Two-Fisted Tales

Tales of Mystery and Adventure


The Senator
Another Tale of Jonathan Silver, aka The Ghost

By Ron Capshaw

Part Three

The setup was simple.  One figure dropped an envelope through the mail slot in the True Blue office door.  Another entered the building and carried it out.  Silver let the figure get about a block before he grabbed him.

"Into the alley."

The courier complied.

"It won't do any good.  We are closing in.  We'll know in days," the courier said. Silver grabbed the packet from him.  The courier continued, "Tell your masters that.  Tell him that the old man will rise from the grave and take his revenge."

"What are you talking about?" Silver said.

"I thought you NKVD butchers were well-briefed."

"I'm not NKVD."

"Sure you're not."

A 95-year-old ubangi once imparted to Silver how to become aware of others without seeing them.  The fever that the ubangi had programmed into Silver now raged in his body.

Coming toward him down the alley was a scene right out of a Red Menace chapterplay: three large figures in East European leather coats bearing AK-47s.

They machine-gunned the courier before Silver could stop them.  Silver ran at them when one of the figures drew a dart gun and fired it into Silver's neck.

As he passed out, he heard them say his name in Russian...

They had left the document, but had taken the corpse.  They had even wiped the blood off the wall.   Silver unwrapped the package.  Again, it was a sheaf of documents:

Get this to Karns immediately.  He's back in force.  He knows he's cornered.  It is just a matter of time.

What followed looked like a resume:
Nye Committee Member (We now know this for sure).

The rest was in some kind of code.

Silver went back to the True Blue building and picked the lock.  He found them in the basement -- three men, one woman, machine-gunned.  He did not have to guess the type of ammunition.

The woman stirred, not dead yet.

"Karns," she gasped, "we should have guessed.  We don't need you, after all.  He had the best disguise of all."

She shook once and died.

Bloodied fingerprints were on a historical atlas for the year 1936.  Silver opened the book and a packet fell out.  Inside were numerous photographs of a time in Russia when everyone was suspect -- forgotten faces, mugshots of the liquidated.  Not all of them were like this, though.  One was a photo of Krimms, the dead assassin in the morgue, and a well-dressed young man in what looked like a café.

Silver had a photographic memory; even so, it took him at least a minute to recall the figure beside the Russian.

"Well done, Silver," the senator said, coming into the room with Victory.

"Shit, Silver," Victory said, "that mess upstairs looks more like my handiwork or the Black Eagle than yours.  I thought you believed in rehabilitation."

"Don't flatter yourself, Victory.  I didn't do it."

"Well, what have we here."  The Senator snatched the photo Silver had tried to hide.  "Well, well.  Mr. Owen Lamont once of the Agricultural Adjustment Adminstration, Aid to the Loyalists, and most importantly, once of the State Department -- the China division, I believe.  No wonder we lost that country to the Reds."

"You don't know that."

"Oh come on, Silver!  He's posing next to the Kremlin's no. 1 assassin.  He's Isaacson!  Accept it!  Don't get weepy-eyed about a man who has not only betrayed his country but killed countless people!  Anyway, thanks.  You've done your country a service."

"Don't you think we might be manipulated by something here?  I mean, who killed those people upstairs and why didn't they take anything?  Didn't you notice that nothing was ransacked?"

"Yes, I did.  But you managed to rectify that.  Thank you.  I always suspected the pinkish Mr. Lamont."

Silver watched Zieger and Victory leave.  He brought out what he did not show
them from the packet: the codebook.

No matter what the perspective of the scholar, the most examined and cited document of the notorious Lamont case has always been the following from the
HUAC session of July 10, 1953:

Zieger: So you deny that you were ever a member of the American Communist

Lamont:  I have already said "no."  But I will do so again: No, I have never been a member of that organization.

Zieger:  And you have never associated with any known member of the intelligence services of the USSR at any time?

Lamont: No.

Zeiger:  Then how do you explain this photo of you with a Mr. Oliver Krimms aka Oliver Kalows, Ola De Kanni, identified by the FBI as a member of the NKVD's wetwork division?"

All of the subsequent accounts note that Lamont, at this moment in the hearings, paled.  Some attribute it to shock that a friend was really a spy.  Others offer it as evidence of Lamont's guilt -- his recognition that the game was finally up.  All attribute it to the death knell of Lamont.  He was subsequently tried in a court of law for perjury, found guilty, and sentenced to 5 years in prison.  He died while in prison.


The same swinging lightbulb, the same hands.

"I have broken the code.  It is again, a resume:"

Nye Committee member, 1935.
Speaker at the Democratic National Convention, 1940.
Internal Security council member 1944 -- to the current date.

The hand stops writing.  It begins again:
"I have been duped -- again.  Once in '38, again in '53."

The light goes out.

Silver needed to know for sure.  He picked the office lock.  He went straight to the shelves.  He found it on page 399 of the Who's Who in American Political Life -- a duplicate of the code:

Nye Committee member, 1935.
Speaker at the Democratic National Convention, 1940.
Internal Security council member 1944 to the current date.

Bennet Zieger.

The group at True Blue was tracking down Isaacson.  That is why the courier thought I was NKVD.  That is why the coded messages said they were surrounded
on all sides.  Zieger represented both Moscow and the American right in this
country.  He had command of the NKVD and the FBI at his disposal, all dependent on the mask he wore at that particular moment.

"The old man rising from his grave for vengeance."  Trotsky.  Vengeance against Stalin and all of his minions.  Zieger made his name famous by investigating Trotskyite groups during the war.  He was hunting down those who were on his trail.  That was his public guise.  But he needed a rapier to go after the real threat -- those who had been collecting data on him all these years, those about to close in.

That's where I came in.

I had done his work for him.

That's why he used those comic book Russians to kill the courier -- to convince
me that there really was a communist threat.  There was, but he was it.

And here I am, standing in the son of a bitch's office.

Silver encountered them in the hallway.  The same comic book Russians who killed the courier.  This time they were armored up.  The gas cannisters broke immediately.  Silver tried holding his breath but they obviously worked by exposure to naked skin...

Part Four

Silver awoke to the sounds of waves against a hull.  They were taking no chances with his fabled strength.  He had a double row of handcuffs on him and he was also tied to a chair.  The three bruisers were there.  He could sense Zieger's presence the same way a chimpanzee can sense a snake.

"You may as well come out, Zieger, I know all about you."

"And I know about you."

Zieger stepped out into the light.

"My, my, our rapier knows the truth, does he?  The cold war is complex, isn't
it?  Actually, you were my choice, not Moscow's.  They knew you would be
unreliable.  I knew you could be duped again like you were in Spain.  All I needed to do was rattle the patriotic chain this time rather than the internationale one."

"Victory apparently doesn't know."

"Victory -- he's a blunt instrument.  He could just as easily be one of those super-types the KGB uses.  He's black and white.  But you and I -- we are shades
of grey.  We are a lot alike."

"We're nothing alike."

"Oh yes, we are.  We are both renegades.  Skulkers in the shadows.  You can't
be a hero in your country and I am a hero in the wrong one.  Do you know you
are standing in the presence of the 'man who got Owen Lamont?'"

Silver said nothing.

"Oh yes -- Lamont whose only crime was being a fruit.  Krimms was homosexual,
didn't you know?  I didn't mind that, but then the son of a bitch defected in '37 when Stalin had his brother shot during the purge trials.  Krimms wanted to do the most damage he could to Stalin so he started hunting me.  He came close, I'll give him that.  But I put Victory on him -- and, well, as you know, the rest is history."

"What do you want?"

"To not have to go home.  I actually like it here.  And, oh yes, Power.  Tanks in the streets, martial law.  Do you realize that, as of tonight, I am the most popular political figure in the country?"

"You two-faced bastard."

"It was always the same face, just slightly different rhetoric."

"So the Russians have their highest placed American agent even higher placed.  Then what?"

"What do you think?  Martial law!  Barbed wire!  The commies are coming and only Senator Bennet Zieger can protect you!  Only the red invasion they fear
will not land on the beaches.  Hell, they will probably vote it in."

"And where do I fit into the program?"

"As always, my dear Ghost, you don't.  You never did.  Whether you worked for
Senator Bennet Zieger or Isaacson you were always out of place."

Zieger turned to the three Russians.  "Did you search him?"

"Head to toe."

"Begin when I leave the boat.  I want no traces."

Zieger smiled and took a hammer-and-sickle pin off of his jacket and placed
it on Silver's lap.  "Souvenir for the dupe."

There was a brief sound of the sea as Zieger opened the door and then there was a silence.

The three figures advanced on Silver, knives drawn...

Congressional Record, July 18, 1953.

Konn:  Let me allow my erstwhile and heroic colleague, Senator Bennet Zieger,
to have the floor.

Zieger:  Thank you, Senator.  Colleagues, a great conspiracy has been uncovered.  But let us not think that our work is over.  Owen Lamont only represents the tail of the dragon.  The beast still lurks beneath the surface of our public life.  Let us be vigilant, let us be --"

Slight disruption on the senate floor.

"Excuse me, colleagues, but I believe one of my assistants has more information for me.  I will be back."

Unknown to scholars of the case, and even those that were there on that fateful day of July 18, 1953, was the reason for Zieger's exit.  Only he saw Silver at the back of the room waving a file at him.

"Into the restroom."

"How in hell did you get off that boat?"

"Close the door.  My father didn't spend thousands of dollars on hindu fakirs for nothing.  They were pretty easy to hypnotize."  Silver looked at his watch.
"They should be confessing to the FBI about you right now as programmed."

Zieger paled and then smiled.  "They won't believe them."

"I know.  It was a bluff."

"Nor will the FBI believe you.  You're a communist.  I know you're not.  But
the public doesn't.  They will never believe you.  All I will have to do is scream 'communist plot' and they will believe me.  And this time you will not slip through the net.  They'll get you and put you where they put leftwing superheroes who have outlived their era."

"I know."

"So what are we to do, Ghost?  You know you cannot rehabilitate me."

Silver began putting on rubber gloves.

"And you cannot go public."

Silver drew a pistol.

"If that is a knockout gun and you are going to take me to your fabled sanctuary in the Maple White Land you can forget it.  I'll have the natives turned on you in no time flat."

"I know."

"So what are we to do?"

Silver cocked the pistol.

"Well, I am going to leave you.  After that, I will walk out of the building and back out of pocket."

Silver walked to a bathroom stall and opened it.  The three hypnotized Russians walked out.  He handed the gun to one of them.

"If you are curious about this photo before you die, I will show it to you."

Silver opened the folder.  In it was a picture of Owen Lamont in bed with Bennet Zieger.

"Dad also spent a lot of money on forgery tutors.  I did quite a job, didn't I?  The only thing worse to be than a communist in the atmosphere you helped create: a homosexual."

Zieger paled.

"When the door closes," Silver said to the hypnotized Russian with the gun, "begin firing."

The Russian killed Zieger with the first shot.  The photo was then placed by Zieger.  The Russians told the police what Silver programmed them to say: that they were the jealous lovers of Owen Lamont.

The End.

Back to Part One and Two


Table of ContentsPulp and Dagger icon

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!)