Tag Archives: the long con


My hotel was in fact one where Amer­i­cans stayed, and as Valentin pre­dict­ed, it there­fore had very good vod­ka. I don’t drink very much, as a rule, espe­cial­ly when I’m in com­pa­ny where keep­ing a clear head is a good idea, but Valentin insist­ed, and very quick­ly I real­ized I was actu­al­ly drunk. When I […]

The meeting, second half

I gen­tly pushed Valentin ahead of me. He plod­ded duti­ful­ly after Petrakos and I trailed after him. Adren­a­line made my hands shake. I took deep, slow breaths, will­ing myself to calm. I can hurt and kill when I have to, but I am not a brute like Valentin; the fear I had pushed off in […]


The wind was mov­ing faster as I fol­lowed Valentin through unfa­mil­iar streets. We were rac­ing the sun­set, the air grow­ing cold and mov­ing faster as the light ebbed. I turned up my col­lar. I’ve been to Rus­sia more times than I can recall and yet the cold always sur­pris­es me. The traf­fic on the sidewalks […]

Volgograd, the second

The peo­ple who move in the mar­gins, the pre­tenders and tyros who think them­selves sor­cer­ers because they’ve read a few books or called up a for­est spir­it, believe that the body and the mind are ene­mies; that if you choose to walk the path of mag­ic, you must neglect the strength of your body. This […]


You there. I’ll give you five thou­sand rubles for your chalk.” The boy on the side­walk looked up. It took him a few sec­onds to focus; he had the dull, slack face of a hero­in addict. Tourists walked by with­out look­ing at his half-fin­ished draw­ing of the Krem­lin or the cap he’d placed next to […]

The meeting

And at some point I guess I’ll have to explain who Valentin is.

Snippet, the second half

And what are you call­ing your­self these days?” he said. “Something Amer­i­can, yeah? To go with that bloody accent?” “I could talk Lanky if it makes you feel better.” “God, no,” he said. “I wouldn’t under­stand what the hell you were say­ing. But real­ly, what is that? It’s like you have a grudge against the […]

Another snippet from the long con

Some­one did not quite slam a pint glass on the table in front of me; foamy ale sloshed out of the glass and soaked the cheap coast­er. I looked up to see Atlas sit­ting in the booth across from me. He grinned and toast­ed me with a glass of some­thing that was near­ly black. “Cheers, […]