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The medal of the bald fuck

We called the Vice-Admiral Artamonov, our divisional commander, Artemus or, more often, “General Kesha”. And all because when checking the fulfilment of the military task by the crew, he behaved like a true general: in other words, like a lout, in other words, he poked his nose everywhere.

He loved giving orders and taking charge of the ship, as well as interfering in everyone’s business, whether they were navigators, radio operators, hydro-acoustic technicians, helmsmen or holdsmen.

What’s more, he had so much energy that he managed to ruin things for everyone, all at the same time.

And what do our beloved Naval Statutes say on this particular topic? They say: “Don’t stick your nose into other people’s business.”

But nobody’s tongue would stir to remind the admiral tactfully about this rule, that is, tell him in so many words: “Where do you think you’re going?”

Once, we went out to sea on an assignment with our “General Kesha” onboard, and he gave us a real nightmare. When Kesha started picking on the boatswain for the umpteenth time, the vertical steering jammed and our nuclear submarine – phased by all this nonsense – which had just surfaced at that time began to chart out concentric circles in the water to the great surprise of the fishing seiners, scattering in all directions to dodge us, and the reconnaissance schooner “Marianna” which was observing all this madness.

Then Kesha barked something to the holdsmen, making them immediately re-set the mile-counter to a zero.

And, when every living being had witnessed the collapse of the mile-counter, our navigator appeared on the main deck – one estimable Alexander Alexandrovich Kudinov, the greatest specialist who was known for his obstinacy.

Alexander Alexandrovich has the nickname “Long time ago”. D’you remember that Hussar song: “Long time ago, lo- ong… time… ago”? Well, our Alexander Alexandrovich – or Al Alich for short – was “long time ago” in three ways: he became captain third rank a long time ago, he became bald a long time ago, and – a long time ago – he became chief of the military navigation deck. Another similarity with the hussars: when he was beside himself with anger, he would grab at anything nearby and throw it at anyone who made him mad, but since his subordinates never bothered him, and his superiors did, he threw himself exclusively at his superiors.

He was such a hurricane that his superiors couldn’t immediately comprehend what had hit them, and they only comprehended it several days later when Al Alich was already far away at sea.

On this occasion, he couldn’t find anything to throw but he did find something to say:

“What the … (and after this, he said exactly twenty seven words most of which rhymed with “muck”. Which words did he choose? Well, for example, truck, duck, luck…).

“What the …”, Al Alich repeated himself, “fuck, who re-set my mile-counter?!”

Everyone on the central deck had a “Masha swal lowed the ball” expression, and then everyone on the central deck remembered there was something they hadn’t yet done, according to their schedule. General Kesha became purple, jumped up and began shouting:

“Navigator! Have you gone off your head? How could you? Just you wait…”

Unable to express the feelings, which had welled in his angry chest, the divisional commander flew into the navigator’s cabin, carrying along the navigator with him. The door of the navigator’s cabin slammed shut, and all sorts of sounds were then heard from within: a shriek, a squeal, the stamping of feet, a crocodile’s howl and the noise of smashing plates.

While precious crystal was being smashed and human beings devoured alive in the navigator’s cabin, everyone on the central deck were sensitively listening to the breakdown of who-what-when-why-how. All this time, the boat was sailing off wherever it wanted.

Finally, the door of the navigator’s cabin flew open. The divisional commander darted out with eyes bulging like a wild owl’s. While he flew into the commander’s post, a thin backcombing of his hair tumbled off his head – it had been painstakingly fashioned as a flat strand of metre-long hair across the bald spot from the one place on the divisional commander’s head: behind his left-ear. The backcombing collapsed and the divisional commander’s hair flew after him, fluttering in the air like the tail of a wild mare.

The divisional commander rushed to throw himself into his chair, squeaking with humiliation. His hair, calming down now, hung from his left ear to the floor.

The navigator poked his head out of the door and shouted after him:

“Bald Fuck!”

To which the divisional commander reacted just as tersely:

“Bald yourself!”

Kesha-the-general was upset by this incident for a long time. But it has to be said that, despite his looking like a loutish peasant, he was not stripped of a certain dignity. When Kudinov was presented with a medal and his papers turned up on the divisional commander’s desk, at first he fussed about, made a face, pretending not to remember who exactly this Kudinov was, then he seemed to remember:

“Yes, yes… a decent specialist… decent…” and, slowly penning with his intricate flourish, he signed.

But the navigator didn’t receive the medal in the end.

That medal never even reached the navy – it was nicked somewhere above ground. So our navigator ended up without a medal. But anyway sometime later, instead of a medal, by way of consolation, the divisional commander removed an earlier reprimand for “loutish behaviour towards a senior”, and the whole story was called: “the reward of the Medal of the Bald Fuck”.

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