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For All Nails #117: Hanging on the Telephone

by David Mix Barrington (with help from Johnny Pez)

New Orleans, Georgia, S.C., CNA
14 August 1974

"Barney La Mosca" was not the rent-a-spy's real name. But it was good enough for professional purposes, and carried its own advertisement -- hire "La Mosca" to be your own personal "fly" on the wall of your choice. And today, he thought, the fly had overheard something of interest to his client.

Target Alpha had spent the night at Target Beta's apartment, as he did about once a week. That was apparently of no interest to the client, though as a matter of routine Barney had produced a photographic record that would allow anyone who wished to prove conclusively that Alpha was having it off with Beta. (Alpha had a wife in Mexico, but they were already proceeding with a divorce action. If his current client finished with Alpha, though, there might be some interest on the part of Mrs. Alpha's solicitors.) (For that matter, Beta wasn't the only fish in the sea for Alpha -- he'd also had two one-night stands with different undergraduate students during the surveillance period.)

The client Barney knew only as "Biloxi Blondie" was interested in Alpha's contacts with Mexico, particularly any out of the ordinary. And Alpha seemed to consider this one out of the ordinary. He'd gotten a 'phone call from Gamma, his son, apparently in California. As Gamma had asked, Alpha then made contact with Delta, a lawyer in Mexico City, to set up a meeting there between Delta and Epsilon, a woman so far unidentified. He'd done so not from his own 'phone but from Beta's. Was he worried about surveillance at his end, or on Delta's?

Well, that was a matter for Biloxi Blondie once she got his report. She'd paid for his best work, and for his total discretion.

Aboard Private Yacht Jonquille
South Beach bearing WNW 15 miles
21 August 1974

Felipe Jackson paused to admire his wife's body as she climbed up the hatch from the darkroom. His helping hand quickly turned into an embrace, which Astrid broke off before she dropped the photographic prints.

"Not now, Felipe! You have to look at this."

"The mail from New Orleans?" Like much of their mail, it had contained a pinhead-sized object under the postage stamp. Astrid had evidently been at work with the enlarger.

"Yeah, the local guy I've got watching Robert Contreras. Looks like Robert is up to something FN1. Bobby, of all people, has 'information that must get into the hands of the President'." She waved the photographs by way of illustration. Felipe was briefly distracted by some ensuing secondary vibrations under Astrid's swimdress, but soon collected himself.

"Well, if it must get into El Popo's hands, it stands to reason it must get into our hands as well."

"My thoughts exactly. But Bobby didn't have the information itself -- he didn't even know what it was. He wanted one of El Popo's people to meet someone named Bianca Hammer in Mexico City.

Felipe sputtered. "Bianca Hammer? What kind of a stupid cover name is that?"

"I don't know, but Robert did set it up, for this Hammer to meet a lawyer friend of his named Osterman. Unfortunately, that was a whole week ago."

"So even if we went to Mexico, the trail would be pretty cold. And there's not going to be any paper records on this Bianca Hammer, that's for sure. Any ideas?"

Astrid turned up her mouth endearingly. "Can we maybe figure out who this mystery woman is? Who the hell finds out secret information and then uses a professor in California to pass it on? Who does Bobby know who has anything to do with investigating anything?"

"Wait a minute-- remember that argument Anna and Bobby had, about that book he was reading? Something about the Pedro Hermión assassination, by a lady historian?. Anna said it was flimsier than any theory she'd ever heard in a courtroom--" And Anna hadn't been too happy about Bobby's enthusiastic praise of the glamorous author, either. Perhaps not the newlyweds' first fight, but a fight to remember.

Astrid kissed him. "Felipe, you're a genius! The author was an old friend of his, right? What if she came up with another crazy theory, but this one has something to do with El Popo? And somehow it can't be all that crazy, if both Contrerases are ready to take it seriously. What the hell was her name? We need a library! Back to Miami?"

Felipe broke into a smile that he hoped wasn't too self-satisfied. "Actually, I'm even more of a genius. I think that book might be one of the ones they left behind as a thank-you gift." As he remembered, it had been at Anna's tight-lipped suggestion. He rummaged in a pile of papers and soon emerged with The Kronmiller Conspiracy, by Joan Kahn.

"Ok, so you are even more of a genius. Let's see, Justice Press, Thirty-third Street and Third Avenue, New York, New York, N.C., CNA." Another pause and turn-up of the mouth. "Let's see, if it was Joan Kahn, what do you want to bet she sent the secret information to her publisher? Time for a black-bag job in New York, I think."

"You want to set sail for New York?" A long way, Felipe thought, and late in the season...

Astrid gave an exaggerated shiver. "Not me, I'm staying right here where it's warm. No, F & F FN2 will have someone up there who can do the job and report back to us. We'll send out a message from Nassau FN3 when we get there. I suppose it's probably all nothing, right?"

"Probably. But you never know..."

Foward to FAN #118: Black September.

Forward to 14 August 1974: The Defector.

Forward to Caribbean: Waste Management.

Forward to Contreras Family: Where Are They Right Now?

Return to For All Nails.