Cabot and Haman are convinced that Jaramillo fled to Argentina. CIA experts believe she’s in Cuba or the Soviet Union. What neither of them know is that the KGB is also hunting Juanita. And they want her neutralized before she can tell the Americans that there’s a mole in the FBI’s counterintelligence division.
Clips from INNER LOOK
Tuesday, March 11th, 1986, 0355 Local Time, San Diego
Rebekah Haman sat bolt upright, panting as she threw off the down comforter. It wasn’t a nightmare, but something had caused her to brain to shift from deep sleep to wide awake. She sensed something was wrong as she swung her legs over the side of the bed. Before standing up, she eased open the drawer and pulled out the loaded, Belgian made Browning BDA pistol Josh had given her for home defense. With her right thumb she clicked off the safety, knowing there was already a round in the chamber.
Her first stop was the living room to make sure the front door was still locked. Once she was sure that no intruders had broken in there, Rebekah took a deep breath and walked on the balls of her feet to the boys’ bedroom. Scanning the room, she listened until she could discern the difference between Sasha’s and Sol’s breathing. Then she checked Sara. All clear.
Relieved, Rebekah went to the kitchen and poured a small amount of white Rhein wine into a glass and drank it in one swallow, savoring the fruity, almost sweet taste. Back in the bedroom, she lay on her back, wondering what had woken her up.
Thursday, April 10th, 1986, 1750 Local Time, Reston
Juanita picked up an order of moo shu chicken at a neighborhood Chinese take-out restaurant on the way back from work. After dinner, she lit two white votive candles on the center of the island in her kitchen and gazed at their wavering, golden radiance meditatively, wondering if it was God’s design, fate, or simply a coincidence that her mother and father passed away on the same day, twenty years apart. Today was the anniversary of their deaths, and the memories flooded back….
Her husband had just come back to the U.S. after flying as a C-47 co-pilot during the Berlin Airlift and they’d stopped in Wilmington on the way to his new assignment—a B-26 squadron at England Air Force Base in Alexandria, Louisiana. Her father pulled her aside, out of hearing from her mother.
“Juanita, your mother is very sick and is going to die soon.” She could still hear the anguish in his voice as if the conversation had happened yesterday. Dr. Jaramillo had known there was no cure. Three days later, John left to report to his new squadron—alone.
After eight painful months of watching her mother suffer from ovarian cancer, Juanita got on a train to Louisiana with a three-year-old boy whose only memories of his grandmother were of a dying woman withering away. He would never know what a wonderful woman his Abuela Rosa had been.
Even though Rosa Jaramillo knew she was dying, she never wanted to go back to her birthplace. “Everything is better in America” was her favorite saying. Both Juanita’s parents had thought dying in America was better than living in Argentina under Juan Peron. They’d regarded the job offer from DuPont as a blessing from God. Life in America gave them prosperity and brought them back to the Catholic church. Rosa said it was God’s will that she was dying and considered herself blessed, because she’d got to live and now die in America.
That night after the funeral, Juanita heard her father puttering in the kitchen of the house Rosa and he had lived in since they’d arrived in America. The light in the living room beckoned her and she saw her father sitting in his favorite chair with a glass of wine in his hand.
Juanita sat on the ottoman in front of him and held his hands. Tears were streaming down his cheeks as he spoke. “I am going to find a company that is researching drugs that cure ovarian cancer. And then, to the end of my days, I am going to find a cure for this terrible disease. That is the promise I made to my Rosa. This way I will remember her every moment for the rest of my life.”
Within a year, Dr. Jaramillo had sold the house in Wilmington and was moving to be closer to the laboratory where he would be working. From then on he never took a vacation, and only took time off when Juanita brought his grandson to his house in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania once a month.
At each visit, she could see his obsession and the strain of working sixteen hours a day or more in the lab take its toll. Her pleas, often accompanied by tears, for him to retire or at least slow down were firmly, politely refused with, “Here in America, it is better. Better facilities, more money, and one day, I will find the cure for ovarian cancer.”
Dr. Jaramillo wouldn’t admit it, but Juanita was sure her daily calls after dinner woke him. She suspected he was napping and then working at his desk before going to bed after midnight.
During their visits, her father would interrupt a conversation or leave the dinner table to go make a note in one of his research notebooks. The trips got harder and harder, because each time Juanita got in the car to go home she had to stop to cry. At first she tried to hide it from John Jr., but then gave up. Juanita’s instincts as a mother told her that her father would soon be gone. John Jr. would try to comfort his sobbing mother; he too, could see the toll that work was taking on his grandfather.
On April 10th, 1968, her father’s laboratory assistant called and struggled not to break into tears as she told Juanita that Dr. Jaramillo had had a massive heart attack while working in the lab. He’d died on the way to the hospital. He had just turned seventy-two.
The Same Day, (May 2nd) 1945 Local Time, Washington, DC
ChristiAnna paused to look at her reflection in the full-length mirror. She knew it was vain, but it was one more chance to check her make-up and admire the black leather coat she’d just bought for cool, windy nights like this one. Satisfied, she curled the manila envelope into a C and slid it into the large, left side pocket of the coat before locking the door of her three-story townhouse and stepping out into the night.
Although it was only a half-mile, ChristiAnna took a taxi; she didn’t want to walk that far in her high-heeled boots. As she sat wedged into the corner of the back seat, she noticed the cabbie eyeballing her in his rearview mirror. Yes, she thought, take a good look at my long, freshly shaved legs; you will never touch them.
She had left a message on an answering machine two days before to signal she had a delivery ready; today a man had left a phone number and extension. When ChristiAnna dialed the number, the operator had said “Downtown Hyatt.” That was all she needed to know for the drop; the extension would be the room number.
ChristiAnna stood just inside the front door and looked around the lobby as she unbuttoned her coat. Seeing no one she recognized, ChristiAnna headed for the elevator, knowing her long strides, particularly in a mid-thigh length skirt and boots, would attract many a male’s attention.
The quarter-inch thick envelope slid easily under the door of room 1630. Relieved of her burden, ChristiAnna took a deep breath and headed for dinner with a friend.
Monday, September 15th, 1986, 0708 Local Time, Moscow
General Volkov was at his desk in KGB’s infamous Lubyanka headquarters. The air conditioning still hadn’t been fixed. He’d been told the parts that had arrived didn’t fit, and there was no estimate when the proper ones would be found or arrive. I’ll bet the CIA doesn’t have this problem!
Volkov ran his hand across the top his head and it came away wet with sweat. Was it the temperature or the decision he had to make? Juanita Jaramillo, as much as he appreciated the information she’d passed to his country over the years, had gone from being an asset to a liability. In the old days, the First Directorate would have either kidnapped or assassinated her, depending on which option was easier. Now, wet work on foreign soil had to be approved by the Politburo.
He wasn’t sure what to do. None of the choices were very good if his last effort to throw the Americans off the scent failed.
The Same Day (September 19th), 0428 Local Time, Buenos Aires
The Navajo C/R’s black paint gleamed in the yellow arc lights of the ramp as Josh did a quick walk around, checking the oil in both engines, making sure the fuel tanks were full, the controls were in working order and there were no fluid leaks. While he did this his three passengers loaded the twin-engine airplane.
Josh was adjusting his seat when Marty stuck his head into the cockpit. “Just like old times. I talked to Zantag. He is fit to be tied over the lack of help from the FBI and CIA. He approves what we are doing and wants us to call him when we get to Mendoza. I’ll tell you more after we get airborne.”
“Do you think we were followed here?”
“Yes. I’m almost positive, but the gate closed before they could get in. This place is like a fortress, but I don’t want to wait around while they hop the fence or manage to get clearance.”
Josh handed Carlos a set of laminated cards held together by three chrome rings and asked him to read the engine start check list.
It took only a few minutes to get the engines started and taxi the six-passenger airplane to the end of the runway. With their clearance acknowledged and the takeoff check list complete, Carlos keyed the radio and spoke Spanish slowly. “Jorge Newbery Tower, Navajo Lima Victor X-Ray Kilo Romeo is ready for takeoff.”
“Navajo Lima Victor X-Ray Kilo Romeo, cleared for take-off. After takeoff, fly heading three-two-zero and climb and maintain two thousand meters. Squawk three-two-one-five and contact Buenos Aires departure on one-two-one point five when able. Buenos noches.”
As Carlos was reading back the clearance to the controller in the tower, Josh lined up the Navajo’s nose wheel with the white lights that marked the runway’s centerline. Then it was time to give his new copilot instructions. “Carlos, back me up on the throttles. That means that you put your left hand on the throttle quadrant and if you feel them start to slide back, tell me.”
“When I say ‘Wheels up’, you take this little wheel, pull it out and then up. When the three green lights go out, tell me, because that means wheels are up and locked. Then when I call flaps, take this lever and do the same. When this dial goes to zero, it means the flaps are up. And, if any of these lights,” Josh pointed to the caution lights at the top of the instrument panel, “come on, tell me.”
“Here we go.” Josh pushed the throttles up slowly and ignored the sharp pain in his shoulder. He waited a few seconds for the turbo chargers on the three hundred and fifty horsepower Lycoming engines to spool up. When the manifold pressure on both engines reached thirty-three inches, he released the brakes. As the Navajo accelerated, Josh adjusted both throttles so the two needles on the manifold pressure gauge lined up at thirty-six inches.
Josh used the rudders to keep the Navajo tracking down the centerline as it gathered speed. “Eighty knots, rotating.” Josh eased back on the yoke and the nose came up. The rear wheels rolled another couple of hundred feet before the Navajo left the ground. A glance at the instrument panel said the plane was passing ninety-five knots and climbing at almost a thousand feet per minute. “Wheels up.”
Carlos pulled out the lever and pushed it up and into up detent. Josh eased the yoke forward to lower the nose a couple of degrees as he felt the airplane slow when the landing gear doors opened and increased drag. The Navajo was about one hundred feet off the runway when Josh felt the three bumps, signaling that the landing gear was snug in the wheel wells.
“Gear is up. The green lights are out.”
“Great.” Josh looked down and saw the airplane was accelerating past one hundred and twenty knots. “Flaps.”
Carlos moved the lever and watched the dial move toward and then stop at zero. “Flaps are up.”
One hundred and sixty knots. Josh glanced down at the engine instruments to check the attitude and heading indicators. Everything normal. He flexed his fingers on top of the throttles. One hundred and eighty knots. Here we go. Josh pulled back on the yoke so the Navajo’s nose was almost twenty degrees nose up.
The instruments showed the airplane was passing seven hundred feet and one hundred and eighty knots. The lights of the city off to the left were starting to show the street mosaic. Josh looked right, center and left; a flash of light off to the left caught his eye. “Shit!” He’d seen a flash like that before and knew what it portended. Reflexes took over as he shoved the nose of the Navajo down. “RPG!” The streak of fire was followed by a second, and then a corkscrewing third. “Heat seeking missile!” Josh yelled. Where the fuck did they get one of those? “Everyone hang on.”
The first rocket-propelled grenade went above the diving Navajo and the second passed behind it. It was the spiral motion of the third one that indicated it was a heat seeker hunting a target that worried Josh. He rolled the airplane into a steep, sixty degree bank to get the nose of the airplane pointed right at the oncoming missile. When it was about three hundred yards away, Josh banked steeply to the left and pulled the yoke back to pull two-and-a-half g’s to get out of the missile seeker’s detection cone. Josh knew the Navajo was certified for three g’s and could probably handle four or five for a few seconds, if needed. All he saw was the red-white exhaust flame as the missile streaked past the left wing. The missile turned hard as it hunted the empty sky for a target.
Out of danger, Josh leveled the diving Navajo at two hundred feet above the ground. It zipped over the airport boundary and headed out over the Rio de la Plata, still at full throttle and now well past two hundred knots.
“X-Ray Kilo Romeo, Jorge Newbery, are you still with us?”
Josh turned back west and eased the Navajo up so the attitude indicator showed it was climbing at ten degrees nose up and fifteen hundred feet per minute as it passed over the western edge of the city. “Jorge Newbery, Kilo Romeo is Okay. We just had two rocket propelled grenades and a heat seeking surface-to-air missile shot at us.” He wondered what the crew would make of that. “We’re climbing to two thousand meters and turning to three-two-zero.”
“Roger, Jorge Newbery tower. We saw the missiles. Security forces are responding. Good flying. We will give Blue Star Aviation a number for you to call when you land so you can file a report.”
Josh took a deep breath as he trimmed the airplane. At one thousand feet, he reduced the manifold pressure to thirty-three inches and the propeller rpm to twenty-four hundred. After twiddling with the prop levers to get them synchronized, he took his hands off the controls and flexed his fingers.
He looked back into the cabin and Marty gave him a thumbs-up. In the dim cabin light, he could see Juanita. Her hands had a death grip on the armrests and her face was white as a sheet.
Carlos looked at him with wide open eyes. “That was different.”
“Yeah,” was all Josh could say. His heart was pounding as hard as if it were trying to beat its way out of his chest. He didn’t have to look down to see his knees bouncing up and down uncontrollably.
Sunday, September 27th, 1986, 1458 Local Time, Washington
Spread out on the conference room table was a copy of every background investigation in this particular agent’s file. Two things had made Special Agent Goode suspicious and had drawn him back to his Pentagon office on a Sunday afternoon when he could be watching the Redskins play football against the despicable New York Giants.
One was that the neat, precise handwriting that had filled out each clearance form used the exact same words. It was as if the person was copying from one form to another. The other red flag was the lack of details in the notes from the agent who actually did the background check. Normally, there is a list of names to be interviewed and notes from each interview. The names were there, but the notes amounted to one simple phrase: “Applicant checks out.”
The application noted that both parents had been political refugee immigrants and were deceased. Whoever had done the background investigation should have checked with the local authorities to verify the death certificate. Nowhere in the record did he find that notation.
In frustration, Goode tossed his pen on the table as he drew the only conclusion that made sense. It was time for a road trip to Buffalo to do what others should have done.
MARC LIEBMAN, AUTHOR & SPEAKER
Marc is an experienced pilot and writer whose career as a Naval Officer and Naval Aviator, business executive, consultant and entrepreneur helped him fulfill his dream of becoming a novelist. In the novels, Marc creates stories with rich, interesting characters and puts them the proper historical and operational context. His books are memorable, exciting and fun to read.
HISTORICAL & MILITARY FICTION
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