FRANK HENDERSON struggles with the onset of dementia as memories of the war, and especially memories of the girl he loved and the German officer who caused her death course through his mind.
As he works to repair the big sailboat his old war buddy, Mario Sisconi left him, Frank believes he sees the German officer in question entering the harbor at Charlotte Amalie.
This story will carry you through the mountains of Yugoslavia, where Frank served with the Mihailovich underground during the war. It will introduce you to Myeshka (Mesha) Yolanda Covanich, a young freedom fighter who deserves your honor and respect. You will become acquainted with Heinrich Peeler, former assistant director of the German Schutzstaffel, who amused himself by carving little artifacts from the dried bones of Jewish babies.
You will feel the pain and suffering the author feels as he tries to bring forth in vivid detail long fallow memories of love, hate, fear, and despair.
And you might cry a little, too.
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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR
In writing all three of my books, I have created the protagonist Frank Henderson by reversing my own first and middle names. The problem is, I seem to have created a real hero out of Frank, certainly not a proper attribute for Henderson Frank Ponder.
Heroes are kind, thoughtful, caring, and brave. I am none of the above. As a matter of fact, regarding the last of these, I’m afraid of the dark, of riding elevators, of snakes, spiders, and angry women.
With this set aside, from the day I came home after the war, I wanted to write about Mesha Covanich and her uncle Peter. About British MI6 officer Harold J. Williamson, known to me only as André. About Mikailic and others with the Mihailovich Underground. About my old Friend Mario, eldest son of a New York City mafia family. And I especially wanted to write about Heinrich Peeler whose dastardly deeds have haunted my memories for decades.
When I first began to write in the 1960’s my plan was to write a true account of the underground movement. However, I soon learned that my personal involvement with those people provided shallow foundation for a truly desirable full-length novel.
Consequently, I must admit that all three of my books consist of a little truth, a little fiction, and a few outright lies.
My purpose here is to suggest that you read my work, as they say, with a little grain of salt.
In any event, I wish to thank you for reading Judische Jade. I sincerely hope you enjoyed it.
HENDERSON FRANK PONDER
The Southern Comfort rocked gently at her moorings, caressed by small wavelets that danced across the bay. The smooth blanket of water at Charlotte Amalie must have felt soothing to her scarred underbelly after the ordeal she had experienced at San Mario Island less than a month earlier. Yet, the storm at Mario’s hideaway was not the worst thing that had happened to the beautiful sailboat. A ship such as the Southern Comfort is expected to weather storms. However, no ship should be treated the way this lady was that night when Frank Henderson tried to get her away from the Mafia thugs who sought to plunder her.
Frank lay quietly on the foredeck, on a pallet he had fashioned from a furled staysail. He shaded his eyes and watched fluffy puffs of cumulus march in picturesque patterns across the aqua sky. The ordeal at San Mario Island drifted through his mind, but he rejected the thought. He was not yet ready to relive that horrible episode of his life. Therefore, while purging the memories from his mind, he stood and walked to the starboard side of the boat and propped against a standing shroud.
A breeze started to evaporate the tiny beads of perspiration from his forehead and he was pleased with the cool sensation. With his mind clear of past events, his thoughts walked across the quite blanket of water and scaled the slopes of the northern shore. From there they climbed the hills beyond, and splashed into the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea to swim northwestward towards the foothills of the Appalachians… to that special hill in the mountains of northwest Georgia.
As he watched a large cruiser break from her moorings on the north shore, his mind latched onto memories of Bunton and the girls, and he was pleased. The big yacht circled the harbor running with her port side shoreward, as if to survey the diverse collection of watercraft that peopled the outer reaches of the bay. Then, as she turned towards the harbor gate and passed slowly alongside the Southern Comfort, Frank stood frozen to the deck as he stared into the eyes of a familiar face. It was a face that he had seen only hours earlier on television; the face of the now famous military dictator of Panama, Manuel Noriega.
According to the news, Noriega had recently gained control of Panama in a military coup and was already accused of crimes that could not be tolerated by the United States. “Evidence is abundant,” the reporter had said, “that the man is heavily engaged in the trafficking of cocaine and other narcotics. And, guess what? His dumping ground is the United States.” According to the newscast, not only was Noriega connected to the drug cartel in Colombia, he ostensibly was on friendly terms with Cuban dictator, Fidel Castro.
However, it was not the countenance of Manuel Noriega, or the face that Frank recognized as Noriega that caused cold fingers of fright to race up his spine. It was the image of the man standing beside him. It was the image of the man Frank had witnessed tormenting his friend André before ordering him shot. It was the image of the man who had confiscated the Covanich home in Rousche and precipitated the execution of Karl and Lisa Covanich... the man who had tormented Mesha with unrelenting memories of that horrible deed. It was the image of Major Heinrich Peeler, former assistant director of the German Schutzstaffel.