Edge of Apocalypse: pages 283-288 (Chapter Forty-Nine)
And here, we meet back with John Gallagher and his CIA counterpart, Ken Leary, who we’ve met previously. So, let’s follow along and see what Gallagher learns.
John Gallagher arrived at Yang’s Dry Cleaning a few minutes early.
A friendly Asian man at the counter asked him if he had dry cleaning to pick up.
“No thanks,” Gallagher said. “But I think my friend does.”
Not long after, Ken Leary shows up, hands the dude a “laundry ticket”, which signals the Asian to close up the laundry and discreetly disappear.
Leary sat down on a chair with a faded red slip cover in front of the counter. Gallagher sat down in another chair while Leary pulled some papers out of the envelope.
“This is a transcript,” he began, “of an interview between one of our agents and Mrs. Elena Banica. The interview took place following the murder of her husband. I can’t let you take this. It’s bad enough I’m letting you read it. And even worse that it’s left our New York station even for a few minutes. So look it over now. This is all I have for you. When you’re done, I need to get it back to the office.”
So what’d she say? Did she know what the unfortunate Yergi Banica was up to? (We may recall that he met his unfortunate end falling for one of the simplest tricks in the book, so it stands to reason he may have blabbed a bit too much in front of his wife)
The story is told as though Gallagher were envisioning the interrogation unfolding, although the book makes the mistake of saying the interview was being conducted “in Bulgaria”, as opposed to Romania. The bolded part showing that it was indeed in Romania is in the text.
When the interview took place, the subject, Elena, was seated in an empty back room in a large cathedral just off the Pasaj Subteran Unirea in Bucharest. She knew a friendly priest there, so she had insisted on that location for the meeting. Considering her former seedy occupation, Elena’s demand to give her statement in a church probably seemed ironic to her interrogator.
But the agent questioning her didn’t linger on that. The Agency needed to get down to the basement level about Dr. Banica. Elena was the only witness who knew enough about him and who could also be pressured into spilling it.
Next to Elena, on the floor, was a digital recorder, which was recording the conversation. The questions from the agent zeroed in on her relationship with Yergi. His next question was pretty blunt. “Considering the difference in ages, why’d you marry him?”
“Love,” she said, but she didn’t look at her interrogator when she said that. Elena tried to smile and took a second to tap the ashes from her cigarette.
She had been a call girl when she met Yergi. She also states that Yergi gave her money, that she wasn’t having an affair, and so on. She’d served Yergi breakfast that morning; he hadn’t said anything direct about what he was going to do, but given his show-off tendencies, it’s not surprising that he said more than he should have.
“Did Yergi talk to you that morning about where he was going?”
“Not then, no.”
“Did you know where he was going?”
“I think so.”
“So he talked to you about it then?”
“Yes. But only generally. Just that he was selling some information that had come into his possession.”
“He had obtained it originally from a Russian agent?”
If only to protect his wife, he shouldn’t have even told her that.
Anyway, the agent goes on to establish that it was the RTS Yergi had heard about, and now he wants to know who Yergi was going to talk to.
The agent paused long enough to lean back and size up his subject. He didn’t care if she had loved Yergi Banica. That wasn’t the point. What really mattered were her answers to his next line of questions.
“So Yergi was going to take this Return-to-Sender information, which he had received from the Russian, and was going to sell it to someone else. Right?”
“That was his plan. Would get big money from that. We would get new house. Close to the beach.”
“Did he ever give you a name?”
“I mean the name of the person he would be selling this information to…in Bucharest…the person he was going to meet in the hotel. That name.”
Unfortunately, she has nothing – no physical description, no identifying marks, nothing. Except…
“Anything about this man’s nationality? What country he came from?”
A few more seconds went by. Elena considered taking another drag on the cigarette and raised it to her lips as if she were going to.
But then she stopped.
“Yergi called him ‘the Algerian.'”
” ‘The Algerian’? Are you sure?”
“Yes. That I am certain about.”
DING! She’s tabbed Atta Zimler!
The interrogation closes with a scene worthy of a James Bond movie.
“When you find this man who killed my Yergi. Please…” Elena’s chin trembled a little.
She managed to stop the trembling. Then she spoke with icy control.
“Kill him good.”
And with that, we return to Leary and Gallagher. The FBI agent stuffs the papers back in the envelope and returns the lot to the CIA guy. They get ready to go, and we have this snippet regarding the final stages of this clandestine gathering:
Leary was struck by the way his friend had said that. Gallagher seemed intensely deliberate like Leary had never seen him before. Committed. Inflexible. So Leary gave Gallagher another warning, just for good measure. “Look John, I can’t deal with you any more on this subject. You’re on your own from this point on. I will deny our conversation. All of it. You know that.”
Leary then wishes Gallagher Godspeed and the two men part ways. That’s it for this chapter, folks.
Next chapter we’ll be back with Josh Jordan and we will learn who The Patriot is! 😀