I’m back home and this story has been sitting on a back burner for a few months, waiting for some more to be written.
The trouble is, there are also other stories to write, and I’m not very good at prioritising.
But, here we are, a few minutes opened up and it didn’t take long to get back into the groove.
Am I working for anyone now?
So, there I was, walking along the street, hands in pockets, trying to look like my whole world hadn’t come crashing down on me when a car pulled over to the side of the road.
I may have been down in the dumps but not that far that I wasn’t still aware of what was going on around me, the training had been that good, so I hung back a little from the curb and waited to see if was me they were after, or just some lucky rich person being dropped off.
And ready to disappear into the crowd, not that there was one, but there were three exits available and within momentary reach if necessary.
I watched the rear window go down slowly then saw a familiar face.
“Get in Mr Jackson. We have more to talk about.”
I hesitated like anyone with the training I had would, as any person with common sense would too, I guess.
“It’s perfectly safe, I assure you.” He sounded reassuring.
A glance into the car showed only him and the driver, who was getting out of the car. I watched him come around to the curbside and put his hand on the door handle.
“Sir,” he said.
He opened the door. Nobbin had moved to the other side.
I shrugged, then got in. A thought: how many people had got into cars such as this, and were never seen again?”
It was not a statistic that reached any of the newspapers. Only the end result, a body washed down the Thames, with no indication of who it was, or where they came from, and no identification, or means of identification available.
The door closed, the driver went back to the front of the car, and then gently eased the car out into the traffic.
“I’m sorry for the theatrics surrounding this meeting, but it is necessary. I’m sure you were told of the need for secrecy in this matter, and I’m just reinforcing that.”
“Just who are you? And, for that matter, those people back in that building? Or, if it’s not too hard to wrap your head around, who the hell have I been working for?”
“Good questions, all. At least now I can speak freely. As you can, Mr Jackson.”
“Except I have no idea who’s side you’re on, I’m on, or anyone for that matter. This is not what I signed up for.”
“Well, to put some perspective on your situation, Mr Jackson, you were not supposed to live to tell about it. It was an operation that was created with one purpose in mind, to find an agent named
William O’Connor, and kill him. And everyone in the team assigned to the task.”
“By Severin and Maury? If so, why didn’t they kill me in the alley along with this O’Connor?”
“That is a mystery to all of us.”
“And those people back in the room. Who the hell were they?”
“Operations. Trying to find out how a sub-section could be created and function within their purview and not be detected. That’s what it was, run by two agents who had been expelled a few months back, but who were clever enough to work around all of the safeguards, recruit four agents, and then go after the man who caused the end of their careers.”
“Simple, it seems.”
“Very. And, if it had not been for you, we would never have known who or why.”
“Perhaps we should be thankful there was an explosion then, otherwise we’d all be dead.”
“Or not, because as far as I know, that was part of the operation, designed to take the target, you and the surveillance member behind you. It only did a third the job. It didn’t go off at the critical moment. No one was seriously hurt, by the way.”
“Critical but stable. He’ll survive.”
“The police who were accusing me of being the bomber?”
“Our people trying to delay you, so our man could get away. Seems they trained you better than we expected. Did O’Connor say anything to you?”
“There wasn’t much time before I found him, and Severin shot him.”
“Anything at all?”
“He knew who I was.”
“Then he knew the whole team, and who was running it.”
“He killed two of them.”
“In self-defence. They were not only surveillance but also assassins. Different training before they joined your group.”
I had thought there was something odd about them.
“Anything else,” he asked again.
“Yes. He said to tell you he found something he should, and that the evidence is… And that’s when he was shot. He didn’t tell me where it was.”
“He didn’t have to. We had set up three prearranged drop sites, so it must be in one of those. Here’s my card.”
He handed me a white card with a name and a phone number. The name was not Nobbin.
“If this Severin contacts you again, call me. I am available any hour of the day or night on that number.”
“If he doesn’t?”
“Then you will hear from me in the not too distant future. The fact you’re a survivor tells me you are resourceful and have the makings of a good agent, one I can use in my department.”
“And those others back at the office?”
“You won’t hear from them again.”
The car stopped outside an underground staircase.
“This is your stop, Mr Jackson. Thank you for your co-operation.”
Perhaps my career wasn’t in tatters. I got out of the car, and watched it leave before heading for the underground, his card safely tucked away in my pocket.
© Charles Heath 2019