In the foreword the author emphasizes that the reason for writing this work was not the death of MV Frunze, as many think, but simply the desire to reflect. Readers do not need to search in the stories of genuine facts and living persons.
Early in the morning, in the saloon car of the emergency train, the commander-in-chief Gavrilov, who waged victories and death, “powder, smoke, broken bones, ragged meat,” receives reports from three staff officers, allowing them to stand still. To the question: “How is your health?” – he simply replies: “I was in the Caucasus, I was treated.” Now he’s recovered, now he’s healthy. ” Officials temporarily leave it, and he can chat with his old friend Popov, who is hardly allowed into the luxurious car that came from the south. Morning newspapers, which, despite an early hour, are already being traded on the street, cheerfully report that the commander Gavrilov temporarily left his troops to operate a stomach ulcer. “The health of Comrade Gavrilov inspires fears, but the professors vouch for the favorable outcome of the operation.”
Editorial of the largest newspaper also said that a hard currency can exist when the entire economic life will be built on a solid calculation, on a solid economic basis. One of the headlines read: “China’s struggle against the imperialists”, in the basement there was a large article titled “The Question of Revolutionary Violence,” and then there were two pages of announcements and, of course, a repertoire of theaters, variety shows, open scenes and movies.
In the “house number one,” the commander meets with a “disinterested man,” who started talking about the operation with a healthy Gavrilov with the words: “It’s not for us to talk about the millstone of the revolution, the historical wheel – unfortunately, I believe, is moving to a very great extent by death and blood – especially the wheel of the revolution. I do not tell you about death and blood. “
And at the behest of a “non-violent person” Gavrilov gets to a consultation of surgeons, who do not ask questions and do not examine him. However, this does not prevent them from forming an opinion “on a sheet of yellow, poorly torn, without the lines of paper made from wood dough, which, according to the certificates of specialists and engineers, must decay in seven years.” The consultation suggested that the patient should be operated on by Professor Anatoly Kuzmich Lozovsky, Pavel Ivanovich Kokosov agreed to assist.
After the operation, it becomes clear to everyone that none of the specialists, in fact, did not find it necessary to do the operation, but at the consultation all were silent. Those who had to get down to business directly, however, exchanged replicas like: “Of course, you can not do the operation… But the operation is safe…”
In the evening after the consultation, an “unnerved frightened moon” rises over the city, “a white moon in blue clouds and black sky failures.” The commander Gavrilov calls at his hotel to his friend Popov and talks to him about life for a long time. Popov’s wife left “because of the... silk stockings, because of the perfume,” throwing him with his little daughter. In response to the friend’s acknowledgments, the Army Commander told about his “aged, but the only friend for the rest of his life.” Before going to bed in his saloon car, he read Tolstoy’s Childhood and Adolescence, and then wrote several letters and put them in an envelope, pasted and inscribed: “Open after my death.” In the morning, before going to the hospital, Gavrilov orders to give himself a racing car on which he rushes for a long time, “tearing apart space, avoiding fogs, time, villages”.
Before the scene of the “operation” B. Pilnyak introduces the reader into the apartments of professors Kokosov and Lozovsky. One apartment “preserved in itself the boundary of the nineties and nineties of the Russian years,” the other arose in the summer from 1907 to 1916. “If Professor Kokosov refuses a car that the staff officers politely want to send him:” I know, my friend, I serve not private individuals and I go to clinics on a tram, “then another, Professor Lozovsky, on the contrary, is glad that they will come: I need to go to the office before the operation. “
To anesthetize the army commander is euthanized with chloroform. Having discovered that there are no ulcers in Gavrilov, as evidenced by a white scar on the stomach compressed by the surgeon’s hand, the abdomen of the “patient” is urgently sewn up. But it’s too late, he is poisoned by an anesthetic mask: he suffocated. And how much afterwards the camphor and physiological solution are not pricking him, Gavrilov’s heart does not beat. Death takes place under an operating knife, but to remove suspicion from “experienced professors” “dead man alive” is put for several days in the operating room.
Here Gavrilov’s corpse is visited by a “non-violent person”. He sits for a long time, quieted down, then shakes an ice hand with the words: “Farewell, comrade! Farewell, brother!” Placing himself in his car, he orders the driver to rush out of the city, not knowing that the same way most recently drove his car Gavrilov. “Negligent man” also gets out of the car, wanders through the forest for a long time. “The forest freezes in the snow, and the moon rushes over it.” He also looks around the city with a cold gaze. “From the moon in the sky – at this hour – there was little noticeable melting ice sheet…”
Popov, who opened the letter addressed to him after Gavrilov’s funeral, can not take his eyes off him for a long time: “Alyosha, brother, I knew that I would die.” “Forgive me, I’m not very young.” I shook your girl and hesitated. I, too, am an old woman and you know her for twenty years. “I wrote to her, and you write to her, and settle in to live together, marry, or something.” “Grow up children.” “Forgive me, Alyosha.”
“The daughter of Popov stood on the windowsill, looked at the moon, blew at her.” What are you doing, Natasha? “Asked my father.” I want to extinguish the moon, “replied Natasha.