A serial fiction story for your enjoyment
written by James Rada, Jr.
5: On The Move
Brian Johnson had a plan to assassinate President Franklin Roosevelt. It didn’t matter that Brian didn’t know where the president was. He knew the man would come to him, and when he did, Brian would kill him.
He was a German spy, posing as an American serviceman. Luckily, he had been recruited to be a member of the OSS, the Office of Strategic Services, which was America’s newly created spy agency.
Since learning Roosevelt would be at his secret retreat near the camp, Brian had been obsessed with finding the president and assassinating him in the name of the Fatherland. He had found where he believed the retreat shared a border with the OSS camp. An 18-wire barbed-wire fence separated the two properties.
Brian had been digging a furrow under the fence for the past few days and disguising his work with loose dirt and grass. He had considered cutting the wire, but he didn’t have the tools he needed. He also suspected the wires were alarmed. However, because the retreat bordered a military camp here, it didn’t have sentry booths or floodlights like Brian had seen where the borders of the camps diverged. No one expected trouble for the president to come from a military camp.
Brian didn’t know how much time he had before Roosevelt came here. He had given up all his clothing and personal items when he had been recruited, so he had no watch or calendar to know what day it was or even the time of day.
However, he knew when the president arrived because on that day, the shooting range at the OSS camp closed. He had heard Colonel Smith on a phone call say he would do this, so as not to disturb the president during his time away from Washington.
The morning Colonel Smith announced the range would be closed until further notice, Brian knew it was time to act. However, he couldn’t slip away in the daylight hours. It would be too easy for someone to miss him.
He waited until after everyone had turned in for the night. Usually everyone was so exhausted from the day’s training, they fell asleep quickly. Brian lay in his lower bunk with his eyes closed, listening to the other men in the cabin. Their breathing became slower, except for the trainee called Douglas. He snored lightly.
When Brian was sure everyone was asleep, he slid out of his bunk, grabbed his clothes and boots, and walked to the door. If anyone asked, he would say he was going to the bathroom. Outside, he dressed quickly and followed the trail by memory to the fence. Only when he was far enough away from the buildings did he turn on his flashlight. He kept it pointed downward to minimize how far it illuminated. With the president visiting, the guards would be on a higher alert than usual.
He found the fence and then moved along it until he found the spot where he had been digging. He had filled it loosely with dirt and grass, so that it wouldn’t attract attention if a guard happened to stumble on it.
He uncovered some rudimentary tools he had been using and a few sheets of newspaper he had found in the garbage. He folded the pages and twisted them into a point. He had been trained how to do this during his classes on unconventional weapons, where he was learning to turn everyday items like combs and toothbrushes into weapons. His paper knife would probably only work as a knife once, but that was all he needed it to last. He could use it to gain an actual weapon.
Brian knelt down and scooped out the loose dirt. Then he lay on his back and wiggled under the fence. It was a tight fit, but he made it onto the president’s property without creating any noise.
He waited and listened to make sure he hadn’t attracted the attention of a sentry who might be patrolling.
From this point on, he was breaking new ground. He walked away from the fence, deeper into the woods. He tucked his tools into his waistband. He carried his paper knife in one hand and his flashlight in the other hand.
He kept the flashlight off as much as possible. He didn’t want to risk being seen, and he wanted to be able to see any lights in the distance that could lead him to his target.
He had no idea how much time had passed, but he would be noticed missing when all the recruits woke in the morning. He hoped he could complete his mission and make it back to the cabin before that happened.
Brian stopped when he heard movement. He squatted and listened. Then not only did he hear branches being pushed away, he saw a flashlight come on. The beam shone off to his left. A Marine guard was patrolling and must have heard Brian.
He waited, hoping the man would think that whatever he heard was just an animal and move on. He tried to control his breathing and minimize his exhalations.
Then the light swung further away from Brian, only to swing quickly back and land on Brian.
“Stay where you are!” the Marine shouted.
Instead, Brian launched himself at the man. The Marine reached for his pistol.
Brian tackled him and they landed on the hard ground. He stabbed his paper knife into the Marine’s neck. He felt a hard impact, but the paper blade crumpled without penetrating the Marine’s neck. So much for his OSS training. He smashed his fist into the man’s throat so that he couldn’t scream for help.
As the Marine struggled for breath, Brian punched him in the face until the man stopped moving. Brian checked for a pulse. The Marine was still alive. He could regain consciousness at any time. Brian pinched the man’s nose closed and held his hand over his mouth. He counted off two minutes and checked again for a pulse. He didn’t feel anything. He hoped the Marine was dead. Brian didn’t want him interfering with his plans.
He took the man’s rifle and pistol off him and stood up. He didn’t think the fight had alerted anyone. At least Brian didn’t hear anyone rushing toward him.
He continued moving in the direction he thought the Marine had come from. He came to a dirt road. He felt he was getting closer. All he should need to do would be follow the road. The question was which direction should he go?
He made a gut call based on how he felt the Marine had been marching and went left. Within a few yards, he heard a vehicle coming along the road and saw lights in the distance. He quickly hid himself behind the brush along the road. A Jeep drove by without slowing.
Brian walked back out to the road and started jogging the direction the Jeep had gone. This was taking longer than he had hoped and he hadn’t even located the place where the president was staying.
He had to find it soon if he wanted to get back to his cabin in time.
After running for a couple minutes, he thought he noticed light on the horizon. He slowed to walk when he noticed the light was getting brighter as he moved closer. He got off the road and moved into the trees.
Then he reached a slight rise and looked over. The light had been coming from lampposts around a very large hunting lodge. He also noted a few outbuildings that were large cabins.
Brian had found the president’s retreat.
You Won’t Know Until Your Hair Turns Gray
by Sue E. Clabaugh
You won’t know until your hair turns gray, how I’ve loved you
since that first day when I saw you there in your little pink blanket.
How my heart stopped every time you smiled
And what it meant to me to welcome you into my life.
You won’t understand what it meant to see you grow
and to know that I had been a part of those first years.
You won’t know why I took you to church and Sunday School
and the Golden Rule was how I wanted you to live your life.
How learning to walk to the altar to light the candles with your Pappy
gave you courage and made you happy that you had no fears
Which you have carried through the years—in all you do.
You won’t know until your hair turns gray
Why I sat on the bleachers in the heat of the sun
To see you run when you hit your first ball
Or why I froze just to help you make that snowman that you wanted to call Paul McCartney.
Oh and teach you to hold that pinkie up
While holding your cup at our very best tea party.
And then would help you make a cake
With leaves, grass, cinnamon and seeds from the magnolia tree
Just to see you feel like you were the best, when in truth
I needed a rest—but chose you and your joy.
You’ll never know until your hair turns gray
How I loved you day after day
Because you changed my life.
Gave me a cause to be more than just an old lady.
Gave me a reason to live life over again
To be happy when others said “You’re out of your head”
At your age to take on all that.
So, when you grow older and find
that there are days when you are kind
To others and it makes you feel better
Because you did.
When you’re no longer a kid but a woman with children,
Of your own, and teach them to pray
And always say they are brave.
When you have that moment when you play
And pretend that leaves with cinnamon and magnolia seeds will stay
To be shared at your tea party
With your pink plastic cup—with your pinkie up
That’s when you will say
So that’s what she meant when she said
You’ll never know until your hair turns gray!