Saturday, June 3, 2017

Fiction: Unwanted President. Chapter 13


By Ed Rogers

Stepen Kabak and his people were at last finished with Warring and Mrs. Cahill. What a mess that turned out to be. Stepen could not understand why “The big fuss.” The American President was dead. They had a new President. The world did not end. None of it was worth Karl’s life. The Americans made far too much out of the death of one of their leaders. In Russia, most of the time, it was a good thing, and they celebrated.
    A business does not run itself, and Stepen had been neglecting his badly. Looking out his office window into the main workplace, he was thankful for the good people working for his company. They were all ex-KGB employees – when his office in the Kremlin was closed, Stepen had just moved his staff to his new building. Although they could handle day-to-day problems, a company needed someone to give it direction, and that was his job.
    Now, he had just hung up the telephone with the Kremlin. Putin’s Chief of Security said two CIA officers were in St. Petersburg and they wanted to have a sit-down with him.
    He could only shake his head and wonder, was the Cahill thing ever going to end? Damn, he hated those pompous, peacock bastards. In the old days when they came across CIA, they shot them. Now they welcomed them with open arms. They all believed they were James Bond. In truth, the sons of bitches couldn’t find their ass with both hands.
    He called Gustav, his driver, to come to the office. There was one more piece of business to attend too. He told Gustav, “Pick another man to replace Karl and get two more in a backup car. We will be going to a meeting in one hour.”
    Stepen wasn’t sure what he was going to tell the assholes. The fact they could get to Putin’s Chief of Security said they had juice behind them, and it was more than the Moscow CIA bureau chief. If they poked around St. Petersburg long enough, they would find Warring’s trail on their own. It was not that they were that smart. It was just common sense: if you put enough money out on the streets, sooner or later you could find out anything you wanted to know.
    Stepen wrapped up things in his office and started toward the elevator. Gustav fell in step with him about halfway to the elevator. “I’ve got us a good man. He is no Karl, but he is young, and if he lives long enough, he will grow into the job.”
    Stepen was thinking Gustav was no Karl either, but he had now become the heir apparent and Stepen needed to start treating him as such. They rode the two flights down, and when the door opened for them to get off the elevator, Stepen saw the new man standing by the car with the back door opened for him. Damn, he looked like a baby.
    With fast, deliberate steps, Stepen crossed the few yards to the car. He stepped through its open door into the back seat and glanced over at Gustav, who had stopped to say a few words to the men in the backup car. Neither Stepen nor the new man exchanged words. Stepen sat quietly in the back of the car, working out in his mind the various situations he might face before the day was over. The young man, who looked like a boy playing dress-up, closed Stepen’s door and walked around to the other side of the car and waited for Gustav.
    Gustav got into the driver’s seat and turned to Stepen, who handed him a piece of paper with an address on it where the Americans would be waiting for them. As they flew out of the underground garage and onto the streets of St Petersburg, Stepen leaned forward and began talking to the two men. “If you see anything that doesn’t look right, don’t wait for me to say anything, you just shoot the bastards.” He looked intently at the new man. “Do you have a problem with that?”
    “No, sir!”
    “Good.” Stepen sat back in his seat.
    The snow had been falling for two days and nights now. It was going to be a long, cold winter. Stepen was thinking about the two years he was assigned to a post in Spain. That was a wonderful time. The beautiful half-nude young women, the beaches, and the food, and dancing and partying all night. Those two years saved his life – he had buried his family one year before and had been at the bottom of a deep hole ever since. But if you can stay sad in Spain, you need to go ahead and shot yourself. He wondered why he never went back. Maybe this year he would.
    Meanwhile, in the cafe, the two Americans sat at a table drinking coffee, watching every movement on and off the street. They had been together a long time, and there was no need for conversation between them. They both knew how fast a meeting like this could turn ugly.
    They had been after Tom Warring for some time, and now they needed the girl also. So far, it had been embarrassing. Their boss was not happy about them missing Warring back in the States. They came very close, but close didn’t count for anything in their line of work. The boss wanted the matter over with, sooner rather than later. He was putting pressure on them to be done with it and they knew that if they failed again, there would be no third time. The men knew the Russians had met with Warring. God only knew what the Russians told him, but once they got the journal and killed Warring and that Cahill woman it wouldn’t matter. Dead men tell no stories.
    The Russians would tell them what they wanted to know, or they were going to die. Control had given them the freedom to do whatever it took to find and kill Tom Warring and Mary Cahill. Their word was the law and no piss-ass Russian was going to give them any shit. A shootout on the streets of St. Petersburg was not what they had come to have, but they were determined to get answers to their questions.
    They saw the black sedan as it pulled up to the curb in front of the restaurant. The man on the passenger side got out and walked around to the street side of the car. Making sure no one was coming, he opened the door. With the driver and the other man leading the way, they came into the cafe and walked up to the two Americans’ table. The shortest of the three men said, “I’m Stepen Kabak.”
    “Please, Mr. Kabak, sit down, and join us for a cup of coffee on such a cold day,” the American said in Russian. “I’m agent Baker and this is agent Whitehead.”
    Stepen sat down and said in English, “Let’s cut out the bullshit. You no more want to be in my company than I want to be in yours. Tell me, what is it you think I can help you with?”
    Agent Baker said, “Mr. Kabak, we know you have been in touch with a Tom Warring. He and a Mrs. Cahill were here in St. Petersburg up until last night.” He paused, but Stepen said nothing.
    So he continued. “I know you are aware that Mrs. Cahill is the daughter-in-law of the killer of our President. We believe Tom Warring and Mrs. Cahill may have been involved in the murder plot. I hope you are not hiding them – that would look very bad. We understand how helping us goes against your grain, so here is a letter to you from your president ordering you to co-operate.” The American handed the letter to Stepen.
    Stepen began to read the letter very slowly. He wondered what happened to make Putin change his mind like this.
    As Stepen took the paper, the two CIA agents sized up the men with Stepen – they would shoot the big man first, then Stepen. The baby-faced kid would be the last one to react.
    Then Stepen saw it. The letter was a general order, meant for everybody. It said to co-operate with the bearer of the letter, but it did not say how much to co-operate. That meant he was not personally ordered to do anything.
    Even so, Stepen would have to give them something. The order was written in a way to give Stepen discretion as to what action he should take.
    Handing the letter back to agent Baker, Stepen said, “If you had let us know you were looking for them, we would have held them for you. I am sorry, but it looks like you have missed Mr. Warring and Mrs. Cahill. I had no reason to keep them. You should have called – we could have saved you the trip.”
    “Mr. Kabak,” said Baker, “we know they are not here, but we also know they could not have gotten out of Russia without your help. We want to know where they are now.”
    Stepen was walking a thin line of disobeying an order from President Putin. “The girl had some friends in Germany. We got the two of them across the border. After that, I washed my hands of the whole thing. I think they may have gone on to France or back to the States.”
    “Who did they see here in St. Petersburg?” asked Baker.
    “The man they saw and the men who picked them up at the airport are all dead,” Stepen said. “It is very dangerous in Russia these days. I advise against staying here long. I wish there were something more I could do to help you, but you now know everything I can tell you.” Starting to rise from his chair, Stepen said, “I hope you have enjoyed your time in Russia.”
    Baker reached out and caught Stepen by the arm. “Wait a damn minute, I have more questions. We are not finished.” Baker and Whitehead had been watching the two men who came in with Stepen, but they missed the two who had eased in the back door.
    Stepen quietly and calmly said, “Before you say, or do, anything else, you may want to look behind you.”
    The two Americans turned their heads and found themselves looking down the barrels of two Russian machine pistols.
    In the same quiet way, Stepen continued, “Take your hand off me, my friend, or you die. I have told you all I know. This meeting is over.”
    Stepen started toward the door, but stopped, turned back to the Americans, and said matter-of-factly, “Be out of town by sundown.”
    Stepen turned back toward the door. He slapped Gustav on the back and, laughing, said, “I always liked that line of John Wayne’s: If they are here tomorrow, kill them.”
    The Americans watched the black sedan drive away. Agent Baker, who had done all the talking, said, “When this job is over I’m taking care of that punk bastard.”
    “What are we going to do now?” asked Whitehead. “He didn’t tell us anything.”
    “Sure he did,” said Baker. “We know everywhere Mrs. Cahill has been for the last year. We go to Germany and pick up their trail. If we can stay close enough, we will be there when Warring makes a mistake. If not, at some point they will make a break for the States. We’ll get them then.”
    Baker stood up. “Let’s get the hell out of Russia. I always feel like I need a long, hot bath after coming here.”
[Editor’s Note: The novel from which this excerpt is taken can be ordered from Amazon, as either a paperback or a Kindle book.]

Copyright © 2017 by Ed Rogers

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