These are stories about a man who is not alive anymore. He was a financier, a retired intelligence officer. I had the good luck to arrange a couple of financial frauds. We bumped into each other before the recession, in the flood of shit, together in the dust.
After his death I still had the power of attorney.
Of course, Victor knew I wouldn’t be able to work on his contacts. I had tried. Now it’s funny to think of it. I am, and always have been, a go-between, a rat. Nobody needs middlemen. They get rid of them; they send them to Hell. But I had a white shirt with a necktie, and copies of million dollar contracts for oil, gas, diamonds, and rare-earth metals: light as air, rolled fax sheets with lots of zeroes. They made me giddy; they made me drunk. And I ran along with them, and easily foisted them onto the middlemen: muddy, middle-aged misters.
When some of the first deals failed, I went into hysterics. I wanted to throw everything in.
Once I had a dream. In my dream, I heard a telephone call,
“Miss Schlegel? We need your signature to extend a contract concluded by Mr…”
I woke up scared; something turned over inside of me. I realized that I was spending my life waiting for such a call. It didn’t matter where it caught me.
But there was no going back. Once you’ve taken a step forward, you realize you can’t turn back anymore.
Why did he leave all this to me? I looked over the papers, recalling past years, deals, people, talks: everything from the first meeting to the last minute. And I couldn’t find anything for me; because it wasn’t for me, actually, but for the old me. So I changed. I became a con.
My life was changed. Sometimes it was as convincing and disgusting as the life of a whore. It was as inaccessible as the man who despises you. It was like vomit or sweat from the body from a heavy hangover’s shivers. You wish to run, but there’s no place to run to. It’s a cold stupor. So it’s stupid to look at the smeared corpse on the road, and it’s impossible to regain consciousness to look away. This passion nests in the heart, and you don’t know what it is.
I have his photo, the last one, taken at Arkhangelskoe hospital. Summer. We’re sitting on the edge of a dried-up fountain. He embraces me with one arm, and I’m lost next to him. He is gray-haired and corpulent. He has a mocking look. And behind us there are towering white marble angels.