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September 25, 2023

Geistmann Redux: John Robinson Investigates, Chapter Twenty-Four

By Ron Singer

Chapter Twenty-Four
Chisinau, Moldova & New York, NY. Tuesday, June 17 - Thursday, July 17th, 2025.

The "odds and ends" of Robinson's final meeting wound up taking the better part of an hour. The signing of non-disclosure forms ("no books or articles about your adventures with the Bureau, John!"), and the exchange of keys, airplane tickets, receipts for expenses, and reimbursement checks took place in the FBI office.

A small party in the conference room filled the rest of the hour. The sole attendees were Robinson, Fedoruk, and Santos-Oliveira. They were served tots of Kvint VSOP, the local brandy, by a "gofer" (i.e. junior Agent), who then went back upstairs to the office. Fedoruk's farewell speech was brief, but warm.

"Here's to Dr. John Robinson," he said. "Our friend and helper." Then, he ventured the obligatory joke. "Since, despite our best efforts, John is still among the living, I should probably not eulogize him today. But I will say that he has been an outstanding team member: bright, resourceful, collegial." With that, he seemed to run out of adjectives. "Anything to add, Patsy?"

S-O cleared her throat and looked at the glass in her hand, as if she were surprised it was there. "Well, all I have to say is, John, we'll miss you. You're the spoon that stirs the pot."

They drank to that, with Robinson thinking that it was she who was the spoon. Etiquette required him to reply to the toasts, and he was surprised when only a few words came out of his mouth.

"I'll miss you both." Maybe, it was the brandy speaking (or not).

With as much relief as regret, the little party soon ended. Fedoruk and S-O stayed behind in the conference room to await the news from Peter Neugeborn. Robinson returned to his room in the safe house, where he emailed his itinerary to Judy, and finished packing. At two, Vlad arrived to drive him to the airport.

By 3:15 Robinson was on his way to Warsaw, where he connected with a flight to JFK. In the middle of the night, when his flight landed, he Ubered home. Removing his shoes at the door, he brushed his teeth, then sacked out on the living-room couch. When no one woke up, he wondered if it was a good or bad sign.

The weeks that followed were exactly what he had hoped for. He was so affectionate and thoughtful to Judy and the children that, after a while, she seemed to be expecting the other shoe to fall. Where would it be this time? Manchuria? Pago-Pago? Kisumu? Robinson felt like a man who had weathered a life crisis. He could not do enough for George and Amy, with whom he rough-housed and cuddled, to the saturation point.

"Daaad, please!" cried Amy one day, wriggling free of his embrace. "I have to do my homework."

As for Judy, after the anticipated cold reception, she seemed ready to give him yet another chance, which meant a reprieve from the couch and from the silent after-dinner reading sessions. Within a month of his return, they even started making one or two trips a week to "Viagra Falls."

At the library, Robinson was so patient with even the stupidest student inquiries that Ian Bostridge looked worried that his senior employee might be experiencing mental-health difficulties. What Robinson was really experiencing was a growing faith that the Songhai manuscript would yield a ground-breaking article, if not a major book.

When he did not hear from any of his erstwhile F.B.I. associates, Robinson began to wonder whether his domestic comedy, at home, was counterpointed by an offstage neo-classical tragedy. His hyperactive imagination appointed him as dramaturge. For the Chorus, he cast his immediate circle of FBI Agents: Petrus Renascitur (Peter Neugeborn), Estne Yama (Yamamoto), Patseis Santos (no translation needed) and, of course, Theodorus Fedorikus (Fedoruk). The tragic protagonist/villain was Cyberius Mercurius (Ramesh Subramanian), and among his henchmen were Miles Un-Gloriosis (Iosub Ceban) and Homo Mercator (Ionut Donduceni).

This elaborate, lame conceit Robinson attributed to a failure of imagination caused, perhaps, by the drain on his faculties from his heightened attention to work and family. On Thursday, July 17th, a script arrived, in the form of a long email from Fedoruk:

John, In case you were wondering ... after consultation with the POTUS, PN's request for permission for us to employ the NO-NO was reluctantly accepted, with the stipulation that the Bureau would be solely responsible for any and all CD.

Robinson understood that DF's reason for using initials was his knowledge that the recipient's email was as insecure as ever. He knew that "NO-NO" meant "Nuclear Option," that it referred to Pegasus/Phantom; and that "CD" was not a fiduciary term, but an acronym for "collateral damage." Avidly, he read on.

Given these stipulations, the Bureau brass (i.e. the Director, in consultation with PN and BM) determined that the NO-NO should be used only once, and this for a single, simultaneous strike against the DM (in particular, RS and ID) and the four branch offices of the PAC.

Robinson de-coded more initials: "DM" stood for the Donduceni Mob; "RS," for Ramesh Subramanian; "ID," for Ionut Donduceni; and "PAC," of course, the Pan-African Cartel.

The plan would require precision strikes. We would have to take out the DM HQ at a time when both RS and ID were present, and simultaneously hit PAC branch offices in L,N, in CT, in N,K, and in AA, E. BM delegated the complex logistical coordination of the plan to MY and PS-O.

L,N was Lagos, Nigeria; CT Cape Town; N,K, Nairobi, Kenya; AA,E, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; and BM, MY & PS-O (obvious).

Undetectable P/P interceptions identified three potential ZH's. Each involved simultaneous detonation of powerful IED's already in place at the five target locations. We fixed on 0700 hours (in L,N), or 0900 (in C,M) on Monday, July 13th, as the ZH most likely to meet these conditions. Employing devices other than NO-NO (including the Blackshades tool kit and some RAT's), MY and PS-O disrupted the timing of all of the enemy's IED's, so that they were detonated the moment they were set, instead of at various times in the near future, as intended. KA-BOOM!

ZH was zero hour. Blackshades and RAT's lost Robinson, until Google searches semi-enlightened him. "Blackshades"was a program that embedded "Trojans,"or species of malware, in target computers. "RAT's" were Remote-Access Trojans.

The final paragraphs of the email complicated matters. As he read on, Robinson noticed a profound shift in the usually plainspoken Fedoruk's E-pistolary style, which became stuffy and pedantic, in a cheesy way, while trying to be witty. Was Fedoruk aspiring to be Robinson Redux?

As you know, of course, John, since my time in the States, I have been an ardent lover of the English language, especially given to bardolatry. Thus, you will understand when I say that recent events here in Moldova and in Africa seem a perfect illustration of Shakespeare's famous military metaphor, "hoist with his own petard."

And, my friend, blessings, like "single spies," sometimes "come in battalions." I am very pleased to inform you that PS-O has just agreed to become PS-O-F. Tying this knot will involve complications, of course. Firstly, DF must abandon his longstanding commitment to the single state; i.e., he must quit his vocation as a player.

Secondly, I'm sure you are aware of the FBI prohibition against married couples serving as Agents. Since P. and I are both bound to the Bureau by longterm contracts, made under similar duress, we are unsure of what to do. But it looks as if one of us will wind up following your example, John, and leaving Uncle's sheltering arms. Since cyber-security is such a growth industry, P. is the logical choice. If, however, circumstances dictate that we both must quit the Bureau, we anticipate that our planned conjugal partnership may extend to a professional one.

In that case, where would we live? Since it would be prudent for me to pull up stakes here (for obvious reasons), and since P. has no wish to return to South America, we are thinking of various other locations, one of which is your own city, in which case we may soon be seeking your advice about flats, schools (yes, P. is expecting!), restaurants, etc.

More later. Meanwhile, please give our love to Judy and to your wonderful children! (signed), As ever, D.F.


Article © Ron Singer. All rights reserved.
Published on 2023-04-17
Image(s) are public domain.
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