Birth of an Assassin
Moscow, Russia: 1947
Early September and autumn advanced alongside a cold north wind. Fifteen-year-old Jez Kornfeld pressed on, passed through the grounds of the Kremlin and stopped in Red Square to admire the splendor of St Basil’s Cathedral. Thoughts of how Ivan the Terrible had blinded the architect to prevent the creation of another edifice as beautiful sent a shiver down his spine. But then he turned full circle and his heart beat rapidly. He sighed, “Moscow.”
He’d stood too long and his body shook with the cold. Threadbare clothes hung loose on his narrow frame and the chill marched through without resistance. He hunched his shoulders, pulled his muffler tighter, pushed it under his collar, and hugged the jacket close. He should move on. If he could find a recruitment center and enlist today, he’d be in a comfortable bed by nightfall and would have taken his first steps to becoming a soldier.
He’d snuck away from his hillside home after his father had told him to put foolish dreams aside, wait a year, marry and settle down. He couldn’t do that – he wouldn’t. He hadn’t wanted to slink off in the shadows like a chicken thief, but he had to follow his destiny: he would be a soldier – whatever the cost.
Recollections faded as two young soldiers bundled through the Kremlin gates behind him. They pushed and shoved at each other like children.
“You’re a good lad, Private Krupin… huh, sergeant’s little creep, all you did was go for his cigarettes,” the taller of the two taunted.
“You’re jealous because he said I’m doing well. And he thinks you’re a bit – what did he call you? – oh yes, dim.”
Before the laughter cleared Krupin’s throat, the taller youth had hooked an arm around his neck and wrestled him to the ground. They tussled in the street but the one who’d taken the initiative held firm.
“All right, all right, I give in,” Krupin squealed.
“First, tell me what you are… come on.”
Up until now, Jez had watched without expression, but when the soldier ground his knuckle into Krupin’s shaven scalp, he winced.
“No, don’t… oh… what am I?”
“You’re a creep, come on, tell me.”
“Yes, I’m a creep, a creep. Ouch, fuck, that’s enough, let go.”
He let go his hold and both men got to their feet, dusted off their uniforms and slapped their berets against their thighs. Krupin put his cap on askew, took out a crumpled pack and tapped a couple of cigarettes from it. Firing up both, he handed one to his comrade.
Jez was about to walk on, but then he brightened and went over to the soldiers. Maybe they could help.
“Excuse me, sirs,” he said. “I’m looking for a place where I can sign up to become a soldier of the Red Army.”
Krupin sharpened his glare, looked Jez up and down, and for a moment appeared to turn away. But then his gait changed, he smiled, gripped Jez by the shoulder, switched his attention.
“Red Army,” he sniggered, “yes, of course. If you carry on straight up Nikolskaya Prospekt, you’ll come to Dzerzhinski Square. Cross the plaza and pass the statue. Beyond that, you’ll see a yellow building with grey brickwork at ground level. That is the place you seek.”
The taller of the two pursed his lips, leaned over and exhaled a thick blue line of smoke that clouded and fogged around Jez’s head. His eyes watered and the fumes from the cheap cigarette rasped his throat. He wanted to protest, but instead said, “Thank you, sir. I’m grateful for your help,” and walked away with the directions firmly in his mind.
The soldiers continued with their banter and Jez heard snippets. “Krupin, you are a bastard”, “Dzerzhinski Square”, “Red Army” and “but the way his eyes watered…” Even with a good distance between him and the men, he still heard them scream with laughter.
He shook his head and smiled. The soldiers weren’t important. He had the information he needed.
Genre - Thriller, Crime, Suspense
Rating – R
More details about the author