International Writers Magazine: Spy Fiction
Honesty In Death
There was a dead body waiting for Harry in Prague.
All in all hed had better welcome parties.
through airport customs was the usual farce he had come to expect
from communist countries during this war they call cold. But when
he finally got through he was met by a different cold: the weather.
Harry stepped out onto the icy Prague streets in a flurry of snow
that settled lightly on the ground below and shimmered in the late
morning sunlight like a billion diamonds.
He began to pat
at his far too lightweight, London Spring Macintosh to circulate warmth
into his body and to highlight to the nearby StB, the state secret police,
that he was the Englishman they were no doubt meant to follow. Sure
enough, a couple of heavies across the road nodded to one another and
extinguished their cigarettes before acting inconspicuous. Harry smiled
in spite of himself at the predictability and began to walk to the police
Milan Prochazka was fat, forty-five and fed up. Harry could see that
the moment he clapped eyes on him and lied to him. He showed him the
passport that London Central had issued to him in the name of Harold
Price, solicitors clerk from Chipping Norton, and said he was here to
see his brother. Wearily Prochazka led the way down the stone steps
of the police station and into the chill air of the morgue. "This
way, please." He groaned as he led Harry to the metallic cabinets
that housed many of the cities criminals and nonces, revolutionaries
and insurgents, tramps and Jan Does. After a loud belch, that
reminded Harry to add flatulent to the list of Fs, Prochazka pulled
open the tray marked Price, David Angus
David Angus Price was officially from D Ops, or as official
jargon called them a Sandbagger or as departmental slang
put it Our Man In Deep Shit. He was one of the men London
happily sent in for missions that were under the wire. Infiltration
of enemy countries, assassinations, or in this case, theft of microfilm
from the other side. Thing was the other side werent too keen
on that kind of operation and made that known to Price. Harry looked
down at the still, pale blue corpse that lay in front of him. Not for
the first time, Harry had to count his blessings. That could so easily
be him, with Price standing here now pretending to be his brother. Back
in the day, when Ross had him over a barrel, the old man made it plain
that one avenue of SIS work that may be preferable to the long prison
stretch ahead of him care of Her Majestys Armed Forces, was that
of D Ops where the select flocked to after a career in the
However, it soon became clear to Ross that Harry had a brain and self-confessed
to a yellow streak, rather than having brawn and a vicious streak. And
so it was decreed that a trickster with criminal tendencies such as
his, was required for more intelligent, intelligence work. Harry was
glad. For one it meant that he didnt have a tag around his toe
right now, and for another it meant he didnt have to work for
old Rawlinson, head of D Ops. A tough former commando who
was, rumour had it, a pederast, but SIS forgave him his little foibles,
for he was a brilliant man' dontchaknow? Had a bit of a bad time
of it during the war, poor chap, never really over it. Its
amazing what the brass in their oak walled clubs would turn a blind
eye to for Queen and Country. It sickened Harry.
"This your brother? I need positive ID" rumbled Prochazka.
Harry nodded "Yes, yes it is" Cynically he thought to himself,
the life of a spy is never over. You lie as you live and you lie once
your dead. David Angus Price, just twenty-eight years old had no brother,
no wife and now no life. But what he did have was Harry standing over
him pretending to be his brother. There was no honesty in this game,
not even in death.
Prochazka placed a sympathetic hand upon Harrys shoulder. "I
had brother," he sighed, "Died during war," and the two
of them stood for a moment, listening to the stillness of the room,
before Prochazka sniffed loudly and facing Harry said; "It was
as written, your brother was run over by the tram."
"I see." Said Harry in a way that suggested he did not, and
he stared down Police Captain Milan Prochazkas fat forty -five
year old fed up frame until he received an answer in the shape of an
urgently whispered beseeching "Look, I dont want trouble."
"Nor do I," Harry said, sensing he could trust him, he decided
to open his gambit. "I want answers. I want to know why my brother
took a special interest in the tramlines of Prague, so special that
he was found inspecting one flat down across it? I, and our Mother,
would be grateful for any information."
Prochazka sighed again. It was like he was being slowly deflated, and
by the look of his figure Harry could see that that wouldnt have
been a bad option. "Look, I am police here, I do not want any trouble.
I do not want to investigate an international incident and I am sure
that you do not either, yah?" He asked broaching a hand out in
friendship. Harry took his hand and Prochazka said; "I am sure
your people do not want one either." So he had figured it out,
Harry was right to trust the old fox. "Do yours?" Harry asked
and received a dismissive wave as an answer.
"At this time, is not convenient. They have done what they thought
best I suppose. I am sorry. Stb, they are swines. Is not first time
they arrange such things"
"Was anything found on him?" Harry asked
"Only what is listed here," said Prochazka picking up a clipboard
from the table and showing it him. "You want any of these items?"
Harry glanced over them. There was nothing. "No, just the passport"
"As you wish" the policeman replied and added "StB get
the treasures then?"
Harry looked up from the list of items and nodded.
"Swines," he rumbled once more. "They will follow you
today, ja? Make sure you do this thing with no fuss. Please, no counter
attack, I want no trouble here, I have the townsfolk to consider, ordinary
"Youll get none from me, I am just here to identify my brother
and arrange transportation of his body to London Airport for buria.l"
Harry said, parroting the cover details with some mild cynicism.
Prochazka smiled at the Englishman, in recognition of a similar soul
and in appreciation that he was playing ball. "Good," he replied
with some relief. "Come we go and get belongings, then we arrange
flight of body back home," and he moved from the room.
Harry looked round momentarily, before his gaze rested upon Price once
more. Brave or foolish? Right now Harry could only see the foolishness
that is implicit in an early grave. Still, he knew Price didnt
deserve to be pushed under a tram by a foreign secret police. He was
doing his duty, what he felt was right and worthwhile and they killed
him for it. Slowly he pushed him back into the compartment and for a
moment stood there helpless in a state of limbo out of some accepted
notion of respect for the fallen, but with no clear idea of what to
do. If he was a religious man he could pray he thought. But what would
be the point? If there were a God he wouldnt be here now lying
to a cop and a corpse. Harry snapped himself out of it and quickly left
the room, he had work to do. He couldnt lie around all day.
© Mark Cunliffe November 2007
Man in Africa
The jeep bounced along the dirt road sending Harry up from his seat
and back down again with a crash. His stomach was not happy about this
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