*Title taken from the ‘Openings…You take it from here’ pamphlet distributed at the Creative Writing group during my stay at St. Patrick’s Hospital*
Yuri was irritating the fuck out of me. He never, ever shuts up, is incapable of uttering an original thought, and asks the most stupid questions I have ever heard. Sometimes I wonder if it is only I upon whom he grates so fucking infuriatingly, but then I look back at the others and see that, no, everyone in this car is sick of the bastard. How much longer would we have to be in such close proximity to the dull-witted moron?
I had peered at the map about twenty minutes ago, and reckoned that we still had a fair ol’ whack of driving to do… My estimate was pretty rough though, given that I can’t drive and didn’t really have a clue about how traffic might impact on our time. Other than that, it was about as accurate as could be. In any case, we wouldn’t be at our destination for hours an’ hours yet. Joy.
Why the fuck had I been so stupid as to call shotgun? It had basically meant that I bore the brunt of Yuri’s incessant twaddle. In the backseats, Alexei was feigning sleep, Yulia was reading a book – Doctor Zhivago, maybe? – and Petra was engrossed in the distractions of her DS. So they were out of the firing line, so to speak, while I was left with the mind-numbing task of ‘mmmm’-ing and ‘yeah’-ing at whatever bullshit was being churned in my direction. Thanks, you fuckers.
I really should have seen this coming. I know what Yuri is like, after all – we’ve been friends going back well over a decade, since we met as first-years in the Foreign Language Institute at Omsk. He prattled then, and he prattles now. I could tell he was a nice guy even then though; he was always eager to learn, and keen to make friends. Not a bad bone in his body. Polite, courteous, affable and good-natured, he was easy to like…at first. The longer you knew him, the more his less-likeable attributes would stretch your patience, but isn’t that the case with most people?
Yulia and Petra we had met in Omsk too – they had been studying at the Medical Academy, and we had bumped into them a few times independently of eachother. I on political demonstrations, Yuri at the local dives he enjoyed frequenting. We quickly befriended them, albeit for different reasons. For me, it was nice to have people with whom I could have a conversation about critical theory, U.S. imperialism, the mistakes of Stalin and the obstacles to sexual liberation in our home country. For Yuri, it was because he found the idea of being friends with lesbians unbelievably cool.
The rain was still driving down, and it was too dark to see much beyond the dual carriageway we are shooting along, so unfortunately Yuri’s brainfarts were not mitigated by the accompaniment of eye candy in the form of the landscape. I had tried the pretense of involving myself in my phone, or my laptop, or even just writing a few notes, but within a few seconds the lack of response would drive our driver to a series of attention-seeking noises. And then I would experience homicidal impulses. So it was best to continue nodding, smiling, and making vague, noncommittal, but nonetheless-encouraging sounds.
Alexei…was a new one. I didn’t know him, and was pretty sure the girls didn’t either. Yuri swears that he is a proper polkovnik – high praise in Yuriworld – and claims that nobody has a better sense of humour. This coming from the worst judge of character west of the Urals, who laughs at anything fecal. Still, the guy hadn’t stabbed any of us yet, so that was a marked improvement on the usual cunts Yuri introduced us to.
That’ll do for now; Yuri is beginning to realise that I haven’t mumbled anything in a while, so I’d better make some sort of gesture before he forces me to kill him.
Tovarishch Artem Chernov
19:30, 3rd of Ventôse, 406 RE
Solidarity, brothers & sisters…⌚