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Chapter Thirty Six

“Shto?” Alexei asked, watching Grisha come up the wooden steps of the porch after opening the heavy iron gates at the front of the mortuary. Alexei repeated, “What?”

It had been a very tough night. Alexei had spent several hours in the basement dismembering a woman’s body and packing the parts in two large ice chests. He thought he should have used more ice, but he had none left and the van was waiting. Too tired to clean up afterward, he left a small pile of leftovers—skin, hair, and bones—lying on the white tile floor.

Upstairs, he stood in the shower and welcomed the hot, almost scalding, cascade of water running over his body. He saw the accusing eyes of the dead woman looking up at him from the embalming table. He felt bits of her flesh, thrown off the teeth of the small chainsaw, clinging to his skin. He thought droplets of her blood had seeped through his pores, finding their way into his own bloodstream. Alexei had scrubbed his body until it was raw. When he emerged from the shower, he still felt dirty. In his bedroom, Alexei couldn’t go to sleep. He poured a glass of Vodka, then another and another. Soon he was looking at the bottom of the bottle.

This morning, Alexei’s eyes were bloodshot, his head was pounding and his tongue felt like it was covered with the hair of a Russian mink.

“What?” Alexei asked Grisha for the third time.

“The albino.”

“What about?”

“He won’t be paying us.”

“Then you go for visit and mayhem.”

“No,” Grisha said, “It’s not necessary. His body was outside by the front gate.”

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