Saturday, December 29th, 2018; and Sunday, December 20th, 2018.
Judy had presumably gone to bed, since the hyurasenyak >>kam<< srah -- the parlor, or living room -- was deserted. Robinson picked up the book she had been reading, which sat on the end table beside the armchair. It was Vasily Grossman's Armenian Sketches. From her execrable habit of turning down the corners of pages, instead of using a bookmark, he could see that, in the 90 minutes he had been out on the town with Fedoruk, she had made substantial progress.
Taking off his shoes, he tiptoed down the hall to their shared study. Checking her desk, including her laptop, which she always left open, he found no signs of any report-in-progress. So he assumed he had guessed right: she had just not wanted to keep listening to shoptalk.
Sinking into his ergonomic desk chair, across the room from her matching chair and desk, Robinson resumed his speculations about what was behind Fedoruk's reappearance. On the likely assumption that Geistmann had once again gone rogue, was he possibly operating in ways that undermined the increasingly fragile western system of globalism? In other words, was he, in effect, working for Trump, Inc.? Presumably, as Fedoruk had claimed, that noted time-pleaser, Scott Peters, had gone over to this enemy. Perhaps, G. was working for Scott again -- unofficially, of course.
The opposite possibility was what Fedoruk had asserted, but with an important qualification. Perhaps, Fred, Mauro, et al may initially have been supporting G. because he was taking out bad actors: nativist dictators, and such, including Trump's puppets and puppeteers. But with this initial backing of the "Fred faction," G. may have gone rogue, creating mayhem on politically uncertain grounds, which had then led that faction to dispatch Fedoruk with orders to set him, Robinson, on G's trail. In that case, their idea may have been not to warn G., but to kill him themselves. At this point, Robinson realized that, until more facts came in, he was just spinning his wheels.
Taking advantage of the deep silence, always a pleasure, he decided to postpone the "why," in favor of the "where." With the usual mixture of excitement and comfort, he booted up his machine. Relying on standard malware blocks and other security to keep the searches secure, his first idea was to have a look at some webcam footage of the beaches of Hawaii, where it was now just after eleven a.m. His hypothesis was that G. might have stowed his family in some such tropical paradise, and might even be frolicking with them right now.
Robinson scanned the dozen or so principal beaches on the eight main islands, without spotting any lookalikes of either the man himself, or of anyone likely to be his wife, Elica, or son, Iosub, neither of whom Robinson had ever met, or even seen pictures of. There were no Internet-accessible webcams on the lesser-known beaches, or on the more exclusive ones.
Next, Robinson pictured the G's at a cottage on the outskirts of the range country on the Big Island (also called "Hawaii"), someplace proximate to the renowned Parker Ranch, which he knew was now run by a charitable trust. Google informed him of house lots for sale, but there was nothing about houses or flats for lease or rent. Robinson entertained himself with this pastoral vision for a few more moments before deciding that long-distance voyeurism was a waste of time.
Then, a solution became obvious. He realized that his secondment to the Papazian ended January 31st, in about six weeks. The thought of returning to New York in the dead of winter reawakened a fantasy he and Judy had shared more than once, over the years: why not detour to Hawaii (the Islands) with the children for a week, or so? Was this why he had imagined Geistmann there? He idly scanned the airfares.
Then, his computer brain processed the other relevant data. He had been working at the Papazian on a translation/annotation of what he intended to call Selected Poems of Shushanik Kurghinian. She was the Armenian dissident whose work he had first studied ten years before at the Matenadaran Museum, also in Yerevan. Selected Poems would be an updated edition of the 2005 collection, aprel em uzum (I Want to Live), prepared not by Robinson, but by a Princeton scholar, but now with the ten additional poems that had been unearthed by Robinson. That had been in 2008, the last time he had been in Yerevan (and the time Judy had visited for the tryst that ultimately led to their decision to marry, in Mali, five years later).
During his current stint at the Papazian, Robinson had finished translating and annotating the ten poems. He realized that his Introduction to the augmented edition could wait for his return to Columbia, where he was not due until Tuesday, February 18th, 2020. (The 15th was a Saturday, and the 17th, Presidents' Day.)
A detour to Hawaii for a week or two would certainly delight the children. And hadn't Judy talked about wanting to try surfing -- on a boogie-board, at least -- before she got too old? Meanwhile, he could eyeball the beaches that did not have webcams. And the Parker Ranch was itself a renowned tourist destination, where Judy and the kids might even get in a little riding, while he snooped around.
Yet another important detail flashed onto Robinson's mental screen. While he had been spending his days at the library, and the children had been at school, or with Altoon, Judy, too, had been gainfully occupied. She had been seconded by her New York NGO to an Armenian adoption agency, where she was helping her counterparts modernize their fund-raising apparatus. Since Armenia's care of orphans was generally excellent, and since one of the purviews of Judy's New York NGO was assuring education to the city's 100,000-plus homeless, school-aged children, she had also been gleaning transferable ideas.
Robinson remembered that, in the course of her work for the Armenian adoption agency, Judy had corresponded, at least once or twice, with Geistmann's wife, Elica, who had once worked for Centrul de prevenire a traficului de femei, an NGO in Chisinau. The two women might enjoy an actual meeting, and Elica might even have an idea of the whereabouts of her peripatetic spouse. Hawaii was thus an attractive starting place to undertake Fedoruk's errand. Possibly, too, the errand boy could visit the Islands on what the Moldovan slang-lover had called "the F.B.I. dime."
By now, the clock on Robinson's screen read 1:51. His inner clock told him he could keep working for one more hour before he needed to get to sleep in time to be alert at poolside with his family and Diodur tomorrow morning at eleven. He would use the remaining hour to make further conjectures about Geistmann's recent depredations.
What," he wondered, "has my friend, the maniac, been doing with himself over the past five years?"
In the allotted hour, systematic Robinson opened an e-file, and made a list of possibilities that took into account the profile he had himself compiled in March 2008, back in the days of the Joint Law Enforcement Task Force (JOLETAF), and of Arnold Weatherbee, its late lamented (sort of) Coordinator. The premise of the new list was that Geistmann's bête noire would still be hypocrisy. The list also took into account the detailed communication Robinson had received, at the time, from Pablo, the FBI. profiler who had also become a friend. By 2011, Dr. M. had been promoted to Chief Psychologist in the Bureau's Behavioral Sciences Unit.
As he began compiling the new list, Robinson wondered whether Weatherbee's P.A. and general factotum, Piet Dykstra, the techno-genius who had dubbed Armande Amrouche "Geistmann," was still languishing in a U.S. Federal prison. If so, which one? Since Weatherbee's had been Lewisburg, Dykstra was presumably locked away in a different one. Robinson guessed it was ADX Florence, in Colorado, "the Alcatraz of the Rockies."
He put Dkystra's name at the top of a sub-list, "People to Contact." Not that Geistmann was likely to be in touch with Piet (although, with Geistmann, who could say?) No, but from their early association, Dykstra knew a great deal about Geistmann's habits. Since Weatherbee was no longer available, at some point it might be worth Robinson's while to contact this surrogate.
Beginning with the Balkans, and, once again, Africa, both so rich in possibilities, Robinson returned to his list of hypothetical targets.
If readers are interested in Reading Geistmann, it is available as a free PDF from the author. Please visit www.ronsinger.net for contact information.
And Geistmann in Africa (Geistman II):
Article © Ron Singer. All rights reserved.
Published on 2022-05-09
Image(s) © Ron Singer. All rights reserved.