Hapuna Beach, Hawaii, Tuesday, February 12th, 2019.
The next morning, while the family was eating breakfast in their rented cottage, the cheerful doorbell sounded. Since Judy was in the midst of a cereal negotiation with Amy, Robinson went to the door.
"Jehovah's Witnesses," replied a modulated male voice.
Opening the door, Robinson saw a medium-tall, slender, suited, book-bearing gentleman wearing running shoes. When he unlocked the outer, screen door, before he could object that it was not Sunday, or that Witnesses normally came in pairs, the stranger opened his book, which Robinson assumed was a Bible, and thrust it toward him. When Robinson saw a garish pornographic image, he instantly understood which way the wind was blowing.
"Monsieur Amrouche!" he said. "Come in."
"John," Geistmann replied, offering his hand. "But, please, call me 'Hunu.' When in Hawaii ... "
"Who knew?" Robinson replied, ushering his guest toward the breakfast room, which looked out on the beach.
"Hello, Mrs. Robinson," Geistmann said, striding to the table, and offering his hand to Judy, who stood up to take it. "My name is Hunu. And hello to your lovely children." George and Amy gaped, revealing mouths full of cold cereal and milk.
"John has told me all about you, Mr. Geist ... " Judy said, with a wary smile.
" 'Hunu,' please. Just the good things, I hope," replied the suave guest.
Robinson marveled at Geistmann's impeccable pretend-manners. Every time the man assumed this friendly, non-threatening tone, Robinson realized, he felt more threatened. His mind jumped back to 2013, to the street in Cape Flats where, in a flash, Geistmann had dismembered the Nigerian gangster Onijekuje's four giant bodyguards. That memory triggered the stark warning Pablo Markowitz had offered, in a 2008 email: "If you happen to run into him, bear in mind that, whatever he says, AT LEAST PART OF HIM WILL WANT TO MAIM OR KILL YOU." Presumably, this was still true; psychopaths do not change their spots.
Nor do telepaths. For, still standing next to Judy, before he could be invited to join the family at the table, Geistmann looked Robinson in the eye, and said, "And how is everyone, John, including the excellent Pablo Mark-My- Words?"
"No idea, Mr. Hunu. You probably know better than I do. But, please." He gestured to an empty chair. "Have you had breakfast yet? Some coffee?" Geistmann sat.
"Just a glass of cold water, John, if I may." Robinson poured it from the pitcher they kept on the table. "Ah," said Geistmann, drinking deep, "my favorite beverage." And he proceeded to initiate more small talk, the usual stuff, but with one peculiarity: he never addressed, or made eye contact with, either of the children.
After breakfast, at Robinson's suggestion, they all decamped for the beach. It was another lovely day; the Trade Winds were holding. As they trudged across the sand, Geistmann, who carried the beach umbrella beneath his right arm, like a lance, and his sturdy canvas gym bag, strapped across his left shoulder, continued making his strange brand of small talk: "People say this is Paradise, and so it is. Except for the rare occasions when the winds shift to the southwest, bringing in the Kona weather, breezy sunshine is the norm here."
Even that banal observation, Robinson thought, had the peculiar edge he recognized as Geistmann's affectation of normal speech. But then, the speech turned more obviously peculiar. "I'd really hate to live here!" Geistmann sneered. "Hawaii has no climate, only weather." Robinson had long since realized it was better not to ask for clarification of the psychopath's more cryptic utterances.
When the blanket had been spread, and the sun block applied, the children started playing in the sand next to the blanket, and near each other -- parallel play. At Judy's suggestion, the men walked off together, heading north on the hard-packed ocean verge, toward the new hotels and condominiums just beyond the boundary of the State Park. Again, Geistmann's gym bag was slung over his left shoulder. Before they had gone far, he re-initiated conversation. As usual, Robinson tried to read between the lines.
"Well, John," said Geistmann, who was now wearing only his dark blue, lightweight suit pants and an untucked short-sleeved white shirt, but with the same technicolor running shoes "E kati jo."
Robinson understood that the meaning of the Nigerian greeting was, "Long time, no see," and assumed this was Geistmann's way of resuming the narrative from the time of their work together six years before. "O," he politely responded.
"Tell me what you know, John. We don't have forever."
Impatience? How to meet it? The default position was to humor the madman. "Well, Armande, I'm not sure I know very much, at all. Assuming you've eavesdropped on my new file, that's it. I guess my first question for you is why Fedoruk visited me in Yerevan two weeks ago."
"Which you speculated about, at length, in the file. Well, I don't know, either. But, to clear up one of your other main questions, if there are pro-and-anti Geistmann factions among our erstwhile F.B.I. colleagues, no one has told me about it. You see, John, I don't work for any of those people, anymore. Not since Ethiopia and Somalia."
"What about the murder of Donduceni's brother, in Tiraspol? And what about your own supposed 'death,' in Chisinau?"
Geistmann abruptly halted, and kicked at the hard sand. "Yes, I killed the brother. But no one told me to, it was my own initiative. And that prison business in Chisinau? A total fabrication. Like you, I can only guess who was behind it. Scott Peters? And the motive? To protect me from retaliation for killing the Donduceni brothers, or the South African, in the Addis Museum? That was fun, wasn't it, John! Ha! I can protect myself, thank you very much!"
Was Geistmann's indignation real, as he retailed his version of events? Hie face was red, but that may only have meant he had not applied enough sun block. Robinson decided that his best course would be studious neutrality, which was close to his real feelings: he did not care what had happened in Tiraspol, or in Chisinau, in 2013. As for Addis, that operation was presumably history, by now. In fact, he wished the whole African part of his former life would stay former -- except, of course, for his marriage.
As usual, Geistmann seemed to read his mind. "But, John," he said, "weren't you at least slightly afraid the Cartel would come after you? I mean, you were more than a bit player in that wonderful die-arama at the Museum. Strictly speaking, you were an accessory to murder -- although, of course, the victim was the Zulu Cartel boss, Mandlenkosi Chuliza, who was himself, among other things, a murderer."
Robinson was nonplussed. He realized something that, even six years later, was alarming: it had never even occurred to him that the Cartel, or anyone else, might come after him.
"Actually," he said, "the two news accounts, and the text you sent, made me assume that you were the one who was in danger. Don't forget, I had just gotten married. I must not have wanted to worry that the Cartel might come after me."
"Well, good for you! What I thought was that they would try to kill me first, and then you."
"Hmm! The same order as at the Museum. That never even occurred to me."
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):
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