The Crooked X - Prelude to War
A Short Story of Hate, Mystery and Intrigue
By Ernest N.Whitenack
At Boston Police Headquarters, the Chief, Detective Sergeant Taranto,
and Harry stood before the forty-eight men assembled and ready to put
forth the plan to end the Boston Nazi activity.
The "Nazi Problem" was the title written at
the top of huge blackboard facing the men. Divided into six sections,
the blackboard listed each of the police volunteers into squads of eight
men. Three sections were labeled Night and three Day, which represented
the twenty-four hour period that volunteers are available to work.
The Chief spoke first. "You are doing a wonderful
job so far." Pointing to the blackboard he continued, "You
all know your squad members and who the squad leader is. We expect this
situation will come to a head soon, probably within a week and a half.
Our purpose here today is to formulate a plan to best use our recourses
in a safe and orderly way to capture or, if required by circumstance,
kill the remaining Boston assigned Nazis. This will take place on two
fronts, the warehouse on India Street and Mr. Müller's shop on
Tremont Street. Printed diagrams of the warehouse interior, showing
all windows and doors, are on the table near the exit. Take one as you
leave and become totally familiar with it. The assault on the warehouse
could include any of you, depending on the day and time we make our
move, and you must know the layout by heart. Of utmost importance is
to keep Mr. Müller safe and to immediately take possession of a
carton of tobacco delivered the same time as the clock works pick-up.
The carton might contain delayed explosives or poison gas. These tasks,
when assigned to particular individuals, are their responsibility. You
will know who those individuals are soon. Now I'll turn this meeting
over to Harry Malison, Director of the Boston F.B.I. office. Harry will
outline the logistics of the two raids."
"Good morning men. During the final stages of
the operation, the only weapons used will be handguns of your choice
and one sawed-off shotgun per squad, and no uniforms. Concealment of
weapons is necessary, as you will see. There is a possibility of using
some explosive devices to gain entrance through the heavy shipping doors.
However, men setting them off will be experts and on special duty –
not squad members."
"A close stakeout at the clock shop is necessary
for quick movement. I hope that whoever comes to pick up the clock works
is recognizable by his looks or by the box of tobacco he will be carrying.
The carton has Berliner Danske Tobak in large letters
on all sides. The men assigned to the shop must make every effort to
apprehend the messenger before he enters the clock store. Should this
not be possible, two additional men from your squad will be inside the
store. Presently, we are considering street sweepers as your disguise.
Confirmation of disguise will come later."
"Action at the warehouse is not as time critical.
Gaining entrance is most important. A close look at all door locks and
windows must take place beforehand to plan a rapid entrance. Entrance
must be from several points and precisely timed for the best advantage
of surprise. Intelligence indicates that two Nazis will be in the warehouse.
Our overpowering numbers will discourage them from attempting to fight
their way free. Any Questions?"
"Thanks Harry," said the chief as he came
forward to address the gathering a second time. "Plenty of time
remains to finalize disguises and such. The exact time of the raids
is not that easy to ascertain. Two squads must remain on alert –
one day squad and one night. Detective Sergeant Taranto will inform
you when the alert starts and later, the exact time of the raids. Dismissed."
That afternoon Scott sat at his desk reviewing contracts
for a local toy maker when Harry called.
"Scott, I just heard from Chicago that Waffen-SS
Sturmbannführer Friedrich Koenig has boarded a train for New York.
We have to assume it is the first leg in returning to Boston. The Bureau
has a man on him and I'll update you the minute I hear more. It looks
as though he wants to be here when Abe calls the warehouse. I was thinking
that after losing three men and sitting in Chicago just waiting, he
must be getting jittery."
"I sure hope so," replied Scott as he searched
his pockets for a match. "Do you think eight men are enough to
successfully launch a two front assault on the Nazis? Three men plus
Ashley Moss and I can handle Abe's place. The question is, can the remaining
five men get in the large warehouse from diverse points and converge
on the Nazis simultaneously?"
"You have a point Scott. If we have another squad
on alert and apply thirteen men to the task of each getting through
the warehouse and to the Nazis at the same time, several will undoubtedly
succeed and we guarantee success – especially if we can add a
lot of noise to the attack like blowing the front door. I'll talk to
the Chief about another squad and let you know. The addition of manpower
will also allow us to do a thorough search for documentation or something
indicating where or, to whom, the clock mechanisms are supposed to be
delivered. Good thinking Scott"
Surveillance continued at the warehouse and at Abe's
store for the next few days without incident. This allowed the police
sufficient time to plan and obtain disguises. The stakeout at Abe's will
be three men in uniforms and using equipment of the Boston Public Works
sanitation division. One man will be handling the cart and shovel while
the other two push brooms. For authenticity, a truck containing garbage
and such, from the previous day's activities at the Haymarket Square market,
will lose part of its load along Tremont Street by Abe's store
Upon departing the train that brought him from Chicago,
Sturmbannführer Friedrich Koenig hurried to a nearby telephone and
gave the operator a number on Staten Island. After several rings, a voice
"Gateway Air Service, Fritz Zeigler speaking,
may I help you."
"This is Gauleiter Friedrich Koenig from the
Chicago Friends of New Germany calling from the New York train terminal.
I need your services in the name of the Third Reich."
"It is an honor Heir Gauleiter. I am at your
immediate service. What is it you require?"
"I need a flight to Boston as soon as it can
be arranged. The flight particulars must be confidential and the flight
must be made, if possible, without notice."
"It can be done as you ask, Heir Gauleiter. Come
directly to the airfield. My hanger is to the left of the terminal.
You can drive to it directly."
"Very good replied," Koenig. "I'll
see you soon. Heil Hitler"
Koenig hurried to catch a cab followed by the FBI agent
assigned to him. They ended up at the Staten Island Ferry dock. The Agent
watched as Koenig boarded the ferry and waited until the boat left. He
then rushed by cab to the New York FBI office and hurriedly placed a call
to the Boston office. Almost immediately, Harry was on the phone.
"Harry, Koenig didn't catch a connecting train
to Boston but took the Staten Island Ferry. There is only one reason
for going to Staten Island and that is easy access to private air transportation,
most likely the Donovan-Hughes Airport and perhaps another Nazi. I'd
put a man at the Boston airport and keep an eye out for him if I were
"That is good information," replied Harry.
"I'll get someone on it right now, thanks. I think I can get help
from the Army Air Corps stationed at Jeffery Field. They have registration
lists of all private planes housed at airports and can alert us when
one comes in from Staten Island. We can then keep an eye out for Koenig
at the warehouse or Abe's shop. Hopefully, we can also get a car along
the route from East Boston to pick up the cab Koenig will have to take
from the airport."
These arrangements made, Harry made calls informing
both Sergeant Taranto and Scott of the development.
Scott said, "I trust the cops keeping an eye
on the warehouse will also follow Koenig should he leave. We cannot
afford to lose track of him. One more thing, Harry, Brigadier Harris-Smith
of British Intelligence refused to allow Moss to work with me at Abe's
when the time comes. Should all this leak to the newspapers, the British
did not want the world to know that British and U.S. agencies are again
working together, particularly on U.S. soil. How about your agent Alfred
Zimmer being with me. With all the work he did at the German Club and
Günter Müller butcher shop, he deserves to be in on the end.
In addition, it will be handy to have someone there who is fluent in
"Great idea," replied Harry. "I'll
talk to Zimmer and, if he agrees you two can get together and run through
the plan of action at Abe's. I think he will jump at the chance."
Jeffery Field, East Boston, 9:20 PM
As the small plane taxied through the beam of the floodlights,
An Air Corps Sergeant in the control tower checked the plane's registration
number and quickly made his way to the ground floor. Koenig stepped from
the plane, went to the front of the building, and looked around for a
taxi. The Sergeant, seizing the opportunity, approached him, asked if
he need a taxi, and pointed out the phone in a box attached to the building.
He told Koenig it was a direct line to a local taxi company and it would
only take five minutes for the taxi to arrive. The Sergeant made small
talk until the taxi came then, made a mental note of the cab's license
plate number. As the taxi left, he quickly entered the building, went
to the nearest office, and called Boston Police with the license number.
The police car, waiting concealed at the end of the airport access road,
received the number by radio. Traffic on the access being light at night,
the officers spotted the cab easily, followed at a discrete distance,
and watched Koenig enter the India Street warehouse.
About the same time, Scott uncorked his best brandy and half filled the
snifter Nancy held out to him. They sat on the old leather sofa in Scott's
living room, having just finished dinner.
Nancy clinked Scott's glass with hers and said, "That was a delightful
meal, Scott. I had no idea you are such a good cook. It's so much nicer
here than in a restaurant. I'm glad you thought of it."
"I am too." Scott replied. "I'm happy you liked my cooking.
One learns these things when it becomes necessary."
"Well, it's your own fault you know." Nancy came back at
him as she moved closer and linked her arm in his. "We could have
been together all this time if you weren't so worried about the depression
"I know, Nancy, I regret it at times but let's look ahead instead
of re-hashing the past," Said Scott as he placed his arm around
he shoulder and pulled her closer. Her response was immediate and full.
Scott awoke in the morning to the smell of coffee and bacon drifting
up from the kitchen, blended with Nancy's lilting voice humming to a
song on the radio. He lay there for several minutes bathed in the memory
of the previous night -- the warmth and softness of her, the loving
passion that passed between them. Lost in his thoughts, Scott didn't
hear Nancy come up the stairs and enter the room. She crawled from the
foot of the bed and lay prone on Scott. As they embraced, she wiggled
slightly and whispered warmly,"It was a wonderful night. See what
you've been missing! Now get up sleepyhead, breakfast is ready."
Scott quickly washed, put on his old robe, and hurried to the kitchen.
The table conversation, initiated by Nancy, quickly turned to their future
together. Not having given it much thought until last night, Scott was
at a loss for meaningful conversation on the subject. He was somewhat
relieved, yet anxious, when his father's voice called out from the living
room asking if anyone was home. His father had a key for emergencies but
always used it when visiting.
"In the kitchen, Dad," Scott called back.
"Smells like I'm just in time for breakfast". His father
said as he worked his way to the kitchen. "What all are we having
---- well, Nancy, how nice to see you again." he continued. "Don't
tell me that kid of mine finally smartened up and realized you are the
best thing to come into his life since peanut butter?"
Nancy blushed slightly, pulled her robe tighter together, and smiled
while Scott scowled angrily at his father and asked sternly, "Coffee,
Dad?" He continued coolly "We are discussing the future and
you will be the first to know the outcome of the discussions."
"Sorry if I have embarrassed you two. I really don't mean to but-in."
Nancy hurriedly stepped toward Mr. Wadsworth and hugged him saying,
"Nonsense, you happened into a potentially embarrassing situation
and handled it beautifully. Besides, fathers will be fathers and have
every right to be."
Breakfast relaxed the tension and pleasant conversation smoothed Scott's
feathers as he marveled at Nancy's adeptness at cooling a nearly explosive
situation he certainly would have regretted.
As the two men lit their pipes, Nancy filled the coffee cups and started
back to the kitchen when Mr. Wadsworth asked, "Nancy, how much
do you know of Scott's work with your boss at the FBI?"
"About all there is to know," Nancy replied. "Being
his private secretary, there isn't very much that doesn't pass through
me or about which he doesn't fill me in. It's important to the success
"Then we can speak openly," Mr. Wadsworth said with relief.
"Are you about to bring a close to this Nazi situation, Scott?"
"It will be several more days. We have a coordinated plan almost
in place to ensure success at both Abe's shop and the warehouse on India
Street. The police volunteers have done an enthusiastic and perfect
job so far and we have had full cooperation wherever we have requested
it. There is no doubt in my mind we will bring this to a safe and successful
"That's good to hear, Scott. I know Harry, the FBI, and the DOD
is very appreciative of the help you and Frank, along with the B.P.D.
volunteers, have given. I don't think it will be to long before the
FBI will have full sanction, and the personnel, to investigate subversive
activities. From the looks of things in Europe and the incident here,
they will be busy."
"Well, I must be off. I'm hopefully going to start my Saturday
golf regimen today if the links are dry enough and I can find someone
at the club to play with. Thanks for breakfast, you two." As he
reached the door, he turned and with a very serious look said, "You
be careful Son – no heroics."
Later that day, after Nancy left to do her Saturday chores, Scott settled
in with a fresh pot of coffee and the contracts he had started reviewing
at his office. He was about through the third contract when the phone
bell startled him out of deep concentration.
"Hello Scott, this is Alfred Zimmer. I want to thank you for asking
Harry to let me help you get the last of those Nazi bastards. I have
a personal interest in this. I'm only one generation removed from the
old country and the things going on there are bothering the older folks
in my family badly."
"You are welcome, Al. I had a feeling, from your enthusiasm at
the butcher shop and German Club, this was more than another assignment
to you. Your language skills might come in handy too. If you can come
to my office Monday about eleven, I'll fill you in on what will be happening
when the day comes and what I expect from you."
"O K Scott I'll see you Monday. Good by, and thanks again."
Monday dawned cold and bleak causing Scott to flip up the collar of his
coat, and bury his cold hands deep in his pockets as he crossed the Common.
He was happy for the warmth when he stepped into Paretti's for some Royal
Blend so, he lingered, talking and looked at pipes. He purchased a basket
pipe, a full bent Apple that looked better than others in the basket and
headed for his office. He found Alfred Zimmer waiting for him by his office
door. He was early by thirty minutes and very excited, which mildly amused
The phone rang just as Zimmer, having concluded Scott's orientation,
was about to leave the office.
"Scott, this is Abe. I'm calling to tell you that the clocks
are finished and all back in the box. What should I do now?"
"Don't do a thing, Abe. You've finished sooner than you thought
and we aren't quite ready for the exchange.
I'll call you in a day or two and tell you when to call the phone number
they gave you. Until then, I want you to just relax and go about things
as usual. I will try to stop by for coffee tomorrow."
"O K, Scott," he answered. Until tomorrow then."
Scott fired up his new pipe and took three good puffs before calling
Harry, his mind racing, taking inventory of remaining details to finalize
before Abe calls the warehouse.
"Harry, Abe has finished converting the clocks already. I think
we are well enough prepared to proceed in three or four days. The thing
still hanging is the multi-point assault on the warehouse and the timing
"Good!" Harry said resolutely. "Let's meet at police
headquarters tomorrow morning about nine. I'll have everyone there including
squad leaders. By the way, the Chief has given the green light to having
another squad for the warehouse assault. Have you talked to Zimmer yet?"
"Yes, he is standing right here --was about to leave when Abe
"Tell him to be at the meeting in the morning," Harry ordered
and hung up the phone.
Copyright © Ernest N. Whitenack 2012
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