At a KGB office in Moscow, a tape on a cassette machine was spinning out garbled English words. Every member of the Politburo was seated around it, headphones in place and pencils poised to capture any incriminating disclosures.
[quoteright]It had long been known that the beauty parlor located near the headquarters of the Soviet mission to the United Nations was a front for the CIA, but no Russian agent had been able to get in to prove it. The evidence was here, on tape. A number of calls went in and out of the beauty parlor, most of which were just routine appointments. Finally, somebody slipped up. The truth was out. In KGB hands was a tape of a tape, sent over the short wave radio. Most of the words were inaudible, but the parts that could be heard more than made up for any gaps.
"Good morning...order..." Not a request, mind you, but an order. "Five submarines...craft...raid...army..." An invasion! But where? When? "Between 1:00 p.m. and 1:30." Good lord! It was already noon, New York time! "Make sure it's not overdone...jam." So they'd get into a jam if the invasion went too far, would they? This was beginning to sound like another Grenada. Perhaps forces were being mustered to march into Nicaragua. Or Cuba. Submarines would indicate a sea approach. Wait a minute–how far was the Soviet mission from the East River? It was too late to try to get another tape. They would have to act. They would get every mission underling's wife into that beauty parlor on the double.
AU up and down mission row was heard, "Are you saying I'm not beautiful? Is there someone else? What does she have that I don't have?"
It was 1:15. The women were refusing to perform their patriotic duty. Someone would have to crash in and confront the conspirators. Mission members drew names from a hat. "Volunteers" were chosen, given guns, put in bulletproof vests, and shoved in the direction of the beauty parlor. Through the half-open door they could hear:
"So I told Mildred, 'If you don't love him any more, just withdraw all the money out of the bank account and go to Reno. That's what I did with my fourth husband.' Oh, for crying out loud, I told the deli to make sure the roast beef in this submarine wasn't burnt, and look what they did to me. This is shoe leather! Kraft cheese, my eye, foot, and tooth. More like yellow foam rubber. Don't bother spraying the Raid around. Even the bugs wouldn't eat this. Five sandwiches in one take-out bag. And I asked him to make them big enough to feed an army! They really will be in a jam when I tell the boss about this!"
Outside, thirty Russians were laughing hysterically. A plot! A conspiracy! It was just a lunch order! They would never live this down. They'd be ordered back to Moscow. At that very moment, the KGB was trying, unsuccessfully, to establish contact with the New York mission. Missiles were pointed toward every hostile continent and toward the beauty parlor. Whoever sent that blasted tape? A plot!
"Did it work?"
"Yeah. They'll be carted off the Bellevue any minute. They'll be in the loony bin for years. Great idea of yours."
"No problem. Any time you need our help, just say something subversive over the phone, and we'll be here in a jiffy."
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