Bringing Back Russian Hats - Part 2

The next day after swimming, I took two of my guys, we loaded up our suitcases and we took the train to her house. I still remember the address was way the heck outside of town, and it was dark. We’re talking after about 7 p.m, and I still remember the streets were empty. Russian people were inside at night. I remember finally getting to this apartment building, and a huge black dog jumped me right there by the front door.

I left Spurski and the other guy by the main door as a lookout and went upstairs. I knocked on her door, and she answered. The apartment was small and dark. To the left as I walked in I still remember four big guys around a table playing cards. From the ceiling hung a dim light, like 40-watt bulb over them. Tatiana steered me into the room to the right and said “show me.”

As I opened my valise, the garments began to fall out – I had crammed in as many as I could. The look on her face was utter terror, and she whispered epithets to me as meanly as she could. “Do you know who’s sitting in my parlor? Do you? I have two ranking party members sitting in there playing cards. They see you, then both you and I are arrested and sent to Lubyanka Prison (KGB headquarters) for smuggling. Get out of here. Get out of here.”

Tatiana hustled me out of the apartment pretty quick. Stalin killed lots of people, and many of them were killed at Lubyanka prison. Smuggling carried a stiff penalty in communist Russia – it was considered ‘stealing’ from the honest shopkeepers. – Henry Zguda


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