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It was nearly midnight, and Nikolai was in the later stages of getting smashed on cheap vodka with his best buddy, Alexei. They were in a blue-collar pub called Matrosskaya Tishina, in a rough part of town, the notorious Troeschina. That’s when an old, gnawing feeling began to haunt him again. Staring into space, Nikolai said longingly with tears in his voice, “she’s somewhere out there. So what am I doing here? Hell, what are we both doing in life, besides getting pissed drunk after work, night after night?”

Why do you always have to start with that old same shit?” Alexei replied, slurring his words. “You’ve got to learn to look at life realistically. She’s way over there and you’re right here.” Alexei pointed in opposite directions and slowly finished his thought, “so let’s just order another round and leave it at that.” Even when tipsy, Alexei was the more reasonable of the two.

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