Tag Archives: spy novel

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Thirty-Nine

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.
A cloud hung over Leon’s hacienda on Eleuthura even though the Bahamian sky was clear and the sun was relentless in its heat. Inside, his mother Dotty was about to die. When he returned from his assignment in New York a year ago, she complained her left breast had development a knot under the nipple and it hurt. When Leon insisted she go to the hospital in Freeport, Dotty refused, saying it would cost too much. Now her breast was black and shriveled, her body was cadaverous and her eyes hollow.
Jessamine, as a good dutiful daughter-in-law, wiped her brow with a cold, wet cloth. Sidney, now eight years old, held his father’s hand and stared solemnly at his grandmother. Leon knew this day would come when she refused to go to the hospital. He understood she would die the way she had lived, and she had lived a long, satisfying life.
“Sidney, go say good-bye to Granny Dotty,” he said in a muted tone.
“Yes, father.”
Sidney walked to the other side of the bed, stroked her hair and whispered, “Don’t worry, Granny Dotty, we will be together again someday. And you can introduce me to Grandpa Jed.”
Dotty waved for him to bend over and cradled his head in her skeletal arms. “You are a good boy,” she whispered. “Be like your father, and I will smile down on you.”
“Yes, ma’am.”
She let go of him and turned to smile at Jessamine. “Thank you for being so good to my son, for being a good mother to my grandson.” Dotty reached for her hands and held them. “I leave them in your care.”
Tears streamed down Jessamine’s cheeks. Dotty took the cloth from her hands and wiped it across Jessamine’s face. She looked up at her son.
“I want to lie in my garden.”
“Mother, the sun is bright today. It is too hot.”
“Yes, it will be warm, but only for a little time longer.” She smiled.
Leon leaned down to pick her up. She seemed so light.
“Sidney, bring her pillow. Jessamine, bring the quilt.”
They both nodded and followed him down the stairs. Dotty pointed to the small grove of orange trees by the gate to the street, and Jessamine hurriedly laid the quilt in their shade. Leon arranged her on the quilt as Sidney slid the pillow under her head. She nodded at Jessamine and Sidney.
“I want to spend my last moments alone with my son.” The words barely made it past her withered lips.
After mother and son went back upstairs, Dotty patted the ground next to her. Leon sat cross-legged and kissed his mother moist forehead.
“I want you to know that I am proud of you.” Her voice grew weaker. “I know you have done terrible things to provide for your family—“
“Oh, no, mother,” he interrupted her in a kind tone. “Nothing terrible. I travel buying and selling…spices and tea.”
“No one could make enough money selling spices and tea to afford this house and to buy fine clothes for your family. You make money by killing people.”
He smiled. “Now what makes you think that?”
“I see it in your eyes.”
Leon looked down and tried to reply, but nothing came out.
“I am proud of you.” Her faded voice was firm. “What did your father always say to you?”
“Do anything you have to do to keep your family’s bellies full.”
“And you have done that.”
Leon looked up at the hacienda, his eyes filled with tears. “Oh, mama, what secrets I have to keep. I can tell no one what I have done. What I will do again.”
“Then tell me, for I will be dead soon, and your secrets will be safe.”
“I killed two men when I was sixteen, in this house, and then I made love to the woman who lived here. She told me of this organization—I don’t know the name, just the organization—where I would be paid big money for killing people, for stealing things, for seducing women. Oh, mama, don’t hate me.”
“Keep talking. Tell me all. My time is coming soon.”
“Messages are left for me in the pot outside the gate. I then go to the casino in Nassau where I get details. It is the same person every time. A blonde card dealer. She is beautiful. I have wanted her. She gives me a location, and at that place another person gives me more instructions. Sometimes I don’t know exactly what I am what to do until moment I have to do it. Another person pays me later. Unless the client dies before the organization can get the money from them. I have no idea who the leader of the organization is. It could be anyone in the world.” He paused to swallow.
“Continue. Quickly.”
“Sometimes I have to fight good people. Agents from the British Empire, America. I’ve seen this American woman several times. I saved her life. I don’t know who she is. I don’t know who any of them are. Except one from England. You won’t believe who he is.”
Dotty took his hand, a rattle emitting from deep in her chest.
“The Prince of Wales,” he shared.
Her hand fell away. Leon’s beloved mother was dead. He stood, walked to the gate and opened it. He wanted his tears to dry before he told his family she was gone. He looked down the sandy path and saw Pooka running away.

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Thirty-Eight

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 and Wallis are told to kill American millionaire James Donohue, but Donohue’s son Jimmy beats them to it.
David sat on the terrace enjoying the autumn colors in his garden at Fort Belvedere as he had his coffee and toast. He noticed an item in the London Times about the death of James Donohue, playboy husband of Woolworth heiress Jessie Donohue. Sources said the cause of death had yet to be determined but it was suspected to be an ear infection or an accidental overdose of bichloride mercury. The funeral, the Times reported, was one of the largest in Manhattan in years.
Accidental overdose? How could you accidentally overdose on a medication that’s supposed to be applied directly to the skin? Being considered a bon vivant of international fame, David was familiar with the curative powers of the drug. Oh well. At least we don’t have to bother with a trip to America anytime soon.
The butler stood in the door to the terrace and coughed, interrupting David’s thought.
“General Trotter is here, sir.”
“Oh, send him out. And prepare him a cup of coffee.”
“Yes, sir.”
Soon David and Trotter settled into a nice conversation about how the garden was progressing. The swimming pool had been installed, though at this time of year the temperature prevented it from being used on a regular basis. Once they were sure the servants had gone on about their business, Trotter scooted his chair closer to the prince.
“I assume you read the story in the Times,” he whispered.
“Indeed. Either an ear infection or an overdose of a syphilis salve. Quite sad.”
“Yes, quite.” The general sipped his coffee. “Our sources say the organization had a hand in it.”
The organization?” David arched an eyebrow. “Evidently he had inconvenienced more than the House of Windsor.”
“Quite.” Trotter looked at David’s plate. “Do you think I could get some toast? My wife burnt mine this morning so I begged off. Now I’ve starving.”
“Of course.” David rang a bell. The butler appeared at the door. “The general wants some toast. Be generous. And take care not to burn it.”
After the butler disappeared Trotter leaned in again. “By the way, good job in Argentina. George now seem amenable to marriage. We just have to find the right woman for him.”
David cleared his throat. “Has Wallis had any missions lately?”
“You know I can’t tell you that.” The general cocked his head. “And why would you care?”
“Oh, I don’t.” David looked up. “Ah. Here comes your toast. Would you like blackberry jam? Picked from my own garden.”
“Clotted cream.”
The butler placed the plate of warm toast in front of Trotter and moved the small pot of clotted cream to his side. With a bow, he left the men alone.
“The main purpose of this visit is to put you on notice that another attempt might be made to embroil George in new controversy as soon as the news gets out he is about to propose marriage. Frankly, we can’t trust the boy not to muck it up again.” He bit into his toast. “We also think the organization is behind this whole ugly sex and drugs state of affairs.”
“Bad business this. George is such a good man, really. He has potential. He and I have always been chummier than my other brothers.”
“So you have a vested interest in this mission. Good.” After another sip of coffee, he added, “And MI6 has decided it’s time for the next step to bring you and Wallis together as a team. Plan one of your weekends here at the fort. Invite the usual crowd and include the Simpsons, both of them. Sometime during the party you must kiss Wallis on the lips in front of everyone.”
David scheduled the gathering for the last weekend in January of 1932. He’d leave the planning to Thelma. She’s such a good egg to put up with me. Oh well, she made the decision not to marry me years ago. She usually made out the guest lists for such social occasions. He would think of some way of casually suggesting the Simpsons. He was somewhat eager, and he didn’t know why.
The last Friday night in January finally arrived, and all of their guests, including Connie and Ben Thaw, had arrived, except for the Simpsons. David stood in the foyer waiting their arrival. As the hour grew late, he smoothed out his kilt and looked into the octagonal parlor where the others had settled into card games and putting together jigsaw puzzles. David jumped a bit when the butler opened the door and invited the Simpsons in.
Servants took their luggage upstairs, and David escorted the Simpsons into the parlor, a pine paneled room with yellow velvet curtains.
“Yellow velvet? My, how brave you are.” Wallis laughed and walked over to Thelma for a hug and kiss.
“Isn’t she a scream?” Ernest said with a laugh.
“Yes, hysterical.” David crossed to Wallis and took her elbow to guide her to another table. “Please, I’ve saved you a spot at the poker table. I’ll sit next to you to help.”
As she sat, she smiled. “Oh yes, the last time we met was at a party at Thelma’s place in town. I was quite dreadful at cards, wasn’t I?”
When the dealer dealt the next hand, David stood and leaned over Wallis’ shoulder, his cheek grazing hers.
“Oh yes, this is a very good hand. I suggest—“
“Let me guess,” she interrupted him and within a couple of rounds she had won the pot. “Surprise. I’ve been practicing.”
“So you have.” David drifted over to a jigsaw table and sat.
In a few minutes Thelma went to the Victrola and put on a record of Tea for Two. She tapped on David’s shoulder and soon they were dancing in the middle of the room. Connie Thaw was the first to cut in to dance with the prince. Every woman had their turn except Wallis, still seated at the poker table. David grabbed her hand and twirled her to the middle of the room. He snuggled her neck.
“MI6 says I need to make my first advance on you tonight. Get ready to be kissed.”
“If MI6 orders it,” she whispered back. “Oh well, for King and Country.”
David stopped in the middle of the room, in sight of all the guests, and impressed a long kiss on Wallis’s lips, like a scene out of a silent movie. Among all the subdued gasps, he was sure he heard a man giggle.
The next morning his guests slept in per his instructions, but he arose early, put on his work clothes topped with a baggy sweater and attacked encroaching vines in his garden. He kept alert to anyone coming out on the terrace. Eventually, the Simpsons appeared carrying their cups of coffee. David walked over to them.
“I’m waging war on the laurel. It will absolutely triumph over the garden if I let it.” He paused to smile at Ernest. “Would you like to join me?”
He watched as a big smile spread across the face of Wallis’ husband.
“Why, it would be an honor, your highness.”
“Well, go up and get a heavy sweater. It’s cold out here.”
“Yes, sir!” Ernest ran inside like a giddy school boy.
Wallis looked at David in askance. “What are you going to do? Ask his permission?”
“Yes, I think I will. It would be the proper approach. Don’t you think he’ll approve?”
“Of course he will. If you’re not careful, he’ll send me to your bedroom tonight.”
Within half an hour, David and Ernest were hacking away at the weeds.
“You have an extremely attractive wife, Mr. Simpson.”
“Oh. Call me Ernest, sir. And yes, Wallis is lovely and vivacious.”
“I want to have an affair with her.” David grinned. “Would you mind? It’s a bit like cutting in at a dance.”
“Of course! I understand!” Ernest stepped in toward the prince. “I’m off to tend to my shipping business in New York quite often, which will be quite convenient, won’t it?”
“Yes. Quite.”
“And convenient in another way. I’ve always taken an interest in Wallis’ friend Mary Raffray. She’s recently divorced and, well, available. You won’t tell Wallis, will you?”
“Indeed not.”

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Thirty-Seven

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 and Wallis are told to kill American millionaire James Donohue.
Jimmy Donohue was growing up fast. He had plunged into puberty and didn’t have to follow anyone’s rules or ask for anyone’s permission when he left the house. His older brother, sixteen-year-old Wooly, was still at an awkward age where he felt most comfortable sticking close to home so he’d be available if his mother needed him for anything.
Jimmy’s favorite adventure was to follow his father, James, when he went out to enjoy a night on the town. Jimmy was good at lurking in the shadows and slipping in and out of places where respectable young gentlemen were forbidden to enter. He thought he would make a great spy. Of course, Jimmy also wanted to be a Broadway dancer or an Army Air Corps pilot. Mother Jessie would have disapproved of all three, which made them even more tempting.
The Donohues had just returned to their home at 6 East 80th Street in New York after wintering at their Palm Beach estate Cielito Lindo. Jimmy was ready for the change of pace. At first he found sneaking into the casinos to watch his father lose millions of dollars at the poker table to be entertaining. However, he didn’t understand why his father became so nervous about losing the money. They had enough so dropping a million at the casino couldn’t be a problem.
Jimmy decided it was like Jesus getting upset over being crucified because he knew he was going to come back from the grave in three days anyway. Jimmy was bored with all forms of education except the catechism classes at the Roman Catholic Church. Despite all his many faults he loved the mother church. He particularly loved to shock the priests in the confessional booth. Jimmy briefly considered going into the priesthood but he found dressing in all that black depressing. Cardinals looked snappy in their red gowns, but Jimmy doubted he would last long enough to become a cardinal.
His father’s escapades became more exciting since their return to New York. Jimmy shadowed him into disreputable little dives where the band played jazz and men danced with other men. He followed his father there every night. One time Jimmy saw James dance with a British sailor. The man wore his bellbottoms and vee-neck shirt tight. Sweat glistened on the sailor’s black skin. He was not tall and his body was lean and compact. James let him lead.
Now this was exciting, Jimmy decided. By the end of the two weeks James and his sailor left the club early, with the boy trailing. They went to the Waldorf-Astoria. Jimmy followed them upstairs and watched his father give the sailor a gift wrapped in a Tiffany’s box as they stood in front of a door to a suite. The sailor accepted it, kissed James on the mouth and lingered in the embrace. Jimmy giggled. He wondered what was going to happen next.
Three nights later as he finished his dinner he heard the front door shut. “What was that?”
“Your father has left for his social obligations earlier than usual,” Jessie explained, cutting her filet mignon, medium rare. “He’s always working hard to build new contacts for Woolworth enterprises. Don’t worry about it.”
That was a lie. It was one of the things he loved most about his mother. She could lie with sincerity. Jimmy wanted to believe she was telling the truth. In honor of his mother, he decided to tell his own lie.
“I don’t feel good.” Jimmy frowned. “I think it’s my sinus again.”
Jessie daubed her napkin to her mouth, trying not to smudge her lipstick. “Then you must go immediately to bed. If you don’t have your health then you don’t have anything.”
“Of course, Mother.” Jimmy marched to the hall leading to the bedrooms. Instead of going through his door, he continued down the hall to the servant’s entrance.
Jimmy beat his father to the night club. As he walked down the alley to the back door, he saw the sailor, leaning against a large trash can smoking.
“Hello,” Jimmy said as he approached the man.
“My name is Jimmy Donohue. Who are you?”
“Everybody has a name.”
“If I told you my name I’d have to kill you.”
For once Jimmy was speechless.
“How old are you?” the sailor asked.
“Oh sure. You’re old enough to die for asking too many questions.” He blew smoke Jimmy’s way. “Now do you want to know my name?”
“Wise decision.”
This is ridiculous. Nobody’s going to scare me. I’m rich. Jimmy took another step forward and lifted his chin. “You’re from the Bahamas, aren’t you?”
“I thought so. We winter in Palm Beach. I recognized the accent.”
“Is that supposed to impress me?”
Jimmy didn’t know whether to like or hate this fellow. “Do you like my father?”
“That’s another one of those tricky questions that could get you killed.”
“My mother will pay a lot of money for you to go away.”
The sailor dropped his cigarette and ground it out. “How do you want to die? Bullet between the eyes? Slit throat? Or a quick, hard twist of the neck?”
Without another word Jimmy walked to the back door and opened it. He turned back. “I’m not afraid of you.”
“You’re lying.”
Jimmy stepped inside and began to close the door when he heard his father’s voice calling from down the alley.
“Jed! Here I am!”
The boy peeked out the door just in time to see his father hug the sailor and kiss him.
“Let’s skip the club tonight.” Excitement overwhelmed James’ voice. “I got us our usual suite at the Waldorf-Astoria—“
“Do you have my gift?” the sailor interrupted.
Jim fumbled with his pockets, pulling out a small black box. The man opened it and threw it on the dirty cobblestones.
“Diamond stick pin. How pathetic. I already have two.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’m bored with you, Jim. Go home.”
James’ face crumpled into a pitiful contortion. “But I thought you loved me.”
“Loved you? You’re a drunk, a drug addict, a loser at gambling. You’re not even handsome anymore. You’re going bald. That belly makes me sick.”
“Why are you saying these things?”
The sailor turned away. “Someone paid me to humiliate you. Now who hates you enough to do that?”
James slid down to the street, his back against the trash can. “Jed! Jed!”
The sailor turned around and smirked. “By the way, you ought to see a doctor. You see, I have syphilis. I had forgotten to tell you that.”
Jimmy decided at that moment he hated his father. How could he be such a disgusting weakling? He didn’t care about his father having syphilis. He didn’t want his mother to catch it. That would be just plain rude! Jimmy swore to himself he would never let anyone humiliate him the way the sailor did to his father. He would always be in control of people. No one would control him. Except maybe his mother.
Eventually, James stood, wiped the tears from his eyes and staggered out of the alley. Jimmy waited a moment and then slipped from the club and went home. He couldn’t sleep all night. He kept thinking of all the ways he could get even with his father.
The next morning Jimmy asked his mother if they could have their breakfast on the terrace, just the two of them. It was April, after all, and the weather was becoming quite nice, for New York at least. After they had taken a few bits of their omelets, Jimmy cleared his throat.
“Mother, I think the time has come for you to divorce father.”
Jessie smiled sweetly at him as she sipped her coffee. “Now you shouldn’t concern yourself with such sordid matters. Anyway, whatever you think your father has done, he has done it many times before. Besides, divorce is such a messy business. All the headlines.”
Jimmy was undeterred. “Then let’s kill him.”
“My dear, don’t be silly. We’re just normal high society people. What do we know of murder? I just cannot begin to wrap my head around the details. For instance, you have to have a good alibi, even if you’re not the one doing the actual murder. It’s better if you can make them commit suicide. So you have to make it easy on them to get the pills. Then you have to come up with a reason that would push them over the edge. But don’t let it be officially ruled suicide because no matter how big an inconvenience someone has become, you don’t want them to be kept out of heaven.” She paused to smile. “You see I’m just not bright enough to plan anything so complicated as murder.”
Jimmy was not surprised that by sunset his mother had announced she was having another one of her infamous nervous breakdowns. James announced at dinner he suspected he had contracted a nasty case of syphilis. He bought an over-the-counter medication called mercury bichloride, and a full recovery was expected. Jessie admitted herself to Harbor Sanitarium on Madison Avenue.
As the family gathered around her bed, she instructed James to proceed with plans for their spring tour of Europe as scheduled. Wooly sniffled and his eyes turned red. Jimmy thought his brother acted like a girl about such things. James spent the next few days making ocean liner reservations and wiring their favorite hotels in London, Paris and Rome to be expecting the family. Jimmy suggested to his father that he had done such a good job he should reward himself with a day of poker with his friends at the house. James agreed. Milton Doyle and Gordon Sarre arrived for luncheon at noon the next day and then settled into a nice relaxing game of cards. Then Jimmy walked up and stood by his father.
“Mr. Doyle, Mr. Sarre, did father tell you he has syphilis?”
“Oh, Jimmy, don’t” Wooly whined.
“He got these blue pills from the drug store. You’re not supposed to swallow them. That would kill you. You’re supposed to grind them up and spread it on your—“
“Jimmy! Shut up!” Wooly tried to pull him away.
Gordon smiled but kept staring at his cards. “Don’t worry, Wooly. I doubt Jimmy could say anything to shock us.”
“That’s right. Isn’t it so, Jimmy?” Milton glanced at the boy and cocked his head. “Rather takes the fun out of it, doesn’t it?”
James stood. “Excuse me. I feel the need to go to the bathroom.”
As he walked away, Jimmy asked, “Who gave it to you? A dancer? Or was it one of those nasty sailors?”
“Jimmy, I swear I’m going to knock you on your ass,” Wooly hissed.
In a few minutes James emerged, his face was already flush and sweaty. Gordon stood.
“What have you taken?”
“I took seven of them. I can’t tell you why I did it. I’m a chump for doing such a thing.”
Milton ran for the bathroom and came out with the bichloride mercury bottle. ‘It says the antidote is eggs and milk.” He looked at Jimmy and Wooly. “Boys, are there milk and eggs in the kitchen?”
“No,” Jimmy blurted. “We have to buy some.”
“Go! Quick!” Gordon ordered. “We’ll call the ambulance!” He looked at his friend. “Gordon, help me make him comfortable.”
Gordon and Milton helped James to the sofa where they laid him down. They were out the door and down the elevator to the small grocery right next to the hotel. They grabbed the milk and eggs and rushed out without paying. The clerk, familiar with their hijinks just waved. They were back within a few minutes. Jimmy pushed Wooly towards the living room.
“Go check on father. I’ll mix this up.”
Wooly frowned but did as he was told. Jimmy disappeared into the kitchen and emerged with a glass filled with milk and eggs. Milton took it and gently held it to James’ lips.
“Jimmy,” Wooly asked, “why is the milk blue?”
“No it isn’t.”
The ambulance team knocked on the door. Jimmy grabbed the glass and ran to let them in. As they loaded James on the stretcher, Jimmy took the glass back to the kitchen, emptied it and washed it out. The ambulance took James to Harbor Sanitarium where Jessie was in the mental ward. Milton and Gordon drove Jimmy and Wooly to the hospital and ushered them through the emergency entrance.
When Jimmy and Wooly entered their father’s room they heard the doctors discuss the results of the blood typing test and how one of the orderlies said he had that type and volunteered for the transfusion. They watched them hook James up to a line which went to the orderly lying on a nearby table. Soon blood transfused from the man to James. Jimmy stopped a nurse and pointed at his father.
“Is that going to work?”
The nurse looked at him with sad, kind eyes. “Of course it will.”
“You do know he took bichloride mercury, don’t you?” His tone was solemn.
“Of course I do.”
“So how often does a blood transfusion work on bichloride mercury?”
She patted his shoulder. “You’re a smart boy, aren’t you?”
“Not really,” he replied. “I find school boring. But I am an expert observer of life and death.”
Just at that moment Jimmy heard his mother’s voice. He turned to see an attendant roll her wheelchair in the door. Both he and Wooly went to her and hugged her.
“Where’s my Jim?” she asked in a loud, shrill voice. “Please don’t tell me he’s dead. I couldn’t live without my Jim.”
Wooly kissed her forehead while staring at his brother. “Don’t worry, Mother. He’ll be all right.”
Jimmy kneeled so he could face her. “Yes, Mother. Father’s not dead.” He leaned in to whisper, “Not yet.”
(Author’s note: I thought this might be a good time to remind the readers this is alternative historical fiction. None of these historical figures did any of these awful things. As far as anyone knows.)

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Thirty-Six

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 and his brother George go to Buenos Aires where George is seduced by sex, drugs and booze.
On Monday morning after the hunting weekend at Thelma Furnace’s estate in Mowbray, the Simpsons rode back to London in the back seat of their limousine. Ernest hopped about like a little boy.
“Imagine, we got to meet two princes at one time!” He nudged his wife. “I think they liked you.”
There were times when Wallis was on the verge of loving her husband. This was not one of those times. She blew smoke in his face.
“You think?” She didn’t disguise her disgust. “My God, Ernest, I thought you were going to sell me to the highest bidder.”
“Wallis, my love,” he protested. “Don’t be crass. I wouldn’t take money for you. All I was doing was expressing my depth of tolerance and discretion, two qualities not to be underestimated in these modern times.”
“You must explain the difference to my panties sometime.”
Ernest laughed. “Oh, you know I’m teasing. I’m all the time teasing.” He paused for a response that was not forthcoming. “Anyway, we’ll probably never hear from either one of them again.”
Wallis knew that was not true. David was going to be in their lives for a long time to come. But she had more important things to consider. The general ordered her to gossip. She loved to gossip, and when MI6 ordered her to gossip, she had to take it seriously. National security depended upon it.
After they unpacked at the Bryanston Court apartment, Ernest ran off to the nearest pub to regale his Grenadier Guard chums with tales about the Prince of Wales. Wallis, on the other hand, settled down at her desk to write her bread and butter note to Thelma. She wrote several drafts, wadding them up and throwing them into her trash basket decorated with tiny pink bows. She had to use precise words to express her sincere appreciation with the right touch of vivacity and insouciance. After all, if she were too nice, Thelma might think she was up to something nefarious, which she was. Wallis had been closer friends with Connie, Thelma’s sister, than she had with her. She still couldn’t decide if she really liked Thelma at all. But duty demanded it.
Her thank you note evidently worked because a week later she and Thelma sat in a sidewalk café in the Mayfair district sipping mint tea and nibbling almond biscuits.
“I must say, Prince George is the most handsome man I have ever met,” Wallis whispered, her eyes sparkling. “I was simply devastated when he dashed off before supper at the hunting weekend.”
Thelma raised a penciled eyebrow. “Blame James Donohue. I didn’t even invite him to the party, for good reason too.”
“Who’s he?” Wallis fluttered her eyes.
“He’s married to the Woolworth fortune. His own family cuts pigs up for a living.”
“You mean cheap jewelry and ice cream Woolworths?” The thought of running dead animals through a machine to turn them into goo was much too dreadful to discuss. She concentrated instead on the family who made billions of dollars selling trinkets. “What was he doing in London? Buying miniature Big Bens wholesale to sell in their stores?”
Thelma took time to sip her mint tea. “I’d rather not talk about Mr. Donohue. He’s exotic in more ways than a respectable woman should acknowledge.”
“I though Prince George was considered quite exotic himself.”
“George has problems. Mr. Donohue is a problem.”
Wallis could tell the conversation was making Thelma uncomfortable. Her normally pleasant smile pinched into a scowl. Her petite nose was curdling as though it smelled barnyard stench.
“Who else is a problem?”
Thelma’s expression did not change. “Kiki Preston.”
“Oh, I think I’ve heard of her,” Wallis quipped. “She’s the girl with the silver syringe, isn’t she?” When Thelma chose to stick an entire almond biscuit in her mouth rather than reply, Wallis decided to move on to another topic. “So. Tell me how you met the Prince of Wales.” She knew this was the right question because Thelma relaxed and slid back in her chair.
“My goodness. That was many years ago. Nineteen eighteen. We were at a county fair handing out rosettes to cows, I think. He took me to this ramshackle structure he called Fort Belvedere. He drove too fast.” She puffed on her cigarette. “David was quite adorable as he described how he was going to turn it into his country home.” She looked at Wallis. “You know his family and closest friends call him David, don’t you?”
She smiled. “I’ve heard rumors to that effect.”
“I decorated Belvedere for him and I acted as hostess for his weekend parties.” Thelma paused to light a fresh cigarette. “We frequently make love. But I’d never marry him.”
“Why not?”
“Like I said, he drives too fast. He disappears for weeks at a time and when he returns it’s like ‘hail the conquering hero’, you know. No explanation. Let’s have a party.”
“Sounds like fun.”
“It’s not like he’s interested in marriage. I’m sure you’ve heard of Freda Ward. She thinks she’s a movie star. She’s bedded David many times. Hosted at Belvedere too. And then, of course, there’s Princess Stephanie. Von Ribbentrop introduced them. You know all about Stephanie and Ribbentrop, don’t you?”
Wallis smiled. “I’ve met Joaquin but I haven’t the foggiest about Stephanie.”
“She’s some adventuress from Vienna. Stephanie claims the title of a princess because she married a member of the Austrian royal family for thirty minutes. She’s supposed to be a close friend of Adolph Hitler. And the servants at Belvedere tell me she spent a torrid two weeks with David but then disappeared.”
“Proving there is a God after all,” Wallis murmured before taking a last bite of her almond biscuit.
“I like you,” Thelma announced. “I like your style. We must go shopping.”
Over the next couple of months Wallis and Thelma went shopping several times, hosted each other in their homes and attended lavish events that Wallis had only read about in the newspapers. The only problem was that, try as she might, she could not pry any fresh gossip out of her new sophisticated friends about Prince George and the darker life he lead. She supposed they were practicing extreme discretion out of respect for the Royal Family. To hell with discretion!
Before long the newspapers were extolling the Brothers Royale for enduring their extended tour of South America. After the opening of the British Exposition in Buenos Aires, the brothers insisted on exploring the interior jungles of Argentina and Brazil. It was at this time Prince George came down with a lengthy list of loathsome diseases such as dengue fever, dysentery and infected insect bites.
Bullshit! He was going through drug detoxification. Wallis could not help but snort as she punctured her soft boiled egg one morning at Bryanston Court.
“Anything interesting in the paper?” Ernest‘s head leaned into the financial pages, though there was nothing for him to be worried about—the shipping industry was doing fabulously well.
“The boys are back in town.”
“The clown princes of Mayfair.”
“Very clever.” Ernest lowered the newspaper. “You wouldn’t say that to their faces, would you? It might hurt their feelings.”
“What if it did?” Wallis puffed on her cigarette. Ernest could be so tiresome.
“Well, it’s just that recently we’ve been having a gay time with a better circle of friends. I mean, I didn’t know Thelma’s other sister was the fabulous Gloria Vanderbilt.”
“Very well, just for you and little Gloria I shall behave.” Wallis didn’t realize she would be required to keep that promise so quickly. A messenger appeared at Bryanston Court by late afternoon with an invitation to be presented at St. James Court. Of course, that did require a bit of manipulation. Wallis had to offer to the royal staff her official divorce decree that she had been the injured party in her divorce from Win Warfield. In addition, she was not a British citizen. While Ernest’s dual citizenship was enough to gain admission for himself, it was not sufficient for Wallis. She had to find another British citizen to sponsor her. She wondered why she had to jump through so many hoops. After all, they invited her. Oh well, she decided, who can ever understand the ways of royalty.
Finally, she had to find something decent to wear. Ernest’s Grenadier Guard uniform would serve nicely for him, but Wallis had to scramble for a stunning gown. She borrowed Connie Thaw’s presentation gown, train, feathers and fan.
When the night came, Wallis and Ernest joined the other breathless socialites in a queue which weaved its way through four or five chambers of St. James’s palace before they reached the throne room. Wallis was bored, but Ernest made several new friends winding back and forth, nodding and chatting each time they passed.
The presentation itself only lasted thirty seconds; they backed out of the room and then explored other royal apartments, pausing only to bow and curtsy when the Prince of Wales and his retinue exited.
“Where is Prince George?” Ernest whispered.
“He had a bad case of the runs,” she muttered as she curtsied. She then heard the prince comment to General Trotter.
“Something ought to be done about the lights. They make all the women look ghastly.”
Wallis decided she had had enough pomp and pomposity. She told Ernest she was ready to go to Thelma’s townhouse for some hard liquor and hard laughs. They made a quick exit. She had just deposited her train and feathers with Thelma’s maid when the prince arrived.
He walked over to the Simpsons and extended his left hand to shake with Ernest. Wallis rolled her eyes. She had heard from friends David had this irritating habit of shaking with the wrong hand.
“So, I hope your brother, His Royal Highness Duke of Kent, is recovering sufficiently from his recent discomfort,” Ernest offered.
The prince’s eyes widened in alarm. “I beg your pardon?”
“Dysentery,” Wallis muttered. “It was in all the best newspapers.”
“Oh. Yes. Much. I had a touch of it myself. Damn Amazon. Never drink from it.” He smiled and appraised Wallis in her borrowed dress. “Mrs. Simpson, you looked exceptional in your gown.”
“But sir, I understand that you thought we all looked ghastly.”
“I had no idea my voice carried so far.”
He bowed and crossed the room to chat with a coterie around Thelma. No more than fifteen minutes had passed before the prince began to make his apologies and left.
“Oh my. Between the two of us, I’m afraid we have made the social blunder of the season,” Ernest quipped in a self-mocking tone.
“Shut up, Ernest,” Wallis snapped. “We’ve done no such thing. I’m starving. Get me a martini with two olives.”
After her second martini, Wallis handed the glass to her husband and ordered, “Get my wrap and let’s get the hell out of here. My feet are killing me.”
When they walked out of the building they were met by the Prince of Wales leaning against his long sleek black limousine. He smiled. “Need a ride?”
“How kind of you to wait.” Ernest’s face beamed.
The prince opened the door and Wallis slid in.
“Bryanston Court,” she said. Inside she was not surprised to see General Trotter. All she had to figure out was how to get rid of Ernest.
Ernest, by the way, continued to glow in surprise. “I know you. You’re General something.”
The general extended his hand. “Trotter. We met at Lady Thelma’s country house.”
“Have you been waiting out here the entire time?”
Wallis sighed. Ernest didn’t know when to keep his damn mouth shut.
“My dear General Trotter, you don’t have to explain anything to Ernest Simpson. He just owns a few little boats that carry beans and things across the Big Pond.”
Ernest laughed. “Isn’t she outrageously funny? I just adore her.” He turned to the prince. “Wallis and I would consider it an extreme honor if you and the general would pop up for a quick drink.”
Wallis rolled her eyes. “Ernest, please, don’t be so dreary.”
“No, no,” the prince interceded. “We’d be delighted. Wouldn’t we, general?”
“Of course, your highness.”
The four of them exited at Bryanston Court and the limo driver pulled to the side of the street to await the return of the prince and the general. Ernest carried on about how the fellows from his regiment would react upon hearing the Prince of Wales dropped by for a cocktail. Wallis continued to fret to herself about how they would go about conducting business with Ernest dancing around playing host.
“How about martinis for everybody?” Ernest asked as he opened the liquor cabinet.
The general went to him. “Please, don’t go to that much bother. Why don’t I just pour out a bottle of wine?”
Ernest plopped on the sofa next to the prince. “Imagine? A general serving me? Only in England.”
Wallis watched Trotter pour a powder into her husband’s glass. Completely oblivious, Ernest gulped it down as he continued to grin at the prince.
“I do believe you will be a king who will change the landscape of Europe.”
“I agree.” Trotter smiled and patted Ernest’s shoulder. “Would you like for me to freshen your drink?”
“Yes, please.”
Ernest sipped on the second drug-based glass of wine until he lost his train of thought in mid-sentence. Blinking, he tried to remember the next word he wanted to say, but without success. His hand holding the drink sagged. David reached over to grab it just about as Ernest’s eyes went up in his head and his body went limp.
General Trotter spread Ernest’s body out and grabbed him under his arm pits. “Which way to his room?”
“The door on the left.” Wallis bumped David out of the way. “I better handle this.”
He bumped her back and grasped Ernest’s legs. “I think not. You get the door.”
As Wallis walked to the bedroom, she called back, “A gentleman would have gotten the door.”
David walked by, bent over carrying Ernest’s weight. “You’d better learn. I’m no gentleman.”
“Children,” Trotter chided. “We’ve work to do.”
After Ernest was properly tucked in bed, the others settled comfortably in the salon.
“We must all agree, after the last debacle in Buenos Aires, James Donohue must be eliminated,” the general announced, his face turning grim.
David lit a cigarette. “How about the other two, Jorge and Kiki?”
“We can’t kill them all off at one time,” Trotter explained with an air of condescension.
“Yes, we can’t have a pandemic of socialite deaths,” Wallis added.
“I suppose it makes sense to go after Donohue first,” David conceded. “He said something curious in South America. He said he was a dead man walking.”
“Well, we can’t wait for it to happen naturally,” Trotter replied, eyeing each of them. “We have to poison him several different ways to ensure he dies.”
“Like Rasputin.” Wallis’s eyes twinkled.

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Thirty-Five

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 and his brother George go to Buenos Aires where George is seduced by sex, drugs and booze.
David and the mercenary, carrying naked Prince George, hurried down the steps of Jorge Ferrara’s mansion. The taxi driver jumped out and opened the back door. The man dropped George on the seat, pushed his body across then sat next to him. David slid in, the driver went back to the wheel and they sped off.
“I need you to perform another task for me,” David said to the man in the tan uniform.
“That was not part of our original negotiations.”
“What do you want now?” David became easily impatient with the lower classes who only thought in terms of how much money was in it for them.
“What were you planning on giving me for rescuing your brother?” His piercing black eyes bore into David.
“My diamond stick pin and 24-karat gold cuff-links.” He regarded the urban scenery passing by the window and raised his chin.
The mercenary observed at the clothes crumpled on the floorboard. “I want his stick pin and cuff-links too.”
“Deal.” God, I hate dealing with rabble like this.
The man extended his palm turned up. “Give them to me now.”
David extracted his accoutrements and handed them over. He nodded to George’s clothes. “You can get his.”
“You get them. He’s your brother.”
Sighing in exasperation, David bent over, unfastened the stick pin and cufflinks from George’s attire and plopped them in the mercenary’s hand. He felt like bathing in disinfectant.
The man carefully folded everything into a handkerchief and tucked it into a pouch down inside his pants between his legs. “What do you want me to do?”
“Tell the driver to take us to the nearest Catholic Church,” David began. “You go in and tell the priest two men are seeking sanctuary. Two brothers. One is trying to wean the other off of drugs. They need an isolated room, food and complete privacy. Tell him we will reward the church generously for this charity. Tell him I am a man of integrity. You will vouch for me. Of course, who will vouch for you, God only knows.”
The mercenary turned to the driver and spoke in Spanish with a Bahamian accent. In a few blocks the taxi pulled in front of a large cathedral. The man pushed at David so he could get out.
Who the hell does he think he is? Pushing me around like that? I’m a damned prince, for God’s sake!
He trotted up the steps with the confidence of a world-weary mercenary at the top of his game. Without hesitation he threw the door open and barged in.
David leaned over and looked at George. “Wake up. Put on your clothes. “
George moaned.
“I mean it.” He kicked his brother. “At least put on pants and a shirt.” He nudged George again. “Are you dying on me?” David leaned back and looked out the window.
That would be just like you, George. Leave me in the taxi with a dead naked prince. Most inconsiderate bloke I’ve ever known.
David saw the church door open and the mercenary marched down the steps followed by an old priest and two young ones. David picked up George’s clothes and got out of the car just as the men arrived. The two young ministers crawled into the back seat to drag out George. The man in the tan uniform jumped into the taxi, tapped the driver’s shoulder, and the car sped off into the night.
David followed the priests as they carried George around the corner to steps leading down to the basement. They entered a long dark corridor which seemed to lead to an older, less civilized century. The old priest unlocked a door and stepped aside so the younger clergy could carry George to a cot and dump him. They left the room and locked the door, leaving David to consider his new surroundings.
Another cot sat against the opposite wall. The only other object was a galvanized bucket. No pillows, blankets or towels. David could only hope they would bring food in the morning. It was a church after all. He collapsed on the cot and fell into a deep sleep.
A light tap at the door roused David. He stumbled to the door and mumbled, “Que?”
It opened, and a nun handed him a tray, shut the door and locked it back. On the tray were a pewter pitcher of water and a casket with a loaf of bread, a small wheel of cheese, several hard-boiled eggs and oranges.
“George?”” David sat on the edge of the cot. “We’ve got food.”
He just moaned and rolled over to face the crumbling stone wall.
“I’ll kill Kiki if I ever see her again.” David crunched into the crusty bread.
The next morning George opened his eyes long enough to vomit, urinate and defecate before passing out again. He didn’t speak until the third day.
“Where am I?”
“The pit of hell,” David whispered. “And the fool that I am, I followed you here.”
“You’re in withdrawal.”
“It’s your own fault.”
George twitched. “Are there bugs in here?”
“Bugs have more sense than to come here.”
Writhing, he cried, “The worms. The worms are back. I hate the worms. Why do I do this to myself?”
“Drink some water.” David lifted the pitcher to George’s lips. “You vomited so much you’re dehydrated.”
“I want to die. I can’t take it anymore.”
“Of course you can. You’re a Windsor. If you can sit through an eight-course dinner with our blithering idiot father, you can take anything. Now drink.”
George knocked the pitcher away. “No! I want to die!”
David grabbed each side of his brother’s face with his hands and pulled him so close their noses touched.
“I won’t let you die! They won’t let you die! Do you know what Papa and Mama will do to you if I bring you home like this? The same thing they did with little Johnny. Do you remember him? Our youngest brother? The sweetest soul that ever lived on this earth? He was different so they locked him in a room at Windsor Castle and pulled curtains so he could see out and nobody could see in. Then he dropped dead when he was only fourteen years old. Do you think you could have taken being treated like that? Johnny took it! He was a better man than you’ll ever be!”
By the time George fell asleep he had eaten some bread, a couple of bites of cheese and a hard-boiled egg, which his brother had to peel for him. David stared at him while he slept. Then he looked around the room. He felt anger welling up inside him like he had not felt since the bullies tortured him at school. David set his jaw firm. He could take that and he would take this.
Eventually, George’s body began to shiver like he was in a vat of ice. He slit his eyes open and glanced about. “Why is it so cold in here?” he asked.
“You’re naked,” David replied in a flat tone.
George pulled on his slacks and shirt and slept better than he had in days. On the fifth day when the nun knocked on the door, George stood on wobbly legs and walked over, moaning the entire time. The nun unlocked the door.
“I want to go home now.”
The nun guided them to the basement door and pointed down the street.
“Don’t worry. You will be properly rewarded,” David assured her as they stepped out.
She smiled and closed the door. They walked a few blocks and saw the British embassy.
“How did she know to direct us here?” George asked.
“You spoke in a British accent, stupid.”
“How are we ever going to explain this?” George sniffed. “We smell like hell.”
David put his arm around his brother’s shoulders. “We don’t have to explain anything. We are the Brothers Royale.”

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Thirty-Four

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 and Wallis officially meet at Thelma’s party.
David decided not to tell George the real reason to go to Argentina. Yes, they did put on their morning suits and top hats in order to cut the ribbon to open the British Empire trade Exposition. He promised George a good time because they were staying at the large estate of millionaire scion Jorge Ferrara near Sugar Loaf Mountain and Ipanema Beach. When they returned to the mansion to change for the casual evening festivities, David planned on locking George in his bedroom to let the agony of withdrawal begin.
He knew it was a risk to bring Jorge in on the secret of George’s addiction. David had known the gadabout for years. Jorge spent as much time in New York and London as he did in Buenos Aires, which meant David knew all of his secrets too. Sometime ago, for example, Jorge pitched woo to talented show girl Jessie Matthews who was featured in her first Broadway show. When leading lady Gertrude Lawrence fell ill, Jessie was promoted to star. In celebration Jorge lost control and forced himself on Jessie. The sexual assault resulted in a pregnancy and a dangerous illegal abortion.
Jessie, with her own career in jeopardy, pretended as though nothing had happened. David thought Jorge should have been relieved. However, he didn’t change his behavior. The prince suspected Jorge had not learned any moral scruples. In any case the prince thought the playboy would allow confidential use of his house in exchange for the assurance the reports of his violent criminal act on Jessie would not make it into the British newspapers.
After the ceremonies David and George were about to enter Jorge’s limousine when a messenger intercepted them. He wore a tan service uniform. David was confused. If the messenger were military he would have had insignia and stripes.
“My employer wishes to have a word in private with the two princes.” A slight Bahamian accent infiltrated his English articulation.
David pushed George into the car. “And who is your employer?”
“He wishes to keep this meeting, shall we say, clandestine? But I can assure you that once you have met him you will recognize him.”
David sensed danger in this situation he did not mind for himself but felt George was not up to the challenge. He shut the car door and waved the driver on.
“Very well. Lead on.”
The messenger lead David on narrower and darker lanes away from the lights and music of the trade exposition. The sun was setting which heightened the urgency of the situation. He had to jog to keep up with the man in the uniform.
“How long have you known your employer?”
“I don’t know him.”
“But you said—“
“He called the message agency that employs me. They told me to seek you out and take you to a certain address.”
“Have you been here before?” David began to pant.
“I follow directions well.” In a few moments he stopped in from of a dark two-story office building. “First door at the top of the stairs.”
David took the first step up and look at the man. “Aren’t you coming with me?”
“Why should I?”
David hoped he would remember the route back as he climbed the steps and knocked at the door.
“Come in.”
The voice sounded familiar. When he opened the door, he saw four men sitting at a table playing poker. A nearly empty bottle of tequila sat between them. One of the men was James Donohue. He looked up and smiled.
“What took you so long? Where’s your brother? This isn’t what I wanted. I wanted both of them—George to have fun with and Edward to be reassured I hadn’t really kidnapped George. I don’t want to play poker with Edward. You know what I’m trying to say, don’t you, Edward?”
“Poker’s not our game.”
“It’s not mine either.” He threw down his cards and looked at a short stout man. “How much do I owe you?”
The man muttered in Spanish an amount that even the Prince of Wales found exorbitant. James pulled a wad of bills out of this pocket and tossed it on the table.
Muchas gracias,” James slurred. “Now adios.”
After the men left, James waved at a chair opposite him. “Oh, I guess I should show proper respect to the Prince of Wales and bow.” He stood, bent over while trying to keep his balance and fell back into the chair.
“You’re drunk.”
“Like you don’t get drunk.” He pointed at the bottle. “And your brother’s a drunk. And worse.”
James reached for the bottle to empty its last drops. “I want to have fun. George and I were having great fun last fall. Everybody likes to have fun with George. I mean, everyone. Even your little friend Jorge has designs on your brother. Anyway, I like the way George tangos. Then my wife tugged on my rope and I had to go home.”
“Why did she let you come here?”
“Trade expo. Business, you know.”
“How much money will it take to make you leave George alone?”
“You buy me?” James spat tequila across the table. “The Wales family is a five and dive operation.” He had a crooked smile. “Get it? Five and dive? Woolworths? Five and dime?”
“You do know I represent the British Empire. We are a mighty killing machine.”
“Killing me?” James turned up the bottle, found it empty and threw it at David. “Get in line. My wife has already said she’s going to kill me. I am a dead man.”
The door swung open and the man in the tan uniform strode in.
James blinked his eyes and had trouble wrapping his lips around the words he wanted to say. “Who are you?”
“I have a message for you.”
“Time to go home.” He punched James in the gut then delivered an uppercut to his chin which knocked him out. The man in the tan uniform threw him over his shoulder and marched downstairs. David followed. The man in the tan uniform whistled. A car pulled up. He opened the back door and laid James in. “To the pier. His boat sails in an hour.”
The car pulled away, and the man started walking away.
“You do this for a living, don’t you?” David called after him.
“Do you take on quick side jobs? I pay very well.”
He stopped and turned around. “What do I have to do?”
“First, get us a cab to take us to Jorge Ferrara’s house. I’m beginning to think it’s not as safe a house as I first thought. Then wait for me outside. If you don’t see my brother and me in in five minutes, do what you just did. Knock out anyone who gets in the way, pick up my brother and get him out of there.”
The man smiled and whistled. A few minutes later the taxi arrived in front of Jorge’s mansion. David knocked at the door and the butler let him in.
“The master, Prince George and a guest are in the royal bedroom.”
“A guest?” David trotted up a marble staircase and went to the last door on the left. He knocked. “George? Jorge? Who’s in there with you?”
“It’s me!” A female voice sang out. “Join the fun!”
Damn. It’s Kiki. David opened the door to find all three of them naked in bed. He stopped. “What are you doing here?”
Kiki held up her silver syringe and squeezed some clear liquid poison through it—cocaine, heroin, morphine, whatever.
“I thought the Windsor family told you to leave George alone.” David sounded as imperious as his father.
“You said in London.” Kiki giggled. “This is Buenos Aires.”
David switched his attention to Jorge. “When I wired you about our visit I told you it was confidential.”
“I am only an Argentinian,” Jorge replied, running his fingers through George’s light brown hair. “What is this confidential?”
The man in the tan uniform stormed into the room. He went to the side of the bed where Jorge lay. Grabbing the playboy by the arm, he swung him off the bed. Jorge tried to rise and punch the intruder but the mercenary smashed his fist into Jorge’s nose. Jorge became preoccupied with stemming the flow of blood with the silk sheet now strewn on the floor.
“Kick the bitch out of bed.” David felt his face burning in righteous indignation.
The man looked at the prince. “I don’t hurt women.”
With fury in his heart, David stepped to the bed, wrapped his fingers around a clump of Kiki’s hair, pulled her off the bed and dumped her on the floor. “Don’t come hear my brother again, or you will regret it.”
The man in the tan uniform reached over, grabbed George’s naked limp body, tossed him over his shoulders and headed for the door. “Get his clothes,” he called back to David.
As they came down the staircase, the butler stood agape and opened the front door.
“Your royal highness—highnesses—and guest, are you leaving so soon?”
David followed the mercenary who carried George out the door.
“Gather our personal things together and pack them like a good chap. I’ll send someone—eventually—around to pick them up,” David called out to the butler.

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Thirty-Three

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. Each are on the Tanganyika Express to get their hands on the stolen Crown Jewels. David and Wallis officially meet at Thelma’s party.
Finally the Prince of Wales stood to excuse himself from the parlor filled with card players to retire to his bedroom. Wallis noticed he took particular effort to avoid eye contact. She also noticed that Thelma was aghast her hunting weekend party had just had a deathly pall descend upon it. Wallis shrugged. She couldn’t help herself. Then she watched General Trotter stand and go to the prince’s side to whisper. He turned to guide Edward to her.
“What a wonderful evening,” Trotter announced in a strong baritone that could be heard across the room. He leaned in for the ears of the prince and Wallis alone. “The three of us must have breakfast on the terrace.”
“We must?” The prince wrinkled his handsome brow.
“That won’t be necessary,” Wallis demurred.
“Yes, it will.” Trotter’s tone was tinged with an iron will developed through years of ordering soldiers into battle. “Wallis, meet your new companion in espionage, code name David. “
David and Wallis stood at attention.
In the morning General Trotter insisted they take breakfast on the terrace even though the temperature was brisk. The surrounding garden was filled with plants, birds and squirrels. All three were seated wearing appropriately heavy sweaters and scarves. The only purpose, Wallis decided, was to ensure they would be alone in their discussions.
Wallis and David sipped their coffee and began to cut triangles off their toast as General Trotter spoke in a soft, authoritative voice.
“You must have realized by now that MI6 had selected you to marry each other within five years. Last night was your first official meeting, surely to be recorded in the society pages of newspapers around the world.”
“It didn’t exactly go well, did it?” Wallis paused to puff on her cigarette.
“Which couldn’t have been better.” Trotter smiled with a smugness developed through years of well thought-out military strategy. “Your next encounter will be equally awkward. Wallis, you and your husband will be presented at court.”
“Ugh.” David choked on his toast. “Will that be necessary?”
Wallis looked at him askance. “I will not miss an opportunity to wear a pretty dress.” She smirked. “And Ernest won’t miss a chance to wear a pretty uniform.”
“Sometimes even a pretty dress cannot rescue a disaster in the making.” David lit a cigarette and blew smoke in Wallis’ direction.
Her hard eyes looked him up and down. “You’re skinnier than I thought. Frankly you look like a fourteen-year-old boy who’s lost his way.”
David sat erect. “Fourteen year old, perhaps; lost his way? Hardly. You’d be surprised what I did at ten.”
“Nothing about you would surprise me.”
“And that would be your downfall.”
“You wouldn’t have a chance against me in a fight.”
He leaned back. “Perhaps, but you had better kill me because if I survive, I will track you down in the middle of the night slit your throat, dissect your body and bury the parts in my garden at Fort Belvedere.”
Wallis blew smoke through her nostrils. “Kinky. I think I could fall in love with you after all.”
Trotter coughed. “So glad you resolved your differences. In the meantime, David must tour South America with Prince George.”
“Does he know yet?” David asked.
“No, that’s your job,” the general replied. “Officially the trip is to cut the opening ribbon at the British Empire Trade Exposition in Buenos Aires.”
“And unofficially?” David tapped out his cigarette in his poached egg.
“George is on heroin and cocaine again,” Trotter explained. It’s up to you to sweat it out of him.”
“So why do I have to know about this?” Wallis flicked her cigarette into a nearby potted plant and lit another.
“You travel in much the same circles as George,” Trotter explained. “If you hear certain things from certain people, you need to tell us.”
“What people?” she asked.
“Kiki Preston,” Trotter replied.
“Kiki!” Wallis guffawed. “I thought George had better taste than that! Isn’t she the socialite known as the girl with the silver syringe? Silver? How tacky! Please tell me he’s bedded someone better than Kiki.”
“Jessie Matthews.”
“Loved her shows.” Wallis smiled.
“So did George.” David crossed his legs and looked away.
“This is getting fascinating.” She picked up her coffee. “Tell me more.”
“Noel Coward and Barbara Cartland.”
Wallis spewed coffee across the table. “My God, sounds like a smorgasbord.”
General Trotter stood. “Kiki is our main concern, but also listen for gossip about this American James Donohue.
Both David and Wallis leaned forward, their brows furrowed and their moods subdued.
“He’s the one who spirited George away last night,” David said.
“He’s the one with the ugly wife and diamonds.” Wallis put her cigarette aside in an ash tray and folded her hands under her chin.
“You both bungled that one,” Trotter announced with a hint of judgement in his voice. “We think Donohue and his wife were behind the Crown Jewel heist. That’s why we want to keep him away from George.”
“That’s a big order.” Wallis lowered her hands. “Keeping anyone away from George.”
“I don’t know. I always thought the most dangerous person who might influence George was—“David began in hesitation.
“I know what you mean,” Wallis interrupted. “The man who tried to steal the jewels from me on the Tanganyika Express was a German. He said something about Von Ribbentrop being surprised that I was involved.”
Trotter frowned. “Von Ribbentrop knows you?”
“Yes.” Wallis picked up her cigarette. “He gave me a white carnation one time.”
“So what are you saying?” The general was becoming impatient.
“Don’t laugh at our suspicion,” David said.
“Our suspicion?” Wallis was a bit incredulous.
“I had the same idea.” David shrugged. “Of course, unless you were thinking of someone else.”
Now Wallis was irritated. “I think it was Adolph Hitler. He would do anything to make England look bad thereby increasing his chances of becoming German chancellor.”
“I agree. Adolph German.” He glanced at the general. “That’s why I asked you not to laugh. It’s rather ludicrous, isn’t it?”
Trotter was stoic. “I would never laugh about Adolph Hitler.”

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 Thirty-One

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.Leon kills an agent to save Wallis.
Leon was a bit miffed. When he stabbed the German on the Tanganyika Express, the blood spurted all over his white linen suit. Leon took a detour through Cairo to buy a new one. He remembered Mrs. Ribbentrop years ago commenting on the high quality of Egyptian fabric. Even though he was quite pleased with the purchase, Leon mourned the passing of his first white linen suit.
Back home on Eleuthura, he ran down the dusty road to his hacienda. Jessamine bolted out of the gate and threw her arms around him. She did not comment on his new clothes which bothered him. If she truly loved him, he reasoned, she should have noticed and complimented him. Leon dismissed the thought as six-year-old Sidney raced to him and leapt into his arms.
“Papa! I’m so happy to see you! Let’s play!”
Leon swung him around and Sidney’s legs flew straight out. The boy giggled. Before Leon could toss the boy in the air, Jessamine grabbed her husband’s arm.
“Did everything go all right?” Her brow furrowed. “Pooka said something would go wrong.”
“Pooka always says something will go wrong.” Leon carried Sidney past her to their door.
She scurried behind him. “But something went wrong, didn’t it?”
“I didn’t get paid, if that’s what you mean.”
They entered through the garden to the front door. Leon looked down to see his mother Dorothy on her knees pruning the vegetables.
“Mama, get up.” He kept walking into the house.
“I like your new suit,” Dorothy called out as she struggled to her feet.
The next morning Leon arose early, put on an old ragged shirt and shorts and ate breakfast with Sidney, Jessamine and his mother Dorothy.
“You are a big boy now.” He tousled his son’s hair.
“Yes, I am.”
“When I was your age, my father took me out on his fishing boat. Do you think you would like to go out on a fishing boat?”
“No, you will not!” Jessamine snapped.
“The boy needs to learn how to earn a living, dear.”
“We are wealthy,” she retorted. “He will not need to fish for a living.”
“Life is unfair.” Leon kept his eyes down as he bit into a scone. “Life is uncertain. What we have today can be gone tomorrow.”
Jessamine looked at Dorothy. “You can’t agree with Leon! Your own husband died on a fishing boat!”
The old woman put her fork down, pushed away her plate and turned to stare at her daughter-in-law.
“My husband was a good, honorable man. He lived for his family. He died for his family.”
“Well,” Jessamine huffed, “Sidney is too young. Leon was much older than six when he first went out on the boat.”
“No,” Dorothy was firm. “Jedidiah was a good man. He would have never let the child do anything that would hurt him, but a man must learn, build his body to provide for his family. Leon knows what he is doing. “
Jessamine pouted. “I shall have to talk to Pooka about his.”
Leon slammed his hand on the table. “You will tell Pooka nothing about our lives! That old witch knows too much about us as it is!” He stood, took Sidney’s hand and marched out the door.
Walking down the path to the Eleuthura dock, Leon waved to a fisherman on his boat. After he tossed the fellow a few coins, he lifted his son into the boat, jumped in and set sail.
“I like the water.” Sidney lifted his head and sniffed the breeze. “I think Mama’s trying to scare me.”
“But you’re not going to let her do that, are you?” Leon tugged on the line.
“Do you want to help me cast the net to catch fish?” He smiled at his son.
After hauling in a load of fish, Leon patted Sidney’s head. “Then you won’t mind working for the man who owns this boat, will you?”
Sidney’s eyes lit. “You mean, Jinglepockets?”
“His name is Nicholas.” Puzzled Leon asked, “Why do you call him Jinglepockets?”
“He’s always jingling coins in his pockets.”
Leon laughed. “That’s good. It’s always good to have coins to jingle in your pockets.” He paused. “Tomorrow you will start going out on Jinglepockets’ boat to learn to be a fisherman. The money you make, give to grandma. She’ll know what to do with it.”
“Does Mama know about this?”
Looking out to the horizon, he shrugged. “No, but don’t worry about it. I’ll tell her.”
“Oh, I’m not worried.”
They cast the net a couple more times and headed back to the dock.
“You know how grandpa died, don’t you?” Leon asked.
“A shark ate him.”
“Does that scare you?”
“Like you said, you do what you have to do to fill your family’s bellies. And everyone has to die. If you die for your family, all is good.”
Leon tossed the rope to Jinglepockets who tied the boat to the dock. The three of them unloaded the fish. Leon and Sidney began to walk away, but the boy stopped.
“What about the fish?”
“They belong to Jinglepockets.”
“Why?” Sidney wrinkled his brow. “We caught them.”
“But he owns the boat.”
“I saw you pay him, so the fish belong to us. Jinglepockets owes us money.”
“You’re a smart little boy, Sidney.” Leon put his arm around his son’s shoulders and guided him home. “Jinglepockets reminds me of Old Joe who taught me many things. He will be your Old Joe.”
The next day, as Leon and Sidney ate breakfast, Jessamine muttered her disapproval the entire time she tossed apples, cheese and bread into the tote bag for their lunch. They walked down to the dock. Leon lifted his son into the boat where Jinglepockets waited for them. When the fisherman cast off, Leon jumped into the boat with them. Sidney looked surprised.
“I thought I was working for Jinglepockets.”
“You are.” His father smiled. “I didn’t say I wasn’t coming along with you.”
They cast their nets as the sun rose in the sky. At noon, they paused to eat their lunch.
“Nicholas, do you know what the boys in town call you?” Leon asked.
“Jinglepockets,” he called out from across the boat. “Everyone calls me Jinglepockets but you.”
Leon leaned into his son. “Do the other boys pick on you?”
“No. One of the older ones wagged his finger in my face one time and called me a name. I grabbed his finger, bent it back and broke it. Nobody bothers me now.”
“Good for you.”
“You taught me that.” Sidney spoke around a chunk of cheese in his mouth. “Strike fast. Hurt them as much as you can.”
“Enough lunch!” Jinglepockets yelled. “Time to fish!”
When they docked that afternoon fish filled the boat. The three of them unloaded the fish from the boat onto the dock. Jinglepockets tossed a coin to Sidney. Leon took his hand and they walked down the road.
“Do you think you could kill a man?” Leon’s voice was soft and somber.
“You kill people, don’t you?”
“Not people. Just men.”
“Why not women? Don’t some women deserve to die?”
Sidney was quiet a moment. “I think I could kill a woman, if she was bad.”
“It doesn’t have anything to do with being good or bad. Sometimes people will pay you a lot of money to kill men. Or steal jewels. Or kidnap old men.”
“That’s how come we have a nice big house, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it is.” Leon considered his thoughts. “Does it bother you?”
“No.” Sidney paused. “There’s a couple of boys I’d like to kill for free. Will you teach me the best places on the body to hit people to make them die fast?”
Leon glanced at the flower pot by the gate. Nothing was askew. “There will be time for that.”
“Papa.” Sidney stopped walking. “If I find something else I’d like to do to feed my family, it would be all right, wouldn’t it?”
“Of course, son. Family is most important.” Leon sighed. “I remember when I came home, you said, ‘Let’s play.’ I don’t think I’ve given you enough time to play.”
Sidney giggled. “Papa, anytime I spend with you is play.”

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter Thirty

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 world of espionage 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.
Ernest Simpson was such a nice, decent and easy-going husband, Wallis thought as she boarded the Tanganyika Express in the heart of Africa amidst dreadful plains which seemed to go on forever. The sky was dark, like it was going to storm again soon. Her mind went back to her husband. It was a shame that she did not love him. He was reasonably good looking, an excellent dance, an understanding, giving lover, and not at all clinging or overly inquisitive. But when MI6 contacted her for a mission, she was required to go. For instance, when she was notified of her latest assignment she was in a fitting at her favorite London designer. A note was slipped into the bodice of her new gown.
“Noon. White Chapel. Queen Betty’s Fish and Chips.”
Wallis thought it humorous to rendezvous in the district known for its ladies of the night and Jack the Ripper. A waiter seated her in a booth in the back by the kitchen. Within a few minutes an old man sat opposite her.
“The crown jewels have been stolen.” He had a thick Cockney accent.
“Don’t look at me.” Wallis puffed on her cigarette. “If I want jewels I just sleep with a man and then he gives them to me.”
“We know who stole them.” The old man pushed an envelope across the table toward her. “Be on the Tanganyika Express. Walk by the designated compartment at midnight. A door will open. A hand will appear and will drop a velvet pouch in your purse. Immediately return here and give the pouch to me.” He tapped the envelope. “The tickets, everything you need to know, are in here.”
“I don’t get to kill anyone this time?”
“If you’re lucky. Maybe. Take your knife.”
That evening in their Bryanston Court apartment over a small supper comprised of soup, mashers and bangers, Wallis announced to Ernest she was leaving in the morning for Africa.
“One of my girlfriends told me of a witch doctor living in the wilds who claimed a cure for heart disease. I must dash off, obtain the herbal potion and rush to America to administer it to mother. After all, when we visited her recently she looked dreadful.”
“Didn’t she also inform you your brown dress looked dreadful?”
Her hard slit of a mouth turned up in a passing imitation of a smile. “Ernest, darling, you are way too sensitive. You must learn to live and let live. Forgive and forget.”
Ernest stood, picked up his dishes and those in front of Wallis to carry them to the kitchen. “I’ll write you a check before you leave tomorrow. You must always travel in comfort, even if you are on a mission of mercy.”
MI6 had issued all the funds she needed for the assignment, so she used the money Ernest gave her to drop in at Paris on her way. She had decided to take the route to Cairo, down the Nile and make the connecting trains to the Tanganyika Express. The Express had the reputation had a reputation of serving only the elite of European society. She wanted to fit in. In Paris shops she bought a black velvet hat with a brim so wide it dropped in front, covering both her eyes and nose. It revealed only her crimson lips. The crown concealed a giant pin to serve as a back-up weapon if she couldn’t get to her knife fast enough.
Her leopard skin coat had giant deep pockets in which to hide the crown jewels. A thought wafted through her brain that if the authorities did not have an exact count of missing diamonds she could sneak one away to squirrel into one of the dark crevices of her leopard coat pockets. They probably did count them, Wallis decided. Damned insufferable English efficiency. It was for the best anyway. They took only the small jewels and who wanted a small diamond even if it were part of the royal jewel collection?
The Nile proved tedious to Wallis. Just a bunch of dirt and mud buildings. Even the ones shaped like pyramids. All the good stuff had been taken out of them. She did catch up on her sleep. Wallis led a very active life and every now and then her body would beg for an extended sleep, which on this trip she has able to provide. When she reached the headwaters of the Nile she connected to a train which took her to the station where she could board the exotic Tanganyika Express.
Wallis’ dining experience on the Tanganyika Express was boring. No man offered to sit with her. Probably was the huge hat. Just as well. MI6 gave her strict orders not to be identified. The worst part of the evening was observing Mrs. Barnes, wife of the British ambassador. The middle-aged woman had not one socially redeeming quality—she was dumpy, her unattractive clothes did not hang well on her body, she wore too much makeup and her table manners were atrocious. She was a nymphomaniac which made her a prize above measure for men. At least three sat at Mrs. Barnes’ table during the meal. The first was a tall German gentleman with blond hair and impeccable manners. Wallis turned her head to eavesdrop on the conversation. She could not understand a word he said but she nearly swooned at the guttural tones emitting from his throat. A well-dressed young black man passed the table a couple of times. He wore a lovely white linen suit. Wallis could tell he was interested in talking to Mrs. Barnes but as long as the German sat there wooing her, he continued his exploration. Wallis felt it was an intelligent decision since interrupting the German could Start World War II in an inconvenient space.
After he seemed to give up the cause, the well-dressed black man left the dining car. Wallis could not help but follow his departure. Her attention quickly was drawn back to the Barnes table where she had shrieked something unintelligible, stood by table facing a sandy haired gentleman who had a slender frame. She decided the man had a certain élan which made him more fascinating than the German. Wallis was right. Within a few moments the German stalked away, allowing the remaining gentleman to sit, lean forward and begin whispering sweet nothings to the ambassador’s wife. Suddenly the thought struck her that Mrs. Barnes was the one with the diamonds. Who would be dumb enough to trust her with the stolen jewels? They parted and exited at opposite ends of the dining car. Wallis never saw the man’s face. All she could determine was that he carried himself as though he knew he was better than anyone around him and he was comfortable with that fact.
One of those three men would open Mrs. Barnes’ compartment door at midnight and drop a pouch of diamonds into her purse. Which one she did not know, nor cared. She looked at her watch. An hour before midnight. Wallis had time for a nightcap in the lounge car. When she entered she saw Ambassador Barnes in a corner with a group of men. Wallis sat close to them so she could hear their conversation.”
“This is my last one.” A man announced. “I am passed my bedtime.
“Oh God no,” Barnes slurred. “Please stay and be my excuse for returning late to my wife.”
“And why is that?” another man asked. “I thought your wife to be—“he paused awkwardly to come up with the right word “—sweet.”
“My God,” Barnes muttered, “that’s the bloody worst thing you could say about a woman. Heaven’s sake, she is. Sweet, that is. I want to wait until after midnight. Hopefully she will be asleep by then.”
That’s good. That way he won’t be in the middle of some messy political intrigue. She took her time sipping on two martinis until the clock neared midnight. As the hands of the clock were straight up, the Tanganyika rains returned. Sauntering out and into the sleeping car, she saw a compartment door open and a man’s arm, sans shirt, extended out with a small velvet pouch. As she walked by, she opened one of the wide pockets of her leopard skin coat and the pouch dropped in. She kept walking at an even pace and exited the sleeping car and, trying not to be pelted by rain, was about to enter the next when the door opened behind her and Wallis felt a power arm around her neck. Wind caught her broad brimmed black velvet hat and carried it out to the dark African countryside. The German looked around into her face and smiled.
“Herr Von Ribbentrop will be surprised to learn you were involved in this.”
Before he could say or do anything else, Wallis yanked her knife from her purse. The German went limp which gave Wallis a chance to twist around and cram the knife up under his ribcage. As the German fell, a crash of thunder accompanied a flash of lightning which revealed another knife was stuck in his temple. She quickly stepped aside and allowed the body to fall from the train and into the darkness. Wallis was surprised to see the black man in the nice white linen suit step forward. His right jacket sleeve was splattered by the German’s blood.
“I don’t believe in killing women,” he said in a Bahamian accent.
“I can take care of myself.” Wallis tried to figure out how to extract herself from the predicament without losing the diamonds.
“Don‘t worry. You can keep the jewels. I didn’t need the money from this job anyway.”
Wallis smiled and pursed her thin lips. “In that case, thank you.”