For All Nails #250: Guy Walks Into A Bar

by David Mix Barrington

Rocky's Bar
Bridgetown, Barbados
23 January 1976

Phil Jackson, amiable Tory playboy, was getting on very well with the woman he'd just picked up. Of course, that woman was his wife of three years, but no one on this island, much less in this bar, knew that. Mrs. Astrid Jackson had been here before, but in her proper persona -- presently she looked no more Scandinavian than did the current Miss Chiapas. And she wasn't so differently built upstairs, Phil thought admiringly.

Small talk sucessfully having been pursued and a quiet table having been obtained, the pair's low-voiced Spanish conversation turned to technical matters. A wireless overhearer could pick them up, of course, but the device embedded in his pocket knife by the Mexican Army claimed that there was no wireless overhearer in range. An acceptable risk, he thought, and began.

"So what do you think of our crowd?"

"The fellow with two gold chains looks wrong," Anita/Astrid replied.

"Definitely. He's not even Bajan, for one thing." FN1

"You're sure? I've never been very good on Negro facial types." Astrid placed very high standards on herself, of course, when it came to things like personal recognition.

"I'm sure. People live on a little island like this for a few centuries, they get a look to them. Plus, he just looks unmixed -- I'd be willing to bet all four of his grandparents were from the same village in West Africa."

He paused. "The Brits hire West Africans, of course."

"So they do."

"Have you made both the Bajan millies?"

"Both? The one in the football shirt, definitely. There's another? Heh. End of the bar, gold earring?"

"Have I told you that I love you lately?"

"Not lately enough," she purred, in a totally Anita-like way. "Now they've made Mr. Gold Coast for sure. But you don't like it."

"No. Trying to sneak in a foreigner on the basis that he's just another Negro? Too obvious even for the second-team Brits that've been here for a while. Much too obvious for our guy."

"A first-team Brit," she said, with an almost Astrid-like turn of her mouth.

"A first-team Brit, recruited for a major operation on Barbados."

"Which we still know essentially nothing about."

That was for sure. It was clear what the Brits wanted here -- a reversal of the current Labour government's de facto withdrawal from the United Empire and alliance with the CNA. But how exactly could a covert operation bring that about? He gave voice to his speculation.

"Somehow it involves the Bajan establishment. My guess is they're up to something with some of the fringe elements of the Empire Party. You really want a guess, maybe they're going to set up Worrell with a live boy or a dead girl. FN2 It's about the only thing that could bring down his government before another election."

Astrid/Anita thought for a moment. "I wouldn't do that first thing if I were them. You'd have a better shot taking it slow. Civil disorder."

"In Barbados? This may be the least disorderly country in the world, you realize."

"That can always change, or be changed. First a crime wave, then some petty provocation of the militia, fights at political rallies. Then you shoot one or two politicians, then you reveal your dirty pictures of Worrell, declare martial law, and invite in the Brits."

Both Anita and Astrid, Phil thought, were ruthless. It was a good thing they were both on his side.

Whichever side that might be, of course. Astrid was nominally working for her homeland, the Kingdom of Scandinavia, a Brit ally. And for United Dry Goods Factfinding and Forecasting, another Brit ally, not that they'd heard anything from that quarter since Bali. As Major Felipe Jackson, Phil himself should be advancing the interests of Mexico, officially neutral but cheering pretty hard for New Granada from the sidelines.

Phil and Astrid cared about Barbados itself -- keeping it safe and at peace, as it was now under the aegis of the CNA. That meant finding out what the Brits were planning, and putting a stop to it. A job for the CBI, you'd think, but unless they were far better hidden than Phil thought likely, they had no presence here. Strange that Phil Jackson should be working on behalf of his totally fictional Tory citizenship...

Phil resumed his surveillance of the front door of Rocky's out of the corner of his eye. "Anyway," he said, "when this Brit superagent shows up he's going to look more Bajan than any of the Bajans here. He might really be Bajan, or a Brit with real Bajan parents."

A Bajan guy walked into the bar. Phil felt a sudden intuitive connection being made in his brain. "In fact, he will look very much like him."

Anita took in the newcomer out of the corner of her eye. Suddenly she rose from the table, picked up her rum punch, and emptied it in Phil's face.

"Como atreves, pinche naco!" she shouted. FN3 Once every eye in the bar was on her, she gave Phil a hard slap across the cheek, turned, and stomped off in the general direction of the man who had just walked in.

Forward to FAN #251: The Armenian Quarter.

Forward to 8 March 1976: The Last Straw.

Return to For All Nails.

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