This is the first book trailer video that I have produced. I used for the stock photos and for the music. Elements were created and assembled using the Adobe Creative Cloud (the learning curb has been steep!). Video production was done inside Adobe Premiere Pro. Some of the transitions didn’t translate into the mp4 format as well as I would have like (they looked better in my video previewer), but all in all I am very happy with the end result. I look forward to your feedback in the comments section.

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The Berlin Wall

Nothing else symbolized the stark struggle of the Cold War quite like the Berlin Wall. As a young American expat living in Spain in the early 1970s, I lived with constant reminders and vestiges of 1940s Europe coupled with the realities of the West’s struggles with Communism. Socialists of a different stripe, the Fascist regime of Franco was no fonder of the Soviets than we were.

I remember one particular morning when the mechanic on our street called me into his shop. An American serviceman was there with his family. Their car had broken down and the mechanic needed an interpreter. Sadly, I wasn’t much help as I had lost most of my functional use of English by then. I called one of my siblings over and our families soon became fast friends. The father of the family was a U.S. Army serviceman stationed in Frankfurt. His wife was German. At fourteen, she had made her way out of East Berlin across the death strip with her mother. The Wall wasn’t a news story to me. It was malevolent and real.

Standing at the Brandenburg Gate on June 12, 1987, President Ronald Reagan issued a clear challenge to Mikhail Gorbachev, the head of the Soviet State. “Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” As Reagan predicted it would, the Wall fell in the face of faith, truth, and freedom.

A Cold War story would be incomplete without an attempted defection under the shadow of the Wall. Submitted for your enjoyment is Chapter 3 of Gypsy Spy, “Defection”.

Victor Bendercoff had converted the bottom floor of an abandoned building into an interrogation post and holding cell. He liked gleaning information from his “detainees” outside of the hearing walls and halls of the Kremlin. Not only was he able to keep some information as bargaining chips for himself, he was also able to intimidate his captives better in the primitive surroundings of the long unused edifice. Today’s catch would be most rewarding.

He had had Yuri Velhoussen under surveillance by request of his superiors for the past four months. At his insistence, they had given him clearance to information on the project Dr. Velhoussen had been directing in Prague. The information was frightening. If he had been successful in defecting to the West, it would have marked the end of the Soviet Union as a superpower. His superiors held the suspicion that Velhoussen had developed a more powerful weapon privately than the one he had manufactured under government supervision in the secret basement labs of the University. His first goal in the job had been achieved. He had, on a tip, found Velhoussen in East Berlin. He had also been able to capture the Western agent who was leading him over to the other side. His superiors would enjoy making a media circus of the man after all the interrogations were complete.

Victor kept the detention van in his rearview mirror as he turned into the short driveway that had been cut into the cracked sidewalk. With his remote control, he opened the wide, louvered door which led into his special small-scale, high-security prison. He hit the remote control again when he saw that the van was all the way in the building. He parked his sedan and got out. His two guards in the van got out and headed to the rear of the vehicle. Immediately, he heard loud obscenities. He ran over to them to see what the matter was. Propped up in the padded cube was Professor Yuri Velhoussen, renowned physicist, his chest awash in blood. There was no sign of their other captive. The charred metal around where the door latch used to be told its tale.

“How?” his man asked, eyes wide open and jaw slack. Victor kicked the door shut. His anger not satisfied, he punched the driver knocking him to the floor.

“It doesn’t look good for either of you,” Victor said.


Charles Drake waited for a full hour past the rendezvous time. He lit a cigarette and decided to wait a little longer. If this defection went well, they wouldn’t have to be concerned over the unification of Europe. But it was already obvious something had gone wrong. He had hand-picked the guide for this mission. The papers had been falsified by one of the best counterfeiters “recruited” by the Secret Service. They had poured over the details of this plan for months prior to the operation. A half-hour and three cigarettes later, Drake walked away from the Wall in disgust.

Once back at the embassy, he checked his coded messages file. A single sheet lay inside. He deciphered the text and read, “Phoenix, Blackhawk. Code Red. Outcome Blue/Black. Coordinate Schedule C.” Code Red: his guide had been intercepted. Outcome Blue/Black: the defector had been captured and killed. Coordinate Schedule C: they would meet in two days at a bar in Bonn. Drake sighed heavily. Why had they killed him? Had reports of the sun filter been exaggerated? Did the Soviets not need the scientist? Had he tried to resist capture? Had the Leoppard struck?

He picked up his red phone. He dialed the number. After four rings someone picked up. “Secure line,” he said.

“Secure line,” a voice replied.

“Set Operation Tiger fully active.”

“The buttons are set.”

“We can’t miss this time.”

“We won’t. The piece falls this time.” On that assurance, Drake hung up. He reached into his desk drawer and pulled out a pint of whiskey. He gulped a heavy shot and leaned back into his chair. The piece better fall this time, he thought, or God help us all.

In the Fog

I was born in coastal California, spent some very formative years on the Mediterranean coast of Spain, and have lived in coastal Virginia for the past twenty-seven years. There is no fog quite like sea fog! I loved taking walks with my father when I was a kid. He set the pattern early as I followed him on foot from Michigan to New York when I was six. These memories combined and went through the imagination filter. Some of the end results can bee seen in Chapter 1 of Gypsy Spy, “In the Fog.” Enjoy!

The sea fog swirled around him, momentarily revealing glimpses of the world he had left behind upon entering the milky wonderland. It exhilarated him. He was invisible, able to float through the streets unseen, unknown, unmolested. A smile broke upon his face and he could scarcely contain himself from running for joy. But he knew that he couldn’t stray far from the clicking heels of his father.

Were he older, he might have discerned that the comfort he felt didn’t come from the thick fog which came rolling off of the Mediterranean. Rather, it came from the fact that he was walking in it with his father. The warmth he felt was his father’s love. The safety which hugged round about him was brought about by his father’s watchful care. The joy which bubbled in his soul came from the sure knowledge that he was alone with his papa, encased in their private cocoon of alabaster.

“Do you have your marbles with you?” his father asked.

Si, papa.

“English, boy. English. You’ll need it one day.”

“Yes, father.”

“Better. Now, do you have your marbles with you?”

“Yes, sir. I only won ten yesterday. Nobody else wanted to play with me.”

“I imagine not, after a performance like that. I want you to do something for me, okay?”

“Anything,” said the boy, a smile in his voice. Do something for his father? The slightest opportunity to be of help to him made the boy ecstatic.

“Do you remember when we threw stones into the canal together?”

“Yes, you taught me how to hit the oranges that were floating in the water.”

“Exactly. I want you to do something similar this morning. I want you to keep walking in this direction. The instant you see a lamp post, I want you to try and hit it with one of your marbles, understand?”

“Hit the light?”

“No. Hit the post.”

“But won’t I lose the marbles if I throw them?” said the boy, a shadow crossing his brow at the strange request.

“Yes, you will lose them. I want you to throw and keep walking. With each one you see and hit, walk faster, understood?”

“But I won these marbles fairly,” he said, defending his treasure by placing protective hands over his bulging shorts’ pockets.

“I know you did. And I am sure you will win more,” his father reassured him, while looking nervously back over his shoulder.

“How can I win any more if I throw all the ones I have away?” asked the child, tenaciously trying to keep them in his possession.

“I’ll replace them,” said the father in an even voice, his jaw clenched tightly. “Now, will you do as I ask?”

“Is this another game?” asked the boy, defensiveness giving way to mirth.

“Yes. Can you do it as I described?”

“Sure. It’ll be fun. I go faster at each one?”

“Yes. Can you do it?”

Creo que puedo,” confessed the boy with confidence.

“Wonderful. Begin.”

Shane allowed the boy to slowly get ahead of him. He was three feet behind him when the first lamp post materialized within their swirling world of white. In the space of an eye-blink, he heard glass strike metal. His son’s pace increased. He kept his steady. A minute later he heard the sound before the street light came into view. He stopped at the pole and waited. A background hum had begun in the city. A sharp “tink” echoed briefly in the street followed by the sound of heels on concrete. He smiled. Right on time, he thought.

Extracting a cigarette, he resumed walking, now faster than before. Timing was crucial. He led his tail to the sound of impacting marbles, glass on metal. His heart rate increased. He removed his overcoat, reversed it to its off-white side, and donned it with the hood up. Within one lamp post of his son, he stopped, lit the cigarette, and inhaled deeply.

Glass on metal, the sound of sandaled feet breaking into a run. A few seconds later, a man broke into Shane’s field of vision running fast. Shane took a long drag on his cigarette, a casual observer obscured by the fog. As the man came up beside him, he flicked the burning stick with impossible accuracy into the man’s right eye. The man almost stumbled in his attempt to stop, spin, draw his pistol, and face his assailant.

Shane whipped out the belt of his coat wrapping it around the man’s extended right arm. He pulled himself into the man’s surprised embrace. In one fluid motion, he slammed his left elbow into the chaser’s solar plexus, yanked the gun arm down across his rising right thigh, and rolled his pursuer onto the ground. He grabbed the man’s wrist in both hands and twisted the arm violently, further injuring the broken elbow, while at the same time planting his right heel on the man’s throat to cut short any exclamation of pain. The gun clattered useless to the sidewalk. One final twist of the injured arm, and the man blacked out.

Shane took a deep breath and listened. Very distant now, glass on metal. Not much time, he thought. Quickly, he dragged the man up to the side of a building. He extracted a bottle of brandy from his coat pocket and emptied half its contents on the man’s chest. He placed the bottle in the man’s right hand and wrapped the unconscious fingers around its neck after unwinding the belt from around the wrist. Not very original, he conceded to himself, but it may appease the curious passerby for a while. Besides, once they did discover him to be out of his senses, it would be a while before they would check for injuries. Especially since the bottle was held by the damaged appendage. He reversed the raincoat back to its tweed side and ran to catch up with his son.

“I hit all fifteen of them,” said the boy proudly. He had waited for his father at the last lamp post. “Did I score well in this game, papa?”

“Very well, son.” The fog was thinning out, slowly burning away under the influence of a spring sun. As the first rays broke in on their world, Shane could see the glitter of powdered glass lying round about the lamp post. He looked up and saw that the light was still intact, then looked to his son in disbelief.

“I saved the biggest for last,” said the boy. Shane shook his head slowly. He extracted another cigarette from the pack, lit it, and inhaled deeply. He wrapped his arm around his seven-year-old son’s shoulders and commenced walking again. Very well, he thought, very well indeed.

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