The Ultimate TG Experience
as told to Andy Hollis and Jaye Michael
Chapter Eighteen -- A Well Heeled Spy
Igor Batinoff was a small man; small of body, small of stature and small of mind. While he was still a young man, his size was not the result of immaturity.
It was the afternoon of his eighteenth birthday when Igor marched proudly into the Red Guard recruiting office in the basement of the Government Building on Independence Square, but he had barely started the pre-induction physical when he was pulled aside and given the news. He had failed the meet the physical requirements for the armed forces. His boots had three-inch heels designed to bring him up to the five-foot four-inch minimum for enlistment. They never noticed the two-inch lifts inside his boots.
Of course, he made certain to make a truly impressive scene, first demanding and then begging the recruiting officer to reconsider. Igor was a good actor and was very believable, not that he really wanted to enter the armed forces. Thus, at a time and place where it was expected-no required-that every young man join up, Igor was surprisingly unconcerned by his rejection. He had charted a different direction for his life.
Igor Batinoff's grades were not good enough to become a diplomat and his family was not sufficiently well ensconced in the Party hierarchy to provide him a sinecure within the corrupt Soviet government. Working in the family grocery for the rest of his life would involve manual labor that he outright despised, so Igor had decided that he was going to be a spy. Actually, he was not so much interested in being a spy as he was in being intimately involved with foreigners. That was where the money was. It had been a process of elimination.
With a remarkably sympathetic rejection letter in hand, especially considering the stoic nature of Soviet society in the nineteen-seventies, Igor gleefully headed across town to the nearest known secret office of the KGB. The letter would help prove his patriotism.
The buses were only an hour behind so, less than two hours after being rejected by the Soviet Armed Forces, a cock-sure Igor Batinoff stood at the corner of Lenin and Melnikaite Street, the wind whipping at his hair. Unlike most, he had let it grow long as a way of showing he was aware of the world outside the Motherland.
Before him was a dingy white monolithic stone structure. With no windows on the first two floors and a smooth gray cement frame surrounding the entrance, the six-story building that served as office space for the KGB looked more like a vault than an office building.
Taking a deep breath and straightening his shoulders, Igor strutted boldly into the front door of the KGB offices in Minsk. Seated at a desk in the small, dingy lobby was a strikingly beautiful woman. Igor whistled appreciatively, forgetting for a moment why he had come, and looked for a nametag on her desk or blouse. All he could find was a small tag, just over her left breast, with the Cyrillic word "Receptionist."
Looking up from the papers on her desk, the dark haired, blue eyed beauty gave him a sultry smile and asked in tones that made it clear she was offering much more than directions, "How may I help you comrade?"
"I wish to become a spy."
"I do not understand, comrade. What about a spy and why would you come here?"
Igor wondered whether the beautiful woman before him was truly ignorant of the role of the bureaucracy for which she worked or if this was some sort of test. There was no nearly invisible smirk to suggest she had a secret. Her eyes gave no clue that there might be a razor sharp brain lurking behind them. His intense examination of her face gave no clues, but he decided that it really didn't matter. He had to act like it was a test, a test to see if he could make it past a simple secretary.
"I said I wish to report a spy." This was a statement that was much more likely to get me inside and I could correct the misunderstanding then. While he waited for her to react, Igor examined the lobby around him. She sat behind a large semicircular marble desk bracketed by the bright red flag of the Motherland. Behind her was a second semicircular shape, but taller, reaching halfway to the two floor high ceiling with jagged edges at the top so that it looked like a mountain. Behind that, on the left were two elevators and on the right, a pair of steel double doors with a sign reading "No Admittance" on each door. Two huge men in cheap black suits stood by the doors, apparently talking, but I could see them eyeing me carefully and I was willing to bet they were guards. Nowhere was there a directory.
"This is an import-export company. Why don't you make your report to the government?" she asked with innocent sincerity.
It was clear Igor was not going to be admitted without some work on his part. While he did not believe that a mere secretary could stop him, he was quite certain that two strong, well-trained guard, each at least twice his size, would have no trouble whatsoever. This was going to take some ingenuity.
"Spacebo Madam. It appears I am at the wrong location." With that, he turned and rapidly walked out the door before someone could stop him.
Quickly turning arbitrarily to the left onto Melnikaite Street, Igor quickly half walked, half trotted to the corner and turned the corner heading way from home on Lenin. As he turned, he checked to see if he was being followed. He was, but they didn't seem like in any hurry to catch him. It was almost like they were playing with him. This too had to be part of some test.
Without a second thought, Igor strode as swiftly as his short legs would permit towards the family market, only a couple of blocks away. If he had looked back, he would have seen the two men, laugh at turn into a bar. It was time for them to take a vodka break and do some serious haggling over the price of an illegal shipment of American blue jeans.
During his trip home, Igor considered his options while keeping a surreptitious eye on his back to see if he was still being tailed. Surely, if the front doors were that well protected, the back doors would be impregnable. He might be able to find a way in through the city sewer system, but even the city police avoided them. The sewers were mob territory and no one in their right mind went there. That left only one way in. Igor started gathering the equipment he would need. Tonight would be a busy night.
Igor was not afraid of hard work; he just recognized that there were better ways to obtain one's desires. To quote that Americanski capitalist pig, Barnum, "There's a sucker born every minute." Tonight's effort would be hard work, but if it got him into the building, it would be worth it.
Across Lenin Street from the KGB office was a taller building, the offices of several real Import-Export companies and one business I was familiar with through my family's business. The People's Farm Cooperative provided all the fruits and vegetables as his family's bribes could obtain. Igor was a familiar sight there as he had come often with his father, who still hoped the younger Batinoff would be an asset to the family business.
"Good afternoon Olga," he greeted the plump matronly woman at the reception desk. Igor couldn't help but make unflattering comparisons to the beauty at the KGB office. "You know where I'm going," he added as he jerked a thumb at the elevators.
"Don't forget to sign in…." But Igor had already bolted into the elevator and the doors were closing. He almost didn't get his bag inside before the doors closed.
Olga just shrugged and moved on to the next person coming in the door. Instead of stopping at the third floor where the Coop was, Igor kept going to the eighth and top floor. Exiting the elevator, Igor scrambled around the corner to the stairway and climbed the last flight to the roof. The bag was heavy and he almost dropped it when it bumped against the door to the roof, but he got it threw and let it clatter to the tarred surface as soon as the door closed. Sliding to the tar, Igor sat with his feet stretched out before him. After catching his breath, he grabbed a sandwich and a contraband bottle of Coke. It would be a long wait until dark.
About six o'clock, clouds began to roll in making the rooftop a dusky, shadowless gloom, perfect for what Igor had in mind. Pulling a heavy rope, a light rope and a heavy metal hook from his bag, Igor fastened on end of the heavy rope around a chimney. Then he took the light rope and looped it through a large eyelet he'd welded to the end of the hook and pulled it half way through. One end of the thin rope was tied to the loose end of the thick rope and the other end was tied to a conveniently located plumbing vent.
Walking to the edge of the roof, Igor looked over the low escarpment, across the street and two stories down was the flat roof of the KGB building. Near the center of it's roof was his goal, a small shed-like structure-the roof access.
Stepping back from the edge, Igor gripped the rope about six feet from the edge. Starting slowly and then speeding up, he swung the hook around his head. When the speed was great enough that he could barely control it, he let it fly. The hook clattered on the KGB building roof and Igor cheered. Then he started carefully pulling it closer. It caught at the edge of the roof and he jerked it to make certain it was firmly attached-and it slid off, following an arcing decent until it hit the building on which he was standing. There was the sound of broken glass as it hit, followed by the rich sounds of cursing.
Igor yanked on the rope, pulling it back up-and got rope burn when the hook caught. Cursing again, he lowered the rope and shook it as he pulled up. Luckily, this time it came free. Thirteen tries later, a very tired Igor Batinoff grunted in muted approval when the hook finally caught on the roof of the KGB building's roof access.
Moving slowly, and not just because he was being careful, Igor slowly pulled the rope through the eyelet on the far hook, watching the heavy rope play out over the edge of the roof. In the dim light, it looked like some huge snake, stretching out into the air, searching for the sent of its prey.
There was a dicey moment when the tip of the thick rope finally made it to the hook and jammed. Several gentle tugs later, Igor was cursing again. He really did not wish to start over again. Finally, with a deep sigh of frustration, Igor gave a hard yank and prayed to his mother's Christian god that it would work.
Pulling the rest of the thick rope through the eyelet was gratefully uneventful. As soon as he could reach it on its return trip, Igor grabbed it and pulled it as tight as he could before fastening it to the roof. Then, returning to his bag, Igor pulled out a strange contraption of straps and hooks. One end, Igor strapped around his chest as tightly as he could. The other end was a thickly braided piece of leather that looped over the rope stretched tautly above him.
Igor stepped up to the edge of the roof. Everything else had been just a buildup to what was to come next. This would be what his mother would call "a leap of faith." He stood there for at least half an hour debating whether he really wanted to do this. Did he really want to be James Bondsky? Just how badly did he want to be a spy? How much more work was what he was doing now than all the work in the family business he so wanted to avoid?
Eventually, he stepped off into space.
Eyes closed tight, Igor felt the wind blowing past his face as he slid down and across. He was going to make it. Oh how he looked forward to seeing the faces of the KGB folks when he sat behind their leader's desk when he came in the next morning. Surely they would have to accept him if he could pull it off.
The wind was slowing. He must be near the end. It was time to unbuckle and drop to the roof of the KGB building.
Igor opened his eyes and looked down-six floors to the ground. He hadn't made it. He was hanging in the air about ten feet short of the building.
He was still hanging there two hours later when dawn broke and both vehicle and pedestrian traffic started to pick up. Igor had tried everything he could think of to make it those last ten feet. When he reached up to pull at the rope, he belatedly realized that he had made the loop he was hanging from too long and so could not reach it. He had tried to rock forward, but he had apparently not pulled the rope taut enough and he was at the bottom of a small valley. Even when he was able to rock forward forcefully enough to move forward a foot or so, he immediately slid back.
Dejected and exhausted, too tired even to curse, Igor hung there as the sun advanced through the sky. It was only as he hung there that he realized exactly how foolish he had been. The KGB would not make a spy out of a failure like him. If they wanted him, they would have come to him, not waited for him to prove himself with some hair-brained scheme.
Around 10 AM Igor began to wonder why he was still hanging there. Were they playing with him like a cat with a mouse, waiting to see what he would do next, or was it possible that no one had yet looked up and seen him? Papa had always said, "Why look up to see if the sky is still there? It always is." Maybe the KGB felt that way too. Maybe.
His thoughts were disrupted when someone opened the door to the roof of the KGB building. They were carrying a rope and they brought it directly to the edge of the building nearest Igor. Clearly they had known he was there.
"Catch this," a gruff voice called out as the man on the roof threw the rope at Igor.
Igor caught it the first time, ruefully thinking that it would have been nicer if things had gone that well a bit earlier in this project. As soon as Igor had wrapped the rope around his waist and tied it in front, the man pulled him forward. Once he was over the building, the man pulled him low enough that he could reach the heavy rope Igor had been hanging from and cut it. Igor fell unceremoniously to the surface of the roof.
A moment later, Igor was standing, dancing on the tips of his toes. The man grabbed him by the back of his harness and led him toward the roof access door as if he were a bag of groceries.
Except for the soft, rich, overstuffed leather furniture, the office looked much like what Igor had learned to accept as "comrade bureaucrat" modern; bookcases filled to overflowing, an eclectic array of pictures from foreign artists to tractors. From behind the high-backed executive chair, currently facing out the window toward the building from which I had approached, a female voice spoke. "You are either a very ingenious man or a total fool. I am betting on the latter, but why don't you tell me what you were trying to do and answer my question?"
"I wanted to work for your organization, for the KGB. I wanted to be a spy. The receptionist wouldn't let me in to apply, so I had to find a way to get past her, to get your attention."
"Actually, you had your interview and were rejected." The chair turned around to reveal the "receptionist" with which Igor had spoken the day before.
Standing, she walked slowly over him. Igor considered running from the office in embarrassment, but a brief shake from the huge man behind him, who still had a firm grip on his harness, convinced him to remain where he was.
"Well Ivan, I guess we have another fool," she said with a smirk to the huge man as she walked up to Igor.
"I am not a fool. I may not have succeeded, but that was only because I had limited resources. With the resources and knowledge of the KGB behind me, how could I possibly fail?"
Igor's voice sounded self-assured, but the way his voice cracked gave him away. Still, the woman was impressed. This little man, shorter and slighter than she, was showing signs of bravado. Most people faced with the full might of the KGB quickly withered into quivering bowls of blubber. She examined the small man carefully, reconsidering her initial assessment.
"How did you plan on getting inside once you made it to our roof?"
"I would have either picked the lock or chiseled the hinges off."
"And then what did you plan to do, my impetuous little one?"
"I planned to enter your office, grab a seat in that big chair of yours and wait for you to come in to work."
"Thereby showing me how persistent and ingenious you are, no doubt," she said with a genuine smile. "Did you realize that I would have to kill you on the off chance that you might have read some top secret document?"
"I…I…No." Igor admitted, hanging his head in shame.
The woman's eyes glared into Igor, examining him much as if he were a lab rat.
"Well, we have need of volunteers for our research teams," she mused aloud. Then, in a totally unexpected change of topic, she ordered Igor to cry.
"Cry. Right now. Cry."
Igor cried. Deep stomach wrenching sobs tore from his throat.
Igor stopped crying as if a faucet had been abruptly turned off. It looked like the acting skills he had practiced in front of the mirror in his bedroom had paid off.
"Good. Very good. Perhaps we can use you after all. Ivan, bring him to Professor Mengal. Take him to the lab. Tell the good doctor that this is to be his best work ever." With that she abruptly turned and returned to her desk, ignoring the two men as she examined the papers on her desk.
The room Ivan dragged Igor into might as well have been a mad scientist's dungeon lair. Cinderblock and tile replaced the traditional rough-hewed stone, but the strange devices giving off sparks, the human-sized cages off to one corner and the wrinkled, bent and wild-haired man examining Igor like some bug about to be dissected made up for the absence of stone.
Ivan stood holding Igor by the collar so that his feet continued to dangle in the air. Igor couldn't be sure, since the way he was being held it was hard to get anything more than a glimpse of Ivan's face, but it seemed like the huge man was afraid of the frail old man with the wild hair.
On the way Ivan had actually warmed up a bit since he knew Igor was going to be a part of the agency and explained that Dr. Batinoff was a refugee from Germany who had earned a reputation as a researcher and experimenter during World War II. Among other things, he had developed and ran the agency's development services for special talents.
The tableau remained unchanged for at least five minutes while the old man worked at something, but Igor couldn't make out what. Finally, he looked up and glared myopically at the intruders in his dungeon.
"Vaat do you vant?" It was the strongest German accent Igor had ever heard.
"Control says this is to be your best work ever," Ivan explained with a gentle shake to indicate he meant Igor.
"Fine. Strap him down dere," the old man pointed to a gurney.
As Ivan strapped the small man down, "Are dere any limitations?" Igor was beginning to understand the words behind the accent.
"Control wants a functioning agent. You can hurt him, but he needs to remain sane."
"Fine. Leave me. Come back in six hours. He vill need several veeks of recovery. That vill be your problem. I vill not ignore mine researches for longer dan necessary."
Ivan nodded and left very quickly.
"Who are you and what are you going to do to me?"
"Who I am is of no concern. You may call me Dr. Batinoff, eh? Und as to vhat I am going to do, vhy I am going to make you into a functional agent of course." The laughter that followed was the scariest thing Igor had ever heard.
Batinoff ignored all further efforts by Igor to find out what was going to happen. It was as if he was an inanimate object as the old man roughly shoved hoses up his nose and placed a shower cap over his head and covering his eyes before wheeling the gurney under a series of showerheads. A valve squealed from disuse as it turned and a red-yellow slime began oozing out and dripping down onto Igor.
Igor struggled and screamed until a drop landed in his mouth, then he just struggled to get loose before he ran out of breath. After a minute, he realized that there was fresh air blowing in through the hosed that had been jammed up his nose, but by then every movement was like a demented dentist was running a sander across an unexposed nerve and he was trying very hard to avoid breathing, let alone any other movement.
He might have passed out, he wasn't sure, but then his world quickly became a lot cooler. Risking getting burned again, he opened his mouth-and tasted water. Whatever had burned him was being washed off. Igor was proud of himself. He had not revealed any information. Maybe now the torture would end and he would be told of his duties as a member of the KGB.
He could see a shape approach through the translucent shower cap and assumed it was Batinoff. The hoses here yanked out of his nose, causing him to jerk in pain and then again when his movement caused even more pain to his raw and tender skin. A moment later it was confirmed when the cap was ripped off his face. Hair sprayed over his face, but he could see Battinoff standing before him and smiling. This time, he limited his movement to slowly and cautiously pursing his lips and blowing the hair out of his eyes.
"Vell, that takes care of the hair und skin," Batinoff muttered to himself as he wheeled the gurney to another corner of the lab. This section looked like a surgical suite. Batinoff puttered a round a bit, before turning back to Igor.
"You vill not be avake for dis part, vhich detracts from my enjoyment. To make up for dat, I vill tell you vhat is about to happen and imagine you're nightmares as you sleep.
"Once I put you under anesthesia, I vill complete several surgical procedures. Specifically, I vill shave your nose und larynx. Den I vill relocate some of your fat cells. Finally, I vill give you un injection to help fix you in your new form.
The mask slid over Igor's face. He tried to hold off breathing as long as he could, but it wasn't long enough. Eventually, the need to breathe was stronger than his will. As he took his first ragged gasp and inhaled the acrid gas, Batinoff added one last comment. The last thing Igor heard before Batinoff's maniacal laugh faded away with his consciousness was, "If it is of any comfort to you, I had much practice during the var vhile I vas at Auscvitz. Vith your new genitals, you vill make a beautiful Mata Hari. You vill especially like the vay you valk in heels after I shorten de tendons in your legs.
And then, Batinoff did the scariest thing he possibly could have done. He laughed. "Mwah-ha-ha-ha-ha."
McKenzie opened his e-mail program. The first message was from his nemesis, the Weasel. He considered deleting it unread, but instead decided it was better to know what the evil creature was up to. The letter read, simply,
I need your help from Wally the Weasel.
My brother is in horrible health, and I thought that if I could convince him give up writing for this list and take care of himself, for a change, I could actually save him from almost certain death. He needs to be out walking, not tied to a computer and vegetating.
To all of the good readers on the TG-TF list. I know most of you have complained bitterly about my nitpicking and trashing every story put out by McKenzie Rigby, but I had a good reason. You see, Mac is my brother, and, in real life I am actually his sister, Janice.
I admit that I really do like my brother's stories, but if something isn't done, and now, he may not be around much longer to write them, so I am asking everyone on this list, to please, please help me get Mac to watch his health, not a computer monitor.
CONTINUED IN CHAPTER NINETEEN
McKenzie, the Giant Killer
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