The Legend of Pentagonius
By T.H. Tetens in Germany Plots with the Kremlin
There was a rich and influential banker named Pentagonius,
whose life had been troubled by threats and attacks from
gangsters. One of the toughest leaders in gangland was a certain
Germanicus who, after a long and most strenuous search
was finally hunted down. Just when the gangster's jig was up,
a bright idea flashed in banker Pentagonius' head: "Wouldn't
it be wonderful to have such a tough fellow as a bodyguard?
This Germanicus," the banker pondered, "certainly knows
all the ins and outs of gangland, he is a most powerful and
ruthless fighter—and if I save him from the electric chair and
gain his gratitude, maybe he can be of use to me and can keep
lots of unpleasantness from my door."
Thus, through his influence, banker Pentagonius saved gangster
Germanicus from the electric chair. Of course, this action
shocked the police experts. The Police Commissioner Lippenwald
warned the banker against such a foolish undertaking. He
called to his attention the long criminal record of Germanicus,
his absolute unreliability, his trickery, his uncontrolled temper,
and so forth. But all these and other warnings were of no avail.
Banker Pentagonius was deeply afraid of another gangster,
Sovieticus, and he firmly believed that gangster Germankus
could give him better protection.
Thus, Germankus became the bodyguard of the banker, and
moved into the gardener's house on the banker's estate. Banker
Pentagonius felt proud and satisfied with what he had engineered.
He was convinced that he had done a good deed, and
felt sure that in the end gangster Germanicus would be reformed
and would show his gratitude and devotion towards his
benefactor throughout his life.
In the beginning, the feelings of the banker were bolstered
by the assurances of eternal gratitude which Germanicus daily
expressed. As time went by, a few incidents occurred which
made the banker a little skeptical of the soundness of undertaking
this self-styled reform work. Yet, considering the fact
that this was an unusual experiment, he did not allow his trust
to be shaken too much by these initial incidents. At any rate,
he was unafraid since he knew that Germanicus was still on
parole and in case his behavior should become improper, the
banker could ask the police to take corrective action.
Germanicus, in the meantime, was fully aware of the situation,
and cunningly worked with promises and little threats until
he had gained a firmer position and was finally free from parole.
Now it was time for him to act in accordance with his new
outlook on life. He was well aware of the advantageous position
he was in and was determined to make the most of the various
possibilities that the turn of events had presented to him. The
banker had indeed opened a new aspect of life for Germanicus.
As a smart, calculating and ruthless fellow, he was set to exploit
these new opportunities to the fullest extent possible. He
convinced the banker that in order to be more useful to him,
he, the ex-convict, would have to regain his self-respect. He
told the banker in unmistakable terms that he would have to
stop treating him in a charitable way by giving him handouts,
and he made it clear that what he wanted was to be treated like
an independent person. Germanicus said that if he could own
the gardener's house or another piece of property, it would
give him his self-assurance and the independence he wanted.
Pentagonius yielded to these requests, all of which were backed
up with menacing tales intended to frighten the banker, but in
which Germanicus himself did not believe. The banker, still
clinging to his faith in the basic soundness of his experiment,
continued to let himself be taken in more and more by Germanicus.
But with every new concession and compromise, the
pressure of new and greater demands grew in increasing proportion.
Finally, Germanicus confronted the banker with the demand
that since he was now a remade man, he wanted to take his
place in accepted society. He asked his benefactor to introduce
him into the circle of high society. Again, Pentagonius conceded.
Thus, at least, in outward appearance, Germanicus entered into
the status of social equality. As a result, however, the banker
lost some of his social prestige for having become too intimate
with a former gangster. Quite naturally some of the banker's
most faithful friends resented the fact that he had foisted this
former gangster on their circle. Many of the old friends of
Pentagonius began to question his wisdom and his sanity.
As things developed, Germanicus became more and more dissatisfied
with his new role. The old "king of gangland" was
determined to use all his tricks to reconquer for himself a
position of power. The more his demands were met, the more
cocky he became. Increasingly, he became resentful at having
to take orders and follow certain directives of the banker.
In the meantime, there were new developments which made
Pentagonius very uneasy. Reports came to him that secret dealings
were taking place between gangster Germanicus and that
other character and archenemy of his, Sovieticus. Pentagonius
found himself in an untenable position. He could no longer
appeal to the police for help, and practically all of his influential
friends had deserted him. The banker became irritated and
lost his cool judgment; he suffered considerable financial losses
under the increasing blackmail tactics of Germanicus. Impoverished
through the expensive protective measures he had undertaken,
and driven nearly insane with fear and worry, he saw
no way out of his sorry plight but to take his life. And so,
Pentagonius met his tragic end by leaping
from a window.
By strange coincidence, Pentagonius' end not only had been
foretold in the diaries of Germanicus (in Christ und Welt,
November 1, 1951), but was also predicted in an article "How
America Took It," published in the Moscow New Times of
January 1, 1952.