A Very Fine Solution Part Ten
'How are we going to get him on-board?' Penny asked. Quite alert, in spite of the reefer.
'We won't, I will,' I said.
'Ok, but how?'
'Somehow. Get some sleep, you're going shopping tomorrow morning, early.'
I hadn't a single idea in my head; but I wanted some time on my own.
My chair was of modern design and as comfortable as it looked, so I woke up with the body of a centenarian and the mind of an ex-heavyweight. It was nine in the morning. I gave Penny a wedge of euros and told her what to buy and where..
'When do I need to be back?' she asked.
'Five minutes ago.'
'Do I need any gear?'
'Just for the Algerian, ok?'
She made a pout that didn't suit her age or her looks and left, twirling the car keys on a forefinger.
She was back within an hour, I didn't ask how she found the right shop. I put on the checked trousers and white smock. Penny tossed me the hat. In the mirror stood someone who might have worked in a restaurant, if its only connection to Michelin were the tyres fitted next door. I nodded at the grip with the belt and explosives in it.
'Give him a shot and arm up our Dumb Bomb.' I said to Penny.
'What?... Oh, right.' She went into the bedroom and came out a little red-eyed.
'Hadn't you better...?' she asked.
'Just get him in the canvas belt, I'll do the rest.'
She picked the belt up, made a face as though she'd touched something grubby. It was tatty and canvas, like I'd used in the Army Cadets at school. She went into the bedroom to get the webbing on the Algerian. I went into the main bedroom and lifted up the mattress. A sealed manila envelope lay on the springs. The familiar printed OHMS and the stylised crown in the corner had faded a little over time, as had the second biro-d S. Inside was a business card. It had a UK phone number and 'Ian' scrawled beneath it.
I dialled the number on the mobile I'd been given, the number picked up on two rings, there was a brief silence and then an echo-ing tinny copy of the ringing. It lasted for ten or so repeats. Then the dull sound of an open-line to a sound-proofed room. No-one answered. So I said,
'I need someone, you know where I am?'
'I always know where you are, didn't I invent you?'
'Look, it's urgent. An operative, cover is catering: we're going to blag our way onto the boat.'
'Blag? James, such people you mix with now!'
'We'll need something to get the package on the boat.'
'Trolley, something of that order?'
'Anything. Use your imagination. I need them here.'
'I'll send someone.'
'It's the least you could do.'
He laughed. 'Will you know what to do? When the time comes?'
'You tell me, didn't you invent me?'
I hung up and Penny and I waited, while the Algerian wandered a golden brown desert.
So many people don't ask questions as long as things go as expected. The word halal on the outside of the van with the Servicio Publico plates was enough to allow us to park the van beside the Barak. I manoeuvred a largish-trolley down the ramp at the rear and my new colleague helped me roll it up the gang-plank. The name he had given me was Moroccan, although Sohail was as common as Bill.
And people see what they expect to see. It was six in the evening. A meeting was going to take place at eight. Why wouldn't the catering be bought in? They didn't even lift the lid on the covered trolley.
They took us to the galley and left us in the company of a gofer. Sohail passed the time of day with the man, a Saudi, whose answers were much shorter than Sohail's questions. I spoke to Sohail in Spanish, when spoken to. Eventually the gofer left us to it in the galley that was bigger than some kitchens.
I took out the mobile, rang a number Penny had given me when I left her at the flat, along with the rest of the money. She answered after half a ring:
'Can you get hold of Cajal?'
'Maybe. What for?'
'I don't need the real caterers turning up.'
'What if they hadn't been expecting any?'
'I've always been lucky'
'So far,' she said and the line went dead.
The Gofer looked in just as I'd pocketed the 'phone. Barked something in Arabic at Sohail. He shrugged and replied in however many words it was. The Gofer seemed satisfied, and left. Sohail spoke,
'A nos pregunto si vayamos a hacer algo, dije que fuimos listos.'
I was glad he'd considered that the Gofer might be listening at the door, since he was obviously suspicious that we weren't doing much. Perhaps we were ready, but I still didn't know what for. Was it a show? Or was something else going on?
I opened the lid of the trolley, sundry canapés were shrink wrapped, there was a stack of china plates and some cutlery, about enough for six people. I hoped we'd guessed right. Plates in hand, I gave Sohail the eyebrows and jerked my head at the entrance. His brow knotted for a moment and the lights went on behind it, eventually. When he got back we went to the stateroom where I'd first met the boat's owner. There was a long board in polished mahogany with five crystal glasses and five crystal tumblers lined up like tenpins. I put down five plates in a stack, Sohail lined up five small forks and laid some pairs of tongs and a couple of spoons beside them. Then we went back for the hors d'oeuvre. Back in the galley I told Sohail to take care of that – and to find out when they wanted us bit part players on stage.
The Algerian looked out of it still, none the worse for being curled up under the false bottom in the trolley. The 'phone rang again. It was Penny.
'Cajal has the access covered, and there are lots of Close Protection at either end of Calle Ribera,'
She interrupted, 'George 'phoned.'
'He seemed very interested in the belt and who put the PE on and how.'
I had done it, but I'd just slapped duct tape around the blocks of C4 and the straps of the webbing belt. C4 was the Arab plastique of choice. It would look good for the show, if it was only a show.
'Yeah, he was...'
I started whistling a few bars of a Steve Miller song down the phone, but Penny didn't get it, so I just told her,
'Go on, Take the money and run.'