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THE FOUR PARTNERS

A Black Comedy

Dmitrii Emets

Translated from Russian

by

Jane H. Buckingham

©Jane H. Buckingham 2011 jhbuckingham@yahoo.ca http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3463868.Dmitrii_Aleksandrovich_Emets

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The three of them were sitting at the mahogany table – Barskikh, Syrgorian, and Ezhov, better known by the nicknames Barin, Syr, and Ezh1 – co-owners of MedikumTs, the biggest pharmaceutical company in the region. Besides medicines, they were engaged in the transportation and purification of something else, which takes up less space than medicine but is worth much more. This side of their activity, it goes without saying, was not advertised, and those who knew about it preferred to keep mum. No one with too loose a tongue lives to a ripe old age. Usually four people sat at this table together, but now the second chair from the end was empty. This was the chair of Shish2 – Shishov – the fourth co-owner of the company. Suddenly the office door creaked and opened slowly. The men were on guard. A grey cat leisurely looked in from the hallway and, after turning its head, dived under the armchair. “Pest!” Barskikh threw an ashtray at the cat. Normally this emaciated, longarmed man, dressed brightly and tastelessly like a parrot, kept himself in control, but now had lost his temper. Possibly, this happened because his passion for his own goods has long since overgrown the usual attachment. “How often have they been told not to let in this nasty beast! Where’s the secretary?” he started to yell nervously. “I let her go,” said Ezh. This was a huge, clean-shaven husky fellow with a fat massive neck with the folds crawling to the collar. “Off with you! This creep scared me! I’ll wring its neck!” raged Barskikh. “Cool it, Barin!” Syrgorian ordered with a soft Armenian accent. “Ezh, describe what you saw.” Ezh appeared calm. Only his fingers, with which he was turning the little wheel of the lighter, trembled slightly. “They shot down Shish before my eyes. We just said goodbye and he sat down in his car. Drove about thirty metres, got up to an intersection, and here some fellow shot him several times through the side window, then immediately dived into a back alley.” “Did you make out this fellow?” “No. Too far.” Syr got up and paced around the office. Small, pot-bellied, he nevertheless gave the impression of an important and dangerous person, one better not to get involved with. “No doubt, they ordered a hit on Shish, but who could have?” he asked. Ezh finally lit a cigarette. “Anybody,” he said. “Shish was no angel. We all know that he was a considerable bastard. A whole bunch of people dreamt of sending him to the other world. And will form a line to spit on his grave.” “Perhaps competitors?” asked Barin. “We have no competitors,” Syr said confidently. “In any case not the kind that could immediately jump on our chair.” “Redistribution?” “Ruled out. It was no shakedown of the ‘family’. They’ll send guys to protect, only this’ll help diddly squat,” said Ezh. Syr, walking around the office, suddenly stopped with his belly hanging over his partner. Their heads almost touched. “Listen! No one gains anything with a new war. Now’s not that situation. Only one of us could put a hit on Shish,” he said with authority. “What do you want to say? That it was me?” Ezh turning purple crushed the cigarette
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The Russian words barin is a member of the old Russian gentry, syr is cheese, and ezh is a hedgehog. The Russian word shish has multiple meanings: the pointy tip of something, zilch, or a rude hand gesture. ©Jane H. Buckingham 2011 jhbuckingham@yahoo.ca http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3463868.Dmitrii_Aleksandrovich_Emets
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pack in his hand. “What are you talking about, Syr? What the devil?” The Armenian kept his gaze. “Think for yourself! With the death of one of us, the shares of the others increase proportionally. Before Shish’s death, each had twenty-five percent, now it’s already thirty-three. Remove one more, it’ll be fifty. And the last one standing will take control of everything.” “And you think the one who disposed of Shish will want to get rid of the rest?” asked Ezh. “Most likely yes. He goes all the way. You yourself know, redistribution never ends with one corpse.” “And if it’s the Mob squad?” Ezh surmised. “Ne-ah. The ‘family’ would know about it. It’s one of us. You, or you… or me,” said Syr, shifting a soft but fixed gaze from one partner to the other. The silent Barin fidgeted uneasily, which did not escape his partners. “Can one of us really turn out to be such a bastard?” asked Ezh, sullenly looking at him. “It’s not me! Why are you staring at me?” Barin began to yell. “You could also order it! He stole your dame!” “To hell with the dame!” Ezh said quietly. “He intended to get you out of the business altogether. Shish repeatedly said that you leave us holding the bag…” “It’s true,” agreed Syr. “Shish always considered you a nutcase. It all began when cocaine started disappearing from the cache.” “Shish was a dumbass if he thought it’s me. Why tie me to this nickel and dime?” Barin stated in irritation. He knew what he was talking about. When it is your third year on heroin, cocaine no longer measures up. “You or not you, what’s the difference,” Ezh shrugged his shoulders. “You lose control of yourself.” “That I lose control! Oh, you jerk!” Barin yelled, rushing at Ezh. Ezh with a well-calculated hit in the chin knocked him off his feet. Barin sat down on the floor. He sat motionless for several seconds, anxiously touching his jaw. Then, roaring with rage, he pulled out a pistol, but Syr, standing nearby, kicked it out of his hand. Jumping up, Barin quickly backed to the window. Blood was flowing from a corner of his mouth. Syrgorian leaned down and picked up the pistol.“I swear to you, Syr, it’s not me!” Barin yelled. When his back appeared by the window, a shot rang out. The bullet, piercing the glass, entered the back of Barin’s head. The body slipped down to the carpet. Ezh and Syr dropped down onto the floor and pressed against the wall. They did not approach Barin, it was so clear that he could no longer be helped. “It’s not you?” Ezh asked nervously. “Didn’t you see that the shot came from the window? Well, it went there, not into you!” Syr shouted hysterically, pushing away the cat rubbing against his leg. There was a screeching of tires and, carefully looking through the blinds, Syr saw a white 4-door sedan racing away. The partners stood up hesitantly, continuing to stay away from the window. “Damn, I can’t believe my eyes! They took him out! So, it isn’t one of us!” said Ezh, looking with horror at the corpse. Then he looked up at Syr and stared with conceived suspicion at him. “Don’t look at me. He could also be the client,” Syr said softly. “You can’t make out through the blinds. The killer could also have messed up: had to shoot into the back of the head.” “You mean the killer blew it?” Ezh
©Jane H. Buckingham 2011 jhbuckingham@yahoo.ca http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3463868.Dmitrii_Aleksandrovich_Emets

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asked with relief and his tensed muscles went a bit limp. “Yes, he blew it,” Syr said softly and, having jerked up his hand, fired twice at his partner. Ezh fell like a sack onto the floor. He died instantly, not even had time to be frightened. That surprised expression still remained on his face. After wiping clean the handle of the pistol, Syr put it in Barin’s cooling hand. He moved unhurriedly and matter-of-factly. “Let’s take the process of elimination. Barin’s dead. That left the two of us. I wasn’t the client. It means, Ezh ordered everything,” he said to himself. After looking anxiously at the two stretched-out bodies lying on the floor, Syr thought that now it would be best for him to hide before the police arrive. There was nobody in the office, no one saw him shooting Ezh. The Armenian community would provide him with an alibi, and lawyers and money would take care of the rest. Although he planned nothing, now he is the sole owner of a successful business bringing in huge profits. Possibly, the “family” would be displeased, but he knows how to calm it. Money stops all questions, and a lot of money removes the possibility of the emergence of questions. Having closed up the office, Syr went down the stairs and, glad that he parked on the other side of the street, made his way to his car. The minute he put the key into the ignition and turned it, there was a powerful explosion… A shorthaired grey cat watched the explosion from the window, shattered by the blast, of the deserted office. After ascertaining that no one left the car, the cat jumped up onto the table. Meowing, it turned on the computer and, deftly hitting the keys with its paw, it went onto the net. After keying in a certain email address, the cat sent a short message: Dear Katya! Grandma got there normally. Having made sure that the message was sent, the cat jumped down from the table. On reaching the cache in the wooden panelling of the office, the cat skilfully opened it, and with delight drew into its nostrils cocaine from a half-kilo bag ripped open with its claws. Soon hot happy waves swept over the cat… After slamming shut the cache, it hung onto the curtain meowing, and then, having picked its way through the broken window, jumped into the courtyard. The cat was satisfied. Now it is the owner of everything, the numbers of the accounts and records are known only to it. It found out about them long ago, being in the office when the owners brought them in. Fortunately, no one pays attention to cats. Now is the end to insults and kicks! Enough of narcotics and beautiful cats, enough of everything, the main thing is to find a way to keep skilfully in the background. Crossing the street, the doped-up animal did not notice as a battered pickup stopped beside it. Two fellows got out of it quickly. One of them deftly dropped a net over the cat and, after opening slightly the iron side, threw it in with the other similar poor devils. “See how it howls! Never saw one howl so!” his workmate said in amazement. “Howl or not now. All the same it’ll be finished off,” said the first, sitting down at the wheel. The vehicle took off.
©Jane H. Buckingham 2011 jhbuckingham@yahoo.ca http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3463868.Dmitrii_Aleksandrovich_Emets