Here’s to Oligarchs (Story by R.C. Peris)

Boris was a man of no words. He pointed, nodded, pushed. I never heard a word from his mouth. He was driving me to Queens. He expertly paralleled parked two houses down from the McCaskey’s. I got out with a briefcase. It was heavy. I stopped to smoke. Box of Dunhill’s in my jacket pocket. A kid on a scooter passed by. A woman pushing a stroller passed by. She grinned at me and then her smile melted like ice cream on an August day. There was something about me. Growing up. There was always something about me. I never really had a friend. Then women wouldn’t sleep with me. I paid for prostitutes. I asked one of them why people kept their distance.

She frowned. “You look like you would break every bone in a person’s body.” She held out her hand for the money.

“Ah…I look dangerous.” I slapped her ass.

“Are you?” She looked at me with growing fear.

“Do you really want to know?”

That was five years ago. Now the McCaskey’s. I stubbed out my cigarette and rang the doorbell. An older blonde woman with red eyes opened the door.

“It’s about your daughter,” I said.

The woman started trembling. “She’s dead.”

“I know. Let me in.”

It was my face. Dangerous. The woman opened the door and I walked in. I sat on the sofa and opened the briefcase.
“Don’t press charges and this is all yours.”

The woman touched the money. “How…”

“A million.”

The woman blanched. “And I withdraw…”

“I’m sorry about your daughter. I really am. But it’s hard to sing crime with a million dollars staring at you.” I pushed the briefcase forward. “Take it. Things could get dangerous for you. Think of the rest of your family.”

She looked at me and started crying. Fright. Grief. Both.

“You Russians…”

“Awww, no more dangerous than the Italians. So…keep your mouth shut, right?”

The woman grabbed the suitcase to her chest and nodded.

Boris was leaning on the car when I walked up. “To the Russian Tea Room,” I said.

It was a long drive. Mr. Zatsev and two men in expensive suits were sitting in a red leather booth with half-empty plates in front of them.

“Vassily…” said Mr. Zatsev. “Sit, sit. I’ll order borscht and vodka.” Mr. Zatsev spoke in Russian. He was a billionaire with heavy political influence in Russia and the US. The typical oligarch.

“Is it done?” he asked.

“It is done,” I said in Russian.

Mr. Zatsev laughed. “Money shuts many mouths. Tomorrow you’re delivering some money to the prosecutor. It’s all worked out. My lawyers,” he waved at the two men in suits, “have fixed everything. Now I just pay.”

I nodded. I asked in English. “How’s Anna, your daughter?”

Mr. Zatsev waved his hand. “Sending her back to Moscow via a rehab center in Switzerland.”

Anna, high on cocaine and vodka, sped through a red light and killed a nineteen-year-old young woman. Sarah McCaskey. I set back in the booth and appraised the restaurant, the men in suits, and Mr. Zatsev. Paying people was an easy gig. Torturing and killing were harder. I hadn’t done that in a month. But a shipment of girls was arriving in a few weeks and I knew I would have to fulfill my destiny. An evil person who looked evil and did evil things.

“Mr. Zatsev, my payment.” One of the men, a lawyer, pushed a fat envelope towards me.

“Don’t spend it on hookers,” said Mr. Zatsev.

“But Mr. Zatsev, you have the best hookers.” Everyone laughed. The vodka arrived and I lifted my glass. “Here’s to oligarchs.” No one laughed.


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