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Short Stories


By October 17, 2022No Comments


By rights, I should have made my way to Sverdlovsky Station, brushed the dust and cobwebs off my desk, filed a report and sent it to everyone I could think of. But I didn’t. I tend not to get on well with most of my colleagues, at any rate not the stupid ones or the corrupt ones or the ones with friends and relatives who got them the job. Which means most of them.

The ones who are good policemen in my book usually have people watching them, keeping notes, jostling for position of a bigger slice of whatever cake is on the table. If you want someone interfering in your investigation, simply leave a file labelled CONFIDENTIAL on your desk; it saves you the trouble of distributing copies to everyone. Of course, it also works the other way, if you want to steer people away from your investigation. I’m good enough that the bosses leave me alone to get on with what I do best, hoping I won’t cause them any problems or embarrassment. Arm’s length suits everyone, until it’s time to collect the credit.

The weather had turned half-hearted, indecisive, like a woman unable to decide which pair of shoes to wear. Look in my wardrobe and you’ll find white shirts, a black suit and one pair of black shoes. It saves a lot of time in the morning.

I walked back down Kiev, heading towards the Beta Stores car park. The wind picked up the litter on the pavements and in the gutters, spinning them together and raising the dust so that I had to narrow my eyes and keep my head down. Snow flurries had gathered in a few corners, hinting at what was to follow when they got their act together and took over the city once winter arrived in earnest.

I wondered about stopping off in the expensive foreign coffee shop around the corner, decided I couldn’t even afford to look in the window, let alone order an espresso. It was at times like those I envied Saltanat and her bottomless expense account.

I picked my way across the patched and broken tarmac of the car park. I couldn’t see the car at first, wondered if Saltanat had been unable to find the entrance, dismissed the thought. Saltanat is nothing if not prepared for everything, and I knew she’d have a map of the centre of Bishkek firmly printed in her head.

Most of the parked cars seemed to have huddled together for warmth or company, but finally I spotted the car, parked facing the exit, just in case a quick getaway was needed.

Weaving my way around the puddles of muddy water that dotted the tarmac, I walked towards the car, wondering if Saltanat had seen my, why she didn’t start the engine and get ready for the two of us to drive away.

As I got nearer, I saw the passenger door was open. I smelt trouble, put my hand on my gun. When I reached the car, there was no sign of anyone in the driver’s seat. As always, I checked the back seat. Too many people get into a car, only to find a gun pressing at the back of their head, because they didn’t bother to look. Nothing. I knew Saltanat wouldn’t have left without a reason. I’d just come from seeing the violent death of one woman, hoped and prayed that I wasn’t about to find another.

I looked up at the sky, at the flecks of snow trembling down like ash from a cigarette, then around the car park. I might as well have been in an automobile graveyard, no one in sight. And no clue where Saltanat might be either. 

Or if she was even alive.

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