cash, guns, booze and whores: Desperation Never Wins

It was a failed attempt.

We needed to keep going.

And for some reason, I see myself as a boy peddling a bike down a gravel road toward a distant world of my own making. The sun setting.

The world’s largest airport terminal—arrested.

South Korea.

Did you know there were entire worlds beneath these conduits to other places? Detention centers, interrogation rooms, law-enforcement offices, a prosecutor’s office, a court room and judge, and boom, just like that, from jail to guilty and on an Interpol list.

I had been caught leaving the country with twenty grand in cash–yeah, a big mistake, and one I would not normally make, but the night before had been a late one, and I had been rushing to make my flight.

What’s four grand among friends, pay the fine and move on.

Problem was, I was on my way to Russia, and I still had sixteen grand, six more than I was legally allowed to travel with, and now, having missed my flight, I had to loop through Hong Kong to get to Moscow – two more international lines to cross.

I could either find someone in line and ask them if they’d mind holding six grand for me as we cleared customs, or I could start stuffing cash in all my things.

I surveyed the other passengers on the plane—who?
She seemed nice, but not too nice, and we started chatting on the plane. I explained I had come into twenty grand while in Korea, and the problems I was having travelling with it, and would she mind holding six of it while we cleared customs?

For twenty percent?

Wtf? I was starting feel like Hemingway’s fish.




Cash, guns, booze and whores.


Black Land Rovers and E-Series BMWs with drivers with guns and a beautiful girl.

I’d met up with the others, a former World’s Strongest Man—a hard-ass, when he wanted to be, and a giant Scottish man, tipping the scales at well over four hundred pounds, a PhD in geology, and drinking, and world class at that, no matter where we were, Asia, South America, Iceland, the Baltic states, the Eastern Bloc, and of course, Russia. He could put away twenty or thirty ounces of vodka and a half dozen beers—have a safe night boys, and off he’d go to bed. And only one time did I see him miss the elevator and walk into the wall. He was a good friend, and I miss him still.

Lunch in a Japanese restaurant—and now we’re not, we’re in a backroom behind a steel door without handles. And there he was, with two women, his arm around the one, talking to me through his representative, ‘Natasha’. And behind him? Let’s just call him—well, you didn’t call him anything. He seemed all right, for what he was, which was what? Never far from the man.

That night.

In a nightclub owned by him, like so many other things, other clubs, restaurants, magazines, and every billboard in Moscow. A Putin trickle down friend, or so we’d come to learn later. The next time I saw him, I was in Columbus, Ohio. He thought he’d come and take in an event. He was greeted by the FBI and detained for seventy-two hours, just because they could, just to let him know they knew who he was and that he was there.

Three in the morning later—and you want to do what? Pile in the cars with the drivers, the guns, the girls, and head out of the city to the woods and drink vodka and shoot deer with hand guns?
What’d I do?

I drank the vodka, popped a few rounds and thought of Hunter.

Sunday Morning.

Red Square and it hit home. I was feeling a little under the weather and lagging behind Natasha and the hard-ass from steel-town UK. I rounded a corner and was swarmed by a pack of street kids holding up fur hats for sale and looking to pickpocket me. Natasha turned around and yelled his name and that was it, they scattered. That’s when I knew, steel-town too, we looked at one another, and we could tell we were saying the same thing to ourselves at the same time: Fuck.

Since it was Sunday, Lenin’s tomb was closed. It didn’t matter. Natasha talked to the guard and that was it, in we went.

All-in-all, none of this turned out so well. Surprising? It shouldn’t have been, but there was no, all is not right in Oz. No, Dorothy get me home.

Desperation never wins, and there’s that boy again, still peddling, the sun lower yet.


Christian Fennell is the author of the critically acclaimed collection of short stories, Torrents of Our Time, and the novels, The Fiddler in the Night, and LOVE, GUNS & GOD in America. He was a columnist and the fiction editor at The Prague Revue and is currently the Editor-in-chief of The Nelligan Review.