Authors: Wolf Wootan
Tags: #thriller, #assassin, #murder, #international, #assassinations, #high tech, #spy adventure
“It wasn’t supposed to turn out like this,
Hatcher, but now I have no choice. You’ll kill me if I give you a
chance,” said Gaines, his voice trembling.
“Before you kill me, tell me why they wanted
her dead, and what happened to her mother and sister?” Hatcher
groaned, trying to delay the moment, as his hand felt the handle of
the gun in Kat’s shoulder holster.
Good girl, Kat! I hope there is a round in
the chamber. It may save my life so I can square things for you.
But not likely. Can I draw this weapon, pull the slide, and get him
before he gets me? Probably not, but I have to try! Maybe I can
distract him somehow.
It looked very bad for Hatcher as he
peered into the hole of the silencer on Gaines’ pistol. Hatcher
grasped the butt of Kat’s gun and suddenly his hopes soared. It was
not her Sig Sauer semi-automatic in the holster, but her Colt
Gaines answered his last question. “As for
the mother and sister, I have no idea what happened to them. We
didn’t send anyone there to pick them up. As for this slut, they
thought that once you got her out of Germany, you would quit the
Company. They thought if the Stasi killed her, you would have no
reason to leave. In fact, you would have a good reason to stay.
They figured you would want to stay and take revenge on the
“They are right about the revenge part,
asshole. A lot of people are going to die because of this,” said
Hatcher coldly. He pulled Kat’s revolver, flicked off the safety,
and shot Gaines between the eyes.
“Starting with you!” spat Hatch.
Hatcher’s mind went into overdrive. Kat’s gun
was not silenced, so the noise of that shot would draw attention
quickly. He took Kat’s gun and put it her right hand and used it to
put four more bullets into Gaines’ face, obliterating it beyond
recognition. She would now have powder residue on her hand in case
anyone went to a lot of trouble to reconstruct what happened here
today. He left the gun in her hand as he lowered her gently to the
“Goodbye, Kat darling! Forgive me for leaving
you here like this, but I must go now. I love you!” he said with
emotion. He stripped Gaines’ body of identification and then
disappeared into the shadows, heading for his car two blocks
• • •
An hour later, Hatcher was in a seedy bar not
far from the Berlin Wall. He belted down two stiff bourbons to help
calm the rage boiling inside him. He tried to reconstruct the
events that had just shattered his life. Gary Gaines had tipped off
the Stasi about the defection. He said he got the order from John
McGinnis in London. McGinnis would never give such an order on his
own. That meant the order originated in Langley from James Gramble
himself, the Director of all NOC agents in the world! How did
Gramble figure out that Hatcher was going to quit after Blue Moon?
It was unimportant in the bigger scheme of things. The real tragedy
was that Gramble would think Hatcher was naive enough to fall for
such a scam. Well, he would quit anyway, but now on different
terms—his own. He would start his new life—albeit without Kat and
his child—just as he had promised her. First, there was other
business that needed finishing.
• • •
At 8:00 P.M., Hatcher found a public
telephone that had nobody near it at the moment. It was 7:00 P.M.
in London, so his party should be home by now. Using Gaines’
international phone credit card, he dialed a number that he dredged
up from the banks of his photographic memory. It was John
McGinnis’s home phone number, a number that was monitored by most
intelligence agencies in Europe. McGinnis knew it was tapped, and
he left it that way so he could disseminate disinformation when it
suited his purpose. He had a different, secure line that he used
for Company business. So when his unsecured line rang at 7:00 P.M.,
he assumed it to be a social call of no importance.
“McGinnis,” he answered cheerfully.
“McGinnis, Gaines here. Blue Moon was a
disaster! I told you not to fuck with The Hatchet Man,” said an
excited, slurred voice. “The girl is dead, but so are a Stasi agent
and The Hatchet Man! All hell will break loose when the other NOCs
find out that you set up the Hatchet Man! I’m disappearing! Don’t
even try to find me!”
McGinnis was red with rage. Blood vessels
were standing out on his forehead. He knew every word of this was
being recorded on a dozen or more tape machines. He hung up
immediately, but he knew the damage had already been done. He would
have liked to have had more details of what really happened, but
not on this phone.
That fucking Gaines! Why did he call on this
line? Hatcher dead? I told Gramble this was a bad idea. Now every
fucking agent in the world will think I gave the order! I had
better call Gramble. The shit is really going to hit the fan! What
time is it? Two P.M. in Virginia. I don’t want Gramble to hear
about this from the KGB or Stasi!
• • •
Hatcher smiled when McGinnis hung up on him.
He knew that would happen, but he got the key words on the line
first. The intelligence community would now believe that The
Hatchet Man was dead. They would assume the man with no face was
him. The Company would start looking for Gaines in a frenzy, but
they would never find him. That chapter was closed. On to the
Friday, August 17, 1984
James Gramble, Assistant Deputy Director of
Foreign Assessment, was pacing back and forth in his office,
unhappy with the situation in which he found himself. Not many
people, even within the CIA, knew that his title was a smoke screen
for his real job—Manager of the Black Money Fund and a dozen or so
NOC agents. Authorized covert, or black, operations were run out of
another department. Those operations had Presidential approval and
were carefully managed by the appropriate high-level officials.
The tasks performed by Gramble’s agents were
never officially acknowledged as CIA operations. Complete
deniability was a must. His operations were blacker than black. He
reported to the Deputy Director of Operations (DDO), and received
his assignments from him, but the DDO never asked for any of the
details of a mission’s execution. This made John Gramble a very
powerful man. He could assign missions to agents that served his
own agenda if he wished, and no one would ever know about it. He
had access to large amounts of money to be used for assignments,
but an accounting for this money was never required, except in the
broadest sense, because officially the money did not exist in any
Gramble was an ambitious man with his eye on
the office of the DDI (Deputy Director of Intelligence), since he
was certain that they would never make him DDO. He was barely
five-foot-three, and some said he had a Napoleon Complex; he was
pushy, controlling, and could be obnoxious in meetings. The
activities of the last six days were threatening his ambitious
goals. First, a call from McGinnis in London informed him that two
Stasi agents were dead, Bob Hatcher was dead, and his lead contact
agent in Europe had quit and disappeared, but not before blabbing
everything on an unsecured phone line. Now, every intelligence
organization worth its salt knew that The Hatchet Man was dead.
Champagne corks were popping all over the secret world of
Second, he had talked to McGinnis in London
the day before, finding out that six Stasi agents and a KGB Colonel
had been killed during the days since Hatcher’s death. The KGB and
Stasi were blaming the CIA. McGinnis claimed it was not any of his
agents taking revenge, unless they were lying to him. Then, who was
it? The DDO had made a rare call to Gramble this morning demanding
an explanation that he could give to the DCI, who was bugging
And now, the final straw! He had just been
informed that McGinnis was found floating in the Thames, cause of
death unknown. It was officially deemed a suicide. Gramble’s world
had become a nightmare in just six days!
What’s happening here? It
should have been a simple job. The
take care of the bitch, their
own defector. Hatcher kills a couple of them for revenge. Hatcher
doesn’t quit. We go on as usual. That damned Gaines fucked up
everything, and now he’s gone. But I’ll find him and tie off that
loose end! What’s the real story on McGinnis? And who is trying to
start World War III? Shit!
Gramble decided he had better get out of the
office before he got any more calls. He would go home and have a
drink. There would be no one there to bitch at him; his wife and
two daughters had just finished the first week of a two-week
vacation on Cape Cod. He was supposed to fly up tomorrow and join
them for the weekend.
• • •
Gramble pulled his car into his long, curving
driveway and hit the button on his garage door opener. The double
door opened smoothly, and he pulled his Lincoln into the garage and
parked next to his Jaguar. He got out, then locked the car. He
deactivated the alarm system on the entry door and went into his
house, flipping on the hallway lights as he entered.
He strode straight to his den, which doubled
as his home office. He had a wet bar in there. He switched on the
lights and froze where he was. A man was sitting in the comfortable
leather wing chair in front of his desk. The chair had been turned
around to face the door. The man was big, about six feet plus, over
200 pounds. He had a full beard, neatly trimmed and very short. He
had a drink on the table next to the chair and was smoking a
cigarette. On his lap, he had a semiautomatic pistol with an
Shit! I’m a dead man! That looks like Bob
Hatcher, even though I haven’t seen him in a while. But it can’t
be! He’s dead! It must be someone who resembles him.
“Come on in, Jim, said the spider to the
fly,” the man in the chair said. “Fix yourself a drink. You’re
going to need it. Then, sit right over there.”
He pointed to a chair that had been moved to
a spot so the man in the chair would have a good view of it.
“Put out that cigarette. There’s no smoking
in the house,” said Gramble.
The man laughed, knocked an ash into the
saucer he was using as an ashtray.
“What? You’re worried about dying of
second-hand smoke? You’ll never live long enough for that!”
Trying to get himself under control, Gramble
went to the bar and mixed himself a strong drink. Then he swaggered
to the indicated chair and sat down. He was trying to not show his
“How did you get in here? The security system
was still armed,” said Gramble, stalling for time.
“Most of the assignments you gave me required
much greater skill than it took to get in here, Jim,” the big man
“Then, you are Hatcher, aren’t you?” gasped
“Hatcher is dead. Didn’t they tell you? He
died in Berlin along side his fiancée, the woman carrying his
child,” the man said coldly, ice dripping from his voice.
“Jesus, Bob! She was pregnant? I didn’t
know!” Gramble pleaded, very scared now.
“Would it have mattered? I don’t think so. I
got the truth from Gaines, and it was confirmed by McGinnis before
he took a dive off that bridge,” Hatcher sneered.
“You talked to McGinnis? Then maybe you know
why he committed suicide?” queried Gramble.
Hatcher did not answer.
“If you are here, whose body was that in
There was still no answer, just smoking.
My God! He killed Gaines, and then made that
call to McGinnis to purposely make everyone think he was dead. Then
he went to see McGinnis in London and got confirmation that I gave
the order to kill Klaus; then he killed McGinnis. Now he’s here to
“I can explain this, Bob,” Jim Gramble
blurted, his hands sweating.
“Don’t even try. Lying to me will only make
matters worse. Believe it or not, I know how that warped, pea brain
of yours works. You found out about Kat and me and guessed
correctly that I would quit when I got her out. You couldn’t allow
that—for many reasons—and you figured if the Germans killed her, I
would stay on the job for you. So you set us up. It might have
worked, except when I told Gaines that she was pregnant, he lost it
for a second and blurted out the wrong thing. When he saw my eyes,
he decided to kill me, or be killed. That sealed his fate. Everyone
who was directly involved in Kat’s death, and the baby in her womb,
is now dead. Except you.”
His hazel eyes bore into Gramble’s very
frightened ones. Sweat was pouring off Gramble. The silence was
thick. Bile rose in Gramble’s throat. He never carried a weapon any
more, not that it would do him any good. The man facing him was the
most deadly man in the world. Better men than Gramble did not have
a chance against him. Those that had tried were all dead.
Finally, the man spoke again.
“I have thought a lot about killing you, you
short, sniveling bag of shit. How much pleasure it was going to
give me. But then I thought, ‘What do I do afterwards?’ I have some
money salted away, and I’m good at changing identities, but what
kind of job could I get? Then I came to the conclusion that you
might be more useful to me alive rather than dead. At least for a
He took a drag off of his cigarette, and took
a sip of his drink. He let Gramble think about what he had just
“Did you just say you’re not going to kill
me?” Gramble nearly blubbered.
“There are a lot of strings attached. First,
I know what you are thinking—that if you can live long enough to
get to a phone, you’ll have me tracked down and killed. Not an
option. I have a journal that includes all the details of every
sanction you ever ordered—names, dates, the whole enchilada. If I
don’t call a certain number once a week, that book will be
delivered to the Washington Post and the Attorney General. Two, you
don’t have anybody good enough to send up against me. I would spot
them, take them out, and then get you. Three, in addition to my
journal surfacing, I have a hit on your wife and daughters already
in place. After they are savagely killed, and after you suffer a
while, knowing that you caused it, the same hit man will take care
of you. So don’t even think of telling anybody that I’m alive, or
trying anything against me. Is all of that perfectly clear?”