[Allan Topol / AllanTopol.Com]
Lightning paced thriller writer
of International Intrigue
National Bestselling Author

by Allan Topol, [IMAGE]2003


The normally cool and unflappable Yahiro Sato was furious. Someone had found out about his trip to Buenos Aires.

"Repeat what you just told me," he said tensely to Terasawa.

The bodyguard was in the ornate lobby of the Alvear Palace Hotel, in a corner, behind a white marble pillar, speaking on a cell phone rather than the house phone to minimize the chances of an eavesdropper.

"I was down here keeping my eyes open, as you directed, when a man walked into the hotel. I don't know his name, but I've seen him before in Tokyo. He's one of Prime Minster Nakamura's lackies."

"You're sure of that?"


"Okay. Then what?"

"I moved off to the side, behind a post so he couldn't see me, but I heard him when he went up to the reception desk."

Sato was gripping the phone tightly, "And?"

"He told the reception clerk that he was with your party. He wanted a room close by the presidential suite."

How could he have known that's where I was, Sato asked himself. There had to be a leak among the clerical people in Sato's office. It couldn't be tolerated. He didn't have time to ferret out the culprit and punish him. When he got back to Tokyo, he'd fire the lot of them. Radical surgery for a serious cancer.

"So he was put in Room 820," Terasawa continued "Two doors away from you. He's already gone upstairs. What do you want me to do?"

There was only one possible conclusion, Sato decided. Nakamura had sent the worm to spy on him, to see whom he was meeting. He glanced at the gold Rolex on his wrist. It was already ten fifteen in the evening. He had asked the American to fly down from Washington and come to the presidential suite at nine tomorrow morning. When he arrived, Nakamura's worm couldn't be permitted to see him under any circumstances.

Sato held the phone close to his mouth. "Distract the man, " he whispered. "Any way you want. And make sure he stays distracted until we leave town at noon tomorrow."

Terasawa closed up his cell phone and put it in his pocket. He would enjoy dealing with the spy. As he ran his hand over the long scar on his left cheek, a souvenir from a knife battle during his days with the Yakuza, a plan was already taking shape in his mind.

* * *

Up on the eighth floor of the Alvear, Hayaski waited until the bellman was gone for ten minutes before he peeked out of the door into the spacious thick blue-carpeted lobby to make certain it was deserted. Then in his stockinged feet, he tiptoed into the corridor and planted each of three tiny round silver metallic objects the size of a watch battery under the edge of the carpet, along the wall, spaced at equal intervals between the elevator and the presidential suite at the end of the hall. One was very close to Hayaski's room. All three were motion sensors that would trigger an alarm in Hayaski's briefcase to let him know when someone was walking in the corridor. He could then race over to the door of his room, look out and see who was going to Sato's suite. In the event he missed them going in, he would remain at his open door until they emerged. Then he would take their picture with a tiny handheld camera that resembled a pen. And if Sato left the suite, the sensor would alert him to that and Hayaski would follow him. It was a perfect plan. Nothing could go wrong.

Knowing that the alarm would alert him, he could relax in the suite, maybe doze off a little, because he was still jet lagged from the long flight. Hayaski ordered dinner from room service. The Argentine beef he had heard so much about was tasteless and stringy when compared to Kobe, but then again nothing in the world could measure up to that. The Argentine beer was watery. He had never been to the country before, but he was beginning to see why it was second rate. As he ate, Hayaski became irritated. He had been sent a long way on a stupid assignment. What difference did it make with whom Sato met? The man had no chance of being elected prime minister. He was a joke out there on the right wing fringe.

Once the waiter had cleared the dishes, Hayaski picked up the thin booklet on the television set, which described the pay movies that were available. All were in English or Spanish so he couldn't understand much of any of them, but that didn't bother him. The erotica offering was Hot, Wet and Wild. He'd get what he wanted from that movie even if he didn't know what they were saying.

Before he turned on the television set, the alarm in the briefcase rang. Hayaski turned it off. Still dressed in pants and a white shirt, he raced over to the door and opened it. An elderly man and a woman were staggering down the hall, speaking English loudly, and slurring their words. They obviously had too much to drink at dinner. He watched them go into a room across the hall. Then he closed the door and returned to the television set.

Fifteen minutes into Hot, Wet and Wild, three naked women were in a hot tub fondling each other. Hayaski propped up in bed against a pillow. He slid out of his pants and tossed them on a chair. His erection was sticking out of the opening in his white cotton boxer shorts.

The alarm rang again. He turned it off and ran over to the door. As he peeked out, he saw a gorgeous woman with long black hair walking from the elevator in the direction of his room and the presidential suite. She was tall, almost six feet, wearing stiletto heels and a short black leather jacket that ended halfway up her thighs. He couldn't tell what she had on underneath because the coat covered up the rest. He could clearly see her curves, which were mind numbing. Maybe this Argentina wasn't so bad after all.

As she came closer, he shut his door, deciding to rely on the peep hole until she was past so he didn't seem to be eavesdropping, particularly if she was headed for Sato's suite, which is what he expected. You lucky bastard, he thought, with envy.

To his astonishment, she stopped in front of his door and knocked softly. Worried about being seen by someone so close to Sato's room and compromising his mission, he kept his door shut and looked out through the peephole.

"Yes please," he said using two of the few English words he knew.

"They sent me from the agency," she said.

He didn't know what the hell she was talking about.

When he didn't respond, she untied the belt of her black leather jacket and let it hang open. Underneath she was wearing a flimsy see-through bra that held only about half of her voluptuous round breasts and a sheer g-string that covered a fraction of her thick black pubics.

Hayaski gaped. Stunned by what he saw, he was frozen to the spot.

When he still didn't respond, she closed up her jacket. "They must have made a mistake," she said. She turned and started to walk back to the elevator. Hayaski couldn't stand it any more. She must have gotten the room numbers mixed up, he decided. Sato's loss would be his gain. He opened the door and grabbed her by the arm, pulling her into his room. "No mistake," he said.

Once the door was closed, she held out her hand. This time he knew what she meant. That was universal. He walked over to his pants, reached into his pocket and peeled off a bunch of hundreds from the roll of dollars he had for the trip. That seemed to satisfy her because she put the money in her jacket pocket.

He began groping her, but she pulled away. She gave him a little feel through his cotton pants and said, "later. First, I'll dance for you."

She pointed to the bed. When he was propped up there, she turned off the television set and turned on the radio. She tried a number of different stations until she found what she was looking for: a tango. She hung her jacket over a chair and kicked off her shoes. Then she began dancing on the thick blue carpet near the door, writhing to the music in an incredibly sensuous, undulating motion, swaying and twisting with the rhythm. Hayaski's mouth was wide open. His cock hard and swollen. He had never seen anything like it in his life. The women who stripped and danced at the bars in the Roppongi that he liked to frequent were rank amateurs compared with this one. He wanted her in bed so much. Yet he didn't want her to stop. He hoped he could control himself. If not, there could be a second time. He was proud of his male prowess. With her, it could be six times.

Hayaski's concentration was interrupted by the sound of the alarm in his brief case. He cursed loudly. With all of his heart, he wanted to ignore it, but his sense of duty was too strong. He reached across the bed to turn off the alarm.

Before he had a chance to run to the door and look out, the woman wheeled around and grabbed the doorknob. Twisting it, she unlocked the door.

"Hey, whatÂ…" Hayaski cried out, but he knew exactly what was happening. He charged toward the door, keeping his body low and close to the ground. Leading with his right shoulder like a powerful projectile, he knocked her out of his way and onto the ground. He slammed into the door hoping to blast it shut which would kick on the lock and give him time to call hotel security. But he was too late. The door was already opening. Whoever was on the other side was pushing the door in and much stronger.

The door continued flying open until it flattened Hayaski against the wall, knocking him to a sitting position on the floor, senseless and sapped of energy. Through a haze he watched his assailant, a Japanese man, who looked vaguely familiar, wearing a suit and tie and white gloves, with a long ugly scar on one cheek, close the door. He handed the woman some money. In a few seconds, she put on her shoes and her black jacket and left the room.

Hayaski was unable to resist as the man with the scar picked him up high in the air as if he were a baby and tossed him onto the bed on his back. Then he climbed up and straddled Hayaski, pressing his knees against Hayaski's arms. He removed a piece of piano wire from his jacket pocket. Hayaski's mind told him to fight back, to resist, but he couldn't summon the energy, and scarface was too powerful.

Hayaski watched in helpless horror as his assailant looped the piano wire around his neck and pulled it tight. His eyes were bulging and his body gave one final shudder.

Terasawa let go of the wire and climbed off the bed. He reached into Hayaski's pants and took out all his money, American and Japanese. After tossing Hayaski's wallet on the floor, he removed a condom from his pocket and placed that on the table next to the bed.

The cops would have no doubt that Hayaski has been robbed and killed by a prostitute he had invited into his room. They wouldn't make any effort to investigate. Since the economic crises had begun, there had been a surge in crime where Argentines were the victims. The police had to spend their limited resources on those cases. Why bother to investigate the murder of a Japanese tourist who was stupid enough to invite a stranger to his room to get his rocks off.

As Terasawa was preparing to leave the room, he looked around for the do not disturb sign, which had fallen to the floor in the melee. He picked it up and placed it on the outside of the door as he left.

He was confident that no one would enter the room before noon tomorrow. By then he and Sato would be gone.

When he was back down in the lobby, he called Sato on his cell phone, "mission accomplished."

* * *

At eight forty-five in the morning, the dining room table in the three bedroom suite was fully set for breakfast. The waiters had departed, leaving behind platters of smoked salmon, caviar, smoked white fish, cold meats and cheeses, bowls of exotic fruit, baskets of bread, rolls with marmalade and two large pots of coffee.

Sato poured himself a cup of coffee, and walked with it past the baby grand piano in the living room, toward the high floor to ceiling windows that provided a view of the broad Avenue Alvear below. Morning traffic was heavy, stop and go, on the wide streets and boulevards of the Recolete, which sliced through the most fashionable area in all of South America, lined with expensive boutiques and restaurants. This city always reminded Sato of Milan.

It was a gorgeous late August day. The end of winter in Argentina filled with the renewed hope that comes with spring. It matched Sato's mood. All things were possible. The conclusion of the long running Japanese economic nightmare. The end of the even longer Japanese military weakness, relative to its historical enemy: China. All that was needed was proper leadership in Tokyo, and a meaningful program to emerge from the depths of weakness and subservience. Sato was ready to supply both of those.

Looking out of the window, he tried to get a good view of the entrance to the hotel. He had no doubt that the American would come. The man's desire for revenge had to be overwhelming.

Promptly at nine o'clock there was a firm knock on the door. He put the cup down and straightened his silk Hermes tie as well as the jacket of the double-breasted navy blue Brioni suit.

"I'm Yahiro Sato," he said, as he closed the door behind the American.

Sato wanted to see if the American shook his hand or bowed. He did neither.

"I know who you are." The reply was terse. "I read the newspapers."

Sato pointed to the dining room table. "Perhaps we can talk over breakfast." He started to move that way.

Not the American. He stood fixed in place. "I didn't come here to eat," he said in a gruff tone that Sato had heard often from powerful Americans over the years. "I've come a long way. Tell me why you wanted to see me." The tone was impatient. "Why you sent me the note that said November 21, 1949."

Sato sighed. He preferred to pursue a discussion like this in a slower, more orderly manner while they ate breakfast, but he had no choice. "I want your help in removing the one obstacle blocking my objective of evicting the American military from Japan and rearming my country in order that we can challenge China for control of Asia."

His words produced a skeptical expression on his visitor's face. "What are you talking about?"

"If Senator Boyd is elected president, then I won't be able to implement my program. I can't let that occur."

"What do you care? Why not implement your program regardless of what the American president says?"

"Unfortunately, it's not that easy. If your president opposes my program, the Diet will never approve the necessary constitutional change or back me on the withdrawal of American troops. Both President Webster and Crane would support me. You know I'm right on that. I've made every effort to win over Boyd, butÂ…"

"You'll never win him over. He's a foolish idealist. He'll want to placate the Chinese in the hope that they'll curb their growing bellicosity, and we'll all live in peace and harmony." He snarled. "Ridiculous clap trap."

Sato walked over to the dining room table to pick up a redweld folder.

In stony silence, the American watched Sato place the folder on a glass coffee table in front of him.

"Inside," Sato said, "you'll find the information you need. You'll know what to do with it."

"What makes you think I'll help you?"

The question hung in the air. The American looked at Sato for an answer, but Sato turned away, walked back into the dining room and poured himself a cup of coffee. The man was alone with his remembrances.

Everything about that day in early October of 1949 was firmly embedded in his mind, as if it happened yesterday. He had been seven at the time living in Shanghai with his mother and his father, a missionary from the United States. It was eight in the morning. They had just finished breakfast. He was putting his books in his bag for school, when five Chinese soldiers burst into the apartment, guns in their hands. The little red stars on their caps caught his eye.

At that moment, their lives were ripped apart. The nightmare began as his father was hauled off to a Chinese jail and charged by Mao's government with being a spy for Chiang Kai Shek.

Six weeks later on November 21, the nightmare reached a crescendo. It didn't end. For the boy, it continued on and on, driving out whatever had been left of his childhood.

Sato watched the American roll up his hands into fists. His eyes were on fire. "My father was framed for political reasons to strike a blow at the American government and the Christian religion."

"So now I'm offering you a chance for revenge against Mao's successors."

The American sat down, opened up the folder, leafed through the contents and raised his eyebrows.

"You'll find in there," Sato said, "an envelope with a fax and telephone number in Tokyo, should you wish to reach me. Ask for Nara, and relay the information to the woman who answers to that name. Use the code name R.L., letters I selected at random, for this and any other communications. In Japan I have a special electronic device which will scramble the numbers on any call you make to me. No one will be able to connect us from those calls."

Sato was aware that he hadn't received any response from the American. Still, he pressed on, sounding confident that his visitor would do what he was asking. "I also want your help in writing speeches that I can give in Japan and in the United States that will make me sound reasonable. Not like the way Alex Glass has been describing me in the New York Times, as some type of fascist. Together, we can change the political face of Asia."

Sato decided to stop talking. There were deep creases in the American's forehead. Remembering was painful.

After a full two minutes, he stood up. Sato held his breath.

"You can count on me," he said. "I've waited a long time for a chance like this."

Sato saw the thirst for revenge on his face. Always the strongest of motives. Sato knew that he could depend on the man he had dubbed R.L. The man was sufficiently well placed and powerful in America to get the result Sato wanted.