Tag Archives: Deuxième Bureau

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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Danger Man: Carnival

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English: North Atlantic Treaty Organization in...

North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO, in orthographic projection.

“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.”

~~~

I had to smile when I read the name on the slip of paper. This assignment would prove interesting, I could be sure of that.

~~~

“You fly to Calcutta this evening. He’ll be waiting for you at the Hotel Holiday. Potter will give you directions from there,” Nigel was forever fiddling with his napkin. “You met the good doctor in Calcutta once before as I recall.”

“Yes, it was after Berlin. We became very good friends. I’ll be glad to see him again.”

“I thought you would,” Nigel smiled as he finally folded the napkin into his lap in a way that seemed satisfactory for the moment. “I heard you learned a few interesting tricks from him.”

“Oh, yes. Checkmate in ten moves.”

~~~

The flight was typical, bad food and stale air. Being Driven to Hotel Holiday was an adventure in itself. Calcutta taxis are infamous for their short cuts down narrow streets crowded with vendors and pedestrians.

~~~

“And would sir require a room?” The English was poor but understandable.

“Yes, please. And I’d like a meal sent up later if that’s possible.”

“Certain surely, sir. Good cuisine here, very good. And will sir be staying for long?” The clerk seemed eager to please.

“I’m not certain yet,” and Drake signed the registry. As he turned the book around the clerk, seeing his name, smiled broadly.

“Oh, Mr. Drake, this was coming for you earlier.” Reaching into a drawer under the counter he produced an envelope. On its exterior it simply read “For John Drake”.

“Thank you very much. Did the person leaving it happen to give a name?”

“Oh, no sir. He was a messenger boy. He come in, leave this, and then go again.” The clerk looked over his shoulder as though to be sure he wasn’t being watched, and leaning slightly over the counter, his hand cupped next to his mouth, said in a most secretive way, “Curried lamb this night. Cooks very fine. You enjoy this meal, I guaranteed.”

“Thank you, thank you very much.”

~~~

I opened the envelope as soon as I entered the room. It was from Potter. He would meet me in the lobby at eight p.m. We would go to the doctor’s room from there.

~~~

“Potter.”

“Hello John,” Potter smiled. “Its been awhile.”

“Yes, three months at least. And hows Maggie?”

“Fine. It was a girl you know,” and Potter smiled a smile as wide as Potter could. “We named her Julie, after Maggie’s favorite aunt.”

“Congratulations.”

From behind the counter the clerk called out, “Sir enjoy meal? Very fine, yes?”

Walking towards the stairs he looked over his shoulder and smiling replied, “Yes, very fine.” Moments later they were on the second floor. Potter knocked on the door of room number six. As the door opened narrowly both men entered. The old man, beaming, reached for Drake’s hand, pumping it with a vigor that said nothing of age.

“My young friend, it is so good to see you again!”

“Dr. Seltzman, how’ve you been?”

~~~

We needed more men like him. When first we met in East Berlin he had proven himself during the escape we organized. To have him in the free world was a great gain, and I had made a good friend.

~~~

Potter had left. Drake and Dr. Seltzman talked with lowered voices. There was no one to overhear, it was the subject matter that lent itself to a hushed atmosphere.

“He was a murderer, John. Colonel Becker was personally responsible for the deaths of hundreds of innocent people, many of them old women and small children. All of them deemed enemies of the Third Reich,” Dr. Seltzman’s tone was bitter. He had lived in the midst of a Nazi nightmare. But he had lived. And now was an opportunity for him to fight back at last. “I saw him in the market place three days ago. Immediately I wired our friend. I am glad they sent you.”

“And when you saw him did he see you?”

“Oh, certainly. Yes, he saw me and I am sure he recognized me.”

“You know of course,” Drake placed his hand on the older man’s shoulder, “that they’ll come for you.”

“Yes, of course. That is why I called, to offer myself as bait,” Dr. Seltzman smiled. “I will be your bait and you will devise the trap. Together we shall bring a measure of peace to many who still mourn. And do not worry about me, John. I knew that this might happen and made my escape plans long ago.”

“Where can you go?”

“It is best that no one know. If the trap we set is sprung properly I will explain later how you may contact me in the future should you ever need to.” Dr. Seltzman looked toward the window, an odd look on his face. “My escape. You know, my friend, that there really is no escape for any of us. We all carry our prison with us. There is no escape from self.”

~~~

There was to be a carnival in the market place the next day. It was primarily for tourists and pickpockets, and for setting traps. I could only hope all went well for the sake of Dr. Seltzman.

~~~

Drake stood near Seltzman, within arms reach. He was seemingly intent upon a map of Calcutta. The Doctor, for his part, was looking intently at melons. And of course they were not together, they did not know each other. And in such a mixed crowd no one noticed either. Seltzman swatted at flys with a rolled up newspaper as he felt of one melon, tapped on another. Drake saw Colonel Becker slowly making his way through the crowd. He recognized him from file photos he’d seen in Tel Aviv. The Doctor had glimpsed him, had purposely positioned himself so that his back was to the Colonel. When Becker was about ten feet from his target Drake stepped forward, and with his best Bronx accent addressed the man.

“Hey, pal, you look like someone from my part of the world. No one here savvy’s English, know what I mean?” He was between the two men now. “Look at this map with me, will ya? I can’t make heads or tails out of it. And just look how it’s printed! Can you help me find … ”

“Nine!” The Colonel barked, trying to push past him. He was trying to get to Seltzman, who having heard John Drake had started circling through the crush of the crowd so as to position himself behind Becker, who was at this point hurriedly growing livid. “Idiot American, get out of my way!”

“Well now, that’s no way to treat a guy like me, just looking for help. Why I remember …” And Seltzman, every bit as crafty as he had been in Berlin, was now directly behind Becker.

“Dumm Kopf, DUMM KOPF!” He was straining, looking over Drake’s shoulder, trying to find Dr. Seltzman, trying to force his way past this stupid American when, just over his right shoulder he heard the words, “Herr Colonel, it has been many years.”

He tried to turn but the two men, Drake in front and Seltzman in back, with the crowd on either side, had him pinned. He tried to reach for a pocket but Drake’s hand was quicker and in a moment a pistol had changed ownership unseen.

“Colonel Becker,” and the Bronx accent was gone now, “there are twelve agents, eight Israeli and four NATO, stationed at various positions here at the carnival. It will be much easier for you if you’ll accompany the good doctor and myself … ” And pushing gently, guiding him in the desired direction, Drake continued to give the Colonel directions until they were safely at the nearest police office. From there Drake made one phone call and after a few words into the receiver handed it to the officer behind the desk. It was only then that the German war criminal realized that the only agent involved in his capture was the one with the disappearing accent.

~~~

“You were very brave, my friend. You captured both the gun and the man,” Dr. Seltzman chuckled.

“Doctor, I believe it was you that both provided the bait AND sprung the trap.”

“He will have notified others,” Dr. Seltzman smiled at his friend. “I must put my plan into action, my friend. Now Dr. Seltzman will disappear. But before I go, please, give me an address so that I can mail you a small package.”

John Drake wrote down an address, handed it to the Doctor.

“I will send you a roll of film, vacation pictures. Have them developed. Make certain that you keep them in proper order. If you should ever need to contact me remember the code we devised in Berlin.”

“And how will you know that I’ve received them?”

“You may write to me at the return address. Someone there will know how to get your letter to me this once. After that … ” The Doctor shrugged.

The two men shook hands. Drake spoke first.

“I wish you well, Dr. Seltzman.”

“And I you, my good friend. And who knows? Perhaps things will change, perhaps sometime I will be able to come back.” He turned to walk away, and waving one last goodbye said, “Perhaps one day I shall have a change of mind.”