Prologue- May or may not use this in the completed book, “Golden Bear” Enjoy as a teaser. Thanks to Bradley Communications in Philadelphia for previous help with meeting TV producers and others. I like Patton who my US general uncle worked for more than Bradley, though. “Audacity, audacity…”
Golden Bear . copyright Peter Dash. All rights reserved.
By Peter Dash
Prologue, Moscow/ Washington
May Day, 2025
“Moscow is boiling over with hate and hot weather. It could explode – anytime.” reported the outgoing US ambassador to Moscow, Samuel S. Sewell.
He had enough of the place and hoped he would survive it. “The city has never seen such total chaos and calamity since the days of the bloody Russian Revolution,” he added.
Besides receiving the disdain of the Kremlin and Moscow Main Street, he felt “spit upon” by too many of his superiors back in Washington. It was as if they all blamed him for the mess in Russia, making him a kind of superman of destruction.
It was always that way either with the politicians or mobs. They wanted a scapegoat for their own failures and felt that he was largely it.
He had had enough of protesters getting too close for comfort to his limousine in their fury. He had enough of the rotten eggs. He had enough of the nasty, anti-US, laser-light shows projected on front of the Bolshoi theatre.
One show had made the US president look like a monkey eating a banana and him picking up the peel. “You should have sent in the marines and shot those lights out,” was the response of the chair of the US Senate Committee on Armed Services. Sewell could not forget that senator’s, wild flashing eyes that day. He was a big shot, Washington insider who had demanded his recall.
Worse than the crazed senator reflected the ambassador, but not by so much are the rioters. They are everywhere even down Tverskaya, the so-called empress of boulevards.
There, the ambassador’s chauffeur turns the car hard to avoid hitting a desperate, well-dressed female shopper. She is instead being run down by a half-naked man with a hatchet. And a socialist slogan.
Sewell rolls down the window, gets half out of his seat and yells at the madman. But his primal instinct to go out and clobber the lunatic is restrained. After all, the doors are locked and the car is moving too fast.
And oh yes, the president still wants his ambassador back in one piece. That is even if Sewell seems on a confused, one man suicide mission to push Russia to love America.
He sits down, calms down and tries to just think of the better sights. Like Tverskaya, that still remains an impressive artery ending in a spectacular mystical view of the Kremlin. What started as an ancient timber fort has now the most incredible defenses with red stone high towers connected to tall, ancient and impenetrable thick walls.
Somehow in his mind the walls seemingly dominate and increasingly bear down on the people. This reflects the ambassador’s additional problem according to his doctor. He is becoming a manic depressive given his compulsion of seeing such visions of the Kremlin crumbling.
“Sewell , you’ve been in too many hardship posts for so many years,” his psychiatrist adds. “Just go home is my prescription. Before you start feeling like you’re a total loser.” Compliments everywhere even from his therapist, he ironically surmises.
Sewell cocked his head and thought whatever the madness that had gripped the city – or even him, how he would miss some of these magical views. In the calm, there had been uninterrupted elegance of the beautifully gardened boulevards and grand old hotels.
There were wondrous sights including the immense gold dome of the grand cathedral. The huge icon was rebuilt stone by stone many decades after the brutal Russian and atheist leader, Joseph Stalin had demolished it in the 1930s.
The remains from the demolition,including the marble was used to make one of the world’s most palatial looking subways It has chandeliers and various Art Deco designs, still adorned with celebrations of workers from the Soviet days.
And oh yes, and a few busts of communist leaders like Lenin. They were clearly not completely forgotten by today’s street masses.
There were as well magnificent galleries and museums. And not to forget, the distinctly Russian, pink baroque stonework incorporated into palaces and monasteries surrounded by broad sweeping parks. One even somewhat dwarfs New York’s Central Park in size.
Thinking of monasteries, Sewell could not help wondering about his new posting in Ottawa, Canada. It was considered the graveyard of western postings, a no happening place. But it was quiet. His kind of quiet given what he now faced.
Yes, given what had happened that year, Sewell considered that even becoming a Buddhist monk would not be so bad of a career change.
The ambassador with that thought started to break out in uncontrolled laughter. He was so loud, he caught the attention of his driver despite the glass barrier.
Monastic life, humorously reflected Sewell, might have its virtues but he was not quite ready in seeking nirvana.
He was instead still too caught up with just surviving the petty politics of his bosses at Foggey Bottom, State Department HQ than worrying about going to a heaven. But with the news he had received from the CIA that day, he had second thoughts about not concerning himself with where his soul was going.
He then looked at his chauffeur who smiled back in the rearview mirror. He may of wished that Sewell had shared his joke. But that was not how Sewell worked.
The partition between his driver and him remained in place as he was essentially a private man. And by necessity he was carefully discrete, especially in the current day Moscow of intrigue and spies.
As his car, a Hummer extended limousine version proceeded further down Tverskaya, he thought, indeed that the neighborhood was bordered by the best luxury hotels and eateries.
In them his immediate staff would meet the very top business grandees of Moscow otherwise referred to as oligarchs or what he called 3Ms. They stood for Moscow Murder Mafia Inc in his telexes to Washington. His abbreviated writing was appreciated at State on such matters if not his overall efficiency.
Returning at looking at the street, he thought of the Ritz Carleton at one end and the classical Pushkin Cafe several blocks up. He wished he had been headed to either one. Instead, he was on his way to a drab foreboding Russian government building; the meeting within which he truly dreaded.
He preferred to think further about the Tverskaya as his limousine continued down it for miles. It was like immense Russia – seemingly hard to measure, wide and practically without end. His journey that day seemed the same.
Of the Pushkin Café, an old mansion hus car was passing near, he remembered how it was beautifully lit up at night. All across from the peaceful park with its parade of graceful trees, ponds and lengths of well presented colorful photos of raw nature including much Russian wildlife. The ice sculptures in the foreboding cold, but crisp white snowy winter were another delight.
He sentimentally waved to the café and park given how much he would miss them. A pedestrian passing by looked at him. He was surly and offended. He was thinking that Sewell was waving to him.
It seemed like the ambassador couldn’t win with anybody or anywhere in the country. And he still could not get used to the very unsmiling and instinctually suspicious Russian people.
He paused looking at his mobile phone for messages. None. It was as if nobody anymore thought that he mattered.
The ambassador then returned to his nostalgic thoughts of the old classy service, which was still in vogue in the dim but quaint, well preserved, historic Pushkin. It was named after the great popular Russian poet who had died in a pistol duel. Tragedy too, he thought was no stranger to Russia, nor fighting to death over pride.
The Pushkin or the Ritz or many other such places despite their elegance and security are not fully spared by mobs. They are furious as to how the elites eat and live within while they scramble for crumbs. They volunteer to duel anyone but with their firsts.
In contrast to the hotel elegance, his car after several minutes passes a different, more eerie looking gothic style building of the foreign affairs ministry. A place where he had received his first briefing from Russian officials.
It is a dour grey stoned, wedding cake shape but with great height and promise. It is part of a set of several similar buildings built under Stalin and with slave labour -in fact, one of the “Seven Sisters.” “Not much of a family feeling,” he says in dry wit to himself.
Well, Sewell then thought hard of its promises trying to be more objectively positive about Stslin’s touches. And wondered what he had meant and whether he was daft? He finally figured it out with a chuckle.
A so-called decent McDonald’s was around the corner that average American tourists found convenient and affordable, if not so digestible. That is when Russian counter-sanctions to western ones did not get it closed. The view from the top of the ministry was kind of nice, too.
The ambassador sees that the McDonald’s, as well as the Starbucks are still full enough despite how many Muscovites seem to be so peeved with his country or going totally broke. Even the hatchet carrying man seemed to be wearing American designer jeans.
He types all that into his report as an annotation to placate his superiors in Foggey Bottom. He wants to help convince them that all is not lost. It is like throwing a few bacon bits to hungry sharks who really are seeking him as the main course.
On the other side of town, three kilometres westward to where some of the mobs moved on, they join others, already in the thousands. They threaten to pour into what they call the Russian “White House”.
The White House is famed for the shots of it in historic TV film footage of it being blown into by tanks in the immediate aftermath of the splintering Soviet Union of 45 years ago. A country, for the previous 60 years prior to that event had an extreme left-wing dictatorship and massive superpower status. It was one that made Washington stay on constant military alert in what was called the “Cold War.”
The White House though is now slightly safer than back in the early 1990s collapse days of the Soviet Empire. It is a tall, cold white edification of Soviet unimaginative architecture and oppression, he further reflects. But it is now the so-called bureaucratic brain centre of the new authoritarian Russia through which he must pass on exit as a matter of protocol.
The building, with multi-layers full of apparatchiks, overshadows drowning rioters in the very nearby Moscow River. “What a double tragedy!” the ambassador blares out while reviewing the shapes of both the building and the beaten-up.
The ambassador tries to turn away from seeing all the violence – and disgusted his government has no will even to lesson the street brutality. “What’s wrong with us?” he says as he bangs down his fist on the mini-bar. As a follow-up, he takes another shot but this time at a 40 year old, Wild Turkey whisky.
He then worries about the protesters surrounding his car as he looks up from his mini-bar. But the boys in blue – and red, white too, Russia’s national colours which are flagged onto the police uniforms are keeping protesters off his car. Their patches can be vividly seen on their shoulders that are being pushed into his window.
The colors represent less and less to the flogged. That is except the red part as in blood and the color of the new throwback socialist revolution many protesters want. For Sewell, these tri-colors do not mean as much compared to Russia’s old red flag. The one with the hammer and sickle of Cold War days that seemed to scream out real globs of global power and communism.
The current diminished Kremlin still makes it known, especially its president that they are on top of the power pile, if not returned to big world power. For the hammer and sickle has been taken down for good? “Or maybe not, if some of these agitators get their way, “ he further writes.
However, in today’s pro-business Russia, the stratospherically well-off oligarchs are collectively like a Siamese twin gorilla that the Kremlin tries to pretend is not always there.
These billionaires seem much more upset by the current noise of rioters After all, they are disturbing their fine dining eating and other sweet treats, worse than anything the Kremlin could irritate them over on an average day.
The oligarchs promise total revenge against the protesters, but tomorrow. It will be the appetizer to their dinner the next day in the form of a full-scale assault throughout the city. “Purges will follow and increasingly brutal, “ Sewell will be told at his next meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister. The man does not care a “fig” about Sewell’s humanitarian sensitivities.
The ambassador is also warned in more detail by the CIA that it is best to get out of town almost immediately, if he values his life. Some dark forces are hoping his being put down will grossly embarrass the Kremlin. They want to ruin relations between Moscow and Washington. They would be right by such actions, no kidding.
The street agitators, his greatest worry now are described by government controlled media as being alien to popular order and security. And if not labelled foreign, then they will be widely proclaimed as fifth columnist saboteurs acting for foreign agents.
The ambassador knows this too well as he has been labelled the ring leader of it by too many Russian parliamentarians.
Sewell is drained, tired of the whole “Russian propaganda circus” he calls it. And now his life is in jeopardy and those around him to top the madness off.
He has been also informed to his disgust that the police are under contract. That is to the oligarchs at the Ritz” The subcontractors in turn make these super filthy rich loads of money if they can wrap up a riot in one shift.
If they can’t, they are toast and without breakfast for weeks as the Kremlin pays only half money to the oligarchs who share nothing of it except a little with the policemen. The special vigor of the police demonstrates the full force of what the ambassador reports as a “weird fascist form of entrepreneurship.”
Meanwhile, the lucky rioters he sees by the White House who did not drown are swimmingly doing much better than the others beaten to a pulp and whizzed off to Lubyanka torture jail. That is if they still had a pulse. With windows with quite the view.
That depressing view for the inmates is of the deluxe St. Regis Hotel. Because it is a reminder of the much better life they will never see. Across from it, is Lubyanka square, big enough to show off several advanced ballistic missiles. Or a full parading Russian circus with a dozen golden bears.
As a further insult, the bears rise up on their hind legs and seem to growl insults in the direction of the prisoners. There indeed is nothing like a Russian circus. Fortunately, the accompanying mobile missiles are not looking up nor ready to give off their own insults to a wider audience – for now
The St.Regis is also where the well-off fork up morsels of apple strudel at 30 dollars a small slice flown in weekly from Vienna. The price of a slice could feed any one of the impoverished or the many imprisoned for a week.
The ambassador though likes his own dessert better; cookies with red, white and blue colored chocolate chips. Because they are the same colors as the Russian flag, he thinks that is why some of the demonstrators throw them away after he hands them out. It is his best solid gesture of solidarity these days to the downtrodden.
Yet, some protesters even throw them back at him rather than eat them. Or spit the cookie pieces out at police in a rat-tat-tat machine gun bullet succession. How bizarre, he thinks?
Mother Russia indeed confuses him more than even his Russian mistress, Tatiana. Both so complicated and unpredictable at times and moody, he adds to his departing reflections.
He feels he fed her too well, too without appreciation. That is disinformation when he found out she was a spy and not to mention in his report, a high class hooker. The part about the mistress stays out of the report, as well.
But Sewell forgets that a good number on the street not appreciating his treats are hard core new communists, even some anarchists that neither like the Kremlin nor America.
He feels jilted all around including as a self-admitted romantic about the greatness of America. Even his well scripted lectures at universities to hundreds of youth, cultural societies and academic organizations increasingly did not popularly resonate.
His Russian audiences, he largely concludes seem to suffer some kind of Stockholm syndrome in their declared affection for the Russian president and the regime –or pure unadulterated fear of it.
He feels abject failure over not bringing most of the intelligentsia on US side– more reason to conclude that his work is done in Moscow.
Sewell has been warned by both the Kremlin and Washington to avoid such cookie stunts anymore. And to stop overly preaching US virtues. That is except maybe in a few bars he likes to frequent to feel the real pulse of the city. The Hudson Club is his favorite, named after an explorer kicked off his ship and abandoned on an Arctic ice flow. Sewell empathizes.
He is also bad at following orders as he still sees himself as a freedom fighter and says so also loudly in the bar. It is one reason he has been pulled back home, being accused by the Foggey Bottom realists as a “shit disturber”.
The less notable guests at the St.Regis who he has been more interested in meeting than the 3Ms, plan their next move sometimes with the US embassy’s help. That is literally out of Russia if they can get either a helicopter to fly them over blocked roads and rail. Or in a Range Rover through back roads connecting to the airport by way of Khimke.
Thinking of such potential blockages, the ambassador’s chauffeur wonders what chance he has to get his special guest to the executive type jet. A concerned President Peters has personally requested it for him so as to ensure his safe extraction. The pilot will not wait forever. Possibly it is because a mob is approaching the airport, too. Or because he is one of millions who cannot stand Sewell’s guts.
Khimke, incidentally is a town just outside the city boundaries where the Russians made their last stand in the city before beating back the Nazis in World War II.
These small millionaires sequestered at the St.Regis, all want to check out of the country. So fast they would have left their beautiful fur coats of Russian saber and mink in the cloakroom – if they had had to.
Today, they wouldn’t defend Russia against just about anyone be it reincarnated Nazis at the gates from Kalingrad to Khimke or all the way to the Far East in Vladivostok. And certainly not against today’s Germans who more graciously reinvented themselves as their principal bankers rather than invaders.
If their vehicles can get to Moscow’s outer edges, past the town’s tank trap memorial to victorious Russian troops of 1943, and without incident then they are likely to get to the airport. If not, they risk getting pulled out of their Mercedes and murdered by skin heads. Or by murderous thieves posing as wealth redistribution, new Stalinists. It is another form of Byzantine modern and chaotic Russia.
These “small rich” are certainly not of the same muster to sacrifice for Mother Russia as the top oligarchs. The call of the strudel is stronger elsewhere such as in Zurich where their bankers await them too. That is before emigrating to New York, London and some parts beyond.
Sewell hopes his work with these small, western oriented millionaires will be appreciated. But by whom, he is not sure. They are still Russians, stingy with compliments just in case the complimented get purged.
The 3Ms on the other hand, have too much to lose in assets they cannot move. Or the Kremlin would never let them move. They are stuck or trapped from really exiting if even they wanted to.
They certainly avoid meeting Sewell who they consider a fool of what they describe as a “minion” of an enemy decadent nation with no spine.” They are as mad as a hatter,” says ex-CEO Sewell, to himself, “and as brutal as modern Hydes with little evidence of a thumbnail of Jekyll.”
The ambassador knows he is constrained about how much he can do without causing a major diplomatic incident. He kicks the inside of the door in added frustration as he see a sad faced, helpless dying protester sliding off the side of his window. All after leaving a bloody handprint on his window.
The car finally stops. He then gets out. The ambassador climbs over bodies with his security detail. And with a shrug, climbs up the long stairs to the White House before he gets scorned – again.
* * *
Meanwhile, in Washington, the real White House has been closed again for extensive repairs, well after suffering firebombs from a “kamikaze” drone, unknown as to its origins.
The new US President, Rodney Peters, a Texan, is a religious type; fiscal, law and order conservative who is proud of being called “Iron Rod, the tight wad.”
He has sold off the Federal Reserve, the US central bank that “prints” money, mostly to a libertarian order of Jesuit monks sponsored by the Vatican. They are auditing it and looking for tonnes of gold that have mysteriously disappeared.
Peters is occupied with his own mobs on Pennsylvania Avenue and on Wall Street. The Great Depression of the century is finally declared and unemployment shoots through the roof and the police begin to shoot – anyone they like to from any roof. It seems like the world is increasingly at war between the have nots and establishments.
Peters is America’s libertarian Christian response to the Russians, Iranians, and Saudi Arabians who have raised their religious and propaganda public tones and global game against what they increasingly refer to as the crumbling Godless West.
They have infiltrated America in the minds of many of Peters’ followers – be it through mosques, political parties, free trade lobbyists, new huge investments and their own kind of bankers. They want to kick them all out –of America.
Rodney Peters worries that the West will be soon done, spiritually and maybe materially and more likely politically. So does the new pope and certainly so does the Russian patriarch whatever the major mess Russia finds itself in.
For the moment, the president has only temporary shelter. The White House remains inhabitable.
* * *
Samuel S. Sewell is back in his limousine after a necessary meeting to close the last chapter of his posting in Moscow. It was brutal with the Deputy Prime Minister giving him a noodle of a departing hand shake and a letter of protest for him to give to the president. That is after a good harangue.
How could he have described the atmosphere? If he had been murdered right there and then, the Russians might have worried more about the inconvenient mess for their janitors and their own staff.
There was no love lost between him and the anti-American, Deputy PM Gruboff. The Russians had been loud and clear by sending only their third in command to say good bye to him.
Ambassador Stephen S. Sewell, now having finished his last meeting in his Moscow posting takes a last look at the historic quarter of Moscow where czars for a thousand years were seated. All as the car pulled onto the expressway bordering the Moscow River and in the immediate shadows of the dominant giant, high walled, Kremlin.
He writes his letter of resignation to the president as he checks his small TV with news stories about the incinerated home of Rodney Peters. One restored but still mysteriously unoccupied. The world is too crazy for him anymore and certainly Russia.
His thoughts turn to his own homeland, his family of a good wife and two well behaved teenager girls, dedicated and so loving of him. But he also has concerns about how the new ambassador will survive it all.
Will she even come, he wonders and will the president get the Senate to approve her nomination? She is a celebrity after all not a seasoned bipartisan official, nor certainly a diplomat.
Sewell is somewhat sweating and thinking that he never was this way. Even with his former posting in Saudi Arabia. That one was no easy job. In fact, it came with an embassy with a high voltage, electrified fence. He still wonders why his hands feel so damp.
“Everything okay?”he says through the intercom to his experienced driver concerned with the snail pace of the car’s movement and the deadline to get to the airport.
“All looks well, Mr. Ambassador. The congestion is now clearing.”
The chauffeur turns off the intercom and presses the pedal down to make up for lost time.
It is the last thing he does before there is an earth-shattering explosion.
Sewell’s car swerves away madly. He has just missed being too close to an IUD explosive device on his supposedly confidential route and schedule to the airport.
The car is still upright after looking like it was going to turn over. It is though dented badly on one side. In fact Sewell’s door has been impacted but it is still connected.
Sewell grabs the car phone to see if his full security detail are okay after asking his chauffeur whether he is all right and whether the car is properly functioning. He is shaking so much that he even drops the phone.
His security detail tells his chauffeur that everyone is okay and to “fuck the Russian cops” who are in the lead. And to gun for the private jet terminal while staying in the middle of their small convoy.
The next person he phones after his family is his likely replacement. He wishes her good luck and big warnings. Not surprisingly, he has little good to say about the Russian Deputy PM who he figures was either trying to intimidate him along with his successor or just probably trying to kill him.
He then tries to pour out another whisky but would have preferred one of his tranquilizers. Sewell wants to shut his eyes given how weary he is. Given how he wants to forget it all as if a bad nightmare.
He cannot but little thoroughly shocks him anymore about the city. At least he thought so until the bomb just missed him by meters.
The airport and the private jet waiting are his dream. And his soft quiet bed in his quiet Georgetown house.. Ottawa, even now looks really good.
As a last act of accomplishment, maybe which might prove to be his only major one, he knows he needs to escape the potential concluding mess-up to his Moscow years of frustration and failure.
He therefore, needs to ensure that he does no get murdered. “Can I manage that?” he says to himself with a kind of disdain.
A bullet cracks through his supposedly bulletproof car window.
The ambassador has his answer.