The Egypt in My Looking Glass: A Novella

The Egypt in My Looking Glass: A Novella

by Yuri Kruman


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Twenty-five years after their hellish emigration - thirty from their famous father's exodus - a sister and her brothers hear his voice again. All three have long since "made it" in the States, despite - maybe, because of - his abandonment. Forced by his own divorce to question everything, Vlad reels and frolics to forget himself - and learn to live again. Skirt-chasing author Mark, seething with writer's block, commits himself to marry by a verbal slip. Alla's precocious children prod her to examine who she is and why. A sleazy cousin - Tolik, hopeless Brighton product - is about to score his one big hit, again. His brother, Boris, now religious, struggles to transcend his past. A family get-together threatens to ignite their old resentments. Edouard Yablonskiy, freshly minted dissident, has one last chance to make amends. His three grown children now must choose - to exit their own Egypt and forgive or let the past demand their satisfaction.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781491847763
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Publication date: 01/03/2014
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 1,040,934
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.44(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Egypt in my Looking Glass

A Novella

By Yuri Kruman


Copyright © 2013 Yuri Kruman
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4918-4776-3



Tolik jumped out from his black Altima, incensed.

"You stupid fucker, you just hit me! What's your problem? Why did you cut me off? Where are you looking, idiot?"

"Fuck you. You cut me off, you bastard. It's your fault."

The Paki cabbie in his Pashtun garb was fierce. His dye-job-looking orange beard was bobbing as he yelled, "You pay me. There is damage."

"Fuck you, you Paki bastard. You're at fault. You're paying me for this. That's like $2K, at least," he lied.

"You fucking Jew, I pay you nothing! I will sue you."

"Not before I do, you Osama asshole. You ever heard of Weil & Manges? Well, you will. That's the best law firm in the world. My cousin will destroy your ass."

Things nearly came to blows on Coney Island Avenue and Brighton on a Monday morning. Police pulled up. The siren halted spittle, promises to knock out teeth, if not away at once. The officers were quick to urge restraint.

One took the lead. "Stand back. Calm down. You step away, Sir. And you too. What happened here?" A flood poured out from both.

"He hit me, officer."

"No, he hit me."

"Alright, not all at once. You Sir, is this your cab? And this, your Altima? Alright. I'm gonna ask you both to get back in your cars. Back in the car, Sir, yes. You need to move your cab down to the curb. Then put the car in Park and wait for Officer Dominguez. He'll need your license, registration. Have it ready. And your medallion number, too. Sir, please stop yelling and get going. Don't make me take you in and book you now. Yes, I will give you my badge number. First, move your cab please. Now." The cabbie cursed in Pashto and in Arabic and slammed his door shut.

Tolik operated calmly, getting in his car. Procedure was ingrained by now, from multiple encounters.

"License and registration, please." The officer twisted his face in knots, pronouncing without a clue. "A-na-to-ly. Anatoly. Yab-lon-ski. Mr. Yablonski, do you own this car?"

"Yes, officer, I do."

"Alright, tell me what happened here." He waited with his notepad ready. Tolik evaluated him. South Bronx kid, probably not more than twenty-three. His forearms glared with cluttered tats. One said "MARIA RIP," the other showing a large, bleeding heart and date, 11/5/09. At least the young man's fervor was in service of the law. One felt safe, only just. They boded well, recruits like this. Well, he was nice enough.

Tolik explained with well-feigned calm, "He came out from my left and cut me off when turning from the left lane on to Brighton. Crazy guy. He hit me on the front, trying to squeeze in. I need to get insurance info from this guy."

"Alright, Sir, just a second. He didn't show his turn before he hit you, nothing?"

"No. The cars from there go straight. I've lived here twenty years—I'd know."

"Uh-huh. And were you speeding?"

"Not at all! I was just parked there, at the stoplight, then I went on green."

"Alright. Sit tight."

Tolik observed the time. How long would this outrageous waste of time go on? It managed to be eight. He was already twenty minutes behind schedule. He dialed the receptionist.

"Hey, I'll be in late today. Some asshole cabbie hit me on the way. Police is here, it's taking time. Just a disaster. Can you call the nine o'clock and tell them I'll be late? [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], I'll see you soon."

What stress relief, this girl. Ouwhee! He had her in his palm, too. She was from Bishkek and fresh. No papers, not a soul for family here. Just dropped down in his lap, responded to his ad. Sweet Lord, a body just to die for. Tolik drifted off.

The officer appeared. "Sir," Tolik bit his bottom lip, surprised. "Here's the insurance information."

"Fank you, offifer," he mumbled through the pain.

Hamid Abdali. May he be entered from behind, in peace, the bastard.

"Have a nice day, Sir."

"Thank you, officer. And you, as well." He rolled the window up and carried on. The anger simmered, but he let it go. He took off. Potap and Nastya blasted high, "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]."

He pulled up to a building, Midtown Office Center under the Gowanus, up toward the water. He parked with great precision by the chain-link fence. Upon floor 2, he greeted client 1 quite curtly, asking for 5 minutes. Inside the room, marked with a lawyer's shingle, he sat down. He took out his Lenovo laptop from his backpack and began the day. After a couple clicks, Tolik picked up the phone and called in Masha over intercom. "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]"

He shut the door as she walked in. He grabbed her by the waist and pulled her in, kissing her strongly on the mouth and neck. Frazzled, protesting weakly, she gave in. He copped a feel, his hand now hiking up her skirt. Just as he felt her, wet and riled, the phone cut short the fun. She quickly straightened skirt, her hair and blouse. He signaled what would happen later and picked up.

"[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]." He found the Purell bottle, spurting out, with doctor's motion to apply all over, carefully—not to miss a spot. "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]." He hung up, texting Masha, "send him in."

The client knocked and was invited in. Tolik collected papers from the table quickly, throwing pile on chair.





This Kostya had a sorry accent. Born here or came young.

"Alright, so what is it you want my help with? Let's get right to the point."

"Oh, well, he said you know some people that do treatments after accidents."

"Wait, you're the lawyer with your own new office out on Emmons, right?"

"Yep, that's me."

"You do PI, med mal, all that assorted shit, correct?"

"Yeah, that's my bread and butter."

"Alright, I get the picture. I got what you need. Hey Kostya, you know Weil and Manges?"

"You're probably referring to Weil, Gotshal, right?"

"Yeah, it's a long name." he waved off. "I got a cousin who's a partner there. We are close like this." Tolik raised index and the middle finger, lingering with emphasis.

"Partner at Weil?! Damn, that's hot shit. What is his name?"

"Don't worry, you don't need to know. But let's just say he's taught me quite a lot. You have to know, you're dealing with someone who knows his craft."

"And that I see." Kostya was thoroughly impressed.

"Partner at Weil. That's crazy shit, bro."

"Don't bro me. We don't know each other."

Kostya threw up his palms. "I'm sorry, you are right. All business."

"Alright. Now listen up. I need to know that I can trust you. Give me references."

"You want my references?!"

"You heard me right. Don't waste my time. I have my way of doing business. Do it or goodbye."

"Alright. How about Seryozha?"

"One is not enough. Three is my minimum."

"Wow, three, ok. I'll get you three."

"Professional, need two. Serge can be personal for you."

"I can't believe this. What's so special that you offer?"

Tolik sat up, assuming salesman mode. He rattled off, "our network has forty-three practices around Midwood, Flatbush, Brighton and Coney Island, even Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens. Our agents cover all the Brooklyn hospitals. There is no guarantee, but our clients do see an average intake of five more plaintiffs every month. Some see as many as 10 more. That is 120 for the year. Average settlement, $10K. You get a third, $3K, a little more. That's revenue of $360K a year, on top of what you take in now, which—judging by your presence here—is little."

"I'll have to check these numbers with your references."

My dearest Kostya. What shitty, Tier 3 law school did you go to that you ask such things? To Pace or CUNY Queens or what? You sure you passed the bar? Maybe I need to check, myself? Don't waste my time. The door is open. Ciao."

"Alright, alright, relax. Just asking. Yes, I was admitted just four months ago."

"No jobs out there—it's tough, I know."

"Yeah, man, it's hard. Got loans like crazy. Gotta feed the wife and kid."

"A girl or boy?"

"A boy."

"Cute. What's his name?"


"That's nice. I got a cousin Misha on my father's side."

"Listen, ok. I got the rules. How much is this subscription service gonna cost me?"

"Don't get your panties in a wad. Half."

"Half what? Half of my net?"

"Get the fuck out of here. Half of your revenues from us.

Take or leave it, bro."

"Half of the revenue, and I do all the work? You've got some balls, man. Are you fucking crazy?"

"Business is business. That's our fee."

"Yeah, I don't think so. That's insane."

"Look, think it over. $180K a year, a hundred after tax. You could repay your loans—$100K, 2 years, quite easily. You'll have your life back, treat your wife. It's a sweet deal. You won't need to look half the day for clients. You're a smart guy. Don't waste this chance. Nobody has my kind of reach. I know you know that or you wouldn't come."

Kostya looked up, breathed out the last of red flag reservations, nodding.

"You've made a smart choice, Kostya. You will see." Tolik stood up and reached his hand out. Kostya false-grinned and shook his hand. "Alright, this is what happens now. My secretary—Masha—will explain logistics and draw up the paperwork. Don't worry, there's no funny business. We know all the rules." He pressed the intercom. "Masha, please take care of our client, Kostya. He'd like to work with us." To Kostya, "We will be in touch."

They nodded, parting, Kostya still internalizing. Tolik swung back to his workstation, pumping fist. This revenue was sorely needed. Good start to the week. Hey, not too shabby for a porn webmaster with a Kingsborough degree. Maybe not quite Weil-Manges levels of prestige and class—or money—but not bad, at all. By his last count, he had $200K saved up, small equity investments in 3 parking lots, a Merrill Lynch account and a Miami condo, wisely bought at auction in 2008. Compared to cousin Marik, with his useless Brown degree—one more poor writer with no future, he was downright flush.

Borka was situated well, it seemed. What was the Little Shit—his "rabbi"—up to? It was time to pay a call. But first, he needed to tie up loose ends.

"Alo, Vassily Rosenberg, please."

"Yes, one moment. May I ask who's calling?"

"Dr. Yablonskiy, Anatoliy."

"Hold one moment, please."

He twirled a pen in his left hand, awaiting patiently his sorry debtor."



"[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]." A sigh of fear went not unnoticed.




He hung up. He could just feel the panic spreading at the office, in the wake. Tolik rather enjoyed the formal address from an older, more accomplished man. Sometimes in this unruly and informal jungle—business—order and respect were needed, even indispensable. That it was in his favor hardly spoiled the pot. One had to take what was one's own. There was no instance when the prize arrived on silver, bound by lace.

On down the list. "Dima, privet. Yo, how was Vegas, bro? Was bitchin', right? You stayed at Wynn, just like I told you? Goood. You did Jean-George and Spearmint Rhino, didn't you? I know you, Dima. So predictable. One of these times, you gotta make it into XS, man. Might even have to dress—and not a little—classy. Ha!" Dima protested on the other end. "Alright, alright. Glad you enjoyed it, man. Next time, I'll show you all the hidden stuff, myself. Maybe for Labor or Columbus Day, we'll see. Listen, I'm calling to find out if you have news from that Nikita guy. It's been a while. We need an answer, like a month ago. Are they still into it or what? We're asking for a million, five. That's like their profit for one day. The deal is foolproof, man. The brownstone's under market price. Now with the ruling for Columbia, it's gonna spike in value. Easy profit. You know all this already, man. Can you just call him one more time? Tell him we have the papers ready, references and appraisal—even two. What do they want more, anyway? Just make it happen, bottom line. And if you know of others like Nikita out in Moscow, call them too, ASAP. I told you, if we get the money, close within a month, six weeks. We'll get out quarter-mil between us. It's not hard."

"Do you know anyone with money there, in Moscow?"

"Me?! Naah, man. We moved like twenty years ago, almost. Everyone's out of there a while. My uncle's there, but he's a scientist. He's lucky just to own his place. But money? [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. Look, try Nikita, think of friends or cousins, anyone. Even just $5K or $10K—anything's helpful. And when we make this deal, there will be others. Davai, let's make this happen, bro. Listen, I'm gonna see you out at Russian Vodka Room for Zhenya's birthday, right? Alright, bro, make it count. Peace out."

This oily weasel was annoying him—Nikita. What he would give not to rely on him or give him 10%. You dealt with Russians in their homeland, then you had to pay. It's either bribe the whole, entire fucking crew or just abandon ship. At least he could rely on Dima, even with his whoring. Baby Boy made it rain from trees, G-d bless him. That's what counted.

Tolik slinked back. He flicked his tongue with satisfaction. Not half bad. Things were beginning to look up. The last two years had given him a vicious beating. One, two, three, four—no, five; wait, six—his ventures all blew up like dominoes. He crossed his fingers, arteries and veins, tfu tfu, this thing with Russia would work out and maybe even Kostya. He would see. If even one panned out, he'd give up all the piecemeal coding jobs and app design, the small-time shit and focus on the big fish—his idea with Igor. Together with his "little" cousin a genius FOB, they planned to build sophisticated trackers for the movement of large stocks, indexing Twitter, EDGAR filings, sales by management, plus major FX movements, supply chain participants and more. He planned to involve Boris once the code was tested, before launch. His one insider would do wonders even with his memos and an ear to ground. For now, Alyosha—wunderkind, with his two words of English—was just getting started. Hope against hope, with help from a big quant or two on Wall Street, they would hit it big.

It managed to be lunchtime before long. Tolik took off for Grandma Yufa's house. He stopped by NetCost Market for some groceries and parked around the corner, slogging up with bags.




"[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]!" The chain now dangled futilely, a while. At last, the sliding sound. Success! His Baba Yufa stood there in her tapochki and sarafanchik, staring. Her eyes were gone with cataracts, her hearing barely on a thread. And still, she was determined at her 88.

The woman was a living wonder. She'd gone through husband #1 and later, 2, Great Patriotic War, miscarriage, one child's death, Stalin, Khrushchev and Brezhnev, emigration, even hurricane. Tolik and Babushka were close. One wrinkled and one dented pea, they'd clung together through the horrid and the bad. She was a second mother—often, first—at once a fragile creature and eternal.

Tolik put down the groceries on the kitchen table. "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]."










She took out the worn pot of soup, procured the ladle and a bowl and carefully doled out the lumpy, beet-stained liquid. Since childhood, he would wait all year to taste Grandma's cold summer soup—eggs, beets, cucumbers, radishes. Out came the sour cream and Borodinskiy bread. This was just heaven. He kissed his Baba Yufa on the left cheek with aplomb.


Excerpted from The Egypt in my Looking Glass by Yuri Kruman. Copyright © 2013 Yuri Kruman. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
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