Speaking In Tongues
Scribbling In Voices


Treatment for a documentary series

by Stas Tyrkin


In his most recent writing, «Russian Vultures», a treatment for a documentary series on four young Russian women on the make in Vladivostok, he incisively explores with humor, horror, and compassion the decay and corruption of this Far-Eastern Pacific outpost and the rot in the souls of those who would feast on it.
Beth Henley, Pulitzer Prize winner

They say that from the pictures Vladivostok resembles San Fransisco. It really does: with its hills, the bay, the woods... For more similarity, though, you will need complete darkness, but that’s no problem here. At the very end of the 20th century the city cuts off electricity at 9 pm each single day. Now, the resemblance is startling. But don’t open your eyes in the morning or you will confirm the opposite.
You can’t believe this city! It is filthy. Trash everywhere and dust and dirt. Seems like filth was embedded from day one, but now the city is at its nadir. Go to the waterfront, there is a small beach there. You expected it to be like a beach anywhere you have been before? You were wrong. Everywhere you go there is trash and stench around. Be careful, scraps of garbage are strewn by the wind! Run to tram or bus or trolleybus. Ooops, there is always standing room only. But what a fragrance! Don’t look left. Dumps just beside the residences are teeming with rats. Don’t look right. Abandoned by their masters, sick homeless cats and dogs are waiting for death from the forthcoming winter. Wanna take a bath? It’s almost impossible. Typically, there is no hot water down here. But if you are lucky enough to live in a neighbourhood with temporary access to it, you can enjoy its tea-like coloring. Don’t use elevators. You can be stuck in one and then all you will have to do is smell piss for hours until the light comes back. Don’t drive at night, either. The roads here are worse than any backroads country gravel road you have ever seen.
People here are crass, but what can you expect from them on this feast of life? A salary of $200 per month is not bad here. The pensioners normally have less than $100 per month in one of Russia’s most expensive cities. It’s almost enough for bread and tea. They wear their mended clothes for tens of years. Eyes-downcast, they plod up and down the hilly streets with a trifling, yet impossible dream for an apple or cheap ice cream on a stick.
All of a sudden, something or somebody rivets the attention of the elderly. It’s a cluster of young women, all in their late 20s or early 30s, all tall and attractive, all thriving, all of different Russian types. They look fabulous gathered all together, especially with the background of bleak streets and heaps of garbage - short skirts, long legs, high heels, tight blouses, naked bellies, leather-clad behinds. The elderly are numbly hating their designer threads, their audacious looks, their beaming surface. But the babes don't give a shit about them, hurtling along with their heavy make-up flashing.
These girls are living in this city, too. They are trying to ignore its filth with their gleaming. But their guts belong in it.


Here are the stories of these four girls - all friends, related by chance, tied by life...
They will be told by themselves and a variety of other people.

Vulture #1, Adelaida

She prefers to be called Ada, an artificial blonde with comics-like features and no less than two plastic surgeries. Originally her hair was crow-black, and her nose was big and aquiline. She decided to change the will of Mother Nature after some rude people told her that she looked like a Jewish girl - an obscenity she just couldn’t stand. She told me in her very enthusiastic manner how the Russian medicine craftsmen were gouging her nasal bone with chisel and hammer. And she even wasn’t under an anaesthetic, since she had to hawk her blood out, she explained.

Working with Her Face

Adelaida is the kind of person who would cut her own throat if it helps her to look more gorgeous. When she was eighteen, she was seriously pondering the idea of changing her sex and appearing before the numbing world under the male name of Sasha. In her soul, wierd romantic ingenuity marched hand in hand with the perfect knowledge of what she wanted from life and an incredible zeal for achieving her mostly ridiculous goals. This quality of her nature made her both frightening and deserving of pity. Hot-tempered and easily angered, she might have flouted her dopey schoolmates, and yet cried all night long over her girly troubles and endless "facial problems".
So with the accomplishment of her vigorous attack on her appearance, instead of a long one, she became a happy owner of a thick one, but not a Jewish one at least!! Then all of a sudden, in the middle of all this mess, she found herself heading towards graduation from the university - Department of Journalism. It wasn’t a very big deal for her, though. Her education wasn’t meant to lead her to a professional career in some chosen field. By entering the university, Adelaida just followed a tradition - to study somewhere after high school.
She wasn’t too bad as a student, but all her practical works were typically being done by her friends from the local radio station and only signed by her. While in the university, she had much more important things to do. She killed most of her time striving to buy clothing that she needed, which wasn’t that easy in Russia at that time. She might have been busy all day long trading her jeans for a pair of other ones, or finding a friend of a friend to whom she would sell her jacket - only to be able to wake up at 5 am the next morning to go to the clothing market somewhere miles away to buy a new skirt or something. She enjoyed dancing, hosting parties and flirting with men. One of her lovers, a vodka-loving journalist who worked as a part-time employee at the university, ultimately helped her with her thesis.
She had so much on her mind. She wanted to sing, she wanted to star in a movie, she wanted to buy an expensive mink fur-coat, she wanted to go to America, yet she might have been eating nothing but salt all day long. She had lots of ambition, but no money. She was hungry. She needed men. Now, with a brand-new nose and a diploma in her pantyhose, it was the perfect time to unload the heavy artillery. Now she could work with her face, like most Russian girls do, with her face and just a little tiny bit of her brain!
A hot and boisterous babe, she enjoyed sex very much but somehow she always managed to earn some income out of it. A man was supposed not only to satisfy her in the right way, but to feed her with a good lunch in an expensive restaurant, buy some necessary items for her gaudy outfit, provide some sort of entertainment and, if possible, some cash. The more money a man gave to her, the more he loved her, Adelaida thought.
Almost from the very beginning of her sex life, this wise girl understood that only foreign men could fully satisfy all her needs. She took advantage of the fall of the iron curtain in the late 80s when several foreign ships came to Vladivostok for a stay. Right away she fell in love with a handsome sailor from a Greek ship on account of his striking resemblence to some personage from her wildest dreams. After a while, however, the material girl that she is, decided to date another Greek - the not so handsome supervisor of her romantic hero, whom she considered much more reliable. Then that masculine marine was gone, promising her all his love and an invitation to the country of Homer. The whole year long she was answering his passionate calls from somewhere under the Acropolis, still earning money with her face and the other parts of her hot body. Eventually she went to Greece - only to learn that her courteous beau was gay.

Wild Adventures of a Lonesome Soul

Unlike most of her friends, Adelaida was happy enough to have her parents far away from her - in the Ukraine. They seemed not to care about her which made her somewhat sore. On the other hand, she had a two-room apartment at her own disposal, and Adelaida managed to use the only piece of property she had, the best way she could. It was a place where she and her friends were dating their lovers - one pair per room, sometimes more. When she needed the money, she would lease her home to some Korean or American businessmen, wandering endlessly from one of her friends to another.
In a city like Vladivostok, with the business inclinations she had, Adelaida could not help experiencing some dirty, but at the same time, funny stories. Once, she and her friend were propositioned by some Chinese businessman to have a nice relaxing sauna together. Adelaida was offered a pair of cheap shoes or something to appear, and of course, she couldn’t resist the temptation. Things in the sauna were getting along just fine until some professional whores ‘‘working’’ in this sauna for some ‘‘solid’’ prostitutes’ firm, saw Adelaida and her friend in their steamy work place. Immediately they squealed on them to the guarding pimps or – who knows? -- pimping guards, who anyhow knew their job and didn’t fail to express all their power with all possible humiliation. As a punishment, the girls were ... orally raped by the guards which in this case sounded almost like a merciful and courteous forgiveness.
Another story involved an ugly aging lady who claimed that she had a gallery in Macao. I met her once at the opening of the first exibition of famous Russian emigrant artists ever held in the Far East. Later, Adelaida had seen my program on it and was rather surprised to learn that this crocodile lady was an art dealer. She knew her from quite a different side - as a proprietor of a fair-sized brothel located somewhere between Hong Kong and Macao. Yes, Crocodile Lady was promoting not only Russian art there, but the beauty of Russian girls, too. Adelaida was invited to go with one of the many groups of girls in the noble position of supervisor. Adelaida insists, she wasn’t supposed to service the clients as an ordinary "waitress or hostess" (that’s how Crocodile Lady discribed the girls’ future positions to their parents). She was just supposed to squeal on them daily to Crocodile Lady, and that was it. For some reason, Adelaida’s mission in Macao appeared to be a subject for endless delays, and eventually she never started such a good job.
There was a slight compensation, though. One day, Adelaida was summoned by her boss who solemnly announced that she was ordered by some wealthy client in Hong Kong. Adelaida was eager to go and serve. After all, it was going to be her first trip abroad (all this happened a year before she went to Greece), and she coudn’t wait to leave her Motherland -- for a few days, at least. She was facing a tremendous number of problems. At those times to receive a foreign passport in Russia was a really significant problem. But she went through it all and did leave Russia. She even landed in Hong Kong. Then she was escorted to the hotel not far from the airport. She was full of impressions about this huge stone wall all along the road, but unfortunately, that was the only sight she ever saw in Hong Kong. She spent a night in the hotel in a sudden and desperate solitude. Apparently, the wealthy client was busy, or he had changed his plans about Adelaida: nobody knew for sure. Only one thing was sure -- Adelaida was immediately sent back home. On her way back to the airport, she was hopelessly staring at this incredible wall out of the cab window...
To celebrate her 23rd birthday, Adelaida had chosen a pretty expensive restaurant. The only problem was that right before that she had found herself with almost no money. So she decided to invite only one, but a dear guest - her new friend, with whom she started living practically as soon as they got acquainted. She lent her own place to some mob members, again, and now felt somewhat obliged to express all her gratitude to her host. They had supper, then hit the dance floor. In the process, Adelaida was checking out a group of Chinese men who were apparently looking for a good time. To make up for her expenditures, she started getting sexy with those Chinese. After a while, her friend, being a pretty innocent girl, found herself in the middle of a wild orgy with Adelaida servicing a big cluster of the little Asian men. Our Pretty Innocent Girl was politely invited to join the fun too. As if some peculiarity of a Russian girl’s character, she considered it her obligation to alleviate Adelaida’s burden and did join. Adelaida still remained the star on this set, though, as she was receiving the most attention. After all, it was her birthday.

Russian-Korean Relationships

After a pretty long line of (Russian) men, Adelaida finally settled down with Chon, a miniature good-looking Korean working as a technical staff member in the newly opened South Korean consulate. He spoke neither Russian, nor English, but it didn’t realy matter for his girlfriend. She leased her home, naturally, and moved into his rented apartment. The Russian-Korean relationship lasted for about a year and a half. Little Chon turned out to be a very passionate guy. Once in a while, he behaved like a Dostoyevsky character, foaming at the mouth, crushing furniture and beating his tougher looking girlfriend with the wreckage. She wanted money and discotheques, but none was forthcoming. "Why should I let you horse around with me if I’m not even given the money?" - Adelaida asked him violently in a wild mixture of Russian and English. The thing was, however, that in his country women didn’t even have a right to ask questions. Ultimately, she found out that he was cheating on her. Yes, she wasn’t the only hot-tempered Russian babe in high heels digging foreign men in this city.
Adelaida had an abortion and divorced Mr. Technical Staff. She was lonesome and desperate but still young and long-legged, so she decided to realize one of her hottest dreams. Other than becoming a pop diva or a movie star, there was a dream to get a degree as an English speaking guide and interpeter. It was definitely the time to improve her English - she met an American businessman who came to Vlad with long-term work plans. His name was Thai. Due to a strange irony of the fate, he was a Korean, that is a Korean American. They started living together at Adelaida’s place - Thai was too pragmatic to rent another apartment only to let his girlfriend make some dough out of hers. Later, when she finished her English courses and got a job as a secretary in some firm, Thai didn’t mind it either.
Shortcomings or not, he was pretty generous and loving, too. To her friends’ great envy, Adelaida began to wear authentic American clothing, not just Turkish and Chinese counterfeits. Thai took her to his home - Potrland, Oregon; showed her his farm and introduced her to his family. She started getting friendly with Thai’s sister who later came to Vlad as well. It seemed like their marrage was absolutely inevitable.
Adelaida didn’t like Portland and the farm, though. She said it was a terrific bore. She wasn’t allowed to go to the bars or hit the dance floor or anything she’d got used to during her single Russian night-time life. She couldn’t imagine America would be like this. She wasn’t cut out for rural life, she said.
Thai’s business of building "The American Village" - a cottage neighborhood in the suburb of Vlad - finally fell short. Americans turned out to be unable to handle the basics of Russian business - extortion and bribery. After the governor said no, Thai had nothing to do but go home.
As Thai went to America to prepare everything for their wedding and store the necessary diamond rings, Adelaida started preparing for leaving, too. She was so sure about her leaving that she had even sold her only precious piece of property - the apartment, and deposited the money in Thai’s bank account in the US. The dream of her entire life - to move to America - was going to come true.

Golden Cage

One slight problem with Adelaida is that she has been almost pathologically unable to stay committed to her current boyfriend to the point of not cheating on him. Sooner or later she always got in a rut, strongly believing that sex couldn’t be fun with always the same partner. She, of course, was trying to restrict her true nature while engaged with the lovers on whom she had been depending in the money department - at least to the extent of just fantasizing about the other men. Now that Thai left, she decided to finally let herself go. Her romance with the man for whom she worked as a secretary, began...
He was named Sasha, a young New Russian whose business was selling details for ships. It was combined with some oil business later. He wasn’t even 30-year-old but looked much older: tall, quiet, not unattractive and serious as hell. The package wouldn’t have been any good for Adelaida until he was wealthy. And it did seem to Adelaida that he was richier than her two Koreans together.
Sasha was extremely upset at the time, though. His heart was broken by his ex-girlfriend who went away almost slapping him in the face with all the diamonds and mink fur-coats that he bought her. Adelaida couldn’t understand that girl. She had everything that, in Adelaida’s opinion, an average Russian girl could have ever dreamed of. She had everything that Adelaida still didn’t have. Everything that Adelaida was striving for all her young life. And she, that other girl, could buy jeans for her other lovers while being in the US with Sasha!
Adelaida did her utmost to heal Sasha’s love wound, and was generously rewarded for her assistance. Because of his attracton to her, or just as an attempt to forget his unthankful ex, Sasha proposed to Adelaida to marry him. She promptly accepted. Meanwhile, Thai was bombarding her with calls and faxes. She answered vaguely.
Here enters Anna, Adelaida’s long-time friend and companion, and vulture # 2. Being married to a mob member, she finished some expensive English courses and bought herself a trip to San Diego. In full harmony with her controversial nature, Anna went to Portland, Oregon, too – only to tell Thai that Adelaida was probably pregnant and almost married to someone else. Needless to say, Thai went ballistic. He gave Adelaida an agressive buzz telling her that he was not going to give her $20,000 back. Much later, he refunded the sum but without the costs of the diamonds and clothing that he bought for her. Now he is involved with another of Adelaida’s friends - an extremely stupid young girl who went to America to study but stayed there for a much longer time, without any visa at all.
Adelaida indeed married Sasha and bore him a son, Danila. They spent their honeymoon in Hawaii, and Adelaida was six months pregnant at the time. Sasha ordered his apartment rebuilt and filled it with new furniture. Now it is a beautifully reconstructed two-story apartment with a separate entry located in a old-fashioned house in an inconvenient, tangled neighborhood - new Russians can’t buy a neighborhood so far. Adelaida’s girly dream eventually came true. All her material cravings were contented by Sasha’s diligence. He gave her anything she wanted - money, clothing, diamonds... Every day he ordered food from a restaurant of the city’s most expensive hotel. But of course, for satisfying Adelaida’s enormous appetites he took away her freedom.
At first, she was almost loving it. She said that she never knew that being a mother could be such fun, that holding a baby could be such a pleasure. She kept saying that she would love to have a daughter some time later. Sasha hired the best babysitter he could find to spare Barbara of all the not so scrumptious aspects of motherhood. From that point, Adelaida had almost no things to do. Sasha was resentfully suspicious of all forms of Adelaida’s activities. Apparently, he bore a huge complex because of his previous girlfriend’s cheating. But in Adelaida’s case, he was suspicious for all the right reasons. His insane jealousy ruined all her even most innocent plans. He didn’t allow her to visit her friends, nor was she allowed to host them. She couldn’t go shopping alone - she was always accompanied by a personal driver. She couldn’t even go to a gym or swimming pool without Sasha, and he typically had much more important things to do. When Sasha left for business trips, she stayed under the constant surveilance of his mother who lived with them and was happy to provide her beloved son with all necessary information.
Meeting her ocasionally, her old friends noticed how nervous she was. She was so hungry for communication with other human beings that she began talking almost from the first minute, laughing and asking questions all along the way. The worst part of it was that although eating from gold, wearing Versace, and riding a huge RV, Adelaida couldn’t show off herself in all her glory to her poorer friends. The latter say that Adelaida is probably on her way to drugs or a nervous breakdown. She got trapped into the golden cage.

Vulture #2, Anna

…always reminded me of an actress she never knew: Bette Davis. With her enormous forehead, plate-like blue eyes, puckered lips and long bushy dark hair which she has never transformed into some kind of a hairdo, Anna is the type of a woman which some people may call attractive, if not beautiful, and others - almost ugly. But it is the specific charm of her ambiguous individuality that makes her appealing to all.

Frustrated Princess

Anna’s home is the small town of Spassk where she was raised by two women - her mother and grandmother - in an atmosphere of nearly sacred awe. Despite the sad fact that little Anna didn’t seem more gifted than the other children, her not overly-educated folks took for granted that she was. They made her a little star. They wanted her to have everything that they didn’t have in their own childhoods. And they gave her what they could, having forgotten about themselves, while Anna was just demanding.
Too much family care made Anna eventually believe that the rest of the world would treat her the same, that everyone just couldn’t wait to devote their lives entirely to her. Reality bit for the first time as she learned at school that no kids saw her as a princess, eager to serve. This less than respectful attitude left Her Imperial Highness no choice but to rat on unruly classmates to the teachers. Needless to say, it didn’t melt any ice, nor break her royal solitude.
In the pictures of that time, she appears serious and thoughtful beyond her age. Not understood and hated by her peers, despising her poor corny folks and the village where they lived, her enormous ego could not guide her to what she wanted. She was a self-appointed star with no hint of talent or desire to work. Why torment yourself, if you are already tired of listening that you’re the best? Unlike her would-be friend Adelaida, Anna didn’t aspire "to be a singer or an actress", to gain prosperity and success. She simply wanted all the waking world to kneel down before her because of what her family said she was. But the truth was she was nothing.
Frankenstein didn’t care for his creator much. With all a child’s cruelty, Anna never understood what it cost the two lonely underpaid women to have their lives sacrificed on the altar of raising a "star". Already grown up, she does not seem to understand that even now. Once, she kept her mother waiting for her in a cold car for about four hours. That winter was particularly stormy and freezing. She was with a lover and had simply forgotten about her.

Two Annas

In the darkness of a movie house Anna became an entirely different person. For despite what she is - a self-centered, hardhearted user of people with no spark of sentiment or romance - Anna has an incredibly vulnerable soul. Her own mother’s fate would never make her tremble as much as the maudlin Hollywood love stories did. At eighteen she cried her eyes out at Gone with the Wind, and at thirty she could still find herself almost as wet as the cast of the Titanic which she saw at least five or six times.
But throughout all her life Anna’s biggest idol was a top Russian pop diva, totally unknown to the rest of the world and named Anna Pugachova. She is an inappropiately dressed overweight woman who has nearly lost her once-thick voice from permanent smoking. Our Anna, who to some degree had identified with that Anna, smartly spotted, however, that she would never be as big a star as the other one, so she decided to interview her, at least. It was enough to make her drippy mates die of jealousy.
She went to the capital of her province, Vladivostok, to accomplish two missions: to meet her namesake who was to arrive for concerts, and to enter J-School. She never did interview Anna the Real Star, but she was lucky enough to get in the crowd escorting her through the locations of Russia’s maritime glory. Here we have a picture of both Annas - both solemnly serious, full of an understanding of their overwhelming significance to the planet.
For her practical work as a journalism student, Anna chose the easiest thing - radio. She reported on Russian pop music stars arriving in the city. No journalistic abilities needed. She would ask all of them the same inane questions. Her favorite one was: "Do you feel jealous of another singer (actor)?" She felt her unearthly importance just by reiterating her interviewees’ names.
Trying to adjust her natural tendencies to the college situation, Anna started befriending the Dean. She was attracted to that young and bloated careerist who, exactly like Anna, had an excessively high regard for his looks and intellectual power. Anna was flattered to have been called by him "one of the most brilliant students ever" and hoped for more. Often times, he would boast to ashamed students that he was cognizant of every little piece of everything had taken place in the dorm. And he wasn’t kidding.

How the Dorm Was Won

The condemned-looking doors of the extremely filthy, one bathroom per floor, J-school dorm began to open for our celebrity seeker when Alla was introduced to her older roommates - the half-crazed Mora and a very kind and soulful alcoholic slut with the funny surname Shapka (Fur Hat). Neither of them felt obliged to give up her dissolute behaviour just because Anna moved in.
For people who were regarded as the cream of the Soviet (Russian) intellectual crop, promiscuity and heavy drinking were, and still are, among the most natural things in the world. One could bring his or her one-night boy/girlfriend to the room, and the other three or four roommates had no choice except to pretend they were asleep - unless they were dead drunk themselves. That was the routine, and Anna got into the thick of it. Miss Fur Hat, for instance, would sleep with whoever drank her under the table, and only very loosely depending on their age, looks, and even the number of people involved. Either during her boozing, or fighting with her numerous boyfriends, Mora lost half her front teeth. Once in a while she paraded around fair-sized black shadows under her bizarre eyes.
Like a lamb thrown to slaughter, Anna had a hard time making her way through this pandemonium. She could have joined the dorm’s crowd of the most dull and timid, poorly dressed girls who came from the little cities exactly like hers, only to return there after five years of ‘‘studies’’, but Anna chose to battle with hell and either win or die in the fire. To her mates’ surprise, she appeared to be a moderate drinker and, what’s more, still a virgin. She even managed to remain one for a fairly long time, shocking her easy-going nemeses. Her favorite movie character was Scarlet O’Hara, the material girl from Gone with the Wind. (She might have been mentally juxtaposing Scarlet’s early days in a Southern mansion with her grannie-guarded childhood in an ironweed town, and the turbulent Civil War years with her dorm period.) On occasion, she also quoted wildly from French romance novels and selected movie dramas she saw. That was enough for Mora and Fur Hat to become fascinated by Anna’s wit and piquant, histrionic manners. They decided to take her under their well-experienced wings.
As time went by, they discovered Anna relying heavily and selfishly on their good will. Her rumored frigidity combined with abstinence and unmasked contempt for the poor insipid maidens in tastless outfits to whom she refered to only as "the gray mouses", ultimately made her, if anything, the First Lady of the Dorm. In full harmony with this new-found title, Anna used her older roommates as much as she could, never giving anything in return. To her noble "Victorian" features she inconspicuously added another one, avarice. For weeks she might eat the food provided by the very generous Shapka, yet ask her to refund 50 kopecks to cover her exact share of the sauna cost after they used it together. Bewildered, Fur Hat just didn’t understand that the entire world owed Anna something for just having her around. And the people who represented this world in Anna’s demanding eyes, were those who pay. Hell was not only won but used, to Anna’s sheer satisfaction.
Victory brings boredom. On her twentieth birthday Anna decided to celebrate at a prestigious restaurant. Her heart was set on having a truly pompous, suave party, something that a "gray mouse" could never afford. To satisfy her enormous conceit, all the Dean’s office was invited, as well as selected dorm friends. Poor corny mom was paying for everything. Disappointment awaited Anna at this naive vanity fair, however. Too haughty, the Dean never arrived. Too craven, the Assistant Dean, who openly admired Anna’s looks and intelligence, handed her a cheap flower in the lobby and disappeared as well. As a consequence, the Dean’s office was represented only by its silly secretary, Lenka, whose presence at the party Anna wanted the very least. After the first toast Anna began crying. Having ten people seated at the table congratulating her meant absolutely nothing. For at that moment, there were NO people around. No people she really needed. The rest of the evening Anna spent with her face buried deep in her palms as if she had just survived a nuclear attack, and all her life and property were hopelessly destroyed. Although all this didn’t prevent Fur Hat from getting drunk and picking up the food remains, the general opinion was that Anna ruined the fun. She treated people like garbage. Not that she specifically wanted it that way. It was just the way things always went...
Due to her old-fashioned habits, Anna started a diary. All her most personal views as well as her sarcastic thoughts about her environment found their place there. Of course she kept it secret, and of course it was found and read. Among many other things, Anna’s classmate Irina, a well-mannered and high-minded girl who knew a lot of great Russian poets by heart, discovered that she was just a phony trying to hide her simplicity under the mask of her random quotes. (In fact, that virtue was the most likely in Anna’s nature). Fur Hat’s well-developed jaw dropped as she faced Anna’s uncompromising insight that the only thing she was ever interested in this life was men’s endowment. (Reality was that in her drunken stupor it didn’t make much difference for Fur Hat). Significantly piqued, Anna’s mates declared a boycott on her. Lost and ostracized, Anna went across a narrow corridor and knocked on my neutral door. "Why does nobody like me?" - asked she somewhat sadly as an almost innocent expression came over her face. I helped her to meet Adelaida.

Christ and the Other Men

Adelaida became Anna’s biggest friend. For several years, they shared not only her appartment, where practical Anna moved in, but poverty, adventures, clothing, sometimes men. Each time Anna didn’t want to pay, a huge fight arose, and Anna temporarily retired to her dormroom. She always came back. Anna and Adelaida made a nearly perfect match. Both ignorant, both arrogant, they could never miss an opportunity to complain about each other to someone else. Anna secretly found Adelaida vulgar and stupid, and Adelaida was obliged to consider Anna egocentric beyond belief, and very provincial under the surface. Irascible Adelaida couldn’t stand that annoying manner of Anna to fall into a trance right in the middle of a lively conversation. For instance, you could be noisily discussing rumors of the forthcoming divorce of one of your remote friends, or considering the pros and cons of the future purchase of a new bikini, when all of a sudden Anna pathetically would lift her hands to an unexpectedly morose face and, like a somnambulist, whisper to herself: "I just can’t, can’t believe that I’ll die sometime!" But what drove rowdy Adelaida mad in particular, was Anna’s insistent craving to get married. Adelaida wisely traced the origins of such an obsession. Among Russian plain folks in villages and small cities, the fact that a girl wasn’t married (with children, if possible) after she turned, say, twenty, was highly unwelcomed. And as a dog unconsciously obeys its insticts, Anna felt a vague but strong anxiety. She kept telling Adelaida she was too old. Naturally! She was already twenty. But exuberant Adelaida hated the idea. Besides, no Rett Butlers were in sight willing to marry Anna, anyway.
In the short hours of liberation from this mania, however, Anna couldn’t help noticing that the overall amount of her lovers had increased dramatically. Her coolness brought her to another extreme as "Why not?" became her main motto. With cold curiosity, Anna studied men just as a cold-nosed entomologist would study an unknown species of insect trying to figure out how to use it. As a triumph of such a scientific approach, she became the girlfriend of a despicable Azerbaijan mob underling named Ilgam - a huge, hairy, ugly and speaking-almost-no-Russian cave man. Out of pure inquisitiveness, Anna responded to the affection of a poor, heavy-drinking Yury, an Assistant Dean she would eventually be inspired to call a "loathsome impotent coward". Adelaida kept wondering what a girl like Anna needed these miserable lowlifes for. (She herself was engaged in a sultry romance with a suave middle-aged mobster, a direct supervisor of Anna’s Ilgam, who moved into the next floor apartment and was using Adelaida’s phone since he didn’t have one - Russian realities of the perestroika years!)
But even shrewd and self-confident Adelaida decided she could never again consider herself the judge of Anna’s indecipherable nature when out of the clear blue sky she found her cynical and aloof friend deep in the abyss of passion with a man she thought Anna would never look at. Anna’s die-hard heart appeared to be cracked by a tall, long-haired, blond vagabond whose striking resemblance to popular depictions of Jesus allowed her to call him simply, Christ. So Anna started taking the praises of the Lord in the fancy location of Adelaida’s apartment.
They hardly could have a coherent conversation. Christ tended to express his thoughts with obscure sounds and lethargic messiah-like gestures. He would never answer even the simpliest question directly, but would rather offer a long, mind-numbing fable instead. He played flute, has never had a job and dreamt of making an artzy film under the name Allergy of the Snowdrops. A dreadful adventure movie Highlander was this Christ’s Bible and also an inexhaustible source of inspiration for his never-ending repetitive fables.
Of course, Christ wasn’t just an average-man-with-his-own-goofiness but almost flawlessly insane. Nevertheless Anna was too spellbound to notice. She found Christ the most sophisticated intellectual she’d ever met and a genius to begin with. He was the one, and there were no others. She seemed to have ground the big fat self-serving swine in her into the dust, until his insanity began to derange her. Adelaida couldn’t believe her eyes watching Anna pursuing Christ down the street late at night only in her bathrobe and slippers with never-before-seen efficiency. Like all creative artists, Christ sometimes plunged deeply into sudden mysterious depressions. Luckily, that wasn’t the only feature that made him a part of the human race.
At one point, when Anna decided to resume her radio work, and the unemployed Christ stayed in the appartment with Adelaida, the latter found him in the process of serving lunch for the two of them. Although pleased with the attention, Adelaida didn’t fail to deliberately inform Anna of the advances Christ made towards her. That partly helped spare her of the idea of Christ’s infallibility. Moreover, Adelaida had learned somehow that mentally ill people bear excessive sexual appetites, and that (not Anna’s beauties at all) was the real reason for the oversexed Christ’s constant lust. Coming back to her senses, Anna suddenly felt generally weary of being infatuated with anybody except herself, and sensing that her love story had hit a dead end, she sent Christ to play his flute somewhere else.

Married to the Mob

As the reign of Christian terror was over, Anna went back to her roots. Fixated on the idea of getting married, she thought hard about her future. What would she do after her graduation? Go back to her godforsaken, backwater native town to live with her simple-minded folks wondering how to make ends meet, date some hillbilly gambler, party in the scruffy bars, and work at the local radiostation for the brackish, hayseed hicks? She needed to stay in the city, and marriage was the only way she knew. Not everyone was going to fit Anna’s demands, though. Never, and especially not after Christ, would she consider as marriage material someone who would simply love her. It should be a well-to-do man with the money to spare her the necessity of (hard)work, and very little free time so she could date someone else. In the early nineties, when the percentage of businessmen wasn’t that high, the only crowd which in fact could have produced someone to satisfy Anna and girls of her caliber, was ... ex-convicts. And of course, only that plentiful number of them who rejoined the mafia. She got acquainted with one, Sasha, nicknamed Greek.
He indeed was of remote Greek descent and had this long beautiful Greek surname, Georgiadi. This was about the only beauty he had. He wasn’t ugly, but out of his thirty something years, he had spent about twenty in prison. And you could most definitely read it on his face.
He was introduced to Anna’s friends at a wild party at Adelaida’s. No conceited students, including myself, paid any attention to the lonely sullen man in a brand-new dark suit silently seated in the corner. Thrown into jail at sweet eighteen, he knew nothing about this world and its inhibitants, had no other choices except rejoining the mob, and needed Anna as much as she needed him. Later that night Anna couldn’t sleep. She couldn’t believe she was about to marry a career criminal. That wasn’t something she had prepared for herself all her life. Where could she go with him? What would they talk about? What ultimately convinced Anna to marry Sasha was, in fact, his beautiful Greek surname. Anna willingly changed her plain folks’ one to Georgiadi, as they moved into the nice rented apartment right in downtown Vlad.
Greek was tightly involved in the mob’s businesses. Like all mobsters, he’d never talk about his job, but it had something to do with making people pay their debts back. Sasha ran errands for business people, leaning on their debtors, confiscating their cars/apartments to be justly distributed among the mob members, and doing other strong-arm work. Anna had never demonstrated a dedication to the thankless task of putting her racketeer hubby on the right road, so pretty soon they had an appartment of their own, not to mention several cars. The agonizing doubts that had tormented Anna the night before her marriage had dropped away, too, as having a criminal man by a vulnerable girl’s side appeared to be an all-Russian means of feminine well-being.
Adelaida never liked Greek and claimed he was a banal thief. When some things Adelaida had acquired by hard work "with her face" were stolen from her apartment, she blamed it entirely on him. Being a faithful wife, Anna took Sasha’s side which caused the longest breach in the two women’s relations.
Greek wasn’t too bad a man, if you’d shut one eye to the specifics of his profession. He cared deeply about Anna and seemed to really love her. She, in response, knew that she owed her decent livelihood to him, but couldn’t help expressing her mordant attitudes which didn’t promote his happiness. On the other hand, it wasn’t a picnic to be his wife, either. A typical carrier of the prison heritage, Greek was a junkie, and after a year or so of living with him, Anna started to lament over the impossibility of getting pregnant. He had no veins untouched, including ones on his feet and penis.
Out of necessity to somehow spend her free time and demonstrate her abundance of new dresses, Anna offered her services to one of the newly opened commercial TV stations. In its turn, the station proposed her hosting a supersilly little show called with rare elegance, Question & Answer. Armed with no special knowledge but full of aplomb, Anna proceeded to report on whatever came to her mind. The whole thing was meant to sound like she was buried under an avalanche of letters from impatient viewers who just couldn’t wait to know how to cook pasta, or who invented drapes, and how to install them. In fact, she wrote those letters herself. After deciding that she was too dazzling to dig into the stupid letters (all the more pitiful an occupation keeping in mind that they didn’t exist), Anna switched to another channel with the Autograph program. Now she was interviewing minor city celebrities - officials, newly wealthy businessmen, and the like. Gradually, she came to an understanding that somehow she was interviewing only men, using a TV camera as a well-tried remedy for getting acquainted. Thus, after a quick interview with the owner of a computer firm named Kostya, she became his long-term mistress.

Single Again

That wasn’t her first adultery. If not drugged, Greek was always sick. With no immune system, he was an easy target for various infectious diseases. Each minor wound or cut caused major problems; his bones were fragile, he was all covered in pus. He grew to be physically disgusting to his wife, who was day-dreaming of how to get rid of such a nuisance. Her coolness led him only to do more drugs. Once, Greek’s habit for drug driving drove him nowhere else but to a tremendous car wreck. He was lucky to be alive, but one of his femurs was broken to pieces. For about half a year, Sasha found his rest in the hospital.
Meanwhile, Anna’s romance with the married Kostya went full steam ahead. Russian Vulture # 3, Sveta, provided her bedroom for their dates. To cover up from his wife, Kostya sometimes brought his 9-year-old son to Sveta, too. The poor kid was being ordered to tell mom that he and daddy had been walking in the park all these hours. Kostya was something Anna had always been looking for. He was of sufficient intellectual background and had a legitimate occupation. He had money, yet wasn’t stingy. He seemed to be hooked on her and was easy to manipulate. She wanted him to divorce.
In strange contrast to her practicality, Anna had always been a controversially superstitious person, and often practiced reading dreams or telling fortunes in a teacup. She eventually set off on a series of small city voyages to see some old women who claimed to have influence on evil and even to be able to change a person's karma to a certain degree. At the end of one of such sessions, Anna was told that she was going to be separated from her husband, and the reason for that would be death.
Greek indeed felt pretty badly, but he was certainly far from death. His badly-fractured thigh-bone refused to heal. When it finally did, it turned out to have healed in a wrong configuration, and his industrious Russian doctors insisted on breaking it once again. And yet again. He was denied narcotics, all three times, since after all the drugs he had used, there were no drugs to put him to sleep. Mean and dizzy from suffering, he crippled back home, to the loving embrace of Anna, who just didn’t know how to make the prediction come true. Disappointed at the growing misunderstandings within the family, Greek - his leg in a cast - began to express his bitterness through such comical acts as pretending to awkwardly beat Anna with his crutch, firing his gun off in her direction, and expelling her from the house.
On the contrary, Kostya treated Anna the way she always wanted to be treated. He wined and dined her in exotic restaurants, bought her jewelry, helped her purchase a small RV, and even - perhaps on behalf of his company - presented her with a notebook. He forgave her everything - her naivete and sudden melancholy, bitchy outrages and worldly wisdom. Once, being somewhat annoyed, Anna poured a glass of cold water under Kostya’s shirt. He just swallowed. That’s when it became more than obvious to her that she couldn’t have dreamt of a better spouse. He was her Rett Butler, her wettest - in both meanings - dream. The only slight problem was that they couldn’t come to terms regarding their future wedding. He was probably afraid of Greek, Anna thought.
Still lame, the object of such dread agreed to accompany some businessman to a small resort town on the Black Sea to push someone towards paying his debts. Anna flew with them to have a much-needed rest. In the process of a tough conversation - no women allowed - the debtor’s goons made clear that their boss would never pay back his debt. Greek’s client decided he could shut one eye but for Sasha - a courageous man with a thug’s specific conscience - not to quit was a matter of honor. All in all, when Anna flew back home, with Greek’s corpse in a casket, it was pretty evident that fortune-tellers meant what they said.
Nobody knew exactly how it happened. Was Anna scheming a murder? Did she hire strangers to kill Greek? Did she set a trap for her beloved one so that she could marry Kostya? She acted as if she were stunned by the murder, which could have been unknowingly set up by others, and frankly, she was too lazy for a femme fatale role. Film noir wasn’t her favorite genre, which of course couldn’t be said of the schmaltzy melodrama of her life. But there could be no doubt that the whole thing suited her plans just fine.
Using their home video footage, Anna had edited a sappy tribute to Sasha to be shown at the commemorative feast. It didn’t convince Greek’s harsh friends of her tender feelings toward her departed sweetheart, though. There were heavy rumors that the bitch was cheating on poor old Greek and couldn’t wait to divorce him. As a part of their condolences, Sasha’s racketeer colleagues attempted to expropriate the poor widow’s car, rings and other dear belongings. Understanding that it’s a dog-eat-dog world, Anna approached the gang leader with a suggestion which he, naturally, couldn’t refuse. And that suggestion was ... Anna’s friend and vulture # 3, Sveta.
As the hard times passed away, Anna had found that only one part of the foretelling came to pass. Kostya, who seemed to be so yielding, still didn’t marry her. He was already happy with his position - in fact, he had two wives. But Anna was full of jealousy. First of all, she wanted that damned stamp in her passport, as her mother and grandmother had taught her. Besides, she just couldn’t accept Kostya’s silly practice where he, say, used his brand-new digital camera for shooting his "first" family, and only after that asked Anna to strike a pose.
He moved in and out of Anna’s apartment, left, then returned to his family, then left again. Anna’s existence was already no secret to Kostya’s "first" wife. She even had beaten out Anna’s car’s windows. A typical Russian woman who depended heavily on her man’s money, and not wanting to build up her own career, she needed him back, despite any possible humiliation. And he came back, but didn’t break with Anna who out of boredom started to cheat on him. And he minded it, wanting to fully control his harem. It could have continued forever, if Anna hadn’t met polygamous Kostya’s "senior" wife. Poorly dressed and lacking some teeth, the woman persuaded Anna that being married to Kostya wasn’t such a picnic after all.
As always, in moments of weakness and despair, Anna visited her good old witches. They named a concrete date when she was going to meet a man to finally marry her. It should have been one of her old acquaintances. Anna began to revive all her former relationships, including a businessman who was the last client of Sasha. Right after his unfortunate death he had promised to help with the head stone for Greek’s grave, but never did. Under the pretext of her enormous concern over the memorial, our merry widow came to see him, secretly hoping to... She is still waiting.


Vlada Super Glue

How typical are our heroines? Well, it would be a certain stretch to say that almost every good-looking young Russian woman would like to be a vulture, and make their living through pulling entrails out of men. No doubt, however, they are much more typical for Russia than women who want to live on their own. Of course, many of them have to live independently, but - in the vast majority of cases - only because they failed on the difficult vulturous road. Not every one could handle collecting about $ 25,000 cash while refreshing the supplier with streams of cold water as Alla did.
Let’s take Vlada, a close friend of all the three vultures and a girl as beautiful as all of them together. Her story repeats that of Anna with the exception that Vlada has a much nicer personality and lacks her iron grip. She had to wed a thief, who was a close collegue of Greek and - not incidentally - a drug addict. She was serenely married to him for five years, and they had a beautiful daughter, Rosina. They divorced when Vlada discovered that he was tomcatting on her with Adelaida. About the same time, she fell for one of the most famous and successful businesmen in town. Sergei enjoyed Vlada’s company for about a year. He even made her the head of the stock department in his solid joint stock firm. What Vlada could understand about stocks remained a mystery to all the employees, but they knew perfectly well why the boss called Vlada into his office once in a while.
She was given money but somehow never paid any particular attention to it nor did she save it for a rainy day. When the initial passion was gone, there was not much togetherness between the two. Sergei was married to a woman to whom he owed his present-day position, and didn’t want to change anything in his life. But Vlada is the kind of woman who remains faithful to a man even if he doesn’t want her to. She thought he would never dump her if she went on delivering the goods that no wife could ever provide. Once, she burst into his birthday party with a crowd of singing gypsies, all naked beneath her fur-coat. Perhaps for heroics like that, Vlada was presented with a leading position in Sergei’s tiny branch firm which he only needed to legalize his profits. In gratitude, she kept buzzing and showering him with gifts - all in plain sight of his many subordinates...
When the inevitable happened, and "Vlada’s" firm did collapse, her ex-beau kept paying her salary for a half a year. Each time she came to his office to pick it up, she tried to use the occasion to resurrect his hots for her. Refusing to show much deference to their boss’ rejected mistress, Sergei’s bodyguards called her Vlada Super Glue. A good excuse for such silly behavior might have been love, if Vlada wouldn’t keep claiming that she could never love a man with no money.
Their romance ended only when Sergei told her to get the hell out of his office and life. Still, she can’t resist coming and seeing him from time to time. Now this semi-vulture is at her lowest, existing on her mother’s pitiful pension.

Vulture #3, Sveta

Despite her Irish looks - the shock of red hair, the very white skin and plethora of freckles - Sveta was born in the same Far Eastern Russian town that around that same time had produced Anna. Thank God, not every one down there was as ego-driven; Sveta had no ambition, not even for getting beyond the obligatory education. One could suggest that she has no brains, either. But she sure has - sort of. Very sensible when it comes to practical matters, she has a natural feeling of inner decency that so many well-educated people seem to lack. Unfortunately, she had to free herself from most of it while processing herself into a self-made vulture.

One Happy Family

Following in her mother’s footsteps, Sveta worked as a barber until she was nineteen. At that age, she met Vladimir who became her first man, and ultimately, her husband. Before that, she fell like a ton of bricks for the older Victor, everybody’s big man in little Spassk. She dreamt of him, but the handsome "daddy" wasn’t free and, being a fanatical Russian Orthodox, he considered adultery a huge sin. Although he remained the only true love Sveta had ever known (at least, until he died at 45, supposedly of a heart attack), she resolved to stick to the ugly-looking Vova (short for Vladimir) who was eighteen years older as well, had already spent three years in prison for burglary, and so was as single as a bird in the blue sky.
He was the right choice for the one-dimensional, modest rural girl who had never wanted more from life than it could give her. The day Sveta worked at the barbershop before her engagement to Vova became the last day she worked ever after. They left their poor native town and moved to Vladivostok where Vova happened to have an apartment. He started working as a cab driver - an occupation regarded as very profitable in pre-capitalist Russia for its uncontrolled possibility of charging customers extra money, and using the car as a driver’s property.
In due course, Vova had got to know all the ins and outs in town. In those times, there was no better caterer than an ordinary nasty cabbie. Selling alcohol and drugs, and arranging hookers were among the services happily provided by Vova. There seemed to be nothing that he couldn’t get, even in a situation where there was the chronic lack of everything. What is a young woman’s most perpetual need? Even for such an unromantic one, it probably is flowers. Sveta’s home was always drowned in flowers. Vova picked them up from the pedestals of various monuments where, according to the tradition, they were laid by the newly-weds.
Sveta could not have dreamt of a better shelter. She lived the life of a plant, and loved it. Most of the time she stayed at home; housekeeping and cooking were about the only forms of human activity in which she was really sophisticated.
Needless to say, through his hell-of-the-job, Vova met an enormous amount of people. Once, he drove home two gangster-types. Seated on the backseat, they talked drugs and thefts. As it became clear from the conversation, one of them had just stolen a car for his wife. That was Vlada’s husband, Vladimir. His buddy was Anna’s significant other, Greek. Vova’s ability to keep the tough talk flowing impressed the crooks. The man clearly knew the score. The troika had quite a bit in common - all ex-convicts, all thieves, all junkies, all had younger wives. At last, Vova got a new job without giving up the good old one and became Greek’s and Vladimir’s ‘official’ driver. In her turn, Sveta had grown to be Anna’s and Vlada’s friend.

My Fair Vulture

At first, she wasn’t accepted by the canonical vultures. For the sceptical Anna, she was just a big red-haired hillbilly zilch on whom she could count for a complimentary hairdo. During these style sessions, Anna had been initiating Sveta into the rules a modern urban girl should play by, and influenced her deeply.
Doing good is ridiculous. Live for yourself. Never return a favor. Use people. Never commit. Anna supported this miasma theory with solid evidence she gained by hurting Sveta’s best feelings. A quick study, Sveta began to mimic her teacher to the degree of even using her quirks - her histrionic manners, to name just one. From that time on, each hairdo required much persuasion, if not a little fight. Now Sveta could be taken to an embassy ball in a carriage, as it happened to Ms. Doolittle.
She was indeed taken - to a discotheque, by her inevitable first lover, the Georgian grifter Merab, in a just stolen car with no number-plate. The ride was unsuccessful: Merab didn’t pull over as the traffic police wanted him to, and the car was mercilessly shot like in classical gangster movies.
With the imprisonment of her red-hot lover, Sveta returned to her quiet family life. Besides her borsch cooking, yet another of Sveta’s talents was chatting with friends. One of the basic ones was her closest neighbor, the witty and charming 60-year-old pensioner Albina Semionovna. She provided her with two much-needed things: wordly wisdom and a telephone, which Sveta - like many other Russians - didn’t have in her flat. Albina Semionovna became Sveta’s Professor Higgins # 2. Her outstanding pedagogical abilities were surely worthy of respect. Her adopted teen daughter worked as a prostitute and stole things from her mother. Albina told Sveta that she was seriously worried that her sweet little daughter might kill her when she found out the sad fact that she wasn’t her real mother - just to simplify their relationships.
In between such dramatic discussions, the girls indulged in some lighter sports. Unlike Sveta, Albina Semionovna loved to read. From one of her sources, she learned that for the purpose of giving breasts their essential shapes, the top models usually resort to clear packing tape. Albina was anxious to check out if it worked, and suggested Sveta to try it on her. Why should she mind? After long hours of examination, they both finally reached the verdict - very flattering for the packing tape.

One Happy Family (continued)

Disaster caught Sveta unaware. Her unclouded family life had suddenly deteriorated. Under the influence of Greek & Co., Vova’s addiction to drugs had no chance of decreasing. Wise enough, Sveta let no one do drugs at home; by that time she was already the happy mother of their daughter, Nastya. Albina Semionovna helped with advice.
Vova had no trouble finding another place for his innocent hobby. Red-eyed and almost unconscious, he came home sometimes - only to beat his head on the wall and mumble something incomprehensively. Sveta put him in treatment, but even there he managed to flee to buy drugs, then returned to the treatment center. Once, Sveta and little Nastya found him, exquisitely drugged up and seated on the floor of the center’s porch, lethargically knocking on the closed doors with a mop. He was late after his free-lance injection. Vova begged the doctors inside to please let him in, otherwise, he claimed, his wife would kill him. He wasn’t too far from the truth. Sveta greeted him with loud swearing, her hands on her sides. Vova stopped crying, and greeted the little girl without recognizing her. He started searching for something in his pants’ pockets and finally gave her what he thought was money, but in fact was candy wrappers. He told her to go and buy anything she liked. Paying no attention to this extreme kindness of his, Sveta began to beat him, with more swearing. The closed doors of the medical institution never opened for Vova: he was never accepted there again.
He wasn’t particularly disappointed about that, though. To get money for drugs, he resumed his criminal activities. His last nasty deed was undressing somebody in the underground pedestrian passage. After that hard working day, he came home and, senseless, fell on the kitchen floor. Entered Sveta, smelling that something was wrong. Because of Vova’s irresponsible attitude, her precious electrical kettle had been dry for a long time, and now was hopelessly blown. Sveta started to angrily hurl abuse at Vova. This she did to a fault. Her vegetable husband was suddenly up on his feet, with the unexpected yet obvious intention to kick her around real hard. For some reason, today’s dose made him unpleasantly violent. The tremendous fight swept the pair out of their flat, down to the hall. Having heard loud bawling, the sleepy neighbors were aroused. The bizarre scene appeared before their blinking eyes. Drugged up Vova, wearing nothing except his boxer shorts, was frantically beating his wife’s head on the elevator’s door. By their combined efforts, the neighbors arranged to break up the loving embraces of the couple. Groggy and uncomprehending, Sveta staggered to her feet spitting her teeth away. Vova was propped against the wall and panting from the exertion. In a unique course of revenge, Sveta managed to reach him, and impulsively pulled his boxers down to award her saviors with an unforgettable view.


Sveta’s fondness of her tea kettle cost her altogether twelve teeth. Sveta’s broken teeth cost Vova his freedom.
One of her friends worked for the police. Even before the abuse extravaganza occured, Sveta wondered if it were at all possible to put Vova behind bars for possessing controlled substances. If that plan had succeeded, she would still have had her mouth full of teeth. The way things went, though, her big plan came to its realization with her jaws heavily injured. The punishment for Vova needed to be harsher, as well. He was incarcerated for his underground assault and sentenced to four years in prison.
Sveta wept and mourned for a while - not for her poor stray husband but for the lost paradise of her convenient, fully arranged life, let alone one dozen none-too-extra teeth. In accordance with all existing theories of survival, she would have to inevitably give up her inactive life and restore her work as a barber to support herself and Nastya. Sveta, however, was unaware of theories, and therefore stayed at home. She said that the prickly hair of Koreans to whom she used to give haircuts, sunk deep into her big breasts, causing her lots of trouble. She did some free-lance hairstyling, however, earning about 200 thousand rubles which was slightly more than $30 a month. Sveta didn’t complain. She had installed cheap dental plates which she hoped to replace with luxurous ceramic ones some time later. The rest of the money she needed for her Hollywood smile she hoped to get through her men.
For the first years of her singleness she wasn’t particularly happy with men, though. She had to experience the sheer quantity of men so she could select the ones with the best quality, but the chances of meeting men were always limited. About the only place for her to make acquantences was in bars. She never missed an opportunity to meet somebody, having had a strong sense that at any time she could have met the Man of Her Destiny. Most of the time, though, she would end up with regular bastards.
Another source for delivering men right to Sveta’s bedroom were her faithful, much-concerned friends. Through Vlada she met Dmitry, a short belly-packed man working as Vlada’s supervisor in her lover’s firm. They dated for about a year, and Sveta was silly enough to keep hoping about getting her jaws fixed with the married Dmitry’s help. When her hopes were irretrievably dashed, Sveta grew to charge him $40 per visit. It spared him having to play the role of a solicitous lover, and from that time on he would just shamelessly use and humiliate this woman.
Some men indulge in intrigues and gossips with almost the women’s skill. Dmitry’s friend Timofei got wind of Sveta’s captivating charms and wanted to check them out himself. Sveta refused, afraid that Dmitry would stop visiting and paying. Seeking revenge, the rejected Timofei maliciously asked Dmitry what did he need this aging woman for. "You know, I like antiquities," 30-year-old Dmitry mumbled, having forgotten that Sveta was exactly his age. "I guess, you need to change your furniture really bad," Timofei said. After some thinking, Dmitry agreed.

Sleeping with Boredom

It undermined Sveta’s prosperity but not too much. She would never focus on one man to the point of letting it break her heart when she lost him. She just kept floating from one to the next in her leisurely pursuit of her solvent Mr. Right.
She led a boring, meaningless life. Unemployed and refusing to work, lonely but sluggish to find her match, she would watch TV all day long, cook if she had the money to buy the ingredients, or just blather with friends. Since she had not much to discuss, she focused mostly on her sex life. Sveta’s friends were so fed up with all the details of her organism that they felt as if they had almost been there with their own candles lit up. The most sensitive spot in Sveta’s entire physique, which required thorough coverage, was her clit. She refered to it as if it weren’t part of her and had consciousness of its own. She could talk about it for hours, whether it of any interest to the listeners, or not.
Sveta had a friend who - strangely enough for a Russian girl - was running an advertizing agency. Lena needed Sveta to divert her attention from her numerous business problems, while Sveta needed Lena to broaden her ideas on what was going on outside her flat. Lena would come to Sveta’s place almost every day right after work, bringing some food and drinks. Making a joke of such regularity, Sveta called her "my husband". On weekends her "husband" would take her to some bar or a discotheque. And then Sveta’s "working" week would start all over again.
Being married, her business friend Lena would sometimes use ever ready Sveta, taking her to her male clients - to divert their lusty attention to a less attractive, yet far more willing red-haired babe. Once, Sveta heroically sacrificed herself to an extremely talkative and kinky flour distributor named Alexander. As a result, Sveta’s friend got herself a new client. As to Sveta, she got nothing: he didn’t like her. She didn’t like him, as well, but that didn’t matter. On another occasion, Sveta was acquanted with an Australian PR manager who just couldn’t wait to have sex with a Russian woman. The whole business of Sveta’s best friend depended on the accomplishment of this noble desire, and Sveta was more than ready to oblige. She was proud of having her first international affair, too.
Anna pimped her with Zhulavsky, a middle-aged king of the local mob, notorious for his perverse relations with women. His classic behaviour involved surrounding his victims with excessive attention as the first steps to romance, letting them feel like queens, buying them whatever they wanted - from gloves and panties to fur coats and jewelry - and then... throwing them out of his house late at night, naked in the middle of January. Zhulavsky seemed to have the hots for Sveta; he told her he knew some dentist who was in his debt for the rest of his life, in fact promising her new teeth. Sveta, of course, wasn’t able to resist.

The End of Trouble

Scared, she went to Zhulavsky to let the unevitable happen but he never touched her. He took her to the doctor, and left her there - for the much-desired tooth session. When Sveta’s twelfth tooth was done, and Sveta was checking her newly-found smile with the mirror, she was approached by the dentist debtor and given a bill of four million rubles. Crying, Sveta called Zhulavsky but he was out of town, supposedly hiding from another gang (or just Sveta). Finally, she had to give up her own two million stored for a rainy day, and borrow the money from her parents and friends.
Sveta went through a Georgian Merab, a Kazakh Takhir, not to mention Russians including - among others - an owner of an autosalon named Sergei, and Igor, the businessman - to finally settle down with a Moldavian named ... Vova. To increase the similarity with her former husband, he was an ex-con... What made him especially appealing to Sveta was that, unlike all her previous men, he was single, that is divorced.
Nothing is predictable in Russia. Here you never know whether it is going to rain or shine. Sveta met her new Vova at just the right time. In the fall of 1998 all of Russia was collapsing in an unbelievable financial crisis. A barely noticeable Russian middle class suffered the most. Bankers and managers were losing their jobs and means for surviving, as the ruble fell to the lowest rate ever imaginable. In a strange irony of fate, Sveta who chose to be indigent when her friends were thriving, suddenly was able to start laughing in the face of other people’s difficulties, as the gangsters seemed not to have any difficulties at all. She even took her business friend Lena, now unemployed, to bars several times.
With brute, narrow-eyed Vova she was having the time of her life: plenty of food, restaurant outing, and more importantly, a reliable man at home. Only two thing disturbed her pure nirvana: she wasn’t given enough money for clothing, and Vova was ... no, not a drug addict, only an alcoholic. Sveta couldn’t express her disagreements to Vova. When he wasn’t satisfied with anything, he would just say "If you can’t handle it, we should part forever." Sveta didn’t want to part with such a man, so she learned to simulate her orgasms, to drag him out of a drunken coma, to forget most of her former friends... She even pretended she was concerned with his desire to have a baby.

Hatch Out!

Sveta was a bad mother, even to a child that had already been born. She even admitted it herself. This wasn’t an ordinary child neglect case, though. Nastya wasn’t neglected. She had her separate clean room with some toys in it. She was never hungry. When not at school, she was being sent to Sveta’s parents to play in the natural landscape. Using her meager means, Sveta did what she could to dress Nastya. She just didn’t love her daughter. Who can make a person love another?
It was indeed hard to love the perky, mischievous kid with filthy manners; but whose genes ruled her behavior? Sveta understood everything and hated the thin, deer-eyed girl.
Mothering was just another animalistic instinct for Sveta, the strongest one after the instinct of surviving. She became really worried when Nastya got lost playing in the yard. When she found her, she would savagely beat her, yell at her, furiously calling the seven-year-old girl a whore... Friends warned Sveta that in another country the child would have been taken from her a long time ago. Sveta answered she couldn’t help it. She hated her, and worried about her. It was hard to say why she did yell at Nastya - because she hated her or because she was afraid to lose her.
Welcome to the world of vultures, little one!
The angels are weeping.