From "The Birthday Party"

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To celebrate the print edition of A Tea Party & Other Strange Stories, I am going to post short sections on Monday's.

The Birthday Party

Oleg Vladimirovich Penkovsky wet his comb with hot water that streamed from a polished silver tap. Music played downstairs. He raked his thinning red hair back into place. Parties could never move quickly enough for Penkovsky. First there were the arrival announcements. Then when the last name on the list was crossed off and sounded, a period of casual conversation ensued lubricated with Vodka and caviar. Even if this stage of a party was Penkovsky’s favorite, for all the gossip that was spilt, it was always followed by a speech, dinner, more socializing, another speech, even more socializing, and finally departures. He finished combing his hair. He dried his comb and slipped it into the back pocket of his Russian colonel issue dress slacks. To think, all this was for a birthday party. Penkovsky thought he had better things too do than attend birthday parties. Russia had better things to be about than birthdays. He pulled his uniform’s coat closed buttoning the large brass clasps. He double checked his State Committee for Science and Technology ID badge. Unfortunately for Penkovsky, useful and interesting things were often accidentally divulged at birthday parties.  

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