“Bukharin, we need you.” Kolya looked up from his walk at his friend who had gone through nearly everything with him, while sharing the same name as he. He marveled at how the wet spring weather seemed to do nothing at all to his friend’s well slicked black hair. His overly large spectacles reminded Kolya of the bug eyes he used to look at with a magnifying glass as a young boy.
Kolya smiled and shook his head. “You flatter me, Osinskii. You have never needed me. You have always been one of our brightest intellectuals. You, Smirnov, Stukov, you would’ve changed the face of Russia without me.” Osinskii let out a sickly laugh as if his lungs could just manage to push it out before devolving into a cough.
“Now it is my turn to be flattered, but you and I both know that no one would have taken us seriously had we not all been together. We need each other. We need you as much as you need us.” Kolya turned off the street down a concrete staircase leading down to the river’s edge looking towards what Osinskii thought looked like a rather bleak and wet Kremlin. He watched as Kolya stooped down near the river’s edge and placed his hand in the river. A second later, he pulled it out holding what looked like a small beetle. Osinskii took a step back, surprised at his friend’s spontaneous find.
“Do you know what this is Osinskii?”
“Well it looks like a beetle.” Kolya laughed at his friend’s face as he put it back in the water.
“Haha, it’s a crawling water beetle, otherwise known as a Haliplidae. Come here comrade.” His friend stooped down hesitantly next to him.
“Now I want you to reach down in the water, touching the concrete right here, and I want you to tell me what your hand touches.” Osinskii was reminded of their college days, when Bukharin would point out seemingly every insect known to man. He didn’t like the creeping crawlers that much, but he knew his friend would not let him leave without doing it. So he reached down slowly, feeling the oily touch of the underwater cement, the seaweed stuck to it, and then he found it. Bukharin could tell by his face he had found something.
“What’d you find?”
“Well, it seems like there’s a large crack in the cement.”
“Large enough for a creature to hide in?”
“Well I suppose so.”
“Beetles are interesting creatures. They manage to survive in some of the harshest conditions on earth and some of the friendliest. Sometimes they hide unsuspectingly underneath the leaves of a tree, and sometimes they hide in cracks of cement like this one.” Osinskii was beginning to wonder where he was going with this.
“You’re saying we…hide, we hide from the new economic policies because we lost the fight on the war.” Kolya stood up and sighed before helping his friend up.
“I’m not saying we hide completely, but we should be like the beetle.”
“Be like the beetle? Are you hearing yourself Bukharin?” Kolya laughed waving off his friend.
“Yes, I know it sounds stupid, but the water beetle doesn’t just hide because he is afraid. He hides because he tires of fighting the current. He hides because…because the crack is his home.” Osinskii stared dumbfounded at Kolya. “You know I agree with you on the economic policies, but I also agree with Lenin. Yes, I know his policies are moderate at best; the creation of an 8 hour week, and abolishment of property, only to reprivatize industry doesn’t seem to be the revolution we envisioned. But it doesn’t mean it’s not the revolution we envisioned either. My name will be with yours on all publications, but I am confused comrade. The current is strong, and for a time I must stay in the crack.” Osinskii peered at the wall on the far side of the river.
“If that’s how you feel…but don’t wait there too long, comrade. You know we came to power because everyone else was still ‘figuring things out’.” Kolya nodded sadly as they looked at the red walls across the river, neither daring to speak what was on their mind. But deep down they knew the deplorable truth. Their paths were parting, and without each other, neither would succeed.
© A River Runs Through It Photography