Mexican citizens, baffled by the sudden appearance of futuristic Nazis in their capitol city, watched as Haushofer completed his German language speech and wheeled back into the shadows of the freshly erected speaking platform. The wizened Nazi's mechanical wheelchair and life support apparatus thumped and clicked as he made his way down the long hallways of the presidential palace. An honor guard followed behind him, goose stepping ridiculously in their mechanized panzer suits.
He wanted to inspect his prize one last time before returning to the work at hand. He waved away aides and commanders with spastic gestures and continued on to the grand dining hall. The guards posted at the embossed teak doors clicked their heels and stepped aside to allow him entrance. The doors swung open with a dramatic groan and Haushofer hissed into the room, his delight translated as a rattling gasp from his respirator.
Gustaf, the idiot-faced and nearly mute handyman Haushofer had used to infiltrate the Sisterhood of Enoch, stood hunched over the chair at the head of the table. The hulking simpleton's back was a seeping mass of bandages and compresses where the surgeons had grafted new skin to cover the third degree burns. He was nearly hairless, and his face was greasy with antibiotic ointments to cover the first and second degree burns scarring his visage. An auto-injector belt around his chest popped softly as it drained another ampoule of morphine into his system.
"So! Beautiful! Gustaf!" Haushofer's speech was its usual staggering mess of fragmentary exclamations, but he at least meant what he said.
Beyond the bandages and drooping scorched flesh, Haushofer saw his most loyal and effective operative of all. Gustaf was an idiot with the resourcefulness to dupe geniuses and survive an atomic blast.
The real prize, the real victory in the midst of many big wins, was seated directly in front of Gustaf, sullenly moving peas around a fine China plate with a fork. Tara Kirkpatrick, lover and confidant of Raylene, had been brought to him on a silver platter by the quick-thinking Gustaf.
"My dear!" Haushofer shouted, wheeling quickly up to Tara until his chair slammed into the leg of the table. "Such a. Sad look! Is definite! Ly! Unbecoming such a. Such a beautiful girl!"
Haushofer reached a palsied hand out to stroke Tara's cheek. She recoiled at his touch and attempted to swat away the hand, but it was as if she was hitting a statue.
"Now! Now!" Haushofer scolded. "No need to. Be so testy! Your uncle. Karl will! Take good care! Of you until-"
"Step the fuck off you perverted mummy." Tara fired back, brandishing her serrated steak knife threateningly. "You lay one more finger on me and you are going to be spitting false teeth."
Gustaf reached down and gripped the blade of the knife, blood coursing out of his palm as he tore it from her hand.
"I will. Lay much more! Than a finger! On-"
"Oh no you don't, Methuselah." Tara stood up, scattering her napkin and showing off the revealing silk chemise she had been forced to wear. "Don't even start thinking about words like 'grapes' and 'traipse' because that's too close to what you have in mind. If Raylene finds out you tried getting frisky she is going to have what organs you have left cut out with hammers."
"I wouldn't! Be quite so! Certain." Haushofer snapped his withered fingers and one of his honor guards produced an envelope. He laid it on the table, spilling out the glossy 8x11 photos inside as he did.
Tara picked up one of the photographs and stared at it. It was a zoom through the window of what looked like a library, with Raylene's face buried between the thighs of some crew-cut hussy in the tight armor of a Conservator. Tara dropped the photo on the floor and scrambled through the others on the table. Raylene kissing the same woman, Raylene stroking her cheek, Raylene and the woman taking a bath together.
"These are lies!" Tara screamed at Haushofer, her voice cracking. "You made this up! You doctored these images!"
Two of the guards stepped forward to restrain her.
"Try to…convince yourself! Of that." Haushofer wheeled away, his gleeful cackling sounding more like a slinky being thrown down a flight of stairs.
"Really, Holmes!" I dropped into my seat, shocked. "You are remarkably tall! What are you, six foot six? Six foot eight?"
As the 19th century diver approaches a giant clam, a flash of brilliant golden light flares from within the shell. I emerge in a swirl of bubbles and do the timeless universal underwater hand signals for the following: ZODIAC KILLER, KKK, BLOOD OF YOUTH
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