Casanova and the Florentine Countess – Excerpt 5

  I wandered over to the table where Falcone and his friends were gambling. I stood on the side lines  watching for a little while, there was no doubt in my mind that Falcone was cheating, I was disgusted, he wasn’t even a good cheat. To someone of my knowledge and ability his performance was pitiful.

I watched a little while longer, then asked if I might be permitted to join in their game. I have the feeling that Falcone was just about to refuse me when one of his friends threw in his hand and stated, ‘I’m off abed, I’ve lost enough for tonight!’ and left the table.

‘Well, Signori? it appears you may join us, will you introduce yourself?’ ‘Signor’s’ I addressed the company, I am Giacomo Casanova, a Venetian, I’m in Florence visiting old friends, the Duchess, being one of them.

‘I am Giuseppe Falcone, My friends are Benedetto Cattoni, Michaelangelo Ruffio and Angelo Cavello’ he stated as he introduced me to the table. All of his friends made me welcome to join them. The only one who seemed to have reservations was Falcone himself, but that came as no surprise, maybe he knew me by repute.

They were playing Bestia, a game I was particularly familiar with. But I wasn’t playing to win, i was playing to lure Falcone in to the trap I was setting for him. I was quite happy to play for high stakes, unbeknown to anyone but myself and my man, Leonardo, I had purloined a bag of gold ducati from the Lupino Palazzo.

My plan was to lose a couple, win one, lose several more, lose enough to make Falcone think that I was a very poor gambler, but also one with a purse full of gold. I studied his face, he had fallen for my ploy, now to start turning the screws.

(C) Damian Grange 2017

 

Double in Trouble – Excerpt 19

  ‘I’m afraid the answer to that, is yes and no, I’ve been flattering Mayhew to get him to open up, but every time I’m on the verge, Schultz steps in and silences him.’ I answered sadly. ‘So, what have you found out?’ enquired Kat.

‘Mayhew has assured me that the warheads are safe and in Sergei’s care. Palenkov’s kidnapping is also left in Sergei’s supposedly capable hands. I just hope Palenkov isn’t aware of Sergei’s double-dealing or I’m in bother,’ I stated in reply.

‘According to the information we have on file, Sergei is a Bulgarian, they are like the Sicilian’s, Vendetta is a way of life, he won’t be acting alone his whole family will be involved. What Palenkov did to that child, made it the business of the entire family to seek revenge, they will not rest until Palenkov has paid with his life!’ assured Kat.

‘One small thing is nagging at the back of my mind, what if Sergei’s relatives grab me by mistake, I have no wish to pay for his misdemeanours,’ I said and meant every word. ‘According to Mayhew’s planning, Palenkov should be in their safe-keeping before we leave for the auction, which by the way, will be held in East Germany,’ Replied Kat.

‘How did you get to know all this?’ I queried, I admit I was impressed. ‘We have tapped the Office phone, its not brilliant, but it’s another source of information,’ Kat Replied. ‘So there are no concerns at all that my identity might be compromised.’ I asked. ‘None at all’ Replied Kat, ‘Palenkov will be imprisoned or possibly, even dead!’

(C) Damian Grange 2017

 

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 18 )

  To my surprise and delight I secured the position, I was now resident Physician at the Whitechapel Infirmary. I sold my surgery in South Kensington. incurring a small loss, I had only myself to blame, no one wants to buy a run – down practice.

I found a sound, but slightly dilapidated house in the better part of Whitechapel, if indeed there was such a thing, but it suited my purpose, it was within walking distance of the Infirmary.

I advertised for a couple to live in, Cook / Housekeeper and Valet / Handyman, the only applicants were the McGinty’s. Their references were not impeccable, but then neither were mine, so I decided to give them a chance.

Mrs McGinty was a treasure, who soon proved her worth, her husband, was he had stated an ex- soldier, I couldn’t imagine anything less soldier like, both in his bearing and his shiftless ways. But even McGinty proved to have his uses, as it turned out.

And so, here I was in the Spring of Eighteen Eighty-Five making a fresh start to my life. Isabelle was all but forgotten. The important thing now was to regain my reputation as a Physician. I would make the trustees of the Whitechapel Infirmary, proud that they had seen fit to employ me.

Mrs McGinty was a wonderful cook, and with a full meal inside me I soon forsook the longing for cheap gin, not only that but I had my reputation to restore. Roly could have his Harley Street Practice, peddling placebos to elderly dowagers. But I was in Whitechapel, here there were real people, with real ailments, here I was needed!

(c) Damian Grange 2017

raoul 2Raoul 1

 

        Aces of W.W.1

       Raoul Gervais

           Lufbery

 

Raoul Gervais Lufbery, although not the first American to join the famed Lafayette Escadrille, he was probably the most successful. Lufbery was born in France, of French parentage on 14th March 1885 and emigrated to America with his parents at age six.

At age seventeen he ran away from home in search of adventure, his travels took him through Europe to the Middle East, back to America and finally to the Philippines as a rifleman with the U.S. Army.

In 1920, He journeyed through South East Asia, in Saigon he met a fellow countryman, Marc Pourpe, an Aviator. Pourpe was touring with a Bleriot Monoplane to show the inhabitants of France’s far flung empire, the wonder of Aviation.

The young Lufbery  was suitably impressed and persuaded Pourpe to take him on as his mechanic. The pair were in France when war broke out, Pourpe immediately enlisted in the Air Force. Lufbery being an American had first to join the Legion Etrangere then transfer to the Air Force.

Within weeks Lufbury was serving with Pourpe in Escadrille N23, when his patron was killed in action, Lufbery was granted permission to fly. He soon got over his initial clumsiness and became a proficient pilot.

On 24th May 1916 he was transferred to the Lafayette Escadrille. Success came quickly and he soon had four victories. On October 12th he was promoted to Adjutant and scored his fifth victory. He was awarded the British Military Cross, along with the French Croix De Guerre and Medaille Militaire.

During his time with the Lafayette Escadrille, Lufbury was always associated with the Escadrilles two lion cub mascots Whisky and Soda, He had many photographs with them as above. I believe he actually procured Whisky, but I don’t have documentary proof.

When the Americans Finally entered the war, Lufbery was promoted to Major in the U.S. Air Service but remained with the Escadrille. On the 5th of January 1918 he was sent to the new base at Issoudon in an administrative position. Later Lufbury was transferred to the 95th Aero Squadron, then shortly after sent to take command of the 94th Aero Squadron Flying Nieuport 28’s.

On the morning of Sunday the 19th of May, Lufbery took off to intercept a lone enemy two seater, he made one attack, then swerved it seemed to clear a jammed machine gun, while the men of his new command watched from the ground, to their horror they saw Lufbury’s aircraft burst in to flames. In desperation he climbed out of the burning cockpit and tried to control the plane astride the fuselage, but all in vain, he plunged to his death from 3,000 feet. A tragic end to a valiant Airman.

Lufbury had he survived, would no doubt have become the foremost American Ace, according to his fellow Airmen In The Lafayette Escadrille, the 16 kills he was credited with were just the tip of the iceberg, according to their reckoning it could have been anything from 25 to 60 more, putting him well in front of Eddie Rickenbacker’s 26 kills. Lufbury wasn’t in it for the glory, he just wanted to get the job done.

(C) Damian Grange 2017

Photographs – Courtesy of Pinterest

 

 

 

Casanova and the Florentine Countess – Excerpt 4

  I asked the Duchess, ‘Would she mind awfully, if she could point out Signora Falcone to me?’ ‘A pleasure!’ she replied, ‘The handsome young man in the red satin jacket.’I looked in the direction That she had signalled and I picked him out immediately.

He was handsome, a little gaudy for my taste, but I could see why a woman might take too him, he was obviously among friends, he was bragging about some conquest he had made, he was obviously not a gentleman like myself, a gentleman never tells. But then I have never needed too, my prowess as a lover precedes me.

I took my leave of the Duchess and moved nearer to the gaming table where Falcone and his friends were gambling. They were playing Bestia, a game I knew well, I stood for a while and watched them play. Falcone was apparently having a winning streak, I watched him scoop four pots on the run. His friends grumbled about his run of luck, but to me it was obvious, he was cheating.

From where I stood, I could not be 100% certain but I had an idea he was using a marked deck. His friends had all been drinking heavily so they probably had not noticed when he switched decks. Bestia played in the Italian style uses a pack of Forty Cards In Four Suits. It would not be that difficult to mark them.

So, now I had the measure of the man, Philanderer, Braggart, Cheat and I feel sure he has a myriad of other faults. Normally I would turn a blind eye, but he his abusing the hospitality of an old and very dear friend and he has already misused another of her guests. He will have to be taught a lesson and who better to teach him than the Master, Giacomo Casanova!

(C) Damian Grange 2017

 

Gamble01
Photograph – Courtesy of Pinterest

 

 

Double in Trouble – Excerpt 18

  ‘You have no cause for concern, Old boy, Piped up Mayhew, ‘Once the deal is struck, we’ll give them Palenkov on a plate!’ ‘Do you blame me for feeling a little insecure, after all, my head is the one on the block, if this all goes tits up!’ I reminded them, not for the first time.

‘Time to get back to your Russian, Old boy, you worry too much!’ stated Mayhew. He summoned Olga, and we worked at it till around 5p.m. then Mayhew said, ‘Call it a day at that, be back here at 10 tomorrow morning, we’ll be here waiting,’ I thanked Olga and picked up my notes and headed for the door, i wanted to get out of there.

The moment i got home, I rang Kat, I needed to see her urgently. She said,  ‘No problem! I’ll be there at 7.30’ I thanked her and rang off. I sat and scratched my head, trying to remember everything that I had managed to trick Mayhew in to disclosing.

I was just about sorted when the door-bell rang, It was Kat as expected, but she was not alone, should I be concerned or was he one of the good guys too. ‘Hello again, Jim, This is Tommy Holland, he’s in charge of our back up, he’s up to scratch with what I know, have you more for me?’

‘Possibly !, Mayhew is so full of himself, flatter his ego and he’ll tell you anything, if Schultz wasn’t there keeping watch, I could have probably have got you a signed confession, he talks the talk but he’s as thick as four short. ‘Would planks be the word you were looking for?’ interrupted Tommy Holland, I took to him immediately.

‘Oh! you know him, then? I queried. ‘I do!’ said Tommy, ‘He’s a pompous prick who would betray his own Mother for a pat on the back, He belongs in a cell!’ Yes! I thought, I’m sure Tommy and I would get along fine. Kat asked, ‘Why had I contacted her, did I have more information.

(C) Damian Grange 2017

Jack The Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 17 )

  When i returned that night, they had both gone, I presumed together. I had no inkling as to whether this was their first time or if it had been going on for longer. It mattered not. I was rid of her, heartbroken but rid of her! And So, I did what I think men in my position have done since time immemorial, I took to drink!

I had never been much of a drinker, but now I found I had an enormous thirst, a thirst that only cheap gin could satisfy. Needless to say, my practice began to suffer, no one wants to have faith in a Doctor that looks worse than they do and reeks of gin.

Fortunately for me, someone contacted my Father and he came and took me in hand, he was probably the only one who could, I had scant respect for anyone else. Slowly he weaned me off the gin and helped me get myself together.

It became obvious to both of us that I could no longer practice in South Kensington. My reputation was such, that no respectable person would entertain me. Those were the depths I had fallen too through my own folly. I determined to get my life back on track.

My Father, bless him, suggested that I should immediately sell my practice, whilst I could still obtain a reasonable sum for it, then use the money to buy property in a less fashionable area of London. London had bought me my share of misery, but I had no desire to return to the country. If I were to progress in my chosen career it had to be in London, nowhere else would suffice.

I was on the look- out for suitable employment, when in the Medical Gazette I came across an advertisement for a Doctor at the Whitechapel Infirmary. It seemed that the position had been advertised for several weeks, they might be willing to take a chance on someone with my background, I may have made mistakes but I am still a qualified Physician, I am in fact over qualified for the position they are offering.

But nonetheless, I will apply, I have to start somewhere, Why not Whitechapel !

(C) Damian Grange 2017

Casanova and the Florentine Countess – ( Excerpt 3)

  The vision in satin replied, ‘ I am the Countess Di Angelo, and I have need of your special skills, I am told you can be trusted with secrets?’ Why not! all lovers keep secrets and as you may have heard, I have had many lovers!’

‘I am well aware of your skills in the bedchamber, but the task I had in mind for you was on the gaming table, a place where you possess certain skills?’ was her reply. ‘ So, what favour do you require from me, and naturally what do i receive in return, you are a very attractive woman with much to offer a man of my kind!’ I answered tentatively.

‘I, foolishly gave a present to a young Signori of my acquaintance, he thought that we were to become lovers, he became a little silly and started bragging about it to his friends, if I do not retrieve the jewel before my husband returns, I am compromised, I will pay you either in Ducati or in kind, if you retrieve my property!’ was her answer.

‘And the name of the young Signori?’ I queried. ‘ His name is Guiseppe Falcone, he is downstairs carousing with his friends, chances are he may already be at the gaming tables, just ask? he is well known there, and remember my words, you will profit from this one way or another!’ as she made that last statement, she brushed her lips lightly against mine, and I savoured her perfume, there and then, I knew my price!

We parted, and I made my way downstairs to the gaming tables, as I entered the room I encountered my old lover, the Duchess di Milano, ‘ Giacomo, so good of you to visit an old friend, you were always welcome in my heart and my bedchamber too!’ ‘It’s a great pity the Duke didn’t share that sentiment,’ I looked around furtively, ‘So, I am safe to visit?’ ‘Of course he’s away on Government business somewhere?’ she replied.

‘Can i take it that you recommended me to the Contessa?’ I asked. ‘Of course, she has no one else to turn too, you arrived just at the right time, If you get her out of this scrape I can assure you she will reward you generously, she is a very loving and generous young lady, do her this service, and her bedchamber is yours!’

‘And you have no objections, This is your Pallazzo!, I made a pretence of being morally indignant, but I got the distinct impression that I was convincing no one, I’m afraid after sharing her bed so often, the Duchess, knew me all too well!

(C) Damian Grange 2017

Double in Trouble –  Excerpt 17

  At this moment in time, my prime concern was mastering the Russian language. Schultz was the problem of British Intelligence, I just hope when this deal is over they get to Schultz, before he gets to me.

I keep trying to prime Mayhew, If I worked on him I was sure to hear something I shouldn’t. The man was an idiot, so puffed up and full of his own perceived importance, If Schultz wasn’t there to babysit, I’m certain he would tell me anything I wanted to know, just to boost his somewhat fragile ego.

I had my doubts at the time, but on reflection, I’m sure that Kat is right Mayhew for all that he think’s he’s running the show, is about as expendable as I am, once the scam is over.

I say scam, they are talking major arms deals, but up to now I have seen nothing. The A.K 47’s the fake Mujaheddin were carrying were probably film prop, and even if they were real, they would amount to next to nothing in this game. the stakes are a little higher than machine guns.

I asked Mayhew, ‘We are going to an awful lot of time and expense, can you totally trust this Sergei character to deliver, or will he sell you out if he get’s a higher bidder?’ Surprisingly, it was Schultz who answered in a slightly guttural Jewish accent, ‘Sergei wants to see Palenkov destroyed, once the Warheads are sold, Palenkov will be a dead man walking. ‘ I only have one problem with that, to all intents, I am Palenkov! I stated angrily.

(C) Damian Grange 2017

Jack the Ripper – A Love Story ( Excerpt 16 )

  I hadn’t so much hurt her physically, but I had hurt her pride. I had broken her, she thought that she could belittle me, treat me like a fool. Well, now she knew different, to hell with her! at that moment I knew that our marriage was as good as over.

We were both hurting and neither of us was prepared to accept the responsibility for why we were at loggerheads. I took to staying out drinking to hide my sorrows, and she on her part avoided me wherever possible. It was a situation with no happy solution.

Then one fateful day, I came home unexpectedly for some medicine I needed for a patient. As I stood in the hallway, I could hear noises from her bedroom, I had taken to sleeping in another room.

I opened the door, and there she was in our marital bed, naked and making love with Roly, my so called best friend. Now I know why he was so keen to call round whilst I was engaged with my patients.

I was livid, betrayed by my wife and my so called best friend. I grabbed Roly and pulled him off her, I furiously mouthed, ‘If you want your whore? take her! I have no more use for her!’ they both made an attempt to calm me, but I was having none of it, I turned on my heel and stormed out, still seething.

(C) Damian Grange 2017