[The Russian Nurse
By Brian Friedkin
Copyright © 2012 by Brian Friedkin
This story is dedicated to Violetta Lomidze Fadda, a Russian born artist who fled communist persecution in the 1970’s and went to Italy. One day Violetta, who worked as a nurse, ran into a friend who wanted to kill herself. The following story reports what happened. All the details about her family and birth during WW II are also true.
Other books by Brian Friedkin:
Zip PT Zoingzoing’s Adventures In Outer Space
More info at: Meltingclocktimes.com/zip-pt-zoingzoings-adventures-in-outer-space
The Russian nurse, Violetta, wearing a bright orange dress, a big brimmed hat with feathers and blue colored eye lashes was walking down the street and ran into Mrs. Green in front of a drug store.
“Hello, Mrs. Green, how are you? You look not very well.”
“Oh, Violetta, hello. Yes, I’ll tell you Violetta. I am very depressed. You know, since my husband died life has not been good.”
“What? Life is not good now? Was it good before?”
“Well, you know Violetta, life has its ups and downs. But before we went on with life. Now, I just think, what’s the purpose?”
“Yes, yes. There is no purpose, Mrs. Green.”
“Oh, Violetta, I miss your common sense. If there was anything good about my husband dying of cancer it was having a nurse like you around.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Green for big compliment. I always try to make death as fun as possible.”
“I’m sure my husband, if he had the choice, would have preferred to die a miserable agonizing cancer death like he did with a wonderful nurse like you, than to die a mild death with a dull, uninteresting nurse.”
“Of course, your husband was very wise.”
Mrs. Green sighed with her eyes cast down, “But he is gone now. And I don’t see you much anymore.”
“I was just going to visit you.”
“Good thing you saw me here. Because if you didn’t, you may not have seen me again.”
“No? Why, are you going to move to new city?”
“No, Violetta, you know how I told you I was depressed. Life has lost its meaning for me. I am going into this drug store here to buy sleeping pills to kill myself.”
“What? You are going to kill yourself?”
“Yes, life has no value for me.”
“Well, in that case, Mrs. Green, why not kill yourself like we do in Russia?”
“How do you do it in Russia?”
“First of all you drink some vodka. Then you eat big dinner. Not just normal dinner, but very good meal—a feast. Then you drink more vodka and eat more good food. Then you drink more vodka and then you kill yourself.”
Mrs. Green looked pensive and said, “The Russian way sounds like it is a good way to kill yourself.”
“Of course, this will be your last time to eat. Why not something very good? I help you prepare it. We will have beluga caviar. Then deep red fresh borscht with dollop of sour cream. Then, for second course, Italian pasta. Ah! The sauce! We will sauté garlic and mushrooms in thick extra virgin olive oil and throw in fresh ripe tomatoes. Then we drink more vodka—and good wine too; a dark plum colored Cabernet. Then for third course—tender prime rib steak. Yes! I know it is very expensive. But that is no problem for you because you are not needing money after you kill yourself. Then, you drink more vodka and have very nice dessert. Rich chocolate ice cream and fresh blueberry pie. And no need to worry about figure and gaining weight because you soon are dead anyway. Then you drink more vodka, perhaps a coffee and then you kill yourself.”
Mrs. Green looked pensive but soon said, “Yes, Violetta, I think that would be a good way to do it.”
“Good, so we can do that.”
“It would be very nice for you to join me Violetta. You are a fantastic chef.”
“Thank you for big compliment. I help prepare very good last supper so that you remember it for many years if you were not dead. Good! First we go in drug store and buy sleeping pill.”
The women walked in the store and Mrs. Green asked Violetta, “Do you recommend any particular brand?”
“Umm,” said Violetta, “perhaps if you eat very big dinner sleeping pill is not best way. Do you have a gun? Maybe a gun is better way to kill yourself.”
“My husband used to hunt, but we don’t have any guns left in the house.”
“Have you sharp knives? You can slit your wrists.”
“Wouldn’t that be painful? And it would make a mess.”
“Ok, Mrs. Green, we ask pharmacist.” Violetta walked up to the store counter and asked a be-speckled man, “Excuse me, Sir, what is most powerful sleeping pill you sell?”
“The man walked over to a shelf and pulled a box off and said, “This brand will make you sleep like the dead.”
“That’s Perfect,” said Violetta and handed the box to Mrs. Green.
The two went to the butcher’s and other food stores and walked into Mrs. Green’s apartment loaded with groceries.
The women went into the kitchen and Violetta got it all, the red marbled meat, fresh beats, garlic, red tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, three bottles of red wine and three bottles of vodka, a bottle of olive oil, potatoes, freshly made ravioli, a cheesecake, ice cream, chocolate and caviar on the counter tops.
“This is good food—ah, the fresh aroma!—and there is a lot of it,” said Mrs. Green.
“Do you want to want to invite someone else for your last hours? We have much to eat.”
Mrs. Green threw her hand and scoffed, “No one else cares about me.”
“Those people will regret that,” said Violetta, “because they will miss excellent suicide feast.”
Violetta opened the cupboard as if it were her house and got out two crystal glasses. She twisted off the cap of a vodka bottle, filled the glasses and handed one to Mrs. Green. “Drink!” she commanded.
Violetta got to cutting garlic and beats and putting pots of water to flames. Mrs. Green said, “Please Violetta, let me help you with something.”
“No, don’t worry. This is last meal. You take it easy. You need not do anything.”
“I don’t mind. I’ll do something.”
“No, you relax.” Violetta took a bottle of vodka and filled Mrs. Green’s glass and then filled her own.”
“I’ll help you wash the dishes afterward.”
“You know, Mrs. Green, many people will think you are crazy to kill yourself. But if you want to spend last minutes of your life washing dishes I agree with those peoples. You are crazy!”
“You’re right Violetta. Let’s leave a mess! I don’t care. Don’t you wash the dishes either. Let’s leave a giant mess for the state or whatever distant relative will come to see what they can get out of me!”
“That’s the good attitude!” said Violetta as she poured more vodka.”
The food sizzled and baked and Violetta went over to the dining room table and set it up with Mrs. Green’s best dishes from an adjacent glass cupboard. “My mother always said, ‘very important to make a beautiful table. How you make table is how you make life.’ But it is easier to make a beautiful table than a beautiful life.”
“Yes Violetta, people are making their lives like they are making their tables. And they’re making their tables with paper plates, Styrofoam cups and plastic silverware. And people are eating junk food on these tables—and we are what we eat. Who wants to go on in such a world?
“Yes,” said Violetta, “When you are dead tomorrow it will be good because you will not be in world with so many fools.”
Violetta went over to the kitchen and carried plates and serving bowls filled with ravioli, meat and vegetables. The women sat at the table. Mrs. Green’s eyes opened wide and she said, “Violetta, this table! It’s too beautiful to eat. Everything, the pasta, the crimson borscht. Ah, it is a blossom—it won’t last as we will soon devour it. I am like the gods of time who once said the same of me.”
Mrs. Green cut with her knife a piece of the prime rib and dipped it in the horseradish sauce, “Mmm, this is fantastic,” then she took a sip of wine and added, “Ah, what excellent wine.”
“There are still some pleasurable things in life.”
“Yes, but if I continued to live I couldn’t eat like this much without gaining weight and dying of a heart attack from my obesity and clogged arteries. And that would be much more painful than just doing it now with sleeping pills. So I might as well do it today.”
“Yes, you are right,” nodded Violetta with understanding. “But if you didn’t want to kill yourself why couldn’t you eat like this every day?” Violetta asked. “Maybe all the food wouldn’t give you clogged arteries. Maybe it would clean your out your arteries and the good food would give you good heart.”
“Maybe so Violetta. But you know, the world is such a mess. I think good food like this is going become difficult to get with all the chemicals and economic havoc and industrial farming that is destroying food. Why go on?”
“Yes, yes, you are right Mrs. Green. But you know, when I was a child in the days of Stalin after the great war we had not much to eat—and that is almost as bad as plastic food from big agribusiness. But we made a beautiful table, drank some tea and lived on the diet of spirituality.”
“Oh Violetta. I don’t know if I would like that diet. I don’t believe in spirits.”
“Who knows? Only fanatics are certain about anything. And it is probably better to be wrong than be fanatic.”
“And all the fanatics in this world devoted to such craziness! Why go on in such a nutty world?”
“Yes, Mrs. Green. It will be nice for you to be rid of crazy fanatics when you are dead tomorrow. The only thing good is when religious zealots knock on door to convert you or maybe other fanatics attack a city and cause war—it can be very entertaining.”
“Are you saying you are entertained by atrocities?”
“Well, they have atrocities on the news, don’t they? Is not the news for entertainment?”
“I suppose so. But I am tired of entertainment. All the same old atrocities—they get old and lose entertainment value. So you need even more outrageous atrocities to entertain you. So you become a voyeuristic sadist. You can’t win—you are either a perverted voyeuristic sadist, or you are bored. I think it’s better to just be done with the whole rotten mess. Why go on in this crazy world?”
“Yes, yes,” said Violetta, “I get sick of all the news or entertainment also. It is so disgusting that I can understand how person can want to kill themselves after watching TV news.” Violetta poured more vodka and wine and the women drank and ate more.
“Did you know I have tens of thousands of dollars and I don’t want to leave it to anyone? Violetta, I want to leave it all to you.”
“No, no I can’t take it. People would accuse me of murder. I would go to jail. “
“What? No one knows you are here. It will be simple—I’ll just leave a note and leave my money to you.”
“No, Mrs. Green I can’t take it. But then on the other hand, perhaps I should take a little something since you will not be around. Do you know what you can leave me?”
“No, what? Tell me.”
“Any of this food that we do not eat. Can I take it home since you will be dead? I don’t want to see it wasted.”
“Yes, take the food Violetta, but why not take my money also?”
“Why not leave your money for poor people?”
“Oh, if you give poor people money they’ll just become dependent on it and squander it. Then after the money runs out that I gave them they’ll be worse off than if I gave them nothing.”
“Yes, that is true. You know the expression, ‘Give a man a fish and he has one meal. Teach a man to fish and he can feed himself for the rest of his life.’ Your money would be like a fish. You must give people a way to get the fish!”
“Right, Violetta! For the poor people then, I will leave fishing poles!” Mrs. Green got up and grabbed a pen and paper from a desk and sat back down at table and drank some wine and then wrote:
“Last Will and Testament of Rosa Green.
I hereby leave,
1) $10,000 for fishing poles for poor people”
“Ah! There’s no hope for humankind—I don’t know if there is anything that humans won’t screw up. I’ll give my money to save the environment. You can’t save people—at least we can try and save nature!”
“So you want to save the wilderness and the animals?”
“Maybe it is not good to save the animals also. People would take my money and create animal refuges. Then here could become another India with the sacred cows. Thousands of animals wandering around and no one eating them would be like India—with people starving to death. Oh my, saving the animals would just create more starvation. Violetta, I don’t think I want to save animals.”
“Well, what is wrong with a little starvation? People are too soft these days. Nothing like a little starvation to make them tough. Like old people in Russia. They lived through Stalin and Nazi sieges and they are tough. Now people don’t have scourge of Communism and still all these problems. Give them a little starvation if they want to see what a real problem is.”
“Good point Violetta. I will write down $10000 to save animals in Russia so that we can help along starvation,” Mrs. Green said as she wrote on paper that was cluttered on the dining room table with the food, drink and dishes.
“Yes, yes, that is good. But what about starvation here in your own country? People are even softer here. We need more starvation right here!”
“You are right Violetta. I will write down $20000 for organizations working to promote starvation right here in this country,” said Mrs. Green as she wrote more on the page.
“Good! Let us drink to starvation!”
Violetta filled Mrs. Green’s glass and then her own. They clinked their glasses and then and each drank it all in one gulp—Russian style.
The women ate more food. Mrs. Green took a gulp of wine and said, “So by tomorrow I will be dead. Violetta, do you believe in the afterlife?”
“I don’t know. It is a strange idea. But we will see, if there is something to see, when we get there. What do you think?”
“Well, Violetta, Woody Allen said, ‘I don’t believe in an afterlife, but I am bringing a change of underwear just in case,’ which makes me think.”
“It makes you think what? What underwear you should bring?”
“Yes, I think, if I go now I can bring underwear. But I am 70 years old Violetta. What do I have to look forward to? In a few years if I would continue living I would start going senile. Then I wouldn’t even have the chance to bring underwear because I would be so out of it that I’d be wearing diapers. Half my brain would already be in heaven, if it exists, and half my brain would be here eating with a drool encrusted bib in a diaper. Is that your idea of heaven? How can you have a paradise experience in heaven with half a brain?”
“Ah!” said Violetta, “That means heaven is full of split personalities.”
“I think if there is a heaven I would rather go all at once.”
“You are right. Heaven must be worse than hell with all of those psychos.”
“Hell, if it exists, is terrible. But we have discovered heaven with half a brain is worse. That is another good reason for suicide. Life or death with half a brain is what lies ahead. I should go now that I have a full brain.”
“Yes, yes. There are too many half brains here and in heaven. Do not add another to the pool,” said Violetta as she poured more vodka.
“Violetta, why do you always call me Mrs. Green? You’re like a sister to me. Call me Rosa—my first name.”
“OK Rosa. But why do you always call me by my first name. Why don’t you call me Miss Lomidze?”
“Miss? Not Ms? Or Mrs? How many times have you been married Miss Lomidze? And you still want to go by Miss?”
“Yes. I’ve had too many husbands to keep track. That is why I always kept my father’s name.”
“But why Miss?”
“Because I am looking for new husband now. And when men hear ‘Miss’ they know maybe here can be something. Yes, I want to find 70 or 80 year old genius.”
“Why so old? You’re still in your 50’s.”
“Because men always want a woman ten years younger than them. A man my age will want a younger woman. A man ten years older than me will appreciate me. A man twenty years older than me will cherish me.” Violetta’s eyes lit up, “Yes, if I find a genius who I can companion! It will be a great life for both of us. I will take care of him and he will take care of me, and I will dedicate my life to art, and my genius senior citizen.”
“That is good for you Miss Lomidze. However, if I look for a man who is twenty years older than myself then I need to find a man who is ninety, and most men are dead by then. So I might as well kill myself.”
“Yes, you are right. Ninety year old geniuses are hard to get.”
“And also, if a man is a very famous and brilliant genius, he will still want a twenty-five year old woman. Remember Picasso?”
“Yes, that is true. I will have to find an unappreciated genius. One who is not very rich and famous. However, since he will be a genius, he will still be a little rich. That would be good for me.”
“What tender meat! I am getting so full,” said Mrs. Green as she cut a piece of the beef and put it in her mouth.
“Ah!” exclaimed Violetta as she swallowed a potato, “If you were not soon dead I think I know a 92 year old man that would have been good for you. But you will be dead tomorrow.”
Mrs. Green’s took her gaze off the food and drink and she looked at Violetta intently and said, “Oh. Who is this man?”
“Did I ever tell you about my father?”
“He was a Georgian dancer, and business mogul. He knew Stalin personally—they were both Georgians. In 1940 my father said to Stalin, ‘Come on, Josef, enough of this communism bullshit! It is stupid, idealistic form of government that will never work. Give it up.’
“So, my father was sent to Gulag in Siberia. Back in Leningrad my mother was pregnant with my older brother. So here was my mother in 1941 with baby, and husband in gulag. Then the Nazis lay siege to Leningrad.
“My father heard about the Nazis attacking Russia. So he escaped from Gulag to fight Nazis. My father became great war hero. He wears so many medals you cannot tell color of his suit.”
“Where did your father go to fight the Nazis, Violetta?”
“He went to the front, by foot, horse cart and rail and joined the fighting against the approaching Nazis. The Germans in spring and summer 1941 were gaining ground against the Russian army. Thousands of Russians retreated and vacated towns and villages. Three hundred thousand civilians came to safety in Leningrad. But in September 1941 the Nazis surrounded Leningrad. Germans fired bombs all the time into Leningrad so it was no longer safe. Barely four days after the Nazis encircled Leningrad and cut off all the rail lines and roads the Nazis bombed and destroyed Leningrad’s biggest food depot.
“Then winter of 1941-42 was bitter cold with temperatures dropping to -30 F. The food got so scarce that rations were 125 grams a day of bread. And half of that was sawdust. People were burning furniture and books to try and keep warm. But cold as well as starvation killed thousands. People got used to seeing dead bodies on the Leningrad streets.
“All this time with bombs dropping soldiers on front were fighting to drive back each other. My father in big battle on front got shot in leg. He almost lost his leg but thanks to great surgeon he saved it. But he could not walk for more than year. He has walked with a cane ever since that time.”
“And what did your father do after the German bullets tore apart his leg?”
“At first he carved wooden toys for children. Then when he was able to walk with crutches he went to work in an armament factory. When his leg got somewhat better he hobbled with cane to nearby barricades and continued to defend Leningrad and shoot at the Nazis.
“And my 92 year old father will come here for visit in two weeks. And you could have met him if you were not dead.”
“What a great man and what a story. I would’ve loved to have met your father. But would he be interested, do you think, in a woman like me?”
“Yes, my father has so much love to give.”
“But what about your mother? Have they divorced after that great love?”
“No, that is a small problem, my parents are still married.”
“I could never dishonor your mother, Violetta.”
“Do not worry about it. My father’s heart is huge. He has much love to give and he has had many lovers.”
“And what does your mother think of all that?”
“The last time my mother asked for divorce. But my father pleaded. He said to my mother, ‘Please, I love you with all my heart. I want to stay with you forever. If anything, let us stay together for the sake of our children.”
“When was that?”
“Two years ago.”
“But you children are in your sixties nearly!”
“Yes, I think they are waiting for their children to die before they divorce.”
“Your father has a wife who has a great history of love with him. What would he want with me?”
“Well, you never know. You will be dead of course. But if you were not dead I could have introduced you next time he visits from Saint Petersburg.”
“Does he even speak English?”
“Oh yes. He also speaks French, Italian, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, and Swahili.”
Mrs. Green drank some wine and said, “What an amazing man your father is. But it is not in the stars for us to meet as I will soon be dead.”
Violetta put some salad and another piece of beef on Mrs. Green’s plate, and said, “Eat!” Then she plopped some salad and beef on her own plate, and poured wine into both of their glasses and ordered, “Drink!”
Rosa Green sipped some wine and said, “You did not finish the story. In the harsh conditions of the Leningrad siege, with your father’s injured leg, how did you get to be conceived?”
“While my father’s leg did not work well another part of his body still was working. And the winter of 1942-43 was also cold. As people were dying on the streets from hunger and cold my mother and father tried to keep warm with each other. So my mother got pregnant.”
“Violetta, how did your mother ever get the energy to nourish you in the womb under those circumstances? I understand why you are a great artist now, Violetta. Because great artists create wonderments out of nothing. Your mother created you out of the scarcity and hardship of the Nazi siege of Leningrad─and you got that ability to create something from nothing from her. Did your mother actually nurse you in Leningrad?”
“During the Nazi siege of Leningrad there was only one 150 km road out during winter over the frozen Lake Ladoga. The Russians transported the pregnant women to safety in Siberia. But the road itself was not safe and countless women and children died from the Nazis bombing the icy route. But my mother, Lidia, escaped the German bombardment and travelled long road to Siberia. She travelled with my 2 year old brother and her mother 27 days in train to Tobolsk, Siberia where I was born.”
“That is an amazing story, Violetta. I know that about one million people died in the 900 day Nazi siege of Leningrad. It makes me think how barbaric humans are. What will be the next sordid chapter in the miserable history of the human race? It will be good for me to miss it.”
“Yes, famous writer Herzon said, ‘Russian history is the diary of a madman.’ But rest of world is also crazy. I can understand how living your whole life in a nutcase world can also make you crazy. Yes. But did not some good came out of people in Leningrad? Do you know Russians even laid a rail road line in one month on the frozen Lake Ladoga. Then they even put in underwater pipeline to bring oil to the city. “
“Today governments need 10 years just to build a bus stop. Do Humans need something drastic and evil to spark some good in them? To fight against such misery in World War Two took some kind of youthful idealism—a dream that the future could be something good or wonderful, and that evil is conquerable. I had that in my head as a young woman myself and I lived my life that led to mostly just disappointments and disillusions. At least I found some love and good companionship with my husband. So now I am old and have no idealism or hope. Violetta, can you live without idealism, hope and love?”
“Certainly not.” Violetta sang the Rolling Stones’ song, “Lose your dreams and you will lose your mind…”
“But the dreams, the ideals that we strive for are also insanity. Because the dreams, whether they be for a just, or beautiful, peaceful or poverty free world are unobtainable.”
“Yes, you are right and the world will always be disaster. But maybe someone can have some success with an idealistic dream. You never know. You might as well try. Maybe I am crazy to hope for that. Maybe you are sane to not have crazy dreams. You need to be crazy to live in this world perhaps. But why should we worry about the world? Let’s just concentrate on the food and drink here.” Violetta quickly poured some vodka in their glasses and commanded, “Drink!” and added, “To your health! …Well, at least for the next hour or so.”
“Violetta, The orange sun is setting in the sky. It is my last day. But your orange dress is brighter than the setting sun. Where did you get that beautiful dress?”
”You like my dress but you want to spend your last day with such drab clothes for yourself? We are almost done but maybe you should change. You know, all your clothes are pretty bad.”
“Violetta, I have a spiritual wardrobe. Maybe I am just cheap and also lazy to go and get clothes for myself. Where do you get your fantastic clothes? I guess it doesn’t matter now that I will soon be gone—but I should have asked you before I decided to kill myself.”
“Did you not know I make all my own clothes? Perhaps you are like a withered flower. But a withered flower cannot put on a snazzy new skin like us. Yes, I can see why you are depressed because you have depressing clothes also. If you were not dead tomorrow I could make you a beautiful dress. Great writer Mark Twain said, ‘Clothes make the man, naked people have very little effect on world.’”
“Thank you Violetta. I would love to wear one of your makings if I wasn’t going to kill myself. But please don’t get the idea to design something for the funeral. No one will come to appreciate it and the worms will eat your wonderful creation.”
“Maybe you should leave a note to burn yourself—cremation. But be sure they include your clothes in the fire.”
“Violetta, I don’t know if anyone will care when I am gone—Maybe you. But I think you’ll like it if my clothes are thrown in the trash along with me at least.”
“Eat and drink!” said Violetta as she found two pieces of blueberry pie and put them on the table.
“I don’t have room for this. But it tastes good,” said Mrs. Green.
Violetta brought from the kitchen two coffee cups. She placed one next to Mrs. Green’s half eaten pie.
Mrs. Green sipped her coffee and said, “Thank you so much Violetta. This was a fantastic last supper.”
Violetta picked up a vodka bottle and started to pour it in Mrs. Green’s glass. But Rosa Green held her hand over the glass and said, “Thank you Violetta, but I am stuffed and I can’t eat or drink anymore.”
“No?” said Violetta, “I am also stuffed. My o my. I’ve not eaten so much since New Year’s celebration in Leningrad when communism went out of business in 1991.”
The women sat in a brief silence and Violetta looked at Mrs. Green and said, “So, I will go home now. I think it is the time you want to kill yourself, no?”
Mrs. Green took a breath and said, “I am so full. And I am also drunk. And all this food and drink has made me so tired. How about if I just go to sleep instead?”
“And waste your money on the sleeping pills?”
Mrs. Green smiled with tired eyes, “Oh, it’s not important. Perhaps I’ll decide to kill myself again in a few days. But now I am so full and tired—I don’t even want to think about it. I just want to go to sleep. But Violetta.”
“It is late. You don’t need to go home. You can sleep in the guest room or on the couch if you want.” Mrs. Green got up to go to bed and added, “And Violetta, when I finally do kill myself I’d love to have you over again to do it Russian style. Thank you so much.”
“Thank you for having me. Next time you think to kill yourself be sure to call me for last dinner again. Good night Rosa!”
“Good night to you!”
Mrs. Green barely could keep awake to pull her off her clothes before plopping on her bed. Violetta was too tired and full to even walk over to the guest room and dove on the living room couch. She had one last thought before falling asleep: “It was a good thing Rosa didn’t kill herself. I would’ve had to go home and taxis are really expensive this time of night.”
Check out Brian Friedkin’s other book:
[Zip PT Zoingzoing’s Adventures In Outer Space
**] More info at: Meltingclocktimes.com/zip-pt-zoingzoings-adventures-in-outer-space
Read a biographical sketch and see the art of Violetta Lomidze Fadda at: Meltingclocktimes.com/artist-violetta-fadda-is-showing-the-world-real-art
In this short 5,225 word novelette's first page Violetta, the Russian Nurse, runs into a friend, Rosa Green, who says to her: “Life has lost its meaning for me. I am going into this drug store here to buy sleeping pills to kill myself.” “What? You are going to kill yourself?” Violetta asks. “Yes, life has no value for me.” “Well, in that case, Mrs. Green, why not kill yourself like we do in Russia?” “How do you do it in Russia?” “First of all you drink some vodka. Then you eat big dinner. Not just normal dinner, but very good meal—a feast. Then you drink more vodka and eat more good food. Then you drink more vodka and then you kill yourself.” Mrs. Green looked pensive and said, “The Russian way sounds like it is a good way to kill yourself.” The tale that continues is a suicide feast with the two women eating and drinking and having conversations ranging from the absurdity of life to Violetta's parents' ordeals during the Nazi siege of Leningrad. This novelette is based on a true story.