English / 14.12.2021 / 3585


Nikolay Mokhov, author from the Dark Side of Business

Part I. Vaeroy

Chapter I. Reflections on codfish and herring

His fingers were freezing from the cold. Gauntlets over the gloves, winter boots… None of this protected him from the harsh wind. The arctic ocean is nearby. Is that where the wind is blowing from?

— Brasileiro, why did you get distracted? Hook it up... — commanded the crew chief. He was making sure that the workers were quick at hanging the fish to dry.

Brasileiro looked at the cod with hatred. Cod, cod, cod... Those who never lived in northern Europe would not understand the significance of this fish. It would be shocking to find out that in the second half of the 20th century, there were three times when Iceland was ready to start a war with England over codfish. The Icelanders increased their water areas three times. The United Kingdom tried to seize the small island twice, but they were met with manifestations of being ready for war. All of this was happening in the utmost modern history… If not for the American intervention, then WWIII would have easily started because of fish. Fish, which Brasileiro already despised, since he was obtaining cod, and also given cod as a daily reward for all his hard work. The course of life was measured in codfish.

All of the island’s residents were either criminals or idiots. On Vaeroy, no one paid attention to one’s passport, visa, or any other minor details. You don’t cause trouble, don’t fight, and you’re ready to work with fish? Then you can live here

Brasileiro hanged yet another bundle of fish to dry. The undemanding Norwegians were devouring the sun-dried fish, following the will of their Viking ancestors from a thousand years ago. Moreover, the northerners completely ignored the rest of the sea creatures, they discarded them, concentrating entirely on their totem…

Or perhaps, screw that codfish? Maybe I should switch to herring? On the enchanting island of Vaeroy, there were only two factories, which were responsible for the jobs of all the 400 of the island’s inhabitants. One of them was decent— on that factory, people were obtaining and preparing codfish, and everyone wanted to work there.

The second factory worked with herring. It was controlled by two brothers with a controversial reputation. At some point, the company, which consisted of a hangar and some holey crockery, was owned by their dad. But one day, an incident happened. Two brothers and their dad had set off to the restless sea… Then, their dad fell overboard. There was no one to investigate that emergency. The only policeman there preferred not to leave his lodgings. At the same time, it never prevented him from knowing all the necessary information about all of the inhabitants.

The brothers, even if they did murder their father, had nothing to fear. All of the island’s residents were either criminals or idiots. On Vaeroy, no one paid attention to one’s passport, visa, or any other minor details. You don’t cause trouble, don’t fight, and you’re ready to work with fish? Then you can live here.

One of Brasileiro’s neighbours — a hectic Spaniard who liked to aimlessly wave his arms, allegedly, ran away to this island to escape the Russian mafia. The other neighbour — a German man, who was seemingly hiding from mandatory army service. Originally, he was hiding in Latin America. He wanted to follow the previously explored path of the runaway fascists. However, it somehow led him to Cuba… Thus, he roamed around the Atlantic Ocean, until finally coming ashore on the viking island…

— Abort!

Brasileiro went to the crew chief Frede to get his portion of cod. Frede had weighted out and served the fillet with pleasure. His whole look made it obvious that he was a true commander — a father to the soldiers, i.e. workers, and through him, the factory cared about its employees. It provided them with money and food. Frede liked to act important and feel his belonging to the white cast of top managers.

For the sake of harmony and balance at the factory, a few years ago, the responsible Frede was joined by the fraud Lorense. Allegedly, Lorense had the position of the factory’s commercial director. In reality, all he was doing was coming up with frivolous scams. In the recent days, he’s been proudly wandering around the factory. It means that yet another scam had failed, and he was once again responsible for the company suffering financial losses. Brasileiro heard rumors that it was Lorense who had sent a batch of cod to Nigeria, where the sly Nigerian officials declared the shipment to be below their country’s standards. They took the fish away but refused to pay for it. A classic African fraud scheme. A fraud scheme Lorense had fallen victim to, Lorense, who himself lived by the motto of «Fuck one over without shame — one like you, the same» (*). Most times, his own policy worked against him. So, just like any other fraud who had just failed, Lorense wasn’t moaning, he was glowing. Glowing with a smile which bared all of his twenty uneven teeth, he was going towards the chef’s office.

Now, the chief will give his pocket fraud hell— in a quiet, Norwegian style. But he won’t fire him. After all, Lorense is a rare kind of entertainment available to him. The chief can’t read, he isn’t interested in music or cinema. His only passion is codfish. As a ten-year-old boy, he used to collect fish heads. Using a knife, he used to cut out their tongues, which were known as a delicacy in Norway. The waste from the production was sent off to be sold in Nigeria. The labor of separating the tongue from the head was seen as dreary, so the fact that the guy was doing it and making money from it gained him respect from the other islanders.

Years later, the chief took a credit without any trouble and built a modern factory. His deputy Frede was running around the production plant and shouting — that is, pretending to monitor the production process. Lorense was acting out the role of a fraud and losing money in obvious, foolish scams. Brasileiro, on the other hand, was working alongside other
underdogs — just hanging fish day and night in order for it to dry. He was waking up early, coming back from work late, and Sunday was his only day off. And tomorrow was one of those days…

Сhapter II
(*) An adapted version of a rude Russian rhyme-play. Literal translation: “Fuck a passerby over, the passerby who is like you.”

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