Ella played us. Some other friends of hers and I gave her money to get a new place; she got a room at Okhotniy Ryad. Then I made a deal to give her money for her abortion. She scheduled it for last Wednesday, and showed up at my house last Tuesday.
Lyosha was with her when she came.
He was your standard creep, shaved head, tall, the rail-thin build of a junkie, little smirk on his face, croaking out a smug "normalno" through his cigarette smoke when I asked him how he was doing. I thought it was strange at the time, but I didn't say anything... I gave her the money and we made arrangements to meet the next day -- I was going to go with her to the clinic.
Lyosha was supposed to pick me up outside the Aeroport Metro station at eight-thirty the next morning. Like an asshole, I waited there for forty-five minutes. He never showed. I went to every abortion clinic in the neighborhood looking for her. All three places I checked (one place on Chernokhovskaya street advertises massage and manicure -- only directory assistance knew it was an abortion clinic) showed me the door within about ten seconds, obviously thinking I was some estranged father, looking to beat his girl in her post-op bed. I called Kira and told her the story.
"Wait a minute," she said. "Lyosha was with her on Tuesday?"
"Yeah," I said.
She was amazed. The mere fact that she was in touch with Lyosha was the kind of thing that Ella would never have been able to conceal from Kira in the past. She was completely surprised.
Days later we found out that Ella had robbed her new apartment mates the night before, probably with Lyosha. The police are looking for her. She never went to get the abortion. The whole thing looks like a scheme to wrestle about 300 bucks from her last friends and then go run away somewhere. If everybody's best guess is right, she's living with Lyosha and his five junkie friends in some dive somewhere, and that's where she'll have the baby three months from now. God knows what will happen to the baby. Kira's mother is afraid she'll have it and just leave it somewhere... "She's left herself without any choices at all."
Kira has an old address for Lyosha. As the paper goes to bed, we're making plans to go by his place, with as many guys as we can find. An apartment full of junkies is a dicey thing, after all.
Sasha Bolovnyev didn't want to meet me. He was offended by some of the things I wrote in the article two years ago. In fact, when the article first came out, Ella told me that Sasha had said that if he ever saw me again, he was going to break my arms.
It appears that there was some confusion about the translation. In that article I'd revealed some pretty sordid secrets of Ella's and Kira's, but Sasha had come off looking like a Slavic Fonzie... In two scenes I described, I had him grabbing the ass of the school receptionist and instantly hitting on the 28 year-old photographer I brought to the school. I described his plans to enter the naval academy in Petersburg, and maybe a little dramatically played up the theme of his uncertainty about the future... It was hard to imagine his being mortally offended by a mawkish prose style, particularly since he was getting it in translation, but whatever it was, he was clearly pretty upset.
Nonetheless, I had Kira call him, and we met last Monday night, the day before Ella came by for her money.
The short version of Sasha's story is that Petersburg didn't work out (he was quiet about why), he came back in the middle of his first year, got married, had a baby (Alexander Alexandrovich), and took a job repairing watches in a storefront in the Western end of the city. "Not even repairing watches," he laughed. "I just put in new batteries."
Sasha looks good and seems very healthy. He has a pretty wife, Olga, and seems to enjoy being a father. Nonetheless, times aren't exactly easy. He lives in a kommunalka with Olga, her parents, her grandmother, her sister and her sister's husband, along with the landlady. The watch job doesn't make a whole lot of money. Not being anxious to offend him again, I can't elaborate on some of the other details. Suffice to say that Sasha's the same old Sasha: his wife even told me that one of the girls at the store he works for offered him $150 to sleep with her.