...an excerpt from...
by Vassily Aksyonov
Why am I here? I must get out at once, crawl up to my loft, bow to Our Lady the Consoler of the Afflicted, switch on the lamp over my table, put on a record of Chicago jazz, and lay a clean sheet of paper on my desk. How much longer can I go on being shaken up in this vile train? Surely I can jump out of it while it's moving even at the risk of my life? Who put us on this rattling train, with these rattling bottles and glasses and all this sticky food? Where did we board it? Where did we take our seats on its vomit-covered velvet seats? Where was that platform, spattered with gobs of spit? Where is our baggage being taken to: our childhood, our freedom, our creative work? Where is it locked up? Under what lead seals is it secured? We guess that our creaking monster is rumbling across the green hilly countryside, over mountain ranges, now the outlines of cities. We guess that we are crossing huge squares with crowds of people gripped by passion. We guess all this, but we see nothing, and all we do is pour ourselves drinks and eat and dully remasticate our stale ideas. We make friends and join groups because we are too frightened simply to get up from the table, wrench the door open, and ask with plain, straightforward anger, Where are you taking us?