25 February, 2008

Flashback 6: Moscow

(Excerpt from a letter to a friend)
April, 1994

Dear L:

I am having a strange day. One of those chain reaction kind of things, and the key to the whole story is my knee. It hurts like hell.

Because I fell on the ice.

Because I was running to catch a cab.

Because I missed my ride this morning.

Because George couldn't call me to tell me that they were on their way to pick me up.

Because the firemen had cut down our phone lines and electricity in the stairwell.

So that they could chop down the front doors of my apartment building.

Because it was on fire...

That's just par for the course, though. What stressful week would be complete, though, without the old "Baby on the Doorstep" trick?

No, unfortunately I'm serious. A couple of nights ago I hear a lot of commotion out in stairwell and when I stepped outside an elderly neighbor started shouting:

Don't step on the baby!

And there, on the landing right below mine, is an infant who's swaddled up and lying on the cold stone steps. The neighbors had just called the police, who took at least 30 minutes to arrive. We had been warned not to touch the baby lest we destroy any evidence that had been left.

Now there's a test of wills for you: how long can 5 women stand around a newborn infant lying on filthy stone steps in a stairwell that couldn't have been more than 45 degrees?!

When the police finally did show up one was wearing a bulletproof camouflage flack jacket, one carried a semiautomatic machine gun and the third looked like he was about 19. Apparently he was part of the children's home division, because even though he was dressed up in fatigues he handled the baby as tenderly as if it was his own.

He unwrapped it, checked to see that it was still breathing, and then whisked it away while we were questioned by the police.

I assume the baby belonged to one of the homeless people who's been living in our basement. I've never seen them personally, but the smell that emanates up the stairwell in warm weather is so bad it's almost tangible. It seems they've disappeared now; moved on to greener pastures.

What a fucked up world we live in.....

(Move on to Flashback 7:  Michael Jackson in Moscow)


Jen of A2eatwrite said...

What a mess. I can't imagine the order not to touch the baby. I can't get over your experiences there.

anno said...

Incredible. It makes me appreciate the fact that anything ever works right.

Goofball said...

How surreal. Can't believe that really happened.

Betsy said...

I know, unbelievable, isn't it? I had a hard time working through my thoughts on the situation later because it was just so disturbing.

But all these things were happening in such a disturbing atmosphere that I don't think I realized the full horror / implications until much later...

And with all these stories truth really is stranger than fiction. I couldn't make this shit up if I tried!