Editor: Read Chapter XXX here.
All was quiet at the Ghosh’s Chystye Prudy apartment until the phone rang. Indradeep’s wife answered.
‘My name is Dmitri Linikov. May I speak to your husband Commodore Indradeep Ghosh please?’
‘How did he know it’s me?’ Indradeep’s wife was irritated.
Indradeep wanted to say it was obvious, but then he kept quiet and took the receiver instead.
‘Hello Dmitri, my dear friend. How are you doing?’
‘Very well, Indradeep. And you?’
‘All well Dmitri.’ Indradeep decided not to prolong the niceties. He had been about to go to the toilet for a pee when the phone rang and he was tempted to tell Dmitri that he would call him back. However, Dmitri came to the point.
‘My friend, has your government managed to track down the men in those photos?’
‘Not yet, no. Do you have any further information for me, now that the trouble has started afresh? I assume you heard about yesterday’s attack.’
‘Yes, of course. And I do have something for you, which may be useful. This one has come from a different source, the SVR. Can we meet for a drink somewhere right away?’
‘I’m so sorry Dmitri. I don’t have the energy for a drinking session. Why don’t you come home? We can chat here without anyone hearing us.’
‘Where do you stay?’ Dmitri asked and Indradeep was tempted to say, don’t be silly. Of course, you know where I live. Instead, he gave his address and directions to get there, before rushing off to the loo.
When Indradeep came out of the toilet, his wife asked, ‘Will he stay for long?’
‘I don’t know. He said he’ll be here in fifteen minutes.’
Indradeep looked at the clock and saw that it was almost twelve-thirty. He turned around to see his wife give him the look that countless wives have given to their thoughtless husbands who invited someone home, close to meal time. They did have a domestic help who worked for three hours a day, every weekday and on Saturdays, but still, this was not like Delhi where an army of servants ensured that no upper middle-class household would be seriously inconvenienced by the sudden appearance of a guest for lunch.
Dmitri rang the bell in ten minutes, instead of the promised fifteen. Once inside, he politely declined the offer of a drink, which irritated Indradeep. Does he think I’m going to spike his drink, he wondered?
‘My friend, the photos I gave you, it had come from the GRU, who had got it from the FSB. Now, the SVR has come up with a different set of goods. They have a set of photos which they claim are the originals. They say the ones which came via the GRU were tampered with. They…’
‘What the hell! Didn’t we pay good money for doctored photos?’
‘My friend, in this business, sometimes you get cheated. We did not cheat you. It is part of the game.’
‘Go on then,’ Indradeep said as he grimly wondered how he would explain the doctored photos to the Director General.
‘So, the SVR has photos, the real ones they say and a GPS Tracker. Apparently, Yaroslav gifted a knife which can go through airport detectors, to the leader of the men he trained. This knife has a GPS chip embedded inside. SVR has the tracker for that chip. With that, getting hold of those men will be a piece of cake.’
‘How much do you want for these?’
Dmitri chuckled. ‘Well, if you were to place an order for those Cossack 88s, you wouldn’t have to pay us anything.’
‘No, my friend, that will take some time. Name your price and I expect a discount on account of the earlier photos. We paid you a million dollars for that one.’
‘Indradeep, my friend, I am a trader. I sell you goods in good faith and on an “as is” basis. Sometimes the goods turn out to be bad. I am not responsible. I cannot…’
‘Dmitri, let’s not bicker over this. How much do you want for this?’
‘Two million dollars.’
Indradeep looked at him, shocked.
‘You got to be kidding! I was hoping you would say half a million since we have already paid a million for those useless photos.’
Dmitri shrugged in a nonchalant manner.
‘All of that went to the GRU. And this will entirely go to the SVR. We are not doing this to make a profit. We are doing this as a favour to you, so that you may buy those Cossack 88s from us.’
‘Let me speak to my people, Dmitri. I will let you know soon, okay?’
Featured Image (Cover): Nisha Joseph
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