Mirsky glances upward as he hustles to the hangar but he can’t see anything through the darkness. Fighters and bombers roar as they take off, one after the other, joining their brethren who are already in the air, flying from other airbases along the front, filling the night with noise. He admits it, it gives him a thrill to be a part of such a huge death dealing machine as the US Army when it’s rolling.
The town (Vlissingen or Flushing) was overcrowded and insanitary, the local hostile. The traffic of war passed through, incessantly, chaotically – soldiers on their way to the front, the cashiered and wounded on the way back home, and the usual wartime flotsam of profiteers, adventurers and spies, travelling in both directions and in neither.
He knew before he even opened his eyes that he was ashore. But not too far from the ocean, he could smell it, hear the gulls. It had stormed recently, he could smell that also. Ashore. But where? And when? How long have I been unconscious? By the feeling in his flesh, he knew that he had been asleep for sometime. But, drawing in a breath, he felt no pain in his lungs from the ague and the pain of his stomach wound was much lessened. Christ, that long?
Nick opened his eyes. He was in a room in an inn; he recognized the type easily enough, small but not filthy. Light came in through the oiled paper in the one window, judging by its strength, sometime in the afternoon of a sunny day.
“Ok, so jumpin’ out of plane is a lot fuckin’ harder than it looks.”
Mirsky limps into the hangar behind Maccabbee. “But I gotta say, Rabbi, I’m not too happy with your plan.”
Maccabbee stops and turns to Mirsky. “Sergeant. Benny. It’s the only way that you get to come along on the mission. We’re parachuting out of a plane tomorrow. There’s no way you can get trained in time.”
“Malkuth will take care of you. It what he does, takes care of people. He’ll get you down to the ground safely.”
Mirsky does a great imitation of a kid who doesn’t want to take his medicine. “But him carrying me, me strapped to him like some baby…”
Maccabbee’s been trained to listen compassionately and understandingly when people come to him with the stupidest shit. So he doesn’t roll his eyes or cast aspersions onto Mirsky’s masculinity. He just claps the Russian hitman on the shoulder. “You’ve got to get on the ground somehow, we need you down there, and this is the best way that I could think of.”Continue reading “(Fangs of the SS) CHAPTER 19: Mission Is Go!”→
At that time Antwerp resembled post-Second World War Vienna, awash with spies, counter-spies, lies, and double dealing.
The Elizabethan Secret Service
“He’s gone.” Jean’s tone was phlegmatic.
“I know that we are to bow our heads and accept God’s trials as a proof of our worthiness in His eyes, but sometimes I do wish that He could see fit to ease our road. After all, we do His business!” Helmsley threw his hat and gloves on the table, ran his fingers through his hair. Then regained his senses and became aware of what outrages he had just uttered. In a fever of repentance, he pulled his St. Christopher medal out from under his doublet, kissed it, and silently begged God’s forgiveness for such a miserable sinner as himself.
For the last several kilometers along the abused dirt road, Wehrmacht Captain Rickard Wetzel and the vehicles of his command have been passing German Army vehicles: trucks, jeeps, armored personnel carriers, trucks towing artillery pieces, motorcycle couriers, even some tanks, all heading in the opposite direction, towards the front. Now, in late afternoon as the sun breaks through the clouds, they come to their destination.
It’s a Wehrmacht forward command post that’s using an abandoned village as a gathering place and an easy map point. Similar to the one a hundred kilometers or so the west where Wetzel and his soldiers had destroyed the American patrol.
Wetzel raises his goggles as his jeep comes to a halt. He looks back to see the rest of his vehicles pull up behind him. Krober gets out of the lead truck and Wetzel goes to meet him.
If on both sides trade with the enemy on payment of heavy duties was much better than no trade with the enemy, the prospect of trading at war prices without paying those duties was still more attractive, and the smuggler was everywhere at work. On both sides every variety of fraud was practiced to evade payment and to deal in prohibited wares.
The Scheldt Question To 1839
S. T. Bindoff
The bells in the steeple above Nick tolled and he roused himself from the doorway where he’d spent a most uncomfortable night. Time to push off. The tide will turn and start ebbing in a few hours. If he’s in port, Great-Thirst will be grunting his way out of a whore’s bed and gathering his crew.
Next to the gate leading out to the Houc Quay wharf on the River Scheldt was The Beggar. Old, probably there when the walls first went up, probably there when people first started shipping cargo along the river. And it was probably a dirty disreputable drinking hole then. At the door, underneath the weathered carved bar’s namesake, Nick stood aside to let two drunken longshoremen stagger out, then entered the low, dim room. He moved quickly to the bar, not wanting to be lit in the doorway any longer than necessary. The barman stared at him expressionlessly through a fringe of long greasy hair.
The place was a fetid pit. The floor had never been swept, and there were piles of unidentifiable garbage in the corners, colonized by mice and roaches. Bad smells, sour beer, piss, spew. Light only entered the boozer warily, as if afraid of being beaten and left for dead. It was all very familiar to Nick.
Without saying a word or changing expression, the barkeep pulled a mug worth of beer and slid it across the bar to Nick. He took a sip of the brew, found it sour but palatable, then turned to look at the people. There, at a table by the far wall, was the man he sought, a skinny man with his long legs stretched out underneath the table.Continue reading “(Broken Instrument)CHAPTER 18: NICK: GREAT-THIRST”→
As night falls, a businessman returns from a hard day of meetings.
“Ok, so I pieced off the crap game to Stankovic, introduced Ferris to Muldoon over at the quartermasters, and told Darlac to find another sucker for his dope bizness.”
Mirsky is walking between the tents of Camp Cuckoo talking to himself. It’s an old habit and one that people have warned him about for years. He doesn’t care all that much. When he talks to himself, he uses such a mix of ungrammatical Russian, Yiddish, English, and even some Greek that he picked up on the Odessa wharves, that no one really has any chance of understanding what he’s saying. “Jumping out of a plane is gonna be a fuckin’ nightmare. But it’s Leah. So, sure, I’m going to jump out of an airplane in two days. I survive that, I make sure the Rabbi survives this queen bitch monster we’re going up against, and then, little sister, I’m coming to make sure you’re safe.”
He stops his monologue. Something different up ahead, around a couple of tents. Not the usual chanting, weird mechanical noises, or something that sounded like some sort of wolf fucking some sort of cat. No, this is much more familiar to Mirsky. The voices of drunk and stupid authority throwing its weight around. A gentle smile appears on Mirsky’s face. He rolls his shoulders, loosening muscles. He cracks his knuckles. He heads towards the voices.Continue reading “(Fangs of the SS) CHAPTER 17: The Zombies, They Like White Meat”→