2084, 1.


Kawa Zivistan  arrives at the tavern limping and near death. His feet are badly burned and his face smeared in dried blood. His gray uniform is all a mess. Behold the signs of war, every fluid spills but tears. The red cake of trauma is on his collar. Some is his, and some belong to Dmitry. He’s caked in ash on sweat and a five o’clock shadow. Things are kept inside of him. Scattered core elements that hurt far worse than broken bones or slowly smoldered flesh. Daria called ahead from a payphone and now bangs hard on the door for the help with a well-manicured fist. It would come to be said that a small army of angels amassed like a great flotilla flew above Kawa Zivistan. These agents seemed to protect him from the multitude of enemies he had made. But now, in approaching this den of literal devils, thieves and aggressive criminals he seems to be surrendering his luck. A great and powerful ancient devil invited him into a Bulgarian tavern to sign some papers in blood. His last nominal protector a blond Slavic angel name Daria had taken them here to temporarily surrender.

Sometimes a seemingly small place can become a vast labyrinthine and impregnable fortress when inundated with a bit of black magic, vodka and immigrant elbow grease. Perspective is but a cheap pair of sunglasses after all, paradigms are but Costco contacts to be shed and quietly replaced at will. Finally, they are ushered inside by a stone faced man named Slavi in a black fox fur ushanka.

Hanging above the main dance floor across the third floor gallery area is a clothesline and from it hangs a wide variety of female under garments that were not there when the club opened and the evening began. The origin of these under garments is a source of amusement for the casual patron and a source of real unspoken shame for a variety of young women hired as trial dancers working the Wednesday over night shift. Were one to visit Mehanata on a Thursday you might come to think it only a small single story lounge. Friday and Saturday patrons might access the basement bunker ice cages and the third floor table galley for photo, lit diner or lap dance. There is also a fourth floor cash only sushi Asian fusion bistro were diner edict is taut to debutantes. When it gets past 4am Sunday morning, thanks to the blue laws not only can carriages change to pumpkins, but the depth and girth of the rabbit hole here can delve expansively into the fourth or even fifth dimension. On all other days the place was officially closed and you were referred to a fun house across the river in the seditious Neg and Ivory slums of low rise  Breuklyn. Wednesday you could lap dance or even commit murder if you paid in cash and respected silence. Oh yes, the tavern is a vast entrapment.

It’s now 5:09 am. Everyone that isn’t meant to be in the club has been pushed, cajoled or driven out like a herd of drunken cats and those that remain are only staff or spoken for card carrying regulars. Astika and Corona bottles litter the establishment on any number of table booth perches, the dive bar black piss fluids of spilled drinks irrigate all floor space. A flurry of activity directed at securing the premises from external assault comes quite suddenly.

       Justin Toomey Azello, a Fenian hooligan with true crazy man eyes, bolts the door with the pull of a large metal brace and shortly after James White and James Behemoth begin piling tables against it. There is an urgency with which they carry out this task as well as efficiency. It is not the simple and previously observed urgency of men and women working long hours and just wishing to go home. The three man Mexican kitchen staff lines up and begins stacking crates and kegs and assorted furniture against the storm shutters now pulled down and latched closed over the second exit to the tavern.

Martina the bartender begins placing bottles of liquor below the bar, vigorously. Conspicuously absent is all of her clothing and in the strange new light of the bar her wild black curly hair for some reason appears fire red. How curious, thinks Kawa through the haze of his own vodka and torture soaked observational capabilities, which maintain some attention to idiosyncratic detail.

          Ernesto Lynch, the Peruvian Disk Jockey looks as though he is half asleep, a zombie casually examining his drink seated at the bar on the swing seat, taking dainty swigs his head drooping, intermittent half singing accompanies the dull steady thumping of his palm to the bar. Victoria Lynch is also entranced so it seems, seated beside him on one of the four two-person bench swings abutting the main bar.

     The lighting has completely changed. It’s become eerie in here on the eyes. Everyone who smokes is now smoking which is absolutely everyone except the Mexican kitchen staff, the Lynches and James White the Fenian bouncer who used to be a cop and still carries himself like one, except more jolly. The plumes waft about like ghosts of tobacco island taking on shapes most various in the doldrums of the shifty light which remains other worldly, blue tones and greyscale which emphasize reds of Martina’s lick stick, reds of Dasha’s large pocket book satchel, and the reds of the wine.

       Kawa without using words makes a quiet motion of his hands pantomiming a peace signed puff and his eyes go half black wolf, half-drunk rabbit and so thus alerting Dasha Andreavna that he wishes her to retrieve the packet of Newports out of her deep red pleather purse, and share one with him. They have seated him on a military stretcher on the dance floor and put a drink in is hand. Her hand bag seems as though in contains an endless assortment of things that cannot via the laws of normative physics fit inside it. Were a sledge hammer to be passed out of it he wouldn’t even feign surprise. As of lately they seem to share all their cigarettes. As if in open air prison. In times of scarcity.          

Sasho Alexander Dmitrievich Perchevney, the devil boss, is watching everyone and everything from the end of the bar, his back to the wall of the kitchen. The boss is wearing a black leather jacket his face stern and commanding; he snaps his fingers and fire takes form off his index finger. From this miraculous flame he lights a long cigar. An uncanny display of your evil black magic, thinks Dasha.

          If anyone else notices this trickster subterfuge, then they hardly seem surprised. Martina takes from below the bar a chalice of usual size, Byzantine even in proportions and pours him off a tall glass of what is presumably a thick red wine, although the lighting, quite unusual as said, makes it appear as though it is thick sanguine blood. The bottle from which she pours is house blend called A Shot in the Mouth. But Sasho doesn’t sip this concoction, just leaves it out.

He remains at the head of the bar with his unusually large chalice of sanguine wine having ordered the entire fortification effort with simple subtle nod. The place is very much locked down.

         Misha Korovyov, a Bulgarian regular, with his long flowing brown hair and one eyed squint, and playboy bi-winning manic grin with some European designer cigarette dangling out his mouth throws his arms around Dasha and Kawa. It was a though the eccentric Bulgarian materialized behind them.

“Joyous epic times new friends! Where but five weeks ago we were all merry strange acquaintances but how now we are intimate co-conspirators!”

           Coinciding with the subversion of reality and convention already underway, Dasha and Kawa although aware of phantom lights, of the stupor of the Lynches; of Martina’s brazen nakedness; now also it appears James Behemoth mostly called “James Brown”, to differentiate him from “James White” the former cop in casual conversation, the sly and charming Ecuadorian gangster bouncer; well for lack of a better description, he has now transformed into a hippopotamus sized black cat! Walking upright still in his leather jacket, James Behemoth is now at the bar and Martina is pouring a pint glass sized frothy frozen vodka shot and leaving him the bottle.

“Are we in the secret company of angels or demons?” asks Kawa in a whisper.

“Again sadly trapped in a Russian novel, set in America,” Daria explains.

Misha grins, “That’s the spirit! What my lovely Mademoiselle if I told you that the combination of man’s primitive brain with his powers of creativity with his latent albeit savage thirst for self-importance, self-aggrandizement creates an ongoing wildly unstable variable where bye all manners of mythology have been generated turning vastly complex phenomena, into well, cautionary children’s tales?” rambles Misha K, the wild eyed Bulgarian millionaire.

Misha had previous asked Kawa to compose him a popular anthem for a fictitious country he was developing. Kawa had abstained.  

“I’d go even further to say, to caution even the arrogance of making Judeo-Christian-Muhamidian spiritual assumptions in this day and age. The utter epitomes of self-absorption most grand that would make you all assume that you were either the center of the universe figuratively. Literally or neurologically; more so spiritually. Even now putting these base ideas into Amerikanski I must use nine words when in my own native tongue I could use a hand gesture, a syllable.”

“He speaks a lot while not saying anything,” notes Dasha, bored finally.

“Indeed.” says Kawa. He felt like it was time to lay down given the amount of torture he had just sustained in Brooklyn. It was coming back to him in painful little flashes

“Good, Evil, Angels and Demons! Flabergashy I say. Well I’m sure someone from the former Soviet Union once has explained how there is no such thing. No such thing as either. I’ve never seen an angel before I laid eyes on this woman” he says taking Dasha Andreavna’s hand and kissing it gently.

“Enchante,” she responds facetiously doing her famous micro curtsy.

“To which I attempted to refute that with my American understandings of hope and heroism there are both angels and demons battling everywhere, and certainly good and evil are quite real I assure you,” Kawa retorts.

“Mere devices in service of the ego sir, you see there may be deeds that cause pain or deeds that cause pleasure, but all of them get accomplished without some god or the devil whispering in the ear of human kind.”

“I’ll believe what I believe and you believe what you believe,” Kawa says paraphrasing the Prophet Muhammad. There was a rumor circulating that for some brief period of time the rebel went briefly Muslim.

“And I’ll believe what I’ve believed all along which is that you men say a lot of drunk bullshit when you all drink!” Mutters Dasha, “darling Tovarish let’s leave now, these wily tricksters offer us little besides their temporary refuge, their wine and some vodka.”

“Darling Tovarish, it looks as though they have sealed us in,” Kawa notes. The fortifications are very much in place. It even appears that the enormous vodka drinking black cat that was once James Behemoth is welding the metal door behind the barricade right to its frame. Ernesto is singing some old folk tune in Spanish as he gently swings the bench back and forth. Sasho has not left his standing perch at the bars end.

“Was it enjoyable to you Mr. Zivistan, watching an oligarch rape your girlfriend? See the secret police massacre your friends all in a single afternoon. Id imagine not, “exclaims Sasho.  

“It is not to seal you in. It is to keep those secret police and the Federal army temporarily at bay when they arrive,” states Sasho.

“Well sit down,” Sasho commands Daria.

There is age as well as gypsy wisdom expressed in the features of this strong man, though his Semitic black eyes burn with casual madness. But, it is also as if he has not aged in ten years, will not age in ten more. Perhaps he has never aged at all thinks Kawa as a remarkable feeling of Deja vu over takes him. He had wandered into this tavern many times over the course of the decade, or century maybe but when had been the very first time? What had that original indulgence actually cost?

Kawa Zivistan and Dasha Andreavna seat themselves on the plank of the bar bench swing closest to Sasho. Martina drops shot glasses in front of them. Her nakedness is ignored by virtually everyone. Dasha notices. And out of his corner eye Kawa does too. And in this noticing of her pale, curvy and naked Bulgarian body he sees although flawless in her nude form she has what appears to be a subtle ecchymosis of the neck, a hicky perhaps, but black and blue. The only deformity to her naked perfection.

“I have plenty of doubts about helping the likes of you,” Sasho begins. “Just because you’re adulterers and renegades doesn’t mean you came to play with a full deck of cards.”

“They’re not consummated adulterers, just wild reckless ones with intent to achieve adultery,” Martina interjects.

“Please do remain quiet, Hella,” Sasho commands.

“What is it you want from me again?” Sasho asks.

“A trade,” says Kawa. “A job,” says Dasha.

Their answers came out at once.

“You have nothing that I cannot just take, either of you,” Sasho grins.

The stories surrounding the Tavern on 113 Ludlow street and it’s management were numerous and infamous. It was certainly only one of the many things Sasho Perecheveny owned, but it was the tip of the iceberg or his empire, and also his haunt and HQ when in the city of New York, after Sophia, Bulgaria his second home. The tavern called the Mehanata Social Club, or the Bulgarian Bar was unpretentious and non-exclusive. It was open to anyone with at least two teeth and money to spend on drink. A rumor that Daria called Dasha was acutely familiar with and so was Sebastian called Kawa, was that Alexander Perchevney had gone from being a simple Soviet dentist to being the richest man on earth.

“I respect you sir, your powers I mean. And this establishment generally, but we are not afraid of you, per-say” Kawa says, “Unlike many others we are neither bribed, nor distracted  nor enthralled, or even intimidated easily. Our regularity has not indebted us to your, tavern. We pay for our drinks, sir.”

Sasho grins and his smoke trails take form before then, out his lips the smoke becomes a floating diorama of urbanity unraveling into anarchy. Misha K. interjects himself into the palaver with wild hand motions and flailing;

“You ought to be more afraid of your fellow humans. And each also other since both of you albeit human are both vigorously more endowed. There will not be dawn breaking in two hours. Outside lawless mobs are looting and burning, the whole city is much on fire. Heads are being cut off as though this were Jacobin France. The police are killing people in the streets based on the color of their flags. Sheer and total anarchy! And as we speak cordons of police are marching their way across the Lower East Side, heading here! They are after you two who they wrongly suspect of being key players in this bloody revolution being carried out. The authorities dejour mean to arrest you both for high crimes. Conspiracy and treason! In any number of minutes they will be banging on these doors asking for your heads on platters. It’s no state secret you both traffic here frequently. You in ideas and she with her body.”

Martina pours shots for them from a deeply frosty unmarked bottle.

“Do you really love her?” Sasho asks pointing to Dasha, “She’s a common whore.”

“Watch your fucking mouth demon,” Daria scoffs.

“Alright,” Misha interjects, “an uncommon witch whore.”

Now a real pause.

“Of course I do,” Kawa says. “Of course he does,” Daria responds simultaneously.

She turn to him as if surprised, although it’s come out once before.

“She doesn’t love you at all,” Martina says nakedly.

“I realize that might be true.”

“She most likely and I say this respectfully but with great faith, she never will. Not in this lifetime cycle anyway.”

Kawa turns to Dasha and takes her hand. She doesn’t pull away from this grossly sentimental display.

“Well as we all know. It’s not as if you only get one life.”

Sasho grins and breathes about smoke.

“I’ve run out of people to help me run and places to hide are running short as you know. If I am not mistaken many of my friends and associates have been taken or killed over the course of this black night. If I am not mistaken, the authorities think I am higher in the non-existent chain of command of this uprising than I really am. If I am not mistaken some rather grisly crimes have been committed over the past five weeks, my alleged role the general uprising not withstanding; it seems that the authorities wish to try us not just for treason but for sick, an heinous offenses committed by some rampant cult in grey.”

“Well it is certainly not Behemoth and I who are the poster children of the uprising or the slaughters of young wayward women,” notes Justin Azello.

“We may be an establishment of handsome devils, trickster Gypsies and seductresses and thieves, but we are not sick fuck murders,” states James White seated now at the long bar with a Corona which is also the neighborhood in Queens that he lives in.

“Are you asking me for help then?” Sasho asks.

“We don’t have anyone else to turn to, at this juncture” Dasha says.

“Are you saying your G-d is ignoring you?” Misha K. asks with a grin, “Are you saying you tried to pray and nothing happened?”

“Imagine that,” says sly Martina.

“Look here,” interrupts Dasha, “we are not at your mercy. Although he doesn’t exactly look the part right now per-say, this man is or was; Valera the shield of the prophets.”

“Valera the fucking gunslinger!” echoes Martina.

“Valera the gunslinger,” repeats Misha with glee.

“Yes, yes I know the human protégé of Archangel Michael, guardians of the unborn children of potential messiahs,” states Sasho.

“If such fantasies are still believed in,” says Misha K.

“I believe,” declares James Behemoth Brown once from Puerto Rico by way of the South Bronx.

“Me too,” says James White, the injured and retired cop. A mortal and a Catholic too.

“Martina, my Hella, what think you of us assisting agents of, the other side?”

“Well now!” She leans her supple frame over the bar painting up her lips deep blood red as she does, “Well most interesting is that neither of them reports to remember anything of their past lives and associations, in a word, sorcery made them mortal this round, but who’s sorcery? Not ours surely or we’d have known about it.”

“Daria Andreavna remembers everything,” states Sasho.

Justin Azello with a cowboy killer in his mouth is now also seated at the devils bar table and declares, “We definitely would have known about it.”

Martina continues, “The mystics long believed that in each generation would be born one hundred and four candidates exactly out of the bloodline of King David, house Judah that these candidates would be hidden from the so called forces of good and evil, that then three would reveal themselves by their 33 year as the Tzadikk ha Droriim, the three potential candidates for messiah. Only these three; a warrior, a sage, and an oracle might reverse the tide of human suffering and usher in an age of reason and compassion. Suffice to say, a good much was invested to snuff this nonsense out. Many factions have at one time or another joined hands to abort this prophesy as close to the womb as possible. Mostly by killing or corrupting them before the year of their revelation. Often by getting at their mothers before they are born. Have you heard this Old Soul mythology before?”

“Emma fucking Solomon!” yells Justin Azello spastically and neither Dasha nor Kawa flinch or appear to recognize the name.

“Who’s Emma Solomon again?” asks Kawa with a poker face.

Sasho, with a poker face says, “Never mind your poor dead wife for a minute. Or your various real and imagined  names. If I told you that you were both super natural beings with auspicious births and no biological fathers, at least not genealogically speaking what would you make of that?” asks Sasho.

“I’d say stop fucking around with highly traumatized people and let’s get down to business,” Dasha retorts.

“Alright then, if it is in my power, I’ll make you both a good deal. For a job I require you to follow this sad man to the cross roads and keep him from selling his third soul to anyone, anyone at all. I will help you escape and you will be in my employ for three years of human time which is considerably more or less fourth dimensionally speaking, though cost no more than three life days here in this reality. As for a trade I will trade you her contract to me and help you both quite literally disappear if you will go on a little field trip on my behalf once you escape.”

“So my job for your establishment is to escort Kawa on some mission into exile?” Dasha asks.

“Exile isn’t any place to hide. He’s far too hunted now. We offer you improved and enhanced fourth dimensional time travel,” states Misha.

“You can leave your good looking husks behind and arrive in another reality, time or place. And when and if you want these fragile husks back, we can grow them and upload you back in,” explains Sasho.

“Old technology really. Captured during the raid on Jerusalem in 2001,” explains Misha.

She looks at them all blankly, this foul Bratva, a cohort and Otriad of loquaciousness, insatiable thieves, dealers in whores, escapism, alcoholism  and the cultivation of devils.

“What in the fuck are you talking about!?” Dasha demands.

“Time is an illusion of the Ziggurat age, mortality is a handicap only for the proles,” says Sasho, “We are not longer bound by time, bound by place, bound by the short sighted deceptions of the lesser Oligarchy. We are in total control and if you work for me, directly for me, my power and my majik, the secrets of the mostly obliterated Ivory; they will work for you. Which means you get what you want most, and sort of so does he.”

“Let me blunt, before I am specific because human time is for once not really on your side tonight new friends,” says Misha, “Sasho, might I be so bold as to lay out the terms?”

Sasho makes a hand motion and a shrug indicating the international indication of; carry on.

“Daria Andreavna Skorobogatova Maccluskey, Dasha, Dashutka. We know what your patron keeper will do to keep you! He’s has found yours and Mr. Zivistan’s many letters. He has your only passport, he knows where your mother lives in Penza and also Mr. Zivistan’s parents address and his brother’s too. He’s not going to let you just walk away, in any direction. He’ll make all the people dear to you both suffer first, that is the kind of  man he is. He’s a murderous controlling lesser Oligarch. That’s Dmitry Khulushin. And we won’t war with him for you, that’s too expensive he has too many friends in Moscow.”

“Too expensive,” repeats Martina.

Misha continues, “Kawa; Valera; Zachariah, Sebastian, Abu Yazan; the man in the Grey Mask, whatever it is you’re calling yourself this in epoch. You do have mortal realities to round up and kill, you are not invulnerable. Since the plots of your congresses, the messages on the USBs floating around, that little melee on that train and in the district your little band of brothers has been hunted down and exterminated down to almost the last woman and man. Not only are you all being accused of being of house of subterfuge and treason, when you are arrested they will accuse you and Daria too and your associates in the Z.O.B. of being sadistic vampire cannibals! They will drag you before trial and say that all of you were kidnapping, raping and vivisecting young girls for human sacrifice. You will not be qualified as revolutionary terrorists, you will be called deviants and bandits. And then they will line you up and execute you all in silence and make you disappear. This is the new world you live in. Under any scenario your little five weeks of touch and go romance have yielded impending catastrophic dividends.”

“Most of your co-conspirators are already dead, you never had a real chance of making a revolution, it was was all a set up,” says James White.

Dasha shrugs. Kawa again with a different Bulgarian hand sign often utilized by Sasho and Misha asks Martina to fill up their shot glasses and get Dasha a red bull chaser.

“How now?” he says.

“Most basic. The gig is up. Before the secret police get here we will make you both disappear. We will hide you in the past and the future and other realities nearby. She will belong then to us, and you can auction her freedom with your remarkable abilities. You will thus work under a contract with an old devil Oligarch like me for just three days time. Which will feel to you like three years over three past lifetimes. And when it’s done you’ll both be free and your friends will still be alive and your city will be secure and spring time will be near. In fact, if you just fucking do what I say I will hand your revolutionary friends a victory, or at the very least a piece of the empire. Instead of endless torture, life times in a secret prison, murder, murder, kill, kill, death after death, not just yours and hers but all your friends and families, instead of another victory for one side or another, you get actual freedom. You get to absolve yourself of the burdens you were sadly born into, and instead of the five weeks you flirted your way toward courting oblivion, you’re gonna get to have her love.”

“What does he have to do, for us to get all that from your roof?” Dasha asks.

“Just three day’s work,” claims Sasho with a grin, “I mean, if all goes normal you could be back here in three days, back to life. Back to this miserable existence if you want it back.”

“But three centuries perhaps in the eye of the mind,” warns Martina always quite a fan of Kawa’s hopeless romanticism and writing, also the way Dasha moves men.

“What is it that we have to get done for you all in these three days, or lifetimes or whatever to save our families and friends and each other?” Kawa asks.

“Hella,” says Sasho.

“You will do what the two of you in certain circles are quite well known for,” says Misha.

“Find important people and kill them,” suggests James White.

“Re-write history,” suggests James Brown.

“Start wars?” guesses James Azello.

“They’re good for so much, let’s get them their contracts!” exclaims Misha.

Martina opens her pouty Bulgarian lips and pulls out a tiny scroll and on it reads: “Die gloriously, steal the moon, eliminate the oligarchy, and take good notes on your comings and goings. Return to life in three days.”

“Miraculous levels of detail here,” says Dasha sarcastically.

“If you sign yourselves to me and my house I will not only harbor you body and soul but I will aid you at all stages in getting this last job done.”

“How will we convincingly die here to facilitate all this fuckery?” Kawa asks.

“I will simply put your souls in a holding pattern vessel and leave out some convincing corpses for the authorities and Daria’s most sadistic lesser oligarch sponsor to find.”

“Dance magic dance. The implications of your voodoo are not as interesting to me as what in past lives and other times you want us to accomplish,” exclaims Dasha.

Sasho puff his cigar.

“I want you to see for yourselves what happened to the man Yeshua ben Yosef in the year 33 and how it relates to the modern advent of Emma Solomon, Prophet of Palestine. I want you to arrange the deaths of a certain specific upper oligarch I competed heavily with in 1933 and to this very day, and I want you to help me eliminate the whole oligarchy in such a complete way that they will never grow back.”

“In just three days, what the fuck man,” Dasha exclaims, “What expertise do either of us even have for this  massive black magical undertaking? No one can kill the Oligarchy, they have always been here and will always be here.”

“Three days here. Three years there. Over three lifetimes if needed. Understand what you’re signing,” says Martina, “you are both quite expert at creating chaos.”

“And what is it you want at the conclusion of these hostilities?” Asks Dasha as if the notion of time travel and other lives doesn’t perplex her in the slightest.

“I want total leverage. I want to be in complete control. You’re familiar with rumors whore. You know a certain trick was played on me, a violation I need no speak of upon my daughters and wife. You are perhaps aware that I went from powerless to powerful and feared, but I have restrictions to my growth even now as I am first of equals in New York, welcome also in Moscow and London too. On your three day journey you will take care of all the variables I need adjusted to solidify my domain. There’s a list of names I need. With that list all the other things you are to do becomes easier. “

“Just help us get the list and we have lots of agents able to strike,” says Misha.

“What’s on the list?” Dasha asks.

“Names of all the auspicious women he wishes to employ at the new tavern on the top of the mountain,” Martina smiles.

“Every generation has a list of candidates for the Tzadikk Ha Dror, the Ivory legend who will correct the sins and stains of the world of man,” Explains Martina.  

“It’s a rather tall order,” Kawa says likening it to a great American film. His scorched feet hurt even though she injected him with morphine and rubbed down in Tiger Balm.

“We’re going to help you,” says James Behemoth Brown.

“It’s not as if we’re just going to burn the social club to the ground and quietly plant your lifeless corpses about the city and vanish into evil blue smoke,” says James White.

“Although that was one plan,” says Justin Azello.

“Oh no-no, were gonna to that and transmography the entire tavern down the rabbit hole of time. We’re gonna help you run a mighty-mighty epic miracle racket,” claims Misha.

“For leverage,” says Azello.

“With whom?” Dasha asks.

“The Oligarchs who did our house once wrong” smiles Martina.

“You might be over estimating our kick,” suggests Kawa Zivistan, “Why us? Why help us though. What makes you think we can do what you want?” he asks.

“Because of your reliable Old Soul credentials,” says Misha.

“Because I’m not dealing with paramedic student Zivistan son of a privileged petty bourgeoisie rebel, and Dasha Andreavna, accounting student debutante, transit property of Khulushin Bratva,” exclaims Sasho, “once you leave these feeble bodies I’ll have put two very powerful new creatures on my pay roll: The Man in the Grey Mask and Dasha Andreavna Skorobogatova Maccluskey, Candidate 64.”

“A Candidate now am I?” she asks.

“Oh poor unfortunate souls, the ethanol clouded all your past lives and past accomplishments,” says Martina pinching Kawa’s cheek.

“Moonstruck until they can’t tell an angel or devil apart,” says Justin O Azello quoting the prophetic verses.

Martina leans in, “Why, you’re Valera the Gunslinger, Valera the Sword, main disciple of the archangel Michael, the greatest killer of demons in Gregorian time! And you,” she says leaning into Dasha, “well via the blood line of the house of Judah traced only in part by our little gang, well you have full Hebrew blood, you are candidate daughter of a prior powerful Tzadikk ha Dror.”

“What does that word even mean!” Dasha half yells.

“You might bear the messiah of your generation and he is the man in the Grey mask, a historical killer. Your blood and your womb and your collective memories will take us where we need to go and his deadly-deadly aim will let us acquire the things we need,” says Misha.

“If we do as you ask we can save our families and his murdered friends and we can return in three days and when we do what we change will set us free?”

“Precisely. And when the new tavern on the mount opens I’ll rehire you both happily,” states Sasho, “Because I will be the most powerful man on earth.” 

“Albeit in far more glorious capacities!” declares Misha.

“Absofuckinglutely!” yells Sasho slamming his hands on the bar.

Martina Hella Dubreskaya pulls a ball point pen of solid gold out her red lips. Rising out of nowhere from each shot glass emerges a rolled scroll.

Dasha takes the one in front of her written in Russian. Kawa’s is in Russian too and thus he cannot even read it, anymore.

“You trust her don’t you?” says Martina with a wink, “she’ll translate it.”

“What’s it say?” Kawa asks Dasha not even thinking so hard about the content.

Slowly she translates:

“..I will own you and you will own me and the Perchevney Bratva will own us both until completion of our duties to Mehanata which include documentation and surveillance of the man Yeshua ben Yosef and his wife Mary Magdalena; the assassination of a demon in the form Mr. Breria head of the Stalinist secret police; the assassinations of Superior Oligarchs Kahn, Talleyrand and Trumpuldorov; and the theft of the blue moon diamond which etched inside it will be the list of living candidates. Once said duties are in order we are free people and all calamities unleashed by our brief passions will be un-made allowing us at that juncture to part as associates or should love or passion grow strong enough to marry and allow Alexander Sasho Perchevney the honor of hosting our happy marriage.  It specifies that under no circumstances are you to be allowed to sell your third soul, nor am I to have sexual intercourse with you with results in child,” she paraphrases.

“Avoid further sexual intercourse!” interrupts Martina, “we don’t care about the rest of it. No babies made between your vile races.”

“The Slavs and Ivory,” Hella clarifies, “Both of of you being some parts of both peoples.”

Tough talk from Bulgarians.

Dasha without even squinting continues, “And we are prohibited from drinking alcohol while under contract as it will lead to babies being made.”

“And what does mine say?”

And she looks it over.

“It says almost the same thing except for a sub clause which establishes that should we fail at our tasks you assume full responsibility for all resulting actions.”

“Bro, just sign the fucking thing, the cops, the army, and secret police and the National Guard and the military are gonna be here to blow in the door any minute now, I have a good tip. You’re gonna get accused of harvesting and eating women’s sexual organs. Just sign the thing. Its three days of work and it your only way out,” says James White, who as the only human privy to the sorcery at work is rooting for Kawa as a fellow former civil servant.

“I really do love you,” Kawa says looking into Dasha’s big blue eyes and he signs the contract totally unable to read it.

She marvels at this strange thing called love he exhibits then calmly signs hers.

A controlled banging on the metal doors shakes everyone out of their surrealist stupor.

“They’re here,” says James Black, then the power goes out except red ghost lights.

“Welcome to the gang and the tavern staff,” Martina says extending her hand.

The banging continues muffled shouts through a public address system declare everyone must come out before the authorities come inside. It sounds as though a battering ram has been deployed.

“‘James White and my noble Companeros please exit via the roof and see to it that the body doubles are put in place before dawn,” commands Sasho, “Tomorrow is Friday thus this is when Dasha must be found lifeless in Brighton and it must be believed that Zivistan murders himself on Saturday after a night in Bellevue. And please call the Lynches a cab. Everyone else! To the Ice Cage, right now!”

Another controlled bang shakes the tavern. Probably the second blast door.

James Behemoth Brown still in the form of a cat kicks over an enormous canteen of petrol as does Martina. Everyone forms a line behind Sasho and then go down stairs. The stink of petrol is over powering. Justin O’Azzello opens the freezer door. A hatch in the floor is then unlatched and they behold a bottomless pit.

“Down the tunnel you go, we’ll be right behind you as soon as we burn this place to the ground,” Misha K. declares.

“Remember, no matter where you end up find the tavern and there we will be,” Martina says, “to answer stupid questions and arrange your papers.”

Dasha turns to Kawa and takes his hand as they enter the freezer box with wall to wall vodka for the very first and possibly last time.

“No drinking, no baby making and no re-selling his soul,” Justin Azello repeats.

“I’m sorry that I’ve gotten you into this whole mess,” Dasha says to Kawa.

“Did you do it on purpose?” He asks her as they stand at the precipice.

“I did. But I had no choice, my Mom is still in Penza.”

Contemplating the utter madness of the past five weeks, the misadventures the brushes with death, now the signing of a contract with the devil and a step into the unknowns of the past!

  “Bze platnee syr ve mishalovka,” Kawa declares. The only free cheese is in a mouse trap. He pronounces everything correctly this time, for the most part.

“If you do a really good job, and we get them what they want, then I promise ill make real convincing love to you until you don’t even know the difference between your wants and your needs, between lust and loving, I will give you everything you ever wanted from me.”

“For how long?”

“Three days of nearly forever.”

“Dasha, no matter what happens I’m glad that you found me on that roof top.”

“We shall see,” she says with her famous poker faced smile. I didn’t find you, death found you, she thinks. Using me and my body.

“Is any of this even real?” he asks her.

“No, they’ve just tortured us so badly we’re muddying the waters of objective reality for all around us and are imaging, or remembering perhaps; our other lives. Pretty soon these bleak dreams will end and you’ll wake up on the floor of a cell with no teeth.”

“Better to wake up in a bed with no feelings?” he asks her.

“I would have no idea, she replies.

It really takes a lot of torture to make men see blatnoy like this, she thinks.

“Find me again immediately, eh. When you wake back up,” she says and kisses his cheeks hard twice. Begrudgingly holding hand. Him leaning on her just to stand, they step out and fall tragically into a hole in the floor to anywhere, Hashem knows were. Falling back into the arms of underground. Temporarily dealing with devils so avoid an impending disaster. And then, they were gone. Powerless to her immediate human needs and his delusions of grandeur.

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