A firearms charge was nothing. Since Anton always had a lawyer, judge and bail money standing by, there was no good reason for him to spend an hour in jail, unless he was waiting for some bumbling investigator to come along and officially mark how innocent Anton Obodovsky was. Arkady didn't want to provoke the dangerous side of Anton, but he also didn't like being used.
Anton grabbed some travel brochures off the bunk. "Hey, as soon as I'm out, I'm going on holiday. Where would you suggest? Cyprus? Turkey? I don't drink or do drugs, and that leaves out a lot of places. I want a tan, but I burn easily. What do you think?"
"You want creature comforts? Quiet? Gourmet food?"
"A staff that caters to your every whim?"
"Why not stay in Butyrka?"
Zhenya stared like a manacled prisoner at what most people would have called an escape to the country. The population of Moscow was pouring into the low hills that couched the city, to rustic dachas and crowded beaches and giant discount stores, and though the highway was designed with four lanes, drivers improvised and squeezed out six.
Arkady wasn't clear on what good cause benefited from Pasha Ivanov's Blue Sky Charity picnic, but he did not want to miss the millionaires Nikolai Kuzmitch and Leonid Maximov. Such dear friends were sure to appear. After all, they had vacationed with Pasha in Saint-Tropez when a limpet mine was discovered on his Jet Ski. Tomorrow they would be scattered to the four winds on their corporate jets, behind their ranks of lawyers. Hence, Arkady's use of Zhenya as a disguise. Arkady tried to shrug off his guilt by telling himself that Zhenya could use the sun.
"Maybe there'll be swimming. I brought you a swimsuit just in case," Arkady said, indicating a gift-wrapped box at the boy's feet. Up till now Zhenya had ignored it. Now he began crushing it with his heels. Arkady usually kept a pistol in the glove compartment. He'd had the foresight to remove the magazine; he patted himself on the back for that. "Or maybe you're a dry-land kind of man."
Even with cars weaving over the median and the shoulder of the road, traffic advanced at a snail's pace. "It used to be worse," Arkady said. "There used to be cars broken down by the side of the road all the way. No driver left home without a screwdriver and hammer. We didn't know about cars, but we knew about hammers." Zhenya delivered a last savage kick to the box. "Also, windshields had so many cracks, you had to hold your head out the window like a dog to see. What's your favorite car? Maserati? Moskvich?" A long pause. "My father used to take me down this same road in a big Zil. There were only two lanes then, and hardly any traffic. We played chess as we went, although I was never as good as you. Mostly I did puzzles." A Toyota went by with a backseat full of kids playing scissors-paper-rock like normal, happy children. Zhenya was stone. "Do you like Japanese cars? I was once in Vladivostok, and I saw stacks of bright new Russian cars loaded for Japan." Actually, when the cars got to Japan, they were turned to scrap metal. At least the Japanese had the decency to wait until they received the cars before crushing them like beer cans. "What did your father drive?"
Arkady hoped the boy might mention a car that could somehow be traced, but Zhenya sank into his jacket and pulled his cap low. On the side of the road stretched a memorial of tank traps in the form of giant jacks, marking the closest advance of the Germans into Moscow in the Great Patriotic War. Now the memorial was dwarfed by the vast hangar of an IKEA outlet. Balloons advertising Panasonic, Sony, JVC swayed in the breeze above an audio tent. Garden shops offered birdbaths and ceramic gnomes. That was what Zhenya looked like, Arkady thought, a miserable garden gnome with his flapped cap, book and chess set.
"There'll be other kids," Arkady promised. "Games, music, food."
Every card Arkady played