The Nevsky Wall
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Chapter 2   -  Black Raven, I'm Not Dead

June 21

‘I know I can trust you to protect them …’


His father’s words were on Viktor’s mind that day at the wall. Before he rounded the corner parapet of the fortress, he turned to see his brother cross the bridge and disappear into the city. Their meeting had gone well, he thought, as well as could be expected. But he worried about Alex, in the way that an older brother is taught to worry and watch for signs of danger. He could see the sadness that Alex still carried around with him, a sadness that shown in his eyes – troubled, weary eyes like their mother.

He and Alex had always been so different. People never took them for brothers at first meeting, though if you looked closely there was no mistaking the resemblance. They met the world at different angles, one direct and the other oblique, and it shaped the men they had become. Growing up, he protected Alex from the street toughs and school bullies, handing out beatings until the mere threat was protection enough. But he could not protect him from the events of the past few years, or keep the two of them from drifting apart. He loved his brother, but he no longer understood him. All he could do now is worry.

On his way home to the Petrograd section, Viktor passed Alexandrovsky Park and the towering iron gates of the zoo, a place where he often took his son. Vasha was keen on every kind of animal, but his favorites were the old lion and the elephant, both well past their prime but still exotic to a little boy. Viktor would lift Vasha up onto his broad shoulders so he could see eye-to-eye with the elephant. “Now he can hear me when I talk to him,” Vasha once said, and his father laughed. “With those ears, I think he can hear you from our apartment.”

Viktor turned the corner onto Bolshoi Prospekt. The block of five-story buildings had been converted in the late 20’s from a shoe factory into worker housing. The pale-yellow stucco was scaling and crumbling on a facade that was crisscrossed with a puzzle of conduits and pipes.

He entered a passage between buildings, above which the designation ‘Yard No. 5′ was partially visible through the mottled stucco. The yard was a weedy space, open to the sky and surrounded on all sides by the high walls of the apartment block. Boys were playing football, the outlines of goals painted on the north and south walls. It reminded Viktor of a prison exercise yard, but it allowed the mothers in the block to watch their children from the overlooking windows and call them in at dinnertime.

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Chapter 2   -  Black Raven, I'm Not Dead

One Response to “Chapter 2”

  1. Subin says:

    pratix mnogo dalag sms,nadiavam se niakoi da go pro4ete.Edinstveno ne moga da rabreza za6to e nujdo da e v kletka,kato toi e paraliziran taka ili ina4e ne moje da se dviji ..choveshkata jestokost e bezkraina,no nie 6te se borim za tova .LETb4S ADOPT nie xorata obichasti jivotni sme s vas i hi4 ne sme malko!!!

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