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Hail to the Chief

Archer Swift

March 2020 987-1-7337695-0-1



Swept into fast-moving currents and a race against time to find billions of dollars of treasure stolen by the Nazis in the 1940’s  hidden in Europe and Latin America, Adam journeys across the globe trailed by sinister forces from the West and the Middle East which conspire to subvert Western culture, create a Fourth Reich and restore a long-lost Caliphate.

An intriguing tale of fact-based fiction, Hail to the Chief, will engage readers who  wonder about the seeming contradictions between the history of Western/Islamic conflict, and the potential common cause  between the rise of the political right in the West and extreme Islamism.


A N  E M P T Y C H A I R


gnes emailed an acceptance note to the address on the Clarion Club invitation. Her next thought, of course, was What should I wear? But Adam’s mind was elsewhere.

He wondered how this invitation had come about? Professor Lantos had indeed alerted him to its likely appearance in Buenos Aires, but was that all? Meanwhile, Bitar seemed unaware of it, maybe because he was in a rush to catch a plane? Where to, by the way? And why would Bitar of all people suddenly turn up out of the blue in Buenos Aires of all places and seek out Adam, especially when in a rush to catch a plane?

Something here didn’t quite add up. While he was pondering these loose ends, Agnes reminded him that they had two days to kill before the dinner date at the Club Clarion. She suggested that they do some sightseeing with a local guide.

They toured Buenos Aires’ 16th century Plaza de Mayo with its impressive Presidential Palace, the Casa Rosada, at its eastern end. Opposite it was the Cabildo, the old town hall. It was still guarded by members of the Regimiento de Patricios wearing their traditional red, white and blue uniforms from more than two hundred years ago when, as the Legión Patricia, the Patricians’ Legion, they had defended Buenos Ares from British invaders in 1806.

Agnes reminded Adam that the same Plaza de Mayo was where the mothers of Argentine’s Disappeared Ones or Desaparacidos protested the loss of their children during the so-called Dirty War between 1974 and 1983. Backed by the United States, Argentinian military and security forces joined forces with right-wing death squads to hunt and “disappear” any political dissidents.

She remembered reading that leftist guerillas murdered over one thousand people in the ten years leading up to 1979. The guerillas included students, trade unionists, writers, journalists, or anyone suspected of being a left-wing activist.

In response, the military had launched something called Operation Condor to silence any opposition to the rule of the military junta. Adam saw tears well up in her eyes as she continued speaking. “That operation swept up thousands of Argentinians, including some thirty thousand people who were murdered or ‘disappeared.’ That left a big ugly stain on Argentina, even though some junta members are still in jail for crimes against humanity and genocide.”

They went on to visit the flea market at San Telmo, and then, after sampling the antique shops tucked into the narrow streets of brightly colored houses, they found a cramped bar where they learned to dance the tango.

The guide insisted on showing them the famous Café Tortoni, proudly reminding them of the many Hollywood and other celebrities who had visited it since it had first opened in 1858.

When the night of the Club Clarion dinner presentation arrived at last, Agnes donned a simple black linen dress. It flattered her figure and artfully displayed just a hint of cleavage at her breasts. Adam gaped in amazement as she entered the living room of their suite.

Both were blushing. “Wow!” he said. “You look stunning!”

Shortly afterwards, a cab dropped them off at the Club Clarion. A stone-faced and unsmiling doorman greeted them there. He checked their invitation, took a long, hard look at Adam and said, “Guten abend, Mein Herr und Meine Dame! Hier ist der Rhombus,” pointing to a dimly lit stairwell in the rear of the building.

At the top of the stairs were two well-built security guards. Adam noticed that the shorter of the two bore a diagonal scar from his left ear to the corner of his mouth.

The taller one spoke. “Arme hoch! Beine auseinander!” (“Arms up! Legs apart!”) The security men frisked them both, lightly but carefully.

The shorter man reached for Agnes’s purse. “Öffnen bitte!” (“Open, please!”)

Satisfied, the guards pointed to a facing door marked Privates Treffen. Agnes whispered, “That means ‘Private Meeting.’”

They entered a medium-sized hall. There were about eighty chairs lined up and already occupied. Most members of the audience were gray-haired men and women and many looked like octogenarians. Sprinkled among them were a few younger-looking men and women.

But what caught Adam’s attention was a chair. An empty chair.

It was high backed and located in the center of a stage that rose a few feet above the audience. A bright spotlight shone down on it at an angle, intensely illuminating two gilded numbers on the seat back.

What does the number “88” mean, I wonder? Adam asked himself.

He turned to ask Agnes, but she was talking to another guest. He then noticed a door off the meeting room. It bore a faded sign reading Rhombus. Presumably this was the adjoining dining room where dinner would follow.

He was wondering how well he could interpret the upcoming presentation and whether anyone present spoke English when, as he was about to turn back to Agnes, he felt a light touch on his arm.

“Welkommen! Ich bin die Vorsitzende!” (“Welcome! I am the Chair of the meeting!”) An elegantly dressed older woman with long, silver-gray hair was smiling at him.

The puzzlement on his face gave him away.

“So, perhaps you’re the young American we invited to our meeting?” Her English was almost without an accent. “We’re delighted you can join us as our guest! Are you here with your wife?”

Adam blushed uncontrollably. “Well, yes. Let me introduce you.”

As only women can, the two were soon chatting away in German, like old friends. Finding his courage at last, Adam couldn’t resist asking a question.

“What’s the significance of the empty chair on the stage?”

The chairwoman seemed surprised at the question. “Oh! You don’t know? The numbers 8 and 8 each represent the eighth letter of the alphabet.”

He said, “You mean HH?”


“I see,” said Adam. Except that he didn’t.

“We will tell you more over dinner, but now we must hear the presentation.”

Adam struggled to understand what the presenter, a Dr. Otto Weber, was saying in German. He couldn’t fail to notice the excitement and passion behind the man’s initial words. Dr. Weber had started out calmly enough but as he warmed up, his voice began to rise. His expression changed, abruptly from that of a warm, avuncular whitehaired speaker to that of a fierce demagogue. Adam caught angry words leaping from the man’s mouth like bullets, such as, “Unser recht!” (“Our right!”)

Adam shot a quick glance at Agnes beside him and noticed how the muscles tightened in her face. The speaker was now screaming almost hysterically, and the audience was joining in with him. When Agnes turned to face Adam, the look on her face told him that the speaker’s message was one of hatred. At last, Dr. Weber’s rant ended. His remarks drew loud applause from most members of the audience.

It was then that Adam spotted a younger woman, perhaps old enough to be his own or Agnes’s mother. The woman did not applaud. He wondered why not. She simply stared expressionlessly at the speaker.

Her blond hair was set in a bun. She wore a simple gray dress with a black belt and flat shoes. Adam studied her profile. Her high cheekbones and finely carved nose were striking. As if she knew she was being watched by him, she turned her head suddenly and fixed her clear-blue eyes on Adam. He felt himself blushing with embarrassment. He looked away.

The chairwoman rose and stepped up to the podium. In German, she appeared to invite the audience members to the dinner by pointing to the door marked Rhombus. The “newlyweds” edged their way through the throng. There were place cards on each of the ten round tables.

Each diner had a member of the opposite sex on either side. A tall, distinguished older man with a distinct military bearing stood to Agnes’s left and politely pulled out the chair for her. A short, fat fellow with a double chin and thick glasses sat to her right.

Adam found himself seated to the right of an elderly lady whose limited ability to speak English became rapidly apparent. As he settled into his seat, and much to his surprise, the blond woman with the bun at whom he had been staring only minutes ago alighted to his right. He smiled and introduced himself, as if to reconfirm the name on his place card.

The woman smiled back. “Schon Sie zu treffen, Herr Tinker,” she said. “Pleased to meet you, Mr. Tinker.”

Just as everyone began small talk, the chairwoman rose to her feet once again, tapping her wine glass for silence. “I wish to speak in English in honor of some of our guests here tonight.” (Adam wondered if he was the only person present whose mother tongue was English.) “As most of us know, the day is coming when Germany will once again rise as a great, and perhaps the world’s greatest, power. While America is being ‘made great again’ (this remark drew a soft chuckle from the room), our mother country is preparing to rise to heights never before seen.

Dr. Weber’s talk tonight underlined our progress so well. Thank you, Dr. Weber!”

This remark drew loud and prompt applause. A beaming Dr. Weber, seated at the head table, nodded his approval.

“Now,” said the chairwoman, “as is our custom, I would like to offer a toast to Number 88.”

On cue, all present stood and silently raised their glasses. Adam and Agnes blindly copied their neighbors. Adam glanced to his right. He noticed that the blond with the bun reached for her wine glass and stood but did not lift her glass with everyone else. Then everyone sat down.

A team of waiters dressed immaculately in black tuxedos and crisp white shirts and black bow ties emerged silently on cue out of the adjoining kitchen and filed in with military precision to serve dinner.

A clunky first course of burrata, prosciutto, and tomato arrived. It was followed by a huge juicy Argentine steak adorned with mushrooms and roast potatoes. The dessert was a rich apple strudel with vanilla ice cream that melted in the mouth. Bottles of deliciously fruity Argentine red wine were emptying at each table at a rapidly rising rate. Everyone was loosening up and having a good time. Or so it seemed.

The blond woman to Adam’s right chose her moment to lean over to him and ask, “What brings you to Buenos Aires, Mr. Tinker?”

Adam explained that he and Agnes were newly married and on their honeymoon.

“That’s nice. But you’re a long way from America, yes?”

They chatted about Argentina and Buenos Aires; and then, moments later, she invited Adam and his “new wife” to visit her at her home a few miles outside the city center. She gave him her card with her telephone number.

“My name is Isolde Rauff,” she said. “Maybe I can show you both some things that typical tourists never see here?” The invitation sounded innocent enough.

Adam, by now feeling at ease with his new acquaintance, decided to revisit the question he had earlier posed to the chairwoman. “What was the significance of the empty chair with the numbers 8 and 8 on it —not to mention the toast to Number 88?”

“Oh, you didn’t know?” said his dinner companion. “Well, the two numbers each represent the eighth letter of the alphabet. That’s ‘HH.’”

“And that means?”

“Heil Hitler, of course.”


" This book is both entertaining and informative. As a mystery novel it is a page turner with an ending that was impossible to guess. However, it was also a history lesson. The book related the history between German and the Ottoman Empire that is not general knowledge. It also explained the complexities of the Islamic world: the various sects, their beliefs and rivalries. In essence this is two books in one, an entertaining mystery novel as well as a twentieth century history book." - MW

"Hail to the Chief is a perfect story for our time! It is a page turner, both entertaining and educating the reader.

Old hatreds and threats to our way of life are resurfacing under new alliances. Swift is extremely knowledgeable on the subject and explains things in a way that keeps the reader enthralled in the story!
I thoroughly enjoyed learning the back story of what can happen when evil people form alliances to defeat democracy. There is much truth to the story and It keeps the reader’s interest throughout." - CR.