Son of a Russian immigrant with a hidden past, brother to a glue huffing failure, young Sergei hasn't got the best starting point in life. When he decides to go on a counterfeit jeans run to London for his brother, he overhears a conversation in the Angel Islington Tube station, he realises that his mother's hidden past is perhaps more important than he'd ever imagined.
March 6th 1869, Russian scientist Dmitri Mendeleev presents the first periodic table to the Russian Chemical Society. Exactly three decades later, Bayer registers Aspirin as a trademark. Many years later, in 1927, Fritz Lang’s Metropolis is released. 1933 brought the beginning of the United States bank holiday, brought on by Franklin D. Roosevelt to avoid even more financial turmoil that the country was already experiencing. 1946 brought the independence of Vietnam. On March 6th 1984, the British coal mining industry started it’s year long strike. Three years later, 193 people died in the Zeebrugge Ferry Disaster. On the same day in 1992, the Michelangelo virus began to hit PCs worldwide, while the Council of Baltic Sea States was being formed. In 1997 Picasso’s painting ‘Tête de Femme’ was stolen from a London gallery.
On March 6th, 1984, I was born. Many things have happened on that day, before and after my birth. Events that relate directly to me are much less interesting and compelling. But I suppose if I’m going to tell you my story, I should give you a little back-story leading to the main event. Two before I was born, my mother burnt her hand. Two days after I was born, her hand became severely infected, and she had to stay in hospital for several weeks. As a result, I was never breast fed. I spent those weeks (around five, I think) with my older brother and his girlfriend. Our father had died as far as we knew, Mother was always rather sketchy with those details. As for grandparents and aunts, we had none. Our neighbors seemed to distrust her somewhat on account of her Russian accent. Oh, I guess time for that particular piece of back-story. My mother had fled Russia as a child, hiding in the back of a lorry. She was granted citizenship, in exchange for ‘information’. She was rather sketchy with these details too, for that matter. My mother was a master of lies, right up until the day she died, when I was ten.
Perhaps I should tell you my name. I am Sergei Borzakov, son of Matryona and brother of Alexei. I think I have my father’s name, but I’m not sure. What else is there to tell you about me? Well, I grew up in Gadley, a crappy town in Yorkshire, where I was mercilessly bullied by pretty much everyone on our nasty little council estate, ‘Greenspire Fields’. I was Russian, I had a weird name, I was at least a head taller than everyone, and I was smart. In short, I stood out. And, as I got older and realised I was gay, things got a whole lot worse. But, my lack of a social life isn’t really what I’m trying to tell you. I’m trying to tell you the thing that happened that changed everything, and I mean everything. I think I need to start just before the beginning, just before it all started.
Picture me, 6’4, long black hair, sharp cheekbones, thick eyebrows, sporting the so-called ‘Russian expression’ (which I’ve been told is a cross between rage and boredom), smoking a cigarette in a dirty flat with two people, a man and a woman. The man is my brother, 15 years older than me, but perpetually childlike. He looks a fair bit like me, does Alexei. But, I suppose, what I’d look like if I was 35 and had spent my whole life huffing glue. His current girlfriend was there at the time. She was, like all the others, a rough looking northern lass, from an estate worse even than ours, and foundation thicker than the walls of the flat plastered all up her face, and her fat arse squeezed into a ‘designer’ tracksuit with the brand name spelt wrong. I didn’t really have a reason to be there, but I was unemployed, and lonely, and, well, when he’s not on the glue too heavily, he’s a nice guy.
Alexei was telling me about his latest run-in with the police that had resulted in his driving license being confiscated. Apparently, he’d been caught doing something dodgy, and he wasn’t allowed to leave the county.
“So, basically, like, I been meanin t’go t’London for a while now, this greasy little fooker me mate Chaz knows does these right good dodgy trousers, Ralph wazhizface an’ all that, so I was wundrin’ like, would ya mind goin’ down’t get um for us? I’ll give ya 25% of whatever wees be sellin’ em for. I can’t be goin’ outta county can I? Ah, gairn Serj, you need t’cash!” He pleaded. In all honesty, I hadn’t been paying much attention. His mismatched northern accent and glue-hazed slur makes him hard to listen too sometimes. Unlike him, I had a standard British accent, with a mild Russian purr too it. He, however, had been desperate to assimilate.
I’d taken in just enough details to get the gist. I mulled it over. True, I did need the money. I was flat broke. On the other hand, Alexei... well, he got messed up in some bad scenes a lot of the time, and I didn’t like the sound of this one. My record was clean, I did not need to get involved with counterfeit jeans smuggling. But, he was right, I did need the money. I really needed it. Desperately, in fact. Desperately enough to almost excuse my next words.
“Alexei, I don’t want to get messed up in anything dangerous. This all safe, yeah?” I asked. He nodded, while the fat girlfriend looked on, too drugged up to care. “Right then. Give me the details, and I’m off. Don’t you go screwing me over on the money though. I’m serious about that. This isn’t a brotherly gesture you know.”
“Ahh, fookin’ wonderful bruv, I knew you’d not let us down. Now, I ain’t got nowt yet so youse’ll have to pay your own train,” He said, beaming at me. I had a sinking feeling in my stomach. The same sinking feeling I always got when Alexei persuaded me to do something for him. He might be my brother, but he was still a reckless twat.