In the House of Razum. Chapter I.

1 Oct

“You must help me find her, Mr. Klimov,” pleaded the short, plump man with streaks of white in his jet black hair. “I am desperate to locate my daughter and bring her home. The police say they have little chance of themselves finding her. They told me at the Missing Persons Department that women her age often disappear on their own. I was advised to hire a private investigator like you.”

David Klimov thought over what the man in front of him had said about the missing female. Should he agree to work for the distraught father? Was it right to accept his money if the young, unmarried lady had run off voluntarily and did not want to return, as was apt to be the situation here?

The father seemed not to understand what the probable outcome would turn out to be.

“There are people here in Moscow who do not wish to be found,” explained the detective in a low, controlled voice. “Did your Sara have any reason to run away from home on her own? Was there any personal problem she was facing?”

Boris Milov appeared shaken by the question for a moment.

“No,” he firmly asserted. “Nothing such as that. Not with my Sara.”

“She is what is termed a good girl, then?”

“Certainly,” insisted the father. “Sara is the image of her late mother.”

“How old was your daughter when your wife died, Mr. Milov?”

“She was only a child of six.” His blue eyes all of a sudden turned milky. “She remembers little of her mother. It was all quite sad.”

Detective Klimov stared intently at the wealthy storeowner. Something drew him into an instant decision.

“Alright. I will take the case, sir.”

Milov’s eyes lit up with joy. “When can you start?”

“At once. I have no other business at this time.”

“I will pay you the standard rate, whatever it happens to be.”

Klimov took a blank contract out of his desk and handed it to his new client. The merchant took out a small inker and signed it on the desk top. It lay there as the two men studied each other.

“Sara may not be in Moscow,” sighed the investigator. “I might have to go elsewhere. It is impossible to foresee where her trail could take me. The expenses may mount as my task expands.”

“I understand,” nodded the older man. “Money is of no concern to me in this.”

“I will need your full cooperation, Mr. Milov.”

“Of course,” exclaimed the latter. “Whatever I know, I will provide to you.”

“Sara was studying at Moscow University, you said earlier?”

“Yes. This was to be her last year.”

“What was her field?”

“Parapsychology,” declared the father with a hint of bitterness. “She has for a long time had an interest in those sort of things. That was so even when she was a child. This interest became a consuming obsession for her.”

“I see,” muttered the detective. “Can I see the room she lived in?”

“Yes, of course. It would be helpful to you?”

“Yes,” replied Klimov.

“Very well. When can I expect you at my home?”

“This evening, Mr. Milov,” smiled Klimov. “I want to start this job as soon as I can. That is essential. Seeing where she lives is the best first step that I know.”

“How is that, may I ask?”

“Often, one item can be the key. I have learned this from long experience in tracing those who have disappeared.”

The client rose from his chenic chair, as did the man he had just hired.

The two shook hands and Boris Milov departed for home.

David Klimov sat at the desk awhile, staring into empty space.

Where is the young student of parapsychology? he wondered. What will happen when and if I hunt her down?

The police report was severely concise.

Sara Milova, born 2041, to Boris and Maria Milov in Moscow, the Russian Republic.

Attended public grammar and high schools.

Admitted to Moscow University in 2060.

Scholarship award from the Department of Psychology.

Graduate assistant at the Parapsychology Institute. Working for her Magisterium Degree.

Disappeared in early May, 2065.

No one was able to provide any information about where she moved to.

Klimov looked over the holographic portrait of the missing person he had ordered.

Sara was a dark-haired, dark-skinned young woman with a plain face. There was something extremely Russian about the shape of her head. She would not be hard to recognize if he came across her, David was certain.

The detective read on in the police report.

No communications from her to anyone she knew. No messages, no calls for help.

No ransom demands from abductors.

No signs of violence or foul play.

Nothing at all to go on, in fact. That was all the police could put together.

He handed the sheet of cellulose back to the police clerk who had provided it. This was going to be a difficult case, no question about that.

As he walked out of the Missing Persons Department, his mind was fixed on the face he remembered from the holograph in his coat pocket.

Who was she in her mind and character? Why had she vanished so abruptly?

The Perovo district was one of comfortable living by comfortable people.

It had belonged to the rising Moscow middle class before the 1917 Revolution. Then, for seventy years, the Communist Party apparatchiki had occupied it. The fall of the Soviet Union and one-party rule had brought new business families into the osobniaki, the individual houses of this urban region.

The father of Boris Milov opened his women’s fashion shop in the early 2000’s. It had prospered in the growing economy of the start of the new century and a prosperous era. Money had poured in and the Milovs had moved into Perovo.

Boris grew up in this large house and so did his only child, Sara.

The detective, walking along a short path to the front door, was impressed by the ornate brick structure. It was a roomy building for only two persons, now reduced to one. Why had the daughter left such a residence? Had coercion been applied to her? he wondered.

The red brick of the house was solid and geometrical. It was the result of excellent builders of the early twentieth century, the era of a first, doomed capitalism in Russia. It had survived into the sixties of this new century, still strong and magnificent with its old, red-baked Russian kirpich of a bygone age.

Boris Milov himself answered the front door when the investigator pressed the buzzer.

“Come in,” he motioned with his right hand. “Come in, Mr. Klimov.”

The latter entered a long, narrow hallway that traversed the length of the house. Milov closed the large, heavy door and led the visitor into a small study lined with rows of silicon disk files. He pointed to a stuffed sofa chair and the detective sat down there, more in than on it.

Milov was behind a dark mahogany desk in a matching chair.

“You like to read?” smiled Klimov. “This room contains more silicon tapes than many a library I have seen in my time.”

“My father was a book-collector and read voraciously. I myself have never had much time for books,” he said with a sorrowful sigh.

“Your daughter,” inquired the visitor. “Did she read a lot here?”

“Indeed, yes. She practically grew up in this study, alone with the disks and tapes. Sara was a very precocious, intelligent child.”

“She had few friends, I take it.”

“Hardly any at all, Mr. Klimov.”

“I see. She had no personal complications or connections, then.”

The father raised his right hand. His face reddened like a flame.

“There was no young man in her life, if that is what you mean.”

“I was not probing about her love life, Mr. Milov.”

The latter unexpectedly rose to his feet as if in anger.

“I will show you where Sara’s room is,” he grunted to the detective he had hired to find his missing daughter.

A gigantic house, but a very tiny bedroom for the young woman who had lived here all her life. Almost as if she was still considered a child. Klimov realized that to her father she was still not an adult and perhaps never would be.

As he went through her desk and personal possessions, he felt a profound pity for Sara Milova. So sheltered and over-protected. Isolated from others her age from the earliest years. He sensed that her father had been a jealously possessive parent.

Had something gone wrong in her bringing-up and had that impelled her to take flight on her own? He was a detective, a Russian syshchik, not a psychologist or psychiatrist. But the better he understood Sara, the higher his chance of discovering what had become of her. Unfortunately, the materials on her desk contained nothing of intimacy, no clue to her inner mind. There were no personal letters, no diary or journal, no photographs of friends. No hint of inner emotional life at all.

What a lonely person she had been! he mused to himself. A life nearly empty of anything but…what was it? Parapsychology, he had to conclude. That was the main content of her disks and tapes on the desk.

If that was the center of her existence, perhaps the answer was there.

A small calendar with an Orthodox saint on its cover lay on her night stand beside the small bed. A pink fibrafon receiver was next to it.

On an impulse, David picked up the calendar and leafed through the months.

A few words were written here and there, to mark particular dates. For May, the end of university classes was indicated. Examinations that Sara had failed to show up for. An interrupted daily routine of studies and tasks to complete.

Flipping over to June, the detective found one future date marked.

In the box for June 17 there was noted two curious words. “Razum House.” That, and only that.

What did it mean? he asked himself.

Klimov told himself to ask about it as soon as he had an opportunity.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s