EPISODE 3: OLGA
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OLGA VO: Mitya. Be alright. I type these words again and again on the typewriter in the corner of Dmitri’s room. Each click reminds me of him. He was always with the typing. The click, click, click ran through the house whenever he was home. He was constantly writing something. Short stories, poems, grocery lists. He loved the feel of the typewriter. When I was having trouble using the computer, he even typed out the instructions on his typewriter. He is my rock.
When he was just a little thing, Mitya’s father left us. I shouldn’t have been surprised. When I was young and getting married, my father looked at me on my wedding day and asked if I was sure that I should get married He is a good man, papa. Trust me. I should have listened to my father. Mitya’s father was a piece of shit. Papa, he will be here. He wasn’t. Within a year I was pregnant and within two he was out the door. Not a single word to me and nothing left for our dear Mitya. When we woke up in the morning, he was just gone. He took the family car and what little savings we had in our bank account.
We had moved to the states by then. Mitya’s father and I took out a bank loan to get a nice house on a good street in Portland. I kept the house after he left. We became true Americans with the bald eagles and the flag with all the stars. That flag always struck me as ostentatious. Like giving little gold stars to children. After his father was gone, it was just Dmitri and I. Sure, there were suitors. Men who wanted to join our lives, but they never stuck around for long. I learned to doubt my choices. So, I raised him on my own.
Dmitri was a good baby and we were close to Kathy and Martin, our neighbors. Kathy and I had been pregnant side by side. Good people as they say. They helped me to watch Dmitri when his father left. They made sure that I got back on my feet. Always helped to make things okay. I got a job as an accountant - numbers are the same no matter what country you come from, you know. Kathy and Martin got us to where we are today. And here we are now, with their daughter Rebecca, like a daughter to me, the last person to see my son.
NARRATOR: You’re listening to Husk.
OLGA: There’s a stack of papers on Dmitri’s desk. Paper upon paper, completely filled, single space. He was writing an action screenplay. He always talked about his vision to have Nic Cage, the greatest American actor of all time, in the starring role. He’d been working on the screenplay for god knows how long, but I think he was about to be done. He was always with the letters and the writing… [In a Nic Cage voice] A, B, C, et. Cetera.
He never shared what he was actually writing, but I was so excited to see what my little Mitya would do with it. Maybe he’d submit it to some studios to see if he could get it made. A long shot, sure, but imagine my boy walking down the red carpet, a movie star. At least it's a better use of time than those kids that watch the television all day and the keep up with Kardashians.
No, he was a good hardworking American boy. I raised the typical kid from the U.S. of A with the 4th of July BBQ and county fairs and watching Saturday Night Live. He spoke Russian, but we mixed the two languages at home. Rush--lish is what he called it. [Laughs audibly] Or something like that. Kathy was always so kind to me. I don’t know what I would have done without my American family always watching out for Dmitri and I.
OLGA: Oh Kathy, thank you for helping watch Dmitri again this week. I hope he wasn’t too much trouble.
KATHY: I wouldn’t have it any other way. He and Rebecca get along like two peas in a pod.
OLGA: You know you help so much. I, I… really…
KATHY: Don’t worry about it, really. You’d do the same in my shoes.
OLGA: I will make it up to you someday.
KATHY: I’m sure you will. Just give me that recipe for those dumplings and we’ll call it even!
OLGA: My piroshki? Never!
[Kathy and Olga laugh together]
OLGA VO: He’d be at their house five days a week after school and sometimes on weekends too. Kathy never even hesitated to have him over even if it was Christmas. I keep picturing Kathy’s kind, American face smiling at me every afternoon as I go through Dmitri’s things.
The police call every few hours to give updates on the situation. At first, they tried to assure me that he’ll come back. That this was just some runaway. I knew immediately it was not. Mitya would never. As time continues to move on, the police call a bit less. This was the first phone call of the day. Now when they talk to me, they skip assurances that he is fine. Instead, they talk long term strategy. They are finally realizing that this is more serious. Long term strategy is code for “We don’t think he’s just run away anymore”. They finally get it.
MORRISON: Yes. We, uh, we have some news. Are you sitting down, Ma’am?
OLGA: No, I’m in Dmitri’s room checking for anything that your officers might have missed.
MORRISON: We got, uh, fuck what are those things called? Anonymous tip? We got a, we got a tip that some that there may be something out towards the Clackamas River. Do you know if Dmitri spent any time in area?
OLGA: Yes. Yes, they like that place, but I don’t know recently.
MORRISON: Well, we are conducting a search this afternoon for, well, whatever we can find. We’ll notify you when we know anything. Until then, sit tight, stay where you are, stay by the phone, ma’am.
OLGA: Thank you. I will.
MORRISON: We’ll find out what happened to your boy. One way or another, there will be a resolution.
OLGA VO: I collapse on the bed. My head hangs down and I begin to sob uncontrollably. Please, please don’t let him be there, not there. I am not the type of woman who cries. My husband left, not a tear. But for this, my son, I lose myself for a few minutes. Shaking, weeping. I give myself these few minutes to lose it. Then, I mechanically stand up and walk outside with my car keys in hand. No sense staying where I am waiting for answers. I will go and get them.
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OLGA: Kathy, I’m sorry to come over like this. I just… I just…
KATHY: Come in, come in. Don’t you worry.
OLGA: Thank you.
KATHY: How are you holding up?
OLGA: Not good.
OLGA VO: Kathy nods her head slowly. She has no idea how to respond to my grief.
KATHY: Can I get you anything? Tea? Coffee? Tissues?
OLGA: Maybe just some water. I got calls this morning… Dmitri… they think they might have found something at that lake they went to. I was on my way there. I don’t know why I’m here first, but here I am. Oh, I’m a wreck.
KATHY: Oh Olga, it’s a wonder that you’re holding it together this well. If Rebecca were gone, I don’t know what I’d do.
OLGA: Kathy, I have to ask. You don’t think Rebecca had anything to do with Dmitri’s disappearance, do you? I pause and take a deep breath. There are moments when you know a friendship is about to change forever. This is one of those moments. I exhale. Kathy?
KATHY: Olga, I don’t know what happened in the forest that day. Something… I know something’s wrong here, but it’s not Rebecca. She and Dmitri were like brother and sister. She would never do--
OLGA: But what if there was an accident? What if they were on drugs? I saw the nightly news about a new drug that the kids are on. It makes you lose your mind. One minute you’re fine, the next minute, running through the wild wearing a pig head mask like crazy. I kid you not.
KATHY: Olga, our kids are smart. They wouldn’t just take some new drug let alone run through the woods with a pig head as a mask. I’ll tell you what, I’ll keep an eye on her and let you know if I notice anything. I really don’t think that Rebecca had anything to do with this though.
OLGA : Thank you, Kathy.
KATHY : Here, you should take some wipes. I mean… you’re probably going through them a lot right now and may need some extras to have around. Here, take two. That way you can keep one in your car and one in your house. You don’t want to have to move it everywhere with you.
OLGA: Oh of course, thank you, thank you so much.
OLGA VO: I sigh to myself. Kathy just stares at me and tries to place the wipes into my hands. She never knows quite what to say and is always offering me her discount products. Adult wipes will not help this situation. She’s a nice lady, a little strange sometimes, but I’ve learned to just go with it. Kathy, I need to get myself to the lake. They said they found something or someone. I don’t know, I just want to be there. I will talk to you later and I will let you know what happens.
KATHY: Bye, Olga. Stay strong.
OLGA : Goodbye, Kathy
[Horn honking and a car parking]
OLGA: I look across the water at the lake. It’s still and foreboding. It hides secrets that I can never know. Hopefully it will be willing to reveal just this one. Set my mind at ease or at the very least give me answers.
I light up a cigarette. Mitya always tells me that I should quit. It causes cancer. Well, he’s not here now and I’m not quitting. I might as well have cancer if my Dmitri is gone. Bring the cancer, bring whatever may. I take a long drag and exhale. The smoke curls in front of me. My entire body relaxes into the nicotine. I lean into my car. Officer Warren approaches me and tries to fan away the smoke. He grimaces.
Warren : Mrs…
Olga : Olga. Just call me Olga.
Warren : Mrs. Olga. You can’t be here. You know that, right? This is an active crime scene and we need to be able to comb the area undisturbed.
Olga : But he’s my son. I need to know if they’ve found his body. I can’t just wait by a phone. Or worse, wait until they play the story on the evening news right next to recalling milk and the amazing trick that you dog can do. Besides, I’m far behind the line that you’ve cordoned off. I can be here.
Warren : Well… just make sure that Morrison doesn’t see you and that you don’t touch anything. We have strict protocols that we have to follow and you being here isn’t exactly according to any of them.
Olga : Understood.
Olga VO : Americans are always trying to tell me what to do. They show off their badges and fancy hats and expect that this will impress me. No. I take another puff of cigarette and continue to stand where I am. Let Morrison see. What can he do to an old woman looking for her missing son? Still, I don’t want to cause any more trouble in the search. For now, I stay where I am and watch.
Warren : Well, thanks and, Olga. I hope you know, that we’re all pulling for you down at the station. We all hope that we’re wrong about the search today and we do not find him.
Olga : Me most of all. I appreciate your thoughts.
Olga VO : Warren walks away. I stare back over at the lake. If this were any other circumstance, this would be a lovely time. I’d enjoy one of the last sunny days of the year. Sure, it’s a bit chilly, but we don’t get much sunlight in Portland and take advantage all we can. Today, though, there is nothing peaceful about standing here. Small teams of policemen with dogs are sniffing the shoreline. They bark occasionally, but mostly keep their noses to the ground. A few divers are moving back and forth between the shore and the middle of the lake. Morrison stands by his truck and looks at a clipboard intently. He doesn’t look up long enough to notice me staring at him from across the lake. Warren mills about. He doesn’t know what to do with himself. Suddenly shouts around the lake break my concentration.
[Audible shouts from down by the water]
Morrison: We’ve got something! Get over here.
[More shouts from all over]
Olga : Oh god. Oh god. No. Please don’t let it be him. Please. The entire group congregates around one area near a rock. Three divers go down to the water. They stay down for an eternity before surfacing and nodding at the shoreline. Their masks make it difficult to see their faces. They pull something from the water. It’s white and heavy, but seems to be melting as they move it out. I hold my breath. From the banks, Officer Morrison has taken notice of my presence. Instead of paying attention to the body, he stares at me from across the lake. He makes a small, solemn nod it my direction. I take a drag of my cigarette and don’t break eye contact. Exhale. The body is put into the coroner’s van and moved off the scene. They search for a little while longer, combing the lake for any pieces they missed. I don’t accept this. I don’t accept this. Finally, they call it a day and march home to their wives and children. The officers are the last to pull out. I wait for them to leave and collapse to the ground. Dmitri.
NARRATOR: This is Cheryl. Thanks for listening to Husk. If you like what you heard, help keep us on the air. Rate and subscribe on iTunes, it’s important. We’ll be back in next week with a new episode. Until then – do you know where Dmitri is? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org .