[button link="www.fictionade.com/dirtyblonde" newwindow="yes"] Read Part 1 of this Series[/button]
[button link="www.fictionade.com/dirtyblonde2" newwindow="yes"] Read Part 2 of this Series[/button]
[button link="www.fictionade.com/dirtyblonde3" newwindow="yes"] Read Part 3 of this Series[/button]
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Stefan waited impatiently in front of the elevators. A door opened and Jan exited. “What did he say?”
“He said he can’t meet today, but that he’ll try to squeeze us in this weekend sometime.”
Jan’s face grew irritated. “So now Mr. Choo is dictating events.”
“What do you want to do?”
Jan closed his eyes and ran his hand over his forehead. “First I would like to get a Cognac, and then I think we should pay a call to Ms. Burkhardt.”
Frank stood behind his desk picking up papers and putting them in the manila envelope. Rafiq walked by, banged his hands on the door, grinned broadly at Frank and pointed at him as he passed by.
“Frankie boy! Monday, baby!”
The secretary entered the room, still looking down at her stack of papers, handed Frank one and addressed him.
“Here, the board wanted you to go over this. Oh, and they’ve arranged for a bike messenger to deliver the signed papers. There’ll be a boy here at 8 a.m. Monday morning.”
Frank put the last of his papers away and started to leave the office when the secretary handed him a slip of paper.
“I almost forgot. Some extra from The Big Sleep wanted me to give this to you before you left.”
Frank stopped and took the note.
“The Big Sleep?”[restrict userlevel="subscriber"]
The secretary looked up from her papers, gave Frank a once-over and then looked back down at her papers as she left the room.
“Might have been the Maltese Falcon.”
Frank opened the note and read it.
You know the Wells Fargo downtown with the stagecoach
in the lobby? Take a gander at the building next door. You
find something odd about it, call me on my cells at
Montgomery 456 and we’ll have a talk.
Frank crumpled the note and threw it in the trashcan as he exited the office, mumbling to himself.
Frank walked up to the Wells Fargo, looked disinterestedly at the stagecoach in the lobby and slowly walked towards the next building. He looked at the gold-colored placard bolted to the side of the wall saying SWISS CONSULATE GENERAL and then froze as he looked at the address carved into the grey stone above the doors; 456 MONTGOMERY.
Frank backed up, still reading the address and then headed down the street. He stopped at the light on the corner and looked down at the manila folder. Sid was leaning against the building behind him.
“Nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus.”
Frank looked behind him, and then turned back, shaking his head and muttering in exasperation. “How come every time I run into you I want to go ‘Dun, dun…DUN!’”
“The three most common chemicals in fertilizer. Not that that is some big secret. Hell, even a schmuck like me knows that.”
Frank turned back to Sid. “Why are you still following me?”
“But what IS interesting is why people who sit on the boards of some of the biggest chemical, manufacturing, engineering and insurance firms in Switzerland and Germany would be so interested in fertilizer.”
“Martin Lehmann, Stefan Vogel, Jan Trinkl and Christian Keller are men of great interests, but this doesn’t seem like it’d be one of them to me,” Sid said, looking Frank up and down. “Caviar’s more their line.”
“Did Vanna tell you this?”
“Vanna plays like she doesn’t know anything about anything, and maybe she doesn’t, but I wouldn’t lay any green on it. Would you?”
“Okay, maybe I shouldn’t have said anything to her, but you know how couples are, they talk…and, well, things have gotten quite serious between her and I recently…”
Sid looked down at his wing tipped shoes. “Pretty fast work in three months.”
“How did you know…?”
“That’s when she first got here, right? Out of the Swiss Consulate, right to a fancy P.R. job that had ties to your firm and straight into your arms. Quite a coincidence considering when you were first given that manila folder.”
“I don’t think I care for your insinuations…”
“Know what the annual budget for Research and Development is for Germany’s largest manufacturing company? 150 million bucks. Chemical and engineering vary, but only slightly, if you’re talking millions.”
“I don’t see what this has to do with…”
“And Insurance? They don’t even have a budget for that. Those little scribbles, all parentheses and numbers you’ve got in that folder? Cost over two billion dollars to write them all down. That’s more than the net worth of any of those companies.”
Frank grabbed Sid by the elbow and led him down an alley.
“We shouldn’t be talking about this on the street.” Frank came to a stop and faced Sid. “Vanna doesn’t know all this. How did you…?”
“Yeah, let’s make believe she doesn’t,” Sid said, lighting a cigarette. “But where could these companies come up with that kind of dough? In this recession. And without anyone blabbing? Who has that kind of money laying around that no one would notice if it were, say, borrowed, for a time?”
“It’s not my job to know the finances…”
“Dead Jews,” Sid said sharply, exhaling a cloud of smoke. “Hell, even all the Nazis who greased ‘em and hid their money are dead too. So, borrow this money not being put to use out of Swiss accounts, pay it back with interest once the profits start rolling in, everyone’s happy.”
Frank folded his arms across his chest.
“That’s quite a theory, Mr. Cummings. Come up with that all by yourself?”
Sid shook his head. “No. I had some help. Seems your little Kraut playmates aren’t working alone. Had a talk with one of their Axis comrades this morning. Apparently this Jap has gotten distribution rights to the little party in your folder for all of Asia and half of Africa.”
Frank pointed at his folder. “If this works, it’ll be one of the greatest humanitarian achievements of all time.”
“Sure,” Sid said, mockingly nodding his head. “Genetically modified compounds…distributed in Third World countries, it’ll turn deserts into breadbaskets.”
“That’s right. We can end world hunger, dramatically change economic imbalances on a global scale…”
Sid threw his cigarette to the ground.
“Then why aren’t your little National Socialist buddies working on their speeches for Stockholm? Why are they hiding under rocks? Why are they selling off distribution rights? Why are they setting up offshore dummy companies in the Cayman Islands to launder the profits? Why are they distancing themselves as much as possible from this? Why are they going through YOU?”
Frank opened his mouth to speak, but hesitated and then just looked at Sid. Sid looked down at his shoes.
“Yeah,” he said quietly. “Think it over Franklin.” Sid turned to leave, momentarily looking at Frank’s face. “When you’re ready to talk, you know where I’ll be.”
Angela waited anxiously on the sidewalk in front of Union Square. She smiled, seeing Sid approach.
“How did it go?” she asked, cheerfully.
“Somewhere between fubar and snafu.”
“Oh,” she said, her face dropping. “Is that bad?”
“Well…we’re not going to Top of the Mark. Let’s put it that way.”
Angela smiled timidly.
“Oh, I don’t care where we go, Sid, as long as it’s toge…”
“Lefty O’Doul’s alright with you, Angel-A?”
“Lefty’s is fine,” she said quietly.
The two begin walking. Angela reached into her purse.
“I got you something Sid.”
“A phone,” she said, holding out a small black cell phone.
“I went to the Metro PCS store. It’s fully loaded. 4G, camera, internet, GPS, and I paid for the whole month so you can text or call as much as you want.”
Sid stopped, took the phone and looked at it curiously as Angela alternated between nervously wringing her hands and pointing at the phone.
“I wasn’t sure what ring tone you’d like, so I downloaded some for you, or you can just leave it on vibrate, you know, whatever. I went ahead and added all my contact info. Phone number, email, Twitter, Facebook, Google +, so, anytime you want to reach me, for anything really, just press a button, and there I am,” she said, the smile leaving her face. “Anytime.”
Sid pressed a button on the phone, as Angela hesitantly leaned in to kiss him. Sid recoiled in surprise as the phone did something, and Angela moved back, nervously nodding her head and covering her mouth with a shaking hand.
“That is some Dick Tracy stuff right there.”
Sid leaned over and kissed her on the cheekbone. Angela’s eyes closed, her mouth opened and she stopped shaking. Sid put the phone in his front pants pocket.
Angela opened her eyes and saw that Sid was walking away. She quickly followed after him.
Vanna got up from her desk, walked over to the door and closed it.
“That’s not my problem.”
“On the contrary. This is very much your problem,” Jan contradicted her.
“And could continue to be, regardless of the outcome,” Stefan added.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
Jan began pacing the room.
“There are elements involved that are unhappy with the progress in this matter and in particular, your performance.”
Stefan smiled at her. “One would think with the, assets, at your disposal we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”
Jan came to a halt in the middle of the room.
“Herr Lehmann and yourself have been given free license to proceed as you saw fit. The results have been less than satisfactory. If this endeavor fails, changes will be made, new men will fill the top positions and those responsible will be held accountable.”
Vanna walked brusquely towards the door and opened it.
“You will excuse me gentlemen if the veiled threats and fantasies of a group of scheming middle managers doesn’t frighten me. My interests lay a little higher up.”
Jan abruptly left the room.
“As you wish Ms. Burkhardt. You have been warned.”
Stefan stopped in front of Vanna in the doorway and needlessly fixed his tie.
“It may be time for you to align yourself with this new order.”
Stefan and Jan exited the office building and headed down the street. Detective Epstein left his car and followed them.
Sid stepped out of the light of the street lamp and walked towards Vanna’s apartment building holding a bouquet of flowers in his hand. He stopped across the street as he saw Rafiq exit the building and head in the opposite direction, fixing his tie. Vanna exited the building a few seconds later, got in her car and drove away. Sid hailed a taxi and entered it.
Sid exited the taxi on top of Telegraph Hill and headed down the darkened Filbert Steps. He crouched by the shrubbery when the lights from a house came on. He peered through the sliding glass windows and saw Vanna enter the living room from a hallway and throw her purse on the sofa. She began fixing herself a drink and then turned towards the hallway. Dr. Christian Keller entered the room.
Vanna ran to him and embraced him.
“I don’t have much time. I’ve got to get back to work,” she said, looking up at him.
Dr. Keller tilted his head down and kissed her lightly; Vanna returned the kiss passionately. Sid turned away from the scene and began heading down the steps.
“Well that was cute.”
Sid suddenly began jerking violently and nearly fell down the stairs. He danced awkwardly for a few steps before finally succeeding in removing the vibrating cell phone from his pants front pocket. He pressed a button and brought the phone to his ear.
“Hello?” said asked, warily.
“Hey, it’s me, Angela. I was wondering if you wanted to get a cup of coffee or something.”
Sid looked about himself, shaking slightly.
“Sure, but…how did you know I was ticklish right there?”
Frank sat at the kitchen table, an untouched bottle of Beck’s beer beside him, as he read the contents of his manila envelope. Vanna was leaning against the stove, flipping through a copy of Brides Magazine and popping chocolate covered cherries in her mouth.
“Monday afternoon we could drive up to Point Reyes for a couple of days, rent a cabin…Oh! Look at this one!” she said, holding the magazine for Frank to see. “Isn’t it cute?”
Frank continued to read from his envelope.
“A wedding dress mini. I wonder if you can get this in black? If I order this tonight, it should be here by the time we get back from Zurich…”
Vanna flipped through the magazine quickly.
“I don’t see the order guide for colors.”
She put the magazine down and opened her laptop.
“Maybe it’s online…”
Frank stood up and checked his pants pocket for his keys.
“You’re 42, right?”
“What?” Frank asked, finally looking at her.
“Size 42. I might as well order your tuxedo too.”
Frank headed towards the door.
Vanna closed her laptop.
“Where you going, liebshen?”
Frank opened the apartment door.
“Nowhere, just gonna stretch my legs for a bit.”
Vanna left the stove, walked over to Frank and kissed him passionately. She giggled and wiped the chocolate from his lips.
“Don’t be long?”
Frank shook his head no and closed the door. The smile left Vanna’s face.
Sid entered Lefty O’Doul’s and looked around as he makes his way to the bar. The bartender started towards him and Sid pointed his ring, middle and index fingers side wards and then pointed his index and middle fingers upwards. The bartender nodded and grabbed two rocks glasses and filled them with whiskey. Sid hummed while he waited and continued to scan the room. The bartender placed the drinks in front of Sid, who immediately downed the first one in one gulp.
“You buying one of those for Louise?” the bartender asked.
“You know, the redhead.”
Sid picked up the other glass and began sipping from it as he turned around to continue scanning the bar.
“Is she here?”
Sid finished his drink, placed the glass on the bar and turned to the bartender.
“Hey, Jackson. Where’s the can?”
The bartender motioned with his head to his right.
“Down the stairs.”
Sid flipped two twenties on the bar and walked towards the stairs.
Sid headed down the stairs and stopped as the redheaded cocktail waitress exited the women’s room in her street clothes and began walking up the stairs.
“Hey, Red. Where you off to?”
“Goin’ dancing. Wanna come?”
Sid smiled and lit a cigarette.
“Some other time.”
“When exactly does some other time ever happen?”
She took the cigarette from his hands and seductively took a drag off it.
“Bogie? You ever get the urge to just get away where no one will ever hear from you again?” she asked, handing the cigarette back to Sid.
“Sure, kid. I’m just like anybody else.”
Sid took a drag.
“All the time.”
The waitress moved up a step to stand directly beside Sid. She grabbed the lapels of his suit jacket and stared hard into his tie.
“I’ll be at the Powell Street BART station at 2 o’clock Monday afternoon.”
She looked up into Sid’s eyes.
“At 2:10 I won’t be there any longer.”
She smiled a sad smile, smoothed out his lapels, turned and sashayed up the stairs as Sid watched her back. He turned and headed down the stairs towards the men’s room, whistling a low whistle.
Sid stepped out into the foggy night, pulled a cigarette out of his suit jacket pocket and sighed. He began patting his jacket, looking for a match. The sound of a match being struck had Sid look up. Frank walked towards him with a lit wooden match.
“Hey, buddy. You need a match?”
Sid leaned forward to light his cigarette, but his eyes never left Frank’s.
“Kinda late for you, isn’t it?”
“I’ve been doing some thinking.”
“Best kind of exercise there is.”
The two began walking down the street. Frank stared ahead down the street.
“You’ve given me a…different perspective. But I…well…maybe now I need some answers from you.”
Frank looked at Sid.
“I don’t know how you know what you know, or why you’re picking on me…but maybe there’s something in the…coincidences…or whatever…”
Sid looked down at his wing tipped shoes.
“A debt owed.”
The two headed right onto Powell Street and began walking towards Market Street.
“What are you talking about? You don’t owe me anything.”
“Maybe not. To you. Directly.”
“Your grandfather was my friend,” Sid said. “My best friend.”
He exhaled a cloud of smoke quickly.
“And I didn’t save him. He died because I wasn’t fast enough. Maybe that’s why I’m here. I couldn’t save him, but I sure as shit am gonna try and save you.”
Frank shook his head.
“You’ve got the most cock and bull story I’ve ever heard, but I’ve never seen someone so…earnest…so adamant…”
Sid’s eyes squinted as he looked in front of him.
“I’ve given you the crop Franklin. Cut to the chase.”
Frank stopped suddenly in front of the cable car turn-around and faced Sid.
“What is it, exactly, that you think happened the night before you met me?”
Sid removed a fresh cigarette and lit it from his last. He pushed his hat to the back of his head and began walking slowly, looking off into the distance.
“It was a foggy night. The air hung close and heavy. Wet, tangible and crisp. Like the lingering memory of a lost lover’s kiss…”
Frank turned and looked at Sid askance.
“The usual crowd gathered downtown upon the slick, broken slate; a menagerie of broken souls and displaced hearts, wandering aimlessly to the beat of a smacked-out jazz hound. But what these saps didn’t realize is that his machine gun tempo wasn’t the heralding of a new age, it was merely a cheap junkie’s trick to get off stage sooner to score another fix.”
A yellow train car from the 1940’S lumbered down Market Street in front of them. A spark from the electric wires overhead changed the street scene to 1945 as it passed by them. Frank stared in wonder at the bevy of World War Two nurses, sailors and soldiers crowding the street. Sid was shouldering disinterestedly through the throng of military personnel and be-hatted civilians.
“I’d gotten a message to meet your grandfather at 10:15,” Sid said, checking his wristwatch. “And when Franklin said 10:15, he didn’t mean 10:20. I was anxious to learn the rumble. He’d just had a meeting with Lena…”
Frank jogged after Sid.
Sid answered him sharply.
“A Swiss Op., a double agent. But when she was on your side, brother, was she on your side.”
Sid stopped at a traffic light. Frank caught up to him. Sid looked hard at Frank.
“You know the type?”
Frank looked away and then down at his shoes.
“Now Lena had, shall we say, ‘gained’ the confidence of the Big Kraut…”
“The Big Kraut?”
The light changed and Sid headed across the street.
“I don’t know his name. But he was the muscle for a particularly unsavory gent who ran a little dentistry practice near the docks that no one ever seemed to go in or out of named Keller. Henry Keller. Except that wasn’t really his handle, he’d changed it back in ’39. His real name was Heinrich Weinkeller. DOCTOR Heinrich Weinkeller. Franklin had been able to trace the money as far as Weinkeller, but ever since the German surrender, he’d vanished. There’s Franklin.”
Frank looked up to see his thirty-year-old grandfather, Franklin Austin, kicking himself off the building he was leaning against and throw his cigarette to the ground. He was sporting a moustache and dressed in a Zoot Suit. His grandfather checked his watch and then looked at Sid.
“It’s 10:17, Sidney. Where ya been?”
“Cutting a rug with that new ducky shincracker I told you about. Boy, can she wail. But I’m here now Austin, so it’s all silk.”
Franklin’s face stretched into a wide smile. He began laughing.
“What’s so funny?” Sid demanded.
“You can’t do it!” Franklin said.
Frank smiled as Sid cast an embarrassed side wards look at him.
“Okay, here’s the skinny,” Franklin said. “Lena says the Big Kraut, Weinkeller and the gang are holed up at Illinois and 22nd. That’s in Dogpatch. You know it?”
Sid held out his right hand horizontally and shook it back and forth.
“It’s down by Pier 70. At the back of the building is a nailed up door. Lena says she’s pried enough of the nails so that they won’t notice, but you can get in. We’ll be inside waiting for you.”
Sid gave Franklin a dubious look.
“I suppose these Krauts won’t bark when a negro just strolls in with a double agent…”
“They’ve been holed up in that place for a week without running water.”
“So?” asked Sid, dismissively.
Franklin produced a giant wrench.
“I’m the plumber.”
Sid pushed his hat to the back of his head and grinned.
“Give me two hours,” Franklin explained. “I’ll need you inside that building at quarter past twelve. I won’t be able to stall them any longer than that. When you hear running water, pull that pistol and come running.”
“Not 12:20, or 12:17, Sidney. 12:15.”
Sid looked down at the ground and nodded. Franklin nonchalantly saluted Sid with one finger from his right hand, as Frank watched his grandfather walk away.
“Why were you two so interested in this Keller guy?”
“Dr. Weinkeller was in contact with all the elites they hadn’t caught yet. Not the big politicos, but the specialists from Peenemunde, the death’s heads hiding out around Berchtesgaden, all the Nazi scientists who had been working on the wonder weapons.”
Like shattering glass, the façade of 1945 came crashing to the ground. Frank stopped and looked hard at Sid.
“Nazi scientists,” Frank said, dispassionately.
Frank let out a sigh of exasperation.
“Some disgraced Luftwaffe Colonel had been skimming money off other projects for years; jets, V-3’s, atomic bomb research, and put it in this fund to develop a teleportation device. They’re planning to send an elite SS death’s head squad to blow up the U.N.”
Frank’s face was expressionless.
“You say they’re going to send Nazis from Bavaria to San Francisco…”
“…To blow up the U.N.…”
“…Which is in New York…”
“They’re going to sign the U.N. Charter at the War Memorial on Van Ness Monday afternoon. The representatives of 30 Allied Nations will be there. I saw President Truman on Market Street last week.”
Frank’s face softened.
“I guess they did sign that here…but Germany had already surrendered, why would they want to…?”
“When the Ruskies came from the east and the Allies from the west, and they knew the war was lost, Hitler gave orders to destroy everything, in his words, ‘To take the world down with us.’ They called it ‘Scorched Earth.’ This would be the logical Nazi conclusion to that order.”
Frank raised his eyebrows.
“Well Mr. Cummings. Everything you just said, except for the Nazis and Harry Truman, is still here. What about that?”
Sid flicked his cigarette to the curb and walked away.
“It’s not Monday yet, is it?”[/restrict]
[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://www.fictionade.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Sven-Anarki.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Sven Anarki was born in Maine in 1967 and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. His first book, 2002’s “Driving with Shannon” dealt with the early-1980’s American hardcore punk scene, and was described by Maximum RockNRoll magazine as, “stunning in his ingenuity and insight… (often with disgusting painfulness).” In addition to writing works of short fiction, he is also a screenwriter; with projects as diverse as Edgar Allan Poe, the Blitz on London, Sitting Bull and Bette Davis. His Oakland-based band, “Ani DiFranco’s Dick” was reviewed as the “10th-Best Performance” at Houston’s 2011 “Free Press Summerfest” music festival.[/author_info] [/author]