I’m back home and this story has been sitting on a back burner for a few months, waiting for some more to be written.
The trouble is, there are also other stories to write, and I’m not very good at prioritising.
But, here we are, a few minutes opened up and it didn’t take long to get back into the groove.
An interrogation and a revelation.
Debriefings were like interrogations, only friendlier. We were trained to withstand interrogation, so it would be interesting to see how I reacted. I had no doubt what some of the questions would be.
While I had a few minutes to myself, sitting down behind a bare metal table on a hard plastic and uncomfortable chair, with a warm cup of station house coffee, to consider the briefing.
Target, male, 6 foot 3 inches, 200 pounds, Caucasian, thought to be from either Russia or Bulgaria, but nothing to define his as such. I had wondered, at the time, what that meant. When I saw him in the alley I knew, then, what was meant, he looked the same as you or me.
No explanation for why he was under surveillance, but we did get a warning that he might be dangerous if he suspected he was being observed. Right about that, given team casualties.
Main objective, who he met, talked to, and where he went, every place, every detail to be noted. The unpredictable explosion threw the whole operation into chaos.
The door opened and a woman, middle-aged, conservatively dressed, walked in, closing it behind her. She sat in the other chair opposite me. She brought a file, thin, and put it in front of her on the table.
“Your name is Sam Jackson?”
No introductions, nothing, just a start on the questions. No nonsense, but I could see she was very, very angry. With me, or those who had run a failed operation?
“How long have you been with us?”
She opened the file and glanced at the piece of paper on top. A minute passed before she closed the file again. “Closer to nine,” she said.
I said nothing. I wasn’t counting the days.
“How many operations have you been on?”
“Six, including this one.”
“Who assigned you to this specific operation?”
“Couldn’t say. I got the usual request via text message to attend a briefing at the midtown office.”
“What was the designated operation name?”
For a brief second, there was a quizzical expression on her face, then it was gone.
“Who was running this operation?”
A full three minutes of silence passed. I thought she was looking at me, the sort of stare that would break a lesser man, but in the end, I think she was looking right through me. I could not read her thoughts, but if I was to guess, they would be rather dark right now.
Then she spoke.
“You should know that there was no Chancellery on the books, and we certainly do not have a Director named Severin.”
© Charles Heath 2019