Saturday, October 02, 2004

A bit of a detour

The cargo truck out of Kazan, in which I had stowed away, went off a steep embankment during a particularly violent snowstorm. The driver, rest his soul, did not survive the crash. After relieving him of his cash and flask I buried him in the snow, where he will be preserved until the truck is discovered, no doubt before winter's end. The gravesite is marked with a square of fallen logs, I thought that rather an obvious sign.

Unfortunately the truck was not carrying any food, so I was forced to strike off in search of sustenance. After a few hours of wandering in the darkened forest, trying to keep the road at my side, I was hopelessly lost. Not in any mood to be overtaken by the elements, I fortified myself with the late man's warming vodka and kept ever-vigilant, invigorated not just by the liquor but the purpose of my mission.

For several hours I wandered, here plunging into a snowdrift up to my neck, there cutting my hand as I grabbed for a shattered branch. Just as night had reached its thickest pitch, I spied a dim orange ember of light off through the trees. What first looked like a firefly became the glow of a hearth-fire through a little cottage window. Coming carefully closer, I watched as the family inside wrapped itself up and made off down the lane, carrying bottles and a covered casserole. Presuming they would be out for several hours, I waited until they were out of sight and then slipped in through the front door, which they had left unlocked.

It was a modest enough abode, and I was charged to see that a selection of other casseroles had been left on the counter to cool. Though quite against my ethics, circumstances forced me to reason that I needed the sustenance more than did this family, so taking a large spoon from the counter I carefully took a bite from the first dish. Finding it cold, and suspecting the others were more recently baked, I moved on. The second was scalding hot, fresh out of the oven. The third was perfectly warmed through, and I stuffed myself silly on what turned out to be a succulent pot pie of dark turkey meat, potatoes, peas, carrots and white gravy. The pie was washed down with a large draught of marvelous cucumber vodka from the refrigerator, and between the ordeal I'd been through, the heavy meal and the spirits I found myself barely able to make it back out the door. Knowing it would be suicide to pass out in the snow, I went upstairs to find a place where I could nap until I heard them come back in, at which point I would hop out a window onto the roof.

The family seemed to share the loft as its bedroom: a small bed for the child, and two separate beds for mother and father. Finding the child's bed too hard, I tried the mother's. This one was far too soft to be good for my back, so I moved on to the father's bed, where under the sheets I discovered an assortment of extremely violent pornography.

Growing concerned, I went out to their garage and slept in the attic of their carport. At first light I followed the road for a ways until it met up with the highway again, which I followed until I came across a gas station. At the first opportunity I hopped aboard a truck headed in what I presumed to be the right direction. In a few hours I looked through the slats of the cargo hold and imagine my delight as I saw that we were entering Ekaterinburg! I write you now from an underground Internet café, a hot cup of tea at my side. I intend to book a hotel for the night, freshen up, and get the lay of the land.