Chapter One Thousand Nine Hundred Fifty-Two
27th December 1969
Franz Kafka International Airport, Prague, Bohemia
Now that the wedding was over, it was hoped that direct diplomacy would be possible. Kaiser Louis Ferdinand had less than a year left on the throne before he was planning on stepping down. Like most men who were nearing the end of their term in office it was figured that he would be interested in burnishing his legacy. Nelson Rockefeller had been advised to have a meeting to set up the next meeting where the topic would be strategic arms limitation. Something that would be to the mutual benefit of both their respective countries.
As a VIP, Rockefeller was exempted from the intrusive security and officialdom that the Prague’s new and largest airport had swiftly become internationally infamous for. However, he wasn’t spared from the confusing maze that made up the monstrous structure. It was rumored that the original Architect had gone insane and had needed to be replaced partway through the construction. Considering how difficult it was to find their way around even with a map, Rockefeller figured there must be a great deal of truth to that rumor. The men from the Secret Service kept being told that it wasn’t as confusing as it seemed so long as the proper protocols were observed as they had tried to move though the complex of concourses and service passages. None of this was helped by the signs being in a mixture of German and Czech that often included contradictory information. Then there was the airport staff, they seemed to range between indifferent at best to openly hostile, especially if they were dealing with foreigners. Rockefeller’s aides and a Secret Service detachment had found that out the hard way when the advance team had arrived several days earlier.
Today, Rockefeller was trying to get to the First Class lounge off the Main Concourse. Apparently, the Main Concourse existed in two different places in the airport at the same time with the space in the middle still under construction. He and his entourage had been on the wrong side and getting to the correct place took some doing. When Rockefeller finally entered the lounge, several minutes late, he could see Air Force One parked out on the tarmac, the sleek Boeing 707, however parked right next to it was the German Kaiser’s idea of a joke. In the past, Louis Ferdinand had flown a former Luftwaffe trainer that he had bought personally when the Germans had phased out the biplanes in favor of more modern aircraft. Now he had replaced it with another former Luftwaffe airplane, a far larger Fieseler Kranich. The twin-engine turboprop was a wonder of engineering with the hydraulically actuated high-lift devices in the wings and the system of spoilers that worked in conjunction with the ailerons. Louis had explained all of that to Rockefeller a few days earlier. It also happened to be one of the ugliest airplanes ever built. Walking across the lounge, Rockefeller saw Louis speaking with a tall man in a tattered suit.
“Hello” Louis said when he saw Rockefeller in the somewhat reedy voice he had when he spoke English, “Glad you finally made it.”
As if Louis wouldn’t have known what a mess this airport was, Rockefeller thought to himself.
“We had a touch of difficulty in the concourse” Rockefeller replied.
“Michael told me that the Landtag here in Prague is less than thrilled with how this airport has progressed” Louis said, “They were trying to get it all straightened out before this week, but alas…”
“I find it amusing that it has come to epitomize the term Kafkaesque” Louis’ guest said, “What were they thinking when they named this airport?”
“Who are you?” Rockefeller asked.
“How rude of me” Louis said, “Nelson Rockefeller this is Eric Blair, the man behind George Orwell presents. He is here in Prague covering Michael and Birdie’s wedding for the BBC.”
This was George Orwell? For decades, Rockefeller had been aware of him as a disembodied voice as his show was rebroadcast on public radio in America.
City of Westminster, London, England
The Moondogs had been firing on all cylinders as they recorded a new album in the final days of 1969. Then things had gone sideways when Mythology had arrived a couple days before Christmas. It wasn’t that they didn’t get along with the up-and-coming band, it was the hero worship that both John and Paul were finding to be annoying, Ringo found it funny how Ozzy, Mythology’s lead singer, tended to follow John around like a puppy dog. For Paul it was profoundly strange encountering people who were directly influenced by the Moondogs’ pervious work.
Eventually, they had gotten back to work. In many respects the new album was a follow up to Spiraling. The album they had done since then had been a step back with John interested at the time in making music that was fun to play allowing Paul and George to take more of a leading role. The record company had been happy with that, but then they had started asking if the band was going to be returning to form in the future. That was strange considering how the company had reacted in horror to Spiraling when it had first been cut, only releasing it reluctantly after copies had leaked out.