Inside the Russian Embassy in London a KGB
colonel puffed a cigarette as he read the handwritten note for the
third time. There was no need for the writer to express regret,
he though. Correcting this problem would be easy. He would do that
in a moment. The thought of it caused a grim smile to appear and
joy to his heart. But he pushed away those thoughts and turned his
attention to a framed photograph on his desk. His wife was beautiful,
he told himself as he remembered the day they were married. That
was forty-three years ago, and it had been the proudest and happiest
day of his life.
What had happened to all that time? Why had
it passed so quickly, and why hadn’t he spent more of it with her?
Why hadn’t he held her close and told her more often that he loved
her? He cursed himself as a tear came from the corner of his eye,
ran down his cheek, then dropped onto the note. He stiffened and
wiped his face with the back of his hand. There was no need for
remorse or regret, he told himself. In a few moments he would join
her and at that time would express his undying love and devotion.
After setting the note ablaze he dropped
it into an ashtray and watched it burn. For a time the names cast
moving shadows on the walls of the darkened room, then they nickered
and died out. The colonel dropped the cigarette to the floor and
ground it out with his heel, then clutched the photograph to his
breast, removed a pistol from his pocket, placed the barrel in his
mouth and pulled the trigger. In the ashtray a small portion of
the note remained. Where it had been wetted by his tear it had failed
to bum, and on that scrap of paper were the words "died yesterday."