The Eighty-eighth Key, Chapter 63

88 Glacier

A brief chapter today, a transition of sorts. Maybe a sip of scotch, I dare say…

[Sting \\ Something The Boy Said]

Chapter 63

Colonel Goodman was in his office sitting at his desk, looking out his window, looking out over the city of Tel Aviv and the Mediterranean beyond. He’d been reading summaries of ongoing operations all morning but his mind kept drifting back to Harry Callahan and his return to California. What a blown operation that had been, the very definition of a clusterfuck, but what exactly had gone wrong?

The idea of ‘wounding’ Callahan, maybe with a grazing shot, was the first thing that had gone wrong – but probably because the entire premise behind it had been so morally out of bounds. Why had he approved such an outlandish plan? Then the fucking sniper had almost blown Callahan’s leg off. Brilliant! And so Didi had been locked out of Callahan’s life and years of work keeping him under observation had come to an end. The Watson woman, Harry’s assistant, had proven too competent, and once she’d figured out what was happening she’d moved all of Callahan’s assets out of reach. She moved to secure the residence in Davos and she’d also worked to get the planned recording studio in the village up and running. Goodman sighed, wishing he had one person on staff who was half as competent as this Watson woman.

So for weeks he’d been frozen out and he could only guess what Callahan was up to. Worse still, he was no longer in any kind of position to render assistance to Callahan if he needed help. But then Deborah Eisenstadt had come along out of the blue. The physicist had every imaginable security clearance and had even worked for Mossad on two occasions, but her allegiance to the State of Israel was questionable – so that had to be settled before he could move forward with his plan. 

A Danish Jew, her life’s circumstances had pushed her to the Soviet Union and then to Armenia, until Anders Sorensen had snatched her up and married her. Funny too, because Sorensen had probably saved her life by getting her beyond the reach of the KGB. But Mossad had recruited her shortly after she arrived in Israel, ostensibly to keep an eye out for possible Soviet operations within the academic community, so her immigration to the U.S. had come as a blow. But now there was news almost too good to be true. Was Callahan coming into her life – even peripherally? Because if so then things had come full-circle and he might have access to Callahan once again.

He’d just finished reading the contact report from Ted Sorensen that had come in last night. Eisenstadt hadn’t mentioned her contact with Liz Bullitt so Goodman had to assume Eisenstadt had already learned of the acoustic shift and if her background was any indication she’d understood the implications of Imogen Schwarzwald’s discovery. As long as she didn’t actively begin work on the Shift she’d be safe enough, at least for now – but something else was bothering Goodman.

A Mossad operative in the consulate had passed along that Sorensen was headed to New York for a meeting today, and yet Sorensen had omitted that detail from his contact report. Why?

So now Goodman was worried, because…what was Sorensen up to?

So first thing this morning he’d sent word to New York to make sure Sorensen’s movements on the ground were detailed, and to keep him in the loop as the surveillance progressed throughout the day. Then Didi had called and he’d asked her to come down to the office for lunch. She’d been working down in the desert on the Shift Project and he hadn’t seen her in weeks – and besides, he was always curious about her work down there.

Still, something was wrong, and Goodman could feel it in his bones. Something was wrong with Sorensen. Something…big. Why would Sorensen keep things from him? Why now? And what was he up to in New York?

He knew he needed answers, too.

Didi appeared in his doorway and she smiled. He turned to her and nodded.

“Come. Sit. Tell me of the problems of the world,” he said with a smile.

“It’s a very complicated world, Papa,” she sighed as she came into his inner sanctum, “but you looked troubled this morning, not me.”

“No? Well, you look sunburned. Are you at least using sunscreen?”

She shook her head and grinned. “No, never.”

“You’ll not like the results,” Goodman said with a shrug as he pointed at two recent biopsies taken from the top of his left forearm. “Basal cell carcinoma, I think the doctor calls it.”

“Is it serious?”

“Serious? No, not really. It was caught early.”

“So, what’s troubling you?”

“You recall Ted Sorensen?”

“The producer at Paramount?”

Goodman nodded. “I’ve been running him for years. He grew up with Callahan.”

Didi’s eyes darkened. “I didn’t know that.”

“No reason you should have. They rarely see one another, and haven’t for, well, quite a while now.”

“And he reports to you?”

Goodman nodded. “Ever since his father moved here. Nothing major, just deep background on Hollywood, things he thinks we might be interested in. It’s all very informal, or at least it was until recently. But he’s keeping things from me, things he knows would be of interest to me.”

“And that is what is troubling you?”

“I’m not sure. I’ve had this feeling all morning long, like something bad is…”

“Papa? What is it?”

“I don’t know,” Goodman said as he reached for the television’s remote. He flipped it on and turned to CNN and his eyes squinted when he saw black smoke pouring from one of the World Trade Center towers. “Where is bin Laden?” he whispered as he picked up his phone and dialed a four digit extension. “Lev? Ben. Are you watching CNN? No? Well turn it on and find out where bin Laden is and let me know. Thanks.” He pushed down on the cradle and then dialed his receptionist. “Doris, get me the Prime Minister.”

Didi pulled her chair close to the TV and they both watched as a second airliner slammed into the unharmed tower…

“Shit,” Colonel Goodman sighed, just before his phone chimed. He reached over and picked it up: “Ariel. CNN now!”

He hung up and watched the grainy feed from a helicopter, and then it hit him. Sorensen had just landed in New York, at La Guardia. Coincidence? Or planned?

“I hate coincidences,” he whispered under his breath, fingers drumming on his desktop. “What the hell are you up to, Sorensen?”

By the time United 93 was down in a field in Pennsylvania, the Mossad, like the entire Israeli government, was in full crisis mode. Everyone knew bin Laden was behind the operation so now it was just a matter of running him down and taking him out – except he’d simply disappeared, gone to ground and now presumably somewhere in Afghanistan. But Colonel Goodman presumably had other matters on his mind, too.

Because when he learned that Ted Sorensen’s Gulfstream was headed for London, he also learned that Delbert Moloch was on board. Moloch was no friend of the State of Israel, but he had been causing problems all over Eastern Europe for years, and was now understood to be operating in South America. He had at one point been a Kremlin operative but was now living in Surrey, south of London. Exactly what he was doing, and who was paying for his services, still remained a mystery.

Yet if Moloch was now operating with Sorensen then this very clearly fell within his purview. But now, with everything else happening in the United States today, Goodman simply made the decision to move a few pieces on the board. This sort of mission compartmentalization ensured operational security, yet the lack of back-up would perhaps unnecessarily expose his agent to greater than normal risk.

So with well-founded misgivings, he immediately sent his daughter to London to find out what was happening with Sorensen and Moloch, then he got on the phone and called Boston.

+++++

Out among the slender pines and white-limbed birch trees northwest of Boston, at the dead end of Millstone Road you come upon MIT’s Haystack Observatory – the facility rather like a needle in a haystack out there by itself in the forests of central New England. Debra Sorensen thought as much, anyway, as they passed the Millstone Hill Radio Telescope. But that was nothing compared to the huge, white dome that suddenly appeared out of nowhere. She was sitting beside Deborah Eisenstadt, while Professor Gene Sherman sat in the rear seat working on lesson plans and lab assignments for the coming term when she first saw the dome, and Sherman looked up when he heard Sorensen gasp. He put away his papers, lost in thought, still lost on…the Matterhorn.

The observatory’s undergraduate liaison led the group on a short tour of the facility and then Sherman and Sorensen listened as Eisenstadt went over the basic premises of radio astronomy and what Haystack and Millstone were working on – before driving over to Mario’s for a quick bite.

“So, Dr. Sherman,” the girl said, “what did you think of the light in Sagittarius?”

But Sherman simply shrugged before he reconsidered. “I’m still puzzled about the duration of the event,” he said. “If it’s some kind of periodic pulsar, it is of a type we’ve never encountered before, so that’s of interest. So too was the nature of the light emitted, but we’ll be studying this event for years, if not decades.”

“Do you think you could use my recordings?”

“Of course. I’d love to go over them, so if you have time please send me a copy.” He looked at the girl, still unsure of her motives. She didn’t appear to be the studious type, yet her grades were spot on. But…why was she here? “So tell me, what did you make of the event?”

“I think there was an embedded pattern in the sequence, and I’d like to know what it is.”

Sherman nodded but he looked away. “What kind of pattern,” he said, his voice barely a whisper.

“The number seven repeats in a number of ways…”

“Yes, yes, there’s been a lot of speculation about that in the newspapers. Numerology, the Kabbalah and all that, but did you see any deeper patterns?”

“No, not really.”

“Okay,” Sherman said, somewhat relieved, “well, perhaps we should head back to the city. I’ve a dinner appointment,” he added, looking at Eisenstadt and nodding, “and I don’t want to be late.”

 After they dropped Sorensen off at her father’s hotel, Eisenstadt turned to Sherman. “What was that all about.”

“Hm-m? What do you mean?”

“About patterns in the pulsar’s light.”

“Oh, just a thought.”

“Well, you dropped her like a hot rock after that. Why?”

“Tell me, Deborah, about this father of her’s. Is that why you wanted to roll out the red carpet for this girl.”

“In a way, yes, but she’s also family.”

“So you said. If she applies I take it you’d like my endorsement?”

“Only if freely given, Gene. No pressure on my part.”

“Well, frankly, I doubt you’ll hear from her again, at least concerning coming to school here. She’s not the type, and my guess is this is just a passing fancy to her.”

“Do you think that’s a fair assessment, Gene?”

“Fair or not, she doesn’t have the intensity. She’s not a scientist, Deborah, and you know it.”

Eisenstadt sighed, but she nodded. “Well, I suspected as much, but I needed to be sure. That’s why I called you.”

+++++

Didi Goodman watched the south end of runway 04 at London’s Stansted Airport, waiting for Sorensen’s Gulfstream to taxi to the Harrods Aviation FBO on the west side of the airport. She needed to pee – desperately – but she simply had to hold it now. The Gulfstream taxied to a stop and she watched Sorensen and another man walk down the air stairs and climb into the black Range Rover they’d already identified, and geotagged, so she relaxed a little.

“They ought to come out this way, to the M11,” her driver said. Padi Chomski was Mossad and was also nominally assigned as a commercial attaché at the main Kensington Gardens Embassy, but as soon as Moloch’s name entered the equation he had been detached to help Goodman. The sun had been down for almost two hours and and it was beginning to rain, but as they were waiting to intercept the Range Rover Chomski saw an ambulance head out to the Gulfstream…

“Do you think we should tail the Rover or the ambulance?” he asked.

“We follow Moloch,” Goodman said, her mind focused on anything but her bladder.

“Are you alright?”

“No, I haven’t taken a pee since Tel Aviv…”

“Get out now…do it on the side of the road!”

She hopped out and did the deed and Chomski dropped the car into drive and took off after the Range Rover as soon as she was buckled in. They followed the Rover onto the A406 to the A10 into central London…

“They’re headed to Embassy Row,” Chomsky sighed a few minutes later. “What the fuck is going on here?”

And indeed the Rover pulled up to the Argentine Embassy on Brook Street and Goodman watched Moloch and Sorensen disappear inside. “I didn’t see that coming,” she grumbled as they watched the Rover disappear. She was pulling out her binoculars when there came a tapping on her window.  She looked up and saw a Constable and had started to roll down her window when she noticed the black Walther in the man’s hand.

The man double-tapped the Israeli agents before he tossed a time delayed grenade inside the car, then he walked off into another dark and rainy night, disappearing in the mist. The deep red sphere overhead followed him for a while, before it too vanished into clouds overhead.

Next up: Intermezzo    Madness and the Desperate Flight of aquaTarkus 

© 2016-22 adrian leverkühn | abw | and as always, thanks for stopping by for a look around the memory warehouse…[but wait, there’s more…how about a word or two on sources: I typically don’t post all a story’s acknowledgments until I’ve finished, if only because I’m not sure how many I’ll need before work is finalized. Yet with current circumstances waiting to list said sources might not be the best way to proceed, and this listing will grow over time – until the story is complete. To begin, the ‘primary source’ material in this case – so far, at least – derives from two seminal Hollywood ‘cop’ films: Dirty Harry and Bullitt. The first Harry film was penned by Harry Julian Fink, R.M. Fink, Dean Riesner, John Milius, Terrence Malick, and Jo Heims. Bullitt came primarily from the author of the screenplay for The Thomas Crown Affair, Alan R Trustman, with help from Harry Kleiner, as well Robert L Fish, whose short story Mute Witness formed the basis of Trustman’s brilliant screenplay. Steve McQueen’s grin was never trade-marked, though perhaps it should have been. John Milius (Red Dawn) penned Magnum Force, and the ‘Briggs’/vigilante storyline derives from characters and plot elements originally found in that rich screenplay, as does the Captain McKay character. The Jennifer Spencer/Threlkis crime family storyline was first introduced in Sudden Impact, screenplay by Joseph Stinson, original story by Earl Smith and Charles Pierce. The Samantha Walker television reporter is found in The Dead Pool, screenplay by Steve Sharon, story by Steve Sharon, Durk Pearson, and Sandy Shaw. I have to credit the Jim Parish, M.D., character first seen in the Vietnam segments to John A. Parrish, M.D., author of the most fascinating account of an American physician’s tour of duty in Vietnam – and as found in his autobiographical 12, 20, and 5: A Doctor’s Year in Vietnam, a book worth noting as one of the most stirring accounts of modern warfare I’ve ever read (think Richard Hooker’s M*A*S*H, only featuring a blazing sense of irony conjoined within a searing non-fiction narrative). Denton Cooley, M.D. founded the Texas Heart Institute, as mentioned. Of course, James Clavell’s Shōgun forms a principle backdrop in later chapters. The teahouse and hotel of spires in Ch. 42 is a product of the imagination; so-sorry. The UH-1Y image used from Pt VI on taken by Jodson Graves. The snippets of lyrics from Lucy in the Sky are publicly available as ‘open-sourced.’ Many of the other figures in this story derive from characters developed within the works cited above, but keep in mind that, as always, the rest of this story is in all other respects a work of fiction woven into a pre-existing cinematic-historical fabric. Using the established characters referenced above, as well as the few new characters I’ve managed to come up with here and there, I hoped to create something new – perhaps a running commentary on the times we’ve shared with these fictional characters? And the standard disclaimer also here applies: the central characters in this tale should not be mistaken for persons living or dead. This was, in other words, just a little walk down a road more or less imagined, and nothing more than that should be inferred. I’d be remiss not to mention Clint Eastwood’s Harry Callahan, and Steve McQueen’s Frank Bullitt. Talk about the roles of a lifetime…and what a gift.]

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