|Published by: ezh666 (Karma: 12.04) on 16 February 2011 | Views: 2049|
THE INNOCENT BY IAN McEWAN
My labours on the Castle Keep were also made harder, and unnecessarily so (unnecessarily in that the burrow derived no real benefit from those labours) by the fact that just at the place where, according to my calculations, the Castle Keep should be, the soil was very loose and sandy and had literally to be hammered and pounded into a firm state to serve as a wall for the beautifully vaulted chamber. But for such tasks, the only tool I possess is my forehead. So I had to run with my forehead thousands and thousands of times, for whole days and nights, against the ground, and I was glad when the blood came, for that was a proof that the walls were beginning to harden; and in that way, as everybody must admit, I richly paid for my Castle Keep. -Franz KAFKA, The Burrow, translated by Willa and Edwin Muir After dinner we saw an amusing film: Bob Hope in The Princess and the Pirate. Then we sat in the Great Hall and listened to The Mikado played, much too slowly, on the gramophone. The PM said it brought back "the Victorian era, eighty years which will rank in our island history with the Antonine age." Now, however, "the shadows of victory" were upon us.... After this war, continued the PM, we should be weak, we should have no money and no strength and we should lie between the two great powers of the USA and the USSR. -John COLVILLE, describing dinner with Churchill at Chequers ten days after the end of the Yalta Conference. The Fringes of Power: Ten Downing Street Diaries, 1939-1955
One It was Lieutenant Lofting who dominated the meeting. "Look here, Marnham. You've only just arrived, so there's no reason why you should know the situation. It's not the Germans or the Russians who are the problem here. It isn't even the French. It's the Americans. They don't know a thing. What's worse, they won't learn, they won't be told. It's just how they are." Leonard Marnham, an employee of the Post Office, had never actually met an American to talk to, but he had studied them in depth at his local Odeon. He smiled without parting his lips and nodded. He reached into his inside coat pocket for his silver case. Lofting held up his palm, Indian greeting style, to forestall the offer. Leonard crossed his legs, took out a cigarette and tapped its end several times against the case.
Lofting's arm shot out across the desk and offered his lighter at full stretch. He resumed as the young civilian lowered his head to the flame. "As you can imagine, there are a number of joint projects, pooled resources, know-how, that sort of thing. But do you think the Americans have the first notion of teamwork? They agree on one thing, and then they go their own way. They go behind our backs, they withhold information, they talk down to us like idiots." Lieutenant Lofting straightened the blotter, which was the only object on his tin desk. "You know, sooner or later HMG will be forced to get tough." Leonard went to speak, but Lofting waved him down. "Let me give you an example. I'm British liaison for the intersector swimming match next month. Now, no one can argue with the fact that we've got the best pool here at the stadium. It's the obvious place for the venue. The Americans agreed weeks ago. But where do you think it's going to be held now? Way down in the south, in their sector, in some greasy little puddle. And do you know why?" Lofting talked on for another ten minutes. When all the treacheries of the swimming match seemed to have been set out, Leonard said, "Major Sheldrake had some equipment for me, and some sealed instructions. Do you know anything about that?" "I was coming to that," the lieutenant said sharply. He paused, and seemed to gather his strength. When he spoke again he could barely suppress a yodel of irritation. "You know, the only reason I was sent up here was to wait for you. When Major Sheldrake's posting came through, I was meant to get everything from him and pass it on. As it happened, and this had nothing to do with me, there was a forty-eight-hour gap between the major's departure and my arrival." He paused again. It sounded like he had prepared this explanation with care. "Apparently the Yanks kicked up an almighty fuss, even though the rail shipment was locked in a guarded room, and your sealed envelope was in the safe in the CO'S office. They insisted that someone had to be directly responsible for the stuff at all times. There were phone calls to the CO'S office from the brigadier, which originated with General Staff. There was nothing anyone could do. They came over in a lorry and took the lot-envelope, shipment, the lot. Then I arrived. My new instructions were to wait for you, which I've been doing for five days, make sure you are who you say you are and explain the situation, and give you this contact address." Lofting took a manila envelope from his pocket and passed it across the table. At the same time Leonard handed over his bona fides. Lofting hesitated. He had one remaining piece of bad news. "The thing is this. Now that your stuff, whatever it is, has been signed over to them, you have to be too. You've been handed over. For the time being, you're their responsibility. You take your instructions from them." "That's all right," Leonard said. "I'd say it was jolly hard luck." His duty done, Lofting stood and shook his hand. The Army driver who had brought Leonard from Tempelhof airport earlier that afternoon was waiting in the Olympic Stadium car park. Leonard's quarters were a few minutes' drive away. The corporal opened the trunk of the tiny khaki car, but he did not seem to think it was his business to lift the cases out.
Platanenallee 26 was a modern building with a lift in the lobby. The apartment was on the third floor and had two bedrooms, a large living room, a kitchen-dining room and a bathroom. Leonard still lived at home with his parents in Tottenham, and commuted each day to Dollis Hill. He strode from room to room, turning on all the lights. There were various novelties. There was a big wireless with creamy pushbuttons, and a telephone standing on a nest of coffee tables. By it was a street plan of Berlin. There was Army issue furniture-a three- piece suite of smudgy floral design, a pouffe with leather tassels, a standard lamp that was not quite perpendicular, and, against the far wall of the living room, a writing bureau with fat bowlegs. He luxuriated in the choice of bedroom, and unpacked with care. His own place. He had not thought it would give him so much pleasure. He hung his best, second best and everyday grey suits in a wardrobe built into the wall whose door slid at the touch of the hand. On the bureau he placed the teak-lined, silver-plated cigarette box engraved with his initials, a going-away present from his parents. By its side he stood his heavy indoor lighter, shaped like a neoclassical urn. Would he ever have guests? Only when everything had been arranged to his satisfaction did he allow himself to sit in the armchair under the standard lamp and open the envelope. He was disappointed. It was a scrap of paper torn from a memo pad. There was no address, only a name-Bob Glass-and a Berlin telephone number. He had wanted to spread out the street plan on the dining table, pinpoint the address, plan his route. Now he would have to take directions from a stranger, an American stranger, and he would have to use the phone, an instrument he was not easy with, despite his work. His parents did not have one, nor did any of his friends, and he rarely had to make calls at work. Balancing the square of paper on his knee, he dialled painstakingly. He knew how he wanted to sound. Relaxed, purposeful. Leonard Marnham here. I think you "we been expecting me. Straightaway a voice rapped out, "Glass!" Leonard's manner collapsed into the English dither he had wanted to avoid in conversation with an American. "Oh yes, look, I'm terribly sorry I..." "Is that Marnham?" "Actually, yes. Leonard Marnham here. I think you've been-was "Write down this address. Ten Nollendorfstrasse, off the Nollendorf Platz. Get here tomorrow morning at eight." The line went dead while Leonard was repeating the address in his friendliest voice. He felt foolish. In solitude he blushed. He caught sight of himself in a wall mirror and ap proached helplessly. His glasses, stained yellowish by evaporated body fat-this, at least, was his theory-perched absurdly above his nose. When he removed them his face appeared insufficient. Along the sides of his nose were red pressure streaks, dents in the very bone structure. He should do without his glasses. The things he really wanted to see were up close. A circuit diagram, a valve filament, another face. A girl's face. His domestic calm had vanished. He paced his new domain again, pursued by unmanageable longings.
At last he disciplined himself by settling at the dining table to a letter to his parents. Composition of this kind cost him effort. He held his breath at the beginning of each sentence and let it go with a gasp at the end. Dear Mum and Dad, The journey here was boring but at least nothing went wrong! I arrived today at four o 'clock. I have a nice flat with two bedrooms and a telephone. I haven't met the people I am working with yet but I think Berlin will be all right. It's raining here and it's awfully windy. It looks pretty damaged, even in the dark. I haven't had a chance to try out my German yet... Soon hunger and curiosity drove him outdoors. He had memorised a route from the map and set off eastward toward Reichskanzlerplatz. Leonard had been fourteen on V-E Day, old enough to have a head full of the names and capabilities of combat planes, ships, tanks and guns. He had followed the Normandy landings and the advances eastward across Europe and, earlier, northward through Italy. Only now was he beginning to forget the names of every major battle. It was impossible for a young Englishman to be in Germany for the first time and not think of it above all as a defeated nation, or feel pride in the victory. He had spent the war with his granny in a Welsh village over which no enemy aircraft had ever flown. He had never touched a gun, or heard one go off outside a rifle range; despite this, and the fact that it had been the Russians who had liberated the city, he made his way through this pleasant residential district of Berlin that evening-the wind had dropped and it was warmer-with a certain proprietorial swagger, as though his feet beat out the rhythms of a speech by Mr. Churchill. As far as he could see, the restoration work had been intense. The pavement had been newly laid, and spindly young plane trees had been planted out. Many of the sites had been cleared. The ground had been levelled off, and there were tidy stacks of old bricks chipped clear of their mortar. The new buildings, like his own, had a nineteenth-century solidity about them. At the end of the street he heard the voices of English children. An RAF officer and his family were arriving homesatisfying evidence of a conquered city. He emerged onto Reichskanzlerplatz, which was huge and empty. By the ocher gleam of newly erected concrete lampposts he saw a grand public building that had been demolished down to a single wall of ground-floor windows. In its centre, a short flight of steps led to a grand doorway with elaborate stonework and pediments. The door, which must have been massive, had been blasted clean away, allowing a view of the occasional car headlights in the next street. It was hard not to feel boyish pleasure in the thousand-pounders that had lifted roofs of buildings, blown their contents away to leave only facades with gaping windows. Twelve years before, he might have spread his arms, made his engine noise and become a bomber for a celebratory minute or two. He turned down a side street and found an Eckkneipe. The place was loud with the sound of old men's voices. There was no one here under sixty, but he was ignored as he sat down. The yellowing parchment lampshades and a pea souper of cigar smoke guaranteed his privacy. He watched the barman prepare the beer he had ordered with his carefully rehearsed phrase. The glass was filled, the rising froth wiped clear with a spatula, then the glass was filled again and left to stand.
Then the process was repeated. Almost ten minutes passed before his drink was considered fit to be served. From a short menu in Gothic script he recognised and ordered Bratwurst mit Kartoffelsalat. He tripped over the words. The waiter nodded and walked away at once, as though he could not bear to hear his language punished in another attempt. Leonard was not yet ready to return to the silence of his apartment. He ordered a second beer after his dinner, and then a third. As he drank he became aware of the conversation of three men at a table behind him. It had been rising in volume. He had no choice but to attend to the boom of voices colliding, not in contradiction but, it seemed, in the effort of making the same point more forcefully. At first he heard only the seamless, enfolded intricacies of vowels and syllables, the compelling broken rhythms, the delayed fruition of German sentences. But by the time he had downed his third beer his German had begun to improve and he was discerning single words whose meanings were apparent after a moment's thought. On his fourth he started to hear random phrases that yielded to instant interpretation. Anticipating the delay in preparation, he ordered another half-liter. It was during this fifth that his comprehension of German accelerated. There was no doubt about the word Tod, death, and a little later Zug, train, and the verb bringen. He heard, spoken wearily into a lull, manchmal, sometimes. Sometimes these things were necessary. The conversation gathered pace again. It was clear that it was driven by competitive boasting. To falter was to be swept aside. Interruptions were brutal; each voice was more violently insistent, swaggering with finer instances, than its predecessor. Their consciences set free by a beer twice as strong as English ale and served in something not much smaller than pint pots, these men were revelling when they should have been cringing in horror. They were shouting their bloody deeds all over the bar. Mit meinen blossen Hdnden! With my own hands! Each man bludgeoned his way into anecdote, until his companions were ready to cut him down. There were bullying asides, growls of venomous assent. Other drinkers in the Kneipe, hunched over their own conversations were unimpressed. Only the barman glanced from time to time in the direction of the three, no doubt to check the state of their glasses. Eines Tages werden mir alle dafiletter dankbar sein. One day everyone"'11 thank me for it. When Leonard stood and the barman came across to reckon up the pencil marks on his beermat, he could not resist turning to look at the three men. They were older, frailer than he had imagined. One of them saw him, and the other two turned in their seats. The first, with all the stagy twinkle of an old drunk, raised his glass. "Na, junger Mann, bist wohl Night aus dieser Gegend, wiePeople Komm her und trink einen mit uns. Ober!" Come and join us. Here, barman! But Leonard was counting deutsche marks into the barman's hand and pretended not to hear. The following morning he was up at six for a bath. He took time choosing his clothes, lingering over shades of grey and textures of white. He put on his second-best suit and then took it off. He did not want to look the way he had sounded on the phone. The
young man who stood in his y-front underpants and the extra-thick undershirt his mother had packed, staring into the wardrobe at three suits and a tweed jacket, had an intimation of the power of American style. He had an idea there was something risible about his stiffness of manner. His Englishness was not quite the comfort it had been to a preceding generation. It made him feel vulnerable. Americans, on the other hand, seemed utterly at ease being themselves. He chose the sports jacket and a bright red knitted tie, which was more or less concealed by his homemade high-necked jumper. Ten Nollendorfstrasse was a tall thin building undergoing renovation. Workmen who were decorating the hallway had to move their ladders to allow Leonard up the narrow stairs. The top floor was already completed and had carpets. Three doors faced onto the landing; one of them stood ajar. Through it Leonard could hear a buzzing. Above it a voice shouted, "Is that you, Marnham? Come in, for Chrissakes." He entered what was partly an office, partly a bedroom. On one wall was a large map of the city, and under it was an unmade bed. Glass sat at a chaotic desk, trimming his beard with an electric razor. With a free hand he was stirring instant coffee into two mugs of hot water. An electric kettle was on the floor. "Sit down," Glass said. "Throw that shirt on the bed. Sugar? Two?" He spooned the sugar from a paper package and dried milk from a jar, and stirred the cups so vigorously that coffee slopped onto nearby papers. The moment the drinks were ready he turned off the razor and handed Leonard his cup. As Glass buttoned his shirt, Leonard had a glimpse of a stocky body beneath wiry black hair that grew right across the shoulders. Glass buttoned his collar tightly round a thick neck. From the desk he picked up a ready-knotted tie attached to a hoop of elastic that he snapped on as he stood. He wasted no movements. He took his jacket from the back of a chair and walked to the wall map as he put it on. The suit was dark blue, creased and worn in places to a shine. Leonard was watching. There were ways of wearing clothes that made them quite irrelevant. You could get away with anything. Glass struck the map with the back of his hand. "You been around it yet?" Leonard, still not trusting himself to avoid more of his "Well, actually, no," shook his head. "I've just been reading this report. One of the things it says, and this is just anyone's guess, but what they say is that between five and ten thousand individuals in this city are working in intelligence. That's not counting backup. That's guys on the ground. Spies." He tilted his head and pointed his beard at Leonard until he was satisfied with the response. "Most of them are free-lancers, parttimers, kids, Hundert Mark Jungen who hang around the bars. They'll sell you a story for the price of a few beers. They also buy. You been over to the Cafe Prag?" "No, not yet." Glass was striding back to his desk. He had had no real need of the map after all. "It's the Chicago futures market down there. You should take a look." He was about five foot six, seven inches shorter than Leonard. He seemed bottled up in his suit. He was smiling, but he looked ready to
wreck the room. As he sat down he slapped his knee hard and said, "So, Welcome!" His head hair was also wiry and dark. It started well up on his forehead and flew backward, giving him the high-domed appearance of a cartoon scientist facing into a strong wind. His beard, in contrast, was inert, trapping light into its solidity. It protruded as a wedge, like the beard of a carved wooden Noah. From across the landing, through the open door, came the urinous scent of burned toast smelled at a distance. Glass bounced up, kicked the door shut and returned to his chair. He took a long pull of the coffee that Leonard was finding almost too hot to sip. It tasted of boiled cabbage. The trick was to concentrate on the sugar. Glass leaned forward in his chair. "Tell me what you know." Leonard gave an account of his meeting with Lofting. His voice sounded prissy in his ears. In deference to Glass, he was softening his t's and flattening his a's. "But you don't know what the equipment is or what the tests are that you have to carry out?" "No." Glass stretched back in his chair and clasped his hands behind his head. "That dumb Sheldrake. Couldn't keep his ass still when his promotion came through. He left no one accountable for your stuff." Glass looked pityingly at Leonard. "The British. It's hard to make those guys at the stadium take anything seriously. They're so busy being gentlemen. They don't do their jobs." Leonard said nothing. He thought he should be loyal. Glass raised his coffee cup at him and smiled. "But you technical people are different, right?" "Perhaps we are." The phone rang while he was saying this. Glass snatched the receiver and listened for half minute and then said, "No. I'm on my way." He replaced the phone and stood. He guided Leonard toward the door. "So you know nothing about the warehouse? No one's mentioned Altglienicke to you?" "I'm afraid not." "We're going there now." They were on the landing. Glass was using three keys to lock his door. He was shaking his head and smiling to himself as he murmured, "Those Brits, that Sheldrake, that dumb fuck."
Two The car was a disappointment. On his way to Nollendorfstrasse from the UBahn Leonard had seen a pastel American vehicle with tailfins and swags of chrome. This was a dun-coloured Beetle, barely a year old, which seemed to have suffered an acid bath. The paintwork was rough to the touch. From the interior all comforts had been stripped away: the ashtrays, the carpets, the plastic mouldings round the door handles, even the gearstick knob. The silencer was deficient, or had been tampered with to enhance the effect of a serious military machine.
A blur of road surface was visible through a perfectly round hole in the floor. In this cold and resonating shell of tin they were creeping under the bridges of the Anhalter Bahnhof at a roar. Glass's method was to put the car in fourth and drive it like an automatic. At nineteen miles an hour the frame was shuddering. The pace was not timid but proprietorial; Glass clenched the top of the wheel in both hands and fiercely surveyed pedestrians and other drivers. His beard was raised up. He was an American, and this was the American sector. Once they were on the wider run of Gneisenau Strasse, Glass opened out to twenty-five miles an hour and moved his right hand off the steering wheel to grip the stem of the gearstick. "Now," he called out, settling deeper into his seat like a jet pilot. "We're heading south to Altglienicke. We've built a radar station just across from the Russian sector. You've heard of the AN/APR9? No? It's an advanced receiver. The Soviets have an airbase nearby, at Schonefeld. We'll be picking up their emissions." Leonard was uneasy. He knew nothing about radar. At the G. p. o. research laboratories his work had been in telephones. "Your stuff is in a room there. You'll have testing facilities. Anything you want, you tell me, okay? You don't ask anyone else. Is that clear?" Leonard nodded. He stared ahead, sensing a terrible mistake. But he knew from experience that it was poor policy to express doubts about a procedure until it was absolutely necessary. The reticent made, or appeared to make, fewer mistakes. They were approaching a red light. Glass dropped his speed to fifteen before riding the clutch until they had stopped. Then he shifted to neutral. He turned right around in his seat to face his silent passenger. "Come on, Marnham. Leonard. For Chris- sakes, loosen up. Speak to me. Say something." Leonard was about to say he knew nothing about radar, but Glass was embarked on a series of indignant questions. "Are you married or what? Where did you go to school? What do you like? What do you think?" It was the changing light and the search for first gear that interrupted him. In his orderly fashion, Leonard dealt with the questions in reciprocal sequence. "No, I'm not married. Haven't even been close to it. I'm still living at home. I went to Birmingham University, where I did electronics. I found out last night that I like German beer. And what I think is that if you want someone to look at radar equipment-was Glass raised his hand. "Don't tell me. It all comes back to that asshole Sheldrake. We're not going to a radar station, Leonard. You know that. I know that. The aerial on the roof connects to nothing. But you don't have level three clearance yet. So we are going to a radar station. The screwup, the real humiliation, is going to come at the gate. They're not going to let you through. But that's my problem. You like girls, Leonard?" "Well, yes, actually, I do, as a matter of fact." "Fine. We'll do something together tonight." Within twenty minutes they were leaving the suburbs for flat, charmless countryside. There were large brown fields divided by ditches choked with sodden, matted grasses, and there were bare, solitary trees and telegraph poles. The farmhouses
crouched low in their domains with their backs to the road. Up muddy tracks were half-built houses on reclaimed portions of fields-the new suburbs. There was even a half- built apartment building rising from the centre of a field. Further on, right by the roadside, were shacks of recycled wood and corrugated tin which, Glass explained, belonged to refugees from the East. They turned down a narrower road that tapered off into a track. Off to the left was a newly surfaced road. Glass tilted his head back and indicated with his beard. Two hundred yards ahead, obscured at first by the stark forms of an orchard that lay behind it, was their destination. It resolved itself into two principal buildings. One was two storeys high and had a gently pitched roof; the other, which ran off from the first at an angle, was low and grey, like a cell block. The windows, which formed a single line, appeared to be bricked in. On the roof of the second building was a cluster of four globes, two large, two small, arranged to suggest a fat man with fat hands extended. Close by were radio masts making a fine, geometric tracery against the dull white sky. There were temporary buildings, a circular service road, and a strip of rough ground before the double perimeter fence began. In front of the second building were three military trucks and men in fatigues milling around them, unloading perhaps. Glass pulled to the side of the track and stopped. Up ahead was a barrier, and a sentry standing beside it, watching them. "Let me tell you about level one. The Army engineer who built this place is told he's putting up a warehouse, a regular Army warehouse. Now, his instructions specify a basement with a twelve-foot ceiling. That's deep. That means shifting a hell of a lot of earth, dump trucks to take it away, finding a site, and so on. And it isn't the way the Army builds a warehouse. So the commander refuses to do it till he has confirmation direct from Washington. He's taken aside, and at this point he discovers there are clearance levels, and he's being upgraded to level two. He's not really building a warehouse at all, he's told, it's a radar station, and the deep basement is for special equipment. So he gets to work, and he's happy. He's the only guy on site who knows what the building is really for. But he's wrong. If he had level three clearance, he'd know it wasn't a radar station at all. If Sheldrake had briefed you, you'd know too. I know, but I don't have authority to upgrade your clearance. But the point is this-everybody thinks his clearance is the highest there is, everyone thinks he has the final story. You only hear of a higher level at the moment you're being told about it. There could be a level four here. I don't see how, but I'd only hear about it if I was being initiated. But you..." Glass hesitated. A second sentry had stepped out of his hut and was waving them forward. Glass spoke quickly. "You have level two, but you know there's a level three. That's a breach, an irregularity. So I might as well fill you in. But I'm not going to, not without covering my ass first." Glass drove forward and wound down his window. He took a card from his wallet and passed it up to the sentry. The two men in the car stared at the midriff buttons on the soldier's greatcoat.
Then a friendly, big-boned face filled the window and spoke across Bob Glass's lap to Leonard. "You have something for me, sir." Leonard was pulling out his letters of introduction from the Dollis Hill research unit. But Glass murmured "Christ, no" and pushed the letters out of the sentry's reach. Then he said, "Move your face, Howie. I'm getting out." The two men walked toward the guard hut. The other sentry, who had taken up a position in front of the barrier, kept his rifle raised in front of him in almost ceremonial style. He nodded at Glass as he passed. Glass and the first sentry went into the hut. Through the open doorway it was possible to make out Glass talking on the phone. After five minutes he came back to the car and spoke through the window. "I have to go in and explain." He was about to leave when he changed his mind, opened the door and sat down. "Another thing. These guys on the gate know nothing. They don't even know about a warehouse. They're told it's high security and they're going to guard it. They can know who you are, but not what you do. So don't go showing letters. In fact, give them here. I'll put them through the office shredder." Glass slammed his door hard and strode away, folding Leonard's letters into his pocket as he went. He ducked under the barrier and headed toward the two-storey building. Then a bored, Sunday silence settled on Altglienicke. The sentry continued to stand in the centre of the road. His colleague sat in the hut. Inside the perimeter wire there was no movement. The trucks were lost to view, around the other side of the low building. The only sound was the irregular tick of contracting metal. The car's tin plate was drawing in the cold. Leonard pulled his coat around him. He wanted to get out and walk up and down, but the sentry made him uneasy. So he banged his hands together, and tried to keep his feet off the metal floor, and waited. Presently a side door in the low building opened and two men stepped out. One of them turned to lock the door behind him. Both men were well over six feet tall. They wore crew cuts, and grey T-shirts that were untucked from their loose khaki trousers. They seemed immune to the cold. They had an orange rugby ball which they lobbed back and forth as they walked away from each other. They kept on walking until the ball was arcing through an improbable distance, spinning smoothly around its longer axis. It was not a two-handed rugger throw-in but a single-handed pitch, a sinuous, whiplike movement over the shoulder. Leonard had never seen an American football game, never even heard one described. This routine, with the catches snapping high, right up on the collarbone, seemed overdemonstrative, too self-loving, to represent any serious form of game practice. This was a blatant exhibition of physical prowess. These were grown men, showing off. Their only audience, an Englishman in a freezing German car, watched with disgusted fascination. It really was not necessary to make such extravagant play with the outstretched left hand just before the throw, or to hoot like an idiot at the other man's pitch. But it was a jubilant uncoiling power that made the orange ball soar; and the clarity of its flight through the white sky, the parabolic symmetry of its rise and fall, the certainty that the catch would not be fumbled, were almost
beautiful, an unforced subversion of the surroundings-the concrete, the double fence and its functional y-shaped posts, the cold. That two adults should be so publicly playful-that was what held him, irritated him. Two British sergeants with a taste for cricket would wait for a team practice, properly announced, or at least get up a proper impromptu game. This was all swank, childishness. They played on. After fifteen minutes one of them looked at his watch. They strolled back to the side door, unlocked it and stepped inside. For a minute or so after they had gone their absence dominated the strip of last year's weeds between the fence and the low building. Then that faded. The sentry walked the length of the striped barrier, glanced inside the hut at his companion, then returned to his position and stamped his feet on the concrete. After ten minutes Bob Glass came hurrying from the two-storey building. At his side was a U. s. Army captain. They ducked under the barrier, passing on both sides of the sentry. Leonard went to get out of the car, but Glass motioned to him to wind down the window. He introduced the man as Major Angell. Glass stepped back and the major leaned in and said, "Young man, welcome!" He had a long, sunken face to which his closely shaved stubble imparted a green hue. He wore black leather gloves and he was handing Leonard his papers. "I saved these from the shredder." He dropped his voice in mock confidentiality. "Bob was being kind of zealous. Don't carry them around with you in future. Keep them at home. We'll issue you a pass." The major's aftershave invaded the cold car. The smell was of lemon sherbet. "I've authorised Bob to show you around. I'm not authorised to make exceptional clearances over the phone, so I've come out to speak to these guys myself." He moved away toward the sentry hut. Glass got in behind the wheel. The barrier lifted, and as they passed through the major saluted comically, with only one finger raised to his temple. Leonard started to wave, then, feeling foolish, let his hand drop and forced a smile. They parked alongside an Army truck by the two-storey building. From somewhere around a corner came the sound of a diesel generator. Instead of leading Leonard to the entrance, Glass steered him by the elbow a few steps across the grass toward the fence and pointed through it. A hundred yards away, across a field, two soldiers were watching them through binoculars. "The Russian sector. The Vopos watch us day and night. They're very interested in our radar station. They log everyone and everything that comes in and out of here. They're getting their first sight of you now. If they see you coming regularly, you might even get a code name." They walked back toward the car. "So, the first thing to remember is to behave at all times like a visitor to a radar station." Leonard was about to ask about the men with the ball, but Glass was leading him around the side of the building and calling over his shoulder, "I was going to take you to your equipment, but what the hell. You might as well see the action." They turned a corner and passed between two roaring generator trucks. Glass held open a door for Leonard which gave onto a short corridor at the end of which was a door marked NO unauthorised ENTRY. It was a warehouse after all, a vast concrete space dimly lit by dozens of bare light bulbs slung from steel girders. Bolted metal frame partitions separated the goods, wooden boxes and crates. One end of the warehouse was clear, and Leonard could see a forklift manoeuvring across an oil-stained floor. He followed Glass toward it down an aisle of packaged goods stencilled FRAGILE.
"Some of your stuff is still here," Glass said. "But most of it is already in your room." Leonard did not ask questions. It was obvious that Glass was enjoying the slow unveiling of a secret. They stood by the clearing and watched the forklift. It had stopped by orderly piles of curved steel sections, about a foot wide and three feet long. There were scores of them, hundreds perhaps. Several were being lifted now. "These are the steel liner plates. They've been sprayed with rubber solution to stop them banging around. We can follow these ones down." They walked behind the forklift as it began to descend a concrete ramp into the basement. The driver, a muscular little man in Army fatigues, turned and nodded at Glass. "That's Fritz. They all get called Fritz. One of Gehlen's men. You know who I mean?" Leonard's answer was choked by the smell that rose to meet them from below. Glass continued, "Fritz was a Nazi. Most of Gehlen's people were, but this Fritz was a real horror." Then he acknowledged Leonard's reaction to the smell with a deprecating smile, very much the flattered host. "Yeah, there's a story behind that. I'll tell you later." The Nazi had driven his forklift over to one corner of the basement and turned the engine off. Leonard stood at the foot of the ramp with Glass. The smell came from the earth that covered two thirds of the basement floor and was piled to the ceiling. Leonard was thinking of his grandmother-not of her, exactly, but of the privy that stood at the bottom of her garden under a Victoria plum tree. It was gloomy in there, just as it was down here. The wooden seat was worn smooth at the rim, and was scrubbed near white. This was the smell that rose up through the hole-not altogether unpleasant, except in summer. It was earth, and a lurid dampness, and shit not quite neutralised by chemicals. Glass said, "It's nothing like it was." The forklift was parked near the rim of a well-lit hole that was twenty feet or so deep and as much in diameter. An iron- rung ladder was bolted to one of the pilings that had been driven into the floor of the shaft. At the base, cut into the wall of the shaft, was a round black hole: the entrance to a tunnel. Various lines and wires fed into it from above. A ventilation pipe was connected to a noisy pump set well back against the basement wall. There were field telephone wires, a thick cluster of electrical cable, and a hose streaked with cement, which fed into another, smaller machine which stood silent beside the first. Grouped around the edge of the hole were four or five of the big men Leonard came to know as the tunnelling sergeants. One of them was attending to a winch perched on the rim; another was talking into the field telephone. He raised his hand lazily in Glass's direction, then turned away to go on talking. "You heard what he said. You're right under their feet. Take it apart slowly, and for fuck's sake don't hit it." He listened and interrupted. "If you-listen to me, listen to me, no, listen, listen, if you want to get mad, come up here and do it." He put down the phone and spoke across the hole to Glass. "Fucking jack's jammed again. Second time this morning."
Glass did not introduce Leonard to any of the men, and they took no interest in his presence. He was invisible as he moved around the shaft to get a better view. It was always to be like this, and he soon learned the habit himself: you did not speak to people unless their work was relevant to yours. The procedure evolved partly out of a concern for security, and partly, he discovered later, out of a certain virile cult of competence 2 1 I that permitted you to brush by strangers and talk past their faces. He had moved around the edge of the hole to witness an exchange. A small wagon on rails had emerged from the tunnel into the shaft. On it was a rectangular wooden box filled with earth. The man pushing the wagon, who was naked to the waist, had called up to the man by the winch, who refused to let down the steel cable and hook. He called down that since the hydraulic jack was jammed, there was no point in sending the liner plates to the tunnel face, in which case the forklift in the basement could not be unloaded and could not carry away the box of earth if it was raised. So it might as well stay where it was. The man in the shaft screwed up his face against the lights shining down on him. He had not heard clearly. The winch man repeated the explanation. The tunneler shook his head and put his hands, which were large, on his hips. The box could be winched up, he called, and set aside until the forklift was ready. The winch man had his answer ready. He wanted to use the time to look at the winch's gearing mechanism. The man in the hole said what the fuck, that could be done when the box was up. No the fuck it couldn't, said the man by the winch. The man said he was coming up there, and that was fine by the winch operator, who said he was ready for him. The man in the hole glared up at the winch. His eyes were almost closed. Then he came bouncing up the rung ladder. Leonard felt sick at the prospect of a fight. He looked at Glass. He had folded his arms and cocked his head. The man was at the top of the ladder, and now he was walking around the rim, behind the equipment, toward the winch. The man there was making a point of not looking up from what he was doing. Somehow, lazily, unintentionally, the other sergeants drifted into the diminishing space between the two men. There was a soothing confusion of voices. The tunneler strung out a sequence of obscenities at the winch man, who was turning a screwdriver into the machine and did not reply. This was the ritual defusion. The indignant man was being persuaded by the others to use the jack failure to his own advantage and take a break. At last he strode toward the ramp, muttering to himself and kicking at a loose stone. When he was gone, the man at the winch spat into the shaft. Glass took Leonard's elbow. "They've been on the job since last August, eight-hour shifts around the clock." They walked to the administration building by way of a connecting corridor. Glass stopped by a window and once more pointed out the observation post beyond the perimeter wire. "I want to show you how far we've got. See, behind the Vopos there's a cemetery. Right behind that there are military vehicles. They're parked on the main road, the Schonefelder Chaussee. We're right under them, about to cross the road."
The East German trucks were about three hundred yards away. Leonard could make out traffic on the road. Glass walked on, and for the first time Leonard felt irritation at his methods. "Mr. Glass-was "Bob, please." "Are you going to tell me what this is all for?" "Sure. It's what concerns you most. On the far side of that road, buried in a ditch, are Soviet landlines that link with their high command in Moscow. All communications between East European capitals get routed into Berlin and out again. It's a legacy of the old imperial control. Your job is to dig upward and lay the taps. We're doing the rest." Glass was pressing on, through a set of swing doors into a reception area where there was fluorescent light, a Coca-Cola machine and the sound of typing. Leonard caught hold of Glass's sleeve. "Look, Bob. I don't know anything about digging, and as for actually laying the... as for the rest of it..." Glass whooped with glee. He had taken out a key. "Very funny. I meant the British, you idiot. This in here is your job." He unlocked the door, reached in and turned on the light and allowed Leonard to enter first. It was a large, windowless room. Two trestle tables had been pushed against one wall. On them was some basic circuit-testing equipment and a soldering iron. The rest of the space was taken up by identical cardboard boxes piled right to the ceiling, ten deep. Glass gave the nearest a gentle kick. "One hundred and fifty Ampex tape recorders. Your first job is to unpack them and dispose of the boxes. There's an incinerator out back. That'll take you two or three days. Next, every machine has to have a plug, then it has to be tested. I'll show you how to order spare parts. You know about signal activation? Good. They've all got to be adapted. That'll take you a while. After that you might be helping with the circuits down to the amplifiers. Then the installation. We're still digging, so take your time. We'd like to see these rolling by April." Leonard felt unaccountably happy. He picked up an ohmmeter. It was of German make, encased in brown bakelite. "I'll need a finer instrument than this for low resistances. And ventilation. Condensation could be a problem in here." Glass raised his beard, as though in tribute, and gave Leonard a gentle thump on the back. "That's the spirit. Be outrageously demanding. We'll all respect you for it." Leonard looked up to gauge Glass's expression for irony, but he had turned off the light and was holding the door open. "Start tomorrow, 0900 hours. Now, the tour continues." Leonard was shown only the canteen, where hot food was brought in from a nearby barracks, Glass's own office and finally the shower room and lavatories. The American's pleasure in revealing these amenities was no less intense. He warned solemnly of the ease with which the toilets became blocked. They remained standing across from the urinals while he told a story, which faded skillfully into small talk on the two occasions someone came in.
Aerial reconnaissance had shown that the best-drained. land, and therefore the best land for tunnelling, lay through the cemetery on the eastern side. After long discussion, the proposed route was abandoned. Sooner or later the Russians were going to discover the tunnel. There was no point in handing them a propaganda victory in the story of Americans desecrating German graves. And the sergeants would not care for coffins disintegrating above their heads. So the tunnel struck out to the north of the graveyard. But then, in the first month of digging, they had run into water. The engineers said it was a perched water table. The sergants said come down and smell for yourselves. By trying to avoid the graveyard, the planners had routed the tunnel right through the drainage field of the establishment's own septic tank. It was too late to change course. "You wouldn't believe what we were burrowing through, and it was all our very own. A putrefying corpse would have been light relief. And you should have heard the tempers then." They ate lunch in the canteen, a bright room with rows of Formica tables and indoor plants under the windows. Glass ordered steak and french fries for them both. These were the biggest slabs of meat Leonard had ever seen outside a butcher's. His overhung the plate, and the following day his jaw still ached. He caused consternation when he asked for tea. A search was about to be mounted for the teabags the cook was certain were in the supplies. Leonard pleaded a change of mind. He had the same as Glass, freezing lemonade, which he drank out of the bottle like his host. Afterward, as they were walking to the car, Leonard asked if he could take home circuit diagrams for the Ampex recording machines. He could see himself curled up on the Army issue sofa, reading in the lamplight while the afternoon gloom settled on the city. They were on their way out of the building. Glass was genuinely irritated. He stopped to make his point. "Are you crazy? Nothing, nothing to do with this work ever goes home with you. Is that understood? Not diagrams, notes, not even a fucking screwdriver. You got that?" Leonard blinked at the obscenity. He took work home in England, even sat with it on his lap, listening to the wireless with his parents. He pushed his glasses up his nose. "Yes, of course. Sorry." As they stepped outside, Glass glanced around to make cer tain no one was close. "This operation is costing the government, the U. s. government, millions of dollars. You guys are making a useful contribution, especially with the vertical tunnelling. You've also supplied the light bulbs. But you know something?" They were standing on either side of the Beetle, looking at each other over its roof. Leonard felt obliged to make his face quizzical. He did not know something. Glass had yet to unlock the driver's door. "I'll tell you. It's all political. You think we couldn't lay those taps ourselves? You think we don't have amplifiers of our own? It's for politics that we're letting you in on this. We're supposed to have a special relationship with you guys, that's why." They got in the car. Leonard longed to be alone.
The effort of being polite was stifling, and aggression was, for him, emotionally impossible. He said, "It's very kind of you, Bob. Thank you." The irony fell dead. "Don't thank me," Glass said as he turned the ignition. "Just don't screw up on security. Watch what you say, watch who you're with. Remember your compatriots, Burgess and Maclean." Leonard turned aside to look out of his window. He felt the heat of anger in his face and across his neck. They passed the sentry hut and shuddered out onto the open road. Glass moved on to other topics-good places to eat, the high rate of suicide, the latest kidnapping, the local obsession with the occult. Leonard was sulkily monosyllabic. They passed the refugee shacks, the new buildings, and soon they were back among the devastation and reconstruction. Glass insisted on driving him all the way to Platanenallee. He wanted to learn the route, and he needed to see the apartment for "professional and technical reasons." On the way they drove along a section of the Kurfurstendamm. Glass pointed out with some pride the brave elegance of new stores flanked by ruins, the crowds of shoppers, the famous Hotel am Zoo, the neon Cinzano and Bosch signs 2 6 waiting to be turned on. By the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church with its shorn spire there was even a small traffic jam. Glass did not, as Leonard half expected, search the apartment for concealed listening devices. Instead he went from room to room, taking up a central position in each one and looking around before moving on. It did not seem right that he should go into the bedroom, with the bed unmade and yesterday's socks on the floor. But Leonard said nothing. He waited in the living room, and still thought he was about to hear a security assessment when Glass came in at last. The American spread his hands. "It's incredible. It's beyond belief. You've seen where I live. How does a fucking technical assistant at the Post Office get a place like this?" Glass glared across his beard at Leonard as though he really expected an answer. Leonard had no ready means to respond to an insult. He had not received one in adult life. He was nice to people, and they were generally nice back to him. His heart beat hard, confusing his thoughts. He said, "I expect it was a mistake." Without appearing to change the subject Glass said, "Look, I'll come by round about seven-thirty. Show you some places." He was moving out of the room. Leonard, relieved that they were not to have a fistfight after all, accompanied his guest to the front door with earnest, polite thanks for the morning's tour and for the evening to come. When Glass had gone he returned to the sitting room feeling sick with contradictory, unarticulated emotion. His breath tasted meaty, like a dog's. His stomach was still gaseous and tight. He sat down and loosened his tie.
Three Twenty minutes later he was sitting at the dining room table filling his fountain pen. He wiped the nib with a rag he kept for the purpose. He squared a sheet of paper in front of him. Now that he had a workplace he was content, despite the confusion around Glass. His impulse was to set things in order. He was preparing to write the first shopping list of his life. He contemplated his needs. It was difficult to think about food. He was not at all hungry. He had everything he needed. A job, a place where he was expected. He would have a pass, he was part of a team, a sharer in a secret. He was a member of the clandestine elite, Glass's five or ten thousand, who gave the city its real purpose. He wrote Salz. He had seen his mother make her effortless lists on a sheet of Basildon Bond: 1 lb. mt, 2 lb. crts, 5 lb. pots. Such feeble encodings were not appropriate to a member of the intelligence community, one with level three clearance in Operation Gold. And he could not cook. He considered Glass's domestic arrangements, crossed out Salz and wrote Kaffee und Zucker. He consulted his dictionary for powdered milk: Milchpulver. Now the list was easy. As it grew longer he seemed to be inventing and defining himself. He would have no food in the house, no mess, no mundanity. At twelve deutsche marks to the pound, he could afford to eat in a Kneipe in the evening and at the Altglienicke canteen during the day. He looked in the dictionary again and wrote Tee, Zigaretten, Streichholzer, Schokolade. The last was to keep his blood sugar level up when he worked late at night. He read the list through as he stood. He felt himself to be precisely what his list suggested: unencumbered, manly, serious. He walked to Reichskanzlerplatz and found a line of shops in a street near the Kneipe where he had eaten his supper. The buildings that had once faced directly onto the pavement had been blasted away to expose a second rank of structures sixty feet back, whose empty upper storeys had been sliced open to view. There were three-walled rooms hanging in the air, with light switches, fireplaces, wallpaper still intact. In one there was a rusted bed frame; in another a door opened onto empty space. Further along, only one wall of a room survived, a giant postage stamp of weather-stained floral paper on raised plaster, stuck onto wet brick. Next to it was a patch of white bathroom tiles intersected by the scars of waste pipes. On an end wall was the sawtooth impression of a staircase zigzagging five storeys up. What survived best were the chimney breasts, plunging through the rooms, making a community out of fireplaces that had once pretended to be unique. Only the ground floors were occupied. An expertly painted board raised high on two posts and set by the edge of the pavement announced each shop. Well-travelled footpaths curved between rubble and regular stacks of bricks to entrances sheltering under the hanging rooms. The shops were well lit, almost prosperous, with as good a selection as any corner store in Tottenham. In each shop there was a small queue. Only instant coffee was unavailable. He was offered ground coffee. The lady in the
Lebensmittelladen would only let him have two hundred grams. She explained why and Leonard nodded as though he had understood. On the way home he had bockwurst and Coca-Cola at a pavement stall. He was back at Platanenallee, waiting for the lift, when two men in white coveralls passed him and began to climb the stairs. They were carrying paintcans, ladders and brushes. He met their glances, and there were mumbled Guten Tag's as they edged past him. He was outside his own front door, searching for his key, when he heard the men talking on the landing below. The voices were distorted by the concrete steps and the glossy walls of the stairwell. The actual words were lost, but the rhythm, the lilt, was unmistakably London English. Leonard left his shopping by his door and called down: "Hello..." At the sound of his own voice he recognised just how lonely he felt. One of the men had set down his ladder and was staring up. "Hello, hello?" "You're English, then," Leonard said as he came down. The second man had appeared from the apartment directly below Leonard's. "We thought you was a Kraut," he explained. "I thought you were too." Now that Leonard was standing in front of the men, he wasn't sure what he wanted. They looked at him, neither friendly nor hostile. The first man picked up his ladder again and carried it into the apartment. "Live here, do you?" he said over his shoulder. It seemed all right to follow him in. "Just arrived," Leonard said. This was a far grander place than his own. The ceilings were higher, and the hallway was a wide open space, where his own was little more than a corridor. The second man was carrying in a pile of du/sheets. "Mostly they contract out to the Krauts. But we've got to do this one ourselves." Leonard followed them into a large living room empty of furniture. He watched them spread their du/sheets over the polished wooden floor. They seemed happy to talk about themselves. They were in the Royal Army Service Corps, national servicemen who were in no particular hurry to go back home. They liked the beer and the sausages, and the girls. They were settling to their work, rubbing down the woodwork with sandpaper wrapped round rubber blocks. The first man, who was from Walthamstow, said, "These girls comz long as you're not a Russian, you can't go wrong." His friend, from Lewisham, agreed. "They hate the Russians. When they came in here, May '45, they behaved like animals, fucking animals. All these girls, now, see, they all got older sisters, or mums, or even their fucking grannies, raped, knifed. They all know someone, they all remember." The first man was kneeling down to the baseboards. "We got mates who were here in '53, they were on duty down by Potsdamerplatz when they started shooting into the crowds, just like that, women with their nippers." He looked up at Leonard and said pleasantly, "They're scum, really." And then, "You're not military, then." Leonard said he was a Post Office engineer come to work on the improvement of the Army's internal lines. This was the story agreed with Dollis Hill, and this was his first chance to use it. He felt meanspirited in the face of the men's openness. He would have liked to tell
them how he was doing his bit against the Russians. There was more desultory chat, and then the men were presenting their backs to him and bending to their work. They said their goodbyes, and Leonard returned upstairs and took his shopping into the apartment. The task of finding places on the shelves for his purchases cheered him. He made tea for himself and was content to sit and do nothing in the deep armchair. If there had been a magazine, he might have read it. He had never been much interested in reading books. He fell asleep where he sat, and woke with only half an hour to prepare himself for his evening out. Four here was another man sitting in the front passenger seat of the Beetle when Leonard went down onto the street with Bob Glass. His name was Russell, and he must have been watching their approach in the rearview mirror, for he sprang out of the car as they approached it from behind and gave Leonard's hand a ferocious shake. He worked as an announcer for AFN, he said, and wrote bulletins for RIAS, the West Berlin radio service. He wore a gold-buttoned blazer of a shameless Post Office red, and cream-coloured trousers with sharp creases, and shoes with tassels and no laces. After the introductions, Russell pulled a lever to fold down his seat and gestured Leonard into the back. Like Glass, Russell wore his shirt open to reveal a high-necked white T-shirt underneath. As they pulled away, Leonard fingered his tie knot in the darkness. He decided against removing the tie in case the two Americans had already noticed him wearing it. Russell seemed to think it was his responsibility to impart as much information as possible to Leonard. His voice was professionally relaxed, and he spoke without fumbling a syllable or repeating himself or pausing between sentences. He was on the job, naming the streets as they passed down them, pointing out the extent of the bomb damage or a new office building going up. "We're crossing the Tiergarten now. You'll need to come by here in daylight. There's hardly a tree to be seen. What the bombs didn't destroy, the Berliners burned to keep warm in the Airlift. Hitler used to call this the east-west axis. Now it's street of June 17, named for the uprising the year before last. Up ahead is the memorial to the Russian soldiers who took the city, and I'm sure you know the name of this famous edifice..." The car slowed down as they passed West Berlin police and customs. Beyond them were half a dozen Vopos. One of them shone a torch at the licence plate and waved the car into the Russian sector. Glass drove beneath the Brandenburg Gate. Now it was much darker. There was no other traffic. It was difficult to feel excitement, however, because Russell's travelogue continued without modulation, even when the car crashed through a pothole. "This deserted stretch was once the nerve centre of the city, one of the most famous thoroughfares in Europe. Unter den Linden... over there, the real headquarters of the German Democratic Republic, the Soviet embassy. It stands on the site of the old Hotel Bristol, once one of the most fashionable-was Glass had been silent all this while. Now he interrupted politely. "Excuse me, Russell. Leonard, we're starting you in the East so you can enjoy the contrasts later. We're going to the Neva Hotel..."
Russell was reactivated. "It used to be the Hotel Nordland, a second-class establishment. Now it has declined further, but it is still the best hotel in East Berlin." "Russell," Glass said, "you badly need a drink." It was so dark they could see light from the Neva lobby slanting across the pavement from the far end of the street. When they got out of the car, they saw there was in fact another light, the blue neon sign of a cooperative restaurant opposite the hotel, the H. o, Gastronom. The condensation on the windows was its only outward sign of life. At the Neva reception a man in a brown uniform silently directed them toward an elevator just big enough for three. It was a slow descent, and their faces were too close together under a single dim bulb for conversation. There were thirty or forty people in the bar, silent over their drinks. On a dais in one corner a clarinettist and an accordion player were sorting through sheets of music. The bar was hung with studded, tasselled quilting of well-fingered pink which was also built into the counter. There were grand chandeliers, all unlit, and chipped gilt-framed mirrors. Leonard was heading for the bar thinking to buy the first round, but Glass guided him toward a table on the edge of a tiny parquet dance floor. His whisper sounded loud. "Don't let them see your money in here. East marks only." At last a waiter came and Glass ordered a bottle of Russian champagne. As they raised their glasses, the musicians began to play "Red Sails in the Sunset." No one was tempted onto the parquet. Russell was scanning the darker corners, and then he was on his feet and making his way between the tables. He returned with a thin woman in a white dress made for someone larger. They watched him move her through an efficient foxtrot. Glass was shaking his head. "He mistook her in the bad light. She won't do," he predicted, and correctly, for at the end Russell made a courtly bow and, offering the woman his arm, saw her back to her table. When he joined them he shrugged. "It's the diet here," and relapsing for a moment into his wireless propaganda voice, he gave them details of average calorie consumption in East and West Berlin. Then he broke off, saying "What the hell," and ordered another bottle. The champagne was as sweet as lemonade and too gassy. It hardly seemed a serious drink at all. Glass and Russell were talking about the German question. How long would the refugees flock through Berlin to the West before the Democratic Republic suffered total economic collapse because of a shortage of manpower? Russell was ready with the figures, the hundreds of thousands each year. "And these are their best people; three quarters of them are under forty-five. I'll give it another three years. After that the East German state won't be able to function." Glass said, "There'll be a state as long as there's a government, and there'll be a government as long as the Soviets want it. It'll be pretty damn miserable here, but the Party will get by. You'll see." Leonard nodded and hmmed his agreement, but he did not attempt an opinion. When he raised his hand, he was rather surprised that the waiter came over for him just as he had for the others. He ordered another bottle. He had never felt happier. They were deep in the Communist camp,
they were drinking Communist champagne, they were men with responsibilities talking over affairs of state. The conversation had moved on to West Germany, the Federal Republic, which was about to be accepted as a full member of NATO. Russell thought it was all a mistake. "That's one crappy phoenix rising out of the ashes." Glass said, "You want a free Germany, then you got to have a strong one." "The French aren't going to buy it," Russell said, and turned to Leonard for support. At that moment the champagne arrived. "I'll take care of it," Glass said, and when the waiter had gone he said to Leonard, "You owe me seven West marks." Leonard filled the glasses and the thin woman and her girlfriend walked past their table, and the conversation took another turn. Russell said that Berlin girls were the liveliest and most strong-minded in all the world. Leonard said that as long as you weren't Russian, you couldn't go wrong. "They all remember when the Russians came in '45," he said with quiet authority. "They've all got older sisters, or mothers, even grannies, who were raped and kicked around." The two Americans did<
|Tags: Berlin, novel, sector, tunnel, Russian, Innocent, American