A tradesman must leave behind his new life and return to the old
|Victor Lenko turned on his 38 inch tv and sat on his favourite leather arm chair. After some channel hopping he eventually stopped and watched a NY Mets v Boston Red Socks game.
His cell phone rang, up appeared the number and name of his boss. He answered it ‘Hi Gerry’.
‘Hi Victor, a resident in the exclusive Hudson Tower building has a plumbing issue and asked you go over and look at it’.
Victor sighed ‘Gerry, i was on the day shift, i’m not on call for the nights this week!’.
Gerry let off a laugh ‘They asked for you!!’. Victor gave a curse in Russian and Gerry laughed. ‘Can’t you say I’m not available and get someone else, I don’t know anyone there!! and I want to relax and watch some baseball!!’.
‘Look Victor, somebody has obviously recommended you to them. These people have money, they’ll pay the company triple as well as compensate you for your time in cash, they also have other business to send our way’.
Victor sighed ‘Can it wait until tomorrow!’. ‘No!!’, replied Gerry ‘They are persistent, switchboard told them you weren’t available, they then asked to speak with me and refused to hang up, you obviously are hitting the right notes as a plumber, please, I’ll make sure to give you time in Lou. ‘
Victor cursed again in Russian ‘Fine’.
‘Great, Thanks’ says Gerry ‘Now, they said go in the entrance at block 41st 5th avenue, park at spot A113, three gentlemen will be waiting to take you up!’.
Weird thought Victor to himself. ‘What is the customer name?’ asked Victor as he switched off the tv.
‘They are Sasha and Yuriy Ivanovich’.
Victor hung up. ‘Yuriy Ivanovich, Sasha Ivanovna’ oligarchs, but why did they ask for him, he distances himself from such pomp, did they know something on his past, something didn’t seem right. He walked into his bedroom, lifted up his mattress and placed a small hand gun into his sock. He opened a drawer took a small flick knife and placed it in his pocket. Something didn’t seem right to Victor, he was a plumber but by no means was he the greatest, in fact he was probably average, he didn’t have much interest in it but it was a job and got him away from his past. He walked into his underground basement garage, checked all of his tools were there opened the main door, drove out, then closed the garage door before driving on. The journey from the working class suburb to the wealthy city centre took 40 minutes, traffic was very heavy.
Victor didn’t feel comfortable. Something just didn’t seem right, maybe someone recommended him from within the Russian community but there were other Russian plumbers much more committed and professional then him.
He made his way to the entrance at 41st street off 5th avenue, he had just passed the barriers, when a burly security guard in a black suit, standing at 6 foot 2 stops the van, Victor rolls down his window.
The Security guard had an east European accent ‘let me see your ID please!’.
Victor hands over his Driving licence. The security guard takes a look at it. ‘Thank you Mr Lenko, please take a right and your parking space is right beside the elevator.
Victor followed his instructions and waiting at the door were another two security guards, just as big and stern whom seemed to be carrying a fire arm under their suit jackets. Victor began to feel uneasy. He checked the sock of his left leg to ensure his weapon was still there and concealed.
He got out of his van, and opens the rear door. The first security guard approaches again ‘Mr Lenko, please, you do not need your tools, come this way!’.
Victor felt more uneasy ‘What sort of plumbing issue is it, you may not have the tools’.
The guard speaks again ‘Please Mr Lenko, this way,’ As he points him to the door.
One of the security guards at the door opens the door and makes his way inside where he is followed by the security guard going in. Another security guard is waiting inside.
Please come in here for a moment as the first security guard invites him into a small room. ‘Now Mr Lenko we need to search you for weapons’. ‘What’s going on’ Victor asked as he spread his feet and arms out.
The other security guard pats him down and finds the gun and flick knife and hands them to the first security guard who speaks again ‘Please Mr Lenko, you have no need for these, nothing to worry about, we will return after your visit with Mr Ivanovich and Mrs Ivanovna.
The security guard places his knife and gun in a safe and locks them. ‘This way Mr Lenko’, as the guards lead him out, through another double door and finally to a posh hallway with several elevators. The first guard calls an elevator. The guard hits floor number 63, all the way to the top to the penthouse suites.
In his head Victor was preparing an escape plan, he often worried that maybe those days were not behind him.
Eventually they reached the top and stepped out. The hallway was beautifully decorated with a plush Persian carpet, floral wall paper with fine artwork and massive mirrors with gold frames. On front of them was an entrance of two huge oak doors, again there were two more burly security guards, this time holding sub machine guns. Victor was really uncomfortable now.
‘Please Mr Lenko, nothing to fear’, as one security guard places a finger print on a panel to the left of the door and they open.
There was only one Penthouse the otherside of the door. This time 4 more body guards stood the other side. Armed with bigger machine guns, and if that wasn’t ugly enough the beauty of the pomp of the entrance to the penthouse was ruined by a big heavy bullet proof door.
‘Unfortunately, Mr Lenko, these are the times we live in!’ acknowledging the amount of weaponry.
The security guard looks into a cameral above the door and it soon open. ‘Please’, he states as he directs Victor to enter the Penthouse.
Mr Lenko is taken back by the shear luxury and wealth on display. expensive artwork, rare antiques, diamond encrusted door handles. Designer furniture, portraits, luxury he could only dream off.
The security guard opens a door to the left of the hallway. In at the corner next the window on a cell phone is what must be another security guard in dark trousers, white shirt black tie and wearing a shoulder holster. A heavy set man about 6 foot is sitting down, wearing a grey suit and blue shirt, thats open at the neck. He has dark hair and is in his mid fifties. Beside him is a blond lady about five foot five, slim, in her late 40's. Her pretty face was beginning to show some stress lines and both had tired bags form under their eyes, she was wearing a dark cashmere jumper and dark pants, around her neck was a diamond encrusted necklace.
The heavyset man stood up and extended his hand ‘Mr Lenko, it is a pleasure, I’m Yuriy Ivanovich this is my wife Sasha’. She remains seated and puts out her hand, they both exchange pleasantries. She takes a sip of wine and he notices some sadness in her tired eyes.
‘May i get you a drink Mr Lenko, i have some beautiful Vodka with gold flakes’.
‘No thank you, I don’t drink, and please call me Victor’.
‘Very well, I don’t drink either, not good for the mind’ as he points to seat for Victor to take opposite him and his wife.
Yuriy Ivanovich gingerly sits back down lets out a big puff of air like it was an effort, his wife looks distracted and takes another sip of wine.
‘Victor, we need your skills’. Victor adjusts himself in his seat and takes in his surroundings ‘certainly what is the plumbing issue, though your men wouldn’t let me bring my tools up, so hopefully i can fix it without them, unless i can get them if I need them?
Mr Ivanovich leans forward ‘Its your other skills’.
The hairs were beginning to rise in the back of Victors neck, he gives off a fake laugh ‘Mr Ivanovich, please take no offense, I am a plumber, I have no other skills that can be of use to you’.
Mrs Ivanovna hands him a brown envelope, ‘please open’ she pleads ‘Your real name is Ivan Popov, you commanded Spetsnaz Special Forces in Chechnya, Afghanistan and Georgia. You won top awards for your leadership and war zone skills, respected among your peers, feared by your enemies’.
Victor opened the envelope inside were photos of him in official military uniform, with his unit, sitting on a tank, and one of him detaining prisoners. He shifted uncomfortably in his seat
‘Mrs Ivanovna, I don’t know where you got these photos but they are clearly fake, my name is Victor Lenko, I am just a plumber’.
Mr Ivanovich continued ‘look it is you, we’ve been watching you, you still train like you’re in the Spetsnaz, you watch your diet, you go shooting and please its Yuriy and Sasha’ as he points to both himself and his wife.
‘Yuriy, i really don’t know what to say, I’m Victor Lenko, I’m sorry but I can’t help you’.
Mrs Ivanovna steps in, taking a sip of her wine
‘You wanted to leave the war life behind you and the states provided you with a new opportunity, so you got the name of a dead man, false papers and set up a new life for yourself, nothing wrong with that, I admire it, but Ivan Popov is needed now’, she takes another sip and wipes a tear from her eye.
Victor rubs his left hand along his jaw bone ‘I am done with battlefields, I have made many enemies, I wanted a new life and a new identity, I know it was wrong to do what i did but i could get that here, no one would know who I am. I am not proud of how I done it but I’m living a simple life’.
Mrs Ivanovna was about to speak when her husband puts his hand on hers and continues instead ‘Ivan, it would be a pity, if the authorities were to find out who you really are, help us and we will help you. We will get you set up in Australia, we have business interest there, if you don’t want Australia, we’ll take you somewhere else’, you will be paid well, we need you.
Ivan was sorry he didn’t have a vodka now. ‘I’m not sure, how I can help you!!’. He looked around his surroundings again, this was one scenario he was unsure he could get out of.
Mrs Ivanovna, takes another sip of her wine, turns to her husband ‘tell him now!!’.
Mr Ivanovich clears his throat. ‘I have business interests in Georgia, Sashas mother was from Georgia originally, we do not go back to often, anyways, Some people in Georgia, don’t like the fact that I am Russian and doing business there, we have a secure home in Tbilisi, we mainly use for business. Our 3 children (as Mrs Ivanovna, hands him across some photos of them and wipes some tears from her eyes.) they like to be involved in our Businesses, Petra 18, Yuriy 22 and Yana 25, so they went to do some property business deals and catch up with a great aunt. Behind our backs, enemies were plotting against our businesses, the deal were to be a trap. Luckily we always plan for something like this. We got a tip off that a gang was coming to abduct our Children, they managed to get out of Tbilisi with the help of some allies, and they are now in a safe house in Ambrolauri. They’re safety could be not guaranteed at any airport. We have a few allies there, sadly more enemies. Our Enemies know they are in Ambrolauri, we have to get them into Russia as if they find them they will kill our allies on the spot’
Mrs Ivanovna, takes another sip ‘they want to kidnap our children and use them as Pawns to take our entire Georgian business empire, I tried to reason with them as I am of Georgian descent but they called me a traitor’, she grabs some tissue from a silver container and wipes her eyes ‘If we don’t give them what they want they will kill them if they find them’ and breaks down sobbing.
Mr Ivanovich puts his arm around his wife ‘Vladim Petrov, is head of our security, he fought alongside you, he speaks highly of you, said you were the best leader he ever had, he heard of your new ID and we found where you are. We have put together an elite team of 8 of your ex and finest Special Forces comrades, 2 former SAS, 2 former Israeli special forces and 1 ex Irish Ranger sniper. We need you to lead this group of men to our Children and get them safely across the Russian Border. I have sourced some recent ex-military stock equipment and it is across the border in Georgia with some of the men. We need you to lead it’.
Ivan lets of a sigh ‘what about the Kremlin, can they not help, surely you have contacts there’.
Mrs Ivanovna lets off a sarcastic laugh ‘The Kremlin, does not like us, we tried but were told this was not a national issue, a brick wall, yet if it was some others i could name the Special Forces would of been in and out by now with their Children' she takes a moment to compose herself 'Our enemies have spies watching us!!, we have been confined within this appartment for the last week, they are watching us and we fear an assassination attempt on our lives here too until our Children are out, please, I beg you', she pleads as she takes another sip of wine and dries her eyes again.
Mr Ivanovich nods at one of the security guards who comes along with a black duffel bag and opens it up ‘There is $200,000 dollars in there, it is yours if you take the job and another $300,000 once you bring our Children back to Russia’. Your men get $300,000 each, you get more for leading. Your employer will be compensated for your absence and we’ll create a story that you are leading a new plumbing company we are setting up in Moscow. You will be paid well. You will never have to pretend to be someone else again.
Mrs Ivanovna takes another sip of her wine ‘please Ivan help us and bring our Children safely back to us, plans have been made in getting you and the rest of the team across the border into Georgia’.
Victor looked at the bag of money, if he didn’t take the job, deportation and or jail awaited him.
He stands up ‘very well, I will assist you!!’. Mrs Ivanovna stands up and goes over and gives him a hug ‘thank you’.
Mr Ivanovich stands up and shakes his hand ‘thank you, now we must make plans, you must leave as soon as possible’. They both make their way into another room, leaving Mrs Ivanovna to her wine.