"Whoo boy, I really took you big time, didn't I buddy?"

"Well, let me just say that perhaps my knowledge of American basketball is not as sophisticated as I might wish."

"Heh heh, you got that right, but it's not like you don't have any basketball in Russia. I've seen the Olympics and I know better than that. And don't forget about that cool Super League of yours. I've made a fortune betting on the Moscow Red Army."

"Damn, do I ever hate the Red Army. They always win the Super League Championship."

"Yeah, that's why I always bet on them."

"I know, they are much like your New York Yankees. I tell you, just once before I die, I would like to see St. Petersburg in the big game. Or even the Moscow Dynamos. Anybody but the Red Army."

"Well, good luck with that, Vlad. All that I know is that I'm two hundred rubles richer that I was last night. You think I could get that in American dollars?"

"I suppose. Do you have change for a ten?"

"Hold on to it. What's say we go double or nothing on this?"

"That depends. Who are you taking?"

"The Tigers."

"Memphis? Really? I thought that you would be all over the Jayhawks after the punishment they afflicted on North Carolina. At times it seemed as though their heels really were made out of tar."


"It was a joke. Tar-heels. Get it? Maybe it just doesn't translate well into English."

"It sure as heck doesn't. So it's a deal? You've got the Jayhawks, and I've got the winner, right?"

"In your dreams."

"I'll take that actions any place I can get it. I'm just thinking about where I'm going to spend that four hundred rubles."

"Do not trouble yourself by thinking too hard, for that is four hundred rubles that you will never see."

"More like four hundred rubles you'll never see again. I know, cause I looked into your soul."

"Ha. You are a funny man, George. I do not say that to many people. I wonder if our paths will ever cross again."

"Oh sure, Vlad. I'll see you in a few months at the Olympics. And you'll still be around here, you'll just be Prime Minister instead of President. It's not like you're going to end up on the scrap heap of history, or anything."

"No, that is true. I just wonder if I'll ever meet another American president that I like as much."

"Well, you've already met both Clinton and McCain, and Obama's an egghead, so I'm afraid the answer to that is pretty much no. Still... hey, my guy is waving like crazy at me, must be time for me to get going. Places to go, things to do, you know. So see you around. So long, buddy."

"Goodbye, comrade."


2008, Mark Hoback