Some Guy Named Soldano

Now that – except for some cleanup and tweaks, along with the fun time of trying to shop it around – Little Miss No Name is done, my brain has apparently already decided what it wants to do next. Unfortunately it doesn’t appear ready to pick up the narrative thread of Ioudas, Lune de Amant or Blood and Steel yet.

I was dreaming, prepping for my daily sojourn at the lovely hour of 3 A.M. to my place of work, and it was quite vivid. There was an older gentleman, sitting at a table set up for a chess game in a butcher shop or deli. He was smoking some kind of cheap cigarette and staring down at the board, glancing up at “me” as I came in. He spoke in broken English with a heavy Russian accent, and just would not shut up. There were pauses in his conversation – which, once I awoke, I realized where the places where “I” would have said something in the dream, but that were or are blanks at the moment – and he never once referred to “me” by name.

But he had a lot to say about a guy named Soldano.

“Hmmph. Soldano? He was monster before he became monster. 200 bodies we say are his. Now? He leave. He go somewhere else. Why you looking for him?”

“I tell you where he went, cop. Oh, don’t look so surprised. You cop. Maybe not anymore, maybe something happen? But still cop. You lose badge, doing this for you, not because some paper pusher tell you to? Yeah. You still smell like cop.”

“I not tell other cops where. Them… they not care. They care he gone, but not because is safer, now. They care because they no longer clean up his mess, no longer file papers. Thirty years he here, hundreds he hurt, kill. Never touch him. Now? He gone, they laugh and swing their sticks, and have less forms to fill out. But you, cop. You different. You, maybe find him. Maybe you kill him. So I tell you.”

“Virgin’s Grave. That’s where he goes, with his two friends. The upír. Old Shayden farm, you know the place? Da. Hundred years ago, farmer’s daughter go missing. She gone a month, maybe two. She returned, but not alive. Parts of her, nailed to the barn. Parts of her in dooryard. Other parts missing. Shayden, his heart broken. He tear down barn, make into shrine. Little statues, little plaque. They say, every year, she comes home again, looking for her killer, looking for her papa. I don’t believe. I know, you think me crazy, don’t you, cop? I believe in upír but not rusalka? Maybe I’m wrong. But I have seen upír.”

“They call Soldano boogeyman. Pah! I say, Stalin, he boogeyman. I call idiot Putin, he boogeyman. That Slender Man they talk about on the news, make those little girls kill, he boogeyman. You know difference, cop? Why Soldano not boogeyman? Boogeyman, he not real. He can’t hurt you. He story you tell children of why you left old country, of why you not go home, of why you be inside when it gets dark out and mama has supper ready. Soldano… he real.”

“Why I tell you these things? So I sleep at night. If I tell you, maybe you stop him. You seem like kind of man who might be able. Why? Maybe you lose somebody. Maybe he hurt a son, a sister, a papa, your wife? Don’t know. Doesn’t matter. I tell cops here, they laugh and shrug and drink. I tell you… maybe you find him. Maybe he kill you. Maybe you kill him. Either way, I did what I could, and maybe not me who’s son come home in pieces or not at all. Maybe not me who’s vnuchka nailed to bedroom wall one night. Now get out of here, cop. You scaring away business.”

“I tell you where to find boogeyman, you try to pay? Insulting. I not tell you for money, or expect pay for customers who not visit because cop in here. I tell you so you stop him. Take money and go. Never come back.”

There was more – quite a lot more – but those are some of the highlights. Old Dmitri told me quite a lot about Soldano’s early career, his troubled childhood, falling in with the Mafiya, and how one day he just seemed… different. So far as my – thusfar nameless – protagonist’s motivations for looking for Mr. Soldano, or if “Cop” knows what Soldano and his new associates really are – or would believe it if he did – Dmitri was silent. Because he doesn’t know “Cop,” I think. But Dmitri’s a doorway to the story. The question is if I go through, or leave Dmitri and his ramblings – and the identity of “Cop” and what he wants with Soldano – to gather dust and try to force myself back to Ioudas. Hmm.

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