Around the mid-1980s USSR, Leningrad (today Saint Petersburg). Palace Square. ‘The Red Dreamers’… Ultimate Happiness in the Bright Future.
YOUR HAPPY TRIP WITH US! – A catchy to the eyes motto merrily splashed with orange sunshine letters across the sides of a large American tour bus. The garish background behind the motto was all covered in true colors of the US banner – so dazzlingly ‘star-spangled and striped’ the way it appeared. Under the blue sky, the bright Western vehicle was proudly skimming across the Palace Square towards the parking area which lay near the grand Winter Palace ensemble. Faces of the tourists inside the bus looked impressed, eyeing the sights out of the tinted windows.
The architectural ensemble worked out in baroque and classic styles houses the world’s celebrated museum, commonly known as the Hermitage. This brilliant repository is rife with big-name painters’ masterpieces represented by art schools, as well as perfect sculptures, amazing ancient relics and artifacts, gold and jewelry. The vast riches on display draw daily the multitudes of both local and foreign visitors to the museum – international admirers, eager to behold the ravishing opulence of the fabulous exhibits
However, the truth of the history (which many passengers of the American bus knew well enough) was that prior to being forced into such a splendiferous ‘museum for the people’, some years after the Victory of the Revolution in 1917, Winter Palace had been the official capital residence of the Russian Tsars and Tsarinas.
From those successors, the last Emperor named Nicholas II -- so much to his fatal doom and baleful destiny -- bore the label: Oppressor and Depriver Number One. The Square spanning before the Palace had to play the historic role of an ultimate symbolic battlefield, where began the dramatic events that were to plague this country throughout its turbulent history across the 20th century.
When like a volcano the Great October Insurrection erupted in the year 1917, legend holds, the mobs of “oppressed and deprived masses” – as often referred to at the time – burst out running amok across this very square to seize the Winter Palace.
The masses were armed and dangerous in their fury, doped by a contrived belief in winning something immensely sweeter for the day and, as they wished, forever. Those people were convinced they could enter an ideal man-made paradise on the Earth, simply by breaking into the malicious strongholds of the absolute and fundamental evil. They saw that evil embodied in the oppressors and tyrants who had always sought to feed their insatiable greed for capital and valuable assets, and quench their thirst by blood sucking the People.
It was on that thrilling and exciting moment when such ‘messianic’ obsession, began to take an 80-year compulsive grip of the whole nation – sacrificing them all at once on the altar of such dangerously wishful thinking.
Yet, in 1917, unwitting and unaware, the Russians just ran blindfold toward the future. No wonder, a bunch of shrewd and ruthless revolutionary heads had told the people, the Future should come on as absolutely “Glorious” and “Bright” for everyone here!. Fueled by those contagious ideas and unholy abetments, the false teachers had successfully implanted into their minds, the people plunged headlong fighting and dying for the Greatest Experimental Dream the Humanity had ever seen, to come victoriously true. The people were indoctrinated by their agitators to believe it was necessary to demolish any possible bastions of “malignant capitalism”, eradicate all its inherent culture in order to build up an ideal and completely New World. The truly Glorious One! The One, which was supposed to start spreading the infectious Dream on the Global scale – across the borders and nations, smashing down everyone and everything in the way that might have hindered the would-be invincible onslaught of the Big-Way-Dreamers.
The future was to demonstrate the Dreamers would indeed succeed in taking the power over one-sixth of the Planet Terra Incognita. They also succeeded in having blown their igniting message well around the Globe. But they did fail to conquer the whole World!
Then, in 1917, those Dreamers captured Russian Tsar Nicholas II and his big Imperial family with their most confidant servants. They didn’t actually hold Their Majesties and their loyal people captives for very long. One year later, they all were treacherously massacred – shot down and stabbed with bayonets multiple times – executed on secret order without any trial or justice, bloodily with no pity and remorse.
Trying to obliterate all traces and evidence of the brutal carnage, the executioners and their assistants cut the dead bodies in pieces, burnt the corpses using benzene and poured sulfuric acid over the remains to facilitate the obliteration process – secretly in the wood somewhere outside the town of Yekaterinburg. The ash of the Royal Family was properly scattered around the area and dumped into an abandoned mine-shaft. After that murderous and bloody deed they had committed they had forever established themselves as the Red Dreamers. This is what came to signify the Glorious Start!
Obviously, as the triumph of the victory made the Red Dreamers feel high and pretty elated to envisage, they could clearly fathom the right way of running and navigating this giant ship, called Russia, vastly sprawling from the Baltic to the Sea of Japan. The Red Dreamers also believed they understood the way it would fit best in exercising the great power they had miraculously usurped. So, being agog and full of ‘good intentions’ the Red Dreamers began to rule their experimental household…
* * * *
That moment, barely could the passengers of the American tour bus realize that all the time since their bright coach had emerged in the sight of Palace Square it had been fixedly watched by the two pairs of acute sharp eyes of two youngsters, aged thirteen or fourteen. With their backs casually leaned upon the cast railing stood the kids at the Moika-river embankment, a short distance away from the parking space…
It was right behind the varicolored rows of international buses where stretched a grey expanse of the stone pavement in the notorious Square that the kids faced. In the very center of the area, a lonely red-granite Alexander Column stuck up high into the blue sky with bronze Archangel on its top, embracing a massive Cross in his arm.
On the left, a stately General Staff Building gracefully lined the Square making a half-circle opposite the Hermitage. The two large sweeping wings of the building were joined in the center by the imposing arch. It was crowned by a large sculpture of bronze horses and a chariot with the Goddess of Victory as its rider.
A tremendous billboard was attached to the eastern end covering a good part of its side wall. It depicted three gigantic human heads in a half-profile against a blood-red background. All heads were bearded, but quite in different ways. The very first head was bald, with a smoothly pointed little beard and a thick moustache in the shape of a broad mushroom cap. By contrast, both beard and hair of the next one looked rather shaggy and unshorn somewhat like a lion mane. While, the third head wore a spade beard the longest among the three.
“The Great Trio Leads Us to the Happy Bright Future”– it proclaimed from the billboard. Indeed, there felt something infinitely infusing, something vivid and intensely optimistic about the faces of those three bearded elders in the red billboard.
The two teenage spotters on the embankment were clothed in the neat dark-blue school uniform – straight trousers, dapper jackets over white shirts with those scarlet red ties round their necks. The red ties indicated the membership to ‘The Pioneers’ – the youth division of the Soviet Communist Party. In general, the boys looked quite regular and casual like thousands other red-tie Soviet schoolchildren at their age.
It was actually on strictly obligatory basis nationwide for all kids of ten to be initiated on what was declared to be a very happy day in their life, to the cohorts of Pioneers. On that memorable day after the initiation words of allegiance to the Communist Party were sworn, a Soviet kid got solemnly bound up with a scarlet red silk and pinned over the uniform jacket with a metal badge which portrayed the bald head of the bearded man from the billboard on the wall. In the badge the head was burning in the blazing flame against the five-pointed field of the red star. A call below imperatively warned ‘BE READY!’ The learned reply had to follow as “ALWAYS READY!”, even though it wasn’t clear for what!
All pupils at school knew for sure the story told by the grown-ups – the embalmed body of the bearded man from the badges and street billboards, had been on public display since 1924. His dead body rested in the polished to the glinting shine marble and granite mausoleum. That sacred tomb-shrine with honor guard at the gate was built in Moscow, the capital of this state.
Thousands of the devoted Soviet folks were daily lining up the mausoleum for long hours only to take a little glimpse of the mummified Body. A whole well-funded scientific institute was staffed of chemistry wizards and adroit artists who were responsible for maintaining the Sacred Body nice and attractive. So, their duty was patching and vamping the Body at nights to keep it ready for a display in the day time.
But it didn’t necessarily mean that any of your average schooler could instantly get happy to the bones in the required way after having to pledge the allegiance to the weird dream-machine called the USSR – the state on the planet Earth symbolized and ritually incarnated in the dead embalmed body on the Red Square. Even in a fully totalitarian country some teenagers can be really a difficult case for the adult ideologists to brainwash smoothly.
However, those millions of school boys and girls were certainly expected to stay happy right on any consecutive day, according to the universal Soviet concept of ‘Happy Dreams of the Happy Bright Future’ or ‘Ha-Dre-Ha-Bri-Fu’, as that term was often habitually abridged on the radio and TV or during mass school events. Those “ha-dre-ha-bri-fu” messages aimed to sound like a sorcerous incantation for the Soviet youth to repeat. The primary idea of the concept was that once you keep on dreaming about something as incredibly radiant as the Bright Future, adding to that a daily exercise of the ‘Ha-Dre-Ha-Bri-Fu’ chanting, you couldn’t but feel happiness already at the process of dreaming.
To add kool aid, Happy Bright Future was vigorously promised and routinely praised from TV screens, day in and day out. The Happy Bright Future grinned with the mask-stiff happy faces of people from the pictures in schoolbooks – the happy face masks looking to the tomorrow… The Bright Future was enthusiastically prayed for and exalted by the communist teachers again and again: in history classes and political lectures, on public stages of any kind. Their compulsive, idiosyncratic oratory echoed around, reverberated in the numerous calls and slogans which roared at you from countless giant red billboard-screens.
Eclipsing the sun in the sky, the billboards grotesquely lined up on the tops of the infinite roofs spelling out messages like: “Live Thy Happy Dream Forever!” or “The People is One Happy Body with the Party”, “Thou Work for Our Common Happiness Together!” or “Labor is a Happy Lot!” or “May Thy Labor be Glorious!” A populace couldn’t but make a very serious sense out of those mottos.
The screeching intensity of the authentic Soviet reality was still crushing down everywhere in its full-blown totalitarian unison. The Soviet reality was shrieking and yelling with all those thousands of chorus voices. The brain-wrenching hubbub of mass-ideology voices – they didn’t for a moment stop desperately exhorting their wisdom onto every trembling Soviet human being, every born soul who happened to be living in the USSR at that turning point in the World’s history.
Still, the tricky thing wasthat with the right kind of senses something subtle in the air could be realized blowing up the wind of the Real Future, ‘cold turkey’ – the one that all were intrinsically facing and inevitably shifting to. Very soon, the Real Future should put all Soviet citizens on the conceptually new run – the run towards something they were not even able to figure or see any omen about at the time.
A unique truth of the moment was that Very Soon the Red Theater was in its very deed to start disbanding itself to the mercy of the Global reality – the Reality down the stage of the aloof mummery. The pompous scenery that had been featuring for the whole World the Great Historic Sham of the Happiness for so long were soon in truth about to commence tumbling down and disintegrating forever.
Anyway, at the time the grass-root people still seemed to be a lot driven by the imperative force of the artificially planted, virtually encoded into their minds and souls behavioral habit of going on with the old totalitarian flow. As though nothing at all was manifesting the beginning of the end to the season of numb tranquility inside the shells of the inherited and historically sanctioned Universal Fear.
The same Fear was ever yet forbidding the majority of the Soviet people to dare take not even a surreptitious kind of an outlook at something whatever it might be beyond an actual lifetime schedule predetermined for them by the Red Apostles of the Sacred Dead Body. For that matter, those millions still remained shackled in their old mental bondage of living their lives by that nonchalant irresponsibility of the ‘happy Soviet souls’ inhabiting the Soviet Zone.
It was those millions who kept on languishing in schizophrenic obscurity of their true human ID throughout the long decades of Terror and Self-sacrifice! The millions kept on passing their age away – perpetually down the blissful pipeline of their cheated ignorance – straight way into the oblivion of time…
Notwithstanding the apparent personality damage, but that mode of existence had long been strictly deemed the only right one. No wonder, to the date the mass accepted ideology had successfully maintained and fostered a mythic and legendary awareness that every individual’s responsibility for his or her life had always been totally secured for – taken straight into the glass-encased sarcophagus by the Sacred Body inside the Mausoleum on the Red Square in Moscow.
All in all, the population was energetically encouraged to feel just fine; encouraged to keep on keeping irresponsibly happy until the rest of their earthly lives – the Sacred Body redeemed them from feeling nothing but happiness!
Whatever else was left about, since the Body had eased the people from the necessity to be somehow concerned of anything beyond the scope of their happy duties to the Communist Party?
Every day the tributes to the wonderful fact of everyone being happy were officiously churned out by the Red Apostles of the Body. The Total Soviet Happiness and the Happy Bright Future was what the red demagogues inspirationally preached and asserted through the fervent and cunningly persuasive speeches they took to their Communist Party conventions, rallies or ceremonial events. All pompous actions of the kind were continuously broadcasted at prime-time on mainly black-and-white TV screens to the happy Soviet viewers.
So, one might have even said those average Soviet mortals largely residing between the walls of their cost-free-same-square-meter-per-happy-capita block apartments, were held very much reassured about the right patterns of thinking to meet and the ‘Bright Direction’ to be headed for…
Coincidentally or not, historically relevant or not, two of the youngest recipients of the ‘Ultimate Happiness in the Bright Future’ found themselves now with a chance to be just there at the cast railing on the Moyka-river embankment near Palace Square. Fully absorbed by the scene of the bright American bus they had been surveying, the boys clearly appeared to be anticipating something very enticing to happen. Their quite animated fashion of behavior indicated a certain influx of very hot expectations flooding up the teenagers in the crucible of the moment.
They would strike some brief remarks to one another. Those were followed by their mutually approving nods of affirmation as well as impulsive gesticulations by which the kids would also support their conversation of apparently substantial gravity for them. All overt excitements combined and the canny twinkles in their eyes would reveal the kids were certainly up to something extraordinary…
“Hey, mister, hey, madam! We have stuff for you” …The bids are rising for the lot… “Good People – Good Business …Ambient things have influence – the effects are not necessarily predictable.
With confident accuracy, the coach driver steered the wheel. Flaring with bright flashes of his steel-rimmed mirror Ray Ban glasses, he smoothly put the powerful vehicle for the free space in a row with other foreign buses previously arriving at the Palace Square. Very soon, it became still with the engine stalled. The disembarking of a new group of American tourists was just about under way. Here the two kids at the railing jumped over the curb and resolutely pushed on towards the bus.
As the youngsters were approaching the parking lot, they simultaneously took their backpacks off and yanked the zippers open. Then, each began quickly rummaging around his own sack for something important what must have been stored down in there. Hurrying up their pace the boys had reached the entrance of the tour bus exactly by the moment when - with a mild hiss - the pneumatic door let a free way out. And now, the American vacationers could take a step down on the Dream Land.
For those respectable visitors to the city on the Neva-river the irony of that historic moment was opening up in the images of the red-tie pioneers themselves that ushered for them a gateway into a different world – the Soviet World. Because the kids were now hanging out about, right by the exit of the bus. The boys would even pop their heads in, sharp eyes full of curiosity peering into a plush-and-plastic interior of the passenger space. They casually waved their hands in a comical way to those folks inside – a bit like, one might think, they were chum-friends or something. The boys also saluted the tourists in their funny English: “Hi, every buddy!”
As group of the holiday-makers was filing out of the bus they got immediately drawn up by the boys’ calls: “Hey, mister…hey, madam….trade…exchange, we have stuff for you…look here: Lenin badge, soviet red flag, military uniform stuff, officer belts…real soviet stuff for you…good trade…good exchange!” Simultaneously, the boys cried out those words, which they had obviously learnt by heart, in such a harmless as well as an enterprising manner, so the tourists were instantly moved, being amused.
Quickly growing in numbers, the Westerners surrounded our little street vendors. The kids dug out the “stuff” items right from their backpacks. The taller kid, here, deftly unrolled a sheet of some fabric. It was pinned all over with those dozens of metal badges and pins depicting various Lenin’s effigies.
Quite a bit of diversity:
Lenin in the flame, Lenin in the center of a red pentagram, infant curly-headed Lenin, elderly Lenin, a smiling Lenin, a frowning Lenin, Lenin wearing his signature hat, Lenin’s bald head against the background of a flying red banner, Lenin prophetically stretching out his hand… So, in fact any discerning tastes and demands for the images of the charismatic Chief of the Red Dreamers could be well met from the supply the pushing youth was offering.
“How much??” several voices inquired with no hesitation in the air. Several fingers were pointing out at the badges their owners selected to hit their special jolly.
“One buck – two Lenins for sale…One buck – two Lenins for sale…or good exchange!” the teen-merchant was prompt to respond, repeating his offer with a plain open smile. Then he quickly added: “exchange American chewing gum, badges…pens, stickers, trinkets what you have? I have ma-a-any Lenins for you!”
The Americans responded extracting from their bags something they believed would be appropriate for the truck. At that very instant the second boy spectacularly unfolded a gorgeous, thrummed at the edges, glamorously velvety red banner…
A big yellow-gold sickle and hammer shone embroidered in the upper left-hand corner.
“Reeel Soveet Flag!” the kid declared with the air of boast marketing his showy commodity. The presentation of such a good-seller product immediately made a due effect on the ‘customers’. The hands of the Americans began eagerly touching and fingering the red fabric to try its choice and quality. Their voices became marked with a considerable admiration:
“Gosh! It’s perfect …delightful …superb! How much???” the excited voices craved. The boy paused awhile as he was thinking how far to push the margin of the initial price that he had projected to offer for the flag towards its increase due to the special demand he now confronted. Finally he fired off:
“Twelve bucks, or good exchange!” Since, there were several American trippers obviously willing to purchase the flag, the trade instantly turned into an ad-lib street auction sale. The price for the ‘lot’ had rocketed up to fourteen dollars. Finally, an elderly lady wearing Ralph Lauren ‘Polo’ shirt over a denim skirt and ‘Pony’ sneakers was lucky to beat all the bidders and paid as much as fifteen green. She also supplemented the money with the lavish handfuls of sweets and chewing gum to the bargain. The woman seemed particularly happy of the deal as she lovingly and tenderly folded up the banner placing that into her handbag.
“Thank you, dear! It was so nice doing business with you,” she smiled sweetly at the beaming boy. He winked at her and letting out a flash of a sunny grin, summed up cheerfully:
“Good People - Good Business!”
While the red flag was being successfully traded for, the images of Lenin had become completely sold off or got exchanged for the lovely, colorful trinkets, stickers, felt-pens, ball pens and a whole lot of bubble gum.
Now most folks in the group of Americans pinned their clothes up with the badges, which conveyed the face of the man, whose dead body rested in the granite Mausoleum in Moscow.
No military uniform and stuff was particularly appreciated, so no items had been taken. The teenagers heartily and cordially thanked the buyers for a mutually beneficial trade.
“Thank you ver’ much, you visit here! Come again, buy Lenins and flags, we have many in dis country! Many choices! Do good business in Russia!!” -- the taller boy cried out with an affable smile.
“Yeah, we friends!” -- the shorter interjected amiably.
Having warmly wished the tourists “have a nice trip” the two happy Russian human beings parted their ways with the group of happy human beings from the USA. The Americans remained standing still for some time casting occasional stares after the kids. Outwardly the tourists seemed to be quite wrapped in happiness – the state those metal badges on their dress must have held them in. Then, the travelers leisurely made for the opposite direction to enjoy all the ostentatious superfluities the Palace and the Hermitage were housing for them.
Meanwhile, the boys wandered hasteless off the Square. They would suspiciously turn their heads around to gauge the situation on the scene trying to catch the earliest signs of undercover cops to turn up. They knew very well the price they might have to pay for doing their “good business with good people” from the West.
Thankfully, the field was clear, nobody was tracking the kids now. After fifty yards, they quickened their pace, striding down the brown-granite pathway along the Moyka-river embankment. Very soon their figures – the shorter and the taller – nearly blurred out of sight. Only the two red specks of their ‘pioneer ties’ were now visible, fading out far ahead against the background of the historic buildings in the city of Lenin…
* * * *
We can take a closer look at the two above mentioned young characters. So, a dear reader may not be mistaken to surmise it is their life stories to be on the spot and under scrutiny throughout the course of the further narration.
God wanted these two human souls to be born and living through the space of their lives in a wonderful country on the planet Earth, called the USSR. As a common wisdom reads, a person always has to be influenced by the ambient things, with which he or she is surrounded. Yet, God only knows whatever thoughts and ideas, what immense galaxy of tacit assumptions and elaborate guesses can a tricky youth start cultivating furtively in mind watching that ambiance. And what far-reaching effects can those visions have in their life!
The taller boy was named Leo Bravinsky. Tall and broad-shouldered for his age, young sport, Leo had fleece of sun-burnt straw hair which he assiduously comb-brushed every morning. He knew it was good to start a new day reading a proud satisfaction in his mother’s eyes when she took a final glance at her son’s look seeing him out at the front door leave for school.
But all that combing up Leo did was only to find his hair soon rumpled and wild in the rush of the day. He would constantly have to sweep a receding blond fringe back from his even forehead above the big clear grey eyes, which were topped with the long, contrast dark brow curves. The brows moved lively and funnily with every change of the expression on the boy’s agile, good-natured face of a healthy-rose complexion. Leo was used to spending much time in the open air. No wonder, he had a keen affection for that. Neither weather nor mood could prevent him from striking out various outdoors. Whether it was cycling or skiing, skating or hiking, whatever else sports he might pick up and dash out doing.
Kicking those freaky games together with the gang of his staunch friends in a place like a construction or demolition site was also among his favorites. When the rule of a game was to catch up with one of the players and give him a clap upon the shoulder, which instantly meant the kid was to be a catcher in the next run since he’d failed to dodge a previous catcher’s touch. The rest of the band had only twenty seconds to get scattered about the area of the structure that was full of natural menaces and pitfalls. After the waiting time was over the catcher lunged out for hunting his ‘game’. Scampering brattle, laughter and screams, teasing japes could be heard all the way around. But the matter was that in the heat of the chase the catcher oftentimes might overdo and give a hard, unintentional shove to the player he’d overtaken rather than just a little clap. At those moments, the game could frequently run into extremes bordering on a rather dangerous line and even threatening a kid with the imminent death. Because the death could have always been the result of an accidental collapse down the flights of stairs, down the wells of the grey blocks, onto the sharp fractures of concrete debris and mixed rubble.
Although bruises, scratches and bumps were numerous, still they had never even been considered to be something really serious against the exciting experience to live through. Everyone supported the crazy conviction that it was worth taking a risk when it came to show a personal prowess and the sporting-blood. That kind of breathtaking adventure had always been really challenging, packed with fun and jinks, of course. When people are young, they eventually cannot regard fully the extent to which they pose their life to the perils of accidental death or injury.
Once he had enough of the thrill, Leo could just make off roaming around the neighborhood for long hours on his own to enjoy the sunsets or track people…strange indeed, sometimes he was fond of spying after people! He picked out a person from the hasting crowds and then just kept tracing the one through the twists of the streets. He sneaked here and there, hiding himself round the corners or slipping back into the trees where he stood watching the target fixedly. The main task was not to be spotted spying by the target. All activities combined could have probably been the explanation of such a sound, robust fit and nature the boy possessed.
To add to the picture it also seems relevant to mention Leo’s nose. The nose was in fact big and protruded but in no way did its size disfigure the straight features of the boy’s face. Moreover, watching how decisively he fought back any attempts ever made by his class mates to mock Leo’s nose somehow, everyone was likely to begin respecting its bigness. Anyway, Leo himself treated his own nose with respect. Because in the depth of his mind he was certain that other boys’ noses were far less remarkable and never as eminent, as compared to his. He might study carefully his side-face reflection in the mirror and always find something noble and outstanding in the profile he was seeing.
His temper and the way he conducted looked and felt buoyant, vivacious. He could burst into a loud unembarrassed laughter, grinning with his good smooth teeth, which he had a habit to brush thoroughly every morning. Leo did that partly because his father was often used to admonishing him on the advantages of having good teeth in life, tipping so the point of how important it indeed was to keep the teeth thoroughly brushed. So, every day the boy had a chance to prove for himself the wisdom of his father when he would radiate his broad smiles to girls at school, being always rewarded with the girls’ smiles in return.
Leo was prompt in his movements, relaxed and versatile in communication. Very naturally, he demonstrated his effortless ability to blend in at any party among the peers. Leo always came about with the host of his amusing stories, valuable ideas and igniting suggestions. The boy was never hesitant to toss in a lot of those. So, one might say Leo Bravinsky had a smart and well up head on his shoulders. And he did seem to be interested to make the best use of his head for his own benefit…
But many also found there was something both eccentric and bizarre about the kid. At times, he could all of a sudden quit horsing with the schoolmates around a recreation area during the break between classes. Then Leo just stood aside with inscrutable face being oddly thoughtful and meditative, even forbidding. As though, letting his mind and soul flow out of the reality – somewhere deep into the inner, impenetrable world of his own self. The world, which he apparently didn’t like to be tampered with at such moments.
Overall, Leo was a good and zippy sort of a youngster. He was growing up adored by his parents, who he tried his best to keep unaware of their only son’s impish pranks and vagary. Because, he always argued, they shouldn’t be anxious or upset by any. He really didn’t like getting his parents upset.
His mom and dad were teachers. They belonged to that stratum of society widely referred to as intelligentsia, though living in the state which had been ruled by “proles and peasants” since 1917, according to the official propaganda. So, historically it was that stratum Leo’s parents originated from to have survived several waves of the Communist bloody purges throughout the long decades in the Soviet history.
Head and shoulders shorter than Leo, the second boy was called Timothy. His last name was Learnoff. Timothy Learnoff was a withy and bouncy kid with a dense bush of dark hair. The peer girls must have perceived him between themselves, as a “cute-looking boy”. But it was those catchy and provoking strands tinted by a reddish chemical dye in his partly peaked hair that made a downright manifestation of unusual for the Soviet context remonstrance. And it was the explicit remonstrance that Tim indeed often expressed towards the parents, teachers, or that particular breed of adults always seeking to teach manners and find child fault. Whoever might turn up to reproach Timothy on the matter of abiding, a so-called decent hairstyle and orderly Soviet mode of his dress.
But how could! A faithful Soviet kid had to observe the identical uniform, the same haircut, as well as the same decent behavior. Yet, for Timothy the temptation to eschew being ‘the same’ was formidable to resist. He even didn’t try to! Under no circumstances, did he want to become something close to that ‘orderly’ pattern of a child, what he claimed – “was a dumb rotten state the World around him was headlong trying to force him into”. “No good, I wanna be just myself, do my own things, and never like them!” he would pronounce boldly, when speaking in the gathering of his committed buddies somewhere in an utility cellar or a loft or any alike snug house to fill the room with their boisterous powwows.
So full of encouragement was Timothy at giving those improvised speeches. When he was speaking his close-set, dark brown eyes on the face of slightly swarthy complexion would shoot up sparkles from under thick brows. There felt a general air of uncompromising pride and dignity about him. The way he would move his big nose up made him look slightly sublime at those moments. Tim also carried a lot of determination in public. Using his body language, he might stretch out his right hand in a prophetic fashion or resembling those of Ancient Rome orators , every time he passed his categorical judgments upon whatever it could fall into discourse.
Significant as well as outrageous was that on the wrist of the hand he stretched was a large blue tattoo. It primitively conveyed a sword which was enlaced by the barbed wire. Bellow the sword the word ‘БАРС’ was tattooed in Russian. The word was worked out in the capital letters that literally means a ‘panther’. Though, the people one way or another familiar with the Soviet prison slang could probably recognize a latent implication behind the letters. At least, Tim would be ready to explain that it was in fact the abbreviation of a more elaborated meaning – ‘Beat the Activists, Stab the Squealers’. An amateur’s hands must have done the tattoo. Some teen artisan from his peers, obviously with delinquency record, had utilized just an ordinary electric shaver and a sharp cut of the guitar string adjusted to the mechanism for razing the skin and leaving that blue paint in the body forever.
 Lenin, Marx and Engels