Everyone understands symptoms. They’re indicators of something more serious. In intelligence analysis, that’s exactly what they’re called: indicators. Often, the quiet little indicators are more revealing than the great big loud ones.
Paul Newman played Ari Ben Canaan, the hero of Exodus, in the movie. Newman was half Jewish (father’s side) and confessed in an interview or two that he’d snapped up the part because of his Jewish connection.
When Newman died in 2008, none of the major obituaries listed Exodus among his films.
Kirk Douglas, another Jewish actor, played Mickey Marcus in the 1966 release of Cast a Giant Shadow. The film did not fare all that well, even though John Wayne and Frank Sinatra had cameos, and today is largely forgotten.
Now back to the tale. Adam Grafton, has been in Israel since December 1947, has fought with both the nascent Army and the Irgun, and has found himself irrevocably ensnared in political/military politics and other rivalries . . .
Adam turned, then guided himself over the low stone wall, as deftly as the leg with the bits of Japanese shrapnel still in it, permitted. The gravel made little noises underfoot. He saw a stone bench and a white-wrapped figure on the ground, his back against it, his head down. He heard snoring.
“Colonel Marcus,” Adam called softly as he approached.
“Adam?” a slurred voice called. “That you, boychik?”
Adam came to stand over him. “Colonel.”
Marcus eyed him warily. “Oh, Grafton. My devoted aide. When you gonna stop taking my head off every time we talk? That last little session was a doozy.”
“I meant no disrespect.”
“For a man who meant no disrespect, you sure piled it on.” He looked down at the bottle. “Shouldn’t have come out here. Needed some air.” He shivered a little. “So how’s the highly-decorated Marine? The boxer from Yale. Come out here to go a few rounds with me, at last? Whaddaya say, boxer? Two-three rounds, bare knuckles, just you and me? I’m ten years older than you.”
“More like fifteen. Probably closer to twenty.”
“True enough. One more reason why. Want to get it on for fair?”
“No, sir. I didn’t come out here to fight you.”
“Too bad. It’s going to come to that sooner or later, you know.” He noticed the pistol. “Put that thing away. Sit down, lad. Have a drink with a former colonel of the US Army. Brandy provided by the Army of Israel. They’ve been drinking like fish since I got here. Leaders must set the example.”
“No, thank you, sir.”
“Have a belt, anyway. In case I haven’t told you, it’s OK to call me ‘Colonel’ when we’re alone. But in front of these schmegeggies, it’s ‘General.’ Aluf. Ben-Gurion wants my new title used.”
“You’ve told me.”
“Sorry you missed that little party the officers threw in my honor, now that the Burma Road’s open. Trinkt gut.”
Adam flicked on the thumb safety of his pistol and holstered it. He wondered if the next few minutes would hurt. Not now, he decided. Maybe forever. But not now. He took the bottle from the quivering hand of the first Hebrew general in eighteen centuries and pretended to drink. Marcus noticed.
“Colonel,” Adam said quickly, “Colonel Nordau wants to speak with you as soon as possible. He asked me to find you.”
“Nordau?” Marcus asked, surprised. “What’s he doing up here?”
“He came in a while ago to speak with you.”
Marcus eyed him. “Any idea what it’s about?”
“None, sir,” Adam lied. “But he seemed pretty anxious to see you.”
“It can wait until morning.”
“No, sir. It can’t. It’s urgent.”
“I can imagine.” Marcus shifted his bulk, took the bottle to his lips. “Good man, Nordau Fein,” he mused idly. “A bit too much in love with his own theories. But he’s teachable. That’s because he got himself some real education in Germany before he ended up here. Not like these sabra primitives.”
“Colonel . . .”
“Ever consider agreeing with me, for once?”
“You may be right about the sabras. Some of them. But Colonel Nordau – they don’t come any better. In any army.”
“Your loyalty to your former battalion commander is commendable. Try being as complimentary to your present boss. Your front commander.”
“Colonel . . .”
“Yeah, Colonel,” Marcus muttered. “That was me. Not so long ago. Locked up for the duration at the Pentagon, shoveling horse-manure about how we’ll redeem Germany after the war.” He sneered in imitation. “‘You just stay at your desk, Jew-boy colonel, and just as soon as it’s over, maybe we’ll ship your ass overseas.’”
“Colonel . . .”
“Damn lucky you were, Marine. Three battles. Big ones. I envy you. I barely had three weeks of unauthorized fun in Normandy. Not enough time to callous my trigger finger before they hauled me back to DC.”
“You know, Colonel, my whole combat time in World War II was less than a month.”
“Yeah, but every time you went somewhere, you got yourself another medal for guts.”
“And another Purple Heart for getting my guts in the way of Jap metal. Colonel, sir, I . . . I didn’t intend to find you this way.”
Marcus glared. “I’m not drunk. Maybe that’s my problem. Can’t get drunk enough anymore.”
Adam listened in disgust, hesitated, then went into the final warning he’d contrived.
“Colonel, there’s something you need to know.”
“I’m a general. I know all things.”
“I’m serious. Look, I’ve always tried to stay out of politics and personalities. Beefs between colonels and generals are way above my pay grade.”
“You have a pay grade? I thought you were here pro bono.”
“I am. Nobody pays me. It’s just an old Marine expression.”
“Maybe you should.”
“Get involved in some fights above your pay grade.”
“Because I could use you. Maybe, this time might be different.”
“Maybe this time,” Marcus said heavily, “with you and some others backing me, I’ll defend my officers and my boys and not cave in to the Old Man and there won’t be a fourth disaster at Latrun. Maybe this time we’ll all tell Ben-Gurion, ‘No more useless slaughters.’”
“I hope that happens,” Adam said quietly.
“I believe you mean that.”
“I do. Now I hope you’ll believe something else I’m going to tell you.”
“OK,” Marcus said affably. “Marines are straight shooters. Speak.”
“Sir . . . you’re in danger of being killed.”
Next: Wrap Up. Does Adam kill Mickey Marcus or not?