Sunday, April 20, 2014

Vodkaberg: The Lost Chapter

Here's a chapter that was excised from the first draft of VODKABERG. This story originally appeared on my Angelfire blog back in 2003 (but that doesn't exist anymore.)

(And just as a little Easter present, here's a coupon to get it for 50 percent off on Smashwords:)

Coupon Code: ZE36X
Expires: May 1, 2014

The girl in question referred to as Lenka is the girl I last saw again in America in 2012; she's currently studying for her PhD there. (Guess that would make her the most highly-educated person I know, if perhaps not the smartest.)

The story, and any threads connected to her, although interesting, were removed just to keep the already large number of female characters down a bit. She'll get a write up in my next memoir, though, definitely.

The teacher referred to as "Aaron" married the Russian girl he met in Vodkaberg; they went back to New Zealand and she recently had a baby.

Oh, by the way, Slappy just had another baby, still living somewhere in the Balkans; what did the great philosopher say about doing the same dumb shit again and again and expecting a different result?

* * * 


During a pleasant warm weekend in September (2004), we went on a camping trip.

We crossed the river about 4:00 pm on Saturday afternoon, then hiked for about fifteen minutes to a sort of lake area that was indeed pretty nice.

The crew was me, Slappy and his wife, an English groupie named Lenka, African Student S and this couple that Slappy had met at the outdoor music festival,a sort of a stoner hippie alterna- couple, all tattooed and dreadlocked. (This was exceedingly rare in Russia at that time.)

Slappy had met the male half of this pair when they were both detained and lengthily searched by the police for looking like such druggies. They'd bonded talking about their tattoos.

I didn't like the guy from jump – he greeted African Student S and I with "Heil Hitler." Slappy said this was supposed to be a joke about America.

“Fucking hilarious,” I said.

We hung out by the lake, drank a bit, swam in the lake (though it was as green as Mountain Dew), and ate grilled chicken and macaroni and bean soup over our campfire.

Me, Lenka, Slappy's Wife, Slappy, African Student S

Later that night, Aaron arrived, with his 16-year-old girlfriend, another Russian girl and three Russian teenage boys.

They'd brought plenty of vodka, of course, and then somehow when we started drinking it, about five or six people from other camps nearby came over to join us.

African Student S and a Russian sunset 
In short, it turned into a huge loud raucous chaotic gathering. I was getting tired of answering all those same fucking questions – "Where are you from?" "Why do you stay in Vodkaberg?" and so on – and Lenka and I repaired into the tent to fool around a bit.

About 3:00am I heard Slappy shouting at the hippie stoner guy not to ever touch his wife again. Apparently the guy had grabbed his wife's vagina or something while hugging her. Slappy certainly shouted the guy down, whatever happened – the guy didn't protest back much.

Next day we woke up around 9:00 and of course started drinking vodka and beer again with a quick breakfast of ramen noodles and tuna.

The stoner guy had been up all night drinking and was kind of mouthy and obnoxious, and doing quite a good job of rubbing me and Aaron the wrong way.

Slappy was already incoherently drunk too. The stoner greeted our African friend yet again in the morning with "Heil Hitler!" which led to me laughing hysterically and screaming "Heil Hitler! Oh my god that's funny!" in Russian repeatedly in a sarcastic sort of way.

Aaron, Slappy, African Student S and I walked to the village (about a thirty minute walk) to buy some more beer and food and fill our water jugs – it was a town of shacks and wooden cottages, rimmed with piles of garbage that were never going to be cleared away, and we saw a few goats wandering around.
Me and "Lenka"

“In the movies, this is the part where the shopkeeper directs us to the farm owned by the cannibalistic hillbillies,” I pointed out.

The people in the shops couldn't have been nicer to us, though, smiling with their metal teeth and welcoming us to the area.

When we got back, the stoner immediately, without asking, grabbed the vodka bottle and began pouring drinks for everyone.

Aaron was finally exhausted with the Russian stoner’s mooching , and as it happens was a 220-pound kickboxing enthusiast. He began lecturing the stoner on manners, which I crudely translated.
The stoner began cursing about fascist foreigners who didn't know anything about Russian etiquette, that vodka was to be shared with anyone.

Aaron replied that if he felt that way, he should go buy some vodka and share it with us, as we'd already shared ours. The stoner was very drunk and retreated to his sleeping bag shouting curses and said something rude about New Zealand which I didn't quite catch.

Aaron marched over holding the bottle by the neck. It looked as if he'd be sharing the vodka with him after all, probably via his rectal cavity.

"You are playing a dangerous game, pal," I said to the stoner in Russian. ("Ti igrayish ochen opasnaya igra, chuvak!")

Slappy, in a strangely responsible move, told Aaron to give the guy a break.

Aaron threateningly pulled the covers off the guy ... the guy was panickedly groping for the kitchen knife ...

and then Aaron calmly poured him a vodka and said, "Enjoy."

Anyway, the stoner curled up and went to sleep soon after, so the rest of us just relaxed for the rest of the afternoon.

“He’s not really much worse than Slappy,” I pointed out to Aaron after Slappy had passed out drunk. “Slappy curses constantly, insults everyone when drunk, and mooches off everybody all the time."

“Well, he’s our mooching foul-mouthed asshole," Aaron said. "We hardly know that guy.”

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