Magazine article The New Yorker

Still Looking

Magazine article The New Yorker

Still Looking

Article excerpt


Its gripping, foot-on-the-gas plot touches on the fall of the Berlin Wall, stolen Stasi files, and a missing thermonuclear warhead.

--From a book review in the Times.

A: It was right here a minute ago.

B: Think back. What were you doing when you saw it last?

A: I remember the Berlin Wall was falling, I had just got up to put the wash in the dryer, and it was on the coffee table, in its wood-and-molybdenum caddy. I drove down to the Laundro, shot several policemen, and ran over a fruit seller. Yes, I specifically remember the oranges rolling all over the street in my rearview mirror. And when I finally got back home it was gone.

B: Have you looked behind the refrigerator?

A: Of course. That's the first place I thought of.

B: So you must have put it somewhere. What did you do after the laundromat?

A: I went out to get a pack of smokes at the corner. I noticed five helicopters following me, and I realized that they were homing in on a tracking device that somebody had sewn into my clothes. I started to run, shedding my shirt, my shoes, my socks, and my trousers. As I got to the upper level of the Oberbaum Bridge, I guessed that the transmitter must be in my boxer shorts, so I took them off, too, and threw them into the Spree just as the missiles hit them and blew them up. When I got home, I was exhausted and took a short nap.

B: I know where it must be! Did you leave it plugged into the charger?

A: It doesn't need a charger. It uses fission first, and then fusion.

B: Do you suppose the cleaning people might have done something with it?

A: (Inaudible .)

C: I was the girlfriend of the two individuals whose dialogue, taken from surveillance, is transcribed above. The three of us lived in a flat, which is what they call an apartment in Germany. I would have to hear the actual tape to know which of the speakers is A and which is B. They were not the ones who stole the Stasi files--that was me. I had a reusable shopping bag with a picture of Christa Wolf on it, in which I smuggled the files out of Stasi headquarters. I took hundreds and hundreds. Most were regular rat-tail files, but there were also plenty of nail files, cuticle files, and two-handed carpentry files. I also stole a lot of rasps, but somehow no one ever cared about those.

When the thermonuclear warhead turned up missing, we were all frantic, of course. …

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