An Address Book and a Modest Proposal
Elaine Kittredge and Anna Entner were seated at a little French cafe in Georgetown, drinking coffee and eating croissants. They both lived in the neighborhood, and, through all the years and all their various tribulations, they had breakfasted together at least once a week. Anna claimed that it was only Elaine who had held her together at the time of her divorce, and she was always on the lookout for ways to be of service to her.
There were, in fact, many similarities between the two women. For one thing, while neither had to work, both did continue to work in job situations in which they got relatively little respect from their peers and bosses. Elaine, commenting on that fact, concluded,
"We can queen it up on the social scene any time we want, but we work with and for men who under-value us. Are we masochists or what?"
Anna gestured with her hands and replied,
"It gets us out of the house, and we know that the little respect we do get is deserved. That's always a problem for rich ladies."
"Indeed it is. I've been getting a bit of a rush from two young men recently. At first, I thought it was the new hair- style, but, of course, it's something else."
"Maybe it's just you."
"It's nice of you to say so, Anna, but I'm afraid it's not that. I don't even think it's money in one case."
"Tom Williams, your DRI colleague."
"I remember your meeting him at that party. Did you make a date?"
"We've been out to lunch, and now he's asked me to dinner."
"In his case, I doubt very much whether it's money. It must be you."
"It may be sex."
"Well, that's still you, isn't it?"
"In a way. I just about told him I was available. But I have a funny feeling that something else is involved. Does he want a mother?"
"He doesn't seem at all the type to me."
"Well, perhaps I'll find out tomorrow night. You also know the other man, Boris."
Anna smiled and replied,
"Is any explanation needed there? He seems to want every attractive woman in Washington."
"I'm not up to his standard, Anna. His cut-off point is women around forty who can pass for thirty five."
Anna seemed to accept the point. She said,
"It might be money in that case."
"I wonder if he's looking for a safe haven if he defects. He might just imagine that I'd marry him and give him a life of comfort."
"If so, he doesn't know you very well."
"Well, he knows my body, but nothing else. On the other hand, he really doesn't at all seem like a mercenary person. I think he wants something definite, and that it's somehow connected with his job. And, of course, he is the enemy. I have to be very careful."
Anna realized that her friend had a legitimate concern, and they discussed the matter in detail. Boris wasn't short of sexual gratification, and, in all honesty, he could get whatever Elaine could give him from younger women. He had never asked for money, and, if he were really serious about defecting, the CIA would see to his every need in that area and others. Moreover, it seemed to both of them that he was an honorable and patriotic man who would put the needs of his country first. So the question came down to: What did his country need from Elaine. Or, as Elaine put it,
"What have I got to give his country, or anyone else for that matter? The only thing I have that's at all unusual is access to Mamie."
"Does he seem curious about her?"
"Not in the usual way. I think he must realize that, if I did get anything at all sensitive through her, I'd never tell him. What he seems to want to know each time is whether I've seen Mamie or talked with her on the phone. Nothing more."
"Maybe he wants to be sure that you have continued access to her for some later purpose. It might even be that the Soviets at some point will want to bypass the government and communicate directly with the president. They could make the arrangements through Mamie."
"Khruschev can already communicate privately with the president. It would have to be someone lower down who wanted to bypass Khruschev. That's a possibility."
Anna mediatated for a minute and said,
"I can't think of anything else."
"There's another funny thing. I think he wants my address book. The last time he was over, I couldn't wake him. But he couldn't really have been asleep with me pummeling him. He wanted to be left there alone."
"Did you leave him there?"
"Yes. Of course, nothing was missing. I wasn't worried about that. But I thought he might copy my addresses, so I took the book with me. He later left me a note of apology."
"Did he already know about your address book?"
"Yes. I remember joking with him that it was the only thing I was admired for by other reporters. But it would only do him marginal good. He'd already have access to a lot of these people at their offices, and I have mostly home numbers and addresses. Why would he want to call the Secretary of the Navy at home?"
"Don't you think we should tell someone? After all, you don't want to be accused of being some sort of dupe."
"I have been a little nervous about it. But who should we tell?"
"How about Mac Hollins? You've known him for years. In fact, it was you who got him to hire me."
"Yes, that's right. I mean, it's only an unfounded suspicion that'd be laughed off if I took it to most official sorts of people, but I wouldn't mind telling him."
"When are you seeing Tom?"
"Hollins will probably tell Tom. They're pretty close. But Tom already knows about you and Boris, doesn't he?"
"Carlos seems to have told Tom that I was one of the women who chased Boris just before he introduced me to Tom."
"That Carlos is a little snake. Anyhow, I don't think it would cause any problems with Tom."
Tom Williams hadn't spoken much with Anna in recent weeks, but she came by his office and said,
"A sort of odd situation has arisen with your friend and mine, Boris."
"Is he in trouble with a woman again?"
"Not exactly. You know that he goes out with Elaine Kittredge, don't you?"
"Yes. I suppose I'm trying to follow his act. I'm going out with her tonight."
"I know. I saw her this morning. And, as far as we can make out, Boris is trying to get hold of her address book. She was going to ask Mac Hollins, whom she's known for years, for advice. But, since you know Boris, I thought you might have some ideas."
Tom actually had none, but he did know that Boris had gone into overdrive recently. Anything that he was doing would be of interest to Desmond. He asked,
"Is there anything special about her address book?"
"Well, you know she's been a reporter in Washington for years. At one time or another, she's had dealings with almost everyone who counts, and she's got all their phone numbers. Some of them are home numbers or vacation hideaway numbers, and they'd be terribly useful for a reporter trying to reach someone for comment. But we didn't quite see what good they'd do Boris or the Russians."
Tom tried to sound as reassuring as possible, and said,
"Elaine should talk with Mac if she wants to, but I happen to know exactly who this should go to. I can handle it for her if she'd like."
"You'd better call her then."
Tom called Elaine, and then Desmond. When told that he was in a meeting, Tom left his number. In the meantime, Bruce and Ellie had mostly completed their project. It was time to start keying in data.
When Tom, Sid, and Anna settled down in the key-punch room with reams of tables of statistics in front of them, the task was somewhat daunting. But, unglamorous as it might be, it was necessary to have just enough understanding of what was going on to preclude handing the whole task over to the secretaries. They therefore got to work and spent most of the day key-punching. Desmond called back in mid-afternoon and said,
"If you're in the middle of something, there's no need to break off and rush down here. I'm coming to the district tonight, so why don't you just meet me for dinner?"
Tom was due to have dinner with Elaine, but that was much later, and he thought he could eat twice without difficulty. He then returned to the key-punch room to find the others totally focussed on their machines. The work demanded enough concentration so that they couldn't talk with one another, but, even if one knew what the figures meant, the building up of a numerical characterization of the various Soviet and American industries was a tedious business.
The meeting place was an expensive cocktail lounge and restaurant just off Chevy Chase Circle. Tom was directed to the lounge, which had a fireplace and easy chairs scattered around. He saw immediately that Desmond was a rather different sort of man in the evening. Having taken off his tie and replaced it with a scarf, he looked as if he never expected to leave the lounge. He waved to Tom with the hand that wasn't holding his glass and indicated another easy chair near him.
Desmond was drinking Beaujolais, and he said to Tom,
"It's rather good. Would you like some?"
Tom had never had any, but agreed. He was beginning to see what it would be like to belong to the higher echelons of American government service.
There was no one sitting near them, and Tom quickly gave Desmond the particulars. Desmond responded,
"People's intuitions are usually correct. He probably does want her address book. Instead of trying to guess why he wants it, we'll simply give it to him and see what happens."
"Elaine Kittredge won't want to do that."
"Oh, we won't give him the real thing. We'll run up one with different numbers. There'll never be any answer at some, but some will be the home numbers of our own people. We'll tell them who they're supposed to be and have them play along to see what happens. I'll put my own number in amongst them."
"Your people must get used to strange requests."
"Oh, they do. They may find themselves out with a placard, demonstrating for some strange cause, or bidding for a painting at an auction, or almost anything. We don't, however, murder law-abiding citizens in their beds. It's because of our mystique that people think that."
"Mac says we have a computer mystique."
"He's right. You're computer wizards and we're spies. Anything that comes from either of us is given more serious consideration than it deserves."
There was no more business to discuss, and, at the dinner that followed, there was a free-ranging conversation in which philosophy, military history, and economics were all touched on. Tom was anxious to discover what Desmond thought of the growing crisis, but Desmond said only,
"The night that things looked the worst for the British Expeditionary Force at Dunkirk, Churchill and Field Marshal Lord Ironside went to a dinner party in Kent where there were some pretty women. They enjoyed themselves thoroughly."
With that, he raised his glass in a convivial gesture and recommended a chocolate torte for dessert.
When Tom arrived at Elaine Kittredge's apartment later that evening, he was still under the influence of the wine he had had at dinner. Bursting in, he announced,
"You've been made an agent in the CIA, Elaine. Your first mission is to poison Boris."
She took it as a joke, and it wasn't so easy, a little later, to persuade her that only part of it was a joke. He finally said,
"A genuine CIA agent will shortly call on you, and you will together produce an address book full of the names and supposed phone numbers of some hundred influential Washingtonians. You and I are to figure out the best way of getting it to Boris."
Elaine finally seemed to believe him and replied,
"That should be fairly easy. The last time he was here, I think he pretended to be asleep in the morning so that I'd go out and leave him alone. I foiled him by taking the book with me, but I could just leave the one they give me by the phone the next time."
"They'll have it ready tomorrow, and it'll look as if it's ten years old. Can you get Boris to come over tomorrow night?
"I did have some plans. Is there that much of a hurry?"
"I'm afraid there is. We don't know exactly what's going on and whether Boris is connected with it, but we can't take chances."
Elaine went into the bedroom to call Boris, and was gone some time. When she returned, she said,
"It's done. I'm pretty sure that he's breaking a date, probably with some beautiful young thing, to come. That's not normal."
Elaine smiled ruefully, and Tom asked,
"Was he trying to get anything out of you?"
"He just asked if I'd talked with Mamie Eisenhower, but he joked about it and didn't really seem to want to know anything about her."
"There's one thing I know about Boris. His jokes are pretty serious."
"Yes, I imagine so. But you see him. Does he seem different to you?"
"Yes. He's irritable and his soccer is going to pieces. When I started playing, he seemed pretty good. Now I can often leave him standing."
"You've probably improved."
"I don't think it's just that. When you're playing defense in any sport, a lot of it is concentration and determination. If you're a little distracted, you'll be just a little late to counter a move."
"I haven't noticed much change myself. He's always had ulterior motives with women, and the charm has always been a little forced. But it's all a very good performance, and I imagine he could go on with it until the end."
Elaine then looked at the clock and said,
"We might have a little wine before we set out, at least unless you can't wait to eat."
Tom assured her that he could wait, not telling her that he had already had one dinner with Desmond.
It was clearly Tom's turn to take Elaine out, and he suggested the restaurant where he had, in fact, just eaten. Judging by the people who had been there, he thought she'd like it. Elaine knew of the place, and was enthusiastic.
When Tom entered with Elaine on his arm, the head waiter looked a little surprised, but said nothing. Then, as they went through the cocktail lounge on the way to the dining room, Tom was surprised to see Desmond, exactly where he had been before. The latter stood up with a welcoming smile, and Tom introduced Elaine. They accepted Desmond's invitation to stop for a drink and settled themselves in the heavily padded wicker chairs.
Desmond asked Tom whether he had told her yet, and then explained to Elaine that he was the man responsible for it all. She was quite used to men like Desmond, and responded in an encouraging way. After a while, Desmond said to Tom,
"I understand the food's quite good. Have you eaten here before?"
"I think I may have once. I recall that it was good."
Desmond smiled and said that he had to be getting on.
The dinner moved at a moderate pace. They were sitting in a different place with a different waiter, and Tom ordered different things. He had no difficulty eating them, and was enjoying himself. Elaine wasn't as exciting as Elizaveta in a number of ways, but she was much more restful. And then, too, she had had interesting experiences of a different sort. Interviewing FDR might not have been quite the same as killing a German soldier, but it wasn't to be sniffed at. She then remarked,
"Of course, I'm on my way down. I have less influence than I used to, and, in Washington, that's the only thing that counts. You, on the other hand, are on your way up."
"But I don't have any influence. I'm just a graduate student on a temporary job."
"I've talked with Mac Hollins about you. You certainly have influence with him, and he influences people at the JCS level. They influence the president. So you're only three away from the pinnacle. That's a very small number."
"Well, you have extended discussions with Mrs. Eisenhower. So you're two away."
"That doesn't count because she doesn't have any influence over her husband."
"She must have some."
"I doubt it. She's really in a position of total humiliation, and the worst of it is that it's perceived as being all her fault."
"It isn't really, is it?"
"Eleanor Roosevelt may have been hated by a great many people, but, like it or not, she transformed the position of so-called First Lady. A president's wife can no longer hide away and pretend that she's just the housekeeper she always was. If, like Mamie, she's totally unequipped to influence policy, everyone notices. And then, if there are rumors about alcoholism, she becomes a charity case, to be taken care of by the likes of me."
"I guess I don't really know much about humiliation. You can drop an easy fly ball in the ninth inning with the score tied, but things like that pass eventually."
"Surely you can think of better instances of humiliation than that, Tom."
"Well, that happened to a guy I knew in prep school, and, of course, everyone said that he choked. It seemed pretty serious."
"Anna told me about this man you work with who blew his face away in front of his girl friend, and then survived. Don't you suppose he felt humiliated on his first day back?"
"Well, you'd think so. But he seemed just the same as before. The suspicion is that he's too dumb to be humiliated."
"Do you really think that?"
"Well, I guess not. I just don't know what could possibly go on inside Pete."
"Probably the same as with the rest of us. We put on a proud face and burn behind it. I'm humiliated by the sort of stuff I have to write, but I've got an impeccable professional journalist face. I'm also humiliated by the fact that I need people like Boris, who I know don't care about me, but I've got another face I put on for that. Both involve pretending not to know things I really do know. I can't imagine that you've ever had to do anything like that."
"Well, of course, graduate school can be intense. People sometimes get humiliated in seminars when they read bad papers, and there are always people who fail and get chucked out. I've been lucky because I've happened to want to do exactly what universities have wanted me to do."
"And you've been successful in sports. Could there be anything else?"
Tom was aware that Elaine was teasing him, and he replied,
"I certainly haven't managed much with women. I guess it hasn't reached the point of humiiliation, but I've been wondering if I might not do better by sticking to sports."
"That's an area where you have control, and can improve with practice."
"Yeah, I guess that's the best thing about sports. Only injuries can stop you, and, even then, you can generally play something else until you recover."
"You may be right. I thought that we might do a little sexual experimentation, but, now, I'm not so sure it would be a good thing."
"At this moment, you look awfully good to me."
They were sitting side-by-side at the table and Elaine put her hand on Tom's shoulder. She said,
"That's nice of you to say, but I might not look so good to you under other circumstances. I will if you really get desperate, but it would probably be better if you began with someone you really cared about. There is someone, isn't there?"
Tom felt distinctly let down, but he replied,
"There's a woman I work with, but she's happily married."
"Let's give it a few months and let the crisis pass. Then, if we're still here and you still don't have someone, I'll be available. In the meantime, let me take you out to the occasional dinner."
Tom protested that he was going to pay, but Elaine overcame his protests without much too difficulty.
As the meal progressed and Tom found that the steak au poivre was even better than the previous coq au vin, his spirits improved. He even wondered if, in a peculiar way, he was a little relieved at Elaine's refusal.
They then talked about the politics of the Eisenhower administration, and he found that Elaine both knew and liked John Foster Dulles. She said,
"He's a thoroughly honest man, not just because he doesn't steal money, but in other ways. He's quite rare in that respect."
"Most people think his brinkmanship is unnecessarily dangerous."
"That may be. But he's obsessed with the idea that we shouldn't be defeated, tiny bit by bit, over the course of a decade or so."
"Could you live in a communist-dominated world?"
"Sure. They'd take my money away, but I haven't had it long. I've scrabbled most of my life, and, in their system, I wouldn't have to worry about saving for old age. Anyhow, I'd probably still be writing my horrid little human interest pieces about prominent communists."
"It wouldn't be good for philosophy. We'd have to become Marxists. The worst thing about Marx is that he was a follower of Hegel, a man who persistently contradicted himself for the pure joy of it."
"I guess you'd do better to stay in computers in that case. They'd value that kind of work, and you'd wind up with a bureacratic empire."
"No one who knows me well would ever put me in charge of anything. It's free-floating intellectuals like me who'd probably have the worst time. Businessmen and industrialists could become managers in a different system, but there wouldn't be much toleration for people who don't appear to produce much."
"Then you should be one of Dulles' most ardent supporters."
"I do have some moods like that. But, most of the time, I think of what nukes would do to cities."
"So do I. Things can so easily get out of control."
With the dessert, which finally filled Tom, they talked of more pleasant subjects. When the bill came, Tom put up no more fuss, and actually said,
"I sort of like the idea of rolling around Washington without having to make any arrangements or pay for anything."
"Well, you've been managing for yourself for quite a bit. You probably need a little diversion and relaxation."
That mood changed a little when, instead of getting into Elaine's chaufeeur-driven limousine, Tom held the creaking door of Bruce's ex-car for her. This one wasn't nearly so fast as the one he had gotten from Weston Harrison, and they only coughed and sputtered up the hill from the restaurant. Seeing and avoiding a trolley island, he said to Elaine,
"It's really interesting when you go over one of those islands. One moment you're flying, and the next you come down with a screech without the underpinnings of your car."
"It sounds as if you've done it."
Tom related the story of his and Pete's misadventures and Elaine replied,
"It doesn't sound like the kind of thing Morris would do, and I don't think I'll egg you on to do it. It does sound interesting, but I'm just too middle-aged and sedate."
They then arrived in front of Elaine's apartment building. She said,
"I could now afford to move to something grander, but I'm comfortable here. I'd invite you in, but one thing would probably lead to another."
She nevertheless moved over to kiss Tom good-night. He had learned something in that area, and Elaine seemed pleasantly surprised. He then lifted her on to his lap and explored her neck and ears with his hands and mouth. She made some appreciative noises and wrapped her arms around him as he unzipped her dress in back. She squirmed a little and said,
"People can see from the building."
"Will I ruin your reputation?"
"Probably not seriously."
Elaine's skirt was well up, and, as he explored her, Tom found her more exciting than Ellie. Elaine, blocking him off from certain areas with her hands, seemed amused and said,
"This is what high-school kids do."
"I didn't. You're more co-operative than the girls used to be."
"They were probably afraid of where it would all end up. As you're discovering, I've got on a girdle that pretty well precludes anything very extreme."
"You've got pretty legs."
Elaine seemed particularly pleased at that and stretched them out across the passenger seat. She then said,
"You're a dear, but I really must go now. You don't have to see me to the door. You can watch for assassins from here."
She then got her skirt down, collected her bag and kissed him before wrestling with the door to get out. When Tom drove away, he felt quite a lot better about his relations with women and thought that the occasional date might usefully complement his sporting activities.
It wasn't very late when Tom got home, and he was in a funny mood. Instead of going to bed, he got out his old portable typewriter and began writing. What he wrote was, in personal terms, a throwback. He had learned to program that summer, and had learned that the way to understand anything is to simulate it. But it would take him months or years to simulate the decision-making process of either Red or Blue. It was obvious, on the other hand, that anything which made any difference would have to be available in a matter of weeks, or even days. What he wrote had nothing to do with computers, and was, in fact, a piece of philosophical argumentation.
Tom suggested that, even in the air of crisis, there was still an argument which a dove could use against a B-t-t-D hawk. Red might be about to lose the economic race, and might realize it at just about the time that their ICBMs became operational. But there was still a way in which they could win without striking, and it was therefore not necessary that they strike to win. From that it followed that it was not now necessary for Blue to strike to beat them to the draw.
The whole thing depended on there being a policy for Red which would be good enough to tempt the Red leadership, but which the Blue leaders could accept, at least for the time being. The time frame would have to be such that, when this strategy on the part of Red ultimately failed, Blue would have its own ICBMs.
It was a big order, and a number of things had to come out right. But, as far as Tom could see, the only alternative was that of General LeMay.
The strategy consisted in Blue's signalling its willingness to engage in another Korea, this one on an even larger scale. The signalling part would be tricky, but such things could be managed. The resulting regional war would pit large numbers of American ground troops against another Asian opponent, very likely somewhere on the southeast Asian mainland. It would be so obviously expensive for America, both economically and in terms of men, that the Soviet leadership would see it as restoring the economic balance, perhaps in their favor. Only the Blue leadership would realize that the growing economic gulf was widening so much that not even such a war could even things up.
All the time he was writing, Tom had in mind General Buzz Howard's advice. Nothing would make any difference unless it gave the army the pre-eminent role. This would, of course, be an extremely bloody and painful role, but there was no doubt that it would feature the army front and center.
Tom's paper ran to about three pages. He revised it for the last time at about two in the morning. It then needed a title. There was no point in trying to be subtle. Tom chose "A Role for the Army in an Atmosphere of Ongoing Nuclear Crisis." He then went to bed and fell asleep immediately.