Bitter Russia, Episode 47, Odysseys in Paradise

Rich waited on the deck of The Odyssey for an hour. He grew anxious. Perhaps, he wondered, “Yuri might have a change of mind. I can’t say as I would blame him, except for the fact his own government might locate him and find a cozy little gulag in Siberia for him. His future is not here—maybe a potato farm in Idaho.”

Eventually, Yuri appeared from the midst of the village, two men on each side and a troop of children behind him. They stopped at the dock’s beginning and all wished him well. With confidence Yuri, along with two native men, walked toward The Odyssey where Rich waited leaning against a piling.

“Ready to go?” Rich said.

“I am ready,” Yuri said.

“Let’s hop aboard,” Rich said and they stepped onto The Odyssey.

The men who walked with Yuri said they would toss the lines. The Odyssey shoved off and quietly motored away from the dock and into the lagoon, heading for the opening to the sea.

Once on the open sea Rich hoisted the sails. Yuri offered to help, but Rich said it would be best to be accustomed to the sea before trying to walk around on deck. Yuri sat on the aft deck watching Manihiki fade into the sea.

“Maybe you can return someday,” Rich said consolingly while sitting at the helm.

“Maybe,” Yuri said. He stood and sat across from Rich.

“Have you ever sailed before,?” Rich said.

“No,” Yuri said, “not on a sailboat. A small cargo brought me to Manihiki about six months ago.”

“How did you get involved in this?” Yuri said. “I know, you said it was a long story. It is best to start a long story early.”

“I was paid,” Rich said.

“By who?” Yuri said.

“By the CIA,” Rich said.

“How do you know they are CIA?” Yuri said.

“You are clever,” Rich said. “For me to know they are CIA, therefore I must be CIA. I had previous contact with them.”

“Are you Russian?” Yuri said.

“I want you to trust me,” Rich said. “I’ll put you at ease. I’m from a farm in Ohio. I fell into some bad company a couple years ago. I had to escape from them and the CIA paid me to keep them looking for me.”

“Farmboy, heh,” Yuri said. “I’m from the rural myself. I was a good student and party member. They trained me for the diplomatic corps. I entertained many American diplomats who came to Moscow. It was a good life.”

“And what happened?” Rich said.

“There were some elements in the Russian government who thought it might be good to have softer relations with the U. S. I was among them. A dialogue was opened between some U. S. government officials. My wife was tortured until she told what she knew about my activity. She was fragile and pregnant. She and my child died at the hands of her interrogators. I do not think they killed her intentionally, but they are professionals; they should have known. I went into hiding and was able to get out of the country.”

“What about the rest of your family?” Rich said.

“That is where it becomes interesting,” Yuri said. “I have a father, mother, and brother.”

“Are they in danger?” Rich said.

“No,” Yuri said. “My brother is KGB and very ambitious. He is in charge of my search. I understand. If he was passive my parents would be in Siberia. I know my brother, someday he will capture me and take me back.”

“He will move up, then?” Rich said.

“He will be without question, loyal,” Yuri said. “That will put him inside the Kremlin. We used to laugh and challenge each other, who would make it inside the Kremlin first.”

“He sounds motivated,” Rich said.

“I know him better than anyone,” Yuri said.

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