Image by Pete Linforth (Pixabay)

The Gun Shop Boys

Part of the Flash Fiction Train

‘State your name for the record, please, Mr Yakavenka.’

‘Um…’

‘Is there a problem, Mr Yakavenka?’

Aside from the faint Russian accent that leaked out from under her Texan twang? He sighed. ‘Well, yeah. My real name’s not Yakavenka.’

The officer’s only concession to his announcement was the arch of her right eyebrow. ‘Is that so, Mr Yakavenka?’

‘Yes. No. I mean, yes that’s so, and no I’m not Mr Yakavenka.’

‘Then who are you, Mr Yakavenka?’

‘I’m David Schultz.’

‘Please spell that for the record, Mr Ya — Schultz.’

He obliged.

‘And what brings you to the agency today, Mr Schultz?’ She gave him a charming and terrifying smile. ‘Most guests don’t invite themselves.’

‘I’m no guest. I work here.’

She laughed. ‘I am quite certain that is not true, Mr Schultz. But I can see you’ve done your research: an agent of that name once worked for us, but he’s been retired for many years now, following a workplace incident that resulted in severe health complications. He’ll live out the remainder of his days in — ’

‘The tiny village of Dzisna on the bank of the Daugava River, nestled in one of the peaceful forests of Belarus.’

The officer regained her composure quickly, but not quick enough.

‘Your delivery is excellent, Officer — exactly as we wrote it, way back in March 1991.’

‘Sir, I — ’

‘Don’t worry about it, Officer…?’ He trailed off into a question, hoping she’d state her name.

She either didn’t notice his implied question or chose to ignore it, and nodded briskly. ‘That’s a long time building a cover, sir. I can’t imagine you’d break it lightly.’

‘Damn straight.’

‘So: why now?”

‘I’ve been running a firearms store for the last fourteen years, slowly gathering intel, feeding it back here. Business is slow, but the intel is good.’

‘Ah, so you’re the informant, Dzmitry Abramczyk.’

‘That’s me — but you’ll need to confirm my identity later. The situation is escalating and can’t wait. Six days ago, the target walked into my shop.’

‘You’ve been compromised?’

‘No — nothing like that.’ He scowled. ‘Not me.’

She gasped. ‘Not Darja, sir?’

Her sharp tone shocked David into sitting more upright. ‘I believe she’s above your security clearance, Officer…?’

‘I believe you don’t know my security clearance, Agent Schultz. Has Darja’s cover been compromised?’

‘Not that I know of.’

‘So why was the target in your shop, Agent Schultz?’

‘He wanted to buy a gun. A big one.’

‘What, he couldn’t get one through his usual supply chain?’

‘My guess would be that he didn’t want his usual supply chain to know about this gun, Officer…?’

‘I can’t tell you my name, Agent Schultz, but I can tell you it’s well above your security clearance. Please stop asking.’

‘Okay, but can you uncuff me?’

She smiled, pulled a bobby pin from her hair, and popped his cuffs.

David rubbed his wrists. ‘That shouldn’t be possible.’

‘Many things shouldn’t be possible, Agent Schultz. What happened with the target?’

‘I sold him a Chinese military prototype. He paid in cash, and left the store.’

She nodded thoughtfully. ‘Then what did he do?’

‘I don’t know. I haven’t seen him.’

The officer’s exasperation shone through this time. ‘Mr Schultz, I believe you came here because you’ve got a point to make. Please make it.’

‘Well, you asked — ’

‘Now.

‘Thirty-six minutes after he’d left, another man came in. I found this suspicious, because I usually only get one customer a day. Max.’

She frowned. ‘Who’s Max?’

‘No, I mean maximum. A maximum of one customer. Sometimes none.’

‘Of course. Please continue.’

‘This man said, “You sold a man a big gun. The man is my friend, and I would like you to sell me an even bigger gun.”’ Pre-empting the officer’s next question, he continued: ‘So I did: US military prototype.’

‘You think they’re working together?’ That subtle accent leaked through again.

‘Sounds like it, but I’m not sure, because he asked me not tell his friend about it.’’

The officer frowned, supposing it could just be a case of testosterone-fuelled competition, but hoping it was something more. ‘Did you recognise this man, Agent Schultz?’

‘No, he’s not on our register. At least, not at my clearance. Said his name was Andrei Kalinouski. His gun licence seemed legit.’

“Did you copy it?’

David passed a flip phone over the table to her. She didn’t recognise the man in the grainy photo. ‘I’ll need to send this to Tech. We’ll give you a new phone later today.’ She laughed. ‘Maybe an iPhone, huh?’

‘There’s more.’

‘What?’

‘A third man came in, Russian, some kind of giant, first thing the next morning.’

‘Let me guess, he wanted a gun that was even bigger than the Man-with-the-Even-Bigger-Gun’s gun?’

‘Nope. He said, “I know you sold some big guns yesterday, but big men do not need big guns. I would like a Kolibri.” But I didn’t have one — they’re hard to come by these days, because only a few thousand were ever made — so I sold him a 2mm Japanese pinfire pistol instead.’

‘And his licence?’

‘Next picture.’ He watched in amusement as she tried to swipe the screen. ‘Arrow key.’

The next picture showed a beautiful woman lying across a bed, naked but for her bright red hat and matching heels. She was propped up on her elbows, staring into the camera.

‘Other way.’

And there he was — she’d recognise that scar anywhere.


This story is a part of a collaborative chain of flash fiction stories. Resources and links are available in the master post here:

Characters in this story

  • Agent David Schultz, a.k.a. informant Dzmitry Abramczyk, a.k.a. Belarusian gun shop owner Mr Yakavenka
  • Darja, a female spy
  • Officer??? whose identity is above Agent Schultz’s clearance
  • Man with a Gun
  • Man with an Even Bigger Gun, a.k.a. Andrei Kalinouski
  • Big man with a scar and a teeny tiny gun
  • Woman in the Red Hat