The arendt files, p.22
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       The Arendt Files, p.22

           Ivan Rosemblatt
 
Mabel leaned over the vanity to examine her eye more closely in the mirror. It was already beginning to swell and she could tell that the bruise would be large. There was a light knocking on the door and Jaspar came in.

  “He’s gone, finally” he saw her reflexion in the mirror “What did that bastard do to you? Damn his eyes.”

  “Goddamn it Jaspar, the eye doesn’t matter. It's the taste in my mouth.” She spit in the trash can beneath her.

  He hurried over to her side, knelt down and gently moved her face over to the side with his finger tips on ther chin “I’m sorry you had to go through that.”

  “How can you stand to spend so much time with that goddamn motherfucker.”

  “You ordered me to.”

  “You seem to enjoy yourself?”

  “Darling, I’m an actor, that’s why I am here.”

  “What did you compare me too? Your favorite hunting dog or a condiment.”

  “You know I don't mean any of that. How can I build trust and gain his friendship if I seem disgusted or disinterested, anything but genuine?”

  “You can’t. But you just seem too fucking good at it. I think he wants to fuck you.” Mabel returned to examining her eye in the mirror.

  “That is not very nice. What you are like is my favorite element, air. I can't live with out you.”

  She smiled little, “That was corny.”

  “It's true.”

  “What is it like? Having most men and women you know meet want to take you to bed.”

  “You exaggerate.”

  “No I don't. Answer the question.”

  “Flattering, confusing, obnoxious. If they only knew what a boring lover I am they would run for the hills.” He beamed his wide smile at her reflection in the mirror.

  “Screaming.” she added.

  “Yes, screaming tearing at their hair. Your the only who can put up with me. The only one who ever stuck around”

  “With looks like yours why would I care how boring you are?”

  He sat down next to each on the divan, took her hand in his and raised it to his cheek.

  “How could I ever marry a woman with such a mean streak?”

  “I would say you were attracted to my superior intellect.” she smiled.

  “That I was.” he leaned over and kissed her lightly on the lips. His mind flashed to Greenwich Village where they met in the early 40's before the occupation. He had left business school to studying acting but failed to mention his choice to his wealthy parents back in Virginia, who thought he was still at Cornell and continued to deposit money in his account. After paying for his classes he squandered the rest buying drinks and meals for his poor artist friends and throwing parties at his flat.

  She was the only black female law student at Cornell. Her father was a lawyer, her mother a schoolteacher. Each came from august black creole families but had long since left the world of polite society and dedicated themselves to social justice. Her father had been a Marxist since his college days and Mabel grew up in an activist home where meetings were held nightly and debates raged on for hours.

  He had no idea people like her even existed, highly educated, cultured and extremely radically. They were introduced by a mutual friend at a party. She had immediately taken the offensive. “So you are the bourgeois hanger on Isaac told me about, the one who tries to buy his friends.”

  He had managed to keep his composure and was surprised that he had been able to muster any kind of response. Still, inside, he had been tremendously put back, at a loss, called out, afraid really. His heart was pounding and his hands sweaty.

  “You're very pretty.” She had said and then walked away. He had followed her around the rest of the night pathetically and without shame. So it had gone, the same basic pattern played out countless times. She bested him and he always followed her. He often wondered if she really loved him, the curse of self doubt shared all those gifted with transcendent beauty and charm . She was stronger than him in every way. Now she reported directly to Arendt and was in command of the most important operation military operation inside US territory in the countries history. He knew that although he was crucial to the operation he was expendable but she was not. He believed in the cause but what he did was for her. Loving her had made his life more simple and terrifying than he could ever have imagined.

  She stood and walked back over to the mirror to stare at her eye again. “You hesitated Jaspar. When he asked for me, you hesitated.”

  “Do you blame me?”

  “Yes. If you weren't crucial for the operation I would have you removed immediately, court martialed. I might have had you killed. We can't waver like that, allow our personal reactions to jeopardize what we are doing.”

  “I can't believe you are actually talking to me like this.”

  “Do you think he is stupid?”

  “No.”

  “Do you think your charm has some sort of blinding effect on him where he loses the ability to be suspicious or think?”

  “I just assume that he operates from self interest and we fulfill his needs, his desire.”

  “He isn't a capitalist. He's a Nazi. His allegiance is to his country. He is always on the lookout for traitors. You know what he did to the Smith plantation.”

  “Yes.”

  “I chose to be in that room. I need to know exactly what is going on, get a read on him.”

  He came up behind her as she removed her pearl earrings “Must you be so harsh.”

  “It’s fucking disgusting watching you talk to him, so arrogant. It seems to come naturally to you.”

  She turned to look at him. “We shouldn’t let this get between us. It's a small victory for them.” They stared at each other silent for a long while and then she broke the spell by leaning in and kissing him gently on the lips. “You are right. Really you are. You know me. I’m just an angry bitch. I hate them so fucking much. It bleeds out into everything.”

  “I love how much you hate them.” They kissed deeply and he thought to himself, “If this isn't the strangest gift? Amongst all the insanity of the secret war they fought, and all the sacrifice involved, it makes my own ridiculous, unimportant life burn so brightly”. He knew he didn’t deserve it and his happiness burdened him with guilt. Who would he have been without this cause? Would he ever have given himself to anything so fully, allowed himself to go so deeply into anything as he was into this kiss, this whole life? He had never been a strong person. Now he thought himself immoral and selfish to benefit from so much chaos and suffering. “Well, if you are ever captured, you will pay your pound of flesh. Maybe you won’t feel so selfish then.”

  The door opened, Doris, the woman Von Schimmel had slapped across the face, looking in tentatively. They separated and waved her in. “Couple of horny motherfuckers” She moved towards them unsteady, propping herself on the side table by the door. “Shit, Doris, what did . . .” Jaspar caught himself, “are you alright?”

  “That is one sick motherfucker.”

  “Did he spill anything?” Mabel's voice was hard and demanding.

  “For god’s sake Mabel, give the woman a moment. Here come in and have a seat.”

  “That’s nice of you but a seat is the last thing I need right now.” She broke into a half smile.

  “I suppose not.” he looked down and away embarrassed by his mistake.

  “Did he spit up any info?” Mabel pressed.

  She shook her head.

  “He wouldn't stop talking about how much he liked the stool you designed, kept talking about furniture. We were able to get his ID and also his medals, do a pretty decent materiological study. Photos from all angles. Isaac wanted to keep the Order of the German Cross Dauschitz.”. That could come in particularly handy.

  “Gold Class?”

  “Silver.”

  “He's such a goddamn administrator. I was hoping for something more impressive.”

  “He does have Gold party Badge.”

  “Really, what number?”

/>   “58,000.”

  “Excellent. That will get us places.”

  Jaspar jumped in “He’ll notice that gone. Might arouse his suspicion.”

  Mabel was shocked, “You kept it?”

  “Isaac only wanted it for a couple of hours more. They’ll send a car out and deliver it to him as soon as they are done. He wants to drill into it to see how it’s constructed and the metal and also see if it’s the same paint they use on it is the same as the second tier metals.”

  “He’s a good man Isaac; and thorough too.”

  “No, that's too long.”Jaspar started to pace, “We must get it to him right away. He's been wearing it for what 18 years. He isn't going to misplace something like that.”

  “You typed up your report?”

  “I put together the notes, so I didn't forget anything but I haven't typed it up.”

  “Type it up first. We need to be sure we don't miss anything that might be important. Then go get some rest.”

  Jaspar nodded at her as she left. They were silent for a moment then he spoke.

  “Should we tell Elijah that the Nazi appreciated his footstools?”

  Chapter 23

 
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