Tuesday, 5 March 2013

MI Fanfiction: The Minister - Ch 9


‘We need to mobilise,’ Jim said tersely.

It was well past one a.m. There was no point in waking Barney and Willy. There was nothing they could do at this time. They needed to be fresh to continue their efforts to reach Bauer’s safe in the morning. But Cinnamon was in danger. Liesl was in danger. She might already be dead. But he couldn’t go to her. That would be running straight into their hands. No matter how much guilt Jim felt welling inside him, he couldn’t compromise the mission any further to go after a girl he had formed an attachment to.

‘You want me to signal Cinnamon?’ Rollin asked, glancing at the little radio that was sitting on the table near Jim’s hand.

Jim shook his head, rubbing his thumb over his lip.

‘Too risky. She might be with him right now. If he already suspects, that would confirm everything for him.’

‘Then how are we going to get her out?’

Jim sighed. ‘Unless she calls us, we don’t. Not right now – not unless we know she’s in danger. There’s no excuse for turning up at Bauer’s house in the middle of the night to get her out. Did she give you a film tonight, Rollin?’

Rollin nodded concisely. ‘I developed it just an hour ago. Plenty of evidence there. All we need, in fact. There are some perfect images I can run with the Berlin Daily, and other more – explicit – ones we can hold back as evidence for any indictment.’

‘So she doesn’t need to be there any longer.’

‘Well, she still might get a chance to take some snaps of his records,’ Rollin shrugged, ‘but no, it’s not vital any more. Not now we have this.’

Jim nodded and looked up, fixing his eyes on Rollin’s face. He felt exhausted, but so wide awake he couldn’t conceive of sleeping.

‘You think you can get in there in the daytime, in your cover as the reporter? She won’t be out at the club again until the evening. That may be too late.’

Rollin nodded. ‘I can do my best,’ he said openly. ‘Jim – what about Liesl Weismuller?’ he asked gravely.

‘What about her?’ Jim asked tersely, rolling up his sleeves and casting about for another cigarette.

‘You’re not going to just leave her.’

‘No,’ Jim said heavily. ‘No, I can’t just leave her.’

‘Don’t get yourself killed,’ Rollin said seriously. ‘Not for something like this.’

‘I never have any intention of getting myself killed,’ Jim replied. ‘Never.’

He sat in the chair, smoking cigarette after cigarette, drinking coffee and then drinking scotch, and then coffee again. After a time Rollin pleaded exhaustion and retired to his room, and Jim sat alone, in the light of one small table lamp, a cigarette between his lips and his eyes focussed on middle distance, thinking. It didn’t matter how long he sat. He needed to work something out. Tomorrow he could run on coffee and adrenaline. It wasn’t as if he hadn’t pulled a few all-nighters before.


In the end he did sleep, just for a few hours, with his mind so wired with coffee and inter-meshing thoughts that his dreams were almost constant. He woke with a start, finding himself still in the armchair in the main room, a blanket over his knees and a glimmer of light just starting up through the window opposite.

He unfolded himself from the chair, instantly alert, and stalked through into his bedroom to look through the curtains at the windows opposite. Liesl’s apartment was dark, the curtains closed. There was no sign of movement. No sign of life.

He stood there and stared at the glass panes, sometimes focussing on the windows across the street, sometimes focussing on the dirty pane just a few inches from his eyes. There had to be a way to get Liesl out – if she was still there. And Cinnamon. Cinnamon had to be the priority. She was trusting her team to get her out safely. There had to be some way of ensuring the safety of both women.

He stood looking down into the snowy street, watching as the first few pedestrians of the day tried their luck on the treacherous sidewalks. A woman came out of a doorway with a brush and started to sweep away snow. A couple of state police walked with confidence across the road in their heavy boots. A van drew to a halt and a man came out with what looked like a tray of loaves, heading for a store just a few doors down from the apartment building.

And then it clicked in his mind. It was so brash and so outrageous that it would work. It would have to work.

He turned and went through into Rollin’s room. He was sprawled asleep in his bed, the blankets and sheets pulled up over his shoulders against the chill in the room.

‘Rollin,’ he said in a low voice. ‘Rollin.’

Rollin turned and muttered, and then sat upright, his eyes wide open. ‘What is it, Jim? What time is it?’

‘Half past six. Rollin, I’ve got a plan,’ he said. ‘A way to get Cinnamon out, and a way to get Liesl out too, if I can.’

‘Tell me what you need, Jim,’ Rollin said, swinging his legs over the side of the bed.

Jim pursed his lips together. ‘I need a uniform for an officer ranked Polizeidirektor or higher, and a uniform for his subordinate, and I need them within the hour. I need them to fit you and me. I’m ditching the plan for you to go in as the reporter. You’re coming with me as my backup. Can you get them?’

‘I can get them,’ Rollin said.

Jim half smiled. There was no moment of hesitation, no look of shock at what was expected of him. Just, I can get them.

‘What are you going to do?’ Rollin asked.

‘I’m going to walk right into Bauer’s house, and I’m going to take Cinnamon out of there,’ he said. ‘And when you go over the border to Berlin to pass on your article about Bauer’s brothels to the Berlin Daily, you’re going to take Liesl Weismuller with you.’

Rollin nodded. Again, there was no moment of doubt, no questions. Just the nod.

‘I’ll go put the coffee and some toast on for you,’ Jim said, as Rollin swung his legs out of bed.

Jim went back into the main room and set the water to boiling and slipped a few slices of bread under the grill, then he went into his room and opened his suitcase. Inside the lining of the lid was a concealed pocket, and in the pocket, flush against the hard outer shell of the case, were a number of passports and identify cards all made up by Barney before they had left New York. He pulled them out and flicked through them. There were a couple of varying ranks for the Barnstadt police department. Which one he chose would depend on the uniform that Rollin could acquire.

He slipped the papers back into the lid of the case, and went out into the corridor and down to Willy and Barney’s room. He knocked discreetly on the door, and it was opened almost instantly by Willy.

Jim slipped into the room without speaking. Barney was there sitting at the table drinking coffee. Willy was half-dressed in his workman’s clothes, buttoning up his overalls over a clean white undershirt.

‘We’ll be out in a few minutes, Jim,’ Barney said to him, then paused. ‘Trouble?’

‘Could be,’ Jim nodded. ‘Cinnamon’s cover may be compromised. Barney, can you print me up a warrant for entry to Bauer’s house, and an arrest warrant for Cinnamon?’

Barney’s eyes widened momentarily, then he nodded. ‘Can do. I’ve got the equipment in the other room. How soon do you want them?’

‘Now,’ Jim said concisely.

Barney looked at him, blowing his breath out through his lips, but said nothing.

‘Jim, what happened?’ Willy asked in concern.

Jim hesitated. He wasn’t eager to talk about what had gone on last night, about how he had let his feelings possibly bring the whole mission down, but the team deserved to know.

‘Have you eaten?’ Barney asked him, and as Jim shook his head Barney tossed over a buttered roll. ‘Eat that. I’ll get working on the warrants.’

Jim nodded, biting into the fresh roll. Until he swallowed he didn’t realise how hungry he had been. As Barney went to get his equipment he explained quickly and quietly something of what had happened the night before.

‘Are we all right to continue tunnelling?’ Willy asked in concern.

‘No problem there,’ Jim nodded. ‘If anything, this will distract him from the club. You’ll get to the safe today?’

‘We should get close,’ Willy told him. ‘But it’s a lot of dirt. Won’t be able to get into it until tomorrow, probably.’

Jim nodded again. ‘On schedule. Well, I’ve got to go get a car,’ he said, pushing the rest of the roll into his mouth and brushing the crumbs from his lips. ‘Barney, leave those documents in my apartment. I’ll pick them up when I get back. ASAP, right?’

‘ASAP,’ Barney nodded. ‘You’ll have them, Jim.’


Out on the streets the air was so cold that it seemed to burn Jim’s tired eyes. It pushed into his hands and feet and threatened to steal all his energy. But he didn’t have a lot to do – not like Rollin. Rollin was tracking down uniforms, and whether he did that by stealing them from a closet or taking them directly from someone wearing them, it was going to be a risky business.

It was no trouble to rent a car at such short notice – not with the amount of money Jim could flash at the man in the rental office. He found himself in charge of a big black saloon Mercedes, that looked polished and expensive enough to belong to an important officer. He drove back to the apartment with great care on the treacherous roads, and found the warrant papers neatly placed in the centre of the table by Barney. They looked perfect.

When Rollin came in a few minutes later he was holding a bag in one hand, and smiling broadly.

‘Who did you have to knock out for those?’ Jim asked, taking the bag from him and looking inside.

‘A couple of officers in the Police Headquarters,’ Rollin told him, hurriedly pulling the uniforms out of the bag. ‘We’ll have to move fast, Jim, and change fast after we’ve got the girls out. The men I drugged will be safe until at least this evening – they won’t wake up – but someone will be sure to miss them, and when Bauer calls in to complain about the warrants they won’t take long putting two and two together.’

‘All right,’ Jim nodded, sorting out the higher ranking uniform from the other. It looked just about the right size, and he had an identity card that would match the rank. He started to strip off his suit and shirt and pulled on the dark uniform as Rollin did the same.

‘Let’s go,’ he said, slipping his identity card into his wallet and patting Rollin on the shoulder. ‘Liesl first.’

‘You’re going to explain on the way, huh?’ Rollin asked him.

‘Not much to explain,’ Jim said with a grin. ‘We’re arresting Liesl Weismuller for acting as a prostitute. Same with Cinnamon. If we’re not attacking Bauer directly, he’s going to be a lot easier to handle.’

‘And if Fraulein Weismuller’s not there?’ Rollin asked meaningfully.

‘Then I’m going to be asking Bauer some questions,’ Jim replied grimly.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

MI Fanfiction: The Minister - Ch 8

[A.N. I have been trying to work on this. Really. I forgot I hadn't uploaded this chapter here, and I've taken far too long working on the next. Life. Children. Depression. Anxiety. Life. All those things. But I've got Ch. 9 started, at least.]


How much information could you get from someone when you were lying alongside them in a narrow bed, warm under blankets, naked as a creature in the wild? Jim asked himself that as he trailed his fingers along Liesl’s arm and touched the sudden swoop of flesh between ribs and hip and rested his nose against her neck and breathed in her scent. There was a sense of ease melted through his body that he only ever found after satiating himself like this.

Her eyes were closed, her head tipped back. She lay there with the contentment of a cat, her arms flung up onto the pillow behind her head.

‘It has never been like this,’ she murmured.

For a moment Jim felt an uncomfortable, primal unease with the knowledge of her seven months of servitude to Georg Bauer. But he didn’t own her, any more than Bauer had. No matter how you tried to enslave a person, you could never truly own them.

‘It never has,’ he murmured, touching his lips to her neck.

Perhaps it had. Perhaps he had been with women like this before. Perhaps she would blend into blurred memories of different women in different countries, of the forthright women back home in New York City, of the sultry women in Latin America, or the intensity of the Eastern Europeans. Perhaps in time she would be just another woman – but for now, this felt unique and irreplaceable.

He lay there in silence, letting time stretch out. It was almost midnight, and sleep threatened to seep into his mind. Rollin would be wondering where he was. Barney and Willy, if they were on schedule, would be finishing up and coming home for a short, hard sleep and another early start. And he was here, wrapped about a woman he barely knew, his skin sheened with sweat and the feeling of never wanting to move in his bones.

He had to move. He stirred himself and stretched and she moaned a little in protest. She was falling into sleep too. His flank touched the cold shock of the wall behind him, and he gasped. It was a good thing. The chill outside the blankets stopped the sleepiness in its tracks.

He lay there. He bit his lip into his mouth, two parts of his mind vying for control. Everything revolved around guilt. He should be making use of this connection for the good of the mission. He shouldn’t be risking everything by having a casual affair with this woman. But he didn’t want to use her. He didn’t want to hurt her. But he didn’t even know if he could truly trust her.

He wanted a cigarette, but the packet was in his jacket pocket on the other side of the room, through all that cold air. He sat up a little more in bed, letting the cold reach his bare chest. He bit his lip so hard that pain flooded him and made his eyes water.

‘Liesl,’ he asked. ‘What can you tell me about Georg Bauer?’

She stirred sleepily.

‘What?’ she murmured.

He put a hand on her shoulder, looking at the darkness of his fingers against the milky whiteness of her skin. He wondered what she would look like in the summer, with sun to tan her.

‘Can you tell me anything about Georg Bauer?’ he asked her in a low voice. ‘Anything that would help to – to bring him down.’

She gave a sudden harsh laugh that broke the warm atmosphere.

‘I could tell you a thousand things that would bring him down, and he would have me killed for each one,’ she said. ‘But why do you want to know, Otto? You don’t want to bring him down. You want to sell women to him.’

Jim felt that like a kick in the abdomen. Her voice had been free of bitterness up until now.

‘What if I did want to bring him down?’ he said in a low voice.

She suddenly became silent and very still. Jim didn’t need to hear her speak – he could read her feelings. She trusted no one. Suddenly she trusted him even less. He could have been sent there by Bauer. He could be one of Bauer’s men, about to betray her. Or, if she was still under Bauer’s influence – she could be about to betray him.

‘If you did,’ she said eventually, ‘I could tell you a lot of things, like where he gets his girls from, like how he makes sure every journalist in the country stays quiet about his work, like how he used to watch everything I did through spy holes and cameras and – ’

Jim felt something freeze inside him at that, but then someone knocked on the door so hard that the sound seemed to shatter the night. Jim sat straight up in bed, staring about in the dim light. Liesl sat too, her face drained of colour. She was obviously terrified.

‘He said he’d send men to check on me,’ she whispered. ‘He said I was to answer at any time. He said I wasn’t to see any man...’

‘You’re not seeing me,’ Jim said firmly.

His clothes were in a pile on the floor by the bed. He grabbed them in both hands and began to dress as quickly and efficiently as he could. Thank God his coat and jacket were in here, not in the other room.

‘Go to the door,’ he whispered.

‘But you – ’

‘Put my coffee mug in the sink. Leave yours on the table. Go to the door. Say you were asleep. I won’t be here.’

He had only given the place the briefest of once-overs before he found himself tussled in bed with Liesl. The whole evening had been spent in the luxury of sheets and blankets and naked skin. Now the cold was biting into him and he was dressed in pants and an unbuttoned shirt, his underwear and tie and socks thrust into his pockets, his shoes and jacket grasped in his right hand. There was no way out in the room but the window, and he would have to take it. No matter that he was three floors up. He would have to take it.

He slipped the window up in its frame and put his head out into the frigid air. There was no fire escape on this building. There were just not the regulations here that they had at home. But there was a thick, cast-iron drain pipe. Thank God. He dropped his shoes out to the street below and shrugged into his jacket and coat, then swung himself over the sill and out onto the pipe outside. He could hear Liesl in the other room calling out in response to the banging on the door, but she hadn’t opened it yet. As he pulled the sash window back down with scrabbling fingertips he heard the men finally burst in, and he ducked out of sight.

It was so cold he was afraid his fingers would lose grip. They already felt half numb. His feet were numbing where he was curling his toes into what grip he could find. He shimmied down the freezing pipe trying not to think about what might be going on in the room above. He had to get down before someone saw him, before his fingers gave way and he fell down.

His feet touched the snow-crusted sidewalk and he groped about for his shoes in the dim light. It was so cold his entire body hurt as he slipped his feet into his shoes and pulled the sides of his jacket together and walked briskly down the street. No running. He mustn’t run. He had to look as if he were simply walking home after a long evening rather than running from a woman’s apartment.

He was shaking as he rounded the end of the block and turned into another street. The air was frigid, his breath coming out in white clouds, and even though he had his coat buttoned tightly the shock to his body in comparison with the warmth of Liesl’s bed was too much. He carried on walking, stamping warmth into his legs, wishing he had had time to pull his sock on. But he would be back at the apartment soon. He had to take the long way to be sure he wasn’t being followed, but he wasn’t going to make it that long.

By the time he was approaching the front of the apartment building he was certain that there was no one behind him. He stopped just outside, leaning against the railings and lighting a cigarette, watching the street around him. There was no movement. He could see no telling footprints in the newly fallen snow, and pretty soon his own prints would be covered over.

He pushed the door open, and went inside.


There was a light on in the apartment. He opened the door slowly, always cautious, but it was just Rollin, sitting in his armchair with his feet up on the table, a glass of something that looked like scotch in his hand.

‘Well, Casanova,’ Rollin greeted him smoothly.

Jim pushed in through the door, running a hand over his head to brush the melting snow from his hair. It was warm inside, thank God. Rollin had the electric heater on, and Jim walked straight over to stand by the glowing elements, his palms spread to the heat.

He slipped his coat off and laid it over a nearby chair, and the heat started to press through into his jacket.

‘Hasty exit?’ Rollin asked.

Jim looked down at his unbuttoned jacket and shirt. His chest was bare beneath. He had been wearing an undershirt when he went out, hadn’t he? Damn. He bit his lip into his mouth. He must have left that somewhere in Liesl’s room.

‘Something like that,’ he nodded.

He went quickly across the room to the curtains and looked out between the crack. There was a light in Liesl’s apartment, but her curtains were still drawn and he couldn’t tell what might be going on. It was impossible to see if the men were still there.

‘Listen, Rollin, I need you to do me a favour,’ he said.

Rollin looked up at him from his chair.

‘Just check on that girl,’ Jim said. ‘Some guys came to her room – some of Bauer’s guys. They’re keeping tabs on her, seeing that she doesn’t spill anything about Bauer. I want you to go up there in the morning. Go up as a janitor, knock on her door, see she’s all right. I daren’t risk it.’

‘She really has got to you,’ Rollin said, rubbing a finger against his lip. ‘Jim, are you sure – ’

‘No, I’m not sure,’ Jim cut across him. ‘I’m not sure of anything. That’s why I want you to check on her.’

Rollin just looked at him. Jim shook his head, inwardly cursing himself. He had been a fool to get into this situation, to get at all involved with this woman.

‘I’ll check on her,’ he said eventually.

‘Good,’ Jim said.

He sat down in chair, thinking, barely noticing as Rollin got up to make coffee. The scent of coffee grounds drifted to him, but he was visualising Liesl’s apartment, seeing the yale lock on her door just beneath the handle, the positioning of the lights and furniture, the few sundry knick-knacks and ornaments around. They weren’t her ornaments, she had said. They had been there when she moved in.

He saw the lock again, the scratches on the metal. Not surprising it was scratched. A fumble with the keys would do that. He saw the ornaments in the main room and the bedroom... That ugly ceramic construction on the mantelpiece that looked as if it had been woven of strips of clay. The vase in the bedroom that Liesl gazed at and said, ‘It’s nice. It looks brand new. I was surprised this room had such things.’

He opened his eyes wide, staring at Rollin.

‘Her room was bugged. I was stupid...’

Rollin turned from the counter with two cups of coffee in his hands.

‘Are you sure, Jim?’ he asked, instantly serious.

Jim shook his head. ‘No, I’m not sure. I can’t be sure. But of course it was bugged. Bauer keeps such a close tab on his reputation. Of course she was being watched. She said he was going to send men to check on her. She said he watched her all the time before he let her go.’

‘That means he’s watching Cinnamon too,’ Rollin said in a dark voice. ‘Did she mention you by name, Jim? I mean, did she mention Otto Baum by name?’

‘Yes, she did,’ Jim said heavily. ‘She did.’