Friday night, the pizzeria is filling up, people out after a long hard week, the same in thousands of cities around the world; friends getting together to unwind and relax, to catch up and gossip, hearts being poured out and secrets shared.
Natasha sits opposite Olga, so far oblivious to Olga's secret. Natasha talks and talks her fingers illustrate her points, her friend quietly drinks her beer, her fingers from her right hand form an L shape around her mouth and up her left cheek, her mouth patiently waiting for the moment to break the news.
Roman the waiter, tall, thin, blond, his pockmarked skin betrays his age, he’s normally so slovenly, so careless, but he has a spring in his step tonight. On table one, his table is a British man, on his own, a chance for Roman to put his English to the test, But more importantly a chance to make a good tip. His colleagues look on amused, they've never seen him this attentive.
Ivana totters down the stairs, the modern day national dress of the Ukraine woman; short skirt, black tights and unfeasibly high heels, her hair an unnatural blonde, her heels making the stairs treacherous. She's told Dimi she is going to the toilet, but she just had to get away from him, away from his snide remarks, his put downs.
The three girls on the large table are also in the national uniform, the look like three whores on their way to work such is the effect of the national dress. They laugh and chat and look relaxed.
Natasha lets out a scream, shock! So Olga has finally shared her secret. Natasha cannot believe her friend has cheated on her husband. Olga talks in hushed tones about how her new man does things to her that makes her feel like a woman. Natasha is all smiles, but inside she is angry, she hates the fact that she didn't spot it, her woman's intuition had let her down, and also jealous that her friend is getting some and she is not.
Sasha pours beer from the pitcher into his friends glass making sure he is giving Marin just that little bit more. The two friends watch Ivana totter back to her seat, they admire her breasts and her arse but they fail to spot she's been crying, in fact nor does Dimi, so wrapped up in himself, he doesn't notice the woman he claims he adores has been sitting on the toilet crying. Sasha watches his friend intently, hanging on every word. His secret will not be revealed tonight.
Roman doesn't clear away the Englishman's plate, his colleague Petra got there first. He seethes with rage, he'd been rehearsing his line but now he'd not get a chance to use it.
The three whores have been joined by three men, older much older, suddenly the mood has changed, the girls no longer chat to each other but talk to the men, all big eyes and smiles, the language has changed too, no longer Russian but English, the men speak with heavy germanic accents the women with their soft Slavic voices.
Natasha watches as her mate takes a call from her new fella, she is all light and giggly, Natasha has a sudden urge to slap her, to kick her to punch her, her jealousy is bubbling, she has to go, to get out, she decides a toilet break is needed.
Sasha's chin is on his hand, he looks up at Marin as Marin tells of his latest conquest. All that is missing is from the scene is big fluttering eyelashes. Natasha stands up, straightens her skirt and bends for her bag. Sasha makes a big show of checking out her arse, showing he is all man, then he goes back to admiring his friend and pouring him just a little more beer.
Dimi makes his move, toilet time for him, Ivana knows she has to be quick, she takes her coat and gets to her feet, she is out of the door and hailing a passing taxi before she can think twice, the driver asks her where to, just drive she mumbles through the tears just drive. She left behind her cigarettes but she does care, she can replace them, she can't replace her self esteem.Ivan and Natalie are babies in comparison to the rest of the crowd, barely sixteen, her flat shoes give her away, he is betrayed by his loud deep awkward laugh. They share a pizza and a glass of wine, they count out their money to the last penny to pay for their meal, no tip for Roman there, But where is Roman? He is conspicuous by his absence now that Petra has stolen his English speaker. He is out the back smoking but not inhaling, holding the cigarette between his middle finger and thumb, the tip in the cup of his hands like he's seen them do in the films, he near whistles ad he inhales like his Heroes do.