The Professor’s Murder
by Viacheslav Yatsko
|Chapter 4: Night Odyssey|
Alex Larin, an attorney, and his mistress, Olga, learn that Olga's husband, the eminent scientist Nikolas Smirnov, has been murdered in his own laboratory. Alex knows that Olga is a very likely suspect and that the police are unlikely to identify the perpetrator. It is up to him to solve the mystery. Then things really begin to get complicated...
I sat at my desk examining Murkin’s list. I made up my mind to go to my place first and think over the situation in quiet surroundings. The Captain had done good work: he had provided not only names but also addresses, telephone numbers, i.e. all information that was in police records.
The list was surprisingly short and included names of four persons.
- Mr. Semen Zilberman, the manager of the ‘Otvet’ restaurant.
- Miss Maria Snegova, a singer at the same restaurant.
- Mr. Oleg Ruchko, a student at the State University.
- Miss Marina Sotova, a student at the State University.
“The restaurant will be open all night and there will be no problem in finding the manager,” I reflected. “The restaurant is the last place to visit. As it’s a quarter to eleven I must find the rest of the company before they go to bed.
“And first I must speak to Snegova, who suffered most of all, being taken to hospital with ‘numerous injuries’. The students must be those persons who sat at the table broken by her body when she fell. It would be interesting to have a look at a body that can break a table to pieces.”
I opened my laptop, typed, and printed standard waivers so that only signatures were needed.
Then I phoned the hospital to which Snegova had been taken. I was politely informed that Miss Snegova refused to stay at the hospital and went home after the examination showed she didn’t have serious internal injuries.
That was good news. Now solving the problem with Snegova was that much easier. I decided to call her at once.
“Snegova speaking.” A pleasant high female voice answered my call.
“This is Alexei Larin. Excuse me for the late call; we are not acquainted but...”
She interrupted me: “Yes, we are not acquainted, but I know you. You defended my friend Anna Krylova.” She was referring to a divorce process that I won. “She highly appreciated your work,” Snegova prattled. Obviously, she was in good condition, and her injuries at the restaurant didn’t affect her speech abilities at all. “You worked wonders when you proved that her husband had another family and an illegitimate child. And Anna got his cottage, car, and almost all his money. After the trial she could afford a good rest in the Bahamas!”
I understood she would chatter endlessly unless interrupted and I did it rather rudely: “I must apologize, Miss Snegova, would you mind if I explain the purpose of my call?”
“Oh, sure, I am listening to you attentively!”
“Currently I’m busy with another case and I need your assistance. Could we meet right now?”
“I’m not sure it’s suitable... I live alone, you see. But if it’s so necessary... But anyway they say that a lawyer is like a doctor...
“I can be at your place in half an hour. Will that do?”
“Yes, I think that’s OK.”
I hung up and took a deep breath. That type of woman was familiar to me. They are good-natured, light-hearted, fond of chattering, eating... And they make good wives, unless they are stupid, which is mostly the case.
To get something from such a woman you must adopt simple tactics: listen attentively to what she is saying, display true interest, ask questions and agree with her conclusions. I used such tactics from time to time, although constantly employing it was maddening, and I could understand my friends who would run from such women like the devil from holy water.
Maria Snegova was a tall, stout, but pretty woman. To get her signature on the waiver cost me forty minutes’ talk. She informed me that ‘Miss Snegova’ was her stage pseudonym and her real name was Grechko and told in detail the story of her relations with her ex-husband, an officer who had deserted her and moved to another city.
I nodded my head like a Chinese figurine but managed to cut in to explain the purpose of my visit. At first she got angry, described the ‘loathsome’ behavior of “that whore” and even tried to show me her bruises.
I expressed my sympathy and recounted the sufferings of Olga. Her flat had been robbed and her husband murdered, but even when he was alive he didn’t pay due attention to his wife, never listened to the poor woman, and completely concentrated on his scientific work.
“How horrible!” exclaimed the woman and put her signature without hesitation. She even offered her help.
Inspired by this success I drove to the next meeting. It was a quarter to twelve, but students never go to bed so early. Normal students at least. I felt sure Oleg Ruchko was normal and was still awake, but the reality exceeded my expectations.
I stood on the stair landing, pressing the button of the doorbell for the tenth time, to no effect. Loud music from behind the door drowned out the doorbell. I couldn’t contain myself any longer and rashly kicked the door. The door creaked mournfully and opened; it wasn’t locked. I entered the room and felt a smell of cigarette smoke mixed with the odor of vodka and other hard drinks.
It was a standard two-room flat with a long corridor. It had a door to the drawing room and joined a smaller corridor where the door of the bathroom and toilet could be seen. To the right of it was a bedroom and to the left, a kitchen
Judging by the number of leather jackets on the coat rack there should be at least six persons in the flat, but nobody took the trouble to come to greet me. I had to explore the territory on my own.
I opened the door of the drawing room to see a fellow and a girl whose naked bodies were in a position that the Kamasutra calls a “pressed position.”
I shut the door quietly. Even if the fellow was Oleg Ruchko I had no right to interrupt the process.
Another guy tumbled out of the bathroom. He was dressed only in panties and had a red face. Noticing me he mumbled: “You... late.”
“I understand it’s late but I’m in urgent need of meeting Mr. Oleg Ruchko.”
“Very late... freak” stubbornly continued the guy wagging his finger at me.
I realized that standard language was of no use in such environment and it was time to resort to the lexicon of the mumba-umba tribe, as I call it.
“I,” I shouted, sticking a finger to my breast, “Alex!” “And you?” I stuck a finger at his breast.
“Oleg,” he answered.
“I have something for you!” I shouted and pushed him into the bathroom.
The bath was occupied by a girl who wasn’t in the least surprised to see us.
I turned on a cold shower and directed a spurt at Ruchko’s head, bending it over the bathtub.
Ruchko puffed, producing inarticulate sounds, and then cried, “Enough!” When he raised his head, his eyesight was clearer and his countenance more intelligent.
“I have something for you!” I said again.
He nodded, rubbed his head with a towel and went out of the bathroom, heading for the bedroom. As he opened the door we saw round white buttocks of a woman bent in a position not described in the Kamasutra. The flat was humming with sexual activity
Ruchko made a helpless gesture and suggested going to the kitchen.
The kitchen was not occupied, but it was not empty. The sink was filled with dirty plates, glasses, spoons, forks. The table boasted of a row of bottles and plates strewn with cigarette butts.
“I can tell by your eyes you are a regular lad,” he admitted, took a bottle of vodka, and tried to fill the glass. The bottle produced a scant drop. The boy peered into the mouth of the bottle as if trying to understand where the contents had gone.
“You are late!’ he harped on his favorite tune and struck his fist on the table. Some bottles fell on the floor.
“I can tell by your eyes, you are one of the lads!” I said, adopting new tactics and patting Ruchko on the shoulder. “Do you respect me?”
“Then sign this paper.” I gave him a pen and a waiver.
The boy stared blankly at the paper. “No. My mother always told me not to sign any papers.” He put the pen aside. “What is it all about?”
I reminded him of the events at the restaurant.
Ruchkov’s face brightened up. “We were celebrating Vovan’s birthday and that chick fell and broke the whole table.” He chuckled. “And that zany woman, the professor’s wife!”
“You, slyboots. You must compensate. My jeans were spoilt.” He wagged his finger at me.
“No problem. How much shall I pay?” I took out my wallet.
“No. That won’t do. You see we have run out of fuel.” He waved his hand at the rows of empty bottles. “A box of vodka and we’ll be even-steven.”
“And can I see Marina Sotova?” I inquired.
“Marka? You have just seen her ass.” He pointed carelessly in the direction of the bedroom. “She will do what I’ll tell her.”
It took me about half an hour to find the nearest convenience store, buy a box of vodka, and get two waivers in exchange.
I left Ruchko’s flat feeling almost happy.
When I was approaching my car something heavy struck my head and I lost consciousness.
Copyright © 2011 by Viacheslav Yatsko