Ivan Popov’s eyes bugged out.
“Fake? What mean fake?”
Russian Mafia billionaire Borys Popov gave his dimwitted brother Ivan the kind of look he usually reserved for roadkill skunk and sewer rats.
“Just what I said, Мудак, sacred Ukrainian cross one big bogus counterfeit hoax.”
The politically connected mob chieftain had asked Ivan to stop by to help him look for the famous Ukrainian crucifix he thought he misplaced while relocating into the luxurious house he moved into when he lost the penthouse in the structure he imploded to replace with the super condo tower he was building on the beach. Borys’ palatial digs rivaled Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago. Trump once even asked Borys for a few decorating tips to share with Melania who didn’t know a curtain rod from a petrified whale penis.
Borys’ bachelor pad encapsulated an $11 million Clearwater Beach palace he owned and used only to entertain business, political and mob clients (sometimes one in the same), an 8,548-square-foot waterfront home built with 5 bedrooms and 5.5 bathrooms. The mansion also featured a private gym, a theater room, a billiard room, a media center, a deepwater dock with a 30,000 lb. boat lift, and an elevator he used to reach a private observation deck where he enjoyed vodka gimlet cocktails in the lounge after a long day on the water burying bodies.
Ivan moved into Sam Bennett’s musty old Spyglass room the old fellow vacated when he went on the run for the gull drone poop attack against the right-wing Florida governor and his flighty First Lady. Few people knew Sam’s whereabouts, but those who did also knew he’d survive. More than anything, Sam’s friends wanted him to be free. Sam craved freedom more than anybody.
The missing 24 karat cross included a one-inch piece of wood encased in glass, the blessed artifact cut from what gullible Christians worldwide called the “True Cross” on which they believed Jesus hung like drapes in the Vatican. This famed fragment from the cross on which Roman soldiers supposedly crucified Christ was even bigger than the other priceless hunk that was submerged in April when Ukrainian soldiers sunk the Russian warship Moskva, the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet.
Jesus personally autographed this splinter as he hung out to die, modern believers believed, scribbling his initials before soldiers pounded that last nail into his right hand. Suckers also believed deeply that Jesus carved the letters in the Latin alphabet because Jesus spoke all the world’s languages.
But Borys tired of the ruse about the cross that had outlived its usefulness. Now only interested in making the biggest profit he could, he decided to sell the relic. The plan went off the rails when Ivan “borrowed” the cross to wear to RayRay’s Elbow Room like a Saturday Night Fever medallion and told the Duvall brothers about the priceless value of the cross. These seasoned hustlers saw a quick score when he passed out drunk and they slipped the cross over Ivan’s thick skull.
“Cross is 100 % phony with spray paint gold,” said Borys. “I make deal with Pope to sell cross for $25 million in off-the-books cash stashed in Swiss bank account.”
Ivan looked shocked.
“Pope believes cross is real?”
“Pope believes virgin birth story, doesn’t he?”
What could have been a huge score for Borys Popov now turned into a massive debacle. Nobody expected the Duvalls to drive off the bridge in a deadly crash-and-burn automobile accident. Nobody expected RayRay to come into possession of the sneaky brothers’ treasure map, let alone the religious heirloom. And nobody expected the cellphone to ring in Ivan’s pocket while his international gangster and well respected Floridian brother scorned him.
“I found your necklace,” RayRay said when Ivan answered.
“You have blessed piece of holy lumber?”
Trembling, Ivan handed the phone to Borys.
“Return sacred relic now, American swine,” Borys said.
“Only if you guarantee nobody files charges against Sam Bennett,” RayRay said.
“Cross worth nothing to me now. Tell it to the Pope” Borys said. “You will pay for threatening John Gotti of USSR, you American capitalist dog.”
“I have something else you might want,” RayRay said.
Borys went silent as a bronze bust of Karl Marx as RayRay explained in a nice well-modulated voice.
“Remember those six-foot suntanned Moldovan beauty pageant contestants in Moscow a few years back? When I found the cross I also found video tapes of you and you know who dancing naked to Ted Nugent songs in what looks like a golden champagne fountain spray.”
Borys dropped his voice to a growl.
“You have those tapes? With me and you know who dancing naked in golden shower with Moldovan hotties?”
RayRay couldn’t help but snicker.
“You know who is wearing nothing but a red baseball cap backwards like it’s Snoop Dog Day at the massage parlor. And you’re covered in thick chocolate syrup with ripe red strawberries stuck to your nipples.”
Borys threw the cellphone across the room, smashing glass and knocking off the wall a framed photo of him playing golf with you know who. The picture landed face up with you know who’s belly glistening in the sun streaking through the window like an orca sunning himself at another cruel SeaWorld show.
“How did Elbow Room boss get dirty tapes, Ivan?”
Ivan blushed redder than heat rash on a Red Diaper baby’s bottom.
Here’s why: Those equally dirty Duvall brothers stole the cross and the porn tapes Borys stored on a thumb drive that wound up in Ivan’s pocket so he could show off you know who’s X-rated ballet to the girl he expected to pick up in the bar that night, Ruby, the sexy waitress who would fall for him one way or the other whether she liked it or not.
All Ivan could think to say in response were two words from his favorite Ted Nugent song.
“Wango Tango,” he said.