Chapter Two Thousand One Hundred Sixty-Nine
18th August 1972
A Friday afternoon was usually the most boring time of the week. Everyone knew that hardly anyone read the Saturday Editions, so whenever the movers and shakers in DC had something that they knew they were obligated to release in a statement they typically did it on Friday evenings to limit public response. Things could not have been more different this week at the Washington Post as Bob Woodward was still trying to figure out exactly what he had just witnessed. He had tried to explain it to his Editor but had been met with disbelief. His source for the story he had been working on over the last week had been gunned down by the Director of the Goddamned FBI in cold blood. At the suggestion of his source, he had brought along photographer to a place where he could watch the meeting unseen. The photographer had captured the shooting and what had followed. What they had was nothing less than John Aleshire planting a gun on the body of Woodward’s source.
They had the who and what. Both of those were bombshells. What they didn’t have though, was why this had happened and if they went to press with just what they had, they were in danger of getting scooped by whoever got the rest of the story first.
That was when Woodward noticed the package on his desk. A note attached simply read; This is the rest of it, have fun.
It only took a few seconds after opening the damned thing that Woodward discovered the shocking identity of his mysterious source, but it was the photographs and documentation that caused the blood to run from his face. This wasn’t simply a case of one cold blooded murder. There were names, dates, and financial records that spelled out exactly what had happened and why. This wasn’t just any bombshell; it was a fucking atomic bomb…
A few hours earlier.
For his entire life, John Dillinger had known that a Death Sentence was inevitable. He just figured that it wouldn’t play out the way that it did. His Doctor had called him at the V8 Club as he had been preparing for what was expected to be a wild evening as an up-and-coming American band was scheduled to appear that night. They had been expecting a packed house, Electrola was there to record the show and there was even a team there to broadcast the event live. Something about how the Doctor had told him that he needed to drop everything and come in immediately had raised the hairs on the back of his neck.
At least the Doctor had the decency to tell him to his face what the verdict had been. Pancreatic Cancer, inoperable and there were few treatment options available. He had been told very matter of fact that he had at best a few weeks to put his affairs in order. For Dillinger, that simply wasn’t good enough. To die quietly in a corner of Berlin, with a Jazz funeral and no one knowing that it was a prison that he had been trapped in for decades. He wanted the story known and some measure of justice for himself. The trouble was that most of his jailers were dead or had long retired. In America, they had figured that he had drowned in the San Francisco Bay years earlier. That thought gave him a sudden idea. It wasn’t the people he needed to go after, but the institutions that they had built. For years, he had been the fly on the wall at the meetings of “Imperial Shipping” and had half-heartedly maintained an “insurance policy” against a rainy day. Well, it was pouring.
He had all the evidence of what Johann Schultz considered his proudest achievement. It wasn’t until he had asked about the man in question that he had realized just how releasing that information the right way would blow apart both the BND in Germany and the FBI in America. Both were institutions he had reasons to dislike after so many decades. Booking a flight to New York had been simple enough. He had burned his passport and anything else that connected him to his life in Germany shortly after landing. John Ellis had ceased to exist at that moment and for the first time in years he was back to who he had once been.
Traveling to Washington DC had been simple enough. He had spent the following week passing information off to that kid Woodward, who had eagerly eaten up whatever he had fed him. Finally, he had passed a bit of information to John Aleshire of the sort that he couldn’t afford to ignore. Sitting on a park bench in the National Mall near the Washington Monument, Dillinger couldn’t help but notice that it was a nice day. Normally this time of year, Washington DC was uncomfortably humid. Today, wasn’t so bad. There was a bit of something in the air that suggested that Autumn was just around the corner.
“You have a lot of nerve” Dillinger heard a voice growl. Looking up he saw John Aleshire, AKA Johann Alscher. Dillinger had sent him a copy of a document that spelled out exactly how Aleshire had worked to stymie the investigation into the murders of J. Edger Hoover and Clyde Tolson.
“No one likes to learn just how short the leash they are on is” Dillinger said as he stood up to look Aleshire right in the eye. “You think that your friends over there will like hearing this conversation?”
There were a pair of G-Men standing just out of earshot. Dillinger had been out of the country for decades, but those pricks still looked exactly the same.
“What the Hell do you want?” Aleshire demanded. It was clear from the look in his eye that he was basically a trapped animal. Which was exactly what Dillinger wanted.
“A man who I had the unfortunate privilege of having as my jailor was fond of saying that even criminals can be patriots” Dillinger said, “I might be an old crook, but at least I am not one of worst traitors in history. Judas Iscariot and Benedict Arnold ain’t got nothing on you.”
“I have no idea what you are talking about” Aleshire lied.
“Oh, bullshit” Dillinger replied, “You have spent your entire career looking over your shoulder, waiting for this day.”
That was when Aleshire changed tact. “If you are so smart and if I am what you are accusing me of. What does any foreign actor gain from having me in this position?” He asked, pretending that Dillinger didn’t know exactly what he was.
“Just having your butt in the Director’s chair is a triumph for your old friend Johann Schultz” Dillinger said, and Aleshire’s face had the blood drain from it. “Did you know that the Kaiser knighted him for his service? What do you think that you are going get? The gas chamber or the electric chair?”
Dillinger could see that he had really gotten under Aleshire’s skin with that last comment.
“Think about it” Dillinger said leaning forward and the tone of his voice needling Aleshire. “Everyone else gets to have their legacies and reputations intact. You get shit because that it all you are and ever will be.”
Dillinger laughed at that as Aleshire face grew red, eyes filled with rage.
“Do your wife and children know?” Dillinger asked poking Aleshire in the chest. “Or will it come as a surprise when they have to change their names and move far away. Perhaps your friends in the BND will offer to relocate them to…”
The shot came as a surprise, but it shouldn’t have. Dillinger felt himself crumple to the ground. He caught a glimpse of a reflection where he had told Woodward to wait. Looking up, he looked down the barrel of Aleshire’s gun and the finger that was tightening on the trigger. If Aleshire were smart he would have turned that gun on himself, Dillinger thought to himself just before the gun went off.