It all started in Venice – Episode 17

A trip back home

“Should I draw any conclusion from you hiding in the bathroom?”

Cecilia was awake and sitting up when I came back into the room.

“Just needed to be away from any distractions.”

“Should I take it as a compliment you think me a distraction.”

“I meant it in a good way.  I’m glad you’re here, and I appreciate your perspective.  It means there’s a new plan.”

The bedside clock glowed at 4:15.  I climbed back into bed.  A plan formulated, it could wait a few hours to fill in the details.  “Get some sleep.  You’re going to need it.”

When I woke 4 hours later, Cecilia was gone and my phone was ringing.

“You’re in luck.”

Alfie.

It took a moment to register who it was, and what he was saying.

“How?”

“Rodby wants a meet, but we’ve been informed there’s going to be a raid on Larry’s girlfriend’s premises and they’re taking her in for questioning.  We’re arranging for you to visit.  You’ve got an hour to get to the airport.  I’m sending the details now.”

Rodby of old, summoning agents mid-mission, almost having to break cover, or upset the mission at a delicate point just so he could tell us something that very easily could be said over a secure line.

I had not missed him at all.

I got to the airport with ten minutes to spare, taking Cecilia with me to fill her in on the overall plan.  I told her to go off-grid until I returned.  Now she was in Juliet’s sights which meant Larry might target her, and even though she was quite able to look after herself, she didn’t need to take unnecessary risks.

The plane was not a commercial flight but a private jet Rodby had sent for me.  It was not subject to loading passengers or baggage both of which could go missing or be subject to late arrival of the incoming flight, or missing crew members on other such flights, all of which had happened to me many times in the past.

Urgency and commercial airlines didn’t seem to get along.

In these cases, it was simply a matter of getting on the plane, taking a seat and departing, all of which took a little more than 30 minutes.  Two and a half hours later I was on the ground at London City airport.

Rodby himself was there to greet me.

In the back of his ancient Rolls Royce, chauffeur-driven, of course, he smiled at me as he opened the door.  Beaumont was his name no first name just Beaumont.

He closed the door and then went back to the front of the car.  A few minutes of private conversation, even though I was sure he never listened.

“It is nice to see you again.  I’m surprised though you deigned to come considering your aversion to these meetings.”

“I’m not at a critical point in the mission, so why would I pass up a chance to fly in a Citation?  Send, for the record, I was hoping never to see you again.”

He smiled, well, maybe mother a smile but a smirk.  He once said I was the only one to tell him exactly what I thought and I corrected him the only one to say it to his face.

“If wishes were water.”

His favourite analogy though it took a while before I worked out what it mean.

“I’d need a boat.  Yes.  I know.  Now, why am I here, other than to see Denise.  Stupid question, if the police are aware of her activities, why did it take them so long to shake her down.”

“No concrete evidence.  As you are aware with these new lawyered-up criminals’ we have to be very precise when laying charges.  She’ll be very happy to learn her new best friend Larry has dropped her in it.”

“And I’m here to see her for?”

“Just to shake the trees and see what falls out.  She’s a tough cookie so you’re going to have to leave Mr nice guy at the door.”

Rodby never liked my interrogation style even though it got results.  I didn’t think he’d appreciate me saying I didn’t like violence which was to him an odd thing to say for one in this line of business.

I shrugged.  “I’ve made a note.  Anything else?”

“What are you intending to do now that Violetta has passed?”

“Not come back to rejoin your merry band of misfits.  I was thinking of living on an island somewhere in the middle of the Pacific ocean, one that doesn’t have an airstrip.”

“Well, if you change your mind, the door is always open.”

Conversation over, he waved to the chauffeur.  It was time to go.

© Charles Heath 2022

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