“Just answer the question.”

“The Abwehramt, obviously. What’s with all these questions?”

Everything Brano had done in this bathroom had been automatic, as if he were being controlled from somewhere else. Now he tried to think. The Abwehramt was Austrian foreign intelligence. He was the Vienna rezident, who controlled his country’s intelligence operations in Vienna. And he had killed a man named Bertrand Richter.

“Why do you want me?”

“Because we were told to get you.”

“Why were you told to get me?”

The Austrian finally let go of his groin and uncovered his nose. It was beginning to swell. “You’ve been in this business long enough to know that we just do what we’re told, and we seldom know why.”

“Come here,” Brano said as he walked to one of the stalls. He opened the door. “Come on. Inside.”

He stepped back as the Austrian entered the stall and turned around.

“Face the wall.”

“Christ, Brano. There’s no need to shoot me.”

Brano swung the pistol into the back of the Austrian’s neck and watched him crumple onto the toilet.

At the gate, he wondered when the man in the stall would wake up, rush out to his colleague or call airport security, and come to take him away. But over the next twenty minutes no one came, and as he paced he thought about the name the Austrian had told him-Kristina Urban. The name, for some reason, made him think of flight. He tried to work through the details-a dead man, a woman’s phone number, a hotel, a man named Josef Lochert. Brano was a spy, the Vienna rezident, and the Abwehramt were after him.

He thanked the stewardess who stamped his ticket, then boarded the crowded plane.

His seat was next to a young Austrian-twenty, maybe-who lit a cigarette as soon as he sat down and refused to buckle his belt. “They make me feel trapped,” he said in a whisper.

Brano nodded, but at that moment he remembered why the name Kristina Urban evoked flight. Last month, the Abwehramt had tossed her from a high window of the Hotel Inter-Continental.

“Feeling trapped makes me anxious,” the young Austrian told him.

“Me, too.”

“You should try hashish. Settle you down.”

Brano was no longer listening. The dizziness came back, and he leaned forward, settling his head against the next seat.

“You all right?” said his companion.

The stabilizing pressure of takeoff eased his sickness, and when the wheels left the ground he remembered more.

It had begun at home, in the Capital, in the office of a very old friend, Laszlo Cerny, a man with a thick, unkempt mustache, a colonel in the Ministry for State Security. GAVRILO was the subject of a file open in front of him, and now, on the plane, he remembered its contents. On 6 May, in Vienna’s Stadtpark, a routine money exchange had been stopped by Viennese intelligence before the exchangers could even meet. Then, on 18 June, an apartment used to radio messages across the Iron Curtain had been raided. Three people had been caught-among them Kristina Urban, the Vienna rezident. Two weeks later, she was thrown out the hotel window.

Brano closed his eyes as they gained altitude.

He arrived in Vienna just last month to replace Kristina Urban and to uncover the leak that the Ministry had code-named GAVRILO. Before setting up in the cultural attache office of the embassy on Ebendorferstraae, he had specialists go over the building again. Seven electronic bugs were found, so Brano, to the dismay of the head of embassy security, Major Nikolai Romek, decided to work out of the Hotel Kaiserin Elisabeth rather than risk more security leaks. From there, he visited three suspect operatives and fed each one false information. Theodore Kraus believed that two men would meet and exchange codebooks inside the Ruprechtskirche on 14 July, Ingrid Petritsch believed that Erich Glasser, an employee of Austrian intelligence, would deliver classified files to a Czech agent in the Hotel Terminus on 28 July. And Bertrand Richter was told that a shipment of automatic rifles would be smuggled from Austria into Hungary near Szom-bathely on the evening of 8 August in a West German truck.

Bertrand Richter.

He could see the man now. Short, with dark features, a foolish smile; a drunk. But a wonderful drunk. Worth all the schillings poured into his account, because in social situations information flowed around him effortlessly. So for two years the Ministry on Yalta Boulevard had used this excitable dandy, and in exchange gave him the means to remain in that social circle he most loved.

But on the night of 8 August, that arrangement ended when Josef Lochert-yes, Lochert was his assistant from the embassy-waited at the Hungarian border with binoculars and watched the Austrian police stop and search each truck with West German plates. Lochert reported to him with a smile: We’ve found GAVRILO.

Which was why Bertrand Richter was dead.

“This is my first trip east.”

Brano looked at the young Austrian. “What?”

“My first time,” he said. “You study the Revolution from books, you read your Marx and your Lenin, but there’s nothing like seeing a people’s republic firsthand. That’s what the leader of my discussion group says.”

“Don’t get your hopes up,” said Brano, because now he could remember his home as well.

He unbuckled his belt and, holding the backs of seats to maintain his balance, began walking to the bathroom at the front of the plane. He watched passengers flipping through magazines and newspapers to see if any turned to look at him. Though none did, he didn’t trust that that meant he was alone. The more he remembered, the more he was sure that someone on this plane would want to stop him from wreaking any more destruction on the world.

He had reported the identity of GAVRILO with a coded telegram sent from the embassy and received the coded reply later that same day, from the office of his old friend Colonel Cerny.

The bathroom door was locked, so he waited at the head of the plane, watching faces. It had been his responsibility, he remembered, to make the arrangements for GAVRILO ’s death.

Bertrand Richter was holding a party, ostensibly for the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, on 14 August, yesterday-in fact, Bertrand hardly needed an excuse to host a party, but as an atheist he enjoyed the irony. Perhaps to extend this irony, he had invited Brano. From a pay phone, Brano called at nine-thirty and told Bertrand he could not make the party because of an emergency. As suspected, Bertrand wanted to know the details. Come down here and I’ll show you, Brano told him. It’ll just take twenty minutes. Tell your guests you’re getting more food, but don’t bring anyone.


The Volksgarten. Temple of Theseus.

Is this about the fourteenth of May?

Brano didn’t know what he was talking about. What about the fourteenth of May?

Josef Lochert, standing beside him, waved a hand for Brano to hurry up.

Nothing, said Bertrand. I’ll be right over.

The bathroom door opened and an old woman came out, smiled at him, and made her way back down the aisle. Brano locked the door behind himself and used toilet paper to wipe his face dry. He had worked for the Ministry twenty-two years; he was unmarried. Discovering his life as if for the first time, it seemed the life of a lonely man. But a man of no small importance-a major in the Ministry for State Security, located on Yalta Boulevard, number 36. Colonel Cerny, he also remembered, was his immediate superior, and he’d known him over two decades. He’d even helped this man, seven years ago, to deal with the suicide of his wife, Irina-a hotheaded Ukrainian whose photo remained on Cerny’s desk to this day.

As someone tried the door, he sat on the toilet, holding on to the sink and breathing heavily.

Last night, at the Temple of Theseus in the Volksgarten, he and Josef Lochert had waited forty minutes, and when Brano returned to the pay phone and called again, there was no answer. So Brano went to Bertrand Richter’s house in order to draw him out personally.

The smoky apartment was full of revelers in various states of drunkenness who never noticed the phone was off the hook. Someone had pulled out an acoustic guitar. He couldn’t find Bertrand-no one seemed to know where he was, nor did they care-and then he asked the tall, pretty woman whose dark eyes had followed him around the

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