Ilya did not have time to ring the doorbell, as the metal door swung open, and an elderly woman in a bright satin robe screamed from the threshold :
— Come quickly! Where are you? Go to the kitchen soon! Well, why are you frozen?
— I’m sorry, but I am… Ilya started to say, still hiding a bouquet of flowers behind his back, but the strange woman had already disappeared into the depths of the apartment.
Ilya shrugged his shoulders, timidly entered the apartment, put flowers on the bedside table, pulled off his shoes and walked straight in his socks to the voice of the hostess, who kept talking and talking non-stop.
— How many times can I call your office?! I already wanted to call the rescuers. Nobody cares about us.
When Ilya finally appeared in the kitchen, the hostess poked her finger at the faucet over the sink, from which water was flowing in a thin trickle.
– Look what’s here! The faucet won’t close. It’s a real flood. So much water has flowed away while you were away. And we have a charge on the meter.
Ilya wanted to say that she was confusing him with someone, but suddenly decided to make a little joke.
«Oh, I think I forgot my tools in the office,» he said in a feigned tone.
— I knew it! The woman exclaimed angrily. — I thought that such a clumsy guy would come, all in a suit, look at my faucet and say: «I’m not ready to work today.» But you can’t outwit me!
The woman reached into one of the kitchen cabinets, and for some reason took out a toolbox from there.
— Here, work. This is what’s left of my hubby. How many times has this set helped me out.
Ilya had to take off his jacket, roll up his shirt sleeves and start repairing the mixer. It’s good that he performed this manipulation at home more than once — at the request of his mother.
— What’s your name? — he asked busily, cutting off the common water.
«Enna Lvovna,» the woman replied, watching him closely as he worked.
— And when will your daughter come?
— And how do you know about your daughter? – the hostess immediately became alert. – It’s like your first time in our apartment.
— I know, here… Ilya answered vaguely, rattling the wrenches. — You have a beautiful one.
«You saw her, then?» the woman chuckled. – I suppose you admired her in the yard? You noticed that correctly. She’s a beauty. She took after me. But don’t open your mouth at her. Do you know how many husbands she’s had already?
— How much? Ilya smiled.
— Five grand. However, she has only been legally married to two. And with the others, she just lived like that…
«Are you kidding?» — Ilya froze and stared at the hostess. He did not know such details about his beloved yet.
— Why would I joke? Enna Lvovna shrugged her shoulders. – Do you know what kind of men they were?! Oh-ho-ho! Rich, it’s just awful. All as one – the elite. So, I am considered an elite mother-in-law in our house. That’s what my neighbors sometimes respectfully call me.
— Is it really true? – Ilya still continued to tinker with the mixer, although his mood dropped below the baseboard.
— What a truth! – the hostess proudly boasted. – And what gifts they gave me! Look, do you see how many expensive appliances are in the kitchen? And not only in the kitchen. They bought it all. If I ask for anything, they drag it. As long as I smiled, and sometimes let them stay here for the night.
— And your daughter, is she living with one of them now? Ilya asked cautiously.
— Yes, no. They, for some reason, all disappear somewhere. She hasn’t lived with anyone for more than six months. Because fickle men have gone now, that’s what I’ll say. And my Lenka, well done, is not worried. Now I’ve found some fool for myself again, someone’s son. But he’s not very rich. So… a trifle, in a word. Lenka says I’m going to hang out with him a little bit until I lassoed the rich guy again. Today, by the way, she should bring this groom here to get acquainted. So you go ahead, work boy, do good to society.
— It’s already done. Here you just had to pull up in one place. – Ilya hastily opened the common water, checked the faucet. – You have a very high-quality mixer.
— This is also Lenkin’s boyfriend brought. – Enna Lvovna brightened her face. – Well, that’s it, that’s it. I hope you don’t have to pay anything? After all, your salary is very good now. Look at the jackets you’re wearing. Because your superiors are taking a lot of money from us, ordinary citizens!
— No, of course, I don’t need anything…
Ilya didn’t even wash his hands. He rather grabbed his jacket, hurried into the hallway, put on his shoes there and almost rushed out of the apartment like a bullet.
Half an hour later Lena came.
«Mom,» she shouted from the hallway. – And why are the flowers lying here? Why aren’t they in the vase?
— Who? – Enna Lvovna hurried into the hallway. – Indeed, flowers. I didn’t notice them blindly. It’s dark here.
— Mom, is Ilya here?
— What kind of Ilya?
— Well, my Ilya.
— Yours hasn’t been there yet. Why, weren’t you supposed to come together?
— Together. But I was very late, I called him and told him to go up to the apartment and meet you.
— Yes? – Enna Lvovna thought about it. – No, yours definitely wasn’t.
— And who was?
— Yes, a locksmith from the housing department. We have a leaky faucet here, he fixed it. Maybe he left the flowers? And why?
— Did you fix the faucet? – Lena was also thinking, twirling a bouquet of flowers in her hands. – No, my Ilya definitely couldn’t fix the crane. He’s the son of bosses. Yes, Mom? The children of bosses are not like that, are they?
— Of course not. Where to them. So, don’t worry, your Ilya will come.
— And the flowers? Lena exclaimed in confusion.
— Or maybe he has already come, your fiance? I didn’t close the door when the locksmith came. He probably put the flowers down and ran to buy something else. A present for me. So, your Ilya will come, and we will find out everything.
But Lena did not wait for Ilya. She, in general, never saw him again…