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A Stacked Deck

by S. H. Linden

part 3 of 10

A large British bank hires a mercenary to change world events in Southeast Asia.

CIA Headquarters
Langley, Virginia

The CIA director and his assistant were walking rapidly down a corridor. The director was carrying a “Top Secret” folder under his arm. He reached a door, opened it, then went inside the CIA’s main computer room. The room had six people sitting at their computers.

The director approached one of the computer experts. “Get me the names of the Americans who worked in Special Operations in Laos and Cambodia between 1964 and 1972.”

The man punched in a series of commands. Several rows of names appeared. The man turned to the CIA director, who was now reading the computer information. “That seems to be it, sir.”

“What are their code names?”

The man at the computer punched in more commands and code names appeared opposite the real names.

“Is there a Faust in that group?” the director asked.

The man was back working the computer. On the screen a message appeared: No Such Name Exists.

“All right... get me the names of men who worked ‘deep cover’ during that period.”

The computer man punched in more commands. Names appeared on the monitor screen.

The CIA director read some of the names, stopped, and pointed to a name: Alfred J. (Ticky) Snyder. “

“Isn’t he our guy in Hong Kong?”

“Yes, sir, he’s the station chief,” the assistant acknowledged.

“Punch out his file and highlight the period between ’64 and ’72.”

The computer man sent another command. One section of the screen now had a different color. The CIA assistant began reading what was on the computer screen:

In charge of the Phoenix program in Sector Five, 1964... Headed an eight-man Special Forces team, 1967. Mission of the operation: to work the Golden Triangle and spy on General Thanh’s army and China Chong, 1972. Only Snyder and three men left out of the eight: Nino La Marca, Anthony Janeway and Brett Morgan. Operation closed down in 1972. Morgan missing, La Marca captured, Janeway court-marshaled in 1974. Snyder reassigned to Jungle Warfare School, Panama.

“Get on the horn and send for Snyder,” the CIA director said to his assistant. “Maybe he knows where Faust hangs out.” The director turned to the man at the computer. “Get me the files on Janeway, La Marca and Morgan and send them to my office, please.”

“Yes, sir.”

While walking quickly back to their offices, the CIA director and his assistant looked worried. “We have to get Faust. There’s too much heat coming down from the British. If he makes the hit, it will throw Anglo-American economic relations into chaos,” the CIA director said.

“It’s a shame to lose someone as valuable as he’s been,” the assistant said.

“Yes... but goddanm it, business is business!”

* * *

A Washington, D.C. Restaurant

The CIA director, his assistant, and A.J. “Ticky” Snyder were finishing up a meal in a restaurant that was an eating establishment for D.C. power groups. The waiter had just brought desserts and coffee.

Snyder, a heavy smoker, had close cropped hair and a nervous tic that could be irritating at times. He was constantly fingering a box of mints while he drank his coffee.

“I’m pretty sure the other guys are dead... But Brett Morgan...? I don’t know for sure. I had him taking out a hamlet in Kampot with Janeway and La Marca. On paper it was a piece of cake. They hit the zone and get ambushed by the Rouge. Janeway calls for a chopper, screaming that La Marca’s hit. Morgan moves out and says he’s gonna draw fire away from the L.Z. I send in a chopper and the fire’s so heavy the pilot aborts. We send out recon to find ’em but no luck...

“So I carry La Marca and Morgan as MIA’s. A couple of weeks later, Janeway walks out of the bush like a madman. He comes straight to the compound, walks up to the chopper pilot and rips him open from belly to neck with his knife.”

Ticky stopped talking and took a quick puff on his cigarette.

“Well I’m standing there amazed at what I’m seeing. Janeway’s a madman, screaming at the guy that he’s a coward, while the guy’s pickin’ up his guts from the ground and trying to shove them back into his stomach... Well, we jump Janeway, who’s totally outta control now, babblin’ the Rouge got Nino, and he thinks Morgan knew the place was loaded and went his own way. The doc shoots Janeway full of Thorazine, and he’s still ready to kill Morgan to get even.”

Ticky stopped talking again and took a bite out of the apple pie he had ordered. He put the fork down like a man who had read a Martha Stewart etiquette book.

The CIA assistant was beginning to look pale green, and the CIA director looked like he wanted to plunge his fork into Ticky’s hand if he reached for the apple pie again.

“Get to the bottom line, Ticky. You’re not here on vacation!”

“That’s it. You got the rest on file. Janeway was sent to Leavenworth and got fifteen to life. La Marca came outta the jungle with his tongue missing. The Rouge cut it out after he wouldn’t tell ’em where Janeway was. He hits stateside and goes loony. Last I heard he was in some V.A. funny farm in California... We never did find Morgan. A few years later I heard he was in Singapore working with that slick operator he knew, China Chong.”

“We know all about him. He was running heroin in the Golden Triangle,” the assistant said.

“Yeah, that’s him. He would occasionally give us some information we could use, and if his story jived, I’d let him ride Air America. I even let Morgan, Janeway or La Marca make some ‘mad money’ on the side, riding shotgun for the bastard...”

“You think Faust might be Morgan?” the CIA director asked.

“I’m sure it’s him. He took that handle when he hooked up with China Chong. You know, Morgan was a strange guy. A loner... way too educated to be doin’ what we were doin’ back then. He read books on Oriental art. One time I caught him trying to smuggle a duffel bag full of Buddhist icons out on an Air America flight.”

“What about China Chong? If he’s still alive, maybe he and Morgan still keep in touch?”

“I keep track of him. He’s in Hong Kong dealing in jade and Chinese antiquities. But I also hear he’s a middle man for the Triads.”

“You have an address for him?” the assistant asked.

“Nah... He’s a floater. But I can find him.”

The CIA director finally reached the boiling point. “Ticky, you’re the goddamn station chief and you don’t have an address on a former source? You think we just flew you over here so that we could buy you lunch...? Quit being stupid!”

Ticky started to blink and twitch again.

“We want information, Ticky! We got a problem here... We’ve learned that a syndicate has hired Faust to bump off the British prime minister when he arrives in Hong Kong. That’s in two weeks!”

“Why’s this our problem? Let the Brits handle it.” Ticky popped another mint into his mouth. He was blinking much more rapidly now due to the shouting that was aimed his way.

“Because Faust’s an American, and Hong Kong is your beat. The President wants us to take care of our own dirty laundry, Ticky. I’ve got no other choice: you’ve got to come up with a plan to nail Faust. The heat’s on and you know what the bastard looks like,” the CIA director said, still looking hard into Ticky’s eyes.

Ticky leaned back in his chair and blew smoke up at the ceiling. After a long pause he stopped sucking on a mint and straightened up. “Get me Janeway and La Marca and ship ’em to Hong Kong. They’re about as good as you can get on a deal like this. And what makes it even better, they’ve got a score to settle.”

The CIA director gave Ticky a funny look, but Ticky ignored it.

“Don’t worry. I can handle ’em. I’ll find China Chong and Faust. That’s my bag, isn’t it?”

“The President wants Faust dead, Ticky. You understand that?”

“Yeah.. .I get the picture.”

* * *

Fort Leavenworth, Kansas

In the warden’s office, a secretary picked up a telephone and dialed a number. “They’re bringing him out,” she said. Then the secretary hung up the telephone and went to the window and looked down at the courtyard.

In the main courtyard, Tony Janeway stepped out of a building into a sunlit prison yard.

He shielded his steel-gray eyes from the sun with a hand. Janeway was a man who had seen life in the raw. The kind of man that knew how to handle himself in any situation. He had a killer’s smile, which meant you didn’t know what he was thinking.

Janeway had a tough-looking Military Police Sergeant walking with him as an escort. They made the long march to the main gate office and halted at the thick bullet-proof window.

Another M.P. Sergeant and two Spec-4’s looked at Janeway through the window. “This is him,” the Sergeant said.

Spec-4 Robinson walked to a filing cabinet and pulled a file. He began to read its contents as he headed back toward the Sergeant. The cover read: RELEASED: Per National Security Directive 632-9X. The Spec-4 opened the file and on the front page and started reading.

Janeway, Anthony C. SF 19422258, Captain, U.S. Special Forces

A written statement read that Anthony Janeway was serving fifteen to life for killing a fellow officer.

Spec-4 Robinson then handed the folder to Spec-4 Jones, who grabbed a bag with Janeway’s personal belongings and slowly headed back to the Sergeant. He also began to read the file:

Phoenix program, Viet Nam, Special Operations service in Laos, Cambodia.

The Sergeant quickly walked over to Spec-4 Jones and grabbed the file and bag out of his hands. “Captain Janeway has a National Security Tag! Now you forget you ever saw this file, soldier!”

The Sergeant went to the window and placed the file and bag, along with a pen, into a security drawer and closed it. The M.P. accompanying Janeway opened the drawer and gave Janeway the brown bag and put the file on a ledge. He passed Janeway the pen.

Janeway had contempt written all over his face for the M.P. He took the pen and signed the file.

“I’m gonna miss ya, Janeway,” the M.P. said. “Guys like you keep me in shape.”

Janeway ignored the comment.

The M.P. opened the door that lead to the outside world. “In case you don’t remember, that’s the way to the train station.” The M.P. pointed down the street.

“I remember,” said Janeway. He left the M.P. without saying good-bye and headed for the station at a leisurely gait.

“Remember to come back for a visit, Captain! We all love you!”

Janeway, without looking at the guard, raised his arm and gave the M.P. the finger. The guard laughed, and the prison door slammed shut.

A van passed and stopped fifty yards ahead. The curbside door opened, beckoning Janeway to step inside. Nino La Marca sat behind the wheel. He was roughly Janeway’s age. No words were spoken when Nino handed Janeway some fresh clothing. The engine was started and the van moved out onto the highway.

Janeway quickly changed out of his prison-issue civilian clothes and sailed them out the van’s window.

Then Nino handed Janeway a smaIl suitcase. It was opened. Various handguns and silencers were inside. Janeway chose a 9-mm Glock and a small Beretta with a leg holster. When the gun selection was finished, Nino reached for a briefcase. He opened it for Janeway’s inspection.

Inside the briefcase were various drug paraphernalia. Janeway chose a packet, broke it open, then inhaled the white powder. Leaning back against the van’s wall, Janeway started to laugh at some hidden thought. The laughter seemed contagious because Nino joined in. Suddenly Janeway stopped laughing.

“I want him first,” Janeway said, with a voice iike ice.

* * *

Hong Kong

Faust put down Time magazine when the plane banked to show Victoria Harbor, one of the most interesting and beautiful harbors in the world. He was in the first class section, and the stewardess came by to tell him they would be landing in fifteen minutes.

Faust was traveling light, no weapons, just a small suitcase that held some change of clothes, a make-up kit to change the color of his hair, if need be, and a 35-mm camera and a smaIl tape recorder. He knew his way around Hong Kong, and if he needed a new passport or gun, that wouldn’t be a problem. Money could buy anything in Hong Kong, even a prime minister’s life.

* * *

Prince Albert Hotel

The Wanchai district was sleazy and neon bright. It was night-time and Faust was using a rickshaw to take him to the Prince Albert Hotel. He gave the rickshaw man a generous tip and climbed the steps of the old hotel that had seen better days in the early 1900’s.

Moving down the dingy hallway that was lit by two 30-watt bulbs on either end, Faust headed for an old man that was sitting on a sofa reading a newspaper. The man looked up when he heard Faust and stood waiting for him.

“Tell China Chong that Mister Faust has arrived.”

“You wait. I see if he still live here,” said the old man. He went behind the front counter and picked up a telephone. He said something in Chinese to someone on the other end and put the phone back down.

A door opened and closed from the floor above. Faust heard footsteps before he could see two men descending the stairway. The men looked dangerous and were probably China Chong’s bodyguards, Faust thought.

Man #1 spoke first. “You want China Chong? Who told you he live here?”

“The name is Faust. I don’t have all night, so quit playing games.”

The two men looked at each other and smiled. “Please give me camera,” Man #1 said. Faust handed the man the camera. “Raise hands, please, and turn around.”

“I’m starting to get bored,” Faust said, but slowly turned and raised his arms.

Man #1 began to search for weapons and found a knife strapped to Faust’s right leg. He handed the knife to the #2 man. Then Man #1 stood up and quickly smacked Faust on the temples with his open palms. Faust collapsed to the floor unconscious.

* * *

Proceed to part 4...

Copyright © 2008 by S. H. Linden

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