A Desert Storm Honeymoon
‘Hey Ron, this twenty-pound note says you can't pull that bird over there.’
Nel was twiddling the note between his thumb and index finger in a playful, teasing manner and a mischievous smile danced on his dark scrawny face.
‘You know the one’, Nel jibed, ‘I saw your eyes pop right out of your head when you looked at her just now.’ He released a wicked chuckle from somewhere deep in his throat, his twinkling eyes still looking towards the bar where the newly arrived girl was sitting on a tall stool, one elegant leg crossed atop the other.
Of course, Ron had seen her and had been immediately struck by her astonishing radiance, her sumptuous jet-black locks and her brief red dress. But he'd quickly torn off his eyes from her direction. Not his type. He’d rather go for plain, fat girl like Tracey from HR. This girl was obviously way out of his league. She would take one look at him and break out in hysterics.
The North London Aeon Club wasn’t Ron’s scene anyway. It wasn’t a place he’d go for fun; he was there only because Nel had dragged him there. Nel seemed to have taken him on as a rehabilitation challenge, fancying himself as a sort of social alchemist who could turn a reclusive geek into a formidable party animal. Ron worked at the Sidcup Horticultural Centre as a porter, and Nel had been there as a visiting Inspector, or something to that effect, for only one week. Ron first met Nel one morning while waiting for the 198 bus to Park Street, where the centre was located. Nel had asked Ron for the time and, somehow, they’d strayed into a conversation about computer networks and websites. And, from then on, they’d developed something that could be passed off as a friendship.
Nel was obviously fascinated by Ron’s reserved, taciturn deportment which provided boundless possibilities for caricature humour, and he often referred mockingly to Ron as ‘the mad genius.’
Ron was often mildly irritated by Nel’s disparaging remarks, but, overall, he admired Nel for his bravado and positive energy. And, anyway, it was nice to have someone show some interest in him for a change. Ron was living proof that one man could be an island - he did not get on with any of the ‘tossers’ at his workplace, he lived alone and did not have any close relatives.
Nel took Ron to the ‘hottest’ restaurants and clubs in London just to show him how to have a good time, but he never felt at ease in any of those places. To him, it was all a flurry of noise and activity, which he could not understand how anyone could enjoy. He would rather waste away in his basement bed-sit at Grosvenor Court, fixing old computers and listening to his Eminem and 50 Cents CDs.
At times, it seemed Nel enjoyed Ron’s discomfiture at the clubs where Ron always felt out of place, in the company of Nel’s other friends. It would often appear that Nel had brought him along as entertainment.
Ron's eyes were not the only ones that had popped at the sight of the pretty girl. Nel’s eyes had popped too, as well as Chris’ and Adam’s who there that night. Ron should have passed on the challenge, but he had his pride to defend, despite his distinct lack of charm. He’d never tried to chat up a girl, and he was sure that this one would waste no time in telling him where to go, hopefully politely. He'd made the choice between carrying the slur of cowardice and the pain that would ensue from the inevitable rejection that was about to be mete out to him. Either way it would all end in his humiliation.
'OK, Nel', Ron heard himself say, 'you’re on.' He suddenly wished he’d drunk more beer.
Nel chuckled again as Ron proceeded uncertainly towards the bar. ‘Hey, watch this, guys.’ He said to Chris and Adam. They both grinned like a couple of tickled bats as they waited for the show of shame to commence. They even took bets on how long it would take Ron to crawl back, his face contorted in anguish, and tail between his legs.
But fifteen minutes later, Ron was still chatting with the girl. After that they exchanged numbers, and Ron returned to the boys with a smile as broad as the M25. ‘Nice girl’ he said. ‘She’s waiting for her brother who is the DJ here tonight. Now, where’s that twenty pounds, I’ll buy you guys another round.’ They looked towards the bar and she waved cheerily at them.
That was how Ron and Juliet first met. What had really happened at the bar that night was that he came straight out and told her about the bet, and begged her to, please, play along, and listen to him politely for 10 only minutes. To his immense relief, she agreed and seemed quite keen on the whole game. The exchange of numbers was even her idea. Ron had thanked her profusely and returned to his stunned friends with a jaunty spring in his steps. And he’d thought that was the end of it.
When his mobile phone rang the following day he froze in his tracks the moment recognized her cheery voice. She’d called to take him up on his offer to take her to the cinema, as her reward for playing along at the club. He couldn't remember making any such offer. All he could say was ‘ah - of course’.
And thus began the oddest relationship between the world’s most mismatched couple. Gorgeous Juliet whose grace and style arrested the attention of all men who set eyes on her; and the awkward, overweight Ron whose smarminess turned heads, but only in the opposite direction. But from the twinkle in her clear hazel eyes, when she looked at him, there could be no mistake that what was between them was the purest possible form of romance.
Juliet worked at the Travel agency on the High street at Bexley Heath. They’d formed the habit of meeting up at the town center after work and then scooting off to London on the mainline trains. Ron never got to meet any of Juliet’s family. Her mom, who, she was ashamed to say, was a criminal and drug addict, had died two years before, and Juliet never knew her dad. Her brother, David the DJ, was also a pilot, and she rarely saw him.
Ron himself was no stranger to family dysfunction. He’d run away from his foster parents when he was 16, and he’d never been back to see them; he didn’t imagine they would want again, to see him either.
Right from day-1 their relationship had taken off like a supercharged V2, and they‘d fast-tracked from casual companionship to engagement in two weeks flat, and set the date for their wedding. Even Ron could not believe the rate at which events unravelled. His usually ordered pace of living had exploded into a dizzying frenzy of late-night parties, shopping sprees and romantic, hand holding, riverside walks. They were on a runaway train coursing through life’s tangled railway network without a single care. But Ron did not mind, because it was so much better than tinkering with old computers in his basement bed-sit - a life that he’d been previously resigned to. He found himself making plans for his future with Juliet. He’d quit his job at the Horticultural Centre, and find something more respectable - do a course in Information Systems, or something similar. Then they’d move out of London area, to someplace in Surrey, settle down and start a family into which they would put everything that they failed to receive. This sort of stuff had never crossed his mind before, and he sometimes wondered where the hell they were coming from.
They both agreed that their wedding was going to be a non-event. It was going to be strictly private - all that mattered was that it should take place. So instead of a lavish wedding and reception, they would concentrate their efforts and resources on a lavish honeymoon. Ron could not remember whose idea it was, but they decided to have a two-week holiday to Tripoli and Morocco.
Juliet had always wanted to go to Tripoli since her brother had returned from his driving tour of North Africa several years before he became a pilot. He’d brought some stunning pictures back, and he was forever prattling on about the wonderful experience of the deserts, the beeches, the domes and the arches. She’d heard about a place called Leptis Magna with stunning scenes of roman architecture, and the Acacus Mountains in the Sahara with endless views of sand dunes, gorges and ancient artwork carved or painted on rocks. She was determined that, one day, she would go there with someone special.
Ron’s fascination with North Africa had existed since his primary school when he’d learnt about the Nile and the ancient Egyptian civilization. Sunny scenes of the desert and the sultry visage of the streets and markets of Egypt, in the school video, had been permanently etched in his mind. Later he’d seen a postcard of the Green square in Tripoli, and that had stuck in his memory too. He was convinced that Tripoli had to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world. In his teens, he’d followed the politics of Egypt and Libya, and had nursed some admiration for Gaddafi, because of the African leader’s defiance of Western interests that blatantly smacked of imperialist opportunism. He even had a poster of Gaddafi in his military paraphernalia, back then, when other teenagers had posters of Madonna or Mariah Carey. What attracted Ron was the idea of the ‘struggle’ - a resistance against higher powers meting out unfairness to the underdog, but making out that they were dispensing justice and goodwill.
But it was long ago that he’d harbored such sentiments. Moreover, he’d seen recent pictures of Gaddafi, which, despite the old man’s vain efforts, he wouldn’t want to display anywhere in his bed-sit. Still, perhaps he might catch a glimpse of the ‘mad dog’, himself, while they were out there in Libya, Ron wondered.
They flew out straight after their wedding which took place at the Woolwich Town Hall. Apart from themselves and the Marriage officiant, the ceremony was attended only by a young black man in flayed jeans trusers. They picked him up on the street at the last minute, when Nel did not turn up. The stranger was kind enough to take a single wedding photograph with Ron’s 6MP Mobile phone camera. It did not take more than 20 minutes before they emerged from the registry as Mr Ronald and Mrs Juliet Mathews, and headed straight to Gatwick Airport in a waiting black cab.
As they were airborne, Ron stared into the mesmerizing pair of hazel jewels that were the eyes of the angel he married. He was still not entirely sure exactly what it was that she liked about him. He was disarmed by her perfume, and her warmth cause an incredible excitement to pulsate in his veins. Juliet, lost in her own dream world of a delightful future, rested on Ron chubby shoulders, looking in his beady brown eyes. Neither of them gave any further heed to recent news of riots and demonstrations going on where they were heading. Events were often exergerated by the press. Besides, the economy of Libya was supposed to be stable, so it couldn't possibly be that bad. Moreover, as long as they avoided the trouble spots, they were bound to be okay. They did not notice, either, that the Airbus A380 that was speedily conveying them on their direct flight to Tripoli International Airport was carrying only about 10% of its normal peak-time capacity.
The first real sign of trouble surfaced when the captain announced that they would not be landing at the Tripoli International Airport in Ben Ghashir as planned. He would try to land the plane on the Mitiga runway which had been cleared. A worried Air hostess confirmed that Ben Ghashir was under siege from the protesters and armed rebels. That dealt a minor blow to Ron and Juliet's plans as they’d indented to stay at the Al Waddan hotel which was very close to the International airport. Now they would either have to find their way to Ben Ghashir or book another hotel.
As the plane descended, Juliet held her breath and clung tightly to Ron’s arm. They were not at all prepared for the view that rushed to meet the underbelly of the plane. It was not the idyllic visage that they’d envisaged. What they saw instead was a dilapidated skyline strewn with ruined minarets and burnt out vehicles. There were also spots with dark billowing smokes. The ‘beautiful’ city of Tripoli had turned into a war-zone.
They cleared customs and immigration with astonishing ease, mainly because the desks were unmanned. Ron tugged their suitcase with one hand and held Juliet's hand with the other as they made their way out to the main concourse, their hearts beating like jungle drums, and their legs trembling like a broken reed in a desert storm. The whole place was packed with a thoroughly disorderly scrum of expatriates and locals trying, desperately to get on the next plane out of the country. The crowd was interspersed with a sprinkling of rag-tag, AK-47 totting militia who shouted at people and shoved them about. Juliet and Ron stood and stared in dismay beside a broken TV camera that had been abandoned under a large sign in red and green that said, ‘WELCOME TO LIBYA.’
Finally, Ron snapped out of his temporary paralysis, and they made for the main exit, ‘Come on, at least, let’s see if we can get away from this place.’ It didn't look good outside at all. It was already getting dark, and there were no cars anywhere in sight. It looked as if they were doomed to spend the first night of their honeymoon in the disorderly and dangerous Airport.
‘You a want Taxi to town?’ It was a smallish Libyan man in a black kaftan and fez hat. ‘I take you anywhere for Dollars.’
Ron eyed the man for a few seconds and then shrugged, Juliet squeezed Ron’s hand.
‘OK, could you get us to our hotel in Ben Ghashir?’
‘That is quite far, but it can be done. That will be one hundred dollars.’
The man took their suitcase, and they followed him round to a side-street where he’d parked his dark blue Mercedes 200. Ron and Juliet sat at the back while he nosed the car unto the open road after a few false starts of the engine. And then, even as they drove away, there was a prolonged rattle from the Airport concourse that could only be the firing of rounds from an AK-47.
‘We have to be careful’, the man told them, ‘There is a curfew.’
They drove through the ghost streets of the Hadija district, taking sharp turns into side streets. ‘We avoid the Police check points’ He said, ‘If they see you, they will take you away’.
But after about 10 minutes, the Mercedes broke down.
‘Petrol.’ the man said. And then he muttered something in dialect, and Ron wondered if there were any swear-words in Arabic.
‘Now what?’ Juliet asked, staring at Ron. She had a thin scarf round her shoulders and she looked small and vulnerable.
‘Come on, guys’, said the driver, opening the door, ‘Now we walk.’
‘Where are we going?’, Juliet queried plaintively.
‘We must find a place to hide before the patrol comes here. In here, quick.’
It was dark, and the place smelt of stale oil and burnt plastic. A sort of shop, perhaps, but it wasn’t clear what had once been on the shelves. They could hear sounds of people talking in restrained Arabic tones, coming from somewhere at the back. It grew louder as they further entered the room. Their guide tapped on a wooden panel. A door opened, and a head popped out, swaddled on a dusty turban. ‘Is that you, Khalid?’, the head asked, ‘Don’t just stand there, come in at once.’
There were five of them in the room, dimly lit by a small, battery operated, fluorescent lamp that cast long shadows on the surrounding walls as it flickered randomly.
‘Who are our new guests?’ asked the same voice that let them in.
‘Picked them up at the Airport...’ Khalid began to say, but he stopped when he saw that the man was looking at Ron to answer the question.
‘We’re here for our honeymoon.’ Ron said.
The man guffawed. Khalid said something in Arabic to the other members of the crew, and they burst out in a suppressed round of laughter.
Ron looked at Juliet and was surprised that, in spite of their dire situation, even she had seen the funny side of it. He was the only one who failed to be amused.
‘Welcome to the Hotel California’ the turban quipped, and there was another round of laughter.
‘Isn’t there somewhere we can go? Somewhere unaffected by the disturbance?’
‘No, I’m afraid. You must find your way to the embassy and get yourselves back where you came from, this not the tourist-friendly place that it was two months ago.’ He had a mixture of middle-eastern and American accent, and they were later to find that he was called Hassan. ‘We can’t leave here until tomorrow morning, when it should be much safer.’ He seemed at ease, and the rest of his gang did not show any sign of panic either. ‘I guess you guys must be perched. Unfortunately, the water here is rationed.’
He passed a plastic bottle to Ron. Juliet pulled a face, shook her head and quickly looked away. Ron lifted the bottle to his dry, itchy lips.
That night they slept on the floor and used their suitcase as a shared pillow. Ron struggled to keep awake but soon blacked out within 20 minutes of lying down. When he woke up, he was surprised that it was broad daylight. Although it was still dark in the room, there were shafts of light from little holes in the in the walls, and there was some light from the door which was slightly ajar. He sat bold upright when he sensed that he was there on his own. There was no sign of the men and - even more alarming - there was no sign of Juliet. He sprang to his legs, and was immediately hit by an explosive jab in his head, sending out excruciating pulsations that caused him to shut his eyes quickly. It was like the mother of all hangovers. He stood still for a few seconds while his head slowly cleared; meanwhile, an increasing despair welled up in his mind.
He found that the suitcase had been opened, and the contents were strewn all over the floor. The bathroom bag had disappeared, and so had his mobile phone. He staggered out into the outer room which was flooded with daylight and revealed a thoroughly ransacked electronics shop with ripped wires hanging out of holes in the wall, and bits of smashed appliances all over the floor.
He roamed the empty streets, moaning deliriously, tripping over the rubbles and falling into ditches. The sun had come out, and his neck was burning with the growing heat. The whole place was deserted, and the smell of burning tires dominated the air. He thought he’d seen an old woman across the road, but she vanished as he raised his voice. He did not know how to get to the embassy or back to the Airport, and he feared that he was beginning to lose his mind. Even when he heard the sound of approaching steps of military boots, his mind did not register until a curt voice blurted out something to him in Arabic. He turned round, blinked unconsciously, and the image of a man in paramilitary outfit slowly crystallised before his eyes.
Ron followed the soldier. They walked through an alleyway bounded by bullet-ridden walls and, as they turned a corner he saw a converted pick-up truck parked in the middle of the road. They entered, and the soldier drove for several minutes. None of Ron’s attempts to initiate a conversation worked. The soldier’s face remained expressionless and, concluding that the man was on a vow of silence, Ron finally gave up until they finally arrived at the gates of a military compound and were ushered in by a uniformed guard carrying a pump action gun and wearing a bullet sash Rambo style.
Inside, there were more armed soldiers patrolling the premises. Ron was taken to a high-ranking officer who sat behind a desk and peered through a pair of black framed glasses. His face remained placid, and he spoke in English but without any variation in his tone.
‘If you want your woman back, there is something you must do for us.’ He motioned towards the corner of the room, and Ron noticed that there was a computer monitor and a keyboard on a desk. ‘We have intercepted a stream of coded information, and we want you to decipher it.’
Ron was overcome by a sudden hysteria, and he giggled. The officer might as well have told him to grow a pair of wings, fly to the end of the rainbow, and bring back a pot of gold.
‘I’m sorry’, he gibbered, ‘I don’t know anything about encryption - I have an old computer at home, but it isn’t even connected to the Internet.’
The officer continued to stare at Ron without any change in expression, and then once more, motioned towards the computer. His eyes flashed briefly, and Ron realised that the conversation was over for the time being. Even if he couldn't do anything, there was just no point saying so; ‘No’ was not a word this guy was used to hearing. Ron shrugged and allowed himself to be led to the chair in front of the computer. He was at least grateful to be able to sit down since he was tired, and his stomach churned in protest to the hunger that was eating away at his guts. He stared hopelessly at the computer. He wouldn’t even know where to begin. For all his fantastic boasts to Nel, he’d never managed to get any of the old computers in his bed-sit working. He thought about Juliet, and his throat hurt. Where the hell was she being held? He’d do anything to have her back, as long as it was within his means.
Ron did not know how long he’d sat in front of the computer. He’d been aware of people coming in and going out of the office, and at times, he heard an exchange of words between the officer and other soldiers. At some point, he was given a piece of dry bread which he ate gratefully. He was given some water in a tin cup which he also drank without hesitation.
It was getting dark, and the Officer had left the office for what seemed like an eternity. Ron remained there in his despair, conscious that he was under strict observation. His eyes were heavy, and he found himself drifting off, but he became instantly alert when he was prodded in the ribs by a youngish looking Libyan soldier. Ron quickly got to his feet, vaguely wondering where next his ordeal was taking him.
They were in another truck, and the driver sped through the night on a bumpy road that rocked them mercilessly from side to side. Their destination was a main building in another heavily guarded compound that had every appearance of a commandeered 5-star hotel.
The entire place was in darkness. Ron was led into a large unlit hall and made to sit on a leather sofa. For a long time, he thought he’d been left there on his own, but then he suddenly noticed that far, at the other end of the room, there was a vague silhouette - a figure with broad shoulders, wearing a sort of hat. Ron realised that it was a person when he saw it move. And then it talked. Ron could hear as the man’s voice carried clearly across the room in a monotone rant of a self-important person making a speech in halting English but fluent megalomania.
‘Your people, the West’, the voice went, ‘they have made a big mistake and played into the hands of the Terrorists. The Islamic Fundamentals...the LIPG...they have been agitating to take control of Libya since 1970. They have been to Pakistan to train with the bloody Al Kaida ...the same ones that your people claim to be the enemy...If they succeed; they will impose extreme Islamist ideas on the people and take away their freedom.
‘...The ignorant people...they laugh when we say that this whole uprising has been orchestrated by the terrorists, but your leaders, they know the truth...and your people, they will find out eventually...
‘...We know where all this is leading...the West, they rub their greedy hooves together because they think they will control the oil... they want to bomb our country - destroy all our infrastructure - and plunge us into poverty, so they can come back and charge for rebuilding something inferior in its place...
By this time Ron was quite sure that he knew who was talking. He looked more closely, and found that could even make out the distant figure in slightly clearer details. Christ! It’s the mad dog himself! He did not know whether to rise to his feet and ask the old man for his autograph. He was somewhat mesmerised, and he just sat there as Gaddafi ranted on.
‘...Now things are completely out of my hands because other rouges have stepped in, and taken control. I am just an old man...just a mascot for the struggle for Jamahiriya - the true democracy which is superior to the body of lies and deception that the West is determined to impose upon the rest of the world... They want to get rid of Gahadffi... The people … they are no better that cows and sheep... the Arab cattle...they allow all this to happen because they are blinded by the propaganda that the West have been feeding them...the thing that some idiots continue to refer to as the ‘Arab spring’... They want to take away the hopes of Africa as they have always done, and replace it with their acts of charity. The cattle...they do not know that the progress of Africa is not in the best interest of the West - their best interest is in nothing but the oil. They want to take the oil, and sell us arms to fight among ourselves.
Suddenly, the light came on in the hall, and Ron blinked. He found himself staring across the room into Gaddafi’s piercing eyes.
‘...So tell me, Ronald Mathews.’
Ron jerked his head and blinked at the unexpected mention of his name. He hadn't recovered from the sudden illumination, but he was still doubly shocked as Muammar Gaddafi called him by name.
‘...yes, tell me. If protests break out in London and the rioters were carrying arms, if they included rebels and terrorists who were hell-bent on bringing down the government, would they call it a peaceful demonstration? Would America and France send their jets to bomb the UK, and help the rebels take over the government?
And then the old man fell silent, and the lights suddenly went off again. They both remained in the darkness. For a brief moment, Ron’s mind was not on his missing, newly wedded, Juliet. He thought about what had just been said, but he had no answers. It was all beyond his sphere of knowledge, and it had nothing to do with him.
Shortly the same young soldier who had brought him appeared and Ron heard Gadaffi saying ‘Take him away and get him back to his country.’
Still not knowing what to say, Ron stood and followed the soldier. He cast a final glance at Gaddafi and felt sorry for the guy. The powerful dictator who ruled his country with iron fist and concrete boots for over forty years was now just an old man sulking in the dark.
They were on the road once again, and, on this occasion, for a considerably longer time. The driver remained silent except for when he slowed down to shout what seemed to be a solidarity salute in Arabic to his comrades at the armed check posts. When they finally stopped they were in front a gate, framed by a high concrete fence. The gates were open, and a single overhead lamp iluminated the dry leaves scattered on the short gravely road that led to a big white house with light showing dimly in the front windows. The soldier did not stop the engine. He motioned to Ron to get out of the truck and then he drove off, leaving Ron standing uncertainly at the gates. Ron stared as the tail lights disappeared into the night, and then he turned and walked slowly towards the house.
The big, dark, wood front-doors swung open before he reached it, and a short man in a tweed jacket let him in. He introduced himself as Albert in a strong Scottish accent. Ron did not catch the man’s last name, and he did not try to confirm. He just took the hand that was offered and shook it with genuine relief, pleased to see someone who could answer some of his questions at last.
‘I’m looking for my wife, any idea where she might be?’
‘Don't you worry about your lovely wife, Mr Mathews. We are aware, and everything is under control’, which was neither definite nor fully reassuring.
Ron began to say something, but Albert brushed it aside with a gentle interruption. ‘I’m sure you can do with fresh-up and a change. Once we get you fed, we can discuss everything.’
The hot shower was the most refreshing thing to have happened to Ron in years, and the feel of the dry towel was like the magic hands of a deft Shiatsu masseuse. The raging fire in his tummy was assuaged by a fine supper of Sainsbury's best roast chicken with lemon and rosemary roast potatoes.
‘We can just about squeeze you in on the next flight out to civilization tomorrow morning.’ Albert appeared as Ron was sipping his chilled Budweiser's straight from the bottle. ‘Bet you can’t wait to get back and be reunited with Mrs Mathews!’
It was not a luxury jet plane with on-board entertainment that took Ron and seven other passengers back to UK the following morning. Rather, it was the most basic vessel that had ever crossed the skies. The thing was a converted cargo air craft with a hard, sitting-surface and no side windows, so that he had nothing to look at through the entire 4-hour flight except the gaunt and sorry-looking faces of his fellow passengers. The aircraft creaked and rattled all the way to the UK like something put together by a Slumdog Engineer. Ron breathed a massive sigh of relief when it finally touched down. But as he stepped out of the plane he was surprised to see that they hadn’t arrived at Gathwick or Heathrow.
They landed on a military airstrip on the outskirts of Edinburgh. The stern looking British Army personnel who met them at the plane informed Ron that he was to undergo further debriefing and some minor routine medical checks, before he could be released into civilised society. Ron was led to a small questioning room where he was arraigned before two civilian officials and a high ranking Army officer. They wanted to know everything that happened while he was in Tripoli. They asked question after question, and made him repeat his experiences over and over again until he was sick of the sound of his own voice. He reckoned that he was there for at least three gruelling hours during which his many requests to make a phone call were completely ignored, and after a while, he’s stop asking them.
It was around 9 pm when he finally emerged from City Airport, having been escorted through without encountering immigration. He entered the arrivals lounge hugely expectant - Perhaps they’d extended the courtesy of arranging for Juliet to meet him at the Airport. His head was buzzing with excitement, and he just couldn't wait to see her again. But, after wandering around for about 30 hopeless minutes, he headed for the tube station. He’d gone on a honeymoon with his newly wed and he’d returned home without her. He’d lost his passport and his mobile phone, and the clothes he was wearing were not even his.
Even as he got back to his basement bed-sit in Sidcup, there was no letup to his run of bad fortune. The place had been broken into, and his old computers had been taken away, along with the exercising bike that Juliet had bough him, and all the photos they’d taken together.
When he made a report to the local police station the following morning, it was soon clear that they didn’t take him seriously at all. Nothing he told them made any sense at all: A wife that could not be traced even where she was supposed to have worked; a barmy trip to Tripoli, when there was no record of him ever having applied for a passport – or a visa. This guy even claimed that Gaddafi had spoken to him. They thought he was delusional, to say the least. Next, he would be saying he was James Bond. Ron immediately stopped pressing the matter any further when PC Taylor started to suggest that they might have to refer him to the P.U.
Ron dared not bring up the story that broke out in the news media, shortly afterwards, or it would confirm his insanity once and for all, and land him straight in the nut-house. A female double agent had been exposed, together with her accomplice. Rumour had it that their cover had unravelled after they failed to deliver a hacker to get into the US secret service database. There was even a picture of the culprits in one of the News Papers, and Ron had no doubt that they were Juliet and Nel.
Ron returned to work after a week’s absence and was lucky not to have been sacked. His work colleagues seemed to be taking more notice of him, as he’d become more chatty. His imagination had gone into hyper-drive, and he intrigued them with wacky stories of his encounter with the mad dog, which they thought was really hilarious. Tracey, the fat girl from HR, was even beginning to show some interest, and it looked as if he might be unto something, there after all.
Due date: 20 Oct 2011
Working Title: Toys Aren't Meant To Last Forever
The future of the Diamond Team seems assured as they are very close to clinching their first deal.
But then, Alfred Dixon suddenly becomes distracted by the alluring Beth Lewis, and he completely takes his eyes of the ball.
His other two partners Alex Chandler and Alfred Green try everything they can - from threatening to blackmailing - to bring their friend back to his senses, and the project back on course, but all to no avail.
When Alfred finally comes round, the whole ball game has changed, and he has to work harder than he can imagine before gaining back his friends' trust, and his lost position.