Cicero and the Case of the Missing Blueblood: Chapter 5: An Unexpected Clue

Cleveland, Ohio Lakeshore Train Station December 1945

Cicero was standing in his Navy uniform. He had just gotten off the train. If all was well, Fast Bobby would have his shitty roadster in tip-top shape in the usual place in the parking lot on East 9th.

“Mister, you look like official-type man, can you help me please?”

Cicero looked over at the bedraggled wild-eyed foreigner. The man had wavy blond hair and incongruous dark skin.

“What do ya need buddy?”

“Mister I come all the way from Europa. I hawve to go to Erryria, Ohio, find cownvent with Sister Elise. I hawve five girls with me to hawve been briwnging to the sister.”

“I count seven girls, friend.”

“These two are to have been Zsciewisch, no Catholica. I have place for Catholicas but I don’t know how to find Zsciewisch Rabbi-person to help girls Mimi and Rachel. I bring whole grouwp all the way from Jugoslav nation.”

“Cigarette?”

He offered the foreign man a Cigaretu.”

“Oh my gosh Mister man, this is Jaguru Czeckisch Cigaretu!”

“Come with me. I have to head to Dearborn tonight. I have my shitty roadster. I can carry everybody. Sister Elise is an old friend. It’s a miracle you found me.”

“Thank you, You are very great, great man. Ohio is place of miracles!”

“Not only that, I’ve got a Jew for you in Dearborn, Swifty Schoenstein, he’s my accountant. He will find a place for the girls.”

“My name is Tomascz. I am gypsy origin of Kiev in Ukraine. Been long struggles.”

“My name is Sam Cicero. Don’t mind the uniform. I just got discharged from the Navy today. I was a private eye before the War. Now I’m gonna re-open my old office. Consider yourself my first client. Stay with me. I sleep in the office, you can too.”

“You are to hawve been great man, very, very great man!”

The girls followed the two men out into the parking lot where they found a huge jet-black car, it was an old Roakathon Checquer Cab. It fit seven easily in the back. Sammy started up the shitty roadster. Fast Bobby had taken good care of it and left it right in the same spot Sam had dropped it off in way back in 42. He pulled out towards East 9th Street and headed South into the night.

“Do the girls speak English?”

“A little bit I teach them you see?”

“How do you know English?”

“Gypsy must speak many tongues to survive in shitty Europa! Do you hate Gypsy?”

“No, I don’t hate Gypsies. I love Django Reinhart.”

“How you know the Django? He hero to me! Sammwy you are very cool cat!”

“There should be a big box in the back packed with food. There is a cooler with soda-pops too. Fast Bobby promised me. You give the girls whatever they need.”

—-

POW Camp Japanese Occupied Philippines late 1944

The Rokkomann stood high on his rock above the soldiers assembled at the camp. Usually he was only up there to instruct Ka-ra-te and the ancient art of Ba-ru-ki-ka-ru. But today it was his final moment.

“All of you…Americans…my dear friends. As you know, we have had fewer casualties, less disease, fewer deaths than any POW Camp under all of the Nippon Army. Why? Because I love America and I love Americans. I made you a deal back in ’42. No-one tries to escape, I look good to those idiots in the Imperial High Command, and we get good doctors, good food, hard booze, hookers and parties all the time! You kept your word, I kept mine. Whenever the Inspector General came around, you played it up like I was tough on you. When the Red Cross came around, you told them I took good care of you. The Filipinos, when the War ends they will kick out the Americans. But mark my words, it will be a move they always regret. There is evil in the world. The only ones good enough to fight it is you Americans. You are true blue, you never lost the faith, never betrayed your country. This is why I love Americans. We claim honor, but you live it, down to the lowliest, shittiest Private.”

The Rokkoman paused and adjusted his collar.

“When I was in Military College, they sent me for a year to live in the United States as an exchange officer with the University of Pittsburgh ROTC program. Pittsburgh was one big party. I saw how great it was to be American. Capitalism, booze, women, industry, gambling, and the ultimate roak: the Uniontown Red! It was great! And I know how I was treated by Japan. With its so-called Honor! I was to be Ronin! I was humiliated! When I was in the Army I was given the worst assignments. It was I at Nanking who tried to stop the slaughter! I the so-called evil Rokkomann! I saved more Chinese than any other Imperial Officer! They always hated me in Japan. I was never good enough, never honorable enough, never Japanese enough. You are not one of us they always told me. You do not belong. They were right!”

The Rokkoman paused, took a long roak on a strange looking hand-rolled cigarette. “I will be put on trial. I will probably be sentenced to death, even though I did right by you. I only ever wanted to be an American. In America everyone is welcome. No-one is judged. You can be rich if you are clever enough. I would ask some of you to speak for me at the trial, but after Japan is defeated, and it will be, because we have aligned ourselves with true evil, none of you will be able to speak in my behalf. I understand. Just remember, years from now when you are with your wives, children and friends, that I protected you even against my own country, because I truly believe in the American way. I was born American in my heart. They were right back in Nippon I am not one of them. I am one of you. And if divine Providence allows, one day I will join you in America. As they say in the old Western – Happy Trails to You! Until we meet again! I am the Rokkoman…of America!”

—–

Mohawk Drive, Erie, PA 1946

“Do you roak the schmiee?”

The girl asked Cicero under the shitty streetlight on Erie’s West side. Cicero pulled out an embossed solid gold cigarette case. He flipped it open. It contained tiny rolled cigarettes.

“Try one of these, honey. Uniontown Red, one of the best Pennsylvania blends. Grown high in the Laurel Highlands along Washington’s Road.”

The girl looked hungrily at the forbidden roak. The two figures lit up the ‘Dry Satan’ under the acrid neon lights and the shitty flickering streetlamps on the filthy corner.

“Where is Thomas?”

“He went down to Pittsburgh, some business. Madame Beauregard is running things while he’s away. Some kind of favor.”

“Ah Madame Beauregard.”

Cicero said dreamily. He liked her, she was his kind of dirty, filthy, shitty hooker. An old French one from New Orleans. The best kind. She was sloppy fat, hideous, all behind and bosom, not a day under 65. She was Cicero’s favorite. She favored lace. She looked like what she was.

—-

MOUNTAIN FOREST NEAR KONJIC, BOSNIA OCCUPIED JUGOSLAVIJA, 1944

The man sat at the edge of the log, whittling a piece of wood. His face was partially obscured by the shadows created by the fire. Tomascz sat on the other side of the fire peering through the flames at the man. The man looked common, but he also had an aura of confidence about him. He looked around seeing families huddled together, a man in a woven cap wearing a robe, a tall, craggy young man, a burly man with a large round face man who looked like a circus strongman, and the girl.

“I would like to know who you are and why you have come to be a Partisan.”

Said the man to no-one in particular, still focused on his stick carving. The man with his two young daughters spoke first.

“My name is Josip Effendi, I am a Jew from Mostar. My family killed or deported except for my two daughters here, they are ten and eleven. We have nowhere to go everyone hates us. I am not political. I am not a banker. We were just people. We had a little restaurant by the Neretva. We have nothing. I have failed my family. I don’t know how to protect my daughters.”

The whittler spoke again.

“You are so afraid my friend. Full of fear. But the collective is strong, you are the collective. Please introduce yourself again Partisan.”

The man looked down.

“My name is Citizen. I am a Jugoslav. I am a man, I am a partisan.”

The bearded man in the cap spoke.

“My name is Anto. I am a Muslim from Podvelez, I am an imam with a small mosque in Bunia. I am not comfortable with the situation. God commands us to teach first, not to destroy everything. I want to be righteous.”

“Try again, I did not understand you. It sounds like you are looking inward instead of outwards to your country and the mass of the collective.”

Said the whittler still looking down. The man looked directly at the whittler.

“My name is Citizen. I am a Jugoslav. I am a man, I am a partisan.”

The tall man spoke next.

“My name is Fabijan. I am from Dubrovnik. I am a Roman Catholic. I played basket for the Jugoslavian  national team. They were killing everyone, they wanted me to fight in the army to aid the National Socialist Entity. I am a lover not a fighter.”

“Try again, your words were not clear. It sounded to me like you are a hedonist, but you have doubts.”

The tall man stood up proudly and looked around the circle.

“My name is Citizen. I am a Jugoslav. I am a man, I am a partisan.”

The girl next to Tomascz spoke up.

“My name is Ilijana. I am a dirty prostitute from the City of Sarajevo. My father was from Montenegro and my mother was from Slovenia. My life has always been meaningless. I don’t know why I am here.”

She burst into tears and turned away from the circle.

“Come back here and speak the truth, citizen. You are not dirty. You are not unclean. You serve no man and no master but the people!”

The woman wiped away the tears and stared into the fire.

“My name is Citizen. I am a Jugoslav. I am a woman. I am a Partisan!”

The big man stood up. “My name is Branko. I am from Nevesinje, I am Orthodox. I win silver medal in weightlifting in 1936 for Jugoslavia. my gym is destroyed. Family killed. Friends scattered. I have nothing. I have lost hope.”

“Alone, my fellow Citizens there is no hope. But take this stick, I snap it in two it is not strong.” The man then picked up a large bundle of sticks. He walked over and handed them to the huge weightlifter. “Now break these.”

The weightlifter with his huge, strong hands struggled and sweated but could not break the sticks. He threw them down, laughing, then he stood up looking up at the sky.

“My name is Citizen. I am a Jugoslav. I am a man, I am a partisan!”

Now it was Tomascz turn. He did not speak or stand up. The whittler glanced up at Tomascz.

“There are no Jews here, no Orthodox, no Croats, no Serbs, no Muslims, no prostitutes, no foreigners and no Gypsies. Now introduce yourself to the collective!”

Tomascz slowly stood up, gaining strength as he rose. He began to walk around the fire, then he shouted:

“My name is Citizen. I am a Jugoslav. I am a man, I am a partisan!”

“Come over here girls, you have not spoken!”

The two girls, Rachel and Mimi came over and each one sat on one of the man’s knees.

“Are you afraid of me?” He asked the girls.

“No”

They both said at once.

“Because you are a great man and you will protect us all.”

Now the whittler smiled and he sent the girls back over to their father. He rose and walked slowly around the circle looking each of them in the eyes in turn. “I am not afraid. I refuse to be afraid. I believe that divided we are weak, but together we are strong. Together we are Jugoslav. Together we will build a great country.”

MEZICA SLOVENIA, SOUTH OF BLEIBURG, AUSTRIA MAY 1945

Tomascz pulled five terrified children out of the line of refugees just before the bridge. He gathered the children around him in the mud on the side of the road.

“Tomascz, what the hell are you doing! I gave you an order?”

“Fabijan, I am taking Mimi, Rachel and these five other children with me. We are walking west until we reach the North Sea. Then I am getting on a boat and I am going to Ohio.”

“This is desertion! Are you not a Partisan? Do you not want to punish the fascists?”

“When are we even Fabijan? Tell me the number? How many people do we kill and how many women are raped until we are even?”

“Tomascz, this talk is treason!”

“Treason? I have served a country to which I do not belong. I served a man who I do not know. I served a cause that was not mine. I am a Gypsy. My whole life I hated myself for being Gypsy. Gypsies stole children and here I am like Pied Piper, leading children away…but away from slaughter! Gypsies were called thieves, lived outside of society, no good, low morals, but how many have the Gypsies killed? How many Cities have Gypsies destroyed? How many refugees have the Gypsies created? How many farms collectivized and businesses confiscated? How many people have Gypsies declared sub-human and slaughtered? Yes I am Gypsy…I am Gypsy, I am a man and I am a Christian!”

“You can take Rachel and Mimi, but leave the children of the fascists.”

Tomascz turned and stood face to face with the tall man, searching his eyes, then he spoke out loud the words from Mark he learned as a child:

“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

“Fabijan. Fabijan! Think back to when you were partying in Dubrovnik. Find that human being still left inside of you that loved to drink and to live. Do you want to be remembered as Fabijan the great basketball player? Fabijan the Partisan?…. Or Fabijan the child-killer? Go ahead Komrade, shoot me and the children in the back but we are marching all the way to Ohio. I am leaving now.”

Tomascz and the seven children began to march west. Fabijan held his rifle at his side. He took a long breath, looked down at the ground and began to walk away. Tomascz, with his arms open, herded the children before him. Tomascz believed that one good deed could save the world and maybe, one of the Saints might intercede for him and bring Raschzel back to him.

 

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