to have me killed.
country. On my soil.
I felt it.
I had a full
shudder that I intuitively knew occurred the very moment he ordered my death an
It must have
a novelty for him to sign an execution order for an American; a break from his
late hour routine of
ferociously signing those for his countrymen; even his truest believers;
pausing only to take a swig from a vodka bottle and making sure some enemy had
not snuck in and emptied his pistol of bullets.
It could have
resulted from a careless comment I made to another agent questioning the wisdom
of Stalin executing his military high command.
In my subconscious
I think I was being deliberate. That I
really wanted out. Bad. And that
was the first of several fatal
like to say I
came out of the shadow world of what we did in Stalin’s name because of
patriotism; because I wanted to write the wrongs of how I betrayed my country
for over a decade.
But in the
hours of the night, when every creak of every board in that rented Long Island
beach house had me sliding my hand under the pillow for my pistol, I couldn’t
fool myself with such lofty reasons.
I simply wanted
save my skin.
boys who gave us top secret governments were the only ones untouchable. But
we who had them microfilmed and sent to
the Soviet Union weren’t.
Within 8 months,
three in my original cell had “disappeared.”
I know for a fact that two of them were en route to their midnight meeting
with Karkov on that DC park bench when they went missing.
piece together what happened. We heard
the rumors. The absence of their corpses
meant they were kidnapped onto a ship bound for Russia where they would soon be
screaming and begging their captors to tell them what they wanted them to say
to make the pain stop in basements where stood beefy men in undershirts holding
knew only as “Julian,” codenamed “The Poet,” was the victim of a nighttime
hit-and-run. No witnesses.
Conclusion: Stalin’s paranoia was not satisfied by
Russian blood. He needed fresh foreign
blood and he was reaching across the ocean to get it.
and intended to re-emerge publicly. I
stopped meeting Karkov and as “David Gregory,” codenamed “Writer,” forever left
my Washington DC apartment with the radio transmitter and the code book
underneath a loose floorboard.
I needed to
“known.” I wanted to have a lot of light
on me to discourage Stalin from having me suspiciously killed. If he did, at
least there would be questions
asked. Leads followed.
journalist friend from Columbia University days who knew what I was but
hopefully didn’t know the sickening things I did, I let Congress know
I would appear in open session and expose communist moles in the State
Department in exchange for immunity from prosecution and a new identity.
That was why
now on the DC streets on foot and en route to testify on a cool Spring day.
That was when
He was dressed
a hep-cat. Shirt open at the neck,
pointed collar. Dingy double-breasted
suit. Unfashionably long hair in that
year of our Lord 1938 that almost reached his collar.
The last person
you would think of as a Communist assassin.
But he himself
followed. I may have a friend.
FBI to the core. Sedate dark-colored
suit. Shoes shined to another dimension;
things all demanded by J. Edgar of his agents.
That was why we were able to get away with what we did. Because the FBI
was too busy shining their
shoes to notice what we were funneling to Stalin.
store window, and briefly glanced at Hep Cat.
He stared at me and then nodded to someone ahead of me.
carrying an umbrella even though it was a clear spring day in DC.
poison tip on it and its owner would casually tap me on the leg with it as he
passed by me… And when I fell to the
ground in a seizure, he would bend down
and yell for a “doctor.” Even if a
doctor was within shouting range, I would be dead in seconds.
I had misjudged
Stalin. He didn’t care how it looked
that I had a heart attack—I’m sure the poison was untraceable—on the way to
kill me no
matter where I was. He would just as
readily do it at high noon in Washington on a busy street as he would in a dark
away from the Umbrella Man and hailed a
taxi to take me back to the hotel room paid for by Congress.
Then I would
away, using the tricks Moscow taught me.
As we drove
I looked out the back windshield of the taxi and didn’t see Umbrella Man or Hepcat
or even the FBI guy.
I gave the
a generous tip when we arrived at the hotel.
Cat or Umbrella Man hiding behind a newspaper in the lobby.
took the stairs to my room.
I went in,
the room, looked in the bathroom shower stall, and got my suitcase out and
I took the
out of it, opened it and bullets spilled out onto the carpeted floor.
When I reached
down to retrieve them I happened to look under my bed.
Hep Cat and
FBI guy were under it.