Two-Fisted Tales

Tales of Mystery and Adventure


The Senator
Another Tale of Jonathan Silver, aka The Ghost

By Ron Capshaw

About the author

Part One

Senator, just produce one, and I'll eat my hat.
    --Letter from Doctor Jonathan Silver to Joseph McCarthy, Feb. 1951.

Washington, 1953.

They still look the same, no matter what the uniform, no matter what the decade, thought Major Victory as he crashed through the skylight.  It could be Yorkville, 1938, and they could be the Bund.

There was still the same wide-eyed look of surprise followed by the jolt of panic as the star-spangled figure landed, guns drawn.  The same futile flight to destroy the evidence.  And like the countless others, it was over before all of the skylight glass had finished hitting the ground.

"We demand a lawyer."

Victory ignored them as he rifled through the papers they had tried to flush.

"It is in the Bill of Rights."

"It is in my bill of rights.  You forfeited possession of that document when you married Uncle Joe.  Just lay there or I'll do worse to you."

"We want a doctor."

"Holy shit," Victory gasped when he got to the third sheet.

He suddenly felt the ground come up and hit him. Impossible, he thought as he fell.  No one can knock me down like that.  A booted foot was on his throat.

"You," Victory gasped.

"You're a busy man, Major.  Civil Rights Congress one day, Schacmanite workers' meeting the next."

"Shit, Silver.  I should have known that you were their courier."

Silver looked at the group getting to their feet.  "Stay put.  Courier?"

Victory threw the papers he still held at Silver.  "Here.  Take them to your buddies in the Kremlin."

Silver looked at them. The figures began to run.  Silver drew his pistol on

"Alright boys.  The innocent lamb routine just fell through.  Who is your contact?"

"We want a lawyer."

"You have one.  Harvard '28.  You can talk to me or the Major here.  Take your choice."

The group looked at each other, nodded, and then keeled over.

Victory ran forward screaming, "Hell."

"Forget it, Victory.  Cyanide capsule in a fake tooth. They were dead before you cursed."

Victory looked at the man who had been a renegade from the government since
1949, the one highest on his list to apprehend.  He briefly considered retrieving his pistols when, to his surprise, Silver gave him the documents.

"Cheer up, Victory.  You stomped into a gold mine.  See if you can actually protect national security this time..."

Compartmentalize, always compartmentalize.
-KGB intelligence training manual.
Two shadows near a bridge.

"We're blown."


"One of the government's superhero types.  Real flagwaver crashed in on a courier unit.  It doesn't matter."

"Shit.  Cut off communications.  Close down.."

"Already done.  I don't want to go home."

"Who does?  Maybe it won't come to that."

"Ivan won't like that."

"Ivan's safe in the Kremlin.  We have to live here."

Victory had been reporting to the Senator for about a year and still could not figure him out.  A rising star because of his investigations into Troskyite organizations during the war, he still seemed to lack the passionate anti-communism Victory saw as essential to the struggle.

"You are sure it was authentic?  It could have been staged to feed you false
information.  Having Silver fight them might have given it just the right touch of gravity.."

"I don't know, sir.  It's true he has always frustrated my forays in the past, but it always had to do with war criminal recruiting.  And he did look genuinely surprised when he saw the material."

The Senator stood up and walked over to the window.  "I'm thinking we might actually need him on this one."

"Sir, he's a communist!"

"Oh grow up, Victory!  You believe too much of what you read.  The man has upset several of our rocket scientist retrievals, but do you think he let them go to Moscow instead?  He's not a communist; he merely doesn't fit into the current program."

"I've seen his file."

"What?  Abraham Lincoln brigade…OSS…It means nothing.  Who do you think
upset the Kremlin's own snatch-and-grab program last year in West Germany?"

Victory looked perplexed.  For him, the Cold War had never required subtlety, merely reflex.

"He's a manhunter.  The best.  Whatever his sentiments toward us, we need him."

"How do we contact him?"

"I believe it is in the White House basement."

Froward Magazine editorial, June 5, 1953
Last night, anti-fascists of the world had cause to rejoice.  Outlining the sky was the Ghost emblem.  Many of our generation will remember this as the manner in which a more progressive president used to summon Jonathan Silver.  Is this a sign of better times?

"Truce," the Senator said to Silver when he appeared on the rooftop.  "Just you and me.  No hidden snipers, no G-men waiting to pounce."

"You're Bennet Zieger of HUAC."

"You're Dr. Jonathan Morgan Silver of the banished Pulp Hero Brigade.  Did you know it was I who was supposed to question you the day you were subpoenaed?  I was looking forward to it.  I grew up on you.  I cannot tell what influence your adventures had on me."

"Yes.  I can see it influenced your career choice.  Cracked down on any civil
rights leaders lately?"

"No.  National security is my province.  I have it from the highest authority that you can be welcomed back into the fold.  Clean political slate.  You can even have your skyscraper headquarters back."

"A hook is usually hidden in this kind of bait."

"You've seen just a smidgen of that courier unit's documents.  It was meant for Isaacson."

Silver shook his head in disgust.  "Oh come on.  You don't believe that boogeyman, do you?  What do you need, Zieger, an excuse for more appropriations?  More fuel for your cold war?"

"He exists.  Don't take my word for it.  Here, take the rest of the documents.  Even you will admit that this represents a threat..."

Part Two

"Because his skyscraper headquarters were so well publicized, the Ghost needed a private place to contemplate his next campaign against the minions of evil -- hence, the Sanctum."
>From "The Silver Avenger", issue 1 of the Ghost Magazine, April 1932.

A swinging light reveals two hands beside a sheaf of documents on a table.  The hands are writing:

"Documents describe a master-spy in Washington, but hardly in glowing terms.
There is something almost adversarial in the tone."

DOCUMENT 1:  The sharks are back out.  Remember the dark days of '37 -- the days of imported terror.  But we are closing in.   Isaacson has resurfaced and let
himself be known.  But his penchant for anonymity remains.  We will just have
to deal with it.

"Imported terror?  It could mean anything.  1936 was the year of the Rhineland occupation.  Year one of the Spanish Civil War.  What was imported?"

DOCUMENT TWO: No more information in Russian.  The FBI is breathing down our necks as it is.  Remember: here, like the other place, we are surrounded on all sides.  For us, the cold war is coldest.

"Who is surrounding them?  It seems pretty straightforward that Soviet agents
merely have to worry about one entity: the American government.  And their own, should they fail."

DOCUMENT THREE:  Isaacson exists -- do not forget that.  Focus on that.  Let
that be your guiding light.

"Hero worship?  It seems logical, if they are amateurs or new recruits, that they would focus on a successful agent who has lived among the enemy for years."

The light switches out.  A decision is reached.

The shadow of a jodhpured figure appears outside the morgue.  A lock is picked.  The shadow next appears where the bodies are kept.  A drawer is opened.  A corpse is examined.  A flashlight lingers on the corpse's arm.
Conner Kaminsky sleeps well despite living in the land of the fascists.  It was he who cast the deciding vote in the Central Committee meeting deciding the new American Communist Party policy of "Fives Minutes to Midnight."

With the Smith Act, HUAC and now McCarthy in full force, the Party had no other choice but to go underground.  But Kaminsky has remained public as the local party head.  It is he who helps print the leaflets denouncing Eisenhower, who pays the electric bills keeping the Party offices a beacon in the land of fascism.  Every night he dreams the same dream: he has killed the fascist Zieger with his bare hands.

A shadow appears by the bed.

"Who is there?"

He switches on the lamp, expecting to see the FBI.  Instead he is confronted with a silver-haired giant.  "Who are you?"

"Oliver Krimms is lying in the morgue."


"Don't play dumb.  Krimms was the Kremlin's best assassin.  Probably killed the defector Krivitsky in '41."

"I don't know what you are talking about."

"Stalin liked to brand his killers -- literally.  Letters on the elbow.  Krimms has it.  What is he doing in the U.S?"

"I don't know what you are talking about."

Silver moved closer to the bed, giving Kaminsky the full effects of his grey eyes.

"Look into my eyes, Connor Kaminsky, and do not lie."

Hypnotized, Kaminsky told Silver very little except that Krimms dropped off the face of the earth in 1936 and was seen weeks ago at a leftwing publishing house that put out a leaflet called the True Blue news...

Click for  Part Three and Four


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The Senator is copyright 1999, Ron Capshaw. It may not be copied or used for any commercial purpose except for short excerpts used for reviews. (Obviously, you can copy it or print it out if you want to read it!)