|Ambitsiya, or Ambition
Author: Sam Loomis PM
A short story inspired by Dostoyevsky's "Notes From Underground." Anatoliy Stefovsky abducts his boss's son and spirals into mental illness.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Crime/Spiritual - Chapters: 2 - Words: 1,814 - Reviews: 1 - Published: 02-25-11 - id: 2894305
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
AMBITSIYA, OR AMBITION
"Dobroye utro, Anatoliy," Grigoriy greets me when I enter the office.
"Good morning," I reply, removing my cap and heading resolutely toward my desk.
As if he can read my intentions in the pattern of my footsteps, Grigoriy says, "You don't want to cross the judge today."
"The lawyer for his first case of the day has asked for a continuance. Now Judge Chernykh is on the war path."
I sit at my desk and tap my thumbs against it. "Damn." I do not say this aloud. Rather, I do not say this at all. I search for the business card of the lawyer Podkharzhevsky, which is just one of the many I have in my desk drawer for the week. His is the office I must visit at 9 AM. "Which lawyer?" I ask.
There is a pause as Grigoriy scans his desk calendar. "Babić."
"Shit," I say. "He was one of mine."
"Tough luck, Stefovsky!" This is Zeppelin Schulz, a rotund German national who is also my coworker, a lawyer in his previous life. He is smug, but his accent is bad.
I find Babić's business card in the mess of my desk, intending to return it to the basket on Ivan Petrovich's desk on my way out the door. He won't get his continuance for some time—it may be another month before we hear from him again; we draw lots, as it were, from this basket, and I hope not to draw his card when Babić returns circuitously to Magistrate Judge Chernykh's court. "Who's your troublemaker this week, Grigoriy?"
"Kholodov." No hesitation. "The weasel."
"I have Schastlivtsev," the German says, butchering the name. We, the Russian staff—Grigoriy, Ivan the secretary, and myself—often cheat the lots so that Schulz is responsible for lawyers whose names are the hardest for him to pronounce, so that we can laugh at him. I might have given up Podkharzhevsky to hear Schulz stumble over it, but he's one of my favorite lawyers to work with. He brings pastries to every meeting, and I don't think the globular German needs any more pastries.
At this time the judge storms past the receptionist, into our office. This is not unusual: the door to his chambers is in the support staff's office, the door to which connects to the lobby, where the receptionist sits; the lobby opens to a wide hall down which are multiple magistrate judges' offices, identical to this one. The courtrooms are beyond the offices. The judge is in his robes and wig, having come from the courtroom he timeshares with two other magistrate judges. He stops at my desk, his eyes awash with the embers of ire.
"Good morning, Mirovoy Sudya Chernykh," I greet him pleasantly.
"Why didn't you notify me of Babić's intentions?"
In truth, Babić had not told me anything about his plans for the case. I don't know Babić well enough to be privy to such information; however, the truth is not what the judge wants to hear. So I say, "I apologize, Magistrate."
The judge huffs his indignation and marches off to his chambers, slamming the door behind him.
When I return from my meeting with Mr. Podkharzhevsky, having set his court date for Thursday at 10 AM, there is a note on my desk that I have been charged an hour for my incompetence; that is, I lose an hour of pay, which I can make up with overtime this week if I want my 6 rubles. I become dizzy with anger. It is not the hour that infuriates me, I think, but the injustice of it! "He treats us like dirt but expects us to perform our duties with golden flourish!" "I'm taking lunch," I say aloud, and leave before Grigoriy can ask to join me.
Every afternoon I take lunch at an underground bistro. The food is cheap but I think it's rather good, though I suspect the kitchen is a rat trap. I order my usual meal from the usual waitress at my usual table. Grigoriy could follow me, but he doesn't, and I am glad. "Humility," I mutter, between sips of broth. "I hate my job." And suddenly I hate everything: my life, my apartment, this bistro, this food—I throw a few rubles on the table and leave the bistro, most of my lunch uneaten. I'll tell the receptionist I've got food poisoning and take the rest of the day off.
I walk along the railroad tracks from the office. It's a half hour's walk, but the weather is pleasant so I don't mind. My apartment building is in the northernmost part of the south side, the best part of the worst part of the city. "It should be better than this, Tolya," I think. We are what makes the magistrate's office work as well as it does! "Without us," I say to myself, "nothing would get done! Nothing!"
In the distance, also following the tracks, I spy a small figure coming my way, with a football in the crook of his arm. I catch his gaze and hold it for a minute; as we close the distance I think I recognize him. Within a few feet I am sure that this is Sevastyan Rolanovich Chernykh walking toward me, like an angel sent to solve all my problems.
"Sevastyan Rolanovich!" I call to him, putting on my friendliest smile.
The boy (who I judge to be thirteen or fourteen years old, despite his stature) stops and looks me in the eye. "Who are you?"
"A friend," I reply. "Your father sent me." I put my arm around his shoulders and turn him around. When I continue to walk, he goes along compliantly enough. And as we walk I feed him lies about Rolan Chernykh and me, a thick stream of lies my second voice is providing.