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In Soviet Russia, as an 11 year old, most of my weekday afternoons were spent outside, roaming the streets, hanging out with friends, causing trouble, building things, breaking things, blowing things up, the usual. Homework was left to late evenings, which reflected in my only slightly better than average grades.

Sometimes if we needed money, we'd ask kiosk owners if they wanted us to take out their rubbish for a few rubles, or help unload trucks. I was used to not having money and was rarely in a position to afford anything more than an occasional ice cream anyway, plus we were usually too busy playing around constructions zones or something similarly dangerous anyway.

One afternoon we found a pile of wet cement; someone must've cleaned their cement mixer and dumped the leftovers under my friend's window. If it was smoothed and serving a purpose, we generally would leave it alone, as troublesome as we were, we generally respected other people and property, but this was just a pile of wet cement, on the sidewalk, so we played. We'd stand in it, wait for the cement to fill in the void left by our feet, and then try to pull out feet out - a Moskvich version of what people do at the beach. I bent over to try and pull one of my feet out, and caught a carelessly thrown semi-full beer bottle with the back of my head, not where you thought this was heading eh? I managed to get out pretty quick and was bolting home before my friend even had a chance to get a foot out, I remember him yelling something, but I was already 100 meters away, feeling the all-too-familiar warm bloody mess on the back of my head, along with the jagged chunks of glass sticking out of it.

This time I was crying, I knew I was looking at a two week stint at the hospital, and for a kid like me, that was torture, weeks of white walls, freezing rooms and mind-numbing boredom. (Russian doctors treat concussions very seriously, so you generally aren't allowed to move at all for about a week)

As I was running, a worried gentleman somehow managed to get me to slow down, I quickly explained the situation and noted that windows on 3rd and 5th level were open, so it must've been thrown from one of those. I made it home, where mum must have been giving a lecture, because I remember a lot of people fussing over me as my mother pulled out some of the glass from my neck and head.

Doctors at the hospital said I was very lucky to have my concussion and that if I wasn't bending over at the time, this cool cat would be outta lives.
Coincidentally, there was a girl there the same day, who caught a champagne bottle with her head from the 11th floor, she was in critical condition, but I never found out what happened to her.

I don't remember getting stitches, I'm not sure there were any this time.

Mum was furious and contacted the police to try to get them to investigate. They told her they were busy and promptly hung up. My mother, being far from a timid woman at the best of times, coupled with the fact that her son was in ER because of some thoughtless idiot, obviously didn't take that well and after a few more futile attempts at trying to get the police to come out, had to turn to a higher power.

We lived smack bang in the middle of Moscow (less than a kilometer from the government house (the Russian White House), and she, being a very social person and a doctor who did pediatric house calls, has amassed a network of friends, some of whom worked in unusually high places. As you may have guessed, she was on the phone to one of those friends happened to be a high enough ranking officer of the KGB to be able to pull some strings. Shortly after, she got a call from the local police station saying that they'll be sending out some officers to investigate.

I remember being in bed, a brightly lit hospital room that almost hurt my eyes, and two police officers in contrast, with their dark uniforms asking me questions. Not much chit chat in Russia, I told them about the open windows and they left.

After I was in the clear, they stuck me in the general ward, and if I recall correctly, this was the one with the bully. His ultimatum was to run around the hospital naked, or get beaten in my sleep. I told him I have a concussion, and I'm not getting out of bed, especially for a knob-jockey like him, as you can imagine I didn't sleep well there. I think I somehow managed to get my parents to take me home early and I spent a week in bed at home instead.

After more than a week with no word from police, despite my mother's multiple attempts to get some answers, she was once again on the phone to her friend. After some to-and-fro his roughly translated final response was: "If you want someone to go to jail and you don't drop this, that someone will be you".

The unofficial story is that the gentleman from the 5th floor paid off the cops, and the corruption runs high enough that even our high ranking KGB friend was powerless to do anything.

The back of my head is now a mosaic of small scars, which I only get a glimpse of at the hairdressers, at the end of a haircut.

< Stasik's scars >

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