Monday, 29 April 2013

MI Fanfiction: The Minister - Ch 11


The street was empty, but Jim couldn’t help having the prickling feeling in his spine that at any moment a police car would roar up to investigate why officers had raided Bauer’s house with no recorded orders. It was always that way as they walked away from a mission – that feeling of success mingled with an adrenaline-filled suspicion that all could still go terribly wrong. He never felt quite relaxed until he was back home in his New York apartment with the fire burning and a glass of scotch in his hand.

The car was still there, though, and Liesl was still sitting there in the back seat, her eyes intent and suspicious as she watched the street around her. They got into the car quickly and wordlessly, slamming the doors behind them.

‘All right, let’s go,’ Jim said, turning the key in the ignition and moving off down the road.

Cinnamon had slipped into the back seat with Liesl, and Liesl was eyeing her warily.

‘Cinnamon’s with us,’ Jim told her tersely, his eyes on the rear view mirror. There was no one following them, it seemed, but still, he would take a circuitous route back to the apartment.

‘Then she was a plant,’ Liesl said, sounding stunned. ‘All of this – everything.’

‘Everything,’ Jim nodded, his eyes flicking between the road ahead and the rear view mirror. ‘All of it designed to bring Bauer down – nothing more.’

‘Then you – ’ she began.

Jim pressed his lips together, suffused by a feeling of guilt. She subsided into silence. In the mirror he could just see Cinnamon’s hand slipping sideways and closing around Liesl’s. He was glad that Cinnamon was there to give her that comfort.


Back in the apartment Jim shut the curtains and carefully locked the door while Rollin spurred the heaters into action and Cinnamon busied herself making coffee on the little stove in the kitchen area. Liesl sat in an armchair with her coat still tightly wrapped around her, looking stunned.

Jim stood at the window for longer than was necessary, checking the street for signs of police even though it seemed obvious that no one had followed them. He didn’t know what to say to Liesl. She was obviously torn between feelings of gratitude and betrayal, and he didn’t know how to explain things to her with Cinnamon and Rollin here in the room with them. What could he do for the woman anyway? It wasn’t as if he could arrange for her to come back to the States, and even if he did, what would she do then? He couldn’t be in a long-term relationship with anybody, not in his job. He should never have become involved. But it was too late now. All he could do was to try to repair the damage.

He turned his head a little and looked at Liesl out of the corner of his eye. Something about her profile and the wave of her dark hair made his heart jump a little in his chest. It was so easy to fall, and so hard to recover from the landing. It could be that he felt more for her than she did for him. After all, what had they really shared together? Eye contact over coffee, and one night in a warm bed? He had been watching her for longer than she had known of his existence.

‘All right,’ he said abruptly, turning from the window, showing no sign of his thoughts in his face. ‘Here’s what we do. Rollin, you’ve got all the evidence from Cinnamon that you need. You need to get that story written up and into the Berlin Daily. I want you to take Cinnamon and Liesl into Germany and over into the Western Zone. We’ll rendezvous there once Barney and Willy have completed their part in this.’

‘Jim, how are we going to get Fräulein Weismuller out of the country?’ Rollin asked seriously. ‘Barney’s tied up underground – he won’t have time for faking papers or knocking up hidden compartments.’

‘We’ll think of a way,’ Jim said tersely. ‘There’s always a way. Once she’s there, it’s your job to be certain she stays there.’

He turned back to the window, his mind racing through possibilities. There had to be a way. He couldn’t just dump her here, after getting her into so much danger with Bauer’s people. Had it really become that they were incapable of rigging up needed equipment without Barney to hand?

He looked around again, watching as Cinnamon bent towards Liesl, offering her a black coffee in a delicate china cup. Liesl’s fingers were closing around the saucer, taking it from Cinnamon’s hands. It was hard to tell whose fingers were whose.

He drew in breath suddenly.

‘Cinnamon, how many passports do you have with you?’ he asked abruptly. ‘What identities?’

She turned to him, raising her eyebrows. ‘Greta Hoch’s, of course. And I’m on your passport as your wife. I also have an identity as a reporter for the Berlin Daily that mirrors Rollin’s, and one as a nurse with the German Red Cross.’

Jim nodded, and looked over at Rollin. ‘Rollin, can you make Liesl look like Cinnamon?’

Liesl looked across at the other woman, startled. ‘Well, no, of course – ’ she began.

‘Oh, I should think so,’ Rollin cut across, unfolding himself from his chair and coming over to look more closely at Liesl. ‘Similar bone structure. The hair should be no problem. She’ll have to have contacts to change her eye colour, of course, but the build’s there.’

Liesl looked at Rollin as if he had gone mad, but Jim smiled.

‘Good. How long will it take?’

Rollin looked at his watch. ‘I’ve got everything I need here. If Cinnamon can sit for the mask and then do Fräulein Weismuller’s hair, I’ll have the mask made in a couple of hours.’

‘I can do that,’ Cinnamon said smoothly, cocking her head sideways as she assessed Liesl’s hair. ‘It’ll be quite simple to make her match the passport.’

Jim nodded. ‘In that case – Rollin, you and Liesl will leave the country together using the press passports. Cinnamon will leave later with the rest of us. We can’t have two identical people trying to leave the country at the same time.’

‘Oh, I think that could be quite fun,’ Cinnamon said in a serene tone. ‘But I’m happy to wait here with you, Jim.’

She took a sip of her coffee, then pushed her hair away from her face and leant back in her chair, saying, ‘I’m ready when you are, Rollin.’

‘I’ll have the plaster mixed by the time you’ve finished that coffee,’ he promised her.


No matter how many times Jim had seen Rollin transforming himself or another into a completely different person, it was strange to see Liesl being turned into a carbon-copy of Cinnamon, right down to the silver-blonde hair and the narrow-bridged nose and the wide blue-green eyes. When she stood in the doorway of the bedroom and looked at him, he had to look twice before he could perceive anything of Liesl in her. Of course, it was there. There was something about the way she held herself, the way her lips were pushed together with a subtle sign of stress, the way her hands were curled at her sides – but on the surface, she was Cinnamon.

Now I believe it,’ she said simply, glancing sideways at her reflection in the glass of a picture on the wall.

Cinnamon moved past her out of the bedroom, looking smugly satisfied at what she and Rollin had created. Their clothes were different, but still, they looked like the most identical of twins.

‘Liesl, can I have a moment?’ Jim asked, stepping closer and gesturing her back into the bedroom.

Liesl looked at him, then dropped her eyes. No amount of disguise could hide the suspicion in her. She nodded briefly, and he followed her back into the room.

‘Did any of it mean anything?’ she asked him before he could speak.

Jim felt something tighten inside his chest, and he nodded.

All of it,’ he promised her, moving close enough to her that he could smell and sense that this was Liesl and not Cinnamon in front of him. ‘The instant you were out of Bauer’s employment I should have left you alone. But I didn’t. I came after you. I shouldn’t have. It was unprofessional of me. But I did.’

‘You’re not even Otto, are you?’ she asked.

He shook his head. ‘My name’s Jim. I can’t say more than that.’

She smiled weakly, her gaze lifting to meet his. He moved closer again, filled with the urge to kiss her, but she drew back.

‘This doesn’t feel – safe,’ she said, gesturing towards the mask that covered her face. ‘I feel as if it would fall off if I sneezed.’

Jim laughed quietly. ‘Oh, Rollin’s better than that,’ he promised her, ‘but I understand. It’s strange for me, too. Cinnamon’s a very good friend. A friend,’ he promised her, at her slightly suspicious look. ‘Nothing more.’

She laughed then, nodding. ‘She’s something more of a friend to Herr Hand, perhaps?’

Jim glanced at the door. He was never quite sure what did go on between Rollin and Cinnamon, if anything did.

‘Perhaps,’ he said. He turned his wrist to look at his watch. ‘Liesl, you’ll have to be going soon. You’ll remember what we’ve all told you? Just keep your cool, let Rollin do the talking as much as you can. Look them in the eye, don’t give them a reason to suspect.’

‘I spent a lot of time acting for Georg Bauer,’ she told him, a hardness edging her voice. ‘I know how to hide my feelings when I must.’

Jim bit back his feelings at those words. His anger was for Bauer, not for her.

‘Good,’ he said, laying a hand on her cheek – Cinnamon’s cheek, it appeared. The false skin even felt like skin. The warmth of Liesl’s blood permeated the soft membrane. ‘Then I will see you in Berlin,’ he promised. ‘Rollin will look after you. Trust him.’

‘I will trust him,’ she nodded. ‘You trust him.’


After Liesl was gone, Jim sat in one of the tired armchairs in the apartment and drank Scotch. Cinnamon left him alone. There was nothing either of them could do at this point, either to help Rollin and Liesl or to help Barney and Willy. Cinnamon had given up her chance to escape the country early to let Liesl escape in her place, and Jim didn’t know how to properly express his gratitude for that. He knew it was the kind of the thing that any of them would have done, but still, Cinnamon was risking her life or her freedom for a woman she hardly knew and to whom she owed nothing.

‘I appreciate it,’ Jim said after a while, looking up from his drink. The alcohol had just taken the edge off his tension and made the evening seem a bit more friendly to him.

Cinnamon looked up from her book, seeming startled at the sudden noise in the quiet room. She registered what he had said, then shrugged. ‘You don’t need to tell me that, Jim.’

‘Maybe not,’ Jim said, ‘But I appreciate it.’

‘You should go get some sleep,’ Cinnamon told him. ‘Barney won’t be through to the safe until the morning, will he?’

Jim looked at his watch. It was pushing close to ten p.m., and the night’s cold was pressing through the windows no matter how tightly they kept the curtains closed.

‘Not until the morning,’ he nodded. ‘Then we’ll need to be on hand to take the money to various banks. It’ll all go much more quickly with us there too. Take a lot of the heat off of Barney and Willy.’

Cinnamon nodded. ‘And we won’t hear from Rollin until the morning, either,’ she said pertinently.

‘No,’ Jim said. ‘No, they’ll still be travelling...’

‘They’ll both be fine,’ Cinnamon told him quietly.

‘Yeah, sure,’ Jim nodded with a quick smile. ‘Sure.’

He stood up abruptly, taking his glass over to the little kitchen area and putting it down with a sharp sound on the surface by the sink.

‘Goodnight, Cinnamon,’ he said.

‘Goodnight, Jim,’ she replied quietly.

In his room he lay on his bed fully clothed, his head resting back on the pillow and his eyes unfocussed, staring at the light fitting that hung from the ceiling. In the dim glow cast by the lamp by the bed everything in the room looked strange. He wondered if Rollin and Liesl were making out fine. They’d be just about reaching the border by now. But he wouldn’t know until tomorrow. He wouldn’t be able to do anything anyway. It was up to Rollin to get Liesl through into East Germany, and then to get her all the way through to West Berlin. It was up to Rollin to get Cinnamon’s clandestinely taken photographs and facts made up into a neat news story and printed in the newspaper. If he succeeded, it was possible that Jim’s first knowledge of it would be to see the story on sale in one of the local shops. Then the pressure really would be on, as Bauer started to feel himself attacked from all sides.

There was nothing Jim could do right now to further any of this, and that was the kind of time he hated most of all. All he could do now was sleep, and make sure that the final part of the mission went off properly tomorrow.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Rogue River - Promo and Lobby Cards

Stills and lobby cards for Rogue River, Peter Graves' first film, in 1951. I would so love to be able to see this film.

Shoulders back, hands in back pockets, hips thrust slightly forwards. Yes. I mean, the heels of those hands resting on that pelvis, the fingers lightly touching the muscle beneath the fabric of his jeans. What a happy place that must be.

We don't even care who the woman is in this, except perhaps for future reference, to ask her what it felt like to be carried by a picket fence in those arms. That stance, and the hand curling over her thigh...

She seems happy to be in the other guy's arms. I'm not sure why...

Friday, 5 April 2013

MI Fanfiction: The Minister - Ch 10


The corridor outside Liesl’s apartment was empty as Jim walked down towards her door. A couple of people had watched him approaching the building with Rollin and had melted away into the background as soon as they had registered the uniforms, but there was hardly anyone inside. At this time of day most of the people had probably left for work. The deserted nature of the place would make things much easier.

Liesl’s door was shut, but it bore signs of recent damage. There were scuffs near the base as if someone had tried to kick it in before she had finally opened it. Jim closed his eyes briefly, hoping to God that she had been sensible, that she had not tried to fight or said anything foolish. He didn’t want to be the cause of her death.

He raised his hand to the panel of the door and knocked, far more softly than he would if there were anyone watching and he was having to keep rigidly to his persona as a police officer on an important mission.

There was no sound or movement from inside, and he pressed his lips together, trying to keep his sense of apprehension pushed down inside his chest. He glanced at Rollin, and registered the concern in his face too.

He knocked again, more loudly this time, and then put his mouth near to the door and called, ‘This is the police. Open up.’

Hopefully she should have no special reason to fear the police. It would not have been the police that Bauer had sent to find her last night.

He knocked again, and called out in an even more stentorian voice, ‘Fräulein Weismuller. This is the police. Open the door.’

Finally, he heard noises inside. He glanced at Rollin, feeling as if his spine had suddenly loosened. Rollin met his eyes, and nodded briefly.

The door opened, and Jim saw Liesl standing there, wrapped in a thin dressing-gown, her hair in disarray and her face bruised. She looked fearful and in pain. A hot feeling of anger spiked inside his chest at the sight, and he pushed through the door with Rollin behind him so that he could get that door shut and protect her from the eyes of anyone who happened to walk past.

Liesl’s eyes widened as she recognised who it was in the official uniform. Jim pressed his finger to his lips instantly, shaking his head.

‘Fräulein Weismuller, you are under arrest,’ he said peremptorily. ‘I’d advise you to get dressed. It’s cold outside.’

Her lips parted. She started to mouth the word, ‘Otto?’ and he shook his head again.

‘Get dressed, Fräulein.’

Abruptly something seemed to click inside her, and she nodded, hurrying away into the bedroom. She came back neatly dressed in a skirt and sweater, and Jim picked up her coat and purse from a chair and handed them to her.

‘Where are you taking me?’ she asked as she pushed her arms into her coat.

She sounded fearful, and Jim touched a hand to her arm, squeezing gently.

‘To the police station, of course,’ he told her, letting none of his empathy come through into his voice. ‘Come on.’

As they walked back through the hallways Liesl was completely silent. It wasn’t until she was in the back of the big black car that she finally spoke, her voice desperate and strained.

‘Otto, what is this?’ she asked. ‘What are you doing? Who are you? You are in the police?’

Jim shook his head, twisting round in the front seat to look at her as Rollin drove, wishing that he could have been seated in the back with her.

‘I am not in the police, Liesl,’ he said in a low, firm voice, ‘any more than I am a trader in women. You need to trust me. I’m trying to get you to safety.’

She stared at him, seemingly trying to read some truth in his face under the layers of deception to which she had been exposed.

‘Why?’ she asked eventually.

‘Because I care,’ Jim said. ‘And we’ve got a friend who’s in danger too. I want to get both of you to safety.’

‘Away from Herr Bauer and his men?’ Liesl asked disbelievingly.

‘Away from Herr Bauer and his men,’ Jim nodded. ‘Over the border if we can – and into West Berlin.’

Distrust mingled with amazement on her face. Jim nodded forward down the road. Bauer’s town house was just a few hundred yards away.

‘Our friend’s in there,’ he said. ‘She’s in danger. Now, I need you to trust me, Liesl. Will you trust me?’

She stared at him, fixing her eyes on his, trying to read something in them. Then she nodded.

‘For now, Otto,’ she said quietly.

‘I’m going to lock you in this car when we leave it,’ he said. ‘I’m going to leave the keys with you – you understand? If we’re not back within an hour, you drive it to 271 Eichenstrasse, and go up to my apartment – that’s apartment 311 – and wait there for either me or my friends. Can you do that?’

She nodded again.

Rollin drew the car in to the side of the road, and stopped. Jim fixed his eyes on Liesl’s once more.

‘271 Eichenstrasse, apartment 311. You’ll remember that?’

‘I will remember,’ she nodded.


Jim pressed his hand briefly over hers, then got out of the car and slammed the door.

‘Ready?’ he asked Rollin, pulling Barney’s sheaf of forged papers out of his pocket.

‘I’m ready,’ Rollin nodded.


It took only a brief flash of their police identification to get in at the townhouse’s tall gates. Jim looked up at the tall building with some apprehension. There were a lot of rooms in there for Cinnamon to be hidden in, if Bauer gained enough warning. He could already see the man at the gate stepping back into his booth and moving toward the telephone. Rollin moved like lightning, though, stepping after the man and putting his hand over the guard’s.

‘No warning calls to the house, thank you,’ he said smoothly, jerking the cable out of the wall and cutting it with a penknife.

The guard looked dismayed rather than angry, and Rollin shrugged.

‘You’re trying to do your job, I’m trying to do mine,’ he said amiably.

He left the man in the booth and joined Jim on the path. Together they strode to the door and Jim rang the bell in a peremptory way, his face grim. The door was answered by some kind of butler in a dark suit, and Jim flashed his identification and the forged papers in front of him.

‘Herr Bauer is not here – ’ the butler faltered.

‘We do not need Herr Bauer to be here,’ Jim said in a crisp voice, pushing past the man without preamble. ‘We are authorised to search these premises for Greta Hoch, suspected of immoral conduct. Do not try to interfere.’

He moved on down the wide foyer, looking to the left and right, his eyes taking in ornaments, paintings, the stairs and the many doors leading to other rooms. It was good that Bauer was out of the way and unable to interfere, and at least Cinnamon would not be trying to evade capture – but it was almost certain that Bauer’s butler was now on the telephone trying to reach the minister and warn him of what was happening.

‘Look for her room,’ he murmured to Rollin, and the man nodded, making towards the stairs. Even if Cinnamon were downstairs, Rollin would be able to recover any incriminating possessions from her room.

Jim carried on through the house, opening doors and glancing through them before shutting them again with a bang. He jerked open a door to a small sitting room, startling a woman who was kneeling and sweeping ashes out of the grate, but before she could speak he shut the door again, moving on. Then he opened the door to what was obviously Bauer’s study. His eyes flicked over sheaves of paper left out on the desk, and the locked filing cabinets along the walls. It would be so easy to rifle through those documents. He pushed the door closed behind him and stepped right up to the desk, gently pushing at the top papers with his fingers.


Upstairs Rollin walked along corridors that were beautifully decorated, but to his mind devoid of any soul. There was no personal touch in this place. It said nothing about Bauer except that he was obsessed with appearance.

He pushed open a door with his fingertips and looked in on an empty guest room. There was another, and then another, and he wondered what Bauer did with all these rooms day to day. Then he opened one to his left, and drew in breath silently as he saw Cinnamon standing in front of a full length mirror, dressed in no more than her underwear. A twin set and skirt were laid out on the bed, but as yet she hadn’t even reached for them.

He stood staring for a moment at the curves of her body and the suggestive lines of the underwear, before shaking himself, and clearing his throat just as she reached out for the clothes. Cinnamon jumped and spun, and Rollin gave her his most charming smile. He was gratified to see that it brought a blush to her cheeks even as she recognised who it was in the doorway.

Speechless, and obviously aware that she might be under surveillance, she began to pull on her clothes with a kind of flustered speed, and Rollin snapped back into character, saying, ‘Fräulein Hoch, you are under arrest on suspicion of immoral conduct. Come with me please.’

Her mouth worked for a moment, her eyes wide in a look that always reminded him of a kitten. She was perfect at looking innocent, but he knew she had claws sheathed and ready to use.

‘Just a moment,’ she faltered, pulling on her skirt. ‘Will you give me a moment?’

Rollin bowed graciously, watching as she buttoned her shirt and pushed her arms into the sleeves of the cardigan..

‘May I get my purse?’ she asked as she slipped her feet into high heeled shoes.

‘Be quick, Fräulein,’ Rollin said sternly.

Cinnamon turned to the dressing table and gathered a few things together into her purse, then turned back to Rollin, holding out her arms as if she expected him to cuff her.

‘That won’t be necessary,’ Rollin told her, taking hold of her upper arm.

‘Trouble?’ she murmured as he walked her out of the door, and he nodded minutely.

‘Come on. Downstairs,’ he told her, jerking her forward as a maid peeked out of a door down the corridor. ‘There better not be any more of your kind around this place.’

‘And what is my kind?’ Cinnamon asked him in a raised, indignant voice, pulling back a little. ‘I’ll thank you to know – ’

‘That’s enough, Fräulein,’ Rollin snapped, and she subsided into silence.

Jim was at the bottom of the stairs, buttoning something into his top pocket.

‘Ah, you have the Fräulein,’ he nodded with deep satisfaction, meeting Rollin’s eyes. ‘Let’s go.’

He strode to the front door, ignoring the flustered looking butler who was still holding the phone receiver in his hand. He flung the door open and the cold winter air rushed past them as they walked outside.

‘Jim, what’s going on?’ Cinnamon murmured as soon as they were far enough from the house to not be overheard.

‘Bauer may be onto us,’ Jim replied, his lips almost motionless. ‘My fault. We had to pull you out.’ He took hold of Cinnamon’s other arm and hurried her on towards the high gates. ‘Come on.’

There was a sudden yell from behind them of, ‘Officer!’ and Jim’s pace quickened.

‘So he got through to Bauer, then,’ he murmured. ‘Still doesn’t know who we are, maybe.’

‘At least the phone’s cut off at the gate,’ Rollin reminded him.

The guard at the gate looked at them quizzically as they approached, aware of the calls from the butler at the door of the house.

‘If Herr Bauer wants to argue with our orders, I suggest he go to the Präsidium and file a complaint there,’ Jim said tersely to the man. ‘Now open the gate. I am in a hurry.’

The guard gave one more look back towards the house, but Jim waved at the gates impatiently, his expression grim, and the man pressed the button that opened the gates without further argument. The three passed through quickly and into the street outside.

‘This way,’ Jim said, turning Cinnamon towards where the car still sat, just a few hundred yards away. ‘Come on. Let’s get out of here.’