My Ex-Cousin Sasha, The Russian Spy Redux

The Best Of The Zola System

Spring, 1997.

The Old Man was on my answering machine.His monotone voice, that cross between Jackie Mason and Bela Lugosi left his usual message “Alex, this is your father.Call me back as soon as you can.”Although I heard that same message three times a week it always scared the shit out of me.It always sounded like Dad was calling to tell me the dog just died.

I called right back, anticipating the worst although I knew there was nothing wrong or even amiss.In truth, he hated Phoenix, missed Detroit and just wanted to talk to his oldest son about Jews, the Purple Gang, Detroit, why he hated his sisters, how much the world, Mother, my brothers annoyed him and why I was a piece of dreck.I survived Hitler so you could act like this?It’s nice to be loved.

He answered the phone on the second ring.“Do you have a pen, a piece of paper,” he asked.“Good.Write this down.I have a story for you,” he said.A few days earlier, the Old Man got a call from a Federal Detention Center.“Your ex-cousin Sasha from Miami.He’s being deported.”

Sasha wasn’t actually my cousin.He was my cousin Yvetta’s second husband.She met Sasha; a fellow Russian émigré shortly after my father had bought Yvetta and her husband Viktor, and her parents Leah and Pavel out of the Soviet Union in 1975.(The Soviets demanded cash payoffs from rich American Jewish relatives to let Refusniks apply for Exit Visas.)Viktor found himself in divorce court later within a year Yvetta and Sasha were married.

When Mother and the Old Man took us to Florida for Spring Break in 1978, my brothers and I met Yvetta and Sasha for the first time.Yvetta showed us pictures of Sasha, who looked like some soon to be ancient mariner with his graying blonde hair and curly white jaw line beard, before he came home from work.“He helps the Russians in Florida,” she told us with pride.

Later on Sasha took me into his study and showed me slides of Moscow, telling me how wonderful Mother Russia was.Not a minute into Sasha’s tales of Russia’s beauty, my father grabbed me by the shoulder and yanked me out of the room.“Judy, the boys are NEVER to be alone with that son of a bitch,” he told my Mother on the ride back to the hotel.Mother wanted to know why, after all Sasha was family.

“Because he’s a fucking spy,” he said, blowing the smoke from his huge Te Amo cigar all through the new Cadillac.Frankly, we all thought the Old Man had flipped.

“He’s not a spy Aron.He’s harmless,” Mother shook her head.

“Judy, I know Russians and I’m telling you he’s a fucking spy.”

Mother let the matter drop.The Old Man hated the Russians with a passion most reserve for fine wine, beautiful women or music.If he thought Sasha was a spy, better to let him wallow in his paranoia.Besides the next day we were leaving for our yearly jaunt to the Keys anyway.

I never saw Sasha again.He and Yvetta divorced in the late 1980’s.She never told anyone why she sued for divorce but we all assumed break-up must have been nasty, as she never spoke to him/about him again.Aron couldn’t have been happier.

“Why are they deporting Sasha,” I asked.

“Because he’s a fucking spy,” the Old Man screamed.After his marriage to Yvetta collapsed, Sasha moved to Texas and was gathering industrial/agricultural secrets and giving them to the KGB.Apparently he’d been doing this in Miami as well.

He called the Old Man to because Sasha respected him, his accomplishments in America and wanted to say goodbye.“I told that KGB asshole to fuck off,” he told me proudly.

“Don’t they know they lost the war,” I asked.

“Trust me, they’re more fucking Russian spies in the country, a shitload more.You see, the Russians don’t think they lost the war; they think they just lost a battle.They play chess and we play checkers.Never forget kid, the only difference between Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany is gulags and concentration camps.”

Aldrich AmesRobert HanssenRobert Lipka, plus the recent bust of 8 alleged deep cover agents has me wondering if I’m going to have admit the Old Man was right about something else…aside from card tricks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Every Friday, get 2 for 1 movie tickets when you use your Visa Signature card.

Recent Comments