Martin is 34. He is short and wears a denim suit and black boots. On his head is a gray hat with a big visor, despite the fact that it is June, and it is warm and pleasant on the beach. If you look closely, you can see that his body leans slightly to the right and he walks with a slight limp in his left leg. It’s the result of an accident: a BMW hit him while he was begging. In the car were some cheery kids who had been partying, probably returning from a night out. That’s how Martin the beggar wound up on the curb with a broken leg and a concussion.

His face is coarse, fleshy, with deep lines as if cut with an axe; a crooked nose with flared nostrils, a curved chin, cheeks with scars, and thick lips. His hat hides his forehead. His face is typical for a Slavic peasant, despite the fact that he is a Pole and should have finer features. Oh, yes, the eyes—ordinary, gray, cloudy, bloodshot—unwell eyes. In a word, the face of an alcoholic, though Martin had not had a drink in more than a year. But many years of hard drinking can’t be erased. What is the face of an alcoholic? Stupefaction, emptiness, despair. That can’t disappear—at least, not in one year.

But the strange thing is that another face exists beneath the half-stone mask of the drunkard. When Martin smiles, his face shifts, instantly becoming softer, and beneath this kindness appears some sort of cleverness and cunning. But thoughtful Martin looks like a philosopher immersed in his thoughts. His thoughts, by the way, are deep and strong—from life, though he often rattles on, growls some Polish or broken English. David is used to this muttering. He knows that it is due to Martin’s lifelong loneliness.

David doesn’t always pay attention to what Martin is muttering. He does not always understand what Martin says. But he knows that Martin simply needs a patient listener, someone around him. If instead of David, let’s say, a deaf-mute Hindu were to stay by his side, Martin would mutter in the same way, telling him about his everyday problems: his boss is greedy and all the time aiming to cheat him; the landlady at home, where he rented an attic room, a Polish woman—she is a glutton and slattern; his parents in Poland are ailing; he wants to buy a parrot, and so on.

“Look, a rat,” Martin tracked the rat running out of one trashcan and watched how the dark hairy lump rolled along the sand to another can of garbage.

“Yeah,” answered David, shifting his glance from the rat to Martin.

Martin smiled.