You know I am capable of heroic deeds. Well, I could say the same about mean, low behavior—sometimes one just longs to play a dirty trick on someone—even on one’s closest friend.—The Words of Zakhar Mikhailov, The Agent Provocateur, Addressed to The Commission of Inquiry in 1917; see Article By N. Ossipovsky in “Byloye,” 1922, Vol. VI.

At times, for no rhyme or reason—mean, evil thoughts flash across one’s mind…—N. I. Pirogov.

…Allow me to behave like a cad!—One of Ostrovsky’s Heroes.

A mean action requires sometimes as much self-denial as an act of heroism.—From A Letter by Leonid Andreyev.

One does not learn anything about a man through his deliberate behavior, it is his headlong acts which reveal his real self.—N. Leskov in A Letter to Pilayev.

A Russian wears his brain tilted to one side.—I. Turgenev.

My father was a locksmith. A large man, so very kind, and so merry. He looked out for something to laugh at in everyone. He was fond of me and called me Karamora—distributing nicknames all around was his chief amusement. There is a big mosquito, rather like a spider, commonly called Karamora. I was a long and lanky boy; my favorite pastime was bird-snaring. I was lucky at games and quick in a fight.

I have been given reams of paper: to write down how it all happened. But why should I write? They will kill me anyway.

Rain is falling. Actually tumbling down, columns, stripes of rain moving over the fields to the town, and nothing can be seen through the wet veil. Thunder and other noises rumble outside the window, the prison has grown silent, it shudders, the rain and the wind push it about, it seems as though the old building glides on a soapy surface, rolls down the slope towards the town. And as for me, I feel like a fish in a net.…

It’s growing dark. What shall I write? Two men lived inside me and the one didn’t stick to the other. That is all.

Perhaps that is not so. Whatever it is, I will not write. I do not want to. What is more I do not know how. And it is too dark to write. No, Karamora, better stretch ourselves out, have a smoke and think a bit about things.

Let them do their killing.

I haven’t slept the whole night. The air is stifling. After the rain the sun has scorched the earth so severely that a moist heat, as from a steam bath, pours through the window of the cell from the fields. In the sky the quarter-moon shines like a sickle, reminding me of Popov’s red mustache. All night I kept looking back on my life. What else is there to do? It is like peering into a chink and behind the chink is a mirror in which my past is congealed, reflected. I remembered Leopold, my first teacher. A small hungry Jewish schoolboy. I was nineteen at the time and he was two or three years younger. Consumptive, short- sighted, with a sallow little mask of a face, a crooked nose, all purple and bloated from the heavy spectacles. He seemed to me a comic character and as frightened as a mouse.

All the more remarkable was it to watch how boldly and cleverly he tore down the veils of falsehood, how he gnawed at the external links that tie people together, revealing the bitter truth of innumerable treacheries between one man and another.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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