Little boy blue come blow your horn The spy's in the jailhouse He looks so forelorn...
Somewhere in Bavaria...For a reason he could not fathom, Illya Kuryakin, agent of the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement, had been left with every gadget issued to him save his Special...his gun. As he wondered at this bit of police inefficiency, he opened his communicator and voiced the familiar call signal:
"Open channel D. Kuryakin here""Illya, where are you?"
Napoleon was on the other end, which meant he wasn't close enough to rescue him from this cold, ancient place. The police had arrested him, but he had no doubts that Thrush controlled the police here in this little hamlet.
"I am in jail, but not a very good one. And among officials who are not very thorough in their jobs, for they have been kind enough to leave me every accoutrement of the job, save my gun. I know they are minions of Thrush, but have apparently missed some of their training".
He leaned languidly against the stone wall as he spoke, not much in a hurry to get out...just yet. It was a curiosity, this set up. He thought he might get an opportunity to gain a little more information...
"Do you have any thoughts on escaping? We don't have anyone in the area at the moment. Well, except for you, tovarisch".
Illya could hear the smile in his partner's voice. Once again, it was he who had ended up in the hands of Thrush while on a simple errand. Perhaps he should consider a new profession...
"I will do what I can, Napoleon. I did manage to engage the cooperation of an innocent here who seemed inclined to help me. I think it's because he plays jazz...trumpet, actually. We had quite an interesting conversation about..."
"Yes, well I'm sure it was very interesting. That's a very small village; how did a jazz musician end up there?"
Illya had wondered the same thing, but no answer had been forthcoming.
"Odds fish, I thought"...
Napoleon crinkled his nose at that phrase and reluctantly asked his friend what he was talking about.
"Oh, it refers to something eccentric; like this fellow playing jazz here in Bavaria. You know, Napoleon, it is a very fascinating thing to..."
"Okay, Illya, that's great. So, how are you planning to escape from your not very secure jail?"
The Russian pursed his lips together, hoping to organize his thoughts into a coherent plan.
"Actually, I do have some incendiary devices that will do nicely for opening this door..."
As he spoke, his right hand was reaching inside his belt, retrieving a length of wire that he deftly inserted into the lock, then twined around the section holding it. A small fizz, the lock released and the door swung open. Illya cautiously poked his head outside the bars, looking in both directions before exiting his cell.
"I'm out. Any ideas about where I can find the microdot?"
He had come here to this little village in Bavaria in order to retrieve, or steal, a vital piece of intelligence that was contained on a microdot; it outlined a new Thrush hierarchy. The supranational organization was sweeping out the old Regime, and the details were within the microfilm. If UNCLE had this information, they could get an early start eliminating the top men and women controlling the menace that was Thrush.
But, who are you boy Do you play for the king? Or are you a spy for the villainous ring?
At that moment, Illya saw the man whom he had met in the restaurant...the horn player. He was startled at first, then the slow realization that he was Thrush. How unfortunate to have so much in common with a zealot for disorder and crime.
"Ah, mein freund...sie haben einen weg aus der zelle gefunden".
The smirk on the man's face was irritating to the Russian. He had been expected to escape his cell, of course. And now he knew for a certainty that jazz was not enough to form a friendship.
"I assure you, Eric, we are not friends. And, now I can assume that you are in charge of this Thrush Satrap. I will admit you are a very accomplished jazz musician, however".
The Thrush agent eyed his prisoner with an appreciation for his intelligence and his taste in music. Two more guards emerged from the shadows and took Illya roughly in hand, shoving him into yet another cell, this time removing his communicator and searching him thoroughly for the remaining tools that might be used to destroy more of their jail. Illya resisted, gaining for himself a blow to the head that sent him spiraling into blackness, and left him in a crumpled heap on the cold stone floor.
Napoleon was sitting at his desk in New York, waiting for something from his partner, when the familiar signal alerted him to an incoming call.
"Solo here. Illya?"
"No, Mr. Solo. I am Eric Von Kalweit, commandant of the Bavarian Thrush Guard. Your partner, Mr. Kuryakin, is still with us. He is, unfortunately, unable to speak to you at this time. I would be willing, however, to turn him over to you under certain conditions. If you cannot agree to my terms, I will be forced to...eliminate your Russian friend".
Napoleon didn't misunderstand the tone of the man's voice, in spite of the limited reception on his communicator. Illya's life depended on his response to the man's request. He only hoped it wouldn't be something that Mr. Waverly would refuse. Trading with the enemy was not normally an accepted practice within the U.N.C.L.E.
"What is it you want, Von Kalweit? We don't trade secrets or vital documents. I think you already know that".
The CEA of UNCLE Northwest could not betray his position, in spite of his friendship. He would do what he could for Illya, but he knew his limitations when it came to UNCLE policies.
"I think, Mr. Solo, that you will find a way to accommodate my demands. It will pain Mr. Kuryakin no matter what your decision. However, the permanent pain of refusal will be something you will be forced to live with in his absence".
Napoleon cringed at the thought of being responsible for his partner's death. He and Illya had depended on each other since the beginning of their association. Each had saved the other's life on countless occasions, waited through hours and days of recuperation from near death; they had become brothers in arms as well as friends whose scars bore testimony to their dedication not only to the cause, but to each other.
"I ask again...what is it you want?"
The pause was almost unbearable as Napoleon hoped against hope that he could fulfill the demand that he knew was coming...
"I want a certain record"
"I told you, we can't trade documents..."
"Mr. Solo, I mean I want a record. A jazz record that Mr. Kuryakin has in his collection. It is a rare live recording, and only a limited number of them are still in listenable condition. He won't willingly give it up, but I believe you will not be as obtuse regarding this...I must have this record!"
There was no mistaking the man's vehemence regarding his lust for the vinyl in Illya's apartment. Jazz was a menace as far as Napoleon was concerned, and now it was going to cost Illya. It was either the record, or his life. Napoleon didn't hesitate in giving his answer, and was out the door of Del Floria's sooner than Von Kalweit could say Gypsy Jazz.
When Illya was dumped on the steps of Del Floria's, he was drugged and unaware of the terms of his release. It was 24 hours later when his partner finally confessed his part in the ordeal. The blond was stunned into a silence that spoke volumes to his wary partner. The blue eyes were icy, his expression unreadable to most.
"You gave him my recording of Django Reinhardt? Do you know how rare that is, how difficult it was for me to obtain it? Do you have any idea what you've done to me?"
Normally, Napoleon might have felt slightly apologetic about stealing from his partner and friend. He understood the importance of his record collection, and how he had spent years on selecting the choicest of recordings, the expense to which he had gone on his stereo system. It was, he thought, the Russian's one extravagance.
"What I know, Illya, is that you are alive. It was the only way to get you back in that condition. I just had to hope you would forgive me...eventually".
The charm of his smile was more than Illya could resist. Of course, given the ultimatum, Napoleon had chosen to save his life. The vinyl could be replaced perhaps; if not, at least he would live a little longer to continue the search.
"I do forgive you. However, there is one thing you must do in order to be completely exonerated of this egregious affront to my record collection".
The American straightened his tie and twisted his head, not knowing what to anticipate from the wily Russian.
"What, exactly, will extricate me from any guilt in this affair?"
"There is a concert in the Village on Saturday night. One of the cafes is hosting a group from France who will be playing some of the music you gave away to Von Kalweit. I expect you to attend with me".
"But, I have a date with..."
It was that guttural, deep noise that Illya made when he was on the verge of being really mad. Better to cancel with a woman than to endure the wrath of Illya.
"Okay, all right...I'll go. There, does that make you happy?"
The blond head rested against the ample pillows, a sigh of victory escaped lips that formed the hint of a smile.
"Yes, Napoleon. I think I am quite content".
The blue eyes rested on the contrite man seated next to his bed, another twinge of humor on the verge of escaping.
"What else, Illya? Some other mandate for me to comply with?"
A fully realized smile appeared on the face of UNCLE's only Russian agent. Sometimes he was successful in countering his image of reserved and humorless.
"Did I mention that I was able to locate the microdot?"
The surprise on his friend's face was gratifying.
"But, how...you were a prisoner...and the record..."
"Yes, but you see, the man was predictable. He let me examine his own record collection, and he has a copy of Art Blakey's recording of A Night at Birdland. I know the cover, and there was an extra large dot over the 'I' in Birdland. It was a clever ruse, although a little obvious...Birdland".
The grin was infectious, and Napoleon wondered at the many interests and talents of his partner. And, in spite of his serious dislike of the musical genre, it appeared now that jazz had helped to save the world. _Too bad for Von Kalweit that his pleasure in capturing the coveted album would be ruined by the loss of the microdot, if not his life.
Will you wake him? Oh no, not I! For if I do he will surely cry