More Sacrifices

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Rachel made no contact with Jak at Friday’s film, “Belle de Jour”. Perhaps, he thought, she was thinking of her own mixed-up sexual fantasies. Or perhaps he was the one living in a fantasy world, thinking fatuously that there would ever again be any closer connection to her.

On Tuesday, however, he was immersed in another world. The smoky, beery atmosphere of Club B2 soon made him forget his worries. Tanya Lewinski had come with him, as he had promised to take her sometime at the dinner party a few weeks ago. He didn’t really think that she would come, and was surprised when she had phoned to remind him. He was, as usual, overawed by her lovely smiling face, her tall, slim body, and her great sense of humour. She flirted with him quite openly and he could hardly conceal his delight, as they watched the resident folkies and listened to the Simon and Garfunkel covers that they were renowned for. The whole audience joined in with the “swoosh” in “The Boxer”. Glasses tinkled, people laughed, and Jak became quite drunk on many tipples of vodka.

In the car park, as they left, Jak held Tanya tightly and kissed her fully on her mouth. She responded, melting in his arms and closing her eyes. As he took her home in his car, going the slow, back way through the outer suburbs, he told her how much he cared for her, but she just smiled secretively. He dropped her off outside her house and she kissed him, briefly, on the cheek. He didn’t even realise that she was four and a half months pregnant, or that she had been hoping for rather more from him.

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– o –

Rachel was panicking slightly; unusual for her, normally so calm and serene. Zim’s heart attack had upset and unnerved her. She needed help. She tried to phone Jak, but he was not answering his phone or mobile. It was too dangerous to expose Dmitri, even if she knew where he was. So she resorted to Peter, whom she had seen not a week ago when he had expressed his undying love for her. He was always professing to be against Putin and his nefarious plots; she would test his steel.

She rang his mobile. She never rang his home number, of course, in case Tanya answered. She was about to give up when a sleepy voice answered, “Hello. Rachel? Is that you?”

“Come on, you sleepy bugger! Get out of bed, wherever you are. I need you to come with me!” she hissed. “I’ll meet you at the Grossbeer in thirty minutes.”

“OK. OK! Keep your shirt on! Or on second thoughts, don’t wear a shirt at all, or anything else!” he quipped.

Thirty minutes later, Rachel was sitting near the entrance, a cigarette in hand, puffing smoke circles at the door. An unkempt figure dashed in and looked around, still bleary-eyed.

“Oh. Hi! What’s this all about?” gushed Peter.

“We’re going to the British Embassy. I just need you to look like a doting, love-sick swain. And look out for anyone following us!”

“What is a “swain”?” he asked puzzled.

They left the Grossbeer, arm-in-arm, and began to walk north over the bridge and towards the Embassy, in the misty dark of the night. Halfway across the bridge, Rachel turned round to look behind her. Sure enough, there was someone following them. She pushed Peter against the stone balustrading and kissed him fiercely on the mouth, waiting to see if the dark figure would pass them by. But he stopped too, to light a cigarette and peer into the dark waters below. She told Peter to run, and they rushed to the other side of the river. The man on the bridge didn’t move, but as they began to walk hurriedly through the gardens, she saw two more approaching them in front. She didn’t know what to do, but suddenly feeling guilty about exposing Peter to this danger, she told him to run west, away from the Kremlin, while she raced in the opposite direction. She heard a shot, and saw Peter stumble behind her. Damn! Damn! She had to get to the Embassy and raced as fast as she could. No-one seemed to be following her.

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– o –

On Friday night, Jak was back in Moscow again and went with Rachel, at her suggestion, to see “Leaping Ginger”, an English musical by Trevor Peacock, at the Central Theatre. She said she was feeling homesick. But it was a good laugh and he enjoyed it immensely, though he probably missed most of the jokes. Going home he finally blew it for good when he suggested that she might come back with him to his flat. She was withdrawn and unresponsive. He couldn’t make out what was wrong with her. Did she know that he had taken Tanya Lewinski to the Folk Club? Had Peter said anything to her?

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