I don’t know where it came from, this obsession with isolation, thought Sergei.
Wherever I am I chose the option most suited to isolation.
He remembered being a guard on the Trans Siberian. Not so much a guard, although that’s what he told ‘the girls’, more a baggage handler.
“Hey. Hey Boy!” That’s what he heard, each time they stopped at a halt in some godforsaken hole, “Want to earn a rouble or two? Or you gonna sit there staring up your arse all day, huh!”
The gangsters were the worst. No respect for humankind, it was all about money. And they say the UK is a capitalist state.
So, Sergei would take the bags. Chuck them into a taxi, hopefully spilling some of the contents if he could get a zip undone.
He once found a bag of cocaine, nestling in the top of a holdall trust in his hands by the minder of one of these gangsters. Sergei managed to liberate the drugs, funding part of the next year selling small bags of coke to passengers.
Now the service station/petrol station/garage, whatever they’re called. We call them Gas stations in Russia, like the Yanks, he thought to himself.
“Gas!” said Sergei, “Gas! been-ZEEN! [that’s an approximation of the sound of the word petrol, in Russian] been-ZEEN!” and he danced around the room chanting the word, “been-ZEEN! been-ZEEN! been-ZEEN!”
Maybe that’s why he liked to be on his own. Maybe he was slightly deranged.
He danced and danced and tuned his movements into the music softly dribbling from his transistor radio: I can hear the grass grow [not the Move’s original, The Fall’s cover version]
[and here’s an aside by Duggie Chop about The Fall and cover versions…
“I’m not gonna say much now. Just this: Fall cover versions are rubbish when Brix had anything to do with ‘em, and only slightly better when she didn’t. And…”
“What about ‘Victoria’?” Said Duggie’s mate, flicking through a back issue of Mojo, the one with Kraftwerk on the front cover, “I reckon they did alright with that one. I mean, it was pretty obscure before they covered it. I think they made the charts.”
“You’re thinking of ‘Hit The North’,” said Duggie, “Ok, I’m just saying that The Fall’s cover versions are usually rubbish.”
“Why Are People Grudgeful’? ‘Lost in Music’? both from The Infotainment Scan, 1993” said Duggie’s mate.
“Yeah, but they’ve got nothing to do with Brix!” said Duggie, attempting to rescue his argument.
“Suppose so. I don’t particularly like them anyway. Much prefer The Fall’s originals. It’s good when Mark E Smith resurrects something that he was into. Might murder it, but at least people search out the original.” Said Duggie’s mate (in his mind were the four tracks from Black Monk Time by The Monks that The Fall had covered).
“I reckon Sergei’s gonna be in schtuck if we don’t shut up – look at him dancing around.” Said Duggie.
“And he doesn’t know what’s coming up either, does he?” said Duggie’s mate.
“Nah, But he soon will. Watch.” Said Duggie, fading away like a finger swish through dust on a warm CRT TV screen.]
We’re back with Sergei, swirling around and dancing, swirling and chanting. He collected the broom and he’s swinging it around like a rather thin dance partner, “been ZEEN! You are my Queen!” he said, eyes closed in a kind of ecstasy of movement.
And he would have continued all day, or at least until someone ordered petrol or fags, but his eyes opened on the barrel of a gun pointed straight at his face.
“Can I have the contents of your till please. And 40,000 cigarettes.” Said the voice behind a knitted mask.