Moscow, 1991. A tumultuous summer pushes the Kremlin to the brink of chaos. The Soviet spy network begins to unravel. Rivals choose sides. Ambitious men make their move. Especially in Washington, D.C.
“I hate this country.” It was said in a manner so off-handed, with a sigh so deep, Konstantin Morozov nearly made a quick feint to the left, hoping quickness and surprise would at least rid him of the cold steel round barrel of a 9mm pressing against his sweaty head.
He hoped to stand and face his executioner. If he was going to die at the hands of The Wolf, he wanted to do it like a man, face to face. Konstantin Morozov was not a foolish man, but dire circumstance produced foolish thoughts. But what was more foolish, sitting at his own kitchen table in his own apartment in Washington, D.C., with a gun to his head, or believing the message traffic he had seen indicating that his government would send someone to analyze recently ‘obtained’ American intelligence data concerning the American Navy’s Pacific Fleet’s reactions regarding the turmoil in Moscow – data he had gathered himself, thanks to his cooperative American network of associates, especially a certain American Navy communications officer in Tokyo.
Morozov had been glad he was in Washington, concerned only with making sure his cabal of American informants kept providing their information, paying them as usual, and most importantly, reminding them of the dire consequences they faced if they decided to renege on their “arrangement.” Morozov may be a slight man, but his mild manners hid a feral instinct for survival.
Everything had been going so well for so long Morozov knew something was bound to go wrong eventually. He enjoyed his anonymous life in this place called Gaithersburg, Maryland, just outside America’s capital city, and he especially enjoyed his job at the National Institute of Health. He was biologist first and foremost, and his cover fit his intellectual mind so well he often thought of himself as the perfect American. That he had managed to survive his background checks was not surprising, once he understood the nature of the American government bureaucracy.
Why he expected everything to keep on as normal with a revolution at the fore in Moscow made him curse his stupidity, mental flaccidity, his own ease into an American lifestyle that he should have guarded against. Now he was paying for such sloth. He should have known the GRU would never be ambitious enough to want to review what he had done in America. Only a man like The Wolf, a brigand and a renegade, would have been able to penetrate the idiotic Soviet intelligence community to the point where he could slip into Washington, D.C.
“Do you have it all?” The Wolf asked, casually but firmly, watching Morozov complete the handwritten note he had been dictating.
“Yes, just as you said.”
The Wolf peered over the man’s shoulder, reading the note for himself. He had memorized the code the man was using. From his vantage point, standing over Morozov’s shoulder, peering down, firmly pressing the silencer of the 9mm to Morozov’s head, The Wolf carefully read the note through one last time, then said, “All right. Seal it and address the envelope as you normally would.”
Calming himself, waiting for his hands to steady, Morozov took a deep breath and asked, “No different than any other time?”
Morozov wrote the return address first, in the American custom, in the upper left-hand corner. Then in the center of the envelope he wrote
CWO Daryl Bennett, USN
Commander, Seventh Fleet
USS Blue Ridge LCC-19
FPO Seattle 96628
“That’s it,” Morozov replied.
“What is this Seattle?”
Morozov felt the gun press harder.
“It’s the Americans. They send their mail to Seattle before sending it to Japan,” Morozov calmly explained despite the sweat rising from forehead. “I swear. FPO means Fleet Post Office. The letter will get to Tokyo. I swear.”
Morozov had been proud of his brainstorm, using this sailor’s regular navy address to send his coded messages. The Wolf reluctantly admired it, too. It was brilliant in its simplicity. Right under the American navy’s nose, every time. Not that there were many messages. This Bennett person knew what Morozov wanted and sent the material to him the same way, in duplicate, in case one parcel got lost. Regular mail, from Maryland USA to a ship in the American fleet on the other side of the world, and back the same way.
“You always were a brilliant fuck,” The Wolf said, picking up the letter and tucking it into his shirt pocket.
“You’re going to need a stamp,” Morozov said.
“You’re going to need more than a stamp,” The Wolf replied, walking around Morozov, allowing him to take a good look at his former commanding officer. Morozov wasn’t looking at Bogdan, but the barrel of the silencer at the end of the 9mm. Before Morozov exhaled his final breath the bullet from the gun smashed the bone above his right eye and traveled through his brain, exited the other side, and lodged itself into a sofa ten feet away. Vorkov stood motionless as he watched Morozov go limp.
The Wolf enjoyed executing a worthless bureaucrat in the worthless espionage apparatus of a worthless politburo cracking apart. The Wolf was glad to be on the outside, watching the traitorous bureaucracy crumble, the nation fall apart, especially after all he did for Mother Russian, long years fighting her wars, only to be cashiered after losing men in in the mountains of Afghanistan, good men the Kremlin did not seem to care about after so many years in those foreign mountains.
No, The Wolf was glad to be on the outside, with his own regime. He could watch fools like Gorbachev and Yeltsin and know he had real power, real influence. But he needed the intelligence the traitorous American naval officer had been providing the Kremlin all these years. It had been somewhat difficult to find the traitor’s handler. But he had.
The Wolf retrieved the slug that had passed through the bookish little man’s head and lodged into the decadent plush leather furniture, picked up the spent shell casing, and quietly left the small apartment, stopping only to tug his wallet from his jacket pocket to make sure he did indeed have the stamp for the letter to the traitor Bennett.
Traitors & Lies – A Shig Sato Mystery – look for it in early 2016. To keep up with the latest T& L news and get a sneak peek at an advanced copy, sign up for my newsletter.