Dmitrii Emets

Translated from Russian


Jane H. Buckingham

©Jane H. Buckingham 2012

1 There was not a rustle, no noise. Professionals at work. They took out the man on duty before he managed to raise the alarm. A bulky figure flickered outside the door of imitation beech and with four faded stained-glass windows. It stretched its arms out as if about to enter. In the next second, the glass shattered into fragments. And only then, shots resounded belatedly like deafening cracking peas... The chair back was shot through in two places but the chair stood. The TV exploded with a soft pop. Cartridges were not spared – shots were fired until the chamber was emptied. Squeaky ricochets jumped like confused frogs on the linoleum. The only thing that saved Agent Pupko was that he was near the safe at that moment. They rolled across the landing and he froze behind his door, freeing from a worn belt holster his personal TT1 (1st Chechen company, saved a general from a burning tank). The shots stopped. They were listening in the hallway. Someone stepped on a cartridge case and muttered under his breath. Pupko started to moan, demanding that they kill him, but he had already raised his TT, holding it in the line of vision. Waiting until a broad figure had become firmly established in the doorway, he gently pulled the trigger. After the pop of the automatic shots, the pistol was very quiet. The figure swayed to the side and half fell, half sat down hard on the floor... “One,” said the agent. Someone, bent down low, quickly ran past the door. Pupko fired but missed. The next instant a grenade, small and quite harmless-looking, rolled into the room. Sliding along the linoleum, it caught the electric heater and stopped. The grenade had not exploded and another already rolled in following it... “Mama told me: change job!” Agent Pupko muttered. The Playboy beauty glued to the door looked with horror at the grenade, shielding herself with her little hands. Both explosions happened almost simultaneously. The portrait of Dzerzhinsky2 swung in a broken frame. F.E. himself narrowed his eyes disapprovingly. No longer hiding, two came into the room and stood by the table. “What became of the fuzz? Jumped out the window, perhaps?” The door of the safe clanged open. There, whole and unharmed, sat Agent Pupko. In his right hand was the TT, in his left, a Beretta. 3 The first and the last discovery the killers made was that both pistols had already fired. “Tick-tock... Self-defence,” said Agent Pupko.


TT (Tula, Tokarev) pistol, the first army self-loading pistol of the Soviet Union, is a semi-automatic pistol developed by the design team under Fedor Tokarev (1871-1968), Russian weapons designer, at the design bureau of the Tula Arms Factory. 2 Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky (1877-1926), a Russian revolutionary from a Polish noble family, was a Soviet statesman and the first Director of Cheka. 3 Beretta is an Italian firearms manufacturer and the oldest active firearms manufacturer in the world. ©Jane H. Buckingham 2012

2 The fiction writer Gene Tkachev, writing under the pseudonym of Igor Mokryi, wiped his perspiring forehead with a scented airport serviette. He read the passage again and, on discovering the bit about naked beauties, wanted to erase it because of the general dissonance, but gave up afterwards. “Will pass as a character trait... Could even stick on his partner, Captain Likhov, who is now being treated with carbonated water for the double wounds in the head,” decided Tkachev. The kettle started to boil for the third time already that morning. He ought to stop drinking coffee in such quantities, but not today... The action novel with the amusing title Light a Cigarette with Dynamite! was approaching its finale. Nine pages had already been filled for three and a half weeks and placed under the contract. In agreement with the publisher, Agent Pupko had to be finished off quickly to launch a new hero, but the rat turned out to be just remarkably tenacious. “Well, doesn’t matter... Now I’ll bump him off...” Tkachev, Igor Mokryi, took a sip of coffee, blew cake crumbs off the keyboard, and continued. Cassandra’s fingers slid through his hair. The robe flew open. Two firm hemispheres swung invitingly. “Come to me, General.” “I’m a major,” said Agent Pupko. “I’d instantly make you a general. You’re so renowned...” “Ahem...” “First time I’ve seen a blushing policeman... Will you have some cognac?” “I’m on duty.” “Well, vodka then!” Pupko grinned. “Well, only quickly.” “Which quickly: that or the other?” Cassandra asked with suspicion. “Booze quickly, the other slowly...” “Now this I like a lot already.” Seductively swaying her hips, Cassandra walked over to the table. Her slender fingers froze over the glass. Something small and white slid to the bottom... Having ascertained that no sediment was at the bottom, Cassandra offered the glass to the agent. He grabbed it with his wide palm and sniffed with anticipation. “Oh, real Napoleon! 4 Where’s your ashtray? Don’t want to burn the carpet...” When Cassandra returned with an ashtray, Pupko was sitting on the bed, holding the empty glass in his hand. Along the agent’s square chin flowed saliva. When

Napoleon cognac produced by Courvoisier, one of 4 leading cognac houses in the world. ©Jane H. Buckingham 2012

3 Cassandra came in, he still managed to lift unseeing eyes to her, and then fell heavily to one side. His face was contorted, his tongue lolling. The girl approached with disgust and pulled a blanket over his head. Then she went over to the window and, after moving the curtain aside, waved to someone. Soon there was a short ring at the door. Cassandra slipped into the hallway and returned with a stooping, unshaven man, covered with tattoos from his collarbone to his big toe. This was the doctor, the famous bloodless killer, master of strangleholds, tsar of heart attacks, king of poisons (book 1, 3, 4)... “Where is he?” the doctor asked. “On the bed.” “He drank it?” “Yes,” the girl was scared. “Then he’s ready. Let’s look at him dead... He broke the necks of many of our boys. I want him lifeless, I want to gouge out his eyes with a Bowie knife...”5 The stooping one pulled off the blanket. He still had time to see the round, very round muzzle of the TT. Agent Pupko sat up on the bed. A frightened Cassandra shrank screaming into a corner. “Tick-tock, self-defence... Puss, where have you ever seen a fuzz who would drink cognac? Fuzzes pour down vodka,” said Agent Pupko. Gene Tkachev read the passage again. This bloody agent came off in one piece again. Even made short work of the doctor and that one would still come in handy for the next book... Well, never mind... Will be able to write that the doctor was injured... The mafia has good surgeons. Ah yes, he was in a bulletproof vest! Well, then, more. Feeling that he had sat motionless for too long, Tkachev stood up, walked across the room, and started to squat, huffing and puffing. After the third squat, he started to have a stitch in his side. The novelist anxiously touched his stomach with a finger and dared to squat no more. Yes, have to buy vitamins quickly... Tkachev went to the computer again, feeling that some small nonsense was bothering him. This white pill, which Cassandra dropped... Cyanide? No, too trite, but among other poisons the novelist only remembered arsenic. However, arsenic is now unfashionable. A pro like the doctor would not use it. Maybe replace it with clonidine? No, clonidine is medication, and then who the hell knows whether it is for injection or in tablet form... “Well then, let the editor sort it out... If he doesn’t like it, let Pushkin write them for such fees...” Tkachev decided. He looked in the Statistics section and grimaced. Already three hundred and fifty excess rows. The mouse key got stuck again and marked everything. Tkachev, Igor Mokryi, started shaking the mouse, thinking that this delay would give Agent Pupko an extra three minutes of life.

A Bowie knife is a fixed-blade fighting knife first popularized by Colonel James Bowie (1796-1836), 19 th c. American pioneer and speculator. It commonly refers to any large sheath knife with a cross guard and a clip point. ©Jane H. Buckingham 2012


After the long and tedious paperwork – he had to formally file right away for the five corpses (good that there was already a ready-made template on the computer) – Agent Pupko returned home. On the seat next to him was a huge bouquet of roses, prepared for his evening meeting with a beloved woman, Lena Fomina (36-23-36, blonde, blue eyes, J’ai Osé perfume, loves red wine and guinea pigs). Lena lived on the outskirts and Pupko was now driving along a deserted and dark street in the industrial zone. On the left and right stretched concrete fences. Gnarled trees resembled rheumatic fingers of the dead sticking out of the ground. Suddenly something roared ahead, a motor whined, and a long trailer coming out of the alley blocked his way. Agent Pupko braked and, turning the steering wheel as in a race, tried to turn around in his ancient BMW restored by the golden hands of the Major. The performance tires would cope, they would not run into the deep hole, formed here by the efforts of Igor Mokryi, on the way. The rear wheel fell into it... The light blue BMW rolled over. Agent Pupko was saved only by the seatbelt and twelve lessons with a master from Taiwan (book 1 part 2), turning his body into an iron shirt. After pulling out his reliable TT, the agent opened the window and began to crawl away from the car with the greatest difficulty. His right hand was dislocated, his knee busted or bruised. In addition, the gas tank was leaking, and here a bluish light was running along the pool of escaping gasoline to the gas tank. Now the fifth, the rear door of a Chevrolet Blazer parked on the sidewalk lifted up slowly. The seats were folded down and in the empty space, the butt of a machine gun pressed to his shoulder, a man in a mask raised himself on his elbows. Next to him, up on one knee, loomed a grenade launcher operator in such a neat little cap with slits for eyes. “Well, that’s it, the end of him!” With a grin, Gene Tkachev held out his finger in order to place the final period. He did not leave the agent a chance. The pistol would make only one shot and then – it was well known to the author – the next cartridge would veer off. The novelist stared at the monitor, wondering what rejoinder to give the fuzz to the full so that a reader would shed a tear. At that same instant, Major Pupko accidentally lifted up his eyes, and – the author’s gaze and the hero’s gaze intersected for the first time in seven books. The poor agent suddenly realized that he was a marionette, a puppet, which would now be put away in a box... With a curse, Pupko raised the TT and, supporting the sprained wrist with his left hand, took aim – no, not at the SUV but into the sky, at his puffy scribbling maestro frozen on the other side of the monitor. “Ah-h-h!” Igor Mokryi moved unsuccessfully to the side... The sound of the fallen chair merged with the sound of a dry pop. It was not even clear whether it was the shot or the slim-legged freak chair just gave way... Agent Pupko picked up the cartridge case and, squeezing it in the palm of his hand, slipped it into his pocket. “Tick-tock. Self-defence,” he said and, hobbling, got up, after
©Jane H. Buckingham 2012

5 making sure that the SUV with the machine gun had disappeared, the burning car had been extinguished, and the long trailer turned out only to be dislodged by the falling gates of the transport company. The wounds (thanks to the deceased author) healed on him like on a dog. Looking emotionally at the blue sky, the colour of pillowcases stained from combined laundry, Pupko pulled out his cell phone and called his beloved. “Lena, dear... That’s it, finally, it has ended! I’m leaving the agencies and our lifelong dream will come true. I’ll get a job playing the saxophone in a restaurant.” The phone shook. A grim male tear rolled down it. Another tear – transparent, clear as Absolut vodka,6 partially flooded the phone at the other end of the line... The supervisor of the detention centre Senior Lieutenant Lena Fomina was a sentimental woman.


Absolut, the third largest vodka brand, was established and is still produced in Sweden. ©Jane H. Buckingham 2012

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