Someone may regard this story as drug and vicious life propaganda. However, this is not my objective.
I do not set any objectives at all. I would just like to narrate certain events of my life in the hot summer of 2005.
I do not invite to imitate me. In fact, I am far from inviting anyone anywhere.
I do not even know where to start.
At first, I found myself in Kiev. I was freshly divorced and stayed in the pit of chronic, years long depression trying to get out of it medicamentally, taking severe anti-depressants.
Ouch, those were heavy chemicals!
Their effect was strange: the whole body was throbbing. In addition, that was fraught with a constant desire to clench my teeth. Probably rheumatism is felt like this. There was even something masochistic-sweet in this morbid squirm.
The emotions are restrained. The idea is that if you are unable to take respite from your feelings, the magic chemistry will take them away. Be a vegetable, relax, sonny, your war is finished.
You could booze, but drunkenness came with difficulty, as if through cotton wool. We were drinking the gooey cherry liqueur just as if it were dried fruit drink.
You could smoke grass: in the pothead atmosphere in Kiev such dopey background was only natural.
We also cooked wild cannabis. The weather was hot and it grew ripe simply in the public park.
We harvested it and bought some milk. Then we poured it over the green leaves and started to boil the thing slowly stirring it.
It is hot outside. Summer heat runs riot; the sky turns pale. Cannabis is boiling in the kitchen. In the room, my good friend Maximiliano and I are recording the new album of our group (later this album will become our favorite and the most hardcore).
We leave the guitars now and then to go to the kitchen and see if milk is not boiled over.
Milk steams away and turns first tosca green, then of camouflage color and finally almost dark grey.
Then you drink the frowsy green broth.
It won’t do to drink much: it’s tricky because has a time-delayed action – after several hours. And if you are wrong with the dose trying to get the best of it, you may never come back.
It is a stupid fun: there are people in the country, who control the sale of drugs, issue prohibitions and all that jazz. In the meantime, a person may freely go to a public park, legally pluck cannabis there and flip the bird at any drug enforcement agency.
Some people pretend to be working and vigilant, other do not pretend anything.
I remember having come to see Monk and find bags with grass kept under a central heating battery.
In poky Russia, they consume grass by ships. When they see a matchbox of grass, they exclaim with their ecstatic accent: “Wow! Plenty of grass!” Whereas in Ukraine – bang! Grass goes by bags, heavy as bricks.
A man working at a production plant was given a drawing with the request to machine a metal plug for loading the grass in a bong. The man was tuned-in and twigged the game, saying: “eh, you crooks!” and winked. But still made the plug on a miller and asked no more questions. What in the world could he do else on a radio manufacturer? Do not tell me about radio manufacturing.
Well, the plug is put in a bottle, the grass enough for a regiment is stuffed inside, then all is set on fire and you get cannabic smoke with the smell of burning steppe.
Pow! The grass is hot and it stings your throat. You hold the bluish smoke in you and expel it through the vent pane.
The grass takes you in its dopey captivity.
“Got something to smoke, Monk?”
“Sure! You’re blind or what?”
Then Vlad comes with the same question. Vlad is a captain in the Security Service of Ukraine, valiant warrior who guards the country against the likes of us and himself.
He also charges the water bong.
“Vlad, how many years you are supposed to give us for this bag?” – we ask him along the line.
Vlad expels. “Could be seven.” – he says and reaches for another portion.
Andrei also dropped by.
He works as an ambulance man. He is a Satanist. His conduct is very polite and he likes decadent talk.
He brought some pills on that day from his work. Said they were strong.
I swallowed them.
They very likely had a combined effect with my antidepressants and that night I was aching all over.
The sensation is as if you want to jump out of your body. Any position causes pain and tremendous joint ache.
It is probably the feeling of sinners in hell: continuous pain. As though I am being born from Lilith’s body and she struggles to deliver me. As though the muscles of her diabolic vagina push me down and into some other world, but I resist.
The world seems to get cross with me. There is no place neither for my body nor for my soul from now on.
There is no salvation, whether I lie, stand or sit. I am accursed.
I opened the window. Leaned over the sill. There are fourteen floors beneath me. A stairway from heaven.
Rollercoaster with a one-way ticket.
I was standing at the open window, with my body aching all over and clear mind, and was weighing the pluses and minuses of a down leap.
Minuses were many. There was only one plus but very significant: the pain would cease.
I had never made up my mind. Fell off to sleep at the open window as a horse at the combat station.
Woke out of trance in the morning, when the rose morning freshness was creeping along Kharkov quarter and the sound of janitor’s broom was muffled.
I went to the pond. Took a swim. Came back like a zombie. Aching continued but began to abate.
Some thoughts different from those of suicide arrived.
Those were the only serious suicidal thoughts in my life.
I was going to Crimea, to a metal music festival near Yevpatoria. Those on the know are imba, others are out of it.
A large delegation of metal badasses from Kiev was also in the train.
I managed to buy tickets to Yevpatoria in the same third-class sleeper with them.
But return tickets were not available.
“Only first-class remained.” I asked the price and got the answer. I thought I heard amiss, because in Russia this sum was not enough not only for the first-class but even for the third class from Moscow to Tula, just like in Ukraine from Kiev to Crimea.
The ticket clerk repeated the amount somewhat tartly, and it seemed incredibly low to me (I earned a lot at that time). Therefore, I bought the returned ticket for the train with badasses, but they were still going to travel in the third class and I in the first like a king.
God save the Ukrainian Rail Roads!
A-la-la-la-la! The hubbub and saturnalia. The gang of shaggy badasses showed up at the station.
Leo dragged me to the market for company’s sake to buy wurst, because he could not imagine a train voyage without it.
He bought it and thrust between his teeth like a pirate.
Leo is a hot sketch: his mom is Armenian, his dad is a Jew; he is five-foot-one, but with a beard like that of mujahid. He is terribly garrulous like all Armenians.
At the same time, he is a devil at the drum set.
We waltzed in the sleeper; the bottles started their clinks. Other buddies flocked from different cars.
The unknown boys were on the upper. “Going to the festival, boys?” – we asked them. They nodded assent in alarm. “Oh-o-o! Do join us!” It threw us they were somewhat strange: sort of uptown. But let them be: folks are different.
And only after quite a while, we understood that they were going to Kazantip, not to our festival, and were truly uptown. We really frightened them.
Folks were boozing. We bought belyashi at the station in Dnepropetrovsk. It was strange to be in passing at the railway platform in the city, where I was born but did not visit about fifteen years.
I fell into talk with Gosha. Gosha has a mujahid beard similar to that of Leo. He is streetwise and knows onions.
He was out of pocket: sent a money order to be left until called for himself at the Head Post Office in Yevpatoria, because he knew to blow it on booze if he would take it in the train. Therefore, I stood the damages.
Gosha drew attention to the fact that the first letters of Morbid Angel albums in chronological order follow the alphabet. I started to search my memory: Altar of Madness, Blessed are the sick, Covenant – jeez, it was exactly so! I don’t know why, but that impressed and amazed me at the time.
We had arrived. And stepped on the platform. The uptown neighbors from the uppers quickly made themselves scarce to be on the safe side.
Our company had a tent borrowed from the alpinists. It was awful. Extremely heavy and awkward.
Part of group went to put it up: it required a good deal of fiddling.
I kept Gosha’s company in reaching the Head Post Office in order to cash his own money order.
Yevpatoria. Toy streetcars. Trampled bushes full of cigarette butts.
Shapeless women, rubber rings and shady aisles.
We bought a bottle of liqueur. Sat down and drank it. Then bought another one. And then one more, if I remember rightly.
I got to the sea. Sat on the jetty made of planks and hung the legs down.
Seawater was lapping under the boats. I felt extremely lonely.
Next to me, there was silent Gosha: a smooth operator but totally spoiled person.
Then we arrived at the “Sunshine”. Way to name a place of metal festival.
The place is a land tongue between the sea and Sasyk lagoon. Wonderful area. I like it very much.
Looking one way you see turbulent waves, looking the other way you find the reeds reeking of iodine and claret-colored silty water.
Zhukova came running to me there. She is prankish and quirky. The candid joy she displayed at meeting me melted my heart a bit for the first time for quite a while.
A jerky boy Mikhailov was also there. I offered him one of those liqueur bottles, which I was holding in my hand. It would not go into me and it did not go into him either in such hot weather, so we decided to bury it to dig out later like pirates.
And we buried it.
And it stays there up until now. Because we buried it so thoroughly that could not find it. Thus, if you go close to Yevpatoria and will have a desire to drink, dig for buried treasure.
My heart of recovered heavy drinker feels it to cool in the night fresh and become hot under the merciless Crimean sun.
I found my folks. They had put up the tent. It was skanky!
It was meant for mountain-climbers to be put in the cold rocky areas, not on a Crimean beach.
Pickets are spread on all sides and cords are fastened to them. All glassy-eyed blokes, who go to the sea, stumble over them, each time beating flat a wall, because they fall down like a pack of flour.
Leo flings out of the tent and loudly swears.
It is infernally hot in the tent. You could live there only at night.
It seems there is plenty of room inside but the layout is stupid.
There is a bit rough log in the center, which serves as a pole, and it is easily hit in passing.
We sleep side by side.
Gosha attached himself to us. He got into an alcoholic tailspin by that time and never pulled out of it I’ll tell you jumping ahead.
There was no place for him, but alcohol, as is known, substitutes tent, food and bed. He asked to let him be accommodated in the “anteroom” of our tent, where there was only sand and where we kept the footwear.
We thought he would not be able to install himself in such conditions and foolishly gave our consent.
Plonk! Gleeful Gosha in underpants plummeted with his muzzle down into somebody’s sandals and started to snore.
All those days, when coming out of the tent, we stumbled over blind drunk sleeping Gosha.
He took no offence. Sometimes did not even wake up.
Do you know Crimean way of life? With all those Gasenwagen disguised as lavatories, the atmosphere of nastiest hilarity and the odor of potent wine. With algae in the hair. With spontaneous sex on a lifeguard tower with a little-known plastered girl, who has dreadlocks and juvenile zero boobies: bee stings. If you are hep, I will not drill down.
The last day of festival came.
Leo had lost his passport and return ticket. Folks managed to fit into the tent during the day, when it was infernally hot.
We continued to stumble over Gosha sleeping in the sand in the anteroom of the tent. Gosha continued to take no offence and nod amiably.
Everybody was having a rest. Only Maximiliano and I, as the most decent personages, felt terribly tired of such recreation.
We met Dima “Horse”. If you meet Horse, be sure to get high. A folk saying. He always has something with him.
He’s got a plant in his Chucks.
He opened his plant and suddenly somewhat diminished in height.
A storm was brewing up. The increasing wind ripped away poorly secured tents.
Our tent held on spit and bailing wire.
Maximiliano and I got inside (stumbled over Gosha) and found Leo and someone else trying to puff dry stuff to life.
We tried to explain to them that the tent would soon be washed off to hell but nobody gave a fiddler’s fart about such trifles.
At the moment, when Leo finally triumphantly puffed, such heavy rainfall broke out that the floor of the tent started to be inundated in seconds.
Maximiliano and I managed to take out our things getting over Gosha. Leo looked at the surrounding world as if it were a backstabber. During one of hits of elements, the supporting log struck him on the forehead.
– What shall we do? – Maximiliano was thinking out loud.
– Dash it all! Let’s go to see the concert, – I cried irritably.
And we suited the action to the word. The concert was excellent.
There was no sense in looking for the tent in darkness. We went to the station.
The station is surrealistic: a booth surrounded by the flat sacred Crimean land. The sea rustles aloof, on the other side: the railroad and the reeds of the lagoon.
The booth had octagonal windows. The black southern sky torn by flashes of lightning was seen through them.
The station was strewn with bodies all around. Almost nobody spoke.
We found a bong thrown away by someone. We had some stuff left from Dima’s stash.
We lighted it up. The junk had the mind to drift somewhere in sweet flickering dream.
I had a rag with me. We lied down on it as two comrades-in-arms.
It must be said that we really are two comrades-in-arms because we have been friends since the first year in school, and no mistake.
We were contemplating the storm through the octagonal windows.
There was something spectacularly beautiful in the event, something profound, fine and chtonian. Just two unwanted solitudes passing away a night on the ground of uncaring world on the same rag as if under the same trench coat.
Face to face with the flashes of nocturnal thunderstorm.
Sweet sleep after violent rest came unnoticeably.
The dawn broke. Naked Barny Greenway and Shane Embury from Napalm Death, childhood idols, were bathing in the sea.
It is a strange feeling: those same persons from a photo on the cassette picture, whose faces you used to scan and they seemed demigods from distant worlds, are now bathing naked in the morning Crimean sea, at the “Sunshine”.
The tent lay as a wet heap. On top of it, Gosha was snoring with his arms spread keeping the property from scathe.
The tickets to leave Yevpatoria were only available for the evening of the next day.
There was not the slightest desire to pitch up the tent.
We were very tired and pissed off after all these wretched days. In addition, we badly wanted to get enough sleep.
I suggested to fold up the tent, get to Yevpatoria and leave it in the checkroom in order to collect it before departure and then… well, it remained to be seen, what would happen then.
We woke up Gosha. He was proud to have been safeguarding the tent. He looked like he was going to wag the tail, if he had one.
In the checkroom, you have to form a code consisting of one letter and three figures.
You know, the audio cassettes used to have such stickers with letters and figures.
The available letters are only two: A and B to indicate the sides. The figures are ten.
Once now-deceased Burzumiy composed the only thing he could invent out of them: B0BA 666, where 0 played the role of O.*
I did not think of anything better than to use the same passcode: I set up B 666 and closed the door.
At the station in Yevpatoria, they let rooms. However, nobody wants to let them for a night.
Maximiliano and I got spastic and took a shuttle to Simferopol. Got there, but did not like it.
– Let’s go to Sebastopol!
– I’m game.
We arrived there and strolled around.
What a nice city!
Bought hamburgers, went round a hill and sat to eat them.
At that moment, the heart-rending sounds of muezzin singing were heard from somewhere.
We did not try to rent lodging for a night.
When strolling we found a place to spend the night: a slope over the auto-road.
We had a royal view on the bay below that almost made us weep like a sentimental drunkard.
It probably was not the best of beds on the last night’s rag but it was better than lying in the tent with your face burrowed into somebody’s socks.
We climbed to destination. It was growing dark. As string of lights came on along the bay.
The air became dainty blue. We fell asleep as babies. Two cronies.
In the morning, Maximiliano told what happened to him. “Someone was walking close by and woke me up. I looked around and saw nobody. Middle of the night, the bay is below, all sounds ceased, a sea gull cries occasionally”.
He went back to sleep and heard a rustle, as if somebody were crawling.
He looked about him again. Only a ninja could hide somewhere, nobody else.
He gave up, turned on the other side and…met a hedgehog nose tip to nose tip. Just eye to eye. And they looked at each other dumbfounded.
Finally, the hedgehog acknowledged the two-legged creature as king of nature and withdrew.
Long after that, when I happened to be in Sebastopol again, I found the place, where we corked off, out of curiosity. Mamma mia! How crazy we were! I have no idea how we managed to sleep on such steep slope. And on top of that, right above us was the super guarded Black Sea Fleet Headquarters, which we foolishly did not notice. It is like missing an elephant passing by.
We woke up and returned to Yevpatoria. We had to wait through the day and then climb on a berth in the train and let everything jog on.
We were starved of sleep again. Roamed around Yevpatoria killing time.
We played all stupid slot machines, visited all shooting saloons, and drank a gallon of Coca-Cola diluting it with instant coffee.
Benched and dozed off.
We strolled into the local zoo. It is small, the cages are tiny and the animals have long ago gone nuts. And that in the direct sense of the word: they incessantly run or jump following the same route. They can do it for an hour or two. The sight is a bit repulsive.
A guy came around: a teener of about 16-17 years. Started small talk, said his name’s Nick. He is odd: pavid eyes, heavily skew by tropia, which make him seem to be always looking away in fear.
He lives in the town and works in the zoo feeding the animals.
And it shows because he is flummoxed like them.
He quizzed us on the festival, with the questions all off key, though, as if he were having an interview.
Then asked of this and that.
That was a wish-wash, all in all, but we pottered away time.
But suddenly he touches us on a sore spot by asking: “And what would you say of a nap?” We jumped and cried in the same breath: ”Yes!”
He says: “I’m finishing work in a short while and we may go to my place, where you will sleep until evening.”
We dragged after him listening again to his inquiries out of turn.
At his place, he explained apologetically: “No way: brother’s in. But we have a garage for get-togethers, you could sleep there.”
We went there and found ourselves in an old yard with a mob of teeners, who rushed upon Nick like fledgling crows.
They are funny, these teeners: got time to spare, when they are not yet stifled. When they are still green and plain. Guys, who may already feign adulthood, play with their first moustache, but still display boyish goodness. And girls, who may smoke and drink, but still smell of kitten hair and milk. They experience wonderful period. But it does not last long.
Nick proudly presented us as his friends. They gaze at us like at Robinson Crusoe. “Nick’s friends are our friends”.
I constantly suffer from anti-depressant agonies, though I have already got used to it, and feel like a cynical old man eater in their company, who wants to seize an adolescent girl, like a spider, suck her dry and toss aside her void little body as a used shell.
Then, out of nowhere, appears a woman and starts shouting: “Now you’ve brought new dudes! It’s mayhem! Chuck ‘em out these longhairs!”
We realized that our sleeping plans crushed and burned.
We went out in the street leaving Nick behind. And we hated to start explanations.
Max and I plainly looked at each other. “Let’s run?” – “Yep!”
And we suited the action to the word. Nick was shouting something and calling us. We did not hear.
We sat in a small outdoor café somewhere in the winding streets a bit off the usual tour itineraries.
The urge was there to hit weed. But none was available.
The local Crimean grass was highly praised, but we did not know where to go for it.
We bought wine, then took some more.
We embarked on philosophy talk.
Suddenly a man from the table next to us piped in.
I cited Mikhail Bulgakov, I do not remember why: “Yes, man is mortal, but that would be only half the trouble. The worst of it is that he’s sometimes unexpectedly mortal – there is the trick!” The man was in raptures. As if by this thought, I had closed the chain of all reflections in the world for him.
He moved to our table and said his name was Vladimir. I would guess his age at 30 – 35.
He was a local dweller. Treated us to wine. In comparison to oddish and wacky Nick, he seemed to be the uttermost of humor and adequacy.
We had a nice talk. Got tipsy. Had an invitation to his place, which was not far away.
I did not know anything about those quarters of Yevpatoria. And probably would not have known, had it not been for Vova.
They are seemingly not far from tour itineraries, but you won’t get here by chance.
They look like favelas: rotten wood, low browed canopies. And people far from resort welcome type.
Vova lives at street level of a two-storey barrack.
Wine had its effect and we felt mixed. Both Vova and we somehow turned aggressive.
On the spur of the moment it came to light that Vova had got out of jail not long ago after nine years for murder.
That was logical in the general atmosphere of sleep deficiency and absurdity. And fit into the feeling of my good-for-nothingness.
Suddenly we asked him: “Vova, do you have local grass?”
He proudly tries to show himself a cool bro: “No, I haven’t, but I know old buddies around here, we’ll get it in a tick”.
We went to the yard with a clunker standing there: a Zaporozhets. Next to it, folks are playing cards on a bench.
One of them, a spooky guy, whose name I don’t remember, is the car’s owner. His face is young, but the body, after years on heroin, is boggy and looks turned inside out, with legs bandy and swollen.
Vova has a word with him telling we’re his mates Alex and Max and we want grass.
The guy says he’s got no grass, only stuff to spike ready at hand, and we have to go to the gypsies for grass.
Vova gets hot: “Let’s go!”
The guy answers: “No gas. Gimme cash for three liters.”
Vova produces the sum. The guy goes somewhere in the depth of the favelas and buys a three-liter jar with gas.
He then opens the engine area at the back of the car and we see a feat of engineering: a three-liter jar instead of gas-tank! Just a glass jar with rubber tubes immersed into it.
Max and I fell into orgy of enjoyment.
We were three parts drunk. At a certain point, I zoned out.
I was retracing the event that followed by fragments. The gypsies wanted to cheat us, the guy would have preferred to leave, Vova shouted and was getting tough with him, hit the ceiling saying he let down his buddies (meaning us), whereas we were piss-ass drunk.
Then it suddenly cottoned on to me that the evening was near and our train was soon to leave. And we did not even know where we were.
It was tough to run away from Vova. He was not poky Nick.
We managed to explain the situation to him after all. Maybe the fact of his also being in orbit helped us.
If I remember it right, at first, he showed us various wushu exercises, and then he was sitting cross-legged in an armchair and cried bitter tears about something, absolutely childishly hiccupping and moaning.
Max and I bluntly ran away for the second time that day.
I left my rag and the last package of anti-depressant pills at Vova’s.
That was the end of my course of treatment.
We were well gone. The sun aggravated the process.
In the drunken haze, I have a recollection of having hitched a ride to the railroad station in a jalopy of a Moskvich-412 for small Ukrainian money.
It was a marvel that I remembered about the tent and even VOVA 666.
After the last encounters, VOVA 666 had a special significance.
I thrusted Maximiliano in his carriage and found my first-class sleeper.
It was something incredible. I entered the sleeper, stretched out on the berth, left the ticket on the table to avoid being woken up and conked out overstrained during the horrors of the last days.
I woke up five minutes before the train arrived in Kiev.
More than ten years passed.
I do not use drugs and alcohol.
A film shot by Max remained from that trip. The only scanned photo was that with the three-liter jar-gas tank.
Later on all ready pictures and the film were mysteriously lost.
That photo with three liters of gas is the only thing, which proves that the summer of 2005 really occurred and was not my dream.
*BOBA stands for VOVA in Latin letters, which is a diminutive for the name Vladimir.