Somewhere high above in the cold, dreary sky, an airliner rumbled along, either leaving or making for Pushkin. By the revving of the engines, as he perceived the sound, he assumed it was departing. But he didn’t check, instead keeping his focus on the green steel tube on the sidewalk, readied on its bi-pod next to a display of furry, ear-covering women’s hats. She was handling one of them, a rich, dark brown one when he broached his concern.
‘Do you think I can buy this? Is this even legal? I get the feeling a newcomer like me should probably inquire of the FSB before getting such a weapon. I’m not even eligible for a smoothbore at this point, and I don’t want to get deported or anything.’
‘Heaven forfend,’ she said, still feeling the soft ear flaps. ‘We can’t have that. And, while I can’t be certain—who can—I assume anything they sell here is legal. Of course, I would not, being you or me, dare ask the FSB about that stupid thing. And you’re not getting it. How, one wonders, would they react when you carried it into the Metro?’
‘I hadn’t thought about the logistics, no,’ he said. ‘I mean, it’s just so cool. And cheap for— I assume this is cheap for a, what is this? I think it’s a— Hang on, serial’s still on it. It’s an RM-38!’
‘And you’re not getting the stupid MR-whatever.’
‘Not on the train obviously. But who doesn’t want a fifty-millimeter Soviet infantry mortar?!’ He was standing there admiring the thing while wearing an excited boyish smile. He looked most optimistic.
‘I do not,’ she answered. “Why is it even here? Of all the things you could have found at Levash…’
‘I’ll see if the man will hold it. When I buy the Niva, I’ll come pick it up!’
‘Your business, renegade. Father would join your mad endearment for the sad little pipe. And are you still considering the uncomfortable, tiny mud plow?’
‘It’s your car,’ he defended. ‘And it’s classic. Even in the name.’
‘LADA sells much nicer, more comfortable, and more practical cars, my dear. And some of them are four-by-four, like all rednecks love.’
‘Hey! I’m okay with it. Just don’t talk about my people like that.’
‘Not just yours,’ she said. ‘Every culture has them. Our boys in the Urals, some not too far from here too even have y’aaaall’s saying: Эй, вы все! Смотрите на это! You know, Hey, y’all! Watch this! Usually accompanied by alcohol and firearms. Just before some localized calamity.’
‘Good to know I have the approval of the Ural boys. Think how nice this mortar would look in the back of a shiny new mud plow four-by-four. Or maybe resting out the passenger window!’
‘I think you may have had too much to drink at lunch. But—thinking— You should really think about using your full first name,’ she said with a bright, energetic smile.
‘Really? I don’t want to sound pretentious.’
‘No, it’s anything but that. It, especially to us, and given what you do and want to do, it sounds so authoritative. Regal, almost. Put that on a treatise or novel and it will command attention. Especially if you added a little Corinthian helmet icon or something. I love the short name, but we’re talking about grandeur now. My sweet Perry, Перри with the и. Spell it out with your “y” and people might think you’re a cider made from pears.’
‘Can’t have that,’ Perry said with a grin.
‘Buy me this hat,’ she said sweetly but instructively.
‘That’s a dead animal, you know?’
‘I know. Probably a mink. I like it and I want it, so you buy it. We have no crazy, blue-haired eco-nut girls here. I’m at the top of the hat chain.’
‘Poor, unwanted, little mink.’
‘I just said I want him. And, you know I hunt. Kill it, clean it, eat it. Now, wear it.’
‘I’m starting to think I want to marry you,’ Perry said.
‘Well, good boy! Also, think about using your real name,’ she said. ‘And how did your parents come up with it?’
He quickly paid the old babushka seated next to the mortar and assorted arms man. A quick inquiry was launched about holding the cannon, though it was cut short by her huffs and tugs on his arm. As they started to walk towards the exit and perhaps something to snack on for the short ride back to the city center, he explained:
‘At Dad’s old school, the archeology department had a little museum. Next to a mock-up of an Egyptian sarcophagus—I can still see the place—they had a replica bust of the general, helmet and all. The story goes that Mom and Dad were loitering around a few months before I made my first appearance. They talked about him, and me, and decided if he’s a boy. And so forth.’
‘That’s so nifty,’ she said. ‘And original. And again, it makes you sound like someone important, which of course, you are. Promise you’ll think it over.’
‘I will,’ he said. ‘Now, Julia, if I do, will you be my Aspasia?’
‘No promises, specifically on the nickname,’ Julia said. ‘A name of the muddy waters maybe. And I don’t mean the jazz man.’
‘Julia,’ he said again, slowly wrapping his arms around her. ‘I just asked you if you’d be my Aspasia. You just said you love your Perry. He’s kind of got a thing for you too. Be my girl?’
In a fair turnabout, she kissed his nose. ‘He mentioned something about getting married too. Of course! I’ll be your beloved Aspasia — just don’t sully my reputation around like so many poets and philosophers.’
‘That I can avoid,’ he whispered into her ear.
‘Ironic, no?’ she asked.
‘She was a metic. Here and, for now, that’s you!’
‘I know, right?’ he said as they resumed their slow stroll. ‘And that means I must be careful with acquiring heavy weapons.’
‘I’m sure it’s a replica,’ she said. ‘Or properly deactivated.’
‘Can’t be too careful,’ he said; ‘this is Russia and all.’
‘Countries!’ she said, concurrently putting a little skip in her step. ‘Tell me about that strange idea that you’ve been whispering about on the friends and family flipper.’
‘You don’t want to rehash empire-approved IDF airstrikes on hospitals, churches, mosques, and refugees? Or the vicious demands of lunatic neoliberals named Haley and Graham?’ he asked, thinking for a split-second about the rank degeneracy of the dead country he’d left, finding a hollow embarrassment in his own words.
‘No. You and the others covered that in too great a detail the other day. No homos and harpies now.’ She slipped on her hat and tugged the flaps down tight over her ears. ‘Tell me, tell the poor mink about this rebel plan of yours.’
‘Very well, my sultry Aspasia,’ he said. At that, she rolled her eyes and lightly elbowed his ribs. But he continued: ‘It kind of started with that joint discussion the departments had about de Gaulle and his Free French government. Privately, we Americans kept up the talk and it sort of morphed into a crazy idea.’
‘Then it’s American,’ she added.
He gently returned the rib knock, followed by a mussing disarrangement of the departed mink, and kept going: ‘So, despite all that I have going on here, and despite all the problems back home, the barest suggestion was made. A vague, uncertain, and probably most untenable idea. Given that my people are utterly without representation in the GAE, and given that they’re oppressed, hated, and essentially leaderless internal exiles, and given that I’m here— Mention was made of a Confederate States government in exile. The accursed Yankees have never really abated their hostilities towards us, and we have no way of opposing them—at present—from the occupied heart of their evil empire of lies. It makes a degree of sense.’
‘And only a degree,’ she said. ‘Maybe a fraction of one degree. How, exactly, would that work?’
‘I have exactly no idea,’ he said with a chuckle. ‘I suppose I’d have to go through Foreign Affairs. I’m sure they would scoff at the idea with all the other headaches everywhere. Maybe once your father, the professor, and a few others with direct friendship allow me to become acquainted with the President, maybe then I’d have some sort of long-odds shot.’
‘I’m sure he would scoff at the idea too,’ Julia said.
‘I’m scoffing at the whole thing now,’ he rejoined with another chuckle. ‘The last thing I want to do is come across as needy or burdensome. Or insane. It’s really the furthest thing from what I’m here for and what I’m planning. Not sure how any of it would work, even if everyone granted us permission with open arms and hearts. The old true believers, the ones who still mentally live before 1860, would probably want to pick up precisely where our forefathers left off. That wouldn’t work. I’ve previously mentioned setting up a shadow government of sorts. Disbelief or disinterest might be the best description of the reaction to that. They suspect, probably correctly, that what the Nation of Islam is allowed to do, we would not find so easy. That brand of reluctance makes sense. Heck, they’re imprisoning our people for lighting torches at night and making memes on Twit-bird. So many issues. Too many for now. We have no means to renew hostilities on our part despite their never-ending attacks on us. And the old Constitution would need, in my mind’s eye, a major overhaul. A total purging of any and all Enlightenment baggage. Then, there are the vital issues of economics, territory, and the radically changed demographics of the old CSA. No one, myself included, has really thought through those. If we’ve even thought of them at all. If any of it ever happened, it might be safer to start from the serenity of the outside. But, again, I scoff. For now.’
‘Purge the fire out of the Enlightenment, the father of postmodern, so-called rules-based, Anglo-Zionist globalism,’ she said knowingly. ‘What are you thinking? About that overhaul? A Christian aristocratic monarchy?’
‘Do the tiny degree I am thinking, yes,’ he said. He then saw something just ahead and to the side of the walkway and gestured towards it. ‘Snack pancakes from a robot vending machine! I’ve been wanting to try those. Perfect for the ride home?’
She happily agreed, and they dialed up pancakes, which would end up being more like rolled crepes, filled with a sugary concoction of fruit and cream cheese. While they watched through a window as a buzzing tube coated and recoated batter on a heated tray, she thought of a pertinent question.
‘Will you, my Perry, be the first reigning monarch?’
‘Good grief! I had not thought about that! Not really my cup of tea.’
‘But you are here, the representative among the free,’ she said. ‘General de Gaulle was the leader of his resistance in just such circumstances. Your namesake too, kind of, in a different sort of way. And as you’ve noted, and I’ve independently observed, there is no true leadership far away and no real way for it to arise or take office or effect.’ She was wearing, if only for a moment, her very serious academic face, which delighted him even as the suggestion made him ponder their shared sanity.
‘Let’s just put this one to rest, for now,’ he said with a shrug. ‘Besides, I want to hear more about the special project revisiting the meaning of The Brothers Karamazov. That or plan out a space in the flat for my mortar!’
‘All of that,’ she said as she scooped two paper-rolled pastries from a little door. ‘Or the hilarity of KINO’s Мама анархия. Or better yet, how this flea market compares those in Dixie. Or best of all, the right wine for post-pancake revelry.’
With visions of renewed nations safely out of their minds, nibbling sweets while speaking to saccharify, soft and low, they made their way to the train station. A hallmark of their afternoon adventures, the fall sun began to set, settling them into a chilly evening. Inside a carriage, as it rolled south, having finished her pancake, she cuddled against him. Raising her face to his, and arching her eyebrows in revelation, she said, ‘You certainly have the name for your hypothetical station: Pericles in exile.’
Perrin Lovett is a novelist, author, and small-time meddler. He is a loveable, unobtrusive somewhat-right-wing Christian nationalist residing somewhere in Dixie. The revised second edition of his groundbreaking novel, THE SUBSTITUTE, is available from Shotwell Publishing and Amazon. Find his ramblings at www.perrinlovett.me. Deo Vindice!