I am a tall and handsome lad, For this I thank my mom and dad. With folks Iím cool, not easily read, not easily led. I didnít bust my back, walked straight, My life was simple, nothing great, And every day I used my hands to help my head. But there were lies and there were laws: Five hundred miles and no one close, There was a room, a poster: Please Respect Our Time. They eat you live and add no salt, They stamp you blindly, with no halt, They seal a parcel, send you off the city line1. I did my term and then went home, With seven years that hang like stones. They cling to you, itís hard to dump them, hard to sell. But soon I met the glibbest boss, Who was recruiting for a cause To drive big trucks to the Ural3 and get paid well. The road and there now sits our truck, Up to the eyeballs we are stuck. Itís now pitch black. My partnerís talk has ceased. I wish heíd yell. Be damned this sight! Five hundred left, five hundred right, But he is clattering the Saber Dance5 with teeth! We both knew well about this route, The need for trucks was quite acute, Our task was simple: start and drive through night and day. But what the heck! The New Yearís night! Five hundred left, five hundred right, Through snow we honk in vain, but help is far away! "Turn off the engine!" my friend says, "And let this truck be burned in flames! You see yourself: thereís nothing left for us to catch! You see yourself: five hundred miles, Tonight thereíll be just snowy isles, Weíll disappear, weíll be buried in this patch!" And I replied: "Now stop this stench!" But he just grabbed a socket wrench. A wolfish look (he sometimes is a hard-boiled one). But what of him? Five hundred miles, The strongest one will stay alive, Will have a point to prove when all is said and done! He was much closer than my fam, He ate with comfort from my palm, But now he stares at me, and chills go down my spine. But what of him? Five hundred miles, And who will add to paper files, That he forgot that Iím his friend, and he was mine?! He disappeared without a bleep. I let it go and fell asleep, I had a dream regarding our amusing trip: As if itís true: five hundred miles, Iím looking for a way to drive, There is no exit, just an entrance to the deep. ...The end was dull: a tractor came. They brought a doctor, brought a chain. The truck delivery was finally complete. And then he came, one shaky son... But soon thereíll be another run, I donít hold grudges, I will take him on a trip!
1 In the original: Mozhaysk, a town in Moscow region. A colloquial phrase that later became replaced by a similar one: To be send past the 101st kilometer (to be forcibly moved by authorities away from the city). Originated during the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympics when all "undesirable elements", such as known loiterers, prostitutes, and alcoholics, were moved beyond this boundary to improve the cityís image. Former inmates were also prohibited to settle closer than 100 km from urban centers.
© Kirill Tolmachev. Translation, 2019