Stombaugh , a former FBI officer in his 30s, who was code-named "Narciss"-- the handsome one, by the KGB -- had spent hours on checking and rechecking to make sure he wasn't be tailed. He was convinced he was black -- in the spy parlance, surveillance-free. He had come to the quiet, residential street some 20 minutes early, had made one quick pass. Everything looked normal, and as he was instructed to do so in the casing report, he left the area to check his materials and equipment and prepare himself for the intense meeting, just minutes away. The only thing that seemed unusual was a large trailer parked about 50 yards from the meeting point, its hitch propped up on cinder blocks.
He checked his miniature tape recorder -- all meetings with Tolkachev were recorded -- and his materials. In one large, double-lined, plastic shopping bag, Stombaugh carried 125,000 rubles in small notes, equivalent to almost $150,000. The bag also contained five subminiature cameras concealed in key chain fobs. A second shopping bag was packed with American medicine and eyeglasses for Tolkachev and his wife, English-language study tapes for their son, books with concealed messages, "intelligence reporting requirements" -- Soviet secrets the CIA wanted Tolkachev to try to steal -- and communications plans, printed on water-soluble paper for added security. Everything he carried was compromising -- fatally so for the man he was to meet. He glanced at this watch and decided it was time to move.
Stombaugh took in the street scene with a sweep of his eyes as he rounded the corner of the apartment block. Fifteen yards ahead and on his left, an attractive young woman with dyed red hair was waving her hands in animated conversation in a telephone booth that had been marked as a "taxi phone" on the diagram of the meeting site. Tolkachev's car, with its familiar registration number, was parked on the far side of the street -- the reassuring "safe, ready to meet" signal he was looking for.
Stombaugh began to walk briskly, running over in his mind the actions he had planned for the next few moments when Tolkachev would step out of the shadows, give the verbal recognition code, and then walk with him into the recesses of the nearby woods. There, he would take Tolkachev's used cameras, still sealed with their microfilm inside, stash them in his jacket, and hand over the two shopping bags. If both men sensed it was safe, there might be some time for the small talk that had always been so reassuring to Tolkachev during these dangerous meetings over the years.
As he passed the phone booth, the world exploded. At least five men burst from the cover of trees and brush. Two grabbed his Stombaugh's arms from behind as two others snatched the heavy shopping bags from his grip. A fifth man forced his head down. He heard the tailgate of the parked trailer slam to the ground. The night air filled with voices of men who had been hiding inside, waiting for the trap to be sprung.
Stombaugh was taken to the infamous KGB headquarters in Dzerzhinsky Square, where his spy materials were laid out, photographed, and where he was subjected to a pro forma tirade by the chief of the KGB's American Department of the 2nd Chief Directorate. Stombaugh had his diplomatic identity card on him -- standard operating procedure -- and within a few hours he was set free and ordered out of the country.