EXT. PETROGRAD WINTER PALACE—NIGHT OCT 1917

It’s a St. Petersburg street like Dostoevsky would describe.  The early morning hours near 2 a.m.  Snow.  What isn’t white—concrete, brick, metal.  A soft layer of snow on these things too.  The street lamps a halo for the snowflakes.  The city called Petrograd now.  Soon to undergo another name change after the October revolution.  

You see Antonin Popovitch as a young man.  A Russian guard for the White Army—a Cossack.  He stands at a tall wooden door that leads into the cavernous interiors of the palace. 

POPOVITCH (V.O.)

Not a shot was fired.  Despite the propaganda later.  Really just a few illiterate rebels.  They broke in, got lost in the hallways, and accidentally happened upon the remnants of Kerensky’s provisional government in the imperial family’s breakfast room…  But then maybe I shouldn’t say they broke in.  I let them in…  The signal was a whistle.  A low whistle from a darkened corner…

 

The following seen almost as if it was filmed with the technology of the time.  Black and white.  The timing off in the reels.  Scratch marks in the corners of the picture.  Poorly dressed men appearing at the door Antonin guards.  Most of them not even armed.  At least not with rifles.  Almost like a mob, but not quite big enough.  Just strange folk.  Wannabe gypsies in a city.  A close-up of Antonin—his finger to his lips as he ushers them in…

Then the same black and white reel.  But now a crossroads in Mississippi.  A hill—pleasant to the view in a cloudless sky.  A car comes into view at the top of it—A Model T Ford.  You watch its progress as it comes to the crossroads where a lone tree stands.  You watch it slow and stop, as if it’s meeting someone.

POPOVITCH (V.O.)

It was my secret.  How I betrayed my people so long ago…  For money—not much.  But I needed it.  For my family.  I was starting a family.  Just married.  My wife with child—our daughter—Nina…  Money for passage to America.  To start a new life…  Thousands of Cossacks died in the days that followed.  Some executed by the Soviet Regime.  Some deported.  Some starved in the man-made famine of our fertile lands that followed…  I thought my secret was buried in my family’s flight to America, but perhaps it was whimsical of me to think that…  You have to look ahead to find any form of heaven, but sometimes, sometimes what’s behind you are the tracks, the tracks that are not covered with snow…

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