The Spy Who Came in From The Cold
The Spy Who Came in From The Cold
* * 1 * Checkpoint
The American handed Leamas another cup of coffee and said, “Why don’t you go back and sleep? We can ring you if he shows up.”
Leamas said nothing, just stared through the window of the checkpoint, along the empty street.
“You can’t wait forever, sir. Maybe he’ll come some other time. We can have the _Polizei_ contact the Agency: you can be back here in twenty minutes.”
“No,” said Leamas, “it’s nearly dark now.”
“But you can’t wait forever; he’s nine hours over schedule.”
“If you want to go, go. You’ve been very good,” Leamas added. “I’ll tell Kramer you’ve been damn good.”
“But how long will you wait?”
“Until he comes.” Leamas walked to the observation window and stood between the two motionless policemen. Their binoculars were trained on the East ern checkpoint.
“He’s waiting for the dark,” Leamas muttered, “I know he is.”
“This morning you said he’d come across with the workmen.”
Leamas turned on him.
“Agents aren’t airplanes. They don’t have schedules. He’s blown, he’s on the run, he’s frightened. Mundt’s after him, now, at this moment. He’s got only one chance. Let him choose his time.”
The younger man hesitated, wanting to go and not finding the moment.
A bell rang inside the hut. They waited, suddenly alert. A policeman said in German, “Black Opel Rekord, Federal registration.”
“He can’t see that far in the dusk, he’s guessing,” the American whispered and then he added: “How did Mundt know?”
“Shut up,” said Leamas from the window.
One of the policemen left the hut and walked to the sandbag emplacement two feet short of the white demarkation which lay across the road like the base line of a tennis court. The other waited until his companion was crouched behind the telescope in the emplacement, then put down his binoculars, took his black helmet from the peg by the door and carefully adjusted it on his head. Somewhere high above the checkpoint the arclights sprang to life, casting theatrical beams onto the road in front of them.
The policeman began his commentary. Leamas knew it by heart.
“Car halts at the first control. Only one occupant, a woman. Escorted to the Vopo hut for document check.” They waited in silence.
“What’s he saying?” said the American. Leamas didn’t reply. Picking up a spare pair of binoculars, he gazed fixedly toward the East German controls.
“Document check completed. Admitted to the second control.”
“Mr. Leamas, is this your man?” the American persisted. “I ought to ring the Agency.”
“Where’s the car now? What’s it doing?”
“Currency check, Customs,” Leamas snapped.
Leamas watched the car. There were two Vopos at the driver’s door, one doing the talking, the other standing off, waiting. A third was sauntering around the car. He stopped at the trunk, then walked back to the driver. He wanted the key. He opened the trunk, looked inside, closed it, returned the key and walked thirty yards up the road to where, midway between the two opposing checkpoints, a solitary East German sentry was standing, a squat silhouette in boots and baggy trousers. The two stood together talking, selfconscious in the glare of the arclight.
With a perfunctory gesture they waved the car on. It reached the two sentries in the middle of the road and stopped again. They walked around the car, stood off and talked again; finally, almost unwillingly, they let it continue across the line to the Western sector.
“It is a man you’re waiting for, Mr. Leamas?” asked the American.
“Yes, it’s a man.”
Pushing up the collar of his jacket, Leamas stepped outside into the icy October wind. He remembered the crowd then. It was something you forgot inside the hut, this group of puzzled faces. The people changed but the expressions were the same. It was like the helpless crowd that gathers around a traffic accident, no one knowing how it happened, whether you should move the body. Smoke or dust rose through the beams of the arc lamps, a constant shifting pall between the margins of light.
Leamas walked over to the car and said to the woman, “Where is he?”