Bill Todd -- Jones: A Novel of the Early Cold War
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 Chapter 39


It was the last day of classes, and the parking lot was full of young scholars from the University of Cincinnati drinking beer and calling to one another in rude tones. Some were sitting on the hoods of cars, and others were hanging over opened doors. A couple of strikingly unattractive girls were chasing a pimple-faced boy back and forth around a car. He eventually let himself get caught, and was rewarded with kisses.

Jones wasn't feeling good to begin with, and it didn't improve his disposition to walk through this gathering in his hot clothes. Tensy, this time, had locked her car.

When she appeared and started across the lot, Jones wondered why she persisted in wearing high heels. She looked ridiculous picking her way over the ruts and through the gravel, but he hurried to her and took her arm. He immediately asked,

"What happened?"

"Everything went well, but let's get out of here before I tell you."

As they drove, bouncing over the deep ruts, a car going backwards at considerable speed almost rammed them at the end of one of the rows. Tensy, braking quickly and swearing with intensity, avoided it. They then pulled up in a residential neighborhood a little distance away. Tensy said,

"The approach was made, and the final meeting was held in Heike's apartment. I was hiding in her spare bedroom in case help was needed, and I heard the whole thing. In my judgment, at least, the Soviet agent was convinced that we have subs that can hit Moscow."

"Well, that's good. I suppose you're not supposed to tell me the rest."

"I've learned a little logic, Jones. When you put it that way, you imply that there is a rest to tell about."

"Okay. The problem is that she was supposed to keep in touch, and she hasn't called once."

"I can assure you that she's all right. She saw me off at the station last night. On the way, she talked a cop out of giving her a speeding ticket. After that, her mood was decidedly triumphant."

"Yes. I see."

"Anyway, you'll be seeing her on Friday, won't you?"

"I guess so. I did think that, since she hasn't called, she might possibly have given you a message for me. For example, that she doesn't want to see me any more."

"Certainly not! I'm sure she wants to see you. What's come over you, Jones?"

"I'm assuming that this man seduced Heike. I don't expect you to comment on that. But Reggie did set it up in such a way that that was almost bound to happen."

"I guess you're angry at Reggie. Are you going to beat him up?"

Jones finally laughed and replied,

"No. I already knew that he uses and manipulates people."

"Certainly. Whenever he thinks it's necessary. Remember Cecilia and Cedric."

"I had them in mind."

"But I really don't think he's hurt Heike. Besides, the little job of espionage she did may pay great dividends. Something like that could help deter Stalin from doing something really dangerous."

"Yes, I know. Reggie's a master at his trade. I can't imagine how he brought Captain Stallman around."

"Nor can I. But he did. One thing, Jones, it's obvious that you're much more concerned about Heike's relations with other men than you were a few months ago."

"Yes. We used to talk about her problems in the area of sex, and she told me about some dates she'd been on. I gave her what advice I could, and we experimented a little bit ourselves. Now, it's not so much what happened physically, but how involved she got emotionally."

"I assume that you've tried to call her?"

"There's been no answer on her phone. It must be that she doesn't want to talk to me."

"If so, it would be because she doesn't know what to say to you, or because she's afraid of what you might say to her. I think you'll just have to work it out between you."

There was no call Thursday night, and still no answer on Heike's phone. When Jones arrived at the Union Terminal the next morning, he wasn't very surprised to find no one to meet him. He took a cab, at considerable expense, all the way out to JOAD. Seeing no one in particular, he went into his office and sat down at his desk.

Not being able to concentrate on much, he gave up after a half hour and went upstairs to Heike's office. She wasn't there, and, coming down, he asked one of the secretaries, as casually as possible,

"Have you seen Heike this morning?"

The girl gave him a funny look, and replied,

"She called before, and said she had some errands to do. She'll be in later."

Jones wanted to ask how much later, but it occurred to him that Heike had told her friends, the secretaries, that he, Jones, was to be dumped. He'd be the last to get the news while they watched, giggles suppressed, to see how he took it.

Jones spun away from the girl and had only proceeded a short distance down the hall when Went hailed him and invited him in for coffee. Went closed the door and said,

"Admiral Benson let me look at the report from Heike. The gist of it is that she was contacted by the agent, who very gradually tried to get information from her. In the end, she adapted an account of that PT boat expedition we took, hopefully leaving out the part where I was seasick. But she changed it to night, and had us trying to intercept one of our new subs before it fired a practice missile. She then described the firing so fully that it couldn't be mistaken for the firing of a little anti-aircraft missile, or anything like that. She told him that, at first, we thought the sub had blown itself up."

"Yes, I've spoken with Tensy, the lady from Cincinnati who was observing. She thinks the Russian took the bait. I haven't heard from Heike at all."

"Well, it's security. She couldn't discuss it over the phone."

"I just wanted to know if she's all right."

"She is. She was around yesterday. Of course, I know what you're worried about. I would be, too."

"If it were Barbara, you mean?"

"Sure. Of course, you don't know how you'd react until it happens. I might think I'd be cool and collected, and then turn into a raging tiger."

"I can imagine you as a raging tiger, Went."

"And I can imagine you, too, Jones. The trouble is just that warfare isn't personal any more. You can't stick your bayonet through your enemy's eye."

"The present problem is that I'm apparently going to have to wait endlessly to find out where we are."

"As it happens, I have something to take your mind off your troubles. The admiral has relented, and has given me permission to tell you the rest of the secrets."

"And Captain Stallman? He's agreed?"

"Somewhat grudgingly. He's a little sensitive since the whole thing was entirely his idea. But he's upgraded his opinion of you, and we've agreed that you can make a useful contribution."

"I'm always happy to contribute."

"It's agreed that we're now in the perception mode. We can't really attack, but we can pretend to be able to. Okay?"

"As long as we don't do such a good job of pretending that we start a war."

"Sure. Sure. Everyone's agreed on that. But remember the problems about attacking from the Baltic?"

"Virtually insuperable."

"Not in the pretend mode. We sneak a submarine into the Baltic and run submerged for a time. About fifty miles short of the Russian naval base of Kronstadt outside Leningrad, we surface in broad daylight."

"And you think they won't attack our sub?"

"Before we surface, the State Department will radio to the Soviets asking permission for our submarine to visit Leningrad. We'll also radio the minute we surface."

"I hope they communicate well with their air force."

"They'll have a good two hours' warning. The sub will be one of the ones with the missile tubes, and the Russkis will shit in their pants at the idea that we can get that close."

"And yet we'll be in international waters, fully within our rights."

"That's right, Jones. It's just like them sending one of their subs into Chesapeake Bay."

"How do we sneak the sub into the Baltic."

"A floating drydock has already set out from Scotland, being towed to Stockholm by a big tug. It's cavernous inside, and its carrying several smallish vessels. One of them is our sub, disguised from the air with a false deck and bridge. All this is being done by the British."

"So, then, once we get well past the narrows, we fill the dock and launch the sub."

"That will be done at night, of course. The sub will submerge the minute it gets clear, and the dock will pump itself out. The thinking is that no one would expect such a thing, even afterwards."

"I wonder if the Russians will invite the sub into Leningrad."

"Captain Armitage thinks they will. It wouldn't be any more dangerous to them in Leningrad than out in the Gulf. Less so, in fact. And then the Russians will have a chance to examine it. Divers will swarm under the hull when she's moored, and listening devices will be set up. All conversations in the sub will be designed for Russian ears."

"Are you commanding the sub?"

"You guessed it, Jones. The crew is already aboard, and I'll be flying out to join them. There are some other arrangements I'll tell you about later."

"What do you want me to do?"

"There's a sort of catch in this. The captain can't leave the sub when it's in harbor. If the Russians actually try to break in, he'll have to blow the sub, the crew, and himself to kingdom come, so much so that there's hardly anything left to examine. The fake tubes will, in fact, be packed with explosive."

It seemed to Jones that the prospect of violent death agreed with Went. He looked quite happy as he contemplated his own glorious extinction. Then, sobering, he continued,

"On the other hand, we want to seem cool and diplomatic. In the usual case, the captain of a visiting warship goes ashore, gets lionized socially, and gives a brief stirring address to the local cadet corps. So we need a pretend captain to do that while I stay aboard."

"Surely, we have someone more plausible than me."

"You look the picture of a young submarine commander. Besides, the man who goes ashore must know exactly what impression we want to create. When he's asked how in hell he got past Copenhagen unobserved, he'll answer suavely that he managed quite nicely, thank you, and then compliment them on their vodka. That sort of thing. And then, if he's imprisoned and tortured, he'll have to pretend to the end that we have real live missile subs."

Went was now joking. But the choice was, Jones suspected, a matter of friendship. Went preferred Jones to someone else as a travelling companion.

About eleven, one of the other secretaries appeared at Jones' door.

"Dr. Jones, Miss Herrnstein called and asked if you could meet her at the Hot Shoppes. She'll be there in a minute."

* * * * * * * * *

Heike was in the corner booth, smiling at him as he approached. But it was a rather cold smile. When he sat down opposite her, she said,

"I've been trying to think out what to say, and it's this. I really did experience a kind of ecstasy, both physical and, I guess, spiritual. I don't expect to ever again experience anything like it. But the man is gone, utterly gone. As if to another planet. I'm glad it happened. I learned things it would have taken me ten years, if ever, to learn the way I was going. There, that's my speech."

Jones sat looking at her face, no longer an entirely familiar one, for some moments. He then replied,

"That's quite a speech."

"I've had to make speeches lately. I was afraid you'd just get up and leave. That's why I figured it was better to give it here."

"I'm certainly not leaving. I'm not sure why I can't just say that it's no big thing. Many women have first love affairs that are very intense, and then burn out. Years later, they laugh about them."

"I don't think either of us is about to laugh, Jones. For me, the whole thing seemed to be as much tearful as sexual, and I don't want to start again here."

"No. Let's back up a little. How about saying that it's a big thing, but not an insurmountable thing?"

"Okay. Several questions arise. One is whether I'm defiled as a sort of prostitute."

"Reggie has ladies who serve their country in exactly that way. But, whatever may be said about them, they're not prostitutes."

"I didn't bite my tongue and tell myself it was all for the best. I threw myself into it."

"Yes. I knew that without being told."

"In the light of all that had gone before?"

"Once you crossed a certain line, there'd be no holding back. And you didn't have much to lose. You knew exactly what he was at, and you knew that Tensy was in the next room."

"One thing I feared was that, if I once crossed that line, I'd go crazy and never come back. Of course I did come back, quickly enough to improvise just the right story."

"There are congratulations all around about that."

"Does anyone but Tensy know the rest?"

"Reggie, of course. I think Went assumes that there was something, but, of course, he's a gentleman."

"There's also something more mundane. I'm not pregnant. I began my period yesterday."

Suddenly, Heike, coloring, looked around, wondering if she had spoken too loudly. Jones laughed for the first time. Heike then said,

"These squalid details remind me that I've spoiled your big day, Christmas, birthday, and everything rolled into one. Isn't that the way it's supposed to be."

"I really don't have that kind of outlook, Heike. My first time was during a Boy Scout outing when I was fifteen. Both scout masters went off to a bar a mile from our cabin in the woods. One of our guys followed them into town and got three girls to come back with him. We were all rolling around on the floor in the dark, and you could hardly tell one girl from the others."

Heike then began laughing, so hard that she had to drink strongly from her water glass to quell her hiccups. Finally, she said,

"That's so you, Jones. I've had, by far, the most romantic interlude of my life. But, of course, it's all bullshit."

"Well, yes. But I sure as hell want to sleep with you, too."

Heike darted a nervous glance at the people two booths away, and replied,

"Yes, certainly. Do try not to tear me limb from limb. You're much bigger and stronger."

"Which also allows me to be more gentle."

"And then there is something that I've never done with anyone. After the sex part is over, I want to actually sleep with you."

"You just want to find out if I snore before you marry me."

Bill Todd -- Jones: A Novel of the Early Cold War
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