Home > 2012-13 Season > The Rise and Fall of Oleg: A Cautionary Tale

The Rise and Fall of Oleg: A Cautionary Tale

September 16, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

65666034Reporter Cookies Puhl won an unwieldy trophy for his 2013 coverage of  “Oleg”, once one of the richest men in Lankville, who was found living in a pay-by-week motel. Cookies was murdered shortly thereafter.

THE RISE AND FALL OF OLEG
By Cookies Puhl- INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER

He was so wealthy that he paid cash for an expansion hockey club.  He owned 16 houses, including several at Lankville Beach.  He kept a garage packed with fully-restored vintage cars.

And then he lost it all.  His hockey club folded.  The homes and cars were auctioned off.  The man himself disappeared from public view.  What became of Oleg?

Cookies Puhl did some poking around and then some shoving of people and finally found the former executive holed up in a pay-by-the-week motel, operating a fledgling internet cat-related crafts business. His story:

Oleg limps to a fast-food restaurant every morning where he eats two large pancake meals from styrofoam containers. “Even though I eat in, I always ask for the containers,” he says, slathering the cakes with seven packets of syrup. “The reason for this is that I can use the styrofoam in the cat-related crafts business. You have to think ahead, you know.”

Back to his room by eight, Oleg checks his email for orders. There are none. Now–the waiting game.

“I have my boxes ready to go,” says the former executive, pointing to a dim corner of the carpeted room. “There’s some bubble wrapping there, some labels. Then the crafts themselves are in a storage bin down by the weeds. You know, down there.” Oleg points vaguely to some distant craft arena.

I ask him if he is not upset about losing his sports franchise, his houses, his cars. “We had a good run,” he says, vaguely. “I had a good time sitting up in those skyboxes, having boxes of popcorn brought to me by tanned women. But, that’s all over now.”

He checks his email again. Still no orders.

“We have ceramic cat paper weights,” he says, for no reason. “So, if you find yourself in a situation where you have a lot of papers flying around but you also like cats…” He stops. He looks vaguely past the cheap curtains towards an enormous gravel lot that was once a drive-in movie theatre. There seems to be nothing behind his initial enthusiasm for cat-related crafts. There seems to be nothing behind those large brown eyes except sadness. He is a man bereft.

Another check of the email. Nothing. In fact, other, older messages seem to have suddenly disappeared. He reloads the page and the site crashes altogether. He suddenly throws up some half-masticated pancake into a wastebasket.

“I use this thing called spummail.net. It only costs $0.99 a year. But it’s unreliable. I’ll have to wait two hours now before it reloads.” He wipes the edge of the wastebasket with a damp towelette.

“I think I’ll probably take some hard decongestants and a nap for awhile,” he declares. He flops down on the unmade bed, watching the computer and its laborious machinations. A loud humming suddenly fills the cramped space.

The man that once owned a franchise in the Pondicherry Association suddenly falls asleep. It is only 9AM.

Cookies Puhl will continue the sad story of Oleg in later issues.

Part II  Who is Oleg?

Who is “Oleg”? A complicated question with even more complicated answers.

“Oleg” was born in the Depths Island town of Ludz though he is quick to point out that his parents were 100% Lankvillian. “During the War, my father was permitted to travel between Lankville  and Ludz,” Oleg reveals, after finally waking from his decongestant stupor. “The reasons for this are unclear to me to this day. My father sent the family to Lankville in 1992 and two years later he was viciously murdered before he could join us. The details are murky but it appears that he attempted to purchase a pair of extremely wide shoes, an argument ensued and that he was knifed to death by the clerk. We got a letter in the mail saying that.”

“Saying what exactly?” I ask.

“That he was knifed to death by a shoe clerk. Ever since then, I have had deep resentment for the Islands and when I was wealthy and could afford many globes [at one time Oleg had seventeen], I was always quick to place a blue piece of construction paper over the country so that it appeared to be ocean. I called it the Lankville Ocean.”

Oleg’s email has finally reappeared after many hours of loud humming and strange warning boxes. There are no orders.

“My father taught me about business. He taught me to save large sums of money by hurting smaller people. He also taught me to deprive myself of things until I had a lot of money and then to spend it on ridiculous things, like hockey teams. These were his life lessons.”

Oleg repairs to a small hot plate that he produces from beneath a knot of soiled blankets. There is a styrofoam ice chest as well and from there he brings forth a box of “Steak-Om’s”.

“Steak-Om?” he asks. I want one desperately but I can tell that Oleg is only offering out of obligation. I say no and he seems terribly relieved. He begins warming the frozen steak panel over the hot plate.

The day is half-over.

The sad story of “Oleg” will continue in further issues.

Part III,  Oleg Reflects
By Cookies Puhl- Investigative Reporter

Oleg has fallen asleep again and burned his Steak- Om lunch. He reflects upon the loss as he turns over the now empty container, almost as if he hopes that, magically, more frozen compressed meats will appear. “The last two months have been all about loss,” he says. Then he adds, “I fear I may have catalepsy.”

It is now late afternoon and the sky has turned a slate-hued grey, reflecting the mood inside the spartan motel room. There are still no orders for cat-related crafts and the computer has become an electrical beacon of hopelessness. “The sky over Ludz was similar to this,” Oleg ruminates. “If I had the power, I would crush Ludz and its people,” he says, dramatically. He suddenly collapses into the yellow and brown curtains, snapping the rod straight out of the wall. An errant screw shatters the blinking computer screen. The lights in the room all go out for some reason.

I transfer Oleg’s quaking body to the bed. Strangely, no further light seems to be transmitted through the curtainless window; indeed, it appears to be growing darker by the second. I stare down at the former executive’s aging face and see now that he has vomited. I turn his limp body over and the vomit seeps into the carpet.

I momentarily leave the room and purchase a bucket of chicken and a 48-piece biscuit. When I return, Oleg is standing over the useless computer. He has removed his vomit-stained shirt.

“All of my shirts are now stained with vomit,” he says. “I was waiting for a sale so that I could do laundry,” he explains. “But, I see that you have purchased chicken and biscuits.”

He produces a quart of cheap vodka and I realize now that he intends to take part in the repast, whereas I had intended to eat the meal all on my own. I reluctantly allow him two breasts and two biscuits. He breaks down in tears and then becomes suddenly loquacious. A certain vigor has returned to his cheeks.

“In the Depths, we say that no amount of misfortune can negate a bucket of chicken.” He tears into the flesh. I eat my portion of the bucket voraciously, so that there be no excuse to share any further. Still, Oleg poaches several more biscuits. “In the Depths, we say that the biscuit helps to temper the vodka.” Somehow, I suspect he is lying, that he is making up these proverbs to gain more of my dinner.

The sun has now gone down over the hills.

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