An Essay-Werewolf. Joanna's Page 28
An Essay-Werewolf. Joanna's Page 28
And at night she asked God to interfere and work a miracle.
A miracle appeared before the investigator in the person of Victor Karpov who was a fourteen-year-old son of director of Cherkassky state farm. He told that that ill-fated day he and his friend Gennady availed themselves of the opportunity that his father had gone fishing with bosses and decided to secretly ride by father's car 'Pobeda'. Of course, they didn't have driving permit. In order to pass a post of traffic police at the highway boys decoded to take a short cut along a forest country road. Victor knew that his father once used that road, which was worked by a tractor.
At first things were good, but then the car stuck in a rut, started skidding, and sank more and more deeply. Then weather was becoming worse, twilights were coming near, and Victor's father whom he feared to death should have come back tonight. Boys were in full despair, but fate had pity on them and sent them a lonely skier who had driving permit, athletic body-built and sympathetic heart. He told boys to break fir twigs and push the car; he got into the driving seat, and after messing about for an hour and a half, they at last pull the car out snowy captivity to the highway.
Denis got into the driving seat, and they went to the village of Cherkasskoye. Founding out that Denis was a producer and knowing father's passion for art workers, Victor asked Denis very much to accompany them to their home and, if father had returned already, put out fire of father's anger by his own authority, inventing a probable story on their way there.
They invented such a story/ at the crossing Denis went out of the car to see whether his skis that had been bound to the car's trunk by his handkerchief were on its right place and there he was noticed by a railway switchwoman.
Senior Karpov turned out to be not at home. The car was safely put into a garage. Denis put on his skis, said good-bye to boys and ran to the station of Cherkasskaya where he got on an electric train.
All those facts were checked by the investigator, and everything corresponded to them, so Gradov proved his alibi. He couldn't drag Simkin along the ravine by his scarf.
All of that was reported to Yana by Khan who urgently called her to his office. He told that after his talk to the investigator Gradov found junior Karpov in a pool, knowing that he went there every day for training. He told that defending Victor he got into trouble and asked him to go to the investigator and told it like it was.
Listening to Victor, checking and comparing the facts, the investigator again visited Korzhi and cleared out that one woman really saw a skier looking like George Pushko soon after two at that ill-fated day who for some reason didn't go to his fancy woman but rushed from her yard to the forest. There wasn't a snowstorm yet. And visibility was perfect.
Khan told that the essay wasn't set up yet, and that Yana needed to come to the investigator's office right now where George Pushko and his fancy woman were invited too.
George didn't come to the conversation, but his fancy woman confirmed that he visited her that day. He asked for a bottle of wine and a pair of salted cucumbers and immediately ran away to his people. The deceased Simkin after drinking too much hoped to get hold of some alcohol in Korzhi but their shop didn't work at weekends. Then George let out a secret that he had a friend dairymaid here who had some alcohol. So the deceased Simkin asked him to buy a bottle at her place.
They drank two glasses, ate cucumbers and went to the station along the ravine. Then all those things happened: a storm and a stone. He returned to her and said that Simkin was wounded; he broke his head against a stone and probably died. He asked her to keep silence because it was he who brought the bottle.
The investigator said, "Because of your silence Gradov got into trouble, and they were going to exclude him from the Young Communist League."
Then the investigator was called to the phone from a next room.
"Do you love George?" Yana tried to save her faith in humanity by justifying this woman.
"How can I love that ass and drunkard? I don't need drunkards from the city; we have enough rural ones. All of them are asses and shits. And your Simkin is the same; it serves him right.'
Such a miracle it was, and Yana didn't know what to do: to be happy or to cry. Denis was cleansed and saved, but her own life collapsed because she doubted him and now was unworthy of him and would never forgive herself.
Now everything seemed to be mystical for her - the fact that she so quickly and blindly believed in his guilt; she believed the editorial staff, the investigator, George, his fancy woman and herself.
She thought, 'That was because he is a stranger but they are friends. Suppose my essay were published already and had to do with a murder?
He had a terrible and nasty feelings; she had support neither in them who tempted her to slander Denis, nor in herself who slandered him, nor in him who was slandered by all of them. It was as if somebody's strong arm pushed her boat. The world, which was so reliable, clear and firm, began to swing. The boat took on water and slowly went to the bottom.
It was not a fall but a submersion together with a boat by somebody's almighty will when oxygen in lungs would finish, then a few second of agony would follow, and then - an unknown state.
Her submersion went on in the office of Khan who wasn't very surprised by her report for some reason.
"This is the result of bad check of facts. You were born with a silver spoon in your mouth, but I, when I was a staff reporter," and he told a story, from which Yana who were immersed in her own thoughts didn't understand a word. Khan's senseless words were going out of his mouth like soap bubbles and burst in the office that was filled with tobacco smoke.
Then Khan said that Pushko always had been a worthless person and remembered an appropriate story, and again his senseless phrases were soundlessly flying into nonexistence, and Yana died from disgust to herself, dreaming to fall to the bottom and feel nothing - not to exist at all.
'It is a sacrifice of my personal happiness in the name of truth and in the name of infinitely greater things.'
Infinitely great things and truth turned out to be a negative value, a lie and a disgusting werewolf, and it was she who begot that werewolf but he punished her. She felt she was dying, and her awareness that she was dying in the name of the werewolf that was begot by her was particularly unbearable. Her sacrifice turned out to be not only unjustified but reminded of a sinister snare. A lure with a hook pulled her out of existence and precipitated her into the underworld. And the fact that the rehabilitation of Denis was directly proportional to her fall only reinforced mystical hopelessness of the things that had happened.
The more she tried to be glad for Denis, the more horrible her own fall was, and there was no place for gladness. Her own hopeless egoism and awareness that she couldn't be glad for it finished her off.
"Yes, I'm hearing, Andrey Romanovich. The article must be changed."
"Do it right now. The material should be set up and published. This cause is extraordinary. Pushko is our employee, and we must react in proper time and in a right way. Bad things happened to your boy. It seems as if we justified Pushko. It seems that you are glad for boy. But now we must think about our newspaper's reputation. Sit down and do it right now."
She didn't understand at once what Khan wanted her to do, but when she understood it, the necessity to rewrite her essay according to the new circumstances didn't seem her to be a bad thing. Why not? Her essay-werewolf could be written this way and according to what the truth was. Today there was one truth, tomorrow there would be another. Everyone had his own truth. And did it exist at all?
As for fictional peculiarities of her essay, it was another pair of shoes. They could be kept because they were imperishable. Any picture of truth could fit to them. In his hands Khan had red and brown pencils. With a red one he encircled the things that could be kept. The detective beginning of the story was kept where boys found frozen Simkin; all nature descriptions, the scene of Leonid's death and moral discussions were kept too. The only thing was that Denis was replaced by George Pushko, and not influence of strange moral values but depravity and hard drinking were declared as reasons of cowardly and treacherous egocentrism.
"It is better not to mention Denis at all - let him go to Vlasovo. And we also won't betray that boy with his father's car. But you must seriously work with Pushko, write about all of that again, keeping the best fragments describing Denis' psychological condition, remaking them regarding to Pushko.
Khan hurried her, rubbed his hands, encouraged and wrote something by red and brown pencils, and something really good came out of it. At his request Lyuda brought some tea with pies, then he left Yana alone, and she felt better. The work began to carry her away, though something bad and tricky was in it; it reminded Yana of something. But self-examination made her sick. She cruelly tormented Lyuda's typewriter by her two fingers, and something good came of it, as Khan said. She would only have to retype it, adding something and remaking conversations with swollen and almost insane George who was caught at last. He only nodded, hiccupped and confessed everything, adding that he knew that Leonid was dead as early as at that night. And that his fancy woman, leaving him drunk in the hut, put on her kerchief, quilted jacket and skis, took her sledge and in a snowstorm went by herself through the field and reached the stone in the ravine. She could hardly find Leonid who became numb and was covered with snow and then came back through the same field.
Therefore, that woman became a heroine. In Yana's essay a positive moment appeared and a cause for gladness for women in Russian villages.
George was fired from his work, but he would soon appear in the staff of the magazine 'The Soviet Woman'. The essay was published and recieved a lot of responses, and nobody guessed that it was an essay-werewolf.