Putin-22, Heartless Covid-19 Successor, Proves More Deadly—Excerpts


Back in February 2022 we all saw these images of women and children crowding onto trains, their husbands or mates standing nearby, all at the emotional breaking point. Anxiety was palpable. What was going to happen? Would I ever see him or her again? Kids wore worried, confused expressions. She is holding back tears because, “I don’t want my kids to see me crying.” And those without kids were losing it, regaining control, then losing it again. You cannot watch this scene without losing control yourself. From happy to sad, from smiling good health to tragedy.

One self-aggrandizing Monster, however, could care less. He could probably watch a person choke to death and it would not move him to offer assistance. He is the Tin Man who does not want a heart.

But now, five months later, some of these women and their children were returning. I got on the train to Kyiv at Warsaw, Poland, and at Chelm we crossed the border into Ukraine.


She was a nice young woman and a little calmer than “mom.” I don’t know the story but I think that “mom” had suffered more stress while fleeing the “Monster.” Maybe she had more to lose and more to protect. Stress doesn’t always go away when the cause is gone; it can be “sticky.”


The calm mom with perfect posture, even while sitting, the pink chiffon “dancer,” explained that her little one was just two and had not seen his father for three months. She thought that might explain his fussiness, but I had not asked.

His older brother explained that his younger brother mostly slept during the day and lay awake at night. “He is a bit contrary?” I asked. “Very,” he said and smiled. We began to analyze little brother, a complex, quirky troublemaker, it seemed.


The Monster—let’s call him Putin-22, successor to Covid-19—had caused great inconvenience and considerable trauma, but some of it would pass in time. But for others the damage would be more lasting, even permanent. Stress doesn’t always pack up and go home when it is done being stressful. War or Disease, what’s your preference? What’s your form of apocalypse? Covid-19 any day for me; Putin-22 is a mental disease with ill intent; it enjoys your suffering. The more you suffer, the more its ego is boosted. If you die, all the better!


I got a cab at the station and went to my hotel, the Bontiak, near the centre of town close to Sophia Cathedral. I had my first look at Kyiv. It was gorgeous! Fine old buildings, beautiful architecture, lovely parks, and located above the Dnieper River. Loathing and lust dictators know. No wonder the Monster wanted to drink her blood!


Paulina told me she left at the beginning of the war but then came back. “You can’t think about attacks all the time,” she said. I was just getting used to the air-raid sirens, their low drone and sound of impending doom.


I stood on the corner on Volodymyvsk next to “Perfetto” restaurant waiting for my taxi to Bucha. Holding my phone in one hand and tracking the arrival of my taxi, I see my hand shaking. Had I miscalculated something in my character? Was I afraid? Not exactly; I think I was overwhelmed by what I was doing. I took a deep breath and regained some composure. But I had not calculated the personal effect of what I was doing. Bucha was a place of dark deeds. Bucha was where the Russians tied people's hands behind their backs and shot them in the back of the head, raped females fourteen years old and older, and tortured others by pulling out teeth and cutting off ears. Dark deeds, sordid dreams.


In Bucha, Viktor at the Viktoria Park Hotel—it had been looted during the occupation—told me he thought the market in downtown Bucha was “closed." He said that if I needed something there was a small market just down the road from the hotel. But when I went there I found it “limited.” The next day I walked to downtown Bucha. Novus, the market there, had been bombed; it was completely gutted inside. Moreover the signs out front had been riddled with holes from large-calibre machine guns, probably from tanks. I took photos. Back at the hotel I showed Viktor the photos of the market. “It’s definitely closed,” I said.

Viktor hesitated, stepped back, then said, “It hurts me to see that. I used to shop there.”

I realized my blunder. It was traumatic to see photos of something you once loved now destroyed.

“It hurts me too,” I said. “I shopped at Novus in Kyiv every day last week. It's a wonderful market.”

We now shared the grief and I was no longer a heartless bastard.

I didn’t show him the bullet holes in the signs. I spared him that insult.
By Louis Martin