~31~

With the sinister Wall still dividing Germany, disarmament talks were a waste of time. Still, public sentiment demanded the attempt now and then, which was how several of the top officials of NATO intelligence happened to be together in a hotel on neutral territory, waiting for an elevator. No sooner had Chief Twitterswell pushed the button than another man came into view from around a corner.

“What are you doing here, Polar Bear?” Colonel Schulz asked, unfriendly.

“We have some confidential information about one of your best agents,” the KGB agent said with a chilling smile. “Something you will be very interested to learn.”

That got their attention. “You’ve been trying to blackmail one of our men, haven’t you?” the Chief demanded. “And he didn’t give in to your demands, and now you’re going to destroy his reputation.”

"Very good, Twitterswell. We warned Iron Klaus about what would happen if he did not cooperate. He did not heed us, and now I am here to make good on our threats. Let this be a warning to other recalcitrant agents!"

The West Germans exchanged guardedly worried looks. "What threat? What are you going to do?" the Secretary asked.

The Russian’s smile widened. "I am going to ruin him. And here is the proof!" He held up a manila envelope.

The Chief was sweating now. If his subordinate went down, he might take Twitterswell with him. "The proof of what?!?"

Slowly, with showmanship better suited to capitalist endeavours, the Russian opened the envelope and slid out several 8x10 glossy photographs. “The proof of the truth about Iron Klaus. Iron Klaus and the art thief Eroica!” He held them out in triumph. “Look at this! They are lovers!”

The West Germans looked at the pictures. They looked at each other.

“You don’t say,” the Colonel said.

The Chief drew a breath. “I don’t believe I’ll ever get over the shock.”

The Secretary began, “I would never have imagined…” but could not restrain the snickers any longer. Then they were all snickering, and it was only a few more seconds before they were all three laughing so hard they could barely stand up.

“Mein Gott! Did you actually think this was news?” the Chief gasped, his corpulent face red.

“You were going to blackmail him! With this!” The Colonel had to lean against the wall for support.

The Secretary was laughing too hard to speak at all.

The elevator doors opened, but the Germans were in no shape to enter it. The Russian, who had been staring at the three as if they were madmen, at last gathered his wits and beat a hasty retreat into it.

“Decadent Westerners,” he grumbled. He was sure he could hear their laughter all the way down to the ground floor.

 

 

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