Skills, though hard-won, can still surprise in the full light of day. An idealized scene of father-son bonding time on a lake shore skipping stones seemed a bit schmaltzy for a spy novel. But sooner or later, don’t all fathers and sons enjoy a bit rock throwing together? This vignette comes from Chapter 5 of Gypsy Spy, “Lost in the Storm”. Covering one’s tracks in an urban jungle should be in every operative’s tool bag.

For the next thirty minutes, they rode in silence. The events of the day washed over Carlos’s mind in a whirlwind too fast for comprehension. Why had his father been there? What would they do with him once he was caught? Did Jane really love him as a son? His father made an abrupt turn into a dead end alley and parked the car. He told Carlos to get his duffel bag and step out of the vehicle. Once outside, Shane produced a boxed-end wrench from his pants pocket and removed the license plates from the car.

“Gather some stones, Carlos,” he said over his shoulder while he performed his task. Carlos did as he was told. Shane stood up and stepped away from the car. Once he felt Carlos had plenty of ammunition, he gave his instructions. “I want you to perform the tornado on the car,” he said.

“Why?” the boy asked.

“Do not question, perform,” Shane said sternly.

The tornado was the same as the cyclone with one differentiation. The cyclone was designed as a defensive and retaliatory maneuver. The tornado, on the other hand, was a totally offensive exercise. Carlos concentrated for a moment and then spun into action. The first things to go were the windows. Next, the lights and turn signal lenses shattered into countless shards. Then the side view mirrors were knocked off their moorings. Finally, the body of the car began to show damage. Within a few seconds, the car had the look of long abandonment and subsequent vandalism.

“I present to you two lessons, Carlos. First, remove your trail. Second, take a good look at the car. If you can inflict such damage on metal, then realize what your talent can do to flesh. If your wish is only to stun and not to maim or kill, then guide your missiles with a speed appropriate to your wishes. Understood?”

“Yes, sir,” said Carlos, his eyes viewing the wreckage of the car, his mind seeing the blood on the school ground. “In control lies mastery,” he whispered, remembering the mantra.

“Exactly. Now, let’s go,” Shane said and started walking out of the alley.

“Where to?” his son asked behind him.

“We’ve a train to catch.”

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