The Russian Book Club

The Russian book club's "dare" was this: Flip to a random page of a novel, point, then go out and do exactly what the character does. Predictably, perhaps, the book club had to recruit new members every few years. There were rumors, oh yes. Predictable ones -- yet, since nobody ever talked about the rules of the book club, it never came under legal scrutiny. Who knew for sure that we even existed, anyhow? Other than ourselves. Each member we lost was one less liability, if you want to look at it that way. And some of us did. But I personally grieved for our fallen heroes. The young man who put his finger on that unlucky passage close to the end of Anna Karenina! He didn't lament his fate, didn't protest, didn't try to evade the issue. He went out the next day, dressed in his finest, straight to the railroad station. We heard about the gory denoument that afternoon. It was a tumult in the press. Nobody could understand it. No note was found. The police were clueless. The Russian book club met the following Tuesday. We all wore black, or at least black armbands or ties, to show our regret, yet nobody spoke of him. We were already starting out on a new book: Crime and Punishment.