A Russian new comer arrives in an American office, not so shortly after the Cold War began.
That one old song A Hard Day’s Night... that song didn’t get written yet in the time of my old story, but it sure told the story of me and all my guys in our office. We worked hard all day and most of the night, to be rewarded at the end of a long ass day with a glass of wine or a dark empty room if you’re the last one to leave. That was a hard thing to be if you knew guys like I did. I usually closed shop with old Baxter, a sly little bastard who really loved his cigars and pilots gloves, and was always the first one to turn out the lights. He always had an accomplished look sparkling deep in his gaze, even if he did just sit on his ass all day. He had an enormous libido, so it seemed, or maybe batting his eyes lashes at every dame that came his way and talking smooth like a fresh bottle of scotch was just his every day attitude. I would laugh every time old Keith Baxter’s tie would accidentally slap Otis’ face, the oddest guy in the whole building, and probably the hardest to please. The bastard would always have empty Pepsodent tubes hiding in his desk drawer, and hide the caps in his brief case; God knows what happened to all the Pepsodent.
No one else really cared, but he kept a loaded pistol lying on his desk; he was constantly afraid someone fanatical was going to break in through the window. His face was long, but young, and his nose was large sort of like mine, mine wasn’t as pointed and I never fantasized about my nose popping birthday balloons. Don’t get me wrong, there were some whimsical things about him, too. I liked it when the same grey military plane would glide across the sky, twice a day, every day, because he would watch it intently somehow hoping that it might come to take him somewhere. I also like the sparkle in his eyes, that magical little shine like a taxi’s lights against ice that he got whenever he saw probably the most forlorn man ever to walk this grey earth of ours, Afanas Ivanov. What a terrible time to be in America for him, although no one who could really do anything about him being here really cared, but it seemed everyone else around knew and thought no Russian should be here, especially after the war ended. Poor lost bastard, he never deserved any of the bullshit he got, being a veteran and all, but no one thought he was just because he fought for his own damn country. Oh, that poor soul, probably older than all of ours. He was certainly as gentle as a lamb to us, getting us cosmopolitans, whisky, lovely glasses of white wine and all kinds of things after work. But, we poked fun at him and were pretty damn cruel, so was I. I didn’t want to, believe me, but I didn’t want to be the odd one out like he was, besides I thought he was fine as long as one person genuinely liked him, and vice versa. That person was our Otis. I was pretty decent to him the first summer he mysteriously popped out of the blue, out of our office’s corner, as if he had been there forever waiting to come out and meet us.
Baxter, another bud of mine, Leo, and lanky old Afanas who could only converse a few words of English went to hit a few holes near our neighborhood green on the clearest and hottest day of July. Leo thought he was a perfect caddy, being taller than everyone in the bunch, probably stronger, too. So when we hoped in the Cadillac when the air had a bit of cool wind to it, Baxter pointed him out and how he had seen him earlier. “Check out the Soviet o’er there, what he doin’ on ’ere?“ He sniffed while snatching his matchbox out of his pocket and asking for a Lucky Strike from Leo who was looking at Afanas out the window as attentively as Baxter was. “Don’t think Soviets should be down here,“ he snorted while playfully snatching my brimmed hat right off my head; he knew I was embarrassed about all the gel I put on my hair. “How do ya even know he’s Russian?“
“You kiddin’ me? Look at his eye brows and the way he’s lookin’ at ya.“ He stood a few yard away from our Cadillac, probably burning his eyes like hell because of how glossy and nice it was. He stood there taking little glances at us while trying to count all the quarters in his light jacket pocket.
I think I was the only one who saw how miserable and scared his eyes were at first glance. “Maybe he came here to bomb us or somethin’“ Baxter puffed on his Lucky Strike. “Or maybe he is a gift,“ Leo sighed, thinking of how his back would get saved. “A gift from God that can carry our clubs around.“ Leo eventually lured him in the front passenger seat, and Afanas didn’t say one word. He stuffed him in, squeezing him up against poor Baxter while his cigarette was jerked a bit by all the movement happening in the car. He gave Afanas the stare of an angry cat, and I swear, he could have growled and pounced like one. It was the quietest drive we had ever had together, we all felt a bit too awkward about having this glum and unfamiliar face with us. Leo and Baxter were quarreling in the back, and I listened in. Afanas didn’t seem to care; he stared at his hands and sometimes at me, with his eyes large and shining like an old scared dog on the streets. “I wanna ask him somethin’“ Baxter said quietly, almost in a feminine voice. “So ask ’em.“ Leo shrugged. “What ya whisperin’ to me for?“ “I don’t think he’ll understand you anyway.“ I felt a shiver going up my spine he gave me a short grimace. I gripped the wheel like I was hanging off a cliff. “Sorry, fella.“ “Course he does.“ Old Keith Baxter nodded, taking his cigarette out from his mouth. “I still wanna ask him questions.“ Leo shook Afanas’ shoulder, which frightened him like hell. “Here that, Commi?“ He giggled. “He wants ta ask ya questions.“ “You shouldn’t have said that.“ Baxter hissed while raising his nose high. “Now I’m too embarrassed to say anything.“
He co-operated pretty damn well when we all shoved our club bags on to his shoulders, and made him keep score as we walked freely. We all got rotten scores, but we had a hell of a time while we made poor Afanas watch. He said “Can I?“ often, the first words we heard him say ever, and he said that after we swung hopelessly at the ball. We wouldn’t let him try, or even look at our expensive and classy golf clubs. “Nah,“ we said, “Your probably gonna want to nail us in the head with ’em.“ Or, “I want to have a go for a while longer.“ But besides that, he caddied for us and stayed as quiet as a church mouse, and smiled when ever we turned to see his face. It was a fake smile, and you could tell it was.
Well, when the sun started to go down and made gorgeous and blending colors on the horizon, we finally gave up and called it a game. But as the guys were walking up ahead, I looked back at Afanas who was lumbering behind me, about to collapse under the weight of all our clubs. He looked at me with those puppy dog eyes again. “Ya know, I got an extra ball.“ I looked back at the guys again as I pulled it out of my pocket, avoiding his gaze. I made sure I showed him every curve and bump on it, because I was a thorough bastard and I thought he never saw a golf ball before. “No one’s lookin’, why don’t you drop those bags and give it a swing?“ He beamed at me and gently set the clubs down, pulling out one as I pulled out a toothpick to chew on. I never did want to take up smoking, so I made chewing a habit instead. My God, you should have seen him swing; he hit that ball so hard it flew in the air until it was completely out of sight, like the plane that Otis always watched. He had a fantastic figure after he swung, too, with his club frozen high in the air as he watched the ball soar. “I...“ I slowly took the toothpick out of my mouth, with my eyes wide, “...I don’t want to go look for that thing.“ I laughed. He rested the club on the grass, but then remembered it wasn’t his so he quickly put it back in. “Thank you.“ He breathed. Although I couldn’t quite tell what he was trying to say at first, his accent was as thick as a white out snow storm.
After a weekend past, we all had to go back to the office, and Afanas was there strangely. I didn’t know what he was doing there, no one did and we still don’t, it unsettled us. For God sake, we were all as scared as shit that he would take Otis’s pistol and start shooting us. Speaking of old Otis, that was the first day they met, and it was the most peculiar meeting. “My mouth is feelin’ a lil’ funky today.“ Baxter said that very day to Otis, leaning back in a rusty wheelie chair terribly close to his desk, and almost made him make a typo on his old typewriter. Boy, would he have been pissed as hell. “You got any Pepsodent on you?“ I stood by Baxter, leaning on Otis’s desk and almost sitting on the gun, and thought his discomfort was from all those Lucky Strikes and cigars. He scowled at the both of us. “I don’t, no“ My God, his voice sounded like an ill-tempered British banker with vocal cords as high and shrill as his. I laughed. “How the hell you get all those tubes then if you don’t have no paste?“
“I’m not gonna be tellin’ you.“ He pushed his glasses up high, and swung his head away from us. “How you gonna brush your teeth without a brush anyway?“ Baxter picked gingerly at his teeth with one of his dark gloves removed. “I’d figure it out somehow.“ Otis squinted at him, the sour bastard, and turned his head to go back to his typing, until Afanas crept in.
He wore a long black coat, as black as his short cut hair and made his ears look even larger and his eyebrows thicker. Leo, Baxter and I sighed as we watched all the people stare at him, immediately telling he was Russian, some even looked like they were going to pick up their phones and make a call to the police. He sagged his shoulders and his head, looking back as every gray face looked back at him, and frowned. All except for Otis, who was gaping as if a gorgeous dame was walking right by him, and whispering “You want a piece of this?“. He scanned him up and down with his eyes, and it was the most peculiar thing I ever did see. Poor Afanas was sort of unsettled by his stare, and furred his brow while sort of walking the other way backwards. Leo stood behind me, and scared me half to death when he chimed in to see Otis’s jaw dropping. “I knew he was afraid of Communists.“ He chortled. Otis picked the pieces of himself back up when Afanas went into another room, but he could barely hold them together.
“And...“ His voice quaked, as if he saw a great beauty that could kill with her eyes. “...and he was?“ “Scaring you, apparently“ Leo said as old Otis leaned back in his chair. “We...ah... don’t know either, fella.“ I was surprised, I never seen him so hopeful, but of what? “He was our catty last Friday, but we don’t know who he is.“ Otis went back to squinting at me. I was disappointed, I felt less hated by him when he took that little trip to cloud nine. “Find out will, you?“ He sneered, turning back to his typewriter. “I don’t think he works here at all.“
At about noon the day after, Afanas was all dressed in black, and we all wondered if someone died. It was our break, because we said it was, and I and the guys just hung out in the deserted little lounge with the windows totally covered in the beige blinds. We stood very close to the coffee brewer, and drank our own, except for me, I was happy with just an old toothpick. Baxter finished his mug in three minutes flat. “You see Otis talkin’ to that bastard o’er there?“ He wiped his mouth and smiled. I blinked but then held my eyes closed. “No.“ “We’ll turn ’round and look at ’em, then.“ He pointed behind me, and I couldn’t help to look, although I indisputably did not want to. Afanas and Otis were having a little dialogue in the far corner, although it was mostly old Otis who did all the talking, with a grin on his face, too. Afanas just politely smiled at him, and I could tell he didn’t know what a half of the words he whispered meant, you could see the confusion in his eyes. “They look like they’re gonna go and kiss each other any second, don’t they?“ Leo raised his eyebrows and blew on his coffee that he kept black. “You go on over there and see what they’re sayin’, but I’m stayin’ here, I don’t want Otis trying to get me fired or that Commi tryin’ to kill me.“ “Quit sayin’ Commi.“ I snapped, and stepped a bit closer to them, phenomenally they didn’t even twitch, or even know I was there.
Baxter was behind me, too, if you consider two yards beside you behind. I leaned against the wall, as if I was just tired of Leo and hanging out all by myself, and I held my ear to them. “I-I saw you outside, too, ya know?“ Otis said quietly while locking his fingers together. “Do you sleep there? Why do you sleep there every night?“ Afanas’ smiled slowly disappeared and he looked away from Otis, getting dizzy from staring at all those wild patterns on the carpet. I had to squint to really see the little bits and pieces of emotion in his face, and the stories he never told. “C’mon, you can tell me, c’mon.“ He begged, but Afanas only turned toward him again, looking at his chest just because he couldn’t look at that damn carpet one more minute. I didn’t see right away, but small traces of tears started to appear on the rims of his lids. What the hell is happening with this guy? I thought selfishly, but now I think what the hell did the world do to him? “Speak softly in my ear then.“ He started to whisper himself. “I’m damn good at keeping secrets.“ Then unexpectedly Afanas caught a glimpse of me, and turned from the both of us with a palm miserably placed on his face. Otis twisted around to see me. “Oh!“ He barked angrily looking to his left to see Leo watching him with only his eyes shifted, that quickly changed and he tried to chug down all of that coffee at once. Baxter just hurried towards me, his eyes not very afraid but more surprised than anything. I t was the first time I had ever seen his eyes so full. “Oh, fuck all of you!“ With one swoop of his hand, Otis knocked the toothpick right out of my mouth, and then I grasped my neck afraid I swallowed it.
“They talk all the freakin’ time.“ Leo whispered to me the Wednesday of that very week. “I think the Russian even said somethin’ to ’em.“ I turned my head to see Otis leaning against the window that faced the parking lot and the clear blue sky, with clouds of light russet dust swirling in the air. He watched that plane fly over us again, and then leaned his crossed arms against the glass. “They know somethin’ we don’t.“ I whispered back to him, hoping that Otis wouldn’t turn back around and be a little bitch again. “Well, my word.“ Kathleen, a dame Baxter had a little thing for, the only dame in the office who wasn’t so damn scared of us put a hand to her mouth as she looked out the same window. “Somethin’ there?“ I called to her, saying planted in my chair because I was just too damn lazy to do anything. “Yeah, someone out there’s getting’ stoned.“ He said with her eyes wide. I laughed “What?“ I knew Leo would probably want to join him. “On what?“ “No, no!“ She squealed. “Those boys are throwin’ rocks at him, down there. Otis popped his head to his right to look at her, and marched to her side and looked down towards the entrance. “Who?“ He spat and then gasped when he saw. “That gentleman, there!“ she pointed as me and Leo looked at each other and made our way to that window. Other curious bastards in the joint followed. We quietly gasped to see Afanas being beaten back by a group of boys probably on their way from school. Puberty was hitting them like a ton of bricks, and one of the employees who worked with us was with them, chucking stones in the parking square they found at poor Afanas, who was shielding his face with his arms. “Damn.“ I breathed, watching him struggle and the boys cackle, but as much as I hated seeing quiet Afanas being beaten with all those stones, I didn’t do a damn thing about it. It was terrified Otis that ran out of the room, and down all those flights of stairs. “Why does he like him so much?“ Leo sniffed as some of the guys by the window lost interest and went back to the shit they were doing. “I think it’s pretty funny.“ “If I shot a kitten, you’d still be hootin’ your ass off.“ I snarled, and watch Otis suddenly storm out from the building as if it gave damn birth to him, and I have to tell you, he really did beat those boy’s asses all the way to Florida, I swear.
Afanas sat next to Otis the rest of the day, as he typed at the speed of lightning. He sat for hours in a spare seat I found in the supply closet, something you wouldn’t expect to find in there. Nothing like finding an immense old chair when you’re looking for staples. He sat with a hand over his eye, which was a completely different color than the other, blue and brown, who would have thought? His eye must have hurt though, being hit with all those dirty rocks. I barely did any work that day; I was so damn busy trying to think of a theory of why his eyes were different tints. Baxter pulled up in the Cadillac at about tow, because he overslept he said, but who sleeps till two in the afternoon these days? There is just much too much to do in this damn world, there’s no time to sleep through it. But of course, we all had to work as that much too much past by much too fast.
“You missed Kathleen this mornin’“ Leo followed Baxter in as he tried desperately not go be noticed, although nobody really cared that he was terribly late. “She was talkin’ with that ol’ voce and-“ “She was missin’ from the bed when I woke up.“ He growled, taking my coffee mug from my desk top and swigging half of it down, without even realizing it was mine. “Whoa, hey,“ I looked back at Kathleen, who was staring at short Keith Baxter, but quickly forced her pretty little head back down to type again, like the rest of us. “You mean you-“ “Hell yes I did.“ He grinned. “But I guess she didn’t want to be late for work.“ I couldn’t believe that dainty little dried spaghetti Kathleen would ever go to bed with someone like Baxter, I had no idea she was that brave.
By the time September was around the corner and the few trees started turning all sorts of colors, we found out a truck load about our strange giant Russian, including his name. The guys and I talked about him one night after work. We leaned on the old Cadillac and sipped on some cans of Rheingold, I always liked beer extra dry.
“You see the number tattooed on his arm?“ Baxter said with sand in his voice as he looked at the sky grow darker and darker with different shades of blue. “Didn’t they have those things in the Nasi camps or what not?“ “Nazi.“ I corrected him. “I guess so; I wouldn’t be surprised if that fella was a soldier or somethin’.“ Leo took one sip of his beer and left it on the hood on the car, and forgot about it the rest of the time so he could pull out a cigarette instead. “Gotta give the guy some slack,“ He struggled to light his match. “I’d be too scared to fight off those damn Natis.“ “Nazis, you retard.“ I couldn’t believe they didn’t even know how to say the name right. “Fight and get captured, sounds like a hell of a time.“ I said sarcastically.
Baxter slowly parted the can from his lips when he heard the noise of the entrance door creaking open and seeing the very guy we were talking about, and of course he was with Otis. They didn’t notice us, they were too busy looking at each other, and we all had a sense they loved every minute with each other. “You know,“ Baxter backed into the Cadillac’s window and whispered. “He has a glass eye, you know, right?“ So that’s what’s up with his eyes. I thought, and then my own eyes went wide when I saw something I didn’t want Leo and Baxter to see. I turned their gazed around so I could look myself. “My God,“ I looked behind me. “Take a gander at Kathleen o’er there, my God, Keith you lucky bastard.“ Baxter blushed and the both of them looked over the Cadillac into the far blackness, trying their hardest to see something, as I looked the other way and saw Afanas and Otis embracing on the building side, Otis stealing only one kiss from his cheek. Afanas smiled with his eyes, real and fake, closed tightly. They sort of rocked side to side, but very suddenly, like a tree waving in a slight wind. “I don’t see anythin’ you douche.“ Leo snapped. “Why don’t you point her out?“ “I don’t want you lookin’, she’s my lady.“ Baxter pushed him and he bumped into my shoulder, making me stumble. I pointed a random direction, sort of towards the road where everyone was leaving. “I can’t believe you don’t see her, she’s right o’er there!“ I lied, and then turned back around to see them again. The funny thing is I wanted to cry, I never cry or talk about anything with anybody but for some reason I just wanted to cry for them. What would every one do if they found out about them? It surely wouldn’t turn out great for old Afanas, poor bastard with already so much shit in his life. I always felt sorry for him secretly, but then for the first time in my life, I felt bad for old, sour Otis who would always go out of his way to try and get me fired, or to knock a toothpick out of my mouth.
On a Friday when the air finally started getting cold did Afanas finally spit out a few sentences. I was happy he started talking to someone besides old Otis; I started to think he was getting a bit obsessed. But anyway, he was dressed all in black again, making him look more like a bundle of sticks glued together by a kindergartener.
He seemed to blend in more, too, less people were picking on him or so I thought. He loomed over my desk like a bat hanging from the roof of a cave, and he looked at me. His glass eye seemed to get bluer with ever second, my God. “I borrow paper?“ He asked shyly like he was talking to a damn toddler. “I thought you didn’t like me, you never talked to me really.“ I snickered, trying to make him hang there, just to annoy him or please myself if he didn’t notice. “I like you okay,“ He didn’t smile, but oh did he want to, I’m not sure what was holding him back. “You let me golf, remember? Now I borrow paper?“ I nodded to him while grabbing another toothpick to chew on. Bending over slightly, I stopped and glared at him. “What for?“ He asked me what I said and I repeated myself. “Oh, poems, see Benjamin there? He write poems good.“ He pointed to Otis, who was banging away at the type writer impatiently, but then I wondered why he called him “Benjamin“, and thought he was a poet. “Writes poems well,“ I corrected him first. “And that’s not Benjamin, fella, there’s no Benjamin in the whole buildin’. Must be a hard you ta say, huh? ’Benjamin’?“ I languidly bent down, opening the small metal file cabinet under my desk to give him a few sheets of yellowing paper. I jumped when I found a dead mouse sprawled across the files and paper, I stared at it while listening to Afanas.
“Oh, but he said his name Benjamin.“ “No, it’s Otis.“ I lifted it by the tail, separating it from my hand with a single sheet of the paper to throw it in the garbage. “He probably changed it to impress you.“ I murmured while thinking of the night in the parking lot, to be honest, I thought it was a damn pretty sight to see someone be kissed , no matter who kissed them. “What you doing with that animal?“ Afanas leaned forward, trying to gentle take the mouse away. “It’s goin’ in the can there,“ I pointed the waist basket in the corner at the end of the room, close to Leo’s desk, which was empty that day. It was barely noticed by anybody, being so lonely and woven with chrome colored wire, it was almost empty. “No.“ He breathed gently, taking a few sheets of paper from my drawer for Otis’s poems, oi vey. “No, bury it with flowers.“ I turned to him about to make my way to the trash basket, with the little mouse dangling in my hand. “That’s a mighty nice thought, fella, but I just don’t have time.“ “But it’ll be more happy.“ He pleaded, and I laughed. I was such a stupid bastard; I had no idea that he had a whimsical idea behind it. “It’s kind of dead, fella, its dead.“
I was shocked around lunch time about Otis’s new discovered talent, because apparently he really did write damn poems, he wrote them pretty damn well, too. Afanas snagged us one out of one of Otis’s poems from his desk, afraid to make him pissed. Baxter and I read it together on our lunch break, hiding it with our coat sleeves just in case Otis happened to walk by. Our lips moved, but we spoke in silence.
On a night or day in a chair so gray,
Watch the clouds in lonely shades,
speeding by your window pain,
and forget they look for you.
Through a window you will see someone
found by those clouds,
Through a window you’ll see him plead for you,
and feel and ache in your heart.
Baxter didn’t know what the hell it was supposed to mean, because he didn’t see what I saw, thank God. “That’s the most random shit,“ He hissed. “It’s just words mashed together, but it don’t sound good a’ all.“ He didn’t understand at all, the whole thing was so damn beautiful. I wondered if Afanas read it, and kissed Otis after. Boy, what a sweet sight. Then I started to wish a bit as Baxter fixed his leather glove, I sort of wished in a corny way. I wanted Otis and Afanas to love each other... really love each other. It was such a stupid ass thought, and I don’t know why I was even thinking of it, but I did anyway.
What else did poor Afanas really have anyway? We couldn’t take him back to the Soviet Union or what not; they’d kill him like a nice fat cow on a ranch. But like the U.S was any better, we were all practically killing the guy with our glares, the stones thrown at his face, and our unkind attitudes. He wasn’t really home anywhere except with Otis, but we all knew that Otis was a nut job, and what if something was to happen to him? Well, he wouldn’t have a home at all then, I mean, what home do you have when your home doesn’t want you?
Otis started getting a little crazier when winter finally hit us like a speeding train. He looked out the window, with the few trees bare and the Cadillac parked outside getting covered in snow, which was a pain to brush off. But Keith Baxter wouldn’t be driving us anywhere anytime soon, he had to go find Kathleen, and he knew that finding a frightened pregnant woman wasn’t going to be easy. So Leo and I spent the days together, without Baxter’s fancy cigars, short stature, or his slick attitude, but we did watch the parking lot every day, to see if he and Kathleen would be pushing snow of the Cadillac. Otis looked out the window as always, watching that little plane go back and forth, but he cried while he did with Afanas touching and shielding his face and his arm around his shoulder. He stole a small kiss when he thought the coast was clear, and promised to make coffee later. I diverted old Leo’s sight from them when he did.
A night before the saddest day of my life, on a Thursday night, I walked out alone to drive myself in the Cadillac, because Leo insisted on walking home. I draped that old coat over my shoulders and positioned my hat to shield my eyes from the snow flying at my face. Looking for my keys hidden somewhere deep in my pockets, I paused when I heard something crash, like a broom behind the building falling to the ground. I stood still, to see if some sort of little critter were to come out from behind. But nothing did, so I took ginger steps, making the snow crumble under my feet. The back of the building was so dark for some reason; it was just as exposed as the parking lot. I peeked my head gingerly around the corner of the wall, and stared at them again. I wasn’t surprised that it was Otis and Afanas, but this time they were really going at it. They were kissing everywhere, deeply, on their eyes, on their ears, on their necks, just freaking everywhere. Giant Afanas would knock stuff over too, and Otis was getting a lot of snow on his shoulders for Afanas to brush off. “I love you.“ I heard Afanas whisper before kissing his ear again, and my heart started to flutter as if someone was damn saying it to me. Otis whispered something else, I couldn’t really hear the bastard, but damn did Afanas blush widely after he did. So, I left, only because I didn’t want to see anything else that I might regret seeing. I briskly paced back to the side of the car, but paused again, just in case I heard anything else from that new poet.
I was all alone the next day, no Leo, no Baxter, no Kathleen, just me alone to watch Afanas and Otis, who was crying at his desk again when the plane went by. Just to tell you, Afanas never did make that coffee. He did try to comfort him though, wrapping his arm around him, and kissing him again when no one was looking, except for me. That night everyone left the office, except for me and Otis, but Afanas did tell him he’d be waiting for him with his real eye glowing and possibly his glass one just as loving. I sat in my chair, with only half of the office lights on, and the clock ticking on the other side was the loudest noise in the room. Otis stood and watched the plane fly back in the dark and silent night.
He sighed, “My friend flies that,“ He pointed it out to me with a hazy voice. “But he’s not my friend anymore, is he?“ “Okay...“ I said right on back to him, only because I had no idea what the hell he was talking about. “You know, he used to make me do things for him, and squeeze my arm when I just said ’no’.
He turned slowly to me, only his head and neck. “No, I don’t know anything.“ I murmerd right back, twiddling my thumbs. “He knew I wanted to fly, too,“ He pointed at the little plane almost gone from sight. “That exact one, he never wanted to fly, he just wanted to...“ he started to sob, and the words could barely squeeze out of the guy. “Just to... spite me... he knows where my damn office is, you know? And he flies it right here ’cause he knows I’m watching!“ He fell to the ground, sobbing and sniffing, as I heard a door open, but I thought it was the wind. “I didn’t know anything.“ I said just sitting and watching him in my chair, although it was cruel, like watching an animal be tortured in for a show. “Course, you didn’t,“ his voice quaked angrily, and I could tell he was truly going mad. “No knows me here, no one knows me.“ He stood up, and did something that scared the living shit out of me; he grabbed the loaded pistol off his desk and rested the barrel of it on his ear. “Hey, whoa!“ I stood up, “Course people know ya, Afanas knows ya pretty damn well, now put that thing down!“ Tears streamed from his eyes.“So you know?“ He sniffed. “Well, what if everybody else in the joint knew? I can’t love a fucking communist.“ “You know you love him,“ I scowled and started to raise my voice. “You love him so fucking much, I can freakin’ see it. Don’t listen to those freakin’ douche bags who say you should be involved with ’em just ’cause he’s from someplace else.“ Then he said something that made me cut ties with Leo forever, I just couldn’t believe it. “Your Leo pal said he’d hurt me, he'd hurt any American in sight. It's just what those people do. “ He growled, and I clenched my fists as Otis pulled the trigger and fell strait to the floor again, the carpet getting soaked in blood. I stood still there, with tears in my eyes and a glare plastered on my face. I listened to the silence for a minute, the clock ticking, my sniffs, and the planes motor slowing disappearing into nothing.
Another noise startled me. “But, I know he loved me...“ I twisted to see Afanas stand in the door way with tears in his eyes. He had no home left now, and just stood in the doorway like it was the only place for him to go. I was too shocked from seeing a man die to say anything, so I just slowly shook my head, and watched him run down the stair case. I didn’t even try to stop him, I just watched him out the window when he came to the parking lot, over Otis’s body, and watched him run into the dark... and never come back.
I was certain someone else would find him, and love him, someone hopefully a little more stable than Otis was. They’ll know he’s Russian, they’ll know they shouldn’t trust him, but they will want him near them when he walks by. They’ll see him cry through a window, and feel an ache in their heart.