This is the abbreviated ending of my first novel “ORDERS are ORDERS” which is fiction based on fact, and you decide whether it or parts of it are fiction or are fact.

July 1961

At the time these events occurred, I had finished my assignment with the 3rd Marine Recon Battalion in Asia, had spent almost two years at Annapolis before voluntarily dropping out, had completed Marine Corps OCS training and officially was now a 2nd lieutenant.

Between OCS and Platoon Leader Training, I had four weeks of leave, and instead of taking it, I opted to stay on base and shoot as an alternate on the Marine rifle team in intermurals, competing against military teams from the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. We won all are matches and were invited to come to Russia the following week to shoot against their crack Army and Airforce teams at Levashovo military airfield near Leningrad (now St. Petersburg).

We were bused from Quantico to Dulles Airport where we boarded a Pan Am flight to London, and after a 4-hour layover there we transferred to an Aeroflot flight to Leningrad. On arriving late in the evening in Leningrad, we were taken to the Rossi Hotel overlooking the river downtown where they had double rooms with beer and snacks waiting for us.

In the morning, we dressed in our fatigues, and after a breakfast of Blintzes and terrible coffee, we were bussed to the rifle range at the Levashovo Military Airfield. When we arrived, there were three Russian teams waiting for us to begin the competition. There was the Army team, a team from the Air Force and supposedly Russia’s top team from the elite Spetsnaz Commandos.

I have a lot of details on the competition in the novel that I omitted here for brevity.

We did well in the competition and easily beat the Army and Air Force teams. Unfortunately, the Spetsnaz team beat us by a few points. I am sure our jet lag was the main problem as none of us shot as well as we normally would.

Following an amazing tour of the airbase, we went back to the hotel. After cleaning up and changing into Dress uniforms, we joined the Russian teams in the dining room for a celebratory banquet of borscht, roast duck, caviar, and lots of vodka toasts.

The next morning, we went on a minibus tour of the city to see all the famous sights, the Hermitage, the Summer Palace, the Peterhof Palace, etc.

That evening we had a banquet dinner again, but not near as formal as the first night. Also, instead of the other Russian teams joining us, we were joined by a bunch of Russian teenage students with their teachers who wanted to practice their English language skills. One of the teachers, a good-looking petite blond in her twenties, who spoke good English, spent a lot of time talking to me about America. She asked if I would join her privately for a drink later that evening in the hotel lobby bar. I figured what the hell, there was nothing to worry about as she was just a school teacher and we were only going to lobby, so I said, sure, I would like that.

Once everyone had left the dining room, I went back up to my room to freshen up and kill some time reading. At 8:00 PM, I told my roommate I was going down to the lobby for a drink, and if I got lucky, I might not be back for a while.

I headed down to the lobby, and the teacher “Sophia” was waiting for me at a table with a picturesque view of the river. She convinced me to try chilled pepper flavored vodka shots as those were her favorite. She continued to ask me all kinds of questions about America and what it was like to live there. After a few shots, the questions became more personal. A few more shots later, she put her hand on my thigh and told me she would like to get to know me much better. I said I would like that, and I would take you up to my room, but I have a roommate. I asked if she lived nearby and she said no, but she knew the manager of the hotel and could get us a room for a few hours.

Sophia got up and said she was going to talk to the manager and would be back in a few minutes. Sure enough a few minutes later, she returned with a big smile and a room key in her hand.

After I had paid the bill, we headed hand in hand over to the elevators. When the elevator arrived, we got in, and Sophia pushed the button for the 6th floor. After the door had closed, and the elevator started to rise, she wrapped her arms around me, pulled me against her and gave me a long, deep kiss. When we reached our floor, we were still kissing, while I was busily fondling her bottom.

We walked down the hall to the room and using the room key, Sophia opened the door. She then indicated for me to go in first, and I stepped inside. There were no lights on, and I vaguely remember sensing some motion on my left side when something crashed into my head. The next thing I remember was someone kneeling over me, holding a hypodermic needle that was stuck in my arm. I was then lifted and dragged down the hall to the freight elevator by two large men in overcoats.

When we exited the elevator on the ground floor, I tried to fight my way free and was rewarded by another hard blow to the back of my head. Don’t remember much after that. I vaguely recall a ride on the floor in the back of a van and being dragged up some stairs, and that is all.

When I woke up, I was in a small cell with a caged light on the ceiling, and no windows, that stunk of unwashed bodies and urine. I was lying on a cot with a worn, dirty blanket under me and no mattress. I sat up, and my head hurt terribly. When I gingerly touched it, I noticed I had two big bumps that were tender, but with no blood. My watch, shoes, and my belt were missing as was my jacket. My knees of both my trouser legs were torn, and when I inspected them, I noticed that both of my knees were badly scraped. It dawned on me that Sophia had lured me into a Honey Trap, and I was totally screwed.

I started banging on the door with my fist and yelling that I want to see the American Ambassador. Finally, the window at the top opened, and someone looked in and said, fuck you American, spit at me and then shut the window.

What seemed like several hours later the door of the cell opened, and two armed guards stepped inside and motioned with their AK-47s for me to get up and go out the door where two more guards were waiting. After they shackled my hands, I was forced to follow them down the hallway past other cell doors and down the stairs to an office. Inside the office was a man in a suit behind a desk. I was told to sit in a wooden chair in front of the desk. The original two guards stayed standing behind me, holding their weapons.

The man behind the desk looked up at me stared at me for a while and lit a cigarette. He then said, so this is the mysterious Hank, or should I say, Elliot? When I didn’t say anything, he proceeded to introduce himself and said his name was Vladimir Yefimovich Semichastny and that he just traveled all the way from Moscow just to meet me.

He opened the briefcase that was on the desk and withdrew a stack of papers and photos. He looked back up at me and asked me if I knew where I was?

 I said, no.

He replied, you are still in Leningrad and are at Bolshoy Dom or Big House as you would call it in English. You are the prisoner of the KGB.

I replied I was an American Marine Corps officer, a guest of your government, and I insist on seeing the American Ambassador. You can’t keep me, prisoner.

His reply to that was, don’t worry, we are not going to keep you long as our international socialist brethren in Vietnam want your company even more than we do. They are sending a plane here just for you. By this time tomorrow, you will be their responsibility.

He said you are probably hoping that your embassy will somehow rescue you, but you can forget it. They have no idea where you are now or where you are going. This morning after you disappeared, the American Embassy personnel and your teammates looked everywhere for you, but you had just vanished.

After a pause with a nasty smile at me, he continued. Let us get back to you and your crimes, Elliot. Nobody here got too excited about your shooting five Russian Political Officers as they are always easy to replace, but blowing up a general and two of his staff, was not something we could easily ignore.

I said I don’t know what he was talking about. He obviously had the wrong person. I had never been to Russia before.

He said he was not talking about Russia, he was talking about my adventures in North Vietnam.

I said I don’t know what you are talking about. I had never been to Vietnam.

He said enough of your as you say bullshit.

He said something to the guards in Russian and the next thing I knew, I was smacked across the side of my head by a rifle barrel and knocked out of my chair. When I got back up, I had a gash on the side of my head that was bleeding. He threw me a handkerchief and said, clean yourself up, I am through playing games with you.

He told me his boss, Chairman Shelepin, wanted my head, but Premier Khrushchev didn’t wish to do anything that might mess up his détente plans with America. He said I was also wanted for multiple murders in North Vietnam, and he was informed Ho Chi Minh had personally requested that we give you to them. They have promised Premier Khrushchev that if you were transferred to them that they would execute you, so that takes care of both of our problems.

I said I still don’t know what he was talking about; I had never been to Vietnam.

He shook his head, and I think he was about to have the guard strike me again, but changed his mind. After some thought he said, enough, would you like to hear all about our investigation and see the proof there is against you? 

I hesitated a bit and said, yes.

He shuffled through the stack of papers and began. Your ruse of pretending to be rogue French soldiers was surprisingly effective with the Vietnamese police and military investigators. They believed that all the killings were being carried out by some leftover French troops in retaliation for the slaughter at Dien Bien Phu. They were sure some stragglers had banded together and were doing all the killings. It helped them explain why Uncle Ho’s son was targeted.

We, however, were not convinced it was the French as the killings were just too widespread, and it did not explain why they were also killing Russian officers. It didn’t make sense to us, so we sent 4 of our top KGB investigators over to help in the investigation.

He then went through the extensive details of their investigation, how they determined it was Marines that had been doing all the killings and then on to how they conclusively identified the individuals actually involved, including me.

He continued, when we presented all the information, we had collected to General Giap and Chairman Shelepin the decision was made to issue murder warrants in North Vietnam and Russia for all the sharpshooters directly involved in the killings. And you Elliot, because of your particularly brazen exploits, made the top of our list.

When they saw your name on the list of Marine competitors coming to Leningrad, we were ecstatic and knew we had the perfect chance to arrest you. We could not believe how stupid you were to come here. All we would need to covertly entrap you is to find a good-looking young lady that you could not resist.

That evening the door to my cell was opened, and two guards entered, accompanied by a Vietnamese officer. They shackled my hands and feet and put a hood was over my head. They then led me out of my cell, down the stairs into a van and transported me back to Levashovo Airfield to be flown to Hanoi for what I presumed was my inevitable execution.

In the ending of my novel, I was executed, so obviously that was fiction.