The Romanov Succession - Brian Garfield - ebook

The Romanov Succession ebook

Brian Garfield

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During World War II, a Russian refugee spies for the United States. Since the great upheaval of November 1917, Alex Denilov has known nothing but war. In the civil war that followed the Bolshevik Revolution, he fought for the old imperial order. When the Reds won out, he fled west, finding work in every war that followed. Now, in 1941, he trains paratroopers in the American Southwest, helping the US Army prepare for the coming war. But Uncle Sam has bigger plans for him. The army transfers Alex to special services, where he is reunited with old colleagues from the civil war. The group shares combat skills, knowledge of the Russian language, and an intense hatred of Communists. Their mission is to assassinate Stalin. But inside this group of killers, a traitor lurks, ready to kill Alex before he attempts to save Russia from itself.

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Contents

Cover

About the Book

About the Author

Title Page

Copyright Page

Dedication

PART ONE

Hitler Attacks Russia

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

PART TWO

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

11.

12.

13.

14.

15.

16.

17.

18.

19.

PART THREE

1.

2.

3.

4.

PART FOUR

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

11.

12.

13.

14.

15.

16.

17.

18.

PART FIVE

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

PART SIX

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

11.

12.

13.

14.

15.

A Historical Note

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Cover

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About the Book

During World War II, a Russian refugee spies for the United States.

Since the great upheaval of November 1917, Alex Denilov has known nothing but war. In the civil war that followed the Bolshevik Revolution, he fought for the old imperial order. When the Reds won out, he fled west, finding work in every war that followed. Now, in 1941, he trains paratroopers in the American Southwest, helping the US Army prepare for the coming war. But Uncle Sam has bigger plans for him.

The army transfers Alex to special services, where he is reunited with old colleagues from the civil war. The group shares combat skills, knowledge of the Russian language, and an intense hatred of Communists. Their mission is to assassinate Stalin. But inside this group of killers, a traitor lurks, ready to kill Alex before he attempts to save Russia from itself.

About the Author

The author of more than seventy books, Brian Garfield (b. 1939) is one of the country’s most prolific writes of thrillers, westerns and other genre fiction. Raised in Arizona, Garfield found success at an early age, publishing his first novel when he was only eighteen. After time in the Army, a few years touring with a jazz band, and a Master’s Degree from the University of Arizona, he settled into writing full time.

The Romanov Succession

Brian Garfield

 

BASTEI ENTERTAINMENT

 

Bastei Entertainment is an imprint of Bastei Lübbe AG

 

 

Copyright © 2015 by Bastei Lübbe AG, Schanzenstraße 6-20, 51063 Cologne, Germany

 

For the original edition:

Copyright © 2011 by The Mysterious Press, LLC, 58 Warren Street, New York, NY. U.S.A.

 

Copyright © 1974 by Brian Garfield

 

Project management: Lori Herber

Cover adaptation: Christin Wilhelm, www.grafic4u.de

Cover design by Mumtaz Mustafa

 

E-book production: Jouve Germany GmbH & Co. KG

 

ISBN 978-3-95859-093-9

 

www.bastei-entertainment.com

 

All rights reserved, including without limitation the right to reproduce this e-book or any portion thereof in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of the publisher.

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

This is a novel of historical speculation. Some of its events and characters are real. Many are not. There were in fact three Romanov Pretenders to the Imperial Russian throne but they were not the three fictional Pretenders who appear in this book, nor were there any real-life counterparts for the fictitious Prince Felix Romanov, Prince Leon Kirov, Count Anatol Markov, Baron Oleg Zimovoi or Baron Yuri Ivanov. Except where actual historical personages are introduced (Stalin, Vlasov, Churchill and others), no resemblance whatever is intended or implied between the fictional characters of this novel and real persons.

For Bob and Mary, the Dukeand Duchess of Leonia.         

Few events occur at the right time, and many do not occur at all; it is the proper function of the historian to correct these faults.

—Herodotus

PART ONE:

July–August 1941

HITLER ATTACKS RUSSIA

Moscow, June 22, 1941—Germany today invaded Soviet Russia.

Just after midnight this morning, Nazi bombers attacked Soviet defense installations along a 2,000-mile front from the Baltic to the Black Sea. Veteran German armies, estimated at over 3,000,000 men, rolled through the “Polish Corridor,” spearheaded by a blitz of German armor and dive-bomber destruction.

Preliminary reports from the field are fragmentary but it appears the Russians have been caught napping, lulled by the Molotov-Ribbentrop nonaggression pact signed 21 months ago. Resistance to the Nazi invasion is light, disorganized and ineffectual. The invaders are bypassing strongpoints and smashing through the most weakly defended sectors along a wide front.

Informed foreign observers in Moscow are wondering whether Josef Stalin’s vast USSR, the world’s largest nation, can possibly escape the same fate the conquering Nazi war machine has already inflicted on Poland, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, Roumania, Hungary, Greece and Crete.

1.

When the light flashed he pushed himself out of the airplane and fell away into the slipstream. He felt it when he hit the end of the tape and it came free; his fist locked on the secondary ripcord to pull the lanyard if the hook-tape failed. But he didn’t need it this time: the pilot chute popped open and dragged the harness from his backpack. He knotted his muscles against the tug of the main chute.

Above him the B-18s wheeled ponderously, vomiting jumpers; the abrasive rumble of their engines disturbed the hot dry air. Alex Danilov’s silk took the air, billowed and brought him up hard. Then he was swaying, swinging, playing his hands through the shroud lines to spill a little air out of the side of the parachute and center himself over the DZ. Above him the soldiers dangled like marionettes.

Six aircraft and each of them disgorged fourteen chutists: eighty-four men and all of them had to touch down inside the marked 100-yard circle. That was the point of the exercise: precision. Yes sir—it would be twice as easy if we doubled the length of the drop zone but we want to get everybody into the smallest possible target area. In terms of Norway say a forest clearing. We want to be sure nobody gets a pine tree up his ass.

Norway, shit. Alex, the United States Army couldn’t mount a successful invasion of Staten Island right now.

He had twenty-eight seconds to hang from the lines between chute-opening and touchdown. Twenty-eight seconds was far too long if there were going to be people on the ground shooting at them. The next step in the training would be to lower the jump altitude. Bring the planes in at fifteen hundred feet, then a thousand, then seven-fifty. It could be done from four hundred but he’d settle for six. But that would rule out any margin for error—no room for a soldier’s last-minute clutch in the door, no room for backup chutes. When the training got down to that fine point they’d start to lose trainees but sooner or later it would have to be done; it was only a question of how soon.

Texas beneath him: no vestige of shade anywhere. Beyond the chalk lines a black Ford waited—a wilted corporal standing by, his faded blouse stained by the sweat that sluiced down his chest; moving back and forth slowly in the heat as if to create a breeze on himself.

The ground loomed too fast; the moment of terror came every time. He bent his knees and when he touched down he tipped right over on one shoulder and rolled to absorb the impact. Then he twisted to his feet and gathered in the shroud lines to collapse the distended chute. Around him the squads were hitting ground; Alex Danilov’s eyes watched them all, watched their touchdowns and watched the chalk line of the circle. Some of them were so close to it that the wind dragged their chutes over the line after they hit the ground but every one of them had touched down inside the deadlines and it pleased him.

He made a bundle of his silks and carried them toward the perimeter. The corporal made a hand signal and waited for him, plucking the wet blouse away from his chest. The Ford had stars on its fenders: the base commanding general’s stars, but the car was empty.

The corporal said, “General Spaight sent me to fetch you back to headquarters, sir.”

The Fort Bliss sun whacked ferociously against the rows of weathered clapboard: temporary barracks erected in 1917. Alex went inside and the G-1 nodded to him from behind the officer-of-the-day desk. Alex strode past the flag standard to the post commander’s door. When he entered the office his head just missed the top of the doorframe.

An aura of stale cigar hung around the dreary hot room: Spaight didn’t smoke but it was that kind of climate, it preserved everything like a sarcophagus.

Spaight was a brigadier; his hair and unkempt eyebrows were pewter grey: he had an easy amiable smile that squinted up the grid of tiny lines on his face. But he looked unnerved. “How was the jump?”

“Good. They’re coming along.” Alex hooked his cap over the prong of the hat rack.

“They weren’t much of a jump team before you took them over.”

“I just bark at them. They hate me so they’ve got to prove they’re harder than I am. Nothing new about it—I imagine the Greeks ran their armies the same way.”

“Pull up a chair, Alex.” Spaight tipped back in his chair and glanced uneasily toward the window where a fly seeking escape kept banging against the screen. Then he tapped a paper on his desk. “I’ve got War Department orders for you.” He looked bleak.

2.

SECRET     SECRET     SECRETFEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATIONU.S. ARMY PERSONNEL REPORT

SUBJECT: Danilov, Alexsander I.

Following report was compiled by: Baltimore, Md., District Office. Bibliography of sources attached. The Bureau expresses its appreciation for the cooperation of BN&I, U.S. Army and U.S. Department of State in making dossiers on subject available.

Subject’s vital statistics:

Date and Place of Birth: 27 March 1907, nr. Kiev, Ukraine, Imperial Russian Empire.

Father’s name & occupation: Danilov, Ilya V. (1871-1920), officer in Imperial (“White Russian”) Army, 1889–1920.

Mother’s name (maiden) & occupation if any: Danilova, Anya F., nee Petrovna (1875-1931).

Subject’s physical description. (Attach photos). Height: 6 ft. 2 in. Weight: 180 lbs. Hair: Brown. Eyes: Grey. Distinguishing marks: Scars at throat (see photos). Smallpox vaccination, upper left bicep. 3 in. scar on back of right calf 2 in. below knee. Marital status: Single. Citizenship: U.S.A.

Summary of findings: Request for investigation of Subject was forwarded to this office from U.S. Army BuPers on 12 December 1940, pursuant to Subject’s pending receipt by special arrangement of temporary commission in U.S. Army. Clearance up to Confidential level was requested. Investigation was concluded 17 January 1941. Clearance denied by U.S. Army G-2. Temporary commission granted (Colonel AUS) for purposes of training U.S. combat troops.

Summary of results of investigation: Subject Danilov is naturalized U.S. citizen. Arrived U.S.A. 1924 as White Russian refugee (age 16). Mother became naturalized U.S. citizen 1929; subject achieved naturalized status on 21st birthday (1928). Attended Culver Military Academy (1924-25), Princeton University (B.S. 1929). Attended Sandhurst military college (G.B.—1930–31. Note: Subject’s family resided in England 1929-1934 but retained U.S. citizenship. See Appendix I, Family Affiliations).

Subject’s movements 1931-1935 have been subjected to a general trace but the Bureau recommends a more thorough check. Said movements took place outside the United States and such an investigation would be outside the jurisdiction of the Bureau. General summaries from Department of State files are attached (Appendix II, III, IV). During 1931–35 period, Subject’s activities have been described broadly as “playboy-oriented” (U.S.D.S. Report, Appendix III) with emphasis on social-set activities on the Continent: gambling, polo, yachting.

In 1935 Subject became associate of his stepbrother, Vassily I. Devenko. (See abstract on Devenko from U.S.D.S. files, Appendix V.) Note: Devenko’s private White Russian army has been described as a mercenary force but confidential reports via U.S.D.S. contraindicate such description.

In September 1935 Devenko’s White Russian Brigade enlisted in the service of the Chinese Government to combat Communist risings and Japanese aggrandizement in Manchukuo. Subject Danilov accompanied the Brigade as platoon leader, company commander and ultimately (March 1936) Operations Officer on staff of “General” Devenko. Subject’s combat record unavailable. Combat record of the Devenko Brigade as a whole has been obtained through sources in the Government of China (Appendix VI) and reports forwarded via the headquarters of Gen. Claire Chennault (Appendix VII). Consensus of reports is that the anti-Communist record of the Devenko Brigade is impeccable.

In May 1936 the Chinese Government attempted to reach a compromise with the Communists. As a result the Devenko Brigade left China (evidently at the insistence of followers of Sun Yat-sen). Complete information is lacking; U.S.D.S. reports surmise that the Brigade was disbanded temporarily (Appendix V). In August 1936 Subject Danilov joined Falangist training cadre after outbreak of Civil War in Spain. Records from U.S.D.S. are incomplete. Subject Danilov appears to have been attached to Franco army with liaison with German Condor Legion, but left this employ within nine weeks and departed Spain to rejoin Vassily I. Devenko when the White Russian Brigade was reassembled in Warsaw.

Subject Danilov served as chief-of-staff to General Devenko from October 1936 to February 1940. From 1936 to 1939 the White Russian Brigade served as a training cadre for the Free Polish Army. In July 1939 political pressure from Moscow caused Warsaw to dismiss the Brigade; it then moved, intact, to Helsinki to train Finnish combat troops. When Soviet Russia invaded Finland in November 1939, the Brigade volunteered for combat duty against the Red Army. It held frontline positions and U.S. Army reports indicate its performance was excellent (Appendix VIII).

Reports on Subject Danilov are more thorough regarding the period of the Russo-Finnish War, mainly because of the presence of American observers on the battle fronts. Dispatches from U.S. Army liaison-observers (see Appendix VIII and cable dispatches from Brigadier General John W. Spaight, military attaché-observer, in Appendix IX) indicate Subject Danilov’s performance under fire was exemplary.

In February 1940, during the Russo-Finnish War, General Devenko departed the Brigade on a leave of absence and Subject Danilov assumed temporary command. He remained in command of the unit until the conclusion of the war in March 1940. General Devenko then resumed command. Subject Danilov was wounded in action two days prior to the end of hostilities and was invalided off the duty roster. Subject spent March-May 1940 in Helsinki military hospital, then transferred for convalescence to civilian hospital in Stockholm. In September 1940 Subject Danilov returned to the United States (P. of E. New York City) in order to comply with conditions of naturalized citizenship requiring him to “touch base” on American soil at specified intervals.

On 4 October 1940 Subject Danilov was approached by Brig. Gen. John W. Spaight, U.S. Army, in an attempt to recruit Subject into American training cadre. (Appendix IX indicates the two men had become friendly in Finland.) Brig. Gen. Spaight had been assigned to take command of U.S. Army Paratroop Command Training Center at Fort Bliss, Texas, the appointment to take effect on 1 December 1940. At the same time Brig. Gen. Spaight approached the War Department with a request to make unusual exception to the regulations concerning commissions and promotions. His arguments in favor of granting a special temporary commission to Subject Danilov are recapitulated in Appendix X—principally to the effect that for purposes of training recruits there would be no adequate substitute for recent combat experience of the sort Subject Danilov had undergone.

This request for special instatement led to a requisition by U.S. Army BuPers for a Federal Security Report on Subject Danilov. This District Office’s formal report is attached (Appendix XI). In summary it concludes that while certain background details are lacking, making security clearance unfavorable, nevertheless Subject Danilov’s military background qualifies him uniquely for the requested assignment and that no indications have come to light which might negate Subject’s usefulness as a combat-training instructor for the U.S. Army.

(Note: U.S.D.S. files in Appendix XII indicate State Department ruling on question of citizenship ineligibility. Question was raised because of regulations by which naturalized U.S. citizens may forfeit citizenship as a result of having served in foreign armies. Department was asked to waive this regulation; waiver was refused, but naturalized citizenship was upheld nevertheless on the grounds that the Devenko Brigade was not an army of a foreign government; it was an independent nongovernmental organization leasing its services to various anti-Communist powers. Subject Danilov’s brief service in the employ of the Spanish government was not judged to be military service. Subject retains American citizenship.)

Date of this report: 21 January 1941.

3.

The fly kept banging against the screen and John Spaight watched it angrily but he didn’t stir from his chair. Dust motes hung in the July heat. “You did a hell of a job down here.”

Alex said, “You’re putting that in the past tense.”

“I told you—they’ve cut orders on you.” Spaight dropped his palm flat on the document on his desk. “I’ve got to ask you something Alex. We’ve never talked about it before. You spent eight or nine weeks in Spain training soldiers for Franco. Then you just bugged out without a by-your-leave. Why?”

Spaight was a friend but it looked as if he was trying to bait Alex and until he knew why he wasn’t going to fall into a trap. “A lot of us on both sides were misguided by our own zeal. Sooner or later you began to realize the Fascists were as bad as the Communists.”

“If not worse.”

“They weren’t any worse. Better equipped. I couldn’t see any other difference.”

“The point is, Alex, you got fed up and you just bugged out.”

He began to see it. “I was a mercenary there. Not a Spanish citizen. If that’s what you’re getting at.”

“Take it easy, Alex. There’s a point to all this. Let me put it this way—suppose we find ourselves allied with Russia against Nazi Germany. If we get into this war that’s exactly what may happen. Where does that put you, Alex? What do you do then, hating those Red Russians the way you do? You stick it out and follow orders? Or do you bug out again?”

Alex brooded at him. “John I’m a volunteer. I came down here to train soldiers, not to support political alliances. I’m not a spy, I’m a soldier—I do my job and that’s all I do. If you’re not satisfied with my work then you’d better ask for my resignation.”

“I wish it was that cut and dried.” Spaight lifted the typed page from the desk and handed it to him.

CJCS LETTER ORDER # 1431: 28 JULY 41.

FROM: CJCS, WDC.

TO: ALEXSANDER I. DANILOV, COL. AUS. 0479863.

VIA: CG FT BLISS TNG CMD.

SUBJECT: RELIEF FROM COMMAND, TRANSFER & REASSIGNMENT.

1. Subject officer is rlvd cmd of 2nd Tng Bn, 1st Spl Tng Rgt, 2 Div 4 Army, Ft Bliss Tex, Effective Immediately.

2. Subject officer is detached from 2 Div 4 Army.

3. Subject officer is reassigned Independent Duty JCS Command, WDC.

4. Subject officer will report to office of G-2 CJCS, WDC (A-X-32-B-21, Ft McNair) not later than 1000 hrs 23 July 41 for further reassignment.

5. Transportation by Ind TDY.

By order of CJCS,

G. D. Buckner, Colonel AUS

For G. C. Marshall, General USA, CJCS.

Alex folded the order along its original creases and slid it into his pocket.

Spaight said, “They’re sending in a Canadian to relieve you—veteran of Dunkirk. To teach us how to lose gracefully I suppose.”

“They’ll do all right,” Alex said in a distracted voice.

“Alex, they’re taking you out of here. Marshall’s G-2—that’s the cloak and dagger end. Frankly I’m not sure it’s the right place for you. I’m not sure you belong in this army at all under the circumstances. It was all right as long as you were down here—it gave you a chance to heal up, it gave me the best training officer I’ve ever had. But Washington, the Intelligence branch—that’s something else again.”

“They didn’t consult you about this?”

“It’s the first I’ve heard of it. I tried a phone call to Washington this morning but all I got was a runaround. But I’d have to be an ass if I didn’t figure you for one of their Russian desks in the Intelligence office.”

“And you want to know if I can be trusted there.”

“Alex, it’s a hell of a thing to have to—”

“If I can’t do the job with absolute loyalty I’ll resign.”

Spaight gave him a long scrutiny and then the smile-tracks creased around his tired eyes. “Good enough.”

He cleaned out his office desk and had the driver ferry him to the BOQ.

The wall phone was buzzing when he went by it and he lifted the earpiece off its bracket. “BOQ. Colonel Danilov.”

“Oh—Colonel. Base Central. Just tried to get you over to your office. They’s a long-distance call for you. You supposed to call Operator Three in Ann Arbor, Michigan.”

“All right. Can you make the call for me?”

“Yes sir. One moment please.”

When the connection went through it was poor. He had to shout through a hiss of static.

“Please hold on, Colonel.”

Then a man’s voice, a little quavery with age, in hard Kharkov Russian:

“Is that you, Alexsander Ilyavitch?”

Alex’s face changed. “Yes General.”

4.

He laid out his second-best uniform for traveling and showered in tepid hard water. Naked at the sink shaving, he caught his dulled scowl in the mirror. There were two puckered scars in his neck, one three inches beyond the other on the right side where a jacketed bullet had gone through—his talisman of luck: an expanding slug of soft lead would have torn his head off. But the scars were ugly and impossible to disguise.

His hair was walnutty brown peppered with grey at the sides and cropped militarily short against the high square skull; he had sun-broiled skin above the pale vee of shirt collars, a long nose and a very large mouth that formed a rectangular bracket around his teeth if he smiled. His torso was long; the cords lay flat along his bones and he was quite thin, with a runner’s wind.

For six months he had lived in this hot close room and done very little that he hadn’t been told to do. He had become a pest, ramrodding the battalion twenty-four hours a day, not giving it or himself any respite. Now they were pulling him out of his safe cocoon and that was what frightened him a little. They were throwing him into some War Department crush and he didn’t know if he’d had time to heal yet.

He thrust himself into his clothes, breaking through the starch; he drank one undersized shot of bourbon and left the bottle on the table for his successor. He had been drinking the stuff for months because it was cheap and available but he still hadn’t learned to like it.

He went back to the telephone in the hall. A G-1 major came through, waggled a hand at him and went into his room. Alex waited until the major’s door was shut.

“Base Control. He’p you?”

“This is Colonel Danilov. See if General Spaight’s still in his office, will you?”

“Yes sir. One moment please.”

Fairly quickly Spaight was on the line. “Alex?”

“I’m not sure which one of us owes the other a favor.”

“No need to keep books on it. What do you need?”

“My orders give me four days TDY to report in. I need to get to New York a lot faster than that. By tomorrow night if I can.”

“New York?” Spaight’s voice indicated his curiosity, “Okay. Where are you right now?”

“BOQ.”

“I’ll get back to you in ten minutes.”

He held the hook down long enough to break the connection. Then he made one more call, kept it brief and went back into his cubicle to make a final check of things he might have forgotten to pack. He hadn’t forgotten anything of course; he never did. But it was a clue to his unease and he deliberately stood to attention and drew several long measured breaths to calm himself.

He answered the phone on the first ring.

“You’re all set. Be at El Paso airport at eleven sharp—twenty-three hundred hours. There’s a half-squadron of brand new bombers ferrying through to Washington. I’ve got you a lift with them. Talk to the lead pilot, a Captain Johnson.”

“Thanks, John.”

“Drop me a postcard now and then.”

“Sure.”

“Good luck, Alex.”

He heard the car draw up, crunching gravel; Carol Ann’s horn blasted cheerfully—shave-and-a-haircut, two-bits. He gathered up his uniform coat and musette bag, glanced finally around the monastic cell and went out.

The dazzling brilliance made his eyes swim. He crossed the yellow-brown patch of lawn and tossed his things in the back seat; he slid in beside the girl and threw his arm across the back of the seat while she put the open Chevy roadster in gear.

“Time’s your train?”

“Ten-fifteen,” he said, compounding the lie. He didn’t want anyone to know about the plane ride. Spaight would keep it under his hat.

“I know a place to fill your belly.” Her long brown eyes flicked toward him. “Unless you’ve got anything else in mind you’d rather do?”

Alex shook his head.

Carol Ann had a shrewd quick way of smiling. “The Way the trains are these days you’d better get yourself around a good’ Southern meal.” She was a self-confident girl, a bit of a cynic and not much of a talker; they had met four weeks ago in a roadhouse bar and in a casual way they had filled needs in each other without talking about it. She didn’t know much about him and didn’t seem to want to.

The setting sun veined the clouds with streaks of marble pink. The hot wind raked his face and Carol Ann took the dips in the road too fast for the springs on the little car.

The Rio Grande was muddy and sluggish on his right. The landmark hills guided them into the dusty outskirts of El Paso—scrubby brush and the occasional billboard for Prince Albert Tobacco and the Beer That Made Milwaukee Famous. The car’s passage flushed a covey of quail.

Detour. Through a dry arroyo where flash floods had undercut the road. On the job a half dozen convicts in stripes worked with shovels and rakes and tar buckets, their dull Indian faces aglisten with oil sweat, and two flaccid killer guards with riot shotguns sat horseback. Their heads all turned to watch the girl behind the wheel.

She pulled into the dusty lot beside a stucco café festooned with red-and-white Coca-Cola signs. He held the screen door for her and went inside and let it slap shut on its spring. A deep-fried smell ran along the counter and the radio was twanging, Jimmie Rodgers the Singing Brakeman. They were all men at the counter, Mexicans at the back, all of them in Levi’s and high-heel boots and flannel shirts with the backs of their necks creased like old leather.

They took the booth at the front by the window where there was a little air. Fried steak, shucked corn, buttered green beans, a huge dollop of mashed potatoes with a two-spoon crater filled with lumpy gravy. The notice above the counter said We Reserve the Right to Refuse Service to Anyone and beyond that there was a placard: Discussion of the President Is Prohibited. On the radio now an announcer was talking about Hank Greenberg.

Carol Ann said, “Well then, Coop.” She fancied he resembled Gary Cooper the movie star. “I’m not going to see you again. Am I?”

“Do you want to?”

She was eating, watching him. She made no direct answer to the question. She caught the counterman’s eye: “I’ll have another cup of that coffee if it’s handy.”

Gene Autry was singing Tumbling Tumbleweeds. Carol Ann stirred a lump of sugar into the coffee and fanned herself with the paper napkin. “If you ever get down this way you come and see me, hear?”

She was bony; he could see the tendons in her throat. The thin shirt hung from her shoulders and he felt sadness well up onto the back of his mouth. Her husband was a lieutenant with a construction battalion in Alaska. She lived in a drab quick-built apartment court north of El Paso near the river. She had two little girls, five and two. It was all he knew about her except that she was lonely and she was generous, giving fully of herself when it pleased her. It had been easy and quiet between them: neither of them wanted excitement. He hadn’t realized until now that it had been important enough to make him unhappy to end it.

“Where are they sending you?”

“I don’t know.”

“Well you’ll handle it all right, now.”

He wasn’t sure. “I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to fix the rocking chair.”

“It’s all right, Coop.”

He paid the check and she drove him to the station. There was dust on his Oxfords and she insisted on treating him: the shoeshine boy slapped his cloth across Alex’s toes with the sound of distant artillery. Then it was time to tell her to go. He kissed her on the lips, gently. It was something he had never done with her in a public place before.

She said, “I am going to miss you, Coop. You take care of yourself, hear?”

After she left it occurred to him that neither of them had asked the other to write.

He took a taxi to the airfield and waited around the hangars for the Air Corps formation to appear.

5.

There were six planes—the new B-24 Liberator type, long-range and fromidable. They gave him a waist-gunner’s seat in the third plane and showed him how to use the intercom and oxygen apparatus.

Everything he owned of any consequence was in the B-4 bag at his feet and except for the pistols none of it was of moment to him; he did not carry souvenirs of his life. It was one of the things that made him feel apart from the rest of his kind—the White Russian exiles with their passionate covetousness.

It was cold in the night sky. Through the turret perspex he watched the other planes bobbing slightly in the intangible balance of their staggered formation. The drone was hypnotic and soporific; in his mind he ran back over the tense telephone conversation with General Deniken—searching for clues to the things Deniken had left unsaid:

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!