(For “Secret Agent Man” … Part 2 scroll down or use the search box on the right of this page.)
As Dorthea Farmer reached for the phone John Drake stepped forward, gently took her by the arm, and holding his NATO I.D. up so that she had a clear view of it, guided her to the side and out of Amanda Fallin’s line of sight. He could feel her quiver in his grasp.
“Miss Fallin, my name is Drake, John Drake. We have to talk and there isn’t much time.”
“Wha? … ” She started to speak.
“I know this will be a lot to digest so quickly but we have good reason to believe that you’re in danger. Miss Fallin is working with a communist agent in Nigeria,” and she remained still, “by the name of Georgio Rannesin,” her eyes widened, ” and I must get you to a safe place … NOW.”
“But, Amanda?” She looked searchingly.
“Don’t worry about her or anything else right now. Just follow my lead.” And he began, arm in arm with her, with his other hand hidden under his coat and next to her waist, to walk her back to her table, and Miss Fallin. The waitress was looking, a puzzled look.
“Miss Fallin,” and he moved his hand, the one hidden under his coat, visibly closer to Dorthea Farmer. “It’s important that we leave now. Everything will be explained shortly. But for now … we LEAVE.”
Fallin looked shocked. Shocked at seeing him? Shocked at what could look like a pistol being held to the side of Miss Farmer?
“Do as he says,” gasped Miss Farmer.
Drake turned to the waitress and called out, “That call? A medical emergency. We must go to the hospital, the lady’s mother is quite ill.” Taking his arm from Miss Farmers arm, his coat and other hand still in place, he laid some bills down on the counter as they continued to walk towards the door. “This should take care of both bills. Please keep whats left as a tip, and forgive the inconvenience.” And he smiled as they all made their way out the double doors. “Keep walking and be calm,” he whispered to the two girls. Mentally he prayed his sixth sense was right. Because if he was wrong …
A short time later, a few blocks down the street in a hotel room he had rented as a safe place for Miss Farmer, he stood before the two girls and, looking at Miss Fallin, he asked, “When was the last time you communicated with your uncle, Rannesin?” The girl looked completely at a loss. “Very well. We’ll talk more about it later. In that room,” he pointed to another door, “now.” The girl, pale as death, did as she was told silently. After she had gone into the other room and the door was shut he turned his attention to Miss Farmer.
“You said you’d explai … , ” she began.
“And I will,” at which point he described the plot to her as it had been described to him. “Now,” and he turned towards the window, it was now or never, his back to the girl, “you know what this is all about.” And he heard the purse open. He knew what to expect now. His hunch, given the clues offered, had proven itself. As he turned back to the girl he gave a low gasp of mock surprise as he looked at the pistol in Farmer’s hand.
“Well, Mr. Drake, you had most of it right,” she smiled a crooked, perverse smile. “But Amanda isn’t the agent you thought she was, is she?”
“Would you mind explaining, Miss Farmer?”
“Sure, why not? I’ll consider it the granting of a last request. In a few minutes it’ll all be over,” and she laughed. “I met Georgio two years ago, the last time he visited Amanda. It wasn’t long after Amanda and I met. She can’t stand him, by the way. But we hit it off immediately. We kept in touch through, well, lets just say through channels. We have a lot in common. We share a common desire to see people freed from poverty and the oppression of the wealthy who use them for their own greedy ends, to truly better the world. We began planning this about six months ago. Can you imagine the chaos in Nigeria and other African countries, when those bad business deals take place? There will be thousands out of work, almost overnight. We’ll force the issue and the money from my father will finance a popular uprising. It will give the Party the opportunity to bring about a glorious revolution! We’ll free the masses, Mr. Drake, in spite of capitalist warmongers like my father. The plan will still go forward, without Amanda. There are several others we can use as patsies. But you, Mr. Drake, you can take pride in the fact that you were right about every detail but one. Me.”
“I am curious about one thing, if you don’t mind my asking?”
“It’ll be your last question,” she answered sternly. “What is it?”
“I understand you go to church regularly. Why would you?” And this question was sincere.
“Mr. Drake, who would look for a communist sympathizer there? Part of the plan was my innocence. And it still is. In just a minute there will be a struggle. You’ve kidnapped me, Mr. Drake. No doubt after my daddies money. In the struggle between you and Amanda, good girl that she is, trying to save her friend, your gun will go off and just before you die you’ll manage to squeeze off one more round, killing poor Amanda. Sorry, Mr. Drake, but this is how it must be. I can’t let you jeopardize this plan”
“You’re a quick study, Dorthea,” and there was a calm confidence in his voice. “But you’ve missed one detail. I didn’t come here alone. I alerted Canadian Security before ever going to The Linden.” Looking at the door he called out, “You can come in now! She’s armed.”
As quickly as Dorthea Farmer turned towards the door he moved forward and reached for her wrist. Just a few seconds went by but when they were over it was Drake with the gun and Dorthea Farmer with a look of fear on her face.
“Oh, don’t worry, Miss Farmer. I’m not going to shoot you. I’m going to turn you over to the Canadians, to be held in legal custody until you’re tried for espionage.” The door to the room? After he had called out? It never opened. “Set in that chair,” he waved her towards a chair in the corner with the barrel of the pistol. Setting down on the edge of the bed he picked up the phone and dialed. “Charles? Drake here. Code word, checkmate. Yes, I have the girl in custody. We’re at the address I gave you earlier. We’ll be waiting.”
“But how did you know?” Miss Fallin, setting across the table, her eyes blurred with tears, asked.
“Honestly, I didn’t, not for certain. Everything known pointed to you. Any communication, for example, originating in Montreal and sent to your uncle, correctly worded, would naturally be attributed to you, especially if it were traced back to your flat. No one would have suspected Miss Farmer. But it was your reactions that made me suspect. You showed no sign of emotion when I mentioned Nigeria at the bank. Which made me wonder if you knew where your uncle was, if you were in contact with him. Miss Farmer’s emotional distance, her being so independent of her father,” he smiled, “the mention of Nigeria might not have elicited a response from you if she didn’t speak of him. You’d have no reason to know that Michael Farmer was in Nigeria. Your reaction, or lack of reaction, made me wonder. On the other hand, Miss Farmer’s eyes went wide when she heard your uncle’s name, and at no other point. By then I knew that if I could get the both of you to the hotel room, well, things would progress from there. Someone, you or her, would have to do something rather than risk failure and possible exposure.”
“That horrid man. I’ve only seen him half a dozen times in my life and he always seemed … evil. And Dorthea, she was going to make it look like it was me who was a part of all this.” Her voice trailed off and she visibly shook.
“Yes, and she nearly did. Don’t dwell on it Miss Fallin. And I don’t think you’ll be bothered by your uncle again. Not after this.” He tried to sound up beat. He wasn’t sure he’d succeeded.
In silence they continued with their meal. The Linden really was a good restaurant, and after the tip he’d left earlier the service was better than usual. He looked up at Amanda Fallin. It must be hard, knowing that you were being used by someone you thought a friend. It had been hard for him to tell her. It was his job, and the chance of betrayal, along with the ongoing chance that he might not live to see tomorrow, was what kept him from forming many close relationships. Janet was the one exception. Perhaps someday, after he’d retired, he could settle down in some quaint village, hidden away, off the beaten track, and lead a normal life. Till then … Pity the poor guy who’d have to explain all this to Mr. Michael Farmer, Dorthea’s father. Pity the father. There were times when he just wanted to … The music filtered in from the little neighborhood bar next door. It was that Johnny Rivers song again. ” … given you a number and taken ‘way your name … ” Now, somehow, he just wasn’t in the mood.