Spear Garden

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Chapter 2

CIA Headquarters

Langley, VA

08:00 (13:00 GMT)

April 21st, 2012

Thirty-two year old Blake MacKay strolled into the office of Mike Brennan, the Director of Clandestine Affairs and Blake’s Handler. Mike was on the phone and paced around his office. Blake wasn’t sure if he should sit down or wait outside.

“Hold on a second, Julian.” Mike cupped his hand over the phone. “Have a seat, Blake. I’ll be with you in a second.”

Blake plopped down into the overstuffed chair in front of Mike’s desk. Behind the desk, several pictures chronicled his handler’s career during the Cold War. Over the past few years, Blake had gotten to know Mike pretty well. Not only was Mike a great boss, he had become a trusted friend.

There was a photo of his handler accepting an award from Ronald Regan. At six foot one, Regan towered over Mike and his five feet, eight inch frame. I remember when I used to wonder if anyone ever gave him shit for his height?

Another picture showed Mike accepting his certification for his fifth degree black belt in Ju-jitsu. Mike still had the same physique as he did in the picture that was taken so many years ago. Well, if they did, they’d definitely know they made a mistake.

“Yes, sir. We will be discussing it. He just walked into my office. Thanks.” Mike disconnected his call. He placed his phone on his desk and ran his hand through his salt and pepper grey flat-top. He sighed and dropped down into his chair.

“Okay. No beating around the bush.”

Mike opened a folder and spun it around for Blake to see.

“Meet Mr. Prick, otherwise known as General Hector Vasquez. Formerly of the Cuban army.”

Blake reached over and picked up the folder and started to read.

“Gun runner, huh?” Blake asked.

Mike scoffed. “To say the least. He used to be a minor nuisance on our radar; didn’t really give a shit about him until recently.”

“So, what changed?”

Mike leaned back in his chair and got comfortable. “Let me give you a little background on him first. As a general in the Cuban army, he’s always had access to weapons. Unfortunately, it was his lack of conscience, overwhelming greed and appetite for the finer things in life that eventually got him to where he is now. He’s set up quite the underground enterprise.”

So far he doesn’t sound any different than most of the other assholes I’ve had to deal with. Blake continued to thumb through the file and took out photos that intrigued him.

“Go on,” Blake said.

“He started with smuggling weapons to the Colombian drug cartels, and the profits allowed him to buy protection from those higher up in the Cuban government who would turn a blind eye to his operation.”

Blake pulled out an overhead photo of a large house. “Is this his residence?”

“Yes. Gunrunning profits allowed Vasquez to purchase the land and build his estate on the south side of the Isle de la Juventud. It’s the biggest and the least populated of the three hundred and fifty islands that make up the whole fucking area.”

Blake opened his laptop and accessed the CIA’s internal satellite imaging system. He zoomed in on the island. “It looks like most of the inhabitants live on the north side of the island.”

“Right,” Mike said. “That makes it perfect for his operation. Ironically, that part of the island had been used by pirates and other lowlifes back in the day.”

“What are these fields?” Blake turned his laptop around.

Mike put on his glasses, leaned forward and squinted. “Hmph.” He leaned back in his chair and tossed his glasses on the desk. “That’s the funny part. He has a cattle ranch and a pineapple farm and they’re actually pretty lucrative. You and I would be sitting pretty with the money that he makes each year off of those.”

“I’m guessing he uses those to launder the money he makes from selling weapons,” Blake said.

Mike made a gun with his thumb and index finger and pointed it at Blake. “Bingo.”

Blake glanced back down. “This file dates back several years. You still haven’t told me why there’s a sudden interest?”

“General Vasquez has quickly become the largest supplier of weapons to the Mexican drug gangs, and those weapons have been used to mount attacks on the U.S. border patrol. They have also been smuggled into the United States and made their way into the hands of the stateside gang members. Taking out Vasquez and his operation would significantly hurt the Mexican drug gang’s ability to fight each other and the police. It would also give the Mexican police a better chance of rounding up and arresting the gang members.”

Blake tossed the file folder on Mike’s desk and sighed. “Well, I can certainly see where that would make things easier for the border patrol and the Mexican police, but I don’t see why we need to get involved.”

“Blake, do you remember those two U.S. customs agents that were shot recently?”

Blake winced. Both agents had families with children. One of the agents had a wife that just gave birth to a baby girl a few weeks prior.

“Yes, unfortunately.”

“The FBI traced those weapons back to Vasquez. The president wants this done correctly without any ties back to us. She insisted on our best man and requested you, personally. It’s time he takes a dirt nap.”

Understanding the need for this guy to go away, Blake reached for the file again and opened it to read more about his target. He sorted through more photographs when he came to a picture he hadn’t seen. It was a picture of a woman with olive skin and green eyes. She had long flowing brown hair with stop and stare curves.

Holy crap! “Who—is this?” Blake asked, as he spun the photograph around in Mike’s direction.

Mike chuckled. “I was wondering when you’d get to that. That’s his daughter, Adriana Vasquez. As far as we know, she’s not involved in anything to do with her father’s operation. She either ignores it out of choice, or out of fear from what happened to her mother.”

Blake took another look at the photograph before putting it down. His eyes narrowed as he searched through more photographs trying find one of Mrs. Vasquez. “Are there any photos of her?”

“His wife? No.”

“What happened to her?”

“Well, details are sketchy at best, but from what we’ve gathered, she apparently protested when he started to get involved with the cartels. She wanted him to stop and actually went to Cuban intelligence. Unfortunately for her, the person she talked to was on the general’s bankroll. She disappeared shortly after that.”

I might actually enjoy sending this guy to hell. I hope I can do it so he sees it coming.

“What does his daughter do?”

A couple of years ago, she set up an organization called Los Niños Primero. It means—”

“Children First,” Blake said. A woman that does this wouldn’t be involved in her father’s operation. She’s probably scared to death of him.

“Yeah, some shit like that. She provides food, schooling and medical supplies to the poor villages all over Cuba. A real puller of the heart strings, if you know what I mean. It’s actually quite brilliant.”

Blake cocked his head to the right. “How so?”

“Well, this prick gives his money to his daughter to do this. He knows the villagers need his charity to survive. He also knows he needs their silence so he can continue his operation. It’s a classic symbiotic relationship. They talk, they lose the aide. Also, he promotes what she does, so how do you think he looks to outsiders?”

Blake leaned back in his chair with his hands clasped behind his head. “Like a wonderful philanthropist, I’d imagine.”

“You got it,” Mike said.

“Okay, so what’s my cover? The usual?”

“How could it not be? It’s perfect. I mean, it’s like we set this up specifically for this job.”

“What’s my timetable?”

“You leave this afternoon.”

Shit. So much for finishing my deck. Well, at least I’ll be able to pick up some good cigars for gifts.
“It’s not going to be easy to get close to him. He’s well-guarded. Add to it his paranoia and—this mission may take you quite some time. If it takes you three months, then so-be-it. Just get the job done. We figured your cover of being in charge of an organization that helps the world’s children would be perfect to get in with the daughter. Get in with her and she can get you close to him.”

Oh, I will most definitely get close to her. “Does she have a boyfriend?”

Mike laughed. “Hell no! Vasquez has probably threatened any man that gets near her with a slow and painful death—and they know he’ll follow through.”

Blake smirked. “Good. No competition.”

Mike pointed a finger at Blake and grinned while suppressing a laugh. “You’re an asshole, you know that? You get hooked up with all the hot chicks.”

“I do not.” Yeah, I do. Blake chuckled.

“The hell you don’t. I’ve seen some of the women you’ve hooked up with. The only women I dealt with were Russian. And they weren’t like the kind you’ve been with, either. These were the big, burly” Mike puffed out his chest and raised his shoulders, “Russian shot-putter kind of women. And to top it off, they were trying to kill me!”

They both laughed.

“Okay, okay,” Blake said as he waved his hand for Mike to calm down. “I’ll give you details if that’ll make you feel any better.”

“Actually, it won’t. But I want them anyway—dick.”

Blake shook his head and smiled. “All right.” He cleared his throat and changed to a serious tone. “Anything else?”

“Yeah, there is.” Mike scooted his chair closer to the desk and leaned forward. “This guy is pretty connected and there’s been some chatter that he’s been working with an unidentified weapons dealer from al Qaeda. We need you to dig around and gather as much intel as you can while you’re there. We need to find out where—and to whom he has his tentacles stretched.”

Blake picked up the folder and said, “as long as I can get into that estate, I should be able to get any intel he has.”

They both stood and Mike extended his hand. “Good luck. You still living on that big ass farm?”

Their hands locked and shook while a smirk drew across Blake’s face. “Of course. Why would I move from there?”

“More land than I’d know what to do with,” Mike said. “Anyway, go home, get your things ready. I’ll have a chopper pick you up at thirteen hundred.”

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