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For All Nails #111c: Call the Police There's a Madman Around

Mexico City, C.F., USM
16 August 1974

 The group of unhappy men was convened in an office building on United
States Boulevard. It was a clear day, something almost miraculous in
Mexico City, the fruit of the Clean Air Act of 1972. You could
actually tell that the city was surrounded by mountains. The office
was located near the top of the pyramid: the views, while not exactly
astounding, were quite nice.

 Chewy Enciso looked through the file again. One eyebrow raised over
the other, his forehead wrinkled. It was what he did when he was
worried. It made him look almost, well, half his real age and almost
old enough to vote. [1]

 "Is this for real?" he asked Andy Gendrop.

 Gendrop's thin frame was sprawled across an office chair. He looked
like a pile of sticks someone had just tossed randomly onto the seat.
"I don't know. Joe?"

 Joe Osterman, who was seated in another seat in the small conference
room, just shrugged. "I don't know either. That weird woman in the
airpark handed it to me a two days ago. I called you, Andy, and he
called you, Chewy."

 "Right. Right." Chewy looked through it again. If this information
was right, it was a bombshell. No, it was a Bomb. Literally. "Can we
get it checked out? I don't want to go to the President until I know
for sure."

 Osterman shrugged. "I'm just a flack. I figure this woman came to me
because people know I advised El Popo during the campaign --- right
now I'm just a lobbyist with a sinecure."

 Andy Gendrop looked more thoughtful. He rubbed his nose, which was
quite a protuberance under his most-unfashionable shock of wild blond
hair. "Christ. I don't know either."

 Chewy Enciso leaned forward. "Huh. What about Bisteni?"

 "The Constabulary chief?" asked Osterman.

 "Yeah, him." Chewy rubbed his chin, which unlike Gendrop's nose, was
not as prominent as its owner wished. "Can we trust him?"

 Osterman looked at Gendrop. Gendrop answered the question. "I think
so," said Gendrop. "We appointed him, and the Constabulary was just a
shadow before we took office."

 Osterman nodded. "Could be. Yeah, I'd trust Bisteni."

 Gendrop interrupted. "Maybe we should bypass Bisteni, get in touch
with Luria over at Justice. He's also a passionate New Nationalist,
and Justice doesn't have many links with War.'

 "Yeah," said Osterman, "but Justice is riddled with War Department
spies. If he investigates, it'll get out quick."

 Chewy Enciso asked, "So Bisteni is the way to go?"

 Osterman shook his head. "Sort of. We've built the Constabulary back
into one hell of a police outfit, but it still doesn't really have the
ability to spy on other branches of government. Not without getting
caught, anyway."

 Chewy and Andy looked at Osterman, puzzled. "So what's the advantage
again of having Bisteni check out the information?" asked Enciso.

 "Well," said Osterman, "Mercator won't find out we know until after
we have the information verified.  And if it doesn't pan out, well, he
already thinks we're spying on him.  It isn't like we can make him
_more_ paranoid."

 Andy and Chewy looked at each other. "Okay," said Chewy. "Have
Bisteni use every tool at his disposal to get this checked out. If and
when it's verified, I'll bring it El Popo's attention. Until then,
nada. Zip. Zero. Me explico?"

 Andy and Osterman nodded at the younger man. The Chief of Staff to
the President of the United States nodded back. "Go! What are you
waiting for?"

 Osterman stood up to leave. Andy just smiled at him from his perch on
the edge of the desk. "You're enjoying this whole Chief of Staff
thing, aren't you?"

 As Andy slowly got up from the desk, Chewy replied, "It actually
sucks. Getting to boss you around is one of the few perks."


 [1] The voting age is 21 in most states. It's 18 in Chiapas (a reform
>from Moctezuma's stint in Guajaca City), 24 in Guadalajara, and 25 in