Another exit from the highway – and we were at the place. The small cheburechnaya had no parking lot so Rita left her car along the young cypress row where a few vehicles were already parked. The grill house itself was barely visible behind the trees, but you could definitely tell it was there by the smell of open fire food. The crazy chirping of cicadas that occupied nearby juniper bushes filled the air. The hot waves flowed down from the white cliffs into the blazing azure sea. I pictured a pile of chebureki on a white plate, a bowl of ayran with a minuscule minced fennel and a cup of a hot Turkish coffee in a brass holder.
“Here we are… Well, who says you’ll really have to pay the money? The same thing with the house… it will not be you who buys it. Kolya Bukin – he will buy it.”
“And who is this dignified person?”
“A businessman. Deputat. A crook, to put it simply.”
Tucking away chebureki, I got a grasp of the situation. Rita’s grandfather lived almost on the seashore in an old house with a view of the Karantinnaya bay and the golden cupola of the orthodox Sobor at the Chersonese cape. In reality, there was little time left for him to admire the landscape: some the deputy, Bukin, got a residential allotment for construction on the adjacent plot. Rita’s old man was offered a choice: to take money for his house and yard, where the deputy planned to build a swimming pool, or to find himself living in a stone pit surrounded by the five meter high walls of the Bukin estate…
In the meantime, the excavator at the construction site had pulled out a stone plate, which, it seemed, covered the entrance to an underground shrine of the ancient Chersonese sites. The shrine itself with all its priceless artifacts was situated on the land that still belonged to old man. UNESCO developed an interest in these findings and held out the prospect of further excavations on this very promising historical ground…
“Is it real interest… Are they serious?” I asked.
We were returning to the city on the same road and at the same speed.
“Yes, they are!” exclaimed Rita, thumping her hands on the wheel. “For sure they are interested! Igor, have you still not understood the whole thing? UNESCO – it’s you! And you are interested, aren’t you?”
“But of course!” I answered, immediately pleased to notice the transition from the formal Igor Pavlovich to Igor. “And even very much so. And you, will you please watch the road? Don’t forget that you’re driving none other than a UNESCO emissary in person! By the way, why me? No one here to pass as an American? Nobody knows English?”
“If you think Sevastopol is a big town, you are mistaken. It’s not. Some local connoisseur of English quite possible may be among Bukin’s acquaintances. Or a friend of his friends. Or just a face seen somewhere or other. But you – you are quite a different story. An outsider, unknown to anyone, a real alien.
“Thank you very much for the alien,” I grumbled. “If I recall correctly, just a few hours ago my position was considered to be a candidate for prospective husband.
The next morning Rita and I met at the object, in terms of construction foremen. Judging by the basement groundwork, the people’s representative was indeed inclined to erect a real khoromy.1 I pulled out my camera and began taking shots of the construction work, Alexander Ivanonvich’s house, the sea, Sobor and Bukin’s laborers. At the same time, I made a busy face, showering Rita with questions, all in English, of course. At least, this was my idea of how an American professor would behave. Sort of Indiana Jones light. My arrival apparently made the foreman anxious.
As for Rita and I, we went down to the underground shrine through a rather wide breach in the foundation trench wall. Rita switched on her lamp so I could take some shots of the ancient frescos. When we reappeared on the surface I saw a huge Toyota Land Cruiser nearby; some stocky man was getting out of it. Seeing Rita and I, he quickly headed towards us already flashing a happy smile. When he reached us, I saw that he was one of that well-padded breed, with a diamond pin in his necktie, not to mention a watch in massive gold and three signet rings on the thick fingers.
“Hi, Rita! Zdorovo,” – he turned to me and offered his hand. “I’m Bukin, Nikolay Ivanovich, a deputy of the Sevastopol city council.”
“Hello, how are you?” I answered, trying to be as reserved as I could.
Still smiling Bukin, measured me with his eyes and spoke to Rita:
“Your boyfriend? Amerikanietz?”
She shook her head:
“No, and yes, an American. Professor from Texas University. UNESCO representative, if you want to know. Came to see the underground findings. Quite possibly, they will want to build a memorial site here. Tourists, and all that.”
“Well, well… tourists!” – Bukin clicked his tongue thoughtfully. “Money laundering, that’s what it is called, my dear Rita. Don’t I know them inside out, those Americans? Isn’t he a bit too young to be a professor?”
Rita shrugged her shoulders.
“Usual thing there. You reach thirty – and you’re already a professor. Another system, that’s what they have there.”
“System… I understand,” he said thoughtfully, then cheered up again. “Well, good luck, my dear neighbors! See you soon!”
He waved his plump palm and went back to the black SUV. With a bang, the car shot off and disappeared from view.
“Where’s he going?” I quietly asked Rita, this time in Russian.
“We’ll know soon enough. As for us, let’s stop by my granddad’s house and have some coffee. Granddad too must be back soon. He went to the city on business, but is eager to meet you.
(to be continued …)
In the Middle – An International Transposition (Fiction)
Introduction to In the Middle – An International Transposition, edited by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey
January: Forgetting – Turkey, by Seyit Ali Dastan
February: The Unreal in Real – Armenia, by Armine Asryan
March: Catching Water – Argentina, by Javier Gómez
April: Unwanted – South Africa, by Toni Wallis
May: House with a Stucco Ship – Ukraine, by Gennady Bondarenko
June: A Girl Pedaling up the Road of Life – Cuba, by Marilin Guerrero Casas
July: The Last Day – Poland, by Pawel Awdejuk
August: Through my Hands – Venezuela, by Veronica Cordido
September: Amelia’s Euphemism – Spain, by Jonay Quintero Hernández
October: Until Love Do Us Part – Uruguay, by Alejandra Baccino
November: A Journey to the Edge – Lebanon, by Rayan Harake
December: I Used to Smoke – Russia, by Kate Korneeva
Background – Context
Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)
La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)
The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)
L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)
From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)
More work by Gennady Bondarenko
What You Sow Does Not Come To Life Unless It Dies – Gennady Bondarenko (transposing emblem)
Twenty Plus Years – Gennady Bondarenko (transposing emblem)
Hybrid War – Gennady Bondarenko (transposing emblem)
Emblems and stories on the international community
Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from around the world
Cover photo: Sevastopol, Crimea – Chersonese lighthouse – Roden Wilmar (Shutterstock)
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed