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The Last Good German
By Bill Granger
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They met before. Their encounter nearly cost Devereaux–code name November–his life. Now, amid a perilously uncertain global thaw, they meet again: America’s November Man, an agent without faith, and a defunct East Germany’s Double Eagle, an agent without a country.
For Double Eagle, the confrontation is the means to a totalitarian countercoup inside a reunified Germany. For November, it is the only way to halt the devastating blackmail of Rita Macklin, his one love.
Once more, the two long-standing adversaries–and the powers behind them–will try to use each other. And this time, the spy called Double Eagle is determined that the November Man won’t survive.
Table of Contents
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24 Oct 76—PARIS
The flight from Washington had taken seven hours and nineteen minutes. Now a standard black Cadillac sedan was waiting for him at the curb, in a no-parking, no-stopping zone. There were no other American cars at Charles de Gaulle Airport that morning.
Devereaux stood on the walk outside the terminal for a moment, looking up at the leaden morning clouds, feeling the threat of rain in the air. Then he looked down at the Cadillac sedan, and he shook his head. It was a bad joke, all of it.
The driver got out of the car and walked around the hood to the rear passenger door and opened it.
Devereaux paused a moment before entering the car. He looked at the driver and said, "Why don't you have American flags flying on the front fenders?"
The driver blinked and said nothing.
Devereaux crawled in and dropped his bag between his knees.
The other passenger was a black man with honey-brown skin and large blue eyes. A sprinkle of freckles bridged his nose and cheeks.
"You don't appreciate our meeting you," Pendleton said.
"Not very much," Devereaux replied. The rear compartment was sealed from the driver by a bulletproof glass window. The driver had closed the door and resumed his place behind the wheel.
"You're too cautious. Everyone knows everyone in Paris. The KGB dines at Maxim's."
"I'd expect that. The Russians have bad taste in most things," Devereaux said.
"You know Paris. They said you worked here—"
"I worked here once. After Vietnam. I could speak the language," Devereaux said.
"I know all about you."
"So we know all about each other, Pendleton," Devereaux said.
Pendleton was smiling. "And?"
Devereaux said nothing.
The smile faded and the question remained unanswered. Pendleton tapped one large, manicured finger on the glass partition and the driver slipped the transmission into drive.
Flecks of rain appeared on the side windows. The air trembled with thunder from another plane taking off.
"This is really a simple matter," Pendleton said at last. The car was on the freeway out of Roissy, descending south and west toward Paris. The countryside was turning winter brown. The fields were flecked with whitewashed farmhouses with red tile roofs.
"So simple that Section sent me from Washington." Devereaux could not conceal his annoyance because the appearance of the big black Cadillac sedan had unsettled him. He felt as naked as he had felt the night six months earlier when an operation in Albania was exposed right on the shore and he and the others had been captured. The last half a year had been full of nightmares reliving that morning on the Albanian shore, surrounded by ranks of gray-clad troops carrying AK-47s. It had been over as soon as it began. Everyone was eventually killed, some more quickly than others. Everyone except Devereaux, who had been shipped to Crete as the last living witness, to tell his tale like Ishmael.
"Section wanted a fresh face on this and I agreed," Pendleton said. He was head of Paris Desk; he had helped plan the failed Albanian operation. Devereaux had been called in by Hanley in the Albanian thing. He had never met Pendleton before. He was the last man Devereaux had ever wanted to see again.
"I'm not fresh, Pendleton. I'm worn out," Devereaux said.
"It is simple, this one. This isn't Albania," Pendleton said. "You still blame me for Albania?"
"I never blamed you or Hanley. I blame myself," Devereaux said. Closed his eyes. Saw the dead bodies, every one of them, arrayed on metal tables in a morgue in Tiranë. They made sure he had witnessed everything before they sent him back to Crete. He was a living warning of what happened to spies in Albania.
"I don't think this can be so simple."
Pendleton said, "Timing is everything in this, and I can feel it, I want it so bad. Double Eagle wants to get out and we're his best chance for that—he can see it."
"So why doesn't he drive out? You could send a Cadillac for him," Devereaux said.
Pendleton frowned. His eyes grew dark. The rain streaked wet lines on the side windows. "I don't really have to take your shit, you know," Pendleton said to the glass.
"I know. Send me home. Give me an 'unsatisfactory' for my two-oh-one file and send me home."
"I'm not going to do that, Devereaux. You've been living good off that Albania story, laying around in D.C. on 'will call' duty, just picking up your check every month."
Devereaux said nothing. Pendleton turned to look at him. "See, what you are is a man who doesn't see the possibilities. Double Eagle has two chances: Slim and none. He's taking slim but he's trying to be careful. You think he'd put his own family in danger?"
"What about his family?"
"Girl named Ruth Sauer is his half sister, she's the one he's sending to Paris to check out the trail. Make sure it's safe. And that's where you come in. You go with the girl and if the Mossad ain't on your back, it's safe enough for him."
"Tell me about Mossad. Hanley didn't—"
"You don't tell Hanley everything. Not that I knew it all at first. But Mossad is after our Double Eagle and those Jews get on your case, they don't get off it. Ask Eichmann."
"Tell me about Mossad," Devereaux said again. He was feeling queasy. First, the unexpected Cadillac waiting for him. Pendleton was a sneaky bastard and he never did anything without a reason. Pendleton had been on the periphery of the Albania fiasco—brought up to speed because he was head of Paris Desk and had a finger in Europe operations—but Devereaux had not liked that part of it. Too many cooks had stirred the Albania broth. Now there was another surprise. Hanley never mentioned Mossad.
"Mossad has made a connection of Kurt Heinemann to the massacre back a couple of years ago. At the Olympic games in Munich, you remember what I'm talking about?"
Devereaux stared at the rolling brown countryside. He remembered France as full of rainy days like this, just wet and cold enough to be melancholic. Or maybe that was always his mood and the countryside did its best to reflect the inner man.
"When Al-Fatah killed those eleven Israelis in Munich in 1972, Israel went after Syria and Lebanon. Bombed shit out of the Arabs. That was openers. They wanted to find out how the terrorists worked it, got into Germany, got into the Olympic Village. They knew there had to be a German connection. They figured on Bonn but Bonn broke its ass for Tel Aviv and eventually Mossad saw who the German was. An East German boy working as a terrorist for Stasi codenamed Double Eagle. Our boy, Kurt Heinemann. Kurt Heinemann has real trouble, Jews on his ass. They think he set up Al-Fatah with everything they needed and they want him very bad."
"Do we know this or is this the story that Kurt Heinemann is peddling to you?"
Pendleton started to say something and then stopped. He stared out his side window. "Fucking rain. Six straight days we haven't seen the sun."
"It's still there," Devereaux said.
Silence. The tires thumped over the pavement, sending up a perpetual trail of rain clouds behind.
"I know some things and I don't know other things. I picked up this Mossad stuff in the last week. We got informers, they got informers, all God's chillun got informers. They see, I see, we all see. I pick up this Mossad stuff from a man who knows a man who is the brother of the day bartender at Harry's who is the friend of a friend. Look. I run my desk. I tell Hanley what I absolutely know. I don't absolutely know about Mossad, which is why I don't tell him."
Devereaux stared at the bag between his knees. He had stored it all these months on the top shelf of his spare closet. He had never wanted to go anywhere again. They gave him pills to let him sleep; when he slept the drugged sleep, he dreamed of dead bodies naked on metal tables in a Tiranë basement. He had known them all.
"So he's sending his sister out as bait," Devereaux said. "And I'm supposed to go along with her to find Kurt Heinemann."
"Kurt Heinemann is gonna find you. He's gonna see there ain't no Mossad on his trail and then he's gonna come up to the rue Scribe and turn his sorry ass over to me."
"And what if Mossad wants him?"
"We wash hands with Mossad."
"But we're top dog and when we piss out our territory, Mossad knows when to stop sniffing it."
"So I'm a setup, is that it, Pendleton?"
Silence. No gloom, just a small fire of animosity sparked between the two men.
"You wait for her every morning for a week starting tomorrow at the Gare de l'Est. Wait for the Zurich train in the morning. That shouldn't be too hard."
"I want a piece," Devereaux said.
"For what? You gonna shoot this girl? This girl is a schoolgirl, she's only seventeen."
"And how old is Kurt Heinemann?"
"He ain't gonna shoot you."
"He wants to come to Uncle. How do you know that?"
"I know things. That's what we do in Paris Desk. We know things and sometimes we know important things."
It was wrong, it was all wrong; it was like falling, it was the smell of that Albanian beach on that morning; it was false and wrong and everyone knew it but no one could say anything. They were sleepwalking to death and they knew it and none of them could pull back.
Christ. Devereaux shivered and Pendleton saw it. Devereaux's face was the color of chalk and his gray eyes were bleak. He saw things past; he saw things coming.
3 Nov 76—PARIS
"Café au lait et pain et beurre," Devereaux said. The waiter brought the milky coffee and the buttered pieces of bread and left a saucer with a printed bill.
The dirty streets around the station were choked with traffic and the fumes of Gauloises mixed with diesel exhaust.
He had been at the station every morning since the first meeting with Pendleton. They had made no further contact. Pendleton had put him up at a nice hotel on the Champs-Elysées; he had moved out within three hours of registration and found a bare room in a one-star hotel near the station. On the second afternoon in Paris, he had purchased a 9-millimeters automatic from a fence in the rue de Verneuil on the Left Bank, a man he had used before on his first assignment. Three days after that, Devereaux made a signal to Hanley in Washington. It was a locator signal, nothing more, and it told Hanley only that Devereaux was still alive and still in the field and still in deepest black. Nothing more. He didn't want to use the safe phone in the rue de Scribe at Section offices. He didn't want to deal with Pendleton at all.
Devereaux sat in a different café near the station every morning. He sat by the window and he watched the pedestrians and loiterers, the clochards with their rags and sense of proprieties eyeing the other citizens like marks waiting to be scored. He watched for people who might be watching him.
On the third morning, he had spotted the watcher in the shadow of the entrance of the ornate Gare de l'Est. The watcher had followed him down the platform to meet the Zurich train. The girl had not been on the train. Pendleton had said she would wear a blue melton coat and there were always girls getting off the train and there were women in blue coats but Devereaux was sure that Ruth Sauer had not arrived in Paris. He was sure about the watcher as well; the man was following him.
So Devereaux had let the watcher follow him down a tangle of narrow streets away from his hotel. When he found the street he wanted, Devereaux slipped into a shadowed entrance and waited. When the watcher came abreast of him, Devereaux put the muzzle of the automatic against his forehead. Just that suddenly and painlessly.
"Jesus Christ," the watcher said.
"Who do you work for?"
"You know," the watcher said. "Jesus Christ."
"Not Jesus Christ," Devereaux said.
"Is that true? The best thing is to finish you and not guess about whether you're telling the truth."
"I'm Section, Section." Rain glistened on his forehead; maybe it was sweat as well.
"Tell him to leave me alone," Devereaux said.
"You checked out of the hotel—"
"And tell him I have a gun and tell him to stay out of my way," Devereaux said. "And don't ever go to the Gare de l'Est again."
"I won't," the watcher said.
"Can I go?"
The watcher had scurried away, looking behind him once or twice, but by then Devereaux had slipped out of the shadowed door and into another street.
The girl came on November 3.
She truly was a girl. She was slim and the coat seemed bulky on her body. She carried a single bag. Her hair was brown, cut short. She had large brown eyes.
Devereaux kissed her on the platform. They embraced as friends or lovers. She let the kiss linger. It was a kiss of greeting and sign of recognition: I am who you think I am. But what else was there in the kiss? Devereaux let the kiss linger also and he was puzzled by the urgency of her slim body. Who was this girl really? Was any of this true?
"I'm sorry I made you wait so long," she said. Her voice was very deep for one so young and slight. There was softness in it and the trace of an accent. "My brother is so careful."
"I'm careful, too."
"What is your name?"
"November," he said.
"Yes. That's the name," she said. "Are you sure of me?" A rare smile then; not at all shy.
He had to smile. "You're the only pretty girl in a blue coat. I'm sure of that."
"Did they say I was pretty?"
"Perhaps," Devereaux said. He felt awkward. She was very young and he felt attracted to her—by the force of that kiss, by the press of that young body against him—and he felt ashamed of himself. And, for that moment, he had lost the sense of danger. That frightened him most of all.
He resumed his frown. "Let's go. I'll take your bag."
"Is it far?"
"Not very far."
"Is it a nice hotel?"
"Not very nice."
"I always thought of Paris. And coming here to a beautiful hotel and eating beautiful food."
"We can get the food at least."
"Not now." She hugged at his arm as he led her down the platform to the concourse. Birds flew back and forth from ledge to ledge across the ceiling. The doors to the street were open. Traffic pounded against the rain-swept streets, creating chaotic noises. She held his arm very tight and stopped. She looked at the Paris she had dreamed about over storybooks; it was gray, rather shabby, very loud. Disappointment colored her eyes a deeper brown and Devereaux saw it all in that instant and pitied her.
"The sun shines, too," Devereaux said.
She gave him that smile. "And the food is good," she said.
"I ate on the train. It wasn't very good. I felt sick from the train," she said. Again, the voice was deep, melting, too experienced to come from that youthful face and those lips. "I'd like to lie down."
"The room has a single bed," he said.
She looked at him. "I don't care," she said.
Again, the sense of danger left him. He tried to drag it back. He felt the weight of her arms wrapped around his arm. What did he expect her to be anyway?
The Hotel du Monde had a glass door and a century of stained stones piled to a height of six stories. He led her past the concierge's desk. The concierge was a fat man with a waxed mustache who read the racing news all day. He looked up, saw the girl, glanced at Devereaux, then made a shrug and turned to the results from l'Auteil.
The carpeted stairs creaked. The fourth level was a narrow corridor that led into an adjoining building. The room was at the end. The door was flimsy and did not set exactly against the jambs. Devereaux turned the key in the lock and opened it. He led her into their room.
The wallpaper was covered with brown flowers that might have once been other colors. The bed was made up, wide and with a sag in the middle. The room had a washstand with thin towels on a metal rod and a bidet. There was a set of window doors opened to the noise of the street, and the rain.
"Do you want me to close the windows?"
"I like to hear the rain," she said. "I'm tired but it's just a little tiredness from the train. Just let me take a little sleep, November."
"A little sleep," Devereaux repeated, staring at her. She had shrugged off her coat. Her dress was also covered with dull flowers, faded from another time. It was a woman's dress on a girl's body.
"I'm eighteen years old," she said. "My brother trusts me to be his eyes for him. To see if it is safe."
"I don't know if it's safe."
"Who does know?"
"No one," Devereaux said.
"That is very honest of you," she said. She stood still, letting him watch her. Neither moved. Thunder bowled down narrow streets and rattled the tall window doors. "What we do is we take a train. And we just go to some place where Kurt can see that we are not followed."
"Who is following Kurt?"
"He is in great danger always," she said.
"And he puts you in harm's way."
"No. We have no danger, you and I." Again, she let the teasing smile linger. Then she took a step toward him. She touched his sleeve.
"Are you afraid of anything?" Ruth said.
"Then why do you do this?"
"It's what I do."
"Don't you have comfort? Your wife? Or lover?"
"There are lovers," he said. Why was he answering her questions? But he knew. The weight of her light touch was a thousand pounds. In a moment, the tension would have to be broken, one way or another. The door was closed, the windows open, and the room was empty of witnesses, time, or even place.
"I want a little sleep," she said. She kissed him then, with the same wet force she had greeted him with on the platform. So unexpected. She reached her arms around him and pulled his head down into the kiss so that he would not have escaped it even if he had wanted to. "Can you bring me bread? A little of the French bread and cheese?"
She pulled away.
Devereaux again tried to drag back the sense of danger but danger had fled the earth. What the hell did it matter now?
"All right," he said.
He turned to the door. "Don't answer any knock," he said, turning to her.
"There's no danger."
He stared at her. She had confirmed it. There was no danger anymore in the world as long as they stayed together in this room on this rainy day.
4–5 Nov 76—PARIS–ZURICH
He had left bread and cheese on the table by the bed and stared at her sleeping. Then he had left as quietly as he entered. He had gone into the streets and set up a trail to see if there were followers.
He walked all over Paris in the rain. The rain was lighter now and it just wet his face and he could have wiped it away with the palm of his hand.
He did not come back until after midnight and she was waiting for him. She had been reading a book. She had removed her dress and sat in bed in a small white bra, covered by the blanket to the waist. She had glanced up when he entered and put the book on her lap.
"I thought you might not be coming back."
"I was making a trail. To see if anyone was following it."
"You're very careful, aren't you?"
"No. I just don't like this."
"What don't you like? Me?"
"I mean, I don't like this." He went to the open window. The rain had stopped. The night was still and it smelled sweet because the rain had cleansed the world. The light from the single bulb was dim and the shadows in the room were huge.
"Why don't you get in bed with me and we can talk."
"I don't want to sleep with you," Devereaux said. But he didn't look at her. He stood at the window and looked down the narrow street to the place where the prostitute stood every night under the street lamp and to the other place where the clochard pitched his mattress each evening. The clochard had found some place indoors; so had the prostitute. "I want to know where Kurt is."
"Kurt is where Kurt is. He wants to see that you have a clean trail."
He turned and looked at her. "I don't believe you."
"I'm really who I say I am," she said.
"Why do you want to make love then? Why are we here? Why don't we go and find Kurt?"
"He'll find us, I told you. If you want to go, then we can leave tomorrow night. We take the overnight train to Zurich."
"You came to Paris to pick me up and take me back to Zurich with you? This is absurd," Devereaux said. He shook his head. No worry about finding danger now. It was in the room, in the shadows, waiting on the street, under the bed. In the body of the young woman with small breasts and a boyish haircut and large brown eyes.
"It is not absurd," she said. "You're the conductor for safe passage. When it is safe, Kurt will know. And you take him safe to America."
"I take him safe to the rue de Scribe," Devereaux said.
"And I tell you what Kurt tells me to do," Ruth said in that final way that Germans have.
He was alone. He had not liked or trusted Pendleton. He had separated himself and gone into black and purchased a pistol on the illegal market. He had threatened a Section watcher on the street. All right, he had cut himself off and now he was talking to a German schoolgirl who might be death incarnate. He realized he was fingering the trigger guard of the automatic in his coat while he looked at her.
"Kurt is in danger." Softer in tone. "He would not ask me to do this except for the danger. The Jews want to kill him."
"Because he helped to kill the Jews."
She stared at him. There. Just a glimpse of it in the large brown eyes. Devereaux felt reassured by the hatred he saw flame up.
"He is what you are. A spy does for his country."
"So they say."
"Did you ever kill anyone?"
Let me think. The first was a boy in Thailand with a bomb in his trousers. The second was… who was the second? The third. Devereaux closed his eyes. Dead bodies on metal tables with bullet punctures and slit throats. Opened his eyes.
"I take you to Zurich. If it is right, then Kurt will go with you to America."
"What will you do?"
"I will go home."
"Where is home?"
"Kurt lives in Leipzig?"
"Kurt lives in many places. Home is in Leipzig."
"My father was Otto Sauer. He is dead. Kurt's father was Ernst Heinemann and he is dead, too. He is dead in America. Kurt was a little boy in America and when his father is dead, my mother—our mother—goes home. To Leipzig."
"In the German Democratic Republic."
"It is hard sometimes but it is good, life is good." Said with the German stamp of approval.
"So you're a good communist."
"I am what I am," she said.
"What are you, Ruth?"
"I am his sister," she said. "That's what I am." She stared at him. "You do not have to be so hard to me. I am only his message to you. He does not trust, you do not trust, you are alike. I cannot think how anyone can live with so many doubts."
"Why do you want me to sleep with you?"
A question. It hung in the still air of the midnight room.
"Do I have to say?"
Devereaux released the grip of the pistol in his pocket. "Go to sleep, Ruth. In the morning, we can talk about where to go."
"What will you do?"
"Nothing. Take a walk. Breathe the night air. The rain has stopped."
"Don't leave me," she said. "I am not so brave."
And he saw it was true.
- On Sale
- Jan 13, 2015
- Page Count
- 272 pages
- Grand Central Publishing