International Writers Magazine: Fist Chapters
This the second
extract from a new completed novel by James Skinner on the Falklands Conflict
The first extract is here at The
The USA reverses course
large black and bulbous cloud spread across the capital. The temperature
dropped abruptly, allowing the midsummer humidity to rise and
burst through the front door. Within minutes, the rain was pelting
down causing crowds of porteños to scramble
for the nearest shelter. Shops, cinemas, bars and the odd church
gave refuge to soaked customers, the unfaithful and bystanders
The gutters began
to overflow as unclean sewage outlets, clogged up with debris added
to the mayhem. Cars and buses careering to reach their unknown destination
created improvised showers that spewed out at the odd pedestrian, still
caught in the downpour. The wind began its own show. Upturned umbrellas,
broken twigs and leaves, sodden newspapers and general rubbish danced
in the air to the sudden summer storm ritual.
Only one solitary figure was oblivious to the whole affair.
Commander Di Martino had been walking along the Avenida 9 de Julio for
hours and although bodily soaked; his mind was stone dry and focused
elsewhere. His unperturbed thoughts still glued to the murder case,
began to wander. He walked passed a sidewalk bench, stopped, turned
around and faced it. After a few seconds staring at the sodden wooden
planked object, he slowly sat down on it. He raised his head and continued
to stare into space. The water dripping down his face mingled with his
tears. A taxi suddenly stopped in front of him. The passenger opened
the door and scrambled to pay the fare at the same time trying to open
an obnoxious umbrella. A crowded colectivo behind it, just
managed to swerve in time avoiding a wet collision. Di Martino chuckled,
good old Buenos Aires; doesnt change. He drifted back
into his madness.
Noel opened the glass pained door with the Director CIA
inscribed on it, pushing Janets wheelchair ahead of him. Hello
Janet, said Casey as he stood up to greet her. Janet smiled at
her boss. Perky as ever, I see. He looked at Noel, treat
this lady good, Noel; shes the best weve got!
He turned and walked back to his desk to pick up a file. Ive
been trying to make sense out of Forresters murder. He turned
serious, you know Janet; I never was in favour of using amateurs
in this business. Operation Side-Kick was a mistake, and
now were stuck with it. He put the file back down on his
desk. So, you havent come to see me for routine fat chewing,
whats the latest?
Sir, as you know, Jerry Strickland took over from John a few months
ago. Unlike John hes one of the natives, born in Uruguay. The
Argentine and Uruguayan accents are undistinguishable and could pass
as a porteño any day. We made sure this time that
his cover was good and secure.
Well, things were going well until one day Jerry has the heat
put on him; this time from some obscure outfit run by a naval commander
called Di Martino. We checked Di Martino out. The guy was originally
a high ranking secret service director in the Argentine Navy fighting
Well? Go on!
Next thing is, he flips his lid and gets put in a loony bid for
just under a year. Hes released and goes undercover, forms a weird
outfit, snooping into US affairs. Strictly business and commercial stuff.
Janet asked Noel to get her some water. He complied, irritated at the
She went on, but one day, he turns up in Jerrys office and
scares the shit out of him. Babbles on about Forresters murder
she sipped some water,
tells Jerry to get the hell out
of Argentina! Janet could sense Casey was fuming.
Janet, whatre you leading up to?
Janet went on, a twist! Now the Federal Police pin Forresters
murder rap on some sergeant at the Presidency concluding that
Casey was all ears.
.the report said that John and this non-com had been having
an affair with the same woman! It was a case of vindictive jealousy.
Casey burst out, oh for Christ sake!
Thats not all Sir
What? Theres more?
Janet turned to face Noel, Noel will brief you on the details.
Noel opened the folder he had carried into Caseys office. He had
to make sure he painted a solid picture of the most recent events and
a strong solution for the future. After Stricklands meeting
with Di Martino, Jerry contacted us and we told him to come back home.
Pronto! He then went missing
he continued as fast as he
could before Casey exploded, but before he did, Jerry mentioned
a Colonel Jones at the Presidency as a possible ally. Theyd been
to school together. Casey was on the brink. Noel carried on, we
checked Jones out and sure enough, not only has the guy got a clean
record, he was for a few years a type of direct link into the White
House from the Argentine War Secretariat, keeping the President up to
date with their fight against the commies.
Casey interrupted, OK, OK, stop right there. Lets see if
I get the picture. A crazy naval guy was tailing Strickland chasing
clues on Forresters murder. The police then accuse some other
guy who was screwing Johns girlfriend. Strickland shouldve
been here by now and isnt. You now tell me we have to rely on
an Argentine Colonel to keep up the good work
Thats not all, Sir.
Dont tell me! said Casey, Johns alive
and well and in the Bahamas!
Janet ignored the sarcasm, the real issue here Sir, is
tried to bring back some order to the conversation, The bottom
line is, John seems to have come across a plot by some sector of the
Argentine military, and we dont know who exactly, to invade the
British Falkland Islands. I cant go into details because its
a bit vague. The point is that
Casey finally blew up, the point is Janet that we have a murdered
agent and another that has disappeared. I dont give a shit about
the British or the Argentines on their historical fuck ups. All I care
for now is that we find out where or what happened to Strickland.'
He went back to his desk. Holding his hand up at the two CIA officers,
he spoke over the intercom, Susan, get me Sam. Fast!
Sam Everton was on the phone to his boss. Noel and Janet kept silent.
Sam? Weve got an agent
one of the Side-Kick
gang by the name of Jerry Strickland. Hes gone AWOL in Buenos
OK, thats fine. Good. Casey put
the phone down. He turned his back on Noel and Janet and looked out
of the window. He eventually turned round and addressed them, its
out of your hands now. Good day guys! Noel and Janet took the
A coded message arrived at the US Embassy in Montevideo. It was addressed
to the Cultural Attachés office. It read, RESCUE
MISSION SECTOR 3 BUENOS AIRES. NAME JERRY STRICKLAND. INSTRUCTIONS TO
The rain had stopped, just briefly. Thunder continued pounding in the
distance. The city gradually awoke from the storm. Birds shook their
wings amidst the still soaking tress along the avenue. Di Martino was
stating into space. He had not eaten for two days. He felt thirsty.
It triggered him back. So much water pouring from heaven, and
Im dry inside, he thought. The flashbacks started again.
His alert mind kept skipping from nightmare to reality. What was it
his father had said? Let down? Why, for Christ sake, why?
And Charlie Gunther, his old submariner friend in Norfolk, Virginia,
ah yes. War is war
Then Gwens image, running
towards him, her long golden hair flowing behind her, as he rushed towards
her, repetitively flashed through his mind. Di Martino began to shake.
He clenched his fists as hard as he would. He was straining to keep
his eyes shut. He released the pressure. He slowly opened them. A little
girl was standing in front of him; just staring. Come on,
shouted her mother, from further down the pavement, leave the
tramp alone! That did it. Tramp! Tramp! Is that what I am?
He got up, still shaking; he smiled at the girl who immediately ran
off. He started walking in the opposite direction.
His senses slowly pulled together.
© James Skinner April 2006
If you want to know more contact the author. See First Extract here
The Goa File
More First Chapters
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