Invisible Enemy

A Short Story by Ernest N.Whitenack


Erich Graff backed his Mercedes out of the garage but he was not looking forward to his drive at all. He was nervous and frightened. What he was planning could end in summary execution should he not be able to pull it off. To say the least, defection is frowned upon. His only hope was to make contact with the right people and get the whole thing settled before he had to report to Stallman, or Stallman contacted him.

Graff continued to worry and imagined every scenario that could possibly happen in Mittenwald.

“This is foolish”, he said to himself and turned on the car radio.

He found a broadcast of a lively Polka band and increased the volume hoping to get his mind off what might happen. It didn’t help and he turned the radio off and tried to convince himself that all will work out well.

Upon entering the B18 Clancy immediately noticed the lane signs posting the legal minimum speed of 110 km/h (68 mph) on the left and 90 km/h (56 mph) on the center lane and 60 km/h (37 mph) in the right lane. This was all new to Clancy; added since he was last in Germany. He settled into the center lane and quickly brought the Porsche up to 90 mph; thoroughly enjoying the precision of the rented car. As he became more used to the auto, he ventured into the left lane and gradually pushed the engine to 122 mph and marveled at the ease of handling and engine smoothness of the relative small car.

The Austrian border crossings were not a problem – in and out of Austria in about forty minutes. The mountains, as he got closer to them, seemed to pop out of the morning haze. The sun appeared to accentuate their craggy structure, and caused the snow covered peaks to glisten.

“As nice as New Hampshire is”, he thought, “I have never seen anything as majestic as the Alps. I sure wish Alma were here.”

A sign directed him off the Autobahn and forced him to slow when the road narrowed, climbed and became winding as he got closer to the mountains. He pulled into a turn-off and stopped; looked out over the land at the deep valleys nestled between the high peaks with villages dotting the road that ran through the valley. He made a promise of returning for a vacation with Alma soon.

He left the car, lit his pipe and wished he had purchased a camera. Clancy sat on a bench overlooking the postcard scene before him for a half hour or so. He cleaned the ash from his pipe and continued on toward Mittenwald thinking about getting a camera and a weapon with some power.

The road continued to wind, and at times steeply declined, as he neared Mittenwald. He came around a sharp turn and was greeted by a view of the valley that held the town of Mittenwald. Several miles on, a sign indicated the turn to Mittenwald center.

As he entered the town he passed the Town Hall resplendent with religious murals over its outer surface. He spotted the travel office and pulled into the closest parking spot; raised the top, locked the car and headed for the travel office. The town was pure Bavaria and looked like a picture out of Hansel and Gretel.

“I guess this is what they mean by The Gingerbread Road”, Clancy thought.

As he approached the travel office he looked around and wondered if it could be a holiday. The streets were crowded with people and the tourist season has passed. Skiing hasn’t really started yet except high in the mountains by the most expert skiers. Clancy stopped before entering the travel office, leaned against its wall and looked around to get the lay of the land in case he needed to move quickly around that area of the town; also taking note of any one else just hanging around.

A cow bell rang twice as he opened the door and entered the travel office. The office was empty save for a family of four with the mother attempting to keep two young boys in tow. They took no notice of Clancy who approached the opposite end of the counter just as a young man appeared through a sliding door carrying an arm full of travel folders.

“Good morning sir. May I help you?” He asked in a heavy Bavarian accent.

Clancy answered in his best High German. “Yes you may. I need a hotel, five stars if you have one, a good comprehensive map of the area and the park, and finally, some information about Mittenwald, and things to see here.”

“In a moment sir. I will call someone to serve you. I am busy with a customer”, the young man replied.

The man approached the family, said a few words and disappeared into another room. Shortly an older man appeared and approached Clancy with his hand out and a salesman’s smile.

“Welcome to Mittenwald sir. Come to my office please, and we will find you a suitable hotel. I can also take care of any other requests you might have.”

Clancy thought he detected an accent in the man’s otherwise perfect German but decided he needed to hear more before he was sure. He followed the man and noted his steady stride and upright bearing.
They walked to the back of the store passing vivid posters on the walls depicting Germany, Austria and Switzerland in all seasons of the year.
In the office, both men comfortably seated, Clancy repeated his request for a hotel and information. The man listened intently while studying Clancy’s face.

“I am sorry to say that we have no five star hotels in Mittenwald. However, we have several four stars that I can personally vouch for. The rooms and service are first class and the food is the best, be it German or international dishes. One of them, Hotel Ghasthof, is centrally located and we have received good reports from travelers we have booked in there. If you want to explore the town I would strongly suggest it. For skiing, one of the outlying hotels is better.”

“That should be fine. I’m not much of a down-hill skier. I prefer cross-country but doubt if I will be skiing at all as I injured my big toe jumping over a fence”. Clancy said.

The man behind the desk seemed to straighten in his chair a bit upon hearing of Clancy’s toe. He got up, walked to a small safe and removed a small picture; returned and held the picture in front of him for several seconds thinking, “This could be Clancy”.

“It is said, a warm vinegar wrap helps take the pain away” he replied answering the Platoon recognition code.

Clancy stood and reached across the desk and shook the man’s hand saying in English,

“I’m Ian Clancy. I think you’ve been expecting me.”

"I’m Warrant Officer Fred Eulund, very happy to meet you Major Clancy. I’ve heard a lot of good things about you."

“Let’s get things straight right off, Fred. First, I am no longer in the military. Second I was never a Major. I retired as a Captain. Third, how in hell do you know the Platoon recognition codes?”

“I’ll be retiring in a couple of years and was recruited by the Platoon, along with several other agencies. I picked the Platoon and was given TDY to undergo Platoon training. When I returned to my job at CIC headquarters in Munich, I was assigned here, under cover, to function basically as do your two previous contacts, and to identify those looking for Hitler’s treasure. I have to keep an eye on those we already know as well as spotting any of the supervisors who might come to town”. I also work closely with the CIC, Military Police and German Police in Garmisch-Partenkirchen concerning the spy problem. It’s difficult at times maintaining my front as a travel agent and keeping up with all that is going on. But, I should be getting more help from the CIC soon”.

“Oh! By the way, your Army commission was activated and you were promoted to Major the instant you stepped off the plane in Germany. Being this far into the assignment, I’m surprised you didn’t know that. No one told you?”

“Had I been told, I would not be here now; which is probably the reason they didn’t tell me. I would be back in New Hampshire helping my wife plan for Thanksgiving.”

“I think I might be pretty ticked if that were done to me”. Fred said. “I can understand your frustration. But now, let’s get some lunch and make plans for your activities here. Grab a bunch if these folders and carry them when we leave.”

Outside the office Clancy and Eulund turned right as Eulund said, “There is a very good bakery/coffee shop/café on the next street over. How does that sound?”

“Fine with me”. Clancy answered as they turned right again down a narrow cobbled walkway.

They traveled about twenty feet when Clancy heard a slight shuffling sound behind him and turned quickly to see two men struggling over what appeared to be an old M1 bayonet. The blade dropped to the cobbles with a loud clinking sound as the assassin was subdued by a Judo throw and subsequent choke hold with a knee to the middle of his back. The action took less time than it took Clancy to retrieve his weapon from the leg holster. Clancy and Eulund approached the pair on the ground and Clancy, highly surprised, proclaimed:

“I know that man on top.”

“Henry Otto!” Clancy exclaimed, “Where in the world did you come from and what are you doing here. I haven’t heard from you since 1947”

Copyright © Ernest N. Whitenack 2016

Chapters: Ch 1 | Ch 2 | Ch 3 | Ch 4 | Ch 5 | Ch 6 | Ch 7 | Ch 8 | Ch 9 | Ch 10 | Ch 11 | Ch 12 | Ch 13 | Ch 14 | Ch 15 | Ch 16 | Ch 17 |                    Ch 18

Ernie Whitenack was born in 1928 in Springfield, Illinois and moved to Massachusetts in the mid 1930's. He is a Korean War veteran, worked as a photographic illustrator for 43 years and is now retired.

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