Left on Paradise

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Authors: Kirk Adams
“till fascist public opinion turned in favor of Colonel North. Then it was just a matter of time till the U.S. did to Ortega what it did to Castro and Mao and Lenin.”
    “Lenin? What did the Americans do to him? I was taught that Herbert Hoover saved Lenin’s government by sending food supplies that averted starvation.”
    “There are U.S. soldiers buried in Archangel.”
    “How did that happen?”
    “The Bolsheviks killed them.”
    “I mean, why were Americans in Russia?”
    “Don’t you remember that Churchill wanted to strangle the baby Bolshevism—as he himself phrased it—in its cradle? Fortunately for all of us, the child grew to be a man despite the attempted infanticide.”
    The woman pressed herself against the man. “I’ve never met a priest like you,” she said.
    “I take religion to the streets.”
    “Watch yourself,” the woman said with a laugh. “You didn’t find me on the streets.”
    “I meant that I bring religious experience to the people.”
    “Bring it to me. Give me some sins to confess.”
    “Socialization isn’t sin,” Father Donovan said as he pulled the woman to his side, “and in the spirit of Vatican II, I define my own communion. An ecumenical approach to religion.”
    The woman climbed atop the man and pressed closer yet, until the two nearly became one. After they were finished, they slept with their backs touching until they were awakened by sunlight and the sounds of bartering.
     
    The dining room was noisy. Nearly every colonist seemed excited about the nature of the new government and several former scholars and journalists were conducting interviews so that posterity might have a full record of those first few days of paradise. Breakfast added to the excitement as it included croissants and fruit cups served with coffee and tea: the last real breakfast likely to be enjoyed for several months. Young people loitered about the halls and children played on the ship’s deck—where sailors mixed with settlers as smooth-faced deck hands used universally recognized signs to flirt with progressive girls and weather-beaten sailors negotiated trades of cigarettes and booze. Sometimes they bought and other times they sold; either way, the Russians turned a profit.
    Inside a main corridor, two men haggled over a bottle. A dark-haired sailor with pocked cheeks and greasy hair shook his head at a pale-faced American who held out a fistful of rubles—which the sailor pushed away.
    “Nyet.”
    “I don’t understand,” Charles Marks protested. “This isn’t U.S. currency. I bought these from your purser. They’re as Russian as you are.”
    The Russian’s eyes flashed and he shook his head vigorously. “Nyet ruble. Nein marks.”
    Charles spoke with a lift to his voice. “Nine marks? German?”
    “Nyet,” the Russian grew more animated, now waving his arms and speaking with irritation: his words deliberate and broken. “Nyet mark. Nyet ruble. Doe-lar.”
    “Dollars?”
    “Da,” the sailor said as he raised ten grease-stained fingers. “Doe-lars.”
    Charles pulled a handful of change from his front pocket and handed the sailor ten quarter-sized coins imprinted with the bust of middle-aged matron—the woman’s hair fixed in a dour bun.
    The man shook his head again. “Nyet. Doe-lars.”
    “They are dollars,” Charles said as he pointed to an inscription stamped on the back of one of the clad coins.
    The Russian pushed his hand away again.
    “Giorgi,” the sailor said. “Toylko Giorgi.”
    Charles shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t speak Russian. I read Lenin in German translation.”
    “Giorgi,” the sailor repeated, this time more slowly. “Gi-or-gi Vosh-een-ton.”
    “You mean George Washington?”
    “Da,” the Russian said with an exasperated nod. “Giorgi Vosheenton.”
    Now the American reached into his billfold and pulled out seven Giorgi Washingtons, two Abraham Lincolns, and two Andrew Jacksons before holding out six fingers for the

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