"But if anything goes wrong, Ill be held responsible. Youve got my brother in jail and hell be punished. What justice is that?" Biermeier smiled, came over to him and put an arm around his shoulder. "Go, Rosenharte. See what the woman has to say. We believe theres much she can tell us."
He paused. "Look, whats the problem? You give her dinner, win her affections as only you know how, and bring her back to us. Take her to bed, Rosenharte. Make her yours again." Rosenharte let out a bitter laugh, momentarily recalling the "love tutorials of the Stasi spy school. "Make her yours again! Youre still living in the fifties, Colonel."
"You know what I mean. You were one of us before the Firm decided your talents lay elsewhere. You did this for a living. You, above anyone, know what to do with this woman. I dont have to remind you that you have an obligation to the state equal to that of a serving officer." Rosenharte lit a Marlboro and inwardly grimaced. He hated the way the Stasi called themselves the Firm in imitation of the way the CIA used the word Company. "Then youll keep to our agreement and allow my brother Konrad and his family to go free if I meet her?" Biermeier didnt respond.
"You will release them?" Rosenharte persisted.
The colonel turned and permitted himself a nod a deniable nod.
"Thats a yes?"
Biermeier closed his eyes and nodded again. "I dont want your people following me. Pier Four is deserted and very exposed. I went there earlier. Shell spot anyone on my tail."
"Thats doubtless why she chose it. No, we wont follow you. Were relying on you to bring her to us. Its all on your shoulders." There was a gentle knock at the door. Biermeier opened it to a young officer carrying a plastic bag. "This is Schaub. He will show you how to operate the listening device. Weve got better equipment since you were in the service. Youll be impressed how small it is."
Rosenharte sat down on the bed heavily. "You expect me to seduce this woman wired up to Normannenstrasse?"
"Ill be the only one listening. Anyway, when it comes to that part of the evening you go to the bathroom and take it off. Its the conversation before that interests me, not your lovemaking, Rosenharte."
Schaub tested the microphone and transmitter, then Rosenharte removed his shirt and submitted with mild protests as Schaub toweled the perspiration from his skin and taped the equipment to his chest and back.
"Some part of you must feel pride," Biermeier told him. "After all, youre going back into harness for the state."
"Nothing could be further from the truth, said Rosenharte. "I was never any good at this kind of work."
The colonel exhaled impatiently. "Ah well, of course now you count yourself a member of the intelligentsia. You speak fancily and affect an air of superiority, but remember, I know the man behind the facade. I read your file. What was it one of your many girlfriends said? A clever, selfish bastard."
Schaub smirked then got up and left.
"You mean she didnt mention my lovable sense of humour?" said Rosenharte. "My skills as a cook, my steadfastness, my sobriety, my modesty . . ."
Biermeier shook his head disdainfully.
"Well," said Rosenharte, "at least Im a clever bastard who knows himself. How many of us can say that, Colonel?"
Biermeier shook his head and sat down.
"Id like a shower before I meet her." God, he was talking as if she was actually going to be there.
Excerpted from The Brandenberg Gate, (c) 2006 Henry Porter. Reproduced with permission of Grove Atlantic. All rights reserved.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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