Excerpt from The Senility of Vladimir P. by Michael Honig, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Senility of Vladimir P.

by Michael Honig

The Senility of Vladimir P. by Michael Honig X
The Senility of Vladimir P. by Michael Honig
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  • First Published:
    Aug 2016, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2017, 336 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Gary Presley

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Excerpt
The Senility of Vladimir P.

He didn't know how long he had been sitting there. Could have been two hours. Could have been two years.

Suddenly, a connection in his brain sparked to life and set of a chain of ignitions, like a momentary flickering of stars lighting up across a darkening, dying galaxy.

"Why am I here?" he yelled angry. "What am I doing?"

"Waiting," said Sheremetev, plumping up one of the pillows on his bed.

"What for?"

"For the meeting."

Vladimir's eyes narrowed. "Have I been briefed?"

"Of course," replied Sheremetev calmly.

"Good." Vladimir nodded. His expression changed, losing its anger. Already he was forgetting what he had been upset about. The connection, wherever it was in his brain, had been snuffed out, perhaps never to spark again, and the self-awareness that had erupted momentarily into his consciousness was gone. He sat quietly and watched Sheremetev work. Vladimir couldn't have said exactly who the other man was, but nonetheless he was at ease with him. Somehow, he knew that it was right for him to be making up the bed, and he had a feeling that it might even have happened before.

Sheremetev was a small man, dressed in a simple white shirt and a pair of dark trousers. He had never worn uniform when looking after Vladimir, but the deftness and economy of his movements as he tidied the bed betrayed a long career as a nurse. It was almost six years since Professor V. N. Kalin, the renowned neurologist, had asked him to become Vladimir' personal carer. That was shortly after Vladimir announced that he would be stepping down from the presidency. In those days, although the president's condition was evident to those who worked with him closely, he was still well enough to hold his own in tightly scripted public appearances for which he was carefully prepared. His successor, Gennadiy Sverkov, had even continued to have him wheeled out on occasion to try to draw some of the old wizard's magic onto his own increasingly lackluster administration. Back then, Vladimir still had a valet to dress him and a pair of aides to keep him abreast of events, and Sheremetev's role had been limited, but as Vladimir's memory deteriorated, so Sheremetev's responsibilities multiplied. With a couple of years, Vladimir's public appearances had become so erratic that even Sverkov's people grew wary of parading him, and rumours of his condition–never confirmed–began to circulate. The appearances ceased. First the two aides were dispensed with, then the valet, and Sheremetev was left alone with him.

The nurse had never concerned himself with politics and had never kept track of who was doing what to whom in the Kremlin. To him, the whole business was a murky soup out of which names rose and sank without apparent rhyme or reason, and what was happening under the surface–and surely things must be happening, as everyone said–wasn't something he tried to understand. He hadn't been aware of the rumor that Vladimir had been forced out as his ageing cronies scrambled to hold on to their positions in the dying days of his power. All he knew was that the president announced that he was retiring–and a few weeks later Professor Kalin summoned him to his office.

"Do you know my mother?" asked Vladimir, as Sheremetev plumped the last of the pillows and set it down on the bed.

"No, Vladimir Vladimirovich. I never had the honor of meeting her."

"I'll introduce you. She'll be here later. I've sent a car for her."

Sheremetev turned around. "It's time for your shower, Vladimir Vladimirovich. You'll have to get dressed in something special today. The new president is coming to see you."

Vladimir looked at him in confusion. "The new president? Aren't I the president?"

This selection is excerpted with permission from Michael Honig's The Senility of Vladimir P. Reprinted by arrangement with Pegasus Books. All rights reserved

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