Monday Sampler: The Jossing Affair by J. L. Oakley
April 18, 2016
In our mission to connect readers, writers, and books, Caleb and Linda Pirtle is showcasing some of the best authors in the marketplace today. Monday’s Sampler features an excerpt from The Jossing Affair, historical fiction by J. L. Oakley about the covert existence of a Norwegian intelligence officer working undercover during World War II.
About J. L. Oakley:
Award-winning author J.L. Oakley writes historical fiction that spans the mid-19th century to WW II with characters standing up for something in their own time and place. she grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
After college, she worked her way west to the Hawaiian Islands. While going to school there, she met her future husband and for a time they lived on the Big Island. They moved to the Pacific Northwest where they raised three sons.
An historian as well as an award winning author, her writings appear in various magazines, anthologies, and literary publications. Before publication, The Jossing Affair, was a finalist twice at the Pacific Northwest Writers Association Literary Contest and in 2013, received a first place Chaucer category win.
British-trained Norwegian intelligence agent Tore Haugland has enough worries when he is sent to a tiny fishing hamlet on the west coast of Norway to set up a line to receive arms and agents from England via the “Shetland Bus.”
Posing as a deaf fisherman, his mission is complicated when he falls in love with Anna Fromme, the German widow of an old family friend. Accused of betraying her husband, she has a small daughter and secrets of her own.
Though the Allies have liberated France and the Netherlands, the most zealous of the Nazis hang on in Norway, sending out agents to disembowel local resistance groups.
If Haugland fails it could not only cost him his life, but those of the fishermen who have joined him. When Haugland is betrayed and left for dead, he will not only have to find the one who betrayed him and destroyed his network, but also prove that the one he loved was not the informer.
He found the young man lying in the snow, his battered body pushed deep under the brambles at the bottom of a ravine. If it had not been for the sound of the car door slamming, Hans Gunnerson would never have found him. Already the blanket wrapped around him was covered with snowflakes, partially hiding the bloodstains stiffening on the shoulders and back. Soon he would be lost forever to frost and mold.
A snowstorm that had threatened all day had finally come off the fjord. In record time, the snow had gathered strength and was hissing and whirling with a vengeance. It filled up the snow-laden woods with a dull silence. All for a car door.
Like a ghost Gunnerson pressed back against the rock and stood still. Faintly, he heard a second and third metallic thud. From far off, two more doors had been opened and shut. There was a car on the logging road.
Torn between curiosity and caution, Gunnerson stayed where he was. The trail was well hidden from the road. Eight yards beyond, it switched back sharply to the right, away from the road and landslide which were down and some distance away. He crept forward in a cautious crouch. Obscured by the drooping spruce boughs, he was able to see the car, confirming his worst fears.
It was a black limousine, the kind favored by the Gestapo. Two officers dressed in the uniforms of the all-Norwegian SD stood beside it. One of them stomped and slapped his arms through his greatcoat while the other appeared to be talking to someone at the back of the car.
Gunnerson swallowed, trying to rid the taste of bile in his mouth. A feeling of dread and extreme danger started to seize him. All his senses were alert now.
And then Gunnerson saw him. Despite the cold, a sweat broke out on Gunnerson’s brow. His mouth went dry.
A small, slim man with coarse black hair stepped away from the car and walked over to a nearby ravine. He pointed down into the gully, then turned back, his face looking in Gunnerson’s direction. The narrow face with high cheekbones and thin lips in a wry smile left no doubt. It was Henry Oliver Rinnan.
Gunnerson’s stomach tightened. Rinnan’s presence could only mean one thing: an execution. His eyes stayed riveted to the uniformed men who were now gathered around the back door of the car. The little Norwegian was a Gestapo unit unto himself with a maniacal lust for cunning and brutal punishment of patriotic Norwegians. Gunnerson knew of him too well, but he could do nothing.
In dream-like slowness, the door opened and what appeared to be a man was half-dragged, half-carried out onto the snow. Gunnerson could see bare shoulders before the blanket in which he was wrapped was pulled tighter around his head. He looked dead. The SD men maneuvered the body into the ravine. At a word from Rinnan, one of the men pulled out a gun, aimed and fired into the brambles. As Gunnerson expected, there was no sound from the long silencer.
The snow was falling steadily now. The party seemed anxious to leave, hunkering down against the wind or wiping snowflakes off their shoulders as they walked back to the car. Rinnan got in. After brushing the windshield, the other two followed. The car roared to life. For a brief moment, the wheels spun in the wet snow. Then it rocked and slipped its way back down the road and out of Gunnerson’s line of sight. The woods became silent again.
Cautiously, Gunnerson stood up. Snowflakes covered his cap and gray beard like wet stickers. His hands were cold. God help me, he thought. When will it ever end?
He readjusted his rucksack and stepped back up on the trail. The snow hissed about his grim face. He felt weak, a hollow emptiness gurgling in his stomach, but he knew he would have to go down to that terrible place and see for himself. He feared and hated Rinnan, but it was terrible to die by Nacht-und-Nebel orders, laid in an unmarked grave.
He set off down through the trees and undergrowth. After some scrambling, he finally came out by the pile of earth and trees blocking the road. All that was left of the car was a rectangular patch of fuzzy new snow on the old. Gunnerson looked down the road and felt sure that it was deserted. There was no reason for them to suspect that they had been watched. They were too sure of themselves. Besides, the snowstorm was picking up.
At the bottom of the ravine, he stopped. His heart beat heavily, his bowels growled. The brambles were already piling up with snow. It was hard to see, so removing his knapsack, Gunnerson began to knock the snow off the tangle of bare branches at the deepest point of the ravine.
The body lay in the blanket like a mummy. A light veneer of snow already clung to it, but Gunnerson still could see a neat hole near the top, where the blanket was stiff with blood. He crouched in closer, and then, taking a deep breath, pulled the blanket away.