2nd Place – January 2023

Russian Revenge

By Leon Dixson

I often daydream, as I am now, while working. I’m in a rubber raft, floating on the current of a shallow, but fast-moving river. My body undulates as water rushes over the rocky river bottom and lifts and lowers the boat.

Excitement builds as I enter the rapids. I hear the rumble of the falls ahead. A happy squeal escapes. It’s coming. I scream as the raft bucks like a rodeo bull. A bear on the shore roars. The climax comes as I plunge over the falls and float into the wide, calm reservoir below.

He rolls off me and supports himself on one elbow. He kisses my lips and breasts.

“You’re the best, Amy.” He bought my act.

I lied. “You always make me cum, J.B. You really float my boat.” I smile at the corny private joke.

While I dress, he lights a cigarette and reaches for his wallet on the nightstand. He hands me five crisp one-hundred-dollar bills for one hour together. I hug him and leave. It’s ten a.m. in J.B.’s upscale New York suburb. My next appointment is at six p.m.

I see twelve high earning clients on a weekly basis, besides occasionally escorting out-of-towners. Willie Smith, my six o’clock, is my special guy. He’s widowed and uber rich, but I only want his money at five-hundred dollars a pop.

He’s twice my age, at fifty-six, virile and in great shape. I love him despite the age difference, but living behind machine guns and security barriers? I don’t know about that.


My phone rang as I opened my Toyota’s door outside J.B.’s house. The caller’s number was unfamiliar, but I answered because I expected a call from my bank.

A Russian voice spoke in broken English. “You will come visit me.”

“Do I know you?”

“No. You come.”

“Who are you?”

“Not important. You come.”

“My schedule is full, but I can recommend…”

“Maybe I make room on schedule.” The voice got farther from the phone. “Tell him do it.” A voice in the background yelled, “Now.”

A rat-a-tat-tat staccato of automatic gunfire sounded inside J.B.’s house. I knelt behind my car and pulled my 9mm Glock from my purse. My heart thumped. Goosebumps popped. I pushed ‘End’ on the phone and dialed 91l. The gunman must have been in the house at the same time as me.

Sirens wailed five minutes later. I rose on shaky legs when four police cruisers with flashing lights turned the corner. Two cops talked to me next to my car while the others went inside. Later, one came out and confirmed J.B. was dead. The shooter escaped through the back door before they arrived. I answered their questions. They said they would be in touch..

I left without mentioning the phone call. At my apartment, I locked the door and checked every room with my gun in hand. Was I next?

An hour later, the phone announced another call from the Russian. I hit ‘decline’ and dropped it on the kitchen table. I ran my wet palms through my hair. My breath came in shallow, rapid gasps. My heart missed a beat, and I jumped when the phone vibrated violently on the glass tabletop, notifying me of a new text message. I hesitated, then hit ‘view’ with a shaky finger..

It read: “look out window answer phone.”

I inched my way to the window and peeked out. Three men in a large, black Merćedes sat across the street.

The phone rang. I picked it up, fumbled it, and picked it up again. “H-hello?”

“Listen to me, bitch. Conroy is next to die if you don’t obey. Don’t call police.”

Ed Conroy, successful record producer, lost an arm in Afghanistan, and my Wednesday evening client.

“Why are you doing this?”

“I say when you arrive. Walk to car and get in or Conroy dies.”

Mrrrrraow! My cat scrambled out of sight as I spun and threw the phone against the wall.


I sat, shaking, in the back seat with a thick sack over my head, wrists handcuffed behind my back. Of the multitude of disorganized thoughts battling for my attention, Am I going to die? prevailed.

They marched me into a room reeking of cigarette smoke and pushed me into a chair. The bag remained on my head.

“Here is deal, bitch.” I recognized the voice on the phone.

“Willie Smith is KGB defector named Viktor Petrov. Boris Yeltsin order his death thirty years ago. I fail. But now I find Petrov. He not escape again.

 You will go to him today. You will kill him for me.”

I shook my head. “No. I can’t. I won’t.”

“Then Conroy dies. We kill all clients until you obey.”

Pain in my stomach doubled me over and made me fight for breath. Bile rose in my throat. I gagged and fought an urge to vomit. How could I kill the man I love? But if I didn’t, they would kill everyone else.

I sobbed. “Yeltsin is long gone. Can’t you just forget it?”

Footfalls came toward me. I flinched at the stench of sour sweat and the pungent odor of vodka. Hearing a zipper, I clamped my jaw tight and snapped my knees together.

He laughed, “You think I bring you here to fuck? Skinny American.”

He grabbed my arm. “Feel this.” He moved my hand across a long, jagged scar on his lower abdomen.

“We catch Petrov in Smolensk. He slit Igor’s throat, and try to gut me. I want revenge. You kill him, or everyone dies.”

“If you couldn’t kill him, how do you expect me to do it?”


They took me home armed with a hypodermic needle. I rushed to the toilet and threw up. The vile taste of vomit filled my mouth. I stepped into the shower and collapsed to the floor, crying. An impossible choice lay ahead.

At six p.m. a limo delivered me to a helipad where I boarded Willie’s helicopter for the twenty-minute ride to his mansion.

Willie’s guards would make me disappear forever if I killed Willie. But if I didn’t, ten people would die. I walked into the mansion, trying to appear calm.

Willie rose to greet me when I entered the drawing room. “Amy, you look terrible. What’s wrong?”

“I’m okay. The helicopter ride scared me today.” Could I kill the man I love? How could I not? Knowing my destiny gave me a sense of resignation, if not calm. We ate caviar and sipped blanc de noir. He suggested we forgo sex, but I took his hand and led him to the bed, tossing my purse on it.

He undressed and sat at the foot of the bed. I stood before him in a trance. I remembered crying when daddy had to kill a diseased puppy to save the litter. Sometimes you have to sacrifice one, to save many.

A shiver shook me as he removed my clothing. He pulled me onto the bed and kissed my lips while caressing me with his tender touch. I’ve always given Willie my full attention. Even when I didn’t orgasm. No daydreams. No Act. Only love. But today called for a command performance. He must suspect nothing.

Lying next to each other after he came, I reached for my purse. I wrapped my fingers around the syringe. I sobbed and plunged the needle into his arm before I could change my mind. He winced.

I screamed, “I can’t do it. I love you.” Instead of pushing the plunger, I jerked the needle out, jabbed it into myself, and pushed. Better if only one of us dies.

 A tsunami of emotions overcame me. I rolled onto my stomach. My sobs shook the entire bed.

He patted my butt. “While we ate, my staff switched syringes.”

I jerked my head around and wiped my eyes. “You knew? How? And you let me worry?”

He flattened his lips. “I bugged your phone because you have unique access to me. After your first conversation with Vasily Sudkov, my men surrounded your apartment. They followed you. Sudkov and his men died before you got home. I had to know if you would kill me.”

Relief trumped my anger at his deception. “What now, Willie?”

He shrugged. “With Sudkov gone, you can resume your normal life. However, I want you to marry me. You once told me why you chose your profession. You said you have a nuclear-powered libido.

“I will give you a penthouse. You can do whatever you want. We can spend more time together doing things and going places. Win-win.”

I pursed my lips. Are machine guns and barriers really that bad? “How about we marry and I try to lead a monogamous life with you in your home? Can you get it up twice a week? Maybe three?”

“Piece of cake.”

We showered together and kissed before he went down on me. I think I can do this.

Writers' workshop and writing group