The ruthless Tsarist soldiers march down a seemingly endless flight of stairs in a rhythmic, machine-like fashion, slaughtering a crowd of innocents as they attempt to flee down the stairs before the soldiers reach them. These were the Odessa Steps, the Battleship Potemkin had revolted against its officers, and now the army was coming to regain control.
Feofan Karpov, Viktor Kraminov, and Kliment Pavlyuchenko sat in awe watching the spectacle unfold across the screen. Feofan was amazed at the sights and music surronding him, his dark eyes, and even darker hair blending into the darkness of the theater. Viktor sat his arms folded across his chest blonde haired and blue eyed making him more German then Russian. Kliment ate a small bag of nuts, licking the salt from his fingers, except for his large pointed nose he was a close match to Feofan. The three boys sat side by side in the Steel Workers Palace of Culture. Like most clubs the Palace had rooms for every sport or hobby possible, this one had a cinema. The boys had never seen a movie and the first one they saw was The Battleship Potemkin.
When it as over the three walked out of the theater, “That was amazing! I swear I could touch those people.” Viktor said balancing himself on the cobblestone side walk. Feofan and Kliment followed behind enjoying the nice weather of June 1927.
“ I hear a new film will come around every week.” Feofan said taking his top coat off, preferring to walk in the thin cotton shirt instead. The three boys were seventeen and almost done with secondary school. Each one was lucky for their parents were full party members, which ensured none of them had to get a job. No education was important, but where to go for it was the farthest thing from their minds. The Soviet Union was improving from what little they remember of Russia. The streets were clean, party banners, and posters covers every wall giving it much needed color. The arts and culture flourished under Communism, and Stalin’s five years plans improved everything from the factory conditions, to the amount of jobs.
Of course this is Soviet Russia through the eyes of two NKVD men and a Moscow Militia commander’s sons. Food was always on the table, they lived in houses that had electricity, and no one would ever knock down their doors.
Around sundown the boys found themselves in a street café. The Red Flag was were many of their classmates went, and it served good food. Many suspected the owner dabbled in the black market but no one seemed to care.
“My father wants to know my scores for the examinations for the end of the term.” Feofan said sullenly.
“ I know the feeling Comrade. My mother beats me about the head every time she sees my math skills. ‘Any boy of mine should do better. After all the good your brother and sister did for the Young Pioneers’ That gets old so fast,” Kliment said taking a sip of the harsh liquid that passed for coffee.
“Father wants me to get into the Militia like him. Why would anyone want to work on roads all?” Feofan pulled out a cigarette lighting it up with a smile. His father while in the Moscow Militia was in charge of road maintenance. An important job but hardly glamorous to a seventeen year old.
“Why not go for the army?” Viktor said.
“What?” Feofan and Kliment said in unison.
“Think about it. We sign up now, get to skip the rest of the school term and pass might I add. We get our conscription out of the way, get those nice little Young Pioneer citizenship medals, and our families get to brag at how responsible we are.” Viktor grinned, he was allows a rogue but every so often he had the most amazing ideas.
The trio got up sliding a few kopeks down, and walking around the edge of Moscow. With a smile they located a recruiting station. The Soviet Union was always willing for anyone who wanted to volunteer. Not many did it, in Feofan’s mind he never understood why. Got service out of the way, looks good on your record, and you get a nice stipend for doing it. After a brief conversation, and proof of identification the three boys stepped back. A portly Russian with a thick Georgian accent stood up, “Do you swear that the information you have supplied is accurate? To serve the Soviet Union to the best of your abilities? To spread the Revolution when the need arises?”
“I swear to serve the Soviet Union.” the three boys said. Each received a paper with instructions, and a date to appear for training. At home Feofan told his father what he had done. He looked down, and held his hand out, “I am proud of you son.”
“Thank you father.” Feofan felt a slight sliver of pride as he shook his fathers hand, for the first time he realized he was man.