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.
An unlikely ally?
When we were far enough away, not far from the bridge that crossed the Thames towards the Houses of Parliament, and with the London Eye in the foreground, I slackened my pace. There were enough people around to afford us cover if Maury and his team realised quickly enough what we had done to escape.
“What now?” she asked.
“Go back to your people, tell them you’ve been compromised, but only on the basis that your flat was tossed, don’t mention Nobbin or Severin unless you feel compelled you have to, and make sure you don’t go back to the flat. Both of them will have it staked out by now.”
“And what are you doing to do?”
“Try and play them off against each other, which probably won’t work. I’m not nearly good enough at this caper yet. Unfortunately, I’m going to have to talk to both of them and tell them I’m onto McConnell, though that will hardly be a surprise to either of them. After that, find somewhere safe to figure out what to do next.”
“Who was that back at the station?”
“A chap called Maury, and I think he’s one of Severin’s hatchet men. He was one of those who trained me and several others.”
“You do realise what you’re saying?”
“That my situation is so screwed up, yes, I know.”
It was when I stopped to think about it. Trained by a rogue group no one knew about, or so they said, and transferred to another group, but not told about it, well, not officially, anyway.
“Maybe we should keep each other’s back. I mean, if what you say is true, if I go back to my people and tell them about this, it’s likely I’ll be putting a target on my back too.”
True. I had considered that, but not that we might team up. It would introduce a third group to the game, and it might be one too many, or act as a catalyst leading to catastrophic consequences.
“What are you saying?” I asked her, just in case I was misinterpreting what she was saying.
“I’m not safe, you’re not safe, together we might be. I might have something useful about O’Connell, but I wouldn’t know if it was useful of not. You at least know what to look for, and basically who to avoid. Who knows, we might make a great team.”
We might. But it would have to be predicated on trust, and, right now, I was not sure if I could trust her. That pen thing, she might have precipitated it, and was working with Severin. It seemed logical in the circumstances.
But what was that saying, keep your friends close, and your enemies closer? I’d soon find out.
“Ok. What do you think we should do first?”
“Find a hotel, an obscure one, nearby, and you call your so-called friends, and see what happens, as you said.”
I nodded. “Sounds like a plan.”
And, I thought to myself, ideal for her if she was insinuating herself into my world, much the same as she had in O’Connell’s case. In was now in my nature to suspect everyone and everything, because a few words of one lesson came back to haunt me. We trust people because we instinctively want to believe them, and in this line of work, the people we come across are good and sincere storytellers.
It was a question of how much truth they weaved into their story, that made it believable. I wanted to believe her, but the facts, circumstantial or otherwise, pointed me in the other direction.
I would have to wait and see and make sure I was prepared for the worst.
It was Jan’s idea t stay near the Charing Cross station in a hotel that I would not normally stay in because of the cost. I let Jan do the check-in and when we arrived at the room, I discovered she hadn’t booked two rooms, but a Studio Suite with two single beds and a sofa bed.
Apparently, we were brother and sister, which made sense after I had overheard some of the conversation with the check-in clerk. I didn’t hear what her excuse was for lack of luggage. Perhaps the airline had lost it, but I had to admit the girl could think on her feet.
Once inside the room, it felt cramped, but the beds looked comfortable, and it had a minibar.
“Before you make any calls, you need to disable the GPS in your phone.”
“They’ll still be able to track it.”
“Not if you are on it for a short period, and we are outside the hotel.”
Well, before that I need a drink.”
“So, do I. Give me a minute to freshen up and we’ll go down to the bar. It’ll be a lot cheaper than the minibar. Then I think we both need to get some supplies.”
I wondered if this is what it was like to be married.
© Charles Heath 2019