​   It was just past midnight as Sergei Petrov stood silently with his back tight against the west wall of the Lenin Mausoleum shielding himself from the frigid wind blowing across Moscow’s Red Square. His long fur coat, Cossack hat and sheepskin mittens were doing a poor job of keeping his slender frame warm.  At five-seven and a hundred thirty pounds Sergei was shorter and weighed less than the average adult Russian male. As he exhaled his warm breath fogged his round, wire-rimmed glasses. He was waiting for someone he didn’t know and had never seen before.  A friend, more of an acquaintance really, who worked at the American Embassy had set up the meeting with the American.Sergei could see a few stars as he looked up beyond the lights that flooded the area. In years past the Square bore witness to great military parades. The Russian hierarchy would nod approvingly from the stands as hundreds of soldiers marched in formation, followed by the might of tanks and missiles as the procession made its way through the square.  In June of 1945 spectators watched as two hundred Nazi soldiers were lined up and trampled by mounted Soviet commanders as a way of celebrating the end of World War II.  Military parades dwindled when Perestroika was ushered in by Gorbachev and his Glasnost policy reforms. These days the famous Square saw more rock concerts and other large scale entertainment events than military parades.

  Sergei heard a noise off to his left, it sounded like a rock hitting somewhere in the square. He stepped away from the wall and turned in the direction of the sound. The silent assailant wasted no time quickly doing a double wrap of the piano wire around the Russian’s neck, while putting a knee in the middle of his back and pulling the wooden handles attached to each end of the wire. The knee in the back gave the assassin the extra leverage she needed to easily dispatch her target. Sergei instinctively reached to his throat trying to disengage the piano wire as he struggle to breath and his vision began to fade. Blood began to ooze around the edges of the garrote as the wire cut deeper into his neck. In just under a minute Sergei lay dead in a crumpled heap on the concrete next to Lenin’s tomb.

  A light snow began to fall as Salina made her way back to the waiting cab she had left only ten minutes earlier to “run a quick errand” on the way to the airport. The cab driver had his head tilted back with his eyes closed as he listened to some new wave rock band on the radio. A burning cigarette in the ashtray filled the cab with smoke. The six foot-two inch killer said nothing as she folded her tall frame into the back seat of the cab. She had an angular jaw line and deep set brown eyes that were trained to radiate fear when the occasion called for it. Her hair was a mix of brown, blonde and dark red, as if she couldn’t make up her mind at the beauty shop. Other than her height she didn’t look too out of the ordinary. She wasn’t a beauty but she wasn’t unattractive either. She’d cursed herself for not dressing warm enough. Her hands had nearly frozen as she applied the garrote to Petrov’s slender neck.

The driver turned the music down, looked over his shoulder at her and nodded as he pulled away from the curb for the short twenty-nine kilometer drive to Sheremetyevo International airport.

An excerpt from the novel I am currently working on. Working title "The Russian Connection"