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Andreev Pavel
The Chance

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   Art of War. Pavel Andreev. The Chance
   It is the summer of 1982. Girishyk. There is an exchange of fire in the streets.
   I snuggled up to a duval (a fence made of clay, very solid). Its dry, shaggy body was indifferent to my moves. The duval was made of soil, on which it was located fast and confidently. The bullets, which were nailed to it by "dukh" (mudjahed) didn't influence its solidity. I had the same kind of duval on the right side of me. It extended for a few dozen metres both ways. We were stuck on the T-shaped cross-road, which was exposed to conscientious sniper fire. The sniper had taken up position inside a small brick building, protruding from the wall of duval.
   The position allowed him to shoot very accurately and safely. A machine gunner, taking up position on the roof of the house, surrounded by damned duval, proceeded to consider the situation calmly and soberly. His machine gun fired at the top of the duval with enviable constancy. He didn't give us a chance to climb over the clay wall and get inside the yard. Between them they had us pinned down. I tried to snuggle up to the duval as closely as possible. The sniper didn't allow me to get out of that clay "pen case" and the machine gunner, from the top of his position, could reach the opposite side of the street. I was cursing myself for a hurry. We managed to move through almost the whole block, without any resistance until we reached that damned clay wall.
   Suddenly Irgashev ran round a corner, following my mistake. Trying to combine speed and carelessness he was turning his head this way and that. He didn’t see me in time. He was already in the middle of the street when I called to him "Legs!!!!". Irgashev hit the ground as he was trained to. Bullets from the machine gunner drew a dust line on the duval across the chest level of Uzbek. I cannot say what kind of cotton-grower the country would lose, but I can confirm even whilst being tortured with condensed milk (sometimes it was too much condensed milk in soldiers food) that he was one of the best out of the "valorous" sons of the Uzbekistan, littered Soviet Army. Covered with a cloud of dust, from the machine gun fire and his own fall, Irgashev rolled over in leaps and bounds to the opposite wall. I was pleased to see him, but it didn't improve our, now mutual, situation. The machine gun and my scream stopped the rest of group in the nick of time. Irgashev was the last of the group to follow me. Not hiding the temper we called up with the guys over separated us corner. The delay caused by this delay was definitely lasted too long.
   The decision to be made was clear. The sniper and the machine gunner were separated by the yard. The machine gunner's position didn't allow him to control the yard or the house. The house may have been mined. The only way forward was to jump over the duval and throw ourselves across the yard. We could go back and leave the house behind or we could wait for another group. We could just sit in the town park, sipping beer and reading newspapers about another friendship park, planted on the friendly Afghan soil.
   Guys successfully threw us a bag of grenades. We agreed that after a volley of two "flies"
   (c) Pavel Andreev, 1998

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