Invisible Enemy

A Short Story by Ernest N.Whitenack


The wind came from the south and brought a reminder of colder weather coming as Clancy left the Gasthof Freiburg. October had passed and reports of good skiing in the foothills of the Alps were being broadcast. He turned the corner to head for a shopping area he had spotted from the car on the way to the university. The wind subsided a bit and the late morning sun warmed him as he walked. It was Sunday and he thought, “at least I can look in the store windows and find a men’s shop. I’ll need a coat and hat soon and some hiking clothes. I might even locate a tobacco shop.”

The smell of baking caught his attention and a couple hundred feet ahead he spotted a quaint iron bracketed sign displaying a brightly painted picture of a cake. He stopped and perused the variety of pastry, rolls and bread in the window and noticed the shop seemed open for business. At a tiny table covered with a brightly flowered cloth, Clancy delighted in two fresh cinnamon-raisin buns and black coffee. As he left the bake shop and reached for his pipe, he noted foot traffic had increased with families and couples out for a Sunday stroll. Clancy stepped to the curb and lit his pipe, all the while studying the people passing. He made note that there were very few singles among them.

Many of the signs hanging from buildings were similar to the bakery sign, graphic in nature, and either painted or carved. Among them, and about a half block ahead, hung a very large depiction of a peasant pipe suspended from yet another ornate iron bracket. He stopped at the shop but a notice in the door window indicated the hours for the Freiburg Tobacconists are Monday through Saturday from 0900 to 1700. The door was set back in the middle of the storefront with windows on both sides of the short entrance-way. Ian studied the displays of pipes and the labels on the large glass tobacco jars. Near the front of the left hand window, spread out artistically, was a display of accessories.

He put another match to his pipe, while making a mental note of the shop’s location, and glanced at the window’s reflection of the street behind him. Across the narrow street, leaning against a building stood a man, he took to be thirty five-forty years, in dark clothing and a brightly colored knit cap. Clancy had noticed the man pass by while he had paused outside the bakery. He was one of the few singles and stood out because of his dress.

“Odd that he is now across the street standing and not a significant distance ahead” Clancy thought, but quickly dismissed it.

Clancy walked along enjoying the day and making note of stores he wished to visit when open. Across the street he saw a large department store with clothing for men displayed in one window. He crossed the street for a better look and found the store appeared to have a full line of male clothing. Just as interesting, the same man with the bright cap was again in the reflection of the store window, and now on the opposite side of the street than before. The fact that he seemed to be keeping pace with Clancy alerted him to the possibility of being followed.

Clancy turned from the window and hurriedly walked in the direction from which he came. He crossed the street behind a group of cars that just moved on from a traffic light, hoping the cars would cloak his movements. Finding a narrow walkway between two stores, he stepped in, flattened himself against the wall and waited. It wasn’t long until fancy hat, while looking across the street, quickly walked past. Clancy retrieved the small 32 from the ankle holster, palmed it in his jacket pocket and set off after fancy hat. Several yards later he caught up with him and moved to his right side, linked his left arm into fancy hat’s right arm and with his right hand shoved the 32 into his ribs.

“Just keep walking slowly” Clancy told him in perfect German.

At the next cross street Clancy guided him around the corner and up a driveway to the rear of a store. Suddenly fancy hat was slammed against the building and found Clancy’s arm pressing on his throat while the muzzle of the 32 dug deeper into his ribs.

“Now, just who are you and why are you so interested in me? Clancy asked
“Speak up before I send you to hell”.

The man was much younger than Clancy first thought and fear showed in his eyes as the weapon pressed harder into the soft flesh just below the ribs.

“I’m Second Lieutenant Samuel Fox, CIC with Seventh Army, United States Army,” the young man nervously responded in English. “I’ve been assigned as protective back-up while you are in or around Freiburg.”

“You are pretty damned conspicuous in that stupid hat, young man. Just how long have you been in this business?”
“Three months Sir. You are my first assignment.
“Your very lucky it isn’t your last”, Clancy said as he released Fox from his grip.
“Take off that hat and let’s get out of here. We need to have a talk.”

They walked back to the hotel where Clancy asked for coffee to be sent to his room and climbed the stairs to room 15.

“Just how old are you Fox, and where did you take your intelligence training” Clancy asked as each sat and waited for the coffee to come.

“I’m 25 years old and took my training at Fort Devens Massachusetts. I was drafted early in ‘50, finished advanced basic and went directly to OCS. From there I was assigned to Southeastern Signal School at Camp Gordon as Exec for Student Company 4. After a year, I applied for CIC, then spent a year in plain clothes in Chicago before being sent to Seventh Army. Went through European indoctrination and language school before this assignment; guess I really blew it.” What now?”

Footsteps in the hall put an end to their conversation and knocking at the door brought the coffee. The two men sat and enjoyed their coffee; a worried look on fox’s face.

Clancy picked up the phone and dialed the emergency number Von Schmidt had given him hoping to place this situation in his hands.

“I’m sorry to have to bother you on Sunday sir but something has come up that needs some action and your intervention.”

After several minutes of silence Clancy spoke again.

“Yes sir, we will wait outside”; then to Fox, “Von Schmidt is sending a car for us. We will explain this to him and discuss the need for a security back-up; with which I fully disagree.”

At the university office of Von Schmidt, Clancy and Fox were met with volumes of gray-blue smoke and the strong odor of vanilla -- entering just as Von Schmidt blew out a match.

“Now gentlemen, just what the hell is this all about?” Von Schmidt asked as he lowered himself into his luxurious leather office chair.

The two men stood waiting for an invitation to sit which didn’t come.


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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