AP Platonov The
“Foma Pukhov is not gifted with sensitivity: he cut his boiled sausage on the coffin of his wife, starving because of the absence of the hostess.” After the burial of his wife, Pukhov goes to bed, having taken a nap. Someone is knocking at him loudly. The watchman of the office of the head of the distance brings a permit for cleaning the tracks from snow. At the station Puhov signs in the order – in those years, try not to sign! – and together with a brigade of workers servicing a snowplow, which pulls two locomotives, it is sent to clear the way for the Red Army echelons and armored trains from snow drifts. The front is at sixty versts. On one of the snow blocks, the snowplow abruptly brakes, the workers fall, breaking their heads, the assistant driver is killed to death. The Cossack detachment encircles the workers, ordering to deliver the locomotives and snow removal to the station occupied by the whites. The approaching red armored train liberates the workers and shoots the Cossacks, who are stuck in the snow.
At the station Liski workers rest for three days. On the wall of the barracks Pukhov reads an announcement about the recruitment of mechanics in the technical parts of the Southern Front. He offers his friend Zvorychnoye to go south, or else “there is nothing to do on the snow plowing – the spring is already blowing in the fly! The revolution will pass, but we will not have anything
A week later, Pukhov and five other locksmiths go to Novorossiysk. The Reds equip three ships with an assault of five hundred men to the Crimea, to the rear of Wrangel. Pukhov sails on the steamer “Shan”, serving the steam engine. In a dark night, the assault forces pass the Kerch Strait, but because of the storm, the ships lose each other. The raging element does not allow the landing party to land on the Crimean shore. The Marines are forced to return to Novorossiysk.
The news of the capture of the Red Army by Simferopol comes. Pukhov spent four months in Novorossiysk, working as a senior fitter at the coastal base of the Azov-Black Sea Shipping Company. He misses the lack of work: there are few steamships, and Pukhov is busy doing reports on the malfunction of their mechanisms. He often walks around the city, admiring nature, finding everything relevant and living in essence. Recalling his deceased wife, Pukhov feels his difference from nature and grieves, buried his face in the earth warmed by his breath, moistening it with rare, reluctant drops of tears.
He leaves Novorossiysk, but he does not go to the house, but to Baku, intending to reach his homeland along the shore of the Caspian and along the Volga. In Baku, Pukhov meets with the sailor Sharikov, who establishes the Caspian Shipping Company. Sharikov gives Pukhov a business trip to Tsaritsyn – to attract a qualified proletariat to Baku. In Tsaritsyn, Pukhov shows Sharikov’s mandate to some mechanic whom he meets at the plant’s office. He reads the mandate, smears his tongue and pastes it on the fence. Pukhov looks at the piece of paper and puts it on the head of the nail so that the wind does not tear it away. He goes to the station, takes a train and asks people where he is going. “And we know – where?” – Doubtfully pronounces the soft voice of an unseen person.– “He is going, and we are with him.”
Pukhov returns to his city, settles at Zvorychny, the secretary of the cell workshops, and begins to work as a mechanic on the hydraulic press. In a week he goes to live in his apartment, which he calls a “strip of alienation”: he is bored there. Pukhov goes to visit Zvorychny and tells us something about the Black Sea, so that tea can not be drunk with tea. Returning home, Pukhov remembers that the dwelling is called a hearth: “Hearth, damn: no women, no fire!”
The city is approached by whites. Workers, having gathered in detachments, are defending themselves. White armored train fires the city with hurricane fire. Pukhov proposes to assemble several platforms with sand and start from an incline to the armored train. But the platforms fly to pieces, without causing harm to the armored train. Attacked workers fall under machine-gun fire. In the morning, two red armored trains come to the rescue of workers – the city is saved.
The cell understands: is not Pukhov a traitor who invented a stupid venture with platforms, and decides that he is just a silly peasant. Work in the shop burdens Pukhov – not with weight, but with despondency. He remembers Sharikov and writes a letter to him. A month later he received a response from Sharikov with an invitation to work in the oil fields. Pukhov goes to Baku, where he works as a machinist on an engine pumping oil from a well into an oil storage. There is a time,
Pukhov is getting well, and he regrets only one thing: that he has aged a little, and there is not something unintentional in the soul that was before.
Once he goes from Baku to fishing. He spent the night with Sharikov, to whom the brother returned from captivity. Unexpected sympathy for people lonely working against the substance of the whole world, clears up in the overgrown life of Pukhov’s soul. He goes with pleasure, feeling the affinity of all the bodies to his body, the luxury of life and the frenzy of bold nature, incredible in silence and in action. Gradually he guesses about the most important and painful: desperate nature has passed into people and into the boldness of the revolution. The spiritual alien leaves Pukhov in the place where he stands, and he learns the warmth of his homeland, as if he returned to his mother from an unnecessary wife. Light and warmth strained over the world and gradually turned into the power of man. “Good morning!” he says to the driver who met him. He indifferently testifies: “Revolutionary completely.”