Rodby’s generosity did not extend to the Citation taking me back to Venice, but he did fund a business class seat on a commercial flight the next morning.
I was in no hurry to go back, the overnight sojourn giving me time to make a plan of sorts. A few hours after I left the police I received a message from Alfie, with an attached sound file.
A recording of a phone call between Jaime and Larry.
“Your enemy just arranged for me to be dragged off to a police station and interrogated.”
An interesting start to a conversation.
Good to know he had more than one.
“You know who. He was supposed to be in Venice not London, and he’s not supposed to be working with anyone, yet it seems he is.”
“On what pretext did they take you in?”
“That C4 you left in your crates in my warehouse. They think it’s mine “
“Did you tell them about me?”
“Didn’t have to, you left your name all over the crates. They’ll be looking for you.”
“Let them look. What did he have to say?”
“Annoyed that you’re going after him.”
“How does he know that?”
“How does he know anything, Larry. He does. He says his ex-boss is the one who wants you, not him, and that story you told me about him killing your brother, it’s not true.”
“He’s lied to you, just like I said he would.”
“Then that means your mother is lying too, because I called her, and she had a different version of events. I can’t trust you, and you are now very hot property and I can’t afford to be involved with you. The police have taken the crates away, so as far as I’m concerned it’s the last I want to see of them, and you. Don’t try to contact me again.”
The phone went dead.
Good. She did the right thing, though it was as expected. She could also quite easily contact him another way, but for the time being, I’d give her the benefit of the doubt.
Next, I called Larry’s mother.
Same background noise, it seemed she didn’t want to go home. Larry must be ingratiating himself.
“I spoke to Jaime, the woman Larry is purported to be romancing. He is not, or not as far as I can tell.”
“She has since then.”
“She does now. What would Larry want with C4?”
“Vaults. His father used to specialize in blowing safes and tried to teach the son but Larry nearly blew the both of them to the afterlife.”
“It’d have to be a very big safe.”
“You could always ask him yourself. He’s going to be around for dinner tomorrow night. Just be wary of the bodyguards. There’s three of them.”
“Things might get a little rough, do you really want that in your house?”
“Someone needs to teach the bastard a lesson. By the way, a good call from that Jaime woman, asking me about your role with my sons. She seemed surprised.”
“I wasn’t very nice to her.”
“She’s a criminal, not a thoroughly bad one like Larry, but one nonetheless. You don’t have to be nice to them. Let’s hope she doesn’t have to worry about her sons like I had to.”
That was the problem with that sort of family business. The children really have nowhere to go but join or disappear. Then it became a battle for survival, especially if you had a parent running the organization. Then there were always expectations, and then that first kill.
Larry’s brother had never wanted that life, he wanted to live on his terms, but neither the father nor the eldest son and successor saw it that way.
“I thought I could escape all of this cloak-and-dagger stuff, but Larry seems to have put that on hold. Perhaps if we have a little chat he might change his mind.”
“I think it would be better than what you had in mind. He increased their guards too when he was not here, and it’s unsettling for her, and especially me. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
It couldn’t be easy for her with a son like him, especially bow the police were looking for him. He was not going to get back into the country because his name will be on an alert list, so it would be interesting to see how he got back home.
He had the means, simply because he had turned up in Sorrento using none of the known methods of transportation. And he didn’t own a private jet, or at least, one that I knew of. Something else to investigate.
I called Alfie.
“Got the message. Interesting call.”
“Do you believe her?”
“Not really. But we’ll know soon enough. Um having dinner at his mother’s tomorrow night and he will be there.”
“Then play c is off the table for the moment?”
Plan c was taking his effect and child to use as leverage. It might still be needed, depending on the upcoming meeting.
“Backburner. Where’s Cecilia?”
“I moved her to your place. Seemed the best option.”
“She will need a sniper rifle, and get herself to Sorrento tomorrow morning. Give the address. She’ll need a site that gives a good view of the dining room. And needless to say, no advertising her presence.”
“Have you got a plan?”
“Not really. He’s not going to do a lot with his wife and daughter there, but, again, it’s Larry and he is unpredictable.”
“I hope you know what you’re doing “
“Never. Now, it seems the C4 was to crack a safe or create a diversion. You need to get the team onto finding out what he’s planning. You might want to go through ex-partners and associates in case he’s on a revenge kick.”
“Rodby said he wouldn’t be unhappy if you just shot him.”
“We’re not allowed to.”
“There are ways and means.”
“Then we’re no better than they are. We’ve had this conversation a few times.”
“We’re not winning the war, and people are getting restless. There’s talk Rodby will be replaced by a more aggressive department head.”
That was all the department needed, someone to hasten its demise. It was already vastly limited in what it could do, and in recent years reduced to little more than intelligence gathering and a few side missions. After I left, it had lost its sting in the tail. I thought Rodby was marking time for his retirement.
Now it seemed that might come earlier than expected. Was this why he was pushing the Larry project, one last hurrah?
“It won’t happen, they can’t possibly get rid of institutions like him.”
“I hope you’re right.”
© Charles Heath 2022