The Beijing Hotel
Day Seven, Late afternoon
ringing of the telephone beckoned Francine from a fitful sleep.
Looking for the receiver, she managed to pick it up by the third
ring, fumbling to bring it to her ear.
back, Francine,” Paul Stipanick replied. “Get some
“Yeah, some. Are we ready?”
yes and no. There’s a problem.”
and Amanda Stetson just arrived at your hotel.”
She frowned. “Anything from DC? Are they official?”
I mean, it’s not on my radar screen. How do you want to
going on right now?” She needed a minute to think. Maybe
the sky would fall, hit her on the head and give her an idea.
action in Tiananmen is picking up. The 27th is rolling toward
the Square. There’s been interaction between the students
and the army. Many of the Beijing citizens have been trying to
block the soldiers, but, they aren’t having much luck.”
chance that Jiang would be in Tiananmen?”
This has his fingerprints all over it.”
Meet me at the 27th Army headquarters. Let’s see if I can
get in there.”
crazy. I hope he’s worth it.” Stipanick said, referring
is. Half an hour, at the 27th. Okay?”
sigh told her he knew he couldn’t dissuade her. “Yeah,
okay. Be careful.”
Francine hung up the phone and jumped up off the bed. Lifting
her suitcase up to the bed, she opened it and pulled several camera
cases from it. With practiced ease she opened one and removed
several lenses, unscrewing them and pulling the pieces of her
broken-down handgun from them. Once her handgun was re-assembled,
she put in a magazine and put the extra clips into her belt pack.
stepped to the mirror in the bathroom. She picked up her brush
and pulled it through her hair before twisting it up and securing
it with a clip. Her hip leaning on the vanity, she looked herself
in the eyes, eyes that were wide and had the specter of worry
in them. Steeling herself to the task ahead, she adjusted her
gun holster, and pulled on a light jacket. Breathing deeply, she
opened the door to her suite, checked the hallway and left the
The ride down to the lobby was quick. Francine hurried through
the crowds coming and going in the old hotel. Scanning the large
room, she didn’t see Lee or Amanda, but she knew they would
find her sooner or later. As Lee would put it, Francine wouldn’t
exactly blend with the locals. She was just about to walk past
the hotel gift shop, she made a quick turn in. She pulled a baseball
cap with the Beijing Hotel logo off the shelf and put it on. Francine
grinned at her reflection in the small mirror as she pulled the
brim low over her eyes. With her hair pulled up and her eyes shadowed,
maybe she could slip past whatever surveillance Stetson had in
hat paid for, she stood just inside the gift shop until a large
crowd of people walked past, all heading to the front entrance.
Slipping in with them, Francine walked quickly toward the entrance.
She spotted Lee sitting in the reception area; he was casually
watching the comings and goings. In reality, Francine knew that
Lee intently scanned the faces of everyone who passed.
resisted the urge to look up. Instead, she kept her head down
as she exited the hotel. Dashing to the first taxi at the curb,
she quickly climbed in the car and gave the driver directions.
With a sigh, she sat back in the seat, letting the frame of the
vehicle shadow her face.
gardens in front of the hotel were in full bloom, and Francine
spied Amanda walking among the flowers and fountains, a row in
from the sidewalk. With her lips pressed together in a determined
line, Francine put the Stetsons from her mind and focused on the
was she here? Well, your partner is here, she told herself, and
partners are. . . well. . .responsible for one another. She looked
out the window as they passed Tiananmen Square where she saw the
masses of students and local citizens; the troops and armored
vehicles. Efraim would be in the thick of it, analyzing everything,
memorizing every detail. . .commenting on everything. Francine
shook her head. The last thing she needed right now was to get
taxi passed the sites of Old Beijing, but they fell on eyes that
were blind. When the vehicle finally stopped in front of the garrison
that headquartered the PLA 27th Army, the driver had to repeat
himself several times before Francine was aware they had stopped.
paid the driver and lighted from the taxi, only to stare up at
the facade as the vehicle drove away. Looking for Stipanick, Francine
stepped on the sidewalk, studying the building she was about to
barred the windows and razor wire topped the roof and fenced areas.
Impossible, she thought, this is gonna be impossible. A thin shiver
of fear edged its way into her consciousness, and she instantly
thrust it away. Beaman was in there; she was sure of it, and she
was going to get him out.
heard Stipanick come up behind her. “You’re late.”
“Business.” Stipanick stepped up beside her. “I
thought it best to bring some reinforcements.”
turned to Paul and saw Lee and Amanda standing on the other side
of the street. Casting a long, menacing look at Stipanick, she
moved toward the entrance.
stopped when Amanda called her, letting all of the tension and
anger she had been keeping at bay finally erupt. She turned on
her heel, and walked across the street, and stopped in front of
her fellow agents. “I’m not going to let you stop
me! I don’t care if I lose my job! I don’t want a
job that would abandon a man to a place like that!” She
flung her hand in the direction of the 27th Compound. “I’m
going in there, and I’m not coming out without Beaman. And
neither of you will stop me!”
not here to stop you, Francine. We’re here to help.”
Amanda laid her hand on Francine’s shoulder, and smiled
gently at her friend. “Let us help you.”
glanced quickly at Lee who nodded his head. She felt a surge of
relief and hope flood through her. “Thank you.”
our friend, too.” At Francine’s derisive look, Lee
was defensive. “Hey, come on, he is.”
the turncoat,” Francie tossed her head at Stipanick, “fill
Your plan seems a little weak. Why would they let you see Beaman?”
never been a detail man, Stetson. Why start now?” Francine
challenged him, her defenses back in place.
grinned sheepishly at his wife, and shrugged. “She has a
point. Details have a habit of gettin’ in the way.”
of us staying alive. Look, Francine. We need some kind of a plan
to not only get in there, but to find Efraim and get him out.
Are you even sure he’s here?”
it to Amanda to point out the realities of the situation.
I don’t know for sure that he’s in there. But from
what Stipanick and I found, it’s the only place we have
know, just being a film maker isn’t going to get you in.
You’ll need a reason to get beyond the front door.”
turned and looked at the building, feeling exhaustion wash over
her. What was it Efraim always said to her in these situations?
‘Come on, Franny, lets go do it!’ She glanced at Stipanick
and nodded. “They’ll probably know you, right Paul?”
than likely. It won’t help if someone recognizes me.”
you wait for us to get out, and get us back to the embassy. Lee?
Lee frowned at Francine then Amanda, then again at Francine as
she collapsed into his arms. “Dammit, Francine! Now what?”
Lee shifted her in his arms, Francine’s head flopping over
Doctor! We need a doctor! Help!” Amanda knew exactly what
to do, and went about it in typical Amanda fashion. Running to
the compound, she flew through the doors and into the reception
area. Hopping from foot to foot, she continued to yell for a doctor
while she held the door open for Lee to bring Francine in.
sized up the situation; it appeared that all of the senior officers
were in Tiananmen Square leaving the compound to a few lowly enlisted
men. Striding to a door behind an old, scarred metal desk that
had seen better days, Lee pushed and carried Francine into an
soldier ran after them, trying to stop Lee from going any further.
Amanda was following behind, yelling for a doctor and trying to
verbally confuse the soldier at her side. Amanda grabbed the young
soldier by the arm, and pulled him toward the reception area,
all the while spreading her distinctive brand of chaos that bridged
any language barrier.
vaguely paid attention to what his wife was saying; he was looking
for the compound’s infirmary. A man in a white coat came
out of a room with swinging double doors. Lee figured they had
hit pay dirt. He grinned when he heard his wife yell, “Oh
thank goodness, a doctor!” They had at least several minutes
to search while Amanda held the troops at bay.
through the doors, Lee found an empty bed in the middle of the
ward-like room. He laid Francine down while he scanned the room.
Several curtains were pulled, but they were otherwise alone.
need to see behind those curtains, Lee,” Francine whispered
as her gaze carefully searched the room.
know. They’re as good as any place to start. I’ll
go block the doors and make up some story for the doctor and the
soldier. Find your partner, and if he’s here, figure a way
to get out.”
nodded as she carefully sat up on the bed. “Lee?”
stopped and waited, a questioning look on his face.
welcome. Hurry up. I’ll get Amanda out.”
soon as Lee turned, Francine climbed from the bed and hurried
across the ward. Muffled noise from the hall spilled into the
room, while Amanda’s voice could be heard above the fray.
Francine was on her way to the curtains when she saw two doors
in the back of the room, one obviously an office, the other a
heavy metal security door. From the plans she had looked at in
Paul’s office, she knew they led to jail cells.
peaking inside the first set of curtains, she saw an empty bed.
Her heart began to pound in her chest as she decided to check
the security door, hoping against hope to find Beaman below in
the cells. As she ran toward the door, Francine grabbed the second
set of curtains pulling them as she passed, only to stop when
she saw a body in the bed.
through the billowing curtains, she gasped as she saw Efraim in
the bed. His face was cut and bruised, one eye swollen shut, and
his arm in a cast which was handcuffed over his head. His other
arm lay at his side, a handcuff attached to the iron bed rail.
Pulling a lock pick from her belt, she hurriedly unlocked the
arm above his head and carefully lowered his plastered arm. Reaching
over, she made fast work of the remaining lock, gasping when she
saw the bruised and raw skin at his wrist from straining at the
cuffs. Tears stung her eyes, and she pushed them away with determined
close to him, she whispered, her voice catching in her throat.
“Efraim? Can you hear me? It’s Francine. I’m
here to take you home.”
gently pushed his hair off of his forehead, then checked the extent
of the bruising on his face. She was startled to find Beaman looking
at her, struggling to focus on her.
Sleeping on the job again, Beaman?”
started to struggle and she placed her hand on his chest, shushing
him. “It’s okay. It’s me, Francine. Lee and
Amanda are here, too. Are you here with me?”
tried to talk, only every other word or so making it out. “No,
won’t . . .not you. Trick.”
me, remember me? The mistletoe? Greek Islands, Christmas in Canada?
The Inaugural Ball?”
. .remember Christmas.”
gave him a wry grin as she gently touched his cheek. “You
would remember that, Efraim. Oh Efraim! What happened to you?”
voice was barely recognizable as he talked. “Rough night
in town. Franny, what are you doing here? How did you find me?
You’re in danger.” Beaman struggled to sit up as he
marshaled his senses about him. “How long has it been?”
been missing 7 days. I’ve been here a little over a day
looking for you.”
. . happy to see you.” His voice was gaining strength as
he became more alert.
really happy to see you, too.”
odd silence passed between them, Francine let her eyes drop under
Beaman’s scrutiny. Clearing her throat, she searched for
something to say. “Have you seen a doctor for these?”
She asked, gently touching his bruised face.
you could call him that.” At the touch of her fingers on
his face, he took her hand in his. “I’m here on the
economy plan, Franny. Medical care is the next tier up.”
Efraim, I’m sorry.” She sadly shook her head, not
knowing what to say to him.
the plan for getting out of here?” He asked, gingerly swinging
his legs over the side of the bed. Frowning at the drab olive
cotton uniform he wore, he looked around for his shoes when he
finally saw the black cotton mules on the floor. “How did
you get in here?”
followed his gaze, quickly getting the slippers and helping Beaman
slip them on. As he looked at her, waiting for an answer to his
question, she felt heat creep into her cheeks. “Getting
in was easy; I rather got carried away. Getting out? You know,
whatever we come up with.”
gone for a few months and you start winging things. Where are
PLA 27th Army Compound.”
I thought I remembered that insignia.”
you remember anything else?” She put her arm around his
waist to help him get his balance.
much, and all of it unpleasant.” Leaning on Francine, he
walked to the bar- covered windows. Below them was the street
where Francine, Stipanick and the Stetsons had met minutes earlier.
Mobs of people were approaching the compound, rocks and pipes
in their hands. Retribution was at hand.
“At least it’s not over the inner yard.” Francine
pointed out, desperate to stay optimistic.
famous Beaman luck is holding.” Efraim leaned on the wall,
looking at the street below, examining the problem finding a way
out of the compound.
you would think so, Efraim.” A commotion at the door indicated
their time was coming to an end. Francine knew that Lee would
get Amanda out Getting Efraim out was up to her.
remember a large oxygen tank; they used it to keep me conscious
during interrogations. Is there one in the room?” Beaman
sat back on the bed while Francine hurriedly looked in the larger
there is. It’s against the wall. It’s on a rolling
Check and see how full it is, will you?”
Francine quickly ran over to the tank and rapped on it at several
intervals before she hurried back to Beaman. “It’s
reached out for her. “Get me over there; it’s our
ticket out of here.”
helped Beaman over to the large, green oxygen tank. “I think
they hit you on the head harder than you realize. How is this
tank our ticket out of here?”
you want to go through the mobs in the front?” He tried
to push the tank to the nearby bed.
I’d rather we didn’t encounter any mobs.” She
paused as she watched him. “What are we doing, Efraim?”
the tank, Beaman leaned on it, causing it to topple onto the bed.
Francine steadied it, shooting him a ‘you’re out of
your mind’ look.
me turn the bed so the bottom of the tank is facing the opposite
wall. Actually, it should go through the wall above the bed I
was in. . . yeah, that works.”
. . .” Francine warned, beginning to lose patience.
in these tanks is under pressure at twelve hundred pounds per
square inch. It’ll go through that wall without a problem.”
Francine stared at him, mouth agape. Efraim shook his head. “Francine,
I’m making a torpedo out of the thing. But I need something
heavy to knock off the regulator.”
a doubtful shake of her head, Francine ran to the small office
and found the door locked. Shielding her face, she used her elbow
to break the glass in the door window. A heavy, stainless steel
bar sat on the desk, she grabbed it and ran back out, handing
it to Efraim.
took it from her and stared at the bar for a moment, then adjusted
the weight in his good hand. “Get back. Let’s see
if this piece of work is good for something other than breaking
got behind Efraim and wrapped her arms around his waist, her feet
braced to allow her to pull him out of the way if needed. “I’m
ready. Hurry Efraim!”
the bar, he hit the regulator, once, twice, and another time.
Beaman swore under his breath as he took another swing at it.
The regulator finally popped off the tank under his assault.
tank shot off of the bed like it had been fired from a cannon.
Francine pulled Efraim back, sending both of them flying to the
floor in a heap. Scrambling to get out from under him, Francine
stood up and helped Efraim off of the floor.
stared at the huge hole in the cinder block wall. Dust was thick
in the air. Bits and pieces of the ceiling came floating down
around them. Sirens sounded and voices raised the alarm within
on, Franny, let’s get out of here!”
crazy, do you know that? They’re going to know that you
blew up their building!”
can send me a bill. Look, they’re going to be too worried
about this uprising to be concerned with whatever happened to
me. That tank blew through the wall where my bed was. What’s
left of the bed I was in, I’m sure is twisted and in pieces
on the street below. They’ll think the same happened to
in the opening, they looked at the street that lay ten feet below
them. People poured into the road from everywhere; and the rumble
of tanks and troop carriers could be heard closing in.
stepping onto the rubble, Francine worked her way down the fallen
bricks, helping Efraim down with her. Beaman could see her relief
when Lee climbed up to help. Supporting Efraim between the two
of them, they were able to move quickly over the loose concrete.
Amanda waited in the street below, practically dancing as she
urged them to hurry.
to see you, Beaman.”
you too, Stetson.”
“Paul is in that blue car down the street. See it?”
At their nods, Lee continued, “Francine, climb down and
have Amanda get him to back it up, as close as he can.”
looked at Efraim, giving him a quick smile before she hurried
down the rubble toward Amanda.
know she skipped the country to come and get you.”
didn’t get that far, Stetson. Smyth sent me up the river
without a paddle, huh?”
like that. State kept to your cover, Smyth wanted all ties to
you cut. Basically you were set adrift. Francine took great exception
I see. And you’re here because?”
felt like some Peking Duck. Told Billy we were going to get some
local in Arlington?”
is no substitute for the real thing.” Reaching the car,
Lee helped Beaman get in the back seat, Francine giving him a
hand from inside the car. Lee slammed the door behind Beaman and
jumped in the passenger seat after Amanda. Paul pulled away just
as the first troop carrier made the corner behind them.
back, Efraim.” Amanda smiled, happy to see him alive.
smiled back at Amanda. “Thanks. I’m glad to be here.”
do we go?” Francine asked, quickly looking over her shoulder
as gunfire erupted behind them.
Embassy.” Beaman said, laying his head on the back of the
looked over at him, her concern showing. “Is that wise?
Won’t they come there looking for you?”
be fine there, trust me.” He closed his eyes and sighed.
looked at Francine. She nodded to him and he shook his head. Amanda
shrugged as Paul and Lee discussed directions back to the embassy.
Francine laid her head on the seat and let her hand rest on Beaman’s
arm, reassuring herself he was safe. She watched as Lee looked
over his shoulder at them. She smiled as she heard him sigh when
he turned back in the seat. She closed her eyes and let the conversation
wash over her.
they alright?” Amanda asked.
“Yeah. I guess they had to come to China for Beaman to finally
get his chance to sleep with Francine.”
sat upright in the seat. As she drew breath to protest Lee’s
remark, she was cut off by Beaman as he touched her arm.
talk about my partner that way, Stetson. You’ll have to
deal with me.”
American Embassy Beijing
Late Day 7
paced in the hall outside of the embassy medical facility. Lee,
Amanda, and Paul waited as well, keeping one eye on her and the
other on the doors to the medical center. Beaman had been in there
for what seemed like hours.
Ambassador himself came to see Efraim, shooting Stipanick, the
Stetsons and Francine a nasty look. He left the medical rooms
in a more subdued mood. Francine raised a questioning eyebrow
to Stipanick who grinned and nodded toward the medical rooms.
embassy’s chief medical officer finally came out. He walked
over to Stipanick who pointed at Francine.
they worked him over pretty good, as evidenced by the bruises.
He has two broken ribs, and a nice concussion. I gave him a shot
of antibiotics for the infection on his wrists. There’s
no evidence they used any drugs on him; they probably didn’t
have the time with everything happening in the Square.”
fractured in three places. All clean breaks, they should heal
fine. Dr. Bremen said they used a steel pipe on him.” As
everyone grimaced, the doctor continued. “Other than the
physical torture, his mind is stable and he seems to be handling
this alright. He’s willing to talk about his ordeal, which
is a good thing. It’s not going to be pleasant for the person
listening to him, but getting it out in the open is the best thing.
You up to listening to him?”
think so. Can I see him?” Francine wrapped her arms tightly
about her waist.
I don’t see why not. Just so you know, he’s not happy
about your presence here.”
a first,” quipped Lee.
Francine glared at Lee and went into see Beaman. She watched as
he tried to fasten his shirt. Francine smiled as Efraim swore
when his good hand fumbled the buttons.
so. My hands don’t seem to be working too well right now.”
his shirt, she smoothed the fabric over his chest then quickly
motioned that she had finished. “Think you can tuck the
tails in?” She barely managed to keep her laughter at bay.
Desmond! It’s not funny!”
exactly how you pictured it huh?”
not exactly. Just because you came to China to find me doesn’t
mean I’m gonna let you ride roughshod over me from here
Beaman, what am I gonna do with you?” Francine hugged him,
smiling when Beaman hugged her back.
my weakened state, it’s probably not wise to ask me questions
like that, Franny.”
laughed as she sat down on the bed and patted the mattress beside
her. She grinned when Efraim scowled, but he sat down beside her
and stared at his shoes.
know, I thought I was dead when I first saw you hovering over
me in the compound. And when I realized that I hadn’t quite
moved on from this life, I was furious with you for coming and
putting yourself in danger. Why are you here, Francine?”
. . .”
we’re friends. And I care about you.”
care about you too.”
don’t want to lose someone else that I care about.”
‘s nod showed he knew she was referring to Jonathan Stone,
who had been killed just a little over a year ago. He gave her
his good hand as he stood up, and pulled her to her feet. “You
ready? You need to go home and I have work to do.” He turned
and walked toward the doors that led out of the infirmary.
ran after him and reached his side as they both stepped out into
the hallway. “Are you crazy? Work to do? What work do you
have to do?” She placed her hands on his shoulders, forcing
him to stop and face her. “Efraim, they are going to be
looking for you! You blew their compound to hell and back.”
moved her aside. “Lee, Amanda, Paul. Thanks for helping
to get me out of there. Paul, things still in place?”
Beaman, are you listening to me?” Francine stomped her foot,
her hands on her hips. “Don’t ignore me now! Stop!”
stopped and looked at Francine.
can’t just go back out there, Efraim. Are you trying to
get yourself killed? Paul, get the doctor, he needs to be sedated
and tied to a bed.”
other circumstances, I’d love to discuss your offer, but
I don’t have the time. I have work to do, and there are
people here who are counting on me. If you want to help me, come
with me. And when we’re done, I’ll take you to the
if you get on the plane with me.”
others watched the show taking place before them. Their looks
showed their surprise. Beaman stand was adamant, and Francine
refused to back down. The two were practically nose-to-nose, hands
on hips, mouths set in grim lines.
gave in, throwing her hands up in the air. “Okay! You win.
But you are going to tell me what’s going on. Everything.
Do you understand me?”
Franny. And we all understand you. I’m sure they understand
you in the Square. We have time, about three hours. Lee, Amanda?
That gives you time to leave.”
Francine is staying to help, we will too.” Lee put his arm
around Amanda. “Billy told us to bring her back, and we’re
not going back without her.”
it’s going to look like a parade.” Beaman closed his
eyes and shook his head. “Okay, if you’re gonna help,
get into something dark and comfortable. Meet back here in an
hour and a half.”
off a mock salute, Lee guided his wife out of the embassy and
into an embassy limo.
climbed in the limo, her brow wrinkled in confusion. “Do
we call Billy?”
tell him what? We found Beaman, but Francine may kill him. Or
he may kill her?”
not sure that’s what is going on with them.” Amanda
pointed out the window as they passed Tiananmen Square. Fires
burned across the expanse of the Square; smoke filling the air
along with voices raised in song, chants, taunts and anger. “We’re
going into Tiananmen tonight?”
jaw tightened as he watched the action as they passed by. “I
think so, Amanda. You should stay at the hotel.”
watching your back like I always do. I’ll stay out of the
way, and if things get bad, I’ll find a place to hide. I
hugged his wife, glad she was with him. “Keep an eye on
all of us, will you? I think we’re gonna need your special
Early Day Eight
had almost laughed when he first saw Francine and Beaman in the
Square. Francine looked furious, but she stubbornly refused to
leave Beaman’s side, and she chided him at every turn.
his part, Beaman took Francine’s bad temper in stride. He
had cut the cast off and had asked Francine to wrap his arm. He
rested his left hand in his pocket, Lee was sure, to ease the
pressure of the arm hanging.
you going to tell us what’s going on? What have you been
doing here all this time?” They leaned against a building,
under the overhang of a decorative roof, the shadow it cast helping
to keep them out of view.
need to move several student leaders out tonight. Things have
gone down hill quickly, and with the PLA 27th here, it’s
going to go from bad to worse any moment now. My sources have
told me that there is a power struggle within the leadership at
the highest levels, and the hardliners are pressing their advantage
with these student demonstrations.”
now?” Amanda wanted to know as they all watched several
soldiers chase a group of old women who had thrown cabbages at
leadership is split; it has been for some time,” Beaman
said, watching the events in Tiananmen closely. “The problem
is they don’t know how to deal with the changes that are
coming in the future. Hong Kong returns in what, ten years? The
most urbane of international cities will be under mainland China
rule. It’s frightening to the hardliners who fear that the
return of such a place will cause further uprisings along with
a serious move toward democracy. There’s also the situation
with Taiwan, which isn’t going to be helped by this here.”
He leaned against the wall to ease the discomfort of standing.
Rubbing his eyes with his good hand, he sighed and continued.
“So, while they court, cajole, pressure and threaten Taiwan,
and try to reassure Hong Kong, they crack down on their youth
so they don’t get any ideas.”
complicated,” Francine added, frowning as Efraim battled
the pain and fatigue. “But this is only going to make it
their intent here is to set an example. That’s why I need
to move these students tonight.”
Lee narrowed his eyes and watched the build up of troops in the
Square. “Something is going to happen here tonight.”
it is. I told you to leave.”
Beaman! I. . . .”
up, Lee!” Francine interjected. Turning to Beaman, she laid
a hand on his good arm. “What do we need to do? What’s
Francine. We need to go to the gate of Tiananmen. There’s
a small alcove off to the right. If the others have kept things
going while I was out of action, we should be able to clear out
of here soon.”
many layers is your operation, Efraim? How many rings do you have
working?” Francine asked him as she moved the two of them
deeper into the shadows.
Well, six that I know of. Probably more now. Dead drops only between
the bottom rings. No way for them to contaminate up the line.”
impressed,” Lee told him as a group of students ran past.
“You the only one with connections all the way up and down?”
don’t have all of the connections, Lee. No one does. If
it falls apart along the line, it falls apart and only one ring
is blown. I connect with the embassy and one other ring, and the
embassy only has me.”
the other ring you connect with?” Francine moved to Efraim’s
left side so she was able to shield him from any hits to his arm.
about to see,” he told them.
out of the shadows, they moved along the old wall that had served
as the gate to the Forbidden City in ages past. The alcove that
Beaman had mentioned was behind a small stone wall. Sitting on
the wall, Beaman motioned that they should do the same. Amanda
sat, but Lee paced.
had only been waiting a short time when Lee stopped in front of
Beaman to show his impatience. Beaman just grinned back, chuckling
as Lee stomped off to watch the crowds streaming through the gates.
driving him crazy,” Amanda told Beaman as Lee continued
you have to wait in this business. He knows that, Amanda.”
the tension in the air. It’s oppressive.” Lee turned
to them and glared at the three of them.
nodded her agreement. “Are you sure whatever is supposed
to take place here will take place tonight? Maybe they didn’t
get the word.”
got it. Be patient, Franny, it’ll happen.”
know it makes me crazy when you call me that.”
an admiring look at her, he grinned. “Careful what you say,
Francine. I’ll hold you to it.”
both laughed, and Amanda shook her head at their teasing. Lee
stiffened across from them, his stance changing. Amanda started
to rise, but Beaman put out a hand.
okay. He sees my contact.” Beaman looked at Lee and grinned.
He stood up, Francine at his side. He greeted his contact, Chian
is good to see you released, Bei Ang, although you do look, what
do you say, worse for wear.”
xie, Chang. It’s good to be out again. I believe you know
my associates, Lee and Amanda Stetson.”
turned to Lee, highly amused by the shock etched on Lee’s
face. “It seems you did not expect this, Stetson.”
Chang turned and bowed his head to Amanda. “It is good to
see you again, Amanda.”
is the last thing I expected. You trust him, Beaman? He’s
probably why you ended up in Jiang’s hold.” Lee didn’t
like Chang and wasn’t about to trust him.
down, Lee. Are we ready? Things in place?” Beaman was all
business now that Chang had arrived.
I believe things are as you wish them to be. By the way, Jiang
believes you to be dead.”
nodded. “Yeah, well there were a few times that I thought
I might have been as well.”
did you leave the building?”
watched Beaman for a moment or two, then grinned. “That
would explain the oxygen tank in the rubble.”
tank, yeah, that would be me,” Beaman remarked. “I
have one last concern, that of. . . .”
shook his head. “This one is stubborn. She is in the Square
this very moment. My wife could not convince her to leave with
She’s been a problem from the beginning; one stubborn, hard-headed
going on?” Francine asked, concern evident in her voice.
very high profile student leader refuses to leave. Jiang has her
at the center of a bulls eye, and--”
sound of gunfire clattered in the Square. Silence reigned for
a moment, then pandemonium reached a crescendo that roared across
grabbed Beaman and shouted in his ear in an effort to be heard
above the deafening noise. Nodding his agreement, Beaman took
Francine’s arm and pulled her behind the small wall. Lee
grabbed Amanda and did the same.
with Lee and Amanda. Get back to the embassy.” Beaman tried
to push her towards Lee.
adamantly refused. “No! I’m going with you. You need
my help, and I’m going to help you!”
are the most stubborn, irritating woman I have ever met, but I.
. . .” Whatever Beaman said was drowned by the rumble of
tanks and armored vehicles rolling through the center of the Square.
Gun fire erupted all around them. Beaman spotted Chang on the
other side of the entrance, crouched behind the wall.
Waiting for a break in the crowd, Beaman jumped up and ran across
the entrance. “Chang, are you safe? You haven’t been
made, have you?”
you want out?”
my friend. This is my home, and I will stay here and do what I
can. Thank you for your concern, but I will stay. As you would
stay in your country.”
nodded, reaching up to pat Francine’s hand on his shoulder
to acknowledge her presence. “Can you get the others out?
I’ll take care of Song. I may only be able to get her to
the American Embassy.”
what you can, then leave the country. Go home, you have done good
work here.” Chang peered over the wall, then kneeled down
again. “The 27th is here with the sanction of the hardliners
on the council. They are here to eliminate any threats. Do not
be a threat tonight.”
will happen on the council?” Francine asked him. Efraim
nodded, thinking to get as much information while they could.
pendulum will shift to the right for a short time, then back to
the left. It will find balance, but it will take time. Much depends
on what the world does, especially what the United States says.”
see that gets passed along. Good luck.”
you, my friend.” Chang smiled at Beaman, shot a small grin
at Lee, and left with a crowd running out of the Tiananmen gate.
turned to Francine. “Okay, we need to make our way to the
‘People’s Heroes Monument’. We’ll find
Song Lui Rong there.”
That’s across the Square! We’ll never make it. Please,
listen to me.”
wasting your breath, Francine. He’s not gonna start listening
to you now.” Lee said as he and Amanda made their way to
Beaman and Francine. “What’s the best way to go about
isn’t the full assault,” he told them as he assessed
the situation around them. “They still have vehicles trying
to get into Tiananmen. I have to try and get this girl out. She’s
one of the voices that China will need in the future.”
about if we catch a ride then?” Lee pointed to a tank rolling
into the Square.
a good way to get shot. I have a better idea. Come on.”
Beaman pointed out the gate, lifting Francine from her crouched
position by her elbow and pushing her ahead of him. “In
the taxi. Lee? You drive.”
in, Lee started the taxi and turned it toward Tiananmen, mumbling
under his breath the whole way.
reached over, placing her hand on Lee’s arm.
a tank and troop carrier, Lee pulled hard on the wheel, causing
the taxi to rock from side to side. The Heroes monument rose before
them, students covering every available toe hold.
she is, in the center, under the banner,” Beaman shouted,
pointing out the student leader.
drove close to a group of nearby soldiers, swung the taxi and
scattered them just as they lifted their rifles. “Beaman,
get her and let’s get the hell out of here before we become
my way.” Climbing out of the taxi, Beaman took off for the
students, with Francine was right beside him. Francine bounded
up ahead of him, pulling him when the going was steep, and when
he needed an extra hand to make up for his broken left arm.
students recognized Beaman from his university visits and also
helped him make his way to Song Lui Rong.
happening tonight, Song. You have to leave.”
cannot leave these people now, Dr. Bremen. I will not show fear
in the face of the government.”
not fear we’re talking about, Song. They are going to kill
I will be a martyr.”
are times when a martyr will make a lasting impression for change.
And there are times when a living voice is needed. This is the
time for the living voice.”
is right, you must leave. China will need your voice in the future.
Please, come with us.” Francine urged the young woman to
leave. She pointed to Lee standing at the base of the monument,
waving frantically for them to return. “Efraim, we’re
out of time. We have to go.”
with us.” Beaman urged her again.
friends will die here tonight. I will not leave them. If I live
through the night, I will come to the American Embassy. That is
the most I can promise you. Go now, and get the others out. Thank
you, Dr. Bremen, for all that you have brought to us.”
nodded, letting Francine help him down. They stopped at the bottom
of the monument, looking back up at Song Lui Rong. She was speaking
to the students using a bullhorn, rallying them to the cause of
stood at the base of the monument, staring up at the students
he had tried to convince to leave. He felt Francine push him toward
the waiting taxi. Beaman climbed in after her. Lee hopped in and
with Amanda shouting out the obstacles, they sped out of Tiananmen
Square as gunfire flared behind them.
turned in the seat, watching the scene in Tiananmen recede. Francine
put her arm around his shoulder. “You did all that you could,
Efraim. The final decision was hers.”
know. It doesn’t make it any easier to accept though, Francine.”
finally pulled up in front of the embassy, the marines in full
battle gear manning the gates. Upon spotting Beaman in the back
seat, the marine in charge gave a signal to the open the gates.
Lee drove through as the gates swung closed behind them.
young marine ran to the taxi, opening the doors. “Dr. Bremen,
good to see you again, sir.”
the embassy doctor ordered us to bring you to the infirmary as
soon as you returned. I’m sorry sir, something about your
cast. If you’ll follow us please.”
I really need an armed escort, Corporal?”
marine blushed, but did not lower his gaze. “Sir, the doctor
ordered us to shoot you in the foot if you refused. He said he
could fix your foot along with re-casting your arm.”
and Amanda both coughed to cover their laughter. Francine took
the opportunity to push her partner. “Move it, Dr. Bremen,
or I’ll shoot you in the foot that the Corporal doesn’t.”
would, too, wouldn’t you Franny?” Taking her arm,
he headed into the embassy and the medical offices.
American Embassy Beijing
Daylight flirted with the darkened rain clouds that banked the
eastern horizon. Beaman stood on the roof of the embassy as he
watched the havoc unfold in Tiananmen Square, oblivious to the
rain falling on him. Someone moved behind him and he quickly turned
to watch as Francine walked over to him. He put his good arm around
her shoulders as she stepped up next to him. They both watched
in silence as history in the making played out before them.
sleep?” she finally asked, knowing that she couldn’t
Too much noise.”
about Song Lui?”
he sighed, “we all worked so hard for this operation to
be a success and now? I don’t know.”
looked up at her partner. “You need a shave, a haircut,
and weeks worth of sleep. And you’re here questioning the
work you’ve done here. I think you need some time before
you draw any conclusions, Efraim.”
need a lot of things, Francine.”
nodded, slipping her arm around his back. “Me too, Efraim.
Come on, I’ll walk you to your room.”
gave short laugh. “Should I ask you in for a night cap?”
late for a night cap. Breakfast is more like it.”
like that’s gonna happen.”
walked in companionable silence to the floor that Efraim’s
rooms were on. Francine’s room was on the other side of
the embassy. Efraim opened his door, turned and gave Francine
a long look before speaking.
smiled up at Efraim and pushed him into his room. “See you
later.” He nodded and started to close the door, but Francine
stopped him. At his questioning look, she leaned up and whispered
in his ear. “You never know about breakfast, Efraim. You’ve
never offered me breakfast before.” With a wink, she turned
and headed to her own room, leaving Beaman to stand there, his
jaw slack and his mind spinning as she walked away.
Several Weeks Later
yawned as he looked at his watch yet again. “We’ve
been here forever,” he whined. “I don’t think
I can take another night of this. The old man’s gone too
far if he thinks he can keep us on surveillance duty night after
struggled to suppress a yawn. “I don’t think there’s
anything to see. I think this is Dr. Smyth’s way of getting
even with us for disobeying his orders and going to China after
Efraim.” She lifted her hand to cover her mouth as she yawned
yet again. “I’m sorry Lee, I’m really sleepy.
What time is it?”
held his arm out so Amanda could see the glow from the dial for
herself. “Let me have those night vision binoculars; I wanna
see if there’s any activity out there.” Taking the
high tech lenses from Amanda, Lee scanned the empty warehouse
been here for hours!” Amanda laughed. “I’ll
bet Francine is really giving Efraim a hard time; she hates these
turned the binoculars in the direction of Beaman’s car.
The night scope showed Beaman and Francine in the car, apparently
in a discussion. “Ah, they’re just talking away over
there. What’s with Francine lately?”
do you mean? She seems fine to me.”
that’s what I mean. What’s with that? She hasn’t
complained about Smyth dumping this duty on us.”
shrugged. “I don’t know. The only thing I’ve
heard her say about it is that it could be worse.”
Lee started the ‘Vette’s engine,. “That’s
what bothers me. Shouldn’t she be up in arms about this?”
also said you were complaining enough for all of us!” Amanda
told him, trying hard not to smile. “What are you doing?”
driving over to Beaman’s car, and I’m telling him
we’re going home. They can sit here and talk all night for
all I care. But I’m tired, and I’m going home.”
grabbed the strap above her head as Lee let the car race across
the open space of the empty warehouse lots. “Why didn’t
you just call and tell him? If there was anyone making a drop
here, you’ve certainly let them all know that we’re
just grinned and sent his wife a wink.
laughed as she reached over and patted her husband’s arm.
“I hope you realize that if Dr. Smyth finds out about this,
you’ll be doing whatever it is he devises to get even with
you on your own!”
the electric window button as he drew level with the driver’s
side of Beaman’s car, Lee turned to his wife, a smug look
on his face. “What are you gonna do? Tattle on me?”
but I might!” Beaman said as he held up a proximity listening
Francine leaned over Beaman so she could see Lee clearly. “And
yes, we were talking, and yes, I still hate these things, and
no, there’s nothing wrong with me Lee, and yes, things could
be worse. And Amanda? I’ll back you up with Smyth if that
one,” with a nod of her head in Lee’s direction, “blows
both Beaman and Francine a disgusted look, Lee hit the gas in
the ‘Vette and sped out, Amanda’s laughter trailing
behind them in the late night darkness.
laughed as she pulled her head back in the driver’s window,
locking eyes with Efraim.
you should buckle up. Uh, there’s no reason for us to stay
now.” Beaman cleared his throat. “Come on, we might
as well get out of here and go home. Nothing is going to happen
nodded as she sat back in the passenger seat. She glanced at him
several times as she buckled her seat belt. “You know, you
shouldn’t be so pessimistic, it’s not like you. You
never know what could happen,” she teased, giving his arm
a soft pat.
His tone derisive.
the warehouse district, Beaman drove through the deserted streets
of DC. The monuments were lit, startling against the backdrop
of the night. He was lost in his own thoughts when he heard Francine
calling his name.
Are you listening to me?”
I’m sorry Franny, I was thinking. What’s up?”
said, you must be happy that Song was able to make it to the American
Embassy after all. I know how upset you were when the initial
reports stated that she had been among the casualties in Tiananmen.”
sighed. He didn’t want to talk about Tiananmen now, and
at times it seemed that it was all Francine wanted to discuss.
“Yeah, I was really glad she made it out that night alive.
So many of those kids didn’t.”
a waste, to kill the future of your country for the consolidation
of power.” He shook his head. “I don’t think
I’ll ever understand it, let alone get the images of it
out of my mind.”
nodded, both of them silent for a moment or two as the images
of Tiananmen Square flooded their memories. “You know there’s
nothing you could have done to change things. You have to look
at the good that can come out of this.“ She smiled at him
before she went on. “And that’s a future that Song
Lui will have a voice in. Those that survived that night will
also have a say in the future of their country. It’s not
a place for frightened, old men.”
future?” he asked.
It’s a place for people of vision. Like you.”
laughed. Whatever had changed between them in the past seven or
eight months seemed to have solidified in Beijing and the passing
weeks since they had returned home.
lot of things changed in Beijing,” he told her, gauging
her mood. “If I learned anything there, it’s that
all things must change. I know I did.”
nodded in agreement. “Me too.”
drove in silence for several minutes, each lost in their own thoughts.
Efraim glanced over at his partner, grinning at the soft smile
on her face.
you remember what you said to me the night of Tiananmen? When
you walked me to my room to make sure I didn’t run back
out into the thick of things?”
she looked over at him, her eyes sparkling in the darkened interior.
“I said a lot of things to you. Remind me.”
stilled, her eyes widening as she remembered what she had told
nodded, not saying a word.
would you say if I offered you breakfast now?” Efraim parked
the car, his good arm sliding along the seat behind her.
looked out the window. She turned to him and smiled. “I’d
love breakfast, Efraim.”
Efraim jumped out of the car, running to open her door. He offered
her his arm, and Francine took it as she climbed out of the car.
The walked to the front door, he opened it and let her step in,
following quickly behind her.
place,” Francine said, a smile turning up the corners of
her lips. “Think we can get breakfast at this hour?”
can get anything you’d like at this hour here, Franny.”
laughed. And waited.
made the first move.
table for two, coffee all the way around and the breakfast menu,
this story against the backdrop of the massacre in Tiananmen Square,
is not meant on my part to trivialize the events leading up to
4 June, 1989. Upon researching events in 1989, I came upon declassified
State Department cables from the US Embassy in Beijing. These
cables detailed the events beginning 24 November 1988 through
June of 1989. The ‘State Department Employee’ reporting
these events is, of course, unnamed. Thus, for my agenda, he became
Efraim Beaman. The actual agent sent intelligence that helped
to shape the US response to events in June 1989; both official
public and back channel responses. Also, several student leaders
were able to leave China, and one who lived through the early
hours of 4 June, made it to the American Embassy. That in itself,
is another story.
you’re curious and would like to read the unclassified cables,
the link is as follows:
have also bestowed upon my beloved Beaman, a doctorate. I formulated
the idea for Beaman’s theory while investigating background
for this story. His ‘thesis’ makes a comparative study
into the various methods of international ‘spying’.
Delusional, you cry! Nope, not a bit! The Chinese call it ‘guanxi’,
the building of a relationship which enables them to place themselves
in a position of authority to obtain what they need. The wise
spy will use cultural influences to enhance his chances of getting
the information he is looking for. If you’re interested,
here’s the link to Frontline on PBS.
reading spying techniques, US Department of State cablegrams and
SITREPS from the US Embassy Beijing isn’t your thing. In
that case, take a look at the Chinese Name Giver I used to supply
the Chinese name Bei Ang for Efraim Beaman. Take a whirl, and
see what you come up with for yourself.
while you’re at it, perhaps you’d fancy a journey
through Tiananmen, the gate to the Forbidden City. Ironically,
Tiananmen itself means The Gate Of Heavenly Peace. The Monument
to the People’s Heroes is plainly visible, as are other
locations mentioned in the story.
your virtual Beijing tour along with this story.