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Treason for My Daily Bread - Excerpts

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The book Treason For My Daily Bread was released under the name Mikhail Lebedev, the story behind the book and how it came to be published, are arguably almost as controversial as the book itself. I have never seen the book in my life, let alone read it. Taking that into consideration, I thought other Forum members might want to read these excerpts, which I recently discovered, and draw their own conclusions as to the reliability of the information contained therein.

Treason For My Daily Bread [Excerpts]


I was dozing in the hot October sunshine beside the hotel pool.

Too lazy to swim, I had taken a canvas chair while my wife had

gone to our room for an afternoon's rest. On the spur of the

moment we had booked an out-of-season package tour to Beirut and

Jerusalem in a BOAC VC-10 at a few days' notice and now here we

were staying in the nearly empty, but very comfortable, new

Atlantique Hotel. We had been in the hotel for five days and in

two days time we were due to move on to Jerusalem for the second

part of our holiday.

At first I was unaware of him, but the face of him as he settled

himself aroused me from my half-sleep. "Excuse me," he said, and

I looked up and saw a rather shabbily dressed man of medium

height and of a very ordinary appearance. He looked tired-worn

out, in fact-and I felt sorry for him. He spoke in English but

with a foreign accent which I found it hard to place. "You are a

publisher?" he asked. How he could have known this I had no

idea, but I had completed a debarkation card for the Lebanon

immigration on arrival and I had called, as a matter of courtesy,

at the UNESCO offices the previous day. I replied that, Yes, I

was a publisher of science reference books. At this he looked a

little doubtful but quickly recovered himself and asked me if I

would be interested in buying a manuscript from him. In my forty

years in business I have published numerous books, from-detective

stories by Agatha Christie to a treatise on penicillin by Sir

Alexander Fleming and I have, of necessity, rejected hundreds of

proposals for books by lesser authorities. It was not a

difficult decision, therefore, to tell my companion that it was

most unlikely that my firm would be interested in his manuscript,

but I was awake now and not unwilling to engage in a little


I had a closer look at the man beside me. I am not good, as is

my wife, at judging people's ages but he seemed to me to be well

into his sixties and looked, I remember thinking, as if he could

do with a good meal.

He told me his name was Lebedev and that he had written the story

and was in need of the money as the Intra Bank, where he kept

what little he possessed, had suspended payments. A waiter was

passing and I ordered tea. When it came he ate the biscuits -and

little cakes as if he needed the food, but he had already started

to tell me his life story. I liked the man and let him run on; I

was interested and the recital of his experiences had begun to

fascinate me. We sat in the lessening sun for an hour or two

while he told me his story. He seemed glad to have somebody to

talk to about it. I had a few hundred Lebanese pounds on me,

equivalent to less than a fiver, and I offered him this sum

because, frankly, I thought he needed it. He showed no

embarrassment as he took the money and promised. to return the

following morning with his manuscript.

My wife wanted to go to a shop she had seen a day or two

previously, so it was arranged that the taxi driver who had

elected himself our private chauffeur for the week would take her

the mile or so to the shopping center and that she would walk

back along the sea road.

When my visitor of the previous evening arrived at the hotel he

carried with him a bulky parcel which proved to be his

manuscript. I had time to think over what I would do and had

decided that I would offer him the equivalent in Lebanon money of

about 50 pounds in sterling and see when I returned to London if

I could interest another publisher in his story. I cannot say I

was really hopeful of doing anything with the manuscript,

although I had most certainly been intrigued with the story that

he had told me the previous evening. I had with me a few

American Express travellers' cheques left over from my last trip

to New York and I cashed several of these at the hotel desk. I

explained to Mr Lebedev that this was all I could advance him due

to the strict currency restrictions then in force. He seemed

quite satisfied to hand over his package and more than eager to

take the notes I offered. I remember wondering if the package

contained anything of value but I knew no German and had no means

of checking his manuscript. When I asked him for his address he

remained silent for a time and then said he was moving about but

that I could contact him at an address in Tripoli which he gave

me. I said Goodbye and told him I would write.

On my return to London I was busy with the letters and other

things that had accumulated on my desk during my holiday and for

the moment forgot about the manuscript. However, a few weeks

later at the beginning of 1967 1 sent the whole package to a

German-speaking friend and asked him to look at the manuscript

and let me have his opinion. The report was that this was a most

interesting manuscript but that it would require both translation

into English and a considerable amount of editing and re-address

in Tripoli but there was no reply and the pressure of other work

drove the matter from my mind. Then at the beginning of April

the letter was returned by the post office stamped 'Inconnu'. I

therefore decided to write a letter in French addressed to the

occupier of the house where Mr Lebedev had said I could contact

him. I enclosed a reply coupon which I thought might induce a

response. Again the weeks went by and eventually in the late

summer a letter arrived by sea mail but all it said was that the

writer, who did not sign his name, had no knowledge of any Mr

Lebedev and that he was certainly not living at his house.

This seemed to bring the matter to a close, but during that

winter of 1968 1 gave the manuscript to an author friend of mine

and suggested that if he could re-write the book I might be able

to find a publisher. Occasionally I saw my friend and he assured

me that the book was making progress. Then, it must have been

around a year later, he telephoned me to say he had a new job and

was working too long hours to be able to give any attention to

the book. He was terribly sorry but would I forgive him and

might he return the manuscript? I could only say Yes, and once

again I had the package on my desk, but now it was twice the size

as it had an English translation with it.

I have always had a great interest in the history of the game of

lawn tennis and in the spring of 1970 1 was in contact with a Mr.

Stanton in Birmingham regarding an article he had written for the

Birmingham Post in which he mentioned some lawn tennis papers

that were in the Birmingham Reference Library. I arranged to

meet Bill Stanton in the Midland Hotel in Birmingham, and after

we had dinner together we sat in the lounge over coffee and

discussed this and that as our main business was at an end. I

remember that he had got up to go and was thanking me for a

pleasant evening when, for no good reason, I asked him what he

thought of the Kennedy assassination. He replied that he did not

believe in the official story but really knew very little about

the subject.

I then asked him if he would be interested in reading the

autobiography of a man closely connected with it, with the object

of re-writing the manuscript for publication. Yes, he said, he

would very much like to see it.

And that is how this book came to be written and re-written.

Mikhail Lebedev seems to have vanished but if he should by chance

read this book, or if any reader knows of his present

whereabouts, I may be easily contacted at my home in Guernsey. A

great deal of checking and cross-checking has been done while the

manuscript was being prepared for publication. Quite a number of

very obvious errors have been discovered and corrected, but a

great many points, however, cannot be checked or, in a number of

cases, even explained. It is to be assumed that the writer,

recording events so long after many of them took place, relied to

a large extent upon his memory of the incidents-and had little

opportunity to confirm his remembrance of the facts. The reader

may accept Mr. Lebedev's story or not as he chooses. But it has

to be said that in no material detail that could be checked has

his story failed to stand up.

Summer 1974

T. F. H.

More than two years have passed since I wrote the above. Mikhail

Lebedev's book was received with enthusiasm by one of the larger

London publishing houses but almost immediately economic

depression and severe inflation hit the country.

The result was that publication of the book was first held up and

then could not be justified unless an American edition were

possible. No American publisher, or rather none of those to whom

the typescript was sent, would publish it. Maybe such a decision

was reasonable on economic grounds (a book of this length might

not be altogether welcome in such stringent times; maybe it was

thought prudent to keep clear of a book with such political

implications. I make no judgement. But the book is now being

published under a little known imprint and no American edition at

the moment seems likely. It remains only for me to say that the

title is not Mikhail Lebedev's: his manuscript, whatever the

reason, had no title. Treason-for my daily bread is the

Publisher's title but I think aptly describes the life of the


Autumn 1976

T. F. H.


Part I The Russian pg. 11

Part 11 The German pg. 111

Part Ill The Exile pg. 237

Part IV The American pg. 339

Postscript pg. 403



It's almost fifty years ago, but I can see her now, with her

shawl pulled tight about her head, and her finger wagging.

"Mikhail! Listen to me!"

But she had to pull my face round so that she could look into my

eyes, for as usual I had more important matters in hand. "You're

not to go out today! Not at all! Do you understand?"

I nodded. "Well?"

This time I said yes, I understood.

"Albrecht will be coming in, I shouldn't wonder, to give you a

lesson. There's a piece of black bread in the cupboard there,

and there's water in the barrel. "

And with a final admonitory wag of her finger she was gone.

I never saw her again.

About three o'clock, with the daylight fast fading, Albrecht came

in, his whole body alive with some ill-concealed excitement;

Things were coming to the boil, he said. He seemed to find it

difficult to bring himself to sit down for more than a few

moments at a time, and every now and again he clucked and

chuckled at his own thoughts.

Finally he came down to earth, and asked me with a smile where my

mother was.

"Out," I replied. "She went out this morning about nine o'clock

-before it was light. "

The smile vanished from his face. " So long? And she's not been


No, I said, she hadn't, but there was nothing at all new in that.

She was often gone for hours, shuffling along in the kvost, one

of the never ending queues in which the St Petersburg of that day

seemed to specialize.

Albrecht made a poor show of being reassured. Though I was only

some twelve years old at the time, I could see that he was now as

much on tenterhooks as when he had arrived, but for a quite

different reason. Time after time he got up and went out into

the street to look for her.

Finally, he said, "Mikhail, I've got to go out and leave you for

a while.

I'll try not to be too long. Don't open the door to anyone, see?

Well, unless it's soldiers. They might come searching for-well,

never mind that. There's nothing for them to find here, and they

won't hurt you if you do just as they say. You understand?"

This time I replied. There was no mistaking the air of grave

concern in Albrecht's face.

As he opened the door, there came the distant rattle of gunfire.

To me it had become a commonplace sound in the past few days, but

for Albrecht it seemed to be charged with some special meaning.

He nodded briefly to me and went out, making a sign to me to

fasten the door securely when he was gone.

It was clear that there would be no lesson today. As the evening

wore on I grew tired of the solitude and my idle games, and

decided it was time for bed. At least I should be warm there.

From time to time I had heard the sound of gunfire. Then, almost

as soon as I had decided to roll myself up for steep there came a

knock at the door, and with it the comforting sound of Albrecht's

voice. "Mikhail! It's me! Albrecht! "

I let him in and looked at him expectantly. But he would say

nothing of his mission that evening, only telling me rather

brusquely to get off to bed.

And I did, and slept soundly. But, looking back, I imagine I was

the only one to sleep that night in that room.

I didn't know it then, but that day I had lost my second parent

in a revolution.

I was born in St Petersburg in 1905 in the Vyborg Quarter. The

Vyborg Quarter. You wouldn't put it up for sale as a desirable

residential area. Not in 1905, at any rate, though they tell me

it's changed a lot since I was there.

Everybody, but everybody, in the Quarter was poor, even the small

traders. Not genteelly poor, but dirt poor. Two out of every

three of the wretched inhabitants of the Quarter were peasants

who had exchanged the meager fare of the countryside for a

different fare, no less meager, in the capital. They starved,

they died an early death, or they took to going back to the

country every autumn, to reappear in the spring like so many

migrant flocks of birds. Though surely no birds ever looked as

ill-fed as these grey-faced country folk.

I used to see these peasants straggling down Nevsky Prospect,

crowds of them, shuffling down to their rat-holes in the

Alexander Nevsky ward. And for years I nursed the delusion that

this sort of thing went on in every capital in the world-an

unchanging part of the unchanging pattern of the seasons.

I don't suppose that in these conditions the older folk got much

out of life, but, curiously enough, I don't recall that we

children were conscious of going short of fun. True,'there were

times when it was cold, very @old, and there were times when we

went hungry, when the queue melted away because whatever it was

that they were queueing for had all gone.

And yet it's not the cold and the hunger that I recall. It's the

fun. One of those odd inconsequential memories of childhood

which always brings back those days in the old Red Capital is of

my running along the side of the canal, dragging a stick along

the railings. I don't recall how old I was,. and I can't

remember the street-there were many streets with such railings in

the old town-but I can feel now the delightful vibration in my

arm. There were three or four of us at it at the same time, and

the noise we were making was either pleasant or painful according

to whether you were giving or getting it. I can see, too, the

figure chasing after us in his uniform, with his sword

threatening to trip him up at every step-the half policeman,

half-soldier, whose duty it was to keep law and order in the

streets. He had little hope of catching us; we were old hands at

dodging the law almost as soon as we left the breast.

And not only the police. There wasn't a door-keeper in the city

who didn't hate the sight of us. They were supposed to look

after the houseyards, but few of them could leave it at that.

They had to be sniffing into every corner like so many mongrels,

doing the dirty work for the police, copper's narks to a man.

But they found it even harder to lay us by the heels than did the

police, for they were tied to their bases, especially when the

thermometer went below ten degrees of frost, and they were

obliged to tend the street-fires.

Not that my mother ever allowed me to run completely wild. She

had a streak of respectability in her nature as wide as the Neva,

and she never resigned herself to her poverty so far as to throw

in the social towel, as so many of her neighbors had done, I can

hear her now, going on in that strange harsh German voice.

Oh, she was Russian all right, born and bred. Well, not 'born'

exactly. Her mother came of German stock like my father, and

she'd been brought up in a Teutonic way of life which must have

been about as comfortable as sleeping on nails. But the

upbringing held, and she never gave up asserting her Germanness

and her conviction that all Russians were but one step removed

from barbarism. She even continued in it during the war when-but

for Albrecht's good offices-it might well have cost her her life

or at the least her freedom.

One of her most stubborn habits was her refusal to speak Russian,

at least within the home. I suppose it gave her a feeling that

she had not totally given in to her wretched situation. At all

events, the only Russian I heard was from the neighbors or from

people in the street. At home I had to speak German, and I did,

even after the day she went out, never to return.

My father? I never knew him. He died before I was born. Years

later, my uncle Pyotr told me the whole story. Both my parents,

it seems, were born in Minsk, where my father's family had a

prospering business, the other half of which was in Dresden. I

believe there was more than a hint of scandal about their sudden

marriage and flight to St Petersburg. Uncle Pyotr hinted at it

several times, but Aunt Katya would always silence him at once.

She was as hungry for respectability as my mother, though she was

as Russian as cabbage soup.

My parents picked a bad time to come to St Petersburg. The

struggle between those who were grinding the faces of the poor

and those who were getting their faces ground was coming close to

boiling point, as it has done so often in Russia's history. In

the summer of 1904 the country was in greater turmoil than ever,

with strife and unrest running the gamut from strikes at the one

end to attempts at assassination at the other. And, since St

Petersburg could always be counted on to simmer, even when the

rest of the country was at peace, the city was no place for a

honeymoon in that year of grace.

So, if my parents hoped to find the streets of the city

paved, with gold they were sadly disillusioned as I recall, they

weren't all that well-paved ever, and certainly gold was the last

thing a poor man was likely to pick up just then. There wasn't

even much work to be had, and what there was earned wretched pay.

My father must have been sorely tempted to sink his pride, and

write to my grandparents for help, but-if Uncle Pyotr was to be

believed-he never did. There is no doubt that Grandmother would

have given him all she had, but Grandfather was made of sterner


But the poor were not without their champions, and the one my

father and his fellows chose to follow was one Father Gapon. (*)

He saw, or said he saw-I have some doubts about his integrity-the

wretchedness of the poor and thought to stir some compassion in

the bosoms of their masters.

The masters pinned their faith in other forces than words. They

didn't care how many prophets arose, so long as the poor did not

pay them too much heed and wended their way quietly and meekly to

their graves.

And the path my father chose led him and many of his fellows very

soon to that destination. He was one of the thousands who

swarmed up from the Vyborg Quarter, from the factories, from

Narva side, with Gapon at

(*) Historically, there is some doubt as to whether Capon was

genuinely a revolutionary, or a tool of the establishment. (Ed.)

"That place! Look!"

She stopped, and followed the line of my pointing arm. "Oh,

that! It's the Winter Palace!

I stood transfixed. She came back to me, took hold of my arm and

began to tug me along, saying, "Come on! No time for that

nonsense! "

Nonsense? It was different from my dream, but no less fine, no

less magical, with its stately pillars, its high arched windows,

and the statues along the edge of the roof.

So this was where my father had died, here by the shore of the


I felt an even fiercer pride in his memory. For me he had died

in a noble cause, the cause of -- well, I wasn't altogether sure

what it was. But in the manner of his death, and in the

knowledge of my kinship with him I became aware of a sense of

continuity. His blood ran in my veins. I made up my mind to

follow in his footsteps-how, I did not quite know.

I soon learned to keep this vow to myself, for my mother laughed

it to scorn. Fortunately there were other influences in my life,

not the least of which was Albrecht, who came into my life, I

suppose, a year or two after I had seen the Winter Palace.

I have long accepted that, but for the influence of this kindly

man, my mother and I would have got short shrift from the

neighbors, especially after the war came along, and things

German began to stink in the nostrils of all patriotic Russians.

Albrecht was known to be a true friend to all the workers in the

neighborhood, and any friend of Albrecht's shared in the esteem

he enjoyed.

I have another and more potent reason to be grateful to Albrecht.

Where many Russian boys in those turbulent days got little or no

formal schooling, Albrecht saw to mine. I imagine that he did

this in return for the domestic chores which my mother did for

him. She greeted the idea with enthusiasm, of course. What more

respectable than a man of learning?

I don't recall that I ever resented the lessons, despite the

restrictions on freedom, which other boys did not suffer.

Albrecht was a natural teacher -I see that now-and a man of wide

reading. Rumor had it that he had fled from Germany just in

time to avoid imprisonment for his freethinking ways. He was a

young man at the time, it was said, and had never gone back. Had

they known the real truth they would have had something to cluck

over, but it was a very long time before I learnt it myself.

I became the vessel for the outpouring of his free-thought, and I

believe he got something for what he gave. At all events he once

broke off in the middle of a lesson to say to me, "Mikhail, you

are very fortunate. You have a good brain-perhaps a very good

brain. It strikes sparks out of mine.

That's good!

I realized much later how lonely a life Albrecht had led among

his neighbors. There were not many who could have struck

sparks out of that fine brain.

He seemed to enjoy the lessons he gave me, and few children will

not respond to that enjoyment. Before long I was enjoying them,


"The man without learning", lie once said, "has no greater enemy

than himself. Look at the ignorant people here in St Petersburg-

Petrograd (*), ach, I'll never get used to that new-fangled

name-they should read what their masters are saying. They should

learn. Then they would know that the bourgeoisie would rather

have the Germans here than the revolutionaries. You see, if the

people would only read they would know their real enemies. Ach,

Caesar, Kaiser, Tsar-it's all the same word. Did you know that?"

And we were off on the lesson again. Now I never had known

that, until Albrecht told me. He would sit there with his hands

clasped round one of his knees, and the talk would simply Row out

of him. And such marvelous talk often above my head, but always

making me reach out.

Actually, he wasn't altogether fair about the ordinary folk of

the city. Even I could see that. It seemed that everyone at the

time was learning to read. All the politics in the air had

something to-do with it, I suppose.

Albrecht was careful to keep off that subject, however, when

mother was around. She was all for the lessons, but she would

never have recognized any useful connection between them. and

politics. To her, politics' meant strikes, and house-searches,

and dvorniks crawling to the police with denunciations against

decent folk, just to pay off some small grudge. So, as she

couldn't stop it, she did her best to ignore its existence. Only

a person like my mother would have tried to ignore politics in

the Petrograd of that day. It was like floating in the middle of

the ocean, and trying to ignore the water.

The city seethed with unrest, which finally came to the boil in

late 1917. Whether it was courage or plain pigheadedness on her

part I'm still not sure, but not even the street fighting could

keep her from going about her life just as she had always done,

And in the end it was this-stupidity, ignorance, sense of duty,

call it what you will-which was the death of her. For we finally

had to concede that she must have met her end in that day's

street fighting.

If I had actually seen her dead, I might have felt differently.

I don't know. But, as day succeeded day without news of her, it

was as if she had

(*)The name was changed to Petrograd in 1914, and to Leningrad

after the Revolution. (Ed.)



My uncle used to talk about that journey from Petrograd to Minsk

as one of the landmarks of his life. Aunt Katya always spoke of

it as if it had been a nightmare-and I suppose for her it was.

I enjoyed it, every minute almost. True, we seemed to spend more

time sitting on the ground beside the track than sitting inside a

train. And we did end the journey in a very different train from

the one we had started off in. And there had been a number of

trains between. And it did take a very, very long time. But I

was used to a rougher life than theirs, and for me the whole

affair was a glorious lark.

When at last we arrived in Minsk, I discovered something which

perhaps I should have guessed already-that Uncle Pyotr and Aunt

Katya were quite well-to-do. Uncle was in the family business-

some sort of merchanting, I gathered-and the business had

prospered, even when the German end of it had been cut off by the

war for a time. He used to worry about it at times, did Uncle

Pyotr. The business, I mean. Worrying about war and revolution

he left to women.

Before long, though, he had cause for more anxiety. As the

Revolution stumbled on its chaotic way, it became self-evident

that-if the Reds came out on top-it might not altogether be a

good thing for the business. Uncle and his entrepreneurial kind

might get very short commons then.

For the moment he was doing very well, even if most of his

transactions were now in barter. And, though I was not yet

fourteen, and quite foreign to the world of buying and selling, I

could see that the trinkets and jewels he was taking in exchange

for bread and potatoes were worth a lot more than the food. But

I suppose it all depends on how hungry you are.

Then one night, early that summer, I woke to find a figure

bending over me and my shoulder being shaken.

"Mikhail! Mikhail! Come on! Get up!

I sat up, rubbing my eyes.

"Who is it?"




Sayeed's people had thought of everything, it seemed, or they had

had some most explicit instructions. In addition to the

necessary documents in the envelope, there was a small case on

the seat beside me which proved on examination to contain

essential toilet articles, and a larger case on the next seat. I

learned from the stewardess that my 'baggage' had been brought

aboard just before my arrival.

The presence of such impedimenta seemed to restore my identity to

me. I no longer felt quite so keenly the hunted sensation which

had been with me since my escape at the airport. It helped, too,

to have the stewardess address me as Herr Schneider. I found her

use of the name, after so long an interval since I had last heard

it, very strange; it was almost as if I were moving in a dream of

past events.

I looked through the papers in search of further information as

to my identity. I was indeed Herr Schneider, but now no longer a

German citizen. It seemed that this Herr Schneider was a Swiss

civil engineer, connected in some way with water resources,

pumps, dams, and the like -about all of which I knew little

enough, my knowledge of such engineering being limited to the

arts of bridge-building for strictly military purposes. And as

for dams, I knew how to destroy one with the right charge of

explosive placed where its effect would be greatest, but my

knowledge of building them was non-existent.

The sight of my own face staring up at me, a face disconcertingly

some sixteen years younger, gave me a momentary qualm. Clearly,

I was documented in the Mufti's intelligence files. I had a

twinge of suspicion that perhaps after all Sayeed had not been

acting on my behalf quite as I had supposed and he had seemed to

imply, but I pushed the thought away at once. Whatever his

motives might have been, I was putting distance between myself

and my pursuers at a comforting rate. And I had almost certainly

given every one of them the slip.

Unless-? I took a careful look at every one of my fellow-

passengers on my way to and from the lavatory, looking keenly for

a familiar face. But they all-with the exception of one woman

with two small children -looked much as I did, sober-suited

business men who might have been in anything from cosmetics to

power stations. Nor did I find one who seemed to show the

faintest interest in me, and not one of them seemed to be at all

aware of my close scrutiny.

But that, I reasoned, proved nothing at all; if any one of the

passengers was indeed interested in me, he would have to be an

absolute beginner to give any outward sign of it especially in

the kind of situation where it is unusual for strangers to speak

to each other and it was unlikely that those who sought me would

send beginners on the assignment. It would pay me to keep to

myself, so that it such an observer wanted to get any closer he

would be obliged to thrust his attention on me and thus arouse my

suspicions. More than that, the last thing I wanted was to be

drawn into a possible discussion on civil engineering, Swiss or


Throughout the flight, the feeling of relief increased with every

hour. It was almost as if an actual burden was slowly being

lifted from my shoulders. When I finally stepped on to

Paraguayan soil I felt like a free man for the first time since I

had crossed the Russian frontier with Aunt Katya more than thirty

years before. I realized that I had not given her much thought,

except fleetingly, for a very long time. Now, with the return of

that time, I could not help wondering if her declining years in

her native land had been all that she had hoped. A good thing

she was dead, and resting in the soil for which she had longed.

Momentarily it came over me that there was no resting place for

me above ground. Without roots, without a country to which I now

felt I owed any allegiance, without family or friends, it was

unlikely that I should be able to settle anywhere for very long.

If, as I suspected, my masters desired my return to Soviet Russia

even more fervently than my aunt had desired hers, they would be

unlikely to give up the search until their object had been

achieved. Then, I thought grimly, I should soon be joining Aunt


Suddenly, the thought of my solitary state was unbearable. It

seemed to me that I might have borne it had I not been aware of

the spreading of the net for me. It could only be a matter of

time until I was taken in its toils again. My one hope was to

keep on the move-and in the longer term to connect with Bormann


Installed in one of Asuncion's few hotels, I had leisure to weigh

these thoughts, and to probe my motives. In every truth, I had

little stomach for Bormann's service again. I mistrusted him as

much as I mistrusted the Mufti, and would serve him with as

little relish. I had no great opinion of his loyalty to those

who served him; indeed, I counted more on his hatred of things

Russian in my plans to persuade him to help me than I counted on

my past services to him. I felt, with justice, that the reminder

of such services would be more likely to prompt embarrassment in

him than thoughts of reward. I went in to my meal with a spirit

which was far from soaring.

As I ate, I looked round the dining-room with the cautious

scrutiny which comes with experience. My eyes rested on a

familiar face-one of my fellow-passengers from the aircraft. I

recalled that he had gone down the steps just in front of me. He

caught my eye, and his own eyes moved away at once.

It was too quickly done.

Had his glance rested for a slightly longer moment, no suspicion

would have crossed my mind. I could then have believed in the

lack of interest he was now striving to portray. But that look

had been too short for ignorance and not long enough for casual


I had a sudden chill in the region of the navel that told me that

here was danger.

I finished my meal in leisurely fashion, and without looking

again in his direction. Then I strolled out of the hotel. It

was essential to learn if my first suspicion had been

well-founded, whether his presence here was by chance or design.

It took me some thirty minutes to establish which it was, and

then only after I had returned to the hotel. He was nowhere in


I took up a position near to the door and waited. I had not seen

him at all during my walk, but if he now came through the door it

would help to reinforce that first suspicion, even if it did not

wholly justify it.

Sure enough, he came through the same door which I had used some

two minutes before, and I could not avoid a small feeling of

sympathy for his dilemma. He would know that, if I had any

suspicion of him, I should do exactly what I was now doing-wait

for his return. I could fairly see him standing in the street

outside and debating which door to use to reenter the hotel. He

had gambled and lost. Had he come through the rear door, I

should have had all to do again. But this return, following on

my own, was a suspicion tested and almost proven. And if he had

become aware that I was suspicious he would now be cursing his


For the next twenty-four hours he marked me no more closely than

I marked him, and at the end of that time I was in doubt no

longer. I knew now that I was under surveillance-and by a


My task, already difficult enough, now began to look impossible.

How could I be expected to seek out a man I did not even know

whilst being watched by another of whose mission and motives I

was ignorant? I spent a long time, before I finally turned off

the light that night, in seeking some way out of this situation.

In the end I decided that my best strategy was first to throw him

off the scent, and then leave Asuncion, at least for a short

time, in the hope that he would follow. If I succeeded in the

first, he would have no idea of my next resting place and might

be persuaded to stay away from the capital long enough for my

purpose. So the plan took shape, until I was satisfied that I

had it right. Then I slept.

I began next morning by making enquiries of the hotel staff about

times of trains, giving the impression that I was interested in

seeing something of their country, but not at all fond of

traveling rough. These enquiries led, naturally enough, to the

purchase of a ticket for Encarnacion, on the southern border of

the country-ideal for my purpose, since the destination was bound

to give rise to speculation, should my pursuer discover it. I

wanted very much to give the impression that I had become aware

of his surveillance, and had made a bolt for it.

With these plans set in train, I now had to lose him, whilst also

giving the impression which I desired. Setting off a full hour

before the time of the train's departure, I first of all gave a

clumsy impression of a man who knows he is being followed, and

then set about the much harder task of really throwing him off

the scent. I played every trick I knew to shake him off. When I

finally made my way to the station, I called at the hotel first

to pick up my luggage and check out, knowing full well that when

he finally gave up he would certainly return to base and begin

making enquiries there.

Arrived at the station, I left my heavier case, with the

instruction to keep it in safe custody until I returned, Then I

made my way to the platform and remained there until the train

actually began to move. It was none too easy in the gathering

dusk to see whether anyone had boarded the train at the last

moment, but I thought not. I did not begin to relax until the

station had slipped away behind me in the gloom.

Some twenty or thirty miles down the line, I left the train at a

place called Paraguari, and set off at once on the weary trudge

back to Asuncion. It was a fair assumption that my shadow would

already have discovered from the hotel staff that I had checked

out, and it was more than likely, having in mind Paraguay's

rather meager communications system, that he would make the

railway station an early target for his enquiries. It would not

take him long to discover that I had bought a ticket for

Encarnacion; I thought it unlikely that he would make enquiries

about left luggage. Why should he?

I was none too keen on traveling by night over unknown territory,

but the terrain did not seem hostile and it was no new experience

for me, in any case. The only real cause for fear I had was that

my shadow might have hired some transport and come upon me making

my way back to Asuncion. But the walk, though it took most of

the night, was uneventful. The one or two vehicles which I saw

during the night gave ample warning of their approach, and I was

able to avoid being seen without any difficulty. I wondered at

the time whether my pursuer was in one of them. I could imagine

his discomfiture when he found that I had got away, and how it

would increase when he discovered that he would not be able to

follow me by train except at too long an interval of time. He

would be forced to find alternative transport, and if my luck

held would not discover that he had been tricked until he reached

Encarnaci6n, if indeed he discovered it then. And then I

remembered that he was the only shadow I was aware of, and that

for all I knew I should simply walk back into Asuncion for one of

his colleagues to take over.

I had abundant time on that walk back to ask myself what I was

going to do next. How to find a man who was just a name, coupled

with the name of a town? I decided to bank on the possibility

that he was a thoroughly respectable member of the community

whilst acting as a front for some clandestine organization-by no

means a new situation. Now, if I were looking for a German

business man in another country where would I begin to make

enquiries? Obviously at the German Embassy or the German

Consulate, whichever was the appropriate office in the town in

question. Stupid of me not to have thought of it before; if Dr.

Jung was persona non grata with his countrymen they would deny

all knowledge of him, but if he really were a person in good

standing in the community they would surely know.

Back in Asuncion, I collected my case from the station and booked

in at another hotel, an altogether quieter and less attractive

place but it would serve my purpose. I breakfasted and cleaned

myself up and set out to find the office which represented the

interests of the German Government. A brief telephone call was

answered by a voice which said that his chief was out but could

he be of assistance? This suited my purpose very well, since a

subordinate might well be more forthcoming than his superior if

properly approached. I made an appointment to see him in an

hour's time.

The young man who saw me was most anxious to be helpful, and I

suspected he was glad of anything which added a little interest

to what must have been a fairly uneventful life. I began by

introducing myself as a Swiss business man and pointed out that

since my immediate concern was with a German gentleman I had

thought they would probably be able to help me But would he

first recommend me to a good hotel, since I was far from pleased

with the one into which I had booked?

The request for help produced, as I had hoped, even more co-

operation from the young man. Yes, of course, he would be

pleased to recommend another hotel, though Asuncion was-not too

well blessed in that respect. Then I put to him my enquiry about

Dr. Jung.

His face at once took on a sort of closed look which was, despite

his obvious intention, totally revealing. He didn't recall the

name, he said. His chief might know, perhaps, but he would not

be back until the morrow. Would I care to telephone then?

I thanked him for his help, and promised to take up his

suggestion. As I left, I thought to myself that really the young

man's employer should teach his subordinate to play poker; I was

quite certain that the name of Dr. Jung had forcibly registered

with the young man who had just closed the door behind me. Back

at my hotel, I stayed indoors for the remainder of that day.

Nothing happened to alarm me.

The following morning, I rang the secretary as arranged. When he

heard my voice there was a brief pause, followed by a change in

the background noise in the ear-piece of the telephone. I

guessed that he had covered the mouthpiece at his end with his

hand. A moment or two later, he spoke in a guarded tone.

"Where are you staying, Herr Schneider?"

I told him. He made no comment on my choice.

"Would you be free at two o'clock this afternoon?"

I said yes, I would.

"Good! Dr. Jung's representative will call on you at that time.

I said it was Dr. Jung I wished to see, but I was talking to a

dead telephone.

The two men who asked for me at the reception desk looked more

like dance-hall bouncers than the genuine article. Typical

Sturmtruppen, I thought, and began to feel a trifle apprehensive.

But their manner as they approached was cordial enough.

"Herr Schneider?"


"The car is waiting, Herr Schneider. Would you come with us

There was no point in declining. I said I should of course be

happy to go along with them, and we left by the front entrance.

The car which stood waiting outside was a perfectly ordinary

limousine of the type which millionaires affect.

The rear door was opened from within and I bent forward. As I

lowered my head, a blindfold was slipped over it by unseen hand,

and I was pushed none too gently into the rear seat.

A voice at the side of me said, "So sorry, Herr Schneider. just a

sensible precaution, you understand?"



The blindfold remained in place for, I suppose, an hour or more.

It may Have been much less, but it seemed an age, for the

atmosphere inside the vehicle soon made conditions most

unpleasant as the heat and the smell of sweating bodies grew more

and more insistent. At length, long after I had convinced myself

that no man on earth could possibly have retained any idea of his

bearings or even if he had merely been traveling in circles, the

car stopped.

A few moments later I was half pulled, half pushed from behind

and all but fell from the car as I was being helped out. But the

hands which directed me, though strong, gave no sensation of

menace; indeed, they were surprisingly gentle. I was relieved to

notice that the hand which supported my elbow as I stumbled

carried no slightest suggestion of violence. If I had been taken

prisoner, I thought, these must be the most delicate gaolers in


My feet recognized cobbles beneath me, and then I was being led,

like a blind man and quite as gently as before, by the arm. I

heard a gate close behind me and the ground became less uneven.

And now I became aware of a new sound-the splash of a fountain or

the sound of running water, and my nostrils caught the scent of

flowers, A heavy exotic perfume. A step upwards, another door

closing behind me, and the smells and sounds were gone, to be

replaced by a monastic silence.

Hands fumbled with the blindfold whilst other hands turned me

fully around and held me firmly. The blindfold fell away, and

almost in the same moment I heard a door close behind me.

I had more than half expected to find myself blinded by the

sudden glare, but I realized at once that the room in which I was

now standing was heavily shaded against the sunlight.

In the gloom I could just make out that the room seemed to be

tastefully, if rather sparsely, furnished. Two or three

pictures, one large vase on a wooden chest, a monastic rather

than a domestic setting. But whoever occupied such a room, he

was not occupying it now.

Diagonally to my left, a door opened and the shaft of sunlight

turned the figure framed in the doorway into a silhouette.

Against the glare it was quite impossible to distinguish the

man's features.

I took a step forward, and a voice in German ordered me to stay

where I was. There was something familiar about the voice, but I

could not say who was its owner.

The voice continued, "Who are you? And what do you want?"

It was clearly his native tongue, I thought, and again was

certain that I had heard the sound before, but could not put a

name to him. It was not Martin Bormann's voice at all events.

"My name will mean nothing to you, " I replied, "but the man I

wish to find will know it. "

"The man you are looking for is not here."

"How do you know that?" I asked.

He closed the door behind him with his heel, and the room took

on its first deeply-shaded appearance. I was more certain than

ever that I knew that voice, and even his figure began to look


"We know where he is," he said. "A great many people are

looking for him besides you. It is not to be wondered at-anyone

who finds him will be rich. For a time, anyway.

"I've nothing to fear from him," I said. "Nor he from me."

There was a pause, before he replied, "That remains to be seen.

"Take me to him, then," I said.


The tone was cool, but decisive.

"There is paper and a pen on the chest to your right," the voice

said. "Write your name, and your message."

In the half-light I found the paper and pen, and wrote simply

'Mikhail Lebedev'. Then on impulse I added 'Hans Schneider' and


I picked up the paper to hand it to him, but he said at once,

"Leave it there. That is all! "

He half-turned and opened the door behind him, and again he was

silhouetted against the sunlight. Behind his figure I caught

sight of a pleasant garden. Then the door closed, and I was

alone again.

Before I could decide whether to leave by the same door, I heard

a sound behind me, the creak of a door opening. A voice said,

"Remain quite still, and do not turn around."

The next moment I felt, rather than heard, a movement behind me,

and the blindfold was slipped on again without another word being

spoken. Once again I was directed by unseen hands, and again I

was conscious of the sound of falling water and the smell of

flowers. Then I was stumbling inside the car again.

But I was now no longer so uncertain as I had been. For as I

took my seat in the car, that voice and the silhouetted figure

fitted together in my mind and I knew beyond all doubt the

identity of the man to whom I had been speaking-a man whom I had

not seen for almost twenty years, and then only briefly.

The last time I had seen him had been in a room where one wall

carried a large map, free of any markings. He had shaken hands

first with me and then with Martin Bormann. A room in Flensburg.

And I recalled that his last words had been 'Auf wiedersehen!'

And I wondered if he had recognized me.

As I left the car, feeling for my footing, the blindfold was

slipped off. Before I could turn or accustom myself to the

sudden glare of the light I heard the car speed away behind me.

I was back at the hotel.

Back in my room I weighed the events of the afternoon.

Logically, the meeting seemed to have been a failure, but the

experience had merely served to convince me that Sayeed had

pointed me in the right direction. I now felt certain that it

was only a matter of time before I met Martin Bormann again.

My conviction was sorely tested. A week went by with no hint or

sign from them. I now had the further anxiety that my unknown

pursuer might be back in Asuncion, aware that he had been tricked

and accordingly all the more determined not to let me give him

the slip again. I had other causes for anxiety, not the least of

which was the knowledge that my funds would not last for ever.

My supply of traveller's cheques had supported me so far, but

they would not last indefinitely without replenishment, and that

was now out of the question-unless I could contact Martin

Bormann. And there was nothing I could do to hasten that event.

I told myself not to be impatient. I knew that they would be

checking on my every action, trying to discover if I had come

alone or in company, and so on. It would all take time, and they

had more of that than I had.

I did my best to fill the idle hours with reading, sketching, and

the occasional stroll through the quieter streets of the capital,

where it would be easier to ascertain if I was still being

followed. But I saw no sign of any surveillance, and did not

know whether to be pleased or not.

Even in my preoccupation with my personal anxieties, I could not

help being rather taken with these rough-cobbled byways, the

single-story houses and the attractive gardens. In an odd way

they reminded me of my native land-not that the scene at all

resembled the rural Russian landscape in any particular way, but

there was about it that vague old-world air that I still

associate with Russia. One has the feeling that time lodged

there a hundred years ago and has not moved on.

Often I heard the splash of a fountain as I had heard it that

afternoon, and the thought struck me that, for all I knew, I was

standing within yards of the room to which I had been taken. I

tried to match the paths and gardens with the vague memories of

that event, but to no avail. The little I could recall would

have fitted any one of a hundred places.

I abandoned the futile search, and gave myself up to

sight-seeing, admiring the superb flowing carriage of the Indian

women as they swayed by with the most enormous loads on their

heads, loads which hardly seemed to need a supporting hand.

Sometimes I made my way to the river to watch the fishermen at

work; my previous knowledge of South America had been a vague

impression of limitless jungle, alligators, piranha fish and

similar lethal objects, but if these fishermen had ever heard of

such things they seemed to regard them as dangers of no account.

Another week went by, and my anxiety increased with the days. I

even began to ask myself whether a man might perhaps decide to

settle down here, cultivate a beard and some crops, and melt into

the landscape.

But the time of speculation was almost at an end.

I was sitting one afternoon in the lounge of the hotel, with my

eye on the door as usual, when it opened and a stranger entered.

He crossed directly to where I was seated, and sat down with his

back to the door through which he had come. He launched out at

once in German in a tone which had one or two heads turning in

our direction in some annoyance. But, after this first gesture,

the heads turned away again and no one seemed to bother to

listen. If that was his intention, I thought, it was a most

unusual bit of intelligence tactics.

Unfortunately, he bellowed, it was not possible to make immediate

arrangements for me to see the gentleman I had wished to see, but

he wished to make suitable arrangements and had asked him, the

loudspeaker, to make these. But no doubt I would understand that

a meeting at the present time might prove unprofitable, and

perhaps even embarrassing. Then he lowered his voice to an

ordinary speaking tone and said, "After all, it might be that

your employers were not entirely well-intentioned towards the

gentleman in question, you understand?"

I began a mild protest, but I might as well have tried to stop

the tide from coming in. He simply ignored my remark and went on

speaking as though he had never stopped. Of course, he would

take note of any credentials I might have, but then they would be

capable of undergoing any scrutiny in any case, hein? It was not

that the gentleman in question was under any political

constraint, you understand, merely that he wished to avoid

possible embarrassment. You understand? He was clearly very

insistent that I should understand.

I pointed out, when I could get a word in, that I was far from

being able to understand. I found the situation most disturbing,

I said. It was not as if I had come upon a particular mission,

merely to renew a contact with the gentleman which was of some

years standing. He would understand that I had insufficient

funds for a lengthy stay in the country, and I had rather counted

on making some accommodation with the gentleman. No doubt he in

his turn would understand that.

To an observer the impression would certainly have been that of a

business man anxious to bring about an interview with a client

who was not anxious to make an appointment. But I was reading

the situation and the implications which lay. behind the

apparently innocent statements directed at me. Clearly, my visit

was embarrassing to Bormann, but not on account of anything the

Paraguayan authorities might feel about it. No, what Bormann and

his entourage feared was that I might be merely an advance party-

but for whom? He had enemies in plenty. To liquidate me would

be a stupid thing to do, since it would remove any uncertainty in

the minds of those enemies or at least would draw the main forces

down upon his hide-out. Then again, I might have information

which would be of use to him, but it would perhaps be wiser to

dispense with it rather than risk a meeting. On the other hand,

he could hardly snub me and allow me to go away empty-handed

except for some rather highly-charged information as to his


The stranger leaned forward and said that I must not be under any

misapprehension. The gentleman in question was perfectly

willing, even anxious, to see that I had suitable employment. He

himself as the bearer was empowered to offer me reasonable

remuneration and generous expenses, if I were willing to accept

such employment. I had only to agree, and I should receive an

immediate advance, and further instructions as to my duties in

the course of a day or two.

I replied that I would certainly be prepared to consider such an

offer, whereupon he rose, gave me a perfunctory bow, and left.

I was now convinced that Bormann was here or hereabouts, probably

at no great distance. It was revealing to see how freely his

minions moved about the capital; I would not have believed that

an agent would discuss matters of such weight without a few more

obvious precautions. This one had failed to establish that I was

the man he wanted. He had made no attempt to hide his presence

or his words from curious eyes or ears. He had sat with his back

to the door, a cardinal offence in an agent, since he could not

possibly have known whether he was observed by a late-comer.

Either Bormann's henchmen were a bunch of amateurs, or they were

confident that they were working in an environment where they had

nothing to fear. And I could not believe that Bormann would

employ amateurs. Nor could I believe that I had not been under

observation by his staff ever since I had made my presence known.

And yet I had not been aware of it, which spoke of a certain

professionalism on their part especially as I had been

particularly on the qui-vive for my unknown shadow. Perhaps, on

mature consideration, the one I had just met had been thoroughly

professional and his behavior had merely been more subtle than I

had given him credit for.

If his act had really been just that, it had clearly been

successful. I remained sitting where I was after he had, left,

and scrutinized everyone in the lounge. No one left for over two

minutes, by which time he would have put plenty of distance

between himself and the hotel. But there was more. As he went

out, another man entered by the same door and stationed himself

casually near it. There was little doubt that anyone who had

approached the door too soon would have been detained just long

enough with a courteous enquiry-as long as it took for their man

to get safely away.

Twenty-four hours later-a day when I did not set foot outside the

hotel -the same intermediary came into the lounge, greeted me

like an old friend, and began to engage me in what seemed to be

idle chat. Then he drew my attention to something he had seen in

the newspaper he was carrying, and pointed it out to me, laughing

as he did so. And, of course, I laughed too.

Written on the sheet to which he pointed were the words 'Please

hand me your papers'. Then he pressed the paper upon me as if to

insist that I should read it at my leisure. I realized at once

what he was about, and took the paper from him whilst still

apparently seeking more information about the item in question.

He leaned over and continued the conversation. He was sure I

would find it interesting.

I reached in my pockets as if in search of cigarettes, and made

use of the opportunity to place my papers inside the newspaper.

He pressed his own cigarettes upon me, but I shook my head and

said I preferred my own and would get them from my room.

When I returned, we had another animated discussion on the

contents of the newspaper during which time my papers were

returned to me along with an accompanying envelope. There was

further discussion about the paper, but he waved it away and I

dropped it into the waste-bin.

After he had left, I was careful to stay put for a sufficient

time before going to my room. It was as I had supposed. The

envelope contained all the necessary documents for my next

assignment, together with a supply of money in Paraguayan and

American currency, and the details of the assignment itself. I

pocketed the money and the documents, and sat down to read the

assignment. The covering note asked me to read the instructions

and commit them to memory and then to destroy the assignment by

burning it and disposing completely of the ashes.

I was quite unprepared for the news of my next mission. I

suppose I had expected that, if Bormann had occupation for me, it

would be somewhere in Europe or the Middle East. I was certainly

not prepared for the words with which the assignment began.

"You will proceed to New Orleans."

There followed a catalogue of names of contacts with addresses,

and the instructions for getting in touch with them. I was to

approach them discreetly in the order given, and my prime

objective was to learn how far and in what respects their

political views chimed with those which I had come to associate

with Martin Bormann. In other words, I was looking for potential

recruits to the Nazi ideology.

If I succeeded in making a promising contact I was to seek no

further contacts but to pursue any other possible adherents

through the channel of this sympathizer. My instructions were,

needless to say, to be memorized and then destroyed.

I took the accompanying sheets and began to read my new life

story. I was to enter the United States as the Swiss engineer,

but once inside I was to become Miguel Lobedo, a man of mixed

European and Cuban blood. I gathered that the contacts which

figured on my list were right-wing sympathizers, known for their

deep hostility to the Castro regime in Cuba.

I turned back to the list of names, and read the first-the only

name I now recall, for I never made contact with any after the


The name was David W. Ferrie, and the address was 107 Decatur

Street, New Orleans.



New Orleans for me epitomized America-yesterday's beauty and

grace, seen in buildings which rivaled those of my childhood, and

today's opulent vulgarity and seedy wretchedness.

All three could be found in the Vieux Carre district, to which I

was directed in my search for Decatur Street. I turned the

corner of Canal Street by the Custom House-one more fine piece of

architecture-and set off in search of Number 107.

But I struck a blank, and it did not take long for me to realize

that something was wrong with the instructions I had been given.

My enquiries for a Mr David Ferrie met with blank looks and head-

shakings. I stood outside Number 107, at a loss what to do next.

I had just decided to seek the help of a telephone directory,

when a Negro leaning against the doorpost took notice of my


"Mister David Ferrie, you said?"

"That's right," I replied. "I was told I'd find him at this


He looked up and down the street, casually and without seeming

interest in my plight.

"You Cuban?" he asked.

I asked him what made him think I was Cuban? Did I look Cuban?

"No, no," he said. "Just wonderin'. Thought it might be Number

117 you wanted. The Habana."

I said thanks, I would try there, but I was certain it was Number


At the Habana Bar I asked again for Mr David Ferrie. The swarthy

man whom I asked at once put on the too-casual mask of feigned

indifference. But I would have laid odds that he knew the name.

"Who's asking?"

"I am."

"Sorry, not one of our clients."

"How do you know that?" I asked. "Do you know the names of

everybody who comes in here?"

"Look, boy," he replied. "Don't get smart with me. I said I

didn't know no David Ferrie. He ain't a regular here."

I turned to go, then stopped as he volunteered, "You could try

Camp Street."

"Camp Street? I was told Decatur Street."

"Decatur Street?"

"Yes," I replied. "Number 107.

"Then you got the wrong place. This is 117."

Once again I turned to go, but in some way he seemed reluctant to

break off the encounter.

"Guy Banister might know."

He could see the name meant nothing to me.

"Yeah, Guy Banister. He knows most everybody round here. You

could try him. Camp Street. Number 544."

I turned quickly to go, but he called after me, "Got that?

Number 544?"

I nodded, and went out. His face had been devoid of expression

throughout, but I was quite certain that I was now on the right


Number 544 Camp Street was part of a stone-faced building which

had seen better days, and had apparently once housed a Seaman's

Union office. Hardly the kind of place, I thought, in which to

look for the resurgent arm of the Fourth Reich.

As I approached the narrow doorway, a man similar in appearance

to the one at the Habana, swarthy-skinned and with dark eyes,

came out of the building. I asked him if he could direct me to

David Ferrie. He shook his head.

"Guy Banister, then?"

"Look, pal," he said. "Make your mind up. Which one do you


I never grew quite accustomed to the blunt, aggressive manner

which one so often meets in America. I explained that I had been

looking for a Mr David Ferrie, and had been advised to try Mr.


"Try inside, " he said, jerking a thumb over his shoulder. "I

don't think he's in right now, but ask Delphine."


"Yeah, his secretary."

Banister was not in, but I was told that he was expected back at

any time. Why didn't I get myself a coffee at the Mancuso? the

secretary suggested. I said I would rather wait, but she seemed

not to welcome the suggestion, so I asked to be directed to the

place she had mentioned, which proved to be in the same building

as Banister's office.

I did not have long to wait. I had hardly begun to drink the

coffee when I became aware of a strange figure standing in the

doorway, and clearly looking for someone. This, I thought, must

be Banister.

As he came towards me I began to have doubts as to whether or not

this was some kind of charade, for the man before me appeared

very odd. He appeared to be heavily made up, and wore an

ill-fitting wig in a color which nature had surely never

produced, an appalling shade of red quite unlike the usual color

of red hair. As he came still closer I could see that his

eyebrows were apparently daubed on. He came and stood directly

in front of me.

"They tell me you're asking for Guy Banister?"

I nodded, still fascinated by his grotesque appearance.

"What do you want with him?" he asked.

"Nothing," I replied.


"No, I don't think so. Not with him. It was merely that I was

told that he might know where I could find David Ferric.

"David Ferrie?"

"Yes. He's the man I'm really looking for.

"You don't need to ask Guy Banister that, he said.

"Why not?"

He grinned. "Because I'm David Ferrie, that's why.

I told him I should need proof of that.

"Come with me, " he said. "We'll see if Guy's back, and he'll

tell you."

We went back to Banister's office, but he had not yet returned.

"Wait there, " he said. "I'll see if he's in the Katz and


And he rushed off downstairs.

"Extraordinary man," I remarked to the secretary.

"Hmm, " she said. "I don't go much on Dave myself. Oh, he's

brainy all right, but he's queer. "


She laughed at my ignorance.

"Well, let's say you're in more danger of propositions from Dave

than the likes of me. "

I was still not completely in the picture. She laughed again.

"I'm the wrong sex, junior."

And then I understood.

I'll remember that, I thought, as I heard the sound of someone

coming, possibly the man we were discussing.

"By the way, what's his other name?" I asked.

"Dave? Oh, William or Wilbur or something.

I said no, I hadn't meant that, and she looked surprised.

"I thought you knew him. Oh, I see, a pick-up. Ferrie. Dave

Ferrie. He works for Guy. Odd jobs here and there, you know.

Still, if that's your taste..."

The return of Ferrie prevented any further discussion.

"No, he's not there. Tell you what, we'll go down there, and you

tell him when he comes in. Eh, Delphine?"

Installed in the Katz and Jammer, Ferrie said, "Yeah? What's all

this about then?"

I said that I had been given his name and recommended to contact

him when I got to New Orleans.

"And where are you from?" he asked, but I passed that question.

"All right then, " he said. "Where were you told to contact me?"

And as soon as I said Number 107 Decatur Street, his whole

demeanor changed. Everything he had said up to that point had

been faintly sardonic, as if he were humoring me. Now, suddenly,

he became serious.

"What's your business with me?"

"Not so fast," I said. So far I had only his word and the word

of a woman I'd never met before that he was in fact the man I had

been advised to contact.

"A for caution," he said. "Now, how do I convince you? Let me

see. Got a piece of paper?"

He drew a ball-pen from his pocket as he said this, and I fumbled

for a sheet of paper. He took it from me, and raised those

monstrous eyebrows quizzically.

"A little trick," he said. "I write a name on this piece of

paper and pass it to you. just in case it's not a name you want

read aloud, you understand? And then you open the piece of paper

and tell me what your business is with me. Right?"

He scribbled on the sheet, and handed it to me. I opened it out

and read it. He had written a name on it.

The name was "Miguel Lobedo".

"Now," he said. "Do we talk?"

The subject of my enquiries was simple enough, I said, though I

was not free to name the people who had retained my services.

Briefly, I was interested in assessing the strength of anti-

Communist feeling in the Southern States.

"For us, or them?" he asked.

I said that if by them he meant the Commies, then certainly

not 'them'.

As we talked I began to realize that his comic appearance was

misleading. Behind that clown's mask there was a good brain.

Eventually I brought the conversation round to the immediate

matter of my assignment.

"I was going to ask if you're connected with the Arab end of the

deal," he said. " But you wouldn't tell me, I guess.

I remained silent.

"All right, " he said. "Come on! I'd better take you and

introduce you to a few people."

I told him that I must have a meal first, and asked him to join

me. Perhaps he could suggest a suitable place, I said.

Over the coffee, he told me what he had in mind. there were

some friends of his, he said, who might be interested in my

project. Most of them had suffered at the hands of the Commies,

so they had a stake, sort of, in anti-Communist activity. He

would give them a ring, and fix up a meeting. But there were

conditions, he said. No notes, and no tape recorders. After

all, they wouldn't know that I was the genuine article. They

would have to take his word for it, and they might not be

prepared to go all the way with him on that.

He went off to use the telephone, and I looked around me. For a

man doing a subordinate job in an office in a downtown area of

New Orleans like Camp Street I was surprised that he seemed to

have a working knowledge of lush places like this. It was a

milieu which failed to match his appearance. It was not only

David Ferrie's appearance which was misleading. His present

employment might be worth examination.

It subsequently proved to be a cover for CIA activities, but by

the time I left the United States I had begun to ask myself if

there were any citizens of that country who weren't on that


When he returned he said that he had managed to speak to a

friend of his, a Colonel Orlov, who seemed most interested in my

survey. Unfortunately, the Colonel was obliged to go back to

Dallas within the hour. He had suggested that I might like to

get in touch when I was in Dallas.

"Colonel Orlov?" I asked. "What nationality is he?"

Russian, he said, and well placed to talk about anti-Communist

questions. I told him I had some experience of dealing with

Russians, and I wasn't particularly anxious to repeat it. He

assured me that the Colonel belonged to a small White Russian

community in the Southern States, and that several of them lived

in Dallas. It might be a very good place to start, as everyone

in the circle could be vouched for; they were all citizens of

good standing in the community, and were anti-Soviet to a man.

So began my brief acquaintance with the White Russian emigres of

Dallas. And thus I came to stumble upon the people who were to

involve me in the decisive event of my life.

It was at the home of one of them some few days later that it

all began. A man, whose name I cannot recall, detached himself

from a group at the far end of the room, came across to me and

addressed me directly.

"Senor Lobedo, is it?-I'm told that you are interested in Russian


I managed to conceal my start of surprise. Then I realized that

the question was innocent of ulterior motive. I put on a look of


"Russian? No, not really, I-I'm sorry, I don't quite


The man smiled. "I mean, we are all Russian here, and I


"No," I broke in. "My interest is in anti-Communist affairs, not

specifically Russian."

"You do not speak Russian, then?"

No, I replied, I had never felt the need during my work in the

Caribbean to speak the language.

He smiled, and apologized for his mistake. Then he went back to

his own group, and said in Russian, "He does not speak Russian,

he says."

I had to exercise conscious control so as not to seem to

understand. I looked away towards my host, as if unaware of the

purport of what had been said. My host, mistaking my studiously

casual look, took it for boredom and hurried over with apologies.

"You must think we are rude, Senor Lobedo. We have so few

opportunities in our working lives to speak Russian, except to

our own families. We tend to forget on these occasions that

others may not be so enamored of the language. I do hope you'll

forgive the lapse."

I brushed aside his apology. I had been enjoying the music, I

said. I hadn't noticed anything to object to. He went away with

renewed apologies.

I watched him join the group at the far end of the room, where he

said, loud enough for me to hear, "We really must not overdo it,

or Senor Lobedo will find his patience tried."

He turned and caught my eye. I smiled and waved away the apology


"Who is this man?" one of the guests said in Russian.

I heard myself being explained away as another of these Cuban

anti-Castro people. My host wasn't quite sure from where I had

come, but he was assured that my interest lay entirely in anti-

Communist activity, and that Dave and some one called, I think,

Klee had vouched for me.

This was not the first time I heard the name Klee (or it may have

been Clay) mentioned, but I did not meet him.

"Oh, I see, " another guest said, "this is the man that Ruth


"No, no," said my host. "Not at all. This is another man

altogether. I believe this man is somehow connected with the

Arab operation. Though I don't see how it ties in with the

anti-Castro thing. We might get him interested. I'll talk to

Dave about it."

He reminded them again that they must not talk too long in

Russian, and the conversation descended to banalities again.

The next time I saw Ferrie he told me that the emigres had been

in touch with him. They were clearly interested, he said, in my

field of operations, and would be happy to give me any help they

could. Then he told me that his own people were involved in

propaganda aimed against the Castro regime, and would I be

interested to lend a hand? I made a show of reluctance, pointing

out that it wasn't really my line, that my assignment had been

merely to investigate the strength of the anti-Communist forces,

of which the anti-Castro activities were only one. Ferrie then

became pressing, and pointed out that it would be a useful way of

meeting informally with anti-Communist sympathizers.

As a result, I came to know Guy Banister and the numerous right-

wing organizations for which he acted as a sort of general

factotum. If each of these organizations took up even a small

part of his time, it was difficult to see how he had any left in

which to run the detective agency which purported to be his


In all the time I was connected with his office I saw little

evidence of any detective activity. I reminded myself that in

such a situations man contriving to live reasonably well with no

perceptible means of support-one is entitled to suspect some

second and secret income. Certainly there were enough people

coming and going through Banister's office to give grounds for

believing that detection was the least part of his business


Had all this coming and going related only to propaganda it might

have been harmful to no one, for the literature I saw was too

hysterical and amateurish to have had much influence except on

minds already attuned. But it did not take me long to discover

that the propaganda was a mere front, behind which a paramilitary

organization with no shortage of funds was operating under the

very noses of the civil authority.

I had no desire to become embroiled in such activity and took

steps to make this clear to Ferrie, but events now took a hand to

force me to act in a way which ran contrary to my wishes.

I was returning to Banister's office one afternoon in early

October when I became aware that I was being shadowed again.

Here on the streets of New Orleans I felt less apprehensive about

this than I would have felt in more open surroundings, for there

were ample opportunities in such a situation for shaking off any


But I was interested to discover who was dogging my footsteps

this time, so I made no overt move to throw off my pursuers. The

moment I arrived back at Camp Street I went in through the door

of Number 544 and through the premises to the side offices in

Lafayette Street from where I could observe whether the building

itself was under observation.

A few moments later my suspicions were confirmed when a figure

passed right beneath me and took up station, with a

professionally casual air, across Lafayette Street on the

opposite corner from where he could keep Number 544's entrance in

full view.

As he turned and sat in the doorway, I recognized him at once and

the familiar danger signal sounded off again in my entrails.

It was my fellow-passenger from Beirut, the man I hoped I had

lost in Asuncion.

A few moments afterwards, he was joined by a second man, who

chatted with him briefly before moving on down the street.

It was not going to be quite so easy this time.



It was predictable, of course, that-if for some reason they

wanted to keep me under surveillance, as seemed to be the

case-they would call up reinforcements if once I gave them the

slip. My concern was no longer who had hired them or what their

purpose was. What worried me now was that I did not know how

many were on my trail nor what they looked like. Any stranger on

the street could now belong to their forces, so far as I was


I decided that in the circumstances only numbers offered any kind

of protection against numbers, and I took Ferrie at least in part

into my confidence. I could not tell him that this same man had

shadowed me from Beirut to Asuncion and now here, so I had to

pretend that I had only just become aware of his attentions, and

that he appeared to have support. In telling him that I had no

idea who they were I spoke no less than the truth, so that I felt

this part of the story carried conviction.

Rather to my surprise, he did not venture an immediate opinion

but said that he would get advice. I supposed at first that he

meant from Guy Banister, but despite several opportunities he

made no attempt to broach the subject to his acknowledged

employer. This was the first indication I had that David Ferrie

was other than he seemed to be, and the first time he let slip

that he was acting under orders from someone other than Banister.

It was now that I began to question the whole of the Banister

operation, and to decide that its outwardly amateurish

organization was in fact a cover for a much more professional

set-up. And I learned later that Ferrie, far from being a

leg-man for this organization, wielded more authority than

Banister, himself an ex-CIA man too.

A day or two later, Ferrie rang me at Banister's office, to say

that I was to leave my pad at once and meet him at the office in

fifteen minutes time with my baggage. I was moving out, he said.

When he arrived, I asked him what the idea was.

"We're moving you on," he said. "Not just for your sake. We

don't want snoopers round here that we can't identify. Got your


I put my baggage on the back seat of the car as he indicated, and

then went back into the office with him. Once inside he handed

me a tartan jacket and a slouch hat and told me to put them on.

"What's this for?" I asked.

"Never mind, just put them on.

I guessed what he was about, and went along with the idea. At

any moment I expected to see another man of my height and build

appear, wearing an identical jacket and hat, but Ferrie merely

indicated that we should leave by the usual entrance in Camp

Street. He took the driving seat, and I climbed in on the

passenger side.

Once outside New Orleans, and apparently traveling north, he

said, "Five gets you ten there's a car following us. No, don't

look! I'll use the mirror. "

In the following traffic it was some time before he could be

certain that there was anyone following by design and not by

accident, but having pulled in for gas and finding a particular

automobile still on our trail he seemed happier.

"Good! Now we know he's there, we know what to do about him.

I asked him where we were heading.

"Well, first of all we're making for any place that gets these

birds off our tail. That's the first thing. So we make for


"Dallas?" I asked. "Why Dallas?"

"My guess is that, if they've been tailing you for some time,

they know you've been there already, so it won't worry them to

see you heading in the same direction again. Now this is the

idea. I've made arrangements for you to stop off at a motel this

side of Shreveport. Got that?"

I nodded.

"Only you won't be stopping," he said. "We've got another man

waiting with a spare car. He'll be wearing a plaid jacket and a

slouch hat.

I said that I'd been wondering when he would put in an


"Now here's the way it goes," he said, "We run this car in.

Right? We go inside. A few minutes later we come out, or rather

I come out with the other man. He takes off for Dallas, and I

light out for home. just in case they've brought up another car,

you understand? Split their forces.

"And what do I do?" I asked.

"You just stay put, and keep your head down. The motel manager

will see to that. Around midnight a car will arrive for you.

The driver will pull in off the road and switch his headlights

twice before he puts them out. The car park will be in

darkness-we've arranged for that-and you'll slip out and climb in

the back of the auto we've sent for you."

"Just a minute," I said. "Suppose they don't just take off after

you? Suppose they come into the motel?"

"Good thinking, " he said. "We thought of it first. That's why

we chose this motel. The manager's one of ours. He'll say he

had to turn us away. They'll suppose that we fixed this just to

split their forces. Had a car waiting here for just that

purpose. I don't guess they'll hang around, even if they do

think we've worked one on them.

I had to admit that it was a neat little stratagem. But he

hadn't finished.

"If we've thrown them - and only if - the manager will let us

know, and the car will come for you at midnight. If not, you'll

just have to lie doggo till we decide what to do. But I reckon

this will work."

I agreed.

"One thing, " he went on. "The driver of the other car will come

into the motel at midnight as if he's going to book in. While

he's doing that you've got to get out and into the back of his

car. Don't close the door, and make sure you're not seen. Then

get down because the lights will go on in the car park. The

story is that our man told the manager that he nearly had a prat

fall coming across the park, so the manager said sorry, he would

put the lights on, and sorry, he's got no rooms. Our man won't

actually say these things. The manager will say he said 'em,

that's all. It's got to look normal, just in case they're

hanging around."

I said they seemed to have thought of everything, and where was

their driver going to deliver me?

"Never mind," he said. "Time enough to ask that when you get to

where you're going. Here's the Baton Rouge, and your buddies are

still with us. You must be quite an important guy in your


"What makes you say that?"

"Use your head, brother," he replied. "If you'd been just small

fry you'd have got yours long since. That operation of theirs is

costing dough."

The stratagem went as planned. just before midnight the third car

flashed twice, then the driver killed the lights along with the

engine. I slipped out into the darkness with my shoes in my

hand. The grit of the car park cut into my stockinged feet, but

before the driver had swung open the door of the motel, allowing

a shaft of light to illuminate a sector of the park, I was inside

the car and down on the floor. A few moments later the car park

blazed with light as the floods were turned on, and a little

later still I heard the footsteps of my driver approaching the


He had been well briefed. He opened the rear door of the car,

threw in his grip, and slammed the door before going round to his

own side and climbing in.

It was a very long drive, and the driver said not a word the

whole journey. From time to time, intermittently and most

uncomfortably, I slept. Twice the driver stopped in open country

to relieve himself, and to allow me to do the same, but still he

said nothing.

Twice I made the effort to engage him in conversation without

success, until I realized why I wasn't getting anywhere. The man

was a deaf mute; I should learn nothing from that source.

By the time daylight came I was horribly stiff with cramp, but

still we drove on, not even stopping to refuel. It was

mid-morning, I reckoned, before the car began to sway and lurch

over rough ground and finally stopped. The driver reached over

and tapped me on the back, signalling me to climb out.

I crawled out and almost fell. The car was standing in a

clearing in heavily wooded countryside; there was no sign of sky

through the trees which surrounded the spot.

The driver made signs to me to move, and began to pick his way

over the rough ground towards a wooden shack some fifty or sixty

yards off. When we reached the door, he stood back to let me

precede him. I opened it, and stepped inside.

As I did so, the door closed behind me and I wheeled round to see

a man with his rifle handy for action.

There was one other man in the room, about twenty-eight or thirty

years of age I guessed. He was standing against the bed, and

looking at me curiously.

The man with the rifle laughed, and picked up his jacket from the


"You made good time," he said. "This is Zed. You better get

acquainted, I guess. You're gonna be here some time."

Then he opened the door and went out. The door rattled behind

him and the latch clicked, and I was left alone with the young


"What's all this about?" I asked him.

He looked puzzled. "You mean to say you don't know?"

He gathered from my expression, apparently, that indeed I did

not, for he went on almost at once, "That makes two of us, then.

You play cards?"

"No," I replied. "Why?

"I thought if we're going to be here a long time-! " He stopped,

and went on again in a half-questioning tone, as if unwilling to

accept that I knew nothing of the reason for my being here,

"Anything we want -within reason-we can have, But one thing we

can't have.

"And what's that?" I asked.

"We can't have out, " he said, quietly, searching my face as he

said it.

"I-I don't understand. Do you mein we're - prisoners?"

"We're here, and we stay here. Got that?"

I said that, so far as I was concerned, I realized that I might

have to lie low for a while until the bloodhounds had lost the

scent. But he seemed not to understand this, so without going

into detail-I told him that so far as I was concerned that was

the purpose of the exercise.

"I wouldn't know about that," he said. "That's not my

understanding of it. l just thought you might know something."

I found his answer slightly disturbing, and wondered if perhaps

the plan had gone slightly awry.

But the planners knew what they were about, as I was soon to


The following evening, as the light began to fade, which happened

early in these deep woods, the door opened and the man with the

rifle appeared. Under his free arm there was a package.

Motioning us over to the side of the shack he dropped the package

on to one of the beds, then hefted his rifle again as if to warn

us not to make any sudden moves.

"Here," he said, " I gotta give you this."

'This', when we opened the package, proved to be a

battery-powered tape recorder. As Zed peeled off the wrappings,

a card fell out and on to the dirt floor. I picked it up. It

said, simply, 'Switch to "Play". When the message ends, hand the

recorder to the guard when he comes for it.'

The guard grinned at us and left. I didn't like the sound of

the word 'guard'. Nor apparently did Zed, though he seemed less

astonished by it than I was. Indeed he scarcely seemed to notice

that the man had gone, for his eyes were fixed on the recorder,

and his face was white and very still. As he caught my eye, he

licked his lips and said in a dry voice, "This is it, I guess."

And seeing his face I suddenly felt afraid, and wondered why I


He edged away from the machine towards the bed, gesturing to me

to switch on the recorder as he did so. Then he felt for the bed

behind him and sat down. I turned the switch marked 'Play'.

Nothing happened.

Then I realized that the machine had not been switched on, and I

turned that switch.

The spools began to spin, slowly. There was a long silence. A

crackle. Silence again, and then a voice began to speak. A

cold, matter-of-fact voice with no more emotion in it than if the

speaker were explaining some process in mathematics. The exact

words I cannot now recall, but I shall never forget the gist of

that message. For the message did not match the voice.

"You will listen carefully. You will make no written notes of

this briefing. You will memorize the details as they are given.

"First of all, it must be made clear that your assignment is not

a matter of choice on your part. The history of both of you is

known to us, and there is ample evidence in our possession to

ensure your death in your native country. Indeed, you are not

free at this moment to travel fifty yards from this door if you

should decide to opt out. Your only alternative-aside from your

death, that is-is to carry out the duties assigned to you.

"The first phase of your assignment is as follows:

"One of you, the younger man, is No. 1. He will fire the rifle.

The other, No. 2, will act as his assistant, to prepare and load

the gun, to collect the empty shell, and to dispose of the gun

and the radio headpiece afterwards. No. 1's duties are simply to

take the gun, to aim, and to fire on-command. He will be

directed on to his target by radio.

"At an appropriate time, you will be advised of the date and the

hour of the operation, and of your target. Between now and that

time you will practice the movements as required by the guard, so

as to be one hundred per cent effective when the time comes.

"That is all for the present.

"One final word. You will be supplied with one round of

ammunition at any one time. Do not attempt to make any use of

that round except for target practice. One wrong move will

result in your instant death."

The tape ran on for a few seconds, until I stopped it. Then,

before the guard could return, I ran it back to replay it. But

this time there was no sound. Zed looked puzzled and shocked at

the same time.

"I thought that might be the case," I said. "It's an old dodge.

You fit an erase head to follow the playback head. There's no

evidence left. "

The door opened, and the guard came in, picked up the machine,

the wrappings and the card and went out again. Significantly, he

had no rifle with him this time but, after the taped warning, I

had no thought of jumping him.

As the door closed behind him, I looked at Zed. In the fading

light his face looked white and sick. He swallowed hard before

he spoke again. "You know what? I don't like that thing!

Machines! I don't like 'em, you know that?"

"What's it all about?" I asked.

"I don't know any more than you," he said. "But they're right

about that. I don't know how they got to know, but they're right

about that. Back in my own country, I mean. But I'll tell you

one thing - hey, d'you know, I never asked your name! Can you

beat that? And us in this together?"

I stuck to Miguel. It didn't seem to matter, anyway.

"Mig what? Hell, I'll call you Mick. "

He was beginning to regain his composure as he talked, and his

face no longer looked fish-belly white.

"Tell you what, Mick. These babies aren't playin' around."

"What d'you mean?"

"I didn't want to think about it. I've been here three, four

days now. It's right that-well, it's right what that thing said.

The second day I got fed up and walked out. I didn't get twenty-

five yards, let alone fifty. We're all right round the shack, so

long as we stay close-going to the can, and that. But don't you

try to light out for the path or into the woods."

"What did they do?" I asked.

"One shot," he said. "Just one. I reckon it missed me by all of

six inches. Then somebody called out and told me to stay put. I

couldn't see him, but I could hear him all right. I reckon

they've got a twenty-four hour guard on this place. Don't open

the door after dark, either. I learned that, too."

It was a long time before I slept that night, but my mind was

exercised by a consideration as relevant as the knowledge of what

this 'assignment' was to be.

That other assignment, the Bormann assignment as I supposed, had

been a mere ploy to get me here.

And I realized something else which gave me cause for greater

unease and concentrated my thinking. If, as seemed likely, I

failed to come out of this 'assignment' alive, it would suit

Bormann's purpose very well.

Each day, for a period in the morning and again in the afternoon,

we were ordered out by the guard, who on these occasions had a

companion, also armed.

The routine was invariable. Zed faced to the front, and I handed

him the headpiece of the radio equipment. Then I loaded the gun

with the one round, snapped back the safety catch, and held it

ready. As Zed heard the appropriate message in the headpiece, a

white target began to move across our front some fifty feet off-a

white disk about the size of a man's head. As the target moved

across the front Zed snapped his fingers, I passed him the gun,

he raised it to his shoulder, took, aim, drew in his breath, held

it and squeezed.

Not once did he fail to hit the disk.

The whole performance was repeated fifteen to twenty times before

we were taken back. It was a macabre pantomime, a sport without


I asked Zed after one of these sessions why he took such care to

hit the target. He grinned rather ruefully.

"Boy, you should ask. I missed it the first day. Snatched at

it, instead of squeezing. They made me do three solid hours

after that. That's work, an' I ain't all that fond of work."

Late one evening, over two weeks later, the guard arrived with

his usual slack grin and the same package under his arm. I

avoided Zed's eyes, in case he saw the fear in mine.

This time the message was shorter.

"The operation takes place three days from tomorrow morning. You

will be picked up by truck at first light on the day before the

operation and taken to the target area where your dispositions

will be made known to you. On your return from the area, your

target will be stated.

"That is all."

Two mornings later, the usual guard arrived with his companion

and ordered us out. At the end of the path from the shack a

station wagon was waiting.

When we were seated, the usual guard said, "No tricks, mind! Put

these glasses on, and don't either of you make a move to take 'em

off. D'you hear that? Not till you're told."

The glasses had the appearance of ordinary sun-glasses, but as

soon as we put them on we realized the difference. The lenses

were completely opaque, and we could see nothing. And yet anyone

looking into the station wagon would see two men apparently

wearing ordinary sun-glasses. Apart from the light which we

could see round the edges of the lenses we were effectively


After a journey which seemed to me of about two hours' duration,

the station wagon came to a halt and the guard told us to remove

our glasses.

We were in a parking area at the edge of what appeared to be a

large city square. To our right and behind was a rail yard, and

behind and to the left a large building. In front was a wooden

fence bordering a line of small trees and ending in a sort of

stone colonnade. There was something familiar about it, but I

couldn't place it.

The other guard spoke up. "Got it? The orders are not to hang

about. That fence in front there-that's your pitch. Right? Put

the glasses on again, and let's get out of here. "

And for another two hours we saw nothing until we arrived back at

the hut. Inside again, we saw that we had visitors, for on the

dirt floor was a model replica of the square which we had just

visited. The rail yard, the fence and the trees were just as I

remembered them. The tape recorder was standing on the bare

wooden table. I felt suddenly cold.

"O.K. " said Zed. " Let's be knowing."

I switched on the recorder.

"You will now study the model of the target area. Your positions

on the ground are marked, as is the location of the target at the

moment of firing. The target will be seated or standing in the

car as shown."

"Your firing position will be marked by an automobile which you

will find parked at the spot, and which will be identifiable by a

key in the lock of the trunk."

"When the rifle and headpiece are delivered to you one hour

before zero, No. 2 operator will place them in the trunk, lock

the trunk and keep the key in safety. On the approach of the

target, which will be audible, No. 2 will take the headpiece from

the trunk and hand it to No. 1, who will put it on. No. 2 will

then remove the gun from the trunk, slip the safety catch and

hold the gun in readiness, until signalled by No. 1 to hand the

gun to him. No. 1 will take his instructions for firing from the

radio. Immediately after firing, No. 1 will hand the gun to No.

2, who will place it in the trunk. He will then take the

headpiece from No. 1 and place it in the trunk. He will then

pick up the empty shell, and place it in the trunk. He will then

lock the trunk, and will flick the key up the exhaust pipe of the


"Meanwhile No. 1 will be making his way without haste to the

point marked 'R for Rendezvous' on the model. There must be no

sign of panic, and both operators must do all possible to give

the impression of being ordinary citizens. No. 2 will make his

way separately from No. 1 to the same rendezvous point, where

both operators will be picked up by the station wagon used for

the earlier reconnaissance operation."

"You will now practice the drill with the rifle and the headpiece

which the guard has supplied. It is essential for the success of

the operation and your own survival that the drill is as smooth

and rapid as possible."

"On the successful conclusion of the operation, No. 1 will be

paid the sum of thirty thousand dollars for services rendered,

and No. 2 the sum of twenty-five thousand dollars. This will be

in the form of a bank deposit in any bank in any country in the

world which the operator chooses. Safe conduct will be provided

by the speediest means to that country."

"You have been selected as operators because, as aliens, you can

have no emotive connection with the object of your mission.

"No.1's target is the head of John F. Kennedy. See that neither

of you fail. You will be under surveillance throughout the

operation, and you will realize that, should you bungle the

operation, it will be a public-spirited action for any one of us

to see that the men who attempted to assassinate the President of

the United States do not live to give their reasons."

"That is all."



I succeeded at last in fighting my way out of sleep, and out of

my own particular kind of nightmare, and awoke dripping with

sweat, my knuckles clenched tight in a tension to which I was now

well accustomed.

I remembered at once that this was the day. The dead weight of

apprehension which had burdened me for so long had become a cold,

sickening continuous dread.

But there was no way out. We could not run, we could not back

down, we dare not fail in our appointed task. To do any of these

things was to sign the death warrants of the two men in this

derelict shack, the one lying awake now sick with foreboding and

the other apparently untroubled by such emotions as he grunted

and hunched his shoulder against the first faint early morning


No, there was no way out. They were thoroughly organized.

Whether we went through with it or not was no longer in question.

No matter what we tried to do, they could plant the

responsibility for the deed upon us with insolent ease, and earn

public plaudits for putting such monsters to death.

I rolled stiffly from the bed, went over to the cracked and

blotchy mirror, and looked at myself. Bloodshot eyes, yellow

face. Sick. I put out my tongue. It looked every bit as foul

as I felt. I went back to the bed, and sat on the edge of it,

vainly seeking some way out of the trap. Zed grunted again, and

rolled over.

Tentatively, like probing a hollow tooth with my tongue, I

allowed my thoughts to dwell on the luxury of escape. But the

pleasure was brief, and I went back to the contemplation of a

world without meaning and a future without purpose.

Even supposing I could think of some way to bring off the escape,

where could I run to? There was nowhere in the world where I

could hide, no single place where the arm of this brotherhood

would not reach to seek me out.

Except, perhaps, in my native land.

A ludicrous idea. That would be to jump from the claws of the

leopard to the jaws of the lion. There was no place of refuge

for me, no sanctuary in all the wide world. If they did not

catch up with me today, then tomorrow. And if not tomorrow, then

one day soon. And to open my mouth would merely be to bring the

day more quickly. With the knowledge we should both possess at

the end of this day they would not be able to rest easy until we

were both silenced, if we failed them now.

And if we did not? If we went through with the job and carried

out their will, what then? I pushed the thought quickly aside.

But the tongue had probed too deeply, and the tooth had jumped.

I got up quickly, and went over to Zed. As I shook him awake, he

rolled over on to his back, grunted sleepily, opened his eyes and

stared at the roof. I saw the realization dawn there as he came

awake. He turned his head quickly to look at me.

"Now what?"

"I've been thinking."

He cursed, still not fully aroused. "At this time in the

morning? Go to sleep, fer Chrissake!"

"Listen!" I said. "Come on, wake up! They'll be here any time."

He struggled to sit up. "What the hell's biting you? We can't

stop 'em coming, you know that."

"Listen," I said again. "We've got to do some thinking."

"Thinking? Where in hell is thinking going to get us? I've done

nothing else for weeks. Get some sleep. That's one thing we can

do, if we stop thinking."

"Don't turn over again," I said. "Listen to me. It's



"Look, nobody's said much about afterwards. just vague promises.

Money, and a free passage out."

"Well, what about it?"

Despite the carefully casual tone, he was beginning to show


"Orders, orders," I said. "There's orders for everything but

that. In detail, too."

"What are you getting at?"

"Don't you see, Zed? That's the only thing they haven't gone

into much detail about."


"What happens afterwards. When we've done it."

He lay back, and contemplated the idea. I drove the point home.

"I can think of only one reason why they haven't gone into any

detail about that. Detail on everything, but not that."

He sat up again. "And what's that?"

"They don't need any."

"What do you mean by that?" he asked, and now his face was

beginning to show the fear I felt.

"There isn't going to be any afterwards. Not for us."

He was really listening now. "No afterwards? What do you mean?"

I explained. And as I did so I found I was the more convinced as

I strove to convince him. The fear grew inside me. They had us

exactly where they wanted us. If we failed in the task they

would gun us down. If we succeeded, they would merely wait until

we appeared at the rendezvous, and take us somewhere where they

could dispose of us at their leisure. An organization which

could prepare its plans for months, perhaps years, as this one

had clearly done, would not be put off by a small consideration

like the lives of two insignificant strangers. Especially as any

subsequent establishment of our identity would the more easily

persuade good Americans that their President had been the victim

of some foreign conspirators.

That was the sixty-four thousand dollar question we had failed to

ask ourselves. The one I had pushed to the back of my mind,

because I hadn't wanted to face up to the answer. I knew now

that there was only one answer.

Zed tried half-heartedly to argue me out of my conclusion, but

the evidence was too strong. It was stupid to talk like that, he

said. They'd be grateful. Of course they would. What was

fifty-odd grand to them? But the longer he protested, the less

conviction his words carried, even to himself. When at length he

ran down he sat in silence for a long time, looking at me

soberly. At last he said, "I reckon you're right. Question is,

what do we do about it?"

But I hadn't got that far yet. I sat in thought for a few

moments. The realization had stunned me no less than Zed, but I

knew now beyond all doubt that I was right. This was a blind

alley. Whether we failed or whether we succeeded was all one to

us. Either way we were dead men.

"What about this?" I suggested. "We go along with the orders

we've got. Exactly, so that they won't suspect anything. Right

up to the shot. Until they've seen it done."


"They won't do anything until they know whether it's come off,

will they?"

"No, " he replied. "That's for sure."

I stopped, to make sure I had it right in my own mind, and he

broke in, "You mean we've got to make dead sure we pull it off?"

"Of course," I said, "and then we take off, as fast as we can."

"We don't collect?"

"There's only one thing we're likely to collect," I said.

"Think about it. What reason have they got to let us live, once

we've done it? They'd never feel safe as long as we could talk.

So they'll make sure we can't."

He looked suddenly sick, as he gathered the full realization of

it. Then he said, in a harsh voice, "Right. We both take off as

soon as we've done what they want."


"Where do we make for?"

"We don't make for anywhere, " I said.


"Use your brains. They're going to be watching us right

through. The only hope we've got is that they might relax once

it's over."

"Why should they?" he asked.

"It's not certain," I replied. "But I've seen these second-hand

butchers before. If it comes off, they may be off guard for

a while. Crazy. Drunk with relief. They always are. It's the



"That's when we make the break. When we've finished. The

trunk, the key, everything. That's when we go.

"Right!" he said.

"But not together!

He looked astounded.

"Why not? We're in this together!"

"No!" I replied. "They'll be looking for two men. If we

split, we both have a better chance."

He gave it some thought. "You're right, Mick. We split up.

I'd like to have separated them from some of that folding money,

though. They've got plenty, and we'll need it."

"You'd never collect," I said. "Or if you did, you'd never get

out of the bank with it."

He tried a last, not very vigorous, protest.

"You know, Mick, you could be all wrong about this."

I agreed. "There's one sure way you could find out," I said,

but he shook his head.

"No, no. I reckon I'll take your word for it."

He sat in silence for a few moments. Then he went on,

"Mick!,Just one thing..."

I looked at him sharply, but he seemed uncertain how to go on.

He began to rub his neck as if it felt stiff, and looked away

from me. The light was growing stronger. There wasn't much time

left for talk. His eyes came back to me, uncertain, wary.

"Where will you go?"

I got up and filled the wash-bowl. Then I filled the coffee-pot

and put it on the stove.

"Did you hear me?" he asked. "Where will you make for?"

I turned on him angrily. "Don't be immature! These people play

for keeps. If they take you, they'll find out where I am."

For a moment I thought he would fly at me.

"All right, all right, " I said. "You'd never give me away. Not

even to try and save your own neck. But they wouldn't let you

die until they knew. They'd see to that. They'll try to find

out anyway, if they take you. I'll be safer if you don't know,

and you'll be safer if I don't."

He turned deathly white at that, and seemed to be on the point of

throwing up. You poor fool, I thought, how did you come to get

mixed up in this? He looked very young, and curiously

vulnerable. There wasn't much of the hired killer about him at

that moment.

"Your turn to get the grub, " I said. "It's time we were


He remained lying there, without speaking. On his face there was

a look of almost comic astonishment. At length he said, "What

put you on to it, Mick? What made you think they'd...?"

For a moment I almost wished there was some way in which he could

be spared the knowledge. I was to learn that, unlike me, he had

gone into this business with his eyes open, not knowing the

details but aware that he was a hired gun, and with a record that

said he could took after himself.

"It's something you've got to learn," I said. "When you're in a

spot, there's usually one question you'd rather not consider,

because of what the answer must be. That's the question to

consider first. I almost forgot my own advice, though."

"There's one thing," he said. "If we make it-if we get away,

they might have some explaining to do."

"You're deluding yourself," I said. "Where's the evidence? No

written orders. Nothing to connect us with them. Whereas we've

both got connections, I suppose, where we come from. And they'll

get the blame."

He suddenly looked afraid again.

"Yeah, that's a thought. If I do make it, I'll have to watch out

for them as well, I reckon."

"Cheer up!" I said. "Things could be worse."

He managed a thin smile.

"I don't see how."

I pointed out that at least we were one step ahead, and they

wouldn't be prepared for it. And, above all, we must stay one

step ahead.

"Besides," I went on, "they think we'll be greedy. They'll

expect us to collect-it's a lot of money, after all. They're

that type. They'd do anything for money and they'll expect us to

feel the same. So what we have to do is to play it straight-give

them no cause to think we're not going to the rendezvous to

collect. Then, when the time comes, we move fast. We shall be

one move ahead. We shall have to do our best to keep it that


He had one last try. "Why should they want to? Get rid of us?

They know we won't talk. We'd be crazy. Tell people we did it?


"You'll learn," I said. "If you come through. You haven't seen

it before. I have. First, they'll get us. Then it'll be

Ferrie's turn. And the rest. Anybody who had any hand in it at

all will be just-liquidated is the word. Just like that."

He began to ease himself off the bed.

"I've seen it all before," I went on. "They're scared. Scared

of dying themselves, I mean. They don't mind killing to avoid

that. They'll silence every witness who threatens their safety.

God help anyone who sees us today and talks."

I was suddenly back in Russia in 1936.

"It's like a -- a plague. It's almost as if it's got to run its

course before it can be stopped. First they take the son. Then

the father, in case the son talked to him. Then it's the

mother's turn. Then the whole family. And for some reason, it's

always about two o'clock in the morning-as if they were ashamed

of what they were doing, or it couldn't bear the light, or

something. If we succeed today, it won't be just us. It'll be

scores of people. Hundreds. Thousands, perhaps. People we

never saw, never knew, never even heard of."

"Mick," he broke in. "Couldn't we try and make a break for it

now? Before it's too late?"

I looked at him. "Now? No, it's too late for that. It was too

late the day we both listened to little men telling us what to

think. They've been watching this shack round the clock all this

time. Do you think they'll relax now? Today? No, they're

certain to be professionals. Like us. You wouldn't get to the

end of the path."

When he could see that there was nothing else to do, he donned

the old air of bravado. You poor fool, I thought again, and then

reflected that I was no better. I was as unwilling to die as the

men who gave the orders. That's the rub, I thought. They can't

be stopped until men come along who are willing to die.

"You live by their mercy," I said, almost to myself. "Trouble

is, they haven't any. They're all the same the world over.

Gunmen who never fired a shot. Hangmen who never tied the knot.

Executioners who never saw a man die. But they have the power.

The power we let them take. Power without responsibility.

They'll kill us if we don't obey. They'll kill us if we do."

"How did you get into it, then?" he asked.

"It's too long a story," I said. "I have a dream. Often. More

often than ever lately. I'm running down a long road. There's a

high wall. There's someone after me. I know there is, only I

can't see him. I only know I've got to run. Only I can't-not as

fast as I want to. I try, but my legs won't go any faster. The

walls begin to get higher each side. Then they both start to

close in. It gets darker still in front. My legs go slower and

slower, no matter how I try to force them on. I begin to choke.

It's like someone strangling me. The walls are almost touching

me. Somehow I know I'm dreaming, and I try to wake. But I

can't. I can't breathe."

I stopped. My palms were moist even with the mere recital of it.

"What happens then?" he asked.

"I don't know what comes after, and I don't want to know. I

manage to wake up. I've been wanting to for a long time. But at

last I-I make it. I'm running with sweat. My clothes are


He was looking at me strangely. I tried to laugh.

"Sometimes," I went on, "I think that one of these nights I

shan't make it. And that'll be that. Curtains. Then again I

sometimes have the odd thought that the dream is really my life,

and the part in the daytime is when I'm asleep. "

"That's crazy, " he said.

"Yes, crazy," I replied, trying to laugh again. But it didn't go

well this time, either. I got to my feet, and was surprised to

find that I was unsteady.

"Come on!" I said. "The coffee-pot's boiling. Your turn to get

the grub."

Suddenly he sounded very young and uncertain, and all the bravado

was gone.

"Mick, I don't think I want to eat.

"No," I said. "I'm not hungry myself."

There was a sound outside the shack, and then the door was pushed


I didn't need to turn and look. Time had run out, and we had to




"Take it easy, " I said. " It's going to be a long wait.

Zed grunted, but made no other reply. He had been silent for a

long time, squatting on his haunches, his back against the fence.

I had decided to remain standing, and to keep an eye open for

intruders. We had already agreed that, if anyone came snooping

round, we would both bury our heads under the hood of the truck,

and try to give the impression that we were doing a repair

job-not too difficult in our present rough condition.

I had just decided to move out and lift the hood of the truck

when Zed said, "Relax! Nobody's going to come round here


"No," I agreed. "Not on a normal day."

"Nuts! " he broke in. "Do you see 'em messing round here? This

is the Sheriff's dog-patch."

"How do you know that?" I asked.

He looked open-mouthed with astonishment.

"How do I know that? What do you mean?"

"Why, you don't even know where we are," I said.

"What! Of course I know where we are. Don't give me that! You

know where we are. You said you'd been here-to see your Russian


I was dumbfounded. It had never struck me that we were in

Dallas, and Zed had apparently assumed that I knew where we were.

And, I suppose, our reluctance to talk about the thing beforehand

had allowed me to dwell ignorance.

"Not that it makes any difference," I said. "I -don't know the

town well. I was only here once before-for a short visit."

There was no mistaking the concern in his face now, and it was

not concern for himself.

"Hell's bells, Mick, how're you going to get out of town when,

you don't know which way is out?"

I told him it wouldn't be the first time I'd had to do that kind

of thing on ground which I didn't know.

"Jesus Christ," he said. "I don't give much for my chances, and

I know the town. You still think we should split up?"

Yes, I replied, I still thought we should split up. We'd have no

chance at all if we stuck together, whether we knew the town or


"It won't take me long to get my bearings," I said. "You forget

I've been trained for this kind of thing. I'll make out. You

look after yourself. Just keep out of the way of the policemen,

that's all."

"Nuts to that," he said. "It's not policemen you need to worry

about. Not in uniform, anyway.

I asked him what he meant by that.

"In Dallas? Man, it's common knowledge where I've come from-

they're as crooked as they come.

"What? All of them?"

"No, of course not. But enough, enough. Where were you raised;

Mick? Why don't you come on out of kindergarten? If you ask me,

all cops are crooked. Some more than others, that's all."

"Listen, brother," he said. "I've been around. Rio, Puerto

Rico, Haiti, Cuba, Chi-they're all alike. They're all crooked.

Either at your throat or in your pocket, that's cops. You pay,

you get protection. You don't pay, you get slugged. They're no

different here. Besides, I was told before I left Chi."

"Told? Told what?"

"I was told that it was all fixed. Did you think I was green

enough to walk into this sort of mess? No, they said it was all

fixed. All I had to do was to see this guy off and collect.

I've done it before, and no complications. Only when they told

me, they didn't tell me what stakes they were playing for."

"And they told you it was all fixed?"

"Yeah. They even said they had a patsy lined up."

"Patsy?" I asked. "What's that?"

"A guy who'll pick up the check for this job. They'll string him

along. They might even con him that he's part of the set-up.

Well, yeah, I guess he is at that, but not the way he thinks.

Oh, he'll be part of the shooting all right, but he'll not be

doing it. He'll be getting it."


"That's the way it's fixed. They'll pick him up and he'll be

shot resisting arrest. Simple as that."

I told him I couldn't understand why he'd ever allowed himself to

be talked into this job.

"Talked into it? I wasn't talked into anything. They simply

said they'd a job for me, right in my line. The right sort of

dough, too. Well, they've always been square with-me before-why

should they double-cross me this time? I wasn't worried at all

till I got to the shack and they showed me I was under guard.

That wasn't part of the operation at all. And then you showed

up, and that wasn't part of it either. And it's just steadily

got loused up. You know what? There was one time back there when

I nearly turned round and put that slug in you. I thought you'd

been put in there by the guys who were doing all the fixing.

"And what stopped you?" I asked.

"I thought they'd gun me down before they asked any questions, I

suppose. And by that time you'd convinced me, anyway. "

"Zed, how did you get into this sort of life?" I asked him.

He looked startled for a moment. Then the old impassive look


"You weren't born in this country, were you?" I asked.

"No. No, I wasn't."

Again he hesitated before he replied.

"Where then?"

But again he seemed strangely reluctant.

"England," he volunteered at last. I waited for him to continue.

There was an odd, almost wistful look in his eyes. At length he

went on, "It wasn't much, I guess. Where we lived, I mean, by

the river. But we weren't poor, you understand,-not rich, but

not poor."

Suddenly his look changed to one of distaste, as if he had

swallowed something bitter.

"I'm not going to say I'm sorry for it. The bastard had it

coming. I'd do it again."

He looked at me quickly, and smiled at my bewilderment. When he

went on again, he seemed to have regained control of himself.

"My old man. My father. He was-well, a, louse. A cold

calculating cruel louse."

The look of disgust returned briefly, and was gone again.

"He used to flog me. As far back as I can remember, he did it.

Not in a temper. Just--cold. I look back and I reckon he used

to enjoy it. Yeah, I reckon that's right. He used to enjoy it."

Then he grinned, a sudden malicious grin.

"Well, he ain't enjoyin' it no more. "

Before I could ask the question, he hurried on.

"Afterwards I had to clear out, you see. I was around fourteen

at the time. I could look after myself. I guess he hadn't

noticed that I wasn't small no more. I was getting stronger,

right? Anyway, he tried it on once too often. And after that,

well, I had to clear out. I didn't have any choice.

"You mean you hit back?"

Again the malicious grin, and the quick sidelong look.

"Oh sure, sure, I hit back. I'd a lot to pay off by then. So

when I started I didn't stop. I don't think I could have

stopped, now I come to think of it. But it stopped him. "

"Then why did you run away?" I asked.

"I had to," he replied. "Just in case. I mean, in case they

found the body. I had a few buddies down by the docks, and they

got me on a ship and no questions asked. I reckon they wondered

why I hadn't cleared out before. They knew my old man. Of

course, they didn't know why I had to clear out, but they didn't

ask no questions. Anyway, I finished up in South America, and

I've been bummin' around ever since."

He paused for a moment or two before he continued. "You might

say he taught me one good lesson before he passed on. That's

what fathers are supposed to do for sons, isn't it?"

I asked him what lesson that was.

"Just that you don't have to take it, " he replied, without any


You have a choice. Dish it out or take it.

He patted an imaginary rifle-butt.

"I don't take it no more."

There was no possible comment. I imagined that there would be no

argument that would avail against the years of beatings, the

years that had turned a boy, an ordinary boy I supposed, into

this cold, impassive killer. I knew now that neither fear of the

consequences nor pangs of conscience would stay Zed's hand today.

When he saw his target in the cross hairs and squeezed the

trigger with all the delicacy of the professional marksman, he

would kill his father all over again. I wondered how many

fathers he had killed, and I could think of nothing to say.

We were both silent for some time after that. What Zed's

thoughts were I had no idea, of course, but my own were more

confused and despairing than they had ever been. I tried to see

any essential difference between myself and Zed, and could find

none. We were both what we had been made, and in the last

analysis it seemed to me that his part in this enterprise was

less culpable than mine.

Suddenly, thinking of Zed's father, I remembered mine whom I had

never seen and was filled with self-loathing. What would he have

thought of his son if he could have seen me now?

I asked myself where things might have gone differently, at what

point in my life I might have taken some decision which would

have changed its course so that I should not have come to be

standing on this spot on this November day. There were many such

points and yet there were none. Every step, I now saw, was a

mere inching forward. There had been no decisive leaps, no point

at which I could say that a certain decision had set me

irrevocably on a particular road. We are not automata. It had

happened like that, and the inference was that it could not have

happened any other way, but the decision had been mine.

And now I stood here, committed to an act for which I had neither

motive nor stomach, but committed just the same. There was no

way back along this road. Even as I stood there, scanning the

rows of parked automobiles, I knew that eyes were on me, almost

casually watching to see that I carried out my appointed chore.

No doubt at some moment, already decided, they would remind me of

their presence and their determination to see that I went through

with it.

I looked down at Zed.

"What time do you have?"

He came to with a start, and looked almost angry. "Jesus Christ,

man, he said. "Ain't the figures up there big enough for you

then?" And he gestured towards the building behind me.

All the same he glanced at his wrist before I could turn and


"Ten o'clock," he said. "There won't be any more cars in here

now, I guess. "

He caught my look. "Just a hunch," he said. "They won't want

anybody gumming up the works round here."

And he gestured towards the spot on which he was standing.

I protested against that. He couldn't really believe that all

the authorities in Dallas were crooked.

"Not all," he said. "But enough. Enough to keep Nosey Parkers

out of our hair till this job's done. just wait and see, that's


And he gave his mirthless grin again.

There was another long silence while each of us digested his own

thoughts. Then he suddenly said, "Mick, what's your excuse?

Where were you raised? Not in the States, either. "

I spent the next hour and more telling him the story of my life.

Or perhaps I was telling myself. He proved to be a most

attentive listener. It was as though some part of Zed had been

frozen at the age of fourteen; this immature part hung on every

word of my story. He was the first person, and the last until

now, to whom I had confided so much. Except, perhaps, for Gerda.

When I reached the end he sat for some time in silence. Then he

said, "Screwy, ain't it?"

I knew what he meant. He had been thinking along the same lines

that I had considered earlier.

"You know, Mick," he said. "That's an incredible story. If I

weren't standing right here right now I'd say 'Horse feathers'.

But we sit here - me, anyway, - and it's just another job. With

one difference, of course. Oh sure, I've got a few butterflies.

My guts are crawling a bit. But it's not the job. It's them.

The guys that fixed this lousy deal. Just another job. Only this

time I don't collect--not the way I reckoned to collect. What

say we just walk away from it?"

But his grave eyes belied the banter in his voice. And the cold

grin on his face said louder than words that he was

metaphorically whistling to keep his spirits up.

Suddenly he looked past me, and began to scramble to his feet

with a look of apprehension.

Look out!" he said, in a low voice. "Seems we've got company.

Standing at the end of the fence was a man in his early thirties,

I judged, in a plaid jacket. It called to mind my earlier

experience of such clothing. But I had little time to dwell on

such things, for on seeing us he hurried towards us and I saw

that he was carrying a brown case which was clearly meant to hold

a rifle.

As he came up to us, he said, "Wait there! I'll be back.

And he hurried past us, still carrying the rifle case, towards

the rail tracks.

A short time later he was back, and Zed said, "Hey! What about

our gun?"

The man stopped, reached in his pocket and said, "That's yours!

And he handed Zed an automatic revolver.

We both looked at him in astonishment.

"Orders," he said. "They decided you'd have a job to get rid of

the rifle quickly, so you use this. "

Zed was not looking as disconcerted as I would have expected. He

hoisted the automatic in his hand, as if getting used to the feel

of it.

The young man said, "You'd rather have that, anyway, wouldn't

you?" And Zed nodded. When the man had gone, I said, "What's all

this?" "They've thought of everything," he said. "I wasn't too

crazy about that rifle. This is my meat."

And he balanced the automatic in his hand again, and slipped it

into his pocket.

"A forty-five, " he said. "It'd blow a barn door apart.

I couldn't see much cause for satisfaction, I said. If we were

to have a dog's chance of getting clear, there had to be no

mistake. If he missed the target we were dead men.

"Relax! " he said. "You're talking to a pro. I shan't miss.

At this range? They must have been checking up. I'm not a rifle

man. Never have been. This is the sort of baby I'm used to. I'm

not crazy about rifles."

And he patted the sagging pocket which held the gun.

The time dragged on towards noon. I had just decided to squat

beside Zed, when I saw a station wagon move into the parking area

in front of the railroad track. I crouched down, and said to

Zed, "You said there'd be no more traffic through here.


"You were wrong. Don't get up too quickly."

"What is it?" he asked, scrambling to his feet. "Cops?"

"No," I replied. "Not cops. A station wagon. Seems to be

snooping around. On the prowl."

"Yeah. Give you two guesses. What's the betting one or two of

these cars have got a guy inside with a gun on us? I reckon

these babies are just letting us and them know that they've not

forgotten us."

Twice more during the next twenty minutes or so we saw a car

approach from the same direction and cruise about. They could

have been innocent motorists seeking a parking space, but there

was something about their deliberate progress which gave the lie

to that. The last one of all came even nearer as if to underline

the impossibility of our doing anything but what we had been

ordered to do.

I told Zed about this third car, but he seemed quite unmoved now.

"One way or another, it's the end of the road for me, Mick." He

said it, almost to himself, without looking in my direction.

Before I could ask what he meant, he went on, "I reckon I'd have

been smart to stop up there in the Windy City, 'stead of comin'

South. But it sounded like a good deal, and by the time I found

out what sort of a deal it was, it was too late to back out.

It's too late for wishin', too. Either I'm gonna get mine or I'm

gonna get clear. But either way, there's no goin' back to Chi."

He paused for a moment, and laughed uneasily.

"Don't pay no attention to me. I always talk a lot just before.

Nerves, I guess."

Then he laughed again, scrambled to his feet and reached up to

look over the fence. Then he stepped back and stood on the

fender of the car for a better view. One quick look seemed to

suffice, for he stepped down again almost at once.

"Quite a party," he said. "Mick, I'm not leavin' this gun. I

don't care about the orders. But I'll level with you. If you

want to toss for who takes it, I'm willing."

I looked at him. He was very white, but there was a determined

line to his mouth. But the waiting was over. He was now


"No thanks, Zed," I replied.

"You're sure?"

I nodded.

"Right," he said. "Sounds as if things are gettin' lively over

there. Let me know if you hear motorcycles, eh? Can't be long

to go now."



The seconds crawled by. Beyond the fence there was sporadic

chatter, but nothing that resembled the sound of an enormous,

welcoming crowd. I was about to comment on this when Zed

suddenly burst out with, "Christ! I'm that busy shouting

'Whoopee' about the gun, I've-Christ!"

"What is it?" I asked.

"Where's the headpiece?"

My guts turned over.

"Jesus Christ!" he said. "That's really fouled it up. That's

what comes of changing plans! Just a bunch of bloody amateurs!"

I had a sudden idea. Taking the key from my pocket I unlocked

the trunk. Lying on the floor was the headpiece. I pointed it

out to Zed, but he was badly shaken.

"Relax! " I said. "It's all here.

But he continued to curse until he ran down.

"Listen!" I said. "There's the motorcycles."

The occasional crackle of exhausts could now be heard, faint and

far off, and approaching only slowly. Zed held his head to one

side, listening.

"Gimme the headpiece! " he said.

I took the headpiece from the trunk and handed it to him. Then I

turned to fasten the lid again, and when I turned back he had the

headpiece on and was listening with his eyes half closed. At

length he nodded as though in acknowledgment of some signal and

turned to the fence.

"They're on, " he said, in answer to my unspoken question.

The noise of the approaching parade was now louder, and the sound

of exhausts was clearer and approaching more quickly. There was

the occasional backfire. Suddenly the noise increased as if they

had burst out of a tunnel and almost at once the engine notes

dropped as if they had slowed.

From sheer habit, Zed snapped his fingers to me. I tapped his

pocket, and he nodded. Drawing out the gun, he cocked the safety

catch back and climbed on the fender. There he eased himself

into position, and raised the gun. I watched his every movement,

icy cold.

The roar now seemed almost upon me, and the occasional backfire

and pop of the exhausts was confusing. But Zed. was very still.

Suddenly I heard shots. There was no doubt about it. That

wasn't backfiring, I thought.

Almost at once I was aware that Zed was drawing in his breath.

He held it.

Suddenly there was a sound that seemed to, fill the heavens, and

Zed's body jerked.

The next moment he was scrambling down, and away. I stood

momentarily bewildered. This was wrong. I should be putting the

gun and the headpiece in the trunk.

I was suddenly conscious of the stink of the explosion and the

babel of sound which was coming from the other side of the fence,

after that first appalled silence. Sirens were screaming. They

seemed to inject me with a fever. I locked the lid of the trunk,

why I had no idea, and flipped the key into the exhaust pipe. It

struck the mouth of the pipe, and fell to the ground. Cursing, I

scrambled on the earth for it, and the second time it went home.

It seemed to me that all my movements were agonizingly slow, but

I suppose only a few seconds had passed.

I looked up. Zed, still wearing the headpiece, was leaping away,

scrambling over cars.

And then I saw something else at the same moment that he became

aware of it. Two men, in white shirts and dark pants, looking

like uniformed men without their jackets, were watching him,

observing his approach, and, it seemed to me, weighing up how to

cut him off.

The next moment I was sure, for as Zed swerved and began to move

to his right, they too moved to head him off. As I watched, they

were joined by a third, a man wearing a windcheater.

Suddenly I became aware of my own danger. Instinctively I

dropped down behind the line of cars, and scurried along the

fence until I reached the colonnade. Then I stood up, trying

hard to look like a pursuer rather than a fugitive.

A policeman suddenly appeared, rushing towards me. I turned in

the direction of the rail yard, and pointed as if I had just seen

someone. He barged past me, gun at the ready, the archetypal

beefy American cop. I strolled round the colonnade in the

direction of the street. People brushed past me on the heels of

the cop, avid for more excitement. The first shock was over, and

the sensations were about to begin.

But I was not destined to go much farther. As I reached the end

of the colonnade, the whole area seemed to erupt policemen. One

of the first of these with gun waving, stood squarely in front of


"Right, buster, you come with me, huh?"

So Zed had been wrong about the police. If they had been fixed,

they were putting on a good show. They were saturating the whole

of the area behind the fence with men. Suddenly there were

shouts, and they turned back in the direction of the building

called the Texas School Book Depository. As they came, I could

see them peering into cars, trying door handles. But my guardian

refused to be drawn.

He signed to me to raise my hands, thrusting the barrel of the

gun into my chest to emphasize the point. As I did so he grabbed

one of my arms and turned me round. The next moment the other

arm was pulled behind me. I heard the click of handcuffs and felt

the chill metal on my wrists. Then I was being urged forward

with his gun.

My immediate reaction to this turn of events was an overwhelming

sense of relief that it was all over. There was no further need

for anxiety or rumination, and no call now for the agony of

decision. Things were now out of my hands altogether.

I was half conscious of curious eyes on me as I was driven

forward. Put I was not called upon to bear the scrutiny long.

At the corner of the Book Depository I was bundled into a squad

car. The next moment it took off with an eldritch wailing from

its siren.

My reception at the station was not at all as I had expected.

There was none of the bureaucratic detail which marks a Russian

incarceration. I was merely bundled into a communal cell with

several other men in similar case, and left there, presumably to

be interrogated later. The station was a turmoil of frantic

policemen, most of them rushing about, and all of them

shouting-and yet the impression was one of activity rather than

purpose. There were heated arguments which reached us in the

cell, but no great atmosphere of efficiency.

The other prisoners talked, some with the casual air of

experience, others guardedly, some in monosyllables. I held my

tongue, knowing police methods and assuming that at least one man

in the cell was a stool-pigeon, put there to listen to our talk

and to report upon it later.

I had ample time to consider my own position. When the time

came, should I speak or not? Better not, I thought. My papers

would certainly pass an ordinary examination, but closer scrutiny

would surely prove too much for them. On the other hand, it did

not seem probable that the conspirators would provide evidence

against me and there was none that the police could trace to me.

The worst they could charge me with was loitering about in a

sensitive area. It seemed politic to say as little as possible.

But I was never called upon to put my conclusion to the test. As

I dozed fitfully on the bench, there came a sound of footsteps

outside, and the door clanked open.

"Come on! Outside, all of you!

We scrambled to our feet, and made for the door.

The time had come, it seemed, for the interrogation.

But nothing of the kind. We were chivvied towards the door, and

told to beat it. One of the more vociferous began to complain of

wrongful arrest, and to ask what was the big idea?

The policeman looked him up and down before replying. "We got

him. The guy that did it."

So Zed had been right after all. Or could it be-? My mind went

back to the other shots, the ones just before Zed fired. I ought

to have realized that they wouldn't trust a job of this magnitude

to one man armed with an automatic and an assistant. There must

have been others. The question now was, had they pulled in the

stool-pigeon, as Zed had forecast? Or had they laid hands on

another team of assassins?

Whichever it was, this was no time to be hanging about. I was

still in great danger, and the sooner I made myself scarce the


But where to go? I was almost a total stranger to Dallas. That

was bad enough, but what was infinitely worse was that I had no

idea who might be my enemy, nor whether they had been informed

that I had been taken, and had therefore put a man on the station

to keep an eye on things. I might be under observation already;

I had to assume that I was, if I were to have any hope of


The first thing to do then was to shake off a possible 'tail', so

for the next hour or so I concentrated entirely on that, doubling

and redoubling, using department stores, lifts, public

transport-my task made infinitely more difficult by ignorance of

the identity of my shadow, or even whether I had a shadow at all.

But at length I convinced myself that, if I had been under

observation when I left the police station, I was free of it now.

I found a small run-down hotel, booked in under my Swiss name of

Schneider, and stayed in my room without leaving it that evening.

I ignored the bed, tempting though it looked, and arranged the

only chair which looked even half comfortable behind the door.

The last thing I did before settling down for some much-needed

sleep was to draw the curtains across the window, lock the door,

and remove the key. At least if they found me I would get some


Then I told myself firmly that I would worry about such things

as how to get out of Dallas after I had got myself a good sleep.

My sleep was undisturbed, and I woke next morning feeling very

much refreshed. I sluiced my face in the wash-bowl, checked out

without a meal, and made my way to a barber-shop, where I hoped

to pick up some gossip which might provide some useful clues as

to what had happened since the afternoon before. But I was out

of luck. There were no other customers, and the barber was

taciturn. I thought it wiser not to try to get him to talk in

case he remembered me.

Shaved and fresh, I faced the world with a better spirit, which

was raised even higher by a good breakfast. Then, purely for

safety's sake, I repeated my performance of the previous

afternoon to ensure that I was not under surveillance.

Satisfied that I was in the clear for the moment, I bought a map

of Dallas and the surrounding country and settled down in a drug

store to study it.

I knew, and the conspirators knew, that I needed to get out of

Dallas fast. The farther I could get from the killing ground the

greater would be my chances of getting clean away. Right here at

the focal point my enemies were altogether too thick on the

ground for comfort; the more distance I put between myself and

Dallas the more sparsely would their resources be spread.

I argued with myself that the more obvious routes for a quick

getaway were out of the question, for that very reason-they were

only too obvious. Airports and railway stations are notoriously

difficult places for an agent to negotiate, and correspondingly

easy for his opponents. They are natural 'funnels' through which

all travellers by that means must pass.

I came to the conclusion, therefore, that the best way out was by

road, if only because there are usually alternatives to the

natural funnels such as bridges and road junctions. But merely

to get hold of a vehicle was not enough. I wanted the right kind

of vehicle, one which would not draw attention to itself.

I assumed that my pursuers would reason that I would opt for

speed, and go for a fast car to get me away from the scene as

quickly as possible. I reasoned that the speed of the vehicle

was less important than its anonymity, and went to find a

used-car lot, in search of inspiration.

But I hadn't bargained for the attentions of the salesmen. Even

at this time of the day they were looking for employment or a

fast buck. And this was not at all to my liking, since the

longer they stayed with me the more likely they would be to

remember my face later. Their persistence was the more

exasperating in that they insisted on pressing me. to look at all

the wrong automobiles, the type of fast showy job I was most

anxious to avoid.

I did not want a large fast car; I wanted something which could

maintain a reasonable turn of speed without drawing attention to


I was just leaving the third or fourth lot - I forget which -

when my eyes lighted on the very thing. A large breakdown

truck-big, reliable, and as memorable as last week's news. The

last vehicle in which a desperate man could be expected to make a

getaway, but one with a reasonable maximum speed.

The salesman had already lost interest in such an unpromising

prospect. When I went back and pointed out the. truck he looked

at me with a total lack of comprehension, A wrecking truck? I

persisted, and he grew almost annoyed. What did I think he was?

Sell their one and only wrecker? Get lost, bud.

I told him that I wasn't being stupid. What I was looking for

was a sort of general utility vehicle for some rough farm work,

to help out when the tractor was in use elsewhere, and I'd just

realized that a truck like that with a winch would be just the

very thing. I didn't want to give a lot for it, and of course I

didn't want to deprive him of his only truck. But could he tell

me where I could get one? Condition unimportant, providing that

it was a goer.

When he finally saw that I meant it, he admitted with some

reluctance that he hadn't got such a thing at the moment. But

his salesman's brain was obviously working fast. Any other day,

he said, he might have been able to offer me the choice of two or

three, but I'd picked a bad time. I took his lead and said that

naturally I realized that it was a lot to ask straight off the

cuff but did he know where he could lay hands on such a job? Had

he any contacts?

The word 'contacts' did the trick. He launched out into another

stream of patter. I'd come to the right man. The used-car

market was-well, he didn't believe in knocking his competitors,

but he was confident that I'd get a straighter deal with him than

some he could mention.

I managed to bring him back to the point. I said I'd much prefer

to deal with a reputable firm rather than be gypped by

smart-alecks. Besides, I didn't have a lot of time, because I

was only in town for the Presidential thing, and I'd got to get


That started him off again, but the gist of his comment on the

event was that perhaps it wasn't altogether a bad thing-he'd

thought for a long time that JFK was too thick with the pinkos,

and to think he'd got his from a Commie, eh?

I brought him back to the point again, and he said after going

through a sort of pantomime of deep thought that perhaps he could

put a finger on one or two guys that might have a used wrecker.

Might not be such a good proposition as some of the models he had

on the lot, he said, with a last attempt at recovering some

self-esteem. Ah, I said, but it was a work-horse I was after,

and I wouldn't dream of putting a good used automobile through

that kind of treatment. Besides, I went on, I wouldn't be using

the truck on the highway so I didn't want to be bothered with

licensing flapdoodle. I'd just take a chance on getting it to

the farm. I gently hinted that of course he'd be able to handle

a small detail like that if the price was right, huh? Just a

quick cash job, no bill of sale, or receipt or anything.

He made the expected sounds of wounded honor, and pretended to be

less than enthusiastic about a job that wasn't right on the

level. I waited without further comment until the stream ran

dry, and at last he said he would see what he could do. Away he

went to the telephone, and was gone some time. When he came back

he said he was having trouble. The guy he'd contacted wanted

everything on the up-and-up with no chance of comebacks.

I turned to go, saying that I was prepared to pay a reasonable

price for a truck in roadworthy condition, with a bit over the

odds for a quick sale and no questions asked, providing he could

swing it without a lot of formalities. All I wanted him to do

was to get hold of a suitable truck, give it a quick once-over

for the sake of his own reputation, and we could settle the deal

with one cash payment and no records.

He was now quite certain that I was on the wrong side of the law,

and I was happy that he should think so, if only to ensure his

silence should anyone come along asking questions. I thought it

wise to reinforce his suspicions.

"Look," I said. "Get me a truck like that by three this

afternoon, and there's an extra fifty bucks over and above the

price for you in the deal. How's that?"

He knew now that I was up to no good. I said I would leave the

fifty bucks as a down payment, and be back with the rest at

three. If I wasn't satisfied with his choice then we'd call it

off, and the fifty bucks would be his anyway.

He became altogether more enthusiastic at the sight of money, and

I took care to let him see that I had a sizeable roll, He said he

would have to see my license to drive. I said he had already

seen it, and the fifty dollars in his hand proved it. Of course

if he wanted to deny it we could call the whole deal off right

now and he could return the fifty. He began to look at me with

more respect, but he wasn't' beaten yet. He asked for 25% as

deposit on what he thought the truck would cost. I said no deal.

What I would do for him was to be back at three, ready, willing

and able to pay a reasonable price for a sound job, no

formalities and no questions asked.

Right? A deal was a deal. He could take it or leave it.

I knew that I was going to pay an exorbitant price for the truck,

but I calculated that it was worth it, since I should be buying

more than the vehicle. The moment it left his lot it would take

with it all memory of the deal, so far as he and any enquiries

were concerned.

I collected the truck on the stroke of three, declined to ask for

any record of the transaction and paid the whole sum in hundred

dollar bills. I'd never seen him in my life, I said, and I

wasn't likely to be back unless the truck proved to be a hot

property, in which case my memory would return very quickly. He

swore that I had a perfectly good title to it, and as for anybody

asking questions, who'd believe that a customer would come into a

used-car lot and buy a wrecking truck? Ridiculous. So he hadn't

sold anything and I hadn't bought anything. O.K.? He winked, and

pocketed the money.

I drove the truck into the first gas station I saw. The gear box

had seen better days, but the engine note was healthy enough, and

I certainly couldn't have wished for a less noticeable vehicle.

I pulled over to one side of the forecourt, and the attendant

came out from the workshop which stood behind and to one side of

the station.

"If it's gas you want, brother, pull over here, won't yah?"

I said gas was what I wanted but not first of all. He looked

mildly astonished. I pointed to the truck.

"I just picked this up from the repair shop down town. When I

took it in they said it wouldn't be ready until Tuesday. I call

in this morning to see how it's shaping and they tell me it's

ready to take away.


"Well, you see, I wasn't aiming to drive it back today. Not in

this outfit."

"What do you expect me to do about it?"

"I'm after a pair of coveralls," I said. "Any old pair. I don't

mind paying for them, but naturally I don't want to buy a new

pair just for this once - just to save spoiling my clothes. Not

that they're all that hot, but you know what I mean."

He was giving the matter more thought now. I said I just thought

that a work station like this might have an old pair of coveralls

about that they wouldn't mind getting rid of-for a consideration,

of course.

He scratched his head at the unusual request, finally said he

would have to ask his boss, and went away.

He was back again a few minutes later, now smiling.

"Boss says we've got some just back from the cleaning service.

How's that?"

"Great," I said. "Wouldn't get any grease on my other clothes

then. How much?" He looked doubtful at that. "Five bucks, the

boss said. Got to cover the cleaning charge as well, you see.

It was outrageous, and we both knew it. I hesitated just long

enough, I thought, and said if he'd throw in a cap like the one

he was wearing it was a deal.

"Brother," he said, "you sure know how to make a deal. O.K. the

gas people give us the caps anyway.

I slipped on the uniform whilst he filled up the truck and

checked the oil. When he had finished I paid for the gas and the

coveralls and winked at him conspiratorially.

"Thanks a lot," I said. "Don't worry, I shan't tell the boss you

sold a pair of his coveralls and didn't tell him."

At once the guilt showed in his eyes, and I blessed my luck. He

wouldn't be about to answer any awkward questions when I'd gone.

I was about to pull out when I remembered. Sun glasses. I

leaned out of the cab.

"Hey! You sell sun glasses?"

He gave me the sun glasses-a sort of propitiation, I thought.

Cheap plastic, but they would serve.

Outside on the forecourt was the long mirror in which the staff

was supposed to check on their appearance before serving the

customers. I got a passing glimpse of myself in coveralls cap

and sun glasses. I hardly recognized myself. All I had to do

now when I reached some spot where I wasn't observed was to dirty

up my face and hands a little; they weren't in character. But

that could wait.

It was after four o'clock, and high time I was on my way. I

pulled into a parking lot, and took out the map. First there was

a decision to be made -to go on, or to wait. Would it pay me to

get my head down for a while? I decided not. This was one hunt,

it seemed to me, which would not be abandoned for a very long


There was no future in hanging about in the hope that my pursuers

would lose interest, since they could never feel safe again while

I was at large. I could see no argument even in waiting for

nightfall before pushing on.

But by what route? Assuming that they would try to read my mind,

what route would they choose?

The roads out of Dallas, I noticed, run almost directly in the

major compass directions. West to Fort Worth and New Mexico,

north to Oklahoma City, east to Shreveport and New Orleans, south

to San Antonio and the Mexican border. The first was out; it

simply took me deeper into enemy territory. The second was a

possibility; to go north and then come round in a wide sweep,

doubling back towards the obvious escape route to the south. The

eastern route suffered from the obvious disadvantage that they

would expect that to be my likeliest bolt-hole, and would watch

it even more closely. The south offered two alternatives-to head

for the Mexican border and swing east towards the Gulf ports if

my escape route was blocked.

The obvious road to the south was Highway 35, so I avoided it;

there was a junction where the road going south from Fort Worth

met the highway going south from Dallas which had danger written

all over it. They would surely stake out that junction very

thoroughly. The most direct route was clearly not the safest.

The one I eventually settled for was by no means the shortest

route, but it seemed to offer the fewest hazards. First, I would

take the relatively minor highway towards Athens and

Jacksonville, then turn south-west on Highway 79 until I reached

Highway 77, then south again to join Highway 59 to Laredo and the

border. I heartily wished I knew the road, and whether it would

be an easy one to police, but at least it seemed to offer chances

of switching to other routes if need be. And at worst it offered

the best chance of keeping me off the major roads out of Dallas,

and off the main highways between the larger towns-and the

hazards would grow smaller the farther I travelled.

I committed the route to memory. I wanted my eyes for the road.

Besides, I reasoned, how often would one expect to see a driver

such as I pretended to be poring over a map? Not in his own

state, surely, and on familiar ground?

Then I started up the truck and pulled out, trying to drive with

the casual ease of the professional, but watching every other

vehicle on the road, as if it must surely contain those who

sought me.



I had travelled barely half a mile when I saw that there was a

snarl-up in the traffic ahead-an accident, perhaps, or a couple

of drivers double-parked and causing a jam. It didn't seem a

good idea to drive on and join them, and sit there like a dummy


everybody stood around and gaped; a fixed target for whoever

should happen to come along. I pulled the truck over to the side

of the road, and jumped out; in this kind of situation I have

always felt safer when I have room to manoeuver.

A few yards on there was a newsvendor. A newspaper would be

useful, I thought, I could retire behind it if the need came.

Carefully I chose a moment when he was dealing with three people

at once to buy my own paper. He would be less likely to remember

me that way.

But I hadn't bargained for the picture on the front page.


A second glance reassured me. No, it wasn't Zed. Rather like

him, same build and around the same age, I reckoned, but not Zed.

I saw for the first time the patsy, the fall guy, the man who

will doubtless go down into history as the assassin of the

President of the United States. Almost no one now believes it,

but that's history as it has always been.

I folded the paper, and went thoughtfully back to the truck.

The road up ahead was clear now.

Putting the newspaper on the seat beside me, I started up the

motor and drove on towards Athens, my decision to keep the road

under careful scrutiny threatened by the conjectures that filled

my head to the exclusion of all other thought.

I had to force myself to wait until I had leisure in which to

contemplate the event. Right now, I told myself, I had my work

cut out to drive the truck, watch for direction signs, and keep

my eyes skinned for possible pursuit.

So it was some hours later, by the dim interior light of the

cab, that I read the brief, misleading chronicle of the man who

had 'killed' John Kennedy.

The more I read, the more I found myself coming round to Zed's

view. It was all too pat, as he had said it would be. But he had

been wrong in one important respect. Oswald had not been shot

while 'resisting arrest.'

There were two possibilities; either Zed had been wrong or the

conspirators' plans had gone awry. I recalled the other shots I

had heard before Zed had fired. Assuming that there had been

other teams than ours in Dealey Plaza and that the plotters

understandably wanted the fact to be concealed. they might well

have hoped to do so by planting the deed on the back of one

man-and for that man's mouth then to be stopped. If that were

so, their plans had failed in one respect, for that man's mouth

had not been stopped.

I was now in double jeopardy. If this man Oswald talked-assuming

that he knew at least something of the plot-I might soon find and

police as well as conspirators on my tracks. And whether he

talked or not, it was still essential for the conspirators to

locate me, and Zed, and any other instruments who might have

thought as we did and made a run for it. They had to silence us

before we spoke our piece, or added Our voices to his.

Oswald, I reasoned, must now feel that his days were numbered

unless he talked. If he knew anything at all, he had nothing to

lose by confessing it now-now rather than later. If might save

his neck. And the conspirators must have realized this already;

they would be desperate to silence him before he talked. And

even if they managed this they would not have done, for there was

also the possibility that Zed, or myself, or one of the other

lesser fry might be taken in, like Oswald, by a policeman who had

not been told what part he was to play. And, if Zed was right,

the Dallas police would be as anxious as the conspirators to find

us and silence us.

I made up my mind that it would be foolhardy to go any farther

during the hours of darkness. I found a quiet parking lot on the

edge of the town of Palestine, and settled myself as comfortably

as I could for the night.

But my sleep was destined to be rudely disturbed, though not by

the nightmares which had troubled me for so long-presumably now

that I was actively occupied my mind was less troubled-and before

I had much in the way of rest and relaxation.

I was wakened from sleep by the sound of police sirens.

Instinctively I sought the outdoors, and slipped out of the cab

as soon as I realized what the sound was, silently thanking them

for their childish love of loud noise. I groped in the darkness

for the low wall which surrounded the parking lot and clambered

over it. A long shadow deeper than the night seemed to indicate

a hedge or a line of low trees. I crept over to them, and safe

in their shadow looked out over the parking lot.

A few moments later, with sirens screaming like banshees, the

squad cars swung into the parking lot and their headlights swept

across the area. The sirens wailed away to silence, doors

slammed, and I heard the sound of footsteps and voices. I

supposed that they were inspecting the parked vehicles. After a

few minutes they drove off again, apparently satisfied that all

was well. The sirens died away in the night air, and I was very

glad that I had heard them in time.

I was more determined than ever that I would not move during the

hours of darkness. I had also learned my lesson about sleeping

in the truck. I found a waterproof sheet in the back of the

truck, wrapped myself in it, and spent the rest of the night on

the bare ground beneath it. I was not disturbed again.

As I climbed back into the cab I weighed the question of going on

with my plan, in the light of the night's events, Suddenly, and

for no logical reason, I became aware of a feeling of deep

revulsion at the thought of yet another day of driving from

pillar to post in the attempt to avoid an unknown and unseen

enemy. I decided then and there to make one all-out dash for the


I took out the map. Caution returned for a moment to warn me of

the dangers of the main highways. But once I had decided, I was

determined to carry it through this time despite everything,

short of an actual roadblock.

I covered the twenty or thirty miles back to Jacksonville, turned

south on Route 69, and stopped neither for food nor rest until I

reached Port Bolivar, some two hundred and thirty miles farther


I could now drive no longer, and I wanted to be rid of the truck;

I needed another sort of transportation altogether now.

There was a ferry to Galveston. I decided on that. I drove the

truck round to the rear of a derelict building, and set out on


I had not for a moment considered making my way out of the

country by orthodox means, though it was not because of any

doubts about my documents; I was pretty certain that they would

pass any cursory examination.

I had developed a healthy respect for the thoroughness of the

organization behind the conspiracy, and had no intention of

tangling with them if it could be avoided. I saw little hope of

avoiding them if I tried to leave the country through one of the

usual 'funnels'.

What I was looking for now was the kind of sleazy drinking-place

near the docks where ordinary seamen are usually to be found. By

the middle of the evening I had found what I wanted.

There were a dozen or fifteen men in the place when I entered,

and at first they regarded me with something like hostility. But

as the evening went on, they seemed to accept that I was not what

they had feared, some sort of plain-clothes nark. The drink

flowed, mostly at my expense, their tongues loosened, and their

gestures became expansive.

When I judged that the time was ripe I broached my subject. I

wanted a passage out, I said. Where was not so important as now.

No, my passport was in order, it wasn't that. But I'd had a

little-misunderstanding? -with the Texas State Police. I hinted

at a woman, and a little something for the man who helped to get

me fixed up.

It was a wizened little Englishman, a monkey-like seaman with

ears like a loving-cup's handles, one who rejoiced in the name of

'Hatrack', who came to my aid. His ship had put in at Galveston

for a minor repair after a rough Atlantic crossing, though it

wasn't a scheduled port of call. They were outward bound from

London for Coca Cola, as he called it, to pick up a cargo of

sulphur. They'd had a wino on board who'd had to be put off here

after a bout of D.T.'s, and the captain had wanted rid of him

before there was any more trouble. So they were another man

short, and they'd started out with a smallish complement, anyway.

He thought he might be able to swing it, providing he got me on

board without the old man knowing, and then produced me when they

were out at sea. There might be a bloody row he said, and I

might get locked up, but he hardly thought so if I was willing to

turn a hand. It was always tough to raise a crew for this run it

was a lousy job.

He was as good as his word. I was spirited on board by a crew

which was unlikely to arouse any suspicion in their maudlin

state, and less than twenty-four hours later we were crossing the

Gulf to Coatzacoalcos.

The little man had been right. There was a row, and it was lousy

work. Hour after weary hour we dragged the huge vessel backwards

and forwards at Coatzacoaltos so that the holds should be

completely filled with sulphur. There was sulphur everywhere, in

every crevice of skin and clothing, in the hair, the eyes, the

nose, the mouth, the ears, in the food and in the beds. Until

the ship was fully loaded we lived in a yellow fog that had the

men monotonously blaspheming against the life they led.

Unlike them, I went about my duties with a lighter heart than I

had known for some time. Nor did I much resent the bitter cold of

the latter part of the voyage back to England.

At Liverpool I said Goodbye, and agreed that one voyage like that

was enough to last a man a lifetime. No, I said, I shan't be

signing on again.

One month later I was back in Beirut.

It would be hard for me to explain why I came back to this place,

except perhaps there was the thought of meeting Sayeed again. If

it was that, then I was to be disappointed, for he was to be

found in none of his usual haunts. I dared not ask questions in

case it provoked the return question: 'Who wants to know?'

For the time being, I have some money, but it will not last for

ever. I must find some means of replenishing the store.

There ought, I suppose, to be some kind of grand climactic close

to a story not altogether humdrum, I think. But life is not like

that. Not often, anyway.

I would like to see Sayeed again.



I have come to the end of my story. Perhaps it is the end in

another sense; today, the fifteenth day of March 1966, and two

weeks after my sixty-first birthday, in this town of Beirut which

has sheltered me since the day two years ago that I returned from

my last 'mission', I saw once more the man who dogged my

footsteps from Beirut to Asuncion and thence to New Orleans.

I have no proof that he means me harm, but I cannot think he

wishes me well. And the irony of it is that I do not know for

which of my enemies he works, Russian, German, Arabian, or

American. And strangely enough, I hardly care. I have done with


One day soon I shall stop him and confront him and ask him what

he wants with me. I have little doubt in my mind that he will

have a proposition for me, and that the proposition will have

little in it that could possibly be to my advantage.

And, of course, I have to remind myself that he may not be the

only one who would like information from me. I do not pride

myself that I am a highly significant personage, but it remains

true that my memory is a book that a few would like to open and

read. Or else close for ever.

If this story ever sees the light of day, and if it could point

the finger without fear of contradiction at the men behind the

assassination of John Kennedy, then indeed my days would be

quickly numbered. And for that reason I find it hard to explain

why I have gone to the trouble of telling my story at all. But I

grow more conscious with every day that my death really is an

end, and that the story dies with me. The man is not important,

but I believe the story deserves to be told.

I would like to be able to say that I know who were the men of

that great conspiracy, but I do not think that now they will ever

be named. I believe they are men who are well known in high

places in that turbulent country, but their treason succeeded,

and when that happens there are few who will dare to name the


What I do know is what I am told -- many Americans now believe,

that Lee Harvey Oswald was not the man behind the gun which blew

off the skull of John Kennedy; I cannot prove it, but I believe

the finger on that trigger was Zed's.

Had Oswald survived, and his murderer Jack Ruby, there is a faint

hope that the truth might have emerged. But the hope is truly

faint; the men who organized the plot have made it only too clear

to any who thought to speak that the wiser part was silence.

Since my return from that country I have read eagerly every word

about the assassination on which I could lay hands. It seems to

me that the event was a predictable phenomenon in a land where

crime seems to be reprehensible only if it is petty and if it

fails. I have no illusions about the Communist philosophy;

neither have I any about the philosophy of capitalism, which

seems to me to reach its lunatic peak in the United States.

Organized business in that country is not at all unlike organized

crime in its doctrines and its practices. The fact that the

capitalist philosophy has taken on overtones of sanctity,

enshrined in phrases like 'private enterprise' ought not to blind

uncommitted men to the truth that there is no enterprise quite so

private as crime, and that the killing of John Kennedy was merely

private enterprise on the grand scale.

The saddening truth for America is that the men who contrived to

murder their President-his own countrymen-managed to conceal

their identities. I believe they were known to one man, and that

he from wrong-headed motives decided that the truth had best not

be known. So he hid the truth which he should have revealed, and

will no doubt go to his grave with his lips still sealed.

No impartial man even without the knowledge that I possess-can

accept that the Warren Commission unearthed the truth about the

assassination. Nor, I believe, can the American people pin their

hopes on discovering the truth when the evidence which was hidden

there is finally taken from the archives after its fifty-year

sleep. The evidence which really matters-the questions which

should have been asked and were not-will die with the men who

should have given it. And the guiltiest man of them all will

soon in the natural course of things be beyond the reach of


I believe that this man knew of the conspiracy and had more than

an idea who was behind it. But he had long shirked the task of

confronting organized crime in his country, and was totally

unprepared to deal with its logical outcome in the Presidential

assassination. Rather than face the real monster which the

American system had spawned he had busied himself tilting at the

windmills of Communist organization in his country. And when the

monster struck in a quite predictable way he looked for another

windmill, a windmill which the conspirators supplied in the

shape of Lee Harvey Oswald.

They almost failed, even then. They had clearly intended that

the body of Oswald should be delivered up riddled with police

bullets, and with all the needful 'evidence' upon his person.

But the police were ham-fisted. They fouled up the killing of

Officer Tippit, they fouled up the comic Oswald arrest, they

fouled up the switching of the rifles in the Book Depository

(Oswald was a terrible shot, anyway, but with the rifle he is

supposed to have used he could hardly have guaranteed to hit a

barn if he had been inside it with the doors closed). Indeed, so

many grievous mistakes were made after the event that only the

most rigorous whitewashing could prevent the truth from coming

out, as it so nearly did.

But they had considerable help in their efforts to suppress the

truth. They were assisted, for all the wrong reasons, by the man

best placed to suppress it-the man whose crusade against

'Communism' had left his country defenseless against the greater

enemy within.

The man is John Edgar Hoover.

There is no concrete proof of that accusation, and I suspect

there may never be. But even without it and with so much

evidence safely under lock and key for many years to come, no

detached observer could study the actions of the F.B.I. after the

assassination without coming to the conclusion that their first

efforts to discover the truth quickly changed to more desperate

efforts to hide it.

If the truth is ever known-and the whole truth may never be-it

will be seen that the Warren Commission was given an impossible

task, the task of finding the truth with all the vital evidence

concealed from them or distorted. So at the end of the day it

was not the evidence which convinced them that Lee Harvey Oswald

was the lone assassin. It was Hoover. The irony of the

situation is that he still believes he chose the best course for

his country.

His is not the only crime committed in the name of patriotism.

The assassination is not the first, nor will it be the last, in

America's history, and in the course of time it will shrink to

its true historic stature. But for that country, the

implications are much more vital than the central event. No

impartial student of history can doubt that on the 22nd of

November 1963 the rot set in for America. The men who engineered

the event, with almost limitless sources of wealth to back them

and the power which that gave them, have had that power enhanced

by their success. The question for that unhappy land, no less

than for my own, is whether the people can find some way to take

the power back from the hands of the men who now possess it.

The future of the world may depend upon the answer to that


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The book Treason For My Daily Bread was released under the name Mikhail Lebedev, the story behind the book and how it came to be published, are arguably almost as controversial as the book itself. I have never seen the book in my life, let alone read it. Taking that into consideration, I thought other Forum members might want to read these excerpts, which I recently discovered, and draw their own conclusions as to the reliability of the information contained therein.

Treason For My Daily Bread [Excerpts]


This is a very interesting book, which I read some years ago & now don't have.

I wondered if it was the brainchild of some Brit, like Kim Philby.

Where did you find the excerpts?

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The book Treason For My Daily Bread was released under the name Mikhail Lebedev, the story behind the book and how it came to be published, are arguably almost as controversial as the book itself. I have never seen the book in my life, let alone read it. Taking that into consideration, I thought other Forum members might want to read these excerpts, which I recently discovered, and draw their own conclusions as to the reliability of the information contained therein.

Treason For My Daily Bread [Excerpts]


This is a very interesting book, which I read some years ago & now don't have.

I wondered if it was the brainchild of some Brit, like Kim Philby.

Where did you find the excerpts?

Well, someone emailed them to me, and I believe they had discovered them on an old jfk newsgroup. There is something rather strange about the whole issue of authorship of the original manuscript. Although, I am no authority concerning the book or the authorship, it is my understanding that Mikhail Mikhailovich Lebedev, was a pseudonym, and that ostensibly no one knew the author's real name. Whether the book is historically accurate or not, is, shall we say, open to debate.

Mae Brussell wrote about this in her article The Nazi Connection to The JFK Assassination, stating "In August 1971, a French paper headlined a news story, "Martin Bormann behind the Kennedy murders." It listed an international band of killers that was located in Texas. They carried out the two assassinations at the German command.

Six years later, June 8, 1977, the London Guardian reported, "Bormann Linked with Kennedy Murder." This story was based on a new book titled, Treason for My Daily Bread by Mikhail Lebedev.

Lebedev detailed how Martin Bormann left Europe, established his current life in Paraguay, and how the fatal head shot to Kennedy was delivered by an agent paid by Bormann, alias of Zed."

After this segment of the article Mae wrote

"Is any of this true?"

And that of course, is the salient question. My perception is that there is a tremendous need for the Eastern European and German fascist connections to the assassination, to be gone over with a fine tooth comb.

I also believe, there is good reason to think that the mentally deteriorating Jack Ruby's statements concerning the same topic may have been more wishful thinking than any of us may have heretofore realized.

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"William Graham "Bill" Stanton (18 August 1917- 6 December 1999) was a British author and radio playwright."

"In 1977, Stanton's first book Treason For My Daily Bread[6] was published. This was a fictional work around the assassination of John F. Kennedy."


"Bill was commissioned by a publisher, Tom Todd, to write a thriller about the J F Kennedy assassination. The story follows the life and misfortunes of Mikel Lebadev, a Ukranian man trained by the KGB, and who subsequently found himself stateless. "

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"William Graham "Bill" Stanton (18 August 1917- 6 December 1999) was a British author and radio playwright."

"In 1977, Stanton's first book Treason For My Daily Bread[6] was published. This was a fictional work around the assassination of John F. Kennedy."


"Bill was commissioned by a publisher, Tom Todd, to write a thriller about the J F Kennedy assassination. The story follows the life and misfortunes of Mikel Lebadev, a Ukranian man trained by the KGB, and who subsequently found himself stateless. "

Here is the source of this information


Bill Stanton is now deceased. I am writing an email to his wife.

The photograph of the book on amazon names the 'editor' as W.G. Stanton.

TREASON - for my daily bread


Bill was commissioned by a publisher, Tom Todd, to write a thriller about the J F Kennedy assassination. The story follows the life and misfortunes of Mikel Lebadev, a Ukranian man trained by the KGB, and who subsequently found himself stateless.

Hiring himself out as a hitman, he is taken on by oil barons in Texas to remove a man who was about to tax them until the pips squeeked.

That man was John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

We cannot replicate the book on this page for copyright reasons.

"Treason - for my daily bread" was published by

Vallancey Press (F.H. Books Limited), PO Box 158, Guernsey

© Vallancey Press, 1977

First Published March 1977 - ISBN : 0 905589009

Edited by John Geraghty
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After reading this material through very thoroughly I am convinced the identity of the author is quite readily apparent - it's obviously William Shakespeare.


Well, actually, I wasn't that far off. WS - William Stanton is British, and he was hired, after all, to write a "thriller," which he did.

It reminds me of Phil Marlowe and Sam Spade, who Ian Fleming credits for inspiring his own style, and even the plot, is similar to Fleming's story "The Spy Who Loved Me," who like "Treason For My Daily Bread" - gets everybody tangled up at a sleezy motel (The Town & Country"?)

In "The Spy Who Loved Me," which LHO checked out of the New Orleans library during the summer of '63, the heroine has a run in with some mobsters - Sluggsly and Horror, Sluggsly being the typical mobster and Horror, a hairless fellow who, like David Ferrie, suffered from Alopecia totalis.

"That means no hair, see?..."

James Bond comes along to rescue the "Bimbo" from these thugs, and in the course of his bedtime story, mentions JFK and verasity of Russian defectors, double and tripple agents.

In any case, TFMDB reminded me of this.


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