Pete’s Records by Valery V. Petrovskiy
“Now, let his best friend have the floor”, said a master of ceremonies turning to me. It sounded as if it were not Pete’s burial but a recital or an inauguration of a monument. But no outstanding personality ever was born here to set up an obelisk; all were ordinary people, nothing to say, and they all were buried under regular oak crosses. The only monument in town was put to those perished in WWII. They were buried somewhere far away, and the memorial was here.
Pete’s face was as if shadowed, but he looked quite sound and his haircut was regular. His eyes were closed as if he were sleeping, just had fallen asleep. Still there was no life coming from his face, a shadow lay on it. And the day was dusky, and gloaming, and no sun around. So, I looked at Pete and had no words. I proved to be unready, never had a rehearsal to say the last words to him. Sorry, Pete, I don’t remember what I said. Not the right words I ought to. I hadn’t prepared myself and I didn’t say the main thing: that he was the best friend, not I!
Then many fellows of his gathered around his grave. The master made room for me when called upon to speak. Not because there were too many people but because the graves were closely set: so folks who came along were cramped, one couldn’t step aside. All of them were familiar to me though I hadn’t seen them for a long time, and they hadn’t seen me either. It was not the exact place to shake hands, and it wasn’t the right moment: one was not supposed to at the burial in Russia.
I greeted them by a nod, as though we parted yesterday, that’s all. As though I left my town for half a day, took a morning bus and was soon back in the afternoon, and already was missing all the mates, missed the green lanes and the side streets with soft grass, missed faint shades along the fences at sunset. In fact, it was ages since I visited my town last.
I never saw Pete asleep, just once when we had woken him up to take his record player. It was quite a thing! Then we took away his record player to arrange an occasion for high school graduates. School leaving party had closed already, and under exposed heaven with the stars like birthmarks a question poised in midair: what’s next? And we made up our minds: a dancing party to Pete’s records then! Dancing until the daybreak as it is supposed once per life!
So, we simply made Pete awaken then and asked him for the stereo record player. But I didn’t catch Pete asleep – we were for music! Then we had hurried to Pete for music records by a pothole country road walking on air …
As for music, there was no music at his funeral. It all happened ordinary and dismal. He wasn’t a distinguished one, just Pete. He was so plain that didn’t distinguish bad things, no black! More than that, he confused black and white when speaking local dialect. He uttered “black α white” – this and that, such was my playfellow, my close friend.
Though the sun didn’t reveal itself that day, the sky was getting clear as it happens in March afternoons... Only on Pete’s face there lay a shadow, not quite a shadow, just a tinge of a stiff idea as though he were about to utter a word or two. You know such a look when one is going to open his mouth, such an intense expression but no words.
So, now his best friend is called upon to speak… And I was unable to put it right.
A lonely crow would fly away from a crooked tree at the graveyard; it has nobody to fly to.
Author’s Bio: Mr. Valery V. Petrovskiy is a journalist and short story writer from Russia. Не is English Department graduate Chuvash State University, Cheboksary, graduated VKSch Higher School, Moscow in journalism, and got a degree from Kazan State Technology University in psychology.
He has been writing prose since 2005. Some of his writing has been published in The Scrambler, Rusty Typer, BRICKrethoric, NAP Magazine, Literary Burlesque, The Other Room, Curbside Quotidian, DANSE MACABRE, WidowMoon Press, PRIME MINCER, Hulltown 360, Apocrypha and Abstractions, Apollo’s Lyre, The Legendary, The Monarch Review, The Atticus Review, Marco Polo, Unshod Quills in the USA, and Australian The Fringe Magazine, Skive and Going Down Swinging journals.
At the moment he is writer-in-residence at Marco Polo arts magazine, while staying in Russia. He has recently interviewed in Gloom Cupboard: http://gloomcupboard.com/2011/08/11/valery-petrovskiy-interview.
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