Not to scale.On Monday I introduced the world to Gregori Baikov. This no-necked Russian immigrant with a shaved head was serving on a jury with me in 1998. We were deciding the fate of an Emilio Estevez and we had retired to the jury room when he casually slipped me his business card. It declared that he was a "MASTER INSULTER" and, in a fit of boredom, I paid his fee and learned what the title meant.
At the end of my Monday article I offered tantalizing hints about two additional stories to relate that concerned Gregori Baikov. I asked for feedback to ensure I was not wasting the valuable time of our readers and was stunned when I received over 200 emails requesting more of the stocky Russian. With no choice but to satisfy the demands of our loyal readers, I offer the second installment of the Gregori Baikov saga.
I would like to again implore readers to email me if they know the current whereabouts of Gregori Baikov. It would make me very happy to be able to continue this epic story.
The trial of Emilio Estevez had reached its deliberative phase by the time I witnessed my first example of Gregori Baikov's skills as a professional insulter. We reached our verdict late on the afternoon of the ninth day. The ordeal would have gone on longer, but I had convinced the jury foreman to truncate the exhaustive analysis of conspiracy theories being offered by the most senior members of the jury. One last viewing of the choppy closed circuit video from the grocery store concluded the proceedings.
We found Emilio Estevez guilty of insurance fraud. Our foreman read the verdict to the court with all of the solemn blackness of Sidney Poitier. Faces crinkled in despair in the audience seating, Mr. Estevez's lawyer approached the jury box and asked us if we were certain that we wished to convict his client. The judge asked each of us in turn if we agreed with the verdict - they never show you that on TV - and for a moment the question hung in the air over Harriet. She was the leader of the conspiracy theorists on the jury and if any of them were to reverse her vote in the jury room it was Harriet.
I looked back at her and caught her eye, realized from the cruel glimmer there that she was having her last old lady revenge with this pregnant pause.
"I agree with the verdict," she said at last, and that was that.
Do not be afraid. This is a false Estevez that has died.Some of the jurors exited through the jury room to chat in the halls. I hurried to the elevator, anxious to put distance between myself and these eleven miscreants. As the doors to the elevator slid shut I felt some slight pang of guilt that I had not bid farewell to Gregori Baikov.
The courthouse opened onto a plaza busy with foot traffic.
"How you go home now?" The question was asked by a large concrete planter.
I turned just as Gregori Baikov appeared as though lifted up by some unseen elevating platform. The planter was perhaps two feet high, yet his head, shoulders and girth rose in smooth vertical succession from behind the wilted marigolds.
"I was gonna catch a cab," I told him.
"You like sandwich?"
"I, uh, sure."
"I get you sandwich," he put his arm over my shoulder, "we talk business."
Two short blocks and we stepped within the tinted glass windows of a Hammy's sandwich shop. It was a local copy of a Subway and had the sort of décor where a sign offering subs "without mice droppings" as a special would not have seemed out of place. Gregori paused just inside the door to search through his blue fanny pack. He produced two yellow Hammy's bonus cards that had been holed by a pig-head punch.
We joined the line behind a stooped woman with an ancient face, immense black glasses and a puff of white hair that resembled the fluff on a dandelion gone to seed. She smelled like Icy Hot.
"Hard part is ears," Gregori tapped one of the cards with his index finger, "take hour to carve out all the ears."
"Two sandwich," Gregori instructed the drowsy-looking sandwich expert when it was our turn.
I ordered my usual sort of plain sandwich, but Gregori was a bit more adventurous.
"Onion, tomato, hot pickle," he eyed the ingredients, "also salami and meatball, with sauce, steak. No lettuce, put double cheese. White kind cheese, sandwich oil and vinegars."
His sandwich bled out of its wax paper and congealed grease and marinara puddle on his plastic tray.
"You wanted to talk business," I offered, trying not to watch as his oozing sandwich collided with the tooth-rimmed pit of his mouth.
"Yes!" He exclaimed once he had swallowed most of the bite of sub.
Gregori used a napkin to wipe away about a third of the marinara sauce clinging to the sides of his mouth. He took a long pull from his Coke.
"Business," he continued with a satisfied gasp, "very good. Master insulter. You like skills?"
"I was very impressed," I replied honestly.
"Good, good," Gregori produced a folded sheet of paper from his fanny pack. "I have big idea for insulter business."
He examined the sheet carefully.
"Multiple tiers pricing, you see?"
He slid the sheet across the table and tapped it with his finger.
I have reproduced its contents to the best of my memory. There may have been one additional category that I cannot recall.
I realized, with a bit of a thrill, that I was looking at Gregori's master pricelist of insults.
"Is good?" He asked and I could only nod.
"I see you laugh," Gregori continued, "this good. Insult funny for all who are not one terrible victim who interfaces insult."
"What's a 'Blue Collar American insult'?"
"I explain," he slid the pricelist closer so he could see it again. "See sun shape? I think this good for logo because no one escape anger of sun and no one escape insult. Then '5,000 insult' this is understatement, my friend. Think ten times number. Maybe 100,000 insult even."
"That's a lot of insults," I agreed.
"Unlimited for all purpose. Now, first home and work insult. You see work insult. Home insult like this…"
Gregori cleared his throat and screwed his face into a stern expression. His dark eyebrows knitted together.
"Wife," he said to me, "your husband is so sick of vacuum during sporting exhibition. Why not vacuum when ugly mother is here so he miss nothing important."
Gregori's expression relaxed.
"See? Very good insult for home. Then also blue collar insult. Here is blue collar insult: boss of factory, if you get any fat and lazier you might break bed you sleep on in office while we all working. Also go other way, from boss to worker or even from worker to other worker. Good example: Hello Pete American, I bet you put a gay man penis in your lunchbox today because that is what you eat all the time."
Maybe it was just the setting and the seriousness with which Gregori approached the subject, but I quickly discovered that it is possible to laugh so hard that your face hurts.
Maybe I throw you life preserver and you think it is donut and eat because you are so fat. I mean really fat sir."Next level, foreign and emergency insult. These like other insult but with extra difficulty bonus. Foreign insult I have to learn insult in other language. I think Japan is very good language because Japan people do not insult much. They will be crush to hear my insult. Emergency insult is insult delivery in emergency. Say man fall off boat and drowning and wife pay for insult. I say: I'm surprise ocean water not turn brown you so filthy. That's not best insult, but with emergency insult you have to act quickly. Maybe I throw you life preserver and you think it is donut and eat because you are so fat. I mean really fat sir. "
"What if you were in a house that was on fire and someone paid you to do an emergency insult?"
"Ah," Gregori seemed pleased that I was following his explanation, "you do insult. Say maybe: I thought place was on fire just look at your tie, oh my goodness, but now I see real fire in this place. Only thing is, if real danger to me I demand double for danger insult."
"So you'll take on any insulting assignment?"
"Almost any. No insult involving spiders. They are so terrible. Black ghost with so many leg."
"Gotcha," I said with a laugh. "What about the note along the side? You work blue?"
"Your girlfriend so ugly she fuck a shit and love it!" Gregori slapped his palms on the table. "Your father fart on dick and have baby and it is you, the baby! A shit fart baby!"
The elderly woman seated several tables over stopped chewing and looked in our direction.
I pulled the pricelist back across the table and pointed at the remaining item.
Gregori grinned. His teeth were crooked and white.
"Man have hiccup, what does he do?"
"Drink some water or hold his breath."
"That works sometime, but best is scare. Get good friend to jump out with a mighty yell and terrifying hiccup away."
Gregori glanced over at the old woman.
"Ahhhhh!" He shouted and the woman crushed her cup in her hand, spilling soda all over the table.
"This is ShoXfactor," Gregori laughed and handed the woman a stack of napkins. "Sudden attack insult, when least expectant. I stalk prey and then when they are unawares this is when I will strike!"
"Danger is factor which is why price is mysterious. Give me target and I give estimate. Certain expenses may be involved."
"This all sounds great," it did sound great, "but what does this have to do with me?"
"My friend I feel we have grow so very close over days in court," Gregori spoke with the last of his sandwich tucked into one cheek. "I want to give you chance to join me in business venture."
"How do you mean?"
"I mean business of insult is good, but audience is limited. I think all of country would find many things of interest in insult business, but they do not know."
Gregori could tell that I was still not following him.
"Advertise Mr. Zack," he grinned again and spread his palms. "Newspaper ad is 250 dollar, which is too much money for me. Now I have fifty dollar and some other money for operational expense. You give me adventure capital, 200 hundred dollar, and I buy newspaper ad for business."
"I don't know," I was not into my big Internet writer money at that point, so 200 dollars seemed like a considerable chunk of cash.
"Not yet," Gregori interjected. "Keep money for now. I give field demonstration in action. We go to bar tonight. You buy me three beer and I pretend you have 100 dollar credit with Master Insulter."
As entertaining as it sounded, a long day of jury duty had me in the mood to get home.
"Do not say no," Gregori seemed very sad. "This is once in lifetime chance for both of us to become partner in great adventure."
"Gregori…," I began.
"No!" Gregori cut me off. "You give chance. You must see insult in action. Full action and adventure demonstrations."
"I get to pick the bar."
"Very good," he grinned. "Very good. Three beers!"
Against my better judgment our man-date had been made.
That's all for part two of the story of Gregori Baikov, but be sure to check in next week for the final chapter of this epic saga. If you're interested in politics or educating yourself about the truth regarding B. Hussein Obama, head on over to the latest update from Obamawatch!
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