The arendt files, p.32
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       The Arendt Files, p.32

           Ivan Rosemblatt
What John found strangest about the situation was to be in a situation that was the state of maximum quiet possible in as the very apex of action was happening.

  John found it curious that he was in such a quiet and peaceful place and while being the hub of so much raw action. Few people ever actually do anything in their lives, have a day that is life or death. We all walk out everyday into a crap-shoot, is this our day? The one where a car hits us or bank safe falls on our head. Is this the day crime and violence strike us or the day where our bodies give out, malfunction, stop. But it is the very same, everydaysness, the lack of intention that makes it normal. Who goes out into the world of danger and taunts it. It is rare, very rare. Even a murdered doesn’t murder every day. Now that he was at the very center of the action of the day, a day that might actually be marked in history, he was both at the very center and the farthest distance of all the participants. He was “away”. It’s not what his father had in mind when he would look up from his paper on a pleasant Sunday morning and say, “Let’s get away.” This was the burden of leadership Arendt kept telling him about. “It’s all foreplay and no fucking. What could be more exhausting.”

  Their arrival had been extremely tense. He had expected something like a heroes welcome but had been sorely disappointed. Part of it had been his fault for not recognizing her as the commanding officer when she entered the room. In all actuality it didn’t even occur to him that is was her, even though she walked in with her rank right there on her shoulder. He thought it was some kind of joke so he had stood there continuing the conversation he had been having with the Goy as they both worked on finishing their second plate of food of the night. He regretted it now on many levels. Really he just felt like a nitwit. Besides his team there were four black soldiers, all dressed as plantation slaves, but in the comfort and safety of those walls acting like the equals they were.

  As soon as she walked in they had stopped talking to each other and to Jimmy and stood at attention. He had looked over and seen her enter and had assumed they were pulling his leg. Why they would be pulling his leg he had no idea. She stood there glaring at him.

  “You are fucking late soldier.” were her first words to him. Now he felt even worse because he was there to take control of the operation. He had no idea how to handle it. He realized by looking at her soldiers that they considered this a very serious moment.

  “I’m sorry. We were held up.”

  “What kind of a fucking excuse is that. We were held up. We run the risk of losing everything, years of preparation and you were held up.”

  “I wasn’t giving an excuse.”

  “You will need to do better than that.”

  John felt himself getting very irritated. He wasn’t used to being dressed down in public. He was suddenly very happy that he had never been a soldier. He put down his plate and wipe his hands of his pants.

  “Shall we discuss this in private.”

  “We can discuss this in the privacy of a cell if you don’t change your attitude and start explaining yourself.”

  He had still been leaning back, half sitting on the secretary, but now he put his plate down and stood on his feet. With that shift he saw plantation soldiers change their posture. It seemed like everything was spiraling out of control when a second ago he had been eating a delicious food now it looked like there might be a fight..

  “You need to salute a superior officer when they enter a room.”

  Well, had had about enough at that point, “Look.”

  “Did you just say look?”

  “Yes, I just said look?”

  “You are misunderstand the situation”.

  “You and I need to discuss this in private.”

  “Soldiers . . .”

  Was this crazy woman going to arrest him? He understood that he had been rude but he couldn’t believe what was happening. Plus he was concerned that in a few seconds the Goy was going to kill all the soldiers in the room and then they would really be in a pickle.

  At that moment Jaspar walked entered in a silk maroon bathrobe, rubbing his eyes. Mabel was hidden from his view behind the door and he turned to see John standing there. His eyes lit up. “Doc? Doc, what the hell are you doing here?”

  “Legs.” John was amazed to see him and happy he had had the presence of mind to use his old nickname.. Jaspar came over and hugged him. “Man o man it’s good to see you old boy. Doc, what in tarnation are you doing here?” Jaspar grabbed Johns shoulder arms outstretched, staring at him in disbelief, laughed, turned to hug him from the side and saw Mabel standing behind him.

  “Oh Mabel, you’re here. Sorry I didn’t see you there. Can you believe this? I haven’t seen Doc since before the war. Doc, this is my wife Mabel, Mabel Doc.”

  John walked up to Mabel with his hand outstretched. “It’s a pleasure and an honor ma’am.”

  She paused only for a moment. “Very nice to meet you as well.”

  “We need to celebrate. This is amazing. I would ask you what you are doing here but under the circumstances it might be a little indelicate. I’ll grab a bottle of the good stuff and we can all sit around and catch up.” Jaspar grabbed John’s shoulder one last time before leaving the room. The spell of tension was gone. The Goy picked up his plate and started eating again. John stood next to Mabel, turned to her and asked, “So how did you and Legs meet?”

  “Would you gentlemen excuse us for a moment.”

  Once they had a few moments to themselves John was relieved that once he showed her his order, a tiny peice of microfilm he had on the inside of the back casing of his watch, she accepted the situation well. She would be leading the attack in the field, he would be commanding officer, coordinating forces from the communications center.

  “You run a very tight ship so, to speak.”

  ”Well, we couldn’t afford a single leak. This is no Utopia we are in right now.”

  “No, absolutely not.”

  Over the next 48 hours John was briefed on all aspects of the preparations. He was deeply impressed by what he saw. The entrance to the mine, abandoned over a century ago was hidden at the rear of a functioning cotton mill built exclusively for that purpose. Over 1,500 people rotated in and out in three day shifts allowing them to hide more than half of their forces and amass the troops needed for the operation.

  For training purposes the staging areas were built to scale, equipment was functional and built in house when possible, made from wood or cardboard if not. He watched watched Mabel run her troops through drills, stopwatch in hand. She had secondary teams disrupt in random ways each time so that they were always prepared to adapt and improvise. He was convinced that they would be able to do their jobs despite never having had the chance to work in real conditions.

  The workshops ran night and day in the timeless interior of the cavern. The armory had adapted the design of their pistols, making them remarkably thin, shaped in such a way they they fit together in an intricate geometric design reminiscent of Escher for ease of transport. Tailors and seamstresses prepared uniforms for all the soldiers, both regular army and Nazi with exacting detail. He was very happy that they would be dressed as regular army according to rank, he felt it was crucial to establish continuity and legitimacy. At the lowest depths were the shooting ranges. Soldiers each spent at least an hour a day there working on speed and accuracy. He wondered if they were wasting munitions but the armory engineer explained that they simply re-smelted the bullets and cast them again.

  He was very disturbed when he saw the sleeping area. The plywood under which they slept in four hour shifts was only six inches high. They couldn’t even turn their heads, they had to keep them to one side. “How can they stand it without suffocating or going crazy?” He asked.

  “Just like anything else, we did it in stages. First they slept normally with the wood as far above them as they need, you see how the bracing has notching in it, they are adjustable. Then we lowered it down over a period of months, built their tolerance. We also worked
on breathing techniques, flexibility.”

  “How long of a drive is it?”

  “Four hours.”

  “Holy shit.”I can’t help but be reminded of the slave ships. Everyone crammed in so tightly, stacked on top of each other.”

  “You aren’t the only one. Well, it’s the ending that gives meaning to the story.”

  Chapter 33

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