I guess it started with that ghost hunting show. You know the one where that bodybuilder dude goes into some abandoned asylum or hospital and shouts into the dark while the infrared cameras are rolling? She loved that shit. Had all the gear, too. Laser thermometer, EMF reader, night vision glasses. It was cute.
She talked me into going. We hung around until after midnight, then went down to the ruin. I brought wire cutters for the fence. We slipped in and started exploring. It was pretty creepy.
Somehow we got separated. I found her stuff. No trace of her.
My old man was an original member of the Jackpine Gypsies. They called him The Kid back then, since he was only fifteen in ’38. After the war, he rode a surplus Chief he bobbed himself. All seasons except February, he’d say.
I tell you, if he seen Sturgis now he’d up and die. All these fat, rich lawyer types towing their fancy Harleys behind RVs and dressing up in three grand’s worth of Schott leathers, pretending to be bikers.
It makes me sick.
There used to be ethics. Honor. Being a biker wasn’t for everybody.
That was the goddamn point.
It isn’t until I go upstairs that I realize somebody is home. Just my fucking luck. They told the neighbors they were going on vacation. Boarded the dogs, stopped the paper. But here I am in the bedroom and somebody is in the shower. A woman, from the smell of the soap.
I search the dresser. Two Rolexes in one of those self-winder cases. A diamond engagement ring on the nightstand. I’d like to find some cash, but there isn’t time.
Then the water is turned off and out she comes, wrapped in a towel. She looks right at me.
Yuri Andrejevic passed the bottle of kvass around the fire. Nicolai Ivanovich merely stared angrily, arms tightly crossed over his belly.
“Oh, did we hurt your feelings, Nicolai?” bellowed the Colonel. “Well, I won’t apologize. Your story is ridiculous. A stone from the sky did all this!” He waved his gloved hand.
We’d been six days riding along the Tunguska river across thousands of versts of destruction, the great forest trees laid flat and burnt to charcoal, the rabbits and deer of the forest lying dead in their tracks with singed fur and blistered skins.
I drank the kvass, wondering.
“Got the last box packed. Where’d you get the flowers?”
“They were on the porch. No card.”
“You think they’re from him?”
“Duh. Who else?”
“Doesn’t he know we’re moving?”
“Probably. You didn’t hear anything? He didn’t ring the bell or nothing?”
“Maybe. The tape gun makes a lot of noise.”
The girl unboxed the two bouquets and carefully arranged them on the table.
“There. A nice surprise for mom when she gets home.”
“Who you gonna say they’re from?”
“No way she buys that bullshit. She’ll scream and throw them out.”
“I want her to see them.”