Everything And Nothing
Lapsley burst into Butchers office like a train. Butcher, somewhat surprised at the sudden interruption, looked up from his desk full of papers and flinched when he saw the rage on Lapsley`s face.
"You bloody fool Butcher. We`ve never seen eye to eye before, I`ll give you that, but this...."
"I`m quite sure I don`t know what you`re talking about."
"Don`t fuck with me Butcher," Lapsley snapped viciously. "Because I know! You`ve sold Jacobs out."
Butcher gasped. "That`s Eyes Only information! `Need To Know` stuff, and I`m quite sure you haven`t got the clearance-"
"You idiot! Do you think as head of the Int. Cell that I wouldn`t find out? What sort of head of Intelligence would I be if I didn`t? And don`t give me any of the crap about the caveat that this `operation` carries. I have clearance way up and beyond this!"
Butcher had added an additional caveat codenamed "Gleaming" to the `Top Secret` security marking that his operation carried. This meant that even though other operatives and officials might be cleared up to (and indeed beyond) Top Secret level, only people cleared into the special "Gleaming" compartment would have privy to the information it contained. He had not taken the liberty to include Lapsley, the head of Intelligence, into this cabinet, a mistake he was now finding rather embarrassing.
"I was - am," he corrected himself, "in charge of G3 Ops East. The decision not to include you was mine. That`s what `Need To Know` is supposed to be about isn`t it?" He was intrigued as to how Lapsley, despite his awesome reputation of knowing everything, found out about this. The paperwork (there always had to be paperwork) for the Op was locked in a secure cabinet. The code for the cabinet was changed by himself at the end of every working week. The code (along with the soft copy files) was then stored on his stand-alone computer, hence it was impossible to break into this via the internet. The 12 digit code for the computer was randomly generated weekly also, and this was stored only in Butchers head.
"You never understood them did you, the cowboys? You always wanted to prove to them that the real muscle was here, in the offices, not out there on the battlegrounds. You wanted to show them all that they were expendable. Well now you`ve proved it - by expending one of the best! And do you know the worst part about it all? You did it to get Heath in."
"Yes I did!" Butcher announced proudly. "That`s exactly why I did it. He`s now in further with the Russians than Jacobs ever was. With Heath selling out Jacobs it proves his loyalty to them. And only by giving them someone as valuable as Jacobs could we do that."
"Nice speech Butcher. Except you left some out, didn`t you. And I know that you don`t think many people know this, but I do. Heath is the old mans nephew." Butcher flinched again. "And you think that it`s going to get you somewhere. My job perhaps? Well I`ve got a few years left, boy, and I still out rank you. So don`t go measuring up for curtains in my fucking office too soon!"
Butcher couldn`t help it. It blurted out before he knew what he was saying - "Well I don`t much care for the curtains in Head Of Floors office either!"
It was Lapsleys turn to be surprised now, and as he considered it, he knew that young though Butcher was, he was also the born office type - young and thrusting, daring and willing to stab anyone in the back to get what he wanted. Lapsley himself was one of the rare breed who`d transferred himself from cowboy to office boy. That he`d made it to Head of Int. Cell was a miracle. And he also knew that what Butcher was saying could well be true. If this played off, he could well be promoted to Head Of Floor - in charge of Lapsley, who`s future would very rapidly become increasingly unstable.
Butcher smiled triumphantly as he watched the emotions cross Lapsleys face. "That`s right, I can see you`re beginning to understand now. And the odds are in my favour!"
When Lapsley spoke again, his voice was calm and quiet. "Since you know so much about odds and are clearly a gambling man, let me tell you something. I`ve been to see the boys down in Stats. They`ve got all sorts of computer programmes down in that cell. They did a run on the chances of Jacobs escaping from that Russian Hell hole they`ve got him in."
Butcher hated to ask, but simply had to know. "And?"
Butcher gasped. "As good as that?" He asked, astonished.
Lapsley opened the door before turning to reply. "Considering I trained him and I know what he`s capable of, I`d say those odds were very poor !"
When the door had closed Butcher sat deep in thought for several seconds. He locked the papers he was working on in his secure cabinet, set the soft-lock on his computer and left the office.
Personnel was two floors below his office. Davis came across when he saw Butcher enter. "How`s tricks Butch? What can I do for you?"
"I need the file on Jacobs. Whatever you`ve got."
Davis laughed as he crossed to the cabinet which stored the F - J files. "Jacobs is one of yours! Surely you know everything about him already. Hell, everyone knows about Jacobs!"
Butcher scanned through the incredibly thick file. It contained everything from his date of birth to all the operations he had been involved in. "Everything`s right there," Davis said.
"No, it`s not. This file tells me what he`s done, where he`s been - but not who he is. I want to know what the man is like."
"It is in there. That`ll be in his psychological profile, but hey, I`ll tell you what the guy`s like. You want to know? He`s nice! He`s a genuinely good guy. Yeah he`s highly trained, deadly, one of the best, blah blah - but Hell, he`s just a regular guy."
"A regular guy." Butcher repeated. He thanked Davis and went to leave the office.
"Yep, just a regular guy - But am I fucking glad he`s on our side!"
O`Neill was training in the Dojo when Butcher found him. "Hey, Butch," he called. "Come for some training?"
Butcher shook his head. "Listen Paddy, I need to talk to someone."
O`Neill stopped what he was doing and faced Butcher. "Is that anybody or will I do?"
"I think I`ve made a big mistake."
"What do you know about Jacobs?"
"You say you think you made a big mistake, then you ask about Jacobs. You fucked Jessie Jacobs over?" the big Irishman asked.
"It wasn`t anything personal. He`ll understand that."
"Let me tell you what the cowboys understand. They know that when the shit comes down, they`re always on their own. No agency help, no government help - Hell, they`re lucky if any of the other cowboys can or will help. But they do not - DO NOT - accept being fucked over by their own. That little talk help any?"
Butcher grunted. "He can`t... He wouldn`t...."
"I don`t know what you think he can`t or wont do to you if he finds out. If you want any advice from me, it`s to expect the unexpected." He turned and was about to carry on with his training, when he suddenly turned back and added, "Oh, and you were right. You have made a BIG mistake."
Further conversations that day did nothing but confirm to him that he had indeed made a big mistake, and that he was a in a world of trouble - if Jacobs ever got out.
When he arrived at home he found Suzie in the garden. "You`re early! Good day?" she asked.
"Thought I`d spend some time with you. Fancy going out for dinner tonight?"
"Don`t be absurd. You know very well I`m going out with Sharon and the girls tonight."
"Id forgotten." he said dejectedly. "Look, don`t go out tonight. Stay with me. I`ve had a bad day -"
"No! Don`t do this to me. I`ve been looking forward to this evening for ages, and I`m going. Now I`m off to get ready. You`ll have to sort yourself out for dinner tonight."
Butcher spent the evening alone with a bottle of brandy. The more he sat and thought about the situation, the more worried he became. He`d cooked himself some food, only to find that he didn`t have any appetite once it was ready. Even his dog, Mr Gibbon, went un-fed and un-walked. When Suzie came home, giggling with excitement after a night out, she insisted Butcher make love to her there in the lounge.
To his horror he found he couldn`t indulge her.
"And how long has this been going on?" the doctor asked.
"I don`t know. Five, six weeks now. It`s very embarrassing. My wife, Suzie, she... Well she tries everything, you know -"
"Mr Butcher this situation isn`t entirely uncommon you know. I realise it doesn`t help to know that many, many men have trouble at one time or another, but it happens to be true. And there are a great many reasons for it. Now are you under any stress at work?"
Butcher almost laughed. Almost. Instead he just nodded.
"Well I`m sure that you`ll find that that is the root problem. Is there any chance you can take some holiday perhaps, just you and your wife?"
"No. No chance - certainly not at the moment."
"Well you`ll have to find a way to relax somehow. Take some of the stress out of your life. Stop worrying son, the world isn`t about to end just yet!"
It was another two weeks, with some help from the sedatives that the doctor prescribed, that Butcher felt his life begin to get back into some order. With no news of Jacobs, or for that matter Heath who was supposed to have now wormed his way high into the intelligence section of the Soviet Block, Butcher began to relax. Tonight was the night, he thought. He had booked a room in an exclusive hotel in the country. Champagne was ready, along with flowers and a menu designed to sate the finest appetite. He was feeling happy for the first time since Lapsley had entered his office all those weeks ago.
He answered the phone on the first ring. Suzie was yelling and crying down the line, when suddenly her voice was replaced by a mans.
"Who is this? What do you want?" Butcher yelled.
"Am I speaking to Mr Butcher?"
"Yes, you fucking well are you shit! What are you doing to my wife?"
"Sir, I`m constable Burke. I`m afraid there`s been an accident. Your dog is dead."
"What??? What on earth has my dog dying got to do with the police?"
"Well sir, it appears you dog trod on a land mine - in your garden."
As he opened the door to leave Butcher almost ran headlong into the two security men who were just about to enter.
"What do you want?" he snapped at them.
"We have a box here, marked exclusively for your attention, sir."
"Put it on that desk, I have to go out."
"I`m afraid we have instructions that you`re to open this immediately."
"WHAT??? Has it been scanned?"
The two security guards looked at each other. "Yes sir. Which is why you`ve got to open it now."
Somewhat confused, Butcher took a letter opener and split the seal securing the box. He opened it to peer at the contents, gasped and stepped back. "What the fuck...??"
"That`s exactly what they thought when they scanned the box for explosives sir, only they couldn`t open it when marked exclusively for your attention."
"Bur that`s a fucking hand in there!"
"So it would seem sir."
"What are those other things?"
One of the security guards looked a little closer at the box, then turned his face towards Butcher. "They`re toes sir!"
The security guards explained that they had to take the box away, but Butcher was only to glad to see the back of it. He left the office and exited the building on the run. The drive to his house was short, but when he got there a police officer explained that Mrs Butcher had left - he didn`t know where she had gone to.
Butcher went into the garden to discover a battleground. A hole of over a meter in diameter was blown into a section of his lawn, and it looked as if someone had thrown a tin of dark red paint onto his grass. That impression may have been believable, were it not for the chunks of torn matted flesh and fur scattered over the garden and into the hedges. In an instant he could see that the front half of Mr Gibbon had been ripped into chunks by the blast, whilst the remaining half lay a short distance from the centre of the blast.
Butcher went into the house and poured himself a brandy from the cabinet. It was well over two hours before the policeman came to inform him that they had done as many tests and taken as many photographs as they could. The police were leaving.
"But my lawn! The bits of...."
The policeman handed him a card. "We don`t, er, clean up..." a pause, "the bits sir. This lady can usually be contracted to clean carpets, sofas and stuff. I`m sure she`ll be able to help you out. Do you need to see anyone, a councillor perhaps?"
He said he was fine, and that he had to get back to the office, and he watched the police drive away. He was surprised, however, to find that his car would not start. It would not even turn over. In a rage Butcher popped the bonnet to see if he could find the cause of the problem.
If he was amazed to se that someone had removed the ignition leads from the spark plugs whilst the police had been coming in and out of his house, he was even more shocked to see that a large piece of paper had been laid across the engine.
It read, "BANG - YOU`RE DEAD!"
He was shaking when he eventually got back to the office. All throughout the drive he had kept looking back over his shoulder or kept checking the mirrors to see if he was being followed. He knew that there was virtually no chance of spotting Jacobs even if he was tailing him - and that was when the realisation struck him like a cold stab of ice to the heart. He had never even met Jacobs. He had hated everything about the man, but this was on reputation alone, and it was only now that he realised that Jacobs could walk up to him in the street and he`d not know who he was.
He left his office with the intention of finding some photos from Personnel that might be of use to him, when a young lady stopped him in the corridor and gave him the worst news of the day - the old man wanted to see him personally - NOW!
"I hear you`ve been having a bad day son."
Butcher noted that he`d not been offered coffee, and took the opening statement to mean `Tell me everything!`
"Yes sir. I think one of my operations -"
"In fact, unless I`m very much mistaken," the old man continued as if Butcher had not spoken, "You`ve made rather a cluster-fuck of things. Now correct me if I`m wrong. Firstly you handed over Jacobs to the Russians, yes?"
Butcher stammered that, yes, that was correct.
"Well I`m going to have to be short as I`m meeting the Prime Minister shortly. You never did meet the PM did you Butcher?"
The past tense was not lost on him.
"Jacobs did. Met three of them in fact. Each and every one congratulated him on some outstanding missions - and those were just the missions we could tell of! AND YOU -" he roared. "YOU decide to hand him to the enemy!"
"Sir, I was just -"
"Don`t interrupt me! Now I also hear that you did this to get Heath in, yes?"
Another small nod.
"No doubt hoping that I would bestow some gratitude on your pathetic attempts at brown-nosing eh? But let us not get into that. Because I also hear that things have not gone smoothly. And that I may now have one of my best men on the loose. God alone knows where my nephew is."
"Sir I received a package -"
"I know all about that. We`re trying to determine whose hand it is right now. Not that it`ll be any of your concern."
"Well you`re obviously a complete waste of space as an office manager. Lets see how well you do as a cowboy. How`s your Arabic Butcher?"
"Arabic sir? I can speak the language but -" Butchers voice was trembling with fear at what he was hearing.
"Then you`re onto a good start."
"But sir, I don`t look even vaguely Arabic. I`ve got blond hair and blue fucking eyes -"
"You`re wasting my time, and you`re wasting your own. Your flight leaves this evening. Oliver in Ops Middle East will brief you."
Butcher left the room with tears in his eyes, and a cold hand of steel round his heart.
They came and got him on his third night. He`d not even managed to make contact with his first fellow undercover operative. The resistance he put up only resulted in them beating him around the head and body. He quickly passed out.
The place smelled of urine and vomit. That and something else he couldn`t place at first. He soon came to know - it was fear, and it had permeated the very walls of the dungeon.
He discovered he was handcuffed to a chair, his chest and feet bare and cold. A huge, scruffy, bearded guard with only one eye held a rifle with casual ease and confidence. There was nothing else in the room.
After a while the door opened and a man entered, looking immaculate in a Russian uniform.
"You must excuse me for the wait you have had to endure, and for my dishevelled appearance, but I have had a long flight," he said in his own tongue. "You speak Russian, no?"
"A little," Butcher murmured.
"Raoule here," he nodded towards the guard, "speaks only Arabic, and that very poorly. But if you`d prefer we can speak in English."
Butcher nodded, and the man continued in flawless English. "There is much I want you to clearly understand. Your importance as a man of British Intelligence was brought to my attention by our Arabic friends here. It has only been with much persuasion hat I have been allowed to carry out your interrogation. We are now in debt to these people, but I have persuaded my superiors that such a debt will indeed prove worthwhile. So Mr Butcher, where shall we begin?"
To his horror Butcher found that he suddenly lost control of his bladder. He was too scared to even speak. He started to cry.
"Not going to speak to me Mr Butcher? Maybe I should get Raoule here to rip your tongue out then eh, as it is clearly no good?"
"But then I really wont be able to speak to you. Please, please don`t hurt me."
The man stepped very close - so close that Butcher could feel his breath on his face when he next spoke. "Hey, Butcher. I want you to know something. Here`s what I`m going to do. I`m going to cut your toes off with a bolt cropper, then I`m going to cut off your right hand. That mean anything to you?"
Butcher was almost hysterical with fear. He started to try to plea for mercy again, but the man cut him off.
"You wont be able to talk, because you`ll be screaming with pain - and you wont be able to talk afterwards because I`m going to rip your tongue out so that you can`t tell anyone what I`m about to tell you. I was lucky - and I got to Heath before he could blow the whistle on me. He`s in a cell somewhere in Russia. No toes, so he can`t run. No tongue, so he can`t talk. And no hand, so he can`t write. But I`m going to send him a friend - you! And you`ll both have one hand left, so you can wave at each other. Why? Because you had everything Butcher, everything. But you didn`t know it, and you wanted more. Well I`ve taken it all away now, and I`m going to give you what you intended to give me."
Butcher started to scream. "NO! NO!"
From behind his back Jacobs produced a pair of bolt croppers. "By the way, the old man sends his regards!"