Volunteer Story #1. Smirnoff Ice

The cab pulled up to the nondescript building that’s going to be my home and office for the next two weeks. I flipped him a sawbuck and he was off like the rabbit at a greyhound race. I let myself in. A fine coat of dust had settled on all the furniture like the early mist coming in off the Frisco Bay.

I dropped into a chair in the living room, put down my briefcase, keeping my Borsalino on, pulling it down a bit lower. The place gave me the creeps so I hid under its brim. Reaching into my trench coat I pulled out my Pall Malls and sparked one up. Something wasn’t right. I heard the soft, padding sound of bare feet approaching the room. We all had to be barefoot here but sight unseen, the footsteps I was hearing was clamouring for heels.

She walked into the room with a book and stack of papers in her hand and found her way to what apparently was her favourite seat. She ignored my presence as if I was nothing more than a left over melon rind sitting in a plate. She was striking, even in the half light with a poise that belonged in a magazine more than an orphanage. I cleared my throat conspicuously to draw her attention. Her head turned from rear view to profile. I zeroed in on her. “So, what’s a classy dame like you doing in a joint like this?” “I’ m here to help the children” in a voice that read MIG-15 all over it. “You’ve come a long way from Russia to look after some orphans”. “I live in London with my American boyfriend. We are translators”. The story didn’t wash from square one.

For purposes of anonymity her name will be Polina. That is how she introduced herself to me, which means her name is anything but. Svetlana, Anastasia, heck even Anna Karenena- dealers choice. Polina had a refined, and classical look to her. Skin was a mix of porcelain and alabaster, free of any identifiable marks. While beautiful, she has no outstanding feature that would be considered glamorous, except for a sculpted jaw line that created a classic elegance. For all I knew she was a sculpture in an earlier life. Her peepers were the same colour as mine – a non-definable hazel. Difference being my set exuded warmth.

To say that this tomato sought her privacy would be damning with faint appraise. She could create her own space in a crowded elevator and woe to the person attempting to cross into it. Turns out that there’s more to the husband story. Jewish dude, family from the middle-east, based offshore for easy transfer of roubles. Is he a hapless dupe in this sordid mess or a fellow traveller? Twenty first century version of Alger Hiss? She claimed to be three quarters Jewish herself. The only Jewesses I’ve ever scoped out with features like those had dropped a hundred grand at their favourite Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, but this canary had none of the telltale signs of a retrofit. This one was the real deal.

During the occasional time that the Czarina deigned to communicate with me, I managed to pull out that her hobby was photography. She also held just the right amount of disdain for what Mother Russia has turned into since perestroika yet always seemed to be wearing something red.

The barefooted Contessa sold the goods better than a used car salesman in an ill fitting, plaid sports jacket. I kept shuffling the cards in my head and couldn’t draw a winner. Something didn’t add up. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. We had a spy within our midst. Suddenly the lights went on. Translator, photographer, American Husband, recent election in Ghana. But what was her angle? What do the Russians want here? I kept pulling the handle of the one armed bandit housed in my grey matter. KACHING!!! Three cherries baby!

The caper was a familiar one to me. An old chestnut stored away in drawer number 1975, under McGill, Subfolder Political Science- International Relations; File -The Geopolitical Imperative; Author – Professor Nayar. I chastised myself for taking so long to come up with the goods. (Note to self -Time to start working on those Sudokus).

Here’s the scoop. Since time immemorial the Ruskies have been seeking the warm water port. Invasion after invasion has left them cold, high and dry in the winter season. Having gone all in and lost at the tables against Reagan in the eighties, the dream of world domination swirled it’s way down the toilet like a cheap vodka-induced puke. Meanwhile their commie brothers to the east, the notorious Yellow Peril, have picked up the dice and are tossing sevens all the way to the bank. Realizing that the jig is up, Putin and his KGB flunkies, after trying but failing to keep their own house in order (witness Chechnya, Gazprom, Pussy Riot, etc.), are ready to assume their regular featured role as janitor/heavy. They are moving into the basement apartment blocks owned by the Chinese, collecting the rent and keeping the place broom swept clean. No need for their former tools, the hammer and sickle were hocked a long time ago.

So the invading hordes coming from the east have set up the following deal. They buy the resources to feed their exponentially expanding hunger for growth while the Russians do the destabilizing grunt work. The Great Bear’s reward? Year round access to shipping. Check out the plan. Ghana has Accra, a warm water Atlantic Ocean port. As of 2007 they’ve become The Beverly Hillbillies with bubbling crude coming up from the ground under the ocean offshore. China eventually picks up both the black and yellow gold that this joint is famous for. Now we start to trace our way backwards. Mali has been destabilized by Muslim forces from the north. Where do you think they picked up the weaponry, Wal Mart? You can bet your brother’s Kalashnikov that ain’t the case. Meanwhile, Back in the USSR, Moscow’s AK-47 machine is working overtime. Let the Muslims subjugate the local Christians and Animists and then kill each other off. Another domino drops. Follow the destabilizing chain up the continent through Sudan, Libya, Egypt et al.

If you’re looking for more proof as to their MO, check out Russia’s position on Syria. Other than self interest, what is preventing their condemnation of Assad the Butcher Jr.? Another link toward the Motherland. Now that Turkey’s going legit trying to set themselves as heir apparent to top spot in the region waiting for Iran to complete its self-induced implosion, no way will they cut the boys with the red star on their sable caps any slack. So the Bolsheviks will grab Syria and burrow their way through the Kurds and the ‘stans and presto Mission Impossible completed and Russo-Sino domination of the world is in the books.

“So you’re savvy as to why I have to do this, Polina?” I ask, reaching into my pocket for my snub nose 9mm Glock. “I get it, it’s purely business”, she is demure, like a true professional, right to the end. “Another time, another place…” The pistol pops twice, I pick up my smokes from the table and head out onto the dark and dusty street looking for a cab, hating this racket more each day.


  • Terry
    Posted at 15:32h, 26 December Reply

    OK, so this started off nicely. What I thought was headed towards 51 Shades of Grey, ended all anti NRA-ish, bashing countries with any of those letters or guns, a final desperate attempt at resurrecting Ellie-May followed by a sad ending. Where are the children I ask??? PS – Since posting, prices have rolled back at Wal-Mart. Keep up the good work.

  • Cookieman
    Posted at 12:00h, 27 December Reply

    And to think I knew you when you had a lousy basement office taking money from both sides of an amorous couple having each other followed. You've come a long way, at least distance-wise if not in your career.

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