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...”
© Pavlo Shostak. Translation, 2006