"A Mr. Cain and his associate Mr. Schutzstaffel are here to see you," a young girl said over the crackling intercom, badly butchering Duke's name.
Richard Abel pressed the intercom button. He was busy with paperwork, and didn't want to be disturbed.
"Do they have an appointment?"
"Ask them if they'll consider rescheduling."
There was a brief pause. Then the intercom buzzed back into life.
"Mr. Cain says it is exceptionally urgent, sir. He said that you'll just hate yourself if you don't let him in."
Another voice came over from the background, apparently Cain's. It said, "Emphasize the word 'hate'."
"He says you'll just hate yourself, sir."
That got the mayor's attention. It was very odd. Was it possible? No. But still, the mayor began shaking uncontrollably. Could someone possibly have dredged up his past? Could this Cain...
"No," he breathed quietly, calming himself, "It's just a coincidence."
After regaining his composure, his curiosity got the better of him, and he pressed the button again to say, "Send them in."
The door opened and a huge blond man walked in. And although he towered over the next man who entered, the next man was most definitely the alpha male. He had a lean, wise, ancient look to him. And he had the appearance of a very smug, very smarmy bastard. He was smiling like the cat who ate the canary.
"Mr. Cain, I presume?" the mayor said, shaking his hand, "Always a pleasure to meet a constituent."
"Adrian, please, Mr. Mayor."
"Fine, Adrian. What can I do for you?"
"Actually, it's kind of a question of what I can do for you...or, rather, what I can not do for you."
"What are you talking about?" the mayor asked, growing baffled.
"Oh, nothing, nothing. Perhaps I should just explain myself. Oh, this is Duke, by the way."
"Duke," the mayor said coldly, then turned back to Cain.
"You may have heard of my organization," Cain said coolly, and he began to strut around the office like a cat toying with a mouse, "The Fellowship. We have a rather large number of people in our organization. We're kind of a rainbow group, we embrace people of all colors and creeds."
"Yes, yes, fine, very noble," the mayor said, growing impatient, "Are you offering to support me in the next election or are you asking for patronage or recognition, or what?"
"Well, I just wanted to kind of...blow the whistle. You see, not everyone in Philadelphia is as open minded as we Fellows are. In fact, you could say there are a whole lot of people who are in fact very bigoted. Did you know that about our fair city?"
"Oh, rightist radicals, they're no threat," the mayor said mechanically, but he was beginning to feel his heart sink into his stomach.
"Actually, some of these men are in positions of power. They might well be a threat to peace and security in Philadelphia."
"Cain..." the mayor whispered wit ha mouth as dry as cotton.
"Do you like animals, Mr. Mayor?"
He could no longer speak so he nodded.
"Yes," he managed to cough out.
The mayor's eyes bugged wide open.
"What about eagles? Majestic animals, aren't they?
"Our nation's proud symbol," Abel choked out.
"They're also the symbol of Nazi Germany - did you know that? Rather ironic, isn't it, how two such polar opposite nations could both choose the same symbol. But, then, I suppose there were democrats in Nazi Germany, just as there are Nazis here in America. Don't you agree, Mr. Mayor?"
"What do you want, Cain?" the mayor said, and he felt like vomiting.
"You know, Hitler was an animal lover. He was a vegetarian, you know, and a teetotaler - that means he didn't drink. But he loved animals, especially dogs. Why, just look at his girlfriend."
Cain burst out laughing. The mayor gave a hollow chuckle.
"I can never seem to understand why Hitler, who had his choice of any woman in Europe, would choose Eva. There's nothing about it in his memoirs, really. Or any of the other Nazis."
Cain continued to strut, gloating with his eyes and mannerisms. He had the mayor in the palm of his hand. Now he would slowly close his fist, and crush the man. Then, if the whim struck him, he might loosen his fingers - if the whim struck him.
"I actually read a rather interesting Nazi memoir today. Very short, but very offensive. Do you have that with you, Duke?"
Duke pulled a stapled packet of papers out of his tunic. It was dog-eared and marked in red pen - Cain's handwriting.
"Called 'Hate'. Rather a morbid title, don't you think? And it's signed anonymous...hmm, I wonder why someone would write a paper and not take credit for it."
"What is it, Cain?" the mayor said, his eyes daring like a trapped animal, "Money? I'll get you money."
"Is it legitimate? You don't have a slush fund do you, Mr. Mayor?"
"No. Yes. No, no slush fund. It's my family fortune."
"But you're an orphan according to records I found - you grew up on the street. Even spent a little time in jail as I understand it. Well, I'm willing to let bygones be bygones. That's kind of our founding principle - forgiveness, tolerance, unity."
"You want power, Cain? Is that it?"
"Oh I already have the power over you, Mr. Mayor. The question is whether you will accept it, or rebel against it. You know, I think the police would be interested to know about the actions of rightist radicals in Philadelphia. Perhaps I should give them this memoir 'Hate', and the notes I have about who wrote it..."
"Are you blackmailing me, Cain?"
"I'm just trying to make a deal, Mr. Mayor. What do you say? Do we have a deal?"
"Fine. Just destroy that...thing."
"This is really a ghost from your past, isn't it, mayor? I'll bet you never thought it would come back to haunt you. But here it is. I resurrected it. I have the power over life and death, you could say."
"Yes, yes you do," the mayor said like a beaten dog, "What do you want?"
"I want cigars! I don't smoke very often, but I do like a good Cuban when a deal comes through happily. Do you have a Cuban, Mr. Mayor?"
"Jamaicans," the mayor said coldly, proffering a box.
"Good enough," Cain said, and lit one, "Now lets talk about a few things. First, what would it take to impose a citywide curfew on a given night?"
"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov
Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."
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