1 Irving A Greenfield (Ph.D.) 50 Battery Place, Apt. 5L New York, N.Y. 10280 E-mail – firstname.lastname@example.org Words -- 2867 ICECREAM IN JENTZ By Irving A. Greenfield Despite the fact I’m an ordinary man -- an ordinary citizen – I know the FBI has my dossier locked in one of those dark green government file cabinets, secreted under some remote mountain in Wyoming or West Virginia.. Because of those bleak years of the cold war and our Pyrrhic victory in Viet Nam, I probably was considered dangerous. I wasn’t. The FBI made an honest mistake, a mistake brought about Simon (Sy), a seventeen years old, who happened to be my his son. # Sy was Hippie before Hippies knew they were Hippies. He managed to convince his history teacher, Mr. Rapp, to let him write a report about the Kronstad Rebellion for his term project. That was how Sy=s, and subsequently my, association with KGB Colonel Vladimir Ivanov began. Vladimir was the Soviet Union=s Cultural Attach to the United Nations, which provided an excellent cover -- so I read in various spy novels -- for his real purpose or purposes; one of which was to be a friend to a very precocious American boy. # The spring term was over and Sy got an A+ on his term paper from Mr. Rapp. It was the
2 kind of letter that made us feel, as if we, like Merlin, had used some sort of magic, other than our mutual passion for each other, to have produced Sy and Donald. But such wonderful feelings of well being, of happy parenthood, we knew, passed quickly. Especially if you happened to be Sy=s parents. The passing occurred on the Sunday morning at breakfast, when Sy said, AYou have to meet him.@ Sunday morning was not only a time when the family gathered for breakfast, it was also a time for discussions. Discussions moved from sports to literature, to science, to politics -- always politics. AHim, I don=t understand,@ I said, though I knew who AHim@ was. AGive me a noun, a proper one at that.@ AVladimir,@ Sy said. I couldnâ€™tâ€™ help rolling my eyes before I looked at Anita, who sat to my right. AHe=s been very good to Sy,@ she said, holding a cup of coffee in front of her. AHe spent a lot of time with him.@ AThen you think I should meet him?@ AYou have to decide that,@ she answered diplomatically. I glanced out of the open window. Two floors below on the corner of Bedford Avenue and Greenwood Road a man was in the telephone booth. An ordinary occurrence any time of the day, any day of the week. But this was bright spring Sunday morning and the man was wearing a black suit and a black, broad brim hat pulled low over his face. AWell, dad, are you going to meet him?@ Sy asked, drawing my attention away from the man in the telephone booth. AI have to think about it,@ I said, picking up a piece of butted toast it.
3 # After a day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, we went to our favorite Italian restaurant for dinner. Mama Monte=s was located in a red brick building on Bleaker Street. It was almost at the end of dinner that Sy said that Vladimir offered to come to Brooklyn. I savored the last piece of sausage before answering, AThat=s a big offer.@ ABigger than you might think,@ Sy said. AIf it=s that big, maybe I shouldn=t become involved. After all, I am a law-abiding citizen.@ ASo, what does that mean?@ Sy challenged. I wanted to think about dessert, not about a KGB operative. AIt means that though I am against the war, I am not ready to consort with the enemy. Russia is supplying the North Vietnamese.@ I motioned our waiter to the table and ordered biscotti Tortoni and an espresso. Hugo supplied the Sambucca for the espresso. # I lay awake a long after Anita had fallen asleep. I listened to the night sounds. Near me, Anita=s slow even breathing. Then, I heard a man=s voice distinctly imbedded in the surrounding quietness. AThe lights are out. That=s it for the night,@ the man said. There was a pause. My heart jumped and began to hammer. Whose lights were out? Was the man referring to the lights in my apartment or someone else=s? Laughter was followed by another pause.
4 I left the bed and padded to the window. Just as I looked down, the man coming out of the telephone booth looked up. Our gazes collided, transfixed by mutual surprise. A long few moments passed, and I the man simultaneously broke contact. I stepped back into the deeper darkness of the room. Perspiring fiercely, I gulped air. I felt as if I=d just finished exerting an enormous amount of physical energy. # For the next three nights, five minutes after I switched off the bedside lamp, I heard the man in the phone booth reporting to his counterpart. The voice and the muffled laughter became familiarly disconcerting and frightening. At dinner on Thursday evening, Sy cleared his throat and announced, AVladimir is coming on Sunday afternoon.@. AYou invited him?@ AYes.@ AWell, uninvite him,@ I said; I did not want to become angry. AI can=t.@ AWhy not?@ AHe=s in Russia. He=ll be back here early Saturday morning.@ AThen late Saturday you pick up the phone and uninvite him.@ I spoke slowly, enunciating every word so there would not be any misunderstanding about what I said. AIf you don=t do it, I will,@ I said. I was going to say something about the man in the telephone booth, but I stopped myself . AYou=re not being fair,@ Sy complained. ABeing fair having nothing to do with it,@ I said.
5 ASure it does,@ Donald put in. AFair is -- is being democratic.@ Anita answered. AYour father is exercising his right of veto.@ AWhat about our right to veto his veto?@ Sy asked. AEach of you will get it when you become a father,@ I answered. ANow, you don=t have it.@ I was going to declare the matter is closed, when I saw Anita shake her head to signal Sy to keep his mouth shut, which was something he found very hard to do. But he did. # After dinner, I told Anita I was going out for a walk, and I=d be back in time to dry the dishes. I was satisfied that I had control of the situation, though Acontrol@ was not exactly the right word when it came to being Sy=s father. Things happened. No. A more accurate description was on a bumper sticker I sometimes saw. SHIT HAPPENS. Anita and I, like generals of an old war always had to fight a new one using new tactics, which we had to learn. It was always a hands on battle. # Later when Anita and I were in bed and the room was dark, and I was waiting to hear the man in the telephone booth make his report, Anita said, AAren=t you being a bit too hard on Sy about this Russian thing?@ Though the words were meant for me, she spoke then to the ceiling. Defensively, I answered, AI=m taking all the necessary measures to insure domestic tranquility in the broadest sense of the phrase=s meaning.@ I still didn=t want to alarm her about the man in the telephone booth, who, at that moment, began to make his report. â€œThat sounds terribly pompous,@ Anita answered, still speaking to the ceiling. ASy and Don have to learn there are limits,@ I said. ASy has a real problem with that, if
6 he didn=t -- A @He=s just trying to show off and at the same time return a courtesy,@ she responded. This time she turned toward me and rested her head on the palm of her left hand. AThe best of intentions -- A @The laughter of the man in the telephone booth sounds as if he=s in here with us,@ she said irritated. Aware of the dramatic moment, I took a deep breath and slowly exhaled before whispering, AHe has been watching us.@ AWhat? I repeated what I said. Instantly, she bolted up and switched on the night table lamp next to her. AWhy has he been watching us?@ ASwitch off the light, Anita, and I=ll tell you all about it.@ She complied and I explained the situation. The longer I spoke the more restive she became, until she finally exploded with, AYou mean you don=t know whose damn side he=s on.@ ANo,@ I admitted. ABut it doesn=t matter whose side he=s on because he=s there and we=re here and that=s the way it=s going to remain.@ AAnd what precisely does that mean?@ Anita was now sitting up with her feet resting on the floor. ASy and Vladimir are not going to meet.@ ABut they have already met.@ ANot in Brooklyn,@ I said.
7 AOh my God, Sy may have been recruited -- A @Don=t even think that,@ I said. ADon=t even let that thought sneak into your brain.@ ABut it=s a possibility,@ she said tightly. ANot even the Russians would risk Sy,@ I said, hoping it would be true. ASy takes after my uncle Bob on my mother=s side,@ Anita whispered. I shuddered. Uncle Bob was an Irish revolutionary who was caught by the Black and Tan in nineteen twenty-three and hanged. # I finally gave up. The Russians were coming to Brooklyn, but only Sy and I would meet them. That was the only condition I insisted on. For my own peace of mind, I intended to keep Anita and Donald as far away from Vladimir as possible. Vladimir Ivanov=s Cadillac arrived promptly on Sunday afternoon, at two o=clock and parked in front of the apartment house where I lived. Sy introduced us and we shook hands. Vladimir wore a dark-blue business suit, a white shirt and a red tie with blue polka dots. He was about the same height and age group -- early forties -- as myself. He smiled and said, AI have been looking forward to meeting you, Mr. Grrenfield..@ I had no choice but to smile and assure Vladimir that I had been looking forward to meeting him, but even as I spoke I looked at the two men standing close to the black Cadillac parked at the curb. They wore black suits and black wide brim hats pulled down low over their foreheads. There was no doubt in my mind that they were carrying an arsenal under their jackets. ASy told me about a very American ice cream parlor near by,@
8 Vladimir said. AJentz,@ Sy said, before I could answer. At that moment another black Cadillac rolled to a stop across the street, and two men, dressed identically to Vladimir=s body guards, got out of it and stood watching us. One of Vladimir=s bodyguards said something in Russian. Vladimir glanced over his shoulder and answered the man in Russian, and in English he said to me, AThey come with the territory.@ AFBI?@ Sy questioned excitedly. Vladimir nodded and smiled. AWe know them. The tall one looks as if he=s constipated, the way your President Nixon does. The other one looks as if he=s deep in thought, though, according to our information, he hasn=t had one in years. Sy whooped with pleasure at Vladimir=s wit, while I tried hard not to smile. AIce cream?@ Vladimir asked. Sy looked at me. AWhy not?@ I answered. Just as they started to walk, Vladimir waved to the two FBI and indicated they would be welcome to join them. AA friendly gesture,@ he said to me. Though the two FBI men ignored the invitation, they followed and remained about fifty yards behind Sy and I and our Russian guests. # On the way to Jentz, Vladimir asked questions about the apartment houses and the people who lived in them. He wanted to know how much it cost to rent an apartment. Was the transportation good?
9 I answered his questions and pointing to the Brooklyn College campus when we passed it, I said, AI graduated from there in nineteen forty-eight with a Bachelor of Arts degree.@ AIn fifty-one I was flying Migs over the Yalu. Your pilots called it MIG Alley.@ AI was one of them. I flew off the Saratoga,@ I said modestly. APerhaps you were the one who shot me down and began my diplomatic career?@ “Perhaps?” ADid you get many?@ AA few.@ AMy dad was an ace,@ Sy said. AYou shot down five, isn=t that right?@ I nodded. I didn’t want to continue the conversation about Korea. Yet, I couldn=t help but feel a certain kinship with Vladimir. At one time in our lives we were doing exactly the same thing -- trying to kill each other. I had the feeling the same thoughts were running through Vladimir=s mind. AMy studies were in the fields of political science and economics. All very dull, I assure you,@ Vladimir said. I asked whether or not he was enjoying his assignment with the United Nations. Vladimir smiled. AIt is very routine, but once in awhile it become interesting, especially when I have the opportunity to meet some one like your son.@ I stopped myelf from making a face and said, ASy is interesting to his parents and his brother. We=re never quite sure what he is up to.@ I glanced at Sy, who grinned broadly. AWhat my father means is that I don=t like authority,@ Sy explained. AYes, that too,@ I said. ALike having us as guests?@ Vladimir questioned, making an open movement of his
10 hands to encompass all of them. AYes,@ I answered. He didn=t see any reason to avoid the issue, since Vladimir raised it. AYour son and I are friends,@ Vladimir explained, emphasizing the word friends. AI have a son -- Misha -- his age at home.@ I almost breathed a sigh of relief. ABesides, Sy is to obvious, to flamboyant to be an agent.@ I smiled and said, AHe got those qualities from his mother.@ Vladimir looked at him for a moment, then guffawed. I joined him, but Sy didn=t look pleased. # Jenzt was an old fashion ice cream parlor. A long, white gray streaked, marble counter with eight circular stools in front of it occupied one side of the store. Toward the rear of the store there were tables and chairs where there were two large circular tables. Both could easily seat eight people. AWe=ll take one of those big ones,@ Vladimir said, leading the way to the table. He was obviously used to commanding and being obeyed. As soon as we were seated, a waitress was there with menus and a friendly greeting. AWe have a lunch special today. A bowl of Clam chowder and a tuna sandwich for a dollar twentyfive.@ AJust ice cream today,@ I told her. AI=ll give you gentleman a few minutes to decide what you want,@ she said and went off to serve another customer. Vladimir twisted around and looked at the two FBI agents, who were seated at a small
11 table half way between the front of the store and rear, where they were. He faced me and said, ASo forlorn looking!@ When his two companions smiled, I realized they understood and probably spoke English as well as their boss. Without thinking about the implications of what I was about to say, I said, AInvite them over. After all, they=re here because you=re here.@ ABut dad, they=re FBI - - Sy started to complain. ANo. No, Sy. Your father is right. That=s an excellent idea. A very American one. Having ice cream with - - ” He stopped and hunted for a word. I said, “Adversaries?” AToo drastic,@ Vladimir said, smiling with enjoyment. AI prefer professional counterparts.@ At that point I realized Vladimir was KGB, probably the equivalent of a major, or a colonel. Vladimir spoke to his two companions in Russian; then, turning to me, he told me to order a chocolate chip ice cream soda with two scoops of ice cream and whipped cream if the waitress returned while he was gone. He excused himself and went directly to where the two FBI agents sat. Vladirmir=s bodyguards watched him intently, so did Sy and I. The constipated looking agent looked as if he=d never have another bowel movement, while the other one looked as if he wanted to run but couldn=t make up his mind which way to go. Several times Vladimir gestured toward our table. The constipated looking FBI agent said something.
12 Vladimir said something. The other agent spoke. Vladimir shook hands with each of them, and with the two in tow, he returned to the table. AGentlemen, Mr. John Smith and Mr. William Wesson have agreed to join us.@ He introduced Sy and I by our given names, and, with a straight face. his two bodyguards as Peter Illich Tchaikovsky and Leo Tolstoy. After the hand shaking was over and everyone was seated, he said, AI hope, Sy, the ice cream is as good as you said it was.@ Then, he gave me a quick but broad wink, and I responded with one equally as broad.
Published on Apr 7, 2011