GOD OF TRAITORS
A novel by Zdravka Evtimova
Copyright June 2004 by Zdravka Evtimova, all rights reserved. The characters, incidents, and dialogue are products
of the author's imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is
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GOD OF TRAITORS
A novel by Zdravka Evtimova
LARRY HOFFBURG thought that someone had simply pulled a dirty trick on him. Not very far from the window to the south in his office giving a magnificent view of the surrounding park someone had left a part of a Leila doll -- a little left hand of the exquisite Leila doll, which his factory produced. Larry had good reason to go off the deep end: the tiny left hand of a doll appeared in his office on three consecutive days: always at the same place, in front of the gray screen of the computer. It looked as though the plastic thing was thrown casually there, but no, now that he came to think about it he concluded that the posture of the hand was always the same. The little plastic fingers pointed directly at the body of the Chief Executive Officer and founder of the company that produced the most popular toys in half of the world.
"Who the hell brought that junk here?" Larry muttered under his breath. "Never mind. This time Adrienne Tott will get it in the neck!"
Adrienne Tott was Larry's secretary, a tall breathtaking natural blonde whom the boss trusted completely. She managed the whole administrative team; her vigilant eyes were forever on the alert and neither a living soul nor an inanimate object could wriggle its way to the company without being weighed, analyzed, torn to pieces, and assessed by her. Adrienne had been working for Toys International for eight years; legends and tales were invented in her honor and she well deserved that -- she started as an ordinary typist, unexpectedly moved up the hierarchy reaching unbelievable administrative heights. With time, she became Larry's personal advisor, Larry's secretary and consultant selecting the high ranking staff; personnel policy director, managing director etc. She was, in short, a person without whose approval the sun simply couldn't rise and shine in the cloudless sky above the plants of Toys International. However, the left hand of the cute Leila doll appeared three times in the Chief Executive Officer's office.
In the beginning, Larry Hoffburg had not paid any attention to it. On the first day, he simply pulled a wry face and chucked it in the waste paper basket. He couldn't be sure when exactly he'd felt the pain in his left arm. Did it happen while he was having lunch with a client when Adrienne came and informed him of an urgent message about the shipments of toy guns to Europe? Or perhaps the painful tightening of the muscles of his wrist started in the late afternoon while he was enjoying a well-earned rest in the easy chair in his study at home. He could not remember. In fact, the pain went almost immediately and Larry instantly forgot all about it. But when on the following day he again caught a glimpse of the plastic hand of the doll at the same place in front of the gray computer screen-- the memory of pain had seized him and together with the memory the annoying spasm in his left wrist made him shudder. Larry's left arm went numb and he could not move it for about a minute. That, however, was not the most unpleasant thing about it. Soon the pain in the wrist turned into an enormous wave that swept over his body leaving him immobile and stiff like a corpse. Then most unexpectedly the numbness was gone simply vanishing without a trace as if it had never been there but the plastic hand of the doll remained pointing its cute pink fingers at the Chief Executive Officer.
"What was that, for God's sake?" Larry moaned in amazement grabbing the cold piece of plastic. His eyes studied carefully the small piece of the toy. There was noting peculiar about it; at first sight everything appeared to be exactly like all the billions of similar pieces that Hoffburg's plants spewed out every single day. Larry, however, had never trusted the impressions he got at first sight.
He didn't take seriously love at first sight either. Larry was quite skeptical even about his relationship with Adrienne; a series of legends had it had that it had originated "at first sight". Before he invited Adrienne to his bedroom he had hired a detective agency of repute that worked whole-heartedly for a year and a half trying to establish what sort of a rum bird that beautiful blonde Adrienne Tott was. He knew not only the names of the people who had adopted her and the names of their fathers and grandfathers; he had flown hundreds of times over their small estate not far from the Rhine where her adoptive mother still lived. Larry had at hand the results of Adrienne's extensive medical examinations: her blood, skin, urine, fitness, personality and psychological test were carefully studied by experts; he had collected reliable data about all organs of her body and had consulted doctors of medicines on their proper functions. He had detailed information about the price of the medicines that the attractive lady had used in the past to treat some minor indisposition like the flu or ordinary colds. He had familiarized himself painstakingly with her relationships with other men before he met her.
Of course, Adrienne enjoyed great attention on the part of male individuals and that was not hard to explain. It was enough to have a look at her photograph for only a second. Nevertheless, the guys who had worked on the fair lady's CV with respect to her love conquests had not discovered a single long-standing relationship; the most common were the whirlwind romances that lasted no more than three or four months. It was invariably Adrienne who broke with the man, but she had lived with Larry for eight years and so far had shown no signs of intending to leave him.
It was not an accident that Larry, pressing the pink plastic hand of the doll with his fingers, devoted ten minutes of his busy working schedule to ruminations about his attractive secretary. Adrienne Tott was the only person in Toys International who had access to that office with the gray easy chairs, the computer and the two prickly cacti - the only representatives of animate nature, which Larry had admitted into the immediate vicinity of his body. He could not stand animals and plants; they most often carried microbes, viruses and harmful strains of bacteria, but the cactuses They were the only favorites of Larry's, his life turned into a feast whenever tiny rosy-violet blossoms came out on their bumpy stooping backs. Then he was in the best of moods. Now the cactuses had again prepared for their rosy fiesta, but only a foot or two behind them the plastic hand of the Leila doll lay.
The hand of the doll, which he found for the second time on his desk, was subjected to most thorough tests in the laboratories of Toys International plants. Larry himself had watched each separate process of the overall analysis and had studied carefully the results. He held a Ph.D. degree in inorganic synthesis but the lengthy chemical formulas that appeared on the monitors did not arouse the slightest suspicion that something was wrong. The plastic hand he had found in his office was nothing more than a plastic hand -- a piece of one of Leila dolls with funny wide open eyes that made little girls shed passionate tears making their mothers buy them from the local department stores. In fact, Leila dolls turned out to be very lucrative invention for Toys International.
The third time he found a Leila doll hand, the pain exploded in Larry Hoffburg's wrist without its preliminary spasm. It was so excruciating that at the very first instant he lost his balance. Then he attempted to walk and to his amazement made it -- he moved the small of his back slightly, then bent forward to the left, jerked his head in the direction of the door, and stretched out his right hand. Except for his left hand, his body obeyed him. Even his left shoulder carried out his commands. He tried to bend his left arm and was again successful. The pain had dug an agonizing maze in his wrist, in the palm and fingers - exactly the items of the pink plastic piece, which lay in front of his computer.
"It's not only an absurd practical joke!" Larry Hoffburg whispered. "Adrienne must really get it in the neck!"
Now he was absolutely sure. The doors of his office admitted only two persons: Larry Hoffburg and Adrienne Tott. Only they possessed a smart card that opened the series of five consecutive doors. Actually, Larry had always supported the opinion that inaccessibility of this kind was not necessary - his factories produced only toys after all, not nuclear weapons.
"The office of the owner is a matter of prestige the more inaccessible the Chief Executive Officer the greater the probability that the rabble would proclaim him as the next god of success," little Adrienne had said. And you are a god, dearest, didn't you know that?"
Perhaps it was true that his subordinates and most of the thousands of
employees earning a living in his factories thought he was a god. He worked his
way up from scratch -- a wretched petty troubleshooter repairing dumped electrical
appliances; that's what he had been. Years ago he blushed with shame whenever he
had to answer how much money he made a year. Larry had always dreamt of
much, much money. So much that even the factories he owed and the billions of
dollars he made now seemed to be a funny child's play. A man of much money
should possess a deluxe personal office. A place in which only the presence of the
two cactuses and, from time to time, the sojourn of the blonde fairy Adrienne were
allowed; Adrienne who in all probability had smuggled the plastic hand of the doll
into his office. Larry himself had never brought a similar piece of plastic there.
Was it possible? Adrienne This thought was quite unpleasant and he tried to drive it away. Well, if Larry had to be precise, the name of the charming blonde enchantress was not Adrienne. He had chosen it for her because he could not stand her real name Rosalind. The crude clanking sounds of Rosalind did not become the exquisite blue-eyed girl. Whenever Larry heard somebody shout "Rosalind!" he inevitably imagined a fat harridan on the verge of kicking up a row. Adrienne sounded soft and enticing like a whisper of a woman in love at the end of summer; that name reminded him of a Roman empress a golden halo of magic and power around her head The pain in his left hand began to wear off. Still, it was the flaxen-haired siren for whom Hoffburg fought and transformed into a glamorous business tycoon, it was she that had sneaked the doll's hand into his office. The damned piece of plastic turned the wrist of his left hand into an enormous iceberg of freezing pain. Adrienne but why should she do that? And how, for God's sake, could the darned thing influence him? Wasn't that absolutely absurd
Larry Hoffburg's name had turned into a powerful myth not only for the people who worked in his factories. Young and old mentioned it in almost reverential tones in all European cities where Toys International had subsidiaries. Popular legend had it that the humble troubleshooter scratching a living repairing rusty boilers and electric cookers was a great charmer. He had set his heart on winning a fair lady - Jennifer, the last daughter of an ancient, but impoverished aristocratic family. According to the myth, Larry could not derive substantial benefit from his marriage to the aforesaid gentlewoman, but all the same he tied the nuptial knot because he was a noble young man. The myth invariably underlined Larry's heart of gold but overlooked the fact that gentle Jennifer was a bloated mass of fat, so big that even her blue eyes prone to often shed tears were hardly visible on a flat large face that resembled a piece of jelly and ice-cream cake.
The popular fairy tale abounded in details about how Larry, on the second day of his married life, settled down to business transforming the old castle smelling discreetly of mould into a major tourist attraction. He installed a couple of mechanical vampires in the drowsy uninhabited rooms; electronic reptiles crawled in the interminable vaulted cellars; irresistible beauties with firm shapely breasts were rescued on every alternate Sunday by noble knights provided the tourist paid a reasonable $250 fee. Adrienne Adrienne, the woman he had admitted to his office and his bed, the fairy who had always been the brains of their relationship, he had to give her that. He stated explicitly from the very beginning: the former typist Rosalind should cherish no hopes that she would ever become Mrs. Hoffburg. Larry would never divorce his wedded wife. He had simply given Adrienne chances to profit by living with him, she had unlimited funds at her disposal, people shuddered at the thought of her fragile flitting shadow.
At a later stage, she could ensnare another big shot, hopefully as big as the famous producer of toys Larry Hoffburg. At present he wanted her only for himself and isolated her meticulously from his influential friends, all of them respected gentlemen belonging to the world of high finance. Was that the reason, which had enraged her? Did his behavior goad beautiful Adrienne into planting the doll's hand in his office?
For a split second, Larry Hoffburg froze in his tracks. The fingers of his left hand had fumbled by chance in his jacket pocket where he usually kept his handkerchief. He needed it at that very moment; the thought of Adrienne had embarrassed him and his forehead was clammy with perspiration. His fingers pressed an exquisite leg of a Leila doll wearing a cute gray jack-boot.
Larry Hoffburg knew subconsciously what would come next. An avalanche of fear clogged his throat and grew uncontrollable turning into panic. The familiar spasm bit his right ankle. A minute after that the sharp pain stabbed him, relentless, dispassionate like death itself. Somebody had slipped the doll's leg into his jacket pocket. He had to remember whom he had met in the morning, he simply had to by all means! He thought hard: it was Wednesday - the only day of the week when he had breakfast with his wife Jennifer. But that day he had not visited Jennifer - of late her enormous fat face made him feel too irritable. He could imagine his wife spreading the dramatic news that Larry had neglected her on the only day he had agreed to dedicate an hour of his precious time to her. Well, he preferred the wry faces of all the other relatives to Jennifer's enormous cheeks, which reminded him of a gammon steak. So, he had met no one in the morning. No one approached him because this morning Larry did not feel like having breakfast. What should his conclusion be then?
He suddenly remembered: on his way to the office, he had stopped for a minute to kiss Adrienne. Again Adrienne She was the only person that could plant the doll's leg in his pocket. He had to summon her right away.
He tried to remember what, in Adrienne, had attracted him so much.
He was again startled by memory of how rapidly the young woman appeared before his eyes. He had forbidden himself many times to steal admiring glances at her slim body. He had ordered himself to avoid, at least during the first minute of their meetings, her quaint eyes - greenish-blue, with deceitful golden spots around the pupil that began to burn every time when Adrienne was pleased with something. He had never succeeded in making her admire him.
The only person Larry fully trusted, his old butler Theodore, had not liked the blonde fairy.
"Bitch," was the brief comment about her he passed. Theodore was 75. In the past, he used to work as a guard of a parking lot and spoke with such a genuine admiration for the cars Larry possessed that the Chief Executive Officer of Toys International found a job for Theodore at his enormous home. The butler had made a lasting friendship with his boss; for many years now he had been responsible for the rooms in which Adrienne had chosen to leave her things.
"The little one has turned your head," old Theodore had expressed his dissatisfaction with a groan of contempt. "Be careful with her!"
Theodore wondered how Adrienne managed to ensnare the hardheaded businessman. The other women Larry had been infatuated with were neither uglier nor dumber than Adrienne. When Theodore saw the slim blonde at Larry's formal reception for the first time he gave her a month and a half at most in his boss's bed. Unlike all the other smashing women Larry was attracted to Adrienne Tott enraged fat Jennifer in the very beginning asking her if she was Mr. Hoffburg's mother. Theodore did not approve of her flashing eyes that made his employer fall into ecstasies over the prospect of spending the night with her. Jennifer gave the old butler a hundred-dollar bill to throw out the brazen hussy. Adrienne gave him five hundred dollars, so Theodore brought her to Mr. Hoffburg's bedroom on the stroke of midnight though the party was not over yet.
Ten days after that event, fat Jennifer received a brief letter from the typist.
Theodore remembered every word of it.
"Dear Jennifer," it said. "I would like to inform you I do not regret that I have stolen your husband. He is so sweet. I suggest you accept the situation calmly and reasonably, so in return I'll be able to let him have breakfast with you on Wednesdays. You are free to spend the time with Larry as you please. I would strongly advise you against telling him how much you love him.
Old Theodore still kept that letter. Directly after he read it he expressed his opinion that the typist Rosalind would be arrested and detained for disruptive behavior. He predicted that on the very next day, Larry would make all necessary arrangement for the pert intruder to be fired and kicked out of Toys International with worst possible reference from her current employer. Something most unexpected happened - the pert intruder's name was changed and she was given a name of an empress: Adrienne. Gossips and malicious rumors dwelt extensively on all phases of her vigorous forward march but Theodore did not believe "that bitch.". He had received many presents from her but his suspicions lingered and Adrienne's presence in Larry's sumptuous home gave rise to cold lurking hostility between them.
"She has turned your head," Theodore grumbled from time to time. "Some day the little bitch will get you into big trouble."
It was obvious that some day had come and Theodore's dark prognosis was coming true.
Still, Larry Hoffburg trembled against his will, struck with admiration as Adrienne's quick light steps approached him. The memory of Theodore's gloomy eyebrows, of his figure that stiffened with aversion whenever Adrienne handed the butler her coat and hat brought Larry Hoffburg to his senses. Yet he could not get rid of the desire that her quiet caressing steps aroused. He imagined Adrienne's shoes, her feet in them, her breasts that a poet had compared to little hillocks of snow in the beginning of winter. Larry had paid a fat bundle to the poet who composed the lyric for her. The poem was worth the money he spent; its lines mirrored real Adrienne, tender, enticing and inscrutable. To hell with her! This time he would not allow her charm to have the better of him.
Adrienne Tott, the woman who with almost one hundred percent certainty had left Leila's plastic hand in the office of the CEO of Toys International. Adrienne Tott, the only person Larry had met in the morning that could slip the plastic leg in gray jack-boot into his pocket. Then the pain came deadening the corresponding part of his body. Larry Hoffburg had never thought how he was to get into conversation with Adrienne. It was she that always started talking first her words relaxing magically his tired senses, her caresses warming the indifferent blood of his body. But this time
"What will you tell me about that?" Larry said panting, stretching out his hand to her.
He held a little leg and a hand belonging to Leila the doll in his palm. Hoffburg shuddered when he caught a glimpse of the young woman's face. The familiar calm ironic expression was gone, there was no trace of Adrienne's haughtiness that usually imparted cold superiority to her whole being. The skin of her cheeks and chin appeared ashen and wet with sweat. The make-up on her eyelids was smudged and for a split second Larry had the impression that the eerily painted eyelids covered two icy black cavities. He felt horrible.
"Are you OK, Adrienne?"
The young woman did not answer. She looked at him her hands clasped tightly together. Then suddenly the doll's tiny face was in Adrienne's palm beaming its fatuous smile at them. Larry studied it carefully. Actually the blonde held a little plastic ball -- Leila's head - without its usual thatch of beautiful auburn hair, a head without a neck and ears, only a face with lips and eyes that appeared somehow silly.
"I found that for three consecutive days in my office," Adrienne whispered. "Look!"
Her fingers tapped carefully at the plastic ball. The line of the eyebrows appeared slightly distorted, the plastic ball rolled in the palm of the pretty woman and split into two halves. A tiny piece of plastic resembling a hazelnut fell out of them.
"It reminds me of a human brain," Larry muttered. "O, my God!"
"It is the third day," the young woman whispered. "I can't stand it any more. It feels as if somebody's broken my skull and is burning the living cells inside. I can't stand it"
She delved in her handbag looking desperately for something. After a short hesitation she unclenched her fists nervously and Larry saw two more uneven plastic balls resembling hazelnuts.
"Adrienne!" was all he could utter. Then a thought flashed through his mind: the latest models of Leila dolls produced in the factories of Toys International were really designed in such a way that their heads could split into parts thus allowing the kids to familiarize themselves with the structure of human brain.
"Is she really sick or is she just shamming?" Larry thought. The long years he had lived with her prompted him to be particularly wary of rash conclusions. In fact, he had never known what to expect of this woman.
This concludes Chapter One of GOD OF TRAITORS by Zdravka Evtimova. You may read the entire novel, in HTML, Microsoft Reader (LIT), Adobe Acrobat (PDF), or Palm Reader (PSD) formats for only $2.99. To buy the entire novel, click the PayPal Button (you don't have to be a PayPal member to use it).