Secret Agent Gals
Richard Gid Powers
Coming February 23rd 2023!
Pre-Order Available! 
Binding

"Wickedly funny. Who's to say gorgeous FBI gal agents couldn't have thwarted J. Edgar Hoover, Hitler, and Stalin to win WW II?  Few writers could have cooked up a plot this unexpected plus a surprise ending you’d have to be as far outside-the-box as Powers to figure out. I wish you a wild ride on this crazy roller-coaster of a read!"

 Cathy Cash Spellman, Author of Paint the Wind, and A Murder on Jane Street

 

 

ISBN 978-1-60489-339-7, trade paper, $21.95

 

 

 
 


Excerpt from B

INTRODUCTION

to the

New “Big Reveal” Edition of Secret Agent Gals

 

You know the kind of long-lost documents Dan Brown and Daniel Silva are always finding, usually after gunfights, stabbings, beatings, torture, getting dropped out of planes, tossed into a snake pit (I think that was Indiana Jones), the inconveniences Robert Langdon and Gabriel Allon have come to expect before the Big Reveal? Where they come up with the long lost (but now recovered) document that proves everything we thought we knew about Jesus, the Catholic Church, the Founding Fathers, Pearl Harbor, and the Kennedy assassination was just 180 degrees from the truth. Have I forgotten anyone? Elvis?

Everything we believed (and that Mom taught us) about everything and everybody was just a crock. So now we’ve got the true gen, as Hemingway would say, kind of a bargain for 20 bucks and a few hours of reading.

This new edition of Secret Agent Gals is something like that, with a twist. The first edition – the first nineteen chapters of this version – was a best seller in 1948, the story of how two celebrity art collectors and museum founders, Peggy Guggenheim and Baroness Hilla Rebay, were recruited by J. Edgar Hoover to expose the Nazi spies who infiltrated the painters they helped es- cape from the Nazis.

Everyone who read that book knows how the Secret Agent Gals won the “Good War” against Hitler and his Nazi ratbastards, not to mention the sneaky Japanese who attacked Pearl Harbor. Also, how they kept Stalin’s Commie ratbastards from getting the A-Bomb until the heroes of the Strategic Air Command were good and ready to stop the Red Hitler’s plans to kill us all. (What I’m trying to say in that last sentence, which got a little confusing, is that Stalin, aka ‘The Red Hitler,” planned to dump A-Bombs on America, and the G-Girls stopped him. Sorry.)

And everyone knows how Baroness Hilla Rebay built the Guggenheim Museum on Fifth Avenue in New York, and how she and Peggy Guggenheim put together the Museum’s great collection of modern painting and sculpture — you know, the kind of art that doesn’t look like anything you or I or any sane person would buy and in fact looks like something your five-year-old or a chimp named J. Fred Muggs cudda done. You and I can both see through that kind of crap, but let’s not go there. Some people like it and pay big bucks for it, but there’s a sucker born, etc., etc.

We thought we knew all that. But . . .

Now, because of the declassification of supersecret FBI files in response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests (really demands) by Fearless Crusading Publisher Joe Taylor, we learn everything we believed about XXXXX and XXXXX and especially XXXXX (no spoilers here, sorry) was just a load of bullshit, and that’s putting it mildly.

As Fearless Crusading Publisher Joe Taylor prepared the new “Big Reveal” Chapter Twenty for publication, he had to figure out how exactly to drop this bombshell on you all. He decided that readers should share his (that is, Fearless Crusading Publisher Joe Taylor’s) own excitement as he discovered the truth.

And so, what you now have is (first) the original first edition, word for word as it appeared in 1948, followed by the author’s own suppressed account of how and why the G-Gals embargoed Chapter Twenty, and then . . . the earthshaking revelations of Chapter Twenty itself. And the FBI’s desperate attempts to intimidate him (Fearless Crusading Publisher Joe Taylor) from publishing the TRUTH, the truth that will shatter what is left of the Bureau’s reputation already in tatters from its Hillary E-mail and Russian Collusion fiascoes. So now the truth can finally be told. But again, no spoilers here! Ya gotta read to the end to get to the good stuff.

As you probably have gathered, we (meaning you) have gotten a little more sensitive to “offensive” reading material over the past seventy some years since the first edition. What you are going to read is not suitable for children under five or some of you snowflakes due to filthy language (the s-word, the f-word, and the c-word all over the place) and if you know what those words mean you should stop right now and wash your mouth out with brown soap with pieces of Brillo® pad stuck into it.

There are also scenes in which cigarettes are smoked (which can cause, according to the Attorney of General of Something or Other, serious harm to pregnant women and operators of machinery like snow blowers, chain saws, or electric toothbrushes), so if you find yourself reaching for a pack of unfiltered Camels® or Kools® after reading this book, don’t say Ol’ Fearless didn’t warn ya.

There is also one scene in which our heroes “black” up with burnt cork, and if your tender little woke hearts can’t take that kind of shock you better skip that section (but it was for a good cause, sneaking up on murderous Nazi and Commie ratbastards with flashlights just like John “Duck” Wayne in The Green Berets or Leonardo “Leo” DiCaprio in Inglourious Basterds), and if you’re so goddam sensitive, and you don’t think trying to stop the Holocaust is worth bending a few rules, Joe Taylor, the Fear- less Crusader, wants to know right now if you’re willing to admit or deny that the Holocaust did or didn’t happen, and that calls for a simple “yes” or “no” answer, you equivocating phony. He nailed ya.

There is also a scene where a Secret Agent guy dresses up like a Secret Agent gal, and if you’re not willing to grant “trans” Americans equal rights under the law and equal employment opportunities (and equal pay) you’re not the kind of reader this Fearless Guy wants for his crusade.

Okay, that covers all the “trigger” stuff that might give Me-too-ers and “Cancel Everything” vigilantes heart attacks, so you can start reading.


 

 

 

Part 1

CHAPTER 1

 

The Baroness Hilla Rebay rang the bell, and the door of the split-level ranch in Washington Northeast opened. She found herself staring into the business end of a .45 caliber Police Special. She raised her eyes to the bulldog features of the man holding the gun, J. Edgar Hoover, a face familiar to the millions of kids who belonged to his Post Toasties® Junior G-man Club and their parents who believed anything whipped up by Hoover’s crack publicity wizards in the FBI’s Crime Records Division.

“You must be the Baroness,” Hoover said, greeting her with a grin as phony as the smiley face on the welcome mat at Sing-Sing.

“And you must be the gentleman who’s gonna get his fucking arm broken if he doesn’t put down that gun.”

J. Edgar Hoover, reflexes crippled from decades of breathing lead dust while trying (unsuccessfully) to pass his proficiency test at the Bureau’s gun range and slowed even more from years of pounding down martinis with Walter Winchell (his #1 informant) at New York’s Club 21, failed to lower his pistol quickly enough to suit the Baroness. She sidestepped, grabbed his gun arm and twisted hard, sending the hapless hero’s sidearm clattering to the parquet floor, and sending the man himself up in the air for a full gainer with a twist.

The Baroness scooped up the revolver as Hoover almost landed on his feet, but lost style points as he slipped on the first banana peel of the slippery yellow trail the Baroness spotted leading to the living room. The Ol’ Trail-of-Banana-Peels Burglar-Baffler, the Baroness thought, pretty primitive for the head of a modern scientific law enforcement outfit.

“That’s no way to treat Public Hero Number One,” the director blubbered as he struggled to his feet, only to slip and fall on the second banana peel as he bent to retrieve the fedora lost during that first tumble.

The Baroness toyed with the pistol. “This thing loaded?” she wondered aloud and answered her question by shooting out six bulbs from the foyer chandelier. I guess it was.

As Hoover once again struggled to his feet, the Baroness counted the remaining banana peels and calculated eight more pratfalls, summersaults, and other aerial acrobatics, for a total of ten (Study arithmetic, kids, comes in handy) before the Crimestopper Commander-in-Chief would make it to the living room couch. So, she stepped over the once-again supine (Supine means flat on his ass, kids. Study your vocabulary) crimefighter to score a drink on her own.

“Gimme back my gun,” Hoover whined.

“You forgot the magic word.”

“Magic word? What’s that? Oh! How about ‘Hocus-pocus’? — No? — ‘Alakazam’? — ‘Booga-Booga’? — ‘Mother May I’?”

“Getting close.”

“Aw, come on. Gimme a hint.”

“Sorta rhymes with ‘police.’”

The Sage of Scientific Sleuthing couldn’t think of the Magic Word as he slipped and fell on the third banana peel.

In the living room a well-dressed lady was doubled over in laughter and a tall handsome gent wearing what the Baroness recognized as the G-Man de rigeur of three-piece navy-blue pin- striped suit, wing-tipped shoes, and a snap-brim fedora was trying unsuccessfully to hide his hilarity by covering his mouth with both hands. He finally gave up and slapped his hands on his thighs and yelled, “You look like such a moron, Boss. I tol’ ya that ol’ banana skin trick wasn’t going to fool any burglar who wasn’t already brain dead.”

“Like him,” the lady added, pointing at the Galumphing Gumshoe, who had just gone down for the fourth time.

The Baroness stuck out her hand to the tall dark stranger, and said, “I’m Hilla Rebay.”

“Clyde Tolson, Public Hero Number Two, and best buddy of the boy on his back over there,” as Hoover went down for what the Baroness calculated was the fifth time.

“And you I’d know anywhere: Peggy, you slut,” she said to the finely-coutured female, as the Director hit the deck for the sixth time.

“Won’t somebody help me?” the Nation’s Top Cop wailed.

“Why, Hilla, you gold-digger, such an unwelcome surprise. I don’t know why we’re both here, but I haven’t had a drink yet either. Clyde?”

The much-disheveled Law-Enforcement Legend finally crawled into the living room after three more slip-and-falls. “I think that was the last of them,” he told them cheerfully as he tried to stand up. “Whoops!” he went down again. “Forgot about that one. I think that was the last of ’em. Supposed to finish off the burglar. The grand finale. Oh well. I could use one too, Clyde.”

“‘One-two,’ quite a way with words,” the Baroness laughed. “And by the way, XYZ.”

The Director directed his gaze downward, and sure enough, his fly was unzipped. As he struggled to fix it, Peggy, the heiress and art addict Peggy Guggenheim, said, “Here, lemme help you, you’ll never get anywhere with your tie caught in the zipper. Don’t worry. I won’t touch your willy . . . There . . . OK now? Good boy. Oh, and ya got yer hat on backwards, Mr. Hoover.”

“My friends call me Speed,” the Director told them. “OK, Speed,” the Baroness said, “And just what the hell is she doing here?” pointing to Peggy, who had the same expression of surprise, shock, and horror Hilla would have seen on her own face if a mirror had been handy.

“Why that’s your pal Peggy. She just got here. I got something I wanna say to both of you.”

“She’s not my pal, and whatever it is you have on your mind, you can forget it. I don’t wanna be in the same room with that, that . . . woman.”

“Aw, lemme have a chance to tell you what I got on my stupid mind. You might find it interesting. So, what’re you drinking?”

“Gin,” the Baroness said.

“Me too,” Peggy chimed in. Then, “I didn’t know she was coming,” Peggy said to the Director. “Whatever you’re planning, Speed, I’m sure it’s a bad idea.”

“Calm down,” Hoover told them. “Look around. Make yourselves at home. Clyde, get moving on those drinks. We’ve gotta cloud the minds of these little ladies. And I don’t know what you’re both thinking, but just because Clyde lives here with me doesn’t mean we’re, you know . . .”

“Whatever you say, as long as those drinks get here,” Hilla responded. The ladies looked at each other with distaste, then looked around the living room. “Those things loaded?” the Baroness asked, pointing to a brace of submachine guns on the mantel.

“Guns’re no good if they ain’t loaded,” Hoover informed her. Seems reasonable, she thought.

The Baroness walked over to Peggy Guggenheim and went face-to-face. Real close. “I’ve been hearing what you’ve been saying about me and your uncle. I oughtta paste you a good one.”

“Oh, yeah? Go ahead and try.”

The Baroness cocked her fist for a right lead, and Hoover rushed between them just in time to catch Rebay’s punch square on the nose. “Goddammit, I think you broke my nose. Gimme something to stop the bleeding, Clyde.”

The two Public Heroes looked with dismay at the blood on the white plush rug. “Think we can get those spots out, Clyde?”

“I dunno, Chief. You were too cheap to get these things Scotchguarded®. I think we’re fucked. Maybe we could burn the place down for the insurance.”

“Quit whining,” Peggy said, “and how ’bout those drinks?”

“Oh yeah,” Clyde said, and he went back to the bar and returned with four highball glasses filled to the brim with gin and ice. “Here’s how,” he said, raising his glass, as they all tossed down a big gulp. Hoover looked disgusted as a drop of blood from his nose landed in his glass. “Shit! Get me a new drink, Clyde!”

“Aw for Christ’s sake, Chief, you won’t even taste it. And by the way, I remember there’s a blood-on-white-rug exclusion clause in our Homeowner’s Policy. Those insurance guys are plenty slick. This’ll teach us not to buy our policy from the Tupperware lady.”

“It’s only a rug, for God’s sake,” Peggy told him. “And you can gyp the government for a new one. Tell ’em it was ruined during a shoot-out with a Public Enemy who made it past the banana peels. So, what’s your big idea, anyway? I’d like to get out of here and go somewhere I don’t have to breathe the same air as this slut who’s banging my uncle and looting my inheritance to buy her boyfriend’s paintings. A boyfriend, by the way, who is a no-talent hack.”

“Yeah, well at least he is my boyfriend. You make every painter pass inspection in bed before you’ll buy his paintings.”

“You ought to try it, you gold-digger,” Peggy sneered, and reared back to throw a punch at the Baroness. Clyde stepped between them and this time he caught a right to the jaw that dropped him.

“I think you killed my buddy,” Hoover wailed.

“It’s his own fault. It’s the manly art of self-defense, and he didn’t defend himself,” Peggy explained to Public Hero Number One. “And it’s all over town that you’re screwing my uncle for his money,” Guggenheim told the Baroness.

“Why you liar,” the Baroness said, and rushed at Peggy. Speed and Clyde, still groggy from the punches, made a move to get between them, thought it over, looked at each other, shrugged, and sat down on the couch to watch the catfight.

They were pretty well matched, the Baroness with her honey blond hair in the bob that was the style, Peggy with darker hair, also bobbed. They had both kicked off their high heels as they grappled with each other, Peggy had the Baroness in a headlock on the floor, but the Baroness did an escape and had Peggy from behind, face down. Peggy did the old butt-bump move and had the Baroness pinned, both shoulders to the floor. She looked urgently at Clyde, who got down on the floor to make sure both the Baroness’s shoulders were down. Clyde slapped the floor: “One, Two,” and was just about to count her out when the Baroness did another escape. She jumped to her feet, picked Peggy up, and slammed her to the floor headfirst. Peggy looked dazed and ready to be finished off. “Got any bridge chairs?” the Baroness asked Hoover.

“In the closet.”

The Baroness hastily retrieved a folded bridge chair while Peggy was trying to gather her wits. She raised the chair over Peggy’s head, glancing around at Speed and Clyde to make sure they were watching. Clyde was chanting, “Baroness! Baroness!” and Speed was yelling for Peggy to rally. The Baroness brought the bridge chair down on Guggenheim for the finish, but Peggy twisted aside, escaped, and grabbed the chair from the Baroness. Clyde and Speed were so excited they started bitch-slapping each other, Clyde cheering for the Baroness, Speed for Peggy. The Baroness was in full retreat, Peggy stalking her around the living room. Peggy backed the Baroness against the fireplace and raised the chair. They were both panting. The Baroness reached to the mantle and grabbed one of the machine guns. She pointed it at Peggy. Peggy retreated with her hands up.

“Whew,” the Baroness said. “That was fun,” and she lowered the machine gun. “I didn’t know you had that much fight in you. Let’s do it again sometime.”

Peggy dropped the chair. “Now let’s find out what those two geniuses wanted us here for.”

They looked around. The two Ace G-Men were on the floor, Speed sitting astride Clyde, slapping him back and forth across the chops, while Clyde was gesturing frantically to the Baroness to pull Hoover off him. “He’s hurting me.   Come on, Speed, save that stuff for later when we’re alone.”

The two ladies sat on the couch to watch, sipping their gin. “If Clyde just pulled up his legs, he could get Hoover in a scissor lock and flip him,” Peggy suggested.

“Great idea,” Clyde yelled, as he flipped his boss and began strangling him.

Peggy and the Baroness were comparing manicures and had discovered a common bond in that they both favored Charles of the Ritz cosmetics. “I like the contrast between your fair skin and the bright red lipstick,” Peggy told the Baroness. “I go for a little matchy-matchy with a darker lipstick because of my tan.”

“I think that’s very attractive,” the Baroness replied, “but let me fix you up a little. That head slam seems to have dislodged one of your eyelashes. There, that’s better.”

They looked over at the Lords of Law Enforcement. Clyde tightened his grip on Hoover’s throat and had both thumbs pressing on the FBI Director’s Adam’s apple. “I think the FBI is gonna need a new boss if we let this go on much longer,” the Baroness said, as Hoover’s face turned red, and he stopped moving. She went over and pulled Clyde off Public Hero Number One.

“I had him! I had him! You saw that I had him! Why’d you hafta stop it?” Clyde was so excited he was almost crying. In fact, he was crying. “That’s the first time I ever beat Speed in a fight.”

Speed took a few deep breaths and struggled to his feet. “Two out of three. I only fell ‘cause I slipped on one more banana peel that was NOT part of the burglar trap the way we diagrammed it. Maybe a certain hard-boiled dick with a sneaky streak planted that one? Huh, Clyde? Ready to come clean, ya rat?”

“Now, now, boys, calm down. Whaja want to talk about?” the Baroness asked the nation’s top spies.

The G-Men calmed down. “OK, here’s the deal: You know ‘bout this Hitler guy who’s taken over Russia, right?” Speed asked.

“I hate to correct the head of U.S. snooping and spying,” Peggy told him, “but Hitler is Germany. Stalin is Russia.”

“Shit, I always get those assholes mixed up.”

“Here’s the trick. It’s easy,” Peggy explained. “Use the alphabet and remember it’s G H: Germany, Hitler. And with Russia: it’s R S, Russia, Stalin. They come after each other when you say your A, B, Cs,” she added helpfully. (Got that, kids?)

“Christ. So simple. GH, RS. Wotta great trick. I made that stupid mistake yesterday when I was shaking down the House Appropriations Committee for some more money we needed to save the country. If they weren’t so scared of me, they woulda laughed. Now all I have to do is learn the alphabet,” he laughed. “How’s it go? A, B, C, D, E, F, G . . . Just kidding.”

“I know you are, Speed,” said Peggy and she squeezed his knee.

“I saw that,” Clyde said disapprovingly. “Not that I care.” “The point is, you and Peggy have been bringing in all

kindsa radical artists and their stuff from – which is it – Germany? Russia? Germany? Which ones are the Krauts? Which ones are the Ivans?

“You’re just pretending to be a scheisskopf, right?” the Baroness said.

“Right, whatever that means. Anyway, we want you two to figure out which artists are the Nazi spies.”

“I can tell you right now: It’s Peggy’s Surrealists. Round them up and kill them.”

“Hah! Wrong!” Peggy said, “it’s your abstract painters that’re the spies. They probably put messages in code in their paintings and only the other spies know what they mean. Ship ‘em over to me with their paintings and I’ll tell you which ones to kill.” “Yeah, ship ‘em over and you’ll schtup ‘em,” the Baroness told Hoover. “She judges how good painters are by how good they are in bed.”

“Hear that, Clyde?” “I’m getting hot, Speed.”

“She does the same thing, but lies about it,” Peggy said. “Rudolf Bauer, Hans Arp…”

“Hey, I don’t sleep with all my painters; well, not often, at least not as often as you. I’ve got standards!”

“Standards? Right. They’ve gotta have two arms and a . . .! Wanna start keeping score?”

“Listen up, you two. Here’s Clyde’s idea,” Hoover told them. “Get over here, Big Boy.” Clyde slipped onto the couch next to the Nemesis of Ne’er-Do-Wells.

“OK, Sharpshooter, tell the Baroness and Peggy how this Dynamic Duo of Dashing Dames is going to save us from the Reds, the Nazis, whichever buncha assholes we’re supposed to catch.”

Clyde pulled himself together and addressed the two ladies: “OK. Here’s the plan. I’m calling it Plan 47 with the G-Gal Option. The two of you are gonna get together and work for us, as loyal Americans – you are loyal Americans, aren’t ya?” he asked the Baroness, who reached past Speed and gave Clyde a noogie.

“Speed, did you see what she did?” Clyde complained.

“Man up, Girlfriend,” Speed told him. “Now tell them your brainstorm.”

“You two could be pals, be on our team,” Clyde said earnestly and with fake sincerity that had tricked many a Public Enemy into ratting out his gang. “We’ll put you through our Count- er-Spy Training Program and you’ll learn how to smash Nazi spy rings. Publicity should be good for your museums’ images. Nothing wrong with making a buck.”

“You mean we have to work together. Hmm,” the Baroness pondered the idea. “Before we had that little dustup, I would have said, no way. But now, maybe she’s not as bad as I thought. That was a good way to get to know one another. Where’d you learn that spin escape from the pin?”

“Naked wresting at Smith. I was team captain. Dincha do that at your school?”

“Nah. In Germany we went for saber fencing. Like you do here in acting school. See this little scar here?” as she pointed to a nick on her cheek. “That got me dates at the military fraternity at Heidelberg. The guys loved to lick it.”

Peggy smiled at the Baroness. “Maybe we could work together, Chief,” she said.

That made Hoover happy. And Happy Hoover thought, “Let’s make everyone happy. “Let’s take a little recess. Clyde, break out those joints.”

“Joints, what’s that?” the Baroness asked.

Peggy said, “Now yer talking.”

“Nicht verstehe,” the Baroness said.

“You never heard of Reefer Madness?” Peggy asked the Baroness, passing her the joint Speed handed her after taking a deep drag himself. “Here, just pucker up and inhale.”

“You mean like I’m smoking a Camel®.”

“That’s the idea. You might even get humped.” The Baroness looked at her blankly. “That was a joke. I guess you have to be a native speaker to get it.”

“Wow,” the Baroness said after taking a couple puffs. “This is great. Makes me want to look at a goldfish tank and eat gummy bears, whatever they are. Or listen to whales singing love songs.”

“Join our team,” Hoover told her, “and I can get you all this shit you want. We’ve confiscated a ton of it, and it’s just for me and Clyde and our pals. We gotta test the stuff if we’re gonna arrest someone for having it.” He took another hit. “Wow! The guys down in the lab musta put a little extra something in this!” He grabbed a handful of gummy bears from the table. “So, whaddya you think about Clyde’s great idea? I just love, I mean like, or maybe it’s just admire, the guy. And ain’t he cute? I mean handsome?”

The Baroness ignored Hoover’s question and tried to think about how much she used to hate Peggy Guggenheim, but she was high as the Dumbo balloon in Macys® Thanksgiving Day Parade and was having trouble thinking about anything. For her part, Peggy was at peace with the world. “We’ll do it,” the Baroness said. Peggy couldn’t talk, so she just nodded. And grinned. And drooled a little.

“That’s it,” Speed yelled. “Yowza. We got ‘em.” He slapped Clyde a high five and danced a little jig with his War-on-Crime Wingman.

“See,” Clyde yelled, “and you said they were cretins.”

“I never said that. I said, ‘great ones,’ not ‘cretins,’” Speed lied to his two new special agent recruits. He had his fingers crossed where the girls couldn’t see them.