Daughter of the Bear a Thriller Mystery (Blog Fourteen) by Dan Watt, author of Brackish, and Queen of Caelum, References at bottom of page.
Peter the Great always had little people around him both for entertainment and for comfort. This is an interesting contrast since Peter was six foot seven (200.66 cm). Perhaps his fondness came from a matter of trust.
He uses the cellphone he talked to Ana on to find a private flyer. Next he looks up the fastest way to get to Pushkin Airport. Its 11 a.m. St. Petersburg time, it will take approximately nineteen minutes to take a taxi to the Pushkin Airport. That gives him an hour wait before the pilot of the AeroVolga LA-8, an eight seat propeller driven seaplane, flies him just over 6,000 km in twenty to twenty-four hours to Komsomolsk-on-Amur. That should include refuelling at Kryzl Airport just above the north- west border to Mongolia. The pilot has already agreed to land him on the Ozero Myliki, and dock on the lake’s north-eastern shore by road R454.
He makes another call. After a number of rings he hears silence. In Russian he says, “Because one fears wolves, should one not go into the woods?”
“Though the place is crowded, nobody will mind if you join in,” a gruff Slavic voice replies.
“The bird will land near the road with wet feet. Iakim Volkov is tanned and hurt his nose.” His last words are original and could be comprehended so he hangs up. He had mentioned to Marina’s Uncle Dmitry that he felt like a dwarf in comparison. That was a long time ago and he hoped the retired colonel remembered. He’ll have to buy survival supplies in case Marina’s uncle doesn’t pick him up on R454 after the plane lands.
After he glues on a large prosthetic nose, and thick brown eyebrows, he uses some of the cream to darken his hair and make his face appear naturally darker. During his years with Intrepid he knows some agents couldn’t use prosthetic noses because of allergies and he’s thankful he doesn’t have such a problem.
He takes a taxi to the nearest Survival Market (паракорд и фурнитура). Inside he buys a backpack, sleeping bag, army blanket, plastic canteen with adjustable weaved belt, granola and protein bars, waterproof matches, a knife with many implements, and a very nice throwing knife. Next he tries on hiking boots and an all-weather breathable jacket. Lastly he buys an emergency kit, small cooking set, and a bottle of Aquatabs should he have to purify water. The store clerk fills up the canteen for him.
Before he leaves, the clerk asks him if he would like to buy any bear repellent or if he has a gun license to buy a rifle.
“No thank you,” he says making his voice sound deeper and cockier.
Interview with Blacksmith Sandra Dunn of Two Smiths by Dan Watt (interviewer) and Peter Samuel (cinematographer).
To reach Sandra, enroll in a blacksmithing course, or see some of the work Two Smiths has done go to:
Daughter of the Bear Mystery-Thriller (Blog Thirteen) by Dan Watt, author of Brackish, and Queen of Caelum, References at bottom of page.
Законы ловят мух, но отпускают шершней.
Laws catch flies, but release hornets.
He catches Cy glancing at him in the rear-view mirror with a look of concern.
“Are you okay Erwin?” Cy asks. “You look pale.”
“Just tired,” he lies.
“Where are you staying?” Achojah asks.
“The Atrium Hotel,” he replies. “Nice, affordable and fits in with my old man appearance.”
“You’ll have a brand new luggage bag when we drop you off,” Achojah tells him. “Cy and I are here for another week. Our business card is in the luggage bag with all the other things Ana thought you would like to have. You call the number and say Perseus.”
“We’ll just hope none of our American colleagues are listening in,” Cy adds with a chuckle.
Cy steers the car in front of a yellow, rectangular building with a turreted corner.
“Let me carry your luggage inside for you uncle,” Achojah says as he bounces out of the car.
“Stay safe and we’ll meet soon,” Cy says reach back to shake his hand.
“Luck would be good,” he replies.
“And much luck,” Cy adds.
He gets out and walks with a limp making sure the cane supports his weight.
“Perseus,” Achojah whispers to him as a reminder while carrying his luggage inside, all the way to front counter.
Acholjah gives him a big hug and says out loud, “Take care uncle, we’ll see you soon.”
In his rented room he looks out the window at the busy Executive Committee Street. Tomorrow he needs to find a private pilot to fly him to Komsomolsk-on-Amur. He uses his one cell phone to detect any hidden cameras or hidden bugs for listening in on his conversations. After a walking through each room he finds everything clear.
With time to kill he opens the brown and white checkered luggage bag Cy and Achojah gave him.
The first things he sees are two boxes of Backwoods Russian Cream cigars. At first he thinks this is strange since Cy and Achojah know he doesn’t smoke. He takes out the first cigar box and dumps it out. His eyes widen in surprise. Lying on top of the scattered cigars is an MP-443 Grach. He opens the magazine and sees it’s full of armour piercing bullets. There are two more clips in the box. It’s also a heavy weapon. What did Ana tell them I was up against?
Next he dumps the second cigar box. This time lying on top of the cigars is a much lighter and preferable gun: an AF-1 with light polymer body and ambidextrous magazine release. The box also has three more magazines and a silencer he assumes was not legally made.
He pulls out a box of Alpen Gold cookies. He opens it and after a few cookies finds an assortment of prosthetic noses and eyebrows, and a small tube of makeup glue. Underneath are two reversible jackets, a dark brown and grey wig, and two jars of skin moisturizer. He assumes the moisturizer will either tan his skin or make it age. Inside the interior pockets he finds a used car sale card written in Russian. Negasi must have set this up. That means Ana called him first so it could be sent immediately to Cy and Achojah. He places his palm in the centre of his chest and thinks on her name with love and thanks.
Daughter of the Bear (Blog Twelve) by Dan Watt, author of Brackish, and Queen of Caelum, References at bottom of page.
Achojah waits with him outside the front doors of the Tsar while Cy leaves to get their car. “It’s good for you to correct Cy,” Achojah tells him.
They are speaking in Russia but he can just hear a tinge of Urhobo accent. He remembers Negasi preparing himself and Achojah to infiltrate a drug cartel in South Africa. As Negasi was complementing him on his plainness and ability to blend in Negasi added that he wished Achojah were smaller and less fit. ‘He is nearly the perfect spy you know,’ Negasi told him. His skin can be lightened or darkened so easily. And his nose is neither long nor flares out so prosthetics is easy. If only he didn’t get the genetics for muscle and height from both his parents. ‘And I got my father’s physique and both my parents’ skin tone,’ he had said in reply with a semi-true lament. ‘Yes, you are just plain but your skin just won’t darken. You’ll be fine in South Africa. Achojah though, can work almost anywhere.’ ‘But the orient,’ he added. ‘But the orient,’ Negasi had agreed then added, “Though Ana can.’ Remembering that conversation makes him long to be with Ana.
A bright green Lada Priora pulls up to the curb. Achojah pretends to help him into the back seat before putting his carryon bag and cane in the trunk. From the backseat he sees Cy push onto the top of a black, globe shaped object attached to the top of the dashboard. A rainbow coloured light flickers all around the diameter for ten seconds.
“All secure,” Cy says as he grins into the rear-view mirror. “What’s going on with Baby Bear?” he asks in Russia but this time allowing his Spanish accent to show.
“She’s made a company called Morok Industries very angry,” he says with a sigh. “A Viktor Ivanov asked me to find her so she can debug the software she added a virus to for whatever they are doing.”
“Mia, who owns Morok Industries?” Achojah asks towards the globe.
“Morok Industries,” a female voice replies in Russian, “is owned by the Prevoskhodyashchiy Family.”
“Mia, who is Viktor Ivanov the CEO of Morok Industries?” Achojah asks.
“Viktor Ivanov CEO of Morok Industries was born Vladimir Yefimovich Ivanov. He is a geologist and economist. He is also a member of the Prevoskhodyashchiy Family.”
“Mia, what does Morok Industries specialize in?”
“Hydraulic Fracking. The company has infuriated environmentalists by negotiating to restart hydraulic fracking even though it was banned in 2012.
“Mia, what is the Prevoskhodyashchiy Family known for?”
“There is speculation that some of the family members continue to trophy hunt and are involved in the sale of endanger species.”
Achojah turns to him. “Anything else?”
“No, that’s enough for now,” he says as cold sweat pours down his face.
I purchased John Holland’s poetry book Dry Bones as a gift for my librarian sister-in-law. I won’t comment on the book because poetry is personal. I did read it before I gave it to her. The only regret is that I didn’t buy the book directly from John and ask him to sign it. After reading Dry Bones I wanted to read more of his work so I purchased Heartland.
Listening to Johnny Cash sing Nine Inch Nail’s “Hurt” and to Mazzy Star’s “Into Dust” made sense while I started reading John Holland’s Heartland: Four Novellas set in the Australian Outback. But as I continued to read I think listening to David Bowie or Peter Gabriel singing Heroes made even more sense.
The environment and animals are uniquely Australian but the human essence of the stories could take place anywhere.
Each story drew me in as though I was a character sharing the same experiences as the main characters.
All the stories could easily be made into a movie or mini series. And considering John’s background there is a great deal of sage advice mixed into the telling of “Left of the Rising Sun”. Knowledge that could save someone’s life.
The ebook and paperback are available for Kindle and Amazon Books.
Enjoy! And Keep Safe!
Daughter of the Bear (Blog Eleven) by Dan Watt, author of Brackish, and Queen of Caelum, References at bottom of page.
The Tsar restaurant is in St. Petersburg, Russia. The design of the restaurant with its painting and antiques took two years to complete.
He pays and thanks the taxi driver as he climbs out onto Sadovaya Street. Leaning on his cane he opens the left door of the double doors to the Tsar. Inside he sees the padded square and round seats. The white starched table cloths with the clear teardrop glass chandeliers overhead highlight the gold framed paintings of all of Russia’s tsars. Sitting on elegant couches against a wall at one of the tables are two athletic men wearing pink polo shirts and gray slacks. He immediately recognizes them as Cy Torres and Achojah Couture: Handsome and Gorgeous. He coughs and taps his cane three times.
As the two men grin and walk over to him he feels like an old man and hunches over more. They both dwarf him.
“Uncle,” they say in unison and lead him back to their table pulling out a chair across from the bench they were seated at.
A female waitress in black and white comes up to their table. He notices her eyes are solely on Cy and Achojah until at the last she asks him what his order is.
“Too bad we didn’t get one of those cute waiters,” Cy says as the waitress leaves.
“No, it’s better to have a female,” he replies gruffly.
Perhaps it’s just a defense mechanism; a reminder that he’s heterosexual. It’s also to remind Cy that certain talk about gender in Russia might be overheard and cause trouble.
When he was twelve a friend told him about all the muscle magazines his father had collected. His friend’s father gave them permission to look at the magazines so long as their hands were clean and they were very careful. He and his friend were awed at the physiques of both the men and women. There was one bodybuilder who looked like a Greek god and always had gorgeous fitness models hanging off his arms in the magazines. He and his friend both sighed and agreed they wished they had the bodybuilder’s muscles and good looks. As they looked through more and more magazines they found an article that baffled them. The same bodybuilder married another male bodybuilder.
That memory brought on both bad and good memories. When he was fourteen his mother suggested he join the local YMCA. He usually went with the friend whose father had all the magazines. Unfortunately his friend got sick with pneumonia and had to stop for a while so he started going alone. To relax his muscles after exercising he would go into the steam room. One time he went into the steam room and a short time later he heard the door open. He could see the wispy image of a heavyset man. The man set his towel beside him. He moved over. The man slid beside him again so that the skin of their bare thighs touched. ‘I saw you working out and was impressed,’ the man said and placed his hand on his thigh.
He froze until the man’s hand started sliding farther up his thigh. At that moment the man became the scarecrow. He pinched his index and middle finger together so his middle finger was slightly bent and drove the fingers just behind the man’s Adam’s apple. The man instantly began to gag and cough.
He still doesn’t remember changing and going home. When his mother saw him she immediately asked him what was wrong. He shook as he told her.
‘Did you kill him Mikhail?’ she asked.
‘No, I don’t think so,’ he had replied.
‘Would you recognize him?’
‘No,’ he replied again.
‘If he is a pedophile I hope you did kill him,’ she said with a snarl. ‘If you recognize him or he bothers you again, let me know but first let’s wait a few days.’
Over the next couple of days there was nothing in the news about someone dying at the local YMCA; he never returned to the gym.
The memories kept coming. When he was in the German army they went for a trip over to England to see the London Tower and check out some of the pubs. Not a big drinker he went outside of the pub they were at and saw some of his group with others smoking dope. An English man with unruly white hair who looked to be in his early sixties was telling them he was a soldier in the Falklands War of ’82. ‘Saw my best mate evaporate in front of my eyes,’ he was telling them. Someone asked if there were any gays in the army at that time. ‘I use to hate homosexuals,’ the man replied, ‘but you know what? After getting severely injured they were the only ones who came to see me at the hospital.’
Another time when he went with his friends to England he overheard another man he guessed to be in his early thirties talking about his army experiences to the bartender. The man was in a wheelchair and may have been gay by his tone and gestures. He thought the man sounded Canadian or American. The bartender asked him how he was doing and the man had replied with teary eyes, ‘Great for someone sodomized by men from his own patrol.’ The man went on to say he had finally won his case against whatever nation’s armed forces he was a soldier in.
The last time he was in England he bought Andrew Hodges’s book Alan Turing: The Enigma. He wanted to learn more about Turing’s work on Artificial Intelligence and other scientific work. It was amazing what Turing accomplished. He helped break the Enigma machine and was a pioneer in the development of artificial intelligence. He was also instrumental in defeating the Nazis and ending WW2. Likely there was a political or scientific reason for suddenly accusing him in 1952 of gross indecency for being gay. Because being gay was a crime he was given hormones and permanently banned from working for the Government Communications Headquarters. He died in 1954 of cyanide poisoning. Whether from suicide or because it was one of the chemicals he was using in experiments is up for debate.
He didn’t understand homosexuality but some of his friends are and electrical shocks and hormonal injections weren’t going to change their preference. What he had learned over the years was to distinguish between gender preference and sexual predators.
Cy and Achojah were not only partners they were legally married. Ana had introduced them to him about ten years ago as her very protective pseudo older brothers. But while they were in Russia helping the Russian Federal Drug Control Service everyone knew them as cousins who joined INTERPOL together.
The waitress places his Beef Stroganoff in front of him, waking him from his reverie.
“The bill goes to me,” Cy tells her with a charming smile.
“We are sorry we missed your birthday uncle,” Achojah says. “Let us drop you off after dinner and give it to you then.
Thankyou Ana, he thinks as he smiles at the two Adonis’s. The ride will give him a chance to ask about Viktor Ivanov and Morok Industries. Knowing Ana, Cy, and Achojah the present would be supplies he could use as he searches for Marina.