Chapter Thirty-Six of Angel Maker by Barry B. Wright: An Unexpected Visitor

Avenue Foch is one of the most prestigious locations in Paris. Located close to the Champs Elysees, its location provides easy access to bakeries, cafes, restaurants and superb shopping.

Using one of the riding trails as a footpath, Lynn and Melissa hurriedly made their way through the Bois de Boulogne. Lynn’s apartment sat near the edge of the park. Their route was criss-crossed by alleys canopied by chestnut trees against a background of ornamental lawns filled with the aroma and eye-candy from the plethora of exotic flowers and plants. Unfortunately, they had no time to appreciate this special kind of arboretum they travelled through.

When they stepped out onto Avenue Foch, Melissa stopped. She could no longer resist. Wide-eyed, she took in the palatial dwellings and lush verges and elegant chestnut trees which lined the Avenue.

The avenue was extraordinarily wide, one-hundred twenty meters, and Lynn was well into crossing it when she realized Melissa wasn’t with her. Glancing back, she understood Melissa’s awe and her need to take in the Avenue’s elegance. She, too, felt it each time she visited. But today was different. She returned and pulled Melissa along with her.

Once inside her apartment, Lynn drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly while she absorbed her surroundings. “It’s my little slice of heaven. But, I fear it may not be for long.”

“Are you referring to what happened at the Hotel Crillon or Daladier?”

“Both, really. For a while, there’s been a call for a good dose of authority in the Republic. And, Daladier delivered up last month by proroguing parliament. It’s unprecedented in peacetime.” Deep furrows began to form on her forehead. “He’s too cozy with the Munich bunch for my liking. Reinhold and his Nazi friends strutting around at the Hotel forebodes darker days sooner than later.” Briefly, she chewed on her thoughts. “How we enter Germany may have to change.” Escorting Melissa into the living room, she encouraged her to sit while she began to pace the floor.

“Do you really have to do that?” Melissa asked. But, it appeared Lynn did not hear her. “One-Zero-One-Two-Zero?”  she injected loudly with a smirk, assured it would capture her attention.

Lynn stopped. Her eyebrows pinched together at the bridge of her nose. “Okay, I’ll bite.”

“Reinhard’s SS number.”

“Why would you ever need to know that?” she asked in astonishment.

Melissa lit up her cigarette and, swinging her legs over the arm of the chair, dislodged her shoes from her feet. They flopped onto the lush carpet with a gentle thud. She purged the smoke through her nostrils. “Sometimes my penchant for knowing such things has made the difference between life and death.”

Lynn stared at Melissa long and hard. “Are we in one of those situations?”

She returned her enquiry with a matter-of-factly, who knows, sort of shrug. “Whereas in Berlin…it could very well be a different story.”

“I’m not sure I understand… unless…you think my meeting Reinhold has somehow compromised our mission.”

“Your guess is as good as mine.” Melissa bit down on her lower lip and glanced away. Swinging around, she sat upright in the chair. She needed time to think.

“My vote is never with those who say it can’t be done. You’ve known me long enough to know that. We’ll think our way around it and if need be through it. This mission shall be done.”

“Why don’t you open one of those expensive bottles of red wine from over there and then we’ll talk.” She watched while Lynn fastidiously perused the wine bottles behind the glass-fronted mahogany cabinet doors situated against the far wall.

When Lynn had finally chosen the bottle, and had popped out the cork, Melissa shivered in delight. “What a sweet sound to my ears.”

With her glass in hand, Melissa gently swirled the wine and enjoyed its nose before taking a sip. “Wow! This is yummy Bordeaux.” She lifted the bottle of Lafite-Rothschild from the coffee table between them and examined the label. She could feel Lynn’s stare boring a hole straight through her. “Nectar from the gods, surely, Lynn, you’re going to pour yourself a glass?” She quickly discerned that her jovial invite had fallen flat.

Lynn’s right eyebrow hoisted to full mast. “How the hell can you take what transpired at the Hotel Crillon so nonchalantly?”

Melissa shifted forward and placed her glass on the table. “Lynn, you know just as well as I that deception is the name of the game we’re playing in. Believe me, I’m not taking what happened lightly.” Silence met her ears. “But it does make our mission that much more dangerous. Don’t you agree?” Lynn sighed and nodded reluctantly. “That’s reassuring.”

“What’s reassuring?”

“That we’re on the same page.”

“Melissa, that has never been in question, at least, not in my mind.” She scrutinized her closely before finally pouring herself a glass of the Bordeaux. “I get it.” She slammed the bottle hard onto the coffee table. “Damn that Reinhold! It’s a goddamn SNAFU!” Limping Lady, the Gestapo’s nickname for her, invaded the swirling cauldron in her head. Exasperated, she stood up, her elbow knocking the phone onto the floor from the table beside her. “And damn it too!”  She marched to the window and peered out. “You do know we’ve been followed here.” She glanced back at Melissa, who nodded as she picked up the phone and returned it to the table. “I should have known as much. When?”

Melissa butted out her cigarette in the ashtray and crossed the room with her wine glass in hand to join her. “The moment we left the hotel. I thought you picked up on it, too.”

“Well…I didn’t. And, that bothers me.” Lynn returned to staring out her second story window at the plumpish, moustachioed man on the other side of the street leaning against the lamp post. “Strange.”

“What’s strange,” Melissa asked, taking a sip of wine from her glass.

“He makes no attempt to hide his presence.” Her eyebrows knitted together. “I wonder…” She crossed the room to the telephone. While she dialed, she strolled down the hallway toward the bedroom.

When Lynn returned, Melissa said with an askance glance, “You look rather pleased with yourself, what were you up to?”

“You’ll see. It shouldn’t take long.”

Ten minutes later, a Citroen pulled up and two men got out. They had a brief discussion with the moustachioed man and a scuffle ensued. One of the men then forced him into the back seat and climbed in after him while the other entered the driver’s side and drove off.

“Should I ask?” Melissa enquired unable to hide her astonishment.

“I’ll tell you while I’m changing. Right now, we’ve got to get our asses out of here.”

Melissa turned too quickly to follow Lynn and sent the remainder of her wine splashing across the front of her blouse. “Shit!”

“While you’re squeezing out the last few drops,” Lynn chortled, pretending to capture drips with her tongue, “I’ll find you a clean one.”

In the bedroom, Lynn handed Melissa a passport. “It’s time to put your make-up artistry to good use.”

“Pardon? I haven’t done that sort of thing since…”

“Good old Radcliffe College days.” Lynn interjected.

“What was the name of that play? It was an Agatha Christie play. I think it was her first.”

Black Coffee and you’re right it was her first.” Lynn pulled out a large black case from the closet and set it beside her make-up table. “Well you up to it?”

“Who’s… Madame Henriette D’Amboise?” Melissa asked, staring at the signature on the passport then the photo.

“Me,” replied Lynn. “That is, it will be me once you help me make the transition to her. By the way, there’s a clean blouse in the dresser, bottom drawer.”

“I would have chosen to be someone more fashionable instead of some crusty old bird,” Melissa said as she put on a clean blouse. “What do you want me to do with this?” She held up the wine stained blouse.

“Oh…just leave it on the bed. The crusty old bird idea was Pavel’s. He thought this was the better choice considering…” she tapped on her prosthetic. “We agreed that the Gestapo would more likely be looking for a young woman with a limp than an old woman with a cane. It was a role I expected to play exiting, not entering Germany. Reinhold changed that. So, this will be me for the duration of the mission.” She screwed up her face in disgust.

Time squeezed together like a closed fist as Melissa worked quickly and fastidiously to transform Lynn’s facial features.

“Finished! What do you think?”

“Get me the wig in the hat box on the shelf in the closet and I’ll tell you.” When she received it, she carefully adjusted it on her head, then strategically placed some pins to secure it in place. For a moment, she stared at the stranger staring back at her in the mirror. “Melissa…you haven’t lost your touch.”

“And you sound like The Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz.” With a chuckle, she pretended to shiver with the thought. “Maybe you can tone it down just a tiny bit?”

Lynn picked up Georges Duhamel’s Civilisation from the nightstand and read a passage. “Is that better?”

“Ah-Huh. Works for me.” She began to return the items to the make-up kit when she stopped. Scrutinizing Lynn, she asked: “Maybe I’m being a little too hasty…Did Pavel have something planned for me?”

Lynn smiled. “Nothing too drastic. Here, you can see for yourself.” She opened the drawer to her night table and pulled out the Bible. “Relax. It’s not what you think.” She opened it to the middle. In a shallow, hallowed-out section, a passport was snuggly in place. Teasing it from its enclosure, she passed it to Melissa.

Melissa pouted. “I look like a plain Jane.”

With time running short, Lynn chose to ignore her remark. “As you can see your new identity is Mademoiselle Pauline Auberjonois. You are my nurse and companion.”

“And a spinster.” Melissa stared at Lynn. “Both passports…are they from Pavel’s section in Paris?”

“I assume so, why?”

Melissa flicked her eyebrows. “How naïve of me to think that I was the only one Pavel took…photos…of….” Lynn’s face flushed. “At least some went beyond souvenirs.” She wagged the passport in the air.

“Sit down and wipe your face clean of make-up. I’ll get your uniform from the closet.” Turning, she began to cross the room when she heard a knock at the door. She signaled to Melissa to remain quiet. Tiptoeing out of the bedroom and down the hall to the front door, she peeked through the peep-hole. Bumping up against her, Melissa jockeyed for position. “Me too,” she whispered. Pushing Melissa aside she opened the door. “You are the last person I expected to see.”

“I thought you might need my help. Proximity makes everything work better.”

“Melissa, I’d like you to meet Mrs Elizabeth Stoddard, better known by the name Queenie.”

Advertisements

Chapter Thirty Four of Angel Maker by Barry B. Wright: Aunt Martha’s Tea Set

To say that Captain Friedrich Cole was not happy would have been an understatement.  Already two hours late leaving the Port of Liverpool, he paced the bridge of the SS Armagon. ‘The old man’ as he was called by his crew was a hardnosed veteran seafarer with a stickler for detail and for being on time. But, tonight, his orders were to wait. When he saw the truck with the Blue Funnel insignia on the dock coming towards him, he sighed a relief and galvanized his men into action. He had hand-picked his crew for tonight. No where near the full complement of crew, each man, nevertheless, was a seasoned sailor, knew his duty and the real reason for the voyage.

When the wooden crate had been hoisted up and placed in the hole, Captain Cole gave the orders to cast off. Once clear of the harbor, the ship went to FULL SPEED.

For a while Captain Cole remained on the bridge of his humble 7,250-ton merchant vessel as it ploughed a lonely course across the gentle Irish Sea toward Dublin. The partially full moon shone like a high-powered spotlight in a cloudless night sky, sparkling with stars. The rendezvous should be an easy one, the Captain mused, satisfyingly, when he left the bridge and headed to his cabin.

About to enter his cabin, his wireless operator, Wilhelm Scholtz, arrived breathlessly to hand him a cable. “Wilhelm, why are you always in a hurry? You’ll be amazed how much more life you’ll have time for if only you would slow down.”

Without replying, Wilhelm came to rigid attention and handed him the coded message. “Heil Hitler!”

“Yes…Heil Hitler,” returned Friedrich’s distracted, unenthused reply and salute. Completely absorbed in the cable, he entered his cabin and shut the door behind him. Sitting at his desk, he took out his code book and began to decipher the message.

When he had finished, he pulled out his Vauen pipe from the drawer and filled its bowl from a can of Edgeworth tobacco. Lighting it, he sat back in his chair and purged the smoke through his nostrils. “The devil does take a hand in what’s not thought out clearly or done in haste.” Furrows formed at the bridge of his nose as he shook his head in disbelief. “Stupid. Arrogantly stupid.” He made a quick mental calculation. There’s roughly 120 bags of mail. He glanced at his watch. There should be enough time. He called up to the bridge and told his First Officer, Helmut Schmidt, to choose five of his most trusted men to go to the mailroom. When asked “Why?” he replied that they would be searching for a slender green bag and any mail prominently labelled official communications. Once completed, the items were to be brought to his cabin. Hanging up the receiver, he poured himself a glass of schnapps and sat back to enjoy his drink and smoke. This has turned out to be a more profitable trip than expected, he thought raising his glass and downing its contents. Pouring another schnapps, he propped up the pillow on his bed and stretched himself out to wait.

At 4 a.m. the officer of the watch spotted a distant ship and the word went out to alert the ‘The Old man.’

Captain Cole was awakened by the acrid smell of smoke and banging at his door. His pipe had fallen from his mouth and the ash had begun to burn through the woolen blanket. In a litany of profanity, he frantically smothered the errant ash. Gathering himself together, he opened the door.

On the bridge, Captain Cole peered hard through his binoculars. The mail he had asked for was in his cabin but he was unable to discern whether the approaching ship was the rendezvous vessel or some nosey British Coastguard cruiser. On tenterhooks, he continued to observe it. Time slid by. The Irish Sea had become rougher. When the signal came, it came with much relief. Far too much was now at stake to be lost to happenstance. Leaving his First Officer in charge, he quickly returned to his cabin to retrieve the mailbag containing the pertinent materials he had asked for.

Once the crate and his men had transferred over to the armed merchant-cruiser, Berliner, Captain Cole gave his wireless operator, Wilhelm, the order to send the Mayday.

Standing on the deck of the Berliner, Captain Cole watched as the Berliner turned its 5.9-inch guns on the Armagon and fired.

Rudolf Steiner, the crusty, forty-five-year-old captain of the Berliner turned to Friedrich Cole with a questioning expression as he nodded towards the mailbag he was carrying.

“The contents of this mailbag…goes to a level of ineptitude that’s beyond comprehension…certainly mine.”

“I don’t understand,” replied Rudolf. “The floor safe in that crate was the only item I was told to secure. If it fell into the wrong hands it would have severely compromised German intelligence gathering in Britain by exposing OTTO.”

“I don’t know anything about this OTTO you refer to. But, I do know that in my hands I’m holding a mass of reports and correspondence destined for British military and intelligence outposts in Singapore, Shanghai and Hong Kong.”

Rudolf’s jaw dropped speechless.

“I had the same reaction, my friend.”

“How…?”

Friedrich waved him off.  And they watched in silence as the Armagon was dispatched to the bottom.

_________

When Louise was finally conscious, two days had passed since the incident at her house. She was surprised to find Inspector Collier by her bedside.

“What happened?” she asked.

“You gave yourself a nasty bump when you dove for cover.”

“Hard-headed Anna, that’s me.”

“Thank god there’s nothing in there to do damage to,” he chuckled.

“Watch it, Sandy Collier! Or I’ll give you a fat lip.” She tried to sit up but thought better of it.

Collier smiled. “That exchange tells me you’re on the mend.”

“I think so too,” came a voice behind him.

Turning, Collier greeted the doctor and the nurse. “I’ll just be outside in the corridor,” he assured Louise.

When he returned and regained his position on the chair beside her bed for a long while neither of them spoke. “Everything okay?” She nodded. “There’s something I need to ask you.” She rolled onto her side to face him. “Before the shots rang out you were coming out of the house waving something in your hand.”

She closed her eyes and tried to remember. Her head ached as she reached back to the moment. “Yes…now I remember. It was a freight receipt for my aunt Martha’s tea-set.”

“Why was the tea-set so important?”

“It was Irish Belleek china… Very expensive…It was supposed to be my heirloom,” she replied, indignantly.

“What am I missing in this conversation?” he asked, somewhat discombobulated.

“The floor-safe was included in that receipt.”

Part Twenty-Seven of Angel Maker: The Visit by Barry B. Wright

Ahead, twenty-nine Edgestone Road loomed. Once, its grounds had stood alone; reluctantly, over time, it had been forced into the lesser company of others. A caste within a framework of its own making, the grandiose dwelling’s pores had once oozed with majesty and pomp. Its lustre vanquished, the building’s chinked outer skin was now snarled in unkempt vine. The elites who had played, lived and eaten behind its walls would have become, for the most part, invisible scratches in footnotes to history had it not been for coin paying curious who walked in their past.

The Wolseley came to a stop in front of the museum. A woman who was weeding and planting in one of the front flower beds stopped what she was doing and looked up.

It had been a very long time since he had either spoken to or seen her. Still, Collier knew that the woman was her. Taking in a deep breath, he let it out slowly and sat back in his seat.

To say the surroundings had changed would have been an understatement. The long, winding, tree-lined drive to her home no longer existed. In its place was a residential neighbourhood packed with housing.

Collier had been aware of the financial short-falls that had short-circuited the rising star of the Moodie household. Except for the patch of land where the home stood, the City of Bournemouth had expropriated the remainder for an undisclosed amount.

Exuberant sounds of children from the nearby school grounds were refreshing to his ears as he exited the vehicle. There’s something soulfully cleansing and hopeful about their sound, he thought, while he waited for the others to join him.

“Inspector?”

“Ah? Yes, Captain Hall?” he replied, distracted. His gaze attended the route along which they had just travelled.

“Is there something wrong?” she enquired.

Collier’s reply was hesitant and thoughtful. “I hope not…but…I think we may have been followed. The car at the far corner, it parked shortly after we arrived and no one has exited.” The troubled expression on Captain Hall’s face forced him to look at her in an askance manner.

“Sorry, it’s not like me to mess up like this. Quite honestly, I did spot it when we exited the pub. But, I never much gave it thought,” she lied.

“Should I check it out, Gov?” Sergeant Snowden volunteered, moving in the direction of the vehicle.

Captain Hall’s outstretched hand stopped him. “I think it better we carry on with our business,” she interjected. “Don’t you agree, Inspector?”

“Can I assist you with anything?” Louise called out through the iron-rod fence. Tilting her head toward the sign on the gate she continued. “As you can read, we’re closed today.”

Collier glanced at Captain Hall and whispered. “Do you have any idea why Klaus Becker would have left the package here?” She shrugged. “We’re here on official business, Miss Moodie,” he shouted back before returning his attention to Captain Hall. “Don’t you think…considering the uninvited visitors…it might be wise to give me the rest of the code?”

“Planning for the worse, are you?”

“I recognize that voice. Official business, is it? And, what kind of official business would you be up after all these years, Sandy Collier?” chortled Louise, opening the gate and waiting for his arrival.

About to turn away, Captain Hall grabbed Collier’s arm. “The first five lockers touched only twice. That is, prime numbered lockers touched only twice.”

Collier smiled. “Got it. You don’t trust many, do you?”

“I don’t trust anyone?” she retorted with a cold stare. “The Sergeant here should stand guard.”

Collier nodded and he could see that the Sergeant agreed.

“Nothing’s changed,” commented Louise as she ushered them through the opened gate.

Astonished by her remark, Collier replied: “Louise, everything’s changed.”

“I meant…” Quickly, she dropped what she was about to say. “Follow me, then.” She led them along a path to a nicely appointed patio at the rear of the building and encouraged them to sit at one of the wicker seating ensembles that had an umbrella. “If the sun’s bothersome don’t hesitate, “she encouraged, indicating the closed umbrella. “I’ll tidy up and join you. I won’t be long.”

Collier watched her as she entered through a door that at one time only servants had used. Life takes curious twists and turns, he mused. He couldn’t deny, there was a part of him that wished he had stayed in touch. A tinge of sadness grabbed him when the door closed behind her.

Twenty minutes later she joined them carrying a tray of tea and goodies. She wore sandals and a flowered summer dress that rippled in the gentle breeze. This was in stark contrast to the boots, cover-all and headscarf under a wide rimmed hat she had worn earlier.

As she approached, the sun’s rays danced off the golden sheen in her freshly groomed hair. Barely a wrinkle creased the delicately formed features of her face. A pearl beaded necklace adorned her neck.

For a surreal moment, time stretched backwards for Collier. He could not take his eyes off her.

Placing the tray on the table in front of them, she sat in the wicker loveseat opposite. “I made those,” she said proudly, pointing to the cakes on the plate. “I guess a lot has changed, wouldn’t you say, Sandy?”

He smiled and nodded. “Gardening, too, I thought you’d be the last…”

“I know,” she interjected, “the last to be caught dead doing such a thing. Me too. But, my gardener got up and quit before Christmas.”

“Who was he? Maybe I can have a wee chat with him,” Collier replied. He could feel her eyes scrutinizing him.

“Your civility is insulting to me. And from what I know about you, and it’s quite a lot, demeaning to you. So, enough of your small talk, let’s get to why you are here,” she insisted. “You said earlier it was official business.”

Captain Hall, sensing Collier’s sudden discomfort, shifted forward in her chair and asked, “Klaus Becker, how do you know him?”

For a moment, Louise said nothing as her gaze shifted between them. “It’s best that I show you. Come inside.”

They followed her along a narrow hallway, past the washroom and bedroom, to an open area that contained both living-room and kitchen.

“Did you see where she went?” he asked.

Collier and Captain Hall glanced at each other in disbelief as they surveyed the room.

“I’d ask you to sit,” Louise called out, “but I think you’d need a map to find your way in and out of this labyrinth of furniture and what-nots. Stay where you are, I won’t be long.”

“I think…her voice came from somewhere over there,” Captain Hall chuckled, pointing in the direction she thought it came from. “Did you know she was a hoarder?”

“Not a sausage,” he replied. “I just hope you’ll have easy access to the vault.”

Louise’s hand appeared from behind a wall of mahogany furniture and Indian rugs waving some papers. “Got it!”

When she joined them, she handed Collier a dog-eared old photo. “As you can see that’s me and my brother, Reginald. Do you recognize the person beside him in uniform?”

Collier took the photo for closer scrutiny. Shaking his head, he handed it back.

“I’m not surprised. Quite dashing, don’t you think? I had a big crush on him, then. That’s Klaus Becker except I knew him as Peter Townsend. Before my brother, Reginald, passed away, he visited a lot. I guess that’s why Reginald did this.” She handed Collier a deed to the property in which Reginald had signed over ownership to Townsend. “The week before Klaus…I mean Peter…died in that explosion he signed it back to me.” She handed him the second document. “Now that surprised me. Mind you, our home had long since been turned into a museum and not much of the original property remained. As you can see,” she continued, sheepishly, “I attempted to save as much as I thought prudent to preserve the Moodie legacy.”

“Is there a vault or safe on your premises?” Collier enquired.

“In the museum section there is,” Louise replied. “Why?”

“Do you have access?” Captain Hall asked.

“Not to the safe but I do to the museum. It’s in the Co-ordinator’s Office. My key opens both.”

“Would you mind getting it and giving it to Captain Hall?”

A mischievous smirk appeared on her face and she said: “It’s right here tucked warmly and safely between my peaks.” She undid her necklace and handed the key over.

When Captain Hall left, Louise turned to Collier holding out her necklace. “Do you mind?”

“I’ve never been very good at doing this,” he said as he fumbled a few times before successfully placing it around her neck and closing the clasp.

“What happened to us?” she asked.

“Me. Lila. Everything. Do you remember telling me “focus on what you love doing, the rest will follow”?”

“I do. It was out on that patio in the loveseat where I was just sitting.”

“What I wanted to do wasn’t what you or your family wanted me to do.” He took her hands in his. “And, you didn’t see it. Or, didn’t want to see it. How could I have expected anything different?” He sighed and let go of her. “Like all youth, you were rebellious against your family. As was I against mine. We were just instruments in each others flight to independence. Our love…our infatuation…was its vehicle.” Movement outside the window distracted him. “Are you expecting someone?”

She shook her head.

Collier ran down the hall and outside onto the patio. Captain Hall’s voice yelled his name from inside the house. He had no time to react. The pain in his head was crippling. And he fell, uncontrollably, into a dark, inky deep well.

 

 

Part Twenty-Six of Angel Maker: The Berlin Connection by Barry B. Wright

Luftwaffe officer, Harro Schulze-Boysen had been a Soviet NKVD agent since 1935. In fact, it was he who had approached them through a contact to offer his services. No one within the Nazi echelon had any idea of his real political convictions. Known by the codename ‘Corporal,’ he became a highly-placed asset for Soviet Intelligence within the Goring Air Ministry. A gregarious personality, he easily befriended Hermann Goring, who was similar in nature. Soon after their initial meeting a close relationship began to develop. So much so that in 1936 Goring gave away the bride, Libertas Haas-Heye, at his wedding.

Well placed in Goring’s inner circle, Harro forged several contacts within army staff communications, among Abwehr officers, and with Hans Henniger, a government inspector of Luftwaffe equipment.

At about the same time Harro was recruited, Arvid Harnack, a senior civil servant in the economics ministry, was also recruited. He was given the code name ‘Corsican.’

The information flowing out of Berlin from Schulze-Boysen was at first slow and sporadic. Always suspicious, Lavrenti Beria, Stalin’s Head of the NKVD, scrupulously examined every detail of information sent by Harro for its authenticity.

Then, in the summer of 1938, Beria wrote a report for Hozyain, Stalin, on the extent and health of the forest of Soviet espionage networks in Germany. In that report, he particularly praised the Rote Kapelle and Schulze-Boysen/Harnack groups for their reliability, integrity and excellence in intelligence gathering and reporting. “The Red Orchestra,” he concluded, “is securely in place in Berlin.”

Attached to his report was a Department E typescript from the Geheime Staatspolizei, 8 Prinz Albrecht Street, Berlin. The document focused on security and counterintelligence in the Reich. In this three-page addendum, Beria highlighted, “…’limping lady’ actively engaged…subversion…resistance networks in Germany.” He also referenced, “…British Intelligence…thought to be American…”

Pavel Sudoplatov knew about Beria’s report through his good friend Richard Sorge who had just recently transferred from Berlin to Tokyo. He also knew that Captain Hall was likely the ‘limping lady’ mentioned in the Gestapo typescript.

Pavel lit up a cigarette and offered one to Anatoli, who took it. From their vantage point they had a clear view of Ringwood Pub. Their vehicle was situated far enough back so as not to arouse any obvious suspicion by either Captain Hall or Inspector Collier.

Two evenings ago, during dinner, Gunther Stein, a journalist, had presented him with a package from their mutual friend Sorge. Wrapped like a present, inside the ‘gift’ was a tie. Sewn into the tie, now worn by Pavel, was a coded message from Sorge to be delivered to Beria in Moscow. Gunter did not know the content of the coded message.

Over several drinks of Vodka, Gunter described a meeting he had with Harro Schulze-Boysen and his wife, Libertas, during a short stay in Berlin the previous week. According to them, the German foreign minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop, would sign a German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact in August with the Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov. Beyond that, he knew nothing further about the agreement.

Pavel cringed. Nevertheless, he thought Hozyain had made a wise decision. Since the purging of top military leadership, the Russian military was in disarray. Latest classified projections estimated Russia’s readiness for war with Germany to be sometime in either 1943 or 1944. This Pact would buy valuable time.

Two additional pieces of information shared by Gunter, troubled Pavel the most. The Japanese ambassador to Germany, Hiroshi Oshima, informed Hitler of Japan’s plan to test Soviet military strength on the Manchurian-Mongolian frontier. Confident of quick success, Hitler readily gave Oshima his blessing. It was agreed, though, that the attack would occur ahead of Ribbentrop’s visit to Moscow.

Pavel inhaled the cigarette smoke and purged it through his nostrils, his hand gently stroking his tie, while he reviewed the conversation. His brother was stationed in the Manchurian-Mongolian frontier under the leadership of Georgy Zhukov. And he feared for his well-being.

Pavel had already concluded that that was most likely the coded message hidden in his tie.

Now it makes sense, he mused. That’s why Anatoli is temporally taking over the operation here.

When Pavel had received the plane and train tickets, he felt no small degree of trepidation over his sudden recall to Moscow.

Before Gunter and he had departed that evening, Gunter asked him if he had ever heard of Operation Gleiwitz. To Pavel, Gleiwitz was nothing more than a location in upper Silesia, so he shrugged and told him he hadn’t.

“Well, when you do hear,” Gunter called back with slurred speech as he wobbled away, “I’ve been told it’s a false flag.”

Jarring him from his train of thought, Anatoli pointed in the direction of Ringwood Pub. Captain Hall, Inspector Collier and Sergeant Snowden had exited the tavern and were standing on the sidewalk engaged in a lively conversation.

Rolling down his window, Pavel flicked out his half-finished butt and encouraged Anatoli to do the same.

When Collier’s vehicle slowly left the curve-side and travelled down the street, they followed at an unobtrusive distance.

Pavel hoped that before boarding the plane to France that evening, he would have Otto’s identity in hand.

Who knows, he thought, perhaps Hozyain might decorate me, even give me a dacha for smashing this Nazi ring.

“What’s so funny?” Anatoli asked.

Pavel stared at Anatoli sternly. “Keep your eyes focused ahead and don’t lose them.”

Further back and out of sight, Werner Gruener followed them. His mission was to protect Otto’s identity at all cost.

 

END OF PART ONE: RIDING THE BACK OF THE HUNGRY OLD LION

Part Twenty-Five of Angel Maker: Facing A Hungry Old Lion by Barry B. Wright

Anger and resentment percolated inside him.

“Are you alright, Gov?” Sergeant Snowden asked, concerned, as he glanced at the Inspector in the rear-view mirror.

How do I answer him? Collier mused. Life had suddenly become more complicated. And, he felt its unwelcome weight squarely on his shoulders. Mustering up a smile, phoney though he knew it was, he nodded and returned to his thoughts.

The inside pocket of his jacket contained the blurred photo of Werner Gruener which Captain Hall had given him and two sketches. One drawing was based on the description provided by the train baggage handler and the other an attempt by Andre Bertillon, his forensic artist, to capture Werner’s present appearance sans disguise.

The murder of the three Russian agents in their vehicle on his street earlier that morning had unsettled him. It was too close to home. He cringed with the thought that if it had occurred two hours later, innocent children on their way to school could have been caught in the cross fire. Now, he feared that Lila’s life could be in danger.

He glanced at the headline of The Echo lying on Captain Hall’s lap and cracked a meagre smile: ‘Queenie Found Murdered. He hoped this ruse worked. Time was at a premium. The lives of his son, Richard, and Elsa, his finance, and her family depended on everything proceeding according to plan. Captain Hall’s game plan had missing pieces. And that haunted him. Though she had ensured him that the children in Elsa’s family would soon be delivered safely out of Germany to Bournemouth via kindertransport, her silence on the remainder had left him with a deeply sickening feeling. He felt the vehicle slowing down as Ringwood Pub came into view. A cold sweat glistened on his forehead. Flashbacks to the horrific events in the trenches hammered at the door to his mind. He felt queasy. It had been more than two years since he last fell off the wagon. And, the gift of sobriety was a clarity he had no intention of losing. The pub’s owner and many of its patrons shared an untellable nightmare he could not and would not revisit. He felt Captain Hall’s hand press gently on his forearm.

The past, he thought, is indeed like a hungry old lion. You can ride its back only so long before it decides to eat you. Maybe it’s my day to be eaten.

Closing his eyes, he took in several deep breaths before wiping his brow clear with his handkerchief. Then, after a reassuring glance at Captain Hall, he focused ahead.

Many of the pub’s patrons earned their drink money by doing odd jobs throughout Bournemouth. And, as a result, he thought that there was a very good likelihood that someone would recognize Werner from either the photo or sketches. The truth was that he wanted to delay the next stage of today’s agenda.

When the vehicle stopped, he stepped out onto the sidewalk. The sun felt good against his face. While he waited for Captain Hall and Sergeant Snowden to join him, he felt a growing confidence that he had the mettle to face whatever lay beyond the pub’s doors.

Twenty-Nine Edgestone Road, the next leg on today’s roster, was high up on his never to visit again list. Suzanne Moodie, who still lived at that address, was someone over the years that he had scrupulously managed to avoid. And, in Bournemouth, that was not an easy task to accomplish. But, Klaus Becker’s clandestine message necessitated that Captain Hall and he make that visit. Unfortunately, from his point of view, Captain Hall had still not divulged to him the critical piece in Klaus’s puzzle, namely the words that would identify the combination to the vault. And that troubled him.

“Captain?” he said with a smile when she joined him. “I have a question to ask you before we go in.”

“Shoot.” She replied.

“That puzzle of Becker’s…I’ve worked out that ten lockers remained open…but…I don’t know the words in each.” She nodded matter-of-factly. “Well…Are you going to share?” he asked, not hiding his disgruntlement.

“In time, Inspector” Her attention turned to reconnoitring the street before her gaze returned to Collier. “But, right now, first things first.”

Briefly, Collier thought of pushing the issue but her demeanor told him otherwise.

“Is there a problem, Captain Hall?” asked Sergeant Snowden.

“Why are you asking?”

“Well…it’s just…that you appear… preoccupied…tense.”

She scratched the back of her ear and shrugged. “I get a sense we’re being watched.”

“We are,” chortled Snowden, thumbing over his shoulder to the pub’s window. Quentin Hogg’s fleshy nose was pressed against the window like a sausage patty while his face went through numerous contortions. Hovering above him were Jock Mahoney and Patrick O’Grady performing rude gesticulations.

Sergeant Snowden inserted himself to block Captain Hall’s line of vision to the errant behaviour in the pub window. His profuse apologies being quickly silenced by the wave of her hand as she motioned toward the door.

“Captain!” Collier called out, “You can’t go in.”

Confused, she asked, “Why not?”

An uncomfortable state of awkwardness began to wash over him as he attempted to release the words. “You’re…a…woman and…women aren’t…” His words quickly evaporated. He realized that he had just said something comparable to holding up a red flag to a bull. The only word that speared his mind repeatedly like a broken record was the word “SHIT.” This was a serious brain burp that had no resemblance to what he intended to say.

Her eyebrow raised in defiance while her tone remained calm, she replied: “I see.”

An uneasy silence slammed down between them like a lead curtain.

Finally, Collier managed to eke out an attempt to correct his infraction. “What I was trying to say was that the Sergeant and I have a history with those men inside…a very personal one that has been shaped by war. Your presence might upset the applecart. That’s why I’m asking you to stay outside while we conduct our business with them.” Briefly, he held his breath waiting for her answer. He knew she could see right through his little scam.

“I can accept that…for the moment,” she replied, nodding her head.

Once they had entered, she began to count off sixty seconds on her wrist watch. The beeping of a car horn momentarily distracted her. When her moment was up, she entered the pub.

Part Twenty-Four of Angel Maker: Ringwood Pub by Barry B. Wright

The afternoon edition of The Echo’s banner headline blared out at him:

‘Queenie’ Found Murdered

“Your ‘boat,’ Jock,” chortled Quentin Hogg, observing Jock’s facial expression from the end of the bar. Quentin turned and alerted the others to take notice.

Nothing about Jock Mahoney was small. He was massive in everyway. His eyes were piercing and intelligent on a canvass shaped by an earlier life in bare-knuckle boxing.

“What about it?!” growled Jock, owner of the Ringwood Pub, taking up his position behind the bar and still immersed in reading the front page of the paper.

“It looks like it’s been to the ‘deadly nevergreen’ and back, don’t it boys?”

Low muffled “ayes” and nods to the reference of “gallows” rumbled in unison from the patrons.

“Cheese it!” Jock bellowed as he slammed The Echo down. The room went still. “Now that you’ve stopped your ‘cackle,’ get off your ‘bottle and glass’ and gather round.” He pointed at the headline. “Read and weep. Crime’s takin’ us over, boys. Our Bournemouth’s goin’ to hell in a handbasket.”

The cook, Patrick O’Grady, a burly red-faced man, emerged from along the hallway that led to the kitchen. Above his shoulder, he carried a large circular brown tray. On it was a traditional full British breakfast of bacon, sausages, black pudding, hash browns, bubble and squeak, baked beans, fried tomatoes and mushrooms, scrambled eggs and coffee. Patrick placed the heavy load on an empty table and served the customer. Once he was satisfied that all was well, he joined the others.

Pavel Sudoplatov placed some bacon and a section of scrambled egg on a slice of his toast as he listened to the men gathered at the bar. As he ate, his trained eyes slowly scanned each nook and cranny of the tavern.

“She was no straight-cut, Jock. She got what she deserved.” Phil piped in making no bones about hiding his malice toward ‘Queenie.’

“She did, did she? And the two children too?” retorted Patrick.

On either side of the main entrance, tables and chairs each fronted a large window. Deep seated booths lined the side and back walls. Opposite the long wall of booths, the bar stretched from the front to the hallway opposite Pavel. Freedom of movement in front of the bar was afforded by an open space that was free of tables and chairs, while sawdust on the floor’s surface ensured an easier cleanup following the usual assortment of patron mishaps.

Three-quarters of the pub’s area was cast in a grey hue. Pavel thought that a mirror positioned behind the bar could have made better use of the natural light that flooded through the front windows. Though from his vantage point, the resulting shadow casted him in the proper light.

The darkened hallway opposite him, narrowed considerably by a variety of boxes precariously stacked to the ceiling along one side, led to the exit, washroom and kitchen. At the corner to this passageway was the sign: Wobbling Topples, Keep Your Wee Johnny in Line. Scrawled above Johnny, which had been crossed out, was Wee. Below the sign was a bucket of soapy water with a mop in it.

Patrick noticed Phil purloining Quentin Hogg’s whiskey glass and downing its contents. “You fockin’ burarco.” And he shoved Phil. “Guard your drinks boys,” he warned, his index finger pointing downwards and hovering above Phil’s head.

Quentin noticed his whiskey glass was empty and, clearly understanding Patrick’s siren complaint, turned to pummel Phil.

Jock stretched his muscular arm across the counter and grabbed Quentin by the shirt. “Pull back, Quentin, if you want two on the house.” Assured he had Quentin under control, he locked eyes with Phil. “Get the fock out! Now!”

Phil stumbled back, raised his hand to contend his forced expulsion, quickly thought better of it, and exited.

“Is he ever sober?” Patrick asked rhetorically, turning his attention to The Echo unfazed by what had just occurred.

“Uh?” Jock replied, distracted as he filled two whiskey glasses and placed them in front of Quentin.

“No matter. Here, did you see this, Jock? Three ‘bolshie’ murdered in their car. Shooter at large. Isn’t ‘tat on the same street where the Inspector lives?”

Shocked by this news, Pavel’s ears perked up and he stopped eating.

“Aye, so it is,” replied Quentin and Jock in unison as the others pressed in to read the article.

Pavel had no doubts that this was retribution for the explosion that killed Klaus Becker at the Cricketer’s Arms. His mind churned as he rethought his options. Now, only he and Anatoli remained. He noticed a black Wolseley pulling up outside. Reflexively, his hand pressed against the .32 automatic in his jacket. Dropping a guinea on the table, he surreptitiously slid out of his booth and along the hallway to the exit.

The sun’s brightness momentarily blinded him. Teary streams smeared his cheeks as he eased along the wall toward the sidewalk. Wiping his eyes clear with his shirt sleeves, he peered around the corner. Sergeant Snowden and Inspector Collier were waiting for Captain Hall to exit the Wolseley. After she joined them, a brief discussion ensued before they entered the pub.

Wishing he had overheard their conversation, Pavel earnestly began to scan the largely vacant street for Anatoli’s vehicle. He must have followed them, he mused. Unless he too…His eye twitched in a rare display of nervousness. He shook off the thought. But, where is he? A horn beeped. Too preoccupied in his surveillance, he ignored it. But, when two halting beeps followed in succession, it gathered his attention.