Zone of Alienation

20 Aug

—You can tell the Americans by how fats they are. And the baseball hats.
He laughed through his teeth and spat.
—How can you live in this cold and grey?
—Russian people is very tough.
—Do you get a lot of Americans travelling here?
—Yes. Strange.
—Why?
—I don’t know. Maybe…they want to have six fingers?
He laughed again. And spat again. His phlegm came down in a green, coagulated mass and landed on a rock. The substance trickled down slowly like a mass of larvae.
—You can take now pictures if you have something…
—It’s all right.
—You don’t want?
—No. I usually remember where I’ve been.
He shook his head and lit a cigarette against the cold gust, protecting the flame within his cracked palm.
—Look at this. I have sausage fingers.
He coughed.
—Are you ready?
—Yes.
—Okay. You want drink?
—Sure.
—Okaaay.
—Okay.
He pulled in more phlegm through his throat and expectorated it onto the frozen gravel. Bits of his saliva sprayed me and I felt ill. I could smell the insides of his stomach on my cheek.
—MmmDa. This is the consequences of our errors. There is nothing left for us to do except wait a few centuries before to farm again. This bloody reactor will be here twenty-five thousand years from now.
—If we’re even around to see it.
—MmmDa. Let’s go drink.
—Okay.

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8 Responses to “Zone of Alienation”

  1. Rodger Jacobs 20/08/2009 at 2:07 PM #

    Have you ever read Martin Cruz Smith’s “Wolves Eat Dogs”, Alex? It is, I believe, the fifth novel featuring Russian detective Arkady Renko that began with the terrific “Gorky Park.” The plot of “Wolves” is centered in Chernobyl, post-meltdown and Smith’s rendering of the landscape and the poor souls who stayed behind after everyone sane departed is remarkable. I highly recommend it.

  2. (S)wine 20/08/2009 at 2:59 PM #

    I’ve only read Gorky Park. Recommendation duly noted. Thanks.

  3. Rodger Jacobs 20/08/2009 at 3:43 PM #

    The amazing thing about Smith’s Renko novels is that they are really thinly-disguised social histories of contemporary Russia and other communist nations (one of the best books in the series — I can’t recall the title right now — is set in contemporary Havana). Smith was warning the world about the terrible rise of the Russian Mafia in post-communist Russia years before it ever became a topic of discussion. Now the mob practcally rules the country and they lead the world in internet crimes such as hacking and electronic bank account thievery.

  4. (S)wine 20/08/2009 at 4:20 PM #

    Indeed, Rodger. As well as my own people, the Romanians are near geniuses at perpetrating online fraud. And probably they’re hired by the Russians.

  5. Rodger Jacobs 20/08/2009 at 6:22 PM #

    The Romanians are indeed contracting with the Russians, Alex, and they also have several cells here in the United States like the guy who was busted for credit card fraud yesterday; reports are he worked for Russian clients. Here’s how it works: the cc numbers and names are stolen by hackers here in the U.S.; the cc numbers and names are harvested and sold to the Russians; the Russians manufacture new fraudulent cc’s and send them to employees here in the U.S. who buy merchandise, fence it for cash and then send the cash to Russia.

  6. (S)wine 21/08/2009 at 8:40 AM #

    About 8 yrs. ago, there was some sort of gas (petrol) scheme going on with scores and scores of gas stations around D.C. and the Ukrainians and Russians and some Romanian “mules” or “cogs in the machine” types working it. Don’t remember the details, but the intricacy of the fraud was mind-boggling.

  7. Geoff 23/08/2009 at 3:30 PM #

    I’m enjoying this back and forth a great deal. Keep these “behind the scenes” conversations going, please. (… inspired, of course, by the front-line fiction.)

    To the words, always.

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