From the Story Arc: The Bearer of Strashnyjj, Strashnyjj News

Previous Story in the Arc: Moonlight by Commie Cowgirl (Sunday, February 12, 2006)

Next Story in the Arc: Cash by Commie Cowgirl (Wednesday, February 15, 2006)

(posted Monday, February 13, 2006)

Red Saviour alighted in the front yard of Kurt Taylor’s ranch in a cloud of dust and blue mystical energy. The Paragon Police had cordoned off the ranch, stopping onlookers at the gate up the road. The only non-civil servants present were a few hired hands, Belladonna Aura, and a bleary-eyed Commie Cowgirl in a Dale Evans themed bathrobe. Bella stood with the paramedics, answering questions, while a ranch hand brought Oksana a cup of coffee.

Red Saviour so rarely saw the girl sans hat and bandana that she took a moment to recognize her. Oksana’s pale blonde hair and Eurasian features made her seem exotic in most company, like a pixie that had abandoned the forest glade. What struck Red Saviour was the lack of confidence to her movements this morning. Usually Oksana strode around the city as if she owned it.

Bella noticed her and ended her conversation with the paramedics. “Nat,” she called. Oksana looked up, forcing Red Saviour to give her a little wave of acknowledgement before consulting with Bella.

“Privyet, Tovarisch,” she said in a hushed tone. “Is looking bad.”

“Well, I suppose it could be worse.” Bella shook her head. “Poor Kurt never had a chance.”

“Who did this?” Outrage enveloped Red Saviour’s heart. No one died under her watch. “Council? Tsoo? Could it be Tuatha, who still hold grudge from when Oksana mistook them for game and took home antler trophy from boss?”

Bella winced at the reminder of Oksana’s stunningly poor judgment that day. “No. Something far more inevitable.”

“Statesman. I knew he would turn on us.” It was time for the showdown with the American patriot. The Cold War would never end, it seemed…

Bella blew air out her lips in frustration. “Nat, please. It was this.” She held up a small brown prescription bottle of nitroglycerin.

Red Saviour narrowed her eyes. “Insurance companies?”

“Heart condition,” Bella said, trying to keep the irritation out of her voice.

“Ah, oh, blin,” the Commissar said. “Poor Kurt. He died in his sleep?”

“Not… quite.” Bella bit her lip. “I think Oksana tuckered him out a bit.”

“Tuckered? Tuckered into bed?” Her brow furrowed as she imagined Oksana smothering the old man with a sheet. “Are you sure? Was satin sheet? Those are nyet breathable.”

“What? No.” Bella put a palm to her face. “Nat,” she whispered. “Oksana screwed him to death.”

“Shto?” Red Saviour snorted with laughter, then clamped down hard until her face was as red as her uniform. “Shto, really?” She whispered. “He seemed so healthy.”

“It must have been a heck of a night,” Bella said, stifling a snicker. “I mean, poor Kurt.”

“Poor Kurt, da.” Red Saviour bit her knuckle.

“You should have seen his smile, though…” A burst of laughter tried to escape from Bella’s mouth. She slapped her hands over her mouth, but her eyes teared up. “Oh, poor Kurt!”

Red Saviour fetched tissues for them both to dry their eyes. Every time they felt laughter overcome them, they blew their noses and wailed “Poor Kurt!” until they regained their composure. A paramedic shook his head.

“Okay, okay. I have to do my duty. Are you ready?” Red Saviour folded a stick of Big Red chewing gum into her mouth; she hadn’t smoked for a month, but her tongue had turned bright red.

Bella nodded, gasping for more somber breath. The two women approached the mourning cowgirl.

“Oksana. I have just heard strashnyjj news.” Red Saviour knelt down to embrace the seated girl. She spoke some quick words in Russian, too fast for Bella to follow. Oksana nodded and mouthed “Spasibo, Spasibo.”

“We’re here to support you, sestra. Please, tell us what happened.”

Cowgirl sniffled, accepted a tissue, filled it with mucus, and handed it back. Bella grimaced and tossed the tissue on the ground. “He… Kurt had… It was…”

“Shhh,” Red Saviour said. “Is hard, I am knowing, but police will have questions.”

The words blurted forth in wet, sobbed English. “He made me Lone Ranger and I was so happy and I dragged him to bed and we had a tumble and another and he had asked if I’d consider gettin’ hitched and I said I jest might and we had us another tumble and I guess he didn’t take his pills and I didn’t know and I had an idea where I lean back and he –“

“Enough, Oksana. Take a breath.” Red Saviour pressed her hand. “So you had night of passion with Kurt, and his heart gave out?”

“I reckon,” she sniffed.

“Ah, is tragic like saddest of Russian novels.” Red Saviour glared at Bella, who still struggled with her giggles. “But is no better way to go out than in the arms of loved one.” Bella went looking for water, or tissues, or something.

“He wanted to marry me,” Oksana said in Russian.

“I am sorry. Did you want this thing too?”

Oksana thought for a long moment. “Nyet, but a gal likes to be asked now and again.”

Red Saviour nodded in sympathy, wondering if there was a way to protect American men from Oksana. A warning system, perhaps. “If you need a place to stay, sestra, my apartment is available. We are having new couch. Werry many memories in that house for you right now.”

“Spasibo, Commissar, but you’re in a family way. I’ll just take my old bunk at CCCP flophouse for now.”

“You are nyet without family,” Red Saviour said. “We are here for you in time of need.” She patted Oksana on the shoulder and went looking for the police chief to ensure the cowgirl wouldn’t be charged with manslaughter. Would be hard to prosecute in Russia, she thought. In America, they sue over coffee. Best to hire legal counsel.