‘A Higher Form of Necrophilia’ (translated by Slava Faybysh)
Ivan and his babushka sat down in a dusty, half-deserted bus. It smelled of exhaust fumes and singed pigskin. Ivan and his babushka were lucky: they had a whole seat to themselves, where some rust-blond foam padding was making its way out of a hole. Ivan was tearing at the foam and putting bitter little pieces in his mouth. Babushka was looking out through the scratched-up window remembering her youth. They were headed to the last stop, which was called “Brick Factory.” Until then, it was traffic jams, red lights, road rage and hundreds of people who weren’t wishing you well.
Just beyond the gloomy factory (which looked like a medieval fort) there was a graveyard. Whenever babushka walked past the concrete pipes and inhaled the scent of burning pitch, she always had the exact same question: “How can anyone work like this?” She had spent her whole life working with biological materials behind closed doors at the state research institute.
Well Ivan was thinking about how he didn’t feel like visiting his dedushka since he could no longer whittle him a pistol and a walkie-talkie out of wood scraps, which the repairmen would leave lying about the driveway after a visit. Ivan didn’t like Chinese pistols in colorful packaging because all the kids had those. The boy just knew that more secret knowledge was within his grasp, so he wanted absolutely nothing in common with anyone else. Babushka did not support this tendency of his, and periodically she told Ivan he was egotistical. The boy didn’t quite know what that word meant, but just in case, he would get angry and try to appear as unhappy as possible.