Tag Archives: Portmeirion

The Prisoner … “Retrieval”


I just didn’t have the heart to leave Number Six in a global Village. I decided he needed retrieval.



Number Six: Where am I? Number Two: In the Village. Number Six: What do you want? Number Two: Information. Number Six: Whose side are you on? Number Two: That would be telling. We want information… information… in formation. Number Six: You won’t get it. Number Two: By hook or by crook, we will. Number Six: Who are you? Number Two: The new Number Two. Number Six: Who is Number One? Number Two: You are Number Six. Number Six: I am not a number! I am a free man!


“Why Rannesin?” Number Two queried.

“Each familiar person, place, or thing added lends itself to a reality guaranteed to bring about the desired results. He’ll fill in blanks himself, return to old haunts, renew friendships, and finally realize that, the whole world being The Village, his secrets are redundant. There is no place to escape to, there is no longer a need to protect all people. He’ll talk. It may take time, but he’ll talk. There’s no longer a reason not to.”

“You’d better be right.”

“Oh, I’m right. I’ve done this before and its never failed.” The man adjusted his glasses as though for emphasis. “Never!”


Number Six stood in the office of Number Two, facing his desk, looking out the window at the London skyline.

“What’s it all about?”

“I told you,” Number Two replied leisurely, “that there were going to be changes. And now you see those changes for yourself.”

“I see nothing but another failed stunt of yours to …” Number Six spoke through clinched teeth as Number Two cut him off in mid sentence.

“Come, come now, old boy, you’ve seen nothing yet,” and he pressed a button. The far wall glimmered, grew lighter, showed itself to be a large screen. “Name a place. Any place, your choice, and I’ll show you that things have changed.”


Number Two typed out a few letters on a keyboard resting on his desk. The screen blinked once and there was Rio in all its splendor. A panoramic view.

“It’s a trick. You’ve …”

“Pick a place in Rio, any place.” Number Two smiled calmly.

“The Hotel Encontro.”

A few more key strokes and the Hotel Encontro appeared on screen.

“Why not pick a room?” Number Two waved his hand towards the screen.


“Ah, the room you occupied while investigating that messy Colombian drug cartel.” A few more key strokes and they were looking at the hotel room. The maid was currently cleaning. “Any particular angle or spot in the room you’d like to …”

“You’ve made your point!” Number Six barked.

“Yes, indeed. You see, we’ve expanded our, shall we say, franchise. Number Six,” Number Two leaned back in his chair, “you are free to go any where you desire. Go back to your old flat if you like. Pick up life as you knew it, where you left it. We’ll call on you when need be.”

A rather bewildered look on his face, Number Six stood there, stunned.

“We’ve grown, Number Six. We’ve outgrown The Village that you knew and so wanted to escape from,” Number Two leaned forward over the desk. “You see, Number Six, freedom is a myth. Your secrets? They no longer matter. You are no longer a protector of other people. World domination?” He laughed, slumping back into his chair as though fully at home and altogether comfortable. “Governments needn’t be overthrown, wars are a waste of resources, and there is only one thing necessary.”

“Enlighten me.”

“It’s all very simple, Number Six. Well placed people in key positions. Political offices, the military, and the corporate  world. All the world is a Village now, and with no one the wiser.”

“I know.”

“And absolutely no one will ever believe you.”


He sat in his usual spot, drinking his usual drink. The pub was packed. Many of the faces were familiar to him. He had come here fairly often and new several of the regulars. Everything was normal. Laughter, darts. And then he saw Leonard walk through the door. Leonard, who he had played darts with so many times. Leonard smiled, waved. Number Six smiled back, nodded, lifted his drink. It was all he could do to control his facial expression. Because now he knew, he understood.


“Heart rate up, blood pressure rising.” The med tech began printing out the data.

“He’s in a pub that he knows well. Why would he react this way?” Number Two was looking at the screen, watching Number Six smile, drink.

The phone rang. The red one.

“Yes, sir. Certainly.” And Number Two held out the phone to the current Number Thirteen. “It’s for you.”

“Yes, what is it?” Number Thirteen spoke into the phone. “Yes, yes, I understand, but … NO! YOU listen. I do this MY way! You’ve put this in the hands of imbeciles in the past and failed repeatedly. If you want it done I’ll get it done, but you let ME take care of the project or you can bloody well come down here and do it yourself!” And, punching the “off” button, thrust the phone at Number Two.

Number Two, eyes wide, stood dumbfounded. “Do you … do you … know … who … who … that  wa … was?” He sputtered.

“Of course I know!” Number Thirteen snapped. “And its high time someone stood up to him. He wants this done? Then he’ll learn patience and let me do it!” At that Thirteen looked towards where he knew the monitoring camera was located and made a slight bow.

Number Two was visibly shaking and looked as though he was about to faint. And he very nearly did.


They watched the screen together. Number Six was walking away from the pub, seemingly calm. “Blood pressure and pulse have returned to normal,” said the med tech.

“What happened in the pub? Why did he suddenly …” Number Two was watching the screen intently, questioning Number Thirteen.

“Some sort of glitch, perhaps with the equipment here. Its nothing to …” And Number Two cut him off in mid sentence.

“Glitch?! A glitch did you say? What do you think we’re doing here? Playing a cricket match? We can’t afford glitches!”

Number Thirteen turned and calmly walked the few feet separating them. His face was only inches from Number Two’s. “I,” he said in a low, even tone, “I won’t be bullied by him,” and he pointed to the red phone, “how do you think you’ll fare? I can walk out of this room and leave you in charge if you can do my job. Can you do my job?”


Number Six strolled calmly. He knew what needed to be done but hadn’t figured out yet how to do it. But an idea was forming.


“Brain waves are erratic.” The med tech adjusted dials, flipped a switch. Number Two and Number Thirteen, shoulder to shoulder, watched the screen. Number Six had stopped, a look of concentration on his face.

“What’s he doing? What’s going on in that mind of his?”

The scene on the screen began to change, to move.

“What the … ?”

The buildings, the walk, the street, everything around Number Six began to bend, rearrange.

“Do something!” Number Two yelled at Thirteen as he feverishly began adjusting the IV drip.

Number Six bolted upright, and tearing the IV from his arm, jerking the electrodes from his forehead, promptly fell back on the gurney while still struggling to get up.

“Restrain him!” Number Thirteen was holding him down as four orderly’s rushed to either side of Number Six.

“Take him to hospital, quickly! If any thing happens to him we’ll all …” Number Two was cut off by the sound of a phone. The red one. Looking at a ghostly white Number Thirteen he said coldly, “I believe that call will be for you.”


As the orderly’s rushed Number Six to hospital he could see, through the drug induced haze, the all to familiar buildings of The Village.

Later, in the hospital ward, Number Two stood next to his bed. The man had, by sheer will power, overcome the illusions they had so carefully constructed.

“I don’t suppose you’ll tell me how you knew it was all false?” Number Two raised an eyebrow in question.

“Why not?” Number Six smiled weakly. “I met an old friend of mine, Leonard, at the pub.”

“So? Was that so very odd?”

“Leonard an I used to play darts together. Until his death four years ago.”



The Prisoner: “Imminent Departure”



Prolog: This may, or may not, be my finale for our agent, Mr. Drake, and The Prisoner. As you read this keep in mind that things aren’t always what they seem. But then again, sometimes they are. Confusing, isn’t it? I’ve tried, and please don’t ask me how I came by the information (that would be telling) to fill in a few blanks concerning The Village, its residents, and our agent, here and there. And I have, admittedly, engaged in more than just a bit of humor. The last I heard Number Two was updating my file in that respect. But it occurs to me that in the filling in of blanks I’ve left out some interesting information. And that’s what THEY want, isn’t it? Information. And so there is another story interwoven with “Imminent Departure”. The title? “The Recruits”. You see, Mr. Drake was trained for his job as part of a class of twelve. I thought you might like to know a little about the beginning as we’re drawing towards what may, or may not, be the end. Oh, and FYI, you can cut, paste, and go to Google translate to convert Russian into English.


Quote: “Freedom is a myth.” Patrick McGoohan.


Number Six had glanced over his shoulder just as he came to the corner of the building. The other man rounded the corner at the same time. Colliding into each other they now stood face to face.

“You!” The mans eyes went wide and then narrowed. His badge read Nine. “You,” he said again, lowly. “So you are the reason I’ve been brought here.” He looked Number Six up and down, taking a slow step back. “No number I see. You are the Number One. I could have guessed!” And turning he walked off, heading now in a new direction. The Green Dome.

“Be seeing you,” called out Number Six, saluting.


He heard the person approaching. Heavy steps, obviously male. He waited until the shadow fell, and remained, on his copy of the Tally Ho before looking up.

“Well, the changing of the guard didn’t take long this time, did it?” He was looking up at the new Number Two.

“Number Six,” the new Number Two chuckled, shaking his head from side to side in a mildly amused and somewhat disappointed sort of way. He looked up from Number Six and out over the retaining wall towards the sea and breathed deeply. And calmly walked away.


“The Recruits” … Spy school. Who would have thought there could be such a thing? But everyone needs training. Mr. Drake, having been recruited as he was from the bank, took three months sick leave. They said it was some sort of fever he’d contracted while on vacation. Very serious. And the three months of training was just that. Serious, intense. It was a class of twelve. Each man was paired with another. You see, not only did you learn your trade but you learned the necessity of team work as well. There were no lone wolves. Drakes partner, a very likable chap, had been recruited from the Royal Navy. Being a sailor he had a girl in every port, and several far from port. Drake worked hard to master his new trade. It was, after all, life or death.


Oddities never cease in The Village. The first man, Number Nine, had a very distinct Lithuanian accent. Number Two had a mild accent, almost undetectable. The sort of accent a person acquires after having learned several languages fluently. The accents weren’t so very odd by themselves. It was the resemblance between the two. They could easily have been brothers. At a distance, side by side, they would be nearly impossible to tell apart. But the oddest part was the feeling in Number Six’s gut. In some dim way he recognized them both. But from where, and when? It would come, given time.


“I know you,” Number Six stood over Number Two as the other man sipped coffee at the café. Number Two, looking up, smiled and chuckled.

“Number Six,” and he chuckled again, only a little louder this time. “Of course you know me. I am Number Two.”

“I know you as someone other than Number Two,” Number Six was fishing.

“Indeed? Well, let me know when you can put a name with the face. Then we’ll talk. Perhaps its just that I remind you of another,” and he laughed heartily, as though at some private joke. “Until then I’ll call for you if I feel the need.” He turned his face away at this, seemingly engrossed by the seascape just visible through the tumble of Village buildings from this point.


Number Six stood in his doorway, Number Nine was standing just outside. The man had actually knocked.

“I have been watching you,” the man peered at Six through eyes that were slits, as though he was trying to see past the exterior, trying to see what was inside Number Six.

“Yes, I’ve seen you. And do you find me very entertaining?” Number Six raised a quizzical eyebrow.

“Oh, fascinating. I learn much by your example. I thought you to be Number One. But no, you are a prisoner just as I am,” he titled his head to one side, just the hint of a smile on his face. “I never dreamed such a thing would happen. I had heard rumors of a place like this. And then to find you here. It is almost too much.”

“Yes, I quite agree. But then the world is filled with odd occurrences, isn’t it, ah, what was your name again?”

Smiling, the man replied, “Oh, you know who I am, Number Six. I am,” and he pointed to the badge on his lapel, “Number Nine.”

“Would you care for some genuine non-alcoholic Brandy? Twenty three units a bottle.” And Number Six held out his hand towards the interior of his flat in invitation.

“No,” the man smiled and shook his head slowly. “I will let you know when it is time to talk. Be seeing you,” and, turning, he walked away.

“And you.”



“The Recruits” … Part of the job consisted of knowing your equipment. The world of espionage has its share of gadgets. They were useful, but Drake preferred to use his mind as much as possible. His partner, on the other hand, seemed comfortable with relying on the “tools” of the trade a little more than Drake was comfortable with. John had told him once, “These things are handy, but they can fail. We have to learn to think on our feet.” His partner replied, “When one thing fails there’ll always be another. There is no end to invention.” Ah, well, to each his own.


He was standing in the breeze, watching people as they frolicked on the stone boat. Some actually got seasick on their imaginary journeys. Imaginary journeys. He’d indulged in a few of those himself. Number Two strolled by, turned to him, walked over to him.

“Beautiful day,” quipped Number Six.

“There are no microphones nearby,” Number Two was looking out over the sea, speaking lowly, “Only cameras. Mr. Drake, I couldn’t care less why you resigned. You are more of a problem here than you will ever be an asset. They tell me that they don’t want you damaged, you’re to valuable. I question that. But for now it is the only reason I don’t have you killed. There are about to be any number of changes here, elsewhere, and I am one of them. I want you gone, Mr. Drake. When things come to a head here, as they shall soon, I want you gone. Do you understand?”

He looked at Number Two, a bit shocked but doing a good job of hiding it. This was the first time anyone in The Village had called him by name. Wanting him gone? He’d be glad to go, but he’d not take part in another ruse.

“I am no longer a number then?”

“Oh, yes, you will remain a number for as long as you are here. But I call you by name now for a reason. I want to impress upon you one simple thing,” and he turned slowly, facing Number Six. “I want to impress upon you this … I want you gone. And gone,” he was almost whispering now, “is what you shall be.”


He was working out at his private gym. The day was bright, and hot for this time of year. He could see, far down the path, Number Nine approaching. He continued his work out until the man was standing there in the small clearing with him.

“Now we talk,” Number Nine spoke slowly, deliberately.

“About the weather?”

Number Nine shook his head. “No, Mr. Drake. We talk about leaving. You and I. Together we can. We are perhaps the only two people who, together, could.”

“Who are you?!”

“You know who I am,” and he pointed to his lapel. “I am Number Nine. You are Number Six.”

“I am not a number! I am a free man!”

“Yes, and together we shall both be free. Together we will escape this,” and with a sour look, twisting his mouth as though about to spit, he said, “place.”

“Go tell your masters that you tried and failed. I’m not buying.” Number Six turned his back to Number Nine. And he remembered. He knew who Number Nine was now. And Number Two. But which one was the right one? Only one of them could be the man that he now knew that one of them was. The identity was certain, the one it belonged to was the question. He heard Number Nine walking away.

“We will talk again, John Drake. I give you time to think. But do not take too much time. Opportunities are lost over time.”


“The Recruits” … Drake worried about his partner. At one point he had actually caught him copying answers from his paperwork. He hadn’t said anything. He was no rat. A fool perhaps, but not a rat. If it hadn’t been for the man’s charm and whit he would have no doubt washed out. But he hung in there, and so did our Mr. Drake. However, lets give the other guy credit where credit is due. He could tell you the vintage of the grapes used in the production of the sherry that he drank. His palate had obviously been well-trained.



He sat thinking, a tumbler of genuine non-alcoholic bourbon and water, on the rocks, in his hand. The Muzak played, the sounds of The Village drifted in through the open window. And he thought. This felt different. Something wasn’t right about it, and he knew it. But what? What was the twist or turn here? The underlying current? The plot? Because there was one. There always was one. The Muzak stopped and the syrupy sweet female voice made the following announcement.

“Fellow citizens, one and all, your Village Council, and remember it is YOUR Village Council, democratically elected by YOU, is pleased to announce that in one week, exactly one week from today, there will be a glorious Festival of Unity. There will be music and refreshments, a truly carnival atmosphere, an unveiling of NEW Village statuary, and the main attraction, a moving speech by our beloved Number Two. So come one and come all! Its festival! More details to come!”


Number Two sat down across from him at the chessboard.

“Care to play?” Number Six asked pleasantly.

“Hardly. I want to give you a word of advice.” Number Two looked from side to side, and, leaning over the table, snarled, “Listen to Number Nine. The festival is your opportunity.” Standing, he looked down at Number Six and whispered, “Remember where it is I want you?”

“Gone?” Number Six smiled nonchalantly.



For the next several days Number Six saw very little of Number Two or Number Nine. When he did see Number Two the man would scowl and walk away. Number Nine would smile and nod faintly and go about his way. This was fine with Number Six. Perhaps they had given up on their game. But then the warders never gave up that easily.



Number Six was making his way to the General Store as he passed Number Nines door. It opened as he neared it, an older woman, in her sixties and carrying several small potted plants in her arms, backing out, a broom tucked under her arm, trying to keep it all balanced and in hand. As she turned she smiled pleasantly at him and said, “Good morning, Number Six. Beautiful day, isn’t it?” Bending over she sat the plants down, and rising up he saw her badge. Number Nine.

“How very odd,” he said, an amused look on his face. He was used to this sort of thing. “Why just yesterday Number Nine was a middle-aged male from Lithuania.”

“Well, if you say so,” she twittered. “Things do seem to change, don’t they?”

“Be seeing you, Number Nine.”

“And you,” she replied, as she turned to her gardening and the sweeping of her front walk.

The public address system blared, “Attention, citizens. Just a reminder, only one more day till Festival! Be ready for all the fun and excitement on this joyous occasion! This is YOUR day! Enjoy it to the full, and remember … Life is for living!”


“The Recruits” … It had been something of a scene. Drake’s partner had been caught sneaking a girl into the compound. The chief instructor, a middle-aged man with eyebrows like feather dusters, had gone livid. “Being a commander in her Majesties Royal Navy I understand that you may think you have an image to protect, all sailors being infamous womanizers, but you WILL hold it in until training has been completed! IS THAT CLEAR?!” If Drake hadn’t spoken to the Colonel later, well, who knows what might have happened to his partner?


The Butler was just leaving the General Store as Number Six approached. Entering he saw a tall man, easily in his late fifties, standing near the counter, a copy of the Tally Ho held in front of him.

“Good day to you sir,” the storekeeper chimed pleasantly. “And what might I do for you?”

“I’d like some halibut for the evening meal please.” Number Six walked past the tall man. “Excuse me.”

The man slowly folded the paper, his badge clearly visible now. The new Number Two.

“A new Number Two again?” Number Six cocked his head to one side. “And where do they store all of you for the keeping?”

“You needn’t concern yourself, Number Six, with details. You’ll deal with me now. As far as you’re concerned I’m the only Number Two there’s ever been.” And turning, he walked out.


“Rise and shine, rise and shine! It’s another beautiful day in The Village! Remember that today if the Festival of Unity! Make your plans to attend now. The wonderful celebration begins at ten o’clock sharp so don’t be late. And now, to help you ready yourself for fun and frolic … Music.”
Number Six rolled over in bed, pulling the sheet over his head. They could keep their Festival of Unity.
He sat down with his coffee, the Muzak conveniently tucked away in the fridge, when he saw it. On the floor, just a few inches from the door. It had obviously been pushed under the door and five minutes ago it hadn’t been there. He picked it up, a white envelope, and on the front, in bold block letters, he read: “To John Drake”. Inside was a short note …
“Behind the hospital at 11 a.m. during Festival. It is our chance.”
He leaned cautiously around the corner. There were five cargo helicopters, fully two dozen Village workers, a multitude of crates in various stages of being packed and loaded. And pandemonium. The workers feverishly went about packing, loading, and fetching more from the building. Much of it looked to be computer equipment.
“Be careful! You break that and I’ll break you!” One worker, obviously in a supervisory position, yelled at another.
“What’s all this about anyway? Why the rush?”
“And do you REALLY want to know?!”
Number Six watched. In all the rush and confusion it would be a simple matter to hide in one of the larger crates, pulling one of the many tarps in and over to cover himself. The rest would be left to chance, true, but at least it was a chance. If they found him out he’d be no worse off.
“The Recruits” … Graduation day. Such as it was. A tallying of the grades, a going over of the records. Drake placed at Number One in the class. His partner? He earned the twelfth position. Well, that WAS better than washing out. They had talked, he and Drake. The training had been for service with NATO but the other man said he was going to pull a few strings and opt for MI5. Drake would continue with NATO. They made plans for one farewell drink before they parted ways. And the day after having left the compound, the day before Drake was to return to the bank from hospital and his partner return to Naval service, they agreed to meet at a certain pub at a certain time.
Five hours. Five hours he was bumped and jostled. He could hear the copter, he could feel the unloading, he heard the workers as the crate was transferred to what must be a truck.
“Be careful with that, mate! It’s supposed to be delicate.” If they only knew.
He felt the truck stop, more voices, more jostling. With a thud he felt the crate set down.
“Start the unpacking, men. They need these things upstairs today.”
He heard a crowbar biting into wood, the crate shook slightly, nails made a screeching sound as they were pulled out. He shielded his eyes from the light. The worker stood there, eyes wide, mouth open.
“Frank? You might like to have a look at this.”
He rode in the back, the two bobbies up front. Once at the police station he could explain, could get word to the Colonel. For now he contentedly took in the sights and sounds of London. Even the exhaust fumes were a welcome alternative to The Village.
In Moscow Georgio Rannesin was escorted into a large, sparsely furnished office. There, behind a desk, sat a large man, moustache bristling. He smiled at Rannesin pleasantly. And Georgio’s heart sank into his shoes as he heard the words …
“Товарищ Добро пожаловать в деревню. Теперь … Скажите, почему вы уйти в отставку?”
“The Recruits” … They waited patiently for the bartender. The place was packed. But they took the opportunity to talk. It would be a friendly parting. Drake couldn’t help but like the other man and he sincerely wished him well.
“And do you think you’ll be able to get on at MI5?” Drake asked.
“Oh, yes. It’s just a matter of making the right call,” he smiled.
Drake reached into his pocket and took out a pen and small pad.
“I know one person, a secretary, who works at MI5. Call her,” and he wrote out a name and number. “Mention my name.”
“And where do you know her from?”
“The London bombings, during the war.”
The bartender moved to their end of the bar.
“Sorry it took so long, gentlemen. Now, what can I get for you?”
“Whiskey,” answered Drake.
“And you sir?” The bartender looked at Drakes friend.
“Martini, please. Very dry and please don’t stir the ice, it bruises. I prefer it shaken, not stirred.” Ah, the well-trained palate.
“Certainly sir, coming right up.”
The two waited patiently, silently now. The drinks arrived. Taking their glasses they raised them.
“To your very good health, John,” Drakes friend smiled.
“And to yours, James.”
After finishing their drinks they got up to leave. As they shook hands Drake put his hand on James’ shoulder, smiled, and said, “Now, when you talk with Miss Moneypenny be certain to tell her I gave you her number.”
“Thank you, John. I will.”
Off the elevator, down the hall. Drake walked between two officers. One stopped at an unmarked door and, reaching for the knob, smiled at Drake and said, “Here you are, mate. You’ll get to explain yourself now.”
The room was ordinary enough. Through the window he could see the familiar London skyline. The high-backed chair behind the desk was turned away from him, its occupant obviously intent upon what looked to be a computer monitor. The chair began to revolve as a hand reached towards a button. There was a slight swishing sound behind him as a chair began to rise from the floor. “Have a seat, dear boy,” a familiar voice said pleasantly. The chair completed its turn, and a smiling Number Two said, “Welcome to The Village.”
Epilog: Well, well. The whole world a Village? Remember what we’ve learned here. Things aren’t always what they seem. And in The Village they are very rarely so. I’m not sure I have the heart to leave Number Six in a situation like this. Who knows? He doesn’t seem to be able to escape The Village. He’s always brought back. Maybe I won’t be able to escape these tales either. Time will tell. And from time to time I may just have to come back. I mean, somebodies gotta feed Rover when Number Six isn’t around. Oh, please excuse me. Number 14 just pulled into the drive and you know how she gets when kept waiting. Be seeing you.

“To John Drake”

Students for a Democratic Society (2006 organi...

Students for a Democratic Society. Sometimes the enemy is homegrown, like the SDS. Sometimes the enemy comes from the “other side”. And sometimes they accidently cross paths. Guess who got caught in the middle?

It had been an interesting day for our agent, Mr. John Drake. The SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) had planned well. The assassination of Senator Gailen had nearly been successful. If Drake hadn’t noticed that one, and only one, second story window was open by inches he would never have seen the sun reflect off the tip of the rifles barrel. Two minutes more and the Senator’s car would have been in range with the Senator an easy target. Drake had pushed a trash can into the street causing a bus, coming from the other direction, to swerve. It was enough to stop traffic, and just in time. The SDS member must have realized what was happening and had attempted to retaliate by squeezing off a shot before FBI agents, and the area, streets, buildings, roof tops, crawled with them disguised as janitors and city workers and pedestrians and more, had pinpointed the room via walkie-talkie once Drake had pointed to the window. It had all happened in a mater of moments. Quick, jerky movements now playing on a screen of memory. The bus driver had seen him push the trash can into the street. In a string of Italian profanity he had run towards Drake, waving his arms and gesturing wildly. Our agent was still intent on the window. He saw the barrel of the rifle turn towards him, he saw the bus driver move between him and the window, and with only inches and a split second to spare had pushed the driver down as the shot rang out. The envelope had been slid under the door of his hotel room. He saw it as he walked through the door. On the outside it said, in block letters, “To John Drake”. It read …

“Mr. Drake, today you do a good deed. I am here on business, perhaps you hear about it later. I knew nothing of the assassination attempt on the American senator. Maybe these Americans will be taking care of themselves and save us the trouble. I was however in the wrong place and at the wrong time. I almost did not recognize you dressed as city maintenance worker. Thank you for pushing me away from the bullet. Perhaps some day I return the favor.”

And it was signed “Georgio”.

A Personal Note


Just a note. I have a lot of health problems, terminal cancer being the most serious, and recently I’ve started several alternative therapies that have all helped, some more and some less. They are, however, time-consuming. So I may not write fan fiction as much as a result. I’m not saying I won’t write any, but the posts may be few and far between. I just have to prioritize and there are only so many hours in the day. I’ve had a lot of fun doing this and hopefully its been enjoyable for some other folks as well. And the site will be here for whoever finds it, the stories, for what they’re worth, being new to them. 🙂

And just a thought for all the people out there who think that The Prisoner is just cool fiction at best, and that George Orwell’s “1984” can’t happen, I offer you this …

In times of profound social change like the present, extreme views hold out the appeal of simplicity. By ignoring the complexity of the forces that shape our personal and collective circumstances, they offer us scapegoats. Yet they fail to provide a viable pathway from the cold war to the global village.

Source: It Takes A Village, by Hillary Clinton, p.286 Sep 25, 1996 Be seeing you.

Danger Man: “Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers”

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.”

I Will Not Make Any Deals With You


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

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

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.”



“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.

Danger Man: “Georgio” … Part 2

Cat eats mouse.

Cat and mouse. Let the games begin.

“I had quietly gone into an upstairs room. As far as anyone else knew I was off inspecting the house. I’d put together the portable shortwave radio, parts of which I kept concealed in my lighter and the heel of my shoe. The messenger should be close enough now that I’d be able to make contact with the agents following him. He should arrive at the Villa in less than half an hour.”


The receiver crackled. He heard the words “One mile, in ten minutes.” It was time to inspect the foyer and be ready for whatever came next. To be ready for Rannesin.


“I had positioned myself on the landing overlooking the foyer. From this vantage point I could see the entire area and all the doorways. Bella was inspecting the outlets along the walls. The Countess, expecting the courier, was in an adjoining room making small talk with the one guest we thought might be Rannesin. The butler, having been instructed by the Countess to be as helpful to us as possible while keeping us out of the way so as not to accidentally disturb the dinner party, which was scheduled to begin in fifteen minutes, stood calmly to one side. He moved towards the door when he heard the bell.”



“Excuse me sir, I have a message for Countess Ghirlandaio.” The courier, hat in hand, bowed slightly. He seemed a nervous little man. Our agent knew him well. He was one of the best Italian operatives that Drake had ever worked with.

“Certainly. I will take it to her.” And the butler extended his hand, waiting for the envelope.

“Oh, sir, my apologies, but my instructions are to give it to the Countess only. You understand.”

The butler, taking a deep breath and rolling his eyes, said, “Very well. Wait here and I’ll inform Countess Ghirlandaio.” And he turned towards the far door, the room occupied by the Countess and the guest. A moment later the Countess, with the guest close behind, entered the foyer.

“You have a message for me?” The Countess asked pleasantly.

“Yes, Countess Ghirlandaio. Here, please,” and he produced an envelope from his breast pocket.

Taking the envelope the Countess offered a kind thank you and, turning to the butler, said, “Please, Blondeau, see that this gentleman is compensated for his effort.” With message in hand, she smiled one last time at the courier and headed back to the side room.

The messenger bowed politely and said, “Thank you, Countess, very, very much.” And this was the message to be delivered. The bow coupled with the word “very” twice rather than once conveyed the information. The envelope, which did contain a message concerning the neighboring village and certain road rights across her estate, was a ruse. If it had been intercepted by Rannesin he would have gained nothing.

Bella stepped close to the door and asked the Countess in a very low voice, “Would it be intrusive if I inspected this room now, Countess?”

“No, I don’t think so.”

Drake was already there, ready to inspect the room with Bella, ready to watch the windows, the doors, and the guest.


“The messenger had come and gone without incident. If anything was going to happen it would have to happen now. If the Countess opened and read the letter she would have the information, or at least Rannesin would think she had the information not knowing that a code had been used upon delivery and that the information had already been passed along, and it would be too late for him to act. For Rannesin, and for us, it was now or never.”


“Excuse me one moment, please. This may be important,” the countess smiled to her guest and walked over to the fireplace, opening the envelope as she did so. Drake and Bella had positioned themselves so that doors, windows and guest were effectively covered. The door opened and the butler stepped quietly in, approaching the Countess with an envelope in hand and a strange, rather confused look on his face.

“Excuse me, Countess. The servants have just finished their evening meal and as the maid cleared the table in the kitchen she found this under one of the plates. It is addressed to a Mr. John Drake.” And he held the letter out for her to inspect. She looked quizzically at Drake, saying nothing.


“At this point it was obvious that there was more to this situation than met the eye. Only five people knew I was here, Nigel, my contact in Madrid, the courier, Bella, and the Countess although she didn’t know me as anything other than an agent posing as an assistant building inspector. The Countess knew Bella and I were agents but didn’t know which of us was John Drake. There was nothing left for us to do now but take charge of the situation.”


“Call in the servants, all of them, immediately!” Bella barked at the butler.

“Do as he says, please,” and the Countess nodded at the butler as she took the envelope and handed it to Bella who handed it to Drake. The guest, a puzzled look on his face, took the liberty of pouring himself a brandy and settled in to a chair by the fire.

Drake knew it was already to late to call in the servants. And as he opened the letter he had already guessed at what had happened. Their security measures had kept Rannesin at bay. The contents of the envelope however remained a mystery. But only for a moment. The message, addressed to John Drake, read as follows …

“Mr. Drake, I congratulate you. This is twice now you best me, here tonight and with my niece in Montreal. I was able to receive your shortwave message. Your security is very good. To many people in to many places for me. It is fine. We play cat and mouse again some another day. But next time I think I will be the cat.”

It was signed “Georgio”.


“The servants had been dutifully rounded up and the gardener was missing. Bella sent word that the surrounding area be searched, giving few details other than a good description of the gardener. I had stepped outside the kitchen door to smoke. In the light of the match, next to the steps and partially hidden by shrubbery, were bits and pieces of what looked like flesh-colored rubber. The remnants of Rannesin’s disguise. The description called in by Bella would do no good. I wondered what it was that he had altered? His nose, or mouth, the cheek bones? Would I recognize him the next time we met? The next time we played cat and mouse?”


Epilogue: The night air was crisp and clear as our agent returned to his room in the village. He would leave in the morning, after a good nights rest. And two doors down Georgio Rannesin turned out the light, and with the smile of one who had lost a chess match to an equal, turned over and went peacefully to sleep. There would be other matches.

Danger Man: “Georgio” … Part 1

Excursionist in Italian Countryside

The Italian countryside was beautiful. Pity Drake and Bella don’t have time to enjoy it.

A few days ago I promised an ongoing thorn in the side of our agent, Mr. Drake. Today … delivery.


Prolog: “Every agent has his emissary. Bond, Blofeld; Holmes, Moriarty; Flint, Lisa Norton. John Drake also has his own. A messy situation? Well that’s when they usually match wits or something like that. Oh yes, his name is Rannesin, Georgio Rannesin.”



“NO!” The other man growled into his plate. “We still don’t know what he looks like. If it weren’t for Estonia we wouldn’t know this much.”

Drake sipped his coffee thoughtfully. “I’ll wire Nigel tonight.”


“The Countess Ghirlandaio would be expecting us, of course. She had been a freedom fighter in the Italian underground during World War Two and had been an invaluable operative ever since. I was sure it wasn’t her Rannesin was after. It was the message she would receive from Romania the day after tomorrow that he would try to intercept. Bella and I would need to act fast in order to be in place by then.”


Drake and Bella stood before the huge door. The Villa, long-deserted, had been repaired, at least in part, by the Countess. It was still “under construction” but the west end was finished and livable. Tonight would be the unveiling. There were six guests and six servants. Of the guests they were certain of five. The servants, with the exception of the butler, were all new. Two maids, a cook, the chauffeur and the grounds keeper. The butler, a Frenchman by the name of Blondeau, had been with the countess for twenty years. The maids and cook being women the list was narrowed down to the one guest, the gardener, and the chauffeur. One of these might be Rannesin. Or he could be in hiding. Now their job was to be there, be in place, be ready. The door opened and the butler queried, “May I help you?”

Bella flipped out his I.D. and in a most business like way, with just a touch of minor-bureaucrat pomp, said, “Would you please inform the Countess Ghirlandaio that we are here to inspect the building for safety?”

“And you are?” The butler looked intently at the building inspector I.D.

“I am Inspector Clouseau, this is my assistant,” he motioned towards Drake, “Carlo.” Drake made a slight bow, tipping his head down to one side.

“You should know that the Countess is having a dinner party this evening.” The butler raised one eyebrow as if to show disapproval.

“I understand. Rest assured that we shall be as unobtrusive as possible. But laws MUST be obeyed.” And Bella raised an eyebrow as though to trump the butler’s authority.

“Please come in. I will go to the Countess. You gentlemen may make yourselves comfortable. I’m sure the Countess will receive you shortly.”


“We’d gained entry easily enough. Our next step, after having provided the Countess with the appropriate code so that she would know we were agents, was to wait and watch and inspect the house. Of course it was the people in the house, the guest, Fernando Restrepo, the gardener, Adamo, and the chauffeur, Palmiro, that we’d be inspecting. Rannesin could be any one of these three men or he could be hidden in the Villa or on the grounds. We would have to intercept him before he intercepted the courier and his message. Our messenger was of course being followed and guarded. But given the importance of the message to be delivered and the chance to catch Rannesin we couldn’t leave anything to chance. Discovering who he was or locating where he was hiding was now our primary concern. And the clock was ticking.”


“Open the door, please,” and Bella motioned for the gardener to unlock the utility shed. Once inside the wiring was dutifully inspected. So where the nooks and corners. There was no other way in or out and they found no evidence of anything other than grounds keeping equipment. The garage was their next stop.

Inside the garage no one was evident. However the two cars both had trunks that could be used as hiding places. Drake opened each in turn with a pick while Bella stood near the garage door watching, ready to give the signal in case some one approached. The garage and the cars were empty.

There were only two possibilities now. Rannesin was not hiding in the villa, which meant one of two things. He was one of the three men who were suspect or he was hidden on the grounds.


“All we could do now was continue to inspect, slowly, while watching and waiting. The courier was scheduled to arrive with the message in two hours.”


Part 2 … later.