Vadim, the gormless-worker-turned-serial-killer of that uproarious pseudo-intellectual thriller Headcrusher by Garros-Evdokimov, finds himself in a small bit of calm in the midst of carnage.
Lagavulin. Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky. At least that had a ring to it. Sort of substantial. Kind of impressive. And the figures looked good too. Age: 16 years. Price: 26 lats and 40 centimes. Vadim was no expert on 'coloured vodka', all those flashy gourmet-style cognacs and whiskies - no true connoisseur - but he had heard that 'single malt' was supposed to be high-class. In fact what attracted him above all was the coincidence, which could surely not be devoid of mysterious significance, that the bottle of dark glass with the inconspicuous, aristocratic label and a name that sounded peculiary felicitous to a Russian ear, cost approximately the same amount as was lying in Vadim's wallet....Vadim indulged in the surrogate nature of his purchase just as soon as he had pushed through the glass door of the shop - which swished open with a vigilant valediction from its little jingle-bells - hooking a fang into the paper snugly encasing the narrow neck, ripping it off, tugging out the cork and taking a swig straight from the bottle. He spat. The high-class scotch possessed a quite distinct and familiar reek of burnt rubber. No doubt about it - burnt rubber insulation, the kind of stink you sometimes got in a tram... It was absolute, unconditional shit, but neither the producer nor the consumer were in the least bit concerned about the shitty nature of the product. In this case, as in every other, the whole deal came down to nothing more than a mutually advantageous rip-off.
He had just begun pondering on this insight when the whisky exploded under his palate like a home-made bomb produced by technically competent urban guerrillas - a dastardly device stuffed with sharp metal scrap - and the precisely directed blast wave struck upwards, bypassing the nasal cavity, imperiously sweeping aside its accumulation of unnecessary olfactory clutter, targeting the brain directly, and every sharp-pointed scraplet skewered its own specific cell of the cortex at a furious impact velocity. No, Lagavulin didn't reek of rubber and it wasn't shit. If he was really honest about it, it wasn't even booze. To call it a beverage would be wrong: far from slipping down the gullet into the stomach, the liquid ceased its physical existence right there on the tongue, from where it made its direct assault, not even on the brain, but on CONSCIOUSNESS, in an endless sequence of purely ethereal emanations: acute astringency, velvety consistency, stratified fragrance, the dark languor of oak timber insufflated with the open expanses of heather moors, the soughing breath of weathered chalk cliffs, the damp, chilly tang of sea salt. And the difference in taste between Islay Single Malt and the pitiful local vodka with the misleading name of Moskovskaya far transcended the difference between them in price.