Monthly Archives: July 2013

Danger Man: “Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers”

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Mexican village square during filming Queen of...

Panalachi, Chihuahua, Mexico.

“Every government has its secret service branch. America, CIA; France, Deuxième Bureau; England, MI5. NATO also has its own. A messy job? Well that’s when they usually call on me or someone like me. Oh yes, my name is Drake, John Drake.”

~

“It was day before yesterday, around noon,” the American C.I.A. agent was explaining the situation.

“Yes, well, I understand all that but just what does any of this have to do with me?” Drake asked as he positioned his hat, trying to keep the sun out of his eyes as the two men walked along the beach.

“We want you to find it.”

“You lose an unmanned drone in the Mexican desert, unseen, you hope, by the Mexican authorities, and because of Ortega’s relationship with Castro you can’t just ask for it back. So you need to go in and bring it out unseen, is that right?”

“Yes, Mr. Drake, I’d say that’s a fair assessment of the situation.”

“Well,” Drake puffed at his cigarette, ” you certainly don’t ask for much, do you? Why me? You’ve got agents in Mexico.”

“Yes, but we can’t afford to move them, it might call attention to them and we wouldn’t want that. Besides,” the man looked at Drake with a smile, “Nigel said you could pull off anything.”

“Good old Nigel. Always ready to lend a hand when its mine,” he tossed the cigarette butt, “I’ll need some equipment. This is what I’ll need …”

~

“Yes, good old Nigel. I suppose I could be flattered that he has so much confidence in my ability. I wonder what it would be like to just once be not quite so flattered? It was an easy enough job to get into Mexico unseen. Getting out unseen with a small aircraft was something else all together. I was five miles from the village of Panalachi. The Jeep was laden with camping gear suitable for a tourist with a small trailer behind. On the trailer was a dune buggy. In this instance also known as convenient bait.”

~

“Say, amigo, where can I get some gas, petrol, for my Jeep?” Drake was attracting a lot of attention. It wasn’t everyday that an American tourist came into town. Several children had gathered to see the Jeep and the dune buggy.

“Senior, there is only one place,” the boy looked to be about twelve, “Padre Tom has petrol for the mission’s car. They bring it in big cans once a month.” The boy held his hands wide apart, demonstrating the size of the cans.

“Can you take me to him? You can ride with me in my Jeep.”

“Oh, si, senior!” And the boy scrambled into the passenger’s side while the other children looked on, wide-eyed.

~

“Padre Tom was a both a priest and a medical missionary from Detroit. And in much need of cash. He was most willing to sell me gas. The trick now was to have the dune buggy stolen and bypass Panalachi on my return trip.”

~

Drake threw a tarp over the dune buggy. “And can you tell me where I can spend the night in a good bed, amigo?” The boy smiled at the question.

“Si, si, senior! Mama Rosalinda has a guest’s room and makes a very good meal. I will show you!” And the boy jumped back into the Jeep. As it turned out Mama Rosalinda’s small casa was only about three hundred feet from where they had been standing but the boy did get to ride in the Jeep one more time.

~

“I could only hope that the rumors about the desperadoes in this area were true. The dune buggy needed to be stolen as soon as possible. I would need the trailer to transport the drone.”

~

The next morning, after breakfast, Drake walked out into an empty street. The honest townsfolk of Panalachi had made certain that they were all safe at home where they wouldn’t see anything. The gringo seemed a good man but the dune buggy wasn’t worth their lives and the banditos in the area weren’t known for being gentle. The trailer was empty, with obvious tracks leading off to the east.

“Mr. Drake, I apologize.” It was Padre Tom. “The people here are hard-working and honest, but the gangs in the hills are … ”

“No need to worry, Father, the buggy was insured for more than it was worth, and I’d been warned about the gangs around here. Lucky I thought to chain the wheels on the Jeep to the wheels on the trailer or they’d have had it all. To bad I didn’t chain the buggy.”

“I think their horses couldn’t have drug all of it,” the priest smiled. “Government officials come this way every few weeks. I can report it … ”

“Father, I’ll be done with my vacation by then and back home. There really isn’t anything anyone can do. I have no choice but to let it go. Lets not worry too much about it. I tell you what. You just pray my vacation goes according to plan from here on out.”

~

“I knew I was getting close to where the drone had gone down. I’d parked the Jeep in a low place behind a hill and was searching the countryside with binoculars when I saw the dust cloud. It looked to be about three miles to the north-west and was headed across what would be my path if I didn’t make my find here. It was then that I saw the glint of metal about a mile from my vantage point. If I took the Jeep who ever else was out here would see my dust trail and might come to investigate. I didn’t want to run into the new owners of the dune buggy here, under these circumstances. Neither did I want the drone spotted by anyone else. There was nothing for it but to strike out on foot.”

~

Drake was on his stomach, in a small indentation in the ground, watching the dust cloud. It had changed direction and was headed straight for the plane. He could see it clearly now. It was small, almost toy-like. Eight feet long with a ten foot wingspan, wings that were made to fold so that it could fall through a bomb bay door before unfolding again automatically. No wonder the Americans were so hot to get it back.

The cloud was close enough now to see the vehicle. A covered truck, looking like World War Two surplus, with two men inside and another riding on the hood with binoculars, pointing towards what was still a glint of metal for them. Drake had to make it to the drone first and fast.

~

“I crawled  part of the way, running when I hit the low spots. I could hear the truck now. The Americans wouldn’t like this but it was better than the alternative.”

~

With literally only seconds to spare Drake ducked behind a bluff and toggled the switch. The explosion, being as close to it as he was, was deafening. Dirt and sand flew, nearly covering him with debris. After a minute or two his hearing, returning to normal after the blast, caught the sound of voices. He recognized the Eastern Europe dialect immediately. Happily there were no ladies present.

~

“With nothing to hide, no freight to transport back in secrecy, I decided to make my way back to the coast the same way I’d come. Another night at Mama Rosalinda’s, with breakfast, sounded good.”

~

“Mr. Drake, we’re happy to see you again!” It was Padre Tom. “I thought you were taking another route on your return trip?”

“Padre, I thought a night in a peaceful place like Panalachi would be a good way to end what’s been a very interesting vacation.” Drake smiled as he lit a cigarette.

“So, your vacation wasn’t spoiled by the loss of your dune buggy?”

“Oh, no. Actually, I’d say my vacation has been a blast, a real blast.”

~

“I explained to a rather disappointed but understanding C.I.A. operative what had happened. He agreed that it was better to have destroyed the drone rather than let it fall into enemy hands. There had really been no other choice. I also explained that the U.S. government owed the mission at Panalachi reimbursement for the help that had been given a luckless tourist who’d had his dune buggy stolen. My C.I.A. contact agreed to get the $1,000 dollars I suggested to the man in charge there in the village, Padre Tom, via a donation by way of a third-party. I thought that should cover the cost of the new well the good Padre had mentioned to me that the people needed so much.”

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I Will Not Make Any Deals With You

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There have been some great moments in television. I Love Lucy, Fawlty Towers, Mike Hammer, Star Trek, and more. “One of these days Alice, to the moon!” and “I see nothing!” were famous on-going lines in their day and still reverberate down through the annals of TVdom.  And then there have been those less memorable moments. The New Odd Couple, Australia’s Naughtiest Home Videos, Monkey Shines, and Turn-On (A “Laugh-In” spin off). Those last three were so bad that they were canceled DURING their first episode. But for all the bright spots and the low points there is one category that stands alone. “Greatest.” With this, the Greatest, there are no comparisons, no competitors. The Greatest is just that, and always will be. Introducing, if you’re not already aware of it, the GREATEST moment of all time and forever in television history …

I Will Not Make Any Deals With You – YouTube.

“We’ll always have Paris” … Part 2

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In The Village they take care of every detail. Nothing is left to chance, not even oral hygiene.
~
Number Thirteen was in her sixties, tall, thin to the point of looking emaciated, bright red horned rimmed glasses hanging from a chain around her neck, her nose long and beakish. She looked up from a file on her desk and smiled.

“You two have been very bad boys I see. Picking fights with respectable citizens. Very unmutual, very unmutual,” she shook her head from side to side, sadly. “But there is, I’ll have you know, hope on the horizon, glorious hope for the both of you.” She rose from her chair and approached a screen on the furthest wall. “Please do set down.”

Number Six and Number Thirty Five looked at each other, shrugged simultaneously, and sat down at desks that looked for all the world as though they’d been pulled out of a sixth grade classroom.

“Please, give me your attention for the next fifteen minutes, that’s all I ask. After that you’re free to go home …”

“London?” Number Six queried.

“YOU’LL BE FREE TO GO HOME,” rather loudly, with a shrill tone, “and think about what you’ve seen.” As she turned down the lights a projector, from a small aperture in the opposite wall, began to click and whir. On the screen, in grainy black and white, they saw the words “Oral Hygiene, your guide to health” appear. Looking at each other with muted surprise they spent the next fifteen minutes bored to tears learning how to brush and floss their teeth. Number Six’s chair and desk remained normal. Number Thirty Five’s chair and desk throbbed silently with a vibration and slight electrical charge that worked in unison with the subliminal messages that were part of his oral hygiene lesson.

“Now, I understand,” Number Thirteen flipped on the lights as the screen went blank, “that you both consider this odd. But believe me, all will be made clear in time. You see, I’ve been given the option of making your social conversion a very simple affair beginning with such social basics as personal hygiene. We’ll progress to other subjects soon enough. We’ll resume tomorrow promptly at three. And I know you’ll enjoy our next film. It’s all about the joy of personal grooming.”

As they left the building Number Thirty Five turned to Number Six and said, “This is the most asinine tactic conceivable. They think what? That they shall make us model citizens in this way?”

“It’s never as simple as it seems. They’ve a plan, and we’ll see evidence of it soon enough.”

~

The next day they sat through another film, this time with tea and cakes. The time release drug that laced the rim of Renault’s tea-cup was slated to begin its activity in twenty-four hours, at exactly five p.m.

“Thank you so much for your attention,” Number Thirteen smiled at her two star pupils. “I’ll be giving the Citizen’s Council a glowing report as to your progress! Tomorrow you’ll have a day of rest from your journey towards social conversion. Please, please take some time tomorrow to consider the wonderful privilege it is to be a part of the well-adjusted citizenry. We will resume the day after tomorrow at precisely two o’clock. Our next session shall be slightly different. There will be a written exam at the end. But not to worry. I’ll be here with you to help with any difficulties. Be seeing you!”

“Yes, mum, and you.” Number Six saluted her and walked, with Number Thirty Five at his side, briskly out the door.

~

The next day was a rather grey day, with low clouds and mist coming in from the sea. It was four forty five p.m. and Thirty Five was walking along the retaining wall, looking at the stone boat. Number Six was in the bell tower looking at what little of the sea was visible through the mist. It was from this vantage point that he saw Renault.

~

The mist began to part, or so it seemed to him. Memory reeled for just a moment and The Village, every vestige of it, disappeared with the fog. And he was standing on the Pont Neuf, watching the brown waters of the Seine below. Home. To his left a man was approaching with a small package. Under the man’s left arm there was a folded newspaper. He removed it, reversed the fold, and placed it under his right arm. This was the signal, this was the man.

“You have the merchandise in good condition?” Renault asked the stranger.

“Certainly, but the price has gone up.”

“No, no, monsieur. The deal is set. You must learn to be satisfied.”

Number Six could see Thirty Five talking with a man he didn’t recognize.

“The price HAS gone up. You will give me the name of the person responsible for Strasser’s killing. Then, and only then, you will receive the merchandise.” And the man waved the package in front of his face.

Number Six saw the stranger wave his hand in front of Renault’s face. Was there an argument? Number Thirty Five made a grab for the package. He would NOT be cheated, he would NOT be played with! The man side-stepped, Renault making another attempt to get the package away from him. He twisted on his ankle and felt his foot slip. He tried to catch himself. He saw himself falling over the railing. He saw the water below. And then …

Number Six watched as Renault crumpled to the ground. And in an instant he was racing towards the stone boat.

~

“You fool! Do you know what you’ve cost us?!” Number Two was screaming at Number Thirteen as she stood there wringing her hands, a frightened look on her pinched face.

“But I had no way of knowing … ”

“Number Thirty Five was our only link to Strasser’s assassin. The assassin obviously had contacts in Moscow AND Washington AND Tokyo. Do you have any idea the range of information someone like that could supply us with?!” Number Two slammed both fists down on his desk.

“But … ”

“There is no excuse! OUT! Get out! And you WILL be called for before the day is done!” Number Two watched, his rage still building, as the woman left the room trembling.

“A heart attack! A bloody heart attack over an illusion!” He was screaming into an empty room. Elsewhere the Supervisor, in no way involved in any of this, watching him on the monitor, cringed.

~

Number Six walked calmly around Number Two’s desk. They were face to face, Number Six a full five inches taller than the other man. Looking down into his eyes, in a low and even tone, he said, “I don’t know what you did to cause his death, but you know this and mark it down. You will pay!” The last three words were in a shout of anger. And as he turned and walked towards the door it was Number Two who cringed.

“We’ll always have Paris.” … Part 1

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Deutsch: Eiffelturm Français : La tour Eiffel

Paris is a city of memories. Sometimes, with memories, it’s all in the details.

Note: I borrowed a couple of names, a couple of details, and a bit of tweaked dialogue for this one from one of my three all-time favorite movies. Which movie?

~

It would have been a pleasant day. The sun, the ocean breeze, a soft humming of bees. It would have been a pleasant day if he’d been anywhere but The Village. The stroll would have been pleasant. If it hadn’t been for the man following him. The man, short with a small mustache, had been following him off and on most of the day. He’d lost him twice. Not this time. This time would be different. Around a corner on the path he side-stepped, hidden by the shrubbery. And he waited.

The man came briskly around the corner only to see an empty path ahead. He turned his head to the left, seeking, just as Number Six grabbed his right arm. In an instant the man was on the ground, Number Six standing over him.

“You’ve been following me all day. What’s it all about?!”

“I was trying to discern,” the mans accent was French, “if you were one of them.”

“And this is your way of implying that you’re not? Go tell your masters that it didn’t work. Of course they already know, don’t you!” Number Six looked directly into the camera that he knew to be hidden in the retaining wall to the far side of the small bit of lawn along the path.

“I’m sure they know everything that we do,” the man was brushing himself off as he got up. “You will realize in time that I am most certainly NOT one of them. Assuming, of course, that you are not one.”

“I don’t care if you think me a warder or a prisoner,” Number Six snapped. “Whatever anyone thinks,” and he looked into the camera again, “I am a free man!”

“Yes, I hope that you are. I remember Paris, April the fifth, three years ago,” and the Frenchman tilted his head slightly, examining Number Six, watching for a reaction.

Number Six held it in. His facial expression, his body language, and the tone of his voice all remained the same. But his heart rate was up in spite of himself.

“They know almost everything to know about me. It wouldn’t surprise me if they knew about Paris.” And it didn’t surprise him.

“I was at the Le Café de Flore. You never knew me, but I knew of you. My name is Renault. And I am NOT Number Thirty Five!”

~

Number Six watched Number Thirty Five, Renault, over his cup of coffee. If he was one of them he told an intricate and interesting tale. It was worth listening to for the entertainment value alone.

“So you see, monsieur, while you were seeking the files I was seeking the statue. You found the files. I was there that day. You were obviously an excellent operative to do such a thing in a public place, and in broad daylight,” the man chuckled. “I on the other hand was not so fortunate. It seems that the statue, along with the jewel, had been taken into eastern Europe. And there I could not follow.”

“Why are you here?” His coffee was getting cold. No matter. The war was cold too, and this man had obviously been involved. No doubt he still was, but in what capacity, prisoner or warder, only time would tell, if there was any telling to be done at all.

The man sighed, shook his head, looked down at the table and whispered, “It was a quirk of fate,” he looked up. “They think I know about Strasser’s assassination, who did the killing and why. I knew Strasser, it is true, but whatever else I know,” and he clenched his teeth, “they shall never know.”

“They have ways of making you talk.” Number Six smiled knowingly.

“They have never,” and the Frenchman’s resolve was evident, “dealt with Renault!”

Number Six, smiling, raised his coffee cup as though in a salute.

~

He had seen Number Thirty Five walking up to the Green Dome. To make his report to Number Two? To be questioned by Number Two? And now, the Frenchman returning, he watched as he approached the table.

He stood to one side, made a slight bow, and said, “May I, monsieur?”

Number Six waved his open hand towards the chair opposite, “Certainly. You can tell me more of Paris.”

Renault smiled. “Yes, Paris is my one true love. Unlike many others she has never broken Renault’s heart. Of course, there is always a first time,” and he laughed quietly.

“And did you frequent Le Café de Flore often?”

“Ah, yes. Almost daily that spring. I remember when the waiter caught his waxed mustache aflame with the candle.” Renault motioned for the waitress. “There was no lack of excitement that night. And the flies! It was so very hot that April, unduly so.”

And that small bit of information, the comment about the flies, was all Number Six needed. This man HAD been there. And putting all those pieces together he knew. Number Thirty Five was no warder.

~

“Odd that he should hit it off so well with Number Six,” Number Two sipped his tea, watching the screen.

“He’ll break soon,” the Supervisor commented.

“Yes, I agree. Perhaps we can use this attachment to our Number Six to speed up the process. Call in Number Thirteen for me, please.”

“Certainly.”

~

“And what brought you to this Village, my friend?” The Frenchman asked as they walked.

“I came for the waters,” Number Six responded.

“Waters? There are no waters,” Number Thirty Five looked at him, his curiosity apparent.

“I was misinformed.”

“Ah, and you … ” But the sentence was interrupted when two men, Numbers Seventy Eight and Ninety Four according to their tags, stepped out of the shrubs, one coming from the left and the other from the right, and both directly in front of Number Six and Number Thirty Five. Seventy Eight spoke first.

“You realize of course that you two, in spending so much time excluding others from your company, are beginning to look very unmutual.”

“I am tired of playing your word games and I am tired of excuses made to do the will of your masters.” At the word “master” the fight was on. Six struck first. This time if they were going to make problems they’d deal with one first.

Number Thirty Five didn’t hesitate. Number Six didn’t have time to watch, Number Seventy Eight was making a good show of himself, but out of the corner of his eye he caught sight of Number Ninety Four being leveraged and flying into the bushes. The Frenchman knew his Judo well.

Number Six, punching, was driving Number Seventy Eight back slowly. The man was a good boxer, Six would give him that. It was what happened next that was so unexpected. And, bluntly, very entertaining.

Number Ninety Four was crawling slowly out of the bushes when the Frenchman gave one swift kick that sent him reeling. Turning, Number Thirty Five ran a few steps ahead and to the side of Seventy Eight. He had a very broad smile on his face. He obviously enjoyed a good fight. Six punched, Thirty Five fell to the ground, and Seventy Eight stepped back. After he had fallen over the Frenchman Number Thirty Five scrambled to his feet and nearly jumped back to where Ninety Four was once again trying to exit the bushes. In an instant he had the man by the collar, pulling him up and out of the shrubs as he said with a pleased smile on his face, “Please, monsieur, allow me to assist!”

As Number Seventy Eight rose from the path, wiping blood from his mouth, Number Ninety Four landed on the ground next to him.

“You’ll both stand before the Citizens Council for this!” Said Number Seventy Eight as he backed away. And turning he ran, Number Ninety Four running behind him with a slight limp.

The Frenchman called out after his unworthy opponent, “Have a nice trip back to your keepers, monsieur!” And turning to Six he smiled and said, “Well, my friend, now that we’ve made an appointment with the Council, shall we go visit Number Two in order to make it official?”

“I believe I can make the time, yes.”

~

“Look at me when I speak to you!” Number Six struck his fist on Number Two’s desk. Number Two was standing up now, his face a deep red. “Play your games if you will, but be aware that the end move will be mine!”

“Number Six,” Number Two growled through clenched teeth, “and you as well, Number Thirty Five,” he shot a glance at the Frenchman, “I play no games. But I will do my job, and you will, the both of you, succumb in the end. Make what moves you like,” and he stuck his face out toward Number Six as though offering it as a target, “the playing field is The Village, and ALL of your moves will be confined to OUR board!”

~

The next day, as Number Six sat reading The Tally Ho ( he enjoyed fiction) he heard over the public address system, “Numbers Six and Thirty Five report to the Citizens Council, Number Six and Number Thirty Five, report to the Citizens Council immediately.” And folding the paper slowly, he finished his coffee before leaving.

~

“We would prefer to make this as simple and pleasant for all concerned as possible, I assure you,” said the man behind the desk at the Citizens Council. He was flanked by a dozen or so others, all setting there like mannequins. “What provoked such a reaction, Number Six?”

“Experience. They were there to start a fight, and being in the vicinity I decided to oblige and finish it.” Number Six, standing next to Number Thirty Five who was stroking his mustache in a very unconcerned manner, stood with his arms folded.

The man behind the desk sighed, and turning to Number Thirty Five asked, “And you?”

“I tripped,” he said dryly.

Sighing again the man looked over his glasses at his fellows, all of whom remained motionless, expressionless. “Gentlemen, I suggest to you that these two, Number Six and Number Thirty Five, being unrepentant of their unmutual activities, be handed over to The Village Adjustment League for educational purposes.”

Number Six began to applaud. Thirty Five bowed.

“Take them to Number Thirteen’s office, please.”

~

Part 2 comes later.