Moscow, USSR—Intourist Hotel
A Soviet man in his early forties sat in the hotel lobby, smoking his cigarette. He placed the cigarette in the ashtray as he folded his newspaper so that he could read the news article in which he was only slightly interested. He picked up his cigarette, taking another drag and taking a glance at the person he was following. He crossed his legs, his right ankle resting on his left knee. He positioned his folded newspaper so that it looked like he was reading the article while he studied the true object of his attention; a man was standing at the front desk.
Valesky impatiently looked at his watch while he waited for the desk clerk to retrieve the key for the room he always kept rented out. Rented was perhaps the wrong word. He had an arrangement with the hotel manager to keep the room vacant for him. In turn, Valesky allowed the Intourist to operate without government interference. Everyone was happy with the arrangement. Valesky drummed his fingers hoping it would speed up the clerk. When the clerk gave him the key to room 213, Valesky turned for the elevator. He began to whistle a tune. No one could identify the tune; as Valesky’s whistling was so awful, the song was virtually unrecognizable. He depressed the button, calling the elevator. He scanned the lobby, taking note of its occupants. He then looked at his watch just as the elevator arrived.
The man, a KGB agent, watched Valesky enter the elevator and the doors close. He noted the time and at which floor the elevator stopped—the second floor. He shook his head when he thought how wreckless Valesky was with his weekly meetings at the Intourist. It was as if Valesky felt untouchable. It was true that Valesky was Baranov’s enforcer, but no one is safe. There was always someone who wanted to take your place. Valesky was getting too comfortable at the top. The KGB agent wondered how much longer Valesky would survive. Would the agent’s instruction someday be to kill Valesky? He smiled when he thought how that would improve his position within the KGB.
Ten minutes later, Natasha Kirakov entered the lobby. She rushed to the elevator. Her abrupt movement caught the eye of the Soviet spy, who was now taking the last drag of his cigarette. Natasha didn’t bother to scan the lobby. She impatiently beat the elevator call button multiple times. Natasha’s appetite for hot chocolate had not waned. Over many weeks, Valesky’s invitation to his room at the hotel had tempted Natasha until she finally submitted. They moved the meeting for the silky smooth chocolate to room 213. Valesky played the perfect gentlemen, making Natasha trust him. While she was not in love with Valesky, her appetite for more than the soothing liquid grew. She had not been with a man intimately since her late husband. Valesky’s advances reminded her of what she was missing. He eventually wore her down. Now, a month after their first meeting in the market, Natasha looked forward to satisfying her lust with the weekly romps. It was ninety minutes of freedom—a gift she gave herself. She never thought that there might be demands made of her. She enjoyed the attention, the lustiness of their consummations, and the occasional gifts that Valesky lauded on her. She felt whole again in that hour and a half every week.
The doors to the elevator opened, and the spy noted the time. He was not surprised to see the elevator stop at the second floor. He already wrote down which floor it had stopped on before it reached its destination. He refolded his newspaper, retrieved another cigarette and would wait for the meeting to end—he checked his watch—ninety minutes from now. He yawned. The hardest part was the waiting. He scanned the lobby. After a few minutes, he stood to stretch his legs with a short walk around the lobby. He peeked into the restaurant. Nothing looked suspicious, and nothing was out of place. He returned to his chair and picked up a magazine someone had left behind. He flipped through it. He smoked another cigarette. Like clockwork, Natasha hurriedly exited the elevator and rushed out the front door of the hotel ninety minutes later. The object of Valesky’s lust would be tailed by another KGB who had been assigned to her after it had become clear these meetings were a weekly occurrence. The KGB’s interest in Natasha only confirmed that Valesky was using her to acquire information on the British ambassador and his girlfriend.
Ten minutes later, Valesky emerged from the elevator. He walked to the desk, placed the key on the counter, and he turned to leave the hotel. Valesky took no note of the man smoking the cigarette and reading a magazine in the chair. Valesky looked at his watch and quickened his steps as he mumbled to himself that he was late for a meeting back at the Kremlin. The spy in the lobby waited until Valesky was out the door before he stood and quickly followed Valesky back to the Kremlin. He and the other agent tailing Natasha would report their findings to their supervisor, who would also be attending the meeting Valesky was rushing to attend.