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‘What was that?’ asked Mrs. Handoversky.
‘Nothing, just a dog in heat,’ her husband replied.
‘On the thirteenth floor?’
‘Of course, don’t we live on the thirteenth floor? Keep your voice down and eat, you’re upsetting the children.’
‘That was a knock,’ said Mrs. Handoversky, her voice trembling like it does when she makes love.
The entire family froze around the dinner table. Everyone was staring at the father and husband.
‘It is just the stray dog, didn’t I tell you, Anichka, not to feed that damnable thing?’
‘I’m certain that was a human knock though, dear.’
‘At ten thirty at night?’
‘Who is it, daddy?’
‘You see? Now you are scaring the children. It is no one, dear, it is just a hungry dog, you remember the one we saw on the way up, the new one.’
‘Which one daddy?’
‘The new one.’
Knock! Knock! Knock! Knock!
‘Now the dog is pounding, dear. Maybe you should go and kick it,’ said Mrs. Handoversky.
‘It will go away, it is confused, has the wrong apartment probably.’
‘The dog has the wrong apartment?’
‘Why not? Aren’t animals stupid or something?’
Knock! Knock! Thump! Thump!
‘But dear it’s bothering me. Maybe you should go and scare it away. Please go and scare it away.’
Mr. Handoversky looked at his wife as if she was a drunken bum in his way. ‘Why?’
‘It will wake the neighbors and you don’t want Mr. Borin after you in the morning.’
‘Don’t be naïve.’
‘What does that mean?’
‘This is the Soviet Union. Knocks at night mean only one thing.’
‘Put the children to bed.’
Mrs. Handoverskaya put the children to bed but the knocking and pounding persisted and the children were scared and could not go to sleep.
‘Open the door, dear.’
Mr. Handoversky sighed and went to the door, ‘Who’s there!’
There was no answer.
‘You see, no one is there, it was just our imagination; I thought it was. We always were good daydreamers and it seems we passed it on to our children too. We are a family of dreamers.’
‘Who the hell is there?’ screamed Mrs. Handoversky, clearly tormented by the suspense. The sudden outburst shocked her husband.
‘You see, it is a dog and they can’t answer. Let’s go to sleep, I feel like, you know,’ whispered Mr. Handoversky fondling his wife’s left breast, hunting for the sacred nipple. He preferred her left breast to the right one. She had been resentful but in time learned to live with it.
‘Open the door, dear.’ She was pleading.
‘You know that isn’t a good idea. It is dark in the corridor and I can’t see for certain through the peephole if it is just one dog or a pack of dogs. It might be dangerous to open the door.’
‘It isn’t dogs, dear. It is definitely a human knock.’
‘Then why don’t they answer when we ask who it is?’
Knock! Thump! Thump! Knock!
‘I don’t know, dear.’
The sound was driving his wife mad, but the fact that her husband preferred to let things be, (a clear sign of masculine impotency in the eyes of a woman), was much more than she could bear, and it drove Mrs. Handoverskaya over the brink of what was expected.
She opened the door. Before them stood two men dressed in black leather from toe to toe; just as Mr. Handoversky had suspected: KGB.
‘Hello Comrade,’ said the first ignoring the wife and looking down at his tattered notebook, ‘Comrade Handoversky, may we come in for a moment? It will only be a moment.’
Mr. Handoversky manufactured a portentous look at his wife. ‘Please do come in, we were just about to sit down to a bottle of vodka, would you like to join us?’
‘How very kind of you, but that is not the purpose of our visit. May we?’
‘Yes please. Here are some slippers for you, please come into the drawing room,’ said Mr. Handoversky. In the back of his mind he was hoping that they hand only come for his wife, for her obligatory massage duty, a duty every Soviet woman was obligated to perform for officials.
‘You are a very exceptional citizen, Mr. Handoversky,’ one of the KGB men said. They both looked like priests.
‘You have never been arrested.’
‘Of course not.’
‘And this you are proud of?’
‘Should I be?’
‘This is 2044; in these difficult times no one is innocent in the Soviet Union. Our leaders blame illegal Western psychology.’
‘I never thought about it like that.’
‘You are being much too modest, Comrade,’ said the other, shyly hiding behind his eyelashes. His armpits smelled putrid, the usual smell. It made them feel at home.
‘As it turns out, you are the last unarrested man in the Soviet Union, Comrade Handoversky, we have the documents to prove it if you wish to come to the station and read them.’
‘What about my wife?’
‘She was arrested a long time ago, in 2012, for reading the biography of George W. Bush.’
‘Impossible, she was only two years old at the time.’
‘It doesn’t matter. The book was in her possession and she was arrested.’
‘I am rehabilitated now,’ Mrs. Handoverskaya pleaded.
‘We are aware of that Comrade Handoverskaya, congratulations. We are not here for you.’
Mrs. Handoverskaya sighed a breath of relief and sat down on the edge of the sofa.
‘We are here for your husband. Don’t you find it suspicious that he has never been arrested? Especially so, when every other citizen in the Soviet Union has been?’
‘Now that you mention it, I do,’ she answered, glancing irritably at her husband, ‘I knew there was something strange about you, after our first child was born.’
‘But let’s get to the point, shall we, we have come to do you a favor.’
‘If, Comrade, you would like to be arrested, we would be only too happy to make all the necessary arrangements, we have lots of experience. Between the two of us we have made over seven thousand arrests.’
‘But I haven’t done anything.’
‘What do you think of the present regime?’
‘No, Misha don’t ask him that question,’ his partner said.
‘But it is our only chance.’
‘What is our only chance?’ asked Mr. Handoversky.
‘Well, if you wish to be like everyone else and be arrested, Mikhail Borisovich here is willing to sacrifice himself in order to help you. But I don’t see why he should. It is after all your responsibility Comrade Handoversky.’
‘How else can we meet our quota,’ complained Mikhail Borisovich to his partner.
‘I don’t follow,’ said Mr. Handoversky, ‘but if he wishes to sacrifice himself then let him, I’m sure he will be rewarded for it.’
‘True enough. Go ahead, then,’ sighed Mikhail Borisovich’s partner.
‘What do you think of the current regime, Comrade?’
‘The same as you do.’ It was the standard answer.
Both KGB officers smiled. ‘Then we will have to place you under arrest.’
‘Congratulations,’ said the other. ‘You are the last man to be arrested in the Soviet Union. This is a historic moment in the history of humanity.’
‘I still don’t follow. How can I be under arrest if I haven’t done anything?’
‘You just committed a crime, not to mention admitting to committing a crime.’
‘To slander and insulting the regime and to counterrevolutionary and subversive terrorization against the state.’
‘No I haven’t.’
‘You are a dangerous man.’
‘No I’m not.’
‘Yes you are, you just said that you think the regime is idiotic and absurd and should be crushed and destroyed. Very serious words, punishable by death, if I’m not mistaken.’
‘I didn’t say any such thing.’
‘You implied it.’
‘You admitted to feeling the same as I do.’
‘Yes but I didn’t know that that is how you felt.’
‘That is not my fault, now is it?’ the KGB man said.
‘Alright then, but if you think badly of the regime than shouldn’t you be arrested too?’
‘I have already been arrested. And anyway, I arrested you first so you have to go along with it.’
‘I don’t see why.’
‘How else do you expect to be arrested, Comrade Handoversky? Do you expect some innocent fellow to arrest you? You will be waiting forever for that.’
Mr. Handoversky didn’t like to be rushed into anything and felt the two KGB officers were becoming pushy and arrogant. ‘I’ll think about it.’
‘Comrade, there really is nothing to think about.’
‘We are offering you the chance of a lifetime.’
‘Really?’ asked Mr. Handoversky.
‘Yes, really. Think long and hard and if you are serious about being arrested, then you can fill in this application and meet us at eight o’clock Monday morning, at the main Police Station, you know the one on Lenin Street?’
‘I know it.’
‘And from there we will begin the process of filing the arrest, okay?’
‘I don’t know. Why rush things? We have all the time in the world. I should probably think about it and talk it over with my wife.’
‘All the time in the world? Comrade you are thirty-five years old, you will be dead in the next couple of years from old age. It would be an insult to the people of the Soviet Union if you were to die an innocent man, when clearly you are not. There would be much animosity surrounding you grave. Not a nice way to be dead.’
‘Well I never thought about it like that.’
‘Well you should, and what about your children and wife? There would be all kinds of nasty rumors.’
‘So what is there to talk over? You have never been arrested before, please, we am offering you quite a bargain, don’t worry you won’t have to serve any time, the process of filing the arrest will take at least ten years anyway. We even offer to do all the paper work.’
‘We will?’ his partner asked.
‘We will. And we will even wait in all the queues. You won’t have to do anything at all. So you can see, you have nothing to lose and absolutely everything to gain.’
‘Well, I suppose.’
‘Excellent; you have made a wise choice. Now if we could just collect the two hundred rubles, then.’
‘What, you want me to pay!’
‘Well, we are under-funded at the moment.’
‘The KGB is hard up,’ the other added.
‘This amount will cover administrative expenses, paper and pens.
‘Pay the man, dear,’ Mrs. Handoverskaya said. ‘I am tired and want to go to bed.’
Mr. Handoversky paid, he could see in the gleam of his wife’s eye that she was interested in a little more than sleeping.
‘So you will come to the station on Monday? Don’t forget, okay?’
‘I suppose but eight is too early, I can only come in the afternoon, I never get up before eleven, it is a family tradition.’
‘Well, if it is a family tradition than I suppose we can make an exception in your case. Come any time you like. We will be waiting. See you Monday. And don’t worry, you won’t regret this.’
Mr. and Mrs. Handoversky went to bed. They had sex in the usual way with Mr. Handoversky sucking profusely on his wife’s left nipple. Afterwards, reassured by his arrest, Mr. Handoversky fell asleep. His dreams were finally like everyone else’s in the Soviet Union. With his dreamy contribution, the USSR could enter a new era. But this new dream of his, this unfamiliar nightmare woke him up to one even greater. It startled him and he looked questioningly at his wife. ‘Go back to sleep dear,’ his wife said quietly. ‘I know. And trust me: go back to sleep. It is better to go back to sleep.’
Copyright © 2004 by Troy Morash