The Man From Chicago

Sec/Spy Security Committee Briefing, House of Matriarchs—Restricted to Security Clearance Beta or Above

”Hard times require hard solutions. We are still in hard times in the Zone. As when we were underground, all we seek is national sovereignty and to be left alone. We also hold no male citizen here against his will. We only ask that he keep to his proper place and cooperatively take his medicine when he occasionally fails to do so.

”But no amount of negotiation softens the hostility towards us of the Patriarchal States where women have been returned to drudgery, constant child bearing, and political suppression. This is the case whether it is Dixieland, Mohamabad, or Mormonia, all of which are now at the edge of Climate Inhabitability and thus under significant social strain, projected as resentment toward we Matriarchals.

”Inside the Zone, we experience constant espionage and attempts at psychological sabotage from the governments of these states, because the Compact requires that no non-citizen be totally prohibited from visiting unless explicit harm from their visit can be anticipated. This is the reason we demand GPS microchiping of all guests by Cus/Pa, and use a long screening and training process of applicants for citizenship.

”The world is now under one currency so bribe giving for information, or for spreading oral anti-matriarchal propaganda can no longer be as easily traced, but the potential bribe giver certainly can. The Security and Spying Service, known as Sec/Spy does monitor all non-citizen microchips on a random, digital aided, basis, as well as using them to trace someone during a direct investigation of suspicious activity. If need be, we also have a silent microchiping gun that does its work with no more discomfort to the unsuspecting target than a bad mosquito bite. Plain clothes Sec/Spy agents can carry them in the form of a fully functional umbrella or in other guises.

”Since we are among the like-minded and security cleared here, we can be frank. Sec/Spy runs its own judicial and penal system parallel to the others, with full power to order long imprisonment and judicial caning in matters of legal security violations. Where this takes place, and the specifics of what goes on there, is totally secret as a matter of national security. All this, of course, is in direct violation of the Compact, thus so as far as you are concerned, outside of this room no such things ever happen. I don’t have to remind you that any comment to the contrary elsewhere is itself a VERY serious security violation.

”We do no spying ourselves. We endanger no citizen by asking them to run agent networks among the Patriarchies and put their life on the line by doing so. We have no ambition to interfere with these other states in world society. Not even with their barbaric return to Hanging, Electrocution, or the Guillotine. Nor do we use the Death Penalty or Life Imprisonment as punishment for any security crime as they most certainly do. Sooner or later any spy we hold is repatriated. The most we do is leave him with a permanently scarred and painful buttocks. This is sufficient to ensure his retirement as a field agent. We also strongly suspect that he won’t be offered a bureaucratic office job sitting from 9-5 daily when he returns.”

My name is Henry Peterson. And I’m a spy. Now if you simply take my word for it, I have some nice property down in Dixieland you can get for cheap. Right off of Mobile Bay. Oh, the town of Mobile, Alabama doesn’t exist anymore, you say? Hasn’t been there since 2040 when the sea level rise caught up to it? Well, Dixieland is kind of hot now for true vacation property, anyway.

My first statement, about my name, is false, because the second statement is true, I am a spy. My real name left me for a man who died in a car accident in 2035. At least all the news records and police records say so. Since then, I’ve had 7 different identities for my work. Including Henry Peterson.

Worried that I’m still lying to you? Nice to see someone here with their skeptical buttons on. Happens so rarely. Here, in the Matriarchal Zone, most of the dominant ladies and submissive gentlemen are really rather gullible. Price you pay for so-called “semi-authoritarian” politics where “everybody knows their place and keeps to it.”

For most people in the Zone, it’s not their place to ask questions or be skeptical, it’s someone else’s place to do that, thank you. One of those many “front slash” police agencies might just sweep you away and “retrain” you if you start doing it.

Though, I grant you, ALL the ladies here do swing a mean leather strap, even those on the outcast fringes. I know that from firsthand experience–the welts on my bottom and thighs were a full 3/4 inches wide and hurt off and on for two full weeks. Not to mention the embarrassment of being whipped and thrown out of a brothel for bad conduct. One of the tarts was asking too many questions. Cost of doing spy business here, I’m afraid, and no hard feelings left about it. I’m a pro.

As you can tell, I’m not a citizen here. Oh I have a non-citizen badge, but today’s not the day to wear it, and they are optional. Spying here is horribly easy. The only ones not clueless are the high toned bitches of Sec/Spy, the Security Service. But they can’t be everywhere at once so you stay out of their way and work your wiles on the clueless ones.

A little bit rough with the tongue about them I am, calling them bitches. They wouldn’t take it in bad part, though they might beat the behind off me if they ever hear it. In my world, one of the things such language means is that their agents are normally a little sharper than those of my agency. They’re pros, too, and tough as they come. Luckily, so far, I’ve managed to stay out of their way for about five years now.

But even good agents can get fooled and good services have weaknesses. The weakness of Sec/Spy is that they have few to no men in their agency, not even as subordinates. Whenever you make people submissive, you automatically make them into security risks. And a good thorough hiding for the man (the Zone’s answer to any and every problem) doesn’t do any good if they’ve already spilled the beans.

There are things about the way men think that women simply are clueless about, unless they ask some man about them, and “submissive” men never fully develop those habits of thought, since they have to so completely mirror their dominant women. That’s “their place” and they keep to it. So my very intelligent Sec/Spy adversaries remain clueless about the mental habits of male spies like me.

Except, I’m afraid, for Misha Haaretz, the daughter of the former head of Mossad, whose specialty was “honey traps”, where she would seduce either male or female enemy agents, steal their secrets, then break their necks when, after a good bang up 3 orgasms, the poor dupe lying next to her was totally dead to the world. Misha would make them just totally dead. She came on board Sec/Spy two years ago. The Zone was the only place still left in the slowly shrinking habitable world where she could emigrate to because she never made any enemies here. Sec/Spy was glad to hire her and she can live a real life here without ever needing to fear a bullet in the back.

Since she got here, she’s been breathing down my neck. She’s very good at breaking necks so that’s the last place you want her to be. There are very few Israelis in the Zone and, until, Misha, no known Mossad operatives. Sec/Spy hired her first as the Doctor of their judicial canings, the one who judges when the man strapped to the caning bench has finally been maimed for life. You might call the Physician’s oath she swore the Hypocritical Oath, like all the doctors in our agencies.

But it wasn’t long before she was running their small and not very well funded Counterintelligence In The Streets department. The name means looking for guys like me, long termers who last more than the usual 20 weeks before being caught, interrogated, and broken so badly that, in states like Mormonia or Mohamabad, a plane ticket back for them is the same thing as a death warrant. Doesn’t seem to trouble the conscience of Sec/Spy at all.

Misha looks for the ones who are smart and careful. There are more of them from all the Zone’s adversary countries than the high toners at Sec/Spy have even dreamed. Since you don’t execute or cane to destruction most spies and you eventually repatriate them, my own agency treats the newbies who they send here as cannon fodder, stuffing them full of nonsense that they sincerely believe, for the Sec/Spy interrogators to listen to when the rookie is finally broken. They may get a lot more strappings in your prison than they deserve for being spies, but my upper ranks think that’s better still.

The old hands like me get the time, expertise, and money to do real intelligence gathering. And the newbies get a very discreet hero’s welcome when they are repatriated, before going back into training to finally become real spies. The powers that be in my agency actually think that spying here, and getting caught, interrogated, and broken is a kind of internship for newbies. They get everything bad about being a spy except a trip to the morgue. This teaches them why their tradecraft in the field must be impeccable.

I’ve used the fact that most of Sec/Spy is clueless about how male adversaries think to my advantage. Case in point: have you ever heard of “killing two birds with one stone”? Whoever thought of that wasn’t a woman.

My cover is that of a traveling cosmetics salesman. If I were working anywhere else but in the Zone, that would be no more than a flimsy fiction by day where by night I’d be out in the seedy bars and brothels and servicemen’s hangouts looking to buy some agent loyalty from those with access to secrets without setting the price too cheap. Here, it’s real.

My bosses got me the training and a legit job to actually sell cosmetics, top drawer stuff. In the Zone, still so poor in consumer goods (they refer to it here disingenuously as “job jar economics”) ALL the women are cosmetics mad! There is no better access to any of the houses in the Zone, particularly those where the women are the movers and shakers in the land. Trust me. I’ve been in them. And I’ve even left a few self destructing microphones there, so Chicago can listen directly to their chatter for 1-2 weeks at a time.

I can speak to some of those women on a first name basis because of what I sell and because I always wear my non-citizen badge proudly on the job. So I don’t have to be so deferential with them as the men in their own households are. My cover IS my spying. Two birds with one stone.

Likewise, my suspicious weekly recreation in the brothels, bars, and gambling houses (mostly frequented by fringe men with a few Working Girls leavened in.) is pure recreation. Cus/Pas and Fem/Dom can write up all the reports they want, follow my GPS chip, or shadow me in person. And Sec/Spy can read their copies while congratulating themselves about how well they keep track of suspicious and licentious non-citizens like me. So where I would truly be spying anywhere else is actually my deceptive and skin deep cover.

My agency? GLCIS or Great Lakes Consortium Intelligence Service, pronounced like “glee/sis”, unless you are resenting a dunderheaded superior, in which case you pronounce it as “gee/zus!”

It’s openly headquartered in Chicago, the capital, saving a lot of the flim flam and folderol that Sec/Spy has to go through here to keep themselves secret. Our training, however, takes place all across the Rust Belt in small town locales where any stranger stands out like a sore thumb.

That’s our concession to secrecy. That and the fact that anyone working for GLCIS has completely abandoned their legal name in the outside world. My first mission was so dangerous that GLCIS went to the trouble of killing my old name off to prevent ANY tracking of my pre-intelligence history.

When you return from a mission, you keep the workname you last used, since a “legend” had been made with a paper trail when you were first sent in, so you can live your new name without any problem in The Consortium. The documents about you are already there. On your next mission you get a completely new identity and “Henry Peterson”, living in Chicago, simply vanishes. I won’t get a new one though. Two years more and I retire and stay Henry Peterson forever. GLCIS thinks that field spying is too stressful for anyone over 55. They’re right. Their pensions are quite generous. And I’d never make a good paper pushing bureaucrat.

Once I get across that border, I’ll get a discreet and lavish welcome. No limos, but quietly painted electrocars that rich men wouldn’t be ashamed to be seen in. China made luxury all the way. Best our security observation service has to offer. If you hang around for a little while, you’ll see. And, of course Cus/Pas will ask about it in their debriefing of you.

Brothels? you say, bars? you say, gambling dens? Of course they have them here, and the “semi-authoritarian government” pays for them, so their “submissive” men can get a bargain and tip lavishly. Most women don’t want to sleep with the men in their household, though they often obtain other sexual service from them. They also don’t want them raiding the house liquor cabinet. Only a very rare women does sleep with them, and she doesn’t talk about it. Might get their bedmate arrested and “retrained”.

But masterbating men are a pain to have around and they have to get their rocks off some other way. So do middle aged spies. The real James Bond doesn’t sleep with every woman in sight. Far too dangerous and insecure. Horribly bad tradecraft. Spies go to the high class hookers, the ones who work independently on outcalls, without a pimp, who don’t pry into the spy’s business.

Well the Matriarchal Zone has a special non-citizen permit for the Working Girls and they supervise them closely. When a spy takes some erotic time off, you have to put tradecraft first and keep your mouth shut tight even after your third or fourth orgasm turns you into goofy melting butter from the endorphins. Back in Chicago they train ALL of us to do that. And they retrain every six months. Makes for a satisfying work environment for the bureaucrats, too.

The Matriarchals also have certain standards of well dressed and good looking for the girls to meet before they give out the permits. High class tarts. No streetwalkers, no junkies, no trashy women like you pick up in bars. Always presentable.

Of course, they don’t tell you ANY of this in the slick brochures they flood the rest of the world with. Not at all. Not on your nelly.

So, on their days off, the submissive men get to go, in pairs, to spy on each other, to the Working Girls. Keeps the young ones out of trouble and the older ones happy and in their place. And they are really good high class tarts. The best I’ve ever found, and I’ve been a spy visiting brothels for a long, long time. The Matriarchals make sure they get what they pay for. AND they train the girls in how to strap the daylights out of your male butt, if you don’t behave. And they always have a soundproofed punishment room to do it in.

I’ve never turned it over as fact, but I think Sec/Spy offers them strap training in one of their secret little warrens. Maybe the men they use there are the only ones they hire. They sure keep quiet about it. No one wants to be known as a professional gigolo for the spooks. The spooks don’t want that, either. Talking is a one way ticket to long jail time here.

“It’s nice to have company to escort me across the border. And you even listen politely to my outrageous lies about my life. I AM really just a perfume and lipstick salesman. Really.”

The chaperone smiled and was silent. So was I.

Though I had never seen a picture of her in my life, I “made” Micha in one of my perfume Tupperware parties in a house of a member of the Matriarchal Cabinet. One of the reasons Mossad so treasured her was that Daddy the Chief of Operations made sure she was NEVER photographed. I know how Sec/Spy works and the mere fact that the Supervisor of the people hunting me down would actually come and take a look at me meant that they were within days, maybe hours, of closing in on me. So I ran, or as the newbies still say, “I grabbed my bug out bag and got out of Dodge in only my socks.” Really, I ran.

Where I went on my run is a confidential piece of my own tradecraft, and no spy shares his own way of playing the Grand Game, not even with his fellow spies. Unless he’s forced to. None of what I’ve already told you betrays anything about my handwriting, as we call spy techniques.

So here I now sit at the border of the Zone and the Consortium waiting my turn to be escorted across it by one of the fine subordinate gentlemen of Cus/Pas. They’ve already taken my GPS microchip, rephotographed my retina to confirm who I am, and had me turn in my non-citizen badge. The wound in my hand had already healed.

I’ve been genially telling lies about spying to my Cus/Pas escort and you’ve been reading them. Why? Because if I am captured, the first thing Sec/Spy will do is interview the gentleman and start my interrogation from there, instead of with any hard data they’ve gathered on me. My Escort knows his place, which is to accompany me and he won’t report my conversation to anyone until I’m across the border. As I said, gullible.

All of a sudden there’s a commotion around the corner and four women appear walking toward me with that determined gait that tells a old spy like me that they are at work and “on the clock”. Three were women of six feet and more tall, openly wearing the green, ill fitting, polyester, Sec/Spy uniform. The fourth was a woman, a little taller than average, slim, redheaded, quietly dressed in a woman’s business blazer and skirt of grey/brown worsted wool. Without a second thought I could tag them, The Boss and 3 security gorillas, the “muscle” of Sec/Spy, who didn’t use the Fem/Dom national police when they needed to use force.

“Hello, Micha,” I said.

“Hello, Henry,” she replied, “You have given us a dance for these last four weeks, with all my superiors blowing a total gasket about your disappearance. And the fact that you somehow made me and left.”

“Why don’t you send Larry, Moe, and Curly here over to one of those out-of-earshot tables,” I said, “and you can ask me a few questions.” She went into a whispered conference with them and they moved away.

“I hope for your sake that they don’t know who Larry, Moe, and Curly are. I really don’t want them going over my head and asking to have a session with you and their three straps in your prison cell. The way my bosses have been acting, they might just get permission to do it!”

“I’ll take my chances.” I said.

“Unfortunately, Henry, this is not going to be about “chance” for very long. You’ve already been tried and sentenced to a crippling caning next Tuesday on the Black Widow. After that, you know what we say here, ‘You won’t sit down for the rest of your life.’ It takes at least 750 cane strokes to complete such a sentence. And it’s no fun.”

“I know. The two others you’ve sent back to Chicago afterward are currently undergoing confined mental hospital treatment for post-traumatic stress…They were good men, and one was a friend, at least to the degree that you can be friends with anyone in this business. How come such a hurry to cane me to oblivion?”

She made a face. “Because the executionress, poor baby, has to start her 3 week vacation on Wednesday, and while I know what an interrogation gold mine you would be, my dolts of superiors don’t see it that way.” she paused, and then, lower and more confidential,”I could be your friend, Henry, if you could talk enough before Tuesday to show us how valuable you are.”

“You can put away the rest of the rotomontade, Micha. If caught, Chicago expects me to tell everything. They cut their losses as soon as they heard that I was on the run. They did so for my friend also, but he was too pigheaded and too macho to talk to you. He certainly isn’t very macho now. The nightmares won’t let him be. Neither am I.” I stopped and she made no reply. They’re touchy over here about being told how much those men they cane will live in torture, mental and physical, until they die. “So be my friend and postpone my trip to the Black Widow. I don’t mind at all.”

“Well, maybe, if you give me the Crown Jewels right from the start and I can show people how valuable you are to debrief. So tell me, Henry, how did you make me?”

“It’s all in that beautiful little gold choker around your neck.” Her eyes went wide and then narrowed. I could get her in a lot more trouble over that.

“You really should make up your mind to be a bureaucrat and stay out of the fieldwork. You know from the dossiers that I notice everything. That choker is decorated with the Hebrew letters of the Name of God. You also have red hair, clear pale skin, and freckles. Even back in Chicago, we’ve heard the rumors that the reason you were so good at the honeytrap game was that you “didn’t look Jewish”. And if it were me, I’d guess that the reason you always killed was to keep just how you didn’t look Jewish a secret. With hair and skin like yours I probably would, too.”

A storm was brewing on her face, “Do you really want me to let you go to the Widow? I can do that just fine and sit in the audience to listen to you shriek.”

“No Misha. But I really do have the Crown Jewels and some of them involve you. That means my good friend needs to take complete control of my debrief so I’m never asked the question I just answered. Does that make sense?” She was silent, I knew I’d won the first round.

“What other little explosive goodies do you have?” she asked.

“The main one you can’t stop questions about. But if I tell you here, I’m sure you could use it as a trophy to take to your boss. How did I escape detection for a full month and where was I hiding? Her face softened, “Well, where were you hiding?”

“In Vauxhall Prison for Cus/Pas.”

“WHAT!!!!” she almost fell off her chair, completely blindsided by my answer.

“The hour I went on the run, I took my, quite legal, pen knife and cut out the GPS chip in my left hand. It hurt like a bastard and I bled like a stuck pig. I’m sure that’s the first thing you found and all my blood along with it. At that point you could have tracked me with a scent dog, but all of those are trained and held by Fem/Dom, and it’s “just not their place” to be chasing spies on the run, now is it?” Her face told me I’d guessed right.

“But I’m also sure you thought I was merely trying to make my movements untraceable while I went to whatever safe house I had available. You put an APB out on me to the Fem/Dom cops, and you were sure that, whatever I tried to do, they would scoop me up. They didn’t. But you had to argue your superiors into it, and the APB didn’t get sent until far too late.

“After a week or more had passed, all of you at Sec/Spy concluded that I actually DID have a safe house, and it’s woman owner, know it or not, was committing treason against the Matriarchy! I’m sure THAT began to give everybody at Sec/Spy acid indigestion. The matter may have even had to go up to the Matriarchs themselves, along with the story of their friend and perfume dealer, the spy. Maybe that’s why everybody’s so keen to get me on the Widow.

“Matters got even worse after you shook down all the brothels looking for me. Not a bad guess, but the Working Girls know which side their bread is buttered on. I wasn’t there. And, finally, (playing my last card) I think someone came to you and suggested that, when they found the traitor, she could accidentally fall down some stairs and break her neck trying to run. Now, am I still your friend?”

She sat stunned for about 30 seconds. “You’re good, Henry; much better than your dossier suggested. In fact, you may be the best I’ve ever seen. But be careful, you’re inches from talking yourself into a very nasty caning and a ruined life. So how DID you get into Vauxhall Prison?”

“I simply went to Cus/Pas and showed them my mutilated hand. They didn’t ask why I did it, they didn’t care why I did it, they didn’t even ask me my name and make a retina check; they just hustled me off to Vauxhall. They also didn’t put in a new chip since I was already behind bars. That’s what you get when the powers that be tell the officers to get tough. I gambled on that, and being behind bars without giving my name made me happier than I’ve ever been in my life. Thus goes bureauracy.”

I could see the answer hit her hard, and the hardest of all was why didn’t she figure this out herself.

“Everybody has their blind spot.” I said consolingly, “I just killed two birds with one stone.”

She had nothing to say, so I continued, “It was all just pencils and crayons after that. I refused to waive my rights and take a strapping, so the wheels were put in motion to boot me out of the country as soon as I had served the required 4 weeks. I knew the time of my greatest danger was here, where you finally caught me. Somebody saw my name on the discharge and remembered the APB.

“So I’ll repeat my question, are you still my friend?”

“Well, Henry, there are 3 alternatives. I may have to, or just want to, I’m not really sure, let you go to the Widow. If I can’t get control of your interrogation I have to let you go. Next, I can get your sentence commuted and you repatriaited. If I weren’t personally involved, what you’ve already told me would let that happen. Finally, I could suggest that Sec/Spy hire you to teach our new agents. Your going to have to do something for money, and you’re far closer to being a submissive male than you think, you could become a male citizen here if you worked at it.

“So am I your friend? Maybe.”

“Misha, there’s another way you can be my friend. If I HAVE to go to the Widow, come to my cell beforehand, give me the long penetrating kiss I’m sure you are wonderful at, wrap your arms around me, and break my neck.”

“You are a wonder, Henry! That there was a fourth alternative didn’t even occur to me. I’ll give it some careful thought.”

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