Other clouds are flowing and spreading their portable maze.
The heavy bead of the moon toils to tear its chain,
but this hardly could be: like a spiralling fume, moving tiptoe,
your remembering soul comes and leans over you,
touching the flowering bars of your cage.
~ Dionysus by Vlanes (Vladislav Nekliaev)
There is us.. alive, turn ice into fire
I want, I need, to feel such desire
A pain lies deep, in the heart of my soul
This truth, unfolds, and I'm losing control
And I'm losing control ...
I drift in this place, I can't see ahead
Searching around, for the answers
And it's cold, outside, and I feel the winter
There's a chill, in the air, of secrets untold
~ Winter by DT8 Project feat. Andrea Britton
|Moscow at night (by Raisinka deviantart.com)|
Blood is Thicker
It is winter.
And it is the early hours of the morning in a spartan apartment in Gorky.
A Russian gangster with big plans.
He is standing by the large window of his apartment and looking at his watch.
Dawn is coming.
Valentin Kazakov is strapping and heavily built.
Piercing green eyes gaze out of a large handsome face topped by thick curly black hair.
The night is fading.
Kazakov takes another swig from his bottle and then stride's over to the window to stare at the Moscow skyline.
A new day is dawning.
And the lightening sky is now streaked with a slash of fiery red.
The whole of Moscow is stretched before him.
"My Moscow" Valentin Kazakov declares proudly as he observes the skyline.
He spent several years in London on "secret business acquisitions".
But he soon returned to the Soviet Union after everything fell apart.
"Once a Russian" Kazakova asserts as he gazes at the rising sun "Always a Russian!"
The big beautiful Russian sky transfixes the calculating businessman for several long moments.
He allows himself a few moments of appreciation and he lets down his guard.
But only for a few moments.
Times are tough.
But pride softens the blow when reality bites.
And reality has been snapping at Kazakov's heels like an angry dog of late.
He looks around his tasteful apartment.
It is his haven.
And the scene of many of his business enterprises.
The kind of nefarious deeds conducted in the dark.
Valentin Kazakov is no angel.
He dispensed with the need to play things by the book a long time ago.
A Russian gangster with dirty money in his pockets.
He doesn't talk about his past.
But his mind wanders back to distant times.
Valentin Kazakov opens the boot of the sleek black Tagaz Aquila.
The man is gagged and shivering as he squints into the light.
Fighting for his life.
He is moaning and imploring the Russian gangster with his large frightened black eyes.
"Shut up, you dog!" Valentin Kazakov warns him menacingly.
His two partners are standing several feet away.
They light up cigarettes and speak in hushed tones about their hostage.
Their boss will be pleased with them.
It is morning in the basement of a dank and grey car park.
And it is still dark outside.
Valantin Kazakov looks down at the terrified man in the boot of the car.
"Traitor!" He sneers.
The man avidly shakes his head.
A traitor to their cause.
The man defected to a rival gangster and betrayed them.
Kazakov pulls his muzzle down.
"Pozhaluysta!" The man screams as sweat streaks down his pale face "I can explain everything! Just give me a chance!"
For several moments Valentin Kazakov enjoys the smell of the man's fear.
The man is a squealer.
And more trouble than he is worth.
Then he pulls out a Makarov pistol and shoots him between the eyes.
Kazakov watches emotionless as thick dark red blood gushes out of the corpse's wound.
His two partners rush to the car and stare at the dead man in the boot.
They wanted to bring him to their boss alive.
But nobody questions Valentin Kazakov.
That was then.
Kazakov's fortunes have now come full circle and the money is running out.
He strokes his goatee beard as he often does when he is pondering something.
Like many former army men he is devastatingly fit and has the stamina of three men.
A photograph on the table has had his undivided attention for over two hours and Kazakov's cunning brain has been sizing up all his options.
A newly built mansion looks imposing and impressive in the grainy Polaroid.
The mysterious owner of the colossus has been his obsession for the last two months.
An undoubted millionaire with coffers overflowing with money.
Just a street away lies the key to his future.
The door to the apartment opens and closes quietly.
Natalia Jacov walks into the living room and sits down on the leather sofa.
A dark angel in a fur coat.
Petite and beautiful with a thick mane of raven hair and captivating blue eyes.
Jacov is clever and spirited.
And as sharp as a knife.
Jacov lights up a cigarette and smokes quietly.
She is dressed in a black Azzedene Alaia dress.
And she has been playing gangster's moll all night in a dingy nightclub.
The couple gaze at each other without uttering a word.
Beauty and the beast.
|Night Moscow (by Tori-Tolkacheva deviantart.com)|
She crosses her silky legs.
Now the cool headed wheeler-dealer Valentin Kazakov hangs on her every word.
"The things you make me do Valentin!" Jacov exclaims with a snort "My mother would kill me if she found out!"
Valentin Kazakov is the kind of man that mothers warn their daughters about.
"Did you do exactly as I told you?" Kazakov asks eagerly.
"Yes, of course I did!" The beautiful woman answers tartly.
"Did you find out anything about him?" Valentin presses her as he finishes his pivo.
"Nobody knows anything about him!" Jacov replies sternly "And I did exactly what you said. I should do ..."
"And then what?" Kazakov demands impatiently.
"I charmed those men like you said and later I even let that businessman from Samara kiss me!" Jacov continues with a shudder of disgust "But that was all. He was too drunk to think straight and he knows nothing!"
Silence descends upon the couple for several moments.
Natalia Jacov stares at her lover as he sits back in his leather armchair.
No flicker of emotion crosses his handsome face.
No signs of jealousy.
"Is my interrogation over now?" Jacov erupts angrily "Can I go now, master?"
"This is crazy!" Kazakov thinks out loud staring at the photo in his hand "Nobody has ever seen the owner enter or leave that mansion!"
Natalia Jacov has had enough.
She gets up to leave but Kazakov grabs her wrist with his big left hand.
"This guy must be a millionaire and that place of his must be loaded with expensive stuff" Kazakov announces "I want you to infiltrate him and his mansion!"
"Infiltrate!" Natalia Jacov gaffaws with a sudden burst of laughter "This isn't the KGB Valentin!"
"I want you to get a handle on everything he's got" Valentin Kazakov commands her intensely "The number on his safe ... his goddamn bank details ...I want you to fill your pockets with that fools money!"
Jacov snatches her wrist away.
"Just one more time ..." he urges her "then I swear it will all be over ... we'll be home and dry"
Natalia Javov softens slightly at the strained look in Kazakov's eyes.
"I want you to be my lover not my Svengali!" Jacov says as she strokes his beard.
Kazakov gently pulls his muse down to him.
No matter how much they fight - the sex is always great.
Suddenly she recalls how it all began as she looks into his shining eyes.
She met Kazakov in the club where she worked.
Natalia Jacov was instantly impressed by Valentin's thoughtful gestures and respectful distance.
Usually men seemed to think they could buy her affections but he was different.
And he was big and beefy - the way she always liked her men.
Now the couple kiss passionately on the sofa as the morning sun streams through the glass.
Valentin Kazakov carries Natalia Jacov to the bedroom.
"So are you going to tell me a little more about yourself?" Natalia Jacov enquires over a glass of red wine.
Valentin Kazakov's eyes are dancing at the sight of his lover and he is momentarily silenced.
She is dressed in a black Alexander Terexov evening dress and her long black hair is framing her beautiful face.
Natalia Jacov is like the brilliant Russian sun and he can only but bask in its rays.
"We've been together over three years now and my mother already wants marriage and grandchildren!" Jacov adds "And I still don't know much about your family!"
"My parents are dead" Kazakov answers quickly "And my brother might as well be!"
All Natalia knows is that Valentin and Andrei served in the Russian Ground Forces for a time.
Then they went into the restaurant trade and everything suddenly went wrong and Andrei vanished taking most of the money with him.
Valantin was left virtually bankrupt.
And now Andrei is the invisible man.
Kazakov dismisses the memory of his brother as if he is swatting a fly.
He might as well be dead.
The way Kazakov treats his missing brother is reminiscent of the way he has erased his ex-wife Yanka and his son Spartak from his life.
The mother and son became surplus to requirements as soon as the marriage irrevocably broke down.
And Yanka sold her soul to the Devil by having an affair with a rival gangster.
Kazakov dealt with the misdemeanor by running the gangster over.
Yanka and Spartak have been on the run ever since.
Valentin Kazakov neither forgives nor forgets.
Now Natalia Jacov stares at her lover as tears fill her eyes.
"Turn me into a whore if you want" Jacov says meaningfully "But just don't turn me into a ghost too!"
Several days later and Valentin Kazakov is following ten paces behind Natalia Jacov.
The streets of Moscow are heavily laden with snow and the traffic has slowed down to a crawl.
Now Jacov stands outside the huge black doors to the palatial mansion.
The residence towers over her like a massive mountain.
Daniel facing Goliath.
Jacov is dressed in a big fur coat and thigh high boots.
She tentatively knocks on the huge shining black door.
And to her complete surprise - the door immediately swings open on a big and muscled man.
He grins at the attractive stranger on his doorstep.
Jacov quickly glances behind her to see if Kazakov is hiding somewhere behind a lamp-post or in the bushes.
"Good morning!" The man salutes Jacov merrily in a resonate voice.
The voice somehow sounds familiar.
"Good morning" Jacov answers shakily "I was passing by ... and was I curious to know who owned such a magnificent palace ... "
The man continues to smile at Natalia as his hazel eyes dance with amusement.
He is classically handsome with black hair and a square jaw and he is at least six-foot and dressed in a grey Armani suit.
He is well built and for some reason Jacov suddenly thinks of Valentin Kazakov.
"I was wondering if ... with such a big residence you might have many items ... and you might be needing a ...a ..." Jacov stammers self consciously.
"If I might need some kind of inventory made of all my artifacts?" The man finishes for her.
"Well yes ...I just wondered if you needed a secretary in kind" Natalia Jacov answers nervously.
Everything now hangs on his answer.
And Natalia Jacov already regrets the duplicitous intentions that underline her proposition.
You pig Kazakov
|Moscow Kremlin (by Sarumian3000 deviantart.com)|
"My name is Maxim Itsov" the man says smoothly "and I look forward to seeing you here at 11 am tomorrow!"
Natalia Jacov is momentarily thrown by the easy charm of the mysterious millionaire.
"My name is ... Anna ... Anna Anchova ... and I am happy to be of assistance!" Jacov replies with a broad smile.
And with just a few words the deal is sealed.
That night in his apartment, Valentin Kazakov details the intricacies of his plan to an agitated lover.
"I want to know exactly what he's got!" Kazakov commands "Get the combination to the safe and check it out. Take a good look around and report back to me!"
Natalia Jacov shifts uneasily in her chair.
"You want me to steal from under Itsov's nose?" Jacov demands, unable to hide her repulsion.
"Do you want us to end up as peasants?" Kazakov replies with a snarl "Do you want us to continue to struggle?"
The couple glare at each other as several silent moments pass between them.
"This is the last time Kazakov!" Natalia Jacov declares icily.
Kazakov kisses her hands.
"Because I can't stand anymore of your tricks and scams!" Jacov finishes, tugging her hands away.
That night Kazakov stares at Jacov as she sleeps beside him.
"Just one more heist my love" he whispers to her.
The following morning, Natalia Jacov watches Maxim Itsov in his huge study.
There are wads of notes stacked up on his big shining desk and she watches avidly as he types the code into the large safe behind him.
The big study is filled wall to wall with countless rare books on antique shelves.
The place is heaving with exquisite artifacts.
Several large Ming vases and expensive green leather chairs complete the feeling of opulence.
Natalia Jacov watches his movements warily like a hawk.
Hating herself for doing so.
She memorises the combination to the safe.
Itsov turns to Jacov and flashes her a large toothy grin.
"I trust you!" He informs her simply.
A shiver runs down her spine.
If only he knew
"You really should put all that in a bank" Jacov says finally.
Maxim Itsov bellows with laughter and the whole study seems to shake.
"I don't trust banks but I do trust you!" The big handsome man exclaims loudly.
Suddenly Natalia Jacov begins to see the mysterious millionaire in a different light.
He is broad shouldered and handsome.
He is disarmingly polite and well mannered.
He is intelligent and perceptive.
And he is always well turned out in designer clothes.
Jacov starts to feel something else.
And for a moment she quickly forgets why she is really there.
"So what's he like then?" Kazanov inquires that night, as he and Natalia dine in an expensive restaurant.
"He's a complete gentleman" Jacov answers immediately "and a spoilt rich boy"
Natalia Jacov looks at her lover as he takes another gulp of Pinot Grigio Veneto.
And he gives me more attention in three days than you have in three years
"What does he look like?" Valentin Kazanov asks his lover - trying to hide his emotion.
My God ... he's actually jealous ... my lover is actually jealous ...
"Do you want me to say he's ugly?" Jacov demands "Will it be better if he's crook backed and weather beaten? He's very handsome and he has your eyes!"
And he is everything that you aren't
Several awkward moments pass as the couple eat their ginger and carrot soup.
"I want you to take your time to work on him!" Kazanov announces lowering his voice "I don't want him to have a clue what's hit him!"
"You're gonna kill me one day Kazakov" Natalia Jacov finally answers.
But she isn't smiling anymore.
A month passes quickly for Valentin Kazakov.
This evening he sits in a busy cafe staring at his coffee.
But he is not a man at peace.
His days and nights are filled with tortuous visions of his lover and Maxim Itsov.
In another part of Moskow, Natalia Jacov sits beside Maxim Itsov at the grand Bolshoi Theatre.
They are sitting in a balcony and awaiting the commencement of Puccini's opera Madame Butterfly.
Jacov is immaculately dressed in a white Balenciaga evening gown and tawny fur stole.
Her black hair is teased into a chignon and diamonds glisten in the ornate necklace about her neck.
She feels out of place in the sumptuous surroundings and among so many well heeled audience members.
"That necklace belonged to Catherine the Great but you surpass her in all respects" Itsov whispers.
Then he leans in and kisses her on the mouth.
Natalia Jacov does not protest.
Her head is spinning.
Itsov's big and handsome face smiles at her and her heart skips a beat.
Then the lights go down and the big, heavy red curtain slowly rises.
Several hours later and Natalia Jacov is lying in bed with Valentin Kazakov.
"I can't do it! I just can't do it to him!" Jacov exclaims as tears stream down her face.
"Just a little bit longer!" Kazakov urges her "You can't back out now. Not while we are so close"
Natalia turns her back on her lover.
She is caught between two men.
And caught in a snare.
And no self respecting person would have any sympathy for me
Another cold winter month passes in Moscow.
Christmas fast approaches but there is little mirth in the apartment of Valentin Kazakov.
Two plane tickets and a Stechkin, automatic pistol lie on the table before him.
Outside the large windows - snow is falling and the slender figure of Natalia Jacov disappears from view.
Kazakov has finished half a bottle of vodka and he has already smoked his way through half a packet of Sobranie.
Tension is mounting.
Valentin anxiously checks his watch again.
There is too much at stake for Natalia Jacov to make a mistake.
One false move and everything is over.
Kazakov does not want to dispatch Maxim Itsov tonight.
In less than two hours - Jacov will empty as much of Itsov's safe as she can into a large leather ruck sack.
Then she and Kazakov will leave Moscow and Russia forever.
Brazil beckons them.
Now Valentin Kazakov allows sleep to overtake him.
He is looking down at Natalia's beautiful face in bed but something is wrong.
The bedclothes are red with blood.
Jacov pulls out the severed hand of Maxim Itsov and smiles up at Kazakov.
Valentin wakes screaming and rushes into the bathroom to splash his face with cold water.
Kazakov punches the mirror and as it shatters and splits - it is like his own shattered mind.
All consuming and poisonous jealousy.
Eating away at his soul.
The demon on his shoulder.
For the last two months, Valentin Kazakov has lived and died.
Every time he imagines Maxim Itsov with his lover, Kazakov is torn apart with jealousy.
None of Jacov's explanations or assurances can still his addled mind.
All he can see is Natalia and Itsov together.
Itsov sharing his secrets with Natalia.
|Moskow lights iii (by mannromann deviantart.com)|
Maxim Itsov making love to Natalia in a big golden bed.
Natalia crying out in ecstasy.
"Stop it!" Kazakov rages "I am going crazy!"
He grabs the half-finished bottle of vodka and swigs from it.
Kazakov is a man possessed.
Nothing can quieten him.
Then he sees Itsov lying in a pool of blood with a hole in his head.
And Valentin Kazakov laughs bitterly for the first time in weeks.
But this is all too real.
Now Kazakov is standing outside the enormous mansion as snow falls upon him.
He is a ghost and this is a ghost town.
Natalia should have called him twenty minutes ago and now Valentin Kazakov is twitching.
His hand is placed on the Stechkin pistol in his coat pocket.
Valentin Kazakov is fast running out of patience and he is afraid that he will lose his nerve.
Five minutes of silent deliberation gives over to aggressive action.
Within moments the huge front door to the palatial residence is wide open and the pistol in Kazakov's hand is smoking.
Valentin treads softly through the infinitely impressive and luxurious mansion.
He has never seen so many priceless pieces of artwork and plush furniture in his life.
And there is no sign of his undercover lover or Maxim Itsov.
"You better have a good reason baby!" Kazakov sneers under his breath.
Doors lie wide open and he enters several huge rooms.
All are empty.
Finally Kazakov takes to the huge winding stair case.
All the doors along the landing are closed.
But one is slightly ajar, and a dim light streams across the richly carpeted floor.
Kazakov takes several deep breaths before kicking the door open.
Two figures immediately jump up in the dim light.
This is clearly a bedroom and he has just caught the couple in flagrante delicto.
For a few moments, Valentin Kazakov squints at the two figures in the subdued lighting until the widening door reveals their faces.
"No!No!No!" Natalia Jacov screams tugging the bed sheet to cover her bare breasts.
The naked man covers his penis with his hands.
Both are unable to hide the look of shock and horror on their faces.
Now Valentin Kazakov can see the face of the millionare clearly.
And for a few moments he is frozen to the spot.
"Andrei?" Kazakov mutters in disbelief "Is it you?"
Natalia Jacov is screaming now.
"Don't do it brother!" Andrei Kazakov pleads with Valentin Kazakov.
For a moment, they are children playing in the back yard again.
But reality bites.
And Valentin's dark little world has finally shattered around him.
His worst nightmare has become reality.
His lover has betrayed him with his traitor of a long-lost brother.
And the trap has finally snapped shut around them.
Three drowning rats.
Outside the snow is still falling heavily.
Several children are playing with sledges.
They laugh and tug each other along hardly noticing that the big front door to the new mansion is wide open.
And none of them pays much attention to three gun shots sounding from the inside of the magisterial residence.
|Moscow Metropolitan 2 (by midwatch deviantart.com)|