a novel by Rolf A. F. Witzsche
Episode 1 of the series The Lodging for the Rose
**(March 2008 Edition)
Nicolai was secretive, mysterious, veiled, like his country had been during the Soviet era. He was an extraordinary man, though he rarely allowed himself to show his face openly unless there was a deeply underlying reason for it. Nor did he involve himself in anything trivial. There was always a purpose for what he did, even if it made no sense at the time.
Once he traveled half way around the world to talk about a problem that could have been discussed on the phone, which turned out to be the root of something much bigger. The fact that he sent Captain Yuri Brovikov in his stead seemed to indicate that something big had happened, something important that couldn't wait, or that he couldn't convey to us himself.
Had the tragedy happened that we all had struggled so hard to avoid? Too much had changed in the world, too suddenly and tragically. As so often in the past, we would hear about the details from Nicolai in his own way.
I surmised that Nicolai had relayed the letter to the captain, and had relied on him to get it delivered to us since the phone lines were down. Nicolai would have known that Yuri's submarine could reach our station quickly. "Yuri, I'm glad I can trust you with this," he might have told the captain in his usual manner that always commanded respect. "Yuri, this may be the biggest mission of your career," he might have added.
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from novels by Rolf A. F. Witzsche
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