The Spy Who Stayed Out In The Cold
Man is the creation of an all-powerful, all-good, and all-seeing God. What is sin, the conception of which arises from the consciousness of man's freedom? That is a question for theology.The actions of men are subject to general immutable laws expressed in statistics. What is man's responsibility to society, the conception of which results from the conception of freedom? That is a question for jurisprudence.Man's actions proceed from his innate character and the motives acting upon him. What is conscience and the perception of right and wrong in actions that follows from the consciousness of freedom? That is a question for ethics.
----LEO TOLSTOY, WAR AND PEACEPrologue
FOXSTONE PARK ISN'T MUCH OF one. The long, narrow stretch of Northern Virginia woods is in reality a fourteen-acre floodplain that forms small lakes each time it rains. Casual strollers have to step gingerly at those times or risk returning home with wet feet. And today, February 18, 2001, Foxstone is not just a sea of puddles and ponds. It is in total disarray.Broken branches are strewn over the black asphalt path that runs northwesterly nearly two miles from the corner of East Street and Ayr Hill Avenue. At the end it culminates in a small basketball court and a tot lot of swings and slides. Midway, the park is broken up by Creek Crossing Road, which one has to cross if walking Foxstone's full length. But traffic is light on this suburban thoroughfare. Mothers and children out for a Sunday stroll have rarely had problems traversing its two narrow lanes.To the left of the asphalt path is a small stream some twenty feet wide. On February 18 it is littered with raggedy strands of indestructible plastic, blue and gold cans of cheap beer labeled Busch Bavarian and Milwaukee's Best, and old, graying paper coffee cups. The beer containers have been tossed there by teens seeking the still forbidden taste of alcohol.The blue and gold beer cans seem impervious to fading or rusting. They glitter in the water. The empty cans and the polyethylene remnants clinging to the barbed vines at the water'sedge will have to wait. The county's cleanup crew isn't scheduled to arrive for a month. Then they will remove the trash along with the twigs and branches that have been blown to the ground by the winds. In the parks of the county, the garbage collectors are among the first heralds of spring.The stream is named Wolf Trap, an ubiquitous name in these parts that has been tacked onto roads, subdivisions, and even delicatessens. The best-known Wolf Trap is a nearby hundred-acre performing arts center that boasts a 6,800-seat covered amphitheater and draws pop performers ranging from Tony Bennett to Willie Nelson. Wolf Trap runs into a larger creek called Difficult Run, which meanders for miles before emptying into the Potomac River. The Potomac separates Washington from Virginia as it flows east, emptying toward and into the great Chesapeake Bay.Foxstone Park is inside the Vienna town limits. This Vienna is not the Austrian city of music and intrigue, but a self-governed village inside Fairfax County, some thirteen miles west of the White House in Washington. Its residents are, for the most part, government workers. Vienna's main street, called Maple Avenue, is really a state highway, Route 123, and if you drive north five miles from the center of Vienna, the road runs directly by the entrance to the headquarters of the CIA.At noon on this day Foxstone Park is a stage, set for optimism. Perhaps it is the bright sun. Warmer weather is only weeks away, and although it will likely snow again, somehow you can feel the warmth coming. At midday the temperature hovers near thirty degrees Fahrenheit in the woods, and after dark it is predicted to be back in the low twenties. But spring is coming, and after a colder-than-normal winter, the season will be welcome. The tulip poplar trees, so prevalent in the park, will flower, and what are now bare patches of honeysuckle and blackberry vines will turn green with leaves that hide their thorns. You can alreadysee buds forming on the forsythia bushes and the green shoots of jonquils starting to spike upward between the trees.Rabbits eat this greenery, and their numbers have grown so large the children and their mothers have begun calling Foxstone "the bunny park." The rabbits breed two or three times each year, the mothers birthing between five and seven bunnies each time. You can walk through the woods in the springtime and be virtually assured of seeing at least one hare, usually lying so still it seems you could reach out and touch the animal before it feels your presence and darts away.Their predators are red foxes, horned owls, and hawks, who swoop down from the sky to eat the younger rabbits. Still, there are just too many of the furry creatures. The foxes breed only once a year, and their maximum litter is three kits. Foxes have to face automobiles in the suburbs, and their street crossings are often poorly timed. It is common to see them dead on a road, their carcasses becoming flatter with each passing car. Rabbits prefer to stay in the park; they won't go near a street. So the birds of prey and the foxes feast, but they can't keep up with what seems to be an endless buffet provided by Mother Nature.A country club's golf course runs along one side of the park between the East Street entrance and the Creek Crossing break. On the other side a walker can see the backyards of brick and vinyl-sided suburban mini-manses whose most distinctive features are their mansard roofs. In this part of the park you can see dimpled white balls half-buried in the mud of the stream looking a bit like duck eggs, the product of cold-weather duffers whose drives have gone wrong.You have to cross four bridges to get from one end of the park to the other, such is the serpentine shape of the Wolf Trap stream. The bridges have rusty metal sides with a flooring of wooden planks. The structures are not handmade but rather have been manufactured on an assembly line. If you look closely, youwill notice a small metal plaque warning that the bridge is for pedestrian traffic only. MAXIMUM LOAD, FIVE TONS, the tiny sign reads, and below that, MADE BY BILTOLAST PRODUCTS, FORT PAYNE, ALABAMA. American corporate efficiency is alive and well in Foxstone Park, Virginia. The joggers and dog walkers who comprise the bulk of the visitors to the park in winter rarely notice these details. But, come at the right time, and you might find another of the park's regular visitors, a man who notices all the details. He was once rail-thin but has become soft and fleshy with age. He is tall, six-foot-two or -three, with a long, pointy nose. If you were to see him from the side, you might notice his old man's paunch that speaks of south Florida, white belts, and early-bird buffet dinners.His brown eyes dart everywhere, even though he knows the park like the back of his hand. Just like the trios of white-tailed deer who live here, he too sometimes looks like an apparition, appearing seemingly out of nowhere, either at dawn, dusk, or in the dead of night. He is not always alone, often showing up with a dog, a mixed black Lab. The man tries to enter the park differently each time. He strolls in where the path begins at the corner of East Street and Ayr Hill Avenue. On another day he will park a silver 1997 Taurus just off Creek Crossing Road next to the Vienna water-pumping station and enter the path there. At other times he might drive slowly by an entrance, come to a rolling stop, and then speed away. There is a third entrance too, just off Talisman Drive and less than a mile from the man's house. It may be his favorite.The man lives on that street, and when he bought his house in 1987, at 9414 Talisman Drive, he thought the name a fortunate omen. A talisman is a good-luck charm, and back then, when he made his down payment on the home and moved in with a loving wife and six beautiful children, he knew there would be times when he would need all the luck in the world to survive the course he had chosen. It will turn out that even all the luck in the universe won't be enough to save him.THE SPY WHO STAYED OUT IN THE COLD. Copyright © 2001 by Adrian Havill. All rights reserved. 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