Friday, September 9, 2011

Interlude Stories: Colin Graham


Previously published at Paul Brazill’s You Would Say That, Wouldn’t You?

Sequel To The Enforcer

He felt sick with euphoria as he reflected on what he had done in becoming yet another monster in the family line, only this time emerging as by far the worst. He had always known he had this in him, waiting to come out someday.

Lying on the hillside wiping blood from out of his beard, Andrei Klopotkin couldn’t remember being more numb with exhaustion and sheer transgression, with the slaughtered multiplied in his midst. He alone must have accounted for dozens of them, lying there a few metres below, bashed jaws making the faces look even more incredulous, the limbs somehow acrobatic in their lifelessness. Collapsed there, fatigue rubbing into him with its kindly massage in this brand new silence, he felt safer than ever. He had won. And this was in large part because he had blood splattered all over his hands, body and face, after robbing families of their fathers, sons, husbands and brothers. Thanks to Andrei and comrades, many were now without mothers, daughters and wives as well.

Stalinist bludgeoners both, Andrei’s grandfather had dispensed of people, battering them through the door of their doom, and his father had culpably reduced them to gibbering wrecks, aside from the truly defiant ones, a phenomenon he could never quite work out. But now things had taken a different turn and he, Andrei, had engaged in sheer butchery, delighted in it as well. The enemy were just carcasses made to be such. He had mowed and hacked them down with relish.

His father, Sergei, a decrepit bitter wreck, full of vodka, slander and even perhaps a sliver of guilt, told his only born not to go and fight with the monarchist Chetniks in the falling-to-bits Yugoslavia, the notion jolting his Communist sensibilities. But Andrei’s bull-headed defiance pleased him too. He loved his son and adored his will to make a difference, something he had never done, or so he thought.

It was the 1990s, the Soviet Union as Sergei had known it had been ground into dust and he was lost. A dead man slugging contraband vodka, increasingly all that was available to the likes of the ex-KGB man. Poisonings were legion, yet the hooked were indifferent and indeed poured the muck into themselves with boggle-eyed voracity, wanting to end it all the coward’s way.

Andrei had gone through his own phase of self-desecration. He and his friends used to hang around in the courtyard near the block, disturbing the neighbours until the early hours, imbibing that ubiquitous 40% proof sludge that their parents were fatally addicted to. But the younger generation did so hedonistically, with a handle on the future: intoxicating their bodies with a smidgen of hope along with the usual, predictable despair.

With Yeltsin came the possibility of travel, if you had the means, and those could be had by robbing people, Andrei found. Soon, he’d amassed enough dollars to get out of the hell hole he called home and on hearing from an acquaintance that there was money to be made by being a bad boy down in Bosnia, he decided to make his way there. Escape just saw Andrei dive ever deeper into the inferno.

But to begin with he wanted to enjoy himself so he boarded the day-long train to Odessa to get some sea air. But after a couple of trips down to the beach he found himself getting bored again, so he mugged a couple of foreigners whose strange languages had made his ears prick up. It amused him to see them beg so incomprehensibly and fruitlessly for mercy as he smashed their faces in. Then, his libido began nagging him, particularly at the sight of all the scantily clad women around. He picked one up after reeling off his irresistible, sociopathic repartee, took her back to his room and raped and beat her, tied her to the bed to go out and get some beer and cigarettes then returned to repeat the deeds. Andrei certainly had his bit of fun down by the Black Sea.

Soon, however, this wasn’t in itself enough to detain him and he set off again through Hungary where someone was foolish enough to try and steal his luggage while he slept, as always lightly, on the train. The knee in the face that Andrei treated the thief to as punishment sent his features shattering backwards into his skull, concave-like, in one gloriously adept act of assault. The Russian then threw the culprit out of the window.

Alighting in Belgrade, Andrei got himself a room at a hotel he’d been told about by his Moscow acquaintance. It was shabby but Andrei wasn’t one for being unduly concerned about his surroundings, as long as no one bothered him and the place was quiet. He met two fellow Russian men in the bar and learnt that they too were keen on heading south to earn some mercenary cash. They had also made contact with the right people in Belgrade who could sort the logistics out.

One thing led to another and in two days time he was in a jeep heading towards Bosnia with a group of eight other volunteers, four of them Russian, two Ukrainian, a Greek and a Romanian. Two Serbs did the driving in turns. One of his new-found Russian friends, Nikolai, had already grown a thick beard in preparation for joining up with the Bosnian Serb army and advised Andrei to do likewise, which he did without a second thought. Soon, his countenance would look back at him from the mirror and Andrei would wonder what was wrong with it, until realizing that the somewhat sage-like character returning his stare was he himself. He took pleasure in the way the facial hair lent his appearance some moral authority while accentuating his virility, his menace.

Training began at a camp in north-eastern Bosnia, near a village which had recently been ‘cleansed’ of its population of Muslims or ‘Turks’ as his comrades often called them. Despite his wayward ways, regimentation came easily to Andrei, who instinctively knew that out in the field the strong bonds forged by it could be crucial, whilst also being keenly aware that in action discipline wasn’t everything. It was hugely enjoyable to be armed for the first time in his life as well. His weapon felt like an extension of self. It completed him. This was one reason, perhaps, that he became an excellent shot, though his bayonet was much valued, too.

Two weeks later and he was up in the mountains with a brigade of Russians and he had already gunned down two Muslim women at point blank range. He liked watching the matter fly out of the heads, like so much food spewing from a smashed container. It was if it represented him somehow. You couldn’t keep a lid on Andrei, after all.

Then his band got to Visegrad in the south east of Bosnia and the frenzy began in earnest. The noise, the smashed up riddled flesh, the fear, the adrenalin, the sheer unadulterated joy of it. Andrei had found himself at last. There was no turning back. The Klopotkin family had seen the last of its sons.

1 comment:

Paul D Brazill said...

Brilliantly dark and brooding story.