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 Chapter 20

The Message and Clarence

 It always seemed to Cynthia that luck played a large part in espionage. It was by luck that Bert saw a quote from the secretary of state, John Foster Dulles, to the effect that diplomacy consisted in marching to the brink of war, obtaining concessions, and then stepping back at the last moment. It seemed crazy to Bert to play such games with a nuclear power the size of the Soviet Union. Indeed, he wasn't     the only one. The matter came before the Committee on Foreign Relations, and a number of members, including Senator Munson, were of like mind. It was then easy to say to Bert, "The message I want delivered is designed to decrease tensions and neutralize some of Foster Dulles' war-mongering."

"Okay. What is it?"

"That American nuclear weapons in Britain are guarded by Royal Marines, and can't be used without British permission."

"If it's true, it might delay an American nuclear strike. And a delay can sometimes make all the difference."

"I honestly don't know if it's true. But, that message, delivered to Elsa, and thus to Moscow, would be in the interests of peace."

"All right. I'll do it. Or is Luda supposed to give it."

"I've had Luda memorize it because I was afraid that she'd get it twisted. But you would presumably be getting it from the same source, and, if Luda has an opportunity to deliver it first, Elsa might well wonder if she’s gotten it straight. You should use your own wording and let it be teased out as Elsa asks in her various ways about the deliberations of the committee. In the same way, you could give assurance that the Germans aren't getting any nuclear weapons. That may be obvious to us, but it isn't to the Russians. We need to keep giving them reassurance on that point."

"Okay. I'll also take the opportunity to say that the Foreign Relations committee is far from supporting the Dulles craziness."

     Since Luda had remained in Washington after the departure of the other students, execution of the plan could occur quickly. But Cynthia still had misgivings.

     As recently as a few days previously, she, thinking that Luda was no match for Elsa, had decided to bring her together with Adam. He wouldn't be as good as Elsa in getting people to reveal secrets, but Luda should still have been able to get the message across. Then, if similar messages arrived in Moscow by different routes, they would seem to confirm each other. This plan failed when it became clear that Luda and Adam would hardly speak to one another.

     After leaving Bert, Cynthia killed some time in a café reading the papers before proceeding to the Mayflower coffee shop to meet Clarence Munson. They had already played tennis with satisfactory results. Clarence was a pretty good player, and Cynthia had had to extend herself to beat him. She hadn't thought that he would mind that, and he didn't, joking happily about it. They then went off in separate directions, but, before doing so, he had asked if she liked ice cream. When she said that she liked anything with chocolate chips, he recommended the Mayflower highly for their next meeting.

     Clarence was there first, very much the big kid waiting for a treat. Cynthia judged that there were two treats in the offing, herself and ice cream, and wasn't sure which would take preference. The horse resemblence was something that one did get used to. Moreover, since Clarence, a big man, had a good well-conditioned body, that set him pleasantly apart from the average lawmaker. She felt that she had a reasonably good line of chatter, and, while not up to Parisienne or South Carolina standards, it seemed to make Clarence happy.

     There was something in the atmosphere suggesting that, this time, they would not go their separate ways. Cynthia half pretended to herself that they were a married couple and spoke of mundane things in the way that a wife might. Clarence seemed to miss the domesticity of his largely defunct marriage, and responded in an increasingly calm and comfortable way.

     It was then, after the first dish of ice cream, that Clarence began to talk about his wife and family. Cynthia wasn't sure whether that was good, but it was easy to be supportive in the way that was required. At one point, she even wondered if he wanted a friend and confidante more than he wanted a sexual partner. But, then, it turned out that much of his dissatisfaction with his wife was because of sexual incompatibility. So they were back to sex. At that point, Cynthia was reminded of something painful and dangerous, at least in retrospect.

     Her worst time in Paris had been when a Gestapo radio direction-finder truck had closed within a quarter-mile of them before they stopped transmitting. She and the operator had gotten out into the street separately as the neighborhood, near the Place de la Republique, was beginning to be searched. That was all right until a searcher had grabbed her by the arm and demanded papers. Cynthia's forged papers were good, but not good enough for extended analysis.

     The officer had pretended to find fault with them, but she came to realize that he wasn't the type of cool Gestapo professional who could himself penetrate covers. He was willing to talk, in bad French, as he marched her down the street, and, as he became more familiar, he disclosed that he was a former Berlin policeman who, among thousands of others, had been transferred to the Gestapo. What he wanted was sex, and she was being taken to a little cement courtyard between buildings. It was overlooked by windows, but he didn’t seem to care.

     It was certainly frightening, but, when Cynthia was forced to undress, it looked as if she would be let go after giving satisfaction. Unfortunately, down on the cold hard cement, he was, at least temporarily, impotent. Blaming her and flying into a rage, he struck her several times and tore up her papers. He then insisted that she take him to her apartment so that he could search it. Since the wireless set was there, she would have to take him to some other apartment and hope that the residents would play along.

     In the end, after undergoing various humiliations, Cynthia did get just enough sexual activity out of the German to get him to let her go with her clothes and her torn papers.

     Since then, there had been other problems with men, particularly ones of northern European stock, who didn’t have the sexual confidence of the Italians and the Greeks. These situations hadn’t been dangerous, but had certainly been embarrassing for all concerned. In the present case, such a failure could upset some plans.

     As they sipped their post-ice-cream coffee, Clarence did betray some signs of nervousness, signs Cynthia had seen before in middle-aged men. And, she knew, things were likely to go downhill from there.

      The solution turned out to be the car Clarence drove, an old Studebaker Businessman's Coupe. It was an absurd car for a senator to drive, small, cheap, and prone to all the diseases of the old Studebaker company. But Clarence loved it. He also made political capital by being pictured in it, a man of the people whom Washington hadn't changed. As Cynthia gave way to laughter, he said,

"It's not even a General Motors car, but since Studebaker is a company they keep afloat so that they can claim to have competition, they've forgiven me."

There was a bench seat in front, and, in place of a back seat, a tall narrow space for the salesman to put his display cases. It would be impossible to have any reasonable sort of sexual intercourse in the car, and, hence, no possibility of failure.

     Clarence installed Cynthia carefully in the passenger seat, and, when he got in, she smiled and touched him gently on the arm. When one thing began to lead to another, she protested,

"Clarence, people on the sidewalk can see in!"

That led to a change of parking place to a less trafficked street. It also led to what amounted to a high-school necking and petting session, with the exception that Cynthia's skirt was raised well above the level recommended by Ann Landers. Finally, she kissed Clarence on the cheek and said, "I suppose we'd better be getting back to work."

He, quite happy, started up the Studebaker. Once rolling, he asked, "Are you one of Bert's girl friends?"

"No. Just a friend. I'm really a friend of his wife's."

That brought a grunt of satisfaction, and she continued, "There is a little bit going on. Bert seems to think he owes you a big favor, and he brought Luda, one of my proteges, down to volunteer in your office. I'm sure he thought one thing might lead to another, but, then, you didn't seem to take any notice of her."

"Well, she's quite a girl. I think Harry's taking up with her, so she probably will be in the office. But she's a girl and you're a woman."

"I guess I can truthfully say that I didn't intend this. It sort of happened."

"Can it keep happening?"

"Sure. Both the tennis and this. But I'm really not a go all the way lady. Can you deal with that?"

"Certainly. As you must know, I really need someone like you. I guess I'm starved for intimacy."

"We're certainly well on our way to intimacy."

Oddly, when Cynthia got out of the car, she didn't feel as if she had been telling any lies.


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