In my recollections about water, about the seas, rivers and fountains, I have no particular system. I began this book with the Mediterranean Sea, with Nice, with Natalia Medvedeva carefully swimming towards the buoys in a sea without waves. But I could have started with the Black Sea, with the beaches in Gudauty covered in thickets of weeds. You can read these recollections of mine starting on any page going in any direction. They float in eternity; they don't need to be any particular length, for they float in the span of eternity.
Here's another memory-clot, a personal voyage. It was 1974. We were supposed to leave for the West. We gave our documents, just as you were supposed to, to a sullen officer, and he put the documents into a safe.
My brilliantly air-headed wife of that era! In fact, following her air-headed luck, I was carried along in the wake of her air-headed luck. My wife came up on her sporty long legs (the old folks who'd sit around outside her podezd considered her legs to be thin), full of energy from her sex-slit which was all irritated because of me, Elena decided that we had to go to Sochi. She quickly arranged a meeting there with her friends from the theater world and high society. And we took off for Sochi. Among my many virtues, one is that I don't fight against fate, but rather, I become one of those who desire it. Since, as Lenin explained, "Fate carries forward those who desire it." There were times when I had no idea where she was leading me, yet, trusting her, I went anyway. And I arrived just as we agreed.
Next frame: Sochi, we're standing in the corridor of the Zhemchuzhina Hotel. Diagonally across from us, behind desks, is the strict administrative staff: one of them is a fat-faced guy, some kind of Eric or Edik, the one we're after. Elena is all over me, ragging on me. An angry whisper: "Well, go on, coward... we'd already be resting in our room by now..." Go and live with Vitya, I want to tell her, but instead I walk up to the administrator. In my passport I'm carrying money. I should hand it over to this Eric or Edik, having said that we came from Galya Volcheka or from Igor's... with heavy legs, like the statue of Komandor, I make my way to the desk.
"We're from Igor's," I say.
"We're full," Eric or Edik answers indifferently.
I shuffle back. In the future, I experienced such defeats in a foreign language. I'd ask, "What time is it?" They'd answer not simply, as I'd expected; not "five thirty" or "six" or "seven o'clock." But, let's say, they'd answer, "Five minutes after the middle of the day." And I, fool, didn't understand a thing.
"All the rooms are taken," I report angrily, like a sheep dog, to my young wife.
"What's this? You didn't even give him the money!" Out of desperation, she's on the verge of crying. White jeans, pink shirt, the porcelain eyes of a doll -- she's a dream girl, the whole hotel is staring at her.
"I don't know how to give bribes," I say in an icy tone.
"So it's up to your wife to teach you how to bribe," she says in an even icier tone. Yet she didn't burst into a full-fledged quarrel. Her face warmed up.
"Tosik!" She walked past and behind me and returned with a middle-aged man in a gray uniform. A young woman with a baby followed behind him.
"Ed! This is Tosik Aliev! This is my new husband! I left Viktor!" Having finished with the business about her husbands, Elena evilly turned to her business at-hand: "Tosik, you can do anything. We're homeless, we can't get a room here, they're all taken."
"Go stand over there with your wife!" Tosik says to me. "Go, go, I'll come to some sort of agreement with the rebyata over there. This place is always full."
"Should we leave our passports?"
"Deal with your passports later."
We take our things and move up behind the women and girls. No one stops us at the entrance, even though they're even stopping foreigners.
In 1999 or 2000, if I remember right, in "Sovershenno Sekretno" or "Versiya," I discovered a photograph: Lena, me, a fat Armenian kid, a squat evil girl, Tofik Aliev and his wife are all standing in the Black Sea waves with the hotel Zhemchuzhina in the background. Lena -- looking fat, with a hat on her, fat on her sweet sides. I'm looking muscled and tan, looking like a soldier between sybarites. I'm surrounded by mugshots, and an arrow is pointed at me. And Tofik Aliev (not "Tosik" as Elena mistakenly called him), as it turns out, was at that time one of the first big-time Russian Mafiosi. Maybe even the Godfather of the Russian Mafia at that time. The three or four-page article was devoted entirely to him. He spoke about me in the interview, remembering our vacation in Sochi.