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 Chapter 19

The Mongol Factor

Temujin was a teen-ager with a problem. His grandfather might have been a powerful man, but he himself was head of the remnant of a tribe which consisted of nothing but a bunch of women, children, and sickly old men. Not only that, he was presently a captive of his enemies, enemies who, when they thought no one would particularly notice, were going to behead him. Tied to the ground with a great wooden collar around his neck, the odds didn't look promising.

The man who was to be Genghis Khan started by persuading some of the villagers to feed him and loosen his collar a bit. Then, when he escaped into the marshes, he prevailed on them not to give him away, again at considerable risk to themselves.

Time after time, as the years slowly passed, Temujin made a unique impression on the people he met: people who came to kill him decided not to; people who had known him for only five minutes decided to join him and risk their lives for him; generals and kings, on no evidence whatsoever, decided that he could be trusted. And so he gained power, increment by increment.

But, still, there were many Mongol chieftains with ferocious followers. The ferocity came with the territory. The winters of northeastern Siberia were exceeded in severity only by those of Antarctica. The gales that swept the mountains and drove all before them on the bare plains made life so unpleasant that no one had much to lose. A clean quick death was preferable in many ways to a prolonged tortuous survival. A sudden dawn strike at the camp of a neighboring tribe thus constituted a win-win situation.

Most of these chieftains had command and control problems. When they won, they raped the women of the vanquished tribe and butchered as many of the livestock as they could eat. However, the victors then tended to drift off to their own isolated areas with as much as they could carry on their ponies. The commander knew that, the next time, they might as easily be enemies as allies.

Temujin, alone among the chieftains, was an effective military adminstrator. He was the only one who built up stable regiments, each called atouman. He eventually had divisions, corps, armies, and army groups, each unit being made up of ten sub-units. Over a couple of decades, the warring tribes in the region from Lake Balkash to the China border found themselves sending reports to a single man quartered in Karakorum. At that point, and not before, the Golden Horde came into being as a geo-political force.

Later on, when the Horde had rolled into China and across high Asia to Europe, there was the element of free- floating fear. People who had never been within a thousand miles of Genghis Khan decided that it was best to do exactly what he said, not neglecting to collect convincing evidence of their actions. That, again, was a matter of good administration, good administration of terror.

Some eight hundred years later, there were many Mongols who resembled Temujin to some degree. They still won battles. There were, in nineteen thirty nine and forty, two defeats of the Japanese, including a total chewing up of one of the best imperial divisions. That was in the undeclared war on the borders on Mongolia. A little later, there was the defeat of the Germans before Moscow when the Mongol troops, in white uniforms, came charging out of the snow storms. There were still cases where they had ridden their fierce little ponies up to the edge of battle, and even into it. Only the re- curved bows with which they had conquered half the world were missing.

There were also, at this late date, some individuals of Mongol descent who resembled Temujin in other, more particular, ways. People who didn't know thought that Madame de la Billiere's charm had to do with her being French, and even people who knew she wasn't French thought it had to do with her being Russian. But, in fact, the electric first impression she made on almost everyone she met wasn't common among Russian women. The remarkable extent to which people wanted to follow her and be smiled on by her had its roots in something older, more primitive, and much more Asiatic.

Another modern offspring of Temujin was Comrade Igor Mihailovich Kublaikov, whose translator Madame Billiere had been. Comrade Kublaikov had enjoyed his part in the slaughter of that Japanese division at Nomonhon, but his satisfaction was limited by the fact that he served under a Russian commander, Zhukov. It was really an insult that a former cavalry sergeant in the Czar's army should command the forces of the Khargan.

Kublaikov's resentment had been tempered by the his promotion to a rank normally reserved for Russians, but he still smoldered dangerously. In front of Moscow, it had been the same story. Another successful campaign, another enemy routed, but, still, Russian commanders at the divisional level. And, above them, was this same Zhukov.

Kublaikov's problem, though he would scarcely have admitted it, was partially an internal one. His own name, while derived from that of Kublai Khan, was itself Russianized. Moreover, unlike his brothers and cousins, he had been singled out for a special education, one that was more Russian than Mongol. It had done nothing to diminish his ferocity in battle, but it had made things rather awkward for him with his own people.

People who have partially split personalities often create problems for those around them, and Comrade Kublaikov was no exception. He could be urbane and charming, intelligent and informed. But he might occasionally give his wife the sack at dinner and promote someone else's wife in her place. Similarly, while he was too civilized to go up to a man and cut his head off with a sword, as his ancestor would have done, Kublaikov's political enemies were likely to have sessions with the Mongolian branch of the NKVD which ended with the same net effect.

Tall for a Mongol, and with a striking penetrating gaze, women, even knowing how dangerous he was, often fell in love with him. Men generally felt some anxiety in his presence, and the general feeling was that it was much better not to provoke him. Indeed, even his relations with Stalin had been unusual.

Stalin most often treated his subordinates as buffoons and ridiculed them. But he had treated Kublaikov with a respect reserved for very few men. Kublaikov, for his part, had found something sympathetic in Stalin. It was perhaps because Stalin, as a Georgian, had come from another remote mountainous area with a medieval and murderous way of thinking about many things.

It was a half-joke of Kublaikov's, one he actually shared with Stalin, that the man who best personified Genghis Khan in the modern age would be the warrior who was best fitted to be a bureaucrat. Stalin agreed and jumped Kublaikov up the party hierarchy.

When Tom Williams went out to Virginia in early August, he heard a good deal about Comrade Kublaikov. At one point, Anne-Marie said,

"I suppose he did more or less appropriate me in front of my husband. And I must have co-operated, at least implicitly. I was so distraught at that point that I hardly cared. Besides, it was a relief. If the person you're married to is gradually going hopelessly crazy, or you're convinced that he is, it's better to have done with it."

"After your husband was dead, did Kublaikov try to take advantage of you?"

"Surprisingly not. Igor cannot be counted on to act as a barbarian. He can be kind, patient and understanding in the way of an American gentleman, Colonel Smith for example. The trouble with Igor Mihailovich is that there's no way of predicting which way he'll be."

Tom, as curious as he had ever been about anyone, encouraged her to continue her story. Anne-Marie gave him a funny smile and said,

"Igor sent for me and said he was very sorry, as if he'd had nothing to do with it. He suggested that it might be good for me to go ice-fishing with a group of young Pioneers who were on vacation from Tomsk. I went, and it was good for me. We built huts on the ice of Lake Baikal, the deepest and most beautiful lake in the world, and I enjoyed the boys and girls. I had no cares for the first time in years, and, when they asked me questions, I told them the story. They were quite sympathetic."

"What happened after that?"

"When I came back with the Pioneers, we were all laughing and having fun with our arms around each other. We were gathered on the main square when, suddenly, Igor turned up. He didn't ordinarily meet groups of Pioneers, but he met this one. He just came to me and smiled. I introduced him to the young people, and they were suitably impressed. I then said goodbye to them and left on his arm. That was that."

"You mean, you just went off with him?"

"He tidied things up. Our troupe was disbanded, and Igor hired me as his official translator between Russian and Mongolian. Although his Russian is very good, he would often insist on speaking Mongolian to powerful Russians on official occasions, and would have me translate. He thought that it gave him a psychological advantage, and also gave him more time to compose his answers."

"Is your Mongolian that good?"

"My mother and her mother spoke it at home, particularly when they didn't want my father to understand. I wanted to know their secrets so I learned it."

"You must have learned some other secrets in the course of all this translation."

"The CIA was disappointed in them. But it was fun. When important officials meet, each has his own interpreter, and it becomes rather intimate, four people crowded together, but two trying to be non-persons while the two principals watch each other's reactions and play on each other."

"Mr. Seiss claims that the CIA interrogators are all incompetent."

"They're like policemen, lots of rapid-fire repetitive questions, and they want short quick answers. It drove them crazy when I couldn't remember the exact dates of things."

"It sounds as if Seiss is right."

"So, then, if I do turn out to have some interesting memories, you can take credit for discovering them."

"I guess I just want to hear your story."

It seemed that marriage was never mentioned, even though a vacancy had been created in that area. Comrade Kublaikov had evidently had enough of marriage. Anne Marie said,

"At first, I was just happy to have been rescued. A year or so later, I would have liked the relative security of marriage. My whole position in society was terribly precarious and utterly dependent on him. He also had violent rages. I had to be careful not to offend him, even by accident."

"It sounds a lot like living with Genghis Khan. At least now, you can say and do whatever you like."

"Yes. I appreciate the freedom. Of course, I'm in an alien culture and there are constant gaps of understanding. For example, I went to a baby shower for one of our cooks who got pregnant. Whenever she opened a present, everyone squealed. I tried to squeal in the right way at the right times, but people just looked at me in wonder."

"I've never been to a baby shower, but I doubt that I've missed much."

"They're silly, but the fault is sometimes mine. I was invited to a faculty party when I first came here, and I went to the store to get a dress. I came across a beautiful pale green one in a material I'd never seen, and I wore it. I found out much later that it was a nylon uniform for a waitress."

"You know, I've always liked those uniforms. I bet you looked great."

"Do you like them because it's so easy to see through them?"

That, of course, was a good deal of it. Tom responded lamely just as they arrived at the restaurant, a different one this time. This restaurant was in a larger town, a small city really, and it was much less pretentious with nothing more than a store front to greet the patron. The waitress was friendly, asking them where they were from, but seemed surprised to have customers come from any distance.

They both ordered roast turkey dinners with stuffing and cranberry sauce. Then, without Tom's having to make any conscious effort, the conversation shifted to Anne Marie's further experiences with Comrade Kublaikov. She said,

"It was in fifty one that I went with him. As one of Stalin's favorites, he gained influence and position in the party, virtually month by month."

"Did you actually meet Stalin?"

"Yes. On several occasions. He wasn't very impressive in himself, that is, apart from what one knew about him. He also didn't seem to be very interested in women. I got to know his daughter, Svetlana Alliluyeva, much better. She had a great many problems, as, of course, one would expect."

Tom showed interest, but was careful not to pry. Anne Marie didn't tell him what those problems were, but went on,

"Stalin's death in the spring of fifty three turned everything upside down. There was a period in which a number of people, including Malenkov, Bulganin, and Khruschev, struggled for power. Igor was never a candidate for the top spot because it could never go to an Asian, and he was too young besides. But he was also the most powerful Asian, and, whoever won, he had a relatively secure position."

"Did he still have to try to guess who would win and curry favor accordingly?"

Anne Marie laughed.

"He may not have had to, but he did. He chose Khruschev."

Tom gathered that it was a bit of a joke that such a Stalinist as Kublaikov chose the man who was prepared to challenge the Stalinist legacy and tradition. As she said,

"Like Genghis Khan, Igor had the inspiration to do the unlikely thing and make the right choice, even if it hardly made sense to anyone else."

Khruschev, for his part, acted in a way that was only sensible. Being engaged in a power struggle, he was hardly likely to refuse the support of a powerful man with a powerful constituency. What if his principles were somewhat barbaric? What could be expected of a Mongol anyway?

On the other hand, Khruschev didn't take to Igor the way Stalin had, and was probably a bit nervous with him. Anne Marie had been the translator between Kublaikov and Khruschev more than once. She said,

"Igor was full of ideas, many of them extremely bellicose. It seemed to me that they often upset Khruschev."

"So you met Khruschev too. What did you think of him."

"He does seem like a clever peasant. He also seemed a little more interested in me. But, as before, I was sent off to talk with the women when they no longer needed me to translate. I had long talks with Nina Petrovna while the men drank."

Tom had heard of Khruschev's wife, but knew little about her. He asked,

"Is she like Mamie Eisenhower?"

Anne Marie laughed at that idea.

"Nina Petrovna is much stonger, much more sensible, and probably has a much more powerful influence on her husband. It was somewhat ironic because, at the same time that my man was exerting a bad influence on Nikita Sergeivich, I was with the woman who was doing her best to counteract that influence."

"But she didn't hold it against you that you were with Kubliakov?"

"Oh no, she understood. At first, she might have hoped that I could moderate him, but she soon realized that it was hopeless. From then on, she just gave me sympathy. She's a very wise woman."

At that point, the dinners arrived. There was turkey, but it was covered with much the same thick unpleasant gravy so favored by the Hot Shoppe. As they scraped as much of it off as they could, Anne Marie said,

"I see that I misjudged the other restaurant. The food there is actually quite good."

"It's odd that, in such a generally cultured and civilized area, there seems to be a genius for bad cooking."

There was nothing wrong with the cranberry sauce, which presumably came out of a can, and the stuffing was only moderately noxious. Still, Tom was hungry enough to eat almost anything, and Anne Marie herself ate some of the turkey. The waitress came back to be reassured as to the quality of the food, and Tom and Anne Marie both were enthusiastic, assuring her that it was the best they had had in town. That was enough to get her to go away, and then Anne Marie said,

"I'm still not sure whether the whole thing with Igor was a mistake or not. I know how it came out, but I don't know whether I was true to my feelings."

"I hardly ever know whether I'm true to my feelings. I don't think I'd even know how to tell."

"Before, you told me about the girl you had in college who married someone else. You must have known how you felt about her."

"I didn't feel good about it. But the thing I remember best was her telling me that she didn't love the other man. I really don't think it was a trick to get me. She wasn't at all devious. She just thought that she and he were well- suited."

"That was still a thoughtless thing for her to say to you. If you were losing her, it must have made you feel even worse."

"Well, I was good at hiding emotion. I suppose I still am. It isn't that long ago. But there wasn't much I could say. It was clear enough that, whatever I did, she wouldn't choose me."

"No. You loved her, and she didn't love anyone. She probably thought that the other man was more likely to be a solid respectable citizen."

"I'm sure she did. She wasn't really as hard as that sounds, though. She was the daughter of an Episcopelian bishop, and that seemed to have something to do with it."

"So young, but so accepting of the tragic. Even before it happens. Didn't she have any sense of joy?"

"She wasn't a depressed girl as a general thing. She was companionable and amusing. She was just trying to make the most rational choice. I can see that that isn't a very Russian thing to do."

"Well, of course, I made a compromise when I accepted Igor. I was still in love with my dead husband. But I'd been through a lot, and, even then, I think I was more romantic than this young woman seems to have been. She should have chosen you, but it's probably lucky for you that she didn't."

Tom remarked,

"This little affair seems so trivial compared to your experiences."

"Things like that can still shape someone's life for better or worse."

"But it's not like being virtually abducted by a Mongol chieftain."

Anne Marie looked over the restaurant with its local people before she replied,

"These things happened thousands of miles from here in a place with an entirely different kind of administration. Genghis Khan didn't do the western thing of punishing behavior you don't like and positively re-inforcing what you do like. That's what we do at the Fairmile Academy. His negative responses were so out of proportion to what had gone wrong that the persons concerned couldn't perform even the most ordinary actions of daily life without a dread of potential consequences. Not only that, the ordinary citizen had to seek to prevent other people from doing things that might bring terrible retribution on the community as a whole. Living with Igor was rather like that."

"But the wife he got rid of at dinner hadn't done anything wrong, had she?"

"It was Igor's view that his woman must be the most beautiful and desirable anywhere around. If he didn't have the best woman, it cast doubt on his own prestige as, in effect, the Khagan of Soviet Mongolia. He dealt with a woman who lost such a competition as Genghis Khan might have with a general who lost a battle. And like his ancestor, Igor wanted such things to serve as examples. He wanted me to see what had happened to his wife, and know that it could happen to me too."

Tom thought that it would be tactless to ask if she had herself been dumped, and, when he hesitated, Anne Marie answered.

"Igor's wife had an advantage that I hadn't realized. She was sitting down at the time."

It had happened at a party for western communists on their visit to Paris. There was a young French girl, presumably a devout communist, who flirted with Kublaikov. That was all it took.

"He came to me, fired me as his translator, and told me to go home. He then turned away and never looked at me again."

Even sitting in the booth, Anne Marie looked momentarily as if she might be sick. Recovering, she said,

"Nothing had been wrong between us. There was no warning whatever."

She hadn't quite fainted, but it was fortunate that there were two aides to Kublaikov standing near her.

"I was like one of your injured football players being dragged off the field. Each man had me by one arm, but my legs lost all power, and they had to lift me totally. I was dizzy and went limp. My dress tore, and even my shoes fell off. I can remember that we stopped and a woman came and put them back on my feet."

"Were you in a hotel?"

"Yes. Our room was right upstairs, but, of course, I knew better than to go to it. After I got walking, the men put me on the elevator and sent me down to the lobby. I just sat there for a long time. I no longer had any home to go to. So I defected. There really wasn't much else to do."

At that point, the waitress came over with the dessert tray. The pies and cakes looked better than anything they had previously had, and they each had one. Tom had a forkful of chocolate cake half way to his mouth when Anne Marie said to him,

"Now that I've told you my secrets, you must tell me a deep secret to show trust. Make it a state secret. Something that would put you in prison if I betrayed you. You aren't a coward, are you?"

Anne-Marie looked at Tom most alluringly as she leaned toward him and touched him, grimacing only when she mentioned the possibility of cowardice. Then she laughed like crazy. It was a joke, much like Boris' joke that they spy on each other, but, this time, much of the humor lay in his reaction to it. He ended up laughing himself, and Anne-Marie said apologetically,

"I don't get much opportunity to be a femme fatale these days."

"I bet you could femme fatale the boys in your classes, not to mention some of the teachers."

"Most American men seem to be afraid of me. Do I lack subtlety?"

Strangely affected by Anne-Marie, Tom said suddenly,

"I'll tell you a secret. I'm having an affair with the wife of a colleague. I don't know if he knows."

She wasn't as surprised as Tom had expected.

"Are you enjoying it?"

"I guess so. She's a little crazy, I think. Not in general, but where such things are concerned."

"Many people are. I think that is not so bad if no one gets hurt."

It wasn't long before Tom had revealed most of the details. Anne Marie was more serious than she had been before. She said casually,

"My husband liked to be whipped. I didn't much like doing it, but, if nothing else had been wrong, it wouldn't have spoiled things."

"I don't suppose Kublaikov wanted to be whipped."

"No. But I wouldn't say he was a better man for it. If he hadn't always insisted on being in control of everything, he might have been easier to live with."

Anne Marie had a rather grave cool look as she spoke, for the first time not making a joke of things. Tom noticed how very black her eyes were, with their faint Asian cast, and how they contrasted with her entirely western face. She touched his hand and said,

"We'd better be getting back. I still have many papers to correct."

They had almost reached Fairmile when the sirens went off. It was impossible to imagine that they were being tested at ten on a Saturday evening. Tom immediately switched on the radio, and they listened in silence to a love song. Then, before the song ended, the sirens stopped abruptly. Anne-Marie said,

"This happened once before. The sirens went off accidentally, or, more likely, as a result of a prank by the boys at the college. Everyone's heart stops for a bit."

The disc jockey was going on inanely, and Tom agreed,

"That must be it."

He nevertheless left the radio on, and asked,

"Did you also have to go through this in Russia?"

"Yes, there were air raid alarms even in Ulan Bator, and, of course, Siberia is full of military sites. Whenever there was an alarm, we went careening out to the airfield."

"What happened there?"

"There was a special bonber that could fly very high and very fast that was provided for Igor. The idea was that it would go high enough to be safe, and would then land at Stalinabad when the attack was over. I was ashamed, really. We were to escape, and everyone else was to be left to be destroyed."

Tom was instantly alert. He didn't ask where Stalinabad was, or what its significance was, but instead,

"Did you ever get airborne before the mistake was discovered?"

"Once. In the middle of the night. I was strapped into a seat with all kinds of dials and switches in front of me, and we took off in a great rush. We really expected to see blinding flashes on the ground and great mushroom clouds coming up. I expected that the earth would be turned into something like the surface of Mars when we came down, and I doubted very much that we could survive. Igor didn't seem particularly upset. Even when he heard that there was no attack, he didn't seem particularly pleased. We'd gone several hundred miles, and, when we finally got back, I felt absolutely drained of emotion. I went home to collapse while Igor put in his normal day."

When they came up to the steps in front of her door, Anne Marie went up a couple of steps and said to Tom,

"You might as well call me Elizaveta from now on. It's my real name."

Tom was facing her, his head on a level with hers, but a couple of feet away. It was a light night, and her white skin and black eyes contrasted sharply as she smiled slightly and inclined her head to the right in her characteristic way. He wasn't sure what to do, but found himself reaching out with his arms. She took them and reached to kiss him on the lips. He was a little surprised, and was beginning to kiss back when she disengaged quickly. She was then up at the top of the steps, her skirt swirling above her knees as she waved and called good night. After she disappeared, Tom walked slowly back to his car.

Stalinabad turned out to be about two thousand miles from Ulan Bator. From the fact that Elizaveta had been put in a crew-man's position, bombardier perhaps, Tom concluded that the aircraft had been some sort of medium bomber whose normal range wouldn't be that great. It had evidently been loaded down with fuel in place of bombs. Why, then, was it so important to get to Stalinabad?

The answer stared at him right from the page of the atlas. Stalinabad was near Samarkand, but closer to the Afghan border. Indeed, it was the closest of any of the cities of the Soviet east to a foreign border, not counting those on the border of China. The assunption must have been that, while Blue would nuke China, a neutral country like Afghanistan would be spared. Blue would be soft-hearted.

At eight o'clock on Monday morning, Tom arrived at Mac Hollins' office. Hollins hadn't yet arrived, but his secretary eyed Tom owlishly and said,

"I guess something big came up over the weekend, huh?"

She was a rather irritating middle-aged woman, and she had placed Tom in a dilemma. He had obviously given himself away with his all too evident excitement. If he now confirmed that something big had happened, he would feed the rumor mill once more. If he tried to deny it, he would only look foolish and ineffectual. He said instead,

"Yeah, we won the soccer game on Saturday."

That stopped her. Of course, they didn't win or lose games, not even keeping track of the score, but he had played well. He therefore regaled her, in painful detail, with his heroics. She probably knew that it was a smokescreen, but, he thought, she might be less nosy and more professional in the future.

When Mac saw Tom waiting, he swept him into his office, closed the door, and asked,

"What happened?"

"I saw the defector your friend, Mr. Desmond, sent me to. It turns out that the General Secretary of the Mongolian Communist Party flies to Stalinabad in a fast plane whenever there's an air-raid alert."

Mac actually knew where Stalinabad was without asking or looking it up. He replied,

"So they figure the periphery is safe. I wonder if the Moscow people also go there."

"I don't know. I might be able to find out."

"Don't push too hard."

Mac mused for a minute and said,

"This has an immediate significance, and a more important longer range one. We could start by suggesting that SAC target Stalinabad. They've got so much overkill that they're always looking for new targets. They'd probably do it even if we couldn't tell them why they should."

Tom interposed,

"More important, we may be beginning to find out whether they think they could survive a war, and what kind of plans they might have for afterwards."

"Exactly. The more detailed and elaborate the plans for afterward, the more likely it is that they think that they could achieve their goals despite a nuclear exchange."

Tom replied,

"The CIA has already had a chance at this person. They evidently missed almost everything of importance."

Tom then told Mac about Mr. Seiss and his opinion of the interrogators. Mac replied,

"It would be interesting to know whether you're getting material from this defector that the Agency missed. But, even if they have messed up, I don't think I'll fill them in. It's the sort of thing that should have come to us in the end, and I have no objection to getting it more directly through you."

After the next soccer game, Tom said to Boris,

"I just met an American industrialist who's been touring Russia. The places he liked best were Leningrad and Stalinabad."

"He has funny tastes. I myself prefer Moscow to Leningrad, and Stalinabad isn't Russia at all."

"I don't know how he happened to go there."

"Probably because it's exotic and eastern. They take tourists to places like that. I wouldn't know anything about it if my sister and her husband didn't live there."

Charles, ever helpful, said,

"It's hard to imagine that you have a sister, Boris. That means there's at least one woman under forty toward whom your intentions are entirely honorable."

"You should see my sister! I've always wondered how I managed to keep my hands off her. Her children are beautiful too, little blonde girls wearing the bright clothes of Central Asia."

Tom fell silent for a while. Not that it really made any difference. In the event of a full scale nuclear exchange, it probably wouldn't much matter who was targetted and who wasn't. Still, it was an odd feeling.

Tom was aware of Charles being able to read him. Charles knew that there wasn't any touring American industrialist, and, seeing his reaction to Boris' remarks, Charles may have guessed something like the truth. Boris, however, was well started. He asked Tom,

"Are you, too, going to tour Russia? Perhaps to see if you like it before you defect?"

"Well, of course, I would like ..."

"Let me teach you what you will need to know. In Russia you need only know how to say three things. In any conceivable circumstances, one of them will be the right thing to say."

The first of these things sounded rather like,

"Daz draaft vuyet Sovietski Soyuz."

Tom practiced it until Boris was reasonably satisfied. It turned out to mean,

"Long live the Soviet Union."

That seemed appropriate enough, and they went on to,

"Eediot par planu."

Boris explained,

"This is to be used whenever anyone seems concerned about anything, whether it has anything to do with you or not. It says that everything is going according to plan."

In view of their previous discussions about Gosplan, that also made sense. The third thing, to be used in all situations not covered by the first two, was,

"Byob twayu bessarabska mach."

Boris said,

"This must be uttered with a certain truculence and a dismissive gesture. It means, "Go fuck your Bessarabian mother."

There wasn't much rational discussion after that.

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