Putin joined the queue of schoolchildren and tourists, and smiled quizzically to himself.
It seemed an odd way to spend his day off when there was so much groundwork still to do, yet he had felt a strong desire to come here.
He found it relaxing to give in to his desires sometimes; most of his life was so regimented, so devoted to his plan and his rise to power.
The line moved slowly, and he thought about all that had happened in the past few months. Everything had fallen into place so easily.
As chief of the Presidential Property Management Department, he had only to approach the rich men, the oligarchs, and they came to his side.
They all believed that money was power. He chuckled: It would not be long until they discovered that *power* is power.
He looked up at the vast space, the magnificent architecture that surrounded him. It spoke of power, power as permanent as marble.
He realized that he needed such a structure for his own headquarters—magnificent, opulent, the headquarters of his animal agents.
Yet it should also be hidden, secret; he frowned. Well, once he had the oligarchs’ money, he would put it to good use.
There was a sudden flurry at the head of the line: A fat American tourist had fainted. The guards helped her up. Americans—so weak!
Did they even understand what they were seeing here? No. They came because their guidebook told them to. Weak, and ignorant! He grimaced.
The line moved slowly forward. He could have skipped the wait, flashed his credentials and gone ahead of them all, but that was not his way.
He did not like to call attention to himself; it was better when they underestimated him, when he struck with the element of surprise.
Finally, Putin reached the head of the line and stood looking down into the casket at the dead, waxen face of Vladimir Lenin.
He could barely hear the faint hum of the electric motor installed inside the body to keep the humidity level constant.
Putin gazed thoughtfully down at the architect of the Red Terror and considered his ruthless push to power: What a role model!
Of course, Putin admired Stalin even more. What a shame that they had removed Stalin’s body from its place at Lenin’s side!
After a few years in the mausoleum, it had been taken away quietly, almost secretly, and buried it in a modest spot near the Kremlin wall.
The new tomb had been covered with many layers of concrete. “Why concrete?” Putin wondered as he turned to leave.
After all, it wasn’t as if Uncle Joe were going to get up and walk away.