Sergey Streltsov.

The Girl in Blue.



Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

Revelation 2:4


Winter of 1983 came as regular providential gift to London. It was not too cold, and not completely without fun. Life rolled in its groove, and splendid routine of Metropolis shed light of immortal glory to natives and strangers in heaping handfuls, blessing her adepts and apologists with feeling that they are moving in full swing to explore something new and absolutely unexpected in area of rock, disco, politics and literature.

Soviets were, as always, on verge of beginning new war in Latin America, not satisfied with their ups and downs in Afghanistan. Eastern Europe was boiling to establish new democracy on her own. It was great time for dissidents, postmodernist painters, writers with worldwide appeal for freedom and popularity. Hippies were on decline, punks were on rise. And the whole planet was looking stable, especially if to compare to that of now-a-days. Even terrorists then had their limits, and were popular with leftists and those who then were called fellow travelers the term from Lenin.

Sir William Crasnough, old Tory with long run of battles in House of Common, who recently came to feel at home in governmental financial structures, entered the room of his son with unusual for him bright face, but with quite usual for him Rise and Shine! exclamation. Tony his son, lazy young painter-to-be of twenty two, whose lessons in Paris and Florence cost a fortune and werent expected to redress the expenses, was half sleeping half reading according to his custom. The book now was The artistic methods of Gainsborough and was issued that summer by Bloomsbury.

What the ho, father? he asked.

Breaking the news, we move to Moscow for one year, I think.

I would not advocate such a rush.

Interparliamentary committee is about to be built up in the next month. Andropov wants a loan.

God bless him, father. Everybody now wants the cursed thing.

He is special.

Then lets look to it.

So get packing, dear.

In two weeks they left Londons habitually soft winter and flew to face Moscows cruel one. The old and great Russian capital met them with fresh nipping frost, ice-crusted ground, and propagandistic posters everywhere. Men and women of blooming health looked down from billboards declaring something in Cyrillic. Mercedes from some domestic diplomatic organization delivered them to the three-room suite in Hotel Ukraina. Sir William was smashed by stony faces of Muscovites and in the same time their stark cheap and quite from another the epoch clothes almost made Tony laugh. Driver attached to them by Soviet party, with too good English for driver and of stark military bearing, explained to these guests of Politburo their rights and obligations. When he had finished Old Crasnough patted his shoulder when showing him off.

Goddamn you boys and your stupid rules. We will live how we like. And its none of your business. If you dont agree you may kiss on your way home your Lenins cheek.

Driver said his good-bye something uneasily.

Why are you so rude with this dolly? Tony asked his father hinting to rosy complexion of this Soviet man.

They want our money, no other way round rot. So why dont make them to know their place.

But this dolly, he is just poor poop out of state-machine. Besides, I suppose our rooms are tightly bugged.

If you want to go on this way you also may come and kiss Lenin, dear.

Russian authorities showed abnormal indulgence to escapades of Sir William, they swallowed every bit of it with fantastic tolerance and only on very rare occasions summoned up courage for retorts of childish innocence. Tony the same time had his own entertainments. He acquainted with some of Moscow painters. It was friendly and benevolent society. All official doors were closed to them, and they made their living as street cleaners, outlaw currency dealers and night watchmen. Those who tried to assert their standing with State had often loony-bin records where they were regularly put by KGB. It was mostly half educated people strongly opinionated about their art, major role in which played protest but not the tendency to perfection. Tony acquired small command of Russian, quite enough to buy cheap Osobaya Vodka, called by everybody as Andropovka. Tony even found the place to satisfy his new-borne thirst for work. It was spacious studio in the attic on Gogolevsky Boulevard, the property of his new friend Boris Radov. Boris was famous not for his artistry, but for his access to drugs. People were buying through Radovs hemp and Omnopon, the mix of different narcotics known abroad as Pontopon. He had his pot of money in Russian, American and European currencies and had modern VW, while his father, KGB general, had only old Lada, Russian copy of Fiat. But not only hemp linked Tony to this attic. There permanently lived Boris sister Lida, pretty girl of nineteen. She studied history of arts in Moscow University and her old-fashioned and unobtrusively religious company engulfed Tonys heart and soul. She kept lot of icons in her snug girlish room. There always were tea and cakes, and, being true sister of her brother in her views on old and modern arts, she was great difference in almost all other aspects, for example she never even tested the hemp, no use to talk about more serious drugs. Their father, who lived separately already for long time, was widower with good appetite for easily accessible women. He was happy that he would go ahead without his children, who were always considered by him as burden. He knew about business of his son, but nothing had been done about it by him and as his son thought nothing would, for old cat didnt liked be involved in his and his sisters lives anyhow.

New canvases were made out by Tonys hand in dazzling pace. He even invented special hallmark for them, which was borrowed from smart joke of Boris, his artistic host. Tony signed them not as Anthony Crasnough but in somewhat Russian way as Anton Krasnov.

The romantic relationship with Lida shortly got course to something serious. Tony was stupefied by her warm-hearted attitude to any trifling on his side. Love just crept into their midst. In the middle of the summer Tony asked Lida a permission to write her portrait. In three evening sessions it was done. The picture was named The Girl In Blue.

The next move was obviously to propose. Tony had to talk about it with his father. The morning talk on this subject provided gunpowder for new outburst of Sir William anger.

If you about to get me with this your dash of latest, I must say the following, your allowance to be cut off and youre heir no more.

Why this absolutelyI dont know what.

This your stupid girl will be of yours only if signed with KGB their regular damned deal. No more spies in my family. Your mother was last. She was of proper British blood. But divorce! It cost me figures!

Poor mother.

Poor?! Now rich, my boy. Now you get packing, and see you next in London, or I said my will. Money or girl. Cheer up, my boy. Or Ill be hanged.

Then in the next year Tony, always obedient son, was married off to American girl from some of fathers connections. His new wife was blonde philosopher with degree and from family of movie makers. Her grandfather was script writer who remembered golden age of MGM. Father was director once awarded in Cannes. Mother was decorator. The short but decisive counsel of his new relatives sentenced Tony to pick up career in producing of sitcoms in itty-bitty but hopeful company. No protests were heard from him. But artistic flame in his eyes was about to die for good. He was profoundly depressed by his ruthful fate. And with his mind stuck to nothing he started to stamp out foolish serials heading to upper chairs in this, as it happened, very fast-growing TV-institution. His natural ingenuity made kind of little marvel to him. His works had always struck high in the rating charts. Suddenly he made a name in the industry. Placidness and tastelessness of his new life had its mark on his face that turned stale and almost deprived of former personality. He was now one of many, just the man out of the crowd. He was quietly drinking away the rest of his time on the earth, and it had taste of whiskey and beer. He always felt tired of his work, of his wife and her family. The only lively moment of these years was funeral service when his father died. On pedestal under his bust of bronze, Sir William ordered to be written: Im gone, boys! But gonna be back on Doomsday! See ye.

When marriage of Tonys scored its twenty years, his wife made her final approach to make him a wise man. Lureen, it was her name, fired off, as was her custom from childhood.

You think youre young and bright and with stock in the sock. And all your friends about the house...

I thought its your friends.

Youre ass if theyre mine.

What do you want, darling?

A divorce. And quick one. And never to hear from you.

Youre right. Bright idea. Im leaving for London. And say to your lawyer No! just kiss him on my behalf. I love this chaps. Quite angels of mercy and God bless em twice. Theyre deserving the thing.

Door slammed behind Lureen.

In Tonys private opinion America associated with noise, that of air-conditioners, fans, and computers, not to count cars, aircrafts, and engines everywhere. He packed collection of his books and videos, some most beloved ties and trusting their safety to UPS, moved to London to his sister Dorothy, who was left to their mother after the divorce of their parents. Among new magazines and leaflets in her house he found the one dedicated to opening of exhibition of most famous painters of late Soviet era. Between familiar names he was shocked as by lightning by his own hallmark Anton Krasnov. Beneath of it was photo of The Girl in Blue.

He hailed taxi and rushed to the gallery. When he had entered into its edifice he heard sound of rock ballad. The words were the next:


Back to the Russia I flew in my dream.

What I have seen?

What can be seen?

Lenin and Kremlin together at night.

Lights to be bright.

Minds to be bright.


Power-brokers, democracys prime.

Life on the dime.

Death for the dime.


Music was dreamy and fantastic hello from his past, and feeling of what it conveyed to him was too familiar. He had asked at information stall where to find organizers and was told to get along to gallerys office. When Tony opened its oak door he saw there woman, with her back to turned to him.

Hello. I beg your pardon where I can found Russian party of exhibition.

Woman turned her face to him. It was she his old passion, Russian miracle, hope that often returned to expel spirits of sheer despair and sulkiness of last years.


Tony, dear. How the things?

Now divorcing.

Glad to hear.

How is Boris?

Died in Amsterdam. Heroin finally had him, after short pause she explained her reason of being here. Now I am an art dealer down in Moscow.


No. Already divorced.

Happy to see you, old girl.

Many thanks.

Tony paused a little, but then lightened up as gotten over by something Heavenly-borne and completely unexpected. However awkward it may seem he must dare the thing, or who knows how many years it could take to repair old faults. Understanding that it looks more stupid than not, he said.

I mean would we have another go.

What a go?

To marriage.

Sounds funny.

Finally, the good old fate will have a chance to grant us with her blessing.

I see it little differently.

We wont able to be happy?

Only if youll behave.

Thats what I think.
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