The Fate of a Drummer Boy, part IV

"[Yakov] clung to my arm so hard and so menacingly looked at me and shook his bald head that I thought he might have some sort of heart attack. I jumped out of the cabin into the corridor and stopped. What the heck was going on? What did those bulging eyes and skewed lips mean? I’ll cry out to the conductor and give him your little bag, if that’s what you want! The conductor was just walking into the car when I saw him. He stopped to wipe the window with a rag. Should I tell him or not?"

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The Fate of a Drummer Boy, part III

"I was sure that we were going to one of the train stations. But we drove for a while to the edge of town and swooped under the bridge of the Encircle Line. Little dacha villages one-by-one flashed in front of us and then disappeared behind us. Our car hurried off, taking us somewhere far away."

The Fate of a Drummer Boy, part II

"I’ll give you my word, had Valentina asked me if I had any problems, if I was bored, or had she at least sent a simple yellow card and not this one with cliffs and eagles and the sea that taunted me and reminded me of a beautiful life that was totally unlike my own, and, finally, even if she hadn’t reminded me three times in the course of the short message about the laundress as if that were the most important thing, I would have answered her with the whole truth."