Gregori Baikov Would Insult the Hellespont
I posted the first installment of the Gregori Baikov saga a week ago and the second installment just a few days ago. The positive response to both articles has proven to be a surprising contrast to all of the emails I receive informing me that I am a giant homosexual triple Hitler. In the hopes of prolonging this drought of gay Nazi accusations I thought I would post the conclusion to the Gregori Baikov saga.
I met Gregori Baikov, Master Insulter, for the third and final time on the street outside Bartopia. I had chosen the dance club for its impressive chrome-topped bar and a diverse clientele that I thought might provide good fodder for Baikov.
Gregori was wearing a pair of ill-fitting acid-washed jeans and an orange and blue sweater that had faded to resemble a rotting peach. He was sweaty as though he had just run several blocks and he had an oversized Bandaid on the side of his scalp. I bribed the doorman ten dollars to let us in and then hurried Gregori towards the bar lest the doorman have second thoughts.
"You get three beers and I give you 100 dollar credit," Gregori explained the arrangement again. "Prove value of Master Insulter."
"I want a ShoXfactor insult," I told him as we waited for the bartender to finish with another customer. "I want you to insult me."
Gregori raised an eyebrow and eyed me appraisingly.
"You sure you endure mighty insult?"
"I think I can handle it."
The bartender finished flirting and turned to take our drink orders.
"You have kvas?" Gregori asked.
The bartender stared at Gregori for several seconds and then shook his head.
"Old Style is good," Gregori made a sour face as if to contradict what he was saying.
"Two pints of Old Style," I placed the order, but Gregori disagreed.
"You promise three!" He shouted over the opening boom of a drum and bass track. "Three Old Style!"
"Make it four," I revised the order.
The bartender shrugged and lined the foaming pint glasses up on the bar top. When he was done, I slid him a modest tip.
"Anything else?" He asked, his eyes tracking a petite blond in a pair of jeans tight enough to cut off circulation.
I elbowed Gregori and nodded in the direction of the bartender.
"Yes, other thing!" Gregori said, catching my cue. "I have to say you have hair and face of girl, but body is all woman."
The bartender didn't seem to understand.
"Between legs," Gregori shouted and pointed, "giant vagina!"
"I don't swing that way, buddy," the bartender replied over the thumping music.
"You do swing this way," Gregori placed his hands on his hips and gyrated in an imitation of the way a woman walks, "swing to girl bathroom."
The bartender turned to another customer.
"Not so good," Gregori shook his head. "But, you can't hit Hank Aaron home run big league all the time."
I wanted to take our drinks over to a table nearer to the dance floor so that I could scope out Gregori's next victim. Gregori had different ideas.
"No, I drink." He explained himself by lifting one of the pints to his lips and then tilting back his head.
He drained the glass in seconds and loosed a mighty belch that scattered a pair of waitresses chatting at the bar. Gregori followed the first pint with the second and then the third in quick succession. He rubbed his besweatered belly and grinned.
By that point I had picked out a redhead in a man's dress shirt unbuttoned to show off her flat stomach and overflowing bikini top. She was lithe and pretty and almost a head taller than her group of friends.
"Gregori," I got the Russian's attention, "her, over there."
"Ooh she a big fox, you sure?" He asked and I nodded.
I kept my distance as he approached, just close enough to listen in on the conversation. The women parted as he drew near and eyed him in the way vampire bats might eye a bowl of vomit.
"You red girl," Gregori opened with, "what is your name?"
"My name is No," the redhead sneered.
"Where bolt in neck Doctor Frankenstein?" Greogri stuck out his chin and bit his upper lip in a mock under bite. "Only thing is I don't remember monster so fat with such small chest."
"Fuck you," the redhead reached for her drink.
"You like giant fat Chinese boy with head covered in blood."
The redhead made as if to throw her drink in Gregori's face, but Gregori deftly caught the glass with his hand as she tipped it. He brought it to his mouth and drained its neon-colored contents in a fluid motion.
"Thanks free drink, monster lady," he laughed and was driven off by swung purses and insults.
I moved away to a table so that the women did not see Gregori make his way over to where I was sitting. I bought him a fourth beer, which he drained almost instantly. I surveyed the crowd.
A quartet of Latino men in their early twenties had staked out a corner of the dance floor not too far from where we were seated. One of them had a big rectangular face and a unibrow to put Frida Kahlo to shame. I pointed them out to Gregori.
"I do this insult," Gregori shouted, "but is dangerous. Too many men at one time and they are likely to hit."
"You don't have to-," I began, but Gregori cut me off.
"I have secret weapon."
Gregori reached into his mouth with his thumb and index finger and gripped his two front teeth. With a pop nearly all of his top teeth came away, attached to a pink plastic piece molded to the roof of his mouth.
"Was kick by horse," he explained. "People punch and think they knock teeth out. Scare them and no more fight."
"Alright," I said, "if you're certain."
Gregori nodded, replaced the false teeth, and leapt into action. I waited for him to nearly reach his intended victim before I stood and sidled closer to the dance floor. It was difficult to hear so close to the towers of speakers, but Gregori was shouting for my benefit.
"Hey there Mexican friend!"
The man stopped dancing and frowned at Gregori.
"Thought I tell you that you have something on head," Gregori pointed. "Oh, that is my bad, it is just all of your ugly face and it is all over your ugly head."
The man shouted something back that I couldn't hear. Gregori continued.
"You might think so but then it is my guess you don't own any mirror."
The man stepped to within inches of Gregori's face.
"Question I have: is hard to comb hair to match fried egg face? Like Humpty Dumpty broke and roll around in barber shop."
The punch came with a telegraphed windup of the man's arm and then a furious swing at Gregori. The husky Russian made no attempt to avoid the blow and was caught off guard when it struck him squarely in the chest. I heard him gasp, a truncated oof, and he staggered backward clutching at his chest.
The Latino man cocked back his fist to throw another punch, but the vigilant bouncers were already on top of the altercation. They ejected the poor victim and his pals from the club, but stood with Gregori at the bar. The Russian's face was red and he leaned against the bar top. Concern showed on the faces of several of the bouncers.
I approached just in time to hear the bartender shout, "The ambulance is on its way!"
"He's having a heart attack," one of the bouncers diagnosed.
They sat him in a chair near the entrance, waiting for the ambulance. Gregori's chest rose and fell heavily and he looked at me with pain in his eyes. I watched with unease as more patrons were allowed in, laughing and chatting with one another as though poor Gregori were not dying nearby.
"It'll be okay," I patted his shoulder.
"I do not think so, Mr. Zack."
I looked at the way his fingertips dug into the threadbare sweater.
Minutes later the ambulance screeched to a halt at the curb outside the club. Gregori surged to his feet at the sight. He staggered towards the EMTs, his fingers still twisted in the fabric of his sweater. They motioned for him to lie down. He barreled past them and clambered into the back of the ambulance.
The drama of the scene held me at a distance. I watched through the open door of the ambulance as Gregori settled onto his back on a stretcher. One of the EMTs snipped open his sweater with scissors and another began attaching leads to his furry chest. Gregori fought against them, his legs thrashing. He sat up, gripping the man's arm. One of the EMTs waved me into the ambulance.
"His heart rate and blood pressure are spiking, we need to get him to the hospital," the EMT explained. "I think he wants you to ride along."
I nodded and sat as close as I could to Gregori. One EMT returned to front of the ambulance and the other man pressed an oxygen mask over Gregori's face.
"Breathe deeply and try to relax," he advised.
Gregori's heartbeat sang loudly from a pulse meter, an incessant beep-beep-beep that seemed far too fast and loud within the confines of the ambulance. Gregori wheezed and his breath fogged the plastic mask covering his nose and mouth.
The EMT turned to me, "He's a little arrhythmic but he'll probably be fine."
Gregori suddenly began thrashing again and kicking his legs like a stuck pig. The ambulance seemed to rock as his bulk shifted on the stretcher. Gregori's pulse began to rise again with a correspondingly more urgent beep-beep-beep from the pulse meter. The EMT reached down to restrain him and Gregori slapped his hands away. He continued thrashing for several seconds, tore the mask from his mouth and then, with a strange groan, grabbed his hairy bosom and ripped at it as though trying to pull out hairs.
The pulse meter shrilled ominously. Air rattled from Gregori's mouth and he dropped back to the stretcher. His eyes rolled back in his head.
The EMT began to pull syringes and vials of drugs from cabinets on the wall of the ambulance. I stared at Gregori's lifeless body. He was discoloured with exertion and covered in sweat.
So this is what dying looks like, I thought to myself.
Suddenly, strong fingers gripped my forearm and yanked me down towards Gregori. His eyes flew open and focused on me. I could smell beer and cigarettes.
"You love a fuck with dogs," he solemnly intoned. "Put a ball in the dog and lick a dog's butthole. That's good time for you."
The EMT casually reached over and reattached the leads for the pulse meter to Gregori's chest.
Beep-beep-beep, the machine sang.
"This," Gregori said and let got of my arm, "is surprise insult. The ShoXfactor."
The EMT administered a sedative and Gregori slipped into unconsciousness. They let me pay him a visit in his hospital room later that night. He was unconscious, the TV in his room blaring Judge Judy. They said they were just keeping him for observation.
I slipped the get well card from the hospital's gift shop onto the cabinet next to Gregori's bed. It contained a check for 200 dollars.
That was the last time I saw or spoke with Gregori Baikov. I called the hospital the next day to see how he was doing and I learned that he had registered under the alias "John Honesty". He had then disappeared from the hospital without paying for his treatment, such as it was.
There is a postscript to this saga and it came almost a month after I had parted ways with Gregori Baikov. I was eating a bagel, as I am wont to do, when my phone rang. It turned out my friend Elijah, one of the old people I had told about Baikov, had spotted a suspicious newspaper ad in that day's paper. I hung up the phone scarcely saying goodbye and rushed to the 7-11 down the street from my apartment. I plopped the money down on the counter and hurriedly flipped to the advertisements. Sure enough, there was the ad that could only have come from one man.
That's not the real ad, but a faithful recreation. You will notice that Gregori left some slightly incomplete contact information in his advertisement, negating any potential work he might have received as an insulter.
I wish there was a happy reunion with Gregori to announce, but as of yet no one has contacted me with information as to his current whereabouts. If you know Gregori, please tell him to get in touch with me. I'm not looking for money. I just want to hang out with him and maybe, if the stars are right, start a new epic saga.