Boris Vasiliev: The Dawns Are Quiet Though...

The commandant of the station, a gloomy foreman named Vaskov, kept writing reports about soldiers’ misconduct. When the number of those reports hit ten, Vaskov would normally get another reprimand from the authorities for his complaints. However, the feasting and swollen from excessive fun-loving detachment would be replaced by a fresh one. For a week, the commandant was able to manage his subjects on his own, until the course of life in the village just fell into the same pattern; Vaskov eventually stopped writing new reports – he just took old ones and rewrote them, changing dates and names.
“What you are doing here is nonsense!” a newly-arrived major roared, as he came to sort out another heap of Vaskov’s reports. “Where do you get off writing all of this to me? It’s like you are not a commandant, but a writer or something.”
“You have to send me non-drinkers,” Vaskov would reiterate stubbornly; he was scared of any roaring authority, but still carried on his babbling, like a good sexton. “No drinking and… that… you know, about women.”
“You mean… castrates?”
“Well, you’d know better,” the foreman would say cautiously.
“Good, Vaskov!” fired up by his own rage, the major said. “You’ll get your non-drinkers. With no interest in women at all. But I am warning you: if you don’t handle them…”
The next morning, the landlady informed the commandant that a new lot of anti-aircraft gunners had arrived. There was something nasty about the way she said it, but the commandant didn’t catch on, still dizzy from sleep, but he did ask about what had been bothering him: “Are they with a leader?”
“Doesn’t look like it, Fedot Evgraphych.”
“Thank God!” 
The foreman was very particular about his rank. “Sharing power – what could be worse?”
“Don’t you get so cheered up just now,” the landlady said, smiling mysteriously. 
“We’ll cheer up after the war is over,” the foreman replied reasonably, as he took his cap and walked out.
He never made it farther than the porch: two lines of sleepy girls were standing in front of the house. It was so unbelievable he assumed he was still sleeping; he winked and blinked, but the uniforms were still vigorously sticking out in the places not referred to as sticking out places in the service regulations; curls of all colors and types were fighting their way naughtily from under the girls’ field caps. 
“Sir, the first and the second groups of the third platoon of the fifth company of the anti-aircraft and rifle battalion arrived at your disposal to guard the objective,” the senior girl reported in a dull voice. “Aide to the commander of the platoon, Sergeant Kiryanova.”
“Well,” the commandant said, forgetting about the regulations. “This is how they get round the drinking issue…”


Popular posts from this blog

Solzhenitsyn’s cathedrals

Svetlana Alexievich: ‘After communism we thought everything would be fine. But people don’t understand freedom’

Darkness of a drawer - Mikhail Bulgakov