Editor’s Note: This is not a short story, but it is a good one. Particularly for those of you who have been enjoying Mr. Bond’s prior work. Enjoy.
As a spy for KGB operating in Moscow, Viktor Abakumov had long had a desire to leave his birth city and serve his country abroad. He had the privilege of being educated at Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO University) and had graduated foremost amongst his comrades in 1967 at the age of 21. Viktor had been recruited to KGB immediately after that, and now, two years later, he was closer than ever to being stationed in a foreign country. His comrade from MGIMO and fellow spook, Vladimir, had just finished interrogating an American agent caught trying to smuggle state secrets out of the Soviet Union. Watching him through a two-way mirror, the men discussed the matter.
“Do you think this American knows what he is in for?” asked Vladimir.
“If he did, he would have would have taken his pill.” said Viktor.
“Imagine, trying to impersonate Comrade President Brezhnev. Haha. This American insults mother Russia! There is no doubt in my mind someone in KGB was helping him, and when we find out whom that one will suffer the stiffest penalty.” said Vladimir.
“Vladimir, I think my request to be stationed in London will be granted soon. To be honest, this interrogating business is a bore. I need to do something greater.” said Viktor and then changing the subject he asked, “Where were you last evening by the way, hmm? The others and I kept a chair for you at Georgi’s, but you never showed up. Do you not like us anymore, comrade?”
Vladimir smiled slyly and said “I still like you, comrade.” And then looking at his watch, which is a Poljot Sturmanskie pilot’s chronograph, the same as the watch worn by Yuri Gagarin in 1961, he said “Lunch time. Let “Comrade President Brezhnez” have some time to come to his senses. To Georgi’s, shall we?”
And with that the two spies left the secret prison hidden somewhere under Moscow and caught a taxi to Georgi’s bar. Youri Dolgoruki Vodka is a must with all meals at Georgi’s and that day the spies chose Sorrel soup and lamb Shashlik for their lunch courses. There was little discussion during the meal. Afterwards Vladimir took out a cigar and proceeded to light it up. But before he got the chance the proprietor and some of the elderly patrons protested him smoking inside and so, Vladimir gave in by putting his cigar away and blowing out the match.
“These worthless people do not appreciate a good cigar.” complained Vladimir.
“Comrade, you should quit this bad habit of yours. Those things smell terrible. And besides, it can kill you.” said Viktor.
“Nyet, Viktor. It is more accurate to say, I, can kill cigars! Haha.” said Vladimir jokingly. “By the way, I will be busy tonight, so do not wait for me. I will find you later.”
After lunch Viktor and Vladimir returned to the secret prison and continued the interrogation of the American spy for the duration of the afternoon.
Later that evening while at the prison, Vladimir looked at his Poljot chronograph; the time read 6:32pm. The interrogation of the American spy was going nowhere and more drastic action needed to be taken to extract the name of the mole inside KGB. He told the men in the room he was leaving and will return tomorrow.
“Vlad, where are you going? Poyushchiye Gitary is singing tonight and we were supposed to leave from here. Are you still going?” asked Viktor.
“I will meet you at the concert around 8:45. Have vodka waiting for me, hmm.” said Vladimir.
“Then see you at eight-forty five, comrade.” said Viktor.
After Vladimir left the room, Viktor’s mind began to work like a spy. Suspicion of fellow spies was not uncommon within KGB because it was believed for the greater good that the watchers also be watched. Behavior out of the ordinary or being too private was considered reasons for suspicion within the organization. Vladimir was the one who invited Viktor to go with him to the concert. ‘What is so important that you must leave before me, my friend?’ thought Viktor. He decided his suspicion was unwarranted and redirected his attention back to the prisoner. After all, Vladimir was one of the most trusted KGB agents. Why would he do something that could upset his career or country?
It was eight-seventeen and the Poyushchiye Gitary concert was starting in thirteen minutes. Viktor finished his glass of vodka and poured another. He looked up and caught Vladimir walking towards him looking sweaty and tired.
“Comrade, you are early! What, what happened to you? You look like a drunk.” said Viktor with a hint of amusement in his voice.
“Viktor, I am not feeling good. I was on my way home and wanted to tell you I would not be joining you for the concert.” said Vladimir.
“What? You invited me.” protested Viktor.
“Believe me my friend, I hate that I am going to miss it, but I, I just cannot stay.” Vladimir tried to explain. He could see Viktor was feeling let down, so he said “Here, take my watch.” and taking off his Poljot wristwatch he handed it to Viktor and said “You know I never take this off my wrist. Wear it. It will be like I am here with you. Just do not lose it.”
Viktor had admired the Poljot Sturmanskie pilot’s chronograph and wanted the same one, but he could not afford one at this time, so he was more than glad to wear it. Vladimir left just as the concert began.
At the end of the concert when Viktor was exiting the hall he saw a group of men waiting by the doors; two of whom he recognized from the secret police. He figured something was going on that demanded his attention, so he made his way to them.
“Igor, Sergey, what has happened?” said Viktor. Without answering the question Sergey reached out and grabbed his left hand and pulled up the sleeve. He looked at the watch and then ordered “Get in the car, Viktor, and do not make a fuss.”
“Is this a joke, Sergey? Must I remind you who I work for?” Viktor said indignantly.
“We have our orders, Viktor. And you have yours.” said Sergey.
“Get in the car, Viktor, now.” ordered Igor.
Viktor obeyed the command and got into the car without more fuss. ‘What the hell is going on?!’ he thought, ‘Whatever it is, it must be a mistake. I am innocent of any crime.’ Memories of things that have happened for as far back as he can remember raced through his brain; looking for any aspect in his memories that might give him a clue about the reason for his treatment. He could think of nothing worthy of his arrest. The car drove up to the building that housed the entrance to the secret prison. His mind began to run away on him and all sorts of thoughts began to overwhelm him. Sergey and Igor, together with seven other members of the secret police, got out of the cars and escorted him through the building and eventually under the city to the secret prison. They led him to a room where his superior and two prison guards were waiting…and to his surprise Vladimir.
He saluted the Colonel and said “Comrade Colonel. I don’t know what this is about. But I assure you I am one-hundred percent loyal to Mother Rus-.” The Colonel raised his hand to Viktor in a gesture to stop talking.
“Viktor…Viktor, Viktor, Viktor. Your work under my authority has been some of the best I have seen since the formation of KGB. You are dedicated to your tasks and do not stop until the mission is complete. Had you been around in the days of SMERSH, Beria would have stolen you from us. But as evil as Beria was, even he would not have tolerated the disgust that’s been brought before me.” said the Colonel.
“Comrade Colonel, please tell me what have I done?” pleaded Viktor.
“Please stop this, Viktor!” yelled the Colonel. “There was an incident earlier this evening involving the daughter of a high cabinet official. She was violated. She did not see the face of her attacker, but…she did see two things: this KGB pin, and a watch. Lift up your sleeve, Viktor.”
Viktor lifted his sleeve to reveal the watch on his wrist and said “Comrade, this watch belongs-“
“To a disgusting man!” said the angry Colonel. He opened an envelope on the table and continued “This is a report from MVD. She described the watch to MVD and they say it matches the description of a Poljot Sturmanskie chronograph, your watch! The pin must have come off while she struggled with you.”
“Comrade, I have not worn my pin since the day before last. I misplaced it and had not found it yet. This watch,” said Viktor as he removed it from his wrist, “is not mine; it belongs to Vladimir. Ask him, this is his watch!”
Turning to Vladimir the Colonel asked “Vladimir is this true? Is that your watch?”
“No, Comrade Colonel. This is my watch.” said Vladimir while rolling up his sleeve and removing it from his wrist. “It is a Poljot Strela, which I have worn since 1965.” Addressing Viktor he said “My friend, I am ashamed of you.”
Feeling indignant at this pretense, Viktor protested. “He is lying, Comrade Colonel! He gave me this watch!”
“Enough Viktor! MVD presented this to Chairman Andropov and he has ordered your immediate imprisonment. You will have forty years to think about your disgusting act. Guards! Make certain he arrives safely in Siberia.” said the Colonel.
“No Comrade Colonel! It was not me! I have been set up!” Viktor pleaded. Looking hard at Vladimir, he said “Vladimir! You set me up! Tell them, PLEASE!”
Vladimir walked over to Viktor and said “I still like you, comrade. And you will be permitted to keep the watch. See you in forty years.”
Being the most elite of the elite agents in One World Intelligence meant Jon Bard, Agent 750, was often the primary choice for missions of a delicate nature. He had succeeded in nine out of nine missions over his fourteen years as a spy. His handler, who was known only as “Gideon”, even to Bard, was a master in espionage and had been among the first to work for O.W.I. After completing his training, Bard was selected to join a newly formed department in O.W.I. called Special Services and he was given the agent number 750; an agent number system exclusive to that department. There were only nine agents in S.S. and they were selected for the most difficult and most dangerous missions. The organization was unique because it held no allegiance to any one country, just to mankind. Its mission was simply to maintain the balance of power among nations.
Right now, 750 was in the back of a taxi heading to Harvard University Commencement Day. Traffic was at a stand-still along Massachusetts Avenue approaching Johnston Gate at Harvard University. He was only about seven-hundred yards from the gate, so he paid the driver and decided it would be quicker to walk. He took out his Commencement Day pass which was forged by E Department who also uploaded his information to the attendee registry. Hyneman also provided him Smart Light Spectrum Technology glasses or SLST, and a large black umbrella telling him “You can never depend on New England weather.”
His mission was simple. Russia’s President Pudovkin was the Day Speaker at the Commencement and an assassin code named “The Indian” had been hired to kill him. 750 was ordered to prevent the assassination and eliminate the shooter. The political complications of the assassination, if successful, would ruin both countries cooperation with each other on many fronts. However, he was having difficulty connecting the dots between a motive for assassinating the president and who might be responsible.
Ever since the Boston Marathon Day Bombing security at events like these were heightened like never before. To the untrained eye it appeared there was no way a plot like this would succeed. But Jon Bard knew there was always a loose thread. The bad guy might or might not see it this time. But all he had to do was find it and he was in business. For the past several weeks, 750 had studied the campus grounds and memorized all possible exits and routes to major traffic arteries that would assist in the shooter’s escape. The Red Line to the underground subway system was next to Johnson Gate which means there is a high probability it might be used to escape with a crowd. But then there are police at every exit that would seal the grounds should any trouble arise, letting no one out. The biggest problem is that where the president’s speech is to be delivered is surrounded by dorms. Any one of the dorm windows could make an excellent vantage point from where the shot could be taken.
“May I see your pass, sir?” asked a receptionist at Johnston Gate and after providing it, “Mr. Benjamin Keith, here is your program. Please enjoy your stay.”
“Thank you.” responded Bard, acknowledging his alias.
Bard looked in the program for the time President Pudovkin was to begin his speech. He looked at his Girard-Perregaux Deep Diver watch, which he also thought of as “his most trusted friend” because it had been on his wrist for nearly every mission since starting at O.W.I. The time read 9:59am and the speech was scheduled to begin at 10:30am. He decided to perform a reconnaissance near the dormitory windows hoping he might find a clue about where The Indian was set up.
Meanwhile, President Pudovkin was in an office inside University Hall where he was making small changes to his speech. The President had written his speech without assistance from a speech writer and was quite pleased by the way it sounded. Dmitry, the president’s aid, was speaking to an SVR (Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service) agent in the next room when an escort from the University interrupted him.
“Excuse me, sir. It is time for President Pudovkin’s speech.” said the escort.
“Very well. The President will be out in one minute.” said Dmitry. After the escort left the room Dmitry informed the President that it was time to deliver his speech and then returned to his conversation with, Kristina Momchilova from SVR.
“Ms. Momchilova, with respect to you and SVR, it is a bit late to cancel the President’s speech. If you had come to us sooner perhaps other arrangements could have been made.” said Dmitry.
“Sir, we only uncovered a hint of this plot twenty-two hours ago. It has literally taken all of this time to confirm the threat is genuine and the source credible. Please, just delay the speech so we can have more time to investigate.” said Kristina.
“That is out of the question. The President’s security team has been positioned around the stage and they will scan every inch of the area and crowd for anything or anyone suspicious. Now, you are welcome to do what you can to assist, but the speech will proceed. Excuse me.” said Dmitry.
Kristina Momchilova has worked for SVR for eighteen months and she had already made some enemies, particularly in Chechnya. She is 5 feet 10 inch tall, 27 years old, and has dark, dark hair that hangs down a little past her shoulders. She was thin, but in terrific shape, and quite attractive. Dmitry’s stubbornness exasperated Kristina and she knew she could not change his mind. She would just have to sharpen her senses and hope to see the assassin before he shoots.
Dmitry politely reminded President Pudovkin that it was time to begin his speech and the three of them left the office with the President’s security team. Dmitry did not mention anything to the President about what he and Kristina discussed. But she was not about to give up so quickly. Although, she did not formally know President Pudovkin, he was aware of her successes within SVR and had congratulated her personally once on stopping a terrorist attack at a bus station in Moscow. Before the President, Dmitry, and the security team exited the building Kristina moved ahead of everyone to the door and opened it slowly to look for any signs of something suspicious.
President Pudovkin noticed Kristina and asked “Dmitry, what is she doing? Who is she?”
“She is Kristina Momchilova from SVR, Comrade President. I did not want to alarm you, but SVR thinks they have confirmed a threat on your life and sent Ms. Momchilova to ask you to delay your speech. I told her, Comrade President that is out of the question, but she is determined in her duty.” said Dmitry.
“As long as she does not get in the way, let her be.” ordered President Pudovkin.
“Yes, Comrade President.” acknowledged Dmitry.
Kristina did not see anything out of place while she scanned the immediate area. She opened the door all the way for their exit, but remained on alert. As they approached the stage, which was facing Sever Hall, they paused to wait for the introduction for the President and then once it was heard, to the sound of applause and camera flashes, President Pudovkin took to the stage and began his speech.
In a room on the third floor of Robinson Hall, located slightly behind Sever Hall off to the right, lay the body of a student on the floor with a stab womb to her abdomen. The man in the room with the body was assembling a rifle and once it was done he brought the chair at the desk over to the window and opened it six inches. His target was five-hundred thirty yards away and he corrected the range on the scope to reflect the distance and then he poked the end of the barrel out the window and focused on his target. The day was perfect for the man who calls himself The Indian because there was no breeze and the sunlight was shining from behind his position.
750 was, in the meantime, continuing his discreet observance of the grounds and buildings around President Pudovkin. He put on his SLST glasses he had in his pocket and cycled from standard vision to thermal. Now, anything that did not produce a heat signature made up different shades of blue and black. Bard concluded the shot would come from a building rather than the audience because no one appeared to fit the profile of an assassin among the crowd so he began to concentrate on the buildings.
About twenty seconds later 750 noticed a faint heat signature directly behind an open window in Robinson Hall, so he zoomed in ten times and cycled back to standard vision to get a clearer look. As he feared, there was a gun barrel pointing outside the window. Without a second to lose, 750 grabbed his umbrella leaning against a recycle bin next to him and ran towards the stage. While he was making his way to the President he undid the strap holding the umbrella closed and placed his finger over the button, ready to open it.
Kristina noticed the commotion on the other side of the audience and spotted 750 running to the stage. Thinking he was the assassin she drew her weapon and told the security team leader to direct his attention to the left side of the stage. As Bard forced his way up to the stage, Kristina was making her way up the other side with two guards in pursuit.
Six feet before reaching President Pudovkin, The Spy pressed the button on his umbrella. “WHOOSH!” it sounded as it fully opened and just in time to conceal the President before a “POW!” was heard! The impact of the bullet was felt against the umbrella. At seeing what had just happened, the audience began to run away in pandemonium. Realizing the man with the interesting umbrella had just saved the life of the President, Kristina ordered the security team to get the President out of there and provide cover. “POW!” A second shot was fired, but it missed the President and instead hit Dmitry’s left shoulder knocking him to the ground.
“Take the umbrella! Keep him behind it while you move!” yelled Bard to the security team.
“Da!” replied the team leader. Bard turned to find the shooter, and in the process evade the police. But before he could leave Kristina grabbed his arm.
“Who are you?!” she demanded.
“OO7.” replied Bard simply before running away toward Robinson Hall.
While on the move, Bard activated the thermal vision on his SLST glasses still covering his eyes. The shooter was not at the window, but might still be in the building making his way to an exit. Approaching the door on the side of the building, 750 drew his Zytel weapon and opened the door to find a man about one hundred feet down the hallway. The man stopped and ran in the opposite direction. Taking a gamble Bard waited a split second and then ran around the outside of the building to the opposite end where the man was to exit. Just as he was about to turn the corner the door burst open and the man dashed off making his way through the Yard’s Quincy Street entrance.
In Deadly Pursuit
Jon Bard was not far behind the assassin. After running out of the Yard, Bard saw The Indian yank a man off his Ducati 1199 motorbike and speed down Quincy Street. While the bikers ran up the street after The Indian, Bard hopped on another bike, a Bimota DB8, and began his pursuit. The chase led Bard from Quincy Street eventually to Massachusetts Avenue, heading toward the city of Boston. Neither Bard nor the assassin was wearing helmets which made the chase suicide because of the speeds they were averaging and traffic around them. Throughout the pursuit The Indian shot at Bard when he had the opportunity and Bard would swerve to avoid getting hit. Stray rounds hit pedestrians and bicyclists and from Bard’s split-second glimpse he could see the bloody mess this assassin was leaving behind which only made Bard more determined to get him.
The two men were now approaching MIT’s campus and about a quarter-mile ahead Bard saw five police cars and eleven officers setting up a road block and taking cover behind their vehicles. ‘Oh no.’ he thought. Obviously, The Indian saw the police and no doubt he was thinking about how to get away even though it looked hopeless trying to do so. “Stop the bike or you will be fired upon!” warned the policemen. Again the police repeated the warning, “Stop the bike or you will be fired upon!” Time was running out and The Indian opened fire on the cops. “Chachachachachachachacha!!” was the sound his submachine gun made. The police ducked behind their cars as rounds whizzed around them and hit their cars. While they were under cover The Indian swerved onto the side walk and around the road block. Seeing that the police remained under cover, 750 decided to make up ground. He accelerated riding up the ramp of a flatbed trailer and flying over the police cars and back on the tail of The Indian. Bard was now only three yards behind so he took out his weapon and fired one shot at the back tire of the Ducati. “POP!” The bike sped out of control and hit a mailbox sending the assassin flying through the air before hitting the ground hard and rolling along the street.
Bard’s Bimota was going so fast, he actually past The Indian during the crash and had to turn back after slowing to get to his lifeless body where it lay. Surprisingly, The Indian was still breathing and conscious, but weakened.
“Who are you working for? Who paid you?!” asked Bard.
Exhausted and out of breath, the man responded “Who are you?”
“Tell me what I want to know.” said Bard ignoring the question. He looked up and saw the police closing in from down the street and a helicopter approaching. Time was running out and the man was not talking.
“Alright, have it your way.” said Bard. He searched the man’s clothing and found a wad of cash, a passport with a plane ticket inside, and an iPhone. He took everything and got on his bike. He accelerated so hard the back tire burned rubber into the street when he rode away.
He knew he was going to have to get out of town and fast because a dragnet was going to be over the entire city in less than an hour. The police helicopter was following him over head and sirens were blaring all around. He managed to get to a garage a distance from the crash and left the bike there. Before leaving the garage he took off his suit jacket and turned it inside out, effectively transforming it from black to a light grey pinstripe. His pants had a thin layer that was easily removed, which he stuffed in to a recycle bin, and while on the move he reversed his black tie to the red on the inside. Forgetting the SLST glasses were still on his face, he removed them and reached the ground exit by a corner stairwell just as the police were arriving. Through a nearby alley he caught a taxi on the other side.
“Where to, buddy?” said the taxi driver.
“Logan. How long will it take to get there?” asked Bard
“Oh boy, probably about thirty to thirty five minutes. There was a shooting at Harvard University earlier, so the cops have blocked off a lot of roads and rerouted traffic.” said the driver.
“I see. Well, I will get there when I get there I guess.”
“Yup. Cops are turning Cambridge inside out.” said the driver.
“My outfit did the same thing recently.” said Bard in his usual manner of subdued humor.
While the taxi was gradually making way to Logan Airport, Kristina was talking to the Director of SVR HQ in Moscow, Mikhail Golubov, on a satellite phone.
“Kristina, bring me up to speed.” ordered Mikhail.
“Sir, a few moments ago an attempt was made on President Pudovkin’s life. The President is safe and unharmed. He is right now en route to the airport and American security has sealed off Harvard University.” said Kristina.
“Good. Where are you?” asked Mikhail.
“I am driving to the scene of a motorcycle crash.” said Kristina.
“What are you talking about?” asked Mikhail.
“Sir, the assassin escaped before the police finished sealing the school and the police radio reported he crashed his motorcycle. There is another thing I must mention: the President’s life was saved by a man who was not part of the security team.” said Kristina.
“An American agent? Is he alive or dead?” asked Mikhail.
“The man had a large bullet-proof umbrella that he used to shield the President. I do not know if he is American; I did not really get a chance to question him because he ran after the assassin.” said Kristina.
“Interesting. Contact me immediately after you learn more about the assassin. I want OUR own report from him, not FBI’s.” ordered Mikhail.
“Yes sir.” said Kristina.
Kristina reached the scene of the accident moments later and got out of her car. The semi-conscious shooter was being loaded into an ambulance while the paramedic’s worked to keep him stable because his condition had deteriorated since the crash. Kristina spotted her contact at FBI, Special Agent Milder; he was talking to one of the paramedics about the condition of the shooter.
“How are you Milder?” asked Kristina.
“Kristina Momchilova. I wondered if you would be in town. I have my hands full. How about you?” asked Milder.
“I need to speak to your prisoner. He knows who wanted to kill my President. You must let me talk to him, please.” said Kristina.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa. I cannot do that without getting authorization and your people need to submit a formal request to Washington.” said Milder.
“Milder, just give me three minutes with him. Three minutes is all I ask.” begged Kristina. She could see Milder was breaking. “Come on, Milder. Please…”
“You have three minutes. But it will have to be on the way to the hospital and I have to be present. Get in the ambulance.” said Milder.
“Thank you, Milder. I owe you one.”
The two agents got into the ambulance and it pulled away to Mass General Hospital. Three minutes did not afford Kristina enough time to get answers from a semi-conscious man about who employed him, so she was going to have to work fast. Before she began, Milder confiscated her gun and reminded her about the three minutes. Kristina acknowledged it and then looked at the assassin and began her questioning.
“Who are you?” she asked.
He turned his head to look at Kristina. “Piss off.” he said.
The response angered Kristina, but she could not physically persuade him so she asked again. “Who are you? Who paid you?” she demanded.
“You and your other man can die as far as I care.” he said.
“Who is your other man?” asked Milder.
“Later.” said Kristina. Frustrated, she could think of only one other question.
“How is your family in India? Do they still live one-hundred eighty-three feet from Meena Bazaar in Chandigarh?”
By the expression on his face, Kristina could tell she now had his attention. “You would not hurt my family. Russia and the United States would be severely criticized for an action like that. Détente between you and your allied countries would dissolve rapidly.” said The Indian.
“As far as everyone knows, you do not exist except in rumors. There never has been physical evidence of you; just words from men so scared to death they will say anything to calm their fears. In the end, whether the camera’s outside captured your face or inquiries are made about who that man is, you do not exist. It is kind of ironic in a way. You worked so hard to clean the slate of any link to your existence, and now that slate is going to kill you…unless you tell me what I want to know.” said Kristina.
The expression of defiance dwindled and now The Indian talked. “I was hired by a Russian to kill the President. I do not know his name because that is how I operate. As long as I have the payment, names are not important, just details. I have met him only once.”
“Where do I find this Russian?” asked Kristina.
“Possibly still in Moscow. He said I could contact him at a restaurant called Georgi’s just outside of Red Square until the job was done.” said The Indian.
The Older Man
Jon Bard’s plane touched down in Domodedovo International Airport in Moscow twelve hours later. He looked at his Girard-Perregaux Deep Diver and set it for Moscow time, which was 10:29pm, and then hopped in a taxi. During his flights and layovers he thoroughly searched The Indian’s iPhone for anything relevant to the assassination. There was nothing except a Moscow telephone number in which it was assigned no name and an SMS that read “Moscow Railway. Locker 43. Code 9691”. Bard decided to call the telephone number and after three rings a man answered “Georgi’s, can I help you?” Bard ended the call and asked the taxi driver if he knew where Georgi’s is located, to which the drive told him near Red Square.
The taxi stopped in front of Georgi’s and Bard got out. Georgi’s looked questionable by Bard’s standards and inside was no exception. Bard sat at the bar and ordered a double of his favorite vodka, Russian Standard. Half of the patrons were older retired men who had, by the looks of them, had a hard life. Their skin was wrinkled more than usually seen on people at their age and the same expression was on all faces; the expression of a depressed resentful soul that had been used without a care and then discarded the way a restaurant discards uneaten food on a plate. ‘If these walls could talk.’ thought Bard.
The bartender gave Bard his vodka and asked “You vis’ting? Haven’t seen you before.”
“Yes, I am in town for a few days. It is funny how I ended up here, though. I just flew in less than an hour ago and found a cell phone; someone probably lost it. Anyway, I looked through it hoping I might find the owners information and came across this number.” said Bard. He had very little to go on, so he would have to embellish the truth if he was going to make any head way.
“Can I see phone?” asked the bartender.
“Of course, perhaps you know the owner. Here it is.” said Bard showing the phone to the bartender.
The bartender’s pupil dilated when he saw the phone, so there was no doubt he recognized the multi-color elephant on the iPhone’s case. ‘Time to reel him in.’ thought Bard.
“Dis phone belongs to customer I know. He doesn’t come here much anymore; jus’ a couple times a month.” said the bartender cautiously.
“Would you know where I can find him? I would like to return it personally.” said Bard with a smile.
“Uuuh…I call him. He is private man. You wait here, OK?” said the bartender. He walked to the other end of the bar where the telephone is and turned away when he started to speak to whoever was on the other end of the call. When the call was finished he came back to Bard and picked up his drink and then told him to follow him to the office.
“Make yourself comfortable. The man who belongs to the phone is coming to you.” said the bartender.
“Thank you.” said Bard.
“Sure, sure.” replied the bartender and then left the room.
It was now approaching midnight and Kristina Momchilova was just picked up by Mikhail Golubov at the Moscow airport. During the car ride to SVR headquarters, Mikhail briefed Kristina on the internal investigation being jointly conducted by SVR and FSB.
“By the way, what did the assassin tell you?” asked Mikhail.
“Ah yes. He told me he was hired by a Russian whose name he did not know, but met him once at a place called Georgi’s. Do you know it?” she asked.
“Georgi’s, Georgi’s, Georgi’s……Yes, I remember it now. My opposite in FSB once remarked about how it used to be one of the best places to get a meal many, many years ago. But it has since gone down and now only long time patrons keep it in business.” said Mikhail. “Marko, drive to Georgi’s. It is just outside Red Square. Put it on your GPS.” Looking back to Kristina he said “Here is a gun, Kristina, just in case.”
The black Mercedes-Benz soon stopped in front of Georgi’s and Mikhail telephoned his FSB counterpart to request three officers meet them before entering the establishment. While they waited patrons came and went. Kristina was getting anxious because anyone of these people could have a connection to the plot.
In the office, 750 was still sitting at the desk when the door opened swiftly and four men appeared. One man stood at the door just outside the room and the other two entered before the third man. Both men were dressed in plain grey suits and white shirts. The man behind them was older and dressed in a double-breasted navy blue suit with a light blue shirt and maroon tie. He wore a black fedora and trench coat with the collar raised. The two men stepped aside and stood by the door. The older man walked to the other side of the room and sat at the desk facing 750. He stared at Bard for a moment and then spoke.
“I was told you have property that is mine. Where is it?” asked The Older Man.
“Your property? I was under the assumption it belonged to a man from India.” responded Bard.
The Older Man stared once again at Bard and then answered, “Who are you?”
“The monkey wrench.” said Bard.
This time The Older Man’s eyes squinted. “You, my friend, have just entered a world of hurt.” As soon as he glanced at his men they grabbed Bard and held him so he could not struggle.
“Hold him tightly!” ordered The Older Man while he began to search Bard. He found nothing.
“Where is the phone?!” yelled The Older Man. In spite of his advanced age, his voice was still powerful.
“That phone contains information that ties The Indian to whoever contracted him; I assume it to be you. No deal.” said Bard.
“OK, Mr. Monkey Wrench. Since I have little time to finish what was unaccomplished in USA, let’s have a game. When was the last time you played Russian roulette?” asked The Older Man. He opened his jacket and pulled out a Smith & Wesson revolver. He emptied its seven rounds and loaded one bullet into the chamber and spun it. Bard never answered his question.
“The game is simple. I hold the gun to your head and pull the trigger each time you refuse to tell me what I want to know. Let’s begin.” said The Older Man.
He now put the barrel to the side of Bard’s head and said “Where is the phone?” Bard stayed silent.
Again The Older Man asked “Where is the phone?” And again Bard said nothing.
“CLICK.” Bard’s nerves were being tested to the fullest extent.
“Where is the phone?” The Older Man asked yet again.
At the same time Bard’s nerves were being tortured in Russian roulette, outside Georgi’s the three FSB officers finally arrived. Kristina got out of the car and cocked her gun and started to tell the officers what was going on.
“Here is the situation, the-“ Kristina started before being stopped by Mikhail.
“I will brief these men, Kristina, thank you very much.” said Mikhail. “We are going inside Georgi’s. There is a strong possibility Georgi’s is somehow connected to the assassination plot against the President. Ms. Momchilova and I will go inside and then you three will follow twenty seconds after. Understood?” said Mikhail.
When the FSB officers acknowledged, Mikhail and Kristina proceeded to go into Georgi’s. Upon entering everyone stopped talking and looked at the two of them. After a moment the chatter continued and Mikhail asked the bartender if the owner was available to talk. The bartender said he was the owner and was then asked if any strangers had been in recently. Very casually the bartender moved his hand under the bar and pressed a button that lit up a light in the office where Bard was. Kristina noticed the movment.
“I am impressed you have survived four rounds. This might be your last chance to tell me what I want to know. Now, where is the phone?” said The Older Man.
“Were you talking to me?” said Bard jokingly to help calm his nerves.
“CLICK”. This time the click made Bard shudder and he knew he had a 50/50 chance of surviving one last time.
The Older Man grinned and said “You are breaking, aren’t you? No question this time; only five seconds to make up your mind. Five, four, three, two-“
“POWSH!” At that precise moment, before The Older Man could count ‘one’, the door burst open and the FSB officers stormed the room. The Older Man fired his revolver at one of the officers, “POW!” The officer was hit in head and died instantly. Jon Bard had just escaped the deadly game!
A Dish Best Served Cold
While the two men fought the FSB officers, The Older Man ran out the door behind the desk and down an alley to a black Volkswagen. Jon Bard jumped over the desk and ran out the door after The Older Man, but failed to catch up before the Volkswagen drove away. By now, Kristina had ran out the front entrance of Georgi’s and got in the FSB officers car. She stepped down hard on the accelerator pedal and drove to the alley exit. When she reached it, the Volkswagen was just exiting and rammed her car, damaging the front driver’s side door and wheel. The impact was so violent that it crippled Kristina’s vehicle. She got out and watched the Volkswagen disappear down the road. Bard finally caught up and noticed she was bleeding from her head. He asked if she was OK.
“A cut on my head is not an injury. What are you doing here?” she said.
In spite of her small wound she still looked desirable. “Funny you should mention that, I was thinking about you on my flight over here. Anyway, I am so glad to see you again.” said Bard flirtingly.
“Nevermind that. Who are you? CIA?” ask Kristina.
“No. But I know you are SVR, not FSB.” said Bard.
“FSB and my people are collaborating on this mission.” said Kristina.
“Oh I see. Well, perhaps we should collaborate, just you and I.” said Bard.
“Why should I trust you? I know nothing about you.” said Kristina.
“I saved President Pudovkin’s life. That should count for something.” said Bard.
Kristina thought for a moment while looking at Bard. “OK. Let’s talk.”
Bard was glad upon hearing those words. “Splendid. The assassin had a cell phone I took from him after the chase and a plane ticket to Russia, which is how I came to be here.”
“Was there anything important in the phone? Where is the phone?” Kristina asked.
“The phone had an SMS message that read ‘Moscow Railway. Locker 43. Code 9691’. And the telephone number to Georgi’s was the only Moscow number in the phone. It is the only physical evidence that ties that man to the assassin.” said Bard.
“Where is the phone?” asked Kristina.
“Well…I slipped it into the jacket pocket a man sitting next to me at the bar.” Bard confessed.
“What?! I hope you are correct about that information.” Kristina said in an annoyed manner.
“Oh, do not worry. I have a photographic memory. But we still need to retrieve the phone. The man was wearing a brown herringbone jacket and blue slacks. I would guess he is around forty-five years old. He had been at the bar for a while judging how he was slumped over the bar.” said Bard.
Kristina and The Spy made their way back to Georgi’s and looked for the man, but were too late; he was gone. So, Kristina brought Mikhail up to speed about the SMS message and he immediately called his counterpart at FSB and requested officers be sent to check out the locker at the Moscow Railway Station. Mikhail also asked that all phone calls to Georgi’s since 10:30pm be checked and a trace performed which should result in finding the phone number and thus, the phone, getting them the physical evidence. Seconds later Mikhail’s telephone rang.
“This is Mikhail.” he said answering his phone. “What?! Where is he now? OK. Do svidaniya.”
“What is it?” asked Kristina.
“President Pudovkin arrived at his residence forty-four minutes ago. It was just attacked. The President is missing.” said Mikhail.
“Abducted?” asked Kristina.
Security forces don’t believe so. By now he’s probably being held until the terrorist decides what to do; which means we do not have much time.” said Mikhail.
“Sir, may I suggest you continue here while my friend and I go to the Presidential residence to see how we can help?” Kristina requested.
“What friend?” asked Mikhail.
“This man her-…where has he gone?” she said.
The Spy was en route the moment he heard about the attack at the Presidential residence. He needed an escape and that gave him one. He called his office and eventually got to speak to Hyneman.
“Hyneman. 750 here. I am in Moscow and need a subterranean route into the Presidential residence.”
“7-5-0, do you mean to tell me-” Hyneman started say.
“Hyneman, I do not have time! Just tell me how to get in!” said 750 angrily.
“Very well. Standby 7-5-0.” After a long pause, Hyneman came back on the line. “Right. About a quarter mile from the main gate there is an entrance to a sewer. Once underground follow the tunnel until you come to the end and then turn left and walk one hundred feet. You will see an electrical access door. Push and pull the door quickly to open it. Got all that?” said Hyneman.
“Yes. How do you know about the secret door?” asked 750.
“Seven Continent’s Consulting does actually do real consulting from time to time; you know 7-5-0.” Hyneman said before hanging up.
Jon Bard was amazed because even he did not know there was a legitimate side to the dummy corporation for O.W.I. Soon he found the sewer entrance he thought Hyneman was referring to and parked the car he absconded. He opened the hole and climbed down. Following Hyneman’s instructions, he found the electrical access door and pushed and pulled on the door quickly. It opened without a squeak and 750 proceeded through. There was a long staircase that led up to another door with a single light above the door.
While The Spy climbed the stairs, President Pudovkin was trying to hide from whoever was in the house. All of the security forces that were guarding him were killed during the attack. The president was shaken with fear by the events from the last eighteen hours. Sweat poured down his head and his hands would not stop trembling. He stopped his breathing for a moment and then took a deep breath and exhaled. He realized he needed to control his heavy breathing so it would not give him away.
Listening intensely he heard footsteps approaching the room where he was hiding.
“Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap…clap.”
The footsteps stopped at the entrance and then the door squeaked open. But because the president was crouched down behind a large couch, he could not see the feet at the entrance. For five seconds there was total absolute silence in the room with the exception of the sound of the president’s heart beating faster. And then the footsteps started again and disappeared down the hallway. Almost going insane the president cautiously got up and walked over to his desk, sat in the chair and buried his face in his palms; rubbing his eyes and clearing sweat from his face. In a whisper President Pudovkin began to speak to himself.
“Why is this happening? Why is this happening? Who could hate me this much? This is insanity!” The president always found comfort in looking at his watch during stressful situations and he decided to do it now. He pulled up his sleeve, but his watch was missing. “My watch! Where is my watch?!” he cried. At that moment a hand appeared in front of him from over his head. Someone behind him was dangling a watch from the hand.
“Here is your watch…Vladimir.” said the voice from behind him.
“Who, who are you?” asked the trembling President. The person behind him dropped the watch in front of the president on the desk. The watch was a Poljot Sturmanskie pilot’s chronograph.
“Tis I, comrade.” said the voice.
“….Viktor?” asked the President.
“Da.” said the voice.
“When did you get out?” asked President Vladimir Pudovkin.
Viktor walked around the desk to stand in the dim light and answered “Is has been four years since my release. You know, comrade, at first I had a strong desire to escape so I could expose the truth about your shameful behavior. But sooner or later that motivation weakens until one gives up hope. I saw a lot of that while a prisoner in Siberia. In fact, it almost happened to me. But I had something others did not have to help keep my hope. Do you know what it was, comrade? It was your Poljot chronograph.” said Viktor pointing to the watch on the desk.
“Viktor, I, I, I did not want for you to stay in Siberia. I had always intended to admit to the Colonel that it was I that violated the daughter of the cabinet member.” cried the President.
“SHUT UP! You betrayed me! We were comrades and you betrayed me! And you lied to the Colonel! He had high regard for me and he was going to give me my dream assignment!” said Viktor.
“Why now? It has been four years since your release. Why did you wait until now to come after me?” asked the crying President.
“You know what is said about revenge, don’t you?” asked Viktor in the coldest manner.
“Viktor, please, I beg you!” pleaded the President.
“Killing while emotions are high does not allow you to think straight. So, I forced myself to wait. Wait and wait and wait. And then when that heat of my emotions left me, the cold came in and the planning began.” said Viktor.
Viktor raised his revolver to President Vladimir Pudovkin and said “Do svidaniya…comrade.”
“Stop! Do NOT move.” said a voice from the doorway. Viktor turned around to see 750 pointing a gun at him.
“I don’t care if you shoot me. After I kill him, justice will have been done and I will gladly die knowing that.” said Viktor.
“Justice has been served, Viktor.” said Kristina. She stepped out from behind a wall opposite 750’s position. “I heard President Pudovkin’s confession. I heard everything. Outside FSB has it all recorded from my microphone. Justice is as good as done. Please put down the gun.”
Viktor continued to hold the gun to the President. He was not sure if he could trust Kristina’s words. “How do I know I can trust you?” asked Viktor.
“Russia is very different from the Russia you knew. The world has changed. There is no KGB. Justice is dealt in a court before a judge, not behind walls outside of the law. Please….” Kristina sincerely said.
After a moment, Viktor conceded “OK. He’s yours.”
After it was over, President Vladimir Pudovkin was arrested by police and Viktor Abakumov recounted his story to FSB. Bard was driven to Moscow Airport by Kristina. She stopped the car in front of the entrance to the terminal and before he got out of the car Kristina thanked him.
“You are not going to tell me your name or anything about you, are you?” she asked.
“No.” Bard simply replied with a smile.
“Thank you, for all your help.” she said. Bard looked at her beautiful eyes and moist lips. He could not help himself any longer; he leaned over and kissed her.
After their kiss, Jon Bard said “Do svidaniya, comrade.”