Anton giggled as he approached me. Many people would look bizarre doing that without an obvious reason, but it suited him perfectly.
“And now you. A kind guy. A smart guy,” he said. This was another habit of his. He’d talk in a way that made sense only to him.
I shrugged. That’s how I dealt with Anton.
We stood near a small pond. So the others would leave me alone, I volunteered to guard our khaki knapsacks, piled on top of each other in an untidy heap. Behind us, a dense forest whispered its age-old thoughts to a caressing breeze. Across the pond lay the endless green expanse of the mid-Russian countryside, with a few black and white cows dotted here and there. The air smelled a little of the stale pond water and the cow dung from a farm nearby.