Given a handful of diamonds... Where would you hide them? What would you do?
“Here, Franceszka,” he said, gathering a handful into a pile, “find a place to hide the jewels so we can take them with us and sell the stones as we need to in America!” He placed the handful of assorted valuable gems in the two outspread palms of her hands.
“You see?” he smiled, “with these, our savings, and the little money we are getting for our property here, things will turn out all right for us!”
Anastasia fought Boris for her life, every day.
Boris’ aunt was glad to hear the news that her nephew would soon be leaving their home. “Your nephew is a cheapskate!” she stated. “He never contributed one cent to us toward his room and board since he walked in the door,” she remarked. “Boris eats more than you and I together,” she raged on. “He drinks too much beer and whiskey. His staying up so late in the evenings and teaching our son, Metro, how to dance the Ukrainian kolomayka is driving me crazy!” she exclaimed. “Their boots scuffing up my waxed hardwood floors all the time—enough already! I am tired of the extra washing and ironing of his clothes, having to constantly cook extra food and pick up after him.”
The burden of his long uninvited visit had fallen directly on her shoulders. “Good riddance!” she told her husband in the privacy of their room that evening. “Do not promise anyone from the Old Country that they can stay ‘overnight’ here again! They can visit us and then leave the same day! This is not a boarding house!” Boris’ uncle thoroughly agreed with his wife.
The two cousins celebrated Boris’ good fortune together. His cousin admired Boris’ shrewdness in buying such a desirable piece of property. A two-story farmhouse, barn, animals, and forty acres purchased for less than half its worth—what a bargain! The low price left Boris with no debts and plenty of extra money to start his vodka-making business.
The two young men had several draft beers and a good roast beef dinner at Dubel’s, the neighborhood tavern.
Lifting their glasses, they toasted, “Here is to finding an American woman to be my wife to keep the house clean, raise a family, and help with the work on the farm! Stolat!”
After many glasses of beer with whiskey chasers, the drunken pair began to seriously think about Boris’ future. Where in Buffalo would the Russian property owner find the obedient, hardworking ideal woman he had in mind to marry him? He wanted to take the easy way, automatically becoming an American citizen, by marrying an American citizen!
“I have to find and marry her before winter,” Boris said, tipping his head back and draining the last of his beer from the glass mug. Laughing, he slurred, “I need someone to shovel snow from long driveway!” He steadied himself against the bar, burped loudly, and ordered another round of pewo e wiske (beer and whiskey) for them
“Do any pretty young women live around here?” he drunkenly asked the bartender, Andy. “I want someone really nice,” he added, making an outline of an hour glass with his hands.
“As a matter of fact, there is a fine family who live on Jones Street, with three grown daughters,” offered the bartender. “I heard the one named Anastasia is the youngest and prettiest.”
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Enjoy reading a bit of my book. The Escaping Danger saga continues with Celia and her escapades.
“It’s true.” confirmed the other, adding, “There was a murder in there all right!” Both women had followed Celia to her doorway and were trying to peer inside. “Right there, inside that bathtub with the wooden flip top you use as a table in the middle of the kitchen. That is where her body was found . . . all cut up into pieces they said, days after the crime!” One of the women pointed her arthritic bony finger into the apartment toward the kitchen area.
“Put up quite a struggle she did!” said the other. “Blood splattered all over the walls, police said! That’s why the property owner wallpapered and painted the whole place, put up new curtains and such,” she added, raising her eyebrows looking at the bed under the front windows in the room. “She always had a liking for sailors in uniform from those foreign ships, she did—whoever done it is probably far gone across the ocean by this time.”
“Could be,” replied the first woman. “And then maybe it was someone here in the neighborhood that she knew and trusted. Police said whoever done it was handy with a knife, maybe a fisherman or a butcher. Happened right there on your bed, and that wooden tabletop of your tub!”
Celia screamed. “When did this happen?” she questioned the next-door tenant.
“Not too long ago, honey. Just before you moved in. The landlord had a dickens of a time trying to clean up the place and get it rented, what with the publicity in the papers and all.”
“Lowered the rent to next to nothing just to get someone to stay here,” the second woman continued. She was glad for the opportunity of a new ear to listen to her gossip and continued talking. “Still an unsolved crime. Never did find that murderer—he is still on the loose. Might even be some maniac killer in this building!” she said, looking both ways down the hall and then quickly stepped outside, hurrying down the street to do her errand.
“They say the criminal always returns to the scene of the crime. I would keep my doors locked all the time if I were you, dearie. You never know . . . ,” the other tenant said. Alerted by the sound of approaching footsteps coming down the wooden stairway, from the second floor, her voice trailed off. She scurried into her own rented room across the hall. The sound of her door lock being securely bolted from the inside filled Celia’s ears like a cannon shot.
Celia did the same, locking her door just in time as the heavy footsteps slowed coming down the long hallway and passing the outside of her door. It sounded like the person turned around and then stopped in front of it! Leaning her back against the door and holding her breath, Celia could hear someone’s heavy breathing on the other side. She saw the doorknob turn slowly. The gentle push to open the door was stopped by her weight against it and the newly installed Yale lock. The doorknob was released, and the footsteps went quickly out the unlocked front entrance.
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