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 haven’t been truthful with me, have you?”
That was Dobbin’s opening shot once we were in the car and out in traffic. It was as if he was worried someone would be listening in on our conversation.
“Says the spider to the fly. Isn’t it the nature of this business not to play all your cards at once?”
“You’ve been in this business all of five minutes. You don’t get the right to play cards.”
“I’m still alive, no thanks to anyone but my own skill.”
I could see the disdain in his expression, and the annoyance in his eyes. Perhaps he was a man used to getting his own way. I was expecting a retort, but he said nothing.
“How many different organizations do you work for, or is it none, and you just have fake IDs to get you in the door?”
“Need to know. Have you found O’Connell yet?”
“He’s dead. I saw him killed in an alley. I’m sure Maury and Severin had him shot, no coincidence they turned up just after he hit the ground. I searched the body, there was nothing on it. Before he was shot, he told me to speak to you. I did. Anything else I’m doing is for my own protection. Assigning Jan to befriend me, then play me would have been a good plan if I hadn’t found out. I know she found O’Connell’s other residence, but I’m willing to bet she found as much as I did nothing. Your people do that to Maury?”
“In a manner of speaking. He wasn’t going to talk, and we couldn’t let him back on the street.”
“And knowing that I would go back to the hotel, what were you hoping for, that I would get arrested for his murder?”
“We were hoping you would glean information from her handler, or the police. Seems both are either tight-lipped, or they know nothing. Her handler is an incompetent fool.”
“Where is she?”
“Waiting for you at her apartment. I want the pair of you to find O’Connell. He either has the information, or he knows where it is. They found the charred remains of a body in the cafe where the explosion was, a freelance reporter, who, according to his editor, had the story of the century. No other details, though.”
“That either means military or industrial secrets. Why would the reporter want to meet with O’Connell?”
“That’s not your concern.”
“Well, you’re wrong if you think O’Connell had the USB. He didn’t get inside the cafe before it blew up, I know, I was there, and witness the whole event. You know the drill, he goes past, checking to see if the target is in place, then makes sure the location is clear, then goes back and facilitates the handover. He only just got past the front when the bomb went off. I’m sure you’ve seen the CCTV footage.”
Yes, his expression told me he had.
“So how do you come to the conclusion he still has it?”
Never cite logical arguments to a man who lives in a fantasy world.
“Law of averages tells me there is a copy, and O’Connell would have made sure there was a backup plan, and location.”
It then struck me, after having talked to O’Connell, and knowing Dobbin knew O’Connell was still alive because he had rescued him from the alley and Severin’s cleaners. It was not just a matter of getting him to admit it, and the fact O’Connell had done a runner on him.
“You seem convinced O’Connell is still alive.”
He glared at me. Truth or dare?
“Because he is. The trouble is, he’s gone to ground and I can’t raise him. He was supposed to wait a few days in a safe place while we hunted down Severin and Maury. We had one, but not the other. I doubt he’ll surface before he gets word that Severin has been neutralized. Every hour that information is still out there, is the chance it will fall into the wrong hands, so we need him and the information found.”
“You think he’s gone rogue.”
“I don’t think anything.
The car stopped outside O’Connell’s apartment block.
“Place nice with Jan, and find him and the information.
I got out of the car and watched it rejoin the traffic.
Before heading to the front entrance, my phone rang. Odd, because only two people knew my number, and it was neither of those two.
Curiosity overcame reluctance to answer. “Yes.”
“I’m texting a meeting point. Be there at six.” The line went dead before I could say anything. Four hours.
No doubting the voice. Severin. And he sounded scared.
I wondered if he knew what had happened to his partner in crime.
© Charles Heath 2020-2022