Looking out of his window at the clear starry sky, Warren Babble was beginning to wonder what his father had gotten him and his brothers into. The “Temple of Inanna” was starting to sound like some sort of lunatic cult. He picked up the pamphlet that he had found on his pillow, went to the desk in his room and sat down. Passing the small list of contents, he started to read about the history of the temple. It was constructed in 1890 by money contributed by Jay Gould and a conglomerate of banker and political friends. Over several years they continued to buy land in the area until 1926, when a large fence was put into place around the property. Originally proposed as a site for Gould and his associates to come on vacation, at a meeting in 1893 it was decided that meetings would be held once a year to decide on issues that were important to those involved. The site of the Temple was decided at this meeting and money was approved for its construction which took two years. Some of the decisions that were made at these early meetings were 1) replacement of the gold standard, 2.) the election of William McKinley, and 3) the hysteria drummed up which led to the Spanish-American War. The influence of the Temple eventually grew to the point where it was decided to create a governing board. The pamphlet then listed Board Presidents from 1900 until the present where it showed that Aaron Levitsky was elected President in 1995. The next section of the pamphlet gave details about the ceremony that everyone would be undergoing tomorrow night. The fact that he would have to wear a black robe seemed a bit ridiculous to Warren Babble, but, like a good leader, he decided that he would go through with it if it meant more money and power for him. He also knew that his brothers would do what he told them to do. It had been like that all of his life. No one fucked with Warren Babble if they wanted to get anywhere in this world. After reading about the ritual and responses that he would undergo, Warren Babble went to the bathroom and got ready for bed. The only thing that preyed on his mind was, what did Van Hesse really have to do with all of this and since he was a major player in the organization, would he hold it over his head? Warren Babble decided that first thing in the morning, he would have a talk with Van Hesse. He turned out the light.
Fortunately for Gladd, he managed to get to Van Hesse’s office 20 minutes early. Van Hesse’s assistant, a polite young man in his mid-20’s, offered Gladd something to drink while he was waiting, but he declined. Gladd used the time to think about what questions he wanted to ask Van Hesse. He also thought about what his unknown ally had said in his note. The twenty minutes flew by and Gladd heard the assistant tell him that Mr. Van Hesse would see him now. Gladd entered the office, which was well lit by the windows, and took the seat that Van Hesse offered him. Van Hesse was a stately gentleman with a full head of hair, which was silver. He wore glasses (whether for work or health, Gladd wasn’t sure). Of course, he knew that Van Hesse was confined to a wheelchair, because he had read up on him on his computer.
“Good morning, Detective Gladd. Shall we get started on the questioning. I will advise you, though, that personal matters relating to the late Mr. William Babble will not be answered due to my confidentiality clause with the family.” “I understand that perfectly Mr. Van Hesse, and I do not plan to take up much of your time.” “Very good. Now, what may I help you with.” “Well, let’s start with the basics. When was the last time you either saw or spoke to your late client?” “I last spoke to Mr. Babble a week before his death. I saw him later that afternoon. We were getting together for dinner to discuss some legal points that he wanted clarified about a possible merger.” “May I ask who the merger was with and where did you have dinner?” “I’m afraid that I cannot tell you with whom the merger concerns since it is still being developed and I would not like to compromise the ongoing process. It is currently being worked on by Mr. Babble’s sons and I would not want to be responsible for any indiscretions. As for dinner, Mr. Babble and I dined at Le Poule in Beverly Hills.” “Alright. How long have you been the attorney for the Babble family?” “I have been retained by the family for 45 years. I met William Babble after he returned from the war in Vietnam. Before that time, I was a dear friend of his father George Babble who was the chairman of Cordtex at the time.” “While you two were at dinner, did Mr. Babble ever mention anything about history or religion?” At that question, Van Hesse gave me a look that practically said: Are you out of your mind? “The point of that question is…?” “I ask this question because of some things that I noticed about the company. The facade of the company is designed to look like an Assyrian palace and I noticed that the pictures in Mr. Babble’s front office are arranged in a pyramid form. I just thought that Mr. Babble might have had an interest in ancient history or religion.” He didn’t answer me at first, but then started to give a deep throated chuckle and said: “My dear Detective Gladd, the architecture that you refer to was designed by Mr. Babble’s grandfather. From what I understand about the man, it was just one of his eccentricities. As for the “pyramid” in the front office, that is just coincidence. In fact, I never realized it until you mentioned it. No, Detective Gladd, Mr. William Babble would be the last person that I would suspect of having any interest in ancient history or religion. He lived for his company and for his employees.”
“Well, thank you very much for your time, Mr. Van Hesse. I think that that will be…oh, wait, one more thing. Do you know anything about Mr. Babble taking a trip to Northern California about three years ago?” Van Hesse stopped in his movements as he was showing Gladd out and gave him a stern look: “No, I was not privy to any trips that Mr. Babble took. If he had wanted me to know about it, I would assume that it was related to business. Otherwise, he went where ever he wished without consulting me.” “Once again, thank you for your time, sir. Good-bye” “Good-bye, Detective Gladd.”
It is a sultry August night with the neon serpent lights of the city spreading through various nooks and crannies. Earlier in the evening, rain had fallen and left traces of its presence in various potholes in the streets. Since it was fairly early in the evening, there were still massive parades of people walking to their personal destinations. The prostitutes were preparing themselves for their nightly hollow ritual of plying their trade, through the usual displaying of makeup, tawdry clothes, and in some cases, taking enough tokes to make the night bearable. One of these “ladies of the evening”, lets call her Natasha, even though that is not the name that she was given by her timid mother or alcoholic father, managed to find a corner that she knew was not part of any other pimp’s territory. This so-called Natasha stood by a lamppost, which was covered in the shallow white glow of the lights from inside of a drugstore. She had also chosen this spot because, if the rain made another appearance, there was a sheltered bus stop near by.
A block away from where all of this potential illegal activity would take place, there were five or six people lined up in front of a theater waiting to buy tickets to the latest, and hottest, according to the critics, play that had been produced in a long time. What this hot play was called is irrelevant to this story. It is enough just to know that the city was large enough to support some form of the fine arts. The fact that the box office would not be open for another 15 minutes is also irrelevant. The only thing that might be relevant is what the people standing in line would do once they had purchased their precious tickets. Would they quickly put them into the inner pockets of their cashmere coats or their major label purses? Would they then go to find a place to eat where they wouldn’t need reservations or just go to the nearest bus stop or subway station and drag their exhausted bodies home and make a quick meal using their microwaves?
A dark shadow draws a misshapen caricature along the concrete and bricks of an alleyway. Who the shadow belongs to is a less important matter than what is its purpose. The alley is filled with the loose wet trash of bygone occupants either blown there by the wind or left there by unthinking litter bugs. The shadow makes its way towards the end of the closed alleyway encasing it in the total darkness. There are windows which face out into the alleyway but there is no light shining from them. The eyes of the shadow at the end of the alleyway are the only forms of fluorescence visible to anyone who would bother to look in their direction. A dirty tom cat makes its way quickly out of the alleyway when it realizes that it is no longer alone. The cat senses that nothing good can come from its staying there hoping for a mate to make an appearance. As the cat speeds out of the alley, it is almost stepped on by a pedestrian who stumbles a step backwards not knowing what sort of demon has raced from a portal of hell. When he gets his balance backs, he looks to his right and sees the form of a cat racing through the spaces of traffic. “Damn cat!” he mutters and then slowly turns his face in towards the dark alley. He tries to focus his red-shot eyes at the darkness, hoping to see what could have caused the cat to flee from the alley, and not seeing anything significant, staggers on.
Within ten feet of the mouth of the alley, the man sees a woman standing in a pool of sickly white light. Eventually, his brain connects the dots and he attempts to straighten up his appearance before approaching the woman. He is pretty sure that he knows why she is standing there and he remembers that he has a twenty left in his wallet.
“Hey, honey, do you want a date?”
“Sure. How much?”
“First, I have to ask: Are you a cop?”
“No, I’m not a cop. I’m an accountant.”
“What are you looking for on this date?”
“Just a blow and go. I got $20.”
“You got a place close by?”
“No, not really.”
Hearing this, Natasha, as you may have guessed, heaves a small sigh. She hates it when she has to work outdoors. The air after the rain is a bit chilly and she really doesn’t want to get down on her knees in a dark dirty alley, but sometimes that’s the way the dice roll.
“Alright, follow me.” And she leads the way holding onto this man’s arm who is so low class that he doesn’t have the decency to take a girl to a nice place. Normally, she wouldn’t resort to an alley proposition, but business has been slow and her man expects her to make her quota.
The couple cross the line that separates the light of the city from the darkness of the alleyway. Neither one of them sees anything sinister as they walk down looking for a place that has some cover for what they are about to do. Finally, Natasha being almost ready to give up, but needing the twenty bucks that she has been promised, feels the man drag her over to the side of a brick building. In her purse she keeps a can of pepper spray in case this guy decides to try to take more than what he has paid for. The man leans back against the cool bricks and unzips his pants. She gets down on her knees and gets to work.
From the end of the alleyway, a pair of semi-luminous eyes stare out at the scene being played out. There is no movement made to either stop or interfere with what is going on. The entity hiding in the shadows finally starts to make its way towards the couple when it is obvious that neither one is cognizant of their surroundings. It creeps slowly and fluidly without making any noise. The entity slowly makes its way crawling up behind the woman’s moving head and the man’s oblivious stance. Suddenly, Natasha’s head is jerked back and a glistening sliver of metal passes by her eyes. The trash along the ground of the alleyway is baptized with blood, and the man, suddenly noticing that his pleasure has been interrupted, opens his bleary eyes and sees two small pearly orbs in front of his face. As he is about to shout, he sees the woman laying in a heap on the ground with a fulsome river of red running from her throat. His confused mind is trying to make sense of all of this, but he is not given enough time to think it through before he feels a sharp slice along his own throat. His body falls to the ground almost landing on the girl who had been working for a better life. The entity adjusts the bodies and makes its way back to the end of the alley. Waiting.
The Sun edges over the horizon, but it will be a couple hours before it can claim its place in the sky. The buildings and advertising signs block the Sun from being observed by anyone who is still wandering around looking for something to make their lives worth living. Occasionally, a bus filled with morning workers passes by the alleyway, but none of the half-awake people notice anything since they are either trying to catch a few more minutes of sleep before getting to their destinations or reading their newspapers. The shadows of the alleyway slowly disappear as the Sun rises and, eventually, someone will finally notice the two bodies. They will also notice that the bodies are different from the way that they had fallen to the ground. Of course, no one will know about this minor detail. If anything, they will question if they really cared, why both bodies are lying side by side and their faces are covered by plain white masks with only one word scrawled on it: Fate.
The Corporate Whore of Babylon
Three Stars (out of Five)
In The Corporate Whore of Babylon, an attention-grabbing mystery, the murder of a corporate
mogul leads a young detective into the world of a strange and secret society. Sixty-five-year-old
William Babble, CEO of a leading tire company, is found dead in his Malibu home, and Los
Angeles police detective James Gladd is assigned to investigate.
Gladd discovers a puncture wound in the back of Babble’s head and suspects murder.
When an autopsy confirms that Babble died by the lethal injection of a chemical mixture used
for people on death row—a substance no longer produced—he pursues the clues to determine
who might have had access to the chemicals.
His investigation uncovers Babble’s involvement in the Temple of Inanna, whose
members’ beliefs are based on Babylonian mythology. Babble’s four sons are also members of
the secret temple, and Gladd seeks to trace their involvement to solve the murder.
Steven Fritchie builds suspense early on in this murder mystery, but his story quickly
shifts to more of an action novel, with Gladd and the people assisting him often finding
themselves in peril. Fritchie focuses on the activities of the temple and its goals, which include
the creation of a “New World Order” by controlling economic, political, and social functions on
a global scale.
The action scenes are fast paced and the plot is engaging. Gladd, the likable central
character, is strongly developed as a good-hearted cop. Fritchie provides extensive details about
the detective’s professional life and investigative processes, and even offers a glimpse into
Gladd’s home life through his relationship with his quirky parrot, Sasha, who constantly
curses—a source of comic relief throughout the book.
While Gladd is an appealing character, the members of the Babble family, both father
and sons, are underdeveloped. Since Babble’s murder is at the center of the plot, and his sons
also play key roles, knowing more about them would have drawn readers in more fully.
At times, the level of detail can be overdone, particularly when it comes to the inner
workings and history of the temple. Some of the group’s rituals are extremely graphic and may
be off-putting to readers. Grammar and spelling errors create occasional distractions throughout
The Corporate Whore of Babylon will be most satisfying to readers who have a strong
interest in plot-driven narratives packed with action.
“Akulich! Make sure that the camera is focused! I want everything to be perfect when we send this video to the American sukiny syny on YouTube. We’ll show them that they can’t dictate to Russia! Is the camera ready? Good! Bring in the fucking pig!”
Andrey Malkin was the leader of Yaroslavl’s self-appointed “morality patrol”, as he liked to think of his gang. Between themselves, they called themselves “The Raging Cossacks”. Occasionally they would leave their graffiti on factories or other buildings which had been abandoned during the Yeltsin era. That was to let the people in the town know that there were people who were doing something about the Western disease of homosexuality in Mother Russia. The local police weren’t really equipped to do anything about the gangs and, in cases such as this, turned a blind eye.
Andrey Malkin and his friends had gotten together one summer day a year ago trying to think of something to do in order to fight their boredom. Kostya Palkin, the smallest built guy in the group, and a computer geek, came up with an idea that, when he mentioned it to Andrey, brought an evil glint to the 21 year old boy’s blue eyes. Kostya told Andrey that he had been on yandex.ru and had found a video about a LGBT group that was petitioning the council for a permit to have a Gay Pride parade. Kostya said that in light of the new “propaganda” laws, the council had refused the group the permit, but he had stumbled across a site which “those people” used to get in touch with each other. Kostya suggested that one of them go on the site and try to make a date with one of the fags. Once the fag was feeling comfortable with the person, they would set up a meeting. When the fag showed up, the other guys, who would be hidden, would come out and help kidnap the fag. They would take him somewhere private, “have some fun”, videotape the incident and put it on line as a warning to other fags that their days of freedom were over. After discussing the plan with the other guys, they decided that they would do it. Kostya, since he was the only one with a computer, would set everything up. Within a week, they had their first bite.
Andrey called the other five guys in the gang to his apartment the day before the date. He explained everything carefully to the others, and assigned them their parts once contact was made. Ivan Shchedrin would meet the victim since he got the most girls at school. Boris Akulich, the 21 year old whose father ran a photography studio, would be the cameraman since he assured Andrey that he would be able to borrow a video-camera from his father. Alex Zhabin, a 20 year old boy who, when he had gone to high school, was a wrestler and had almost as many pictures on his bedroom wall of former Olympic wrestlers as he did of Vladimir Putin, would be the main muscleman. Ilya Zhabin, Alex’s younger brother who idolized his brother and would do anything to please him. Once everyone was clear on their assignments, the group decided on a name for their gang, because as Andrey told them, if the media got a hold of the story, they would have to come up with a fearsome enough name by which they could hide behind. After ten minutes of discussion, they decided on “The Raging Cossacks”, but if anyone were to ask, then they would say that they had formed a “morality patrol” to protect young children from perverts.
Their first victim was talked into meeting Ivan at the Strelka, the local park. The others had changed their minds about hanging around the park and jumping the guy. Even at night, especially during summer, the park tended to have too many people. Andrey was afraid that if someone saw a group of guys gang up on someone, that they would call the police. The purpose of the plan was not to be caught. Andrey decided that Ivan would meet the fag at the park and, since Ivan had his own car, would drive to a more secluded area. At first, they had planned to take the victim to the Perekop district, but decided against that plan since the Perekop was not a very safe area. An area was finally agreed on when Kostya told the group about an empty apartment in a building that his cousin was the manager of and who had told Kostya about it. It was in the Frunzensky District, which was a fairly well-to-do area of the city. So, Ivan would lure the victim to his car, drive to the apartment, and the other guys would met them there.
Mishka Sovich, when he saw the reply to his ad on yandex.ru, was excited but a bit cautious. He had been warned by friends that not every ad on yandex.ru was what it seemed. Olya, a fellow student of Mishka’s at the Demidov, had told him about a story that she had seen in a copy of “Der Spiegel” about an 18-year boy in Moscow who had put an ad on yandex.ru and when he went to meet his “date”, he discovered that it was an undercover cop. The boy had been arrested and given three years in prison for “prostitution”. Olya had known Mishka since high school and, at one time, had been in love with him. When Mishka had finally told Olya that he was gay, at first she didn’t believe him, but, when he had told her that he had a boyfriend, she finally accepted the fact and decided to remain Mishka’s friend (especially after the boyfriend dumped him). When Mishka told Olya about his plans to meet this guy, Olya offered to go with him to make sure that nothing happened to him.
“And what good would it do to have you with me? Unless you know jujitsu, which you don’t, you might scare him off. No! Thank you Olya, but I’ll go to the Strelka alone. If anything goes wrong, I’ll text you.”
“What if it’s a setup? Do you still think that they’ll let you text anyone?”
“Well, what do you suggest?”
“Nothing, since you won’t listen to me. Please, Mishka, just be careful, alright?”
Mishka gave Olya a kiss on her cheek and said, “I’ll be fine.”
Mishka got off of the tram that took him to the Strelka, the city park where he was to meet his date. Both men had agreed to wear a red peony on their shirts as a sign of recognition. Mishka entered the park and slowly walked along the pathway, keeping an eye out for Ivan. He had just passed an ice cream vendor when he noticed a handsome young blond man sitting on a park bench. He was wearing a white tee shirt with a red peony pinned on his chest. Mishka walked over to the bench and smiled at the young man. Ivan saw the flower on Mishka’s shirt and invited him to have a seat next to him on the bench. Inwardly, Ivan was trying to keep from beating up this guy but he had promised the gang that he would not do anything until he got him to the apartment. Ivan glanced over at Mishka, cleared his throat and then said, “Shall we go?”. Mishka nodded and then the two men got up with Ivan leading the way to his car. Mishka didn’t say anything until Ivan unlocked the passenger side door and let him in.
“Well, where shall we go? Do you know a safe place?”
“Yeah, don’t worry about it. I’m house sitting at my uncle’s apartment while he is on a trip to Moscow. We’ll be all alone.”
“Good.” Mishka wanted to give Ivan a friendly kiss on the cheek, but he knew that it might not be safe since they were still visible to the public. He simply fastened his seat belt and sat back, watching the scenery. Ivan took out a cigarette and lit it and then, trying to keep up the act, offered a cigarette to Mishka. Mishka shook his head and declined. “I don’t smoke” he said. Since the traffic wasn’t too bad, they made it to the apartment in Frunzensky within 20 minutes. Ivan parked the car in front of the building and Mishka got out of the car and locked the door.
“Nice place your uncle has. He must do very well.”
“Yeah, he does. Come on, it’s on the third floor; we’ll take the stairs.”
Ivan opened the door to the building and led Mishka to the stairs. The stairway was at the side of the building and, starting on the second floor, had small windows which Mishka could look out of and see into the alleyway. A fading ray of sunlight was shining on the wall, which had been painted a dull yellow color. Mishka was so excited by the thought of meeting such a handsome man as Ivan and was nervous about what he expected would be happening when they got inside.
“This is it! Number 34A.” Mishka smiled, but wasn’t suspicious because Ivan had announced the apartment number so loudly. He didn’t realize that this was the signal that the gang had decided on for letting the others know that “the fish had been caught.” Ivan unlocked the apartment door and indicated to Mishka that he should enter first. As soon as Mishka entered the apartment, an arm grabbed him from behind the door and he was thrown to the floor. Ivan quickly entered and locked the door. When Mishka tried to get up from the floor, he noticed that there were four more guys in the apartment, one who was holding a video-camera in his hands. The largest, and meanest looking guy in the apartment, leaned down, grabbed Mishka by his shirt and pulled him up from the floor.
“So, little sparrow, you’ve come to have some fun, have you? Well, let’s see how much you enjoy this!” Alex said. Alex first spit in Mishka’s face and then punched him. Mishka would have fallen to the floor again except that another guy turned him around until he was facing him and slapped him hard again the side of his head. This thug then pushed Mishka to another guy who looked like he was that guy’s younger brother. At first, the smaller guy was unsure what to do with Mishka, and looked a bit sorry for him. The bigger thug yelled at the kid, “What are you waiting for Ilya, a kiss? Give it to him!” After hearing this, the young kid pulled back his hand into a fist and punched Mishka in the stomach and yelled, “Take that, fag!” The thug holding the video-camera said, “Ivan, come take the camera for a moment. I want to get in on this!” Ivan smirked at Mishka, walked over and took the video-camera from Kostya, aimed it at Mishka, while Kostya went up to him and kicked him in the groin. The other thugs started to laugh loudly, and Andrey shouted, “Yeah, Kostya, hit him where it hurts!” Kostya went back and retrieved the camera from Ivan, who then walked up to Mishka with an evil glint in his eye. “So, little faggot, you thought that I would fuck a piece of shit like you? I wouldn’t fuck your diseased ass even if you paid me!” Having said this, Ivan punched Mishka in the mouth and sent him sailing across the apartment. Mercifully for Mishka, he hit his head against the wall and was knocked out.
When Mishka regained consciousness, he found himself in the front seat of a car. His head was throbbing, but despite the pain, he slowly turned his head to see who was driving the car. When his eyes were finally able to focus, he recognized the driver as his friend, Olya. Knowing that he was now safe, he closed his eyes and passed out. When he regained consciousness the second time, he realized that he was in a hospital bed and Olya was sitting in a chair beside his bed.
“What happened? How did I get here?” he croaked.
“Fortunately for you, I decided to keep an eye on you and followed you. When those thugs dragged your body out of the building and left laughing about what they had done to you, I got out of the car and managed to get you into the car. I then brought you to the hospital, but I told them that you had been beaten and robbed. If the police come to question you, please lie to them! Don’t tell them that you are gay or they won’t do anything to arrest those monsters.”
“Don’t worry, I’m not that stupid.” Mishka told her.
“That’s debatable. If you had listened to me in the first place…”
“Yes, yes, I know Mother.”
Olya almost made another statement, but thought better of it; she was just happy that Mishka was still alive. Three hours later, the police arrived at the hospital, took Mishka’s statement and description of the “muggers” and left. Two days later, Mishka was released from the hospital and Olya drove him back to the university where they resided. Olya had let Mishka in on a secret; when the thugs had dumped Mishka out in the street, Olya had used her cell phone and taken pictures of the gang and the license plate number of the car that had been used to kidnap Mishka (for Olya also considered what had been done to her friend as “kidnapping”). She did not tell the police about the pictures because if the police had been told the truth about why Mishka had been mugged, they wouldn’t take the case seriously. Besides, while Mishka had been in the hospital, Olya had come up with a plan about how to get revenge. She waited a few days more before telling Mishka about the plan, but when he was told about it, Mishka tried to talk her out of it. His reason for this was because he just wanted to forget the whole thing. Olya, however, refused to give up the plan and decided that Mishka needed something to make him agree to it. Olya did the only thing that she could think of to shock Mishka into action; she went on to YouTube. Once she found what she was looking for, she grabbed Mishka by his arm and dragged him to a seat at her computer. She hit “Play”. The video showed Mishka being beaten by five thugs; he was spit on, slapped, and, even though he didn’t remember it, he was spread-eagled naked on a table and raped with a greased up baton. At the end of the video, one of the thugs sneered at the camera and said, “This will be what happens to every faggot in Russia! For the Motherland and the children of Russia! We are the Raging Cossacks!” The screen went black. Olya turned to Mishka and said, “So, do you still think that this will go away? Could you live with yourself if these animals did this to more gays, even kill them? We must act!” Mishka sat there in silence, with tears running down his blue eyes. Olya grabbed him in a hug and tried to comfort him. Mishka pulled back, wiped away his tears, and then, with anger burning in his eyes, said, “Let’s do it!”
The day after the gang had dumped Mishka’s bruised body on the street, they went to a bar to plan their next exploit. “Kostya! Have you managed to snag another fish?”
“Yes, but he insists that we, I mean, Ivan meet him at a nightclub.”
“So, what’s the problem?”
Ivan spoke up. “I don’t want to meet no fag in a club. Firstly, because there would be too many witnesses and, secondly, what if I run into someone who knows me. They might go around saying that I’m a fag!”
“What club does he want to meet at?”
“At the “Nyegodyi”.”
“Hmmm, let me think a minute. OK, here’s what we’ll do. Kostya, you told him to wear a red peony, right?”
“Good. Get a hold of him again and tell him that you’ll meet him outside of the club. Ivan, when you see him, lure him into the car and talk him out of going into the club; tell him that you have vodka back at your place, got it?”
“Yeah, I got it, but don’t you think we should go somewhere else? It might attract the cops if they keep finding beaten up guys in front of the same apartment building.”
“Good idea! So, where do you suggest?”
Ivan thought for a moment and then said, “Why don’t you guys wait for us on the west side of the Jubilee Bridge. I’ll tell him that I know a special hide-a-way.”
“You’re right! There’s a little deserted shack down there. OK, we’ll go with Ivan’s plan.”
Ivan smiled when Andrey acknowledged in front of the others that he had a good idea. The others patted him on the back and said, “Good one, Ivan!” “Yeah, now that’s some smart thinking!” Andrey indicated to the bar maid that they were ready for another round.
While Olya was on the computer looking up the name of the owner of the building that Mishka’s battered body had been dumped in front of, Mishka was calling some friends of his who had been beaten just like he had. The plan involved getting as many friends together and having them meet in Mishka’s dorm room. Olya found the information that she needed and waited for Mishka to finish his phone call.
“Did you get everyone to agree to come?”
“Just about. I couldn’t get a hold of Dmitri, so I left a message.”
“Good. I found out the owner of the building’s name and phone number. I’m going to call him and see if he can tell me who lives in 34A. While I’m doing that, you get the room set up for the meeting. I’ll be back in about two hours.”
“Alright. I’ll see you later.”
Traffic on the Moscow Road was light for a Friday night and so Ivan had enough time to figure out how to get to the nightclub. He had never been there before, but Kostya had gone on line and printed up the directions for him. Ivan thought that punishing fags was cool, but, after leaving the bar earlier in the day, he had tried to get Andrey to pick someone else to be the lure. Andrey told him that since he was the only one in the group who had a car and didn’t look like a fag basher, Ivan had no choice.
“But what about Alex? He’s got a motorcycle!”
“Alex? Are you joking? Alex has a moped and when he sits on it, there’s no room left for anyone else! Plus, he’s not exactly what you would call a “ladies man”.”
“Well, Ilya’s not too ugly, maybe Alex will let him use his moped?”
“It’s true, Ilya’s not as ugly as his brother, but he’s also not the brightest. Now, no more arguing! You’re the bait and remember, it’s not like you have to give him a blow job.”
Ivan finally accepted his fate, but he didn’t have to like it. Maybe the others would get tired of bashing fags and think up something else to do. Like maybe breaking into stores. Ivan almost missed his turnoff for the club while he had been remembering the day’s earlier conversation. He had almost been sideswiped when an old Chayka had suddenly pulled up to him. If he hadn’t already made his turn, he might have followed the old fart driving the relic from the past and beaten the crap out of him, but since nothing happened, he calmed down and checked for the street name that he needed. Ten minutes later, he found the club and saw his mark. The guy looked like he was around 18 years old, with slicked brown hair and glasses. Ivan pulled up beside him, got out of the car, and, putting on his most innocent face, talked him into the car. The guy got in and said, “Hi! I’m Dmitri. Aren’t we going in to the club?” Ivan said, “No, I don’t feel like it, but I know a place that we can go for some privacy. Is that OK with you?” Dmitri stuttered and said, “Sure, I guess so.” “And the fish is caught!,” Ivan said to himself. He pulled out of the club’s parking lot and headed for the bridge.
During the drive, Dmitri would occasionally try to start up a conversation with Ivan, but Ivan would just grunt his reply. Dmitri started to get nervous, but eventually Ivan looked at him and said, “Don’t worry, we’ll be there soon.” He then took something out of his jacket pocket and handed it over to Dmitri. Dmitri looked and saw a blue pill. “I don’t really do drugs,” he told Ivan, but Ivan told him that it would help him to relax. He put his right hand behind the driver’s seat and brought up a bottled water. “Here, you can wash it down with this.” Dmitri took the bottle of water, opened it, took a sip, and looking over at Ivan, trying to decide if this guy was safe or not, Dmitri finally swallowed the pill. Ivan gave Dmitri a small smile and said, “We’re almost there.” Ivan took the off ramp and headed towards the Jubilee Bridge. Dmitri was looking outside of the car window, trying to keep his eyes open. Before he realized it, Ivan was parking the car in a lot and shaking him on the shoulder. “Come on, let’s go.” Dmitri saw that there was a small ramshackle hut at the base of one of the bridge’s pillars. Dmitri unfastened the seat belt, and, after a couple of clumsy attempts, managed to get the car door open. When he felt the cool breeze hitting his face, Dmitri started to feel as if he had just gotten out of bed. Ivan was about ten feet ahead of him, urging him on. After what seemed like hours to Dmitri, they arrived at the hut’s door. “You wait here a moment; I’ll go in and turn on the kerosene lamp since there’s no electricity in this place. Ivan went in while Dmitri leaned against the side of the building. A dim light broke through the partially opened door and Ivan took Dmitri’s hand and led him in. This would be the last thing that he would remember.
The next morning while Mishka was getting dressed, the radio announcer read a story about a young man who was found beaten near the Jubilee Bridge. When he heard the name “Dmitri Shorynov”, he stopped what he was doing and turned the radio up. The announcer said that the man had been taken to the hospital with a black eye, several teeth missing, and bruises on his stomach, arms, and legs. The police believed that he was a victim of gang violence. Mishka quickly got on his cell phone and called Olya.
“Olya! Have you heard the news?”
“Yes. I also went and got a newspaper; there’s a picture of where Mitya was found. We should go visit him at the hospital. Maybe he can tell us whether he was beaten up by the same thugs as you were.”
“Alright! I’ll meet you downstairs in 20 minutes.” Mishka hung up his phone, went to his closet to pick out some clothes, and got dressed. By the time that Mishka got outside of the dorm, Olya was waiting for him. He ran over and got into the car. “Do you know which hospital he’s at?” Mishka asked. “Yes.” was all that Olya said and with her hands firmly on the steering wheel, she drove to the hospital without saying another word.
When they arrived at the hospital, Olya went up to the Admissions desk and asked the nurse if she and her friend could visit Dmitri. The woman, at first, ignored them, but when Olya raised her voice, the nurse scowled at Olya and Mishka, but finally told them that she would check with the doctor. When the nurse returned, she told them what room Dmitri was in and that they could only visit for ten minutes. Mishka and Olya went over and took the elevator to the third floor and, with some help from an intern, was directed to Dmitri’s room. They entered the nauseating green room and found Dmitri in a bed near the window.
“Mitya, why are you lolling about? Don’t you have anything better to do?” Mishka jokingly said as he stood by Dmitri’s bedside. Mishka felt that he had to joke with Dmitri because he did not want his friend see him crying.
“Hi, guys. Thanks for coming.” Dmitri said in a low voice. He tried to sit up in the bed so that there was some room for his friends to sit down, but he had trouble doing so due to one of his arms being in a cast. Olya gently pushed him back down on the bed and told him that she and Mishka would stand. There was an uncomfortable quiet in the room and so Olya started the conversation.
“Mitya, do you remember who did this to you?”
Dmitri shook his head, but looked at Olya with such sad eyes as if to say that he just wanted to forget the whole thing. Olya, however, was determined to get him to speak. She took out her cellphone from her purse, punched a couple buttons, then turned the phone’s screen to Dmitri’s face.
“Is this one of the thugs that did this to you?” she asked.
Dmitri said that he couldn’t be sure because his glasses had been broken. Olya put the phone closer to his face and said, “Is this one of them?” When Dmitri looked at the screen, he shuddered then said, “He’s the guy that picked me up.” Olya then showed Dmitri the pictures of the other thugs and Dmitri confirmed that they had all taken part in his humiliation. Tears started to fall from his eyes and Mishka put a hand on Dmitri’s shoulder as a way of comforting him. “Don’t be upset, Mitya! Olya and I have a plan to get even with these monsters.” “You do? What can a girl and a fag do against hoodlums like those?” “Don’t worry, Mitya. You just heal and get out of this dump. Call me when the doctor says you can go home, okay?” “Okay.” At that moment, a nurse came to Dmitri’s bed with a little paper cup with some pain-killers and a glass of water. The nurse told them that they would have to leave so that Dmitri could get some rest, so they said their good-byes and left. When they got back into Olya’s car, Mishka said, “we’ll set it up for tomorrow night.” Olya agreed and started her car.
The Raging Cossacks were all sitting outside the apartment drinking some beers. They were a bit rowdy, but they were also sober enough to know better than to make plans for their next bashing while there were in public. Although most residents of the city tended to try to avoid being noticed by thugs, there was the occasional old “Stalinist” who would think nothing about reporting hooligans to the authorities.
“Andrey, what do you think we should do tonight?” Kostya said.
“Have you found anything “interesting” on your computer?”
“Sort of, although it doesn’t relate to our “business”.”
“Well, what is it?”
“I found an invitation to a party. There are going to be a lot of beautiful girls there.”
“Any girl to you is a beautiful girl, Kostya. Besides what makes this party so special?”
“Well, it’s being set up by a group calling themselves the “Girls for a Pure Russia”. The invitation says that all young pure Russian men are invited.”
“Sounds good. When does it start and where?”
“At 20:00 hours tonight at the Volga Tower.”
“The Volga Tower? Why would they have a party there?”
“I guess since it’s out of the way and the cops don’t go in that area much.”
“Hmmm. Well, what do you say boys? Should the Cossacks go meet these pure Russian maidens?”
The rest of the group raised their beer bottles and cheered. A party was what they felt that they deserved since they had done service for the Motherland by “cleansing” the Western-tainted filth which was polluting their country. Andrey told them all to go home and make themselves presentable and they would all meet back there at 19:30 hours and go meet these real Russian beauties.
Two hours later, all five of the Cossacks were standing in front of the apartment building, jostling each other in trying to get into Ivan’s car. Andrey, of course, took the front passenger seat, while Ivan drove. In the back seat were Alex, Boris, Ilya, and Kostya. They were talking about what they could expect at the party and what kind of girls they hoped would be at the party. Each of them brought a bottle of vodka for the party in the hope that the girls at the party, despite the group’s name, would be willing to take things further.
When the gang arrived at the Volga Tower, they saw several cars parked in a nearby lot. The outside of the Tower was decorated with lights which displayed the colors of the Russian flag. They heard music coming from the Tower. Before they went into the party, they had to show ID to a woman at the front door, who then allowed them entry. Inside the room, the gang saw a stobe light shining off of a crystal ball, a deejay in the corner and, in another corner, a bar. There were also about a dozen girls either dancing or standing by the bar. The gang was so amazed at the decorations, and the girls, that for a brief moment they did not know where to look. One of the girls quit dancing and walked up to the five men.
“Welcome, guys! We are so happy that you all came.”
Andrey, as the leader of the gang, smiled at the girl and asked her if it would be alright if they left their bottles at the bar. The girl said that it would be fine and that, once that was done, she would introduce them to the other girls. Once the bottles of vodka had been put under the bar, the girl, who introduced herself as Olya, took Andrey by the hand and led him, and the rest of the gang, over near a group of girls who had quit dancing. Olya signaled the deejay to lower the sound of the music and started to introduce the girls.
“This is Sasha, Marina, Raisa, and Marya. The girl at the bar is Tania and, let me see, oh yes, we also have Anya, Zinya, and Dasha. We are the main committee members of the “Girls for a Pure Russia”. There are a few other girls who I am not familiar with yet. Girls, these gentlemen are…”
“Ah, allow me. I am Andrey, this is Ivan, Kolya, Boris, Alex, and Ilya.”
“Excellent! Well, ladies, shall we get this party going?” Olya said out loud and was greeted by cheers. The music was turned up once again and each of the gang found a girl to dance with. By the third song, the gang were feeling warm and so they asked their dance partners if they would like a drink. The girls, some who were fanning themselves with their hands, were more than eager to have a drink. The guys took their partners by their hands and led them over to the bar. Andrey ordered for everyone and soon there were twelve glasses of vodka standing on the bar. Andrey gave Olya a questioning look when he noticed that six of the glasses were blue and six of them were red. Olya picked up one of the red glasses, smiled at Andrey, and said in an innocent voice, “the blue ones are for the guys, while the red ones are for the girls. In honor of our glorious flag.” Andrey smiled back, accepted her explanation and tossed back his drink. Everyone let out a whoop, laughed, and slammed their glasses on the bar. Ilya, who was a light weight when it came to drinking, started to stagger away from the bar and the other guys started laughing at him. Boris, his brother, said, “he may be Ilya, but he’s no Muromets!” The other guys thought that this statement was the funniest thing that they had heard and laughed out loud. One of the girls, Raisa, suggested another drink which the guys quickly agreed to. Once again they took up their glasses, tossed their drinks back and slammed the glasses on the bar. Olya then shouted out, “C’mon! Let’s dance!” The guys agreed, except Ilya, who waved his partner away for a moment. Instead of going back to dance, he told his partner that he was going outside for a bit of fresh air. Marya, his partner, was sympathetic and offered to go outside with him. As they were leaving, Marya gave a signal to Olya to let her know where she was going. Olya smiled, then nodded, and turned back to speak with another girl.
Ilya stumbled out of the Tower and Marya held him up so that he wouldn’t fall. Marya explained to the girl at the door that they needed some air. The girl slyly smiled and gave Marya a small nod. There was a slight breeze coming off of the river and the couple walked over to a small stone wall and sat down. Ilya tried to apologize to Marya for his weak constitution, but she assured him that everything was fine. Ilya fumbled in his shirt pocket and pulled out a pack of Marlboros and offered one to Marya. When Marya declined, he took out a cigarette for himself and lit it. Ilya stuttered, trying to think of something else to say to this pretty girl, but when she put her hand on his knee to calm him down, Ilya noticed something odd. There was a half moon shining in the sky and its light revealed a hand which did not look at all like a woman’s hand. Ilya looked at Marya, who was grinning at his confused face, and before he could say a word, Marya punched him in the face so hard that he fell off of the wall and blacked out. Marya got off of the wall, picked up Ilya’s feet and dragged him away.
The rest of the gang didn’t notice that Ilya had left and kept on dancing. Suddenly, the music stopped and Olya got on the dais and said, “Let us now have a toast for Mother Russia!” The bartender and a couple of the other girls walked among the group with glasses on trays. Each of the gang took a blue glass, while the women took a red glass, and the deejay started playing the National Anthem. When the song was over, everyone shouted, “To a pure Russia!” and tossed back their drinks. Two minutes after finishing their drinks, the five remaining gang members fell to the floor. Olya said, “Alright, girls, you know what to do!” The girls who had not been introduced to the gang members came forward and picked up the drugged out gang members and carried them outside of the Tower and up some side steps to the Tower’s second floor. Once all of the unconscious thugs had been hauled up to the second floor of the tower, they were laid on two filthy mattresses. Mishka, who had not been at the party because he was afraid that one of the thugs might recognize him, was holding a video camera in his hand. Olya went through the thugs’ pants pockets and found their ID cards and handed them to Sasha, who took them and sat at a small table and started to write something on a sheet of paper. Olya looked at the other girls and said, “It’s showtime!” Six of the girls walked up to one each of the thugs, and waited for further directions.
“Mishka, are you ready?”
“Yes. I’m ready!”
Mishka started the video camera and Olya, in order to protect her identity and as a slap in the face of the government, faced the camera wearing a mask of Putin. She began her speech,
“People of Russia! These thugs ask you to believe that they are true Russian patriots by claiming the name of “The Raging Cossacks” and ganging up on innocent Russian gay men, beating them, raping them, spitting on them, and while all of this was going on, boastfully videotaped their crimes. Putin falsely claims that homosexuals in Russia are free while promoting laws which stigmatize them as child abusers. These are all lies that a corrupt church, which has been given too much power, wants you all to believe. We will now expose these ignorant thugs for who they are. We will also change the face of hatred and fear into the face of love.” While Olya had been speaking, the girls set down small bags at the heads of the thugs. Mishka kept the video camera steady and followed Olya as she walked up to Andrey’s unconscious body. “This is the leader of these disgraces to Russia, Andrey Malkin, who resides at 324-A Moskovsky Street. The next thug is Kolya Palkin, the sycophant of the group, who lives at 362 Rostov Prospekt. Next is Ivan Shchedrin of 375 Rostov Prospekt; Boris Akulich, of 66 Nervsky Ugol; and the brothers, Alex and Ilya Zhabin of 187 Krasny Ulitsa.” Olya then turned to the girls and said, “Alright, girls, let’s do it!” With that the six girls opened their bags and took out lipstick, mascara, eyeliner, and blush. Each girl took her time applying the makeup to the thugs. When they had finished making up the thugs’ faces, they took out a wig from each bag, applied a strong glue to them and put the wigs on the thugs’ heads. Olya then said, “Step two, girls!” Step two involved each girl undressing their subject. When all six of the men were naked, they arranged them in a daisy chain. When that was completed, Olya walked over to Mishka and took the video camera out of his hands. She looked at her friend’s face and said, “Now, it is your turn to decide what to do to them. It is your right.” Mishka walked over to the thugs, unzipped his pants, and proceeded to urinate on each and every one of them. This did not cause the thugs to come around, and it gave Mishka great pleasure. He then walked back to Olya and said, “Let’s get out of here.” With this said, all of the girls went to a corner of the tower where there were small suitcases laying. Each girl took their suitcase, opened them, and proceeded to change their clothes and remove their wigs. Yes, each of the “girls” were, in reality, the best drag queens in town. They were so good that six horny thugs didn’t even catch on to the ruse. When the “girls” had all changed, they walked out of the tower and got into their cars and left. Olya and Mishka were the last ones to leave the tower. As they were walking to Olya’s car, Mishka asked, “It’s a bit nippy. Shouldn’t we have covered them up with coats?” Olya stared at him and said, “What the hell for?” Mishka didn’t reply and got into the car.
Later that day, Mishka and Olya went to visit Dmitri in the hospital. Dmitri gave them a small, sad smile when he saw them but when Mishka told him what he and Olya had done, Dmitri was amazed. He almost didn’t believe them until they opened up the laptop and showed him the video on YouTube.
“You’ve already got 600,000 hits in three hours? That’s amazing!” Dmitri said.
“We know that this can’t take all of your pain away, but it might help.”
“Are you kidding? If I had known what you were planning, I would have hobbled all the way to the Volga Tower!”
“This may be a small protest, but it’s one of the few ways that we all have of fighting back.”
“Yes, we must always watch out for each other, because the authorities sure don’t give a damn.” Olya said. By the time that Mishka and Olya had left, Dmitri felt his body and soul healing and decided that he would help his country to heal itself. He laid his head back on the pillow, smiling and crying at the same time.
Dedicated to Kiril Maryin and the LGBT Community in Russia