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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.

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Thirty-Two


Previously in the novel: Novice 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. Each are on the Tanganyika Express to get their hands on the stolen Crown Jewels.
After her adventure in Tanganyika, Wallis settled back into her usual busy schedule of shopping, lunching and gossiping. On this particular day she planned to paint her nails with an expensive polish called Midnight Lust. Then she was going to curl her hair so she would look her best at Ernest’s regimental dinner. It might be boring as hell but she was intent on being the most glamorous woman there. Besides, Ernest was such a good sport she liked to please him, unlike her first husband Win. Ugh. Wallis was about to finish her left pinky when the telephone range. It was Connie Thaw, wife of Ambassador Benjamin Thaw, one of Ernest’s more interesting friends.
“Wallis darling,” Connie gushed. “You and Ernest must save me this weekend. My sister Thelma, Lady Furness, is hosting a hunting party in honor of the Prince of Wales at her Melton Mowbray estate in Leicestershire. Benjamin’s mum has taken ill and we have to rush to Paris to tend to her. Could you and Ernest take our places at Mowbray?”
Wallis almost dribbled her bottle of Midnight Lust. “Well, we won’t know anyone there. I don’t even know Thelma that personally.”
“I wouldn’t have bothered you but Benjamin’s friend Gerry Greene of the home office recommended you. He said he met you once in Paris.”
Wallis paused to recall her first meeting with MI6 agent Gerry Greene. He was the one who introduced her to this new life of espionage. This weekend must have had something to do with her next assignment. She had no desire to meet the Prince of Wales. His pictures in the papers made him look like such a namby-pamby.
“Well, I suppose it would be a laugh to meet the prince. Of course I’ll have to check with Ernest.”
Ernest was thrilled, as Wallis knew he would be. The weekend was all he could talk about at his regimental dinner.
“I’ve always wanted to meet him,” Ernest declared, almost spilling his champagne. “His pictures in the newspapers make him look like such fun.”
Wallis found comfort in the fact she now had a reason for a quick round of shopping before Saturday. It was, after all, October of 1930, and she had absolutely nothing to wear.
Both packed heavily for the trip and tipped the porters double for taking extra care with their luggage. Once on the train they tried to concentrate on the countryside whizzing by, but the fog was too thick to see anything. Wallis developed a terrible case of the sniffles.
The drive from Mowbray station to Thelma’s place Burrough Court was just as appalling. Wallis decided the low, long brick house was dreary, only partially brightened by the surrounding garden. Once inside the house, Thelma informed them the prince and his entourage were delayed by the fog and suggested they refresh themselves with cocktails in the drawing room, already inhabited by people dressed in beautiful attire, dutifully awaiting the arrival of the royals. Wallis expected to see Gerry Greene in attendance, but he wasn’t there.
Ernest made a valiant attempt to carry on a conversation with the strangers, but Wallis preferred to slouch back in an upholstered chair by the fireplace. She held her cocktail glass to her temple nursing a growing headache. When the hall clock chimed seven, Wallis decided if the prince had not arrived by eight, she would take a hot bath and go to bed.
At seven thirty an automobile engine broke the outside silence as it came to a stop in the front driveway. Everyone stood in attention. Coming through the door was Brig. Gen. Gerald Trotter, Edward, Prince of Wales, and his youngest brother Prince George.
“It’s about bloody damn time,” Wallis muttered to Ernest who elbowed her.
Thelma walked her distinguished guests around the room introducing them. Most of the women curtsied with style and grace but a few embarrassed themselves with awkward genuflections. Wallis was confident. She had practiced her bow on the train until the sniffles set in. She noticed Prince Edward used his left hand to shake hands with the men. She found the affectation wearisome. General Trotter lingered with one older couple while Prince Edward and Prince George made their way to Wallis and Ernest. Finally she found herself face to face, eye to eye, with the Prince of Wales.
My God. He’s shorter than I am.
“Mrs. Simpson, I’ve heard so much about you. I am please we have finally met,” Edward murmured.
She nodded at Prince Edward then turned to Prince George and smiled. “And I can see why the press calls you the handsome brother.”
“He is rather pretty, isn’t he?” Edward agreed.
Wallis noticed George’s eyes sparkled.
“Mrs. Simpson, may I say you are one of the most attractive women I have ever met in my life.” Rapture filled Prince George’s baritone. “There’s something about you that is not like any other woman I have met.”
Ernest laughed from his belly which caused his shoulders to bounce. He grabbed his wife around the waist with a force that was a bit gruffer than his usual nature, Wallis observed.
“Two princes are interested in my wife.” He beamed. “That makes me rather important, doesn’t it?”
My God, I think the silly ass means it! Wallis coughed, turning away from her husband as though to cover her mouth.
“I get confused.” Her brow wrinkled. “Which one becomes king when the old man dies?”
“I do,” George piped up. “If my three older brothers somehow die before me.” He lifted his thumb to his lower lip and licked it. “What do you say? Do you want to take a chance on me and possibly become queen of English and hope for total disaster to wipe out the rest of the house of Windsor?”
“You forget she already has a husband,” the Prince of Wales added without amusement.
“He looks like a sporting chap. I’m sure we could come up with some sort of arrangement.” George winked.
Ernest laughed again. “I am half-American, you know, and we Americans love to strike a good deal.”
“Ernest, this conversation has become quite dreary. I can forgive Prince George because he has been taught he has a right to be naughty, but you would know better.”
Prince Edward took a minor step forward. “How about me? Do you forgive me?”
“There’s nothing to forgive.” Wallis was in full rage and nothing could still her sharp tongue now. “You’ve done nothing but stand around like a bump on a log. You have failed to live up to your legend as a bon vivant, sir.”
He only smiled with royal patience.
“Oh dear,” Ernest said in mock concern. “Is there anything I can do to win back your good graces?”
“Go to our room immediately and draw me a hot bath so I can soak before supper. And in due time I may forgive you.”
Wallis turned to find Thelma so she could tell her to send a servant to her door to announce supper ready. After conferring with Thelma, Wallis chatted with each lady in the room. By the time she climbed the stairs, she found Ernest had drawn her bath and laid out her evening attire.
Slowly her headache eased off as she daydreamed that her eventual husband and spy partner would turn out to be Prince George. His reputation as an international playboy would fit a life of espionage. He could be found in any region of the world at any given time and all he had to say was that he was on holiday.
She dressed, checked her image in the floor length mirror and joined Ernest in the sitting room where he looked lost in pleasant thoughts. The clock on the mantle struck nine p.m. Looking up he smiled.
“Wallis, you are beautiful.” He pecked her cheek. “I hope your headache is better.”
She smiled. “Darling, I feel much better. I hope I have been placed next to the prince.”
“Which one?”
“George, of course.”
As they entered the dining room, she looked around. Prince George was not to be seen. Thelma approached her and took her elbow. “A fellow named Jim something—I think American—hustled his Highness out the door in just a twinkle of an eye.” She nudged Wallis. “It’s no big deal. I had planned on seating you next to the Prince of Wales anyway.”
Wallis felt her headache return.
They were well into their salad course when Edward cleared his throat. “Mrs. Spencer, as an American living in England, do you miss central heating?”
The question caught her in mid-gulp of what was actually a very fine wine. She swallowed hard and put down her glass to stare at him.
“I’m sorry, sir, but you have disappointed me.”
“In what way?” A bemused smile crossed his lips.
“Every American woman who comes to your country is always asked the same question. I had hoped for something more original from the Prince of Wales.”
The rest of the meal went unusually silent. She thought he would have had more pluck than to leave her harsh observation go unchallenged. After dessert, the group adjourned to the drawing salon where the prince chose to play bridge, leaving Wallis with the poker players. When she realized they were betting real amounts of money, she giggled nervously for the remainder of the evening.

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Twenty-Seven


Previously in the novel: Novice mercenary Leon fails in kidnapping the Archbishop of Canterbury because of David, better known as Edward the Prince of Wales. Also in the world of espionage is socialite Wallis Spencer. Wallis, in quick succession, dumps first husband Winfield, kills Uncle Sol, has an affair with German Joachin Von Ribbentrop and marries Ernest.
The November air in Berchtesgaden 1929 was bracing. Joachim Von Ribbentrop stood on the balcony of his hotel taking in the view of the beauty of the Bavarian Mountains covered in snow. Berchtesgaden was on the southern border of Germany and Austria, not far from Munich and the Black Forest. Although the weather and scenery always reinvigorated his spirit, Ribbentrop could not help but think back to his exotic encounter with Wallis Spencer in Paris over a year ago. Wallis expertly removed every layer of clothing from his body but only stripped down to her satin slip. She could do things with her hands and mouth that threw him into a sensual madness.
He read in the newspaper she recently married Ernest Simpson. He hoped she remembered it was his help with finding a lawyer that made her new-found happiness possible. Ribbentrop felt he had to be with her again and give her another white carnation in tribute to their experience.
A knock at the door broke his revelry. A slender young man dressed in a crisp shirt and slacks and a jacket with a swastika on the sleeve, stood attention when Ribbentrop opened the door. He knew he was looking at an emissary from Herr Adolph Hitler, the most powerful politician in Germany.
“Herr Hitler requests your presence at Berghof.”
Ribbentrop smartly clicked his heels, put on his overcoat and followed the young man downstairs to a waiting black limousine. He settled into a comfortable position in the back seat while the brown-shirted boy sat in front with the driver. On the long, winding drive through the mountains, Ribbentrop congratulated himself in his skillful manipulation of his socially influential friends to gain an audience with the man who one day would rule Germany—indeed, all of Europe with an iron hand. His mind, however, could not help but wander back to Wallis. He knew she would be impressed when she learned he was close friends with Adolph Hitler.
When the car made a final turn to reach its mountaintop destination, Ribbentrop was disappointed to see that Berghof was a rather small, unimpressive hunting chalet. He expected Herr Hitler to have more awesome accommodations. The limousine came to a stop in front of the entrance, and a teen-aged girl scurried out, opened his door and curtsied.
“Herr Hitler is waiting for you in parlor,” she said as she escorted him into a plain vestibule, turned right and opened a door to a darkened room.
All the curtains were closed and a movie screen hung on the far wall. Several comfortable chairs were centered in front. A black and white cartoon of a dancing mouse on the deck of a boat played across the screen. A catchy little tune filled the room along with male laughter.
“Herr Von Ribbentrop?” a voice called out.
“Yes, sir?”
“You’re late!”
Ribbentrop thought how he could be late since he could go nowhere until Hitler’s limousine arrived at the hotel.
“Don’t worry. No one can live up to my exacting standards.”
Hitler stood and turned toward Ribbentrop, his face illuminated by the glare of the movie projector, a dancing mouse flitting across his forehead.
“I have heard many good things about you. You are an excellent salesman of a totally useless product—champagne. I admire that. That’s what a good leader is, you know, a salesman.” He patted the armchair next to his. “Come, sit.”
As Ribbentrop sat, Hitler stared at him and raised a knowing eyebrow. “I am sure you are thinking how this man can be the future of Germany and live in such an ordinary house. Well, I am renting it from Herr Wachenfield. I plan to buy it soon and turn it into a show place to rival the grandest castles on the Rhine.” He sat back to continue to watch the cartoon, which played over and over again. “That mouse, he’s very funny. He’s small but he always wins, always. That’s like Germany, you know. It’s small, but it can win, always win, when it has the right man at the helm of the steamboat.” He glanced at his visitor. “Do you think I’m a good steamboat captain?”
“Yes, Herr Hitler.”
“Good. You have skills beneficial to my cause. You are a celebrity among the London social crowd, are you not? You can do much to win them over. They are particularly vulnerable since they already open to the idea of following a supreme leader like a king.” He spat in derision. “That stupid man. I tried to interest the Prince of Wales in our Princess Stephanie. She’s a Jew, but nevertheless beautiful and completely loyal to me.”
“I know Stephanie very well,” Ribbentrop interjected. “She asked to introduce her to the prince.”
“Yes, I know,” Hitler replied with a sly smile. “I know everything.”
“What can I do for you, mein fuhrer?” He swallowed hard.
“Since Stephanie was unable to seduce the prince into being our surrogate,” Hitler explained, “we have to find a way to demoralize the English people to the point of discarding their own government and welcome me as their ruler.”
“How can I do that?”
Hitler leaned in, but first peeked at the screen and smiled at the mouse’s antics. “I love how that little mouse dances. Walt Disney is the only American I have any respect for.” After a pause, he continued, “Help me to steal the crown jewels of England.”
“What?” Ribbentrop blinked.
“This is not a new idea. It was in an English novel. Arthur Conan Doyle. One of those Sherlock Holmes mysterious.” He raised an eyebrow. “You must read British literature, don’t you?”
Ribbentrop blinked again. “I prefer the German classics.”
“Well, of course. But you must open your mind to new ideas, even if they come from the English.”
“Of course, mein fuhrer.”
“Once the English people realize I was able to steal the jewels from the Tower of London, they will see their government is completely impotent, incompetent. Demoralized, they will turn to me to lead them.”
“How can we steal the jewels.” Ribbentrop felt himself getting drawn into Hitler’s vision.
“Out of your many acquaintances in London, surely someone has a connection with a person who works at the Tower of London. Use your influence to have them steal the diamonds.”
Ribbentrop smiled. “I think I know such a woman. A Mrs. Barnes. Her husband is the ambassador to Tanganyika. They are currently in London but will return to Africa within the month. I have had desperate telephone calls from her begging for a rendezvous before she leaves.”
“Does she love you?” Hitler looked up to the projectionist. “That’s enough for today. Come back tomorrow.”
“She loves sex.”
“Are you sure she’s British?”
“Yes. I’ve found it is mostly the men who are the cold fish, especially the rich ones.”
“Continue.” Hitler showed no emotion.
“She talks all the time about her brother-in-law who is the assistant administrator at the Tower of London. She’s having sex with him too and is afraid her husband will find out. Her lover has direct access to the crown jewels. The little idiot doesn’t even understand the importance of what she said.”
“Can you trust her?”
“Of course not. She doesn’t have the sense to be trusted. That’s why I would not tell her who will get the jewels eventually.” Ribbentrop pulled out a cigarette and lit it. He began to relax with the fuhrer “I have an idea. I’ll tell her I have connections to a secret world-wide crime organization which will pay handsomely for the diamonds. They will be able to re-cut them and sell them on the open market. She will receive a handsome payment.”
Hitler’s face clouded in suspicion. “Is there such an organization?”
“Oh.” His eyes widened in surprise. “No. Of course not. I just thought of it. You inspired my imagination.”
“Of course I did.” Hitler leaned back with a smug smile.
“Then I’ll instruct her to take the jewels with her back to Africa for transfer to the, um, organization.” He waved his cigarette about nervously. “Ambassadors’ luggage is rarely inspected by customs agents. Then one of your men can secure the diamonds from her on the train in Tanganyika.”
Hitler grimaced in deep thought then stood. “Good. Do it. You may leave now.”
Ribbentrop stood, clicked his heels and bowed. He found it hard to smile because Hitler stepped closer to examine his face. Perhaps the fuhrer sensed he was lying about the organization.
“I momentarily considered sticking my tongue into the dimple on your chin.” Hitler extended a finger and touched Ribbentrop’s cleft. “But I changed my mind.”

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Twenty-Three


Previously in the novel: A mysterious man in black foils novice mercenary Leon from kidnapping the Archbishop of Canterbury. The man in black turns out to be David, better known as Edward the Prince of Wales. Also in the world of espionage is socialite Wallis Spencer. Wallis, in quick succession, dumps first husband Winfield, kills Uncle Sol and marries Ernest. In the meantime David has an affair with Freda Ward.

In September of 1929, David found himself again handing out rosettes for prize-winning cattle, this time in Leicestershire. As he awarded best in show, the crowd broke out in polite applause. He did not know whether it was for him or the bull. Nevertheless he smiled graciously and nodded until he noticed a lovely woman standing in front who was not clapping. She seemed to be more concerned with adjusting her gloves than according him accolades for attaching a ribbon cluster to the bovine’s harness. Without stopping to speak to the local mayor, David approached her.
“My God, you are as beautiful as a movie star.”
“That’s because I am one.” She retrieved a cigarette from her hand bag. “Do you have a light?”
“Of course,” he replied, pulling out a book of matches. “Tell me about your movie career.”
After a puff, she explained, “I formed my own movie company in 1923 so I could be a star.”
“Impressive.” David smiled with interest. “What were they? Maybe I’ve seen some of them.”
“I doubt it.” She shrugged. “Making movies turned out to be such a bore.”
“What a shame. I hope you didn’t lose much money.”
“Don’t worry about it. Daddy’s rich. He’s American diplomat Harry Morgan.”
“My daddy is rich too.”
“I know. King of England. You’re the Prince of Wales.”
“And if you tell me who you are then introductions will be complete.”
“Thelma Furness, wife of Viscount Marmaduke Furness. That’s why I’m at this dreary country fair. Former wife. The ink just dried on our divorce papers.”
“Then that means you’re free for the weekend.”
Without further encouragement Thelma hopped in David’s Ace roadster and sped off to Fort Belvedere. She commented his car looked just like Victor Bruce’s auto that won the Monte Carlo Rally.
“I’m just dippy for it,” she said.
David shifted into first gear and stirred up a cloud of dust on the country road. He enthusiastically explained the renovations which were underway since his father finally agreed to give it to him.
“You won’t believe what he said when I first asked him for it,” David said with his infamous lopsided grin. “’What could you possibly want that queer old place for? Those damned weekends, I suppose.”
At that moment they turned a corner, and Fort Belvedere appeared with scaffolding half-way around it.
“I’m absolutely dippy for it,” Thelma announced.
“Don’t worry about the workmen,” he confided. “They won’t be back until Monday.
After they parked, David guided her through the front door and gave her a tour of his bedroom which lasted until the next morning. When he awoke, Thelma was gone but he smelled coffee from the kitchen. They settled into the breakfast nook for a small meal Thelma had whipped up. David decided she looked beautiful even with most of her makeup smudged away. He was about to explain his special relationship to Freda when a reflective mirrored light from the woods beyond the lily pond caught his attention.
“You know I’m quite peculiar,” he began, not knowing how to explain why he had a sudden urge to stroll through the grounds.
“Oh, I know all about Freda,” she said as she stood and collected the dishes. “And I know you’re devoted to your gardening. First thing every morning, playing in the dirt. It’s in all the social pages.” Thelma leaned over to kiss him on the lips. “You’ve been royally had, my dear. You’ve been in my sights for years.” She winked. “I love to share.”
When David first went out the door he started straight for the woods but thought better of it. He turned instead for the shed where he grabbed a few tools. He needed to make Thelma think he was going to play in the dirt. Upon arrival among the silvery birches, he recognized one of his main contacts from the MI6 headquarters. David knew this assignment must be of the highest importance.
“At first I didn’t think you saw my signal,” the man said. “Let’s take a few steps back. No need to alarm the young lady.”
“Nothing would alarm that one,” David muttered as he followed the man around one of the larger trees.
“You know about Princess Stephanie?”
“She’s from Austria, isn’t she? Married a prince or something or other and after the divorce she kept the title.”
“Very close. She was born in Vienna to Jewish parents. Her father was a dentist, a lawyer or some such that they had a bit of money but nothing to brag about. She did quite well in ballet school and became renowned for her beauty. She had an affair with Archduke Franz Salvator who impregnated her. This was a problem because he was already married. Stephanie then talked Friedrich Franz von Hohenlohe into thinking the child was his. They were married a few years and divorced. She kept the child and the title of princess.”
“I can get all this information on the cocktail circuit.” David grew impatient. “What does this have to do with me?”
“This is what concerns us. She’s kicked around Europe and most recently Germany where she has become close friends with Adolph Hitler.”
“No one seriously thinks Hitler has any chance of becoming chancellor, do they?” The more he heard, the more David wanted to get on with pruning his roses.
“Everyone is taking Hitler seriously and so should you,” his MI6 contact said in a stern voice. “We have it on good sources that Hitler wants Stephanie’s next husband to be you.”
David laughed out loud. “My God, the man is mad. Why would he want that?”
“He’s gotten the idea you’re warm to the idea of fascism in Great Britain. With an Austrian wife and the English crown, you would welcome an alliance with a Hitler regime.”
“Why would he think that?”
“The cocktail circuit you just mentioned. You’re quite popular with many right-leaning socialites,” he intoned.
“That’s just balderdash. Too much liquor. Too much philandering.”
“Oh, you misunderstand. We don’t disapprove. We want you to take advantage of this misperception to seduce Princess Stephanie. Cultivate her as a source of information in the coming years.”
“So you want me to bed her.” He gazed back at the house. “Well, I hope she’s as beautiful as they say.”

Sins of the Family Chapter Twenty-Nine

AUTHOR’S WORD OF CAUTION: The climactic last chapter of Sins of the Family is graphically violent. If any reader dislikes criminal acts described with stark details, I recommend not reading it.

John burst through the door and turned on the light, revealing Heinrich stretched out on his bed. Drawing himself up to his full height, John put a hand on Randy’s wiry shoulder. Time at last had come to kill Pharaoh and to be freed of all the agonizing passion which confused his mind.
“Give me the knife.”
“I don’t wanna.” Randy jerked his shoulder away.
“Give me the knife.”
“I wanna slit his throat.”
John’s hand went up, his index finger thrusting upward.
“I am Moses! Give me the knife!”
With reluctance Randy handed it over, but his face darkened with growing hatred.
“Pharaoh!” John began to stride toward the bed. “Your hour of judgment has come.” He paused. “Pharaoh. Answer me.”
When no answer came, Mike and Randy loped over and peered around John at Heinrich on his bed, his eyes bulging wide and his hands still clutching at his bosom. His dried lips stuck to his yellowed teeth as his mouth gaped opened.
“He’s dead.” John shook his head in disbelief.
“Why, he’s just an old man.” Mike giggled as he punched Heinrich’s belly with his beefy fist.
“He ain’t no bad guy, like you said.” Randy spat in disgust.
“How dare you deny me my vengeance?” Bewilderment etched John’s tormented features. All this time, all this killing, and Pharaoh was not his to punish. He jumped on the bed and straddled the old man’s body. “How dare you rob me of my mission?”
“Forget it, Moses.” Mike turned away and laughed. “He’s dead.”
“I will not be stopped!” John screamed in hysteria as he held the knife high above his head. Once again, in his mind, he was the naked warrior standing on the stairs’ top step at the trading post, a growing tree limb behind him. He held his knife high then also, as he looked down with contempt on his own father’s flabby body. His father had to be punished for not following Cherokee ways and for persecuting him because he did want to follow the old ways. Now this other fat old man must pay for his sins. With a war whoop, John brought his knife down and slashed into the corpse.
***
Outside, coming down the dark mountain lane lined with antique and craft shops, a police car made its usual late night rounds. The officers slowed to notice the waterwheel lights were still on.
“The last time Mrs. Schmidt left her lights on after eleven was when the old man had his stroke,” one officer said to the other.
“Yeah, we better check this out.”
***
Inside the bedroom, Bob hugged Jill as he watched John over and over again plunge his knife into Heinrich. Blood splattered everywhere, speckling John’s deranged face.
“Hey, stop it.” Randy hunched his shoulders. “It’s just an old man.”
“No.” John shook his head with delirious determination. “I shall end injustice.”
“Hey.” Mike focused on Jill and smiled. “I think I’m gonna get the princess.”
“No, you won’t.” Bob pushed Jill behind him.
Laughing, Mike knocked him to the floor. When Bob tried to rise, Mike pulled back his foot and kicked him hard in the gut, sending him across the room gagging and gasping for air.
“Come on, baby,” Mike murmured as he stepped up to Jill and put his hands on her slender shoulders.
Her face twisted in abhorrence, she knocked his hands off and punched his mouth.
“I like it when they fight back.” Mike smiled.
Bringing her knee into his groin, which doubled him over with a moan, Jill rushed over to Bob who was pulling himself up on his haunches. Before she could help him to his feet, Mike pulled her hair, causing her to fall to the floor. As Bob stood, Mike kicked him in his gut again, sending him back down. Groaning and holding his midsection, he looked across the room to see Randy drag John off the bed.
“Stop it!” Randy said, grabbing the bloodied knife.
“No.” John was dazed.
“Shut up!” Randy thrust the knife into John’s belly. “I’m sick and tired of you telling me what to do!”
He twisted its blade up under John’s rib cage. Bob watched the fury in Randy’s eyes as he glared at the man who had called himself Moses. John’s face hardly changed expression when the knife entered and even appeared relieved as he sank to the floor.
“Stupid Moses,” Randy muttered.
Bob rose with deliberation to his knees again. In front of him he saw Randy kick John’s body. To the side he saw Jill trying to sit up as Mike straddled her, her hands grasping at his face to scratch it. Mike slapped her hard.
“That’s enough fighting.” Mike pulled down his pants and positioned himself between Jill’s legs.
If Bob were going to save their lives he had to do it now. A glint of the knife blade in the ceiling light caught his attention. He needed it to stop Mike from attacking his wife. At one time, the blood dripping from a sharp edge would have triggered cringing and running away, but not now.
“You ain’t so high and mighty now, are you, Moses?” Randy kicked John’s lifeless body again.
His body imbued with total outrage, Bob leaped forward, and with both hands clinched into fists he hit Randy on the nape of his neck, causing the boy to drop the knife as he fell to his knees. Bob grabbed the knife, reached around Randy’s face with one hand, pulling it back, and slashed his throat with the other. As blood spurted out, he looked around the room to see nothing but blood. Heinrich’s abdomen was a puddle of blood. John sprawled in a pool of blood. And as Bob threw Randy’s body to the floor, blood gushed from his throat. With the knife in his hand, he glared at Mike and knew he had to attack him next. What was right or wrong did not matter any more. He had to save Jill’s life. She was worth more than any of the others, including himself.
“Oh, baby, this is gonna be good,” Mike said as he unbuttoned Jill’s blouse, oblivious to the fact his brother had just been murdered. His big hands pawed her.
Bob grabbed Mike’s dirty brown hair and yanked his head back, pulling the knife deep across his throat.
“What the…” His words were lost in gurgling blood spewing from his mouth. Mike flexed his thick shoulder muscles to throw Bob off his back. As he turned he caught sight of his brother’s body lying in a pool of blood.
“Randy?” His voice sounded pitifully sad until it descended into a snarl.
With a bellow he pounced on Bob, heaving him to the floor and straddling his chest. Mike’s hands closed around Bob’s neck.
“You killed my brother!”
Squinting to keep Mike’s blood from dripping into his eyes, Bob secured the knife with both hands and thrust upward with all his strength into the hard hairy belly. As Mike’s grip on his neck tightened, Bob pushed the knife in again and twisted it. Blood gushed from the teen-ager’s mouth onto Bob’s face. Finally Mike’s grasp loosened, his eyes glazed, and a last wheeze escaped his bloodied lips. He collapsed on Bob who rolled him off with a grunt. Bob looked with vacant eyes at Jill who stared back, her fingers absently trying to button her blouse. He became aware of voices in the background.
“Mrs. Schmidt, we saw your lights on and–
“In there. In there,” Greta said with urgency.
“What is it?”
Bob heard steps coming into the room. He turned to see Greta and two policemen, standing in the doorway, their faces aghast at the scene.
“Oh no,” Greta said, her hands going to her cheeks.
“What’s going on here?” one of the officers asked.
Numbly, Bob stood, took a few steps toward them and handed the knife to the policemen.
“I just killed two men.”
Looking down at Jill, he contorted his face in agony and began to cry. She reached up to pull him down to her. Sitting aright she held his sobbing head close to her. Jill’s eyes roamed the room as Bob clutched her waist. Her lips crinkled, and her chest began to heave, and, tears poured down her cheeks. Greta went to them, crouching and putting her strong arms around them.
“My babies, my babies,” she said, kissing their foreheads.

Sins of the Family Chapter Twenty-Eight

Greta sat snoring in her favorite chair as the television blared. Joan entered from the shop and stood at fearful attention.
“Mrs. Schmidt?”
Greta awoke and looked around to see the clerk, pulling her pepper gray hair from her face, standing in the doorway and trembling. Joan was petrified of her which made Greta feel guilty. She should not be so rude her. Greta smiled, trying to make Joan feel at ease.
“Yes?”
“It’s after eleven o’clock,” she replied. “I’ve closed.”
“Good.” Greta stood and stretched in satisfaction. “I’ll turn out the lights on the waterwheel.”
“Mrs. Schmidt?”
“Yes?”
“Is everything all right?” Joan took a deep breath. “I thought I heard loud voices in here earlier this evening.”
“It was just the television.” Her initial reaction was to tell the clerk to mind her own business, but Greta remembered she wanted to be kind so she just laughed and waved her hand. “I play it too loud.”
“Very well,” Joan said. “I’ll lock up.”
“Thank you.”
“Say hello to Mr. Schmidt for me.”
“I will.”
Listening with intent, Greta heard the shop door open and shut. She went to the living room window and turned off the waterwheel lights as she watched Joan get in her car and drive away, not noticing another car parked in the shadows near her living quarters’ door. Shooting sounds and squealing tires drew her attention back to the television set. Her large, boney body eased into the chair, and her muscular, liver-wart-covered arm reached for the candy bowl. Her eyes narrowed as her fingers pushed plastic wrapped pieces around until they came upon her favorite ones. With a sigh of satisfaction, Greta took the plastic wrapper off a candy, put it in her mouth and focused on the television program. Life was going to be better, now she decided to place Heinrich in a nursing home. The past could become the past, and she could look forward to making friends again. No secrets had to be kept. They were all told, and she had survived. All of a sudden her door flew open with a bang. She shuddered as she gulped down the candy and stood. Before her were Jill, keys in hand, and Bob. They were not smiling.
“Jill?”
Pushing between them were two boys and a wan looking middle-aged man who had anger and hatred in his eyes.
“Who is this?” the man demanded.
“Oh, Grandma!” Jill ran to Greta and hugged her.
“Ah, Pharaoh’s wife.” He lifted his head and smiled.
Jill hugged her again and leaned into her ear.
“Turn on the waterwheel lights.”
“Where is Pharaoh?”
“He means your husband, Mrs. Schmidt.” Bob stared at the floor.
Dumbfounded, Greta looked at Jill, whose eyes were filled with tears, then at Bob, whose eyes were filled with guilt, and last of all at the man, whose eyes blazed with fury. At one time she would not have revealed where Heinrich was, but she did not care about him anymore. She cared for Jill and Bob. She did not want them to be harmed. And she cared for herself. She did not want to be punished for something Heinrich did. She pointed toward the hall.
“The first bedroom on the left.”
“Finally.” The man breathed with intensity. “Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord.”
“Yeah.” The bigger boy’s head bobbed up and down like an excited puppy. “We’re gonna get Pharaoh.”
“I wanna slit his throat.” The smaller one wielded a knife.
“You come with us.” The man shoved Bob and Jill toward the hall.
They must be insane. Poor Jill and Bob. The intruders disappeared as she circled around the room to the light switch. As her hand reached up, the man came back.
“You, old woman, don’t leave this room.”
“Yes.”
He disappeared down the dark hall, and Greta flipped on the waterwheel lights.
***
John burst through the door and turned on the light, revealing Heinrich stretched out on his bed. Drawing himself up to his full height, John put a hand on Randy’s wiry shoulder. Time at last had come to kill Pharaoh and to be freed of all the agonizing passion which confused his mind.
“Give me the knife.”
“I don’t wanna.” Randy jerked his shoulder away.
“Give me the knife.”
“I wanna slit his throat.”
John’s hand went up, his index finger thrusting upward.
“I am Moses! Give me the knife!”
With reluctance Randy handed it over, but his face darkened with growing hatred.
“Pharaoh!” John began to stride toward the bed. “Your hour of judgment has come.” He paused. “Pharaoh. Answer me.”
When no answer came, Mike and Randy loped over and peered around John at Heinrich on his bed, his eyes bulging wide and his hands still clutching at his bosom. His dried lips stuck to his yellowed teeth as his mouth gaped opened.
“He’s dead.” John shook his head in disbelief.
“Why, he’s just an old man.” Mike giggled as he punched Heinrich’s belly with his beefy fist.
“He ain’t no bad guy, like you said.” Randy spat in disgust.
“How dare you deny me my vengeance?” Bewilderment etched John’s tormented features. All this time, all this killing, and Pharaoh was not his to punish. He jumped on the bed and straddled the old man’s body. “How dare you rob me of my retribution?”
“Forget it, Moses.” Mike turned away and laughed. “He’s dead.”
“I will not be stopped!” John screamed in hysteria as he held the knife high above his head. Once again, in his mind, he was the naked warrior standing on the stairs’ top step at the trading post, a growing tree limb behind him. He held his knife high then also, as he looked down with contempt on his own father’s flabby body. His father had to be punished for not following Cherokee ways and for persecuting him because he did want to follow the old ways. Now this other fat old man must pay for his sins. With a war whoop, John brought his knife down and slashed into the corpse.

Sins of the Family Chapter Twenty-Six

“I hate Moses,” Randy muttered, disturbed by his unsuccessful search for that man and woman. Why did we want to find them? He was fast losing hatred for this Pharaoh too. Slitting his gut was not important to him any longer. What was important to Randy was his warm, comfortable bed he had left behind at the hospital. He missed gobbling good food as much as he wanted and drinking soda pop whenever he wanted. He longed to hoe in the garden, to spray the plants with water again and to feel proud when he made flowers grow. Most of all, he missed his television programs, cartoons, football games and cops shooting bad guys. He wanted to talk to that doctor again, even if he did get too nosy sometimes. The doctor would let him complain about his mother all he wanted without accusing him of being bad for not loving her. But he could never talk to the doctor again because that stupid Moses made him slit his throat. People at the hospital would not give him his bed back or let him work in the garden again after killing the doctor.
“I hate Moses.”
Something slinked across his mud-spattered tennis shoes, causing Randy to jump, grab his knife and throw it down at the retreating snake. Spitting in disgust for missing his target, he bent over to pick up the knife stuck in moist ground.
***
Jill clinched her jaw as she watched the boy crouch in front of her. When she recognized him to be the thin, angry one, she closed her eyes and prayed he would not see her. Hearing the knife’s being withdrawn from the earth and the boy’s footsteps as they faded away, she thought she was safe for now. That was all she could expect. Again her thoughts went to her grandmother, imagining how she must have sighed, “Safe for now,” every time the topic of Hitler or Nazis was dropped in a conversation. She must have been relieved every time a former member of the Third Reich was caught in another part of the United States and sent back to Germany, thinking at least it was not Heinrich this time. Safe for now. If she survived this night, Jill promised herself she would give her grandmother a big hug and say, “Now, I understand.”
***
Bob strained to look at the face of his watch. It had been some time since he last heard John or the boys. An hour might have passed, but he realized he could not have been under the bush that long. Yet he could not shake the small hope lingering inside him, that the three escaped mental patients had given up and left. He wanted to venture out to check, but he remembered his own instruction to Jill to stay hidden until dawn. Bob told himself not to blow it, not like he had blown so many other things in his life.
A voice broke the silence.
“Bob Meade. We have your wife.”
His eyes widened.
“It’s foolish to resist. If you want to see her alive, come back to the parking lot immediately.”
“Oh, no,” Bob whispered.
“Bob Meade. Caleb has already slit the doctor’s throat. You don’t want the same fate for your wife.”
He sighed and decided he could not take the chance of having Jill’s lifeless body being rolled down the embankment. He barely survived guilt of pulling away from his dying mother. Knowing his cowardice caused his wife’s throat to be slashed would destroy him. Bob decided it was better for them to die together than for him to hate himself the rest of his life for allowing Jill to be murdered.
“Don’t hurt her,” he yelled as he stepped from behind the prickly bush. He shuffled his feet in defeat toward the embankment, pausing for a moment to wince again at the sight of Harold’s bloodied body before climbing up toward the paved path to the parking lot.
***
Jill furrowed her brow as she heard Bob call out. She was still secure under her rock. Didn’t Bob realize John was lying? Of course not, remembering Bob’s greatest fault was his conviction that everyone was as honest as he was. She loved that shortcoming in him, but at this moment, she feared it might kill them both.
“Here goes nothing,” she said, crawling from beneath her rock in hopes of catching Bob before he climbed the embankment.
***
As Bob reached the top he saw the shadowy figures in front of him. He began counting. One, two, three…
“Bob! No!” Jill shouted.
His head jerked away to look down the slope just as Jill emerged from the woods. He turned back to the three escapees. Mike’s brawny shoulders shook as he laughed. John smiled with smugness, tapping Randy and nodding toward Jill. The boy scrambled down to grab her.
“How’d you know they’d come out?” Mike continued laughing.
“I am Moses.”