TWENTY ONE (XXI)
руки не доходят
Pronunciation: RUkee ni daHOHdyat
Literal translation: the hands don’t reach it Meaning: to not find the time to do (something) Example: Да все до уборки руки не доходят.
“ I can never get around to cleaning.”
In Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, “The so-called Russian Quarter”, “the Little Odessa.” Depending how you Post-Soviet identify. The Russian Quarter is always teeming with life behind the wall. Were I to put my finger in it; my nostril to the whiff beyond her buxom chest; it smells like potato pancakes, cherry perfume, cigarette smoke and fish. Smoked fish. It runs along and below the above ground Yellow Q and Orange B Express train line which rumbles above like a mechanical wave breaking in the six story tenement row houses made of red brown brick. Following the Q line above ground the architecture of the quarter goes from a mix of these artless, durable six stories inter mixed with modest suburban homes running towards the coast. The Northernmost boundary of the quarter is Kings Highway because it is here that street signs appear in Cyrillic. Although the Midwood Ivoryish zone overlaps with the Russian quarter until avenue H where the Haitian Bar Lev line was drawn in 1996. Drugs nor guns nor traffic can move north of that line or south. District Midwood is one of eleven Ivoryish ghettos in the greater New York area, a place of prayer and tunnels and coming and going. Kawa Zivistan lived in that district for eight years on Ocean and H. He knows its comings and goings.
The Russian quarter is awash with small restaurants with live music sung by comical Tamidahs and various slender, busty, well made up on every level Slavic goddesses. And price fixed meals. Its western border is Coney Island Avenue, which at Kings Highway becomes a Pakistani district where Shar’iah law is secretly enforced. Coney Island Avenue runs parallel to Ocean Avenue to the east and ocean parkway to the west, and these three routes had to be thoroughly barricaded to turn back the advance of the National Guard and the 104th and 116th tank column of Christmas Eve; 2015 or in the parlance of the rebels AR 3. That is still three years to come. The eastern border of the quarter was Nostrand Avenue. Where the Russian quarter ends and the West Indian quarter begins, largely composed of Haitians and Jamaicans. There were never walls around the quarter, not before the revolt or after not even when the southern rim of Brighton and Coney Island because the internationally famous green light district once the Soviet was recognized by Russia and China in AR 7, or 2019 Common Era. There were not physical walks but perhaps linguistic mental walls that trapped the mentality of those.in the quarter somewhere between the 18th and 21st century. Perhaps between the old world and the new. Perhaps rendering the seditious place it was and is, a place unlike any others where huddled refugees and expatriate radicals were walled in Breukelen habitations in a space that was neither Russia nor America, a purgatory. For had the three million souls of the future Breuklyn, excuse me Breuklyn Soviet ever been embraced by the Americans perhaps they would not have enjoined the rising. For what solidarity did those in the quarter have with Ivoryish spies and black revolutionaries? Nothing. Less than nothing. So little nothing that the majority of the quarter might have seated the whole thing out, we’re that an option. But with all the other tribes in arms and the National Guard shelling so indiscriminately well most joined in the rising before long simply to avenge or protect their own.
That is a characteristic that certainly embodies the Russian quarter. They are rugged social individualists. Very few are actually Russian. There are several hundred thousand former Soviet refugees that speak Russian. But few are slavic. They are Ukrainians, Ivory, Bulgarians, Tartars, Uzbeks, Kazaks, Chuvash, Turkmen, Armenians, Georgians, Bukharians, even a few war like Chechens. They all are in-grained with the Russian Mentality. As in their circle of live work and loyalty contracts rapidly even in the face of minor hardship. No other race has ever been fully enslaved by its own people first via brutal serfdom then via even more brutal Stalinism. It ruined them as a collective or idealist species. That circle of loyalty contracts down to one. In a way few other races do. At a certain point they might throw their children and wives into the rising seas. A wretched generalization but their individual will is harder than any. It is impossible to break. The social nature of their individualism is the solidity of the alliances they form. With anyone that properly secures their ends of individual betterment. They are turtle loyal and truly blind for those that aid them. They go inside a hard shell indeed and not god or insects can crack it. It is made of the strongest stuff. Perhaps always having anything but predators as presidents and thieves for kings? Often the Russian quarter was festive, often feisty, often a place of lawless abuses. You couldn’t ever know unless you knew the name of a song in Cyrillic.
Daria Andrevna meets Sebastian called Kawa on the boardwalk. Kawa stands there smoking a Newport sizing up the Green from the Blue Tatiana not knowing how different they really are. He looks sleep deprived. Daria then tells him this rambling story about being the great granddaughter of a German baroness. This seemed like the kinds of stories all White Russian women concoct to erect a regal lineage that the revolution had maligned. Yelizaveta and Maria hadn’t made up such stories, they had others though that were comparable. But Yelizaveta and Maria’s fathers had been Red Russians and inner party members. They were less fixated on the 19th century it seemed. There were always these vague and ambiguous narratives Kawa noticed about what their fathers did or didn’t do during the Soviet Union. Maria’s father had completely disappeared in Chechnya, allegedly been shot by friendly fire; he had been a General, but was dead before she was four or the family joined the exodus. Yelizaveta’s father had been a “dentist”. Or perhaps an expert interrogator. It was hard to deduce. What was the truth and what was the darkness that creeps out into his world any time he encounters them, these post and former Soviets.
Anyhow, Dasha was claiming to be part Ivoryish via her German Baroness Great Grandmother and that was her story for now. Her father apparently had just been a tramp and ran out on her mom at fairly a young age. She kisses him on each cheek and takes out a picture, wrapped up in papers and a bow.
“For you,” she states.
He opens it and it’s quite something, so black and dark and vivid. A heart. A black, black heart. But, his or hers? To what symbolic level goes it?
“Amazing, I love it,” he replies.
And for the nearly the first time in his life, he means it.
“I’m just so glad.” She says with her big blue person eyes beaming?
“Shall we go get some red wine?” she suggests.
That night long after midnight, late, late after a few shots, and some wine and a few dozen shared cigarettes in Cafes in and around Manhattan Beach they walked their walk, tumbling really toward the yacht yards and mansion of Sheepshead Bay.
At one point she yanks his collar close and says; “taste me”; she puts wine into him mouth to mouth. The night gets early, he’s lost chasing her.
He runs his fingers through her thick blond lion’s mane. She leans into him on bar stools or when they go outside to speak, let her tits rest on him, brush against him.
“So you’re really an Ivory?” she asks.
“Yes at least partly.”
“I want to ask you silly questions and you will answer them off, she smiles rolling up into his arms, “and you will get a prize if you win, understand. True answers only.”
“Would you denounce your Ivoryish G-d and become an Eastern Orthodox Christian to please my mother?”
“I don’t believe in either G-d’s monopoly, why not?”
“If we were poor would you work on Saturdays to support me?”
“As I have for years.”
“Would you steal for me?
“The moon itself. And whatever was needed.”
“Would you make love to me with my husband sleeping in the next room?”
“Your cries of passion would wake him, so only if he were drugged.”
“Would you kill to protect me?”
“Without a thought.”
“If I killed someone would you help me cover it up?”
“Yes of course I’d try.”
“Try. Depends on the mess not the risk.”
A mental picture flashes in his head of a memory. Was it real? The two of them dismembering corpses and melting them in acid?
“If I asked you to kill for me would you do it?”
“Are you in trouble?” he asks like a stupid American.
“You know I’m a married woman?”
“I’d like to suggest it lacks certain integrity.”
“Does it? How could you know? You’ve known me what, five weeks?”
“Time is relative.”
“Maybe. My husbands a total monster and my boyfriend is a bit boring,” is all she says and pulls away from him.
She shows him marks on her poorly hidden.
She has black and blue marks on her chest and under both arms. Like she got herself fucked ruthlessly. She has handcuff marks on her wrists.
“What do you want me to do about your situation?”
“There is nothing that can be done.”
“I could take you away.”
“You could try.”
“You have to tell me what you want me to do, not what you assume is possible.”
“What’s the thing you Americans say, oh yes: You and what army.”
“What are those marks from?”
“Me being loved by three men.”
He looks sad, it breaks through. Sad for her and him both.
“You could leave with me. Tonight. I have enough money to get us away.”
“I doubt that. I have expensive tastes.”
“Are you going to give me new clothes? And a beautiful home; and pay for my school. And give me a credit card. Give me money to send to my ailing mother in Penza? Ivory.”
“I think I could give you a better life than this shit, this life. In this miserable city.”
“You can’t give me what I need. As sweet as you are.”
“I don’t think you’d be with me if you didn’t think I could try.”
“You’re broke. You’re in school. You’re up to shit, I know. Don’t think I don’t know what you and your friends are up to. You’re all gonna die.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Do you think I don’t know?”
“What do you think you know?”
“I got to know a lot of guys when they brought me here.”
“The Perchevney Bratva.”
“You’ve told me so many fucking stories about how you got here. Who keeps you, what’s even true? What! You play mind games like the best of us.”
“My girlfriend and I were hired to let a couple bankers work us up two nights ago. When I told you I was studying. I was being fucked by two Wall Street guys, swapping my friend and I for hours. These marks are from them, not my fake ass paperwork husband. Not my most generous boyfriend Serge.”
He wonders what if any of the story is real.
“The Wall Street guys were fucked out their minds. They were going at us for hours. Taking long breaks to do coke and talk about shit they own.”
He has been asleep because she keeps feeding him booze. He wakes up sometimes and knows his role, but then goes to sleep and forgets what is about to go down.
“They know you and the rest of so-called resistance are going to attack the stock exchange on 17 Fructidor. In but two days. They know that you’re all going to try and take over the whole district and provoke a state of emergency. They know everything. The cops know. The National Guard know. The F.B.I. know. The Bureau of Homeland Security knows. Breria, too he certainly knows. They are going to lure you all into those very narrow streets and spaces. They’re going to wait under one day. They’re going to kill every single one of you with a gas. Now you tell me. What horse am I betting on? My fat American paperwork husband. My Russian accountant boyfriend washing money at the biggest hotel in the Midtown? My boss, the Illubadori pimp who pays me one grand every night I take a Wall Street guy, a banker or celebrity out to dinner? Or you? The charming but totally bipolar ambulance man, who has less than 400 in the bank, is on the Department of Homeland Security tertiary kill list, can’t buy me a new life, and can’t save me. All you have is happy noble Amerikanski ideals and some poems. You probably shouldn’t ever see me again.”
He knows she’s right about at least what’s in his account.
“I can get us out of this city, I can take you away from this life,” Kawa says, “I…”
“You are going to tell me you love me?” she asks him.
He doesn’t respond, that word means nothing anyway in English.
“You better not even fucking dare say it.”
“I’ll give you my life and I kill anyone who is hurting you. I’ll bury your husband, your boyfriend and your handlers. I’ll bury Breria himself.”
She kisses him hard. Fuck it, she thinks he’ll probably be dead again in a couple of days.
And that was how she began to suspect that he truly was the man she’d dreamed about as a younger girl with the powers she was born with, from a line of old soul sorceresses; and she of course recorded the entire conversation on her smart phone recorder as evidence for her handlers, well we all have them really.
Shortly they could cross this very, very loose and erratic cannon off their growing shorter list. He was so fucking out there, he was not to be allowed to walk off the map this time.
“I know a little inn at the boardwalk end with mirrors on the ceiling,” she whispers to him, “I have to sleep at home tonight but he’s not gonna come home tomorrow. You can’t save my soul or fix my life, but you can do what you want to my body, if I like it.” Now that was a value proposition, if he had ever heard one. Because he believed in his heart, that sometimes things were like Russian literature and sometimes they were like American movies, but if you fucked a woman good enough and hard enough she would, could, might really love you. ‘I think that I may have been listening to lots of music from the Caribbean, culturally speaking. That’s what made me think like that.’
“Yalla,” she says to him and winks.