Chapter Five

Critz took a long pull on his pint and contemplated things. "Okay, let's say I'm able to get this information-I'm not too optimistic-but what if I get lucky? Then what?"

"Take a Lufthansa flight from Dulles to Amsterdam, first class. Check into the Amstel Hotel on Biddenham Street. We'll find you, just like we found you here."

Critz paused and committed the details to memory. "When?" he asked.

"As soon as possible, Mr. Critz. There are others looking for him."

Ben vanished as quickly as he had materialized, leaving Critz to peer through the smoke and wonder if he'd just witnessed a dream. He left the pub an hour later, with his face hidden under an umbrella, certain that he was being watched.

Would they watch him in Washington too? He had the unsettling feeling that they would.

The siesta didn't work. The wine at lunch and the two after noon beers didn't help. There was simply too much to think about.

Besides, he was too rested; there was too much sleep in his system. Six years in solitary confinement reduces the human body to such a passive state that sleep becomes a principal activity. After the first few months at Rudley, Joel was getting eight hours a night and a hard nap after lunch, which was understandable since he'd slept so little during the previous twenty years when he was holding the republic together during the day and chasing skirts till dawn. After a year he could count on nine, sometimes ten hours of sleep. There was little else to do but read and watch television. Out of boredom, he once conducted a survey, one of his many clandestine polls, by passing a sheet of paper from cell to cell while the guards were themselves napping, and of the thirty-seven respondents on his block the average was eleven hours of sleep a day. Mo, the Mafia snitch, claimed sixteen hours and could often be heard snoring at noon. Mad Cow Miller registered the lowest at just three hours, but the poor guy had lost his mind years earlier and so Joel was forced to discount his responses to the survey.

There were bouts of insomnia, long periods of staring into the darkness and thinking about the mistakes and the children and grandchildren, about the humiliation of the past and the fear of the future. And there were weeks when sleeping pills were delivered to his cell, one at a time, but they never worked. Joel always suspected they were nothing more than placebos.

But in six years there had been too much sleep. Now his body was well rested. His mind was working overtime.

He slowly got up from the bed where he'd been lying for an hour, unable to close his eyes, and walked to the small table where he picked up the cell phone Luigi had given him. He took it to the window, punched the numbers taped to its back, and after four rings he heard a familiar voice.

"Ciao, Marco. Come stai?"

"Just checking to see if this thing works," Joel said.

"You think I'd give you a defective phone?" Luigi asked. "lNo, of course not."

"How was your nap?"

"Uh, nice, very nice. I'll see you at dinner."


Where was Luigi? Lurking nearby with a phone in his pocket, just waiting for Joel to call? Watching the hotel? If Stennett and the driver were still in Treviso, along with Luigi and Ermanno, that would add up to four "friends" of some variety assigned to keep tabs on Joel Backman.

He gripped the phone and wondered who else out there knew about the call. Who else was listening? He glanced at the street below and wondered who was down there. Only Luigi?

He dismissed those thoughts and sat at the table. He wanted some coffee, maybe a double espresso to get the nerves buzzing, certainly not a cappuccino because of the late hour, but he wasn't ready to pick up the phone and place an order. He could handle the "Hello" and the "Coffee," but there would be a flood of other words he did not yet know.

How can a man survive without strong coffee? His favorite secretary had once brought forth his first cup of some jolting Turkish brew at exactly six-thirty every morning, six days a week. He'd almost married her. By ten each morning, the broker was so wired he was throwing things and yelling at subordinates and juggling three calls at once while senators were on hold.

The flashback did not please him. They seldom did. There were plenty of them, and for six years in solitary he'd waged a ferocious mental war to purge his past.

Back to the coffee, which he was afraid to order because he was afraid of the language. Joel Backman had never feared a damn thing, and if he could keep track of three hundred pieces of legislation moving through the maze of Congress, and if he could make one hundred phone calls a day while rarely looking at a Rolodex or a director}', then he could certainly learn enough Italian to order coffee. He arranged Ermanno's study materials neatly on the table and looked at the synopsis. He checked the batteries in the small tape player and fiddled with the tapes. The first page of lesson one was a rather crude color drawing of a family living room with Mom and Pop and the kids watching television. The objects were labeled in both English and Italian-door and porta, sofa and sofa, window and finestra, painting and quadro, and so on. The boy was ragazzo, the mother was madre, the old man teetering on a cane in the corner was the grandfather, or il nonno.

A few pages later was the kitchen, then the bedroom, then the bath. After an hour, still without coffee, Joel was walking softly around his room pointing and whispering the name of everything he saw: bed, letto; lamp, lampada; clock, orologio; soap, sapone. There were a few verbs thrown in for caution: to speak, parlare; to eat, mangiare; to drink, here; to think, pensare. He stood before the small mirror (specchio) in his bathroom (bagno) and tried to convince himself that he was really Marco. Marco Lazzeri. "Sono Marco, sono Marco," he repeated. I am Marco. I am Marco. Silly at first, but that must be put aside. The stakes were too high to cling to an old name that could get him killed. If being Marco would save his neck, then Marco he was.

Marco. Marco. Marco.

He began looking for words that were not in the drawings. In his new dictionary he found carta igienica for toilet paper, guanciale for pillow, soffitto for ceiling. Everything had a new name, every object in his room, in his own little world, everything he could see at that moment became something new. Over and over, as his eyes bounced from one article to another, he uttered the Italian word.

And what about himself? He had a brain, cervello. He touched a hand, mano; an arm, braccio; a leg, gamba. He had to breathe, respirare; see, vedere; touch, toccare; hear, sentire; sleep, dormire; dream, sognare. He was digressing now, and he caught himself. Tomorrow Ermanno would begin with lesson one, the first blast of vocabulary with emphasis on the basics: greetings and salutations, polite talk, numbers one through a hundred, the days of the week, the months of the year, even the alphabet. The verbs to be (essere) and to have (avere) were both conjugated in the present, simple past, and future.

When it was time for dinner, Marco had memorized all of the first lesson and had listened to the tape of it a dozen times. He stepped into the very cool night and walked happily in the general direction of Trattoria del Monte, where he knew Luigi would be waiting with a choice table and some excellent suggestions from the menu. On the street, and still reeling from several hours of rote memorization, he noticed a scooter, a bike, a dog, a set of twin girls, and he was hit hard with the reality that he knew none of those words in his new language.

All of it had been left in his hotel room.

With food waiting, though, he plowed ahead, undaunted and still confident that he, Marco, could become a somewhat respectable Italian. At a table in the corner, he greeted Luigi with a flourish. "Buona sera, signore, come sta?"

"Sto bene, grazie, e to?" Luigi said with an approving smile. Fine, thanks, and you?

"Molto bene, grazie," Marco said. Very well, thank you.

"So you've been studying?" Luigi said.

"Yes, there's nothing else to do."

Before Marco could unwrap his napkin, a waiter stopped by with a straw-covered flask of the house red. He quickly poured two glasses and then disappeared. "Ermanno is a very good teacher,'" Luigi was saying.

"You've used him before?" Marco asked casually.


"So how often do you bring in someone like me and turn him into an Italian?"

Luigi gave a smile and said, "From time to time."

"That's hard to believe."

"Believe what you want, Marco. It's all fiction."

"You talk like a spy."

A shrug, no real response.

"Who do you work for, Luigi?"

"Who do you think?"

"You're part of the alphabet-CIA, FBI, NSA. Maybe some obscure branch of military intelligence."

"Do you enjoy meeting me in these nice little restaurants?" Luigi asked.

"Do I have a choice?"

"Yes. If you keep asking these questions, then we'll stop meeting. And when we stop meeting, your life, shaky as it is, will become even more fragile."

"I thought your job was to keep me alive."

"It is. So stop asking questions about me. I assure you there are no answers."

As if he were on the payroll, the waiter appeared with perfect timing and dropped two large menus between them, effectively changing whatever course the conversation was taking. Marco frowned at the list of dishes and was once again reminded of how far his Italian had to go. At the bottom he recognized the words caffe, vino, and birra.

"What looks good?" he asked.

"The chef is from Siena, so he likes Tuscan dishes. The risotto with porcini mushrooms is great for a first course. I've had the steak florentine, outstanding."

Marco closed his menu and savored the aroma from the kitchen. Til take both."

Luigi closed his too and waved at the waiter. After he ordered, they sipped the wine for a few minutes in silence. UA few years ago," Luigi began, "I woke up one morning in a small hotel room in Istanbul. Alone, with about five hundred dollars in my pocket. And a fake passport. I didn't speak a single word of Turkish. My handler was in the city, but if I contacted him then I would be forced to find a new career. In exactly ten months I was supposed to return to the same hotel to meet a friend who would take me out of the country."

"Sounds like basic CIA training."

"Wrong part of the alphabet," he said, then paused, took a sip, and continued. "Since I enjoy eating, I learned to survive. I absorbed the language, the culture, everything around me. I managed quite nicely, blended in with the surroundings, and ten months later when I met my friend I had more than a thousand dollars."

"Italian, English, French, Spanish, Turkish-what else?"

"Russian. They dropped me in Stalingrad for a year."

Marco almost asked who "they" might be, but he let it pass. There would be no answer; besides, he thought he knew.

"So I've been dropped here?" Marco asked.

The waiter plunked down a basket of mixed breads and a small bowl of olive oil. Luigi began dipping and eating, and the question was either forgotten or ignored. More food followed, a small tray of ham and salami with olives, and the conversation lagged. Luigi was a spy, or a counterspy, or an operative, or an agent of some strain, or simply a handler or a contact, or maybe a stringer, but he was first and foremost an Italian. All the training possible could not divert his attention from the challenge at hand when the table was covered.

As he ate, he changed subjects. He explained the rigors of a proper Italian dinner. First, the anitpasti-usually a plate of mixed meats, such as they had before them. Then the first course, primi, which is usually a reasonably sized serving of pasta, rice, soup, or polenta, the purpose of which is to sort of limber up the stomach in preparation for the main course, the secondi-a hearty dish of meat, fish, pork, chicken, or lamb. Be careful with desserts, he warned ominously, glancing around to make sure the waiter wasn't listening. He shook his head sadly as he explained that many good restaurants now buy them off premises, and they're loaded with so much sugar or cheap liqueur that they practically rot your teeth out.

Marco managed to appear sufficiently shocked at this national scandal.

"Learn the word 'gelato,' " he said, his eyes glowing again.

"Ice cream," Marco said.

"Bravo. The best in the world. There's a gelateria down the street. We'll go there after dinner."

Room service terminated at midnight. At 11:55, Marco slowly picked up the phone and punched number four twice. He swallowed deeply, then held his breath. He'd been practicing the dialogue for thirty minutes.

After a few lazy rings, during which time he almost hung up twice, a sleepy voice answered and said, l'Buona sera."

Marco closed his eyes and plunged ahead. "Buona sera. Vbrrei un caffe, per favore. Un espresso doppio."

"Si, latte e zucchero?" Milk and sugar?

"No, senza latte e zucchero."

"Si, cinque minuti."

"Grazie." Marco quickly hung up before risking further dialogue, though given the enthusiasm on the other end he doubted it seriously. He jumped to his feet, pumped a fist in the air, and patted himself on the back for completing his first conversation in Italian. No hitches whatsoever. Both parties understood all of what the other said.

At 1:00 a.m., he was still sipping his double espresso, savoring it even though it was no longer warm. He was in the middle of lesson three, and with sleep not even a distant thought, he was thinking of maybe devouring the entire textbook for his first session with Ermanno.

He knocked on the apartment door ten minutes early. It was a control thing. Though he tried to resist it, he found himself impulsively reverting to his old ways. He preferred to be the one who decided when the lesson would begin. Ten minutes early or twenty minutes late, the time was not important. As he waited in the dingy hallway he flashed back to a high-level meeting he'd once hosted in his enormous conference room. It was packed with corporate executives and honchos from several federal agencies, all summoned there by the broker. Though the conference room was fifty steps down the hall from his own office, he made his entrance twenty minutes late, apologizing and explaining that he'd been on the phone with the office of the prime minister of some minor country.

Petty, petty, petty. The games he played.

Ermanno was seemingly unimpressed. He made his student wait at least five minutes before he opened the door with a timid smile and a friendly "Buon giorno, Signor Lazzeri."

"Buon giorno, Ermanno. Come stai?"

"Molto bene, grazie, e to?"

"Molto bene, grazie."

Ermanno opened the door wider, and with the sweep of a hand said, "Prego." Please come in.

Marco stepped inside and was once again struck by how sparse and temporary everything looked. He placed his books on the small table in the center of the front room and decided to keep his coat on. The temperature was about forty outside and not much warmer in this tiny apartment.

"Vorrebbe un caffe?" Ermanno asked. Would you like a coffee?

"Si, grazie." He'd slept about two hours, from four to six, then he'd showered, dressed, and ventured into the streets of Treviso, where he'd found an early bar where the old gentlemen gathered and had their espressos and all talked at once. He wanted more coffee, but what he really needed was a bite to eat. A croissant or a muffin or something of that variety, something he had not yet learned the name of. He decided he could hold off hunger until noon, when he would once again meet Luigi for another foray into Italian cuisine.

"You are a student, right?" he asked when Ermanno returned from the kitchen with two small cups.

"Non inglese, Marco, non inglese."

And that was the end of English. An abrupt end; a harsh, final farewell to the mother tongue. Ermanno sat on one side of the table, Marco on the other, and at exactly eight-thirty they, together, turned to page one of lesson one. Marco read the first dialogue in Italian, Ermanno gently made corrections, though he was quite impressed with his student his preparation. The vocabulary was thoroughly memorized, but the accent needed work. An hour later, Ermanno began pointing at various objects around the room-rug, book, magazine, chair, quilt, curtains, radio, floor, wall, backpack-and Marco responded with ease. With an improving accent, he rattled off the entire list of polite expressions-good day, how are you, fine thanks, please, see you later, goodbye, good night-and thirty others. He rattled off the days of the week and the months of the year. Lesson one was completed after only two hours and Ermanno asked if they needed a break. "No." They turned to lesson two, with another page of vocabulary that Marco had already mastered and more dialogue that he delivered quite impressively.

"You've been studying," Ermanno mumbled in English.

"Non inglese, Ermanno, non inglese," Marco corrected him. The game was on-who could show more intensity. By noon, the teacher was exhausted and ready for a break, and they were both relieved to hear the knock on the door and the voice of Luigi outside in the hallway. He entered and saw the two of them squared off across the small, littered table, as if they'd been arm wrestling for several hours.

"Come va?" Luigi asked. How's it going?

Ermanno gave him a weary look and said, "Molto intense" Very intense.

"Vbrrei pranzare," Marco announced, slowly rising to his feet. I'd like some lunch.

Marco was hoping for a nice lunch with some English thrown in to make things easier and perhaps relieve the mental strain of trying to translate every word he heard. However, after Ermanno's glowing summary of the morning session, Luigi was inspired to continue the immersion through the meal, or at least the first part of it. The menu contained not a word of English, and after Luigi explained each dish in incomprehensible Italian, Marco threw up his hands and said, "That's it. I'm not speaking or listening to Italian for the next hour."

"What about your lunch?"

"I'll eat yours." He gulped the red wine and tried to relax.

"Okay then. I suppose we can do English for one hour."

"Grazie," Marco said before he caught himself.

Midway through the morning session the following day, Marco abruptly changed direction. In the middle of a particularly tedious piece of dialogue he ditched the Italian and said, "You're not a student."

Ermanno looked up from the study guide, paused for a moment, then said, "Non inglese, Marco. Soltanto Italiano." Only Italian.

"I'm tired of Italian right now, okay? You're not a student."

Deceit was difficult for Ermanno, and he paused a bit too long. "I am," he said, without much conviction.

"No, I don't think so. You're obviously not taking classes, otherwise you wouldn't be able to spend all day teaching me."

"Maybe I have classes at night. Why does it matter?"

"You're not taking classes anywhere. There are no books here, no student newspaper, none of the usual crap that students leave lying around everywhere."

"Perhaps it's in the other room.'

"Let me see."

"Why? Why is it important?"

"Because I think you work for the same people Luigi works for."

"And what if I do?"

"I want to know who they are."

"Suppose I don't know? Why should you be concerned? Your task is to learn the language."

"How long have you lived here, in this apartment?"

"I don't have to answer your questions."

"See, I think you got here last week; that this is a safe house of some sort; that you're not really who you say you are."

"Then that would make two of us." Ermanno suddenly stood and walked through the tiny kitchen to the rear of the apartment. He returned with some papers, which he slid in front of Marco. It was a registration packet from the University of Bologna, with a mailing label listing the name of Ermanno Rosconi, at the address where they were now sitting.

"I resume classes soon," Ermanno said. "Would you like some more coffee?"

Marco was scanning the forms, comprehending just enough to get the message. "Yes, please," he said. It was just paperwork-easily faked. But if it was a forgery, it was a very good one. Ermanno disappeared into the kitchen and began running water.

Marco shoved his chair back and said, "I'm going for a walk around the block. I need to clear my head."

The routine changed at dinner. Luigi met him in front of a tobacco shop facing the Piazza dei Signori, and they strolled along a busy alley as shopkeepers were closing up. It was already dark and very cold, and smartly bundled businessmen hurried home, their heads covered with hats and scarves.

Luigi had his gloved hands buried deep in the wool pockets of his knee-length rough fabric duster, one that could've been handed down by his grandfather or purchased last week in Milan at some hideously expensive designer shop. Regardless, he wore it stylishly, and once again Marco was envious of the casual elegance of his handler.

Luigi was in no hurry and seemed to enjoy the cold. He offered a few comments in Italian, but Marco refused to play along. "English, Luigi," he said twice. "I need English."

"All right. How was your second day of class?"

"Good. Ermanno's okay. No sense of humor, but an adequate teacher."

"You're making progress?"

"How could I not make progress?"

"Ermanno tells me you have an ear for the language."

"Ermanno is a bad con man and you know it. I'm working hard because a lot depends on it. I'm drilled by him six hours a day, then I spend three hours at night cramming. Progress is inevitable/' "You work very hard,' Luigi repeated. He suddenly stopped and looked at what appeared to be a small deli. "This, Marco, is dinner."

Marco stared with disapproval. The storefront was no more than fifteen feet across. Three tables were crammed in the window and the place appeared to be packed. "Are you sure?" Marco asked.

"Yes, it's very good. Lighter food, sandwiches and stuff. You're eating by yourself. I'm not going in."

Marco looked at him and started to protest, then he caught himself and smiled as if he gladly accepted the challenge.

"The menu is on a chalkboard above the cashier, no English. Order first, pay, then pick up your food at the far end of the counter, which is not a bad to place to sit if you can get a stool. Tip is included."

Marco asked, "What's the specialty of the house?"

"The ham and artichoke pizza is delicious. So are the panini. I'll meet you over there, by the fountain, in one hour."

Marco gritted his teeth and entered the cafe, very alone. As he waited behind two young ladies he desperately searched the chalkboard for something he could pronounce. Forget taste. What was important was the ordering and paying. Fortunately, the cashier was a middle-aged lady who enjoyed smiling. Marco gave her a friendly "Buona sera," and before she could shoot something back he ordered a "panino prosciutto e formaggio"-ham and cheese sandwich-and a Coca-Cola.

Good ol' Coca-Cola. The same in any language.

The register rattled and she offered a blur of words that he did not understand. But he kept smiling and said, "Si," then handed over a twenty-euro bill, certainly enough to cover things and bring back some change. It worked. With the change was a ticket. "Numero sessantasette," she said. Number sixty-seven.

He held the ticket and moved slowly along the counter toward the kitchen. No one gawked at him, no one seemed to notice. Was he actually passing himself off as an Italian, a real local? Or was it so obvious that he was an alien that the locals didn't bother to look? He had quickly developed the habit of evaluating how other men were dressed, and he judged himself to be in the game. As Luigi had told him, the men of northern Italy were much more concerned with style and appearance than Americans. There were more jackets and tailored slacks, more sweaters and ties. Much less denim, and virtually no sweatshirts or other signs of indifference to appearance.

Luigi, or whoever had put together his wardrobe, one no doubt paid for by the American taxpayers, had done a fine job. For a man who'd worn the same prison garb for six years, Marco was quickly adjusting to things Italian.

He watched the plates of food as they popped up along the counter near the grill. After about ten minutes, a thick sandwich appeared. A server grabbed it, snatched off a ticket, and yelled, "Numero sessantasette." Marco stepped forward without a word and produced his ticket. The soft drink came next. He found a seat at a small corner table and thoroughly enjoyed the solitude of his dinner. The deli was loud and crowded, a neighborhood place where many of the customers knew each other. Their greetings involved hugs and kisses and long hellos, even longer goodbyes. Waiting in line to order caused no problems, though the Italians seemed to struggle with the basic concept of one standing behind the other. Back home there would've been sharp words from the customers and perhaps swearing from the cashier.

In a country where a three-hundred-year-old house is considered new, time has a different meaning. Food is to be enjoyed, even in a small deli with few tables. Those seated close to Joel seemed poised to take hours to digest their pizza and sandwiches. There was simply too much talking to do!

The brain-dead pace of prison life had flattened all his edges. He'd kept his sanity by reading eight books a week, but even that exercise had been for escape and not necessarily for learning. Two days of intensive memorizing, conjugating, pronouncing, and listening like he'd never listened before left him mentally exhausted.

So he absorbed the roar of Italian without trying to understand any of it. He enjoyed its rhythm and cadence and laughter. He caught a word every now and then, especially in the greetings and farewells, and considered this to be progress of some sort. Watching the families and friends made him lonely, though he refused to dwell on it. Loneliness was twenty-three hours a day in a small cell with little mail and nothing but a cheap paperback to keep him company. He'd seen loneliness; this was a day at the beach.

He tried hard to linger over his ham and cheese, but he could only stretch it so far. He reminded himself to order fries the next time because fries can be toyed with until long after they're cold, thus extending the meal far beyond what would be considered normal back home. Reluctantly, he surrendered his table. Almost an hour after he entered the cafe, he left the warmth of it and walked to the fountain where the water had been turned off so it wouldn't freeze. Luigi strolled up a few minutes later, as if he'd been loitering in the shadows, waiting. He had the nerve to suggest a gelato, an ice cream, but Marco was already shivering. They walked to the hotel and said good night.

Luigi his field supervisor had diplomatic cover at the US. consulate in Milan. His name was Whitaker, and Backman was the least of his priorities. Backman was not involved in intelligence, or counterintelligence, and Whitaker had a full load in those arenas without having to worry about an ex-Washington power broker who'd been stashed away in Italy. But he dutifully prepared his daily summaries and sent them to Langley. There they were received and reviewed by Julia Javier, the veteran with access to Mr. Maynard himself. It was because of Ms. Javier's watchful eye that Whitaker was so diligent in Milan. Otherwise, the daily summaries may not have been so prompt.

Teddy wanted a briefing.

Ms. Javier was summoned to his office on the seventh floor, to the "Teddy Wing," as it was known throughout Langley. She entered his "station," as he preferred it to be called, and once again found him parked at the end of a long wide conference table, sitting high in his jacked-up wheelchair, bundled in blankets from the chest down, wearing his standard black suit, peering over stacks of summaries, with Hoby hovering nearby ready to fetch another cup of the wretched green tea that Teddy was convinced was keeping him alive.

He was barely alive, but then Julia Javier had been thinking that for years now.

Since she didn't drink coffee and wouldn't touch the tea, nothing was offered. She took her customary seat to his right, sort of the witness chair that all visitors were expected to take-his right ear caught much more than his left-and he managed a very tired "Hello, Julia.'

Hoby, as always, sat across from her and prepared to take notes. Every sound in the "station" was being captured by some of the most sophisticated recording devices modern technology had created, but Hoby nonetheless went through the charade of writing it all down.

"Brief me on Backman," Teddy said. A verbal report such as this was expected to be concise, to the point, with not a single unnecessary word thrown in.

Julia looked at her notes, cleared her throat, and began speaking for the hidden recorders. "He's in place in Treviso, a nice little town in northern Italy. Been there for three full days, seems to be making the adjustment quite well. Our agent is in complete contact, and the language tutor is a local who's doing a nice job. Backman has no money and no passport, and so far has been quite willing to stick close to the agent. He has not used the phone in his hotel room, nor has he tried to use his cell phone for anything other than to call our agent. He has shown no desire to explore or to wander about. Evidently, the habits learned in prison are hard to break. Pie's staying close to his hotel. When he's not being tutored or eating, he stays in his room and studies Italian."

"How is his language?"

"Not bad. He's fifty-two years old, so it wont be quick."

"I learned Arabic when I was sixty," Teddy said proudly, as if sixty was a century ago.

"Yes, I know," she said. Everyone at Langley knew it. "He is studying extremely hard and making progress, but it's only been three days. The tutor is impressed."

"What does he talk about?"

"Not the past, not old friends and old enemies. Nothing that would interest us. He's closed that off, for now anyway. Idle conversation tends to be about his new home, the culture and language."

"His mood?"

"He just walked out of prison fourteen years early and he's having long meals and good wine. He's quite happy. Doesn't appear to be homesick, but of course he doesn't really have a home. Never talks about his family."

"His health?"

"Seems fine. The cough is gone. Appears to be sleeping. No complaints."

"How much does he drink?"

"He's careful. Enjoys wine at lunch and dinner and a beer in a nearby bar, but nothing excessive.'' "Lets try and crank up the boo2e, okay? See if hell talk more."

"That's our plan."

"How secure is he?"

"Everything's bugged-phones, room, language lessons, lunches, dinners. Even his shoes have mikes. Both pairs. His overcoat has a Peak 30 sewn into the lining. We can track him virtually anywhere."

"So you can't lose him?"

"He's a lawyer, not a spy. As of now, he seems very content to enjoy his freedom and do what he's told."

"He's not stupid, though. Remember that, Julia. Backman knows there are some very nasty people who would love to find him."

"True, but right now he's like a toddler clinging to his mother."

"So he feels safe?"

"Under the circumstances, yes."

"Then let's give him a scare."


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