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The Inner CircleVolume 2: The Summerfields
By Edwin G. Rice
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2012 Edwin G. Rice
All right reserved.
The ominous word had been murmured by a young man alone, reading. Night had come; the only other sound was that of a late-fall storm, mounting in its fury as it moved across the city.
After marking a page in the book, he drew his heavy woolen cardigan sweater about him, rose from his chair and placed the book on a small table standing before the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves that filled the room's east wall. From there he stepped to the window where he drew back the drapery and for a moment peered into the night at the swirls of snow faintly visible in the dim light from the street. "Thankfully Sally will stay with her mother tonight. It's not safe to travel now," he thought.
Lionel Summerfield then turned his troubled but handsome face and intelligent eyes to the fireplace where he added another length of oak, ignoring, as he stood in silence, the roar of the wind and mix of rain and snow lashing against the windows. There for a moment he let the hypnotic effect of the flaming logs still his turbulent thoughts.
Silent minutes had passed when he again turned and fixed his eyes upon the sinister form of the Swastika centered on the book's cover. It was a book that had been written decades before, had immediately gained well deserved recognition; and then with the passage of time and the years of the Cold War it had passed into history where, despite the dire warnings it contained, it had rested ignored or forgotten by much of the world.
His thoughts began again: "The 'Nazi Manifesto,' I felt compelled to read it again.—Over the time since the end of the Second World War and the fall of the Third Reich we have learned much more about their detailed, comprehensive and long-term plans for infiltration into other countries and into their governments. Without question these plans were to continue even if the war were lost. It is imperative that we never forget that. There were high-placed people in Britain and here in the United States who were sympathetic to the Nazi ideology. Few of them still live; but their descendants and disciples are here.—Can we doubt that all these many years later there are such men among us today? The shadowy figures who possess great wealth and finance 'The Right' and its assault upon our democratic institutions; do their actions not reveal their true purpose?
"How can one possibly deny the close and near controlling-link between powerful corporations with inestimable wealth and the government? Hyper-nationalism, militarism and authoritarian control of all people and intolerance of all dissent were the cardinal tenets of the Third Reich and provide the very definition of fascism. Perhaps it is less evident, but I fear much of that is here today in their dialog; it is the 'manifesto' of the contemporary 'Right.'—A ruling oligarchy, Christian Religion for all, minorities targeted for discrimination, control of the courts and communications and a committed mass of the disaffected and angry who would serve them. Within in that mass there is ignorance, hatred, racism and a capacity for violence. Our nation, our democracy's greatest defense against their insidious advance is an educated and informed population. This 'The Right' knows and has begun their assault upon public education and upon the dissemination of accurate information. Misinformation and lies are commonplace on the once honorable mainstream communications media of radio and television. Sociopathic shills scream their invectives and hate in favor of the autocratic oligarchs. They would control the internet if they could;—will they ultimately?
"Also within the movement there are those who exhibit religious fervor.—But, is it religion; or is it no more than a faade obscuring its intended-role in the establishment of totalitarianism, and a ruling totalitarian regime? In our time it is still difficult to doubt, to question or to criticize the one who speaks with a religious tongue. For the demagogue it serves as his shield against question, challenge or reproach.
"Strangely diverse persons such as Sinclair Lewis and Huey Long years ago spoke warnings of fascism coming to America.— The writings of a few brilliant authors, English and American, have quietly again and again warned us for sixty years.—As long as I can remember, my father has recalled the ominous message presented in a play that had been written by a German seventy years ago. Portrayed in the play was the ominous and striking parallel in the methods used in the rise of a despotic Nazi dictator in Germany and in the rise to power of a Chicago gangster.
Turning away he again walked to the window where he stared unseeing into the darkness of the night and the storm.—There Lionel Summerfield voiced the dark thoughts that he knew, in the time to come, would be ever-present at the forefront of his consciousness:
"The threat is there; it is real.—The time is now;—or as my friend and brilliant reporter Dennis Johnson said when he spoke to me last spring after the debate with 'The Right,'—"It may be too late?"
Chapter TwoMorning had come; the work week had begun again.
"Mal-practice?" Lionel Summerfield said as he glanced down at the office memorandum that he had found waiting for him on his desk- top.— "In our firm, only Mr. Stanley and Mr. Abramson have handled cases of medical malpractice as far as I know. What can you tell me about this case Angela?"
"Happy Monday morning Mr. Summerfield; and first of all there is a message here for you from your father who wants to meet with you at lunch time tomorrow; that is if you are able. His message was on my voice-mail when I came this morning. Evidently he had called just before I came in. If I may say so, the tone of his voice,—well—it seemed to be unusually determined.—For once you had nothing scheduled at noon so I called back and confirmed that you would be there. We can reschedule it if there is something on your agenda of which I'm unaware."
"Thank you Angela, that's perfect. I was going to call him and, for that matter I was going to call my sister too; I want to meet with them."—For an instant he looked away and added, "We have much to talk about. I'm assuming it will be at Panera, our usual place."
"Yes, Mr. Summerfield."
Sensing preoccupation if not tension in Lionel's tone, Mrs. Stevens momentarily paused and studied his face before she began again.
"With respect to this case, it's a young woman, Mr. Summerfield. She was clearly nervous; she apologized for taking my time, then immediately came to the point of why she had come to your office and asked for an appointment. She had been to a Cosmetic Surgeon; she also referred to him as a Cosmetic Dermatologist. As very shortly you will read, she had a peeling procedure, developed a complicating infection and tried to obtain appropriate care for the complication. The physician never responded to her calls. She ended up in the hospital where she received intravenous antibiotic therapy which was followed by a course of oral antibiotics. Again as you read, it cost her wages and one of her jobs."
"Did she say how she happened to seek me as her attorney, or was she referred?"
"She said that she has met you; I asked her how. She is one of the servers at the café where you occasionally meet with a couple doctor-friends. Evidently you and the other men have visited with her some and she liked you. She simply overheard that you were a lawyer."
"Yes, I'm sure that I know whom you're describing; she's a very nice young woman. She's a hard worker who like so many now who are struggling to survive and to have a life."
After pausing for a moment and glancing at the week's schedule, Lionel Summerfield turned back to his secretary, "Angie, did she say what it was that she wished to achieve by suing?"
"Mr. Summerfield, she simply told me that she had no money to pay for the hospital costs, especially now that she has lost wages from her one job and literally lost the other job. Her hope was that she could recover enough to cover the hospital costs and what she has lost in wages. At the present she is out looking for a second job, if not a third. She said that she cannot make it the way things stand now. I told her that you did not as a rule handle medical mal-practice cases and that estates and some trial work were your regular case load."
Smiling but studying his secretary's expression closely Lionel asked, "Did she say anything else at all? Tell me how you felt regarding the legitimacy and the truthfulness of her concern? Before you answer my questions, let me say; Angie, you were quite taken by her weren't you? I can tell by the look on your face and your determined tone of voice."
First checking for a moment the notes that she held in her hand, Angela Stevens cast Lionel a somewhat pleading look; then nodding her head she replied, "Yes Mr. Summerfield, I was taken by her. I was impressed that she was a completely honest and forthright young woman. It was exactly the way she gave me an answer to your first question. Like everything else she simply came right out and said that she wasn't looking for a big settlement."
Neither Summerfield nor Angela spoke for a moment until she quietly said, "Somehow this case reminds a person of the debate which you and your father had with Mr. Dudley and that Reverend Davenport last spring, doesn't it?"
"Yes, Angie it does so very keenly. And, what is more, it illustrates how little it takes to wipe out some one such as she; someone fighting desperately to make ends meet while working in the service end of our economy. I suspect that neither her job as a server nor the job that she lost provided benefits of any kind. Certainly I doubt that she has any health coverage."
"You're right, she was working as a supermarket check-out-person evenings and on weekends. And, I must mention that she asked if she could pay the legal fee over a period of time."
"As I said, it is a struggle and literally for survival. You know, Angie I believe there is something else that is coming back to me now besides the fact that I hadn't seen her for a while. She had been overweight and was excited about telling Dr. Eastman, Dr. Richards and me how she had lost weight, 75 pounds to be exact, as part of a self-improvement plan.— I'll bet that she had saved for a long time, little bit by little bit for a procedure that she hoped would enhance her appearance, and give her a much needed personal lift."
With her expression one of hopeful expectation, Angela Stevens replied, "Mr. Summerfield, that is exactly what she told me."
Having paused and looked toward the window, he saw that after a brief lull snow had again begun to fall. Summerfield then slipped deep into thought for a time until after perhaps nearly a minute, he turned back to Angela speaking slowly: "Angela, it also reminds me of a conversation that was had that same evening after the debate. It was something my sister Nancy said about that despicable Jeremiah Davenport, how his misdeeds and hypocrisy cast a shadow over the legitimate clergymen of all the faiths. Her fiancé Dr. Eastman and I said that it was the same in our professions when physicians or lawyers were guilty of dishonest or unethical conduct."
Pausing again for a moment he added, "Yes, this certainly gives me an idea. First however Angie, I want to meet with my dad and sister and see how the rest of the week is shaping up. Certainly it's my hope and my expectation that we can see her later in the week, perhaps Friday.—You can call her and tell her that I will represent her, but that we'll call her with an appointment time for later in the week.—I won't forget and I'll let you know."
"I'll do that Mr. Summerfield. She'll be thrilled."
At the door Angela turned and quietly asked, "You've definitely decided to represent her Mr. Summerfield, and you haven't even spoken with her yet?"
Smiling Lionel replied, "Angie, you knew very well that I would."
"Thank you, thank you, Mr. Summerfield. — There is one question, "What will we do about a retainer and payments? She has little or no money I'm sure."
"There will be no retainer charge, or any other charge, Angie."
"Beaming, Angela, Lionel Summerfield's secretary closed the door behind her.
Again Lionel Summerfield turned to the window; only dimly was he aware of the steadily falling snow as his thoughts surged ahead. "It should soon end; I sense that we are nearing the back of the front and this is the last gasp of the system. Then the cold will follow.
"Last gasp; strange that I should have thought of or rather to have chosen that word. If only what lies ahead could be the last gasp of the 'Far Right.'— It's significant that my father called. His tone, was it serious? I know that it was, don't I? I'm certain that he has discovered something that he feels we must consider.
"My sister Nancy, I'll bet that she too is feeling a deepening concern. I want to hear directly from her what she once said about her concept, The 'Natural Enemy of Man.' I gather that it was entirely her idea. It is a daring, perhaps brilliant and frightening concept. Can it be verified as hereditarily determined?—What do we know presently about the heredity of severe character disorders such as sociopaths and psychopaths?
"Tomorrow then; each of us will bring something to the table.
"As my father said after the debate,—"There is no time to lose."
Chapter ThreeLionel Summerfield had arrived early, parked in the ramp west of the St. Louis Park Panera, then hustled along the half-block to the east, dodging as he moved ahead the scattered streams of water and mounds of melting wet snow. At the corner, knowing that he was early, he first glanced toward the caf then despite the raw northwest wind he turned north crossed the street and wove his way to the end of the double-row parking lot where he paused. There he raised the collar of his top coat and turned his eyes to the east. To his left was the small but surprisingly deep Wolf Lake, hidden away amidst the apartment buildings; before him was a broad but unique opening through the urban sky line that gave Lionel a full view of the retreating storm that had lashed at the city throughout the night.
Driven by the strong clearing- wind the 'back of the front' was pushing off to the east. The noon sun shone on the front's trailing mauve-colored clouds and to the southeast blue-black slants of cloud brushing along the horizon dropping a brief last flurry of snow. Urban though it was, the scene recalled to his mind the image of a fast-moving summer thunder storm sweeping across a vast open prairie.
"I wish that I could say that my thoughts were as fresh with a sense of renewal as this moist cool air and burst of sunshine. Not yet is it winter; but we have been forewarned that it is coming.— For our country the warning has also come; what will it be, a cold and heartless decline or a renewal of purpose and hope?
"Better check the time," he thought as with a gloved hand he pushed back his coat sleeve. "Dad should be arriving about now; he is always punctual and so is Nan; that is if she could come.—It's time."
Beyond the entrance to his right, near the fireplace, his peripheral vision caught the quick motion of his father's wave. He turned then paused for an instant as his eyes met the smiling and pretty face of his beloved younger sister. "How lovely she looks, married, happy and fulfilled with the past behind her; perhaps soon to be scarcely remembered," he thought as he returned her smile and moved to their table.
"Hi Dad, thanks for calling," he said as they shook hands. "I've been anxious to see you. I'll bet that you ordered for me; you know what I like and always choose."
"Yes Son, I did. Sit and relax; they should call us soon."
Having turned to his sister he brushed a light kiss across her cheek then took her hand, "And hi there Nan darling, you look fabulous; it's been too long; I've missed you and so has Sally."
Only a moment later Nancy's name was called signifying that their order was ready. "Dad you sit; Lionel and I can go get it. I would enjoy even a short walk with this guy whom I don't see often enough."
As brother and sister walked to the far end of the counter, Nancy quietly spoke at the same time slowing her pace while gripping Lionel's arm. "Lionel, have you talked to our mother? Before you answer, let me say that she called to say hello just before I went out the door today. She sounded down; no, I should say tense. There is something on her mind, or should I say something is going on with her; I'm sure of it."
As they paused at the counter where the server assembled the last portions of their lunch trays, Lionel turned to her, "Yes dear, I have. It was the same, a brief hello and a very brief conversation. Just as you do, I think that something is taking place; I just don't know what."
After first taking a deep breath, Lionel continued: "Nan, maybe she needs to speak to us about what happened years ago; perhaps I could say to unburden herself. I'm sure that we both understand how lonely she has been. Just the same when we meet with her the next time, I expect it to be difficult for her and for us too, just as it has always been through the years each time that we've seen her."
Excerpted from The Inner Circle by Edwin G. Rice Copyright © 2012 by Edwin G. Rice. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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