A Very Fine Solution IV (and a half)
Someone knocked. The door – the polished wood and brass hardly constituted a hatch - to the stateroom opened before the seated Arab got to the '-ter' of 'enter'. A bulky unit came in. The buzz-cut was just long enough to show the grey, the gleaming American teeth were bared in the same old smile. The man's suit jacket was cut generously, both for the shoulder rig and the gut he hadn't had when I saw him last. In Grenada. In a phone booth, calling Langley; asking what the fuck had gone wrong with the radio freqs. Asking how come a US Marine was in the next booth calling in co-ordinates for the Navy's guns. It wasn't his business – and perhaps both of us should have been off-island before the shooting had started – but I had bet him he wouldn't stay. He stuck out his hand, big, meaty, with the college signet almost buried in flesh. I took it.
'Hello, Felix,' I said.
'Goodtaseeya, James, beenalongtime.'
'Sightseeing or business?' I asked him.
The smile slipped, 'Kinda freelance, now. Like you.'
Aadel, number two son, smaned. Felix's smile slipped all the way off his face.
Felix and Number Two Son did the bar-room two-step; one stepped forward, the other stepped back.
The Saud in the smoking-jacket cleared his throat, 'Tell him,' he said to Felix, without taking his eyes off me.
Felix put a finger in the too-tight collar.
'Yagoddadowhat they say is all.'
I jerked my head at the Arab in his comfortable chair and backward at the two goons behind me;
'Naw, your guys.'
'You're joking, surely?'
'You'll know when to stop, meanttasay.'
'So what do they want me to do?'
'Nuthinya ain't done before, James.' Felix smiled again. I smiled back.
'Cheers, Felix. I'm leaving now.'
I sketched a bow at the Arab-in-chief. It was quite a surprise to see the Mossad guys, in spite of the earlier toast. Tapping the cheek of the nearest with the flat of my hand, I wished them Mazel Tov.
The Marina was lively. At least, considering the crisis. Bentleys and Porsches were inching along the Calle Ribera – but then that was the point: the slower you went, the more people would see you. It still wasn't as busy as only two years ago. The most noticeable absentees were the Silver Slurpers, pensions having petered out as the pound plummeted. There were still tourists from sixteen to forty in clothes too skimpy for the twilight hours. I couldn't be bothered to watch the boat and headed up into town. Perhaps there would be someone to hit in Lineker's or some other place catering to holidaying hard men. Or maybe I'd just go for something to eat.
The whole business was nonsensical, like two jigsaw-puzzles tipped into the same box. It rankled: the forced passivity. Everyone involved was happy to talk, without saying anything. The bomb had been the most pleasing aspect so far. Except that no-one seemed willing to claim responsibility. It was ludicrous to expect an operative to work such things out. Subtext was for handlers: or for shiny-arsed office boys like Gormless George. The tiny grilled squid looked up at me from the chipped plate, gleaming in the olive oil. They probably had more idea than I had. La Bodeguita wasn't busy: too down-market for the residents and too deficient in junk-food and cocktails for the tourists. I numbered off the players: my old firm, Mossad, the Agency? Possibly, Felix was sub-contracted – undeniably deniable. The House of Saud? Certainly, but not a sniff of لمباحث العامةأ, The Mabahith: Saudi General Investigation Directorate. They'd never have employed someone like Number Two Son. To tell the truth they never ventured far from the peninsula, anyway. But that didn't explain the presence of Israeli goons. I bit the head off one of the squid-lets and wished I'd opted for a fight instead.
No-one seemed bothered that the surveillance of the boat had been, at best, haphazard, so I hailed a taxi and went to the safe house. I buzzed the apartment intercom at the main-gate. There was no
answer, but the gate opened anyway. The drive was flanked by bougainvillea that some immigrant was paid - too little no doubt - to keep in check; further back the Dama de Noche was releasing it's pungent perfume. At the main entrance, I buzzed again. Same thing, I heard the buzz and pushed the door. The lift doors were open: I took it to the top. The firm had sprung for the penthouse, something I'd expressed surprise over to Eve, earlier in the day. The door to the penthouse flat itself was open.
There was enough blood for a bull-fight, at least one that had gone well for the bulls. Gouts of arterial blood had stained the vestibule walls. A few large footprints showed garish on the white-marble floors, Something, or someone, had been dragged bleeding, smearing the majority of footprints that had been left in the blood. My shoes made that velcro sticky sound as I made my way through the lounge to the bedroom. The bed was wrecked, but perhaps Eve hadn't made it, after I'd left. I looked under the bed. Nothing but slut's wool and one of (Eve's?) shoes. The other bedroom was clean, at least until I trailed blood into it. In the kitchen, the knife drawer's contents were scattered on the tiled floor. That left the bathroom, inside, anyway. More blood covered the porcelain and the tiles. It couldn't all have been Eve's. I walked back to the lounge and out onto the roof terrace. More bloody footprints had been left. Someone had stopped to lean on the safety railings on the dwarf wall enclosing the terrace. Perhaps they'd been star-gazing.
A murder could probably be announced, except there were no bodies. I heard the sirens and thought I might as well wait for the police.