Friday, December 28th, and Saturday, December 29th, 2018.
As soon as they were out on the street, Fedoruk continued to reminisce. "That wine reminded me of the Saturday evening I visited you in Georgetown, John."
"April 6th, 2008," Robinson said. "A Sunday, actually. Eleven years, and counting!" Robinson knew that these trivial corrections sometimes inspired murderous impulses. But Fedoruk's face was a mask; he was a professional.
On this mild, late-Friday evening in the middle of the winter holiday season, the streets of central Yerevan were full of revelers. But Robinson, who was normally asleep in his flat by now, was surprised by how few rowdies there seemed to be, and by how relatively subdued they were. This was probably thanks, at least in part, to the police cars, black-and-whites with flashing blue lights, idling on many corners. Although loud music flew from the open doors of the bars and clubs, the decibel level was far lower than, say, Times Square. Pairs of women shoppers strolled arm-in-arm, and there were even a few parents wheeling strollers or carriages. On some of the litter-free plazas stood huge flat-screen TV's with the sound turned down. By New York standards, traffic, too, was light.
"A lot of water under the bridge since 2008, eh, John? Even since 2013, in South Africa. You have a family now."
"And you have gray hair, Diodur." The reason Robinson did not ask if Fedoruk had a family was that he assumed he did not, or if he did, that he preferred to keep it to himself.
A few blocks from the flat, the host led his guest into a dark, quiet bar, and ordered two Czech beers, which were served in pint mugs. Putting some money on the bar, he steered Fedoruk to a small vacant table in a back corner. In the opposite corner, several band instruments stood idle, the musicians presumably on their break.
Fedoruk sniffed his beer. "Staropramen, no less! Wonderful, John! Yes, there was been some 'water under the bridge' since Georgetown, and even since Cape Town, in 2013. I was sorry I missed your wedding, which was almost exactly six years ago, wasn't it?" He raised his glass. "Happy anniversary, my friend! Za zda-ró-vye." They clinked glasses.
"L'chaim, Diodur. Actually, I like Kozel even more, but you can't get it here. Even Staropramen is a newcomer. Yes, the wedding was on December 18th, 2013, in Bamako, Mali. You sent congrats from Chisinau. If I may quote your typically acerbic message: "Back in Moldova, John, of all places. Something brewing here (not coffee). Warmest congrats to you and yr. lovely bride. If you think of it, please raise a glass to poor DF, hard at work in this shithole, while you, I'm sure, are hard at play (and at work) in your own shithole -- desert oasis, I mean!"
"I'm once again amazed, John. But how...?"
"Drink up before the band starts to play again." They both took deep draughts. "I have a trick, Diodur: I never delete important emails. I'm not sure why I kept that one, but a couple of days ago, I re-read it, along with a batch of others -- probably something in the air, at this time of acute global crisis."
Then, remembering the news items he had also read in 2013, Robinson decided to test Fedoruk, in order to get a better idea of the purpose of the current visit. "How did things turn out in Moldova and Transnistria that time, Diodur? Did Geistmann finish the job? Did he kill Petru Donduceni?"
"Of course, he did. In the same warehouse where he killed the brother fourteen years before. I assume you also read about the 'jailbreak'?"
"Yes, and about Geistmann's 'death' Which I imagine was another brain child of Scott Peters'."
"Correct." Fedoruk drank again. "But, by now, all that is ancient history, just bridge water. Getting back to the present ..."
"Yes. What has Geistmann done that the group has decided -- yet again -- to terminate him?"
"Only some of the group, John. The ones I call the 'Scott faction.'"
"Let me guess, Diodur. You're in the opposition, which I bet you call the 'Fred faction.' And Mauro's in that one, too. And my namesake, Wes Robinson? Which one is he in?"
"Still with Scott, I think. Wes was always a company man."
"Then, you're here to test me, Diodur. That seems to be a frequent role for you. Let me guess something else. This is all somehow related to that non-death-by-garbage."
"Correct. To what Judy referred to as the 'POS.' Do you want to keep guessing, John?"
"Sure.This time, G-man really meant to kill the POS, but he failed."
"Correct, here's the story." Fedoruk re-wet his whistle before continuing.
"Better make it the short form, Diodur. Remember? the band?" He gestured to the instruments in the other corner.
"You're the boss, John. Basically, what happened was that, about a year-and-a-half ago, Geistmann went back to D.C. He somehow got hold of the uniform of a parking garage attendant. When POTUS was dropped off for a meeting in Georgetown, and the driver, a Secret Serice man, put the limo in a garage and dozed off at the wheel, Geistmann slipped into the garage and attached a bomb -- plastique, I heard -- to the underbody of the car."
"Let me guess why that didn't work! Before POTUS returned, they checked the car with an inspection mirror, and disabled the bomb."
"How did you ..."
"I was extrapolating from Shenandoah. Remember?"
"Of course." Fedoruk looked thoughtful. "Hmm, I thought Geistmann never repeated himself."
"Who knows? Maybe he forgot. Anyway, he should probably have used a drone."
"Except people like the POS have become absolutely drone-proof. But I don't know any more details, John, so don't ask."
Robinson glanced toward the bar to see if the band was on its way back yet. There was still no sign of them. He assumed they were smokers, and were outside on their break. This must be a polite band, since smoking was still permitted in Yerevan's bars and restaurants. The establishments that attracted tourists would designate "No Smoking" sections, which often amounted to three banquettes in a small, open room.
He resumed his probe about the purpose of Fedoruk's visit. "So now the company men -- Scott, Wes, and 250 Republican members of the U.S. Congress -- are all engaged in POS's act of rigthteous retribution. Maybe they're the ones who sent you here to enlist me. But if so, you're playing your usual double game, by also playing for Fred's side. Have I got all that straight, Diodur?"
"No comment, John, you're just guessing. But I will say that Geistmann's other targets have included several of the POS's dictator cronies, who are also hard to get at. Actually, POS has helped save the bacon of five or six of them. G. may even have been the guy who tried, last year, to take out the odious Russian klepto-judo-meister. But it would be hard to say if that particular would-be assassin was him. With bastards like the Russian, you have to get in line."
"So what do you really want from me, Diodur?" Robinson had not missed his interlocutor's use of the word, "actually," which, in Fedoruk's case, could be a marker for either obfuscation or lies. He also noted that "actually" was not in Geistmann's lexicon. The psychopath, he recalled, was allergic to such weasel words.
Fedoruk's reply was prompt. "Find out enough for us to be able to send Geistmann a secure warning."
"That sounds simple, doesn't it? But it won't be. Because I assume that, to stay hidden from those who want to kill him, Geistmann must also stay hidden from those who want to help him."
"Which is it for you, John? Do you want to help Scott and his masters kill Geistmann, or do you want to help Fred, Mauro, and Diodur protect him? Oh, I should tell you that Fred is no longer with the BAU. In 2014, he was promoted to VICAP Director."
Robinson did not offer a direct answer. Instead, he said, "Good for him, he deserves it." He thought for a moment. "Hawaii might be as good a place as any to start. Possibly, Geistmann is over there, surfing on one of the islands. Not Oahu, though -- too obvious."
"That reminds me, John," said Fedoruk. He tore a sheet from a small notebook, and scribbled on it with a small pencil that looked as if it might have been been stolen from a library or golf course. "Do bring Judy and the kids over to my hotel tomorrow morning. This is the address. The pool is really nice." He winked. "Although the food ..." He made a "so-so" hand gesture. "If I were you, John, I'd eat breakfast first. I plan to run out to a cafe, myself, and grab a coffee and a brioche."
At that point, the musicians -- five of them -- finally shuffled back through the bar to their corner, and began tuning up. Draining their glasses, Robinson and Fedoruk quickly left. Outside, they hugged, then stood on the sidewalk, both looking up at the sky.
"Well?" asked Fedoruk.
"I'll work on it," Robinson replied. "And, Judy willing, we'll see you at poolside tomorrow morning. Shall we say, eleven?"
With a small bow, Fedoruk strode off in the opposite direction from the Robinson flat.
If readers are interested in reading Geistmann, it is available as a free PDF from the author. Please visit www.ronsinger.net for contact information.
And Geistmann in Africa (Geistman II):