Androusha Mille—the great-great-grandson, by the way, of the very same General Evgeny Karlovich Miller, head of the Russian All-General Military union, whom Chekists rubbed out in Paris in 193 ?-received, tenth hand, the assignment to gun down a certain dealer. He was given an envelope, which contained the victim's address and a snapshot, a pistol- a TT—and a three-thousand-dollar advance, in the new denominations. First Androusha counted the money; then he looked at the snapshot, and was stunned-having recognized his PE teacher, who, in seventh grade had given him an F for his exercises on the horse. For some reason, that F burned into his memory; and gazing at the snapshot, he thought with distaste, Oh well, serves you right, fool; you shouldn't stick your nose in commerce if your profession is teaching. And he clearly imagined how he would meet his former teacher in the elevator, slowly withdraw the pistol, plant half a clip in the old dumbbell, then take a check shot to the head, blow in the barrel-for style-and say in a sepulchral voice, “Now you'll think twice before giving Fs to killers.”

In general, Androusha was an okay guy, but stupid. He was destined to become a husband, a father and the manager of a haberdashery shop, but, as is well known, the movement of heavenly bodies was disrupted by our frantic times. And so Androusha set his sights on the romantic profession of hit man, not realizing this choice was, to say the least, not divinely ordained and that he would pay for it one day.