03:01:42 am on
Tuesday 16 Jul 2024

Spies Like Us 4
Matt Seinberg

I feel as if I haven't moved off my recliner for six months. In all probability, I really don't think of anything. I sleep. I eat. I shower. I go to the bathroom. I repeat this pattern, endlessly. Nothing seems real. It all feels as if it was my fault, although it isn't.

What am I talking of, you ask? Let me fill you in from the end of the last mission. I escorted them to the door and said my good byes, thinking the whole time that I hope I didn't make a mistake.

Tanya changed in the bathroom, while Betsy and I finished getting dressed. No matter how long I thought of it, something about this mission didn't feel right. I just couldn't shake the feeling that something very bad was going to happen.

Al made the mission seem to easy. Betsy had been out of the game for so long I didn't think she knew how hard this was really going to be. Moreover, I didn't trust her as far as I could throw her, which isn't very far. Between my bad back and her not being so skinny anymore, I couldn't lift her much less throw her.

Tanya came out of the bathroom. She looked radiant. She went in looking like an immature college student, but came out looking like true debutant. Now, I was really getting scared. I asked her, "Are you sure about this? It's not too late to bail out. I would you back you up 100%."

She said she was okay and “Let’s get on with it.” There was a knock on the door. It was Jeff, our concierge. He was to escort us down to the ballroom and make sure that Tanya was able to sneak out and get to the Russian ambassadors suite.

I had not met Jeff. There was something about him. Little bells and whistles went off in my head. I knew that I had to be extra careful with him, no matter how much Al vouched for him. When I ignored that feeling, bad things did happen.

We're all quiet on the elevator ride to the ballroom. I'm holding Tanya's hand. I give her a reassuring squeeze. She looks at me, smiles and nods her head. She looks so young, but everyone assures me she's a pro. I certainly hope so for her sake.

Jeff takes us to the ballroom. There must have been three hundred people at least. Al was right; plenty of people surround the ambassador and his son, each one vying for his attention.

As soon as Tanya enters the room, there's a hush and all heads turn to look at this ravishing beauty. The ambassador and his son hurry over to greet her and she introduces her grandparents. They shake our hands, kiss Betsy on the cheek and the soon tries to sweep Tanya off her feet, literally.

Tanya introduces him as Andreas, her friend from school. He formally bows to us and tells us how much he enjoys Tanya's company. His father hands us champagne. Before he can get away, I engage him in conversation. Nothing deep, just innocent chitchat, to get a feel for the man.

Although he may appear to be just another diplomatic stooge, I know he's not. He's a deeply planted Russian GRU agent and about as dangerous as one man can me. I was once like that and he scared me. My blood ran cold. I got that bad feeling again as he shook my hand and excused himself.

Tanya was out of site. I had no idea what to do. Betsy was of no help. I had no idea who our undercover agents were. I couldn't get in touch with Al, and I didn't know where he was.

I see Tanya rushing to us. She waves to Jeff to come over. She tells us that she told Andreas she had to get something from her room of a feminine nature, so he didn't offer to escort her. She and Jeff would not begin the attempted break in to the Russian's suite.

Betsy and I walked around for few minutes, looking for a quiet corner to sit down. It really wasn't quiet, but at least we could hear each other talk. I took out my phone, and opened the app to view Tanya's body cam and microphone.

All of a sudden, I was looking down from the balcony to the street. I felt dizzy. Betsy saw this and gently held on to my arm. I gave her a quick smile and went back to the screen.

Tanya had gotten the rope up to the Russian's balcony and started to climb up. She had less than 5 minutes to get this done. The cam showed her climb up and over onto the balcony and get the door open. She moved quietly inside and made her way to the next room where the laptop computer lay on the bed.

She found the computer was on, which saved her some time. She plugged in the flash drive and it started to do its intended job. It was over in two minutes. Tanya rushed back to the balcony and climbed down to our room. Betsy and I both let out a sigh of relief. Then all hell broke loose.

The ambassador's guards kicked open our door, violently. They shot Jeff and had their sights set on Tanya. Luckily, she had put the flash drive in a black padded bag, and she dropped it over the side of the balcony without them seeing her do it.

I grabbed Betsy and quickly walked out of the ballroom towards the front door, looking around for some help. I didn't see any. We knew we were on our own. We walked to the street. I looked up for our balcony. To be on the safe side, I had placed an infrared sticker on the railing, which I could find with an app on the phone. I had put the same sticker on the bag, just in case.

There was the balcony, with Tanya backed up against it, until the Russians grabbed her inside. I looked for the black bag. It lay a few feet away from us, in a bush. In the fall, the bag had drifted slightly to the right because of the extra weights sewn into it for stability. I grabbed, and walked quickly with Betsy and hailed a cab.

We got the meeting spot with Al about 30 minutes later. We got out of the city as quick as we could. He filled us in on what happened after we left.

The guards took Tanya to the ambassador's suite. The ambassador and his son proceeded to interrogate her. Why were you here, what did you take, what did you see.

When she didn't say anything, one of the guards slapped her across the face. She still didn't answer. Al refused to tell us the details, but suffice to say, Tanya was tortured to death by the guards. They used the limo to remove her body. He had no idea where they took her body.

We sat there in stunned silence. I quietly handed Al the black bag. I said to him that the contents of the flash drive had better be worth Tanya's life. We rode in silence for the rest of the ride. They dropped me off first and I said to Al, "Don't call me again, ever again. I'm done with this."

I went inside and did something I hadn't done for a long time. I cried over the loss of this young woman, whom I hardly knew, but felt as she was really was my granddaughter. I also opened up my bottle of Jack Daniels and did a silent toast to Tanya.

I did nothing for six months. I watched television and read some books, but still felt guilty over Tanya. Then the phone rings, only the company has that number. I didn't answer. I couldn't answer this call.

Should I prepare myself for a visit from Al? Maybe now would be a good time to travel. I of course I some fake passports and credit cards in matching names, and best of all, Al and his cronies didn't know about them, so they couldn't track me.

I called friend, asking for ride to the airport. I asked him to watch the house as he had done in the past, and reminded him not to tell anyone that he took me to the airport. All he had to say was that I called him to watch the house and would be away for a while.

Maybe running away isn't the solution, but I needed more time to mourn Tanya and heal myself. I need to go somewhere warm with umbrella drinks, maybe on a cruise.

I needed to get away. Good-bye Tanya, I'll miss you

Click here to read part one of Spies Like Us.

Click here to read part two of Spies Like Us.

Click here to read part three of Spies Like Us.



Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.

More by Matt Seinberg:
Tell a Friend

Click above to tell a friend about this article.