They want me to be a fucking Nazi! Oh yeah, let’s give it to the polack Kowalski, Mr. Blue-Eyed Blond… helluva job…thanks for that. And my Grandparents left Poland because of those fuckers....
The worst thing about undercover is sometimes you get an assignment which you know, you just know, you’re going to hate…because they’re gonna ask you to be someone you hate. But Ray kept his opinions to himself, and watched the screen as the synagogue burned.
“Pause the tape,” Agent Dooley said, and started scribbling notes. Ray took a moment to compose himself. Hard to do that, when you were thinking about your Dziadzia limping through life because some Nazi fuck back in the old country --“just following orders” -- and enjoying it -- beat him with a metal chain. Nobody in the family ever talked about what had really happened, but Ray did know that his Dziadzia had been hiding a Jewish family at the time. He never did find out what happened to them.
“Okay, we don’t know who caused this particular fire,” Dooley said, in a tired voice, “and in a way it doesn’t matter. Things are escalating. They burned down an empty synagogue this time -- next firebomb, they could be ready to kill someone. What we’re after is who’s masterminding these hate crimes.”
“Whaddya mean it doesn’t matter who caused it? The asshole who set that fire….”
“Yeah, yeah, it does matter,” Dooley placated. “Of course it matters -- but even if we got somebody confessing on tape, and that wouldn’t be hard to get ‘cause these assholes love bragging, we’d just be getting the little fish when we want the big one.” Despite trying to maintain a professional stance, the Fed was starting to look pissed about these bad guys. Ray relaxed a little.
“What we really need is for someone to get in there and figure out who’s orchestrating it. These things never ‘just happen.’ There’s always someone pulling the strings. That’s where you come in.”
“And how am I going to help?”
“You are going to attend the next Neo-Nazi meeting, and you are going to make sure that you’re embraced into the fold. Understand?”
“Yeah,” Ray said. “Yeah.” Greatness, fucking great undercover job -- cozy up with Nazis.
“Now, this man,” Dooley started the tape rolling again, “is going to be your point of contact within the Jewish community.”
The view on screen was completely different now -- a lecture hall at Northwestern University in Evanston. Three people sat at a table up front -- one of them a rather smug-looking redhead who hadn’t yet realised comb-overs were a bad look, another one of them so obviously a university official that she might as well have had a cap and board on, and the third….
The third just had to be the best-looking man Ray had ever seen.
“The gentleman on the left,” Dooley said, “is Rabbi Fraser.”
“He doesn’t look like a rabbi,” Ray said, then flushed, feeling foolish. What did he expect a rabbi to look like?
“And you, Kowalski, don’t look like a cop….” Dooley smiled. “Fortunately for us.”
“Yeah, fortunate.” Ray furrowed his brow, seeing that on screen the Rabbi was holding his hands up in the air –- not up like surrendering, but gesturing as though guiding traffic -- fuck, he looks more like a cop than I do –- and graceful, controlled, like conducting an orchestra. “Can you turn the sound up on that?”
“Ah yes,” Dooley sighed. “The debate, unfortunately, turned ugly.” He looked apologetic. “You’ll have to get used to this kind of rhetoric. This was just before the discussion was called to an early halt.”
The noise from the audience came as a shock. Given the academic loftiness of Northwestern University, Ray hadn’t expected so much yelling and cursing. Okay, it was an open meeting, most of these people wouldn’t be students, but holy shit, this was America in the nineties, wasn’t it?
Not just that but -- Ray flinched at the language of violence -- “Christ killer!” someone was chanting. Fuck -- people still say that? I thought that one went out with the Middle Ages. The Rabbi was speaking in a calm tenor voice, as though he weren’t surrounded by madness. Fucking loonies, they’re fucking laughing at him. “I’m sure we can reason together…” At that point the raucous jeers raised to such a pitch that nothing Fraser said was audible. The woman who was trying to moderate the debate spread her hands out helplessly. Redhead Comb-Over declared, in a voice that carried above the jeers, “Professor Arthur Butz, of this very university, made it known in his book -- The Hoax of the Twentieth Century -- that the lying Jews….”
Dooley said “And then things got even uglier, as you can see.” One of the hecklers at the back of the room was about to swing a chair at a guy who had the look of a yeshivah student. An instant later --and how the hell did he get that far that fast -- Rabbi Fraser was there blocking the blow with his own body and falling to his knees at the impact.
God -- I gotta do this. I hate these bastards, and I’m gonna have to get in with’ em if I wanna stop ‘em.
“The other man on screen...”
The Fed surprised Ray by chuckling. “Yeah, but don’t call him that where anyone can hear you. He’s Richard Mansfield, a revisionist historian who considers himself an intellectual. He’s published a book denying the Holocaust, referencing the Arthur Butz book….”
“Oh, fucking hell.”
“And both books are now on your reading list.”
“Yeah, I was guessing they would be.” Ray scowled at Ginger Baldy. “I’ll see if I can get the fucker to sign it.”
“That’s a good idea,” Dooley said. “He responds very well to flattery.”
“Uh huh, most psychos do.”
Ray looked at the screen again, seeing Rabbi Fraser being helped up. Damn. The man was fast on his feet and the man was brave…and gorgeous, fucking gorgeous….
Whoa, what a thing to be thinking at a time like this. Ashamed of himself, Ray looked away from the screen. “Why’d you pick this rabbi as our point of contact?” he asked.
“Because he used to be a cop.”
That piqued Ray’s interest. “Why’d he stop being one?”
“Traumatic injury,” Dooley said. "Something with his back, something with his leg. Couldn't pass the reinstatement physical. And -- this part is off the record, mind you, but I think you ought to know -- he and his partner at the time had issues to work out…and they didn’t work ‘em out.”
Maybe some anti-Semite, Ray thought, willing to dislike the ex-partner. Shame about the reinstatement physical -- looked like he still had the instincts of a good cop. Calm, talking to those Nazis like they were reasonable human beings…and brave, using himself as a human shield to protect a citizen.
And -- just Ray’s luck -- hellaciously handsome. And whether that was going to be good luck or bad luck remained to be seen.