Invisible Enemy

A Short Story by Ernest N.Whitenack



“On to other things, Foster interjected. Clancy, you are free to leave day after tomorrow, as are you lieutenant Otto. If you think you can be ready by then, I will arrange a MATS flight from Nubuiberg Air Base near Munich to the Frankfort International for you. You have a first class ticket waiting for you on Lufthansa flight 691 to Boston at 21:30, Clancy. I understand you are going with the Major, Otto. I can get you on the same MATS and Lufthansa flights if you like .Would you want first class as well? You will have to pay for it yourself.”

“I would appreciate it, thank you sir. The price in not a factor. I’m very excited about going to the states. It has been a long time.”

“Will you drive to Munich Major or would you like us to return your rental car?

“I’ll drive there. That car is too much fun not to drive it when I can.” Clancy told Foster.

“OK, consider it done. Now to you Lieutenant Fox. You are free to return to your unit in Munich in a week. You have been buffered around enough since Freiberg. In the mean time you can help me make out reports on the time you have been here. You were in on everything Major Clancy was and your help will be invaluable. We will start tomorrow. For the rest of the day do what you can to help these men get ready to leave us.”

“One more thing Major Clancy, I received a message for you from Carl Von Schmidt. He wanted to remind you to contact Al Hansen at the Boston Customs Office when you get there. I am to tell Von Schmidt your flight information and he will relay it to Hansen. Do you understand that?”

“Very well, sir. He is my first and final “P” contact of this assignment. He works at the Customs office.”

“I think that will wind it up, so go do what you have to, to get ready. Don’t forget to turn in your side arm and company equipment tomorrow. Your dress uniform, class B and fatigues are yours. You might want to use them again when you get lonesome for this life of action.” Foster said with a smile.

The first thing Clancy did was to call Alma again and tell her of his travel itinerary, that he will call her again when he gets to Boston, that it will be very early in the morning, about four AM. He alerted her that she might have to pick him up at Fort Devens and gave her directions.

“It’s about time, Bozo. I can’t have you wandering around like this. I’ve been very lonesome for you. Just wait until I get you home!”

“Is that a promise? Take a couple of days off if you can. I’ve missed you too.”

After lunch, they started sorting things out; Clancy packing up the company equipment he has to return, and Otto, what he doesn’t need to take on furlough. Fox’s time was up with the Chevy and had to go to the motor pool and try to get the use of the car extended for another week.

With the end of a very active assignment and finally relaxing, Clancy was suddenly very tired and decided to just hang around the BOQ and perhaps get a little sleep. He asked Fox to get his uniform cleaned and pressed, if it can be done today. Fox assured him it will be done by 16:00 and he will bring it back.

Clancy had been awake for a half hour and was just filling his pipe when a knock on the door heralded both Fox and Otto.

“Major Foster called a while ago and wants us to have dinner with him at the place I took you for a steak the other evening, Otto said. It sounded to me more like an order than a suggestion, and we’re to be there at 19:00”

“Why not, we have to eat somewhere. Are you free Sam?” Clancy asked.

“Sure, sounds good to me.” Fox replied.

When they arrived at the butcher shop/restaurant, they were taken to a room other than the main restaurant. The entire crew from the raid and Break-in were milling around talking and drinking, a piano playing in the background. Captain Harris come over and greeted them.

“Major Foster and I thought there should be some kind of celebration. Between the two assignments, we have gained more information than hoped for and shut down a very active communist cell in Bavaria. Now, how about a drink, gentlemen?”

They all slept later than usual the next day but managed to make breakfast at the officer’s mess. Clancy asked Fox to take him wherever there were good stores so he could buy some things for Alma. Otto decided to come along, as he was more familiar with the area than Fox.

The next day went slowly with little to do but turn in Clancy’s company equipment and try to make room in his luggage for the things he bought for Alma. He filled his L.L. Bean pouch from the last can of the mock Sherlock Choice Freiberg tobacco and gave the rest to Fox, and also discarded the Lufthansa travel bag Al Hansen gave him when he left Boston.

In the morning, Fox stayed around to say goodbye to Clancy and Otto and thank them for again teaching him so much. He told them their help was worth years of experience.

The day was cool and crisp with a moderate wind so Clancy didn’t put the roof down on the Porsche. Never the less, the trip to Munich was uneventful and pleasant. The MATS flight was another thing however, with hard seats and heavy turbulence at the low altitude they had to fly.
Lufthansa 691 strangely had the same steward he flew with from Boston and the same seats surrounded again by empty seats.

“I’m happy to see you again, Major,” the steward said as they came through the plane door and he directed them to their seats.

As soon as they reached flying altitude the steward came to them and told them Al Hansen would be waiting at Customs for them and asked if they would like something to drink. They both had Johnny Walker Red Label and shortly the cabin lights dimmed. They turned of their overhead lights, pulled up blanks and slept almost all the way to Boston.

Al Hansen met them at the arrival gate, loaded the luggage on a cart and led them directly to his office.

“I’m glad to see you are back safely, and a Major to boot. I heard you had a couple of close calls over there.”

Yes, very close, but I had my friend here backing me up as he has done many times,” Clancy replied. “This is Lieutenant Henry Otto.”

“I know, said Hansen, an old Platoon man from the war and still at it with the Provost Martial’s intelligence group. I have instructions for you, Major. Due to Christmas, you don’t have to report to Devens for discharge until the first week in January. You can go home from here. But first I need you to return the weapon you found in your luggage, such as it is. I hope they gave you something more substantial along with your promotion.”

“Is there anything you don’t know?” Clancy asked as he fished the 32 from his luggage.

“Not much, they keep me well informed about Platoon men who pass through this office. Now get out of here and call your wife. There are paid reservations for you both at the Copley Plaza and a car waiting for you. The driver is right outside the exit door, a Sergeant Mangini.”

Clancy shoved his luggage in a corner and called home. “Were at the Copley Plaza, and good news! I don’t have to report until the first week in January,” he told Alma.

“That’s wonderful, she said in a sleepy voice. What time do you want me to pick you up?”

“It’s a little after four ---- how about noon? I slept on the plane but can still use another four or five hours. I don’t sleep that deeply on planes. We can have lunch, or breakfast if one prefers, at the hotel. That will give you a chance to meet Hank and get to know him a little. He is going to Woodstock Vermont to visit a cousin and do some skiing. We will drop him off in Concord to catch a bus. Buses don’t go from Boston to central Vermont, and neither do trains, but I don’t think he knows that.”

“Oh, I’m so excited you are home, Ian. I can’t wait to see you in uniform. You will be, won’t you? I’ve imagined what you would look like many times.”

“If that is what you want, dear. Did you arrange for some time off yet? We will have to ask Hank when he will be coming to Harris Falls and include the time he will be with us within the period you are off work.”

“I’ve talked briefly to the Dean, but nothing is specific as yet. He did say it was fine with him and he can be flexible getting someone to take my classes.”

“I guess we are all set for now. I want to go to bed before my mind is too active for me to go to sleep. See you at noon, sweetheart.”

“All Right. Sleep well. See you at noon.”

Clancy woke at nine-fifteen, heard Hank moving around in the next room and headed for the shower. There was pounding at his door as he left the bathroom. It was Hank.

“Ready for breakfast? Hank asked. I’m quite hungry after that meager food on the plane.”

“No, but I’ll go with you and have some coffee. Alma is picking us up at noon and we decided we could all have lunch together. Can you wait until then for breakfast?

“Sure, I guess I can, but I’ll need something to hold me over. It will be great to meet her finally.”

Over coffee, orange juice and a Cheese Danish, Clancy told him about the bus and Concord and asked him to call as soon as he knows when he will be coming to Harris Falls. They walked around Copley Square and Hank marveled at the old architecture while being surprised how busy and metropolitan Boston is.

Hank, on the drive to Concord, got to know Alma. They hit it off from the beginning. He had a short wait for a bus in concord to take him to Woodstock.

On the rest of the way to Harris falls, Alma talked almost constantly bringing Clancy up to date on her life, and happenings on campus. Finally, she quieted down, moved over against Ian, who was driving, and just enjoyed the feel of him again.

There was just enough snow to make the old colonial house, beautifully decorated for Christmas, look like some thing from a Christmas card.
The inside was equal to the outside with garlands of Holley and Bittersweet, candles surrounded by pine cones, stocking hanging from the mantle and two perfectly decorated trees, one in the living room and one on the porch where the screens were replaced by windows.

Clancy got himself settled and into casual clothes before he presented Alma with the Bavarian themed gifts he bought her in Garmish.
He found the bottle of Jameson’s on the sideboard and settled into his favorite chair as Alma exclaimed the beauty of the embroidery and painting on the various gifts.

Several days later the phone rang in the early afternoon. Clancy picked it up and a voice said, “This is Sampson.”

“And what could you possibly want now?” Clancy replied.

“I’m calling to discuss your military status and make some suggestions.

I don’t want to hear them. As far as I am concerned, I’m through with the Platoon and, in a few weeks, the military. So, you might as well say goodbye now”

“Every thing I have to say will be beneficial to you and there are no hidden agendas associated with it. Please listen for a moment.”

Clancy didn’t reply and after a minute Sampson continued to talk.

“It has been suggested that you should receive a commendation for your work on this last assignment. As you know, the DOF is adamant about not exposing the Platoon to publicity because of the secrecy of the agents and the work they do. If any word of our activities became public, it could be very detrimental to our work and dangerous for our agents. We have gone back and reviewed your entire service record and it will be amended to show your promotion to major was granted just before you left the service. You will be paid the difference retroactively, a tidy sum. It has also been determined that one more hitch will give you enough time in grade, as a reservist, to make you eligible for a promotion to Lieutenant Colonel.”

“You can stop right there. If you think I am going into the active reserve, where I can be called to active duty again, you are nuts.”

“I haven’t finished. This whole plan has gone as high as the Commander in Chief, who is totally behind it. You will receive a presidential order that prohibits you being called into the army or the Platoon again. At the most, you will have to attend a few Platoon training sessions, perhaps a couple of days a year, where you will answer questions related to your experiences. You will not be assigned to any reserve unit but will be paid as if you were. You can retire in four years as a Lieutenant Colonel. Your retroactive pay plus your pension income, at that grade, will make a nice addition to whatever the college pension plan will give you. This is in place of the commendation you richly deserve and to thank you for the many productive and dangerous years service you have given your country.”

Clancy couldn’t believe what he was hearing and didn’t know what to say.

Finally he asked, “The President wants this? That’s hard to believe. A Presidential order? I’ll have to think on this and talk it over with Alma. Call me in the morning, please. I’ll be here and have an answer. It is very difficult to trust you, you know.”

Alma thought it was wonderful and really special that his country appreciated him so. ”If they try to activate you just show, whoever it is, the presidential order.”

At ten the next morning the phone rang.

“Hold on, please. The President of the United States would like to speak to you.”
“Good morning Major Clancy”, the president said.

“I understand you are reluctant to accept the proposition presented to you by the DOF. Let me assure you, sir, it is legitimate and not a ruse to trap you into service again. I would be most pleased if you accept your country’s gratitude. And, we know how valuable your experience will be to new Platoon members. If it saves one life, you can be proud. What do you say?”

Clancy was almost breathless but managed to say, “Thank you for calling, Mr. President. I am honored that you took the time from your busy day. It is certainly reassuring to hear from you that the proposition is honest. My wife and I talked it over last night. She is all for it but I was still a little skeptical. She will be happy to hear I have accepted.”

“Thank you, and give your wife, Alma isn’t it, my best regards. Good bye.”

“Was that Sampson on the line,” she asked as she sat a coffee service on the table.

“No, it was the President of the United States assuring me that what Sampson said was on the level.”

She stood tall placing her hands on her hips. “Come on now, this isn’t a joking matter.”

“I’m not joking. He sent you his best regards, calling you by name.
I accepted.”

Alma jumped on his lap, hugged and kissed him while saying, I had no idea you were so important, and a hero to boot.”

The phone rang again and it was Sampson: “Were all happy you accepted. The president just called me. Good luck, Clancy. You will probably never hear from me again.”

“I had better because I have a favor to ask. First Lieutenant Henry Otto was with me all through the war and is still serving his country, and as you know, with me again on this last gig. Fact is he saved my life twice. I would like to see him get some recognition for the service he has given since he was very young. Also, keep your eye out for a Lieutenant Samuel Fox. He is a good man and interested in the Platoon. He is a green CIC man with Seventh Army, and has a lot of potential; learns quickly too.”

Yes, we have heard from the folks in Germany. I’ll check on it and let you know what, if anything is in the works for Otto.

Alma came home from work to find Clancy on the porch as usual, the smell of Sherlock’s Choice filling the room.

“I can start my time off tomorrow. The Dean told me he found a replacement, and with the short time left before the holiday vacation, I could start whenever I want to. You are officially still in the army so you don’t have to go back yet either.”

“Oh yea, I had forgotten about that. I have not been anxious to go see the Dean. I guess I am still a little keyed up from the activities of the last eight weeks, or so,”

“That is certainly understandable, dear. But I’ll be around now and get you back to being a civilian again. Let’s start now by taking a nice long walk. It’s a beautiful day and you should not be sitting around inside.”

The walks became a daily routine, as part of Alma’s perceived rehabilitation of Clancy; sometime in the morning and other times in the evening. Clancy grumbled occasionally about the walks, but then he knew Alma expected him to complain. He really enjoyed them and being home, and being with Alma most of all.

They returned from one of the walks and entered the house just as the phone began to ring. Alma told Ian it was Hank and passed him the handset.

“If the weather holds out, I’ll get in a full week and a half of perfect skiing – having a great time here. I’m planning on leaving on the twenty-first. If you give me directions, I’ll rent a car in Concord and hop right up there. I am looking forward to spending some normal time with you and Alma, while no one is trying to shoot you, unless she is ready to by now,” he said with a chuckle in his voice.

“No need for the car. I’ll meet you at the bus station. I am about out of tobacco so I can stop by the shop as well. Let me know when the bus gets in. We are looking forward to your visit. Alma has a couple of friends at the college she will invite for dinner while you are here. I wanted to let you know in case you have objections.”

“Hell no. Why would I object unless they are a couple of eggheads? But only one at a time. I’m not much up on intellectual things, you know.

“Now, would we do that to you? I will see you on the twenty-first.”

“Good enough. I appreciate it” Otto said and hung up.

On the way back, Otto talked about his cousin and his family and how different the skiing was from Germany, where he skis mostly above the mostly above the timberline. Also, how good it is to be in the states again.

During his visit in Harris Falls, he got on well with the two ladies Alma had to dinner, especially one of them. They had several dates until she had to leave for Hartford and her family for Christmas. His time with Ian and Alma went quickly and happily. He told Clancy that maybe retirement and civilian life wasn’t so bad after all, that it was the best Christmas he’s had since he was ten years old. The day he left he thanked Alma several times, noting that he wished he didn’t have to leave.

They left early for Logan and Otto’s return flight. On the way they talked of their recent assignment in Germany, Clancy’s transfer to the reserve and monetary gain. Clancy hinted that Otto might be in line for some official recognition and that everyone was highly impressed with his performance. They wondered what the next move will be to end the infiltration of eastern spies.

What ever it is, and if you are involved, keep your guard up. They are not going to give up. You can be sure that Graff and Stahlmann were quickly replaced. Let’s hope it is not with men having Stahlmann’s hate and his enthusiasm for communist world domination. Remember, for the most part, it is the people like Gisele and the bartender who are in the front line and are an unseen enemy.

Copyright © Ernest N. Whitenack 2017

Chapters: Ch 1 | Ch 2 | Ch 3 | Ch 4 | Ch 5 | Ch 6 | Ch 7 | Ch 8 | Ch 9 | Ch 10 | Ch 11 | Ch 12 | Ch 13 | Ch 14 | Ch 15 | Ch 16 | Ch 17 |                    Ch 18

Ernie Whitenack was born in 1928 in Springfield, Illinois and moved to Massachusetts in the mid 1930's. He is a Korean War veteran, worked as a photographic illustrator for 43 years and is now retired.

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