A Merry Christmas-To Catch a Spy Tale

The night chill bit into his hands gripping the handlebars; rain made travel on the narrow road difficult.  His peddling brought spray onto his trouser knees and dripped into already water saturated boots.  There was no feeling as to it’s invasion.  It was just the feeling of despair that fed his hurried increase of peddle movement that pushed his bike ever faster rush toward the light in the distance that promised final rest and relief.

The Haverston Inn made many a traveler welcome; this was no different on the surface. But it was special.  It was Christmas eve.  The warmth of the fire that crackled and cast a flickering light across the hearth; the magic of the Christmas tree neatly decorated made invitation of his arrival seem heavenly.  His greeting was one of familiarity.  “Brrr.  Its a bad night, Maria.”

“You got to get out of those wet clothes.  I’ll get some from your room; go sit by the fire.” Maria was efficient and soon returned with dry clothes, a pair of wool socks and slippers.  She had a huge bath towel and began the process of covering his nakedness as he began to disrobe.  His shivering soon abated.  “I have some hot coffee on the stove and I will make some eggs and ham.”

The guests were all in bed she told him.  She sat with him while he devoured the food and sipped a few cups of coffee.  “Ah, that is good!”  He dunked a sweet bread in the coffee and munched on it until it was gone. ” I was up the cove and according to reports, we were expecting a sub any night now.  Why?  Lydia doesn’t know; she had to kill the agent.  It was unavoidable.  But all hell will break loose as the home office can’t tolerate murder under any circumstances.  Still, we can’t take any chances because they would not risk using a sub unless it was top secret and of grave importance to their whole operation here.”

He said she had made his acquaintance at a breakfast luncheon; her beauty let his guard down.  Maybe he figured she might be a good recruit for their operation.  In any case, he had a little too much to drink and she was able to persuade him that she was unhappy in her domestic wifely duties.  She hinted that she missed being adventurous.  As clever as he was, she managed to convince him.  Anyway, things went good until he had an associate follow her to headquarters.  She sensed something wrong on their next visit.  You know- woman’s intuition.  Maybe it comes from her chess talent.  Regardless, he apparently poured two drinks and she felt his nervousness.  She said she heard a noise at the door and he got up to check it out. She switched the glasses.  After he returned and he gave a smiling toast, they drained their glasses.  Lydia  said he started to laugh and then suddenly stopped, staring at her and died.  No regrets.  No joy either.

“Lydia gave you knowledge of the sub but what made you hurry here?”

“She was almost certain that Haverston Inn was a final meeting place.  She suspects someone to be the agent she was unable to get the name of but saw a message that was written on the Inn’s stationary she found in his desk.  It was luck that they were so careless as to use that communication source.  It may have been dumb but might be the only chance to catch a him or her.  Headquarters believes that agent is to board the sub loaded with top secret documents that would embarrass their embassy should we be able to intercept it.  We have been hoping to obtain proof of that connection.”

The morning saw fair weather. The rain had stopped but not the chill. The guests all came down for breakfast.  Maria had prepared eggs, ham, sweet breads and rolls, setting them on a serving table aside the large dining set.  The coo-coo clock worked on an hour setting and her record player provided short Christmas tunes.  All seemed normal of a daily breakfast scene.  Maria had taken their coats and placed them on her bed, it being her personal abode.  She returned to see all the guests seated and engaged in chatting and eating.  Now, all the guests were local townspeople.  But Maria smiled telling me she knew who the suspect agent was.  All the guests looked somewhat stupidly at this comment–all but one.  Maria called the local police.

“My darling, girl!  How were you sure of the spy’s identity?”

“Quite obvious, Watson! It’s a case I would call: ‘The Knife and Fork Caper.’ You see,  all the guests switched the fork to their right hand after cutting their ham.  He did not, cutting the ham with his right hand and eating it using the fork in his left hand while holding the knife in his right hand.  That is foreign to our etiquette.  A subsequent check of his clothes by the police uncovered a micro-chip.”

“Darn it. Had to blow my nose.  I think I need a doctor.”


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