I know this is very hard to believe, and I'm expecting tweets on it as to my credibility, but I will trust in the evidence.
I had just departed from Mr. Putin (or Vlad as I got to calling him), and was exiting Club Formulation. By then evening was starting, bar stools jamming somewhat with people sideways and hands raised over the bars for drinks, girls at the poles, you know the scene.
Right then in through the doors--nobody accompanying him--striding, I tell you that man has good vision, sharp and quick. He went right away to that same stairway (me trailing right behind him), up to the landing and through the bamboo door, through which I then (yes, shamelessly) spied and eavesdropped in the best traditions of investigative reporter.
Vladimir was still sitting in there stirring his coffee or whatever it was with a small spoon.
Up Barrie went and through, like a basketball player trailing sideways toward the hoop, with Vladimir looking up at him with all that grave concern in his steely blue eyes sort of thing. And Barrie just sort of flopped, like a kid, onto the padded bench opposite.
"Cheez, Vladimir. I mean why do you have to make it so difficult?"
"Now, Barack, I know it's tough to be the one to tell you this, but you've got to stop with all the theatrics. It's as though you're taking it personally. This is not good."
"Mr. Putin, I will have to ask you how in the world that has anything to do with the issue here. That you are not cooperating, hence threatening international relations, and you know with that kind of thing, and it comes to the United States, there could be consequences!"
"Come off it, Barrie. Tell you what. How about some whiskey? And we could get some girls up here."
"I'm astounded! Don't you ever get serious?"
"All right then, tell you what. Let's do it mano a mano. Arm-wrestling. Right here on the table."
Barrie actually froze at this point, with his chin downward, brow thrusting. But, again, the man is quick. His mouth opened and a motor started.
"This operation will certainly have to go through channels. There are precedents, protocols. First off, it all should be top security--top secret information!"
"Please, Barrie. We've been doing it over here for decades. I have seminars you might be interested in. Facial Range Perception Management, for example. But let's get on with it."
"You mean put our elbows on the table."
"Damn right. I think that's how you Americans would say it."
"All right then!"
Barrie's elbow had been thrust out there toward the center, like a Queen's pawn with brave strides, his chin very determined. And Vladimir lifted eyebrows as though startled, then settled forward and put out a beefy limb.
Their hands clasped! There was a struggle in the topward sort of see-saw, if you follow me, but then I knew something was wrong with Vladimir!
He was biting his lower lip and shaking his head. He seemed to be hunching over, as though separate from his right arm's beef in dealing with the contest.
The tussle continued and I could see Barack's determination right down to his somewhat small right hip. Contrary on, Vladimir was now slowly weeping!
Then his left hand was up holding a white handkerchief from somewhere. "Stop! We must stop! We have come to this!"
"Okay, then, Vlad, I'm gonna take you! And you will send Snowden to me!"
The Vladimir instantly straightened, right arm like 5 x 8 madrone, and just like that he had Barrie's right fist snapped down to the table.
"I won't say anything." Vladimir stared gravely. "Do we agree? This entire episode is classified for the next 100 years."
Quietly, oh so quietly, I withdrew my eyeball from the bamboo door, and tiptoed away down the stairs into Club Formulation and out the door.