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Twelve Minutes to Moscow

Love can Conquer all.

By Bruce Curle `Published about a year ago 18 min read
Twelve Minutes to Moscow
Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Unsplash

The Business was proving difficult as the Russian / Ukrainian conflict continued. Everyone was surprised at how well the Ukrainian military fought the Russians to a standstill and forced the mighty Russian army to flee in a panic. However, Stanley's Business suffered greatly, and he had successfully imported specialty vodka and other spirits from Eastern Europe. Sanctions had hurt the importance of the goods that came from Russia. Worse, some of his long-time clients wanted to avoid doing business with him if any goods came from Russia.

Stanley met his wife, Ukrainian wife Olga, in 2014 during the uprising in Ukraine. They had a fairy tale romance and were married in six months. Within two years, he had brought her to his home in Ottawa, Ontario, the capital city of Canada. Olga could speak many languages, and her previous work in the Ukrainian government taught her much about working through corrupt politicians, police, businesspeople and church officials. Her language skills were beyond belief, and she soon became his "Ace in the Hole" when doing Business with any buyer or seller east of Warsaw.

Olga only stood about 5' 1" inches tall and maybe weighed just over a hundred pounds, but she had a warrior's heart and the cunning of a wolf when she put her mind to business. Stanley saw his company proliferate indeed. His cottage industry business soon had warehouses in Ottawa, Toronto, and Calgary. It had just opened a warehouse in the Cayman Islands.

February 24th, 2022, when the first Russian troops crossed the border, and the shelling started changed some of their success. Stanley watched as the days became months and the months became a year, and the War seemed far from ending. Soon sanctions existed against some of the Russian Oligarchs, which would take a toll on their busy.

Olga sometimes would go off to meet with people to help the Business, but Stanley seemed increasingly in the dark about where she was. In December of 2022, Stanley discovered his wife's business trip to New York City had taken her to St. Martins in the Caribbean. He only found out by chance while reviewing business information online.

By Simon Godfrey on Unsplash

The following day he managed to locate her at the St. Martin Villa, an exclusive resort property.

As he spoke to her on the telephone, she seemed strangely distant and far different from the woman he loved and thought he knew so very well.

"Don't worry, I will tell you everything when I return in two days. Let's keep this trip to each other; competition is getting so fierce." She said in a commanding tone.

Two days later, she returned to their property in Ottawa with a slight tan complaining she had a headache and could not talk. After some time, he offered to put her stuff away, and she agreed to permit him to open her luggage.

Things were normal for several months with his beloved wife, Olga. The Business was still suffering from the sanctions. Still, it appeared the Business had a new infusion of cash and deals after her unmentioned trip to the Caribbean.

As winter slowly turned into spring, Olga approached him, "Stanley, I need to take a little trip to the Cayman Islands warehouse. I have been reviewing figures and data, and something is not quite right." She said in a business-like tone.

In many ways, Stanley was still a very "Cottage Industry" type of owner despite the sudden growth the company experienced in the last few years. He did, however, know figures and business graphs. He could tell inventory was moving around in the Caribbean, but with few sales to support these moves. "Olga, I will come with you," he said. "It will also be a short, nice business slash romantic adventure."

At first, Olga seemed hostile to this idea, and Stanley wondered if she would see another man or something worse. After a day, she seemed to warm up to this idea. Their flights to get to the Cayman Islands seemed uneventful at first. They changed aircraft in Atlanta and prepared for the final leg of their journey.

By Jaimie Harmsen on Unsplash

Though Olga had a Canadian passport now, American officials in Atlanta approached them, asking many awkward questions.

"Mr. Stanley Peters, do you go to the Caribbean a lot? Does your wife spend a lot of time in the Caribbean? Mr. Peters, are you now, or have you been associated with anyone in Cuba or Venezuela?"

For thirty minutes, the questions came at them until they stopped suddenly just before boarding for their connecting flight was to begin. Stanley tried to ask his wife about all these questions. She laughed and said her accent was still too "Eastern European," and these Americans thought she was "KGB" or something like that.

The flight was quiet, and Olga slept most of the way, but Stanley's head was still swirling with all the questions that had been asked; maybe it was just the Ukrainian War that was the problem. He hoped that was it, but something kept nagging at his brain.

By Aldrin Rachman Pradana on Unsplash

After landing, they found the Cayman Islands immigration so much friendlier and kind to them. Within twenty minutes, they exited the airport and headed to an excellent smaller hotel near where the Business would take them. The trip at first became a second honeymoon for the two of them. They danced late into the night in Georgetown, watched the sun rise and set on the Caribbean Sea and spent time playing on the beach. It was like a breath of fresh air.

Things changed significantly on the third day; Olga and Stanley went to their warehouse and met their local staff. They took a morning taxi to the warehouse district near the waterfront. A slight breeze was blowing. Later, Stanley said it was more like a tell-taker scene and that change was blowing in.

By Marc Babin on Unsplash

At the warehouse, they were greeted by Anton Lamonte smiled and shook both their hands, "It is so exciting to meet you both here. We have fresh coffee brewing and tea if you would prefer."

Stanley smiled politely and thanked Anton but said he always liked to get Business done first. Anton escorted them into the warehouse. Stanley was shown to the office to look at manifests and bills of lading. At the same time, Olga walked into the warehouse area to check the inventory physically.

Stanley found the office tidy, but someone had yet to turn on the air conditioner before he arrived. He sat at one desk in the main office and started his task without paying too my attention to the people around him. The office was already feeling warm despite only being eight in the morning.

An hour passed very quickly, and in this short time could already see several problems in the rather creative bookkeeping. "Who is Mr. Poppal?" Stanley asked Anton.

"Mr. Poppal, sir?" Anton said as he looked somewhat confused.

Stanley had looked at enough records over his lifetime to know when someone was trying their best to keep someone dazzled and confused with company records. The overheated room Record books with tea stains on some entries, and the chair with a partially damaged swivel feature.

Stanley turned slowly in his chair to face Anton. "I will ask once more where is and who is Mr. Poppal?"

Anton looked increasingly uncomfortable as the two others in the office found excuses to leave quickly.

"Well, I guess," replied Anton awkwardly.

"You guess?" said Stanley as he adjusted his glasses.

Anton's right hand and arm shook a small amount as he stared toward the ceiling and then at the floor. "Mr. Poppal is an accountant from the U.K., sir," he finally responded.

"O.k., now where is he." Said Stanley as he removed his glasses and stairs at him.

Just as his wife entered the office, she smiled at both before stopping in the doorway. "Should I come back?" she asked politely.

Stanley looked at his wife, "No, please stay; Anton and I were discussing Mr. Poppal."

Olga knew her husband very well; he rarely spoke in that tone. "I see a Mister,"

"Poppal, that is right," said Stanley, getting increasingly annoyed.

Anton looked at Olga momentarily like a wounded animal stuck in a leg-hold trap. He looked back at Stanley but did not speak or utter a sound.

"Anton, leave for a moment. Stanley, we need to talk privately for a moment." She said in a plain well-meant tone.

Anton did not need to hear those words twice; he was out of the office very quickly and moved right to the warehouse yard.

"Olga, do I finally get to be part of whatever this game is now?" Stanley turned his chair towards his wife; he was not entirely shocked by his wife's words. He knew something was going on for a few months now.

Olga slowly went to the office doors and ensured no other employees were still around. Afterward, she went to one of the other desks and sat in the chair behind it. "Stanley, I adore you and love you very much." She said as she looked deep into his facial features. Mr. Poppal does not wholly exist except on paper."

"Stanley removed his glasses and dropped them on the computer keyboard before him. "I am almost relieved to hear this news. If I had seen Mr. Poppal, I would have canned him on the spot. This record keeping is the type that gets someone five to ten in a Caribbean cell."

Olga knew she was now treading on dangerous ground for herself, her husband and anyone at the warehouse. "I guess it is how they say it, time to lay my cards on the table."

Stanley began moving a pen around in his fingers, an old habit he picked up in university. "Might be a great idea. Do I need a large rum after this, maybe a divorce attorney, or should I decide upon my last meal before the firing squad?"

"Darling, first firing squads are rarely done, especially in this part of the world. No divorce attorneys are needed unless you wish to confess to something. Large Rum, yes, for both of us and maybe several of them."

"Go on," he said as he dropped the pen. As he dropped his pen, he noticed it split at the end with a tiny wire sticking out.

They both looked at it for a moment, "Shit!" came out of Olga as Stanley broke the pen in two with difficulty.

"We must leave now; I do not know who monitors our conversation!" She exclaimed.

For the first time since he first met Olga, she appeared panicked. "Who is monitoring us?"

Olga went up close to him as he slowly stood up. She took his hands in hers and stared deep into his eyes, "I do not know for sure maybe, FISU, CSIS, MI6, highly possible it is FSK or CIA," she paused for a moment, "I doubt it is the French but the Mossad spies on everyone they are worse than the Chinese." She looked closely at him, "It does not matter; unless we get out of here, we are in terrible trouble."

Stanley straightened his tie, tucked in his shirt, "Yesterday, I was worried you were either going to leave me, embezzle from the business or might be feeding money back to the Ukraine or Russia."

She paused and peeked out the window, "Yes to the last two, my love."

"WHAT!" Stanley blared out before realizing he had said what he had done.

Olga opened a lower desk drawer, removed a Glock Handgun from the draw, and pulled out three clips of ammunition for it. Olga could see Stanley starting in disbelief. "When that old man pulled the U.S. troops out of Afghanistan, I knew it could trigger other world events." She put the gun into her bag as she spoke. "I had worked for Ukrainian Intelligence just before the takeover in 2014. I made good connections in Russian and Ukrainian circles over the years." She peeked out of the office door into the warehouse.

Stanley moved slowly behind her, feeling like he was suddenly thrust into one of those corny spy novels where the spouse did not know their other half was a secret agent. "Tell me, did you ever love me?" he asked.

She looked at him momentarily, "I have loved you since before we were married. Stay close behind; I told them to leave the service van near the office door."

Olga moved cautiously out of the door toward the small Japanese truck. She did not see anyone, not even the three or four employees or Anton, anywhere. Stanley followed, unsure why, but he took his briefcase with him. Olga got into the right-side door and motioned for Stanley to climb into the other side as she started the truck. She looked at him as he sat for a moment. "I have always liked you and love you. What a question to ask me," she said, appearing hurt as she started the vehicle.

The truck pulled out of the warehouse yard and onto a bust Georgetown Road, "You are carrying your passport as I asked you to," she asked him as she weaved the vehicle in and out of traffic.

He remembered thinking it odd two days ago when his wife asked him always keep his passport and essential documents on his person. She claimed she feared sneak thieves; she never mentioned spies from a dozen countries wanting to harm them. "Olga dear, do you remember that Ottawa Comedy Movie festival I took you to."

Olga quickly turned the vehicle to the right and gazed at her husband. "I guess so; why is it important?"

"The Pink Panther Movie with Inspector Cousteau in Munich with assassins everywhere." Stanley responses.

"My God, you, we are not that important. No party shooting galleries for us, my dear Stanley." She laughs as she notices a small red sedan in the rearview mirror. She begins to turn the truck to the left but, at the last moment, swings across traffic and turns the wrong way on a right-side road. "Hold on."

Stanley swung around in his seat as the truck turned swiftly to the right, "Tell me, my dear," he said in a passive but loud voice, "Are we just going to drive around Grand Cayman till the fuel runs out?"

Olga could not help but laugh as the truck swung around a tourist horse and buggy with Asian tourists on board. "We will lose them eventually and take a short trip to Little Cayman Island." She said in a tone one might use when mentioning they needed to stop for gas.

A moment later, they both heard the wail of police sirens somewhere behind them. "Well, my love seems. Besides having some unknown intelligence agency chasing us, we have the local police as well."

The small truck swung around a tight corner; a moment later, it approached the same horse and buggy. As they moved past, Stanley waved at the Asian tourists that seemed to be photographing them.

The drive through Georgetown took them up and down many of the small city's roads. For Stanley, it appeared that the whole town was chasing them at times. They suddenly had three different sedan vehicles following them. Stanley looked back to see a man in a motorcycle sidecar aiming what appeared to be a gun.

"Sidecars got a gun," Stanley bellowed.

As Olga swung across an intersection, the sidecar passenger fired a revolver several times at the truck. "You are right, my love. You are so clever." She looked back for a brief moment before she pressed the gas pedal almost through the floorboards.

Stanley looked at the motorcycle as it got nearly, "I think they are Chinese shotting at us,"

Olga stared straight ahead, occasionally tooting the little vehicle horn, "No, I believe they are North Koreans."

Stanley was not too surprised, but he had to ask; he was just too curious now. "So why do the North Koreans want to kill us?"

Olga briefly shrugged, "Oh, I know," she said. "Remember that old caviar we had a year or two ago."

"The expired stuff I send we would have to take a loss on,"

A Bullet struck the rear window and became embedded in the dash. "You said you found a unique solution."

I sold it to an Algerian trader with contacts in Pyongyang, including some old maps and plans for a German Dive Bomber."

"What? You gave military plans to the North Koreans." Stanley tossed his arms into the air, "We are going to get life in front of a firing squad."

She laughed as the side of the truck knocked into the motorcycle, forcing it off the road and into a fruit venue. "Plans off the internet for a 1939 German Stuka Dive Bomber. The North Koreans ate up the spoiled caviar and took the plans. I think they are a little pissed at us."

As the truck moved out onto a country road, it appeared they were driving without an escort.

"How many different countries are mad at us? Just a little curious?" Stanley said in a sarcastic tone.

"I am a Ukrainian woman, but with a great deal of family in Belarus, Russia and a few other places. Sometimes I sold things to Russians and Americans, or Canadians. I even sold to both Koreas, a few middle eastern nations, Nigeria, Cuba and others."

"I see; nothing to the Ukrainians?" he said with a half grin.

"I sold them intelligence or rumours, I heard. I also had us donate a hundred thousand diapers, underwear and socks." She remarked as she checked her rearview mirror. "Before you ask, we are driving to Old Man Bay, a villa; a couple of people have fast boats that will get us to Little Cayman Island, where we can discuss and collect our thoughts."

At this point, Stanley barely paid any attention; in the last few hours, he had been shot at, chased by assassins and the police. He doubted his quiet, boring life in Ottawa would ever return. He actually was doubtful he would see Ottawa once more.

Olga could see Stanley staring off into the fields, "Do you remember the Crystal Caves? We visited there a year or so ago."

"Cave, oh yha, the cave. I guess that was before motorcyclists shot at us. Before police chased us, every spy group wanted our heads on crystal platters." Stanley answered in an almost dream-like state.

Olga pulled the truck over; she took Stanley by the hand as she spoke, "Stanley, I do love you; you've always been kind, generous and loving to me. I am so sorry; this all started with me trying to help a few old friends, which snowballed into this whole affair." She gently leaned over and kissed his cheek. "If we can get off this island, we should be fine. I have an account with funds at the ready, located in an account in the Bahamas. At the Villa, I have an emergency kit for both of us, "

Olga looked all around and started to drive once more. She made excellent time to the Old Man Villas, which were not far from the Crystal Caves. She held Stanley by his left hand into the Villa. The Villa was a mix of Caribbean and old European cultures. An older lady greeted her with a warm embrace. Stanley stood at the lobby door, looking at the road and a few scattered children.

After a few minutes, Olga reappeared with a set of keys, "Everything seems to be good for now."

"Remember," Stanley said as he stared at her.

"Remember what, my love," Olga said quietly.

"Remember, in 2014, I told you I would love you till time itself ended," he said as he turned and looked out toward the road.

Olga started out the door and replied, "Yes, of course," as she stopped moving and looked into his eyes.

"Heaven or Hell, let's get this over with." He said, putting on the bravest expression he could create.

Olga knew her husband was gentle, intelligent, loving, and so sweet to her constantly. Still, she never thought they could be on the run forever. Worse still die simultaneously in a hail of bullets from friends and foes.

She led him to a brightly painted shed. She went to a set of doors using the keys she had just got. She unlocked the door, and they pulled the heavy door open together. Inside was an old Land Rover vehicle. A moment later, she loaded two suitcases into the vehicle's rear. She pointed Stanley toward a large crate in the semi-light. He pushed and pulled till the lid opened. Inside was an assortment of firearms and what appeared to be explosive devices.

Olga looked surprised when Stanley took an Uzi machine pistol and loaded it, and pulled the small hammer back on it. Stanley smiled, "I have a few secrets of my own," Stanley loaded two other weapons in record time as Olga selected a few weapons of various sorts for herself.

"Wish we had time to talk and do a few other things, she kissed Stanley passionately for a short moment. As the kiss ended, she lifted her weapons and said, "Let's go. We have only fifteen minutes to reach the boat launch.

Anton suddenly appeared near the shed, "I will close up; go quickly. They are near!"

Stanley waved and, in another sarcastic tone, "Cheerio then."

Olga slapped his arm as he climbed into the vehicle. "No need to be rude,"

The Land Rover engine started and choked momentarily before fully coming to life. The car pulled out of the shed; Anton was visible for a moment closing the shed.

As the Land Rover pulled out onto the road, they both could see vehicles in the distance driving toward the Villa. "Oops, seems the Villa is going to get crowded." laughed Stanley.

Olga turned hard onto a farmer's road and began driving along a field of Bananas. The Land Rover accelerated for several moments without seeing any other vehicles of anyone else. They could see two boats burning near the launch as they approached the boat landing.

"Is there a Plan B?" asked Stanley as he cradled his weapon.

Olga was surprised to see the boats abaze, but she had already considered this before leaving the villa. She placed the vehicle in reverse, backing up to a dirt trail. "Off to the Helicopter Pad, it is.

The Land Rover bounced up and down through part of a Banana farm, turning into Pepper Field. Several workers were busy in the field, and Stanley and Olga waved politely as they passed. Stanley was looking at the farmers in the field when the vehicle suddenly stopped.

He turned to see why Olga had stopped suddenly. " I remember another movie we saw called Thema and Louise," said Olga.

Their car was stopped on a slight hill, coming down two separate roads where vehicles, one of the vehicle groups, had visible flashing lights. "Funny thing, I do not think they can see each other?" asked Stanley. As he was speaking he reached under his seat and pulled out several CDs. "Does the CD Player Work?"

Olga was looking around as their escape options disappeared and found it bizarre her husband wanted to play CDs" YES, I guess so!"

He waved the CD at her momentarily and placed it in the player. The stereo came to life playing Bob. Seagers Hollywood Nights. Olga smiled and slapped the vehicle into gear. "God, I love you."

Both roads could see the car gaining speed coming towards them. The Land Rover crashed through a row of peppers and squashes as it drove straight ahead. Everyone was increasing speed as Stanley leaned out of his window.

"Heaven or Hell!" he laughed as Bob Seager blared out over the entire volume of the stereo. His machine pistol began to ring out as they drew closer.

A Police Land Rover on the right road discovered a black SUV was travelling on a parallel road. The Police vehicle turned hard into the SUV, causing both vehicles to verve off the road and into a Banana Field.

Stanley's fire did not strike anything except several peppers and bananas. The other people in the vehicles also began to fire whatever firearms they had. Olga drove across a connecting road past the two colliding SUVs and kept pushing through the fields.

Vehicles were driving into fields, bumping into each other as dust clouds covered the area. At times the various cars were shooting at anything they saw, creating several broken windshields and flat tires.

Olga laughed as she soon noticed no one appeared near their old Land Rover. A few minutes later, they saw the private Helipad. She stopped the car at the edge of the Helipad as several people rushed around their vehicle with weapons at the ready.

Olga stepped out and spoke in Russian for a moment. A man in his late sixties appeared, hugged her and gave several orders to the others. Moments later, Olga introduced her Uncle Latamere to Stanley. Stanley climbed out of the vehicle, and two people took the luggage from the rear.

Olga walked with Stanley quickly to the Helicopter that was busy preparing to leave. Stanley looked back to the old Land Rover being pushed over an embankment. "Thank you, Bob Seager." he laughed.

By Trosh Bias on Unsplash

A moment later, the two were high above the fields, "No questions about my Uncle?" said Olga with a smile.

"I guess no more boring Ottawa," said Stanley knowing he would not miss Trucker Protests, the city's politics, but knowing that little coffee shop's cinnamon buns would be forever missed.

Olgs laughed and hugged him, and she was even surprised they escaped the Cayman Islands. Olga looked at the digital clock in the helicopter, "Look it is twelve minutes to midnight in Moscow."

Authors Note

In this Story, I explored love, politics, war, embezzlement and more. I may bring this lovely couple back in a sequel. Thank you for reading; I enjoy people following my work and always appreciate comments.

Bruce Curle 2023.

Short StoryMysteryLoveHumorAdventure

About the Creator

Bruce Curle `

A Fifty something male that enjoys writing short stories, scripts and poetry. I have had many different types of work over my lifetime and consider myself fairly open minded and able to speak on many topics.

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