Travel to the Ukraine might hold more then one expects.
| CHAPTER 1
It was an early spring day as Ivan walked along the path leading to the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains. Life was good. He never felt more at peace with himself than when he was alone. Just himself and mother nature. There was nothing better than springtime, when everything was coming alive. The breeze was balmy, with the air turning warm. The grass was turning green along with the trees leafing out.
The only one that could make him feel guilty was maybe his wife. (Sometimes you had to save money to make money.) He had met her on a sojourn to L'viv. He didn't know why, but they seemed to mesh instantly. He had brought her back to his hometown and married her, many years ago. Their common goal of home and family was the glue that held them together. He knew she had not expected this life when she married him. It was a quiet life without a lot of possessions and human comforts to be had. Their currency, the Ukraine Hryvnia was hard to come by and electricity and groceries at the store demanded money.
That was why he was out here now. You either found your own meat, or you went to the local locker and bought it. "Oh darn" he thought; "Here comes Timmur, of all people. He owns the locker and he'll tell me that my credit's good with him. And if the amount gets too big I could pay him in other ways besides money. When asked what other ways are he would say, 'Help me butcher, or maybe your wife and daughters could work for me'. Like I would ever let him get close to my wife or girls. Not after bringing home that thirteen year old girl from L'viv a couple of years ago I won't. She had been terrified of him. For a whole year he had kept her. 'Till her mom got better he said.' I didn't believe a word of it. Ever since I knew him in primer school I was terrified of him. Being a year younger than him, he bullied me to no end. When I brought home my wife Nikia, he took one look at her and told her, "You're to beautiful for Ivan. Leave him, you can do better with me. Twice the house and twice the man. She was nice about it and told him, "As long as Ivan is alive, that's all I need." Now he treats me like a long lost friend. Like last month. We met, at about this same spot and he wanted to know all about my rifle. Make, model, where I had gotten it, if I made my own shells, and if it was the only rifle I had."
"What a fine morning, Ivan. Going out to try your luck on a deer today?"
"That I am Timmur, I'm between jobs with my uncle and cousin, and it's a beautiful day to do this."
Kneeling down Timmur commenced showing Ivan his rifle. "Look, Ivan" he said; "I've found a rifle just like yours. Rubber butt on the stock and everything."
Ivan leaned over to get a better look as Timmur put the butt on the ground. Too late Ivan realized Timmur's hand was on the trigger and the barrel was looking at him. Then everything turned black!
She sat drinking her coffee in the local cafe, wondering what to do.
Nikia had came to this town with her new husband to live eighteen years ago. He had grown up here, whereas she had been the outsider trying to fit in. The first few years were kind to them. Four children in the first five years. Then it was decided four were enough. Being a mother had been her greatest joy, and her children were still her most prized possessions.
Last year her husband, Ivan, had died in a hunting accident in the Carpathian foothills. They had always gotten by with him helping the neighbors and relatives with odd jobs until his demise. Upon his death, the Regional Police confiscated Ivan's rifle, because they said, the serial number was ground off. She didn't know why Ivan would have done something like that.
Last week Friday, the banker said he had loaned her all he could on her house and was threatening to foreclose. The food store shop didn't want to give her any more credit and her electricity had been shut off six months ago.
Her thoughts were interrupted by a strange man coming down the street. Not only was he a stranger but he was also odd. He had a long thin face with big ears and black rimmed glasses. Looking around while he strolled, he would do complete turns while he looked.
Thin and tall, he walked proudly. No, like a cat. Stopping at the cafe, and walking in, she could see he was about sixty years of age. And then he looked at her. Not with both eyes, but with one. The other went off to the side by twenty degrees. The eye looked old when he took her in, and then smiled. She couldn't explain it. Nothing of the rest of the face changed, just the eyes.
He sat down at the counter and said something in a foreign language to the waitress. She was amazed when the waitress answered and took his order. She had not known that Anashka spoke more than Russian and Ukrainian.
After Anashka took his order and money, she came back and kept talking to him. After a while Anashka came over and asked, "Would you like some money?"
"Very much, why?"
"He would like to save money by living with somebody."
"I'm not that kind of girl."
"No, Nikia. Someplace that's cheaper than a boarding house and lets him live with people. He was looking for a older couple, but I thought of you."
"Who is HE?
"My house is too small."
"He was a farm laborer in his country, and lived in farm housing."
"How did he get here?"
"He gets a pension from his government. He's seventy two years old."
"Really!" said Nikia in amazement.
"I think he has lived well enough, maybe hard. He doesn't drink or smoke, and he's half German, so I think he's probably careful with his money. I would say that's why he's looking for a cheap place to live."
"He's too late. I'm going to have to marry Timmur, even if I don't want to," Nikia replied.
"Don't do that. This is your way out. He's not a pervert like Timmur. I think he's safe. Ask him if he will give you money up front."
"You ask him. I need ninety-four hundred Hryvnia for three months.
"Isn't that a little high?" Anashka asked.
"In three months he'll be gone, and I'll have to marry Timmur anyway."
"I'll say four months up front, ninety-four hundred Hryvnia," Anashka suggested .
"Gha, I'll do it!"
Anashka went over and started talking to the stranger again. After a few minutes she waved Nikia over to the counter.
"He wants to know if you can drive a car?" Anashka asked.
"You know that I sold my car."
"If he bought a car?"
"Why?" Nikia asked in amazement .
"To travel the region, see the Carpathian Mountains."
"He would pay for all the expenses?"
"He says so."
"My four children would go with us?"
"Let me ask him." Anashka said, and again switched to English.
"Sir, you would have to let the children go along and pay for anything they might need?"
"Ask Nikia if she would pack some of the food and take it with us?"
"Nikia, he thinks you can pack some of the food for meals."
"I can do that. Ask him about the money again?"
"Sir she says she can do that. She's asking about the money again?"
"I'll do it if she will go to the bank with me so I can make a transfer to her, OK."
"OK, I tell. - Nikia you take him to your bank, and he will give you money."
"G ha, tell him thank you, and you too!"
"You can maybe, tell me that, four months from now. - Sir, she says thank you."
"Tell her thank you. I hope in four months we can talk to each other. Now ask her if she would want anything to eat before we go."
"I think a kuffla would be good. Nikia, he wants you to eat with him. I'll get you a kuffla. All right?"
After the meal, they went to the bank, and he talked in English to the banker. After a while the banker told her there was ninety-four hundred Hryvnia in her account . She paid the sixty-four hundred she owed on her house and wrote out two drafts to the butcher and food store.
Then they went and looked at mini-vans at the used car sales lot. She dickered and screamed at the man, and Charles just smiled with his eyes. After she had decided what and how much they would spend, all three went back to the bank, he signed a withdrawal from his American bank and she drove the car dealer back to the dealership.
Then they got food from the store and finally Charles got to see his new home for the next four months. It was smaller than he had anticipated, but he knew if anyone could make it work, Nikia would. It was a two bedroom home with a living room and kitchen and path to the outhouse, around to the back of the house.
Nikia commenced putting food away and when she opened the refrigerator, no light came on. He realized there was no electricity when he turned a light switch on. Nikia looked at him and he completely grasped what straights she had been in. Nikia just shrugged like, 'What did you expect,' and pointed to the wood stove.
About a half an hour latter, the children started coming home. It was fun, watching their expressions while inquiring about him. He couldn't understand a word they said, but he knew exactly who they were talking about. The children were introduced to him as they came home. Jennica, a girl about thirteen, Natacha, a girl a little older, Grigori, a boy, maybe fifteen, and Verna, a girl about seventeen. He could see their clothes were nothing fancy and their shoes were old. The sole of one of Grigori's shoes was even taped to hold it on.
At dinner the conversation was subdued and everyone was politely busy eating. The food consisted of cabbage soup, called Borshch with bread, pork roast, with fried potatoes, and sweet cakes, called Torte for dessert.
After dinner, Charles noticed Nikia talking to Grigori, and then Grigori left. Bed time came and Nikia made up the sofa for him to sleep on. He realized then, that was where Grigori usually slept.
Going to the outhouse to do his business he could see the outhouse needed help. The outhouse was threatening to tip over, with the hole in the ground close to being full, plus caving in.
The next morning breakfast was not much more than bread, milk, and coffee. It was a nice day and Charles was eager to get a start on it. "Petopah,Anashka," he stated.
At the restaurant Charles and Nikia had coffee and waited for Anashka to take a break. Charles started in as soon as Anashka sat down. "Ask Nikia what it would take to turn the lights back on."
Anashka talked to Nikia and replied. "Six hundred thirty two Hryvnia.
"Ask her if we could buy a full size bed for the living room?"
"I have one you can use.
"Does she have a spade or sand shovel."
"I ask.------ yes, both, in her shed.
"Ask her what it would cost for shoes for her boy?"
"Anashka replied; Three to four hundred Hryvnia."
"Ask Nikia if she would start teaching me Ukrainian?"
"You mean the language?"
"Yes the Ukrainian language."
Charles had to set back after that and let them talk for the next half hour, till he finally stood up, "Tell Nikia we go to bank and electric office! How do you say shoes and walk?"
"You wait awhile. Nikia has some questions for you. Why you come here by your self? You don't have wife? Do you have children? You looking for Ukraine bride?"
After answering all the questions ,"No, I'm not looking for a wife. My children are grown. My last wife died from a brain tumor. I've always wanted to see the world and the Carpathian mountains."
Then Anashka asked, "Can you have children?"
"Isn't that rather personal? But no, I can't have children."
"Nikia ask me to tell you about Timmer."
"Who is Timmer?"
"Timmer is the man that owns the Butcher store. He wants to marry Nikia."
"He likes girls. People say he has bought girls and has done what ever he wants. He doesn't want Nikia. He wants her daughters!"
"What? Are there not laws against this?"
"Does this not happen in your country?"
"Yes, I guess it does. But this is a small community. Would the people here allow this?"
"People here think Nikia will be a burden to the community unless Timmur marries her."
"But they know what he is!" Charles exclaimed.
"They think he has changed and this is good for them and him."
"And Nikia has no choice?"
"Until you came, no."
"And when I leave, then what?" Charles asked.
"Maybe you take her and her family with you." Anashka said hopefully.
"I am a Christian. Do you know what that means?" Then Charles continued. "I believe in Jesus as well as God. And one of the teachings of a Christian is love your neighbor as your self. I guess Nikia is as close a neighbor, in need, as you can get. Tell Nikia I'm seventy two years old and if she wants her and her family to go with me, she will someday have to bury me, and she will have to marry me! This is a responsibility. She is laying her life down for the good of her children. Can you make her understand this? For better or worse."
"I will tell her. -------------- She will not do this if you do not want to."
"I want to, but only if she wants to."
---------------- "Nikia says yes, when."
"Today! I ask?" ----------------"We go to L'viv."
"Yes I am going with you and Nikia and the children."
"We make sure it is Marriage, and everything is good. Right?"
"And what about your job here?"
"The cook is owner, and he can get his wife to work till I get back." -------------- "He says if I leave not to come back."
"Well I suppose we should leave then."
"I will get coat."
"What about your pay?"
"I will get nothing, so I will not ask."
"OK, lets go. I guess the new basement to the outhouse will have to wait."
"What did you say?"
"Just a little American humor. The outhouse is no longer in the picture, top priority, will have to wait. Understand?"
"I not understand. What do we do next?" Anashka wanted to know.
"Pack, tell the children. They need some clothes! Is the prices better in L'viv?"
"Yes, they are."
"OK, Nikia and I will break the news to the children. Here is some money. Fill the car with petro and come back, OK."
"OK, I drop you and Nikia off."
"Anashka, tell Nikia we will have lunch and wait for the children to come home. We will pack some food for us to eat on the road to L'viv."
While Nikia was preparing food, Charles sat down and watched Nikia work. "So this is going to be my new wife. And me at seventy two years of age. I don't need a wife. But from what I see, she needs me. Now it is up to me to help them adjust to a new life in America. Teach them English. Send the children to school to learn to read and write English, plus be tolerant of others. Teach them about Christianity! After having the communists here in this country for a century and a half, they need all the help they can get."
Meanwhile Nikia would look at this man every now and then, thinking, "I can't even talk to him and yet he's taking over and helping me. Wanting to fix the straits I'm in and my very life. I've never met a man like him before. My dead husband wasn't even this generous. Maybe it comes with getting old and facing a short time to live. The children are going to think I'm crazy. I don't feel that way. I feel like a huge burden has been lifted off of me. I don't know why, but I feel like he would never do me wrong. He's more then twice my age. What would happen if he would all at once die? He can't die! At least not yet."
Anashka was taking care of filling the van, when she had a thought that made her pause, "I've been wanting to get out of here since I came. I could get in the van and drive anywhere I want. But then what? Sell the van. Work somewhere else. Different place. Same old thing? I couldn't do this to Nikia. Not being as precarious as times are for her right now. I've got to see where this leads."
Verna was sitting by herself outside the school eating her cold pork sandwich when Yourie, the dairy farmers son, sat down by her. Yourie was in his eleventh year of school like her, and had always been shy around her. To Verna he had always smelled like cows and a dairy barn.
Yourie seemed nervous, but had a look in his eyes that said, look at me. "What are your plans after we graduate this week."
"I don't have any. Verna replied, I wanted to go to the University in L'viv and I'm graduating with a five point grade average, but since my father died last year we have no money for school, even with the scholarship that's being offered. I've been accepted into the University, but there is no way I'll be able to go."
"Well, I've never studied like you did, Verna," Yourie replied, "I've always knew I wanted to stay home and help Dad. Could I interest you into staying and helping us? You've always been the smartest and prettiest girl in our class, and maybe someday you would be willing to be my wife and make a life here with us."
"Yourie, I don't know what to say. I always thought I would, maybe, become a teacher."
"Verna, even if you became my wife, I don't think Dad would consent to you getting more education," replied Yourie. "Only because public schooling is free was I able to go to school as long as I did. He always says he can use me at home more. What do you say Verna? Would you be willing to come out next week and start working. Mom said she would have a room ready that you could stay in?"
"I don't know Yourie. This is very sudden. Let me think about it." Verna replied. Meanwhile she was thinking, 'What other choices do I have. If I went to L'viv without money, life would become worse than here. I can't stay here, there are no jobs. Yourie has given me the best choice for my life, so far. Maybe I should say yes and hope for the best."
"Don't wait too long. Mom says I need to start looking before all the good girls, that I know, are gone. Besides there is no reason why I should be a bachelor."
"Thank you for thinking of me Yourie. I'll tell you as soon as I know." And to herself she said. "Not no way, no how! Why can't we be like last year when Daddy was still here. Now we have nothing."
Later that afternoon Grigori, Natacha, and Jennica, were coming home from school, talking about their house guest, wondering what he was doing in the Ukraine by himself. Jennica spoke up, "He's so different from any one we know. He's not demanding or impatient, but he watches everything you do."
"He's an old man trying to live as much as he can, before he can't," Natacha added.
Grigori injected, "When mom sent me down to the butcher shop to give Timmur the money order to pay the bill, Timmur was not to happy. I could tell. He asked me how my mom got the money, so I told him St. Nicklaus came early. You should have seen the look he gave me. I'm going to have to tell Anashka to tell Charles not to go anywhere alone."
"Grigori, Jennica asked. Timmur isn't a bad man is he?"
"Bad is as bad does. I think Dad was right. Timmur is good as long as he can't be bad. I don't think you girls should go anywhere alone either."
Grigori thought back to growing up with his Dad. His Dad had always taken time for him and many times they had sat on a rock overlooking the town, and did nothing but talk. He knew his Dad was disappointed in him that his grades were not better, but to his Dad grades weren't everything. Honesty, fairness, and treat others as you would like to be treated, was more important than grades any day.
When the three got home, their Mom was there to meet them, and set them down. With everyone there Nikia explained they were all going to L'viv and she was going to become Mrs. Charles Delser tomorrow if at all possible.
Verna spoke up in perfect english asking, "Sir, why in the world would you do this or even care to do this?"
"Verna, Charles replied, I didn't know you spoke my language?"
"I've had two years of English in finishing school."
"And you thought, why speak to him if I don't need to?"
"Kind of like that."
"Have you ever heard of helping the widows and caring for the orphans?"
"Some where I think." Verna replied.
"Well that's part of it. I've worked all my life helping others and being useful. I feel like I've been missing a reason to live since my wife died. I've been doing what I want to do for this last year, and I've found it's not enough. Does that make any sense to you?"
"I think so."
"I don't know what made me come here, but I felt like I let the Lord move me and here I am. It doesn't feel like it's been just two days since I've been here or have known your Mom. It feels like I'm home, with you all around me. Does that make any sense to you."
Anashka meanwhile had been translating to Nikia, who all at once burst into tears and ran into Charles's arms, while the three younger children looked on in wonder! They were going to L'viv and this man was going to be their father?
Nikia gathered herself together and said, "Go get your coats and go to the car. Lets go!"
"What about other clothes?" Verna asked.
"I've got night clothes for you and the girls. Tomorrow Charles will buy us all new clothes. Now let's go! Go-go-go!"
All at once it felt like an unexpected holiday in the middle of the week. Everyone was laughing and shouting and clapping, except Grigori. He was looking down at his shoes that were held together with duct tape and just shook his head, like this was unbelievable!
Grabbing everything they were taking and running to the van, Charles motioned Grigori to get into the front with Anashka while the two younger girls jumped into the back. With Nikia in the middle of the second seat, between Charles and Verna, a lively conversation ensued. Verna proceeded to inform Charles about school in the Ukraine. A five point grade average was like an A, with primary, secondary, and finishing education was eleven years of school. Then, if your grades were good enough. the University was a four year school.
When Verna asked Charles if he would help her go to the University it made him pause, "Isn't there low income loans you can apply for?" He asked.
"In this country everyone is poor. There is, if your Father signs for the loan".
"Verna, Would you like to teach the Russian Language?" Charles asked.
"When will you turn eighteen?"
"In seven some months. Why?"
Charles replied, "If I could adopt you and your brother and sisters before you turn eighteen, you could become citizens of the United States, and go to school in L'viv with a student loan from the United States. Study the languages and come back and teach Russian and Ukrainian in the States."
"Do you really think I could?" Asked Verna.
"We'll see, but I think so."
By the time they got to L'viv it was getting dark with Anashka driving into a nice looking Hotel.
"Charles," Anashka said, "I and Nikia will go inside and see what is here, and how much."
"OK, Anashka." Charles replied.
Coming back they said, "Three rooms, four hundred Hryvnia, two nights."
"Is that all?" Charles asked. "That's like nine to ten dollars a room per night."
"They always charge Americans a lot more." Anashka said. "Now when we go in don't say a word or the price might go up."
"OK, Anashka, I won't!"
Going into the Hotel, Charles saw that Nikia and Anashka had rented one room with two beds and two rooms with one bed in each room.
Charles was surprised when Anashka drew him off to his room and said, "Nikia is sleeping with you tonight."
"Why?" Charles asked. "She can wait till after we are married!"
"She wants to be sure she's not making mistake! So you be good. G ha?" Anashka replied.
"OK, I'll be good! But once I've loved her, in my eyes, we are already married, and the rest is just paper work."
Charles replied, "Can she understand this?"
"I think so. I'll tell her."
Slipping out of his clothes and into bed, Charles all at once felt like he was in a prearranged altered universe having completely lost control of his surroundings. All he could do was bow his head and say, "If it be your will Lord, if it be your will."
When Nikia slipped in and locked the door, then headed to the bathroom, Charles could tell she was very nervous. When Nikiia came out of the bathroom she was in the buff and Charles could see she was very thin. The thought that was embedded in his mind was, "I am so sorry you had to suffer like you did. Never again will you be in want, if I can help it!" Then she slipped into bed, and the two became one.
In the morning the new couple, going out to the car, were grinning from time to time and Anashka couldn't help but give Nikia a bad time about the night before, "You don't need to grin about it, Nikia"
"I'm just so happy Anashka!"
"You're going to make me jealous, Nikia."
"You should be, Anashka! You should be!"
The feeling of a holiday continued as they stopped at a cafe on the way to the clothing stores. Nikia was surprised when Verna asked her Mom to sit with Anashka and Grigori. When Charles asked why she replied," Me and my sisters would like to get to know you better." Once seated Jennica started talking to Verna. Verna turned to Charles and asked, "Jennica wants to know why you slept with Mom before you were married? Is this something you will expect from all of us? For all you are doing for us?"
"No, Verna. And I'll tell you why. Marriage is a lasting commitment, and a desire to want to please another before yourself. I feel my commitment to your Mom makes us married, and we will have a marriage contract between us today, hopefully. My Christian religion says, 'till death do us part', with no room for infidelity, which means not having sex with other people. And since marriage is between one man, one women , the law insinuates you are to be treated like my daughters. Does that make sense, Verna?
"I think so Charles. I will tell my sisters.
Verna chatted back and forth with her sisters for a while and then asked another question, "What if a boy wants to marry one of us, but can not wait."
"In my country, boys do this to girls all the time. And usually it doesn't turn out well. The boy isn't a true Christian and is leading the girl astray with his talk and promises, or he was sincere and life leads him astray. What is left is broken hearts and promises. And quite a few pregnant girls, with no one to turn to. A written marriage contract helps with the question of sincerity. All that's left is the commitment to work and grow together to make it work. Most of the time that takes a lot of prayer too." explained Charles
"Thank you Dad!" Verna gushed, "May I call you Dad?"
"I'd be very happy if you would." Charles replied.
Meanwhile Anashka was translating to Grigori and Nikia what Charles was saying. Grigori's thoughts were, "He can not die. I have got to protect him, somehow. Timmur will probably try to kill him or threaten to kill him if he stays. He does not realize it but he is risking his life helping us."
After breakfast the rest of the morning was spent buying clothes for the family. After lunch that afternoon they went to the courthouse to get the marriage license. Charles had all the necessary documentation and Nikia's documents were in the courthouse, so everything went smoothly. Charles was told there was a waiting period for adoption after forms were filled out. Plus he had to gain approval of the United State Government. In order to do that he would have to go to Kiev to the American Consulate for forms. After he was done asking questions, he said ,"Shall we go?"
"Go where?" Anashka asked.
"To get married!" Charles replied.
Verna stated. "We got to wait for the Judge for you and mom to get Married."
"No!" said Charles, "There is a Christian Minister at the University that will marry us.
"How do you know that?" Verna asked.
"I looked up Missionaries on the Internet before I left the U.S.
"Are you sure?" Anashka asked.
"This is what Internet phones are good for. I even have an address. Lets go!"
Going through town Anashka got a lot of, turn right next block, two blocks turn left, and then, this is it lets go in.
It was mid afternoon before Charles entered the missionary's office. Inside he found a young and pretty secretary, that was painting her nails and looking bored.
"Could I talk to the Reverend Huegall," Charles inquired
"I no understand English. I ring Reverend."
Fifteen minutes later Reverend Huegall came in looking disheveled, like he had just woke up.
"What can I do for you sir," the Reverend asked.
"My Bride and I would like you to officiate our wedding."
"I can't just do that," the Reverend said. "I've got to talk to both parties and counsel them if they are suitable to be married, or not. Can we make an appointment for tomorrow morning."
"That might be fine for you sir, but I really would rather be married today. Would it help if I gave a donation to your work here in the Ukraine."
"I need two witnesses from the Ukraine, and I need to talk to you for a minute"
When Charles sat down with the Reverend, the first question asked was, "What are you doing traipsing around at your age, in a country that isn't safe for an old man to be in, much less an American?"
The Reverend persisted, "They will take you for all your worth, and you won't even have money to get home."
"If that's the case, I'm sure it will be well worth it. Besides, I'm sure, if put under a magnifying glass, we all have some faults we wouldn't want exposed." replied Charles.
"Lets not be hasty. The ministry can always use more money for Gods work. As long as I know you are taking marriage seriously."
With Anaska and the young secretary being witnesses, by six in the evening every thing was signed, and they were on their way to a cafe.
Sitting around the table at the cafe, Charles asked Verna if she was registered at the University.
"I am," she replied.
"Good, in that case, we will stop at the courthouse and get our marriage license registered, and then we're driving to Kiev."
"We are, why?" Anashka asked.
"We need to get forms and fill them out to take these kids to America."
"What are kids?" Verna asked.
"I probably shouldn't have used that word. It's a slang word for children, that a lot of Americans use. Actually using proper English it means the young of goats, and you children definitely aren't goats. Which reminds me, when we get back from Kiev we need to start learning English along with reading and writing it. Tomorrow maybe we can start singing the alphabet song."
"What?" Verna asked.
"You mean you never sang the alphabet song? We'll sing it in the car tomorrow. And maybe start learning English words."
Later at the Hotel, Anashka talked to Charles on another matter, "Grigori is worried about you. He thinks we should have protection when we go back home to Chizhki."
"What kind of protection are we talking about?"
"Maybe a small handgun."
"Are you sure this would be necessary?"
"Yes, me and Grigoi really believe we need to protect you."
"And what do we need to do to buy a handgun."
"Legally we need a gun permit and I could apply for one, but we don't have time. We could buy one in Kiev on the streets if we are careful."
"Illegal gun, is that what your saying?"
"I guess that is what I am saying."
"Well, if you and Grigori think we need one, you will buy it, and I will keep it. A fifteen year old boy could get into a lot of trouble carrying a gun. OK."
"OK, we will take a little trip down to the other part of town when we are there."
"That doesn't sound safe to me."
"We will be careful, do not worry. Good night."
"Good night Anashka, talk to you in the morning. Oh Anashka, how long will it take to get to Kiev."
"Eight to ten hours, depending on the road conditions."
"OK, we'll be up. Good night Anashka."
The next morning was early in coming, but everyone was excited about the trip. A quick breakfast, shopping for food for the road, filling with petrol,stopping at the courthouse, and they were on the road by ten hundred hours.
The rolling hills turned to flat land and warm weather. The drivers kept switching in order to give each other a break, and even Verna drove a little while, on a traffic free strip of road. Charles thought, for being the main road between city's, the road wasn't that good.
The game of exchanging words all day, between Ukraine and English and singing the alphabet song, they were all brain dead, and tired, by the time they arrived at Kiev at nineteen hundred hours. Anashka drove the last miles and seemed to know where she was going.
Finding a nice clean Hotel made Charles smile. He still couldn't believe how cheap the ladies were getting the rooms.
That night at the cafe, Charles asked everyone if they would like to see the sights for the next few days since they were in town anyway. Nikia stated that they had only missed one day of school, and now that school was out, they had nothing to hurry back for.
The next day at the American Embassy, while filling out forms and application's, they were told they would have to come back in three days for finial verification. Anashka was surprised when Charles asked her to fill forms out too.
"How can I go to America?"
"You will go as Nikia's paid companion and translator."
"I have no money to go. How can I?"
"I'll pay and keep track of how much it cost. If you pay me half when you can, the other half will be pay for helping us. OK."
"I do not know what to say. How can I ever repay you for doing this!"
"You can call me Dad if you want."
"It would be my pleasure to call you Dad. Dad!"
"I know. You make me proud to call you my Daughter."
For the next three days they toured The Golden Gate, St. Sophia Cathedral, St. Michael Cathedral, St. Andrews Church, Old Kiev Hill, Kontraktova Square, Independence Square, Pyrohoshchi Square, Samson's Fountain, and places Charles couldn't even pronounce.
For the three days Anashka acted as tour guide and admitted she had grown up here till she was sixteen. From Charles observation, he thought Anashka seemed tense and very aware of people around her.
On the third day at the Embassy some facts about Anashka were uncovered. The person at the Embassy, that was handling their paperwork, asked Charles if he would be a character witness for Anashka. When he said "sure" and asked why, he was told she had been picked up for prostitution when she was sixteen. It was then that he understood Anashka and the city of Kiev.
For three days he had been aware of scantily clad girls throughout the city. After having been to the Embassy, Anashka and Grigori wanted to go to the other side of town, so Charles went with them,while the rest of the ladies stayed at the Hotel. Charles gave Grigori money, and with Anashka giving Grigori advice, on what to say and do, Grigori walked away on his mission. While Grigori was gone, Charles asked Anashka about all the scantily clad girls around town. Anashka answered, "They are working girls. They will do anything that people ask them to do for money. Besides the obvious, they will run errands for drug dealers, pick pocket tourist, and when they are older will become addicts."
"Can't their parents support them?"
"Support them! The children support their parents. I was lucky! I never knew my father and my mother died when I was sixteen. That is when I left the city. For the last nine years I have been looking for a better life."
"How did you learn English."
"I left with a man that smuggled me out of the country. Two years ago he got tired of me, and sent me back. All he thought about was himself. When I started questioning him, about exactly what he did, he was tired of me. That is all."
"I'm so sorry Anashka. I don't know what to say." exclaimed Charles.
"Your the first person I have told this to. And now, how you treat me, will change."
"Your right Anashka. Now I'll have to constantly tell you how great a person you are. Daughter!"
"Oh Dad, thank you."
By that time Grigroi had came back with a short barrel 44 revolver. Giving it to Charles, Anashka asked. "Is this something you have fired before."
"Oh yes, except for the short barrel we're old friends. This pistol I'm very familiar with. I see Grigori, you got shells too."
When they got back to the Hotel, Anashka found a very concerned Nikia to talk to. "Anashka," Nikia commenced to say, "If Charles is found with a gun in his possession, he would be taken out of the country and we wouldn't be going with him. You know that, don't you?"
"Don't worry Nikia, if I would be questioned, I would say it is mine, and I would be left behind. G ha?"
"G ha! I don't want to risk losing Charles or this opportunity."
"I will talk to Charles. Anashka said, I have a few idea that might work for us."
The next morning was packing up and heading to L'viv and then back home. Having been gone for a week and now going back to their hometown, was necessary. One, to wait for the adoption waiting period, and two, maybe have the house sold. As Charles said, "While we are waiting we can fix up the house some, and also drive around and see the mountains."
Driving to L'viv one day and then back home the next day, they all felt like they had changed. They had spent time learning English, and Charles felt they should continue doing this, plus learn to write.
That night after arriving back home, Nikia was chattering to Anashka. Anashka turned to Charles and said, "Nikia does not want you leaving the house after dark."
"Why would she want that?"
"She and her children have seen evidence that someone has been watching the house for the last couple of years. They think it is Timmur."
"I think, if there is someone out there, they need to be chased away. Have you got a Policeman that can investigate?"
"We do not have a town policeman. All we have is a regional police department. They have been here and have told Nikia maybe, but without knowing who, or having evidence, there was not much they could do."
"Well, everyone should be able to walk in there own backyard, day or night."
"You are taking protection then Charles. Take our pistol." encouraged Anashka.
"No. No. No! Nikia exclaimed . You get ubityy. No good! No. No!
"I'll be careful Nikia, don't worry!'
Anashka offered to help, saying, "I will stay by the house and watch. G ha!"
"OK, Anashka. You take the revolver and watch while I go to the outhouse." Charles replied.
Coming back from the outhouse Charles thought, The moon gives off enough light that you can see pretty good out here."
In the house Anashka told Charles, "Tomorrow I am going to clean this pistol up. It needs it."
"You know how to clean guns Anashka?"
"Oh yes, It was one of my jobs I had in the past. I will even grind off the serial number. You see."
"Well, we've got to sell the house and leave town for good before my bandits get into trouble." joked Charles.
"Bandits?" Anashka asked.
"Yes Anashka. Spanish American slang for bad people." replied Charles.
"I have known plenty of them." said Anashka, shaking her head.
Late in the afternoon after everyone got home, Timmur heard from a customer that they were home. For the last week he had been totally mad. What did that old man think he was doing? Completely ruined his life, that's what. And Ivan, must be laughing from the grave. I could not stand Ivan, with his weak and timid nature when he was a boy, although I tried to toughen him up. My Dad had me tough by the time I was six years old, and Dad, never did let me get soft. There was always the belt to keep me in line. By the time I was eight Mom had ran away, so Dad made me come to the Locker after school and on Saturdays. I neglected my school work, but I knew how to cut meat. When I turned sixteen Dad started taking me with him to L'viv for Saturday nights. He'd give me money to buy me a girl, and we'd meet again Sunday afternoon to go home. When I was twenty three Dad died of a heart attack and I owned the Locker. I thought I had it all until Ivan brought Nikia home with him. What in the World had he spent to get her, and where had he gotten that kind of money? Then I found he had not spent anything on her. She had came on her own free will! At first I thought something had to be wrong with her. But then I realized she was smart. Ivan gladly worked all he could for her and she was going to have a lifetime of ease. Ivan must have really been pleasing, because she turned me down flat when I offered her more. Well, don't let it be said that Timmer can't play a game or two.
I spread my rumors about her. Everyone heard that she was the wrong kind of girl from L'viv. Her Mother was no good, and she was no good. She had taken advantage of Ivan and had him just where she wanted him. It was not easy watching them have children, so I spent as much time as I could in L'viv. Each girl was as beautiful as their Mother and even Grigori looked like he might be more then his father. Anyway in L'viv, a woman that I had known for years had became a total drunk, so I bought her daughter for a year. It turned out, that girl was more trouble then she was worth. One night I accidentally hit her too hard and broke her neck. I drove her to the outskirts of L'viv and tuned west. In the Carpathian hills I buried her and then went to see her Mom. Getting her completely inebriated, I gave her an overdose of heroin. Then I left her in an ally. That is when I got serious about taking from Ivan what was rightfully mine. Two or three times a week I have been setting in these bushes watching his house. I had noticed that American does not use the chamber pot at night like the women do. Tomorrow night I'm coming back with some leather hog ties and a knife. He is ether going to be gutted or leave the country. Either way I have spent too much time, and effort, to quit now.
Part 2 of CHAPTER 8
After spending the first night back at Nikia's house, Charles decided the outhouse had to be moved. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. It was time! Going into the shed, Charles found, not only a shovel and spade, but also a wheelbarrow. By the time noon came, Charles had a three foot by five foot hole, three foot deep. It was getting hard to dig,and Charles was glad to take a break. During lunch Nikia told Grigori he could help, so after lunch Charles went to look for a rope and bucket. All afternoon Charles pulled the dirt from the hole and carried the dirt behind the outhouse. By seventeen hundred hours the hole was six foot deep. Grigori was doing such a good job, that Charles didn't have the heart to tell him to stop. By nineteen hundred hours, it was seven and a half feet deep and water was seeping in. Besides, Grigori's hands were not used to this much physical work, and even with gloves on, his hands had blisters on them. Charles's hands were tender as well. After washing and putting lotion on them, he slipped his gloves back on.
That night after dinner and after dozing in a chair, Charles got up and headed for the door and his coat to go outside. Anashka also got up and said, "Wait a minute Charles.
He was surprised that she was carrying the 44 revolver with a handkerchief , "You want me to keep it clean, Don't you?"
"There isn't a fingerprint on it! I told you I would clean it up." Anashka proudly stated.
"Is it loaded" inquired Charles
"Gha, I still had my plastic gloves on when I put the shells in. Now put it in your pocket and go to the outhouse. We will wait for you to get back."
Going out and shutting the door behind him, Charles noticed that tonight was over cast and pitch black. There was a little light from the house and from Widow Shakorski's house down the road. Letting his eyes adjust to the night, Charles took his time walking around the house to the back yard, and the outhouse. Reaching for the door of the outhouse, he felt his arm being jerked to his back into a half nelson. With someone behind him, Charles, not being able to get his hand out of his pocket, aimed the 44 away from his body and pulled the trigger. There was a scream. The person let his left arm go and ran away. Charles could hear running inside the house, with the front door opening and Nikia calling his name. Charles walked back around to the front of the house and said, "I'm fine, I need a light."
"What is the matter Charles?" Anashka asked.
"I think someone tried to fight me, or tried to kidnapped me. I shot him, but I need a light."
"I will get a lantern."
Getting the light, Charles took it and Nikia and Anashka followed him back to the outhouse. There was blood on the ground with a knife and foot prints leading away from the outhouse.
Then they heard the moan coming from the hole. Walking three steps they looked down and saw Timmer with his pants leg soaked in blood, standing in six inches of water that had been seeping into the hole.
Timmur looked up and said, "Get me out of here."
Nikia responded, "Did you just try to kill Charles?"
"Do you mean the American?" Timmer asked.
"I mean my American, Timmur!" replied Nikia.
"No Nikia, I was trying to scare him away so you would marry me!"
"Where is the shovel, I'm going to kill you Timmur. You are already in your grave. All I need to do is cover you up." Nikia was screaming, grabbing dirt clods and throwing them into the hole.
Anashka grabbed Charles and asked, "Have you got the pistol yet?"
"Yes I have Anashka. Why?" asked Charles, wanting to know what she was thinking.
"Throw it into the hole!" ordered Anashka.
"He'll kill Nikia!" exclaimed Charles.
"No he will not. He will be charged with trying to kill you. Do it!" Anashka said.
OK, Anashka. if that's what you want!" agreed Charles.
After Charles threw the revolver into the hole Anashka started speaking to Nikia in Ukrainian. "I'll get the wheelbarrow and we will fill up the hole."
"Don't do it ! Timmur exclaimed . Nikia, you all will be charged with murder!"
"No Timmur, Anashka replied. Nobody will ever find you. As long as we're here, we will go into the outhouse and shit on you! You deserve it, and you know it!"
Timmur felt for and found the pistol, at which time he spewed, "No one come close, or I will shot!"
"Shoot Timmur, I don't care! Nikia replied. "I'm going to kill you!"
Timmur couldn't see them, but shot anyway. "Don't think you are going to get away with this! People will call the police! I will get you yet!"
Anashka spoke in English, "Charles, let us take Nikia and go to the house. We need to wash that coat and patch the pocket."
"I still need to go to the outhouse!" Charles exclaimed.
"Go around the corner and then grab that knife. We need to put it in with the rest of Nikias Knives. I am sure someone has called the police. They should be here within the hour." explained Anashka.
With everyone back in the house, Anashka started talking. "We have a problem, and this is how we are going to fix it. First thing is, we never had a pistol or gun in our possession, here in the house. Charles you were attacked tonight and defended yourself. You pushed his arm down and Timmur shot himself. We don't know it's Timmur. All we know it is somebody. This is our story, anything more than this, we don't know. Grigori, we want you to go over to the Widows place and ask her to call the police. Tell them their is a mad man in our hole that is threatening to shoot everybody. Charles, take off your coat. Jannica and Natacha, take the lantern and go under the house in the crawl space with a knife and cover his coat with dirt. Go to a corner if you can go that far. When you are done, come back in, take a bath and go to bed. Remember, you two were in your room when you heard you mom yell, and that is all you know! We did not talk about anything that happened tonight. G ha, good!"
By the time the police arrived Timmur was unconscious. It took another half hour to get him out of the hole. The local Doctor gave him blood and took him to his care facility. The police found Timmer's revolver in the hole, and since the serial number was ground off, they searched his house and place of business. They found in the Locker a rifle with a serial number that matched Ivan's rifle. The rifle was on the gun registration file of the Ukraine. The police charged Timmur with attempted murder of Charles, and the murder of Ivan. Timmur went from the care facility to jail, and then to prison for manslaughter. As Charles said, "This gives Timmur another chance to escape hell. I hope and pray he uses it."
That fall Charles took everyone home to America, except for Verna. Verna went to school at the University of L'viv for four years, spending the summers in America taking English grammar, composition, and Advanced English.
Charles and his family started a missionary work in Kiev for displaced children. Grigori at twenty five years of age, went back to the Ukraine to do this work.
Jennica and Natacha became modal American citizens with College and Nursing Degrees. At the age of twenty nine and thirty they went back to Ukraine to help Grigori with the mission work.
Anashka, within the year of coming to America, had dragged one of Charles's Grandsons to the altar and became a full fledged United States Citizen. She said all she wanted to do was live the American dream. 2.4 children in too big of a house, with too much food to eat.
Charles lived to the age of one hundred and two and died from old age.
Nikia said, even with the last ten years watching Charles fade away, she wouldn't have traded the last thirty for the world. But she had to have a purpose to live, and six months later married the widower next door, whose wife had died ten years before.
As Charles used to say, "There is a time, for every purpose, under heaven."