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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Edmunds nods holding the photo at arms length, then draws it towards his face, as if his own movement can reanimate the still. 'That's him alright, cool as a cucumber with a newspaper in his left mitt. And we got other factors to consider.' The two men who have brought the picture react at odds. The elder of them looks glum, as if what he's helping to unveil is the undoing of a lifelong friendship; the younger lanky one grins like a Cheshire cat.

'Yeah, well, Jimmy and me got wind of this whole thing through a third party.' The elder begins. 'He, or they - the third party that is - thought that something strange was going on when their boss started to ask his staff about how the Russians were...'

'Russians? What do they have to do with this?' Edmunds feels his stomach drops a peg.

'We were trying to figure...' Cheshire Jimmy blurts.

Karl interrupts. 'Hold on Jimmy, let me talk first so that we get the gist of the matter across. Then we can go from there.'

Edmunds backtracks. 'So if you don't mind me asking, Karl, the third party you mentioned, you're telling me that they're..... not Americans, right?

Karl scratches at his salt and pepper stubble. 'Something like that Mr E. Jimmy put some feelers out, we had to wait a bit, quite a bit in fact. They're definitely not Americans.'

'And so that would make them, what? Where do they come from?'

'British. English.' Jimmy drawls.

'English?' Edmunds jerks back, frowns. 'This is becoming more perplexing.'

Butts shift in seats. Karl clears his throat and lights a smoke. 'Yuh.'

Edmunds collects his thoughts. 'Ok, so, we've got J. Edgar Hoover in this picture of yours – great work by the way. How did you manage to set this up?'

'That was Jimmy's idea.' Plumes curl from Karl's nostrils. 'He posed as a photographer, snapping this couple. Got Hoover in the background.'

Edmunds glances back at the photo and smirks. 'They look odd - mismatched – this couple.'

'The woman is one of ours, looks harmless, very good at her game. The tall guy she buttonholed as he was walking by, some ruse or another.' Jimmy adds.

'She part of your organisation? Nice.' Edmunds is flashed the Cheshire again. 'So, Hoover's in the shot and we know that he was seen meeting with a third party approximately seven minutes later.'

The ember burns bright as Karl draws in again. 'And we've heard that there's a file. A dossier.'

'File? Who saw it?'

'Not us. Another..... observer.' Karl watches the cigarette start to sag at the end.

'Does it have a name? This file? Or …?'

Karl and Jimmy briefly lock eyes, reaching a tacit agreement. 'Venona.' Karl grimaces, the words feeling treacherous. 'Project Venona.'

Submitted: April 20, 2020

© Copyright 2021 matt e. All rights reserved.

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