The midnight shift would have just started at the bottling plant back home where his older brother worked. If Leksi hadn't joined the army he would be there now, inside a warm building with dusty lead-glass windows, the overhead lights soft and yellow and steady. Maybe a conveyor belt had broken and Leski was asked to fix it; he saw himself replacing a cracked roller and then regrooving the rubber belt. A radio played softly and Leski chatted with the foreman about politics. Everyone knew everyone else; they had all grown up together. There were friends and there were enemies but everyone had their reasons. He would like Bobo, say, because Bobo was the goalie for their hockey club; he would hate Timur because Timur's wife was very beautiful and Timur wore tight Levi jeans that his brother sent him from America. That would be logical. That would be a life that made sense. And maybe at night he would dream of adventure, of sleeping in the snow with his rifle by his side, of storming hilltop houses and battling the Chechen terrorists, but it would just be a dream, and in the morning he would drink his coffee and read the newspaper and cluck sadly to learn that three more boys were killed in Chechnya.
(from 'The Devil Comes to Orekhovo')