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Le Marionette


          Lightening buzzed through his head and flashed in his eyes. Then as suddenly as it began, it stopped. He was shivering now, his body trembling like an aspen leaf in the breeze. His parched throat screamed for water and his stomach had long ago given up its need for food.

          He attempted to open his eyes but they weren’t cooperating. How could he see the bright light when they were still closed?  He was so confused, he couldn’t remember anything. How long had he been here?

          His only clear memory was meeting his contact at la taverne just outside of Paris. How long ago, he had absolutely no idea. All he could consciously recollect was the dank smell of the floor below his head and the unrelenting dark. And the pain.

          And the voices, especially the guttural German voice giving orders, or so it seemed. A familiar voice had been in the background, he thought, but everything was so very confused and fuzzy.

          “Take your medicine,” the familiar voice said. “Take your medicine,” it repeated in a monotone.

          Unable to utter a sound from his parched throat, all he could do was nod his head, which began splitting into what seemed to be a million shards of sharpened glass. He felt another buzz begin and instinctively froze.

          “Enough,” the German voice ordered. “Do not let this exercise fail.”

          “Yes, Sir, I will not disappoint,” the familiar voice replied. “He must be moved.

          “Use the van. Go to the old cottage. It begins now,” his boss declared. “I will report to Hans in the morning. It is late in Brazil now.”

          He felt himself being lifted from the damp floor, for which he was temporarily grateful. It appeared that they climbed a set of stairs and then, he breathed in the most gloriously fresh air.  He remembered being strapped into a seat belt and the vehicle moving, but then the world became black again.

          “Easy, my friend, easy,” Serge soothed. “Une petite quantite un moment.”

          He struggled to understand and tried to speak, but Serge stopped him. “You have question, yes? I will answer, but you must drink the hot soup first. It will help you.” After the soup, he fell into a deep, black sleep.

          Carefully opening his eyes, he slowly looked around to orient himself. He was in an old cottage, and from the lack of noise outside, he assumed in the country. Serge was asleep in a chair with his feet up on a small table. Why was he in a strange place and what was Serge doing here with him?  He vaguely remembered being fed some hot soup, but most everything else was so fuzzy. He didn’t even know what day it was.

          “Finally you wake,” Serge stated as he stood.  “Do you wish coffee?”  Without waiting, he poured two cups of strong coffee and handed one over. Reaching for the coffee necessitated moving his head, which seemed to explode in pain.

          “You have a headache?” Serge inquired and handed him some pills. “Take the medicine the cartel was able to obtain – they will help.”

          “The cartel?  Why would the cartel obtain medicine for me?”

          “Because, my friend, you work for them. You and I are undercover with those Interpol idiots. It is an unpleasant task, but someone must do it.”

October 28: Gathering of the Clan

          “Paris, the lovely lady, the city of love,” thought Sara Toth as she stepped out of the Charles de Gaule airport and turned to her husband, John.

“Well, what do you think?” she demanded.

          “It looks the same as any other city so far,” he replied honestly about his first view of Paris from the airport. “What do you think, Sport?” he asked their thirteen year old son, Ivan.

          “Cool,” he replied with a toothy grin.  “I’m really looking forward to seeing all the sights. And,” he continued, “to meeting Sylvain. BB said that Sylvain could show me some of the stuff that you old guys really don’t want to do.” At that, he chuckled to himself, fully expecting a retort from his parents, most particularly his mother.

Predictably, she rolled her eyes and sighed patiently. “You are stepping on very thin ice, my young friend,” she said in her educated British accent.

          Deciding that changing the subject would be a very wise move, Ivan pointed. “Here come Uncle Mike and BB now…”

          Their group turned together to the direction that Ivan was pointing, and observed as a tall, stately, impeccably attired, white-haired man marched towards them. Beside him, a younger, blonde carbon copy matched him step for step. There was no doubt whatsoever that they were father and son, and the pair was the object of a number of admiring glances as they crossed to meet their family members.

          “Hey, Bro,” Mike smiled broadly as he hugged John. “How was the flight?” His brother owned and operated a flight rental service, and hated flying commercial. He preferred to fly himself, and Mike couldn’t resist a little dig at his younger brother.

“Commercial,” John replied with the smirk that Mike expected, “but it was okay. Are you enjoying living in Paris?” The reveal Mike’s biological father was BB (aka Flight Commander Merlyn Blackburn, RAF, Ret.) had turned John and Mike’s family in a totally new direction, a direction that they were all still exploring.

“Yeah, got lots to tell you later.”

“It is a pleasure to see you again Sara, and you too Ivan. Sylvain is waiting for us at home – are you ready to go?” BB asked.

“Absolutely!  I’ve even been studying my French!” Ivan replied with great enthusiasm. “Sylvain has been helping me to understand French on email and I’m helping him with English. I can’t wait to see everything.”

Smiling at his enthusiasm, BB placed his hand on the youngster’s shoulder and whispered, “He is excited to meet you as well. You will both have a blast!” Ivan giggled.

When he first met the very imposing elderly gentleman, he had been incredibly intimidated. BB had been revealed to be his Uncle Mike’s biological father. Not only that, but he was a spy!  A bona fide, head honcho spy for British MI6, now retired. The truth of the matter was that he had discovered that BB was very cool and nice too.
Sylvain’s dad was dead and BB had taken him and his grandmother into his home and his heart. Sylvain had shared with Ivan some of the things that BB did for them on more than one occasion. He now very much admired BB.

“How will we get all of us into your car?” John asked.

“Where there is a will, there is a way,” BB replied mysteriously.  As he spoke a sleek black limo rolled to a stop beside them. The driver of the limo exited the vehicle and was greeted with smiles from the newly arrived family.

“Steve!” John exclaimed. “Aren’t you planning a wedding right now? I didn’t think that we’d see you until then!”  The brothers embraced in reunion. Steve had been revealed to be John’s half brother almost a year earlier, and that revelation had prompted the truth about Mike’s parentage as well. And they had BB to thank for being the catalyst to ending the decades old lies.

“Mimi and her mother have everything in hand. I felt the need to escape, and BB took pity on me and for my situation,” Steve replied with a grin and a shrug of his shoulders.

Until recently, Steve had been an MI5 operative based in London. With his resignation from the service, he had moved to Paris where he was planning a new life with his fiancee, Mimi. Together, they were planning on starting a business that utilized both of their unique talents. Mimi owned an interior design company, but occasionally she worked for her brother, Maurice, as an operative for Interpol. They were all spies.