|CIA defector Edward Lee Howard in his dacha near Moscow editing his memoir Safe House, 1994|
Flash-forward three years, to the last day of September 1993.
The bar inside Montgomery's Grille in downtown Bethesda, Maryland is quiet when I arrive to nail a stool and order a vodka martini.
Wayne the barkeep, a character out of Animal House, says they're out of olives.
Out of olives? What kind of bar was this, anyway?
"Okay, make it a Beefeater, rocks, lemon twist."
Truth be known, I didn't care if he'd forgotten. I was in the mood for a quiet cocktail, which I'd savor this warm afternoon and be gone.
The specialty of this duo's ten year-old publishing house was political intrigue. They had, most recently, published a book by James Earl Ray, the convicted killer of Martin Luther King.
I'd explained my philosophy about the book biz:
Each book is a business unto itself. Bring me a single book that has serious money-spinning potential, maybe I'll pitch in.
|Gdansk, Poland, 1984|
Interviewing Lech Walesa (under house arrest)
for the (UK) Sunday Mirror, Toronto Globe, and Toledo Blade
I'd been through this kind of publishing quagmire once before, with Poland's Lech Walesa, whose disparate representatives had made three simultaneous exclusive deals, including one with me.
Strike for Freedom: The Story of Lech Walesa and Polish Solidarity by Robert Eringer (1982-11-03): Amazon.com: Books
So there we sat in Montgomery's Grille, Joseph and Sultan sipping white wine.
"Did Joel tell you about our new book project?" asked Sultan.
"Yeah," I said. "Arafat."
"Have you ever heard the name Edward Lee Howard?" asked Joseph.
"He wants to write a book," said Joseph. "We have his proposal."
But not for the same reason as Joseph or Sultan.
I was interested in nailing this traitor and putting his butt behind bars.
After all, a much worse fate had befallen Adolph Grigoryevitch Tolkachev, the Russian scientist and invaluable CIA asset whom Howard had maliciously betrayed to the Russians.
Tolkachev had been executed.
We had known each other for over five years by this time and had been working closely, for the past three, as independent contractors on several private-sector intelligence projects.