Young Man on a Corner

The unlikely circumstances following the untimely deaths of Ahmet and Nergis had had a strange impact on Molina. He had withdrawn as any normal child would. But he empathized with, and imprinted profoundly upon, the plight of the two Rosenberg children. He felt their loss in a way that could not be explained simply by the coincidence of parents having died at the same time, in the early morning hours of that fateful day in 1953.

Molina had multiplied and intensified and melded the Rosenberg children's pain with his own; this empathy planted a seed of divine retribution in his heart. It would sprout, grow and flower into a certainty that he needed to make things right for all of them -- himself, Ahmet and Nergis, and Ethel and Julius. But mostly for young Robert and Michael. So motivated, he threw himself into what would become a lifelong vocation.

Thirteen-year-old Molina began to stand on the corners of busy intersections in downtown Chicago, and memorize everything. Each night, he would remain awake long after his relectant foster-parents-for-hire had gone to sleep, and write it all down.

Somewhere in this discipline, he began to truly understand the meanings and interplays of the seemingly random patterns he saw and recorded. He began to fit them into a picture so large as to be incomprehensible. To any disinterested onlooker, it looked like impossibly obsessive-compulsive madness, except for one thing: Molina could extrapolate things from those patterns. Things that turned out to be true.

He somehow saw tomorrow's headlines in the Chicago Tribune. He saw winners of Aqueduct Raceway's daily trifectas a week in advance. He saw Papal Bulls before the pope thought of them.

Regarding these as uninteresting party tricks, he set his sights on bigger things; in fact, feeling prepared, he went for what was, to him, the main event.

By the time Molina was seventeen, reams of paper filled with seemingly-inconsequential notes on life in urban Chicago filled his bedroom. He knew exactly what was written on every page, especially those in two particular stacks, a twin tower of papers that were conspicuous for the neatness for which they were placed, and for their sheer height.

Molina had, somehow, by means that nobody except he could understand, deduced, anticipated, or channelled the entire contents of the Venona Project. It was a lengthy top-secret cold-war collaboration between American and British intelligence services that involved cryptanalysis of messages between several Soviet intelligence agencies. Molina had both the encrypted version, and a second decoded copy carefully cross-referenced, placed neatly beside it.

Molina knew everything about the case, including things nobody was supposed to know. He began speaking to a few very carefully selected people about it. He'd drawn up the short list from his records, years before.

Suddenly, he began attracting considerable attention, first from newspaper types seeking human interest copy about some of his more innocuous predictive feats, then from the State Department, because of the Venona Project papers. Molina accepted, simultaneously, offers of a five-minute 'mindreading' spot on The Ed Sullivan Show, and an analyst gig with the pre-pubescent CIA,

By then, he'd already begun to drink steadily. Mulberry raki for preference, but really, whatever was handy at the time. He seemed to need the alcohol to do what he did. No one seemed to notice, because he had also been a heavy smoker for several years; the pungent odour of Balkan blend, coupled with his unholy passion for garlic consumed raw -- Molina always carried several bulbs in his suitcoat pocket -- obliterated the stale bouquet of liquor. If not, it confused the hell out of it.

Molina moved deceptively fast. He worked up through the ranks, remembering everything he saw. At night he would transcribe it all onto paper, using the old typewriter his foster mother had left him in her will. Soon, he insinuated himself into cocktail parties attended by high ranking officials, including among others, members of the jury that had sent the Rosenbergs to the electric chair, and the man who had started the entire furor, Joe McCarthy.