?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Title: Evasive Maneuvers
Series: The Eagle Chronicles.
Word Count 7118
Summary A friend asks Steven to go to Berlin to retrieve some sensitive documents. When he becomes wanted for murder, things get a little tough.


17 Evasive Maneuvers


Spring 1947

********************************

With the plans secreted away and itinerary made, Steven used his free time to stroll the streets of Zurich as if he hadn't a care. He knew if he acted anxious or jumpy that would stay in people's memories. It was something he had perfected over the years. So he strolled through shops, bought pretty, unremarkable trinkets. Not wanting to be encumbered with his purchases, he had them delivered to the hotel. He now sat at a corner table in a bustling café, once again sipping coffee and reading a paper. The story of his pursuit was no longer front page material, and, after seeing through the verbosity, the article merely stated that all of Berlin was being searched and the officer in charge of the investigation, Captain Griffin, stated that there was no way he could escape the city. Wonder what he's thinking now? Oh, man, this could be the guy working with Pete! The position would be perfect! Too bad a photograph wasn't included. He looked at his watch. They've found the Jeep by now and will have realized that Luc Renault has gone to Switzerland. Fortunately, he disappeared at the train station. That ought to slow them down. Finding he had reached the bottom of his coffee, Steven paid and left, a spring in his step.

************************************

Griffin arrived at the air force base late that afternoon, channels and red tape having slowed him down. He was loaned a Jeep from the motor pool and headed for Switzerland. He made Zurich his first stop, as it would be easy for Taylor to lose himself in a city. Armed with a photo of Taylor and an artistic rendering of him as Renault, he stopped at the main train station. None of the cabbies waiting for fares remembered picking up a man matching either description. Frustrated by the delay, Griffin decided to begin checking all hotels and hostels. Thinking the best place to lie low would be at a cheap hotel, he began to check all the dives he could find and worked his way up, only stopping for a quick bite near 1800.

With no luck by midnight, he stopped and bunked down at the American consulate. There were no questions asked, but he knew they knew it was about Taylor. Lying on his bed that night, he mulled over his options. He won't leave until tomorrow morning, taking advantage of his lead to rest up for what he'll do next. But just what will that be? Yeah, the man is a brain, but I don't think even he can figure out those German papers. He'll go to someone who can.

When he started this "investigation", Griffin had looked back on all Taylor's known connections-casual or otherwise. He now played them over in his head, hoping to find the one name that would decide his next move. He had almost drifted off when it came to him: Jonteau. Of course, the physicist he rescued from the Nazis. He went to sleep planning to take the first train to Paris.

*****************************

Early the next morning, Steven allowed himself the luxury of a taxi to the train station. One of the perks of being Vartan was going First Class all the way. After breakfast in the dining car, he retreated to his private compartment and read the paper to find out what was going on in the rest of the world outside of his own problems, and to see how far back in the pages the story of his pursuit had fallen. The mention he found of his own case was small, but gave him pause It seemed that at the time of the article,. Griffin was "unavailable for comment"- a first, and for Steven a chilling alarm. If Griffin was no longer in Berlin buddying up to the press, Steven had no doubt that he was after him. Could he be on this train? He would know I wouldn't spend more than a day unwinding, and, well, Paris is an obvious next step. To be sure, I'll take the Metro to Gaston's.

The train pulled into Gare du Nord around 1:00 pm and Steven was one of the first off. With his travel bag strapped over his shoulder and his garment bag in hand, he strode through the station like the businessman he pretended to be. Once down with the crowds, he knew Griffin wouldn't find him, even if he did look here first. He decided to go to his apartment first. He changed into a clean suit and touched-up his disguise. It wouldn't do for him to get caught so close to getting help. Feeling a bit better, he returned to the Metro and got off at Maubert-Mutualité, right down the street from where he wanted to be.

Gaston's café looked as though it was doing a good business, considering it was now mid-afternoon. Keeping his promise, he stepped around to the back door and through the kitchen. When the cooks and waiters stared at him as if he were mad, he only smiled. He entered the main dining room, caught Gaston's eye, and then slipped away into his office.

He didn't have long to wait. Gaston entered his office and shut the door behind him. "You're early," he said, before hugging him and kissing both cheeks.

"I took an early train." Steven smiled at the other man. "Business looks good."

"People are glad to have their city back."

"And the fact that you played a part in that hasn't hurt either." Gaston merely shrugged. "Do you think Jonteau will see me?"

"After what you have done for him, I think so."

"There might be a problem. The man in charge of the case, a Captain Griffin, might be here and I think he knows about my connection to Jonteau."

"Why has he come all this way from Berlin himself? Could he not have an officer here follow you?"

"I'm not sure--I can't be without seeing him--but I think he is the murderer."

"So he has to be the one to arrest you to keep you from talking to anyone else."

"And odds are that I'd be 'shot resisting arrest'. Can't have a messy trial either."

"This man in Washington plans to sell this information to the highest bidder and retire to some paradise, eh? Why did he choose you? He must have realized the danger."

"As you know, I can't resist a challenge. He came to me when I was bored and presented his idea. It sounded like just what I needed so - " it was Steven's turn to shrug - "I jumped at the chance. I was getting ready to leave Berlin with the plans when I heard about the murder. If my landlady hadn't needed me to translate the radio report for her, they would have gotten me in Berlin."

"If this man is the killer, we have to get him to confess in order to clear you."

"Without duress and in front of reliable witnesses. That's going to be the hard part."

"Why don't you stay here while I try to get in touch with Jonteau. I'll send you something to eat."

"Merci, Gaston. I appreciate what you're doing."

"Rogues like us have to stick together, non?" He left the room.

Steven sat down at Gaston's desk and just glanced at the miscellaneous bits of paper on it-mainly bills and invoices. Not wanting to pry, he picked up the newspaper. Some of the front page stories were the same as those from the Swiss paper, but were concerned with how France was being affected.

He heard the door open. "Monsieur, Gaston asked me to bring you some food."

"Wonderful. I'm famished." He set down the paper and stared at the woman. "Genevieve?"

She looked at him. "Have we met?"

Steven realized that she had never seen him as someone else. Thankfully, he saw a framed photograph on the wall. "I saw you in that photograph. Gaston told me your story. What are you doing back here?"

She smiled. "I needed a job and Gaston hired me again." She set the tray down on the desk. "And you, Monsieur..."

"Vartan. I am a business associate and friend of Gaston's. I just returned from a business trip in Switzerland. Gaston was kind enough to let me eat in his office while I did some research."

"Then I shall let you continue."

"Thank you, Genevieve."

*********************************

After leaving M. Vartan in the office, Genevieve sought out Gaston and found him talking with a young couple outside. She walked up beside him. "Excuse-moi, Gaston, may I speak with you?"

He looked at her as if he knew why. He excused himself from the couple and led her to the side of the café. "What is it, Genevieve? Is there a problem with your schedule?"

"No, it is about M. Taylor."

"Yes, that is most unfortunate."

"And most unbelievable. You know as well as I that he is no murderer. There must be something we can do."

Gaston looked around to make sure no one could hear them. "I know the whole story. He was set up. He believes that your father can help clear him."

"You spoke with him? When? Why didn't you tell me?"

"He telephoned me from Zurich yesterday asking for help. I was going to tell you later. I need to talk to your father. According to Steven he will be able to understand the papers he took."

"Why would he need Papa to look at those papers?" She stared at Gaston as the answer came to her. "A weapon or something equally dangerous the Germans invented."

"Maybe. Of course he wouldn't say anything over the phone. What he did say was that he would be in Paris tonight. If I could see your father and arrange a meeting, then I can pass word to Steven and he won't need to show himself until then."

"I know Papa will gladly see Steven after all he has done for us. Why don't you come to the apartment and ..." She stopped when she saw his face. "What is it?"

"I can't go to the apartment. You will have to act as a go-between."

"Of course you can. Don't be silly."

"Genevieve, the men who set him up know of his connection to us. They will have your apartment watched should Steven approach either of you."

"If you show, then they will know he contacted you." She sighed. "I had hoped that when we returned to Paris, life would go back to what it was-and unfortunately it has."

****************************

Gaston left Genevieve taking meal orders and went back to his office. Steven looked up, startled. He relaxed upon seeing Gaston. "What were you thinking, sending the food in with Genevieve? I almost blew it."

"You didn't. She came to me asking how we could help you. I told her you needed her father. She said she would talk to him to arrange a meeting. I hate having to put her in that position, but there is no other way."

"I know the feeling." He stood and headed for the door. "I'll call you around 11:00, okay? Thanks again, Gaston." He shook his hand before disappearing through the kitchens.

Gaston could only shake his head. With all Steven was going through, he was still worried about his friends.

************************

After stopping at the American Embassy to make his presence and mission known, Griffin went to Jonteau's apartment in the Latin Quarter. The man who answered his knock was of medium height and not quite what he expected. His salt and pepper hair was neatly combed and his suit was immaculate.

He smiled knowingly at Griffin' slight hesitation. "No absent-minded professor here, Captain," he said, seeing the bars on his collar. "I expect you are here about M. Taylor. Please, come in."

Griffin entered the apartment and took a seat on the couch as Jonteau sat opposite him on a chair. "You've heard what happened in Berlin."

"How could I not? It was front page news. But why are you in Paris?"

"Taylor got past us in Berlin and I have reason to believe that he has come here to see you. It seems the documents he stole have to do with physics and since you are the only physicist he knows..."

"I haven't seen him since last summer in Monte Carlo when he risked his life to save my daughter. He also rescued me from the Nazis. I do not believe he would murder anyone."

"He was seen leaving the scene of the crime."

"Was he seen with the weapon in his hand? It is purely circumstantial evidence and until the man confesses of his own volition, I will not believe it."

"That will be for a judge to decide. It is my job to bring him in. If he does contact you, you can reach me at the American Embassy." Griffin jotted down his name and the phone number then handed the paper to Jonteau. "Thank you for seeing me, Doctor."

"I'm sure you'll find the man innocent, Captain," said Jonteau as he walked him to the door.

"Maybe, Doctor."

As he took the elevator to the ground floor, Griffin resolved to have the apartment watched. There was no way this man would call him if Taylor showed. Again he cursed Pete for using Taylor in the first place and forcing him to trek across Europe like this. He smiled crookedly. He could just take it out on Taylor when he found him.

*******************************

The next morning, Steven made his way back to Gaston's, this time as himself. Gaston was waiting for him "The Jonteaux are not here yet," he said as he held the door open. There was only one other in the kitchen busy checking ingredients. He didn't even give the man with his boss a glance. Gaston took Steven into the main dining room and poured him some coffee.

Steven took a seat a table from where he could see all the exits. "Thanks."

"No problem." Gaston sipped his own coffee. "And the file?"

"It's somewhere safe."

"You didn't bring it, did you?"

"What do you take me for? I'm no novice, Gaston. Why would I risk them catching me with it?"

"I'm sorry. I had to ask."

"It's okay. I'm just a little jumpy at the moment. A supposed friend set me up after all."

Gaston went to the front and peered out the window. "They should be here any minute. I asked Genevieve to get here before opening when there are less prying eyes."

"I think I have an idea of how to get this guy Griffin. We'll need some of your old group."

Intrigued, Gaston sat and Steven explained his plan. The session was interrupted by a tapping on the window of the front door. "We need to smooth it out," he said as he walked to the door, "but it should work." He unlocked and opened the door.

Steven stood and looked at Genevieve and her father. They had finally readjusted to life in Paris after the war--and he--had come around and caused upheaval. Steven stood up from the table. "Genevieve, Dr. Jonteau, thank you for doing this. I know the risk you're taking."

Genevieve ran over and hugged him. "We couldn't let you go through this alone when we could help."

"M. Taylor, I must tell you that I had a visit from a Captain Griffin yesterday afternoon," said Jonteau after shaking his hand. "He is convinced you are guilty."

"He needs me to be found guilty--or dead. That way no one will ask questions."

They all sat at the table and Steven told the Jonteaux his story and theory. "My word against his without proof means nothing. We need him to confess and be heard by outside witnesses." He reached into his inside pocket. "But first take a gander at these." He handed Jonteau the envelope in which he had placed the files.

Gaston looked at him. "I thought you said you didn't have them with you."

"Did I?" He turned to Jonteau. "Well, are they worth a man's life?"

"Nothing is worth a murdered man's life, M. Taylor. However, should these fall into the wrong hands, many more will die."

"But who's to say which are the right hands?"

"I would say burn them so no one will profit from them, yet, as a scientist, I know how much work went into this."

"I'm leaving the file with you so you can hide it somewhere no one will immediately associate with you. Don't do anything to it just yet, as it's part of my defense,"
Steven told him. "When Griffin finds me, that will be my bargaining chip. He'll need me to take him to it."

"You mean if he finds you," said Genevieve.

"No, I mean when. It's part of my trap for him. You two will place a call to the Embassy about me staying in Le Marais and he'll come to get me. I make sure that Griffin's confession is overheard as he tries to kill me. Simple really."

"How can you be sure he'll come alone?"

"He wants me dead and can't have any witnesses when he does it. I know his mindset." He drained his coffee. "We have to iron out a few spots, but it should work."
He could see Genevieve wasn't convinced. "Come on," he grinned conspiratorially. "When this is over, we'll all go out and celebrate. Gaston and I will have this finished like clockwork tonight."

He could hear voices as more staff arrived, signaling the café's imminent opening. "I'd better make myself scarce. Thank you guys for helping me out. Gaston, I'll talk to you later."

He slipped out through the now-busy kitchen and disappeared into the morning crowds.

*****************************

Later that afternoon, Gaston placed a call to the American Embassy. He asked for and was connected to Griffin. "I have some information regarding the Eagle," he said disguising his voice. "You'll get word that he will be in Le Marais, but that is just a trap. You can find him tonight at Au Lapin Agile in Montmartre."

"And how do I know this isn't a trap?"

"We spoke this morning and he told us he was planning to get you alone with no one else around. He had it leaked on purpose. Believe me or not, I've done my duty telling you."

"And just what do you get out of this?"

"The man out of Paris and in jail where he belongs--or worse."

Griffin chuckled on the other end of the line. It wasn't a pretty sound. "My thoughts exactly. He gets away with too much if you ask me. Thank you for telling me this, monsieur. You'll be there to witness the event?"

"And let him and the others know I turned him in? I'll find out about it like everyone else in the paper." Gaston hung up the phone and took deep breaths. Now he just had to wait. He heard business picking up and went out to lend a hand.

*****************************

Griffin replaced the phone and smirked. It seemed he would be getting Taylor tonight after all. He checked his watch. It was about 9:00 in DC and Pete would be at his desk going through the motions of the ideal agent while his mind was thinking on what he would be doing with the money they got from this deal. At least that's what I'd do if I weren't spending all my time chasing the Eagle.

He made the call to Washington. "Good morning," he said cheerily.

"What are you so happy about? The news is all over Washington how Taylor is leading Army Intelligence all over Europe."

"I just got a tip that Taylor will be at a club in Montmartre tonight."

"You can't get him with a crowd watching."

"Give me some credit. I'll get him into some alley and stab him, fake a robbery. The whole 'What goes around comes around' scenario."

"Sounds good." Griffin could hear him nodding over the phone. "You better not screw this up. If you don't have a clear chance, put it off until you do."

"I'll call you tonight when it's done." He hung up before Pete could criticize him. There will definitely be some renegotiating about the split after this.

***************************

That evening when she got home, a breathless Genevieve rushed into the apartment and pulled her father away from his desk. She told him what she had overheard Gaston say on the phone. "I can't believe he would treat Steven that way!"

"Perhaps that conversation was part of the plan," said Jonteau.

"What?"

"By telling Griffin that Le Marais is a trap and that Steven will be alone at Montmartre will make Griffin overconfident and he will make mistakes."

"So I should make the phone call?"

"It will add credence to the story."

"But why didn't he tell us the full plan?"

"I really can't say. Perhaps if you truly believed what you were saying, Griffin would believe it as well."

"Then I guess I had better do a good job." She took the slip of paper Griffin had left for her father and placed the call.

****************************

Later that night Steven sat in Au Lapin Agile at a table where he could see and be seen and get a good head start in the chase that was to come. As he sipped his wine and listened to the chanteuse, he thought on the cabaret's famed history of clientele--Picasso once paid his bill with a painting--and wondered if this incident would be included should a book ever be written. For him to find out first-hand, this had to go off without a hitch. No time for daydreaming. The singer finished and he applauded with the rest of the patrons. He hated deceiving the Jonteaux but he needed them to believe that was the plan in order for Griffin to believe Gaston. The man had to come here alone. After this was done, it would be Pete's turn.

A group of men came in acting rather boisterous. They must be on the Parisian equivalent of a pub-crawl. Cabarets didn't mind if the crowd was loud-they usually liked it when people sang along--just as long as they didn't get violent.

He checked his watch. Griffin would be arriving soon. Gaston's men were covering the streets in the area, ready to converge when necessary. Setting up something like this took him back years. He always felt most satisfied when all the planning of an operation like this paid off, but it sure was hell on the nerves.

The singer started an upbeat folk song that required audience participation, probably in order to direct the rowdiness of the new audience. With all the swaying and arm-raising, he almost missed Griffin' entrance. Jonteau's description was dead-on. The two men locked eyes and Steven stood quickly, knocking his chair over backwards. Practically seconds later, the group of men began to argue over the words of a song and began taking sides. Soon after, a fight started, providing Steven with the distraction he needed to make his escape. Once across the street, he stopped by the corner, and made sure his hesitation would look natural as he waited for Griffin.

He heard Griffin shout and raced down the cobbled street past the vineyard and cemetery then up one of the fabled set of lamp-lit stairs. He saw a flash of light and knew he was on track. He led Griffin deeper into the heart of Montmartre and its twisting roads. He made sure to stay away from the crowds that frequented the Moulin Rouge, knowing he wouldn't get a confession if Griffin knew he had an audience. With that in mind, he knew where he had to go. He turned into an alley that ran close to Place du Tertre and hoped that Griffin didn't realize how close they were to Parisians enjoying the nightlife.

****************************

The young man was perfectly content at this moment. His transfer to the Sûreté had been finalized and he was about to share dinner with the most beautiful woman in Paris. He loved dining at the cafés of Montmartre and Chantal chose the restaurant knowing that. They strolled hand-in-hand across Place du Tertre towards La Mère Catherine and talked about possibly moving to the area.

A movement in the shadows caught his eye, and then another. Something wasn't quite right. "Chantal, why don't you go ahead to the bistro. I need to check on something."

"What is it, Pierre?"

"I'm not sure, but I can't just ignore it." He saw a gendarme on the other side of the square. "I won't be alone." She hesitated. "If it will make you feel better, call for help from inside."

"Very well, but you had better not die on me." She kissed him and continued on to the bistro.

Pierre crossed to the gendarme. "May I help you, sir?"

He showed the man his ID. "I need your assistance." He explained what he saw as the two hurried to the alley just beyond the place.

At the mouth of the alley he and the officer, a nervous type named Claude, stopped when they saw a fight in progress. Pierre didn't move. "Shouldn't we stop it?" questioned Claude.

"No, not just yet. I want to get a little closer and hear what they're saying."

"Are you sure?"

"They're so intent on each other, they won't notice us." He remembered the shadows he had seen. "Besides, I don't think we're alone." He motioned Claude to follow as he slowly crept closer. Something told him there was more to this than just a mugging.

**************************

Steven scanned the alley as if looking for a place to hide and heard Griffin' footsteps behind him. He wheeled about in feigned surprise. The smirk of the soldier's face was almost feral. "Nice to put a face to the name, Taylor," he commented, advancing.

"Sorry I can't say the same," Steven returned as he backed away.

Steven watched the knife gripped in Griffin's fist. Too eager to kill him, Griffin forgot one of the prime rules of combat. He attempted to strike first. Steven counted on it. The Eagle swept to the line of Griffin's arm, gripped his wrist and with all his weight slammed his heavier foe against the cold brick wall. Griffin howled and dropped the knife. Steven, with his toe of his shoe, stabbed the blade and slid it across the ground, away from the brawl. Griffin took the only way left open to him to break Steven's hold. Griffin bucked Steven off his back and sent him flying. Griffin whirled around and reached for the knife, coming up empty.

Steven smiled at his look of shock. The Eagle calmly picked up the knife next to his leg. In one smooth move that simultaneously carried him back to his feet, Steven gave the knife back to Griffin - very fast, and straight into the shoulder. Griffin's shocked look took on an almost comical air. The heavier man dropped to his knees.
Steven, still smiling, walked toward his cursing foe. He stretched out his hand to pull the knife out of Griffin's shoulder.

Steven's legs crashed from under him. The ground hit him hard, and his head cracked against the ground. The nausea he felt assured him of a concussion. When he regained his senses, Griffin had the knife to his throat.

"Soft, Taylor. You should have killed me."

"Plenty of time."

"One of my shoulders has a steel plate. Guess which one?"

"Must I?"

"After hearing so much about you, I was hoping you would put up more of a fight. Not so much fun this way."

"You must have thought killing that man in Berlin like shooting fish in a barrel. He put up less of a fight than me, being unconscious and all," he grunted as he attempted to push away the knife.

"It would have been so much easier if you hadn't been involved. I could've killed him, taken the files, and been well on my way now." Having the advantage of leverage, the tip of the knife pricked Steven's neck and Griffin grinned crookedly.

The blood began to trickle down his neck and Steven exerted more pressure to push it away. "Nice idea, make it look like a robbery. Knife won't attract attention either."

"You chose the place. I'm just taking advantage of it."

Steven could see the mad glint in Griffin's eye and knew that if Gaston's men didn't come now, his family would have to live with the shame of a false accusation. The thought of his family pushed him to try to gain some leverage with his legs, but Griffin had positioned himself right at the knees so that proved impossible. He was near exhausted and searched his reserves for a burst of energy. Damn it! Where are Gaston's men? He heard running feet. About bloody time! There was a rush of air on his face and all pressure was removed.

"Are you all right?" asked a concerned French voice.

Steven looked up and saw the gendarme. He had wanted a trustworthy witness, but this was ridiculous. "Did you hear?" he asked. "He murdered someone," he continued, playing the victim.

"I heard everything, Steven," said a second voice in accented English.

He saw a proffered hand and grasped it. Once standing, he felt a little light-headed. "DuBois? What're you doing here?"

"Saving you, I think." He nodded to the men who were restraining Griffin. "It seems you had it in hand."

"I needed backup for when he got out of control. So tell me how you stumbled onto this."

"I was here for dinner when I saw movement in the shadows. I enlisted Claude here, and you know the rest. We'll have to take him into custody and you'll have to tell your story."

"I can't just stroll into a police station. They'd toss me into a cell and call the Embassy."

"I have an idea."

Steven groaned.

******************************

Pierre and a small contingent of Gaston's men walked into the Embassy with Griffin in custody. Steven and Chantal followed, the French woman fussing over his wounds, which helped him to hide his face. Pierre approached the sergeant at the front desk and lodged his complaint against Griffin. "This officer was attacking this man in an alley in Montmartre. When we arrived, he had a knife to his throat."

"This is a serious accusation," the sergeant said.

"We all witnessed it," Pierre said, waving a hand to include the others. "There was also an on-duty gendarme, Claude-I never got his last name. He had to return to his patrol but will file a report on the incident."

"This is crazy!" scoffed Griffin. "You're not going to take the word of these French low-lifes over an officer?"

"I don't know the profession of these other gentlemen," said Pierre, "but I am with the Sûreté and I learned we all worked with the Resistance at one point during the war. I think that puts us on or above the same level as the accused."

The sergeant was out of his depth. "I'll need an officer to handle this. If you'll just--"

"But it's Taylor!" declared Griffin. "I've followed him all the way from Berlin! Just look at him for Chrissakes!" He fought against the men holding him.
The sergeant motioned for the waiting MPs to come forward to take control of Griffin. "There should be a free room down the hall," he told them. With a smart salute, the two men took the still-spouting Griffin away. He turned back to Pierre. "If you go down this hallway to the left, the third room on the right should be available. Someone will be with you shortly."

"Merci, Sergeant."

Around twenty minutes later an officer entered the room. "I am Major Cooper, the senior intelligence officer," he addressed them in French. "Serious accusations have been made on both sides and I plan to resolve this with the least amount of fuss. I've already spoken to Griffin and he related facts which are quite damning to you, Mr. Taylor."

"That was the whole point," Steven replied. "I hope you're ready to hear the truth now."

"I believe I'm ready to hear your story. I'll decide on its truthfulness later."

Steven relayed his story and then each of the men who heard Griffin confess gave their testimony.

"This backs up the impression I got when I called Berlin. It seems he received--and placed--a number of calls to Washington."

"But when something major is happening, aren't you in contact with DC a lot?"

"These calls started almost two weeks before the theft and murder."

"Planning the whole deal." Steven was quiet as he thought. "I think I have a plan to get Pete."

******************************

Pete received confirmation on Taylor's death from the Embassy in Paris. In the same call he learned that Griffin was in a Parisian hospital, recovering from wounds incurred in the fight. His previous work with Taylor had made him the obvious Washington contact, and now it was his duty to go to Paris and debrief Griffin. For himself, he wanted--no, needed --proof that Steven was dead and that there was no one left to connect this back to him. All that cash would make bearing the guilt easier.

The Embassy had a car waiting for him. The driver was young and gave him deferential treatment. "If you aren't too tired after your trip, sir, Maj. Cooper thought you might want to go directly to the hospital to see Capt. Griffin."

He looked at his watch. It was still early Paris-time and he was nowhere near tired. He wouldn't be able to sleep until he had this cleared up. "Sounds good. Is Maj. Cooper at the hospital?"

"Yes, sir. He wanted to be there in case Capt. Griffin said anything."

Pete clenched his fists. He had better hope Griffin stays quiet. "Good thinking on his part. Can't have him divulging any secrets."

The driver dropped him off and he was met by a near carbon-copy in the lobby. "Mr. Cavenaugh?" Pete nodded. "I'll take you up to Maj. Griffin."

No other words were exchanged and soon Pete was outside the room. "What? No guard?"

"He must be inside." The soldier opened the door but the room was empty save for Griffin asleep in bed. "I'll see if I can find him. Do you need anything, sir?"

"No, I'll just wait until he wakes up."

"Very good, sir. I'll be back with the major ASAP." He left.

Pete set his overcoat and hat down on the visitor's chair and approached the side of the bed. Griffin lay there, still as the dead, the only thing giving him away was the slight fall and rise of his chest. "Just you and me, Griffin. I was hoping this meeting would have been under different circumstances, but your idiocy has forced me to come here at no small risk. All I asked for was a simple frame-up and you couldn't even carry that off."

***************************

In the small closet, Steven put a restraining arm on Cooper. "We need more," he mouthed. Through the small crack, he looked at the man in the room and wondered how this could be the same man he had entrusted his life to on no fewer than five occasions. Greed. That had to be it. It was the needing of more than what you already had that could drive a man over the edge. During his time as a thief he had seen in a number of times and fought off the temptation himself. Pete had access to any number of secrets and the contacts to find buyers for those secrets. This is far worse than craving jewels or wealth; this is condemning thousands to line his own pockets. He closed his eyes and breathed slowly to control his anger. Pete made a major mistake when he pulled me into this and now he's gonna learn the consequences!

"Now I understand how you couldn't catch Steven," Pete was saying. He's a tough one to catch even when he doesn't know the territory. We made the mistake of doing this in Berlin. I was hoping we could have driven him to the East and let everyone else think he had done this for the Russians. They, of course, would have killed him. You did finally get him, I'll give you that. Stabbing him in a Parisian alley was a nice touch. Too bad you couldn't get away and make it look like some random theft. But enough about him. It's all a question of loyalty. If I didn't think you'd turn on me to save yourself, I'd leave right now."

Steven nodded to Cooper and the officer slid open the door. "Peter Cavenaugh, you are under arrest for attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and treason."

Pete tried to act as if he hadn't been caught in the act. "Listening at keyholes, Major? I could easily deny everything. Your word against mine."

"His is not the only testimony," said Steven as he came to stand behind Cooper.

"But who would believe you?" he scoffed.

"That's not what I meant." Steven lifted the blanket on the bed to reveal a tape recorder. "I meant your own words."

Confronted by the overwhelming evidence, Pete made a dash for the door only to be impeded by the presence of three armed guards. He raised his hands in defeat.
"It wasn't easy keeping to the shadows in the City of Lights, but I know Paris a lot better than I do Berlin," Steven stated.

Pete said nothing as he was taken away.

The two men moved Griffin to a wheelchair and Steven put on a white orderly's jacket and pushed him along behind Cooper.

"Taylor, we'll contact Washington and let them know what happened and then we call the Brits and tell them we have the murderer in custody and then we'll have to call a press conference. You'll be there?"

"I'll be somewhere in the building should you need me," he said noncommittally. The elevator doors opened. "Your men have an ambulance ready?"

"Around the corner. Straight to the Embassy, ok? No side trips for your own purposes."

"Do you think I have something nasty planned for him? Come on." Cooper said nothing, but looked at him. "All right, maybe I did have a little spot of agonizing torture planned in this nice underground cavern I found, but it's not necessary."

A slow grin spread across Cooper's face. "Good to see you haven't lost your sense of humor. See you at the Embassy."

Steven drove the ambulance to the Embassy and, after delivering Griffin into the hands of the MPs, disappeared into the woodwork. There was an added bustle to the activity within the building and he knew it was because of what had just happened. He found a phone and called Jonteau to tell him everything had worked out and to make reservations for dinner.

He toyed with the idea of waiting in Cooper's office but knew his presence would only annoy the man. Instead he found a change of clothes so he would look presentable then went to where the press conference would be held and waited.

About twenty minutes later the room began to fill with reporters, photographers, and newsreel cameras. They didn't even notice him, he was just another uniform. Cooper then came out and gave them all the facts of the situation, downplaying Steven's role. "With the confession of both men involved, Steven Taylor's name is now cleared of any wrong-doing."

The floor was opened to questions and the reporters tried to get Cooper to elaborate on what he had already told them. One reporter took a different tack. "These documents that were taken, have they been turned over to the proper authorities?"

"Not as of yet. We have been assured that they are being examined by physicists."

"Assured by Taylor, no doubt. Couldn't he have taken them to the Russians and cut his partners out of the deal?"

What a load of-- Infuriated, Steven left his position and stalked to the podium, discarding his hat as he did so. He looked directly at the reporter who had made the offensive comment, though he addressed them all. "Now, anyone will tell you that the Russians would rather kill me than deal with me, so you are just misinformed. Upon my arrival in Paris a few days ago, I arranged for a meeting with Philippe Jonteau, the physicist, and handed over the plans so he could decipher their purpose. Once a decision is reached, they will be dealt with appropriately. As to why I did it," he took a sip of water, "someone played upon my loyalty to this country and my desire to protect it. That's all I have to say. Thank you." He stepped away from the podium and removed the uniform he had used as a disguise. He was outside and in a taxi well before anyone else left the room.

After a stop at his apartment for a shower and change of clothes, Steven met the others at Gaston's. Gaston had saved his best table near the fireplace which was in high demand during the damp days of early spring. They enjoyed bouillabaisse followed by blanquette au veau accompanied by champagne from Gaston's personal cellar. His friends toasted him and he accepted with the proper amount of humility. In return, he toasted them. "If I had been alone, I doubt I would be here now. To quote a Frenchman, 'There's nothing worth the wear of winning, but laughter and the love of friends'."

Jonteau took that moment to hand Steven the folder containing the papers. "Studying them has confirmed my first impression. I have no doubt that if the war had continued, the Germans would have used this on all of Europe, decimating the population."

Steven took the file, and, as he opened it, the documents fell into the fire. "Aren't you going to save them?" asked Genevieve.

Steven watched the flames engulf the paper. Only he, Jonteau and the dead soldier had seen them. When he left Paris, he would take a detour to Zurich to destroy the originals and that would be the end. "No," he said flatly. "No. Let them burn."

Profile

SPN Dean Writing
blazoningpen
blazoningpen

Latest Month

May 2018
S M T W T F S
  12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  
Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Witold Riedel