Learn some USSR vocabulary…
- Posted by: Enjoy Russian
- Category: Matryoshka’s diary
… and get immersed by the Soviet atmosphere
Even though Soviet history ended more than 3 decades ago people in Russia still can’t get over some patterns from the USSR. They keep some tea sets in cupboards “till better days”, throw huge feasts with relatives and friends and prefer joint tasks to individual ones. The Soviet times’ impact on Russians seems to be everlasting because people interest in this era never stops growing, many fiction stories are devoted to the topic and some of them are translated into many languages. Here is another story of Gosha Pearl translated by Elena Killiakova from Enjoy Russian School. In the story below Elena explains all the terms from that time so read and learn some Soviet-Russian vocabulary with us.
Who is the author?
Grigory Alexandrovich Borisenko (Gosha Pearl) was born in a village called Ust-Lokchim (Komi Republic) in 1949. After he graduated the High School in 1967 he got accepted to the Industrial Institute of Ukhta (now Ukhta State Technical University). In 1972 he graduated the University with a specialization in “Wood processing industry”/ ”Forest products industry”. Then he did a military service, worked for a party, as a manager of furniture factory of Ukhta, and CEO of the furniture association “Sever”. After he did his Ph.D. he had been working as an academic in the division of Saint Petersburg State Forest Technical University in Syktyvkar.
Now Grigory Alexandrovich lives in Israel, where he is involved in creative writing activities. He is the author of 2 short stories: “The sheepskin coat” and “The parallel world”. The main character of the first story reminds the young author, while “The parallel world” is inspired by life stories of his friends. Both stories are exciting and catching.
Soviet-Russian vocabulary you are about to learn:
- “bratki” – “guys”, usually with criminal background; mobsters; gangsters
- “Niva” or “Kopeika” – Soviet car brands
- “shestyorka” – errand-boy
- “pakhan” – a gangland boss
- “farztovshchik”- black marketers
- “krysha” – Literally means “roof” in Russian. It carries a kaleidoscope of other associations: an arrangement, a reason, a façade, lobbying, illegal political services, etc
And here is the story itself.
The Parallel World
Seek your destiny,
Otherwise,fate will find you.
And not always the best.
The Mazda sped along the street of a small town, and its headlights were cutting the darkness. None of the street lights were on neither at the central streets nor in the outskirts of the town. It was 2.30 am. The town was asleep and not even dogs bark tonight, but usually they would have reacted to every trifle. The driver turned the headlights off but continued to drive in absolute darkness. The car passed two more blocks and turned into the yard where it stopped. Two people got out of the car: the girl, who was driving the car and a young man, who was sitting at the back. Without saying a word, she closed the car using a key to ensure that alarm is silent and parking lights are not blinking when it is turned on. Young people went into the nearest entrance hallway of the four-story residential building, located next to the one where they parked the car. They entered unchecked since there was no code lock in the door. They went up to the level 3 and entered the apartment 39, opened the door with a key, as it supposed to be. They did not even take their clothing off and did not turn the lights on, but went to the room. The young man turned the torch on his phone on and handed it over to the girl, showing the spot which had to be lighted up, as he headed to the wardrobe. He picked out the design of the wardrobe – it was a three-fold foreign-made wardrobe from the Romanian cabinet bedroom suite. In his work he came across at least three dozens of similar wardrobes, so he easily identified the section in the wardrobe where a safe deposit box should be, and he was not mistaken. The young man unbuttoned his coat, under which he had an apron with two dozens of pockets of different sizes. A number of different tools were sticking out of the pockets. He quickly realized what he should do with the safe deposit box in this situation. Picking up the code will take about twenty-five or thirty minutes, while breaking down the sections of the wardrobe and taking out the safe will take about 6 minutes. He was a bit hesitating because of the noise that could occur in a case of burglary and thus scare the neighbors. One thing which reassured him was the fact that the wardrobe was located against the side (end) wall and there was another wall shared with neighbors with a carpet hanging on. The young men without even looking took off his pocket a tiny bit brace, a screw drill of the desired caliber, a reel, and a small piece of chalk. Three minutes later, there were the holes drilled next to the screws, which were bolted to the safe side of the cabinet. He only had to insert the end of a small crowbar into these holes and gently push it, using it as leverage, and the screws one after another were dropping with crack out of the crumbled place wherethey were screwed. Just fifteen minutes later he took off his medical gloves and locked the door of the apartment. Carrying the safe deposit box in a sport bag, young people, not looking around got into the car and headed to the capital of the nearest region, without turning the lights on. It was raining heavily, and the sun began to rise.
The owner of a “khrushchevka” apartment located on 11 General Popov Street was Ugryumov Eduard Ivanovich, a lonely man forty-two years old who had no family. Eduard Ivanovich had neither immediate nor extended family members. Only occasionally he had some visitors. Elvira, a young woman, visited him to brighten up his loneliness, and a community nurse, an elderly woman, called Tamara Gerasimovna, in order to examine him or give an injection to improve the performance of the heart. It must be said that his heart demanded permanent care, but he never talked about that, as he understood that no one, but himself was interested in it. During his holidays Eduard Ivanovich lived on his “dacha” (a garden in the countryside usually with a summer house). He owned 6 acres of land outside of the town in a dacha cooperative “Privolye”, a tiny house, shed and two garden-beds of potatoes. There was a fence, surrounding the dacha, along which, from the side of the house were bushes of raspberry and gooseberry. Such simple architectural ensemble with a simple landscape belonged to Eduard Ivanovich Ugryumov. He was unsociable, never went to anyone’s places and no one went to his place as well, so his last name Ugryumov (meaning in Russian: cheerless, gloomy) matched his personality perfectly. Sometimes, maybe once every six months, he was visited by “bratki” (“guys”, usually with criminal background; mobsters; gangsters) on a “Niva” or “Kopeika” (Soviet car brands) – just not to attract public attention – in his apartment or summer house to discuss some important financial questions, or sent to him “shestyorka” (errand-boy) with the note from “pakhan” (a gangland boss). One week before the robbery of the apartment 39, Ugryumov was visited in his summer house by five men on the old plain grayish color car “Volga GAZ-24” (a Soviet car brand).The three men entered the summer house and disappeared behind the door; another man was standing at the gate, and the fifth one, the driver, stayed in the car not turning off the engine. The eldest of those entered the house and approached Eduard Ivanovich: “Hark “Ugryumy” (a nickname of Ugryumov, meaning: “gloomy”), we found out that your health leaves much to be desired and you can pop off the hooks any time, so seek dead our “obshchak” (common fund of a criminal community; coffers).So you, Ugryumy, hand over the common fund to someone more reliable, there will be a “shodnyak” (a meeting of criminals) in two weeks, you will be notified additionally about the exact place and date. We are leaving now. See you in a while”. The men left the house in the same order as they were coming in. As soon as they jumped into the car, it quickly gained speed and disappeared around the corner splashing puddles. Urgyumov, as you correctly guessed, was connected with thieves as he was the keeper of “obshchak” for more than ten years since he got out of jail. He was convicted for murder, although he never killed anyone, went to jail taking the blame instead of his older brother who killed the cashier.
It happened in 1967.Pavel Ugryumov, his older brother, was 30 years old man back then. He already had two records of conviction and this one could be the third.The first time he was convicted as an accomplice in the robbery of the cash-in-transit guard, was convicted and sentenced to 3 years. The second time it was a robbery of the bank office in the regional center, which Pavel organized; he was convicted and sentenced to 6 and a half years. Pavel knew that this homicide of the cashier who carried the salary for the entire construction and installation team for the purpose of robbery, he would not have sentenced less than 15 years, so he begged his brother to take the blame as Eduard was young, just turned 18, and would not have be sentenced for many years, as it is his first time. Pavel had a lot of influence and authority in the criminal world, so there was nothing to worry about in prison for Eduard, and once discharged he will live like a King! Eduard loved his brother so much, and without hesitation agreed to take his brother’s blame, even he had not realized what life is going to be like in prison. The public prosecutor in the Court asked for 15 years, but the Judge, taking into account the age and other circumstances, gave 14. Eduard served his full sentence. The truth is, during the first two years, food packages with a note “from friends” were regularly sent to Eduard. But after Pavel was killed during his next assault on a cash-in-transit guard, the attitude in prison towards Eduard had changed significantly, as gifts for the prison management and some special convicts had stopped flowing. Eduard perfectly understood what the reason was, but could do nothing about that. During the years in prison he developed a good rapport with one of the convicts, who was approximately the same age. They supported each other in difficult times and shared news, coming from the outside world. This guy had a nickname “Veslo” (meaning: “paddle”), as he was tall and skinny, but deep-chested for his body type. Thus the nickname suited him; he responded when he was called Veslo and never took offence at it. His real name was David Naumovich Bessler, and he was in jail for illegal exchange transactions with his fellow students, who were international students. He did assignments for them, and they paid him for the work in US dollars. This business was taken to the assembly line, but someone reported him, and despite the fact that David was a high achiever and the Lenin’s scholarship recipient, he was sentenced to 8 years, and he served his fill sentence. There were a lot of fables around him in prison: for example, he could make money out of thin air, or that his brain would have been enough for seven people, but he was the only one fortunate enough to get such a gift. He was very smart, had an old head on young shoulders, so all the convicts and the prison authorities did not mind asking him to help with writing a letter or editing some important documents. And he was always happy to help, showing a great deal of respect to the one, who asked him for help, whether it was a guard or a convict. Once he rejected to help one convict who was going to write a report on a guard, who allegedly was selling drugs to convicts. But it was not true. This guard was a good guy, and in difficult times he helped convicts: he allowed convicts to make a phone call, or treated a cigarette, or helped to send a letter to relatives, but God forbid, he was never selling drugs. So for this Selivan, this was the name of the convict who David refused to help, decide to slaughter David with his sharpening made from a table spoon. It worth mentioning that some convicts could not stand when someone hurt their pride and thus we ready to undertake any extreme step and considered the offender to be the number one enemy. At night, when everyone was asleep, Selivan sneaked in on David, who was sleeping on the second level of the bed and has already begun to make a strike at David, but suddenly someone yelled: “Hold on bastard! What are you doing?”. Selivan reeled from the sudden scream, lost his balance, fell down, and hit his head against the concrete floor. He woke up in the hospital, where he spent nearly a month, and he was then transferred to another prison. David thanked Eduard for his rebirth, who did not sleep that night and thus became a happenstance witness to the incident. David got out of jail in the spring of 1980 on the eve of the Olympics-80. David was a native Muscovite. As there was an expected influx of foreigners along with “farztovshchik” (black marketers), sex workers and other unreliable people, who sort of compromised the reputation of the country’s leading youth, David had to leave Moscow and relocate to any place about 100 kilometers away from the city. David’s dad – Naum Yakovlevich Bessler, a distinguished gynecologist, suffered from the fact of conviction of his son: he was removed from his post of a Head of the Department and was transferred to an ordinary doctor position. Thanks to the connections that Bessler-dad had, he was able to procure for his son an opportunity to live in Moscow, though, with a condition to visit a local police division every month. After the Olympics the compulsory visits were abolished and David got a chance to continue his studies – he was accepted to the 5th year of the extramural Program at the same University and graduated with honors. David was 33 years old. Meanwhile, Eduard Urgyumov’s term of imprisonment was coming to an end. He was reading over with deep sorrow the letter from Margarita Ivanovna, who was living next-door to the apartment, where they used to live together: mom, Pasha and him. They had no father, he died of a heart attack, when Eduard was only three years old. Margarita Stepanovna wrote in her letter the details of his mother’s illness and death, and that her last words were to Eduard, the only one alive person in their family, and to God with prayers for an early relief. Eduard’s mom died before his release, a year before the day when he crossed the threshold and found himself free.
The apartment where his family lived, immediately after the death of his mother passed to the State. According to the legislation, Ugryumov could not make a claim for this property, and another family of three moved into the apartment.
A week before Eduard got out of jail, he was notified by “shestyorka” that he must urgently go to the ward and see “Pakhan” (the gangland boss). At the appointed time Ugryumov entered the camera where Solomon, the thief in law, served a sentence. Eduard walked into the ward and gasped as he saw a room, not just a ward, where the walls were painted ivory, and there were carpets on the walls and the floor, a round wooden table and leather chairs around it in the middle of the room, and in the corner by the window – a wooden bed and a TV. All the furniture was carved by local prisoners. The room was decorated with carved chess table and chesspieces carved in the form of sea monsters, a bottle of Armenian five-star brandy and an open jar of black caviar and all sorts of other delicacies including fruits and nuts. “Pakhan” was dressed not in convicts’ black jacket but in black hand-made knitted sweater, in which he looked not as a blatant thief (who he actually was) but really impressive or even home-like. When Ugryumov entered the ward, “Pakhan” with a gesture asked “shestyorka” to leave and they immediately left the room. He pointed out at one of the chairs next to the table and said: “Please have a seat Ugryumy”. Eduard sat down on the chair which was the nearest to him. It worth mentioning that it was the first time in his entire life when he saw the most of these products, and he was staring at them with his eyes widely opened. “Help yourself please, do not be shy”, what was your real name?” – said Pakhan sincerely, as if they were relatives, trying to get on the right side, despite he knew it all about Ugryumov from his birth until this minute. “Eduard Ivanovich Ugryumov” – replied Ugryumov, absolutely confused with such a behavior of Pakhan. “So Eduard Ivanovich, I wanted to ask you not to use jargon, and from now on talk in normal Russian, as in the books, I am sure you read everything three times during these 14 years in prison. I heard you are about to get out of prison. Where you are going if it is not a secret?” – asked the question Pakhan while opening the bottle of Armenian brandy and slowly pouring into glass cups – firstly for Ugryumov and then for himself. “There is no secret, Semyon Isaakovich” (it was Pakhan’s real name, at least it was the only way he was called both in prison and outside). “I will go where I was born, as people say, grow where you are planted”. “Yes, that is right, but there is no one waiting for you except a local policeman to make a note that you are still alive and well. Your mom died, rest in peace, and your brother is also dead because of the police. Your apartment was taken away by the state, they said that it was given to the homeless fire victims, may God give them happy life”. “Well, I will come up with something. I will go and try to get a job at the factory and apply for social housing and will live quietly” – replied Ugryumov, who was a little drunk after a glass of brandy. “What factory, what social housing are you talking about? With your bright past? Fifteen years in detention for a murder of the cashier with an axe?You won’t go into the details like: I am actually good, I just took the blame for my brother and served 14 years in jail. This is only respected among thieves, and you are considered to be a cool guy if you have taken the blame for someone. But outside this criminal world no one will even talk to such a person. So what do you think? Does this make sense?” – passionately explained his point of view on the issue Pakhan, pouring one more glass of brandy for each of them. “”Yes it does” – agreed Ugryumov. “What should I do? What is your suggestion, Semyon Isaakovich?” – asked Eduard just in case. “Here in prison there are thousands of prisoners, Doctors, communists, well ex-communists. Here was even one Hero of Socialist Labor (The Award in the USSR), well he was disgraced but he is a Hero, and I invited you out of a thousand, and you think I have nothing to do but drink brandy with you?!” – started to lose his temper Pakhan, trying to let Ugryumov know that he needs him for a particular purpose. “So I asked you to come as I want to recommend you at the next skhodka (a meeting of criminals) to be a keeper. We shopped around you with my mates, then discussed this idea with the Owner and he said nothing bad about you. And my recommendation at the gathering worth ten recommendations, so that people will vote for you. Why don’t you ask the question: where is the previous keeper, it seems to be a relevant question to me? I will respond. The former keeper could not resist his temptation and twice put his hand into the coffers, the members of the watchdog committee will report about this at the skhodka, and the decision will be made regarding what to do with him. My opinion is to cut his right hand off, and then, at the meeting we will see, it might be even decided to deprive him of life. You, Eduard Ivanovich, ask me what should you do, so listen. Pakhan sat down on a chair opposite Ugryumov and started telling about all the advantages of this great position. “Firstly, we will buy you a small apartment and some stuff, not in Moscow, of course, but where we decide, maybe in a small town; secondly, you will get a salary for keeping the coffers and implementing the decisions of Committee regarding the expenditures; thirdly, you will need to get a job where we ask you to. You can invite women to your place, but you can not start a family, as the law of a criminal world does not allow that. So just live and enjoy yourself. And forget everything we discussed today as it never happened. And remember, here no one is offered something twice, this position will fill up in a second. I hope you understand everything. Now you go and have a good think until the morning. In the morning Shestyorka (“an errand boy”) will find you and you will give your answer to him. “Eleven” means “yes”, if you accept the offer, “Twelve” means “no”, if you don’t. You will tell him just one option. At this stage you can pick your own path, but once you decide to be with us, you will depend on decisions of “skhodka” until your death. No need to thank me, you go to your ward and have a think”.
Ugryumov said goodbye by a nod, thanked Pakhan for his time and significant attention he paid to him, just an ordinary “zek” (a convict), who was never lavished in praises. Neither from management of the jail nor cellmates during his detention, thus Eduard was grateful for such attitude. Ugryumov was thinking about all arguments, “for” and “against”, regarding his future path, and decided that Isaak Semyonovich’s offer is the right one in his position. He could barely wait until the morning and when Shestyorka came, Uryumov without waiting for the question immediately blurted out: “Eleven!”. Shestyorka approvingly nodded his head and run away to report to Pakhan. It was the second time Eduard Ivanovich determined his fate.
Skhodka was timed to coincide with the forty days from the date of death of one prominent guy, who died, according to the official version from a drug overdose. In reality, his death was related to the fact that he had not reported about the “Strelka” of two thieves with “baryga” (a black marketer) to the guys from the neighboring gang, although he knew and apparently promised to. So he was poisoned. To organize “skhodka” they needed “krysha” (Literally means “roof” in Russian. It carries a kaleidoscope of other associations: an arrangement, a reason, a façade, lobbying, illegal political services, etc). So commemoration was a perfect option. Skhodka took place in a factory dining hall, as this building had a great location: it was distanced from other factory’s buildings and had the main entrance from one of the city’s streets. A note was hanged on the door of the dining hall saying: “Special Service”. The crowd of men gathered there, smoking and chatting about nothing. It was against the etiquette to talk about the issues which will be discussed at the meeting, so everyone was waiting for it to start. Finally, at 7 pm sharp gathering was opened by the oldest thief, he gave the floor to the members of the Revision Committee, who audited the fund and discovered a major loss. After the auditors the floor was given to the current keeper of the coffers in order to explain this loss. He started to mumble and with tears in his eyes asked: “Brothers just do not take my life!”. By a margin of three votes passed a proposal of Solomon, the crowned thief who was in prison, and suggested in his “malyava” (a letter, a message) to cut off his right hand and kick him away from the thief community. Immediately from nowhere two burly young men emerged and took the keeper away. They led him to the car, and he did not resist. They sat him in the back seat, and the car with four guys headed to the woods. After a while, the car headed from the forest to the local hospital’s department of surgery. The keeper was seating inside the car with a blooded towel on his arm. The conversation with the surgeon on duty was short: he was shown two weapons and ordered to keep silent. Surely, he understood everything correctly and did everything as he was asked to. Inthe morning the keeper without his right hand was standing at a bus stop and waiting for a bus to get back home. “Thanks God! Thanks God it ended up this particular way” – muttered to himself the ex-keeper getting into the bus. In the meantime, everyone was waiting for the news from the woods, and it did not take too long. One of the guys put the cut hand into the plastic bag and brought it to the skhodka to demonstrate everyone that everything is done according to the decision of the skhodka. The thieves proceeded to the elections of a new keeper of the coffers. The Chair gave the floor to the famous thief called Dorokhwho Solomon asked to read the recommendation on the new keeper of the cofferrs called Ugryumy. The thieves immediately wanted to meet Ugryumy, and started to ask him different questions about his thief’s life. When they realized that he took the blame for his brother for the cashier’s murder and spent 14 yearsin prison, voted unanimously. It was decided to buy him a property – “khrushchevka” (a small studio apartment constructed in the time of Khrushchev). It was also decided what amount of money will be transferred to Ugryumy to keep in the form of seventeen savings books, payable on demand, with a tidy sum on each of them. The Committee members and Eduard counted the money and the savings books three times, and all those present at the gathering evidenced this. When they made sure that transmitted amount converges with the amount written in the savings books, three guards for Eduard were allocated. At 8 in the morning they headed to the local branch of the State Bank, where they put all the savings book to a special storage which was locked using two keys: one should be kept in the bank and the second one could be only used by Ugryumov, as only he knew the secret word – the storage code. Eduard was worried that the gangsters might take the savings books away and kill him, but there were two more cars with gangsters following them just in case, so all went well. Eduard got a job as a porter at the fruit and vegetable warehouse, thanks to Solomon’s recommendation. Semyon Isaakovich gave a call to the Manager of the warehouse from the detention facility and the question with Eduard’s employment was solved.
A small studio in the local railway workers cooperative housing was bought for Eduard; Solomon also participated in this as he knew that the owner of the apartment is moving to Israel and it is possible to pay her through her relatives in Israel. So with the help of a straw man, a deed of gift was signed. In general, Ugryumov legally became an owner of the studio #39 in the building #11 on the street named in honor of General Popovin a small town. The previous owner of the studio left to Eduard all the furniture, house ware, and an abandoned 6 Ares of land in a cooperative land ownership “Privolye”. In the local police department no one asked any questions, and he was registered and issued a new passport stating that he, Eduard Ivanovich, from now on can freely travel around the country and live anywhere as everyone else does. But there was one thing which made him restless – the fact that he was the keeper of the coffers and thus entirely depended on the decision of the thief’s skhodka. Ugryumov tried to calm himself down – he made this decision and even though Solomon was harsh, but treated him humanely, and most importantly, solved all his issues at once. He realized, that it was done to keep him on a short leash. Thus Solomon would have a chance to use the fund as he wished. Eduard Ivanovich learned the lesson well: the cut off hand and fourteen years in prison were a survival school for him. “So we will see” – tried to calm down and cheer himself up Ugryumov. Thus, imperceptibly, his life outside prison began. After he had settled down at work, he asked the Manager of the warehouse for a three-day leave at his own expense to go to his home town and visit the graves of his mother and brother. After receiving approval, Eduard immediately headed to the bus terminal, caught a bus to the capital city of a local district and than caught another bus. Thus, in the afternoon he was in front of the house where he spent his childhood. Eduard stared at the main entrance door, and it suddenly seemed to him that his mother would come out and ask him to go home. Of course, no one did. Eduard stepped into the darkness, habitually ran upstairs to the second floor, spent one minute in front of the apartment which they previously owned, and rang the doorbellof the apartment where his neighbor, Margarita Stepanovna, lived. An elderly silver-haired lady opened the door. Of course, Eduard immediately recognized Margarita Stepanovna, or Auntie Margo, as everyone called her at the playground and she recognized him, and his eyes were telling about great sorrow that lurked inside. Margarita Stepanovna invited her guest to come in, sat him at the table, served lunch and asked him how is he doing and told him about her life. Then she wrote down in her notebook Eduard’s new address just in case and explained how to find the graves of his mother and brother at the City Cemetery. After that,she pulled out from the cupboard the letter written by his mother before her death. The envelope was not sealed, and Eduard immediately noticed that, but made no sign, put the envelope in his pocket and headed to a hotel, as he did not want to discomfort Margarita Stepanovna.
He was walking on the streets of the small town which were so familiar, taking a deep breath and feeling the fresh air of his childhood and adolescence. He found himself at the marketplace square, where almost nothing has changed. As before, there was a three-level hotel opposite the marketplace: the top two floors were occupied by the guests, and there was a restaurant on the ground level with a high-sounding name “The Central”, but everyone knew that these very the only one hotel in the town, as the restaurant was. Eduard checked in a single room on the second level for two days. He entered his room, closed the door behind him and in the first place he pulled out the pocket the letter from his mother, which Margarita Stepanovna handed over to him. Eduard again checked the envelope and realized that it was previously open by someone, and obviously read over. He quickly skimmed through the lines of mother’s letter: “Dear, beloved son! I can not post this letter to you, I am afraid it will get lost. That is why you will get it from M.S. You can get a package from Auntie Klava, I hope it will be useful to you. Goodbye my dearest son, I embrace you warmly. Kisses. Your Mom”. Eduard read over this short letter about 20 times, but could not get which Auntie Klava she is talking about in the letter. He did know Auntie Klava, his mother’s sister, but she died in a car accident even before he was imprisoned,and her husband married to a young lady, he believed her name was Sveta. That was Eduard’s argument. He has not noticed that it was already 7 pm; he was very hungry. He went downstairs to the restaurant to have dinner and had a seat at the free table. He was waiting for the waitress, and in a couple of minutes the waitress approached him and asked: “What would you like to order, young man?” (“young man” is often used in Russia in informal conversations). He ordered a light meal and a bottle of wine. The waitress made some notes in her notebook and went to the kitchen. Her face seemed familiar to Eduard, and he was trying to recall how he knows this waitress, but he could not remember. The waitress brought him dinner and asked: “Are you Eduard Ugryumov?”. “Yes! How do you know me?” – asked Eduard smiling. “We went to the same school, you were in grade 10, I was in grade 6, and we lived on the same street” – said the waitress with a soft pleasant voice“. “Now I remember you, your name is Lena, Lena Kormukhina. Is that right?” – asked Eduard waiting for her to confirm. “Yes, correct. But now I am not Kormukhina, I am Sidel’nikova” – replied Lena with some sadness in her voice. Eduard did not want to ask Lena about her life, even though he was very curious, as he understood that he is at work, so he suggested to meet outside the restaurant, in other words, to wait for her to finish and continue the conversation in his room in the hotel. Lena nodded to let him know that she is happy with this idea and added: “I finish work at 10 pm”.
Lena bought a bottle of champagne and two chocolate bars at the restaurant buffet. At 10 pm sharp Eduard met Lena at the back entrance, and they went upstairs to his room. Eduard could barely restrain his temptation: he wanted her now, and then continue the conversation. The topic of the conversation did not matter: he wanted her first. Eduard without philosophizing suggested her what he was thinking about. She agreed as she has not had a man for a long time and she also had a temptation. While Lena was taking a shower, Eduard opened a bottle of champagne and divided the chocolate bars into small pieces. Eduard had taken a shower before he met Lena at the back entrance. He turned the lights off and left only a table lamp on. There were 2 glasses of champagne and pieces of chocolates on the table. Lena came out of the bathroom, wrapped in a towel, sat down on the bed, grabbed a glass of champagne and said: “For our meeting! Cheers”. They had some champagne and without saying anything plunked down on a bed. He softly kissed her on the lips and in the neck. Then he went down and kissed her lush breast. After this he went even further down and groped the secret place between her legs. She was howling with pleasure saying: “So good, so good”. This happened three times a night. Lena was the first girl he had after he got out of jail. They woke up at 11 am, got themselves ready and decided to have breakfast at the same restaurant. After breakfast everyone had its own plans, but they agreed to meet at 10 pm at Eduard’s room. This is what they did. Eduard went to the market, bought two bouquets of flowers, took a taxi and headed to the cemetery. He easily found the grave of Pavel: it was slightly abandoned, but there was a feeling that someone took care of it just recently, obviously when his mom was still alive. Eduard borrowed a shovel from the gatekeeper’s cabin, made the grave’s ground (soil) even, removed weeds, laid flowers and headed to his mom’s grave mumbling something. There were wreaths and flowers from the last year. Eduard put these wreath and flowers into the bin, which was there for this particular purpose. Then he made the ground even, laid flowers, kissed the picture of his mom, which was on the cross. He bowed, apologized for suffering caused by him and by Pavel. He was about to leave the cemetery, when he realized that his mother’s words “You can get a package from Auntie Klava” could mean from Auntie Klava’s grave. Eduard got a shovel and started to look for the grave of Auntie Klava. It has been 15 years from her death, so a lot of people found peace at this cemetery. It was a bit of a challenge to find her grave, but he did find it. His mother took care of it in the same way as for the grave of his brother, because Klava was her sister of the whole blood. Eduard took a shovel and gently pounded the grave. There was something under the ground, so he started to dig and excavated a three-liter glass jar, with a tin lid, the same jars were usually used to make some canned food for a winter season. There was something in a jar wrapped in a plastic bag. No doubt it was the package his mom mentioned in the letter. Eduard picked up the jar, went to the garbage bin and smashed it against the edge of the bin. Then he picked up the package and put it in his pocket and made the soil on the grave even. He headed to the bus stop to catch a bus to the city center. At the hotel he locked himself in the room and opened the package. What did he find inside? There were two Orders of Glory of the second and the third order, which his dad got as an award after the Great Patriotic War (World War II in Russia), his grandmother’s antique big gold pendent on a long gold chain with a ruby, 14 tsar coins (dated back to the tsar period of Russian history), which the family received from his grandfather and kept as a trophy, and two two sports medals, which Eduard got at the regional boxing competitions when he was in year ten at school. There was also a letter from his mother and 2 small photos. One was a family picture taken when his father was still alive and his brother was thirteen and Eduard was three; another was a picture of Eduard taken at some competitions. There was only several lines in the mother’s letter:
“Dear, beloved son!I know that my disease is incurable and this is the last time I come here. Please keep all these valuables, but if you experience any hardships – sell it. Whatever you decide to do is fine. There are no one else, but you, to make this decision. I hope it will be useful for you. Sorry that you did not get to see me. I embrace you warmly. Kisses. Your Mom”.
Eduard was crying like a baby reading this letter and looking at the family picture which was taken almost thirty years ago. He recalled how they went fishing with Pavel on their bicycles; and how his mom came to cheer Eduard up at the city and later at the regional competitions; and how they loved to decorate a Xmas tree altogether: him, his brother and mom. But Eduard could not remember when Pavel met some guys from the gang and who and when drew him into this craft of easy money – thievery. Eduard was thinking about it, trying to analyze and compare the events of that time. Then he suddenly remembered the unsealed letter which he got from Margarita Stepanovna. He could not stop thinking about the question: “who could open the envelope to read the letter from his mother? Who could be interested in getting the package? Who could be that rude to open the envelope and who could be aware of the existence of this letter? Only one person’s name came to his mind – it could be the nephew of Margarita Stepanovna – Felix Korotkov, who is very welcomed at her house as the son of her youngest brother Vasily. Obviously, Margarita Stepanovna without any evil intent told Felix about the letter, and he took advantage of the situation: when Margarita Stepanovna was away, he found the letter, and by keeping it above the boiling kettle, easily opened it. After reading the letter, he found out, that Auntie Klava keeps the package for Eduard. Felix knew, where Auntie Klava lived before the car accident happened and he was also aware that Svetlana, the young wife of Auntie Klava’s ex-husband, replaced her. Sergey was around 40 years old when Auntie Klava died, and Svetlana was around 20 when she married Sergey right after Auntie Klava’s death. So now Sergey should be 55 years old and Svetlana – 35 years old. Eduard was sitting in his chair in the hotel, thinking over what happened, so he has not noticed that it was already evening. Just in case, he took out the contents of the package from the inside pocket of his jacket. Then he put on the jacket, locked the room and went downstairs to leave the key at the reception. The receptionist asked him: “Are you Eduard Ugryumov?” “Yes, I am” – replied Eduard, trying to figure out what is happening. “When you were away a man asked about you” – said the receptionist with a professional smile. Eduard thanked her with a nod of the head and headed towards the exit of the hotel, thinking who might ask about him. He went to the nearest grocery and bought 200 grams of cooked sausage, as the shop did not sell any other kind of sausage, one bar of chocolate, and a half loaf of bread. He came back to the hotel and was about to start the meal when someone knocked on his door. Eduard knew that it was Felix knocking on his door, and he was even ready to meet him. Eduard opened the door and saw Felix Korotkov standing in front of him in a black bologna (a type of fabric) jacket and in a gray cap. “Hi Edik” – said Felix, as there was no almost a decade since they met last time. “Hi, come in” – said Eduard inviting Felix to his room as they agreed to meet each other just several minutes ago over the phone. Felix entered the room, and the host suggested him to take a seat on the armchair and Eduard had a seat on the chair next to the table. It worth mentioning that Eduard and Felix never were friends, but just greeted each other, as Felix often visited his Auntie. Felix lived in the capital of the region and Edik was never interested in his life. “I have a question” – Felix started the conversation. “I can guess that otherwise you would not have came. I listen to you very attentively, Felya” – said Eduard making himself comfortable on the chair. “I accidentally read your mom’s letter and, and she mentioned the package which Auntie Klava keeps”. So we live with Svetka more than a year now, I hope you understand which Svetka I am talking about. We dug up the whole house, but could not find any package. Forgive me for being so frankly. I am looking for one simple thing, it is very important to me, and I hoped to find the answer in this letter. I have not found neither package nor this simple thing – a gun, and I need it very badly now. Last time when your brother Pasha mentioned about this gun was the time before he was killed by the policemen, but guys never mentioned anything about the gun at his funeral. So I thought that your mom hidden it for you”. At this moment Eduard wanted to take Felix by the scruff of its neck and kick out the room. Miraculously, he resisted this temptation and let Felix finish first. Then he said to Felix: “The thing is, Felya, I have never heard about the gun and I do not wish to hear anything about it. I paid Pasha off in 1967, and now you better get out of here and do not cover my mom’s name with shame”. After saying this, Eduard widely opened the door pointed his finger towards the exit from the room. Felix left the room in a hurry, mumbling some damnation.
It was around 9 pm, but Eduard was not hungry. He just wanted to wash his hands after the conversation with this vile man, which he did. Then he laid in his bed and did not notice how he dozed off. It was 10 pm and someone knocked on his door – this time it was Lena. She came at ten sharp as they agreed previously, with a bag crammed with the stuff from the restaurant. In the blink of an eye Lena set the table for two. Eduard highly appreciated her professionalism and gave her a tender French kiss. After they greeted each other this way they started their meal as two close people. Eduard with great attention and interest was listening to Lena’s story about her life: she married her classmate right after she completed grade 10 at school, then they got a baby boy called Roman. Also she mentioned that her husband had problems with alcohol and beat her and son. But at some point Lena’s dad was no longer able to deal with this situation and took Lena and her son to his place. Parents of Innokenty came over to Lena’s parents and asked them to keep the family, since Lena and son were, as it seemed to them, the only barrier for Innokenty not to take the low road. But Lena was against the reunion. She did not want to see her husband drunk every day, listen to nonsense, and, more than that, experience violence. Why? The love was gone with the first act of domestic violence against Lena. One day, the problem was solved: drunk Innokenty jumped from the bridge and drowned, he was only 24 years old. Lena was reluctant to get married for a long time: she was afraid to marry either a pub crawler or a fighting cock, or someone with both characteristics at the same time. Besides that, Lena was a single mom, she had a son, Romka. When Romka went to school, a physics teacher from the same school started to make approaches to her (began to pay court to her). He was short in height, thin as a stick, a bit bold and wore glasses with a thick corneous rim. His name was Alexander Sergeyevich Ptushkov. So all his students, colleagues, and parents of his students, called him, as you correctly guessed, – Pushkin. Lena and Pushkin met each other at the chess club, which Lena’s son attended. Of course, Pushkin was the convener. Pushkin walked Lena and Roma home, thus, with these conversations on different topics, started their relationships. It would be wrong to say that Lena fell in love with him. She just realized that he is reliable, intelligent, and well-educated young man. But there was just one thing about him which confused her: he has not been married yet, he was thirty-one years old, he lived with his mother, he did not have the father, as his parents got divorced when he was a child and his mother brought him up on her own. It worth mentioning, that she brought him up very well. They were going to get married, and Lena’s parents invited Alexander and his mom for dinner, to get to know each other better, and to discuss the details about wedding and other everyday questions. Lena’s mother tried her best to please the guests, and the guests were pleased. It was decided that tomorrow they will go to the Civil Registry Office to apply and assign a wedding date. But something unexpected happened. When Alexander and his mom were about to enter the building where they lived, a crying schoolgirl ran to the public entrance of the building and two guys a little bit older than her chased her. She was yelling loudly, but no one from these apartments came to help her. Pushkin recognized Galya Mel’nikova, a grade 7 student from their school. Without hesitation, he ran to the building to help her. She pulled away from the hands of one of the attackers and ran along the street in ripped stockings calling out for help. The guys, who were chasing Galya, ran away. Ptushkov was laying on the floor in the entrance hallway next to the radiator with broken glasses and a fractured nose until the police officers arrived, called by some of the inhabitants. When police arrived, people started to come out of their apartments to see what have just happened. There were a lot of people, but no one could say anything as they all were sitting in their “holes” waiting at their doors for this to finish, so they could come outside their apartments and get the information about the accident first hand. An ambulance arrived, and Galya, as a victim, was taken to the regional hospital.Because Ptushkov was the only person involved in the accident, he was taken to the police department. He was put in the slammer, which was packed, there was not enough room to swing a cat. It smelled awful, and there was no sanitation. Many people smoked in the room, and there was an odor of alcohol in the air. There was no room to have a seat, so everyone was standing like in a bus, shifting from foot to foot, and every half an hour more and more people were brought there. Alexander Sergeyevich hardly managed to wait until the morning, it seemed to him that it is a nightmare, which is about to be over. In the morning he was brought to the investigator for questioning. The investigator, a young woman with a rank of Lieutenant of Police asked Ptushkov questions not only about his life, but also about the events which happened that evening in the entrance hallway. He told in details how two guys (Ptushkov recognized one of them, it was Oleg Volkov, who studied in grade 10 in the school where Ptushkov worked) were tearing off Galya’s clothes. They already tore off her jacket and skirt, and were about to take off her stockings, when Ptushkov ran into the entrance hallway. Galya managed to pull away from the hands of one of the attackers and ran away calling out for help. In the next second Oleg Volkov smashed a fist in Ptushkov’s face, and Prushkov fell down and lost consciousness. He only regained consciousness when the police arrived. That was the only thing he could remember.
Mother of Alexander Sergeyevich spent the entire night at the police station, hoping that the situation will resolve itself and her son will be released. Only in the morning, at the Duty Room, she was told that her son – Ptushkov Alexander Sergeyevich was arrested on suspicion of having attempted a sexual assault of a schoolgirl at the entrance to his residential building. Ptushkov’s mother started to get outraged, saying that it can’t be true, then the officer on duty called the investigator using the internal phone line. And after a conversation with the investigator he told the mother that investigator Petrova would be able to meet with her at 2 pm. The mother had no option but to go home and visit the police station at the scheduled time.
At that moment, investigator Petrova was sitting at the office of Colonel Volkov Petr Olegovich, who was the Police Chief. She was reporting that his son Oleg Volkov was involved in an attempt of sexual assault of a minor Galina Melnikova, who is a seventh-grader at the school where his son studies. She also said that this information was obtained during the questioning of Ptushkov Alexander Sergeyevich, a physics teacher at their school, who was caught at the scene. As the suspect, in this case, he was moved to the Detention Facility. The Colonel turned red and looked like a cherry tomato, he was extremely angry. But he gathered his wits, summoned the secretary and the driver in his office, and ordered the investigator Petrova to keep silent and to keep the physics teacher at the Detention Facility until his further notice. Then he ordered the secretary to call his wife and warn her, that the son and she should stay home until the driver arrives. The driver, in turn, was ordered to pick Oleg up and drive him to the village where his grandmother lives, and explain him on the way that he was there from yesterday (even though he clearly wasn’t), because the grandmother “felt sick”.
In the morning, the hospital where Galya Melnikova was staying was visited by two guys in the civilian clothes. They brought her a bag of oranges and asked how she is doing. They also asked when she is going to be released from the hospital and whether she has reported the incident to the police. When they received a negative answer to their last question, one of the guys pulled the Finnish knife out the pocket and threatened her that if she points on Oleg Volkov, they will stab her to death. She turned pale with fear, but nodded in agreement, and the guys left the room. The same two guys visited Galya’s grandmother, they warned her that there would be negative consequences if she doesn’t keep her mouth shut. The guy who pulled out the knife at the hospital, at this time pulled out the wad of cash and put it on the TV. Galya’s grandmother understood everything at once. Galya didn’t have the parents: they died in a fire, and the grandmother took her in and started taking care of her, as much as she possibly could. She took the money; they would not hurt she thought.
At 2 pm, Phushkov’s mother was at the investigator Petrova’s office, where Petrova in a friendly, casual manner shared her opinion on the accident. Her opinion was the following: Ptushkov was very drunk and can’t quite remember what happened that night at the entrance to the residential building. On top of that the light was off – it was dark. And the victim Galina Melnikova didn’t see anybody else according to what she said during the questioning. So no matter what Alexander Sergeyevich’s mother did, no matter who she talked to, there was only one answer – everything will be determined by the court. And it did determine – Ptushkov was found guilty. Taken into account Ptushkov’s positive character references, he was sentenced to seven years for having attempted a rape of a minor.
The future inmates were already waiting for him in prison, as the information about the crime a person is charged for arrives in prison earlier than the person him/herself. And because of the article he was charged for, he had to be turned into a “rooster” (a term for a male who was raped) as soon as he walks in into prison cell, which was successfully executed: two inmates were holding him and the third one was raping. In the morning Ptushkov was found hanged on the headboard with two shoelaces.
Alexander Sergeyevich’s mother went crazy, Lena was visiting her at the mental health facility, until the mother died from stroke one day. So on that sad and ridiculous note the story of Lena’s second marriage was over, before it even began. Lena started to think that she was cursed and almost found herself in a religious sect. Fortunately, her dad figured out what was happening – he saw the wax candles on her table, some icons and some objects resembling sectarian amulets. One evening he followed her and forcefully dragged her from the warship house in the outskirt of the town. At home nobody made a scene, or lectured, or even moralized her and, needless to say, Lena realized herself, that this was too much, and that she will get over it soon. So at some point she started slowly forgetting Alexander Ptushkov and the horrible story that happened to his mother. After Lena finished her story, Eduard glanced at his watch – it was half past twelve. They finished the dinner, which turned out to be very delicious, and Eduard, after thanking Lena for it, proposed to go to sleep, as it was late and then both felt extremely sleepy.
Eduard woke up at 7 am, and Lena was already gone. On the table Eduard found a note, that read the following: “Edik! (diminutive of Eduard) Thank you for everything. I was deeply touched by your attitude towards me. I hope that we will continue seeing each other. Here are my home address and work phone number, I don’t have one at home yet. Goodbye, kiss you, Lena”.
After finishing reading the note Eduard smiled and put it under the passport cover. Than he put on the jacket, locked the room, check out of the hotel and headed to the bus station. In five hours he was already home, in his apartment # 39.
The previous apartment owner left a wardrobe with a built-in safe, that had a combination lock. Eduard pulled the contents of the package out of his pocket, the package that he extracted from the glass jar at the cemetery. He then transferred everything to the safe and locked it. The only things that he put in his wallet (“lopatnik” in Russian prison slang) was a small family photo from almost 30 years ago, where the whole family was together.
Eduard was sitting at the table and thinking how he should build his lonely life. He didn’t like the daily routine, as “home – work, work – home”. In that way one could go crazy or simply slowly become an alcoholic. Then suddenly he realized that there is no food in his apartment, and he was very hungry. Eduard locked the apartment, walked out of the building and crossed the street. There, on the other side of the street, was a small grocery store with a pretty straight-forward sign above it that read “Groceries”. He walked in the store, the food selection was quite poor, so he bought as he could and then headed back home. At the entrance to his apartment he discovered that there was a note stuck out of the gap between the door and the door frame. He extracted it from there and read over. It said: “Be at home tonight, we’ll be visiting”. Eduard examined the note and put it on the table next to the groceries that he just bought. He sat on the chair and started thinking: “Who could that be?” He ran through his head all the people he knew, including the guys from Solomon’s gang, but none of them could show up, without an order from pakhan (a term for a gang leader), there weren’t a secret sign on the paper – then it’s not from him. Moreover, no one would try to build a friendship with “the money bag”, as the guys from the gang called Ugryumov among themselves. Someone could just point at them if the coffers embezzlement happened, on top of that the chopped offhand of the former treasurer was still on everyone’s mind. So that couldn’t be a guest from Solomon’s gang resumed Eduard, and the local punks grew large in last ten years, so it will be better to meet the guests on the bench in front of the building, thought Eduard, at least there will be easier to run away. With these thoughts in mind he ate some food, went outside and sat on the bench waiting for the uninvited guests; he put a piece of pipe under the bench in case he heeds it.
It didn’t take long before the guests arrived, it turned out they were Eduard’s classmates – Alexey Kodanyov and Andrey Semenov, who arrived on the black “Volga” (a car brand). Andrey told the driver to drive to the garage, and the friends hugged after the long separation. Eduard invited them to his apartment. “So, Edik, tell us about your life behind the bars. I see you don’t have any tattoos. They didn’t have enough ink, or you didn’t want to get one?” – started Alexey Kodanyov slightly mockingly, and in the meanwhile Andrey Semenov pulled a small bottle of vodka out his pocket. He raised his glass with a short speech: “Guys! Edik, Lekha (diminutive for Alexey), let’s drink for our reunion, for you return, Edik. We knew that you’re not guilty and took the blame for Pavel, no one will blame you for that, it’s your decision and only God will judge you”. With these words Andrey clinked glasses with the guys and emptied his glass of vodka, Eduard and Alexey did the same. Then they gave a toast to their friends and parents, then a few glasses without a toast. They got to talking, everyone had something to share about himself. From the stories of his friends Eduard learned that Alexey Kodanyov joined the Army right after school, served the Pacific fleet, was demobilized, married, had two children – two girls, and now works as a lorry driver. As for Andrey Semenov, after the school he went to Gubkin Russian State University of Oil and Gas in Moscow, graduated, worked in a local party, then was moved to the local refinery as a chief engineer, where he works now. He was married twice, didn’t have any kids in the first marriage, but in the second – three kids, all boys. The friends finished their reunion after the midnight, the buses still ran, they said goodbye and headed to the bus stop. Eduard washed the dishes and went to sleep.
Eduard was highly respected at work, he never refused requests from his boss to stay for the second shift, or to do extra work at night or on the weekend. He was never late and was never missing work, so everybody around him started slowly forgetting that he is a former prisoner and treated him just like everyone else. It has been half a year since Eduard was released from prison, he was appointed as the foreman of a team of loaders, and then as the section manager of the cargo operations at the fruit and vegetable warehouse (“plodobaza”). It wasn’t a big position, with a high-level of responsibility, after all, he was in charge of twenty people and three forklifts. But most importantly, he had to write work orders and monitor the workers, so that they don’t steal whatever they are unloading. And that, by the way, was the worst part of that position. But fortunately, Ugryumov managed to convince his boss to implement a system where the cost of produce was deducted from the salary of the workers, and because that the people who were stealing the fruits and vegetables wouldn’t appear on the warehouse security reports. Everybody was happy with this innovation: both the boss and, above all, the workers, who could now discuss with their families if they need to buy certain groceries, as the price was deducted from their salaries. And some workers completely stopped stealing, as there was no adventure, no risk involved any more. The year passed by very quickly, at work Eduard gradually got rid of all the drunkards, and those who had a big mouth – the workers who would rather fight for their rights then actually work. He also decreased the number of people in the brigades and by doing that he was able to raise the salary and significantly decrease the staff turnover among the workers. No one called him Edik any more, but instead – Eduard Ivanovich, his authority among the employees was very high, and deservedly so.
On one of the weekends Eduard, once again, travelled to his home town, he visited the graves of his mother and brother and he was heading back to the bus station, when suddenly a woman’s voice called him from behind: “Edik, Hello!” He turned back and he saw Lena. She was standing in front of him in a thin cotton dress, with her hair loose, wearing bright red lipstick, she was smiling and happy. “Oh, hi, Lena, I’m glad to see you. How is your young life going?” – said Eduard, looking at Lena with interest. “It’s going OK. You haven’t called me, and, for the record, I was waiting for your call”. And two big tears, like two peas, shed from her eyes, but Eduard pretended that he didn’t notice it. After a pause he said: “Sorry, Lena, it just happened that way”. “And I’m getting married with the geologist, – continued Lena, – his name is Ruslan, and were are moving to Yamal (a peninsula in northwest Siberia, Russia). Without Romka (diminutive for Roman), when we settle down – we will take him with us.” A good looking beard-man came up to them, put his hand on Lena’s shoulder with confidence, greeted them and said: “Hello, I’m Ruslan”. Eduard replied: “Nice to meet you, my name is Eduard”. “So, we have to go, – said Lena in a commanding tone. – There is a lot of things we need to do before we leave, as usual everything is left for the last days”. They said goodbye, and Eduard went back to his town.
On Sunday morning Eduard had some guests, it was “shestyerka” (an errand boy, a “six” in Russian prison slang) from the gang boss. Eduard recognized the note by the secret sign – the folded, but not cut, right corner of the note, that read: “Do what the messenger tells you”. Eduard figured out that Solomon was released. He turned to the messenger and said: “So, let’s hear it”. An errand boy exactly reproduced the message, as he was told to, it went: “You have to be at the “By the river” restaurant at thewharf at 19:00, be alone, dress appropriately. Entrance is at the right side ramp; you will say a password at the entrance to the banquet hall. You have to ask: “How is the captain feeling?” They should respond: “With God’s help, he is feeling better”. Without saying goodbye, the messenger left, in the same way as he came – very quickly. The week started as usual, but there was some tension at work, the end of the month was approaching and it was needed to push ahead in completing the monthly work plan. Eduard had taken the necessary measures: he added an extra forklift for the night shift, called the railway station dispatcher and ordered two extra cargo wagons, he also pulled a night shift to manage the unloading of barrel packages, so the problem with completing the plan in time was solved successfully. The end of the week was close, Eduard checked his wardrobe and discovered that his shoes were worn out and that he needs to get a new shirt, but his suit looked brand new, as he only wore it twice. Eduard made sure that he looks good, and then he arrived to the boat at the allotted time. He said the password and entered the banquet hall. The tables at the banquet hall were placed in such a way that they formed a “П” letter (a letter of Russian alphabet). They were full of the delicious food of all sorts, like at a good wedding. In the corner of the hall Eduard spotted Semen Isaakovich, who was wearing a white tuxedo and dark blue pants. It was a gray-haired, intelligent looking man, who only a bit resembled the one Eduard saw in prison. He was standing and talking, surrounded by several people. Two “errand boys” approached him and one of them said quietly: “Someone is waiting for you in the restaurant director’s office, follow us”. Eduard followed them and found himself in an office that didn’t quite look like the director’s office, but in a few minutes Semen Isaakovich entered the room and they warmly greeted each other, and sat at the table. Solomon started speaking: “I will be brief. It is good that you send the money to the disabled that had suffered in the shoot-out with the cops, who we decided to help at the last “skhodka”. I heard good things about you from the warehouse director. And, most importantly – I need money to bribe some cop for one great favor that he did for us. And also, it is an unstable time right now, my own people betrayed me, and we also got a beef with the neighboring gang, so as “comrades” say: “We only dream about peace”. With these words, he stood up and left to start the criminals’ meeting. The meeting was in full swing when one of the members of Revision Commission stood up and announced the following: “We conducted an audit of the coffers fund’s balance sheet for the time period since the last audit”. Everyone stopped chewing, there was a dead silence. The Revision Commission member continued: “Korzuha and Kasha didn’t collect the protection money on time from the businesses that they were protecting, so they will have to pay a fine of 50% of the protection money, and I suggest to burn the protected businesses, to set an example to others. And speaking of the balance sheet, we have no questions. Ugryumov does everything as the “skhodka” commands. And lastly, Semen Isaakovich requests 25 thousand dollars to solve one very important problem”. One of the criminals asked Solomon (who was hosting this meeting): “Could you be more specific, how would you spend this money?” Solomon stood up and, looking at the person who asked the question, said: “As you might imagine, because of the several reasons I can’t tell you the answer right here and now.” Everyone who wants to know the answer for the stated question, visit the director’s office, and I will be happy to explain, how I will spend those bucks. So let’s vote now”. The meeting unanimously voted for all the items that were proposed by the Revision Commission members. The criminal, who was asking how the money would be spent, entered the restaurant director’s office. He was greeted by two other criminals, one of them pointed the gun at his forehead and fired, the gun clapped. The body was immediately thrown to the manhole that were located in the middle of the office; they closed the manhole and quickly left the office, as if nothing happened. On the same night, two grocery pavilions were burned to the ground, the perpetrators weren’t found.
Another half a year passed, Eduard, to spend his free time in a useful way, enrolled in anextramural program at the local Institute of Finance. He was spending all his free time reading books, studying banking and accounting, finance law. He was ordering books from Moscow and other cities and was spending a lot of time in the library. One of the reasons why he started studying finance was because he didn’t want the criminals to ever doubt his competence as a treasurer. Also he wanted to learn how to properly maintain records of the incoming protection money and fees from the gang members, or to keep track of everything that the “skhodka” orders, or most importantly to make all the Solomon’s expenses “legal”, as he liked living large, not hesitating to use the money from the coffers. The main expenditure item that could be found on the coffers balance sheet was “bribing of the officials”. Go and figure out whether Solomon actually used all the money he asked for to bribe a certain official, or he could use less, or maybe he didn’t give a bribe at all and spent the money the way he wanted. Eduard was never interested how and where Solomon spent the money, the only thing he was interested was how to formally record Solomon’s expenditures. He lived by the principles: “Less you know, better you sleep”, and: “Think about this money as if it didn’t exist”. He was always ready to provide the balance report to the Revision Commission, members of which were experienced con men, who served several sentences for the financial fraud, and it was very hard to trick them, but he wasn’t going to do that anyway. Sometimes it would happen that the Revision Commission members would come without any notice and ask him to explain an expenditure item on the balance sheet. And Eduard, as calm as usual, reported to the Revision Commission, successfully, of course. There have been some cases when the Revision Commission members offered Eduard to write off a large sum of money and split the money in a way that even if someone were to go over the coffers balance sheet with a fine tooth comb, it still wouldn’t raise any suspicion. But Eduard held his own, so that the Revision Commission members stopped their offers after a while, explaining that they were testing him, if he was one of those who would steal the money from the coffers at the earliest opportunity.
Years flew by, slowly but surely Eduard graduated from the university and got his higher education diploma, he celebrated this event with his friends in a restaurant – Alexey and Andrey were there with their wives. Eduard also invited his new mistress Elvira, a worker at the fruit and vegetable warehouse, who would often help him spend his lonely nights, and who never asked anything back from him. She was divorced and lived with her mother and 5-year old son.
One day, the “errand boy” run over to Eduard’s work and breathless he handed Eduard the note from Solomon. The note was actually from Solomon, it read: “Do what the messenger tells you”. Eduard read the note and commanded: “Let’s hear!” And the messenger told him that Solomon is in a cancer unit of the Regional Hospital and that he has cancer, and that he ordered Ugryumov to visit him in the hospital immediately. Eduard, after explaining the situation, asked the warehouse manager to allow him to use work car. The warehouse director was very upset when he heard this news. Then he called the warehouse foreman and ordered him to put the best fruits in a bag and give it to Ugryumov. In three hours, Eduard was standing in front of the single hospital room where Solomon was staying. There were no people in the ward aside from Solomon. He was lying on the bed, his face was pale and sallow. The man, who once was a gray-haired, energetic, ruddy-faced leader of the mobster community, now barely resembled himself. He looked helpless and defenseless. Eduard pretended that nothing happened, he cracked a smile, and after a greeting said: “Here are the fruits for you, Semen Isaakovich, they are from our manager, he wishes you get well soon”. “There can’t be a recovery!” Yesterday they sent me here from Moscow, basically to die, they didn’t want me to spoil the statistics. So, Edik, – Solomon called him that for the first time, – I am glad that I wasn’t wrong about you; you see that the disease spares nobody – neither mobsters not the righteous men. Dorokh should be here soon, I will have a chat with him regarding my replacement, and hopefully Dorokh will also like you”. Solomon died on the same night, the funeral was big and lavish, as it is supposed to be for a mobster leader. There was no such a funeral in the region for a long time. There was a “skhodka” on the evening of the same day, the new mobster boss was chosen, it was Dorokh. One day Eduard got a letter from Margarita Stepanovna – she was their family apartment-mate. The letter read that there was a notice that arrived at his old address regarding a letter from Moscow, from someone named Bessler. It was a registered letter, so he receives it only if he comes there personally and showes his ID. Eduard got the permission of his boss to leave the work a bit earlier, he went to the central post office and talked the workers into sending the letter to here, as his address changed. On the next day Eduard received the letter from David Bessler. The letter said that David got married and that he has two twin daughters, Sonechka and Asen′ka, and his wife’s name is Basya. He also sent a photo of his happy family of four. Eduard was sincerely happy for David. In the letter David shared that he is studying the stock market right now and will soon be participating in the several stock exchanges, and for now he is buying the stocks of the companies on the cheap. Their stocks dropped in price but potentially should rise and make him a good profit. He also said his mentor is his father-in-law, Ber Aron Borisovich, who is the owner of abank in Moscow, and who is much respected in the financial world.
David also mentioned that he told his father-in-law and his wife about the accident in prison, when one of the inmates tried to kill David, and that Eduard saved him. In addition, David wrote that he invites Eduard, along with his wife and children, to visit him in Moscow and that he has enough space to comfortably host everyone. Eduard carefully read the letter and glanced at the photo one more time, the photo with the happy luminous faces of the people who were almost a family to him. And he said out loud: “Good job David Naumovich, there is nothing more to say. But I am not married, and while you are earning money and bringing up your cute daughters, I am protecting the mobsters’ coffers, just like a dog in the manger. Eduard for a minute was lost in thought, he put the letter and the photo in the envelope, the memories of the 14 years of imprisonment crossed his head, and the only bright spot there was David Bessler.
Ten years passed from the moment when Eduard Ivanovich Ugryumov was released from prison. For well-known reasons he didn’t get married. A year ago David Bessler came over to visit him for a few days; they spent the whole night and whole following day talking. They were talking about removing the conviction from the Ugryumov’s official record, the conviction for the murder that he hadn’t committed. David decided to undertake this task, with the help of the lawyers from Moscow, who were the good friends of his parents. Soon after the conversation between David and Eduard, the lawyers from one reputable Moscow law firm arrived to the town to solve the problem of removing the conviction. They worked at the City Police Department, at the Regional Prosecutor’s Office and at the court for almost one and a half months, conducted several key forensic examinations and proved that Ugryumov Eduard Ivanovich could not possibly be at the scene at the time when the cashier was murdered. The new trial date was set, the witnesses from 25 years ago were called and the court made a fresh decision, that clearly stated that the previous decision is unlawful, and the fresh decision, which says that Ugryumov Eduard Ivanovich is not guilty, enters into force instead.
Another two weeks passed by. Eduard was visited by an “errand boy” when he was at his dacha. The “errand boy” brought a letter from Dorokh that said the following: “Do what the messenger tells you”. “I am listening,” – said Eduard, talking to the “errand boy”, who immediately responded: “The skhodka is scheduled for Friday, on the one-year anniversary of the day when Solomon died, at 3 pm, at the “Coziness” restaurant, you have to be there”. “I will surely be there”, responded Eduard and in a moment the messenger disappeared.
Dorokh wanted to replace Ugryumov with his own handpicked successor for a while. There was no obvious reason to change the keeper, because he did the coffers related business perfectly, so the mobsters may not support him without a reason. And the needed reason was found. The chief medical office at the City Hospital, a good friend of Dorokh, once shared that Ugryumov has some heart problems and that anything could happen to him. Right after that Dorokh called Eduard for a talk, he promised to leave him the apartment, give him a bonus and put him out to pasture, live his own life. And it actually happened, Dorokh kept his word: the skhodka decided to leave Ugryumov the apartment, they gave him one thousand dollars and put him out to pasture, to live out his life however he wants.
So, dear reader, let’s get back to those two youngsters with the stolen safe in a gym duffle bag. About 11 am the “Mazda” drove to the garage cooperative on the edge of the town. A young man with buzzed hair was driving the car, he was wearing a gray coat (the girl got out of the car at the city center). After spotting his garage in one of the rows of the garage complex, he drove to it and stopped in front of the gates. Then he got out of the car, unlocked the garage and swung the gates wide open. He parked his car in the garage and, after closing the gates from the inside, carefully took off the coat and the apron with tools. Then he gently rolled the apron in a tube and put it in the plastic bag, that kept ready specifically for that purpose, he pulled the brick out of the wall that had a hiding place in it, and, after putting the apron in there, he put the brick back in its usual place. The garage had two floors – the first, where the car was parked, and the second right below it. By the way, this type of the garage layout was very common. It’s necessary to say that the garage owner – the “Mazda driver” – kept the place in order, every little thing had its own place, and that was true for both first and the second floor. Many housewives would envy his housekeeping skills, but that’s beside the point. Let’s get back to the young man. He slightly opened the garage door and, after he made sure that there is nothing suspicious outside, closed it again. Then he took the gym bag with the safe out the car. After pulling the safe out, he put a medical stethoscope in the ears, placed its membrane on the front side of the safe and using some specific technique started rotating the disk and pressing the safe keyboard keys. After half an hour of hard work, the safe opening operation was completed, the door finally opened and the young man could see all the safe content. There were 14 tsar coins (dated back to the tsar period of Russian history); two Orders of Glory of the second and the third order from the World War II times; big gold pendent on a long gold chain with a ruby of a size of a big walnut half. In the safe corner, kind of separated from the rest, wrapped in a newspaper, there were two sports medals and also an old black and white photo depicting the guy in the tracksuit that were worn by the athletes in the 50s or 60s. The young man was not surprised by the contents of the safe, not by the photos, not by the sports medals, not by the Orders of Glory, not by the antique pendent, not even by the gold tsar coins. The only thing that he hadn’t found there was a big sum of money and a gun, which were the main reasons why they broke into the apartment.
The young man pulled the brick out again, the brick that he used to mask the hiding-place in the wall. Than he carefully transferred all the safe contents to the hiding-place and put the brick back in. After that he took a plastic cup and used it to mix the cement. With this cement he covered up the joint between the wall and a brick and did it in such a way that even an experienced bricklayer wouldn’t be able to see the difference. He put an infrared heater right next to the place where the brick was, and he pointed the hot air stream right on the joint, so that it could dry faster. Then he got in the car and started thinking how these things could possibly be in the safe of the apartment owner. And as he was not able to come up with a worthy explanation, he decided that these objects were someone’s family heirloom and nothing else. And the gun and the money did not necessarily have to be there: they could be hidden in a different place, even though he got a tip from his “friend” that both the money and the gun had to be in the apartment. In the evening of the same day the young man met up with his associate, the forth year student at the Regional University, Lola Serditova and shared with her his opinion about the contents of the safe. The young man was older than Lola and worked at the mechanical plant as a tool-maker of the sixth-grade, at the shop that was making non-standard equipment. The name of the young man was Boris Fomitchev. He met Lola when she came to his shop to get some keys, which she said she “lost”, but Boris was surprised that she knew the key profile number and also the numbers of the cuts without actually having the key, just from memory. Lola actually was gifted: she only needed to see a key once and she could recite its profile and cuts numbers, and the whole key structure. Before Boris used to work alone, sometimes with his friend, but not using Lola’s gift, that had to do with his “profession”, would have been not very smart, to say the least. So Boris offered Lola to meet up in a café and then, when he was walking her to the student dormitory, he offered her to become his companion in this simple business. The business of robbing apartments, safes and offices, or of picking up everything “that’s not tied down”. And Lola accepted the offer, as she was also trying to find some way to use her “criminal gift”, and they got along pretty well as the companions, as the saying goes “birds of a feather flock together”. Boris and Lola would prepare each new operation very thoroughly. They would try to come up with the ways “to meet” a key, and it’s fair to say that they managed to do it pretty well. And this case wasn’t an exception, they took every single detail into consideration. Lola visited the apartment # 39, “to check the gas equipment”, and when she made sure that everything works fine, she glanced at the keys that were hanging on the nail, right next to the electricity meter, and then after she briefly familiarized herself with the apartment, she said goodbye and left. They also considered the fact that the apartment owner had to be at his dacha at the moment of robbery, and also that it was a rainy night.
Eduard found out what happened only two days after that, when he arrived back home from his dacha. He figured out who could had tipped on his apartment. Obviously, that could only be Felix Korotkov, who still couldn’t get over it. Eduard couldn’t report the robbery of his apartment to the police, as there were gold and antique pendent involved, and he decided for himself that it was the price that he had to pay for his freedom, and for the parallel world that he lived in for 25 years of his life.
One day Eduard was riding a bus back home from his dacha, and the bus suddenly stopped right before the bridge and the passengers could see the following scene: a car, after breaking the wooden safety fence, dived into the river. The bus passengers were mostly elderly people, so Eduard without a second thought jumped from the bridge, swam to the sinking car and opened the passenger door. A lifeless body of a young woman was pushed out of the car. Eduard transported it to the river bank, where the bus driver and the drivers of the other cars were waiting for them. The doctors managed to save the girl’s life. The driver and the passenger who were sitting in the back seat tried to escape through the same front door, as all the other ones got jammed after the collision, but they got stuck and eventually drowned. The girl’s name was Lola Serditova, she found out about her survivor from the article in a local newspaper. She took all the stolen items from the hiding place in the garage and returned them to him, and also gave her word that she won’t ever steal again. “The God will judge you”, – said Eduard instead of goodbye. After talking to her he found out that Boris Fomitchev and Felix Korotkov were the driver and the passenger in that horrible accident.
The time flew by, Eduard decided to finally take up on David’s invitation and visit Moscow for a few days to meet his family. And it wouldn’t hurt to see the capital, especially as he has never been there before. Moscow gave him a quite warm welcome. David met him at the airport on his personal “BMW”. By that time, he was already the head of one of the famous Moscow brokerage companies and his company was doing pretty well at the time. David and his family lived in a three-story mansion near Rublevskoye Highway (a prestigious residential area in the suburb of Moscow), that was built on his special order. It had twelve bedrooms, a swimming pool and other luxury attributes, which would separate the residents of this house from the regular Moscow residents. It’s necessary to say that the money that David Naumovich Bessler was earning was coming from the honest hard work, and using his head and analytical brain, that was geared from making profits from all possible sources that are not criminal. They arrived to the house just in time for lunch. Eduard, as an important guest, was put in the best bedroom. The best according to the hosts, even though it was barely different from the other rooms. Eduard got himself together after the trip and then joined the hosts at the table, they were already waiting for him. At lunch he was introduced to family members. So Eduard finally met David’s wife Basya and also their children, twins Sonya and Asya. Basya was a pretty brown-eyed brunette. She made a positive impression on Eduard by showing herself to be a well-mannered, funny young woman, who in fact she was. On the evening of the same day all the friends and relatives gathered in David and Basya’s house. Among them there were two David’s cousins with their wives and Basya’s friend from the school times Alla. She was a quite pretty blonde, not married, divorced, didn’t have kids, her ex-husband went to live in Italy with his secretary. Why there is such a detailed description of Alla? Just because Basya wanted to introduce Alla to a decent man, and, according to David, Eduard was one of them.
It is necessary to say that Eduard made a positive impression on Alla, in her eyes he was unsociable and even frowning. Alla didn’t like talkative men, she liked calm ones, in short – silent, exactly as Eduard was. And speaking of Eduard, he didn’t really notice Alla at the beginning, because he was busy introducing himself to David’sfamily and was worried if he looks like farm boy compared to them. But Alla was worried just about one thing – whether Eduard is the man with whom she could build her future life. They were seated at the table together on purpose, so that they could have a conversation. “So, how do you like Moscow?” – asked Alla first hoping to strike up a conversation. “I managed to see Moscow only in the morning from the car window – the city is big, beautiful, it impresses me as it is my first time here. Hopefully, David will be able to show me the main attractions of Moscow”, – said Eduard to David. David looked at Basya, quickly figured out what she thought about that question, and immediately replied to Eduard: “You know, Eduard, I have a lot of work this week. But what if we ask Allochka (diminutive for Alla) to be your Moscow attractions guide? She is a Moscow native and I think she won’t refuse to be your guide, especially as she is on vacations right now. Alla felt a little confused but, after she looked at Basya who kept winking at her that meant “You need to agree!”, finally agreed to accompany him in Moscow, and David promised to provide them with a car.
The city tour took the entire next day and the day that followed it. Alla turned out to be a great narrator, who is also big on the Moscow history, and in general a very interesting person to talk to. They talked a lot about themselves, Eduard shared with Allathe story of his past life, and also why he still wasnot married and about their friendship with David. Alla also shared a lot about herself, about her friendship with Besslers family, and about her unhappy marriage, about the husband who constantly cheated on her and also didn’t want to have kids. In the evening of the second day of their Moscow sightseeing tour Alla suddenly offered to come to her apartment for a cup of tea to see how she lives. Eduard found this offer very appropriate, especially as he also wanted to spend some time with Alla in private. They thanked the driver for his patience and let him go. After that, the elevator took them on the sixth floor of the Stalin period building where Alla lived. She got a big four-bedroom apartment from her parents that left for Australia and lived there now. The apartment had a lot of books, paintings and vases, mainly Chinese ones, as her father used to work with the Chinese engineers, he had a Ph.D. in engineering, was a famous hydraulic builder, visited China many times.
While Eduard was examining the paintings and the vases, Alla quickly set out the food for two people on the coffee table. She also put a bottle of good French cognac there, turned on the lighting, and languid music started flowing somewhere from the ceiling, enchanting Eduard and tempting him to immerse into a new romantic adventure.
He didn’t have to wait long for Alla: in a few minutes she appeared in front Eduard in a Chinese silk robe of the crimson color with the peacocks. She walked to the table and poured the cognac in the glasses. She handed one of them to Eduard and quietly whispered: “For us meeting, Edik!” “For us meeting, Alla”, – quietly said Eduard, and gently kissed her on the cheek. They clinked glasses, took a sip and then simultaneously put the glasses back on the coffee table. They started dancing – she was holding her hands around his neck, and he was holding her waist, they were kissing incessantly. She took his tie and blazer off as they continued kissing, the robe quietly slipped from her shoulders and she was appeared before him completely naked. He picked her up, and after stepping over the robe, carried her to the bedroom. In a minute, without shaming each other, they were doing various sexual pirouettes, getting a great deal of pleasure in the process. And they did it as if they knew each other for years. Eduard for the first time in his life felt like a boy who fell in love. Alla realized that he was the right man for her.
The following day was Saturday. Alla and Eduard were woken up by a call from Basya, who could not wait to hear how the whole story ended. After saying hi, dying to know the details, she asked: “How was it?” “As in the fairytale!” – said Alla in a sleepy languid voice. “All the details later”, – added Alla and hung up the phone. Eduard heard the entire phone conversation of two friends and said with a grin: “You and Basya are great conspirators. Thanks Besslers family for introducing us to each other, Allochka”, said Eduard kissing her and seducing to make love one more time. She didn’t mind and gave in to his desires.
The Saturday evening there was a party at the yard of Bessler’s house in Rublyovka. Many important guests were invited there, among whom were the bankers and businessmen – the good friends of David and Basya. The families of friends of Asen′ka and Sonechka were also invited. So, for Eduard it was the first time experiencing a real Jewish holiday – Bat Mitzvah, a celebration that is organized by the parents of the girls who turn 12, it is a coming of age ritual when a girl becomes a young woman. By Jewish traditions, girls become adults and now have to take responsibility for their actions. The most important things for the girls on that day is to wear their best clothes and to receive a lot of expensive gifts. And, in fact, the girls were dressed just like princesses, they were dancing and having fun, and the guests showered them with gifts; so they remembere this celebration for their entire life.
During the stay in Moscow Eduard felt the real man friendship stronger than ever, the friendship with the man, who became closer to him than the brother, and David’s whole family treated him, in fact, as if he was a part of their family. Sunday was the day when Eduard had to fly back home, the farewell was about to happen. Before the farewell, David asked Eduard to come to his office and without saying anything handed him a check for 250 000 euros, that he had prepared beforehand. After that he said: “This is for you from our family as a thank-you gift for our long-standing friendship. And don’t even think about refusing it. You should move to Moscow, I’ll help you to get back on your feet and forget about the times that you went through”. Eduard took the check, hugged David and the man’s tears shed from his eyes. The most difficult was to say goodbye to Alla, the woman who has entered his heart and, apparently, hooked him. For Alla, Eduard became a very close person in those three days, she knew that he is the person that she needs.
Eduard said goodbye to everybody in the family, and then the driver drove him to the airport, and by the noon he already arrived in his apartment. Everything happened so fast that he wasn’t able to believe himself, he thought that it was a dream. Then he pulled the passport out of inside blazer pocket. In the passport, there were the tickets to Moscow and the photo of Alla, which reminded him that everything that happened in the past few days was real. Eduard was sitting on the sofa and felt somewhat depressed, yearning oppressed his heart, and he couldn’t do anything about it.
But he gathered his wits, got all the pessimistic thoughts out of his mind, and decided that if life gives him a real chance to live like a human being, then he definitely has to take it.
The next week was a farewell week. First of all, he quit his job, where he had to throw a farewell dinner-party. Everyone was saying a lot of good things about him, regretting that he leaves, and giving the farewell speeches. He visited his home town, ordered the fence and the granite tombstones for the graves of his mother and Pavel. He also put the apartment and the dacha in Elvira’s name, and visited Solomon’s grave, who played a quite significant role in his life. Then he said goodbye to the city where he spent almost 11 uneasy years and headed to Moscow.
In Moscow everything went the best way possible. He got married (of course he married Alla), and soon they had a wonderful son, he was named after his grandfather – Vanya, and as a push present (a gift to mark the occasion of the birth of the first child) Alla got Eduard’s family heirloom – the gold pendent with the ruby. Besides that, Eduard got a medical check-up in a cardiac center in Moscow and he was sent to Germany to undergo surgery, which turned out very successful. The surgery and all the following medical treatment was paid by Alla’s father from Australia. So soon Eduard was able to forget about his heart problems. Eduard got a position at the bank of David’s father-in-law, he was working in his occupation field, the one that he studied at the Institute of Finance. By the way, his position as the keeper of the mobsters’ coffers also came in handy, the position that vaguely reminded of the past life in the parallel world…