Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Chapter 52

Sunday, December 20, 1964

"Dad, did you sleep well last night?" Cissy asked, trying not to giggle. 

I sensed the jig was up, but I wasn't quite sure how to respond. I decided to play along. "Not so well," I said, glancing at Sarah who, thankfully, looked amused. "I woke up in the middle of the night, feeling a bit restless. It took me a while to get to sleep after that."

"I bet," Cissy said, giggling outright.

"What's going on?" asked Butch. 

"Oh, you are so-o young," Cissy said, drawing out the penultimate word. 

Butch stared at her, waiting for her to speak. She said nothing, just rolled her eyes. 

"What?" He paused, and his expression changed. "Oh. Oh, I get it."

Cissy's eyes were still spelling out "you idiot."

"No, really," Butch stuttered. Wow! No kidding?"

I was getting uncomfortable. "I need to go to Chicago this morning
to talk to a Nazi hunter."

"Sure you have enough energy for that?" asked Cissy, who was now working on her deadpan face.

"Enough already," I said. "And you, Mrs. Foote, could give me a little help here."

"You're doing fine," she said, showing off her trademark grin. "How are you getting to Chicago?"

"The Orange Vomit," I said. "I don't think the Edsel will put up with Chicago traffic, even on a Sunday."

"Not to mention the bit of lake snow the weatherman is calling for," Sarah said.

"Gotta go," I said. "It's Sunday and there are only four trains from South Bend today."

Later that afternoon

The South Shore Railroad may have been ugly, but it was reasonably trustworthy, more than I could say for the Edsel. Trains were limited on Sundays, but it did get me into the Loop. From there, it was a hop on the El to the Rogers Park station on the north side of Chicago. I was fortunate that my contact lived there, a long mile from the train. I walked it, in a rather bitter wind, but I was pleased at the way the transit worked. 

My contact, one Simon Weisberg met me at the door of his two-door apartment after I rang the bell.

"Mr. Foote, I presume," he said, extending his hand.

"Yes, call me Bert. Thank you for meeting me."

"Come in. Would you like some coffee or tea? You look like you could use something warm."

I waited a bit inside to catch my breath and let the icicles melt off my eyelashes, but I expect I still looked a sight. "Yes, indeed. Whatever is convenient."

"Coffee is made. Have a seat while I get it for you. How do you like it?"

"Black, thanks."

He came back in less than a minute with a couple of full mugs and set them on a coffee table, sitting across from me in a chair. I embraced my mug with both hands.

Weisberg began. "I understand you're looking for someone to research a priest who might have a Nazi past."

I agreed and filled him on Bernie Fox's story, noting that we were certain he was a Nazi soldier.

"I am what-you-might call a Nazi hunter," he said, "but this man is already deceased
so why would I want to help you?"

"Are you interested in truth," I asked, "or vengeance."

"Truth," he said, staring at me, "and justice. And if I were honest, maybe a bit of vengeance. I lost my family
parents, grandparents, my sisters, in the Holocaust. So, yeah, if I were honest, a bit of vengeance. But my work is about nailing down the story, and, really, that's the most important thing. Nailing down the story."

"Then you will help me nail down the story about this man."

"Only because a friend asked me to help," he said. "That and it should be easy. In my business, the hard part is locating a war criminal. Here, the war criminal
or the suspect, at any rateis already located and taken care of. Looking up his war record should be a piece of cake."

"Really. How do you do that?"

"Ve haf our vays," Weinberg said with a straight face. I laughed. Apparently this was an old joke. "The Nazis were Germans, and Germans are organized, even anal. They are, were, and probably always will be great record keepers. The only trick is getting to see the records, and the post-war administration
at least the West German parthas been quite cooperative in that respect."

"We have to hope that what we need to know is not held by East Germany."

"There's that."

I gave him the necessary details, agreed on paying him $200 for his work, and left satisfied that I would be getting some interesting information in a week or so. I held a vague hope that I might be reimbursed for my expenses. 

Back in the Loop, I stopped in Iwan Ries for some Three-Star Blue pipe tobacco. After that I went into Kroch's and Brentano's, where I picked up a colorful book on the Australian outback for Butch to give to Dingo Dave. 

I got home after dark, too late for a meeting and got invited to spend the night with my wife and her new nightgown.

"Time's a-wastin," she said, her slight grin right where I left it.

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