Wednesday, November 24, 2021

 Blog Novel 

Chapter 12

Alexei got up before dawn without having slept properly. For a brief moment he toyed with the idea of calling in sick and staying in bed, but then he would have to go to the doctor and he didn't want to do that.

His face in the mirror was strange to him and all the doubts and fears that haunted him during the night were still there and just as real and threatening as they had been in the dark solitude of his bedroom.

This was not how it had been planned! Not like this after all!

He wanted sex with the attractive foreigner because it seemed safer than looking for someone in the scene of the city and less emotionally dangerous. Now he was on the best way to risk everything he was and had, including his life, because he wanted to sleep in Gregory Burton's bed!

To be able to be with the man who had come closer to him in three days than any other human being. His own feelings for Gregory were so fierce, so overpowering, and so beautiful that he was afraid of losing control of his life completely.

Greg wanted him, wanted to be close to him, wanted him in his life! That was unbelievably beautiful! But just that was impossible!

Alex was already sure of that when Greg had asked his question in the evening.

If Gregory's neighbors were anywhere near as curious as all Russian neighbors usually are, he would be outed within days. His name and precinct were on his uniform, the uniform he went to work in every day! The noises they made in bed were hard to miss even for good-natured and naïve ears. Basically, it was a miracle that no one had noticed that the blond foreigner constantly had a male visitor overnight. In America or Europe, it might be common to live in shared apartments, but here, unmarried children lived either with their parents, in the dormitory, or in the barracks. There was no way he could just live with Gregory, even and especially not for a few weeks.

Alexei had been mourning the future of their love last night, but his mind had decided to give Gregory back the key and end their relationship before there would be no going back at all. Normally the mind controlled Alexei's actions, but this time the rational thoughts caused him a choking nausea and a stabbing pain in his chest.

Greg was the only person Alex had trusted with his innermost heart. He was lovable and interesting. They had a lot to say to each other and it was nice to eat together, play sports or be silent together. Surely it was also about sex. Gregory was so handsome and he had such an arousing body that it gave Alexei goosebumps and made his stomach tingle every time he thought about him, but there was much more than that. The idea of spending a few days together with Greg at Lake Baikal had been so enticing that Alexei would have given a lot to be able to experience it. Just the two of them, alone in the wild, harshly beautiful nature of Siberia. Fishing, hunting, making love and also talking and being silent ...

It tore his heart to let Gregory go, but only one and be it an anonymous report to Internal Affairs saying that Sergeant Alexei Urbanokov was homosexual would set in motion an unstoppable machinery of internal investigation, the course and outcome of which Alex did not want to be confronted with.

The most harmless end would be his dishonorable discharge from the service. Which in itself was not so harmless either, because he had to eat. And what company employed an ex-cop who was kicked out for being gay?

Much more likely than his mere dismissal, however, was an investigation, including pre-trial detention, the conditions of which he could imagine very accurately, vividly, and painfully, leaving absolutely open the question of whether he would survive it. The authorities would avoid any stain on the record. His obituary would say tragic accident.

He was not naïve enough to believe that he could be an exception in his country's legal system. Being on the wrong side of the dock was very dangerous. One could not expect leniency, understanding or even tolerance, but rather to be considered a traitor and a defiler of one's nest and to be treated in the same way. By his own colleagues and superiors, but even more so by the officials of Internal Affairs! Gregory had once asked him if he liked being a policeman. Now Alexei wasn't so sure. But would it be easier if he had another profession?

His reflection became a grimace: "You are a cowardly pig, Alexei! You'll never find anyone like him again! And even if you did, it wouldn't change anything!

A softer voice in his head answered in a whisper: "But at least once I felt what love is...".

He hoped that Gregory would understand him. At least a little bit.

If he himself would try to manage to speak openly and honestly with Greg.


His stomach refused the usual protein shake for breakfast. Alexei made his way to the presidium. The sun was rising, promising a clear, beautiful autumn day. The nights were already cold. The leaves on the avenue trees began to turn red and yellow and the air tasted of earth and forest even though he was walking through the city. Alexei saw the beautiful morning, but he felt nothing. He tried to focus his thoughts on the working day and blanked out everything else. Mikhail, his colleague, arrived only a little later. The night shift said their goodbyes and they had tea together before the lieutenant filled them in with work.

"You look like you threw up, Alexei. What's the matter? Are you sick?"

"No, I'm not, but my father is."

"I know that. Is it that bad?"

"One doesn't really know yet."

Alexei was given a new task that would keep him busy for weeks and on top of that, as an additional challenge, two young colleagues, fresh from the academy and full of ideals and drive, Yuri Abramko and Nadya Lushenka.

He would have preferred to deal with other things, but orders are orders.

Lieutenant Varkody had received unacceptable figures and statistics that worried him.

Irkutsk had suffered almost twice as many casualties from traffic accidents last year as the year before. Although the number of deaths had not increased immensely, the number of injured and seriously injured had.

The city administration demanded measures to improve traffic safety. And preferably immediately and fundamentally. However, at the lowest possible cost!

Alexei was an experienced police officer. And the two rookies were motivated and up to date. The lieutenant formulated the order clearly and precisely. "Urbanokov, you understand what this is about. Work out a comprehensive concept with Yuri and Nadja. I'll give you a free hand for now, but present me with your findings and proposals before we get started. The city council wants to see action! The press is not exactly squeamish about us either, so come up with something short term but also medium term. I don't need to mention that it should be quick, right? Any questions?"

Alexei nodded. "Can we get the exact numbers? I'd like to know where the focal points are on the roads and which road users were most affected. Are there accurate numbers there?"

The lieutenant reached for a file. "Anything I got, you can copy. Divide up the work and get started right away."

"Yes, sir."

Nadya went to copy the file three times and brought the original back to the lieutenant's office. Alexei and Yuri went to Alexei's desk and also made room for Nadya.

"I hope you don't have so many plans in the next few weeks."

Alexei's voice sounded somber.

"What do you mean, Sergeant?"

Alexei looked closely at the two young colleagues. Yuri was slender and dark blond. He looked like a computer guy. Nadja was shorter than Yuri and more Asian. Her black hair was shiny and she had an extremely sympathetic smile.

"First, my name is Alexei, at least when there is no supervisor with us, okay? And second, we're going to be working a lot of overtime. Get ready for that."

Nadja handed each of them a push of papers and they sank their teeth into the numbers.






The flight from Novosibirsk had almost no delay. Elena Ramirez saw her colleague Gregory Burton already while she was still waiting for her bags and she was glad to see him. Greg was looking forward to seeing his colleague from home.

Although he liked it increasingly better in Siberia now, which was of course exclusively due to Alexei, he still felt the longing for Alaska. Especially during the half hour he had spent waiting at the airport, thoughts of his home, his family and the familiar surroundings did not let him go.

Then Elena approached him and she made a great contrast to the other passengers leaving the plane. The Latina looked fresh as the young morning and you could not see the strains of the long flight. Perfect hairstyle, perfect makeup and a bright smile. "Hey Sugar! It's good to see you! How are you!"

She pulled Greg to her impressive chest and smacked a kiss on his cheek. Greg returned her hug. "Hello Elena! Welcome! How was the flight?"

"Long, but otherwise okay. I have to call my son quickly now, though, to let him know I've arrived. I promised I'd get right back to him. Tommy will let his brother know then."

"That's no problem."

He handed her his cell phone and Elena typed the number by heart. The call lasted only a minute.


Greg smiled. "I'll drive you to your hotel first. There's wifi and everything. Are the boys worried about their mommy?"

Elena grinned. "The way you say it, it doesn't sound nice. I'll put it this way, they weren't too comfortable with me coming here, but I'm young and need the money, you know!?"

They both laughed and Greg helped her with the suitcases and bags. It did his ears good to hear spoken English again, and the familiar sound of his native Alaska at that. Short, precise sentences, maybe a little harsh and in no way to be compared with the professional pronunciation of newscasters.

"I'm glad you're here, Elena! Have you had breakfast yet?"

"Yeah, about an hour ago. It was really good coffee and the bread was fresh too. I'd just really like to change clothes before we leave for work."

"We have plenty of time."


The afternoon flew by incredibly fast. Elena was greeted warmly and Greg was pleased to see that the chemistry between her and Sergey seemed to be right. Igor Tomaczinsky also tried hard to attract her attention, but he had little chance compared to the impressive Sergei Volkov. The equipment was checked, the route was discussed once again and many open questions were clarified. Elena was given a company cell phone and a laptop with the necessary data. Igor had prepared everything for her down to the last detail. This service earned him a hearty thank you after all. "Oh, man! That's fantastic! Igor! You've done a wonderful job. And you even put my name on it! Thank you so much!"

Igor beamed at her and Sergey exchanged a grin with Greg.

Sergey grinned. "Tell me Igor, didn't you have another surprise for Elena?"

Igor blushed. He had thought up a little city tour and picked out a restaurant with an Asian flair for their dinner. Secretly he would have liked to show Elena Ramirez his city alone and only then meet up with the others for dinner, but now his courage was failing him a little.

He answered uncertainly, "Well, yes, I've planned a nice tour of the city and reserved a table at the 'Novy Uzbekiston' restaurant for eight o'clock."

Sergey immediately waved it off. So did Roman and Andrei, who would also be going on the trip along the pipeline.

"Leave it to Igor. We'll meet for dinner. Maybe Gregory would like to take you for a ride through our beautiful Irkutsk?"

Greg felt like it. It was Alexei's city, too, and he knew frighteningly little of it until now.

For two hours Elena and Greg listened to Igor talking about the history and present of the city of Irkutsk on Lake Baikal. They drank tea together and Igor made a great effort. Elena was impressed and saw that many of her preconceptions about Siberia were not true. There were beautiful neighbourhoods and churches and squares worth seeing. Her joy at the unexpected sightseeing was genuine and Igor was happy. He promised to pick her up from the hotel in time for dinner and took Greg back to the company where his car was parked.

"That was great Igor! How do you know so much about the city?"

"History is my hobby. Always numbers and calculations are boring at some point, right?"

Greg patted him on the shoulder and said goodbye to change at home and to make a call to Alex.


The evening was wonderful.

Gregory enjoyed his native language. Elena met her travel companions and Sergei's fears and doubts about the expedition, together with a strange woman, dissipated to the winds. Sergei did not know the tasks on the field missions entirely yet. But slowly he got used to the idea of working outside. Elena Ramirez sat across from him, making it very easy for the big man to look forward to the weeks ahead.

Igor had chosen an atmospheric restaurant with the exotic flair of a Silk Road caravanserai. They sat around a round table, on comfortable cushions in bright colors and Asian patterns.

The light was dimmed by beautiful silk lamps. The large restaurant was cleverly divided into alcoves, giving the impression of being completely among themselves. For Roman and Andrei, Sergei, Gregory and Igor were superiors. Therefore, both were correspondingly reserved at first. Sergei needed the two men for the future, and in the course of the evening he made it clear what he expected from them in the coming weeks and beyond.

Gregory and Elena would eventually leave Siberia again. Sergei felt the weight of responsibility but also the challenge of the time ahead. He was not afraid of it. Although he liked Greg very much and enjoyed working with him, their ideas of personnel management were not the same. Gregory maintained a less authoritarian, more informal management style, but never left any doubt about who was boss. Sergei was impulsive, loud and strict. Still, the men in the company seemed to handle it better. Most preferred clear announcements. Gregory knew he could slowly back off and let Sergei handle more and more of the day-to-day business.

Sergei Volkov was the boss. Greg was the advisor for those cases where advice was still needed. That was good and right. Over the next few weeks, they would all work together to get the pipeline overhaul process on track.

In the coming winter, they would inspect some pump stations together. With the repairs needed there, Sergey didn't need anyone to tell him how to assign his people. He had done that for many years at the machine shop. Roman and Andrei would lead two of his teams.

Greg watched the project grow and was very proud and pleased with himself and the work they were all doing together.

They ate, drank and laughed at the fanciful toasts. According to the old tradition, everyone took their turn with it. Russians drink a lot, but never without reason. So each round was started with a more or less original motto.

Elena was fascinated by the strange food and bravely tried everything Igor and Sergey put on her plate. They laughed a lot, and the conversations became more relaxed and private.

It was an extremely amusing spectacle for Greg to watch his two colleagues courtship the classy  Elena. Unlike the men, she did not drink. Gregory knew this from previous occasions. He himself had also stopped after the second glass so that he could still drive home safely.

After dessert, Elena put her arm around Greg and asked, "How's that darling, will you put me to bed? This place is nice, but I've had a long day and I really need my beauty sleep."

Sergey saw the disappointment in Igor's face and even he himself suspected that she had meant it literally. If anything, it was to Greg's credit ...

The parting was short and painless. They would all meet again early in the morning.


"So, what do you think of your colleagues?"

Gregory turned into the main street.

"Nice, so far. I think I can work with Sergei. Are you interested in what's going on at home?"

"Well, sure! Tell me!"

Elena reported quickly and in concise sentences, about the past months in Valdez and at the company. She spoke edgier than earlier in the restaurant, more Alaskan because she no longer had to be considerate of her Russian colleagues, and Greg was happy to listen.

"Summer has sucked the last few weeks. Way too cold and too wet. Martin Brooks can't wait to have you back. Richard and Peter can't replace you in the long run."

That elicited a grin from Greg, but he didn't interrupt her. He just enjoyed listening to her voice.

"I think the fish season is going to be subpar. They're not that big this year. Oh, and old harbor master, Harry died. Did you know him?"

"Yeah sure, all my life! What happened to him?"

"I don't know. All of a sudden. All town was at the funeral. That's where I met your father, too. He invited me for coffee and gave me something for you. Will you take me to my room? I have more things for you."

"Yes, with pleasure."

He found a parking space just outside the hotel entrance. The doorman smiled knowingly as they got into the elevator.

Elena had a large, heavy bag for Gregory.

"Hey, what's all this?"

"First, the Barbie doll you commissioned and some candy. And then some stuff from your parents and a bottle of bourbon for you. As a thank you."

"You're crazy!"

"No, Greg. I could really use the money for this job, and I was glad you thought of me. So, thanks for that."

Gregory looked in the bag for a moment, then asked, "What do you get for the doll?"

"Nothing. It was such fun for me to buy it."

"But I don't want you to."

"Well, tell me the story of who should get the Barbie, but from the beginning."

The armchairs in the bay window of the spacious room were comfortable and it was nice to talk openly with Elena. In front of her, he didn't need to play a role. She knew about his orientation. They talked for almost a whole hour, and only when they parted did Greg say carefully, "You remember that you're in Russia when you're working with the others, okay?"

"What do you mean?"

"First, take good care of yourself and report to me immediately if anything is wrong. Second ..." His voice lowered. "It stinks to me, but I can't be openly gay here. They have weird laws and stuff. I'm not out here and I'd like to keep it that way, otherwise the rest of my time won't be a bed of roses, foreigner bonus or not."

Elena nodded. "Now I also understand the look Igor and Sergey exchanged earlier. They thought the two of us were going to bed together!"

Greg laughed softly. "Maybe so!"

Elena sat up straight and grinned widely. "Nice compliment for me! As if an old mother like me could stand a chance with a young stud like you!"

Gregory pulled her into his arms in farewell and mischievously replied, "Don't sell yourself short, honey! Good night, see you tomorrow!"

As Gregory stepped off the elevator in the lobby, the doorman looked at his watch, nodded at him, and pressed the buzzer for the exit.


Alexei was not waiting in his bed.

Greg had wished that he would. His body had longed for it. But he hadn't really expected it. He hadn't reached Alexei that afternoon on the phone, and the text message he'd received in response to his call was as brief and matter of fact as if Alex had written it at his desk at the office, which was very likely the case.

Greg read the few words again.

<Hello Gregory! I saw your call. Have to work overtime, unfortunately. Keep in touch. A.<


Alexei had to buy himself some time. He didn't yet know how he should or wanted to act toward Greg. The key to his friend's apartment hung on his own keychain with him and burned in his back pocket whenever he thought of Gregory.

The extra duties were just what he needed. He needed a few days to think.

On the job, everything was going well. The two young colleagues, Yuri and Nadja, were motivated and very nice. Alexei was confident that he would soon be able to present an action plan to his lieutenant.

After the service, Alexei immediately went to the hospital.

His father was feeling a little better. They had already moved him back to his old room. He was still weak, but responsive and reasonably confident. The painkillers he was given made him tired but also took away the pain after the procedure.

The senior doctor sent for Alexei and Alex immediately sensed that it was serious.

"Good evening Mr. Urbanokov. Please take a seat."

"Thank you."

Alexei sat down and tried to remain calm, although a warning uneasiness crept over him and he did not suspect anything good when the doctor looked him in the face.

"First of all, your father's femoral neck fracture surgery went well. In a few days, we'll be able to start mobilizing him again."

"What does that mean, please?"

"He needs to practice walking with walkers. The leg is not yet back to full strength."

Alexei nodded. The doctor continued speaking without averting his gaze, "I'm sure you already suspect it. I also have some less good news for you. I had my suspicions when I first saw your father, but I wanted to be absolutely sure before I told him and you."

Alexei tightened his body in anticipation of the blow coming his way.

"Your father has advanced, chronic heavy metal poisoning. That's not uncommon among workers in heavy industry. He has particularly high levels of cadmium in his blood. That's the reason for his cachexia and anemia, and very likely for the compound fracture. His kidneys are also barely functioning. He probably hid from you that he has problems with urination. The urine has an extremely foul odor."

Alexei lowered his head. He knew of several of his father's colleagues who had died of kidney failure.

"Can you tell me how ... how this is going?"

The doctor did not sugarcoat the facts.

"If your father has any official business to take care of, you should do it very soon now. I can't give you an exact prognosis, but calculate in months, not years. I'm very sorry to have to tell you this."

Alexei swallowed and nodded slowly. "Does my father know yet?"

"No. I wanted to talk to you first. Would you like to be there when I talk to him?"


Ivan Urbanokov was not very surprised when he heard what the senior physician had to say to him. He nodded now and then and finally asked, "Can I go home again?"

The doctor shrugged. "That depends on how you get back on your feet after surgery. You'll have to stay here for some more time."

He wrestled a smile from himself and patted the old man's shoulder.

"We'll do what we can for you."

When Ivan was alone with his son, he asked in a grim voice, "You asked him how long, didn't you?"

Alexei nodded.

"And what did he say? My friends all had only a few weeks left ..."

Alexei tried to sound confident. "You never really know!" He took a few deep breaths. "But he said if there's anything to settle, don't put it off."

"What would I have to settle!" Ivan swallowed hard. "Except my funeral!"

Then he cried, and Alexei held his sobbing father in his arms, who suddenly seemed even smaller and more fragile.

Alexei came home late. His thoughts were going in circles and for the first time in his life he would have liked a sip of vodka or a pill to help him sleep.

He tossed and turned restlessly another night.

Then his cell phone vibrated on the nightstand. Alex read the short text:

<Good night! Thinking of you! Greg<

"Ohh, my God! Grishka! I'm thinking about you too! I love you! I need you! I need you so much! Shit! Shit! Shit!"

He screamed his grief into the pillow. No one heard him.




"Thank you for following the story of Greg and Alex! Please follow the blog or follow the author on Twitter, so that you won't miss any new update!"  

Big News! New and exciting! The Christmas story 'A Lonely Silent Night' by Reg Dixon is out now! It's an e-book only edition to safe some trees and protect the climate.



Is Christmas really the time of miracles?

Christmas time is supposed to be the most beautiful season of the year, but Luke doesn’t want glamorous shows or expensive presents. All he needs is a place to live.

After a hot party, Luke wakes up in a hospital bed, bruised and broken, not remembering what happened. Weeks later, he returns to an empty apartment—no furniture and no boyfriend.

Down to his last penny, he calls the one remaining name on his contact list. That desperate phone call opens the door to a new life. Strangers generously open their hearts, give him shelter and a job. Starting at the bottom isn’t easy, but he gets back on his feet. With the help of a man who means a lot more than a workmate.

Miracles do happen.

A Lonely, Silent Night is a low-angst MM holiday romance with an HFN ending. This short story is set in Germany, where Christmas is the most important holiday of the year.



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  Blog Novel  Chapter 12 Alexei got up before dawn without having slept properly. For a brief moment he toyed with the idea of calling in...