'I crave forgiveness,' Mr. Tagomi said. 'You cannot give it to me, though. Possibly no one can. I
intend to read famous diary by Massachusetts' ancient divine, Goodman C. Mather. Deals, I am
told, with guilt and hell-fire, et al.'
The consul smoked his cigarette rapidly, intently studying Mr. Tagomi.
'Allow me to notify you,' Mr. Tagomi said, 'that your nation is about to descend in-to greater
vileness than ever. You know the hexagram The Abyss? Speaking as a private person, not as
representative of Japan officialdom, I declare: heart sick with horror. Bloodbath coming beyond all
compare. Yet even now you strive for some slight egotistic gain or goal. Put one over on rival
faction, the SD, eh? While you get Herr B. Kreuz vom Meere in hot water — ' He could not go on.
His chest had become constricted. Like childhood, he thought. Asthma when angry at the old lady.
'I am suffering,' he told Herr Reiss, who had put out his cigarette now. 'Of malady growing these
long years but which entered virulent form the day I heard, helplessly, your leaders' escapades
recited. Anyhow, therapeutic possibility nil. For you, too, sir. In language of Goodman C. Mather,
if properly recalled: Repent!'
The German consul said huskily, 'Properly recalled.' He nodded, lit a new cigarette with
From the office, Mr. Ramsey appeared. He carried a sheaf of forms and papers. To Mr. Tagomi,
who stood silently trying to get an unconstricted breath, he said, 'While he's here. Routine matter
having to do with his functionality.'
Reflexively, Mr. Tagomi took the forms held out. He glanced at them. Form 20-50. Request by
Reich through representative in PSA, Consul Freiherr Hugo Reiss, for remand of felon now in
custody of San Francisco Police Department. Jew named Frank Fink, citizen — according to
Reichs law — of Germany, retroactive June, 1960. For protective custody under Reichs law, etc.
He scanned it over once.
'Pen, sir,' Mr. Ramsey said. 'That concludes business with German Government this date.' He
eyed the consul with distaste as he held the pen to Mr. Tagomi.
'No,' Mr. Tagomi said. He returned the 20-50 form to Mr. Ramsey. Then he grabbed it back,
scribbled on the bottom, Release. Ranking Trade Mission, S.F. authority. Vide Military Protocol
1947. Tagomi. He handed one carbon to the German consul, the others to Mr. Ramsey along with
the original. 'Good day, Herr Reiss.' He bowed.
The German consul bowed, too. He scarcely bothered to look at the paper.
'Please conduct future business through immediate machinery such as mail, telephone, cable,'
Mr. Tagomi said. 'Not personally.'
The consul said, 'You're holding me responsible for general conditions beyond my jurisdiction.'
'Chicken shit,' Mr. Tagomi said. 'I say that to that.'
'This is not the way civilized individuals conduct business,' the consul said. 'You're making this
all bitter and vindictive. Where it ought to be mere formality with no personality embroiled.' He
threw his cigarette onto the corridor floor, then turned and strode off.
'Take foul stinking cigarette along,' Mr. Tagomi said weakly, but the consul had turned the
corner. 'Childish conduct by self,' Mr. Tagomi said to Mr. Ramsey. 'You witnessed repellent
childish conduct.' He made his way unsteadily back into his office. No breath at all, now. A pain
flowed down his left arm, and at the same time a great open palm of hand flattened and squashed
his ribs. Oof, he said. Before him, no carpet, but merely shower of sparks, rising, red.
Help, Mr. Ramsey, he said. But no sound. Please. He reached out, stumbled. Nothing to catch,
As he fell he clutched within his coat the silver triangle thing Mr. Childan had urged on him. Did
not save me, he thought. Did not help. All that endeavor.
His body struck the floor. Hands and knees, gasping, the carpet at his nose. Mr. Ramsey now
rushing about bleating. Keep equipoise, Mr. Tagomi thought.
'I'm having a small heart attack,' Mr. Tagomi managed to say.
Several persons were involved, now, transporting him to couch. 'Be calm, sir,' one was telling
'Notify wife, please,' Mr. Tagomi said.
Presently he heard ambulance noises. Wailing from street. Plus much bustle. People coming and
going. A blanket was put over him, up to his armpits. Tie removed. Collar loosened.
'Better now,' Mr. Tagomi said. He lay comfortably, not trying to stir. Career over anyhow, he
decided. German consul no doubt raise row higher up. Complain about incivility. Right to so
complain, perhaps. Anyhow, work done. As far as I can, my part. Rest up to Tokyo and factions in
Germany. Struggle beyond me in any case.
I thought it was merely plastics, he thought. Important mold salesman. Oracle guessed and gave
clue, but — -
'Remove his shirt,' a voice stated. No doubt building's physician. Highly authoritative tone; Mr.
Tagomi smiled. Tone is everything.
Could this, Mr. Tagomi wondered, be the answer? Mystery of body organism, its own
knowledge. Time to quit. Or time partially to quit. A purpose, which I must acquiesce to.
What had the oracle last said? To his query in the office as those two lay dying or dead. Sixty-
one. Inner Truth. Pigsand fishes are least intelligent of all; hard to convince. It is I. The book means
me. I will never fully understand; that is the nature of such creatures. Or is this Inner Truth now,
this that is happening to me?
I will wait. I will see. Which it is.
Perhaps it is both.
That evening, just after the dinner meal, a police officer came to Frank Frink's cell, unlocked the
door, and told him to go pick up his possessions at the desk.
Shortly, he found himself out on the sidewalk before the Kearny Street Station, among the many
passers-by hurrying along, the buses and honking cars and yelling pedecab drivers. The air was
cold. Long shadows lay before each building. Frank Frink stood a moment and then he fell
automatically in with a group of people crossing the street at the crosswalk zone.
Arrested for no real reason, he thought. No purpose. And then they let me go the same way.
They had not told him anything, had simply given him back his sack of clothes, wallet, watch,
glasses, personal articles, and turned to their next business, an elderly drunk brought in off the
Miracle, he thought. That they let me go. Fluke of some kind. By rights I should be on a plane
heading for Germany, for extermination.
He could still not believe it. Either part, the arrest and now this. Unreal. He wandered along past
the closed-up shops, stepping over debris blown by the wind.
New life, he thought. Like being reborn. Like, hell. Is.
Who do I thank? Pray, maybe?
Pray to what?
I wish I understood, he said to himself as he moved along the busy evening sidewalk, by the
neon signs, the blaring bar doorways of Grant Avenue. I want to comprehend. I have to.
But he knew he never would.
Just be glad, he thought. And keep moving.
A bit of his mind declared, And then back to Ed. I have to find my way back to the workshop,
down there in that basement. Pick up where I left off, making the jewelry, using my hands.
Working and not thinking, not looking up or trying to understand. I must keep busy. I must turn the
Block by block he hurried through the darkening city. Struggling to get back as soon as possible
to the fixed, comprehensible place he had been.
When he got there he found Ed McCarthy seated at the bench, eating his dinner. Two
sandwiches, a thermos of tea, a banana, several cookies. Frank Frink stood in the doorway, gasping.
At last Ed heard him and turned around. 'I had the impression you were dead,' he said. He
chewed, swallowed rhythmically, took another bite.
By the bench, Ed had their little electric heater going; Frank went over to it and crouched down,
warming his hands.
'Good to see you back,' Ed said. He banged Frank twice on the back, then returned to his
sandwich. He said nothing more; the only sounds 'were the whirr of the heater fan and Ed's
Laying his coat over a chair, Frank collected a handful of half-completed silver segments and
carried them to the arbor. He screwed a wool buffing wheel onto the spindle, started up the motor;
he dressed the wheel with bobbing compound, put on the mask to protect his eyes, and then seated
on a stool began removing the fire scale from the segments, one by one.
Captain Rudolf Wegener, at the moment traveling under the cover name Conrad Goltz, a dealer in
medical supplies on a wholesale basis, peered through the window of the Lufthansa ME9-E rocket
ship. Europe ahead. How quickly, he thought. We will be landing at Tempelhofer Feld in
approximately seven minutes.
I wonder what I accomplished, he thought as he watched the land mass grow. It is up to General
Tedeki, now. Whatever he can do in the Home Islands. But at least we got the information to them.
We did what we could.
He thought, But there is no reason to be optimistic. Probably the Japanese can do nothing to
change the course of German internal politics. The Goebbels Government is in power, and probably
will stand. After it is consolidated, it will turn once more to the notion of Dandelion. And another
major section of the planet will be destroyed, with its population, for a deranged, fanatic ideal.
Suppose eventually they, the Nazis, destroy it all? Leave it a sterile ash? They could; they have
the hydrogen bomb. And no doubt they would; their thinking tends toward that Götterdämmerung.
They may well crave it, be actively seeking it, a final holocaust for everyone.
And what will that leave, that Third World Insanity? Will that put an end to all life, of every
kind, everywhere? When our planet becomes a dead planet, by our own hands?
He could not believe that. Even if all life on our planet is destroyed, there must be other life
somewhere which we know nothing of. It is impossible that ours is the only world; there must be
world after world unseen by us, in some region or dimension that we simply do not perceive.
Even though I can't prove that, even though it isn't logical — I believe it, he said to himself.
A loudspeaker said, 'Meine Damen undHerren. Achiung, bitte.'
We are approaching the moment of landing, Captain Wegener said to himself. I will almost
surely be met by the Sicherheitsdienst. The question is: Which faction of policy will be
represented? The Goebbels? Or the Heydrich? Assuming that SS General Heydrich is still alive.
While I have been aboard this ship, he could have been rounded up and shot. Things happen fast,
during the time of transition in a totalitarian society. There have been, in Nazi Germany, tattered
lists of names over which men have pored before.
Several minutes later, when the rocket ship had landed, he found himself on his feet, moving
toward the exit with his overcoat over his arm. Behind him and ahead of him, anxious passengers.
No young Nazi artist this time, he reflected. No Lotze to badger me at the last with his moronic
An airlines uniformed official — dressed, Wegener observed, like the Reichs Marshal himself —
assisted them all down the ramp, one by one, to the field. There, by the concourse, stood a small
knot of blackshirts. For me? Wegener began to walk slowly from the parked rocket ship. Over at
another spot men and women waiting, waving, calling . . . even some children.
One of the blackshirts, a flat-faced unwinking blond fellow wearing the Waffen-SS insignia,
stepped smartly up to Wegener, clicked the heels of his jackboots together and saluted. 'Ich bitte
mich zu entschuldigen. Sind Sie nicht Kapitan Rudolf Wegener, von der Abwehr?'
'Sorry,' Wegener answered. 'I am Conrad Goltz. Representing A. G. Chemikalien medical
supplies.' He started on past.
Two other blackshirts, also Waffen-SS,came toward him. The three of them fell beside him, so
that although he continued on at his own pace, in his own direction, he was quite abruptly and
effectively under custody. Two of the Waffen SS men had sub-machine guns under their greatcoats.
'You are Wegener,' one of them said as they entered the building.
He said nothing.
'We have a car,' the Waffen-SS man continued. 'We are instructed to meet your rocket ship,
contact you, and take you immediately to SS General Heydrich, who is with Sepp Dietrich at the
0KW of the Leibstandarte Division. In particular we are not to permit you to be approached by
Wehrmacht or Partei persons.'
Then I will not be shot, Wegener said to himself. Heydrich is alive, and in a safe location, and
trying to strengthen his position against the Goebbels Government.
Maybe the Goebbels Government will fall after all, he thought as he was ushered into the waiting
SS Daimler staff sedan. A detachment of Waffen-SS suddenly shifted at night; guards at the
Reichskanzlei relieved, replaced. The Berlin police stations suddenly spewing forth armed SD men
in every direction — radio stations and power cut off, Tempeihofer closed. Rumble of hea-vy guns
in the darkness, along main streets.
But what does it matter? Even if Doctor Goebbels is deposed and Operation Dandelion is
canceled? They will still exist, the blackshirts, the Partei, the schemes if not in the Orient then
somewhere else. On Mars and Venus.
No wonder Mr. Tagomi could not go on, he thought. The terrible dilemma of our lives. Whatever
happens, it is evil beyond compare. Why struggle, then? Why choose? If all alternatives are the
Evidently we go on, as we always have. From day to day. At this moment we work against
Operation Dandelion. Later on, at another moment, we work to defeat the police. But we cannot do
it all at once; it is a sequence. An unfolding process. We can only control the end by making a
choice at each step.
He thought, We can only hope. And try.
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