home Oleg Davidenko Sample
A former Russian oligarch who is now a primary member of a Wall Street bank.
On Wall Street, Oleg Davidenko rides up in the swift automatic express elevator, which lands smoothly with an efficient hiss at the 25th floor of the TrustBank-Manhattan building, a landmark edifice from the early 20th century. He is greeted by an armed security guard who is seated before several monitors and presiding over a quiet, windowless space, the walls of which display six or seven past presidents of this financial institution; all of whom, Oleg is certain, were as traditional as the bank's architecture, but considerably more savvy in their investment strategies than the current gentleman in charge, Ben Tucker; a man to whom Oleg in conversation with Nadia, his mistress, has referred to in the American vernacular as "an A-hole" for lacking the balls to manage the risk in the mortgage fiasco. It's risk and credit spreads, and risk is the money. Oleg admires the lack of regulation, but not the idiots who succumb to its dangers.
His late mistress, he reminds himself regretfully. As of this morning he is almost certain, though it has not yet been verified by a supposedly reliable man he has never met, purposefully: sometimes ignorance being safest for all concerned. One can't talk about what one doesn't know. Not a happy thought, beautiful Nadia's death, but he and another will most assuredly be relieved when it is confirmed; the other being the poor girl's victimizer, Chris Barrett.
But regarding the dead bank presidents, Oleg doesn't for a moment doubt that their greed would be equal to Tucker's. Aside from new money and old money, the affluent today, he knows, are the same, being very different from the great unwashed but not from each other.
Oleg is a Russian citizen who is at ease in several languages including, if slightly accented, a moderate acquisition of colloquial American English; though some of the local sayings do puzzle him.
Not quite an émigré, he is living in America not so much for political reasons nor even for day-to-day personal safety, though he has had a few political enemies as well, one of whom blew up Oleg's parked and empty car, some years earlier; which was merely a warning. A problem Oleg finessed by financial stroking, adhering to Machiavelli's admonishment, to keep one's enemies close. This was after Boris Yeltsin's takeover, when "the Soviet went poof," Oleg is fond of saying; when the often violent scramble for big money began.
Today, he expects to expand his welcome beyond this bank's borders. His confidence is based on his knowledge that word of his credibility has been leaked to a variety of people who count. And his credibility is due to the fact that he appears to be a man of unlimited means, which is not too distant from the truth since he has invested 100 million dollars of his own money into each of his two successful hedge funds, and has placed a few other millions here and there, philanthropically, including a couple of universities, as well as contributions to political campaign slush funds.
More important to Ben Tucker, though, and members of his board, Oleg has supplied 500 million toward the rehab of TrustBank-Manhattan, which is faltering but not fatally so, with the promise of millions more as Tucker increases a supply of potential fund investors. Banking solutions are not mysterious; only to the stupid are they so.
Oleg knows that whatever part of existence is unexplained, is merely so because it is unexplained, not because it is beyond nature. He is convinced the very structure of his genes are secular, resistant to the strains of the divine, to magic; yet he is the first to agree that money has magnetic properties which invariably cause it to attract other money; a phenomenon to be fully explained with a yet to be devised equation, the math of which would take into account the two forces, economics and psychology, also known as theories and hunches, which are merely the zips and zaps of the computing, and very material, brain.
Oleg was drawn to America because it was a country where only four out of ten Americans believed in evolution. He was convinced that this left the majority intellectually incapable of seeing the reality of their Washington being a business town with a permanent congressional membership. That this membership was bought and sold and became millionaires from insider trading. For Oleg, America was wide-open country where hedge funders paid fees to people like Chris Barrett, lobbyists who are often privy to upcoming legislation, to supply funds like Oleg's with insider intelligence. This was the place to work his money.
He walks the length of a carpeted hallway past Tucker's office, and his own newly acquired space, past secondary offices and storage, and arrives at a slow-moving old-fashioned elevator, in need of an operator. To his surprise, today it's occupied by a man about the same age as the other, Joe Masood, who replaced the old fellow that had retired.
The new man is sitting on a stool and reading a paperback that he quickly squirrels beneath the stool before he stands. Oleg, says, "Good morning," and the young man replies, "Hi…Sir, " not unfriendly, not really curt, not anything—well perhaps a slight edge— the "Sir" an afterthought, it seems to Oleg, as if the young fellow has only recently been schooled in how to address his betters, and so he makes the concession. This not so obvious yielding to a convention amuses Oleg, who is ever the keen observer.
"Where's Joe?" he asks as the operator slides home a door and gate and the car moves up at a crawl.
Looking straight ahead the young man replies, "Don't know, really," his tone overly vague, in Oleg's opinion. "I suppose he's got the day off… I guess he does, anyway," as if possessed of a wandering mind. Then with reasonable focus: "My usual job is a porter."
"Okay, so then what's your name?" Oleg asks, a tad less friendly, but not demanding, just curious.