Cry for the forgotten part V
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It was 10 o'clock in the morning when I left the kitten's suite. We spent the early morning hours in each other's arms reaching newer heights of passion and whispering sweet words of love.
I knew I would see her again and I was anticipating our next moments together. I jumped into a checker cab and returned the rueful smile to the door attendant from the Ritz.
I had no doubt in my mind, my relationship with the kitten was the hot topic of the week in the kitchen and locker room of the Ritz.
I was wearing the sunglasses Miles gave me the night before and they managed to cover the brunt of the bruise on my eye.
I watched the passing traffic and found my mind wandering. I gently touched the corner of my eye, and smiled inwardly, remembering well the gentle healing kisses she placed on my bruise this morning.
That was the one thing about my kitten, she was warm and soft inside though she carried herself with a cool outer exterior. To tell you the truth, I was glad I was the only one she shared that with.
The cab pulled up to the curb and I exited handing the driver a dollar tip. He thanked me a thousand times, and I smiled, knowing it was the affect of the kitten that left me in such a generous mood.
I climbed the steps to my apartment and nodded, as a tall mulatto man opened the door. He was dressed impeccably in a light brown suit and had a deceiving angelic smile. Bus Stop was one of a set of twins that ran muscle for Tuvo. I noticed Tuvo never called back the extra muscle from the night before, and I wondered if I should be concerned.
I entered and climbed the flight of stairs. The door was open and the hypnotic smell of coffee wafted in the air calling to me. I found Tuvo and Miles sitting in their usual positions, with Jimmy hanging by the window.
I could tell by Jimmy's nod that the two spooks were sitting in their spot and running surveillance. For some reason that didn't seem to bother me as much as the krauts from the night before.
"Good morning, Cat. Is everything okay?"
I was a taken aback, having expected Tuvo and Miles to be ready to pounce on me about spending the night with the kitten again.
I removed my sunglasses, and saw Miles grimace when he got a good gander at the blue and purple bruise underneath my eye.
I couldn't figure out why it always bothered Miles, seeing how I had worse than this, and had even taken a bullet to my right shoulder once.
"Morning Tuvo, guys, and yes, everything is just fine."
I accepted the offered cup of coffee and winked. I smiled at him before taking the first sip. I knew he was glad to see I'd stopped acting like a jerk and spent the night with the kitten.
To tell you the truth, I was glad that I followed his advice and went to her. I admit at the time, I doubted it was the right thing to do, but it turned out to be the best decision I ever made.
I realized I was right in my earlier assessment. There was something about the kitten and me being together that Tuvo seemed to like.
"How's the eye feeling, Cat?"
It was Miles that asked. I had to chuckle, unlike Tuvo, Miles never had the stomach for seeing me hurt. Tuvo, on the other hand, wasn't as squeamish. In fact, he was the one that pulled the bullet out of my shoulder.
"A little sore, but it looks worse than what it feels."
I saw the flash of relief cross his eyes and I was touched by his sentiment. There was no way I was going to share with them the kitten was the best slave for my sore eye, or any other part of my body for that matter.
"It never would have happened if I'd been there to watch your back. The goon never would have laid a finger on you. I would have iced him, if he even looked at you funny."
I was touched by the sincere and honest statement coming from Miles, and I had to smile. Miles never liked Eugene and was quick to jump all over him when given the opportunity.
I was forced to admit there was a lot of truth to his feelings. It seemed that every time I took a hit Eugene was always the one watching my back.
It was something that Miles and Tuvo hated the most about Eugene, whenever I had them watching my back, the suckers never laid a glove on me.
"Not so good, he had his jaw wired and he's staying with Tiny's Lucille for now."
Tuvo and I laughed outright, knowing damn well that Eugene would be in his own private hell right about now. There was one thing about Lucille she did not take any crap from anyone, and Eugene was in for a rude awakening.
Tuvo straightened up and gave me that knowing stare. I figured he wanted to make sure everything was fine between the kitten and me, that somehow I'd managed to get my head unstuck from my ass.
I tilted my head and gave him one of my warm smiles. It amazed me how somewhere along the lines of our friendship we managed to be able to read each other's thoughts.
"We worked it out Tuvo, and things are good between us."
He nodded his head in approval and I knew my answer pleased him. I have to admit, it made me feel good to say it.
I found my mind wandering back to the kitten as I slowly sipped my coffee. I could tell from his steady gaze, we would be elaborating further on this later.
After several quiet minutes, I placed the coffee down on the table in front of me and leaned forward in my chair. Tuvo became alert and was all ears; he always had a way of reading me.
"What's the game plan, Cat?"
"I want the protection on the kitten, Tiny and Bobo can cover her. Then we need to see the mad scientist Dr. Charleston. I'm almost convinced the Germans have the skirt, but just in case, let's not rule Charleston out either."
"What about the Germans?"
"Yeah, well, before we were so rudely interrupted by the Doctor last night, I managed to get the location of the skirt."
Tuvo leaned in, as the bit of information I just laid on him caught his attention. I watched his eyes grow bright with approval. I guess, he must have thought, I had nothing but this shiner for my troubles.
"Where is she?"
"They're holding her at some safe house on 84th street and 1st Avenue. I wasn't able to get an exact address, but it can't be to difficult to find them."
"I'll send Bus Stop and Whitey, and have them check out the area and see what they can come up with. They both got a good look at the Germans last night and should be able to ID them right away."
"I figure we can catch up with them after we have our chat with the mad scientist."
"Very good, I'll send them out now, just in case they decide to move her."
He made a slight nod of his head to Miles, who quickly exited the room to relay the new set of orders to Bus Stop and Whitey.
Jimmy also left the room, no doubt he would be replacing Bus Stop at the door. That was the one thing about Tuvo's team, they worked as a tight unit and knew how to spring into action without a single word being said.
Tuvo and I were suddenly left alone and he searched my face. I knew right away, he was going to ask me about the kitten. Tuvo always made sure not to leave any stone unturned. I guess he was waiting for us to be left on our own to discuss it.
"So, did you talk to her?"
"Yeah, we talked."
I chuckled lightly, because I knew he was not going to let it go until he heard me say it. It was his subtle way of forcing me to face my fears.
"And, we worked things out and it's good. We have a better understanding of one another. I don't know what it is about her, one minute I want to kill her and the next, well..."
"I'm glad. She's good for you and you need someone like her to keep you honest."
I laughed at his remark. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"You know exactly what that means. You've been running around like a wild alley cat for four years. It's about time you settled down and she's the right person to keep you in line."
"I didn't know I needed to be kept in line. I think I've done pretty good for myself."
"Don't try to cloud the issue, Cat. This is me you are talking to, and you know exactly what I mean. Ever since Hobbes took off, you've been working overtime to distance yourself and prevent anyone from getting too close. Dr. Hansen is the cure for that restless itch you have, and if you stop being so damn stubborn about it, you'd take notice. Hobbes was a worthless spineless fool, who couldn't spit shine his own shoes without getting it on his socks. You have a good chance here with Dr. Hansen, she's a class act and deserves only the best. So stop acting like an ornery alley cat and act like the lady you are."
I have to admit, I was never so elegantly insulted in my life, and the fact that it came from my best friend was a tough pill to swallow.
I was ready to mount my defense when I saw the look in his eyes. The one that told me that no matter what I said he was ready to counter it.
I gave his words a few moments to settle in, and realized that the part that bothered me the most was, that he was right. It also didn't leave me feeling good knowing he was taking the kitten's side against me. Tuvo was my best friend.
I stared at my hands and spun his words around in my head, the thought of saying something clever or sarcastic occurred to me. I knew he was determined and I'd never stand a chance. It was time to face the music and admit the truth to my self.
"You're right, and I can always depend on you to set the record straight. I never would have guessed in a million years I'd fall so hard for her."
"So then I'm right in assuming you love her?"
I nodded my head silently, it was one thing to admit it to myself and even voice it out loud to the kitten, but for some reason, I couldn't say it out loud to my best friend. I guess it was just too personal and private to me, and I wanted to keep it that way.
"And is she returning your sentiment?"
It was Tuvo's quiet way of finding out how things were really situated and letting me know to keep my feet planted on the ground. As much as he liked the kitten, he wanted to make sure I wouldn't be hurt in the process.
"Yes she is, and I know she isn't lying, not about this. I guess you can say the feeling is mutual between us."
Tuvo slapped his knees a sure sign that he was pleased with the outcome. I could tell he was relieved that he got me to face my jealousy and think straight for a change.
"Good and I expect that you'll be acting like a lady?"
"You have my word. She's taken all the fight out of me Tuvo and it would be futile to deny it. She's won square and fair."
Tuvo chuckled slightly and he gave me that look. The one that said "Oh how the mighty have fallen." I could tell in his crooked smile he had a newfound respect for the kitten and admired her tenacity.
"Then I won't be having this conversation with you again."
In all the years I've known Tuvo, he never threatened me before and it was obvious to see where he stood in this matter. Somewhere along the line, the kitten had managed to ingrain herself in his heart, which wasn't an easy thing to do.
I made a mental note to myself, to tread carefully whenever I would be in their company. It was plain to see Tuvo would be siding with the kitten against me.
I smiled proudly thinking of my kitten, admiring the way she managed to slink her way in to the heart of two of the biggest curmudgeons on earth.
We exited the apartment, hopped into Tuvo's caddy, and chuckled lightly, as the tails promptly pulled up in two cars behind us. It amazed me that they would think we didn't spot them immediately. I guess, they figured we were amateurs.
After six steady weeks of hot and humid weather, we managed to catch a break and the day was cool and cloudy. We headed uptown towards Columbia University to meet Dr. Charleston.
The traffic was flowing smoothly and we both retreated to our private thoughts. I didn't know what Tuvo was thinking about, but mine all ended with a satisfied kitten in my arms.
Jimmy pulled up to the curb, and Tuvo and I jumped out and headed towards the entrance. The two spooks had scrambled out of their car in a rush and seemed to be concerned about our destination.
We noticed how the tall one headed to a phone booth on the corner and fumbled feebly for pocket change. It was pretty obvious he was nervous because he kept dropping his change on the floor.
Without saying anything to each other, I immediately stopped and pretended to look for my pack of smokes. Tuvo pulled out a pack from his inside pocket and we made sure to take our time about it.
I removed a cigarette from the pack and popped it in my mouth, while offering the pack to Tuvo who quickly declined. I knew he would. However, I always made sure to bait him anyway.
See, it was a strange thing about Tuvo, he kicked the habit four years ago and for some reason, he never stopped carrying smokes. It dawned on me this was his way of testing his will power and self-control.
He pretended it took more than one attempt to light my cigarette, while all along our vision was glued to the spook on the telephone. I took a long pull, before I let out a white cloud of smoke, just as the spook was hanging up the telephone.
We participated in idle chitchat and watched when the tall spook exited the phone booth and ran quickly to the smaller spook. They were involved in an animated conversation, when they turned towards their car and climbed in, taking off to parts unknown.
We both gave each other a quizzical stare, and silently wondered what the two spooks were up to. It was Tuvo who finally regained his senses and headed to the same phone booth the spook just vacated.
He reached into his pocket, retrieved the right change, and placed a call to the kitten at the Ritz. The telephone rang several times before the operator came on and took his message: it seemed the kitten wasn't in her suite.
After exchanging a few more pleasantries he hung up the telephone and waved to Miles never once saying a word to me. I watched him with interest knowing there was something gnawing at him.
Miles quickly walked over, and Tuvo leaned in and whispered something in his ear. The corner of Miles eyes scanned me quickly before returning to Tuvo. I knew something was up and it showed in their body language.
I felt the hairs on the back of my neck begin to rise and I suddenly felt scared for my kitten. I had a strange feeling in the pit of my stomach and felt my chest begin to close.
Miles nodded his head and quickly departed our company never once saying a word. He ran towards the caddy, and I watched him climb in and give orders to Jimmy. I saw the rapid movement of his hands and knew Miles was visibly concerned.
I turned towards Tuvo and gave him the stare, the one where I wanted answers and I wanted them now. For some reason, I knew this had to do with the kitten, and I felt nervous.
"You want to tell me what's going on?"
"I'm not sure, I'm just playing a hunch."
I chuckled sarcastically and stared at Tuvo hard. I suddenly realized why Tuvo liked the kitten so much. They both had similar personalities. Trying to get answers out of them was as difficult as singing a duet with a mute.
I wondered if I should have had an affair with Tuvo and never gotten involved with the kitten at all. Having one Tuvo in my life was bad enough and there was no denying the kitten was just like him.
"What hunch is that?"
There was an edge of concern in my voice and I wanted Tuvo to notice it. He may have been tight-lipped, but I always had a way of melting his heart. I knew that if I leveled enough emotion in my tone, he would spill the beans.
"Let's just say I'm taking some precautionary measures."
I knew from his statement that he wasn't going to elaborate any further. It was his way of preventing me from becoming concerned over the kitten's safety. Though I knew she was safe, I couldn't stop the rising fear from engulfing me.
If Tuvo's intentions were to protect me, it had the opposite effect. My heart started beating wildly in my chest and I felt a sudden headache coming on. If Tuvo was concerned, then I was concerned. I learned long ago he had great instincts in this matter.
I continued rubbing my throbbing forehead and spoke to him without looking at him. My own wheels were spinning and trying to unravel what is was that had Tuvo so edgy.
"What precautionary measures?"
This was my kitten we were talking about, not some run of the mill client that just walked in off the streets. If she was in trouble, I needed to know that.
"It's nothing to concern yourself about, Cat. Its' just a hunch I'm playing. I'm sure everything is all right."
He grabbed me by my arm and guided me towards the entrance. I knew it was his way of distracting me and getting me to focus on something other than the rising fear enveloping me.
It did little to sooth my nerves, but I had to put my trust in him and know that somehow he would handle it properly. I swallowed the lump that settled in my throat as we entered the building and headed to Dr. Charleston's office.
Unlike Gretchen's office Dr. Charleston's was located on the second floor. The glass panel had his name and title in gold letters. We knocked before we entered, and a soft feminine voice invited us in.
His office was large and had another inner room: his secretary sat behind a pine desk. It was obvious the mad scientist had an affinity for antique torture devices.
The office was decorated with an assorted mixture of metal and wooden devices. Each one designed to inflict pain and torture.
There were various black and white photos of different torture techniques hanging on the wall. The evident display of pain was noted on the victim's faces and it was obvious they weren't fakes. The sight sickened me.
I looked at Tuvo in disbelief and saw how uncomfortable he appeared. It was like stepping into another place and time, or some tacky show meant to shock and scare in Coney Island.
There was a wooden device with three holes where the intended victim would have her hands and head locked into place. I was able to identify it as a shrew's fiddle, designed as a form of punishment to keep women in line in colonial days.
My eyes began to hurt, as I quickly scanned the room and identified over a hundred artifacts. I could see why they called him the mad scientist.
Two things immediately struck me. The first, what the hell was the skirt thinking of when she became involved with this freak, and the other, that he was a sadist. I'm sure he kept a picture of the Marquis De Sade in his wallet.
The secretary was a frail waif with mousy brown hair, a large nose and warm doe eyes. I was quick to note the various discoloring bruises on her person. She made no attempt to disguise them, and I became sickened by the implications.
She pointed to a wrought iron settee with no cushions and indicated we should sit down. Tuvo and I exchanged glances, and my disgust was mirrored in his eyes: we chose to stand.
After what seemed like a half-hour, we were shown into the inner office. Dr. Charleston was sitting behind a large dark table, hand carved in ironwood.
I quirked my lips in distaste, and thought to myself he would pick out a table like that. The poor sucker that carved it must have lost his hands in the process and became a cripple for life.
Dr Charleston was a large burly man, with black hair cropped short, and a strawberry birthmark over his left eye. The pattern of the birthmark resembled a spider web, which I thought was ironic.
He had dark eyes and one of those phony smiles plastered on his face. He must have spent his whole life practicing it until he had it down to a science.
I could tell by gleam of his eyes he was dangerous, and had more than crossed that thin line between genius and insanity. This freak was a certifiable crackpot, that made Hitler look like a baby.
I was beginning to appreciate the kitten's and the skirt's concerns at the mad scientist having access to their findings. I had little doubt, he would use the information for his own twisted purposes.
He extended his hand outward, and stood taking my hand firmly into his. I noticed that he squeezed it a little tighter than was necessary. I felt the pain shoot through my arm and did my level best to ignore it.
I was determined not to let the freak get his cookies off on inflicting a little pain on me. I gave him one of my forced smiles and backed it up with a forceful glare.
He blinked, and I knew I won this round. I could see he wasn't the least bit pleased with the outcome. He left Tuvo standing with his hand hanging in the air and motioned us to sit.
I was able to determine this freak liked picking on the weaker of the sex. I was ready willing, and able to show him he'd just barked up the wrong tree. I had an inner sense of satisfaction knowing I was going to get the chance to rattle his cage.
"Dr. Charleston, I was hired by Dr. Hansen to investigate the disappearance of Dr. Janeson. I appreciate you taking the time out of your busy schedule to see us."
I hated having to kiss up to the freak, but I knew I had to play my cards right and keep a level head. I found that it was a hard thing to do, when I noticed his feral leer at the mention of my kitten's name.
It bothered me knowing what was behind that stare, and when he licked his lips, it took every ounce of control I had not to leap over the desk and punch his lights out.
It was one thing if he wanted to diddle around with the skirt, but the kitten belonged to me, and I wasn't about to share her with anyone. I felt the slight curl to my lip forming and I tried hard to bite down on my anger, my eyes spewing daggers at him.
The freak flinched slightly, and both Tuvo and I were quick to spot it. Unbeknownst to the mad scientist, he just handed me the upper hand. In his own ignorant way, he let me know he could be scared; it figured he would be a coward at heart.
He took his time before he answered, and it was a practiced and controlled tone.
"I don't know how I can help you, as I explained to both the police and the OSS, I don't know what could have happened to Dr. Janeson that would make her defect. I guess it's what she meant all along."
I stared at the freak with a look of obvious disgust, it was plain as the nose on his face, that he was lying. I suddenly began to readdress the issue in my mind and came to a conclusion.
"Dr. Charleston is there something you can tell us about her state of mind? Why would she defect? From what I understand, Dr. Janeson despised the Germans."
"Well, I know that Dr. Janeson was distraught recently. It seems she hit a brick wall in attempting to prove her hypothesis and was unable to come to terms with it. You are aware, that Dr. Janeson lived in Germany for several years?"
It was the freaks way of diverting me to suspect the skirt was in league with the Germans all along. Instead, he managed to convince me further of my conclusion the freak was involved in this knee deep.
"Yes, I'm aware of that. Tell me Dr. Charleston, when was the last time you had any contact with Dr. Janeson?"
"The night before her disappearance, I called her to let her know the meeting was postponed several hours."
"Why was that Dr?"
"We were waiting the arrival of Opennhiemer and he was delayed due to bad weather."
"What was the purpose of this conference?"
"Nothing major really, it was going to be a think tank conference."
"So you were going to exchange ideas?"
"Something like that, yes."
"Do you know what was the last thing Dr. Janeson was working on?"
"She thought she resolved the mystery for assembling and reassembling matter."
"You doubt her findings, Dr?"
"Let's just say we had a difference of opinion."
"Enough that you would like to see her disappear?"
"It was a difference of opinion detective. We're educated people we resolve our differences in the lab room, not an alley."
"I see. Tell me Dr. Charleston, have you ever heard of temporal singularities?"
A shadow of fear mixed with anger flashed quickly across his dark brown eyes. It was evident he didn't see it coming and he didn't like it one bit. The freak liked being in charge and didn't take kindly to being countermanded.
"As I mentioned earlier, Dr. Janeson wasn't acting rational in the month leading to her defection. I'm afraid, without wanting to blemish her reputation, she was losing control of her senses."
"You're saying, Dr. Janeson was losing control of her mental faculties."
"There's a thin line between genius and insanity, and Dr. Janeson managed to cross that line."
It was obvious in which direction he was headed, and to tell you the truth, I didn't like it. For some reason, it bothered me that the freak was demeaning the skirt. I don't know, maybe the kitten was starting to rub off on me.
"Strange, I heard someone described you in the same fashion."
He was unable to hide the simmering anger and I noticed his face flushing with the heat of rage. I knew I managed to strike a blow and the freak didn't like it. Evidently, he held a high opinion of himself that the rest of the world didn't share.
"Will that be all, detective?"
There was a bite to his words, and he must of thought it would scare me in some fashion. I felt Tuvo kick me discreetly and actually chuckled aloud. I succeeded in causing the freak to lose his cool and he rose abruptly from his chair.
Tuvo immediately stood and I along with him. I stared right into the freak's eyes and scanned him up and down with a look of utter revulsion. I added a slight curl of loathing and utter contempt to my lip, and turned abruptly exiting his office.
Tuvo was hot on my heels and he slammed the door to the freaks inner sanctum. We heard his scream of rage behind the closed door as he called to his mousy secretary.
She quickly rose and headed towards his office. I stopped her by the arm, locked on to her eyes and I saw a level of fear. By the same token, there was a glow of excitement to her face.
I lowered my voice to a condescending level and spat out to her.
"You don't have to do this."
She shook my arm off forcibly, shot me a hateful glare, and then continued in the direction of the freak's office. I turned to her and spat out in disgust.
She spun to look at me and I snarled my lip at her. Tuvo grabbed me by my arm and pushed me out the door. My body was trembling with anger and outrage and I stopped in the cool hall to compose my self.
My hands were shaking and I took a deep breath to calm my nerves. I imagined in my mind, the punishment the freak would be doling out to his mousy secretary and I felt the bile rise to my throat.
Tuvo placed his arm around my shoulders and quietly led me out of the building. The rush of cool air striking my face was a welcome relief, and I inhaled deeply and expelled it slowly.
I felt the anger releasing its hold on me and the taste of bile slowly subsided. I held my head up high and continued walking in a trance. Tuvo stuck closely by my side. We hailed a cab and headed back to the apartment.
We waited until we arrived at the apartment before discussing the outcome of our interview with Dr. Charleston. I crossed the room, sat in the chair, and watched as Tuvo retrieved a bottle of whiskey and poured me a glass.
He crossed the room and handed me the drink. I took it blindly from his grasp and took the first swallow. I felt the hot golden liquid burn a trail down my throat and it managed to ease the queasiness I felt.
In a hoarse low voice, I spoke the first words since leaving the freak's office. My skin was covered in gooseflesh and I shivered inwardly.
"What do you think?"
Though I asked the question, I already knew the answer. I needed to hear Tuvo say it. I needed him to confirm verbally what I knew in my mind was a fact. For a minute, I resented asking the question, not wanting to hear the response.
"It's obvious he's a sociopath and a pathological liar. I don't think we should dismiss him so easily. He may have more to do with this than meets the eye."
"My thoughts exactly. God, I would have loved to stick a knife in his heart."
"There's no sense you losing your cool here, Cat. You need to keep your head straight."
I nodded silently and I could tell my features betrayed my inner thoughts. I felt my face flexing, the obvious look of disgust and hatred forming and settling, refusing to relinquish its hold.
"I want a tail on him". I spat the order sharply and all the while I continued to stare into dead air.
He snapped his fingers and a tall mulatto guard quietly entered the room. He lowered his head to Tuvo, who quickly whispered the orders in his ear. The guard shook his head and quietly left. The freak was now on the short list of suspects.
Several hours passed and I remained in my trance. My thoughts wandering and trying to shake off the sickening feeling the visit with the freak left me. I was suddenly startled by the ringing of the telephone.
I jumped slightly at the loud ring, stood immediately, and answered it before it rang a third time. I recognized the voice right away, and I was glad to hear it. I needed the sound of innocence to shake me from the dark place.
"H-Hey Cat, I'm sorry I didn't get to you sooner."
"Hey Harold, what's blowing."
Harold had promised to call me back yesterday, and never did. Since I had my hands full with my own set of problems, I never bothered to follow through and call him back.
"It wasn't easy and I wasn't able to get all of the information right away."
"No sweat Harold, what did you manage to find?"
"It's not good, Cat, and I'm scared. I think someone is following me."
I was suddenly shaken clear of my dark mood as my natural instincts for protecting Harold kicked in. I really liked the kid and it wouldn't sit well with me if he got in trouble.
"Lay it on me, Harold."
"W-well the scientist Dr. Hansen is under investigation."
"Espionage, she has a checkered pass, Cat. The OSS has been monitoring her movements since the disappearance of her mentor, a Dr. Janeson."
"I already know that Harold, cut to the chase."
Harold had a tendency of beating around the bush, and at the moment, I didn't have the stomach for another round of story telling, the mad scientist had cured me of that.
"W-well, there's evidence she's had contact with Dr. Henke."
I felt the blow to my stomach and the air escaped my lips in a harsh breath. I could see this was going to be a banner day for me today, and I closed my eyes as I listened to the rest of Harold's tale.
"According to what I found, the OSS suspects Dr. Henke of being a German mole. They've been monitoring his movements for quite sometime now. They suspect he's building a spy network here and that he's been funneling information back to Germany."
"What type of information?"
"Well Dr. Henke sits on one of Roosevelt's taskforce panels. He was a key player in forging the financial strategy for the New Deal."
"Are you saying he's a personal friend of Roosevelt?"
"No not a friend, he's just the head of the taskforce panel for the Department of Finance."
"Harry, is their any indication Roosevelt is aware of this?"
"No, it seems Donavan has been playing this very close to his chest. I think he's afraid of blaming Henke of espionage without having solid proof."
"How did they get wind of this?"
"That's unknown right now, I couldn't find anything in the records".
"What's Dr. Hansen's relation to him."
"Well, they think she's one of his operatives. Cat, she's met him on six separate occasions and they have proof. The most recent contact was in New York, two days ago."
"In New York."
I tried my level best to stay in control, I wondered how someone so brilliant with numbers could be so ignorant when it came to common sense.
"I know in New York, what was the location when and where did she make contact"
"Oh, I-I'm sorry, Cat. In a movie theater on 52 street and Seventh Avenue."
"How did she make contact."
I breathed in deeply and controlled my anger, my tiny voice speaking out to me "really sometimes Harold could be such a schmuck."
"Oh, I see."
He stammered out an apology and I gently redirected him back to the question. He was already spooked and I didn't want him to turn tail on me and run.
"It's alright, Harold, no need to apologize. So how was it that she made contact?"
"Actually it's very clever, she passed her message on a dollar bill when she purchased her popcorn, pretty clever huh?"
"How do they know that?"
"Oh, because after she went back to her seat Henke appeared and purchased the same thing, popcorn with no butter. Pretty clever, huh?"
"Yeah, Harold, please continue."
I was starting to lose my patience in having to constantly redirect him to the conversation on hand.
"Well, he paid with a dollar bill and guess what? The clerk gave him a dollar back and Henke never stayed for the movie. He left twenty minutes after the show started."
"So Dr. Hansen passed Henke the note on the dollar bill?"
"Yep, it took us several months of watching them before we finally figured out how they made contact"
"What more can you tell me about Henke?"
"Don't you want to hear the rest on Dr. Hansen first?"
"Uh-huh. Before she left Germany she was detained by the SS."
"What's the point, Harold?"
"Gosh Cat, don't you know anything? The SS is Hitler's elite secret service. Anyway, after three days they let her go and deported her, and Dr. Janeson two days later."
"What are you saying, Harold?"
"Cat, nobody walks away from the SS. Not unless they're in a body bag or off to prison. Dr. Hansen was turned."
"You're saying she handed them Dr. Janeson? She let them know that it was Janeson that was funneling their top scientist out of Germany?"
"Why haven't they moved on her?"
"Because we haven't been able to locate where she hid Dr. Janeson."
"I see, Harold?"
"What about this Henke guy when did he move here from Germany?"
"Dr. Henke was born and raised here, Cat, in New York."
"Really? Well he speaks German like a native."
"Maybe so, but he's never left the US. He does travel to the West Coast a lot though. Oh and there's something else, did you know that Dr. Hansen is a pilot as well?"
"No, I wasn't aware of that."
"Yeah, she's the one that got Dr. Janeson to buy that Cabin Waco of hers."
"How do you know that?"
"It's registered under Dr. Hansen's name."
"Do you know the whereabouts of that plane?"
"It's in an airfield in Westchester."
"Thanks, Harold, you've been a great help."
"Don't you want to know the rest?"
"Yeah, a month ago we had a couple of agents get their hands on one of her encoded messages to Dr. Henke. They lifted it from him, in a phony bump and lift."
"What did it say?"
"It took me several weeks to figure it out, Cat. I didn't know at the time where it came from. They never tell me where the messages come from, they just give them to me and ask me to crack the code."
"I'm not judging you, Harold."
"They're coordinates to an airfield in Napa Valley and a date?"
"Where and when, Harold"
I signaled to Tuvo, and he quickly passed me my pad and pen. I jotted down the coordinates and date Harold managed to decode from the message.
According to Harold, the message was incomplete, and he was unable to break the last string of code that was encrypted in some format he wasn't able to crack.
"Thanks, Harold, I owe you."
"Sure, Cat, no problem talk to you again."
"Be careful, okay."
"Alright Cat, and good hearing from you. I'm sorry it took so long."
"No problem, Harold, take care."
I hung up the telephone and motioned to Tuvo to join me at the table. I quickly brought him up to speed on the information that Harold gave me.
His features were stern and he was deep in thought. There was no doubt, it was a lot to digest. A part of me wanted to believe that the kitten wasn't involved in this all the way up to her pretty neck. However, for some reason all the fingers were pointing to her.
Tuvo sighed deeply, and he flexed his brow before he finally looked up at me. I was interested in hearing his theory and wondered if it would match mine.
I caught his eye and motioned with my hands, a simple gesture I used a thousand times around him. It was something I did whenever I wanted his opinion on something.
"I don't know, Cat. They really only have circumstantial evidence."
"Tuvo, as much as it pains me to say this, even I'm having a hard time believing she had nothing to do with this."
"There isn't enough evidence to support that, Cat."
For a minute, I looked at Tuvo as if he had a monkey on his face. As much as it hurt me to think the kitten wasn't involved in this, even I couldn't overlook all of the facts.
"Tuvo, since the day she walked in my office she's been lying to me."
I felt my voice crack with emotion and my heart squeezing tighter in my chest. I wanted Tuvo to convince me I was wrong. But, my gut instinct was rearing its ugly head at my denial and I couldn't help but face the facts. My voice became low and the pain I felt in my heart reflected in my tone.
"These allegations may have some validity. Every time I turn around, I find her knee deep in the middle of it. You know she didn't want me to go and meet the pilot. Who is to say the reason was because she was afraid we would find out about her and Dr. Henke? Lord knows, I want to believe her, but my gut instinct is telling me she is responsible somehow. We can't discount the facts. Honestly, I just don't know what to believe anymore."
Tuvo was lost in deep thought and I knew he was thinking hard of what to say next. I watched as the various emotions slowly swept his proud face. He was looking at his hands and raised his head to me staring me right in my eyes.
"I disagree with you, Cat, I don't. Logic dictates there are mitigating circumstances here. I do not think it would do us any good to jump to any sudden conclusions. There just isn't enough evidence to prove her guilt."
"Okay, fine. Then perhaps you can explain her connection to Dr. Henke."
I tipped my head to the side and waited patiently for his response. Tuvo was one of the most logical, levelheaded, men I ever had the pleasure of meeting. The truth known, I wanted him to convince me I was wrong.
"I can't say I can do that without knowing more about this Dr. Henke. You must bear one thing in mind Cat. This is the OSS and they have a personal stake in this project. Who is to say, they are not the ones on the wrong side of the law? This is a covert agency accustomed to subterfuge and dirty tricks. I wouldn't take anything they have to say as gospel."
I breathed deeply, and I wished I could lose the tightening feeling pulling at my heart. Though his words weren't exactly convincing, I chose to put my faith in them.
"Are you implying the danger here is the OSS and not the Germans?"
There was no way that Tuvo was ever going to convince me that the Germans weren't worse than the OSS. I started having that sinking feeling again, and I knew Tuvo was grasping at straws.
"Cat, it reasons to say, that the OSS may not have the best intentions. I want to remind you, it's Dr. Charleston they've been backing all along not Dr. Hansen. The possibility exists, that it is Dr. Charleston who is at fault here, and not Dr. Hansen. She may be arrogant and not exactly tactful. However, if I had to choose between her and Dr. Charleston as to who is at fault, I'll choose Dr, Charleston every time.
I stood staring at Tuvo for several minutes and I was quick to note the conviction with which he spoke his words. For my own sake, as well as the kitten's, I prayed that inwardly his theory was correct.
"Alright, I'll grant that for now. However, I'm going to have a little talk with Annia about this after we catch up with her and Bus Stop."
"I think that's a good idea and I'd like to be present when this happens. I want to see for myself if Dr. Hansen is hiding anything."
"Fine. Then it's settled. Let's go and catch up with Bus Stop and see if they've found anything."
We ascended the stairs and climbed into the caddy. The traffic was building up and we took a little longer to reach 84th Street and First Avenue. Our car rolled slowly passed Bus Stop and Whitey. I nodded my head slightly as we went by them.
Whitey made a subtle motion and indicated towards a brown apartment building. He held three fingers in the air, which indicated the goons, were on the third floor of the building.
We continued slowing up to 87th street where Tuvo and me exited the car. We took our time walking back to 84th street. We determined, I would enter the building and meet Tuvo and Bus Top at the back door.
It took several minutes before someone finally exited and I managed to sneak into the place. The building was old and decaying, and the mixed odors of evening meals being prepared filled the air.
I could hear the muted voices of the tenants behind the closed doors, as I headed towards the back exit. The long corridor leading to the back was dark and cold. There was a certain smell of old decay present in passage.
I marveled at what a difference a few feet could make and continued down the long passage. I reached the door and found it was padlocked. I cursed inwardly as I removed a long thin file from my pocket.
The lock was cheap and it only made the task harder. The more expensive brands possessed a quick spring back and could be cracked faster. After fifteen minutes and five pounds of sweat, I finally got the damn thing to give.
Tuvo and Bus Stop were leaning against the wall with smug smiles on their faces. It was plain to see they were getting a kick at my difficulties with springing a lock. I quirked my mouth in disgust and they quickly followed.
Tuvo made various hand signals as we climbed the steps and headed towards the third floor. We knew what floor they were on, but we had no idea as to which apartment.
As we reached the landing on the third floor, we heard a door being opened. For a second, we panicked and froze in place. We heard the sound of small feet running towards us and we each let out our breaths.
A small child of seven with large brown eyes and brown hair froze in place and looked at us. There was an evident look of fear in his small cherub face. I shot him a large broad smile and he relaxed his angelic features.
His large saucer eyes quickly darted back and forth and I could tell he considered fleeing. He settled them on my face and drifted his vision downward following the length of my form.
It was obvious he was a little smitten by me and I had to stifle a chuckle. There was little doubt he would become quite a lady's man in the years to come. His face broke into a wide-toothless grin and he stood ogling me.
I reached into my pocket and pulled out a crispy dollar bill. His small hand hesitated slightly before reaching out and grabbing it. I placed my finger to my mouth and made a hushing sound. He shook his head up and down in response and continued to stare at me.
I leaned in and whispered quietly into his ear. His little smile broadened and he pointed a small finger to a dark green door. It was apartment number 3G and I patted him on the head.
He reached over to me and planted a wet sloppy kiss on my cheek before scurrying past me and down the stairs. The three of us remained stunned and watched his happy little form scampering down the stairs.
The ever-serious Bus Stop, chuckled and shook his head. I wiped the wet kiss from my cheek and smiled shaking my head in amazement. Tuvo leaned into me and pushed me with his shoulder all along stifling a rise of laughter.
We quietly walked to the door and Bus Stop took the lead with Tuvo bringing up the rear. He reached into his pocket and removed his gat. Bus Stop leaned his ear against the door and listened, as we quickly flanked him from each side.
He raised four fingers in the air, an indication that he was able to pick up four distinct voices from inside the apartment. His emerald green eyes locked onto mine and, for a moment, I was stunned by their brilliance.
Bus Stop was a rakishly handsome man with strong features and smooth flawless light skin. He nodded his head and tipped his shoulder downward butting it against the door.
He began a silent signal countdown and as his third finger went into the air he leaned back and rammed his shoulder against the door. The impact forced the lock to give way and broken wood flew past us.
We quickly rushed in and caught the first guard before he could fire his weapon. The other three had ample time to respond to our attack. The flash of fire and loud shouts rang out. We quickly scrambled for cover and dove into a large furnished living room.
Tuvo quickly pushed me behind a large overstuffed couch, as a passing bullet whizzed past me and missed my face by centimeters. The sound of return fire quickly ensued, and in a matter of an instant, a full-fledged battle broke out.
We heard the shouted commands spoken loudly over the sounds of gunfire and confusion. The sound of broken glass being shattered erupted behind us, and we quickly turned. Two goons were standing on the fire escape and suddenly we were taking heat from both sides.
I heard the stifled choked sound of pain as Tuvo took a hit to his chest and dropped his gun. His left had covering the gushing flow of blood from the bullet's entry.
I quickly rushed to him, and collected the weapon he dropped and proceeded to fire back. I struck the first guard dead on the left side of his chest, a crimson stain quickly formed on his immaculate white shirt, as he fell backwards into the street below.
Bus Stop took a position in front of us and I covered our backs. The second goon took a hit to the leg and dropped his gun to the streets below. His hands grasped around the whole left from the piercing bullet, as he screamed in pain. He stumbled several times and quickly climbed back up the metal stair of the fire escape.
A sudden barrage of bullets sailed past us from the front. I spun around quickly and after a quick re-load of ammo, I assisted Bus Stop in returning fire. The two goons at the window were merely a distraction as more backups entered the apartment and we continued the exchange.
A small metal canister was tossed in front of us and a yellowish white cloud of smoke quickly filled the room. I felt my throat constricting and my eyes began to burn as if on fire: I knew it was tear gas.
Through a large hazy patch of smoke and fits of coughing, I tried to regain my vision. I watched through teary eyes as the goons swept the skirt out of the apartment and through the door. From the broken window behind me, I heard the loud squeal of tires as a car pulled up to the front of the building.
Two goons remained laying down fire as the others quickly fled the vicinity and headed outside. The gas was making it impossible for us to function, and Bus Stop rose from his kneeling position and tossed a high back chair through the second window.
I covered Tuvo's body with mine and felt the broken glass settling in my hair. The gas began to escape and through swollen eyes, I was able to make out a dark shadow. With an unsteady hand, I aimed my gun at him and squeezed off a round.
I heard the muffled sound of a groan, watched as the second goon quickly aided his companion and headed towards the door. Bus Stop was quick to react, and took off after them.
I assisted Tuvo to his feet and, wrapping my arm around his waist, I helped him walk out of the apartment. I slammed the broken door behind me, as both Tuvo and I slipped to the ground.
I wiped at my face and heard the looming sound of police sirens in the distance. The blood was flowing freely from Tuvo's shoulder and staining his dark suit. I leaned forward and applied pressure on his wound to stop the blood flow.
His proud face was tear stained and pale. I knew he was rapidly losing blood. The bullet entered soundly, leaving no exit wound and had settled near the bone. We rested a minute longer before rising to our feet, and with Tuvo leaning heavily on me, we proceeded to descend the stairs.
The cool fresh air touching our faces was a welcomed relief. We reflectively swallowed a large gulp of air and a coughing spasm quickly ensued. I felt the burning sensation in my lungs as the gas gave way to fresh air.
Several cop cars pulled up in front of us, and through mass confusion, I heard the command to drop the gun. Knowing the IQ of a bull settled somewhere around sixty, I quickly complied.
Tuvo was leaning against the stucco brick wall in front of the building. I reached out to him when he began sliding downwards and we were surrounded from all sides by over eager bulls.
It was one of Hobbes old cop friends, Mike McGuire that recognized me and had them stand down. Mike assisted me and we placed Tuvo in the backseat of his squad car, with sirens blaring, we headed towards the hospital.
Tuvo's face was ashy gray and his blood continued to flow freely and covered my person. We arrived at the hospital and Mike quickly snapped orders and a doctor appeared to help Tuvo.
The fact that the doctor was a friend of Tuvo made me breathe a long sigh of relief. The doctor took immediate command and began addressing the constant flow of blood littering the floor. Tuvo was stabilized enough to be moved to the operating room and I gently squeezed his hand and watched as they wheeled him away.
Mike stood with me a while longer, until he felt reassured I was functioning better. I sat in the room gathering my senses and relinquishing the fear when my thoughts were disrupted by the sound of a familiar booming voice.
Lucille and Eugene walked towards me and I could see the fear in both of their faces. No doubt, the amount of blood liberally splattered throughout my jacket frightened them.
Lucille let out a loud pained scream as tears quickly formed in her eyes and she crossed the room to reach me. I was engulfed in her powerful embrace and felt her tears landing on my bare shoulder.
My body shook under the force of her mournful sobs, as she cried incoherently and begged me to tell her what happened to Tiny. I felt the hairs on the back of my neck rise as the full impact of her words struck me head on.
I struggled to free myself from her powerful embrace and succeeded in only moving my face three inches from her very generous bosom. Over her loud cries of pain, I spoke in a forceful voice to gain her attention.
"Lucille, what are you talking about? What happened to Tiny?"
Lucille pulled me away from her in one swift move, and I couldn't help feeling like a rag doll in her hands. She stared at me in shock and disbelief as the tears ran smoothly down her face.
"My Tiny, Cat. My Tiny, hhh-he's hurt ...bad."
She leveled her questions between choked sobs and, for a minute, I was unable to decipher her words. If I was hearing correctly, Lucille was here because of Tiny. I gained strength in my voice as the level of fear began to rise slowly to my chest.
I felt it's strong grasp on my heart and I breathed involuntarily. I turned my face towards hers and using my fierce face, I looked onto her dark olive eyes.
"Lucille, what are you talking about? What happened to Tiny?"
Lucille looked at me as if I was an escaped inmate from an insane asylum. It was obvious to me from her stare that something awful happened to Tiny. I felt the lump of fear rising to my throat and cutting off the oxygen from my lungs.
It was Eugene who stepped in and tried to calm Lucille down, who was now at the point of hysterics and a stone's throw away from being tossed in a padded room. With evident pain on his face, he spoke through clenched teeth. His jaw was wired shut and he could barely mouth the words.
"Gzz_Tiny, Hzz- been hitz."
Trying desperately to tune out Lucille's uncontrollable wails, I tried to understand what Eugene was trying to say. Between his wired jaw and Lucille's screams, I found my patience ebbing and the fear took control of me.
Before I could stop myself, and without fully having all of my senses, I found my hand reaching back as I slapped Lucille squarely in the face. At the moment of impact, I realized what a grievous error I just committed and figured that in another minute, I was going to be lying next to Tuvo on the operating table.
I silently prayed Lucille would knock me unconscious with the first blow before she doled her punishment on me. Eugene's eyes were wide-eyed and in shock. If his jaw wasn't wired, I'm sure it would have fallen to the floor.
I took in a deep breath and squeezed my eyes shut, waiting for the first blow to strike me. After a few short seconds, I opened one eye and took a quick peek at Lucille. Much to my surprise she stopped her wailing and did not have the threatening glare she was infamous for.
She held the side of her face and stared at me in shock, but at least I managed to shut her up. She slowly began to regain her senses and I quickly acted since my life depended on it.
I reached over, and placed my hands on her shoulders and gazed warmly into her eyes. Her features softened and I knew I managed to reach her somehow without signing my own death warrant.
"I'm sorry Lucille, but you were hysterical. I need you to tell me what happened to Tiny?"
I couldn't help but voice my level of concern. If Tiny was down, then that meant something happened to my kitten. There was no way Tiny would ever go down without a big fight. Lucille dropped her hand from her face and I took a step back as I saw the anger flaring in her eyes.
If Tuvo and Miles were here, I'm sure they would have been placing bets, as to how many hits I could take before falling to Lucille's beating.
"You're not here because of my Tiny?"
I realized quickly her anger was about my not knowing about Tiny, and somehow I'd managed to skate by the fact that I slapped her.
"No, I just brought Tuvo in. We took some heat and he's in the Operating Room now."
The screams returned in full force, and Eugene and I held our hands to our ears to stop the piercing pain. There was one thing about Lucille, she loved us all as if we were her children.
"Oh, my Lord Jesus. Oh, sweet Jesus, not Tuvo too."
I was beginning to lose my patience again, but decided not to slap her. I figured I pushed the envelope with the first one and wouldn't get away with another. I tried as best as I could to enfold her in my arms, which was a hard thing to do.
My arms only manage to make it around the front of her waist. I patted her gently and soothed her while she continued to cry out the good Lord's name. After what seemed like an eternity, she silenced her sobs long enough to speak again.
"I'm sorry, Cat, I-I thought you were here about my Tiny. They hurt him bad, Cat. Those bastards filled my Tiny with ten holes."
If I understood what Lucille was saying, that meant Tiny took ten hits to the body. I felt my heart drop to the floor and my hand went quickly to my mouth stifling the sob that threatened to escape.
"H-How is he."
I felt the sting of tears form in my eyes and suddenly found myself fighting back the pain that threatened to consume me. The thought of losing Tiny was like a knife piercing my heart.
"They're still working on him, the Doctor's don't think he's going to make it. He already died on me once, Cat. But I held his hand and I begged him not to leave me. The doc--doc-doctor he managed to bring my Tiny back to me."
It was all I could take, as the first sob escaped and others quickly followed, while Lucille recounted the death of Bobo and almost losing Tiny. They were attacked openly, and my kitten was wounded in the process before the two spooks took her away in their car.
They where returning from Madison Avenue after having stopped to eat. They exited the restaurant and the two spooks quickly surrounded them with plenty of backup. They descended upon them like a pack of wolves and tried to snatch the kitten.
According to the police report, the gunplay was worse than the gunfight at the O.K. coral. The spooks killed Bobo while Tiny took ten hits to the chest and upper body. How he managed to live long enough to make it to the hospital was anybody's guess.
The kitten was caught in the crossfire and she went down with a hit to the shoulder. The spooks quickly gathered her into their car, sped uptown, and disappeared without a trace.
My body began to shake and I lost control when I was enfolded in Eugene's strong embrace. I cried openly. He held me gently and rocked me. My mind returning to the numerous battles Bobo and Tiny saw me through. The thought of never seeing Bobo again tore through me and ripped me apart.
However, it was the thought of losing my kitten that destroyed me the most. I felt my throat tight and though I tried to regain myself, I found that I couldn't.
The rising pain of losing my kitten and the fear of losing Tiny, as well, enveloped me like a black cloud. Lucille quickly joined Eugene and I, and the three of us remained holding each other for support. The tears silently fell and not a word was spoken between us, but we were all united in our love for a gentle giant and a lost kitten."
Continue to Part Six