Tag Archives: Nazis

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Fifty-Three

Previously: Mercenary Leon fails on a mission because of David, better known as Edward the Prince of Wales. Socialite Wallis Spencer, also a spy, has an affair with German Joachim Von Ribbentrop and marries Ernest. David becomes king. Wallis divorces, David abdicates and they marry. On their honeymoon they plan to derail a train.
David and Wallis sat finishing their lunch in a small intimate dining room in Schloss Wasserleonburg castle. The bay window exposed the Austrian Alps in its full August splendor. Wallis had been successful in extracting information from Ribbentrop about train activity. Regular deliveries were being made from Salzburg through Villach and across the Italian frontier to the port of Trieste on the extreme northeast border of Italy. Certain rail cars were sealed and marked as property of the Nazi government. David and Wallis relayed the information to MI6, and General Trotter arrived at the castle last week with their orders and preparation. They were to derail the engine and discover what was in the sealed cars. The train would be crossing the Gail River near Arnoldstein about 10 p.m. After a few moments of silent reverence, Wallis reached over to squeeze David’s hand.
“Are you sure we have to go through with this mission?” Her voice was real, for once, filled with apprehension. “Let me go out in the woods and pick the best poisonous vines. Give me a good sturdy hat pin. But carrying sticks of dynamite in a backpack across a mountain to a railroad track, well, it scares the hell out of me.”
David smiled. “Nonsense. Nothing could scare the hell out of you.”
Andreas, the majordomo, entered and bowed. “Was the luncheon to your satisfaction?”
“Of course.” David leaned back in his chair and puffed on a cigarette. His line of vision never left the view through the window. ”The duchess and I were just discussing the beauty of the Austrian Alps. We’ve decided we must be a part of this enchanting forest.”
“Well, not literally a part of the landscape,” Wallis added as she sucked on her own cigarette.
“We would like the kitchen to fix us a picnic supper. We plan to hike down to the Gail River, camp under the stars and return in the morning.”
“Ah,” Andreas exclaimed, “an excellent choice. Many of our guests say a hike to the Gail River is the highlight of their stay in Austria. May we organize your backpacks? Our maids are quite expert—“
“Oh no,” David interrupted. “The duchess loves to pack, don’t you, my dear?”
“Yes, I’m just dying for this adventure.” Wallis crushed her cigarette in what was left of her sunny-side up egg.
David and Wallis spent the afternoon packing. Each had German uniforms. David had an officer’s and Wallis a private’s.
“How come you get to be the colonel?”
“I speak fluent German. It’s my mutter’s tongue.”
“I speak German too.”
“Like what?”
Scheitze. Nein. Weiner schnitzel.”
“That would be fine if we were going to a German beer hall.”
Wallis picked up a revolver.
“And when do I use this?”
“As the Boy Scouts say, be prepared.”
Then she clicked on her torch to make sure the batteries were working. Its light flashed on. “Good. Don‘t stumble through the Alps at night without one.”
Late afternoon they left the castle and entered the Austrian forest wearing fashionable yet jaunty hiking clothes, each shouldering a backpack. As the sun set, David and Wallis sat on a boulder outcrop to eat their supper. They turned on their torches as they returned to the well-worn mountain trail. They had only gone a couple of miles when a grizzled old man pulling along pack mule appeared coming the other way. David waved at him, and he nodded.
“Nothing as invigorating as an evening hike in the Alps,” the duke announced.
“Except for a plunge in the Adriatic,” the man replied.
“I’m starved,” Wallis added. “Do you have sandwiches on you?”
“No.” The old man went to a bag tied around his mule. “But I have something much more satisfying.” He pulled out two sticks of dynamite and handed one to each of them.
“Will that be enough?” she asked.
“You want to derail the train, not blow it to kingdom come. Happy hunting.” The stranger continued to pull his donkey into the darkness and soon disappeared.
“And what are we to do with these?” she asked.
David turned his back to her. “Ever so gently slide it into my pack. “
She followed his direction and then turned so he could put the other stick in her pack.
“Aren’t these things supposed to have fuses?” she asked.
“They’ll be given to us closer to the track.”
A couple of hours passed without much conversation. Soon they heard the sound of rapids from the river. Before they came upon the Gail they saw a portion of a flag hanging from a bush. It was the Union Jack.
“Hello,” David whispered as he took the cloth and stuffed it into his pocket.
“How dreadfully unpatriotic.” Wallis leaned over to look behind the bush where two rolls of fuse wire were nestled. “That’s a lot of wire.”
“Well, you don’t want to be too close when you light one of those things.”
Each took one roll and continued down to the river bank. When they arrived they looked up to see the railroad bridge silhouetted against a half-moon. David and Wallis climbed up to the track where they opened their packs and pulled out the two sticks of dynamite.
They laid the sticks between the two rails, attached the fuses and unrolled the wires back into the forest. Then they opened their packs, pulled out German uniforms and changed clothes. They sat on the ground and waited.
“So how are we going to light these things?” Wallis cracked.
“Don’t you remember the training General Trotter gave us when he visited the castle last week? How fast fuses run and how to calculate igniting the fuse so it explodes right before the engine rolls over it. He went over it several times.” He paused. “You brought your cigarettes, didn’t you? Light the fuse with the lit end.” David smiled at her.
“I could use one now.”
“Don’t you dare.” He looked into her eyes. “Now what can we do under the moonlight while we’re waiting for the train?”
Before Wallis answered, they heard the distant call of a train whistle. They turned off their torches.
“I hope we’re fast learners.” Wallis fumbled for her lighter.
The whistle blew louder. David put his hand on Wallis’s.
“Not yet.”
Soon they saw the engine light appear in the distance.
“Now.”
They lit their fuses and watch the sparkling line go toward the track. The train was now loud, the cars clearly visible.
“Dammit,” she hissed. “We didn’t light them too soon, did we?”
“No, no.” David’s voice did not convey confidence.
The explosion rocked the earth. The engineer threw on his brakes, causing them to squeal. David and Wallis covered their ears and grimaced at the sound. The train slowed a little but not enough to avoid the gaping hole in the track. It hit the broken rail with a heavy thud; the attached cars derailed and overturned. Nazi soldiers crawled out of the train windows and jumped from the doors. They scrambled about the wreckage like a bunch of disturbed cockroaches. David and Wallis put on their helmets, grabbed their revolvers and torches and joined the hysteria.
They had only gone past a couple of cars when they noticed one that had “Nazi government” emblazoned on the side and whose seal was broken. Wallis pointed her torch inside, lighting the contents. They saw piles of fifteen centimeter naval shells.
“They’re making sure their war ships have plenty of ammo when they move into the Mediterranean to fight the British and the French,” David muttered.
A voice behind them bellowed in German. When they turned around they saw a colonel with his revolver drawn. He spat something at them.
“I am Colonel von Seidleman!” David barked in perfect German. “How dare you leave this shipment of shells unprotected!”
“That was exactly what I was doing! How did you arrive here so fast?” the colonel asked.
“That is my job!” David retorted. “Why weren’t you here sooner?”
Seig heil!” Wallis spat out.
The colonel spun toward her. “How dare you speak to me in such a tone!”
“Oh, to hell with it,” Wallis said in English as she pulled out her revolver and shot him in the chest.
In seconds, they were surrounded by other German soldiers.
“We recognized this man to be a British spy!” David pointed to the body on the ground. “Who is responsible for this?”
The colonel moaned. David’s eyes widened before he regained his composure.
“Good! He’s alive. Take him off and interrogate him immediately. Let me know what you find out.”
The soldiers picked up the colonel and carried him to the back of the train. David and Wallis turned and walked up to examine the damage to the engine, then disappeared into the darkness of the forest.
“I thought I told you to say nothing,” David asked in a hiss.
“Oh sheitze.”

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Fifty-Two

Previously: Mercenary Leon fails on a mission because of David, better known as Edward the Prince of Wales. Socialite Wallis Spencer, also a spy, has an affair with German Joachim Von Ribbentrop and marries Ernest. David becomes king. Wallis divorces, David abdicates and Leon declines to kill.
Wallis awoke in Chateau Cande the morning after the wedding to the sight of David wearing nothing but a winning smile as he stood over her.
“Well,” he asked, “what do we do now?”
She was taken aback because someone in MI6 always told them what to do next. It wasn’t up to them. “How the hell would I know? I’m only the simpering bride.”
“Why don’t we blow up a train?”
“Before lunch?”
“Oh no.” He sat on the bed and leaned into her. “We have three months of honeymooning in an Austrian castle to work out the details. General Trotter slipped a note into one of our wedding presents that I happened to open last night. The Germans are up to something and we have to derail a train before it reaches an Italian port.” He shifted his body. “Do you mind my being so close?”
“I didn’t know you cared.”
“I haven’t made up my mind yet.”
That afternoon they packed their bags and boarded a train to Venice where they spent a couple of days doing the usual tourist things, like riding a gondola trough the Grand Canal, meandering through St. Mark’s Square and touring the Doge’s Palace. The next day they continued on to Venice where they connected to another train to the village of Villach in the Austrian Alps where they were to reside in Schloss Wasserleonburg for the rest of the summer.
As they stepped off the train at midnight, a local children’s choir serenaded them. An attendant handed Wallis a dozen white carnations.
“Oh dear. I didn’t think Joachim would be trailing us like a lost puppy.” She sighed.
“Ribbentrop. This might prove serendipitous. If he contacts you, agree to meet with him.”
Her eyebrow arched. “On our honeymoon?”
David guided her through the crowd to a waiting limousine. “Remember. We must learn what’s on that train. Remember? So do it for the King.”
“The King?” A smirk crossed her face.
“You know, my dippy brother. Bertie.”
That night a lone white carnation arrived at the dinner hour. The note attached was addressed to Wallis:
“Organ concert, 8 p.m. St. Jakob-Kirche.”
She showed the note to David who smiled.
“At least you know he won’t try seduce you in a church.”
“You don’t know Joachim very well, do you?”
When Wallis arrived at the ancient church in downtown Villach, the pipe organ concert had already begun, and classic religious music echoed through the vaulted ceiling. If Ribbentrop didn’t arrive soon, she decided as she settled into a pew in the shadows, she’d return to the castle.
“You know St. Jakob is the oldest Protestant church in Austria,” a voice whispered into her ear from behind her.
“For God’s sake, Joachim,” she muttered, “if you want to talk, at least sit on the same pew with me.”
Ribbentrop wasted no time scooting in next to Wallis. “Did you get my carnations?”
“Yes.” She paused. “The white roses the mayor gave me were beautiful. Your carnations were, after all, just carnations.”
“You drive me insane, my dear.”
“How thrilling, the organ master, I mean.”
“The Fuehrer was indignant the Parliament forced King Edward from the throne because of his support of the Nazi regime.”
She looked at him and furrowed her brow. “I thought David gave up the throne for the woman he loved, and I presumed he meant me. I don’t remember National Socialism coming up in any of our conversations during the abdication.”
“That was what the newspapers said, but the Fuehrer knew better.” Ribbentrop’s breathing was labored.
“Of course, he did.” Irony licked her every word.
“I understand it would be inappropriate for us to spend special time together while you’re here in Villach.”
“Yes, it is my honeymoon.”
“But this October, if you and your husband could visit Germany, perhaps we could carve out a few hours just for the two of us.”
His proposal caught her attention. An extended visit with Adolf Hitler. Wallis, with her extensive knowledge of poisons and long sharp hat pins, could make a valuable contributions to the cause of peace in Great Britain. Of course, she could not appear too interested.
“Germany. In October. All you’ve got to offer me is a month of drinking beer?”
“Yes!” He tried to control his exuberance. “Of course, we cannot make it too obvious. I could use our mutual friend Princess Stephanie to place the idea of inviting the duke and duchess of Windsor for a visit in the mind of her current lover Fritz Weidemann, Herr Hitler’s adjutant. Your husband and the Fuehrer could discuss world peace and the plight of the working man while we discuss us.”
“World peace? That’s the best you can come up with?” Wallis scoffed.
“Don’t dismiss world peace, my dear. War is on the horizon. Germany is preparing.” His tone turned serious. “Even as we listen to this angelic music, munitions are on trains to the furthest corners of Europe. And England and France don’t even know.”
Wallis’s mind immediately went to David’s conversation the day after the wedding about blowing up a train. This was information which MI6 must have. She looked Ribbentrop and fluttered her eye lashes.
“What were you saying? I was distracted by this marvelous concert. He’s playing Mozart, isn’t he?”

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Fifty-One

Previously: Mercenary Leon fails on a mission because of David, better known as Edward the Prince of Wales. Socialite Wallis Spencer, also a spy, has an affair with German Joachim Von Ribbentrop and marries Ernest. David becomes king. MI6 to test him to see if he can be both king and spy.
On the morning of her divorce hearing, a crisp October day in 1936, Wallis could not see anything but the haughty contempt in the eyes of the judge, Sir John Hawke. Crimson and ermine robes and a white judicial wig obscured the rest of his shrunken elderly body. She was not sure he had a mouth or nose except when he sneezed and coughed up nasty clumps of phlegm.
The ordeal began several weeks earlier when news of the divorce broke in newspapers around the world. William Randolph Hearst in particular was interested in any photographs of her hair blown astray, her fingernail disentangling a bit of roast beef in her teeth or of her getting out of an automobile in such a clumsy manner that her dress rose up to her thigh. Wallis, fortunately, had spent years practicing the finer arts of good manners so no pictures of that nature would ever appear in print.
A week before the hearing she took a small cottage in Felixstowe in Suffolk. All the London divorce dockets were filled so she had to look to a country court to finish this business as quickly and as efficiently as possible. David told her the smaller setting would make it easier to control the crowds. Screaming fans tossed flowers at her and newsmen flashed their cameras as Wallis walked out of the cottage that morning. She thought it couldn’t have been worse if she had been in Piccadilly Circus.
Her lawyer, Norman Birkett, tried to guide her through the proceedings as gently as possible. He produced a letter from Mary Raffray declaring her love for Ernest Simpson. Mary, of course, wrote the note at the urging of Ernest, who had conveniently left it on Wallis’ dressing table. Birkett handed it to the judge who blew his nose before reading it.
“I can’t make heads or tails of this,” Judge Hawke grumbled in the style of an irritable old English squire. “I can’t even vouch that this is a woman’s handwriting.”
Birkett quickly presented a typed transcription to the judge who just then had a coughing fit. It was all that Wallis could do not to gag a bit herself. She watched the judge squint at the document.
“What kind of evidence is this?” he demanded. “It’s not even romantic. Why anyone would get excited over this bunch of puffery is beyond me.”
Wallis knew she should have insisted MI6 send an emissary to the judge’s home last night to impress on him the importance to national security to approve the divorce decree. Hell, she muttered to herself, they should have threatened to kill the old bastard.
“After finding that letter,” Birkett continued, “Mrs. Simpson employed a detective agency to follow her husband on a weekend trip to the Hotel de Paris at Bray on the Thames during Ascot week. They observed Mr. Ernest Simpson accepting a breakfast tray from a hotel employee at his room which he shared with a woman who was registered as Buttercup Kennedy but was almost certainly Mary Raffray.“
“You mean to tell me you don’t know if the woman sharing Mr. Simpson’s room was indeed Mary Raffray rather than this Buttercup person?” the judge bellowed.
“Whether the woman was Mary Raffray or Buttercup Kennedy makes no difference,” Birkett countered. “It was not Mrs. Simpson. Mr. Simpson was consorting with a woman who was not his wife.”
Judge Hawke blustered for several minutes without saying much of anything of consequence until Birkett interjected all that was left for the judge to do was issue a decree nisi, divorce with final adjudication in six months.
The old man blew his nose again. “I suppose I must under these unusual circumstances. So you may have it.”
Several reporters accosted Wallis on her way out of court.
“Do you plan on returning to the United States?’
“Why should I? The press there has been atrocious to me.”
“Did you know your first husband Win Spencer was divorced from his second wife?”
“No, and why should I care?”
“He released a statement that he hoped you were happy. He was sorry he could not provide the social life that you wanted. He particularly stressed he wished you all the happiness in the world.”
***
David relaxed in his favorite chair in front of the fire at Fort Belvedere awaiting the arrival of Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin. It was the first week of December, and snow was on the ground. Nursing a glass of brandy he thought of the many happy times he had spent at the old place—fixing it up, creating the garden, hosting parties. He tried to remember how many women he had bedded in his boudoir but he couldn’t quite come up with an accurate number.
Baldwin had spent the day with members of Parliament and with David’s mother, brother Bertie and the tweedy types that hovered around them. They were going to make a list of demands and consequences for David if he followed through with his threat to resign and marry Wallis—or, as his mother called her, that adventuress.
He wouldn’t miss the official duties at all. As long as he could have an occasional dinner with his mother Queen Mary and go riding with his brothers, George, Bertie and Harry, all would be fine. He could do without the Duchess of York Elizabeth. He was rather fond of Lillibet and Margaret Rose. David looked around the wood-paneled parlor of Fort Belvedere and smiled. Yes, he had been willing to risk his life on missions for the empire, then enjoyed coming home to the Fort to recuperate.
He heard a knock at the door, and the butler allowed Prime Minister Baldwin to enter and guided him into the parlor. David could not tell by the look on Baldwin’s face how the negotiations had gone. He knew for certain that the prime minister himself was against it. David didn’t care what the old prune-faced gent thought about the situation.
“Would you care for a brandy, Prime Minister?” David asked, as most congenial hosts would have offered.
“No, thank you.”
“Then please have a seat.” He pointed to a comfortable padded armchair across the fireplace from his own.
Baldwin took his time settling in before looking directly into the King’s eyes. “I would be remiss if I did not make one last plea that your majesty to relent in your pursuit of Mrs. Simpson and continue in your duties as our monarch.”
“There are more reasons than I am willing to elucidate at this time why that position is untenable,” David replied, returning eye contact with the prime minister.
“Well then, let us get down to the details. The abdication news will be released tomorrow to all outlets, which are expected to comment editorially. Read them or not, that is your privilege. Your majesty shall prepare a statement to be read on the public airwaves sometime in the next few days. Shortly after that you will sign six copies of the Act of Abdication.”
What the prime minister was saying blurred in his mind. He had no problem with the procedure. He wanted to get back to his life of espionage.
“Now we have the financial situation to consider. You and your brother the Duke of York own Sandringham and Balmoral. Arrangements have been made for the duke to buy them from you. You have considerable income coming from the Duchy of Cornwall which has been invested. However, you have never paid income tax. As a private citizen your tax rate would be seventy-five per cent. The alternative is,” the prime minister hesitated before stating, “that you never live in England again.”
“That wouldn’t be so bad.” David paused to consider the consequences. “Wait a minute. What about Fort Belvedere?”
“Of course, it would go back to being part of the Royal preserve. What the trustees do with it is anyone’s guess.”
David stood and walked around the room. This place had been his refuge for many years. After the abdication, the fort would no longer be his. David took pride in his existential views of life, that nothing much matter, people, castles, friendship, love. But he did love this home. He felt a lump in his throat.
“Very good.” He smiled at Baldwin. “One place is as good as another.” He lied.
***
The news from England spread to the Bahamas quickly. All the passengers on the ferry from Freeport to Nassau talked about the abdication of King Edward VIII and his move to France to be near his lover Wallis Simpson. Her divorce was finalized in the spring, so everyone expected the couple to marry sometime in the summer of 1937.
Leon sat by himself, puffing on a cigarette of Egyptian tobacco, and listened to but not engaging in the conversation. He wanted to give the impression that he cared nothing about the private lives of the former king of England; but in reality, he was deeply involved with the newly created Duke of Windsor and his lady. He knew for certain the duke was an international spy and his fiancé Mrs. Simpson was surely his accomplice. He spared their lives once on a dock in Corsica, and he wondered how many other times he would compromise his own orders to repay the duke for sparing his life many years ago in Canterbury.
The sun set by the time the ferry arrived in Nassau. Leon looked forward to seeing the blonde card dealer in the casino at the Rialto. When he returned from his walk that morning, Leon took a note from the disheveled plant pot in front of his Eleuthura house. The organization had a new assignment for him. He hoped it was on the other side of the world from the duke and his paramour.
Leon was about to hail a carriage to the Rialto when two men grabbed him and rushed him into a warehouse on the docks. They pushed a burlap sack over his head, shoved him down onto a chair and tied him to it. So this is my end, he thought. So be it. Leon wished he could have lasted another couple of years so his son Sidney would have completed his training and taken his place with the organization. But this was the way of life.
“The organization is not pleased with you.”
Leon recognized the accent to be from the American South although he could not ascertain the exact region from which it came. It was not the earthy drawl of Texas. It did not have the sweet lilt of Mississippi. Nor the soft glide of the Georgian tongue.
“You didn’t complete your mission in Corsica. Are you able to explain why?”
“They moved too fast. I couldn’t get a shot off.” Leon was pleased with himself with his justification, although it was blatantly a lie.
“You would have already been dead, but the organization’s commandant has a high regard for your previous work.”
“I am flattered.”
“You have been given one last chance to vindicate yourself.”
“How generous.”
“The former King of England Edward VIII now known as the Duke of Windsor will marry Wallis Simpson at Chateau de Cande near Tours. A large wooded park surrounds it, so there’s maximum security. However, we have contacts within the staff of Cande’s owner, industrialist Charles Bedaux. We can supply you identification papers to infiltrate the wedding party. Once inside you will assassinate the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.”
Leon gathered his thoughts before he spoke. “Very good. My congratulations to the operative who originated the plan. I have only a few observations.”
“Continue.”
“Why kill the couple? Once he abdicated he was of no use to anyone.”
“You know why.” The voice turned sinister. “We know you deliberately chose to spare his life and that of Mrs. Simpson on Corsica. You must prove your loyalty by killing them now.”
“Hmm.” Leon cocked his head. His mind raced. Pooka must have told someone. If he survived this night, he would take pleasure in killing her. But his captors did not need to know his plans. “And why do you think they would allow a black man into the wedding party?”
“You will be dressed as a servant, of course.”
“Does Monsieur Bedaux have other black servants?”
“I—I don’t know.”
“My guess would be no.” Leon hurried on to his last point. “Finally, why put me to a test of loyalty since this is obviously a suicide mission. Simply put a bullet in my head now and let the Duke and Duchess lead their merry, meaningless lives. I mean, you truly don’t believe MI6 will continue to use them as agents now that their cover has been exposed?”
A long silence ensued. Leon had made his point.
“They told me you were smart, very smart it seems.”
“I know.”
“Untie him. Send him on his way. I have to confer with the commandant on how to proceed.”

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Forty-Five

Previously: Mercenary Leon fails on his first mission because of David, better known as Edward the Prince of Wales. Also in the spy world is socialite Wallis Spencer, who dumps first husband Winfield, kills Uncle Sol, has an affair with German Joachim Von Ribbentrop and marries Ernest. MI6 orders David and Wallis to infiltrate a secret planning session held by Adolf Hitler.
By the time Ribbentrop returned to his Berchtesgaden hotel his mind was a swirl with thoughts about the day’s events. The ungodly scream and then the abrupt crowd dismissal was bad enough but Guderian’s announcement his valet was missing sent Ribbentrop over a brink of anxiety. The missing valet was the same man who had caught his attention because of his odd behavior. Ribbentrop ordered his valet to stay behind a while to learn what had actually happened. He was certain there was some connection between the two incidents. He sat in the hotel bar waiting for his valet’s return when he noticed a solitary lady enter the lobby and go to the registration desk. It was Wallis Simpson.
“Wallis, my dear!” he called out as he stood.
She turned, looked confused a moment before smiling. Ribbentrop stopped short of embracing her but instead waited for her extended hand, which she never offered.
“Joachim. What a surprise. I thought you were still in London. How is your wife—what is her name again?”
“Please join me in a drink.” The tension in his shoulders disappeared. All he could think of was their wonderful week in Paris.
His valet came through the door and hustled toward him. “Herr Von Ribbentrop, I have the news—“
He held a palm up. “I’m busy now.”
“That’s quite all right,” Wallis said. “I must check in, settle into my suite first. And before I can even think of having a good time I must change out of my traveling clothes.”
Ribbentrop bowed, clicked his heels, took his valet by the crook of his elbow and guided him into the darkest corner of the bar. Without any hesitation, the valet leaned in and began to whisper.
“The scream was a kitchen scullery maid. She went into the meat locker. Made a horrible discovery. The naked body of a man. Gestapo agents identified him as one of the valets. He was thick around the waist, though his neck was slender. He was about five feet seven inches.”
“But Guderian’s man was taller,” Ribbentrop interrupted.
“Valets often wear lifts in their shoes to appear more imposing.”
Ribbentrop raised an eyebrow. “You’re short. You don’t wear lifts.”
“I don’t need lifts,” he defended himself. “My dignity makes me imposing.””
“Go on.”
“His hair was black and his complexion extremely fair. A checkered table cloth, one used for terrace dining, was tied around his neck. From the discoloration of his skin, the Gestapo estimated he had been dead in the locker since late last night.”
“General Guderian’s man.” Ribbentrop paused. “But we saw him all this morning at the general’s side.”
“But it could not have been him,” the valet added. “It was his murderer.”
Ribbentrop dismissed him and then leaned back in his chair to assimilate the information. He had been right. The black Irish man had to have been a spy. But who? At that moment, Wallis, now wearing a chic cocktail dress and mink edged drape, walked up.
“Am I interrupting? You look deep in thought,” she said in her nasal twang he found so fascinating.
He stood to pull out a chair. “Please have a seat.” After Wallis positioned her bottom and carelessly threw one leg over the other, Ribbentrop sat and smiled. “And what will you have to drink?”
“Champagne, of course.” Her lips slit into her famous snake-like smile. “You’re the expert. You select it.”
In a few moments the waiter delivered a bottle of champagne in an ice bucket. He expertly uncorked it, poured one glass and offered it to Ribbentrop who took it, whiffed it, took a sip then nodded. The waiter poured a glass for Wallis, bowed and walked away. They relaxed and sat back. Ribbentrop expected Wallis to take the lead in conversation. She usually did, but this time she just drank and stared into his eyes.
“So. Are you on holiday?” he asked.
“Unfortunately. I don’t know why I bother to go skiing. I never advance beyond the baby slope. But the Grand Hotel in Kizbuhel is fabulous.”
“Kitzbuhel is in Austria. This is Germany.”
She rolled her eyes. “The forecast for the weekend was a snowstorm, so I escaped to a haven where there would be some other color than white. The sky in Berchtesgaden is a glorious blue.”
“And where is the prince?” Ribbentrop loved playing cat and mouse with a fascinating woman.
“Which prince? Europe is hag-ridden with princes.”
“Wales?”
“And why would you think I’d know where he is?”
“I read the newspapers.”
She smiled and sipped her champagne. “Oh dear. And we thought it was a secret.”
They stared at each other until Wallis started laughing. Ribbentrop chuckled as he lifted the champagne bottle from the ice bucket.
“Thank you. I don’t mind if I do.” She extended her glass so he could fill it.
“David’s off to Vienna to arrange waltz lessons for us next week. First he forces me onto the slopes and then on the dance floor. I think he’s trying to turn me into an athlete.”
“Well, you are, aren’t you—an athlete, I mean.”
“Why, sir, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
The game grew exasperating for Ribbentrop. He wasn’t used to being out-maneuvered by a woman in conversation. He cleared his throat. “Aren’t you interested in why I am in Berchtesgaden?”
“No.”
“Come now, you’re going to hurt my feelings.”
Wallis pulled a cigarette from her purse and leaned forward so he could light it. “Berchtesgaden is the home of Hitler’s palace so I imagine you’re paying him homage.”
“It isn’t a palace.” He was pleased he could be in a position of advantage finally.
“Whatever it is, you’ve been there today, haven’t you? You’re not here for the blue sky.”
Ribbentrop reached across the table to squeeze her hand. “You make me mad with desire. You know that, don’t you, Wallis?”
“Not tonight, darling,” she purred. “I’m simply exhausted. Now if you plan to be around tomorrow night, well, that’s another story.”
He did convince her to be his guest for dinner, but the conversation didn’t rise above Wallis’s witty description of the royal wedding of George and Marina. She wouldn’t even let Ribbentrop escort her to her door. He returned to the bar for a drink stiffer than champagne before retiring to his own room. He began reading Hitler’s Rhineland memorandum. Sleep overtook him before he finished the first page. His valet, true to his vow of dignity, roused him early the next morning so that Ribbentrop would be the first delegate in the Wolf’s Lair conference room.
The prospect of an evening with the tempestuous Mrs. Simpson fogged his mind as the meeting began, even though Hitler’s topic was engrossing: the creation of a new German air force.
“The Treaty of Versailles forbade Germany from military aviation.” He paused, placed his hands behind his back and bounced on the balls of his feet. “The leaders of the defeated Germany agreed to such terms, but I–Adolf Hitler—did not agree to anything!”
The room erupted into applause as all of the participants stood in righteous joy. Ribbentrop noticed another valet was standing by General Guderian this morning. Hitler allowed the display to continue until the men finally returned to their seats.
“In 1926 Lufthansa Airline was founded.” Hitler held up his hands in innocence. “No one could object to a private company for travel whose object solely was to make money. But—“He stuck his right index finger into the air. “—the very same pilots trained for the airline are now prepared to become ace military aviators!”
Again the crowd applauded. This time he waved them down.
“I am announcing the creation of the Luftwaffe to you gentlemen, but steps to bring it to total fruition will not be announced to the world for many, many months. Surprise! Surprise, sirs, will be the secret weapon of the Third Reich!”
Ribbentrop almost didn’t rise for the third round of ovation. He was much too obsessed contemplating the ways Mrs. Wallis Simpson would earn her new white carnation that night.

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Forty-Four

Previously: Mercenary Leon fails on his first mission because of David, better known as Edward the Prince of Wales. Also in the spy world is socialite Wallis Spencer, who dumps first husband Winfield, kills Uncle Sol, has an affair with German Joachim Von Ribbentrop and marries Ernest. MI6 orders David and Wallis to infiltrate a secret planning session held by Adolf Hitler.
January 1935 Berchtesgaden had clear skies and brisk, bracing air filled with promises of glory. Joachim von Ribbentrop stood on this same hotel balcony when Hitler first sent for him. At that time the Fuhrer’s chalet was small and modest; now it was a full blown mountain mansion with broad terraces bordered by massive stone walls. His position of chief foreign affairs adviser assured him a role at every major planning session; and, from what he could discern from the contents of the communiques on today’s conference, this meeting would determine the course and momentum of the Third Reich.
His chauffeur knocked on the door, escorted him downstairs to the limousine and drove him to the Wolf’s Lair, which Hitler had christened his reinvented chalet. Upon arrival he entered a main hallway filled with bustling maids, manservants and soldiers, each with an important task essential to the destiny of Germany. One older, balding man, dressed in black slacks, white shirt and a silver stripped vest, approached Ribbentrop to inform him he would be his personal valet during the two-day gathering.
As he settled into his seat he looked around the room and felt honored to be included in such an august body. Hermann Goring, an air hero from the first Great War, sat across from him. Rumor in the hall was that Goring would be the commander in chief of the new air force. Next to him sat General Heinz Guderian, considered a brilliant armored division strategist. Propaganda Minster Joseph Goebbels created a stir when he marched into the room. Each had a valet at his side waiting to satisfy his slightest need.
Voices in the room rumbled when the door opened and Adolf Hitler himself entered, holding several brown folders. Everyone stood, saluted and shouted, “Heil Hitler,” repeatedly until the Fuhrer motioned to stop and be seated. One valet caught Ribbentrop’s attention, the one by the side of General Guderian. Like all the others he extended his arm in salute but his hand did not make it past the tip of his slender, pointed nose.
Hitler stood at a podium at one end of the table, opened his first folder and clasped his hands behind his back while he stared at the papers. No one could grab the attention of an audience better than Hitler, so Ribbentrop was curious why Guderian’s valet seemed to look down or across the room rather than at their national leader.
“I stand here today,” Hitler began, enunciating each word with distinction and determination, “to declare the Treaty of Versailles to be the single most vile document to be written since the beginning of modern times!”
Once more the guests stood, saluted and sang out, “Seig heil!” Except for the valet who seemed more intent on scratching his nose, Ribbentrop observed.
“We are gathered this day to outline the dismantling of that instrument of evil. As just, prudent men we must realize such an undertaking must be done in small, discreet steps, each explained in such plain, common sense language that no reasonable government could object.”
The valet in reality stifled a yawn. Ribbentrop was infuriated. He leaned forward to take a better look at him. At first appraisal, the man did not seem to be that large, but as Ribbentrop compared his height to the other valets, he was tall, at least six feet. His shoulders were narrow but his waist bulged at bit. The valet’s hair was coal black which contrasted starkly with his skin. From this distance he could not determine his eye color, but the man appeared to look like what the British called black Irish.
“Our first step will be the reinstatement of military conscription,” Hitler continued. “We will simply tell the world Germany will not be denied the right to defend itself from its former enemies–Great Britain and France. Nothing in the Treaty of Versailles keeps them from attacking, and we refuse to bow as slaves to any nation.”
Again the room erupted in applause. Even the valets shouted their approval. Except Guderian’s man. Why didn’t anyone else notice what Ribbentrop saw? Then again, why would anyone else notice, he admitted to himself. Perhaps if he were not conflicted by his divided loyalty between the Nazis and the organization he would not have picked up on the man’s eccentricities.
“Always, always, we will tell the world: Germany only wants peace. None of us means to threaten anybody. We disarm our critics by making them look like liars for accusing us of dismantling their little, meaningless treaty.”
Of course General Guderian didn’t notice his valet’s insolence. The man stood behind the general’s back. Ribbentrop forced himself to return his full attention to the Fuhrer or he might be accused of insolence himself.
Hitler looked down and chuckled. “I don’t know if any of you have ever noticed a little trick of mine. I always make my most audacious statements on the future of Germany’s return to world dominance on a Saturday. The newspapers usually have nothing to print on weekends so they spread my word for me. By Monday or Tuesday, I reaffirm my true allegiance to the cause of peace which then makes the newspapers look foolish.” He chuckled again. “I really amuse myself sometimes.”
During luncheon, Ribbentrop whispered to his valet try to make conversation with Guderian’s man, the one who looked black Irish. As the officials returned to the conference room, his valet made his report.
“I spoke several moments to the man. Very friendly. He even offered me a cigarette,” the valet said.
“Anything suspicious about the man?” Ribbentrop asked.
“The way he talked.”
“What do you mean?”
“His German.”
“What? Was he illiterate?”
“No. He didn’t make any mistakes at all. And I couldn’t tell what region he came from. It was like he was a damn grammar school teacher.”
“Hmm.” Ribbentrop wrinkled his brow. “How old was he? From here it looked like he was trying to look older than he was.”
“No. He looked like late thirties, maybe early forties. His hair looked like it was dyed, but that is not unusual for a man his age.”
Hitler resumed his discourse in the afternoon with the announcement his intention to take the Rhineland back from Austria.
“During luncheon your valets were handed a memorandum outlining my rationale for asserting German sovereignty over this region which has been traditionally accepted as Germanic in character. They will now pass them out to you. Read it. Memorize it. Put it into your own words. As you deal with representatives of the other European powers, you must impress upon them the common sense of our actions.”
A woman’s voice, thunderously tenor in nature, echoed throughout the building. It rang out like a siren for what seemed like several minutes until she had to pause to pant and gag. Another round of shrieks began, interrupted with ungovernable hysterics. The outburst in due course ended with gagging and vomiting.
Hitler’s bodyguards hurried him out of the room while the other officials milled around, much like sheep in need of a shepherd. Eventually they wandered into the foyer, breaking into small groups to whisper about what caused the scream. Within a few minutes, a black-uniformed officer appeared at the top of the stairs, jutted out his jaw, stared out over the crowd and waited for the muttering to stop, which it did.
“Gentlemen, security has been breached. The Fuhrer’s personal staff has decided to cancel tonight’s formal dinner. You shall return to your hotels until the Wolf’s Lair has been thoroughly searched and declared safe. At that time you will be notified if the second day of the conference will continue as scheduled.”
“But I am accommodated here at the chalet!” Goering called out.
“You must leave. It is the wish of the Fuhrer,” the officer stated. “Your valet will be allowed to go to your room to retrieve anything you will need for an overnight hotel stay.”
“But—“
“Even Herr Hitler has left the premises.” The officer raised his voice to drown out Goering’s objections.
“But my valet is missing,” Guderian announced in frustration.
“That is none of my concern.”

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Forty-Three

Previously: Mercenary Leon fails on his first mission because of David, better known as Edward the Prince of Wales. Also in the spy world is socialite Wallis Spencer, who dumps first husband Winfield, kills Uncle Sol, has an affair with German Joachin Von Ribbentrop and marries Ernest. David and Wallis saves Prince George from scandal in Paris and introduces him to his future wife.
A couple of months into the burgeoning courtship, David invited George, Marina, brother Bertie and his wife Elizabeth to Fort Belvedere for a weekend of skating on the frozen pond. Wallis and Ernest joined in just for laughs. And for a hint of self-styled respectability, Thelma Furness served as hostess for the gang. The most fun part of the activities was when they actually put on skates and ventured out on the ice. It was at that moment most of them realized they didn’t realize they didn’t know how to skate. The best they could do was fall on their asses with great aplomb. Wallis described the scene as “a scream” and Ernest couldn’t keep from giggling.
After a while, David and Wallis escorted Marina up to the terrace where the servants had hot chocolate. From there they could observe the activities on the ice. David and Wallis had previously outlined how to enlighten the Greek princess about her suitor. David thought best to let Wallis do all the talking.
“The main thing is that you are having fun.” Wallis pressed her thin lips into a smile that surprisingly passed as sincere. “You are having fun, aren’t you, Marina, darling?”
Marina removed her woolen cap and shook out her long, black hair. “Of course, I’m having fun. I’m with George, aren’t I?”
They looked out at the pond where the young prince seemed to be the only one able to stay on his feet for any amount of time.
“He looks bilious, don’t you think?” Marina asked.
“I suppose,” Wallis replied in vague agreement.
“It’s his sea-sickness. He probably can’t get over the fact he’s on water, even though most of it’s frozen solid,” Marina said.
“So you know about that already?” David felt secure in throwing out his question.
“Oh yes. There’s very little I don’t know about George by now.”
“Hmm. I see.” Wallis paused and narrowed her eyes. “You may have heard certain rumors about George. How would you react if I told you most of them are true?”
Marina loosened her scarf. “Mrs. Simpson, you must remember I am Greek. For centuries the topic of some of those rumors was called Greek love. Hardly anything startles me. I was there when my grandfather the king was murdered. Matters of alcoholism, drug abuse, sexuality pale in comparison to what I have lived through.” She reached over to pat Wallis’s arm. “I know what I am getting into, and I’m confident I will save George from himself.” Lifting an eyebrow, Marina added, “Any other questions?”
Wallis pursed her lips. “If I don’t watch it, I think I could fall in love with you myself.”
David, pleased with the outcome of the discussion, looked out at the pond. “I see Bertie and Elizabeth have finally given up and are coming for hot chocolate.”
Wallis turned to the princess. “The next question is do you think you can abide the duchess’s high whimpering voice?” She took on a quivering falsetto. “Don’t you think Lillibet and Meg are adorable?”
What she didn’t realize was that the couple were closer than she thought, and they heard the imitation.
“Lillibet and Meg are adorable,” Elizabeth announced. “Now where is the chocolate? I’m chilled to the bone.”
Marina quickly busied herself adjusting her scarf over her mouth.
Despite Wallis’s inappropriate behavior, the romance between George and Marina grew through the spring and summer. David was pleased to share with Wallis over tea at Bryanston Court in late August—when Ernest was on a business trip to New York, of course—that George officially proposed to Marina when they went to Yugoslavia on holiday with her sister Olga and her husband Prince Paul. The wedding was set for November 1934. MI6 congratulated David and Wallis on a job well done.
David actually manipulated his parents into inviting the Simpsons not only to the Westminster wedding but also to the palace ball preceding the nuptials. He insisted it would be bad for relations with the United States to rebuff such a prominent American businessman as Ernest Simpson and his wife. On the night of the gala, David went to Bryanston Court to escort the couple to Buckingham. Before they left, he pulled out a box from Cartier.
“You don’t mind if I give your wife a trinket to commemorate the occasion, do you?” He smiled in Peter Pan innocence.
“Of course not,” Ernest replied as he beamed. A shadow crossed his face. “Um, who’s paying for the insurance?”
“Oh, Ernest, don’t be dreary.” Wallis opened the box to find a multi-diamond faceted charm bracelet adorned by a single cross embedded with emeralds. “How lovely. Would it be gauche to wear it both to the ball and the wedding?”
“My dear, when did it ever bother you to be gauche?” Ernest laughed, took the bracelet from the box and placed it on her wrist.
The ball was charming. David found himself dancing with Wallis too much during the evening even though Ernest didn’t seem to mind. He even stared at her during the ceremony at Westminster Abby. He had deliberately ordered a prominent seating for the Simpsons in the front of the church. By the way Wallis shifted in her pew David knew she was bored. He didn’t know why that amused him so much. When she began to fidget with her new charm bracelet, David cocked his head. She must find the secret compartment with the note soon. She did. Wallis opened the tiny note and squinted.
“Dec. 30. Anne Hathaway’s cottage.”
He wondered how she would react to the instructions from MI6. She wadded the note and stuck it in her mouth. A moment later he saw her large Adam’s apple bob. Wallis leaned into Ernest to whisper something witty. True to his fashion, he giggled loud enough to echo through the vaulted ceiling of the ancient church. Fortunately the choir was singing at the moment, and no one else seemed to notice.
A little more than a month later, David, wearing a dark toupee and a fake beard, meandered through the home of William Shakespeare, not bothering to listen to the drone of the tour guide’s lecture. He looked down when he felt a hand in his coat pocket. Glancing around he saw nobody who might have been the perpetrator. He reached in to retrieve a note, and read it:
“Stratford Tea House. 1 p.m.”
When he arrived at the appointed hour, David spied Wallis sitting at a back table tapping her fashionable high heeled shoe. She was bored again. He joined her and ordered a cup of tea. Soon General Trotter slipped in the backdoor and joined them.
“Hitler is on the move,” he whispered.
“As Anne Hathaway often said,” Wallis quipped, “no shit Shakespeare.”
David smiled. “I think the proper dirty joke is no—“
“Please, we’re talking national security here,” Trotter interrupted. “We have it on the best authority that Joachim von Ribbentrop is leaving on New Year’s Eve for Germany.”
“So?” David sounded insolent.
“Please.” Wallis was equally impudent. “Joachim would never leave town on one of the most important social evenings of the year.”
“Exactly.” Trotter lit his pipe. “He’s already booked lodgings in Berchtesgaden. We also have sources in Berlin that Hitler has informed his staff that he will extend his Christmas holiday and not return until late January.”
“Do we know what Hitler is planning?” David asked.
“The Treaty of Versailles included several prohibitions on German military, any one of which Hitler is intent on breaking,” Trotter explained.
“Of course,” David agreed.
“Where is Joachim staying? I may get another white carnation,” Wallis asked in a business tone.
David felt himself becoming irritated. “You’ve mentioned those damned white carnations before. What the hell does that mean?”
“None of your damn business.” Wallis lit a cigarette.
Trotter looked out the tea house window and smiled.

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Forty-Two

Previously: Mercenary Leon fails in his first mission because of David, better known as Edward the Prince of Wales. Also in the spy world is socialite Wallis Spencer, who dumps first husband Winfield, kills Uncle Sol, has an affair with German Joachin Von Ribbentrop and marries Ernest. David and Wallis saves Prince George from scandal in Paris.
Across Paris from the Ballet Russe, David and his brother George knocked at the door of a small apartment in the Bois de Boulogne section of town, known for its bohemian artists. Not too shabby because most of the artists had wealthy relatives who supplemented their incomes so that they wouldn’t have to live next door to the truly starving artists.
When the door opened, David was pleasantly surprised. Little Marina was not quite as mousy as he and George remembered her to be. She had a long, pale face with distinctive features of both her Greek and Danish heritage which made for a remarkable visual impact. And, of course, Marina spoke perfect English. All European royalty knew if they wanted their children to marry into British royalty, they would have to speak English. She smiled, curtsied and invited them in. Her smile was askew, which David found charming.
“You’ve grown into a lovely woman from the last time I saw you,” David said, appraising her with his squinty eye.
“I’m happy you remember me at all.” She led them to a small parlor where her father Prince Nicholas was preparing cocktails. “I borrowed my sister’s best gown for the last occasion we met, and I didn’t think I made any impression.” Without allowing David to reply, Marina turned to George and extended her hand. “And you, Prince George, are as handsome as ever.”
“So they tell me.” He lightly kissed her hand, looked up at her face and winked.
“As you may well know, my father is an artist. I understand you have artistic leanings too, George.”
Nicholas approached the Brothers Royale with martinis on a tray. “Since my father the king of Greece was assassinated a few years ago we’ve been living in impoverished exile. Fortunately, my other two daughters have married well, so we don’t have to worry about them anymore. I don’t do badly with my painting but I don’t delude myself about my talent. I think many people get a giggle from telling friends the picture on the wall was painted by Greek royalty.”
The four of them enjoyed their drinks until Grand Duchess Elena appeared in the dining room door to announce, “Dinner is served. I hope you don’t mind beef stroganoff and Caesar salad. I’m most comfortable cooking Russian food, since I’m part Russian.”
Nicholas put his hand on David’s shoulder, as well he should since he was just as royal as David. “We’re all a mélange, aren’t we, the royal families of Europe? I think we’re related.”
Marina slipped her arm around George’s elbow and leaned in. “Hmm. You smell divine. What cologne is that?”
On their train to Cherbourg the next day, all George could talk about was Marina. He continued to lavish his praises upon her on the ship across the English Channel. David was relieved. It would not prove as difficult to guide his brother to the altar as he once feared. Within a month Marina arrived in London on an extended visit with her sister Olga and her husband Prince Paul of Yugoslavia. They stayed at the Claridge Hotel in Mayfair. David decided the press would be more intrigued in the budding romance by witnessing its inception at a social gathering in London. That way the press could chronicle the entire road to nuptials. No mention was to be made of the dinner in Paris. David made one of his now frequent drop-in visits to Bryanston Court for tea with the Simpsons. He knew Ernest was away tending to business in New York, so it was tea with Wallis alone.
“Princess Marina is in town,” he murmured. “We need an official non-family person to introduce her to George.”
“God, I hope you don’t mean me,” Wallis retorted.
David felt a tingle every time she spoke to him with disrespect, and he could not figure out why he liked it. This was not the time that subject entered his mind so he chose to ignore it.
“Perhaps you could suggest to Lady Cunard to invite Marina to one of her dinners when George is sure to show up.”
“Maud would love it.”
“Who?”
“Emerald Cunard. Try to keep up, darling. She started out life in San Francisco as Maud Burke, but when she reeled in Lord Bache Cunard she changed her first name to Emerald.” Wallis fluttered her eyes. “Perhaps she wanted to seem Irish, I suppose.”
“I didn’t know that.”
“David, the things you don’t know would fill a book. Anyway, this idea of the Cunard dinner party is ripe with possibilities. Maud flirts with Nazis, and she’s sure to invite Hitler envoy Joachim von Ribbentrop also. It’s always a good idea to encourage contacts with Herr Hitler, don’t you think?”
The Cunard ploy worked better than David had hoped. Both George and Marina were entertained by the notion they were being introduced for the first time. To eliminate any suggestion of the Windsor family hand in the gambit, David did not attend the affair. Wallis and Ernest of course attended, and she reported back to David the success of the evening. She expected another white carnation soon. Whatever that meant, David had no idea.

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Forty-One

Previously in the novel: Mercenary Leon fails in his first mission because of David, better known as Edward the Prince of Wales. Also in the spy world is socialite Wallis Spencer, who dumps first husband Winfield, kills Uncle Sol, has an affair with German Joachin Von Ribbentrop and marries Ernest. Ribbentrop aligns himself with both Hitler and the “organization.”
David knocked at the door of George’s suite at the Majestic hotel in Paris in the fall of 1933 when the heat had subsided and the trees had taken on shades of auburn and beige.
“Open up, George, it’s me.”
A light-hearted voice called out, “George Gershwin is down the hall!”
“This is not funny. Let me in,” David demanded.
George opened the door wearing a tuxedo and a goofy grin. “Make it fast. I have to be at the Ballet Russe in an hour.”
“No, you’re not.” David pushed him back into the suite and closed the door. Placing his palms on each side of George’s face, he peered into his brother’s eyes. They were clear, but not entirely intelligent by nature. “Thank God you’re not on the drugs again.”
“I take offense at that.” George pulled away, stepped to the closet and reached for his overcoat and top hat. “Now if you please I have a friend who has the starring role in Igor Stravinsky’s The Firebird.”
“He’s not your friend.” David grabbed George’s shoulder before he could take the coat from a hanger. “Buckingham Palace received a letter from him last week asking for a princely sum not to reveal he’s bedded you several times in the last few weeks. He says he has engraved cigarette cases and lighters to prove it.”
“I don’t believe it.” He looked at his brother and blinked. “Boris isn’t like that.”
“Yes, he is.” David paused. “How would I know about the gifts you gave him, if not from him. Who introduced you?”
George looked away. “Kiki.”
“I rest my case. Don’t dismay. I have a charming evening planned for you. Get your hat and coat. We’re going to the small but respectable apartment of the deposed king of Greece and his family,” David informed him.
“Good God, what have I done to deserve that?” He raised his eyebrow. “I withdraw the question.”
Growing impatient, David went to the closet and took the hat and coat out himself and handed them to George. “They have a lovely daughter, Marina—“
“That mousey thing?” his brother interrupted.
“She is not mousey,” David corrected him as he opened the door and pushed George through. “She just doesn’t have the proper funds to buy the right clothes and have her hair fixed.” They went to the elevator and pushed the down button. “Oh. And be nice about the food. I understand the queen cooks it herself.”
After the elevator door closed, George groused, “Boris still has the cigarette cases and lighters. What are you going to do about that?”
“Don’t worry about it.” David smiled. “They’ll be back in your possession by morning. And that dancer will never bother you again.”

Wallis sat in the front row of the Ballet Russe yawning with boredom as she waited for the curtain to rise on The Firebird. She had never liked that ballet much. She preferred movies. And she didn’t care for the way she was dressed. Wallis wore a platinum blond wig, bobbed. Her eye shadow was blue and her lipstick black. Her hands, decorated with a bluish black fingernail polish, held a red patent leather clutch. The filmy magenta dress barely covered her skinny little bottom. She fit in with the style of les annees folles or the crazy years. It was all right for Josephine Baker but not for her. She preferred a more lady-like fashion. Of course, she was not a lady, but she was trying to be. The seat next to her was empty. She was waiting for Kiki Preston to arrive. Minutes before curtain, Kiki, also dressed in a dramatically short dress, plopped into the seat.
“Kiki, darling! I’m so please to see you!” Wallis lowered her voice and tried to hide her Maryland twang.
Kiki frowned. “Do I know you?”
“Of course, you do!” She grabbed Kiki’s little hand in a tight grip which made the girl wince. “I’ve always wondered. Do you pronounce it Keekee or Kickee?” Wallis kicked her calf, which caused the surprised woman to wince again.
“Why did you do that?” Kiki asked as she tried to pull her hand away.
Wallis dug her nails into Kiki’s palm. Leaning in, she whispered, “Take my advice. Leave right now, and never see George or the Russian dancer again.”
“But Boris and I have a date tonight.”
Wallis tightened her grip. “No, you don‘t.”
Kiki bit her bottom lip to keep from crying.
“If you stay in that chair, you will die in that chair. The custodians will find your lovely body intact except for a nasty needle mark behind your right ear.” Wallis slapped Kiki’s ear with Kiki’s own hand. “Do you understand me?”
Without another word, Kiki stood. Wallis grabbed her wrist.
“Oh, and by the way, tell Princess Stephanie to mind her own damned business.”
Kiki raced from the auditorium as the lights lowered and the orchestra began the overture. The curtain raised, and soon the corps de ballet entered. Boris made an impressive entrance as he bounded, as though free of gravity, across the stage.
“My God,” Wallis muttered, “why do all those dancers have to be so damn skinny?”
After the performance, Wallis made her way backstage and found Boris’ dressing room. Without knocking, she opened the door to find him naked, his skinny body glistening in sweat.
“Oh. I hoped to find you this way,” she announced as she stepped in and closed the door behind her. “Kiki sends her regrets. She had a crushing engagement and couldn’t make it.” Before Boris could say anything she embraced him and planted a kiss on his shocked lips. She pulled away and smiled. “No dinner. Let’s go straight to your apartment.”
Boris fumbled as he put on his street clothes, he asked, “Excuse me, who are you?”
“The best night you’ve ever had.”
He quickly finished, putting on his overcoat, throwing a scarf around his neck and putting a smart fedora on his head. Wallis snatched it away and put it on her own bewigged head.
“I’ll wear that.”
After they arrived at his small apartment near the Moulin Rouge, Wallis pushed him on the bed. “Make yourself comfortable.” She looked around. “Where do you keep your booze?”
His mouth agape, Boris pointed to the dresser. Wallis poured a splash of bourbon in two small glasses, adding a white powder to the one intended for her dancer friend. After he drank it, he passed out. When he awoke an hour later, Wallis had stripped him naked and tied his hands and feet to the bedframe. She straddled him.
“My, this brings back memories of Uncle Sollie.”
“Who?” Boris twisted his wrists in the bindings. “What are you doing?” he yelled.
“Shut up and listen. While you’ve been napping, I’ve been a busy girl. First I got you trussed up like a turkey, then I went through all your drawers and found these little trinkets.” She held up the cases and lighters. “With love from George.” She paused. “Are there any more?”
When he didn’t reply, she slapped his face.
Boris’ eyes widened. “No! No, that’s all.”
“Are you sure, Boris? I don’t like liars.” She slapped him again.
“Please believe me.” He began to cry. “That’s all.”
“I don’t like babies either.” She opened her red patent leather clutch and pulled out a long hat pin. Wallis leaned over and grabbed between his legs, inserting the hat pin.
He wailed in a high pitched yelp.
“You sound like a little girl.”
“I am a little girl,” he whimpered.
“At least you’re honest.” She withdrew the pin. “Stay away from George, or else you’ll get more than the pin next time. Do you understand?’
“Yes, ma’am.”
“Tell your agent you want to go on a world tour. For a long time. Skip London.”
“Yes, ma’am.”

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Forty

Previously in the novel: Mercenary Leon fails in a kidnapping because of David, better known as Edward the Prince of Wales. Also in the spy world is socialite Wallis Spencer, who dumps first husband Winfield, kills Uncle Sol, has an affair with German Joachin Von Ribbentrop and marries Ernest. David asks Ernest’s permission to have an affair with Wallis.
Joachim Von Ribbentrop was full of himself in spring of 1933. His own dining room had been the scene of a historical event in January. He was responsible for bringing German State Secretary Otto Meissner and German Chancellor Hindenburg’s son to his home in the exclusive Dahlen district of Berlin to dine with Adolph Hitler and Hermann Goering. Somewhere between the entrée and dessert they persuaded the government officials it would be best for the country if Hindenburg stepped aside to allow Hitler to become chancellor. To reward Ribbentrop, Hitler appointed him chief advisor of foreign affairs. His primary job was to sway wealthy, influential Englishmen to exert their influence in Parliament to craft a sense of rapprochement with the new Nazi government.
To fulfill his obligation of persuasion of the English upper crust toward the rising Nazi régime, Ribbentrop returned to his posh suite at the Ritz Hotel on Piccadilly across from Green Park and down the street from Buckingham Palace. On one particular evening, he sipped on his wine and surveyed his elegant parlor filled with impressive guests—Lord and Lady Londonderry, Duke of Westminster, Lady Oxford, Lady Emerald Cunard, all drawn in by his secret weapon, Princess Stephanie of Austria. She had been unsuccessful in reeling in the Prince of Wales but more effective in convincing major members of the nobility to support Hitler. As usual, a group of sophisticated young gentlemen surrounded her at the party.
A tap on the shoulder brought Ribbentrop out of his thoughts. When he turned he saw a respectable looking man in his forties properly dressed for the occasion with flawless posture and manner. He had sandy hair, undistinguished facial features yet not unpleasant. This was a person he could meet on the street the next day and not recognize. He must be from the organization.
“I am so pleased you invited me to your party.” The voice was in the baritone range, not too high to contrast with his appearance, nor too deep which might impress too many people as commanding. Perfectly pleasant but not memorable.
“No, it is I who is pleased you could attend.” Ribbentrop bowed and clicked his heels.
“Might I have a word with you in private?”
“Of course.” He looked around the crowded parlor. “Perhaps in my bedroom upstairs.”
The man smiled but shook his head. “No, it would be obvious to your guests we were missing. I have always found the best place to discuss secrets is in the middle of chaos.”
“I beg your pardon?”
He took Ribbentrop’s elbow to guide him across the room. In a voice loud enough to be heard by the closest guests but still not enough to draw attention, he said, “You know my family is quite well known as international restaurateurs. I’ve always been fascinated by a well-run kitchen. May I inspect yours?”
They were half-way through the dining room door when Ribbentrop replied, “Oh yes. Of course.”
Anna Ribbentrop stopped in the middle of fussing about the table to stare at them.
“My dear,” her husband said with a grin, “you know our beloved friend. You remember him. His family owns half of the best restaurants in the world.”
“Oh. Yes. Of course. How are you? I don’t mean to be rude but I must finished with the details of dinner. Our guests must be absolutely famished.”
“Of course, madame. I simply wanted to see your kitchen. It must be state of the art.” He pushed Ribbentrop to the kitchen door. When they entered, the noise of the cooks and assistants was deafening. They edged their way through. “I’m particularly fascinated by a well-stocked pantry.”
Ribbentrop glanced around the kitchen like it was his first time there, which it was. He stopped a short, plump balding man carrying a stack of dishes. “Where’s the pantry?”
“I’m just part-time help, guv’ner. How the hell am I supposed to know?”
Flustered, Ribbentrop momentarily slipped into a German accent. “Unt how can you call yourself a proper servant unt not know vhere ze pantry is?”
The old man set the dishes down on the sink counter and waved his hand behind him. “Down that hall.” He rushed away.
With a shrug of his shoulders Ribbentrop resumed his proper British accent he had spent years perfecting. A few steps away was the open door to the pantry. “Here it is, my dear friend.”
Inside they stood in the furthest corner. The man smiled.
“I want to congratulate on your rise in the German government.”
He bowed and clicked his heels again. “Thank you.”
“Our mutual friends think this arrangement can work to everyone’s advantage. To have the ear of the most powerful dictator in the world is a desirable asset, don’t you think?” He did not wait for Ribbentrop’s reply. “My friends think we can share information, carry out certain missions the Third Reich would not necessarily want emblazoned with its imprimatur, if you know what I mean.”
“I think I do.”
“And, of course, the Third Reich has the financial resources to make anything happen. We can make sure they do happen.”
“Gangway, gents,” a charwoman barged between them. “I’ve got to find me mop. Her ladyship just spilt some wine and don’t want her guests to see it.”
“Well, you know Herr Hitler and I share the friendship of Princess Stephanie, and she is very persuasive.”
The charwoman bumped Ribbentrop with her bucket as she left, which made him remember why he hated the common rabble of London so much.
“And she is not receiving funds as regularly from the Austrians as she once was,” the man added.
“Who?” Ribbentrop had lost his train of thought because of the rude interruption of the charwoman.
“Princess Stephanie.”
“Oh, yes. Proceed.”
The short balding man stepped inside the door. “Sorry. Need a fag.” He pulled out a cigarette and began to light it.
“Well, take your fag somewhere else!” Ribbentrop hissed.
“I hate hoity-toity types,” the old man muttered as he walked down the hall.
“We can also get the services of Kiki Preston if we need her,” Ribbentrop offered.
The sandy-haired man shook his head. “Too unreliable. We could probably have Stephanie use her indirectly to incite a scandal of some sort, but Kiki can never know anything about our mutual friends.”
The charwoman appeared in the door. “The missus wants you in the dinin’ room, fellas. Time to eat.”
As they followed her through the kitchen, Ribbentrop whispered to his companion, “Such people. Stupid. Uncomprehending. Inconvenient.”
Anna stopped her husband before they entered the dining room to murmur, “Aren’t they wonderful?”
“Who’s wonderful?”
“The old couple I hired to help with the dinner tonight.”
“The Cockneys? They’re terrible!”
“No! They took charge! Solved every problem before it became a problem! I want to hire them full time!”
“What?” Ribbentrop was horrified. “No! I will not have those low class rabble serving my guests!”
“They won’t serve the meal. They will keep the kitchen and the household organized.” Anna was more subdued now but intensely resolved. “You have always told me I am in charge of the household. And I insist on hiring these people.”

Father’s Day

I think I’ve got this Father’s Day deal figured out.
This last weekend I got a dinner and a movie from my son who has to work next weekend, the actual Father’s Day. He’s a corrections officer at a state facility with a schedule so wacky only a politician could have come up with it. Twelve hour days. Two days on, three days off, three days on, two days off. Basically, if I see him he has the day off. If I don’t he’s working.
He took me to see the movie about how Han Solo met Chewbaca and won the Millennium Falcon in a card game. I know it’s supposed to be a stand-alone, but I think it needs at least one sequel to tie up all the loose ends. Basically I liked it. At least it didn’t end with half the people in the universe disintegrating with a snap of the fingers.
That was on Saturday night. On Sunday night he took me out to dinner at nice family-type restaurant that served roast beef, corn and potatoes wrapped up in tin foil. A little messy but it tasted good. Sometimes my son zones out or says something inappropriate; but hey, like father like son.
Now this is where it gets interesting. My daughter, who lives a thousand miles away with her family, called to say her present might be a little late coming in the mail. Better late than never. She always picks out something delicious to send me. On top of that I might even get a phone from my lovely little granddaughter.
Someone might point out I’m not getting anything more than any other father with two grown children might get, but I see it as making the fun stretch out as long as possible. Being greedy is not a good thing. Being grateful feels much better. Feeling grateful for an extended period of time is wonderful.
I don’t know if there’s a moral in any of this. I’m too busy looking for the mail to arrive. Ever since I was a little boy I’ve always loved looking for the mail to arrive.