April 30, 2017

The Princess and the Dodger Fan

By In Poetry and Fiction

About David Martin:

David Martin is a writer, playwright, and performer from Red Bank, NJ. His work has appeared in The New Republic, Shoot, The Money Review, Business Venture Magazine, The Hub, Generation X, Late Empire, and The Asbury Park Press and he additionally adapted the acclaimed World War II book On Burning Ground into a screenplay.

Martin has also supervised the development and production of numerous direct-to-video features, documentary shorts, and music videos and served as a playwright for the Firedrake Repertory Theater Company in New York City. His theater accomplishments include performing onstage with Sir Ian McKellen, Steve Buscemi, Mark Boone Junior, and David Ippolito.

A Political Science major at Brookdale Community College, he went on to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Arts as well as The New School.

 

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The sounds of celebration penetrated the darkness of the lorry building. A transport captain named Smithers watched from a second story window.

“What’s happening now captain?”, called a young woman’s voice.

“Subaltern Windsor”, replied Smithers. “The entire city has gone barking mad”

“Good as ever excuse to quit work”, chimed the woman’s voice as tools clanked onto the cement floor.

Captain Smithers tsk-tsked the young woman emerging from the darkness wearing jumpers smeared with grease. He handed her a handkerchief and she wiped a small bit of oil from her fair cheek.

“Oh what fun! I must get Margaret”, said the Subaltern as she looked out the window.

“Shirking duties is something to be frowned upon, Subaltern Windsor”, said Smithers in a mock tone of scolding. “Even this far from the Jerries”

“The streets are jammed with humanity”, laughed the subaltern. “What good would a lorry be in any case?”

Smithers always deferred to the young woman’s superior logic. He couldn’t think of anyone else in the Auxiliary Territorial Service with the same wit, poise and natural sense of leadership. Whenever her doltish boyfriend Philip visited he ordered the rest of the lorry drivers and maintenance crews to be on their best behavior. This was especially hard since even Smithers struggled to suppress the smirking. She was in love with that Naval officer of Greek lineage.

Minutes later Subaltern Windsor appeared before Smithers in her uniform.

“Request permission to participate in the festivities sir”, she said while saluting smartly at attention.

“Permission granted” How could he refuse her?

Smithers smiled as Windsor met her younger sister Margaret on the street below. They laughed and bolted away to join the city wide celebration.

“We first have to swing back to you-know-where”, said Windsor.

“What a drafty place to be on such a great day!” replied Margaret.

Several Grenadier Guardsmen appeared and Subaltern Windsor gave Margaret a look as if to say: “Looks like we didn’t get away this time”.

Smithers watched from the window while sipping from a hip flask. He remembered the riotous fun of the victory parties in 1918. His leg gave out years ago. He’ll watch this time.

*

Margaret rolled down the window of the car as it made its way through crowded London streets.

“Oh Elizabeth look!” cried Margaret.

Elizabeth peered out the window to see joyous people climbing over the lions before the palace gates.

By some miracle the crowd before the car ebbed except for a lone uniformed American soldier gazing curiously at the traffic lights.

The driver honked attracting the Yank’s attention.

“Hey pal you drive on the wrong side of the street over here, geez!”, bellowed the American in a distinctly Brooklyn accent. The driver raised his hand to honk again only to feel the gentle but firm grip of Elizabeth who nodded for him to drive around the beleaguered colonial.

*

The field was filling up with captured German soldiers. An attentive British major named Hall watched as the enemy soldiers fell into an ordered line. These were beaten exhausted men but they could still muster the discipline to march.

“This lot is from a force that escaped the Russians”, said a junior officer. “No Waffen-SS. Appear to be a mixed bag. Your garden variety kampfgruppe, Sir.”

Hall observed that the Germans were rough boned and had that look indicating severe combat shock. One caught his eye as being different. This one looked like a bank clerk as he tried to keep up with the sharp marching. The uniform was less tattered than the others and looked at least one and half sizes too large. His round spectacles reminded Hall of someone from captured Nazi newsreels.

“Lieutenant, pull him out of line”, ordered Hall, pointing to the suspicious one.

The German soldier let out a loud gasp as the meaty hand of a British Sergeant landed hard on his weak shoulders. “Heads up Jerry”, said the veteran of D-Day in his cockney tongue. “Like a little word with you”.

Hall’s suspicions grew as this strange soldier was brought before him. He had a nasty shaving cut just above his upper lip. The eyes were familiar.

*

“Vecchio, you bastard!”, laughed the American soldier on crutches. “I’m gonna kill you!”

A balled up wad of newspaper flew by as he tried to bat it away with a crutch.

“I stood at home plate. Dodger Stadium”, asserted Vecchio. “I kid you not!”

The American on crutches was a Virginian named Wratchford. Every generation of his family had gone to battle since before the Civil War. He had volunteered for the Rangers the day after Pearl Harbor was attacked, landed at Anzio and Normandy. After being wounded in the leg relieving those arrogant ungrateful paratroopers at Bastogne Wratchford was kicking back with this Sicilian from Brooklyn named Vecchio.

“Wracthford, you have yet to experience major league baseball, my Dixie fried friend”, smirked Vecchio.

“A stadium full of you fools?”, said Wratchford. “I’d rather hunt any day”

“With that squirrel gun you keep bragging about?”, said Vecchio. “Us Brooklyn boys know how to pack heat”

“Courtesy of Al Capone?”

“You don’t know the half about Alphonse Capone!”

The pub owner liked these Americans. Wounded soldiers appreciate the little things that made the day bright. Like being alive.

“Okay boys what’ll be?” asked Michael in his soft Belfast voice.

“Michael, what have I been telling ya since we’ve been coming here? Huh?”

“Yes Mr. Vecchio”, answered Michael. “Mr. Wratchford’s money is no good in this establishment”

Vecchio gave an approving nod as Michael poured two pints.

A balled up 10 pound note bounced off Vecchio’s brow.

“Ya want me to punch you in your wounded leg hayseed?” yelled Vecchio.

“Here ya go boys”, said Michael as the pints placed down front of them.

“Hey Michael have you seen Wratchfordï’s girl?”, asked Vecchio. “She’s a dish!”

“She’s not a dish”, growled Wratchford as he sipped the ale. “She’s my fiance”

“Let’s see the pic”, said Vecchio. “You’re gonna die when you see her Michael”

“I hope not”, mumbled Michael.

Wratchford carefully pulled a small black and white photograph from his breast pocket. Michael and Vecchio gazed at the image.

“You say anything Vecchio”, warned Wratchford. “And I’ll kick your shiny Sicilian ass all the way back to goddam Flatbush Avenue”

*

The free fall from last night lasted only few minutes when the parachute opened. Being able to guide closer to the tower roof tops was an advantage. Except for a few anti-partisan operations against Tito in Yugoslavia none of these tactics and gear were fully applied to the Nazi war effort. He landed hard and almost got pulled over the ledge. Holding on with all of his might he pulled the shoot close and packed it into a small bag.

As the night security man emerged from the door to inspect the rooftop he was seized in an iron grip and soon lay limp on the hard cold tower rooftop.

He gazed out to see a quiet early morning bursting into song. A happy London alive after over four years of stukas, vengeance weapons and all manner of Nazi wrath. The staid brick and wending lanes of a city finally free of terror. He cursed in Polish and went to work.

*

The happy crowd had become a sea of joy. The King lead his brood onto the balcony and the fluttering Union Jacks sailed in the wind. Elizabeth and Margaret kept a few respective steps behind. Such moments of gushing emotion triggered a reserve in Elizabeth. Maybe this Dionysian trice could be a chance for something that her station of life would never afford. She grabbed Margaret and stole away from the cold marble of Buckingham.

*

Major Hall sat for several minutes looking at the German. His hands were soft indicating no experience with heavy equipment or weapons. The tent was drafty and the German shivered. This man had never been in the field. He was in disguise. The question was: “Who was he?”

The junior officer entered with several photographs. Major Hall held the images up against the prisoner.

“Gutentag Herr Reichfurher Himmler”, said Hall.

Himmler let out a sigh of relief. His ruse was up. “Gott in Himmel”, muttered the SS leader.

*

Vecchio leaned against a street lamp and nodded to the passing throng with a tilt of his pint. He was busy thinking about getting back to Brooklyn.

A cockney woman grabbed Vecchio and lead him into a dance.

“Let’s see you have a go Yank!”, she said.

Vecchio took a few steps and walked off making sure not to spill his pint.

He never minded crowds and parties. His thoughts were back in Sheep’s Head Bay.

*

Elizabeth handed Margaret a drink and they cheered a throng of partiers dog-piling into a collective heap of alcoholic joy. Elizabeth recognized a few Desert Rats heroes resigning themselves to salvos of kisses and hugs from sexy pub maids and girls out for that great night of thrills to be bragged about in the decades to come. They will be civilians again and that means the pursuit of the norm. Hope filled marriages and an end to rationing. It both appalled and impressed her to hear that in the midst of a world war the standard of living in the US was on the rise while her sceptered isle was until recently still reeling from Goering’s Luftwaffe.

No one recognized her or Margaret. What a relief. A waiter sortied out from a fancy restaurant carrying a tray of glasses of champagne. Margaret winked to remind Elizabeth about the last time they tipped the bubbly. They laughed and toasted the waiter over their little secret.

*

The Prime Minister left the King and descended the stairs to a waiting car. A message was slipped into his hand that kept him standing on the street with the car door open. Having learned so long ago not to betray his fears and anxieties before others he remained silent and still.

*

The security in the Tower of London was impressive even as they lay as bludgeoned bodies and hog tied guards. The reckless smashing into where the Crown Jewels lay hardly mattered since there was no one to respond. The Pole remembered his days fighting the invading panzers as a lancer and the affect of machine gun fire on cavalry. His choice was either conscription into the Wehrmacht or slow starvation. That great morning of June 6th as the US First Infantry Division closed in on his bunker. His rising joy to run to these Americans with his arms up calling: “Don’t shoot, Polska!” He might even get to visit his cousin in Chicago. The barrel of a luger tapping on his coal scuttle helmet and the voice of the sergeant muttering: “If you run Adamski, I’ll shoot you.”

He was making progress and no one knew.

*

Lieutenant Ivers inspected the next shift of guards about to go on duty. He was chosen for this post for his impeccable focus on detail. Here was the last person you would send on a wild goose chase but he was the only one available.

The detail stood at attention in their scarlet tunics and bearskin helmets. Ivers carefully inspected each and every guardsman. Stopping before a soldier the young lieutenant thought he spied a loose button. Before he could say anything the door flew open.

“Lieutenant Ivers”, boomed a voice heard from many radio broadcasts.

“Sir!”, called the young officer coming to attention.

The Prime Minister explained the situation. When he was finished he asked the lieutenant: “Have you any questions?”

“No sir”, replied Ivers. His head swam with confusion.

“Now there’ll no talk of this once it’s over”, confided the Prime Minister.

“Yes Sir, Mister Prime Minister.”

Ivers quickly gathered up several guardsmen who changed into civilian attire and exited Buckingham.

*

Major Hall listened to Himmler’s story. An aide entered and stood at attention as the Reichfurher spoke.

“My communique with the Swedish Ambassador was only one of many channels”, insisted Himmler. “My contacts in Lisbon and Madrid carried the same message”

“That message being?”, asked Major Hall.

“We . . . I mean I became aware of a mission to steal the Crown Jewels”

Hall marveled at Himmler’s command of the King’s English. He was always impressed with the ability of many captured German officers to speak English fluently.

“Steal the Crown Jewels?”, wondered Hall.

*

Elizabeth sat at an outdoor table letting a funny Czech RAF pilot think he was winning her over. He had no idea who he was talking to. She didn’t exactly know how to give him the brush off. He already had a blood red lipstick stain on his handsomely chiseled cheek. The thrill of anonymity. To live in London and no one caring a lick who you were and where you came from. How she envied the common people.

*

Major Hall paced back and forth as Himmler spilled the details on the operation to steal the crown jewels.

“Is that everything?”, demanded Hall.

“No Major, there’s something more”, offered Himmler.

“Well let’s have it!”

“I knew that the plan was doomed from the start”

“What?”

“As the war took its final turn a contingency arose”

“Please continue Herr Reichfurher”, ordered Hall.

“While it seemed a good idea to disrupt the allied war effort by stealing the Crown Jewels”, stammered Himmler. “We also had placed an agent in to assassinate the operative. That way you would see how we wished to cooperate with you against the Bolshevik threat”

“You have an agent attempting to steal . . .”

“Not attempting”, interrupted Himmler.

“And an assassin dropped in to kill him?”

“Yes Major Hall”, said Himmler. “Well, not dropped in. Planted years before. Specifically for these types of operations”

The major handed him a handkerchief to wipe away the beads of sweat rolling down his forehead and clean his spectacles.

*

Grede could not believe her luck. Elizabeth was flirting with her stupid Czech boyfriend. She had been a deep cover agent all these years and now this. Taking a name off a gravestone in Puddletown in Dorset, Grede forged a fool proof alias. She knew who Elizabeth was. What better excuse to visit the Tower of London. The final message had just arrived and the small radio receiver lay smashed to bits in a rubbish can.

A Glenn Miller album spun on a turntable placed on an outdoor table. Grede gave her dopey Slavic beau a nod of approval and he politely asked Elizabeth for a dance. Margaret ran up to her sister laughing. “We have the whole city to ourselves!”

“Can’t you see I’m dancing with an RAF pilot, Margaret”, said Elizabeth through her smile. “Don’t ever mention this to Philip”

Margaret understood and nodded to her whispering: “Chattanooga Choo Choo”

Grede saw the moment and approached Margaret with a glass of champagne.

*

“Hey that’s Glenn Miller playing”, said Vecchio as the melody drifted around the corner.

“My father shook his hand hardly a week before his plane went down”, offered Michael as he stood at the entrance of the pub.

Vecchio helped Wratchford with his crutches walk down the street

“It’s just around the corner”, said Wratchford.

The blur of running figures in trench coats raced past the two Americans.

*

Adamski shoved as many Crown Jewels into a black knapsack as he could fit. Daring a peek over the battlement, he saw the city still in the throes of revelry. He needed to slip past any remaining security and make it to the coast at Dover. There a u-boat would pick him up. From there he would be dropped off on the southern coast of still Nazi occupied Norway with the identity of a German Lieutenant in charge of medical supplies. No one would shoot an officer who could be put to use tending to the wounded. From there one of the last long ranging u-boats would make a dash for the South American continent.

Ivers and his men watched the street party before them. Suddenly there was glimpse of the future Queen’s short brunette hair under a womanï’s Auxiliary Territorial Service field cap.

“There! There she is!”, said Corporal Waters. “Lieutenant we must . . . !”

Ivers grabbed Waters by the collar.

“Orders are to keep an eye on the two princesses”, said Ivers. “We could create a commotion that may endanger them”

There stood the soldiers out of uniform and unable to execute their sworn duty to protect the young princesses. A joyous occasion punctuated with great danger. The Guardsmen could only gaze helplessly. A line of singing people with arms linked swept by and carried Elizabeth, Margaret, Grede and her silly boyfriend off like a tidal wave. Ivers signaled his men and they gave pursuit.

*

“The king’s daughters had left the palace and were here and there recognized and quickly surrounded by cheering men and women”, said the Prime Minister as he read from the prepared text. “The police told the crowds that the princesses wished to be treated as private individuals, and they were allowed go on their way”

An aide named O’Rourke stood by waiting for the Prime Minister.

“That will be the official statement for The Times sir?”

“That’s most of it O’Rourke. See to it that it gets into tomorrow’s edition”

“Very good Mr. Prime Minister”

O’Rourke turned and walked out of the room. He stopped and let out a short sharp laugh.

“What is it O’Rourke?”

“Beg your pardon sir”, answered O’Rourke. “It’s just the bit about our Princess Elizabeth doing the Lambeth Walk and . . . ”

“Let’s not belabor it O’Rourke. She is our future sovereign”

The Prime Minister waited for O’Rourke to be heard heading down the stairs before striding to an open window.

“God’s mercy”, he whispered to himself as if the Blitz had suddenly returned. “Where is she?”

*

Vecchio and Wratchford stood by a turn table as the rambunctious “In The Mood” played.

“That’s my favorite Glenn Miller song”, said Wratchford.

“You just missed it Yank”, quipped the waiter as he offered them champagne.

“Missed what?”, asked Vecchio as he took a sip and grimaced. “Hey this ain’t Schlitz!”

“Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret stood at this very spot drinking champagne and dancing to your late Mr. Miller”

“I bet she knows how to cut a rug”, laughed Vecchio.

“You got something to say about the royal family mate . . . !”

The host gave the waiter a deadly stare that silenced him.

“My esteemed Sicilian compadre has only the highest regard for your monarchy”, offered Wratchford in his softest Virginian patois.

*

The crowd dispersed at an intersection. Grede took the opportunity to chat up Elizabeth.

“Why yes, we could go on for days”, sighed the Heiress Presumptive.

“I just moved here from Dorset”, lied Grede in her acquired West Country accent. “Never thought I’d to see the day the war was over”

“My fiance wrote the same thing in his last letter”

“Oh yes . . . your fiance”, spoke Grede as she slowly turned the screw. “Lost mine at Arnhem”

Elizabeth’s healthy skepticism gave way to empathy. Here was a poor young woman who was living the loss that she feared would arrive in a telegram from a grieving servant. This was a first time for her. While the war had brought hardship on the people she was still taking horse back riding lessons and bemoaning the loss of a favorite corgi.

Ivers and his men caught up to them. He motioned his Guardsmen to hold still. The two princesses seemed safe and happy. The Lieutenant almost felt guilty spying upon a loose knit group of happy partiers.

“Oh I could never do that!”, laughed Elizabeth.

“I apologize Your Highness”, said Grede meekly.

Grede had taken a big chance in revealing that she knew who Elizabeth was.

“No need”, responded Elizabeth. “This is the last day for protocol”

“You’re too kind!” said Grede in a burst of affection leading to her gently touching the arm of the princess.

Private Pym drew his service revolver and lunged toward them only to be slammed against bonnet of a car.

Elizabeth, Grede and the others turned to see the commotion.

“Oi cocker!”, bragged Ivers. “You’ve had enough!”

Ivers forced a drunken laugh as he slipped the pistol into his trench coat pocket.

“Let’s go mates!”, bellowed Ivers. “Next round is on this drunken sot”

Elizabeth thought she recognized the men from somewhere.

“Friends of yours?”, joked Grede.

Elizabeth savored the moment to enjoy first hand the rough and tumble of London street life. After so many years of curtsies, predestined goals and well rounded schedules everything for the moment seemed so fresh and spontaneous.

Elizabeth felt a laugh erupting as she casually shrugged.

Ivers watched Elizabeth lead the partiers towards the Tower of London.

“You broke my hand Lieuntenant!”, gasped Pym.

“Better I should break you neck”, hissed Ivers.

*

The Prime Minister quickly read the dispatch.

“So Herr Himmler insists that is all off-the-record”, pondered the Prime Minister finding something to laugh about. “As he so curtly puts it: It’s an unofficial interrogation”.

“He mentions the attempt on the Tower of London”, said O’Rourke.

A phone rang and O’Rourke answered it.

The Prime Minister savored the moment of bagging the Reichfuhrer.

“Yes . . . yes . . that’s right”, continued O’Rourke. “Oh! Mr. Prime Minister, we have the latest on the whereabouts of the princesses”

“Let’s have it O’Rourke!”

“They were last seen headed for the Tower of London”

“Is that Ivers reporting?”

“It’s the field office calling in for him sir”

“Put me through to Ivers on a direct line”

*

Ivers stood in a phone booth as his men milled about.

“Yes sir Mr. Prime Minister we’ve maintained a safe distance”, said Ivers. “She and Princess Margaret have fallen in with a rather motley crew and are heading towards the Tower of London”

The Prime Minister could not bear to order the two princesses to be swept up like errant bundles of laundry and delivered back to the dank security of Buckingham. He would dread having to face Elizabeth as a sitting queen and how she would deal with her first minister who deprived her of the few hours of unfettered freedom in her long illustrious life.

*

Major Hall returned to the interrogation room to find Himmler pacing back and forth.

“Ah excuse me Herr Major”, laughed Himmler. “My optimism has gotten the best of me”

“Optimism Herr Reichfurher?”

“That you and I are the vanguard of an all out counter measure against the Bolshevik horde”

“I see”, said Major Hall as he placed two cups of tea on a table.

“It’s exactly what I conveyed to Swedish Ambassador!”, exhorted Himmler.

Major Hall’s photographic memory remembered everything.

*

Adamski rapelled down the side of the White Tower. Twelve feet from the ground he let go of the rope and hit the soft green grass with a body roll. Springing to his feet he heard the sounds of partiers. A raven gave him the once over and sauntered away.

“Who’s that?”, called a woman’s voice.

Adamski wheeled around to see a group of partiers closing in on him.

“Is the Tower of London closed today?” asked Grede incredously.

Adamski figured he’d run into merry-makers at some point. The cheerful brunette in the ATC uniform was too familiar for comfort.

“Don’t rightly know”, answered Adamski in as a flat accent as he could attempt. “I’m just off shift” He casually walked off with his bulging satchel slung over one shoulder.

Something about the satchel set an alarm off in Elizabeth’s head. Striding several steps she grabbed Adamski by the shoulder and spun him around.

“Empty that bag now!”

A webley mark 4 pistol slid down the sleeve of Grede’s sleeve into her palm.

Ivers and the guardsmen appeared just as Grede leveled the pistol towards Elizabeth and Adamski.

A bullet ripped into Grede’s arm sending her shot wild over Elizabeth and Adamski’s heads.

The guardsmen charged Grede as she spun around and fire wildly.

Quickly reloading Grede saw no sign of Adamski. Corporal Pym lifted his head and was met with a salvo of bullets.

Grede ran towards Elizabeth who was covering Margaret.

“Where did he go?”, demanded Grede.

Elizabeth pointed in the direction of Adamski’s flight. Red blood drops littered the green lawn. Her shot had hit home. Grede sprinted off heedless of the guardsmen pistol fire.

Ivers reached Elizabeth and Margaret. He let out a sigh that there were no wounds.

“Lieutenant Ivers!”, exclaimed Elizabeth finally recognized the Guards officer. “You’ve been following us all along, haven’t you?”

Ivers was too relieved to answer Elizabeth. He signaled the guardsmen that all was clear.

“She’s gone sir!”, called Pym.

Ivers stood up to hear the sound of pistol fire. There was no sign of Grede.

Pym lead the guardsmen in the direction of the gun shots.

Ivers was about to shout out an order when he relented. His mission was accomplished. Give Pym and the boys a chase. They were set loose. The dogs of a war that was already over.

Across the red brick and asphalt lanes they sped. A bullet wound made a blood red stain smack on Adamski’s cheek. When was the last time he had a woman who didn’t resemble a duffle bag? Doubling back across Trafalgar Square gave Adamski a few more minutes before heading for Victoria Station. As he paused to catch his breath the sharp crack of a bullet winged past his head.

*

“Of course this information is of great benefit to you major”, offered Himmler in his most generous manner.

Major Hall nodded politely.

Hitler’s former henchman continued for hours. Hall listened. He had nothing better to do.

*

Pym and the guardsman slithered and surged through the happiest throngs in London’s memory. Emerging into an opening they would wheel about for any bearing only to be engulfed by pure cockney joy. The buzz bombs were too recent in memory. The sadness would remain in rations and tedious gray for another day.

In their gray trench coats and hanging fedoras Pym and his men drew almost no attention. They snaked and raced through the crowds.

*

Grede jumped onto the departing train. Her bleeding arm wound was wrapped with a loose handkerchief hidden by a sleeve. She hid her gun as she moved from one car to another. Adamski crouched down almost under a seat. He spied her carefully stepping down the aisle.

As she disappeared into the next car Adamski settled into a seat and flipped through discarded newspaper whose headlines declared the end of the war. “Not for me”, he thought.

The train sped south under a moonlight sky minus bombers and vengeance rockets past towns ablaze not with incendiary flames but grateful anglo-saxons glad just to be alive.

*

The soft glow of a sun dawned on a Europe finally at peace. Grede mumbled as she woke from a quick nap in an empty car. She quickly came to her senses as the train pulled into Dover station. Adamski had to be getting off here to rendezvous with the u-boat.

Stepping off the train she saw nothing.

*

A lone figure trotted across the rolling green that abruptly halted at the white cliffs of Dover. The submarine would surface at any minute. Adamski look about for sufficient cover as a bullet tore through his shoulder.

*

“Major Hall you have exclusive rights to my story”, smirked Himmler. “Think of the historical implications”

Major Hall was about to hand over the captured Reichfurher to higher authorities. He hesitated.

“As I was saying Major”, bragged Himmler.

*

“Lieutenant Ivers”, said Elizabeth. “Please escort my sister Margaret home. I would like to walk back alone”

Ivers wanted to object but he knew he could not.

“This is between you and me”

The night had quieted the city and softened everything. This would be her only opportunity to find London in its silent moments. When a city sleeps its brick walls, asphalt lanes and cruel curves become weaving tales to be told. An imagination like Elizabeth’s danced, sang and giggled as she wended her way back to the frigid battlements of Buckingham.

Elizabeth passed a grandmother reading a letter from a grandchild about doodlebugs.

*

Bullets zinged past Adamski as he waded into the surf. High on a bluff Grede checked to see she had a few rounds left. Adamski tried swimming but the still bleeding wound weakened him. As he slipped under the waves a beefy arm grabbed him by the scruff of his neck and pulled him onto a small launch. Grede carefully aimed and fired. A sailor manning the deck gun cursed as a bullet ricocheted off the hull of the u-boat. The u-boat captain wondered how long he could prevent his crew from returning fire. Grede watched the tiny figures of men scrambled into the u-boat. She had one shot left.

*

The Prime Minister stood at ease as Elizabeth praised his radio broadcast announcing the unconditional surrender. Ivers, Pym and the rest of the guardsman had been conveniently reassigned to scattered outposts from Kingston to New Delphi. No one knew. The ascendant sovereign smiled approvingly and dismissed her future first minister.

“How did you get home?”, asked Margaret.

Elizabeth flustered a bit with some correspondence and repositioned Philip’s framed photographic portrait on the desk. She wanted to tell of how this odd American soldier with a Brooklyn accent escorted her home and stood befuddled as she was whisked through Buckingham’s iron gates almost like a captured escapee. She turned around to see him standing aghast. “He had no idea who I was”, thought Elizabeth. Nothing made her happier than that.

*

Major Hall looked down at the still body of Heinrich Himmler. “Cyanide pill, sir”, diagnosed the medical orderly. Hall rolled his eyes at the thought of the impending debriefing.

*

It took until November before Adamski felt convinced that he had gotten the better half of the deal. The Crown Jewels had proven fake but he still made some pesos. Now he was sitting in a cafe in Buenos Aires with assorted fugitive Nazis and intelligence agents out to recruit him. His war would never end.

*

Vecchio and his friends stood outside Ebbets Field. Thankfully the heat of a Brooklyn summer had given way to a wonderful autumn breeze. Passing a newsstand he spied an image. A woman he had met a few years earlier. Purchasing the paper, he sat on his stoop while his wife howled at their children. The scepter and crown, the poise and confidence followed by a wry smile. He had walked her home one fateful dawn.

*

Michael watched the new employee do her best. He couldn’t find it in his Irish heart to fire her. The rationing continued as the Empire dissolved. Grede would sit after closing and confide to Michael how her Czech RAF boyfriend had left her for a younger woman.

“Sorry Michael”, chortled Grede in her West Country accent. “I guess I’m just damaged goods”

Michael smiled. “At least she means well,” he thought.

The End

Copyright 2003 David Martin

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