Vo l . 7 N o . 1 anyone in the room. Cigarette smoke burns my eyes and I feel the mechanic’s one eye burrowing into my back. Ignoring him, I study the cookie tray. Garvey is next to me as someone asks in a harsh voice, “When are the phones going to work?” I turn around and see that it is the mechanic who asked the question. My cup is shakey and my heart hammers. I look at the coffee maker and see that the pot is three quarters full. Through the thick cigarette smoke, the other side of the room is a distorted lump of sordid inhumanity. Hell, I’m a sporting guy, so I respond, “The phones ain’t never going to work.” Sipping from my shaky cup of lemonade, I hear Garvey chuckling. The mechanic doesn’t like my answer. He stands up and shouts, “What do you mean? I need to make some calls.” Garvey quickly turns around, and answers, “He means unless we get some help around here we will never get the phones working. We’re killing ourselves to get the phones up. I’m working eighteen hour days.” He shakes his head for emphasis. “We’re working right now. We just stopped for a break, but we’re working around the clock so you guys can call home. If we don’t get help when we’re in your building, how can we set up your phone?”
Dacha I built the dacha for you and now you are dying. To be honest, we had parted years before the night I saw the cabin as my dacha. Our dacha. A place where we would meet again in secret, like owls hidden among trees, our feathers soft and overlapping where we lay. This morning I found a varied thrush on the deck, dead from its crash with the window pane. Sometimes I think I am the only thing living here. There are times when the sky is silver all day long, when the cabin is enveloped in a Russian white night any hour of the afternoon—that eerie absence of color and definition when the whole world seems to float in the mystical weightlessness of another time. On the longest days of June, when the sun stays up for hours, if there are clouds, this pale illumination continues on until late at night. I think of you who have never come here.
The mechanic sits down and another man, sharper looking than the rest, stands up and approaches. I move towards the coffee pot. He looks me right in the eye and says, “Thank you for the hard work. You guys are great. Keep up the good work.” He turns to the mechanic and says, “Help these guys with whatever they need. If you communication guys have any problem with my guys, let me know. “I appreciate the help, thank you,” Garvey says shaking his head. “Come on Sweeney, get some coffee and let’s get back to work.” I turn around, grab the coffee pot and fill my cup. As I’m putting the pot back on the burner, Steve bumps me with his elbow. In his hand there is a chocolate donut. He brings it to the edge of the table near his crotch and in an unmistakable pantomiming motion pretends to twist the donut on the head of his penis. He does this a few times before tossing the donut back on the table. I spurt out coffee laughing. Garvey remains all business. By the time I have my gear on, I’m laughing so hard I spill coffee all the way out the door. Reaching