Soviet Reunion

(Time: The near future. Place: A small park in Moscow. IGOR and VLADIMIR, two beggars with tin cups, approach each other.)

IGOR: Vladimir? Is it really you?
VLADIMIR: Yes, Igor, it's really me.
IGOR: You haven't changed.
VLADIMIR: Oh, I've lost a little weight.
IGOR: Who hasn't? These are hard times. But, I have plans. Big plans.
IGOR: Yes. In fact, I'm going to be rich. A millionaire.
VLADIMIR: Am I hearing right? Is this the same Igor Petronovich who used to denounce the "sick capitalist exploitationists?"
IGOR: That was then, this is now, comrade.
VLADIMIR: So, what is this big plan of yours?
IGOR: Shhh. Not so loud. Come closer.
VLADIMIR: Why? Who would be listening?
IGOR: People.
VLADIMIR: What people? The KGB?
IGOR: People who would profit from knowing what we know.
VLADIMIR: And what do we know?
IGOR: The secret of eternal youth.
IGOR: Yes. I do. Don't you?
VLADIMIR: No. Of course not.
IGOR: Oh. I'm sorry, Vladimir. I thought you knew how to rejuvenate your health, your appearance, even your outlook on life.
VLADIMIR: No, I don't. And this doesn't sound like you, Igor Petronovich.
IGOR: Of course it doesn't sound like me. That's because I've been rejuvenated, reborn -- through the magic of natural herbal baths, lotions, and teas.
IGOR: Herbal tea.
VLADIMIR: What is herbal?
IGOR: It doesn't matter. What matters is how you look and feel after only two weeks of herbal colonic treatments.
VLADIMIR: This is crazy, Igor. You sound like the cosmonauts after eight months on the Mir space station.
IGOR: In fact, I've designed an herbal rejuvenation kit that specifically addresses your needs as a housewife. The kit includes the fourteen-day herbal colonic treatments, the body oils, the yeast and fiber concentrate, the high-potency high-protein drinks, the --
VLADIMIR: Stop, comrade, stop! I've heard enough.
IGOR: There. See?
VLADIMIR: See? See what? Why are you smiling like an idiot?
IGOR: I am smiling like an idiot because I have just demonstrated Herbalife Sales Pitch Number Four. You see? It's easy. And you can do the same thing. After you shave and find some better clothes, of course.
VLADIMIR: My head is spinning. Which Igor am I talking to now?
IGOR: I'll lend you the training manual for a few days. Study it. We start next week. They suggest it's best to work in pairs -- it gives you "leverage over the targeted customer," or "pigeon."
VLADIMIR: I'm confused.
IGOR: Of course, I could be wasting my time with you, Vladimir. You might be too timid and shortsighted. Not like Sergei Grishkov.
VLADIMIR: Sergei Grishkov? The former Assistant Deputy Administrator in the Ministry of Agriculture? I thought he was dead. When did you see him?
IGOR: Yesterday. And today I am a licensed independent distributor for all Herbalife products in the Greater Moscow area.
VLADIMIR: All right, I've changed my mind. I want to be rich.
IGOR: Good. Next week, if you're ready, we go on the road. You'll be the shill.
VLADIMIR: The shill?
IGOR: Yes. You'll read about it in the manual, but, whenever I suggest something to the pigeon, you agree. No matter what I say, you agree. That's the shill's job.
VLADIMIR: That's just like my old job in the Ministry of Information.
IGOR: I told you it was easy.
VLADIMIR: What else do I have to do?
IGOR: I'll fill you in on everything later. Just remember -- shave, and find a better pair of pants. And read the training manual.
VLADIMIR: I will do this for you if you will do something for me.
IGOR: What's that?
VLADIMIR: As a favor to me, attend a "Get acquainted with Dianetics" meeting tomorrow night.
IGOR: Come again?
VLADIMIR: You might find the wisdom of L. Ron Hubbard just the thing that's been missing from your life.
IGOR: What are you talking about?
VLADIMIR: I'm talking about your sense of well-being, Igor. Why do you spend half your waking hours consumed in self-pity? The answer is on page 53 of "Dianetics," by L. Ron Hubbard.
IGOR: Now I'm confused.
VLADIMIR: Scientology, comrade. I was "reeling in another fish," as the book says. Come to the meeting. With Scientology you can get rich quick, and you don't have to carry around a suitcase full of herbal tea.
IGOR: You're serious.
IGOR: How does it work?
VLADIMIR: It's simple. They recruit people, like me, to recruit other people, like you, to recruit other people, like Sergei Grishkov, who recruits still other people, who pay him some money. Sergei Grishkov "kicks back" a portion of that money to you, and then you "kick back" a portion of that money to me.
IGOR: And who do you "kick back" your money to?
VLADIMIR: Arkady Belov.
IGOR: Arkady Belov? The Deputy Party Chairman?
VLADIMIR: Former Deputy Party Chairman. Now he recruits for the Church of Scientology.
IGOR: It's a church?
VLADIMIR: Not really, comrade. So, you'll come to the meeting?
IGOR: I'll have to think about it.
VLADIMIR: It will change your life, comrade.
IGOR: I said I'll think about it, comrade. In the meantime, don't forget to read the Herbalife training manual.
VLADIMIR: I'll read it.
IGOR: Because, if we're going to be rich we have to start soon.
VLADIMIR: I said I'll read it.
IGOR: Well, it was good seeing you again, Vladimir Ivanovich.
VLADIMIR: Yes, it was good seeing you too, Igor Petronovich.
IGOR: To the future.
VLADIMIR: To the future.

(They toast each other, banging their tin cups together, then walk off in opposite directions.)

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