shook his head. "Trust me,
Kristynahe will be
warmer in the ground if the hole is covered with snow."
"He is the same as a son to me," the woman sobbed, her voice
to a cracked whimper. "We must not bury him before he has had
Still on her knees, the woman, shuddering with sobs, started to crawl
through the dirt toward the crater. In the back of the Mercedes, the Oligarkh
gestured with a finger. The
driver sprang from behind the
wheel and, pressing the palm of his hand to the woman's mouth,
carried, half dragged her back to the car and folded her body
back seat. Before the door slammed shut she could be heard
"And if it does not snow, what then?"
watched the scene unfold
through its tinted glass. The two paratroopers took a grip on
arms and lifted him into the crater and set him down on his
side, curled up in a fetal position in the round hole. Then they
covering the crater with the thick planks, kicking the ends into
ground so that the tops of the planks were flush with the dirt
When that was done they dragged a section of metal webbing over
planks. All the while nobody spoke. On the slope the workers,
on cigarettes, looked away or stared at their feet.
When the paratroopers finished covering the crater, they backed
off to admire their handiwork. One of them waved to the driver
truck. He climbed behind the wheel and backed up to the crater
worked the lever that elevated the flatbed to spill tarmacadam
the road. Several workers came over and spread the macadam with
long rakes until a thick glistening coating covered the wooden
and they were no longer visible. They stepped away and the
signaled for the steamroller. Black fume billowed from its
exhaust pipe as the rusty machine lumbered to the edge of the
When the driver seemed to hesitate, the horn of the Mercedes
and one of the bodyguards standing nearby pumped an arm in
"It is not as if we have all day," he shouted above the bedlam
the steamroller's engine. The driver threw it into gear and
across the crater, packing down the tarmacadam. When he reached
other side, he backed over it again and then swung out of the
inspect the newly paved patch of highway. Suddenly, he tore off
improvised face mask and, bending, vomited on his shoes.
Barely making a sound, the Mercedes backed and filled and
swung past the chase car and started up the dirt spur toward the
sprawling wooden dacha at the edge of the village of
soon to be connected to the Moscow-Petersburg highwayand the
worldby a ribbon of macadam with a freshly painted white stripe
down the middle.
Excerpted from Legends by Robert Littell. Copyright 2005 by Robert Littell. Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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