Tag Archives: Nazis

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.”

Sins of the Family Chapter Twenty-Five

Jill spotted a large rock overhang with an opening just large enough for her to scoot underneath it. Looking around, she fell to the moist ground and slid through the cavity. For the first time in several hours Jill had a quiet moment to consider what was happening. The dread her father had experienced, and she had perceived in him all her life, had become a palpable actuality to her. Now she understood why her mother drank too much. She knew why her grandmother had that startled look in her eyes when anyone ever mentioned World War Two, Adolph Hitler or Nazis. The line from Shakespeare’s Macbeth flitted through her mind, “Blood will have blood,” and made her shiver. Her family’s worst nightmare was coming true, and Jill was in the middle of it.
***
After several deep breaths, Bob was able to bring his pulse rate under control; his temples no longer throbbed with rushing blood. He became aware that one leg was higher than the other. Looking down, he saw his foot on a large, rough limb. Bob picked it up, finding the wood saturated but solid and hard, and a credible weapon. He had never hit another person in his entire life, but he steeled himself to the prospect he might have to strike out tonight to save himself and his wife.
Rustling leaves caused Bob to jump. Focusing his eyes through a prickly bush, he saw John coming toward him. The Cherokee paused in front of his hiding place to look around in frustration. Bob stared into the back of John’s head and thought of all the reasons why he should hate him. For the first time in his life, he found happiness and peace in his love for Jill, and John, in his insane attempt to lash out at life’s cruelties which afflict everyone, destroyed his own personal Eden. Even if he and Jill survived, they would never regain their innocent belief that their love would shield them from anything the world could throw at them. That was just cause for a hard-edged hatred capable of crashing the branch into John. Bob’s fingers tightened around the wet wood.
John’s body tensed, his head turning to the left. Bob saw feral, animal instincts in his eyes and heard his quickened breath. Bob was so close; all he had to do was bring his club down with all his might and smash into John’s skull, killing him straight away. Without their leader, the boys would scatter, and Bob’s nightmare would be over. Again John tensed, took a step forward but stopped. Bob sensed his opportunity to take back his life was passing fast. For terrorizing Jill, John deserved to die. For his insanity, he deserved to be put out of his misery. Either born of hatred or mercy, Bob’s urge to murder John became a life force into itself. Without warning, John turned and darted through blackness to the left. Bob’s heart sank. His chance had passed to prove what most people would describe as his manhood. Once again inconsequential frightened Bob Meade bumped into the intravenous feeding line, ripped a needle from his mother’s frail arm and shrank from her plea for one last embrace. He hated himself.
***
Mike continued to stumble through underbrush, becoming more frustrated by his helplessness in finding his brother, the man who called himself Moses or that other man or woman. Several minutes passed since he last heard from Randy or John. Maybe they were all lost, never to be found again. Mike did not want to be bothered with finding the skinny man or someone called Pharaoh. He wanted to bump into that princess. Thinking about her made him tingle with excitement. A branch smacked him under his cheek, stinging his skin. He brushed aside the limb, touched his tender face with his beefy hand and held his fingers close to his eyes to see blood. Mike winced, trying not to whimper at the pain. Randy laughed at him when he cried at being hurt, and he did not want Randy to catch him crying. He narrowed his eyes and clinched his teeth.
“Stupid princess. She’s gonna pay for this.”
***
Jill stifled a gasp as a snake slithered past her nose. Hearing a crunch of leaves on the forest floor, she held her breath. Her eyes focused on a pair of worn tennis shoes in front of the rock overhang. She knew it had to be one of the boys by the impatient shifting of feet, but she could not decide which brother she feared most it would be. The smaller, more intense one scared her because of his explosive anger, and she feared the larger, more muscular teen because of the lust in his eyes. Discovery by either would be a descent into hell.

Sins of the Family Chapter Twenty-Four

Only one vision flashed into Heinrich’s mind, Hans Moeller’s cabin in the Bavarian forest. Once again he was in that room, but this time he was tied to a chair and Greta held the knife which came slashing down into his abdomen. For once in his life, Heinrich comprehended how it felt to be the object of brutality. But even at this point of understanding, he did not atone for his cruelty. Heinrich only pitied himself because Rudolph was the one who had made him feel small. That was why it was so easy for him to torture Hans. As tears streamed down Heinrich’s cheeks, his chest constricted. It was as though Greta, in addition to slapping and kicking him, also were sitting on him. And Rudolph was standing there, smirking at him. Quivering, his hand reached up to his flabby breast.
“Greta.” This time it was a call for help, for compassion. Her laughter reached all the way from their bedroom, and it was not laughter he was used to hearing. Her voice was hard-edged and triumphant like his own laugh when he stood over Hans Moeller’s limp, bleeding body.
“Greta. I’m hurting.” Again he heard the gusty laughter of the victor. No mere female joke on the television could evoke such a full, satisfied sound. Heinrich knew from personal experience. The pain in his chest intensified. His fingernails clawed into his sallow flesh, trying to tear out the offending member of his body. One last time he pleaded, but his voice was only just a whisper.
“Greta.”
***
Randy stood, wiped the bloody knife on his pants and put it away. John ran to join him, stopping short when he saw Harold’s body on the pavement and his blood trickling down the road.
“You fool! I told you not to let him escape, not kill him.”
“He kicked me in the face.”
“He was fighting for his life. You would have done the same.”
“We didn’t need him.”
“He was a good man.” John tried to look away but was transfixed by the blood. “He didn’t deserve to die like that.”
“He was a liar, like all other bad people in the world.”
John slapped Randy full across his face. Randy’s eyes widened with surprise. John slapped him again, even harder. His face reddened in rage borne in frustration. Randy’s impudence and stupidity drove him mad. John could not take the boy’s insubordination any longer.
“I am Moses!” John was hysterical. Spittle flew from his mouth onto Randy’s cheeks. “I decide who lives and dies! You are a follower! I am Moses!”
Mike joined them. His mouth fell open when he saw the doctor’s body on the highway.
“Okay, okay.” Randy looked down and shuffled his feet. “Stop yelling at me.”
“Hey, you killed him,” Mike said, examining Harold’s body. He laughed. “He don’t look so smart now, does he?”
In the distance a car motor’s humming became louder, and headlights flickered across the hills. John turned in that direction.
“A car’s coming.”
“Hey, let’s hide in bushes and watch the car run over his body.” Mike nudged his brother. “I bet it’d make it jump real funny.”
“That would make the car stop,” John said. “We don’t need to involve any more people.”
“We gotta get rid of the body,” Randy said.
“That ain’t no problem at all.” Mike laughed as he bent down to throw Harold’s corpse over his shoulder. He headed for the stone terrace followed by John and his brother.
***
At the bottom of the embankment, hidden by underbrush, Bob and Jill stood and examined themselves for broken bones and scrapes.
“Are you all right?” Bob panted as he put his arm around Jill.
“I think so.” She leaned into him and trembled.
“It’ll be better if we separate.” Bob looked around.
“No.”
Before Bob could reply, a thumping noise and soft tumbling drew their attention upward.
“What was that?” Jill said.
“I don’t know.” He directed his gaze back to her. “You can hide easier without me around.”
“I don’t want to lose you.” She hugged him around his waist.
Harold’s bloodied body crashed through underbrush and came to rest at their feet, his blank eyes staring at them and his throat open with blood coagulating and turning brown. Jill began to scream, but Bob laid his fingers over her lips. After they had a moment to compose their emotions, Bob pushed her away from the corpse.
“Find a crevice, a cave, anything and stay there until morning.”
“What are you going to do?”
“The same thing.”
“I don’t like it.” She shook her head.
“I don’t like the alternative,” he replied, nodding at Harold’s body.
“All right,” she conceded.
“And don’t come out until morning—no matter what you hear.”
“Don’t say that. It scares me.”
“Go,” Bob whispered. “Now. Quick.”
“I love you.” Running back for another hug, Jill grabbed him.
“I love you.” He kissed her with urgency. “Now go.”
Running a few feet, Jill turned to look back. Bob motioned her on, and she vanished in dark brush. With one last swift fleeting look around, he bolted into shadows of rhododendron and cedar trees. Musky stench of decomposed leaves and animal urine filled his nostrils. He tried not to think of smells from the hospital when his mother died. At least it was not quiet, as he listened to deafening song of crickets.
***
Peering into the darkness of the mountain trees, Mike laughed again.
“Did you see how funny he bounced down the hill?”
“Oh, shut up.” Randy shoved him.
“We’ve got to find the others,” John said.
“You shoulda never let them out of the car,” Randy groused.
“Shut up!” John demanded.
Randy glared at him.
“What are you gonna do, Moses?” Mike asked with eagerness.
“There are three of us and only two of them,” John replied in an even tone, regaining his composure. “They can’t have gone too far.”
“So we have to go down there?” Mike peered down the embankment.
“Yes.”
The boys jumped off the asphalt pavement and easily kept their balance as they scampered down the steep ridge. John tentatively followed them. When he arrived at the bottom, John was greeted by a broad grin on Mike’s face and a look of contempt in Randy’s eyes. He did not care for the apparent degeneration of their deference for Moses.
“That way.” John took Mike by his broad shoulders and jerked him to one direction and pushed. When he turned he saw Randy already going in the opposite direction.
“You don’t have to push me around,” he muttered.
John sucked in air and plunged straight ahead. The couple must be caught and forced to lead them to Pharaoh. Once the boys saw how he conquered Pharaoh they would respect him again.
***
Leaves and twigs crackled, causing Bob to stop and lean in the direction of the noise. He understood every fiber of muscle in his body and every rational thought in his brain was required to survive. Sucking in his gut, Bob slid behind a large prickly bush. When he was a child, he knew his father would not have thought he could handle such an ordeal. Maybe he would have more confidence in him now. Bob shook his head, telling himself it made no difference whether his father thought he could survive. All that mattered was surviving.
***
John looked into shadows, listening for some rustling or snapping which his ears could not divine. He cursed his father under his breath for not taking him into forests and mountains when he was a child. He cursed him for not teaching him Cherokee ways, how to track, how to catch prey, how to survive. His father was too preoccupied with dancing for tourists, earning their paltry coins, to raise John to be a proper warrior. If his father had trained him instead of beating him, John now could find his quarry quickly and continue on his mission to find and kill Pharaoh. Pharaoh. He thought of what Harold had said to him about his father being Pharaoh and not some old German man. Maybe he was right. Maybe his father was Pharaoh. John squared his jaw. But that old German was terrible also. He must complete his mission to kill him and then return home to slit his father’s throat, the true Pharaoh.
***
Mike thrashed about in shadowy undergrowth, uncertainty etched on his forehead. Hunting down a mysterious bad guy was no longer exciting. Randy was furious with John or Moses or whatever his name was. Mike always became frightened when people around him squabbled. The sweet oblivion of his beer stupor wore thin, making him thirst for more. He did not want to kill anyone. That was too much work. People looked silly when they had spit running down their chins or blood spurting from their guts, but it was more fun to have another beer.

Sins of the Family Chapter Twenty-Three

I gotta go.” Mike shifted with discomfort in the back seat, pressing against Bob and Jill. He belched.
“Me too.” Randy’s dull eyes glanced away from the yellow line down the middle of the highway through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Harold watched John’s shoulders tense. Stopping at the request of the brothers must be a frustration. Perhaps he would be able to use this wedge to tear them apart before something else terrible happened.
“Later. We must find Pharaoh,” John said.
“If we don’t stop I’m gonna go all over myself.” Mike’s face twisted into a childish pout.
Hunching his shoulders and pulling his legs up, Randy glared at John.
“It’s mean not letting us go.”
As the car rounded a corner, its headlights shone on the empty parking lot of the New Found Gap overlook which straddled the border between Tennessee and North Carolina.
“I gotta go,” Mike said again.
“Very well.” Sighing in resignation, John pulled into the parking lot. “Rest rooms are in a building down that path on the left.”
“Oh boy.” Mike laughed as he tumbled out of the car, followed by Randy. In a few moments they returned. “The door’s locked.”
“Go behind the building,” John said, leaning his head out the window.
Harold eyed John, wondering what he could say to make him return to the hospital.
“You look tired.”
“Why did you say that?”
“Because I care about you.”
“No one cares about Moses but his own people.” He gazed at a large stone terrace overlook with a plaque commemorating its dedication by Franklin D. Roosevelt back in the nineteen forties.
“And God?”
“Of course. Yo He Wa.”
“But Yo He Wa is god of Cherokee. Yahweh is God of Moses.”
“You can’t fool me by playing word games.” He shook his head.
“You really want your father to care about you.”
John ignored him.
“If you let me take you back to the hospital, I can help you with your feelings about your father.” After an extended silence, Harold glanced in the back seat at Bob and Jill, deciding it was time to stop reasoning with John and instead concentrate on escape. He never lost hope with a patient before, but John transcended his role of pitiful victim of childhood head trauma and of unstable parents to a new identity of crazed messiah, bent on destroying anyone who crossed his path. In this hour of darkness and isolation, escape was his only answer.
“May we stretch our legs?” he asked.
“Wait until Joshua and Caleb return,” John replied, still not turning his head to look at Harold.
A few minutes later Mike and Randy, laughing and punching each other, ran up the asphalt path toward the parking lot.
“You want to stretch your legs too, don’t you?” Harold looked into the back seat, peering into Bob’s eyes.
“Yeah. Sure.” Bob looked at Jill. “You want to stretch your legs?”
She squinted in bemusement and then nodded.
“Yes, I need to walk.”
Harold opened the door and slid out as the brothers, still trying to zip their pants, bounced up.
“You gotta go, too?” Mike said with his usual open, smiling face.
“No.” John leaned over to look out the door. “The doctor wanted to stretch his legs.”
“Oh yeah?” Randy stared at Harold.
“Yes,” Jill added, stepping from the back seat. “We’ve been on the road a long time.”
Harold surveyed the group before him, an innocent couple and three escaped mental patients, all thrown together because of his incompetence. He could not shake the words from his father’s lips that night many years ago in his Long Island home.
“Do as you wish. You always have. But mind you, one day you’ll make a fatal mistake in a diagnosis, and you’ll remember what I told you this night.”
His memory was as sharp as that crystal shard which pierced his finger. The red of the blood drop glistening in the fireplace blaze and the ice blue of his father’s disapproving disdainful eyes crowded rational thought from his mind. His thoughts compelled Harold to throw himself against Randy, who fell into Mike, crashing them into the car’s fender.
“Get out of here!” he ordered Bob and Jill.
They stood there frozen in shock, as though they had become inured to the violence they had witnessed in the last few hours.
“Run!”
Bob grabbed Jill’s hand and ran down the asphalt path to the restrooms and threw her down the gentle slope down into trees and underbrush, following her as she tumbled through the shadows. John scooted across the seat and out the passenger door.
“After them!”
Harold stumbled to his feet and turned to shove Randy, who sprang like a young panther, back into the larger, leonine Mike. Harold sprinted out of the parking lot and spotted flickering headlights rounding the knoll from the North Carolina side of the mountain and scurried for the highway.
“I hate him,” Randy muttered as he tried to untangle himself from his brother’s flailing arms and legs.
“Get up!” John kicked both teen-agers. “Don’t let him escape!”
Wildly waving his arms, Harold situated himself in the middle of the New Found Gap road, but the approaching automobile veered off around him and plunged into the darkness of the twists of the mountain highway, winding its way to Gatlinburg. Before he could move again, he sensed his legs being pulled out from under him, his face smashing the cold hard asphalt tasting the briny blood gushing from his ruptured lip.
“Gotcha,” Randy said.
“It’s useless to fight us, doctor.” John huffed as he caught up with them.
Rolling over, Harold thrust his foot into Randy’s head, bloodying his nose. As the boy squealed in pain and grabbed his face, Harold jumped up, pushed John back into Mike, who had at last arrived, and turned to dash in desperation after the vanishing red taillights. Perhaps, Harold told himself, if he ran fast enough he could lose himself in the mountain’s shadows.
Randy struggled to his feet, wiping blood on his shirt, and made another flying leap at Harold, this time landing on his shoulders, dragging him down. His boney tailbone jabbing into the doctor’s lower back, Randy reached over the smooth top of Harold’s shaved head, stuck two fingers into his nostrils and violently yanked backwards, exposing his neck. With his free hand, Randy pulled out the hunting knife and with a swift motion slashed Harold’s throat.
Struggling against Randy’s grip, Harold could only burble before his body wilted, his consciousness going blank, no longer haunted by the visions of his father’s ice cold, disapproving eyes.