I've decided to put Silent Vector on this blog one chapter at a time. The book has 74 chapters. I'm going to post one chapter per day until all 74 have been posted. I'm assuming that the space on this blog for a single entry will be sufficient for each chapter. If not, I'll break the longer chapters up in a way that makes sense. I hope readers enjoy the chance to read a Nick Temple File one chapter at a time and for free! So, here goes, starting with chapter 1.
BEACH BOY Summer, 1962
His sunburn is no surprise. Nick Temple hasn’t logged a whole lot of beach time since he first signed up to serve his country on December 8, 1941. The fact of the matter is that CIA agents who are fluent in Russian and German rarely find themselves stationed in the tropics, and Nick’s 20-year career path has been no exception. So when his friend and fellow agent Bill Johnson recommended a month on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands as a way to unwind, Nick had little idea what to expect. Three weeks into his stay he is sold on the slow pace of life, the crystal-clear, warm water, and the duty-free booze. With a week to go before he heads back to D.C. and the Agency’s new headquarters in McLean, Virginia, Nick wonders if he can talk the Director into making him the Station Chief of the CIA’s nonexistent St. Thomas/St Croix office.
Sleepy Pete’s, a local watering hole along the waterfront in Charlotte Amalie, the island’s largest town, is starting to fill up with late afternoon wanderers. Its large bar–three sides of a square, each of which seats ten customers comfortably–takes up most of the joint’s interior. Nick hoists a sweaty schooner of draft beer and takes a couple of gulps. Perfect! He contemplates asking for the bar menu, but he has it memorized. Instead he silently considers each of its slim offerings until he settles on another order of fish and chips.
He is about to motion to the bartender when a sound he hasn’t heard for weeks catches his ear.
“That’s German,” he thinks to himself.
He discreetly scans the patrons to see if he can make out the source of the out-of-place yet familiar language. He sees them, two men in shirtsleeves: one tan and comfortable as if he’s been living in the tropics for years; the other wan, sweating, and clearly out of his element. Old habits die hard and Nick can’t help trying to listen in. They’re not more than three meters away on the diagonal. The din from the bar’s other patrons blocks most of the conversation, but Nick is able to pick up a word here and there.
The tan local is “Herr Professor” and at times “Herr Doktor.” The sweat hog is simply “Schutz.” Schutz is flying out tomorrow, stopping in San Juan on his way to Miami and then back to Germany. One of them is preparing a report of some sort. Nothing jumps out until Nick hears the Professor/Doctor say “STASI.” What the hell are a couple of Herms doing in St. Thomas talking about East Germany’s secret police?
As he signals to the bartender, Nick smiles at the prospect of convincing the Director that an extended stay in Charlotte Amalie by the CIA’s former Berlin Station Chief is clearly in America’s national security interests.