It all started in Venice – Episode 14

Larry has a plan

I watched Juliet head back towards the hotel, joining the throng of tourists out walking in the refreshing night air before going back to their hotels.

The walk along the grand canal was particularly good and I’d taken it more than once over the years.  Perhaps I would again, tonight, before retiring to contemplate the next move in what was becoming a chess game.

Why had Larry decided after all this time to come after me?  And why the softly softly approach?  In bringing up Kerry’s mother in the conversation, it gave me the idea that perhaps I could ask her.

Of course given the fractious nature of the relationship between her and her son she might not know, but it was worth calling her if only to touch base after so long.  I was sure she would know about what happened to Violetta and understand.

Just before she disappeared from sight I could see her answering a call on her cell phone.  No doubt Larry was looking for more information after the revelations she had relayed to him.

Doing what I had was the equivalent of a double-edged sword, as the saying goes.  On the one hand, he might consider her had the advantage of knowing when and where I was going, but on the other, I knew he would be waiting, and therefore be prepared, though often preparation counted for nothing with unpredictable people like him.

Still, it was done now.  It also threw up another interesting sidebar, that Juliet didn’t like Cecilia if only for the reason she was with me.  Was it jealousy?  Surely she could not still have any feelings for me after all this time, and what she had gone through?

But, in normal circumstances, had she not been involved in this charade, and I had accidentally run into her in the street, what might my feelings be?  They had been all over the place that last time, following a near-death experience, and when my service was in its infancy.  It was a time when a lot of young agents got caught up in the euphoria of action, and some made fatal mistakes.

I had used one of my nine lives then, and several more since, before retiring.  I had never intended to return, but circumstances change, and whatever I may have wanted might have to take a back seat until this matter was sorted.  Then Rodby would make his play, as he always had, citing the losing battle we faced without people like me steering the ship in the right direction.

He was great with analogies, and praise, and putting you in a position where saying no was almost a crime against the state.  A bridge I would have to cross eventually.

The restaurant was closing for the night and a waiter came to gently tell us to leave.  It wasn’t late, but it was time to go.

I didn’t get far before a message appeared on my phone, a rendezvous outside the Doges Palace.  Alfie no doubt had the gist of the incoming call Juliet received not a half-hour before.

He was loitering inconspicuously when I found him, pretending to have an animated conversation with someone on the other end of his cell phone, speaking and gesturing as all Italians seemed to do.

He waved when he saw me, then wound up the fictitious call.

“Perhaps you should also be in the movies.  That was a very eloquent performance.”

He smiled.  “It wouldn’t fool too many people.”

“Is this about Juliet’s call?”

He looked surprised.

“I saw her get a call after she left me to go back to the hotel.”

“Of course.  And, yes.  He seems very upset you called him a moron.”

“If the shoe fits…  Don’t tell me he rang her just to vent over me calling him names.”

“No.  Just to tell her where and when she had to take you to your impending doom.  Seems the wait is over, and since you announced you’re going to visit his mother, he thought it was a perfect opportunity.”

I thought later, after I mentioned it, that it might present him with the means, and to use Juliet of who I would not suspect of luring me into a trap.  It was, in a way, on his part, very clever.

“What was her response?”

“A few choices words, and the fact she was not that close she could make such a request.”

“And let me guess, if she wants to see her brother again, come up with a plan?”

“More or less.  Do you really want to do this, this way?”

“Forewarned is forearmed.  It’s better than going in blind.  Is Cecilia a trained sniper?”

Many years ago Rodby insisted all his agents be trained to the highest proficiency in using a wide variety of guns.  I was in the first intake to benefit, and I had to say, sniper work was the best.

“She is.”

“Then I’ll talk to her. And get her there ahead of time, you too if possible, unless your operating Rodby’s chessboard in Italy.”

“No, I can take time out.  But I insist we have a solid plan before doing this.  No ad hoc, spur-of-the-moment stuff that Rodby tells me you’re famous for.”

Sometimes it was the only way, because the more people who knew, the less chance of success, particularly if there was a foreign mole in your midst.

“You’ll know everything as soon as I do.  Trust me.”

His look told me she did everything but trust me.  “You think you might get a visit in the night?”

“Should I sleep with Cecilia just to make it more interesting?”

“She’s not your personal toy to play with.”

“Wasn’t going to.  It’s just to make Juliet edgier, which, if she saw Cecilia in her pajamas, might push a button and catches her off guard.”

“It’s your call.  Let me know when the plan is set.”

Another thought came to mind, something I’d been thinking about.  “We don’t know where Larry has the bother holed up?  As I understand it, his on a video link so it’s not out in the wide-open spaces.”

“Not at the moment, but we’re working on it.  If it’s relevant I’ll let you know.  It would give us an advantage if we had him, but at the moment, it’s not on the table.  If and when you meet up with  Larry, he will be asking you a lot of questions.

And, as if he hadn’t been there at all, he was gone.  What was worrying was the reappearance of the Frenchman, nearby, and it was clear he had been following either me or Juliet.  There was no doubt he’d seen me with Alfie, but since the whole conversation had been conducted in Italian, it was hard to tell what he would have made of it.

Time would tell.  I would take a walk, consider the options and then go back to the hotel.

© Charles Heath 2022

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