"How? How will you go?"
"I don't know. An exit visa. By helicopter. Just split."
"Split?" Wiedemann paused. "You mean defect?"
The word cracked like a rifle shot in the room. The fat redheaded Stasi inhaled his smoke with a hiss and went poh, poh, poh. Wiedemann began to gnaw the nail on his left middle finger, then suddenly realized what he was doing and shoved his hand into his coat pocket. Schmidt felt lightheaded, disconnected from all of this, and he said softly, "Yes. Defect."
Now the Stasis had what they wanted, and they relaxed and began a more measured, matter-of-fact interrogation that lasted more than two hours. "Wiedemann seemed most interested in learning which people in nonsocialist countries I kept contact with," Schmidt later said. "I mentioned my friends in the West, particularly the discus throwers Mac Wilkins and John Powell from the U.S., Ricky Bruch from Sweden, Alwin Wagner from West Germany. It was well into the evening but still quite light outside, and I could still hear swimmers splashing when Wiedemann suddenly rose from his seat and knocked very lightly at the door. Keys turned immediately. He turned to me and said quite formally, 'You will hear from us.' They left."
Schmidt tried the television, but it didn't work. He tossed and twisted until the sky turned pearly gray and he fell into an exhausted sleep.
Stasi guards roused him with breakfast at 8 a.m. He was depressed and disoriented. Later that morning Repulsive Red reappeared, alone. He had a sheet of questions and quizzed Schmidt again about the people he knew in the West, his opinion of clothes, food, cars, discos in the West. The Stasi hammered at these subjects for about two hours.
Schmidt again pleaded to telephone his parents. As before, the answer came: "No phone." He expected any minute to be released, to be told this was just a ploy to take him down a notch. But his first full day in custody crawled by with no further information. He began to do push-ups—hundreds of push-ups.
The next morning Repulsive Red appeared again with more pages of questions about the West. This time he demanded that Schmidt write the answers in pencil on foolscap. Schmidt covered two pages with his careful handwriting. The Stasi smoked as he read them—poh, poh, poh. "Not enough," he said. "Write them again." He came every day with essentially the same questions for Schmidt to answer in essentially the same way, with exactly the same result: poh, poh, poh. "Not enough."
On his fourth day in the cell, guards brought Schmidt a razor, toothbrush, underwear and pajamas from home. They refused to tell him what, if anything, they had told his parents. They fed him well, four meals a day, counting coffee and cake in the afternoon. He became compulsive about doing calisthenics. On the 10th day the guards fixed his TV so he could watch the final World Cup soccer match between West Germany and Italy. The Italians won, and Schmidt was infuriated when he heard the Stasis whooping with joy downstairs. "The pigs!" he recalled. "I hated them for cheering against Germany."