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The Professor’s Murder

by Viacheslav Yatsko

Chapter 5: Olga Is Released

When I came to my senses I saw the big head of a German sheep dog above me. The dog’s tongue was hanging out and its saliva was dripping onto my necktie.

I heard a human voice. “Are you alive?”

I tried to raise myself a little and felt a sharp pain at the back of my head. Somebody picked me up under my arms and helped to stand up.

“I was walking Jim along the street and saw a man attack you with a club!” said an elderly man in an agitated tone. “Can you imagine that? But for my Jim he would have beaten you to death!”

Thoughts volleyed through my mind. Voronin! It was he. With all these troubles I had forgotten about him.

“Thank you very much,” I said. “Could you please help me to get to my car?” In a minute I was walking to the car, leaning on the old man’s shoulder.

I sat in my car, my head reeling. The clock showed 1:20 a.m. It was time to visit the Otvet. I switched on the roof light and turned back the sun visor to open a built-in mirror. The mirror showed a stained face with roughed-up hair and battered clothes. I tried to tidy myself up as far as possible and then started the engine.

* * *

Mr. Zilberman eyed me tentatively. As he was a businessman I began our conversation by giving him my business card. He read it carefully.

“I’ve heard about you, Mr. Larin. I’ll keep your business card. Perhaps I’ll need your assistance some day.”

“Now I’m the one who needs your assistance.” I forced a smile. “I mean the incident with Mrs. Smirnova last evening. I’m defending her interests.”

“Smirnova? But she gave some other name. Smirnova... Professor Smirnov’s wife? I understand then. Yes, the episode was really unhappy. Miss Snegova and four guests were aggrieved.”

“Four of them?” I wondered.

“Yes, they were sitting at the table that was broken.”

Strange, I thought. The police recorded only two names.

“And what damage was caused to your restaurant?” I asked aloud. “I am ready to compensate you for it right now.”

“The damage was not so great,” answered the manager. “Let me see... A broken table, plates, cups, glasses; spoons and forks were bent; the table cloth torn. Well, it makes eighteen thousand rubles in total.”

I took out my wallet, which had grown very thin, and gave him the money. He signed his waiver without any questions.

* * *

At 2 a.m. Police Station 11 was crowded with ruffians, prostitutes, tramps, and other lawbreakers and troublemakers. Police details arrived, bringing new ones, and the work was in full swing. I had noticed long before that restaurants and police stations are the most attended places at night, and they work in close collaboration: a number of restaurant clients would migrate to police stations.

Captain Murkin greeted me as if I were an old friend. He read the waivers attentively and connected with the unfailing Sidorov, ordering him to bring Smirnova from the third cell to his office, with all her personal belongings.

Olga appeared, wearing a tight skirt and a blouse. Her hair was tousled; she looked unkempt but very attractive.

“Where have you been all this time, you pig?” she greeted me. “Where have you been while I was being interrogated, then taken to a morgue to identify Smirnov, and arrested at that bloody restaurant? And here, in this stinky pigpen, I’ve been fingerprinted and searched. And this blockhead” — she motioned to Murkin — “told me I was a prostitute, non-Russian, and a criminal!”

“Not me! Not me!” cried the Captain, mopping his brow with a handkerchief. “This is normal routine. All detained persons are fingerprinted so that we can match the fingerprints with information in our databases.

“Recently all police stations received polygraphs from Moscow. They’re electronic lie detectors. And we have strict orders to apply them in practice. When Mrs. Smirnova was polygraphed, the computer detected she had lied when she answered that she wasn’t a prostitute, wasn’t a criminal, and was Russian. But I didn’t believe it! That’s why I phoned you.”

“Very instructive results,” I remarked.

Olga’s countenance changed, a wild gleam appeared in her eyes. She raised her hand against me but overbalanced and started to fall onto Murkin’s desk. I couldn’t let another piece of furniture be broken and caught her.

As soon as my hands found themselves on her waist and moved somewhat lower, the other parts of my body began functioning in unison with them. My belly nestled against her belly; my breast and her breast huddled together; my lips pressed to her lips in a fervent kiss.

I heard Rogov’s voice. “Well, well. You are not wasting your time.”

Murkin stood up and Olga moved away from me. “Alex, you are wounded!” Her voice trembled with horror. She looked with fear at a red spot on her palm. The back of my head must be bleeding and the blood had dripped down my neck.

Olga’s bellicose mood gave place to anxiety. When she saw me wounded, her female instincts prevailed. I was her man; I suffered; I needed care. She demanded that Murkin give her a bandage and iodine, and she began bandaging my head.

Rogov who was watching the procedures with true interest chuckled and said, “Olga, if you look around, you are sure to find a man better than this shabby, dilapidated person.” He straightened his shoulders and stuck out his chest.

Olga looked around, her eyes rested on Murkin, and she stared at him in astonishment.

“He has a wife and three children,” I warned her.

Murkin’s face turned red. “How do you know?”

Rogov and I exchanged glances and burst out laughing.

The door of the office burst open, and a policeman with lieutenant’s insignia stormed in. “A skirmish on Moscow Avenue! Several people killed,” he shouted.

Murkin cursed and rushed to his safe. We left the office and went out.

As Olga was getting into the car, Rogov drew me aside and said, “Your idea about Smirnov’s reluctance to leave for America proved true. I found out that he first rejected the offer and then suddenly agreed to accept it.

“As for his ex-wife and his daughter: seven years ago Vera Krotova and her daughter Galina Krotova moved to Novoyarsk, where Krotova’s parents lived. A year and a half later, Vera died. Thirteen-year old Galina was supported by her grandparents. At the age of eighteen she married and assumed her husband’s name, Filinova. Here’s all information about them.” He gave me a disk.

“I’m sure the murderer can be found at the University. I’ve included also personal data about two suspects: Vladimir Timkin, Smirnov’s postgraduate, and Elza Goldberg, Vice-President of the State University,” he added. “And what happened to your head?”

I told him about the attack and my suspicions concerning Voronin.

“Tomorrow I’ll take care of him myself,” Rogov promised.

I thanked him and we parted.

Copyright © 2011 by Viacheslav Yatsko

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