He was standing at the curb, watching us. The owner. Watching, and seeing the incompetence of my crew. The only day when anything had gone wrong so far, and he was here, and all because no one had brought a tape measure.
"Christ, God almighty," I thought. "Jesus, Buddha, Mohammad, whoever, help me now, please."
I couldn't find the frigging little thing anywhere. It was easy enough to see - bright orange, but then so is everything on a construction site now. Nothing stands out anymore. Orange and yellow everywhere. Too much orange.
And this wasn't just any customer. This was Heart. Or was it a Vanderbilt? It was one of those family name people, and he wasn't very nice.
Luckily, the curb was almost a mile away. Lugo watched from his binoculors.
"What are they doing?" I asked, pacing the work area, trying to find the tape measure.
"He's talking to Max. Their pointing away from the house," he said in his thick Armenian accent. "I think at the guest house."
The Guest House! Maybe that's where it is. We were there yesterday, fixing the wiring panel for the summer kitchen.
"Ivan," I paced through the bottom floor of the east wing looking for him. "Ivan."
"I am upstairs," he replied, as best as I could tell. My Ukrainian wasn't very good. Ivan didn't speak any English, and he refused to speak Russian, but at least he'd listen to Russian.
"Ivan," I yelled as I ran up the unfinished back stairway. "I need you to go to the guest house. No one has a tape measure." Luckily, I spoke Russian well enough to get the job done. Unless I didn't have a tape measure, that is?
Just as I came into the unfinish bathroom, Ivan was pulling a tape measure across the top cabinet. Behind him, in the bathtub, was a body. No face, and no hands.
"Oh, no. Not another one." I threw my hands up.
"You want I finish this first?" Ivan asked. He was the one that usually got rid of the bodies.
"No." Sweat was now on my forehead, even in this below zero temperature. "Get rid of the body first. The owner is here."
Ivan's face went pale. "Here? Now?" He looked at the body in the tub. "Where I put him?"
"In the river, but I need the tape measure first."
He handed me the measure, and pulled the shower curtain down as I ran out.
The fifth body in as many months. Another investigative reporter probably. In the states, they were the final authority. Here, in the Ukraine, they were the hunted. Far too many Ruskiya Mif - Russian Mafia- to get any real news out. In a complete turnabout, the government no longer supressed the news. The people did.
"Son of a bitch!" I completely forgot what I needed to measure. "This day isn't going well at all," I said as I walked by Lugo.
"They come now," Lugo pointed, no longer looking through his binoculors.
Max and the customer we coming down the long unfinished drive. Ivan was dragging the body with the shower curtain beside the mansion. But, at least I had my tape measure back.
"Everyone, pretend Jesus is coming," I yelled. The entire crew jumped up, and tried to look busy.
It would have been nice if I could remember the rich American customers name.