Summary: Two missions turn out to be one and the same when Chief is shot and wounded. Series dialogue is in italics. “Are you kidding, if he ever saw you in this outfit, he’d bust his bullet wound and die laughing.” Casino’s response to Goniff’s comment about Chief missing out on their current caper. It got me thinking what could have happened between The Great Theft and The Deadly Masquerade to land Chief in the hospital and so this is my missing episode. I have just discovered Google translate. Slow I know. So I hope the French makes sense and of course I still know nothing about guns and medicine.
Category: Garrison’s Gorillas
Genre: WWII Drama
Garrison entered the common room and dropped the brief case on the table.
“You’ve got to be kidding Warden,” Casino grumbled. “We just got back from a mission and they’re already sending us on another one. Wasn’t the damn engine enough for them? What do we have to bring back this time? The bloody plane?”
“Yeah Warden, Casino’s right.” Goniff agreed, “That last caper was bleeding ‘ard work.”
“Alright you two knock it off and listen. We have two missions actually.” Garrison began.
“Two!” Goniff yelped. “’Ow are we supposed to pull off two at once?”
“Perhaps Goniff,” Actor interrupted, “If you allow the Lieutenant to continue, you will find out.”
“Thank you Actor, now…” Garrison withdrew some photos from the briefcase and dropped them on the table. “Gaspard Nugent and Thieny Arnaud. Resistance members working with the group in Beauvais.” Garrison pulled out a map of France, “Which is here,” he said pointing to an area on the map. “One of those two men,” Garrison nodded to the two photos, “is believed to be collaborating with the Germans. It is our job to discover which one.”
“’Ow are we going to do that?” Goniff asked.
“All in good time Goniff,” Garrison replied placing a third photo on the table. “This is Pierre Barnes and he is the second part of the mission.”
“Blimey ‘E’s just a kid. What do we want ‘im for?”
“He is thirteen and the resistance has asked us to bring him back here to London. His parents were killed several months ago and he has no other family in the area. His Grandfather lives just outside London.”
“’Ow come ‘is Grandpa lives ‘ere in London.”
Garrison sighed. “He is English. His wife, Pierre’s Grandmother, who is also deceased,” Garrison added to avoid another question, “was French and their daughter married a Frenchman, living in Beauvais.”
“Poor kid,” Goniff muttered.
“We a babysitting service now Warden?” Casino asked. “First it was that bloody engine and now a kid. And just how do they expect us to travel across France with him in toe?”
“Well, look at it this way Casino,” Garrison answered, “At least he doesn’t weigh anywhere near as much as that engine and he doesn’t need to be carried. The resistance has already worked out the transportation for us.”
“What about those two men Warden?” Actor enquired. “If one of them is indeed a collaborator won’t they have informed the Germans of our arrival?”
“Hey that’s right.” Casino turned to look at Garrison.
Garrison shook his head. “The only one who knows we are coming is Mikel Faurot. He is the leader of the group and it was he who contacted London.”
“Why isn’t he a suspect?” Chief asked, finally entering the conversation.
“His group as been active since June 1940 when the Germans first pushed through the area to take Paris. Up until these two men joined the group four months ago they never had any problems. Since then, things have started going wrong. The Germans always seem to be one step ahead.”
“What is the plan Warden?” Actor asked.
“It’s simple enough. We supply each man with a certain piece of false information. When the Germans act on that piece of information we will have our man. After he is captured, we leave with Pierre. Anymore questions?” Garrison waited. “Alright then we leave in two hours, get packed.”
“’Ow are we getting there?” Goniff asked.
“We’ll fly in.” Garrison replied.
“Don’t suppose the plane is going to land is it?” Goniff asked hopefully, “I didn’t think so,” he muttered at seeing Garrison’s raised eyebrow.
“Mikel.” Garrison offered his hand in greeting.
“Lieutenant Garrison.” Mikel shook the proffered hand.
“Is everything set?” Garrison asked as he and his team followed the resistance leader to the waiting truck.
“As far as Pierre is concerned, oui Lieutenant but I am afraid we have a problem where Gaspard and Thieny are concerned.” Mikel apologized.
“Let me guess,” Casino blurted, “They know we’re coming.”
“No monsieur,” Mikel shook his head. “There was some trouble yesterday. A German patrol stopped them and five other men coming back from a job. Gaspard and two others are dead, Thieny and the others managed to take out the patrol but Thieny was injured.”
Casino snorted. “He probably set the whole thing up, got one of his friends to give him a little wound to make it look good.”
“I do not think that a bullet to the back was part of the plan monsieur.” Mikel retorted.
“Is he alright.” Garrison asked.
Mikel sighed. “The doctor thinks he will live…but…he may never walk again.”
“Blimey. I don’t think anybody would be stupid enough to set something like that up.”
“Maybe he didn’t,” Chief said, “maybe it was Gaspard and it went wrong.”
Garrison shook his head. “No I don’t think so Chief and for that exact reason. Too much risk of something going wrong. The Germans aren’t known to be loyal to collaborators but neither will they kill one who is supplying useful information.”
“So where does that leave us?” Casino asked.
“Could it just have been a lucky chance on the Germans part Mikel?” Garrison wondered.
“I do not think so Lieutenant. The road they were traveling is seldom used. It is mostly impassable. The Germans were waiting for them.”
“Which means that if it was not Gaspard or Thieny then you still have a traitor in your camp. Someone you have not suspected.” Actor pointed out.
Mikel nodded his headed. “Oui, but I do not know who monsieur. My group has been together for nearly two and half years and we have never had trouble before.”
“Alright, we can’t do anything about it here. Let’s get to the safe house and we’ll discuss it there.” Garrison ordered. He waited until the cons had climbed into the back of the truck, settling amongst the bags of feed supplies before he climbed into the passenger seat beside Mikel.
“I am sorry that we have not better accommodation for you but you will be safe here.” Mikel apologized as he and the cons looked around the dilapidated building. No glass remained in the windows, not that they were really sure if it ever had glass to begin with. The roof was missing in places and a number of exposed beams showed the ravishes of time.
“What was this place anyway?” Goniff asked.
“It was the Maladrerie.” Mikel replied.
“The what?” Goniff said.
“La léproserie, the hospital for the lepers. Saint Lazarus and the monks tended the lepers and the sick here.”
“Bleeding ‘ell,” Goniff exclaimed. “We can’t stay ‘ere.”
“You’re damn right there Limey. I ain’t staying here either Warden.” Casino stated.
Mikel looked from one man to the other before speaking to Garrison. “But you are safe here,” he said perplexed. “The Germans will not come here. They think it is cursed.”
“Too bloody right it is.” Goniff agreed.
“The accommodation is fine, thank you Mikel.” Garrison stated, glaring at Goniff and Casino.
Mikel nodded, accepting Garrison’s approval. “Please do not light any fires. Whilst the Germans might be afraid of this place, they are not afraid enough to not investigate such occurrences. I must go, unload the truck and continue with my deliveries. I will be back tonight with Pierre and food and then we will discuss the problem of the traitor.”
Goniff stood in the middle of the room, his arms wrapped tightly across his chest. “This place gives me the creeps. Why can’t we find some other place to stay Warden? I don’t want to catch leprosy.”
“Don’t be ridiculous Goniff,” Actor snapped before Garrison could reply. “Look at this place. It has not been used for its original purpose in decades.” Actor turned slowly, gazing at the ornate window frames. “Magnificent, isn’t it. Do you realize this place was built in the twelfth century? It is truly medieval in design.”
“You mean, like in the time of the knights and crusades and King Arthur and Camelot?” Goniff asked with interest. “Blimey, it is old. So it’s safe, we’re not going to catch any diseases while we’re ‘ere?”
“I can assure you Goniff; that will not happen.” Actor confirmed.
“You think he’s on the level Warden?” Casino asked after they heard Mikel drive away in the truck.
“Well if he’s not we will soon find out. Alright Chief, scout around, see if you can find any other suitable hiding places, just in case. I want to know what other cover we can use.” Garrison ordered. “And the rest of you, get some sleep.”
Garrison waited for Chief’s return while the rest of the team settled down to sleep. “Well?”
Chief nodded. “There are plenty of old buildings around here. None of them are in any better condition than this one though and there’s also plenty of trees and garden area behind here. Looks like a church of some sort next door and a barn further over as well.”
“Alright Chief, pick out the next best hiding place for us and then find somewhere outside to stay hidden and keep watch. I’ll relieve you in two hours.”
Chief nodded. “Not a problem Warden.”
“Come Pierre,” Mikel encouraged. “These men will not hurt you. They are here to take you back to England to live with your Grandfather.”
Pierre stared distrustfully at Garrison and his men as they ate the food Mikel had brought them. “But I do not wish to go with them Mikel,” he stated in broken English. “I wish to stay here, fight the Bosch.”
Mikel shook his head. “It is too dangerous Pierre and your Grandfather wishes you to live with him.”
“I will not go.” Pierre stated emphatically.
“You will do as you are told. These men are risking their lives to return you to London.”
Pierre shrugged. “That is their problem, not mine. I did not ask them to come here.”
Garrison reached out and placed a hand on Mikel’s arm. “We have other matters to discuss besides Pierre,” he said, wanting to avoid any further argument for the time being. “We can talk about Pierre later.”
“Oui Lieutenant, you are right.” Mikel sighed.
“How is Thieny?” Garrison asked.
“Still no change.” Mikel replied.
Garrison nodded. “Have you thought of anyone else who could be passing on information to the Germans?”
“No Lieutenant, I trust them all with my life. We have been together too long, seen too much of what the Germans do to our country and its inhabitants to want to join with them to betray our own.”
“Maybe a relative, a friend,” Garrison knew he was grasping at straws but there was obviously someone passing on information.
Mikel shook his head. “I am sorry.”
Garrison sighed. “Alright. Can you arrange a meeting with your group? Actor and I will pass on some false information to the group as a whole. Then we watch, see if anyone takes the bait.”
“Oui; that can be done. In fact we are meeting tonight; you can come with me now if you like.”
“Good. Actor do you have the papers?” Garrison asked his number two.
“Right here Craig.” Actor patted his coat pocket.
“Pierre, you will stay here until I return. Is that clear?” Mikel asked, eyeing the boy warily.
Pierre ignored Mikel, instead he moved to the far wall of the building and sat down on the ground; legs crossed and back resting against the wall.
“Don’t worry mate, we’ll look after ‘im. Won’t we Casino?” Goniff asked turning to look at the safecracker expectantly.
“You look after him you dumb Limey.” Casino snapped. “Ungrateful…” he muttered.
“Alright. Can it you two.” Garrison ordered. “Chief you take the watch. We’ll be back later.”
Chief nodded and slipped silently out the door. He already had his spot picked out; an old oak tree that stood in what he guessed was once a courtyard. Its branches hung low to the ground and were thick enough to support his weight. And the dense foliage meant he would be well hidden from even the most thorough search. Chief smiled from his place amongst the branches as he watched Garrison, Actor and Mikel close the door behind them, stop and search unsuccessfully for his hiding place.
“He’ll be around, probably closer than we think,” Garrison remarked, passing directly under Chief. “Chief won’t be found unless he wants to be.”
“He is the dangerous one.” Mikel stated.
“Don’t let Goniff and Casino’s antics fool you Mikel,” Actor warned. ‘They are just as deadly as Chief.”
“I must apologize for Pierre’s behaviour.”
“No need,” Garrison replied. “He’s scared. When did he see his Grandfather last?”
“Before the war. Both his Grandparents came for a visit, but he was young then only six or seven years old.”
“I wouldn’t worry too much Mikel. He is bound to be resentful; this is the only home he knows. The thought of moving to another country, away from everything he knows and is familiar with to live with a man he barely remembers must be daunting to him.” Actor said as they followed the resistance leader through the back streets of Beauvais.
“I hope you are right, my friend.” Mikel agreed. “But I fear you will have a long trip home with him. He is a very strong willed boy.”
“Then he’ll fit right in.” Garrison observed
“’Ay Pierre,” Goniff called from where he sat facing the boy. “You ever been to London before?”
Pierre refused to respond except to glower darkly at the Englishman.
“Talkative brat, isn’t he?” Casino snorted.
“Aw leave ‘im be Casino. ‘Ee’s probably just scared is all.”
“You stupid Américains know nothing. I am not scared.” Pierre shouted.
“Watch who you’re calling stupid kid.” Casino growled.
“And I’m English, come from London.” Goniff added.
Pierre shrugged, “Américain, Anglais, you are all the same. I want no part of any of you.”
“What about your Grandfather?” Goniff asked. “Don’t you want to see him?”
“Pfftt. I do not know him. Why would I want to see him?”
“Give it up Goniff. The kid’s not worth the effort.” Casino moved over beside the door and settled down to wait for his turn to stand watch.
Goniff stared at Pierre but the boy ignored him, instead turning his head away and closing his eyes. Sighing, Goniff settled back against the stone wall and closed his eyes too. He had learnt early on that it always paid to catch forty winks whenever possible because you never knew when you might get the chance again.
Pierre carefully opened his eyes again when he heard the soft snores coming from across the room. He stared darkly at the Englishman before turning his attention to the one sitting beside the door. His hand slipped into the pocket of his jacket and he smiled when he felt the comforting weight it held. He had to get out of the building. He hated them all. They were all fools and their foolishness would be their downfall.
Casino stretched stiffened muscles and pushed himself to his feet, taking a moment to glance in the direction of Goniff and Pierre. Satisfied that both were still sleeping he pushed the door open and slipped through. With Garrison and Actor still not back from the meeting it would fall on him to relieve the Indian and take over the watch, but first he had to take care of some urgent business.
Pierre waited until the door had closed behind Casino before he carefully climbed to his feet. He glanced at the other man to assure himself that his movements had gone undetected and then crept to the door. He listened for a moment before opening the door and slipping out into the darkness.
Chief watched as Casino slipped out the door and around the back of the building. No doubt it was time for the safecracker to take over the watch. He dropped silently from the tree, deciding to complete one final check of the area before he handed over the watch to the safe cracker. Not that he didn’t trust Casino to watch their backs, but he had to satisfy himself that all was well. Just as he prepared to head for the deep shadows that lined the front of the building they were using to hide in, the door opened and the small figure of Pierre slipped through the opening. Chief stepped back into the shadows of the oak and watched as the boy looked furtively around him before moving towards his position. There was still no sign of Casino returning and Goniff hadn’t made an appearance at the door yet either.
Chief waited until Pierre had passed his position before he stepped out behind the boy. “Thought you were told to wait until Mikel came back.” He stated softly.
Pierre stifled a gasp of shock as the soft words floated out of the darkness behind him. He stopped moving but didn’t turn around. “I’m tired of waiting.” He replied nonchalantly.
“Tired or not, you’re going back inside and waiting for Mikel to return.” Chief ordered.
Pierre half turned back towards Chief, his right hand hidden by his body and the dark shadows cast by the massive oak that had served Chief so well as a sentry post. “No Americain, I am not.” He sneered, his right hand slipping unseen into his coat pocket. “And you can not make me.” The hand slipped out of the pocket.
“Don’t bet on it kid,” Chief warned, his senses on high alert as he took a step towards the boy. Movement further along the dark street momentarily caught his attention and he let his gaze flick to the moving shadows. Too late, he saw Pierre’s hand come up, heard a dull pop and felt a deep burning sensation as something heavy slammed into his right side. He stumbled back a step, left hand automatically coming up to grasp his injured side.
Taking advantage of Chief’s stumble, Pierre roughly pushed past the Indian, sending him to the ground as he took off running in the opposite direction to where he had originally been headed.
Casino came around the end of the building in time to catch a glimpse of a dark body running away. What he didn’t miss however, was Chief struggling to rise from the ground. “Geronimo,” he called, sprinting the fifty yards to the struggling Indian.
“Get…the kid,” Chief gasped as he collapsed into Casino’s arms. “He’s…got…a gun.”
Intent on supporting Chief, Casino didn’t hear the approaching footsteps until Garrison dropped beside them. “Casino, Chief?” Garrison asked worriedly.
“I think the bloody kid shot Geronimo,” Casino snapped as he felt Chief pass out in his arms. “He went that way.” He nodded his head to the far end of the building.
“Actor, do what you can for Chief.” Garrison ordered. “Come on Mikel, we have to find him.”
Actor dropped down beside the two men as Garrison and Mikel took off after Pierre. “Are you sure he was shot Casino? We didn’t hear a shot. No matter, I can’t see anything out here. We have to move him into the building.”
“That’s what he said, the kid had a gun. Come to think of it, I did hear a funny sound, kinda like one them toy pop guns just as I came around the end of the building.” Casino said as he and Actor lifted Chief from the ground and carried him towards the maladrerie.
“And where is Goniff?” Actor asked, registering the picket pocket’s absence.
Casino shook his head worriedly. “If that little brat has hurt him, I’ll wring his bloody neck.” Casino supported both of Chief’s legs in his right hand, pushing the door open with his left. “Goniff,” he called loudly as he and Actor carefully lowered a groaning Chief to the wooden floor. “Where the hell are you Goniff?”
“Right ‘ere mate, what’s all the…blimey…what ‘appened to Chiefy?” Goniff asked coming fully awake as Chief groaned again.
“Casino, I need some light.” Actor ordered, ignoring Goniff’s question. “Goniff grab those blankets. Hold one up behind us when Casino turns on the torch.”
“’Ay, Pierre’s gone.” Goniff stated, coming back with the blankets.
“No kidding,” Casino muttered. “How do you think Geronimo here got shot? And where the hell were you when the kid was escaping?”
“I was doing what the Warden ordered; sleeping. Where were you?” Goniff retorted holding up the blanket as requested. “Ow is ‘E Actor?”
“I don’t know yet Goniff,” Actor replied, pulling open Chief’s coat and carefully cutting away the blood saturated shirt. “Bring the light closer Casino.” Actor pulled out some gauze pads from the first aid kit and carefully wiped the blood from Chief side. Fresh blood welled from a small hole just above his waistband. “It’s definitely a bullet wound,” he stated, easing his hand under Chief’s back. “No exit wound,” Actor mumbled.
Goniff leant forward over Actor’s shoulder to see how bad Chief was hurt. “‘E’s bleeding like a stuck pig.”
“Can you take it out?” Casino asked, watching as more blood seeped slowly from the wound.
“I’ll have to,” Actor replied. “We can’t move him like this.” He cleaned the wound again, eliciting a pained gasp from Chief.
“Ac…tor.” Chief tried to pull away from the conman but found himself held in place by Casino’s strong hand on his shoulder.
“Easy Chief,” Actor cautioned, “You’ve been shot. Do you remember what happened?”
“The…kid. Said…he…he was…leav…ing. I…didn’t see…the gun.”
“It’s alright Chief,” Actor squeezed the Indian’s arm gently, “but I have to take out the bullet. Do you understand?”
Chief swallowed. “Yeah. Warden?”
“He and Mikel took off after the brat.” Casino growled.
Actor carefully pulled Chief’s right arm out of the sleeve of his coat and administered a dose of morphine. “We’ll give that a few minutes to work and then I’ll take out the bullet.”
Chief nodded, closing his eyes against the throbbing pain in his side.
“Chief,” Actor called softly some ten minutes later, nodding in satisfaction when he didn’t receive a reply. “Casino do you think you can hold the torch and Chief down with one hand while I take out the bullet?”
“I can ‘old the torch, Actor.” Goniff said, still holding up the blanket behind the conman.
“We can try it; see how much light I have.” Actor agreed.
Casino passed the torch to Goniff, who took it in his left hand along with a corner of the blanket. He stepped further to the left and angled the beam down towards Chief. “”Ow’s that Actor?”
“Good enough. Casino, are you ready?” Actor asked, pouring some alcohol from his flask over one of Chief’s blades.
“As ready as I’ll ever be,” Casino muttered, taking hold of Chief’s shoulders.
Working quickly, Actor enlarged the entry wound until he could insert a finger and the blade into it. Using the tip of the blade he felt around until it came into contact with the bullet. Slipping the blade past and under the bullet he carefully began to lift it out. “Hold him still Casino.” Actor ordered as Chief began writhing under his hands. “I’ve nearly got it.”
“Easy Chief,” Casino said, close to the Indian’s ear. “Old beautiful is nearly finished.”
Chief fought to still his movements, gasping loudly when he felt the blade and Actor’s finger slip out of the wound.
“Sorry Chief,” Actor muttered before he poured some of the alcohol into the wound and then packed it tightly with gauze. “Lift him up Casino, while I wrap a bandage around it.”
“’E going to be alright Actor?” Goniff asked, watching the conman finish up treating Chief.
“I hope so Goniff.” Actor said tiredly. “I’ve done all I can for him here. We need to get him back to England as soon as possible though. Start packing up the gear, no doubt the Warden will want to leave as soon as he returns.”
“Yeah, we can’t stay here any longer, that’s for sure.” Casino muttered, climbing stiffly to his feet. “I’ll keep watch until the Warden gets back. Good thing the kid was only using a toy gun or we’d have the damn Jerries breathing down our necks.”
“I doubt very much that Chief will appreciate you referring to the gun as a toy Casino. It has done more than enough damage to Chief as it is.” Actor corrected.
“Yeah well it could have done a hell of a lot more to him and us if it was any bigger.” Casino closed the door behind him, not bothering to wait for a response.
Actor sighed heavily, leaning against the cold stone wall, watching the steady rise and fall of Chief’s chest. Casino was right, he knew. Had the bullet being of a heavier caliber it would have done some serious damage to the Indian, especially at such close range. Not that any sort of bullet wound wasn’t serious but it could have been a lot worse and may still be if they didn’t get Chief back to England as soon as possible.
“Do you think the Warden will still agree to take Pierre back with us after what ‘E did?” Goniff asked dropping their bags down beside Actor.
“That is the mission Goniff,” Actor replied “And the Warden always finds some way of completing the mission.”
“Where do you suppose ‘E got the gun from Actor?”
“Goniff we are in an occupied country fighting a war. He could have picked it up anywhere.” Actor reached out, placing a reassuring hand on Chief’s arm when the latter moaned softly.
Goniff sat down on the other side of Chief and pulled the blanket further up his exposed chest. “I wish the Warden would ‘urry up and get back.”
“Warden,” Casino called moving out from the shadows of the oak tree and stopping the man before he opened the door. “Did you find the brat? And where’s Mikel?”
Garrison paused on the threshold and nodded. All the way back he had debated with himself as to what to say to his men about what he and Mikel had seen. “Mikel has gone to get a couple of men to help us move Chief. How is he?” Garrison asked, sidestepping part of the question, at least for a minute.
“Actor managed to get the bullet out but he’s lost a fair amount of blood.” Casino replied warily. “The brat with Mikel? When I get my hands on him…”
“Come inside but keep watch from the door. We will need to move quickly once Mikel gets here.” Garrison ordered before pushing open the door. “Actor, Goniff,” he acknowledged curtly. “Can Chief travel?”
“Did you find ‘im Warden?” Goniff asked expectantly. “Where is ‘E?”
“That’s what I’d like to know too.” Casino stated from the door.
“Actor?” Garrison pressed his number two urgently.
“He doesn’t have a choice, does he?” Actor asked succinctly.
Garrison shook his head. “No.”
“Enough pussy footing around Warden. Where the hell is the kid?” Casino demanded.
Garrison sighed. “It seems we only had one mission after all.”
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” Casino asked in frustration.
“You found the collaborator?” Actor raised an eyebrow as Garrison sighed again. “I see.” Actor acknowledged quietly. “What are you going to do about it?”
“I don’t know yet. First we have to get Chief somewhere safe and then radio London.”
“Did he see you?” Actor asked.
“No, I don’t think so. We kept pretty close to the shadows and he didn’t look around.” Garrison said.
“Dammit,” Casino growled. “Stop talking in riddles and tell us what’s going on.”
“It would appear Casino, that Pierre and the collaborator are one and the same.” Actor replied.
“Bloody ‘ell,” Goniff muttered. “But that means ‘E knows where we are. ‘Adn’t we better be moving Warden? Before the bleeding Jerries get ‘ere.”
“I knew that kid was no good,” Casino cursed. “Company coming,” he warned, picking out three moving shadows coming up the street.
“Germans?” Garrison asked quickly.
“Nah, Mikel and two others.” Casino stepped back from the door to allow the other men to enter before returning to his place to keep watch.
“We must hurry Lieutenant. There is a German patrol on its way. They will be here in a couple of minutes.” Mikel spoke as his two men placed the stretcher they were carrying on the floor beside Chief.
“Alright, let’s get him on the stretcher and get out of here.” Garrison ordered, stepping back to allow Actor, Goniff and the two resistance fighters to carefully lift Chief onto the stretcher. Goniff quickly covered him with a blanket before picking up their bags. “Casino?” Garrison asked.
“All clear.” Casino confirmed, opening the door and stepping back to allow Garrison and Mikel to exit, followed by the two resistance fighters carrying Chief and then Actor and Goniff. Casino closed the door, pausing to confirm they were still undetected before following the men around the side of the building and through the overgrown garden at the back.
They walked for nearly thirty minutes, only stopping to reassure a restless Chief that everything was alright. Mikel lead them to a partially collapsed home in the bombed out section of the town. The front of the house had been completely demolished, burnt rafters, part of a staircase and a stone chimney standing like silent sentinels against the dark sky. They followed Mikel carefully down the side of the house, picking their way through the rubble and to their surprise discovered that the back half was still reasonable intact. “You should be safe here for a few hours at least.” Mikel said pushing open the door, allowing them to enter a small room, still furnished with a bed, table and chair and small armoire. He watched as his men carefully lowered the stretcher onto the bed. “I will leave my two men here to help you while I go and contact London.”
“’Ay, won’t Pierre tell the Jerries where we are?” Goniff asked worriedly. “I mean I guess ‘E knows all the safe houses.”
Mikel sighed. “Oui, he knows all the safe houses monsieur, but this is not one of them. He will not think to look here.”
“What makes you so damn sure?” Casino growled.
Mikel turned and smiled at Casino. “Because this was his parent’s house. They were killed here in the bombing raid. He has not been here since that day. I must go. My men know of other places such as this. They will help you move if necessary.”
“I’ll come with you Mikel,” Garrison said, squatting beside Chief who was moaning softly. “Take it easy Chief. We’ll get you out of here as soon as possible, alright?”
“War…den… the…kid…” Chief gasped, clutching at his injured side.
“It’s alright Chief. We know about Pierre. Just lie back and rest. Actor, Casino and Goniff are with you. I won’t be long.” Garrison moved to stand but stopped when he felt Chief’s weak grip on his arm.
“Be… careful.” Chief struggled to push himself up. “Gotta…watch…” he collapsed back to the bed with a groan, “back.”
“You need to stay still Chief. You’re in no condition to watch anybody’s back at the moment. I’ll be fine. Be back before you know it.” Garrison squeezed the hand on his arm before lifting it and placing it back on the bed. “Actor?” he asked quietly, stepping away from Chief.
“Don’t worry Craig, I’ll watch him.” Actor promised, pulling up the chair beside the bed.
Goniff wandered over to the cupboard and pulled it open, revealing a couple of moth eaten dresses and a shawl. He sighed, closing the door again when his investigation revealed nothing of value. “What sorta room is this anyway?”
“I would guess a maids room at one time, or guestroom perhaps,” Actor replied absently, more intent on feeling Chief’s forehead for any sign of fever. He sighed quietly at the growing warmth he felt under his hand.
“So what do you reckon the Warden is going to do with Pierre?” Goniff asked taking up residence on the opposite corner of the table to the one Casino was sitting on.
“That will depend on London but I presume we will still be taking him back with us.” Actor answered.
“Not if I have anything to say about it we won’t.” Casino snapped. “Can you imagine us dragging him through France, screaming American all the way? How far is it to the coast anyway?”
“Approximately fifty-four miles to the cost and then another thirty or so to the pick up.” Actor replied before turning to one of the Frenchmen. “Monsieur, pouvez-vous trouver un bol d’eau s’il vous plaît.”
“Oui, monsieur.” The Frenchman replied, climbing to his feet and leaving the room.
“What did you just ask ‘im?” Goniff asked.
“For a bowl of water.”
“Because the damn Indian’s got a fever, ain’t that right Actor?” Casino asked. “Another thing to worry about.”
“I’m afraid so Casino,” Actor nodded in agreement.
“Come on Warden, you’re joking right?” Casino asked in disbelief.
Garrison shook his head. “They’re the orders Casino. We take Pierre back to London with us.”
“What the hell for? Why can’t we leave him here for the resistance to take care of? We’ve done it before. Let them look after their own. We’ve got Geronimo to worry about.”
“Come on mate, you know what ‘appens to collaborators. ‘E’s just a kid.” Goniff interrupted.
“My nephew’s a kid and he don’t go around pulling guns on people and shooting them.” Casino glared at Garrison. “I say he gets what he deserves.”
“Are you prepared to stand him against a wall or walk him into the trees and pull the trigger, Casino?” Actor asked from his place beside Chief. He rung out the wet cloth and wiped down Chief’s face and chest with it.
“Well…yeah…if I had too…I guess.” Casino trailed off.
“London won’t condone killing him and we can’t leave him here either, so we have no choice but to take him with us.” Garrison explained.
“What’ll ‘appen to ‘im when we get back to London, Warden?” Goniff asked.
“Better still,” Casino interrupted. “How do we catch him to take him back?”
“Eventually he will go and live with his Grandfather, Goniff. As to how we catch him, as far as we can tell he doesn’t know he has been discovered so we wait until he makes contact with Mikel again.”
“That’s a bit risky don’t you think Warden?” Goniff asked. “I mean what if ‘E takes the Germans with ‘im.”
“We’ll worry about that if and when it happens. In the meantime, get some rest. Mikel’s men are keeping watch. Actor I’ll take over for a while. Chief’s going to need you on the trip back,” Garrison ordered, not giving the Italian an opportunity to object.
Actor nodded in agreement. “I could use some sleep. Wake me if you need me or the fever gets worse.”
Garrison settled in the chair beside Chief’s bed, dipping the warm cloth in the bowl of water, wringing it out and wiping the sweat beading on the warm forehead. He lifted the blanket covering the dark chest and gazed at the bandage wrapped around the slender waist. A few drops of blood could be seen but nothing to be concerned about. Garrison settled the blanket back over Chief and began the process of cooling the fever again. “Hang on Chief,” he mumbled sotto voce.
The door slowly opening caught Garrison’s attention. He dropped the cloth back into the water and reached for his schmeisser, letting it settle back against his leg when he recognized Henri, one of Mikel’s men at the door.
“Monsieur, il est temps de se déplacer, les Allemands commencent à chercher ce domaine. Mikel a de transport qui vous attend à la sortie de la ville.”
“Merci, Henri.” Garrison acknowledged.
Henri nodded and stepped back out the door, closing it behind him.
“Casino, Actor, Goniff,” Garrison called. “Time to get up, we have to move.”
“What’s up Warden?” Goniff asked.
“Germans are starting a search of the area, we have to move now. Mikel has transport waiting at the edge of town for us.”
“Does that mean we’re skipping this joint?” Casino hefted one of the bags onto his shoulders and picked up his gun.
“If Mikel has Pierre, yes.” Garrison replied.
“Thought you might have given up on that idea.” Casino muttered.
“Is Chief right to move Actor?”
“For the moment, the fever is no worse and the bleeding has stopped.”
Garrison opened the door and indicated that Henri and their other guard should come. “Actor you and…” Garrison looked expectantly at the second man.
“Louis, emporter Chief. Henri, you lead…vous conduire. Casino take point with Henri. Goniff and I will follow. Move out”
Casino tapped Henri on the shoulder and pointed to the door, following close behind. Louis and Actor followed, the stretcher firmly held in their grasps. Garrison made a quick search of the building to ensure nothing was left behind before he and Goniff hurried to catch up to the rest of the group carefully picking their way through the rubble left by the bombers. They made it to the end of the street just as the German patrol turned into the street at the far end.
“Blimey, that was close.” Goniff said as they continued to follow Henri to the rendezvous point. “Do you think Pierre tipped them off Warden?”
Garrison shrugged. “Maybe or the Germans made a lucky guess.”
It took longer than expected to reach the outskirts of the town. There were a number of German patrols out searching which lead Garrison to believe that Pierre hadn’t told them about his house. They also had to stop twice when Chief became too agitated, insisting he could walk or should be on point. After the second stop and Chief’s failed attempt to stand up, Actor administered another shot of morphine, fearing that Chief would break open the wound and start bleeding again.
Finally Henri called a halt to their progress and squatted amongst the trees at the side of the road. Garrison moved up to the point beside Casino and Henri.
“What are we going to do about that?” Casino demanded quietly.
A hundred yards ahead of them a roadblock was been hastily set up. Behind it they could see and hear Mikel arguing with a German officer in broken English. Pierre and another lower ranking officer stood to the side, flanked by two more German troopers.
“Henri, savez-vous où le reste de votre groupe?” Garrison asked.
“Oui, ils se cachent dans les arbres, voir.” Henri pointed to the trees on the opposite side of the road. Garrison had to concentrate for a minute, not having Chief’s keen eyesight, before he was able to identify the men amongst the trunks. At least the Germans were too preoccupied with their roadblock to notice the gunmen behind them.
“What’d he say?” Casino growled in frustration.
Garrison sighed. “Try learning French, Casino. He said the rest of his group are hiding in the trees, by the roadblock.”
“We going to take them out, then?” Casino nodded towards the Germans.
“Looks like we’ll have to. I don’t think that German Colonel is going to let Mikel go without some persuasion. Wait here while I tell the others.” Garrison moved further back into the trees and explained what was happening to the others. Goniff you’re with me, Actor, you and Louis get Chief out of here.”
Garrison and Goniff carefully moved up beside Casino again. “We need to get closer…se rapprocher,” he explained to Henri, who nodded in understanding.
The four men crept closer, until they were level with the roadblock and opposite the resistance.
“Casino, you’re with me. Goniff, give us five minutes then open fire. Cinq minutes, puis …” Goniff and Henri both nodded in understanding, watching as the two men continued moving stealthily through the trees until they could no longer see them.
Goniff counted off the time in his head. “Bloody ‘ell I ‘ope they’re ready,” he lamented as he looked at Henri who nodded in baffled agreement. “Now…maintenant.” Goniff and Henri both shouted as they opened fire on the Germans manning the roadblock. The resistance fighters responded immediately and in moments the patrol was cut down.
Garrison and Casino stepped out from their hiding places, shooting the two guards. Mikel dropped to the ground. Pierre pulled away from the German officer holding him and began to run down the road. The German Colonel took aim and fired even as a hail of bullets cut him down. Within a minute the fighting was over. Mikel rose unsteadily to his feet and greeted the two Americans. “Thank you, Lieutenant.”
Casino returned from checking the Germans, confirming they were all dead. “Hey Warden,” he motioned with his head to the still figure lying further down the road.
Garrison sighed. “Go and check it out Casino.”
“You and Casino alright Warden?” Goniff asked, joining the two men beside the truck. “Where’s Pierre?”
At that moment Casino returned and shook his head.
“I will take care of Pierre, Lieutenant. You and your men should leave now. It will take four or five hours to reach the rendezvous. Henri and Louis will accompany you. They know where to go. I hope your man makes it.” Mikel nodded to where Actor and Louis were carefully loading Chief into the back of the truck. Mikel held out his hand to Garrison, placing several vials in the American’s hand. “Thank you Lieutenant, for everything.”
Garrison nodded, pausing to take one last look at Pierre’s still body before he climbed into the truck with his men.
“What do you think London will say when you tell them what ‘appened to Pierre, Warden?
“I doubt there is much they can say Goniff,” Garrison replied tiredly, his eyes catching the restless movements of the Indian. “How’s Chief doing Actor?”
“The same Craig. I’ll be glad when we reach London and can get Chief to the hospital. I’m running out of supplies.”
“Will these help?” Garrison held out the vials with the word ‘Morphine’ stamped on them.
“Where did you get these from?” Actor asked, eagerly accepting the offerings.
“From Mikel.” Garrison winced in sympathy to Chief’s pained groan as the truck rocked through several large potholes.
“How long to the rendezvous Warden,” Casino asked quietly as he watched Actor tend to Chief.
“Four, five hours, if nothing goes wrong.” Garrison closed his eyes and allowed the rumbling of the truck to lull him into a light sleep.
“’Ay Warden,” Goniff called from his place behind the large ornate desk in the common room. “’Ow did Pierre’s Grandfather take the news?”
“How do you think Goniff?” Garrison asked as he set up an easel and placed several large portraits on it.
“Yeah you dumb Limey,” Casino smirked, “I still can’t see the point in why you had to go and talk to him. I mean nothing’s changed in the four days we’ve been back. It’s not like the kid is going to rise from the dead or nothing.”
“You’re wrong Casino,” Goniff said. “Plenty’s changed. Chiefy’s on the mend. Ain’t that right Warden?”
“That’s right Goniff,” Garrison agreed, thinking back to the trip across France and then the Channel with the injured Indian. The road trip, coupled with the crossing in bad weather had seen Chief’s fever rise dangerously high and the wound open once again. They had all been eternally grateful when they had been able to hand over Chief’s care to the medical staff waiting for them at the docks. Not that their worrying had eased any. It was another two nights of snatched naps as they worried, waited and watched the doctors battle the raging fever and blood loss before they knew that Chief would recover. “I guess Casino; he just wanted to hear what happened to his only remaining relative from someone who was there.”
“Well I’m glad it was you and not me.” Casino stated before he popped another grape into his mouth.
“’Ay Warden, did you stop in and see Chiefy on your way back? ‘Ow is ‘E? Did you tell ‘im we’ll be in to see ‘im later today?”
“Yes Goniff,” Garrison smiled. “I saw him. He’s still fairly heavily sedated but he knows you’ll drop in later today.”
Garrison sat down in a vacant chair at the table and lit a cigarette. “Alright now, listen up…”
Goniff tipped back the chair, “Oh blimey warden you must be out of your mind. I couldn’t pull a flipping caper like that. …I mean…” Goniff pulled his feet off the desk and stood up walking to the easel and portrait displayed on it.
“You know something…I mean look…‘E’s the actor,” Goniff said, pointing his finger at the conman, “why doesn’t ‘E do it?”
“I’d be delighted,” Actor replied, waving his pipe in the air, “but unfortunately for him,” Actor pointed his pipe at the portrait, “he looks like you.”
“Oh don’t give me that mate you could make Chief look like ‘im if you wanted to.” Goniff turned to look at the portrait in disgust.
“Chief’s in the hospital and you know it.” Garrison replied blandly. “Besides you look enough like him to be his own brother. At least we hope the Germans think so. His name is Charles Redmond…”
A/N. The Maladrerie actually exists at 203 Rue de Paris, Beauvais. There are a number of photos of the Maladrerie available on both Google and Google maps, click on the maps icon in the top right hand corner and then on photos and pictures of the various buildings can be seen. The barn is believed to have been built around 1220. There is a lot of reconditioned work being done to the site but they haven’t started on the La léproserie yet.