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THE BOOKSTORE SPY
 
Richard Ciciarelli - 03:16pm Nov 17, 1998 PST
Guest User

"You can see our problem," F.B.I. chief Tom Baker said to Agent Jack Cornell. "We know everything about this spy system except who brings the stolen plans into the country."

"Could you go over that one more time, Chief?" Cornell asked.

"Sure," Baker nodded. "Plans involving our European defense system were stolen some time ago. The thief separated them into sections and has been passing those sections along to a group here in the city who would love to see our relations in Europe compromised.

"There are three key players in this spy system. One is the bookstore owner on Main Street. Another is the man who receives the plans from the thief, and the third is the thief himself -- or herself."

"You don't even know if the thief is a man or woman?" Cornell asked.

"Nope. He -- or she -- is a master of disguise. Now, here's what happens: On the first Friday of the month, the thief arrives in town and at exactly noon stands at the bus stop near the Main Street Book Store wearing a disguise.

"The bookstore owner knows in advance what the disguise will be, but the person who will receive the plans doesn't. The bookstore owner tips off the receiver by arranging in the window of his bookstore books that contain a code to tell the receiver who to look for."

"I'm not sure I get you," Cornell said.

"Okay. Two months ago there were three books in the window. All were biographies of show business people. One book was about Charlie Chaplin, another about Errol Flynn, and the third about Ernie Kovaks. The spy turned out to be someone with an enormous moustach.

"Last month the three books were TITANIC, MOBY DICK, and THE SEA WOLF. The spy was a lady dressed in a dark blue pea coat -- the type sailors wear."

"Ah, I understand now," Cornell said. "But if you know who the receiver and the bookstore owner are, why not just arrest them and make them tell you who the thief is?"

"That's where the problem comes in," Baker said. "The receiver is dead. He died in a car accident two days ago. We've managed to keep his death a secret. If we arrest the bookstore owner, the thief will realize the coded book signal is not in the bookstore window and he'll disappear. We need to arrest that thief. That's where you come in."

"How?" Cornell asked.

"We want you to go to the Main Street Bookstore on Friday. Check out the books in the store window and scan the area for people. Somehow you have to decipher the book code and approach the thief. When he -- or she -- hands over the plans, arrest him. Or her."

"And if I'm wrong?" Cornell asked.

"We'll never get that thief. And we have to get him to stop any further thefts."

That's how, on the first Friday of October, agent Jack Cornell found himself on Main Street staring at the window of the Main Street Bookstore.

Three books sat in the bookstore's small showcase. At the left, angled to face the center of the window, sat 101 ORGAN PIECES FOR CHURCH. In the middle, facing straight out, was THE GREEK MYTHS OF PAN. In the right corner of the window, also angled to face the center of the window, was HOME PLUMBING MADE EASY.

As noon approached, Cornell began looking at the people who gathered at the bus stop.

One was a chunky blonde woman wearing a pale blue pants outfit. A white purse hung at her waist from a long strap that was slung over her right shoulder. Her brightly painted lips puffed nervously on a cigarette.

The second person at the bus stop was a bearded man in denims and a t-shirt. Across the front of the shirt was the picture of a famous rock group and the words "Rock and Roll Forever." The man's right hand fumbled with something in his pocket. His left hand fiddled with a bus token.

The last person at the bus stop was a man in a business suit. At his feet sat an attache case. He seemed to have a problem keeping his pipe lit as the wind blew out his lighter flame time after time.

Jack Cornell looked at the bookstore window again and then back to the three people a the bus stop.

"I hope I'm right," he said to himself as he approached the three people.

WHO DID CORNELL APPROACH? WHAT WAS THE CODE IN THE BOOKS?


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