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Chapter One of The Arnhem Conspiracy

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John Sliz
Posts: 74
Joined: September 2012
Location: Toronto

Chapter One of The Arnhem Conspiracy

Post by John Sliz » Mon May 16th, 2016, 2:21 pm

I have never done this before. Enjoy!

The Arnhem Conspiracy

Chapter One: There’s Money to be Made

Long Island, New York, August 29th 1944
The Inwood Country Club was busy for a Wednesday but most of the people had left Martin Carter Greenbeck alone in the far room. It was obvious that something was on his mind and no one wanted to even speak to him when he was in a mood. Too many people had been the victim of his quick temper so they kept their distance. Being left alone suited Martin fine as he occupied one of the four wingback chairs by the fireplace and tried to enjoy his Bourbon. Unfortunately, his normally soothing habit wasn’t quieting the voices inside of his head today. Each one was telling him that he needed to do something, and fast. The middle-aged man stared into the fire and tried to see if the next sip would bring him any amount of pleasure. It didn’t.
So far he was enjoying the war because his factories had never been busier, producing everything from tanks to bullets for not only the United States Army, but for several other countries as well. The massive build-up to D-Day was very profitable and the summer’s fighting in Normandy was the icing on the cake. And the bombings. The amount of bombs the air force was dropping on Germany was staggering and bombs cost money; lots of money. He was now richer than his father and his father before him had ever been. World War I was the catalyst to his father’s empire and World War II was the defining moment in his own life. He never wanted the war to end because there was just too much money to be made. Also, the new M-26 tank was approaching production and he wanted to see it battle-tested before the end of the war. He needed to see it out-perform the best of the German panzers so he could sell it as a deterrent to the Russian tanks. If this happened he could stand to make millions even after the war, and he knew how to sell it. He would tell General Marshal and the others on the General Staff that Stalin is just as much of a threat as Hitler, maybe even more. He would tell them so often and so confidently that they would eventually believe it.
He tried to remember what Hitler once said. After a moment and another sip of Bourbon it came to him. The bigger the lie, the more people will believe it.
Yeah, something like that, he thought.
The last time that he was in Europe was the summer of 1939 and that was when he started paying close attention to what was happening in Germany. He was in Scotland for his sister’s funeral and despite his overwhelming grief at losing someone who he was close to, even after she had married a Scot and moved to Scotland in 1925, he could see the writing on the wall. It was clear to everyone who was paying attention that another war was coming to Europe and once he got home he started to gear up his empire accordingly. All new designs from his factories would now serve the military in some way and he put pressure on the right people to give him the contracts to build up the United States Armed Forces.
He sighed. Ethel, he mused. Why did you have to get sick and die?
Needless to say, he missed her. He took a big drink and shivered with his next thoughts. Life sucks when it ends.
Martin was married, but as fine of a woman that Linda was, she wasn’t the love of his life. Money was. Well, that was what Ethel used to tell Martin. She teased him about it. She was one of the few people that could say anything to him and was about the only one who could completely get away with it. Even his wife and two kids couldn’t get away without some kind of payback from him.
Ethel could – and did – get away with anything and she knew it.
She was generally a kind woman, he thought. Maybe it is a good thing that she isn’t around to watch the entire world fighting.
At least I provided her son and two daughters with a classical education, he thought. It was the least that I could do.
“Sir,” a low and dry voice brought him out of his thoughts.
The heavy-set man looked up to see the tall lanky waiter staring at him and Martin wondered when the old man was going to retire. He had been working at this country club for as long as Martin could remember and he was pretty sure that Peter had started in 1901 when the club first opened. Instead he asked, “Yes, what is it Peter?”
“Mr. Taylor wishes to see you…shall I send him this way?”
“Yes, thank you.”
Normally, he avoided meeting with the competition but he didn’t know to whom else to turn. In this one matter they were brothers in arms. He reminded himself to let the past stay in the past, and to concentrate on what needed to be done. He took a deep breath and readied himself to meet his new ally. Well, he hoped that they would become allies of some kind.
A thin man with a receding hairline approached and Martin rose, extended his hand and said, “Thank you for coming Mr. Taylor. Please have a seat.” He motioned to one of the four seats by the fire.
Frank Taylor sat uncomfortably in the seat opposite Martin and looked at him suspiciously. The face to face history between the two was almost non-existent despite several incidents of industrial espionage that had never been proven in court. Still, Frank knew that Martin had stolen several designs over the years. He just couldn’t prove it in a court of law. Martin’s people were too good at covering their tracks, especially that Robert Salerno. Frank hated that scrawny man with greasy black hair. He looked and acted like a mobster. It was all too much. Then again, Frank had his own man and his corporation had done the same thing to Martin’s companies so he figured that they were probably even.
“What will you have to drink?” Martin asked.
“No thanks,” Frank said curtly. “I don’t need a drink.” He looked into Martin’s eyes and saw something that concerned him. Gone was the normal look of a heartless businessman and it was replaced by something that Frank didn’t know that Martin even possessed much less showed; compassion. This surprised him so he cocked his head and with a more pleasant tone of voice asked, “Why? Do you think that I need a drink?”
Martin nodded and said compassionately, “I think so. You are going to need it.”
“Really?” He peered at him and then rubbed his chin. “Okay,” he mumbled and then looked at Peter who asked, “What can I get for you Mr. Taylor?”
“Yes, sir,” Peter said, turned and left.
Frank asked, “So, what is this all about? Why have you dragged me all the way out to Long Island? What is…?”
“We have a mutual problem,” Martin stated strongly, cutting him off. “Have you been following what has been happening in Europe?
“Yes. Total collapse. Hitler’s boys are running back to their Fatherland with their tail between their legs. The war in Europe is drawing to a close and the War Department is already talking about cancelling future orders. Hell, they are even considering cancelling existing orders and absorbing the penalties. Not good. I’m sure that it is the same for you.”
“That is exactly the problem I called you here to discuss. To stop production now would cost us both a fortune.”
“What do we do about it? Phone up Adolf and say, `Sorry, you can’t quit now. Can you stretch the war out a bit longer, please? We are making a fortune here. Hey, we’ll cut you in for ten percent’.”
Martin chuckled more to release some stress than from the humour. Wryly he said, “Why not? It is worth a shot.”
Seeing Martin laughing was a little shocking to Frank. He couldn’t recall ever seeing the man laugh before and it was definitely against his reputation of being a sour old penny pincher. This confirmed that something was up. “Seriously, so what can we do?”
“That is why I brought you here, to come up with a plan…”
“To what, extend the war?” Frank asked sarcastically.
Martin glared at him. “Yes.”
Frank was shocked.
“Tell me, how the hell we are going to do that,” a different voice asked. It belonged to Isaac Feldman, another successful arms manufacturer that had been asked by Martin to meet with him. The plump man with a beard and very little hair up top sat down in the chair beside Frank and eyed Martin suspiciously. Casually he said to the man sitting beside him, “Hello Frank. Good to see you.”
“Hello Isaac. Glad that you could make it.”
“So,” Isaac said, leaning forward towards Martin. “How the hell are the three of us going to make more money?”
Martin saw that he had the complete attention of both men and stated, “The big lie, of course. You know the bigger the lie, the more that people believe it. We tell it correctly and the war will continue for as long as we want it to.”
“Christ. Where’s my drink?” Frank asked earnestly. He did not look comfortable.

* * *

Across the Atlantic Ocean, a young Royal Signals’ Lieutenant, born and raised in Soho, was on leave in a bar in his old neighbourhood. Colin Campbell had enjoyed seeing his parents and little sister again, but preferred clean army barracks over the poverty of his parents’ London apartment. When he was a child, the plumbing hadn’t worked that well and it hadn’t improved much these days. He never wanted to come back here to live. Hell, it was tough enough to come here to visit. However, the problem was that he had no prospects other than what the army had taught him. Before the war he had worked in a butcher shop and didn’t make very much money at it. Now, he knew how to operate and repair a wireless radio and wondered if these skills could make him enough money to stay away from Soho after the war.
Colin had joined up in 1939 and his hobby of collecting and fixing broken old radios got him into the Royal Signal Corps. He was part of the 2nd Armoured Division which went to North Africa and he saw lots of action fighting against Rommel and his African Korps. He was good at what he did and after a recommendation from his Commanding Officer he applied to Officers’ Training school. He was accepted and soon after training he was posted to the 47th Infantry Division. Once it was apparent that this division would never be sent overseas, he volunteered for the Airborne. He figured that this would be the quickest way to get into the fight. He passed the training and joined the British 1st Airborne Division in January 1944, wearing his red beret proudly.
Like the 47th Infantry Division, the 1st Airborne Division in early 1944 didn’t do much but sit around England while other divisions were busy trying to end the war. Yes, he knew that the 1st had fought in North Africa and in Italy, but D-day was three months ago and they still weren’t being ask to join the party. Well, he didn’t mind that too much and thought that the division’s new unofficial nickname was funny. They were now known as the British 1st Stillborn Division. However, the question that really bothered him was what he was going to do after the war. Or more accurately, how he was going to make his fortune after the war? He had seen other parts of the world so he knew that there was more out there for him than working for a butcher in Soho.
He took another sip of Scotch because the answer wasn’t coming to him. He took another sip to see if that helped. It didn’t. He was contemplating sending a third sip down to tell the first two to hurry up when he was interrupted.
“Lieutenant Colin Campbell of the Royal Signal Corps,” a voice said. It had an American accent and if Colin had to guess, he would put money on the fact that this man was from New York.
Colin turned to see a man in a brown suit and a hat had sat down beside him. It was strange to see a man in his late twenties or early thirties not in a uniform of some kind. Didn’t he know that there was a war? Colin studied him and noticed that the man had a cold and a serious look about him. He looked like he had seen and done a lot of questionable things.
The two men were physically opposite in almost every way possible. Where Colin was stocky with a good build, this man was slim and fragile looking; Colin’s hair was thick, bouncy and light coloured, the man’s was thin, black and greased back, but the main difference was that Colin had a full round face with soft brown eyes while the man’s face looked like he had been sick and had dark cool eyes.
“That is me,” Colin answered. “Who are you?”
“Your new best friend.”
Colin raised an eyebrow at the man who looked at least ten years older than he was. “Oh, really?”
“For starters, let me settle up your bar bill.”
Colin peered at him. “I like Americans, but I have three problems with you chaps.”
“And what are they?” The man acted genuinely interested. However, he was only glad that Colin was at least speaking to him and not either ignoring him, or worse, trying to punch him out.
“You are over-sexed, over-paid and over here.” Colin grinned to himself. He hoped that crack would make the man in the suit leave.
Instead the man chuckled. “And being overpaid is exactly what I have in mind for you. Thanks for broaching the subject. I have a business proposition for you.”
Every man had his price and Colin wondered if this man could name his. “I’m listening.”

* * *

Sir Michael David Huntington came from a wealthy English family and - despite his parents’ wishes - he - shortly after he turned eighteen - joined the Royal Air Force during the last year of World War I. Fortunately for him, the war ended before his squadron saw much action.
“I was in a couple of dog fights,” he told people whenever the opportunity presented itself and then proceeded to tell them about it in great detail, whether they wanted to hear it or not.
He grew to love flying so he remained in the RAF after the war and slowly rose up the ranks. He was still in the RAF by the time that the world decided that they had so much fun the first time around they decided to have another world war in 1939, and with war came rapid promotions.
In August 1944 he was promoted to Air-Marshall and was given a new command of the 38th Air Group RAF. His group consisted of old bombers that had been converted to tow gliders for the airborne. He was intrigued by planning airborne operations, and he lost track of how many potential operations had been in the works since he had taken command. Unfortunately, not one of their plans came to see the light. By the start of every operation, the objective of the airborne troops had already been captured by the ground troops so there was no need to launch the operation. Sir Huntington thought that Operation Comet sounded promising and had even selected the perfect landing zones for the parachute brigade. Needless to say, he was quite disappointed when it was called off at 1400 hours today. He was astonished that some men were even loaded on the planes when the operation was cancelled at the very last minute.
Shortly after hearing the news, he sat in his office in Syrencot House, which was near Milsten on the Salisbury Plain, and wondered when the next operation was coming. In the meantime his aircraft were busy flying supplies to the forward troops. The breakout from Normandy was a logistical nightmare and his men were doing the best that they could under the circumstances. He was very busy, but he never let that disturb his daily walks after lunch. Everyday all two hundred and fifty pounds of his pear-shaped body would slowly walk through the park near his headquarters.
As he strolled, he usually watched the birds fly from tree to tree and enjoyed being away from his busy office. This was a place where a person could actually think, especially when no one else was around. Most days he barely saw anyone and that suited him fine. He was here to be alone with his thoughts and the fewer the better. However, today his peaceful routine was rudely interrupted. Halfway through his journey he saw a man sitting on a bench who wasn’t wearing a uniform. He was annoyed at first, but then decided to ignore him. As he tried to walk past him the man smiled at him. He felt that this was very odd as he had never seen him before and wondered if security knew about him.
“Sir Michel David Huntington?” The man asked in an American accent.
“Yes.” He looked at the scrawny looking man with thin greased back black hair strangely.
“I would like a word with you.”
“Who are you? And why should I trust someone not in uniform?”
“I work for the American Government and…” He saw that the RAF Group Leader was walking away. “…I have a business proposition…”
“I’m already in business with the RAF, thank you and good day,” he said over his shoulder. He was really annoyed now and with good reason, he thought.
“Does your wife know about Carol and…?” He pretended he couldn’t bear to say what he saw them do in the pictures. “…what you two do together?”
Sir Huntington turned and stared at the man in the brown suit. He was shocked. No one knew about his mistress and he had taken every precaution to keep it that way. “Excuse me, what name did you say?”
“Carol Godfrey. She works for Madam Goodhead.”
“Sorry, I don’t know who you are talking about.”
“Don’t worry,” the man continued. “Only you, she and I know about your afternoon visits and I have no interest in telling anybody about your kinky behaviours.” He coughed and added under his breath, “as disgusting as they are.”
“So, why even mention it?”
The man couldn’t believe the pretention in Sir Huntington’s voice. In his opinion, the man was clueless as to know how normal people act. “Because I need a simple favour.”
“I see.” Sir Huntington nodded like he understood perfectly.
“Just a little one.”
“Well, what is it?”
Now the man felt like he was back in school standing before the principal being forced to explain himself. “There is an operation coming down the pike that we need your assistance with.”
“What can I do? I am just an overseer of air taxis.”
The man smiled, which made his thin and sickly looking face look almost sinister.

* * *

British Intelligence quickly established a headquarters in Brussels soon after the city was liberated by the British. A half dozen desks were set up in a large room that was used by the Germans for one of their headquarters. Three private offices were along the west wall and a number of the officers wanted the office that the commanding officer and his second in command didn’t occupy. However, there wasn’t time to bicker over who was going to get the extra office because they had a whole city worth of agents to sort out.
Captain William Smith of MI6 was one of many Allied officers that were impressed by one of the members of the Dutch resistance that they found in Brussels. His colleague, Captain Stephen Jones, wasn’t so impressed. At their desks along the east wall by the window he said, “Lindemans was part of the Dutch underground who was turned by the Germans. They arrested his brother and mistress and were about to execute them when they suddenly changed their minds. It had to be Lindemans. I don’t trust someone who has something to lose at the hands of our enemies.”
Captain Smith – at the desk to his left - became defensive, “The Dutch Royal family claims that he can be trusted. He is well connected to members of HRH Prince Bernhard’s staff, including the C in C of Dutch Forces. After all, if he is on Jerry’s side why didn’t he leave Brussels when we approached?”
“So he could spy on us better. Pretty hard to spy when you are not behind your enemy’s lines.”
Captain Smith glared at Captain Jones, “I don’t know. I don’t believe that he is a triple agent. He isn’t that bright. A double agent maybe.”
“I agree with that. He is dumb as a post, but surely even he must know that the war is almost over and which side is winning and which one is losing.” Then he thought about it. “No, he is too dumb. He is too stupid to realize that Germany is losing the war.”
“So why do you think he can’t be trusted?”
“Again, I don’t think that he is that bright.”
Captain Smith thought out loud, “We could send him to Eindhoven to tell the underground leaders to hide their downed airmen because we are coming to them. What harm could it do? He doesn’t know anything other than an attack into Holland is imminent. Hell, even the Germans know that.”
Captain Jones shrugged his shoulders. “And then what?”
“Then we see what he does. It would be clear if he is working for the Germans or not. And if he is working for them then his run would be short lived because 2nd Army will be in Eindhoven soon.”
Captain Jones asked, “And if he isn’t there?”
“Then we know. It will be a good test to see where his loyalties lie.”
“I don’t know. I…”
“He is a personal friend of the Royal family.”
“That doesn’t mean much. Mata Hari was…”
“A little girl who played games! Lindemans is a full grown man who knows the stakes.”
“She was forty-one at the time of her execution.”
“Mentally she was a little girl who craved attention.”
“Fine,” he said. He was tired of arguing and knew that he was never going to change his colleague’s mind. “Set him loose. It is against my better judgement. Let’s test him.”
“You won’t regret it.”
Captain Jones stared out the window at the apartment across the street. A woman was hanging out her laundry in the wind. A difficult task, but it was a simple task compared to controlling spies. He sighed and knew that he already regretted allowing King Kong loose.
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