The year is unknowable. Two partisans hide in a safe house in central Moscow near the Arbat, within the second inner ring. The room is lit only with an eerie glow of soft blue light from electric candles. A man with strange gray eyes is seated with a tidy bale of manuscript papers working on a small primitive laptop device on a red desk. On this desk is a large silver scroll opened to reveal an ancient manuscript. In the background, the Russian song Oy Moruz plays.
The record skips and it becomes a Jamaican dancehall song. Then abruptly it warbles, then turns off. Sebastian Adonaev, a 29-year-old American, is going through the lengthy codex, copying out the scroll. Intermittently he is also typing and changes, little changes are being made. The words appear holographically projected about the walls of the windowless room. Daria Andreavna, a 25-year-old Russian with bleached blond hair is meticulously assembling a futuristic pistol with a homemade silencer while smoking a banned Newport cigarette. She is keeping him going. If the scene is not safe, well he is still alive. Which is always a good start.
I have lived many lives. Some past. Some are still in the future. Some even run concurrently! I feel as though I have visited the top innermost quarters of the Ziggurat itself! I had some powder blown into my eyes and awoke here with you!
You must keep these mad notions to yourself for now.
Your eyes are always so sad. It seems you have lost the muscle memory to even smile. I would go so far as to say, it’s time to stop your fighting.
Reading from the Silver Dressed Codex
‘The snowfall was exceptional. It was as if g-d had pulled a vast white blanket upon us to tuck the Americans to bed. Then, the devil and a host of petty bureaucrats did not take the time to keep the power running. This winter was the winter that tens of thousands across the fading empire were tucked in without heat into a long kiss goodnight. Amid the time of 800,000 deaths from fever, cough, and chills. That was the winter the Chornay finally fought back with steely determination. Remembering finally where they came from. Resisting eradication. As though their lives mattered to them for the very first time.’
A very pretty scroll with dubious origins. Where did you find that last phrase? In Americano! Stupid fucking Americano English. I don’t think they say ‘Chornay’ over there. It’s dated. I think it’s ‘Negs’, or ‘Noires’, ‘the reggin’maybe?
Reading from the Silver Dressed Codex:
‘In a well-fortified safe house buried in the heart of the Russian capital. I lock eyes with a woman who in another life broke me down and sold me as a slave!’
‘Indeed’, as you like to often say.
Reading from the Silver Dressed Codex:
‘Her eyes, her eyes! Even the bluest day on the Caspian contains no such expansive shimmer! There is no comparison for this level of captivation. All things we have done, or did or may even still have to do are only so that we might never have to bear again the painful agony of our tumultuous separation.’
So many useless words, blat. My, my, oh my the fuck my! The stories you tell yourself, blat. Re-read them, my little bleak one. My tragic American Mayakovsky. Read and torture yourself once again.
Reading from the Silver Dressed Manuscript:
‘Poem #38: The Millennium Hostage Crisis. Part One.
Millennium Hostage Crisis
Life of the slave show!
I will remove you from your castle and make you watch the way we live in the wilderness below.
And she slips off her high heels into a star-crossed stare down,
She always calls the shots,
Gunshots to blood-soaked makeshift cots.
The shots she calls are complicated.
She must find me highly dedicated.
She mostly deals with the haves, and I am the have nots!
The rules are anything goes, but no one “knows”.
If she’s been known to steal the weapon from my overcoat,
I’ve been quick to remove my clothes.
I spill_ for the thrill of those invited, I can kill on compunction, I still have the will; To activate the full facilities,
Of wordplay, and the use of allegory_
To execute deliverance of a blue-blood-bleeding testimony_
A Post-Soviet love story.
Involving a Chechen peasant and a woman once of Penza now mostly of night.
It will be of little glory, the way I tell the story.
It’s based upon real people. Real blood_ and real bleeding_
Of taking-of wanting-of feeding the need.
Of fucking and fighting and the will to survive in a City of glass, steel, and greed.
Real emotional explosions_ her eyes are always so bright,
She has long since urged me to put down the weapon and give up the fight.
But I have a last name that is easy to place,
I could buy some new papers, but not a new face.
They can spot us on site!
It’s the ongoing struggle of those who lead:
A tragic_ unyielding life of night.
We’ll sell a sordid tale.
I wish I had found her back when she was nineteen or twenty_
Before she had to do what she did,
And does what she still do,
To keep from starving in the shadow of plenty.
My objective and travail_ is to recruit the members of this audience into a clandestine apparatus_ And harness our collective clandestino_
To force a mighty train to prematurely jump the rail.
I wear suspenders with buttons, a Mayakovsky cap, and iron-plated undershirts.
I dreamed up a plan to get revenge on a man or a series of men,
hit them in their pockets,
Hit them where it hurts.
I called her late at night_ bleeding all over the place,
She said don’t get your bleeding heart on my red carpet,
And her mother fixed me for midnight supper.
Herring, beets, Palemni.
And she wiped the cake of crimson off my bloody Chechen face.
“And the snowfall is phenomenal this year”_
“Don’t get French with me my dear.”
_They really punched yer ticket_ did a number on you in the district, this time.
(She loves the way I make the Amerikansky Noire lingo mix out eloquently with a touch of old Fenian rhyme.)
The payphone call cannot be traced_
The weapons are hidden in the drywall_
In the space, your men replaced_
The ice-cold taste of 9 proof Baltika is refreshing, albeit haram_
Those good patriot informers_ those zombies_ those follow-follow men.
They beat me for a fortnight,
Demand I sign a grim confession,
Attesting to the building and/or placement of some near but unexploded bomb.
“Why can’t you be like normal men?”
I told her: “I’m hungry for my freedom and I’m never going hungry again!” (Sung)
And she says;
“I cannot love you if you’re dead.”
Please put the house in order,
Use the lithium,
Use Russian Standard Vodka; use my lips if necessary,
To rectify the madness as it expands inside your head.
I’m not saying that I love you now or later,
Simply I refuse to cater_
To all the “incidents generated lately” when you do not behave_
Explain how you plan to court me_
From a black-bag-disappearance.
In a frosty, shallow, unmarked open grave.
If you’re going to dedicate, in your exacerbation,
Resistance efforts to a woman (me) who can only love you out of pity,
In this bleak and foreign city_
Even if the words sound epic, also pretty_
Fuck it, man! You’re doing it again!
I sigh and then reply:
“Did I tell you lately you’re my dorogaya and if not for loving you_I’d surely be dead a thousand times at the hands of ten thousand lesser men?”
Oh, when last we wrote I spoke of devouring her, for hours.
To tease her- to please her_to want her to need her- amid a bed of hand-picked, Peonies; or provincial-wild-flowers.
She isn’t one for single-serving dancehall roses, she moves too fast for poses.
Her bright eyes beckon as they dart about the room filled with bluff and imitating glee_
“Accelerate your tempo of evacuation_
The checkpoints separate the have everything’s_
From the people who are dressed like you_
And carry paperwork like me.”
I suppose you and only you_ the woman that I trust and choose_
Can entrap these men of business with their whoring,
With their thirst for further treasure_
With long lines of china white running from the mousetrap to their nose.
How many slaves does it take to keep this neon play ground running?_
I know via your profession you can undertake a series of transactions_
Blonde dynamite distractions_
Before any know exactly what’s in store.
Reduce the need for automatic weapons,
Acquire us the proper routes and channels_
And guide us through a tunnel to the vile trading floor.
She looks at me and rolls her eyes and says in Russian “Lord have mercy.”
I said “I don’t have imaginary friends; there ain’t no need to curse me._
Where we met is unimportant.
Did I mean to enlist her?
I couldn’t resist her.
I had causes and struggles and vengeance and plans.
I shouldn’t have kissed her
And longed for her touch,
For surely she lays nightly in the arms of some husband, some man.
We have become a most curious spectacle_lately.
Do you hate me? Push further,
Took you home from the barstool,
She could have killed me that first night, just with things that she said:
I looked at her once.
And the wheel was turning quickly but the hamster was dead.
The wheel was her cold rationale,
The hamster was the morals that once governed the wheel.
And there were bright lights that up lit her eyes_ and whatever that implies.
Separating what she does_
From that which she’s still willing to feel.
“You take up so much clock!
Blood from a rock!
I must return to District work which begins at moon rise.
And the steel trap will slam shut_
And bind me behind those District walls.
And the men of that vile district,
Will use their credit cards_
To try and pay for my flesh and access to between my thighs.”
She said “root for me.”
I’m going voodoo out tonight_
To earn my money the City.
If you truly are my friend,
Understand that I’ve been hungry and I’m never going hungry again.” _(Sung)
I am looking down the barrel at my pin-striped enemy.
And the columns we’ve been shaking
And lives we’re always taking,
I was seeking sweet surrender and I sought it at her feet.
You think you’re not a target? You pay your taxes, don’t you?
Are you blind to their transgressions?
A cavalcade of charging bulls rampaging down the street.
Everything from here out, it’s true,
My bones rust, from your stardust, your fairy eyes_
I lose myself to you.
She says, “Oh the things you might do,”
Our harsh and untenable positions have emboldened us_ as we know no one cares or pays attention, or even has a clue.
If we want it bad enough we can get it:
“For the rest of our lives_
Even if that life, she says, will last no longer than another day or two.
Kiss me _fight beside me Dorogaia,
Even if to you my name and words are sometimes strange,
For what they do to your body and mind,
And what they did to my family,
Help us create a major crisis at the Moscow Stock Exchange.
You’re crazy she said,
You’re crazy won’t get me dead!
Well, talk about your ridiculous plan in the morning.
It’s all a slave show, and if you didn’t know.
Russians who help rebels aren’t even given a funeral, much less a warning.
Enchante! Encore! Dedicated to the heroic little me! Ms. Dasha Andreavna!
A true Russian patriot!
Are you blushing yet woman?
We Russians know not how to blush! I do like very much it when you talk so emotionally, shall we call it ‘dirty’ to me in such advanced lyrical poetry.
I am capable of just about anything when you believe in our work!
Our work!? The history books will again say you wrote it all yourself. In my cultural context women, we just exist, exciting from man all manners of flury and furious drama.
Our work! Important work! Giving the people some actual hope. Giving the people in the streets and trenches of Amerika’s latest, greatest uprising something of substance to finally believe in. Art in service of a revolution and of course a brilliant kind of code. As you well know. The cultural context of hope?
The cultural context of you are fucked.
Your land is in nuclear ashes. Your last-held cities are fully surrounded. Yet you all still seem to find it useful propaganda. To hope these scrolls contain anything besides an even greater false hope. Publishing these, Je ne sais; conspiracy theories and varying alternative realities. These delusions of grandeur the underground are still apparently circulating with fascination. Written in the antiquated prose of a dying language! Read erratically over the radio?
Poetry and Martyrs are immortal.
I think all your many dead friends have very little use for any more fucking poetry.
You forget a lot. We have already played a part that absolves us now of any further responsibility to any higher cause. We don’t have to get involved ever again.
Remind me! Remind me why again I stand by you. Life after life, death after death. Story time again Tovarish lover. I challenge you right fucking now. The Ministry of Truth wants to know how our poems are coded. The Department of Homeland Security accuses you of course of high treason, thus to your country of origin, you will probably never return. Your Millennium Hostage Crisis. It has cost the Oligarchy dearly. The Bureau for Arranging Meetings with God may knock on our door any day now. Remind me again why I’m helping you?
Dvash, Sweetness, if I may still call you that; where do we even start?
You can remind me again how we met. Originally speaking.
The trouble sweetness, with all your various tales, is that not a single one of them is ever true. Frankly, they’re all quite bleak. Your stories foster hopelessness.
The greatest fun with your stories is that so many of them are real. You expose yourself to the most serious liability. Your voice is so fucking loud.
Even the bed bugs can inform on you!
What will be the prize for the ‘most premium’ story tonight dear?
Prosto! I won’t get raped again and you won’t get tortured for weeks on end. With blades, beatings, gas, current, water fire boards, and sodomy. Cutting small pieces from me and feeding them to you. The people you love most won’t have to get killed this time. Maybe they can even sit the great war out. Maybe you’ll get to bring your city and homeland back from the ashes. Your whole mischosen people come back from the dead. Fuck, maybe I’ll date you for a while. Have a summer fling in Moscow, take a train to China. Like you always said you wanted to. Anything is possible.
What story will it be tonight Dorogia?
What you’ve done in my name is complex.
What you’ve seen inside the Ziggurat is hardly even small talk.
What have I done in the name of you? A lot of terror. What I saw there. The truth in its innermost parts.
Liat, Liat. When history is finally written. They’ll make you look like a lunatic. A fanatical zealot. A real mad man. A terrorist.
And me, just some whore. At best a hapless muse!
What have I done?
Then, suddenly she kisses him very hard. Like the way you kiss a person you will never probably see again. It reminds him very briefly of what he’s been fighting for. She pulls back. For a small moment he almost smiles. Then she blows a powder into his face and the story begins again. To the sounds of trumpets and gun fire.