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David Gilbert

How I Became a Realtor (in Exile)

     How could I expect to sell sunglasses on a beach without tourists? 
     The locals moved slowly out from the hot palm groves to make vague offers for my athletic shoes. After they'd had fun -- I call it fun -- they disappeared into the palm groves again. I was not sold on selling and I must tell you that I was wearing a money belt stuffed with travelers checks; I had not exactly thrown myself -- black attaches in hand -- on the mercy of this spent country. 
     After walking a few days on the beach, I met a fellow expatriate who spoke highly of the northern beaches. Orel, a government man (ours), assured me that I could make a living  -- wealthy tourists in droves! -- without specifying just how or in what manner. Despite his bush leanness and stamina, Orel's fine features were fatigued and exaggerated. He needed the very relief his agency was there in name to provide. Yet, as if I were his assignment, he provided a mosquito net, then meals of fish and beer.
     The days I spent marching north on the beach -- when I did not feel as though I'd been led astray -- were carefree and spectacular in color. The sounds of birds in the bush quieted only when an occasional child arrived to watch as I splashed through the surf. I paced myself, learned to snack on fruit and sleep afternoons in the shade. The march went on for a few weeks, then one night Orel arrived in a Land Rover with beer in a bucket of slushy ice. He was in the middle of an operation, armed, sweaty and wary of the bush.
     "You need a story. Tomorrow you'll meet the Big Man."
     "What about the resort?"
     "What resort?"
     There was no point in arguing. I could not return to the coastal town where I'd first started working the beach.
     "The Big Man has a compound. He has lots of friends. Maybe you'll become one of them. I put in a good word for you."
     Orel drove back into the bush.  _____      Armed guards woke me, confiscated my attaches, then noisily complained when they found sunglasses, designer knockoffs. As we walked along a lovely stretch of beach, a bevy of young women, mostly Europeans, were splashing in the surf and waving as we passed. I asked if there was a restaurant.
     No, there wasn't.
     The stucco was loosely troweled on the peach colored buildings. The largest of the buildings was distinct with a huge dish of the flat roof and alert security men about with walkie talkies. The smaller buildings had tin roofs and there were many of them -- a shanty town spilling into the palms. An asphalt road lead off inland into the bush. 
     Without pause I was taken to a large room. Fans spun overhead on stuffed furniture of bright fabric and folding chairs casually arranged around a huge TV. CNN was running silently as if a meeting had just adjourned. A small woman in dripping beach attire  --  there were puddles of water under the deck chair --  read from a glossy fashion magazine.
     "What does this word mean?" she asked petulantly holding the magazine with a word pinned beneath her finger. She was not exactly a child and her unplacable accent did not make me feel at home, as if I should have expected to feel at ease. As I made a move to identify the word, disfigured by her wet finger, a door opened and a big man, no doubt the Big Man, entered smiling as if he'd caught me making a move on his woman. His welcome was needlessly familiar. 
     "You may call me, Eduard. Please sit down.” 
     Eduard spoke very well -- an English university, I thought.
     "As I understand, you are looking for work?"
     "Yes."
     "Let's say that I buy your sunglasses, then what will you do?"
     "Well, I came to take someone's job."
     "Mine?"
     "No, of course not."
     Eduard settled impressively in a chair. His huge body was just turning to fat. The remote, small in his hand, was poised in the direction of the small woman with the magazine.
     "The only work in our country is grave digging, so must I assume that you have either gone mad from the sun or that you are a brazen provocateur."
     "Neither. I just decided one day to immigrate to a poor country and find a job." 
     "You wanted to travel?"
     "No, I wanted to take a job in a country without jobs. I wanted to take someone's livelihood!"
     With that outburst, I shifted uncomfortably in my chair. My story was not only unbelievable, but I was wasting Eduard's time. Unlike the girl,  I had nothing to offer. Fortunately, after considering my mission, he was amused.
     "When you've finished helping Petra with her reading, you will find Orel and kill him. That is your job! You will be taking work from one of my men."
     "Thank you very much, I'd be happy to do that."
     My fawning disgusted Eduard. He left quickly, no doubt regretting his offer.
     The young woman, Petra, became impatient and threw the magazine down as if English were as remote as the fashion Capitols of Europe. She turned as if to be held, but I didn't dare. She was done up like Lolita, Eduard's pet. I feared that they were setting me up. He would step back into the room while I was offering comfort.
     "You must do his business," said Petra. 
     "Yes, I will. Why are you here?" 
     "You don't know?" she said.
     "No, I just arrived."
     Petra had a pouty look like a figure skater after a fall. 
     "My father was an advisor to this horrible country -- not very good advice, I'd say by the conditions. Eduard was in the government and they became friends. Now they are business partners, in the private sector."
     "Sector" stuck in her throat.
     Something was not right, not the least my shooting Orel, if this was my job and not a ruse to make me appreciate my guest status.
     "Are you in the private sector?" I asked.
     "No. My dance troupe came to perform in the Capitol, in many cities, but there is civil war. If you haven't noticed" --  her muscular legs squirmed -- "we're trapped. The beach is nice, but we must leave soon. It's not safe. I have no need to be gang raped."
     "How will you leave?"
     "Eduard says we're leaving soon. I trust him. You'd better leave with us if you know what's good for you." _____      My travel agent argued vigorously for round-trip tickets on a reliable airline that landed in a secure airport, but I took a one-way and managed to bus around an entropic civil war to make it to the beach. Shooting Orel, whether by command or as a job offer, was, I feared, expected. Eduard was as serious about eliminating Orel as a problem as I was about taking someone's job;  this was my opportunity, there was no other way I could think of it. _____      "After you shoot Orel, I have another job for you.” Eduard had settled in for a movie with several of his cronies. He spoke over the upcoming features. Where the hell was the war I thought? "You can chaperon the dancers. My eunuch died a horrible death."
     As if on cue, his cronies laughed. They were kind enough to offer me beer and a chair for an action film.
     "Can you tell me more about Orel?"
     Eduard muted the movie to everyone's displeasure. 
     "Orel plays all sides, but who doesn't? Unfortunately, he has begun to interfere with my business. Ever since he started paying condolences to a widowed missionary, a delicate young woman with several toddlers, he's taken a strange moral highroad. Morality of all things!"
     Eduard unmuted the movie and moved to the end of the couch to continue speaking in privacy.
     "He's found religion, but was doing better with drugs."
     The dance troupe, still in wet bathing suits, began to file into the room. They flopped on the unoccupied seats between Eduard's cronies. 
     "You will prove that you are not an agent by shooting him." _____      The next day, I was outfitted with a bullet spraying pistol and a Land Rover for my duties as eunuch. The Land Rover was loaded with the most restless of the women (wearing my sunglasses) and I drove them to their favorite beach. They skinny-dipped and rehearsed nonrepresentationally with the thematic machetes, while I practiced shooting palm tress. The dancers were mostly street kids, would-be escorts and ex-strippers who believed that they were accruing scholarship money in Swiss bank accounts. Stranger things have happened. Not the least my ability to fell small palms by zipping across their soft trunks.
     The beach outings were so successful that we went daily. My job as chaperon quickly took precedence over the disposing of Orel. Eduard was strangely paternal toward Petra and the dancers. Bored with shooting palms, I ventured into the bush to look for a moving target. As I reloaded, Orel stepped out on a path like a flat target at a police academy.
     "Now's as good a time as any." Orel slouched against a palm. "My people?"
     "As far as I know I'm working for Eduard."
     "He works for them. And now you also work for them."
     The exaggerated verdure was adversely affecting my sight. I had 
to shoot or flee.
     "If you don't shoot me, I'll shoot myself. If I do that, you'll be of less value. Eduard can't rely on the kindness of others."
     "What's this with you and the missionary?"
     "Her sincerity is really quite touching. You know her husband stepped on one of Eduard's land mines."
     Orel was full of shit. I raised the pistol. In a drug induced fever,  he said something about not pointing guns at people unless you were going to use them. Some Boy Scout canard. In the distance Petra was honking for my services. They were dressing one another. I did like this chaperon moment when they yakked away and brushed sand off their bodies. The honking became insistent and I heard my name called in unison. 
     The pistol jammed.
     "Some other time," he said. "But I won't always offer myself. Some days I'm upbeat." _____      Canvass-tented troop trucks idled on the asphalt. Troops hooted at the sight of the women walking to their quarters, as if the tarmac were a fashion ramp. But the soldiers were not here for servicing. Eduard waved his hand at a map for the benefit of his staff. With elaborate salutes all around the trucks began to leave.
     Eduard escorted me into the empty compound. A servant arrived with beer. After I carefully put the pistol on the table next to the beer, I tried to make myself comfortable.
     "It jammed,"  I said. "I was as close to Orel as I am to you."
     Eduard took the pistol to a widow overlooking the ocean and fired a short burst. Security men jumped into the room, guns drawn. Eduard waved them away.
     "He knew why I'd come."
     "He knew?” Eduard found a second pistol wrapped in a clear plastic bag. He handed it to me. "Someone on my staff is in his pay."
     "Orel doesn't value his life."
     "His passport has been recalled. If he doesn't care about his life, you will oblige him!"
     Eduard found the channel he wanted. An interview with a French cultural critic denouncing, I gathered, exported American culture, late capitalism and other horrors. After few minutes of this, Eduard, glutted by the diatribe, muted the TV.
     "Do not shoot him near the clinic."
     "The widow?"
     "Yes. Now, after this program is over,  I want you to bring all of the women here. By the way, do you speak French?” 
     "No."
     "Go now. Take your beer." _____      The troupe's compound was always a scene of contention. I did not enter without helloing and waiting a moment before stepping around the partition. If they where not dancing, they were playing cards, reading the available magazines as best they could or arguing about God knows what. I declined to settle quarrels or offer opinions on any of the conflicts that arose. Living in a small room in the same structure and driving them to the beach made for more socializing than I really wanted, given their unavailability and the surliness that arose from their forced captivity. My bottle of beer caused a stir. It was the promise of lunch with Eduard who forbade unauthorized drinking. They were ready to assemble, ready for anything.  _____      Eduard stood before us in his full military presence.
     "As the enemy moves closer, I am more at risk.” Petra made a throat slitting gesture as translation. "If I'm dead, I can't go to that damned bank in Switzerland and God knows they like other people's money.” Petra was persuasive. "No money" was on the lips of more than one woman. 
     Eduard made a call on his walkie talkie and ordered the men, dressed as Eduard, field shorts and shirts, to be brought in. They stood before us in a row, a lineup. Eduard had a few words for them, walked to the window, then back across the room before he took a seat. Each of the men said a few words, walked to the window as if offering himself to an assassin, then returned to the line.
     The women viewed the men as if they represented both work and pay. Finally, Eduard stepped up, took each man by the arm, and stood with him. The men were frightened, no matter how successful they were in imitating Eduard's swagger. We were to applaud for those who could best double as Eduard. The first round out applause passed without a winner; we were too eager to please. Each round simulated the preceding applause, no doubt directly influenced by the repetitive machete gestures in the dance. A second time through five doubles were eliminated leaving three. The losers were dismissed with remuneration. The winners were taken away. Eduard's favorite was put in a Land Rover and immediately sent to the front as bait. _____      Asking Eduard to document the work I was doing for him was easier than I thought. Without hesitation he promised documentation of employment to send home to my co-workers at a chain store specializing in electronics. Yes, I had been fired for a bad attitude, a big mouth and problems with my coworkers. Now I was happy to answer to the Big Man. Authority and criminality are also diversity, as I had not learned in a diversity seminar to foster brotherhood among VCR salespersons. It was this much I wanted to send in a letter to the corporate offices. I had found work in a poor country and the work was for a strongman who did not pretend to be other than what he was.
     We agreed that a photo would be taken of me with the dancers. Great preparations were made as if a bikini calendar were being shot. By late afternoon all the women were made up and Eduard was dressed in full military regalia with his pants rolled above the incoming surf. With a point and shoot camera, a servant shot several rolls of film. The women were under the impression that the film would be sent somewhere in the US and they would, if not be discovered, at least appreciated. 
     Before Eduard left for the interior, we had a beer and he informed me that I could have several of the photos to send home after I'd disposed of Orel. That was the precondition for the documentation. Not only would I shoot Orel, but the servant would take a photograph of me with Orel as a trophy. I would send the dead Orel photograph as proof of my employment.  _____      In the morning Eduard's servant, Cardin, brought me a substantial breakfast. After I'd finished, and was about to take a nap, he returned and said that we were going for Orel. He seemed to know where to go as we set off into the bush. I carried the pistol and Cardin the camera. I was ready to finish Orel for no other reason than I was bloated and unhappy to be out in the bush.
     Cardin stopped often to wait for me to catch up. He sensed, correctly, that I was losing my nerve. We were several miles on a broad path that was by now far from the trade winds. If I did not shoot Orel soon, I would not make it back to the beach. We stopped when the path was about to cross a road. We would wait there for Orel to leave the clinic. Cardin had several grenades in his shoulder bag. He was, I thought, was one of Eduard's body guards, hardly a servant and certainly someone who could leave me in the bush beside Orel if I didn't perform.
     A scooter, after a long advance, stopped. The messenger informed us that Orel was en route. Cardin was ready to lob grenades and I would follow with the pistol firing through the door and window. Cardin also had a pistol in his bag. He squatted by the road with a grenade ready. The assassination went by very fast and I must say there were moments when I was exhilarated. I did like firing into the Land Rover, but was less enthusiastic about chasing it down the road for about a quarter of a mile until it finally stopped against a tree.
     Our approach was tense. Cardin opened the door and I was ready to finish Orel, but he was dead enough for a photo. I hated buddying up to a corpse. I was quite bloody by the time we were finished and we weren't in a part of the world where splattered assassinations were in the best interests of public health. _____      That evening we had champagne in Eduard's room. The women danced crazily, working on their piece. Petra stopped them occasionally to demonstrate a phrase. The dancers were much smaller than Eduard who insisted on participating in the rehearsal and threatened to dance with them on their European tour. He mingled with a bottle of champagne and a photo of me sitting on the passenger seat next to Orel, who was suitably bloody and propped upright behind the wheel. The photo had some totemistic quality; later Eduard clipped it to fit in his wallet.
     The party came to an abrupt end. Eduard was not as drunk as I thought. The women were sent to pack. Eduard informed me that we had to leave the country that evening.
     "You may come with us to Switzerland, if you'd like," he said. "You'll drive the dance troupe." _____      Our border crossings ended several long days later at a duty-free shop in an airport where we waited to board a chartered plane that would take us to Europe. The duty-free shop was the site of a change in command. Petra stepped front and center and forbade her dancers to by jewelry or perfume. This was not a popular decision. They were allowed to buy watches, cameras and upgrade their CD players. There was, I believe, an agenda in Petra's tirade against certain luxury items that she claimed would undermine performance. I
believe the thrust of her message was that perfume and jewelry were for whores, not artists. 
Risking Petra's ire, I accepted an oversized watch and a box of fine cigars, Eduard's gift. _____      We landed in Europe and boarded a small bus. Petra's father provided the bus and driver for the dance troupe. The tour was under way and I was told that I was the manager of the company. What could I do, my internship with Eduard was over. I had made the claim that I wanted work and the troupe's itinerary would take us east to immigrant and refugee producing economies. But had I proved a point? Had I really taken a job from some poor bastard in a ruined country? The answers were unclear and Eduard had the photos. All I had to do was step into a bus with the dancers. It was a cruel turnabout. I  didn't need to travel around the world to pack and unpack the machetes.  _____      Eduard left quickly with his advisors for Geneva in an armor plated Mercedes. He was eager to be rid of the troupe, after all, they'd been delivered safe and sound. He sped away on urgent business. Not urgent enough, though, for him to take me aside and tell me to watch over the girls and he would take care of me in Geneva when we had finished our tour. _____      As we headed north for friendly audiences, Petra and I were the only two on the bus that had not had -- I should speak for myself --  any recent sexual activity. The boyfriends arrived and the troupe was safely sexed in parks and roadside rests. The dancers with partners were very sexy, laughing all day long as the bus moved along the autobahn. As the unsexed, Petra and I sat awkwardly together in the back of the bus.
     "You are a goon," she said as a response to my claim that I could always find work s a mercenary or a drug runner or a gofer for someone's mob. She was quick to point out that we had not shared a blanket in the park for that very reason, I was becoming a goon. I reminded her of a type of man she was all too familiar with -- the aforementioned goon, tough guy and amateur nihilist with a short life expectancy. 
     "You were more attractive," she said, "as a eunuch. But when you shot that awful American, you were no longer sexy. You became a fucker."
     Was this her plea for me to quickly regain a certain grace so she could get laid?
     "Your dance is about wielding machetes on your neighbor and sharing the guilt," I said, "not wealth, among the people."
     "Yes," she took me by the hand, "but you must not be one of them." 
     Her eyes suggested a weeper in later life, wed to a series of awful men, goons. 
     "If I hadn't killed him, I wouldn't be here." _____      We made out that night in the bus, but only made out. She was stronger than I was and conflicted by her saltpetered vision of a mass hackathon, the poor killing themselves as a final unpaid service. And she reminded me too much of a vegetarian I dated in college.  _____      The dance was well received as we zigzagged through small towns. When we arrived in cities, word of mouth and some advanced press put audiences in place, ready to dance in concentric rings around the performance. By this time I had become invaluable for my pedestrian  movement that mocked the intentionality of the piece with a bad impression of martial arts, recalling the bloated Dolomite with his vicious kicks to his foe's shins. 
     After a riotous performance -- skinheads sent running for cover -- I got laid in a Bohemian hotel on a canal in Amsterdam. If I've said anything derogatory about Petra, I take it back. She can talk all she wants. _____      "Don't worry," she said, "I'll tell him you're not my boyfriend. That will save you much trouble."
     Petra's father, Dimitri, a pretty boy who'd taken one on the nose, wore the crispest suit I've ever seen. His entourage set up a table and chairs under an abandoned windmill, then spread out in defensive positions. A turf war was on and it knew no boundaries.
     Lunch was long and noisy. I made myself as comfortable as I could with wine and deli. Petra and her father argued. When he took a phone call, she offered a translation as she picked at the food.
     "My father thinks I'm wasting my time."
     "Dilettante," he said, if I did not mishear.
     "He wants me to go to Brown. But if I were in that university, I'd just be another rich kid from funny money. It's such a cliché."
     "You don't like my meelions!” The moiling of millions was so loud that his body guards had to be waved away.
     They argued again. Petra on the verge of tears, Dimitri practicing anger management. 
     "He is suspicious of you."
     "Are you a loser?" asked Dimitri.
     "No, I'm not," I said. "I'm enterprising and adventurous."
     "Eduard likes you," said Dimitri regaining his composure.
     "Where is Eduard?" I asked, as if after a tennis partner.
     "You'll see him soon enough. I have a job for you in Los Angeles. We'll talk."
     "No father. He's working for me."
     "We'll talk later."
     Dimitri waved for his entourage. They left quickly, Petra on her father's arm until the car doors slammed shut.
     "You must never work for my father." _____      As we moved East, body guards arrived and followed us in two Land Rovers. One of the bodyguards looked like Orel as he might have looked after successful plastic surgery. He smiled thinly, knowingly, like a wigless aristocrat or a witless convert, smiling even as we passed through the displaced dragging their belongings along the side of the road.
     My contact with the Orel simulacra, as I thought of him, was minimal. There was no reason for him not to identify himself, unless he was holding a grudge. Obviously, I had been part of his retirement plan. Petra knew who he was and forbade me, as part of her degooning plan, to ride in the Land Rovers or have anything to do with security. By this time, I too believed that I would be paid in Geneva and was willing to toe the line.  _____      In art countries audiences will eat shit out of a bowl if they think they are in the presence of new art, even if it is of little significance. We were no longer in art countries and this was no longer the case. The dance received mixed responses as we traveled and performed around hot spots. Clearly, whatever the intention of the performance had been, it was devolving into the unintentional, defensive, yet cruel parody of local politics that did not need parody of any kind.
     When we could not get passed a road block manned by drunken goons, the tour came to an end. Our security people negotiated, worked the fax machine and offered money, but it was no use and too dangerous. After Petra put the tour's continuance to a vote, the bus turned around on a narrow mountain road and headed back toward Geneva and the promised holiday for the troupe. _____      Lake Geneva changed everything. We partied in Eduard's house, in tents on the grounds by the lake and in a big boat that sailed in circles as if itp;  &nbs were about to disappear down a drain. The gaiety came abruptly to an end when a young man from Minsk nearly drowned. As he spit up champagne on the deck, the dancers shouted for their payday. 
     "I will call my father," said Petra. _____      The dancers scattered across Europe with money and big ideas. 
     With her father's gold card, Petra turned into a clothes horse. Her cultivated conscience was lost among the international brigade of shoppers. I accompanied her to Geneva and carried her bags  -- goon work if there ever was any! -- back to the boat. It goes without saying that I liked her better as a choreographer with no control over her material. 
     After a few days of shopping, I was summonsed to Eduard's office, a computer clogged room overlooking the lake. He was finishing a conference call with Orel claiming loudly that "they could do it.” Eduard had been a more romantic figure as Big Man and my patron. Now as an investment banker, he was vulgar, fat and not flattered by doing business with Orel. The deal that brought them to Geneva had been done. They seemed to be awash in money. Eduard's cronies and bodyguards were more conspicuous now that the dancers were on the road and they did not have to behave.
     We finally talked business.
     "You're working for Dimitri," said Eduard.
     "I am?" I said standing in the doorway. They didn't really invite me to sit.
     "Are you sleeping with Petra?" asked Orel.
     "Do I have an assignment?"
     "A Realtor in Los Angeles," said Orel laughing as if here were the designated laugher in the organization. "When you did me, you made yourself a reputation."
     "I'll do it," I said, in part to quiet Orel. "But I want a silencer."
     "Do you think this is a James Bond movie?" said Eduard pecking at his keyboard as columns of numbers ran down the monitor.
     I did not view myself as disposable and working cheap with the expectation of a stay in prison. And I didn't have the all-too-American longing for loud bloody gun play with the outcome of death and harsh punishment for criminal, the dark miracle of "closure" for all parties involved. I planned on popping the bastard in some obscure place. No bloody footprints on the way out.
     "I can fit you out with something," said Orel.
     The fact that I hadn't really shot Orel still bothered me. I had gone through the changes only to find that I had been used to provide him with a new and plausible identity. 
     "I have the photos you wanted," said Eduard with an envelope in his hand. "You can look at them, but Dimitri doesn't want you to take them just yet. If I may say, it's really very petty."
     The photos were mostly beach scenes with the troupe. A few with me standing by the Land Rover with a bloody Orel slumped over the steering wheel. Eduard took the photos and fed them into his shredder.
     "You and Petra are flying to LA tomorrow," said Orel. "Dimitri has a nice property for you to live in."
     "Orel, tell me if I'm off base, but is there a missionary widow with two kids?"
     "Sure, she's in Utah right now, but we're going to be married next summer her  on
the lake. A double wedding would be romantic, wouldn't it?" _____      We settled in a condo that was close to (but not in) an important neighborhood. We were able to jog by the coveted property. Everything was, as is said, fine, even exciting, despite not having formalized our relationship with a defining talk. At my worst moments, winded and lagging behind my very athletic partner, I could see an expiration date that would bring on a curdling of the relationship, if not in our condo, in an overpriced ranch style house in a canyon clinging to a hillside. 
     The pistol and silencer arrived at our front door before the job. The delivery boy (and shakedown artist) was someone Petra knew and did not like. She abused him as he gave me a quick lesson in assembly and breakdown. Then he was out the door before Petra could call home and complain. Armed, I waited for word from Dimitri -- the name of the Realtor. 
     My assignment came, but it was not what I expected. I was to get a real estate license and watch Dimitri's property. He was having problems with the grand jury and chose to remain abroad. This was good news. Petra and I were tired of living on Dimitri's largess. After leasing a Lexus and dressing me in thug-Versace, she took dance classes and began to organize another troupe dragging strange dancers home for auditions.
     By the end of the year, I had my license and was shadowing the "Realtor to the stars." My job to sit in on all negotiations and, if necessary, intimidate the Realtor, so he would not take kickbacks for undervalued sales. Naturally, I assumed that I would not be the one to shoot him, if he proved to be dishonest. At showings, I arrived early and made a point of taking at least on shot at a hillside, a tree, firewood or floor joists if I could get a shot without having to crawl under the house. I even went so far as to drive to the very store where I had been employed thinking I could shoot a speaker under the cover of demo hip-hop, but I couldn't get the shot off without being caught. The Realtor did catch me once when I shot a beam in the cellar. I thought he'd come to inform me that the shot had continued through the house and hit a prospective buyer. The Realtor was there to ask in private, to plead if necessary, if Dimitri was happy with business. Yes, he was, I said. And I was very happy as a Realtor, I added without the slightest irony. _____      In the summer we were summoned to Geneva for Orel's wedding. Orel delivered the invitation in person appearing at an open house as a prospective buyer. He brought his bride and boys. Apparently the bride was under the impression that they were actually buying and fell in love with the place. We made arrangements to dispose of the weapon, which I had just used on a preposterous nymph spitting water in the pool. The water dribbled down its chin.
         We left the country a few days before we were indicted by the grand jury.  _____      The wedding on Lake Geneva was a dual wedding, Petra and I and Orel and his bride, Ann. It was a lavish affair on the lake until a cigarette boat appeared  suddenly while everyone was dancing to a cheesy rock band. Hooded shooters stood and strafed the party. Several guests were hit. The formidable assembly of drunken security people managed to sink the boat with a barrage of automatic weapon fire. They dragged the bodies ashore and discovered the unmasked assassins had been sent by a warlord to assassinate Eduard. Dimitri could not forgive Eduard. I drove Dimitri and Petra away from Eduard's compound while the opposing security forces drunkenly opened fire. _____      Orel and Ann are now living openly in Park City. Orel is no longer a jack Mormon. Petra and I are living in seclusion beyond the reach of extradition. I hope someday to return to Los Angeles with Petra and renew my license. I'm sure the Realtor to the stars would help me get started. Just before I left, he told me he was grateful to be alive. 


David Gilbert  is the author of two books, I Shot The Hairdresser (Detour Press) and Five Happiness (Trip St. Press).  He was co-editor with Karl Roeseler of 2000 and What?: stories about the turn of the millennium (Trip St. Press), which includes work by Frederick Barthelme, Harry Mathews, Etel Adnan and Linda Rudolph.  He is 
currently finishing a novel, Crime and Dancing, and a collection of  stories, Cold War.

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