Another Mission

Chapter 4

"I'll need a blanket. See if there's one in the car, maybe the trunk." By the light of the moon they watched Chief walk away along the road. He returned about twenty minutes later with two long poles.

Laying the poles side-by-side, he moved one end about three feet over, forming a vee. Next he tied the blanket's corners to the poles at the open end. With Actor's help they placed Casino on the blanket and taking the other end of the poles to his shoulders he began to drag Casino.

"'ey, just like in the cowboy pictures. What the Indians used," enthused Goniff.

It was slow going but they were moving, until they saw the lights come around the corner just up ahead. There was no time to hide so Actor moved to the road side in case they stopped. As it passed they could see it was a truck but it did not stop. They breathed a sigh of relief and Actor took up the poles. The air was cold this close to the ocean but the walking helped to keep them from getting too cold. On the other hand Casino was not so fortunate. He tucked his hands in his arm pits, which helped but could do nothing about his feet. It did not take long to start shivering. Fortunately Garrison noticed and put his jacket over his injured team mate. That helped a bit.

They trudged on as the wind picked up. At the first sign of houses Actor, who had traded off to Goniff, said, "This may be Varazze, up ahead. Maybe we can find a place to stay."

"I 'ope you mean in an 'otel with room service and 'ot water. I sure could do with a long soak in an 'ot bath."

No one answered. They knew the chances of that were not good. Five men showing up, on foot, one wounded, with no luggage would arouse suspicion. They would be in a drafty abandoned building but they would be out of the wind, at least, they hoped.

They stopped in a boathouse for an hour and a half while Chief and Actor scouted out the area. When they returned they woke the other three who had huddled together for warmth and set out for the fishing shack. There was no heat there either but it was off the water and thus not as damp.

"Lookie 'ere. We got grub," crowed Goniff as he began checking the cans of food that he had found in the cupboard. He selected a few then opened the drawer. "Blimey. There's no opener. Chiefie? Give us yer knife."

"Uh uh," he said as he shook his head. You ain't usin' mine."

"But I gotta get these open. Casino an' the Warden need food. You wouldn't let the Warden go 'ungry would ya?" He watched as Chief, the holder of the only way into the food, walked outside. "Some friend you are," yelled Goniff.

"Keep yer voice down," warned Garrison.

"Yeah, but all this food an' 'e just walks out." Then under his breath he muttered, "If I 'ad me way …" and he hit his open hand with his fist.

Moments later the door opened and Chief returned. He hefted an axe in Goniff's face and said, "an' what way would that be?"

Goniff gasped and stepped back. "Uh."

"Gimme the can."

Goniff plunked the can he had been holding on the counter and quickly pulled his hand back. He didn't trust and angry Chief, especially one holding an axe.

Chief set to work using the end of the blade. "Here hold the can." With a knife it was doable but with the large heavy head it was awkward.

"Not me. Actor, Chief needs your 'elp over 'ere."

In the small room Actor could not help hearing the exchange. After the fun they had had at his expense in Genoa, it was payback time. "I am going to check Casino's leg. You go ahead."

"But …"

"Just hold the can, Goniff. Thought you were hungry. Sides, I'll be careful." Chief was not above playing along. He waited as a shaky hand tentatively reached out. He waited until the fingers gripped the can before he jerked the axe and said "Ooops." He had to laugh as the hand vanished, with a squawk, as did the person attached to the other end. Chief finished opening the can far enough to access the goodies inside. He started on the second can.

There were only two spoons and a fork so they had to share but at least they had something to eat. They then found places to sleep. Actor took the first watch, Garrison would follow him. Chief needed sleep.

They spent the rest of a cold night but at least the dawn brought a little warmth. Actor and Chief headed into town. It was a bit of a walk so they started early. Actor was wearing hand-made Italian leather shoes, good for appearances in a fine hotel but not for walking long distances. Chief had sturdy boots but being soaked and frozen had stiffened the leather. Neither was prone to complaining, they walked in silence.

When they reached the edge of the business section they parted. Actor headed for the busiest restaurant and Chief scouted the available vehicles. They met at the agreed upon rendezvous. Actor had a large bag of goods and Chief had a truck. They headed back.

"How bad's the Warden, do ya figure?" asked Chief.

"I suspect a concussion. His breathing is shallow but bruised ribs will cause that. Other than that, with rest he will be fine."

"An' Casino?"

"I am unsure. With the amount of swelling … All we can do is pray it is not too serious."

"What if the Doc wants to keep him here."

"The Warden or I will talk him out of it. We are on our way to his family's home in Savona," he added with a smile. In the silence that fell, Actor thought about the men he was now working with. He had never worked with more than one person before so this had been new to him. The more people involved the more chance there was for a slip up. At least there was in the line he was accustomed to. Here the large number worked. If one was injured, which often happened, then another stepped up and filled their shoes. They were coming together very well. Even Chief, who he had seen develop a loyalty to Garrison that he had not expected, was becoming a team player. Quiet and reserved, he cared for the others though Actor had to wondered just how serious he had been with the axe. Chief with an axe was worse than Chief with a knife.

When they returned, they loaded everyone into the back and set out for the Doctor's office that Actor had found. The story that Actor and Garrison had put together was that of a car accident. Garrison had been driving when they had gone off the road, throwing Casino out of the car, banging up his knee.

As Chief had suggested, the Doctor had wanted to admit Casino to the hospital. After Actor explained their destination, he had reluctantly agreed to give him a shot of morphine and one for the road and let them go on their way after re-taping Garrison's ribs. After gassing up in the next town they again headed for their destination.

It was late afternoon by the time they reached Vado Ligure and Garrison went to work. He directed Chief to a building, Rancadore Pescheria, a few blocks from the harbor and then got out of the truck. He spared a glance at the fish displayed in the window before entering. Two older women were good naturedly haggling with the shop keeper. When they had finally collected their purchases, he stepped forward and was about to speak when an elderly woman hobbled in. Ever the gentleman and not wanting witness he turned to her and gestured for her to go ahead. She looked to be in a foul temper and just grunted but did not move.

"Si prega, signora," he said as he nodded to her. She just muttered something about pushy young people never leaving an old woman alone then moved up to the counter. Garrison waited while she argued about the quality, the price and the freshness before deciding on a small selection. When she finally left he approached the counter and gave the contact phrase. "When in doubt, you should always ask for the catch of the day." The man behind the counter just moved to the tub of fish and grabbing a fillet placed it on the paper on the weigh scale. He then asked how many he wanted. Wrong answer, wrong man, there would be no help here. He purchased two and left.

The news that they were still on their own was not received well. They were tired and hungry but at least he had some fish for dinner. Now they needed a place to stay while they figured out what to do. Chief dropped Actor and Garrison off at a café with a promise to return in three hours. The two would seek out any help they could find while the three found a place to stay.

"Íf we're gonna be here much longer I gotta find another vehicle. This one's too noticeable," said Chief as Actor climbed in the back and Garrison in the passenger's side. He pulled away from the curb. "Warden, I think we're bein' followed," he said as he looked in the side mirror.

"Can you lose 'm?"

"Doubt it, in this crate."

"Can you see who? Military?"

"Looks civilian."

"All right, take us outta town." The unspoken idea was 'no witnesses'.

"Lost'm or they dropped back," he said moments later as he checked the mirror again.

"You're sure they were tailing." It was not a question. Garrison knew Chief was not paranoid, not that he didn't have reason to be. He was observant.

It took much longer to return to their hideout due to their caution. Not only did Chief take the long way there but he parked about half a mile away and they walked the rest. They saw no one.

Garrison handed over the fish to Actor and went to see to Casino. The morphine had been enough to take the edge off the pain but had worn off.

"How about another shot a that stuff? It really helps."

"I'm sure it does but I want to save the last shot to help you sleep. That will do you more good."

"Yeah. How about a drink, an' I don't mean water?"

Craig smiled. "If I had some, I'd share it with you." He turned back to watch Chief blowing life into the fire he had built in the courtyard. The house was deserted and had been for some time though the shed out back was in better shape. A half built boat rested upside down on a pair of saw horses. Craig wondered if it would ever get finished. Actor brought the fish he had skewered and Chief propped them up beside the fire.

It did not take long for the wonderful aroma of baking fish to reach their noses. Unfortunately it reached other noses as well. Four men stepped out from around the house, three armed with Lugers, the fourth, an Italian sub machine gun.

"Non muoversi!"

They froze, waiting. Only Garrison saw the flicker of movement meant to attract his attention as Chief moved into position. He was out numbered and out gunned but he was their ace in the hole.

"You not fliers." His accent was heavy but the words were clear enough. "Who are you?"

"We are simple men looking for work," said Actor in Italian.

"Lies. You are American."

Actor opened his mouth to protest but before he could say anything he heard Garrison's voice say, "We are Americans."

"Americans, you are far from home," said the one with the sub machine gun with a smile but the barrel remained pointed squarely at Garrison's chest.

"Is it true, what they say about America, that everyone there is rich?" asked another, his gun also unwavering.

"It is a good country to live in but no, not everybody is rich," said Actor.

Another man asked, "You play baseball, who won the World Cup?"

"You mean the World Series? New York Yankees over the St. Louis Cardinals in five games.

"Ahh, New York. You been there?" asked the first man.

"I have been there."

"How about you?" he asked Actor.

"I, also, have been there."

"What's it like."

Neither Garrison nor Actor could blame them for their caution. Strangers could be American airmen or they could be German spies planted to infiltrate the underground. The fish was ready to eat by the time the weapons were lowered. Chief remained where he was. Unfortunately their guests made sure there were no left overs.

"What do you do now?" asked the Italian leader.

"We were hoping to find someone who could arrange a pick up for us."

"And you thought Carlo could?" he asked somewhat suspiciously.

"I was not expecting to be in this area so I am not entirely sure of who to contact. I was sure it was a fish supply shop." Garrison was not about to reveal all he knew either.

"Fish supply? What is supply?"

"It's a shop where you buy what you need to go fishing. I thought the fish was for bait, to put on the hooks to catch bigger fish."

"Bait? Oh, for put on the hooks," and he laughed as he baited an imaginary hook and cast. The others joined in and Garrison managed to look sheepish.

Then they sobered. "Maybe you misunderstood. Right place, too late. Aldo used to own that shop. He was arrested by the Blackshirts three weeks ago. They shot him in the square and hung his body for all to see."

They all sat quietly, thinking of what had happened and that they could all share the same fate. Finally Garrison asked, "Is there anyone else we could contact?"

"No. When they could not find the radio they burned his house to the ground. It is all gone. In fact you had better move on. Louis was given the shop by the German Officer. He has probably told them all about you."

"Yes, you are probably right." Then he turned to Actor and Goniff and said, "We better get going."

"We could give you three a ride, at least as far as the edge of town," he offered helpfully.

That told Garrison that they did not know about Casino or Chief and they did not know they still had the truck stashed nearby. Now he had to find a way to get them to leave. Actor supplied it.

"We have been on the move for too long. You two need sleep. A few hours is not going to make that much of a difference. I will keep watch while you two sleep. We can leave at dusk."

"If you prefer." Would you like us to stay so you can sleep too?"

"No, but thank you for the offer. We'll be fine," said Garrison. The Italians turned and began filing away. They were gone almost five minutes before Chief returned. He pointedly ignored the fire and the few bones that had been tossed into it. Garrison knew he had to be hungry

"'Ey Chiefy. Look what I saved ya",said Goniff as he pulled a packet, wrapped in butcher paper ,from his jacket pocket and handed it to the Indian. Actor pulled a similar package from his coat as well and headed into where Casino was laying.

"About bloody time. Gees."

"You are welcome, Casino."

"Yeah, yeah."

Garrison nodded to Goniff and Actor when he returned. "Thank you."

"How ya figure they found us?" asked Goniff.

"They know the area. From the direction they followed us, might be the only place we could a been."

"You think they are the same ones?" asked Actor

"Yeah." By now the fire had died down to ash so he went in to the building. When he returned he took his and Casino's butcher paper over to the fire and kneeling down, began to blow on the ash until he cleared a glowing ember. Placing the paper next too it he continued to blow until it caught and began to burn. He stood and watched until it all turned to ash and the ember died. He went and got a long stick from the shed and spread the ashes over a large area. Without a word they went and got Casino and began carrying him back to the truck.

"Warden, would it be wiser to return to southern Italy and the Allied lines rather than Vichy France?" asked Actor once Casino was safely loaded in the back.

"'Ey, maybe we could find Sister Theresa. She'd 'elp us for sure, long as we kept Casino outta 'er 'abit," suggested Goniff cheerfully. They all smiled, even Chief.

Craig pulled out his map. Either way it was going to be a while before they got home.

"It looks like it is shorter," agreed Garrison.

"Or we could just go to Actor's house and wait out the war," slurred Casino. Garrison had given him the last shot of morphine, knowing moving him was going to hurt. Two gave that some real thought, one dismissed it without thought, one regretted that that was not possible and one ignored it.

Chief started the truck and they got under way. It was dark by the time they pulled into Genoa, which made trading-in the truck for a large sedan easier. It was to be the first of many clandestine trade-ins including the one necessitated by a flat tire. Chief eased the vehicle out of town and they found a shack to sleep in.

They were underway before dawn, glad to be away from prying eyes. Everything was rolling right along with the cons each contributing to their survival with their own set of skills until they reached Cerveteri. Garrison, who was driving, mentioned they needed gas. Goniff pointed out the first station but it was closed. So was the second. The third had a sign stating the fuel was for Military vehicles only. The fuel was being rationed.

"Do you think we could steal a staff car?"

"Warden, that soldier over there is lookin' pretty hard at us. He's turned and headed inta that building."

"Seems we have aroused suspicion. Yes, here comes the Maggiore." Actor stepped out of the car and limped toward the Italian Officer. Their conversation was long and expressive. When he returned he explained that he had told the Major that they had come looking for work.

"All that for that?" asked Casino." I thought you were exchanging life stories."

"He wished to know where we were from and why we were not in the service. He also suggested we keep going."

"You ask about gas?"

"He said no."

"So we walk. You mention we have an injured man?"

"He said he did not care."

"So much for Italian hospitality," snipped Casino.

"'Ey, remember 'ow we moved that engine we nicked. We could do that again."

"I ain't layin' in no coffin," declared Casino. "Forget it."

"That would make it easier. See if we can find one," said Garrison.

Casino, angered and panicked at his perceived fate, lunged at Garrison's arm, meaning to grab him. Chief, who had been perched on the seat by Casino's leg lunged to deflect the attack on the Warden. The Indian managed to deflect the hand but the initial movement and now the deflection twisted Casino's injured knee. He gasped, twisted back and grabbed his leg, his face contorted in pain. The three in the front seat twisted around to see what had happened.

What they saw was Casino in agony and Chief looking guilty/alarmed.

When they first started on missions, Garrison would have yelled at Chief, as would have Actor. By now they understood the dynamics between these two men. "You all right, Casino?"

"Yeah," he ground out. He gradually leaned back. The fact that he said nothing to Chief proved to the two leaders that they were right. What ever happened was an accident. They waited until Casino's pain was under control.

"If we ain't outta petrol now, then why not keep going until we are?"

"Wemight be out in the middle of nowhere when that happens and we would not be able to obtain conveyance for Casino," replied the con man.

"I ain't ridin' in no coffin!"

"What? Why would you ride in a coffin?" Garrison sounded genuinely confused.

That was when Casino realized his mistake. "Never mind," grumbled the injured man.

Fortunately they left it at that, at least for now. It would re-surface later.

Craig and Actor went in search of a hand cart. It took almost an hour but they returned with some food and a cart. Casino was installed and they continued on their way. Their destination was the outskirts of the town. They would spend the night, a cold damp night with only a small fire in an old shed. At least Casino was up off the ground though the ground was possibly softer.

By morning the were cold, tired, stiff and hungry. In other words they were miserable. There was no choice but to push on. When they reached the cut off to Rome, Goniff suggested they go see if they could find Sister Theresa, or visit the Pope or …

"'Ey, Actor, you 'ave a girlfriend we could go see in Rome? Maybe she could cook us some spaghetti or , or, what's that other stuff you eat, Casino?"

"You mean Pisto manchego or Paella."

"Yeah, some Pistol Manchego. Whatta ya say, Actor?"

"If I had a girlfriend in Rome,.."

"Of course he does," said Goniff and Casino in unison.

"… I would certainly Not invite you to visit. And, Pisto manchego is Spanish, not Italian."

"So, we're good enough to watch yer back on a mission, but not good enough to introduce to yer friends. Well!," he huffed indignantly, "I'd introduce you to me Mom if she were 'ere, cause I'm not a snob." Goniff turned his head away from Actor and put his nose in the air.

Garrison and Actor exchanged looks with just the hint of a smile. "That was very good, Goniff, but I am still Not going to take you to Rome."

"See, told you, girlfriend in Rome," crowed Casino. Actor just shook his head.

It was approaching dusk when the heard the artillery. It started in the distance but seemed to approach fasted that they walked. The Allies were advancing.

"Should we continue walking and meet them or sit and wait for them?" asked Actor.

There had been no military traffic along the road since they passed Rome but Actor explained this was a coastal road. The major road was out of Rome.

"Look for a place to stay. It'll be dark soon." They found a grove with enough cover to build a lean to. Casino insisted he was not sleeping on 'that damn torture rack' again. "Whoever 's on watch, just remember to watch for the uniform. Don't shoot one of our own!" He had to shake his head when he heard Goniff say, 'shoot the grey, not the brown. Shoot the grey, not the brown, right Warden?'

It was in the pre-dawn that Chief saw the dark figure approach. He gave the signal, then waited and watched. The figure was followed by another. As they neared the shelter a third man appeared.

"Get yer hands up and throw down yer weapons." The rest of the team had been alerted by the signal so had come out of their shelter and were ready to comply. "Look what we got here. Bunch a deserters." The one who spoke wore Sargent stripes. He was about Garrison's height but outweighed him by at least twenty pounds. The M1Garand held comfortably in his hands was pointed directly at Garrison's chest.

"We're Americans," said Garrison calmly, after he laid his Luger on the ground in plain sight of the soldiers.

"Sure you are. That's why yer behind enemy lines," said the second soldier, "with a German gun.".

"We work for Army Intelligence. We were gathering information."

"We'll see about that. Charlie, we got four to go back."

"I thought you said no prisoners?"

"They say their American. Can't shoot the good guys, can we? All right, on yer feet. Let's go."

"He's injured, can't walk. We were using the cart over there."

"Lefto, check it for weapons." The third man hurried over and inspected the cart. He then signaled the all clear.

"I have another man out there," said Garrison quietly.

"Call 'm in and tell'm, unarmed or yer dead." Chief materialized out of the dim, carrying the rifle by the barrel in his left hand. "That's it? All a you?" seeing the nod he said, "All right, get'm loaded." Chief and Goniff carried Casino and placed him in his cart.

They continued their trek south, unarmed and in the company of three suspicious American soldiers. Goniff walked in silence for a bit but finally as the sun began to rise he moved to the third soldier's side and said, "So, they call you Lefty. Is it because you're left handed? Cause I knew a bloke when I was .."

"No."

"What?"

"Name's Lefto and I am right handed. Move on up there with your friends."

"'Ey, I was just makin' conversation. No need to get 'uffy," he said sounding hurt. He moved up to take his position on Chief's other side. He looked to Chief to see if he needed to trade places but he looked to be doing okay. With Garrison's injured ribs, it had been these two who had pushed the cart. "So 'ows the ribs?" he asked quietly. He knew better than to announce an injury to your captors.

"Feeling better."

"That's good. So 'ow far you think we 'ave to walk?"

Before he could answer there was an explosion. It was a testament to their experience that no one flinched. They knew it was too far away but it brought home the war. Up until then it was easy to forget. The sun was rising, it would be a clear day. The breeze was mild and all seemed well with the world, other than they had had nothing to eat for too long. Goniff hoped to rectify that as soon as they got behind their own lines.

Then they heard the telltale sound, an Artillery barrage. This was always the hard part, getting through no man's land, the disputed area, the front. Goniff watched the closest soldier check his watch. He nodded his head off to the right side of the road, toward the coast.

"You'll have to either carry'm or leave'm here. This areas about to get real hot," said the Sargent.

"Oh, great," muttered Casino. He could stay here and maybe get blown to pieces or go through the agony of letting them move him. The bumping of the cart on the road was bad enough. He weighed the odds and made his decision, not that Garrison would go along with it. "Leave me here. I'll probably never walk again anyway. Maybe I'll get lucky and they'll blow my leg off."

As he had thought, Garrison was not about to leave a man unprotected. "You're going with us." He did not have to say anymore. The two other cons moved into position and hoisted him. They moved as far off the road as they could, being as careful and gentle as they could but Casino was covered in sweat and unconscious by the time the Sargent called a halt.

"We're still too close," he said. "We need to be down there, at least the other side of that ditch."

Chief and Goniff had put Casino down as gently as they could. It was awkward carrying a man over the rough terrain off the road. "You go ahead, mate, we'll wait for you right 'ere." They dragged the prone figure behind a rock and sat down beside him. Garrison would have liked to get further back but as he was not the one carrying the dead weight he let it go.

The barrage intensified but got no closer than two hundred yards. It finally tapered off and silence reigned.

"That was short and sweet. Let's go." The Sargent was up and moving back to the road.

Half an hour later the three cons were sitting in a tent being guarded by two nasty looking soldiers. The very harried medic had just left saying there was nothing he could do for Casino. They were not happy to hear this but they understood. There were worse injuries for him to concentrate on.

"Wish the Warden would get back," muttered Goniff.

"Yeah, yeah, we know, with some food," grouched Casino. All he wanted was some relief from the throbbing in his leg. It had started with the knee but now seemed to encompass the whole leg. The swelling had extended as well. He thought it might be warmer too. His comment about losing his leg stuck in his mind. What if he did lose his leg. How would he get along. He would lose his place on the team. As long as he got to go home that wouldn't be all bad. Unless they sent him back to prison …And if he did go home, how would he make a living. A one legged safe cracker. What a joke.

But he didn't want to be a safecracker. He was good at it and enjoyed the challenge but he wanted to go straight. The Warden had worked so hard to help them. He had stood up for them, put his life on the line for them. It just seemed wrong to just turn his back on the guy after that. He had to live up to what Garrison thought of them. He thought they were worth something. And Garrison was never wrong, crazy but never wrong. Well maybe once or twice.

"'Ey, 'ow about some food in 'ere. We ain't eaten in days. Doesn't the Geneva Convention say somethin' about feedin' prisoners?" yelled Goniff at the tent flap. He had tried opening it earlier and had been threatened with the business end of a rifle. At the time he had thought that the Warden would know how to disarm a man with a rifle but he was not here. He had been taken away after telling them to 'stay put'. He would stay but that didn't mean he had to like it or be quiet.

Garrison finally returned but he was walking stiffly.

"What's wrong?" asked Chief immediately. "They didn't .."

"No, I'm fine. Medic taped my ribs, that's all."

"So when do we get outta 'ere and get some grub. We're famished."

"We'll head for the mess tent BUT, stay with me. Don't wander off. Got it?" said Garrison looking each in the eye. "And you stay here. I'll bring you something."

Garrison left the tent with two shadows and returned with two shadows. They ate and slept. Hours later someone slapped the tent walls and yelled, "Rise and shine ladies. Your carriage awaits." There was a lot of grumbling but they filed out. "Let's go ladies," said a large man in a uniform bearing two silver bars. He was almost as tall as Actor but more thickly built. If Actor was handsome, this man was rugged. His dark blue eyes were recessed beneath a thick brow.

"One of my men was injured. I'll need a stretcher." The Captain whistled and waved. A stretcher appeared carried by two corpsmen. Casino was duly loaded and they set off.

Their 'carriage' was a large troop carrier with a covered deck. Chief and Goniff both flashed-back to the trucks they had lit on fire. The tarp had caught and burned hot and fast. Shrugging it off the climbed into the back.

The noise of the truck was enough to prevent conversation. When the vehicle stopped Chief, who was sitting at the back, pulled the tarp aside enough to look out. They were coming into a large city. Actor who was on the other side said it was Salerno. The truck lurched into motion and they were driven to the dock. Their escort took them to a Motor Launch which they boarded quietly. The Launch took them to an Aircraft Carrier where they ate and slept some more. The doctor removed Casino's primitive splint and replaced it with a proper devise. He told them that without a special machine called an X Ray machine, he was unable to assess the damage. Any elation they felt because they were on their way home was tempered by his announcement that because of the delay between the injury and the treatment that there was a smaller chance of a full recovery.

With that niggling worry they arrival back in England. Casino was admitted to the hospital and the others were sent to their base.

"Have you heard anything about what would happen if anyone of us was unable to continue working for the Army?" asked Actor as he pulled out his pipe and began filling it. The two men sat in Garrison's office. The debriefing had been completed and Goniff had gone to see what was for dinner. Chief had gone outside.

"No," replied Garrison as he leaned back and laced his fingers together just above his belt. "Death would call for a replacement. I don't think they considered a debilitating injury. I do recall being told a refusal to cooperate means a fast trip back to prison."

"Yes, that I do recall." Silence sat with them as they pondered what would happen to Casino. After all the hard work and the risks he had taken for the Allies, for Garrison and the team, he certainly deserved to be paroled.

"Has the doctor mentioned when they would know the prognosis?"

"No. He did say they might have to operate, to try repair the ligament."

"He is going to be out of action for some time. Any word on a replacement?"

"Not yet. I have another meeting in three days.

No matter what happened they knew Garrison would make sure Casino was looked after.