This book is dedicated
to my friend
Herbert B. Schlosberg
The Rico Parra Papers
Le Grand Pierre
passed through the gates of the vast Government complex outside Langley. He eased onto the turnpike, then sped toward Washington, touching his briefcase nervously and looking into the rearview mirror. Two cars filled with heavily armed guards followed closely. Sanderson Hooper beside him and Michael Nordstrom in the rear seat remained speechless.
Marsh McKittrick felt small victory in the vindication that was about to be his. Responsible directly to the President on intelligence matters, he had argued vociferously about the Soviet behavior in Cuba since the terrible happening at the Bay of Pigs.
The Soviet Prime Minister had interlarded peace pledges with bold threats for the months of 1962 and acted with growing daring, cunning, and menace.
Sanderson Hooper, one of the most competent intelligence evaluators, had been reluctant to go along until now. The contents of the briefcase finally convinced him.
In a matter of moments the young American President would be faced with a terrible decision. And was not this decision too great a judgment for a single mortal? Was it not God’s decision if the human race should survive or perish?
For an instant McKittrick disliked his own fleeting thought that the President might back down under the sheer weight of the consequences. Who really knew or had any way of knowing the President’s steel? Well ... we’ll all soon find out, McKittrick thought.
His hands became clammy on the wheel of the car. He sighed a half-dozen times to relieve the tension that welled in his chest and he looked again to make sure the guard cars were close at hand.
He opened the side vent to spill in fresh air for relief from the heavy pall of pipe smoke glumly puffed by Sanderson Hooper.
All the clues were there. The sudden increase of shipping from Soviet-bloc nations into a revitalized Cuban port, the influx of thousands of Soviet “technicians.” Numerous unidentified trips to Moscow by key Cuban officials. What did the Cuban buildup mean? There was no real proof, only a myriad of speculations. But it was enough to create a growing uneasiness in the American Congress and rumbles for action.
With instant access to the President, McKittrick, Nordstrom, and Hooper were led immediately to the office in the West Wing.
Marshall McKittrick unsnapped his worn briefcase, withdrew a folder of reconnaissance photographs which had been taken by a U-2 aircraft from high altitude. He spread the pictures on the President’s desk and handed him a high-powered magnifying glass.
“Woods near San Cristóbal, Mr. President. This site has been recently cleared. Blowups and the photo analysts will be here within the hour.”
“Spell it out, Mac,” the President said tersely.
McKittrick looked to Hooper, then Nordstrom. “It is still speculative but we are all in accord....”
“Spell it out,” the President repeated.
“In our opinion, the Soviet Union is introducing missiles into Cuba armed with atomic warheads and aimed at the East Coast and Midwest United States.”
The President set the magnifying glass down slowly, resigned that he would have to hear the words he had so long dreaded.
“We are in a state of grave national crisis,” Sanderson Hooper blurted as if speaking to himself.
“I’ll say we are,” the President answered with a tinge of irony in his voice. “Once we walk out of this room ... people can start getting killed.”
HE DAY WAS BALMY.
The certain magic of Copenhagen and the Tivoli Gardens had Michael Nordstrom all but tranquilized. From his table on the terrace of the Wivex Restaurant he could see the onion dome of the Nimb, saturated with a million light bulbs, and just across the path came a drift of laughter from the outdoor pantomime theater. The walks of the Tivoli were bordered with meticulous set-in flowers which gave out a riot of color.
Michael luxuriated in detailed observation of the strong, shapely legs of the Copenhagen girls, made so by the major source of transportation, in that flat city, bicycle riding.
He fiddled with the little American flag on the table as the waiters cleared away a few survivors of three dozen open-faced Danish sandwiches.
Per Nosdahl, who sat behind a Norwegian flag, passed out cigars and held a light under Nordstrom’s. Michael puffed contentedly. “The boss would frown on us smoking Castro stogies. I miss Havana,” he said to his deputy in Denmark, Sid Hendricks.
Per imposed a half-dozen cigars on Michael, who gave in then patted his filled breast pocket.
“So, we’ll all meet again two weeks from today in Oslo,” said H. P. Sorensen, speaking from behind a Danish flag.
The other three nodded. Michael took a last lovely swig of beer from his glass. “I keep telling Liz I’ll bring her to Copenhagen some summer. You know, strictly on a vacation ... whatever the hell that is.”
The headwaiter approached. “Is one of you gentlemen Mr. Nordstrom?”
“Excuse me,” he said, folding his napkin and following the headwaiter from the terrace into the enormity and plushness of the Wivex. The orchestra played the “Colonel Bogie” march from
The Bridge on the River Kwai,
and the Danes kept jovial time by clapping in rhythm.
The waiter pointed to a phone booth in the lobby.
“Thank you.” Michael closed the door behind him. “Nordstrom,” he said.
“My name means nothing to you,” a heavily accented Russian voice spoke, “but I know who you are.”
“You’ve got the wrong party.”
“You are Michael Nordstrom, the American Chief of ININ, Inter-NATO Intelligence Network. You sign your cables with the code name ‘Oscar,’ followed by the numerals, six, one, two.”
“I said you’ve got the wrong party.”
“I have some papers of extreme interest,” the voice on the other end persisted. “NATO papers in the four-hundred series. Your contingency plans for a counterattack if the Soviet Union invades through Scandinavia. I have many other papers.”
Nordstrom squelched a deep sigh by placing his hand quickly over the mouth piece. He caught his bearings immediately. “Where are you?”
“I am calling from a phone booth over the Raadhuspladsen.”
Nordstrom glanced at his watch. One o’clock. It would take several hours to formulate a plan. “We can set up a meeting for this evening....”
“No,” the voice answered sharply. “No. I will be missed. It must be done immediately.”
“All right. Glyptoteket Museum in a half-hour. On the third floor there’s an exhibit of Degas wire statuettes,” Nordstrom instructed.
“I am familiar with it.”
“How can you be identified?”
“Under my arm I carry two books,
in Danish and
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
“A man named Phil will contact you.” Nordstrom hung up.
The first obvious thought that crossed his mind was a rendezvous trap in which the Russians could photograph him contacting a Soviet agent for future blackmail use. He would send his deputy in Denmark, Sid Hendricks, to make the contact, then lead the man to a place which he could cover against being followed or photographed. The pressing time factor annoyed him, but bait or not the Russian’s opening gambit was taken.
Michael placed a coin in the phone box and dialed.
“Nordstrom. Get the ININ office.”
“Mr. Hendricks’ office, Miss Cooke speaking.”
“Cookie, this is Mike Nordstrom. You’re buddies with the manager of the Palace Hotel ... what’s his name?”
“Get him on the horn and tell him we need a favor. Large suite at the end of a hallway. Something we can block off and cover from all directions.”
“Now. Send four or five of the boys down, tape machine and cameras. I’ll meet them there in twenty minutes.”
Michael Nordstrom was a bit heftier than he would have liked but he still moved with deftness and grace. He wove his way back to the terrace quickly. A scream shrilled out from the roller coaster. “Sorry, fellows, office wants Sid and me back right away.”
The Danish and Norwegian ININ chiefs stood and they all shook hands.
“Have a good trip back to the States,” H. P. Sorensen said.
“See you in Oslo, Mike,” Per Nosdahl said.
Sid Hendricks reminded Sorensen they had a meeting next day and the two Americans departed.
They got into Sid’s car on H. C. Boulevard. “What’s up, Mike?”
“Russian. Maybe a defector. Go right away to the Glyptoteket’s Degas exhibition on the third floor. He’ll be carrying two books,
Rise and Fall,
the Shirer book, in English. Identify yourself as Phil, then have him follow you. Waltz him around the Tivoli a few times to make sure he isn’t being tailed by his own people. End up at the Palace Hotel. One of the boys from your office will be waiting and tell you where to take him. If you don’t show in an hour, we’ll know it was a setup. Check him out carefully as you can.”
Sid nodded and got out of the car. Nordstrom watched him cross the avenue. The curtain, a mass of bicycles, closed behind him. Nordstrom emerged from the other side of the car for the short walk to the Palace, then grumbled beneath his breath. This sudden turn of events would force him to cancel a date with a lovely Danish miss.