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Red Tide
A Night At Frida's
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A Night At Frida's Place

Vincente Triganza took another sip of his bourbon and looked out over the top of his glass at Frida as she danced so effortlessly in her conversation from one intense subject to another.  Be it the passion for her art, the love for her many pets, the inevitability of Communist supremacy, the results of her most recent surgery, the idiocy of the PRM (and how it was losing its revolutionary ways in the face of the American capitalists and their bribes) to the joy she and all true Marxists felt at Hitler’s death, Frida Kahlo handled it all with consummate skill and elegance.  Yet, Vincente Triganza disagreed with much of her views. 

In fact, while Vincente found her to be exceptionally intelligent, utterly charming, a gifted artist, well educated, and passionately committed to her causes she was also politically naïve and something of a hypocrite.  That she could carry on so fluidly about Marx and Engels and the Dialectic while at the same time living in her fabulous house in Mexico City with a whole army of servants while the rest of the country was mired in poverty didn’t seem to register with her or phase her a bit.

But Frida didn’t invite Vincente to her party because of his views.  In fact neither Frida nor Diego had invited Vincente Triganza to their party at all.  They had however, invited Miguel Rivas to their party and they thoroughly enjoyed Miguel’s views and took great delight in sharing their views with him and in introducing him to their friends who could further “enlighten” the poor Miguel about the real politics of the world and how only Communism was going to be its salvation.  For this party and for all of his other work for the OSS in Mexico Vincente Triganza had become Miguel Ramon Rivas and that is who he was again that night.

Vincente took all those introductions and “enlightenments” in stride and was an apt student in listening to them.  He learned a lot from this “enlightenment.”  First off he saw just how full of it so many of these so called “intellectuals” were and how divorced they were from the real world they proclaimed to know so much about.  He also began learning who was who in the Mexican Communist movement and who was most likely reporting back to Moscow.  Vincente would then make his own reports - but his went to Washington, not the Kremlin.   Vincente wasn’t so full of himself to think that Wild Bill himself was hanging on every word but he knew someone was reading them and they were keeping him busy by having him run all over northern Mexico to keep tabs on things. 

Officially it was to run his canned food business.  That was one thing which endeared him to the likes of Frida and Diego.  He had a real deal going with that.  He bought his food stock, beans mostly, from American farmers and had been doing so for years now, having started this before the war.  Back then, Miguel had secured his supplies from these American farmers by signing multi-year contracts which locked in the prices at which they could sell their harvests to him.  At the time, this seemed somewhat foolish and unprofitable.  But once America went to war, the US government began buying up all the food production it could and thus prices began rising too.  Yet, there was Miguel with his contractually fixed prices and he was now sitting in a sweet spot indeed. 

This was especially so as Miguel would then run his “cheap” produce through his canneries and then sell it back to American distributors and do so at an enormous profit.  The fact that he was “putting one over” on the Yankees and doing so not once, but twice, made him and his business very popular among the intelligentsia in Mexico City and it was one of the things which kept getting him invited back to such parties as the one Frida was now throwing.  Of course it hadn’t been Vincente who’d actually done that business deal, he hadn’t been on this assignment for that long, but it was an excellent cover story that the OSS had worked hard to set up.

His section chief, Michael Blue (Princeton ’41), in Brownsville was only too happy with this.  For having the good Senor Miguel Ramon Rivas attend such parties brought back a nice steady feed on who were the more visible Communists in Mexico City.  This then allowed other agents (OSS, FBI, or what have you) to keep tabs on them and note who the more visible Communists wound up keeping in contact with.  Over the months this served to buildup a nicely detailed network of how the Kremlin was running its operations in Mexico City and in the rest of the country as well.

Sometimes the only direction he got from Michael in Brownsville was simply to attend a party and observe.  Other times he was told to look for a specific individual.  Tonight was one of those times.  And Alfonso Gutterez was the man he was told to look for.  Senor Gutterez was also not who he presented himself to be.  At the parties he was an art and antiquities dealer from Monterrey.  According to his OSS dossier he was actually Esteban Maíz Apellániz and had been one of the last Communist party members (PSUC, actually (United Socialist Party of a Catalonia)) to get out of Spain before Franco and his Nationalists took over.  He’d been on the run since then and had proven rather efficient at achieving what results his Soviet bosses tasked of him.  That he was now in Mexico City was therefore something which required further checking out.  So, Miguel Rivas was dispatched to do that checking.

There was so much that was wrong here.  At least from what he’d been taught in his OSS training.  This whole party setting seemed the wrong place for real espionage.  It was far too public, far too obvious.  Also, the vast majority of the people at this party were utterly useless for any real work.  Naïve at best and so unconnected with the rest of the every day Mexico that they’d be well nigh impossible to get anything done with.  Which is what made Senor Gutterez’s presence all the more interesting.  An agent like him would normally only live in the shadows and wouldn’t be caught out in the open at a party like this.  Not unless he wanted something and wanted it pretty badly.

To help with just such an occasion Senor Rivas had made it a point to be very helpful to the people he met at such parties.  Through his business he made many contacts in different areas of Mexico and in different levels of Mexico’s economy and social hierarchy.  He had to be careful not to sell himself as having such contacts which would be out of all proportion to a man of his station but as he was careful in cultivating those contacts himself, he did eventually work himself up a good network on his own.  So, whether it was finding skilled laborers in Mexicali or truckers in Agua Prieta or knowing the right customs man in Laredo, then Miguel Rivas was a good man to talk to.  And that night Senor Gutterez wound up doing just that.

It was an interesting discussion.  Senor Gutterez was very excited about a new find some archeological associates of his had discovered in the central plains area of Mexico between Ciuadad Juarez and Chihuahua.  Their initial exploration showed great promise of yielding some wonderful artifacts, Aztec mostly, but the site could actually be Mayan, although that wasn’t likely as they weren’t known to have ranged that far north.  In any event the site needed to be developed properly for a full excavation.  Senor Gutterez and his associates were putting together an expedition to do just that but time was of the essence.  Their major financial backer wanted to see some real results – and soon – to show off at this year’s Conference of the Americas.  There was also the rainy season approaching and the site needed to be prepared against that.  Doing things the normal way would take far too long for what the expedition needed but someone with the right connections could greatly speed things along.  The main thing Senor Gutterez and his associates were after was the construction of an airfield big enough to handle some of the larger cargo planes. 

This would allow them to fly in some of the heavier excavating equipment as well as to quickly fly out the more important finds.  Such an airfield was a big thing but not that big a thing.  The roads in that part of Mexico were about as bad there as anywhere else in the interior so flying things in and out actually made sense – if you had the money for it and Senor Gutterez and his associates certainly did.  Their find at this site was apparently that grand.  Or at least it had the potential to be so.

Such a request was right up the alley for a man like Miguel Rivas and he played it to the hilt.  Vincente was careful not to make any promises he couldn’t keep as Miguel but when they parted that night Senor Gutterez seemed both happy and relieved.  Back at his hotel room Vincente began working up the telegrams he’d send in the morning.  It had been a productive night.  He seemed to have gotten in good with Gutterez/ Apellániz and now was left wondering just what that man actually wanted the work done for.

Over the next two weeks Vincente spoke several times with Senor Gutterez and also cabled him back and forth a few times as well.  From his business contacts in Mexicali they put him in contact with a construction firm in Chihuahua that seemed both hungry for the work and capable of doing the job.  Senor Gutterez was delighted when he received the telegram from Miguel stating as much and Gutterez was soon down in Chihuahua closing the arrangements himself.  This, while under the watchful eyes of several other OSS men. 

It was late March now and Senor Gutterez had been most emphatic that the construction work take place as fast as possible.  He’d also been rather liberal in spending his cash to make the point.  This had its effect and by early April the Baptista Brothers Construction Company had its workers clearing off a healthy length of mesa for the airfield.  The day to day progress was something which Vincente kept up with just as closely as did Senor Gutterez.  Ostensibly this was to make sure the Baptistas were keeping his friend happy although he did let slip that he too was curious what was going on there that it was such a rush and he speculated that perhaps there might be gold involved.  This served to get the Baptistas looking at everything themselves.

The runway was simple affair but rather on the long side for its stated use.  Senor Gutterez had been adamant that it be as well prepared as possible for he expected it to take quite a lot of use once the site got going and the planes flying in would be pretty heavily loaded with excavation equipment.  If it seemed odd to the Baptistas they simply shrugged it away in the face of all the greenbacks Senor Gutterez was paying them for their troubles.

By now Vincente was coordinating four different observers on that mesa.  His Brownsville chief had specified an around the clock surveillance of this effort so that meant it was very important although he wouldn’t say why.  Vincente still made his own rounds, taking care of his business and to keep tabs on his others contacts.  It seemed that Senor Gutterez was making quite a splash for himself out there in central plains.  It was hard not to avoid hearing about him.  This struck Vincente as being odd.  For an agent to be so obvious seemed either amateurish or overly desperate and the Soviets weren’t known for being either.  He shared this in his reports back to Brownsville and, while Mr. Blue agreed, he also told him to keep a close watch on things.  So, Vincente did just that.

Even with all the money Senor Gutterez was spending construction did take its own time.  This wasn’t the Los Estatos Unidos after all and there was still a war on so supplies were expensive and harder to come by.  Also, the site was pretty remote.  By and by though, the airfield took shape – all 5,000 feet of it.  That really struck the OSS folks back in DC as being very odd and they told him to keep an even closer watch over it.

Finally, in late June the Baptistas finished their runway work.  For running so hard Senor Gutterez paid the company a handsome bonus and then set them to work on building the road to the nearby ruins which was what he’d been so excited about in the first place.  The road would not take nearly as much effort and most of the construction workers and equipment went back to Chihuahua.  Considering the almost frenzied rush Senor Gutterez had the Baptistas maintain, for things to settle down so quickly also stood out as odd.  Vincente decided to head over there and check it out himself.

It took him a couple of days to get out to that mesa as he didn’t want to be obvious about it.  The climate there was surprisingly arid and even cool when compared to the parts of Mexico he usually worked in.  Of course, nothing was as comfortable as the climate in Pacific Beach back in San Diego where he grew up. 

His dad had settled there after the Great War and started up a small truck farm selling tomatoes to the city’s stores.  It was from working with and dealing with the local Hispanics and Mexicans that he first learned his Spanish, or more appropriately, learned to speak his Mexican.  His Italian ancestry led him to be able to blend right in among the Mexicans he worked with and now operated amongst.  He’d just a single year of college when the Nazis started the next Great War and Vincente had walked straight over to the Army recruiting office after hearing the news.  Mom had been in tears for her baby boy going off to war and pop had been only somewhat upset that his only son was giving up his college education (and one that pop had paid dearly for.)  But Vincente had made the decision after listening to his dad tell of his initial experiences in the Army and of how so many men died because their training was that inadequate.  Vincente knew in his bones that a war with the Nazis was going to come and he wanted to be as prepared as he could for it.  So, he figured that if joined early he’d be better prepared.

It all seemed to logical at the time.  Of course he was still young and he didn’t understand that the Army’s logic and the world’s logic were two different things.  Upon completing his Basic Training Vincente wound up being sent off to the Philippines, of all places, and was told to forget about the Nazis but to think about the Japs instead.  Well, he didn’t have long to think about that for the Japanese were operating on their own logic as well.  There were nights even now when Vincente would wake up covered in sweat from the nightmares he still had from that long miserable crawl down through the entire length of those rotten islands out there once the Japs had landed.  It had been one bitter, miserable and inept fight after another.  He was amazed that he made it out alive and took the broken arm and shrapnel he’d suffered as being a cheap price to pay for having gotten out.  He’d had his fill of Army life at that point so when that well dressed man came into the hospital ward to see just how fluent Vincente Triganza was at speaking the Spanish he’d listed on his record, Vincente was only too happy to jump at the offer the man then had made to do something different.  If Vincente had any illusions about the life of secret agent being a romantic one, like it was in the nickel pulps or in the movies, then his OSS training dispelled them pretty quick.  Life out in the field also did wonders to put those illusions to complete rest as it was mostly very, very tedious stuff.

Vincente was far from any luxurious cocktail party in high society Mexico City as he sweated under the midday sun up there on that mesa.  His man had picked a good spot to observe the airfield.  It wasn’t so close that it’d be easily spotted from the field yet it wasn’t so far away or otherwise blocked by the rest of the terrain that you couldn’t see what was going down there.  It was also a spot that allowed for a quick and unobserved exit and that, Vincente had learned, was a very good thing.

Looking down at the airfield Vincente was still just as perplexed at what the rush had been.  Senor Gutterez had gotten his mile long runway of well compacted and graded dirt.  He’d also gotten some fairly large bunkhouses made up.  Initially the construction crews used those along with the small messhall Senor Gutterez had them build as well.  For all the world this looked like a pretty good forward base military airstrip.  The guys in DC didn’t like that at all.  By now they’d about as good a view of it as anyone.  Two days ago they’d even flown a high altitude recon plane over the area to photograph it all in great detail.  For all that, the only thing occupying the flightline was a little Piper Cub that had been flown in by one of Senor Gutterez’s associates.  It was mid-July now and Senor Gutterez had telegrammed Miguel to ask for help in having the first food supplies flown in ahead of the excavation crew. 

Some calls and telegrams later, Senor Rivas had cabled back with just the company to do it.  They flew out of Tijuana and had a DC-3 which they were rightly proud of.  They’d actually purchased it new from the Douglas factory and took delivery of it December 5th of ‘41.  Had they waited even just a few days longer in signing the purchase agreement or in having gone to take possession of the aircraft then the Army Air Corps most likely would have requisitioned it after things at Pearl.  That made their aircraft the heaviest cargo plane still flying in northern Mexico that was available to do the job and Senor Gutterez snapped it up in a heartbeat.  That first flight was due in tomorrow and that was why Vincente was in his perch today to look over the airfield himself.  With so little going on it promised to be a long hot day indeed.

It turned out that night was a long and cold one as well.  He and his man, Simone, took turns keeping an eye on things through the night but there’d been nothing to report.  By mid-morning on the 14th Vincente heard the rumble of the DC-3’s engines as it droned along coming up to the field.  The pilot made several passes to satisfy himself that the field was worth him putting down on before he swung his machine around and finally came in to land.  Vincente watched intently but there was damn all to be seen.

The plane landed, a couple of men came out to it, a small ramp went up to its cargo door, and some other men came out to unload it.  Once that was done, things cleared away and the plane took off.  There was so little going on that it didn’t seem right.  Vincente worked his way back and down from his perch and moved to contact one of his other observers.  By late that afternoon he’d gotten word back that one of the local men who’d been hired to unload the plane that morning had said there’d be more flights in the coming days and that he should be at the field early the next morning.  This meant for another long day of waiting and watching.  Vincente fired up his radio and tapped off his report.  Then it was back up to his perch to wait and watch.  Exciting and romantic work indeed.

Sure enough, early the next morning that plane was back again and had even more supplies to off load.  It came back in the afternoon as well and did so with just as heavy a load.  That night Vincente learned that there was to be even more work to be done and that all the men available in the village had been hired and told to be at the field early Tuesday morning as several airplanes were to be flying in.  Working through the weekend was odd enough for most firms in Mexico so the flights so far had been expensive.  That Senor Gutterez and his “associates” were now expecting more flights?  Yet Gutterez had made no mention of starting the excavation just yet.  He’d said only that it would be soon and that he certainly would let Migeul know about it to see if he could help.  Vincente was soon tapping all this way on his transmitter.  Something big was up here and it was going to happen very soon. 

Monday dawned and saw two more flights arrive.  There was now no small amount of food and supplies being stockpiled at this base.  Vincente noted that there were several men on the last flight as well as all that cargo.  Once the plane had been unloaded and flown off and once the locals had gone back to their nearby village, those men came out of the bunkhouse carrying rifles.  They then took up positions around the perimeter of the airfield and began to actually patrol it.  Something was definitely about to happen.  Vincente left Simone again and broke out his transmitter to fire off this development as well.

The message he got back that night was chilling.  He was told to start taking measurements of the local wind speed, air temperature, and cloud conditions.  Vincente was also told to “expect some company” early the next morning and to have his walkie-talkie on by 05:30 so he would be able to talk directly with that “company” as it approached.  Nothing more was forthcoming from Brownsville.  Vincente kept up regular situation reports throughout the night and added the requested measurement information after he’d broken out the weather kit Brownsville had sent with him.  Vincente sensed something major was going to happen and he had a pretty good idea what that “company” would be by the nature of the requests.

Sure enough, after spending another cold, uncomfortable, and, ultimately, boring night watching over the airfield, precisely at 05:30 his walkie-talkie crackled to life with a request for the latest wind speed.  The sun was just beginning to dawn when Vincente heard the rumble coming in from the east.  In short order he saw the formation of US Army C-47’s and an escort flight of Thunderbolts.  As the C-47’s came to the airfield they disgorged dozens and dozens of paratroopers.  Vincente had only seen such things in the newsreels.  He’d not undergone such parachute training as there’d been no need to get him into Mexico in such a fashion.  So, he could only watch in amazement as the paratroopers made their assault.

Vincente was also in constant communication with the planes overhead reporting on anything else going on down at the airfield.  But, nothing was.  Those armed guards which had taken up their patrols seemed just as amazed as anyone at the sudden assault.  Not one of them bothered to even raise his gun when those Army troopers surrounded them.  In a very brief matter of time the mesa was secured and those Army transport planes landed on the runway themselves.  Once they were all down safely they taxied back out onto the runway and on down it, each individual plane coming to a stop along the runway’s length thus making it impossible for any other plane to land there.  Within half an hour that runway and that base had been completely secured.  Vincente scrambled down from his perch to link up with the troops at the airfield.

After a brief hard climb and run, Vincente carefully made his way up to the airfield perimeter.  He walked slowly at that point and kept up on the walkie talkie to let the troops know of his approach.  No sense getting plugged now.  Not surprisingly he was seen by the paratroopers before he saw them and when he did see the paratroopers he was even more surprised – they were colored.  Vincente knew there were colored troops in the Army and even knew that some had been formed into their own combat units over in Europe but he had no idea there was unit of Negro paratroopers.  Yet, here they were.  The United States Army’s 555th Paratroop Infantry Battalion.  One of the paratroopers then jogged with Vincente to the bunkhouse.  The place was swarming with 555th paratroopers who seemed exceedingly happy to actually be doing a real mission.  Vincente found their commander, Colonel Arthur, who walked him over to where his men had taken the airfield’s guards and also where they had that associate of Senor Gutterez as well.  Vincente recognized the man immediately, and so to did the man recognize Vincente.  This guy was one of the bigger idiots Vincente had encountered at Frida’s parties.  Emelio Rodriguez, was his name and he had always been full of bravado and grand talk about the “Internationale” and the “wisdom” of Marx and the “iron will” of Stalin but were it not for his father’s being a rich banker then the young Emelio might have actually had to do something useful with his life other than just attend his parties and speak boldly to impress the women.  If this whole thing was so important then why would so good an operative like Esteban entrust this end of it to a fool like Emelio?  Vincente could not understand this.  Things got even more confusing the more Vincente looked around.

Col. Arthur’s men reported that the guns those guards had been carrying were empty.  In fact, there was no ammunition to be found anywhere in the entire complex.  The supplies of food were real enough but those were just left in a tent.  Emelio wasn’t much use either.  Getting him to talk wasn’t even remotely hard as he actually wouldn’t shut up.  It had all been a grand adventure for him until the first paratrooper landed in front of him and put his carbine into Emelio’s belly.  Vincente found that Senor Gutterez had simply told Emelio to fly out to this field and oversee the unloading.  He had hinted at there being something important to come of it but left it all a mystery beyond that.  He did though, thank Emelio for being so willing to do his part in fighting the good fight against the capitalist oppressors of the working class.  Typical tripe.  And damn all useless for finding out what was going on.

By now Simone had brought up the mules with the transmitter and Vincente quickly worked up and tapped out his report to Mr. Blue in Brownsville.  Mr. Blue had nothing else for him to do at the mesa and told him to just stay put.  There would soon be a company of troops from the Mexican army coming to relieve them.  And that was it, nothing more.  Vincente felt very let down.  Nothing really made sense.  Something obviously had been going on.  Something big had obviously been expected.  The guys back in Washington thought so or else they wouldn’t have scrambled this whole air assault operation.  If this was smuggling or something Vincente just couldn’t see it.  Nor could he see what use such an airstrip would have to anybody.  The Nazis were already beat and the Japs were on their last legs.  The Soviets, for all their spying and for all the evil they did to themselves in the 30’s were not just at peace with America but they also had no way of mounting any sustained operations against the continental US.  

The airfield atop this mesa wouldn’t have useful for more than just a single raid or two before the Army flew over and pasted it but good.  As long as the runway was it also couldn’t have sustained much heavy use.  Not like the use big bombers would put it to.  And the Soviets didn’t have any big bombers.  Well, not like Vincente knew the US had.  Not big ones like the B-17’s over Europe or those new B-29’s currently pasting Japan.  None of this made sense.  Not even for a single, one-off, attack because there was nothing of any value anywhere in the entire American south west that could be destroyed with what limited attack that could be launched from such a rinky dink airfield.  No matter how much Vincente turned this one over in his mind he still couldn’t figure it out.  He looked over every bit of that airfield and every building and all the construction work there and still found nothing.

As soon as those paratroopers had made their drop all the construction work on that road had stopped and Baptista workers had run off from the site.  They didn’t know what was going on and it was better to be safe than sorry when a bunch of well armed men come dropping in.  Vincente set his observers to rounding up those workers and getting them to come back to the site.  While this was going on he went over to the ruins to see if they were worth all this trouble.  They weren’t.  It was just some old house next to some scrabbly little cave that the more Vincente looked at it the more it seemed like what “artifacts” were there had been planted by Senor Gutterez or one of his other “associates.”

When Vincente got back from looking over the “ruins” site he found Col. Arthur waiting for him.  The Col. had gotten his orders to have his men fly back to their base the next morning.  Those Mexican army troops would be coming in by plane and Vincente was to take that plane along with Emelio & his “guards” back to Brownsville.  The Captain also had news that the United States was now at war with the Soviet Union.  It seems the Soviets had launched some sort of an attack against the US that day.  While Vincente and those paratroopers had been busy securing this little airfield the Soviets had snuck in their strike from elsewhere.  Vincente had been played.  It was a long and lousy night up there on that mesa but at least they had plenty of food to eat.

The flight to Brownsville was long, bumpy, and boring.  Emelio had a first found some of his bravado when he realized none of the paratroopers were going to putting him against the wall and shoot him.  Sitting there with his hands tied together and then tied to his seat on that flight to Brownsville, his newfound bravado quickly evaporated.  Either that or he was getting airsick from being stuck inside that creaking transport as it lumbered along.  The half dozen men Emelio had hired to be guards for the airfield looked even worse as they knew even less of what was going on.  Touching down at the Ft. Brown airfield, Vincente saw several paddie wagons that Michael had rounded up to handle the guards.  Emelio was hustled into one of the other cars by himself and it was only after they’d all sped off that the good Mr. Blue stepped out of his car.  He did not look happy.

Before Vincente could say anything, his OSS handler produced a letter and handed it to him.  “This was delivered to your Matamoros office this morning” he said.  Michael was curt as usual - at least he wasn’t the type for idle chit chat like some of the other Yalies and Harvard boys who filled the OSS ranks.  Vincente didn’t even pause as he noted the letter had already been opened and had also obviously been dusted for prints as well.  The return address was to Senor Gutterez in Monterrey and the note inside was brief.

“Dear Miguel (or whatever your actual name is),

Thank you ever so much for all your assistance.  You have played your part perfectly and could not have done better for our purposes than had you planned to do so.  By now you must realize that the whole Aztec ruins and its associated airfield were just a bit of misdirection to secure your attention to them firmly.  I am so heartened that you and your associates were so efficient in paying such attention to it that they left the rest of our operation unattended and thus free to accomplish its mission.  I will spare you the details for no doubt your masters in Washington will have plenty of them to share with you.

Perhaps we will meet again some time and share a drink over this little escapade.  That would be pleasant.

Unfortunately, I feel compelled to inform you that Frida and Diego have somehow become aware of your actual nature and they are most displeased at your having been so duplicitous with them.  I would not expect such a display of ingratitude on your part to merit your being invited to any more of their fabulous parties.  I’m letting you know this so as to spare you any unfortunate social embarrassments.

Well, I’ve carried on for too long now as it is.  Best of luck in your future endeavors my friend.

Yours sincerely,

Alfonso Gutterez”

“That arrogant son of a bitch!” Vincente snarled “He played us all along!”

“Oh, but it gets better” said Michael “While we were down there paying all our attention to that stupid mesa those damn Reds ran their op elsewhere.  They came in yesterday and bombed several different sites.  They hit some Army base out in New Mexico somewhere and used some sort of gas bombs to do it.  From what we’ve been able to gather it looks like they flew a bunch of small planes, crop dusters mostly, and they all took off from inside the US.  This whole Mexican bit led us around by the nose.  I don’t know what was out there in New Mexico or over in Tennessee but whatever it was must have been pretty damn important for the Reds to go to war over it.  They’re screaming about it in DC.”

“We got played amigo, played hard.  From reading this and from everything else, you’re cover is blown and blown but good.”  There was no heat in Michael’s words, just a weariness.

“Damn, I knew this was too obvious.  I thought he was just desperate and that explained why he was being so dumb.”  Vincente replied.

“Would that it were Vincente, would that it were.  I think this one is going to get real ugly.  Not only are they going to be looking for heads to roll over this but they’re also going to look for any double agents.  I mean, hell, it’s obvious the Reds knew what we were doing from the get-go so they must have some of their guys on the inside.”

Blue’s next words were far from comforting for Vincente Triganza.

“Vincente, you’ve been a good man and you’ve done good work.  I know some will read more into this letter than is actually there but I’ll stick up for you if it comes to it.  Understand?”

Great, just great, Vincente thought to himself.  Vincente didn’t like the implication of what he just heard.  He had some idea of how the political game could be played and he had little doubt those Ivy League boys would try and pin this one on him.  Perhaps Army life might have been better for him in the long run after all.  Just great.

# # #

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This page was last updated on: 31 March 2004