lady about the almost instantaneous court decision in her case.
«I’m very sorry, Antonina Vasilyevna,» he began. – But the bank decided to sue. The court issued a ruling. Your accounts are frozen, all funds are debited to repay the loan. And this week the bailiffs should come to you to describe the property. If nothing is done, the bank will revoke your rights to the apartment and sell it for repayment.
— what?.. – Antonina Vasilyevna froze. She had guessed that this day would come, but so quickly and so unexpectedly… And there’s no time to do anything at all.
— I suggest that you urgently try to restructure the debt. This should help to stretch the payments and reduce the interest for the penalty monthly.
— I am far from thirty years old for the bank to approve such procedures, — Antonina Vasilyevna smiled.
She knew perfectly well that the person who spoke to her wanted to help her, but it would all be a waste of time.
– I worked as an accountant for quite a long time, so I understand what I’m saying.
— Why did you stop making contributions? – Alexander could not stand it.
The old lady seemed to him very sensible, and he decided to violate the protocol of conducting telephone conversations.
«For family reasons,» the woman shrugged. She wouldn’t complain about her fate to a stranger from the bank on the phone. — Antonina Vasilyevna. Understand, I don’t wish you any harm. Do you have relatives you can live with?
— But you just said…
— Due to my family circumstances, I stopped making contributions, — the old lady emphasized.
Alexander sighed heavily.
— I strongly advise you to talk to the bailiffs, ask them for advice if you don’t trust me.
— And what is there to ask? It’s my own fault, I’ll pay for it myself. I’m going to live in a nursing home.
— It’s not free either. And all your accounts will be frozen.
— So I’ll live on the street, it’s summer now, — Antonina Vasilyevna shrugged her shoulders.
— Yes, you understand that this is not a joke! The bank will sell your apartment at the cadastral value, it is below the market! The funds will still not be enough to close the debt.
— What can I do, — the old lady replied indifferently. – It’s good that there is a funeral at the state expense.
— Come to my bank, we will discuss everything. We will find a solution to the problem.
— Yes, I would come, Alexander, if there was at least some other solution, — Antonina Vasilyevna sighed. – But it’s all useless. Thank you for your concern, I was very pleased. Goodbye.
The woman hung up the phone and slowly sank into a chair. She sat straight for a couple of minutes, as if she had swallowed a stake, as people say. And then she burst into tears, loudly, in a voice, not ashamed of her emotions. My heart was seized, my head was buzzing, blood was beating in my ears. Somehow Antonina Vasilyevna restrained a new fit of hysteria and went to the first-aid kit for corvalol, validol, kapoten for pressure and tincture of valerian.
That’s how she’s been living for the last few years. The woman called this combination of cheap medications «a remedy for tears», usually it helped a few minutes after taking it. Antonina Vasilyevna lay down on the sofa and put both palms to her head, trying not to think about anything. I should have called my son. Perhaps they will talk for the last time. The woman waited for the effect of the drugs, calmed down, got up from the sofa and went to the phone.
Of course, she knew her son’s number by heart, but for a long time she did not dare to dial familiar numbers. But at least I wanted to hear his voice. The old lady drooped completely, but still picked up the phone and slowly dialed the number. There were long beeps, it took almost a minute before someone answered at the other end of the city.
«I told you not to call,» a rough male voice said.
«Andreyushka,» the woman pronounced her son’s name in a trembling voice. She couldn’t hold back her tears, even though she drank a sedative. – Don’t hang up. Tell me how you’re doing. «It’s the same,» Andrei replied gloomily.
— How is Zhenya?
— You know perfectly well how Zhenya is! Andrey shouted.
He couldn’t stand this kind of talk. The old lady sighed heavily, trying not to show that she was crying.
— Andrey, we may be talking for the last time. I’m sorry for what happened.
— You know, if you hadn’t insisted on your decision that day, then maybe everything would have been different. You wanted to do that. And I shouldn’t have listened to you,» he didn’t seem to hear the inconsolability in his mother’s voice, because he hadn’t considered her a mother for a long time. «I don’t want to talk to you anymore.
— Son, wait!.. – but Andrey has already hung up. Antonina Vasilyevna burst into tears again.
All she blamed herself for in this life was for the very day when her son turned away from her. Andrey didn’t want to know his mother anymore, didn’t call her, answered her calls every six months and then only to remind her of her mistake. Andrey did not offer assistance in repaying the loan, did not even offer to pay for a nursing home, did not even ask if the loan was being repaid. He didn’t care. Antonina Vasilyevna has become an enemy for him, and he won’t lift a finger for the enemy.
A few days have passed. The doorbell of Antonina Vasilyevna’s apartment rang insistently. The old lady completely fell apart after talking with her son, she could not bring down the high blood pressure in any way. Although she didn’t really try. I took the pills that were still left, but I wasn’t going to go for new ones. The woman opened the door without even looking through the peephole.
— Hello. Bailiffs, — two men introduced themselves. – We were sent for an inventory of the property.
— I see, come in, — Antonina Vasilyevna opened the door wider.
She didn’t care about the property, the apartment, and the debts. She was only sorry that her son would never forgive her even before he died. It’s impossible to survive on the street when you turn 80 in a couple of months. The bailiffs did their job dispassionately, without even asking about anything. They left as soon as they finished, Antonina Vasilyevna had no idea what advice could be asked from these guys.
The next day, the woman still went to the store for a simple set of products, because even bread ran out. She bought milk, a loaf and cheap cereal for porridge without butter. Her doctor said that a woman needed vitamins, fruits, a variety of food, but … the old lady could hardly hold back tears. There were 4 thousand of money left, they might be able to rent a rest room or live in a nursing home for a couple of weeks. In any case, you need to save money. Although, what will these couple of weeks give her? While the apartment is for sale, you can stay in it.
She will be able to live on 4 thousand rubles for almost a month if she completely refuses to buy medicines, and why does she need them now? Antonina Vasilyevna was returning home, when she went up to her floor, she dropped a bag of groceries and grabbed her heart.
There was an inscription on the door in white paint: «Pay back the debt!» The inscription had just been made, the paint was still dripping from the letters. The bank sent collectors. The old lady sat down on the step and burst into tears. She knew how such people work, remembered from the nineties. She didn’t want pain, she didn’t want anything. She just wanted to live out her time in peace!.. Her heart was pounding violently, the old woman did not have enough air. She unbuttoned her light coat and tried to catch her breath, but she couldn’t do it. A neighbor on the landing came out to her moans.
— Antonina Vasilyevna! the man exclaimed and ran up to the woman.
«Seryozhenka, thank God,» the woman whispered with blue lips.
– My heart hurts a lot, could you call an ambulance?
— Of course, now, — Sergey pulled out his mobile phone from the pocket of his home pants and dialed the ambulance number.
While he was making the call, the old lady silently looked at her door. «Pay back the debt!»
— It’s ready, they’re coming now. My God, how did you manage to do that… Come on, hold on, I’ll help you get home,» Sergey fussed.
«Thank you, Seryozhenka,» the woman said. Sergey carefully helped the woman to get up, looked at the inscription on the door, but said nothing, opened the door, helped to get to the sofa.
Then he quickly went out, collected the groceries scattered on the landing and brought them to Antonina Vasilyevna’s apartment.
— Be patient a little, the ambulance is on its way, — Sergey opened all the windows, brought the old lady a glass of water.
He left the door open so that the doctor could quickly get into the apartment; it was not enough for the old Soviet lock to jam, like a month ago, when a man had to climb from the neighbors from above to open the door. He was worried about Antonina Vasilyevna, he knew that she had a big debt in the bank, he knew that her son had abandoned her, but he could not help.
Sergey worked as an ordinary electrician, barely made ends meet himself, and his wife and two children were still at home.
Everyone in the entrance loved Antonina Vasilyevna, she always treated all the children with sweets, baked delicious pies for the neighbors. But no one could help her deal with the bank debt; and she would not accept such help. Sergei felt ashamed that he could not help the old woman in any way, but in her eyes he saw gratitude and almost maternal love. Sergei clenched his jaw tightly.
«It’s because of your son, isn’t it?» Why don’t you sue? He decided to talk to the woman, he knew that it could upset her more, but he could not bear this grateful look for simply calling an ambulance.
— I can’t, Seryozha. He has his own reasons for this…
— no. You can’t do that to your own mother. You are not guilty of anything at all, you got into huge debts, now you have left a message on the door!.. And you just wanted to help, it’s not your fault what happened! It’s generally stupid to blame your mother for trying to help!
«Don’t shout, Seryozhenka,» Antonina Vasilyevna smiled through her strength. «He really has a reason to do this to me. I insisted on the operation…
— So what? It’s no one’s fault that this happened at all! You need to do something, you can lose the apartment. —
What can I do? Here, I’m going to die. And there is no need to do anything, let them live in peace. And I don’t have long left anyway.
— Don’t say that. We all love you very much,» Sergei sighed, gathering his thoughts. – So, if you still don’t want to sue, then the apartment will be taken away. Then you will stay with Masha and me for the time being. There is not enough space, but at least there will be a roof over your head. I’ll buy a sofa of some kind, you can sleep there, however, there is no separate room, but still better than nothing.
— Thank you, Seryozha… — tears welled up in the woman’s eyes. Her own son did not offer her anything, and here a neighbor wants to settle in. The heart seized with renewed vigor. – Don’t do anything, I’ll think of something. I won’t embarrass you.
— You will not embarrass anyone! I don’t even want to listen to other options. That’s it. I’ll move your things to us later.
Then the doctors knocked on the door jamb, an ambulance arrived. It was immediately decided to immediately hospitalize the woman, she was found to have a massive heart attack. Antonina Vasilyevna was put on a stretcher and carried to a car, where she was taken to the hospital with sirens. The acute period of the heart attack has not yet passed, and doctors had to fight for the old woman’s life.
The next day, there was some noise in the entrance. Sergei looked out through the peephole, Antonina Vasilyevna’s door was directly opposite. Near the old lady’s apartment, two big guys were standing and trying to get through, and then they somehow strangely grouped together and began, apparently, to crack the lock. Sergei could not stand it and abruptly left his apartment.
— Hey! What are you doing?! he shouted, trying to scare the men away. – I’ll call the police now.
— Yes, at least call the riot police, — one of the thugs replied. – Our guys don’t care.
— Oh, I see. Are we going back to the nineties? Sergei asked defiantly.
He had no chance against two big men in case of anything, but he could not allow Antonina Vasilyevna to be robbed or to arrange a pogrom in her apartment.
— Uncle, what do you want? – one of the two finally turned around.
«Send you both away, of course.
The men laughed, «Well, try it.
— Why did you come at all? You’re collectors, right?
— Well, let’s say, — the «jock» folded his massive arms tattooed even on his wrists on his chest and spoke like a notorious bandit.
— Bailiffs have already come to her.
— And then they also sent us, do you understand?
— Yes, wait a minute, Pouncequick, — another man interrupted his comrade.
– Uncle, did you say «to her»?
— Oh, so you still don’t know who you’re going to break into? – outraged
Sergey, but he grabbed this thread. Perhaps he will be able to dissuade these gentlemen from breaking into the old lady’s apartment.
— They gave us the address, we went, — the man named Pouncequick shrugged his shoulders.
— And they told you that an eighty-year-old pensioner lives here? –
Pouncequick’s impenetrable face stretched out in surprise. Hey, Oblique … – and a whole stream of words in gangster slang, the meaning of which Sergei did not understand.
– So where’s Grandma? — «Granny», — Sergey snorted with contempt.
– She was taken away by ambulance with a heart attack from your notes on her door.
— So, it turns out, where do we need to go?
— Do you want to get it there too? – the neighbor was indignant.
— Yes, we need to talk, since this is the case… You know, uncle, beating old ladies is not our profile at all, — «Well, thank God that at least old ladies are not their profile,» Sergey thought with relief.
— I’ll drive you. I’ll go with you. I need to visit her anyway.
— Then we’ll take you ourselves, we have a tool, you know, in the car.
«Yes, as long as it’s not an axe,» Sergei thought and agreed. Getting rid of these guys will not work anyway, but at least the meeting will be safer.
Antonina Vasilyevna was lying in the general ward. Her condition remained serious, but there were no indications for the intensive care unit. Of course, she was strenuously watched and very much did not want to let two «grandchildren» and one neighbor into her ward, but the men begged for a short meeting. Sergey was the first to enter with several packages in his hands.
— Oh, hello, Seryozhenka, — Antonina Vasilyevna smiled. – Thank you for saving the old woman.
— Come on, what thanks. Here, I bought you some fruit, I took some clothes from your house. You won’t be offended that you climbed the closet?
— What are you, what are you!.. Thank you so much. And you don’t need fruit, they feed you well here, you’d better give it to the kids.
— The kids have enough of everything. Antonina Vasilyevna, just don’t worry, I have two more visitors with me. It’s their doing that you ended up here. They want to meet you, talk to you.
— Ah, — the smile left the weathered lips of the old woman. – Collectors, right?
— yes. But they did not know that they were leaving their art on the door of the pensioner’s apartment. Maybe you should explain everything to them?
— Well, if they have come, then let them come in, — the old woman answered with resignation. Sergey nodded and went out into the corridor, where he asked the «grandchildren» to wait.
Scythe and Snitter cautiously poked their heads through the door of the ward, apparently even the bandits had at least some respect for old age.
«Oh, Mother, I’m sorry about that,» began Oblique, looking at the thin old woman from head to toe.
– We are with people like you … but never would … — the man somehow immediately lost all his severity. – My mother is your age, how did you happen to be on the blacklist?
— And here. I forgive you for the door, but how can I get rid of the paint now? I’m in the hospital, and the apartment will be put up for sale soon, if it hasn’t been put up yet.
— So tell us, Mother, what’s the problem?
— Yes, what’s the problem… Like everyone else, I have a problem. I took a loan, I didn’t pay it off, then there would be no money left for life, and I still had to do something. Now, there’s no choice left, I don’t know what I’m going to do. There is nothing to pay with.
— Then why did you take the money? – Snitter grumbled in bewilderment, for which he received a slap on the head from his partner.
— What’s it to you? Squint muttered. – We need to solve the problem here.
— That’s it! – exclaimed Sergey, who was silent. – Antonina Vasilyevna. Either you tell them yourself, or I will. You can’t do that anymore.
— No, Seryozha, I won’t say anything. And don’t you dare.
— Yes, they will not touch your son, but if after the apartment is sold, and the debt is not closed, and even you, God forbid, decide to leave us, that’s when they will come! After all, the debt will be inherited by Andrey. And your son, a healthy man, they are unlikely to visit in the hospital because of the inscription on the door.
«Uncle’s talking business,» Snitter mumbled and got a slap on the back of the head again.
— Mother, if you have something to tell, then you tell it. Your son is not on our list. Not yet. And if everything really goes as your neighbor described, then he will appear in the list.
— Oh, my God… what a fool I am!.. Antonina Vasilyevna covered her face with her hands and twitched convulsively.
Oblique immediately poured water into a cup.
– Thank you… — the woman drank a couple of sips of water and took a deep breath several times.
– I’m sorry, my nerves are no good at all.
— Don’t worry, Mother, you tell me, we may come up with something.
— Don’t touch your son.
— We don’t touch anyone without a list. And if it’s on the list, then goodbye.
Antonina Vasilyevna sighed again and took a couple more sips.
«I have a son,» the woman began. – He got married, everything was fine. His wife got pregnant. They had a boy, but with a severe hereditary defect. An urgent expensive operation was needed. The son and his wife didn’t have that kind of money. The doctors said that my grandson would not live up to a year with such a pathology. That’s when I went to the bank and took out a loan. The amount was not enough to operate on Zhenechka in Germany, even taking into account all the savings of the son and his wife, loans from friends and acquaintances. But in Russia, the operation was cheaper, just enough credit. I told my son that…» there were tears in her eyes. – That Zhenechka needs to be operated on now, because the doctors said it might be too late later!.. Yulia, my son’s wife, was against it and said that we should try to wait for someone else to help, organize a charity fund or something else… Andrey listened to my advice and decided that Zhenechka would be operated on in Russia. But the operation went wrong. And Zhenechka fell into a coma!.. Oh my God!.. He’s already six years old, and he’s still in a coma!.. – the woman could not stand it and interrupted her story, trying to calm down. – And Andrey says it’s my fault, I insisted on the operation in Russia, but there was no necessary equipment! And now, because of me, his son is in a coma all his short life! And every day expensive medications are injected into him, a home doctor is invited, a massage is done, so that he simply does not die! And it’s all my fault! – the old lady could no longer speak and cried bitterly. Sergei stroked her shoulder, trying to calm her down.
— Yeah … — after a few minutes, Oblique drawled. – And you still give them money, probably?
— And how not to give?! This is my grandson, my!..
— Do they even let you on the doorstep of the house?
— No … — the woman shook her head.
– Hey, Pouncequick, it’s necessary to grind. Mother, I’m sorry you were here because of us, we didn’t know where we were going. Usually we have all sorts of men on our lists, not pensioners. We won’t touch your son, I swear, although it’s worth it… But we won’t. Get well, Mother.
The collectors left the ward, then went down the stairs to the smoking room on the street.
«Gee,» repeated Oblique.
— What are we going to do now? Pouncequick asked his senior partner.
— How many cabbages do you have? On all accounts. — Well, there will be 6 lemons.
— I have 7. Do you remember what Grandma’s debt is? — Yes… 5 million 700 thousand.
— At 2,850 it turns out, — concluded Oblique.
– 2,350 will you give?
«I will,» Snitter replied decisively.
Some time has passed. Antonina Vasilyevna asked Sergey to call the bank and find out when she would be evicted. Sergei reluctantly complied with her request.
— Hello, my name is Alexander Speshov. How can I help you?
— Good afternoon. I would like to know something on behalf of my neighbor. She is now in the hospital, she has no mobile means of communication.
— We provide information about clients only to relatives or clients themselves.
— A very urgent matter. You see, she is being evicted from her apartment for debts. The bank is selling the apartment. The old lady is in the hospital. I need to at least move her things to myself. Antonina Vasilyevna, I ask you in a human way.
— I can’t help you, I’m sorry, — Alexander hung up and looked at the number on the caller ID, then quickly checked the databases of credit agreements. I didn’t believe it.
I rebooted and updated the databases, nothing has changed. Alexander took out his mobile phone and quickly wrote a message with brief information on the contract, sent it to the caller’s number.
Two strange «grandchildren» got into the habit of going to Antonina Vasilyevna’s ward. They have been coming for the third day. But they carry bags, leave chocolates for nurses, and grandma doesn’t complain. On the contrary, I am even glad to see visitors, blood and heart function indicators have improved from attention.
— Guys, hello! Antonina Vasilyevna broke into a smile.
— Hello, Mother, — Oblique smiled as friendly as he could. – And we come to you with goodies, here, take it.
— Come on, that’s enough already! – the old woman threw up her hands. – You would carry your family, and not help other people’s grandmothers.
«It won’t hurt,» Kosoy waved his hand. – Here, here are all sorts of fruits, here are pills, they found out from your doctor, since you don’t say it yourself, they bought some clothes here, and then your robe is quite old, look how it’s worn out.
— Guys. You have to beat the money out of me,» Antonina Vasilyevna slyly squinted
. — Yes, they’ve already been beaten up, — chuckled Pouncequick.
– And I brought you everything for knitting, Mother. And books. You probably like to read, don’t you?
«I love you, son, I love you,» Antonina Vasilyevna laughed. – Yes, but there is nothing to repay me for your kindness. Take at least here, I’ve knitted you a scarf for now,» the old woman pulled two knitted scarves out of the nightstand. Collectors exchanged glances.
— Mother, what are you!.. Oh, well, thank you! Well, well tied up!.. – smiled Oblique, who had sore throat every winter, which the old lady had heard about.
— Yes, thank you, Mother! Pouncequick said. He wasn’t sick, but he was still pleased. The phone rang at one of the collectors, Oblique answered without looking.
«Understood,» the man replied after a few short phrases.
– Well, that’s it, Snitter, it’s in the hat. Are we telling you?
«We’re telling you,» Snitter grunted contentedly.
— Mother, this is the case here. As soon as you are discharged, go home quietly, you have no more debt,» Kosoy informed me with satisfaction.
«We’ll wash the door,» the man quickly added.
— How… — the old lady blinked helplessly. – How is there no debt?..
— Yes, we chipped in with Snitter, and quickly closed everything.
Antonina Vasilyevna could not believe her ears, but then Sergei entered the ward, who joyfully told right from the threshold about his call to the bank and the subsequent message from some Alexander that the debt was fully repaid. The woman sat in prostration for several minutes, still not believing, and then burst into tears and could not calm down for a very long time. When she was able to speak, the first thing she did was thank her collectors, who had done more for her than her own son, thanked Sergei, who promised to take her in, said that she owed them for the rest of her life. Three men calmed the woman for a long time, laughing and joking. Everyone was happy. Collectors have done a good deed instead of their dirty work.