Cold War Rivals Up Close

Here's a selection from Switchback: A Nick Temple File. The selection comes from Chapter 51 - "Post-op Recovery Soviet Style."

The door blows open. Kropotkin enters, stops, and, with his fists on his hips, his arms akimbo, stares at Nick.

“Excellent suit. Now you look more like citizen of Soviet Union. Perhaps we will let you defect after all.”

Nick silently curses Malenkov for doing nothing about his cruel protégé Kropotkin.

“Make it snappy, Kropotkin. I have a date.”

Kropotkin walks over to the bed, leans over, and gets right in Nick’s face. He places a large, strong hand on Temple’s collarbone and begins to squeeze.

“Is that all you got?”

“You have yet to feel what I’ve got. I should have broken it last night,” he sneers maliciously.

As Kropotkin talks, he squeezes harder. The pain shoots through Temple’s already battered body, but he does not flinch.

“Is there a point to this, or are you just looking to get another hard on?”

Kropotkin releases Temple’s shoulder and laughs.

“If you are going to live in Soviet Union, you will need to be able to endure more pain than that. Finish your breakfast, coward. Comrade Malenkov sent me to tell you that you will not be meeting today. He is indisposed.”

Temple stands up and scrapes the food remaining on the plate into the toilet. He spits in the toilet, and then flushes it.

“You guys need a new chef.”

Kropotkin slaps him with the back of his hand, knocking him to the bed.

“You’re going to need new set of teeth!”

Kropotkin exits, howling with laughter and slamming the door behind him.

Nick rubs his jaw, stretches, and contemplates his next move.