} Unless I stopped bouncing around like a character in some idiotic
} arcade game and took control of the situation.
} It was clear to me now that the man had arranged for me to reach this
} spot. The ladders, the only unlocked door - they all led me here. Very
} well, I wouldn't disappoint him. But when we met, it would be on my
} Back in the corridor, I once again poked my dentist's mirror around the
} corner. By skilful manipulation, I used it to reflect the light from an
} overhead fixture into the eye of one of the goons. He looked around
} curiously. I held my breath, but I needn't have worried. True to type,
} he stupidly came over to investigate without alerting his companions.
} This is what I expected - I'd met so many of his kind during the war.
} No wonder we lost.
} The moment the goon rounded the corner I clapped one hand over his
} mouth and jabbed a syringe full of novocaine against his neck with the
} "One word and I inject the full load into your jugular," I hissed. "Nod
} if you understand."
} He nodded.
} "Very well, my fine fellow. You are going to lead me past all your
} friends. If you try to resist, you are dead. If they try to stop me,
} you are dead. If any of you displease me in any way at all, you are
} dead. Understand?"
} He nodded again. Such ready intelligence in one so simian.
} I pushed him out into the corridor. The other goons looked startled,
} and some moved as if to reach for weapons. I twitched the syringe
} "Try anything and he dies!" I barked. "Hands away from your sides!"
} Slowly, grudgingly, they complied. One began to speak, "Look, Doctor
} Szell, if you'd only..."
} "Quiet! Stand against the wall and let us pass!"
} They shuffled aside. I pushed my captive forward. Our passage along the
} corridor, surrounded by tense, angry goons, took an agonising eternity.
} Or 25 seconds, depending on how you calculate it. But eventually we
} reached the door at the other end. I instructed my captive to open it.
} Stairs. Dark and forbidding, leading down. There was no other choice.
} We went down.
} We reached an unlit landing. A corridor stretched out to either side,
} lined with doors. Directly in front of us, another door, this one with
} light trickling around the edges. Undoubtedly, this was my intended
} destination. So be it.
} My human shield finally found his voice. "Doctor Szell, it doesn't have
} to be this way..."
} "But I like it this way," I snapped. Contemptuously, I pocketed my
} syringe and pushed him aside. I had no further use for him. I took a
} hooked dental scraper out of my backpack and, holding it as menacingly
} as possible, threw the door open.
} The room was brightly lit, bare apart from a desk and a swivelling
} armchair with its back to me. Someone sat in the chair. I could only
} see the back of his head, but I knew I had caught up with my adversary.
} "Turn and face your executioner, Wiesenthal!" I cried triumphantly.
} "Wiesenthal?" The voice sounded genuinely puzzled. The chair swivelled
} round. I came face to face with a man I had never seen before.
} "Who are you?" I demanded. "Where's Wiesenthal?"
} "The Nazi hunter? I really have no idea. My name is Brian Moriarty,
} president of the Amalgamated Union of Window Cleaners and Allied
} Trades. Pleased to meet you at last, Doctor Szell."
} "You lie! If not Wiesenthal, who are you working for? The CIA? Mossad?
} What do you want from me?"
} "I work for my members, of course. And as to what we want... Well, do
} you really imagine we've gone to all this trouble because you pulled a
} few teeth you shouldn't have during the war, Doctor? No, what concerns
} us much more is that you haven't paid a single one of your window
} cleaning bills since 1945. The net total you owe to date is..." He
} picked a sheet of paper up from the desk and studied it. "$11,245.96,
} plus tips."
} I did not know what to make of all this. "Window cleaning bills? There
} must be some mistake..."
} "Come now, Doctor. You've received the invoices, the reminders, the
} final demands, the lawyers' letter, have you not?"
} "I... I'm sorry. They must have slipped my mind... I have been so
} Moriarty smiled genially. "Of course they did, Doctor! I fully
} understand. While you're devoting all your energies to plotting the
} rebirth of the Third Reich from your secret bolt hole in Paraguay, it's
} so easy to forget the little things, isn't it?"
} "Yes... yes, that's right," I stammered.
} "Ah, but they're not little things to my members, you see. Their
} livelihoods depend on being paid for their work. Many of them have
} families to support. Even in the midst of our megalomaniacal plans for
} world domination, we mustn't forget the little people, must we?"
} I felt ashamed. He was right - a number of my past window cleaners
} might even have been true Aryans.
} "I am very sorry to have been so remiss, Mister Moriarty. As it
} happens, I am in town secretly to reclaim my not inconsiderable stash
} of looted gold. The bank should be opening in a few hours. If you would
} care to wait, I will return later this morning and settle my bills in
} full. You have my word on it."
} Moriarty clapped his hands with satisfaction. "The word of a renegade
} war criminal is certainly good enough for me. Colin," he addressed the
} goon who had acted as my shield, and who had sheepishly slunk into the
} room while we were talking, "go and tell the rest of the guys that the
} good doctor has agreed to pay up. Oh, and Colin, I'm sure the doctor
} would prefer to leave through the front door, so get them to remove
} their ladders. We don't want anybody having an accident."
} Colin departed. I made to leave too.
} "May I say, Doctor," said Moriarty, "it's been a real pleasure doing
} business with you. For a demented fascist psychopath, you are clearly a
} reasonable man."
} "Thank you," I said. "I shall see you later."
} Out in the corridor again. There were some goons there, but their
} former hostility was gone. They smiled at me and gave thumbs up signs.
} I went down another flight of stairs, through another door, outside. It
} was still dark, but with a slight brightening on the horizon,
} indicating that dawn was not far away.
} Window cleaners, I said to myself. Who has time to think of window
} cleaners? Or, for that matter, plumbers, housemaids, garage mechanics,
} gardeners, garbage men... Suddenly overcome by dread, I melted into a
} dark alleyway. How many more unions could be out there lying in wait
} for me? The bank wouldn't be open for hours yet!
} I don't know how long I skulked in the shadows. It was as if my legs
} were paralysed with fear. And still the city was quiet, so quiet. As if
} it were empty. As if there was no-one there. No-one of whom I could ask
} the one question I yearned to ask, I so desperately needed to ask.
} "Is it *safe*?"