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Enough Glory

By Robert Leslie Bellem

 Rostoff took all Macklin's blows and still kept coming, like nothing human 

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 5 (UP)—District
Attorney Buron Fitts said today he had obtained
evidence that several murders have been
committed on the Pacific Coast in the course of
Communist party infiltration activities. He said
the evidence would be presented to a grand jury

Dispatch in the New York Times
August 6, 1940

HE HAD a hunch there'd be trouble tonight. Men getting hurt: himself among them, maybe. He advanced on the platform. The hall hummed with an electrical tension he could feel almost physically, like a warning touch. It was something to make you afraid if you were a coward. Or to make you all the more steadfast if you believed in your message, as Shell Macklin did.

His friend Dave Obrowski from the stockroom of the Amalgamated Motors plant was introducing him. Doing a loud job of it. A little too loud:

"Our next speaker is a man we all know and respect. Nobody could call him un-American; his father fought in the war to save democracy. He's been in the machine tool division of Amalgamated Motors eight loyal years . . ."

Shell Macklin frowned. He didn't like this preamble. It sounded too much like an apology for him. And he needed no apologies for what he had to say. This was America. A man had a right to talk if he wanted to. That was the meaning of free speech, wasn't it?

He felt like a green boxer climbing into the ring. Jittery. There were a lot of strangers in the crowded hall; fellows he didn't recognize. Beefy lugs who muttered among themselves. They looked like cops. Or hired gunhands.

Obrowski kept talking. ". . . been a laboring man all his life. He knows the laboring man's problems. He loves the United States as much as we all do, but . . ."

There it was again. Apology. Fear. Maybe Obrowski sensed the same tension Shell Macklin felt. And Obrowski was a little fellow with a limp earned in a shop accident. Not much use in a fight. Even a guy with two good legs and two good dukes would need a lot of moxie to tangle with those bruisers in the first few rows.

Obrowski finally ran down: "I give you that patriot and worker for the Cause, Shell Macklin." He stepped back.

Macklin took the center and waited a moment for the beginning applause. It was thin, scattered. More booing than cheers. He had the jitters again.

It was tough enough to make your first speech to a friendly audience; but these catcalls gave him stage fright. A big, bald man in the front row said: "Sit down, you lousy Red."

That did it. Macklin lost his nervousness. Anger was what he had needed. Now he had it. He put thunder in his voice. "We've got hecklers with us, fellows. That's okay with me. Maybe they'll learn something."

Somebody whistled encouragement.

He said: "I'm no speaker. But I know what I feel. What I believe. I know we're living under a corrupt and outmoded form of government that needs changing."

The big man with the bald head made a raucous noise with his lips. His eyebrows were thick patches of unmowed black lawn that came together in a single line. "You stinking yellow bum!"

MACKLIN spoke directly to him. "You say I'm yellow because I'm against the System. Because I want to throw off my chains. I say I'm as good a patriot as you. Maybe better."

"Oh, yeah?"

Macklin's mouth straightened. "At least I don't believe in manufacturing murder machinery so a privileged few can fatten their pockets the way Amalgamated is doing. Six months of tooling for production of airplane engines.

"For America, they tell us. For Europe and profit, I say. So bombers can drop their eggs on women and kids."

The bald man said: "Why don't you quit your job if you feel that way about it?"

"I am. Tomorrow. From now on I'm putting in my time telling the masses what suckers they are."

"You heel!" the bald man snarled. "You're quitting because Amalgamated would fire you when they see where you stand."

Macklin said: "Sure they'd fire me. But that's not why I'm quitting. I—"

"How much do you get from Moscow for stirring up trouble, rat?" the bald man taunted.

Macklin was stung. The question was unfair. "Our Party has no connection with Moscow!" He hotly parroted the answer he'd been taught. "It's as much a part of this country as the Democrats or the Republicans.

"But when the workers get wise to themselves there won't be any more Democrats or Republicans. Or airplane motors for murderers. Or slaves killing themselves to make rich men richer. Or hired hecklers like you!"

That was when the bald man pulled a blackjack and made for him. Others followed. Workers and party members saw what was starting. They rushed the troublemakers. Chairs splintered. Back in the hall a woman screamed.

Dave Obrowski gasped: "Riot!" He limped toward the wings. Macklin didn't notice. He was staring toward the source of that feminine cry.

"Peggy!" he said, feeling for the first time the chill of sudden fear. "Peggy!"

PEGGY RYAN—the girl who might even now have been his wife if her father—but what was the use? She was struggling to reach the platform: yellow hair flying, blue eyes terrified.

Macklin's heart leaped with elation to know she cared enough for him to seek him out here. Then, with sickening reaction, he realized that she herself was in peril: being buffeted, crushed. Unhesitatingly he lunged toward the platform's edge.

The big bald man with the black eyebrows blocked him. "I've been hoping for this," he grunted. He swung his blackjack.

Macklin side-stepped, took the blow on his shoulder. It hurt plenty even there. His left arm felt numb. He slugged a fist at the bald man—and connected.

Now the hall was boiling. There must have been more toughies planted in the audience than Macklin suspected. The workers had their hands full. Chair legs thunked on skulls. Men went down. Macklin ducked another blackjack smash.

Behind him there was the sudden sharp splat of gunfire; a whimpering moan. Macklin turned. He saw crippled little Dave Obrowski toppling, shot through the brain. A sob swelled in Macklin's throat. "You cowards! You cold-blooded murderers!"

The bald guy's blackjack caught him across the mouth. He felt splinters coming off his teeth, blood gushing. His lips were wet sponges. The bald man hit him again.

Over the roaring in his ears Macklin heard siren-whine. Somebody yowled: "Cops!"

It was all confused and drunken. The bald man was scuttling to an exit, his plug-uglies following. It was like a movie being unreeled too fast. Even Dave Obrowski's corpse on the platform seemed more like a wax dummy than a man.

Everything was blurry; nothing real. Except Peggy Ryan.

She was real enough. She was close to the stage now: her dress torn, her eyes wild. "Shell, darling!"

He went down the three wooden steps to her. His shirt was all blood, and his mouth hurt terribly. He tried to talk but the words were thick and moist, like gruel.

Peggy pulled him. He stumbled along, blindly. In a dim way he knew she got him out of the hall ahead of the riot squad. He knew he was in her car, cutting through the night. The wind was good on his face, like a poultice.

SHE parked on a side street and mopped the blood from his lips with a handkerchief. "Shell! Thank God you're all right! Thank God I got you away before the police came!"

"Cops got nothing on me."

"They'd have taken your name as a witness. Amalgamated would have fired you—"

"Can't fire me. I'm quitting. You heard me say it." His fists closed around a promise of vengeance. "They'll pay for killing Obrowski. I'll make them pay."

"Shell, darling. Listen to me. Will you listen, Shell?"

He nodded, knowing what she was going to say. Arguments. Always arguments. She didn't realize how he felt about things. She didn't understand.

"Shell. You can't go on this way. Some night you'll be killed . . ."

He thought of Dave Obrowski. "Other men have been killed. Other men maimed. There's always suffering where imperialistic wars are to be fought. But the time's coming when Capital will sing another tune."

She shivered. "You're talking like Hitler, Shell—his fight against Western capitalism, and all that. You're decent to the core, but you're all mixed up."

That wasn't Peggy talking, he told himself. It was her father, old Senator Ryan. The preacher of preparedness; the man who wouldn't let his daughter marry Macklin—because he distrusted Macklin's comrades.

Macklin said: "Capitalism pulled the trigger on Dave Obrowski. Hired thugs of the warmongers who would help England. They think they can beat us to our knees that way."


"But they can't. For every worker they kill, ten will rise. Only we won't fight with bullets. We'll use reason. Maybe you'd call it revolution. But a bloodless one. Then this country will belong to the men who made it. The masses."

Peggy's eyes were wet. "You really believe that, don't you? It isn't glory you want. You're sincere. But you can't see you're being used by fifth columnists to weaken your own government for attack by some foreign dictatorship—"

Her father's words again. Not hers. Macklin got out of the car. "When you can forget your father's propaganda, send for me." He strode off, his heart as bruised as his battered lips.

He damned himself for loving a girl who belonged to the class it was his duty to hate. Why couldn't she understand that he was as loyal to his country as any other American? Except that his loyalty was for the downtrodden. The people who really were the United States!

THERE was a messenger waiting for him at his boarding house. Macklin was wanted at Party headquarters right away. "Soon as I clean up the blood," he said.

All four of the local bigwigs were there when he arrived. "Sit down, Shell. You took a drubbing tonight." That was Jack Lanneran talking. Bluff, hearty Jack Lanneran. Party whip and all-around good guy. A man you could trust. A man who'd share his last dime with you.

Macklin said: "I'm okay. I'm alive. Obrowski isn't."

"Your friend, wasn't he, Shell?"

"My friend. Yes." Macklin's knuckles showed white. "We've been wondering how those company thugs found out about the meeting so they could break it up. Somebody talked. You didn't, did you?"

"I didn't tell anybody but Peggy—"

The words were out before he could stop them. He said swiftly: "She's my girl. She wouldn't tell. I'd swear that."

"It doesn't matter now. You can't bring Obrowski back with words."

"You can't bring him back with anything," Macklin said.

"He can be avenged, though."


"By finishing a job he thought up. This was it." They tossed a typewritten paper at Macklin.

Queer. Macklin hadn't known Obrowski could use a typewriter. Hadn't known he could even write English. You can't always tell about a guy, Macklin thought. He read the paper.

It was suggested that certain figures be altered on the final specifications for machine tools which Amalgamated intended to use in changing over its plant for the production of airplane engines. Then the tools would be of incorrect pattern—but not too noticeably so. Especially if approved on inspection by someone in authority.

A micrometrically haywire bore here. A misplaced measurement there. Not enough to show. But when engine manufacture started, the sabotage would pop up.

Pistons wouldn't fit cylinder blocks on the assembly line. Gears would fail to mesh. Instead of producing motors, Amalgamated would be turning out junk.

That would mean new tooling again! Starting from scratch, fabricating substitute patterns, correctly designed this time. Six months of delayed production; six months of war-profiteering shot to pieces was the way it read.

Macklin looked up. "Well?"

"It's been approved. By Comrade Rostoff himself. From New York. He's in town. Just got here. What do you say, Shell?"

Macklin frowned. "Why should I have anything to say?"

"You're in charge of the machine tool division. You're the only one who could change those specifications and okay the jobs on final inspection. It'd be up to you."

A FUNNY feeling hit him in the stomach. Talking was one thing. Being beaten up, yes. But sabotaging Amalgamated property . . .

"I don't know," he mumbled.

"What is there to know? Obrowski was your friend. A helpless cripple. They killed him. Blackjacked you. Are you scared to hit back?"

"Not scared. No."

"Well, then. It's not like you're shedding anybody's blood. You'd be shedding their dollars and that'd hurt them worse. Maybe make them realize they can't murder workers without paying. That's the way Comrade Rostoff sees it."

Rostoff. Big shot from New York. The man whose editorials told you how this country was being made a sucker by England. The man who believed in letting Europe work out its own destiny, as being no concern of ours.

"I'll think it over," Macklin said.

Jack Lanneran got up. "Sure. Let's take a walk, Shell. We'll iron it out."

Walking, Macklin fumbled for words to explain his indecision. Peggy Ryan couldn't have told her father about the meeting, so he could have it broken up in a riot. In a way, that would have made her responsible for what happened to Obrowski.

She wouldn't do a thing like that. She wouldn't be a partner to murder.

"She wouldn't be a partner to sabotage either," he said aloud.

"Who wouldn't?" Jack Lanneran asked him.

"My girl. If I went through with this deal and she found it out, I'd lose her."

Lanneran said: "Then don't let her know."

That made it seem furtive, underhanded. It would always be on his conscience, like a barrier between himself and the girl he loved. "I'm all muddled up," he muttered.

"Maybe the blackjacking," Lanneran said. "You took enough to make anybody a little punchy. Tell me what's eating you. Maybe I can straighten you out."

"This sabotage thing. Would I be pulling it for revenge because I got slugged? Because Obrowski was killed? Personal motives haven't got any place in a man's wanting to help his country. It's the country itself that counts. The workers."

Lanneran's voice was quietly persuasive. "You'd be doing it for them, keeping them out of saber-rattling that leads to war. This armament for defense—what have we got to defend? From whom?"

Somehow, at that moment, it sounded glib and rehearsed.

Macklin dismissed the glibness. He had his own problems. Changing those specifications would be treachery to a firm that had employed him at decent wages eight long years. Treachery to everything Peggy Ryan believed in.

Lanneran said urgently: "A man's got to make some sacrifice for the Cause. Obrowski even sacrificed his life. You're not being asked to go that far. Chances are you won't be caught. You won't lose this Peggy Ryan."

He looked up. "Here we are back at Party headquarters. Let's go in and tell the boys you're going through with it."

"Okay." Shell Macklin shrugged, made his decision. "Let's tell them." He and Lanneran entered the building.

THE rear room's door was ajar. The bigwigs were back there. Talking to somebody whose voice sounded curiously familiar. Somebody they addressed as Comrade Rostoff.

Lanneran looked suddenly upset. "Don't go in there, Shell. Not just yet." He tried to draw Macklin away.

But Macklin had already caught a glimpse of the man with the familiar voice. The man they called Rostoff.

Rostoff was big; beefy. His head was bald. His eyebrows were black patches of unmowed lawn. He was the guy who had hit Shell Macklin across the mouth with a blackjack.

For a moment it didn't make sense. Then, slowly, it did. There was only one possible explanation. Macklin shook himself away from Lanneran's grasp. "Let go of me. I'll kill the heel."

"Nix, Shell. Listen—"

Macklin gathered a loose fistful of Lanneran's shirt and tie. He tightened down. "Rostoff faked that riot. He and some of his Party thugs from New York. Pretending to be Cossacks. Why?"

"Look, Shell—"

Macklin chopped at Lanneran's jaw. "It was a gag to make me sore at Amalgamated. Wasn't it? Talk, you—"

"I'll teach you to slug me!" Lanneran's lifted knee took Macklin in the groin and doubled him over.

Pain screamed through Macklin's belly. He fought it, straightened himself and slammed his knuckles at Lanneran's face.

"A gag to make sure I'd change those specifications. You'd have got me out of the hall ahead of the police if Peggy hadn't done it first. Peggy was right! I was a fool. Maybe you're all taking Moscow orders."

Lanneran's lips peeled back. He didn't have to admit anything: his beady eyes held confession enough. Macklin's sledgehammer fist knocked him into the corridor wall. He bounced and let out a yawp for help.

Help came from the rear room. Rostoff and the three local bigwigs jumped Macklin and flailed him with punches, kicked him down. He felt engulfed in black waves of torture, and stopped trying to defend himself. His strength was gone.

Jack Lanneran panted: "He got wise."

"Too bad." This was Rostoff. "We needed him for that Amalgamated business. Now I guess he'll have to be taken care of. He knows too much. He would be dangerous."

Macklin spoke bitterly, out of a painful fog: "So that's what happened to Obrowski: he was getting out of control. You let him have it in the fake riot. That scheme to ruin the machine tools didn't come from Obrowski. He couldn't typewrite. I should've known."

Macklin's world was upside down. Rostoff the liberator. Rostoff the patriot, the laboring man's friend.

Rostoff the fifth columnist and murderer!

His beliefs shaken and destroyed, Shell Macklin was buffeted by rising tides of wrath. Masquerading as patriotism, the Party had duped him. Had almost brought him to treachery against his flag, as probably many another American had been hoodwinked. The Party wanted America's rearmament program weakened. Why?

Lanneran spoke to Rostoff. "Why liquidate him yet, comrade? We can still make him go through with his job."

Macklin choked. He came to his haunches. "Go ahead and slug me. Knock me off. But by the Eternal, I won't change those specifications."

Lanneran grinned down at him. "This girl you keep talking about. Peggy Ryan. Maybe you'd do it for her if not for the Party."

Macklin realized the import of the threat. It drove sanity out of him. He came off the floor like an explosion. He slammed himself at Lanneran.

Somebody maced him over the skull. His lights went out. He didn't even feel himself falling.

PEGGY RYAN was there when he snapped out of it. She was in an adjoining room, trussed to a chair. They let Macklin look at her through a crack in the doorway.

Lanneran whispered: "It was easy, pal. A phone call did it. Now what do you say?"

Macklin couldn't answer. He was too full of seething helplessness. He'd brought this on himself—and on Peggy. It had been building up ever since he first mentioned her name tonight. Naturally a cagey bunch like Rostoff and Lanneran and the others would be smart enough to take advantage.

Macklin had popped off about his love for Peggy. Now they were using her as a lever. Unless he obeyed orders, something would happen to her.

Probably it would happen even if he did obey orders. Having snatched her, they most likely wouldn't dare turn her loose. Too risky. The same with Macklin. He knew they'd remove him after he had served his purpose. It stood to reason.

He thought of Peggy: soft, feminine, trying to make him see his folly. And failing so utterly that now her life was weighed against the balance of his misguided ideologies. This was what Communism had brought him to!

His agony was more than physical, now. Even if he were free, he couldn't fight this thing singlehanded. It was too vast. It had its poisonous roots all over the land. Nothing short of complete disclosure could destroy it; and it would take the government itself to do that. The government Shell Macklin had reviled . . .

But for him it was all over.

Jack Lanneran prodded him ungently with the muzzle of a gun. "Make up your mind, chump." Bluff, hearty Jack Lanneran. The man who'd share his last dime with you. Or his last bullet! "Do we fix those specifications now?"

We. Plural. And the other guy had the gun. Macklin let his shoulders sag. "If I say yes, will you turn Peggy loose? I guess I'll do it—for her. Don't care what happens to me."

"Sure, pal. Sure. Soon as I tell the boys you did the job we turn her loose." A lie, probably, but the only thing he had to bank on.

Macklin pretended to believe. "Let's go," he said.

"That's better, pal." They went out into the night. "Here's my car. You better drive. I got a handful of gun."

Macklin drove. He parked at the Amalgamated plant and took Lanneran past the watchman at the gate: into the tool and die division; into his own cubbyhole of an office, beyond the view of night shift workmen. Lanneran's pocketed automatic cocked, ready to spit death if Macklin hesitated.

The locked desk was where those final specifications were. Macklin keyed the drawer and pulled out the sheaf of papers that represented dozens of machine tools. More than five hundred hours of skilled labor shining in steel for every single sheet and there were dozens of them. All awaiting final touches, last-minute patterning.

One alteration on each specification; one change on each tool. That was all it would take to throw the entire Amalgamated plant into chaos—and into inactivity for another six precious months of national unpreparedness. A big coup for the fifth columnists. A mighty big coup—if they pulled it.

Macklin picked up a fountain pen, got ready to change certain figures on the sheets of paper.

"Need ink," he said. He dipped the pen into a well; thumbed its plunger. His hand was shaking. He steadied it. Now was the time.

SUDDENLY he swung around, chancing Lanneran's bullet. He aimed the pen squarely at Lanneran's face and squeezed the plunger button. A stream of black ink drove full into Lanneran's eyes.

Lanneran yowled as the stuff blinded him. He let go of his gun and clawed at his eyes.

Macklin doubled both fists and bashed outward with them—twice—driving home the blows so hard that he could feel it all the way up into his own shoulders. So that his whole body ached.

Like a chopped tree, Lanneran fell. His head hit the desk's edge, making a sound too horrible for memory to bear; then he was on the floor. He would never get up again.

Panting, Macklin picked up Lanneran's automatic, turned and grabbed his phone. His shaking fingers slotted into dial holes. Somebody answered: "Party headquarters."

"Rostoff, please." Macklin tried to simulate Lanneran's voice.

A pause. Then: "Who's this?"

"Lanneran. Hurry—get Rostoff."

The other voice was edged with suspicion. "You don't sound like Lanneran for my money. Where are you?"

Macklin broke out in cold sweat. He talked fast. "Amalgamated. I'm nervous. You know why. Comrade, for Heaven's sake get Rostoff."

A grunt, then another pause. And finally Rostoff's voice. Macklin breathed deeply, feeling weak.

"The job's done, Comrade Rostoff. I'm bringing Macklin downtown again.

"Good. Do that."

Macklin rang off. He thumbed the greasy phone book, hunting a number. The only number that could help him now. The F.B.I.

FUNNY how a guy's ideas can change. Today, Shell Macklin had considered the F.B.I. in the same light he thought of a Gestapo or an Ogpu. Agency of a government that needed to be overthrown and destroyed. Bunch of snooping spies working for Capital.

Now he knew better. Capital and Labor—they both stood for the American way. Destroy one and you maroon the other. Then you get dictatorship: the rule of force, the rule of murder.

Macklin found his number and called it.

His words spilled into the mouthpiece: gasping, blurted, incoherent. But he got his meaning across. They understood.

He hurled the phone from him and pelted for the exit. There was Lanneran's car. He slid under the wheel, tortured the starter with his foot. He moved.

Stop lights? Traffic? Shell Macklin broke all the rules there were. Cops? Let them follow. He wanted them to follow. But as usual, there weren't any cops when you needed them most.

Just as well, maybe. Siren-sound might warn Rostoff and the others. Better arrive quietly. Better let gunfire make the necessary noise when the time came.

Here was headquarters. Macklin locked his brakes, piled out, slammed himself into the building. Gaining the rear room, he smashed the door off its hinges. "Now, you rats!"

They were all there. Including Rostoff. And including Peggy Ryan, tied to a chair at the far end of the room. She cried out when she saw Macklin.

He faced the men who were his enemies. His, and his country's. "Stay still!"

One of them took a chance: pulled a .38 and cut loose. Macklin felt the sting of a soft-nosed hornet through his thigh. He went listing sidewise as his leg kicked out from under him.

That saved his life; saved him from a second slug that would have taken him between the eyes. Instead, it chewed plaster from the wall behind him. There wasn't a third, because Macklin's own trigger was pumping.

He splashed bullets like water from a hose. He sprayed the room. He hurled lead until he had no more lead to hurl. Until there were no more men before him—

Except Rostoff.

Rostoff said: "You're through, Macklin. You're out of bullets."

MACKLIN hit him with the empty gun. Hit him in the mouth, as he himself had been struck by Rostoff's blackjack earlier that night.

The bald man spat teeth and blood. He kept boring in. He was inhuman. You slugged him over the hairless skull and he refused to fall. He kept coming at you no matter what you did.

You couldn't escape him. He was a fiend. His fingers were steel.

They were steel bands around Macklin's gullet. It was mad. It was monstrous, like a nightmare. It was something out of Hell itself, this thing that was happening.

Macklin's lungs were afire. His neck was a constricted agony. Black blur swam in his eyes. The stink of Rostoff's breath was in his nostrils. The fear of death entered his heart and grew there like a poisonous mushroom.

Yet he had every reason to live now; he had to live.

He struggled. He tried savagely to fight off this monster and all he represented. He bludgeoned that slippery skull one last desperate time.

Rostoff's hold weakened. Now he had to go down. You can't stay on your feet when your head's been hammered open.

But Rostoff did. He remained upright. He came back at Macklin with murder in his eyes; and as Shell waited for that charge, Peggy screamed.

Macklin knew he was washed up. This time Rostoff would finish him. He braced himself.

Peggy screamed again, "Shell— Shell—"

Her eyes were on the smashed door. Men were boiling into the room. G-men with guns. They nailed Rostoff to the wall.

Shell Macklin pitched forward on his face.

Hospital-smell awakened him: clean, pungent. He was on a white bed in a white room. Peggy was leaning over him. "Shell . . . darling!"

"Hello, Peg." He grinned weakly. He had things to tell her; things he was ashamed of. What a blind fool he'd been, for instance. How close he'd come to being a Benedict Arnold. He tried to find the words. It was tough.

But he was saved from that.

She put her soft hand on his cheek; it was cool and soothing. "There's only one thing I want to hear you say now, Shell."

So he said it. "I love you," he whispered. Then he slept again. He was content. He had earned enough glory.