Day 3

This is a preview to the chapter Day 3 from the book CIA Fall Guy by Phyllis Zimbler Miller.
Please note this text is copyright protected.

The clock at the diner wall said 3:00. That is, 3 a.m. Charles hid a yawn behind his hand. The sugar he’d added to his coffee punctured the surface in clumps, mountain tops reappearing as the biblical great flood waters receded.

Charles smiled. He often waxed poetic in the wee hours of the morning. Anything to keep awake. And it was important to be alert. As Sherlock Holmes said, “The game’s afoot.”

The outside door slammed. Charles glanced at the man who entered. At the bar in Georgetown hours earlier the man had worn urban casual to fit in with the trendy Georgetown professionals. Now the man, dressed in jeans and a flannel shirt, could pass as a trucker.

“For Christ sake, Charles,” the man said as he slid into the booth, “can’t you look a little more like a trucker than that?”

“What’s wrong with my outfit, Matthew?”

“It looks like it came from L.L. Bean instead of Sears. You’re supposed to be inconspicuous.”

Charles waved his hand around the room. “There’s almost nobody here. And the people who are here are too tired to notice that my trucker clothes are somewhat off.”

Matthew shrugged, then signaled the waitress for coffee.

“Why’d you call?” Charles said.

“It’s a surprise. We’re being joined by two others.”

Charles’ expression didn’t change, but his mind raced. Who would Matthew have summoned in the middle of the night to meet with them? None of their current projects was far enough along to warrant such precipitous action. What was going on here?

The waitress slopped another coffee cup onto the table. Charles pushed the sugar bowl towards Matthew. “Would you like the sugar?”

Matthew laughed. “I love your manners. It’s so nice to have an aristocrat on our team.”

“I can’t help who I am.”

Matthew dumped two teaspoons into his coffee. “It’s partly why you’re so useful to us.”

Behind Matthew the door slammed again. Frederick Schmidt, also wearing a flannel shirt and jeans, strode toward them, followed by a foreigner in a cheap suit.

“Frederick’s guest looks more out of place than I do,” Charles said.

“There wasn’t time to get him the right clothes.”

Frederick and the guest came up to the booth.

“Charles and Matthew,” Frederick said, “may I present Hans Wermer — the man you planned to kill.”

Charles’ stomach flip flopped. “How is this possible?”

Frederick smiled and motioned for Hans to sit. “A natural mistake. When you told us a German agent for the Americans was arriving, we told you we wanted to take the traitor out. Who knew it was my old friend?”

Charles’ stomach executed another series of acrobatic maneuvers.

“Yes,” Frederick said. “Hans appeared to be an American agent but he was actually a double agent — always working for the Fatherland.”

Charles studied the face across from him. German, perhaps some Slavic blood at one time, eyes hooded. The hands clasped on the table were calloused, veined. Edging on old age.

Charles spoke to Frederick. “And how did he come to survive the hit and find you?”

Frederick turned to Hans. “Please.”

“The sniper had bad aim...”

“The sun was in my eyes,” Matthew said.

“...and hit the driver first. I run into the trees. When the sniper looks for me, I circle back, take the driver’s keys from his body. Then I reach the car and drive off.”

“The undergrowth made tracking difficult,” Matthew said.

“Stop making excuses,” Frederick said. “It is well that you failed at your mission.”

Now Charles spoke to Hans. “And how did you know what Frederick has been doing? Where to find him?”

Hans nodded. “I knew where to find him — he wrote to his family back home. Until a few hours ago I did not know what he has been doing since his defection. It is amazing — his operation here in the United States.”

Matthew gulped his coffee. “Yes, it is extensive. And we can use another dedicated man. I understand you’ve agreed to join our cause?”

“I have pledged myself to help you — with the return promise that you will help me. Because I too have a plan.”

“What plan?” Charles said.

“The one I maneuvered coming to the United States in order to carry out. I must get even with the American at the CIA who — how do you say it? — did me wrong.”

“Who’s the man?” Charles said.

“George MacIntosh.”

Charles clenched his teeth. His stomach could have won the Olympic parallel bars competition. “Are you sure?”


“English, Hans, use English,” Frederick said.

Charles thought quickly what he should say next. He said, “We have to first deal with the CIA’s search for Hans. Perhaps we can allow Hans to contact the CIA and thus meet George directly.”

Matthew shook his head at Charles. “It could be a trap. If George knows Hans has a score to settle, he may be planning to kill Hans himself.”

Charles sipped his coffee, buying time. The soggy mess was cold.

He replaced the coffee cup on its saucer. “This whole affair has gotten out of control. We have a civilian — brought in by George to identify Hans — on the run. We have my CIA colleague looking for the civilian. And we have CIA resources watching for Hans.”

“This civilian, who is she?” Matthew said.

“Beth Parsons, late 40s, widow of an Army officer working in military intelligence in Germany when he died in a bomb explosion at the Frankfurt Officers Club in 1972,” Charles said. “At the time she worked for the 66th MI Group typing field reports that were shared with the CIA.”

“What’s her connection to me?” Hans said.

“Supposedly saw you when you tried to make contact with Jack Lockheim at a restaurant in Munich. Only one alive on our side known to have seen you at least once.”

“Jack Lockheim!” Hans said.

Frederick laughed. “She is to identify someone she only saw for a moment so many years ago?”

“I know, but George insisted,” Charles said.

“Maybe she knows more than George let on to you,” Matthew said. “Maybe she’s a threat to Hans.”

Charles shook his head. “Surely not. She hasn’t had any contact with intelligence sources for 25 years.”

“Still, we can’t be too careful,” Matthew said. “She could be a threat. Better to remove her.”

The coffee sloshed in Charles’ stomach. “Remove her! What are you talking about?”

“You know,” Frederick said. “And you’ll have to help us by telling us where she is.”
Beth twisted in bed, angling her wrist to the light filtered through the crumbling curtains. Some day she’d get one of those neat watches with a face that could be read in the dark. That’s if she lived long enough to go shopping again.

Her back ached from the lumpy mattress, her eyes itched from the feather pillow, and her stomach sloshed acid. It was 5 a.m. and time to get going. But where?

Some remote place not connected with her where she could hang out for a few days until the CIA moved on to more important people. And left her alone.

A teensy spider crawled along the bedspread. As a teenager she’d screamed and yelled with her friends whenever they’d seen any bugs. As an adult, she’d learned there were real dangers to be frightened of while most bugs were harmless. This was not always true of most humans.

She swung her legs over the edge of the bed. Could she take a shower without alerting everyone in this wing of the motel that she was up?

This wasn’t a motel that provided amenities such as shampoo and conditioner. But her toiletry kit she’d transferred from her suitcase at Kathleen’s apartment had a small traveling bottle of shampoo. Even if she was hiding out, she didn’t want a scratchy scalp.

The hot water sloshed the shampoo suds down her body. Okay, who did she know? Or where had she been that was truly remote?

Yuk, she closed her mouth. Soap had slid down her throat — she’d been pre-occuppied with the answer.

Lance’s A-frame in Cape Cod. An overpopulated area and he found the only isolated A-frame in the entire peninsula. She had freaked the time she had stayed with him — total blackness pressing in on the glass windows forming two sides of the structure with the wind and unseen animals howling for good measure. Lance’s insistence on reciting ghost stories had only worsened her fear.

Yet the CIA was nothing to sneer at. Given her choice, she’d take the unseen animals over the visible CIA representatives.

Poor Lance. He wouldn’t appreciate being awoken so early. But she had to get out of here.
Kathleen lifted her left hand from the steering wheel and rubbed her eyes. It had been a hellish night. She’d been leery of using CIA contacts at first, worried that someone would alert George of what she was doing.

So for several hours she’d tried using her own resources to access credit card information. No such luck. She had to call the professionals. And, bingo, Beth’s card number had surfaced at a motel near the airport.

And here was the motel itself. A nondescript clump of peeling stucco buildings with cars parked outside some of the rooms.

The lobby door slammed behind her. The clerk at the desk, a young guy with a ponytail, jerked upright.

“Hi. I’m Beth Parsons’ friend. I was supposed to meet her here. What room is she in?”

The clerk gave her the once over. No sweat. She looked presentable. And she wasn’t carrying, so no revealing waist bulge.

“Room 6 — around the corner on the first floor. But isn’t it early to meet someone?”

“Not when you have an early flight. Thanks for the help.”

Kathleen approached room 6. The curtain was closed, same as in the rooms on either side of 6. Should she knock? That would put Beth on guard and who knew what she might do then. Besides, she was probably still sleeping. Why rudely awake her?

Kathleen unzipped an inner pocket in her purse and lifted out two delicate instruments, the main tools for lock picking. Hold one to spring the lock while fiddling with the other. She began the negotiations.

Damn! The pick slipped. She gripped it as tightly as her sweaty palms would allow. Sure, she had practiced this before, but she’d never done it for real.

She pried again for an opening — and the lock clicked open. She’d done it!

She slid the door open a crack. Her luck held — no giveaway creak. In the dark she could just make out a lumpy form on the bed.

She pushed the door wider and slipped through, tiptoeing to the bed.

“Beth,” she said. “Beth, time to wake up.”

She reached for Beth’s shoulder, but the bedspread came away in Kathleen’s hand, flopping onto her feet. Shit! Shit! Shit!

Kathleen spun back to the door, fumbling for the light switch.

The ceiling fixture revealed — no Beth in the bed!

A quick check of the bathroom revealed no Beth there either.

Kathleen sank onto the bed. She felt nauseous, the same as when she suffered her annual winter bout of the flu, complete with a pounding head.

It was so early in the morning. How could Beth be gone?

Kathleen grabbed the phone, calling a number that was answered on the first ring.

“Doug, it’s Kathleen. I need a favor. Can you tell me if any calls were made from this number I’m on within the last few hours? I’ll hold.”

Kathleen yanked open the drawer in the nightstand table. Nada. Not even a Gideon Bible. She stood up, cradled the phone against her shoulder, and felt under the bedframe. Her right hand came up with a condom in a foil package.
Shit again!

Doug was talking. “Repeat it once more.” Kathleen was good at remembering numbers; if she heard a phone number once or twice, it was usually hers for life.

“Registered to a Lance Edwards? Thanks. I owe you.”

She dialed again, first the calling card number, then the number Doug had given her.

It was now 6 a.m. on the East Coast. People should still be safely home in bed.
Come on, come on, answer the phone.

On the third ring a male voice, befuddled with sleep, mumbled hello.
George ran his fingers over the edge of his desk. Solid. He liked solid things. Gave him a good feeling, a foundation on which to depend.

This current situation, with everything going to hell in a handbasket, was not solid. It was slippery, as slippery as any situation he’d worked on over his long career. In fact, in some ways this was slippery. They were on U.S. soil, an area where the CIA was legally not supposed to run operations. CIA was to leave U.S. operations to the FBI boys. But this was not something he could trust to the FBI. They were too narrow-minded, too sure of themselves. He needed creative thinking here — plus a little help from others.

Mark had reported that Beth was traveling north; she’d left her motel before six this morning. He’d stay with her, see what was going on.

Maybe Kathleen would report in later. George had been notified that she’d used the agency’s resources to locate Beth, but Mark had seen no sign of Kathleen. Presumably she’d gotten to the motel too late.

George opened a desk drawer and removed his bottle of Maalox chewable tablets. He liked the lemon ones — the cherry ones were chalky. He took four, the maximum suggested dosage. It was going to be that kind of a day.
A knock on his office door. Charles, summoned for a planning meeting.


Charles took his usual chair, swinging his right leg across his left knee. George had secretly practiced the maneuver at home, but he couldn’t achieve the same fluid movement Charles did. Maybe George was too old to learn new tricks. Or maybe you had to be born to that graciousness.

“What do you hear?” Charles said.

“No more than what I told you before. But while we wait to see where Beth’s going and what Kathleen’s doing, we need to concentrate on finding Hans Wermer.”

Charles smiled. “He’s the needle in the haystack.”

“You can say that again.”

Charles coughed, his hand covering his mouth. “George?”


“You did say that Mark Haskell was keeping an eye on Beth, didn’t you?”

George nodded. What was Charles getting at?

“He would be prepared to protect her if ... the elements that took out Ralph try to take her out?”

“Of course,” George said. “But do you seriously think she’s in any danger?”

Charles gave an elegant shrug of his shoulders. How did he do that?

“We have no idea what’s going on here,” Charles said. “Just wanted to make sure we’re prepared for any contingency.”

“That’s what the CIA is for, to protect American interests.” George glanced at his flag.

Then he stared across his desk at Charles. Perhaps ol’ Charles seemed a little unruffled? Not his usual unflappable self?

George rubbed his brow. Maybe he was seeing bogeymen. He hadn’t had much sleep last night. Sleep deprivation could do funny things to one’s mind.

He smiled at Charles. Best to change the subject. “Did I ever tell you the time, I think it was ‘54 in Taiwan, when the army decided civilian employees should have uniforms and asked us what we thought?”
Charles drove the back way, staying off the main roads. He had told the secretary he had a meeting at the Pentagon, would be back before lunch. He did have a meeting, agreed upon in the early hours at the trucker’s roadside stop, but not at the Pentagon.

George had seemed a bit off this morning. Of course, Beth Parsons was missing, Hans Wermer was missing, and Kathleen was pretending she was in operations, not to mention Ralph had been killed. Still, their business was the unexpected. George shouldn’t be riled by this.

Charles checked the rearview mirror. No one was following. Good, because he was in a tricky spot, yes indeed. He had to think carefully before committing to any action.

Yet this meeting now couldn’t be avoided. Matthew expected him. And expected the information he could provide — where Beth Parsons was at this exact moment.
An hour north of New York City David considered his options. He needed gas. If he did, didn’t the woman? And a bathroom pit stop would be welcome. Could he risk pulling off now and catching up with her in 10 minutes?

The sensation in his groin decided him. He exited the highway, filled the car and emptied himself.

When he got back on, he calculated how long at a slightly increased speed he would need to go to catch up with Beth and her tail. He couldn’t increase his speed too much or risk drawing the attention of the highway patrol.

The radio sputtered, the signal weaving in and out. He flipped to a new channel. It was a mistake. He flipped it off, but not before hearing a few bars of the oldie but goodie song “Soldier Boy.”

Jenny was driving her ‘63 Corvair up Highway 1. They were only a few miles south of San Francisco. “I can’t talk about it anymore,” she’d said, then turned the radio on for distraction. “Soldier Boy” filled the car while Jenny said, her eyes on the road ahead, “I won’t marry you now, but I promise” — and she sang along with the song — “I’ll be true to you.”

Promises are made to be broken, isn’t that what his mother had always warned him?

Jenny hadn’t even waited until his R and R in Hawaii. Just written him a Dear John letter after he’d been in-country only four months that she’d met someone new. Hoped he was keeping his head down in Saigon.

His first reaction had been to volunteer for an assignment smack dab in the action, some small firebase upriver. His superior officer had convinced him to continue with his current assignment. The work in the Phoenix program was too important to hand off to someone else.

The Phoenix program. Assassination of targeted Vietcong officials.

But it had brought him to the attention of the CIA boys. And when his two years of ROTC active duty commitment were ending, they had approached him, convinced him to sign on for life. He had nothing to go home for.

But Jenny, oh Jenny. With her long brown hair and love beads. How he had loved her. And how, after her betrayal, he had never trusted another woman.

Of course, that didn’t mean he’d been celibate. Far from it. But a CIA field operative moved around a lot, had a lot of masters to answer to, could not be expected to forge a long-term relationship.

David checked the speedometer. Only 10 miles over the speed limit. Not too bad. But where was that woman? He should have seen her by now.

Above him a helicopter buzzed the road, swooping so low that David could make out three people — a pilot and two passengers — wearing dark baseball caps.
Was the pilot showing off his skill or were they looking for someone?

David increased his speed another five miles. He had to do something to find that woman.

There! Up ahead was the tail. She couldn’t be far ahead.

David just hoped the tail hadn’t pulled off the road too, then also lost Beth.

David’s palms itched, a sure indication he was nervous.

Not to worry. He’d find his target. He always did.
Beth pulled off the road. She needed gas and a restroom stop. And a late breakfast would be great. The gas station attendant recommended a restaurant a mile down the road — “best pancakes in five counties.” Beth doubted he knew that for a fact, but she was hungry enough to eat any pancakes.

She drove out of the station. The April showers had brought May flowers, and Beth wished she wasn’t such an urban dweller that she didn’t even know the names of the color-spangled blooms bordering the road.

Up ahead she could see the restaurant, the only building on this stretch of country road.

The whirring of the helicopter’s blades slammed against her ears. What the hell?

She peered upwards through the windshield. She could see nothing. Yet the noise screamed directly above her.

She twisted her head an inch or two out the side window. It was above her — a little off to the right — and coming towards her!

Without conscious thought, reacting with her body the way she’d been taught in karate, she yanked the wheel towards the right, meeting the attack and sliding under the helicopter’s skids off into the trees edging the road. Thank heavens she’d rented a Jeep. She switched to four-wheel drive and kept going.

Branches slapped against the car, the vehicle went up and down over debris.

The tree trunks were far enough apart for her car to pass through yet the foliage was dense enough to from a canopy above her.

When she could no longer hear the whir of the blades she stopped the car.

Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit! Had the CIA found her? Were they only trying to get her to stop, or were they trying to rub her out too? What the hell was going on?

She stumbled from the car, pulling her backpack with her. She crouched on the ground, pawing through the backpack, then extracted a silver-plated hand mirror. It had been a gift from Stephen. She kept it as polished as the day he had given it to her, saying “So you can see the face I love so much.” Now the mirror showed her sweat on her forehead and fear in her eyes.

Twigs crackled behind her. A spurt of adrenalin leaped inside her. The mirror fell from her hands as she jumped up and twirled towards the sounds.

A man strode towards her. She pushed her breath down into her diaphragm, thinking of direction, thinking of her focus. He was a foot away, the perfect distance. She swiveled her body to her right, stretched her left leg to his left leg and snapped at his ankle, breaking his balance and toppling him to the ground.

She squatted next to him and jabbed her elbow in his back, the vulnerable part where his spleen was. “Yes!”

In the next instant she was yanked forward and rolled backward onto the ground, then pinned under the man’s body. She struggled to get away, trying to remember self-defense moves she’d learned, but all she could think of was how heavy he was pressed against her chest.

“Give up?” the man said. “I’ll let you up if you promise not to attack me again.”

“Who are you?” she said, her words muffled in his chest.

He rolled off her, but kept her pinned down. “Promise? And don’t cross your fingers.”

“I promise,” she said. He rolled off her.

Instantly she was on her feet, swinging her leg up to smash his knee.

He caught her leg midair and yanked her towards him, breaking her fall by bearhugging her.

“You promised!”

“I lied. Besides, promises are made to be broken.”

He yanked her arm behind her. “Now stop it. I’m a friend.”

“Some friend.”

“If I let go this time, will you not attack?”

She nodded and the man released her arm. She stood inches from him; his body heat fanning towards her.

She stuck her tongue out. “I didn’t say ‘cross my heart and hope to die.’”

“You may get that wish if you don’t stop attacking me.”

“Who the hell are you?” she asked.

“I’m with the Company.”

“The what?”

“Company. The CIA.”

Oh, right. “That’s what they all say.”

“Would you like to see my ID?”

Beth nodded, then read the ID card he held out. “IDs can be faked. What do you want? And where’s the helicopter you tried to kill me with?”

He picked up her backpack from the ground and thrust it at her hand. “We have to get out of here and you have to trust me.”

She glared at him. “Not bloody likely.”

“Shut up and listen. We’ll take the Jeep over land, avoiding the highways. I’ve got a plane waiting.”

“A plane?”

“It’s faster than a helicopter.”

When she didn’t move towards the Jeep he pulled at her arm, propelling her forward.

She tried to grab hold of a tree branch. “I have to get something I dropped.”

He didn’t let go of her arm, so she pulled against him, dragging him with her to the spot where she’d let go of Stephen’s mirror. She swooped up the mirror with the hand whose arm he held.

The man yanked her back towards the car, holding her far enough away from him that she couldn’t try any grip-loosening karate moves.

“Hey, where’s your car?” she said.

“It’s hidden in the woods. Someone will retrieve it.” He shoved her into the Jeep’s passenger side and slammed the passenger door shut.

Beth pushed open her door — he was so quick he was in the driver’s seat and reaching over her to re-slam the door before she could get out.

“Buckle your safety belt,” he said.

She glared at him. “Nothing better happen to this car — it’s charged to my credit card.”

“That was your first mistake.”

Shit, shit, shit.
David turned the car into a cart track overhung with oak trees. They were only a couple of miles from the plane.

He glanced over at the woman slumped against the passenger window, asleep or pretending to be.

It had been a lucky hunch when, looking for her car, he had turned off at the faded road exit sign announcing “last gas for 30 miles.” He knew her tank had to be low; he suspected that warning would have rattled her. The tail had sailed right by the exit.

He’d chatted up the gas station attendant. David had asked if he had just missed his wife, who was driving their other car to their new home on Cape Cod. “Yeah,” the guy had said, “but I think she went down the road to get a bite to eat.”

David had followed the man’s outstretched arm.

Ahead down the road he could see no Jeep in front of the restaurant. What there had been were swerving tire tracks a half block before the restaurant, tracks that led right off the road and didn’t reappear.

He’d followed in his rental car, which didn’t take kindly to the terrain, but the Company would pay the damage charges.

After a short distance the car refused to budge another inch. He’d abandoned it and walked along the Jeep’s trail. Luckily she hadn’t driven much further before stopping.

“Wake up, we’re here,” he said now, turning the engine off.

The woman jerked awake. “There’s not even a terminal.”

“This is what’s called a stripped-down runway. Just enough length to take off in a hurry.”

David tossed her backpack at her. She followed him out of the Jeep.

“What do we do with this car?” she said.

“Someone will get it and return it to the rental agency.”

“Remember to have the tank filled.”

David motioned her towards the waiting plane. “You’re unbelievable. Now move quickly. We’re vulnerable.”

“Vulnerable to what?”

David didn’t bother to answer, simply leading the way to the plane’s door. Beth was behind him, but suddenly she switched directions and ran back towards her car. Shit! She still hadn’t learned she couldn’t get away from him.

He turned to go back for her. Shots whistled past his ears.

“Get down, get down!” He raced towards the car, dragging her down with him, using the car as a shield. He yanked his gun from a waist holster and returned fire.

The shots were coming from the periphery, he thought, probably only one shooter. The shooter was far away but with rather good aim, keeping them down but not shooting to kill.

David chanced jumping up for an instant and waved the plane towards them, then ducked down again.

The plane taxied towards them with the cargo bay door open. David, crouched over Beth, leaned down and said in her ear, “On the count of three, jump into the plane.”

“Are you crazy?”

“You want to stay here and get killed?”

“This is all your fault. I was doing fine before you ...”

David stood, yanked her up, and said, “1, 2, 3 — jump!”

They jumped together into the plane. The woman collapsed on the floor while David slammed the door and holstered his gun.

He yanked her off the floor and pushed her down into a jump seat. “Buckle your seat belt.”

“Are you nuts? We were just almost killed and you’re worried about wearing our seat belts on takeoff.”

David leaned over and snapped her belt closed. “Listen, you idiot, we wouldn’t have almost gotten killed if you hadn’t tried to play hide-and-seek. What the hell is the matter with you?”

“I don’t trust you. Why should I? You turned up in the middle of nowhere and attacked me.”

“I didn’t attack you. You attacked me. And trust is not an issue here. Survival is.”

Her face flushed, accentuating her brown eyes. “Yeah, sure. Which of your good ‘friends’ was shooting at us? I can understand that they find you maddening enough to want to kill you.”

David checked out the window. The plane had cleared the tree tops, they were circling out to sea. Good, very good.

“I have no idea,” he said. “I thought you might know.”

“Me? Let’s hear what you’ve got to say.”

“Ladies first.”

Beth twisted away from him. “I’m not talking. Anything I say can — and probably will — be used against me. You’re probably wearing a wire right now.”

That comment didn’t merit a response. He smiled. “I hope you didn’t take the collision waiver for your car. It’s going to be a little worse for wear.”

The woman glared at him. He stared out the window.

The intercom overhead cackled: “David, we’re coming up on the Maine coast. Do we continue as planned?”

“Yes,” he said, raising his voice to be heard through the cloth partition separating them from the cockpit. “All the way to Munich.”

“Munich?” Beth said.

Her face had changed – something about her eyes. “You lived there, didn’t you?” he said.

He saw her hands tremble. She clasped them together. “I was there from September ‘70 to May ‘72. I missed the Olympic massacre.”

“And the bomb at the Frankfurt Officers Club.”

Tears caught in the creases of her eyelids. “I did. My husband Stephen didn’t.”
Lunch eaten at a hot dog stand on Capitol Mall. Charles splashed mustard on his all-beef hot dog and seated himself on a bench facing the oldest building of the Smithsonian. He munched to the oom-pah-pah of the miniature merry-go-round nearby, only one facet of the carnival atmosphere on the Mall from April to October, when Washington D.C. was overrun by tourists.

As a teenager growing up in a privileged home in Boston, he’d been an avid reader of the memoirs of the early presidents and other statesmen. Whenever his family would visit Washington — his father, a patent attorney, often had cause to come — he and his younger sister, Allison, would dash to the red-brick Smithsonian building and its surrounding museums. Charles would vary the order of his visits, soaking up Americana as well as the natural history displays. Allison would dash to her all-time favorite, the First Ladies’ hall, where mannequins of the presidents’ wives and official hostesses modeled their inaugural gowns. Her second stop would be the gem collection, oohing and aahing at the Hope Diamond and the other magnificent precious stones. It had been a precious stone, housed in a private collection, that had cost Allison her life.

A jogger slid to a halt in front of Charles. “Can you tell me where ...?”

“What is it, Matthew? Why did you signal again? I’ve been gone from the office so much today ...”

“We lost her. She got away and we couldn’t pick up her trail.”

Had they lost her due to Mark Haskell’s efforts? Charles couldn’t risk asking George. Nor could he warn Matthew about Mark. If Matthew took Mark out, George would know that Charles was the leak.

“Look, why not leave her out of it and concentrate on Hans’ objective?” Charles said.

Matthew glanced over Charles’ shoulder. What did he see there? Was Frederick nearby with a long-range listening device, checking out this conversation?

“No can do. Can’t afford any loose ends. So where is she?”

“Over the Atlantic Ocean.”

“How is it that you’ve been able to give me such exact locations each time I’ve asked?”

“We have a tracking device inside her backpack. Its signal is picked up by satellite and transmitted back to Langley.”

Of course, since the signal was transmitted through Langley, Mark Haskell could only follow Beth Parsons by getting updates from Langley. While the delay was not that long, it could interfere with his babysitting mission.

“How’d you do that?”

“George never leaves anything to chance. Had Mark insert it when Kathleen and Beth were eating in the cafeteria.”

Matthew bent down to retie his shoe laces. “George suspected she’d take a powder?”

“If he did, he’s not saying.”

“Where’s the plane heading?”

“Flight plan is for Munich. My guess is the plane will land at a small field southeast of the city.”

“How’d she get hold of a plane?”

“George says he has no idea.”

Charles hesitated. He was about to add that Mark had reported she was now with an unidentified man. On second thought, Charles wanted to know who this man was before he revealed the info to Matthew. Nor did Charles want to volunteer that Mark had tried to stop Beth and the man from boarding the plane, had fired at them to force them to stop.

“Appreciate your help, Charles. You’ll hear from us later.”

Charles waited until Matthew had jogged farther down the Mall, then stood up and brushed the hot dog bun crumbs from his pants.

He glanced again at the Smithsonian. He would take a few minutes to visit the First Ladies’ hall — for Allison.
The greenery of May in Cape Cod camouflaged the A-frame. Following Lance Edward’s instructions, Kathleen pulled off the road at the indicated mailbox — handcarved with a duck waddling across the top.

Shit! No car here. Lance said you couldn’t drive any closer to the A-frame.

Either Beth was down the road buying groceries or she wasn’t here.

Kathleen’s hands trembled. This was definitely deja vu. Should she park her car back down the road or risk taking a quick look at the A-frame for signs of habitation?

A quick look. She wanted her car available for a fast getaway.

She climbed out of the car and strode down the path that wound around the trees. Just no dead body, please.

The ground in front of the door had no footprints. Lance had said he hadn’t been up here since last September. There was no neighbor who looked in on things for him. “I don’t keep anything of value up there; no reason to have anyone take a look-see.”

The key — under the planter on the front steps. She’d smiled when Lance had said it would be easy for her to check the A-frame. She hadn’t mentioned her delicate tools.

No one had been here. The dust on the floor and table lay undisturbed, except where Kathleen had stepped over the threshold.

Kathleen slammed one fist into another. Shit! Had she been duped? Had Beth
been smart enough to lay a false trail, or had she changed her plans?

Wait! Maybe Beth was behind Kathleen. If she had pulled off the highway for a leisurely breakfast and lunch, maybe she’d been here in the next hour or so.

Kathleen backed out of the A-frame and jogged to her car. Okay, she’d park her car down the road. Then walk back here to keep watch. But if Beth didn’t show in a couple of hours, Kathleen would have to bite the bullet and take the dreaded next step — call George and ask for help.
Two hours later Kathleen couldn’t postpone the phone call any longer. She’d staked out the A-frame and seen no one. Beth must have somehow sent Kathleen on a wild goose chase. Kathleen would never live this down.

She dialed George’s number. Maybe he’d already be gone for the day. Or at a meeting. Or anywhere.

He answered on the second ring.

“George, this is Kathleen.”

“Where have you been all day? I’ve been trying to reach you to see how our guest is doing. Figured you were showing her the sights of DC.”

“Our guest? She’s not doing so well. I mean, maybe she is, I just don’t know.”

“What are you talking about?”

“You see ... I mean ...”

“Spit it out.”

“Beth ... Beth has gone missing.”


“I left her locked in my apartment when I went to the office to ... get something I’d forgotten. She ... she climbed down a trellis while I was gone. I traced her to a motel outside DC and then to her supposed destination at a friend’s cottage on Cape Cod. That’s where I am now. But she hasn’t shown up. I don’t know where she is.”

Silence at the other end.

“George, George?”

Then he said, “We can’t have a civilian running around the country — she’s likely to talk to anyone. I’ll start a search. You come back here immediately.”

“Yes, sir.”
George smiled as he put the receiver down. Kathleen had finally decided to tell him she’d lost Beth.

Of course, Beth wasn’t really lost. George knew exactly where she was. But he wasn’t going to tell Kathleen that. He and Charles were having an extended laugh at her expense. Show her she wasn’t good enough for operations if she couldn’t even keep track of one harmless civilian.

George’s eyes found his flag. It stood for the United States, which had sent him overseas as a young enlisted man, just out of high school, to a military intelligence unit in Frankfurt a few years after the end of World War II.

The army had not been for him. He didn’t like having to share his living quarters, bathroom, meals with all the others. He was a solitary man, happiest with his own individual pursuits. But Germany had gotten to him, and he quickly learned German. He loved the chalets sprinkled like confetti across snow-covered fields perched among the army’s Bavarian recreation resorts, the opera houses, the theaters and the museums. It was a more cultured country than his own. The beer halls didn’t attract him, but the quiet German restaurants, those with the single waitress collecting the meal’s price in her leather purse fixed at her waist, offered him a solitary comfort that he craved.

When his two-year enlistment was up, he signed on to work as a civilian, taking college courses at the army’s overseas university to climb up the civil service ladder. The CIA had come knocking on his door one day, guaranteed him to stay on in Germany for several more years before a possible transfer elsewhere, which only now, at the end of his career, had become Langley.

He’d liked the possibilities the CIA offered. These fit in with the George MacIntosh he was becoming. Not the product of a Scottish father who spoke always of the beauty of the old country, but the son of a mother whose family had left their native Germany in the wake of the upheaval after World War I. They had never forgotten their homeland.

He reached for his phone again. He had to check on Mark, who should be arriving in Munich to catch up with Beth and identify her knight-in-shining-armor. George didn’t want to let her out of his sight until Hans Wermer was found.

And where the hell was Hans? The team assigned to search for him had reported to Charles that they had no leads although they’d alerted all the appropriate authorities. To the best of their knowledge he hadn’t flown back to Germany.

Where was he?
The reflection staring back at Hans from the mirror was rather frightening. The Speedy Messenger uniform looked silly on his beer-fed figure, the cap too small for his squarish head.

Yet Frederick had not wanted him to assist in the pursuit of the woman. “It is best that we stay here. Matthew will be going to Germany. With Charles’ help he’ll be able to locate Beth and deal with that threat.”

Could Hans start on his own plan then? He wanted to go back to DC, get close to George’s movements outside headquarters at Langley. See where he was vulnerable in his routine.

Frederick had said not yet, cautioned Hans against doing anything until they heard from Matthew. Hans had insisted; he could not stand to remain inactive so close to his goal. Frederick had then agreed, even offering to exchange Hans’ U.S. government vehicle for one of the messenger service’s cars “because they’ll be looking for that vehicle.”

Hans tipped his cap to the mirror. He’d been truthful with Frederick, but he had not shared all his plans. He had been better trained than that by the Americans, back when he had been given a short course in tradecraft.

Now, in a public restroom near the Lincoln Memorial, Hans watched his own face in the mirror, the grey eyebrows bunching together over his dark eyes, eyes that had learned to give nothing away, to be as empty as the store shelves had been in East Germany. Yes, an old man, perhaps a defeated man, but a man who had been given one last chance.

The uniform would protect him, Frederick had said. “It’s easy to hide behind a uniform.”

“Old men are messengers?” Hans had asked.

“Who else will hire them?”

Then Frederick had clapped his hand on Hans’ back. “But you must be careful not to jeopardize our mission. Look but don’t touch. When we’re ready, we’ll strike.”

"CIA Fall Guy brought me into an experience laced with history & contemporary intrigue. Miller reflects a solid knowledge of..."

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