Standard paintings are hanging on the restaurantís walls: The Three Bears1 and A Slain Russian Soldier2. At the table a captain is sitting alone. "Would you mind?" I have asked. - Please come join me. "Want to smoke?" "Iím sorry, I donít smoke this brand." "Itís O.K. Have a drink! Whereís your tumbler?" "Theyíre still serving on me." "Drink! What have I just said!?" "For your health!" "Iíll be healthy regardless." "Well, I see now," the captain said, visibly drunk, "You are skillful with vodka, no questions. Have you faced machine guns or approaching tanks? Have you rushed to attack from the trenches? Forty third was a year when they sent me to Kursk3. Just made sergeant, but Kursk was a torture! I lived through quite a lot, quite a lot, lad, for you, For your safety today and in future! He was cussing my name, even brought up my dad4. He was yelling at me over dishes: "I gave all of my life for you rascal, and lad, You just wasting your life, oh youíre filthy... I would give you a rifle and send on the route! Yet youíre drinking my vodka in comfort!" I was hunkering down like in trenches of Kursk, Where this captain was only a sergeant. He and I were both getting progressively drunk. At the end of our tough conversation, I offended this captain with my last remark: "You would not get a major promotion!"5
1 A colloquial name for "Morning in a Pine Forest" by Ivan Shishkin.
2 Probably a colloquial name of a painting by Viktor Vasnetsov "After Prince Igorís Battle".
3 The Battle of Kursk was one of the largest and important engagements between German and Soviet forces in WW2.
4 Not a small talk. Captain is asking his opponent what his dad was doing during the war.
5 "You would never get a major promotion!" would be more accurate there.
© Kirill Tolmachev. Translation, 2020