|Stalin's Haystack (standard:other, 1445 words)|
|Author: Professor||Added: Nov 14 2001||Views/Reads: 2000/1263||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|The child shrieked and released his biting mouth from Yuriís calf. It took one blow from his rifle butt to crack the childís head like a turtle shell. In his pantís pocket, Yuri felt the childís picket-pocket hands tremble, then go limp. Yuriís own hands,|
Stalin's Haystack The child shrieked and released his biting mouth from Yuri's calf. It took one blow from his rifle butt to crack the child's head like a turtle shell. In his pant's pocket, Yuri felt the child's picket-pocket hands tremble, then go limp. Yuri's own hands, muddy from pushing the diesel truck, were now stained with blood. He heard voices from underneath the truck. "Come Yuri," they screamed. More of the starving stumbled from the fields toward Yuri. Open mouths. Long pale arms extended. Gun-shots rang out, coming from underneath the truck. Dropping the child's corpse, Yuri scurried to join Leo and Viktor. At the side of the truck, Yuri dropped and rolled underneath. Leo grabbed the boy. "I warned you," he coughed, "You should not have gone to that haystack." Several of Leo's backhands left Yuri's face tender. He cried into a grain sack. Leo snored and Viktor kept watch. Viktor's only previous trip to the Ukraine had been through the stories of his late father. His father had spoke of Odessa at the dawn of the century. Fruit from the Mediterranean. Turkish cloth. Man-sized sturgeon from the Black Sea. In 1931, Viktor was allured by this splendor. Instead he saw only grey. Grey rotting piles outside agricultural stations. Yellow grey swollen bellies on roadsides. Grey mucky earth that kept their truck from reaching the weigh station. At dusk, Leo had insisted they stop the truck. He held a higher rank than Viktor. Leo said he saw grain flowing from the side of truck's payload. Stopping the truck, Leo and Viktor inspected the plank-board box for leaks. Leo summoned Yuri and ripped the sleeves from his ceremonial uniform, stuffing the fabric into the tiny holes. "Tonight, you have made him proud," boasted Leo, pointing to the patch of Stalin sewn on Yuri's cap. Leo threw Yuri's cap into the air and tousled the boy's chestnut hair. Yuri caught the hat and smiled. The truck didn't move again that night. Viktor could no longer feel the warmth from the diesel engine above them. Yuri was sobbing. "Little Yuri," breathed Viktor, "are you awake?" Yuri rolled over, his face crimson and blotchy. "Leo was right about the haystack." The boy nodded. He looked not at Viktor directly. After working on freeing the truck, Yuri asked Leo if he could sleep on a nearby haystack. "That is Stalin's haystack, and you will not crease one stalk of that hay, roach!" he had barked. After Leo had fallen asleep, Viktor watched Yuri grab a rifle, slip from beneath the truck and nestle into the dry haystack. He regretted not grabbing the boy. Viktor had promised to protect Yuri. Six months ago, Viktor arrested a man in Moscow. The man was a factory worker, charged with threatening his supervisor. He also drank too much. In an interrogation room, he told Viktor he was a widower and that his son would have no one to protect him. Viktor promised. Yuri's father died two weeks ago. Viktor was stationed in Kiev when he first heard. Bedding in stinking barracks, Red Army soldiers often exchanged tall-tales as they drank bootleg swill. One soldier spoke up. " When I was at the Volga Canal project, I watched a man sink and drown in a mold of wet cement." "It's no wonder," poked another soldier. "You had his boot on his head." Click here to read the rest of this story (123 more lines)
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