The crime ripened, then fell like a stone, as usually happens. With an
uncomfortable feeling round his heart Poligraph Poligraphovich returned that
evening by lorry. Philip Philipovich's voice invited him into the
consulting-room. Surprised, Sharikov entered and looked first, vaguely
frightened, at Bormenthal's steely face, then at Philip Philipovich. A cloud
of smoke surrounded the doctor's head and his left hand, trembling very
slightly, held a cigarette and rested on the shiny handle of the obstetrical
With ominous calm Philip Philipovich said:
'Go and collect your things at once - trousers, coat, everything you
need - then get out of this flat!'
'What is all this?' Sharikov was genuinely astonished. 'Get out of this
flat - and today,' repeated Philip Philipovich, frowning down at his
An evil spirit was at work inside Poligraph Poligraphovich. It was
obvious that his end was in sight and his time nearly up, but he hurled
himself towards the inevitable and barked in an angry staccato:
'Like hell I will! You got to give me my rights. I've a right to
thirty-seven square feet and I'm staying right here.'
'Get out of this flat,' whispered Philip Philipovich in a strangled
It was Sharikov himself who invited his own death. He raised his left
hand, which stank most horribly of cats, and cocked a snook at Philip
Philipovich. Then with his right hand he drew a revolver on Bormenthal.
Bormenthal's cigarette fell like a shooting star. A few seconds later Philip
Philipovich was hopping about on broken glass and running from the cabinet
to the couch. On it, spreadeagled and croaking, lay a sub-department
controller of the City Cleansing Department; Bormenthal the surgeon was
sitting astride his chest and suffocating him with a small white pad.
After some minutes Bormenthal, with a most unfamiliar look, walked out
on to the landing and stuck a notice beside the doorbell:
The Professor regrets that owing to indisposition he will be unable to
hold consulting hours today. Please do not disturb the Professor by ringing
With a gleaming penknife he then cut the bell-cable, inspected his
scratched and bleeding face in the mirror and his lacerated, slightly
trembling hands. Then he went into the kitchen and said to the anxious Zina
and Darya Petrovna:
'The professor says you mustn't leave the fiat on any account.'
'No, we won't,' they replied timidly.
'Now I must lock the back door and keep the key,' said Bormenthal,
sidling round the room and covering his face with his hand. 'It's only
temporary, not because we don't trust you. But if anybody came you might not
be able to keep them out and we mustn't be disturbed. We're busy.'
'All right,' replied the two women, turning pale. Bormenthal locked the
back door, locked the front door, locked the door from the corridor into the
hall and his footsteps faded away into the consulting-room.
Silence filled the flat, flooding into every comer. Twilight crept in,
dank and sinister and gloomy. Afterwards the neighbours across the courtyard
said that every light burned that evening in the windows of Preobrazhensky's
consulting-room and that they even saw the professor's white skullcap ... It
is hard to be sure. When it was all over Zina did say, though, that when
Bormenthal and the professor emerged from the consulting-room, there, by the
study fireplace, Ivan Amoldovich had frightened her to death. It seems he
was squatting down in front of the fire and burning one of the blue-bound
notebooks which contained the medical notes on the professor's patients. The
doctor's face, apparently, was quite green and completely - yes, completely
- scratched to pieces. And that evening Philip Philipovich had been most
peculiar. And then there was another thing - but maybe that innocent girl
from the flat in Prechistenka Street was talking rubbish . . .
One thing, though, was certain: there was silence in the flat that
evening - total, frightening silence.
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