Summer 1990 • Vol. XII No. 3 Fiction |

Roulette

1 After the coup, even the pettiest of newly appointed public officials was able to furnish his office with a choice of heirlooms, all confiscated from country estates. Cloisonné vases had become spittoons; pets ate from plates of silver, and peasants with petitions from their villages napped in lobbies on ornate ottomans and love seats. But the room where they questioned me had nothing in it except a few chairs from a lecture hall, arms curving into small writing tables cluttered with names or graffiti in Cyrillic. Graffiti which meant they had come from a distant country. Therefore, anyone under interrogation felt slightly more diminished when the bafflement of another alphabet assured him that his past had, by now, slipped further away than ever. I was in the midst of an answer when one of my questioners, dressed like the others in fatigues, parted the curtains on what must have been thick, soundproof glass. The window opened onto the silence of a small lot with high

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