"What'd'ya think?" Kuznetsov asked.
"It's KGB-pop genre," I said. "Your soldaten, the ones who catch honest thieves, they listen to the Circle, distorted to incomprehensibility."
"Well, it's pop, it's not pop, what it is..." Kuznetsov said. "See how we are taking you?! High class, like a government official. While you're still like that. We'll give you ten, fifteen years; if you leave, then there already won't be anybody, no party, no girls. See, we even know who you're sleeping with."
"I don't doubt it," I said.
"We know a lot, a lot about you," continued Kuznetsov, "and about your little boys. To be blunt, the Chechen people are stronger -- which ones did only you take? That one from Novosibirsk... he's just a loser, an idiotic peasant..."
"An oven lighter," I said, "and we don't shrink from oven lighters. Work will be found for everyone. And we don't have any problems with the Chechens. We're a long way from them..."
"Yeah, I've waited a long time for this conversation. I've known you for a long time, Veniaminovich. Even when there was that search for you related to the Mikhalkov incident, I was involved."
"You were involved in the provocation and you yourself likely organized it all..."
Kuznetsov didn't say anything. "When I'll arrive, I'll sleep. For half a year I've been combing the entire country for you. It was me who didn't allow your boys into Riga. I took them off of the train in Peter. There was also a little assignment: to disrupt. And how to disrupt them when they've got tickets."
"And then you planted drugs on one of them."
"I didn't plant anything... they were on him."
"Oh, yeah, of course..."
"I know all your people. And Lenochka Borovsky..."
"And in Riga we still broke through... even though you turned our people in to the Latvian secret service. You make friends with all types, huh, with friends from Latvia? And do you know that 600,000 Russians there don't even have the right to vote?"
"I don't need political information, Veniaminych, I myself am the one you want to get your information from. Tell me more specifically, why don't you love us?"
"You turned our boys over to the Latvians. And the boys were going to an event to defend old Chekists. You don't even feel solidarity with your own pedigree!"
"We..." he started to tell about how Yeltsin let down the KGB and finally a man arrived who is returning their rights to them, their former strength as the punishing sword of the government.
"I get it," I said. "Only, for what will you punish? It used to be for the dictatorship of the proletariat, for the people, and now it's for the oligarchs, huh? Don't imagine yourself as Dzerzhinsky's descendants. He was a revolutionary, he sat half his life in jail. I read his journal, how in the nights there they took them out to hang. And you are a reactionary, a guard. You are the reverse of Dzerzhinsky's type. Dzerzhinsky's statue will never be yours, there isn't any chance."
That's how we drove, conversing. It was very cold in Barnaul. It turned out that our flight to Moscow was delayed three hours. Kuznetsov grew irritated. After some time in the car they brought him vodka and a snack. "Veniaminych, you want some?" Kuznetsov asked. "Drink; when will it happen the next time? You'll eat fine; they feed you well in Lefortovo, I'd eat it myself. But with this, there won't be this."
I let myself be convinced. I drank. With pleasure. A second bottle appeared. I said, "Can't we pour Seryoga a drink?"
"No," Kuznetsov said. "He's arrogant, your buddy, and that's why he isn't getting any."
"What does that mean, arrogant?"
"He holds himself that way. Insolent."
Then the Lt. Colonel and I were left alone. He began to pull out his pistol and cock it. Then he said that it was too bad that we weren't on the same side. I said that it was unfortunate that they hunt down patriots of their Motherland. He said that we would be able to, if I would agree... I said that I invited General Pronin to work with us. It became clear that the discussion wasn't about that.