Priority #1: Code Name: Marty

Priority #1: Code Name: Marty

by Elaine J. Anderson


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781475966749
Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
Publication date: 01/02/2013
Pages: 114
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.27(d)

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Priority #1

By Elaine J. Anderson

iUniverse, Inc.

Copyright © 2013 Elaine J. Anderson
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4759-6674-9

Chapter One

It was a bone-chilling, gray day. A north wind blew across the cemetery. Three people clad in dark woolen coats peered down into the freshly dug grave. The undertaker made the first move to spread earth on the pine box in the open gravesite. Next, Rosa Arroya took the undertaker's shovel and lifted some of the soft soil, neatly lying by the gravesite, and let it fall gently on the box resting beneath them. Ludwig Schmidt, noticeably upset by the finality of it all, threw some soil onto the box and sobbed, "I'm so sorry."

The body of Karen Sapinsky had been returned from Mexico. She was buried with no honors, no fanfare, and no family members present.

Leaving the gravesite to the undertaker and his crew, Rosa took Ludwig's arm and walked with him toward her car.

"No one should die like that," he whispered, wiping his moist eyes with the back of his hands.

"You're right, Ludwig. The photos of her tortured body sent chills up my spine. Do you know who could do such a thing?"

"Yes, and I will get even. I plan to kill the son of a bitch," he told her with passion and conviction in his voice.

"You do? Do you have reliable sources? How will you get to him?" Rosa, stunned at his language, asked her friend, knowing he had been a German spy, and had many resources.

"The best! Getting to him is my business," he answered as he held the car door for Rosa to slide in behind the wheel. He walked around the car to the passenger's side, and removed his Stetson cowboy hat, glancing back at the backhoe filling in the gravesite. He got into the car, and turned to Rosa.

"Thank you for supporting my request to be here for this day. I needed to go through it for closure to this sad story. I believe I loved her," he told Rosa. "I never meant to get involved with my best friend's lover, but she was so alluring, I was involved before I knew it."

Rosa studied Ludwig's drawn, stressed face and said, "I know that this hasn't been easy for you." She hesitated, and said, "Remember, revenge is a dangerous business."

"Let's drop it. I need to try to enjoy a week's diversion. Are you ready to be my tour guide of Washington?" he said, getting himself composed.

Rosa saw the depth of Ludwig's resolve. It worried her.

"I'm ready, even if it seems odd to begin a holiday at a cemetery," she told him. She drove the car away from the burial site, out of the cemetery, toward the tourist stops on the National Mall and Memorial Parks with the Lincoln Memorial at one end, the Capitol building at the other end, and enough museums in between to keep a tourist busy for a week.

The traffic was light and the sun was beginning to break through the cloud cover on this chilly day.

"I wonder if you could eat a little something for lunch?" she asked him.

"I think that's a great idea. Do you have a place in mind?" he asked.

"I do. It is a small restaurant just off DuPont Circle. Have you ever heard of the Obelisk?" Rosa asked.

"No, but whatever you choose is good for me," he responded as he watched the road and traffic from his window.

Rosa used her voice-activated car phone to call in their reservations.

"Hello. Two for lunch at noon, please." After a short silence, she said, "Reservations for Schmidt."

"Good. They will expect us at noon," she told Ludwig, who nodded his approval.

Rosa glanced at her watch and stepped on the accelerator. They headed for DuPont Circle.

Ludwig smiled a wry smile to himself, feeling a sense of relief for the ordeal that was behind him today, but the story was not over in any stretch of the imagination. He wanted to get even. His sense of loyalty for his deceased lover, and his strong belief in right and wrong was driving him to avenge her death. It had all turned out so wrong. Love had a way of complicating life, he thought. He wondered if he was the only one suffering such emotional pain.

It had been years since Rosa had been to the Obelisk. It brought back memories of Jack Bucco and their cat-and-mouse game so long ago. She had fallen in love with him and his masterful disguises. Rosa remembered that he was Jake Baker when they had dinner at the Obelisk. He was the most charismatic man she had ever met. Her recovery from his death had taken a long time. She felt ready to move on. Still, she was curious to see if the restaurant had the same intimate charm she remembered.

Although the two had each experienced deep emotional losses, they hid their deepest personal feelings of these times from each other.

They arrived at noon in time for their reservation. As they approached the door of the restaurant, Ludwig opened it and held it for Rosa. A friendly young host welcomed them with a slight bow and big smile.

"Do you have reservations?"

"Yes. It is under the name Schmidt," she told him.

The young man checked the register.

"Of course you do, for a table for two. Follow me, please."

They were led into a tiny room with a half-dozen small tables covered with white cloth. He seated them by the only window in the room; its sill covered with assorted types and sizes of leafy plants, and placed a single menu on the table for them to share.

"Jonathan will be your waiter," the host told them, and then swiftly went back to the door to seat more customers.

"I'd forgotten how cozy this place was," Rosa said to Ludwig as she looked over the display of plants and scanned the tiny room for memories.

"Private is another way to describe it," Ludwig responded with a smile as he maneuvered to get his long legs and big feet in place under the table.

"Water?" asked a waiter appearing and holding a pitcher of iced water.

Rosa and Ludwig both nodded yes, and began to read the menu standing before them.

"Do you see anything of interest?" Rosa asked Ludwig. She remembered their meeting in Frankfurt, Germany, and how comfortable they were together. After all, they were both proficient spies. They had that in common.

"I think the Panini with brie and smoked ham sounds good to me," he answered.

"Hmm. That does sound tasty with the apple slices and spicy mustard," Rosa agreed.

"Would you like something to drink?" he asked Rosa.

"I'll have a glass of Riesling."

When Jonathan, the waiter, arrived, Ludwig placed their order.

"Two Panini sandwiches, a glass of Riesling, and a bottle of Bass ale," he said.

The waiter nodded his approval and left. As Rosa and Ludwig sat looking at the collection of plants, her cell phone rang.

"Excuse me. I must take this call from RAID," Rosa told Ludwig.

Rosa left the cramped table and strode through the tangle of diners to get to the entrance. Outside in the light of the restaurant's window, she answered the call.

"Hello, Bud." Rosa saw his name on her phone display. Bud had joined RAID in her Washington office eight years ago. He was a well-built, usually tan, master spy. She trusted him above all others. Barry 'Bud' Black was her RAID partner, top agent, and confidant.

"We have a major case that just came in. It needs your attention right away," he told her in a whisper that oozed concern.

"All of our cases are major. What makes this one any different?" she asked.

"Murder!" he said in a throaty voice. "The case is international in scope with blood everywhere."

"Who is contracting us for this case?"

"The CIA and they want it solved yesterday." He continued, "They want a briefing with us tomorrow morning at ten."

Part of Rosa was intrigued. Another part resented being taken away from her two-day vacation. Checking her watch for the time she had left of her vacation, she spurted out obediently, "I'll be there."

"Great. Meet at Harvester Plain's office at CIA headquarters in D.C. See you tomorrow."

"Bye." Rosa closed her phone, taking a moment to process the call, slipped it into her jacket pocket, and returned to the table and her waiting guest, where Ludwig had been engaged in his own phone call. He quickly put his phone back into his pocket and stood as Rosa returned to the table.

"Work calling?" he asked her.

"Not today. I'm on vacation to show you the sights in D.C., remember?" she said as they settled into the tight quarters for lunch.

The waiter, wearing a crisp white jacket, arrived carrying their lunch order and a glass of wine and a beer. He placed the sandwiches in front of them while balancing the drinks on his small tray. Rosa and Ludwig watched quietly, each aware that it would have been less challenging for the waiter to have placed the drinks down first.

The two made friendly chit-chat as they ate and drank. Rosa and Ludwig had stayed in touch after her initial visit to Frankfurt, Germany, during the Invisibility Formula case, where she had gained his utmost respect. Her Martha Cox disguise and beautiful brown eyes had sparkled their way into his unsuspecting world the day she met him, while he worked undercover selling Mercedes-Benz automobiles. They enjoyed each other's company and, loved the challenge of problem solving, as both were extremely talented spies, but rarely did they venture into spy stories or share crime-solving secrets. Today, in Washington, D.C., was a social day free of intrigue, if that was possible.

Following lunch, the two left the Obelisk and headed for the car.

"Next stop, the nation's Capital building," she told him.

"I've only seen it from the outside," he told her with a hint of excitement in his voice.

"It's been quite a while since I've had free time to visit it myself," she confessed.

Rosa was lucky to find a great parking spot by the National Mall, within walking distance of the Capitol. They got out of the car, Rosa locked it, and they began walking toward the side entrance to the Capitol. Ludwig took Rosa's hand and tucked it under his arm as they walked against the chilly wind. The setting was very impressive, with the reflecting pool strategically placed to show off the majestic Capitol building. Once inside the Capitol building, they wandered through the halls, glancing at the art-work, architecture, and marble-work.

"This building is awesome," Ludwig told Rosa.

"I had forgotten how inspiring a walk through its halls can be. I feel so proud to live in this country," Rosa shared with Ludwig.

Ludwig, focused on other attractions he wanted to see, told Rosa, "I want to go to the National Gallery of Art. They have a special exhibit of Max Beckmann, a German modernist, there," he added.

"Oh, that sounds very interesting. I'm not sure that I know his work," she responded.

As they left the Capitol building, they headed back toward the mall and onto the National Gallery. Ludwig glanced at his watch and stepped up the pace. They had plenty of time, Rosa thought. What was his rush? She wondered.

They arrived at the National Gallery, and Ludwig entered the door to the gallery after Rosa. In the lobby, Ludwig looked at Rosa and said, "I only need about forty minutes to see what I came for."

Rosa felt a sudden 'need to know' reaction and wondered what he meant when he said, 'what I came for'.

"I'll be just a short time. I'll meet you here in the lobby in forty minutes," he told her.

"Is work calling you?" Rosa asked, not understanding the turn of events.

"You could say that," he answered and turned to enter the special exhibit of Max Beckmann.

Rosa watched his back as he entered the special exhibit. She turned and picked up some literature on the exhibit of a German modernist. She noticed that a key piece of his work was on loan for a short time from the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was called 'Self-Portrait with a Glass of Champagne, 1919.'

She decided to follow Ludwig into the packed exhibit. She stayed at a distance, but could see his blond hair under his black Stetson cowboy hat. Standing in front of the Beckmann "self-portrait", Ludwig leaned to his right and began talking with a short, dark-complexioned man in his thirties or forties. The conversation was animated with arms and hands moving as though they were speaking Italian. She reached for her RAID smart pen and began taking pictures of the two. Who was the short guy? Rosa turned her back and quickly returned to the lobby and sent the pictures from the smart pen to RAID for identification. Any time a photo came into the RAID office from an agent, it was analyzed and researched against police files for identity. What was the connection to Ludwig? Was this a pre-planned meeting?

With time left before Ludwig returned, Rosa went to the gift shop to look at the Max Beckmann catalog.

Ludwig arrived in the lobby to join Rosa, who was still in the gift shop. He quickly spotted her looking through a book and went to meet her. It was twenty minutes to five. Rosa smiled at him as he approached.

"Everything okay?" she asked.

"Yes," he answered unconvincingly and somewhat distracted.

She put the book down, indicating that she was ready to leave.

As they exited the museum and reached the sidewalk, Ludwig told Rosa, "I'd like to take you out to dinner tonight. Are you interested?"

Rosa needed more time with Ludwig to sort out what was going on. She hesitated, and then answered, "Yes, I'd enjoy that. Shall I take you back to your hotel to freshen up before dinner?"

"No. I'd rather go somewhere now for drinks, then dinner," he answered.

"Oh. Let me think. Do you have someplace in mind? We're short on beer gardens!" Rosa chided as a bit of unease crept into her thoughts.

"I wonder if you know of any Irish pubs near here?" he asked her.

As they walked in the direction of the parked car, Rosa remembered the Dubliner Pub on F Street about a mile away. She mentioned the idea to Ludwig.

"Perfect, the walk will do us both some good," he suggested.

His pace had slowed, and once again he tucked her hand into the bend in his arm as they made their way to Dubliner's. When they arrived, Ludwig guided Rosa into the pub.

The atmosphere was jovial, and the people friendly and curious as the strangers arrived into their midst. The dim lighting and the mirrored walls gave the impression of a much larger space than existed. The long mahogany bar and small wooden tables tucked here and there added to the ambiance. The floor was covered in dark tiles. A crowd at the bar was singing "My Wild Irish Rose" as Ludwig and Rosa moved to one of the tables by the small stage. A buxom waitress with a thick Irish brogue arrived to take their order. They ordered two beers. The waitress nodded and smiled, showing a partial set of teeth in need of attention as she placed a basket of pretzels in the middle of the table.

"Well, this atmosphere spells vacation," Rosa said over the crowd now singing, "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling."

Ludwig was all smiles. "In its way, it reminds me of home," he answered.

"Seriously, are you working on this holiday of yours?" Rosa asked bluntly.

"Just tying up some loose ends," he answered, looking down to avoid Rosa's eyes.

Rosa let it drop. But her mind was restless.

The cheery Irish waitress arrived with two beers in frosty mugs.

"Prosit!" Rosa toasted and raised her mug to clink with Ludwig's mug.

"Cheers!" he answered and raised his mug to hers.

The next tune about a shillelagh raised the roof with every voice blasting every word.

"Ludwig, what time do you want to eat dinner?" she asked, glancing at her watch, which now said six-thirty.

"Why don't we stay here and enjoy the Irish menu?" he offered.

"Suits me. Why not?" Rosa agreed.

Sitting across from each other, they began to focus on the day they had shared. Rosa was still unsettled about what had transpired in the museum. What loose ends was he tying up?

"I'm still awe-struck by our visit of the Capitol building. The nineteenth-century neoclassical architecture is striking," he told Rosa.

"I needed that visit. It has been some time since I treated myself to being a tourist," added Rosa.

The small talk continued through two more mugs of beer and dinner of corned-beef and cabbage with boiled potatoes. The longer Rosa was with Ludwig, the more she thought of the moments in the museum, the meeting set-up, and the secrecy. His holiday was far from a vacation. He was up to something.

After the third round of "My Wild Irish Rose", they were ready to call it a day.

"I've thoroughly enjoyed this," he told her.

They paid their bill and left the Dubliner. It was a brisk evening walk back to the National Mall, where they had parked the car.

The ride to Ludwig's hotel was uneventful, and the traffic was light. As Rosa pulled the car up to the hotel, Ludwig leaned over and kissed her on the cheek.

"Thank you for an amazing day. Can we meet tomorrow night for dinner?" he asked her.

"Yes," Rosa answered.

"Let me surprise you," he continued. "I'll make the arrangements. I'll set it up for seven. Can you pick me up at six? It is about an hour ride," he told her.

Rosa nodded. "I'll be here at six tomorrow night. You are full of surprises," she cajoled.

Ludwig got out of the car and headed for the hotel entrance. Rosa lingered a moment as Ludwig walked through the hotel front door. "He's a handsome man. He's a mysterious spy," she thought as she drove home.


Excerpted from Priority #1 by Elaine J. Anderson Copyright © 2013 by Elaine J. Anderson. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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