Rita Talverdieva The scent of bergamoti A novel “And Then There Were None” Agatha Christie Under disguise of the myth …There were rumors in the circle of some very high and respectable class of people: some guy works in the network as a "flying killer". Nickname is Maestro. Term of order execution is six months. The price issue? Warning: mere mortals couldn't afford that. Ilya Zvezditsky was mortal, but not a simple one, he was a movie star! By his talent he is married to his audience, by certificate - to Inessa. "Married to the capitals", as paparazzi sting him. Yes, he's on a short leash made of diamonds. It scratches his skin, controls insane impulses. So what is Inessa, his pretty wife? Mistake?! Not at all. Inessa is his only chance! Warranty from sudden defaults and problems, free pass to a ball of carefree life. Perhaps, he will take his guest mask off very soon? The status of the host looks better. Almost. Just the diamond collar gets on the way... But he pecked on a super cool thing of Maestro : impunity was marketed as guaranteed. Myth? A publicity stunt? A trick?! Suspicion calmed down by starting terms : Maestro works without deposit and even without any advance payment. Tempting... But actually there was one little problem, just one little point in an escape clause : not a single day for delay, work is done - you pay! Instead of Black Mark he sends a death. That's right, nodded Ilya, one good turn deserves another. So there's hope. The dream was coming true, emerging through scabs of the time. He outlined the terms of these rumors and ... dare: whatever works! He will find Maestro. …Well-known killer is really invisible : he got his order over the Internet and vanished. Now one must to wait for months. Or was it bluff? A sick joke of a network moran? We'll see... Premonition whispered: under the disguise of the myth there was Maestro's playground. Ilya Moscow, two months later, January, 2009. A sparkling bathroom in retro style : white, without frills, tile; stylish tub on bronze lion's paws. The scent of bergamot in water sets your mind to an easy dreaming. Completely nude, with a fringe designed in a strange way, Ilya looked at myself in the mirror. Here he quickly held a hand on his heart and gazed into his reflection. Scarlet drops swelled under the left nipple and streamed down the body. Without changing his facial expressions, he gently slipped into the water. "Done!" He shouted and dropped into a corner what was clutched in his hand. A tube of ketchup hits ceramic floor. Now photographer can proceed.
On grimace of pain, immense surprise, and astonishment they worked half a of the day. It was an obligation of the "Corridors of Time" ("CT") magazine's motto : not a single tint of false. Imagination awakened and theme of issue was "Under aim of Fate". He got the "role" of Marat, who was stabbed to death by insidious Charlotte in his own bath. "Identical face!" tweeted producer enthusiastically. "On the left would be reproduction of the "Death of Marat" picture. And next, to the right, you pretending to be Marat in the same posture. A little makeup, a wig ... Can't tell one from another, believe me" he sang the praises. You bet! How not to sing to the favorite of Fortune? After the last TV series "A Blaze" Ilya woke up famous. All over the country. One success leads to another: last year in Cannes, Inessa had dropped off on his tail, daughter of steel oligarch. She kept that habit of hers as of "dropping out of nowhere" even when been his wife. That's the other day: she had to get into a photo collage of the Joan of Arc. In the "CT" he got right into the same magazine issue about the fate. Rebellion of blaze will contrast with her skin color, forks of flame would highlight her green eyes ... "I can clearly feel the plunge of her stylist," he chuckled, relaxing in the hot tub (meanwhile photographer putting back his props). "In short. Inessa was approved. Reluctantly, thou. On a commercial basis. My paycheck depends on her ambition. And what money! Wow, scary even to think about. Even with a discount to print her photo on full page, which I had to tear out of magazine, it looks cool. But! To get the feel of the role you've got to without any discounts. And Inessa only sprang in the passion. Highly ranked journal attracts not only nouveau riches' children but politicians as well! One of them was quite arrogantly showing himself in robes of Alexander I or II, can't remember. Crown and Royal Scepter was instantly lent by Museum. ... that is how people are having fun!" His palm strikes smooth surface of the water. Drops reached photographer. "Yo, Sphinx ... Not even one flick of an eyelash, hah " noticed Ilya with some frustration. "However, the job is done, and all the feelings, emotions, courage, same way as props, are hidden away at the bottom of soul. This is worth to learn. Inessa's latest whim came back to bite her, even thou, her photo session ended a week earlier than my started. Can't get out of previous character or what? But that Joan turned out so well, a masterpiece. A genuine expression of pain gives me creeps: was she tortured for real?.. Well got to use Photoshop there. But! Most creepy was not that grimace of pain and fear but that frantic horror in her eyes. The eyes of Inessa, oh, Joan of Arc. Those guys are professionals, I say, they work for real. But my Marat should come out well. Who's else if not mine?! No wonder why that author of the most popular project had invited me. " …Meanwhile, he froze again in front of the mirror. Without a wig he looks younger. Typical southern macho, the sweet dream of Juliets and mature business Ladies. Out of habit, he touched his temple's with a drop of bergamot - his favorite perfume. Oh! The bottle is almost empty? No worries. In France he bought a dozen of them. Like his character from the movie "A Blaze" he had a bottle of sweet aroma in the pocket. One can't be esthete only halfway - that rule of beau monde he learned instantly. Thanks to Inessa. Trace of bergamot accompanied him everywhere. What is it, if not his trade card? Hah?! Sometimes one graceful touch builds an image much distinctive than published photo in top rated magazine. With gloomy wink to photographer, Ilya left the scene dropping empty bottle on his way to the wastebasket. Photographer, a slipper sleeper man with brushed beard, leaned forward grunting; the bottle made its way into his pocket. And as he didn't straighten himself up yet, he suddenly noticed a trace of actor's boot and, on the side, a tube of ketchup. "Bloody" mark on a white tile was immediately caught by camera's lens flare. "And it will come in hand" finally stood straight photographer. His eyes flashed with a grim light.
Shadow Of Sherlock Holmes Semigorsk, June 26, 2009 A briefing has come to an end. Everyone went down today but most of all Boris Batkin, correspondent of the local news. Arseny Danilov, Chief of Division, wasn't able to say anything in his defense. Awry. "Don't leave yet" he nodded to Boris and Natalya. "In my office in five minutes". Peter-newbie met them by the door. "There is a guest" he nodded toward the office. "Friend. A good old friend" Arseny caught curiosity of his colleagues and waved his hand. An elegant elderly gentleman was sitting by the coffee table flipping through a binder of local press. A couple of phrases exchanged with Arseny had gave out his Moscow accent. "Well," Boris set himself at ease. "Looks like brain washing will not last long". And he was wrong. They left the office by the dusk. But in a completely different mood. The tonus of Arseny was boosted up by their guest - master of astrology Mikhail Danilovich Marmarov. And not just toning up. The guest breathed a thrill, an enthusiasm and a courage into him! Without all of it any reporter sometimes degenerates into a servant. "Let's start all over" asked Arseny. "Slowly". "As I said" Boris gave uneasy look."I was only for one minute at the meeting with Ilya Zvezditsky. Even less than that. Then ... then I was suddenly kicked out". "Star syndrome of Zvezditsky as a title?' added devoted Natalya with apprehension. "Your title has more words than facts: I came, I saw, and fired out," chuckled Arseny. "How terrific, I'm shocked! And not even one phrase?" "Not a word." "And you?!" shot a question Marmarov. "Yes, I did," Boris flinched. "I've asked where could I wash my hands." "Well!" Arseny throw his head up. "Have you been invited to Zvezditsky's dinner? Or was it an interview?!" he was ready to blow. Boris sighed. "On the way to his shack," he began, "I nearly fail over, look, the skin on my palm is badly scratched. All hands were in dirt." "And?!" "And I asked where is the bathroom. Zvezditsky suddenly turned pale. Yes. He looked at me in a very strange way. At the same instance a bodyguard came in. Get out, he said. Apparently, Zvezditsky pressed the call button." "Stop!" Marmarov snapped his fingers. "Did you asked where's the bathroom? or where can I wash my hands?" Boris gazed in silly manner: "What's a difference?" "Answer the question!" Arseny gave a stern look. "I've asked about the bathroom. Where is a bathroom? I said. That were my exact words. So what?" "In-te-res-ting." stretched his word Marmarov. Natalya smiled. Boris rolled his eyes. Only eyes of the newbie flashed with sparkles. "What were you saying about Zvezditsky's shack?" Marmarov sat himself by the table. "Or is it new fashioned slang for a palace?" Boris smiled: "Zvezditsky has gone crazy : for a summer he rented a real shack in the village. He occupied it completely. Three families which huddled there, he sent to Anapa. Until September..." "What kind of shack?" Arseny got a hiccup. "Excuse Me."
"Creepy one, pre-revolutionary building of a hotel type. When I was… am… asked to leave, I could manage to talk to some people there." "With whom?" "With locals." "And?!" "People laughed at Zvezditsky, real loco your man, they say... Now brace yourselves! Next door to that shack stays a super-duper boarding house, named Sunrise. Cozy. Private. Jacuzzi, pool table, mini pool, in short high standard." he cocked his thumb up. "The owner of those suites is so freaked out. Look! He offered to Zvezditsky a whole suit free of charge! Obviously, for promotional purposes." "Didn't pull off?" mumbled Arseny. "Nope!" Boris smiled victoriously. "Why didn't you tell me that before?!" resented Arseny. "Such a theme! a potential slant for the next article." "I had no chance to drop a word on the briefing. Only verdicts went through, sort of screwed up, failure… " Arseny waved his hand. "We've got some issues." "Just one on a different frets: How dare you to fail the mission? What was the question , that was the answer. I learned it on my first year of the University." Boris scrambled his boss. "I know! I got it!" Newbie suddenly jumped up, his eyes blazing. "For Sure ... There's a treasure!" "Where? " Boris and Natasha starred at Peter. "There! In the shack, in the bathroom ... That hovel is pre-revolutionary..." "Calm down" dismissively waved Arseny, but came across a choppy gesture of Marmarov. "What if…" The guest mysteriously remarked and lifted his bushy eyebrow. It felt like fixed on each other eyes will ignite the spark. "Let me check it out," suddenly started Arseny and reached out for the laptop. His nostrils shivered like as of hound on its trail. And fingers were hovering above the keyboard already. "Such a friend! With one glance got it all!" Boris scrabbled his two-day stubble. Peter and Natalya listened attentively. "March 15th, 1969," a minute later started Arseny, glancing at his guest. "Here is the place of his birth and it is blurry: Zvezditsky was born in Transbaikalia." " Will do." Marmarov nodded. On the table suddenly materialized an open book in textile cover. Finger of Marmarov skated through its lines, his lips went to soft motion. "The Book Of Fate! " stunned Arseny his amazed colleagues. As usual, it was difficult to understand was he joking or not. Boris peered over the shoulder of the guest. On yellowish pages appeared some strange characters and small digits. And on the left, in the corner of the book, emerged a sketch of a circle similar to a compass. Compass' arrow pointed upward. Finally, Marmarov turned away from the book and conspiratorially winked. Everybody were huddled over their curious visitor. The shadow of Sherlock Holmes has covered the entire group. *** "At the time of Zvezditsky's birth Uranus got up high, into zenith: from rags to riches. "Entertaining." chuckled Boris. "This is only a prelude. I can say it in other way: Uranium in zenith is a hymn to a genius, a luck, and take off ..." "Are there many of those whose fate depends on lucky chance?"
"In a changing world, yes." "For example?" "Marie Antoinette, Karl Marx, Lazar Kaganovich, Saddam Hussein, Boris Yeltsin. Different times, countries, destinies ... The trend is one: the rise occurs in overnight, suddenly ... Possibility of Uranium at its zenith, akin to a magic wand." "Lucky men." sighed Natalya. "It's hard to say," shrugged his shoulder Marmarov. "Uranus in zenith is unstable. Unlike stern Saturn, pleasant Jupiter, and the planet of dreams Neptune. They are the ones who rule long- life-ball, without sharp ups and downs. Ah. Here is a trap. Saturn is transit and shadowing Zvezditsky 's Uranium. And here is the Cross of Fate: depression and spleen. In quadruple froze the Black Moon: someone's malicious eye, evil genius, temptation. In the asset - a secret enemy. Wicked ..." "What about treasure? " suddenly applied the voice of Peter. " Alas. I see there no treasure or other hidden possessions. Its master of treasures is in a shadow. Leading dimension is partnership. Now he is in black zone. But his life is doomed to be supported by business people, wife ..." "Wife? She died ..." "Not a good sign. He had to pray for her, to take care, to cherish ... That's a payback: his own fear kills him." " Zvezditsky and fear are things incompatible." Nata looked with same prick. "All the same! Bad luck in his fate is not a fiction. Zvezditsky was born in an eclipse which gives him fatality ..." "And what is for us ? " lodged in Boris. "I think, Boris, you should try to remind him about an interview. He was led not by aplomb but fear. He is completely taken by it. Your appearance happen to be at wrong time. In the worst case scenario he forgot about you. Most likely, he regrets about having such a reception for you. Call him." Marmarov threw his wrist out with a massive chronometer on in. "Now! While the Moon is not off its course. A meeting would be good to be scheduled for tomorrow." "Why is it tomorrow?" "One hour later, the Moon will be in very tense aspect with Uranus: volatility and nervousness will not contribute to your conversation. Don't burn your fingers twice, Boris. Yah! Here is a such transit to Neptune happening... No. He will not accept you. Im-pos-si-ble. He will be very sleepy and tired. In best case." "And in worst?" caught his word Arseny. "Let's stop on that ... It is similar to the effect of drugs, to hallucinations. In one hour he will be out of shape." Under aim of Fate Verhny Khutorok Village, June 26, 2009 evening. "Not even a one move" admitted Ilya after letting branch of nut tree into his open window. However, voices down below alerted him. Hey! That was a guard chewing the rag. With someone of those locals... He could hear only clumps of phrases. Burst of laughter suddenly broke infused by gummy fluids, ominous air. And after sharp whipping words: "The man went nuts... Only doctor can help..." Ilya recoiled. Looked around. He felt for it. Hastily made "cosmetics" highlighted the shabbiness of his place; from freshly painted walls the smell of varnish materials guttered brain into pain. He left in rush forgetting bottle of favorite perfume. It had thrown him off the aesthete image, but apparently didn’t wipe it out completely. "Back to Moscow! To home!" His heart fluttered.
But then stung by accusations: everything there recall the past. About Inessa. Shacked off unwanted tears. Gasped breath. Even the sky in compassion squeezed a few tears out, but hard to breath. Inessa ... It shouldn’t happen even to a dog. Barcelona. Hotel. Fire. Seventeen victims and Inessa among them. He killed her, because the idea has to be material. Didn’t thought about all of the pros and cons. Such a fool. Got involved in an adventure with Maestro, with the “flying killer”. The price of freedom... Freedom?! A week after he got an e-mail: The work is done. It is recommended not delaying with the payment. Maestro. Ilya was taken aback: even paparazzi, who eager for smell of draught, sadly had to agree with investigators: it was an accident. Ilya sent him to hell... In response, Maestro pulled off some... a couple of illustrations from the series of "Under aim of Fate" of "CT" fresh issue. The first one had shown Inessa in her "role" of Joan of Arc, engulfed by the fire. One sec. This is an err! You know, Joan was burned in Rouen. And here ... In the background, in dreamy haze, you can see the outline of old catalonian roofs. And to the right there is five centuries long mistake! In watery skies emerged the Gothic Cathedral, the immortal creation of Gaudy. Visit Card of Barcelona. Barcelona! He suddenly got it: a riot of flame and forks of fire will not shade out milky white skin and green eyes of red-haired Inessa. But will eat her alive! And the look is not of Joan of Arc anymore, but of Inessa! Taken by horrible pain ... Burnt alive. In Barcelona. Two months ago. The revelation fell like snowball onto his head: in the second picture ... He himself. In an image of Marat. Bleeding. In the bath ... A lapidary you are the next had plunged Ilya into a shock. He is here. How could he manage to find his shack in province of blossom, where there no bathrooms but shower rooms (meter by meter in size). Well, it doesn't matter. Ilya has solved the riddle. Maestro lost! Outside of necessary entourage the Devil in the Flesh is pathetic. *** …Shabby bearded man suddenly turned to a laptop, passed fingers through a keyboard typing: "Have you prayed at night, Desdemona?". The message has been sent, Zvezditsky is doomed! The smile intended to the recipient. But mirror in the frame said "you are a freak"! He crumpled his face into grimace and a moment later, released a smile. Easier and touching one. The mirror replied with a grin. He snorted : time for smiles didn't come yet. Patience. Patience. Here we go... And the mirror heeded his owner's desires. His hair turned gray in couple of months, his shoulders buckled as if under load beyond a human force, vertical wrinkles are folding face like scars. Why? Old Age? Nope. Gravy thoughts. Global project burns the liver. Suddenly for a moment the look got brighter under his chubby eyebrows and eyes had flashed in an even light. Reflection trembled, blurring: he seem to be slimmer now, the features had softened turning into an eminent figure. The thought had draw the triumph image with a bright dabs: who would know! Who could think of!! Under the mask of photographer from "Corridors of Time" magazine acting the Maestro himself. Maestro of Resonance. Damn news from Maestro caused frustration. The victory seemed to be of Pyrrhic. Especially now, on unbearably hot evening. Ilya didn't take a favorite perfume with scent of bergamot on
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