Chapter 74 of Silent Vector

Chapter 74, in which all loose ends are neatly tied up and a few are jailed

CHAPTER 74

THAT’S A WRAP

Their neighbors can’t believe what they’re seeing: solid, upstanding citizens, quiet, hard-working types being hauled off by local law enforcement officers in the leafy suburbs north of Chicago, in a trailer park in Fresno, at a hardware store in Moline, at a farmhouse outside of Portland, and in a modest apartment complex in St. Louis. The directive from D.C. that accompanied the warrants was specific. The time of the arrests had to coincide to prevent any sort of warning going out to the others. In reality, the big shots in D.C. need not have worried. None of the Soviet Union’s plants had any knowledge of the identity or location of the others. The only time they appeared together was in the log of the late Professor Hartmut Schnelling, a log that continues to yield a treasure trove of information for the country’s long-term prosecution of the Cold War.

←↔↔↔↔↔→

Yevgeny Kasparanov has survived his first week of arrest and interrogation in the Lubyanka. The KGB has been thorough, if not particularly brutal. That his life has for the moment been spared is a blessing. He knew his arrest was inevitable when news of the shootout on the streets of Atlanta reached his rivals in the Kremlin. He didn’t flee, he didn’t struggle, and in the end he went without protest. At that point, no one could protect him. Rumors abounded about the tenuous position of the General Secretary in light of the withdrawal from Cuba. The days of his most powerful adherent are probably numbered just as his are. Such is life in the Soviet Union. A once bright political future has been extinguished; the promising career of a true believer has come to an abrupt end. He accepts his fate, and what he craves now more than sunlight, more than an hour of uninterrupted sleep, more than a meal that might make a dent in his hunger, is any bit of news of his family.

←↔↔↔↔↔→

Dmitri Bogdonevitch and Yuri Belyavski lean against the freighter’s waist-high gunwale, smoking and gazing at the choppy waters of the Atlantic. They’re steaming north and east for Gibraltar.

“So much for adventure,” Dmitri laments.

“So much for romance,” Yuri agrees.

The order to rapidly dismantle the 43rd’s weapons for loading and return to Romny was the first welcome bit of news the two men had received since arriving in Cuba.

“Perhaps the next time our glorious leaders decide to send us half-way around the world they’ll make sure to send us where we can read the road signs.”

“Or where the bugs are smaller than my thumbs.”

“Or where more than one or two of the locals will welcome us.”

“Dmitri?”

“Yes?”

“Do you know of such a place?”

“I don’t. Do you?”

“Of course not. It doesn’t exist.”

“Then why do we keep looking?”

“Why do you ask such questions?”

“Someone has to.”

“That’s where you’re wrong. If the right questions were asked, you and I would be out of work.”

The two men, resigned to accept what life has in store for them, continue to smoke as they and their comrades make their long way home.

←↔↔↔↔↔→

Nick and Dalila sit at an Eastern Airlines gate in Washington’s National Airport. A DC-7 will take her to Idlewild in New York where she’ll catch a flight to Kenya with stops in London and Cairo.

Kyle Richardson and Ted Durant stand to the side. They’re here to see Dalila off, but they want to give Nick and Dalila some privacy.

Dalila’s hand is in Nick’s causing more than a few disapproving glances from passersby. They are both aware of the stares and glares.

“We’ve still got a long way to go.”

“You and me?”

“I meant the country.”

“Will you come visit my country?”

“Absolutely, but I wouldn’t need to if you’d accept the Director’s offer.”

“You don’t think we could live together here, do you?”

“No. I was thinking about St. Thomas.”

“It’s a lovely dream, Nick, but I want to return to Kenya.”

“Homesick yet?”

“Something like that.”

The boarding of Dalila’s flight is announced over the public address system. They both stand up. He holds her hands in his.

Nick nods towards the disapproving crowd.

“Want to give them something to talk about?”

“What’s in it for me, Mr. Temple?”

“This.”

Nick pulls her to him, wraps his arms around her waist and kisses her deeply. They break off the kiss and she leans against his shoulder.

“I shall think of nothing but you the whole way home,” she whispers. She backs away and grabs her small flight bag.

“Good bye, Nick. And thank you.”

She gives him a peck on the cheek and gets in line to board the aircraft.

Nick, Kyle and Ted watch her as she leaves the building for the tarmac.

“You’re a lucky man, Nick Temple.”

“You’ve got that right, Kyle.”

The three men turn and head away from the gate for the terminal. Nick masks the emotional depth of the moment by asking casually, “Who needs a drink?”

“You buying?” Ted asks.

“I am. See if you can keep up.”

Ted slaps Nick on the back.

“Nick, I’m not even gonna try.”

THE END