The Crooked X - Prelude to War
A Short Story of Hate, Mystery and Intrigue

By Ernest N.Whitenack

"Chapter 6"

The Pot Begins to Boil

The meeting at the British Consulate concluded, Scott and Ashley Moss walked west along Commonwealth Avenue enjoying the perfect spring day the rain had left behind. Both, with pipes a-glow, strolled along casually and hashed over their lives since the end of the war. Crossing over at Massachusetts Avenue, Scott led Ashley into the Eliot Hotel and down the stairs to the Eliot Lounge for lunch, one of Scott's favorite watering holes. As they ate, Ashley revealed that he would very much like to have an active part in cleaning up this Nazi thing.

"You know Scott; I've been so involved with your DOD on this problem I would really like to see it through to the end. Sitting back at the Consulate with my feet up just isn't my cup of tea, you know.

"Isn't that out of your hands?" Scott asked.

"Presently yes, however a word about needing me to the Brigadier could very well change that."

"Well, give me a couple of days to come up with a good reason or two and I'll approach him."

Scott grabbed a taxi back to Abe's and arrived in time to get a report from the FBI technician that there were indeed four microphones around Abe's store and his apartment above. According to the technician, they connected to a German wire recorder affixed to a vent pipe at an obscure niche of the roof. All microphones were voice-activated type another late invention, along with the recorder, from Germany.

"It's a great catch," the technician told Scott. "These devices will all be shipped to Washington for more in-depth analyzing."

Abe appeared from his workroom at the back of the store and informed Scott that the clock works had arrived, continuing that the conversion work will begin in the morning.

"Keep me informed of your progress and an anticipated completion date." Scott said. "Also, it is important you inform me or Harry exactly when you will be making the call to the Nazis." He went on to say, "You and this store will be watched around the clock for your protection and we will also want to know who comes and goes at your shop. The police will try to get photos of the two remaining SS men at an address we have. This way we can identify them should one or both come here."

The volunteer detectives from B P D were watching the warehouse on India Street front and back. Cameras were at windows covering the entire warehouse and surrounding streets. Powerful telescopes kept watch on the windows of the warehouse.

At police headquarters, Detective Sergeant Taranto informed Harry, "Nothing or anyone will come or go from the warehouse without being seen and photographed. A tap is on the telephone by court order and constantly monitored. Four six-hour shifts daily will be in place until you've finalized this situation"

Back at the British Consulate, Brigadier John Harris-Smith was on the phone to Washington and the Department of Defense.

"Mr. Director, it is essential for both our countries that I see you very soon. The joint meeting here this morning went swimmingly and I want to share it with you. Is it possible for you to come to Boston? Quarters at the consulate are quite comfortable and we will be pleased to have you as our guest."

"Thanks Brigadier, but it is impossible for me to be away for more than a day. It's possible however I can come for the day if you can meet me at East Boston. I'll beg a ride in an Army transport plane in the morning and should arrive at nine o'clock, or there about."

"A car will be waiting. I'm sure someone knows where it is. Isn't it a bit dangerous though, flying with those wild pilots left over from the war?"

"Aviation has made great strides in the US. The Air Guard and the Army Air Corps call the Jeffery Field home and have since 1923. Beginning in 1927, scheduled commercial passenger flights by Colonial Air Transport, renamed American Airlines in 1930, fly between Boston and New York City regularly."

"I shall have to try it some day. Sounds like an adventure," replied the Brigadier. "See you in the morning then."

Heinrich Himmler was on a rampage, yelling and screaming at his staff about poor performance in the SS ranks. News had reached him of the death of one and capture of two operatives in Boston. The Boston mission is vital to the success of the conquest of Britain when that time came. Himmler and his staff decided the odds of the mission being successful before informing Hitler of the happenings in Boston.

Several things seemed in the favor of SS success:

  1. The fact that the clock works are still with Müller could indicate he made no mention of them to officials.
  2. The death and captures might be the result of poor judgment on the operative's part. It was the police, not federal officers who were involved.
  3. All is quiet in Boston and no federal investigating seems to be underway. Major Friedrich Koenig is safe in Chicago and the remaining operatives are keeping a low profile until the clocks are converted and Koenig arrives in Boston.
  4. Distribution of the clocks along the East coast to selected sympathizers, trained to construct a bomb, should be a simple matter. Then, it is only a matter of timing to effect the disruption of shipping and shipbuilding.

A decision to keep the events of the Boston operation blunders within Himmler's staff and away from Hitler was unanimous. Unless the operation failed, Hitler would never know of the blunders committed by the Waffen-SS.

India Street:
A shaggy, and dirty derelict sat leaning against the wall of EURO-AMERICAN IMPORTS, a paper bag covered wine bottle leaning against his leg. He rose as a small delivery truck pulled up near the front entrance and staggered towards it. Just as the driver lifted a box from the tailgate, the drunk blocked his way to the door asking if the driver had any change to spare. The angry driver told him to step aside and go get a job. The incident only took seconds but was long enough for the drunk to read Berliner Danske Tobak in large letters printed on the box.

Pushed aside by the driver, the derelict staggered across India Street and into a narrow alley. He entered a door and bounded up the stairs to the third floor to report his findings to the detective behind the camera trained on the entrance of EURO-AMERICAN IMPORTS.

Commonwealth Avenue:
The next morning, Scott, at the request of the Brigadier, arrived at the British Consulate just as the U.S. DOD Director emerged from the Consulate limousine.

"Director I'd like you to meet Scott Wadsworth. He is one of your intelligence boys from the last European fracas – served with my aid Ashley Moss on joint ventures in France actually."

"I'm happy to meet you Scott. I know your father well. He is great asset to our work and his country, working in anonymity here in Boston. Your unselfish efforts in the last few weeks, being a civilian, are certainly admirable. Your country thanks you," Replied the Director.

The Brigadier coughed politely and said, "Well now, sit down gentlemen and help yourselves to tea. Then we will get this meeting underway."

The Brigadier briefed the director on the previous day's meeting and the German Operation Sea Lion. He stressed the North American and British connection regarding American and Canadian aid when the British must enter the European war Hitler is planning.

"The 1916 Black Tom incident or anything like it cannot happen again. Tons and tons of munitions paid for and destined for shipment to England were lost the," Brigadier continued.

"What makes you think that was sabotage, asked the Director. That was just an unfortunate accident; granted it caused a shortage of shells for your first recoilless artillery piece."

"Come now Director, you know as well as I do it was German sabotage involving staff at the German Embassy. British intelligence learned all about it shortly after it happened, and of President Wilson demanding complete secrecy to maintain his position on neutrality. He was also afraid of increased bad feelings toward the German-American people and violence aimed at them."

The director, taken aback replied, "I can neither confirm nor deny your allegations at this time."

The Black Tom explosions were indeed sabotage along with other minor incidents attributed to Germans assigned to the New York Embassy. Shrapnel rained down for many hours destroying property and heavily damaging the Statue of Liberty. In the late 1930s, The US finally sued Germany for reparations. It was then the American public learned of sabotage on American soil prior to World War 1.

Scott broke the silent tension interjection, "The police watching the India Street building have determined there is little if anything going on at EURO-AMERICAN IMPORTS. The two Nazis come and go for meals or short walks and are apparently sleeping there. They are followed each time they leave the warehouse"

"Yesterday a deliveryman left a package determined to be the tobacco for Mr. Müller. No one else other than food deliveries from nearby Chinatown has approached the building."

"Many photos, taken showing the Nazis close up from several angles, are in the hands of all detective volunteers. A sketch, drawn from Abe's descriptions of Friedrich Koenig, hangs in the squad room at police headquarters and in each patrol car on the streets of Boston. Every volunteer detective has one in his kit."

"Frank Gray, editor of the Boston Post, is trying to obtain an actual photograph of Friedrich Koenig through European news services. However, Abe says the drawing is an excellent likeness so it will be no great loss if we do not get a photo. Frank also reported to Harry last night that news, from a German underground group to the press corps, indicates Himmler knows of the SS captures here and is beyond himself with anger. He swears piano wire nooses will be waiting when, and if, Koenig and his men return." I just hope this doesn't cause a nationwide media frenzy if it gets out. We don't need that right now, or ever, and Frank is doing what he can to stop it."

"You certainly have things well in hand," said the DOD Director. "From our department the wheels are in motion to activate State Guard units in all states touching the sea on the east coast. These units are to guard all ports catering to large commercial ships as well as all major shipbuilding sites. Guard personnel will also assist US Navy military guards at navel installations." He continued. "I hope the situation never gets to the point of using the State Guard to actively stop and apprehend saboteurs at any sites. The Guard is just a thread of a functioning military organization. The appropriation of money to replace equipment and armament lost in the war will not come about. There are those in congress who staunchly refuse to believe another devastating world war will ever happen. Even with Hitler's saber rattling, the attitude is to let him have Europe, that it's no skin off our noses. Thank God, there are those who do not agree and are slowly mustering support for a strong military. To appropriate the kind of funds it will take to achieve that goal will require many changes in congress or an outright attack on the United States. Let's hope it's the former. Although, should this whole incident, upon its conclusion, be placed before a congressional sub-committee and allowed to leak, military funding could move in a positive direction."

"We can hope so," Scott replied. "But now you will have to excuse me. I have a law practice to tend to regardless of how thin it might be in these hard times."

Scott again fought his sticking office door to gain entrance, retrieved a pile of newspapers and mail from the floor below the mail slot, and moved to the desk to sort the mail. The newspapers landed on the credenza behind him while the flyers and ads went in the wastebasket and nothing but bills remained.

Scott pulled the old Wally Frank Lovat he prefilled, and hoped to smoke on his way to the British Consulate, from his jacket pocket and lit it puffing generously. The phone rang just as the match in his ashtray gave up its last flicker of flame.

"Scott, Harry said abruptly. I've been thinking about the tobacco Abe is supposed to get. Did I tell you it arrived at the India Street address yesterday?"

"Yes you did, Harry. What are you thinking?"

"I'm thinking we have to get hold of that box before Abe does. I just do not feel confident he will not want to try the tobacco, even after we have told him not to. We have not given him a reason and I don't think he understands the danger."

"I suppose that's a possibility but I have stressed several time that he is not to open the box. The only way to play it safe is to take it away from whoever is delivering it. Doing so will have to be stressed during the planning session for the final roundup of the Nazis."

"I agree," responded Harry. "I've made arrangements for the box to be X-rayed for explosives and MIT will be testing the tobacco. They have an ongoing government funded project looking into poisons and poison gas. The project is a hangover from the war. I think they are looking for antidotes and even developing new biological weapons."

"By the way, old friend, when are you going to give Nancy a tumble again? She is very worried about you being so close to this case, especially after the shootings on Walnut Street."

"I'll call her soon. It has been so long I didn't think she has much interest in me now."

"You do that, pal. I think you will be surprised. Now, Tell Abe to call you when he has the clocks finished and not to call that phone number he has until he hears from you. As soon as he finishes, we must have a strategy meeting to plan the assault at the India Street warehouse and safety control at Abe's shop. In the meantime, we can relax a bit. The police have things well in hand."

Scott relit his pipe, and scanned the bills in front of him before dialing the FBI number.

The lilt of Nancy's voice caused a short pump of adrenaline as she answered, "FBI, May I help you?"

"Hello Nancy, this is Scott. The affair with Abe will end in a week or so and I was hoping we could get together and have a pleasant evening over drinks and dinner. I have been neglecting you for too long, although I think of you often, and want to make amends."

"Oh! Scott, I have been very worried about you being so involved in it. I know some of the details, and about the shooting incident on your street, which indicate it is dangerous. I hope you are being very careful."

"Yes I am, replied Scott, and we have plenty of back-up. Please don't worry. The government wants to keep this low profile so; there will be no cowboy heroics."

"I will hold you to that. I want you to call me the minute this is over so we can make plans. I'm anxious to see you"

"I promise, Scott replied, and said goodbye."

He immediately called the clock shop and invited Abe for supper at Jake Wirth's. This followed by a call to Ashley Moss with a like invitation.

In his office at the Friends of New Germany, Major Friedrich Koenig, with hands trembling, read the Telex for the third time. Himmler is demanding details and Koenig has nothing new to tell him. He knew it would be another week before the watchmaker finishes the clock conversion. All Koenig can reply is that all is under control and hope it is so.
His thoughts move to Boston and how he should be there waiting for the call. He is fearful of capture but figures on taking the train to New York and then a flight on to Boston. Floyd Bennett Field on Staten Island will probably have the least traffic. Koenig figures, should they be looking for him it will be at the train stations and not at airports. There will be less delay this way. He can retrieve the clock movements, pay the watchmaker, and hand over the tobacco within minutes of receiving the call at the warehouse. By the next morning, the team will be on their separate ways to distribute the timing devices along the East coast.

Scott and Abe walked along Stewart Street and saw the Consulate limonene pull into the curb in front of the restaurant. Ashley emerged from the rear seat and looked the building over before turning his attention to the extensive menu attached to the window.

"See anything you like, you old Mutton eater?" said Scott as they approached Ashley.

"Now that's not nice. You know I acquired a taste for continental food while in France." Moss shot back followed with, "Hello Abe, how are you this evening. Good to see you again."

Inside, Moss decided to leave the selection of his meal to Scott and smiled broadly with the first sip of an imported Pilsner.

"How is your work going, Abe, asked Scott? When do you think you well be finished?"

"The works are very well made and the changes I make are easier than I thought they would be. I should finish maybe three days ahead of time." Abe replied.

"Remember now, it is important you call me as soon as you know for sure. Then I will give you a time to call the Nazis."

"Absolutely," Abe said showing all the confidence he could muster.

Through the meal, Moss asked Abe about himself and they discussed the terrible direction Hitler was taking Germany.

"My heart aches for the people, Abe said; more so for the many Jews there. Even at the time I left in 1927; anti-Semitic literature and posters were everywhere. They would like to destroy the Jewish culture and economics."

"Well Abe, You certainly deserve a medal for what you have been through and for continuing to help your country and mine. Few men would agree to continue in this subterfuge to thwart the Nazis." Moss said. "You must have been terrified when you learned what they were. Soon you can relax – we all can. It will all be over shortly."

"Thank you, Abe replied. This is my country now and I am a citizen. I have family here and many good friends. A thankful citizen could do nothing else."

Copyright © Ernest N. Whitenack 2011

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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