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Surprise Endings

Surprise Endings

It’s a good thing my book club rarely handles sharp knives.

We meet over dinner once a month and eat a lot of salmon and salads. Soft foods, not slabs of meat. The only knives we use are those dull utensils for dinner rolls. (Despite an almost universal avoidance of carbs by womankind, we still consume a lot of bread. And wine. And even more wine.)

If we did have a need for sharp knives, however,  I might wind up like Sergey Savitsky: Wasting away in a St. Petersburg prison, charged with attempted murder, after stabbing one of my friends.

Perhaps you heard about this 55-year-old Russian scientist. For at least four years he’s been working in the 1968 Soviet-era installation at Bellingshausen Station on King George Island, Antarctica.

He apparently spends a lot of time with one Oleg Beloguzov, 52, who is sometimes referred to as a “scientist” and other times as a “welder.” 

From what I gather there isn't much to do at their frigid workplace. The men can watch one of two Russian television stations, exercise in a grim 1968 Soviet-era gym or read in a bleak 1968 Soviet-era research lab.

Savitsky is an avid - but presumably slow - reader. Over the years, he grew increasingly angry about the welder/scientist’s habit of blurting out the ending of novels he had not yet finished.

(I, too, find that maddening. When I arrive at my book club meeting and announce that I’ve been “too busy” to finish that month’s book, I expect my friends to refrain from giving away the finale. Should one of them slip and say “That scene at the end where Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse was so vivid,” I want to put my hands over my ears and flee the room.)

 Why continue to read a novel once you know how it ends?

Oleg most likely took great pleasure in spoiling one of the few recreational activities available to his comrade. No doubt he’s a passive aggressive welder/scientist.

 Bellinghausen Station, King George Island, Antarctica

Bellinghausen Station, King George Island, Antarctica

Finally, one cold Antarctic day, Savitsky snapped. 

When Oleg began to blab the ending of the book his colleague was reading Savitsky grabbed a kitchen knife from the library table, leapt to his feet and stabbed his nemesis in the chest, grazing his heart. Years of research was promptly spattered with blood as Oleg flailed about, clutching his chest and spilling the rest of the surprise ending through gritted teeth and an evil smile.

In a statement to Russian authorities, Sergey said he didn’t mean to kill Oleg, just shut him up. 

Oh, I don‘t know about that.

Any fan of crime novels knows this doesn’t add up. Why would there be a kitchen knife in a library? There wouldn’t be, of course, unless Sergey brought it with him, in which case this would be a case of premeditated attempted murder of an endings spoiler.

Luckily he didn’t kill the welder/scientist. Oleg was flown to a hospital in Chile where he is on the mend.

Sergey was sent to that prison in St. Petersburg where he’s awaiting trial.

There’s a lesson here for all book lovers. Be very careful before divulging the ends of novels to friends who have not quite finished a book. 

They may plan a little surprise ending of their own for you.

Jim Acosta. Narcissistic Nitwit.

Jim Acosta. Narcissistic Nitwit.

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