For All Nails #39A: Body, Mind and Character

by David Mix Barrington

Aboard private yacht Jonquille, in harbor
Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, Danish Virgin Islands
28 December 1972

Major Felipe Jackson was a man who believed in duty. Among his more macho vices was a secret one, an addiction to the romantic novels of David Anson Henry FN1. He told himself that it was research -- since Henry had inspired the Turnerites FN2, who had built modern Manitoba, the spiritual center of the CNA, it was a way to better know his enemy. But he often found himself daydreaming about Henry's heroes, strong men who tamed the Manitoban wilderness in the company of strong women, all through their devotion to duty. Duty to family, to community, and to God, the wise stewardship of nature, modeling the perfect love of Jesus and his disciples...

But for the present Jackson had his duty to country, and to his superiors in Army Intelligence. And it was in pursuit of this duty, he reflected as he padded across the cabin from the head and stopped to take in the sight of the naked woman on his bunk, that he had brought Astrid home from the bar.

He had a primary duty to maintain his cover identity. It would have been out of character for any man not to respond to Astrid, and particularly out of character for an independently wealthy, handsome young yachtsman like Phil Jackson of Miami FN3. More importantly, perhaps, Astrid was a naval attache connected to one of the many unpronouncable Scandinavian intelligence agencies. She could be a key source for intelligence on Scandinavian naval affairs, a matter of increasing importance to Mexico.

The Scandies were the largest "neutral" country in Europe, but their proximity to Germany made them natural allies of Britain and thus of the CNA. They had had little to do with Mexico since the latter's bungled and never-acknowledged attempt to grab these very islands when no one was looking during the Global War. But Jackson had already learned enough -- three very sophisticated ship-killer submersibles, possibly more, and facilities that could maintain even larger craft. The Scandie engineers were good, but there was only one place with such advanced submersible technology. Jackson had half-expected to confirm that a "Taiwanese Navy" undersea launch platform had already visited St.Thomas. That hadn't happened yet, but the base was ready for one and so were a number of unmistakably Kramer personnel.

Astrid would soon note his curiosity, he was afraid. He would then have to "let her discover" that he was "actually" a free-lance journalist on the trail of a Hoboken Prize FN4 -- he could show her a few travel articles with the byline "Jackson Phillips" to prove it. Beyond that, he could always fall back on his old standby, an undercover assignment with the CBI. It would be a long time, if ever, before Astrid need ever know his real name and identity.

Anyone watching him closely over the last few weeks would have had no trouble believing the CBI story, he reflected. His last two stops had been in USM-allied Cuba and neutral Porto Rico FN5. It was amusing to think of how his naval counterparts would react to a detailed report of what the observant passerby could discover about the USM base at Guantanamo. And Porto Rico! With its still-ambiguous connections to a Spanish government that was allied to Germany, at least this month, the revolutionary "Republic of Boricua" and Mexico's chief allies were up to something. He now knew what, and sometime about now his microfoto'd report was being removed from under the stamp of a postcard to "Phil"'s nonexistant aunt in New Orleans. The Secretary would soon know the real nature of the "distillery equipment" shipped from Germany to San Juan and nearly assembled in the western part of the island. And Jackson was willing to bet a hundred devalued dolares that this was the first news the Secretary would have of it.

Jackson was not what his colleagues called a "big-picture hombre," and thus his need-to-know briefings were weak on the subject of atomic weapons. But he was an avid reader of Jane's Military Monthly and Aeronautics Week, two publications whose networks of confidential sources excited his professional envy. Everyone knew that the Bombs pointed from Britain to Europe and vice versa were about the size and weight of a Dickinson FN6. The workhorse rockets of either side could throw such a Bomb 2500 or 3000 kilometers FN7, and it was these rockets that were now on Porto Rico. A circle of 2500 kilometers from the site included Charleston and the naval base at Pensacola. 3000 kilometers was enough to reach New Orleans, New York City, or Burgoyne. The "big picture hombres" would have to deal with the implications of that. For that matter, even the 2500-km circle included most of Yucutan...

His attention returned to his present companion. Here was a woman to make a life with, he thought. Henry's heroes were very careful to pick out exactly the right woman -- the perfect ideal in body, mind, and character. (Their tendency to choose "women" in their early teens had been fodder for literary critics and armchair alienists for generations.) Astrid's body was well displayed at the moment. Strictly speaking, a Henry hero might consider her evident beauty to be only a superficial asset, but Jackson had seen plenty of evidence of her strength and endurance earlier that evening. Mind? She spoke English and Spanish like a native, and presumably knew several of the bizarre collection of languages in her homeland. Their conversation boded well for her bearing smart children, or companioning long winter nights. Character? Turnerites thought that true character only emerged in bed (hence the controversial "community-building rituals" that had driven some to exile). Jackson would not go so far, but he was not without experience with a number of women, and Astrid seemed to be someone he could trust.

Of course she was probably some sort of spy herself, but that could work too, he thought. They could go into "private practice" together, a family farm raising secrets instead of Linnaean wheat FN8. They could get a bigger boat, raise the kids right on it...

He carefully climbed into the bunk next to her. She stirred, locked his leg with hers, and snuggled up close. "Mi Felipe," she murmured.

Forward to FAN #39B (Caribbean): Tropical Paradox.

Forward to 2 January 1973: Secretarial Privilege.

Return to For All Nails.