(Most victims of human-trafficking are classified under ‘missing’, ‘runaways’, ‘domestic issues’, and etc. Some desperate parents take matters into their own hands and get in over their heads.)  

A heavy round penguin-like man appeared. A few strands of lank hair swept over his baldpate from ear to ear. Andrei Rossel waved Michael in with a wide smile.

“Mikhail Liam, come hurry up, it is getting snow.”

Before Michael could introduce himself properly, Andrei turned him around to face the wall. He wrestled the heavy coat away from Michael’s shoulders.

“Good, now follow me,” ordered Andrei and squeezed himself through the narrow foyer, his ample frame rubbing against a coat cabinet that occupied half the entrance.

Michael stepped out of the narrow passage into a modest living room and choked. A strong cheesy smell hung in the air. Someone moved about in the open kitchen behind a huge kitchen cabinet.

Maria Rossel stepped out, having been in the throes of washing. She wiped her hands on her apron and greeted Michael with her thick hand. She then turned to Andrei and raised her voice, to which her husband simply shrugged his shoulders and replied apologetically. Within seconds, the couple were having a shouting match.

Michael switched from Andrei to Maria and back, wondering if he was the cause of this domestic tiff.

Maria berated Andrei in a vaguely familiar language and he replied in a mixture of that same language and Russian. Finally, they both ran out of words. She stomped into the kitchen and Andrei crooked his finger at Michael to follow him to the office.

“My wife, when she loves me, speaks Russian and when angry she speaks Italian.” Andrei squeezed himself between the bookshelf and table. “She speaks Italian mostly.” He sank into his swivel chair, which squeaked a protest. Leaning to the side, he pulled out a stuffed doll and tossed it across the room. “My grandchildren visited yesterday. Come, come sit down. You cold, you want coffee?”

Maria walked in with a tray of shivering crockery and cutlery. She placed the tray of coffee, cream and sugar on the table. Then, she berated her husband again, shook her head and walked away.

Michael could hear her complaining in the kitchen and concluded this couple did not talk to each other, they only shouted.

“So Mikhail,” Andrei poured him a cup of coffee. “You want me to find your missing wife, one or two sugar?”

“No, my missing daughter, two please.”

“You don’t want sugar? I suggest sugar, otherwise Turkish coffee too bitter.” Without waiting for a reply, he proceeded to drop one sugar cube into the cup. “Two daughters missing, how many daughters you have? Normally it’s better wife is missing.” Andrei winked as he handed the coffee to Michael.

It was a few minutes before Michael made clear he was looking for his missing daughter – one missing daughter – and he wanted Andrei’s assistance to track down either his daughter or the man in the photographs.

Andrei’s facial muscles sagged as he studied the man in the photo. “Mikhail this looks like a dangerous man, Mafiya maybe.” He wheezed and shook his head. “I’m private investigator for divorce lawyers not for this type of work, much danger.”

Michael’s heart sank. “But my lawyer said you can help.”

“Mikhail, the Singapore lawyer said something…ah, wife missing. I say okay – what the Americans say – yes, right up my alley. Sure I help, but this…” Andrei shrugged and shook his head again.

“Andrei, sorry but can I call you Andrei?” Michael hesitated.

The fat Russian placed his forefinger on his chin, looked up at the ceiling for a moment before replying. “Yes, that’s my name so – you can call me Andrei, my friend.”

Michael let his jaw drop, lost for words.

“You Singaporeans no sense of humour, I see. When you live in Russia you learn to laugh much or go crazy.” Andrei pushed himself up with both hands, wheezed and threw up his hands. “Look at me Mikhail, 1.6 metres and 150 kilograms, diabetic and two tubes in my heart. James Bond is hiding inside, very deep inside me.”

*** (An extract from Code Shield, A Peek Into Singapore’s Secret Services) ***

********************

38 comments

  1. Great excerpt. The two characters played well off each other.

    “My wife, when she loves me, speaks Russian and when angry she speaks Italian.” Andrei squeezed himself between the bookshelf and table. “She speaks Italian mostly. < lol 🙂

    1. LOL!
      You came all the way back into the archives 🙂
      Yes, I love the character of Andrei Rossel – one of the best characters I developed to-date.
      Thank you for reading and commenting,
      Eric

    1. Hello Eva,

      Here’s an offer specially for you. If you wish to read the print copy – let me have your mailing address and I’ll mail (via normal surface mail) to you a copy of Code Shield. Either email me or post your address in the comments here – but I’ll not publish it for public viewing.

      No compulsion, feel free to decline.

      Peace and blessings,
      Eric

      1. Oh Eric, Yes, Please! I feel honored and privileged.
        My address:

        XXXXXXXXX
        XXXXXXXXX
        XXXXXXXXX

        I truly feel your writing style has an eye-opening realism to it. The dialogue flow feels natural. I have read so many books where it felt forced…and contrite. I wish I had your talent. Thank you for sharing your work!
        Hugs,
        Eva
        xo

      2. Eva dear,

        Thank you for your address. A copy is in the mail to you. As it’s via normal surface mail, it might take a couple of weeks (perhaps) to reach you. Do let me know when received safely.

        You compliment me so much – I can wave it off with a blush, or respect and accept your opinion as the reader. I bow to the latter.

        Luv and hugz,
        Eric

      3. Thank you so much! I cannot wait to receive it! I’ve never received anything from the other side of the world, so this will be awesome. Looking forward to more of Tara in Code Shield.
        I will let you know when it arrives! Thank you, again and I sincerely know you are a great writer as well as a wonderful person and friend.
        xo

  2. I like the way you protray an ordinary person (Andrei) tries to cheer another, Michael, who finds himself in this predicament. Michael may be upset but unknowingly he had sought solace in a foreigner, making his situation more bearable. This is the essence of everyday life and much more authentic than scenes I read in many novels.

    1. Aw Jasey – you’re so kind with your compliments. You can be my book reviewer anytime 🙂

      Yes, Andrei is quite a funny man…he sees humour where others embrace despondency.

  3. Great piece, I’m looking forward to reading some more excerpts. Your characters seem real and relatable.

    Seth.

    1. Thank you Seth – you can read the earlier excerpts in the Archives (see L/H column). I’ll be dropping by your blog later today – off to church now. All good wishes, Eric

      1. Hi Eric, thanks for stopping by and for the comment. Thankfully, it was stil sitting there waiting for rescue.

        Seth.

    1. Thank you. I worked on the character of Andrei – did not come out right but when I started to key this scene – he popped up with a life and ‘character’ of his own. We also discover what a beautiful soul Maria is, as the story unfolds….

  4. LOVE this self-deprecating member of Singapore’s Secret Service. You are such a naughty, clever man, Eric! You have us frantic over the missing daughter and yet laughing at the parents and the detective they are attempting to hire!

    1. Ah, my Granbee dear – life is so full of eclectic emotions and my novel aims for realism. Humour is very much part of our lives. Much luv and hugz coming your way, Eric 🙂

  5. Andrei is quite a character, readers really get hooked on him. I can just imagine a lot of spin-off mystery/spy novels with him as the protagonist (and with his wife making his personality even more interesting).

  6. Eric ……..
    More please …….
    enthralling …………………… amazing with character development – you are ….
    i could totally see them all ………
    xx
    Huggs and love xx
    C

    1. I try to portray ‘real’ people in ‘real’ situations – as the storyline of Code Shield is heavy and serious, I thought a dash of humour in the form of a character might help with respites. There are enough adrenalin packed chapters in the book, I reckon.

  7. “My wife, when she loves me, speaks Russian and when angry she speaks Italian.” “She speaks Italian mostly.” LOL.

    I must be very careful if I intend to marry a bilingual girl then. hahaha. Good story, Cik! 🙂

    Subhan Zein

    1. This is a thriller Besma dear – I can’t give away too much. But I’ll say this – and it is qualified, if you know what I mean – Yes, everything turns out well…in the end.

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