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Sample Chapters Whispers in the Night

Note: (This full length novel is available for the Kindle through Amazon.com, for the Nook through Barnes and Noble.com and your favorite store for iPad books along with free previews at each of those sites. On this website it is available only in Adobe Acrobat PDF format.)

This is a work of fiction. Actual persons within are for historical context.

Prologue

A tow truck moved slowly along a dark country road as the temperature dipped into the low twenties and wind gusts blew a menacing snow sideways across the road. Searching for a farmhouse amidst the darkness the driver turned on the bright lights in an effort to enhance his visibility, but when a flood of large snowflakes zoomed into the windshield he quickly flicked the bright beams off.

Another man sat in the passenger’s seat with a flashlight casting a narrow beam over a road map on his lap. In an attempt to get his bearings he rolled down the window and aimed his flashlight into the darkness. As the snow whipped against his face, he squinted into the dark countryside, but absent the aid of city streetlights, the low powered beam of his flashlight proved futile. He shivered as he quickly rolled up the window in the poorly heated truck.

It had begun snowing at five o’clock in the morning. Four inches of snow had been predicted but it was now 4:45 in the evening and the white stuff had been falling unabated. A January snowstorm in Chicago is certainly not unique but before the wee hours of the next morning arrived more than 23 inches were destined to fall on this dreary day. It would be the largest single snowfall in Chicago history.

The only reason the tow truck was able to move through the day’s accumulation was because it was fitted with a snow plow.

“Why the hell did we get a tow truck anyway, if we’re not actually gonna tow the car when we get there?” asked the driver.

“I told you…to make it look like we’re pickin’ up a car.”

“Oh,” the driver nodded, as his partner spotted a feint light.

“Turn right.”

The driver eased into a right turn and they moved up a long driveway, the lighted windows of a farmhouse becoming brighter as they approached.

The man on the passenger’s side peered out the window, and said, “Yeah, this is it. I can see the autos in a fenced in area. Let’s go.”

The driver pressed the breaks too quickly and a bit too heavily and the tow truck skidded slightly to a stop. As the two men exited, a pair of snarling guard dogs slammed into the steel mesh fence barking ferociously while exposing their sharp white fangs.

“Damn! They scared the crap out of me!” yelled the driver.

“Don’t worry; they can’t get to us,” said his partner. “They’re penned in. Come on,” he said, as they scaled the steps of the porch and knocked at the front door. The porch light flicked on, the door opened and an elderly man about sixty years old appeared.

“Evenin’,” he greeted them, as he gazed over their shoulders at the tow truck. “My, it’s an awful cold night to be out. Come on in and warm yourselves. My name’s Ned Fillmore.”

The two men nodded and entered.

Ned closed the door behind them and shouted toward the back of the house to his teenage son. “Billy? Put the dogs in the shed out back, would ya? Need to get them out of the way. A couple a fellows are here to pick up a car.”

“Okay, Dad,” said Billy, as he threw on a coat on and exited through the kitchen’s back door.

Ned turned to his two guests, and chuckled, “You certainly don’t want any dogs snappin’ at your heels while you’re hookin’ up an auto.”

The two men nodded and noticed the large German-Shepherd lying on a throw rug in the living room beside the television set, and they could hear another dog barking from another room in the house.

Ned noticed their uneasiness. “Oh, we like dogs. One in back is in the bedroom, ’cause he’s a bit excitable, but this one’s more docile” said Ned, as he eyed the two men, and added, “I thought tow truck fellows always operated solo.”

“Bad night,” replied one of them.

“Oh, yeah, it would be good to have some company tonight in case something happens.”

“Yeah,” said the other.

A woman entered the living room, and Ned introduced her. “This is my wife, Val. They’re here to pick up a car,” Ned informed her.

“You chose a heck of a night to come after it. Can I offer you some tea to warm your bones?”

“Well, if it’s any trouble.”

“No trouble at all. It’s already made,” said Val, as she turned and headed for the kitchen.

When Billy reentered the kitchen, he stomped the snow from his boots and yelled, “Dogs are in the shed, Dad.”

The two men eyed each other with a sickly smile and nodded silently. It was their signal to begin, as they reached inside their coats and each of them pulled out a silencer-laden semi-automatic.

The dog lying docilely beside the television was the first target.

Ned was their next victim.

The fate of Ned’s wife and son quickly followed.

Chapter 1

October 2008, Washington, D.C.

The arc of the rising October sun cast a golden hue across Washington and bathed the massive Capitol Dome in morning sunshine. As Anthony Narducci walked through the Washington Mall, he paused momentarily alongside the Reflecting Pool, which had not yet been drained in preparation for the up-coming winter. He watched as a leaf fluttered lazily downward and joined the rainbow of autumnal color floating atop the tranquil pond. Hundreds of golden-brown, deep purple, and reddish orange hues mingled as autumn’s leaves floated effortlessly atop the water---pushed along by the tiny ripples created from a gentle morning breeze.

With the completion of his life-long assignment, Anthony flashed a crooked smile as he resumed his walk westward through the Mall, a black satchel flung over his shoulder. The seventy-three year old moved with the aid of a cane necessitated by postponing a much needed knee replacement. The cane helped to support his six-foot, one-inch, and two hundred and ten pound frame and relieve the stress from his painful arthritic knee. Today both knees were especially painful.

The years had certainly taken their toll upon Anthony as evidenced by deep lines etched upon his weathered face. Time had robbed him of his once full mane of thick dark brown hair…now sparse and gray. His once keen and lively brown eyes looked tired as they sat deep within their sockets and reflected a demanding and stressful life.

As Anthony approached the far edge of the Reflecting Pool, he turned north toward the Vietnam Memorial. This was Anthony’s first visit to the Mall of Washington, D.C., and he had come here for one reason only---to visit the Wall.

When he arrived at the Memorial, he stopped to peruse the book that provided him with the name he sought. When he spotted it, he made a mental note of the reference of the panel upon which the name appeared.

As Anthony turned he was immediately struck by the enormity of the Memorial. Two walls, each 246 feet in length, meeting at an angle in the middle. Fully seventy-two separate panels on each wall of shiny black granite that stretched out before his eyes and overwhelmed him.

Upon each panel were neatly etched the engravings…the names…58,209 names in total. That was an increase of fifty names since the Wall was completed in 1993. Divided into Eastern and Western panels the list of names started and ended at the vertex of the Memorial beginning with the year 1959 and arranged chronologically through 1975

Like most Americans, Anthony heard many times the number of Americans killed in that horrible war, but he had no sense of the reality of that many deaths. It was an abstract number…until now.

“My God,” he muttered in a muted whispered.

Despite the early hour, Anthony found he was not alone, as a half dozen people were stationed at various stages along the wall. They all moved slowly and respectfully as they visited the Memorial or were motionless in quiet reverence, as they stood before one of the panels that bore a familiar name.

As Anthony proceeded slowly down the gently sloping pathway, he felt as if he were entering the hushed silence of an outdoor mausoleum. One woman knelt before a panel as she paid her respects, and, as Anthony passed her, he could hear her moans of sorrow and saw tears running down her face. The passage of so many years had not diminished her grief.

Anthony walked past a young man who appeared to be in his early twenties. He stood silently, head bowed, before the lettering of names. Anthony surmised he was paying his respects to a grandfather perhaps.

Anthony moved to the vertex of the Memorial from which all names proceeded and stood in front of the panel he sought…01E. He perused the list of names by starting at the top and scanning downward to the fourth line until he spotted the one he was here to see…the third name from the left.

Anthony set his cane against the wall, and then slowly knelt on one knee and grimacing from the painful arthritis. Anthony reached out and brushed his right hand across the letters that stood half an inch high. When he did so, he saw the reflection of his own face staring back at him in the shiny black granite, as his features mingled with the lettering of the familiar name. He quickly raised his hand to his face to hide the moisture forming in his eyes and bowed his head in prayer.

Anthony made the sign of the cross, grabbed his cane and pushed himself up. He checked his watch and saw it was a quarter past seven. By this evening he would be on a non-stop flight to Rome where he planned to rest, relax and rejuvenate himself in the country of his ancestors.

Anthony turned toward the east and gazed at the massive dome of the U.S. Capitol glittering in the morning sunshine. While the flag atop the dome fluttered in an ever-increasing morning breeze, Anthony inhaled deeply and filled his lungs with the fresh crispness of autumnal air.

Anthony looked back at the thousands of names etched into the smoothly polished black granite, and, as if speaking to all of them at once, he whispered through his emotion.

“They played parlor games with America’s youth except unlike when any of us were kids playing army man in the backyard you didn’t come home for dinner one night.”

Anthony swallowed hard to force back the emotional lump rising within him.

The mist returned to his eyes as he focused upon the name he had come to visit, and he spoke the young man’s name in a throaty whisper.

He leaned his back against the wall and once again placed his cane against the black granite. He then pulled the dark satchel from his shoulder, opened it and removed a small tape recorder. He popped in a blank cassette. With his back still to the wall, he gingerly slid down against it until he was seated upon the pavement, his back resting against some of that panel’s list of names.

Anthony flicked the button on the recorder, and, as he reflected upon the past fifty years of his life, he brought the microphone to his mouth…

Chapter 2

For me it all began in 1955 on the campus of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. After all these years I still remember that day very clearly. It was spring and the Williamsburg campus was alive with students and with color. Immaculately trimmed hedges around the contours of the campus burst forth in a lush green hue, while an assortment of flowers were in full bloom and their sweet aroma mingled with the scent of freshly mowed grass.

I was in the last semester of my senior year and the past autumn I’d sent out over fifty resumes in pursuit of prospective employment, and with just a couple of months remaining before graduation, I didn’t know what I’d be doing yet.

Unlike so many others who were soon-to-be graduates hoping for just one job offer, my problem was quite the opposite. I interviewed with more than a dozen company representatives who visited me at campus and I had received fourteen offers of employment. My dilemma was to pick the right opportunity, the one that interested me the most, and the one that would afford me a lucrative career. I took the process of choosing a career very seriously, because, if I chose incorrectly, I would surely regret it. Back then, employees stayed with companies in many instances for their entire career, and my collegiate counselor said that the first job a person takes often sets the course of their life forever. I didn’t know then how right he was.

My first class of the day had just ended and I had an hour before my next one, so I was heading to the student union where I planned to bone up on some vocabulary for one of my foreign language classes. I was surprised when an unfamiliar man approached me with an extended hand.

“Hello, my name is Sam.”

Hesitatingly, I shook the man’s hand. He was tall and lanky, and, though he was wearing a suit and tie, an air of discipline and authority emanated from him, as if he would be more at home in a military uniform than civilian clothes. His hair, cut very short in a crew cut, served to strengthen that perception.

“I’m visiting the campus today to speak with a few select individuals about future employment,” he said.

“Oh?” I replied, as I didn’t know if the man was referring to me or if he was merely going to ask for directions.

“I understand that you’re a straight A student.”

“You know me?”? “Anthony Abednego Narducci. Your parents died in an automobile accident when you were eight years old. You were their only child and you spent the remainder of your youth in foster homes. With the death of your parents, you withdrew within yourself, didn’t participate in sports, but buried yourself in your studies.”? I stood there speechless in awkward surprise and felt very uncomfortable with the man’s knowledge of my past. It felt creepy to me.

“We keep tabs on the people we wish to interview,” he smirked. “As for you, you’re graduating this spring after receiving a full scholastic scholarship to William and Mary where you have maintained an A average.”

“Well, I did have a couple of B’s in the mix.”

The man rolled over my correction without reference. “I understand that you speak Russian fluently.”

“I’m also fluent in Spanish and Italian as well as conversant in several Asian languages---Chinese, Japanese, and a few dialects of Southeast Asia.”

Another smirk flashed across the man’s face. “Well, not much call for those others,” he said, seemingly unimpressed with my academic credentials, which seemed odd since he’d made a point of mentioning my prowess in languages.

“Is there some place we could talk privately?” he asked. “I’d like to hear about your interests…what you see yourself doing after you graduate.”

“Yeah, okay. Sure. I was just heading over to the student union. It shouldn’t be very crowded this time of day and we could get a table that’s fairly private.”

“Yes, that would be fine.”

As we walked the remaining two blocks to the student union in silence, my discomfort began to dissipate. Instead, I found myself intrigued this man knew so much about me. Rather than taking any offense, I felt flattered and very curious, even anxious, to hear what he was going to say next. He had a definite air of secrecy about him, but that only served to whet and pique my curiosity further.

When we arrived at the student union, he purchased a coffee for each of us and we headed toward the back.

“Yeah, we’ll be able to talk privately here all right,” he said as we sat down. He paused for a few moments while each of us prepared our coffee the way we liked it.

“So, do you have any idea of what or whom I represent?” he asked with a self-assured grin.

I could play that game too, I thought, as I replied, “Well, with all you seem to know about me, with that short haircut of yours, and your air of secrecy, I’d say you’re with the government, specifically Army Intelligence, and that you’re here for recruiting purposes.”

From his reaction, I surmised he was impressed by my response, as his self-assured grin quickly widened.

“Not bad, Kid. You’re wrong, but you’re not far off the mark. I’m here to see you about possible employment all right, but not about joining Army Intelligence, so let me get right to the point.”

I nodded with appreciation.

“By way of background, in 1947 Congress passed and President Truman signed the National Security Act, which among other things created the Central Intelligence Agency.”

Mention of the Central Intelligence Agency didn’t stir any reaction in me. Nowadays people hear the CIA mentioned and they immediately think of a dark, secretive, intelligence operation. Some think of the CIA as an intelligence arm of the U.S. Government whose sometimes-illegal clandestine activities through the years were brought to light by congressional inquiry and oversight in the mid-seventies. But in 1955 I didn’t flinch when this fellow Sam referred to the Central Intelligence Agency.

“There are many different Intelligence organizations within the U.S. Government and I won’t go into them now, as it’s irrelevant to our discussion at hand. Anyway, when Eisenhower was elected in ’52, he appointed John Foster Dulles as his Secretary of State, and his brother, Allen Dulles, as the head of the Central Intelligence Agency.”

I nodded a bit as he spoke simply to show I was paying attention.

“Allen Dulles received a very large budget in order to get the CIA better organized and more up to speed and while doing so Mr. Dulles greatly expanded the CIA. Originally, we recruited World War II veterans,” he stated, without mentioning that many of those recruits were German Nazis from the war.

“That source of manpower, however, has been depleted, and we are now very much in need of bright, intelligent and dedicated young men. We have positions to fill, but we’re very selective about whom we interview and even more discerning about whom we hire. We do our homework. That’s why I knew about you in advance. You see we check potential candidates first, because, if they don’t measure up, we don’t bother contacting them, and they never know we were looking into their lives. You should feel very proud, Anthony, because you are one of those select individuals in whom we are interested.”

“Thanks,” I nodded, as I took a sip of my coffee. I’d gotten up late this morning and didn’t have time to grab a cup before my first class and it sure tasted good.

As I set my cup down, I eyed the man seated across from me. I pondered what he’d said so far, which wasn’t much…just a meager history of the genesis of the CIA and that the Agency was interested in me. In what capacity I didn’t have a clue, and that was hardly enough for me on which to base a decision of employment. Nevertheless, I was more than mildly intrigued.

“You’ve mentioned that you’re interested in me, but you haven’t said anything about what the job entails.”

“Oh, you’re getting ahead of me, Anthony,” he chuckled, as he brought his coffee cup to his mouth and eyed me while he took a sip.

“We’re interested, yes, but before any offer of employment is on the table, you would need to take an aptitude test among other things.”

He must have seen the effrontery on my face, because he responded quickly.

“Oh, it’s not to see if you’re smart enough. We already know that. You certainly have the intellectual capacity for the job. The test I’m referring to will tell us where your interests lay and what you’re good at. It’s a real shame that the vast majority of people never learn that about themselves.”

“I’m not sure I follow you.”

“Most people never take an aptitude test to see in which area they would excel. So, in that sense, you’ll be one of the lucky ones. You see no matter how intelligent you are, you’re going to be better at some things than others, and we’ll want to know what those things are.”

“I see.”

“If a job offer follows, we could then match you with the right job that suits you. No promises though, because the competition is fierce for these jobs. You see, we test many more individuals than we hire.”

I reached for my cup and took another sip of coffee as I absorbed what he said. Feeling a little cocky at being approached by a representative from the Intelligence arm of the U.S. Government, I replied, “No promises for you either, because I’ve already received fourteen job offers that I’m considering.”

I could see immediately my comment didn’t set well with him, as a disapproving smirk flashed across Sam’s face, and he responded with some cockiness of his own.

“Let me tell you something, kid. With all the competition for these plum jobs, the odds will be against you, but on the off chance we do make you an offer, and you don’t like the sound of the job description, you can always say no,” he said.

As he stared at me, I could see he was challenging me…daring me to decline at that point…but I merely nodded in understanding.

Chapter 3

That summer of 1955 I took that aptitude test and I must have done quite well because I was offered a job with the CIA.

The test results revealed in what I excelled and where my interest lay as well---foreign languages---but I could have saved us both a lot of time had the CIA merely asked. That bureaucratic arrogance should have given me a clue about the intelligence arm of the U.S. government…about any arm of the U.S. government for that matter.

I went through six weeks of basic training, which was quite grueling for someone who hadn’t participated much in sports as a kid. Then I had an additional eight weeks of training in counterinsurgency, and all of the training included becoming proficient in the use of various firearms. About ten percent of us received medals for the various levels of marksmanship, sharpshooter and expert as we were graded from the standing, kneeling and prone positions. Though I had never fired a weapon previous to that training, I earned a medal as an expert.

Every agent went through the same training so that if anyone was assigned a job in the field, the Agency didn’t have to delay deployment. We all knew what to do from the get go and it all served to demonstrate that the CIA was very serious about their agents and consequently we took our assignments seriously.

Allen Dulles was the Director of the CIA when I joined the Agency. A self-assured man he could speak to the President even if Ike was teeing it up on the prestigious Augusta National Golf Course home of the famed Masters Golf Tournament. Though the necessity of a visit to Georgia to interrupt the Chief Executive’s golf game never arose, the point is that if Allen Dulles desired to speak to the President, Eisenhower would see him.

In Washington D.C. a man’s power and influence is measured by his access to the President.

That access began in 1952 when the then newly elected President nominated John Foster Dulles as his Secretary of State. Shortly thereafter, the President appointed Dulles’ brother, Allen Dulles, as the head of the CIA, and the Dulles brothers quickly became the most powerful duo of siblings in the country. John Foster Dulles, with the President’s approval, set foreign policy and Allen Dulles augmented that foreign policy by carrying out covert, clandestine operations. It didn’t take the brothers long to wield their enormous influence throughout the corridors of power in Washington, D.C. and around the world.

In 1954, in a decision that would have far reaching effects, President Eisenhower with the advice and direction of the Dulles brothers decided the United States would replace France in Southeast Asia and thus began America’s involvement in Vietnam.

In April of 1955, just months before I joined the Agency, President Eisenhower authorized the CIA’s first attempt to assassinate a foreign leader. The subject was Red China’s Chou En-lai. Though the plan did not succeed, Allen Dulles was not entirely disappointed because of one overriding factor---the precedent had been set---and he was confident that future such endeavors would be successful.

The CIA was now officially involved in setting foreign policy through assassination of foreign leaders.

Of course, the U.S. spy organization didn’t dirty their hands. They used intermediaries so they would have deniability in clandestine operations being careful not to become directly involved.

Among others, Cuba loomed on the horizon and would prove to be another example of such activity, but for the moment a different American organization was more interested in the island nation…an organization much more sinister.

Chapter 4

Today people hear the term Mafia and instantly think of organized crime and perhaps take it for granted everyone was always aware of the far reaching extent of its evil tentacles in America.

Not so.

Oh, people in the city neighborhoods knew there was a criminal organization operating in their particular community. But for decades throughout the 1930’s, 40’s and for most of the 1950’s America’s head of law enforcement, J. Edgar Hoover of the F.B.I., refused to acknowledge the existence of the Cosa Nostra as a criminal organization in the United States. He refused to acknowledge there was a secret, organized criminal society in this country; refused to acknowledge there was a National Crime Syndicate operating in America.

That changed on November 14, 1957 which became a seminal day in the history of organized crime in America.

A meeting was planned at the home of New York crime boss Joseph Barbara 200 miles northwest of New York City in Apalachin, New York which lies on the banks if the Susquehanna River. The crime bosses across America gathered on Barbara’s 53 acre estate. A nation-wide crime syndicate that reached into nearly every facet of American life---representing more than 25 cities---the bosses of whom assembled to discuss several topics. The agenda included the garment industry, loan sharking, narcotics dealing, gambling, and casinos---all of it controlled by Lucky Luciano and the Commission of mobsters he created.

The Commission composed of the bosses settled disputes among members within the crime family, and the main topic on the agenda for the Apalachin meeting was the replacement of Luciano as the boss of all bosses, since his deportation to Italy had occurred more than a decade ago.

A conference of mobsters was not unique. Meetings had been called in previous years as well to discuss issues within the crime syndicate such as the Havana Conference in 1946 which among other things discussed a possible hit on mobster Bugsy Siegel.

What made this particular meeting in 1957 noteworthy was that local police noticed many expensive automobiles gathered in one place and began writing down license numbers. When they traced the autos to known criminals, the police raided the estate. Nearly sixty mobsters were arrested while more than forty others fled and got away.

The existence of a national crime syndicate in America was finally acknowledged.

Among those attending the meeting was Stefano Bonafacio, the Chicago operations boss with a cut in the Las Vegas casinos. He became noted as one of the cruelest mobsters in history due to gruesome tortures he ordered prior to the actual hit. It should be noted that Bonafacio did not do anything without the approval of his boss, Tony Accardo. Accardo operated behind the scenes being one of the smartest mobsters in history who possessed great instincts. He retired shortly before the Apalachin meeting and did not attend but continued to pull the strings in Chicago allowing Bonafacio to be out front and visible.

Carlo Marchelli was there as well. He controlled all of the Louisiana gambling operations by the late 1940’s. He was also given a cut of the Las Vegas casinos in the 1950’s as well. He operated as the crime boss of New Orleans and controlled the southwestern United States. He controlled the Latin American drug trade transported through Mexico and on into the U.S.A.

Salvatore D’Amato was also in attendance. He became the most powerful crime boss in Cuba who ran the narcotics and casino operations in Havana. He also controlled Florida and the southeastern seaboard of the United States for the crime syndicate. He also controlled the importation of drugs from Europe and through the Caribbean.

These men were among more than one hundred mobsters who attended the Apalachin conference and I was destined to learn much more about these mob bosses in the coming years.

During the late 1950’s the American Mafia stood at the apex of their power, wealth and influence---until November 14, 1957 when their secret society was secret no more.

It is believed that the head of organized crime, Lucky Luciano had pictures as evidence of J. Edgar Hoover’s homosexuality, and that’s why Hoover…for more than three decades…wouldn’t dare acknowledge the Mafia as an organization operating in America.

That was the power organized crime wielded at their apex when the highest law authority figure in America was relegated to nothing more than a pawn for their organization.

In fact, it was through this mob technique that Hoover learned to gather dossiers on politicians that served him very well in the future. Simply the inkling that Hoover might have personal information on various politicians got Hoover whatever he wanted and no American President dared defy him…or fire him.

Chapter 5

In 1959 on the day after New Year’s, Salvatore D’Amato was at his Havana residence in Cuba. D’Amato had many business interests in Cuba which made him a very wealthy and powerful man, but he was soon to find his power was about to wane on that island.

The D’Amato criminal empire of prostitution, loan sharking, gambling, and drugs was not limited to the shores of Cuba. He controlled the entire southeast corridor of the United States from Florida, the Carolinas and even up into Virginia where the CIA headquarters were located.

D’Amato expanded and cast the tentacles of his powerful criminal empire into overseas interests as well. He had already expanded into several Latin American countries in concert with New Orleans crime boss Carlo Marchelli and together they were making contacts in Southeast Asia where America had established a presence in South Vietnam.

D’Amato’s expansionist ideas were proving to be very lucrative both for himself and Carlo Marchelli. Though the New Orleans crime boss had teamed with the Florida mobster, Marchelli was nervous about his drug trade routes through Central America.

Both were suspicious of the other---a crime syndicate trademark.

For the present, however, D’Amato was looking after his business interests in the wake of a growing revolution on the island of Cuba. He was at his residence in Havana, seated in his study on January 2nd when one of his lieutenants approached him holding a telephone.

“Boss, Jimmy is on the line and he says it’s real important he talk to you right away.”

Salvatore grabbed the phone as he blew a puff of smoke from his Cuban cigar into the air that wafted upward, the gray smoke pausing as it hung aimlessly above his head.

“What’s happening?”

“That revolutionary, Castro, he just took over!”

Unfazed by what he heard, and pulling another puff of smoke into his mouth, D’Amato asked, “Took over what exactly?”

“He took over the island, the country…the whole damn government boss!”

Now D’Amato’s eyebrows upturned.

“He’s nuts, boss! He announced he’s diverting 50-60% of casino profits to Cuban welfare programs.”

D’Amato’s nostrils flared as he shot upright in his chair. His eyes narrowed into a laser-like stare of cold, dark loathing. The casinos in Havana were a source of huge sums of money to him.

“Those casinos are mine! Who does that bearded revolutionary think he is? He has no idea who he’s messing with!” D’Amato snarled, as he slammed his fist against the table in hateful rage.

“You have to leave boss!”

“What?”

“You have to leave right now!”

“Why?”

“Castro is gathering up anyone and everyone he calls an undesirable. Don’t even pack a bag. If you don’t leave right now, you have a chance to get off the island but you can’t delay. You’ve got to go now!”

Chapter 6

Castro was successful in seizing the reins of power in Cuba in part due to American assistance, but it didn’t take the Eisenhower administration long to realize that Fidel Castro had duped America in his revolutionary overthrow of the Batista regime. Castro had managed to infuriate both the U.S. Government and organized crime in one fell swoop.

A few months after Castro’s takeover, John Foster Dulles resigned as Secretary of State on April, 15, 1959 because of a bout with cancer. He was awarded the Medal of Freedom and died shortly thereafter on May 24, 1959.

Allen Dulles wasted no time in filling the void from his brother’s death as he advised President Eisenhower on what needed to be done about Castro and Cuba.

It was under this backdrop in the summer of 1959 when I was in my fourth year with the CIA that my immediate supervisor asked me to accompany him to Langley Virginia to brief Allen Dulles on the latest intelligence data. Normally, the information would be sent up the chain and a low ranking employee such as me wouldn’t brief the Director, but as I would soon learn there was a specific reason for me being there. Unbeknownst to me, there was an assignment for which I was being considered and the Director himself wanted to check me out so to speak.

As we were escorted into the Director’s office and introduced, the Director arose from behind his desk. I was surprised to see he was much shorter than the mythical stature those of us in the Agency had visualized him to be. He greeted us, shook our hands and gestured for each of us to take a seat and he sat back into his high backed, black leather chair.

“I understand you have some information,” the Director came right to the point looking directly at me with his beady eyes.

“Yes,” I nodded nervously, as I pulled some papers from my briefcase. “We have reliable data of intercepted communications that the government of Cuba is making overtures to the Soviet Union for economic, political, and military aid,” I informed him, as I felt my voice crack nervously at being in the presence of the Director for the first time.

“Let me see those,” he said, as he grabbed the papers from my grasp.

The Director fingered his thin Errol Flynn-like mustache as his eyes narrowed in on the intelligence data.

As he leafed through the briefing, he began to nod. He looked up at me with his steely stare. “Are you sure?”

“Positive,” I replied with emphatic confidence while praying to God I was indeed correct.

“What makes you so certain,” Dulles asked skeptically?

“I’m fluent in both Russian and Spanish among other languages, and I know very well what the original cables said after we decoded them. I know their meaning,” I replied confidently.

The Director turned his glance toward my supervisor. “I’ll have to brief the President,” he said, as he arose, which gave me the distinct impression he was going directly to the Oval Office and had immediate access to the President.

The Director looked right into my eyes, and said, “Anthony Narducci,” saying my name out loud. “I remember now. You’re one of the fellows we recruited directly out of college.”

“Yes, Sir, out of William and Mary,” I answered, flattered the Director knew that and I had a serious case of hero worship at that moment.

Sometime later I was brought back to reality when I learned the Director routinely received advance information on every individual who came to his office---he made it a rule to always be briefed on the briefer.

“Ah, Williamsburg,” the Director nodded.

“Yes, Sir,” I acknowledged.

“So, how long have you been with us?” he asked, though he already knew the answer.

“Four years, Sir.”

“Time flies when you’re serving your country. Make no mistake, Narducci. Yours is one of those rare jobs in which a person can actually serve his country,” he said, as he glanced back at the report and nodded his approval of my assessment of the situation in Cuba.

“Good work, Narducci.”

“Thank you, Sir,” I replied in appreciation.

“If you learn anything else, I want to know about it immediately…no matter what time of day…and I’m not saying that as a mere figure of speech. I want to know!”

“I understand, Sir.”

“Very well,” he nodded repeatedly and added, “Be ready at a moment’s notice to do some field work, Narducci.”

“I’m always ready, Sir.”

Dulles liked that response, as he nodded approvingly.

“Where would you like me to go, Sir?”

“That you won’t know until the time comes…if the time ever comes at all,” he answered in a voice that sounded irritated at my probing.

“Yes, Sir,” I said, as I purposely kept my responses brief.

Chapter 7

In the summer of 1959 prior to the presidential primaries of 1960, Chicago mobster Stefano Bonafacio had a room booked at a Kansas City, Missouri hotel.

When the mobster heard a knock at the door, he glanced at his watch; his appointment was exactly thirty minutes early. Bonafacio smirked as he took a drag on his Cuban cigar and blew the smoke upward over his head. Bonafacio knew his underlings would answer the door, but he in another room in the suite would make his guest wait until after the appointed time of their meet.

Bonafacio held the Cuban tightly between his teeth as he grabbed a newspaper, walked into the bathroom and sat down on the toilet.

The man was patted down in the doorway and when the underlings were satisfied he was unarmed they directed him into a chair. This was a very wealthy man who represented one of the 1960 presidential candidates. He was accustomed to calling the shots in his world of money and power, but he would sit patiently until the Chicago mobster was ready to see him, because he knew the drill. He knew how mobsters operated, and he knew many of their idiosyncrasies from having dealt with them years ago in garnering his wealth.

Fully forty-five minutes after he arrived, Bonafacio flushed, exited the bathroom and entered the adjoining room still wearing his gray fedora in the hotel and greeted his old colleague.

“So, how’s the bootlegging business these days?” the mobster chuckled.

The man representing the Kennedy campaign laughed as well. “I wouldn’t have any idea how that business is doing nowadays.”

“Once a crook, always a crook,” Bonafacio retorted.

“You won’t hear any denial from me on that score,” the man smiled.

“So, what’ll you have?” Bonafacio asked, as he approached the wet bar.

“Scotch…neat,” he replied.

As Bonafacio prepared their drinks, he said, “I prefer bourbon; I heard once that democrats drink bourbon, so I’m surprised with your choice,” he scoffed.

“Sometimes you have to play both sides to win,” the man laughed though he was quite serious.

As Bonafacio turned and handed a glass to his former acquaintance in crime, he toasted, “Here’s to a Democratic victory in 1960.”

They clanked their glasses, swigged back a gulp, and the man said, “To that end is precisely why I wanted to meet with you.”

Bonafacio smiled knowingly. “Yes, well, I imagined you wanted some kind of favor or you wouldn’t have asked to see me,” Bonafacio got quickly to the point of the requested visit.

“Not exactly,” he said. “A favor is something that is granted gratis…that is until such time as another favor can be granted in return.”

“So, if not a favor, what did you want to see me about?” Bonafacio asked.

“I always liked your style Stefano. You always got right to the point,” he complimented him.

“Yeah, I’m a busy man,” he responded seriously with a bit of irritation, though his casualness in making his guest wait was noted.

“I appreciate that so I’ll get right to the point as well. “I wanted to see you about a job, a task if you will. It’s not a favor; I’m willing to pay if it’s performed properly.”

“I’m listening,” said Bonafacio, as he took a sip of his scotch.

“The official announcement for his presidential candidacy will be in January as is the custom for presidential candidates.”

Bonafacio listened but made no indication either through his eyes or his body language that he was impressed.

“The first democratic primary is March 8th in New Hampshire. We’ll win that. We have an enormous ground campaign of volunteers and we’ve got the money.”

“So what do you need me for?” Bonafacio asked.

“In that state we won’t need you but it’s my responsibility to look ahead, to see if there is a place where we can use your help. There will be other primaries on the road to the nomination. Wisconsin on April 5th, Illinois April 12th, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania both on April 26th and Indiana May 3rd. We’re in good shape in all of them with our party’s bosses along with the governors, senators and representatives.”

“Yeah...so...” Bonafacio remarked.

“On May 10th it looks promising in Nebraska but we may have a problem with West Virginia on the same day. West Virginia is heavily anti-Catholic,” he explained.

“So?”

“We’re Catholic.”

“Humph,” Bonafacio scoffed, “so am I. What about it?”

“The party bosses in West Virginia are lining up with protestant Humphrey.”

“They like Hubert?” Bonafacio asked with some surprise.

“Yeah, and that’s where you come in.”

“How’s that exactly?” Bonafacio inquired.

“We can’t afford to lose any of the primaries. No one is going to win enough delegates in the primaries alone to win on the first ballot, but a loss in the primaries would show vulnerability and we could then lose when the convention votes. I want your help with the West Virginia unions, and like I said, it wouldn’t be a favor.”

“And if we help and your candidate loses anyway?”

“We can negotiate a price and we can structure your fee so that you get more if we win the primary...a lot more.”

Bonafacio smirked. “Is that your way of saying you don’t’ trust me?”

“No, that’s my way of saying I don’t trust anyone,” Joe laughed.

Stefano nodded with the beginnings of a smile.

“It also means you have a stake in the outcome…an incentive so to speak. The better the candidate does, the better you do.”

“Or vice versa,” Bonafacio mused.

“We do have some time but the reason I contacted you now about this is that these matters do take time to organize.”

“Hmm, yeah,” Bonafacio agreed.

“But you get the unions to back him and he wins…”

Bonafacio nodded. “Yeah, let me think about that. I’ll get back to you. Ten days all right with you?” he asked.

“That would be fine,” he smiled, as he extended his hand.

Whether the candidate was ever told about this meeting is unknown.

What is known is that Senator Kennedy faced the religious issue head on, when he said, “I refuse to believe that I was denied the right to be president on the day I was baptized.”

He won the union vote decisively and he won the primary overwhelmingly by winning 60.8 percent of the vote to Humphrey’s 39.2 percent.

Chapter 8

The fifties were a time of great paranoia…paranoia that verged on hysteria. The country was not far removed from the Red Scare of the McCarthy era, and those accusations aimed at people within the State Department that they spied for the Red Menace lingered long after the United States Senate censured Senator Joe McCarthy.

For additional understanding and insight one need only look at America’s Interstate Highway system. It was not constructed for citizens to travel freely and enjoy the breathtaking panoramic beauty of America, though that certainly was an ancillary benefit. The Interstates were actually built as a means to evacuate American cities---in case of a nuclear attack.

By the summer of ’59, Communist paranoia was firmly entrenched within the Washington establishment and the American psyche as well. Call someone a communist and it was the worst thing you could ever say about them. But there was a dichotomy. The ’50’s were also a time in which an arrogant America believed it could do whatever it wanted to do…whenever it wished to do it. With John Foster Dulles now deceased, the President relied on the expertise of Allen Dulles even more.

“America cannot afford nor can we allow a Communist country to exist ninety miles from our shores, Mr. President. Executive Action must be initiated against the Marxist leader to remove him from power,” Dulles advised the Commander in Chief.

Ike hesitated.

Dulles had expected the President to be uncertain about such a policy and he was fully prepared to explain further that action against Castro would occur simultaneously on two fronts.

“First, an invasion by Cuban exiles will be launched in which no Americans would be involved. The exiles will be fully trained but at secret bases. Only after the exiles had landed would America lend air cover which could be justified as American support for Cuban freedom fighters against a repressive and hated Communist dictator,” he explained, as the President listened.

“Second, in an even more clandestine operation, the mob would be enlisted against the Cuban dictator. With the millions of dollars the mob lost when Castro shut down their casinos and the rest of their illicit businesses in Cuba, they have a great motive for wanting Castro dead. And again, Mr. President, no government involvement,” Dulles quickly added.

If Eisenhower authorized the operation he knew he’d be making a deal with the devil but he was aware there was precedent. The players were different but America had collaborated with the mafia during World War II against Nazi Germany…and that was merely fifteen years before. Still, the President hesitated since Castro was not Hitler.

“Our hands would not be dirtied, Mr. President, and no one ever need know of America’s participation. The United States and everyone within the government would have plausible deniability,” said Dulles.

Allen Dulles won out and persuaded the Commander in Chief to act against Castro.

President Eisenhower in the second term of his administration and less than a year and a half before the election of 1960 when a new administration would come to power in Washington authorized the overthrow of the Castro regime in Cuba.

Assassination of the Cuban leader was at the top of the list.

Almost since its inception America has been preoccupied with the Caribbean island of Cuba, but if the United States has suffered because of the close proximity of Cuba to our shores, one would be hard pressed to cite examples of any injury to our national prestige. With the hindsight of history, contracting for a hit on Castro is quite laughable since that gray bearded old coot has outlived Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, and Reagan.

But in 1959 the paranoia of the times and the obsession over Cuba won out.

Chapter 9

Shortly after briefing the Director, I was assigned to the CIA station outside Miami, Florida. I was to interface with the Cuban exiles our government was training to overthrow the Castro regime. I could tell you I was there to assist in training so my assignment would sound more glamorous and in the nation’s best interest, but in actuality I was there for one reason only---I spoke fluent Spanish. Not many Agency employees did and we needed to keep the operation…Operation Mongoose which was the code name for the Cuban invasion…within the agency. I was to act as a translator so the Cubans would understand exactly what we wanted them to do…so much for a glamorous assignment.

Florida was not a pleasurable experience for me. The CIA didn’t have the best of facilities for these guys in the camps outside Miami. Most were unshaven and hadn’t bathed in God knows how long. On top of that, in the heat and humidity of a Florida summer you couldn’t walk a fifty yards without becoming drenched in your own sweat. I’ll let you imagine how pungent the air was in an enclosed tent with those guys.

Ian Fleming’s James Bond spy novels were popular in 1959 and in the spy series Bond could do the impossible. Real life wasn’t that way and I would soon learn the CIA often couldn’t even do the basics. History would bear that out. After decades of supposedly gaining experience in gathering intelligence, the CIA would be caught again and again completely unaware. The uprising in Iran when the Shah was overthrown and hostages were taken in 1979 caught the CIA totally off guard. Nor did the Agency know of the uprisings in Poland, Lithuania, and Czechoslovakia when those Eastern Bloc countries broke from the Soviet Union and the granddaddy of them all---the collapse of the Berlin Wall---i.e. the demise of the Soviet Union---caught the CIA by complete surprise.

The Agency didn’t have a clue any of those events were coming and that’s just a smidgeon of what we didn’t know.

I don’t think people today fully appreciate the utter magnitude of the CIA’s incompetence. The Soviet Union was the motivation behind the creation of the CIA. The Soviet Union was the very reason for the Agency’s existence. When you understand that gathering intelligence on the Soviet Union was the CIA’s top priority during the Cold War, you can begin to grasp how poorly the CIA functioned when their meager intelligence gathering apparatus couldn’t even detect an event as momentous as the downfall of the Soviet Union itself. Oh, we knew their economy wasn’t doing well, but that was the extent of our expertise. We didn’t have a clue the Soviet Union was about to implode.

Is it any wonder why in later years the CIA became synonymous with incompetence?

The phrase, ‘it’s a slam dunk, Mr. President,’ would forever be changed in the American lexicon from an ironclad fact---to a phrase synonymous with mistakes, incompetence and misinformation.

As for the mob, they would be in bed with the CIA for years as the Agency attempted to work hand in glove with the mob to bring down Castro, but that wasn’t exactly unique. The OSS, the forerunner of the CIA, used the mob during World War II and who could blame the government for enlisting the assistance of the mob? Is there anyone who wouldn’t have approved of an assassination of Hitler to end his madness and stop the carnage of World War II?

That type of black and white choice is easy...assassinate Hitler; kill the monster. The problem arises when the government starts choosing subjective targets…gray targets as we call them. I thought Castro was one of those gray targets.

As it turned out, through all the decades that Castro was in power, he was nothing but lint.

It really makes one scratch his head and wonder what all the fuss was about. Anyway, the mob was involved all right, but not in the way a lot of people think. And you’ll understand what I mean by that later.

Chapter 10

Through my immediate supervisor, word was sent that I was wanted on another assignment. The CIA did not discuss upcoming assignments with its agents in enclosed rooms---wary of bugs planted either by the Soviets or by Hoover’s FBI. Yeah, Hoover was always trying to dig up dirt on anyone and any organization. Maintaining dossiers on Americans from every walk of life kept Hoover in power. The CIA neither trusted nor cooperated with Hoover’s FBI and vice versa. Over time, that spirit of non-cooperation became embedded within the intelligence agencies, and the consequences of that non-cooperation would have disastrous effects years later on 9/11 as we all know very well.

I got a respite from the drudgery of the camps as I was sent to Miami for a week of meetings. After one of those meetings concluded one day, my immediate supervisor approached me and simply said, “Let’s take a walk.”

We headed outside onto the sidewalk and walked south. Across the street on our left, the large sprawl of South Beach stretched out to meet the Atlantic. It was a clear day and the sun reflected off the rippling water and flickered in tens of millions of tiny sparkles.

As we passed the News Café on our right and continued south, my supervisor came to the point.

“Pack a bag, Narducci. You’re going to Hollywood.”

When you work for the CIA, you don’t get to choose where you’re going or on what assignment you’ll be employed. You go where you’re told to go. In that sense it’s just like the Army. You get your orders and you go, but I have to say it wasn’t any hardship for me. I was so thrilled to hear I was getting out of the sweatbox of Florida that I let out a whoop I’m sure could be heard for blocks.

“Hey! Take it easy, relax. It’ll only be for a couple of days and then you’re to report back here and resume your duties as a translator.”

I didn’t care. I was ecstatic because I could get out of Florida if only for a couple of days. How anyone can spend a summer in the sweltering humidity of Florida by choice I’ll never understand---even if not by choice. That humidity is enough to make a person go AWOL.

My supervisor handed me a round-trip plane ticket to Los Angeles, and explained, “You’re to see a man. There won’t be anything in writing. There won’t be any record of your verbal discussion. If you divulge what is discussed…”

“That won’t ever happen,” I emphatically interjected.

My supervisor kept right on talking. “Everything will be denied and you’ll be finished as a CIA employee, plus you’ll go to jail for a very long time for breaking the non-disclosure agreement.”

I guess because of my young age and the fact that I’d never been in the field he felt obliged to explain such things to me.

When I learned the nature of my assignment and the man with whom I would meet, I was stunned. It wasn’t like I was removed from the situation and reading about it in a newspaper article or watching a movie and knowing I could get up at any time and leave the theatre. I was going to be in the middle of it, very much involved, and with no option of leaving.

Looking back with the aid of hindsight, it was then that I began to become disenchanted with the CIA…hell…with the entire apparatus of the U.S. intelligence community.

There was a surreal atmosphere that existed within the CIA. It was like the Agency was playing a parlor game and the entire world was a giant game board---a video game in modern parlance---while the CIA and the U.S. government arrogantly thought they controlled every aspect of the game. They made the rules as they went along, and then broke the rules whenever it suited them. It was a Machiavellian enterprise through and through. Cheat, lie, steal and commit murder…whatever the State thought necessary to protect and defend a free and independent America was fair game. It was never an issue whether the American State was ever wrong, because there was never any concern that there would ever be any consequences for what any of us might do. Break the law…it didn’t matter…we were the CIA. We were protecting America.

Because arrogance carries a firm belief of the incapability of ever making a mistake…arrogance is an extremely dangerous quality in those who wield power. After all, the State is merely individuals, persons who are in a position to wield power.

In discussions with other CIA operatives, I learned a lot about other illegal operations that were being planned as well.

Surprised that we talked amongst ourselves? It’s one of the great myths about the CIA that agents never talk. Well, to be very clear, we don’t talk to outsiders, but you get a group of us CIA agents together, and we’ll chatter more than a bunch of frat boys bragging about their latest conquests on sorority row.

Internally, we all knew what was going on.

End of Sample

Note: (This full length novel is available for the Kindle through Amazon.com, for the Nook through Barnes and Noble.com and your favorite store for iPad books along with free previews at each of those sites. On this website it is available only in Adobe Acrobat PDF format.)



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This product was added to our catalog on Monday 22 July, 2013.
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