Ben Venice: G.H.O.S.T. Agent 5


Part 5

“Oh hey, you’re awake. Good. You want a sandwich?” Bud tossed an unmarked book that he had been reading onto the center console, and got up from the built in sofa to go to the plane’s mini-fridge.

“Not just yet.” Ben rubbed his eyes and sat up.

“Well, I’m having one. Ham’s pretty good.” Bud said, pulling out a sandwich wrapped in foil and canned Schlitz, then returning to his spot across from Ben.

Looking out one of the small, round  windows, Ben saw nothing but ocean blue. “So what the hell is going on, here?”

“I couldn’t talk turkey with you until we got you out of the country. Unfortunately, although we’re working to protect America, we can’t hang out around there too much.” Bud said, then took a bite from his sandwich. “Unless we’re on a mission or something.”

Ben was beginning to question the sanity of his friend, as well as himself for getting into whatever this was. Bud detected this, perhaps from the way that Ben buried his face in his hands.

“Allright Sarge, here’s what the deal is. I’ll paint in broad strokes here, because we’ll be coming in for a landing pretty soon, and I want you to have a handle on who these cats are you’re going to be meeting.” Bud said, setting his sandwich aside, “It started with an espionage and paramilitary group Kennedy was putting together because he didn’t trust Hoover, and he was kinda iffy on most of his generals, too. Except one guy. Did you hear about General Schwartz?”

“Sure.” Ben answered, “5 star muckety muck, died in that plane crash. Big news story just before the Bay Of Pigs, then it was forgotten.”

“Yeah, well, he’s not dead. We staged that whole crash thing to get him off the board, He answered directly to Kennedy for this project we’re still working on. All of us, including you and me, have faked deaths, so that we can act with impunity on what we have to do.” Bud said, matter of fact.

“What about Kennedy? Is he not dead, too? Are we gonna go meet him? Maybe he can tell us if Marilyn’s curtains matched her drapes.” Ben responded, as he lit a Chesterfield.

“Nah, Jack’s dead.” Bud said, “Jack’s real dead. And no, they didn’t match, but it didn’t matter with her, you hardly noticed. Anyway, after Kennedy was shot last year, our whole thing just kept rolling, because we were set up to act autonomously. Nobody in the government knew we existed, including LBJ.”

“Yeah, nobody wants to trust Johnson with anything important.” Ben said, scratching his head and gazing out the window.

“I detect that you’re ribbing me a little bit, Sarge, but what you’re saying is actually right. We’re talking about a guy who sent his jacket to the cleaner’s but left the code to activate the nuclear missile silos in it’s pocket. That guy’s not ready for what we’re dealing with. Maybe Jack Kennedy wasn’t up for it, either.” Bud could see that Ben was having a tough time taking in what he was telling him.

“This is a lot to lay on you, Sarge. But I’ve followed your activities since the war, and I know you’re going to be the exact right guy for what we need from you. You and the Captain will hit it off, and then we can get down to brass tacks.”

Ding! Ding! Louise’s voice came over the intercom. “Buckle up, gentlemen. We’re coming in for a landing.”

“That dame’s flying the plane?” Ben asked, taking a draw off his smoke.

“Ha, ha, she can fly a plane and do a whole lot more, Sarge. Take it from me, she’s no shrinking violet.” Bud mused, as he snapped his seat belt in place.

Ben looked out the window, expecting to see a land mass. Instead, he saw that they were closing in on an aircraft carrier. On the side, the words USS INDIANAPOLIS were emblazoned.

“Figures. So if you answered to Kennedy, and Kennedy’s dead, who’s in charge of this thing?” Ben asked, snubbing out his cigarette in the built-in ashtray.

“You are.” Bud smiled big.

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Ben Venice: G.H.O.S.T. Agent 4


Part 4

“Jesus. Are we going to Mars?”

Ben had seen plenty of planes, and in fact, he might’ve jumped out of one once, but this sleek thing of beauty was in a class by itself. Not like a big lumbering dinosaur flying fortress or the propeller driven suicide machines he saw during the war.  Bud just laughed.

“Not this trip, Sarge!”

Bud parked the car cavalierly and the two men popped out. They had driven all day to this spot, a strange, deserted, flat piece of ground somewhere down the coast. Ben wasn’t sure where they were. In fact, he had no idea. In fact, he had a hard time focusing all day, since just after breakfast.

“Bud, lissen, what’s this all about?” Ben noticed his words slurred a bit as he slid them out.

“You know that gum you were chewing?” Bud asked, as he knocked on the side of the plane.


“Well, I’ll level with you, Sarge. Right after you agreed to come with me on this, I slipped you a mickey. Shit’s gonna get really weird on you quick, and I know sometimes you do your best work if you can get a little altered, and I want this to go down easy for you. ”

With a low hum, the staircase doorway to the plane unfurled with a mechanical swivel.

“But you agreed. Remember that. I didn’t trick you. All you cared about was bringing your records and seeing some heat again, and that’s fine by me, because I know you’ve got a motherfucker of a record collection and can swing OK against some heat.” Bud said, poking Ben in the chest. He then quickly changed the subject.

“Louise! You ready to go, or you want to stretch your legs first?”

“I’m ready now. Let’s get gone.” a tough, almost feline female voice responded. Ben looked up to the top of the steps and was struck by the sight of the chick from the hotel bar the night before, now looking like she was ready to go toe to toe with Marlene Dietrich in black slacks, black shirt, high boots, and aviators,

“Ah.” she said, “You hooked him.”

Ben inhaled deep, then smirked hard. “Sorry now that I blew you off before. I suppose you and Bud are in cahoots.”

“Something like that, I suppose. Mr.Allen speaks very highly of you. You can drink, I’ll say that for you. Easy coming up the steps.” And with that, she disappeared into the cockpit.

“Whoa.” Ben said.

“Yeah.” Bud replied, “C’mon, man. Let’s get going.”

Bud carefully followed Ben up into the plane, where he let out an exclamation at the lushness of the tricked out interior. Attached couches lined the wall, and in the center run of the tubular flying room was a console loaded with screens and buttons. Everything was luxurious white, metal and glass.

“You’re sure we’re not going to Mars?” Ben asked, just before he flopped into the plush amenity.

“Ah, there ain’t shit on Mars, Sarge. Lay back, buckle up, and saw some logs. I’ll cue up Round Midnight.”

Bud pressed a couple of buttons, a circuit connected, some reels turned, and the warm sound of Miles Davis filled the air, just as the plane began it’s run for takeoff. Ben wasn’t awake and he wasn’t asleep, but he he was looking forward to killing someone again. Someone who really had it coming.

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