11:29 AM, Monterey
“There’s someone here to see you, Inez,” the nurse announced, walking into the double room.
He had intended to make her ask who, but he couldn’t wait for that, and followed the nurse in, hiding his face behind the big bouquet of red and white carnations. She wasn’t fooled.
“Leon!” she greeted him, holding up her arms for a hug. He happily complied, leaning over the spartan hospital bed to deliver. “I never thought I’d see you bringing flowers to a lady.”
“He’s FBI, he can afford to be sensitive,” one of the three detectives in the room quipped, having no idea what inside joke might have triggered their rush of laughter.
“Let me put those in some water,” the nurse said, taking the flowers.
“So, how’s my best girl?”
“Better. My leg’s numb, and I wish my ear was. The surgery was simple, no complications, and the doc wants me home for another month. I can’t say I won’t relish the time off. How about you? I figured you’d be back in Frisco by now.”
“My boss would like to arrange that, but I have to help your DA put his case together. I’ll probably be here for a couple of weeks. Maybe I can swing by in the evening and read you the funnies.”
There was a chorus of rising wolf calls from the detectives.
“I’d like that,” she said, ignoring them.
More wolf calls.
“You’re not cleared for hanky-panky, Inez,” the nurse reminded her, arranging the flowers on the already overflowing side table.
“Don’t worry, Miriam,” Zamora said as the nurse departed. “There’s no way I’ll be able to instigate any of that!”
This brought a round of laughter and skeptical lewd comments.
“So, give,” she said when this died away.
“What, are you going to make me beg? Who the hell was the guy in the blue suit?”
“Oh, no one’s told you anything?”
“They don’t want to stress me out,” she said with a glare at her subordinates.
“Well, details are sketchy, as our friends in the media say, and a lot of them aren’t in yet, but here’s the big picture. Bluesuit’s name, to the best of the CIA’s knowledge, was Uschi Ikhilevich, and he was a serious cold war spook. He had a double doctorate in psychology, one from Moscow University and the other from St. Petersburg, which was known as Leningrad during his tenure. Anyway, his specialties were propaganda, manipulation, and, most interesting to our case, brainwashing.”
“Does that stuff really work?” asked a detective.
“Ask your boss. Anyway, he was owned, willingly, by the KGB from the very beginning. They probably paid his tuition. There has been a rumor in western intelligence circles for years that someone over there had developed a way to make decent, moral people kill and commit other harmful acts through posthypnotic suggestion, and I would guess that we’ve just had a practical demonstration.”
“But the cold war’s been over for a generation,” she said. “What’s he doing running an operation against America in this day and age?”
“When the cold war went away, it dramatically changed the landscape for Russia, and our friend Uschi was left without employment. Being fond of regular meals, and still having all these skills, he began to job them out to the highest bidder.”
“Taking money to hypnotize innocents into committing murder? How low can an individual get?”
“Unfortunately, pretty low. Russia downsized tens of thousands of people whose only marketable skills are germ warfare, nuclear explosives, guys like Uschi, you name it. They have to eat. We’ve been able to hire hundreds of them for our own programs, but more than half have disappeared into the Talibans and dictatorships of the world.”
“So, who was he working for?”
“This is where it gets good. Dave Watley was a CIA intelligence officer. He didn’t go out and do James Bond stuff, he sat in his office and read the world’s newspapers. He was in a little clique that decided that free trade would play into the hands of those who had a vested interest in the weakening of America. America’s official position is one of unambiguous support of free trade, so they took it upon themselves to save us from ourselves, so to speak. Using the machinery of the Agency, they engineered propaganda, manipulated the media, did countless other little things to keep anti-trade sentiment at a high and vocal level.”
“But realistically, what can you accomplish in the face of government policy by keeping a fringe group of disgruntled wage earners stirred up and throwing bottles for the cameras?”
“Quite a bit, if the Sierra Club’s track record is any indication. Look at your bay. The whole thing is a marine life preserve. Look at the logging industry up north, wiped out by a radical group’s concern over the spotted owl. Apparently, though, Watley agreed with you. He was able to contact Uschi using the Agency’s reach, and paid him well, probably from the black ops coffers, to discourage ground-level participation in any sort of dialogue by the simple expedient of killing anyone who tried to have a voice in the process. Uschi probably never knew he was working for a renegade.”
“Not that he would have cared,” Zamora said. “Are we going to get Watley?”
“Watley has disappeared, probably tipped off by my attempt to call him. The big guy will want my head for that, but I think I can beat it with the right-at-the-time clause. Anyway, the Agency seized Watley’s files and used them to collar the rest of his little cell, so that’s done.”
“Or so they say,” Zamora said. “For all we’ll ever know, Watley was carrying out official CIA policy, and they’ve just moved him to another office.”
“You watch too many thrillers.”
“Yeah? My government wouldn’t lie to me. They never have before.”
“She’s got you there, Mr. Kitfox,” one of the detectives said.
“I choose not to believe that,” he replied. “You have to see integrity somewhere. Well, I have to get over to the DA’s office. It’s going to be a busy afternoon. I’ll swing by this evening and bring you up to date.”
“What about Darnall?”
“She’ll stand trial. She has a competent attorney, and when I finish explaining to the jury what sort of mind-fucking monster she was up against, she should be all right. Same for the kid in Reno. Evidence in our trial will be applied there. His other subjects who didn’t succeed in actually killing anybody should fare that much better. There’s probably no way to tell how many ticking time bombs are still walking around out there.”
“Well, as long as the conversation doesn’t turn to fish and their bicycles, they should be all right.”
“So there’s hope, then. I have to run. Don’t want to keep the DA waiting. I’ll see you tonight. Maybe I’ll bring you a burger or something.”
“I’d kill for a burger!”
“Not funny!” he said, wagging his finger as he backed into the hall.
As he turned to make his way to the elevators, he heard one of the detectives ask, “What kind of God damned name is Kitfox, anyway?”