Fiction Saturday – “Mistakes Were Made” – Part Seven
Fiction Saturday – “Mistakes Were Made” – Part Seven
“You’re an idiot.”
I had just finished unloading, telling that FBI guy everything I had seen, heard, and knew about what was going on at the Van Swearingin plants. I told him about my run-in with the Russians. The one thing I didn’t tell him about was “Pops.”‘ He was retired and out of the picture. I saw no need to get him mixed up in this thing – any more than he was already.
“I said that you’re an idiot – an idiot for not smelling that something was fishy from the get-go. Would you hire a man with no experience for a job like Van Swearingin offered to you? No, of course not. He hired you because you wouldn’t know anything about what was right in front of your eyes. You are most definitely an idiot.”
Any other time I would have put my fist down his throat, but the way he explained it I couldn’t argue with him. I am an idiot.
“OK, so he played me for a fool, but that doesn’t change what I saw with my own two eyes. I know who and what I saw.”
The FBI Agent across the desk from me stood up. I figured that he was about to give me the Bum’s Rush and throw me overboard.
“You are an idiot, but a very lucky one. Lucky to be alive. Come with me. We are going to talk with my Boss. I want you to tell him your story exactly like you told it to me. Do you understand?”
“Then you believe me?”
He headed for the door. I followed him.
“I believe that you believe it. That’s all right now.’
We went down the hall to a corner office. I felt like I was being taken to the Principal’s office. The man behind that desk was older with graying hair, but he looked as tough as nails. I’d seen his type before in the Army and they knew how to make me do things I never thought I could do. I guess that was why they were the officers and I was just a grunt. While the first G-Man introduced me I realized that I was standing at attention.
“At ease, young man. You’re not in the Army any more, neither am I.”
It was going to take more than that for me to relax around that guy. He had Brass written all over him. I was still standing…at ease.
“For crying out loud, sit down!” he yelled. I sat down.
For the next ten minutes he read the notes taken by the first guy. I kept my mouth shut. He read and grunted a couple of times. Once he looked up at me and shook his head and went back to reading. When he finished he tossed the notes onto his desk and stared at me.
“You’re an idiot. You know that?”
“I’ve been told.”
“Son, if only 5% of what you say here is accurate,” he said, pointing at the papers. “Just 5% – it will put a lot of people either in prison or their graves.”
Great, just great. I knew that what I was mixed up in was wrong, but the way that G-man was talking I had stumbled into what could trigger World War Three.
All I had wanted was a job and now, all of a sudden, I’m up to my backside in Spies and Traitors. It was time for me to leave. Leave that office, that building, that job, and that city.
“Well, folks, I’ve told you everything I know, so I’ll leave you to it and be on my way.” I started to get up.
“What do you mean ‘be on your way’? Sit…down.”
“No, I’m sorry, but after I leave here I’m going to go down to Fort Mason, down by the bay, to see if they can give me my back pay, and then I’m going to catch the first train out of here.” I stood up. I was not going to get my neck in the wringer with these people.
“Not so fast, my young friend. At the very least you are a material witness here. If you try to leave town on us I will lock you up until we are done with you. That could take years.” He stood up and leaned across his desk. “Now…” he hissed, “Sit down before I break your neck.”
I sat down. So did he, after he stood there a minute looking daggers at me.
“I haven’t done anything wrong, Sir”
“No one says that you have, but, right now, your country needs you.”
“I’ve done my part already – three years worth.”
“I know that, but, Soldier, you are needed again. We are under attack from Spies and Traitors and you are our secret weapon.”
He had me. When I think about all of the good men I watched give their lives how could I say ‘No’ and walk away? My head wanted me to get up, run out of that office, and disappear. I wanted to, but, I was being told, in no uncertain terms, that that wasn’t going to happen. Like it or not I was back working for Uncle Sam again.
The top G-man didn’t say another word, he didn’t have to. The look in his eyes said it all. I had only one answer.
“What can I do, Sir?”
Their plan was simple, at least to them. I was to go back – back to work for Van Swearingin and go along with whatever he had in mind. In other words – play it dumb, but keep my eyes and ears open. The first FBI agent gave me a phone number to call, once a week – no more – and report in. I was to keep them up to date on everything.
I was on a mission behind enemy lines.
“Do you understand what I am asking of you?”
“Yes, Sir, learn what I can and report back. I’m guessing that Van Swearingin and his pals think I’m just some stupid fool.”
“If they thought you were a danger to them you would already be dead. I want you to be observant, but don’t take any unnecessary chances. We don’t need any dead heroes. And stop calling me ‘Sir’. My Army days ended in 1918.”
I got up, ready to leave and head back to my office in the Van Swearingin Building, The Agent stuck out his hand. I shook it even though I still felt more like saluting. He walked me out to the elevator. That was when one question did come to mind. “Since I’m back working for Uncle Sam again I was wondering one thing.”
“Am I going to be getting only Forty Dollars a month again or will I get a raise?”
– To Be Continued –
Excellent episode, John!!
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