On that restaurant’s walls were cheap paintings,
Like “Three bears” and “The Stabbed Musketeer”.
All alone, at a table sat the captain.
“May I join you?” - I asked - “Sure, sit here.”
He said “Smoke.” - “No, I don’t like the "Kazbek".” -
“Well, then drink! Let me get you a glass...
Screw the waiting, the service is crazy,
Fight the bottle, here is to your health.”
“Very well”, - he went on, a bit frazzled, -
“You can belt out vodka all right,
But are you man enough to fight panzers?
Would you know how to handle a rifle?
In 1943 I did service in Kursk,
A lieutenant, I fought with persistence,
So that you...“ - at this point he extensively cursed -
“Could enjoy an untroubled existence!”
Then he got mad and drunken and asked ‘bout my dad,
Then he yelled, bluntly clasping a table knife:
“I have suffered a lot, I could well end up dead,
So that you, bastard, now lead a fast life!
How about” - he’d shout - “we finish this course
And dispatch you to war, how’d you take it!?”
And I felt very much under siege, like in Kursk,
Where the captain had been a lieutenant.
When the meeting had finally come to an end,
He was still drinking liquor and raging.
I offended him badly, I said “Sorry, cap,
I don’t think you will ever be major...”