Dark Connections – Episode 3
A Call From Buenos Aires & An Inspector Calls.
“Shocking murder at Station!” trumpeted The Daily News morning edition.The Telegraph & Argus regaled its readers with, “Horrific Homicide at Station” ,whilst the more sedate Post & Courier went with “East Coast strikes set to spread”, and only mentioned the murder on page 5.
Smith gave all the papers a cursory examination and tossed them to one side as he leant back on his bar stool.
“Rough business that’s for sure”,opined Steffano,ever attentive to his customer’s needs and interests,in this case,John Smith’s breakfast.Refilling his cup with some more hot java,the bar owner went about wiping down the already gleaming spotless bar surface.
“Vultures gotta eat too,you know”.
“How come the flatfoots are interested in where you was?”
“Flatfoots gotta eat too,you know!” Steffano laughed at that and with an imperceptible turn of the head indicated sotto voce that one of that aforementioned ilk had just entered his establishment.
“Morning Inspector” half growled Smith chewing on a rasher of bacon.
“And the top of the morning to you too Smith,never figured you for being prescient,how did you know it was me”.
“Old magic trick I learnt called looking into the bar room mirror there”.They got to talking and clearing up some mutual misconceptions,at least that’s the gloss that Smith for his part put on the matter.
“Did I hear your Miss Roberts right,calling you Skip? you were Navy?”
“Oh that,no,no,Army and you?”
“Second Lieutenant,I was at Anzio,you?”
“That Skip? Oh I was a Captain,Normandy straight on into Germany ended up Kiel way. My Company got rescuing a few folks from abandoned cattle wagons, anyhow I got them over to Sweden after commandeering a Nazi E-Boat in the harbour there and so the guys tagged me Skipper”.
Ruyter interrupted the histography,
” Back to this other John Smith,Brannigan’s checking with the phone company about that call you made at the Station Manager’s office”.
Smith nodded nonchalantly and carried on with his breakfast and Ruyter kind of took his own leave,”I’ll be in touch,oh say, you a regular here?”
“Yeah,Steffano was in my Company when we were doing the business in Germany”.
Smith recounted most of this back at the office on the fifth floor to the venerable Miss Roberts who was trying to get a word in edge wise.
“And he seemed curious about me patronising Steffano’s,what do you reckon Toots about that?”
“Well Skip,now that you’ve allowed me to get a word in,I’ve got several..”
“Go ahead,name ’em,I’m listening”.
“Well,the Inspector was out for confirmation, you told him about your War service in which case he’ll get to my late husband the Colonel, which’ll square the circle for him about you.”
Smith thumb-stroked his chin in momentary contemplation.
“And you’ve got a call waiting since you got back which I’m still holding”
“What call,who?why didn’t you tell me sooner instead of letting me gab away”
“It’s Cousin Phil on a secure line”.Smith affected puzzlement,”Which of my erm, Cousin Phils is it?”Smith took the call in his own inner office.
It was Buenos Aires.”Phil” was the erm,Cultural Attache at the Embassy.
He had learned that some rather important Swiss gentlemen had arrived the other day and were making discrete enquiries with prominent Argentine entrepreneurs about certain business opportunities in the States.
“So how come you didn’t make the meeting?”
“You know how they work,cut-outs,double blinds they want to negotiate at arms length with no repercussions.If the stock market got wind of this.Potentially huge South American investors with Swiss financial backing.”
“So what’s next?”
“I’m supposed to wait for them to get in touch”.
“Odd that,from a purely operational perspective,postponing a meeting like that”.
“Say Phil before we say buenos tardes and adios and all that ,presumably those Swiss gentlemen would be of the German speaking variety.” Phil confirmed.
“You know clients of those Banks all got mountains of gold teeth they yanked out at Belsen and elsewhere that need melting down converting to hard currency and that hard currency needs to be invested”.
“Your right Cousin John, that’d be what economists call the virtuous circle”.
Even as John Smith ended the call with his Cousin Phil,across town another phone call was ending.Sergeant Brannigan had just informed Inspector Ruyter that the Phone Company’s records show the number John Smith was given to call the day before from the Station Manager’s office turns out to be the number of Steffano’s Bar&Grill next the station…