The Peace of Justice

May 13, 2008
By Ben Finley, Louisville, KY

“I haven’t the stomach for such things… and I’m quite sure that you would agree with me in saying that business to that end is suited for professionals.” Kerensky took a long drag from a wetted and overused cigar, presumably Cuban, before continuing. “We’ve already expressed that we are more than willing to arrange a personal meeting in Vladivostok, Volgograd, or even Moscow for that matter… Yet time and time again, he’s rejected the necessity to do so.”
“And, of course, I realize that you do not wish to waste any amount of considerable time in beginning to import the man’s stock, but this is a considerable amount of trade we’re doing, and he wishes to have some degree of assurance,” said Kerensky’s counterpart, a fairly tall, lanky man with brown hair and dark green eyes that were hidden behind the grey pinstripes of his suit and bowler hat. The guest, perched on a lush leather chair across from him, paused slightly before continuing, “He’s expressed interest in meeting in… Bogotá.”
A deep silence filled the dimly lit room; smoke from Kerensky’s dying cigar clouding the light that beamed from the one lamp that remained lit over head of the two businessmen, effectively choking the air around them. Kerensky’s guest felt an uneasy jolting of his gut, and the fume-filled air caused him to sweat slightly as if under some beating heat lamp. In the streets below, hidden by a poorly made red-velvet curtain, the guest could hear the faint horns of cars bustling about the streets of Moscow.
Kerensky continued to chew on the end of his cigar, removing it from his mouth ever-so-slightly after what seemed like an hour had passed. “Not since 1976 have I left this country… And I do not intend to do so now. Now… As my representation on this matter, I expect you to handle the final aspects of business and assure our friend in Bogotá that his investment is secure, so long as he can provide.”
“I… Yes, of course. As you say,” the guest replied with a brief nod to Kerensky, then rose from his perch and made his way towards the door, “I shall see to it that this business is concluded immediately, then…”
“Good day, Mr. Geoffrey.”
“Good day, Mr. Kerensky,” William Geoffrey said as he pried the brass handle of the door open and quickly made his way down the stairway, which revealed the cinder-block walls of the old home. He looked at the old Red Russian Communist symbols littered along the walls with both interest and disgust, part of him wished that his boss would not flaunt such things so vividly. As every year passed that he served as Nicholas Kerensky’s business advocate, a little piece of William died. Thus far the young man had been dying for six long years, which begged the question of how long could William live with himself before he died inside completely. But then again, his employment was lucrative and the thought of attempting to leave the employment of Mr. Kerensky somewhat frightened him.
William continued down the stairs and into the dank parlor of the Kerensky’s home. The scent of cigarette smoke and burnt meat filled his nostrils as he removed his overcoat from a coat rack at the bottom of the stairs. William gradually continued through the home, taking notice of the surprisingly substandard living conditions. A man like Nicholas Kerensky had no trouble receiving a heft income, and yet his shoddy house echoed that of a family just scraping by.
“Good day, Mrs. Kerensky… A pleasure, as always,” William gave a slight nod of the head to the frail old woman who sat in the corner of the kitchen, smoking a cigarette as greedily as her husband mulled over his own cigar. In Mr. Geoffrey’s opinion, she was an absurdly disgusting woman, and despite his best approaches she never greeted his active pleasantries with more than a nod or a smoke-filled grunt. He greeted her yellowed teeth and wispy grey hair with more and more contempt with each passing visit, but continued to hide it with polite smiles and kindly gestures. It suited him best when she appeared to ignore his presence completely, which it appeared she would do that particular morning.
William shielded his eyes with a sleeve of his fine-trimmed grey suit, the light stinging his eyes as he emerged from Kerensky’s cavernous place of business. A black Rolls Royce pulled up before Mr. Geoffrey, its exhaust fumes puttering out into the cold air. A smile crept upon William’s face as he pulled on the cold door handle and contorted his body into the back seat, “Afternoon, Mikhail.”
“Mr. Geoffrey,” Mikhail said, looking into the mirror and tilting his black-rimmed hat slightly as pulled away from the curb, “Keeping warm?”
“Yes, very warm… To the airport, Mikhail. Take your time,” William laid his head on the back of the cushioned leather seat and shut his eyes gently, “I’m off to the Western Coast again…”

Mikhail didn’t respond, he usually abstained from talking much, which suited both him and his passengers best. He was an ill-tempered, poorly educated and heavy accented Russian, whose family had a rumored history of harsh treatment by the Russian government, dating back to the early days of the Soviet Union. How he got tangled in with Nicholas Kerensky’s shady business was completely unknown to most people, and William never had any intent to ask him.
As William delved in and out of a shaken slumber, his car headed towards a small airstrip along the outskirts of the city. His dreams drifted to thoughts of the past, his late twenties and the life he had once lived. It seemed to be a reoccurring event, in which every time William put the slightest bit of thought into his past, his stomach would tie itself in knots by the conclusion of his own mental session. And despite the near promise that he would regret ever thinking about the past, William couldn’t help but continue to do it.
William Geoffrey’s real name had been William Armitage, until his father, Thomas Armitage, died of cancer and he made the move from Liverpool, England to New York City. His mother had died when he was too young to recall, and he never truly knew the woman. William had no brothers or sisters, and his extended family was existent only during dinner side chats that he had once shared with his father, with the occasional mention of grandparent or an aunt occurring periodically to no real yield or questioning. The truth was, William didn’t really care about his extended family. He was quite content with the life he had been living, and figured that his father didn’t mention his own relatives for a reason.
Thomas Armitage had been a prominent lawyer in Liverpool, establishing links with the local rabble that gave him an upper hand in dealings. And though William never tested his father by asking him about his own shady affairs, he learned the value of being protected by powerful friends. Perhaps this life lesson explained his current predicament in life, or perhaps it was just a series of bad mistakes that William now so harshly regretted, but couldn’t shake off.
As if someone had just pushed his head forward and into a concrete block, William’s head rushed forward and thudded against the headrest of the seat in front of him. Mikhail slammed on the horn, repeatedly hitting it for a few moments before loudly cursing, “Ступид Фукер!”
And though William did not know much Russian, he had an idea of what his grisly driver had shouted.
“Is everything ok?” William questioned urgently.
Mikhail responded with an uncivil grunt, “Yes, sir. The fool pulled out in front of me out of nowhere.”
“I see… How close are we to the airstrip then?”
“We’re nearly there,” Mikhail responded, quite bluntly.
William’s surroundings fell silent once more, yet this time he stayed awake. His bottom lip throbbed in pain slightly, his fingertips yielding blood as he whipped the saliva from his mouth. Apparently, in the shock of the sudden stop, he had bitten down on his bottom lip enough for it to bleed. It was no matter, he wouldn’t meet with his client in Bogotá for a few days, and the swelling would undoubtedly be subsided by then.
Gravel crackled underneath the tires of the Rolls Royce as it pulled past the chain-link fence and onto one of the various private runways throughout the field. Mikhail pulled the car to a slow halt in front of one of the bunkers; an old and tattered Cold War era plane-hangar that had been fashioned into a private storage house for luxury jets, then auctioned off to Russia’s richest. Nicholas Kerensky commanded the ownership of one of the less lush hangars of the field; a modest hangar for a modest aircraft.

William popped open the door of his escort’s vehicle and stepped out of the car, his lip still throbbing in pain from the incident earlier. Before bending his head back into the car to say his goodbyes to the driver, William brushed off his overcoat and peered at the pitiful aircraft that awaited him. A knot formed in his throat as the thought of flight in such a pathetic vehicle crossed his mind.
“Thank you, Mikhail… Send my regards to the wife,” William straightened his tie before turning away from his driver and continuing into the bunker.
A small private, twin-engine, propeller plane awaited William in the opened hangar, and he quickly made his way to the stairs that had been set out before him. The pilot offered his hand, helping William climb onto the steps and into the plane. Before retiring to one of the various cushioned chairs of the aircraft, he exchanged polite smiles and a few pleasantries with the pilot, whose name he couldn’t remember throughout the entire conversation. Surely the beginnings of an awkward flight.
William’s plane touched down in Moscow, smoke emanating from the burning rubber tires. As the flaps adjusted and the plane steadily veered to a screeching halt, William unbuckled his safety belt to the sound of an abrupt click. For a few moments he collected himself from the flight, preparing to embrace the bitter city that waited for him on the other side of the aircraft’s door.
It had been nearly three weeks since William had left Moscow for Vladivostok. From Vladivostok he had flown to Bogotá and met up with a representative of Conrad Colotario, one of the soon-to-be leading suppliers of Nicholas Kerensky. With only a little assurance and a few crates of old Cold War weaponry, William Geoffrey had ensured the transfer of 500 kilos of Colombian cocaine into Russia over the next few years, a prize that would make his boss quite a considerable sum. William would, naturally, receive a modest kickback for his troubles. It was, perhaps, too modest for the mental trouble he truly endured on each one of his business ventures.
Seeing women and children labor away under the forceful watch of Colombian drug lords and mafias was a truly damaging sight, even to someone who had seen as much as William. Each time it seemed as if his mind weakened, his senses no longer able to bear such sights. At times, upon returning home from the far corners of the world, whether it be Colombia, Vietnam, or some desolate place in Africa, he would break into bouts of tears. Knowing that he was responsible for the business that lead to the pitiful lives and deaths of innocent people was nearly unbearable at times.
But it wasn’t only the weapons. It was the drugs, the killing, and every other dark business that Nicholas Kerensky had his hand in. William Geoffrey, in his mind, had created so many junkies, motherless children, and murder victims that it had become unforgivable. And his penalty for all of this trouble he had created: monetary success. While men lost their lives and souls to the bitterly wretched vices that Nicholas Kerensky provided, William Geoffrey counted his profits.
“Mr. Kerensky wishes to see you, Mr. Geoffrey,” Mikhail opened the door to the black Rolls Royce, no clear expression on his face, “I was not told why.”
“Thank you, Mikhail,” William slid into the back seat, he knew this time he would be unable to sleep. It was quite likely that he would encounter many dreamless nights over the next few weeks. It was the natural cycle that he endured each time he returned “home.”
For the majority of the ride, William beamed at the headrest in front of him. His thoughts drifted to the sights he had seen, and how his once-prosperous life had led him to such a gruesome present. At what point had he made such a terrible mistake that had caused his dreams to be haunted by bitter sights and thoughts? And then there was an abrupt click.
When he came back from his thoughts, William had the barrel of a loaded gun in his face. Quite to his own shock and that of his captor, he made no reactionary movement whatsoever. Mikhail slowly inhaled, “William Geoffrey, you’re under arrest for your involvement in the drug trafficking, prostitution, and illegal arms trade businesses. Furthermore, you’re breach of international arms embargos and United Nations arms trade agreements will be tried in court as felonies. The Russian Government has decided, based on your dual citizenship, that no extradition rights will be given to the British Government, and that you will be tried as a Russian citizen.”
William made no sudden movements, he merely nodded and complied as Mikhail removed himself from the front seat and handcuffed his newest arrest. So many thoughts flowed through William’s mind. His instinct begged him to react, to fight, but his body was content with apathy, content with the justice being wrought upon it. His eyes, his blank stare, and the very demeanor that had captured Williams face reflected nothing but apathy. The car continued to the home of Kerensky, where flashing red and blue lights stood atop several white police cars. William saw the blurred image of his boss being escorted into the back of a police car. His business was undoubtedly finished, and although William would spend much of his life in prison, he couldn’t help but feel that he had finally received justice.
In the coming months, the drug trade would hit no significant block. Throughout Russia, Europe, and Asia junkies would find new supplier just as easily as they had stumbled upon Nicholas Kerensky. Colombian mafias would deal with “businessmen” just as they had dealt with William Geoffrey. And despite the effect that William thought he had on such business, he was merely a pawn.
Though, Mr. Geoffrey would not know of his duties being usurped by other men, or the continuation of the world’s revolution without him. For within the confines of his bleak cell, William Geoffrey would encounter only his own thoughts. And as he stared to the black grey wall in front of him, as if searching for some sort of remedy to his problems, William’s thoughts drifted once more.

His exploits as a man stripped of the life he had once been comfortable with, the rash decisions that landed him in a position with the Russian drug trade in New York, had brought nothing but pain to surpass the success he had originally thought he had found. Perhaps he had been too advantageous, too eager in his youth to find purpose once his father had passed, and William’s role in life had fallen into irrelevancy to most of the world. Whatever was the cause of such mistakes in life; William began to care less and less as he invested more thought on the subject. For if there was one thing that he had stumbled upon so unexpectedly, it was the peace that eluded his mind for so many years; the peace that had found him only justice upon himself.

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