A Short Story by Ernest N.Whitenack
~ CHAPTER EIGHT ~
The three men stood. Von Schmidt shook their hands vigorously and said,
Saturday morning Clancy was in the Früstücksraum when it opened; had a good breakfast and headed for the department store to purchase some hiking clothes -- or something to make him look like a tourist. It was a pleasant walk. The sun was bright and the air was clean and crisp with the promise of winter. Passing the Freiburg Tobacconist, he noticed the shop was in darkness. He could smell the baking bread as he approached the bakery and thoughts of home jumped into his mind. He also noticed that Lieutenant Samuel Fox was, happily, no where to be seen as he crossed the street to the department store.
Clancy roamed the men’s department of the store trying to decide between tweeds, Loden cloth, or heavy wool. He decided on a hunter green, thirty four inch, Loden hunting jacket, and a Tyrolean hat to match. He could wear his L.L.Bean tweed sport jacket, so thoughtfully supplied by the Platoon, under the jacket if needed. As for trousers, he selected brown canvas work pants and finished with a pair of pebbled leather hiking boots with knobby rubber soles and wool boot socks. No alterations were required.
The meeting time at Freiburg Tobacconist was set for 10:00 o’clock and 10:15 for Fox. Clancy checked his watch and decided he had time for a short stop at the bakery before the meeting. He left feeling content and a bit full from the cinnamon-raisin bun and coffee. As he lit his pipe, and noted that the L.L. Bean pouch was almost empty, he remembered he was also at the end of his tin of Sherlock’s Choice.
Clancy reached the tobacconist just a minute before 10:00 and paused to again take in the goods in the windows.
A buzzer sounded somewhere in the back of the shop as he opened the door.
The delightful odor of the shop was primarily that of Virginia and Latakia
with an undertone of an aromatic of some kind. Shortly, a tall man about
forty approached him through a door directly behind the glass counter
where a large number of pipes were displayed on a blue velvet background.
The man was lean and looked muscular. His blond hair stood out above his
ruddy complexion and was starting to gray at the edges. Round steel-rimmed
glasses sat low on his nose.
The conversation was interrupted by two young men entering the shop.
One purchased a pouch of a Danish Cavendish and the other a package of
Zuben Cigarettes; all the while stealing glances at Clancy.
Clancy realized he must reply to the young men in German and cause a very strained situation if the shop attendant isn’t his contact and simply an employee.
Clancy turned to face Zimmerman and found the man with a huge grin on his face and looking as if he was about to break out in laughter.
Clancy was surprised and uneasy that Zimmerman took the situation lightly and quickly got over feeling sheepish about the situation. He shrugged his shoulders and said,
“Let’s step in the back to avoid any more early customers. I have instructions for you as well as information you will find useful.
Just as they passed through the door to the back room, the buzzer for the shop door sounded again and Lieutenant Samuel Fox entered exactly on time. Zimmerman went back to the sales room and Clancy listened through the slightly open door while loosening the revolver in its ankle holster. He immediately recognized Fox’s voice and went through the door to introduce the two men. He was anxious to get on with the meeting.
In the back room Clancy turned to fox and mockingly said.
Zimmerman stepped forward in hopes of ending a somewhat biting give-and-take.
Clancy simply nodded in the affirmative and Zimmerman continued.
Fox stiffened, shook hands with both men and thanked them, turned and left the shop thinking he should have bought some tobacco for his new pipe.
After another customer was satisfied, Zimmerman returned to the back room and sat opposite Clancy as he was lighting his pipe.
Clancy grabbed the opportunity to quiz Zimmerman. He had no intention, of going any farther with him until he felt more comfortable about the man; considering the way Zimmerman accepted him so readily and without any recognition code being passed.
When the U.S entered the war, I was working in the grape industry and
to accumulate funds and was about to purchase some acreage to grow hops.
Instead, I answered a call for German speaking males to translate intercepted
embassy messages in D.C. I was later assigned to a joint British/American
decoding group in London in the came capacity. I became friendly with
a tobacconist there. After he discovered I had a talent for detecting
tobacco and distinguishing quality by scent, he taught me his blending
skills. This shop was set up with U.S. funds, by the OSS just after the
close of the war to service combined allied security agencies. My tobacconist
friend suggested me for this job after he turned it down due to failing
health. Von Schmidt and I work hand in hand but in different areas. His
is administrative and I am more in the ranks and closer to the actual
work of agents. I have a high “GS” rating and all profits
of this shop are returned to the U.S. defense budget.
The cedar lined room was cool and slightly humid and contained many boxes of cigars along with large, covered white buckets. Zimmerman sat one of the buckets on a small table and removed the cover.
Clancy bent forward and smelled the contents; looked up at Zimmerman and smiled. Reaching in, he pulled out a handful and examined the tobacco.
Clancy lit up and took a couple of slow deep puffs, releasing the smoke slowly.
At that Zimmerman measured out two pounds and put them in individual tins saying;
Back in the sales area of the shop Clancy reminded Zimmerman of the matches and he tossed a few boxes into the plastic shopping bag with the tobacco and refused payment for either.
The men shook hands as Clancy thanked him, turned and left the shop. Turning back toward the hotel he noted it was time for lunch and headed for the bakery again.
Copyright © Ernest N. Whitenack 2016
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