away

So these four assholes set out from Moscow in a car,
and if you had known them, you could have easily guessed
what was happening all the four hundred miles up to Leningrad:
beer and vodka galore, chain-smoking, prattling about girls, bars,
black market endeavors, Leningrad rock groups,
lengthy, almost verbatim citations of The Day of the Locust,
endless New Wave music on the cassette player –
Yazoo, Ultravox, The Police, Nina Hagen, Adam and the Ants,
David Bowie, Roxy Music, ABC, The Stranglers, Duran Duran,
Talking Heads, The Pretenders, The Boomtown Rats, Kate Bush,
King Crimson, Dire Straits, Blondie, Soft Cell, The Jam, Sparks, –
what else? Of course, pissing, shitting and puking by the roadside
while paying little attention to the passing cars. Sometimes
they cried into the drizzling void, “Long live the CPSU!
All hail the Communist Party!” – which apparently seemed to them
like a very funny thing to cry out, but, in fact,
it was the least adequate slogan in that place that year,
considering all the old farts from the Politburo who didn’t
give a fuck about all the wretched half-animals working in the factories
and collective farms and the hapless half-vegetables from the colleges
and universities. The very inappropriateness of it made our guys
laugh like madmen surrounded by dripping forests and muddy fields
with occasional agricultural structures here and there which looked
as if they had sprung from the dark ages somewhere on another planet,
and tractors that moved like dying monsters (I mean,
if they were able to move at all) in the ubiquity of the communist reality.
Everything was useless, and everyone devoid of a cynical attitude
was doomed to die like these tractors. But the guys were brimming
with cynicism and reached the outskirts of Leningrad
in a relatively positive mood. There was a rock festival awaiting them
with all its girls, bars and carousing with the musicians; they just
couldn’t think of anything better at the moment.
But when they stopped at a gas station, D. suddenly
got out of the car and walked away. They thought at first
that he was going to take a leak behind the station,
but he didn’t return, although they had waited for half an hour
and even looked around for a few minutes. He just disappeared,
and they hadn’t seen him anywhere close to the festival stage.
Next time one of them met him was a couple of years later,
and there wasn’t any explanation given or asked for,
as if it was a taboo to talk about disappearances of any kind.

P.S. As for now, D. lives in Fort Collins, CO. He is happily married,
owns a gas station, listens to extremely mawkish pop music
(I mean, in case he listens to anything at all),
and gets drunk once in a month. Having woken up with a hangover,
he calls himself Gregor Samsa.