Happy Release Day! We are kicking off the Learning to Swear in America blog tour (Thank you to Bloomsbury for including our blog) with an interesting guest post from the lovely Katie Kennedy as she tells us a story of one of her Russian travel adventures! Let’s see what kind of trouble she got up to. . .
RED SQUARE AT MIDNIGHT, OR HOW I ALMOST TURNED THE COLD WAR HOT
Hey, I’m Katie Kennedy, and I’ve been asked to tell you a little about my travels in Russia. After checking the statutes of limitations, I thought I’d tell you my adventures in Red Square at midnight, or how I almost turned the Cold War hot.
I was studying Russian language in Moscow, and my roommate didn’t want the summer to end. I’m going to call her Tina. On our last night, Tina downed an impressive amount of vodka and announced she was going to Red Square to sing Moscow Nights in Russian, in Red Square, at midnight.
I went with her because she was in no condition to go anyplace by herself, and it sounded like there might be hijinks.
The ride out was fine, although there weren’t many people on the metro. Moscow pretty much shuts down at night—in fact, the last trains leave at 1 a.m. Decent people are just expected to be home by then. Moscow’s a big city—bigger than New York—and I spent the trip reminding Tina that our hotel was on the outskirts—45 miles from Red Square. We had to leave for the airport at 5:30 in the morning, or be stranded in what was still the Soviet Union.
So being on a train before the last possible one—the 1:00 a.m.—was pretty important. Drunk Tina nodded absently and sloshed around in her seat.
We got to Red Square—that’s the area outside the Kremlin (which houses the important government buildings)–and is most easily recognized by the onion domes of St. Basil’s Cathedral. There were maybe a dozen people scurrying off home.
Tina started singing Moscow Nights in Russian, and what the heck, right? I sang with her. When in Rome…violate every social norm, a little off-key.
So here’s the thing—it was just us and two sets of two guys left in all of downtown Moscow. It was 12:32 a.m. The last train would leave at 1:00 a.m. And when I turned to the metro station, Tina headed back toward the Kremlin because she was in love with Russia and didn’t want to leave.
Two drunk tourists followed her, and they were not up to any good. I had to decide if it was better to catch up with Tina and let them see that there were two of us, so maybe they would think twice about jumping her, or if they’d just attack both of us and I’d be better off to launch a surprise attack once they went for her. I decided on the surprise attack, and reluctantly headed away from the metro station.
It was 12:39 a.m. A train was leaving, and there were three left.
As I started to trail the tourists, sticking to the shadows, the second set of men fell in behind them—a couple of KGB agents trolling Red Square. Tina stumbled on, arms outstretched to the moon, still singing. The no-good tourists followed her. The KGB agents trailed them. And I shadowed the KGB guys, trying to visualize how this would all play out.
It was 12:46 a.m. Two trains left. We were moving farther and farther from the Red Square metro station.
Finally the tourists grabbed Tina’s arms and the KGB agents swooped in and took them down. They were remarkably efficient. I ran in, pulled Tina up and dragged her along—you should have seen the agents’ faces when they realized someone had been trailing them. They yelled at me to stop and hey, some people would stop when a senior KGB agent gave them a direct order to do so. And the guys patrolling Red Square, within yards of the offices of the top Soviet brass? Guys who could take other men down that fast? Yeah, they were top agents, and some people would obey them.
But not me. Because it was 12:53, and I could hear a train pulling away from the metro station. There was one train left.
And once you start running from the KGB, you’d better make it onto that last train.
I yelled to Tina that we needed to run and she was sobering up enough to understand, but not enough to move efficiently. Behind us, the KGB agents had the tourists trussed up and one of them started after us.
Ahead of us, the last train pulled into the metro station. It was 1 a.m.
We ran for all we were worth, then pounded down an endless set of stairs. We could see the empty train below us, doors open to a deserted subway platform. And then came the announcement: “Ostorozhno, dveri zakryvaiutsia”–Caution, the doors are closing.
We were on the platform. We were going to make it. And then Tina stumbled stepping into the car and her legs slipped down between the cement platform and the wheels, and the car started to move, and the doors started to shut. I grabbed Tina under the arms and pitched her into the car, and fell in on top of her.
That’s when I noticed that we weren’t alone. There were six shiny black shoes right in front of my face—I could have licked them, and frankly I’m surprised that Tina didn’t. I looked up and saw three Soviet generals sitting there, hats on their attaché cases. They had stars on their shoulders. They were the final guys out of the Kremlin, the guys who worked until the last train forced them home. They were the Soviet Union’s top military brass, and I had just tossed a drunk at them.
The KGB agent never caught us, and Tina didn’t vomit on the Russian Joint Chiefs—but it was a long ride back to our hotel. On the plane the next morning Tina slept like a baby, and I sat, google-eyed, waiting to clear Soviet air space.
ACK!!! I’m not going to lie I would have been terrified but I’d hope I would watch out for my friend too!
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What about giveaways? Do you like those?
Bloomsbury and Katie are giving away a finished copy of Learning to Swear in America along with some great swag! Want to win? Who wouldn’t?! (Everyone loves books and swag right?) Just follow the link below the pic to enter. US ONLY and ends 07/16. Good luck!
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