Jet is a delinquent from a wealthy Manhattan family. His favorite teacher at his exclusive school dies and is replaced by a mysterious German man. He tries to find out more about Heinrich while gri...
Jet ran to the street curb and hopped in Joe’s car beside Ivan. The boy didn’t even look up from a copy of Kierkegaard’s The Sickness Unto Death as they pulled away.
“I tried calling you last night. Haven’t you replaced your cell phone yet?” Joe asked.
“No. I was doing some investigating last night,” Jet replied. He was about to blurt out what he had found and toss the book about SS officers to the front seat.
“So are your parents flying in today or tomorrow?” Frances asked, turning to look at Jet.
“What? What do you mean?” Jet asked, stuffing the book into his backpack.
“Well, the party on Friday night. The post Thanksgiving fund raiser for the Link Foundation? Our parents are coming. We know they make you go to every one of those things,” Joe replied, guiding the car through traffic.
“I hope you don’t plan on making a spectacle of yourself like last time. After all, your parents donate the money to the local domestic violence shelters. You getting drunk and verbally abusive is not an appropriate way to get their attention,” Frances said.
“Well, let me tell you the dirty little secret. Only sixteen cents on the dollar ever gets to those shelters. The rest gets funneled back into Link Aviation. It’s all a big scam they use for tax purposes and public relations. And let me tell you, if you don’t like watching me get drunk and calling them out, stay home.”
“You didn’t know they were coming home did you?” Joe asked. Shame washed through Jet at the pitying tone in his best friend’s question.
“Nope,” Jet answered, bravado all drained. Jet’s face flushed as he turned to watch rain start drizzling against the car window.
“Jet, I don’t know why you feel you have to hurt yourself bothering them. It does no good, but it creates more animosity between you and your parents. Just think of yourself this time,” Frances said.
She patted his arm and turned back in her seat. Jet took a deep breath and looked down at his hands. They were shaking horribly with the unexpected, unpleasant news of his parents’ arrival.
“Today we must go over the homework very carefully. Many of you asked questions before the bell rang, which means I must have not done a very good job yesterday,” Mr. Chang called out brightly from the front of the classroom. The students all snickered at Mr. Chang’s good natured humbleness. “Let’s start with, Mr. Shimamura’s question on the third problem.”
The door opened and Dr. Gilmore appeared. “Sorry to interrupt, Mr. Chang, but I need to pull one of your students from class.”
“Most certainly, Dr. Gilmore.”
Dr. Gilmore turned to the students and gave Jet a somber look. Jet got up before the man even called his name and gathered his books. All the students shot him curious glances.
Jet followed Gilmore down the hallway for three steps before he asked, “My parents?”
Gilmore turned and nodded. “Normally I don’t like to get in the middle of these things, but your parents are in my office. They wanted to talk to me about where your grades are and your future aspirations.”
“What did you say?”
“You had better talk with them. Keep a cool head and come along.”
He followed Gilmore into his office and saw his parents: Guy and Antonia Link. His mother looked tanned and relaxed; she was dressed in one of her grossly expensive dresses. He noticed she was wearing her gold charm bracelet, each charm had something to do with aviation or flying. It was her homage to where her lavish lifestyle came from.
His father, on the other hand, looked annoyed. The man wore his tailored, slate gray suit, which meant he wanted to dominate the meeting. The man was a successful entrepreneur, a college lecturer, and a former NASA astronaut; he had never accepted ‘no’ as an answer.
His mother sprang to her feet, walked over, and gave Jet a stiff hug. Jet knew the gesture was for Gilmore’s sake. She said in smooth Italian, “I’ve missed you so much. We came back early from your Uncle Giovanni’s because we’re still worried about your school work.”
“Everything is fine, mother,” Jet replied in English, unwilling to play her little games in front of Gilmore.
“That is true, Mrs. Link. His grades are back up in every subject except for chemistry,” Gilmore interrupted.
“Has he had any more problems with the instructors?” Her demeanor switched from gracious to tart.
“Well, there was some adjustment to the new foreign language instructor, but that got smoothed out rather quickly. As a matter of fact, Mr. Heinrich has offered to start Jet on Farsi after midterm. This would be a wonderful way to stretch your son’s talent even further.”
“It’s a cheap trick, not a talent,” his father snapped.
“But it would be his twelfth, fluent language: written and spoken. That is a huge accomplishment for someone his age.”
“Oh. We were counting on him taking a new direction now that you’ve hired a new instructor. We really didn’t care for Miss Cathy’s suggestions about his college career. We had hoped you hired someone who understood the type of students you cater to,” his mother explained.
Jet’s hands curled into fists as his chest got tight. He glanced at Gilmore; the kindly headmaster looked flummoxed.
“We’re not here to mince words, Gilmore. What we expect is you to put pressure on him to get his grades, all his grades, back up. We want him to stop wasting time with track and extra languages. What we want you to do is refocus his energy into business and math. It’s time for everyone to stop indulging him.”
“I’ve already got college set. I’m going to go study foreign languages,” Jet said.
“Excuse us, Dr. Gilmore,” Guy said, eyes locked on Jet. It had been six months since he had seen that look in his father’s eyes. He heard Gilmore leave and his body trembled in ire and dread.
Jet’s father shoved him into a chair and got into his face. “Who the hell do you think you are? It’s always something with you! You think you can test me? Ever since you were a small kid you’ve been nothing but a smart mouthed brat and a pain in my ass.”
Jet knew if he opened his mouth at this point, it would lead to more trouble. Jet tried to look away, but his father clenched his jaw and forced him to look up. “When I grew up in Montana I used to break horses. You think I can’t break you too?”
Panic welled up in Jet’s stomach; his father had never been so physical with him outside of their home. “What do you want me to do?”
“It’s done,” his father said, standing upright. “We’ve canceled your plans at that trashy school Cathy made you enroll in. After you graduate, you’re going to go live with Giovanni for a year. Then you’ll come back and go to Duke. I’ve pulled in every favor to get you in there. You’ll be majoring in business. I don’t give a shit if you want to minor in a foreign language, but you need to get ready to work at Link Aviation. I’m not going to let my son embarrass me by being some shiftless nobody.”
“But it’s not what I want to do.”
“Really? Then what do you want to do, Mr. Big Shot? Go ahead, tell us.”
“I don’t know what I want to do yet, but I want to choose what I want to do with my life. I may want to work in aviation, but I don’t know enough yet. I want some time at college to figure it out.”
“Figure it out? What’s to figure? You’re our son. You are to do what we tell you because of the vast responsibility that comes with what we’re prepared to give you,” Antonia said. “Be smart for once.”
“Just because I’m your son, doesn’t make me your slave. I’ll be eighteen soon so it won’t matter what you want,” Jet snapped, leaping to his feet.
“Oh really? We’ve consulted Dr. Gaea and Mr. Achilles about your situation. If you go against our plans for you, Dr. Gaea is willing to sign off on a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder. After that, Mr. Achilles will go to court on our behalf and have you committed to a private institution in Palermo.”
“You can’t do that! I’m not crazy and you can’t pack me off to Sicily like I am!”
“Think about all the stupid things you’ve done over the years. The drinking, the self injuries, and the inconsistent behavior at this school. It won’t be a problem for a court to declare you a danger to yourself in Sicily or in America. We’ve checked,” Antonia said.
“I’m doing what I want to do. I’ll get a job and work my way through college if I have to!”
Guy’s fist sunk into Jet stomach. Jet fell back to the chair, winded. A sharp punch to his face rock his head to the right.
“Guy! Stop! Not here,” Antonia said, her eyes darting towards the door. Jet was too stunned his father had hit him in a public place. Guy’s finger appeared in front of Jet’s nose.
“You have until Friday to change your mind. Get your head straight.”
With that his parents left in a flurry. The throbbing in Jet’s face along with the pain in his stomach prompted him to hurry and check his face before Gilmore or anyone could ask about it. He quickly stumbled along the empty hallway to a bathroom. He went to a mirror and winced at the purpling bruise on his cheek and jaw.
He knew Joe and Frances would fuss over him, but he would lie to them and they would pretend to believe it like every other time. It was his instructors like Mr. Dwambee and Mr. Britain he worried about; they never were gullible.
“Mr. Link, stay after class,” Mr. Heinrich called out after he dismissed everyone. Jet walked over to his desk and worked up a nasty frown. Once everyone was out of the classroom, Mr. Heinrich fetched a pen light from his desk door and waved at Jet to sit in a chair. He did so, getting baffled.
“Open your mouth and let me have a look. That knock to your face could have damaged something.”
Jet did as he was told and let the instructor look at his teeth with the light. Mr. Heinrich frowned and clicked the light back off.
“Everything looks okay, but your wisdom teeth are coming in. You should get them removed soon.”
“Now you’re a dentist?”
“I had a very dear friend who taught me everything he knew about teeth. It was, I guess you could call it, a hobby for about eight months.”
Jet leaped out of the chair. “To start with, it’s none of your business! I was horsing around with Joe and he elbowed me. Dwambee was all over my ass about it already and Britain will give me hell in about three minutes. I don’t need you jumping my case too.”
“I never asked you what happened because I knew you would lie anyway. You’ll tell me when you want me to know. I just wanted to make sure you were weren’t hurt.”
Mr. Heinrich’s candor took Jet off guard. He continued in a softer tone. “The other thing, there is something strange about you. I’ve been doing some reading. I found a picture of a man that looks identical to you. I don’t know what’s going on, but there’s a lot more to you. Something unnatural.”
Mr. Heinrich laughed and shook his head. He patted Jet’s shoulder and said, “Listen, you’re going through a lot of stress right now. Your imagination is probably racing with...”
Jet shrugged off Heinrich’s hand and glared. “I’m not fucking nuts.”
He turned and walked out of the classroom. Jet trudged towards Britain’s classroom and took a large sigh before he walked in.
Jet’s mother was passed out from Vodka in the entertainment parlor by the time he got home. His father was gone so he was able to slip off to his room. He picked up the phone that was connected to the land line; he dialed and waited.
“Hey, Ivan. Feel like doing me a favor?”
“What did you have in mind?”
“Can you hack into the school computer and tell me were Mr. Heinrich lives?”
“Why do you want to know?”
“Because I think he’s killing students and keeping them in his crawl space,” Jet said heavy on the sarcasm, rolling his eyes.
“You don’t need be so caustic. Let’s see... He lives in that building called the Needle. You know, on Oak? Apartment 4.”
“Don’t tell your sister or anyone I called,” Jet warned. He hung up the phone, knowing that Ivan always kept secrets when asked.
Jet kept quiet over the next two days. His father mainly stayed at his downtown office, while his mother spent time visiting with people in their social circle. Wednesday at school was chaos because of the impending holiday.
Jet avoided looking and talking to his instructors and friends. To his consternation, he found out that Mrs. Shimamura had talked to Mrs. Link and had arranged for Helen to be Jet’s date at the Friday fund raiser. He blew off the news because he had a larger concern.
Jet did his homework and counted down the minutes for Thanksgiving while he sat in his room, staring at the photos reprinted in the book about SS officers. He listened to music and drew random patterns in his notebooks, while trying to talk himself into a reasonable, logical explanation about Mr. Albert Heinrich.
On Thursday Jet only came out for the large turkey dinner. His parents watched him, but made no comments. They left to meet the Arnouls at the Metropolitan Opera after the meal. Jet went to bed early; he was too frazzled from trying to puzzle out what he was going to tell his parents tomorrow.
He had come up with half a dozen crazy schemes, including taking a wad of cash and running off to Mexico. None of it seemed reasonable. All he knew was that he was determined to live his life the way he chose. He just had to find a way.
He laid flat on his stomach and drifted off into a dark lull. Iciness crept up his back; an excited anticipation filled him as he felt someone rest their weight on him. That strong odor of cigarettes and earth filled his nose as he surrender his neck to soft kisses. A thrill ran through stomach as cool hands rubbed his shoulders, he grew lustful and drowsy at the same time.
A sudden panic tried to work its way through the euphoria. Who was this? How did he get in to his bedroom? Jet felt lustful and extremely drowsy during these encounters, therefore, he wondered if he was being drugged? He asked this because of the two sharp pricks to his left wrist. Mostly, he was afraid this stranger in the night was having unprotected sex with him and there was nothing he had done to stop it twice before.
Jet tried to struggled against the man on top of him, but a heavy weigh pushed him on his stomach down on the mattress. The words 'Dies ist ein Traum. Schlaf’ pushed into his head as the numbing sensation hit his wrist again. Jet felt his will slip away as he fell into a deep sleep.
Friday morning Jet spent tracking down Mr. Heinrich’s apartment in spite of how weak and famished he felt. The Needle wasn’t hard to find. It was not a tall apartment complex, but it was unique because of the tapering shape. Jet looked up at it and was taken aback to realize the building had very few windows. The few windows were heavily tinted to match the silver of the building.
There was a rather muscular doorman wearing shades and a dark suit; he reminded Jet of a secret service man. He walked up to the man with a plan to get in. He told the man he had forgotten to get a book on elementary Farsi from Mr. Heinrich.
The doorman informed him that non-residents were not allowed in during daylight hours because of a several break-ins when residents were away at work. The man offered to take down Jet’s name and leave it for Mr. Heinrich.
Jet shook his head and said he would call back. He walked off and set up a stake out at the coffee shop across the street. Around three in the afternoon he mentally shook himself and wondered if he was starting to go crazy. He had never stalked anyone before in his life. He took a last sip of his coffee and was about to leave when he saw his quarry.
He didn’t even think out what he was doing. He just followed the German man down the street. He was startled to see Mr. Heinrich get in the back of a huge limousine. Jet quickly hailed a taxi and got the driver to follow. Jet was surprised and a little thrilled to find himself at LaGuardia. He paid the cabby and followed Mr. Heinrich into the airport.
It only served to intrigue Jet more when he saw Mr. Heinrich check the time on a Romanian flight. He followed the man down to the gate and ducked behind a pillar. Mr. Heinrich unfurled a newspaper and looked over his shoulder towards the pillar Jet was hiding behind. Jet’s heart thudded painfully for a half a minute, then disappointment hit him when Mr. Heinrich waved him over. Jet trudged over to the smirking man and gave him a wry expression.
“You are one lousy private investigator.”
“How long did you know I was following you?”
“The minute you walked away from my doorman. Besides, you stand out with that hair color. Next time wear a hat or something.”
“Thanks for the tip,” Jet said sullenly as he sunk into a chair.
“Are you so bored you have to follow around your teachers during the holidays?”
“Kind of. I just...”
Jet was interrupted by a woman’s voice over the PA system. “Flight 1890 from Bucharest has arrived.” The announcement was then made in a language Jet had never heard before.
“Romanian,” Albert answered.
“It sounds kind of like Latin.”
“Romanian hails from Latin; you would be able to pick it up easily because of your skill. You may as well come and meet my friend.”
“No, you know, I’m sorry I followed. I don’t know what got in to me. I’m sorry I was so rude,” Jet said.
Albert waved his gloved hand and smiled. “Not a problem. It’ll give you a chance to pick up some Romanian.”
Jet relaxed and followed Albert to the door as several people ambled through the gate. A shorter man dressed in black headed their way, but there was something impressive about the man that Jet couldn't define.
The man greeted Mr. Heinrich in Romanian. Jet could pick out 'Albert' and could tell it was a warm greeting, just from his Latin studies. Jet watched Albert and the man grip each other's arms with warmth and friendship. They parted and turned to Jet.
“Count, this is one of my students, Jet Link. He’s my best student, thanks to his former instructor. He is quite amazing and very bright. He's seventeen years old and is fluent in eleven languages. After Christmas I promised to teach him Farsi. Jet, this is Francesco Ragoczy, Also know as Count Saint-Germain. His family is very old. You could even say that Francesco and I are distant relations of a sort.”
“Wow. Are you a genuine Count?”
The man gave a pleasant laugh and a bright smile. “It’s a very old title my friend Albert flatters me with. It's a wonderful pleasure to meet such an intelligent young man,” the man said warmly. Jet shook the man’s gloved hands and was instantly charmed by the man's sincerity.
“Thank you, Sir.” Jet was speechless at Mr. Heinrich's compliments. There was a part of Jet that stung from the fact that his parents refused to say the same thing about him.
“Let’s quickly get to the Needle. I brought your necessities from Berlin, Albert. Also, Roger was able to gather that information you desired. It would seem that the person you seek did come through New York Port Authority five months ago like you suspected, but the trail has gone cold after that, my friend.”
Jet watched Mr. Heinrich’s eyes narrow; a hardened glint came to those eyes behind the tinted glasses. “Thank you, Count. If we could drop off my student then we can have a more open discussion.”
Jet listened closely and started to trace the Romanian conversation between the Count and Mr. Heinrich. It would seem that his German instructor was seeking some sort of justice or accounting. The Count advised him in a positive manner. Bolivia was mentioned. The thing that chilled Jet was the name 'Van Bogart' was whispered from the Count.
Jet lowed his face. The mention of the name Van Bogart was a confirmation unlike anything Jet could have hoped for. He was now certain that some how Captain Heinrich Stoller and Mr. Albert Heinrich were the same man.
To be continued.