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Authors: Gordon Bickerstaff

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Everything to Lose

BOOK: Everything to Lose
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© Gordon Bickerstaff 2014

 

Gordon Bickerstaff has asserted his rights under the Copyright, Design and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as the author of this work.

 

First published in 2014 by Endeavour Press Ltd.

 

This book is dedicated to Sadie and John.

Gone
but not forgotten.

 

Acknowledgements

 

Thanks
to Richard, Matt, Amy, Charlotte and Tessa at Endeavour Press for support, advice and insights into good story-telling.

Special
thanks to Natalie and Emily for all their advice, corrections and contributions.

 

'The measure of a man is what he does with power'

Plato.

 

'Power
was my weakness and my temptation'

Albus
Dumbledore (JK Rowling).

 

1

 

Berlin
,
Germany

 

Preparations for the 1936 Summer Olympic Games in Berlin started decades earlier when Berlin had been selected to host the 1916 Games. Those Games were cancelled due to World War 1 but much of the plans including a grand Olympic stadium had been produced by architect brothers Werner and Walter March.

When
the Nazi Party came to power in 1933 the IOC had already accepted in 1931 a bid by Berlin to host the 1936 Games. The March brothers supervised the construction of a 100,000 seat track and field Olympic stadium including, for the first time in Olympic history, a closed circuit television system that could broadcast to forty countries. The Reich Sports Field complex covered 325 acres with four stadiums draped extensively in Nazi banners and symbols.

Adolf
Hitler saw the 1936 Games as a grand opportunity to promote his views on racial supremacy to the World. Hitler wanted sport success to strengthen the German spirit, bond the German youth and weed out non-Aryans. He wanted the Olympic Games to showcase his blond-haired, healthy, athletic Aryan men and women as true champions.

To
ensure that non-Aryans would not share Olympic glory he had a Nazi directive issued barring Germans who were Roma or Jewish from participating in the Games. Many were expelled from their clubs in the run up to the Olympics. Even strong medal contenders were barred including Lilli Henoch, who was four-time world record holder in shot and discus and Gretel Bergmann who had set a world record of 1.6 metres in the high jump.

Hitler
attended many of the events and personally he was keen on rowing. He attended the Olympic regatta on the Langer See lake, at Grünau, southeast of Berlin. Of the seven Olympic rowing events Germany won five gold medals and one silver medal and Hitler was overjoyed with the rowing successes.

The
last race was the men's eight-man team final. Hitler confidently expected the race to be a formality for his superior team and invited many dignitaries to bask in the magnificence of the German rowing team. Extensive celebrations had been prepared for the winning team and it was expected to be a close race between Germany and Italy.

On
Friday August 14, 1936, Hitler, top Nazi officials, Olympic Committee officials and other dignitaries gathered for another glorious final and another resounding rendition of the Nazi Party anthem
Horst
-
Wessel
-
Lied
and Nazi salutes at the medal ceremony. A steel-helmeted military band blasted out a succession of music such as
Kampflied
der
Nationalsozialisten
, and
Deutschland
uber
Alles
. Some sections in the stadium sang out the lyrics with loud fervour while others felt intimidated enough to mouth the lyrics.

Eva
Braun sat nearby excited by the spectacle. He glanced sideways at her and their eyes met fleetingly. Hitler was adamant they were not to be seen in public as a couple.

Hitler
felt the Führer had to be single and free of the influence of a matriarchal woman for the nation to love him. She felt he wanted to deepen her femininity by making her jealous of the succession of females who unsuccessfully tried to gain his favour. In fact he distrusted women. He watched them change from ignoring him, when he was nobody, to falling over themselves to share his bed when he reached prominence.

Eva
was an accomplished gymnast and would have become a champion like her sister if her life had taken a different path. She encouraged Hitler's interest in sports. He loved to watch her do her gymnast routines but was fearful of her safety on the parallel bars so she gave up competing for him. Before they took their seats she passed a note to tell him she had a wonderful celebration surprise to reveal after dinner.

The
weather was perfect and excitement was electric as Germany and Italy led the race neck and neck. Hitler was beside himself with joy along with more than twenty thousand spectators on the banks of the Langer See for the entire six and a half minute race screaming
Deutschland!
Deutschland!
Deutschland!

Then
in the final ten metres the eight-man team from Washington University nudged in front by one metre to defeat the Italians and Germans and take the gold medal for the USA. Not more than a second or two separated the three.

Adolf
Hitler was furiously disappointed and along with most of the spectators gave the Nazi salute during the USA's national anthem.

Hitler
ordered his advisors to his office. Repeatedly he pounded his desk in anger, as he paced back and forth, demanding explanations. His face was red with rage, veins in his neck throbbed and his shouting was fiercely intimidating.

The
advisors were too frightened to tell Hitler the truth. On the day the Americans were better athletes. So they created a suspicion and hoped to divert Hitler's anger away from their faces. They told Hitler they suspected that the Americans had taken drinks fortified to give them the additional energy needed to win the race.

They
reminded Hitler he had watched and congratulated the American Louis Zamperini who lagged behind in the 5000 metre final then clocked 56 seconds in the final lap to finish eighth. They told him that in the 800 metre final the American John Woodruff still won the gold medal after stopping in the middle of the race to extract himself from being boxed-in by other runners. Without any evidence Hitler's advisors convinced him that the exceptional American performances had been achieved with a mysterious energy boost.

Hitler
listened and absorbed their explanations as he walked around the room deep in thought. The advisors nodded confidently to each other. They felt they had averted Hitler's wrath. They had no evidence, no proof, so there was no basis for a complaint. They left his office with great feelings of relief.

Later
that evening Hitler and Eva Braun retired to a sitting room after dinner. He drank tea and she drank wine. She was a photographer and had taken many photographs and home movies of Hitler and his inner circle. They loved to watch movies and they admired Clark Gable. With grand ceremony she unveiled her promised surprise; a copy of Clark Gable's recent movie, 'San Francisco'.

They
liked to role-play with her as the leading lady and him as the leading man. She felt certain he would be pleased with this distraction but he was unmoved. The disappointment of the rowing medals was still raw. Instead he wanted to talk about how she and her champion sister prepared for sport, how she managed to maintain energy during the strenuous exertions and how she could find the extra power for a final winning effort.

The
following day Hitler ordered his advisors back to his office. They expected his fury had abated and he'd moved on to something else. They didn't realise as they assembled in his office they had backed themselves into a dark and dangerous corner. They had created a barbed rod for their own backs. Hitler saw the importance of an energy boost for German troops and German workers.

An
immediate boost from elite to supreme. Battle success that would destroy the resolve of any opponent. Factory production records that would demoralise all inferior countries. He ordered his advisors to discover the energy boost that had stolen his rowing team celebrations AND enhance its effect twenty-fold.

 

2

 

Cosham, Hampshire, England

 

The battered prisoner cowering in the corner of police holding cell five sighed deeply as he wiped a stream of blood from his nose onto his sleeve. The one day he didn't have a handkerchief in his pocket. Still in shock, his face and body felt numb from the knuckle punches that pounded his head and body. His tongue probed the gashes inside his cheek where his teeth had ripped into the flesh. Pain and fear produced pitiful tears.

Robert
E McSwann guessed the thugs who'd hit him must be gym freaks because their fists were hard and they never tired. He closed his eyes and palpated his chest to confirm his fears; at least two cracked ribs. His stomach felt as if it was tied in a dozen knots.

The
room stopped swirling. He knew if he tried to stand up he would fall over. His legs felt like old jelly. He huddled in a corner of the police cell. A cell where a small amount of natural light shone through three rows of six glass blocks high up on the back wall. Even if the door was open he couldn't run. His body would refuse to move and if he escaped he knew the torture would shift onto his wife and daughter. He didn't want that.

Robert
wished the drunk in cell two would shut up. He was slurring and mauling the first three lines of 'Danny Boy', which he repeated over and over with a voice that was croaked, failing and annoying. It's odd how an irritating drone makes a headache worse.

At
first Robert thought it was a mistake when the policemen arrested him for not making a loan payment on time. He'd just left work at four thirty in the afternoon and was clearing some late January snow off his car windscreen when a police car pulled up.

The
uniformed officers were understanding, pleasant even and told him not to worry it would all be sorted out back at the station. He hadn't been in a police cell before and he wasn't impressed with its basic facilities, lack of heat and smell of stale body odour.

Then
two sixteen stone muscle men rushed into his cell. Men in black nylon bomber jackets so large it seemed there was not enough space for them to move around the cell. They started with loud aggressive threats and demands for immediate payment. More threats followed then a session of relentless punching.

They
worked for the people who'd given Robert a large cash loan. They stopped and left when they were sure they wouldn't get any money from him. In fact Robert had used the last of the loan capital to pay the weekly interest and now it was all gone.

Robert
worried about what this would mean for his wife and daughter. He knew he had to keep them out of this trouble. This was his problem and he had to make sure they were left alone. He resolved to do whatever the moneylender demanded.

He'd
borrowed the money to pay a specialist Harley Street consultant who promised he could cure Robert's daughter of her curse. With hindsight it was stupid taking money from a moneylender but Robert believed the consultant when he said his daughter could be cured if the treatment started before she got much older.

From
his own horrible childhood, he knew how bad it would be when she started school and he wanted desperately to spare her that grief. School kids can be very cruel at times. Robert McSwann was driven by intense guilt because he knew he'd passed the dreadful curse onto his daughter.

He
thought about his happy, friendly and beautiful daughter. She was a clever girl with a great future in front of her. More than anything else in the world he wanted to find a real cure for her. Anything to spare her the pain and heartache the curse inflicted on him when he was a boy.

When
Robert signed the loan document the woman processing the paperwork said the interest would be one thousand pounds and he assumed she meant in total or per year. No-one charges that amount of interest per week, no-one who is legit anyway. As he stood waiting in a queue at their plush loan office to collect the cash; he assumed they were legit. They had been recommended by a close friend. He went there because his own bank wouldn't lend him sixteen grand for private medical care. He was mortgaged up to the hilt and already paying off a car loan.

The
cell light switched on and the door opened. A tall short-sleeved, bald-headed, uniformed policeman entered the cell, keys jangling from his chain, while a well dressed detective waited at the door. The uniformed officer looked around the cell.
Okay
some
blood
in
the
corner there
,
few
specks
on
the
wall
,
clean
that
up
later
,
nothing
on
the
mattress
,
good
he thought as he nodded to the detective then left.

"Shut
the bloody entertainment off," the detective said as he flipped his thumb in the direction of cell two.

The
detective sat on the bed and faced Robert. The detective was also heavy build, bald and intimidating like the men who beat him up. He looked unconcerned at the bleeding and shivering wreck cowering in front of him.

Robert
McSwann opened his eyes to look at the detective's socks, they were black silk. His shoes were so well polished they could have been just taken off a shelf. His dark grey suit was not the usual mass produced variety but very fine quality, a rich thread from a designer's house. Even his tailored shirt and tie were of the finest quality. No need to wonder if the gold cufflinks were real gold.

"
My boys tell me you won't pay my family back what you owe. Is that correct?"

Robert
wiped more blood from his face onto his sleeve and nodded.

"IS
THAT CORRECT?"

"Yes,"
Robert said as he opened his blood-shot eyes on the detective's face.

"Sixteen
grand plus interest is a lot of my money and a serious offence to my family. The sentence for that is sixteen years. Do you understand what I'm saying?"

"Yes."

The men who beat him up told him that if he didn't pay he would work off the debt. Work for nothing in a factory to pay the people who loaned him the money. He would become their slave.

"Or
if you want to keep your feet on the streets you can trade-in your wife."

"I'll
do the time," Robert said as he sniffed the stream of fluid back up his nose.

"You've
actually got a decent job. With you earning good money and her working for us, you could pay off your dept in maybe, ten years. I'm told your wife does a decent massage. She can make good money."

"No.
I'll do the time."

"Sure?"

"Yes. I'll do the time."

"Okay
work starts now. Get this mess cleaned up," the detective said as he pointed to the blood dripping onto the floor.

"Please
can I see my wife and daughter before I start my sentence?"

"Just
remember this fact McSwann. You are property bought and paid for. Just like the bed fixed to this wall. Locked-up until you've paid your dues. But I'm not a heartless bastard. You won't see them for a long time. Say nothing to anyone or your next beating will be your last and your wife will do your time."

"I
understand."

"Be
here tomorrow at seven a.m. sharp."

The
detective handed Robert a small piece of paper with an address and the name of someone to ask for. Robert caught a whiff of the detective's aftershave. No mistaking Brut aftershave.

"I'll
be there."

"You'd
bloody well better. Because if you damn well run. My boys will hunt you down and beat you senseless. The price for bringing you back will be life for you, your wife and your daughter. Understood?"

"I'll
be there."

"In
fact the more I think on. Why don't you just leg it up north? That wife of yours would be good for business. Seriously I'll give you a couple of weeks before I let the ferrets loose. You might find a rabbit hole deep enough to hide."

"I'll
be there at seven."

"I
think you will. More's the pity. He can go," the detective shouted along the corridor to the uniformed officer.

The
detective strolled outside and over to the car park. He got into an antique silver coloured Range Rover Sport with darkened windows. Inside his sister Lisa waited with the men who beat Robert McSwann. He saw she was annoyed.

"Where
's my property?" Lisa McVickin asked.

"
He'll turn up at the factory tomorrow morning," Jim McVickin said.

"
Are you stupid or just being an arse? Go and get him," Lisa demanded.

"He's drip
ping blood everywhere."

"Pillock! Get him here now," Lisa s
houted at her brother.

"
I'm giving him a chance to run. If he runs then we get his wife. She's worth much more," Jim explained.

"Since when did you start deciding what happens to my property?"

"Okay," Jim said with frustration and turned to leave the car.

"
It's done now, let it play. I'll wait and see what I get," Lisa said.

BOOK: Everything to Lose
7.77Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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