My parents dropped into Tallinn for the weekend, so I thought it was the least I could do to pop on up from Moscow to the old town to see them. Parting on Monday evening, I induced them into escorting me down to the train station. The bloated drunk in sweat suit passed out on a lower birth was the first thing the three of us saw when I opened the door to the compartment. My parents went silent and did an abrupt about face out of the wagon. Catching up with them outside, I did my best to reassure them that all would be well.
The drunk & I nodded off for a few hours till we neared the Russo-Estonian border and two passengers filled the remaining top two berths. The drunk awoke and asked one of the newcomers, "Commander, how did I get here? Did I cause a ruckus?" Pulling at his tattered vinyl satchel he muttered, "Oh, I must have mixed it up with someone." Then he muttered something about prison and I queried him about that.
"Yah, I just got out of the cooler in Sweden. Thirty days there, but tomorrow I'll be home. It was a bum rap. I was getting out of my car. I turn around and hit the guy by accident. It was an accident. Reflex like. Could have happened to anyone. The guy fell on his ass."
"What guy?" I asked.
"Why the cop who stopped me. He tried to bind my hands behind my back. I'm a Soviet man, and well, you know..."
Actually I don't, but go on.
"I tried to explain everything in court. I put forth for a half hour, but that little chickie they gave me for an interpreter didn't interpret me right. She just said I hit the guy. They were all women, the judge, the jailor, the whole lot, and that's were I ran afoul. The women are a most foul species."
"They say those Swedish jails aren't half bad." I inserted.
"You know what a Swedish table is? It's a bloody feast, and that's what I got for every meal. Meat for breakfast, that yogurt, then meat for lunch, and meat for dinner. They paid me for being there. They gave me whatever I wanted. 'Television?' 'Please.' 'You want a girl? There's the phone, there's the number, and there's the money.' They give you a beer a day, but there are ways to supplement that. The guys weren't half bad either..."
"Sounds like a pretty good deal. Why'd you leave?"
"Yeh, I gotta admit it was great, but home is home. I need to be with my own kind you know. Are we headed for Petersburg?"
"Uh... no. Moscow."
"Good. Moscow's what I wanted. That's home for me."