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no answer (the melon seller)

A shiny black van pulls up, wheels skidding on gravel. Five, maybe six men step out all at once. They wear black t-shirts and army fatigues. Their heads are shaved, slick with sweat in the afternoon sun. Their arms are huge, squeezed into those shirts a few sizes too small. All at once they circle a fruit stand by the road. It is made of plywood, held together with a few screws. One good sneeze could level it. Rows of torpedo shaped melons sit on bulging shelves, below them a cage full of watermelons. The men yank smartphones from their pockets, taking pictures, making calls. I assume they are some covert team that extorts vendors, either sending them home and destroying the fruit or worse. I somehow expect the man does not have a permit and the right papers to sell anything. In Russia, you need permission to do just about anything. There are no five year olds with lemonade stands here. 
I cross the street, distancing myself as I glimpse the men between the cars and trolley buses tha…

Queen Lubov


It is almost three in the morning. The computer hums, chugging away. I am refining a greenscreen matte, coaxing the edge until it disappears, until the character meshes with the scene as if they are just one story.  In this episode, animated snow is falling in great drifting loops. A giant woman stands above the buildings, looking down on the city with a mysterious expression on her face. It is not the first time I have cast Sasha as an enigmatic femme fatale. She makes playing Lubov look all too easy, strutting in heels, tilting her chin up, flipping her hair.

I reach the end of the sequence, and a satisfied hush takes over the room. I sip some cold amaro, bitter and cold and syrupy. Sleep comes quickly.

The next day, there are planes flying low above the clouds. They are seeding, dumping chemicals to keep it from raining on the parades tomorrow - the 9th of May, when the Russians defeated the Nazis in the "great patriotic war". Victory day, complete with tanks and uniforms, jets shrieking overhead, music pounding, crowds waving flags, children hoisted on shoulders.

But now snow begins to fall outside the windows, and I think of the snow I watched all night in the computer, making the flakes bigger or smaller, disappearing when they got too close, slowing them down, wafting them from side to side. Here, they are real, outside the balcony and soon they are falling in great uncontrollable splotches, dark clumps flying past the kitchen as I warm up leftovers and make couscous. E is laughing, playing Christmas music and cracking jokes to her friends.

I watch the snow falling, somehow the best tv show ever. Trees green and wet are bending in the wind. The windows fog up. Drops slide past me, slow wet trickles that fall nine stories onto parked cars and those fresh stripes of paint on the road. This is Spring in Moscow, more surreal than any imagination.




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