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

The sky was still brightly lit as Viktor left the apartment building, but the empty playground of Yard No. 5, surrounded by its high walls, was as dark as the bottom of a well. The children had gone home, and in the upper floors, people sat by the windows that opened to the inner courtyard and took the air.

The streets in the Petrograd section were crowded with after-dinner strollers who seemed, in Viktor’s eyes, to be in an unusually friendly mood. Some spilled from a corner café, and through the open door he could hear the smoky voice of Mark Bernes singing Clouds Rose Over the City on the record player inside. He arrived at the beer hall to find two of his friends, Lev and Kirill, waiting outside the barn-like structure under a street light that couldn’t decide if it were day or night.

“Have they thrown the two of you out already?” said Viktor with a laugh.

“Kiss my Georgian ass, big man,” said Lev, and there were embraces all around. “The rest of the battalion are inside.” The guard at the door waved them through.

By day, the hall was a gymnasium for amateur boxers and wrestlers – some of the best in the city had trained there since the time of the late tsar’s grandfather. The overhead fans hadn’t worked for years and the warped wooden floors reeked of old beer, sweat and rosin. At night, the plank tables and benches were set up in long rows and the boxing ring at the far end of the hall became a bandstand. On warm nights like this, the large doors on either side of the hall were rolled open. It was a neighborhood establishment, one that catered to factory men, soldiers, ex-soldiers, off-duty policemen, and those who worked on the edges of Leningrad’s criminal underworld.

Viktor drank with his army buddies most weekends. Tonight was a special occasion, because Lev, one of his oldest friends, had been posted with his unit to the outskirts of Kiev and they were set to leave in the next few days. All of the remaining members of the 23rd Battalion had come to give their brother a proper sendoff. Lev and Viktor knew each other from school and they had been teammates on the junior squad for Zenith, the city’s premier football club, where Viktor had anchored the backline. They served together in the reserves and fought together as members of the 23rd in the Karelian campaign a year earlier.

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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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