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Through the Persian Gulf

All’s quiet. “Ivan Kozhemyakin”, the submarine mother ship is crawling through the Persian Gulf. The commander’s on the bridge. The commander’s favourite expressions are: “leave my balls alone” and “stop pricking around”! The night’s pitch-black. In the darkness, on the ship’s starboard, some sort of coast guard boat is barely discernible. It is accompanying our mother ship so we “don’t go where we’re not wanted.”

“A flare!” barks the commander. “Otherwise, we’ll squash it in the dark by mistake, then we’d need to apologise in English and I only studied English for half an hour, at school, if you add it all up.”

The commander and English: yes, he’d be mentally constipated, whereas in Russian, it’s the other way round – pulsating, seething streams. In the Suez Canal, our mother ship was at the head, which is why we were entitled to a pilot. When this dark brother came on board, he greeted the commander: “Mornink, captin!”

“Hm…” the commander replied.

“How doo yoo doo?”

“Hm…mm…”

And it was forty degrees in the shade. Our lot were packed onto the bridge: first mate, second mate and other riff-raff. All wearing ties, service caps and shorts – the tropical uniform. Heads melting under these puffballs. The commander made everyone dress up like this: what if they suddenly ask us “How doo you doo?”

“Doo you speek Inglish?”

“Nao.”

“Oh, captine!”

The commander turned to our lot and said through clenched teeth:

“Have I asked you, monkey-man, why you don’t speak Russian?!”

Things were better at night. Cooler.

“One more flare,” said the commander, “they’re not responding for some reason.”

The mother ship is old, like a container for leftover food. One day the diesel engines stopped working – for three days, we quietly sailed off somewhere into the distance. As a general rule, there’s always something breaking down. The little guard boat still doesn’t reply.

“Well, okay,” said the commander, “let’s blind them with our floodlights!”

Some time passed as we worked out who’s going to do the blinding and how to blind them.

Finally, we worked out how to do it. The envoy switched on the wrong thing and whatever he switched on almost killed someone or other. Then we switched it on, properly, but again it was no good.

“Comrade commander, the phase’s blown!”

“God, you whores, you boiled cunts, get all the electricians here quick!”

The electricians were all standing on the bridge already.

The commander calmed down – after pouring some more filth on them – and grandly targeted the guard boat.

“Well, now, blind them!”

The floodlights were turned on but they were too weak, dammit, and didn’t even reach the boat. The com mander looked at the mechanic and screamed four of our favourite letters. “On the galley, comrade commander, I think there’s a good little lamp,” the mechanic illuminates him, “on the galley!”

“Right, bring it over.”

They made a racket, running up to the galley, unscrewed the lamp, made a racket running back, screwed it in, switched it on – it was only slightly better.

And suddenly – a column of fire in our eyes, like the sun, nothing visible, painful. Everyone’s hands shot up to cover their eyes. What was going on?

The light rushed over to the side, everyone took their hands from their faces. Ah, so that’s it: the guard boat had lit us up with their super-powered floodlight.

“Comrade commander,” someone asked after a silence, “shall we hit them too with our floodlight?”

“Hit them?” the commander comes back to life, “No, no. That’s enough. And I, like an old fool, said: light up our brother from the Arab Emirates. Ha! If only one bastard had said: forget it, comrade com mander, don’t even hope to get them. But, no! But I still said: light him up! Yeah! If he lights us again with his flood light, we’ll all drown! What floodlights are you talking about! You are all dismissed, great nation!” It’s getting dark. The commander’s alone on the bridge. He’s suffering.

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