Looking at the clock on the wall, Annie started clearing her desk when her phone rang, the direct line to her desk. Thinking it was Joan or Calder with another last minute assignment she was reluctant to answer. Still a little too early for her to have left for the day, she pickup, "Annie Walker."
"Agent Walker, this is your favorite FBI agent Vincent Rossabi."
"And what to I own this pleasure?" With a touch of mockery, he was anything but favorite.
"Don't sound so cheerful to hear from me. We have a dead body on our hands."
"How is that connected to the CIA, we not in the dead body business." Annie was quick with her witticism.
"Well you seem to collect a few but I do need your help. A trunk traveling on an international flight from Spain went unclaimed at Dulles Airport and started smelling up the place. FBI and Home Land Security were called and it has fallen into my lap."
"All very interesting but still doesn't answer my question. Why call me?" Annie wishing to end this going nowhere phone conversation.
"Because in the man's pocket was a crumble piece of paper with a DC address and this phone number."
With a bit of astonishment Annie uttered softly, "My phone number?"
"Yeah. Now are you more interested in my dead body?"
"You know I am." Annie replied quickly.
"Good. The body is in route to autopsy at headquarters and if you will meet me there, have a look to see if you know the gentlemen."
"Sure, I'll the there." Annie hanging up her phone and looking to see if Joan was in her office. Annie was going to fill her in on the little she knew about the dead man. No, she must have left early. Turning to head to Calder Michaels' office when he came rushing out of his doorway.
"Got a second?" Annie hastily catching up to him.
"Not now Annie catch me later." He was hurriedly gone down the hall to the stairs, the door slamming behind him.
"Well damn." She muttered putting on her coat, scarf and gloves she was ready to face the bitter cold that was sweeping the Washington DC area. A major snow storm was barreling down from Canada the predictions of ten to fourteen inches or more by tomorrow. This was not the way she was planning on spending New Years Eve although she didn't have any real plans. Her normal buddies, Auggie and Eric were on vacation. Auggie had traveled back to the Midwest to visit family and Eric, not sure what he was doing. Snow was beginning to fall when she pulled out of Langley headed the FBI building, crossing the Potomac River she was glad to be heading into Washington, a short stop at the Hoover Building and then onward home to Georgetown and warmth.
Standing in front of the J. Edgar Hoover Building, pulling her hat tighter she took a deep breath, how she hated this place. The last time or any time for that matter have been very unfriendly and she was sure this wouldn't be any different.
"Waiting on a special invitation? Come on in before you freeze." Vincent had walked up behind her.
"This place has always given me the willies."
"Well you can get in here. I can't even get into Langley so many deep dark secrets." Vincent leading the way into the building to elevators. Taking the elevator trip down to the bowels of the Hoover Building to autopsy and underground morgue. Annie being amazed at the size of the facility, never knowing there was a morgue buried under the stately building on Pennsylvania Avenue.
"Hello Rossabi. You here for the trunk man from Spain." An attendant dressed in blue scrubs greeted them.
"Hi Malcolm. Yes and this is Agent Walker."
"Cheers to you on such an awful evening. Weatherman says we are in for a monster of a storm. Glad I'm pulling the all night shift." He showing them to a room to wait. "We only got the body a minute ago so give us time to do our thing."
"Sure, go ahead. There is an evidence bag with the body, can we take a look at it while we wait."
"You know the rules, let me log it in first than you can inspect it." Malcolm vanished through double doors.
"Did you run finger prints at the scene?" Annie now questioning Vincent which didn't set real well with him.
"You know full well I did and that were no hits. The man is a spook. That's why you are here."
They waited in silence, neither one even trying to make an attempt at conversation. What was there to say, how is the spy business or how about the criminal business, take down any big bad guys recently. Annie found a magazine to thumb through with a steady rhythm while Vincent played with his iPhone.
"Body is ready and here is the evidence pocket." Malcolm returning to the waiting room. "The initial X-ray scan shows a chip implanted in his upper arm but we have to wait for the doc to do the slice and dice before you can have it. With this storm who knows when that will be. Anyway, our Mr. Trunk Man will be here in the cooler. Follow me, it's viewing time."
Annie and Vincent taking a close look at the man's face. "No, sorry Vincent, I have no idea who the man might be."
"Well there is nothing more found on his body but this slip of paper. Why would he have your phone number?"
"Good question. The address is here in Washington?"
"Yeah. In an upscale area." Vincent keying the address into MapQuest.
"Let's go have a look. He wouldn't be going there anytime soon." Annie immediately turning into full blown detective mode, she wanting answers especially since the man had her phone number.
"Or ever. Let's go before the snow gets too bad." Vincent helping Annie with her coat. "We'll take my SUV."
The DC streets were overly chaotic with slippery going making the trip to Woodley Park section of Washington slow going. The temperature falling at rapid speed, they both knew this storm was a wicked one, no doubt a biggie for the record books. Vincent with admirable maneuvering skills twisted his way through the snow covered streets.
Finding the upscale apartment building, an older mansion type home that had been turned into three flats, one on the first and second floor and the third flat being on the third floor, a small floor space but oh what a view. Taking the elevator to the third floor and to the door, apt. 301. "Here we are." Knocking on the door but no answer.
"You know how to get in, it's an electronic key pad."
"Simple." Vincent pulling a small spray canister from his leather shoulder bag. "Never leave home without my FBI imagery bag."
"Image anything that could go wrong and this bag has the answers."
"Like breaking and entering." Annie watching him spray something on the keys and bingo the ones that are used most reflect in yellowish-green glow.
"The man's dead, we are investigating."
"How do you know this is his apartment." Annie still with the questions but not doubting this was the dead man's flat.
"Quiet girl, I need to concentrate, besides this was your idea." Vincent pushing numbers on the key pad. On the fourth try they heard the lock click. Opening the door gradually, easing his gun out of the side holster, he yelled. "Hello, anyone home, FBI." Still no answer.
"Shall we go in?" Annie giving Vincent a slight shove.
"Stop pushing, I'm going." Vincent whispered stepping into the apartment with Annie close behind almost stuck to him like super glue. "Anyone here? FBI." He shouting again.
Leaving Annie standing in the living room, he quickly went about clearing the other rooms, a kitchen, bedroom and bath. The apartment was clean and light in color, mostly white, Scandinavian modern style straight out the IKEA catalog. Annie looking around seeing the place was void of any personal items, no pictures or magazines, newspapers, just books in a bookcase and she guessed for decorations, titles not indicating a man's choice.
From the bedroom Vincent yelled, "In here Annie."
Annie closing the front door and hearing it lock automatically thinking that was strange but then it was a key pad combination number to open it. Walking into the bedroom, another sterile room empty of any signs of someone's living quarters she found Vincent standing in front of double open doors leading to another smaller room or oversize closet.
"It's a closet." Annie coming to stand beside Vincent.
"Do you see any clothes, shoes or even a tie rack."
"Strange isn't it." Annie taking a step just inside the room.
The room configured in an L shape with shelves on either side, empty but for a few file type boxes. Wanting to investigate more, both Annie and Vincent walked deeper into the room heading to the sharp left turn that would expose the bottom of the L.
Crash... Slam... Whoosh... Click. Total pitch black darkness. They were trapped.
"What the hell." Vincent turning on his heels.
"Boobie-trap." Annie standing very still, not daring to move.
"You stepped on a pressure plate."
"It could have been you. Don't blame me." Annie fired back not taking the blame.
"Doesn't make any difference, we are trapped and too damn dark to see anything." Vincent taking out his iPhone and with the tiny light it gave off he looked about, seeing the obscure outline of Annie as she pulled out her iPhone.
A screeching ear piercing scream came from her. "What the shit. Another body." She yelled and staring at a pile of human bones on the floor of the L.
Vincent moving to have a look. "Come on Annie, you should be better at recognizing a medical skeleton. See the bones are wired together." He held up the skeleton and giving it a shake, "A dancing partner."
"Cut it out, we are in trouble. This is not time to joke."
"Might say it's our dead man's skeleton in the closet. Can't do anything else." Vincent laughing at Annie seriousness.
"Don't run your battery down playing with Mr. Bones. Call you fellow G-men and get us out of this mess." Annie had put her phone back in her pocket.
"No can do Ms. Walker."
"What do you mean, no can do. It's easy, just dial the FBI number and request assistance."
"Can't. I'm already in hot water with another search and seizure without a warrant. This will surely get me unwanted leave time."
"But the man is dead."
"And we have no identification on him and no clue if this is his apartment or not. FBI doesn't work on gut feelings. Hard facts lady, just the facts." Vincent powering down his phone and now they stood in total darkness.
"The note in his pocket led you here, doesn't that count."
"Still no warrant to enter the apartment. What about you calling your fellow spooks and get some help."
Annie didn't answer, just dead and awfully dark quiet.
"What about it Annie, give Langley a ring for some help."
"I can't call either. First CIA has no jurisdiction to operate on US soil and second I didn't quite follow protocol."
"To notify my boss when working with the FBI. I'm like you, sort of in hot water for not following protocol."
"Oh great, sooner or later someone is going to find two dead agents huddled together in a locked room. Guess this is a waiting game as to who will break down first and call for help."
"I have a lot of fortitude." Annie with a determined retort it will not be her.
"As do I. Would you like to make a wager on our little game."
"Glad we have our coats, not only dark but cold."
"Why heat a cell. I bet you a dinner that you will be the first to break." Vincent not getting off the wager bit, he was sure Annie would break first.
With one of the biggest snowstorms to DC and Vincent making light of their confinement, how dare he, she was getting really annoyed with him. Huffing in complete frustration at Vincent, she was about to say something when at that moment her phone buzzed. "An incoming text." She announced as she pulled her phone from her pocket.
"Hi Neshema, just landed in DC for a week stay. How about dinner Friday night? E."
"Our guardian angel has just text me." Annie's smile of delight showing on her face in the dim light of her iPhone. A combination of happiness of possibly seeing Eyal and he may be the one coming to their rescue. He has always come when she was in need of help and here he is again, fate. She quickly texting back.
"Friday is good. If you are not busy tonight I need see you. A."
"Hey I like that, can't wait. Hold on to that thought going thru customs. E."
Annie thinking to herself, maybe I should have rephrased that text but I did get an answer back. "It will be a while before we know help is on the way."
"Good and hope whoever it is can keep our predicament hushed." Vincent deciding to sit on the floor, this may take a while.
"Oh yes for sure."
Twenty minutes went by before her phone rang again, this time voice, not text. "Glad you called back."
A way too cheerful and deep sexy voice floating into her ear. "You texted sound promising or as usual you are in need of my skills."
"Why do you always think I need you for something other than a friendly chat." Annie could almost see the leer on Eyal's face and it seemed to annoy her more now. She need him to help her but why did she have to feel so guilty about asking.
"What trouble are you in now?"
"Oh funny Mr. Know-it-all." Annie not wanting to admit she was in desperate need of him, his skills as a spy. "But yes I do actually need you to help me out of a sticky dilemma."
"You know you could have picked a better night. It's a blooming hollowing blizzard out here."
Annie paused, not sure what to say next, "It is urgent and I will own you."
"I've stopped counting for all I will own you times. Tell me where you are." Eyal voice being his calm reassuring tone, the one that put her mind at ease. She gave him the address and apartment number.
A long hesitation on Eyal's part before responding, "Seriously."
"Yeah, you know the place?"
"Yes." Eyal responded curiosity and concern very apparent in his tone, "Don't touch anything and are you okay?"
"I'm fine and the quicker you can get here the better."
"On my way Neshema, may take a while because of this damn blizzard, almost white out conditions."
"As always." Eyal disconnected and Annie decided to join Vincent on the floor.
Two long agonizing hours ticked by, two hours of Annie's mind twisting and turning over how Eyal sounded when hearing the address and his comment about not touching anything. Did he know what this place is and if so what? He had asked her if she was okay, why would he do that. She at times would be astonish and total confusion at the things Eyal was informed of, things she would think he knew nothing about but now she had other things to ponder.
"Do you have any idea what this place is and why a locking vault type room?"
"A few but I would only be speculating. Wish we had decent light in here so I could take a look around."
"You think this may be some kind of a hold up for terrorists."
"That's you clandestine CIA thinking is it. No I don't but high probably illegal."
Annie fell quiet again, talking with Vincent Rossabi wasn't giving her much reassurance. Maybe she should think of happy things, that what her big sister Danielle would tell her, 'Think happy thoughts.' She had enjoyed her visit with Danielle and the family during Christmas so that's what she would think about, her happy Christmas. Funny, that is what Eyal had told her once went they had been held captive in Somalia. 'Close your eyes Neshema and think pleasant remembrances'.
A red flashing light brought both to their feet.
"What's that?" Annie half whispered and half cried.
"Warning alarm I'm sure. Someone possibly opened the front door." Vincent's voice although calm did have a touch of apprehension. Vincent pulled his gun to wait.
The soft click of the lock and the right side of the double outer doors open, the bright light glaring in almost blinded the two caged detainees, blinking and squinting to see the outline of a tall man standing on the other side of the bared second set of doors. Vincent raised his gun, still not being able to focus on his target.
"Put that damn thing down, kids shouldn't be permitted to play with guns."
Eyal voice, that wonderful low pitch voice was music to Annie's ears. "Eyal, you made it."
"Said I would come. Now what kind of mess have you gotten into and with that person." Eyal was never one to pass up on an opportunity and this offered a grand chance for him to have some fun and make a few deals with Vincent.
"Vincent Rossabi, FBI Special Agent."
"And I'm Eyal Lavin, Mossad and if my recollection is correct, which it always is, you were the most unpleasant person at our last meeting. Let's see if I have the list right, I was man handled, lock in an interrogation room for hours, told by you never to return to the US and obnoxiously escorted to a plane for a one way flight to Tel Aviv."
"Yeah and if I remember right, there were several dead bodies which included my key witness and you didn't stay on the plane but return to shoot a man."
"Never proven I was the shooter. CIA Agent Jai Wilcox admitted to the shooting."
"Annie did I hear him call us 'Spooks'. Yeah I kind of like that. A world wide team of phantoms running about saving the population from evil."
"Will you two just stop your bricking. Eyal please, let us out of here." Annie quickly growing weary of their bartering. Her hands tightly grabbing the stainless steel bars and pressing her face as close to Eyal as the cold steel would allow.
"Told you not to touch anything." Eyal gently tapping her on the nose. "Now as I stand here and view this situation it just seems a bit strange to me. Want to enlighten me about what lead you to being locked in a private vault?"
Annie and Vincent just stood there, both looking strangely embarrassed, perplexed and frustrated. Annie's feeling this was FBI business and Vincent should be the one to tell him, however, Eyal seemed to know more than he was sharing. Searching her mind for the correct way to phrase their circumstances as it was clear Vincent wasn't about to tell Eyal anything.
Eyal shifting his stance and folding his arms over his chest. "You want to tell me what's going on here?"
"Yeah," Annie finally said, having no choice but to be forthcoming.
"Don't Annie, it's FBI business." Vincent whispered in Annie's ear.
"Go ahead Annie, tell me. You seem to be the level-headed and cooperative one." Eyal with a congenial smile for the first time since arriving at the apartment.
"There was this trunk on an international flight from Spain that contained a dead man. No identification but a crumpled piece of paper with this address and my direct line phone number at Langley. Vincent call me to see if I could ID the body and that is why I'm involved."
"Did you take a look at the body."
"Yes and I don't believe I've ever seen the man before."
"Did your little spy instances happen to snap a picture of his face." Eyal asked with curiosity
"Of course I did." Annie reaching in her pocket for the iPhone. "Here, this is the dead man."
Eyal taking the phone from Annie and looking closely. "Has an autopsy been done?"
"No, not yet. May take a day or two." Annie answered.
Eyal nodding and then handing the phone back to her. He turned without a word and walked out of the room, out of earshot.
"He's not leaving us is he?" Vincent a little concern.
"No but I'm sure he recognized your dead man."
Maybe fifteen minutes passed before Eyal returned. There was a very unnoticeable smirk on his face to most anyone but only Annie could see it. The type of smirk when Eyal had the upper hand and deals were about to be made, she had been the object of such deals before or part of them. He was a master of getting what he wanted without much effort.
"You know who the dead man is, don't you?" Vincent asked.
"I do and answer me this. I am going to assume your people followed routine prep of the body and X-rayed him. Was a chip still in his upper left arm?"
Reluctantly and after some hesitation Vincent had to answer. "Yes and it is still there."
"Good." Eyal opening the other wooden door to allow more light into the vault. Beginning to pace back and forth, moving his hand to stroke his chin, making quite a play of his actions, having way to much fun with their imprisonment. "The way I see it, the only reason I'm here and not any FBI or CIA folks is both of you are here illegally. With my well educated guess about American laws would mean Agent Rossabi doesn't have a valid search warrant. Am I right?"
With a painful utterance, "Yeah, you're right."
"Now with Agent Walker here and knowing the absurd piles of protocol the CIA has, she has once more bypassed a few steps and didn't inform her superiors she is working with the FBI. A big no, no within the walls of Langley."
"You are setting us up for something. What is Eyal."
"Glad you asked Annie. I have arranged with Mossad to intervene with the FBI investigation of your trunk man, and the autopsy will only be performed with the presence of a rabbi and Mossad agent, that being me. There has to be an investigation by the FBI and you Rossabi will ask for the lead since you are already on the case. Now because the dead man is Israeli, you are going to ask for Mossad assistance and request me."
"Why would I want to do that. I don't need Mossad and especially you to interfere with my job."
"Very simple. You see I will take Annie and leave you here, locked away in a Mossad safe house without a warrant to be here. As you so admirably reported, Annie and I are spooks and we banshees have to cover for one another, you know, vanish into the night without a trace. Once Annie is safe at home, I will return to find an intruder and call the police."
"Mossad safe house, damn it all, that is blackmail."
"No blackmail is way too harsh of a word. It is more like negotiating a workable agreement between two outstanding agencies. Building lasting respect and friendship between America and Israel."
"Take the offer Vincent. He is a handing you an olive branch and believe me something total out of his character."
"Who is the man in the trunk?" Vincent still pushing for any answers but to no avail.
"Only after we have an agreement."
"It's blackmail but okay, you win. We have an agreement." Vincent extending his hand through the bars toward Eyal.
"Fine." Eyal shaking Vincent's hand. Removing a key from his pocket, Eyal unlocked the steel bared doors. Quickly rekeying the code for the vault. "Let's get out of here and if you have any plans of driving one black SUV with sneaky tags, forget it. A metro snowplow has buried it under four feet of snow."
"How did you know it's my car?"
"I know a lot of things and one being the numbers of sneaky tags the FBI uses." Eyal couldn't help to give him one last jab.
"Where is your car?"
"Underground parking and that is where it is going to stay. Only fools would be out on the streets tonight and being it is New Years Eve they would be drunken fools. Only forty minutes before the magical click of the clock welcoming in the new year and I know a place to properly welcome in 2014."
"Lead on and I'm hoping there are drinks being served." Annie taking Eyal by the arm.
"What choice do I have. Lead the way." Vincent following out the door and onto the snow covered street, hollowing wind and driving snow.
Dapper Dan's Den neon sign being snowed over only showed a red halo glow through the snow gave a warm welcome to three extremely cold beings. The four block hike was to say the least unpleasant but the mere thought of waiting drinks keep them trudging on through the snow. The bar and grill only had a few customers all being stranded and the bartender with a wave to his new arrivals came around with a big bear hug for Eyal and exchange of words in Hebrew.
A large screen TV displayed the gathering in Times Square and swirling snow all waiting for the giant ball to drop. Finding a comfortable both, Vincent, Annie and Eyal order drinks, Eyal's being a hot rum tardy to thaw his freezing body. Vincent order a tall mug of Heineken and Annie with Scotch and soda.
Eyal fulfilling his part of the bargain and told the identity of the trunk man, a Mossad agent that had gone missing and a tip he was headed to US. That is the reason Eyal was in DC, following a lead and good intel. The bartender came with their drink order and they sat quietly, nursing their drinks.
"This is much better. It feels too good to be inside and out of this god forsaken storm, it is really out of control." Vincent was the one to break the long silence. "Perhaps I need to call the wife." He pulling out his cell and speed dialing. "Hey honey, sorry I'm not able to make it home tonight. You watching the big ball drop?" A pause before he continued. "Be home as soon as I can get my car dug out of a pile left my one of our infamous metro snowplows. And don't worry about me I am okay, love you. Good night."
"Didn't know you were married." Annie with her sweet smile.
"Eighteen years now." Vincent looking at the big screen, "It is starting to drop."
Everyone in the bar starting to watch the ball slowing inch down, "Happy New Year" was shouted out, glasses clicked and Eyal giving Annie a kiss, not just a friendly kiss but a loving passionate kiss. Unexpected to Annie but no resistance, it was welcomed with an equality passionate kiss.
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
and days of Auld Lang Syne.
For Auld Lang Syne, my dear
for Auld Lang Syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet
for Auld Lang Syne.
Everyone now standing and singing out, wishing one another a very happy new year with happiness and health. Maybe not what Annie had in mind but it turned out fine. Another round of drinks, they all settled in for a long night. Vincent musing that there was more to the Eyal / Annie friendship than meets the eye and understanding her defending him at times. If she liked him well he can't be all bad.
Eyal and Vincent chatting and seem to enjoy their conversation. Annie being just happy to snuggle against Eyal with his arm around her, holding her close to him. Vincent starting to lighten up with Eyal, thinking to himself that this Israeli is a likable soul of sorts after all. As Annie drifted off to sleep, Vincent and Eyal spent hours drinking and talking. A mutual friendship was bonded that night, maybe not a trusting friendship but a workable friendship.
So all's well that ends well. HAPPY NEW YEAR.