Authors: Marc Eden
by Norma LeGallee
Based on an original story,
“The Violins of Autumn,” by Valerie Sinclair;
reconstructed for the
final draft by Lewis Green
Lanham â¢ New York â¢ Boulder â¢ Toronto â¢ Plymouth, UK
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Copyright Â© 1992 Marc Eden
First Rowman & Littlefield paperback edition 2014
All rights reserved
. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote passages in a review.
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Information Available
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Available
ISBN 13: 978-1-59077-327-7 (pbk: alk. paper)
The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of American National Standard for Information SciencesâPermanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI/NISO Z39.48-1992.
Printed in the United States of America
To Gary Stevens â
who set the correct course.
The author thanks Miss Carolyn Rand for her unswerving loyalty in the face of the five years of research. Very special thanks to my agent, Rosalie Siegel, who entered late with both guns blazing; and to Mrs. Dorothy Twomey of Chicago for her invaluable help in the early drafts. A kudo to my lifelong friend, Clyde Ware, of the Directors Guild of America, Inc., for his insight in straightening out the central character; and to the Catalyst Group of California, national signatory, for their courageous supply of hard fact.
Somebody is like nobody else.
Her name is Valerie Sinclair.
She takes pictures.
Bletchley Park and the British Official Secrets Act, without their license, have opened for business on the midway of the deadliest attraction in history.
The proofs are in the hands of The Spy.
“What one man can invent another can discover,” said Holmes. â Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Adventure of the Dancing Men
The lens caught it on the fast shutter.
The bomb would go off just when the sun was at its highest, before lunchtime, making a loud noise and a very deep hole about a mile up the street from the photographer who was lucky not to get killed and who had begun to wonder if The Spy really was back in townârather like God in his Heaven, all's right with the worldâand if not, why not.
The Spy was on the lam.
Later, wags would place him in Glasgow, in Dublin, the North Pole, the South Pole, and in London in the back room of Bobby Blake's, around the comer from Harrod's and just up the street from the El Flamingo, said to have a dress code and an active bar, frequented, as we now know, by Orson Welles. Once, on a side street in Paris, prior to the outbreak of the war, somebody had called in to
to say that he had been seen near the Tuileries, a bottle of Armagnac under his arm and talking to Josephine Baker, but the newspaper didn't buy it. And there were also a couple of rumors near the end of the war, attributed to Ed Murrow but circulating out of Kansas, that put him in the train station at Inverness, following his alleged appearance in Southwick, where he narrowly avoided British Operatives who thought they had him traced to Blackpoolâwhere people had started wearing sunglasses.
Bloody odd business, that.
One thing was certain. In those dark and long-ago days, in the Summer of June 1944, The Spy was definitely known to be in England; his precise location, firmly fixed.
A witness had surfaced, bearing photographic record.
Her name was Valerie Sinclair.
In Occupied Britain, overrun by American troops, there had been some talk among the soldiers; but none of them, save that Sergeant, ever really knew much about her. Most of the Yanks were already in France, having gone to Normandy. Those who had stayed were either writing letters home or talking about the weather: “Sun's a BITCH,” the Sergeant said.
Beams of late morning light, poking at her sharp as needles, were pouring through the blinds. It was at the back of the hallway on the second floor, the British Intelligence Office in Weymouth, on the south coast of England. Grasshopper Bay, officially known as HMS Grasshopper, was supposedly out of range of the flying bombs that were falling on London; and it belonged to the Royal Navy. She looked, remembering the American soldiers who had owned the sidewalks.
Beyond, where the bars had emptied, the harbor was full of ships; dark clouds forming a backdrop. She would have liked a snapshot; but for some weeks now, she had been careful not to take any. Just that one print, for good luck, snapped moments ago. Under the circumstances, she thought it best not to mention it. Valerie Sinclair, you see, was a living camera.
Down below, on oil-stained concrete scored with tracks, smoke was rising. Welding rods sparkled with arc-lights. The dockyards banged with metal, thrust with cranes. Dark interiors, concealing high roofs, spilled into the midday sun.
This morning, walking to work, she noticed the colors of the leaves had changed, curling like discarded negatives, left to decay along the curbs. Claimed by sea gulls, protected by fences and guarded by gates, HMS Grasshopper was turning brown. Tar was cooking on Dockyard Row. The smell reminded her of persimmons. Turning from the window, she moved to her desk.
Early figs in summer often have the ripest bodies; and there are girls like that. New under the sun, they must be careful of strange birds. A dark-eyed brunette, just under five-three, this one had ripened near the top of the tree. For the past two years she had been on ice with the Ferry Pilots. Valerie Sinclair had qualified as a candidate for British Naval Intelligence and was waiting.
Completing a page, she popped in a fresh one.
The door opened. A British Intelligence officer entered. Sinclair tapped out the heading and looked up. It was her boss, Lieutenant Carrington. He moved to his desk, sitting down and sorting through his stacks of mail. Carrington could feel the ghost of guilt. It was standing behind him. Nervous, and with something on his mind, he picked up an envelope.
“A bit quiet, now the Invasion's been launched, don't you think?”
“Yes, sir” She was erasing something; it was a smudge on the print. Brushing at it, she stopped as though frozen.
It was one of those sudden interruptions.
An unearthly buzzing, like the approach of a wasp, was coming through the windows. Work in the dockyards ceased. Men stepped out; they looked up into the sun. It was too bright for them to spot itâsputtering over clouds, approaching Weymouth, humming in the sky. In blinking her eyes, just before turning from the window, she had seen it conversionally, as in a mirror. The image, captured upside-down on the negative plate, had snapped within the mechanisms of her mind. Delivered by her Camera Shopâerroneously classified as a photographic memory by MI. 5âthe bomb, moving through the studio of the sky, had been captured on the print. It was her picture; she had taken it; she was looking at it. There would be a tree, two houses, andâ!
Clear as glass!
Overhead, the sound had stopped!
Carrington sat stiffly. His heart pounded...the clock on the wall: the seconds. When the noise stopped, it would fall. It would come, like an earthquake. It was death, seeking weakness and wiping out time. He had seen it before; his nightmares, black: killed in an office, trapped like a rat...humiliated!
Sinclair, knuckles white, gripped the edge of the desk.
The explosion boomed, shaking the floor! Windowpanes rattled, and it echoed through the yard. The V-1 had fallen a mile north of the harbor, blowing up a petrol depot, leveling two houses, and reducing to twigs a three-hundred-year-old oak tree.
Across the bay, hidden by low hills, a spindle of dark smoke was rising. Flying bombs, falling for more than a week, had exploded in the streets of London, turning the city into a place of bad dreams. Firestorms were raging through Whitechapel. Reporters like Edward R. Murrow were huddled under stairwells, arms raised against flying bricks, jabbing microphones up into the night skies ablaze with jutting lights. Throughout the week, along England's south coast, other bombs had dropped within a fifty-mile radius. This last one, errant and landing to the south, was off course.
She stared at him as the sounds reverberated away.
“All right, are you?” Lieutenant Carrington unbuttoned his collar, the inside band was wet. “Well now, that was quite a
, wasn't it?
He picked up the calendar. It had fallen off his desk: 20 June, 1944. Too many explosions! He had to get away. A return to sea-duty, that was the ticket. On the preferred list for more than two years now, his superiors at the Southampton officeânamely, David Hamilton and Martin Seymourâwere steadily moving him up to the top. Small price, actually: All he had to do was keep supplying them with information about Valerie.
Older than most for a Lieutenant, and with younger bucks at his back, he would have to gain what advantage he could from the Navy, while they still needed him.
Carrington glanced at her. As a man, he wanted her. A lover, that sort of thing. He had seen girls like her on cutie calendars, standing in the sun in yellow bathing suits about to put their lips on a bottle of Coca-Cola and... something twitched, officially, in Carrington's pants. Sinclair looked up, her lips wet, and slightly parted. Carrington cleared his throat, feeling naked. Mentally, he grabbed the calendar and put it behind his desk. The girl was a
for God's sake! More, she was a Wren, his secretary. He knew what they would say: there were rules,
. But he masturbated a lot, and he often felt tired in the morning. Unofficially, she was wearing him out. He returned her happy look, smiling thinly. Muzzled in the white blouse, her breasts stared at him like accusers. Not that it would matter, but if he were ever torturedâwhich he imagined a lot of latelyâthe most they would get out of him was that he admired her legs.
Tugging at her skirt, she crossed them.
Concentrating on his mail, Carrington reached absently for the ashtray. He tapped out a cigarette, finding assurance in the brand. His hand raked through his hair, which was turning grey, a lock falling to his forehead, framing a worried face.
Behind her, his lighter clicked.
Returned to her typing, her fingers went flying over the keys: cargo shipments...tonnage of guns. It was quite photogenic. She reached over to get a Kleenex. The Lieutenant, cigarette smoking in his ashtray, was reading a letter. Such a dear! She had often wished to take a picture of him. Something really good, in black and white.
He could certainly use a wife
Valerie finished typing. She straightened up her desk. In moving the picture frame, she saw that it was facing away. Sinclair looked. It was a photo of Basil, her late husband. Drowned at sea, he was listed as missing. Left with a four-year-old son, she had placed the boy with her parents. Lieutenant Carrington had arranged it. She sighed, turning it back to the wall.
It was really not a very good photo
“Why don't you take a break now?” Carrington said.
There was a lounge on the first floor.
As she walked out of the office, he thought how attractive she looked in her W.R.N.S. uniform. When he heard her footsteps on the stairs, he removed the envelope from his desk. It had arrived without a stamp. The memoâdemand, actuallyâfrom Lieutenant Commander Loot, down the hall, was outright indecent. Loot, a rival officer pulling rank, had requisitioned his secretary!