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  • When we reached the village the rain had stopped but our heads were wet and our faces rose-colored. The clouds were breaking in their move from west to east above and the low-lying white had lifted or disappeared into the forest and mountainside. We walked down a rutted lane to a stucco-looking building and an opened door. Two men in gray brimless caps—caps of gray wool—were sitting on a bench in front of the building and they watched us coming at them.

    I wrote the number to dial on a slip of paper and gave it to a woman in a small office with a rotary-dial and a desk and little else. The woman pointed to a smaller cubicle with another receiver and said something I didn’t understand.

    “How many minutes?” Anna translated.

    “How many minutes?”

    “How many minutes to speak?”

    Ramdeni lari?” I asked.

    The woman gave me a number and so I made a show of four fingers and the woman wrote something on a slip of paper and checked a wristwatch that was next to the phone. She pointed at the booth again and began to dial. Anna stood with her arms crossed and watched the woman dialing or looked at me sitting in the cubicle.

    After some minutes the woman in the office rapped on a window and soon after she clicked the receiver home.
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