Author Topic: The World Championships (consensual, film-noir type of story)  (Read 136 times)

  • Guest
The World Championships (consensual, film-noir type of story)
« on: August 16, 2023, 08:07:08 AM »
Note: This is a story that was first published on another site that allows only consensual tales. I post it here now that we have the Consensual tag. I hope you will enjoy this film noir featuring an olympic… You’ll see for yourself!

A man who’s been to war must learn to make peace with the mirror.

A Caucasian man, tall, with massive muscles stretching his white camisole, stood tall in front of an oak-framed mirror above a too-low handrinse basin with brass faucets that looked like a pair of bronze crosses. Using a bronze safety razor with a double edge, the young muscleman shaved with military efficiency, wondering whether he should grow a thin moustache like John Davis did in that black-and-white picture he owned. John Davis was his idol.

In that picture, the 1938 world champion in olympic weightlifting stood tall, shirtless, displaying his ebony muscles as he strictly pressed an unthinkable 285-pound barbell overhead. In the background, two Yankee girls were clearly admiring his rock-hard, 200-pound physique and making the picture loaded with interracial taboo.

He had heard that Mr. Davis was very humble. He had brought the picture in order to get it signed by his idol.

It was noon in Paris, although it was only six o’clock for him; his four-motor DC-4 plane had landed at Le Bourget at the end of a sixteen-hour long flight that was broken up by a stop in the Azores. He had crawled to his hotel room in the wee hours and slept like a baby.

He stood shirtless while shaving. Anyone in the know knew that this tall young man was an Olympic weightlifter, for he was thickly muscled all over with massive glutes, cannonballs for shoulders that spoke of years of heavy pressing, and a trim, yet thick waist like one saw on antique marble statues displaying long-dead athletes.

He decided to keep his baby face. He wasn’t John Davis from USA; he was Daniel Lévesque from Canada.

“And besides, if it ain’t broke, why fix it?” the proud boy thought as he finished shaving himself clean.

Indeed, the twenty-one-year-old lad sometimes attracted smiles and sparkly eyes from charming young ladies, as proven by the picture Daniel was presently taping to the upper edge of the mirror.

It displayed a pretty girl with raven hair and Andalusian eyes. She looked vaguely Spanish thanks to her rich complexion. She was quietly smiling with her hands neatly resting together on her lap in a pose that told of a nice girl one would want as a wife.

Yes, he was lucky to have met her. They were set to get married next June. They didn’t have sex yet; they both wanted to wait until their wedding night, like good Christians.

Good God, he had gone a long way since his return from this sad affair called World War Two. After a year of having his soldierly services retained to help rebuild France, he finally got his ticket home on a ship headed for Halifax in April.

Within the next six months, he had trained himself back to tip-top shape and landed a well-paying job thanks to his war-acquired fluency in English. Most of all, he had become a better man. This was why his sweet girl had chosen him for her husband to be. His folks weren’t exactly happy with this. Zabel was from an Armenian family of migrants who were Orthodox! His folks wanted a Catholic daughter-in-law, but Daniel loved Zabel.

“Thank you… Thank you, Mister Stovepipe Hat!” Daniel said aloud in his small hotel room, referring to the quaint man he had met on the train from Halifax to Montreal, whose advice was instrumental in helping him to become the man he was now looking at in the mirror.

As he buttoned his white shirt, the Catholic lad recited his weightlifter’s prayer…

“In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, give me the strength to bring up my Total and keep me humble. The Clean and Press is the Son, for it’s a true man’s lift, fit for a true son of life. The Snatch is the Holy Ghost, for it takes a spirited lifter to power up a loaded barbell while dropping under it into a deep split stance in one swift motion. The Clean and Jerk is the Father, for it allows the victor to stand tall while holding the world over his head. Amen!”

As he swiftly put on his mocha-coloured tie in his usual half-Windsor knot, he heard people speaking in the hotel hallway—a couple. They were not speaking French. It sounded… Russian?

The woman had a wonderful soprano voice. She sounded happy to be in Paris, and who wasn’t? It was so beautiful in October, with all these trees ablaze with fiery reds and golden hues. The man sounded grumpy and authoritarian.

Feeling curious, Daniel put on his double-chest jacket, grabbed his fedora hat and stepped into the hallway, just in time to catch a glimpse of the young couple as the man was closing the door. He met the man’s eyes. He had a cold, dark stare and his size was formidable—he was very tall with huge shoulders and looked back at Daniel with eyes that said, “Mind your own business!”

Daniel was starving and there was a street-side café facing the hotel; it looked very inviting with the aromas of hot croissants and fresh coffee. He crossed the bustling avenue, whistling a tune, “Y a d’la joie!” by Charles Trenet.
“Y a d’la joie! Bonjour-bonjour les hirondelles, y a d’la joie! …”

After nearly bumping into a fellow young man who looked remarkably like the famous singer, Daniel ordered a vichyssoise, some camembert and of course, croissants and coffee. This was his first French déjeuner in six months. He no longer wore his British khaki uniform with a “Canada” patch sewn on the shoulders. He was wearing a dark wine-red suit that brought out his pale, yet healthy complexion and looked unmistakably North American. The jacket was of a roomy size, US-50, yet it was still a tiny bit too small for Daniel’s shoulders.

After showing off his dark hair, he remembered Zabel and his engagement to her. He put back his sienna-brown hat on while mentally kicking himself for being so vain. He had yet much to learn!

He got started on his vichyssoise, when he heard a soprano voice that sounded vaguely familiar. That girl spoke flawless French with a delicious foreign accent that sounded Slavic.

“Is this seat taken, Sir?” she said from above him.

Daniel looked up and saw a strikingly beautiful woman, probably around twenty-two years old. He immediately rose to his feet and pulled the empty chair for the petite woman, who got seated next to him… and intoxicated his nostrils with her Slavic scent. He saw her dreamy-raven hair and instantly recognised her as his hotel neighbour.

Daniel grew very nervous, for she was very much to his taste with her black hair thrown back from the pristine paleness of her forehead; subtle earrings of silver adorned her dainty ears, and her forest-green dress looked as glamorous as a day dress could get. Her Parisian outfit was completed by ivory gloves and a double pearl necklace where small topazes brought a touch of originality. This short brunette packed quite a punch.

“I’m… I’m Dan… Daniel. Very pleased to meet you, Ma’am,” he said with great deference, just as if he were speaking to Princess Elizabeth of England.

The Soviet girl smiled at him with sparkling eyes as green as a spruce forest in Ural; her wine-red lipstick intensified the whiteness of her spotless face, which was as fine and delicate as her entire person, yet he perceived mysterious fires of strength. He felt she could see through him.

She replied with her delicious accent, speaking formally and letting linger the first syllable in her name: “I am Nadia. I am honoured to meet the heavyweight contestant for Canada. You will be up against my husband.”

As Daniel stared at her with open-mouthed astonishment, she went on: “Your shoulders, Mister; only an olympic weightlifter has such big shoulders; boxers often have big shoulders, but not this big. And as for you being Canadian, your accent tells me that you are not from France and there are no heavyweights from Belgium or Switzerland, so you must be Daniel Lévesque representing Canada; I have read the list. We know all other lifters except you. You are the wild card! Ha! Ha! Ha!”

“That’s correct, Miss, uh Ma’am, sorry, but I also did amateur boxing in my teenage years.”

“Did you? Tell me about it! I am curious and I love sports,” replied Nadia, her eyes ablaze with fires that looked positively exaggerated as a reaction to such trivial information.

“I started out boxing at fourteen, against my father’s wishes, but I was a natural. I was a solid light-heavyweight, on my way to a professional career, when I fell in love with weightlifting. This was a tough decision, but I never looked back. I won the junior title as a light-heavyweight in ’43, then the senior title the year after, shortly before turning twenty. I got drafted in November and saw two months of fighting in Germany during the Reich’s bitter end.”

Nadia’s face became sombre as he referred to the recently fought war, so Daniel quickly changed subjects: “I was so happy to see Montreal again, and best of all, I met a wonderful girl I’m getting married to next summer!”

Daniel pulled out his wallet and produced a small picture of Zabel for Nadia.

“She looks like a really nice girl, and very lucky too; she is with a true gentleman!”

“Oh, thank you most kindly, but I’m only doing my best. Ever since I met that strange man on the train, my life seems to have magically changed for the better.”

Nadia was presently looking over her shoulder; she clearly was expecting her husband any second.

“So, you met a strange man on a train; that sounds quite glamorous. Please tell me more.”

“He was a very quaint man, tall and wearing very old-style clothes—a stovepipe hat and an astrakhan greatcoat and he…”

“A stovepipe hat with an astrakhan overcoat?!” Nadia blurted out, dramatically shocked. “Did he have a foreign accent? Did he smoke Flor-Fina cigars?”

“Y… Yes. As a matter of fact he did have a foreign accent, very much like yours. He must be Russian, and he did smoke very fine cigars, left handed too…”

“Ukrainian! He’s Ukrainian, from Kiev… Like me… That’s Igor…” Nadia said, looking down at the street-side pavement with tears welling in her eyes. She aimlessly observed two sparrows that were pecking crumbs.

“Oh, please, Nadia, don’t be so sad! It’s such a wonderful day!” the lad said as he nervously put a comforting hand on her forearm. “No one must be sad in Paris, the city of light, mirth and joy!”

Daniel felt an incredibly strong hand rudely fall on his shoulder. He was quickly on his feet and confronted the man, ready to strike him down with a one-two-punch combination.

“Oh, it’s you!” Daniel said as he saw the formidable size and height of the Soviet colossus. Daniel was six feet one and weighed two-fifty, but he looked average next to the Russian titan.

“Da!” his foe said, then he started to scold Nadia in Russian, or was it Ukrainian? Daniel had no idea, as he only spoke French and English and was learning Armenian for Zabel.

Daniel stepped forward and positioned himself between Nadia and this so-called husband.

He introduced himself in English. It was awkward, and it looked like the big Soviet was going to attack him any second. What’s more, two tall and large men were now standing by his side as if they were bodyguards; they looked ominous in their black trench coats with matching fedora hats, both gazing at Daniel with gun-sight eyes.

“Such a cheerful company! What have I got myself into?” Daniel thought.

Then, the Soviet powerhouse laughed out loud with the rustic sort of laughter you no doubt heard from loggers in Siberia. There was some barbaric vibe about him. Daniel felt sad for Nadia; such a husband must not be much fun to be with.

He extended a huge hand to Daniel and spoke some broken English.

“Yakov Vladimirovich Kutziev, champion of Soviet Union! And you, what name of you is?”

“I’m Daniel Lévekk…”

Before Daniel could finish introducing himself, Yakov squeezed his hand really hard in an attempt to crush it into putty, but Daniel held on and fought back with fires of his own. He showed the big man that he too had a mighty grip, forged through endless pulls without using straps to help him hold the bar.

The petty cockfight finished with a draw. The Soviet laughed again and gave a friendly pat on Daniel’s shoulder. The customers were all looking at the two musclemen in great alarm. The café owner was especially worried; he thought they were about to fight each other and this would have meant loads of property damage, but all seemed good now. Phew!

“My wife, she says you have very pretty girl. I am most happy for you and I wish you the very best. Please, accept apologies of me. Let’s uh, let’s…”

“Let’s be friends! After all, aren’t we brothers in iron?”

“Yes, that is what I wanted to say to you… friends. Oh, and these two other friends of me are our official, uh, official shadows. Where we go, they go, but not in our bedroom of course! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!”

Pleased with his rustic humour, the king-size Soviet departed, wrapping a possessive arm around Nadia’s petite shoulders as they walked away with the pair of black-clad agents following them like trained dogs.

Yakov Kutziev was in Paris for one reason—to beat USA’s John Davis and win the 1946 world championship for the Kremlin. To prove that USSR was better than those decaying capitalists. All nice and friendly.

He was a formidable opponent indeed, and Daniel had no idea what shape John Davis was in. The American lifter was one of the few pre-war champions to make a comeback, but he was a legend; Davis had won the gold in Vienna at only seventeen years old, beating seasoned lifters who had competed in Berlin two years earlier.

Then, Daniel’s thoughts went back to Nadia. As he ordered a Paris-Brest for dessert along with more of their amazing coffee, he had a positive hard-on as he pictured himself having sex with the Soviet wife on that very table.

So, she knew that mysterious man with the stovepipe. Talk about a coincidence! It was, in fact, so improbable a coincidence that it was unsettling. It felt like he was being thrown into a tragic game and do what he will, fate would stick to him like a shadow, like a black-iron barbell that would always be two pounds too heavy.

How could he forget that strange encounter on the train from last April?

He had been sitting in his compartment, where he had been eyeing a pretty passenger since Fredericton until she got off at Gare du Palais in Quebec City. He had thus paid little attention to the quaint man sitting between him and the daylight window. At the time, he was still wearing his Army uniform, full of smugness as he took vain pride in his Lance Corporal’s chevron.

The ageless man, who looked like one who had gone to sleep in 1896 and woke up next morning in 1946, looked at him from under the narrow brim of his stovepipe hat. As he spoke, the strength of his soul shook Daniel down to his core.

“From what I can observe, young man, you have seen combat over there and you have been intimate with some ladies in less-than-honourable circumstances.”

The words stung Daniel’s pride deep and hard. He rose and moved on him, but the quaint man seized his wrist with such preternatural strength that reminded him of Bram Stoker’s depiction of Dracula’s ungodly strength.

He sat back sheepishly and listened like a pupil listening to a world-famous professor.

Daniel had not done anything positively criminal when he was in France and Germany, but at times, he did take advantage of the desperate predicament some women were in. All he had to do was to offer cigarettes, whisky and food, and they would sleep with him. Granted, some of them were sex-starved, but most acted like this out of sheer necessity.

He had been drafted the day after his twentieth birthday. Being a virgin, he had felt curious of the opposite gender like any given lad, but war intensely magnified this. From March to early May, he fought in Germany and played cards with Death. Fearing an untimely demise, he took every opportunity for comfort and relief.

When V-E Day came and he remained stationed in France, he was already set in his ways.

That stovepipe-wearing man, who looked like a character straight out of a Sherlock Holmes story, lectured him with powerful, life-altering words.

Daniel got off the train in Montreal with the understanding that he had been treating dames as if they were some sort of insentient beings whose main purpose was to fulfil his sexual needs. The more decent ones were cold fishes to him as they sensed this.

He then began to treat women and everyone else like equals, like human beings who were just like him - making their way in life with hopes, dreams and goals and doing their best to avoid getting tripped by fate along the way.

He did not see this man again in Montreal, but he felt his influence. A mysterious person had put in a good word for him at a prestigious firm and he was hired on the spot. Then, there was the problem of raising the money for his trip to Paris. After he won the Canadian senior title again, the Athletic Commission agreed to make him their lifter in Paris, provided that he paid all his expenses including the plane ticket.

A cheque for 1,500 dollars materialised out of nowhere. It was more than enough. This quaint man must have been rich and a weightlifting enthusiast, which was just as eccentric a thing in Canada as wearing an astrakhan coat. He must have seen him giving his lifting exhibitions in Parc Jarry.

As he thought of Parc Jarry, his mind drifted to Zabel. Oh, Zabel, Zabel and her raven hair… Zabel and her lovely feet, so dainty… He got fortunate enough to see her in her bathing suit during a trip in Sainte-Agathe as they were taking a swim in Lac des Sables. Then, they spent the evening kissing and holding hands. He also kissed and massaged her feet, as they both felt horny while keeping their urges in check. They were saving the fireworks for their wedding night.

Daniel was so deep in his thoughts that he almost forgot this wasn’t August anymore. This was October and he was in Paris. He observed the sparrows on the sidewalk; they kept coming back for the small crumbs that always fell off the small, round tables as people ate and chatted. They too had their hopes and dreams.

As he enjoyed his Paris-Brest, which tasted amazingly fresh, Daniel felt he was being observed. Looking up, he caught a neatly-dressed girl in the act of looking away, but she looked back at him and smiled while fidgeting with her long, chocolate-brown hair. Her knee-covering circle skirt offered waves of teal under the Parisian breeze and it naturally led his gaze down to her stockinged legs.

The pretty stranger looked lively and displayed a kid’s beauty, yet she already had a glamorous side. She wore white day gloves along with an ample blouse, sail-like in its flowing whiteness, styled in a way that highlighted her slim waist. She was as short as Nadia, about five feet one or two.

She was presently walking toward him as he took a bite from his dessert and a sip of his delicious coffee under Parisian heavens. Daniel couldn’t help but look at the penny loafer shoes encasing her feet.

“I think I’ve seen you before, Monsieur. Were you a soldier in Paris two years ago?”

It was clear she was desperate to speak to him. At any rate, she was bold. From this closer distance, Daniel could see she was about the same age as Zabel—a peachy-looking maid, almost a grown woman.

She stood in front of him while offering a three-quarter profile view, so he could observe her perky breasts from the most favourable angle. She clearly did that on purpose. Her boobs were small, yet seemed juicy. They rode high on her petite frame, tantalizing him in their gracefully hidden shapes.

He wanted to stand and introduce himself properly, but he had a fast-growing erection that stopped him midway in what must have been a very clownish move, for she burst out laughing.

She sat by him and kept laughing and giggling.

“Hello, Miss, would you like to have something? Some coffee, perhaps? Are you hungry?”

“Ha! Ha! Ha! My uncle owns this place and he spoils me too much, not that it makes me put on weight. Look!”

She rose from her seat and displayed her ballerina-slim waist, moving in such a way as to make sure he had the best view on her slender curves. The elderly couple sitting nearby looked shocked at her licentious behaviour, while Daniel felt both embarrassed and very much elated. Girls who behaved like this were usually willing to have sex.

He looked at his watch; it was one-forty. He asked her to go with him on a walk as he wanted to see Notre-Dame de Paris before he was due at the lifting club. She said she’d prefer something even more spiritual.

Daniel looked at his watch as he chalked his hands before taking another warm-up set in the snatch. It was four-thirty. After going from 135 to 215 pounds in 20-pound increments, he was presently at 225 pounds for his last warm-up before doing heavy singles using 245 pounds or maybe two-fifty. It wasn’t to be.

Two-twenty-five should have been a cinch. He chalked his hands, stood over the barbell and grabbed it with his hands about four feet apart. He pulled and… missed!

Instead of flashing under it and dropping into a shallow split, Daniel got stuck as the bar sailed slightly above his chin, then it came down and he gently set the iron weights back down on the platform. He had completely mis-timed his effort! And he knew why.

That Parisian girl was with him and he couldn’t get his thoughts away from her, nor take his eyes off her juicy figure. She had told him her name after they had sex in his hotel room.

Marie had got dressed back in her blouse and skirt, looking like a teenage pin-up girl with her white gloves and pearl necklace. She was now giggling nonstop while watching all these dreamboat men hoist or press impressive weights.

Given his state of mind, Daniel just couldn’t concentrate on such a complex lift as the snatch. He stripped the bar down to 135 pounds—one 45-pound plate per side—and started training his press, which was the simplest lift of the weightlifting trinity.

As he worked up in weights, he mentally relived the intimacy he’d just shared with Marie. He felt the pang of guilt as he thought of Zabel. He had taken a turn toward an unknown destination, but sex with Marie had been a genuine boffo.

Fortunately, she didn’t spot Zabel’s picture on the small mirror, which was in a shadowy corner of the room. He took it off while she was gone to the storey’s common bathroom, knowing she’d use that mirror to refresh her light make-up.

Everything about Marie was light and lively; she quintessentially personified youth. Daniel smiled as he recalled their first kiss.

As soon as they had been alone in his room, Daniel kissed her and intensely drank her peachy charms and scent while pinning her against the closed door. Marie kissed him back even more intensely while wrapping her petite legs around him, forcing him into the pleasing experience of holding her light buttocks.

Undressing this Parisian kid was a transgression at every undone button and every flash of perky flesh. The movements of her light breasts and her raspberry-pale nipples summed up her sparkly youth. Her areolas were secret circles of joy that suddenly came into the light. All of this out of wedlock. Daniel was now a sinner.

When she lay on the floor under him, she kept giggling like crazy, as if sex was the funniest laughing matter in the world, while he kept contemplating her pure-white nakedness with absolute awe.

He tasted, sniffed, licked, kissed and caressed her from head to toe; her dainty feet and perky breasts gave him life before his manhood made her sing a Parisian song as she climaxed on the floor with her legs propped up under and against his brawny shoulders. Her lithe body was thus coiled under him, legs and feet high up, and he kept hammering her as the willing and able prisoner of her velvety tightness.

Marie’s whimpers kept echoing through the room while he grunted his way into a slam-bang finish where he blissfully shot his bolts of hot seed while listening to her high-pitched finale.

Both of them being young and full of fire, they did it a second time.

This time around, the Canadian lifter screamed his relief into Marie’s shadow-brown hair while burning her neck with kisses as he shot his maple syrup inside the Parisian girl, making her happy as she received his transatlantic jism while imprinting her little nails on his massive back.

Lastly, he fingered her the way she told him she liked, until she filled the room with her high-pitched fireworks, informing any passerby in the hallway that a dame was present.

He turned out slightly late at the lifting club, the owner of which gave Daniel a knowing smile upon seeing Marie at his side.

Daniel was physically present in the training hall, but his mind was still in that hotel room where a blissful turn of fate hooked him like a fish on a line. The bait tasted like Marie’s raspberry-like nipples—divinely girly.

At present, Daniel had his hands white with chalk as he was going through his heavy singles and kept pressing two-fifty overhead, making it look like a cinch.

Marie was all over the place, giggling and giving the training hall a nice female touch as she chatted and flirted with the American lifters. She presently tried - without success - to fit her white-gloved hands around the ebony arm of John Davis.

As he watched Marie with the Afro-American wonder of nature, Daniel didn’t feel jealous; he felt strongly aroused as he pictured her having sex with the champion.

Daniel took the opportunity to meet and shake hands with his idol, but John Davis was busy with his training, resting a full five minutes between sets and meditating, sometimes looking like he had fallen asleep where he sat.

He nonetheless spoke a bit with the legend, who told him to pull a tiny bit longer before dropping under his snatch so he could get the bar an inch or two higher.

Yakov and the Soviet team were all lifting intimidating weights according to their respective weight classes—up to 132, 148, 165 and 182 pounds, and then the heavyweights. Several black-clad agents were chaperoning them as they lifted under their coach’s watchful eye. These agents from the Ministry of State Security (MGB in Russian) were Kremlin’s watchdogs.

Marie was now chatting with Nadia; both girls kept laughing together like giggling teenagers. Daniel couldn’t help but notice how similar they looked while being profoundly different—both had dark hair. Nadia was clearly a grown woman, although she still looked very young, while Marie was still an in-between kid, wearing a pearl necklace that was supposed to make her look more adult, but it glistened like a teenage girl’s smile in the dim-lighted hall, which was filled with men’s sweat and grunts. The passing years seemed to refuse to allow Marie to become a woman, although she was one sexually.

Five Egyptian lifters showed up, the great El-Touni among them. El-Touni, who had won the Olympic gold in the middleweight division in front of the Führer.

Nadia and Marie enjoyed the view and giggled like schoolgirls as they watched the Egyptian dreamboats take off all their street clothes in front of everybody and reveal their mahogany-brown physiques with cannonball shoulders and meaty glutes before putting on their shirtless gym attire, the same they always trained in under Allah’s sun.

Nadia’s giggling gave cause for Yakov to throw a menacing gaze at her, and for Daniel to grow a raging erection as he pictured these Egyptians taking both ladies to the gym showers and subjecting them to a round of rough sex.

As he did his sets of clean pulls, Daniel’s thoughts came back to Zabel. Once again, guilt took hold of him, crushing his sense of wellness under its heavy boot. The 300-pound barbell he pulled chest-high felt like a feather in comparison.

He ought to stop seeing Marie. He ought to just compete, and then head back home and forget all about Paris. It wasn’t too late to pull back.

His eyes wandered and rested on Nadia and Marie of their own volition. Both girls kept up their lively chatter while Yakov was lifting the heaviest weights without any sign of straining.

As he finished his lifting session, Daniel saw Marie walking to the phone booth. Her gait was midway between an angel and a ballerina. This girl was pure magic.

When he had showered and got back into his street clothes, Marie was right there waiting for him. She threw herself in his arms and kissed him, telling him she easily got carried away as she didn’t weigh very much.

Nadia and Yakov were there too along with their MGB chaperones offering their tall, shadowy presence. One of these men in black, the taller one, had a truly sinister-looking face; his long, crooked nose made him look like some Bolshevik bird of prey. His vampire-pale skin didn’t exactly lessen this effect.

His name turned out to be Sergei, from Leningrad, as Yakov made the introductions civilly. The other one, who stood “only” six feet tall, was Yuri, from Stalingrad. Yuri was pretty much nondescript; he had the usual hard-at-work features of most policemen who were naturals in their trade, except for an ugly scar barring his right cheek - a bayonet wound he got from a terrified SS somewhere in Pomerania.

Marie had phoned her mother. They were all invited for dinner in Faubourg Saint-Germain.

It thus came to be that four Soviets had dinner in the humble three-room apartment rented by Madame Sophie Berthier, a widow and mother of Marie Berthier. The MGB agents didn’t come empty handed; they had bought some fine Beaujolais and a bottle of samogon while Nadia had found some chai to offer her host as a thank-you gift. To avoid burdening her mother with the cooking for seven persons, Marie had arranged a food delivery with her ever-generous uncle at the café.

Much wine was drunk as everyone enjoyed Parisian cuisine. Then it came to vodka. Sergei and Yuri made merry and sang folk songs such as “Katyusha” and “The Volga Boatmen Song”. Yakov and his wife sang along with them while Daniel and the two hosts listened with fascination.

On the surface, everyone was having a wonderful time, but there was something about Yuri and Sergei, especially Sergei, that made Daniel wary. He could feel it, something was off. These three men - yes, even Yakov - didn’t seem to be all that clean.

Daniel felt they could suddenly show their true face at any moment and these MGB agents were certainly armed - neither had took off nor even unbuttoned their jacket while sitting at the table. He especially didn’t like the way Sergei kept looking at Marie.

The Parisian kid was presently calling Daniel her cuddly honey bear, holding his thigh under her tiny fingers. While finishing yet another glass of wine, she softly whispered to his ear that she could hardly wait for him to eat her pussy.

Marie’s mother was clearly horny and tipsy; she was sitting erect and giving her male guests the full view on her breast shapes, well revealed through her tight blouse. Nadia didn’t like that at all, but politely respected her host. Everybody had a bit too much to drink.

Daniel was now on high alert and took a bold decision. He began talking about his fiancée who was waiting for him in Montreal, knowing this would likely make Marie angry and jealous, as she didn’t know about Zabel yet.

He told his hosts about how wonderful Zabel was, how he was missing her magic-scented raven hair, which he liked so much more than merely brown hair, which was a vulgar, common colour according to him and Goethe’s Werther too. He of course didn’t really think that, but he wanted to anger Marie so she would make a scene.

It worked like a charm.

Marie began crying and yelling at Daniel; she threw her spoon and fork at him along with a flurry of foul names in rapid-fire French that Nadia had difficulty to understand.

Nadia was mad at him too; how could he speak like this in front of his hosts?

This had the result Daniel was hoping for - it caused the dinner to come to an abrupt end, much to the disappointment of Marie’s mother, who had planned on getting some of her youth back in the arms of one, or two of these Russians.

Nadia, Yakov and the black-clad agents politely took their leave. Daniel could sense Sergei’s disappointment.

Daniel was happy with himself; he had succeeded in getting these men out and away from Marie. This was all that mattered for the time being.

Daniel walked some distance alone with the four Soviets, who suddenly got very cold and distant. They began to speak between themselves in their language, which was a rude thing to do. Nadia wouldn’t even look at him.

This was getting beyond awkward.

Saying he forgot something, Daniel took a hasty leave. After making sure the Soviets were long gone, he had a quiet walk along the Seine under the moonlight. It was tranquil, peaceful, but he knew he lived in a blue world where silvery magic was a wonderful dream for children.

Next morning, Daniel had croissants with café along with an entire brie cheese and more croissants for breakfast. He warned Marie’s uncle, stressing to him that he must - yes, he must - tell Marie and her mother to never let these Russian men anywhere near them again.

The fatherly café owner told Daniel that he had disliked these men right from the start and that his niece shouldn’t have invited them in the first place. He’d phone his sister right away!

“My dear Marie has gone through enough bad stuff already as it is!” he said.

“What kind of bad stuff?” Daniel asked, looking at the shorter, balding man wearing the proverbial apron.

“Oh, these American GI’s… All the time they were in Paris, they walked our streets as bold as brass, thinking they could do or take whatever they wanted. Last year, in a cabaret I had warned her against, a bunch of these Yankees got a bit too enthusiastic with Marie and a same-age friend. The barman knew me and phoned, and there I was with three of my old buddies from the Résistance, with submachine guns! The Yankee boys left pronto, and the girls were fine, but Marie spent the next few months without going out at all.”

“She didn’t strike me as a shy girl, much less as a frightened one.”

“Indeed. I was really surprised yesterday. You’re having such a wonderful effect on her, young man. This is the first time I see her opening up to a lad since last year. And she’s a very fine girl; a bit boisterous at times, but all in all a really nice girl! It’s so good to see her cheerful again, all this thanks to you!”

The good man warmly patted Daniel on his beefy shoulder.

“Well, I don’t think she’s that cheerful today; we had a quarrel yesterday evening.”

“What happened? If it’s these Russians, I’m going to…”

“No, Sir, it didn’t get that bad, but it came at a cost for me.” Daniel smiled and told the man about the previous evening and how he caused a scene so he could get these men away from Marie.

“Young man, you’re a real pal! By the way, I’m Jules.”

Both men shook hands. Jules went on: “You know how to protect the ones you love. I’ll put in a good word for you! And cheer up my lad! Don’t worry, she’ll get over it and then she’ll be out looking for you. Ha! Ha! Ha! Have another croissant with prime-quality butter and my finest coffee - the one I drink myself! It’s on the house! And tell me, my lad, would you consider moving to Paris? I know some well-placed people if you want to get started here!”

The rest of the week went by uneventful. Daniel didn’t see Marie again. Nadia had become a cold fish and Yakov snubbed him as well.

He kept his focus on his lifting, training light and making sure he was well-fed, well-rested during the next few days before the big Saturday. He went to see places such as the Notre-Dame Cathedral and the Eiffel Tower, but he spent most of his time in his room or at the café reading a book. He often lovingly contemplated Zabel’s picture and felt heavy guilt. He wanted to send her a telegram, but his sense of guilt blocked him better than a brick wall.

“All right, he told himself, I’ll get this championship done and then I’ll jump on the first plane to Montreal. I’ll make it up to her! Oh, sweet Zabel!”

Daniel eye-kissed the beloved picture, where Zabel sat quietly, in a black dress with a square décolleté that showed how warm and rich her complexion was - it was apparent even on the black-and-white picture. He was going to be her husband in less than a year! All he had to do was sit tight, compete and fly back to her.

He did well at the competition; better than he had expected. He came within two pounds of winning the bronze medal!

The heavyweights always competed last of the last. They started lifting at an ungodly late hour - one o’clock in the morning, already Sunday. Yet the hall was still jam-packed; nobody would leave without seeing the heaviest and strongest lifters in action.

Daniel chose his attempts realistically. In the Clean and Press, he opened with 254 pounds; the bar flew up overhead as soon as the referee clapped his hands for the “press” signal. For his second attempt, he made 269 pounds in good style. He then called for a new Canadian record for his third and final attempt—a daunting barbell of 274 pounds, which he squeezed and grinded past his forehead, through that dreaded sticking point, his entire body feeling the monstrous heaviness, but holding until he had it locked overhead!

Yakov Kutziev crossed paths with him on his way to his own first attempt. Daniel met his death-cold stare without flinching.

Yakov had overspent himself in training and he ran out of gas; he got his 275-pound opener passed, only to fail twice with 285 pounds. John Davis pressed his opener, 300 pounds, in perfect style and left it at that. Daniel saw that monster press and knew that nobody could touch the American legend on that day.

Daniel got on the platform to take his first snatch attempt, a 255-pound barbell that he looked at with confidence—he had done that weight many times in training. He suddenly spotted Nadia. She had just arrived and sat in the very first row, only 30 feet away.

She was radiantly beautiful in her Parisian dress, through which Daniel could perfectly make out her perky boobs and her alluring hips and legs, having no problem in imagining how lovely she must look in the nude. On top of that, the Soviet brunette was smiling at him with a gaze to die for!

Daniel was dumbfounded and tried to snap out of it, but he had only thirty seconds left to make his attempt. He missed! Two minutes later, he missed again! He just couldn’t concentrate! Another miss would leave him without a total and out of contention.

Another contestant had called for 260 pounds, so he selected that same weight, which got him extra rest time to rally if he could, while the other fellow lifted.

Daniel came back four minutes later under warm cheers from the crowd as he chalked his hands. Then, the hall went silent. He made a point to look high up above the capacity crowd in the music-hall. As he grabbed the bar, he thought of what John Davis had told him in the training hall… “Squeeze all the height you can get! Then drop under it like you mean it! Don’t think. Act!”

Daniel set himself in his starting position with fire in his eyes. He gripped and pulled that bar up like his very life depended on it. He never felt 260 pounds coming up so light and fast. The bar sailed so high that he didn’t have to go down into a low split - his right foot stepped forward while his trailing leg took a moderate step back as he caught his successful attempt in a half-split stance; the public erupted in applause. This was the most powerful snatch they had seen up to that point. John Davis had yet to take his first attempt.

As he stood tall with his successful attempt overhead, Daniel tried hard not to look at Nadia again, but he couldn’t help it. She was clapping her small hands and cheering for him. She looked gorgeous in her forest-green dress, and her straight raven hair was shining like a dreamy night. Daniel got the “down” signal and proudly set the heavy barbell down on the platform with a victorious thud.

Only three competitors exceeded 260 pounds in the snatch—Egypt’s Mohamed Geisa snatched 265 pounds, Yakov Kutziev did 275… and John Davis nailed 301 ½!

The Clean and Jerk event went smoothly. John Davis easily jerked 358 ½ to win the gold medal after totalling 959 pounds for a new world record. Kutziev managed the heaviest Clean and Jerk on that night as he hoisted 364 pounds. Daniel offered him a handshake to congratulate him, but the colossus didn’t even look at him.

The Soviet powerhouse was utterly dejected with himself. He had come to Paris to beat the American champion and he had failed! He stood silent and sulky on the podium, one humiliating step below the Afro-American champion, who smiled under his thin moustache and hailed the Parisian crowd while receiving flowers.

Daniel had pressed 274, snatched 260 and jerked 335 for a total of 869 pounds, only two pounds behind Geisa and the bronze medal. He was beyond proud of himself!

The competition ended near three o’clock. He wanted to talk with Nadia, but she was buried in the midst of the Soviet lifters and their MGB watchdogs.

At half past four, Daniel sat quiet in his room, eating the late-night snack he had left for himself.

Suddenly, a knock on his door broke the still of the night.

It was Nadia! She looked ghastly white and kept peeking behind her.

“Daniel. Take me with you to Canada!”

Then, there was a loud voice, thundering in its commanding masculinity. That man spoke Russian.

Daniel stepped out into the hallway and wasn’t surprised to see the human wall of a man named Yakov. He put his boxing skills to good use and made short work of the towering Soviet; he even felt Yakov’s jaw break as he landed a devastating hook that nearly broke his own right hand.

Then, the two MGB agents emerged from the stairwell, only fifty feet away! He closed and locked the door and grabbed his jacket and his hat - there was not a moment to lose!

He urgently opened the window and told Nadia to get out and onto the emergency stairs on her right while he lifted the bed and squeezed it hard against the door. He heard them cursing in Russian as they started bashing the door. He also squeezed a heavy piece of furniture against the bed, effectively blocking the door and gaining precious time.

Daniel swiftly climbed down and reached the emergency stairs while Nadia was almost down in the backyard. They took to their heels and heard Sergei’s voice a bit too close than they would have hoped. Nadia knew that Yuri was getting his car and would soon cut them off.

They sprinted through the small streets. As they reached a boulevard, a taxi happened to be there; a lucky break. They hailed it and hopped in.

“I got money to pay,” Daniel told the driver, a little man who felt quite intimidated by his customer’s unusual size. “Drive us out in the country. Take us as far as you can go. I’ll give a really nice tip if you drive fast!”

The taximan stepped on it. They were soon out of the city.

“Nadia, I think we should go to Calais for…”

“Shhh! Don’t say anything in the taxi!” Nadia whispered as she leaned against him in the backseat. “Our pursuers could find that driver and interrogate him. The point now is to put as much distance as possible between us and Paris.”

“Don’t you think we’ve lost them?”

“No. They got their car and are still after us. These agents are really good, Daniel. Following a taxi without being seen isn’t that hard for them.”

Daniel couldn’t stop looking at her against the car window at the early light of dawn. Daniel was under her spell; he would do anything for her! Then he felt tears welling in his eyes. Zabel! He had left her picture at the hotel. He had lost Zabel!

He felt he had lost control of his life.

The taxi made a lot of turns and by-turns in country roads and trails, in order to lose the pursuers. The driver refused to drive without headlights. He stopped near Soissons. This was as far as he would go. He told them to follow a trail through the woods, directly to the north. They would reach a small town after a couple of hours of walking. There was a train station.

As they got out and Daniel paid the driver, Nadia screamed as she saw a fast-approaching car. That black car was bringing death. It was them!

They took to their heels and had nearly reached the trail that wound its way into a thick forest as the pursuing car came to a halt. Sergei and Yuri pulled out their pistols and fired at a distance while the taxi driver spun some dirt and drove away.

Daniel and Nadia ran for their lives without looking back. They sprinted through the forest with the agents in hot pursuit.

They reached a clearing near a gothic church. It was in ruins, with ivy growth greening its granite walls.

They found themselves running across an antique churchyard, where they spotted two young lovers, who gazed back at them like people seeing ghosts.

Daniel shouted and motioned at them, telling them to run away! Both teenagers looked at him dumbfounded.

The agents reached the churchyard and took their pistol shots at Daniel, who quickly took cover behind a tombstone, near Nadia. He ordered her to lie down and stay hidden behind a mausoleum.

“Don’t come out under any consideration. If something happens to me, run for your life all the way north. Don’t cry, Nadia, be strong!”

The MGB agents closed in on the young lovers. The girl screamed. They held them at gun point, but one of the agents, Yuri, started arguing with the taller one. Their Russian-spoken quarrel resonated through the quiet churchyard overlooked by autumn-bronze oaks mixed with copper beeches.

Daniel couldn’t leave these kids. He had to help them. Doing otherwise would be evil. Using his infantry training, he stealthily moved from tombstone to tombstone and made his approach as the agents were still having their heated exchange while holding the youths at gunpoint.

Their loud shouts and snarls allowed Daniel to get very close, unheard and unobserved; only the girl saw him. She suddenly spoke to her boyfriend, who stared at her in alarm.

“Non, Geneviève, ne fais pas ça!” Daniel heard the youth say. (No Geneviève, don’t do this!)

Then, the local girl did something completely unexpected. She raised her sweater and grabbed her bra; she raised her clothes and undergarment all the way up, giving an unreal show of youth as her firm breasts materialised in plain sight with brown nipples that got hard under the morning breeze.

The Soviet agents stopped arguing. They were shocked. The boy looked at his girlfriend with utter disbelief. She took a seductive pose and tried to smile at the agents while her pretty face betrayed her mixed state of mind.

Sergei took a step forward and was reaching for her exposed breasts when Yuri grabbed his hand and barked at him.

Sergei faced him with his pistol and shot him.

The girl shrieked. Her boyfriend threw his arms around her in a protective gesture as Sergei took another step and hit him with his pistol. Sergei had his back to Daniel.

“It’s now or never!” Daniel thought as he surged out of his hiding place like a tiger jumping on a prey. Sergei turned around, but it was too late. Daniel grabbed him and Sergei tried to resist and free his pistol-holding hand, but he felt like a child trying to wrestle with a grown man. He didn’t have a chance. During the scuffle, Sergei fired on himself; the bullet went through him and he fell on the ground like a sack of Canadian potatoes.

“Go! Go away! Don’t stay here!” Daniel shouted at the teenage couple, who finally ran off. The boyfriend was quite puzzled at Daniel’s weird accent as he ran. What kind of French was that?

The crows, sparrows and bullfinches that had flown away from the gunshots returned to their abodes and resumed their day, now undisturbed as both agents lay dead in the churchyard while Daniel and Nadia resumed their trip through the forest.

“Daniel, I… I need a break… Please, let us take a short rest.”

Nadia came to a halt and turned to her companion. She was panting from walking on that bumpy trail, from all the excitement and from something else. She had Cupid lights in her eyes.

Before he knew what was happening, Daniel had Nadia against an ancient oak and their lips met. The agile tip of her tongue started stroking his with ungodly gentleness. She was glamorous even in the way she kissed.

Like in a dream, he kissed her neck as softly as he could, the same way Zabel liked. When he cupped her breasts through her blouse, Nadia exhaled a whisper, speaking Ukrainian as she ran her fingers through his hair and began kissing his face with repeated fires.

Daniel felt a wild rush of lust. “What about Zabel? What about Marie?” He tossed all thoughts aside and feverishly unbuttoned Nadia’s blouse.

He let out an incredulous, “Oooh,” as he opened her blouse wide and lifted her garments all the way up along with her bra, urgently uncovering the most erotic softness he had ever seen on a woman. He had always felt that a girl’s breasts summarised her erotic personality - Marie’s were playful and dainty with raspberry-like nipples on pale areolas; Nadia’s were perky with glamorous curves and wine-brownish nipples. Zabel’s were still unknown.

He stooped down and began kissing her left nipple, a nearly perfect bead on a light-brown areola, while he gently cupped and caressed the wild softness of her other breast as Nadia’s unreal whiteness yielded under his hand. She began moaning with wild fires within her.

They were both filled with adrenaline and badly needed the relief. Her soul knew she was doing something wrong and selfish. This lad’s heart belonged to an Armenian girl in Montreal.

Nadia couldn’t help it!

“Oh, Daniel…” she whispered as he kept sucking her breasts. “Undress me, my young lover! Undress me and take me, right here under the trees!”

Daniel went nuts. He urgently stripped Nadia. Her bright nakedness burned his boyish eyes. As he kissed and stroked her dainty feet, she laughed and said she was thirty-one years old and it felt so weird to lie down under such a young lad.

He felt unfathomable elation from knowing this and kissed her feet and lower legs with renewed fervour.

“Do you realise, Daniel? I was born in 1915! Oooh… Tak… Tak, lyubov moya!”

She stopped speaking as he went up her thighs and got his tongue acquainted with the hairy triangle of jet-black perfection guarding her entrance. He then went inside her coral-coloured hole with his nose into her pungent turf while grabbing her small hips. He kept going, on and on, using his German field experience, until he gave her the ultimate relief and tasted her while listening to her most intimate sounds. He understood nothing of her Ukrainian words, but her panting voice sounded wonderful and highly erotic.

He felt her burning hands on him when she avidly unbuttoned his shirt and threw his undone tie on the ground. Once they were both naked, she lay herself down again and he took her on the forest floor.

Under his heavy strokes, Nadia felt utterly flattened; her shaken body reacted like wildfire, further fed by the adrenaline rush. She wrapped herself around the burly lad and felt the added rush of arousal as she remembered he was ten years younger. Nadia went nuts as her little hands pressed the bulging thickness of his back muscles.

“Haahhh… Tak! O tak, tak… Tak, lyubov moya… aaa, haahhh, haahhh… O bozjhe miy!”

Nadia kept repeating “O bozjhe miy!” (Oh my God!) as a massive orgasm ran its course through her body and soul.

Daniel pulled out before he was done. He positioned her on all fours and felt his erection growing back into a wicked, nearly painful hardness as he cast his eyes on Nadia’s butt.

Her naked whiteness was a mind-boggling sight against the fiery autumn leaves. He delightfully kissed and licked her derriere and tasted the autumn breeze mixing with her suave scent.

He had a hard time believing he was caressing the contours of Nadia’s butt while he pictured her fully clothed in her forest-green dress, the way he had first met her in Paris.

He felt her eagerness.

Like in the wildest dream, he penetrated her and took hold of her slim waist. His ears drank her moans as he began pounding her doggy style. He soon passed the edge and screamed his echoing bliss as he spewed bolts of seed inside the Soviet beauty, making her his woman.

They got dressed again. Nadia told him that the MGB would probably be waiting for her in Calais, so they took the bus to Belgium, passing the frontier by foot.

Somewhere along the way, she knelt and gave him fellatio. The Canadian weightlifter contemplated her as she kept her gaze locked into his while her sealed mouth worked its Ukrainian magic. He kept gently stroking her hair, enjoying how it shone like bright liquorice under the sun while her tongue never stopped running along his erection as the scene unfolded, witnessed by a high assembly of autumn-copper beeches and oaks.

Daniel finally uttered a long growl as he pulled out and splattered his cream all over Nadia’s dainty face, at last fulfilling that wild fantasy. She took the hot shower silently, her eyes closed, without any shred of vulgarity.

They took the bus to Brussels, and thence to Ostend, where they commandeered a fishing boat. Nadia paid her passage in kind.

Somewhere in the English Channel, she unbuttoned her forest-green dress in front of the sixty-something fisherman, whose jaw dropped as she let slip her dress down to her feet, revealing the youthful lines of her black-stockinged legs along with her flat tummy and boobs that stood out in sunlight over shadows as she promptly removed her bra.

Daniel would never forget the moment when that old fisherman, his eyes ablaze with disbelief and lust, got down on his knees and began sucking Nadia’s tits with his drooling mouth. She seemed to like this too, perhaps responding to the preposterous age gap.

The fisherman peeled her stockings off her legs after she let him lay her down on the wooden deck that strongly smelled of fish. He laid her down on a bed of fishing nets and kissed her feet, pressing them against his ill-shaven, salt-and-pepper face as she spread out her legs.

Daniel looked on, fascinated, as the well-fed fisherman promptly dropped his dark-green trousers, set himself on top of Nadia and forcefully entered her with the weight of his silver-haired experience.

As the large man began to pound Nadia, she started to moan and wrapped her legs around him, with the soles of her white feet dirty from the fish-smelling deck. Daniel felt her wild excitement as she looked deep into him. The drooling fisherman kept banging her, arching up his torso and supporting himself on his arms so he could watch the dancing nipples on top of her jiggling boobs.

She bolted and climaxed shortly before he let out a long growl and gave her his seed. The sweating fisherman got off her, the expression of disbelief lingering on his wrinkled face.

Daniel had her kneeling on all fours. He banged her while contemplating the smoothness of her buttocks under the full sunlight as he repeatedly collided against her bumpiest body part, all the way, unabated, until he reached his exploding relief. It was a salty fuck.

Once in England, they went straight to London, where Nadia filed for refugee status as Daniel’s fiancée. Daniel being a citizen of the Empire and a war veteran, she was green-lighted provided that they got married in front of a justice as soon as their plane touched down in Montreal.

Daniel didn’t bring back a medal to his folks in Canada. He brought back a Ukrainian wife.

He was under the spell and didn’t realise what he was doing until it was too late. Zabel was devastated; it was as if the ground had vanished from under her feet.

Nadia had her own game.

Two days after their civil-law wedding, Daniel came home to his apartment on Parthenais Street. Nadia wasn’t home. She had left a note…

Daniel, my love, I know this is going to hurt you, but what needs to be done must be done. I will never be able to properly apologise for the way I have used you. From the moment I learned about Igor, I decided to have you help me escape to Canada. Igor is my rightful husband. I married him when I was sixteen and he is the only man I ever loved. Stalin wanted him dead. He fled, but I got caught. My marriage was annulled and I was blackmailed into marrying this brute you have seen in Paris.

_Daniel, you are young. Go back to your Zabel. She will be angry, but she will forgive you and may you both find happiness together. I am now reunited with Igor. His lawyers will take care of the details. I am Igor’s wife.



P.S. I have spent wonderful moments with you and I will treasure these happy memories for ever.

On a bleak morning in early November, a body was found on the banks of St. Lawrence River. It was a teenage girl who looked vaguely Spanish. She had jumped from Jacques-Cartier Bridge and died from the fall and subsequent hypothermia. She was beautiful even in death.

The tragically departed girl was finally identified as Zabel Mirzoyan, born on the 6th of December, 1928. She had a piece of paper on her, most likely a suicide note. All of it had been washed up by water, except for one name in faded black handwriting… “Daniel”.

Two days after Zabel’s suicide, Daniel received a note from Prince Igor R***.

_My dearest friend, so much water has gone to the sea since we met on that train. I had thought you were headed for fair heavens, but now I find you in murkier waters than ever.

You will find a modest gift enclosed herewith. It isn’t much, but this is the least I can do. You will also find the address of my financial counsellor; he will help you invest your funds wisely, so you may live a simple, worry-free life, a privilege very few people enjoy in this world. I know this will not bring back the love that you lost so tragically, but I trust it is more concrete a thing than words._

There was a cheque for $100,000.

Stricken with grief and anger, Daniel nearly tore it to shreds, but something stopped him. There was a post-scriptum which he had yet to read.

P.S. Life is too short to be spent in sorrow. Fate is the deadliest boxer you will ever face and when it gives an opening at happiness, that’s when you must punch and hold nothing back. There is what you cannot change, and there is what you can.

Under a fiery dusk sky, a four-engine DC-4 took off at Dorval Airport, bound for Paris.

The End (orchestra music)

Starring as Nadia… Ariadna Shengelaya, one of the greatest actresses in the Soviet era.