By Robert Paulson
I stumbled up the carob-colored wooden stairs of Kvartira 44. Head already pounding, the still drunk hangover of a Tuesday afternoon binge. The Armenian cab driver, decked out in provincial mafioso attire, had overcharged me on my trip to Malaya Yakimanka; a glint of treachery in his raven eyes.
Wet jeans clung with grit and grime to my ankles like a needy child saying ‘daddy, don’t go.’ And just like with a child, I held myself against the wall and attempted to peel them off my legs, one after the other with alternating heels.
Standing in that faux Soviet-style apartment hipster shit hole, airy notes of a warbled soprano cascaded down stairs on the backs of piano-key skis. She sounded like Regina Spektor. All mock-cute Russian girls behind a piano were Regina Spektor. I hope this iteration of Lilith Fair fare trips down the stairs with her piano clanging in hot pursuit of her spine.
This I would have to endure. I rarely come to Russia; my work at RIYF’s New York bureau left me fighting dragons in the very heart of their lair; New York, the godless land which would soon be swallowed by fire and then the sea. Rarely did a truth seeker bask in the halcyon glow of Moscow. The diaphanous house that Putin has built left little room for dirt or skeletons. But then I heard a rat had come to town. And I was here to corner that rat. Having read the wise words of Putin, I was prepared to face the fury of this vile rodent. Lions like myself are used to dealing with far more dangerous vermin.
I turned right at the top of the stairs. And there he was, in the back. Wavy locks of hair the color of an LA beach ashtray stuck to his face; slowly wrapping around his wire-rimmed glasses like golden creeping Jenny. Dishevelled, hipster chic with a neocon heart. I had dreamed of this moment, it seems, for forever. The shill of shills, the grey cardinal of the information war against Russia: Peter Pomeranian. He lazily turned his head towards me in that aloof British way before beckoning me over. I stepped toward him, looked at what was probably the 5th double cognac of the night already half-drunk. I wanted to pick up that amber elixir and smash him over the head with it. But first, answers.
“I’ve been waiting for you Robert, please, sit.”
Without a word, I sunk into the chair, my pulse a not-so-happy hardcore bmp of pure rage; my bloodshot eyes enraged to the point of stigmatic tears.
The bric-a-brac of the hipster hell swimming around my head. Something was off. Another drink perhaps…
“It took me a long time to find you Peter,” I said.
“And yet here I’ve always been,” Pomodoroean replied with a knowing wink, as if his buoyant balderdash was somehow charming or clever.
“You won’t charm me with that bullshit Pomegranatzev, I want answers. Why Peter, why did you do it?”
“Do what” he said with an aloof voice, glancing over his shoulder as if scouting out an escape route, lest he be forced to pounce. But I had him trapped in the corner of this cramped 5th columnist gin mill. I could almost hear the double-time beat of his rodent heart.
“Write those lies Peter, those fucking lies! Every asshole from here to New York is on your fucking unreality trip. You’ve made half the world believe the Third Rome is some gigantic vaudevillian show, while those sodomites back in the West dream of setting the seven hills on fire. Why did you do it Peter, who payed you? Tell me, who!” I screamed, slamming my quivering fist on the table.
“You still don’t see it Robert, do you” he said, frightfully relaxed, with an air of confidence which had seemingly escaped him just moments earlier. “See what?”
“What you’ve known all along, but were always too afraid to admit.”
Everything was so hazy. I hadn’t slept in days, reality a blur from booze, whores, an itchy crotch and sand in my eyes.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“I think you do.”
“No, no…” A flash of light and I saw myself standing beneath the corinthian pillars of 11 Charles Street in London. The Legantum Institute. I pressed my palms into my eyes, another flash. Neo-cons, CIA, MI6, zionists and illuminati, all surrounding a table; the fog of cigar smoke forming halos around demons. Cat-slit pupils of the lizard people all on me. A briefcase, a mission, a, a….
“You got it.”
“We’re the same person.”
“That’s right,” he said, slowly nodding his head before taking another sip from his cognac.
“But I don’t understand this. I work for RIYF, I fight the hegemony!”
“You were looking for a way to change your life. RIYF promised you no future; there is no money in the truth Peter, you know that. But you could not do this on your own; sell your your soul for shill bucks. I look like you want to look and fuck like you want to fuck [wait, what? —ed.] I am free in all the ways that you are not.”
“This is impossible. This is crazy.”
“No, people do it every day. They talk to themselves, convince themselves that NATO-lie is truth and Russian truth is lie. But they don’t have courage like you have to just run with it. Naturally you’re still wrestling with this, so sometimes you’re still you. Other times you imagine yourself reading me online, boiling over with hate because of my…our lies. But little by little, you’re just letting yourself become: Peter Parmahamtsev.”
My head was spinning like a plate on the end of Chinese acrobat’s poll. I tried to stand up but my legs gave out. Gazing around the room, my head on its axis at this shithole antique roadshow of a cafe — the eye of a soviet-kitsch storm. I had become a tilt a whirl going topsy-turvy in tornado alley.
“By the way Peter, there’s one more thing.”
“Stop calling me Peter!” I cried in slurred syllables as the visage of Parmesanzev rolled up behind the whites of my eyes like a frame of film reeled by a projector.
‘That cab driver slipped you GHB in that brandy he offered you earlier. You’ll be out in 3-5 minutes. He’s already outside, waiting to pick you up.” “Waaaaaaiiiiiit….nooooo…””
And then Penguintsev erupted into paroxysms of laughter. His chortles stretched thinner and thinner like steam from a kettle being sucked up into the above-the-stove ventilator. Then his body itself dissipated like wisps of smoke from the head up, until nothing was left but the inner ear echo of a bad dream. And with the smoke gone, there was nothing left but the mirrors. And me, me gripping the glass of cognac, me the post-modern sideshow; me the murderer of truth. Me the NATO shill.
My head continued to spin. A hand on my shoulder. I looked up. It was that Armenian cabdriver, smiling down at me.
“Time to go,” he said with a squeeze, “time to go…”
[Editor’s note: Robert Paulson has not been heard from since filing this story. Following the shocking revelations therein, Paulson, who was only hired as a freelancer and was never an employee of RIYF, was quickly terminated, and by terminated, we mean that Russia has no extradition treaty with the United States. GOOD RIDDANCE TO HIM! FECKIN’ GOBSHITE WAS WORTHLESS ANYHOW!]