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Short Stories


By January 16, 2023No Comments


I put the call in, explained that Borubaev was in the city morgue, unfortunately only visiting rather than checking in. Presumably he’d gone to see Husam Umarov’s mortal remains. I didn’t think he’d get much information from that; a shotgun might be quick but it’s also staggeringly messy. I once had to hang a late payer over the parapet of a bridge, and when they admitted they didn’t have the money to pay, I kept hold of their shoes and watched them fall. That was messy too. And you hear the scream for a surprisingly long time.

‘Don’t underestimate Borubaev,’ the boss warned, ‘He’s been round the block a few times, and he’s more resourceful than you think.’

‘If he’s that smart, why no fancy apartment, cool car, hot girlfriend?’

‘That’s not what he’s about, and that’s what makes him dangerous,’ the boss said, ‘People who like the usual vices, they’re easy to deal with. A bundle of cash buys them. The only question is, how thick is the bundle. Borubaev though, he’s an idealist. Or a fool.’

‘He cares about the woman though.’

‘One of his weaknesses. That and believing justice for the dead changes anything.’

I had to laugh. None of the people I’d escorted into the ground had ever received justice, as far as I knew. I suppose if they had, I wouldn’t be walking free.

‘So what’s your plan?’ the boss asked.

‘Well, I’ve got the bait. I’ve put him in touch with the lawyer. Bit by bit, I’ll get him to bite on the hook until he’s truly snagged, then I’ll reel him in.’

‘Alive, remember. At least until I say so. I want him to suffer a lot more before he gets his own spot in the cemetery.’

‘Maybe I should soften the woman up a little, let Borubaev know so he decides to ride to the rescue.’

‘I don’t want the woman hurt,’ the boss insisted, ‘She’s Uzbek Security, and we don’t need any enemies from that quarter. Let’s keep this nice and contained.’

I wondered if perhaps he’d started thinking about backing out. Revenge may be best eaten cold, but something it still tastes like shit. Not everyone has what it takes to take a life, but I do. Sometimes it’s the only way you can send a message, show you’re serious.

‘Whatever you say,’ I said, knowing when the time came, I’d be the one wearing the knuckledusters.

The boss broke the connection without saying goodbye, something I’ve always considered bad manners. It’s like not leaving a tip in a restaurant or emptying your car ashtray into the gutter. No consideration for the bigger picture, no thought about keeping the wheels turning, keeping sweet.

I didn’t intend discussing the issue with the boss, not yet at any rate. Some things are best left until the time is right.

But what couldn’t wait was the matter of Saltanat Umarova. A return visit to Guliya Sabirova was in order, to remind her what she was supposed to say to the inspector.

And to point out what would happen if she didn’t.

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