Page 2 of 2 FirstFirst 12
Results 16 to 21 of 21

Thread: Double Crossed

  1. #16
    Registered User DRayVan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Ann Arbor, MI, USA

    Double Crossed

    CHAPTER 15 of 20

    After a light lunch of processed ham, Swiss cheese on rye, and a bottle of beer, Stoner had planned to spend the afternoon resting up for tonight’s adventure—no telling when he’d get home. But he’d barely had time to swallow the last of his brew when the doorbell rang.

    “If this keeps up, I’ll have to replace the door with a turnstile,” he thought.

    Stoner stashed the plate and glass in the sink and the empty bottle in the trashcan. “Hold your horses,” he yelled.

    He didn’t have to open the door to know Hannigan was on the other side: the stench of his cigar had already seeped through the cracks. When Stoner yanked it open, the trio waltzed in as if they lived there.

    Hannigan headed straight for the easy chair and plopped his rotund backside with a groan. The agents drifted to the kitchen area and blended with the wallpaper—the thought jumped into Stoner’s mind, “I didn’t know chameleons were people.”

    “What you want, Hannigan?”

    “What’s with you, Stoner? Just when I was getting used to the idea of working together like pals, you have to go and spoil it. Maybe you should get larger-sized underwear.”

    “Funny, you ain’t, Hannigan. I’m hounded from all sides, and I don’t have enough meat on these bones for everyone to take a bite, so get to the point. I need my afternoon beauty nap.”

    “All right, Stoner. Have it the hard way.”

    Hannigan shifted his weight in the chair, trying to stuff five pounds, of you know what, into a four-pound bucket.

    “So that we’re all on the same page, this is how it’s gonna play: the boys are gonna follow you to the warehouse. I’ll be there, waiting. Then we’ll crash the party as you’re handing them Nazis the blueprints.”

    “Why’d you bust in here to tell me something I already knew, Hannigan. There’s more to it, so give.”

    Hannigan looked at the floor and then slowly raised his head until our eyes met.

    “Hate to break it to you, pal, but the dame ain’t getting off Scot-free.”

    “But you said,” Stoner shouted, moving toward him.

    The agents came at Stoner, but Hannigan waved them off, and they blended with the wallpaper again.

    “That’s how the cookie crumbles, Stoner,” Hannigan said, slowly shaking his head. “Sorry, but I made a promise I couldn’t keep.”

    “You bastard!”

    “She goes down with the rest of them,” he said with a cold, steely look in his eyes.

    “Them? Who’s them?” Stoner waved his arms about and looked one way and then the other frantically.

    “Sometimes, I wonder about you, Stoner,” Hannigan said with a puzzled look. “Didn’t you ever question whose mansion that was? Who were the butler and house staff? Nobody can escape the country without help. Who’s helping them? It’s like a spider’s web of Nazis, or at the least, Nazi sympathizers involved, and we want to catch them all. So the dame’s gotta go down with the whole bunch.”

    “Then I won’t have any part of it,” Stoner said, holding his hands up defiantly.

    Hannigan cocked his head. “Trouble is, Stoner, you’re on that short list of Nazi conspirators. And the question is, will you be a hero or a goat? Every way you cut it, you’re up to your neck in this...” Hannigan pointed his cigar at him. “So you’re gonna havta choose: work with us or against us. Go free or go to jail, and we ain’t playing Monopoly here.”

    Stoner had always used the phrase, between a rock and a hard place, without giving it much thought. For the first time, he understood what it meant. Hannigan was right: he didn’t have a choice. He had to go along, but maybe there was still a chance he could help Anne in the chaos that was bound to happen. So he took a deep breath and slowly exhaled.

    “All right, Hannigan. You got me where it hurts; just don’t squeeze.”

    “See, boys...” Hannigan said, cocking his head toward the kitchen. “Where’d they go?”

    “Over here,” the first agent said, stepping from the shadow—except there weren’t any shadows Stoner could see.

    “See, boys, I said Stoner would come around.”

    “Don’t rub it in, Hannigan. You got me by a thread but only by a thin thread.”

    “Okay, Stoner, here’s the deal: when the blueprints are in that bastard Nazi’s hands, me and the boys will rush in and nab them with the goods—case closed!”

    “What’s your backup?”

    Hannigan raised his eyebrows and glanced toward the agents.

    “Don’t need no backup. We got this one, flat.”

    “And Sid?”

    Hannigan gestured with the nonchalant wave of his hand.

    “Sid doesn’t figure in, a non-player, a non-entity.”

    “Then you don’t know Sid.”

    Stoner couldn’t imagine Hannigan brushing off Sid as if he didn’t exist—that hadn’t been his experience with Theo and Leo. But Hannigan was a big boy, and Sid was his problem; Stoner had enough problems of his own.

    “Well, it’s enough to know that he ain’t gonna give us no trouble,” Hannigan said confidently.

    Hannigan’s overconfidence unnerved Stoner. He always believed in the old saying: once pride got hold of you, your downfall was just around the corner.

    “And how you gonna do that?” Stoner asked.

    Hannigan chomped on his stogie, then huffed and puffed—Little Red Ridinghood would’ve trembled in her shoes.

    “You see about the blueprints,” he growled, pointing his cigar at Stoner’s face, “and we’ll see about Sid.”

    Stoner shrugged. “Arrogance can spell disaster.”

    “Since when you become Sigmund Freud?”

    “Ever read Proverbs? They’d do you some good, Hannigan.”

    Hannigan waged his head and snorted. “Got a beer?”

    “Sure... Got a buck?”

    “That’s highway robbery!” Hannigan said, sliding to the edge of the chair.

    “Gotta pay the rent somehow. Take it or leave it.”

    “Come on, boys. Stoner’s beer’s probably the cheap stuff, anyway.”

    Hannigan wiggled loose and grunted, getting to his feet.

    “Be nice, Hannigan,” Stoner said. “It’s imported...”

    “Imported?” he said; his face lit up like a Christmas tree. “From where?”


    “Stoner, you’re hopeless,” Hannigan said, frowning. He started toward the door and stopped. “Tonight, and don’t be late.”

    Stoner closed the door, hoping that was the last of his afternoon interruptions. The room needed airing out, so he opened the windows to catch a crosswind. The breeze felt so good that he lay on the davenport for a few minutes. Before he realized it, he was fast asleep.

    Someone knocking on his door awakened Stoner from a good snooze. He glanced at his watch: quarter past three. He sat on the edge of the davenport and shook the cobwebs from his brain. Whoever it was, they were persistent: the knocking was non-stop.

    “Don’t break the door down,” Stoner yelled. “Give me a minute.”

    The knocking stopped.

    Stoner opened the door and found a small man, not more than four foot ten, skinny with thin, slicked-down, jet-black hair. He had an Asiatic look to him. His eyes were slits, and he smiled a row of teeth too big for his mouth.

    The man bowed and said with better diction than Stoner, “So sorry to bother you, Mr. Stoner, but I saw some trying to break into your car.”

    Stoner looked past him at his car in the driveway. It was still there, so he turned his attention to his Good Samaritan.

    “What did you see, exactly?”

    “A man checking each door—one after the other.”

    “And you happened to be passing by, Mr... Sorry, I didn’t catch your name.”

    “Toshio... Toshio Okada, Mr. Stoner,” the man said, grinning from ear to ear and bowing.”

    A couple thousand Japanese lived in San Diego County, but none were in Stoner’s or the surrounding neighborhoods, so he was immediately suspicious of Mr. Okada—if that was his real name. What were the chances that Okada had happened to come by just at the right moment? And with all that was going on, he’d reached the point of trusting no one.

    “Thank you, Mr. Okada, but I’ll check his car later.”

    “I wouldn’t want any tragedy to befall you, Mr. Stoner,” Okada said, grinning.

    “What the hell you mean by that?”

    “We’ll be watching to keep you safe.”

    Stoner leaned over him and looked both ways but saw no one.

    “Who’s we?” he asked.

    Okada smiled, bowed, and zipped around the corner, leaving Stoner totally dumbfounded. The rumbling feeling in his gut returned, and he headed for the throne.

    End of Chapter 15
    Last edited by DRayVan; 01-29-2023 at 08:18 AM.

  2. #17
    Registered User DRayVan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Ann Arbor, MI, USA

    Double Crossed

    CHAPTER 16 of 20

    Stoner arrived at his office early and plopped in his chair. When he opened the bottom desk drawer, and the whiskey bottle wasn’t there, he remembered he’d drained it the day before yesterday. Just as well. He needed a level, unclouded head on his shoulders for tonight. So he leaned back, put his feet on the desk, and stared at the ceiling.

    His mind raced, trying to figure out how all the pieces would come together: Hannigan, the FBI, Sid, Theo, Leo, Reggie, Anne, and whoever that Okada guy was. All he needed was a marching band, and he’d have a respectable parade.

    The .38 Colt Banker’s Special in the office safe was coming with him tonight—just in case. Stoner didn’t usually carry, but knowing some iron was in his pocket would help offset any lingering insecurity about the heist and the odd cast of characters.

    Stoner glanced at his wristwatch: the hands ticked in slow-motion. His eye twitched, and his foot tapped to a musical beat of its own. He couldn’t stand the suspense any longer, so he got to his feet and paced until seven, then he closed up shop and went down to the sidewalk for a smoke or two.

    Anne and Reggie arrived in a black 1940 Ford Sedan Delivery at seven-forty-five on the button and pulled to a stop alongside the curb. They both wore snug-fitting all-black outfits with matching watch caps.

    Reggie slid to the middle, next to Anne, and Stoner opened the door. Even without makeup and hair stuffed in her cap Anne looked as beautiful as ever when the dome light came on.

    “Close your mouth, Jack, and hop in,” Reggie said with a smile.

    Anne kept her eyes looking forward. Stoner joined them and closed the door. The latched had barely engaged when Anne floored the gas pedal, and they zoomed down the street and zipped around the corner at Twenty-Eighth and again onto Main. Reggie slammed against him at each turn, and he against the door.

    “Little heavy with the foot, are we, Anne?” Reggie asked.

    Anne ignored him and burned rubber taking off from the Twenty-Ninth Street stop light. Thirty minutes later, they drove into the lot of Café La Mesa and parked in the shadows.

    “Another change up, Jack,” Reggie said.

    “What now?”

    “Culver’s will be staying for dinner.”

    “Not the usual carry-out, then.”

    “No, but you’ll order pie and coffee to go and leave as soon as your order is ready.”

    “What about Culver?” Stoner asked. “And his driver?”

    “I’ll handle Culver as planned, and his driver won’t think anything’s unusual.”

    “I dunno,” Stoner said, shaking his head.

    “You’ll be fine, Jack, just fine.”

    Stoner’s confidence wasn’t on the same par as Reggie’s, and his anxieties were causing rumblings in his gut again.

    “Bring a gun?” Reggie asked.

    “Uh... Sure, I got one,” Stoner said nervously. “Shouldn’t need it, though.”

    “Don’t bet on it,” Anne said. “Just be careful, Jack, and don’t use it unless you have to.”

    “Finally, Anne,” Reggie said. “Thought you might go the whole evening without so much as one word.”

    “Don’t rag on me, Reggie. I’m not in the mood. Let’s get this job done and move on.”

    “Job? Move on?” Stoner asked. “What’s she talking about, Reggie?”

    “Nothing. Nothing at all, Jack,” Reggie said to him, then he turned to Anne. “Isn’t that right? Well... Isn’t it, Anne?”

    Anne leaned her head on the top of the steering wheel and gripped its sides with both hands. After a few tense moments, she said, “Yes... But...”

    She slowly lifted her head a looked at Stoner, and when their eyes met, he knew much had been left unsaid that needed to be said. Reggie glanced at her and then at him.

    “I’m getting into position, and while I’m gone, would you two settle whatever’s going on between you? There’s too much riding tonight for you not to have your heads in the game.”

    Stoner opened the door and got out so that Reggie could. He started to walk away but stopped and looked back.

    “Don’t screw this up,” Reggie said, fading into the darkness.

    Before Stoner responded, Anne said, “Get in, Jack. We have to talk.”

    It was a familiar phrase he’d heard often from his ex, which usually led to a battle of words, so Stoner reluctantly got back in the sedan and closed the door.

    “Don’t sugarcoat it, Anne. Just give it to me straight.”

    “I haven’t the foggiest what you’re talking about. All I wanted to do was explain what I said about this being a job and about me moving on.”

    Stoner sat there, looking at her with a sheepish expression on his face and without uttering a word—experience with his ex had taught him this was the best posture.

    “I have responsibilities: my father’s business and national security. And when this job is done, I’ll move on and return to keeping his dreams alive. So whatever transpired between us, whatever spark was there, must be viewed through a lens of reality: I’m an heiress, you’re a private dick, and never the twain shall meet.”

    Her words stabbed him right where it hurt the worst, but she was right. They were from two different worlds, and Stoner was dreaming if he thought the gulf between them could ever be crossed.

    “How will I know when Culver arrives?” Stoner asked as nonchalantly as he could fake.

    “Uh... His car will have Wicker Technologies pained on the doors.”

    Stoner got a pack of cigarettes out of his coat pocket and leaned back against the door, her words still stinging as much as ever.

    “Wanna smoke?”

    She held her two fingers in a V-shape, so he lit her one, pressed it to her lips, and then lit one for himself. They rolled down the windows and smoked in silence.

    Stoner checked his wristwatch: eight-thirty-five.

    “He’s late,” he said.


    “What if he doesn’t show?”

    “He will, Jack. Trust me, he will.”

    “How can you so all fire sure?”

    Before she answered, a late-model, four-door sedan with Wicker Technologies printed on the front doors parked in a secluded spot opposite them. Another late-model, unmarked sedan pulled in behind it and stopped. A few moments later, a man got out of the back of the first sedan, said something to the driver, and closed the door. He walked over to the second sedan, spoke to its driver, and headed to the diner’s entrance.

    “What’d I tell ya?” Anne said, smiling.

    “He’s wearing a short-sleeved shirt, no coat, and no hat,” Stoner said anxiously.


    “Mine’s long-sleeved.”

    “If his driver’s a typical man,” Anne said, chuckling, “he won’t have the foggiest idea what Culver’s wearing, so roll yours up.”

    Stoner slipped off his coat, rolled up his sleeves, and put his coat back on. Then, got out of the vehicle, closed the door, and stopped by Anne’s open window.

    “Anne, I—”

    “Your hat.”

    “Oh... Right.” Stoner handed her his fedora. “Treat it gently; it’s the only one I’ve got.”

    Anne took it and put it on the seat beside her. Then she grabbed Stoner’s necktie, pulled him close, and kissed him on his lips before he could react.

    “Ditch the tie and be careful, Jack.”

    Anne’s kiss surprised him, and Stoner stumbled backward. He hesitated for a few moments, handed her his tie, and started for the diner, coat slung over his arm.

    “Wear the coat,” Anne said, “and leave it in the diner.”

    Stoner stopped and looked back, still surprised by her kiss. Anne smiled. A warm feeling and a sense of calmness came over him when he saw her. Once he’d put his coat on, Stoner walked to the diner, floating a few inches above the ground, and went inside.

    End of Chapter 16

  3. #18
    Registered User DRayVan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Ann Arbor, MI, USA

    Double Crossed

    CHAPTER 17 of 20

    The diner was moderately busy: several booths were taken, and the counter had only three vacant stools. Waitresses scurried between customers and the kitchen window, taking orders and delivering food. A surly-looking, gray-haired woman worked the register.

    “What’ll it be, mister?” the cashier asked with a gravelly voice that would’ve startled Bela Lugosi.

    “Uh... Piece of pie and a cup of joe to go.”

    “What kind? We got apple, peach, pumpkin, custard, and—”

    “Apple. Small coffee, black.”

    “That’ll be fifteen cents.”

    Stoner fished through his pockets and found two dimes.

    “Keep the change,” he said nervously.

    “Diamond Jim Brady in the flesh,” the cashier said, taking the dimes and dropping them in the till. “Give us ten, fifteen.”

    Stoner nodded, stepped out of the way, and stood near the entrance. He glanced to see if anyone was watching and casually hung his coat on the rack.

    His gun clunked against the rack’s metal frame.

    He froze.

    “Damn,” Stoner said under his breath. “How could I forget about his gun?”

    But Stoner did, and he was in a real pickle. A blast of adrenaline had his heart pounding like a jackhammer while beads of sweat trickled down his temples. He licked his dry lips with a tongue as coarse as sandpaper. After several deep breaths, his heart rate eased a bit, and he casually transferred the gun to his pants pocket, keeping his movements hidden under his coat.

    Once Stoner felt the gun’s weight in his pocket, he glanced around the diner and spied Culver sitting in the last booth—at least it was a man who fit Culver’s description, wearing a short-sleeve shirt. A waitress was taking his order. Someone with his back to him sat opposite him, wearing a black shirt and a watch cap.

    Stoner thought, “That couldn’t be, could it?”

    “Your takeout’s ready, Diamond Jim.”

    Stoner nodded and approached the cashier, but a customer stepped between them to pay his bill. Stoner’s right leg started quivering, and a wave of goosebumps shot up his back and shoulders. He shifted his weight, hoping his leg would settle, but the longer it took for the customer to pay his bill, the more it quivered.

    They finally finished their transaction, and Stoner’s goosebumps dwindled. The cashier grabbed a paper sack off the counter and handed it to him.

    “Apple. Coffee. Black,” she growled.

    “Right... Uh... Thanks.”

    Stoner took the sack and glanced in Culver’s direction again, and he and the other man were leaving by the backdoor exit. Anne was coming in when Stoner turned to exit, and they approached without recognition, but he stopped by his coat and discreetly thumbed toward it. She blinked, and Stoner left the diner. Moments later, she followed, his coat draped over her arm.

    He stopped a few feet from the entrance, lit a smoke, took a puff, and gave it a pitch. Then Stoner trudged toward Culver’s sedan, hoping Theo and Leo would recognize him without his coat and fedora. With each step, his feet felt heavier and heavier, like he wore lead-lined shoes.

    When Stoner reached the car, the driver hopped out and opened the door for him.

    “Ready to go, Dr. Culver?”

    His heart skipped a beat, and Stoner hesitated.

    The driver whispered, “For heaven’s sake, Stoner, get in the car!”

    Stoner was astonished that the driver had called him by name but slid into the back seat. The driver closed the door, got behind the steering wheel, and closed his door.

    “What’s going on?” Stoner asked. “How’d you know my name?”

    “Later, we gotta move.”

    The driver started the engine, and we drove onto La Mesa Boulevard.

    “Tell me quick,” Stoner said. “I’m packing.”

    “You won’t need that.”

    While they rode along, the driver introduced himself as FBI Field Agent Tom Walker from the LA Office. He told Stoner his assignment was to drive him straight to the warehouse.

    “Won’t work,” Stoner said, shaking his head. “Too many eyes on us.”


    “For one, a local, small-time crook has two of his musclemen tailing me, a Nazi or two following them, and then you guys right behind them—a regular caravan.”

    “Wasn’t told about the muscle. Any ideas?”

    “Yeah. Up ahead is a secluded stretch of road. Pull over, get out, and we’ll playact for our audience.”

    “I can’t let you out of my sight—orders.”

    “I’ll escort you to the passenger side and fake conking you. Drop to the ground and crawl into the back seat when I transfer the blueprints to the front. Then I’ll drive to the warehouse.”

    “Just make sure you fake it,” Walker said with a chuckle.

    A few minutes later, they were nearing the spot.

    “Just around the next curve,” Stoner said.

    They glided to a stop alongside the road and got out. Once on the passenger side, they faked the mugging for their audience. As planned, Walker crawled into the backseat when Stoner transferred the blueprints. Once behind the wheel, he eased onto the highway and glanced in the rearview mirror. Headlights at the curve were keeping pace with them.

    “We got company,” Stoner said.

    “Who?” asked Walker.

    “Dunno. Probably Theo and Leo.”

    “Your bookie’s men?”

    “The Goliath Twins, shoulder to shoulder muscle, but hollow between the ears.”

    Walker chuckled. “You keep strange company.”

    “If you only knew... What you know about this caper?”

    “Only that I’m to watch your six.”

    “Good ole Hannigan.”

    “Who’s Hannigan?”

    “So you never heard of him?”

    “No, but not unusual. Field agents are sometimes no better informed than frontline doughboys.”

    “Who’s your general?”

    “Special Agent Reginald Houser of the LA Office.”


    “Yeah, but he hates it,” Walker said. “Goes by Reg or Reggie, but never call him Reginald.”

    “I know a Reginald Pinehurst,” Stoner said. “Ever heard of him?”

    “No, but two Reginalds... What are the odds?”

    “We’re almost there,” Stoner said. “What’s the plan?”

    “Park in the shadows, and I’ll slip out while you get the blueprints.”

    “And then?”

    “Don’t worry. We’ll be watching your every move.”

    Stoner glanced in the rearview mirror, and two sets of headlights followed them. Occasionally, a third set flashed into view. True to his word, Sid had Theo and Leo in one, Anne must be in another, and the agents must be in the third. Stoner could clearly spot his tails, and it amazed him that the first two didn’t realize they were being followed as well and did nothing about it—a four-year-old would’ve, but Theo and Leo weren’t the sharpest tacks on the bulletin board.

    They reached the warehouse, and Stoner found a parking place in a secluded spot away from the streetlamp. So Walker could exit unnoticed, Stoner got out, went to the passenger side, and gathered the blueprints. Walker carefully opened his door, crawled out, and they closed their doors together. Then Walker disappeared into the shadows.

    End of Chapter 17

  4. #19
    Registered User DRayVan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Ann Arbor, MI, USA

    Double Crossed

    CHAPTER 18 of 20

    Stoner tucked the blueprints under his arm and headed for the side door. In the distance, the sound of car doors closing was unmistakable. He listened for a few moments more and stepped inside.

    The building was open, at least two stories high, dark and musty smelling. Boxes were stacked in rows with aisles wide enough for a front lift. The high-hanging night lighting was barely adequate, and the shadows were dark enough to hide an army between the rows. The scuffing of his shoes on the smooth cement floor was the only sound.

    Ten yards in, the rows took a sharp turn right and opened into a staging area in front of story-and-a-half-high roll-up doors. An overhead light fixture lit the space. In the middle, a man sat at a table, and Reggie and Anne stood on either side of him.

    “I knew you could pull this off, Jack,” Reggie said. “Well done.”

    “Is this Culver?” Stoner asked.

    “Uh... Yes, it is, as a matter of fact.”

    “So we’re into kidnapping, too?”

    He’d been dragged deeper into this quagmire. Reggie had upped the ante with a kidnapping charge, and if Hannigan wouldn’t square his part in this melodrama, Stoner could spend his days making little rocks out of big ones—if he was lucky.

    “The blueprints have to be authenticated,” Anne said. “Only he can do it.”

    “Put them here,” Reggie said, pointing to the table. “We don’t have much time to spare.”

    “Where you going in such an all-fired hurry?” Stoner asked, moving toward the shadows. The hatred of helping the Nazis welled up inside him with each step.

    “To hell with the money!” Stoner thought. “Hannigan said there’d be no payoff anyway. “

    Stoner turned to leave.

    “I wouldn’t do that, Jack,” Reggie said.

    Stoner kept walking. The worst Reggie could do was shoot him in the back, but at least he’d die with some self-respect; heaven knew he had precious little left.

    “If you value Anne’s life,” Reggie added.

    Stoner stopped dead in his tracks and spun around. Reggie was pointing a gun at Anne. Reggie had him by the cullions, and he knew it.

    “Easy with that, Reggie,” Stoner said, shuffling toward him. “You can have them; just let her go.” He plopped the blueprints on the table. “And good riddance.”

    “He wasn’t going to hurt me,” Anne said with a chuckle, “and you fell for it.”

    His gut rumbled, and Stoner imagined ‘SUCKER’ in big block letters stamped on his forehead.

    “Sensible thing to do, Jack. No need for any unnecessary violence.”

    Hannigan stepped from the shadows, chewing on a stogie and waving his gun. “Couldn’t’ve said it better, myself. Now, drop your gun, Reggie, or whatever your real name is.”

    Reggie lowered his gun and laid it on the table.

    “Now back away,” Hannigan said, lumbering closer. “You, too, Culver.”

    Culver got up and joined them.

    “‘Bout time you got here, Hannigan,” Stoner said. “I’d given up hope you’d find the place.”

    “Me and the boys knew about this place all along.”

    “Where are they anyway?” Stoner asked, looking around. “Don’t we need more help?”

    “Don’t worry, Stoner. They’re here.”

    Hannigan yelled, “Hans. Fritz. Come out where we can see ya.”

    As always, they appeared out of nowhere—the Invisible Man could take lessons from them.

    “Hans? Fritz?” Stoner asked, stepping forward.

    “Stay put, Stoner.”

    “Wasn’t the plan to—”

    “Plans have changed, Stoner.” Hannigan waved his gun toward Anne. “Bring me the prints, little lady.”

    “What gives, Hannigan?” Stoner asked.

    “Never ya mind, Stoner,” Hannigan said, chomping on his stogie. “I said to bring ‘em here, girly, and be quick about it.”

    Anne gathered up the blueprints. “Trader!” she said, handing them over.

    “I love it when women talk dirty,” Hannigan said, taking the prints.

    “What the hell’s going on?” Stoner shouted.

    “Tell him, Hannigan,” Reggie said, “or I will.”

    “Okay, wiseguy,” Hannigan said. “Ya seemed to have all the answers, so go ahead and tell him.”

    Reggie pointed to Hans and Fritz.

    “They’re the von Weber brothers, SS officers in Germany’s Schutzstaffel,” Reggie said. Then he waved his hand toward Hannigan. “And your friend is a modern-day Benedict Arnold and quite willing to stab his country in the back. And for what? For ideology—hell, no... He couldn’t care less about that—am I right, Hannigan?”

    Hannigan snorted.

    “For thirty pieces of silver,” Reggie continued. “For cold cash... That’s why he’s doing it.”

    “That was Judas,” Hannigan said, chewing his cigar, “And there's a lot more than thirty pieces in my share—a lot more.”

    “You’re a son of a *****, Hannigan,” Stoner said. “You played me.”

    “That’s all, Stoner? Where’s the wisecrack, the comeback yer so good at?” Hannigan asked with a chuckle. “Cat got yer tongue? Brain stuck in reverse?”

    He turned to Hans and Fritz.

    “Take the blueprints... And the girl for insurance. Now move it!” Hannigan barked. “We got a plane to catch.”

    Fritz grabbed Anne’s arm and dragged her toward the shadows.

    “Anne,” Stoner yelled and started after them, but Stoner passed too close to Hannigan, and he clipped him alongside the head with his gun barrel. Stoner saw stars when the floor jumped up and slammed his chin.

    Hans rolled up the blueprints and followed after Fritz. Before they’d gotten far, Theo and Leo joined the party, weapons at the ready, with Sid standing between them.

    “Not so fast,” Theo growled. He motioned to Hans and Fritz. “Get back over here.”

    “Yeah. Over here,” Leo echoed, his gun pointed at Hannigan.

    Hans and Fritz stopped dead and turned to face them.

    “Bring them papers to me,” Sid said, extending his hand.

    Before anyone moved, Agent Walker yelled from a row of boxes. “FBI. Drop your weapons. We got you covered.”

    Hannigan spun around and fired toward Walker’s voice. Hans crouched, drew his weapon, and shot out the overhead light, plunging the area into semi-darkness. Fritz backed Anne against a row of crates and held a gun on her.

    Stoner dove for cover.

    Theo and Leo stood back-to-back, indiscriminately shooting while Sid crouched near a row of boxes.

    “Theo. Get the prints,” Sid yelled.

    Reggie grabbed his gun off the table and fired at Hannigan’s and Theo’s silhouettes but missed. Hannigan aimed in Reggie’s direction and sent a round whizzing toward him. It hit Culver in the shoulder instead, and he went down. Stoner shot at Hans’ contour, missing but splintering the crate above his head. Hans shot back; fortunately, his aim was no better than Stoner’s.

    Walker fired at Hannigan, hitting him in his hand, and his gun flew across the floor, skidding to a stop in front of Stoner. He grabbed and pocketed it. In the dimness, more gunshots rang out. Whizzing bullets flew above Stoner’s head and struck the wooden crates behind him.

    Then as quickly as the fireworks erupted, they ended, and Hannigan, Hans, Fritz, and Anne were gone. Blending in the background was an art form for Hans and Fritz, but how that fat man managed it was beyond Stoner.

    When the smoke cleared, Theo and Leo were kneeling next to Sid’s body, sobbing like babies—Sid had caught one square in the chest. Stoner stared at them for a few moments; he couldn’t get over that those two apes would show anything resembling genuine human emotions.

    While Reggie reloaded, Walker and four other men emerged from the shadows.

    “How’d they escape!” Reggie said. “We had them surrounded.”

    “Didn’t figure in these bozos, Chief,” Walker said, pointing to Theo, Leo, and Sid.

    “I screwed the pooch on this one, Tom,” Reggie said, “but it’ll be all our heads if they get away.”

    “And they took Anne,” Stoner said.

    “Don’t remind me, Jack,” Reggie said. “It’ll be difficult enough keeping a clear head without constantly thinking about Anne.”

    “Airport,” Walker said. “They’re catching a plane, but which airport?”

    “Gotta be a small, out-of-the-way airport,” Reggie said. “Get a map!”

    “Nichol’s Field,” Stoner said. “Heck of a place for an airport, damn smack between two mountains. Very secluded, ten minutes from the nearest settlement, and that’s only a four-way-stop town. Maybe thirty minutes from here, but I could make it less.”

    “That’s our best bet,” Reggie said.

    “What if he’s wrong, Chief?” Walker asked.

    “Then we’ll be lucky to get jobs—anywhere.”

    Reggie pointed at two agents. “Clean up this mess. The rest of us, let’s move it, or they’ll be airborne before we leave the city limits.”

    They piled into two sedans: Walker and two agents in one and Reggie and Stoner in the other, leading the way to Otay Lake Road south of Jamul. Stoner stomped the accelerator to the floorboard and kept it there whenever possible to make up for lost time. Fifteen minutes later and less than ten minutes from the airfield, they careened along the twisty lakeside road, kicking up gravel at each curve.

    End of Chapter 18

  5. #20
    Registered User DRayVan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Ann Arbor, MI, USA

    Double Crossed

    CHAPTER 19 of 20

    The moon had passed its full phase, but it was still shining bright enough to read a newspaper, and when they approached the last bend in the road, the airport was clearly visible to their right: a one-story building, a few sundry shed-like structures, two hangars, and a tower. A single-engine high-winged monoplane was parked on the tarmac near the first hangar.

    Stoner killed the headlights and slowed the vehicle to a crawl. Walker followed close behind.

    “Pull over there,” Reggie said, pointing to a brush-covered mound between the airport and them.

    Stoner eased the car to a stop, and Walker parked behind. They got out and crawled through the underbrush until they had an unobstructed view. Straight ahead were the tarmac and the plane. The hangars were aligned on their left, while the other buildings and the tower were on their right.

    A crewman was topping off the fuel tanks while Hannigan’s unmistakable silhouette paced nearby, wildly waving his arms and spewing a litany of vintage-Hannigan cusswords, which occasionally drifted Stoner’s way. One Nazi, probably Hans, was stashing the blueprints behind the pilot's seat, and the other guarded Anne near the tower’s base.

    The direct approach had no significant vegetation for concealment. Low-growing bushes dotted the otherwise open ground to the left, and on the right, a few small trees were scattered haphazardly to the driveway. Beyond that was an empty parking lot to the buildings.

    “What’s the plan, Chief?” Walker asked.

    “As much as I want those SOBs, Anne’s safety comes first. What firepower we got?”

    “Handguns and scatterguns,” Walker said.


    “Sorry, Chief.”

    “Damn,” Reggie said. Then he pointed. “Take your men, Tom, work your way to the hangars, come up behind the plane, and take those three. Stoner and I will go in from the tower side and get the other one.”

    “But what about Anne?” Stoner asked, grabbing Reggie’s arm.

    “Once the shooting starts, she’ll know what to do.”

    “Want a scattergun, Chief?”

    “No. Can’t risk hitting Anne. Use them on that plane. Do whatever you have to do to keep it on the ground!”

    “Right, Chief.”

    Walker motioned to his men, and they circled left, crawling from bush to bush, closing in on the hangars. Meanwhile, Reggie and Stoner scurried from tree to tree, advancing toward the driveway.

    They reached the last growth of trees before the open parking lot when someone atop the tower yelled, “Hans! Wir haben Gesellschaft!” An automatic rifle’s distinctive rat-ta-ta rained bullets on Waker and his men, pinning them down.

    The gunman hadn’t seen them, so Reggie and Stoner dashed across the parking lot to the main building. They quickly approached the tower where Fritz and Anne were. Once the shooter was in range, Reggie aimed and fired two quick rounds.

    The man slumped on the railing. His rifle slipped from his grip and tumbled to the ground, smashing on the tarmac’s hard surface.

    “Damn,” Reggie said.

    Fritz turned and fired but missed wide. Hans shouted to him and slid into the pilot’s seat. Fritz grabbed Anne’s arm and started toward the craft with her in tow. Reggie trained his weapon on Fritz, but Anne blocked a clear shot. After a few strides, she dropped to the tarmac and wrenched herself free.

    Fritz spun around and aimed his weapon at Anne. Before he could squeeze the trigger, Reggie fired his gun, hitting Fritz in the shoulder. The impact knocked Fritz off his feet. In the confusion, Anne ran to the tower and hunkered down.

    Reggie fired until his gun was empty but missed. Fritz scrambled to his feet and scurried to the plane. Fritz was out of Stoner’s range but fired a few shots anyway, hoping he’d get lucky. Again, luck turned a blind eye toward him.

    Hans revved the plane’s engine, getting ready to taxi. Hannigan tried but couldn’t climb the ladder: its first step was too high, and he was too obese to pull himself up. Fritz reached the plane, pushed Hannigan aside, and climbed aboard.

    The plane’s engine roared. The craft slowly taxied down the tarmac toward the runway.

    Hannigan ran alongside, banging on the fuselage. He grabbed hold of the ladder and kept pace for a while. He tripped, and the plane dragged him along.

    Fritz opened the door and yelled, “Let go, you stupid man! Let go!”

    But Hannigan held on for dear life. Fritz pulled his weapon and pumped three quick rounds into him. He fell and rolled face-down on the tarmac.

    The plane moved on, gaining speed.

    Reggie emptied his reloaded weapon at the plane without any apparent effect. Walker and his men arrived and fired their scatterguns at the craft, but it was out of range.

    Then Stoner remembered Hannigan’s .45 he’d stuffed in his pocket and started running flat-out toward the runway. By the time he was halfway there, the plane had taxied to the runway’s end, turned, and started coming toward him. His heart felt like it would explode, but he kept running.

    The craft was gaining speed, starting to lift off, and getting closer and closer. So Stoner stopped, knelt to steady his arm, and took aim. And while it zoomed toward and in front of him, he fired at its engine and kept it up until he’d emptied Hannigan’s weapon. The plane thumbed its nose at him as it roared by and steadily climbed into the moonlit sky.

    Stoner staggered back to the hangar as the plane’s roar faded in the distance. When he reached the hangar, he couldn’t hear it anymore above the ringing in his ears. When Anne saw him, she hurried to his side.

    “You okay, Jack?”

    “I’d feel better if I’d stopped them.”

    “At least you’re safe.”

    “I thought I’d die when Fritz kidnapped you.”


    “Really... And—”

    Before Stoner could say anything more, Anne put her arms around his neck and kissed him—He kissed her right back.

    “What about all you said in the delivery sedan?”

    “I was lying... I’m not an heiress. I’m a—”

    “Shut up, and kiss me again.”

    They strolled, arm-in-arm, to the others.

    The two agents had the crewman in custody nearby. Hannigan lay on the tarmac less than twenty yards from where the plane had been parked. Reggie knelt beside him while Walker looked on.

    “Is he?” Stoner asked, already knowing the answer.

    “Gasping for air now and then,” Reggie said. “But it’s just a matter of time.”

    “Always hassled him, but I hate to see him end this way.”

    “He sold his country out, Stoner,” Reggie said, “so I won’t be shedding any tears over him.”


    “Isn’t that a plane?” one of the agents yelled.

    “Where?” Walker asked.

    “Toward the ocean.”

    Reggie stood, and they all looked westward.

    “I don’t hear anything,” Stoner said, cupping his hand on his best ear—still ringing.

    “Its engine is sputtering,” Walker said.

    “And it has a yellowish glow,” Anne said, pointing.

    Soon, it was close enough that Stoner heard the straining engine and saw the flaming light coming from its front. Before long, they could see that it was in serious trouble: on fire and losing altitude fast.

    It descended sharply, trying to land, but before reaching the runway, it plowed into the ground and exploded in an enormous fireball.

    They stood there, mouths gaping, not moving a muscle. The shock of the crash and explosion must have stunned them, for they spoke ramblingly nonsense for a minute or two.

    Then Walker asked, “Think that was Hans and Fritz?”

    His question seemed to snap them out of their stupor, and they swapped “wows,” “did-you-see-that’s,” and “holy-craps” until they regained their senses.

    Reggie slapped Stoner on his back. “Ole Jack must’ve hit their engine when they flew by.” He turned to the agents holding the crewman. “Escort him to the car and radio in for backup. We’ll need help cleaning up this mess.”

    Before the agents reached the cars, the wail of sirens could be heard coming toward the airport. The local firefighters were Johnny-on-the-spot, and the newspaper reporters smelled a story before the first whiff of burning aviation fuel made it out of the valley.

    “You need us, Reggie?” Stoner asked, not wanting any part of the circus about to descend upon the site.

    Reggie glanced at them, holding hands, and smiled. “No... I guess not. Go by the cars, and you can take her home as soon as backup arrives.”

    End of Chapter 19

  6. #21
    Registered User DRayVan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Ann Arbor, MI, USA

    Double Crossed

    CHAPTER 20 of 20 - EPILOGUE

    December 7, 1941, 6:45 am
    Honolulu, Hawaii

    The sunrise from the honeymoon suite’s patio overlooking Māmala Bay was not as spectacular as last night’s sunset, but Stoner would take it any day of the week. Anne was still sound asleep, but he needed a smoke and a cup of joe. So he pulled up a deckchair and plopped in it to enjoy the tranquility of the calm waters, the wakes of seabound fishing boats lapping on the shore, the seagulls’ squawking—yeah, even the seagulls—and the patter of the occasional jogger on the beach.

    This past year had been a whirlwind, and he’d changed a lot. He’d tried toning down his wisecracking—Anne disapproved—and keeping them more humorous than cynical. He’d made some progress thanks to Anne, but it’d been a struggle.

    Last year’s events and players were so convoluted that Stoner needed a scorecard to keep them straight. There were those two apes, Theo and Leo, and of course, Sid—how could he overlook Sid?

    Theo was spending time in a federal pen somewhere, crushing rocks into fine-grained sand with his bare hands. Five minutes after the prison docs interviewed Leo, he got a nice padded cell in a land far, far away. And Sid... Well, you could’ve held his funeral in a phone booth for the paltry number of mourners that attended and still had room for his casket. Sid’s operation fell apart when he died. Seems he kept all his business dealings in that scrawny, little head of his, and when he was blotted out, so were everyone’s debts, including Stoner’s.

    Special FBI Agent Reginald Houser, Reggie, was promoted to heaven knows what the last Stoner heard, mainly for eliminating the nest of Nazi spies—he deserved it. He apologized for keeping Stoner in the dark throughout the operation. Reggie thought he carried too much “baggage” with the likes of Sid and Hannigan to tell him much. Stoner’s still waiting for the thousand-dollar bonus Reggie promised, but you know how government red tape works—maybe his grandkids will see it.

    Speaking of Hannigan—at times, Stoner hated his guts for the way he pleasured in tormenting him and how he double-crossed him, but you can get used to anything. Stoner, instead, would've chosen prison for him over his cold-blooded killing. Once the word got out that he had betrayed his country, you could’ve fired a cannon at his funeral and not hit anyone. Hans and Fritz, or what was left of them, were shipped back to Germany in a shoebox marked “Return to Sender.”

    Anne Müller, now Anne Stoner, had a fledgling detective agency in LA. She was tapped for the operation because J. Edger had systematically eliminated females from the FBI, and they needed a young, beautiful woman to pose as the heiress of the Brewer fortune. And, brother, did she fit the bill!

    Once the news story broke and mentioned their names and agencies, their phones rang off the hook. Anne and Stoner hired extra staff to handle the incoming casework. He paid all his outstanding bills in short order and was back in the good graces of his favorite watering hole.

    Althewhile, Stoner kept seeing Anne as often as he could, and after a few months, he popped the question, and she said, “Why not?” Some suggested theirs was a May-December matchup. He pointed out it was closer to June-September, and if they didn’t like it, they could lump it.

    They figured it was a matter of time before Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war on Germany, and they weren’t getting any younger, so they tied the second knot for each of them two days ago and hopped a flight to Hawaii for some much-needed rest... Oh, yes... And a honeymoon.

    The only person on his scorecard that nobody seemed to know anything about was that strange little visitor Stoner had, Toshio Okada, telling him of an attempted burglary of his car—He checked it out later and found nothing suspicious. Reggie had never heard of him, and neither had Anne.

    Stoner didn’t know if he was part of Sid’s organization, but he doubted it. Sid loved Chinese food, but he had no love for the Chinese people and wouldn’t hire one. Anyway, he’d bet that Okada guy was Japanese, but the word was they all looked the same to Sid. And Stoner wasn’t about to pay Theo or Leo a visit anytime soon to ask them, so that was a dead end. Maybe Hannigan knew him... And he wasn’t talking. Bottom line: Toshio Okada was and will be the mystery man of the hour.

    Stoner had finished his trip down memory lane when Anne opened the patio door. She wore her bathing suit and had a towel draped over her arm.

    “Wanna quick swim before breakfast?”

    He glanced at the temperature gauge on the side of their unit. It read seventy.

    “What time’s breakfast?” Stoner asked.

    “We can swim till seven-thirty and catch a bite by eight.”

    Stoner glanced at his wristwatch: seven-ten.

    “I’ll catch up,” he said and headed to the door. When they met mid-patio, they stopped and kissed.

    “Uh... Do you really want that swim?” he asked, holding her tight.

    “Not anymore.”

    Stoner took Anne’s hand, and they returned to the privacy of their suite.


    Afterward, they lay in bed, staring at the ceiling fan’s rotating blades.

    “You’re too good to me,” Stoner said.

    Anne turned and propped her head with her hand.

    “What you mean, Jack?”

    “I don’t deserve you.”


    “One look at us, side by side in the mirror, and... Well... I’m trying to say that I’m the luckiest guy in the world.”

    “You’re too sweet.”

    “No... I mean it, Anne. What guy pushing fifty could ever hope for—”

    “Shut up, Jack, and kiss me.”

    He shut his mouth and puckered his lips. Then one thing led to another, and they were on the verge of missing breakfast when a distant buzzing sound, like a cloud of angry wasps, disrupted their interlude. It was coming closer with each passing moment.

    They hopped out of bed, threw on their robes, and ran outside in time to see several low-flying aircraft shriek in front of them and then climb over the Pearl Harbor area. They stood in horror when the flashes from bombs lit up the morning sky, and the ground shook under them. Seconds later, the sickening sound of exploding ships and detonating munitions reached them.

    From their vantage point, they witnessed wave after wave of planes descending on the harbor and airfield, attacking anything afloat or with wings. The ships fired back, trying to knock the attackers from the sky, but it was worse than swatting a swarm of hornets with a stick—a losing battle. Shells from the Navy ships exploded overhead, damaging an aircraft here and there, but the vast majority escaped unscathed.

    Without warning, the high-pitch whistling sound Stoner remembered from WWI meant a round was coming right at them. He grabbed Anne’s hand, and they dove for cover as the shell exploded nearby.

    “Who are they?” Anne screamed.


    “What we ever do to them?”

    “Breathe the same air.”

    Shells exploded, and planes zoomed above them. As horrific as that was, it was nothing compared to the terror of rounds falling from the sky and detonating at ground level. The devastation was all around them: fires, debris, and collapsed buildings—probably injuries and deaths, too.

    A submarine surfaced in the bay but was promptly sunk by a Naval vessel. Soon, the planes left as quickly as they arrived, and the sky above them was tranquil once again. However, plumbs of ugly, black smoke billowed from the carnage and secondary explosions in the harbor.

    They sighed in relief, thinking the worst was over.

    “What can we do to help, Jack?”

    Stoner didn’t know, but he knew they couldn’t help anyone wearing nothing but robes.

    “Get dressed, then we’ll figure something out.”

    While they were changing, another wave of planes approached, just like the last bunch. Fortunately, they were dressed enough to dash out and seek better shelter. They found a dug-out area large enough for them to hunker down, and it wasn’t a minute too soon: a shell exploded near their patio and, in all likelihood, would have killed them both.

    Zooming planes, exploding shells—in the air and on the ground—and shaking earth continued for what seemed an eternity, but by ten o’clock, the Japs left again. They slowly got to their feet.

    “Is it over, Jack?”

    “Dunno. They could come again, or they’ve done what they came to do. Either way, we’re in deep sh*t.”

    “Why’s that?”

    “Our whole Pacific fleet was anchored here and ripe for the picking. And from the amount of smoke over the harbor, I imagine the Japs just harvested us but good.”

    “What’s that mean for us, Jack?”

    “For one thing, we were caught with our pants down, and for another, we’ll be fighting the Jap’s big guns with pea-shooters.”

    “They had help?”


    “The Japs. Think about it, Jack. An operation this big doesn’t happen because one day, you wake up and decide to attack a major naval base like Pearl Harbor. It takes information and planning, lots of information. Somebody had to collect it and pass it on.”

    “Sure, but—”

    “But what do we do best, Jack?”

    Before Stoner could answer, a nearby unexploded naval shell detonated, sending shrapnel zinging in all directions. He instinctively crouched when he heard the boom, but Anne didn’t. She had a surprised look: eyes wide, mouth agape. Then her eyes closed, and she crumpled to the ground. Stoner knew without checking: Anne was gone.

    Stoner held her until help arrived, but help was too late for her. His anger was too great for any help for himself. He vowed to find every bastard responsible for feeding info to the Japs.


    A month after he’d buried Anne, Stoner was on the third round of drinks at a local dive, hoping to drown his grief—it wasn’t working. The horrible images of that day kept resurfacing, no matter how much or what he drank. His world had ended when Anne died. His heart had been ripped from his chest, and he cared little for anyone or anything but the booze. Stoner nodded to the bartender for another round.

    “Look, Mack,” he said, “why don’t you find another place to drown your sorrows. You’re chasing off the customers.”

    “My money’s good, ain’t it?”

    “This is your last one, buster... Then leave, or I’ll call the—”

    “All right. All right. Hurry up with that beer, will ya.”

    While the bartender drew another cool one, a small man, not quite five feet tall, sat on the stool next to Stoner. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed the man was skinny with thinning, slicked-down, jet-black hair. His eyes were slits like an Asian's. It struck Stoner odd that Asians were still walking around free, considering the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor. This one wore a military uniform with creases pressed sharp enough to slice bread. It reminded Stoner that he hadn’t shaved, changed clothes, or even bathed in quite a while.

    The bartender plopped the mug of beer in front of him. Stoner paid and took a sip.

    “That won’t bring her back, Mr. Stoner,” the little man said.

    Stoner slowly put the mug on the bar and slid around to face him. A little man or not, he was about to get a knuckle sandwich for that remark. He cocked his arm, but the man sat there, smiling from ear to ear, bearing a row of teeth too big for his mouth. Stoner recognized that smile.

    “Mr. Okada?” Stoner asked, flabbergasted.

    “Major Toshio Okada, at your service, Mr. Stoner,” he said, nodding. “So sorry for your loss.”

    “What the hell...?”

    “We’re tracking down everyone who helped the Japanese with their attack, and we could use your help. Interested in a case, Jack? Maybe two or three cases?”

    For the first time in a month, Stoner smiled.

    The End

Page 2 of 2 FirstFirst 12

Similar Threads

  1. Star Crossed (Incomplete- pointers appreciated)
    By SDavids in forum Short Story Sharing
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 03-11-2016, 05:35 PM
  2. Have We Crossed The Rubicon?
    By E.A Rumfield in forum Philosophical Literature
    Replies: 46
    Last Post: 08-31-2012, 10:04 PM
  3. Double Act
    By hillwalker in forum Personal Poetry
    Replies: 14
    Last Post: 08-29-2010, 01:47 PM
  4. crossed roads
    By chispa in forum Personal Poetry
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 11-20-2005, 12:58 PM
  5. The Double
    By Pink Camel in forum Book & Author Requests
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 03-19-2004, 10:14 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts