A Very Fine Solution Part Nine
I took it outside, signalling Penny to follow. No traffic on Brenan. It was going to mean a walk down to the Cruz roundabout to get a coffee. I motioned that we should keep walking; and answered at the call at last,
'You know who this is,' the voice said – and I recognised not-quite-so Gormless George.
'Yes,' I acknowledged.
'A little bird tells me you have our pigeon,' he went on.
'Oh for fuck's sake, don't be a prat!'
It felt good to say it, but I wished I could have said it when I still worked for the firm.
'Well, have you?' I was pleased to hear the petulant tone.
'Do you have somewhere to keep him? Until...' He stopped.
I could almost hear the cogs of the cuckoo clock he called a brain.
'Ah... look... he needs to be at the coast. Things may be fluid. We'll contact you. I need an address, you understand?'
I thought about Sinatra's but I couldn't turn up there again. Besides, I didn't suppose I needed to keep an eye on the 'Barak'. Someone else was probably doing that anyway.
'I'll send a text to your number.'
'Isn't this number hidden?'
A quick look at the screen showed me the word 'oculto'.
'So it is, you'll just have to call back. Maybe tomorrow.'
I thumbed the button, and felt good about that too.
In the imaginatively named 'Cafe de la Cruz', TVE1's morning news was competing with the sound system's Shakira for the clientele's attention. I read the buzz-bar along the bottom of the screen, there was no hope of listening to the attractive dye-job above it.
'Ha! Look at him!' I pointed at the screen.
I could just make out the word over her yawn.
'Ok, he's a bit greyer, but surely you recognise Tony?'
'Blain? What's he doing?'
I could tell she wasn't interested, but I answered anyway.
'He's in Madrid, being statesmanlike. I wonder if he knows the Spaniards shafted him over the EU Presidency?'
Penny wasn't even looking at the screen by this time. I was though, and I almost wasted a mouthful of coffee when I saw Gormless George walking 5 paces behind the Ex-PM. It was easy to spot the field-men after that – and I wondered how much they were costing taxpayers.
We finished the coffee and went back to our guest. It would soon be time to find somewhere for the three of us to wait for whatever turned up.
Penny had wanted Banus, but I told her it might still be a little hot for me there. She told me I should have known by then that Cajal was looking after me. We went to a flat in Estepona. It was mine, or at least it belonged to a company that paid me money, although my name didn't appear on its stationery.
Garden Beach, Estepona, third-line in an injection moulded block of flats. It had been on a long let for the last couple of years, before Marbella's Vice Squad had raided it. I was always amazed when the Eastern European guys didn't pay off the locals. Surely they knew how it worked from their experiences at home? Or perhaps they really had believed in a holier-than-thou West. The plan had been to go for holiday lets, but I hadn't got around to redecorating. So bedroom three was still a BDSM playroom - and that's where we kept Mohamed.
Gormless George waited exactly 24 hours before phoning back. It was a short call, I gave him the address and made myself feel good again with the red button. Moments later, it rang again. I pressed the button and waited.
'It's me. Don't say anything. When the time comes, you make sure you remember you owe me.'
But 'me' was Cajal, and I wondered how I was supposed to know what he wanted to happen.
The department left it very late. At midnight on the 6th of December, Penny was half-way down a joint and Mohamed was half-way back from paradise, when the intercom rang. I buzzed the door as soon as I heard the voice. When the bell at the flat door went I had Penny's rat-tail comb in my hand. Most working girls carried them, you couldn't be arrested for carrying a comb, however sharp it was.
She was on her own, a heavy-looking grip in one hand.
'I thought you'd look paler, what with losing all that blood.' I told her.
'It wasn't mine.' She said.
'I don't suppose...'
'No, I won't.'
She stepped into the flat, dropping the grip on the floor. I waved in the direction of the sofa, Penny waved slackly back.
'Eve, meet Miss Penny Money.'
'You always did think you were funny,' her eyes flicked towards the bedrooms.
'Not me this time. It's George's joke.'
'Is the Algerian here?' Another look at the closed bedroom doors.
She let out a breath: 'Good. Get him on the boat by eight in the evening tomorrow.'
'Just like that?'
'You'll think of something.'
'Whose show is this, really?' I searched her face.
A muscle twitched in her cheek, and I revised my opinion about the botox.
'Need to know, I'm afraid.'
'Thought so. How do you know I'll do what you want?'
'You will have to watch out for one of those umbrellas, if you don't.'
She laughed, as though she were joking.
'So long,' she said. 'He's got to be wearing what's in the bag, by the way.'
Then she let herself out.
I looked in the bag, saw canvas, buckles and duct-taped packages. Mohamed was going to the party dressed up as a Palestinian: it was a suicide belt.