Life update: job interview happened. Still no decisions, there are few other people they’re considering besides me. I’m going to go on a test run for a day next tuesday to see if I work with the people already working there, and we’ll see if I’m compatible enough to work with the people there for realsies.
‘Angels of heaven, they’re coming up, what should I do? What should I do, now, so as not to die? Angels!’
And the angels burst out laughing. Do you know how angels laugh? They are shameful creatures… should I tell you how they burst out laughing just now?
A long time ago, in Lobna – at the station – a man was cut up by a train, cut up in an unbelievable way: his whole lower half was crushed to smithereens and scattered over the road bed, but his upper half from the belt up remained as if alive, and stood by the tracks, the way busts of various pigs stand on pedestals. The train pulled away but he – that half of him – remained standing there, and on his face there was a sort of perplexity and his mouth half open. A lot of people couldn’t stand to look at it and turned away, pale, with a deathly weariness in their hearts.
But some children ran up to him, three or four children, they had picked up a lighted cigarette butt from somewhere and stuck it in the dead man’s half-open mouth. And the cigarette butt continued to smoke and the children ran around roaring with laughter.
That’s how the heavenly angels laughed at me then. They laughed, and God was silent.
-Venedict Yerofeyev, Moscow-Petushki (or, Moscow to the End of the Line)
Bleak and funny and boozy and pitch-black all the way through, and then this: when Venya just ceases to exist. That’s the thing about this story: he doesn’t get a supernatural conceit, he’s not narrating from beyond the grave. Venya becomes Venya-That-Isn’t, narrating from beyond the end of history itself. He misses his stop and returns to Moscow, but the city he finds is on the other side of the apocalypse. The Third Rome that spurned its destiny and underwent a horrible transformation, spat out under Nikon’s reforms as the seat of the Antichrist. Not a Hell to Petuski’s Heaven–more of a city of The End to its New Jerusalem. So Venya staggers off the train, blinking away the remains of this morning’s brutal hangover, still half drunk and ready to give it all up, ready to change his life; but he’s disembarked in a dead world where, as the monks and mystics would say, ‘everywhere is Russia’s final moment’. Pierced through the throat and left to bleed out in an alley near the station: how else could you expect to die in this Moscow?