"Don't leave without me," sings the latest Swiss Euro-Hit, but true Swiss women, like Veronica Cuomo, are not clinging vines, even when suckers for a smooth-talking American spy, weapons dealer, informant, who seems always to have good reason for leaving in haste and alone, and combines love for Marx' sister-in-law with the betrayal of Marx.
WHEN a year has passed and I am lying in bed, fondling sleepy Filly and musing alternately of getting into her venusian preserves and of the swallows that flew into town the night before -- yea, verily, acting as wild individual shooting stars yet at the same time locked in indecipherable patterns of movement and all flocked together here high and low above our garden come from afar, just as we, on our Earth each year in mid-August, enter the region of our shooting stars and they meteorize the night sky, together and individually -- the house-bell rings.
Startled Filly rises, tugs open the shutters and windows and looks down upon Le Quay.
"Good Morning, I am Veronica Cuomo, Chris' former sister-in-law, I am sorry if I come too early."
Filly goes down in my bathrobe. I dress. Veronica, she has come to tell me a story. I have no idea of it, only that Marx called briefly and told me that she was on her way.
Well, it had been a good night. As you age, your night becomes more important relative to the day, because so much has happened that needs to be resolved in the darkness and there is less to sleep for, and death is stomping his hooves impatiently, a noise that carries well in the stillness. (This Richard Wagner felt and put into the mouths of Tristan and Isolde, a love of darkness, wherein alone they could see each other. But then Wagner has Siegfried and Brunhilde bathe and worship in the brilliance of day, yet love of death there is here too. I rush to my bath in love with night and day and life and death, what a glutton for punishment!)
In the afternoon, we had driven Hugh Dickinson to the Marseilles Airport for his return to London, and my mind was then lifted from the subject of ancient electricity for the first time in ten days. The work is going well.
Hugh is recomposing passages from the Classics that appear to corroborate my electrical theory, that the ancients knew electricity in most of its forms from the stars to the human brain (but, yes, they stopped short of inventing the electronic computer, and lighting up the cities. Why? I ask myself, too. Perhaps because the Earth was heavily electrified in those days and they were terribly frightened of it, and warned by the priests to lay off of it. All the gods were electric, including Yahweh.)
Hugh has several hundred references in hand, and is moving out, too, into supporting my theory that all human vocabularies are god-ridden and heavily electrified. Heavens forfend that we succeed in our efforts! What a massacre of textbooks will follow!
Veronica had had her paragraph already (cf supra.), but her story was bigger than herself. Besides she possessed a fast new Mitsubishi and had heard of the swallows of Saint-Martian:
"Nothing Happens for Nothing; Nothing is Due to a Single Thing." (Maxim #17)
Veronica's story begins over coffee, which I brew of an insulting French brand named El Gringo, adding chicory. I knew that she had heard of the arrest of Marx before anyone else, but not how soon. She had known the day before!
Her source was her longtime friend, Roger Hayes, one of several pseudonyms of a man of several passports. Roger telephoned her from somewhere to say that Chris was about to be arrested for espionage, computer espionage, in fact. He said that Chris would drop out of sight for a while.
He said that he himself had to get out of the country for a couple of months and was going to the States. The reason he gave was that the police might be questioning her and she might divulge his name, or, if she didn't, Chris would, under interrogation.
(Actually, Chris had no idea of mentioning his name, says he,
the police were not poking around for a corresponding name, and Veronica was never contacted by the police.)
The day before coming to see me, Veronica called a woman from Basle, Irmgard Köhler, another close friend of Roger (Watch out, Roger, they're closing in on you, never mind the Russki and Interpol and the Mafiosi, it's the women that'll get you!) to whom Veronica had spoken a couple of times before but never so intimately.
Irmgard did know that Roger had been told by somebody at the American Embassy of the impending arrest of Marx, and according to Roger this was sufficient reason to quit Switzerland. So he did.
So now we know. Know what? Who is Roger?
What does the Marx affair have to do with the American Embassy (read the C.I.A. component)?
How do Marx and his step-brother's former second wife, who were rarely in touch with one another, come to be joined together in matters of espionage and with Roger Hayes?
And the woman in Basle? And not only her, there is another woman, an African, in Zurich, what?
And more in other lands, the Philippines for instance. "A girl in every (air)port."
It was Pfingsten, Whitsuntide, of a May evening of 1983 and Veronica, on vacation at Monte Bre above Lugano, was walking to her rooms and saw a man loitering on the path above. She hesitated, walked back, walked up again and was accosted, "Do you speak German or English?"
This would be the yet unknown Roger, of course. He carried a despatch case, was dressed informally and well, and she found herself not only listening to his horrendous story but inviting him finally to her place where he spent the night -- "he made no advances, he behaved very well" -- the week as it turned out, and they became long-time friends, none of this "Ne partez pas sans moi" guk -- leave this to the kids and anyhow Swiss women have their own fish to fry without begging leave to tag along, cf.infra.
It developed that he was a continual hider-outer, who came and went; he spent a year and a half with her in her apartment at Gstaad, after which he could not return for quite a while, mainly because he had to pass eighteen months in a German jail, but then, in and out of one scrape or another, he was not too far away to call her when Marx was about to be arrested.
Why was le bel homme sans merci palely loitering on the path that evening?
He had arrived that day from three months of travel that had taken his companion and himself from Moscow to Turkey, Greece, Italy and now Switzerland. They were secret agents, they were arms dealers, they were informants to whoever would pay for intelligence, they were whatever they were. They had fled Moscow.
They were unpopular in various quarters, not the least perhaps in Lugano where the Banca Svizzera had a troublesome and highly profitable Ticino branch, convenient for Mafiosi. The name of a certain Severo was mentioned and lingered in the air over the years inexorcisable.
Roger's companion was no more. Dead. In their hotel room. A bullet. "Right through here," he told her, pointing an index finger to the center of his handsome forehead. With that, he thought it best not to bother packing up before leaving.
His papers were special matter, various identities, contracts, bills, information, copies of reports, addresses of people around the world: these he had, and now she had them and would have his collection with her for years, save what he put or took in connection with trips.
She couldn't believe him but who could refuse the man and the story? Aged about fifty then (born 9 June 1929 in Delaware - there, a dead give-away, ha!), well-educated, an Ivy League college -- Pennsylvania, no, Brown University by any chance? -- that sounds like it, she said, and I wonder idly whether he might have been a student of mine, I would have been about 31, he 21, a proper age for my lectures in political science that everyone was required to attend.
Did I lead him astray? One year the Editors of the Yearbook carried a full page portrait of me labelled "Big Brother," and I was doing a job in psychological warfare relating to the Korean War, and he served bravely in that War, she told me, and afterwards went into the secret service.
So be on the look-out for a handsome gentleman in his fifties, solidly built ("He has your build," says Veronica, 196 lbs., size 44 jacket.), rather heavy but even features, informally dressed ("like me?" "yes" -- that's mainly L.L.Bean's khaki safari pants, a red bunting pullover from Early Winters, double thermal black socks idem, Rocsports Prowalkers, and an ancient Greek bronze horseshoe hanging from my neck), slightly over medium height, well-spoken, well-travelled, well-muscled, speaking several languages, good tastes, eternally even-tempered in expression, doesn't drink, doesn't smoke, doesn't swear, likes to cook exotic dishes -- what more can you ask?
Oh, yes, Roger doesn't even carry a gun! Long ago I carried a gun wherever I went.
It was a vest-pocket 25-calibre Beretta nine-shot automatic, a jewel, stolen from my car on a Lisbon dock after twenty years.
Carrying a gun is useless unless it is you who are gunning; your assassins do not play romantic Western movies: "Draw, mister!!" (Remember Dulcie September!)
Besides, all these terrorists of the general public have made conditions tough for the innocent gun-toter; you can't risk getting through airport security armed. So gunless Roger is up-to-date. But not necessarily helpless therefore.
"Is he rich?" Now that is asking too much. In fact, he needs to be financed from time to time; that's part of the mothering he requires. He spends an awful lot of money on the telephone around the world and in travel to where he has no accommodating pad-partner.
He reads regularly the Herald Tribune, L'Express, and Le Monde. He clips pertinent articles and files them away dutifully for some future day's research. He also subscribes to Battle-Cry, a hint of mythomania.
I figure it's impossible to check out his story, told that evening to Veronica. Three theories occur.
What he said was true about the murder and his being on the lam, and sitting on a removed park bench for two hours, and then deciding to approach a woman for help. In this case, the enemy might have been Soviet, Iranian, Bulgarian, American, or Italian, and the hit-man of any nationality.
Somehow, judging from Veronica's tale, he had been involved with the sinister interests of all of these as governments and as individual partners or competitors.
However, she read no news nor heard any gossip about the killing. (This has to be discounted because the Swiss police, we have by now learned, would have successfully covered up the affair with the cooperation of the press and the management of the hotel. Roger would have known that he would not be caught up in a lie, for this reason, too.)
The story might have been a hoax. That's a second possibility. He might be a mythomaniac and professional mulcter of women. He would invent the murder and put on his robes as a secret agent after going broke and being kicked out of the Hotel without his baggage, and he would go in search of someone to help him get back on his feet. Swiss women are great for this act; they are unusually independent and usually well-heeled.
Or, in a sweeter version of this scenario, he might have been on vacation and was compulsively driven into his mythomaniac role as the Man from Uncle. The serio-comedy might, too, have been based on fact. Every intelligence service will have released a considerable percentage of their agents over the years for having been over-potentiated psychically for espionage and then in time over-playing their roles with more or less ghastly results.
Or he might have taken early retirement and had time now to live the dreams he could never realize while an authentic secret agent.
A third possibility is that Roger had been detailed by the C.I.A. to look into Marx' affairs, and had gone to see whether Veronica knew anything of them. This was his Venus Spy-Trap, his way of introducing himself to her, a clever way, because he might harmlessly "reveal himself" and thus win her confidence (or frighten her away).
He could go on with her as a friend for a long time and meet Chris Marx whenever he wanted to; he did, in fact, meet him, through her, and without Marx learning from her Roger's professions.
This was the Spring of 1983. Marx had already tried to supply computers and software to the Soviet Union, material that came under ban by the United States while the transaction was being processed. Marx had been friendly with several Soviet officials and Swiss communists. There were several reasons therefore for the C.I.A. to investigate him.
Three years later, Potiondy was expelled and replaced in a couple of months by Leonidov. This man came from a German assignment.
In November 1984, coming from the Redlands, Roger Hayes was arrested while disembarking from his airplane, by the West German police, brought to trial, and sentenced to eighteen months in prison. Judged by the penalty, the offense would have been serious, military espionage for the East Bloc, trafficking in drugs, selling weapons to proscribed countries, or all three, for one, two or more countries, plus private interests, or none of these and nothing at all, except the testimony of adverse witnesses set to frame him from one or more of the foregoing interests -- German courts are not infallible.
His interest in arms dealing is perennial, maybe as a spy, maybe as a dealer, probably both. Like the mafiosi, in fact like characters of any trade, the weapons tribe know or know about one another. Roger is well aware of an ex-boy friend of long-standing of Veronica who managed a lot of arms and gold shipments and whose close friend was a Chinese spy of truly mataharian charms who it developed was an even closer friend of a monarch among armament manufacturers, and, in fact, when Roger was last heard of, he had returned to the scene and was on the trail of his predecessor with Veronica. (The world competition in arms is furious nowadays among the sixty nations that were selling war goods to Iran and Iraq before the countries stopped fighting and paying out half their annual national income for the goods.)
Even though much of this story takes place in Beijing, it ends in Switzerland, whence you can understand why so many spy novels are set in Switzerland.
One matter seems clear. The C.I.A. was not fronting for him in Germany, else they would have sprung him. Whatever he was up to, the Agency was displeased.
Item 2: The Soviets would be more interested in an agent who had been jailed conceivably for work on their behalf (whatever the formal charges and trial were about). Unless they had turned him in -- either framing him or informing.
Not long after meeting Veronica, Roger confided in her that he was a double agent, but, he added, he remained always a true-blue American, giving the Russians worthless stuff. As we have seen, worthless stuff means most spy stuff.
In 1986 he was released from his German jail and found his way into Switzerland. (Strange that the Swiss authorities would admit him.) We note that at about the same time, Piotr Leonidov was leaving Germany for Switzerland.
Some meaning may be scuttling in the bottom of this fishy barrel. If the Russians became suspicious of his stuff, they would be pleased to report him to the German police as carrying it with him or receipts for same or new orders (check his bag).
You could do it with anybody you didn't like. Fort Meade (Maryland) Intelligence Officers last year set up a hot line for Americans to report any suspicious spy-like characters or goings-on around the nation. They got 20,000 calls! Nope, no spies. But it must have been a thrill for all who dialled 1-800-CALL-SPY.
Or the German police, plagued like the Swiss by reports of thousands of spies overrunning the country, were on the alert to catch and convict anyone coming out of the East with a batch of incriminating papers, and unless Roger had cleared his mission with the C.I.A., the Agency itself would hardly believe in his sophisticated good-stuff-for-bad-stuff scheme.
Presumably he had not. That leaves him cliff-hanging.
It took Roger a while to get back into the good graces of the C.I.A. Actually he may never have made the grade, try as he might.
What do you do, when your income from Uncle Sam is uncertain? You free-lance intelligence.
Also maybe you become an informant. Police of several countries like to know the identity of spies of any kind and will pay for the information. They will also pay to learn of illegal weapons deals. They will also reward your entertaining them with facts about the traffic in hard drugs, especially when they can make a bust in consequence.
And you will of course use your best efforts to borrow money from friends for your expenses in setting up deals of a type that would not bring you tinselled stars in Sunday School. Before they know it you are into them for sums of five figures.
Veronica is no blushing violet. She is no "Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi" type; that's the guy's problem. Her hobby is the world's deserts. Of an ordinary day she will be found in an exclusive club in Gstaad, tutoring foreign children as they or their parents progress through the cardiac clinics. Of an extraordinary day, she flies to remote hell-holes, drives into them, lives in them, loves them, does so whenever she can -- much as her parents would have visited the spas of Europe.
She and a friend were driving in the almost trackless desert of Southeastern Libya when they came upon a small encampment in the middle of nowhere. They made friends with the group, which consisted of some generals and their retainers or captors. The two women were welcomed, and the Libyans -- for so they were -- obligingly posed for photographs.
When she returned to Gstaad, Veronica showed the photos to Roger. He was surprised. "We thought that these men were dead! They are the Libyan Army leaders who were overthrown by Khadaffi!" (You already know Colonel Khadaffi surely? $100 million a year for terrorism; fifteen terrorist training camps, with
East German, Cuban, Polish and Syrian instructors; 8000 graduates from all continents. The Great Educator!) This would have been the Revolution of 1969.
Roger had her make copies of the pictures so that he could send them to Washington.
You can gain from this incident a better understanding of the techniques of systematic intelligence-gathering.
Veronica is a formidable photographer. She cannot help but take pictures of all kinds. For example, she photographed all of the precious papers of Roger Hayes and hid them away.
Why would she do so? I have already told you, she is a highly skilled and inveterate picture-taker If you photograph soi-disant-charging rhinoceroses would you not at the other extreme feel the urge to photograph top secret spy papers?
Besides, who knows whether Roger might not do something real bad, going beyond borrowing and not repaying money, living off of you some of the time, and engaging in dubious espionage activities? What do these papers in Russian say? What are these weapons vouchers in the millions of francs from Buehrle, the biggest Swiss arms manufacturer, doing here?
"Where are they? These copies." I ask.
"I destroyed them, just recently, if I only knew that I was going to see you, shouldn't I have done so?" She looked pained. So did I.
I see her point. The Swiss were supposed to have been investigating her former brother-in-law Christoph. They might finally get around to her and she would have to give them up. Then Roger would be quite upset, and she would not want that to happen. He would be upset in any event, if he knew.
Maybe, I said. But why should he believe that you photographed them? Now that they are destroyed, there is no proof. For that matter why should he have not known all along that you would at least read them and maybe photograph them.
Actually he may have left them there to intimidate you; for if you went to the police, they would say "why now?" But you would not take steps against him anyway, because the weight of those papers would bind you psychologically to secrecy.
Nor did she keep his letters, she said. No chance for graphology, shucks!
"But, Roger, you never know about women, as they say. Little by little you pulled away your papers from Veronica's apartment to deposit them you know where. Little did you suspect they had been copied. You are lovable; nevertheless, there were these copies made.
"And who knows what else the Women are up to? I have heard rumors that would distress you."
"And I cannot guarantee that the copies of all five hundred of your pieces of papers were destroyed. All that I can guarantee is that I haven't sent copies of all of my information and sources on this book to Our Friendly Agency and My Friendly District Attorney in New York. But how can you believe anybody in this slough of dyspionage?"
The Swiss police won't tell me whether they were propelled into the Marx affair by the C.I.A. and Roger Hayes, and if they said so I wouldn't believe them.
Steve Hayes, alias Peter Graham, alias Gordon de Vallant, will not tell me whether he pulled the plug on Marx, or rather, I would not believe him.
That leaves me in a fix, relying on this old brain that is getting more and more paranoid as time goes on and as the human species bears out my worst fears. Still I can guess no less than three possibilities:
One is that he has a crony in the Swiss police with whom he has exchanged favors in times past, who tipped him off. He thereupon used the occasion as a friend of Veronica to inform her about her brother's imminent arrest, though she was warned at the same time to say not a word to anyone, and anyhow it was too late -- so, big deal!
Second, he knew Leonidov and bore him a grudge for the German affair or warned the Swiss and C.I.A. that L was a man to watch carefully and get rid of as soon as possible. This was done, using the L affiliation with Marx to justify expelling L, who himself was framed thus, for he thought naively that he could enjoy a practically public association with Marx, considering that their dealings were so nearly innocent.
This would fit with the Soviet expulsion of the Swiss Embassy Secretary from Moscow, in that L was "unjustly" expelled, which called for retorsion. (Retorsion: "a measure not affecting the rights of another State taken in response either to an unfriendly act or to a violation of international law committed by another State." Ency. Int'l Law 9:335.) Potiondy's expulsion did not bring such retaliation.
(There are unwritten rules of conduct in espionage as in all fields of endeavor. I mentioned that espionage agents are not supposed to work under the cover of a commercial agent of the state, another rule; else the mutual trust required in commercial operations would not be possible; and this may have precipitated the expulsion of the two Piotrs.)
Third, Roger would be assigned free-lance (as a consultant) or as a C.I.A. re-employed agent to the case of Marx. It is significant that the Swiss police questioned others close to Marx but not his former sister-in-law Veronica; possibly they had agreed with Roger that she was his territory and they should not poach on it.
Actually whom did the investigators question? A lapse of some meaning occurs here. You will recall Selena the diet boutiquesse and Maude Mayer, the art connoisseur. No? Yes? Anyhow here is the point. Chris Marx was living with Selena when Roger went off to the Redlands and on returning was ushered into the slammer by the Germans. Later, Chris teamed up with M.M. for about a year and a half, which coincided neatly with the sojourn of Roger in Deutschland. Who would then know of the one woman, but not of the other? Roger, obviously.
Whom did the Swiss agents shadow, whom did they raid, whose house did they search, whom did they threaten? Selena. Then, having found no shred of evidence against her, they said that they would do her a big favor and not arrest her.
But not M.M. Why not M.M.? Logically because they had not been hearing any songs about her. And that because Roger did not know of her! At the time when Chris was restlessly changing domiciles, Roger was turning into espion vinaigrette in a German jug.
Until he recited what the cooperating Germans and Swiss wanted to hear:
I sing of Marx,
And his ring of quarks,
Thus all the more there,
The Redlands know where.
Roger forcefully orchestrated the case as a ring of dangerous economic, industrial, and political spies in order to excite the Swiss Feds, the C.I.A., and the KGB, perhaps charging up himself in the process, until everyone concerned got the idea that they had their hands on a Big Thing. Intelligence Agencies, if I may say so again, are as suggestible as Military General Staffs to exaggerating enemy strength.
The Swiss were the most appropriate agents to take action, which they did, making the arrests.
They informed the American Embassy to inform Roger, which was done.
And they probably put in a good word for him in the German court and that may be, too, why the Swiss readmitted the German jailbird to the blessed state of an indefinite stay in Helvetia.
At the same time, Roger could have informed the Soviets that the authorities were getting onto the Marx relationship and they therefore decided to close down on it. However, Marx had preempted any such move by preparing a final bill for the Soviet Trade Office, which would have ended any formal association and which he had promptly put into L's hand when they began their famous walk along the Rhine.
And Roger could easily persuade his bosses at the Embassy and Washington that he ought to go back home right away for reporting, rest, rehabilitation, and safety; for did not the Swiss proclaim the importance of the arrests, and would not the KGB, angered at the expulsion of Leonidov before he had a chance to withdraw himself, think that he Roger Hayes, was double-crossing them?
He would have convinced himself by now that he had better put some distance between himself and those cold killer types, Piotr Leonidov and Christoph Marx.
Whereupon Roger called Veronica to say that Marx would be arrested for espionage, that she should not tell anyone he had informed her of the fact, and "Good-bye".
"Do you know," I said to Filly, after Veronica had gunned down the hill waving, "when you are a young woman you have to be beautiful to be beautiful, but as you grow older you don't."
"I'll bear that in mind," she said, but then I went up to my bureau and there made a few calculations, and looked her up again, waving this sheet of scribble.
"For my part," I said, "I am growing younger all the time. When the Marx affair started a year ago, I was 1.7631 times older than you. Today I am only 1.7435 times older than you. I shall soon be of your age."
As you have gathered, my wife is an extraordinary woman: she has no angst about aging. So she would never provide me with the following remarks.
"Don't you dare put those figures in your book! I may be young, but not so very young."
"Don't worry. Nobody can figure out your age from these numbers. One would have to be a mathematical genius."
"Leave them out!"
"Of course. They don't have anything to do with espionage anyhow."
"That hasn't stopped a lot of things from getting into your book."