Dear readers, tonight with me on the interview couch is a woman trying to escape from the black-market arms trade.
Her risky plan went wrong, and she found her – and her son’s – life in danger from her former boss, his mercenaries, a double-crossing businessman, terrorists, the FBI, and a man from the Defense Department.
She is here to tell us about her suspenseful adventures in a world of corrupt politics, a ruthless greedy opportunist, terrorists, and a pawn with deadly skills.
Tell us a little about where you’re from and growing up.
I lived in Hanau, Germany until I was about thirteen when my parents were killed in a car wreck. I was put in a foster home, and about a year later, I ran away. I couldn’t make the adjustment, too young I guess.
I met Johanna Zsigmond in a Frankfurt park not long after I ran away, and she hired me as a live-in domestic and assistant to her. We got along great. Sometimes we’d talk for hours. She convinced me to go back to school and on to Cambridge. She treated me as if I was her daughter and I loved her dearly. I still miss her to this day.
Johanna was such a wonderful person. She was more than a mother to me, she became my best friend. She got me interested in theatre and martial arts, focusing on jujitsu in high school. In my spare time, Johanna taught me the romance languages.
After I moved in with Johanna, I kept quite busy with school and, of course, she kept me busy with language lessons. I liked Frankfurt better than Hanau. There was so much to do in Frankfurt and I loved the markets and festivals. Johanna stressed the arts and we were always going to plays, concerts, and museums.
Any cherished memories?
I miss Johanna. She didn’t have any children of her own and I filled that void. Johanna died of cancer during my junior year at Cambridge. I was devastated and took the rest of the year off. I returned to school the following year as that is what Johanna would have wanted.
I became pregnant during my senior year at Cambridge and was to be married just before graduation. Michael Barron, an army captain, was a very handsome man and a wonderful person. He would be any woman’s dream. Unfortunately, he was killed in Bosnia a week before the wedding.
David, my son, looks just like Michael. David is my world now.
You’ve given your business title as international business development consultant. How did you get into this line of work?
After graduation, Clay Zsigmond took me in. I didn’t have much choice since I had a baby to take care of, no job, and no money. Clay made it very easy. He hired an au pair for David until he was old enough for a private school. In exchange, I worked for Clay and learned his business.
It wasn’t long until I was well immersed in the business, increasing his profits. I was naïve, but found his business interesting—intriguing, actually. I was doing very well. I often thought that Michael would like this business, too.
Clay wanted me to have some kind of title and one that didn’t raise eyebrows. My duties started out very benign. At first, I just made phone calls and ran errands for Clay. That increased to a few simple meetings in low threat environments. Although most of them were in third world countries and the people I met with, you probably wouldn’t invite them to Christmas dinner. It wasn’t long until Clay was quite busy and wanted me to do more. The next thing I knew he was hiring people to train me in weapons, explosives, as well as escape and evasion techniques. I was young and it was a bit of an adventure. The money was damn good. I’m very accomplished in jujitsu, you know. That, in itself, gave me a lot of confidence. I had a lot of instruction in hand-to-hand combat, too. I didn’t realize how dangerous it was until it was too late.
What is life really like in your line of work?
Hmm. That one is a bit hard to explain. I dealt with some of the world’s worst people. I wanted out of that business. It was a bit tense at times and you have to be as tough as woodpecker lips, if you’re going to survive. Other than that, I lived on the edge, not knowing sometimes if I’m about to take my last breath or not. I traveled all over the world, often at a moment’s notice. Most of the people I dealt with would just as soon kill me as look at me; I only met with them on my terms and from a position of strength—I had something they wanted. I didn’t like doing business with the fanatic Muslims and they didn’t like doing business with me. Most of the others I dealt with were dictators, thugs, and terrorists. There’s not much difference in any of them, actually. I looked forward to a long hot bath after I met with those slime balls.
You’ve worked with many notorious and ruthless people. What was the scariest situation you’ve been in?
The scariest? Good one. There were a few. I guess it was when Clay screwed things up with the terrorists and told them I betrayed them when the Ranger devices didn’t work. I had to convince the terrorists I was going to fix the problem. I really thought I was going to die. If I didn’t address the issue, they would come after me. If we didn’t fix those devices, I was dead. Honestly, I didn’t have much faith that we would fix them.
Zsigmond kept a dossier on you? Would he really turn it over to Interpol?
Yes. Clay changed after his wife, Johanna, died. I tried to quit and suffered his wrath. He threatened to kill David, my son, if I tried to leave. He made it very clear to me that if I did manage to break free from him, he would send my dossier to the authorities and hunt me down. He’s crazy. I knew he would.
Do you always wear a disguise? What’s that all about?
Yes, usually. It’s about staying alive. In school, I was very active in the theatre and learned a lot about makeup and disguise for the stage. I got the idea during one of the escape and evasion classes. Intel agencies around the world use disguises, so I applied the same technique. Early on, when Clay sent me out in the field, I was quite naïve but smart enough to conceal my identity. I knew several people who wound up dead because of miss communications, something didn’t go just right, or wanted out. Most of the cockroaches I dealt with would track you down and kill you. So, I disguised my appearance and identity. I even kept my house in Italy a secret.
Why did you kill Mac? Didn’t you have feelings for him?
Mac. I liked Mac. Ruggedly handsome guy—a professional and no-nonsense. Unfortunately, he was a loose end. He was the only one, outside of Clay, that could tie me to the assassination of President Juvénal Habyarimana of Rwanda.
Ludwig Stäbler set you up. Didn’t you see that coming?
No, I didn’t. I’ve known Ludwig for a long time and he owed me. Besides, he didn’t care for Clay. Looking back, I might have been too focused on getting David. Ludwig was a soldier of fortune, and money talks.
Did you sleep with Anthony Mangiano? Are you involved with someone special?
I don’t think it’s appropriate to discuss whom I may have slept with. I might ask you if you slept with someone; would you tell me? Next question.
Are there any romantic plans in your future?
I hope so. I want to have a family and be like normal people—David, me, and a father for David.
You seem fearless. What scares you?
A lot of things. Clay, Muslim fanatics, and, believe it or not, Anthony. He can be cold and is always one-step ahead of me. Silverfish and lima beans, well they don’t scare me, I just don’t like them.
What’s your favorite pastime?
Being a mother to David is my pastime now. He is my life. We do things together all the time. I’m following in Johanna’s footsteps and caring for him as she did for me. Johanna was a wonderful mentor. Yes, I am spoiling David. Doesn’t every loving mother? I just wish Johanna were alive to be a grandmother to David. She would love him.
What does the future hold for you? Will we see you again?
That is a very good question. I understand a number of people want to see me again. Patrick has talked to me about it several times. I thought he was going to put me in his latest novel, Six Minutes Early, but it just didn’t work out. It’s possible you will see me again. I do think he likes me.
Patrick Parker received his bachelor’s degree in management and his master’s degree in international relations. He joined the US Army and spent five years in Italy. After retiring from the military, Parker spent an additional fifteen years in the defense industry. Now retired again, Parker enjoys writing, scuba diving, sailing, and going to the beach. He lives in Texas. Parker is also the author of Treasures of the Fourth Reich and Six Minutes Early.
You can find Dydre on the pages of War Merchant.
Join us next week to meet a man trying to – literally – prevent the gates of hell opening. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right), via Twitter, or like our Facebook page to be notified when the next interview is posted.