Fearing counterspies, Shunning social life, Under the English pseudonym Of Mr. John Lancaster Peck, Eternally in leather gloves - No fingerprints, you know - In the "Sovietskaya Hotel" Lived a certain non-Soviet chap. Usually at night and all alone, John Lancaster Clicked whatever it was That he hid His infrared lens in. And then in normal night There appeared in black and white "That which we value and love. That in which the collective takes pride." The club on Nagornaya Street Looked like a public toilet. Our own Central Market Became a dirty warehouse. Distorted by the microfilm, GUM resembled a little hut. And it would be indelicate to say What the Moscow Art Theater looked like. But working without subordinates Can be sad, can be boring. The enemy thought about it. Diabolically clever, He wrote a counterfeit check And, somewhere in the bowels of a restaurant, Good Citizen Epifan Was led astray By the non-Soviet chap. Epifan turned out to be hungry, Sly, smart, voracious. He knew no bounds In women and beer And didnít want to know any. So it turned out like this: Johnís subordinate was a find For the spy. It could happen to anyone Whoís drunk and wishy-washy. The first assignment: At three-fifteen, next to the public baths, Maybe earlier, maybe later, A taxi would drive up. Heíd get in, gag the driver, Play a simple thief, then later, Blare it over the BBC. And then: change clothes And go to an exhibition at the Manege, Where a man with a suitcase Would come up and say: "Would you like some cherries?" And you answer: "Of course!" Heíll give you a loaf of bread With explosives. Bring it back to me. "And for that, my drunken friend," He said to Epifan, "Thereíll be money, a house in Chicago And lots of women and cars ..." The enemy didnít realize, the idiot, That he was ordering around A Chekist, a major in intelligence And a fine family man. Even that master of such tricks, The very Mr. John Lancaster! He really slipped up. The notorious Mr. Peck. He was neutralized and even Clipped and thrown into jail. Then a peaceful Greek arrived At the Sovietskaya Hotel.
© H. William Tjalsma. Translation, 1982