Editor: Read Chapter XXVI here.
Yaroslav was in a terrible mood ever since he heard that Indian security forces had killed a large group of men who had been on their way to attack another building. Sergei was yet to effect the sale of the authentic photos and the GPS Tracker and it looked as if there wouldn’t be a market for those.
‘Surely, someone would want to see how they looked even if they are dead?’, he had hopefully asked Sergei whose only reply was that the sale items had reached the SVR a few days before the killings and they would have to wait to hear from them.
Yaroslav’s wife and son bore the brunt of his anger which flared up from time to time. However, most of the time he was loving and affectionate and he did almost all the house work since his wife was working overtime. He made a couple of visits to various agents to check for assignments similar to the one he had executed in India, but he was told that at present there was a dearth of opportunities for mercenaries in the world.
‘You could do a regular job,’ his wife gently suggested one day. ‘Instead of fighting others’ wars.’
‘What could I do?’ Yaroslav asked.
‘Drive a taxi?’
‘What! You got to be kidding!’ And that was it.
A day later Sergei called him one evening and asked him to come over. Someone had come to meet him, he was told. Yaroslav excitedly put on his great coat and went out immediately, leaving his son alone in the house. He found an expensive car parked by the road, outside Sergei’s flat. It had to be someone from SVR, Yaroslav reasoned.
He turned out to be wrong. The young man waiting to talk to him was the local mafia boss’s brother and he did not have much good news for Yaroslav.
‘Comrade, we need that knife back,’ he said, without much preamble.
‘It must be with the Indian police now.’
‘Maybe, but it’s expensive and we want it back.’
‘How much?’ Yaroslav asked, even as he dreaded the reply.
‘Ten thousand.’ There was deathly silence. When Sergei had got him the knife before he went to India, he had not even considered the possibility that he wouldn’t be able to sell the GPS Tracker when he returned.
‘Can I pay in installments?’ he asked.
‘We need the money within a month.’
‘Sergei, is there no hope of the SVR selling the photos to the Indians?’
‘I doubt it my friend.’
The young man left, and Sergei poured him a large glass of vodka.
‘Don’t worry, I will lend you the money. You can pay me back slowly.’
Yaroslav quickly drank up and left, without saying a word. As he walked home despondently through the dark streets wrapped up in his thoughts, an idea came to his head. He only had to take a small detour to make it work. The deviation took him to a large bridge across the mighty Volga.
He climbed the parapet and looked down to see the fast-flowing river below him. He took off his coat and dropped it behind him and regretted it immediately. He was a decent swimmer and without the overcoat to impede his movements, there was a very good chance that he would survive. He climbed down, feeling very foolish. He picked up his coat, brushed the dirt off before putting it on and was about to climb the parapet once again when he changed his mind. He had survived Afghanistan. He would survive this too. If not for him, at least for his teenage son, who had his whole life ahead of him. He would accept Sergei’s offer to lend him the money, take up some job, any job and pay it off. Heck, he might even become a driver.
A large roar behind him ought to have made him turn around, but Yaroslav was so wrapped up in his thoughts that he did not. The huge truck which bore down on him at high speed was driven by a drunkard, not an uncommon thing in Nizhny Novogrod as in the rest of the country. By the time Yaroslav heard the truck and started to move out of the way, it was too late. The speeding truck ran him over before the driver guiltily brought the shuddering vehicle to a halt, by which time, Yaroslav was dead .
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