July 12, 2014
It was a not-so-rare night in the city. Dark and cloudy, no moon, no stars.
And no houselights, gas lights, or headlights.
This was London. It was World War II. And Lt. Russ Wyndham was being followed.
The man tailing Wyndham wasn’t doing too good a job at it. Even in the near-total blackness, he did such a poor job of hiding that Wyndham couldn’t help but be aware of him, and the noise he made gave him away with nearly every footstep.
Lt. Wyndham wasn’t expecting to be followed and didn’t know what to do. He was just over from the US, attached to military intelligence more because of family connections than any skill or capability. Pearl Harbor had just been attacked and Wyndham had enlisted, not out of any sense of patriotism or duty, but because he smelled the chance to get away from a messy affair with a married woman and an unwanted baby. His family was rich enough, and thoroughly arrogant enough, that if their youngest scion had to ditch his lover and illegitimate child, they’d be damned if he was going to do it as some enlisted grunt digging ditches.
Wyndham’s tail knocked over a garbage can, and the noise was so loud that, against wartime regulations, several blackout curtains were pulled aside, flooding the street with light as nervous men and women looked out to see what was going on. Wyndham could no longer pretend to be unaware of the tail, especially as the short and somewhat fat man following him was now illuminated from nearly all directions.
Both men were panicked. In Wyndham the panic manifested as paralysis. He didn’t know what to do, where to go, what to do, to run, to hide, to run to panic to scream to hide to yell to cry to-
The other man’s panic caused him to stand in his spot as well, but he was shaking, oh how was he shaking, he was afraid, so afraid, so very afraid of the man in the uniform ahead of him, what’s he going to do he’s seen me he’s looking at me why are all these people looking at me why can’t they shut the windows I could hide in the dark I’m afraid of the man afraid of the man afraid of the man with the gun the gun the gun he pulled a gun and-
-and in full view of the exactly six witnesses peeking around the curtains, the man who would one day have “Private Investigator” printed on his office window fired a gun for the first time outside of basic training and murdered a man.
It would be many years before Hollywood Russell knew why he was being followed, but in only a few days Lt. Russ Wyndham would face a court-martial.