(This is the continuation of a serial novel. For previous chapters click HERE.)
The safe house was a spiraling, four-story Victorian town house on Constitution Avenue, just two blocks from the Senate Office Buildings.
The building had been purchased 10 years earlier as an investment by an Iranian night club owner. Since then, the townhouse had been indefinitely leased to the Student Justice Committee, an organization founded by Mohammad Karun and used as cover for his U.S. operations. The landlord understood that donating this building to the service of his country was his religious as well as patriotic duty. He knew better than to argue.
Karun’s room had its own discreet alley entrance to the rear. Whenever Karun had business in the U.S., he would always stay at the safe house. Two other men alternately lived in the house during their intermittent stays in Washington. Both men were Iranian. They knew better than to meddle in the business affairs of one another and on the rare occasions when they did speak to each other, they did so in the meaningless exchange of polite pleasantries.
This week both of the other men were out of town, and for that, Mohammad Karun was particularly grateful. He emerged from the black sedan drenched in blood as he made his way toward the rear entrance of the townhouse under the cover of darkness. His sticky hands fumbled for his key before unlocking the back door. It was a cold, dark and overcast autumn evening. Karun decided he would shower and change before indulging the demons of his flesh. He disrobed in the kitchen and deposited the clothes, including his shoes and socks, into a large, green plastic garbage bag and then he sealed it with a twist tie. Completely naked, he stuffed the plastic bag and its contents into a small, brown gym bag. Then he poured himself a large glass of orange juice and drank it quickly.
After a long hot shower and a fresh change of clothes, Karun decided that he would go for a walk. He needed to get rid of the contents of the gym bag first and then dispose of the gym bag at a second location. After that he would use a pay phone to call Sabrina Delfuco and make the final arrangements for his favorite special order — Cupcake.
Karun emptied the contents of his gym bag into a liquor store dumpster six blocks northeast of the safe house. Then he collapsed the empty gym bag under his arm and walked a few blocks further. Assured that nobody was looking, he tossed the bag underhand, like a Frisbee, down a storm drain along the curb of the street. He then headed impatiently toward the nearest pay phone.
All phone lines into the 1700 Club were being intercepted by the National Security Agency at the Fort Meade Headquarters. The FBI was directly linked with NSA and a team of agents were positioned around the club. The communications van, which had the markings of a C&P phone company step van, was parked on the Georgetown Campus along with another van which contained a standby Emergency Service Unit.
Sabrina Delfuco had no idea how many people were interested in the phone call she was about to receive.
“1700 Club, Sabrina speaking,” she answered on the first ring.
“Hello Sabrina, I’m checking again to see if Cupcake is available for tonight,” the thick Middle Eastern voice said.
“No problem,” replied Sabrina “And where would you like that order delivered?” she asked.
“Tell her that this is Ali Baba and I will meet her at exactly 9bat the other club. She will know where that is,” he said quickly hanging up before she could reply.
Sabrina Delfuco heard the sound of the caller hanging up. “Ali another freaking Baba,” she thought to herself while hanging up the phone. Even though he was one of Cupcake’s regulars, something about the caller’s voice made Sabrina uneasy. She lingered near the phone for a moment in thought before returning to the bar where she rejoined Nadia Gavidia in conversation. Nadia was in the middle of finishing her third Margarita.
“Shit,” said Kyle Lipskey, the Agent in Charge, from inside the Command Post Van. “That doesn’t tell us a damn thing,” he said visibly frustrated. “Where the hell is the ‘other club’?” he asked out loud. “Now what?”
Do we bust in there and blow the whole thing hoping that Sabrina rolls over, or do we wait and see who she calls?”
“I’d wait,” Special Agent Parker said calmly. “She still has to make contact with Cupcake.”
Just then a radio transmission interrupted their thoughts.
“Time Three to Time Ten,” radioed the stakeout team positioned to the rear of the 1700 Club. “I’ve got a Hispanic female exiting the rear of the building. She’s getting into a yellow cab … number 5570. She’s alone.”
“I copy Time Three,” Lipskey responded, releasing his tight grasp on the microphone just long enough to contemplate his next move. He clutched the mike again in his fist and spoke as evenly as possible while trying not to betray his tension. “Time Four and Time Five, pick her up and see where she goes.”
“Time Four to Time Ten, 10- 4, we both copy,” replied the units in acknowledgment. Time Four was driving a Dodge Van and Time Five was following in a red Camaro. Both vehicles fell behind the yellow cab and followed it across town to Trax, a night club on the other side of the city.
Kyle Lipskey remained seated in the Command Post van. He knew that all the electronic and microwave technology in the world wouldn’t be able to tell him a thing unless Sabrina Delfuco made contact with Cupcake. Was this Cupcake who just got into the cab or was this another member of Sabrina’s stable?
Lipskey couldn’t help but think of the irony of this moment as he stared at the class ring on his hand. Here he was on the Georgetown campus, his Alma Mater, once again making decisions that would affect his future forever. Lipskey remembered those last weeks before graduating from Georgetown Law School. Those final moments of resignation when he came to terms with himself and who he really wanted to be.
Despite all those years spent studying the law he realized that he had been unable to purge himself of the desires of his youth. Kyle Lipskey never wanted to practice law. He wanted to enforce it. The Bureau was the only logically remaining choice. It was the single option he had left which would redeem him in his father’s eyes. Kyle Lipskey Sr. was a prominent attorney and senior partner in Global Associates, a thriving Washington lobby practice on K Street. If his son elected to chase criminals instead of join the firm, Kyle Sr. found it comforting to know that at least he would be doing so on a grand scale and in a tailored suit.
Lipskey realized that he was working on the biggest case of his career. If Viper is caught, Lipskey would be the rising star who saved the nation and the lives of the innocent from a foreign terrorist threat. The Bureau was always good at promoting itself. If, on the other hand, things went down like the World Trade Center, Lipskey knew he would spend his remaining years chasing sheep rustlers who cross the Montana state line.
“ Time Ten to Time Three,” Lipskey said evenly.
“ Time Three,” the stakeout unit responded.
“ How was our lady dressed?” Lipskey asked.
“Black dress, with the furls, the kind you can dance in. She looked sharp,” Time Three said.
“Not like a cupcake?” Lipskey asked.
“A cupcake? I don’t think so,” Time Three said.
“Cupcake is her street name Kyle,” Parker said with a Tennessee drawl. “This is kinky trick, for a kinky kind of guy,” he said with conviction. “The name Cupcake definitively lacks a Latin flavor. This is not who we are looking for.”
Lipskey knew that Parker was probably right, but at this juncture they could assume nothing. Lipskey envied Parker’s position. Right or wrong, Parker’s head wouldn’t be on the chopping block.
“Time Four to Time Ten … the subject is entering a nightclub named Trax over here in Southeast, we can’t make out the exact address yet. Two of us are going inside to watch her … we’ll advise.”
“10-4 Time Four,” Lipskey acknowledged. He turned in his swivel chair to face Parker. “I’ll give them until 9. We’ll know by then — one way or the other.”
Trax was a nightclub with many faces. There were several different dance floors and bar areas housed under a single roof. The warehouse had been converted into an exotic, laser-lighted, surround-sounded, meat market of eclectic tastes. The club’s clientele scaled the full range of sexual dress and preferences. It was a place where transsexuals mingled with lesbians and where handsome, gay men who worked on the Hill came out to dance to another beat. Trendy straights of all colors and creeds mingled easily among their gay brothers and sisters while the beat played on. Trax was not the official hangout of the Moral Majority, although on occasions a few of them might also be seen straying from the flock on a Saturday night.
Agents Andrea Henderson and Mike Butler of the FBI piled out of the Time Four Van and followed Nadia Gavidia into Trax. The agents tried to blend in while they separated themselves from each other, always keeping Nadia Gavidia in sight and between them. They hardly noticed Gavidia as she talked briefly to the bartender while paying for her drink. Cupcake, the bartender formerly known as Raymond Jones, was a tall and slender black transsexual with large hormone-treated breasts. Her long black hands and painted nails reached out and dangled the 15 dollars in change from the twenty Nadia paid for her Margarita. Nadia smiled at the offering and graciously waved it away. “Keep it,” she said “and enjoy your evening.”
Then Nadia Gavidia slowly sauntered into the large dance studio and began to dance with the second man who asked. The man was in his early 20s, blond, and definitely not an Iranian. Agents Henderson and Butler followed Gavidia into the dance studio, watching her every move while feeling the loud, vibrating rhythms of the music envelope them. They never noticed Cupcake leave from behind the bar and check out.
Once outside the night club, Cupcake hailed a cab and told the cabby the address of the Brass Ring, a gay bar in northwest. As she was getting into the cab, she cast a flirting glance at the tall muscular black man behind the wheel of the FBI surveillance van and blew him a kiss. While Special Agent Marcus Williams didn’t find the gesture amusing, the four other agents crouched out of sight behind him did. “Come here often Marcus?” one of them jokes from behind. “I think Miss Thing got herself a thing, for your thing Marcus. Trust me baby … a sister knows these kind of things,” teased Elvira White.
Marcus Williams didn’t find any of them amusing. Soon none of them would.
“Ali Ba-Ba-Baby,” Cupcake said loud enough to be heard over the music and by every patron of the Brass Ring. Cupcake enjoyed making loud entrances whenever she entered a club. She walked across the room as though it were a stage, profiling for the clientele as she approached Mohammad’s table. Mohammad looked up from his drink of club soda and gave Cupcake a nervous smile in return. He eyed her tight red skirt which featured the rolling movements of Cupcake’s high, bulging ass as she walked toward him. Her black tube top blouse barely contained her new and expensive breasts.
“You look nervous Ali,” Cupcake said while tickling Karun under his chin with the long fake nail of her index finger. “Shall we get right down to business? You look like you could use some relaxation.”
“You’re right,” agreed Karun “let us go now to my place.”
The two hailed a cab and Karun told the driver to take them to the corner of Third and C Street Northeast. Cupcake had never been to Karun’s address before so she didn’t know they would have to walk three extra blocks in her six-inch high heels. For a thousand bucks she probably would have done it anyway.
When they arrived, the cab stopped in front of a large yellow brick apartment house called simply – The Capitol. Mohammad paid the cabby, tipping him generously as they both exited the cab.
“You know something funny,” Karun said, “I meant to tell him Third and Constitution. That is my townhouse over there.”
Cupcake pretended to believe him, saying “See baby I said you were all wound up. Why you don’t just take me to a hotel anyway?”
Cupcake was all too familiar with John’s and their paranoid games. She figured he was trying to silently sneak her in the back door without the neighbors noticing. It wouldn’t be the first time, she thought.
Once inside the safe house Cupcake sat on the sofa and slipped off her high heels.
“Got anything to drink Ali?” she asked while rubbing her feet.
“Hennessey or Scotch?” he replied.
“Hennessey with some coke if you have it,” she responded.
Karun rarely drank. It was as much against his religion as what he was about to do. The demons win again, he thought while pouring the cognac until it filled half a brandy snifter.
“One Hennessey Coke,” he said smiling as he presented Cupcake with her drink.
“This is a nice place. You live here alone?” Cupcake asked.
“No, I have two roommates.” he confessed. “The building is owned by my company,” he said.
“That was the import — export business right?” Cupcake asked, proud that she could still remember all the lies her Johns told her.
“No actually I told you a little lie. All of us here are spies,” he smiled. “Some would even call us terrorists.”
“Whatever Baby. It sure enough pays the rent, if you know what I mean,” Cupcake said. “You meet all kinds in my business. Everything from dope dealers to unhappy husbands and to be honest with you baby, I don’t give a fuck. You do your thing and I do mines. You know what I’m saying? Ben Franklin is my man. The rest of them children ain’t my concern. You see what I’m saying?” she asked with a smile.
“That’s very good — the mark of a true professional. Remain detached and never become too involved with your customers. That is exactly how I must work Cupcake.”
“Well then,” she said smiling while swallowing the last of her drink “shall we fuck?”
“How you would like 20 Ben Franklins instead of 10 this time Cupcake?” he asked.
“Who do I have to kill?” she asked with enthusiastically.
“I want to fuck you without a rubber,” he said timidly almost begging.
“I said kill — not be killed baby. Everybody wears a rubber. No exceptions! “” she said flatly.
“I understand,” he said pretending to agree. Karun knew that in a week he would be dead anyway. AIDS was no longer his concern. Cupcake would have been better off taking her chances.
Once upstairs they entered a weight room. Three of the walls were painted black. The forth was a full length mirror. Dozens of chrome weights sparkled in the glow of recessed lighting. The room was a small, professionally equipped gym.
“Remember these?” Karun asked as he held up the leather restraints.
“Still into that bondage thing — baby?” she said while dropping her skirt. “Let me see my Bens first honey. You know what they say; In God we trust.”
Mohammad held up two thousand-dollar stacks of wrapped hundred dollar bills.
“Sure you don’t want to change your mind?” he asked for one last time.
Cupcake shook her head no and accepted a single stack of wrapped hundreds which she tossed on the floor beside her shirt without counting.
Karun bound Cupcake’s wrists to the metal frame beneath the bench press. Then he elevated the bench to a 45 degree angle with the floor and Cupcake straddled the black stretched naugahide bench which now supported her body. The two protruding cheeks of Cupcake’s ass were twitching as she taunted him to enter her.
Karun went to the medicine cabinet and retrieved a rubber together with a large wad of cotton. He opened the rubber package and stretched the latex across his throbbing cock.
Cupcake watch this approvingly in the mirror wall that faced her. What she didn’t see was the small ampule of chloroform that he had concealed in his right hand.
“What’s the cotton for baby?” Cupcake asked.
“For this!” he said excitedly while breaking open the ampule and pouring the liquid into the cotton. He blotted the cotton wad over her mouth. Her strength was incredible. She nearly lifted the entire bench press off the floor as she reared upward trying to stand. Mohammad held the back of her head in an arm lock with his right hand pressing her face into the cotton which he cradled in his other hand. Mohammad held his breath trying not to inhale the fumes of the anesthesia. He could feel Cupcake growing weaker until eventually she stopped moving. Mohammad removed the latex from his cock freeing it to be inserted unencumbered into the ass of the now unconscious Cupcake. He could smell the aroma of excrement as he pounded her parted buttocks with his cock. He would continue to sodomize her well into the morning, pausing only long enough to apply another ampule of anesthetic.
When Karun finally had had enough of Cupcake’s ass he unstrapped her bound wrists and let her limp body fall with a thud to the floor. It was nearly 2 o’clock in the morning. Not wanting to spill any blood, which he would only have to clean up later, Karun cradled Cupcake’s head in his lap. He felt the coarseness of her wig rub against his shit brown stained balls as he smelled the secretions of gases that now were emitting from her bowels. He slowly began to smother her with the cotton while pinching her nose. His penis rose to the occasion. When asphyxiation was complete and Cupcake had stopped breathing, Karun snapped her neck and went to bed.
Sabrina Delfuco had closed the 1700 Club and was about to unlock the door to her Lexus when she was approached by the Agent in Charge, Kyle Lipskey, and his partner, Special Agent Parker.
“Sabrina Delfuco?” Lipskey asked loudly.
“Yes,” she replied knowing damn well she was about to be busted.
The agents introduced themselves amicably, performing their ceremonial display of credentials.
“We need to talk with you about Cupcake and the man she was supposed to be meeting tonight,” Lipskey said patiently while knowing full well what her next two responses would be before she had uttered them.
“Am I under arrest?” she asked in bewilderment.
“No Miss Delfuco, not at this time,” replied Agent Parker, “however your cooperation in this matter may help us catch someone suspected of murder.”
“Can’t this wait until morning?” she asked.
“We believe Cupcake’s date tonight is the same man we are looking for,” Lipskey said with a tone of waning patience in his explanation.
Shit she thought to herself. That freaking Camel Jockey — I knew it! Sabrina Delfuco looked around the parking lot. She noticed the SWAT team, the dozen other agents mulling about and she quickly came to the conclusion that Kyle Lipskey wasn’t trying to bullshit her. Sabrina knew that in her business there comes a time when you need to know when to fold.
From this moment on, she knew it would be her demeanor that would determine 90 percent of her fate — especially with the fucking Feds. Sabrina had learned long ago to never thumb her nose at cops when they had her. When you fuck with a Bull you get the horn. This policy went double for Feds who always seemed to carry a bigger bag of tricks. She didn’t need the hassle of having the IRS poking around her business and she especially didn’t want to fall back on her ‘friends in high places’ trump card unless it was absolutely necessary. Sabrina had made up her mind. She turned on the charm.
“Well … if you think it’s that important, I’ll respect your decision … Agent Lipskey is it?” Sabrina asked smiling.
Lipskey tried to manage a smile, back but his face froze halfway through the gesture. He had memorized Sabrina’s rap sheet.
“To save time, we can do this in the Command Post, Miss Delfuco?” asked Lipskey.
Once inside, Agent Parker read Sabrina Delfuco her rights. Miranda was something Sabrina had memorized years ago.
“Do I need a lawyer?” she asked while looking at Agent Lipskey.
Sabrina enjoyed asking this question for a couple of reasons. It was the sort of basic question that never failed to make cops uncomfortable when it was asked. Uncomfortable is good. Obviously they don’t want you to have a lawyer, only they can’t just come out and say that. The first thing all lawyers tell their clients is “Don’t say anything until I get there.”
Sabrina knew damn well that she needed a lawyer, however she also knew that, while she wasn’t required to say anything, the Feds had the option of using their discretion. Discretion is a wonderful thing. To charge, or not to charge, that is the question, and when you want to catch big fish, you usually are willing to let a few little ones go free. Sabrina knew the game well. She had been playing it for over 20 years.
She had a hunch they really weren’t interested in her and that she could negotiate with them a little while longer before the dog realized that he was being wagged by the tail. Sabrina could see that Agent Lipskey was anxious. Never let them see you sweat, she thought to herself.
“Do you need a lawyer?” Lipskey asked rhetorically. “Well I guess that depends on whether or not we catch this trick you sent Cupcake out with this evening.”
“Agent Lipskey, I’m a Madame and I run a service of call girls. You and I both know that. I don’t get involved in murder and when that sort of thing comes to my attention, I have no problem cooperating with the authorities. I’m sure you already know that what I’m saying is true. Just look at my rap sheet. They’re mostly Nolle Pros and Probation before Judgments. PBJ is another word for cooperation. Some drug and prostitution charges — that’s it. I’ve always been willing to work with the police and the FBI in the past. Anyone who knows me can tell you that I deplore violence. I’m in the pleasure business, Agent Lipskey, and violence is bad for that kind of business.”
“Well then, it looks like we all agree,” Agent Parker said smiling. “ Shall we proceed then?” he asked while offering his hand, palm up, as though he were again presenting Agent Lipskey for the first time.
“You need to know about Cupcake. Without getting into the details of my particular involvement, I will tell you all I know. She was meeting with a Iranian she called Ali Baba …”
“Ali Baba huh,” Lipskey said sarcastically, “with or without his 40 thieves.”
“Tricks don’t usually give their real names Agent Lipskey,” Sabrina explained patiently while wondering to herself how street smart this Fed really was.
“And I suppose you just send your girls out with anyone who calls in saying their name is Ali Baba right?” he repeated quickly.
“How do you determine a price?” Agent Parker asked before she could answer the first question.
The tag team act was beginning. I’m too tired for this shit, Sabrina thought.
“The price is always a thousand dollars and the Trick has to be known by the girl or else referred by someone we know. In this case, it was both. Cupcake knew this guy by the name Ali Baba and we knew his referral — Alexi Defarshi.
“By ‘we’ you mean you, right?” Lipskey asked.
Sabrina was losing her patience. She was trying to remain calm, but this arrogant prick was wearing out the welcome mat.
“I was under the impression that you wanted my help, and that this was all about a murderer you were investigating — not me!” she said while glaring into Lipskey’s eyes.
“It could be both, Miss Delfuco. I can’t do much with what you’re telling me so far. I mean this Ali Baba shit just isn’t going to cut it,” he said loudly.
Parker intervened. “Calm down Kyle — she’s trying to cooperate with us. All she’s doing is trying to protect herself. You can’t blame her for that. She’s only trying to make sure she doesn’t incriminate herself along with her operation,” he said with the smooth, Southern drawl of incriminating reason.
“For the record, it’s not my operation and I’m really quite surprised the FBI doesn’t know that. You really should do your homework,” she said bitterly while trying to regain her composure.
“I have done my homework Miss Delfuco,” Lipskey bluffed. “Now tell us about Cupcake and where she was to meet Ali Baba.
“The guy just said at the ‘other club’ when he called. He said she would know where that was,” Sabrina said.
“That’s just great! And how, may I ask, did you manage to get that message to her,” Lipskey asked.
Fuck me! Our phones are tapped, Sabrina thought to herself.
“One of the girls delivered the message to her tonight. In person at the place where Cupcake works … a club called Trax.”
Lipskey looked at Parker with a wild-eyed stare. Both men were stunned and their eyes betrayed that fact to Sabrina. There was a long moment of silence before Lipskey began again.
“Is there anyone Cupcake may have confided in? Some friend maybe — which she may have trusted enough to talk with about this Ali Baba?” pleaded Lipskey.
Suddenly it began to look to Sabrina Delfuco like she was about to crawl out of the trick bag one more time.
“Yes, as a matter of fact, there is someone, Agent Lipskey. Cupcake has a girlfriend named Luscious. Luscious is another transsexual. Luscious and Cupcake are like sisters. They even work together and trade clients. If anyone can, Luscious will be able to help you. She works at a club in Northwest. It’s called the Brass Ring.
Esprit de Cops
Darren Harrison had just finished reading the Post article about Alexi Defarshi written by Debbie Peerless. That woman sure had some inside sources, Harrison thought to himself as he threw the paper down on his desk. Just then Irwin Rogers entered the room.
“What’s up Ir-win?” Harrison asked with a smile.
“I’m waiting to hear from one of the employees who works with Donovan. Donovan’s alibi is a guy named Mickey Fitch. Fitch apparently called Donovan on or about the time of the murder at his home in McClean. How about you?” Rogers asked.
“You hear about the homicide on Wisconsin Avenue around 6 o’clock yesterday?” Harrison asked quietly.
“No,” Rogers said.
“Something ain’t right about the way this thing went down. Some rug salesman — another Iranian — gets sliced and diced in his shop on Wisconsin. It’s another hit. Definitely not a robbery. All the money’s left in the register but … check this out. The FBI is on the scene before uniform even gets the call. What’s up with that? Then I call a friend of mine at the Bureau — Marcus Williams. He won’t tell me shit. Now that tells me a whole lotta shit. They’re working something all right but, it’s hush-hush when it comes to notifying the local P.D.”
“Everybody wants to be a star. Whatever happened to inter-agency cooperation?” Rogers asked, shaking his head in disbelief. “I’ve got a contact who might know something. We used to work together when I was on the Cold Case Squad. I’ll check it out with him. Meanwhile Dar-ren what have you got in the works for today?”
“I’m going to finish up dictating these autopsy findings and the ballistic report. Nobody has claimed Defarshi’s body so far. No will is on file locally. So it’s paperwork time and after that I think I’ll take off for Blues Alley to unwind and catch the show. I’m feeling a little burned out. This reporter Debbie Peerless seems to know more than we do. Did you read today’s story?”
“Oh Yeah and so did Alphonso Foggs. He jumped down my throat this morning about leaks to the press. Shit, Alphonso probably is the leak. Gotta go — I’m out of here,” Rogers said, rising from the chair. “You have my beeper if you need me.”
“ Ir- win,” Harrison yelled as Rogers was halfway out the door.
“What?” Rogers asked while turning back to face Harrison.
“Can you remember when the last time it was that two Iranians were hit in a single week?” Harrison asked
“I hear you,” Rogers replied, nodding as he turned to leave.
Rogers’ pager went off. He pressed it to retrieve the number. He knew from the 703 area code that it was Virginia, most likely, Mickey Fitch.
Rogers called from a 7-Eleven and Mickey Fitch answered the phone at the first ring.
“Mr. Donovan told me that you would need to interview me. I was hoping we could do it during lunch. You could meet me here at Langley and we could use one of the conference rooms.”
“Sounds fine to me,” Rogers agreed, “just let me jot down the directions.”
Twenty minutes later, Rogers entered the main hallway entrance to the Central Intelligence Agency. The Agency Seal was embedded into the marble. It was an American Bald Eagle whose motto was Know the truth and ye shall be free. Security directed Rogers to wait while they went to get Mickey Fitch.
Rogers observed the tall and lanky Mr. Fitch as he approached from across the mezzanine. Either this guy never went out into the sun or he was born wearing a #35 sunblock. Mickey Fitch was the whitest, white man Rogers had ever seen. Mickey’s arms appeared to be permanently stapled to his side when he walked. Only his wrists dangled loosely by his side keeping rhythm with the cadence of his lengthy and awkward gate. He was wearing a pair of circular framed, horned rimmed glasses that were tinted gray. The top of his head was bald and pale which made the remaining long hair on either side of his head resemble a pair of misplaced gray ear muffs. As he stopped in front of Rogers and extended his long, thin arm, Rogers was tempted to check for a pulse. After a limp handshake Fitch asked Rogers to follow him to the conference room where they “could enjoy some privacy.”
On the wall of the conference room another slogan hung. “Intelligence deals with information which should be known in advance of initiating a course of action.”— Allen Dulles
“Allen Dulles was our founding director,” Fitch said auspiciously.
“Yes I know,” Rogers said. “I personally wished his brother could have talked Eisenhower out of that Domino Theory thought.”
Fitch didn’t smile.
“I need you to write a statement if you would, regarding the phone call you made to Mr. Donovan last Friday night on or about 3 a.m. … on November 14th.”
Donovan had already written the first question on the statement form along with the date and location. He recorded the time as 12:30 p.m. and then slid the statement form across the mahogany conference table to Mickey Fitch.
When Fitch was finished writing, he slid the paper back to Rogers and Rogers began to read it slowly. When done reading, he looked up at Fitch and smiled.
“So,” he began, “ Mr. Donovan tells me that you are the Middle Eastern Station Chief of Counter Terrorist Operations, is that right.”
“Yes sir, I’ve already written that in my statement,” Fitch said tediously.
One of the cardinal rules of interrogation is that, when at all possible, you conduct them on your turf — not theirs. You want the person being interviewed to be around unfamiliar surroundings, off guard. Rogers took a gamble interviewing Fitch at work. Fitch was career CIA. He understood and respected a chain of command and during his entire professional life, Mickey Fitch had been groomed to follow orders. Everything about this building reinforced that commitment. Fitch felt very comfortable in these secure surroundings. He would respond to questions the way his superiors would want him to. He would above all else follow the orders he was given. That is what Rogers was counting on.
“Mr. Fitch, I realize that the exact nature of your call to Mr. Donovan is classified and of course cannot be discussed in detail is that correct?” Rogers asked.
“Yes Detective Rogers that is correct. I can verify the fact that I did contact Mr. Donovan at his home at 0303 hrs. on the 14th of November.”
“You say you contacted him at his home. Of course he could have had his calls forwarded to a mobile phone could he not?” Rogers asked.
“Yes detective, he could have,” Fitch said smiling slightly, “however I would have known that he was on mobile from my station post here in Langley. Mr. Donovan also made a secure link with us at 0308 hrs on his 11G unit which would have been impossible to do when mobile.”
“What is an 11G unit?” Rogers asked while waging with himself that he already knew the answer.
“It’s a computer that is directly linked to our network,” Fitch said uncomfortably.
“How can you be certain that this computer wasn’t moved?” Rogers asked.
“The 11G unit when installed had tamper resistant precautions built into its design. One of those precautions prevents it from being moved without triggering a distress signal to the Command Center here. The moment that signal is activated the unit and its location can be tracked by a Global Positioning Satellite. The 11G system’s operational capability would be neutralized automatically within five minutes of any unauthorized movement,” Fitch said confidently.
“You mean self destruction?” Rogers asked.
“Not explode like a bomb Detective Rogers. Nothing quite so theatrical. The distress signal would continue for tracking purposes, however the circuitry would be electrically overloaded and rendered unidentifiable.”
“I see,” Rogers said, “and forgive me if I seem a little slow here. All this stuff is new to me. How would you know that it really was Mr. Donovan at the other end of the computer?”
“Before the secured part of the transmission begins, the end user has to sign on with a secured code. Then there is a sort of … video conferencing which takes place,” said Fitch, pausing as though he were grasping for more simple terms. “During that video conference, a digital confirmation of the end user is made before the secured transmission is sent.”
“Digital confirmation?” asked Rogers truly bewildered.
“Each person’s face is a unique series of dots,” Fitch explained. “If the Mona Lisa put on 20 pounds and was 10 years older, we could show you how she would look, and digital science could confirm her identity. That’s about all I can say on the subject sir. I can tell you without any doubt that I was talking to Phil Donovan at his home at the time in question.”
“That’s really amazing Mr. Fitch,” Rogers said in awe. “I had no idea that these sort of things were possible. I’m definitely in the wrong line of work. If only police departments had this kind of technology.”
“It’s expensive, Detective Rogers and we are merely standing at the threshold of things to come,” said Fitch, who now was clearly inspired by Rogers’ appreciation of the concept. “The time will come when we will be able to take a digital photograph of a crowd, perhaps of thousands of people at a time and scan their faces. In minutes we could know who in the crowd is wanted for a crime. Think of the potential this technology would have in helping to locate a missing child. The possibilities are endless.”
Now was as good a time to begin as any, Rogers thought. “Alexi Defarshi was an Iranian. Did you know that?” Rogers asked plainly.
“Mr. Donovan had indicated that to me in passing,” Fitch said, no longer smiling.
“An Iranian was murdered earlier yesterday on Wisconsin Avenue. This guy owned a rug business, I’m told. Another professional hit of an Iranian. The second in two weeks. This time the FBI gets to the scene before we do. Almost like they were expecting something. You know anything about that Mr. Fitch?” Rogers asked while staring through the tinted lenses of Mickey Fitch’s glasses.
Mickey Fitch paused before he responded just long enough to compose himself and just long enough to convince Detective Irwin Rogers that he knew everything about what happened on Wisconsin Avenue.
“I was under the impression that you wanted to talk to me about November 14th, Detective Rogers. Now we seem to be drifting from the subject. How would I know anything about an Iranian who was murdered yesterday?” he asked.
“Relax Mr. Fitch …” Rogers said, holding up his hand as though stopping traffic.
“I don’t think you understand where I’m coming from. You have it all wrong. Just today, my partner pointed out to me that we have never had two Iranians murdered like this in a single week ever. The truth is the Iranians who live in the city have always been law-abiding and prosperous citizens. Then suddenly — out of the blue — two wind up dead. See what I mean? First you wake up Mr. Donovan the same night the first Iranian is killed and next, the FBI winds up on the scene of the second Iranian who gets killed before we even know about it. Now I’m not asking you to talk out of school, Mr. Fitch, but you are, after all, the Middle Eastern Station Chief of Counter Terrorist Operations — right? Is something going on I should know about? I’m asking for your help Mr. Fitch.”
“I know only what I told you. I know nothing about this rug merchant’s murder yesterday and I cannot discuss my operations as Station Chief in this Agency,” Fitch said firmly.
High on the top floor of the CIA at that very moment, Phil Donovan was leaning back in his large leather chair and listening to every word Mickey Fitch was discussing with Detective Irwin Rogers. An electronic voice stress analyzer was monitoring the conversation. It had demonstrated clearly to Donovan that Mickey Fitch was lying his ass off.
Donovan summoned Mickey Fitch to his office as soon as Rogers left. It was reinforcement time. Fitch entered the room visibly shaken.
“Have a seat Mickey,” Donovan said, smiling cordially. “You deserve a break after that third degree. What do you think of our Detective Rogers?” Donovan laughed.
“Well sir, he caught me a little off guard with that Wisconsin Avenue thing.”
“Something to drink?” Donovan asked.
“Just water please,” Fitch said.
Donovan opened a bottle of sparking Quibble water and passed it to Mickey Fitch. Fitch finished half the bottle with the first swallow, enjoying the hint of lemon lime flavor.
“You were more than ‘a little’ off guard Mickey. You blew the voice analyzer off the scale when he asked you about Viper’s latest victim. One of these days I’m going to have to send you to desensitizing training. Take that course and you’ll be able to beat a lie detector. Just ask our imprisoned colleague, Mr. Ames,” Donovan said with a touch of irony that he instantly regretted.
“Mickey, I just want to assure you that you did the right thing and that both this Agency and I stand behind you. Your sacrifice won’t go unnoticed nor will it go unrewarded. You have my word on that,” Donovan said somberly. “Now go home – take the rest of the day off and I’ll bring this matter up with Bill Gallager when I see him at the White House briefing this afternoon.”
Mickey Fitch spirits were reinforced the moment he heard that the National Security Director would be briefed about his involvement. Fitch suddenly felt important as he rose from his chair to leave. He almost appeared invulnerable.
George Munkelwitz has been a law enforcement officer for 32 years. He spent 22 years patrolling the streets as a Prince George’s County Police officer. He served in Vietnam as a military intelligence specialist where he worked with the controversial Phoenix Program. Prior to the anthrax attack, he was writing the book “The Mother of Satan.” After the anthrax attack, an article appeared in the Washington Times magazine Insight, quoting his expertise in military intelligence, and mentioning his book. ABC news interviewed him but he felt the network treated him like a suspect and not an expert in the field. He never published the book after that interview. Nearly two decades later, his serial novel is finally published by Baltimore Post-Examiner.