To Russia, with love pt. 4 Rocky After arriving in St. Petersburg, Sharikov and I made arrangements to travel by boat across Lake Ladoga to the Schlusselburg Fortress, where Vera Figner had been imprisoned for two decades. We embarked on a blustery, overcast day. Sharikov brought along an umbrella. We traveled on a grim, rusting transport ship of the sort that one might see plying the waters of the White River, if it were deep enough. My companion and I drank vodka and smoked cigars while the nautical miles passed as slowly as a tortoise trying to catch up with evolution. Between shots I glanced up and was startled to see a familiar figure: Theodore, the fascist bartender from Picasso’s: An Urban Bistro! “What are YOU doing here?” Theodore sneered. “I’m doing research in preparation for a new English translation of Vera Figner’s Memoirs of a Revolutionist. And you?” I asked. “I enjoy touring prisons — Supermaxes, Guantanamo Bay, secret CIA prisons, the Marion County Jail. While at the Schlusselburg Fortress I will, of course, make notes to forward to our wise leaders in Washington. They are always interested in learning different ways of depriving individuals of their liberty,” he replied. He then stealthily pulled a silencer-equipped gun from his coat pocket and aimed it at me. “Now that we’re here in the middle of this lake, leftist cat-radical,” he sneered, “perhaps it’s time for me to do away with you once and for all!” Just as he started to pull the trigger, Sharikov leapt forward and jabbed him with the tip of his umbrella. Theodore crumpled to the deck. “What on earth was that, Poligraph Poligraphovich?!?” I cried. “I got this umbrella at a KGB rummage sale in the early 1990s. When I jabbed him, I pulled a tiny lever in the handle and a needle emerged from the tip and injected him with a sedative. He’ll be out for a while, that’s for sure!” he laughed. “A prick for a prick!” I laughed. People began gathering around us. As if in a dream, I spotted Ms. O. to be continued ...

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