Part II - Chapter 07 - Remembering How to be a Spy

The previous day's train ride

Brisco was unsure what to expect when he arrived in Miami. While it was true that Brisco was part of the burn notice process, it was only known to a small group of people that it was done to root out spies from foreign countries.

In the past decade there had been numerous advancements. Not only had technology evolved at a rapid pace and across the western world but social classes were becoming pictures of a dying age with the rise of a “middle class.” However, despite the positive changes in the world, there were many military and economic advisors to the president who felt like the European elite and royal families were finding new ways to express dominance over the other. Watching the royals amass wealth, new technology, and military advancements, had made many presidential analysts worry that the royal greed would grow beyond nationalism. That a large war was on the verge of sparking, one spanning across countries and implementing larger armies and new weapons. Brisco felt that if it did occur, it would be unlike any other war in history.

To make matters worse, there was a growing concern that the war would not remain on the other side of the globe. Reports were coming in that the labor disputes may not just be anarchists but perhaps operatives of foreign countries looking to sabotage the political and economic systems of the United States. Unfortunately, there was yet to be any solid proof, just rumors. Between the rumors and what foreign analysts were predicting about the rising tension in Europe, the president decided that the signs were troubling enough and assigned Michael to go undercover.

Michael could pick his team while under cover and as Brisco was part of the scheme to accuse and to shame Michael, Brisco could not join this mission. Besides which, it was going to be a long process, at least 7 years.

Brisco had wired ahead to Michael’s handler, Jesse, in order to get in touch with Michael for some help. Jesse would let Brisco know if they had the “all clear” to head into Miami. Although with or without Jesse’s blessing, Brisco had already determined that his small trio was going into Miami as he felt that he owed it to Bowler. Brisco continued to think through an outline of a plan and responded in monosyllables to Doc’s ongoing inane questions. Just as Brisco was sure that a demand for a response was about to occur, Brisco was saved by the click of someone opening the train compartment door. Brisco raised his hand to shush the group. While it was clear that Brisco’s counterparts did not want the conversation to end, the room was quick to quiet down to ensure that confidential information would not be revealed.

A waiter came in and began to pass out saucers and cups stating that Brisco had ordered coffee. Just as Brisco was about to state that he had not ordered coffee and would not be paying for it, a coffee cup was placed into his hands. He looked down at the cup and there was a small sheet of paper inside with two words. “Chuck Finley,” Brisco’s old code name. So, it appeared that he was not only welcome to Miami but would be playing a part while in town. At that, he took the coffee carafe and poured it into his cup making the tiny sheet of paper rise to the top. Brisco took a long sip and swallowed the sheet of paper.

Knowing his behavior appeared unexpected and rude to the occupants of the small train compartment, Brisco covered his behavior by innocently asking, “What? Did you want coffee?”

After arriving in Miami, Brisco kept an eye out for a contact to provide a message about the mission at hand. “What trouble did Mikey get into? How would Brisco fit into the plan – as despised informant or as a new character? How would Brisco be able to balance spy craft and a rescue mission? Is it even be possible to do both?”

Brisco shook the anxious thoughts from his mind. If he didn’t pay attention, he could miss the contact. As if on cue, Brisco spotted her, Fiona. While most people would be difficult to identify in a dark veil and dress at night, Fiona could still be identified by her thin form and short stature. She was walking in the opposite direction so it made it easy for Brisco to trip into her path. In a matter of seconds, Brisco was able to apologize and muttered something about the moonlight as he feigned an apologetic handshake. Fiona did not reply but returned the handshake to surreptitiously palm a message to Brisco. She waved him away as though she were too important to be bothered by a town visitor and Brisco tipped his hat as she pushed past him. Brisco was able to then sneak the note into his coat pocket as his traveling companions continued towards the hotel, unaware of the secret information transaction. Brisco hadn’t missed a beat during the brief encounter but within moments, Brisco began thinking, “I certainly don’t miss all of this cloak and dagger bullshit.”

Only a minute later, Brisco heard the sound of Doc asking a question but the question was too soft to make out.

“What’s up Doc?”

Doc cleared his throat. “All of this travel is making my throat hurt. Do you know if our hotel rooms will have kettles in the room or at least, room service available for ordering tea?”

Brisco rolled his eyes and exclaimed, “Believe it or not, I don’t know. I have never been to this town before, so I have never seen this hotel or what services they offer. It’s not like I can pull up photographs, a list of amenities, and guest reviews out of thin air before a visit to a new town in order to decide on the perfect hotel.”

“Sometimes, I hate this time period” an increasingly hoarse Doc moaned.

They walked into the hotel and Brisco grabbed the guestbook before Rachel or Doc could reach the hotel desk. Brisco used his old alias “Chuck Finley” for the reservation and paid extra to ensure that the only name in relation to the rooms would be Brisco’s alias. Best to not involve Doc or Rachel, thought Brisco. They would need to be available to rescue James in case Mikey’s mission took longer than Brisco anticipated. In fact, Brisco could not get a better clue of what to expect until he got to his room and could read the paper away from curious eyes. The hotel manager read the name and looked up with recognition and anticipation. Brisco tipped his hat, unsure if the look of recognition meant that the hotel manager was on Mikey’s side or with the anarchists. The paper felt as though it was beginning to burn a hole through Brisco’s jacket and he shooed his traveling companions upstairs towards their rooms. Brisco gave his friends their keys as he assigned rooms to Doc and Rachel, the 3 rooms were side-by-side and Brisco took the middle one so that he could keep both individuals within earshot. He told them goodnight as he watched them enter their respective rooms. As excitement and impatience grew in Brisco’s stomach, he could almost swear that Rachel was intentionally moving slowly to drag out time before going into her room. When Brisco finally watched both doors close and lock, Brisco felt safe enough to enter his own room. As soon as Brisco entered his room, he threw his bag down and dug out the piece of paper.

C.F. – Weapons Sale Begins Tonight at 10. Meeting at Saloon Across Street. Hotel Staff Unfriendly.

Brisco looked at the clock on the wall and noted it was only 9:30 pm. Brisco paused as he listened to the rooms on either side of his room but both were silent. If Rachel’s room was silent, it would mean that she was either passed out asleep without changing clothes or she was listening on the other side of the wall. Based on her curiosity and slow movements, Brisco guessed the latter. Doc’s room was also silent but based on the sore throat and Doc’s normal state of attire, he might very well be asleep in his clothes.

Brisco lit a match and burned the note before taking off his shoes and laying down in the bed to stare up at the ceiling and consider what clues he had gleaned thus far about this mission. The fact that the train waiter and Fiona did not introduce themselves to Rachel and Doc and that neither individual were mentioned in the note, it was clear that the locals did not want Brisco’s companions involved in whatever scheme which was underway. That gave Brisco a bit of relief. Rachel and Doc could stay out of any harm’s way, rescue James, and hopefully keep James out of any trouble.

Hotel staff unfriendly,” did give Brisco some concern. There would be eyes and ears in the hotel so any communication about American agenda or about technology from the future would be catastrophic to discuss. It also meant that they might be in danger if Brisco left the hotel. The thought of danger left Brisco’s mind almost as quickly as it arrived as he thought of Rachel. He had watched her beat up so many men on Hollywood sets that it not only made Brisco smile but helped put his mind at ease. Rachel would be able to keep Doc safe while keeping an eye out for James’ arrival.

As Brisco began to think again about what the mission might be, old missions that he worked with Michael and Fiona came to mind. In the past, Mikey would say things like, “As a spy, it’s critical to know your team. If you know your people inside and out, you can work together in emergency situations without a lot of background, such as key individuals, targets, or mission updates.” It was hard to believe that it had been 8 years since the two had worked together. That was enough time for skills to rust or information about old spy buddies to fade. Brisco hoped they had not forgotten key elements of their friendship and knowledge of each other, otherwise the likelihood of surviving the mission would radically decrease.

“Of course, I could be worrying about nothing,” came the logical thought to Brisco’s mind. If the deal was supposed to occur at 10 pm, maybe Brisco would just play a small part and move on. Be the face of a traveling salesman for a couple hours and then Michael and Fiona could help Brisco locate and rescue James.

Brisco looked at the clock. 9:50 pm. Maybe if he arrived early, he could get a better idea of what to expect during the Miami stay before the weapons sale. Besides it had been twenty minutes and still not a sound from either Rachel or Doc’s room. Clearly the girl and the scientist had gone to sleep. Brisco quickly put his shoes back on, washed his face in the basin, grabbed his gun and quickly left the room. Brisco moved to stand in front of Rachel’s door for a moment, debating to tell her that he was going out and to ask her to guard Doc. But after an internal debate, Brisco decided to let the actress sleep rather than risk her following him to the saloon. Mind made up, Brisco descended the stairs and out the hotel door to find the saloon.

- - - - - - - - -

Brisco entered the saloon and immediately spotted the impeccably dressed Mikey who was sitting at a table for 4. As a spy, Mike had picked a table where he had the best vantage point of the entire area between the mirror behind the bar to the angle that he sat his chair. In fact, he could probably even get a view of the outside through the bar’s window. Michael, always calculating and always on the defense.

Brisco sat down as Michael poured a drink for him from the whiskey bottle on the table. As Brisco sipped his drink, Michael began to speak in an Irish accent, “There’s not much that I’ll be sayin to ya before our meetin.”

Brisco sighed. Not only would he not get details before the meeting but this was clearly involve the Irish Citizen Army, ICA for short, f Irish accents were involved. Brisco knew that there had been uprisings with the Irish Transport & General Workers Union recently and it seemed that Ireland had an increased restlessness and were renewing their efforts to become independent of the British Empire. If the ICA were looking for weapons, it could be the sign of more factory bombs or other anarchist behavior which the government was working to hide from public awareness. It could also be an indicator of international weapons trade to Irish nationals working to be freed from the British Empire. Either way, this group would be truly dangerous.

Brisco and Michael began to talk of mundane items such as travel and the weather since Michael made it clear that he would not be explaining anything until later. But it helped Brisco get an idea of the role that he was about to play. Based on the lack of a handshake and the only greeting being a curt nod from Michael, Brisco would be playing an acquaintance and not a long-time friend. Additionally, Brisco was recruited to play a shady character based on Michael’s coldness towards Brisco. Brisco had already pieced together that Michael was posing as an Irishman, based on the lilt. However, the lack of signals from Michael about Brisco’s lexicon and accent, meant that Brisco would be an American.

By the time the remaining two chairs were filled by the men Michael was expecting, Brisco felt that he had enough background of his story to muddle through this meeting. As Michael poured drinks for the other two men, Brisco could study the added table members. The two men who joined the small party were both Irishmen, with bowler hats and wore their handguns proudly. They were not dressed as well as Michael, but both were wearing suits. Both men were clean shaven with dark bushy eyebrows to go with their brown hair. The only things that really stood out to Brisco was that the main man who was speaking had a narrow and pointed nose with a round face while the other man had more of a fat nose with a narrow and well-defined face.

Brisco was able to make speedy observations about the Irish men in a manner of moments and had barely missed the initial small-chat between Michael and the newcomers. Brisco was able to make one last observation before the business meeting officially began. Based on their lack of handshakes, Brisco realized that the character he was playing had an ill reputation that had preceded the introduction.

“So, this is the chap, eh? I thought he’d be dressed more as a dandy,” one of the men stated as his eyes critiqued Brisco’s clothes.

“Last I checked, you’re here to look at my merchandise not to say ‘yes’ to how I dress,” retorted Brisco.

“You found enough time to drop off your girl and young man at the hotel,” said the second man as Brisco continued to enjoy his whiskey. Clearly, this man wanted it understood that his people were everywhere, including in the hotel.

Brisco leaned back in his chair and gave his most charming and at ease smile. “Employees,” stated Brisco. “As a spy, when your opponent is determined to unnerve you by acting like they know more than you, it’s best to do the exact opposite. Show them that you are at ease with the world and have nothing to hide.” To that end, Brisco slouched further in his chair to make himself more comfortable and took another gulp of his drink. “Am I drinking alone here?” Brisco asked the group.

“Trusted employees?” asked Michael. He was staring down at his glass of whiskey, which he had hardly touched. The question clearly had a double meaning.

“I think what my overly cautious friend, Michael, is trying to ask is, will we be doing business with all three of you or just you?”

“Time to up the ante in this game,” thought Brisco before he said aloud, “Considering you have exchanged pleasantries amongst yourselves and didn’t bother to give me your names and have been watching me and my people during our short time in town, I’d say that I am the one who should be cautious. In fact, I still have not decided if I would like to do business with you. How do I know that you aren’t cops? Besides, I may not be loyal to a cause but I do have an obligation to my men and will not allow any unnecessary harm come to them,” Brisco finished the statement by crossing his arms across his chest in defiance. He was taking a chance of destroying Mike’s mission by not immediately agreeing to this deal, but he did not like the idea of a threat on Rachel or Doc’s lives. Brisco had people relying on him for safety and he could not risk their safety without knowing more about what the hell was going on.

Brisco looked over at Michael who had the smallest hint of an amused smile, but it was gone before anyone else could spot it. “There’s the Mikey I know,” thought Brisco. Brisco was relieved to see that Mike had not been lost in his undercover identity. Additionally, Brisco’s confidence increased as the craft of being a spy was coming back to Brisco much quicker than anticipated.

“I can respect that,” the first man stated. “We are all brothers in arms and it’s up to us to protect the men fighting on either side of us,” the man nodded in agreement. “Name’s Dean O’Banion and my associate is Snake Kinney.”

While they still refused to shake hands with Brisco, names had been provided and curt nods of heads which at least ensured that they had more skin in the game. “Now what?” thought Brisco as he finished his drink.

Luckily, Michael stepped in, “So, without further eloquence, let’s begin at the beginning. O’Banion and Burns are planning an upcoming event and they need you to provide the entertainment.”

“And that’s it?” asked Brisco, more stating the question than asking.

“Of course, there would be payment for services rendered and a finder’s fee to our mutual acquaintance,” explained O’Banion as he nodded to Michael. Michael lifted his glass in acknowledgement and finished its contents.

“As a reminder, I provide the equipment but I don’t entertain,” Brisco stated firmly. Brisco knew that he wanted as small a part as possible in this rouse as there was already too much on his plate.

O’Banion smiled, “Naturally.”

Brisco leaned forward and rubbed his hands together as though he were calculating time, equipment, and cost, “When would you need everything?”

“Yesterday,” Snake replied. His voice seemed unnaturally absent from any emotion and the coolness felt more like a snake, than a man. “Probably how he got his nickname,” thought Brisco.

O’Banion chimed in with a more positive and uplifting tone as though the four were old friends discussing an upcoming picnic, “What my associate means is that our event has a moving target date but we are hoping to complete our goal as swiftly and as efficiently as possible.”

“When you last telegraphed me, you said that you would be bringing everything necessary today, that we would have a demonstration by tomorrow, but that you would only finalize deals with the head of an organization,” Michael stated in a chastising tone.

“So, that must be it, realized Brisco, this purchase is an effort to bring out the wizard from behind the curtain.”

“That part is still true,” Brisco replied as he rubbed his chin before changing into an impish smile, “I need to look into the eyes and shake hands when I make a deal like this, especially with the amount of money that I am losing on this deal,” Brisco complained in an effort to lean further into the part of a repulsively selfish merchant. “I mean the amount we were talking is fine but it’s not as much as I would normally receive for such an event-“

“It’s enough,” O’Banion interrupted. It seemed at the mention of funds, all good humor was erased from O’Banion’s face. “Besides, we are paying in the blood of our brothers not just in the cash that lines your greedy pockets.” O’Banion took a deep breath, looked down in his lap, and suddenly looked back up at the group, face as composed into a smile as possible. But even with the smile on O’Banion’s face, there was a hardness behind his eyes as though Brisco had crossed a line.

After a few more moments of small talk, O’Banion stood from the table before announcing, “Gentlemen, I think it’s time to call it a night. We have a long day tomorrow of demonstrations, and apparently, negotiations.”

The rest of the table stood and walked with O’Banion as he led the small party towards the back door. As Brisco finished the last of his whiskey, he saw that Michael was momentarily distracted by something. When Brisco turned to look in a similar direction, all he found was the small bar window peering out into an empty space between buildings. Brisco was forced to let the curious moment go to keep up the performance as a shady weapons dealer. Within moments, the foursome stood outside the back door which faced into an unlit alley. The Irishmen shook Michael’s hand and curtly nodded at Brisco before walking down the dark and deserted alleyway.

Michael pretended to light a cigarette and offered one to Brisco. Neither of them smoked but they needed an extra couple minutes to talk discreetly.

“It’s good to see you Brisco,” Michael said. His voice so low that Brisco could just barely hear it.

“We have a hell of a lot to catch up on,” mused Brisco.

“Unfortunately, the first item of business is the girl that came to town with you-“


“Yeah, she followed you to the saloon.”

“Shit! I was afraid she would nose her way into this. I was hoping she would be asleep while I met you here.”

“The good news is that we might be able to use your team to help us finish the mission.”


“Finally,” sighed Michael. There was a heaviness in his voice as though this mission took more out of him than any previous assignment. Michael looked at Brisco before continuing, “The President says that he wants me back in Washington. He thinks my experience will make me a strong strategist and operations man, especially if a war breaks out overseas.”

“God forbid,” muttered Brisco.

“God forbid,” agreed Michael. “Brisco, I gotta know. Is your group an asset or a potential liability to wrapping up this assignment?”

Brisco paused to reflect on his counterparts before responding, “Rachel is a good shot but feels that she needs to prove something most days,”

“Another Fiona, you mean?” chuckled Michael as Brisco nodded his head in agreement.

“And the other guy is a scientist. A complete civilian. He can’t even handle a hotel that won’t wait on him hand and foot. It’s like it’s his first time out of a lab, much less, outdoors.”

Michael considered the descriptions for a moment before musing aloud, “A scientist might actually come in handy for your cover. Slightly off subject, but I have an old acquaintance of yours in town.”

Something about the way Michael said “acquaintance” made Brisco uneasy. Before Brisco could query further, they heard a slight commotion around the side of the building. Upon turning the corner to stand between the bar and the next building, Brisco and Michael found Rachel knocked out and on the ground. Standing over the actress’ body was Fiona, scrounging for weapons.

“Fi was that really necessary?” asked Brisco feeling conflicted emotions of irritation and amusement of the situation.

“I don’t have patience for amateurs,” was Fiona’s quick reply.

“I don’t have the patience for anything to go wrong; not when we’re this close,” grumbled Michael as he ran his fingers through his hair.

Unfortunately, Michael had spoken too soon. Something caught Michael’s eye and he pushed Brisco further down the passage between the buildings and towards the hotel.

“It looks like my inside man just signaled that there is a problem at the hotel,” Michael explained. Dread filled Brisco as he took off in the direction of the hotel. He looked over his shoulder for just a moment to catch a glimpse of Michael picking up Rachel and place her into a Ford Model-T as Fiona climbed into the driver’s seat.

A few minutes later, Michael caught up with Brisco quickly before directing, “I can’t look like I’m on your side so I will wait for you behind the hotel. You and Kendrick will have to go in and handle whatever is going wrong inside. If they are searching your rooms, you may have to strong arm them out to keep them from discovering that the weapon we are selling doesn’t exist. If they realize that it’s not there, I’d advise you tell them that the demonstration is tomorrow and you are not so dumb as to leave weapons unattended. Remind them that you only sell to their organization’s boss.”

Brisco nodded his head to acknowledge the plan before Michael silently moved back into the shadows to ensure that his cover was not compromised. As Brisco reached the hotel doors into the lobby a familiar voice from the shadows sent a shock through Brisco, “Hellooo Brisco!”

Brisco slowly turned around and stepped into the light to confirm his suspicion.

It was Pete Hutter!

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