Everything had fallen apart for Sergo. Bloody Sunday felt like yesterday to him. He shook his head. Four years had passed, and what had been accomplished? His dreams of building his factory drifted away like gun smoke.
Nothing was left, but the endless bickering. He was now certain that the party existed merely for its own division into countless factions. At some point, each of them would be arguing with themselves, each man forming and joining several of his own imaginary revolutionary factions. It was hopeless, madness. Marx talked of people coming together, not taking turns stabbing each other in the back.
Sergo turned to Pyotr and asked, “Where are we?”
“We left Lake Beloye and this is the Sheksna River, as I understand it, anyway. According to the Uzbek.” Pyotr passed him the vodka bottle.
“Let’s stop someplace. I’m tired of sitting on this boat.” The vodka burned as it went down. His headache eased off a hair. “Feels like it’s going to snow.”
Pyotr laughed. Whacked him on the back with a hand like a hammer. “It’s June, Sergo. You’ve spent too long in St. Petersburg.”
Pyotr took the vodka back and jumped to his feet while taking a swig. He shouted forward. “Captain! We’d like to get off at that izba!”
The captain turned and spat over the side of his ship. His black beard bounced up and down as he gave orders to the crewmen. The little ship turned, headed to the shore.
Their possessions were meager, but when Sergo went to retrieve them, the captain blocked his path. “Get off. Now.”
“I just want to get my case. It’s just—”
The captain grabbed a hold of his belt and shoulder and tossed Sergo over the side. Pyotr correctly surmised that they had outworn their welcome and that he should quickly follow his friend. He launched himself over the side toward the river’s shore.
He pulled the gasping, thrashing Sergo out of the water and they slogged up the muddy bank together. The cold water ran out of their pockets. Wet clothes clung to their bodies.
Pyotr let out a whistle.
“What now?” asked Sergo.
“I forgot the vodka.”
“What?!” demanded Sergo.
The two men stood in front of the izba. The peasants were picking berries along the river front. Pyotr called out to one of the peasant girls. “Where are we?”
“You are in mud,” she replied. She scowled at them. Sergo knew that they didn’t cut a favorable impression.
“He means, what is the closest village?”
She shrugged. “We’re from Kirillov.”
Pyotr was trying to shake water out of an ear. “What did she say?”
Sergo squinted at his long-time friend. “Just pick some berries, Menshevik.”
“Berries? Which berry picking party shall we join, Sergo?” Pyotr’s grin was missing a few teeth.
Sergo punched him in the bicep.