Charming Vlad ‘The Blade’ Putin was sculpting quite an impressive bust of himself in the showrooms of influential New York design circles. He had a slipper chair upholstered in red mohair nicknamed in his honor by Angelo Donghia, a tufted ottoman in charcoal microsuede dubbed by suave Christopher Hyland, and he inspired a stringy wall hanging with razor blades, wampum, and crystal orbs that perked up an executive elevator leading to a private balcony overlooking the fragrant East River. He was on a first name-dropping basis with Holly, Sally, Billy, and Dakota. Drumpf, Jr. was impressed not only with all he’d heard, but seen in the flesh. The man had moves, that’s for sure. He was known to dance all night at Studio 54 in tight Levi 501’s and polished black boots with his shirt off, causing quite the stir in the packed back rooms, and be doing roadwork in Central Park at ten. And then begin to spar with a flunky using twelve ounce gloves before noon. He could pull off wearing a red handkerchief in his left pocket and a blue handkerchief in his right, ready for anything. That did not even begin to describe how deeply open he was to new experiences. Paisleys, damasks, chintz, no problem. Adapt, no problem. Elude, no problem. Defend, no problem. Attack, no problem. It helped, as it always does, to be a natural blonde. Those who snidely called him Douche Putin were all wet and slimy green with envy, that’s all. Opinionated analysts with rent controlled apartments on the upper Westside and poorly paid free lance journalists who could not compete.
“His sneer makes me shiver.”
“Such cold eyes.”
“Cruel and unusual.”
“A big show-off.”
As if. But, those in the know knew. Vlad was on his way to creating a revolutionary new brand of mythology in prime underground time. His latent soul had been set aflame late that very first night on center stage when he danced with graceful Rudolf under the hot lights. A vision of a vast obedient empire came to him. Whip the froth until rich and gooey and eat it up. How so yum and so very yum. He swore he felt the warm, glowing presence of St. Alexius, and the gnarly fingers of Peters, I, II, III caressing his lats in tandem, as the infinite depth of his pure Aryan spirit was released and set free to rise and engorge and expand.
Why New York? Why Berlin? Why not St. Petersburg? Why not all Russia?
Why not be the hardest, the strongest, the best of all eternal time? Why not slip and slide both? Who’s got the ice? Who lasts longest? Who’s cooler than cool? You got something better?
Even if that late night illumination was early morning mist.
His swelling chest, glutes, quads, and abs surged with a feeling greater than brutal ambition from that moment on. Also, his groin. He wasn’t unfeeling like his enemies claimed. Au contraire. The truth was far more twisted and complex than that, The truth was he in fact felt so much, so deeply, so uniquely, and on so many convoluted levels of unconsciousness at all times, that he was burdened by exceptional needs. Anyone exceptional could see that. Exceptional needs require exceptional efforts to reach minimal satisfaction. Even as a burden becomes a blessing. What more than satisfaction is so vital to be had? Just like profit. A man must be a man at all times. Demonstrations of strength are required. It wasn’t only, for example, that Vlad could move his pecs in a semi-circle by merely gritting his false teeth. There was so much more than the truth to him. He could also pull off an impressive number of push-ups and great squat thrusts by cheating in tight pirated jeans. Both required great discipline. And great thighs. A disciplined mind was key. Every truly great man’s man knows that.
Drumpf, Jr. had not yet understood what he had been looking for until he discovered Vlad. They were introduced by a modestly well connected middleman from Deutsche Bank, Danny Murktry, who traded AAA bonds on Wall St. packaged from the disguised dregs of BBB bonds backed by used car loans, and who frequented a wallpaper showroom on the seventh floor of The D&D Building after hours, a very exclusive floor. Danny Murktry was always good at math. But, his needs included more than more money. From the information Drumpf, Jr. had been able to purchase from reliable clandestine sources, the man liked it rough, nothing wrong with that, his code name Paladin, though with his leather buttery soft underneath, and preferably, when in current stock, a pale peachy mauve from Zimmer & Rohde of Oberursel.
“He won’t let you down,” Jr. was assured. “All you need to do is get one glimpse of him on top of a roan stallion. He offers the full package.”
Danny Murktry had earned a chill million dollar commission on the bonds derived from his doomed auto loans. It wasn’t going to be him getting screwed in the end. Jr. had no cause to be overly suspicious. The guy was nearly a genius. He was happy to provide a service and a favor in return for the thrill of being owed.
“Set up the next meeting.”
“Consider it done.”
Jr. met with Vlad to explore areas of interests on an Aeroflot prop plane with rudimentary recording devices operated by rigged switches in a hangar at LaGuardia. A live and colorful demonstration in quadraphonic sound followed. Stiff soldiers in starched uniforms were buff and polished. Highlights of the demonstration featured sensual jujitsu, sticky sword play, Swedish body work, and modified Mandarin massage by skilled professionals. Sophisticated video and audiotapes were distributed by obedient assistants.
Jr. recognized a winner when he saw one. He came across scumbags, posers, hucksters, and frauds every day trying to put one over on him. But, real savvy requires more than brains. Or math. No more stellar example existed in all of human history than Jr. himself. A sideshow carny must master slight of hand, hip fakes, and shifts. There are shrugs to employ, empty gestures. Practice, practice, practice trumps theory. But, had Jr. ever felt satisfied? No fucking way. He could not afford to be, not with interest rates soaring. The subtleties of size in spinning balls make all the difference to a man who juggles. Jr. had learned how with no more than a penny ante stake on a table to show off the lopsided bounce of his balls, to borrow hundreds of millions of dollars from Bear, Stearns, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Sunni sheiks, Schoolteacher pension funds, AIG, Teamster pension funds, Conservative Jews, inherited trust accounts, and benevolent and fraternal orders of former Neo-Nazi deniers from Antwerp and Brussels. And yet, though no ball bounces higher than an unstuck greenback dollar, discounted rubles coming from a resurrected KGB survivor, and with such an array of additional services to offer, were something new and exciting. Plus, looted gold and jewels from a crushed empire tossed in as a symbol of true fidelity. Good will like that went a long way to cementing a lasting relationship.
Jr. was confirmed by his religion to be faithfully orthodox zero-sum, not a flaky win-win kind of guy. There were always conditions to be met in charades of commerce. But, still.
So many enemies on his list needed to be dispatched with ruthless speed, cunning, and aggression. All his lists.
“Let’s start out with something small.”
“Standard or custom, no minimums, no money down, multiple options, satisfaction guaranteed, no problem.”
“I’ll point at a target.”
“I don’t say how.”
“Build it up, tear it down, no problem.”
“You take it from there.”
“Manufacturing, mining, forgery, revenge, no matter.”
“Tricks for real.”
“We never forget tonight.”
“We never had this conversation.”
“We’ll crush one pesky bug at a time.”
“All we need is one name.”
“I will choose one who’s totally out of control.”
“There must always be control.”
Jr. flexed his exceptional intelligence and considered multiples options in real time. He closed his eyes and focused in the darkness on a target. Who said multiple choice tests were easy? He was squeezing his flabby ass as hard as any black hole. All choices beyond true and false were hard. Forget goony essays. Words were never going to be as powerful as numbers ever again. Jr. learned that at Wharton as well as the hard way. He calculated cost and insurance until spittle began to grow solid. What small potato bug would satisfy most to squash as the start of something big?
He was momentarily stumped until inspiration came in for a slick landing between his shoulders. He nearly smacked his own head in the same soft spot pioneered by the hand of Drumpf, Sr. How could he forget that his best judgments always came in a snap? There were so many enemies that deserved to disappear, but why not start at the beginning?
Any nag trailing the field right out of the starting gate is destined to become glue anyway.
“My mind’s made up.”
Let the dust rise and fall.