Skip to main content
BlogShort Stories


By June 20, 2022July 25th, 2022One Comment

(Author’s note: in a print version, this chapter would be in a different typeface to indicate that it’s spoken by a different narrator: in social media, we indicate this by italics, and the use of colour in a chapter heading image, where possible)


Counting and splitting the take is where it usually goes wrong. Forget about bodyguards, armed police. Everything we do comes in a package marked danger; it’s all part of the job, risk versus reward.

When you’ve got a fortune in used untraceable notes spread out on the tablet and everyone in the room is still dancing on adrenaline, the temptation is there. A lifetime of vodka, beautiful women, smart cars and restaurants. 

All yours just by giving a bullet to everyone else in the room.

 The option, the possibility, they’re running through your mind like quicksilver. And of course, through the mind of everyone else in. It’s why I insist everyone puts their weapon on a shelf at the far end of the room. Not foolproof  –  what is?  –  but why lay yourself open to trouble? And of course, I’ve got a Beretta strapped in an ankle holster. Perks of rank.

I’ve worked with Dastan on enough jobs to know I can trust him. The wheels in his head might turn a little slowly, but after all, I don’t use him for his brains, just his muscles. Shaven head, a hundred kilos with a round belly that looks like hard fat, and the kind of unwinking stare that makes small children cry and babushki surreptitiously make the sign of the evil eye. I do the talking, he does the frightening.

The other two, Sapar and Farid, I hadn’t met before, and I’d rather have done the job just with Dastan. Until I found out what it was, who they were. I’ve met so-called professional hitmen before, never liked them. I’ve always believed in getting what you want without having to bring down heat on your head. But the boss says a lesson needs to be taught, to be seen, to remind everyone who not to cross or cheat. So I had no choice.

There was fifty thousand dollars on the table, all in hundred-dollar bills, call it half a kilo in weight. Five thousand for each of the shooters, three for Dastan, seven for me. Which gave the boss a tidy thirty grand on the day’s work. I counted out everyone’s share, checked my new watch, a Breitling Navitimer with the polished steel strap. In an hour it would be dark, and we could all leave the farmhouse, go our separate ways. I looked again at the watch with its many incomprehensible dials for functions I would never use, noticed there were flecks of dried blood between the metal links of the strap, remnants of the previous owner. Easy enough to get it cleaned, and it wasn’t as if he’d be using it any more.

I told Dastan to return everyone’s weapon as they left the room, looked over at Sapar and Farid. They could be twin brothers, both slim men, medium height, faces that wore no trace of emotion or regret about the killing. It wasn’t as if I’d never shot anyone, but it was out of necessity each time, business or self-preservation.

‘We don’t think five is enough,’ one of them said, Sapar I think.

I nodded as if considering what they said, then regretfully shook my head.

‘You know what the boss said. You get five each for the killing, and you got to rape the wife as an unexpected bonus. Not a bad day’s pay for a bad day’s work, surely?’

The other one, Farid, started to speak but I help up my hand to silence him.

‘Take it up with the boss; you know what a reasonable man he is. Just take the five and don’t complain. You want to work for him again, don’t you?’

The two men lapsed into a sulky silence.

I handed over their money, didn’t offer to shake hands. I watched as they walked towards Dastan to collect their guns. That was when I shot one of them, Farid maybe, in the back of the head, watched as he stumbled forward as if he’d caught his foot on something. 

At the same time, Dastan wrapped his enormous arms around Sapar so that he couldn’t reach for his gun. I pushed the barrel of the Beretta under his chin, watched his eyes widen, heard the man on the floor cough out the last of his life.

‘Raping the wife was really unprofessional,’ I said, genuine regret in my voice, ‘Messy, lots of evidence for forensics to collect. I bet you didn’t even use a condom. One or both of you is sure to be on a list somewhere, and if they arrest you, I don’t think you’re going to protect me for a mere five grand, do you?’

The man stared at me, spat in my face. He had balls, I gave him that much.

‘You gone, the trail ends here. Another unsolved mystery to baffle Bishkek Murder Squad. And of course,’ I added, putting tension on the trigger, ‘There is the rather pleasant additional bonus that Dastan and I can share.’

I turned my face away to avoid the worst of the blood spatter, pulled the trigger, twice. The top of his head sprang open like a jack in the box, the mealy soup of brains spilling out as Dastan dropped the body to the floor. It’s not difficult to blow someone’s brains out if you know you have to do it.

Dastan brought in the gasoline can from one of the cars, doused the bodies and the simple wooden furniture, while I rescued their shares, added them to our pile. The eye-watering stink of blood, brains and fuel filled the room.

‘You take the Audi and I’ll drive the BMW,’ I said, ‘Give me a ten minute start, then start the bonfire. Meet in the usual place the day after tomorrow, OK?’

Dastan nodded, a man of no words. I like that in a colleague.

I checked my watch again as I started down the track. More blood on the strap, fresh this time. I really was going to have to get it professionally cleaned.

#tomcallaghanwriter #writer #akylborubaev #akillingwinter #aspringbetrayal #asummerrevenge #anautumnhunting #amorningresurrection #bishkekmurdersquad #inspectorakylborubaev #crimewriter #crimenovelist #thrillerwriter #thrillernovelist #kyrgyzstan #crimebooks #thrillerbooks #booksinstagram #bookreviews #bookreader #crimeauthor #thrillerauthor