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The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

We were in a room.

The winter sun shone weakly through clerestory windows.

A small, tanned man, nearly bald, with a tightly drawn face sat at a long rectangular table.
“You wanted to see me?” I asked in Russian.
“Speak English,” he said.
“You speak English?”
He raised his eyebrow.
“All those times you spoke with a translator,” I mumbled.
“I want to surrender,” he said.
I looked for a chair.
“May I?” I asked, stalling for time.
He gestured.
“What are your terms?” I prevaricated.
Was this a plot? Was I going to be vaporized at the conclusion of our encounter?
“Safe passage to Bejing for me and my top people.”
“How does Xi-Jinping feel about it?”
Suddenly, I felt the icy chill others must have felt when they realized that they were looking at their assassin.
“You let me take care of that.”
“Anything else?’
“I want to pay reparations to Ukraine. I will give the West the secret Swiss bank account numbers of every Russian billionaire.”
I stared blankly.
“And millionaire.”
Nothing moved, not even the dust specks in the streaming rays of light.
“And reparations. Like Germany did under Adenauer.”
I wanted to ask him why he had changed his mind.
“I keep my fortune.”
I looked down.
For the first time, he shifted in his chair.
“Why?” I asked, though I knew I had exceeded the bounds of my role.
The question hung in the air.
“I feel sorry for you.”
I kept my expression blank.
“You elected a doddering fool and an absurd, what do they call it, diversified person who are running your country into the ground.”
“I beg your pardon?”
He smiled.
“It will be our secret,” he whispered conspiratorially in an imitation of the president. “Here’s the deal!” he laughed.””Let me make one thing clear!” he added, chuckling.
I was shocked.
“I watch FOX,” he said.
My thoughts were racing.
“You can’t play chess with yourself. They won’t bother me. I am symbol.”
I knew that there was more at stake. China might do to Russia’s Far East regions what Russia had done to Ukraine. I thought of Michael Borodin, the Comitern operative sent by Lenin and Stalin to organize the Chinese Communist party. His efforts, like Mickey Mouse’s replicating broom in Disney’s Fantasia became catastrophically successful.
I stood.
“It can all be done.”
“Zdorov’ye”.
That’s the one Russian word I know, I thought upon waking up.
About the Author
Elaine Rosenberg Miller writes fiction and non-fiction. Her work has appeared in numerous print publications and online sites, domestically and abroad, including JUDISCHE RUNDSCHAU, THE BANGALORE REVIEW, THE FORWARD, THE HUFFINGTON POST and THE JEWISH PRESS. Her books,, FISHING IN THE INTERCOASTAL AND OTHER SHORT STORIES, THE CHINESE JEW and THE TRUST are available on Amazon and Kindle.
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