The Revolutionary
by Mark Goldblatt

"The chicken wings, when they arrived, had no taste..."


The moment that the Soviet Union ceased to exist hit Lyonov like a fist in the gut. He switched off CNN and cried out with such despair that his mother, to whom he was still known as Eric Weinberg, called upstairs to find out if he was injured. "No," he managed to call back. It was a heroic lie that Lyonov told. For he was injured to the core.

He had seen it coming, of course. Events since the ill-fated coup had gathered a terrible momentum, and Lyonov had begun to brace himself. He drank tepid red wine at the University Student Center, put on a brave front for the sake of his comrades, but he waited without enthusiasm for the free hors d'oeuvres to be passed in his direction. The chicken wings, when they arrived, had no taste to him. He would stare at the lukewarm meat and think to himself: "I have no reason to eat this."

But he would.

" the revolution was dead."

He would eat the lukewarm wings and drink the tepid wine and think happier thoughts. Like the time he seized the administration building. He and twelve comrades. "The Coalition" was what they called themselves. For three days and three nights, they held the building until the president -- that Fascist!--agreed not to prosecute them for the takeover. Glorious memories. And it had been his plan: Hide out in the rest rooms, wait for the last security guard to leave, then padlock the Plexiglas doors from the inside. Simple. He had argued with Glassman for weeks in advance. Glassman! He wanted to cold-cock the guard and hold him hostage! He recalled the expression on Glassman's face, the wetness about his eyes, the width of his smile, as he described how the hostage would be tied up, how he would be stashed in a closet in the president's office. "Glassman!" Lyonov spoke aloud. He was more of a danger to the revolution than . . .


But now the revolution was dead. Finished. "Kaput," he said to himself. The word sounded rotten inside his head, like spoiled fish. He slid on a denim jacket and announced to his mother that he was going for a walk; when she told him the time dinner would be served, he nodded. It was a ritual they had, he and his mother. She told him when meals would be served: he came and went as he pleased. These were the dynamics of their relationship, and he respected them. She was a good mother, he thought.


The air outside was crisp. He pulled the jacket close around his chest, a reflex, but then he let it slip open again. What was the point? The colors of Brooklyn looked grey to him. The skyline in the distance looked even greyer than the Brooklyn grey. Lyonov took short breaths and walked without a destination.



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