Chapter 40, in which a small Russian family contemplates its fate
“Over here. We’ll sit.”
Zenaida motions to a bench along the river across from the Kremlin. Yevgeny helps Tatyana, his three-year old daughter, up onto the bench. She sits between her parents without fidgeting. Yevgeny looks around to make sure no one is within earshot.
“There’s nothing to be done about it now, is there?” Zenaida asks.
“No, but the diversion is taking over. The military is so enamored of the plan that they are talking as if a nuclear strike is desirable, a nuclear war with the Americans is winnable.”
“They’ve lost their minds.”
“The process has taken on an inertia of its own. I rarely hear of anything else. The original strike is an afterthought. The diversion we created for the Americans is diverting us.”
“Where do you go with this?”
“Nowhere. I do my work, and that is all I can do. But we’re losing control of the situation on the American island. I spend all of my time answering idiotic questions about a plan that is not really a plan.”
“And where is the General Secretary?”
“Disappeared. I think he spends all of his time with generals and colonels.”
“Then leave it to him. It’s simple. It’s out of your hands.”
“And when both plans fail, it is my head, not my hands that will pay the price.”
“Don’t talk like that. Not in front of your daughter. Not in front of me either,” Zenaida scolds him.
Yevgeny stares across the river at the Kremlin, the cradle of power in the Soviet Union. Too many men–important men who occupied the highest positions of power, heroic men who fought the tsarists and the counterrevolutionaries, who fought the fascists, who marched in the streets, and who marched to Berlin–have been dragged from their offices in the Kremlin to the basement of the Lubyanka on their way to Siberia or worse. His fear for his own fate is tempered by his almost genetic Russian fatalism.
“I will work, you will raise Tatyana, and life will bring what it brings.”
“In the meantime?”
“In the meantime, I will do as I’m told by my most important boss, my beautiful wife!”
“Or she and your beautiful daughter will run into the arms of the first American who will give us a villa with servants and a cherry orchard in exchange for the most important secrets of their dreaded enemy.”
“You know such an American?”
“I was hoping you would introduce us. You’re the one with the connections.”
They both laugh lightly.
“How about a dacha on the Crimean?”
“With a cherry orchard?”
“Exactly as you wish.”
“We should be going. Our apartment will have to do for the time being.”
Yevgeny gathers Tatyana in his arms. The small Kasparanov family turns back down the path that led them to this point, back to the small, bugged apartment they have the audacity to call their own.