Bill Todd -- A Man of Three Names
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 Chapter 9


When Calvin parked in the Berwyn Associates' lot one morning, he noticed a flashy car that he hadn't seen there before. The mystery was resolved when he mounted the stairs and Alice greeted him cheerfully,

"Morning, fuck-face. There's an awful man from the scandal sheet waiting in the next room to see Goodman. But Goodman won't be back from the dentist for a while, so he'd better see you. I certainly don't want to deal with him."

Alice spoke so loudly that she might have been heard by the man in the next room, but, since that man was Mr. Sam Algoma, it hardly mattered. Mr. Algoma's first words were,

"Hey, is that girl, Sandy, gonna run the experiment?"

"She's one of the principal investigators."

"What's this principal investigator shit? I met her the other day, and I know she won't understand what we need. Now, your boss I can deal with. Maybe you, even. But we don't need any fucking debutantes around to screw up the works."

Idly wondering what Samantha might do to Mr. Algoma if she met him, Calvin replied,

"Don't worry about Sandy. I'll do the write-up, and your writers can take over from there. If it came down to it, I could probably do the whole thing. I've read your paper and I know the style."

"What about the pictures? They're the whole thing. But she said there wouldn't be any. Some shit about privacy or confidentiality, or confuckery or I don't know what. Our contract says pictures, and you'll get your ass sued off if there aren't any."

Calvin smiled and replied,

"I'll take the pictures."

"I want our own photographers there. What do you know about photography?"

"Enough. Your guys setting up with their lights and flashes would spoil the experimental situation. But they can come by in advance and help me get the lighting right. Then I can use a hidden camera."

As they argued on, Calvin was aware of a difficulty. Some of Sandy's female clients would be involved, and the idea that they might be splashed half-naked across the front page of the Inquisitor without their knowledge or consent would cause her to quit on the spot and warn off her clients. And then, if Sandy thought he had anything to do with it, there would be an extraordinary reaction from her. The newspaper had agreed to pay if they got sued, but he was afraid of something much worse from Sandy.

Calvin agreed to most of what Algoma wanted, just to get rid of him. As he was leaving, Calvin mentioned quietly,

"Don't discuss any of this with Sandy."

Mr. Algoma smiled for the first time, and replied,

"You do what you have to to square her, and I won't ask no questions. If you do a good job, there might be something in it for you on the side."

As he sat down to think, Calvin realized that, secret bonus or not, he had to find some way not to have Miss Susan Gatewood, identified as a partner of Hale and Boggs, appear in profile in a well-lighted shot in her underwear.

A half hour later, Samantha Valerius came tripping down the stairs from the elevated platform in a skirt and middle heels. Seeing Calvin, who was waiting for her, she rushed up enthusiastically, threw her arms dramatically around his neck, and made a rude noise in his ear. Before he could reciprocate, either positively or negatively, she disengaged herself. He, looking not particularly surprised, said,

"You look nice. I thought sure you'd come in jeans."

"I was going to, but I realized that Sandy would be dressed up. And, anyhow, I'm going to meet your boss, aren't I?"

"Yeah, I hope he's back from the dentist by now. I guess you know that Sandy thinks he's some kind of international criminal who's hiding a guilty past."

"Yes. That's part of why I want to meet him."

"Well, he is an old ruffian, but I like him. I'm also making and saving more money than I'd ever thought possible. I hope Sandy doesn't expose him and upset things."

"But, even if he has done something, she'd have no way of finding out, would she?"

"Probably not. But it might help if you tell her you think he's OK."

"So I'm to agree to give him a testimonial before I've even met him?"

"Most definitely."

Dr. Narrison reminded Samantha of an older man she had met lifting weights at the Y. She hadn't previously realized that an old man could be so strong, and she was willing to bet that Dr. Narrison was another such. He also seemed to like her. At least, he smiled and asked her if she'd be able to civilize Calvin. She replied,

"I'm afraid he's more civilized than I am. I was the one who almost got him arrested."

Dr. Narrison was quite curious, and, when the story of the roller skating rink came out, he said to her,

"You know, we might be able to use you in certain experiments. I can't think of one right off, but we sometimes need unusual people who'll do things other people won't."

Calvin said to him,

"She also knows how to parachute, if that gives you any ideas."

Dr. Narrison nodded, as if he were taking that fact into serious consideration, and said to Samantha,

"You're a very accomplished young lady. In fact, you remind me of Thostolf, one of the characters from the Icelandic sagas. He was the opposite sex, of course, but I believe that you may have the same sense of humor."

Calvin asked,

"Are you going to explain, Goodman?"

"Ah well, I think it may become clear in due course."

A little later, Samantha asked if it would be all right if she wrote a paper on their experiment for D. T. Campbell. Dr. Narrison seemed pleased and asked for a copy of the paper for himself. The meeting then ended with general expressions of good feeling.

When they were afterwards having coffee in Calvin's office, he said,

"It's a mark of the really accomplished fake that he's not afraid of being exposed by experts in his supposed field."

"Well, I don't think it's at all likely that Professor Campbell will come down here on the elevated and investigate the place."

"Goodman wouldn't care if he did. He'd stonewall with perfect aplomb and start telling Campbell how they used to do it in Riga. He'd come off, not as a charlatan, but as someone who hasn't kept up with the field very well."

"Anyway, I did like him."

Sandy came in, having just finished her morning interviews, and they decided to beat the lunch rush at the little Italian restaurant around the corner. When they were seated, the discussion naturally turned to Dr. Narrison.

It seemed to Samantha that her two companions really wren't so far apart in their attitudes. Calvin admitted readily enough that there were probably dark doings in Dr. Narrison's past, but, Sandy, on the other hand, wasn't about to call the police. She didn't take it ill when Samantha said that she liked Dr. Narrison. Indeed, Sandy remarked,

"I've just read an article that may have some application to him. It's about recent defectors from communist countries. Almost all of them were doing things that would've gotten them in trouble in the old country if they'd been found out. But, now, even though those things would seem heroic in the west, they still have the greatest difficulty in talking about them and divulging what were once secrets."

Samantha replied,

"So the thing Dr. Narrison is concealing may not be bad at all. Perhaps even good."

"Yes. I may have misjudged him."

It was Samantha who said,

"Just for fun, let's find out what it is."

Calvin wasn't terribly enthusiastic, but Sandy was. They agreed to exchange ideas and information on the subject.

Long before he became a psychologist, even as a boy in the fishing boats, Dr. Narrison had had his psychological categories. Naturally enough, they were drawn from the Icelandic sagas, stories he had heard recited to the beat of a drum in the little tin huts of the village.

Skarp-Hedin Njalsson thought it amusing to hit one gentleman in the back of the head with his battle-axe in such a way as to make the teeth fly out frontwards. On a verbal level, he had suggested to another acquaintance that he remove from his moustache the hairs from the rear-end of the mare which had lodged there.

The boy Leif didn't say things like that to the men on the fishing boats. It would have been unwise. But there was another character in the sagas, Thostolf, for whom his father was named, and whose name formed part of his own surname.

Thostolf had managed to make the people around him extremely uncomfortable while he was himself having a good time. His humor was not of a belly-laughing sort, but was generally more twisted and subtle. His jokes, if such they could be called, tended to last a lifetime, albeit one that might be short.

Somewhere around latitude ten north, Captain Leif Thostolfson began to realize that the young man he had made his first mate was another Thostolf. It was an accident, really. When Captain von Bock and most of the officers had been killed, he had to promote the three sub-lieutenants. Manfred von Stulpnagel had impressed him as a young aristocrat who passionatly hated his family and his people, and who might, in an earlier age, have become a pirate. None of the others would have dreamed of such a thing. Leif had chosen Manfred as his second in command, and was becoming increasingly friendly with the boy.

Since Manfred spoke good English, and Leif's English was better than his German, they took to having long conversations on the bridge that no one else could understand. The German high command might have been uncomfortable with the idea that one of their warships was commanded by two men who were most comfortable in the language of the enemy, but they were many thousands of miles away.

The only trouble was that, as they ploughed southward in the middle of the Atlantic, across the trade winds and into the equatorial calms, they saw no ships to capture and plunder. There wasn't even any smoke on the hot glassy horizons. Then, running low on the coal and supplies they hadn't captured at sea, Leif decided to slip into Buenos Aires.

To the consternation of the already unhappy crew, Leif declared that only he and Manfred were capable of maintaining the Icelandic identity which they had adopted, and that only they could go ashore. Manfred, in fact, couldn't speak Icelandic. But he could speak English to anyone who was likely to question them.

The port area was much like other port areas, but the city was a flourishing and prosperous one with broad avenues that promised unspecified attractions. With their rolling gaits, they wandered past expensive shops, still open in the early evening, and looked at pretty women hustling along with their escorts. Leif found that a little frustrating, but an opportunity soon presented itself on a street corner. He was for taking advantage of it forthwith, but Manfred, now acting more like an equal than a subordinate, argued that a better class of opportunity would be located in the lounge of the grand hotel just down the avenue.

Passing on, with some angry, and probably slighting, remarks directed at their backs in Spanish, they made their way toward the great glittering earth-ship standing out in the dusk. Leif, in his Thostolf mode, muttered about putting a torpedo or two in her basement, but Manfred gaily urged him onward up the broad marble steps.

They found, in the vast area of little tables with flowers on them, relatively few ladies seated at all suggestively. But there were many naval officers. These seemed to have come from the two cruisers anchored in the harbor, one British and one American.

Leif and Manfred weren't entirely disappointed. It was fun to mix with the enemy and befriend men who, had they known, would regard them as pirates operating under the very thinnest veil of legality. They therefore took seats at a vacant two-place table which was surrounded by officers.

Having sailed on both American and British ships, Leif had a good ear for the various accents. The conversations were flowing around them from one table to another, and he recognized easily that the Americans were trying to impress the English. The English, perhaps in the knowledge that the still-neutral America would make a useful ally, were being nicer than they would otherwise have been. There were smiles, only a few droll comments, and a good many compliments on the appearance of the American cruiser and her crew. Leif, choosing one of his American accents, remarked loudly,

"A little while ago, we saw some of the American sailors buggering the little kids that live on the docks."

It was the sort of thing Thostolf would have said, all in fun, just to provoke an interesting reaction.

The English were obviously delighted by this intervention, and their attempts not to show their pleasure were mixed. The Americans were infuriated, and one, red- faced, asked Leif,

"Are you a ship's officer?"

Leif and Manfred wore the merchant marine uniforms that hardly varied from one country to another, and he replied indirectly, actually quoting Thostolf in English translation with a few added colloquialisms in Brooklynese. As the officer turned purple, Leif added,

"There's wet weather coming up. Be prepared!"

With that, he tipped over the officer's table, dropping his drink into his lap.

In the course of the ensuing fracas, Leif and Manfred retreated gradually from the grand hotel. They ended up back on the street corner with the same ladies whose custom they had previously refused. That, however, seemed to be forgotten, or at least forgiven. Money soon changed hands.

Two days later, the HEIKE HEIDLER, alias the OLAFSVIK, finished coaling. The horrid gritty dust penetrated everywhere, even into Leif's refurbished cabin. However, with bunkers and water tanks full, and as much food as they could accomodate aboard, they were ready to cruise for a month or more.

They weighed anchor at dusk and steamed slowly out into the River Plate. There was one procession of ships leaving the harbor and another, off to port, coming in. Even though there was still enough light to make out individual ships some distance away, they all had on their running lights.

They were following an old Dutch tramp ship which belched enough smoke to obscure the rising southern cross in the clear sky overhead. As there was plenty of room, Leif took the ship inshore to pass the Dutchman. Manfred was also on the bridge, and they were keeping a sharp lookout for British merchantmen whom they could follow and capture once they were well clear of the coast.

As they were overtaking the Dutchman, the American cruiser appeared behind them, steaming fast. She was overtaking the column of ships on the other, seaward, side, and would be even with them in a matter of minutes. Manfred laughed and Leif smiled. Neither mentioned the cruiser at all, but Leif went to the chart room to do some calculations. He then ordered up a few more revolutions from the engine room.

The slight added speed changed the pattern of the ship's vibration slightly as Leif glanced over at the low coastline. There were towns and villages, and occasional lights showing, but no one on shore would be able to see, in any detail, anything that happened on the water. Then, looking intently at the Dutchman, whom they would pass at a distance of some hundred yards, he blew the whistle to indicate his intention. There was a return signal and a wave from the starboard wing of the bridge. They would remain on their present course, and nothing else was required.

As the American cruiser came up on the other side of the Dutchman, Manfred suggested a slight reduction in speed. Leif disagreed and said,

"I want to be sure we're clear of the Dutchman's stem."

Manfred again laughed, and they both stood motionless, watching in anticipation for the sort of fun Thostolf would have most appreciated.

Their bridge was just ahead of the Dutchman when the cruiser, the waves curling sharply from her bow, came ranging up on the other side. No one aboard the Dutchman was in a position to look down at the water. Leif was lounging against the rail as he casually pressed the plunger.

Looking down he could see the torpedo track well below the surface as it cut across the Dutchman's bow. Then, when they were bracing themselves for a tremendous explosion, there was nothing. Manfred shrugged and said,

"Anyhow, we tried."

"Too bad. They'd have thought it was a submarine. Trouble for Germany with America, and we just steam unmolested out into the ocean."

It was some two minutes later, when they had turned away, that both men were stunned by the explosion. The American cruiser, now well ahead, was still intact. But, well off to port, there was a high column of smoke. Leif whispered,

"It must've run under the cruiser and hit an incoming ship."

Manfred giggled.

Bill Todd -- A Man of Three Names
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