lizzie’s bar

When Kuznetsov left her Zoya Klimova went into a deep spiral. She slept all day unless she had an appointment at the tattoo parlor. She dragged herself to work, arriving fifteen or twenty minutes late every night, drawing squinty eyes from her boss. Her short encounters with men – all at the bar – exposed them as weak, contemptible, limited. She wanted another man, but he had to be exactly like Kuznetsov. But that was the rub; no one was as determined – violently determined – as he was. The men who took their shot at Zoya seemed so needy, so human, so… unheroic. She loved Kuznetsov even though she never understood him. She didn’t even know why he left. Now, she had no idea where he was. Fighting as a mercenary in some turf war in Africa? Looting a depository? Carrying out a daring ransom scheme on a captured heiress? When Antonov squared up at the bar he reminded her, physically, of Kuznetsov. Six-foot-two, all muscle, shaved head, square jaw. After some small talk he tried to get her to agree to see him, when she was free, for dinner. For once, Zoya Klimova was open to the idea. Kuznetsov and his adventures didn’t cross her mind as she suggested Thursday, the next night she didn’t have work. I can’t do Thursday, said the man, I have a conference. A conference? Yes, I work in sales and am out through Friday. Zoya lost interest – she had thought he looked like something other than what he was. A wave of longing for Kuznetsov rushed over her like a seiche. He was the only one who understood the folly of mankind and did anything about it. She sulked through the rest of her shift and went home to sleep.

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