Kasinski and his assistant preceded me through the pipe. Our direction seemed up, although from deep underground it was hard to tell. The cool air bit into my torso, now uncovered by the cashmere coat. I’d spent five thousand dollars of Agency money on that coat, which I had so casually handed over to the boy. I intended to extract a lot more than five thousand dollars from the Commissar, given the opportunity.

I was accustomed to jailers around the world. Whatever the country, they were not much different from one another. They selected the job because they had a penchant for controlling others. They also were usually mean-spirited people who blamed their mean-spiritedness on the prisoners they handled. Kasinski had just seemed different above ground. Down in the fetid misery of the underground cesspool of a gulag, he was in his element, fully exhibiting his true character.