In his most recent writing,
«Russian Vultures», a treatment for a documentary series on four young
Russian women on the make in Vladivostok, he incisively explores with humor,
horror, and compassion the decay and corruption of this Far-Eastern Pacific
outpost and the rot in the souls of those who would feast on it.
Pulitzer Prize winner
They say that from the pictures Vladivostok resembles San Fransisco.
It really does: with its hills, the bay, the woods... For more similarity,
though, you will need complete darkness, but that’s no problem here. At
the very end of the 20th century the city cuts off electricity
at 9 pm each single day. Now, the resemblance is startling. But don’t open
your eyes in the morning or you will confirm the opposite.
You can’t believe this city! It is filthy. Trash everywhere and dust
and dirt. Seems like filth was embedded from day one, but now the city
is at its nadir. Go to the waterfront, there is a small beach there. You
expected it to be like a beach anywhere you have been before? You were
wrong. Everywhere you go there is trash and stench around. Be careful,
scraps of garbage are strewn by the wind! Run to tram or bus or trolleybus.
Ooops, there is always standing room only. But what a fragrance! Don’t
look left. Dumps just beside the residences are teeming with rats. Don’t
look right. Abandoned by their masters, sick homeless cats and dogs are
waiting for death from the forthcoming winter. Wanna take a bath? It’s
almost impossible. Typically, there is no hot water down here. But if you
are lucky enough to live in a neighbourhood with temporary access to it,
you can enjoy its tea-like coloring. Don’t use elevators. You can be stuck
in one and then all you will have to do is smell piss for hours until the
light comes back. Don’t drive at night, either. The roads here are worse
than any backroads country gravel road you have ever seen.
People here are crass, but what can you expect from them on this feast
of life? A salary of $200 per month is not bad here. The pensioners normally
have less than $100 per month in one of Russia’s most expensive cities.
It’s almost enough for bread and tea. They wear their mended clothes for
tens of years. Eyes-downcast, they plod up and down the hilly streets with
a trifling, yet impossible dream for an apple or cheap ice cream on a stick.
All of a sudden, something or somebody rivets the attention of the
elderly. It’s a cluster of young women, all in their late 20s or early
30s, all tall and attractive, all thriving, all of different Russian types.
They look fabulous gathered all together, especially with the background
of bleak streets and heaps of garbage - short skirts, long legs, high heels,
tight blouses, naked bellies, leather-clad behinds. The elderly are numbly
hating their designer threads, their audacious looks, their beaming surface.
But the babes don't give a shit about them, hurtling along with their heavy
These girls are living in this city, too. They are trying to ignore
its filth with their gleaming. But their guts belong in it.
Here are the stories of these four girls - all friends, related by
chance, tied by life...
They will be told by themselves and a variety of other people.
Vulture #1, Adelaida
She prefers to be called Ada, an artificial blonde with comics-like
features and no less than two plastic surgeries. Originally her hair was
crow-black, and her nose was big and aquiline. She decided to change the
will of Mother Nature after some rude people told her that she looked like
a Jewish girl - an obscenity she just couldn’t stand. She told me in her
very enthusiastic manner how the Russian medicine craftsmen were gouging
her nasal bone with chisel and hammer. And she even wasn’t under an anaesthetic,
since she had to hawk her blood out, she explained.
Working with Her Face
Adelaida is the kind of person who would cut her own throat if it helps
her to look more gorgeous. When she was eighteen, she was seriously pondering
the idea of changing her sex and appearing before the numbing world under
the male name of Sasha. In her soul, wierd romantic ingenuity marched hand
in hand with the perfect knowledge of what she wanted from life and an
incredible zeal for achieving her mostly ridiculous goals. This quality
of her nature made her both frightening and deserving of pity. Hot-tempered
and easily angered, she might have flouted her dopey schoolmates, and yet
cried all night long over her girly troubles and endless "facial problems".
So with the accomplishment of her vigorous attack on her appearance,
instead of a long one, she became a happy owner of a thick one, but not
a Jewish one at least!! Then all of a sudden, in the middle of all this
mess, she found herself heading towards graduation from the university
- Department of Journalism. It wasn’t a very big deal for her, though.
Her education wasn’t meant to lead her to a professional career in some
chosen field. By entering the university, Adelaida just followed a tradition
- to study somewhere after high school.
She wasn’t too bad as a student, but all her practical works were typically
being done by her friends from the local radio station and only signed
by her. While in the university, she had much more important things to
do. She killed most of her time striving to buy clothing that she needed,
which wasn’t that easy in Russia at that time. She might have been busy
all day long trading her jeans for a pair of other ones, or finding a friend
of a friend to whom she would sell her jacket - only to be able to wake
up at 5 am the next morning to go to the clothing market somewhere miles
away to buy a new skirt or something. She enjoyed dancing, hosting parties
and flirting with men. One of her lovers, a vodka-loving journalist who
worked as a part-time employee at the university, ultimately helped her
with her thesis.
She had so much on her mind. She wanted to sing, she wanted to star
in a movie, she wanted to buy an expensive mink fur-coat, she wanted to
go to America, yet she might have been eating nothing but salt all day
long. She had lots of ambition, but no money. She was hungry. She needed
men. Now, with a brand-new nose and a diploma in her pantyhose, it was
the perfect time to unload the heavy artillery. Now she could work with
her face, like most Russian girls do, with her face and just a little tiny
bit of her brain!
A hot and boisterous babe, she enjoyed sex very much but somehow she
always managed to earn some income out of it. A man was supposed not only
to satisfy her in the right way, but to feed her with a good lunch in an
expensive restaurant, buy some necessary items for her gaudy outfit, provide
some sort of entertainment and, if possible, some cash. The more money
a man gave to her, the more he loved her, Adelaida thought.
Almost from the very beginning of her sex life, this wise girl understood
that only foreign men could fully satisfy all her needs. She took advantage
of the fall of the iron curtain in the late 80s when several foreign ships
came to Vladivostok for a stay. Right away she fell in love with a handsome
sailor from a Greek ship on account of his striking resemblence to some
personage from her wildest dreams. After a while, however, the material
girl that she is, decided to date another Greek - the not so handsome supervisor
of her romantic hero, whom she considered much more reliable. Then that
masculine marine was gone, promising her all his love and an invitation
to the country of Homer. The whole year long she was answering his passionate
calls from somewhere under the Acropolis, still earning money with her
face and the other parts of her hot body. Eventually she went to Greece
- only to learn that her courteous beau was gay.
Wild Adventures of a Lonesome Soul
Unlike most of her friends, Adelaida was happy enough to have her parents
far away from her - in the Ukraine. They seemed not to care about her which
made her somewhat sore. On the other hand, she had a two-room apartment
at her own disposal, and Adelaida managed to use the only piece of property
she had, the best way she could. It was a place where she and her friends
were dating their lovers - one pair per room, sometimes more. When she
needed the money, she would lease her home to some Korean or American businessmen,
wandering endlessly from one of her friends to another.
In a city like Vladivostok, with the business inclinations she had,
Adelaida could not help experiencing some dirty, but at the same time,
funny stories. Once, she and her friend were propositioned by some Chinese
businessman to have a nice relaxing sauna together. Adelaida was offered
a pair of cheap shoes or something to appear, and of course, she couldn’t
resist the temptation. Things in the sauna were getting along just fine
until some professional whores ‘‘working’’ in this sauna for some ‘‘solid’’
prostitutes’ firm, saw Adelaida and her friend in their steamy work place.
Immediately they squealed on them to the guarding pimps or – who knows?
-- pimping guards, who anyhow knew their job and didn’t fail to express
all their power with all possible humiliation. As a punishment, the girls
were ... orally raped by the guards which in this case sounded almost like
a merciful and courteous forgiveness.
Another story involved an ugly aging lady who claimed that she had
a gallery in Macao. I met her once at the opening of the first exibition
of famous Russian emigrant artists ever held in the Far East. Later, Adelaida
had seen my program on it and was rather surprised to learn that this crocodile
lady was an art dealer. She knew her from quite a different side - as a
proprietor of a fair-sized brothel located somewhere between Hong Kong
and Macao. Yes, Crocodile Lady was promoting not only Russian art there,
but the beauty of Russian girls, too. Adelaida was invited to go with one
of the many groups of girls in the noble position of supervisor. Adelaida
insists, she wasn’t supposed to service the clients as an ordinary "waitress
or hostess" (that’s how Crocodile Lady discribed the girls’ future
positions to their parents). She was just supposed to squeal on them daily
to Crocodile Lady, and that was it. For some reason, Adelaida’s mission
in Macao appeared to be a subject for endless delays, and eventually she
never started such a good job.
There was a slight compensation, though. One day, Adelaida was summoned
by her boss who solemnly announced that she was ordered by some wealthy
client in Hong Kong. Adelaida was eager to go and serve. After all, it
was going to be her first trip abroad (all this happened a year before
she went to Greece), and she coudn’t wait to leave her Motherland -- for
a few days, at least. She was facing a tremendous number of problems. At
those times to receive a foreign passport in Russia was a really significant
problem. But she went through it all and did leave Russia. She even landed
in Hong Kong. Then she was escorted to the hotel not far from the airport.
She was full of impressions about this huge stone wall all along the road,
but unfortunately, that was the only sight she ever saw in Hong Kong. She
spent a night in the hotel in a sudden and desperate solitude. Apparently,
the wealthy client was busy, or he had changed his plans about Adelaida:
nobody knew for sure. Only one thing was sure -- Adelaida was immediately
sent back home. On her way back to the airport, she was hopelessly staring
at this incredible wall out of the cab window...
To celebrate her 23rd birthday, Adelaida had chosen a pretty
expensive restaurant. The only problem was that right before that she had
found herself with almost no money. So she decided to invite only one,
but a dear guest - her new friend, with whom she started living practically
as soon as they got acquainted. She lent her own place to some mob members,
again, and now felt somewhat obliged to express all her gratitude to her
host. They had supper, then hit the dance floor. In the process, Adelaida
was checking out a group of Chinese men who were apparently looking for
a good time. To make up for her expenditures, she started getting sexy
with those Chinese. After a while, her friend, being a pretty innocent
girl, found herself in the middle of a wild orgy with Adelaida servicing
a big cluster of the little Asian men. Our Pretty Innocent Girl was politely
invited to join the fun too. As if some peculiarity of a Russian girl’s
character, she considered it her obligation to alleviate Adelaida’s burden
and did join. Adelaida still remained the star on this set, though, as
she was receiving the most attention. After all, it was her birthday.
After a pretty long line of (Russian) men, Adelaida finally settled
down with Chon, a miniature good-looking Korean working as a technical
staff member in the newly opened South Korean consulate. He spoke neither
Russian, nor English, but it didn’t realy matter for his girlfriend. She
leased her home, naturally, and moved into his rented apartment. The Russian-Korean
relationship lasted for about a year and a half. Little Chon turned out
to be a very passionate guy. Once in a while, he behaved like a Dostoyevsky
character, foaming at the mouth, crushing furniture and beating his tougher
looking girlfriend with the wreckage. She wanted money and discotheques,
but none was forthcoming. "Why should I let you horse around with
me if I’m not even given the money?" - Adelaida asked him violently
in a wild mixture of Russian and English. The thing was, however, that
in his country women didn’t even have a right to ask questions. Ultimately,
she found out that he was cheating on her. Yes, she wasn’t the only hot-tempered
Russian babe in high heels digging foreign men in this city.
Adelaida had an abortion and divorced Mr. Technical Staff. She was
lonesome and desperate but still young and long-legged, so she decided
to realize one of her hottest dreams. Other than becoming a pop diva or
a movie star, there was a dream to get a degree as an English speaking
guide and interpeter. It was definitely the time to improve her English
- she met an American businessman who came to Vlad with long-term work
plans. His name was Thai. Due to a strange irony of the fate, he was a
Korean, that is a Korean American. They started living together at Adelaida’s
place - Thai was too pragmatic to rent another apartment only to let his
girlfriend make some dough out of hers. Later, when she finished her English
courses and got a job as a secretary in some firm, Thai didn’t mind it
Shortcomings or not, he was pretty generous and loving, too. To her
friends’ great envy, Adelaida began to wear authentic American clothing,
not just Turkish and Chinese counterfeits. Thai took her to his home -
Potrland, Oregon; showed her his farm and introduced her to his family.
She started getting friendly with Thai’s sister who later came to Vlad
as well. It seemed like their marrage was absolutely inevitable.
Adelaida didn’t like Portland and the farm, though. She said it was
a terrific bore. She wasn’t allowed to go to the bars or hit the dance
floor or anything she’d got used to during her single Russian night-time
life. She couldn’t imagine America would be like this. She wasn’t cut out
for rural life, she said.
Thai’s business of building "The American Village" - a cottage
neighborhood in the suburb of Vlad - finally fell short. Americans turned
out to be unable to handle the basics of Russian business - extortion and
bribery. After the governor said no, Thai had nothing to do but go home.
As Thai went to America to prepare everything for their wedding and
store the necessary diamond rings, Adelaida started preparing for leaving,
too. She was so sure about her leaving that she had even sold her only
precious piece of property - the apartment, and deposited the money in
Thai’s bank account in the US. The dream of her entire life - to move to
America - was going to come true.
One slight problem with Adelaida is that she has been almost pathologically
unable to stay committed to her current boyfriend to the point of not cheating
on him. Sooner or later she always got in a rut, strongly believing that
sex couldn’t be fun with always the same partner. She, of course, was trying
to restrict her true nature while engaged with the lovers on whom she had
been depending in the money department - at least to the extent of just
fantasizing about the other men. Now that Thai left, she decided to finally
let herself go. Her romance with the man for whom she worked as a secretary,
He was named Sasha, a young New Russian whose business was selling
details for ships. It was combined with some oil business later. He wasn’t
even 30-year-old but looked much older: tall, quiet, not unattractive and
serious as hell. The package wouldn’t have been any good for Adelaida until
he was wealthy. And it did seem to Adelaida that he was richier than her
two Koreans together.
Sasha was extremely upset at the time, though. His heart was broken
by his ex-girlfriend who went away almost slapping him in the face with
all the diamonds and mink fur-coats that he bought her. Adelaida couldn’t
understand that girl. She had everything that, in Adelaida’s opinion, an
average Russian girl could have ever dreamed of. She had everything that
Adelaida still didn’t have. Everything that Adelaida was striving for all
her young life. And she, that other girl, could buy jeans for her other
lovers while being in the US with Sasha!
Adelaida did her utmost to heal Sasha’s love wound, and was generously
rewarded for her assistance. Because of his attracton to her, or just as
an attempt to forget his unthankful ex, Sasha proposed to Adelaida to marry
him. She promptly accepted. Meanwhile, Thai was bombarding her with calls
and faxes. She answered vaguely.
Here enters Anna, Adelaida’s long-time friend and companion, and vulture
# 2. Being married to a mob member, she finished some expensive English
courses and bought herself a trip to San Diego. In full harmony with her
controversial nature, Anna went to Portland, Oregon, too – only to tell
Thai that Adelaida was probably pregnant and almost married to someone
else. Needless to say, Thai went ballistic. He gave Adelaida an agressive
buzz telling her that he was not going to give her $20,000 back. Much later,
he refunded the sum but without the costs of the diamonds and clothing
that he bought for her. Now he is involved with another of Adelaida’s friends
- an extremely stupid young girl who went to America to study but stayed
there for a much longer time, without any visa at all.
Adelaida indeed married Sasha and bore him a son, Danila. They spent
their honeymoon in Hawaii, and Adelaida was six months pregnant at the
time. Sasha ordered his apartment rebuilt and filled it with new furniture.
Now it is a beautifully reconstructed two-story apartment with a separate
entry located in a old-fashioned house in an inconvenient, tangled neighborhood
- new Russians can’t buy a neighborhood so far. Adelaida’s girly dream
eventually came true. All her material cravings were contented by Sasha’s
diligence. He gave her anything she wanted - money, clothing, diamonds...
Every day he ordered food from a restaurant of the city’s most expensive
hotel. But of course, for satisfying Adelaida’s enormous appetites he took
away her freedom.
At first, she was almost loving it. She said that she never knew that
being a mother could be such fun, that holding a baby could be such a pleasure.
She kept saying that she would love to have a daughter some time later.
Sasha hired the best babysitter he could find to spare Barbara of all the
not so scrumptious aspects of motherhood. From that point, Adelaida had
almost no things to do. Sasha was resentfully suspicious of all forms of
Adelaida’s activities. Apparently, he bore a huge complex because of his
previous girlfriend’s cheating. But in Adelaida’s case, he was suspicious
for all the right reasons. His insane jealousy ruined all her even most
innocent plans. He didn’t allow her to visit her friends, nor was she allowed
to host them. She couldn’t go shopping alone - she was always accompanied
by a personal driver. She couldn’t even go to a gym or swimming pool without
Sasha, and he typically had much more important things to do. When Sasha
left for business trips, she stayed under the constant surveilance of his
mother who lived with them and was happy to provide her beloved son with
all necessary information.
Meeting her ocasionally, her old friends noticed how nervous she was.
She was so hungry for communication with other human beings that she began
talking almost from the first minute, laughing and asking questions all
along the way. The worst part of it was that although eating from gold,
wearing Versace, and riding a huge RV, Adelaida couldn’t show off herself
in all her glory to her poorer friends. The latter say that Adelaida is
probably on her way to drugs or a nervous breakdown. She got trapped into
the golden cage.
Vulture #2, Anna
…always reminded me of an actress she never knew: Bette Davis. With
her enormous forehead, plate-like blue eyes, puckered lips and long bushy
dark hair which she has never transformed into some kind of a hairdo, Anna
is the type of a woman which some people may call attractive, if not beautiful,
and others - almost ugly. But it is the specific charm of her ambiguous
individuality that makes her appealing to all.
Anna’s home is the small town of Spassk where she was raised by two
women - her mother and grandmother - in an atmosphere of nearly sacred
awe. Despite the sad fact that little Anna didn’t seem more gifted than
the other children, her not overly-educated folks took for granted that
she was. They made her a little star. They wanted her to have everything
that they didn’t have in their own childhoods. And they gave her what they
could, having forgotten about themselves, while Anna was just demanding.
Too much family care made Anna eventually believe that the rest of
the world would treat her the same, that everyone just couldn’t wait to
devote their lives entirely to her. Reality bit for the first time as she
learned at school that no kids saw her as a princess, eager to serve. This
less than respectful attitude left Her Imperial Highness no choice but
to rat on unruly classmates to the teachers. Needless to say, it didn’t
melt any ice, nor break her royal solitude.
In the pictures of that time, she appears serious and thoughtful beyond
her age. Not understood and hated by her peers, despising her poor corny
folks and the village where they lived, her enormous ego could not guide
her to what she wanted. She was a self-appointed star with no hint of talent
or desire to work. Why torment yourself, if you are already tired of listening
that you’re the best? Unlike her would-be friend Adelaida, Anna didn’t
aspire "to be a singer or an actress", to gain prosperity and
success. She simply wanted all the waking world to kneel down before her
because of what her family said she was. But the truth was she was nothing.
Frankenstein didn’t care for his creator much. With all a child’s cruelty,
Anna never understood what it cost the two lonely underpaid women to have
their lives sacrificed on the altar of raising a "star". Already
grown up, she does not seem to understand that even now. Once, she kept
her mother waiting for her in a cold car for about four hours. That winter
was particularly stormy and freezing. She was with a lover and had simply
forgotten about her.
In the darkness of a movie house Anna became an entirely different
person. For despite what she is - a self-centered, hardhearted user of
people with no spark of sentiment or romance - Anna has an incredibly vulnerable
soul. Her own mother’s fate would never make her tremble as much as the
maudlin Hollywood love stories did. At eighteen she cried her eyes out
at Gone with the Wind, and at thirty she could still find herself
almost as wet as the cast of the Titanic which she saw at least
five or six times.
But throughout all her life Anna’s biggest idol was a top Russian pop
diva, totally unknown to the rest of the world and named Anna Pugachova.
She is an inappropiately dressed overweight woman who has nearly lost her
once-thick voice from permanent smoking. Our Anna, who to some degree had
identified with that Anna, smartly spotted, however, that she would never
be as big a star as the other one, so she decided to interview her, at
least. It was enough to make her drippy mates die of jealousy.
She went to the capital of her province, Vladivostok, to accomplish
two missions: to meet her namesake who was to arrive for concerts, and
to enter J-School. She never did interview Anna the Real Star, but she
was lucky enough to get in the crowd escorting her through the locations
of Russia’s maritime glory. Here we have a picture of both Annas - both
solemnly serious, full of an understanding of their overwhelming significance
to the planet.
For her practical work as a journalism student, Anna chose the easiest
thing - radio. She reported on Russian pop music stars arriving in the
city. No journalistic abilities needed. She would ask all of them the same
inane questions. Her favorite one was: "Do you feel jealous of another
singer (actor)?" She felt her unearthly importance just by reiterating
her interviewees’ names.
Trying to adjust her natural tendencies to the college situation, Anna
started befriending the Dean. She was attracted to that young and bloated
careerist who, exactly like Anna, had an excessively high regard for his
looks and intellectual power. Anna was flattered to have been called by
him "one of the most brilliant students ever" and hoped for more.
Often times, he would boast to ashamed students that he was cognizant of
every little piece of everything had taken place in the dorm. And he wasn’t
How the Dorm Was Won
The condemned-looking doors of the extremely filthy, one bathroom per
floor, J-school dorm began to open for our celebrity seeker when Alla was
introduced to her older roommates - the half-crazed Mora and a very kind
and soulful alcoholic slut with the funny surname Shapka (Fur Hat). Neither
of them felt obliged to give up her dissolute behaviour just because Anna
For people who were regarded as the cream of the Soviet (Russian) intellectual
crop, promiscuity and heavy drinking were, and still are, among the most
natural things in the world. One could bring his or her one-night boy/girlfriend
to the room, and the other three or four roommates had no choice except
to pretend they were asleep - unless they were dead drunk themselves. That
was the routine, and Anna got into the thick of it. Miss Fur Hat, for instance,
would sleep with whoever drank her under the table, and only very loosely
depending on their age, looks, and even the number of people involved.
Either during her boozing, or fighting with her numerous boyfriends, Mora
lost half her front teeth. Once in a while she paraded around fair-sized
black shadows under her bizarre eyes.
Like a lamb thrown to slaughter, Anna had a hard time making her way
through this pandemonium. She could have joined the dorm’s crowd of the
most dull and timid, poorly dressed girls who came from the little cities
exactly like hers, only to return there after five years of ‘‘studies’’,
but Anna chose to battle with hell and either win or die in the fire. To
her mates’ surprise, she appeared to be a moderate drinker and, what’s
more, still a virgin. She even managed to remain one for a fairly long
time, shocking her easy-going nemeses. Her favorite movie character was
Scarlet O’Hara, the material girl from Gone with the Wind. (She
might have been mentally juxtaposing Scarlet’s early days in a Southern
mansion with her grannie-guarded childhood in an ironweed town, and the
turbulent Civil War years with her dorm period.) On occasion, she also
quoted wildly from French romance novels and selected movie dramas she
saw. That was enough for Mora and Fur Hat to become fascinated by Anna’s
wit and piquant, histrionic manners. They decided to take her under their
As time went by, they discovered Anna relying heavily and selfishly
on their good will. Her rumored frigidity combined with abstinence and
unmasked contempt for the poor insipid maidens in tastless outfits to whom
she refered to only as "the gray mouses", ultimately made her,
if anything, the First Lady of the Dorm. In full harmony with this new-found
title, Anna used her older roommates as much as she could, never giving
anything in return. To her noble "Victorian" features she inconspicuously
added another one, avarice. For weeks she might eat the food provided by
the very generous Shapka, yet ask her to refund 50 kopecks to cover her
exact share of the sauna cost after they used it together. Bewildered,
Fur Hat just didn’t understand that the entire world owed Anna something
for just having her around. And the people who represented this world in
Anna’s demanding eyes, were those who pay. Hell was not only won but used,
to Anna’s sheer satisfaction.
Victory brings boredom. On her twentieth birthday Anna decided to celebrate
at a prestigious restaurant. Her heart was set on having a truly pompous,
suave party, something that a "gray mouse" could never afford.
To satisfy her enormous conceit, all the Dean’s office was invited, as
well as selected dorm friends. Poor corny mom was paying for everything.
Disappointment awaited Anna at this naive vanity fair, however. Too haughty,
the Dean never arrived. Too craven, the Assistant Dean, who openly admired
Anna’s looks and intelligence, handed her a cheap flower in the lobby and
disappeared as well. As a consequence, the Dean’s office was represented
only by its silly secretary, Lenka, whose presence at the party Anna wanted
the very least. After the first toast Anna began crying. Having ten people
seated at the table congratulating her meant absolutely nothing. For at
that moment, there were NO people around. No people she really needed.
The rest of the evening Anna spent with her face buried deep in her palms
as if she had just survived a nuclear attack, and all her life and property
were hopelessly destroyed. Although all this didn’t prevent Fur Hat from
getting drunk and picking up the food remains, the general opinion was
that Anna ruined the fun. She treated people like garbage. Not that she
specifically wanted it that way. It was just the way things always went...
Due to her old-fashioned habits, Anna started a diary. All her most
personal views as well as her sarcastic thoughts about her environment
found their place there. Of course she kept it secret, and of course it
was found and read. Among many other things, Anna’s classmate Irina, a
well-mannered and high-minded girl who knew a lot of great Russian poets
by heart, discovered that she was just a phony trying to hide her simplicity
under the mask of her random quotes. (In fact, that virtue was the most
likely in Anna’s nature). Fur Hat’s well-developed jaw dropped as she faced
Anna’s uncompromising insight that the only thing she was ever interested
in this life was men’s endowment. (Reality was that in her drunken stupor
it didn’t make much difference for Fur Hat). Significantly piqued, Anna’s
mates declared a boycott on her. Lost and ostracized, Anna went across
a narrow corridor and knocked on my neutral door. "Why does nobody
like me?" - asked she somewhat sadly as an almost innocent expression
came over her face. I helped her to meet Adelaida.
Christ and the Other Men
Adelaida became Anna’s biggest friend. For several years, they shared
not only her appartment, where practical Anna moved in, but poverty, adventures,
clothing, sometimes men. Each time Anna didn’t want to pay, a huge fight
arose, and Anna temporarily retired to her dormroom. She always came back.
Anna and Adelaida made a nearly perfect match. Both ignorant, both arrogant,
they could never miss an opportunity to complain about each other to someone
else. Anna secretly found Adelaida vulgar and stupid, and Adelaida was
obliged to consider Anna egocentric beyond belief, and very provincial
under the surface. Irascible Adelaida couldn’t stand that annoying manner
of Anna to fall into a trance right in the middle of a lively conversation.
For instance, you could be noisily discussing rumors of the forthcoming
divorce of one of your remote friends, or considering the pros and cons
of the future purchase of a new bikini, when all of a sudden Anna pathetically
would lift her hands to an unexpectedly morose face and, like a somnambulist,
whisper to herself: "I just can’t, can’t believe that I’ll die
sometime!" But what drove rowdy Adelaida mad in particular, was
Anna’s insistent craving to get married. Adelaida wisely traced the origins
of such an obsession. Among Russian plain folks in villages and small cities,
the fact that a girl wasn’t married (with children, if possible) after
she turned, say, twenty, was highly unwelcomed. And as a dog unconsciously
obeys its insticts, Anna felt a vague but strong anxiety. She kept telling
Adelaida she was too old. Naturally! She was already twenty. But exuberant
Adelaida hated the idea. Besides, no Rett Butlers were in sight willing
to marry Anna, anyway.
In the short hours of liberation from this mania, however, Anna couldn’t
help noticing that the overall amount of her lovers had increased dramatically.
Her coolness brought her to another extreme as "Why not?"
became her main motto. With cold curiosity, Anna studied men just as a
cold-nosed entomologist would study an unknown species of insect trying
to figure out how to use it. As a triumph of such a scientific approach,
she became the girlfriend of a despicable Azerbaijan mob underling named
Ilgam - a huge, hairy, ugly and speaking-almost-no-Russian cave man. Out
of pure inquisitiveness, Anna responded to the affection of a poor, heavy-drinking
Yury, an Assistant Dean she would eventually be inspired to call a "loathsome
impotent coward". Adelaida kept wondering what a girl like Anna needed
these miserable lowlifes for. (She herself was engaged in a sultry romance
with a suave middle-aged mobster, a direct supervisor of Anna’s Ilgam,
who moved into the next floor apartment and was using Adelaida’s phone
since he didn’t have one - Russian realities of the perestroika years!)
But even shrewd and self-confident Adelaida decided she could never
again consider herself the judge of Anna’s indecipherable nature when out
of the clear blue sky she found her cynical and aloof friend deep in the
abyss of passion with a man she thought Anna would never look at. Anna’s
die-hard heart appeared to be cracked by a tall, long-haired, blond vagabond
whose striking resemblance to popular depictions of Jesus allowed her to
call him simply, Christ. So Anna started taking the praises of the Lord
in the fancy location of Adelaida’s apartment.
They hardly could have a coherent conversation. Christ tended to express
his thoughts with obscure sounds and lethargic messiah-like gestures. He
would never answer even the simpliest question directly, but would rather
offer a long, mind-numbing fable instead. He played flute, has never had
a job and dreamt of making an artzy film under the name Allergy of the
Snowdrops. A dreadful adventure movie Highlander was this Christ’s
Bible and also an inexhaustible source of inspiration for his never-ending
Of course, Christ wasn’t just an average-man-with-his-own-goofiness
but almost flawlessly insane. Nevertheless Anna was too spellbound to notice.
She found Christ the most sophisticated intellectual she’d ever met and
a genius to begin with. He was the one, and there were no others. She seemed
to have ground the big fat self-serving swine in her into the dust, until
his insanity began to derange her. Adelaida couldn’t believe her eyes watching
Anna pursuing Christ down the street late at night only in her bathrobe
and slippers with never-before-seen efficiency. Like all creative artists,
Christ sometimes plunged deeply into sudden mysterious depressions. Luckily,
that wasn’t the only feature that made him a part of the human race.
At one point, when Anna decided to resume her radio work, and the unemployed
Christ stayed in the appartment with Adelaida, the latter found him in
the process of serving lunch for the two of them. Although pleased
with the attention, Adelaida didn’t fail to deliberately inform Anna of
the advances Christ made towards her. That partly helped spare her of the
idea of Christ’s infallibility. Moreover, Adelaida had learned somehow
that mentally ill people bear excessive sexual appetites, and that
(not Anna’s beauties at all) was the real reason for the oversexed Christ’s
constant lust. Coming back to her senses, Anna suddenly felt generally
weary of being infatuated with anybody except herself, and sensing that
her love story had hit a dead end, she sent Christ to play his flute somewhere
Married to the Mob
As the reign of Christian terror was over, Anna went back to her roots.
Fixated on the idea of getting married, she thought hard about her future.
What would she do after her graduation? Go back to her godforsaken, backwater
native town to live with her simple-minded folks wondering how to make
ends meet, date some hillbilly gambler, party in the scruffy bars, and
work at the local radiostation for the brackish, hayseed hicks? She needed
to stay in the city, and marriage was the only way she knew. Not everyone
was going to fit Anna’s demands, though. Never, and especially not after
Christ, would she consider as marriage material someone who would simply
love her. It should be a well-to-do man with the money to spare her the
necessity of (hard)work, and very little free time so she could date someone
else. In the early nineties, when the percentage of businessmen wasn’t
that high, the only crowd which in fact could have produced someone to
satisfy Anna and girls of her caliber, was ... ex-convicts. And of course,
only that plentiful number of them who rejoined the mafia. She got acquainted
with one, Sasha, nicknamed Greek.
He indeed was of remote Greek descent and had this long beautiful Greek
surname, Georgiadi. This was about the only beauty he had. He wasn’t ugly,
but out of his thirty something years, he had spent about twenty in prison.
And you could most definitely read it on his face.
He was introduced to Anna’s friends at a wild party at Adelaida’s.
No conceited students, including myself, paid any attention to the lonely
sullen man in a brand-new dark suit silently seated in the corner. Thrown
into jail at sweet eighteen, he knew nothing about this world and its inhibitants,
had no other choices except rejoining the mob, and needed Anna as much
as she needed him. Later that night Anna couldn’t sleep. She couldn’t believe
she was about to marry a career criminal. That wasn’t something she had
prepared for herself all her life. Where could she go with him? What would
they talk about? What ultimately convinced Anna to marry Sasha was, in
fact, his beautiful Greek surname. Anna willingly changed her plain folks’
one to Georgiadi, as they moved into the nice rented apartment right in
Greek was tightly involved in the mob’s businesses. Like all mobsters,
he’d never talk about his job, but it had something to do with making people
pay their debts back. Sasha ran errands for business people, leaning on
their debtors, confiscating their cars/apartments to be justly distributed
among the mob members, and doing other strong-arm work. Anna had never
demonstrated a dedication to the thankless task of putting her racketeer
hubby on the right road, so pretty soon they had an appartment of their
own, not to mention several cars. The agonizing doubts that had tormented
Anna the night before her marriage had dropped away, too, as having a criminal
man by a vulnerable girl’s side appeared to be an all-Russian means of
Adelaida never liked Greek and claimed he was a banal thief. When some
things Adelaida had acquired by hard work "with her face" were
stolen from her apartment, she blamed it entirely on him. Being a faithful
wife, Anna took Sasha’s side which caused the longest breach in the two
Greek wasn’t too bad a man, if you’d shut one eye to the specifics
of his profession. He cared deeply about Anna and seemed to really love
her. She, in response, knew that she owed her decent livelihood to him,
but couldn’t help expressing her mordant attitudes which didn’t promote
his happiness. On the other hand, it wasn’t a picnic to be his wife, either.
A typical carrier of the prison heritage, Greek was a junkie, and after
a year or so of living with him, Anna started to lament over the impossibility
of getting pregnant. He had no veins untouched, including ones on his feet
Out of necessity to somehow spend her free time and demonstrate her
abundance of new dresses, Anna offered her services to one of the newly
opened commercial TV stations. In its turn, the station proposed her hosting
a supersilly little show called with rare elegance, Question & Answer.
Armed with no special knowledge but full of aplomb, Anna proceeded to report
on whatever came to her mind. The whole thing was meant to sound like she
was buried under an avalanche of letters from impatient viewers who just
couldn’t wait to know how to cook pasta, or who invented drapes, and how
to install them. In fact, she wrote those letters herself. After deciding
that she was too dazzling to dig into the stupid letters (all the more
pitiful an occupation keeping in mind that they didn’t exist), Anna switched
to another channel with the Autograph program. Now she was interviewing
minor city celebrities - officials, newly wealthy businessmen, and the
like. Gradually, she came to an understanding that somehow she was interviewing
only men, using a TV camera as a well-tried remedy for getting acquainted.
Thus, after a quick interview with the owner of a computer firm named Kostya,
she became his long-term mistress.
That wasn’t her first adultery. If not drugged, Greek was always sick.
With no immune system, he was an easy target for various infectious diseases.
Each minor wound or cut caused major problems; his bones were fragile,
he was all covered in pus. He grew to be physically disgusting to his wife,
who was day-dreaming of how to get rid of such a nuisance. Her coolness
led him only to do more drugs. Once, Greek’s habit for drug driving drove
him nowhere else but to a tremendous car wreck. He was lucky to be alive,
but one of his femurs was broken to pieces. For about half a year, Sasha
found his rest in the hospital.
Meanwhile, Anna’s romance with the married Kostya went full steam ahead.
Russian Vulture # 3, Sveta, provided her bedroom for their dates. To cover
up from his wife, Kostya sometimes brought his 9-year-old son to Sveta,
too. The poor kid was being ordered to tell mom that he and daddy had been
walking in the park all these hours. Kostya was something Anna had always
been looking for. He was of sufficient intellectual background and had
a legitimate occupation. He had money, yet wasn’t stingy. He seemed to
be hooked on her and was easy to manipulate. She wanted him to divorce.
In strange contrast to her practicality, Anna had always been a controversially
superstitious person, and often practiced reading dreams or telling fortunes
in a teacup. She eventually set off on a series of small city voyages to
see some old women who claimed to have influence on evil and even to be
able to change a person's karma to a certain degree. At the end of one
of such sessions, Anna was told that she was going to be separated from
her husband, and the reason for that would be death.
Greek indeed felt pretty badly, but he was certainly far from death.
His badly-fractured thigh-bone refused to heal. When it finally did, it
turned out to have healed in a wrong configuration, and his industrious
Russian doctors insisted on breaking it once again. And yet again. He was
denied narcotics, all three times, since after all the drugs he had used,
there were no drugs to put him to sleep. Mean and dizzy from suffering,
he crippled back home, to the loving embrace of Anna, who just didn’t know
how to make the prediction come true. Disappointed at the growing misunderstandings
within the family, Greek - his leg in a cast - began to express his bitterness
through such comical acts as pretending to awkwardly beat Anna with his
crutch, firing his gun off in her direction, and expelling her from the
On the contrary, Kostya treated Anna the way she always wanted to be
treated. He wined and dined her in exotic restaurants, bought her jewelry,
helped her purchase a small RV, and even - perhaps on behalf of his company
- presented her with a notebook. He forgave her everything - her naivete
and sudden melancholy, bitchy outrages and worldly wisdom. Once, being
somewhat annoyed, Anna poured a glass of cold water under Kostya’s shirt.
He just swallowed. That’s when it became more than obvious to her that
she couldn’t have dreamt of a better spouse. He was her Rett Butler, her
wettest - in both meanings - dream. The only slight problem was that they
couldn’t come to terms regarding their future wedding. He was probably
afraid of Greek, Anna thought.
Still lame, the object of such dread agreed to accompany some businessman
to a small resort town on the Black Sea to push someone towards paying
his debts. Anna flew with them to have a much-needed rest. In the process
of a tough conversation - no women allowed - the debtor’s goons made clear
that their boss would never pay back his debt. Greek’s client decided he
could shut one eye but for Sasha - a courageous man with a thug’s specific
conscience - not to quit was a matter of honor. All in all, when Anna flew
back home, with Greek’s corpse in a casket, it was pretty evident that
fortune-tellers meant what they said.
Nobody knew exactly how it happened. Was Anna scheming a murder? Did
she hire strangers to kill Greek? Did she set a trap for her beloved one
so that she could marry Kostya? She acted as if she were stunned by the
murder, which could have been unknowingly set up by others, and frankly,
she was too lazy for a femme fatale role. Film noir wasn’t her favorite
genre, which of course couldn’t be said of the schmaltzy melodrama of her
life. But there could be no doubt that the whole thing suited her plans
Using their home video footage, Anna had edited a sappy tribute to
Sasha to be shown at the commemorative feast. It didn’t convince Greek’s
harsh friends of her tender feelings toward her departed sweetheart, though.
There were heavy rumors that the bitch was cheating on poor old Greek and
couldn’t wait to divorce him. As a part of their condolences, Sasha’s racketeer
colleagues attempted to expropriate the poor widow’s car, rings and other
dear belongings. Understanding that it’s a dog-eat-dog world, Anna approached
the gang leader with a suggestion which he, naturally, couldn’t refuse.
And that suggestion was ... Anna’s friend and vulture # 3, Sveta.
As the hard times passed away, Anna had found that only one part of
the foretelling came to pass. Kostya, who seemed to be so yielding, still
didn’t marry her. He was already happy with his position - in fact, he
had two wives. But Anna was full of jealousy. First of all, she wanted
that damned stamp in her passport, as her mother and grandmother had taught
her. Besides, she just couldn’t accept Kostya’s silly practice where he,
say, used his brand-new digital camera for shooting his "first"
family, and only after that asked Anna to strike a pose.
He moved in and out of Anna’s apartment, left, then returned to his
family, then left again. Anna’s existence was already no secret to Kostya’s
"first" wife. She even had beaten out Anna’s car’s windows. A
typical Russian woman who depended heavily on her man’s money, and not
wanting to build up her own career, she needed him back, despite any possible
humiliation. And he came back, but didn’t break with Anna who out of boredom
started to cheat on him. And he minded it, wanting to fully control his
harem. It could have continued forever, if Anna hadn’t met polygamous Kostya’s
"senior" wife. Poorly dressed and lacking some teeth, the woman
persuaded Anna that being married to Kostya wasn’t such a picnic after
As always, in moments of weakness and despair, Anna visited her good
old witches. They named a concrete date when she was going to meet a man
to finally marry her. It should have been one of her old acquaintances.
Anna began to revive all her former relationships, including a businessman
who was the last client of Sasha. Right after his unfortunate death he
had promised to help with the head stone for Greek’s grave, but never did.
Under the pretext of her enormous concern over the memorial, our merry
widow came to see him, secretly hoping to... She is still waiting.
Vlada Super Glue
How typical are our heroines? Well, it would be a certain stretch to
say that almost every good-looking young Russian woman would like to be
a vulture, and make their living through pulling entrails out of men. No
doubt, however, they are much more typical for Russia than women who want
to live on their own. Of course, many of them have to live independently,
but - in the vast majority of cases - only because they failed on the difficult
vulturous road. Not every one could handle collecting about $ 25,000 cash
while refreshing the supplier with streams of cold water as Alla did.
Let’s take Vlada, a close friend of all the three vultures and a girl
as beautiful as all of them together. Her story repeats that of Anna with
the exception that Vlada has a much nicer personality and lacks her iron
grip. She had to wed a thief, who was a close collegue of Greek and - not
incidentally - a drug addict. She was serenely married to him for five
years, and they had a beautiful daughter, Rosina. They divorced when Vlada
discovered that he was tomcatting on her with Adelaida. About the same
time, she fell for one of the most famous and successful businesmen in
town. Sergei enjoyed Vlada’s company for about a year. He even made her
the head of the stock department in his solid joint stock firm. What Vlada
could understand about stocks remained a mystery to all the employees,
but they knew perfectly well why the boss called Vlada into his office
once in a while.
She was given money but somehow never paid any particular attention
to it nor did she save it for a rainy day. When the initial passion was
gone, there was not much togetherness between the two. Sergei was married
to a woman to whom he owed his present-day position, and didn’t want to
change anything in his life. But Vlada is the kind of woman who remains
faithful to a man even if he doesn’t want her to. She thought he would
never dump her if she went on delivering the goods that no wife could ever
provide. Once, she burst into his birthday party with a crowd of singing
gypsies, all naked beneath her fur-coat. Perhaps for heroics like that,
Vlada was presented with a leading position in Sergei’s tiny branch firm
which he only needed to legalize his profits. In gratitude, she kept buzzing
and showering him with gifts - all in plain sight of his many subordinates...
When the inevitable happened, and "Vlada’s" firm did collapse,
her ex-beau kept paying her salary for a half a year. Each time she came
to his office to pick it up, she tried to use the occasion to resurrect
his hots for her. Refusing to show much deference to their boss’ rejected
mistress, Sergei’s bodyguards called her Vlada Super Glue. A good excuse
for such silly behavior might have been love, if Vlada wouldn’t keep claiming
that she could never love a man with no money.
Their romance ended only when Sergei told her to get the hell out of
his office and life. Still, she can’t resist coming and seeing him from
time to time. Now this semi-vulture is at her lowest, existing on her mother’s
Vulture #3, Sveta
Despite her Irish looks - the shock of red hair, the very white skin
and plethora of freckles - Sveta was born in the same Far Eastern Russian
town that around that same time had produced Anna. Thank God, not every
one down there was as ego-driven; Sveta had no ambition, not even for getting
beyond the obligatory education. One could suggest that she has no brains,
either. But she sure has - sort of. Very sensible when it comes
to practical matters, she has a natural feeling of inner decency that so
many well-educated people seem to lack. Unfortunately, she had to free
herself from most of it while processing herself into a self-made vulture.
One Happy Family
Following in her mother’s footsteps, Sveta worked as a barber until
she was nineteen. At that age, she met Vladimir who became her first man,
and ultimately, her husband. Before that, she fell like a ton of bricks
for the older Victor, everybody’s big man in little Spassk. She dreamt
of him, but the handsome "daddy" wasn’t free and, being a fanatical
Russian Orthodox, he considered adultery a huge sin. Although he remained
the only true love Sveta had ever known (at least, until he died at 45,
supposedly of a heart attack), she resolved to stick to the ugly-looking
Vova (short for Vladimir) who was eighteen years older as well, had already
spent three years in prison for burglary, and so was as single as a bird
in the blue sky.
He was the right choice for the one-dimensional, modest rural girl
who had never wanted more from life than it could give her. The day Sveta
worked at the barbershop before her engagement to Vova became the last
day she worked ever after. They left their poor native town and moved to
Vladivostok where Vova happened to have an apartment. He started working
as a cab driver - an occupation regarded as very profitable in pre-capitalist
Russia for its uncontrolled possibility of charging customers extra money,
and using the car as a driver’s property.
In due course, Vova had got to know all the ins and outs in town. In
those times, there was no better caterer than an ordinary nasty cabbie.
Selling alcohol and drugs, and arranging hookers were among the services
happily provided by Vova. There seemed to be nothing that he couldn’t get,
even in a situation where there was the chronic lack of everything. What
is a young woman’s most perpetual need? Even for such an unromantic one,
it probably is flowers. Sveta’s home was always drowned in flowers. Vova
picked them up from the pedestals of various monuments where, according
to the tradition, they were laid by the newly-weds.
Sveta could not have dreamt of a better shelter. She lived the life
of a plant, and loved it. Most of the time she stayed at home; housekeeping
and cooking were about the only forms of human activity in which she was
Needless to say, through his hell-of-the-job, Vova met an enormous
amount of people. Once, he drove home two gangster-types. Seated on the
backseat, they talked drugs and thefts. As it became clear from the conversation,
one of them had just stolen a car for his wife. That was Vlada’s husband,
Vladimir. His buddy was Anna’s significant other, Greek. Vova’s ability
to keep the tough talk flowing impressed the crooks. The man clearly knew
the score. The troika had quite a bit in common - all ex-convicts, all
thieves, all junkies, all had younger wives. At last, Vova got a new job
without giving up the good old one and became Greek’s and Vladimir’s ‘official’
driver. In her turn, Sveta had grown to be Anna’s and Vlada’s friend.
My Fair Vulture
At first, she wasn’t accepted by the canonical vultures. For the sceptical
Anna, she was just a big red-haired hillbilly zilch on whom she could count
for a complimentary hairdo. During these style sessions, Anna had been
initiating Sveta into the rules a modern urban girl should play by, and
influenced her deeply.
Doing good is ridiculous. Live for yourself. Never return a favor.
Use people. Never commit. Anna supported this miasma theory with solid
evidence she gained by hurting Sveta’s best feelings. A quick study, Sveta
began to mimic her teacher to the degree of even using her quirks - her
histrionic manners, to name just one. From that time on, each hairdo required
much persuasion, if not a little fight. Now Sveta could be taken to an
embassy ball in a carriage, as it happened to Ms. Doolittle.
She was indeed taken - to a discotheque, by her inevitable first lover,
the Georgian grifter Merab, in a just stolen car with no number-plate.
The ride was unsuccessful: Merab didn’t pull over as the traffic police
wanted him to, and the car was mercilessly shot like in classical gangster
With the imprisonment of her red-hot lover, Sveta returned to her quiet
family life. Besides her borsch cooking, yet another of Sveta’s talents
was chatting with friends. One of the basic ones was her closest neighbor,
the witty and charming 60-year-old pensioner Albina Semionovna. She provided
her with two much-needed things: wordly wisdom and a telephone, which Sveta
- like many other Russians - didn’t have in her flat. Albina Semionovna
became Sveta’s Professor Higgins # 2. Her outstanding pedagogical abilities
were surely worthy of respect. Her adopted teen daughter worked as a prostitute
and stole things from her mother. Albina told Sveta that she was seriously
worried that her sweet little daughter might kill her when she found out
the sad fact that she wasn’t her real mother - just to simplify their relationships.
In between such dramatic discussions, the girls indulged in some lighter
sports. Unlike Sveta, Albina Semionovna loved to read. From one of her
sources, she learned that for the purpose of giving breasts their essential
shapes, the top models usually resort to clear packing tape. Albina was
anxious to check out if it worked, and suggested Sveta to try it on her.
Why should she mind? After long hours of examination, they both finally
reached the verdict - very flattering for the packing tape.
One Happy Family (continued)
Disaster caught Sveta unaware. Her unclouded family life had suddenly
deteriorated. Under the influence of Greek & Co., Vova’s addiction
to drugs had no chance of decreasing. Wise enough, Sveta let no one do
drugs at home; by that time she was already the happy mother of their daughter,
Nastya. Albina Semionovna helped with advice.
Vova had no trouble finding another place for his innocent hobby. Red-eyed
and almost unconscious, he came home sometimes - only to beat his head
on the wall and mumble something incomprehensively. Sveta put him in treatment,
but even there he managed to flee to buy drugs, then returned to the treatment
center. Once, Sveta and little Nastya found him, exquisitely drugged up
and seated on the floor of the center’s porch, lethargically knocking on
the closed doors with a mop. He was late after his free-lance injection.
Vova begged the doctors inside to please let him in, otherwise, he claimed,
his wife would kill him. He wasn’t too far from the truth. Sveta greeted
him with loud swearing, her hands on her sides. Vova stopped crying, and
greeted the little girl without recognizing her. He started searching for
something in his pants’ pockets and finally gave her what he thought was
money, but in fact was candy wrappers. He told her to go and buy anything
she liked. Paying no attention to this extreme kindness of his, Sveta began
to beat him, with more swearing. The closed doors of the medical institution
never opened for Vova: he was never accepted there again.
He wasn’t particularly disappointed about that, though. To get money
for drugs, he resumed his criminal activities. His last nasty deed was
undressing somebody in the underground pedestrian passage. After that hard
working day, he came home and, senseless, fell on the kitchen floor. Entered
Sveta, smelling that something was wrong. Because of Vova’s irresponsible
attitude, her precious electrical kettle had been dry for a long time,
and now was hopelessly blown. Sveta started to angrily hurl abuse at Vova.
This she did to a fault. Her vegetable husband was suddenly up on his feet,
with the unexpected yet obvious intention to kick her around real hard.
For some reason, today’s dose made him unpleasantly violent. The tremendous
fight swept the pair out of their flat, down to the hall. Having heard
loud bawling, the sleepy neighbors were aroused. The bizarre scene appeared
before their blinking eyes. Drugged up Vova, wearing nothing except his
boxer shorts, was frantically beating his wife’s head on the elevator’s
door. By their combined efforts, the neighbors arranged to break up the
loving embraces of the couple. Groggy and uncomprehending, Sveta staggered
to her feet spitting her teeth away. Vova was propped against the wall
and panting from the exertion. In a unique course of revenge, Sveta managed
to reach him, and impulsively pulled his boxers down to award her saviors
with an unforgettable view.
Sveta’s fondness of her tea kettle cost her altogether twelve teeth.
Sveta’s broken teeth cost Vova his freedom.
One of her friends worked for the police. Even before the abuse extravaganza
occured, Sveta wondered if it were at all possible to put Vova behind bars
for possessing controlled substances. If that plan had succeeded, she would
still have had her mouth full of teeth. The way things went, though, her
big plan came to its realization with her jaws heavily injured. The punishment
for Vova needed to be harsher, as well. He was incarcerated for his underground
assault and sentenced to four years in prison.
Sveta wept and mourned for a while - not for her poor stray husband
but for the lost paradise of her convenient, fully arranged life, let alone
one dozen none-too-extra teeth. In accordance with all existing theories
of survival, she would have to inevitably give up her inactive life and
restore her work as a barber to support herself and Nastya. Sveta, however,
was unaware of theories, and therefore stayed at home. She said that the
prickly hair of Koreans to whom she used to give haircuts, sunk deep into
her big breasts, causing her lots of trouble. She did some free-lance hairstyling,
however, earning about 200 thousand rubles which was slightly more than
$30 a month. Sveta didn’t complain. She had installed cheap dental plates
which she hoped to replace with luxurous ceramic ones some time later.
The rest of the money she needed for her Hollywood smile she hoped to get
through her men.
For the first years of her singleness she wasn’t particularly happy
with men, though. She had to experience the sheer quantity of men so she
could select the ones with the best quality, but the chances of meeting
men were always limited. About the only place for her to make acquantences
was in bars. She never missed an opportunity to meet somebody, having had
a strong sense that at any time she could have met the Man of Her Destiny.
Most of the time, though, she would end up with regular bastards.
Another source for delivering men right to Sveta’s bedroom were her
faithful, much-concerned friends. Through Vlada she met Dmitry, a short
belly-packed man working as Vlada’s supervisor in her lover’s firm. They
dated for about a year, and Sveta was silly enough to keep hoping about
getting her jaws fixed with the married Dmitry’s help. When her hopes were
irretrievably dashed, Sveta grew to charge him $40 per visit. It spared
him having to play the role of a solicitous lover, and from that time on
he would just shamelessly use and humiliate this woman.
Some men indulge in intrigues and gossips with almost the women’s skill.
Dmitry’s friend Timofei got wind of Sveta’s captivating charms and wanted
to check them out himself. Sveta refused, afraid that Dmitry would stop
visiting and paying. Seeking revenge, the rejected Timofei maliciously
asked Dmitry what did he need this aging woman for. "You know, I like
antiquities," 30-year-old Dmitry mumbled, having forgotten that Sveta
was exactly his age. "I guess, you need to change your furniture really
bad," Timofei said. After some thinking, Dmitry agreed.
Sleeping with Boredom
It undermined Sveta’s prosperity but not too much. She would never
focus on one man to the point of letting it break her heart when she lost
him. She just kept floating from one to the next in her leisurely pursuit
of her solvent Mr. Right.
She led a boring, meaningless life. Unemployed and refusing to work,
lonely but sluggish to find her match, she would watch TV all day long,
cook if she had the money to buy the ingredients, or just blather with
friends. Since she had not much to discuss, she focused mostly on her sex
life. Sveta’s friends were so fed up with all the details of her organism
that they felt as if they had almost been there with their own candles
lit up. The most sensitive spot in Sveta’s entire physique, which required
thorough coverage, was her clit. She refered to it as if it weren’t part
of her and had consciousness of its own. She could talk about it for hours,
whether it of any interest to the listeners, or not.
Sveta had a friend who - strangely enough for a Russian girl - was
running an advertizing agency. Lena needed Sveta to divert her attention
from her numerous business problems, while Sveta needed Lena to broaden
her ideas on what was going on outside her flat. Lena would come to Sveta’s
place almost every day right after work, bringing some food and drinks.
Making a joke of such regularity, Sveta called her "my husband".
On weekends her "husband" would take her to some bar or a discotheque.
And then Sveta’s "working" week would start all over again.
Being married, her business friend Lena would sometimes use ever ready
Sveta, taking her to her male clients - to divert their lusty attention
to a less attractive, yet far more willing red-haired babe. Once, Sveta
heroically sacrificed herself to an extremely talkative and kinky flour
distributor named Alexander. As a result, Sveta’s friend got herself a
new client. As to Sveta, she got nothing: he didn’t like her. She didn’t
like him, as well, but that didn’t matter. On another occasion, Sveta was
acquanted with an Australian PR manager who just couldn’t wait to have
sex with a Russian woman. The whole business of Sveta’s best friend depended
on the accomplishment of this noble desire, and Sveta was more than ready
to oblige. She was proud of having her first international affair, too.
Anna pimped her with Zhulavsky, a middle-aged king of the local mob,
notorious for his perverse relations with women. His classic behaviour
involved surrounding his victims with excessive attention as the first
steps to romance, letting them feel like queens, buying them whatever they
wanted - from gloves and panties to fur coats and jewelry - and then...
throwing them out of his house late at night, naked in the middle of January.
Zhulavsky seemed to have the hots for Sveta; he told her he knew some dentist
who was in his debt for the rest of his life, in fact promising her new
teeth. Sveta, of course, wasn’t able to resist.
The End of Trouble
Scared, she went to Zhulavsky to let the unevitable happen but he never
touched her. He took her to the doctor, and left her there - for the much-desired
tooth session. When Sveta’s twelfth tooth was done, and Sveta was checking
her newly-found smile with the mirror, she was approached by the dentist
debtor and given a bill of four million rubles. Crying, Sveta called Zhulavsky
but he was out of town, supposedly hiding from another gang (or just Sveta).
Finally, she had to give up her own two million stored for a rainy day,
and borrow the money from her parents and friends.
Sveta went through a Georgian Merab, a Kazakh Takhir, not to mention
Russians including - among others - an owner of an autosalon named Sergei,
and Igor, the businessman - to finally settle down with a Moldavian named
... Vova. To increase the similarity with her former husband, he was an
ex-con... What made him especially appealing to Sveta was that, unlike
all her previous men, he was single, that is divorced.
Nothing is predictable in Russia. Here you never know whether it is
going to rain or shine. Sveta met her new Vova at just the right time.
In the fall of 1998 all of Russia was collapsing in an unbelievable financial
crisis. A barely noticeable Russian middle class suffered the most. Bankers
and managers were losing their jobs and means for surviving, as the ruble
fell to the lowest rate ever imaginable. In a strange irony of fate, Sveta
who chose to be indigent when her friends were thriving, suddenly was able
to start laughing in the face of other people’s difficulties, as the gangsters
seemed not to have any difficulties at all. She even took her business
friend Lena, now unemployed, to bars several times.
With brute, narrow-eyed Vova she was having the time of her life: plenty
of food, restaurant outing, and more importantly, a reliable man at home.
Only two thing disturbed her pure nirvana: she wasn’t given enough money
for clothing, and Vova was ... no, not a drug addict, only an alcoholic.
Sveta couldn’t express her disagreements to Vova. When he wasn’t satisfied
with anything, he would just say "If you can’t handle it, we should
part forever." Sveta didn’t want to part with such a man, so she learned
to simulate her orgasms, to drag him out of a drunken coma, to forget most
of her former friends... She even pretended she was concerned with his
desire to have a baby.
Sveta was a bad mother, even to a child that had already been born.
She even admitted it herself. This wasn’t an ordinary child neglect case,
though. Nastya wasn’t neglected. She had her separate clean room with some
toys in it. She was never hungry. When not at school, she was being sent
to Sveta’s parents to play in the natural landscape. Using her meager means,
Sveta did what she could to dress Nastya. She just didn’t love her daughter.
Who can make a person love another?
It was indeed hard to love the perky, mischievous kid with filthy manners;
but whose genes ruled her behavior? Sveta understood everything and hated
the thin, deer-eyed girl.
Mothering was just another animalistic instinct for Sveta, the strongest
one after the instinct of surviving. She became really worried when Nastya
got lost playing in the yard. When she found her, she would savagely beat
her, yell at her, furiously calling the seven-year-old girl a whore...
Friends warned Sveta that in another country the child would have been
taken from her a long time ago. Sveta answered she couldn’t help it. She
hated her, and worried about her. It was hard to say why she did yell at
Nastya - because she hated her or because she was afraid to lose her.