“Hey, leave her alone! “

The guy turned towards Dan and growled. He was baring his teeth, like a wild animal. Was that drool dripping from his mouth?

The woman was on the skinny side, and as she pulled her hand out of the man’s grasp, she fell, landing on her ass. Poor thing thought Dan who was rather scared himself.

“Hey comrade, no-one has to get hurt here, how about you walk away, and we forget everything that happened? “

The crazy guy growled. It was such an inhuman sound it made Dans blood freeze. Just as the beast-man stopped his growling, he launched himself towards Dan. Even though he looked very uncoordinated he was fast. Dan clutched the piece of jagged concrete, and his body just took over. He slammed the rock into the guys face with all the force he could muster on an empty stomach on a cold Tuesday morning.

The cold was suddenly forgotten, because hot blood erupted like a volcano from the man’s face and coated Dans hands.

The attacker dropped on all fours but ignored the wounds. The dim light filtering from the grey morning sky was concealing what was really going on.

“Hey, would you like me to take you to a hospital? “ Dan mumbled stepping carefully towards the injured man. When he got close, he could smell the rotten stench of faeces and decay, Dan almost vomited, only his stomach was empty, all he could was dry heave.

The man jumped back to his feet, snapping out of his stupor, and launched towards Dans leg, trying his best to bite him.

The pain was excruciating, as the man-beast shook his head from side to side, trying to tear flesh from bone like a wild dog.

Dan cried out in pain.

“Pizda matii de canalie (Fucking shit)!!”

Dan smashed the rock down onto the attacker’s head. Once, twice, until the crazed man-beast stopped, his skull cracking like thunder in the silent morning.

Dan was frozen.

What he did was manslaughter!! Fuck!!

The guy was dead, a piece of his brain was glistening in the early light of dawn.

Fuck, fuck, fuck!! “I am going to face a lifetime sentence “

Dan tried to keep his cool. He looked around. The woman he went to save was gone. “Okay man, breathe! “

Dan dropped the bloodied piece of concrete to the ground.

He had a good look at the man for the first time. The dead guy was wearing an elegant coat, warm and made from wool. Dan felt sick to his stomach. This guy was clearly secret militia known as Securitate. Fuck!! You get tortured for killing one of those guys. They were untouchable!! Dan checked the dead man’s pockets and found his wallet in the inside pocket of his suit jacket.

The guy’s name was Ion Popescu and he was from Bucharest, so not from here. What was a Securitate guy from the capital doing here??

It got worse and worse. He found a military ID that showed him that this guy was a colonel in the army. Securitate didn’t officially exist, they were ghosts everyone knew about and feared. If that wasn’t bad enough, Dan now had a very, very dead Securitate Colonel on his hands.

The jacket was so nice, Dan almost stripped him of it, but such a jacket would attract attention. Still, Dan had to have it. You could not just get to the store and buy one. Most stores where empty.

Dan grabbed the guys feet and pulled him across the empty street and inside the building that was still under construction. The construction crew would pick up work just when the weather improved. He hid the man in one of the unfinished apartments on the bottom floor. Crazy dead guy had great boots, probably from the west. Securitate guys could leave the country, go shop outside. And they also had the money for it. Dans own feet were freezing in a pair of raggedy shoes that he lined with newspapers. He had to have the shoes, who the fuck cared, he would end up in prison or worse, either way, he would have warm feet for a few days.

Dan checked the dead guys shoe size, all the time being careful not to look at his broken face and crushed skull. That was not a nice sight to behold.

They were the same size!! Dan unzipped the boots from the man-beast and exchanged them for his. These boots were heaven, lined with fur, soft and warm. Dan had never experienced such boots before. “I understand why you work for the Securitate, I would too! Well, no, I wouldn’t, but you guys live the good life. My mother would call me a grave robber, but you are not buried, so technically I didn’t rob a grave. “Dan found a just opened pack of Kent cigarettes, that was like gold on the black market. He couldn’t leave the coat, so he took it, turned it inside out and folded it neatly. There were some old dirty newspapers left from the construction crew that he could use to wrap it. Should he take the suit too?? Nope, that was too dangerous. How would he explain it? The coat was “Hot”, but he had a buddy in the factory that could help him trade it in on the black market. This was pure gold.

Dan should feel remorse he thought, but all he felt was satisfaction. These fuckers beat him and tortured him just for fun. Now he had revenge.

In the back of his mind questions formed about what happened to this guy. He acted like a savage, like a mental patient. What the fuck??

The sun was up, and Dan was late for work. The watch on the guys wrist showed 6 am” I am going to take this, you won’t mind, won’t you? “Dan asked as he slipped the watch into his pocket. He would have to make the exchanges slow. Too much good stuff attracts attention.

Picking one of the cigarettes out of the pack, Dan lit it. His leg hurt and the stabbing pain had now turned into a deep throbbing ache. He would go to the chief comrade and say he was attacked by a pack of wild dogs. There were a few on the streets, and as a proof he would show him his leg.

Stepping gingerly on his leg, Dan made his way towards the tram station with a Kent cigarette between his lips, a brand new pair of boots on his feet and an amazing coat he had to hide for a while and a watch that was just a bit too hot to wear.

“Thank you, comrade Popescu, he said mockingly, you’ve helped this poor political wrong-doing individual have a Merry Christmas! “

This was the morning of the 15th December. Dan made his way to the tram station that was already empty. Because the glorious communist regime decided to save on everything and make sure that the country paid all its external debts, trams were few and far between. In tightening the screws on people’s lives, every day existence was becoming more and more of a challenge.

Dan was already late, he took another cigarette from his pocket. There was no one else around waiting for the tram. The morning shifts had already started in the factories. The so called office staff got in for 7 am. 6 am was just a second of in between silence.

He savored the fancy cigarettes. It was way better than the Carpati he had. Not that you could just go and buy Carpati either, he got half a pack a month as part of his ration and for the rest he would trade with his colleagues. Some had wives that didn’t smoke the disgusting tar flavored things and they would use the extra to pay for stuff.

Dan was great at helping. He was extremely popular with the parents who worked on the assembly line. Dan would step in and tutor their kids for high school admission. They saved money and it was fun for Dan to be a teacher again. Plus, his colleagues were people who went to school for 4 years in some remote village, reading and writing was not easy for them. Still, Dan liked them, they were good people and spending the afternoon with families was nicer than sticking around the dorm.....