Thai Me Up

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

Previous Story in the Arc: Evil! by Commie Cowgirl (Sunday, February 19, 2006)

Next Story in the Arc: Arrival by Commie Cowgirl (Saturday, February 25, 2006)

(posted Friday, February 24, 2006)

Thousands of feet over the Pacific Ocean, Adam Stein winced again when he thought of the charge on his Amex for two plane tickets to Thailand… and again when he remembered the acidic tone of his wife’s voice when she discovered he was flying to Thailand with the beautiful – and notoriously seductive – Commie Cowgirl. Only the presence of mind to print out his invoice to her for the tickets had saved his marriage. Oksana would be filthy rich, if Adam succeeded in defending Kurt’s will. Until then, her measly CCCP paycheck barely covered her taste for expensive cuts of steak.

He winced a third time when he recalled the argument at the law office when he revealed to his partners that he was representing Oksana against the Evul Brothers and Kristof Taylor, despite his position as executor of Kurt’s estate. The phrase “conflict of interest” bounced off the walls of the senior partner’s office like a racquet ball. He had thought of Oksana’s tears, her steely determination… her temper… and somehow convinced them to start the paper trail that would cover his tracks. Oksana would pay handsomely, he assured them, knowing that money hadn’t even been an object to her when she was poor.

“Your ears?” Oksana gave him a sympathetic smile.

“My what?”

“Stuffed up from the altitude.” She tapped her ear as if he’d forgotten the location of his own. The stench of her chewing tobacco wrinkled his nose.

“Naw… I mean, no. Just reviewing what I’ll need for the meeting with Kristof.”

“Ah. You’ll be fine, pardner. I seen you in a tussle. You got the teeth of a bear.” She returned to leafing through an Arizona Highways magazine as though it were pornography.

“I’m glad you’re calm.” He fished around for his in-flight peanuts. “I’m not looking forward to this.”

“Pshaw! We’ll stare ‘em down, send ‘em packing, then enjoy a vacation on the beach.” She noticed his grimace. “I’ll fly your little squaw out too.”

“On my dime.”

Oksana shrugged. “Make me rich and bill me. Cowgirls look out for their friends.”

“Thanks.” He paused. “Oksana, you know that Kristof isn’t exactly an upstanding citizen.”

“He’s a varmint, I gathered that.”

“ ‘Thug’ is what I’d call him. He prefers to make his money legitimately, but there a lot of questionable deals. That’s a big reason why he chose not to conduct business in the U.S.”

“Tarnation. And they made me leave my guns on the ground.” She made a sour face that didn’t quite correspond to the fear Adam felt when the entire airport security staff had them covered with pistols. Oksana tossed her guns in a plastic bin as if she were a bandito entering a saloon – scowling as she unholstered two revolvers, a Derringer, a buckknife, a stiletto, brass knuckles, and a menacingly sharp hat pin. Adam had to explain to the security chief that she was a licensed, practicing superhero, with her licensed, practicing attorney. A phone call from Commissar Red Saviour herself cleared the air. Still, Oksana looked very discomforted without her arsenal.

“Remember, we’re here to discuss the will in a civil manner. No shooting, no fisticuffs –“

“If’n they call me a golddigger again I’ll let ‘em know what I think.”

“And no cursing, either. Trust me, Oksana, please. This is my world. We have to play by the rules.” He winked. “That’s what you hired me for.”

“You betcha.” She elbowed him in the side, leaving a welt.

Bangkok International Airport was a sea of faces – yellow, white, black, brown. All nationalities were represented in the crowd. Oksana gawked. Even Adam was impressed at the atmosphere of the airport, as if he and Oksana had come off the frontier back to civilization. They hitched their bags on their shoulders – Oksana drew stares with her leather saddlebags – and pushed through the disembarking passengers.

“Ah, Mr. Stein!” A smooth, melodious voice called from the crowd. Tourists stepped aside to reveal the immaculately dressed Evul Brothers in full glory. Although not twins, the brothers looked identical in black Armani suits, with gold cufflinks and tie pins. Every hair on their heads had been set in place for maximum effect. A product of a French father and Thai mother, their mixed asian-anglo features took the best of each race and mixed it together into a handsome cocktail that knocked Oksana sideways.

“I’ll be damned,” she whispered to Adam. “Them are the Evul Brothers? I’ll take one of each.”

“Careful,” he warned.

“I won’t break ‘em.” Her grin widened her face. “Maybe a little.”

Adam was interrupted by the approach of the older Evul, Yves. “What a pleasure,” Yves Evul said, pumping Adam’s hand. “One of our most beloved colleagues. When we heard you were coming for a visit, we insisted on meeting you here ourselves.” He nodded at his taciturn brother, whose broad, sensual face cracked a smile.

“Welcome, Mr. Stein,” Emile said in a soft voice that listeners leaned forward to hear every sibilant. The three words carried all the meaning of Yves banter.

“And you must be Oksana Ulyanovna Fedin.” Yves pronounced the Russian syllables with a delicate lilt, as if tasting a cup of new tea. Oksana put her hand out to shake, but Yves overturned it to a more ladylike position. “I hope this legal unpleasantness will soon be behind us, and you can enjoy your visit to Thailand.”

“Charmed, I’m sure,” Oksana said, gripping his hand in a normal shake but squeezing until he cleared his throat. “You pretty boys shore got some high-falutin’ manners on ya, but I ain’t forgettin’ that your honcho wants me tarred and feathered.”

Yves smiled at her, with perfect teeth. “Mr. Taylor is grieving over his brother’s passing, as I’m sure you are.” He glanced at his brother. “We felt the language he used in his message was somewhat – harsh, but you will find him far more agreeable in person. He’s quite like his late brother in that way.”

“Let’s agree to disagree on that, gentlemen,” Adam said. “If Kurt saw how you were treating his little lady, he’d have your hides.”

The look Yves gave Oksana was as predatory as her own. “I’ll strive to improve our attitudes. Now, let us retrieve your luggage. Kristof is eager to meet the woman who stole – ah, won – his late brother’s heart.”