Zlobtnov Yorovonko
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FOOLS' PARADISE

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© Gavin Sinclair 2000

    "Let's not make this a medical story, son. You're a sports reporter, aren't you?" I nodded. "Well, let's just stick to the sport. I want to tell you what the hell I've been up to this last year or so. And it's a bloody good story. This could make you, lad. Wipe the smiles off the faces of those smart-arses at the big papers" He leaned forward across the table. "Well, you might at least look grateful!"
    "Sorry. Thanks." A powerful mixture of whisky and smoke crawled on his breath.
    "What do you think I've been up to?"
    "Honestly?"
    "Of course, honestly."
    "Being a really crap manager."
    He slammed his glass down on the table. I worried that I had misplayed the situation, choosing honest straight-shooting reporter over the more reliable sycophantic worm. Then he pushed back his chair with a screech on the tiles and roared with laughter, dissolving after a few seconds into a coughing fit. When he recovered, still red in the face, he spluttered, "A really crap manager. You wee bugger!" He stubbed out his cigarette and picked up the pack of Marlboro from the table. "You're right of course. Well partly, but there's more to it than that. Now I'm goin' for a piss."
    When he was gone, I got up and strolled over to the window. The sun was setting over the scraggly hills that were strung out along the bay. I toyed with the obvious sunset metaphors and discarded them. No need for that kind of drivel with a story like this. Of course, I didn't really know what the story was yet. I fingered a copper saucepan that hung from a wooden beam. It didn't look like it had ever been used for cooking. The beam didn't look like it had ever been used to hold up a roof either. The toilet flushed and McKean returned, lighting a cigarette. He came over to where I stood, shaking his head and chuckling, "Crap manager!" Together we looked out the window. After a moment, he said, "You could always use some sort of sunset metaphor."
    "Hmm, yes."
    He poured some Bells into a glass and handed it to me. I took it.
    "Good lad." He held up his glass. "Well, Slainte. Good health, if you'll pardon the bloody irony." He dragged on his cigarette as we continued to stare out the window at the fading day. "What do you know about Zlobtnov Yorovonko, Jimmy?"
    "Zlobtnov Yorovonko? Well, he's brilliant. Best striker in Europe, maybe the world."
    "Aye, what else?"
    I sipped my whisky, as I thought.
    "Well he was certainly your best signing for Rangers. Actually, he was your only half-way decent signing."
    "I know, but what else?"
    "Gosh, I don't know. He comes from Kazakhstan. The fans call him Stan." He looked at me expectantly through a veil of smoke. "Everybody was amazed when you signed him. Nobody had heard of him. An amateur playing in the Kazakh Second Division. I think they only have two divisions."

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