collector's item

XIII
In those few spy novels, which I read as a boy, the role of the postage stamp was just as great, how small this subject is, and in importance second only to torn in half photographs, the appearance of the second half of which often determined the denouement. On the sticky side of the brand in these novels, spies are snagging — or placed on microfilm — secret information for the owners — or vice versa. Mark and Philby have, thus, like a synthesis of this half-torn character with the principle “information medium identically information”, and already because she — collector's item. To this can be added, what collectors value stamps above all, issued politically or geographically by ephemeral territories — short-lived or ceased to exist states, homely possessions and patches of land (in childhood, I remember, the most coveted was the Pitcairn-English mark, by the way, colonies in the south pacific). So that, if you follow this philatelic logic, then stamp release with philby — it's like a voice from the future, USSR awaiting. Anyway, there is something in his future, what, in the face of the KGB, it begs for it. Seem to be, that we live in a wonderful time for philatelists, and not only in this sense. One could even talk about philatelic justice — it speaks of poetic liberty! For half a century ago, when KGB warriors deported residents of the Baltic states, occupied by the Soviet Union, put an end to their existence, just philatelists completed the list of social categories, to be eliminated. (Esperantists were actually the last on the list., philatelists were on the penultimate place. If my memory does not fail me, there were sixty-four such categories. The list began with leaders and activists of political parties., followed by university professors, the journalists, the teacher, businessmen and t. d. Detailed instructions included, how to separate the breadwinner from the family, children from mother and so on, down to specific phrases like: “And dad went to the station to get boiling water”. All this was very sensibly thought out. — and signed by KGB general Serov. I saw this document with my own eyes; it was intended for use in Lithuania.) May be, hence the faith of the retiring officer in the didactic power of the postage stamp comes from. Well, nothing pleases the tired look of an impassive observer, like a sight of a circle, which closed.
XIV
We will not, but, neglect the didactic power of a postage stamp. This, at least, maybe, was released to inspire current and future KGB officers; probably, it was distributed among staff officers for free (modest official privilege). For beginners only, you can imagine, that she makes a strong impression on recruits. This organization attaches great importance to visual material and iconography, and her observation is deservedly famous for its ubiquity, not to mention omnivore. When it comes to solving didactic problems, especially in their own ranks, this organization does not stop at expenses. When Oleg Penkovsky is a GRU employee, which in the 1960s betrayed Soviet military secrets to the British, was finally captured (at least, so tell me), his execution was filmed. Penkovsky tied to a stretcher is brought into the cell of the Moscow city crematorium. One employee opens the firebox door, and the other two begin to push the stretcher along with the contents into a roaring fire; tongues of flame already lick the heels of a man screaming. At this point, the voice in the speaker requires interruption of the procedure, because according to the schedule this five-minute time is reserved for another body. Screaming, bound Penkovsky roll away; another body appears and after a short ceremony rolls into the oven. The voice from the speaker is heard again: now really Penkovsky’s turn, and he is sent to the fire. The scene is small, but strong. Stronger than Beckett, strengthens morality and at the same time unforgettable: burns memory, like a mark. Or like a brand: for internal correspondence. In four walls. And for the seven castles.
XV
Before you get to the fun stuff seriously, let me, kind reader, notice the following. There is a difference between the benefits of looking back late and a fairly long life, when you find out, what's the tails of an eagle. Not, this is not about a discount — exactly the opposite; most provisions, nominated by your author, conditioned by his life, and if they are not true, means, he lived this life, at least, partly, for nothing. But even if they are true, one question still remains. Does he have the right to condemn people, which is no longer, which — in the loser? The survivor of his opponent has a feeling of belonging to the triumphant majority: say, you know how to play cards. Are you trying to give retroactive effect to the law in this way? Do you judge the wretched wretched by the code of conscience, alien to them and their times? Me it, honestly, don't bother — for three reasons. First of all, because Kim Philby made ends at the age of 76; Currently, As I write these lines, in this game I still lag behind him on 26 years old, and the chances of catching him are very vague in my case. Secondly, everything, what he believed all his life — presumably, to its very end, — for me it was complete garbage since at least 16 years of age, although the use of my foresight was and is not much. Thirdly, because the baseness of the human heart and the vulgarity of the human mind never run dry with the passing of their most vivid exponents. But here's what I have to give up publicly, so this is from any claims to competence in that area, which now wandered. I already said, I'm not a spy fan. About life Philby, eg, I only know the bare skeleton, and then not exactly. I never read his biography, us in English, not in Russian, and I do not think, what ever read. Of all the possibilities, in humans, he chose the most tautological: betray one group of people — another. This story is not worth exploring. — intuition is enough for him. Besides, I don't remember the dates too well, although I usually try to reconcile them. So at this point the reader must decide for himself, whether he wants to follow this plot further or not. I, undoubtedly, I want and I will. Probably, I would have to declare all subsequent fantasy. But it is not so.
XVI
On March 11, nineteen ninety-three, in Brooklyn, FBI agents arrested a Soviet spy. In a small apartment, littered with cameras, semi, dotted with microfilms, stood a short elderly man with rat eyes, eagle profile and balding forehead; while Adam's apple was busily moving: just swallowed a piece of paper with some top-secret information. He showed no other resistance. Instead, he proudly declared: “I am a colonel of the Red Army Rudolph Abel and demand, so that they treat me as such, in accordance with the Geneva Convention”. Needless to say, that the newspapers just fell for it — and in the States and generally everywhere. Colonel tried, gave him an astronomical term and locked — if my memory does not fail me, in Sing Sing. He is there, basically, played billiards. At ninety-nine hundred and seventy or so old, he was exchanged at a checkpoint in Berlin for Gary Powers — unsuccessful pilot, who last hit the newspapers just a couple of years ago, when he crashed again — this time around los angeles, in a helicopter, and this time forever. Rudolph Abel returned to Moscow, resigned and lived without any fuss, In addition, what became the worst billiard shark in Moscow and its environs. He died in 1990 and was buried with limited military honors at the Novodevichy cemetery in Moscow.. Mark with his portrait was not released. Or — released? I could blink. Or she missed an English literary newspaper with a modest strike-breaker past. Maybe, he did not work for the brand: what is four years in Sing Sing compared to the work of a lifetime? Moreover, he was not a foreigner, but just an ordinary displaced compatriot. Anyway, brand Rudolph Abel did not get — gravestone only.
XVII
But what do we read on this tombstone? We reading: “Willie Fisher, also known as Rudolph Abel, 1903–1971” (of course, Cyrillic). For brand text, perhaps, longish — but not for us. (Brother, dear reader, you just take a look, what we just do not have here: spies, stamps, cemeteries, tombstones! wait, it's only the beginning: poets, artists, political killings, emigrants, arab sheikhs, bullets, daggers, stolen cars and brand again!) But — closer to business. Once upon a time — in 1936–38 yy. in Spain — two people, Willie Fisher and Rudolph Abel. They were colleagues and close friends.. So close, that other employees of the same office called them “Fisherabel”. Don't think bad, dear reader, — they were simply inseparable, partly due to work, which performed. Just partners. They worked there for the benefit of Soviet intelligence, in the department, the dirty side of the Spanish Civil War. This is that side, on which bodies riddled with bullets are found many kilometers from the front line. Whatever it was, someone led by the name of Orlov, who was in charge of the entire Soviet network of counterintelligence in Western Europe from the office in the Soviet embassy in the French capital before the Spanish war. We will deal with them later. — or, who knows, can, he will take care of us. For now, let's just say, that Orlov was very close with Fisherabel. Not so close, how are they with each other, but close. Again, nothing bad, since Orlov was married. He was just the boss, and Fisherabel — his right and left hand at the same time. Both, as I said, dirty.
XVIII
But life is unfair and tears even best friends apart. AT 1939 Spanish Civil War ends, and the paths of Fisherabel and Orlov diverge. They leave the madrid hotel “Nacional”, from where, from beginning to end, this operation was managed, sit down — who is on the plane, who on the ship, and who and the submarine, lucky spanish gold stock, given to the Soviets by Juan Negrin — Minister of Finance of the Republican Government, and disperse in different directions. Orlov dissolves in the air. Fisherabel returns to Moscow and continues to work for the same institution — compose reports, train recruits - i.e.. do it all, what do field officers do, leaving the battlefield. AT 1940 year Rudolph Abel transferred to the Far East, to the Mongolian border, where the conflict is brewing; he takes the wrong step, and they kill him. Then the second world war begins. All the years of the war, Willy Fisher lives in Moscow, coaches recruits — this time, probably, with great pleasure, since German is native to him thanks to his father, but overall feels, that life passes by, that he is circumvented with promotions, that he is getting old. This gloomy state of affairs is interrupted only in nineteen hundred rustling letters, when he is suddenly removed from naphthalene and given a new task. “To such an assignment, — he says cryptically on the eve of departure to one of his former henchmen since Spanish times, — to such an assignment the whole life of the employee — only preparation”. After which he leaves. Next time buddies hear about him X years later, when, taken by the FBI in this very Brooklyn apartment, old Willy sang: “I am a colonel of the Red Army Rudolph Abel, and I demand…”
XIX
Of the masses of virtues available to us, patience, dear reader, famous for, what is rewarded more often than others. Moreover, patience is an integral part of all virtue. What is virtue without patience? Just a good character. But in certain activities, it doesn’t pay off.. Moreover, turns out to be deadly. A certain occupation requires patience — devilish patience. May be, precisely because, that in a certain kind of activity patience — it is the only tangible virtue, faces, involved in this, so hang on it. Therefore be patient, kind reader. Count, What are you -“mole”.
XX
Moaning guitar, the sound of a shot in the dark alley. Scene: Spain, shortly before the end of the civil war (ending, of course, not because of negligence of the Oryol employees, but in Moscow many things, probably, seen differently). This evening, Orlova is summoned to meet with a certain official from Moscow on board the ship, anchored in Barcelona. As the head of the Soviet intelligence network in Spain, Orlov is accountable only — and directly — the Stalin Secretariat. He smells a trap and runs. ie. grabs his wife, takes the elevator to the lobby and asks the receptionist to call a taxi. Frame. Panorama of Jagged Pyrenees, the roar of a twin-engine airplane. Frame. Morning in Paris; accordion sounds, panorama — Well, let us say, Place de la Concorde. Frame. Cabinet at the Soviet Embassy in rue de Varennes. Dzhugashvili mustache over wide open safe door “Mosler”; starch sleeve with cufflinks and hand, hastily stuffing French banknotes and documents into a bag. Frame. Blackout.
XXI
Alas, no close-ups. In the scene of the disappearance of Orlov, there were none. But still, if you look closely enough at the dark screen, can distinguish a letter. The letter is addressed to Stalin and it says something in that spirit, what he, Orlov, breaks with godless communism and its disgusting and criminal system, that he and his wife chose freedom, and if at least one hair falls from the head of their old parents, remaining in the grip of this system, it on, Orlov, split and dump urbi et orbi all top-secret goods, he knows. The letter is enclosed in an envelope with the address of either the editorial office “Le Monde”, that “Figaro”. The address, anyway, Parisian. The pen dives into the inkwell again: another letter. This time — Trotsky. It says something like the following: I, undersigned, — Russian merchant, having just fled through Siberia from the Soviet Union to Japan, and quite by accident in a Moscow hotel I spied a conversation in the next room. It was about an attempt on your life., and through the gap in the door I even managed to make out the alleged killer. This is a tall young man, who speaks excellent Spanish. I consider it my duty to warn you. The letter is signed with a fictitious name, but don levin — Trotsky's biographer and researcher — reliably installed, that the author — Orlov, and, if I'm not mistaken, Orlov personally confirmed this to him. On the envelope — postage stamp Nagasaki, but it is addressed in Mexico City. However, it also gets into local newspapers. (The Latin Press? The country?), since Trotsky, barely recovered from a second assassination attempt (during which his American secretary was subsequently killed by the world famous monumental artist David Alfaro Siqueiros with the assistance of the subsequently world famous poet and even Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda), regularly sends to the press all threats and warnings, which he receives. And Orlov knows this, if only because for the past three years he has to browse through bales of periodicals in Spanish. Well, eg, over coffee. In the lobby “Nacional”, eg, or in your suite on the sixth floor.

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Joseph Brodsky
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