Sergei explains, was a former traffic cop, falsely accused of killing a woman, tortured to
force a confession. Pavel, who has moved on with us to this next stop, gives me a don't-
believe-what-you're-hearing glance. He has worked for the local police.
“And I will tell you—I have never, ever, heard of such a thing happening.”
Around three in the morning Sergei and I stumble into Aunt Nina's flat. She is awake,
watching TV, and says something sternly in Russian about too much vodka. I have been
assigned Zhenia and Albert's bedroom (they generously agreed to stay elsewhere), where I
immediately pass out. The last memory I have is Sergei and Aunt Nina on the couch out in
the living room, chatting about . . . well, something.