I’m back home and this story has been sitting on the 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 prioritizing.
But, here we are, a few minutes opened up and it didn’t take long to get back into the groove.
Chasing leads, maybe
“You left a paper trail, a car registration form at the flat in Bromley.”
I saw him shake his head. “I thought I’d removed any evidence.”
“Good thing then, that I found it, and not Severin who was next through the door.”
He nodded towards Jennifer. “What’s she doing here, she was one of your surveillance team.”
“She came with me. The department threw her out, I found her and asked her if she wanted to find out what was going on. Apparently, she did. Everyone can put their guns down now. We are, believe it or not, all friends here.”
Jennifer put her gun back in a pocket I hadn’t seen before.
Adam lowered his, but it was still ready to shoot if either of us made the wrong move. The old woman’s aim hadn’t changed; she was still intent on shooting me if I moved.
“Mother, give it up.”
A few seconds later she lowered the weapon, but it was still ready. To fire if I moved.
“Can we sit,” I asked. Having a gun aimed at you tended to make you feel week in the knees. I was.
There were three chairs in front of the fireplace, this room also having a fire ready but not lit, and one chair by the writing-table. We sat in the three chairs, the old woman over by the table. She put the rifle down on the desktop, within easy reach.
“My first question,” I said, “has to be, how are you still alive?”
“You left when Severin’s crew arrived to clean up. He left at the same time. Luckily. Then two of Dobbin’s agents arrived and cleaned up the cleaners, as it were, and took me to a safe place where it was discovered my injuries were not fatal.”
“You were hit by a sniper, that’s hard to believe he, or she, aimed to miss.”
“They didn’t. I think I moved slightly because of you, so I have you to thank for my life. Something else to remember, Dobbin doesn’t know I’m here, and I think the only link was that registration certificate. No one actually knows me by Adam Quigley, except, of course, my mother.
“And the USB everyone is after?”
A few seconds of silence, then, “It’s missing.”
“Were you the only one who knew where it was?”
“No, but as far as I’m aware, that person is dead, killed by the explosion you witnessed. We were due to meet there, just before the explosion which is why I was heading there.”
“You walked past it, as I recall.”
“Standard procedure. I walk past, check to see if the contact is there, then come back a few minutes later. I was running late, just got past when it went up. We would have both been in there, and dead.”
“And the USB gone with it?”
“Yes. My friend had it with him at the time. I was going there to pick it up.”
“No copies?” It was too much to expect there would be, even if it was worth more than life itself.
“No. That sort of information needs to be in as few places as possible.”
“You knew what it was about?”
“It’s above all our pay grades. But something I can tell you; I know why your Severin and Maury wanted it back.”
“It was theirs?”
“Yes. They originally stole it. I stole it from them and trying to return it to whom it belonged.”
“God, no. I’ve since discovered he’s as crooked as all the rest. But now that it’s gone, it doesn’t matter who the owner of the information is. Just staying one step ahead of the jackals, that’s the job in hand.”
© Charles Heath 2020-2021