TWELVE

Emil Karpo had six officially active cases to deal with. He also had 604 officially inactive cases to deal with. The 604 cases on which he kept records in black notebooks on the shelves in his small room were those that had been placed in the inactive files of the Procurator’s Office and the MVD. Only twenty-three of these cases had been assigned originally to Karpo. In the past fourteen years Emil Karpo had brought sixteen of those cases to satisfactory conclusions either by apprehending the lawbreaker or by discovering that those responsible were dead or had left the country.

Emil Karpo’s evenings were spent updating his records of those cases and conducting his investigations. His holidays were spent following leads, sometimes leads on cases fifteen or twenty years old. The oldest case in Emil Karpo’s file involved the murder of a doctor on the Fili Metro platform twenty-nine years earlier.

Of the current cases to which he had been assigned, he was most confident that he could and would locate those responsible for kidnapping pets, particularly cats in the housing complexes near the airport. He was making a slow deliberate investigation of both government-authorized and black market sausage and ground-meat distributors. The operation was too big and too much in need of distributors to keep quiet. The crimes that were most difficult to deal with were those that involved apparently random acts of violence by individuals against others they did not know. When the perpetrator simply acted once and receded and no witnesses were present, it was almost impossible to deal with. Like the person who killed the doctor on the Metro platform. Almost impossible.

What Karpo really wanted to do was deal with Yuri Vostoyavek and Jalna Morchov, and he would have done so if he knew where the boy was. Karpo had waited for Yuri outside the apartment where he lived, but the boy had not come out. His mother had emerged around eight, hurrying to catch a bus, but by nine Yuri was not down. Perhaps he had been too frightened by Karpo to get up and go to work. This Karpo doubted. Karpo had, in fact, admired the boy’s reaction to his intrusion.

A few minutes after nine, Karpo had climbed the stairs and knocked at the door to the Vostoyavek apartment. There was no answer. He had used his identity card to open the door and found the apartment empty. The conclusion was simple: Expecting to be followed, the boy had gotten out through an alternate exit.

After concluding that Yuri had not gone to work, Karpo had gone to his desk at Petrovka and called the dacha of Andrei Morchov. The girl, Jalna, answered the phone. Her “Yes, who is it?” had held a challenge.

“Comrade Morchov, please,” he said.

“He just left,” she said.

“Thank you,” he said and hung up.

The next step was obvious: Karpo rose, signed out on the board near the sixth-floor exit, and went out in search of Andrei Morchov.

“Policeman,” Peotor Kotsis said, shaking his head, “you are an annoyance”

Sonia moved behind Sasha and quickly, efficiently searched him, finding his pistol and pulling it out with a satisfied, “Uh.”

She displayed it to her father, who nodded his approval and pointed to the table. Sonia bounced over and placed the weapon gently next to a steaming cup of liquid.

“Sit, policeman,” Kotsis said, pointing to the sofa with his gun. Sasha moved to the sofa and sat.

Sonia sat at the table, put her finger in the barrel of Sasha’s gun, and spun it gently as she sipped the hot liquid.

“Sonia and Sasha,” she said with a smile, and Sasha concluded that the lovely young woman was more than a bit mad.

“The old man,” Sasha said.

“Yes,” agreed Kotsis. “The old man. The woman at the center. You have, as others before you have done for two centuries, underestimated the determination of the Turkistani. You have been, as the Americans used to say and the French continue to say in their pale imitations of old movies, set up.”

“Why?” asked Sasha.

“Hostage,” said Sonia.

“Yes,” agreed Peotor. “We plan to take a series of hostages. We’ve learned much from the mistakes in Lebanon. You are, in fact, the second of our hostages. We have no illusions about your value to the government. Therefore, we will make your kidnapping public knowledge. We will make our reasons quite public. We will make the citizens of Moscow, of the Soviet Union, afraid to walk in the streets. We will make them so afraid that the government will give us independence. Oh, they won’t say that our actions are the reason. They’ll say it is part of the massive reform. They will give it with other concessions in other areas, but it will be because of us. It will take time, but they will be worn down.”

“You’re not going to kill me?” asked Sasha.

“No,” said Peotor. “Not yet, not unless we have to. Are you disappointed?”

“No,” said Sasha.

“We can be friends,” said Sonia, happily turning the barrel of the pistol in Sasha’s direction.

“You’re going to keep me here?” Sasha asked.

“No,” said Kotsis. “You are going to put out your hands in a few minutes so that Sonia can put handcuffs on you. Then we will go to a car and take you someplace out of town.”

“Where?” asked Sasha.

“Why is it that you don’t seem particularly surprised by all this?” said Peotor Kotsis, looking a bit puzzled. “A bit frightened, yes. I’ve learned to recognize that, but not surprised.”

Sasha was about to answer when the door through which he and Sonia had come burst off its hinges and skidded across the floor. Kotsis turned his gun toward the sound, but two quick shots from the doorway tore into his chest. The gun in Kotsis’s hand flew across the room and hit the wall. A spray of bullets spat out, thudding into the wall.

Sasha was on the floor now, his eyes on Sonia, who watched her father slump to the floor. She turned, her hand still clutching the cup of hot liquid, and faced the figure in the doorway who had shot her father. Her hand reached for Sasha’s gun.

“No!” Sasha cried.

Zelach stood in the doorway, his pistol leveled at the girl, but he hesitated. At that instant, Sonia smiled at Sasha, lifted his pistol to her mouth, pulled the trigger, and blew off the top of her head.

“God!” Sasha screamed.

Zelach stepped into the room, his pistol leveled at the fallen Peotor Kotsis. “Dead,” he said.

Porfiry Petrovich stepped through the doorway and looked at Sasha, who sat shaking on the floor. Rostnikov put an arm around the younger man and helped him to his feet.

“I can’t do this anymore,” Tkach said.

“I know,” said Rostnikov.

Tkach’s eyes were wide and focused on the mutilated body of the girl who moments before had been smiling.

“You were late,” Tkach said, trembling, near breakdown.

“You moved quickly,” said Rostnikov. “I do not move so quickly.”

“I mean it, Porfiry Petrovich,” he said as Zelach turned and Rostnikov nodded to him. Zelach left the room in search of a phone.

“You mean it now,” said Rostnikov. “I have meant it each time. You did very well.”

“Very well?” said Sasha, looking more than a bit wild, his hair dangling over his eyes. “They’re dead.”

“And you are alive, Sasha,” said Rostnikov. “We’ll talk more of this later. Now I need your help. There is still a bus and a driver to find, and more people will die if we do not find them. You understand, Sasha, when the others discover what has happened here, they will probably want to do something very violent. We must find them, Sasha. You and I. We must find them.”

“Yes,” said Sasha, panting. “We must find them.”

“We must search these rooms quickly, Sasha,” he said. “Zelach is calling this in. The KGB will be involved. We must search these rooms and find something to lead us to the rest of these people.”

Sasha nodded his head, stood up straight, and brushed back his hair.

“Then let’s do it,” he said.

Too many variables. That is what the KGB officer thought as he paced his room. Too many variables. The knock came and he moved to his desk, sat, composed himself, folded his hands, and told the man at the door to enter.

The man came in, closed the door behind him, and moved in front of the desk.

“Sit,” said the KGB officer.

“You know about the call?” Vadim said, sitting. He had never before been invited to sit in this office. He took it as a bad sign.

“Variables,” said the KGB officer.

“Variables, yes,” said Vadim. He didn’t like what was going on here, didn’t like it at all. The officer was always composed, superior. There were signs here of concern, and if the officer was concerned, Vadim had reason to be concerned, too.

“Go on,” said the officer.

“Both Rostnikov and Tkach are devoting full attention to what now appears to be a terrorist situation,” Vadim said. “I would assume Rostnikov will pull the other one, Karpo, from his case to join them. The investigative bureau has officially been brought in and is taking over the situation. It is now a KGB operation, but …”

“… but that will not stop Rostnikov,” the officer said.

Vadim shrugged.

“It is in our best interest to conclude the situation as soon as possible,” he said.

“Find the terrorists. Finish them. Our plan requires that this be concluded quickly. Every minute, every hour this goes on we run the risk of being discovered,” the KGB man said.

Vadim nodded in agreement.

Emil Karpo concluded before noon that Andrei Morchov was safely inside the walls of the Kremlin and would be there till at least seven that night for meetings. This much he had learned directly from Morchov’s secretary after identifying himself.

He called in to Petrovka to let the duty officer know he was proceeding to another investigation. Rostnikov, calling Petrovka seconds later, missed him, but left a message.

Karpo spent most of the afternoon tracking down informants and getting a line on a meat dealer who seemed to be a promising lead, not necessarily because he would be the one dealing in the meat of dead cats and dogs but that he would be likely to know who was doing so. Karpo checked his notebook and at a few minutes after three decided, since he was not far from Dynamo Stadium, to interview a ticket saleswoman who had witnessed an armed robbery two years earlier. He had interviewed her six months ago, but there were a few variations on earlier questions he wished to try.

By five, Emil Karpo was sitting at his desk in his apartment, carefully copying the notes he had taken into the properly filed black notebooks on the shelves that lined his room.

The knock on his door was firm and confident. If Karpo were given to or capable of smiling, he would be smiling now as he rose, moved a few feet across the room, and opened the door to Yuri Vostoyavek.

“Come in,” he said, and the boy entered.

“I’ve been following you,” Yuri said aggressively.

“I know,” said Karpo. “There is only one chair. You may sit.”

“I don’t want to sit,” Yuri said, facing Karpo.

“You are not tired?”

“Of course I’m tired,” the boy said. “You’ve been running me all over the city for hours.”

“You did well,” said Karpo. “I didn’t pick you up till I left my office.”

They were facing each other as they had the previous night in Yuri’s room.

“You have something to tell me?” asked Karpo.

“I’d like to beat the hell out of you,” said the boy.

“A natural reaction,” said Karpo. “But beyond that?”

“You are a policeman,” said Yuri.

“I am aware of that,” said Karpo.

“I’m not afraid of you,” said Yuri.

“You’re not?”

“Well, I am, but it makes no difference. That’s not why I’m going to say this,” Yuri said. “I’ve given up … what I was considering. You understand?”

“I understand,” said Karpo.

“But … I can’t stop Jalna. She plans to … I think she might… She has my gun … tonight. When he gets back to the dacha. She said … I can’t get out there. They stop me when I try.”

“Then,” said Karpo, “I suggest we go together.”

It was a bit after six. If they hurried, Karpo could get a car on an emergency requisition and they could get to

Morchov’s dacha by seven-thirty if they rode the center lane all the way.

By six, when Peotor had not returned, Vasily and the girl Lia went to the nearby village to call Sonia. They left the three others with Boris Trush, who was ordered to ready his bus for action “very soon.”

Boris, in fact, knew almost nothing about the mechanics of buses, automobiles, or bicycles, but he went to work in the dark barn fiddling with tools, calling for wrenches, and working himself into a sweat, which he hoped would convince his captors of both his zeal and his ability.

Vasily and Lia found a phone in a small all-purpose grocery that sold Coca-Cola. The old woman who ran the store eyed them suspiciously but backed off when Vasily asked her pointedly what she was looking at and offered to show her much more if she was really interested.

Sonia’s phone rang eight times before someone picked it up.

“Sonia?” Vasily said.

A long pause and a woman’s voice, “She’s not in. She had to go out to pick up some flowers for tomorrow.”

“Who are you?” Vasily demanded.

“Mrs. Barakov, across the hall. Wait, I think I hear her coming in downstairs.”

The line went silent as Vasily waited, shifted his weight from one foot to the other, and drained what was left of his Coke.

“Hello!” he shouted after ten seconds. “Where the hell …”

And then it dawned on him. He looked at the phone, let out a yowl of pain that made Lia turn to him from a stack of canned fruit she was examining, and brought a frightened gasp from the old woman who ran the little store.

Vasily hung up the phone and turned to Lia.

“Let’s go,” he said.

“I just-” she began but he didn’t let her finish. He pushed her toward the door.

At the door, Vasily turned to the trembling woman behind the counter.

“Old woman,” he said, “in a few minutes men will be here looking for us. You tell them I am a tall, dark and fat man. You do not tell them about her. You tell them any more and I will be back to rip out your nostrils and scream into your skull.”

Outside, Vasily looked one way and then the other.

“What’s going on?” Lia asked.

“They got Sonia. They probably got my father.” Vasily was crying with rage. He stamped his foot on the ground. “I let them have time to trace the call. We have to hurry. We have to hurry. We have to do it now. Tonight.”

The drive to Morchov’s dacha in Zhukovka took Karpo and Yuri thirty minutes. Karpo drove down Kalinin Prospekt, turned left at the arch commemorating the defeat of Napoleon, and displayed the pass that allowed them to drive in the fast lane of the highway. They said nothing as they passed row after row of housing developments, developments that looked just a bit cleaner as they moved farther away from the city. Twenty minutes from the time they left the center of Moscow, they were in the middle of a forest. Police sentry boxes came more frequently now, and many of the license plates began with GAL and ended with four letters, signaling to citizens that the KGB were inside each vehicle watching, protecting the nearby elite. Karpo knew that these men were not here to remain hidden. They were here to warn off those who were not welcome, the curious and the unwary travelers.

Karpo was stopped once on the way to Morchov’s dacha. He identified himself to the KGB man just at the turnoff to the dacha and said that he had an appointment with the representative.

“We weren’t informed,” the man said.

“I suggest you call Comrade Morchov to confirm,” said Karpo. “He may simply have had other things on his mind.”

The KGB man checked his identification, glanced suspiciously at Yuri, and motioned for them to pass. There was no car on the path in front of the wooden house. Karpo parked and got out. Yuri did the same, and they walked to the front door.

Karpo knocked. There was no answer. He knocked again. No answer. He tried the door, and it opened.

Once inside they heard a voice, a deep, even voice. The policeman and the boy moved toward the voice, through the doorway, and into a large, bright room with modern Scandinavian furniture. Sitting in one chair was Jalna Morchov, a gun in her hand. Across from her sat Andrei Morchov.

Morchov looked up at the intruders. His expression revealed nothing.

“You are not welcome here,” he said. “You will turn around and leave immediately.”

Karpo and Yuri stopped in the doorway.

“No!” cried Jalna. “No more orders. You can’t give orders. You are a dead man. Dead men don’t give orders.”

“Jalna,” Morchov said reasonably, “if you were going to do it, you would have done it by now.”

In response, Jalna fired. The bullet ruined Andrei Morchov’s new suit as it entered just below his right shoulder. Morchov jerked back in pain, bit his lower lip, and then sat upright again.

“I was wrong,” Morchov said. He turned to Karpo and Yuri. “You might as well sit down.” Then to Jalna. “If you plan to shoot me again, I would appreciate your giving me some notice. I do not like surprises.”

Jalna held the pistol tightly, still aimed in the general direction of her father. Though he was the one who had been shot, she was the one who seemed to be in shock.

“Jalna,” Yuri said.

“I’ve got to do it now,” she said.

“No,” said Yuri.

“I think she’s right,” said Morchov.

“We can’t,” Yuri said.

“Perhaps we can reach some manner of compromise,” Karpo suggested.

“I don’t see how,” said Morchov. “What options have I? You know the law, Comrade. A member of the Politburo has just been intentionally shot.”

“She’s your daughter,” Yuri said.

“Inspector, is that a legal consideration?” Morchov asked, wincing. The blood was pulsing from the wound.

“No,” said Karpo.

“Do you believe in circumventing the law, Comrade?” Morchov asked.

“Stop it!” screamed Jalna. “You are always so sure, so reasonable. Aren’t you in pain? Aren’t you worried about dying?”

“I have lived by reason and argument,” Morchov said reasonably. “I see no reason because death is facing me to abandon what I have lived by. You understand me, don’t you, Inspector?”

“I understand,” said Karpo.

He stepped forward and held his hand out to Jalna. She hesitated for only an instant and then handed the weapon to the policeman.

Yuri moved quickly to the weeping girl and took her in his arms. Morchov sat watching.

“Where is the phone?” Karpo asked.

“In the room you came through,” answered Morchov. “Near the door to the bedroom on the left. There is a medical unit in town no more than ten minutes away.”

Karpo moved quickly, found the phone, and called for an ambulance before moving back into the bright dining room. No one spoke. No one had anything to say. Karpo found a clean towel and attempted to stop the bleeding. The wound was certainly painful if not serious, at least not serious if the bleeding was soon stopped.

The ambulance arrived within five minutes. Karpo handed the gun to Morchov and went to the door to let the driver and accompanying doctor in. Behind them were the two KGB men who had stopped Karpo and Yuri on the road outside.

“Where?” the doctor, a thin, nervous woman said.

Karpo led her and the driver into the room where Morchov lay. In the corner, Jalna and Yuri stood watching, waiting.

“What happened?” the KGB man asked.

The driver and doctor were helping Morchov to his feet.

“I …” Jalna began.

“I shot myself,” Morchov said. “I was putting my pistol away and it went off. I’d prefer to keep this as quiet as possible. I have a cabinet meeting in two days.”

The KGB man said nothing but continued to eye Karpo with suspicion.

Karpo moved with the nurse and driver toward the door while the KGB men stepped toward Jalna and Yuri to question them.

“I can do without a scandal,” Morchov said.

“And that is the only reason?” asked Karpo.

“What other reason might there be?” asked Morchov.

“He must be left alone,” the doctor said. “He’s lost quite a bit of blood.”

“I would like my daughter and her friend to accompany me if they wish,” Morchov said, looking at the two KGB men huddled over his daughter and Yuri. Jalna’s eyes met her father’s.

“Yes,” she said.

The KGB men hesitated for an instant, and Karpo stepped back to let the boy and girl pass.

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