CHAPTER FIVE HUNDRED and SEVENTY-FOUR
Monday morning — 9:35 a.m.
Always delighted to play a part, Bernie was hamming it up as US Air Force Sergeant Cliff Mauer’s aged great-grandfather. Bernie feet shuffled. He bent forward as if his spine couldn’t hold up his weight. He relied heavily on Cliff, who had instinctively slipped his hand under Bernie’s elbow, and the ancient cane they’d found in a closet at the farmhouse they’d rented.
They were dressed as American tourists. They wore jeans, T-shirts with logos on them, and their most American jackets. Cliff had to laugh when Bernie pulled out a floppy hat.
“Works every time,” Bernie had said with a wink.
Cliff and Bernie were touring Łodź today with US Army Major Joseph Walter as their driver. The hope was to draw some of the attention and heat away from the team heading into the tunnel.
“Now my boy,” Bernie said, patting Cliff’s hand. “We’re going to take our time today.”
Cliff stifled a chuckle at Bernie’s shaky voice. Bernie glanced at him and gave a grin.
“I was surprised to see Seth going with the tunnel team,” Cliff said.
“Seth knows a thing or two about tunnels,” Bernie said.
“How so?” Cliff asked.
“When he was just a kid, he tricked his mother into letting him join the military,” Bernie said. “He and his buddy, Mitch, spent a few years in the tunnels at Cu Chi.”
Cliff shrugged and shook his head.
“Is that like the tunnels in Afghanistan?” Cliff asked.
“Something like that,” Bernie said. “He actually did much of the training of the men who worked those Afghan tunnels.”
“Seth?” Cliff asked.
“I thought he was just a rich guy who played the piano,” Cliff said.
“He’s a tad more complicate than that,” Bernie said with a nod.
They fell silent for a moment while Bernie focused on his slow movement across the ground. He’d always been a fast walker. This kind of walking took excruciating patience for him. He’d never bother if it weren’t for their audience sitting in a car just out of sight.
“So your grandfather was one of …” Bernie said. “Do you know?”
“I’m not sure,” Cliff said.
Bernie gave him a sad nod. US Army Major Joseph Walter caught up with them from parking the car. He fell in on the other side of Bernie.
“Still there,” Joseph said in a low tone.
“Let them watch,” Bernie said. “We are tourists. That is all.”
Joseph shot Cliff a look behind Bernie’s back.
“I didn’t believe you when you said that if you came here they would follow you,” Joseph said.
Bernie gave a nod in agreement.
“I am an old man,” Bernie said. “Taking my friend’s grandson to visit his history.”
Once again, Cliff had to force himself not to laugh. Bernie was good, really good. Bernie glanced at Joseph.
“Do you know the history here?” Bernie asked Joseph.
Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…
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