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Thread: Grandmaster

  1. #1
    Registered User Steven Hunley's Avatar
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    A knock came from the door, it was Grandmaster.

    “Mister Neb, I must speak with you, and Molly is needed downstairs right away.”

    “We’ll finish this later,” said Neb, ushered her out and closed the door and locked it. Still with his face to the door he whispered something almost unintelligible.

    “The pound of flesh which I demand of her
    Is dearly bought. ‘Tis mine, and I will have it.”

    Then he turned and got back to business less personal.

    “Now what have you got for me? I’m busy.”

    ‘Well,” said Grandmaster, “The same old thing. Money. And something even more valuable.”

    “What’s that?”


    There were rumors Grandmaster had been a boy genius, then a Russian Grandmaster at chess. Most highly prestigious of fellows. Lived outside Petrograd on an estate in the country with his mother and aunt. Government paid for it all. Ate what he wanted, did what he chose.

    Fame brought money, and in a typical youthful capitalist way he wasted it, over-steeping himself in wine, women, and song. After that he was a gambling addict who thought he knew all the percentages and formulas, and positive he could correlate the rules of occurrences that determined the fall of a pair of dice, the spin of a wheel, each card in a hand of cards, and predict every outcome. He indulged in risky behavior, and unprotected sex. Unfortunately, his genius bloomed early in life, and now his intellect had withered. Never again would he experience the shining moments of his younger years, or savor its tender triumphs. While living in a dingy studio next to the Babylon, the government still paid his rent, but from a different end of its benevolent spectrum, ten Kunas a week, only one step away from homeless.

    To console himself he’d bedded down with opium. Under its calming influence, his flame of youth had dwindled to passive dying embers, hardly enough to keep the man warm. At one time he was able to look ahead, predict the future, and plan his future moves. But now he spent more time falling behind, lost in reverie. Addicted to his poisoned dreams, unwilling to escape, he preferred to clutch at fantasy with crippled hands that had lost their grip on reality. Sometimes geniuses are so focused on genius they lose sight of their limitations.

    “I can wait for news. In the meantime we’ve received a new shipment. One from Chile and one from Bangkok. Let’s get down to business.”

    Mr. Neb turned towards a portrait of the Madonna. Her eyes did not show, just their lashes, and she wore a blue cowl over her hair. She possessed a sad expression, eyes downcast, face tender and delicate, patient, the face of a sainted mother who was more than any saint.

    “It’s a wonderful painting of Mary.”
    "Yes, I agree. It's my most valued possession."

    Mr. Neb stood within arm’s length of the frame and after making the sign of the cross, he reached out and opened the hinged frame like a swinging door in a saloon. Inside was a safe, and with a twist left and right it was open. There were bags stacked against either wall. He took one from each side, avoiding their protection in the middle, and placed them on Grandmaster’s portion of his desk. At the same time Grandmaster plopped down a stack of Croatian Kunas and another of American greenbacks.

    “One white, one black, isn’t it?”

    “Yes, that will do.”

    “For now.”

    “Yes…for now, always for now.”

    Mr. Neb picked up the stacks of paper and put them in the safe.

    “You know, the white is the very latest product. Our associates in Chile.”

    “It doesn’t bother you that they’re all ex-Nazis?”

    “Not in the least. Besides, they owe me a few favors. I was one of the agents who worked for Odessa, in charge of the local ratlines. I find it best to no longer think of them as war criminals, but rather as struggling chemists in need of a market. One should always keep labels up to date.”

    “That’s a good way to look at it. I can never fault Germans when it comes to their knowledge of chemistry. You know it’s extremely busy down stairs tonight. I’m simply dragging. I have much work to do for you. Can I do a small sample here? It would perk up your best pair of eyes and ears immensely.”

    “Only a little, you know how you get.”

    “I’ll control myself. I know what I’m doing.”

    “Got your knife?”


    Grandmaster took out a pearl-handled switchblade he got in Damascus. Its bright metal gleamed in the light. Both sides of its polished blade were nasty sharp and cut both ways.

    He held the glassine bag firmly to the table like a pig and poked it with the tip. Releasing the bag with one hand he maneuvered the blade under his nose. Taking his free hand he placed the tip of his middle finger over one of his nostrils. With the other he made a quick sniff. The substance disappeared.

    “Nice, no sting.”

    “Yes, I believe it is extremely clean. These German’s know what they’re doing.”

    Grandmaster reached for the bag to put it away. Neb caught him, and pinning his wrist to the desk with one hand, with his free hand he scooped deftly with his long finger nail and imitated the grandmaster’s action. The strength in his hands was insane.

    “You don’t mind? I thought you’d never offer.”

    “Why should I? You’re the boss.”

    “Yes,” said Neb, and looking up at a cloud that wasn’t there, decided, “It seems that I am.”

    He put the tip of nail in his mouth and tasted it. To get down to business, grown men think of coffee, youngsters think of Coke or Pepsi fizzing its way down your throat. But to Neb’s way of thinking,

    ‘This is the only pause that truly refreshes.’

    His eyes were dilating already, as if they were hungry. “Well, what about the information? What have you?”

    “Someone has a hand in your till, a trusted employee.”

    “Is that so?”

    “It’s costing you quite a pile. I’ve been keeping watch, it’s been happening almost on a daily basis.”

    At the same time the substance was snapping the synapses in Neb’s brain, the same thing was happening to Grandmaster, and he was getting bolder with each passing second. He was eager to dish out information, but to feed Neb by the teaspoon full, rather than overload his plate.

    “I say almost because the only days it doesn’t seem to happen, are on Molly’s days off. I have the figures right here.”

    He patted his pocket.

    “The b*tch! In knew she was up to something.”

    Neb started to pace. With each step he grew more disturbed.

    “I give her a job and help her out and what do I get? Nothing but disrespect!”

    He stopped in front of the balcony and looked out. The sky was dark and brooding. Thunder crashed in the distance and rain began to fall. Soon it was pouring down with a vengeance, and the thunder clouds were so near they were almost on top of them. The interval between thunder and lightning was so close you couldn’t count the distance between in seconds.

    Grandmaster saw beads of perspiration begin to form on Neb’s forehead, and noted his chest heaving, and decided to egg him on.

    “Of course I suspect the other employees have a hand in it too, but not half as much as Molly. The problem is, they’re following her example.”

    Neb started seething, his hands began to shake.

    “She never cooperates! Never gives me what I want, much less shows respect. Now the American is stupid enough to bite the hand that feeds her! Well, we’ll see. I know how to deal with her kind.”

    Neb returned to the safe. He took out a Walther PPK and then gathered up the bags of powder off the desk, one black, one white, packed all three in a shaving kit bag he located in the desk drawer, then shoved it towards Grandmaster.

    “Take care of her for me,” he suggested.

    “You mean?”

    “I mean… take care of the b*tch.”

    He patted the shaving kit affectionately.

    “Show initiative. Demonstrate ambition. I know you can do it. I have faith in your abilities. Once a grandmaster always a grandmaster. We both believe that, don’t we?”

    “I’ve always believed in good works buying redemption.”

    When Grandmaster was outside Neb’s office he hesitated to go down the stairs. He wanted to savor his moment of triumph and strategic planning, and marvel at its execution. Now each and every penny he stole from his master would be accounted for, and blamed on his favorite scapegoat, a simple American girl.

    Grandmaster wasn’t just at the top of the stairway; he was on top of the world.

    ©Steven Hunley 2013 AC/DC Sin City

  2. #2
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    In the full smoke and ashes of outburst sensualities,* does he live and digest.

    Well captured.

  3. #3
    The Wolf of Larsen WolfLarsen's Avatar
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    Nice. Good. Delicious.
    "...the ramblings of a narcissistic, self-obsessed, deranged mind."
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