Part 58: An Old FriendUpdate 27 An Old Friend
I didn't learn enough from my visit to room 416. All I learned is that there is a possibility they may be filming snuff films in there, and that Chapkin and Kusnetsov are involved. Since I've run out of leads, I'll have to talk to Greenberg. Something seemed a bit off about Wallace anyway.
We meet again!
Wallace is CIA, but we don't work together. She doesn't like Perestroika. She belongs to a group of people who preferred things as they used to be.
What I want is some American money.
I just saw Wallace giving you money. I'm not a charity.
Why should a KGB officer do business with the CIA?
We're working on the same case, Rukov: those snuff videos. Some questions remain unanswered, questions starting with who, when, where, what and so forth.
He's right. If he's been investigating this case, he should know a lot about it.
What do you want to know?
I don't envy you, Rukov. Savinkov's a manipulator. Whenever he gets friendly and human and tells you to take it easy, that's when he's sharpening a knife for your back!
It's simple: the day he offers you one of his Cuban cigars, that's when you can trust him. Not before.
A Cuban cigar? The person Agabekov met with gave him a Cuban cigar. It could just be a coincidence, though.
Ladoga park and then Hammer and Sickle street.
I've never heard that name in my life. I'm not even sure if it's a person or a place. Sounds like Greenberg stumbled upon something that I haven't.
I've never heard of Protopopov.
Who is Protopopov?
I wish I knew. The snuff videos trail took me from the States to Helsinki. While I was there, I picked up the name Protopopov. It could be a code-name for the operation or it could be the brains behind it.
I want to know about Viktor Matsnev.
I don't know any Matsnev. I'll try to find out about him.
I want to know about a man called Yakuchev.
I don't know the name. I'll make inquiries.
Damn. Maybe he doesn't know much about this case after all.
Does the name Obukov mean anything to you?
He's new in town. Comes from Odessa. He had some trouble with the Militia down there about 3 months back. He disappeared and turned up here. He seems to be the link between Mechulaiev and whoever takes care of the transport to the US.
Have you heard of New Birth?
You've hit on a well-kept secret there, Rukov. I've heard New Birth mentioned a few times, in connection with unofficial KGB pressure groups. Are they pro or anti-Perestroika? I don't know. And I don't know any members. You'll have to be brief, Rukov; I have work to do.
What do you know about Kusnetsov?
A shady reputation. Mafia connections. He liked the old days better.
What can you tell me about Agabekov?
Very clean record. Showed the Afghan comrades the latest in hi-tech torture techniques. Good Party man. Stays out of trouble and obeys orders.
Tell me what your interest is in this affair.
Our people have already come across examples of snuff videos produced by Verto and his friends. Those tapes are distributed in the US, Rukov. We're pretty sure there's a connection with drug rings operating in North America.
What we want is the whole set-up, from production through to exportation and distribution. We're nearly there, right? The missing bits of the puzzle are right here in Leningrad, where the Communist Party and KGB elements appear to be involved.
Have you found out how and when the videos will be exported?
No, I haven't. That's what I'm hoping you'll find out.
Can you tell me what groups are concerned in this affair?
I can tell you what I know. Apart from me and you, some KGB are involved, but at what level or to what purpose I don't yet know. I don't know what Wallace is doing here either; she's not liaising with me, but she is CIA. As for Mechulaiev, the guy whose warehouse you visited, he's an honest gangster who did some deals with Kusnetsov.
Will you give me that American money you mentioned?
Okay. But all I have is $50.
One more question, Rukov, then I have to go.
What are your plans for tonight?
Calm down, captain. Let's help each other, not live in each other's pockets!
I've told you enough for now, Rukov. Let's see what you come up with. Anything you can pick up on Protopopov would be useful to me. I suggest we meet at 12 noon tomorrow, Ladoga Park.
All these damn meetings. Savinkov at 7 am, Cut-throat at 11 am, and now Greenberg at noon. And I'm not sure what I know about Viktor Matsnev is enough to make Cut-throat happy. At least I've learned a lot of other things from Greenberg. I'll make sure to put his money to good use.
I've got hard currency. Let's go where you can earn it!
Hey, I got needs. I thought this spy business would be like James Bond girls throwing themselves at me left and right. It seems I was mistaken.
You give her a good look at your spending power.
That's what I call hard! Let's go, hot stuff.
Nothing gets me going like bad double entendres.
You're a romantic girl!
If you want romance, you should go to the cinema. I'm a high-performance sex-machine: pay your money and get thrills you'll remember.
Here's your money.
How about me being in a hospital bed and you're the nurse?
We return to the first floor, where we see Greenberg entering the elevator.
Looks like he's going to bed. It is getting late. I'll get a drink, and then head on home.
We ask the bartender for a drink.
You are served a small glass of excellent vodka.
You feel better, more relaxed!
There's still too many unanswered questions. Even the evidence I've gathered is a bit flimsy. Someone might have planted that photo there to frame Chapkin. Savinkov might have some info, but I'm not even sure I can trust him.
We have another drink.
Just one more drink.
This is serious drinking! It makes life bearable, just about. Damn KGB nonsense... Whole country's falling to pieces and all you do is crawl around hunting petty mobsters! Best thing to do is get seriously drunk in a decisive elbow upswing drive to meet delirium tremens quotas. Hic...
Okay, we've probably had enough.
We drunkenly knock on the front door.
No messages for me?
Must be boring for you.
Never, comrade. My enthusiasm is fired by keen inspirational thoughts.
Talk about...the phones in the hotel
As indicated in the minutes of last week's working committee on phone improvement quotas, comrade, they are scheduled to commence operating at 7 am.
I studied superstitions and exploitationist lie-mongering at school, but that was long ago. The comrade captain will forgive me, but it's a little late for me to be indulging in fascinating discussions.
Anything to report?
Anybody come to see me?
Anybody lurking around?
I'm trying to work, so just keep your drunken mouth shut and go to bed.
Alright, alright, fine. (hic)
We drunkenly stagger back to our bed.
We turn off the light. Time for some well-earned rest.