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					THE KILLING
  BRIAN TODD
2
            CHAPTER ONE

The coming morning had all the potential of
heralding in the most thrilling day of Tom Fox‟s
life because he fully expected to be rich beyond
his wildest dreams before most people had sat
down at the breakfast table.
    He had turned in early but sleep eluded him.
Every detail of the job in hand plagued his mind,
for he had been responsible for making all of the
preparations for the coming days itinerary and
they now denied him his peace of mind.
1

The old cliche' about London having streets
paved with gold has for centuries been
responsible for drawing people from all over the
globe. Many come on holiday to satisfy their
curiosity and enjoy the sights, the pageantry and
the history, whilst thousands more arrive each
year hoping to find fame on stage or screen. A
few, however, come to make fast fortunes from
crime.
   London has its share of home grown criminals,
ranging from gem and bullion thieves to big time
shady arms deals, and from organized super
frauds to cold calculating contract killers and
drug barons.
                        3
In years gone by it was considered absolutely
taboo to kill a policeman and it was not
uncommon for members of the underworld to
seek out anyone doing so and hand them over to
the law, or even exact appropriated punishment
themselves. Today of course, things have greatly
changed. As the quality of life has improved, the
level of respect for the law has dwindled with
metering out lenient sentences.
   Today there are no crime overlords to maintain
a limited control over the cities villains. Such
gangs as there are do not choose to police
themselves so as to maintain an acceptable
amount of order, and thus keep the long arm of
the law at bay for the general good of the
community. Now it is every man for himself with
small territorial gangs forever looking to expand
their boundaries where muggers will not hesitate
to use lethal weapons rather than risk failure or
apprehension.
   One such man is Ferdinand Rodriguez, who
had been born and bred in London's East End,
and like his hardworking parents came from good
Catholic stock.
   There the comparisons ended, for Ferdinand
who had suffered the modern stigma of racism,
learned at an early age that a show of strength,
wealth and brute force could overcome almost
every obstacle or enemy.


                        4
    Tall, dark and handsome, he found young
female hopefuls fell easily for his charms – only
to find
themselves maneuvered into becoming hostesses
in
his night club. From there they were
automatically
moved into the world of prostitution working
from
flats, massage parlors and sex shops.
Rodriguez' main business competitor was Max
Stoddart, a much older man, well established in
the
same business, with narcotics being his main
source
of income. As always, this kind of wealth brought
with it the envy, mistrust, and invariably the fore
runner to murder.
On the surface it was business as usual. Soho was
its normal colorful self, with crowds flocking to
enjoy the gaudy night life of theaters, clubs, bars
and restaurants, under the bright neon signs that
promised a multitude of thrills and exotic
delights.
3
A golden Corvette pulled into the curbside
opposite the Peary Queen night club that
belonged
to Max Stoddart. In the rear seat Rodriguez sat
looking through the tinted glass windows. His
adrenalin was rising in anticipation of a great
                         5
coup that would put Stoddart in jail for a very
long time or force him into exile in Spain with
whom the British had no extradition treaty.
His gaze flicked to the man sitting in the front
passenger seat, an actor by the name of Wise,
whom
had never achieved any notable success in his
profession. But with a little aide from his
expertise as a make up artist he was about to pass
himself as Stoddart
'Time to go.' Rodriguez encouraged. 'and
remember; don't get involved in any long
discussions with anyone. Call anyone you don't
know Bonny lad or Bonny lass. Everything has
been
set up as we rehearsed so there shouldn't be
anything for you to worry about. But if the
unthinkable should occur you just stay schtum
until
I can spring you.
'You will spring me won't you? Wise asked
anxiously.
'This operation has cost me an arm and a leg to
set up. If you get caught and found not out to be
Stoddart it'll blow the lid off my plans to get rig
of him and take over his operations in the city.
Just get moving and do exactly as we rehearst and
you'll be on a plane to New York with the rest of
your money before you know it.
With a deep sigh Wise swung out of his seat to
stand on the pavement with butterflies fluttering
                         6
in his stomach. As he slammed the door
determined
to give the performance of his life a voice shouted
across the Corvettes bonnet.
He turned and seeing a police patrol car stop
alongside the Corvette his heart skipped a beat
and
then began to pound like a big base drum. In the
space of a split second his body temperature went
4
from icy coldness to a burning sweat that brought
more colour to his already ruddy complexion.
This he calculated was the unthinkable that no
one had expected to happen. He also knew if he
failed in his performance and was searched, the
half kilo of cocaine he was carrying would
condemn
him just as easily as it would the real Max
Stoddart.
He yelled ponding the Corvettes bonnet and
shouted. 'Get a move on Bonny Lad at the
chauffeur!' Then continued with a smile, 'Sorry it
wasn't our intention to cause an obstruction
officer.'
Amid the honking of horns and a look of disgust,
the officer wound up the window and the patrol
car
moved off. Moments later the corvette followed
leaving Wise amid the throng of pedestrians
standing on legs that had turned to jelly.
Gazing at the large neon sign above the club
                         7
whilst gathering his wits he dipped into his
pocket
in search of his cigarettes and in the process
touched a packet of cocaine and the hard bulk of
a
Bernetta automatic pistol that had once belonged
to
Stoddart. He drew hard on the cigarette, sucking
the tangy smoke deep into his lungs before
expelling it into the night air through puckered
lips in a long blue-gray plume.
'Christ,' he muttered, 'I feel like a jelly on
its way back to the bakehouse and I haven't even
started yet. Lord only knows what its going to be
like when the curtain goes up.'
As he crossed the road he became acutely aware
of
an itch that he couldn't scratch. This was due to
the flack jacket he wore beneath his shirt in order
to give him the real Stoddard's bulkiness. All he
could do was to rub the thick padding, only to
feel
another itch. This time it was beneath the false
receding hair line covering his own balding scalp.
With those profound irritations he crossed the
road between the two lines of traffic, resisting
5
the temptation to scratch for fear of disturbing
his guise. Then it came as no surprise when he
felt
                         8
the need to pass water, for he knew the cause to
be
due to his anticipation of performing a roll that
would change his otherwise dull life forever.
Gritting his teeth he side tracked his misgivings
by thinking of the large fee that he would soon
collect and the new life awaiting him far away on
the other side of the Atlantic ocean in New York.
'Good evening Sir.' smiled the uniformed
concessionaire doffing his cap. 'it's a packed
house tonight.'
'Thats good to hear Bonny Lad.' Wise smiled
back.'
'Fooling the concessionaire boosted his
confidence
enough to press his luck a little further so he
would remember when questioned by the police.
'How long have you been with us.' he inquired as
the door was opened for him.
'Six months next week Sir.' He replied.
'Come and see me in the morning and we'll see if
we can find you something a little more
rewarding
than this.'
'Yes sir.' he beamed, hardly daring to believe
that he had even been noticed.
Wise proceeded and found the foyer to be an
exact
replica of the set Rodriguez had made in the old
docklands warehouse where he had rehearsed,
and as
                        9
a result he began to feel more confident.
He proceeded to the door leading to the clubs
interior where Ronald Pleasance, the manager,
whom
had been most instructive during his rehearsals,
stood waiting.
'Glad you made it.' he beamed.
'First nights have never been my thing Bonny
Lad,
but tonights is special, so I guess I'll have to
suffer in silence. 'Hows the the cabaret going?'
'The first show finished about an hour ago and
the punters loved it. Give it a couple more days
for the word to get round and I reckon the place
6
will be packed to doors. Those girls certainly
know
how to flaunt their charms and I don't mind
admitting that I wouldn't mind some of that
myself.'
'Bad for business.' Wise reproached. 'Play with
one and the rest think you're giving special
favors. Remember, they're here to get the punters
spending at the bar and gaming tables.' he advised
as he noted the scantily clad cloakroom attendant
was taking an interest as they approached. As
they
passed he gave her a lecherous smile which she
responded too.
Inside the bar spanned the whole length of the
interior to the left. Both men and woman were
                        10
seated on tall swivel type armchair bar stools and
were served by beautiful Latin barmaids clad in
skimpy revealing dresses and young handsome
lithe
barmen.
At one side of the room were gaming tables
where
the players were far to engrossed in increasing
their fortunes to pay any mind to what was going
on
around them. The remaining space was filled with
tables and chairs for those who came to drink
amid
the reasonable privacy offered by alcoves that
hung
with cascades of artificial floral vines.
Moving to a reserved table close to the bar as
planned, Travis beckoned the young waitress who
smiled a silent hello and immediately headed for
the bar.
'It's all set so nothing can go wrong,' Travis
assured quietly. 'Just wait for your cue as we
rehearst and everything will be just fine. So far
as I can see six of the serious crime squad are
here and they're armed so be careful.
'You should tell me that now,' Wise croaked.
'Which ones are they?'
'There's a couple by the exit door. There job
will be to see don't get out that way, but pay them
no mind. At the far end of the bar there are two
                        11
more waiting to block any attempt you might
make to
7
reach the stage exit. The two to worry about are
sitting at the bar – the woman in the red dress and
her boyfriend. He'll come in first to make the
arrest while she hangs back to cover him. Don't
try
any heroics because she won't hesitate to shoot.'
'Thanks a bundle.' Wise gaped glancing up at the
hanging vines as the waitress leaned over to
provocatively place his drink before him.
'Can I get you anything else?' she smiled, and
the manager gave him look of encouragement.
'There is Bonny Lass.' Wise assured reaching
under the hem of her black satin mini dress to
caress her soft pear shaped buttocks. 'But if my
wife were to find out she would skin me alive.'
'A case of get your appetite where you will but
come home to eat.' she laughed. „And you Sir.
Wouild you like a drink?' she asked turning to
Travis.
'Not for me, I've got things to do up in my
office.'
Sipping his whiskey and ginger on ice, Wise
toasted a silent toast, then reached for his
cigarettes and felt the reassuring butt of
Stoddarts biretta again. After placing a cigarette
between his lips, a hand intruded to light its tip.
'Thanks,' he said, recognizing his buyer for the
cocaine.
                        12
'You're welcome. The names Dainty. Tom
Dainty.
Mind if I join you?'
'Be my guest, I hate drinking alone.'
'I'm told that you have a package for me.‟ Dainty
stated rather than asked.
'And you Wise,' responded quietly.
'Half a million in counterfeit twenties as
arranged. 'Dainty stated. 'I dropped them off at
the hat check as instructed. They're being checked
out now. Your man should be here shortly to
confirm
they are quality goods. I'd like the opportunity to
check your merchandise before I leave.‟
'I've got it here, we can go up to my office if
8
you like.' Wise offered.
'No Thanks, its quite secluded here – just pass
it under the table. I can tell if its good stuff by
tasting it.'
With a shrug Wise reached inside his flack jacket
a pulled out a full kilo of high grade cocaine and
slipped it under the table for dainty to retrieve.
Then placing it on his lap he inserted a thin
scalpel type blade into the clear plastic package
and withdrew a tiny amount to sample.
Taking this as his cue the serious crimes officer
raced forward to crouch behind Wise.
'Police, hold it right there!' he shouted.
As his lady colleague made her presence known
by
                        13
crouching at the bar with her weapon at full cock.
During the hushed silence that followed both men
froze. Fully synchronized the plain clothed men
by
the stage and main exit moved to cover the other
patrons calling, 'Freeze, this is the police
raid!'.
Stunned with shock the patrons stood in awe as
the culprits were ordered to stand with their hands
held high above their heads. The first officer,
still covered by his female partner, frisked Wise.
When the contents of his pockets, which included
the real Stoddarts Biretta, lay on the table, the
two switched places.
As the woman came forward to search search
Dainty, a stun grenade exploded on the stage and
the lights went out, plunging the clubs interior
into darkness. As a panicked diversion broke out
Wise grasped one of the hanging vines exactly as
he
had rehearsed, and was quickly and silently
whisked
up through a trapdoor into an large empty closet
on
the floor above.
'Hurry,' urged Travis urged in a hoarse whisper
as the lights were reinstated. On the verge of
panic, wise shed his guise and cloths. Then as he
dressed in a neatly pressed dark suite, he watched
Travis stuff his discarded cloths into a bag and
9
                        14
throw them out of the window into the back yard
where an accomplice waited to spirit them away
from
the crime scene.
'How do I look? Wise asked.
'Nothing like you did a few minutes ago.' Travis
assured. 'Follow me.'
Making a quick exit they crossed the hall and
entered his office. Barely a few seconds passed
before hearing footfalls racing up the stairs, and
using this as their cue they proceeded to make
their exit.
On seeing two detectives exit from the stair-head
Travis shouted. 'Get the hell out of here, this is
private accommodation!'
'Police!' one yelled back brandishing his weapon.
'Where's Stoddart,' he demanded barging past into
the office.
'He was downstairs having a drink the last time I
saw him,' Travis explained.
'Well he isn't there now,' panted the officer.
'and he hasn't left because we have all the exits
covered. He just disappeared during the ruckus
when
the lights went out. He's got to be in the building
somewhere and we'll find him if it means taking
this place apart a brick at a time.'
'Whats he done?' Wise asked innocently.
'Trading cocaine for counterfeit £20 notes,' the
officer growled.
'Not much future in that.' Travis retorted. 'What
                        15
was that bang all about.'
'Don't act dumb with me.' the officer snarled.
'You know the score. Where have you got him
hidden.' he demanded, but before Travis could
retaliate one of the officers colleagues returned
from his fruitless search.
'Nothing,' he declared 'absolutely nothing. We've
blocked every exit and are checking everyone out
as
they leave the premises. Once thats done the
rummage crews are going to take this place apart.'
'I'll hold you responsible for any damage.'
10
Travis retorted.
'Mister!' the latter officer who seemed to be in
charge snarled, 'we have enough evidence of drug
and countefiet money dealing to warrant the
demolition of the whole building if we have to.
And
make no mistake we'll do just that. If you want to
protect your job, just tell me where you've got
Stoddart stashed.
'If I knew I'd tell you.' Travis assured. 'As for
my job – well, theres little chance of my having
one after all this comotion. I don't doubt the club
gaming a liquor licenses will be revoked. As for
your taking the building apart, I should be very
careful, this whole area is classified as listed
buildings.'
'That's breaking my heart,' the officer scowled,
turning his attention to Wise. 'Your face seems to
                        16
ring a bell. Whats your name and what is your
business here?'
'My name is Ernest Wise and I work for the
BBC,'
he answered confidently. 'I mostly do outside TV
documentaries. We were discussing the
possibilities
of including something of the clubs activities for
promoting the cities night spots to attract
tourism. That would appear to be most unlikely
under the circumstances.'
'At a guess, I'd say you've got more chance of
getting bitten by a daffodil in mid July.' the
officer scoffed. 'Now get yourselves downstairs.
You can go home after your statements have been
taken. To the best of your knowledge, is there
anyone else up here?'
'Just us chickens.' Travis jibed. 'And I'd like
to collect some things before I leave the
premises.'
'After you've given your statement come and find
me. It wouldn't do to have you wandering around
on
your own, case you happened to bump into
Stoddart
would it? Now move your butts downstairs before
I
decide your both in need of a strip search.'
11
The situation bellow was utter chaos. The table
where wise had sat had been moved and the floor
                        17
ripped up to reveal the cellar through a gaping
hole. The stage was a wreck. Scenery and drapes
hung in tatters and several trembling customers
lay
on tables in shock, were being comforted while
waiting for ambulances. At every exit was a table,
where officers searched everyone and took their
statements before allowing them to leave.
Four nerve wracking hours of listening to the
same questions and answers, the same
speculations
and complaints passed before Travis took his
turn.
'Name groaned the weary officer.
'Travis,'
At hearing the curt response the officer looked
up. 'Don't try my patience,' he warned, 'or like as
not you'll find yourself still here come
lunchtime.'
'Ronald Travis,' he sighed.
'Occupation,' the officer grunted turning back to
his paperwork.
'I'm the manager of this place, or least I was
until you lot tore it apart.'
Looking up with an expression that said it all,
'So what, and where pray were you when this
load of
crap hit the fan.'
'In my office up stairs.'
'How very convenient. Witnesses.'
'Mr Ernest Wise. He's the next man standing in
                        18
line.'
'Thats nice,' the officer groaning with a modicum
of Sarchasm. 'Did you see Stoddart?'
'Yes, I met him in the Foyer when he arrived.
That was around 10-30pm. I Accompanied him to
his
table over by the bar where Yvonne – thats the
hostess – served his with a drink. Then Mr Wise
came in, so I left Mr Stoddart and took him up to
my office to discuss a business matter.'
'Did you see Stoddart after leaving – like after
the lights went out for instance?'
12
'No.'
'And you didn't know anything about any deal
concerning the counterfeit £20,s or the cocaine?
'Certainly not.'
'Thought as much,' came his sarchastic reply.
'Sign at the bottom. Print your full name, and
address and telephone number at the top. Capital
letters if you please and don't leave town without
letting us know.
I would just hate myself if I was the one chosen
to come and find you, if you know what I mean?
Leaving all this paperwork would just about crack
me up,' he concluded hopefully. 'Next!.
Instead of leaving Travis stood his ground. 'I
was told that someone would accompany me to
my
office so that I could pick up some personal
belongings.'
                        19
The officer repeated his earlier performance of
meeting Travis's gaze before traversing the room
with a look of disgust before turning back to him.
'Mister,' he groaned with a sigh, 'can't you see
that we're all up to our necks in paperwork?
Come
back in the morning, there's a good chap. Next!'
he
demanded angrily closing the subject.
Turning to face Wise with a brief smile and a
knowing wink he made for the exit. Outside he
faced
a battery of newspaper and television reporters
and
shouted 'No comment!' before shouldering his
way
through to an alley that gave access to a parking
area at the rear of the club.
Aware of the fact the he could be a dangerous
witness as far as Rodriguez was concerned, he
checked his car thoroughly before getting in.
Then
after taking the time to light a much needed
cigarette, he called Stoddarts second in command
using the car phone.
'Can I speak to Hank?' he asked as the familiar
voice of his wife answered. 'It's Travis.
'Hi' he continued when Hank answered. 'There's
been trouble at the Pearly Queen and the law have
13
shut us down. They caught Stoddart dead to rights
                        20
trading cocaine for counterfeit £20's.'
'Are you drunk or out of your mind?' Hank shot
back. 'I spoke to him less than a half hour ago. He
was at a hotel at Southend in Essex shacked up
with
a bit of stuff, so there's no way he could have
been at the club.
'I'm telling you he was there. I saw him in the
foyer at half past eight and the law closed in
while he was doing a deal with Dainty a few
minutes
later. Christ there must have been at least a
hundred witnesses.'
'Okay, okay. Where is he now,' Hank stormed.
'I don't know. I was in the office at the time
the deal was going down. Apparently some one
let go
with a stun grenade and hit the lights just as the
Old Bill pounced. When they came back on, they
say
Max had just disappeared into thin air. The club's
full of coppers and they're threatening to take it
apart in hope of finding him. Or at least finding
out how he managed to get away when they had
the
place locked down tighter than a ducks arse after
he entered.'
'Something smells fishy. You say you saw him.
Did
you speak to him.?
'No, I just waved as I was going up to the
                        21
office. I was expecting him to come up to see me
later.'
'Where are you now?'
'In the club car park.'
'Go home and stay there until I get back to you,'
Hank barked.
As soon as the line was clear he dialed the
number Stoddart had given him earlier and waited
with baited breath until the night porter answered.
'Put me through to Mr Cummings room please.
Number 27.
'Hello?' Stoddarts voice answered
''Its Hank.'
'Ive been trying to ring you.' Stoddart ranted.
14
'Have you seen the news. What the hells going
on.'
'I was hoping you might be able to tell me.
Pleasance was just on the phone.'
'The hell with Travis! Some bastard has set me
up.'
'Haven't they though. What are you going to do?'
Since seeing the newsflash, little else had been
on Stoddarts mind. If he produced witnesses to
prove that he had been 50 miles away at the time
he
was supposed to have been at the club, the truth
would come out. And if his wife found the out the
truth, his infidelity would also be laid bare. And
she would carry out her long standing threat to
divorce him and take half of everything thing he
                        22
owned as a settlement. If that were not bad
enough,
she knew enough about his shady dealing and tax
avoidance to make it stick.
'I'm going to make a run for it to my villa in
Spain where the law can't touch me,' he
confessed.
'Call me there in a couple of days. Better get Lily
to fly out too. In the mean time, try to find out
whats going on and see if you can arrange a quiet
passage back for me when things quieten down. If
anyone asks about my movements to day, you
know
absolutely nothing.'
CHAPTER 2
'Once Stoddart reached the sanctuary offered by
Spain, he shed his veil of secrecy in hope that
this would satisfy the law that he was not hiding
out in one of his own establishments, and thus
relieve the pressure on his organization.
Rodriguez, who had been busy during his
absence,
anticipated this and began putting the next part of
his planned takeover into action.
At four o'clock in the morning the Soho streets
were reasonably quiet after the previous evenings
revelry. As the early summer dawn began to
break
there was a smattering of early bus, train crews,
15
                        23
postmen, milkmen and market traders making
their
way to and from work.
At 4.15 a fleet of minibuses conveying the
cleaning crews which service the clubs,
restaurants, theaters and offices began to cruise
through the maze of streets to drop off personnel
and equipment.
Rodriguez, whom occupied the front seat of a
Transit mini-bus, ordered his driver to pull into
the curbside at the corner of Oxford St and
Charing
Cross Rd.
The first of his crew disembarked carrying what a
appeared to be a lunch box. In the guise of a
plumber, his task was to enter the Hawaiian Isle
restaurant to hide a pre-timed device. This would
emit a foul smell that would not only cause all the
inhabitants to flee, but keep the establishment
closed for a week. A second small device would
release a thousand cockroaches in the kitchen
area,
timed to occur when the health officials would be
there investigating the foul odour.
Moving off the driver continued along Charing
Cross Road into Shaftsbury Avenue and stopped
at
the corner of Walda Street, the main area where
Stoddart had a concentration of several video
shops.
                        24
Six men disembarked here, one an expert
locksmith
was to open the premises doors so his colleagues
could enter in order to plant hardcore
pornographic
videos among those intended for viewing by
young
children. As the morning wore on, several young
mothers would hire the films, and pretending to
horror struck, would call the police to have the
premises closed down and their stocks
confiscated.
As this group dispersed, two more men alighted.
Their job was to simply wait for the early
morning
deliveries of newspapers and magazines to the
news
agents and tobacconists belonging to Stoddart.
When
the delivery men had dumped them outside and
departed the men inserted tiny folds of paper
16
containing cocaine between the pages, making it
appear as though the shops were being use as
distribution centers for addicts.
Anxious to know the results of his scheme to put
Stoddart out of business Rodriguez found an early
morning cafe' and ate a hearty breakfast to pass
the time. At seven o'clock he called the police to
inform them that a narcotics racket was being run
at the newsagents, and within thirty minutes the
                        25
premises had been raided, trade suspended and
the
staff taken away foe questioning.
At ten o'clock, the police sirens wailed again
through the streets of Soho as the law took its
toll on the video shops. Three hours later there
was pandemonium at the Hawaiian Isle restaurant
as
patrons flooded out onto the crowded pavements,
complaining about the stench that had forced
them
to abandon their half eaten lunches.
Wondering what would happen next and loathing
the
sound of his ringing telephone, Hank snatched up
the instrument and called Stoddart in Spain.
'What can I do for you Bonny lad? Stoddart
inquired.
'Probably nothing,' Hank sighed in despair. 'But
the way things are going somebody had better do
something or by the end of the week whats left of
the organization won't be worth a a damn. My
day
began with two telephone calls, one from
Winthrop,
the other from Crosby. Both were enjoying the
company of the serious crime squad, who raided
their shops early this morning after an anonymous
tip off about their being involved in drug pushing.
Needless to say, they found wraps of cocaine
                        26
inserted between the pages of some of the
magazines
and newspapers. Both premises have been shut
down
while a thorough searches are carried out.
Warburton has been along to see both managers
to
arrange bail. Crosby, Winthrop and their staff
swear they had nothing to do with these goings
on.
'Sounds like a plant to close the shops down.'
17
Stoddart observed mildly. 'Any idea who might
be
behind it?'
'That's only the thin edge of the wedge,' Hank
continued. 'By mid morning, all our video shops
were shut down and the stocks confiscated. On
the
face of it, it looks like some idiot mistakingly
put hardcore porn films in boxes that were meant
for children's viewing. They even had tittles such
as Supper Man and Yogi bear. An isolated
incident
in one shop I could believe, but not all five.'
'It's got to.....'Stoddart began, but Hank
Blustered on regardless.
'Their's more,' he blurted. 'The Hawaiian Isle
had to close because of a mysterious foul smell
emptied the place. When the local council got to
hear about it they sent in the health inspector and
                        27
God only knows what they're going to find. But I
can tell you this much; there's no way anyone is
go
in there until the cause is found. From what I can
make of it, it smells like someone let a whole cart
load of skunks loose in there.'
'Is there anything else?' Stoddart asked
'No, but don't hold your breath waiting.
'I need time to think about this,' Stoddart
admitted. 'Stand by the telephone and I'll call you
back in an hour. 'On second thoughts, to my way
of
thinking this is an orchestrated attempt by
someone
who wants to take over our operations. Well they
are in for a shock because I'm coming back.'
'Are you mad? Hank blurted. 'Haven't you seen
any
of the news bulletins since you've been out there?'
'No,' Stoddart admitted, but I've got a distinct
feeling its more bad news Bonny lad, so why
don't
you enlighten me'.
'One of those left wing factions has threatened a
bombing campaign against all cross channel
ferries
and aircraft, so everyone and everything is being
searched. And apart from that the serious crime
squads are on full alert after getting a tip off
about a billion pound narcotics shipment due into
18
                        28
this part of the country. You'd be lucky to make it
back undetected even if you swam across. Every
coast guard a radar station will be on full alert.'
There was a short pause before Stoddart spoke
again and Hank visualized his brain had been
going
into overdrive.
'I'll put a question to you, and you tell me if I
sound paranoid. I'm convinced Rodriguez is the
man
behind all our troubles. Do you think he cold
have
orchestrated all this hullabaloo to keep me out of
his way while he takes over our territory?'
'You sound paranoid all right and I personally
wouldn't have given him credit for having that
much
brains. On the other hand, I must admit, our
problems and your theory fit together like a
glove.'
'In that case stick by the telephone and I'll
call you back in a couple of hours.
Replacing the telephone, Stoddart tossed a few
ice cubes into his empty glass and topped it up
with a large Whiskey. With his brain trying to
work
out a solution to his problems he stood in front of
the patio doors of his luxury beach villa looking
outside.
The sun shone and not a single cloud sailed
across the clear blue sky. Not twenty feet away,
                        29
his beautiful wife lazed on a sun bed close to the
pool. She believed the things said about him and
cared nothing for his reasons for making their
mad
dash to Spain. From behind mirrored sunglasses
he
gazed at her. The suns bright reflection from the
lenses touched on her long shapely legs before
traveling along her thighs to the flat of her
stomach to her trim waist and the proud swell of
her voluptuous breast.
Sensing his attention she raised her head to
stare back, her stomach her muscles tightened and
her nipples stood proud as the sun glinted on long
champaign colored hair.
'You want I should take my bottoms off too?' she
19
teased huskily.
'Sure.' he drooled chinking the ice against the
side of his glass.
Unabashed, she stood up and tweaked the bows at
each side of her bikini bottom and let it fall to
the ground, leaving him wondering why he ever
strayed to what he always hoped were greener
pastures. She was everything a man could wish
for
in a woman, both in body – the promise it held –
and in mind.
Smiling at the thought of what he was thinking,
she walked slowly towards him with her long
manicured fingertips tracing from the line of her
                        30
pubic hair up to her proud breasts.
'Are you hungry?' she cooed.
'No,' he replied in all honesty. 'I don't need
you for sex right now. I just want to hold you
close. I want to feel like I belong somewhere and
to someone.'
'What you need is seducing.' she smile, pressing
her body close to his. 'You've been like an old
tom
cat on hot tin roof ever since we arrived. Relax –
let Hank take care of things in the big city. He
can handle it'.
He folded his arms around her until the cold
glass touched the warm shin of her back. She
flinched, moulding her body even closer.
'Don't do that.' she purred. 'You know it plays
havoc with emotions.'
As her long fingers began to slide beneath the
elasticated waistband of his shorts, he felt the
growing need to rid himself of his pent up
emotions
by making mad passionate love to her right there
on
the carpet. But just as his muscles tensed prior to
making his move, a great shadow sailed silently
into view and splashed down into the swimming
pool.
'What in hell's name?' he swore.
'She turned, fearing the worst, then sagged back
into his arms.
                        31
'Its only some young bloke messing about with
one
20
of those hang glider contraptions.' she sighed.
'I'll be waiting for you in the bedroom when
you've
got rid of him.'
'I'll be right there.' he promised, thinking that
his uninvited guest might just hold the key to his
problem. Hurrying to the poolside he reached for
the soggy light blue sail and was pulling it out
when its young pilot sputtered to the surface.
'I'm sorry to intrude,' he apologized. 'I
intended landing on the beach, but the air currents
suddenly dropped and dumped me here in your
pool.
'No worries,' Stoddart assured offering his hand.
'I guess flying those things is not as easy as it
looks.'
'Takes a lot of practice. The best way to start
is by being towed at sea by a power boat – that
way
you don't get hurt when you boob on landing.
Running free from a hill top takes a little more
practice.'
'Not many of those around here.' Stoddart
observed, knowing full well the landscape was as
flat as a pancake for miles around.
The young man grinned, showing a perfect set of
pearly white teeth. 'I took the liberty of jumping
off the roof of my hotel,'
                        32
'Here.' Stoddart continued offering his hand, and
he noted the his unexpected visitor also sported a
muscular tanned body that suggested he was very
much an outdoor type. 'How far can you glide
using
that contraption?' he casually inquired.
'With a tow line, as far long as you like.' came
his friendly reply, 'Without that it depends on
how
high you can get and on how much wind there is.'
'Supposing you wanted to land on a particular
spot twenty miles away - could you do it?'
Stoddart ventured.
'Oh, Sure. But I'd have the wind would be in my
favour of course.'
'You're not hurt are you?' Stoddart asked
thoughtfully.
21
'No, the water cushioned my landing. If you want
to travel this way without worrying about winds a
currants, the next best thing is a microlight
glider. Thats one of these things fitted with an
engine. Although you are supposed to have a
license
for that.'
'I guess a man of means could keep himself
amused
all through the summer season out here.' Stoddart
probed. 'From your accent I'd say you're a
Londoner
out here on holiday,' probed further.
                        33
'I hail from Woolwich as it happens. I have my
own a water sports business there. The problem is
our inclement weather is not very encouraging.
So I
thought to myself; why the hell should I stay
there
to do my thing, when the weather, working
condition
and the taxes out here are much more acceptable.'
'My names Max,' Stoddart smiled, offering his
hand. 'Can I offer you a drink?'
'James Scot, but mostly I get called Randy, as in
Randolf Scot, because I'm crazy about country
western music.'
'I have a friend called Tony Snow. Everyone calls
Him Hank for the same reason. Come to think of
it,
your face seems familiar. Have we met before?'
'I doubt it Scott said. 'You've probably seen me
on TV. I race 1000cc Japanese ski-cycles on the
river Thames.
'Now I recall Bonny lad,' he beamed. 'Look, I've
got to make some calls. Maybe we can get
together
later for a chat. You're not due to go home for a
few days I hope?'
'No I've got a few more days.'
Feeling like a great weight had been lifted from
his shoulders after Scot left, Stoddart went inside
and as he reached for the telephone he ogled the
naked beauty of his wife who stood framed in the
                        34
bedroom doorway.
'Dinner's getting cold,' she cooed seductively.
'Keep it warm for a few minutes Bonny lass, the
circus is has just come to town and this old lion's
22
on the prowl.'
'Hurry then, because the monkey is due for a nose
bleed and there'll be no show tonight,' she
grinned.
Unaware as she was of his conversation with Scot
and the anxiety it appeared to have caused, she
sensed an upsurge in his mood and remained to
listen.
'Hello     Hank,' he        began.    'Any more
developments?'
'Sadly yes. And it's becoming painfully obvious
that Rodriguez is the orchestrator of all our
troubles. Some of his men have been offering
protection to our girls and our sex-aid shops in St
Martins Road. They have been told to cough up
£500
a week or be put out of business. Have you any
ideas about how to tackle him without starting a
major gang war?'
'Right now that's just what I have in mind Bonny
lad. Whether I cool down by the time I get home
is
another matter entirely. But never mind that for
now.
A young chap literally dropped a few minutes
ago,
                        35
and I hope he may be the one to solve my travel
problem. He goes by the name of James Scott. He
owns a water sports business of some sort based
at
Woolwich. I want you to research him with the
view
to putting him out of business. I want him so
broke
that he'll lick my boots for pound.'
'That sounds a bit vicious,' Snow queried. 'What's
he done to deserve that, and how will it help our
present situation.'
'He races one of those motorbike contraptions
that go on water,' Stoddart explained. 'If we can
reduce him to a state where he'll be glad to accept
any kind of deal that'll help get him back on his
feet, he could get me back across the channel
without the authorities knowing.
One of those machines would hardly be visible on
radar, and even if it was picked it would probably
dismissed as a freak thing. As far as I can recall
23
those ski bikes can do better than 60 miles an
hour, so I'll be across before anyone can react.'
'It still seems a bit drastic,' Snow persisted.
'Why not make him a good offer for his services?'
'Because I don't intend taking the chance of a
refusal Bonny lad.
'Have you got a figure in mind?' Snow inquired.
A refusal could be devastating Stoddart thought.
On the other hand, if he smuggled couple of kilos
                        36
of cocaine, it would go a long way to covering the
loses incurred during the turbulent episode he was
suffering.
'Be generous,' said at last warming to the idea.
'Offer him £10, 000 up front and another 10 on
completion.
'Jesus wept! A you serious.'
'Never more so. In fact the more I think about
that young man the more I think about his
usefulness.'
'Your the boss,' ceded Snow. 'What does this
bloke look like.'
' He's about 25 years old, 6feet tall, weighs
about 200lbs, and has got a body like a Greek
god.
His eye are blue and has no facial hair, tattoo's
or rings. On the face of it he appears to be a good
clean living young bloke, so you'd best go easy
on
your approach.'
'When does he leave?'
In two days time.'
When Stoddart hung up Snow cradled the
telephone
between his chin and shoulder while he redialed.
Using his free hand he tugged open the top
drawer
of his desk and fumbled for a sweet-like tablet
which he place on his tongue in hope of quelling
the acid that rose from his stomach to burn the
back of his throat.
                        37
'Wicks,' slurred, maneuvering the tablet to one
side of his mouth,
'It's Snow. I've got a job for you.
'Sounds like you're in need of a dentist,' Wicks
24
observed.
'Sorry,' Snow apologized. I've got a mouth full
of Rennie's. The worry of this damn business is
giving ulcer's.'
'Thats the name of the game unfortunately. When
I
was your age I always told myself that once I'd
made a killing I'd get out of this game and settle
down to the quiet life. Even had dreams of
making
it real big and spending my time on a big yacht
out
on the Mediterranean.
Now look at me? I'm a middle aged has been who
never was – whose capabilities don't go beyond
lock
picking, petty theft and doing general dogs body
jobs for likes of you. Take some well intended
advice based on 35 years of kidding myself. Get
the
hell out with whatever you can lay your hands on
while the getting's good. And the way things are
looking, that isn't going to last long. No matter
which way you read the signs, a gang war for
control of more turf is going to leave a lot of
dead in its wake'
                        38
'Thats for sure.' Snow agreed. 'Unfortunately,
its a question of alternatives. Anyway, lets get
down to the business in hand shall we?. I want
you
to go down to Woolwich and locate a water sports
business owned by a young chap by the name of
James
Scott. He races those waterborne motorcycle
things
and sells them and a load of kindred stuff to the
trade.
Max wants him put out of business. Every stick
and stone he possess has to go. If he doesn't live
on the premises, try to locate his home through
the
telephone directory and strip that too. You
shouldn't have any trouble from him because he's
on
holiday in Spain and won't be home for a couple
of
days. You'd better take Walker and Golder along
to
give you a hand. The jobs worth 15 grand. How
you
share out with the others is down to you.'
The price was much more than Wicks would have
asked given the option. He swallowed. Adding
the
25
lions share of the fee to his meager savings and
the £5000 he had already received for aiding
                        39
Rodriguez in his quest to take over Stoddarts
organization seemed like his fortunes were
turning.
'Is there anything in particular that you want
done with this stuff? ' Wicks asked.
'Lets put it this way,' Snow advised. 'If it
can't be found, it can't be traced back to you.'
'Suites me fine. 'Whats Max's beef with this
guy.'
'He didn't say and I didn't ask. You know Max,
maybe he thinks this handsome, muscular beach
boy
type has been playing footsie with his old
woman'.
Snow lied.
'That sounded like Snow,' observed Rico
Fernandez
– Rodriguez's hatchet man.
Wicks' arm remained resting on the arm of his
chair. Still holding the telephone, he turned to
face Fernandez, a slight wiry man with dark close
set eyes that made his skin crawl.
'Stoddart wants some guy by the name of Scott
put
out of business. He owns a water sports business
in
Woolwich and Snow reckons he's been playing
around
with his old woman.' He answered, being meager
with
the truth.
                       40
Fernandez smiled. 'Well, speaking for myself, I
wouldn't kick her out of bed. Is this business with
him going to interfere with ours?'
'Depends on how long it takes,' Wicks replied
'One things for sure, I can't give your job
precedence over Snows. He thinks I've always
worked
exclusively for him and Max. If I start making
excuses for not doing his job they're going to
start wondering why. That could end up with
them
finding out about my dealings with Rodriguez
and
queer your deal to take over his organization.'
'In that case you'd better get on with it,'
Fernandez advised. 'Call me if you think this
Scott
business might be of any interest to us. Failing
that, I'll see you for the next stage of your pay
26
off in two days time.'
'Fine.' Wicks agreed, 'Bbut do us both a favour
by not coming here. Snows no fool and I wouldn't
put it past him to have some of us watched to find
out if anyone of his people is collaborating with
Rodriguez. It must be painfully obvious that
someone is.'
'Swallowing the last of his beer, Fernandez eased
himself out of the comfortable armchair. 'Sure,'
he
agreed. 'I'll let myself out.'
                        41
Chapter 3
When he returned home, Scott was devastated to
find his dream had become a nightmare. Every
stick
and stone had gone, simply disappeared from the
face of the earth. The chance he had taken with
his
meager fortune and hard work building up his
business had been for nothing. All that remained
was and aging series D Citroen and a few months
lease that remained on his business premises that
now housed no more than the advertising
literature
of his stolen wares.
For two days he had scoured the city and suburbs
in hope of finding some trace of his stock on sale
without success. None of his many friends and
contacts were able to help. Still blurry eyed from
to much drink the night before, he rang the police
to inquire if they had any more luck than himself,
only to be told that a large plastic bag, believed
to contain some of his belongings, had been
retrieved from the river Thames.
At their request he presented himself in a
hopeful mood at the police station for the purpose
of identification. For several minutes he waited
along in a spartan interview room sitting on a
hard
wooden seat until Chief Super intendant Haynes
entered carrying the suspect bag.
                        42
He was a tall good looking man with dark hair
and
friendly eyes that smiled and accused at the same
time, almost making Scott feel guilty of a crime
he
27
hadn't committed.
'So you're Scott are you?' he said emptying the
contents of the shiny bag on the table before him.
'Do you recognize any of this stuff?'
There were some items of clothing which had
been
daubed with paint during the renovation of the
house boat he had been preparing for his own use
before embarking on his venture into researching
his Spanish project. Curious as to how the police
had connected them to himself, he began to
inspect
them more closely.
'Well,' urged Hayes impatiently, 'are they
yours?'
'Sure,' Scott admitted, 'I was just wondering how
come you managed to make the connection.
There's
nothing there to identify them as being mine.'
The hint of a cold smile touched Haynes' lips as
he produced several photographs from his breast
pocket and handed them over.
'You have some interesting friends,' he stated
accusingly. 'Richard Montgomery, a professional
gambler; Spiro Dieger, an international arms
                        43
dealer; Cameron, a race horse breeder.'
Looking at the pictures, Scott saw himself with
the people mentioned. Each had been taken at the
end of a race he had won on his much prized
skicycle.
'They sponsored me in early days when I first
started out in the business,' he explained.
'Naturally they won large sums of money
whenever I
won. So what?
'And when you lost?' Haynes queried
suspiciously.
'If you've done your homework you must know
that
I never lost a race.' He declared proudly.
'So tell me about your trip to Spain?' Haynes
asked changing the subject.
'I already have. Several times in fact. Its all
in my statement.' Scott shot back curtly. 'If you
want any more detail than that, I suggest you
study
it word by word until you know it off by heart.'
28
'What puzzles me, is why you should want to
move
a highly successful business to Spain? I
understand
you had no debts and paid promptly for all your
stock.'
'Its called saturation.' Scott answered. 'In my
view I had gone as far as I could get, considering
                        44
the circumstances. As for my not having any
debts.
The answer is very simple. I just like to know that
what finances I do have are mine to do as I please
with. In other words I just don't like owing
anyone
money.'
'And what were these circumstances that
prompted
you to move?' Haynes persisted.
'First the weather in this country is so
unpredictable for the water sports enthusiasts.
When you pay thousands of pounds for a ski-
cycle
for instance, you like to know that you are going
to get the fullest possible use and enjoyment out
of it.
The average punter is the ordinary working man
or
woman, so their they're limited to holidays and
week ends. How many week ends of reasonably
fine
weather can you recall in the past year?
Then there is the prospect of expanding. Another
center in London would mean competing with
myself.
If I opened another in any of the coastal towns or
resorts I'd have to commute to and fro to
supervise
my stocks and managers. That would mean
trebling my
                        45
insurance for employing two managers in order to
open one center. That is always supposing I could
find two that I could trust, let alone know enough
about the business to converse with customers
and
give test runs. On top of that these machines are
built for speed racing. Our seaside resorts are
fine for days out and holidays, but the sea needs
to be reasonably calm for the bikes to reach
anything like their full potential required when
racing.
'OK, ok! Haynes declared, holding up his hands
in
mock surrender. 'So what does Spain have to
offer
29
that we don't? Apart from the weather that is.'
'Have you ever been to Spain?' Scott inquired.
'No.' Haynes admitted.
'Well, over here I feel like a mouse running on a
treadmill in a cage and getting nowhere,' he
explained. 'The faster I run the faster the wheel
turns but I never seem to get anywhere. Out in
Spain the lifestyle is different. There isn't any
rat race and there's no hustle and bustle. You
don't feel the need to accumulate vast fortunes
that you won't ever live to spend. And there's
enough scope for some one like me to make a
good
living and still have the time to enjoy life.'
'You seemed to get a little up tight when you
                        46
mentioned insurance.' Haynes pressed. 'I assume
that you were well covered for your loses.'
'Sure, although my policies were taken along with
everything else. Once I've sorted that out I should
get around 50 thousand for the loss of my stock,
and the same again for the house boat I had just
finished renovating.
Thats going to take quite some time though. First
to I've got to produce duplicates invoices for
everything, and the insurance company know the
longer they delay the procedure the more I'll be
inclined to take their first offer.'
'On the other hand,' Haynes pointed out injecting
a smidgen of innuendo. 'at the end of the day it
saves you the trouble of selling everything and
having to transport out to Spain, doesn't it?
'Are you implying that I organized this caper so
that I could claim against my insurance
company?'
Scott shot back angrily.
'Supposing we find all your stuff at the bottom
of the river; how would your insurers view that.
After all, unless you can come up with a good
reason why anyone would want to steel you blind
and
then dump everything, it won't look good will it?'
Scott stood up and leaned on the table with arms
straight and fists clenched. With his tanned face
30
sallowed, and the hard stoniness of his voice
matching the icy diamond glint in his eyes he
                        47
vented his anger.
'If you care to step outside!' he began, 'If
you've got the guts that is, I'll ram those
innuendos down your throat and take the greatest
pleasure in doing it!'
Unshaken, that same irksome smile leered back
from Haynes as though deliberately provoking
him.
'I do have a point though you must admit?'
'I don't give a damn about points.' Scott shot
back angrily. 'I've been robbed of everything I
own, and as far as I'm concerned it's your job to
find the culprit, not make wild accusations
against
me!'
'Now that's an interesting point.' Haynes
claimed. 'Maybe you can help me and in
achieving
that, and even up an old score for both of us as
well as clearing up this mess. Why don't you sit
back down and we'll get down to cases? he added
offering a packet of cigarettes.
'I don't,' Scott said shaking his head, whilst
wondering what Haynes would be coming up
with next.
'You don't remember me do you?' he asked.
'Generally speaking remembering faces isn't my
thing' Scott confessed.
'I transferred to the MET from the river police
six Years ago. Dose that ring any bells?' Haynes
inquired.
                       48
In an instant, bad memories flooded back into
Scott's mind. It was six years ago when he had
been
a guest on a tug boat captained by his father, with
his brother as first mate. It was mid-night on a
warm summers night. The sky was crystal clear
with
a full moon, and the heavens twinkling with
myriads
of stars.
Just a few miles upstream the bright lights of
the city glowed like a great dome above the hustle
and bustle in the streets below.
His father gave the order to go slow astern and
31
the tug boats massive stern rope fender began to
nudge the bow of a huge ocean going container
carrier, which they were in the process of gently
maneuvering into its berth.
As it towered above, a crew member signaled to a
power boat lying some distance away. As many
over
curious onlookers sometimes do, the power boat
came
in close. A warning voice had called out as it
came
in to collect a consignment of illegal narcotics
from a courier stationed at an open porthole on a
lower deck.
At that precise moment a river police boat zeroed
in from a distance. A second one, which had been
                        49
lying in wait behind a ship anchored mid-stream,
came into view. Then a powerful search light
zeroed
in from both with loud hailer;s ordering the
power
boat to heave too.
It answered by coming to full power and during
the excitement a crewman on the carrier released
the giant anchor – though weather by a deliberate
act or accident had never been established. Scott's
brother had been crushed to a pulp under its
massive tonnage and the impact sent the tug boat
to
the bottom in seconds drowning his father. Scott,
whom had always been a powerful swimmer, was
the
only surviver despite the police abandoning there
quarry to assist.
'I remember now,' he recalled. 'Did you ever
catch the smugglers?'
'Oh, we knew who they were, but if you can't
prove anything in a court of law, arresting them is
a waste of time.
As I recall it was you that said you could
recognize one; yet couldn't describe him or pick
him out from out mug shot – and believe me, he
was
among them.'
'That maybe, but whats this skill you hinted at
earlier and how does it help me?'
                        50
Haynes groped in his breast pocket and produced
a
photograph, which to Scott's surprise was of
32
Stoddart at his villa in Spain.
'What is your connection to this man?' He
inquired.
'There isn't any. I was hang gliding and fell
into his swimming pool when the wind suddenly
dropped. Apart from that we met once when he
invited me to a cocktail party the following night.
His friends were a bit high-brow for me so after a
couple of hours I made my excuses and left.'
'Did Stoddart talk much about himself?'
'No, he just seemed interested in my business.
I'd already mentioned that I planned moving out
there to start afresh and he gave me the
impression
that he wanted to help – provided he got a share
in
the business. Mind you, to be fair, he was
thinking
in far grander terms of business than I planned.'
'Oh he would be.' Haynes assured. 'Whats more,
he
probably didn't have your interests at heart. You
see, we have a couple of men out there watching
him
and they have his villa bugged. What else do you
know about him?
'He claimed to have business interests both here
                        51
in London and on the continent. He didn't
elaborate
on what they were or exactly where. Apart from
that
I don't know a thing about him,'
'For what it's worth he's one of two big gangland
bosses in London. You name it and he's got a
finger
in the pie. Now', Haynes continued in a more
serious tone, 'if you repeat the information I'm
about to disclose to you, or try to act on your own
in any way shape or form, I shall personally
crucify and hang you out to dry. Is that
understood?
'Yes,' Scott readily agreed. 'Although, what I
don't understand is why you're trying to involve
me
in something which doesn't appear to be any of
my
business.'
'Patience,' Haynes advised. 'Give me your word
that you won't do anything off your own back and
I'll fill you in on how this business concerns
33
you.'
'OK, you have my word.'
'Good,'Haynes sighed. 'As I said, there are two
main gangs operating in the city and at the
moment
one is trying to take over the other. The boss of
one, who's name I won't divulge at the moment, is
                        52
the one responsible for the deaths of your father
and brother, and I'm quite sure you'll eventually
meet him.
Anyway, he set Stoddart up so he would get
arrested, leaving the way clear form to take over
his business interests. Unfortunately, Stoddart
managed to flee to Spain – where you dropped in
on
him like a savior from heaven.
'He may well have an interest in your business,
but not for the reasons you think.' Haynes
philosophized. 'I have tape recordings of
telephone
conversations to substantiate virtually everything
I'm about to tell you. And please don't go flying
off the handle because my department didn't see
fit
to save you going through the trauma you're
experiencing at the moment.
Unfortunately we have much bigger fish to fry in
order to stop a lot of ordinary people like you
getting hurt. Too name a few, I'm talking about
young girls being forced into prostitution, people
committing violent crimes in order to satisfy there
cravings for the addictive drugs these gangs
peddle. Not to mention gun crimes as they vie for
control of each others turf.
Stoddart must have realized, soon after you
dropped into his pool that you held the key to his
getting back into the U K at will, and out back
again, without being discovered. He would have
                        53
reasoned that if he propositioned you, you might
well refuse since your business was doing quite
well anyway. To his way of thinking the obvious
solution was to bring you down to your knee's
and
then get one of his cronies to put proposition to
you.
34
'To put it bluntly, your usefulness to him is
that you can get him into and out of the country at
will, without anyone realizing the how of it. I
know for a fact that you will soon be offered
£10,000 by one of his cronies to bring him across
the channel on a ski cycle.'
'But I don't have one any more.' Scott declared.
'For someone with Stoddarts clout that's not a
problem. As for the fee he's offering, he'll more
than make up for that by bringing it a couple of
K's of coke.'
'Jesus Christ! Just what are you getting me
into?' Scott blurted. 'Isn't it bad enough that
you've participated by doing nothing, in a crime
that has ruined me. And you are now, not only
expecting me to become a party to your scheme,
but
to actually commit a felony for which I could be
sent to prison for. Or even killed by these
villains that you expect me to conspire with.'
Unmoved by Scott's outburst Haynes continued.
'The big fish we're after runs an international
                        54
drugs cartel. With your help, through Stoddart,
we
can break the biggest ring operating in Europe.
And
you, a little nobody from nowhere, are going to
play a key role in bringing them to justice. Not to
mention the thousands of lives saved by keeping
this stuff off the streets. And lets face it,
whether you like it or not, you are in fact a
victim right now. But for all the hard work of my
department in keeping tabs on Stoddart, he could
get away with it without your help.'
With a considerable effort Scott kept his
feelings under control while he tried to
understand
Haynes' actions and his expectations.
'How can he help this man? He pondered. 'He has
obviously stood by while parties unknown to
himself
had taken everything he owned. If the truth be
known he could probably reach out and touch
everything that was once mine if he chose to. He
had acted like God over me and now expects me
to be
35
a puppet on a string. Jesus Christ, some people
have got some gall.'
'Have you ever seen what heroin and cocaine can
do to people? Haynes persisted, guessing that
Scott
was weighing up the the pro's and con's. 'Can you
                        55
even begin to to guess what some addicts will do
to
maintain there habit? Whole families just fall
apart. Some even kill their parents when they get
found out. On rare occasions they do just that in
order to inherit the families chattels in order to
pay off their drug debts.'
While Haynes droned on, Scott's mind move to a
sanatorium where his mother now lived in
tormented
grief over the loss of her husband and son. A
beautiful young woman emerged from the dark
recess'
of his mind. A blond, whose blue eyes were
vacant
as she slouched rather than walked, with arms
hanging loosely at her sides and her shoulders
slumped without pride or purpose.
'Oh yes I know well enough.' said at last. 'As I
see it, you want something from me in return for
the man responsible for the deaths of my father
and
brother.'
'Now hold on, I didn't say that.' Haynes said.
'No,' Scott agreed. 'But I'm saying it and I want
to know where my gear is, and I want to know
who
stole it. I want those responsible so bad I can
taste it.'
'If you're not going on my terms,' Haynes said
meaningfully, 'the only thing you're going to taste
                        56
is a large portion of my boot for an an hors
d'oeuvre and a whole lot of lumpy prison porridge
for a main course.
Haynes' tone suggested he was playing a game
where he knew all the angles and made up the
rules
as he went along. Scott thought about what that
meant for a few moments and decided that he
could
play that game too.
'I suppose that means that I get arrested for
insurance fraud,' he retorted angrily. 'So its your
36
way, I guess. So what do I do now?
'If my information is correct, you're due to
register yourself as unemployed later this
morning.
Do just that. One of Stoddard's cronies will
probably contact you soon and when that
happens,
you let me know. You can reach me here or leave
a
message if I'm not available. What I don't want is
you going on a one man crusade. Just let the law
take its course and we'll get all those responsible
for the deaths of your father and brother and your
recent loses in our own good time.
The day was still young as Scott set out for the
job center. Thoughts of joining the queues of
unemployed was distasteful after being his own
boss
                        57
for so long and he tried to concentrate instead on
what the future might hold according to the
predictions of Haynes. The thought of £10,000
for
bringing Stoddart back into the country pleased
him. But even so, such a sum would in no way
compensate for what he had been robbed of, and
would by no means be enough to set him up in
business in Spain.
Feeling the need to stretch his legs and walk
while he thought things over, he parked his
Citroen
outside a flat that a friend was allowing him to
use whilst sorting out his troubles. With his mind
in a turmoil he walked the streets, oblivious to
the crowds thronging the pavements and the
almost
stationery lines of vehicles which choked the
busy
lifelines of the city. In an effort to try to sort
out how he really felt, and which course of action
he should take, he tried to project his mind above
himself, in an effort to see things unaffected by
the hot and cold passions of hate and vengeance.
It was difficult considering his past losses of
family, his fortunes and his dreams for the future.
Yet, by the time he had joined the long snaking
queue of the unemployed that spilled out onto the
pavement at the job center, he felt he knew what
he
had to do. Glum and bored he shuffled forward
                        58
37
periodically as the front of the queue edged
through the plate glass doors.
A howl of laughter from a group of lads behind
caused him to automatically turn.
'Smoke,' asked a well dressed young man.
'Thanks,' Scott said, accepting one.
'I hope you've got a light. I seem to have lost
my lighter.' the stranger admitted.
As he reached forward, shielding the flame, Scott
took the opportunity to study the mans face. He
was
good looking with blue eye's and rich dark well
groomed hair. The touch of his well manicured
hand
as he steadied the flame, was gentle.
'Thanks.' he said looking up. 'The names Snow,
Tony Snow.'
'Pleased to meet you, I'm James Scott. Looking at
the way you're dressed, you're not the kind of
person I'd expect to find in a dole queue. This is
my first time. Have you any idea what the pay is
for a single man' he inquired.
'Hard to say without knowing your
circumstances.
It can get a bit involved. For instance if you're
buying your own pad and paying a mortgage,
they'll
pay the interest for you. They'll also pay for bed
and breakfast if you have no where to live.'
'I'm staying at a friends flat and not paying
                        59
rent.'
'In that case you won't get much more than £15 a
week. Don't you know someone who'll give you a
few
day's casual work every week? You know the
score;
£15 or £20 cash in the hand which you don't
declare?
'No chance,' Scott lied. 'I used to run my own
water sports business and that took all my time.
I presume the kind of people you're talking about
are builders, taxi firms and market traders.
Unfortunately I've never had the opportunity to
mix
with those kind of people. At least not well
enough
to ask that kind of favour. For all they know I
could just as easily be an inspector trying to
38
catch them out in their fiddles.'
'Thats tough,' Snow sympathized. 'You say were
into water sports and your face seems familiar.
Where would I have seen you before, I wonder?'
'Probably on the TV. A couple of the races I won
were televised. Apart from that I did some TV
advertising to boast my sales.'
'What happened? Did you go bust?'
'No, business was beginning to boom, then I got
burgled and they cleaned me out of every thing I
owned. That included my cloths and furnishing
above
                       60
in my flat. I wish the Christ I could get my hands
on the culprits. Loosing my personal things and
stock was bad enough, but what really creased me
up
was loosing my personal ski bike. I had it
specially built and there isn't another one to
touch it in the racing fraternity.'
'I know where I've seen you!' Snow declared
triumphantly. 'You were interviewed on TV after
someone in the race complained that your fuel
had
been doctored to produce more power than the
other
contestants and therefore disadvantaged them.'
'They were right too.' Scot admitted. 'But there
are no rules governing the type of fuel used; only
the type of engine.'
'That's interesting. Maybe you have more going
for you than the average casual worker. I know
quite a lot of people who could put your talent to
good use, if you don't mind taking chances. And
I'm
not talking in terms of a few pounds, more like
thousands. Are you interested?.
Scott reached out to take a firm grip on Snows
arm. 'Try moving and I'll tear your arm off,' he
jested.
'Good for you.' Snow sighed in relief at getting
over his first hurdle. 'This isn't the place to
discus what I have in mind. You get signed on
and
                        61
wait for me outside. I'll be through long before
you get processed. I'll make some phone calls on
your behalf to some people I known. If I'm not
39
outside when you're done just hang around until I
get back.'
'With the kind of wages you're talking about, I
don't think I'll bother signing on.'
'Take some well intended advice,' Snow advised
in
a friendly tone. 'You go through the motions – I'm
sure the experience will stand you in good stead
in
the near future if things get a little on the rough
or sensitive.'
Scott drew deep on his cigarette while his eyes
met Snows before lowering to admire the quality
and
perfect cut of his tailored suit once again.
'For the sake of an argument, lets just say that
I place my future prospects entirely in your
hands,' he replied by way of an agreement.
'Good,' Snow sighed. 'As a matter of interest,
what kind of speed can you do on one of those
Skibikes?'
'My machine could do a eighty knots.' Scott told
him with a prideful smile. 'The problem is that the
water and the weather conditions never allow that
speed to be attained. I personally have managed
75
on one occasion, but that was pushing my luck.'
                        62
'Sounds fine.' Snow grinned.
'You're not thinking of using one yourself are
you? Scott inquired. 'If you are, be warned; those
tiny little ripples of water you see the ski
sliding over cause vibrations that shake the hell
out of you. It's akin to riding an ordinary
motorbike over a newly ploughed field at top
speed.'
'I'll take your word for that.' Snow readily
agreed, but when Scott inquire what he was
expected
to do, Snow replied coldly. 'Be patient for an hour
and you'll know all you need to know. Then it's
up
to you.'
'Next!' called a male clerk in a flat
disinterested, gruff monotoned voice. Scott turned
in mild surprise before walking the dozen or so
paces to the desk where he sat down.
40
'Card.' grunted the clerk, reaching across.
'I don't have one.' Scott admitted. 'I haven't
been here before.'
'Name.' the clerk sighed.
'Scott. James Scott, with two 'T,s'
'Date of birth.'
'26 of the first 59.'
'Age 25,' mumbled the clerk as he filled in an
unemployment index card. 'Where and when did
you
last sign on?
                        63
'I've never been out of work before. This is my
first time.'
'Makes a change,' the clerk grunted eying him
with a curious interest. 'Most people that come
here don't want work anyway. Scroungers and tea
leaves the lot of them. What did you say your last
job was?'
'I didn't. I owned my own water sports business
but thieves broke in and stole all my stock and
personal belongings.'
'Bloody parasites!' the clerk scorned in an
unexpected show of emotion. 'Too damn lazy to
work
for their own benefit and more than happy to rob
those that do. And I can't help you, mores the
pity. Have you looked on the notice board for any
vacant situations which might suit your needs?'
'No,' Scott answered. 'I didn't know there was
one.'
'Over there.' the clerk pointed. 'If you find
anything, come back here to see me. Don't queue
up
again. If not, you'll have to go to the Social
Security to get benefit from them. Unfortunately
for you, if you've been self employed you can't
collect benefit for 6 weeks. Best of luck,' he
concluded raising his gaze to look beyond Scott's
shoulder and called,'Next!'
'Snow Walked past Scott, giving him a broad
wink
murmuring; 'Stick with it.'
                        64
His knowing smile remained imprinted on Scott's
memory as he walked towards the line of notice
41
boards at the far side of the large office where
several hundred cards were displayed. Each bore
a
type written name and address of a prospective
employer along with details of qualifications
required and the salary paid.
After studying a score of them in detail, he
found it easy to understand why he alone
bothered
to look. Positions calling for little brain power
offered wages that would just about entice an
idiot
to apply, while those requiring social skills
offered wages which were little better than an
insult to a persons ego or intelligence.
'Anything of interest? Snow inquired over his
shoulder.
'A man would have to hard pressed to take any of
that crap.' he scowled. 'The only job that pays
well entails removing asbestos lagging from
Battersea power station. At my age I can do
without
that kind of risk, no matter how small or well
paid.'
'I heard the clerk telling you that you weren't
entitled to unemployment benefit for 6 weeks and
that you need to apply for a Social Security hand
out. That sounds like a run around to me.'
                       65
'Oh, they'll give you something.' Snow assured.
'Go through the motions,' he encouraged. 'The
experience will work wonders for you later on.
That
much I'll guarantee. I'm off to make some phone
calls to see if any one I know can put your talents
to good use. Stick around and I'll catch up with
you later.'
They exited together where Snow directed him to
the Social Security department in the building
next
door. It was a cool, lofty room of some hundred
feet square, with a single middle aged
bespectacled
female clerk sitting alone behind a long counter.
A
dozen people were scattered among long rows of
bench seats and Scott noted that there seemed to
be
no particular order of there being attended to. It
was more of a question of watching to see when
your
42
turn came around.
Suspecting the lack of staff was probably due to
the fact that it was time for afternoon tea, he
glanced around to check on those before him
before
sitting down close to a young mother in the front
row. After a while he began to fidget as one by
one
                        66
the applicants approached the clerk to give there
sob stories, pleading poverty for cash handouts.
To
each she listened with the same bored
nonchalance
before handing a them forms to fill in.
'I'm hungry,' declared a young flat voice, and
Scott looked down to find two young children
standing to one side looking up at him hopefully.
The speaker was a dark haired boy of about 3
years old, the other a girl about a year older, who
gazed at him with large dark eye's.
'Sorry, but I don't have anything to eat for just
now,' he said.
'Jason! Mandy! Will you come here and sit
down.'
their young mother ordered in a harsh whisper,
and
they turned obediently. 'But I'm hungry mum,' the
young lad persisted.
'How many times do I have to tell you about not
talking to strangers?' she chastised, but then a
shuffling behind to counter drew her attention.
'Next!' called a new arrival, at the same time as
the other clerk dispensed with her client. The
young mother with her 2 children made her way
to
the desk, leaving the male to deal with him.'
'What's your problem?' he asked.
'Basically I came to register as unemployed in
                        67
hope of getting a job or unemployment benefit,'
he
began. 'But as I was considered to be self
employed, the clerk next door sent me here
because
the rules state that I can't claim benefit for the
first 6 week period.'
'What was the reason for the termination of your
employment?' the clerk asked, placing a form on
the
counter.
'I ran my own business until thieves took
43
everything I owned.' he repeated as the clerk
poised to put pen to paper.
'I see.' he said putting the pen to one side. 'Do
you have any money in any bank or building
societies, or any other savings.'
'I have about £3,000 in my business account, but
I owe half of that to my main stockist. The other
half I'm due to pay as rent to the landlord of my
premises where I also lived in a bedsit.
'Sorry, but you can't claim if you have more than
£500.'
'But, as I said, I owe half and if I don't pay my
rent I'll be homeless as well. Then if the police
do happen to find my stolen things, I'll have no
where to store them.'
'Sorry,' the clerk repeated. 'but as long as you
have it, thats all that counts. I suggest you let
                        68
your creditors make you bankrupt and use the
money
to live on until you qualify for unemployment
benefit. Take this form to fill it in. You can
bring it back when you're below the level stated.'
Despondent and disgusted he stood up, and as he
turned his gaze fell upon the female claimant and
her young children.
'The trouble with you,' she retorted with tears
glistening on her cheeks, 'is that if you ever had
children, you've forgotten what it's like and how
quickly they grow out of their cloths.
I've just spent my last on shoe's for Jason
before coming here. Now I have nothing left for
food before my cheque arrives the day after
tomorrow. Look for Christ's sake, you can see his
shoes are new!'
'The trouble with people like you is that you
expect the tax payers to finance your inability to
organize you own spending properly. Your rent is
already being paid direct to your landlord because
you kept spending it,' the clerk criticized.
'Go to hell! Snarled the young mother, tearing up
her form again and again, adding unashamedly as
she
44
scattered the pieces over the clerk. 'You know I
can't read or write and I'm staying right here
until you give me some money to buy food for
my
kids!'
                        69
Sympathizing with the young mother in her
plight,
Scott fully understood her determination.
Glancing
back at the clerk who had interviewed him, he
dropped the form given to him back on the desk.
'I guess I must have lived a charmed life. God
forbid that I should ever be subjected to such an
experience again. Or worse, that I should be
reduced to that young mothers present status. I
feel nothing but shame,'
Looking up, the clerk fixed him with a direct
stare and said calmly. 'Take you hate and
multiply
it one hundred fold, then turn it into
determination. If you succeed in that you won't
ever need to visit a place like this again.
Scott felt that those words should have somehow
have come much better from a person of
considerably
more years and experience. Still thinking of the
young mother he made his way outside to wait for
Snow's return. Half an hour later he spotted him
weaving between cars in the parking area across
the
road.
'Hi!' he called.
'Hi Yourself!' echoed Snow with a smile. 'How
did
you get on.'
'I didn't.' he admitted somberly. 'How about
                       70
you?'
'Great. If you're up to to what's on offer. The
pay is £10,000 to transport a man across the
channel and take him back at his convenience.'
'He must be desperate.' Scott declared.
'He is. His name is Max Stoddart and he's a
gangland boss who run foul of the law. Another
gang
is trying to take over his operations and he wants
get back here to stop them.'
'Max Stoddart?' Scott echoed. 'I met him out in
Spain a few days ago, but I had no idea who or
what
45
he did for a living.'
'Well you do now. Are you still game?'
'After what I've just been through in there I am.
You do realize that I don't have a ski-cycle any
more.'
'Don't worry, I'll organize everything Snow
promised. 'You get your money up front on this
occasion, and we go tonight. I'll pick you up at 8
o'clock, if that suits you.'
'The sooner the better. I'll wait for you at my
friends flat at 29 Knights place. Its just around
the corner, off the old Kent road.'
'I'll be there. Right now I have some last minute
details to take care of, so I'll see you later.'
'There is one question,' Scott begged. 'Is this
going to be a one of job?'
Inwardly Snow smiled. 'For Stoddart maybe, but I
                        71
have lots of contacts with people who'll pay well
to be transported across the channel. Some are
criminals and not all are British, who want to
come
over from the continent for various reasons. Then
there will be those wanting to go from England to
the continent to salt away their ill gotten gains
in European banks, where the tax man can't trace
it.
They won't necessarily be criminals as such.
Many
are respected businessmen or couriers for them.
They of course, won't expect to pay as much for
your services as a man on the run. Even so, I'm
sure there's a lot of cash to be made.'
'What about you?' Scott inquired. 'Who pays
you?'
'The client. The money you get will be after I've
taken my cut for organizing things.
Bearing in mind of course, that if I'm to greedy
and your fee is to small, we both loose out,
because you won't accept. Agreed.'
'Common sense,' Scott smiled.
Prompted by morbid curiosity, Scott leaned
against the wall to see what might have become
of
the young mother with her 2 children.
46
After lighting a cigarette he pondered Snows
progress as he moved between the rows of multi
colored vehicles towards his own. Then, without
                       72
first realizing it, his gaze focused on another
man, who also seemed to be taking an interest in
Snow.
'Could he be one of Haynes's colleagues? he
pondered, keeping them both under surveillance.
Then he reflected that since Snow, according to
Haynes, was close to Stoddart, who was being
hounded by a rival gang, it could also be one of
them.
Deciding to take no chances, he walked to the
curbside as Snow approached in his gleaming
Porsche
to flag him to stop.
'I could be imagining things,' he warned 'but I
think you're being followed.'
'Thanks,' Snow said, 'I won't stop. No point in
drawing undue attention to you. But you'd better
keep your eyes open just in case our meeting has
provoked interest from one of Stoddart's rivals.
They can be rough if they think you know
something
that would be of interest to them.
Moments later, after Snow had pulled back into
the traffic, Scott glimpsed the face of another man
peering at him as he drove off in a brand new
Jaguar.
Deciding to string Haynes along for the moment,
Scott strolled back to his friends flat and dialed
Haynes' number.
'Stoddart's man made contact as you predicted.'
he told him, 'I'm supposed to be bringing him him
                        73
over tonight.'
'What do you mean, supposed to be? queried
Haynes.
'I'm waiting for Snow to pick me up, beyond that,
I don't know a damned thing. No time, no place
or
departure, pick up point or destination.'
Haynes shook his head. 'Mister, when you get to
know that kind of detail in advance, you are one
of
47
three things. Top of the pile, being set up or
about to be sanctioned. By that I mean killed so
that you can't talk. If you do manage to hear
anything of use to me, give me a call.
Other than that make yourself useful to Stoddart.
Get as close as you can. If you put on a good
show
tonight I'm sure he'll realize that your special
talent could be of use to him running narcotics.
Then I'll get my main man and you'll get yours.'
'I don't suppose you've found any trace of my
gear yet have you?' Scott asked.
Haynes thought quickly. If he told him that all
his possessions were at the bottom of the River
Thames by direct orders from Stoddart, it could
ensure that he would never reach British shores.
On
the other hand, he realized it might fuel the fires
of hatred sufficiently to enough for Scott to dig
deeper into his business so that he could do unto
                        74
him as he was done to by him.
'Answer me a question first,' Haynes invited.
'When you eventually find the man responsible
for
the deaths of your brother and father, what would
you choose? To see him rot in jail for 20 years or
take the law into your own hands and kill him?'
Knowing for certain that Stoddart wasn't that
man, Scott could not see what bearing Haynes
question had on the answer to his own, but he
answered anyway.
'Given the chance,' he said icily, 'he will
regret the day his was born.'
'All of your possessions were stowed on board the
houseboat you were renovating and the whole lot
was
sunk in the river.'
An icy cold feeling; not unlike cramp, swept
through Scott's body leaving him in a cold sweat.
'I could get a hundred years in jail for what I'm
thinking,' he replied. 'I'll be in touch, probably
to tell you that Stoddarts bodily remains are at
the bottom of the river along with my gear.'
'Do that and you'll never find the man
48
responsible for the deaths of your kin folks.'
Haynes assured.
Waiting for Snow, he was plagued by bitter
thoughts. After several minutes of being sickened
by the wild ramblings of his vengeful mind, he
left
                        75
the confines of the flat to walk in the fresh air
outside.
'Man, you look like you've got the weight of the
whole world sitting on your shoulders!'
Scott lifted his downcast gaze to look at Snow
smiling at him cheerfully through the open
window
of his Porsche. He saw the handsome face but
concentrated on the eye's, wondering what
manner of
man lurked behind the encouraging smile.
'I've seen better day's,' he replied sulkily,
settling into the passenger seat.
'You don't sound very eager,' Snow observed,
putting the Porsche into motion.
'My day has been what many would refer to as a
typical Monday. To be honest I feel so far down
that there's only one way left for me to go – and
thats straight up.'
'Glad to hear it. You just stick with me and I'll
make us both rich.' Snow promised.
'You have my undivided attention. Whats on the
agenda?'
'All in good time,' Snow promised. 'Everything
has been arranged and providing the law or some
of
our rivals don't foul things up, your trip should
be as simple as A-B-C. Why don't you relax?
Play
some tape if you like.'
Taking Snow at his word, he selected a tape of 50
                       76
golden oldies of gunfighter ballads and reclined
his seat a little. Leaning back, with his head on
the comfortable head rest and his eyes closed as
the scenes from classic movies came to mind,
reflecting his mood.
Slowly the tension eased from his body as he
began to wander into the realms of sleep. When
the
tape ended, the steady drone of the Porsche's
49
engine lulled him until Snows angry retort to a
careless driver brought him back to reality.
Blinking, he opened his eyes to find that dusk had
fallen and the windscreen wipers were brushing
aside a fine light drizzle aside.
'Have a good sleep? Snow inquired.
'I'm not sure,' Scott admitted. 'I was dreaming
that I was a drug smuggler.'
'Thats interesting. No trouble with the law I
hope?'
'No. As it happens, I was enjoying success
beyond
my wildest dreams, and all because I'd realized in
the early stages of my career that most all
smugglers got caught simply because they don't
use
their imaginations. By that I mean their methods
of
transporting the stuff, although ingenious, are
basically the same repartitions.
'I'm not sure what you mean.' Snow admitted,
                        77
taking an interest.
Scott sat up in his seat with the beginnings of
an idea forming in the back of his mind. 'Simply
this,' he began, noting from a road sign that they
were traveling on a motorway heading towards
Dover.
'The drug smugglers continue to move their
consignments from A to B in the same old ways.
For
instance, if we were picking up narcotics from a
courier tonight, we'd have to bring it by road or
by rail. We would have already taken a risk by
traveling on one of the ferries or sneaking across
the channel on a private yacht where we could
easily be picked up by radar and intercepted. If
that were not the case, we would then either
abandon the yacht or use it again, which would
increase our chances of getting caught the next
time around.'
'So how, in your dream, did you get over this
problem,' Snow inquired warming to his theory.
'One way, bearing in mind that in my dream I had
the specific task of moving consignments of up to
a
tonne across the English Channel, was by using a
50
relay method where no actual contact would be
made
between the couriers.
In effect, this eliminates the likelihood of
being tracked as suspicious by radar and
                        78
intercepted by the authorities. The French
connection would leave their coast and dump the
cargo in the sea en route to another French port.
Then the relay that had set out from an English
port, picks up the goods and return to home
waters.
If that was picked up by radar and tracked the
radar operators would no doubt shrug their
shoulders and assume it was some one traveling
from
one English port to another.'
'Sounds a bit haphazard to me,' Snow provoked,
hoping that his criticism would produce more
detail
of what could prove to be a multi-million pound
project.
'I would assume the street value of a tonne of
narcotics would run close to a hundred million
pounds,' Snow forecast. 'And you would just
dump
that kind of cargo into one of the busiest shipping
lanes in the world, then trust to luck that you
could pick it up again,' he queried.
'In my dream my first pick up was based on the
method of picking up commandos at sea after
they
had been on a raid during the war. You may have
seen that in films or documentary's'
'Is this the kind of thing you would go in for,
given the chance? Snow asked.
'Why not?' When you get right down to the nitty
                        79
gritty of life, it's every man for himself. The
power of the pound is all that matters these days.
Look at me and my past. I've worked as hard as I
know how, and where has it got me? My
commitments
outweigh my assets, and all I have for my pains is
the prospect of being charged with steeling my
own
stock in order to make a fraudulent claim against
my insurance company.'
'I know what you mean,' agreed Snow
sympathetically. 'The trouble is that some people
51
do these things so the law tars everyone with the
same brush until they can prove otherwise.
Unfortunately, the likes of you get caught up in
their intrigues and the insurers take advantage.
And lets face it, a days delay in paying out your
claim is money in the bank to them.
If they can hang on for as long as two years,
they'll have doubled the money owed to you in
investments. That means when you do eventually
get
paid out, all you're really getting is the interest
they have accumulated on your capital.'
'You make them sound like bigger crooks than
the
crooks.' Scott laughed.
'They are, make no mistake about that. They're
legal too,' Snow added. 'Did anything else come
to
                        80
mind during this dream of yours?'
'Only that I've just thought of two more ideas. I
can't quite recall the nitty gritty details. But
one involved firing the stuff across or doing in a
big way by remote control. I remember dreaming
that
I was talking to someone about the enormous
expense
of setting up the deal. The one aspect in my
favour
was that the method of transit was so unique that
it was impossible to detect.'
'And you can't remember what it was?
'No,' Scott lied, 'Maybe it will come back to me
later.'
When darkness came, the continuous lines of red
rear lights ahead, combined with the bright
headlights of on coming traffic, began to strain
Snows eyes. His gaze flicked to his own rear
view
mirror. A vehicle with one bright headlight and
the
other not quite so bright was still following some
way behind. He ignored it, knowing that it was
Rodriguez's hatchet man.
Minutes later, three huge columns of large red
lights loomed up through the drizzle, resolving
into the tall iron structure of the massive radio
masts which acted as a landmark for the road
leading to the sleepy town of Deal. Seconds after
52
                        81
Snow turned onto it, the Jaguar followed.
'So we're heading for Deal? Scott asked.
'We are. Have you been here before?
'Not since I was a kid. My father used to bring
me down to fish off the pier,' Scott reminisced.
'We didn't have two half-pennies to rub together
in
those days, so coming down here was like a
holiday.
I used to love the night fishing best. My first
catch was a 24lb cod. From then on I was hooked
on
fishing.'
'Don't you go fishing nowadays?' Snow asked.
'It's supposed to be relaxing they say.'
'I've had the odd afternoon on the upper reaches
of the Thames, but its not the same,' Scott
admitted. 'There's no chance of catching anything
big up there.'
'Maybe you'll get more time to come down here if
our bit of business gets underway. At least it
won't be for the lack of finances,'
Reaching across, Snow opened the glove
compartment to reveal a colt 45 automatic resting
on 4 packets of £50 notes, still in their bankers
plastic wrappers.
'Thats yours,' he continued 'and as a show of
good faith you can have it now. But let me give
you
a warning just in case you do happen to have any
reservations. To make this little jaunt worthwhile,
                        82
its a safe bet that Stoddart will be bringing in a
quantity of narcotics.'
Scott reached out for the bundles of notes.
Folding them double in his palm he flicked the
ends
like packs of playing cards.
'It took me a whole year of hard slog to earn
this much,' he said with a touch of bitterness. 'If
Stoddart, or anyone else is willing to pay me this
king of money for a couple of hours work, I don't
give a damn what they bring with them.'
'That's good thinking,' Snow smiled, 'and we
could improve on that considerably if you care to
put that brain of yours to work. My guess is that
53
this deal has opened a door in your mind that
needs
exploiting. I've a feeling that you're a natural
for this smuggling game.'
'You won't hear any complaints from me,' Scott
promised.
'Good. There's just one thing. Stoddart has all
the contacts and he going to be suspicious of
anyone not connected with the game coming up
with
ideas. I know how it is when you have a good
idea
buzzing around in your head. You get
enthusiastic
and you have to air your views. Thats natural. But
                        83
don't come on too strong with him. Where
possible,
let me do the talking.
'You're the boss,' Scott agreed.
Snow had been casting frequent glances in his
rear view mirror, and since the Jaguar's headlights
continued to shine through his rear window, Scott
guessed his suspicions. Although he did not
appear
to to worried, fearing that Haynes was having
them
followed and might compromise him, he asked
the
obvious, asking casually; 'Is there something back
there that I should know about?'
Snows gaze automatically glanced back to the
rear
view mirror again.
'It's the Jaguar you saw following me earlier
today. Rico Fernandez, thats Rodriguez's hatchet
man. He's keeping tabs on us.
After what I've been through during the past week
his distant companionship comes as no surprise.
Don't you worry about him. As far as tonights run
is concerned, I've taken care of every angle.
However, if if you come across him in the future,
shoot first and ask questions later. He's an
animal. If he thinks you know something he'd like
to know himself, he'll stop at nothing to get it
out of you. And when I say nothing, I mean
extraction of finger and toenails with pincers, and
                        84
the use of electrical chargers to your private
parts.'
'What in hells name have I let myself in for?'
54
'You're in the high risk business now,' Snow
warned. 'At a guess, I'd say your trip will consist
of 90 minutes outward bound and possibly a
couple
of hours on your return journey. At £10,000 a
throw, thats good wages. Maybe you'd better take
my
colt just in case. I have another taped under my
seat.'
'He took up the weapon with a certain amount of
awe, but when he felt it snuggled in his palm he
was surprised at the strength and security it
afforded.
'Have you ever used a firearm before?' Snow
asked.
'Yes, but not with thoughts of using then to
inflict injury on human beings. One of my
sponsors
in the early days is an international arms dealer.
'I went with him to a pistol club once and a rifle
range on another occasion.'
'Well I shouldn't worry about it to much, just
having it handy often gives enough of an air of
confidence to warm off the likes of Rico.'
'Lets hope so. When do I get to know the details
of tonights escapade? Scott inquired as they
entered the quiet seafront town of Deal.
                        85
'In about 10 minutes.' Snow assured, pulling into
the curb some distance from the pier. 'This is
where I leave you. There should be a boat waiting
for you behind the cafe at the end of the pier.
You'll be met by Andrew, a man in his 50's, who
has no right arm. He'll tell you all you need to
know and see you on your way. I'll stay here to
keep an eye on Rico and meet you on your return.
Have a safe trip.'
Once out of the car, Scott turned to see the dim
shape of the Jaguar parked several hundred yards
away. Patting his breast pocket to reassure
himself
that his fee was still there, he turned with head
bowed against the drizzle. Small dark eerie
silhouettes of fishing boats lining the deserted
pebble beaches, brought back memories of
happier
55
childhood days. On the pier a sadness swept over
him and crystal clear memories flooded back of
his
excitement as his father gave encouragement and
instructions when landing his first codfish.
'Any luck?' he found himself asking a shadowy
figure huddled in a hooded waterproof coat.
'Catch mackerel with a bent pin tonight,' came
his hushed reply. 'No sign of any cod though. To
warm I guess.'
'Maybe this change in the weather will bring them
inshore.' Scott encouraged. 'My old dad always
                       86
claimed, 'the dirtier the weather, the better the
catch.'
'Me too,' the stranger agreed. 'I only hope the
cod believe it.'
With a smile Scott moved on passing several
more
shadowy figures on his way to the cafe where
notice
banned fishing from the promenade deck
surrounding
it.
That area, being farthest from the shore and
having deep water, had always been a much
sought
after place to cast out from in bygone days.
Skirting the cafe, he emerged on the seaward side
to look down into the dark depths below.
'Looking for someone in particular?' asked a
gruff voice.
Scott turned. The cafe was understandably closed
with only a single low wattage bulb burning
within.
Menus and posters cluttered the windows,
blocking
out most of what little light escaped. The speaker
who stepped out from the shelter of a tall vending
machine remained little more that a silhouette.
'The names Scott,' he said holing out his hand.
The man stepped forward, his empty right sleeve
hanging.
                        87
'Andrew' he replied, but made no move to offer
his
left hand to complete their introduction. 'Who
sent
you?' he asked.
'A man called Snow. We were followed, so he
stayed in his car.'
56
Andrew nodded sullenly from within his hooded
waterproof as he moved toward the safety rail.
Ducking beneath it he scrambled through and
climb
down into his boat.
Scott followed and stood for a moment to look
around. Although the boat was obviously old, it
was
well kept, for the drizzle formed tiny globules on
the smooth shiny painted surfaces. 25 feet long, it
was completely open with a diesel engine situated
at the rear. In the center of the deck stood a
large object shrouded with a tarpaulin. Scott
guessed it was the ski-cycle.
'Is that my transport.' he inquired, nodding
towards it.
'It is.' Andrew grunted. 'If you're ready we'll
get moving. I'll take you out of sight of land and
tell you all you need to know. Let go of the
moorings while get the engine started.'
After tending the bow line, Scott moved to the
stern where a small rowing dingy trailed in the
deep shadows and he let the stern mooring go.
                        88
'Your wet suite is there.' Andrew indicated with
a nod at a bundle on the engine cover. 'There's a
watertight pannier on your machine for your
cloths.
When you get afloat, you follow the pathfinder
until you locate Mr Stoddart who has has a
beacon
signal. That will guide to him. When you reach
him
he will dump it and Mr Snow, who also has a
beacon,
will guide you baclk to where you need to go. Is
that clear?'
'It might be if I knew what a pathfinder was?'
'It's the circular dial on you instrument panel.
It picks up an illuminated signal. You just keep
that fore and aft and you'll get where your
supposed to be. Without that you wouldn't find
what
your looking for on a dirty night like this.
Visibility must be down to a 100 yards further
out.
Is that clear or have you got more questions?'
'I do have one. At a guess I'd say that the Skicycle
weighs in at around 3 hundred pounds. Just
57
how are we supposed to get it over the side?
'We don't.' Andrew scowled. 'We pull the plug
and
sink my boat, then you go on your merry way
while I
                         89
get myself back to shore in the skiff.'
'Is that what's bothering you, the sinking of
your boat?'
'Its been in my family since it was built before
the war. We were at the Dunkirk evacuations.
Lost
my arm there in this very boat when I was just a
lad. Now Stoddart says sink it. He thinks money
can
by everything, but it can't buy sentiment.'
'I'm sorry,' Scott apologized. 'I can't see me
getting it over the side into the water by myself,
but I'll give it go unless you've got any
suggestions.
'You must be a newcomer to Stoddarts
organization,' Andrew said, softening a little.
'We met just a few days ago.'
'Well, he's always treated me with respect and
paid well for my services. With what he's paying
me
for tonights gig I could buy a new boat to replace
this one, but we've come a long way together.
Seen
good times and bad, and you don't willingly
destroy
something like this old girl without feeling bad
about it. It strikes me as putting a good friend
down. I appreciate your offering though.'
A moody silence settled between them as they
chugged out to sea. When the bright lights along
the shoreline dwindled to mere misty glows in the
                        90
distance, Andrew cut the engine and walked to
where
Scott sat astride the ski-cycle facing the stern.
The sea was calm and the lazy drizzle lay over
the
water like a blanket.
'It's a smugglers night and thats a fact.' Andrew
observed 'You should have a good run on that
machine of yours. Say Hello to Stoddart for me
and
good luck. Best you get your engine started
before
I pull the plug.'
Scott pushed the stater button and the engine
fired into life before easing off to a steady
58
throb. After satisfying himself that the pathfinder
was working, Andrew stooped to unscrew the
plug in
the boats bilge. With seawater spouting like a
fountain, he walked to the stern and calmly
climbed
aboard the skiff. As the boat settled lower into
the water, Scott sat watching him.
He stood rigid at the skiffs stern with a single
oar, which he swung from side to side like a
veteran in order to get clear. Gradually the weight
of the launches heavy diesel engine dragged the
hull beneath the waves and Scott made his
departure.
Turning slowly, he scanned for shipping and with
                        91
the pathfinders signal aligned, before twisting the
hand grip throttle to boost power. Spray began to
whip upon either side as his speed increased,
leaving only a thin white line of turbulence to
mark his passing.
A minute later he had reached full power and
began swinging the machine to the right and left
in
order to asses its capabilities, just in case he
needed speed and maneuvers in order to avoid
trouble.
Satisfied, he resisted the impulse surging
through his veins and concentrated on other
waterborne traffic. Cross channel ferries, hover
craft, freighters and super tankers formed a
gauntlet, and where possible he headed for
undisturbed waters ahead of them rather than risk
forging a passage through the turbulence of their
wakes.
He became aware of a feeling of recklessness
which he'd often experienced before – although
now
the challenge was not others riders, but the need
to outwit the odds against him in his quest to
obtain a more distant goal. Only now did he
realize
that he had placed himself as piggy in the middle
with the law, whom he was supposed to be
helping on
the one side, and Stoddart on the other.
Neither he suspected, would offer a helping hand
                        92
59
if he should fall foul of the other unless he had
something of value to trade.
Once again he began to explore the possibilities
of making himself useful to botyh parties while at
the same time maneuvering towards his own
goals.
After a while he noticed the steady flow of
luminous dots passing across the pathfinders dial
had increased, forming a virtual solid line. This
he guessed, although he was still several miles
from the French coast, indicated that he was
closing in on his target. As a precaution he
slowed
down to concentrate on what lay ahead close at
hand. At sea level visibility was poor and with the
pathfinder's line now solid he became more
cautious.
Moving ahead at dead slow he picked out a brief
flicker of light that died instantly. He stopped.
Five seconds passed before it winked again and
was
followed by the sound of an out board motor from
the same direction. Guessing that it must be
Stoddart piloting the unlit craft he eased the
skicycle
forward with the Colt automatic at the ready.
The light winked again, giving him a precise
location on a dark shape approaching low in the
water. He identified it as a small inflatable craft
                        93
fitted with an outboard motor with a figure
huddled
at the rear, shrouded in a hooded waterproof.
Pocketing the colt he eased forward to make
contact. 'It's me Jame's Scott. 'He called.'
'Come along side bonny lad,' Stoddart called
back,
and as he did so, he shed his clumsy hooded
waterproof to reveal a black wet suit beneath.
From
his uncertain footing in the wobbly inflatable he
reached over to place a well wrapped package in
the
pannier before scrambling astride the cycle
behind
Scott. Almost as an afterthought, he held out the
small black box which had emitted the guiding
signal and threw it into the water close to the
drifting inflatable.
'Welcome to my organization bonny lad. Take me
60
home,' he ordered.
'I can take you back to where I started out from,
but I was under the impression that I would
receive
guidance and our destination would be different
from my departure point. We were followed
down to
Deal from London and I was told the path finder
that led me to you would receive another signal to
guide us back. Presumably to another location.'
                        94
'Just cruise back until in the direction you came
from until Snow starts sending another signal
bonny
lad. Stoddart advised.
'Don't you know our destination.'Scott asked.
'There are several places.' Stoddart explained.
'But since my key men are often under
subservience
by the 'old bill' or rivals, it's a case of playing
hide and seek. Snow is only one of several
waiting
for us. The others are decoys who will act if he
can't.
They now eased away from the inflatable and
after
a few minutes an engine began to drone above
that
of the ski-cycle. Being wary Scott turned to face
the oncoming engine noise.
'There's a helicopter out there somewhere,' he
warned. 'Judging by engine noise we should have
seen its lights by now, so it can't be the
coastguard or a passenger flight.'
'Get us the hell out of here fast!' Stoddart
ordered.
But Scott calculated the poor visibility coupled
with the fact they too showed no lights and
produced the minimum of noise, meant there
chances
of being spotted were negligible provided they
stayed stationery.
                        95
'No!' he argued. 'The whiteness of our wake will
be a dead give away and lead who ever it is to us
like a beacon. And they have more speed and
maneuverability than us.'
'The only way anyone could have located us is if
this machine of yours is bugged,' Stoddart rasped.
Retrieving a small compact machine pistol from
the
61
pannier he rested on Scott's shoulder. The blood
froze in his veins as he caught a glimpse of its
stubby barrel close to his cheek.
'Keep turned into the exhaust noise and we'll
meet them head on,' Stoddart ordered, dispelling
his fears that he was about to be shot out of hand
as a traitor.
The helicopter's dark, unlit wasp-like shape came
into view crossing their path as they faced the
French coast. Its flight path passed directly over
Stoddart's abandoned inflatable dingy some 50
yards
away, with its outboard motor looking very much
like a man huddled at the stern. Swooping low a
stream lethal machine gun fire set halo of light
over the dismal sea below. The craft shuddered
under the impact of bullets, that exploded the the
fuel tank. It lit up the scene, but Scott remained
quite still, guessing that the brilliance of the
explosion would impair the attackers vision as it
had his own.
'Don't shoot back,' he rasped over his shoulder.
                        96
'They haven't realized that we're here yet.'
The helicopter swung away but began to circle
back to confirm its kill as Scott slowly
maneuvered
to face the oncoming threat. Its occupants were
evidently not satisfied, leading Stoddart to
conclude that the ski-cycle had been tampered
with
and was emitting a signal which was being
monitored.
In desperation Scott drew the colt automatic and
held it steady at arms length. As the helicopter
approached dead ahead he whispered; 'Steady, we
present a much small target than them. And
unless
the helicopter itself is armed, they'll have to
come alongside before they can return fire.
Scott's outstretched arm remained rigid, with the
helicopter dead ahead. When it eventually veered
slightly at a distance of a hundred yards, he
started pulling the trigger as fast as he knew how.
In seconds the colt was empty but he knew the
62
bullets had struck home.
Stoddarts machine pistol chattered on. The
onslaught had obviously upset the aim of their
adversary from the doorway, because none of the
missiles came close. The helicopter whisked past
then suddenly nose dived into the sea where it
exploded with a brilliance that lit up the area.
With his stomach feeling like jelly and his whole
                        97
being trembling, Scott sat motionless and
immobile
with shock.
'You must have got the pilot,' Stoddart rasped.
'Me!' Scott croaked.
'At that range this machine pistol is little
better than a peashooter, but that colt of yours
would kill a man stone dead. Now we'd better get
the hell away from here before the coastguard
arrives to investigate how come the chopper
disappeared off of the radar screen.
Turning away from the wreckage, Scott looked
down
to find a steady signal pulsing across the
pathfinders dial. The sickness he felt over his
kill made him more cautious, and with Stoddart
watching over his shoulder, he steered a little off
course to avoid the cross channel hovercraft
heading for Dover. For a while they skirted the
coastline, then the signal directed them towards a
deserted beach where the lone figure of Snow
stood
waiting.
'Welcome home.' he greeted, offering his hand to
Stoddart as Scott beached the ski-cycle. 'Did you
have a good trip?
Ignoring these overtures, Stoddart swung clear of
the pillion seat to stand ankle deep in the water.
'We had unwanted company,' he scowled,
retrieving
the package he had stored in the pannier. 'Scott
                        98
here shot the hell out of the helicopter pilot and
they crashed. My guess is that this contraption
has
been bugged. If it's down to one of our own who's
responsible I want his head on a plate. In the
mean
time, leave it here. It may draw some more of the
63
scum bags to where we can dispose of them.
'I can't imagine how anyone could have possibly
got near it,' Snow confessed'
'It's to late to worry about the how of if,'
Stoddart shot back. 'Just root them out and take
care of it. In the mean time, get someone to keep
an eye on it to see if it attracts any undue
attention, then get rid of them too.'
With that he walked up the sloping beach, with
Snow obviously hurt by his attitude, walking by
his
side with head slightly bowed.
'Scott came up with some ideas that could be of
great value to us,' Snow ventured in hope of
recovering some of his admonishment.
'Oh he did, did he?. Stoddart scowled, giving
Scott a sideways glance. 'Well maybe we can talk
about them over a drink after we've changed.
Topping the rise they found before them a large
complex of mobile holiday homes, each being
some 50
feet long, with large picture windows facing the
sea.
                        99
Well maintained, they had small neat open plan
gardens and large concrete slabs that provided off
the road parking for one vehicle per unit. A few
lights burned behind curtained windows, casting a
little light on the otherwise unlit deserted road.
'Scott said you were followed down to Deal,'
Stoddart said breaking the silence.
'It was Rico,' Snow replied. 'I left him watching
my Porsche at the seafront. I'm certain it was
bugged. As far as I know he's still there.'
'Shame,' Stoddart mocked. 'How did you get
here?.
'I had the boy's stash a couple of cars a head of
us. The way things have been going lately I
allowed
for the fact that I might be followed by the 'old
bill' hoping I'd lead them to you. There's a Range
Rover waiting for you in the car park should you
decide to travel up to the city on your own.'
They entered one of the mobile homes in the first
row facing the sea. It was compact inside, with all
64
furnishings fitted when constructed. The floors
were carpeted, and all surfaces were easy to clean
polished wood, Formica or glass.
Stoddart, who obviously frequented in the past,
made directly for a cabinet where he placed the
package he had brought in from France. Then he
retrieved three glasses and a bottle of whiskey,
from which he poured without asking.
'Despite any misgivings over the nights traumas,'
                        100
he began, raising his glass, 'I do appreciate your
efforts in getting me safely back on home turf.
'Cheers!'
'As one they raised their glasses and drained
them, with Scott's face grimacing a little as the
tangy liquid burned a passage down to into the pit
of his stomach.
'Do you know what that is, bonny lad?' he asked
nodding at the package whilst he recharged his
glass.
The question took Scott by surprise because he
had no idea if Snow had told him that he would
use
the trip to import illegal contraband narcotics.
His jaw set as he lifted his shoulders to shrug
while looking belligerently at Snow for guidance.
'Well I'll tell you.' Stoddart continued before
he could answer, 'Then I'll explain why. That,'
began 'is cocaine. It weighs two and half kilo's.
Add that to my weight and we are talking about a
shade over 200lbs in all. And you my bonny lad
have
just ferried it, and me, across the channel for the
princely sum of £10.000. Have you any idea what
you
could have earned if you had brought in that same
total weight across instead of me?'
'Not a clue,' Scott answered nonchalantly.
'Nor I,' Stoddart admitted. 'But I'd reckon it
would be around about 5% cent of 10 million.
Much to his surprise, Scott just stood with the
                        101
hint of a smile teasing his eyes, while Stoddart
stood holding his gaze while waiting a few
seconds
for a reaction.
65
'Well!' he coaxed 'are you interested.
Scott remained calm. His earlier thoughts had
progressed to form a new strategy and a challenge
that could set him up for the rest of his life.
'For my money, you're not thinking big enough,'
he declared. 'Boost your consignment so that my
5%
becomes 5 million and I'll explain how to move it
across from Europe into Briton in one hit with the
minimum of risk.
'Christ!' Stoddart gasped. 'He's crazy. No body
has ever moved that much stuff without getting
caught.'
'And why?' Scott challenged. 'I'll tell. It's
because they don't think with fresh minds. They
try
to find new hiding places, but basically they still
use the same old means of to transport it. Private
yachts, planes, juggernauts, containers, and all
that crap are outdated.
Stoddart studied Scots face with disbelief
written all over his own. Snow, whose expression
remained bland, give no indication as to any prior
knowledge of the workings of Scott's mind. The
appeal of making more millions than he had ever
                        102
dreamed of were mingled with suspicion that he
was
being set up.
His thoughts race back and forth at the speed of
light trying to find a flaw. His first meeting in
Spain had given cause for concern but Snows
investigation had shown Scott to be nothing more
than he claimed to be. Picking up his whiskey
bottle he walked to the dining table and pulled out
a chair. Feeling hot and clammy in his wet suit,
he
dragged the zip fastener down to his navel.
'Pull up a chair and convince me? He invited.
'It's common knowledge that the biggest obstacle
in moving drugs in large quantities across the
channel is that all transports are prone to
searches by specialist customs with sniffer dogs
and excise officers. So why not have a yacht
leave
its port of departure with a consignment over on
66
the continent, then dump it at a predetermined
spot
before retuning to its home port, or any other for
that matter.
When it leaves port over there I pick up its
trail and follow some distance behind, retrieve the
contraband and then return to an home port over
here. So in effect, if either vessel has been
tracked by radar, neither one has actually met,
crossed the channel, or entered a foreign port.'
                        103
'In theory that sounds fine,' Stoddart Agreed.
'But it does seem a bit harum- scarum to just
dump
millions of pounds worth of goods over the side.
Half could be lost. Or have you given that aspect
some thought.
'Naturally. It's all in the packaging. The goods
are packed into purpose made buoys with homing
devices for easy location, and luminous grappling
hooks fitted to there tops for quick visual
sighting and speedy recovery from the water.
As a precaution I would suggest an easy to
operated plug, so the buoys could be sunk
instantly
should anything go wrong after the pick up. In
addition to that, if the you were concerned about
some of you rivals perloining the goods, they
could
be deposited on the sea bed off shore. The use of
homing bugs would allow retrieval at our
convenience at a later date.
Stoddart was impressed by the the simplicity of
the idea, despite the amount of preparation,
coordination
and finance required.
'For the millions involved, your idea does have a
certain appeal,' he admitted. 'What had you in
mind
for a retrieval craft? That won't be easily done
with out stopping.'
'A catamaran with a bar fitted low down between
                       104
the bows of the two hulls would be ideal for the
job. I could just run straight over the buoys so
they snag the catch bar, then haul them on board.
Weight wise, for easy handling I would suggest
something in the region of sixty to seventy
pounds
67
combine weight for each buoy, with a maximum
of two
dozen buoys. Naturally, if they are constructed
out
of lightweight plastic or alloy, it will allow more
for the cargo. I know where I can locate a 30ft
catamaran hull and it would be no problem for me
to
convert them'
'Naturally,' Stoddart agreed. 'So now tell me
about this other idea,'
'My first idea was inspired by something I saw in
a film about a commando raid. My second was
watching the German submarines trying to stop
the
convoys supplying Briton with vital supplies
during
the war. It'll cost millions to set up but I'm sure
you'll appreciate its genius. It involves using
torpedoes to transport the narcotics.'
'Jesus Christ!' Stoddart blurted, 'Where in
hell's name do you think we're going to get
torpedoes from, let alone the means to fire the
damn things.'
                        105
Snow had been puzzled over what the transport
might be, which had to be virtually undetectable,
since Scott had mentioned it on there trip to Deal.
But knowing Stoddart's ways and stubbornness,
and
seeing his reaction, he knew he would have to
speak
in order to get him to at least hear whatever
Scott's idea involved.
'Now just hold on,' he butted in, bringing
Stoddart up short. 'It's been just dandy for you
these past weeks living it up in Spain while I took
all the flack over this upheaval. At times like
this you should remember that I am basically
your
accountant and work for a percentage. And as far
as
that goes you can take my word for it, our days
are
numbered if you continue to run the business the
way it's run at the moment.
If you try to maintain your holdings and
enterprises as they stand the 'old bill' are going
to have a field day. They know as well as we do
that Rodriguez is behind all the recent troubles.
They also know that if a gang war erupts, a weak
68
link will come to light sooner or later, and then
where shall we be?.
If we try to eliminate Rodriguez, they'll be
chuffed at the thought of getting rid of one scum
                        106
bag. If you don't you're going to need an army to
protect your clubs, whore houses, sex shops,
massage parlors and video shops.
On top of that you can bet they'll get a man on
the inside, in which case they'll know what you're
thinking before you do.
If ever a golden opportunity got up and bit you
in the arse, this has got to be it. Even if you
just sell the coke you already have, you'd have
enough to finance Scott's first scheme without
using what you've got stashed away. On top of
that
you could make enough profit to set up a
legitimate
business in Spain.
If his second idea is only half as good and you
decide to go for it, the profits will keep us in
style for the rest of our lives.'
'You just do as I damn well tell you!' Stoddart
snarled angrily. 'I know that Diego bastard
Rodriguez is behind all our troubles and I'm
going
to nail his hide to the shit house wall if it's the
last thing I do. All our troubles will be over
then.'
'No they won't,' Snow fired back. 'That'll be
when your real troubles begin. I wouldn't be
surprised to learn that the 'old bill' are laying
in wait just hoping one of you will make such
move.
                        107
Then with one dead and the other banged up for
life
they'll have had a field day wrapping both
organizations up. Can't you just imagine them
reveling in the publicity and promotions!'
Even as Snow retaliated Stoddart's brain was
working. The property market over in Spain was
barely on the move and wide open to speculators
building holiday homes for rent and sale.
'That may be,' he argued, softening a little to
the idea as Snows warnings began to ring distant
69
bells 'but rather that than risk everything on a
crackpot idea like he's just suggested. Whoever
heard of using torpedoes to smuggle narcotics?
'Just the three of us so far,' Snow pointed out
with his own defiance cooling 'and that's why it's
at least worth a hearing. If you don't go for it
you've lost nothing. But I'll tell you this much;
Rodriguez would given the chance.'
'Are you threatening me!' Stoddart flared afresh.
'For Christ sake!' Snow retorted throwing his
arms up in exasperation. 'An ingenious idea has
been born and if you don't grab it with both
hands,
someone else is going to!'
'Unless you intend bumping me off to keep me
quiet,' Scott said boldly.'
Stoddarts angry glare immediately switched to
him, and, as he silently damned him for his
                       108
impudence, he realized they both had a strong
point
that could not be ignored.
'Okay bonny lad,' he sighed putting his hands up
in surrender. 'Lets hear what you have to say.'
Retrieving the package of cocaine from the
cocktail cabinet, Scott dumped it contemptuously
on
the table in front of Stoddart. 'That,' he said
coldly 'is all you need risk. If you manufacture
that into this new designer drug called 'crack' you
can treble your profits. Those profits will be
enough to finance my first idea. And the profits
from that will more than pay for my second idea,
'IF' you feel inclined to take a chance.'
'The last thing I need from you is a lesson in
finance,' Stoddart growled, 'just get on with it.'
The rebuff was not entirely unexpected, but it
rankled anyway. For a moment he was tempted to
walk
out leaving Stoddart to wonder about his ideas
and
the millions he might have made from it.
'I have a friend who is an international arms
dealer.' he began, 'Providing you're prepared to
meet his price, I see no problems about the supply
of torpedoes and the means to fire them. As for
the
70
type of torpedo, I would suggest using Marconi
Spearfish. They can travel at up to 60 knots and
                        109
have a range of 29 miles.
Each warhead carries a payload of 249 or 550lbs
of high explosives. I don't know how explosives
compare with narcotics by way of weight for
weight,
but I think they would be much the same. Apart
from
its carrying capability, the Spearfish is wire
guided, so they can be precisely directed. And
being powered by gas turbine engines, they can
be
refueled for re-use.
To take this one step further, imagine having a
couple of those tankers used to refuel and
replenish water supplies of big ships before
sailing. You must have seen them at sometime.
When
loaded their decks would have been awash to a
point
you'd think they would sink.
Imagine having two of of those, one on each side
of the channel, converted to house the torpedo
firing mechanisms.
They could be fitted out with compression
chambers. That would allow divers to leave
undetected in order to bring the torpedoes loaded
with narcotics on board. Using one over in France
to send the stuff, you could use the one on this
side to get your cash back out where you could
invest it abroad.'
Stoddart hated to admit it after his violent
                       110
rebuttal, but he was taken by Scots ideas. He
pictured such events as Scott envisaged in his
mind
and wondered. Would a torpedoes capacity to
carry a
550lb payload, also have the capacity to transport
a human being such as himself, to and fro without
detection.
'How much do you think such an operation like
that would cost to set up? He asked.
'Its been a couple of years since I heard mention
of a price of this particular torpedo. At the time
they were 4 million a piece. Suitable boats for
conversion are cheap. There are dozens moored
up
71
rotting these days for the lack of work.'
'I must be getting to old and out of touch with
you modern yuppies,' Stoddart confessed. 'My
apologies to you both for my outbursts'
'No worries,' Snow said. 'Lets put it down to the
pressures of office. Things have been real tough
just lately.'
'Does that mean a yes?' Scott inquired.
'It does bonny lad.' turning to Snow. 'I want you
to go back to London and start selling off all my
properties and preparing to shut down all my
operations there. I'll be staying here for a while
to tidy up one or two loose ends and get my
contacts in Spain geared up to supply our
requirements, such the buoys, the cocaine and
                       111
transport necessary for the drop off. Try to keep
your dealings on a low profile basis and transfer
all my cash out to Spain.
'As for you bonny lad.' He continued. 'I want you
to prepare this end for the first stage of this
scheme of yours to use buoys for transporting
cocaine. If you need cash to purchase equipment,
Snow will provide it.
In the mean time, I'd appreciate you contacting
your friend concerning the supply of torpedoes
and
the mechanism required for firing them. Any
question before we part company?.'
'Not at the moment,'Scott assured.
'Me neither,' Snow agreed.
'Good.' Stoddart sighed standing up. 'I have some
serious thinking to do, and I do that best while
taking a stroll. Get yourselves back to London
and
keep in touch.'
Leaving Scott filled with anticipation over their
prospective venture and Snow not daring to guess
what was actually going on in his mind, Stoddart
left, carrying his machine pistol, still wearing
his wet suit.
Outside the holiday home he stood in the
shadows
to see if there was anyone else abroad. The
drizzle
72
still persisted and the only sounds were the
                       112
muffled voices coming from inside. Keeping low,
he
darted crab-wise to the brow of the sand dunes
overlooking the sea where he lay completely flat.
Through the gloom he saw two dark silhouetted
figures inspecting the small dark shape of the
skicycle
at the waters edge, confirming his suspicions
that it had been bugged. The murmuring of voices
mingled with the gently lapping waves and the
squelching of feet in sodden shoes carried to him
on the light breeze as he waited, wondering who
the
traitor had been.
After a fruitless search of the machine, the two
figures turned towards him and began to follow
the
footprints left in the sand by himself, Snow and
Scott.
He cocked the machine pistol and waited. When
they were a dozen feet away, he whispered
hoarsely.
'Hold it right there.'
They stopped, barely able to see him over the
ridge. Recognizing Stoddarts tanned face, they
froze instantly and remained hoping that despite
the lateness of the hour and the foul weather,
some
innocent might happen along to break his hold
over
them.
                       113
'Who are you and what do you want?' one
ventured,
while the other butted in.
'Are you hurt' he asked while leaning forward a
little as though to get a closer look.
In the process of hopefully causing a distraction
the latter's hand tried to retrieve a hand gun
inserted in the waistband of his trousers, but his
buttoned coat hampered his effort to reach it.
Stoddart let loose with a short burst from his
machine pistol as a warning and the culprit
reluctantly put his his up.
'We all know who we are and why you're here. So
you can cut the crap.' Stoddart warned. 'You work
for that Diego bastard Rodriguez and he sent you
here to get me. What I want to know is the name
of
73
the informer in my organization?'
'We don't know what you're talking about mister.'
declared one of the shadowy figures. 'We're from
the holiday camp and came for the night fishing.
My
name is Maxfield. Look, I'll show you my drivers
license,' he offered reaching into his coat.
The flat crack of a single shot stayed his hand.
'Drop your weapons pronto or I'll cut you both in
two where you stand.' Stoddart warned 'Better
still
strip and drop your tog's on the sand. One wrong
move and it'll be your last.'
                       114
They complied, knowing that even if they could
draw their weapons, the chances of hitting
Stoddart
before he gunned them down were remote.
'Now take ten paces backward,' he ordered,
swinging his body parallel to the shore line before
sliding down to where the two piles of cloths lay.
'Well now,' he mocked, retrieving a browning
automatic fitted with a silencer. 'I've heard of
shooting fish in a barrel, but never by fishermen.'
At that point he stood up. 'As I was saying, all I
want is the name of the informer?'
'We don't know,' pleaded one man. 'Our orders
were just to locate you and inform the police of
your where-abouts so you'd get arrested. We don't
know anything about any informers'
'Well now, thats a crying shame,' Stoddart
mocked, 'Maybe we should take a closer look at
that
ski-cycle contraption. Start walking!' he ordered
waggling their silenced automatic .
Shivering for fear as much as the cold, they
turned toward the waters edge and stand ankle
deep
in the sea beside the machine.
'Have you ever ridden one of those contraptions?'
He asked. 'It's quite an experience. Get on and
start the engine.'
They did as ordered and after some difficulty
managed to start the engine.
'It distresses me to think of your embarrassment
                        115
at being found naked on that thing,' Stoddart
74
continued, 'But since you don't seem to have
anything to bargain with, I don't feel obliged to
do you any favors. France is that way,' he
indicated using the Browning as a pointer.
'If you ever get to see Rodriguez again, tell him
that I said to keep looking over his shoulder,
because one of these dark nights I'm going to be
standing there. Now take it real slow and easy
when
you pull away, because in my nervous state I
might
take fright and do something silly.'
Hardly believing they were to be set free, the
two men edged backward awkwardly, using their
feet
to steady the machine until it became buoyant. As
they slowly turned seaward and set off heading
toward France, Stoddart waded into the shallows
until he stood directly behind them.
With the cold sea lapping about his mid-rift he
raised the Browning, sighted it on the back of the
pillion riders head and pulled the trigger. His
head jerked, sagging forward onto his partners
shoulder, giving him a clear shoot at the driver.
When the Browning spat again he too sagged
over the
handle bars and the machine slowly trundled on.
'Do unto those as they would do unto you, bonny
lads,' he mumbled. 'Only do it first.'
                       116
Chapter 4
It was midday before Scott finally gave up and
climbed out of bed. The events of the past 24
hours
intruded constantly into his peace of mind,
reminding him of things he must do in the days to
come.
In an effort to sting his aching body back into
physical awareness, and shock the relentless
nagging of his brain into some sort of order, he
languished in the cold shower until he shivered.
After toweling himself vigorously, he dressed and
sat by the telephone with a large glass of orange
juice.
75
'I'd like to speak to Chief Superintendent Haynes
please.'
'He's very busy, who shall I say is calling?' a
female receptionist inquired.
Mr James Scott. I'm inquiring as to whether any
progress has been made regarding the burglary of
my
business premises.'
'Haynes here,' his familiar voice intervened.
'What have you got for me?'
'I did what I was supposed to do. I left Stoddart
at the Green Acre holiday homes down on the
south
coast. It's a seaside holiday camp located just
outside Folkestone.'
'That sounds about right,' Haynes remarked. 'It's
                       117
one of his legitimate sidelines. What else have
you
got? Did he discuss any future plans in your
company and did he mention any names or
contacts?'
'None that I can think of. Was there anyone in
particular you were hoping to hear about?'
'Frederick Von Lichenburg, a Frenchman. His
mother was French and father German, and he's
the
man we're after.'
'Is he the drug baron you indicated was involved
in the deaths of my farther and brother?'
'Thats the one. Although to call him a baron
would be belittling. He's one of the king pins of
the whole damn slag heap.'
'In that case I might have something that may be
of interest to you. I'm talking about a couple of
deals. One involves something like a thousand
pounds in weight of cocaine or heroin. The
second
may well involve an unlimited tonnage. And I'll
lay
odds that you'll never catch on to its means of
getting it across the Channel without my help.'
'Do I detect a note of self interest in your
tone?' Haynes accused.
'Let's just say that I might have something to
trade. First I want the names of anyone
responsible
for the deaths of my kinfolk. Then I want my
                       118
insurance claim processed and settled in full with
76
immediate effect. On top of that I want all parties
concerned to give me a clean rap sheet so any
future claim won't cause me any problems. I'm
sure
a man of your means could pull a few strings that
would result in the full settlement of my claim
and
in my receiving a check in the morning post.'
'Thats an awful lot of assumption,' Haynes
growled.
'In addition to that,' Scott continued. 'I want
something in writing from you that will give me
complete immunity should I get caught breaking
the
law during my dealings with you. Smuggling
drugs
included, or anything else that may be unforeseen
at this time.'
'I think you're over estimating my authority and
the powers that go with it.' Haynes replied after a
moments thought. 'You lay some hard facts on
me and
I'll talk to my superiors with the view to
enlisting you into the force as my undercover
agent. That would give you a certain amount of
immunity. But there is no way that I can divulge
the names of the people you seek. If anything
untoward happened to them it would reflect badly
on
                        119
the force and I would certainly loose my job.
As for your insurance claim. Well, I can only
send in my report and then it's up to the company
to decide when, or if, a payment will be made. No
doubt they would be much more sympathetic to
your
case if they were informed that you had
collaborated with us in bringing these other
villains to justice.
Scott's ego crashed the floor. He'd been so sure
that Haynes would leap at the at the proposition.
If he told him all knew that ought to have
convinced him. But then he would have had
nothing
to bargain with if Haynes turned out to be using
him like Stoddart.
'I suppose that as an undercover agent, any
payment due during the course of performing my
duties, would also be forfeit?' he speculated,
77
hoping to use that as an easy get-out.
'I'm afraid so,' Haynes agreed. 'Those kind of
perks are definitely not allowed.'
Holding the proceeds of his nights work hand,
Scott bent them double and let them flick open
again and thought 'A bird in the hand is worth
two
in the bush'.
'When I think I've got something that you agree
is worth trading for what I want in return, I'll
give you a call.'
                       120
'You do that,' Haynes agreed, thinking that he
held all the high cards. 'Are you expecting to see
Stoddart again?'
'He said he'd be in touch, but then again he
might not bother now that he's got what he
wanted
from me.'
'I don't think you need worry about that. Your
little jaunt across the Channel must have been a
real winner for him. If I'm any judge he'll be
thinking that the two kilo's you brought in could
just as easily have been two hundred. When he
gets
into that league we'll both get what we're after.
You just make sure that you're available when he
calls and give me a call.'
'Like I said, I want that name, or names, so
badly I can taste them.' Scott declared with
conviction. Then still holding the bank notes, he
stabbed at the telephones rest to disconnect the
call.
His directory of address's and co-responding
telephone numbers had been stolen along with all
his other possessions, but one number always
remained uppermost in his mind.
After a moments thought he pressed the digits of
Spiro Dieger's New York penthouse. Within
seconds
the single ring tone began to sound. He waited
with
                       121
baited breath hoping his friend and former
sponsor
would be available, rather than at some far flung
Arab outpost selling his wares.
'Hello?' answered his well spoken familiar voice.
78
'Hello, it's James Scott in London.'
'In or from,'Spiro inquired, with an undisguised
yawn
'My apologies if I woke you up. To be honest I
didn't dare hope that I'd catch you at home.'
'I flew in late last night,' Spiro confessed,
'and I planned on sleeping late. 'Did you forget
the time difference?' He drawled.
'To be honest, no. I'm afraid it's a case of
necessity dictating the situation. I have a problem
that only you can help me with.
'Well a statement like that doesn't sound like
you need my sponsorship,' Spiro observed.
'Anyway,
the last time I saw you, you were doing well.
While I'm on the subject, your ski-cycles
provoked a good deal of interest with the Israelis.
They plan to equip a commando type unit with
them.
Some modifications will be required to soup up
the
engines as far as you're concerned, while I see to
the modifications to the frameworks so they can
accommodated machine guns and rocket
launchers.
                        122
I'll be coming over soon, so we can work on it
then.'
'Getting a contract from them sounds like quite
prestigious challenge.' Scott observed.
'Thats settled then. Now whats your problem?'
'It's a long story and I need your help.'
'Fire away, I'm all ears.'
'My problem started when I went Spain for a
holiday a couple of weeks ago to research the
prospects of relocating my business out there. I
had a bit of a mishap while hang-gliding and
managed to land in the swimming pool of a
luxury
villa own by a man named Max Stoddart.
He turned out to be a fugitive gangland boss who
desperately wanted to get back to London without
getting caught, although I didn't know that at the
time.
We talked about my business and the ski-cycle
racing and he immediately saw it as a means of
79
sneaking back across the channel. At the time he
didn't ask me to ferry him across. I can only
assume that he wasn't prepared to take the chance
of my refusing. So to make sure that I didn't, he
had some of his henchmen strip me of everything
I
owned before I got home. Then he made me an
offer
through a man called Tony Snow, who was
running his
                       123
business while he was in exile.
What they didn't know was that the police had
Stoddart's villa bugged, and they knew
everything.'
'Nasty,' grunted Spiro.
'You haven't heard anything yet,' Scot assured.
'A detective from the serious crime squad, called
Haynes, obviously knew all about my being
robbed
and used it to make contact with me. At the
moment
he's holding the robbery of my own stuff over my
head as a possible fraudulent insurance claim.'
'Doesn't it make you wonder who the criminals
are,' Spiro injected.
'Doesn't it though,' Scott agreed. 'Anyway,
Haynes wasn't, or isn't-interested in Stoddart as
such. Primarily he's after a man called Frederic
Von Lichenburg, who lives in France and is
apparently the big boss supplying all and sundry
with narcotics.
As far as Haynes is concerned, my part was to
bring Stoddart, who was transporting 2 kilos of
cocaine valued at street level at ten million-over
into the country. I was paid £10,000 for my
trouble.'
'Ah!' The thin edge of the wedge Spiro sighed,
'The next step is for you to bring a mans body
weight of narcotic in using your ski-cycle,
leaving
Stoddart the to make a fortune while at the same
                       124
time affording Haynes the opportunity to bag
Lichenburg.'
'That's about it, but I got carried away and put
forward two more suggestions. The first, which I
can handle involves moving a possible thousand
pounds in weight. The second idea, which is
where I
80
hope you'll help me, has unlimited possibilities.
But I hasten to add, will never get off the ground.
Or at least that is not my intention.'
'Now You've lost me,' Spiro admitted, as the
multitude of dollars per once of narcotics began
to
total into ten's of millions in his mind. 'Have you
joined forces with the authorities on this?'
'No chance. From my experience they're no better
than Stoddart, and Haynes. He knows the identity
of
the people who caused the accident in which my
father and brother were killed, and their names
are
the price he's offering if he catches Lichenburg.
What he doesn't realize is that he's made a
mistake
by telling me that if I stay close to Stoddart I'll
eventually meet him any way.'
'But will you know him when you do?'
'You can put money on it.'
'Maybe I will,' Spiro said thoughtfully. 'Tell me
about this problem that involves me?'
                        125
'Did you ever do business with anyone who gave
you the feeling that they'd or drop you in deep
end
once you'd served their purpose?'. Scott asked.
'All to often. Usually after I've delivered the
goods, but before I've been paid.'
'Well I've got that feeling about Stoddart and
Haynes, and thats the reasoning behind my
involving
you. It's a little something to ensure me
livelihood if Haynes fails to nail Stoddart and
Von
Lichenburg on my next run.
'Forgive my idle curiosity,' Spiro asked casually
'but how are you expecting to get paid for this
run.'
Ten per cent of it's street value. All I have to
is stay alive to collect it.'
'Christ! You could retire to a live of luxury on
those kind of wages. Maybe you should forget
your
grievances and take your money and run. Settling
old scores won't bring your family back.'
'I know, it's just one of those things I have to
do. Since Haynes re-awakened the memory I can't
81
think of anything else.'
'I can understand that I guess. Carry on.'
'Well the biggest problem with narcotics is
getting them across the English channel. I've
                       126
suggested to Stoddart that instead of bringing
them
over the water, he should think in terms of using
torpedoes to carry them beneath. And that's where
you come in.
'That's brilliant!' Spiro exclaimed. 'How did he
respond?'
'Not very well at first, but now he's all for it.
What I'd like you to do is to go through the
motions of selling him the torpedoes and
necessary
equipment to launch them.'
'No problem. What kind of vessels had you in
mind?
'I suggested converting a couple of small river
refueling tankers. There are plenty of those lying
idle here since the river traffic has decreased
through mechanization and use of containers in
the
docks.
They always sit low in the water when loaded and
wouldn't attract attention. If we have one on each
side of the channel. The torpedoes and the tubes
could be housed in one of there bunkering tanks.
If
another could be utilized as compression
chamber,
it would allow divers to bring the incoming
torpedoes on board with out being seen. And
since I
                       127
suggested using wire guided systems retrieving
them
should be a piece of cake.
'And you don't want this to happen? Spiro asked.
'No. All I want to do is keep the patter and
promises going for a couple of weeks.'
'Glad to be of service,' Spiro agreed. 'You can
give Stoddart this number. There's always
someone
here to answer in the mornings. If not me, then
one
of my secretary‟s or the cleaning lady. I always
leave them instructions as to where I can be
contacted.'
'Thanks a million,' Scott sighed. 'I'll cut you
82
in for ten per cent of whatever I get out of my
dealings.'
'That won't be necessary. I'll settle for a box
of my favorite Havana cigars and a case of
bubbly.
Can I get in touch with you at your shop or have
you moved?.
'I'm staying at a friends flat at the moment, but
I'll have to move back in order to get ready for
this next job. Apart from that I expect Haynes
will
decide to have me watched. He might just think
that
putting me away would be better than nothing.
From
                       128
what I can make of things these days, all the
police care about is their tally of arrests and
prosecutions at the end of the week. I'll give you
a call in a few days.'
Replacing the receiver Scott walked to the
window. The streets were busy, but no more the
usual. No one sat in the parked cars lining the
curb sides, nor did anyone lurk suspiciously
where
they might observe him if he left the building.
Yet
somehow he felt a dark foreboding cloud looming
in
the distance threatening to shed it's deluge over
him.
Feeling morose he decided to move and retrieved
his money before making for the door. Turning to
take a last look around he muttered. 'I must be
getting paranoid.'
Outside, as the afternoon sun beat down, the
feeling of being observed persisted. In an effort
to allay these fears, he kept glancing behind or
stopped to glance in a shop window in order to
survey the crowded pavements and traffic choked
road.
At last, turning to face the oncoming traffic, he
hailed a taxi. 'The Hope and Anchor, Woolwich,'
ordered the driver, handing the driver a £50
pound
note. 'Keep your eyes open for anyone following
and
                       129
the change is yours.'
'My pleasure,' the young driver replied. 'If I
spot someone, do you want me to loose them or
head
83
for somewhere else?'
'Both.' Scot answered.
The cab swung out into the traffic and the
drivers eyes continually monitored the slow
moving
vehicles behind. Then after a few minutes he
volunteered. 'It's hard to tell, I'll make a couple
of detours and see what happens.'
'That's fine by me,' Scott agreed.
The driver took a left turn away from the most
direct route to his destination. 'I meet all kinds
of people in this business. What's your line, if
it's not to personal?.'
'I was in the water sports business until some
villains scuppered me. Now I'm on the dole now
and
looking.'
'For what. A job or the villains?'
'The villains,' Scott admitted eying the no
smoking sticker on the dashboard. 'Do you mind
if I
smoke.'
'You go ahead, it doesn't bother me. It's the
fares coming after who complain. I've got a can
of
aerosol for the smell. Did you loose much?'
                        130
'Fifty thousand in stock and the same in personal
belongings. That included a house boat I was
renovating.'
'Christ! 'No luck with the 'old bill' I suppose?'
'No,' Scott admitted.
'I don't know why the likes of us bother with
them. When I got mugged for my takings by a
fare
they didn't seem to care.
At the end of the day me and a few other Cabbies
went looking for him and located the bugger. If
he
does anymore mugging he sure as hell won't be
doing
any running. We stomped his legs and left him
like
a heard of cows had trampled over him.
'Maybe I'll get lucky too,' Scott speculated.
'You never know,' the driver agreed. 'If you'll
take some good advice, don't inform the 'old bill'.
They'll just as soon lock you up for doing what
they're paid to do. Had any luck with you
insurance
84
claim yet?'
'Sure,' Scott said cynically. 'From what I can
make of it, they're trying to pin it on me.'
'No disrespect, but there's plenty of that going
on these days. „Stock disappears and the premises
go up in flames to cover it up.'
'At least I was spared that. My place was left
                        131
intact.'
'Can't say I've clocked anyone following,' The
driver ventured.
'Keep looking.‟ Scott said
Half an hour later, the taxi pulled into the
kerbside and he alighted. Far to his right he could
see his premises, but closer lay a small boating
and yachting business owned by a friend. The
main
building was two stories high, its first floor,
like his own, had been converted into living
quarters with store rooms for yachting
accessories.
The ground floor also had a store room, but was
mainly dedicated to workshops and a trade
counter.
To the rear lay a solid concrete wharf and slipway
where small craft could be hauled ashore for
maintenance. A multitude of small craft for sale
were also moored nearby in the murky water of
the
river Thames.
Feeling like a fugitive from the law, he made his
way down the wide entrance to the rear of the
building where the trade counter was situated.
With
eyes alert for any sign of Haynes' colleagues he
reached the waterfront where he immediately
looked
for a particular craft that appeared derelict.
'Hello there sailor!,' called a familiar voice,
                        132
and he turned to see his friend standing on the
open wheelhouse deck of a sea-angling boat.
'Hello. Charlie,' he called back and was soon
climbing the narrow gangway.
'I thought you'd be living it up in Spain on the
insurance money by now,' Charlie smiled offering
his hand.
'You and quite a few more,' Scott assured.
85
'Sorry, I guess that must be a sore point. How
are you doing anyway?' Charlie inquired.
'Bearing up under the strain I reckon.'
'That sounds like you know who, but the law can't
touch them?' Charlie speculated.
'It's a long story which I'll tell you about over
a couple of pints sometime. Right now I need
some
gear which I'll pay for in cash – and maybe a
little help.'
'Name it and it's your‟s for the taking,' Charlie
agreed 'If you can't see what you want, I'll damn
soon get hold of it for you.'
'The twin hulls of that old catamaran will do for
a start. Whats the asking price? I'll pay cash and
I don't want any receipts.'
Charlie glanced over at the 30ft long hulls.
'They ain't worth much. How does a Grand sound
to
you?'
'Done! Next I want three powerful 10000cc
                       133
Hercules outboard motors with full tanks and
about
50 gallons in jerry cans.'
'That thing was built to sail not fly,' Charlie
observed.
'How much?' Scott persisted.
'The engines will cost you a thousand a piece,
and I'll throw in the petrol.'
'Done! Next I want a couple of industrial
fiberglass repair kits and a length of steel tube.
A 10-ft scaffold tube would be ideal.'
'No problem. Anything else?' Charlie inquired.
'That's fine. Now apart from a few tools and the
use of your telephone, all I need is a place to
stay until it gets dark. Then I'll nip over to my
place where I can work undercover in the boat
dock.'
'You can stay on board here or over at my place,'
Charlie offered. 'I'll get your gear and stow it on
board the 'cat hulls' so it'll be ready to move
when you are. Is there anything else?'
'I'd appreciate you keeping an eye open for
86
anyone suspicious poking around. My telephones
are
still working so you can ring through or come
over
to the back entrance and give me a knock.'
'Do you want to settle up now or come over to the
office?'
'I'll need to come over to the office to use your
                        134
telephone.' Scott pointed out.
Charlie's hand went straight to the the belt of
his boiler suite. 'Damn!' he muttered 'I got myself
one of those portable things for when I'm working
out here, but I keep leaving it all over the
place.'
After ducking back inside the wheelhouse to find
it, he returned to find Scott had his money ready.
As he checked it Scott dialed Snow's number.
'I'll be getting your gear together. If there's
anything else you need, use that phone. Just dial
my old number with a nine up front.' Charlie said.
'A good waterproof sleeping bad and maybe
something to eat and drink wouldn't go amiss.'
Scott called after him. Then turned his attention
to Snow. 'It's Scott, have you got a piece of paper
handy?
'Sure,'
'The name of the man to contact about the
torpedoes is Spiro Dieger. He lives in New York
and
can be contacted on a number I'll give if you've
got pen and paper handy. Preferably make
morning
calls, but allow for the time difference. I've
already spoken to him so he's expecting to be
contacted by you or Stoddart.
'I'll let Stoddart deal with that.' Snow said.
'How are things progressing with this other
project?'
'I'll be starting on the boat in a couple of
                        135
hours and should have it ready by morning. From
then on it's all down to you.'
'Where are you?' Snow inquired
'As soon as its dark I'll be going to my business
premises. I should be safe from prying eyes there
87
while I work on my transport. If you need to call
me you can use the Telephone. I'll take the one
from my office and plug it in the boat shed. If you
need to see me down here, I'd advise you come
by
boat.'
'Why all the cloak and dagger stuff? Snow asked.
'Nobodies looking for you are they?'
Realizing that Snow was unaware of the intrigue
surrounding him, and thus the danger, he
explained.
'The police seem to think there's a possibility
that I faked the robbery and sold all my gear, and
am now trying to double my money by making a
false
insurance claim. If I'm they are having me
watched
and see you visiting me and relate that to your
working for Stoddart, the whole bunch of us will
be
put under surveillance before you can bat an eye
lid.'
'O.K' Snow agreed. 'Stoddart is keeping on the
move so I can only contact him by cell phone. I'm
expecting a call any time now. I'll pass on your
                        136
information and get back to you. For the sake of
asking, when do you reckon you'll be ready?. He's
bound to ask.'
'I'll be working all through the night getting my
transport ready. So I'll be ready for the off by
tomorrow night unless I hit any snags.'
'Christ, that soon. Let‟s hope Stoddart has got
his finger out and progressed to match you.'
Scott watched as Charlie's helpers hoisted the
twin catamaran hulls from the quayside by crane
and
lowered them into the water, then fit the three
outboard motors two the rear of the deck
spanning
between. Keeping a low profile Scott sat down
inside the cabin leaving Charlie and his hired help
to take care of his needs. Suddenly he felt tired
and heavy eyed, so feeling reasonably safe he
allowed himself to dose.
An hour later the boat rocked gently, bringing
him back to a state of semi-consciousness, with
the
smell of food teasing his nostrils.
88
'It's only tinned Scotch Broth,' Charlie said
'but It'll keep you going for a while.'
'Smells like heaven,' Scott beamed, taking the
shiny brown dish. 'its just what the doctor
ordered.
'I was talking to Fred. He's my helper come store
man. He tells me that there was a couple of city
                        137
gents nosing around yesterday asking question
about
you. All he could say was that he knew you by
sight
and what you did for a living. He thought they
might be from the insurance company, or the 'old
bill' making inquiries.'
'Thanks Charlie. Maybe I'll be able to return
your favors some day.'
'Huh! Lets hope I don't need them. I chucked a
few extra things I thought you might need, just in
case. Fred will be going soon and it'll be dark in
about an hour. I'll leave my dogs out and the yard
lights off till later.'
The broth satisfied his hunger and sent a warm
glow radiating from his stomach to chase away
the
chills brought on by his inactivity. When
darkness
came, he boarded the catamaran and started one
of
the outboard motors.
The river traffic was light and with nothing
moving in the shadows, his only enemy seemed
to be
the moon casting its bright glow from a clear sky
onto the rippling water.
He boarded the catamaran and moving slowly, he
kept the engine noise to to a minimum until
reaching the large 30ft high rear roller door of
                       138
the docking well of his premises. Pulling
alongside
he operated the hidden outer electric controls of
the outer door. As it rolled upward he
maneuvered
to come about stern first into the docking area.
Cutting the engine, he grabbed a mooring line and
jumped ashore to make fast before closing the
door
again. A minute later the deep hollow rumbling
stopped with an ominous hollow clang that
echoed in
his brain long after it had died away.
89
Fearing Haynes might have taken the precaution
of
posting a man outside, he padded through the
gloomy
interior to what had once been his showrooms at
the
front. A single ray of light penetrated through the
glass which had been sprayed with black paint by
the thieves to hide their activities from the
public, which now served to give him the same
protection.
Seeing nothing suspicious he turned to survey all
that remained of his former livelihood. The floor
was strewn with glossy literature. Life sized
posters still hung on the walls, bringing back
memories of happier times before meeting
Stoddart
                        139
and entering the topsy-turvy world of intrigue,
death and paranoia.
With a bitter taste in his mouth he turned to his
office and scooped a telephone up from the floor.
The only other item to remain was the heavy safe.
He had thought that at least would have been
secure, but now it stood empty with its door
yawning.
As he closed the door between the showroom and
the boathouse, returning the way he had come, a
loose floorboard creaked, reminding of one of
those
irritating jobs he promised to fix a thousand
times, but never actually got round to doing. With
his back to the door he tried to visualize the
scene before the thieves had struck.
The balcony on which he stood was 15ft above
the
'U' shaped concrete dock and the water 3ft bellow
that. Directly ahead was a guard rail made to look
like a ships bridge.
It spanned 15ft to either side. The highly
polished wooden helm stood proudly between
two
gleaming brass telegraphs. At either end wide
steps
with ranch style hand rails led down to the dock.
The walls between the storage shelves and
benches
were brightened by large, hand painted murals of
water sports scenes. More activities, such as hot
                       140
air ballooning, hang gliding, and microlight
flying
90
were depicted on the arched upper corrugated
slopes
of the roof.
With a deep sigh of frustration he thought of the
many hours he had spent trying to make the place
look attractive to encourage talk about his
business.
'You've got a lot to answer for.' he mumbled as
his thoughts returned to Stoddart.
More from anger than necessity he began to work
on the catamaran and was soon cursing Stoddart
and
his henchmen afresh for taking his tools.
Charlie in his wisdom, had packed jigsaw, a
hacksaw with extra blades, a hammer and bolster
type chisel along with a fiberglass repair kit and
of all things an industrial size tube of supper
glue. Even the food he packed gave an insight
into
the lonely bachelor life that he lived.
After cutting two holes above the waterline with
the jigsaw, he fitted the catch bar between the two
hulls and roughed out the the first stage of
making
good with the fiberglass kit.
His next task caused him to ponder before
starting. Casting his eye at the twin hulls, he had
thought about cutting circular holes in there tops
                        141
so he could set the buoys in like eggs in an egg
box. But since he had not dictated their girth
measurement, this did not seem a good idea. If
the
hole proved to be to big, water could penetrate in
rough seas. And if they proved to be to small the
buoys might prove to be at risk of being washed
overboard.
Bearing this problem in mind he cast his eye on
the platform spanning the two hulls. Even with
the
expected two dozen buoys, he calculated there
would
still be plenty of room to accommodate his
activities if he cut holes in that. All that was
required, was for him to secure a large fishing net
spanning the deck to keep them from falling
through.
Fortunately, the robbers had not foreseen their
91
usefulness and left them where hung part of the
decor. So after measuring and marking out, he
spent
several hours cutting the orifices and fixing the
netting over the top to stop them falling back into
the sea. By this time he was sweating profusely
and
dreaming of a frosted pint of ice cold lager in the
Hope and Anchor.
Taking the time to eat and have a leisurely
                        142
smoke, he added another grievance to his
growing
list of reasons to hate Stoddart and his henchmen.
They had even taken his stove, so he had to eat
his
beans cold straight out of the tin.
As for Haynes, he convinced himself that he was
being to clever for his own good. Either he had
picked up Stoddart's trail and was having him
watched in order to catch Lichenburg. Or he had
Lichenburg under surveillance through interpol
and
would close in to make the arrests from that end.
From there he envisaged a follow through that
would
ensnare the sources of supply right down the line
to the street pushers.
Standing on the mock ships bridge he gazed
down
at his handy work wondering about the
possibilities
of Haynes having wired his premises for sound so
he
would be able to monitor his return. Gazing up at
the steel framed girder-work supporting the roof
he
decided there was a thousand places where small
electronic devices could be hidden, and came to
the
conclusion that he was becoming far too
paranoid.
                       143
Suddenly the telephone rang with its ring tone
shattering the silence as it echoed through the
emptiness. With heart pounding he scampered
down to
the dockside where he had plugged the instrument
in. Then at the point of picking it up his hand
froze allowing it to ring until it stopped.
Unplugging it he unscrewed the ear and mouth
pieces and located tiny micro-transmitters inside.
'So you're not so green as you're grass looking,'
he muttered to himself. Satisfied he had laid the
ghost that had stalked his restless mind, he shook
92
out the sleeping bag and crawled inside.
Sleep came quickly and throughout the following
day the sun beat down on the corrugated roof
warming the interior, giving him comfort as his
tired body restored the energies lost during the
past sleepless nights.
At six in the morning the telephones echoing ring
sounded again.
'Hello.' he answered.
'Scott its Snow.'
'Yes.'
'It's on for tonight, if you're ready.'
'I am, whats the form?' Scott inquired.
'Not over the phone. I'll come down to see you
later. Shall we say about eight o'clock.‟
Suits me fine. I'll keep an eye out for you. Has
Stoddart made any contact with Dieger yet?'
'This morning. He's flying over in a couple of
                       144
day's time to work out a deal. We'll have
unloaded
the nights cargo by then, so we'll have cash in
hand. Has there been any sign of anyone pocking
around at your end?'
Thinking in terms that there still might be other
listening devices planted he answered. 'No, did
you
have any particular reason for asking?'
'I'm not sure. Rodriguez has been asking around
as to why I'm selling off Stoddarts assets. Just
keep alert. The word on the street is that
something big is about to go down. Needless to
say
there are those who'd like to get in on the act
after we've done all the dirty work. That includes
the 'old bill.'
'I'll be careful.' Scott promised. 'See you
later.'
After breakfasting on cold Scotch Broth, Scott
washed and shaved as he regarded himself in the
mirror. Life it seemed was now filled with
intrigue
and demanded a mans total attention. Why he
wondered, should Dieger want to make a special
trip
to see Stoddart? Since he dealt in death in as
much
93
as he sold arms to all and sundry anyway, he
would
                       145
presumably have no qualms about making some
easy
millions via narcotics. That in turn meant that in
opening his heart to him, he had now possibly put
himself in yet another firing line.
His mind meandered on trying to sort out the
intrigue. If that were so, he pondered, who would
be the man detailed to eliminate him? Dieger had
always been a trusted friend and would be the
perfect person to lure him unsuspectingly to a
convenient place of execution. On the other hand
he
discounted him on the grounds that he had too
much
to loose and probably had contacts to do that sort
of thing for him.
Snow was probably capable of many devious
acts,
but cold blooded murder would not be one of
them.
Stoddart on the other hand, had killed already for
no other reason than suspecting his victim had
spied on his activities.
Plumping for Stoddart, Scott's mind turned to the
question of timing. He surmised it wouldn't be
advantages before setting up the cross channel
venture. That meant he'd have to proceed
cautiously.
He sat sipping his cold broth while deliberating
and decided to call Haynes.
'What can I do for you? He inquired.
                       146
'Somebody bugged my telephone,' he answered. 'I
want a straight answer. Was it one of your lot
acting on your orders?'
'Why should I do that?' Haynes hedged.
'At a rough guess I'd say I've got about 24 hours
to live. A straight answer from you could make a
great deal of difference to us both.'
Haynes thought about it and bearing in mind
Scott's tone of voice, tried to make judgment.
'Yes
it was one of my men acting on my orders.
Although
if it comes to making a public statement I'll deny
it.'
'It won't. The problem is that I have a ball in
94
play which I think is about to roll right over me
and leave me looking like a pancake. I have
enough
cash to make a run for it, but even if I did get
away I don't suppose I'd achieve much for long.
Not
to put too fine a point on it, I need your help.'
'So tell me about it.' Haynes invited.
'I put two propositions to Stoddart. The first
involves bringing in about a thousand pounds of
narcotics. In weight that is. And the deal goes
down sometime before dawn.'
'So?' Haynes said casually.
Highly suspicious Scott remarked. 'I've got the
                       147
sneakiest feeling that my news is not news to
you.'
'To be honest it isn't.' Haynes admitted. 'But
carry on. I don't know everything – your
suspected
demise for instance.'
'Do you have any knowledge of my idea of using
torpedoes to transport narcotic across the
channel?'
'Broadly speaking yes. An ingenious idea I
thought, and I intend letting it progress to some
extent.'
'You seem to be rather well informed,' Scott
remarked dryly whilst wondering if Haynes had
been
listening in to Stoddart's telephone conversations.
'Not as well as I'd like to be. We can't have
dead bodies left all over the place can we? Now
suppose you tell me everything you know.
'Thinking that Dieger was my friend, I called him
to ask if he would string Stoddart along with this
torpedo scheme. I was setting Stoddart up to get
even with him because he was responsible for
wrecking my business. Now I suspect they've got
together behind my back.'
'Which looks like Dieger has probably spilled
your motives to Stoddart,' Haynes speculated.
'Exactly,' Scott agreed. 'or if he hasn't yet,
it's only a matter of time before he does.'
'Have you given any more thought to joining my
                        148
lot as an undercover agent? Haynes asked, while
at
95
the same time his brain raced to temporarily solve
Scott's problem while solving one of his own.
'No thanks. I've had just about enough intrigue
to last me a lifetime. All I want is what's mine in
respect of the settlement of my insurance claim.
Then I'm departing for new pastures.'
'Okay,' said Haynes. 'I'll put my cards on the
table. The wife and child of one of my
undercover
agents has been kidnapped by a rival of Stoddarts.
If my people handle it, it will blow my mans
cover
wide open. That will not only put his life at risk
at a very crucial time, but it will blow the three
years of hard work we've all put in on this case.
On top of that there's no guarantee of a
successful outcome. The man who has them is the
one
responsible for the deaths of your kinfolks. Am I
provoking any interest now?'
'Yes. But I still don't see how I can help, or
how that situation helps me with what I've got
myself into now.
'You will shortly.' Haynes speculated. 'What I'm
about to reveal to you will cost lives if you talk
and yours will be accountable to me. Do you
understand what I'm saying?'
'I guess I do.' Scott answered meekly.
                        149
'Good. Now Tony Snow is due to meet you soon.
He
is my man, and its his wife and child who have
been
kidnapped. I'll be contacting him shortly and any
instructions from me will come through him. Is
that
understood?'
'Sure,' an astonished Scott agreed. 'but are you
aware that since the ski-cycle was found to be
bugged, Stoddart has been suspicious of him? He
didn't make any direct accusations but his
thoughts
were plain enough.'
'He didn't mention anything about that.' Haynes
admitted. 'Rodriguez – the man you're after –
used
Snows wife and kid to force him to sell Stoddart
out. The sooner we put them all away, the better
I'll like it.'
96
'Am I to assume that you want me, as an
unknown
outsider, to rescue Snows kin?'
'Possibly. I doubt Rodriguez knows who you are
to
look at so you could get close. I'll work
something
out and instruct Snow.
Now if you don't mind, I have some intricate
                       150
thinking and planning to do before Snow starts
out
to meet you. Just keep a cool head and don't
worry
about your insurance claim. I've got some clout in
high places where it counts and I reckon I can call
in a favour or two.'
Replacing the telephone, Scott sat for a moment
in amazement just thinking about Snow being an
undercover detective.
'How in the hell's name can a man like me get
into such a bloody mess?' he groaned as he
prepared
more fiberglass compound. 'I'm beginning to wish
I'd never heard of sunny Spain – absolutely
nothing
has gone right since I went there.'
Carefully applying the stodgy compound around
the
first coat he had fitted to the catch bar, he
wondered whether he had done Snow a serious
injustice. But then, even if he had, Dieger could
do nothing contrary to warrant his arrest or
prosecution. Even if he found out that he, himself,
had gone to Haynes out of fear for his life. Then
surely Dieger would at least understand why,
even
though he might feel slandered. Eventually the
ringing telephone stopped the worrisome
meanderings
of his mind.
                        151
'Hello,' he answered.
'It's Snow. I'll be with you in ten minutes.'
'I'll roll up the door.' Scott answered.
After turning out the lights he moved along the
dock and flicked up to switch on the doors control
panel, then stationed himself on the downside so
he
could look upriver.
While waiting he recalled the comings and goings
of powerboats he had repaired and the variety he
of
craft he had sold. His favorites being the high
97
powered ski cycles.
Staring into the night at the twinkling of
distant lights across the river, his eyes lost
their focus. Then his memories turned sour as he
recalled the tragic night when his loved ones had
been taken.
Long standing hatreds began to brew, filling him
with cold resolve that he knew he could not set
aside now that he had the name of the elusive
perpetrator.
Like an omen, a tugboat drifted by like aghost on
the calm waters, the noise of its powerful engines
lost in the distance. Suddenly its horn blew,
bringing him back to the realties of life in time
to catch Snows solitary figure piloting a small
motor boat into view.
Out of curiosity he remained in the shadows of
the unlit interior and as expected, with the
                       152
charade between them now over, Snow brought
the
craft straight in without any need for guidance.
As he reached the point of no return directly
beneath the roller door, he flicked the 'door
close' control. His movement, combined with the
sudden deep roller door moving in its greasy
runners, startled Snow.
When he turned on the lights only Snows head
showed above the bulwarks. His face was
haggard and
his stony gaze stared at Scott over the uncaring
sight of a machine pistol.'
'That's a bit draconian,' Scott remarked. 'I
thought the use of firearms by the police was
virtually forbidden.'
'Being Stoddarts right hand man does have its
compensations,' he shot back. 'And don't ever
make
the mistake of forgetting that. Lives are at risk –
yours included.
'I take it that you and Haynes have had a heart
to heart since we last met.' Scott accused.'
'Nobody talks to Haynes,' Snow declared with a
modicum of distaste, 'He gives the orders and the
98
rest of us start jumping.
Don't be fooled by his good nature when he's
being friendly or his nastiness when he's not. He's
the best there is as far as I I'm concerned.
                        153
Without exception, anyone who works for him
has the
greatest respect for his ability, even if he is a
bit despotic.'
'I'll try to remember that,' Scott said, being
all to aware of his own experience of the man.
Snow secured the mooring and walked along the
dockside to view the catamaran, his face
reflecting
his cynicism. Stepping aboard, he walked the
length
of its twin hulls, pausing only to glance at the
jerry cans of spare fuel and the three outboard
motors secured to the span of the modified deck.
'You've been busy,' he said, noting the cut out
receptacles. 'Can you make it to Dover by 3am? If
not, I'll have to call Stoddart and advise he hold
off for 24hrs.'
'Those extra engines will give all the speed I
need,' Scott assured.'
'Good. We'll unload some things I've brought for
you, then I'll give you a hand. I'll relate your
instructions as we go.'
'Suits me.' Scott shrugged looking into Snows
launch. 'Why the aqualung and wet suit?'
'Your cargo isn't coming ashore,' Snow explained.
Stoddart's worried about rivals homing in when
it's
landed. As it happens he's found a buyer to take
the whole bundle off his hands in one hit. Your
job
                       154
is to pick the stuff up, then head for the holiday
camp. You are to sink it with the catamaran about
a
thousand yards off shore. When his contact has
raised the cash you'll be the one to retrieve it
for him. There shouldn't be any problem, because
he
owns a damn great ocean going yacht which will
anchor on site.'
'His name wouldn't Spiro Dieger would it?. Scott
inquired.
'He didn't say and I didn't ask. Just in case
99
things go wrong and the authorities butt in or you
get problems with modern day pirates.
Here are a couple of devices to help you
navigate. This is a pathfinder to help locate your
target on your homeward run. Incorporated in it is
a micro-transmitter whose signal will be picked
up
by Lichenburg's private hydrofoil called 'Paris
Two.
When he picks up your signal he'll start
transmitting back to your pathfinder. But don't
follow its course immediately because he won't
leave his point of departure until you've made
contact.
When that happens, he'll steer a course heading
along the Straits of Dover into the Channel,
dropping the buoys en route.
You'll have the wake, the pathfinder and some
                       155
electronic bugs fitted to the buoys to guide you to
them. When you have all twenty four accounted
for,
knock out your transmitter. They will stop
receiving your signal and stop transmitting.
I shall be monitoring you both so when you both
stop I'll start. All this is just to make sure the
pick-up goes according to plan and a precaution
to
eliminate foul-ups, like getting lost in bad
weather. Any question so far?'
'Just one. I thought you, as one of Haynes men,
your main objective was to put the skids under
Lichenburg?' Scott queried.
'We already did. At the moment he's collaborating
with Interpol in a trade off to get his sentence
reduced. Anything else?'
'What about this buyer? Surely you're not going
to allow him to get away with all that cocaine?.'
'No chance. That haul is going to be our honey
pot to draw every greedy little bee who tries to
get his grasping hands on it. But all they're going
to get is tangled up in a spiders web from which
there is no escape. All we have to do is keep our
wits about us and we'll end up with every gang
boss
100
within a thousand miles in the slammer.'
'What about your wife and baby? Haynes seemed
to
think that I could be of some help in that
                        156
department.
Snows face hardened. 'All in good time.' he said
coldly. 'When Stoddarts taken care of, Rodriguez
will be our next target. Now lets get this lot onto
the catamaran.
'This Rodriguez. What's he like? Scott asked.
Ignoring the question. 'You'd better get into
your wet suite.' he advised. 'It's going to be a
cold night sitting on the open deck in your street
cloths.'
Shrugging off Snows icy retort, he stripped in
silence and stooped to retrieve the insulated wet
suite when he heard a footfall tread on the
creaking board leading from the showroom to the
balcony above the the dock. He froze, swiveling
his
eyes in there sockets to see if Snow had heard,
but
he had his back towards him.
Diverting his gaze again, he located the machine
pistol which lay within easy reach, and was
partially covered by his discarded cloths.
'Now what have we here here!' sneered Rico
Fernandez as he stepped into full view up on the
mock ships bridge. A moment later he was joined
by
an accomplice known as the Turk.
'I wouldn't mind some of that,' the latter
gloated looking at Scott's naked body.
'Hold on to that thought Turk.' Rico advised.
'There's time enough for that if they don't play
                        157
ball.'
'What are you doing here? Snow snarled. 'We had
an agreement. You were supposed to leave us
alone
until the stuff was landed.'
'Sure we did,' Rico agreed 'but the boss got to
thinking that an estimated hundred million
pounds
worth of coke is a shade to much to trust anyone
with. For that kind of dough you might just
decide
to forget you're a family man. Especially since
101
your wife's sick of the sight of you.' he boasted.
'You're a liar,' Snow snarled. 'She wouldn't have
anything to do with likes of Rodriguez if his balls
were hung in diamonds.'
'The trouble with you is that when you taught her
the difference between right and wrong, you
forgot
to tell her that one year of living the life style
provided by the like of Rodriguez is worth a
whole
lifetime with you-' he deliberately paused for a
moment before adding 'Copper!'
The heavy emphasis on this latter word was like
the announcement of a death sentence and Snow
knew
it. Scott still knelt, the machine pistol was close
to his finger tips. It was partially covered by his
discarded trousers, where his hand rested on the
                        158
deck for support.
Snows own weapon hung snug in its holster
tucked
under his arm. He knew that if he reached for it,
Rico or the Turk would separate his soul from his
body before he could even clasp its butt.
'Copper,' he echoed, feigning ignorance. 'What's
that supposed to mean?'
'It means you wife is playing footsie with
Rodriguez and your brat let the cat out of the
bag.'
'She's only two years old for Christ's sake.'
Snow argued.
At the slight movement of Scott's head Snow
glanced downward and in that moment he knew
that he
was about to make his move, which would result
in
Rico and the Turk opening fire. He also knew that
there was little he could do except create a
diversion.
At that precise moment the Turk auked his throat
and spat a globule of phlegm onto the floor. It
wasn't much of a distraction but just enough for
Snow to make his play. Feigning a move to his
right
he snarled at Scott to go for it. He in turn
performed a cartwheel in the opposite direction
that propelled him over the side into the water.
102
As Rico and the Turk fired instinctively in
                       159
Snow's direction, Scott dropped and flattened
himself on the deck. More detonations boomed in
the
emptiness as their weapons pumped bullets where
Snow had entered the water.
Scott brought the machine pistol to bear on the
Turk. For a moment the weapon chattered in his
hands and the Turk threw up his arms. With his
face
grimacing in shocked disbelief he staggered back
under the impact to stand stiff legged, boggled
eyed and open mouthed in the throes of death.
Rico reacted with a hasty fusillade of wild shots
as he ducked behind the wooden mock bridges
balustrade. Marking his position Scott hauled
back
on the trigger. As the bullets smashed through
their target, Rico's tortured body rose up with his
right hand reaching out pointing his weapon, and
his left clutching his blood soaked chest.
Rooted to the spot, Scott stared at the black
hypnotic eye of the gun's barrel and knew that
when
it spat flame his fate would be sealed.
Snow broke the surface between the catamarans
twin hulls at its forward end in a flurry of white
water, drawing Rico's attention. He leaned
forward
as if in a dream to re-sight his weapon, but over
balanced and splashed into the dock below.
                        160
White faced and trembling, Scott moved forward
to
kneel above Snow, who hung by one hand in the
blood
stained water, clutching Rico with the other.
'He's still alive,' Snow gasped 'Haul him up
first.'
Reaching down, Scott took a firm hold on Rico's
shoulders and hauled his limp body onto the deck
while Snow scrambled up unaided to kneel by his
side.
'Come on you bastard,' he snarled slapping his
face from side to side.
He began to stir. 'Where is Rodriguez holding my
wife and kid!' he demanded
'Go to hell,' Rico gasped.
103
'Maybe some of your own medicine will loosen
tongue,' Snow threatened. 'You answer my
questions
or I'm going to shove my fingers into those bullet
holes. You can scream as much as you like
because
no ones going to hear you.'
With the conviction of his hate reflecting in his
expression he purposely drew back his hand with
his
index finger thrust forward.
Rico's pale face turned toward Scott, but his
face remained passive, showing no sign of the
horror he felt at having to witness such an act.
                       161
'Your wounds are fatal Rico,' he warned in a
quiet tone, hoping to forestall Snow. 'Why don't
you do everyone a favor and make a clean breast
of
things before you go to meet your maker?'
'If it wasn't for you and your whiz-kid ideas, I
wouldn't be lying here waiting to die,' he scorned.
'And if your good buddy Rodriguez hadn't set
Stoddart up and started what is rapidly becoming
an
all out gang war for control of the rackets, none
of us would be in the shit state we're in!' Snow
fired back angrily.
All Scott wanted to do was to move his perfectly
legitimated business out of the rat race over to
Spain. Now look at him, he hasn't got a pot to
piss
in. On top of that he's got two killings to live
with for the rest of his life. That may not bother
the likes of us because thats the world we've
created for ourselves. But he's not like us.'
Rico's gaze turned to Snow. He coughed, his hand
automatically clasping his bullet torn chest. When
he finished coughing he raised it to view his
blood
soaked hand, then let it fall again. 'How long have
I got?'
'Minutes at best,' Snow replied.
'Okay, I'll tell you what you want to know. But
there's a price. I've got a wife and kid of my own.
                        162
Me and the Turk were going to escort you to
make
the pick up, then do a runner with it. Rico didn't
know about our coming here. I doubt if he'll take
104
his spite on them if he finds out about us planning
to to double cross him.
There wouldn't be much point in that. What I
would like is for my wife and kid to be sent
something to get them started on a new life away
for this city shit hole.'
'I can't make promises like that.' Snow said.
'Maybe not,' Scott butted in 'but I can. If I
ever get paid for my services to Stoddart I'll take
care of them for you, and thats a promise.'
'Okay,' Rico sighed. 'What do you want to know?'
'First I want to know where Rodriguez is holding
my wife and kid?' Snow demanded.'
'There at the Zulu Club. His story about them
being split up was a lie to keep you from trying to
rescue them. He figured that if you thought
rescuing one would result in loosing the other,
you
wouldn't try anything at all.'
'Does he know that I'm working for the serious
crime squad and working undercover?'
'No, I found that out by accident when I was
detailed to look after your kid for a couple of
hours. She was looking at a picture book and said,
'My daddy used to dress up like that. It was a
picture of a uniformed cop. I put two and two
                        163
together and figured that the law was about to
close in.
Then I thought about your deal with Rodriguez
and
figured me and the Turk could jump you and your
buddy. Then do a runner with the stuff before
anyone realized what was up. It just goes to show
what they say about the best laid plans of mice
and
men going astray.
I thought I'd be well on my way to being a
millionaire by tomorrow night. Now it looks like
the small change in my pocket is more than
enough
to see me out, 'cept worrying about my wife and
kid
of course. You wouldn't happen to have a bottle
of
Scotch about would you. I feel like I'm frozen to
the bone.'
105
'I took the liberty of putting a half bottle of
Brandy in with the gear I brought for you.‟ Snow
informed Scott. „I figured you'd be needing
something to warm you up on tonights run.'
When Scott turned to retrieve it, Snow continued
with his questions.
'My wife, is she all right?'
'Sure,' Rico assured weakly, 'but don't leave
with Rodriguez for too long. She's a real beauty.
                       164
To good for the likes of you or him. I wouldn't
put
it past him to get her the doped up so he can have
his wicked way with her. And when she's
addicted,
like as not he'd put her on the game. Least way's
that's how he generally operates. No offense
intended'
'None taken.' Snow said. 'I'll call my governor
to get you moved out of here.‟
'No rush. I'm not going anywhere, 'cept maybe to
hell.‟
Snow walk over to used the telephone leaving
Scott to play nurse and Rico had passed away by
the
time he returned.
'We'll leave him where he is. Haynes is sending
someone along to clean up. In the mean time we'd
better get you moving or you'll be late for your
rendezvous.'
'What about your wife? Is he going to send
someone to rescue her?'
'I didn't mention anything about her to him,'
Snow admitted. 'When Rodriguez goes down it's
going
to be for more than an abduction. We'll talk about
that after tonights run.'
As Scott finished putting on his wet suite Snow
fitted a fresh magazine to his machine pistol.
'That was pretty good shooting,' he
complimented,
                       165
glancing at the tiny dark holes in the Turks
forehead. Those bullets came so close to parting
his hair they almost missed.'
'It wasn't intended,' Scott admitted. 'I thought
to put him down with body shots that were a
more
106
certain target. But seeing the size of him close
up, I can see how lucky I was. From the looks of
him it looks like it would have taken a cannon
shot
to the chest to kill him outright.'
'Maybe you've got a guardian angel,' Snow said.
„One things for sure, I'm going to need one if
I'm going to get through the next few day's. 'I
thought you and Haynes had this business pretty
well wrapped up.'
'So did I,' Snow agreed 'but I don't put much
trust in Rico's deathbed confession. He's just
mean
enough to hide the fact that Rodriguez knows
about
me being on the force. He could also be lying
about
my wife a daughter being held at the same
location,
hoping that I – or Haynes will go in and make a
right cock up of trying to rescue them.
On top of that, there's always the possibility of
Rodriguez doing a deal with Stoddart by trading
the
                       166
information about me for a cut in the profits from
tonights caper. It would only take a situation like
this to unite them, and if that happens a good
many
years of hard work will go down the tubes – me
included.'
At a loss for words, Scott started the middle
outboard motor and the exhaust smoke billowed
as
the engine roared into life.
'I'll be seeing you.' he called.
'Is there anything you're not sure about before
you go?' Snow asked.
Shaking his head in reply, Scott held out his
hand. Snow grasped it firmly, holding his gaze
solemnly for a few moments. Then, with he nod
he
let go. Seconds later, he eased the catamaran out
through the yawing boathouse door with all three
outboard motors idling like a trio of purring tame
cats.
Maneuvering to head downstream, he glanced
back
at Snow, wondering if he would ever see him
again.
Feeling a little uneasy he took the time to build a
barricade with the jerry cans of spare petrol to
107
shield himself against the gentle breeze.
Still pondering on the intrigue, he increased
power to begin his journey. The night was crystal
                        167
clear and the moon shed its bright coldness on the
smooth tranquil waters from the star studded
heavens above. Behind him, the city lights
projected a great red domed glow.
To his left and right, long lines of street
lights stretched way off into the distance, marking
the tracts of concrete and tarmac roads and
motorways with the commercial and domestic
buildings of all kinds.
These scenes soon gave way to the less populated
suburbs, the Tilbury docks, the commercial
factories such as the Blue Circle cement works,
the
Imperial Paper mills and power station station
that
boarded the river banks of the lower Thames at
Purfleet, Northfleet and Gravesend. Beyond lay
the
eerie quietness of the marshlands where only a
few
lights twinkled from remote villages.
After passing old deserted wartime fort at
Shornemead and the wreck of the sunken
munitions
American Liberty ship, he boosted all three
outboard engines to full power.
Coming abreast of the seaside town of Sheerness,
the gateway to the North Sea, he picked out the
distant glow heralding the town of Margate and
began navigating his way to the north Foreland
beyond which lay the Straights of Dover.
                        168
The weather conditions remained favourable for
his pick-ups, although not entirely in his favour
as far as being spotted by the authorities was
concerned. Off Broadstairs he switched on the
first
of Snows gadgets.
The first signs of life were the cross channel
ferries that run from Dunkirk and Calais to
Ramsgate. As they crossed his bow, heading into
port, he began to pick up a signal from the
hydrofoil Paris, and he set course due east for ten
minutes at full power before turning south west to
108
achieve an exact course alignment with the Paris.
In a matter of minutes he spotted her lights half a
mile ahead and hit her freshly churned wake.
Almost immediately he picked up the signal of
the
homing bug in the first buoy and cut the power to
in order to give him enough time to locate, collect
and stow each one.
The first illuminated grappling hook danced into
view a hundred yards away and he piloted the
twin
hulls astride it until the two devices made contact
with a dull metallic clunk. He retrieved the pear
shaped buoy with its precious contents and
stowed
it the receptacle in deck. From the moment he
spotted the first buoy he counted aloud, hoping to
calculate the distance between them. It took one
                        169
minute before the second one clunked home. He
kept
repeating the operation, stowing the buoys on
opposite sides of the deck in order to keep an
even
keel. During the minutes that followed, his deep
down feeling of coldness was overcome by a
heart
pounding warmth which brought beads of sweat
to his
brow.
The twin hulls settled deeper into the water with
each buoy retrieved and soon the the hydrofoil's
superior speed increased the distance between
them
until it's lights were like a distant star on the
horizon.
Suddenly, even though he had been alone and
generally speaking, a solitary person by nature, he
now felt a different kind of loneliness, and
realized how much at risk he was with a King's
ransom in drugs at his fingertips. Taking his time
he refueled and settled down at full power to
follow the pathfinders signal for home.
Before long the cold began to creep back and
boredom set his mind to wondering. His first
thoughts were of what he wanted to do after he
had
claimed his share of the proceeds from Stoddart
for
                        170
bringing back the contraband cargo. From there
they
moved on to fears of being betrayed by his former
109
sponsor, Spiro Dieger.
This in turn led him back to the buoys and their
precious contents. Being closer to home and the
weather being favourable, there was little chance
of loosing any cargo overboard, it was time to
prepare the buoy's for submurging.
Reverting back to auto-pilot, he retrieved one
for inspection. It was pear shaped, stood three
feet tall and was made of fibre glass. The
grappling hook at the top unscrewed to make easy
exit of air after the bottom plug was removed. A
quick glance revealed a wire mesh grill,
presumably
to keep any sea creatures at bay while resting on
the sea bed while waiting to be retrieved.
It's body was completely smooth and there were
no
seems to indicate how it had been constructed, or
how its contents might be removed without being
cut
open. Knowing that the hook and bottom plugs
were
throwaway parts, he could only guess that the
relocation devices were sealed inside at the time
of packing. After throwing those over the side he
replaced the first container and began to prepare
the rest. Working methodically, first along the
                       171
line of the port side hull and then back along the
starboard side. With a sigh he dragged the last
one
onto the deck. Kneeling down beside it, clasping
it
between his knees, he took the hook in his left
hand.
Holding it steady he gave one of the hooks prongs
a sharp crack with his right hand as he had done
with all the others. The screwed thread remained
fast, so he took a firmer grip and tried again.
Still the hook refused to budge. In an effort to
gain more purchase he eased the buoy forward to
an
angle of forty five degrees. Crouched astride it
holding firm between his knees he stuck it again,
but it still remained stuck firm.
Determined not to be beaten he took an even
firmer grip, and assuming the threads had been
crossed when fitted, he held the hook steady. This
110
time using his right hand to hold it, he struck it
with his left hand. To his astonishment the hook
moved as though it been machined with a left
handed
thread.
Easing his weight further forward until the buoy
lay horizontal, he studied the upper part in the
moonlight while turning the hook clockwise. A
fine
                       172
highly precision joint appeared several inched
from
the top. Obviously it was necessary to have some
means of opening for the purpose of packing and
unpacking. But why one with a left handed
thread.
And why requiring such highly precision
workmanship
that it was virtually impossible to detect?
He proceeded turning it toward the moonlight for
inspection. Inside was a tubular wire mesh
inserted
to keep the contents in place after being emersed,
a homing bug had been stuck to its side.
This aroused his suspicions. Since he was
supposed to be the only person to know exactly
where the sinking was to take place, why were
tracking bugs required. Admittedly, he realized it
would make there re-location that much easier.
But
with the amount of back stabbing, intrigue and
plain cold blooded murders, it was just possible
that his own demise might be in the offing. So
bearing this in mind he retrieved all the buoys
once again and removed all the relocation
devices.
During the loneliness that followed he pondered
on the next stage of his mission, the sinking of
the catamaran and this led to thinking about ships
distress calls in morse code, which the
pathfinders
                       173
flickering seemed to be indicating to him.
S.O.S. Save Our Souls it indicated over and over.
There was no mistaking that, and guessing that
Snow
was in trouble and using the transmitter to warn
him, he checked the magazine in the machine
pistol.
With dawn barely an hour away and being
shrewd he
sank the catamaran fifteen hundred yards off
shore
and swam down to settle it on the seabed before
striking out for the beach.
111
On reaching the shallows he stooped to survey
the
beach. The mobile homes lay hidden behind the
rise
of the sandy beach, but two dark silhouettes stood
motionless below the skyline close to the waters
edge.
In an effort to identify them he raised his face
mask to peer across the gentle ripples of the sea.
Both wore dark hooded coats to keep them warm
during there lonely vigil, making it impossible to
recognize their faces. Being careful not to expose
himself he swam well down stream of them
before
crawling ashore to stalk them from the rear.
'He's not going to show.' a voice carried on the
light breeze declared. 'I'll lay odds that he's
                       174
done a bunk with the stuff and having a good
laugh
at the boss's expense.'
Scott concentrated all his senses on the second
man's reply, and even though he could not
understand what was said, he knew neither was
Stoddart or Snow.
He crawled closer as dawn broke, guessing it was
only a matter of time before they gave up the
lonely vigil. And if his assumptions were right
they would return to the mobile home where he
assumed Snow was being held.
The S.O.S suggested, that although the operator
was probably being held captive, he was not
under
direct supervision. His eyes strayed from the
lonely chink of light escaping through the
curtained window back the machine pistol. It had
been submerged during his swim and he wasn't
sure
whether it was safe to use or was even usable.
Deciding that his best chances lay with the two
on the beach, he lay flat on his belly to await
their return.
Daylight came swiftly and his intended prey,
knowing the time for any surreptitious landing
was
long past, turned to retrace their steps. With
heads slightly bowed they came into full view
and
Scott raised his torso to rest on his elbows.
                      175
112
'Freeze!' he called, taking aim with his weapon.
They came to an abrupt halt, lifting their
startled faces to peer at him. He presented an
awesome target with the glass of his face mask
resting on his forehead reflecting the light while
menacing them with the machine pistol.
'Don't even think about it!' he warned as the
eyes of one suggested he might be contemplating
a
dive to one side. 'I'll cut you in half before you
hit the deck!'
'What do you want?' One asked.
'I know you're armed.' Scott rasped 'Toss your
weapons up here, then strip down to your skin. If
you behave yourselves you might just get away
with
an early morning dip in the sea.'
'And if we don't?' one asked.
'If you're counting on my not shooting because it
might draw some attention, forget it. You'll be
dead and I'll be out of sight beneath the waves
long before your souls leave your bodies.'
Without further argument the first speaker
gingerly opened his anorak, removed a luger from
its shoulder holster and tossed it into the sand
just ahead of him. When his companion did
likewise,
they both stripped naked with Scott watching
every
move.
                       176
'Now, who sent you?' he demanded as they stood
meekly before him.
'Rodriguez.' came his reply.
'Where's Snow?' Scott demanded.
'In the holiday home behind you. The one with
the
light showing in the widow.'
'Who's with him?' Scott demanded.'
'No one. Two of our buddies were supposed to
meet
us here but they didn't show. We didn't fancy
splitting up so we tied Snow up before coming
out
here to wait for you.'
'For what it's worth, if your buddies were called
the Turk and Rico who you planned to do a
runner
with the stuff I was bringing in, you can can
113
forget it. They're both dead. And unless I get
some
straight answers and co-operation from you, I'm
going to tell Rodriguez that you were in it with
them. You can start by telling me where Snow's
wife
and daughter are being held.'
'He's got them stashed away at the Zulu Club.'
'Exactly where?' Scott persisted. 'Describe the
club and it's interior layout?'
'It's in St Martins Road – the usual sleazy
                       177
tourist rip-off joint. You know what I mean; a
chat
up Geezer standing outside touting outside for
custom. Good looking girls inside wearing next to
nothing, who entertain the punters until the
money
stops flowing. There are rooms upstairs if a
particular hostess takes your fancy and you can
afford the price.'
'Never mind that crap!' Scott snapped. 'Supposing
I went in. what would I see once I got through the
front door?'
'A big expensive foyer, usually with a bouncer in
a monkey suite hanging around in case there's
trouble.
Since it's supposed to be a membership only club
there's always a sexy hostess ready to sign you in
for a membership fee. From there the punters are
taken in to the main club room where they can
buy
drinks for them selves and the hostesses or try
your luck on the slot machines.
If you want you can take a hostess upstairs for a
romp in bed. You can even watch hard porn
videos if
you have a mind too.'
'How do they get upstairs!' Scott snapped.
'There's a door behind some heavy drape
curtains.'
'Is there any other entrances?' Scott asked.
'Only at the back of the club.'
                       178
'And where precisely are Snow's wife and
daughter
being held?' He persisted.
'In the basement flat. Thats Rodriguez's private
quarters, or at least it's where he stays when he
114
has a mind to. Thats usually when he's breaking
in
a new hostess. Rumour has it that most of his
girls
start off as being his lovers until he gets them
hooked on drugs. Then he forces them to go the
game
so they can feed their habit.'
'Tell me about the flat. How do I get in? Has it
got a rear entrance? And whats it's layout?'
'There are two entrances at the front. One
through a basement door, the other through a door
to the left in the foyer. There's also a back
entrance. Beyond that I can't tell you anything
because I've never been out there.'
Scott quickly looked around. The suns bright
glow
was creeping over the horizon and soon the
holiday
maker's would be up and about, which suited his
plan. However, the thought of shepherding his
captives naked into the sea had lost its appeal. A
simple plea to almost any unsuspecting bather
would
gain them a towel to cover their private parts,
                       179
after which a single telephone call would be
enough
to warn Rodriguez about his interest in the club
and Snows wife and daughter.
'Just back up a few more paces,' he ordered, and
when they obeyed he stooped down to gather up
there
weapons and cloths. After wrapping them up in
one
of their anoraks, he decided to replace the wet
machine pistol with the Luger.
'I hope you were telling me the truth about there
being no one guarding Snow.' Scott warned. 'Now
move ahead of me.' he ordered, allowing them to
pass under the threat of the Luger.
Noting the direct look thrown his way by the
taller of the two that had acted as spokesman, he
immediately became suspicious and hung back
several
paces as they negotiated the slope.
'What are your names?' he asked, in an effort to
keep there minds occupied and divert them from
thinking about the possibilities of escaping.
'I'm Simmons,' said there spokesman. 'He's
Callan.'
115
'Does he talk?' Scott inquired.
'Not much, he suffers from a speech impediment
that embarrasses him in front of strangers.'
From the rear, wearing only their socks they
looked quite comical as they trudged up the sandy
                       180
slope. But no secret smile touched Scott's grim
face as he waited for the inevitable.
The warning came when Callan glanced to one
side.
Then suddenly his legs spread wide and he began
to
scoop sand between them like a hound-dog
digging a
hole.
Almost simultaneously, Simmons turned sharply
to
pounce ready to on Scott, whom he expected to
be
stunned and blinded by the hail of sand. With all
his weight bearing on his right foot, he swung
round in a crouch ready to launch himself down
the
slope.
His grimace of determination turned to sheer
horror. He froze perched on one leg while the
other
hung in the air like a dog taking a leak. With his
arms raised ready to grab and shoulders
haunched,
he saw his intended victim had side stepped to
avoid the onslaught and was now crouching low
with
the Luger aiming at his private parts.
'You've got some balls.' Scott rasped. 'If you
want to hang onto them I'd advise a re-think.'
                       181
Simmons' glance flicked from the whiteness of
his
index finger curled around the Luger's trigger to
the stony look in his eye's, a sure indication that
he would not hesitate to inflict the cruelest of
injuries at the slightest provocation.
Slowly Callan turned, looking from Simmons to
Scott as he did so and Scott swung the Luger to
point at his penis.
'O-O-Okay,' Callan stammered, lowering his arms
to clutch his genitals for protection. 'Y-Y-You
win.'
Without a word Scott unwrapped their bundle of
cloths and selected their hooded anoraks. After
checking their pockets he threw them on the
ground
116
at their feet.
'Stick your legs through the armholes. Keep the
backs behind you and don't pull the sleeves above
your knees. If that doesn't slow you down nothing
will.'.
While they carried out his orders, Scott
rummaged
about for what he thought to be the mobile homes
door key and a minute later they moved off again
with his captives waddling like a pair of
penguins.
Relieved but skeptical, Scott ushered them the
two hundred yards to the mobile home and
inserted
                        182
the key into the lock.
'Now,' he said. 'Is there anything you want to
tell me before I open the door? Because if I find
any surprises in there I'm going to start shooting
in your direction first. Do I make myself clear?'
'There's guard dog in there.' Simmons blurted.
'It's a R-r-r-r- rottweiler. I-i-i-i-it'll tear you
to pieces u-u-u-unless I call him to heel before we
go in.'
'So!' Scott growled.
'B-B-Brandy,' he called.
The home vibrated slightly as the beast inside
padded toward the door and began to whimper.
'Better let him go first,' Simmons advised. 'If
you hurt that dog, he'll go berserk and that Luger
won't do you a bit of good. He loves that Mut
more
than anything on Gods green earth.'
'Easy boy'. Callan cooed with no a trace of his
stammer.
'Then you'd best make sure you both behave,'
Scott warned.
After tossing the key on the ground for Callan to
retrieve, he opened the door and let it swing open.
Just inside the muscular black and tan brute
wagged
its stump of a tail as it jumped up to straddle his
masters shoulders. Callan responded by cradling
its
huge head affectionately against his own.
'Easy Boy,' he cooed.
                        183
'Get him shut up in one of those rooms.' Scott
117
ordered.
'Where's you ball?' he asked 'and when the dog
dashed off to find it, Callan advanced to pull the
door closed.
'It's a good man who knows his limitations,'
Scott said
'Now where's Snow?'
'Tied up in the bathroom,' Simmons said sullenly.
Once again the look on his face and his manner
gave cause for concern. Guessing the reason lay
behind the door, Scott glanced around for
something
with which he could render his captives harmless
with.
'Get those scatter cushions,' he ordered
indicating at two which lay on a sofa. Simmons
held
back, leaving Callan to carry out the order.
'Now take the covers off and put them over your
heads and zip them up. Then get yourselves face
down on the floor.' he added.'
When these orders were obeyed Scott dumped
there
bundles of cloths on the floor in an untidy heap
and removed a leather belt and a pair of trouser
suspenders. Using those he secured their hands
behind there backs and left them face down.
Satisfied they presented no immediate danger, he
opened the bathroom door. Snow lay exhausted
                       184
straddled half way over the bath tub with his
hands
tied to the taps.
The bath was filled with blood stained water. His
shirt and trousers were torn to shreds and his
body
was bruised with blood stained wounds that bore
testament to a mauling by the dog.
'Jesus Christ!' he rasped. 'What in hell's name
have they done to you?'
First he removed the necktie securing Snow's
hands and then removed the wadded flannelette
gag
stuffed into his mouth. As he eased him onto the
floor he spotted the pathfinder transmitter tucked
between the bath and toilet.
'I guess I owe you,' he said quietly. 'But for
118
your warning I could have suffered a similar fate.'
Snow opened his eyes and managed a weak
grimace.
'I could use a drink, 'he croaked. 'The bastards
put in a salt in the bath and kept pushing my head
under, trying to make me talk.'
Scott untied his hands then eased him down to sit
with his back against the bath panel, then filled a
plastic breaker with water from the hand basin.
Holding it to his lips he allowed him to drink
deep
and long until the beaker was empty. Then with
his
                        185
eyes closed and he raised his right hand as though
to keep Scott at a distance.
Guessing what was coming, Scot raised the toilet
seat.
'Easy now,' he said softly, hauling him to his
knees and holding his head over the pan.
Moments later, his pain wracked body heaved as
his stomach rejected the salty contents.
'God,' he rasped. 'I hope you shot the hell out
of those two, because if you didn't I'll not be
responsible for my actions if I get my hands on
them. How did you get past that damn dog
anyway?.'
'Never mind that for now.' Scott hedged 'Your
right arm and leg seem to be useless. Do you feel
as if you've got any broken bones?'
The best Snow could do was a huffed grimace
that
passed as a smile. 'Huh, all of them by the feel of
it. Christ they gave me some pounding. Just let
me
rest here for a few minutes.'
'Sure,' Scott agreed, 'take your time. How about
a brandy or something?'
'Make it long and straight,' Snow gasped.
Making his way back into the lounge, Scott
poured
a large brandy and returned to find Snow sagging
over the toilet pan again. Standing astride he
reached to haul him upright.
'Here get this down you.' he said offering the up
                        186
to his mouth glass.'
After gulping it down he gasped. 'Thank God I
haven't got a dose of the runs to go with this or
119
I'd be in a right old state.'
Ignoring his half hearted jest, Scott reached out
for a face flannel on the vanity unit and wiped the
perspiration and dribbles of vomit from his face.
'That feels good. Nice and cool, he said.'
'Do you feel up to moving yet?' Scott asked.
'No, give me a few more minutes.'
'Sure, take you time.'
'Did you get my S.O.S?' he asked.
'Indeed I did. How did you manage to send it?
Scott asked.
'With great difficulty. After they left I managed
to get myself sitting astride the bath and tap it
out with my foot. Then I got the cramps and had
to
get back in the bath again. They tied my wrists so
tight, hanging over there made matters worse. It
cut off my circulation.'
'How come they didn't take the pathfinder
transmitter?' Scott asked.
'They wouldn't have known what it was if it got
up and bit them. Once they had the receiver for
the
homing bugs in the containers they thought they
had
it made. They didn't realize you never intended
landing the stuff.
                        187
The one thing that kept me sane through all the
pain was the thought of them sitting out there
waiting for something that wasn't coming. My
only
fear was that they might grab you and give you
the
same treatment as me.'
'I didn't know you cared.' Scott jibed.
'You know what I mean. Apart from seeing you
hurt, a lot of people have gone to a lot of trouble
to nail----'
'Come on get up you get,' Scott cut in. 'I've got
a nice big surprise for you in the lounge.'
'Easy,' Snow groaned.
Any hope of Snows condition not being as bad as
he first thought were soon dispelled. As he hauled
him to his feet his right leg and arm hung limp.
'Are you sure they're not broken? he asked.
120
'No, that was quite some 'going over' they gave
me. With them using me for football practice and
that damn dog trying to tear me from limb to
limb,
I'm surprised there's anything left of me that l
works.'
As they reached the lounge doorway with his arm
clinging around Scott's neck for support, he
jerked
with surprise at seeing the two prostrate hooded
figures laying naked on the floor.
'Take it easy,' Scott warned as Snow tried to
                        188
bear his weight on his injured leg. 'I know how
you
feel, but returning their hospitality won't do you
any good in your condition.'
'No you don't know how I feel.' he shot back
angrily. 'Give me a gun and I'll make sure they
never do it to anyone else.'
'Shooting them might solve the problem of what
to
do with them but I want no part in any cold
blooded
murder‟s!' Scott snapped.
'Murder‟s? Snow laughed sadistically. 'Maybe,
but
I was thinking more about blasting their elbows
and
knees. And thats just for starters.'
Understanding his anger, Scott guided him to the
sofa where he sat him down.
'You ought to have the doctor take a look at
these bites,' he advised when inspecting Snow's
right arm.
'Never mind that,' he shouted 'just get me another
drink and maybe I'll cool down a bit!'
As Scott tilted the bottle toward the tumbler, he
turned and saw Snow retrieving a gun from
between
the sofa's cushions.'
'Don't even think about it,' he warned aiming the
weapon between Scott eyes. 'You say you know
how I
                       189
feel. Well I'll tell you something: you know sweet
F.A. These bastards came so close to drowning, I
lost count of how many times they pushed my
head
under. And what kind of animals kick a man
when
he's down and set a dog on him? Well mister,
now
it's my turn. As grateful as I am to you, I'll put
121
you down if you come between me and those two
bastards!'
Scott stood rigid. He shifted his gaze from the
hypnotic eye of the gun to Snow's hate filled
glare
and realized that perhaps he was right. He didn't
know how much he had been made to suffer, or
whether he would shoot him if he tried to disarm
him in order to protect them. All he knew was
that
the look in his eyes was not to be ignored.
'Maybe it would be advisable to take their hoods
off first. It would be a shame to shoot the wrong
men.'
Snow glanced down. 'Thats them alright.' he
snarled turning the gun to pistol whip each head
in
turn. 'How does it feel to be on the receiving
end.' he goaded after their cries of pain had died
away.
                       190
'Can you remember how much you enjoyed
torturing
me?' he ranted. 'Well, now the boot is on the other
foot, and you can take my word for it, I'm going
to
enjoy myself.
As he spoke he stroked one of the heads with the
gun barrel until its tip traced an ear. Then,
taking a careful aim he brought it to full cock.
'F-F-F-For Christs sake.‟ Callan stammered
shaking with fear.
Afterr hearing the venom in Snow's tone when he
referred to the atrocities committed against him,
he had no doubts about being made to suffer.
As the weapon slid down to lay flat against the
side of his ear knew that it was about to be shot
off and the bullet would continue its downward
thrust to shatter his collar bone and enter his
chest.
'Don't lower yourself to their level,' Scott
pleaded.
'Why not, it's all they understand.'
'I-I-I-I'll trade you s-s-s-some i-i-iinformation
f-f-f-fore my l-l-l-life.' Callan
pleaded
122
'Shut up!' Simmons shouted. 'He won't shoot, it's
more than he dare do'
This statement aroused Scott's suspicions, but
Snow was hell bent on his quest for revenge to
notice. Without further ado, he swung the gun to
                        191
take a quick shot at Simmons, who howled in
pain as
he writhed on the floor with a lump missing from
his right heel.
'For Christ's sake,' Scott yelled 'have you gone
stark raving mad? You'll have the whole bloody
camp
site alerted.'
'It'll be worth it,' Snow ranted.
'Think of what Simmons has just said,' Scott
advised, 'and then listen to what Callan might
have
to say.'
'What are you getting at? Snow flared.
'Simmons said that you wouldn't dare shoot.'
'So now he knows different doesn't he!'
'You're missing the point. What information does
he have that would lead him to make a statement
like that?'
All the pain inflicted on him suddenly ceased to
bother him, as the words, like the carriages of a
train moved along his train of thought and came
to
an abrupt end.
As an officer of the law, his actions of the past
few minutes would be inexcusable under any
circumstances.' he thought. 'Rico, now deceased,
had claimed that only he knew that snippet of
information. But now Simmons' declaration
strongly
suggested that he also knew his secret.
                       192
This posed the question of how did he know? Had
Rico lied? Did Rodriguez know that he was
working
undercover? And if he did, how would that effect
him, his wife and daughter?.
'Take him into the bathroom and question him,'
he
told Scott. „I'll question Simmons here and we'll
compare their stories afterwards.'
'You'll get nothing out of me.' Simmons Snarled.
'I'm not so sure that's a good idea,' Scott
123
challenged. 'You're in no physical state to handle
him if he should get the upper hand. To be honest
I
don't fancy letting you out of my sight in your
present mental state.'
'What you really mean is that you're afraid I'll
blow his brains out.' Snow said with the ghost of
a
sardonic smile.
'That's about the truth of the situation.' Scott
admitted.
Snow struggled to his feet, and using the
furniture for support he limped into the kitchen.
From the lounge Scott could hear cupboards and
draws being opened and closed as he rummaged
through them. Eventually he reappeared clutching
a
small tube. Easing himself down to his knees with
the aid of the sofa. He shuffled to Simmons' side.
                       193
'You move a muscle without my say so,' he
threatened 'and I'm going stick this gun up your
arse blow your brains out.'
Sweat began to glisten on Simmons's face
beneath
his hood as Snows hands fumble with the belt
securing his hands behind his back. Realizing that
he was being untied, Simmons began to explore
the
possibilities of taking advantage of this freedom,
but decided to wait just in case his hood was
removed allowing him to see.
First one hand was lifted and he felt a cold
feather-like touch on each fingertip. A moment
later this was repeated on the other hand. Then
both hands were placed on his buttocks palms
inward
and held there for a few moments. Only when he
tried to move them did the truth dawn on him. His
hands had in fact been super glued to his
buttocks.
'That should hold him.' Snow smirked turning
back
to Scott offering him the weapon. 'If it bothers
you so much, you can take this.'
Scott met his hard eyed gaze and tried to reach
beyond it to fathom what was going on inside his
mind. But all that registered were the stony
unrevealing eye's and the weapon he held out.
124
'You'd best hang onto it, just in case.' he
                       194
sighed. Then hauling Callan to his feet he guided
him into the bathroom.
Simmons heard the door close, then a shuffling
sound as Snow moved. A sound, like a match
scratching a gritty surface was followed by the
flare as it came to life. Then the smell of cigar
smoke awoke his craving for a cigarette.
Snow's shuffling movements drew closer as he
reached down to unfasten his hood.
Expecting the hot ember of a burning cigar to
touch his bare skin he flinched when Snow's cold
hand hooked under his belly to roll him over on
to
his back. The unexpected maneouver caused his
injured heel to hit the floor and his face screwed
up in agony when he jerked it up and then
lowered
it gently to rest across the shin of his other leg.
There was a pause of several seconds while Snow
savored his cigar. The only sound was the faint
murmur of Callan's voice from behind the closed
bedroom door.
Hardly knowing what to expect as Snow
puckered
his lips to blow out a steady stream of blue
smoke,
he tried to move his hands, hoping that by some
fluke they might break free. But Snow saw him
wince
when they would not budge.
                        195
He smiled down casually at Simmons then swung
his
injured leg upward and twisted his body in a toy
soldier-like movement to squat astride him. Then
he
painfully lowered himself to kneel on Simmons'
shoulders, pinning him to the floor. With
deliberation he drew on the cigar until its ember
glowed brightly.
'I suppose you thought you had the monopoly on
inflicting pain,' he said quietly, tapping the
cigar so the ash drifted down onto his face.
Simmons closed his eyes and turned his face
away.
'Well now it's your turn.' Snow continued.' And
to be perfectly honest I don't give a shit if you
don't talk, because your buddy in there will tell
125
us all we want to know.'
When Simmons opened his eyes again the cigar
was
only inches away from them, although he could
not
quite feel the heat of the smoldering end.
Suddenly Snows free hand snaked out, gripping
his
jaw in a vice like clamp to steady himself against
the thrust of Simmons's heaving belly when he
tried
to unseat him. His effort proved futile and as he
settled back, ash from the cigar fluttered into his
                        196
eyes.
The severe stinging sensation drew tears as he
grimaced against the pain. 'If I talk I'll be
hunted down like a dog and you'll be fishing my
remains out of the river.' he whined.
'Thats tough,' Snow said. 'No doubt, if Callan
talks you'll be able to convince Rodriguez that it
was him and not you. Supposing he does believe
you,
I'm sure that will give you a great amount of
comfort when you're learning to read Braille.
On the other hand,' he continued, lowering the
cigar until he could feel its heat on his eyelids
'if he does believe you I'm sure that your
blindness will serve as a blessing in disguise. You
won't be able to see him coming and perhaps your
end will come quickly. If you're lucky he'll go for
a head shot. All you'll feel is as though a droplet
of scolding steam has touched you and I'll be all
over before you can blink an eye.'
'How the hell would you know that.' Simmons
challenged.
'You can take my word for it. That is unless
you've shot some one and seen the result.'
'You bastard.' Simmons remonstrated.
'Not me. I didn't ask you to come here and
torture me. Neither did I invite you to enjoy it.'
'Supposing I talk? What are you offering in
return?'
'That depends on what you're offering. Until I
know that how can I say.'
                        197
'Okay. Since I don't have much of a choice, I'll
126
trust you to give me a good deal. Rodriguez sent
us
down here, but he isn't the real boss or the brains
behind everything. The real boss behind him is
into
everything. He's hell bent on wiping out all the
other gangs or controlling their activities through
people like Rodriguez. He controls all the pimps
the pushers the madams and their whore houses.
If there's a bank or bullion job you can bet he's
in the background somewhere taking his cut. If a
member of his gang gets caught, he sees that he
doesn't talk. By that I mean being beaten up or
murdered. And in some cases breaking them out
of
jail. He has eyes everywhere. He even has access
to
police files and computers.'
'Give me the name.' Snow persisted.
Simmons looked him in the eyes with beads of
sweat running down his brow and fear written all
over his face as he mustered up the courage to
whisper the name that could mean certain death.
'Give me the name.' Snow urged.
'Haynes,' he said at last. 'Your boss. He's the
one masterminding all the crime in London these
day's.'
'Haynes,' Snow hissed in utter shock. His
bewildered brain began to sift through seemingly
                        198
insignificant things that had happened in the past.
All at once they made sense if Haynes was in fact
masterminding London's underworld. Even the
abduction of his own wife and daughter made
more
sense, and explained how Rodriguez had found
out he
was married and where they lived. It also
explained
Haynes' plausible excuses for not promoting a
specialist squad to rescue them.'
The more he thought about the problem in hand
to
publicly expose him the more complex it became.
'Supposing I went higher up the chain of
command,' he pondered. 'Who's, to say that he
hasn't got his claws into them. And then fearing
their own exposure, expose me and my
knowledge to
Haynes?'
127
The million dollar question was, how far had the
rot spread? And who could he turn to for help.'
The bathroom door opened disrupting his
thoughts
and he turned white faced to meet Scott's bland
stare as he stood in the doorway.
'What did you get? He asked.
'The whole business as far as Haynes is
concerned. That smooth talking bastard has
stitched
                        199
us all up. Now I'm wondering how involved he
was
with Rodriguez when my father and brother were
killed. He was with the river police in those days
and he told me that it was Rodriguez who caused
the
accident that killed them.‟
'It could be that's where it all started,' Snow
volunteered. 'What's bothering me is where and
how
it ends. My first instinct is to get my wife and
daughter out of Rodriguez's clutches and away to
a
place of safety.'
'What about us? Simmons asked.
Snow turned face him. 'What about you? If we let
you go free you'll make a bee-line straight back to
him or Haynes to spill your guts in hope of
redeeming yourselves at our expense.'
'And both would repay us with a bullet in the
back of the head,' Simmons argued. 'Speaking for
myself, all I ask for is a safe place to hide until
you've done what you have to do.'
'M-M-M- Me too.' Callan stammered.
Snow eased himself off Simmons's chest to sit on
the sofa. 'Stoddart owns this site and there are a
couple of holiday homes always kept vacant just
in
case he needs them for his own use. You can stay
in
one of those for the time being. The problem is
                        200
going to be finding someone to make sure you
stay
there.'
'I'd say that should be you,' Scott suggested.
'You're in no condition to travel so you may as
well stay here and do something useful.'
'That maybe so, but I'm heading back to London
to
get my wife and daughter and wild horses won't
stop
128
me.'
'Talk sense for Christs sake,' Scott flared.
'Your face is known and the minute your seen
they'll be on the alert, especially in the state
you're in.'
'Then what do you suggest.'
'That the three of you clue me up with everything
you know and I go in your place.' Scott
volunteered. 'My face isn't known.‟
Your wife is being held in the Zulu club, so I'll
go as a customer. On top of that I've got a
personal score to settle with Rodriguez on my
own
account.'
'No,' Snow countered 'You haven't had any
experience in this sort of thing or of dealing with
these sort of people.'
'Maybe not, but the last few days have been quite
an education. And let's face it, it's going to be
at least a couple of days before you're even half
                        201
way fit enough to do any good. If I don't succeed,
you can go later'
Snow thought about the offer and his
circumstances for a few moments. Scott was right
about his health hampering any efforts on his own
part. And the circumstances could drastically
change if Haynes and Rodriguez realized the
implications of the missing Callan, Simmons, the
Turk and Rico might involve. Even now he must
be
waiting for news from them about the cargo of
narcotics he had sent them to purloin.
'You don't look so hot yourself,' he said at
last. 'A good meal and a few hours kip might do
you
some good before you go.'
'I'll travel by train and cab, and grab some
sleep on the way,' Scott promised. 'Right now I
think it's a case of striking while the irons hot,
don't you?'
'What are you going to do about Haynes?
Simmons
asked.
'For the time being we'll let him think he's in
129
the clear,' Snow advised. 'The worst possible
medicine we can dish out is to have him caught
with
his hands firmly wedged in the cookie jar.
Chapter 5
Being back on the busy streets of London gave
                       202
Scott a special feeling as he stopped to view his
image in a shop window. Dressed in a flashy
sports
jacket and trousers, with an expensive camera
hanging in its shiny leather case from his
shoulder, he looked every inch the American
tourist.
He turned a little to his left, 'Good.' he
thought, no sign of a bulge beneath his right arm
to give away the presence of the Luger.
It was just midday, sunny and warm. The road
was
crammed with people from all walks of life.
There
were Mr and Mrs average enjoying their lunch
breaks. There were the young hanging together in
happy groups, wearing bright trendy cloths or
sporting outrageous hairdo's to impress or outdo
each other.
There was also an abundance of tourists dressed
like himself, many were unaccompanied males. A
few
of those seemed to be interested in the sex shops
and displays; the girls with their favours for sale
and the prospect of enjoying the cities twenty
four
hour night life.
Further along the street was the unlit neon sign
belonging to the Zulu club. As he approached, he
sensed the alert eyes of a hustling tout watching
him. Maintaining the air of a shy, sly pervert, he
                        203
advanced toward him.
'My god,' he exclaimed in friendly surprise, 'if
ever I saw a man that looked as though he needed
cheering up, It's you.'
As Scott turned, a trendy young woman of about
twenty years of age came from behind the tout
and
passed between them. She smiled at Scott as he
130
admired her brightly colored hair and exquisitely
made up face. Then he turned to admire her
voluptuous denim clad figure from the rear while
the tout observed.
'Now that's nothing more than a put-on. She'll
tease you until you go crazy with lust and take
you
for every penny you've got. She'll have the shirt
right off your back before kissing you good bye.'
'She'd be welcome to it if there was anything
left of her after I'd finished with her,' Scott
drooled, mimmicking a southern American
accent.
'Did you ever see a woman with a sexy wiggle
like
that before?'
'She sure is something to drool over,' he agreed.
'Simone, that's her name. Never forget a face or a
good sexy looking bum. She used to work here,
but
the boss fired her because she didn't always have
the customers best interests at heart, if you know
                       204
what I mean?'
'Not exactly,' Scott pleaded.
'Well, let me put it like this,' he began to
explain, as though Scott was a little slow on the
uptake. 'We've got girls in here.' he said
indicating with his thumb jerking in the direction
of the club. 'They're employed because they're
beautiful and that's what the tourist's come here
for. They have a nice quiet drink together with no
the wife crowding their play. Now being red
blooded
as I'm sure you are, you might take a fancy to one
of our hostesses.
But if the lady of your choice isn't forthcoming
after you've treated her right, you go away feeling
that the club has let you down. Now we can't
have
the club getting a bad name like that can we? So
we
only employ girls that have the customers well
being at heart. Like the notice says over the bar;
if don‟t see what you want–ask for it.'
'You mean you have girls like her and they'll do
anything to please,' Scott beamed sheepishly,
raising his hand to scratch a non-existent itch on
131
the back of his neck. 'To be honest, I'm kind of
shy in the company of the ladies, I sort of – well
– you know. I clam up.'
'Can't talk to them and clam up? Echoed the tout.
'Jesus! You don't have to worry above such things
                        205
with our girls. They're professionals. They do all
the talking if they feel the need. In fact they'll
fulfill your needs without you even saying a word
if thats all your worried about. You want a few
drinks before taking them somewhere a bit more
private? Just say the word and I'll take you inside
and smooth the way for you. How are you fixed
for
cash to get things moving in the right direction?
It's a con I know, but to get into club like this
you have to be a member.'
'Okay I guess.' Scott assured pulling a wad of
fifty pound notes from his pocket. 'I'm afraid I
haven't quite got the hang of your money yet.
This
is my first time away from home.'
Seeing so many notes of the highest
denomination,
the touts eye's lit up and he reached out to take
two.
'Mister,' he said taking him by the arm, 'you
just leave everything to me. I'll see to it that
you get the best the house has to offer. What
takes
you fancy, a nice English girl, and Indian, a West
Indian or Chinese. How about a green eyed,
flame
haired Irish Colleen with the body of a goddess?'
Allowing himself to be hustled inside, Scott
found himself in a large foyer adorned with
maroon
                        206
drapes and tall exotic plants in wooden tubs. To
his right were a pair of heavy highly polished
wooden doors with ornate brass fittings. Here a
burly bouncer in a black tuxedo suit stood talking
to a beautiful hostess.
Her flame colored hair, shining from much
brushing, reached down to the small of her back,
while the green dress, that barely held her breasts
in place, was so short that it scarcely concealed
her panties as she stood erect.
132
Deliberately turning his head away as though too
shy to meet their gaze, Scott glanced to his left
to locate the interior door which Simmons said
led
down to the basement flat where Rodriguez was
hiding Snow's wife and daughter.
Taking advantage while his head was turned, the
tout raised his hand to rub a thumb against his
fingers, indicating to the bouncer that Scott was
carrying a lot of cash. In response the bouncer
inclined his head and the hostess's face
brightened
into a beaming smile.
'He's a little on the shy side,' the tout
explained.
'Now who'd have thought a handsome hulk like
you
would be shy?' marveled the hostess in an
enchanting Irish brogue as she sliped an arm
through his.
                        207
Scott turned to look into her green eyes and
deliberately let her see him glance down to take a
sly look at her ample cleavage.
'I guess thats what comes of living out in the
wilds with only my Pa for company,' he drawled.
'That is unless you count several thousand cows
and
a bunch of cowboys.'
'You'll have to become a member of the club,'
The
bouncer cut in. 'I'm afraid it's members only.'
'Just give a card,' scowled the tout. 'He's paid
his membership to me. I'll sort that out with you
after our friend has settled in.'
'What's your name honey? The hostess asked.
'Mines Anita.'
'Scott,'he said without thinking.
'Scott,' She echoed as though the it had some
special appeal. 'Well Scott honey, we can go into
the main bar through there if you like. It's quiet
now, but as the day wears on there will be other
girls and members coming in. Or if you'd rather
we
can go upstairs to my room for a few drinks in
private.'
'I don't get to be with young ladies like you
133
where I come from,' Scott began, 'but then, as you
said, the day is young. I think I'd like to hang
arround down here for a few drinks while I see
what
                       208
the house has to offer. I've seen people playing on
the fruit machines out in Las Vegas on the TV
back
home. I've never had the opportunity, so I'd like
to chance my luck before we get to engrossed.'
'Anything you say honey,' she smiled.
His slight attack of nerves as he approached the
club had diminished as his act with the tout
progressed. Now, as the immaculate bouncer
turned
to open the door to the club proper, he realized
that he was fast approaching the point of no
return. In a few minutes he would have to face the
real curtain call, or cut and run like a scared
chicken. Knowing he could not face Snow with a
lie
to cover his failure, he stepped through the
doorway with his pulses pounding so hard that he
was at the point of shaking.
'Come on honey,' Anita coaxed guessing he was
shy
'the place is empty, so there's no need to feel
embarrassed.'
For a brief moment he hesitated just inside the
door. It closed behind them with the bouncer
remaining at his post outside. His main concern
was
how many people were inside and his attention
was
drawn to the bright lights of the bar where the
barman was replenishing stocks depleted by
                        209
customers the previous night.
From there his eye's wondered to scan the rest of
the clubroom. Long heavy drapes hung beside the
widows, indicating that it was still a little early
for customers. Tables and chairs were set out
neatly, indicating the cleaners had obviously
completed their morning chores.
'You're early darlings.' the barman greeted in a
very effeminate manner. 'What can I get you?'
Looking along the shelves behind the bar Scott
ordered. 'I'll have a Grouse whiskey. And you
Anita?' he asked turning toward her with a
134
questioning look.
'Champaign darling,' the barman cut in. 'That'll
be thirty pounds exactly.'
Scott peeled off a fifty pound note and tossed it
on the bar as if were nothing, bringing a smile
interest to the barman's face as he turned to Anita
with one of those, 'another sucker' looks.
She responded by brushing an imaginary itch at
the tip of her nose with her index finger.
Avoiding Scott's eyer's the barman reached
toward
a silver ice bucket until his palm came to rest on
the cork of an unopened bottle of champaign
which
he twirled around in the chipped ice before
removing it.
'Seems kind of quiet,' Scott ventured. 'Do you
have any music?
                        210
The champaign cork came out with a loud pop.
'Sure,' he smiled. 'The juke box is over there.
You'll need some tokens to make it work though.
They're five pounds each.'
Scott scowled. 'Even with my limited knowledge
of
your currency, I'd say thats pricey.'
'You won't think so when you get an eye full of
the video's,' the barman assured him with a wink.
Moments later he put a token on the counter for
Scott to retrieve. Sliding from the bar stool, he
reached out to touch Anita,s shoulder as he
passed
behind her. She sat suspecting nothing and gave a
mental sigh, expecting his hands to merrily caress
her bottom or reach arround to cup the weight of
her ample breasts in his hands.
Instead, his left hand gently caressed the curve
of her waist as he whispered in her ear.
'Now we're not going to make any silly noises are
we?'
As he spoke his right hand came to rest on her
right shoulder and from the corner of her eye she
glimpsed the Luger's barrel. She froze, her clear
skin breaking out into a sweat as her eye's swung
to the barman's back as he raised a glass to the
135
whiskey optic. Seeing their reflection in the
mirror behind the shelves, he froze as their gazes
met. Scott's were ice cold now as the Luger
swung
                       211
to cover the back of his head.
'You've got my undivided attention Sweetie,' he
said. 'I just work here for a wage and that doesn't
include getting my brains blown out.'
'Glad to hear it,' Scott, loosing the accent,
ordered quietly. 'Just freeze the way you are for a
moment and nobodies going to get hurt. Lay your
hands palms upward on the bar,' he said to Anita,
moving the Luger to point in her ear.
When she obeyed he placed a tube of super glue
on
the bar. 'Now I want you to put a single drop of
that on each fingertip and the press them on the
bar top.'
After she obeyed the barman was told to turn
around without altering his stance and he
complied
like a toy soldier still holding the glass of
Whiskey.
Covering him Scott reached across for the glass.
'Now stand directly in front of Anita and do
likewise with the glue.'
With that part of his ploy complete he raised the
glass and emptied it.
'On the house,' he said placing the glass on the
bar. 'Now, I've got no quarrel with you. It's
Rodriguez I'm after. Or to be more precise, the
wife and daughter of a friend of mine that he saw
fit to kidnap. According to my informant they're
being held in the basement flat.
                        212
The barman give a shrug and Scott looked
beyond
him to see Anita's reflection in the mirror.
'I don't owe him a damn thing.' she scowled.
'She's there all right and so‟s the kid.'
'That's good. Who else is down there?' Scott
asked.
'He picked up a a runaway last night. She's
probably still there.'
'A runaway,' Scott queried.
136
'A young girl who run away from a orphanage to
find fame and fortune in the big city. He'll have
charmed the pants off her by now and she'll be on
the streets in a week. If he hasn't got her on
drugs her yet he soon will have.'
'Why would he do that.' Scott asked.
'To keep her dependent on him for her supply.
Thats how most of us get started. For what its
worth, I hate the bastards guts. You'll get no
trouble from me on his account.'
'That goes for me too.' added the barman.
'Sorry' he apologized 'but I can't take any
chances. Pucker your lips as if you were going to
kiss,' then he proceeded to smear super glue on
them. 'Now I want you to kiss each other.
Mentally applauding Snow for his idea of using
super glue as a quick method of securing his
victims, Scott moved back the way he had come
and
opened the door to the main foyer. The bouncer
                       213
stood talking to another scantily clad hostess and
there was no one else in sight.
'Excuse me,' Scott pleaded apologetically to get
their attention, 'we seem to have a problem
getting
the video working.'
Both looked down as he brought the Luger into
view. 'You know what they say,' he continued
raising it to aim the weapon at a spot between the
bounces eye's. 'The bigger they are the harder
they
fall. Now get down and crawl in there on your
hands
and knees - and keep in mind that you'll get no
medals for heroics, just a bullet in the back of
the head. Ladies first.'
Working quickly, he soon had them both stuck
and
kissing across one of the tables. Satisfied, he
moved at the double to the front door and
beckoned
the tout.
'What's the problem guv? He inquired. 'Quick,
come to the bar there's been some trouble
between
the big chap and the barman. The girls are tying
to
calm them down but bloods going to be flowing
137
soon.'
Jesus Christ! I've told that meat head a thousand
                       214
times----. Oh never mind.
Without further comment he pushed past, flicking
the door shut with his heel. Scott brought the
Luger's butt down hard on the back of his head.
When he dropped like a stone Scott grasped his
feet
and dragged him into the bar and left him super
glued with the others before making for the door
leading down to the basement.
He was met by the boisterous antics of a
children's cartoon show some where below, and
with
the Luger pointing he made his way toward it.
The room was luxuriously furnished and a young
girl sat with her eye's transfixed to the colourful
antics of Yogi bear on the screen. Opposite was
the
kitchen. After checking that he moved stealthily
along the hall passing the bathroom on route.
There
were two more doors, one proved to be the dining
room, the other emitted a womans muffled cries
that
chilled the blood in his veins. He froze where he
stood with the Luger pointing at the door. The
cries grew louder by the second and the truth
dawned. She was obviously having an orgasm.
This he
calculated had to be the master bedroom.
Whether her cries were of sweet pain he neither
                        215
knew or cared. All he could imagine was the look
of
disgust on Snows face when he asked about
Rodriguez. Automatically he jumped to the
conclusion that he had used drugs on her in order
to subdue her while he satisfied his lust.
Shouldering the door open he barged in and for
the briefest moment he froze. She lay spread-
eagled
on the bed with her limbs tied to the bed posts,
while Rodriguez satisfied his lust on top of her.
'You dirty bastard!' he shouted striding forward
to ram the Luger in his ear.
Rodriguez turned, his passion died instantly as
his handsome swarthy face blanched. His mouth
sagged open as though to protest, but words failed
138
him as Scott's attention turned his attentions the
woman whom he recognized as being Snow's
wife.
'Take it easy, I'm a friend of your husband's.'
he said.
She remained silent, her wide eyed expression
indicted that she was petrified. To afraid he
thought, to face the reality of her embarrassment
at being found naked and being raped.
His eyes bore into those of Rodriguez and his
mind flashed back to their brief encounter several
years previously. His first reaction was to take
his revenge over the deaths of his father and
brother. But he restrained himself, thinking such
                       216
an act of brutality at close quarters might drive
Snow's wife beyond the limits of her endurance.
Instead he snarled at Rodriguez. 'Put your hands
behind your back, palms facing outwards!'
Releasing his grip on her shoulders, he withdrew
his hands from beneath her and Scott increased
the
pressure Luger's pressure as a reminder to be on
his best behavior. Then he spread super glue
lavishly over his palms before pressing them
firmly
against his naked buttocks.
'Now roll over towards me until you hit the floor
and lay belly down.' he rasped.'
'What are you going to me?' he asked.
'I'll have to give that some thought.' Scott
snapped. 'Just do as I say or I might decide to
blow your balls off.'
He rolled clear until landing heavily on to the
floor, leaving Scott free to untie Snow's wife
unhindered. Her eye's followed him in disbelief
as
he released her hands and she sat up as he moved
to
the foot of the bed to untie her feet.'
'You're looking at my body,' she declared in a
quiet lustful husky tone.
Her hands moved sensualy upward carresing her
body until they cupped her breasts as she raised
herself to kneel. 'You're not afraid to take me are
you?' she taunted, lowering her right hand to
                        217
139
sensually caress the pubic hair between her
thighs.
Scott swallowed hard, taken aback by this
unexpected turn of events.
'I love men who are masterful,' she continued. 'I
like them to treat me like I'm a woman with a
physical desire. What I don't want is to be placed
on a pedestal like some untouchable virgin
Queen.
She began to shuffle forward toward him on her
knee‟s as he stood dumbfounded.
'I wasn't being raped.' she continued. 'We've
been lovers for a long time now. He wanted me
like
that and I loved every precious moment of it. You
can tell my husband that when you see him. Tell
him
to find himself another virgin ice queen. You can
also tell him that I‟ve written some letters which
certain people would find very interesting if he
bothers me again. Now why don't you get the hell
out of here?'
'You must be this new wiz-kid of Stoddarts.
You're Scott aren't you?' Rodriguez rasped.
For a brief moment Scott glanced down him and
then back to Snows wife. His brain was having
difficulty in absorbing the situation. There were
questions he wanted to ask. Such as had she told
Rodriguez that her husband was an undercover
agent
                       218
working for the police?
If she had not, what the hell did she think she
was doing striking up a relationship with a man
who
husband would surely some day play a part in
sending to prison for a very long time. Knowing
asking such questions might prove disastrous, he
took a deep breath and asked one he felt safe
with.
'I came here at no small risk to myself, believing
that you and your daughter had been kidnapped.
Under the circumstances I think the least you can
do is to reassure me this is not the case. And that
you came here of your own free will, and can
come
and go as you please.'
'Kidnapped!' she laughed scornfully. 'I can't
imagine how my husband got such an idea into
his
140
head. I told him I was leaving a week before I
actually walked out. As you have already
witnessed,
I'm keen on bondage sex when he insisted in
treating me like a nun. That‟s the reason I left
him.'
'Did you tell him who you were leaving him for?
'No, I didn't think that it was any of his damn
business.'
The heat of her passion had began to cool and she
turned to Rodriguez in search of an answer.
                        219
'What do you know about this kidnapping
business?' she demanded. 'When you insisted I
was
to stay in doors for a few days with some one to
protect me at all times, you said it was because
you feared your rivals might try kidnap me in
order
to blackmail you.'
'And thats the truth, I swear.' Rodriguez
blurted.
'You're a bloody liar!' Scott blurted. 'You used
her to blackmail her husband into giving you
information that would help you wipe out
Stoddart,
so you could take over his business and get your
hands on the cocaine I brought in for him.'
'Okay, I admit that,' he agreed, looking at Snows
wife, „but that happened after you'd left him. It
had nothing to do with the way I felt – or still
feel about you.'
As he pleaded his case, naked and helpless on the
floor, he rolled from his belly onto his side so he
could look up at her. The sight of him lying
helpless began to trigger her craving for more sex
and she shuffled towards the edge of the bed on
her
knees.
'You're a liar,' she accused with wide eyes
glaring passionately.
Then turning to Scott she added. 'You can either
get the hell out of here or stay to watch. Tell my
                        220
loving husband what you've seen. Tell him that
this
is what I call being alive!'
Making a great show of her intentions, she
141
flicked one leg from beneath her and stepped
sensually over Rodriguez's inert body to place a
foot firmly on the floor beyond him.
'Now it's your turn.' She threatened huskily.
Scott stood completely agog holding the Luger
and
feeling about as welcome as a clown at a funeral.
Ignoring him, she raised herself as tall as she
could while bearing her weight on one knee and
one
foot.
'Jesus,' Rodriguez muttered hoarsely turning on
the flat of his back with his eyes glued to the
tiny triangle between her thighs.
She stretched, placing the other foot on the
floor to stand astride him with her firm breasts
standing proud. Looking up expectantly, he ogled
her supreme nakedness.
'If you want to do a deal for that cocaine give
me a call,' he offered without averting his gaze.
'You stitch Stoddart up and I'll split the proceeds
sixty-forty with you. Cash on delivery.'
Oblivious to his bargaining, Snow's wife arched
her back, raising her hands shoulder high,
forming
her slender finger's with their long manicured
                        221
nails into claws.
Realizing for the first time that he was about to
be the one playing the part of the bonded sex
slave, and that the depraved passion in her eye's,
combined with those clawed fingers, represented
the
prospect of much pain, Rodriguz‟s expression
changed to one of fear.
Scott stood riveted to the spot hardly knowing
what to do for the best. The threat of the Luger
evidently meant nothing. Using her body and the
depraved craving for bondage sex had rendered
him
completely useless.
Ignoring his presence she knelt astride
Rodriguez's upper thighs, her clawed fingers
reaching for his chest. They made contact and as
she drew them down, she manoeuvered her pelvis
forward until the lips of her vagina carressed the
142
length of his penis. His face screwed up in pain as
her talons drew blood, causing his face to distort
with eyes shut tight.
'For Christ's sake get her off me!' he pleaded.
'She'll to tear me to pieces!'
But his plee‟s only had the effect of being an
inspiration to her.
'It's what you desired when the boot was on the
other foot.' Scott said before quietly turning
away. 'You pays your money and takes your
chances.'
                        222
On reaching the street he hailed a taxi and
instructed the driver take him to the railway
station. En-route he tried to make some sense of
what happened back at the club. Like a man in a
dream he boarded a train for Dover wondering
how he
was going to explain it all to Snow.
He stared out of the widow until his eyes drooped
under the rapid flashing of scenery going by and
he
slept. The beauty of Snow's naked wife entered
his
dreams. Her long jet hair hanging down like a
horses a tail to the small of her back and her
large brown eyes beckoning him to her bed.
The carriage swayed and the clatter of iron on
iron as the passed over an intersection, brought
him back to a state of limbo. The beauty of her
faded for a moment, but returned as he strove to
recapture and enjoy his dream of her
nymphomania.
He awakened at Dover to join the bustling throng,
still not knowing what to tell Snow, and dreading
such an encounter he hailed a taxi to convey him
to
the camp site.
Desperate to delay the inevitable he glanced
along the rows of mobile homes until he eyes
came
to rest on the only brick building on the site. The
supermarket.
                        223
'Are you feeling Okay?' the cab driver inquired
as he paid his fare.
'I get car sick,' he lied. 'I'll be fine in a
couple of minutes. Keep the change,'
Turning toward the supermarket he realized that
143
the last thing he needed was to join the crowd of
shoppers. Deciding to face Snow with as much of
the
truth as he deemed necessary, he headed for the
Pasadena mobile home where he had left him
guarding
Callan and Simmons.
The lounge was empty and no sound came from
any
of the other rooms. A search revealed no sign of
life or of a struggle, yet he had a deep sense of
foreboding. Snow had been in no condition to
travel
very far and it was most unlikely he would have
been able to keep his captives under proper
supervision if he had.
After checking the Luger, he made his way to the
Rhondo, the the mobile home where Snow had
been
savagely beaten by Callan and Simmons.
He gave a single wrap to the door and let himself
in. Closing the door, he sensed that he was not
alone when, out of the blue Stoddart stepped into
view with a Colt automatic pointing at him.
'I figured you'd come back to the scene of the
                       224
crime bonny lad.' he accused. 'Lean against the
wall and spread your arms and legs.'
'What the hell's going on?' Scott asked raising
his hands.'
'Just do it!' Stoddart snarled pointing the colt
at his head.
Scott knew this was no idle threat, for Stoddarts
eyes had a wild look about them. He did as
ordered
and Stoddart moved closer, pressing the Colt
against his spine while he searched him,
After stuffing the Luger into his waist band he
rasped 'Okay. So what have you done with the
shipment? And what became of Snow?'
'The shipment should be on the seabed where I
left it, and Snow moved to the Pasadena just
before
I left. A couple of Rodriguez's men paid him a
visit while I was making the run last night. He
was
beaten up pretty bad, so he moved there for
safety.
'If the shipment is out there, why aren't I
picking up any signal from the bugging devices?'
144
'Probably because some prick didn't allow for
them being immersed in the sea.' Scott answered.
'And how do you explain all the bloodstains all
over the place.' Stoddart demanded.
'Like I said, Rodriguez' pals beat him up and set
a Rottweiler on him. They hadn't a clue what the
                       225
Pathfinder transmitter was. Snow managed to tap
out
a S O S message using morse code, and I caught
them
waiting for me down on the beach.'
'Well I'll believe you when I see Snow. We're
going to the Pasadena so he can confirm your
story.
And don't think you can take advantage because
there are people about. One wrong move and It'll
be
your last.'
'Snow isn't there. Neither is Callan and Simmons.
I checked before coming here.'
'If they have a Rotweiler dog with them I know
that trio. What was the dogs name?' Stoddart
asked.
'Brandy.'
'Are you willing to take me out to see where you
sunk the shipment.‟ He demanded.
'Not only will I take you down to see it, but
I'll bring it up if that's what you want. It's all
there. All twenty four canisters. And I'd say
there's considerably more in each one than we
agreed.' Scott criticized.
'Never the less, you'll get your cut. I guess
you're telling to truth so you can relax.'
'I could do with a drink and a smoke.' Scott
said. 'My nerves were just about stretched the
there limit before I got back here and your
reception hasn't exactly helped.'
                       226
'I wonder where Snow has got too,' Stoddart
pondered aloud. 'It's not like him to wander off
without letting me know.'
Scott lit a cigarette and inhaled. It struck him
as being strange that Stoddart hadn't inquired as
to where he had been during his absence, but he
was
glad of that small oversight.
After mulling over his thoughts of what he had
145
discovered about Snow and Haynes, he decided
to let
sleeping dog's lie.
'After all,' he thought. 'The shipment was safe
and as soon as the deal with Dieger was
complete,
he would have his share of the proceeds. More
than
enough to satisfy his dream of setting up his
business in Spain.
'In my opinion he wasn't in any condition to go
wandering any farther than the bathroom.' Scott
assured. 'He took one hell of a beating and unless
some one happened to have some super glue
solvent
in their pocket, I can't imagine Callan and
Simmons
getting very far.
'Maybe Rodriguez sent some one else down to
keep
an eye on them and he set them free. It would be
                       227
just like him to cover his arse.' Stoddart pondered
aloud. 'On the other hand, the way things have
been
going lately, it might be a good idea if we
checked
to make sure the shipment is still where you left
it. Maybe Rodriguez was down here all the time
and
persuaded Snow to tell him where the shipment
was
while you were out. They could even have done a
deal together.'
'Without my precise knowledge it would take a
month of Sunday's to find it with those location
bugs out of action,' Scott assured.
'I guess you're right bonny lad.' Stoddart agreed
amiably. But catching Scott looking at him the
way
he did, it didn't strike him as the kind of look
one man gives another during the course of a
normal
conversation.
It was direct, almost as if he was trying to
search beyond his eyes in order to uncover a
guilty
secret.
'I need a drink,' he sighed. Turning away with a
deep sense of guilt he asked. 'Have you had
anymore
bright ideas?'
'About what?' Scott asked.
                        228
'Like last nights job and your idea of using
torpedoes.'
146
'A couple as it happens. One I'll keep to myself
for the time being; the other should be right up
your street. The only problem is the timing.
While he speaking, Stoddart turned toward him
raising his glass to his lips, and in that instant
Scott saw death and betrayal in his eyes. Now
there
was no doubt in his mind that Stoddart had
murdered
Snow, Callan and Simmons and had probably
dumped
them and the dog far out to sea. Whether he had
uncovered the links between Rodriguez, Snow
and
Haynes was another matter.
'Timing!' Stoddart said. 'Whats wrong with our
timing?'
'Snow said that you had a buyer for the shipment
and that you were moving it tonight.'
'That's correct.'
'Since you didn't ask where I'd been all morning
I'll tell you. Some years ago I suffered a personal
tragedy and have been searching for the man who
caused it ever since. I saw him briefly at the time
it happened and I saw again this morning. His
name
is Rodriguez.'
'That bastard again. How does that fit in with my
                        229
plans?' Stoddart asked.
'I'd say that he's caused you more than his share
of trouble lately and I think he would give just
about anything to get his hands on that shipment.
Mostly because he's desperate get rid of you so he
can take over your business interests.
What I'm suggesting is that I pretend to double
cross you and offer him the cocaine at a price that
you think he can just about afford, and it's to
juicy a deal for him to refuse.'
'How do you propose to achieve that without his
realizing that all you really want is revenge.'
Stoddart? Challenged.
'Because I was only in my mid teens when I last
saw him and I've grown quite a bit since then.
Apart from that I never let on that I recognized
him.
147
Stoddart pondered for a moment on the prospects
settling his own grievances with Rodriguez.
Then,
as his mind raced on to explore the more devious
aspects of causing him lasting pain, a cold
calculating smile spread over his face.
'Why don't you forget all this crap about moving
out to Spain and set up with me. You'll live like
royalty and nothing but the best will be denied
you. There's nothing on Gods green earth that the
almighty dollar can't buy.'
Like a drowning man grasping a straw, Scott
realized that if the offer was genuine, Stoddart
                        230
would feel secure from any repercussions
following
his dealings with Haynes, if Dieger had related
them to him, as he suspected.
'I'm bound to admit that although your offer has
a lot of appeal it's not how I envisaged my future'
Scott admitted. 'Even though my brain seems to
have
a natural aptitude for this sort of business. I
didn't set out to have these ideas, they just come
into my head of their own accord.
Standing here thinking about the millions I could
make with very little effort at virtually no risk,
I realize that turning down your offer would be
plain stupid. So with one reservation, you've got a
deal.'
'Spit it out, bonny lad. Put your cards on the
table so we both know where we stand.'
'I've been looking for Rodriguez for a long time,
so I'm not going to let him off the hook. Not at
any price,' Scott emphasized.
'If I reveal my next idea, you may feel that my
vendetta and your own might put our future plans
in
jeopardy if we carried it through'
Realizing that he had given him the opening to
urge him to reveal his idea without appearing to
forceful, Stoddart hedged his bets.
'Being cautious is second nature to me. I want
that bastard so bad I can taste it, but I can't
allay your reservations unless I know what you're
                        231
148
talking about. Why don't lay your cards on the
table and trust my judgment? After all, I've been
around a long time and so far survived everything
life has thrown at me.'
With an inward smile, Scott allowed his face to
reflect a few moments hesitant brooding.
'Okay,' he said, 'I suppose it's common sense to
start as we intend to go on.
As I see it, when the torpedo project across the
Channel gets underway, it will only be a matter of
time before the market gets saturated and the
street prices will drop. Admittedly by that time
we'll have made a fotune that could be invested
for
a good return.'
Scott kept a watchful eye on Stoddarts face as he
spoke and could visualize his brain ticking over,
thinking about how a saturated market registering
as a slump in prices would creep back to his end
also. This would result in more violent gang wars,
treachery and consequently the enlistment of God
knows how many investigators to stop the flow
from
across the Channel.
'My alternative is to go international by
investing some of the profits of the cross Channel
venture in a fast attack craft, which I'm sure my
friend Dieger could supply.
The type I have in mind is a Soloven class, such
as used by the Danish navy. It has a top speed of
                       232
fifty-four knots and is just short of a hundred
feet long. That makes it suitable for ocean going
voyages. It has the potential range of four
hundred
and sixty nautical miles before the need to refuel.
That can be increased by fitting extra fuel tanks
to make up for the displacement gained by not
being
armed for the purpose it was built.
Obviously this would be carried out whilst
converting it into a luxury yacht, leaving only its
torpedo tubes intact. Naturally they would have to
camouflaged.
The goods would obviously be delivered by
149
torpedo, only on this project they would be long
range and controlled by computer, which puts our
vessel outside the range of coastguard vessels,
and
in many cases in international waters.
We could run along the coast, say of the U.S.A
delivering shipments without getting closer than
sixty miles. Any approaching vessel could be
picked
up on radar and outrun with our superior speed.
As an added protection, if we use detection
device fitted to the torpedo's, we could allow
them
to sink off shore as we have done with the buoy‟s,
and retrieve them at our leisure for the
recipients.
                        233
These I would suggest would be our own people
so
that after they are unpacked they could arrange
for
them to be returned and be made ready for re-
use.'
As he spoke, Stoddarts mind visualize every
stage, as he considered getting fresh supplies as
it traveled the oceans like wartime a surface
raider.
For the first time began to see himself as an
international drugs baron with none to equal him.
Not even the gnomes of Zurick, or the fabulous
oil
rich sheiks would be able to command more
finance,
or the power that came with it.
He imagined a single torpedo packed with two
hundred a fifty kilos of cocaine or heroin, valued
at hundred's of thousands of English pounds at
street level, speeding across to its destination
offshore delivering the goods.
There was tens of thousands of miles of coastline
belonging the United States alone. And countless
heavily populated cities with their countless
addicts, pushers and barons to keep supplied. His
mind boggled at the possibilities.
Brilliant,' Stoddart complimented
enthusiastically. 'Your idea has great
possibilities. I'm amazed the no one has thought
of
                       234
it before.
Secrecy is going to essential. If organizations
150
such as the Mafia were to get wind of this they'd
stop at nothing to usurp the idea before we get it
off the ground.'
'Agreed,' Scott admitted 'but what about our
friend Rodriguez? Must I live with the burden of
knowing that he's spared my vengeance so as not
to
jeopardize any future plans?'
'I think not.' Stoddart said after a moments
thought. 'Like you bonny lad, I find his continued
presence dominates my every thought. He's here
when
I close my eyes before I go to sleep and he turns
up in my dreams.
What I suggest is that I make arrangements for
the sale to go ahead, but you'll hold one container
back.
You can get in touch with Rodriguez. Tell him
that you've cheated me out of one container,
saying
it got lost at sea during you pick up, and you
think its street value would be around two
million.
Give him a hard time before accepting his offer,
and make it plain that you want cash on delivery
and you will only deal with him in person.
He'll try to dictate the place of exchange.
Partly because he's not the most trusting soul, and
                        235
partly because he'll no doubt try to get it without
paying.
Demand the trade will be made off shore here in a
launch at night. Explain that you'll be out fishing
as a cover near the spot and that you'll retrieve
the goods from the seabed when he shows up
with the
cash. In his case I'd advise you arm yourself with
one of those evil looking spear guns just just in
case.
'I'll be watching from on shore and once you have
done the deal, you head for the sea bed out of
harms way. I call the 'old bill' so he can get
caught dead to rights with the goods. That ought
to
get him put away for a nice long spell.
Don't come back here, go to the Kings Head at
deal. Ask for Ruben the manager, and tell him
your
151
name, nothing more. He'll be expecting you and
he'll take care of you until I arrive.'
'Sounds fine to me,' Scott agreed. 'What's the
form for tonight?'
'An ocean going luxury yacht is due to anchor off
shore some time during the night. As a matter of
trust you will accompany me so you can see for
yourself what cash agreements are made. I hasten
to
add that I had to drop the price by 25%. I realize
it's disappointing, but it does save time and the
                        236
risks involved in seeing it through to street level
where we could attain maximum profit.
I'm going down that road in order to get a quick
turnover so we can get this cross channel deal
under way. If we progress with that we'll soon
have
the finances to progress with your latest idea.
With the two ventures running we should make a
real
big killing in no time.
Right now you look ready to drop. I suggest you
get some sleep if you don't mind my saying so.'
'I couldn't sleep if I tried.‟ Scott admitted.
„My brain's pounding like a high speed diesel
locomotive. I think I might go for a long swim
and
then grab a couple of beers. Maybe that'll slow
me
down.'
'Why don't you get those oxygen cylinders
recharged while your about it?. There's a water
sports section at the supermarket. Just tell the
manager that you work for me and sign for
anything
you need. He'll charge it to my account.'
CHAPTER 6
The sun was high, bright and unusually warm as
Scott picked his way through the crowds of sun
bathers lying on the beach. Dogs barked as they
bounded after sticks and balls thrown by their
owners and children splashed in shallows.
                        237
Further out were swimmers ranging from
teenagers
to old aged pensioners. Beyond were craft
ranging
152
from inflatable dingies fitted with outboard
motors
to high speed power boats.
Many a head wearing snorkels and goggles
probed
the inshore depths, while occasionally a figure
clad in a wet suite and aqualung, like himself,
surfaced before disappearing again.
Apart from the two extra oxygen tanks he was
carrying, Scott blended in with them. As he
waded
in chest deep, no one paid him attention. He
began
to wonder if he'd made a mistake in not taking a
boat to make his task easier, but he realized that
it would also act as a marker for his dive if
Stoddart was shrewd enough to be watching.
Shuddering at the thought of being under
surveillance, possibly by him, for he was forever
suspicious, he ducked beneath the waves and
began
to swim steadily out to sea.
Timing himself, he surfaced after twenty minutes
to get his bearings from two distant land marks.
But the distance seemed entirely different in
daylight.
                       238
Thankful for the opportunity to locate the
narcotics haul before its planned retrieval, he
began a systematic search of the seabed. Using
small mounds of rocks as markers, he moved in
ever
widening lines.
Soon the seabed began to show more growth of
seaweed and the scanty supply of rocks were
much
larger. Carefully he searched on until, what
looked
like an orange football stood out amid some long
kelp drifting in the currents, marking the spot
where he had sunk the catamaran.
Everything was much the same as he recalled
except the swirling current trailed the long fronds
of kelp about the decks and outboard motors like
beckoning arm's of menacing ghouls.
In an effort to get a more reasonable bearing he
he struck out for the surface and as he suspected,
he was further out from the shore line than he had
intended.
153
Some five hundred yards away a powerboat raced
parallel to it. The closest life to that was at
least another thousand yards away on the beach.
Satisfied that the site was well off the beaten
track he returned to the depths and paid out more
line, so the marker buoy hung some ten feet
below
the surface. But while kneeling down in the
                        239
tranquil depths to perform this task, for no reason
that he could explain, he felt as though he was not
alone.
His muscles stiffened, his heart pounded. His
skin tingled as a hot flush swept from the tips of
his toes right up through to his scalp, giving a
claustrophobic feeling inside his wet suit.
Remaining crouched on one knee amid the
waving
kelp fronds, he turned slowly to peer through the
tranquil waters. The only sound was that of the
escaping spent air as it rose in a steady steam of
sparkling bobbles to reach the sunlight on the
surface, some fifty feet above.
A three hundred and sixty degree sweep produced
produced no sign to indicate the presence of other
human life, yet the feeling that irksome persisted.
Certain that he was in no immediate danger he
stood upright, and facing the shore began a
second
slow sweep to his right and then stopped.
Through the wall of water, almost at the farthest
reaches of his vision was a blurred shape. Even
before his feet left the catamarans deck, a choking
lump rose to his throat. Every thrust of his
flippered feet increased a feeling of nausea that
began to ferment in the pit of his stomach.
A few feet away he stopped, and kneeling down
amid the flailing kelp he made the sign of a cross.
For there, standing solemn faced, with eyes
closed
                        240
heads bowed and hands still super glued to their
buttocks, stood Simmons and Callan. Snow stood
alongside, his eyes wide open, floating lazily with
elbows bent. His fingers were interwoven into a
double handed fist, just inches from his open
mouth
154
as if in payer. Or as though in death he was
pleading to be avenged.
Stunned, his feet beat down into the kelp and as
it swirled around chest, Stoddarts name came to
mind, but he was unable to take his eyes off the
shiny steel handcuffs securing Snows wrists.
Due to the presence of the handcuffs Haynes'
name
also came to mind. After the allegations made by
Callan and Simmons this was also a possibility. If
that were the case it proved how had he been kept
abreast of currant up to the minute events.
The awesome figure of Snow held a strange
fascination for him and he began to wade through
the kelp toward him. Brushing the fronds aside he
discovered a bag of stones tied to his feet,
presumably to keep him anchored to the seabed.
Only
then did he find a fourth body. It was Rodriguez.
And while the others appeared not to have any
wounds, he had been shot through the back of the
head.
Figuring that he and Haynes had done for Snow,
                        241
Callan and Simmons, he too had served his
purpose.
And now presented a danger as a witness that
could
have him sent down for life, he had now paid the
ultimate price.
This in turn would mean Haynes would have to
eliminate all those concerned, with the exception
of himself and Stoddart, if he was in fact after
getting his hands on the cocaine.
He paused for a moment to consider that
possibility. Had he been allowed to live because
he
alone knew exactly where the cocaine was
hidden.
And possibly Stoddarts ticket was because he had
more chance of persuading him to retrieve it from
its hiding place.
The dark weed strewn seabed gave way to fine
sand
as he approached the shore, bringing forth the
growling engines and the sound of gleeful holiday
makers. When he emerged, his conscience
continued
to bombard him with questions.
155
Still brooding he considered walking away to
loose himself in some out of the way place. But
with the few thousand pounds savings plus
Stoddarts
contribution, it would still be difficult to get by
                        242
unless he could find work.
Pursuing his insurance claim would be out of the
question. Haynes would be well clued up on that
and
soon track him down through that avenue. It
appeared that his only course of action was to
continue until the cocaine‟s was retrieved. And
then, after satisfying the greed of those
concerned, he might just able abscond without
inviting any pursuit or animosity.
Thinking along those lines, he decided this might
well work. All he needed to do was have a good
supply of oxygen at hand when the retrieval took
place. With that he could swim undetected for
miles. In all probability he would be presumed to
be lost, and concerned will have got what they
wanted. The spare tanks he had were still full, so
he back tracked and secured them to the
catamaran.
An hour later still brooding he finally left the
water to trudge up the the beach, oblivious to
noisy activities of those around him. The soft
sand
gave way to neatly mown lawns. And before he
realized he was standing reaching at the door of
the holiday home.
He hesitated with hand hovering as he reflected
the choices he faced. To enter could still mean a
great deal of wealth and a life of comparative, if
not extreme luxury.
If his ideas became reality, money would spout as
                       243
though from an everlasting fountain, with foreign
travel a normal part of every day life.
The price would be the ever present prospect of
being arrested and the risk of death through his
unlawful, treacherous dealings.
Once again he contemplated turning back but he
knew that if he tried acting honorably by
reporting
everything to another police force, Haynes would
156
move heaven and earth to implicate him. That
could
mean a long term in prison, possibly served in the
same one as Haynes.
Taking a deep breath he entered, dreading the
expected confrontation's to come. All was quiet.
He
guessed Stoddart was still sleeping and his chest
heaved. After filling his lungs, he let it out in
the form of a sigh of relief.
Making his way to the bathroom, he stripped in
preparation for a shower, and for the first time in
his life felt naked beyond the point of simply
being undressed.
Gazing around in search of those hidden ears, his
skin began to crawl at the thought of being
secretly observed. So with a mixture of anger and
distrust, he stepped into the perspex cubical and
drew the curtain across the aperture.
Turning his back to the hot spray he allowed the
rivulets to jet over his shoulders and down his
                        244
chest before setting to work with a sponge to
lather his body with sweet smelling soap. With
the
silky hot foam easing the tension from his aching
muscles, he spent several minutes in pleasurable
contemplation of using those suspected secret
ears
as a means of setting a trap to ensnare Haynes in
a
web of his own intrigue.
'Hell man, it's like a sauna in here.' Stoddart
complained, disrupting his thoughts.
'Sorry, the trip took longer than I expected. I
ached from head to foot by the time I got back.'
'Did you locate the shipment? Stoddart inquired.
He turned off the shower and stepped out of the
cubical.
'Sure,' he answered, moving toward a mirror set
into the tiling above the hand basin. 'it's all
there just as I left it.' he assured.
Then reaching out, he wrote in the steam. 'I'm
sure this place is bugged' and Stoddarts face
blanched, his face a stony mask.
'The hell you say?' he whispered quietly.
157
'I surely do,' he whispered back with a knowing
wink, then added in a louder tone. 'The whole kit
and caboodle is just sitting on the seabed just
waiting us to retrieve it. It's a pity the pub's
closed, because I feel like celebrating, don't
you?'
                       245
Stoddart looked straight in the eyes. 'No I damn
well don't', he scowled. 'I'm as hungry as a bear –
can you cook?'
'Eggs, beans and chips about my limit though.
Don't you have a restaurant around here?'
'Sure we do, but mostly they serve eggs, beans
and chips.' Stoddart jested.
'Thank Christ for that,' Scott jested. 'It's got
to be better than my cooking.'
His revelations about bugging had thrown
Stoddart
completely off balance. The implications had sent
his mind reeling and he answered Scott's
questions
with the first thoughts that came into his head.
As the truth began to dawn, his first thoughts
were to put as much distance between himself
and
the holiday home as soon as possible. Unwashed,
unshaven and wearing only his underpants he
turned
to leave the bathroom. But when Scott continued
speaking as though nothing was wrong.
'I've finished here.' he said, touching his nose
with his index finger. 'Don't forget to shave. You
look like some old Dosser with that speckled
stubble. The chances of our getting served at the
restaurant with you looking like that are minimal
I
should think.'
Guessing that Scott had something he wanted to
                        246
discuss whilst the razor was buzzing, he reached
out for his it, but to his surprise Scott opened
the door and began to exit.
'Where are you going? ' he asked.
'To get dressed. I'll brew some coffee while I'm
waiting for you. Take your time. I'm not so
hungry
that I can't wait for you to make yourself
presentable.'
158
Stoddart opened his mouth to reply, raising his
hand in an effort to give some emphasis to his
words, but Scott had already retreated out of
sight. Realizing that if he was right, anything he
said might be overheard, he lowered his hand and
closed his mouth, shaking his head with a
despondent sigh.
Turning toward the shower with arms out
stretched and palms facing upward, he looked at
the
ceiling in a gesture of futility and exasperation.
'May the saints give me the patience.' he
muttered.
Yet realizing Scott was so confident, he knew
that he must be sure about something specific. So
turning on the shower as hot as it would go, he
rotated, allowing the heat to soak into his body.
Gradually he began to relax and his brain began
to
function without panic. Realizing if Scott was
right about the bugging, any sign of a hasty
                       247
departure would be picked up and might force the
listeners to react prematurely.
His line of thought shifted to Scott; a likable
enough as a person he thought sceptically. But
there had been times when he thought him to be
naive and lacking the instinct of self
preservation, even to the point of murder when
the
stakes were high. His ideas were original on a
grand scale and he had showed no sign of
flashiness
so far. If anything, he was quiet and unassuming.
'I think maybe I've done you an injustice bonny
lad,' he admitted to himself. 'What's more I think
you and I are going to get on real fine when we
get
out of this mess.'
He stepped out of the shower. Water dripped on
the floor in contempt rather than carelessness as
he reached for a towel. Drying his face, he wiped
the steam from the mirror. After throwing the
towel
over his shoulder, he picked up the electric razor
and began to peer at his image as he removed the
stubble from his jowls. Time had taken its toll, he
159
thought, vieing his balding head and the
beginnings
of crows feet around his eyes.
Returning the razor to its holder, he poured a
generous puddle of after shave into his palm and
                        248
wiped the fiery liquid around his face.
'God that smarts' he cussed just as a thought
struck him.
Retrieving the razor, he removed the rotary head
as if for cleaning and found that it was not quite
as it had been the last time he had serviced it.
This one had been designed as a high-tec
electronic
listening device that drew its power from the
rechargeable
battery inside the casing.
'It could be that your arrival on the scene was
providential bonny lad,' he thought.
Entering the bedroom, he half expected to find
signs of panic. In fact he half expected to find
him packed and ready to for a speedy exit.
It came as no surprise that the only change was
the aroma of percolated coffee, and curious as to
the workings of his mind, Stoddart dressed
quickly.
Unhurried Scott sat in an armchair, sipping from
a mug while reading a magazine. The only sign of
his having taken any interest in was a second mug
of coffee on the table.
Stoddart picked up by the handle, caressing its
body with the other hand. When the heat stung,
he
knew that Scott was not as disinterested as he
pretended to be. In fact Scott had watched him
with
                       249
a bland expression from the moment he entered
the
lounge.
Stoddart raised the mug to his lips and noted a
secretive mocking quality about his eyes that he
found to be irksome.
'Something wrong?' he asked sharply.
Scott stood up, smiling broadly. 'I was just
wondering what my cut is going to be now that
you've done a bulk deal for the cocaine.'
Stoddart glared back. His first thoughts
returning to the fact that anything he said could
160
be over heard. Then realizing that Scott must also
have considered this aspect, and the answer could
not possibly be of any additional help to the
evesdroppers,
he deduced that he was up to something.
'I'm letting the whole consignment go for sixty
million. I paid twenty up front for it, so that
amounts to ten per cent of the forty million profit
as your share.'
'Thats a lot of money,' Scott remarked. 'My
putting that much in my account will draw a lot
of
attention.'
'We don't deal in cash for those kind of
transactions. We use automatic transfers, or deal
in diamonds after they have been authenticated as
genuine merchandise.
Diamonds are better because they are easier to
                        250
transport. Thats what you'll be paid in for what
it's worth.'
'Oh, I was hoping I could have some cash to live
on. If you're paying me with diamonds, that's
going
to complicate matters for me.'
This line of questioning aggravated. It seemed
that Scott was deliberately baiting him.
'No problem,' he assured. 'Let me know how
much
cash you need and I'll make out cheque.'
'Done,' Scott agreed placing the magazine on the
table.
Then wetting his index finger, he began flicking
the pages over until coming to a picture. It
showed
an American ship undergoing repairs at sea in a
purpose built floating dock. In addition to this it
showed how the mother-ship could take on ballast
to
partially sink, and how the stern doors could open
to allow the damaged vessel to enter.
Stoddart knew that he had solved the problem of
how to to keep a fast attack craft hidden and
resupplied during long voyages. In theory it
appeared to be child's play. The mother-ship
could
carry everything, including the fast attack craft.
It could remain hundreds of miles outside any
161
countries territorial waters. The fast attack craft
                        251
could speed away, fire its torpedo's loaded with
drugs and relocate before moving off the the next
rendezvous.
His gaze rose showing a beaming smile, 'A
picture
sometimes is better than a thousand words, bonny
lad. Shall we go eat?'
The grass was soft underfoot as they walked
along
the ridge above the beach. It was six o'clock and
although bright and warm, many families had left
to
go home. Scott's own stomach began to rumble,
but
Stoddart made not move toward the restaurant.
'How did you come to the conclusion the our
place
was bugged?'
'I found Snow, Callan, Simmons and Rodriguez.'
Scott said looking down at his feet. 'They're all
dead out there close to the shipment.'
'Jesus Christ! Why? How?' Stoddart stammered.
'To answer that I think we're both going to have
to bare our souls. A few minutes ago, I gave you
the final piece of the jig-saw. I did that for a
good reason. If you choose to continue without
me
because I have deliberately made myself surplus
to
your requirements, that's okay by me.'
Stoddart nodded thoughtfully, yet he guessed
                       252
Scott was not putting his his cards face up on the
table just for the sake of enlightening him.
'Fair enough,' he greed 'but it doesn't explain
your belief in the bugging – and so far you
haven't
produced any evidence?' He concluded, keeping
his
own discovery a secret.
'Go back to our first meeting to when I landed in
your swimming pool. I hadn't a clue who you
were
and all I knew about criminals was what I read in
the newspapers. Whether you believe that when
I've
finished talking is up to you.
Any way, you know because you arranged it, that
when I returned home everything I owned had
been
stolen.' At that point Scott gave Stoddart a sly
glance and saw his Adam's apple rise and fall.
162
'That was followed by Snow making me a very
generous offer to smuggle you back into the
country.' he continued. 'What you didn't know
was
in the mean time, I was summoned to be
interviewed
by the police about the robbery. Basically they
threatened to lumber me with having arranged it
for
                       253
the insurance money while I was out of the
country
unless I helped them. The deal was, that if I
agreed to help, they promised to clear me of
suspicion so I could collect the hundred thousand
pounds claim. In addition to that, I was to be told
the name of the man who caused the deaths of my
father and brother – one of whom proved to be
Rodriguez.
Scott continued, relating to all the event's that
followed, leaving nothing out. Stoddart listened
carefully and weighing up the pro's and con's as
the intrigue unfurled. When Scott finished he
remained solemn and quiet.
For a moment he thought of how many deaths
Scott
had been involved in by way of participation or as
an accessory after the fact. For a man unused to
such atrocities he had weathered well he
concluded.
Since their first meeting his life had been a
nightmare and Stoddart thought this was probably
the reason for his mind was forever dwelling on
methods of smuggling and why his ideas were so
unique. He concluded that he turned to such
thoughts as a way of shutting out those he would
rather not dwell on.
His revelations that Snow was working for
Haynes
shook him to the core, but intrigue of Haynes
astounded him even more.
                        254
As Haynes's part in the affair were revealed, he
thought here was a person who would always get
his
man or achieve his goal in life, whether it be for
promotion or to preserve the law for the law
abiding. Then Scott described the last sighting of
Snow shackled in handcuffs. Law officers just
didn't go around murdering their own men.
163
'Questions, questions, questions.' he sighed in
exasperation, shaking his head. 'I guess all of
this business has turned your world topsy-turvy
bonny lad.'
'That's putting it mildly.' Scott admitted.
'If it's any consolation, although you have put
forward some great ideas, you've turned my
world
upside down too.
That cocaine represents just about every penny
that I could beg borrow or steal. I can see now
that Dieger is giving me the run around to get you
off the hook. On top of that it sounds like Haynes
has abandoned his designs of controlling
London's
twilight world and going for the big time stuff.
What's bothering me is Claude Durac; the captain
of the hydrofoil. He's given me no hint of there
being any problem's, which poses some
question's.
If Haynes is behind all this bugging business,
will he pull the rug from under our feet tonight if
                        255
we go ahead?.
Will he try to grab to cocaine and the sixty
million in diamonds, or will he try to cut himself
a deal at the expense of our future plans?'
'Perhaps the answer lies in considering the
alternative.' Scott suggested. 'We could leave the
stuff where it is and return for it at a later
date. That would at least make Haynes look silly
if
he takes control of Dieger's yacht, the Sea Queen.
If we don't show, he will be in the clear so he
can't be charged.'
'True,‟ Stoddart agreed. „But if Haynes doesn't
react as we think, I shall have lost my credibility
with my American contacts. Then what am I
supposed
to do with no more finance and a the shipment
temporarily out of reach?
Haynes, in his official capacity, will make sure
that I never set foot on British soil to sell it.
And with the American market dubious, that
leaves
me with European market. With my contacts over
there I could buy a whole mountain of the stuff
but
164
selling it is another story. I'd be dead in a weak
if I tried to horn in on the street level markets.'
'Let's try another tack,‟ Scott suggested. 'We
both know that to be convicted you have to be
caught in possession. And we're also fairly certain
                        256
that Haynes is after the whole shipment.
There's no way that he's going to try anything
until the shipment is actually landed. That in
itself gives us two elements of surprise. One,
we're pretty sure that he's going to be there. And
two, there's no way he's going to make a move
until
at least one of the containers has been landed and
tested.'
Stoddart turned toward Scott, wagging a finger as
though to reprimand him for some misdemeanor.
'Ah,' he said 'now I see where you're heading.
We'll go ahead as planned, only you won't be
coming
on board with me as we intended. You'll leave a
few
minutes after me wearing your diving gear and
head
straight for the shipment. Then wait for me to
give
you the all clear before you bring anything up.
I'll take a flashlight. One continuous beam for all
clear, and if you don't see anything it'll be a no
show job.'
Satisfied with their arrangements, they headed
for the restaurant where Scott took a seat by the
window, while Stoddart used the public telephone
outside.
'Would you like to order?' a young waitress asked
as Scott looked up to meet her gaze.
'Two coffee's please. One white and the other
                        257
black. I'll have two poached eggs with lightly
done
yokes on toast with a half dozen rashers of lightly
cooked bacon. My friend will order in a minute.'
'Your friend,' she queried giving him an odd
look.
'He's on the telephone outside.'
'Oh,' she said. Would you like a sweet?' she
inquired offering the menu.
He propped it up against the salt and pepper
165
cruet set.
'Deep dish apple pie with a double helping of
fresh dairy cream please.' he ordered as Stoddart
joined him.
'Would you care to order sir?' asked the
waitress.
Glancing at the menu, his expression turned from
disappointment to disgust. Scott smiled at what
he
thought he must be thinking of the 'chips with
everything fare.'
'Better make it a couple of poached eggs on two
toast. And I'll have the apple pie with cream to
follow.'
'Snap,' Scott grinned. 'They say great minds
think alike.'
'So they do, bonny lad.'
Turning his back to the window, Scott glanced at
the faces of the many customers. A reasonable
cross
                        258
section of any average holiday campsite
community.
Giggling girls with their pink faced boy friends.
A
group of louts that were a little on the boisterous
side; and a few families of mother, father and
children.
'Do you have any son's and daughters?' Scott
asked.
'Just one daughter. You're not married are you?'
'No I'm still waiting to be swept off my feet.'
Scott admitted. 'I tried living with a girl friend
but it was doomed from the start. When I get up
in
the morning I like to be quiet and preferably
alone
for an hour or two. She liked to have all the
latest pop music blaring until it drove me crazy.'
'And you wanted to start a business in Spain?'
Stoddart asked dryly. 'From what I've seen it's all
disco's. At night you can hear them for miles
around and they go on well into the early hours,'
'I can cope with that. It's when it's in the same
room that it gets me.'
'Tell me something,' Stoddart asked seriously.
'Why didn't you opt for taking your dues and
166
getting out of this game.'
'I keep asking myself that same question.' he
admitted. 'I guess it's the thought of finding out
                        259
if any of my mad cap ideas really come to
fruition.
You've got to admit there's a real challenge to
it. If anyone has used torpedo's before, I sure as
hell have never heard about it. Why do you do it?'
'I'm a rebel bonny lad. I've got this thing about
beating the system. Crime to me is like alcohol to
a alcoholic. When I get an idea in my head, such
as
the ones you come up with, nothing will passify
the
urge until I've tried my luck.
This latest one of yours as a for instance, is an
inspiration. Can you imagine what it's going to be
like if we can get it up and running?'
'Sure,' Scott grinned. 'But I was just
remembering your face when I first suggested it. I
bet you thought I was stark raving mad.'
'And that's a fact. „Stoddart admitted. „I
suppose it was because the idea it's self was bold,
untried and ridiculously expensive to set up.
To do the job properly it will need something
like a military operation, and secrecy is going to
be essential. I'm just hoping your friend Dieger
doesn't let us down when it comes to suplying the
gear.'
'He might not have been bothered about selling a
few torpedoes, but this is a whole new ball game.‟
Scott pinted out. „If we go the whole hog his sales
will total hundreds of millions. In fact it might
be worth giving some thought to offering him a
                        260
partnership.'
'You're joking!' Stoddart scoffed. 'This is going
to be the biggest money spinner ever. You don't
just give away things like that.'
'I wasn't thinking of giving anything away,'
Scott retorted. 'I was concentrating on the
possible problems of supply and demand. If he
was a
partner we could order anything we want and
have it
delivered where required without any fuss or
167
bother. And lets face it he has contacts all over
the globe.'
Stoddart chewed the last of his poached egg
before swallowing it and raised his fork to waggle
it at Scott.
'You could be right at that. It could save us a
great deal when setting the project up.'
'I wouldn't put it quite like that.' Scott
advised. 'It suggests we might be expecting him
to
supply everything on the prospect of getting a
share of the profits if we're successful.
Why not offer him a share of the profits, based
on his meeting our requests for supplies and
equipment.'
'That sounds a bit like blackmail before the
threat has been made.' Stoddart argued.
Scott smiled. 'No, it's making sure we get what
we want, where we want it, in preference to other
                       261
customers. And on the scale of profit margins
you're talking about, what's a couple of million
here or there?'
Stoddart thought about that for a few moments
before breaking into a smile. 'You remind me of
my
daughter in some respects.' he said.
Several years ago she pestered me and the missus
to take her to see the Blackpool illuminations.
The
first night, after we'd walked the Golden Mile, I
took them for a few drinks at the Queen's Hotel.
Thats a big public house just a few yards off the
sea front. They have pop groups singing and other
types of acts, and it was packed to capacity.
While I was battling to get served at the bar, my
daughter went off to powder her nose and within
minutes of her returning, one of the waitresses
beckoned us to an empty table. It seemed odd at
the
time, but I thought no more about it.
Having enjoyed ourselves so much we went back
the
following night. Sure enough it was packed again,
only this time, Margaret the waitress, spotted us
right off and beckoned us to a reserved table.
168
It turned out my bonny lass had given her a
twenty pound tip to see that we had reserved table
and a good supply of drinks. On top of that she'd
told her that I was in fact a talent scout from
                       262
London.
Now you're beginning to make me feel like she
did. I'm not taking you anywhere am I bonny lad?
I
maybe holding the reins, but you're doing all the
leading.'
'If that be the case,' Scott said with a hint of
sarcasm and a large measure of sincerity, 'I do
hope that in a couple of years you will look back
on this luxurious dinner and dance with some
fond
emotions.'
Stoddart looked down at the apple pie and
nonchalantly spooned the runny cream over it.
'One things for sure,' he reflected 'when you get
this far down there's only one way to go, and
that's straight up. Even the glasshouse grub wasn't
this bad, my bonny lad.'
'The Glasshouse?' Scott repeated.
Stoddart smiled at his youthful ignorance.
'That's an army prison where discipline is
spelled out with a mammoth sized 'D'. They
guarantee to set you free in one of three states of
well being. A highly disciplined soldier, a nut
case, or dead.'
'Dare I ask the obvious. Which of to two
categories would you put yourself in?'
'Highly disciplined, but very much opposed to
authority,' he replied somberly. 'And now bonny
lad, I think it's high time we took up the gauntlet
                        263
and challenged some of that authority which
doesn't
appear to be practicing what it preaches.'
Evening was closing in when they left the
restaurant. The throng of holiday makers had
dwindled to a few taking a stroll along the sea
front, but the beach was deserted. Out a sea was a
large white luxury yacht, cruising majestically
toward them.
169
'That will be the Sea Queen,' Stoddart observed.
'They'll be sending a launch in about an hour I
should think.'
Scott made no reply; he was remembering his last
sighting of Snow and co.
On entering the holiday home, Stoddart made
straight for the drinks cabinet.
'I suppose we ought to celebrate in anticipation
of making our first step toward a billion pounds.
I'm for a large Whiskey – how about you?'
Looking from the bottle Stoddart's face, Scott
guessed that he wanted to create an atmosphere of
expectancy to delude any eaves droppers. His
eyes
flicked to a tin of orange juice.
'Ain't you got any beer? He mimicked, and
Stoddart took his cue with a smile.
'Cigar? He offered.
'Why not. Might as well get used to the good
things life has to offer.'
Stoddart opened the large picture window and
                       264
watched the Sea Queen drop anchor a half mile
off
shore.
'I'm going to get myself a yacht like that some
day,' he called to Scott, who had gone into the
bedroom to change into his wet suite.
'You should be so lucky,' he called back. 'If I'm
not mistaken, the time to enjoy luxuries is going
to be your problem. This operation is going to
take
a lot of personal dedication.
'It reminds me of the old days.' Stoddart
reminisced. 'When you have the time, you don't
have
the money. And when you've got the money you
can't
spare the time.'
'You could make a super killing and get out while
you're ahead,' Scott suggested.
'Supper killing. Did you have anything particular
in mind? Stoddart asked, taking a long drag on
his
cigar.
'Nothing special.‟ Scott replied. „I'd put
everything into the cross Channel venture,
landing
170
consignments from Lands End to as far as Great
Yarmouth. The profits could be invested to equip
and supply a venture running from,' he paused for
a
                       265
moment as thought to think, 'lets say Miami.
Thats a well known hot spot for drugs, right up
the North Atlantic coastline of th U,S,A, into
Canada and as far as Newfoundland. Having
achieved
that, I'd head for Greenland with the spoils and
fly from there to where ever my fancy took me.
'Greenland,' Stoddart gasped. 'Bermuda would be
more my mark.‟
'As it would be to any outsiders who happened to
take a calculated guess at your plans.' Scott
pointed out. 'If you flood the U.S.A with drugs,
you can bet your bottom dollar that you'll
provoke
some keen interest from big established crime
syndicates – not to mention the Mafia. And you
can
guess what they're likely to do it they find out
your worth a billion dollars.'
'Who do you think we'll be dealing with, if not
the very people you're talking about?
'Is that what you've got lined up.' Scott asked
when he returned wearing his wet suite.
'Who else? They have the distribution net works
already set up and are hungry for supplies. And
they have the kind of financial resource's we're
talking about to pay for the shipments.'
'I guess you're right.' Scott ceded. 'Although I
wouldn't accept any of their dollar bills. You
could get palmed off with a load of counterfeit
stuff.'
                      266
'I plan to sticking with diamonds. I don't
profess to being an expert, but I can tell glass or
a dud when I see it.'
'Ah! There's a launch coming ashore.' Scott
indicated with a nod.
'Time to go and It'll be dark soon. Lets hope you
don't have any problems locating the shipment.'
'I don't anticipate any.' Scott assured.
With a grin Stoddart reached to shake his hand
171
before turning to pick up the telephone. After
dialing a number he spoke. 'It's time to go.'
Outside he took a deep breath, filling his lungs
to capacity while looking up at the clear blue sky.
Night was approaching and he guessed the yacht
would soon be ablaze with lights from stem to
stern. Allowing his lungs to deflate through
puckered lips, he thrust his hands deep into his
pockets and made his way to the beach.
As he topped the rise he was joined by an elderly
man. He was several inches shorter than himself,
with a roly-poly paunch and Stoddart turned
toward
him, nodding a greeting.
The man glanced at him over a pair of bi-focal
spectacles. 'Nice to see you again, Max.' he
greeted. 'It's been a while.'
They fell in step and began to walk slowly down
to the waters edge.
'Isaac,' Stoddart began ominously 'we've done a
fair bit of business over the years. We could
                        267
hardly claim to be bosom pals, but the truth is
that I'm expecting trouble on the yacht.
Isaac nodded, 'What kind?' he asked.
'There's a copper by the name of Haynes. He's
had
my places bugged and he's apparently been
dogging
my movements for quite some time. My
information is
that he's as bent as a nine bob note. „My guess is,
if he's on board and not in any official capacity.
I think he's after perloining my shipment and the
diamonds for himself.'
'Under the circumstances it would seem foolhardy
to continue.' Isaac remarked.
'Not necessarily so. If Haynes is as bent as I
think he is, neither he or any of his henchmen will
make a move until they have sight of the
shipment.
It's worth a whole lot more at street level than
the diamonds.
What I'm asking you to do is to carry out the
valuation. You'll not be breaking any law doing
that. When it's done, don't hang about. Come
172
straight back ashore, leaving me to carry on with
the trade. I've made my own arrangements if
there's
any problems after that.'
'Seems to me that my part of the business remains
the same. You've paid my fee in advance, so all I
                        268
have to do is earn it.'
'You're a good man Isaac. If this deal goes
through, I have even bigger ones in mind. A lot of
traveling will be involved, but it will be worth a
fortune to you.'
'I'm an old man.' Isaac shrugged. 'I don't travel
well these days and I don't particularly need the
money. Now my son is trustworthy and
ambitious. Why
not let me approach him on your behalf?'
'Sure, why not?‟ Stoddart agreed. „It's good to
keep things in the family.'
'Are you Stoddart? hailed the boatman when the
launch drew close.
'I am.' Stoddart called back.
'I was told to pick you and a diver up.' he
stated, making no move to aide the old man.
'Bonny lad,' Stoddart said, fixing him with a
hostile glare 'you can take us both on board or
leave us; whatever pleases you suits me just fine.'
Taking this as a rebuke, the boldness left the
boatman's face.
'Okay, okay.' he said. 'Take my hand and I'll
hoist you on board.'
With an effort and a boost from behind, Isaac
scrambled over the side and squelched in his
sodden
shoes to the stern where he sat down. Stoddart
waded to the bow and pushed his full weight
against
it. When it became buoyant, he hauled himself
                        269
aboard and made his way aft to sit with the old
man.
For a minute the boatman went astern, avoiding
there gaze. After clearing the shallows he turned
his attention to the controls, giving the engine a
burst of power ahead. Being aware of Captain
Titus
Duval's intense dislike of smoking in his
presence,
173
prompted Stoddart to sit back and relax with a
cigar.
'She's a beautiful boat,' Isaac ventured. 'It
must be nice to be so rich that you can afford
such
luxuries.'
Stoddart shot him a sideways glance.
'Come on,' he scoffed 'even if you could afford
one, you'd rather invest your money where there
was
no chance of it sinking to the bottom of the
ocean.'
'I suppose you're right,' Isaac nodded with a
smile. 'My Jewish blood wouldn't allow it. At
least
unless there were large profits involved.'
Stoddart chuckled. 'There's no fool like an old
fool.' he scoffed. 'You're looking as green as
grass already, and I swear you'll puke if we don't
get on board with a steady deck beneath your feet
pretty quick.'
                       270
Isaac raised his hand and brought it down on
Stoddart's knee. 'You're right of course,' he
smiled. „I'm just an old fool with envious dreams
that I wouldn't fulfill no matter how rich or
young. I have three gods. The one I give thanks
too. My family who are my reason for living. And
my
greed for gold, which I hope will keep me and
mine
safe from the poverties of this earthy existence.
For myself I ask for none of the luxuries of life.
Just to grow old gracefully with the a few home
comforts.'
'And with a host of grand children screeching
their heads off while you try to take an afternoon
nap in your favorite armchair no doubt.' Stoddart
added.
Isaac's pale blue eyes looked beyond the physical
things before him as he nodded in approval, as
the
happy faces of his children and many grand
children
came to mind.
'I suppose a man's wealth is only judged by the
houses, cars and yachts he owns, if he deems it to
be so.' Isaac speculated. 'Up until now I've never
174
given any thought to how life affects those close
to me – not real deep thought anyway.
Now that you mention it, I'm beginning to realize
the depth of family love and life it's self. The
                       271
funny thing is that I should gain such wisdom in
such circumstances as these.'
'Hey now,' Stoddart reproached 'you can cut that
out. I know what you're thinking and you can
forget
it. In an hour you'll be back on Terra-firma as fit
as a fiddle on your way back to your family.'
'God willing,' Isaac said turning away.
As if heralding the coming darkness, the Sea
Queens deck lights come on. The launch‟s engine
slowed to a purr and they gently nudged the
gangways landing platform. A moment later, the
boatman stepped nimbly over to secure it.
'Welcome aboard.' he said offering his hand.
Isaac stepped over cautiously and Stoddart
followed. As they proceeded up the steps he
raised
his cigar to take a last puff before tossing it
over the side.
At the top of the gangway a seaman stood on
watch
and the tension eased a little when Stoddart
recognized his face.
'The captain sends his compliments and requests
you join him in his State rooms.' he smiled.
'Thanks,' Stoddart nodded, noticing how quiet it
was. 'No parties going ashore tonight?'
'No sir. The captain's ordered a quiet ship with
no shore leave. Usually thats a sign that we we'll
sailing as soon as his business here is concluded.
If you care to follow me, I'll take you to the
                        272
captains state room.' The boatman offered.
After wending their way upward he knocked on
the
stateroom door and entered.
'Mr Stoddart and friend Sir.' he said.
In an instant Stoddart's nose set the alarm
bell's ringing, for there was the distinct sweet
tang of cigarette smoke lingering in the air. His
attention immediately focused on captain Titus,
who
175
was struggling to to get out of a deep cushioned
armchair.
'My dear Max,' he said with a strained smile. 'My
apologies for not piping you on board personally.
As you see, I have had a mishap and can just
about
hobble with the aid of crutch.'
Stoddart advanced, 'Please don't,' he pleaded
offering his hand. 'There's no need to trouble
yourself on our account. This is a business
colleague who has agreed to carry out the
valuation
for me. Captain Titus, this is Yithak Isaac.'
'My pleasure,' Isaac said courteously.
'Please make yourself comfortable,' Titus
invited. 'Can I get you something to drink?.
'A glass of milk, Isaac replied 'if it's not to
much trouble.'
'Don't even think such a thing – I drink it all
the time. I keep a fine cellar, but thats strictly
                       273
for my guests. Max here has a liking for brandy.'
'Under the circumstances, perhaps I'd best do the
honors,' Stoddart offered.
'Not at all, I'll buzz my steward.'
While he did so, Stoddart took the opportunity to
look around. The lounge was exactly as he
recalled
it from previous visits in Hamburg. The window
ports were closed, but the curtains remained open,
and the air conditioning purred quietly. All the
doors leading to adjoining rooms stood ajar, but
not enough to see into them.
Suddenly something moved and he turned to look
through the window port, but only the darkness
stared back.
'Getting jumpy,' he told himself, but he
continued to search for something solid to prove
his fears were justified.
The thick royal blue carpet bore no sign of blood
stains or that it had been ruffled during an
altercation that might indicate how the captains
leg had been injured.
None of the four brown leather armchairs showed
176
any sign of damage indicative of a violent scene.
The large matching chase long sofa suggested no
more than a body might rest upon it in complete
comfort.
A light rap on the door broke his concentration
and Titus looked past him to a uniformed
steward.
                       274
An icy chill zipped from the base of his neck
down
to the small of his back, for the captains steward
on his previous visit had been a Frenchman in his
mid thirties.
'You rang Sir? he asked.
Glancing at Titus's face he detected a flush of
dislike in his eyes.
'Could you get two glasses of milk and a large
Brandy for Mr Stoddart please?'
'Certainly sir. Shall I get the the milk from the
galley first?'
'No need. There's plenty in the cold cabinet.'
'Sorry Sir I forgot.' The steward opolgised.
During there previous dealings Stoddart had
noticed many things about Titus. He never drank
alcohol or smoked, or allowed anyone to smoke
in
his staterooms. And he only drank milk or
mineral
water, which was kept in a special compartment
in
the the cocktail cabinet.
This was a large highly polished wooden piece of
furniture, with legs that swept down from each
corner to run diagonally across the deck, crossing
at the center. When the front was pulled down to
form a serving platform, the middle doors slid
open
to reveal a selection of wines and spirits. The
lower part of the front, fashioned from small
                       275
strips of finely crafted interlocking wood, slid
sideways to reveal the cold cabinet.
With his suspicions aroused by the steward's
obvious lack of knowledge, Stoddart turned his
attention to back to him. He stood six feet tall
and was handsome by any standards, with
swarthy
face, blue eyes and dark hair.
From Scott's description he was almost sure that
177
this man was in fact Haynes. But in Scott's
absence
there was little chance of him being recognized.
'I'm feeling a bit on peptic side,' Stoddart
said. 'I think perhaps I'll join the captain in a
glass of milk.'
Not being familiar with the cold cabinet, the
steward faltered, but Titus quickly came to his
aide.
'He hasn't quite got used to things yet.' he
explained.
'I had to let Rene go home – he had some
domestic
problems.'
Stoddart nodded politely, feeling as though he'd
like to draw attention to the suspicious bulge
beneath the stewards armpit, but settled for
replying: 'Don't we all.'
Titus was growing more nervous by the minute,
and
when his steward approached with the drinks he
                       276
decided to cover his foolhardy and premature
appearance.
'I'm sorry,' he began as his steward stooped to
hand him his drink. 'It was foolish of me to try to
deceive you. This is my body guard Mr Chandler.
Purchasing Sixty million pounds worth of
diamonds
in Hamburg had it's drawbacks. Word must have
leaked out, because we had prowlers. Thats how
my
leg got injured. De La Tour, my contact in
Hamburg,
recommended a security guard.
'Hi,' Stoddart said with a strained smile. 'Now
since our business appears to be no secret to him,
might I suggest we make a start? My man is out
there by now waiting to recover the shipment.'
Titus agreed, placing his untouched milk on the
long low, gold and blue map-of-the-world coffee
table.
Pain showed on his pale sallow face as he
struggled to his feet. As his tall gaunt framed
hobbled to an adjoining room with Chandler in
tow,
Stoddart tried to fathom his reason for living. He
neither smoked nor drank, and although by
178
reputation, he liked to have a bevy of beauties of
the fair sex around, no one had ever known him
to
bed any of them. He traveled the world on his
                        277
luxury yacht, but apparently never went ashore.
All
his business was transacted on board or not at all.
For added security reasons, this was always done
off shore or in a harbour where visitors could be
easily vetted.
Titus was obviously growing more nervous by the
second. The door stood slightly ajar and Stoddart
stared through the gap with ears strained. Within
two minutes they returned with Chandler carrying
a
small leather briefcase which he placed before
Isaac.
'There are two hundred gems all told,' Chandler
stated 'They have all got individual valuations.'
'We shall see?' Isaac said sceptically as he
opened it, revealing many small packets
containing
a large selection of diamonds.
Producing an eye piece and a tiny set of folding
scales, he removed each one to inspect its quality
and weight, then jotted down what he thought
them
to be worth.
'These are fine gems,' he ventured without
breaking his concentration. 'Your prowler would
have done well had he got his hands on these.'
Titus's hand involuntarily strayed to his injured
leg. 'Absolutely.' he agreed.
Stoddart sipped his milk in anticipation as the
list on Isaac's note pad grew longer, and the total
                        278
at the bottom of each page acquired more digits.
After an hour, the milk soured in his mouth and
he longed for a cigarette. The merest hint of
tobacco smoke teased his nostrils again, and both
Chandler and Titus showed signs of detecting it.
'Might I beg the use of your bathroom?' Chandler
asked politely.
„Of course,' Titus agreed.
He pretended to treat Chandler's exit with bland
disinterest. When they heard what sounded like a
179
shot from a silenced hand gun, Tituse hissed. 'He
claimes to be an officer from the Customs and
excise, but he‟s lying.'
'Naughty, naughty,' Chandler mocked from the
doorway and Titus‟s head jerked up in shocked
surprise.
Stoddart saw his mouth sag open and his eyes
bulge in there sockets. When they glanced back at
Chandler, their blood chilled. With his arm out
stretched and his hand clutching and gun fitted
with a silencer, he shot Titus right between the
eyes.
'Need I elaborate on what will happen to you if
you don't order Scott to retrieve that Coke
shipment!' He snarled at Stoddart.
At that point the smoker staggered to the
doorway. His hand covered his forehead as blood
oozed through his fingers.
'You damn near blew it.' Chandler snarled. When
the man staggered back from whence he came,
                       279
Chandler turned and shot him again.
'I get the message.' Stoddart gasped.
'As for you old man. Because I need someone to
fence those stones, I'll allow you to live for as
long as you're useful.'
Wanting to know for sure who he was dealing
with
Stoddart asked the obvious. 'You're Haynes aren't
you?'
'That's right. I must admit I was tempted to cut
myself in on that deal you're cooking up, but the
time for that has passed. There were to many „Ifs
and Buts‟.
'What deal would that be?' Stoddart asked.
The one you've been cooking up with Scott.
Using
torpedoes and fast attack craft and so on. For a
man with no criminal record, he certainly has a
natural aptitude for it.'
'He's brilliant, make no mistake about that.'
Stoddart agreed.
'Doesn't it make you wonder about him though?'
180
Haynes asked with a sly smile.
'Not particularly. Should it?' Stoddart asked.
'It might be if you were privy to informed
circles as I am. Rumor has it that some
governments
have formed a special force to combat the big
crime
syndicates. Those smuggling narcotics in
                       280
particular. Apparently they are called the 'G Force
and they don't stop until they succeed.
'I hardly think they'll waste their time on the
likes of me. Up until a week ago I was just a big
fish in a very small pound compared to the
international syndicates.' Stoddart confessed.
'It could be that you have become a means to an
end.' Haynes pointed out. 'An avenue through
which
they might achieve their objectives.'
'If you're hinting that Scott might be involved,
forget it. It was me that was responsible for
wrecking his business, and it was me that set him
on the crime circuit. Your trouble is that you've
been on the force to long.'
Chapter 8
Scott watched as Stoddart fell in step with the
old man as he made his way to the beach. He
wondered who he was and why he had not seen
fit to
mention their meeting. Setting any misgivings
aside
he followed in their footsteps, pausing only long
enough on the grassy verge above the beach to
allow
the launch to reach the yacht. Only then did he
proceed to the waters edge and submerge into the
lonely tranquil depths.
There was much to do and he began to worry
about
things that might go wrong. There was no way he
                        281
could accept that Haynes would not misuse his
authority in order to board the Sea Queen and
then
vanish with the diamonds.
It would be a good prize that would set him up
181
for life, but he figured that he wouldn't settle
for half measures. He was to greedy. He would go
for the big killing and wait until he'd got his
hands on the cocaine, then commandeer the Sea
Queens launch to make his get-a-way.
Like a guiding light, the glow of the yachts
lights brightened the dark gray gloom ahead and
within minutes the long cigar shaped hull hung
above like an avenging angle.
He turned on his back to look up, fighting a
silent battle with his conscience over whether to
locate the shipment or board the Sea Queen first
to
asses the situation.
Guessing that if there was a problem Stoddart
would most probably take the oportuninity to
jump
over the side when giving him the signal to
retrieve the cocaine. That being the case he was
going to require an aqua-lung in order to elude
pursuit.
He pressed on until locating the catamaran.
Everything was exactly as he had left it, yet some
how the voice of his subconscious nagged at him
as
                       282
he knelt on the deck to take stock.
With all the containers accounted for, he began
to check incidentals. All three outboard motors
were still in place, which did nothing to ease his
worrisome mind. There were still two full jerry
cans filled of petrol secured to the deck.
After surfacing with the feeling that time was
slipping away, he began with a steady breast
stoke
in the yachts direction. By the time he reached the
outer rim of its halo of light, there had still
been no signal from Stoddart. Treading water for
several minutes he kept an eye on open for any
activity on board.
With the yacht‟s brightly lit deserted decks she
looked more like a ghost ship. Unable to contain
his anguished curiosity any longer, he dove
beneath
the hull and surfaced beyond the rim of light on
the lee side. The launch was still moored to the
182
landing platform at the bottom of the gangway,
and
on deck the duty watch stood motionless, leaning
against the bulkhead.
For a moment he considered calling from the
darkness in order to provoke some sign of life,
but
opted instead for a more positive action.
After moving to a point just forward of the yacht
                        283
he located the anchor chain where he left his
aqualung
and the one he had retrieved from the
catamaran. After hauling himself upward he came
to
a round mettle disc fitted below the bow. This he
knew was to stop rats getting aboard.
To overcome this obstacle he manoeuvred
himself
until he was actually lying flat with the chain
supporting his torso. Then with the greatest of
care, using the disc for support he clambered
over.
Then panting from exertion he climbed over the
bulwarks onto the fo'c'sle deck where he
crouched
to survey the scene for signs of life.
[For the sake of enlightening the unenlightened.
Fo'c'sle is the abreviation for Fore castle. This
relates back to the days when wars on ships were
fought with bows, arrows and spears from three
seaborne castles. The fore castle was at the bow,
the center castle amidships and the after castle at
the stern. Before clocks and watches became
common
place, the bell system for telling the time at sea.
One bell for each half hour of a four hour watch
that as is still practiced today. So when you here
eight bells ring the time will be Eight, four or
twelve of the clock]
For a full minute Scott remained motionless
                        284
watching for activity on the bridge. The dim glow
of a cigarette showed from within, indicating that
it was probably the officer of the watch standing
bye in preparation to make ready to sail.
Taking a chance he raced along the seaward side
to a companionway amidships. Pulling the hood
of
183
his wet suite back he cautiously crept up the
stairs straining his ears for any alien sound. All
was quiet on the deck, but lights showed through
some of the window ports which he checked.
Another set of steps gave access to the bridge,
and guessing the captains private state rooms
were
also located to the rear, he proceeded. But
catching the tangy scent of cigarette smoke he
paused with only his head showing above the
steps.
Twenty paces away a hand holding a cigarette
rested on the sill of a window port. A moment
later
there was a thud that sounded like the detonation
of silenced weapon. This was followed by a mans
head and shoulders jettisoning out to sag over the
sill.
'I warned you about smoking giving the game
away.' A gruff voice warned as the body was
yanked
back inside. When the window closed Scott
advanced
                       285
to peer through.
The injured man staggered to the doorway
clasping
his injured head as Haynes turned to shoot him
again. With a sneer of contempt he turned toward
the door where he spoke a few words with his
weapon
raised. He fired off another round and fearing
Stoddart was the victim he darted to the next
window and saw an old mans body sagging in a
chair.
For an instant he made eye contact with Stoddart
as Haynes scooped up a brief case and ordered
him
and and his elderly companion leaving the room.
Shaking with shock and feeling vulnerable on the
open deck armed only with a knife, he searched
for
a place to hide.
To the rear, the deck was open to the elements,
with only the life boats suspended in there davits.
Knowing what ever happened he knew that
Stoddart
would have to come out on this deck in order to
give the desired signal. With his mind racing, he
clambered on board one of the launches to check
its
means of propulsion, which proved to be petrol.
Feeling better by the second, he removed an
184
upholstered seat in the stern and located the fuel
                        286
tanks. Removing the glass fronted divers face
mask
from around his neck, he broke the flexible pipe
that supplied the engine and began bleeding out
the
spirit into into the face mask until it was almost
full.
Voices approached. 'Just remember,' Haynes
warned, 'any tricks and you'll be fiddling in hell
before you know it. Just give the damned signal'
The torch flashed three times but was not
answered.
„Why hasn‟t Scott answered,‟ Haynes demanded.
„Becaused we never aranged it that way.‟
Stoddart
countered. „All we agreed was for me to give
three
flashes and then take the Sea Queens launch out
to
pick up the shipment. Scott probably dived down
to
collect the first bouy as soon as he saw me flash
'Okay, I don't need reminding.‟ Haynes rasped.
'We had better get down to the launch.‟ Stoddart
advised. 'The shipment is several hundred yards
further out, and there's no way Scott's going to
keep diving and then have to cart it all that way
over here.‟
'What do you mean it's further out? You never
mentioned that before,' Haynes snarled.
'You didn't give me the chance did you? Stoddart
                       287
shot back.
For the first time Haynes felt twinges of panic.
The chances of them getting down to the
gangway
where the launch was moored without meeting
members
of the crew were low. Then there was also the
duty
watch standing by to be considered.
„Never mind that. We‟ll lower this one,‟ he
indicated with a jerk of his hand gun. 'Do you
know
how to work these things?' Haynes asked.
'No' Stoddart admitted 'but it shouldn't be to
difficult to work out. These contraptions are
supposed to be made simple just in case novices
like me have operate them in an emergency.'
Scott was on edge, visualizing the launch being
185
lowered. First it would swing out several feet on
its davits in order to clear the deck, where under
evacuation circumstances the crew and
passengers
would board before continuing down into the
water.
Knowing this would put him out of direct reach
of
Haynes, he steeled himself in order to do what he
knew he must do. Reassuring himself as to where
he
                       288
thought Haynes stood, he sprung up and hurled
the
mask of petrol at his face.
Haynes was fully alert, and as Scott began to
move he brought his gun up to bear, firing at
point
blank range. The petrol ignited in flight. And as
the fiery liquid rained over him, Haynes dropped
the gun and the diamonds while screaming in
terror
as he tried to beat the flames out with his bare
hands.
In blind panic he dashed to the side in an effort
to reach the water, but only succeeded in crashing
into the davits winch where fell writhing in agony
with the flames engulfing the whole of his upper
body.
As hardened as he was Stoddart stood shaking as
he rubbed his flash burned eyes. With the vision
of
Scott being jerked up to his full height under the
bullets impact, and peering through blurred
vision,
he scrambled up into the launch to find him
sprawled on the deck.
With the blood oozing from a chest wound, he
cradled his head on his knees while rummaging
his
pockets for something to staunch the flow of
blood.
'Can yo hear me bonny lad.' he cried, but Scott
                       289
was oblivious to his plea.
'Jesus Christ!' a voice called from below,
drawing his attention.
It was the duty watch from the bridge standing
aghast at the sight of Haynes.
'Never mind that scumbag!' Stoddart shouted.
'There's a man up here with a gunshot wound in
his
chest. If you have a medic on board, get him up
here on the double. If not, get this damn boat
186
lowered so I can get him ashore.'
The launch rocked slightly and Stoddart turned to
see an officer clad in his tropical white uniform
peering over the side.
'Get on the radio,' he shouted to the officer of
the watch. 'Tell HQ that we require a surgeon for
a
patient with a gunshot wound to his chest. He
looks
to be in a bad way. Now move sailor!
Stoddart tried to think quickly. The officer
obviously thought him to be a crewman and If he
remained on board all would soon be laid bare.
Haynes' fingerprints on the weapon would clear
him
of the two murders committed in the state rooms,
but there would still be a great deal to answer
for.
Thinking that if he could get the boat lowered
into the water they could escape and then get
                       290
Poldark to pick him up and take him to Deal.
Once
there he could get friendly medical help for Scott.
'No! We're police officers,' he lied. 'Get this
damned launch lowered so we can get him to
hospital.'
Ignoring him the officer turned and retrieved a
sealed package from the vessel's a first aide
survival kit.
'Don't give me a hard time,' the officer warned.
'My name is Spiro Dieger. I'm a 'G' force agent
and
this yacht is part and parcel of our operation.
Everything that happened in the state room is on
video tapes, so shut your mouth and do as you're
damn well told.'
Stoddarts hand came away from Scott's wound
like
he had been electrocuted. Then staring into
Dieger's eyes, his first thoughts were that he had
been betrayed.
'Did Scott know that!' he demanded.
'No!' Dieger rasped, forcing a dressing over the
wound in an effort to stop the flow blood. 'Just
keep it in mind that he got in this condition
trying to save your life. Now hold that hard
187
against his chest while I lower the launch to
where
we can get him out without to much movement.
And
                        291
don't try to escape because you won't make it.
Stoddart was a frightened man. His only
consolation was that Scott had not deliberately
plotted his downfall, and that Haynes had
received
his just deserts.
In a matter of seconds the launch hung level with
the deck and Scott was gently placed on a
stretcher
by two crewmen, who carried him to the sick bay.
Dieger took Stoddart by the arm, but hesitated
for a moment to spit on Haynes' charred body.
Back
in the state rooms, the bodies of Titus and
Haynes'
partner had been removed to a guest room. And
now
for the first time Stoddart had the chance to study
Dieger.
He appeared to be well bred with a rich American
accent. He judged him to be in his mid to late
forties. He was six feet two inches tall, had slate
gray eyes, a full head of dark wavy hair and the
physique of of Greek god, which made Stoddart
feel
inferior with his balding head and plump figure.
One of the stretcher bearers came to make his
report.
'He doesn't look so good Sir. The bullet went
straight though, smashing a rib front and back.
He's lost a lot of blood too, but he's not coughing
                        292
any up, so there doesn't appear to be any lung
damage.'
'What about the medical team?' Dieger inquired.
'They should arrive anytime soon. They coming
by
helicopter.'
'Good.' Dieger said turning to Stoddart. 'You
look like a good stiff drink wouldn't go amiss.'
Then without waiting or worrying what he might
do
while his back was turned, Dieger walked over to
the cabinet and poured two large brandies.
Being somewhat suspicious Stoddart inquired 'So
where do we go from here?
'That rather depends on you.' He assured. 'You
188
can either go to jail for a very long time, or you
can carry on exactly as you were, but under the
guidance of the „G‟ Force.'
Stoddart gaped, thinking his operation had been
taken over.
'You're joking!' he stammered. 'You're no better
than Haynes!'
'Quite the opposite.' Dieger assured. 'Haynes was
an officer of the law who chose to use his
authority to further his own criminal activities.
The „G‟ force is comprised of mostly reformed
adicts and criminals that have devoted their lives,
time and resources to wiping out at least some of
the scourges that are plaguing our planet.'
'That's some statement. Knowing you must have
                        293
stood by while Haynes murdered Titus as well as
one
of his own, and you did nothing to stop it, thats a
hard pill to swallow.
'There was nothing I could do,' Dieger argued
defiantly. 'The shootings were unforeseen,
provoked
by Haynes's back-up man smoking when he knew
it
would alert you. As it transpired the shootings
brought things to ahead much quicker than
expected.
Now at least we can put our cards on the table
and
get on with the job in hand. All it requires is a
'Yes' from you.'
'A yes to what?'
'I can't tell you that until you give me your
answer. All I can say is that the knowledge you
already have is enough to ensure that “If” your
answer is “No”, you will be placed where security
is so strict you will never be able to communicate
to another person for as long as the the „G‟ force
is in existence.'
'Solitary confinement for life.' Stoddart
scoffed. 'Under British law you'll never achieve
that.'
'Not in prison perhaps,' Spiro agreed 'but we
shall have you sectioned under the law for the
criminally insane. And you must bear in mind
you
                        294
189
are on an American vessel that has the highest
protected status. Even your customs officials have
no authority on board this vessel. When we weigh
anchore you sail with us, come hell or high
water.'
Stoddart knew that he wasn't bluffing and his
flesh crawled at the thought of spending the rest
of his life in such an institution. Scenes from
documentary films came to mind and he knew
that
even the sanest of men could be broken after
being
made a part of it for a long period.
'I don't seem to have much choice,' he said at
last. 'What about Scott? I'd like to see him get a
fair crack of the whip. But for my intervention
into his life, he'd be setting up his business in
Spain. Apart from that, I owe him for saving my
life out there tonight. No body ever did me that
kind of favour before.'
'But for him, the G force would still be
struggling in ten years time to achieve what we
now
hope to achieve in one.' Dieger countered. 'Since
he knows nothing of the 'G' force as yet, he'll
have little to tell. But since he started things
moving in the right direction, I'm inclined to
persuade him to stick with us by more gentle
means.'
'In other words you mean no.'
                       295
'I mean exactly what I said. Maybe when you
realize what you have set in motion, you'll
understand the gravity of...'
Before he could finish there was a commotion
and
a crewman appeared in the doorway, his face
showing
deep concern over Scott's well being.
'He's very low, but he won't settle down until he
sees some one called Max. I've given him
morphine
but he's fighting it all the way.'
'You'd better put his mind at rest,' Dieger
advised. 'I imagine when he sees your okay he'll
probably settle down.'
Stoddart dashed to his side followed by Dieger.
Scott was as white as a sheet through loss of
190
blood, and the skin around his eyes was tinged
with
blue as death hovered. Sensing their approach,
Scott rallied enough to open his eyes, then glared
as he recognized Dieger.
He tried to raise himself.
'Easy' Stoddart soothed. 'Take it easy or you'll
only make things worse.'
Exhausted Scott fell back, but the panic in his
eyes remained as he groped Stoddarts shirt front
in
an effort to pull him closer.
'You don't understand.' croaked feebly. 'You've
                       296
got to stop. I died,' he explained. 'I just floated
away, but I could still see. My mother must have
died too, because she was waiting for me and we
went up to heaven together.
My father and brother were waiting for us. There
were lots of family and friends, but they wouldn't
let me in. They said that I had done bad things
and
that I had to go back to make amends. My mother
cried when I left, just like she did on my first
day at as a kid.
Stoddart recalled similar experiences and he
believed there was a heaven, but hell was here on
earth.
'If you should see your family again,' he
answered 'make them send you back, because
your
friend Dieger has important work for us to do.'
Scott's hand reached up to his shoulder in an
effort to push him away so he could speak to
Dieger. 'Stop now,' he pleaded 'before it's to
late.'
'Things aren't what they appear to be.' he
assured. 'We have a big job to do. It's honest
work. You must rest and when you're well again
you
can help us put together the biggest coup ever
undertaken against some of those international
crime lords.'
He looked from Dieger to Stoddart as though not
quite understanding.
                        297
'You'll never know the truth if you don't fight
191
to stay alive. And only then if you decide to stick
with me.' Dieger assured.
'I'll fight,' Scott promised. 'How bad am I? I
feel as though I've been hit by a cannon ball.'
Stoddart looked down. 'Nah,' said mimicking a
cockney accent. 'It ain't such a big hole. In fact
the last time seen one that, it didn‟t even have
any hair around it.‟
Scott smiled weakly and as they turned to leave a
crewman entered.
'The helicopter's just about to land on the helepad
Sir.
'Good. Get that mess on the boat deck cleared
away along with those two in the state guest
room.‟
Dieger ordered. „They can be taken to HQ in the
helicopter. Better send the murder weapon,
preferably with the fingerprints still intact, and
a copy of the video the murders.'
'You wanted to know what you're getting into?'
he
continued minutes later, sitting on the edge of an
arm chair in the state rooms. 'Here we have a map
of the world. There are thousands of cities and
everyone a target for syndicates pushing
narcotics.
As well you know, if we wipe out one, two more
will pop up to take its place to supply an ever
increasing demand.
                        298
Our task is to lure these syndicates into dealing
with us. By using Scott's ideas we can not only
guarantee deliveries, but also guarantee any
increases in demand.
While all this is in progress, I hope to increase
our demands for more supplies to such an extent
that the producers will only be able to guarantee
ours, which is most likely to amount to tens of
thousands of kilos.
By allowing us to collect direct from their
strongholds, we save them the prospect of loosing
shipments en route to there destinations. If we
achieve that aim, we go in with highly trained
mercenary forces to wipe them out.'
192
'Killing them?' challenged Stoddart.
'I see no alternative where the producers are
concerned.' Dieger admitted. 'As for the
syndicates
and their distribution networks, we'll settle for
handing over my personal dossiers of
incriminating
evidence to the appropriate authorities so they can
be dealt with by the law.'
'And what about us?' Stoddart challenged. 'We'll
be worse than those we're trying to stop. We'll be
shipping tons of the stuff to the very people you
say you're hoping to stop. If ever there was a
paradox, this one has to take the biscuit.'
'I agree to a large extent.' Dieger admitted.
'But apart from the end justifying the means, we
                        299
won't be passing on all of the increase in demand.
A vast amount of our profits will pay for the
dumping of a great deal of it. And more will be
kept off the streets by our own network of
informants passing information of the buyers to
the
authorities.
This tactic will also serve to drive up prices.
Not only will this put it out of reach of many
users, but it will act as a deterrent to those
thinking about becoming users.'
'I'll say one thing about you Yanks; when you do
something, you do it in style. It sure beats the
hell out of a country boy like me.'
'You do yourself an injustice.' Dieger corrected.
'As I recall, you and Scott are the ones that drew
up the blueprint for this operation. Us Yanks only
turned them around, touched them up a little bit
and plan on using them to a better advantage.'
'Thats typical of the English. Plenty of good
ideas and inventions, but ailing when it comes
courage and cash.' Stoddart said. 'Now you take
that brandy as a for instance. It's got to be
British because its so weak it needs help in
getting out of the bottle. You actually have to
lift it up and tip it into the glass.
Dieger grinned but took the hint. As he was
193
pouring a crewman ushered in a surgeon and two
assistants. The surgeon immediately relieved
Dieger
                       300
of the bottle.
'You're becoming a pain in the ass.' he accused.
'This,' he emphasized holding the bottle aloft
'should be for medicinal purposes only and we are
sick. Sick to death of having our busy lives
disrupted by you and your bandits.
With that he raised the bottle and drank before
passing on to his assistant who was so heavily
laden with plasma could not accept it.
'Never mind, he grumbled 'it'll keep. I know
where the sick bay is. Let's get at it.'
'Nice chap,' Stoddart observed. 'I hope his
problem doesn't affect his work.'
'It won't,' Dieger assured. 'Now I suppose you'll
want to know what you'll be getting out of all
this?
'Dare I ask?' he retorted acidly.'
'Well it won't be the millions you planned on
making, that much I can guarantee. However,
neither
will the risks be so high with the 'G' force behind
you.
During your term of entrapment all expenses with
be paid. Naturally will be expected to play the
part of a big time supplier, so there's no limit in
your particular case.
Wherever you go, your lifestyle will be observed
– as much by those you deal with as they will be
by
the 'G' force whose job it will be to keep you
safe. If you are invalided out, you will receive a
                        301
minimum pension of not less than one million
pounds
Sterling. A one off payment. But if you complete
your term and we gain our objective, you will
given
the lump sum of ten million.'
'Big deal,' Stoddart scoffed. 'I stood to make
four times that tonight if you hadn't conned me.'
'Ah but I did, and if Haynes had been backed by
one of the big syndicates you would probably be
where he is right now.'
194
'There is one point you can clarify.' Stoddart
asked. 'Scott claimed that Haynes had Claude
Durac,
my French connection, in his pocket. Is that true?'
'Partly, Durac is one of us, so the reverse would
be closer to the truth.'
Stoddart shook his head. 'It's getting like a man
can't believe his shadow is his own anymore.'
'That's fact.' Dieger agreed. 'For you this
morning's crime did not pay. This evening, with
the
'G' force, I sincerely hope that it will.'
'Dare I ask the fate of those who prove only to
have agreed to join you while it suited them and
then did a runner?'
Dieger smiled cynically. 'The last one that tried
had a fear of being hung. We caught up with him
and
                        302
transported him to Malaysia where smuggling
drugs
is a hanging offense. After two years in what they
call a prison they cured him of his phobia. Need I
say more?'
Reaching up to touch his neck Stoddart gulped.
'No, I think I've got the message.'
Then changing the subject he asked. 'Would you
do
me a favor and find out if Scott's mother has
really died? He's sure to ask after the surgeon's
have fixed him up.'
'No problem.' Dieger said standing up. 'Did you
know that her grief over loosing her son and
husband eventually drove her insane?'
'As it happens I did.' Stoddart admitted. 'There
deaths were caused by a couple of villains who
were
attempting to pick a consignment of drugs. They
both drowned in the river Thames'
'How does the thought of your remains drifting
around in some remote ocean grab you? Dieger
asked.
At that point the door burst open and one of the
surgeons assistants burst in. 'We need more
plasma.
Can you send someone back in the chopper to get
some.'
'Traveling both ways will take time. I'll get on
the radio and get some sent out on another
Chopper.
                       303
195
I'll get the pilot here to clear his machine off
the heli-pad. While I'm about it I'll see what I
can find out about Scott's mother.' he promised
Stoddart.
As he retreated Stoddart turned to the surgeon's
assistant to inquire about Scott.
'He's just about hanging on.' he said. 'By rights
he should be in an intensive care unit, but moving
him in his present condition could be fatal.'
With that he retreated and after ten minutes
Stoddart could no longer stand being cooped up
with
nothing to occupy his worrisome mind.
After recharging his glass from Titus's cabinet
he went out on deck to stand gazing at the sea.
For
a time his gazed followed the departing helicopter
after it had cleared the heli-pad. As it's lights
dwindled into the distance he stared into the
darkness of the night sky. Moments later
footsteps
approached. It was Dieger.
'Any news?' he asked.
'According to the Surgeon Scott's just about
hanging in there. As for his mother, she passed
away two hours ago.'
Stoddart drained his glass before tossing it into
the sea as gesture of contempt.
'Maybe there is more to life than we think.'
Dieger contemplated.
                       304
'Maybe, but I wouldn't bank on my becoming an
holy Joe on the strength of it.' Stoddart groaned
'Somebody, somewhere along the line must
wonder
about you. That is unless you're getting more out
of this than you're giving the likes of me.'
'Maybe.' Dieger answered nonchalantly.
'How did you get hooked, anyway.? Stoddart
persisted.
'I was an undercover intelligence officer in Nam.
Tens of thousands of brave young Americans lost
their lives out there. A good many of them were
let
down by their own comrades.
There are many ways to win wars you know. You
196
take the gooks as a for instance. One of their
tricks was to get as many military personal as
possible hooked on drugs, which had a duel effect
in the field of conflict.
When they were high on drugs they didn't know
what the hell they were doing. And when they
were
down they couldn't give a damn anyway. A good
many
personnel at the bases trafficked the stuff for
their own financial gain.
Millions of dollars worth of weapons and
equipment were bartered for it. Information too, if
it comes to that. I was sent out there to
specifically expose and break up the corruption.
                        305
Basically, I did there what I'm doing here. I
became a part of an operation so that it could be
smashed from the inside. Or at least, with bona
fide information that I supplied.
As a consequence of my work there my
government
encouraged me to become an international arms
dealer. My task was to travel the world doing
shady
arms deals as a cover to gain information that
might be of use to the United States.
Then one day they finally realized there was a
big drug problem that was getting bigger by the
day. It began as a witch hunt against the Russians,
because some people believed they were aiding
the
smugglers and producers for propaganda and
demoralization purposes.
I was on the trail of some high ranking KGB
agents. One was a woman, when I first became
aware
of Scott's existence. She loved to gamble on him
when he raced on his ski-cycles, and once she
flew
from Malta to England just to see him.
Being curious, I approached him about a
sponsorship, hoping to find out if they were
working together. He even supplied me with
some
odds and ends for my customers.
Then came the big break I'd been waiting for. He
                        306
called on your behalf and we put him under
surveillance. Then we did the same to anyone
who
197
contacted him.
As it transpired, we were in contact with some of
them anyway.' He admitted turning to look at
Stoddart before continuing. 'At the end of the day,
I can't help wondering if we will find evidence of
communist backing behind the narcotic's
producers.'
'Somehow I get the feeling that you're not
telling me this just to pass the time of day.'
Stoddart observed 'You wouldn't by chance have
a
specific assignment in mind would you?'
'Perhaps,' Dieger answered evasively 'perhaps.'
Chapter 9
While negotiations for his shipment of cocaine
were going on, Stoddart remained a guest on
board
the Sea Queen under protection of the 'G' force. A
week had passed before Scott regained full
consciousness and was fit enough to be told of
Dieger's true quest in life. This gave him heart,
and plenty of time to consider while convalescing
and building up his strength.
Since the estimated hundred million pound asking
price was more than any British dealer could raise
on their own – and Dieger refused to either
reduce
                        307
his price or split the shipment up because it would
defeat his objective, the dealers begged for more
time to raise the funds.
To make sure of the sale, he created a situation
that had dealers begging. The authorities, assured
by the 'G' force, that large amounts of illegal
narcotic's were about to flood into Briton,
operated a clampdown that netted many
smugglers and
frightened off many more.
This in turn made supplies scarce, forcing the
street prices up, and led to a great slump in bulk
buying market abroad. When the clampdown had
been
in operation for two weeks, prices rose so high
198
that Dieger, using Stoddart as a front man,
threatened to increase the price by another ten
million.
McNulty, who had fought shy of financing the
whole deal because it meant putting up
everything
he owned as security, kept informed. As the street
prices more than doubled, the prospects of such a
high yield of profit broke his resistance.
Everything was going according to plan until he
stopped to gloat over the mounting pile of
banknotes, gems, and precious artifacts stored in
his strongroom at his country mansion.
Nagged by the ever present thought of loosing it
all, he considered making a fraudulent insurance
                        308
claim, but soon realized this was out of the
question. For much of it was stolen to order and
uninsured. Plus most of the cash was obtained
through money laundering for which he had not
paid
taxes on.
He hit on the idea of going ahead with the
financing deal and then hijacking the buyers, the
sellers and the cocaine, while recovering his own
millions in the process.
Manpower would be no problem, since he was in
a
prime position to dictate the terms in order to
protect his own interests as well as his partners
during the transaction.
After mulling over the finer points and the
possible dangers of his plan, he secured his
strongroom and entered his spacious library.
At the touch of a button the book lined shelves
closed in front of the heavy steel strongroom
doors, concealing them from view. Cheered by
the
thought of making the coup of his life, he helped
himself to an Havana cigar before picking up the
telephone and dialing a number.
Drawing a lung full of tangy smoke, he let it out
through puckered lips while rolling its long
chunky
brown body between finger and thumb.
Prepared to wait a little longer while savoring
199
                       309
his thoughts and the cigar. He sat on the corner of
his desk viewing the book titles with their gold
leaf titles while thinking contentedly of what lay
behind them in the Strong room.
A full minute passed as the number continued to
ring, and prepared to wait, he smiled at thoughts
of his plan succeeding without hiring any help
from
outsiders on his own behalf at the scene of the
exchange.
Tiering of waiting he depressed the telephones
rest and dialed another number. While waiting he
studied a portrait of himself that hid a wall safe
from view. He smiled, for this was simply a lure
to
fool burglars and only contained some token
valuables to keep them satisfied.
He turned once again to the book shelves beyond
which the strong room was situated. Only an
informed villain that was prepared to use torture
could make him reveal its existence.
His smile turned to stone at the thought of being
forced to open it, for a secret number added to the
combination would activate a pressure plate just
inside the door. That in turn would trigger the
release of toxic gas to disorient and then render
intruders unconscious in a matter of seconds as
the
door automatically closed.
If he were forced to enter first, all he had to
                        310
do was to drop to the floor where a face mask
would
facilitate a supply of oxygen for him until the gas
had disbursed. If he was to be left out side under
guard, the same facilities had been installed in
the library.
The ring tone stopped and a voice answered.
'McNalty here. I'd like a word with Mr
Warburton.
Mr C J Warburton.
'C J speaking. Have you managed to raise the
sixty million cash yet?'
'Yes. Have you raised your forty million?'.
'Its ready and waiting,' Warburton assured.
'Good. I'll call Stoddart and set the deal up.
200
When can I collect?'
'You can't. I've decided to come along on this
deal. Tell me where and when, and I'll meet you?'
C
J said.
'You're crazy man.' McNulty blurted. 'Have you
any idea how touchy these deals can be?
Everyone in
this business is just waiting for one party to do
the deal so they can grab the the whole pot. On
top
of that, we risk some one informing the law if too
many people know where the deals going down.'
'Be that as it may,' C J declared 'but I'm not
about to let my stake in this deal get out of my
                        311
sight. You can take it or leave it.'
'I'm dealing with big time people on this one.
Anyone crosses them and there's no place to
hide.‟
McNulty assured.
Stoddart's not big time.' C J scoffed. 'He's just
fronting for some big wheeler dealers. A week
ago
he couldn't show his face on the street. So how
come he's now on the business end of the biggest
deal we've ever seen. What's more, I hear this
deal
is just the tip of the iceburg and I want to be in
on the inside.'
McNulty' brain went into overdrive. 'Okay. If you
insist on coming along, you can meet me here or
on
board my yacht The Saracen. In fact I would
suggest
the yacht. The pollen count is high and it's
playing hell with my hay fever. Apart from that
we'll be able to use my radar to spot anyone, such
as any of the customs and excise mob that may
have
got wind about our deal.'
'That's sound thinking and it suits me fine.' C J
agreed
McNulty smiled. Completing the transaction in
confines of his mansion would have made life
easy,
but completing it on his yacht, which as a result
                       312
of his phobia of being abducted and robbed, had
been fitted with a similar safeguards and would
be
perfect.
The ring tone sounded again and he snatched the
201
instrument off it's cradle.
'Home and industrial services. Could I speak to
Mr McNulty please. My name is Mr John Forbes
O'Mally. He called my secretary earlier but I was
at a meeting.'
'McNulty Speaking. You installed two of your
systems for me a couple of years ago. One in my
home and another on my Yacht.'
'Yes I recall. There's no problems with them I
hope?'
'Not at all, I'm more than pleased with the work
carried out. If you recall, at the time of our
discussions about about the installing the system
on my yacht, you mentioned something about a
bullet
proof vest.'
'As I recall you thought it something of a joke.'
O'Mally reproached. 'Have you changed your
mind?'
'Not entirely, but I would like one delivered to
my home immediately. By that I mean now. Can
you
deliver.?'
Chapter 10
Stoddart soon realized that once Dieger had set
                       313
his mind on a goal, nothing would deter him from
achieving it. From the word go, all prospective
buyers and financiers had their telephones
monitored. And as the field of prospective buyers
narrowed, those who remained in the running
were
kept under twenty four hour surveillance.
Prices were monitored and financial resources
researched in order to maintain a good balance
between the parties concerned. All appeared to be
going to plan until the Sea Queens surveillance
chief requested their presence in his operations
room to listen to recorded calls to and from
McNulty.
'He's up to somethings,' Stoddart advised
202
confidently. 'In twenty years he has never been
known to personally cross the line between the
legal and the illegal.
'By that I take it that he always uses
intermediaries?' Dieger suggested. 'Well now it
appears that he's going too, and I wonder why?
The
bullet proof vest suggests he expects trouble. That
alone ought to have been enough to deter him
from
making the rendezvous, if not withdrawing his
financial support altogether.'
'There was nothing to suggest Warburton might
make a grab for the whole kitty,' Stoddart
pondered. 'Which leads me to two possible
                        314
conclusions. Either McNulty is playing it safe, or
he has somehow put together a plan to grab the
whole kit and caboodle for himself.
'Maybe this Forbes O'Mally of Home and
Industrial
personal Services could shed some light on the
situation.' the surveillance chief suggested.
'It's possible I suppose,' Dieger agreed turning
to Stoddart. 'Do you know anything about this
company?'
A distant bell rang in Stoddart's mind as he
recalled a court case involving a burglar suing
his intended victim.
'Play that tape again,' he said.
The tape was rewound and set in motion with
Stoddart giving it his undivided attention.
'There!' he said in a harsh whisper.
'What!' queried Dieger.
'It's got to be that!' he declared after a few
seconds.
'What!' demanded Dieger.
'Did you know that one of our crazy laws dictates
that if you install a burglar alarm, it has to make
a noise of some description? In other words it
must
not only warn anyone in the near vicinity, but
also
the culprit.
A few years ago this company were fitting
systems
that would put the thieves to sleep after they
                        315
203
triggered the alarms. In this case the vilains were
in the process of robbing a vault full of art
treasures. Now according to your taped
conversation
between McNulty and this Forbes bloke, he has
such
a system fitted on his yacht?
So we a rendezvouses at sea, we have the coke,
Warburton, his cronies and McNulty bringing
their
cash to us on board here to do the deal. Then
McNulty releases the gas and we all go to sleep,
leaving him to get rid of us at his leisure before
doing a runner with the cookies.
'And what may I ask, prevents McNulty from
being
put to sleep.?' Dieger asked.
'I'm not sure,' Stoddart admitted. 'Maybe he'll
bring something that looks like an aid for his hay
fever that will render him immune to the gas.
There could also something incorporated into the
bullet proof vest. That would be feasible if this
Forbes bloke intended selling their systems to
companies who have guards for their vaults. All
they'd do is stand obediently to one side while the
villains did their thing, and then Hey Presto! It's
sleepy time for naughty boys.'
'What about the gas?' Queried Scott.
'Maybe he's got spare supplies Dieger pondered
                        316
aloud. 'Or perhaps he plans to remove some of
what
he's got fitted to his systems at home.
Give your HQ a buzz and inform them of our
situation. See if they can confirm whether or not
McNulty actually suffers from hay fever.'
'Such gloomy faces,' Scott scoffed from his perch
on the yachts side when they joined him.
'How are you feeling today bonny lad?' Stoddart
inquired.
'Bored,' he admitted. 'Why all the gloomy faces?'
'It's a long story,' Dieger said.
'Well I don't have a trouble in the whole wide
world to mar my otherwise inactive brain. So how
about giving me something to chew on for a
change?'
Stoddart caught Dieger' eye. And when he
nodded
204
his approval he began to explain what had been
happening. As he finished none were any the
wiser,
but Scott broke into a secretive smile that both
Dieger and Stoddart found irksome.
'Whats so funny,' the latter asked.
'Come into my parlor said the spider to the fly,'
he quoted. 'Your tale of woe reminds me of a
rather
vulgar story about a hungry tramp, a ready to eat
duck, a sexy cook, her equally sex starved
mistress
                       317
and her daughter.
In order to get food the tramp had to seduce the
cook, but the mistress‟s daughter caught him iin
the act and threatened to call the police.
But seeing how well endowed was she demanded
he
return the duck and seduce her as the price for
letting him go. He obliged, but then the mistress
caught them in the act with his raggedy trouser
around his ankles.
Seeing him still standing proud before her and
how well he had been performing, she promised
he
could keep the duck if he obliged her.
What none of them knew was the master had
bribed
the tramp to go begging for food at his home,
knowing full well what was likely to happen.
His reason for going to these lengths was because
he lived the high life on his wifes money, and
having been unfaithful he had caught a dose of
the
clap. Now who was to say that he was guilty of
passing it on to his wife.
'As entertaining as your story is,' Dieger butted
in 'I fail to see the connection between it and us
in our present predicament.'
'Firstly,' Scott began to explain 'is if you play
your cards right it will be you that ends up with
the cocaine and the money, instead of McNulty.
To that end, it might a good idea if you bribed
                       318
this Forbes O'Mally into telling you everything he
knows about McNulty's alarm systems. If you
find he
is planning to make a killing at everyone else's
expense, then do unto him as he would do unto
you.
205
Only do it first.
If he survives Warburton's wrath he'll never
finance another deal, even if he has a nest egg
tucked away somewhere. As for Warburton, he'll
either be ruined or wanted for murdering
McNulty.
All you need do is find another buyer for the
shipment. Whether you could pull a similar deal
up
north is in the lap of the gods.'
'Your idea has a certain villainous appeal,'
Dieger agreed. 'Now if you will excuse me, I
think
I'd better go hustle things along in respects of
our intellegence department.'
'Fancy a spot of fishing,' Scott suggested.
'Not for me bonny lad. I wouldn't mind a run
ashore though. Boats are alright, but they have
their limitations when it comes to keeping a
man‟s
mind occupied.'
'I wouldn't advise it.' Scott advised 'I've got
the sneakiest feeling that things are going to
start popping soon.'
                       319
'How long has it been since you were last ashore
bonny lad?'
'I wouldn't exactly call my last trip ashore, “a
trip ashore”,' Scott said amiably. 'A helicopter
trip to the hospital for a check up and X-rays
hardly constitutes a day's outing.'
'Do you ever miss the ladies?' Stoddart asked.
'Only when I see them running half naked on the
beach or flaunting it on it the speed boats as they
pass by.' Scott admitted. 'I've never been much of
a ladies man. Give me a speed machine to play
with
any day.‟
Stoddart smiled. 'Speaking from experience they
both have one thing in common. They call it
instant
death. And for my money I'll settle for the ones
with long shapely legs and big tits.'
'So you're sucker for a big pair of tit's are
you? Scott grinned. 'Maybe we should see Spiro
about arranging a party on board. I've heard tell
that it's not uncommon for captains to invite
206
nurses from local hospitals on board for parties.'
'Some chance.' Stoddart scoffed 'Spiro's got a
one track mind. He's dedicated to what he's doing
and nothing else counts.'
'I sometimes get the feeling that he's motivated
by some personal tragedy,' Scott admitted. „Have
you ever noticed that he never talks about his
personal life. I've never heard mention of a wife
                        320
and family, or even a lady friend if it comes to
that.'
'Maybe you should study his face when he talks
about some bird called Sahara Sediki.' Stoddart
suggested.
'How do you mean?' Scott asked.
'The way was his tone of voice hardens and eyes
glint when he talks about her suggests it's
inspired by a rejection.'
'I can't say that I've noticed,' Scott admitted.
'Let's hope you're wrong because that kind of
relationship can cause problems.'
Dieger's approaching footsteps put a stop to any
further speculation.
'Any news?'. Stoddart asked.
'Some, but not about the gas though. It appears
McNulty married a certain Magdalene Leone
around
twenty five years ago, and she died two years
back.
Their were two sons; Leonardo, now aged twenty
four, who lives in the U S A. And Vincent,
twenty
three who lives in Bessina, Sicily. Theres also a
daughter Sara studying here at the university in
Oxford, but she's of no interest at the moment.'
'The name Sarha Cora Leone rings a bell,' Scott
mused.
'Like Mafia.' Stoddart put in.'
'Precisely.' said Dieger 'Which means that we
want McNulty in our pockets, not dead or in jail.
                       321
So if he is planning something special, it could
prove much to our advantage if this business in
hand takes place on board the Sea Queen where
we
will have more control over events and be in a
207
position to video him in action.
Assuming all goes according to plan, Scott will
fly to Malta on the first available flight, while
Max and McNulty will head for Sicily. I'll be
staying here.'
'Now just hold on there,' Stoddart protested.
'You're going to send me and McNulty to Sicily,
and
presumably you're going to video him committing
a
crime in this country as a guarantee for his good
behavior in Sicily?.'
'Not quite. The video will be shown to his
daughter. Her passport will be temporarily
revoked
and she'll be put under our protection just in case
Warburton decides to use her to get back at him
through her.'
'You're one evil bastard,' Stoddart accused. 'So
what do I do in Sicily?'
'You'll be introduced to McNulty's son and
brother in law, who incidentally is a Mafia Don
that used to live in the U S A. He now lives in
exile, although he still has powerful connections
back home.
                        322
Between you, you are to set up a deal for us to
deliver one hundred tons of cocaine to major
cities
in the U S A.
You are to demand payment in diamonds; which
we
believe they will find unacceptable owing to the
amount of cocaine on offer.
Our goal is to acquire part ownership of some of
their enterprises in lieu of payment so the U S
government can get secret investigators of their
own inside their infrastructure.'
'And you think they're going to accept a
twupenny-ha'penny country boy like me as the
mastermind behind all this?' Stoddart argued.
'If they try pulling your file from Scotland Yard
or Interpol, they will.' Dieger assured.
'What about me?' Scott asked. 'What am I
supposed
to do in Malta?
Before Dieger could answer the radio operator
208
approached with a type written message which
read,
without enlightening them as to it's contents.
'On the surface you will be practicing for a race
with Sneider.' he continued, turning back to Scott.
'A ski-cycle will be provided and from what I
have been told, it's the most powerful you are
ever
likely to straddle. I shall join you as soon as my
                        323
work here is finished.
The reason for all this is to ensnare one of the
worlds biggest producers and refiners of the coca
plant.'
Scott felt a momentarily surge of adrenalin. Deep
down Sneider was a nice enough guy, a champion
rider even to the point of being a good looser in
races which they had both competed in.
It was his attitude leading up to the event that
Scott found so aggravating. He continually
sneered
and taunted his opponents until they were so
infuriated that many took unnecessary risks
which
had cost them victory.
'During your rides for pleasure,' Dieger
continued. 'he will taunt you and challenge you to
a race, but you will hold off until this tactic
creates a great deal of interest. When it has, you
will do your usual practice runs in order to create
international interest. By that time I should be
with you, to advise on the next stage of our
operation.'
'Sounds fine to me,' Scott agreed, guessing that
this was a ploy to draw Sahara Sadiki out into the
field of play.
'Why Malta, of all places? Stoddart asked.
'Christ, the Islands only about nine miles wide by
eighteen long. It hardly seems the place to
achieve
what I think you are hoping too.'
                        324
'It's smack in the middle of the territory I
frequented as an arms dealer for a start.‟ Dieger
explained. 'It's also flanked by all the Arab
states where my dealings as an arms dealer are
well
known. So anything I do, although provoking
209
interest, it won't be viewed with undue suspicion.
When I start wheeling and dealing no one's going
to
dream of my real purpose.
Secondly, Pakistan is not so far away. When one
particular person arrives on the scene I will allow
her to to find out my real purpose is to buy
Pakistani heroin. This I hope will entice her to
give me a better deal.
If she takes the bait, we'll proceed as planned
in order to get to grips with the Mafia, which I
hope by then Max will have set in motion. That
should have put her off guard, and the second
time
around we'll wipe her out. Any questions?'
'No, but supposing we have when you're not
around?' Stoddart asked.
'You'll have to use your own initiative for on
the spot decisions. Apart from that, a 'G' force
agent won't be too far away. You will be provided
with a shadow at all times.'
'A shadow or baby sitter?' Stoddart asked
cynically.
                        325
'A minder-cum-adviser. We wouldn't want
anything
untoward happening to you before you collect
your
pension would we? Dieger sniped.
Now, may we get back to the business in hand?
The
good news is that we now know all there is to
know
about McNulty's alarm system. The bad news is
we
may have to suffer a small amount of discomfort
in
order to nail him.'
'Something tells me this isn't going to be one of
my better day's,' Stoddart whinged.
'As you said, the alarms were banned in this
country by law, and the company that installed
them
were ordered to stop. They were also ordered to
make available the names of all customers they
supplied, who in turn were advised about how
they
could be sued if they didn't have them modified.
McNulty had his modified, but no one thought to
make provision for the gas in question to be
confiscated. And as McNulty supposedly pointed
out,
210
he had paid cash up front for his and as far as he
was concerned, any such merchandise actually
                       326
belonged to him.
Apparenlty, after the contactors had finished and
the firms inspectors approved the work, Mcnulty
reemplyed
the workmen to refit the system and
apparently sold him some spare containers of gas.
From what I've been told they are about the size
of a U2 torch battery and are very potent but not
lethal. One whiff disorientates you, the second
will put you out for the count for about twelve
hours.
The bullet proof vest ordered by McNulty was
one
of the original items on sale with the system, for
the use of the security guards. Apart from
protecting the wearer, it too was fitted with an
oxygen supply. The mouth and nose piece tucked
just
out of sight below the neckline.
When the gas is released the guard, if he hasn't
already been made to lie down, hits the deck and
holds his breath for as long as it takes to get his
oxygen supply in place. We won't elaborate what
happens if the guards are tied up will we? He
concluded looking a Stoddart. 'Any questions?'
'How and when?' Stoddart asked.
'We put to sea at 2200 hrs and head due south for
ten miles and wait. McNulty will join us on a
yacht
called the Saracen. Only minimum crews will be
present on each side. In our case Kolme, my chief
                        327
engineer, Pike my first officer and the three of
us. A similar number will crew the Saracen.'
'Thats cutting it a bit fine.' Stoddart said.
'Not for what we have to achieve.' Dieger
assured.
'What about those vests?' Scott asked.
'They are being sent by express motorcyclist and
should be here in plenty of time.'
'What does this McNulty look like,' Scott asked.
'I suppose you could say he's a young looking
fifty.' Stoddart said. 'He's five feet eight inches
211
tall, bald as a coot, and the last time I saw him
he looked as fit as a fiddle. He's the sporty type,
but as shrewd as an old miser to do business with.
He loves the young ladies, but not fast cars. He's
more the sedate Rolls Royce type and quite the
country gent.
Theres nothing on his criminal record to indicate
that he's prone to use violence.' Dieger pointed
out.
'That's probably because no one ever reported
him. But then they wouldn't would they?'
Stoddart
said.
Why not?'. Dieger asked.
'If he financed you in some shady deal and then
he had to lean on you to get his money back,
you'd
hardly go running to the law because you got
your
                        328
legs blown off would you?'
'I suppose not. Has he ever been known to carry
firearms?' Dieger asked.
'Hardly,' Stoddart smiled. 'Men like him don't
take that kind of risk. They pay others to do it
for them.'
'Your wanted on the radio sir.' called the
officer of the watch from the bridge. 'And there's
a launch coming alongside.'
'I'll be right there' he called back, and
politely excused himself.
'Have you ever wondered about him bonny lad,'
Stoddart asked.
'How do you mean? Scott countered.
'Well he's recruited us to help him, but so far
we've nothing in writing to prove who the hell he
is. He could be taking us all for a ride for all we
know. So far he's got our shipment and the sixty
million in diamonds. And I've no doubt that he'll
soon have McNulty's millions.'
'Leave it out.' Scott laughed.
'You may well scoff, but you just think about it.
In a few hour's time we'll rendezvous with the
Saracen just out of sight of land, with both
212
vessels manned by skeleton crews.
A smart operator could take to lot and do a
runner, leaving the dead on a sinking yacht.'
'Just so long as that someone isn't you,' Scott
argued.
'Me!' Stoddart laughed in all innocence. 'I
                        329
wouldn't know how to begin piloting one of these
things.'
'No, but I would.' Scott pointed out.
'Sorry I spoke,' Stoddart grimaced. 'But don't
just pooh-pooh the idea and forget it. You keep
your wits about you, because when you're looking
down the the wrong end of shooter it'll be to
late.' Then allowing his annoyance to show he
turned to leave.
'At a guess, I'd say by normal standards you have
had a fair crack of the whip.' Scott observed.
Stoddart turned back sharply, his eyes drawn to
the angry red scar left by Haynes bullet.
'A fair crack of the whip?' he flared without
thinking. 'Let me tell you something. Everything I
have, I worked for. Nobody ever gave me a
damned
thing. I took what I wanted and the risks that went
with it.'
He wanted to rid himself of this sudden bout of
anger brewing inside his gut, but the sight of
Scott's scarred chest stopped him.
'Maybe it's time to give something back,' Scott
suggested calmly. 'I can make an educated guess
at
what's eating you, and I can understand how it
must
be alien to your nature. I just wish that you could
feel the deep down emotions that I feel when I do
something good.'
Stoddart' chest heaved as he filled his lungs
                        330
with air, and when he let it out in the form of a
deep sigh his shoulders sagged in defeat.
'You should have been a bloody preacher.' he
said. 'I'm sorry for blowing my top. I guess all
this waiting and being cooped up on this damned
yacht is getting on my nerves.'
213
'I'll make a deal with you,' Scott offered. 'I'll
stick around so when you wake up and realize the
truth of all the millions that you've let slip
through your fingers because of me, you'll have
someone to kick.'
Stoddart smiled. 'You've got yourself a deal
bonny lad. Now how a bout joining me for a
drink?'
'Better make it wine. The dinner gong sounded
while you were letting off steam.'
'And that's another bloody wind up,' Stoddart
groaned. 'With the amount of catering staff on
this
yacht, you'd think they might serve meals at more
reasonable times.
Take breakfast for instance. All right so the
duty watch have to have there‟s before they go on
watch at eight o clock. But surely they don't have
to ring those damn bells to wake everybody else
up.'
'That's normal ships routine.' Scott pointed
out.'
'And they do the same at eleven thirty,' Stoddart
continued. 'Christ! Normally I'm just coming to
                       331
terms with the day ahead, and they're serving up a
damn great lunch when a couple of eggs and
bacon
would go down a treat.
And dinner is at six. Six!' he repeated. 'How the
hell is a man supposed to function properly at a
time of day if he's bloated out and half asleep
with a gut full of grub?'
'Easy. All you have to do is get a nine to five
job.' Scott advised.
'The hell I will. At least not unless its PM to
Am.'
Parting company in order to adhere to another of
the yacht strict rules, they went to there cabins.
Slipping out of his shorts, Scott took a quick
shower before dressing for dinner, with his mind
plagued by thoughts provoked by their
conversation
and Stoddarts obvious state of mind.
He tried to understand the man's natural instinct
214
to make the killing of the century, but the
millions of pounds began to total beyond his
comprehension. By the time he left his cabin he
was
convinced that Stoddarts only possible motive
could
be super greed or an insatiable desire to beat the
odds at any cost. The question was; would he be
satisfied to achieve those goals as part of the 'G'
force team, or would he try to beat the odds
                        332
alone?.
Leaving his guest suite, astern of the bridge
beneath the boat deck he glanced toward the
beach
where the sun worshipers were still abroad. It
seemed strange that only a curious few had
ventured
as far as the Sea Queen during the day. He
wondered
if there was something alien which they could see
but he could not.
High-stepping over the storm step, he went down
the companionway two decks below his own,
which ran
athwart ships with doors facing forward, giving
access to the deck officers cabins. To the left of
amid-ships was a plate glass double door with
brass
furnishings and polished hardwood surround. He
pushed it open allowing it to swing shut after he
had entered.
Greeting the three engineer officers to his left,
he moved to the captains table, at head of which
sat Dieger.
To his right sat the first officer, a stocky
barrel chested man in his late forties. His face
was scarred similar to that of a person that had
suffered a serious bout of small pox. His eye were
close set and intimidating. A shiver rippled down
his spine as their eyes met, and when he nodded a
curt greeting, the movement of the his muscular
                       333
chest threatened to burst the seems of his tight
bum-freezer white bolero dinner jacket.
Across from him sat the chief engineer. His
manner was entirely the opposite. Being
Vietnamese,
he was short and slightly built, with soft brown
eyes. He trained every day with his countryman
215
subordinates on the boat deck and appeared well
practiced in marshal arts.
Stoddart sat opposite Dieger at the foot of the
table with his back to the door.
'Evening all.' Scott greeted taking his seat.
'What exotic delights has our esteemed chef
provided to tease our palates this evening?'
'Good evening.' Deiger greeted. 'I've managed to
persuade Max to try a dozen oysters, followed by
clam chowder. You would be well advised to try
itit's
more of an experience than a delight.'
'Who am I to argue?' Scott smiled turning to the
steward.
'I reckon they must be diving for the oysters,'
Stoddart complained, breaking off a piece of
rusty
roll. 'I ordered mine ten minutes ago.'
'You must forgive Max,' Dieger said. 'He doesn't
seem to be quite himself lately.'
Scott met Dieger's gaze and detected a hint of
guile in his eyes. 'I think he's missing the bright
lights and the hustle and bustle of the big city.
                        334
All this lazing around doesn't sit to well with men
of action.'
'Ah!' Dieger smiled. 'He also serves who sits and
waits.'
'And thats a fact.' Stoddart grumbled. 'Much more
of this sitting and waiting and I'll join chief
Kolme's martial arts class just for the exercise.
'You would be most welcome,' Kolme invited.
'But
first, we must cleanse the mind and you must rid
yourself of all material things.'
'I wasn't thinking of becoming a monk,' Stoddart
groaned. 'Although I might as well. I can't
remember the last time I got laid. Talk about
having plenty of lead in your pencil and no one to
write to!'
Scott smiled as the steward placed before them a
large plates of oysters in the whole shells.
'Maybe we should send ashore to get you one of
those life size rubber dolls.' Scott suggested.
216
'If you mean one of those things you have to blow
up,' Stoddart said as he attempted to prize open an
oyster 'it would probably mug me the way my
luck's
running these day's.'
The blunt knife slipped, spinning the oyster in
his hand. 'Any decent restaurant would serve
these
on the half shell,' he complained.'
'But who's to know if your oyster might have
                        335
contained a pearl?' Dieger smiled.
'I'll consider myself lucky to get the oyster,
let alone a pearl,' he moaned
Somehow Scott knew that Dieger had set
Stoddart
up and that there would be a pearl in the oyster.
As his own shell parted, his eyes were glued on
Stoddarts hands. The shell parted but the contents
were obscured from view. With a bland look he
laid
the upper half of shell on the plate before prizing
the oyster loose.
'I'm damned if I can figure out why people go
crazy over these things,' he moaned raising it to
his mouth 'but here goes.'
Tilting back his head, he let the oyster slid in.
He twirled it around his mouth using his tongue
before swallowing.
'Not bad,' he said turning to Scott.
Scott looked down at his own and his eyes
opened
wide. 'Christ I've got a pearl in mine.' he beamed.
'Thank Christ for that,' Stoddart said spitting
one into his palm, 'I thought for a minute my
teeth
were falling out.'
Dieger's face creased into a smile. 'You had me
worried for a minute,' he said as Stoddart held the
tiny orb up to the light to admire the gem.
'I'm going to have a little bet that theres a
pearl in everyone one of these oysters and you put
                        336
them there. The only thing that bothers me is
why?'
'On troubled waters we pour oil,' Dieger
explained. 'When the minds of men are troubled,
we
temper them with wine, women and wealth. They
are
a token of appreciation from the 'G' force.
217
Consider them to be a down payment for your
efforts on behalf of the 'G' force. If all goes
well tonight, there will be more to come.
Stoddart opened another shell and removed the
pearl before swallowing the oyster, while Scott
reached over to place his pearls on the fine linen
table cloth before Stoddart.
„One good thing about these is that they are easy
to carry, and as far as I'm concerned, you're the
money man. I wouldn't even begin to know how
to go
about selling them, let alone how to invest the
money.'
Stoddart was shaken by the gesture, but he was
not fooled. Scott was simply prepared to give up
his pearls in order to prevent him from trying to
outwit Dieger and McNulty. And for some reason
he
could not explain, to make an honest man out of
him
despite the odds.
'Sometimes I wonder about you bonny lad,' he
                       337
smiled. 'Although I think the best place for these
is in the captains safe. When the time comes for
making decisions about what to do with them,
we'll
make it together.'
As the tiny circle grew, Diedger felt the tension
ease, and he understood Scott's motive for giving
up his pearls was to keep Stoddart loyal to the 'G'
force.
Curiosity got the better of him, and when his
personal steward approached to serve coffee he
scribbled a note on the back of a menu and
instructed him to give it to the radio officer
without delay.
'What did you do before getting involved in this?
Stoddart asked Kolme.
'Many things. I began as a simple peasant on my
fathers fishing boat in Vietnam. When that was
commandeered by the Cong I managed to get a
job as
a mechanic on one of the American air bases.
Toward
the end I volunteered for special forces
assignments behind enemy lines.'
218
'Is that where you met Spiro?'
'You could say that. I was taken prisoner by the
Cong and thrown into a rat infested cage
submurge
in the river. Spiro had already been in there for
                        338
about a week, and had devised a plan to break
out.
All he needed was a guide to get him through the
jungle, or a pilot to fly the helicopter that came
to collect prisoners of some importance.
At his suggestion I bargained my freedom for
betraying his true identity. When the helicopter
gun-ship came to collect him, I killed the crew
and
decimated the camp with its vast weaponry.
At the time another patrol was coming in from the
jungle to collect American prisoners from
downed
helicopter crews that were thought to be of some
importance. Their fire drew mine in retaliation,
and when the killing was done they flew us back
to
our own lines in the captured helicopter. We have
been together ever since.'
'When you get right down to it, the big cities
with all their high powered criminals are nothing
but dirty little-bitty puddles filled with
piranha,' Dieger Said.
'Every things the same. The commodities vary as
time goes by, but the stakes, the risks, the
intrigue and the reasons don't.'
When I think back over the assignments I've been
involved in, it brings back one particular memory.
My father was just about to paddle the tar out of
my rear end for taking a couple of dollars from
my
                       339
mothers purse
'Son' he said 'when you get to my age you'll find
that there isn't a damn thing you can do that I
didn't try sometime during my life.'
'You sound as though you're speaking from a
great
deal of experience.' Stoddart remarked.
A cold smile gave an underlying credence to
Dieger's reply. 'You may have spent a lifetime
pitting your wits against all-comers in your own
particular puddle.
219
I've been doing the same thing for more than
twenty years all over the globe. The only
difference between us is that I, generally
speaking, deal with crime on a grander scale.'
Deigers steward approached with a pot of coffee
and hot milk, which he placed on the table before
him with a note, and then waited while he read it.
'That will be all,' he said you can get cleared
away and I'll see you tomorrow. Mr pike, he
continued turning to his first officer. 'See all
hands not involved in our foray go ashore before
joining me in my cabin.
Chief, you double check the engine room and
then
give Mr Pike a hand to secure the gangway.
Turning to Scott and Stoddart, he invited them
for a drink in his quarters, and as they moved
toward the door, Pike walked to the galley.
'Move it!' his deep voice boomed.
                       340
'He doesn't strike me as the friendliest of
people,' ventured Stoddart when they reached the
open deck.
'Who?' Scott asked.
'Pike of course. Have you ever managed to get
him
into a conversation?
'To be honest, he never gave me the impression
that it would be welcome. He can just about
manage
a casual 'Hello and thats it.'
'Haven't you noticed how the crew react when he
gives an order? Man do they jump too it.'
'He's a good man to have around in a tight spot,'
Dieger advised without turning around. 'Don't
ever
make the mistake of judging him by his looks.
He's
anything but the mule-brained bruiser he pretends
to be.'
'I had a mind to ask him about his past at
dinner,' Stoddart remarked. 'I wonder what he
would
have said.?'
Dieger pushed open the door to what had been
Titus's state rooms.
I'll tell you,‟ Dieger volunteered. 'Quote' All
220
you need to know about me is that I was born and
some day, God willing, I shall die. The only
                       341
unknown factors are when and how, and how
many
scumbags I will have sent to hell before me?
Unquote.' Take a seat while I get the drinks, What
will you have?'
'A cold beer would be appreciated Stoddart
asked.'
'Me too.' Scott echoed.
Dieger walked to to cocktail cabinet. 'A mans
private life is his own affair,' he continued. 'And
pike is entitled to his privacy as much as any
man.
But I'll tell you enough to make you wary.
He's half Puerto-Rican and was born on the
wrong
side of the tracks in Miami. His mother, father
and
brother pushed drugs, and his three sisters were
prostitutes. To get away from all that he joined
the army as a boy and enlisted in the Marines.
We first met in Vietnam while on special
assignments, when one day he received a letter
telling him that all his family had been wiped out
by a rival neighborhood gang.
Apparently they had burst into their home with
machine guns and left there trade make after the
killing was done. The males had bundles of dollar
bill‟s stuffed in their mouths, and the females had
them stuffed between there thighs.
Pike held his emotions under wraps, but when his
                        342
unit run into trouble on his next assignment he
was
reported as missing in action.
During his absence there were all kinds of
inquiries by the police from back home as to his
where-a-bouts. The story goes that an unknown
person eliminated the whole of the rival family
suspected of the murders of his folks.
When they were found in groups only one was
shot
dead, the others were made to lie belly down and
they were gutted with a knife.
Six months after Pike went missing he came out
of
the jungle, claiming that he had been taken
221
prisoner by the Cong. There was no evidence to
prove that he had made the return trip from
Vietnam
to the States, but since his story couldn't be
proved, he couldn't be charged. Yet there's no
doubt in a lot of peoples minds that he did.
Myself
included.
'He sounds like a real bundle of fun,' Stoddart
remarked.
Dieger handed them their drinks, 'I wouldn't care
to give him a good reason to come after me.' he
ventured.
Feeling as though the story was a deliberate
                       343
warning, Stoddart raised his glass and gulped
down
half its contents. Then Kolme arrived with Pike.
'Well gentlemen,' Dieger began. 'Are we ready to
go?'
'Yes sir.' Kolme assured, but Pike just nodded.'
'Good. Your bullet proof vests are on the table.
Help yourselves, they're all the same. One size
fits all.‟
Now, since nothing other than the rendezvous and
man power were discussed, we all have to play
our
parts by ear. When we come alongside the
Saracen I
want you Kolme, to head for the boat deck to act
as
our cover man.
McNulty will presumably send a party aboard the
check the quantity and quality of the cocaine, in
which case we are likely to be invited on board to
check the cash.
'If McNulty is going to make a move against us it
will be as soon as he's checked the cocaine. My
guess is that he's already propositioned his team
into making the killing of a lifetime at our
expense.
If I'm not mistaken, after they have loaded the
cocaine on board the Saracen he'll go for the real
big one and wipe his own crew out.
The only clue we have as to how he will proceed
is the fact that we know about the gas and his
                       344
admission to being a hay fever sufferer. That in
222
itself suggests that after the gas has been
released to disorientate us and render us inert,
his oxygen supply will be hidden in some sort of
aid for that particular ailment.
All we have to do is be ready to use our
breathing apparatus secreted into our vests. And
remember; one whiff disorientates, so you just
hold
your breath for as long as it takes to insert your
own oxygen supply. Any questions?'
'Just one. Stoddart said. 'Up until now you've
taken care of all the negotiations in my name.
When
it comes to the crunch, who's going to do the
talking?'
'Why you of course.' Dieger said.
'In that case, someone had better tell me where
the cocaine is, because I haven't seen hide nor
hair of it since it was brought on board.'
Dieger smiled. 'If you remove the linen table
cloths and take a look at each corner of all the
dining room tables, you'll find a snug fitting
hardwood dowel rod. Just give them a tap and
they
will slide out. When you lift off the surface
shell's clear you'll find the bases beneath in
constructed like a large trays of some four inches
in depth. Thats where the shipment is hidden.
                       345
You and Scott can remove them, while we head
out
to the rendezvous. There should be a stack of
deep
plastic storage boxes in the galley ready to pack
the stuff in. When your done come up to the
bridge.
And don't forget your vests.
'Suites me,' Stoddart agreed picking up the first
two vests that came to hand, before
accompanying
Scott to the galley.
Dieger reached out to restrain Pike. 'Not so
fast,' he said quietly.
Picking up one of the remaining vests he began to
inspect the breathing apparatus. With care he
exposed the small nose and mouth piece, to which
was attached a small bore plastic tube inside the
neck.
223
After bending it double where the tube fitted
over the hard plastic insert, a ring of tiny holes
appeared.
'Some of that gum you're always chewing will
come
in handy for sealing these,' he advised.
An evil glint appeared in Pikes eyes as he dug
into his pocket.
'You've obviously got something up your sleave?'
he speculated passing sticks of gum around.
'Just a precaution. Whatever happens I don't want
                       346
them harmed. Is that understood?'
Popping the gum into his mouth, Dieger began to
strip down to his waist. When the gum was
pliable
enough he wet his finger and thumb, remove it
from
his mouth and molded it around the doctored
pipe.
After dressing again he removed a large diary
from
his safe and began to write.
August 29 1986. Time 20-45hrs. Paid Scott and
Stoddart commission in pearls as stated earlier.
Surprised when Scott gave his to Stoddart for safe
keeping and possible future investment.
Considering past deeds of Stoddart in relation to
Scott, I have taken the precaution of having my
steward tamper with their breathing apparatus. If
all goes well I shall question both men while they
are under the influence of Scopolomene in hope
of
finding Scott's motives.
My reasons for doing this are as follows.
By normal standards I would have judged Scott
unlikely to waive any thoughts of revenge for
Stoddarts wrong doings against him. But after a
great deal of research into his past, and getting
to know him quite well during his stay on board
the
Sea Queen, I would not judge him to be of a
malicious nature.
                       347
He has a fine brain, as past deeds will testify,
and he is not of an outwardly malicious. My
concern
is that he may be building Stoddart up so that he
can take revenge at a time and place when he
feels
it will have the most devastating effect.
224
Such an action could reflect on the reputation
and lives of the 'G' force. Needless to say,
precautions must be taken to ensure this does not
occur.' Signed Spiro Dieger.
Satisfied that he had put his records in order,
he returned the journal to the safe and made his
way up to the bridge. Checking that Scott and
Stoddart were well occupied via the video
surveillance system inside the radio room, he
scanned the fo'c'sle for Pike.
'Up anchor,' he called through the intercom, then
pushed the engine room telegraph to 'Stand Bye'
to
alert Kolme.
When he responded in kind, he ordered slow
ahead,
and moments later the deck beneath his feet
began
to vibrate slightly. Turning the helm he brought
the Sea Queen about to face the open sea.
It was a calm bright evening with moonlit sky
sparkling with myriads of stars. Seeing Pike leave
the fo'c'sle head he ordered one third ahead.
                       348
'It's not the kind of night that I'd choose for
this sort of operation.' Pike declared after
entering the bridge.
'There's nothing to worry about,' Dieger assured.
'Even if the coastguard monitor our progress on
radar, there‟s nothing clandestine in two ships
leaving different home ports and running
alongside
each other for a while.'
'Just the same, it's times like this when I wish
we have some immunity.' Pike said.
'Getting that kind of protection could blow our
cover quicker than anything. As you well know,
even
officials are not above taking bribes for passing
on information to interested parties. I dread to
think how much McNulty would be prepared to
pay in
order to find out what they're walking into
tonight.'
'Yeah,' Pike grinned. 'And are they going to crap
their pants when the shit hits the fan!'
'If they don't, we sure as hell will,' Dieger
225
observed. 'Take a peek at the radio room video to
see how Scott and Stoddart are doing.
While he was gone, Dieger spotted the bright
bunting stringer lights of a distant yacht, which
would eventually cross there path at a point some
five miles ahead.
'Pike!' he called. 'There's a yacht approaching
                       349
on the starboard quarter. Get the Aldis lamp and
ask who they are?'
Pike brought the lamp and stood by the window.
'Stoddarts face looks like it's been carved out
of granite. Do you think he might make a play for
it?'
'I gave the idea some thought,' Dieger admitted
'but I doubt it. And certainly not without help.
There's to much for one man to move and he's
hopeless with boats anyway.'
'They're flashing back 'Saracen'.
'Flash back 'Sea Queen' Dieger ordered altering
course.
'I somehow get the feeling that Scott wouldn't go
against you,' Pike offered.
'I know he wouldn't under normal circumstances,
but there's something there that triggers off those
alarm bells. I just can't put my finger on it.' he
confessed.
'Well, it can't be greed or he wouldn't have
handed those pearls over the way he did.'
'Oddly enough thats what made me suspicious of
him' Dieger admitted.
The opening of the bridge door brought their
speculations to an end.
'Every things ready,' Stoddart said. 'Is that the
Saracen?'
'It is.' Dieger confirmed.
'Life doesn't seem to have treated him to
harshly.' Scott commented. 'His yacht must be
much
                        350
the same size as this and they don't fall off
Christmas trees.'
'If he thinks we fell off one he's in for one
226
hell of a shock.' Dieger said tartly. 'Take the
wheel Pike while I go out on deck with Max.'
They stood quietly in the light breeze watching
the Saracen come up astern.
'Are you prepared to come alongside?' McNulty
called through a loud hailer.
'Tell him yes.' Dieger instructed Stoddart,
before giving Pike the order to stop engines and
stand by.
Turning to Scott he said. 'Go below and throw
them a line and make it fast.'
'Nice to see you again.' McNulty called to
Stoddart. 'It's been a while since we've done any
business. I notice you've moved up in the world
quite a bit since then.'
'You'll hear no complaints from me.' Stoddart
called back. 'You can you send a man over the
check
the merchandise when you're ready? If you're
satisfied with his report, we'll come over and
check your part of the deal before making the
trade.'
McNulty guessed what Stoddart's moves were
likely
to be, and they did not coincide with his own
plans
to get as many of the two crews together in the
                       351
same place at the same time.
'Surely we can cut all that crap and make a quick
exchange just in case we're being observed on the
radar by the coast guard. The way the law is
clamping down, shipments are going to get
scarce,
and I'd like to know any future supplies from you
are guaranteed.
So why don't we get off on a good footing from
the start based on trust? We'll bring the cash over
straight away. Then when everyone is happy with
the
deal, your chaps can help us transfer the shipment
over here. How does the sound?'
'Take it,' rasped Dieger.
'Suits me fine!' Stoddart called back.
'Pike,' Dieger called as the two craft gently
nudged each other, 'secure the helm and come
with
227
us. Their helmsman can stand on watch for both
of
us. Better take a line astern before we get to
wrapped up with the business in hand.'
It was obvious that McNulty had given a great
deal of thought to the expected proceedings. By
the
time they had reached the lower deck, he
Warburton
and his partner Ramsay, were waiting with two
large
                        352
chests.
'To save any unnecessary aggravation, I have
ordered my crew not to carry any firearms.'
McNulty
declared. 'Obviously we would appreciate you
doing
likewise.'
'None of us are carrying anyway,' Stoddart
assured. 'We came to the conclusion that they
would
only hamper negotiations and thats the last thing
we need stuck out here in the open.'
Tear drops provoked by the use of glycerin
welled
up in McNulty's eye and spilled over to run down
his cheeks.
'Damned hay fever.' he sniffed, wiping them
away
with a handkerchief. 'We'll lift the chests up onto
the side and you can haul them over from there?'
'No problem,' Stoddart agreed 'but take it easy.
We don't want to loose any.
Chest were soon transferred and were quickly
followed by McNulty, Warburton and Ramsey.
'The shipment is in the dining saloon,' Stoddart
indicated, stooping down to grasp one of the
chests
handles while Scott followed suit at the other end.
When McNulty raised his handkerchief and blew
his
nose, his partners took the hint and retrieved the
                        353
second chest.
His eagerness continued when Dieger moved
ahead
to open the doors, and on reaching the dining
room
he invited the bearers to place the chests against
the cupboards where the cutlery, condiments and
other requisites were kept.
Turning his attention to rest on the neatly
packed bread trays, McNulty smiled. 'Now isn't
that
a sight for sore eyes? If you have no objections,
228
Ramsey can select a couple of packets at random
to
check while you check your money.'
'The sooner the better,' Stoddart agreed.
'Good, I'll unlock the chests.' McNulty offered,
while reaching into his pocket for the key's.
'Damn
hay fever,' he sniffed, raising his handkerchief to
wipe his nose.
Turning his back, he unlocked the first chests
twin locks and lifted the lid to expose neatly
packed rows of bank notes.
'Be my guest, he invited with a wave of his hand.
With Scott and Stoddart thus occupied he turned
his attention to the second chest, with Dieger
slyly watching his every move.
MCNulty's constant sniffing caused a stinging
sensation high up in the bridge of his nose,
                        354
provoking a sneezing fit. Using that as a cover he
contrived to expose his breathing apparatus, as he
stooped to turn the key in the chests left hand
lock.
'Don't stifle it or like as not you'll blow your
brains out,' Stoddart jested as McNulty
straightened up with his handkerchief covering
his
throat.
Drawing a deep breath to fill his lungs as though
to sneeze, his head came back and then jerked
forward into the hand holding the handkerchief.
'Excuse me,' he apologized as he inserted the key
into the chests right hand lock.
As it turned, his head also turned so that his
face could not be clearly seen by Stoddart or
Scott. As he lifted the lid with one hand, the one
holding the handkerchief darted inside to grasp a
small cylinder containing the debilitating gas.
After making a grab for his oxygen supply Scott
lost his balance upsetting Stoddart and both
tumbled to the deck as McNulty sprayed them.
A single stride took him within reach of
Warburton and Ramsey, whose startled wide eyed
horror turned to grimaces of bewilderment as the
229
first burst of gas disorientated them, leaving them
to fall where they might.
He continued to sweep around to find Dieger who
had been about four paces behind him. When
their
                        355
eye met, panic surged through him. With the
stakes
being so high, he lunged forward, spraying gas
into
his face while trying to grab the oxygen mask
from
his hand.
Dieger sidestepped leaving him to stagger past
until he sprawled head long onto one of the
dining
tables.
In desperation he twisted, swinging his legs to
clear the surrounding chairs before making a mad
dash toward the galley door. It opened before he
reached it, and as Pikes burley frame blocked his
flight, he came to a sliding halt.
For a few seconds no one spoke. The only sound,
apart from the humming of air conditioning, was
the
clatter of the gas cylinder as it dropped to from
his limp grasp to the deck.
Panic stricken he turned about to face Dieger,
who was standing by the open dining room door,
calmly motioning him toward him.
He stood for a few moments more looking from
the
prize he had hoped to gain, to the inert bodies
lying on the deck. As he moved forward,
followed by
Pike, he contemplated the folly of his ways and
the
                       356
possibility of certain death.
Dieger's face as he passed by gave no
encouragement and his gruff order to Pike when
he
joined them in the companion way offered little
hope.
'Get Kolme and bring any crew members left on
the
Saracen over here. Then signal our crew out in
the
launches to come aboard. We'll take the Saracen
back to our anchorage for the time being. When
the
crew arrive, detail some one to put Scott and
Stoddart in the sick bay.'
'What are you going to do with me?' McNulty
bleated. 'You've got everything I own. I'm a
ruined
230
man.'
'Not quite,' Dieger answered curtly. 'If you
would care to accompany to the bridge, we'll get
down to the real business of the day.'
'What do you mean, the real business of the day?
'All in good time.' Dieger assured.
As he escorted him, lightly holding his arm
Scott's story about the ready to eat duck came to
mind bringing a rye smile to his face.
McNulty's mind on the other hand, flashed back
to
how he had planned making the killing of a
                       357
lifetime, and then cover his crime by sinking the
Sea Queen along with his colleagues and crew.
Now
he felt devastated to a point where death seemed a
better option than living.
Since Dieger showed no intention of taking lives,
he considered it was safe to assume that in
addition to his financial ruin and loss of
credibility, he would spend the rest of his life
wondering what Ramsey and Warburton might
have in
store for him.
'Are you from the drug enforcement agency?' he
asked. 'If you are, you are obviously an
American.
If that's the case I would like to see some
authorization that allows you to operate in British
territorial waters.'
'How about if I turn you over to McNulty and co?
I'll bet they'd give there eye teeth to have five
minutes alone with you. But before we research
what
might happen to you, I have a proposition to put
to
you that will make tonights fiasco look like the
robbery of the Sunday school poor box.'
'What makes you think that I wouldn't turn the
tables the first chance I get?'
'Sometimes living can be more traumatic than
death,' Dieger warned. 'You have a daughter
living
                        358
in this country for instance.'
'You leave her out of this! McNulty snarled in a
surprising show of temper.
'I wouldn't dream of harming a hair on her pretty
231
little head. In fact, you are going to call her to
explain why it has become necessary for her to go
into hiding with body guards to keep her safe. It
wouldn't do for Warburton or Ramsey to find her
should they escape, now would it?'
'You bastard!' he cussed aloud.
'And what about you,' Dieger asked. 'I can't help
but wonder what your plans were if you had
succeeded in tonights scam. You couldn't have
left
any witnesses could you. I can only imagine that
after the tiresome task of transferring all the
booty back to your yacht, you would have sunk
my
mine with everyone involved on board.'
'I'd love to know just how you managed to set me
up so neatly. It couldn't have been any of my
crew,
because they didn't know about my plans. You
obviously did in order to be prepared for it.'
'It just goes to show that it's getting to a
point where a man can't trust his own shadow.'
Dieger mocked. 'Just keep it in mind for future
reference. It could save you a whole heap of
trouble.'
After steering him into the radio room, Dieger
                       359
rewound the video tapes and then replayed them
just
to show him that he could produce indisputable
evidence with which he could use for
prosecuting,
or as leaverage to blackmail him.
'The plot and your performance was perfect. But I
doubt your daughter would appreciate finding out
what father is really capable of.' Dieger pointed
out.
'Okay. So you have got me by the ball's,' he
agreed 'What do you want from me?'
'First of all, let us discuss what I'm prepared
to do for you if you agree to my terms. Firstly,
your daughter will be kept safe and will never
know
the truth about you from anyone involved with
me.
That includes silencing Warbuton, Ramsey and
your
crew.
Secondly. I shall repay the loan you took out on
232
your home and hold it in trust. I will also deposit
ten million pounds in a Swiss bank account for
you.
Although that won't be available until my
business
with you is concluded.
Thirdly, from now until that time, all expenses
incurred by you on my behalf will be paid by me.
                        360
And last of all, any commission you make along
the
way will be yours to keep.'
'You must want something real bad to have gone
to
all this trouble setting me up only to make such
an
offer. What is it?'
'I want you to help me set up the biggest
worldwide
narcotics network ever undertaken, or likely
to be. My operation involves the movement of
hundred of metric tonnes at a time, with
guaranteed
deliveries.'
'Man, you're crazy! Nobody could move that
amount
of stuff without detection. And if they did they'd
have hells own job marketing it. Apart from that,
there would be gang wars everywhere. The local
barons wouldn't wear it, and god only knows
what
the mafia would do. It would wipe out one of
their
biggest earners overnight. No thanks; you're too
crazy for words.'
'Am I? You have just hit the nail on the head. I
can move the stuff but I don't have the
distribution network, but the mafia does. Whats
more they have the muscle to keep any other
barons
                       361
in line.
Sweating profusely, McNulty strove to
comprehend
what Dieger had in mind. Absently mindedly, he
reached into his pocket for his cigars and after
offering one to Dieger, he lit them both.
'I have a brother,' he began, but stopped in mid
sentence. There was a long pause.
'You're one devious son of a bitch,' continued
vehemently. 'You've set up this whole charade
just
to make a connection running from you to me, to
my
brother in law in Sicily. Then from him, smack in
the into the heart of the whole mafia network.'
233
'Go to the top of the class,' Dieger complimented
with a grim smile.
'If you had approached me this morning with such
a hair brained scheme, I would have thought you
were putting me on. How will you transport the
stuff?
'Now that's the billion dollar question,' Dieger
smiled. 'If you knew the answer to that, I'd be out
of business wouldn't I?
In McNulty's own estimation, Dieger was no
bodies
fool despite his own failure to make a killing.
One
aspect of his deal did hold out promise of
                        362
notoriety amongst the wealthiest men in the
world.
And as part of such an organization he foresaw
himself acquiring more wealth in one year than
during his whole life up to date.
In addition to that if he could relay secrets of
Dieger' transportation to his brother-in-laws
mafia
friends so they could cut Dieger out. That would
repay him in kind and earn him a fat percentage
as
a commission for all future shipments.
'Okay, you can count me in,' he agreed holding
out his hand. 'Where do we go from here?
Dieger took it but he was not fooled.
'For the moment you will stay on board the See
Queen. When Stoddart gets back on his feet you
will
put your affairs in order and then accompany him
to
set up the deal with your brother-in-law.'
'What about Warburton and Ramsey? It's going to
take something drastic to keep them coming after
me,'
'That's part of my insurance to keep you loyal,'
Dieger threatened. 'As long as you play the game,
I'll guarantee to keep you safe. But be warned;
one
wrong move and they will be furnished with
everything they need to track you down, and that
includes you daughter.'
                       363
'You have my word,' he lied.
'Then you don't have a thing to worry about do
you?' Dieger assured.
234
'We're ready when you are sir,' Pike called from
the doorway.
Dieger stood up, 'Perhaps you would good
enough
to see our guest to a spare cabin until I'm ready
for him. Post a guard, but see that he has
everything he needs.
Have you re-stowed the shipment and put the
cash
in the strongroom?' he concluded.
'It's being done now sir.'
'Good. I'm expecting a particular guest some time
after we drop anchor. Show him to my quarters
the
minute he arrives. If I'm not there, find me.'
The telegraph rang and as the engines began to
throb, Dieger stood at the helm reflecting on the
nights work.
Everything had gone according to plan, with
results turning out better than expected.
Particularly in regards of Scott and Stoddart, in
as much that he would not have to explain why
there
apparatus had been faulty.
'Mr Pike sends his compliments and asks if you
would like to be relieved,' a voice called from the
bridge door.
                        364
Turning from his thoughts, he saw the duty watch
standing outside on the bridges port wing looking
almost afraid to intrude.
'Get us both some coffee first? He replied.
During the next few minutes the lights along the
shore grew larger in size, but fewer in number as
the population retired for the night. When the
helmsman had taken over, Dieger stood alone out
on
the bridges wing until Pike's rough voice intruded
into his thoughts.
Moving back inside he set the engine room
telegraph to stop engines. As they approached
their
former anchorage he switched on the intercom
and
gave the order to drop anchor.
'There's a launch on its way,' informed the
helmsman. 'With any luck a Mr Munn will be on
board. Ask Mr Pike to show him to the sick bay,
and
235
tell them that I‟ll be there waiting.
With out waiting he made his way to where Scott
lay sleeping peacefully. For a long time he just
stood in the semi-darkness looking down at his
face
wondering what dark secrets lay behind its
serenity.
Munn arrived; tall thin gaunt man. 'How long has
he been out?' he asked in a rich deep voice.
                       365
'About an two hours. Does that make a
difference?'
'No, but its better to know these things just in
case something should go wrong. Scopolomene
has
been known to have fatal reactions when
administered in conjunction with with other
drugs.'
'If there's the slightest doubt in your mind,
forget it,' Dieger insisted. 'He's a good man and I
don't want to put his life at risk.'
'If I had any doubts I wouldn't be here. I'll
check him out just the same.'
For all his lank gauntness, Munn moved with ease
when handling his patient. Finding Scott still
wearing his bullet proof vest, he slid his palm
beneath his shoulders and hauled him up to a
sitting position before stripping him down to the
waist.
'Nasty,' he commented, looking at the scar on his
chest. 'Lucky too.'
Easing him back onto the bed, he proceeded to
check Scott's pulse, heart beat, blood pressure,
temperature and reflexes.
'Sound as a bell,' he declared. 'Got a himself
quite a physique too; must exercise quite a lot.'
'He's the sporty type,' Dieger explained. 'He
used to own and run his own water sports
business
until he got mixed up with our lot.'
'Whats the problem then?'
                        366
'He got dragged into crime by your next patient
and there's something I don't quite understand
going on between them.'
'Homosexual.' Munn grunted.
236
'If it were that simple I wouldn't consider it to
be any of my business,'
'Well, I'll give him a shot and we'll see. Give
him a minute before you start with the questions.'
The hypodermic needle slipped into Scott's arm
and the syringes plunger forced the ingredients
into his blood stream. After a minute Munn
quietly
gave his consent for Dieger to begin.
'Scott, It's Dieger, can you hear me?'
'Yes,' he replied in a faint ghostly voice.
'Do you trust me?'
'Yes,' he answered after a long pause.
'You don't sound to sure of that,' Dieger pointed
out.'
'I think you will do anything to achieve your
objectives. Even hurt or sacrifice a friend if the
end justifies the means.'
'That's an interesting point. Would you do
something like that?' Dieger probed.
'Not premeditated,' Scott answered.
'What about Stoddart? Considering the way he
ruined you, I'd have thought you wouldn't care
what
happened to him.'
'Maybe some day he'll give me no other choice.'
                       367
Scott admitted.
'If you feel like that about him, why did you
give him your pearls? Was to make him feel
secure,
or to gain his confidence?'
'Both.' Scott answered.
'Can you explain why you think you have to go to
those lengths to gain his confidence.'
'He was in the launch with Rodriguez when my
father and brother were killed. But I didn't know
that until I got shot. It was the way the light
struck his face when Haynes's gun ignited the
petrol.'
'And you still want to avenge their deaths after
finding that out?'
'I did at the time. But after you told me about
your quest in life, I changed my mind. If I can
237
keep him on the straight and narrow for as long as
it takes for you to succeed, I will have achieved a
whole lot more than I would by satisfying my
own
grudge.'
'Does our success mean that much to you?' Dieger
pressed.
'Yes,' he replied flatly. 'My only misgiving is
that when it's all over, someone else will start
the ball rolling again.'
'Tell me about your relationship with Sahara?'
Dieger asked changing the subject. 'You met her
a
                        368
few times. What did you talk about?'
'Racing mostly.'
'Surely, you must have chatted about other
things?' Dieger queried.
'She seemed interested in my business. Asked a
lot of Question about the ins' and outs' of it. As
I recall she seemed surprised when I told her
about
knowing you, and how you sponsored me.'
'Did she ask any questions about me which would
make you suspicious of her, knowing what you
know
now?'
Scott remained silent for several seconds.
'Not really. She asked what I did in return,
since it was obviously not advertising. I told her
that I sometimes carried out modifications on
Skicycles
for you.'
'Did she ask any specific questions about me that
would make you suspicious of her, knowing what
you
now know about me?'
'Yes, I told her that I couldn't tell her
anything more than that because I didn't think you
would like me gossiping behind your back.'
'How did she react to that?'
'She laughed and start pulling my leg about
intrigue and you being an international arms
dealer.'
'Did she ever ask you to do anything for her?'
                       369
'Not exactly. Once she invited me to a party with
some of her friends after I'd won a race. She
238
introduced me to a Frenchman who she said
could put
some highly paid work my way if I was
interested. I
got the feeling that it was something illegal and
told her that I'd got as much work as I could cope
with running my business.'
'Can you remember his name? Dieger asked.
'Jules St Just.'
Chapter 10
Even though Dieger was out of sight, Scott was
always aware of his presence. At Gatwick airport
he
met Sneider who baited him into an argument
over
cheating in ski-cycle races. The argument
developed
into a scuffle drawing the attention of some
reporters who just happened to be there; courtesy
of Dieger.
On the flight to Luqa, Malta's air terminal,
Sneider had flared up again. And once more
pictures
were taken as two in-flight security men hauled
them apart and kept them that way for the rest of
the flight.
At Luqa Sneider showed signs of becoming
aggressive again, but the security officers kept
                       370
him in order with threats of deportation.
From there he had gone his own way, leaving
Scott
to be chauffeured to his destination, where once
again Dieger' presence became evident.
The Atlantic Mirage was not the luxury yacht he
had assumed it would be. By classification it was
an aging wreck. A Thomaston class landing ship
dock
of some five hundred and ten feet in length, with
a
beam of eighty four feet.
During the day it was a noisy hive of activity,
with tradesmen modernizing and refurbishing. It
was
an odd looking craft. Unlike traditional ships, the
bridge and accommodation were well forward,
leaving
three quarters of the after deck space clear.
Part of this enormous area had been converted so
that it could be opened by large hydraulic rams
that operated the the flap like doors that formed a
239
deck when closed. Another section served as a
helicopter landing pad.
It was beneath this deck that most of the
refurbishing was being carried out. The docking
well, designed to take on board stricken vessels,
was three hundred and ninety feet long by forty
eight wide. This was flanked on either side by
open
                        371
galleries filled with all manner of tools an
equipment.
One prominent modification was storage for
amphibious landing craft. This appeared like a
giant vertical ladder with clamped cradle arms
reaching out instead of rungs.
There had been no sign of a fast attack craft,
but everything had been tried and tested in
readiness for their arrival.
Scott stood in awe when the stern doors opened
and the ballast tanks were filled to increase the
vessels draft, and flood the docking well. This
was
purely to simulate the docking of a stricken ship.
Being adventurous Scott joined the crew and
workforce in having a dip in private jubilation.
The following day his new powerful ski-cycle
arrived and he named it Meteor because the
trailing
flames stenciled on its cowling's. Much to his
disgust, Dieger forbade his riding it out in the
open until he had taken at least seven days
holiday
to see the sights.
During those seven days he came into contact
with
many Maltese people and found them to be
among the
most friendliest he had ever known. He visited
the
                       372
museum known as the Malta Experience to learn
about
the islands gallant fight during the second world
war, and saw much of the splendour and beauty
of
the many churches, the tiny city and the old
fortress.
On the morning of the seventh day he took one of
the Atlantic Mirages small launches and set out
on
a tour of the entire Maltese coast line to
familiarize himself in readiness for the big race.
240
Unhurried, he piloted his way through the deep
crystal clear waters of Sliema Creek, which
looked
nothing like the name it suggested.
There were no muddy banks covered with grasses
or
trees, but hard, flat rocks where the sun
worshipers lay and from which swimmers dived.
In
the marina, and the busy city of Sliema itself,
there were hundreds of yachts.
Coming abreast of the massive ancient
fortifications of St Elmo, which stood guard over
the harbour entrance, he turned north west to skirt
the seaward side of Sliema, where the ground
rose
some thirty feet above sea level in many places.
                        373
Holiday makers swarmed everywhere, so the
islands
main coast road was well used. There were few
yachts here and no pleasure boats. Such beaches
as
there were, consisted of great rock slabs with a
generous smattering of natural pools filled with
deep crystal clear water for those not wishing to
venture into the open sea.
Here too the islands only gambling casino was
located. Standing high up and proud, it allowed
its
patrons a grand view of ships traveling the busy
sea lanes during the hours of darkness, with there
lights sparkling on the horizon.
Pressing on, he followed the cost to Qawra,
where
he crossed St Pals bay. All was quiet here, with
no
ships or people to mar its tranquility.
During the crossing, Scott began to reflect on
what had happened since he had lost his business.
He reached Anrax Point at the islands northerly
tip, almost without noticing. His mind meandered
on
in an effort to justify what had become reality,
and was now trying to visualize the conclusion of
Dieger' quest.
The infiltration, blackmail and destruction of
the United States mafia flashed before his eyes
without misgivings. But the raiding of Sahra
                       374
Sediki's stronghold in order to stem the flow of
narcotics at its source made his skin crawl.
241
He imagined having to trek through steaming,
humid jungles alive with tigers, poisonous
snakes,
stagnant leech filled waterways and all manner of
unspeakable creepy-crawlies. He also visualized
being fired upon by Sediki's guardians, and being
compelled to crawl through thick undergrowth in
order to reach her isolated compound
headquarters.
Obviously, once there, a full scale confrontation
would ensue, with bodies, even friends being be
shot, maimed and mutilated in the name of
justice.
Barely aware of it, he crossed the open sea
passing the small island of Comino. As he circled
Gozo, Malta's second largest island, an idea
began
to form in his mind, bringing a smile to his face –
even though it made him itch all over.
Suddenly he had the urge to return to the
Atlantic Mirage to await Dieger. So increasing
the
engines power, he began his return journey.
After sighting Marfa Point he plodded down the
coast, paying scant attention to the rugged cliffs,
large caves and other scenic landmarks. Not even
the tourist attractions, such as the ramshackle
weather board village where the Popeye film was
                        375
made, or the enormous concrete gun
emplacements
where the Guns Of Navarone was filmed, or the
famed
Blue Grotto could slow him down.
He was passing across Pretty Bay heading toward
Delemara Point at the islands southern tip when
he
spotted a dark shape speeding toward him and
judged
their paths would cross. As the distance between
them closed, the haunched figure in a black wet
suite and crash helmet riding a powerful ski-cycle
became more distinct.
Believing it to be Sneider and not wanting to get
involved, he slowed down, hoping he would
sweep out
to sea and then return behind after circling his
position.
As predicted he crossed his bow some two
hundred
yard away with just a quick glance in his
direction. But all he could see was the bulk of the
242
rider and the tinted glass of the visor on his head
gear.
The rider continued for another few hundred
yards
before making a dramatic turn that spewed out
great
sheets of of white foaming spray, before slowing
                        376
for a few seconds. Then he surged forward again
as
though to launch on a collision course. Imagining
Sneider's grim features behind the visor, Scott
guessed that he was about to take the opportunity
to test his courage.
With the machines engine screaming toward him,
Scott held his course, expecting the rider to
either sheer off ahead or behind him, or at best
skim passed his bow close enough to reach out
and
touch the launches prow.
At fifty yards he knew that this was not to be,
and his heart began to pound in contemplation of
the prospect of what was to come. If he was to cut
the engine and the rider swept behind, a collision
would be inevitable. Yet if he continued and the
rider misjudged, the result would be the same.
At ten yards the riders haunched frame rose. His
buttocks left the seat as he hauled sharply
upwards
on the cycles hand grips. Ducking, Scott watched
in
horror as the machine left the water and became
air
born with engine screaming as it arced overhead
like a Stuka dive bomber.
Turning sharply, despite torrent of spay
showering down on him, he followed its progress.
Standing high on the footrests with legs and body
at ease to absorb the impact of landing, the rider
                       377
splashed down.
In those moments Scott knew that the rider was
not Sneider, for the wet suit evidently clung to
the smaller shapely figure of a woman.
A hundred yards further on she slowed down and
turned broadside on to view him, and though she
never uncovered her face and only gave a friendly
wave before speeding away, he knew that it must
be
Sahara.
243
It was with a great relief when at last he
crossed the yawning mouth of the Grand
Harbour,
heading for Fort Elmo. When he entered Sliema
Creek
minutes later, the Sea Queen lay alongside the
Atlantic Mirage and the tension he felt just
floated away.
'How have you been keeping?' Dieger called from
the Sea Queens deck.
'Great.' Scott beamed.
After mooring up to the landing stage he
scampered up the gangway.
'You're looking fit. What have you been up too?'
'Seeing the sights mostly. Although todays outing
was partially in preparation for the race. I did a
complete circuit of the islands to get acquainted
with what to expect during the race. Max was
quite
right about them being small.
                       378
Under racing conditions, the complete circuit
shouldn't take more than a few hours. I can't wait
to do a practice run on the ski-cycle.'
'I'm afraid I've got some bad news on that
score,' Dieger said somberly. 'Apparently
Sneiders
body was fished out of the Grand Harbour a
yesterday. Rumour has it that he'd been tortured.'
'Christ!' he was a bit of a pain, but I wouldn't
have wished that on him.'
'Thats one of the risks we take I'm sad to say.
Dieger admitted, 'As a precaution I'm going to
assign to a bodyguard to you. One of kolme's
men.'
'Have you any idea why he was tortured?' Scott
inquired. 'or is that asking the obvious?'
'It is,' Dieger admitted. 'Fortunately he didn't
know enough about my plans to do any harm.
And if
Sahara was behind his death, it may well have
saved
us a lot of trouble. Now she'll know exactly what
we want her to know. No doubt we'll find the
truth
of it soon enough. I expect her next step will be
to make an approach to do a deal if I'm not
mistaken.'
'Speaking of which,' Scott said 'while I was
244
crossing Pretty Bay, a rider – who I took to be
Sneider, jumped right over the launch. When I
                       379
turned to see how well he made the landing, I was
surprised to find that the rider had the figure of
a woman. She stopped some distance away to
give a
friendly wave and then took off again. Obviously
I
couldn't get a look at her face because she was
wearing a helmet and visor.'
'That's interesting,' Dieger pondered. 'Have you
had cause to suspect you were being followed
since
arriving here?'
'No, but it wouldn't be to difficult to follow
anyone without their realizing. There are so many
tourists here at the moment.'
'Well you had better keep a weather eye open in
future just in case. In the mean time I suggest we
be seen together having a good time. How does
an
evening at the casino grab you?'
'What you really mean is that you want to make
yourself available.' Scott reproached.
'Us,' Dieger corrected. 'It's my guess that
Sahara will make an approach through you to me.
And
since she's a rich lady who loves to gamble, the
casino is the perfect place to be.'
'Bucking the tiger has never been one of my
failings,' Scott admitted. 'but I'd like to come
along to watch.'
'Good. Have you eaten today? Dinner should be
                       380
about to be served.'
'I'd better take a rain check on that.' Scott
said looking down at his grubby shirt and shorts.
'By the time I get showered and changed, dinner
will be over.'
Dieger smiled. 'Oh, under the circumstances, I
think we can make an exception in your case.'
As expected his appearance drew veiled looks of
surprise from the officers, some even raised their
faces in disbelief when Dieger bid him sit at his
right hand at the table.
'I'll just have the seafood platter.' Scott
245
ordered as Dieger' personal steward approached,
then he coloured up with embarrassment at
making
such a mistake.
Dieger grinned but nodded his approval 'I'll have
the same. Make sure there's plenty of coffee on
the
hotplate and then get yourself ashore. And mind
my
orders are obeyed. No one is to travel alone for
any reason.
Should any of the crew feel the need to get
romantic, tell them that I'm going be ashore until
the early hours and any female company is to be
back there before breakfast.'
'Are you that worried,' Scott asked.
'A little. Apart from that, it will give Sahara
the opportunity to get some one on board to look
                       381
around.'
'That sounds like you want her to find out what
you're up to.'
'Up to a point,' Dieger admitted. 'She can only
get confirmed anything she may have learned
from
Sneider.
Apart from that, it may stop her resorting to
more extreme methods in oder to get what she
wants.
What do you think of the Atlantic Mirage by the
way?'
'She looks a wreck at the moment. If Sahara does
send her spies on board hoping to discover what
you're up to, she'll be in for a disappointment.
There's pieces of old machinery, rusted steel
cables and junk everywhere.
There's a big scrapyard across the creek. I'm
surprised you haven't negotiated a deal for them
to
take it away.
'I've ordered things to be left like they are in
hope of confusing the opposition. Quite a lot of
that stuff was already on board when I purchased
her. We'll dump it over the side when we get to
sea.'
'Speaking of confusion, have you any idea how
Sahara managed to get wind of what's going on?
246
Scott asked.
'Our dead letter box operation has been a huge
                      382
success. The authorities in Briton and throughout
Europe have really cracked down. That has not
only
forced up street prices, it has also caused a great
slump for the producers.
The barons are to scared to touch it, which is
understandably worrying for other government's
such
as our own. They are fearful that a slump in
Europe
will cause a flood elsewhere. Naturally, suppliers
like Sahara want to know what is going on, and
are
desperate to secure new outlets for their produce.
To be honest I think she's desperate enough to
eliminate any opposition if it means she'll secure
a customer such as we profess to be. All we have
to
do is keep her interested, without letting her find
out the method of delivery to our customers.
'Have you any other customers tendering for
orders, 'Scott asked.
'We shall be meeting one at the Casino tonight.
An Indian gentleman by the name of Mohammed
Ranjit
Sigh. Unfortunately I doubt he'll ever see his
native land again if Sahara suspects he's trying to
horn in on her trade.'
'I suppose that's one way of getting rid of the
competition. What's his reason for being here?.'
'He's looking to poach outlets for his middle
                        383
eastern heroin producers.'
'I suppose that's a good a way as any to get rid
of a few main dealers,' Scott philosophized. 'All
you have to worry about is that it doesn't start a
war that leaves us in the lurch.'
'I don't think we need worry about Sahara's
safety. She's a born surviver.' Dieger predicted.
'Speaking of which, how is Max progressing?'
'The Leone family welcomed our offer like a gift
from the gods. After checking him out, Vincent
called his brother Leonardo in the States and
within twenty-four hours Max had advised me to
proceed as planned.
247
The only stumbling block appears to be the price,
my demand to be paid in diamonds and
guarantees of
delivery.
But the way our tactics have bled the market dry
and forced street prices up, I can't see them
haggling much longer. In the present climate, the
longer they haggle, the higher the price is going
to be.'
'Aren't you afraid that this may have an effect
on our buying price? It could ricochet down the
line to such an extent that the likes of Sahara
will take advantage. If she decides to eliminate
any prospective suppliers, you'll be faced with
either paying her price or being embarrassed over
not making good on your own delivery contracts.'
Dieger, knowing Sahara as well as he did, Scott's
                       384
logic was matter of common sense.
'What is it you English say. “You're not so green
as you're grass looking?” he quoted. 'Do you
realize,' he added 'that I shall now be forced to
protect one of the very people we were trying to
eliminate. Namely, Mohammed.'
'Sorry about that,' Scott grinned. 'We also have
another saying, “It is sometimes difficult to see
the wood for the trees”.'
'Very aptly put in this instance. You don't
happen to have any more bright ideas while we
are
on the subject do you?'
Considering she must know as many producers as
you do, I'd be inclined to let her believe that
some of them at least, have representatives here.
The fact that they're not, means she can't get at
them, which will restrain her from using her full
bargaining powers.'
'The more I see of you, the more I'm inclined to
think that you missed your true calling
somewhere
along the way.' Dieger predicted.
'Perhaps,' Scott agreed thoughtfully. 'As it
happens there's another aspect of this quest of
yours which I'm having serious thoughts about.
248
Perhaps you'd care to give it some thought.'
'I'm all ears.' Dieger agreed.
'When we've concluded the first stage of our
                       385
business with Sahara and made our deliveries to
the
Mafia, we are due to return to Columbia to wipe
her
coca plantations and base of operations.
If we go in with a mercenary force through the
jungle, her guard outposts will undoubtedly spot
us, which will mean a long drawn out battle
costing
lives on both sides.
If we use helicopters and supporting gunships, we
could provoke an international incident, with
serious consequences if any of our men are
identified as being American, or suspected of
being
in the employ of the American government.
What we need are soldiers who are completely at
home at home in that particular environment.
Personally I would recommend Exciton
Carnivorous.
They're specialists in carnage, reputed to be
virtually indestructible and guaranteed to instill
the most profound fear into the staunchest of
enemies.'
Scott's usual blandness had Dieger fooled.
Believing that his good nature was being taken
advantage of, he looked at him enquiringly while
digesting his words.
Scott met his gaze with a hint of a mocking
smile, as the name of the most feared cannibal
                       386
tribal indigenous natives and pygmy races
bombarded
Dieger‟s brain.
Somewhat embarrassed, he raised his hand to
scratch his at an itch at the crown of his head.
Then as the truth of Scott's words dawned, his
thoughtful frown became a smile as he visualized
his enemies suffering under the fearsome
onslaught
of his newly found legions.
Scott grinned in recognition and Dieger shook in
fits of uncontrollable laughter that drew inquiring
looks from the other officers.
'Scott,' he declared at last, 'I would hate to
249
have you as an enemy.'
'I wouldn't hurt a fly,' Scott confessed.
'Of course you wouldn't,' Dieger agreed, still
shaking his head. 'Can I get you some coffee?'
'No thanks. If there's time I'd like to take a
nap before going to the Casino.'
'Make time,' Dieger insisted. 'I want to have
look a see as to how things have progressed on
board the Atlantic Mirage while I've been away
anyway. Then I'd better make some arrangements
for
Sahara to be kept on tenter hooks.
Shall we say nine o'clock in my quarters? We can
have cocktails while we cruise around to anchor
off
shore.'
                        387
'Surely you're not going to take the Sea Queen?.
Scott scoffed. 'It's only ten minutes in a taxi and
we could walk it in half a hour.'
'I agree, but it wouldn't do to deprive Sahara
the opportunity of sending her spies on board the
Atlantic Mirage, now would it?'
'Well they won't see much will they? Scott
argued. 'Just a load of old rusting junk and a few
tradesmen at work. If anyone can figure out what
you're up too from that, they'll have to be
psychic.'
'That's the general idea. As long as they can't
figure that out, they can't compete.'
Finishing coffee, they left the luxury of the Sea
Queen for the Atlantic Mirage where they parted
company.
In his cabin – a large single berth room with
adjoining bathroom, which had originally been
allocated to an officer, Scott lay down on his
bunk. Slowly his eyes closed as he nestled into
the
warm, soft comfortable pillow. In the darkness of
his meandering mind he imagined what caused
the
various distant noises vibrating through the ships
hull.
The generators gave out a steady low rumble,
which gave way every once in a while to the hash
250
chatter of powered chipping hammers removing
                        388
removing old unwanted mettles standing proud
from
flat surfaces.
Sometimes this was accompanied by the rhythmic
chatter that he visualized as being a riveter using
a mechanical swaging tool. As he drifted off to
sleep, visions returned of the islands beauty
spots, such as the Blue Grotto and the beach at
Golden Sands where solitary figure of a woman
waded
ashore toward him.
As droplets of water glistened on her long
shapely legs, he raised his eyes, appreciating the
beauty of her body. She stopped for a moment to
turn with arms lifted so that he could view the
flat of her stomach, her perfectly shaped bottom
an
protruding bosoms.
When she had turned full circle the top of her
bikini fell to the ground, revealing her voluptuous
breasts. He tried to move forward as she
advanced,
but he could not.
Then she stood before him so he could study her
face. Her mouth was full and sensuous and her
lips
inviting. She smiled, her head tilting forward
slightly, highlighting the fine sculpture of her
high cheek bones and dark blue laughing eyes to
their best advantage.
'Sahara,' he heard himself call, bringing him
                        389
back to awareness.
'It was still light. Even so he sensed a change,
but no reason to panic. For a few moments he lay
listening in an effort to recapture the vision
before realizing that all activity on board had
ceased, leaving only the generators emitting their
steady throbbing.
Knowing that it was unusual for the workforce to
stop before ten o'clock, he swung out of his bunk
to look through the porthole. Not a soul was to be
seen out on deck. Guessing Dieger had ordered
all
personnel ashore early in order to allow Sahara's
spies time to check out the ship unhindered, he
251
shaved, showered and put on a white shirt and
dark
suit with a black bow tie.
When he left his cabin it was just five minutes
to nine, and dressed as he was, and in such
circumstances, he felt out of place.
Picking his way through the scrap cables, coiled
hawsers and rusting winches littering the decks,
he
made his way to the Sea Queen.
'You're looking quite the city gent,' Dieger
smiled.
Scott returned the smile as he admired Dieger's
choice of tailored white shirt and jacket,
highlighted by a black bow tie, trousers and
shoes.
                       390
„James Bond, I presume,‟ he smirked. 'I wouldn't
mind being as comfortable as you look.'
'I can't recalled ever seeing you wearing a
suite,' Dieger admitted 'Have you ever been inside
a casino before?'
'No, the nearest I ever got was seeing them in
films or on TV.'
'A man can get through quite a lot of cash in
those places,' Dieger pointed out casually. 'How
are you fixed.'
'I have about two hundred pounds,' Scott assured.
'That won't do,' Dieger scoffed. 'Since tonight
is strictly business, 'I'll advance you five
thousand Maltese pounds. That should be more
than
enough, but there's more if you need it.'
'You're joking,' Scott gulped. 'Thats half a
years wages.'
'Was perhaps when you were running your water
sports business. 'But tonight you have to play the
flamboyant young spendthrift who's motto is
'Easy
come easy go.' Maybe a few drinks will help
loosen
you up,'
'In that case I'll have a G&T with ice and a
slice of lemon.
Dieger gave the his steward a sly grin and he
picked up a tall glass which he quarter filled with
gin straight from the bottle. After adding ice he
252
                        391
topped it up with tonic before handing it over.
'Try that for size.' he invited.
Scott sipped it and swished it around his taste
buds before swallowing. Then tilted the glass
again
to take two large gulps.
'That sure hits the spot,' he gasped.
'Give us twenty minutes and the bring us some
refills,' Dieger ordered, then turning back to
Scott he asked. 'Would you care to join me on
deck?.'
Leaning against the side gazing at the shore as
they sipped their drinks. 'I wonder how the
Maltese
feel about the horrors of nuclear warfare,' Scott
mused as they passed beneath the ancient cannon
that spat fire, flame and iron at the enemy in
many
a past battle.
'Pleased I should think,' Dieger replied. 'These
islands have little strategic value since the
coming of the nuclear bomb. That in itself should
mean that they'll never again be caught up in the
middle of someone else's wars as they were in the
last one.
With an the estimated twenty seven thousand tons
of bombs supposed to have been dropped here,
I'm
surprised that the island itself survived.'
'Maybe there's a lesson to be learned from it
after all.' Scott said thoughtfully.
                       392
'Such as?' Dieger asked.
'No matter how big, bad or powerful you are, at
the end of the day the chances are that you'll end
up like Napoleon or Hitler and his Third Reich;
dead but not forgotten.
The only difference between the prospect modern
day nuclear wars and theirs, is their cold steel,
gun powder and cannon, didn't contaminate the
earth.'
After passing St Elmo, they altered course
northwest,
putting the busy city of Sliema out of sight
behind the superstructure, leaving them to stare
out into the empty Mediterranean.
253
'It must have been something to see when the
Turks invaded. 'Dieger reflected. 'Can you
imagine
the awesome spectacle of waking up to find more
than two hundred sailing ships sitting on your
doorstep, packed with around forty thousand
fighting men?'
'I wonder why we do it?' Scott mused quietly.
'Do What? Dieger asked.
'Make war.' Scott said.'
'The obvious answer is because we love it –
although I'm damned if I can see why.'
'What brings you to that conclusion?' Scott
asked.
'Because we never stop. You put a name to it and
we'll fight over it. Power, politics and worst of
                       393
all religion. Then we have greed, sex and
anything
else that comes to mind. Sometimes I wonder if
war
isn't part of some super natural plan to cull the
human race every now and then.
Can you imagine what the population would be
by
now if the first and second world wars had never
been fought?'
'Probably standing on someones shoulders ready
to
cut someones throat for a crust of bread,' Scott
said.
'Which proves a point. If someone didn't drag us
into war by the scruff of the neck, we'd end up
doing it out of desperation.'
'So,' Scott countered 'we might just as well take
up arms and enjoy it.'
At first Dieger thought he was being sarcastic,
but Scott's mood had turned sullen, and he
seemed
reluctant to continue their philosophical
conversation. It was only after several minutes of
silence that the truth dawned, by which time the
jingling telegraph signaled stop engines.
The grating rattle of the anchor chain and the
splash of the heavy barbed hook plunging into the
water drew Scott from his thoughtful mood.
'If you are so sure that Sahara is keeping a
254
                       394
close eye on our activities.' he asked. 'Aren't you
concerned about her spying on us when the
torpedo's
and all the other ancillary equipment is being
loaded. Even if everything is crated and not
marked, it's a racing certainty she'll bribe
someone to find out what our cargo is.
'You worry to much,' Dieger reproached. 'Even if
I wanted to load up here the government wouldn't
allow it. And by the time she finds out what we
are
up to it will be to late. Now shall we go and see
what lady luck has in store for us?'
They made their way to where the deck officer
was
organizing the lowering of the gangway. 'The
launch
will be alongside in a few moments Sir,' He
volunteered.
Dieger nodded his thanks while Scott continued
to
air his concerns.
'Supposing she had me kidnapped and tortured
like
Sneider?'
'Oh, I don't think you need worry on that score.
I've already taken precautions with that in mind.
Just think; you could be lucky enough to have her
seduce you in hope of getting you to talk.'
'I'm not so sure about the “lucky” part. She
gives me the impression of being a bit of a tigress
                        395
between the sheets,' he grinned 'She'd probably
tear me to pieces.'
'I reckon there's many a man that would pay good
money for the privilege too.' Dieger speculated.
Scott remained silently preoccupied with thoughts
of seeing Sahara as they were ferried across to the
cassino's private marina‟s docking area, which
had
been carved out of solid rock some thirty feet
below.
There was also a private pool with a large patio,
and an outside bar and bar-b-que. A fancy dress
party was in full swing, adding colour and gaiety
to the atmosphere of the evening.
Four chef's dressed as head hunters busied
themselves amid clouds of blue-gray smoke as
they
255
strove to satisfy the hungry guests. On one side
there was an abundance of prims cuts of steak,
sausages, kebabs and cutlets, while the other was
set out with fresh salads, trout salmon and all
manor of shellfish, including oysters. The
crowning
glory was a huge stone urn set within a silver
bowl
that was filled with caviar.
Although the night was warm, a few guests
suffered the discomfort of Victorian attire, while
a smattering limited themselves to loin cloths and
grass skirts.
                        396
There were pirates, soldiers, sailors,
highwaymen, while outstanding on the female
side,
was a stunning mermaid accompanied by her
Neptune.
A daring queen of hearts, whose playing cards
barely covered her charms and a black feline cat,
served drinks free of charge from a bar set in the
mouth of a cave directly below the casino.
Carefully edging around a crowd who were
dancing
to an Hawaiian tune, Scott and Dieger mounted
the
stone steps leading up to the casino. At the top,
Scott stopped for a moment to look down on the
happy colourful scene. The aroma of bar-b-qued
food
hung lazily in the air. Through the haze he noted
two upturned faces that appeared to be paying
him
and Dieger undue attention.
One was dressed as a head hunter, the whites of
his dark eyes was matched only by the bone
protruding from each side of his nose. His
companion presented herself as an Amazon, with
long
golden hair spreading like a fan across her back
before cascading down to partially cover her
bottom. She only wore a chamois leather lion
cloth
and brassier.
                       397
In addition to the large long knives they each
wore at the waist, he wielded a large axe, while
she sported a longbow and a quiver of arrows that
hooked over her head and shoulder so the thong
gave
emphasis to her cleavage.
Scott's gaze swept uneasily over the crowd and
256
beyond, scrutinizing the many small yachts and
power boats to see if anyone else was overly
interested in them.
'Something bothering you?' Dieder asked.
Scott turned a little, and did not immediately
meet his gaze. On the far side of the casino,
which
was a good hundred a fifty yards away from the
busy
main road around the seaward side of Sleima. The
buildings were ablaze with lights and amongst the
constant flow of traffic, plied the occasional
horse drawn carriage much favoured by the
tourists
for seeing the sights.
As far as he could see, the wide pavements along
the shoreline were crammed with pedestrians out
for
a stroll during the cool of the evening. Only a
narrow road leading to the car park lay between,
leaving the casino isolated.
'Is there anything special going on the island as
a whole tonight?' Scott asked.
                       398
'Not that I'm aware of. The fancy dress bar-bque‟s
isn't out of the ordinary. There are dozens
of them going on every night of the week. It's part
of the tourist itinerary. Why do you ask?'
'I must be getting paranoid,' Scott admitted
shaking his head. 'Take no notice.'
But Dieger persisted. 'What did you see that
bothered you so much?'
'Just a couple in fancy dress looking up at us,'
Scott admitted.
'They were probably our body guards,' Dieger
smiled. 'There'll be more inside. I'm quite well
known in this part of the world as an arms dealer,
which makes me an ideal target for extremists
who
have a grudge, or may feel inclined to hold me for
ransom for a cargo of arms.'
Inside the simi-circular foyer was a noticeably
cooler, and the only sound in the quiet luxurious
setting was the low humming of the air
conditioning.
Dominating the centre of the foyer was a
257
miniature desert oasis with a fountain, surrounded
by a model caravan taking shade beneath dwarf
palm
trees.
Inside the casino, the air was tinged with the
sweet aroma of expensive cigars, but the air
conditioning drew out the offending smoke long
before its presence could cloud the atmosphere.
                        399
Both men and women indulged at the tables, but
the night was still young and the patrons were not
yet crowding to play. Bye passing the cashiers
cage, Dieger headed straight for the bar where he
ordered a bourbon on the rocks before turning to
Scott.
'I'll have a gin and tonic with a slice of lemon
and plenty of ice.'
He then leaned back on the bar to survey the
casino's interior. There were two roulette tables
where games were in progress with maybe a
dozen
players between them. One table played by
American
rules and the other French. Elsewhere there was
baccarat, blackjack and buelle being played.
'You don't seem too impressed,' Dieger remarked.
'It's not exactly my scene,' Scott pointed out,
'Although I did expect to see a hive of activity in
here.'
'It's early yet, and this isn't where the real
games are played. This is strictly for the tourists
– a front to keep the authorities happy,' Dieger
explained. 'The big time games are played in
hotel
rooms. A man has to be on the ball to play in
those. You never know exactly who you are
playing
against unless you've been around. Many a good
man
has been fleeced by professional international
                        400
hustlers.
'I wouldn't have thought it worth their while,'
Scott pondered. 'Hotels and travel must be costly,
and when you consider the possibility of two or
more persons fleecing a few thousand out of one,
it
hardly seems profitable.'
'Don't you believe it,' Dieger countered. 'A
258
great many millionaires bring their yachts here
just to get away from the European hot spots for a
while.
A syndicate of people will finance one of their
group to latch onto an unsuspecting prey. Then
when
he comes to a place like Malta for a break, the
sucker is enticed into a private game where all the
players are members of the syndicate.
Given the opportunity, they pop something into
his drink while he's on a well planned winning
steak to get the stakes boosted. Then when he's
feeling on top of the world, they take him to the
cleaners. Many a man has woken up to find he's
signed checks or I O U,s to the tune of hundreds
of thousands of pounds.'
As they chatted, more guests arrived to play the
tables, some in fancy dress. One was dark
skinned,
dressed in the rich silken finery of an Indian
sultan.
'May the blessing of the prophets be upon you,'
                        401
he greeted, touching his forehead and chest with
his fingertips as he bowed slightly.
'And may he see fit to share his wisdom with such
lowly mortals as us,' Dieger smiled in reply. 'May
I offer you something to drink?'
'As you must be aware, my religion forbids the
drinking of alcohol, so a glass of freshly squeezed
orange juice if you please.'
'Of course,' Dieger agreed with a polite nod.
'This is a business associate of mine. Mohammad,
this is James Scott.
'A pleasure indeed,' Mohammed beamed, offering
his hand.
'How do you do,' Scott replied politely.
'We have business to discuss.' Mohammed said.
'Where and when can we meet?'
'Dieger hedged. 'That depends. There are other
suppliers involved. Firstly I need to know the
nature of the goods, quantities, prices and
delivery dates. At the moment I'm toying with a
259
firm order of not less than one hundred metric
tonnes.'
'Toying?' Mohammed gasped. 'Never has such a
quantity been moved at one time. The risks will
be
enormous. Surely you are jesting.'
Although no name had been put to the
commodity in
question, Scott's blood turned to ice at the
thought of Dieger speaking so openly. He turned
                        402
away to hide his embarrassment, only to find the
reason for his openess. For there close bye stood
the lady he had seen earlier dressed as a black
cat.
Despite the hooded mask and whiskers, her smile
was unmistakable. And when she spoke her soft
seductive 'Hello' blotted out Dieger's reply from
Scott's hearing.
'You are a long way from home,' she remarked,
moving to his side and slipping her arm through
his. 'Are you on holiday?'
'Not exactly,' Scott stammered. 'More of a
business trip. These are friends of mine. This is
Spiro--'
'I know,' she cooed cutting him off mid-sentence.
'Our paths have crossed from time to time,' she
smiled. 'Would you mind if I stole him from you
for
a few minutes?'
'Be my guest,' Dieger smiled. 'But mind, her
claws are sharp. Big cats are sometimes called
Panthers and reputed to be quite partial to human
flesh so I'm told.'
'Oh I won't bite him,' she she promised steering
him toward the balcony that overlooked the large
patio where the fancy dress party was still in full
swing.
Since she had made her wishes quite plain, Scott
hauled open one of the sliding doors and stepped
outside, closing the it behind them.
                        403
The evening had cooled considerably. Offshore
the
Sea Queen lay at anchor, her stringer lights ablaze
from stem to stern, and the noise of partying on
260
board mingled with with the musicians below.
'It looks as though everyone is hell bent on
having a good time tonight,' Scott said stating the
obvious.
'Can we dispense with the small talk? We both
know why Dieger is here and there doesn't seem
to
be a great deal of time left for me to put in my
bid,'
'To the best of my knowledge, the bidding has
been taken care of,' Scott replied. 'As far as I'm
aware, the only problem appears to be how to
supply
the quotas required at a rendezvous acceptable
two
both parties.
As you can appreciate, moving Mohammed‟s
hundred
tonnes of heroin from Gartoc in Tibet across
India
to Lahore and down to Karachi, where is
acceptable
to Dieger, does have its drawbacks.'
She removed her cat mask while he was speaking
and now stood facing him with her eye's riveted
on
                        404
his, following his slightest movement without
breaking contact.
She came closer, placing her hands on his hips.
'You intrigue me,' she whispered, moving in to
kiss
him.
Her first was was gentle and designed to test his
reaction. When he responded, her arms encircled
his
neck and she gave a fore taste of the passion
within. While inwardly wary he responded by
letting
his hunger show.
'My,' she whispered clinging to him, 'You're full
of surprises. I used to think you were so sweet
and
innocent. Now I find you are not only involved in
what must be the biggest narcotics smuggling
operation ever undertaken, you also have a
hunger
that I suspect will take a great deal of
satisfying.
'It just goes to show that appearances can be
deceptive.' he answered.
'Like you working for Dieger for instance. That
came as quite a shock. Were you working for him
261
when I introduced you to Jules St Just?'. She
asked
casually.
'On odd occasions. I would bring in consignment
                       405
from the continent for him. That's why I gave
your
friend the cold shoulder. Working for two boss's
provokes a conflict of interests don't you think?'
She released her hold on him and withdrew a few
inches to where she could study his face more
clearly again. 'Did you use your Ski-cycle to
bring
it over? She asked.
'In the beginning, but the weight restriction
proved to be a bit of a pain, so I devised another
method where I could increase the weight to a
ton.'
From there Scott went on to tell how he had
modified the catamaran and used the buoys to
eliminate the necessity of entering a foreign port
to pick it up.
'It's far quicker too, and if I was tracked by
radar it didn't provoke any interest because it
appeared that I had just gone out for a joy ride or
for a fishing trip.' he explained.
His hands still rested gently on her trim waist,
so that the slightest movement of her lithe body
transmitted to him. Once again her eye's searched
his, the dark pupils following his every
movement
as though clinging to every word.
'That was brilliant idea,' she praised. 'My
understanding is that Dieger is negotiating a
contract with the Mafia to supply every major
city
                        406
in the U S A and Canada.'
'So the story goes,' he hedged.
'My contacts also tell me that he has devised a
foolproof method of delivering it. Would that
entail the use of the method you just spoke of?'
'I doubt that. The Atlantic ocean can get
fiendishly rough to chance using such small craft.
The loss of shipments could make the venture
unprofitable as well as unreliable.
'I'm curious as to why he has purchased such a
large ship as the Atlantic Mirage. Such vessels
262
have to be registered with the Lloyd's List. And
all departures, cargo's and destinations have to be
declared. Doesn't that complicate things?' she
asked.
'Not if you happen to be carrying a legitimate
cargo as well,' Scott pointed out.
She moved her foot, shifting her weight a little.
Her thigh moved suggestively between his and
the
soft firmness of her breast pressed against his
chest.'
'Will you help me persuade Dieger to give me the
contract to supply him,' she cooed, leaning back
slightly so that her nether regions clung to his
thigh. 'I can supply all the cocaine he requires
and deliver without difficulty. My base of
operations is close the sea and I have the local
conatabulary in my pocket.'
'The only problem is that he's wanting to buy
                        407
heroin,' Scott pointed out.
'So I've heard, but the major powers have
clamped
down recently and I should think his Mafia
contacts
would be pleased to get whatever is available,
provided it is good quality.'
'Under the circumstances I can't see any
problems.‟ Scott admitted. „From what I gather
Mohammed is having a fair share in meeting
Dieger's
demands and his time table. Why don't you stay
out
here while I go in an get us a drink? While I'm
about it I'll put your proposal to him,
highlighting of course, your convenient loading
facilities and being able to fill his order.'
Wrapping herself around him, her body
promising
heaven and her passionate kisses leaving no doubt
in his mind as to how far she was prepared to go
to
achieve her goal.
She purred, 'I would consider it a great favour.
Perhaps we could get together later so I can show
my appreciation?
His hands slid downward to the top of her thighs
before sweeping upward to caress her shapely
body.
263
'I sometimes wonder what it is about a womans
                       408
body that drives a man crazy,' he whispered. 'Is it
the actual feel of it, or the mystery of not
knowing how she will react to his advances?.
She kissed him again with increased passion, her
clawed fingers drawing down the length of his
back
inside his coat. He reeled against her in sweat
pain, which only served to fuel her mounting
needs.
'Go!' She hissed huskily 'or we shall end up
making a spectacle of ourselves right here.'
'I'm not so sure I dare,' he grinned pressing his
proud manhood against her.'
'Dieger was right. I could eat you.' She
confessed.
That particular way of looking at him lingered in
his mind after he broke loose and turned away.
'Could we make that before breakfast, “after” the
night before.' He called over his shoulder.
In the casino, which was so packed by now, it
was
impossible to move freely. Scott shuffled his way
toward Dieger at the bar while scanning the heads
to see what had become of Mohammed.
There was no sign of him anywhere and when
asked
how he had got on with his negotiation a broad
smile spread over Dieger's face..
'Mister! You smell like a whores boudoir.'
'I'm not surprised,' Scott grinned. 'She all but
                        409
shagged me on the spot. I think she might have if
I
had held out a little longer.'
'Well, for what it's worth Mohammed will be on
the first plane out of here. We've agreed a deal in
principal, the only question is when. The
shipment
is to be collected at Pakta, a remote Tibetan
village close to his base just across the Pakistani
boarder. How about you?'
Sahara is aching to do a deal. I reckon the clamp
down has crippled her trade to the point of
shutting her down. All you have to do is go out
there and talk to the lady.'
'That‟s no lady,' Dieger retorted. „She's one
264
hell of a woman though. Did she try to find out
how
we plan to make our deliveries back in the States
by any chance?'
'She did but didn't press the subject when I
denied any knowledge it your plans. What I did
tell
her to put her off the scent a bit, was to tell how
I picked up Max's shipment using the catamaran.
Although I led her to believe it was for you and
not him.'
'Well done. Now I'd best get out there, so why
don't you get yourself some chips and try your
luck
at the tables?'
                        410
'I'm not so sure about that,' Scott frowned. 'I
can't say that I'm inspired by what I've seen so
far. I think I'll just hang on at the bar with a
drink for a while.'
'Suit yourself, but try to think of your image.
You're supposed to be one of the jet-set now.'
Diegers frown of displeasure remained imprinted
on his mind, so after finishing his drink he
approached the cashier's cage to purchase some
chips.
At the blackjack table the game seemed slow and
did nothing to fire his enthusiasm. Never the less,
when a seat became vacant he sat down and
dealer
expertly skated the first cards across the baize to
each player.
Scott took a peep at his then placed a blue chip
on the table for his bet. The dealer sensing that
he was not familiar with the colour codes,
reached
out to turn the chip over to reveal the hundred
pound denomination face up. When Scott reacted
with
a bland look he proceeded to skate a second card
all round.
He lifted its corner. It was the ace of hearts to
his ace of diamonds.
'Split them and double your stake,' A female
voice advised from behind.
Half expecting it to be Sahara he turned, but to
                        411
his surprise he found himself staring at the
Amazon
265
lady.
Since she was standing and he was sitting, he
dropped his eyes to ponder the delights of her
ample breasts, which were barely contained in the
soft chamois leather brassier.
'It seems a shame. They look perfect as a pair.'
he said provocatively
She smiled, revealing beautifully white teeth,
and her eyes mirrored her appreciation of what
she
took to be a compliment.
Turning back he parted the aces without a word
and place a second blue chip on the table.
The dealer flicked a second card face up on each,
the king of diamonds and the king of hearts.
'A superstitious gambler would take that as a
sign of good luck,' the Amazon lady predicted.
'I'm neither a gambler or superstitious. Where I
come from they call it beginners luck.'
The double win failed to inspire him to continue
such a slow game, so nodding his thanks he
withdrew
to the bar and ordered another drink.
'You're not an easy person to get acquainted
with,' a voice reproached. When he turned it was
to
find the young Amazon standing at his side.
'Sorry, I guess I'm not at my best tonight. The
                       412
name's James Scott. Can I get you a drink?'
'Sonia Blessed,' she smiled. 'A chilled white
wine will be fine. Do you mind if I call you
Scott?
It has a friendlier ring, and James, Jim or Jimmy
sound boyish.'
'Scott suites me fine.'
'Are you here on holiday?' she asked.
'Partly. I'm involved in the modifications being
carried out on the Atlantic Mirage. It's moored up
at Manoul island in Sliema creek.'
'Is your work interesting?' she asked.
'Sometimes, but things are pretty routine at the
moment. I guess thats why I'm not on good form.
To
be honest I'm just plain bored.'
'Your form was better than average a few minutes
266
ago,' she contradicted. 'Why don't you try your
luck at the roulette table?'
'You wouldn't be one of those beautiful young
ladies the casino employs to encourage punters to
play the tables and preferably loose their money
would you?' he asked directly. 'No offense
intended
of course.'
'The answer is no, and none taken. 'I'm a police
woman. Plain cloths.'
'Well theres nothing plain about the ones you're
wearing I can assure you. And you should know
better than to walk round like that. The sight of
                       413
you is enough to drive a man crazy with lust.'
'But not you? She challenged.
'Showing my feelings in public is not one of my
failings. What are you doing here anyway?
You're
obviously on duty,' he challenged in an effort to
find out why she had struck up an acquaintance
with
him.
'Oh, What brings you to that conclusion?'
'Being little more than a country boy, I couldn't
even begin to guess,' he smiled taking a sip of his
drink. 'Would you care to give me the benefit of
your experience at the roulette table?'
'I'd Love to. To be honest I can't afford the
luxury on my own account. The wages just don't
run
to those extravagances'
'Don't you get expenses when you are on this kind
of duty.' Scott inquired.
'Huh, Not even enough to buy myself a drink.' she
assured.
'Well I'll tell you what I'll do. You come over
there and we'll see if it's lady luck or that old
devil who's sitting in my corner tonight. If I
loose it's down to me. But if I win, you get a half
share. How does that sound.'
'I'm afraid I can't accept money under any
circumstances. Officially I'm on duty.'
'Oh, and what are you supposed to be looking
for.' Scott asked. 'Cheating punters, pick pockets
                        414
267
and stuff like that?'
'No, nothing in particular. Just keeping an eye
on things in general,' She assured.
Scott placed the two blue chips he had won
squarely on the number thirty six, where upon
everyone at the table turned in surprise to see who
had made such a foolhardy wager. Horrified at
Scott's apparent ignorance Sonia reached out to
retrieve it.
'You shouldn't bet like that.'
He restrained her hand. 'It's bad luck to change
a bet so I'm told, so let it ride.'
But it's not a wise bet,' she protested. There
are several---'
His hand held firm. 'Thats my choice,' he
insisted. 'As I see it, all I can loose is what I
won in the first place, so it's not as though it's
my money.'
'But thirty six was the last number to win,'
Sonia persisted. 'Have you any idea what the odds
are against it coming up again?
'Not a clue.' He admitted.
'One thousand, three hundred and eighty six to
one against.' she said emphatically.
Scott grinned. 'It's easy to see why you're not
out on the street directing traffic.'
The ivory ball began to click around the spinning
wheel of fortune, and something about his
secretive
smile told her that he was aware of the fact that
                        415
she had acquainted herself with him for other
reasons than his company.
Gasps of surprise from other players brought his
soul searching look from her back to the game.
'Number thirty six wins,' the croupier declared
as though he had a frog in his throat.
'Bingo! Scott shouted throwing his arm around
her
shoulder. 'How much have I won?'
'Seven thousand pounds plus your stake,' she
beamed. 'Your luck is unbelievable.'
'Well done young man,' An elderly well dressed
268
and well spoken Englishman complimented. 'It
makes
a pleasant change to see someone riding the tiger
without falling off.
Take some good advice. Either ride your luck or
quit while you are ahead. By that I mean play
your
own game. No offense intended my dear.' he
concluded with a friendly smile to Sonia.
'I'll do just that,' Scott promised as he scooped
up his winnings.
'Are you going to quit?' Sonia asked, seeing him
holding back while the other players placed their
wagers.
'No,' he replied. 'I'm just thinking. Every fibre
of my body is screaming for me to back thirty six
again.'
That's absolutely ludicrous! You might just as
                       416
well throw your money down the toilet. The
wager is
against impossible odds. Even I can't begin to
calculate them.'
Before she had time to draw another breath Scott
had placed a stack of chips on number thirty six.
'Thats why some people come here isn't it?' The
old gentleman remarked. 'To play the odds. To
challenge fate to take what they have or bestow
on
them riches beyond their wildest dreams.'
Reaching out he placed his own bet alongside
Scott's. 'Easy come easy go,' he smiled.
'No wonder people say the English are half
crazy,' Sonia sighed.
'Only half,' the old gentleman smiled.
'We're all pulling for you.' Another player
chirped. 'Despite the odds against I'm going to
chance my arm along with you.'
As the seconds passed, so the chips of various
denominations from most other players backed
his
intuition. The croupier stood with beads of sweat
forming on his brow, hardly believing his eyes.
On
this occasion, after spinning the wheel he raised
his hands as though in serenader and stepped well
back in order to dispel any accusations of the
game
269
being fixed.
                       417
Suddenly, Scott realized the whole room had
become hushed, with only the tiny white ball
clicking as the wheel spun. Bodies of the
intrigued
formed a crushing wide circle as they to had
become
entranced by the play.
As though in slow motion the wheel slowed and
the
clicking of the ball became more pronounced in
the
expectant silence. When it stopped at last on
number thirty six the whole house erupted.
Sonia threw her arms around Scott's neck forcing
him off balance into the wall of bodies.
'You did it,' She cried.
Guessing that if anything would draw Dieger and
Sahara in from the balcony, it would be the
jubilant cries of the crowd, Scott planned his next
move.
'We surely did!' he shouted, lifting her in a
bear hug.
While pats of congratulations rained down his
shoulders from those that had backed his play, he
spotted the elderly gentleman shouldering his
way
toward him.
'Congratulations and well done, my lad,' he
beamed. 'I just knew you would do it the moment
I
laid eyes on you. I backed your play, and not only
                        418
did I recover my loses, but I won several
thousand
on top.'
'I guess it's been my lucky day.' Scott smiled.
'Have you any idea of the odds against such a
wager?' the old gentleman asked.
'I doubt that I could count that high,' Scott
confessed as he spotted Dieger. 'You'll have to
excuse me. All this excitement has brought on the
call of nature.‟
'But you can't break off now,' the old gentleman
insisted. 'You are standing on the threshold of a
phenomenon that anyone would consider himself
lucky
to witness, let alone be a part of.'
'Not being a habitual gambler I wouldn't know
270
much about that,' Scott confessed. 'And breaking
the bank of Malta's only casino isn't my idea of
having a good time.
Now if you will excuse me, I have to pay a visit
before I do a childish thing and piss my pants'
'The old gentleman laughed. 'Dear boy I've
already pissed mine. Give us some numbers
before
you go and let your young lady play while you're
away.' he persisted.
Surveying the expectant faces he could see they
believed every word of the elderly gamblers
prediction. They were hungry, some for revenge,
                       419
while others just wanted to witness the breaking
of
the bank.
'Try number one followed nine, nineteen and ten.
But don't blame me if you loose your shirts'
'How much shall I bet?' Sonia called after him as
he rushed toward the toilets.
'Suit yourself,' he called over his shoulder.
Passing water after straining not too, proved to
be no easy task. For what seemed an age he just
stood until finally a dribble turned to a gush.
Much relieved he returned to intercept Dieger and
Sahara just inside the balcony doors where they
had
stopped to watch the excitement from a distance.
'You had me worried when I saw you dash off to
the toilet. What was all the ruckus about? Dieger
asked
'Just because I won a couple of times on the
roulette some crank go it into his head that I was
the man to break the bank.' he explained. 'But
right now I'd like a word in private?'
'Well it looks like someone in making a good
try,' Sahara smiled when the crowd erupted
jubilantly again. „You carry on. I think I'll go
see what all the excitement is about.'
The jubilations spread to such an extent that
every one was now taking an interest. Even those
tending the deserted bar had found something to
stand on and were craning their heads to see.
271
                       420
'What's the problem? Dieger asked.
'When we arrived I noticed two people giving us
the eye. A young woman dressed as an Amazon
and a
man as a cave man. When I voiced my
suspicions, you
said you had people covering us.'
'That's right, but I didn't pay much attention to
those you mentioned. What's bothering you about
them.?
'The woman struck up a friendship with me. She's
a detective.'
'Did she tell you that?' Dieger asked.
'Yes' Scott assured.
'Has she asked any questions that might give a
clue to what she's after?'
'Only what was I doing here and what did I do for
a living.' he admitted. 'Not that I've given her
much chance,' he added. 'When I was playing
roulette things just went crazy after I beat the
odds a couple of times.'
Seeing Dieger's face turn to focus on the crowd
surrounding the roulette table.
'You think I'm cracking up don't you?' Scott
accused.
'I know you better than that,' Dieger admitted.
'I'm simply trying to justify the reasoning behind
your fears in order to get to grips with what's
going on.'
'My guess is that Sneider is the common
denominator,' Scott speculated. 'He was a pain in
                       421
the butt at Gatwick airport before we left
England,
on the flight here and when we arrived.
If the authorities think I had something to do
with his death and have been checking on me,
they'll have found out that I'm working for you.
And now assuming they know who and what
Sahara
represents, they will have linked us to her.'
'Has she mentioned anything about Sneider's
skicycle
racing,' Dieger asked as the roulette players
erupted again.'
'Not yet. She hasn't had the chance. And just for
272
the record, was news of Sneider's death made
public? I'd hate to be drawn into a conversation
about him only to find out that it wasn't.'
'No. I found out by accident. The news papers
only reported that the body of a man with a
skicycle
tattooed on his chest had been fished out of
the Grand Harbour.
The problem is how to warn Sahara without
letting
her know we suspect that she was behind
Sneider's
death.'
'Since I seem to be the link between them,
perhaps it would be wise for me to disappear.'
Scott suggested.
                       422
'Maybe we all should,' Dieger mused. 'If they
start digging they might start wondering what the
connection is between a narcotics queen and an
international arms dealer. I think perhaps I'll
make her aware that we're under surveillance
before
we leave. Get yourself a drink and be ready to
move
as soon as I say.'
'I'll have to get myself disentangled from Sonia
first. She took my place at the roulette table, and
if I'm not mistaken she's increased my winnings
considerably.'
Before he could move Dieger reached out to a
tiny
white smudge just above the handkerchief in the
breast pocket of Scott's jacket. And using one
finger scraped the nail over it.
'If I'm not mistaken this is coke,' he said
touching it on his tongue. Then he dipped his
finger inside the pocket to retrieve a small fold
of white paper.
'To the best of my knowledge you have only been
in close contact with two women, this could only
be
down to one of them. I think you are being set up
and I can't see Sahara having anything to gain by
having you arrested for possession.
Scott blood surged at the thought and Dieger felt
the best way to proceed was with caution.
'Go to the toilet again and get yourself checked
                        423
273
for any more of these, and calm yourself down
before you come back. Just act like nothing has
happened.‟
After entering a cubical a thorough search
produced two more sachets of white powder
which he
flushed away. Then filled with a deep cold anger
he
left the mens room to return to the bar where he
joined Dieger and Sahara who were watching the
hysteria at the roulette table.
'My, you look so solemn,' Sahara mocked.
'With good reason. Did Spiro enlighten you as to
what he found in my top pocket? On top of that
I've
just flushed two more packets down the toilet.'
'You're not suggesting that I put it there I
hope?. What would I have to gain by it? I suggest
you contemplate who might gain something by
having
you arrested.
'That would be to simple,' Dieger said. 'Scott
has had a phobia of being watched ever since we
arrived. This proves that something is about to go
down. What or for what reason, I don't know.
And
I'm sure as hell not about to hang around to find
out. You'd best cash in your chips before we
leave.' he advised Scott.
'It might be a good idea if you both went to the
                       424
powder your noses before we do,' Scott suggested
'You might find you're carrying too?'
With some misgivings he shouldered his way
through the crowd to where Sonia sat at the table
with several neat stacks of chips in front of her.
'You've won a fortune,' She beamed.
'Thank god you come back,' Interrupted the
elderly gentleman. 'Haven't won a thing since
your
numbers run out.'
'Sorry about that,' Scott said coldly. 'Maybe you
should cut and run while your ahead. That's what
I
intend doing. Let's get cashed in,' he ordered
turning to Sonia.
'Have you got something to put these in? She
asked, searching his face for a clue for his brisk
274
tone.
Without thinking he reached for the handkerchief
in his breast pocket. A flicker of fear reflected
briefly in her eyes. When his hand froze, she
instinctively looked up at him, and in that
moment
knew she had been found out.
'I think it's time we had our selves a little
chat,' he said quietly, shaking the folds of his
handkerchief free.
'About what? She said with a modicum of
uncertainty.
'About small white packets that mysteriously find
                       425
there way into peoples pockets,' he replied. 'And
don't bother denying it. The truth is written all
over your face. Apart from that there's a witness.'
he lied.
'Could we talk over a drink? She asked, and his
curt nod drew a smile of relief.
At the cashiers desk he showed his appreciation.
'Deduct a blue chip for each of the croupiers and
bar staff. Divide the rest into two equal checks.
One made payable to Mr James Scott. That's with
two
“T”s. The other to Sonia Blessed.
'No!' She protested. 'My boss's would----'
'Do it!' Scott demanded, cutting her off. 'We'll
be at the bar. I'd appreciate it if you would send
our checks over when you're ready.'
Giving her no chance to argue, he took her by the
elbow and guided her to the bar where they sat
alone. Dieger and Sahara were nowhere to be
seen,
but he guessed they would not be far away.
'I'll have a double G and T with plenty of ice
and a slice on lemon. The lady,' he continued in a
heavy sarcastic tone, 'will have a large tonic with
ice. I assume “you” are still on duty.'
She met his accusing gaze, but failed to find the
words to answer.
'So what have you got to say for yourself? He
demanded angrily. 'Is normal practice for the
Maltese police to get convictions by fitting
275
                        426
innocent people up? Is that how you boost your
tally of arrests to justify your existence?'
'No!' she snapped. 'It's how we are sometimes
forced to react when high powered criminals
come
here to ply there trade and corrupt our people.'
'And the Maltese government condones such
actions!' Scott challenged.
'No' she admitted. 'I was acting on my own. I'll
be dismissed if you report me.'
'So why don't you tell me about your problem?'
He
invited mellowing a little. 'Maybe I can help
dispel some of your fears.'
She gave him a drop dead look of as the barman
placed their drinks on the bar. 'Your checks,' he
said placing them on the bar. 'And the staff thank
you for your generosity.'
'You're welcome,' Scott said pushing a check
toward Sonia.
'I can't accept it. It wouldn't look good in the
eyes of my superiors.'
Scott glanced down at the check. It was £84-500.
'There must be a hundred witnesses to prove how
you came by it,' he argued. 'And since you came
by
it honestly, it can't be misconstrued as a bribe.
As for getting the sack because of it – well,
with that kind of money tucked away for a rainy
day, I don't suppose it would cause much
hardship.'
                       427
'Why should you care after what I tried to do to
you?' she challenged.
'It's not a question of caring one way or the
other. It's a question of sticking by my word. And
for another thing, I'm more than a little curious
to find out what's going on inside that pretty
little head of yours. So how about an explanation?
She picked up the check and studied it for a long
time before speaking.
'You arrived here on the same flight as a man
called Sneider,' she said at last. 'Are you aware
the of the fact that he was tortured to death.
Sadistically murdered‟ she added.
276
There was no way he could feign surprise. 'I
heard about a man with a tattoo being fished out
of
the Grand Harbour, but I had no idea that was
Sneider or that he'd been tortured.
'According to my inquiries, you two didn't
exactly hit it off too well. Your arguments on the
flight here are a matter of record.'
'That was all a sham,' Scott aassured. 'A
publicity stunt. We often raced our ski-cycles for
high stakes back home.
His needling me was no more than you see
between
between professional boxers, boosting the publics
interest to increase the purse.'
'There has never been any mention of any such
race taking place here before,' she countered.
                       428
'It was a publicity stunt.' Scott explained 'The
challenge was to be made after a great deal more
aggravation had taken place. Unfortunately he
disappeared from the scene before the gauntlet
could be thrown down.'
'Why couldn't you just declare that you were
going to race? And why come all the way to
Malta
anyway?' Sonia challenged.
'You don't come to a place like this just to have
a race, it's no-where‟s-ville.' he explained. 'I
doubt if a proper racing ski-cycle has ever been
seen here before. An atmosphere has to be created
and sponsors like Dieger and Sahara don't finance
the likes of me and Sneider for the fun of it. They
do it for profit as well as pleasure.
'But why here? Sonia persisted.
'You should ask that. Look around.' he invited.
'What do you see? Rich people who love to
gamble,
and calm seas that are perfect for our type of
racing. If Dieger, Sahara or myself had any
motive
concerning Sneider, it would have been to keep
him
alive.'
'I'm not so sure that I believe you, but I
apologize for planting the dope on you. I had
thoughts of having you arrested for possession
and
277
                        429
getting you talk during your interrogation. It
might be a good idea if you found your friends
and
left the casino. We know that many people are
using
drugs at the party, and there's a raid planned
immediately after the firework display.
'Fireworks and more fireworks. Scott groaned. 'It
seems a shame to let all that excitement go to
waste. Why don't we meet up later and make a
night
of it?
'I should be so lucky.' Sonia said. 'If things go
as I expect, I'll be spending the rest of the night
carrying out investigations and taking statements.
But there's a carnival over at Rabat tomorrow
night. You could take me to see that.'
'You've got yourself a date.' he agreed. 'But
please put some cloths on. A man can only take
so
much!'
Chapter 11
Sahara soon realized that Sneider's death was a
big mistake, and to have expected the Maltese
authorities to accord her the same misplaced
respect she received back in Columbia was an
even
bigger one.
The morning after the party she was questioned
about being seen riding his ski-cycle, but
managed
                        430
to lie her way out of what could have been a
disastrous situation by declaring that she had it
purchased from him .
Another miscalculation was thinking that she
could discover Dieger's method of making
guaranteed
deliveries of drugs to anywhere in the world. The
spy she had sent on board the Atlantic Mirage
returned empty handed. And to make matters
worse,
Scott used Sonia to keep her at a distance until
after her own premature departure.
Dieger spent most of his time on board the
Atlantic Mirage pushing the work force. When
they
278
sailed two day's later, much of the modification
work was still in progress.
Although this meant all hands had to do extra
duties under the guidance of the engineers, it also
removed the boredom from the ships routine and
helped form a genuine bond between the crew.
Dieger
himself seemed to revel getting his hands dirty,
which earned him the crew's deepest respect.
After cruising for three days and two nights at
half speed, the ship was hardly recognizable.
Tons
of old iron and winches with their rotting wire
hawser cables had been jettisoned into the sea.
The
                        431
decks and superstructure had been de-scaled and
freshly painted.
Late on the third evening there was an air of
excitement on the bridge where Pike kept a
constant
watch. The night was warm and the brightness of
the
moon reflected off the calm Mediterranean sea up
to
a clear sky. Way over the horizon a golden dome
of
light mushroomed above the city of Algiers.
'Latitude 36 degrees, nine minutes north.
Longitude 7 degrees east. ETA 15 minutes,' Pike
informed Dieger. Our supply ships are just over
the
horizon Sir.'
'Thank you Mr Pike. Stop all engines. I'll stand
by on the bridge – you take care of the loading
and
stowing.'
'Yes sir,' he replied as his large fist hauled
the brass telegraph handle back and forth twice
before coming to rest at 'stop engines'. The harsh
ringing echoed on the bridge in unison with one
in
the engine room. Seconds later the chief engineer
confirmed the order by repeating it on the engine
room telegraph back to the bridge.
Slowly the ship cruised to a stop. Then it seemed
to acquire a strange eeriness. When Pike left the
                       432
bridge to carry out his duties Scott joined Dieger.
'It looks like we'll be under starters orders
pretty soon. Sometimes I can hardly believe all
this is happening to me. It's almost as though I'm
279
living two lives.' Scott philosophized.
'There are times when I wish that were possible.'
Dieger replied. 'Sometimes I really crave for a
life of obscurity. To be a mister no-body with a
dumpy little wife and a couple of kids. Popping
into one of your British pubs to banter with the
locals, sounds like heaven.'
'I feels that far away too,' Scott said. 'Don't
you ever take a few months off to get away from
all
this?'
'Every year, just like the average Joe. But I
haven't taken a wife. Not only would she be at
risk, considering my work, but I'd hardly ever get
to see her anyway.
When it comes to making friends – well, you
don't
make many out side this business. At least not the
kind you would want to spend a long holiday
with.'
'What do you do for relaxation then? Scott asked.
'I've got a cabin tucked away up in the hills
back home,' he said thoughtfully. 'It's isolated
and there's plenty of hunting. There's also some
woodsy outback towns not to far away where a
man
                        433
can really let his hair down without getting coast
to     coast      news     coverage    about      his
misdemeanours.'
'Looks like we've got company,' Scott observed
as
distant flotilla craft appeared moving at high
speed on the horizon.
A faint smile of satisfaction creased Dieger's
brow. 'That will be your brainchild, the fast
attack craft. They'll be standing by while all the
other equipment is being loaded. I'm going to be
tied up with communications and the like up here,
but you can go down to watch if you want.'
Sensing he had things to take care of that he
preferred no one else to be privy too, Scott took
his invitation as a polite request and made his
way
down to the massive docking well. The great
stern
doors were already open and the docking well
flooded in readiness to receive cargo.
For a few moments he stood in awe at what he, a
280
nobody from no where, had set in motion.
A hundred yards away four fast attack craft were
stationed like sentinels acting as guards of
honour. Beyond those at a distance of two miles
an
Aldis lamp flickered briefly.
Minutes later he picked out the dark squat shapes
of a whole feet of amphibious landing craft. As
                         434
they forged a passage toward him, two Sea
Knight
helicopters came in low with large refrigerated
containers suspended beneath them.
For several minutes the gentle humming of the
ships generators was shattered by the loud roar of
engines as they hovered while lowering them
outside
onto the main deck. After they had been secured
the
helicoptors landed and were made safe as their
crews stood by.
The first of a fleet of landing craft entered the
docking well with there four man crews all clad
in
camouflage fatigues. These were filled to
capacity
with additional crated torpedo's and more
mechanisms to launch them.
Appearing like large steel motorized barges of
some forty feet in length, they cruised to the far
end of the docking well. Then, one by one they
were
manouvered onto the massive lifts and hauled
aloft
on the cradle-like stacking rack.
Last of all it was the turn of the fast attack
craft to ease forward in pairs to positions on
either side the lower gallery. When this was
completed the main doors were closed and the
draining of the docking well began. As the water
                       435
line receded the fast attack craft settled into
their cradles and were made secure in readiness
for
the next stage of the voyage.
During all this activity Scott cast his eyes over
them. Their shape was sleek, specifically
designed
to cleave through the high sea's at top speed.
Their armaments included two 40mm Bofors
guns on
the forward decks.
'They're powerful looking craft. How does it feel
281
seeing your ideas coming together?' Pike
inquired.
Sensing Scott‟s inhibitions as his own mind
flashed back, recalling battle scenes which had
imprinted their torment in his memory.
From the battle weary G I's that had turned to
drugs in order to blot out the unending horrors of
war, his thoughts moved on to the slaughter of his
entire family, that had come about because of the
rivalry and trafficking in drugs. In an attempt to
convey his understanding, he gently placed his
great paw-like hand on Scott's shoulder.
'At a guess I'd say that you've never been to
war.' he said quietly. 'And I pray to god that you
never have too.
By the same token you must try to understand the
feelings of those of us who have. What you are
looking at are tools of war for which they was
                       436
never intended. Generally speaking, anyone
trading
in narcotics can just walk away if he or she
chooses.
Unfortunately their victims can't. They are stuck
with a craving they can't cope with. Mothers sell
their bodies, and those of their children in order
to get money for drugs. And fathers do likewise.
When there's nothing left to sell, they turn
against society to rob and pillage. Very often they
stoop to commit murder, while the people we are
after live in absolute luxury at their expense.
When you look at those weapons and wonder
about
the carnage and pain they might inflict, try to
imagine the effect, if we were really working for
the Mafia. At the rate of one trip every couple of
months, delivering a hundred tonnes of the stuff, I
dread to think what the results would be.'
Scott felt deeply touched. In all the time he had
known Pike, he had never shown this
compassionate
side, or such gentleness.
'What bothers me most at this particular moment,
is what damage will our first hundred tonnes
cause
if we fail to stop it getting on to the streets?'
282
'Look at it like a day's fishing.' Pike advised.
'You bait your hook and cast your line. When the
fish bites you haul him in: hook, line, bait and
                        437
all. Sure a few might get away but they get caught
eventually because they can't resist the bait. And
let's face it, the fish we're after don't come any
bigger or greedier. They are worse than
scavenging
sharks.
Once we have our hooks into the Mafia and we've
wiped out the bulk of the main producers,
trafficking drugs is going to fall flat on it's
can.'
„Before Scott could answer, a loud shrieking
scream rent the air bringing all activity to a
standstill. All heads turned in search of the
cause. The distance was to great to recognize
faces, but high up on the topmost galleries,
several men surrounded a denim clad figure that
was
backed up against the guardrail overlooking the
docking well above the landing craft.
It was obviously a woman, for a torrent of long
golden hair hung over into space as she leaned
back
in fear of the hungry faces that taunted her.
'Jesus Christ!' Scott swore 'It's Sonia!'
Fearing her panic might result in a fall, he and
Pike raced up the iron stairways and along the
galleries. Pike clawed his through the tight circle
of men, shouldering them aside like rag dolls.
Sonia immediately threw her arm around Scott's
neck.
'Thank god you came,' she sobbed as Pikes voice
                        438
boomed.
'Okay, the funs over! Back to work! You've seen
the female species before!'
'Year,' sneered one burly bruiser, who seemed to
be the ringleader 'but not on board ship where
they
have no business being. Give her to us and we'll
see that she keeps what she's seen to herself!'
Sonia shuddered, tightening her grip around
Scott's neck. spite the situation he enjoyed the
283
feel of her against him, but cringed at the
ugliness of the sailors reaction to Pike's
authority.
'Move your butt's! He demanded taking a stride
forward.
His great fist came up like a sledgehammer to
catch the ringleader squarely on the jaw. His head
jerked back violently but his body remained
unmoved. Raising his hand to touch his jaw, he
fixed Pike with a deadly glare.
'I figure you you owe me.' he rasped.
'You know the procedure.' Pike snarled. 'Put your
name on the list and join the queue along with
anyone else that feels he's got a grudge.'
'You've got it,' leered the sailor before turning
away.
'Now young lady,' Pike growled turning to Sonia.
'suppose you explain your presence here.'
Scott chipped in before she could speak. 'This is
                       439
Sonia. We were dating back in Malta.' he
explained.
'Ah, the long arm of the law,' Pike mocked. 'I'm
afraid your a shade out of your jurisdiction here.
I think the captain will be interested to hear what
you have to say about your stowing away.'
Scott nodded and followed Pike with Sonia at his
side.
'What will they do to me? She whispered.
'I really don't know. What on gods green earth
were you thinking about when you stowed away?
Surely you must have realized there was no way
you
could stay hidden for long? It's not as though you
could blend in with the crew to get food or
exercise.'
'You haven't asked the most important question.'
Pike pointed out without turning. 'Why did she
stow
away in the first place? If she wanted to travel,
from what I here, finance wasn't a problem.'
'No, but the man I love happens to be here. And
since you carry no passengers stowing away
seemed
to be the only way of being with him.'
284
'Love is blind, but I'm not and neither are you,'
Pike assured. 'I'm afraid you've seen to much for
your own good. This is one of those times when I
don't envy the man who makes the decisions.'
'If you are referring to your clandestine
                        440
meetings at sea and your secret arms deals, they
mean nothing to me,' Sonia assured. 'In fact, from
what I hear, you Americans are often supplying
secret shipments of arms to various Israeli and
Arab forces.'
Stopping at Dieger's quarters, Pike pushed the
door open. 'You'd better make yourselves at home
in
here. I'll inform Spiro of the situation and no
doubt he'll be with you soon.' Then looking at
Scott he added. 'Don't expect too much, this is a
deadly serious situation.'
They went inside and when Pike closed the door
behind them, Sonia swung into Scott's arms and
kissed him passionately. He returned her fire,
recalling better times in Malta.
'I love you,' she whispered breaking free.
'Lets hope Dieger believes thats enough,' Scott
said without committing himself.
Surprised at his cool retort, 'What do you mean
by “enough”' she asked.
'This isn't a pleasure cruise, and our mission
isn't quite what you may suspect it to be. Beyond
that I can't tell you anything.'
'What's going on? She persisted. 'I can guess
what's in those barges. Even the presence of those
gunboats doesn't surprise me. What does is your
reaction to my being here. I can almost smell the
fear oozing out of you. What are you afraid of?'
'For the moment,' he said firmly 'the least I say
                       441
the better. Why don't I pour us some coffee and
be
patient? Spiro won't be long now the ships
underway.'
'Is it normal for lowly crew members to be on
first name terms with their captain.‟
'I'm not exactly a member of his crew, lowly or
285
otherwise. Now what shall it be?'
'A large brandy would do wonders for my nerves,'
she admitted. 'If you are not a member of the
crew,
perhaps the captain could put us both ashore.
Would
you like that?'
'It's not a case of what I would like, even if he
did agree. I have a purpose in life which I intend
to see through to it's conclusion at whatever
cost.'
'Even if it means loosing me? She pouted.
'I told you that I'd be coming back,' Scott
hedged. 'You should have been patient.'
'You make my presence here sound – well,
almost
like a death sentence hanging in the balance.'
'Quite!' Dieger declared from the open door.
'You're a very devious young lady. How did you
manage to get on board without being seen.'
'I tucked my hair in my cap and mingled with
some
                       442
of your crew when they came back on board.
They
were a bit to typsey to notice.'
'Did you bring any clothing or food? If not you
must be starving after all this time.'
'No, and yes I am starving.'
'Scott, why don't you escourt here down to the
galley to get her something to eat,' Dieger
suggested.
'You're not mad at me for stowing away?' she
asked.
'It does pose a problem,' he admitted. 'Putting
you ashore is out of the question, but letting you
remain on board is not going to be much to your
liking. Your movements will be very restricted
I'm
afraid. The crews recreation rooms, their quarters
and places of work – specifically the docking
well
and the bridge, must be no go areas for you.'
Her face clouded for a moment and then
brightened. 'All I ask is to be with Scott,' she
smiled.
'Glad to hear it.' Dieger smiled, but he didn't
believe a word she said.
286
The moment the door closed behind them Dieger
called Pike on the telephone to explain the
situation.
'I want her watched 24-7,' he ordered 'If she is
here on somebody else's behalf, she'll probably
                       443
need some means of communicating with them.
Scour
the ship for a hidden transmitter. Start with the
lifeboats and work down.'
'Your personal launch has a radio, 'Pike pointed
out.'
'Get the chief to rig a tape to it, and monitor
any calls. I want to be informed of any
communications immediately, but I don't want
her
stopped until we know what her motives are.
Then
scour the boat for anything she may have brought
on
board with her.'
'I'll get the duty officer to organise a search
straight away,' pike assured.
After finishing with Pike, he rang Soames, the
chief steward, apologizing for disrupting his
sleep.
'You're joking,' he replied caustically. 'I've
just got back after having a hassle with the
gunboat crews.'
'What's the problem with them?' Dieger sighed.
'Your instructions to provide accommodation
neglected to inform me that they were all
Vietnamese. I allocated them a messroom of their
own and laid on staff to cater for them.
They had a steak meal after settling in, but the
trouble is they're not used to the same diet as us.
I've had to detail an assistant storeman to liaise
                        444
with them. Now they can draw their own stores
each
day and cook for themselves.'
'My apologies. I never gave that much thought. If
you haven't already heard, we have a lady
stowaway
on board. She'll need some cloths and a cabin.'
'I'm afraid all my dresses are at the cleaners,'
Soames mocked. 'Maybe some of my staff can
help.
The sex of some of them is questionable. Is there
287
any truth to the rumour that it's that gorgeous
blond Scott was sparking?'
'It is. Can you fix her up with some denims or
something?'
'Sure. I'll take her down to the stores and she
can help herself. As for the cabin, wouldn't it be
better if she moved in with Scott. Apart from
their
love life being no secret, it would restrict her
liberty and he could keep an eye on her.'
'I'll give that some thought. My quandary is, if
we keep her too restricted we'll have a hard time
finding out if she's got other motives for stowing
away.'
'Do I detect a hint of mistrust?' Soames said,
stating the obvious.
'Let's say that I'm not entirely convinced about
her motives for stowing away. The more difficult
it
                       445
is for her to move about, the longer it's going to
take for us to find out the truth.
You'd better warn your staff to be wary of her
questions. And I'd like to know of anything about
her that they might feel would be of interest to
me.'
'If you're that concerned, I'll fix her up with a
cabin and assign her a personal steward.'
'The offer might provoke a good result if she
accepts it.‟ Dieger agreed. „Have her steward
report to you twice a day.' he ordered.
He replaced the telephone only to have it ring
again.
'Dieger, speak.‟ he said.
'Jackson, Sir. You said to keep you informed of
the small radar contact that appeared to be
shadowing us a since leaving Malta. It closed in
during our redezvous to a distance of twenty
miles,
then remained stationery. No one on board could
have seen anything from that distance, but it's
closed in to about ten miles abreast of our
starboard side and is keeping pace with us.'
'Are you sure it's the same contact?' Dieger
288
asked.
'Yes Sir. It's a motor yacht. It can be seen
quite clearly from the bridge.
'Keep it under constant surveillance.' Dieger
ordered. 'We're looking for a possible
                       446
communication by Aldis lamp. Probably a
prearranged
signal and no more than a single flash in
response to one from this vessel. I don't suppose
you've been able to establish any identification
have you?'
'No Sir, it's to far away.'
'Well stick with it. If our stowaway does
communicate from here, they may pass a message
on
to a third party.'
'You wouldn't have any idea as to whom that
might
be, would you Sir? It could make the monitoring
much easier.'
Dieger thought about that for a moment. He had
no
doubt that Sonia was using Scott to find out what
their mission was. And since she was well beyond
the limits of her jurisdiction as a member of the
Maltese police force, she could be involved with
some international organization. If that were
something similar to the 'G' force he was sure that
he would have been informed, which left two
possible alternatives.
'She could be working for Sahara Sediki,' he said
at last 'which means transmitting information to
Columbia. Or it could be the Mafia, in which case
we may well be suffering the consequences of
some
sort of feedback from Stoddart's dealings with the
                        447
Leone family in Palermo.
It might be a good idea to check with
headquarters to see it they can dig up any
connection between a Miss Sonia Blessed and the
Leone's, or any Mafia link.'
With a sigh Dieger dimmed the lights and settled
himself into an armchair with a large brandy. He
sipped the amber liquid and twirled the remainder
of its contents so the ice chinked against the
289
glass. Slowly the cubes diminished as he
pondered
the nights events.
Where ever his mind wondered, it always
returned
to the sudden appearance of the stowaway and the
yacht which was never far away.
His heavy lidded eyes closed and the goblet fell
silently to the carpeted deck. In the realms of
sleep beautiful long haired sirens beckoned with
taunts of their shapely bodies as a prize for
leaving his chosen path.
Squabbles among the crew progressed to violent
fights which eventually divided them into two
groups. Those whom stood behind him, and those
faceless ones whom lusted after the sirens
dallying
close at hand. At a given signal both sides
advanced, hunched in readiness to do battle. Then
his faceless opponents broke ranks to challenge
him
                       448
with machete's that glinted in the cold light of
the moon. As he charge forward, it was only to
find
a long haired siren who looked like Sonia
intervening to strike down his attackers.
Perspiration flowed in tiny rivulets down his
face and his cloths clung to his body. The face of
his attacker materialized as his voice boomed in
protest.
'Jesus!' Pike shouted as he came out of his chair
like a rocket with fists ready. 'Hold up it's me!
Pike shouted again. 'Take it easy, you've been
having a bad dream.'
'I'm sorry if I gave you a fright,' Dieger
apologized, wiping the sweat from his face.
'That's okay,' Pike said somberly. 'I guess we
all have bad memories.'
'Do you believe in dreams? Dieger asked,
reaching
for a cigarette.
'Only the ones I can touch – preferably ones with
with plenty of front.'
Dieger drew hard on the cigarette, taking the
smoke deep down into his lungs as though it was
his
last.
290
'She certainly had plenty of that,' he gasped.
'Now what can I do for you?'
Pike held out a sheet of paper. 'Just a report on
                       449
our stowaway. This came over the telegraph
about
her.'
Dieger held out the paper and began to read
aloud.
'Sonia Blessed, one of twin girls born July first,
nineteen fifty eight. Oxford. England.
Tutored by father, Professor Reginald Large
Blessed.
Sister Sabrina overdosed on heroin Nineteen
seventy
eight. Sonia was with the metropolitan Police at
the
time. Left the force after being accused of
planting
half a kilo of heroin on horace Lames Callan, a
known
dealer that suplied her sister with the fatal
overdose.
Neither case proven but Callan was sent down for
three years for posession.
Ninteen seventy nine Sonia Blessed emigrated to
Malta to where she joined the police force in
order to
escape retribution from Callan's friends.
Nineteen eighty, married Alberto Pucci. Nineteen
eighty one Pucci jailed for ten years for
possession.
Devorced nineteen eighty two.
Nineteen eighty six, resigned from police force
and
                       450
is now being sort for questioning in connection
about
the misappropriation of two kilo's of heroin
missing
from a vault in Valleta police station.
'Her presence here doesn't take much working
out.'
Pike suggested.
'No,' Dieger agreed. 'But it does give us food for
thought. Our manifest states that we are running
in
ballast to Santa Marta, Columbia, where we are
due to
pick up a cargo of high grade coffee beans.
Let us suppose she knows that we're going to pick
up
cocaine and hopes to betray us before we make
delivery. But she must know she can't be
guarenteed
we'll allow her to stay on board for that long. If
she
did, there wouldn't be any point in her planting
heroin on the ship once we left Malta.
291
That being the case she must be banking on our
making an unskedualed stop where charges of
trafficking against us would bear some weight
without
harming her to much.'
'Gibralta.' Pike suggested.
                       451
'That's my guess,' Dieger agreed. 'Which brings
us
to the point of how she could guarentee that we'll
stop there.?
'Sickness - a faked apendix or something of that
nature?' Pike suggested.
'Someting a little more draconian I think.' Dieger
pondered. 'Something that would guarentee a
docking or
a beaching at least. An explosion that would hole
the
hull or a fire that would cripple us.'
'Since she had no idea that we are about to pick
up
a dangerous cargo while still at sea, and before
we
went through the Straights of Gibralta, you could
be
right,' Pike agreed.
'In which case she's probably planted some sort of
device down in the docking well where she was
found.
But now she knows that we are carrying a
dangerous
cargo, she must be aware that she's got to move it
or
risk blowing herself up along with us. That is of
course if she hasn't already done so.'
'No chance,'Pike assured. 'She hasn't been able to
go to the John in private since we discovered her.
You
                       452
want I should order a thorough search down
there?'
'Yes, but if you find anything don't remove it. Just
make it safe and install a video camara to watch
it.
We'll work on the theory of letting her re-sight it
before confirming our suspecions. By the time
she
realizes the truth we'll be out in the Atlantic.'
'Surely you're not going to keep her on board
throughout the mission?' Pike asked.
'I'm open to suggestions.' Dieger offered.
'Well you could have some of our people come
and
pick her up and take her into custondy when we
go
through the Straights Of Gibralta.
Dieger's face looked thoughtful for a few
moments
before breaking into a sly grin.
292
'She's a gutsy little broad isn't she?' he smiled.
'I suppose we could do worse than recruit her into
our
ranks. At least that would keep her quite.'
'No comment,' Pike grimaced. 'And she isn't so
little where it counts as I recall.'
'It would solve a problem though. Invite her and
Scott to breakfast in my quarters in half an hour.
You
can join us if you have a mind too?'
                        453
'Problems I've already got,' Pike groaned turning
away.
'By the way, is that yacht still shaddowing us?
Dieger asked?
'No, it sheared off and headed toward Spain.
There
was no attempt to communicate with any one on
board
here.'
After a leisurely shower, Dieger found that his
elusive steward had laid out a complete change of
uderwear and a fresh set of tropical whites. While
he
dressed the chink of cutlery and china filtered
through from his day room and the appeitizing
aroma of
percolating coffee, eggs and bacon filled the air.
'Jason, that smell never ceaces to make my mouth
water.'
'Mine too Sir. I hope your guests won't leave it to
long, or the eggs will spoil. Will you have coffee
while you wait Sir?
'No. I think a glass of chilled grapefuit juice will
do fine to start with. You carry on, I'll help
myself
and my guests can do the same.'
With a chilled refreshing glass of juice in one
hand, he lifted the domed lids to let the enticing
aromas fill the cabin just as a knock on the door
sounded.
                        454
'Come!' he called and Pike poked his head in.
'We've
located the heroin and what appears to be a small
time
bomb. Kolme reckons he‟s made it safe. Do you
still
want them left in situe?'
'Yes. Just keep them under observation. It should
be
interesting to see what she does if she accepts my
offer.'
293
'I've had your launch radio set up and I've
instructed the radio officers to monitor to any
calls
made from it, and to jam any transmissions that
might
prove embarrassing for us.'
'Good. Are you sure you won't stay for breakfast.
There's enough food to feed half the ships crew.'
Pike considered the offer for a moment. The
thought
of a woman like Sonia on a ship dominated by
men of
the calibre of the crew was not pleasing. The
prospect
of her flaunting her body was bound to cause
problems
if she were allowed to display it without
restictions.
                       455
From his point of view he should remain distant
and
aloof so he could speak his mind without
prejudice. On
the other hand, he understood and feared her
beauty
might blind Dieger's judgemenet, or worse, serve
to
hide her true thoughts during their expected
confrontation.
'Well I haven't eaten yet,' he answered
grudgingly,
'And if I don't make myself unavailable, I can't
see
myself stopping until suppertime.'
'What you realy mean is that you're caught
between a
tight spot and a hard place,' Dieger smiled. 'She's
just too beautiful to be trusted. Isn't that the
truth?'
'Near enough,' Pike grinned stepping inside.
'Come!' Dieger called when another knock
sounded.
Scott pushed it open then withdrew to allow
Sonia to
enter. She was wearing denim shorts and a white
short
sleeved shirt that left little to the imagination.
Pike's bland expression give her the feeling of
impending doom, but Dieger's face lit up with a
bright
                        456
smile that reflected his appreciation of her
charisma
and consequently made her feel more at ease.
'This is Mister Pike my first officer.' he said by
way of an introduction.
'Pleased to meet you. And thank you for
protecting
me from your crew when I was discovered. I
dread to
think what might have happened if you hadn't
come
along.'
'What happened then is nothing to what might
have
294
happened after they had been at sea for a while.'
he
said. 'They're a rough bunch at the best of times.'
'Come on Pike. They're not so bad.' Dieger
assured
indicating toward the food trolley. 'Shall we serve
ourselves.'
'I'm easily pleased,' she answered pleasently.
'Fruit juice, a slice of buttered toast and coffee,
otherwise I'll get fat.'
'So be it. You'll excuse us if we indulge I trust?
It's been a long night and I'm sure Mister Pike is
as
hungry as a bear.'
While Dieger and Scott helped themselves to an
                        457
omlets with bacon and kidneys, Pike heaped his
plate
high, beginning with a rare fillet of steak.
'You'll forgive my bluntness,' Sonia said 'but I get
the feeling that your invitation to breakfast in the
privacy of you cabin was more of a royal
command.'
'Well we do have things to talk about, and
perhaps
clear the air so to speek.' Dieger admitted.
'As you are aware, we are carrying a shipment of
what many people might construe as a cargo of
contraband arms. It is also possible that some
rebel
Arab organization may have peruaded you to join
our
ship so you could prevail upon us to hand over
our
cargo to them. An act of piracy in fact.'
'You're joking,' she laughed. 'How could I, a
woman
alone, persuade you and your crew to do anything
against your will?'
„A hidden bomb placed where it could cripple the
ship? he accused offering her the resume' of her
past.
She barely glanced at it. 'You're obviously well
informed, but after my effort to frame Scott at the
casino I'd have thought this would be self
explanatory.'
'Oh it is,' Dieger agreed. 'The death of your sister
                        458
has obviously inspired in you a need to wipe out
drug
dealers whenever and wherever you are able. And
as far
as you're concerned the end justifies the means.'
'I'd sell my soul to the devil just for the
privilege of putting one of those big time
scumbags
295
away in prison if thats what it takes.' she admitted
with a modicum of passion. 'But why should that
give
you cause for concern?'
'You didn't just happen to be at the casino. You
were primed and waiting for us.' Dieger accused.
'That's not quite true,' she argued. 'The
observations there had been planned weeks
ahead. But
then quite by chance I recognized Sahara Sediki
and
knew her for what she was.
After that I saw her virtualy seducing Sneider.
Then
I began to wonder if she was planning to use him
to
smuggle drugs into Malta from Scily. It's only
ninety
three kilometres, and a ski-cycle would be much
more
difficult to detect than a power boat or yacht.
In my effort to prove my theory I approached him
                        459
with an offer that I though would be similar to
what
she might have made. He just laughed, but
despite that
we remained on freindly terms.
I continued to badger him in hope of finding out
the
connection between them, and eventualy he told
me that
he had come to Malta hoping earn some big prize
money.
'I began to check on every visitor and Scott was
an
obvious suspect since they travelled together and
shared an interest in ski-cycle racing. Since he
was
staying on this vessel, it was easy to link him to
you.
Anyway, Sneider let it slip that Sahara was
interested in where you were and when you were
expected to arrive. Although I wasn't aware that
you
were going to the casino, I suspected she would
be
there hoping to meet you. I also knew that
Mohammed,
who is well known as a big wheel in the drugs
world,
was going to be there too. So apart being drawn
to
                       460
Scott I had already singled him out as my best
chance
of gaining more information.
'That's all very interesting,' Dieger admitted, 'but
it doesn't explain why you stowed away on my
ship. And
please spare me anymore of this 'love at first sight
crap.' he added bluntly.
Her eye's flicked for a moment to Pike's face and
296
the look in his eyes made her squirm to the point
of
feeling unclean. As she shifted her weight in her
chair her leg came in contact with his and she
quickly
withdrew it as though she had been stung. Her
eye's
immdiately returned to his face as he offered a
polite
opology. If anything, with his scared face she
thought
him to be ugly - yet his touch excited her in a way
that she had never experienced before.
Feeling slightly off balance but believing she still
had the advantage, she answered Dieger.
'I knew that you had a meeting with Sahara and I
believe that you agreed to purchase a large
amount of
cocaine, although I have no idea what you intend
doing
                        461
with your cargo of arms. It could be her price for
the
cocaine. If that be the case, from what I've
witnessed, that indicates one hell of a big deal
you've made.
As for my objective, I had hoped to gain your
confidence, then if my fears were proved, I
planned on
reporting you to the authorities at the first
opportunity.'
'And how did you expect to do that?'
'You have a radio room. I planned on luring the
duty
officer to where I coud render him unconscious
and
then use your radio to pass on the information.'
'You do realize that you've said enough to get
yourself into some very serious trouble don't
you?'
Dieger pointed out.
'Only if my assumptions are correct. The
unknown
factor as far as you are concerned is, have I left
details of my intentions for my superiors back in
Malta.'
It was checkmate. A smile teased his eyes when
he
realized she had manoeuvred him to a point
where he
had three options. To let her remain on board,
either
                       462
as a passenger or a captive, and hide their
smuggling
activities from her. To put her ashore with her
suspicions,     which     could    have     serious
repercussions, or
if they were the criminals she judged them to be,
go
to the extreme mesures of eliminating her
permanently.
297
Pike chewed on a piece of steak while watching
them
blandly, knowing that Dieger was no bodies fool.
He
also knew that if she wished them harm, then the
sooner or later she would resort to trying to use
the
radio or the bomb, or both.
'Have you ever heard of an organization called
the
'G' force?' he asked bluntly.
'Only vague rumours and myths that have never
been
disproved or proven. Personaly I think they have
been
invented by certain governments in hope of
putting the
wind up the barons, or at least reducing their
dealings by making them more cautious.'
'Judging you by your performance and resume', I
imagine a person of your calibre would be a great
                        463
asset to such an organization.' Dieger
complimented.
'So far you have planted evidence on known
dealers,
married one in order to get evidence and a
conviction,
used your obvious charms and now placed
yourself in
serious jeopody - just for the privilege of finding
out information which you most certaily will
never be
able to pass on.'
'Their are people that know where I am and why I
stowed away,' she argued. 'If I were to go missing
their will be an inquirey and you will have some
very
aukward questions to answer.'
'Many strange things happen at sea,' he countered.
'Now how do you feel about joining our happy
litte
band? We are currently engaged in a contract to
supply
the Canadin and United States Mafia's with
something
like a billion dollars worth of cocaine.'
Her face blanched as she raised her hand to her
throat. Somewhere in its depths she tried to clear
it
with a rasping sound as if choking.
'The difference,' Dieger continued after brief
pause
                        464
'is that we are in fact the 'G' force and our mission
is to break them and the likes of Sahara in the
process.'
Sonia gasped, looking from Scott to Pike and
back to
Dieger. Her expression changed from a mixture
of fear,
to shocked disbelief. In those few seconds she
298
recalled the loading of their cargo of arms at sea
where alien eyes could niether determine what it
was
or its source of origin, the suplier or its
destination.
She deduced that if they were the 'G' force, it was
reasonable to assume that those supplies had been
authorized by the American government and
delivered by
a vessel from the seventh fleet which continually
cruised the Mediterranean seas.
On the other hand it seemed out of character for
such a force to enlist crewmen of the type that
had
caught her spying in the docking well after the
loading was complete.
'I'm speachless,' she gasped. 'Of course I'd love to
join you.'
'Welcome aboard, 'Dieger complimented raising
his
glass of fruit juice. 'Scott can explain our mission
                         465
and you may have the freedom of the ship. Be
wary of
the crew on the lower decks though, they're a
rough
bunch with a tough job ahead of them, so don't
make
any snap judgements about them.'
'Is that it?' she asked. 'Don't I have to be sworn
in or something.'
'To what?' Dieger smiled. 'Your enquiries have
already proved that the 'G' doesn't exit. Now if
you
will excuse us, Pike and I have to make our
rounds to
make sure everything is ship shape.'
When they had gone, she said sheepishly. 'I don't
know what to say. I'm thrilled to have been asked
to
join, but I'm so embarassed that you have found
out
how I have used you.'
'Consider it water under the bridge, 'Scott advised
simply. 'But if you have any ideas about letting
the
side down, I should give a great deal of thought to
the consequences. Dieger is a hard task master
when
the need arises. He'll be watching you like an old
cat
watches a mouse. One wrong move and it be be
what he
                        466
calls 'Room One 'O' one.'
'What's that?' she asked.
'The thing you fear the most.' he warned, and she
299
phisically shivered.
'Don't you trust me?' she asked.
'It's not a case of what I think. I know Dieger and
I'm sure he's got something up his sleeve. All you
have to do is to prove to him that he's made a bad
choice, and he'll prove to you that he's smart
enough
to have allowed for it.'
'Don't worry. Whatever fears you may have about
me,
I'll prove they are without foundation - so long as
you prove to be what you claim to be. Now are
you
going to tell me what this mission is all about?'
'That's quite simple. We are heading for
Columbia to
pick up a hundred tons of cocaine from Sahara.'
Sonia's jaw dropped and her eye's gaped as she
raise
her hand to cover gaping mouth.
Unperturbed Scott continued. 'From there we
head for
many ports in the U S A and Canada to make our
deliveries to the Mafia. Once they have it, the 'G'
force, or the relevent authorities will gather
enough
evidence to prosecute them.
                        467
But before the news breaks, we intend returning
to
Columbia to collect a second cargo, but in reality
it
will be to destroy Sahara's base of operations and
coca plantations.'
'Surely someone is going to wonder why you are
able
to deliver such an amount with immunity when
no one
else could?' she argued.
'As you well know somebody all ready did,' he
confessed. 'Sahara had Sneider tortured to death
trying to find that out. What she never allowed
for,
was that he never knew any details about the
forthcomming opperation.'
'And you do I suppose?' she urged.
'As it happens it was my brainchild that set this
whole shebang in motion. This arms shipment
isn't for
sale,' he confessed. 'After we pick up the cocaine
and
are back at sea, it will be packed inside the
torpedo
warheads. Then as we cruise somewhere out in
middle of
the north a Atlantic ocean, the flotila fast attack
craft will leave. The attack craft will race ahead
to
300
                        468
a distance of twenty six miles off the shore before
loosing their wire guided torpedoes.
'G' force agents will collect the cocaine, ready for
delivery to the Mafia. Depending on the quota
required. The attack craft will then return to the
landing craft to restock with more torpede‟s
loaded
more with cocaine.
So now you know what is at stake, you will
understand why any treason within the 'G' force
will
be delt with the most severe consequences.'
Sonia reached across the table. 'I can understand
that now. My mistrust of you all, caused me to
take
certain precautions. The only way I can think of
to
prove my loyalty at the moment is to tell you
what I
planned to do if you were the big time smugglers
I
thought you to be.
While I was with the Maltese police I went on a
bomb
disposal course. Quite a lot of unexploded ones
from
the second world war are still being unearthed.
During
that time I learned how to make smaller devices. I
brought one with me with the view to crippling
this
                        469
vessel so it would have to be towed into port.
Once
there I was going to inform the authorities of the
whereabouts of two kilo's of heroin I brought
with
me.'
Dieger turned on the closed circuit system that
allowed him to view almost all of the ship. 'Well
it
looks as though we've won ourselves another
agent,' he
said.
'So it would seem,' Pike agreed with a trace of
scepticism. 'Have you any particular assignment
in
mind for her.'
Dieger turned his attention back to the screen.
'She's a realy beautiful young woman with a way
of
moving that stirs a man blood. In addition to that,
she isn't opposed to using her assets to ensnare a
victim. I was mondering if we could use Stoddart
to
get her intruduced into the Mafia circle.'
'For what perpose?' Pike inquired.
'A little pillow talk could give us a good insight
301
into what's going on,' he mused. 'And another
thing:
as far as our Mafia friends are concerned, we
have to
                        470
devise a plan to collect payments for the cocaine.
To
my way of thinking, I wouldn‟t put it past them to
arrange to steal it back.‟
'I thought Stoddart was supposed to accompany
them
while they put the diamonds into safety deposit
boxes
in each of the cities we deliver. Then, when they
recieve the goods from us, all they need do is
hand
over the keys so we can collect at our
convenience.'
'Precisely,' Dieger agreed. 'but I wonder what we
could do to help our cause if we used those
collections as a lure.'
'Sometimes I wonder about you,' Pike reflected.
'The
line between the workings of the criminal mind
and
your's doesn't exist.'
'The tragedy is that is, if all those so called
criminals were to put their minds to doing
something
that would benifit mankind instead of grabbing
everything for themselves, most of the world's
problems would be solved overnight.'
'Well there's no harm in dreaming I suppose,' Pike
said cautically. 'Right now though, I'd better be
get
                       471
off on my rounds or tonights show won't get off
the
ground.'
'What show?' Dieger asked.
'Boxing, wrestling the and sod's opera. Don't you
ever read the ships scandle sheet?'
'It slipped my mind. I suppose there'll be the usual
line of defaulters waiting to iron out their
grievances with you?'
'You can put bet your shirt on that. Don't expect
me
for lunch.'
Pike went back to the main bridge, where he
stopped
to check their position and chat with the officer of
the watch for a few minutes. From there he paced
the
decks to make sure the crew were carrying out
their
duties. On reaching the massive after deck that
covered the docking well he stopped. The two
Boeing
Sea Knight helicopters had been secured to the
port
302
and starboard sides with their rotors swept back
and
glinting in the sun.
Benches and a variety of chairs spread back on all
sides from the boxing ring that doubled as a stage
during the evenings entertainments.
                        472
The beefy sailor that Pike had occasion to
chastize
the previous night was being coached while
sparring
with another sailor. Seeing Pike watching he
threw a
punch as though to intimidated him. The hit laid
his
sparring partner low, provoking a grim smile
from
Pike, while the coach vented his anger over the
pointless act. Meeting the sailors insolent glare
with
one of contempt, Pike took the time to light a
cigarette.
Spotting Scott, who was holding a package while
escorting Sonia, he nodded a smiled hello.
'Taking
your morning constitutional? he asked.
'Not exactly,' Sonia asked me to get rid of some
excess bagage. We were just about to throw it
over the
side.'
'Best place for it,' he remarked giving Scott a
broad wink. 'Are you coming to the sod's opera
tonight?' he asked.
'What's that? Sonia asked.
'Big ships entertaiment,' he explained. 'Members
of
the crew sing, tell jokes and so forth to entertain
the rest. Can you sing by any chance?' he asked.
                        473
'It can, but not everyone would call it
entertainment,' she said, glancing beyond the
boxing
ring. 'If the stage is anything to go by I imagine
some of the audience must make some violent
protests.'
Pike turned to follow her gaze. 'It's not quite that
bad,' he smiled. 'We have a few rounds of boxing
first
and then I expect Kolme's engineroom staff will
put on
a martial arts exhibition.'
'I wouldn't miss that for anything,' she beamed
with
interest. 'It makes what we learn in the force look
like childs play. I'd love to take some lessons.'
'They normaly work out every day. Maybe they'll
be
willing to teach you during your stay with us. If
303
nothing else it should ease the boredom of a
tiresome
sea voyage for you.' Pike said.
'Would you ask for me,' she asked, turning to
Scott.
'Just as soon as we've got rid of this excess
baggage,' he promised.
'I'll have a word too if I see him while making my
rounds,' Pike promised before departing to check
that
all was ship shape down in the docking well.
                        474
Members of the crews of the fast attack craft
busied
themselves with general maitainance chores far
beneath
him, while deck officers supervised a gang of
sailors
as they began removing some of the long wooden
crates
that contained torpedoes on the landing craft.
Each
one had to be raised in a sling by an overhead
crane
that run toward the desired gallery before settling
it
upon the the the deck. Here they were unpacked
and the
explosives removed from their warheads to await
their
repackaging with cocaine.
An offending tang hung in the air and Pike's eye's
scanned the vast interior of the docking well
untill
his gaze came to rest on the attack craft at the
farthest end. Looking down at his nuckles, he
released
his grip on the guard rail, and then each step that
took him down through the galleries, was like a
key
winding up the tension within him.
'Captain Tsi,' he demanded crossing the gangway.
                        475
'A small dark skinned flat face with an even
flatter
nose peered out from the weelhouse doorway as
Pike
strode toward it.
Aware from the look on his face that he was in
trouble, Captain Tsi stepped out onto the open
deck.
'Sir!' he said coming smartly to attention.
'My nose tells me that someone down here is
smoking
grass,' he growled. 'And so far I haven't seen any
of
my crew disobeying the no smoking order. My
guess is
that it's one of your crew. Root him out and see
that
it doesn't happen again. Is that clear!'
Captain Tsi's dark cod-like eye's shifted uneasily
as they searched Pike's angry face. They had
known
each other for many years. But for the
intervention of
304
him and captain Dieger, both he and his crew
would
have been left to face the Vietcong when the
American
forces withdrew their forces from Vietnam.
'It grieves me to think a member of my crew has
                       476
given offence,' he said, sounding as though his
nose
was obstructed. 'But I would ask that you try to
understand that our way of life differs in many
ways
from your own.
What you judge to be wrong is quite normal in
our
culture. I am aware that the smoking of grass
gives
great offence to you. For this reason I have
ordered
my crew to limit their use of it to below decks.
Should you demand a total abolition, I will see
that
it obeyed - but I fear it will cause much unrest,
possibly to the point of desertion.'
'Then you must make sure that it cannot be
detected
by sight or smell, or it may promote my crew to
thinking that they can do likewise. Is that
understood?'
Tsi's smile revealed a mouthful of yellow teeth. 'It
is a wise man that makes a judgement to satisfy
the
the guilty as well as the inocent,' he observed,
with
a slight bow of his head.
'And you're full of bullshit.' Pike growled back in
a friendly tone. 'Just keep a lid on it and we'll say
no more about it.'
                         477
'I see the torpedoes are having the explosives
removed from their warheads and then repacked.
Why is
this?,' he asked.
'Because we don't want prying eye's to see them
when
we pick up the shipment of cocaine. If anyone
manages
to sneek on board during our stay in Columbia, it
is
hoped they will think your boats will be the
method of
transporting it to the rendezvous.
'So far we have only been given a vague outline
of
our mission,' Tsi pointed out, 'and this has led to
much speculation. When might we expect a full
briefing?'
'Only Dieger knows the answer to that.' Pike
assured.
305
'Rumour has it that we are to be sent into the
jungle to fight as we did in Vietnam.' Tsi
persisted.
'Is that true?'
'To a small extent,' Pike admitted. 'I've been
assured that our path will be cleared ahead of us,
so
our casualties will be light to zero. But keep that
under you hat. We don't want the whole ships
crew
                        478
knowing what we're about just in case someone
runs off
at the mouth.
Now get this smoking business out of the way
because
I have better things to do than chin-wag with you
all
day long.'
As he turned away, Tsi continued. 'I understand
that
we are to remove the Bofor's guns. Is that so?'
'All in good time,' Pike replied. 'For the time
being, just concentrate on making sure your boats
don't let us down when we need them. You'll be
the
first to know when your new weapons are to be
installed, so don't worry.'
Pike continued his tour of the ship, skipping
lunch,
and towards three o‟clock he reported to Dieger
by
telephone from the privacy of his cabin.
Streached out flat on his back in the deep comfort
of a leather sofa, he closed his eye's to listen to
the noises of the ship. Visions of the beautiful
Sonia
and Sahara returned to brighten his dreams and
when he
awakened hours later they remained imprinted on
his
mind.
                        479
While taking a shower he continued to enjoy the
memory of his visions, yet no matter how he tried
he
could not recall their contents. They just seemed
to
be standing in mid air, the dark haired, tantalizing
Sahara symbolizing evil, while the golden haired
Sonia
outshone her.
Clad in a clean set of whites with golden epauletts
of rank gleaming on his shoulders, he set out
from his
cabin to check all was well with the duty watch
on the
bridge.
'So you've surfaced at last,' chaffed Dieger
playfully. 'No lunch and no dinner. You haven't
taken
306
to getting sea sick I hope?'
'No I have not!' he replied in a precised clipped
tone. 'And the deep rumbling you may hear won't
be
distant thunder. To be honest I could eat a horse -
shoes and all.'
'You should have joined us for dinner then,'
Dieger
jibed. 'I'm sure the chef used one to make the
curry.'
'Well I hope this Manhattan Mauler hasn't been
eating it or I'll be out for the count just smelling
                        480
of his breath.'
'As a special favour to you I'll instruct his
seconds to put some mouth wash in his water,'
Dieger
volunteered.
'Your consideration for my welfare overwhelms
me,‟
Pike assured.
'Oh, I wasn't thinking of your welfare. I was
thinking of the crew. It would be a shame to
deprive
them of their few moments of glory.‟
'A man should be blessed to have such friends,'
Pike
retorted tossing his head. 'Now, we must be about
due
to start. Shall we get moving or does the thought
of
so much activity tire you?
As they left the bridge, eight bell‟s sounded,
signifying the changing of the watch. The out
going
watch handed over at great speed, showing the
measure
of enthusiasm they felt for the coming
entertainments.
Even at this hour the sun still shone brightly over
the calm seas, but it had lost it's sting in the
gentle refreshing breeze.
Practicaly all those not on duty were present on
the
                        481
after deck when they arrived, and were seated in
ever
increasing circles around the boxing ring as they
listened quietly to the compare telling a childrens
story.
'And then Janie, Dieger's daughter stood up to
address the class,' he continued. 'When my daddy
came
back from a shopping trip one day, he had so
much he
could hardly carry it. There was a bag hanging
from
each arm and a big tray of eggs in his hands. As
he
walked up the front garden path, he tripped and
broke
307
all the eggs. So what's the proverb?' The compare
asked.
'Don't carry all you eggs in one basket,' several of
the crew shouted as a rain of rubbish showered
into
the ring.
When the jeering stopped he continued. 'Right.
Next
there was little Magnus Pike.
„When my dad was trapped in a cave during the
Vietnam war, all he had was a thousand bullets
and a
bottle of bourbon. So he drank the Bourbon down
in one
                        482
go, then went out and shot a thousand Vietcong
dead.'
Scratching his head the compare asked. 'So
where's
the proverb in that story?' Then without waiting
for
the crew to answer,' he quickly took Magnus's
part by
dropping down on one knee. 'That's easy Sir.
Don't
upset Pike when he's pissed.‟
Amid more shouting and jeering, a hail of more
beer
cans, cigarette packets and abuse were aimed into
the
ring.
'Take it easy lads,' the compare called. 'We don't
want to make the canvas soggy for the main event
do
we?'
As the raucus jeering abated two seamen entered
the
ring to start clearing the debris.
'Did you know that it was a Polack that invented
the
toilet seat?' the compare continued. 'But it was an
American who put the hole in it.'
'Get off and get Pike up there,' someone yelled,
and
moments later the audience began to chant his
name
                        483
while stamping there feet.
'Okay! Okay! the compare shouted. 'If you don't
want
to hear our lady guest sing we'll get Pike up here.
But which of you jerks would like to explain why
you'd
sooner see a fight rather than hear her sing. She's
right there behind you,‟ he added with a sweep of
his
arm.
A bright spotlight beamed down on Sonia, and
even
though the daylight robbed the event of it's true
glamour, she still looked beautiful. Dressed to kill
in a revealing midnight blue dress that had been
308
hastily tailored by the catering staff, she walked
seductively forward.
Hungry eye's followed her toward the improvised
stage and their appreciation was shown in the
continued applause, wolf whistles and howls of
delight
from all sides. In the centre of the ring she turned
full circle, while the compare took his leave.
The crew of some one hundred and fifty, came in
all
shapes and sizes. Most were dressed in T-shirts
and
shorts, while a few wore cut down jeans. Only the
officers in their tropical whites appeared to have
taken any particular pains with their appearance.
                        484
'Well,' she began when it grew quite. 'I can see
singing lullabies is out. A more rugged bunch of
men a
woman couldn't wish to meet.'
Her comment drew more wolf whistles, and a
beefy
crew member stood up on his chair to show off
his bare
powerful tattood torso.
'I'll go fifteen rounds with you any time babe,' his
deep voice boomed before the chair collapsed
under his
weight. This povoked raucus laughter and a
shower of
empty beer cans.
Pike stood up in the front row with a face like
thunder as he hauled himself up into the ring.
'Let's get one thing straight!' he bellowed. 'This
lady has come here to entertain, so I suggest those
of
you who have no wish to be entertained go
below. If
anyone present cares to disagree let him come up
here
right now and I'll take the greatest of pleasure in
admistering his re-education!'
The scowls of some of the faces mirrowed the
respect
he commanded, and when order was restored he
jumped
nimberly down to take his seat again.
                        485
'Under the circumstances I think I have just the
song for you,' Sonia continued. 'I first heard it in
one of the bar's back in Malta, and out of
curiousity
I traced it's origin. You may well be familiar with
it
if you ever visited a place known as The Gut. It
was a
popular song back in England shortly after the
war. If
you know it join in the chorus. It's called
Cigaretes
309
and Whisky and Wild-a-Wild Women.'
After leaning over the ropes to confer with the
ships band, she began to sing. Members of the
crew
joined in holding can's of beer aloft as they sang.
Having succeeded in diverting their humour
along a
more amicable avenue, she moved on to a lively
calypso
called Caribbian: anther song, well known among
the
crew.
Two sailors began to dance in the isle, there
antics
were crude but hilarious. When the lyrics told of
the
Cuban Queen they faced each other, with one
bowing to
                        486
the other as he curtsied, before striding along the
isle arm in arm once again. When the music
ended it
was to a thunderous applause, and calls for more
were
met with with smiles from Sonia.
Holding up her arms in mock surrender, she
waited.
'You're gluttons for punishment,' she panted. 'Not
being a singer by profession, my repertoire is a
bit
limmited. How about a gentle Ballad?'
'Sing us the Ballad of Palladin!' someone shouted.
'I was thinking of something soft and mellow
like,
Bright Eye's from Watership Down. I'm not quite
sure
what the author had in mind when writing the
lirics
though. But the story is about rabits and their
desperate plight to escape an unseen scourge.
When I first heard it, I began to wonder if the
lyrics were better suited to parents suffering the
agonies of protecting their children from the
scourge
of drug abuse and the trauma of seeing their loved
ones fade and die when they failed.
Her words brought the whole crew to a thoughtful
silence, that continued throughout the song. At
the
                        487
end there was a standing ovation, unmarred by
jeers of
shouting that lasted until she exchanged places
with
with the compare at Dieger's side.
'You have a lot of potential as an entertainer,' he
told her.
'As the only woman on board, I'd say the
audience
were captivated by circumstances rather than my
singing.' she replied.
310
While the compare began to tell another of his
jokes
the crew grew impatient for the thrills of the main
attraction and the chanting began as a low rumble
that
esculated to a full blown demand.
'Pike! Pike! Piike!' they thundered.
Dusk was falling now and when one of the
spotlights
swung to the outer circle beyond the audience to
the
sailor that had threatened Sonia the previous
night,
stood in its golden glow.
'Ladies,' the compare began, pausing long enough
to
give a sacastic cough before adding, 'and
gentlemen
                        488
and others. The next act for your entertainment is
the
long awaited grudge match. The challenger
chosen to
represent the defaulters, weighing in at two
hundred
and thirty pounds: the Manhattan Mauler!'
Beer cans sailed high in the air as their calls for
judication rent the air.
'And in the other corner, the pillar of authority:
Hard Man Pike!'
'Lynch the bastard!' someone yelled above the
chorus
of abuse as the spotlights finger swung to
illuminate
Pike.
He strode forward wearing a dressing robe over
his
shorts, looking neither to the right or left in
response to the scorn. As he approached the ring,
two
seconds spread the ropes in preparion for him to
climb
through. But as he reached up the Mauler crossed
to
his corner to intimidated him. Fearing he might
stike,
one of the seconds let go the ropes and turned to
hustle him back to the rings centre.
The Mauler reacted by throwing a sharp left
handed
                        489
jab to his solo-plexus. When he doubled over
winded,
it was only to duck into a right upper-cut that laid
him low. As the jeer's and boo's resounded, the
referee pounced onto the Maulers back in an
effort to
draw him away.
Pike waited passively, looking up at the bearlike
figure hauched above him until the remaining
second
joined in the struggle to restrain him. The floored
second was now struggling to his knees, and Pike
311
ducked through the ropes to help him onto the
corner
stool used by the contestants betweeen rounds.
'I don't envy you,' he groaned. 'If I didn't know
better I'd say he had a couple of horse shoe's
tucked
inside his gloves.'
'I'll keep that in mind,' Pike said, 'and maybe I'll
lay one on for you while I'm about it.'
'I'd apreciate that because he needs to be taken
down a peg or two. He's bad news even on a good
day.
Watch his left though, what you saw him do to
me was
for your benifit. He's a natural south paw, despite
what he leads you to believe.
'Thanks, I'll keep that in mind.'
                        490
'And now ladies and gentlemen,' began the
compare,
'for the benefit of those who came to see some
professional boxing and missed the anouncement,
in the
blue corner wearing the white shorts, we have Mr
Pike,
who weighs two hundred pounds. I hasten to add
that in
his fourty five bouts, he is as yet unbeaten. You
will
also notice that he is considerably lighter than the
Mauler. But then he's not a tub of lard either.'
The Mauler immediately strode across the ring to
menace the him, but the referee spung between
them,
while Pike blandly turned his back, showing his
contempt.
As one of the seconds helped him disrobe, Dieger
watched Sonia's face. The sight of Pike's
muscular
torso, with its masses of rat bite scars was not
unknown to him, but he had always kept it
covered when
in company.
Sonia gasped in horror, her hand covered her
mouth
for there was hardly room to place a small coin
on any
part of his body without touching scar tissue. For
a
                        491
moment Pike held her gaze, all the harshness
drained
from his eye's as though begging her to accept his
unspoken apology. Then he raised his gloved fists
high
above his head, displaying a powerful ripling
muscular
body as he turned in antisipated triumph to
challenge
the crowd and his opponent.
'God!' she gasped turning to Dieger. 'Whatever
312
happened to him?'
Dieger, also taken by surprise, found it hard to
understand why Pike had chosen to display his
battle
scars so flagrantly when he had always fough shy
of it
before. Was it an unspoken threat he wondered,
designed to intimidate Sonia, case she betrayed
their
cause? Or had he simply prepared her for what
she must
witness should they become more intimate during
the
voyage.
As he stode out into the middle of the ring, even
the hard bitten crew were shocked into silence.
'During the Vietnam war,' Dieger explained, 'It
was
                       492
common practice for the Cong to put American
prisoners
in cages submurged in rivers. For some reason
which I
could never fathom, they took great delight in
watching swarms of rats eat their victims alive.
Rumour has it that Pike bit the heads of over five
hundred rats before managing to escape.
Originaly he
was worse than you see him now: he spent a great
deal
of time having skin grafts to his face and arms.'
The bell rang loud and clear, and Pike
immediately
assumed a haunched stance with his gloved fists
guarding his face. The Mauler did likewise but he
had
none of Pike's poise. For a few moments they
circled
each other looking for an opening.
The Mauler was an awkward lumbering man, yet
Pike
moved constantly and agily on his feet while
balancing
from the waist up.
Confident that he could break through Pike's
gaurd,
the Mauler threw a right to his jaw, but Pike
danced
backward. The Mauler did likewise but with none
of
                       493
Pike's poise. For a few moments they circled each
other looking for an opening.
Pike was constantly on the move and nimble on
his
feet while ballancing from the waist up, rather
like a
cobra hypnotising its prey. They prowled, each
waiting
for the other to drop his guard and be ready to
take
advantage.
Somewhere a voice urged them on and Pike
deliberately averted his eyes as though to look for
313
the heckler. The mauler took the bait, letting fly
with a pile driving left to Pike's jaw. He moved
nimbly away, but came back to land a punch that
stung
the Maulers ear as he staggered off balance.
Now there was a mocking glint in the Maulers
eyes -
a weakness of which Pike intended to take
advantage
of. As they sparred, he noted that the Mauler had
realised his own inferior footwork put him at a
disadvantage. To combat this he began to crowd
Pike
into a corner, and Pike deliberatly obliged. As
soon
as he touched the ropes the Mauler let fly with a
powerful right, but Pike's hours of martial arts
                        494
training with Kolme enabled him to dance clear.
The
Mauler's fist rocked the post, and as he dodged
back a
sharp right from Pike jab stunned him.
Angry at being out manoeuvred, he turned to find
himself in the very position in which he tried to
catch Pike, who's fists jabbed out from their
guard
posisition, jerking his head back and forth before
he
could cover up.
With his senses realing, he bulldozed his way out
into the open, swinging wide, wild punches,
catching
Pike jaw with a left handed haymaker just as the
bell
rang to end round one.
His head jerked and as he hit the canvas the
Mauler
crouched waiting like a great triumphant bear.
When he
ignored the referee's demand to stand aside, Pike
hooked his toes behind his ancle to hold him fast
then
rammed the Mauler‟s legs hard with his other
foot,
sending him sprawling backwards across the ring
into
the ropes.
If he lands another left like that in the middle of
                        495
a round you've had it,' his secound warned.
'I know,' Pike admitted. 'Give me some water, I'm
as
dry as a bone.'
After swilling around his mouth he spat it into a
bucket, then turning to Sonia he gave her a broad
wink. By the time the bell rang he had formulated
a
plan which he hoped would secure a knockout
win.
As the round progressed he kept the Mauler at
bay
314
with his superior footwork and occasionally
managed to
land a good pile-driving punch-apparently with
little
effect. Anything delivered to the Maulers body
seemed
to be soaked up by it's bulk.
When ever he could, the Mauler used his right
hand,
giving the impression that he was right handed.
However, whenever Pike deliberately dropped his
guard,
he memorized the look in his eye's the split
secound
before he let loose with one of his powerhouse
lefthanded
haymakers.
                       496
They entered the ring for the fourth round with
Pike
relying on his foot work to keep him out of
trouble
while draining the Mauler's enegy when he tried
to
crowd him into a corner again. When he danced
clear
and waited in the middle of the ring with a
mocking
smile, the Mauler took the bait.
Angry and brooding he approached Pike, who
stood his
ground using only his agility from the waist to
dodge
or deliver blows. With cold diberate precision
Pike
provoked another wild punch that landed
aquarely on
his jaw. He closed his mind to the pain and nausia
as
he spun on the ball of one foot like a programmed
robot, his gloved fist at the ready.
When the blurred image of the Mauler came into
view,
still leaning forward from delivering the punch,
leaving his face completely exposed, Pike's fist
continued in it's wide arc with it's momentum
increased by the Mauler's punch. With well
calculated
                       497
precision the blow landed quarely on his exposed
jaw.
The sheer power behind it sent the Mauler reeling
across the ring. The ropes stretched under the
impact
before catapulting him back into another wild
punch
that stopped him dead in his tracks.
Fighting the nausia that threatened to drain his
senses, Pike just stood gathering his wits. Faces
were
blurred and the jubilant shouts and jeers from the
crowd became warped in his mind. Slowly his
legs gave
way and he sank down to crouch on all fours. Just
one
voice penetrated his brain as he slowly shook his
head
in an effort to regain control.
315
All he could think of was that he was down and
the
referee was counting. At the count of four he
barely
managed to lift his head in the direction of the
voice. At six he could make out his blurred image
as
he crouched as though sitting on an invisible
chair.
Seeing both the refferee‟s hands rising and falling
with each second of the count, he realized that the
                        498
Mauler was still down.
He lay flat on his back, his head lolling from side
to side and his limbs flailing the air limply as he
tried to right himself. Knowing that the man's
legs
would not support him long enough to beat the
count,
Pike made an all out effort to scramble to his feet
and hauled himself up onto the ropes.
The crowd erupted with cheers and the referee
dashed
to his side, and holding his limp right arm aloft he
declared him the winner.
Several of the crew invaded the ring, but their
cheers were not for Pike. Stooping down they
hauled
the simi-conscious Mauler high into the air and
bore
him on their shoulders as though he was the
victor.
'I don't understand,' Sonia said with a puzzeled
look on her face.
Dieger turned to her with a knowing smile. 'A
ship
is like a small isolated village,' he explained.
'When
there's animosity it effects everyone on board.
There's no where to run so any trouble is
contained,
like a powder keg ready to blow. In order to
defuse
                        499
such situations we have a ruling that the winner
pay's
the crews bar bill for the rest of the evening.
So since the crew look upon Pike as an ogre of
authirity, the Mauler has become their champion.
By
loosing, he's making Pike pay for the privilege of
winning.'
'I can see that I'm not going to be very popular
with Pike since the fight started over his
protecting
me,' She said. 'I dread to think how much your
crew
can drink between them.'
'Pike's dedicated to the cause,' Dieger assured.
'You can repay him by taking part in a mission I
have
316
in mind if you have a mind too?'
'I'm all ears.' she assured.
'We can't talk here with all this activity. Would
you care to take a turn around the deck?'
She nodded and stood up, and seeing Scott's look
of
enquiry, Dieger asked. 'Would you like to join
us?'
Leaving the excited melee' behind they strolled
out
of the limelight into the semi-darkness.
'I've been toying with the idea of sending you
Stateside,' he said to Sonia. 'Sooner or later we're
                        500
going to have to organise the collection of
payments
for the cocaine. At the moment all our contacts
have
to do is hand over in payment are the keys to
safety
deposite boxes in secure banks, which will
contain
diamonds to the appropriate value.
It's just possible that the Mafia boss's are
harbouring thoughts of stealing the diamonds
back when
we try to collect them. What I'd like you to do is
go
to the States, and through Stoddart or one of our
agents - is work your way right into the heart of
the
Mafia families.
Your target will be the family of the Godfather
that
oversees the whole U.S. Mafia opperation. Mario
Leone
Cantilano. The one we're involved with at the
moment
won't gain his conviction. But when the lower
enchelons of his empire begin to to crumble, I„m
sure
his close family will be tempted to make a play to
get
the Diamonds back.'
                       501
'Payment for a hundred tons of cocaine must run
into
billions of dollars, so what makes you so sure that
I
won't double cross you?‟ she asked.
'I'm not so naive as to discount the idea,' he
warned 'But after studying your record I can't
help
wondering how long you could live with youself,
knowing that in betraying the 'G' force, you also
betray the memory of your sister.'
Her face hardened as distant momories came
flooding
back. 'When do I start?' she asked.
317
Chapter Ten
The Alantic Mirage seemed strange without the
beauty of Sonia to brighten the boring routine of
long
days and nights at sea. After leaving the
Mediterranean, they tramped steadily South-south
west
across the North Atlantic ocean to Trinidad for
refuelling and replenishment of food supplies.
Being a
man's man, Dieger remained in port for a second
night
in order to let his crew to rid them selves of their
pent up emotions, courtesy of of the local bars
and
female population.
                        502
By the time they put to sea again, the ship was
abuzz with the crew's exploits ashore. Although
there
were many battered and bruised faces, spirits
were
high. Without exception, all defaulters brought
before
him for their misdemeanours, concealed smirk's
as he
docked them a day's pay. With their conquests
and
carnal desires satisfied and still fresh in their
minds, they cruised out of sight of land along the
Venezelan coast and on to columbia.
At Santa Marta they entered port just long enough
to
take on a more fuel. Duriong the early hours of
the
following morning, Dieger transmitted a message
to the
coast guard stating that owing to minor fuel
contamination problems the Atlantic Mirage
would be
anchoring off shore whilst undertaking repairs.
Immediately after dropping anchore, Captain Tsi
took
a party of six men ashore undercover of darness
to
search out Sahara's headquarters, the coca
plantations
                       503
and reconnoitre the thick forest between it and
their
anchorage. Within minutes of their leaving, a
powerful
cabin cruiser came alongside.
'Welcome to Columbia! Sahara hailed.
'Ditto!' Dieger hailed back. 'Come aboard.'
Smiling as he met them at the companion way, he
eyed
her companion, a dark skinned man of about sixty
years
of age, clad in a grubby white tropical suit. He
wore
silver rimmed spctacles with thick lenses, and
318
revealed a mouthful of yelow teeth when he
smiled.
'This is Sanchez,' she explained. 'He will value
the
diamonds for me if you approve. Then we can
begin
loading the cocaine.'
'By all means,' Dieger agreed. 'I'll have my
chemist
take random samples to check the quality as the
goods
they come on board. Do you need boats to ferry it
from
shore to ship? My landing craft are available if
not.'
'Is that how you intend getting it ashore when you
                       504
reach the States? she asked.
'It's food for thought,' he hedged. 'Do you need
them?'
'No,' she smiled. 'I have a fleet of small boats
waiting in the creek. You'll have it on board and
be
on your way within a few hours.'
'We have some minor engine repairs to carry out
before we leave so there's no hurry.' Dieger
explained.
'Nothing serious I hope? It wouldn't do to have
the
coast guard embarrassed by your continued
presence
here.'
'No, just preventitive measures. I'd hate to have a
serious breakdown at sea for the sake of a few
hours
of maintainance here.'
The beach, which ranged from nothing where the
tree's came down to the waters edge, to a fifty
yard
width of sand, was barely three hundred yards
away. At
night the creek was barely visible in the darkness,
but after peering shoreward for a while it became
evident that the brushwood choking its entrance
was
not quite as it appeared.
During the next few minutes, large clumps of
green
                        505
snaked out and spread apart allowing a clearer
view of
the creek. The low growl of outboard motors
began to
filter ahead of camouflaged boats and Dieger,
gussing
that each craft would only carry about one tonne,
began to count them. At twenty he stopped,
estimating
they would be at least twice that number of boats
in
all.
His first thought was to take on ballast and allow
319
them to enter the docking well for speedier
unloading:
but the longer the opperation took the better
chance
Tsi's scouts would have to do their survey. Apart
from
keeping Sahara's mind occupied, it would also
serve to
deflect her atention from his real purpose for
delaying his departure.
'Mr Pike!' he called. 'Have those deck cranes
manned
and get that cargo stowed below as quickly as you
can.
If you want me I'll be in my cabin.'
'Aye, aye Sir!' came his brisk reply.
                       506
In the privacy of his cabin, Dieger carefully
placed
a small wooden chest on the coffee table, handed
Sahara the key's to its twin locks and then stood
aside while she opened it. Never in all his
experience
with the female sex, could he recall one that
looked
so radiant as Sahara‟s when her eye's beheld the
first
tray of diamonds.
With cheeks flushed and eye's sparkling she lifted
the top tray revealing the one beneath.
'They're beautiful,' she beamed.
'There are six tray's in all,' Dieger assured. 'All
top quality gems.'
Like a child with a new toy she plucked several
from
their dimpled satin nests and let them trickle
through
her fingers. 'These are better than green backed
dollars,' she smiled. 'They never fade or get
crumpled.'
'There's one hundred million dollars worth there
as
agreed, and there are plenty more where they
come
from. I could be back here in a month with
another
chest like that, and keep coming as long as you
can
                        507
supply me with cocaine or until the diamonds run
out.'
'That could be when I have them all,' she smiled
turning to Sanchez. 'Check half a dozen stones
and
I'll take the rest on trust. I don't think it would be
in either of our interests to cheat or haggle.'
'I'll agree to that, providing the quality of your
goods is equal to mine,' Dieger assured. 'Can I
offer
you a drink, or would you prefer to go on deck to
oversee the loading?'
320
'Why not delegate such tiresome tasks and join
me
for breakfast at my hacienda?' She suggested. 'We
can
be there in half an hour - and you'll be back by
mid
morning if you care to rush things.'
Once again Dieger's thoughts returned to his true
mission. There was no doubt in his mind as to
Sahara's
sincerity, and the opportunity to spy out the lay of
the land in broad daylight was something he
could not
afford to pass up.
'I hear some of your haciendas are very beautiful,'
he replied, 'Having breakfast with a beautiful lady
in
                         508
an exotic jungle oasis sounds fine to me. As soon
as
you are are satisfied with your end of our bargain,
I'll inform my first officer that I'm going ashore.'
'You carry on,' she suggested. 'We'll meet on deck
as soon as Sanchez repacks the diamonds. That is
unless you are worried that I might steal the
family
silver?' she jested.
'When you leave there won't be anything worth
stealing,' he flattered.
When he stepped back on deck dawn was
breaking, and
even at that distance the sound of jungle creatures
carried to the ship on the cool breeze. Mostly it
was
a multitude of birds singing or screetching their
dawn
chorus. This was accompnied the calls of animals
beneath the dense umbrella of foliage until it
escaped
into the vast emptyness of the open sea.
'That racket brings back memories,' Pike
remarked,
jerking his head toward the shorline. 'I hope those
screams aren't from any of Tsi‟s party.'
'I doubt it,' Dieger said. 'They're veterans in that
sort of terrain as well you know.'
'They're strangers here though,' Pike argued.
'Agreed', but I'll bet my shirt on them any time.
No
                        509
matter how well trained Sahara's men might be,
they're
not likely to have had the battle experience ours
have.'
'Let's hope they don't need it just yet. It would be
a shame to foul things up.' Pike pondered aloud.
'Everythings just fine,' Dieger assured. 'How's the
321
loading coming along?'
'Fine, the first wave of boats have already
returned
with a second cargo. If anything's going to hold
us up
it's going to be that.'
'Well don't rush it. We might as well give Tsi and
his men as much time as we can to do thier reece.
Apart from that, I've been invited ashore to have
breakfast with Sahara at her hacienda. That
should at
least give me the chance to get the lie of the land.
Can you handle things here while I'm gone?
'There's nothing much to handle. You go have
yourself a nice breakfast,' Pike grinned 'and don't
mind us slogging away back here while you're
getting
laid.'
'Now thats food for thought,' Dieger grinned.
'Apart
from the diamonds, I've got just the thing to hang
arround her neck.'
'And what would that be?' Pike asked.
                        510
'Her ancles,' Dieger smiled.'
'You just make sure she doesn't hang your balls
around yours,' Pike warned as she approached.
Promising to be back for lunch, he turned to meet
her. He had not really paid her much heed to the
way
she dressed before. It had always been her face
and
figure that had captivated his attention. But now
that
the seeds of lust had been sewn, he began to pay
more
attention to her body.
Above soft white high heeled boots that reached
up
to her knee's, she donned a white white loose
fitting
trousers that enabled easy movement in the hot
climate. The matching blouse was also loose,
with long
sleeves folded back to the forearms. One of its six
pearl buttons, he guessed was tucked out of sight
below her waistline. The next three were
buttoned,
leaving the remaining two undone, allowing just
enough
of her ample cleavage on view to turn a mans
head.
Her walk was very seductive, and if she wore any
underarments there was no evidence of it. Her full
                        511
breasts moved seductively beneath the material
and he
found himself staring.
322
His obvious attention made her feel good, and her
pulses began to race causing her niples stand
proud
enough to attract his gaze.
'You like? she whispered huskily, turning full
circle for his inspection.
'My apologies,' he said, trying to hide his
embarrassment, 'I guess I've been at sea to long.'
'Don't opologize,' she smiled giving him a broad
wink. 'When a woman fails to draw a man's
attention
she's over the hill. And being at sea isn't much
different to being hemmed in, in the middle of
this
jungle with a bunch of half wit natives.
'There are plenty of towns and cities within easy
reach.' Dieger pointed out.
'Alas, columbian's are not my cup of tea. What I
realy crave is a good old westerner - they have
the
bodies and the brains. How a woman can love
and
respect some of these creatures is beyond me.
Most of
them are greasy-haired, short by our standards,
and
                       512
they smell as though they have just feasted
themselves
on raw garlic.'
He gave her a sideways glance, and could easily
understand her reservations about having a
smaller
mate, for she almost matched his six feet plus in
her
high heeled boots.
Reaching the gangway leading down to her cabin
cruiser, she slipped her arm through his, case she
missed her footing. Sanchez trailed behind,
cluching
the chest. As they descended she turned slightly
toward him in order to negotiate the steps more
easily. And rather than hold the handrail she
clung to
his arm, bringing him close enough for her breast
press to against it.
'Lady,' he said. 'I'm not so sure I can handle
this.'
Her eye's sparkled in quiet appreciation of the
passion she inspired in him, and for what seemed
an
eternity to him she just stood staring into his
eye's.
'I'm no lady,' she smiled 'and I doubt that you've
been at sea for so long that you've forgotten how
to
323
please one.'
                       513
Without waiting for an answer she pressed her
crotch
against his thigh, making her expectations
perfectly
clear.
Like an obedient lamb, but with the heart and
mounting passion of a rampant lion, he fell in
step
again.
Her boat was a twenty footer with a cabin situated
below the foredeck. The wheelhouse, amidships
was open
backed and extended to the stern with
comfortable
leather seating around the egdes. Moving forward
behind the wind shields, Sahara took her place at
the
helm. Dieger took the liberty of standing behind
her
with his arms around her so he could clasp the
flat of
her stomach.
The powerful engine purred into life and eased
clear
of the gangway. While enjoying the comfortable
sensation of her body leaning against his, he
watched
the small boats queueing up to unload their
contraband
cargo. As one moved away another quickly took
its
                       514
place beneath the over hanging jib of a crane.
The sea around was now littered with the
discarded
foliage that had been used to camouflage the craft
while waiting for their arrival. With the mainstay
of
it now clear, the thirty yard wide mouth of creak
was
quite visible.
As they progressed upstream it narrowed. Tall
trees
and thick undergrowth came right down to the
waters
edge where vines trailed on the gentle curent. The
small log quay to which the small boats returned
for
more cargo, lay right inside the overhanging
vegatation, and would have passed unnoticed
without
the presence of the boats.
He could not detect any tracks or path ways to
indicate how the cargo had arrived at this point.
Beyound where the creek narrowed to just a mere
twenty
feet, overhanging tree branches from each side
entwined.
Monkey's screeched in protest at having their
privacy invaded, and Multi-coloured parrots and
324
parakeets took to the wing in fright. Where the
canopy
                       515
was complete, blocking out all sign of the sun,
large
colourful orchid-like blossoms hung from vines,
adding
splashes of colour against the shadded dense
green of
the jungle.
'This sure beats the hell out of looking at painted
iron,' he remarked.
'It's beautiful but lonely,' she agreed, 'I long for
the lights of the bright city, but after a while I
crave to be back here. I used to wonder why, until
I
realized what I missed most was the quiet
security of
it. Access to my place is very limited and the
jungle
is too dense for anyone to get through without my
outposts hearing about it first.'
'I'm surprised you need worry about such things,'
he
lied. 'Who would want to invade your privacy
way out
here?'
'There are a number of cyndicates who would
love to
take over my operation,' she assured. 'Even some
friendly officials, the ones I pay for protection
against the law, have been approached with large
bribes to get me out. Fortunatly I've taken the
                        516
precaution of covering myself. If anything
happens to
me a good many heads in high places will roll.'
'You could get out altogether,' Dieger suggested.
'The diamonds alone are enough to keep you in
the lap
of luxury for the rest of your life.'
'I've thought about that often enough but I can't
envisage myself settling anywhere. In it's own
way, my
operation has its good points. Once every couple
of
weeks I saddle up and go visit my coca
plantations to
break the monotony.'
'That sounds like something out of the old south
back home, when the cotton plantation growers
used
make their rounds.' Dieger said.
'More like hill-billies with their illicit stills,'
she chuckled. 'It wasn't so long ago that we had
fueds
between the growers just like the hill-bllies did in
the films. Poaching crops used to be
commonplace here
until I took over.'
325
'How did you manage to combat that?' he asked.
'I invited the growers to a meeting and offered
them
guarenteed prices for all the raw coca leaves they
                        517
could produce. I also supplied them with radios
so
they could call for help if they were raided by
poachers.
I have a small mercenary force to respond to such
calls, both to retrieve their goods and to ensure
the
culprits never try again.'
'Do you still get poachers?' He inquired.
'Very rarely.' She assured.
'It must be expensive paying such a force to sit
around on their butts.' He probed
'It's a necessary evil, but they don't spend all
their time at my base. I have outposts to keep me
informed about what's going on. Every week they
are
relieved, and they come into the base to relax and
enjoy a little social life.
You see that big fig tree?' she said pointing
ahead.
'Well that's as far as we go. My hacienda is just a
few minutes walk through the jungle.'
Dieger figured they had come about three miles,
and
among all that beauty he had seen no other trails
or
means of travel. The fig tree was about a hundred
feet
tall and like a giant umbrella, it overhung the
creek
to the point of obscuring the small jetty.
                        518
Nothing grew beneath the rotting carpet of leaves
that exuded a musky odour when disturbed.
Sahara's
glance up into its dark recesses did not go un-
noticed
by Dieger who found it necessary to search for
the
reason why. The odd silver gum wrapper and
discarded
cigarette end on the ground held the prospect of
hidden eye's watching from above.
The narrow path they trod showed little sign of
ware
or damage to the foliage, suggesting the creek had
not
been used to transport the cocaine to the coast.
For
five minutes they walked in silence. Then the
shaded
gloom of the forest gave way to the early morning
sunlight.
He found himself at the edge of an area of about a
326
thousand yards wide and long where the forest
had been
cleared. The levelled area was surrounded by a
band of
rough grass that showed signs of having been
used for
horse riding. Inside that was a neatly mown band
with
                       519
flags marking the holes for golf, giving the
impression of home luxuries, while serving as a
clear
zone for security purposes.
Within this was an area for growing vegetables,
bush
and tree fruits, all of which were well spaced in
lines angling diagonally toward the hacienda's
compound, so as not to obstruct the view.
There were several buidings, including the
hacienda,
set inside a white perimeter wall of some four feet
in
hieght. All were of similar design with smooth
white
plastered walls. The roofs looked as though they
had
been construct from short lengths of red glazed
clay
troughs These had been laid down pitch of the
roof
with the curve facing up. The second was placed
half
astride the opposite way up, so as to weather the
joins between the rows.
The compound its self measured about a 100
yards in
width by 150 long. Dominating the far corner was
a
large two storey barn, whose solid outer walls had
                        520
only small windows and formed part of the
compounds
outer wall.
The inner front housed Stables at ground level,
and
had large wooden doors, giving access to a hay
loft
above. Inside, a stable-lad groomed one of the
horses,
while outside in complete contrast, a mechanic
carefuly serviced Saharas personal helecopter.
Several small chalet-type buildings were
obviously
for the use of guards on leave from there normal
patrol duties. The hacienda its self, dominating
the
centre compound, was large, square and
sprawling. What
had been origigaly constructed as couryard, was
now
converted into a patio area with a large swimming
pool. Verandas with tinted glass patio doors gave
access to upper rooms overlooking the pool.
Rich vines, heavy with grapes and passion fruits,
climbed the stout beams supporting the vernda,
327
entwined themselves in the safety rails before
climbing up to the roof.
Tables, chairs and sun loungers were situated
along
                       521
the east and west sides close to the buildings, so
the
sun or shade could be enjoyed at liesure.
Dieger's eye's probed everywhere, collating
information which could be invalable on his
return
visit.
Normal access to the hacienda was via a tall
wide,
ornate arch on compounds eastern flank.
With the early morning sun warming their backs
as
they meandered in. The singing of birds was
dimnished
by the hollow echo of mettle tipped high heeled
boots
making contact with the red briquette herin boned
paterned paving.
'It's like another world in here,' Dieger
complimented.
'It's beautiful,' Sahara agreed, 'but alas, boring
after you have been here for a while. Would you
like
freshen up in the pool while breakfast is being
prepared?'
'Sounds great to me,' Dieger agreed.
'What would you like?' she invited.
'Chilled grapefriut juice, half a dozen lean
rashers, a couple of fried eggs over easy on toast,
and a gallon of coffee.' he smiled.
                        522
She turned to Sanchez who followed like a
devoted
lap dog with the chest of diamonds clasped to his
chest.
'Will you ask Maria to prepare that. I'll have
chilled melon followed by an omlet, toast and
coffee.
We'll eat out here in the sun when we have
finished
our swim. You can leave the chest on the table.'
Sanchez smiled before obediently shuffling off as
Sahara turned toward the pool. Dieger soon
realized
why. At the waters edge she began to strip and it
was
obvious that she intended to enjoy their swim
while
enjoying the pleasures of each others nakedness.
After removing her blouse she turned, shaking
her
long hair back into place like a spirited horse
328
shaking its mane. His eye's were rivited on the
movement of her breasts while hers enjoyed the
attention as she ballanced on one foot to remove
the
first of her boots.
'You're shy,' she teased provocatively.
'No' he assured reaching for the buttons of his
shirt. 'You're a woman of rare beauty, but such
beauty
                       523
is difficult to appreciate at close range.'
'And the plesures of the flesh? she teased giving
him a look that fired his emotions.
'That kind of close combat is best enjoyed in the
privacy of the bedroom - or barn.' he said
dropping
his trousers.
'Close combat,' she echoed. 'Thats sounds
interesting.'
'It can be. The rules are that each partner must
strive to please the other by whatever means
necessary.'
As her second boot dropped from her left hand,
the
long tapered fingers of her right hand tugged at
the
zip fastener of her trousers. Then lifting her right
leg a little, she waggled her foot until the hem slid
over her foot. Then wedging it against the ground
with
the toes of her left foot she drew her leg clear.
While she repeated this performance with the
other
leg. Dieger stepped clear of his shorts, then
removed
his underpants, socks and shoes.
'My you are a big boy,' she smiled, as he oggled
his
full frontal view.'
'I never had any toys when I was a kid,' he
grinned,
                         524
'so being poor did have its compensations.'
To hide his emarrassment he raced past her to
dive
headlong into the pool, where the cold water
struck
after the humid early morning heat. Surfacing on
the
far side he turned to watch as she approached the
edge.
Looking like a godess with her arms swept back
and
her shapely legs bent slightly at the knees, she
brought her arms slowly forward. Then she
wriggled her
toes until they gripped the pools edge, giving the
329
impression of not being sure footed. Crouching
slighly
again, she swung her arms back in preparation for
a
forward thrust, but at the point of springing, her
head whipped upright with such force she toppled
over
backwards to lie spread eagled on her back.
Dieger's warm glow of passion died as he pushed
hard
against the pools side and began cleaving his way
through the water towards her. After hauling
himself
out he found her just as she had fallen. Her
                       525
expression was serene and calm, and it was
obvious
that she had died without knowing why or by
what
means.
Turning away from the dark bullet wound in her
forehead, he peered into the gloom of the rooms
beneath the opposite veranda. The only sound
apart
from the birdsong was the beat of his own heart.
At
first he could see nothing, then a slight movement
within the depths of one room caught his
attention.
Slowly it took the form of a man wearing a beige
uniform, and knowing he had indeed been caught
with
his trousers down, he stood with his hands raised.
The man that emurged wore the uniform and
insignia
of a Columbian police captain and he made a
great show
of un-screwing a silencer from his pistol. Several
colleagues also came out onto the veranda above
to
support his authority. Only one other entered the
area
at ground level. He was ushering two captives
before
him. One was Sanchez, the other was a man
wearing an
                       526
expensive looking safari suit.
'You must be captain Dieger,' the officer said,
replacing his pistol in its holster. 'I am captain
Ruez. My opolgies for spoiling you little romp.
Such
beauty will be sadly missed by many. Although I
hasten
to add that you owe me a dept of gratitude.'
Turning to the other captive, whom he fixed with
a
cold hard stare. 'This is doctor Mendosa. Why
don't
you tell the brave captain why you were
summoned to
the hacienda?'
'Your food was to be drugged. And while you
slept I
was to adminster a truth drug so Sahara could
question
330
you.'
Guessing the reason Dieger asked anyway.
'What about?'
'I have no idea. All I can tell you is that she was
prepared to pay any price for the information she
believed you to have.'
'Sahara might not appreciate it, but I guess you
did
her a big favour,' Dieger offered, thinking at least
he had been spared the awful task of sending her
to
                        527
prison at some future date. 'Having died when her
radiance was at its peek,' he continued 'her beauty
will never fade in our minds as we grow old. Now
if
you have no objections, I'd like to get dressed?'
'Are you so sure that you are not to suffer her
fate?‟ Ruez asked, as he strode forward to retrieve
his cloths.
'To be honest, I think you were on a percentage of
Sahara's business, but on this occasion she
neglected
to inform you of our dealings. Shooting me a few
minutes ago would have achieved nothing -
whereas the
threat of it might. If you were wondering what
brings
me to that conclusion - well I don't visualise you
shooting Sahara in the line of duty - me included.'
'You are very astute,' Ruez remarked as he
walked
toward the table bearing the chest. 'The key's,' he
demanded looking at Sanchez.'
The old man shuffled forward fumbling in the
pockets
of his grubby shapeless coat. Ruez took the key's
without saying a word. When he opened the
chest, he
stared at the contents in disbelief for several
moments.
'I rather think celebratorty drinks are in order,'
he said turning to Dieger.
                        528
'Whiskey on the rock's.' he requested.
Tuning back to Ruez, Sanchez just nodded before
shuffling off. Then he turned to address the
doctor.
'In life Sahara was an inspration,' he said. 'In
death she is just another body - get rid of her.
Now,' he continued adressing Dieger, 'shall we
discuss your future in the shade. My
understanding is
331
that you have devised a method of delivering
large
shipments of cocaine with impunity to where ever
you
wish. I also understand that Sahara wanted that
knowlege so that she could use it to sell her
products
directly to the market, cutting out the likes of
your
good self. Would you agree with that?'
'Under the circumstances it sounds about right,'
Dieger agreed.'
'Well I won't pretend to be in this for the benefit
of my health,' Ruez declared. 'On the other hand,
I'm
not opposed to making a fortune. Unlike Sahara, I
would be satisfied with sticking to supplying you,
leaving you to do your part in supplying the
international markets.'
'Being greedy does have its drawbacks.' Dieger
                        529
observed nodding in the direction of Sahara's
body as
it was being removed. 'For all her sins, I'd like to
think she'll have a good christian burial.'
'Alas,' Ruez said following his gaze
'unfortunately,
her death must remain one of lifes mysteries. A
simple
unmarked grave in the jungle with a friendly
prayer is
all I can promise. Anything elaborate would only
draw
attention - and we wouldn't want that would we?'
Having no alternative Dieger had to agree.
Sanchez
brought a tray containing a bottle of twelve year
old
Gleniddich malt whisky, another of cheap brandy,
a
bucket of ice and a jug of water.
'Is it common practice for you to pay for
shipments
in diamonds? Ruez asked.
'Always,' Dieger assured. 'Admittedley, it does
cause some inconvenience in getting valuations,
but
once that obstacle is overcome, diamonds do have
cirtain advantages. They are easy to transport and
are
indistructable. Dollar bills are not and they don't
                        530
have the advantage of gaining value when not
invested.
Diamonds apreciate in value no matter where
they are
kept and have the advantage of being an
international
currency.'
Aware of the truth and the facts Ruez's eye's
strayed to the chest, knowing that if he resorted to
332
burying them in the jungle for safe keeping they
would
increace in value daily. In addition the that, no
amount of researches into his financial status by
government agencies would uncover his hidden
fortune.
Paper money, on the other hand would depreciate
to
the point of being worthless over a long period of
time unless it was invested properly.
'When you return for your next cargo,' he
speculated. 'How much cocaine would you
require?'
'At least double the hundred tonnes I'm taking this
trip. As for the timing, I expect be back in about a
months times.'
He could almost here Ruez's mind working.
Many
goverments believed the Columbian authorities
only
paid lip servivce to their demands to crush the
                        531
illicit narcotics trade. It could not be proved of
course, but it did inject billions of much needed
dollars into the country's econonmy, and gave
many
under privileged people the means of earning a
living.
There was no doubt in his mind that Ruez was
answerable to some higher authority and he was
now
contemplating skimming off some of the
proceeds for
himself. Dealing in diamonds made that prospect
much
easier. It was also safe to assume that rather than
allow himself to come into direct contact with his
supreiors, Ruez would arrange for him to
mysteriously
disappear once he had served his perpose. Even
the
likes of Sanchez would be at risk if Ruez decided
to
deny any knowlege of the diamonds he had
valued for
Sahara.
'Two hundred million dollars worth of diamonds,'
Ruez mused. 'That would be something worth
waiting to
see. Does acquiring such vast amounts cause
many
problems?'
'Not for me,' Dieger assured. 'Since I demand
                        532
payments for shipments in them, my only
inconveinience
is getting valuations before trading. Sanchez's
expertise in that field will prove invaluable to
you.
He must be worth his weight in gold.'
Saddled with having such a man around with the
333
knowlege he possessed, Ruez's eye's lost a little
of
their glitter.
'Yes,' he agreed 'A diamond of a man, although I
think Sahara treated him shabbily.'
'If his dress reflects the esteem in which she held
him, she must have paid him peanuts.' Dieger
remarked.
Ruez agreed, thinking he would make the perfect
fall
guy if and when the time came. 'I think perhaps a
little more appreciation is long over due.
Sanchez!'
he called.
When the decrepid little man shuffled to the table,
he asked. 'Were you in love with Sahara?'
Snchez fidgeted, shifting his weight from one
foot
to the other before replying evasively. 'Wasn't
every
man with eye's to see?'
Ruez smiled, and leaning forward he raised the
lid
                        533
of the chest.
'Captain Dieger has gone to some pains to point
out
that payment for your expertise is not reflected in
the way you dress, and I am inclined to agree. A
man
of your skills should dress to suit his position. He
should live in a modest home and have a beautiful
wife
to tend his needs.'
Feeling that he was being ridiculed as he had
been
by Sahara, angered him but he set those feelings
aside. At a whim his tormentor could have him
marched
off into the jungle and shot, so he decided the
better
part of valour in his case was to grovel.
'I am but a poor man,' he pleaded stepping back a
pace with hands spread to show hiis shabbiness.
'At
fourty years of age, I look and feel sixty.
The modest fees I earn, combined with my
appearence
hardly make me a suitable catch for such a beauty
as
you describe. As for living in a fine house - even
if
I could afford one, I could not rely on my
earnings to
maintain it.'
                        534
'Loyalty is a rare commodity these days,' Ruez
observed. 'When a man in my position finds it, I
think
he should repay it with something more tangible
than
words of thanks. So, as of now you will live in
the
334
hacienda as my representitive. You will liaise
with
the good Captain on my behalf and speak of our
dealings to no one.
As for payment, take ten diamonds of your choice
from the chest. They are for you do with as you
see
fit. Although I strongly suggest you do something
about the presentation of your image.'
Sanchez visibly staggered to the point where he
had
to grasp the back of a chair to steady himself. But
for all Ruez's generosity, Dieger knew he was just
buying the mans loyalty in readiness for making a
killing out of their dealings.
'I don't know what to say,' Sanchez gasped.
'Just do what I tell you,' Ruez advised. 'In the
mean time I suggest you sit down and help
yourself to
a large brandy before you suffer a heart attack.'
With hands shaking he poured a large brandy into
a
glass offered by Dieger, and as he raised it to his
                        535
mouth it rattled against his teeth as he gulped it
down.
Adding to his dismay, Ruez dipped his hand into
the
chest to retrieve the first ten diamonds that came
to
hand. When he placed them on the table he asked.
'Where is Sahara?'
Sanchez's baffled gaze swivelled from the
diamonds
to Dieger. He squirmed in his chair as he
contemplated
his reply. Under the circumstances he assumed
diplomacy was the best course of action.
'I heard her go riding during the early hours,' he
began in a quiet subservient tone. 'She loved the
cool
of the dawning day. I heard one of the natives
speak
of a large American ship that had anchored just
off
the coast to make repairs. She loved to be in the
company of men in uniform - especialy
Americans
because they wooed her.
Perhaps she paid them a call to ease the boredom
of
her routine life out here in the wilds. You could
ask
the captain of course.'
                       536
Ruez laughed aloud. Obviously Sanchez knew
what was
required of him. 'And the captain.' Ruez persisted.
335
'What do you suppose he might say if he were
questioned about the events of the day?'
'Perhaps that his concern for his ship was such
that
he had no time to entertain this godess of beauty
even
if she happened to drop by. As I recall, I often
warned her about the dangers of riding alone
through
the jungle. The pathways are narrow and the
animals
love to prowl during the cool dawn in hope of
finding
their daily meal. She might have been swept off
her
horse by a low over hanging branch and been
devoured
as she lay unconsciouse on the ground.'
'You missed your calling,' Dieger patronized,
'And
if I don't get moving I'll be missing mine.'
'Leave us,' Riuez ordered. And when they were
alone
he began to explain the situation th Dieger. 'There
are others above me who will want to know what
has
                        537
been happening. I have it mind to deny all
knowledge
of the diamonds.'
'I figured that out for myself.' Dieger admitted.
'And it doesn't bother you? Ruez asked.
'Not in the slightest. I have what I came for and
that's all I'm interested in.'
'I would feel much better it you would accept
some
small payment as a token of good will,' Ruez
offered.
'The diamonds I suspect are of no great interest to
you. No doubt you can replenish your hoards
without
effort whereas I cannot. On the other hand, I can
replenish my stocks of cocaine without effort. It's
cheap to produce out here in the jungle wastes.
That
being so, might I make you a gift of - shall we say
one tonne?'
'Ah, now that does have some appeal and I accept
your offer with thanks.'
'I can see that you and I shall become great
friends,' Ruez beamed taking his hand. 'I shall
have
it delivered before you sail. Now, how would you
like
to return to your ship? By the way you came or
would
you like me to take you in my helecopter? I could
show
                        538
you something of our plantations if it is of any
interest to you.'
336
'I'd like that,' Dieger said seizing the chance.
'It's settled then. Sanchez! he called as they rose
up from their seats.
Shuffling back his eye's imediately rivited on his
diamonds that still lay on the table.
'Pick up your diamonds,' Ruez ordered 'and put
mine
away in Sahara's safe. Then I want you to
organize the
transportation of a further tonne of cocaine to the
captains ship.'
'Yes sir,' he smiled 'Immediately.'
'I can see he's going to be a great asset to you.'
Dieger remarked as they walked toward the barn
where
the helecopter stood.
'He's quick to learn,' Ruez agreed. 'Let's hope his
diplomatic prowess continues to smooth the
troubled
waters I forsee ahead.'
As they drew closer to the barn, Dieger peered
inside to where the horses stood in a row of stalls
facing them. One whinnied, provoking a chorus
from the
others.
'Are they blood stock?' he inquired.
'Sahara always claimed they were. I like horses
but
                        539
breeding them has never been one of my
aspirations.
She loved them though. Would you care to
browse for a
few moments before we leave?'
'I'd appreciate it if you don't mind,' Dieger said.
'Where I come from it's a bit out in the wilds and
we
wouldn't get far without them.'
They entered the barn and crossed to where a
midnight
black tossed its head in hope of gaining
attention. Dieger's hand reached out to pet him it,
the beast tried to nip his hand. As he recoiled, he
noticed a large room to the left of the main
entrance.
The door was open enough to allow a flow of air
to
pass through and he could see several white
coated
people weighing clear plastic bags filled with
white
powder.
'I don't suppose you have seen anything like that
before?' Ruez boasted. 'The coca leaves are
brought
here from outlying plantations for processing,
337
packaging and storage.
The building was filled to capacity before you
                        540
arrived. Until your order came in we were
suffering
the effects of a slump, thanks to the crack down
of
the worlds major powers. That's why Sahara was
so
desperate to find how you operated.'
'Aren't you curious? Dieger asked.
'Of course,' Ruez admitted 'but not stupid. By
dealing with you I know I can move all of our
produce.
If your method were known to all and sundry the
authorities would soon get wind of it. As a result
you
would no doubt get caught and we would be
unable to
proceed. The profit in that would only be short
term.'
'Wise words, I can see it's going to be a pleasure
dealing with you.' Dieger complimented.
Returning to the sunlight they boarded the
helecopter and took off. From above the
compound, with
its red roofed buildings appearing like a jewels in
the wilderness. A single track that angled towards
a
distant road, appeared to be the only life-line to
the
outside world.
Dieger knew the nearest town was fifty miles
away.
                        541
The were several other buildings, but were barely
more
than tin roofed shacks partially hidden beneath
heavy
foliage. Moving in a circle inland skimming the
tree
tops, it soon became evident that parts of the
dense
jungle had been cleared and camouflaged with
netting
to conceal the illicit coca crops beneath.
'Don't you have any roads out here?' he shouted
above the engines roar.
Ruez turned shaking his head. 'Just narrow trails
for pack horses beneath the tree!' he yelled. 'The
locals feel that if the roads made easy access,
progress would follow and they would be put out
of
business.'
Dieger nodded, looking back at the jungle bellow.
As
they swept out toward the sea, he managed to
pick out
the creek, although only the odd pool of water
could
be seen through the heavy foliage.
'Your ship looks odd,' Ruez called as they drew
338
close.'
'She was purpose built. Basically, it's a floating
                       542
dry dock used for picking up striken ships at sea
and
carrying out repairs. It serves my purpose well as
an
arms dealer. I'd like to return your hospitality by
showing you around, but that wouldn't be in my
interests would it?'
'I understand,' Ruez smiled. 'I'd get sea sick on a
duck pond anyway. I'll drop you off and get back
to
the hacienda before Sanchez decides to abscond
with my
diamonds.'
Under Pike's sceptic eye, the helecopter landed
just
long enough for Dieger to disembark. Standing
clear,
he managed a friendly wave of farewell while
shielding
his eyes against the rotors downdraft.
'Was that the local law,' Pike asked 'Or was I
seeing things?
'It was, if you could call it that.' Dieger
critisised.
'That sounds ominous. Did he give you any
trouble.'
'Apart from scaring the crap out of me, I'd be
more
inclined to believe he has saved us quite a lot of
it,' Dieger admitted. 'Is captain Tsi and his men
back
                        543
from their foray reece yet?'
'About ten minutes ago. He's waitng to report
their
findings to you.'
'Good, and by the way, there's another tonne of
cocaine on its way. Better make sure its
thoroughly
checked. It‟s a gift from our friend in the
helicopter. He's taken over from Sahara and the
gift
is a token of his good will.'
'What hapened to Sahara?' Pike asked.
'He shot her. Now he's the boss.'
'It's the same old story,' Pike sighed, dismissing
her departure as a mere statistic. 'Get rid of one
and
another pops up to take their place before you can
bat
an eyelid. Your trip must have been worth the
effort
though. Nobody gives a tonne of coke away for
no
reason.'
'He had reason enough. He shot Sahara for
skimming
339
off too much cream. Somewhere along the line
the
diamonds I handed her seem to have got mislaid,
along
with her body. The extra coke is for keeping me
                       544
quiet.'
'Sometimes I get the feeling that we're in the
wrong
business. Surely they'll be some repercussions?
The
hundred million dolars worth of diamonds don't
just go
missing without someone getting their head
lopped
off.'
'As far as anyone is concerned, Sahara has
disappeared and now resides in parts unknown
with the
loot,' Dieger explained. 'What the columbians
make of
that is their business. Where's Scott anyway?'
'He's around, but bored stiff. Can't you find him
something to keep his mind occupied?'
'If I hadn't needed him here, I would have sent
him
to the States with Sonia. His problem is that he
needs
something to keep that brain of his occupied,
otherwise he feels he's being left out.'
Captain Tsi had debriefed his men and taken the
time
to draw up a a rough map of their findings.
Dieger
immediately recognized some of what he had
seen from
the air and added his own observations to Tsi's
                       545
sketch.
There were at least fifteen plantations. All of
them
are small and situated in an arc inland around the
hacienda and linked by narrow pack horse trails.
A
second trail led to a larger one that Dieger had
seen
from the air, making the diagram look like the
exploded segments of three-quarters of an orange.
The only missing link was one leading to the
hacienda and from there to the jetty at the mouth
of
the creek. The creek itself was marked on the
map, but
Dieger was confident that none of these findings
were
the route used to transport the cocaine from the
hacienda processing plant to the coast.
'Your map confirms what I've seen from the air,'
he
said. 'But there's no way that I'm convinced a
hundred
tonne's of cocaine was moved on any of those
trails to
the mouth of the creek.'
340
'That was my guess,' Tsi agreed. 'They would
have
needed a whole string of pack animals, making
many
                       546
trips. We found little damage to the foliage and
no
sign of any horse droppings on any of the trails.
There is a possible alternative though.
After reaching the shore, we pushed through the
jungle to the mouth of the creek. Just there,' he
indicated pointing at a small circle close to the
creeks bank 'is a cave. We couldn't see exactly
what
it was used for because there was to much
activity, so
I left Tet to keep an eye on what was going on. So
far
he has not returned.'
'That could be nasty if he's been caught,' Dieger
observed.
'He's a veteran and can't talk, if that's what is
worrying you,' Tsi assured. 'The Cong cut his
tongue
out after suspecting him of collabering with your
forces back in Nam.'
'That's something I suppose. What was so special
about that cave that you should risk a mans life.'
'The lie of the land had a familiar look about it.
Between the jetty and the cave the ground is flat,
but
there also appears to be what was once a dry
shallow
river bed. It has seen a great deal of ware over a
short period. I suspect it's where the cocaine was
                       547
being stored before being transported to the
creek.
However, after exploring the trail from the
hacienda
to the creek, I realized how it arrived was still a
mystery. It is my guess that many centuries ago
the
creek was part of a large river. Then somewhere
deep
inland there was a great vocanic eruption. The
molten
lava followed its course down to the sea leaving
only
the creek. When the exposed lava cooled, it
formed a
protective shell which now forms a large part of
the
jungles base.
Beneath that if my theory is correct, I suspect
we'll find natural tunnels formed in the lava's
flow.
One of these probably passes close to, or runs
beneath
the hacienda and ends up at the caves mouth.'
With an airial view in mind Dieger began to
recall
341
what he had seen down to the minutest detail.
'What did you drink while you were out? he
asked.
'Water from our canteens. Why do you ask?'
                        548
'Did you drink any from the creek by any chance,'
'Yes, it was much cooler. Is that of any
significance.'
'I was just wondering. It seems strange that
someone
should build a luxurious hacienda in the middle
of the
jungle with an absolute disregard for the nearest
water supply.'
'Perhaps they pump it via an underground
pipeline
running from the creek,' Tsi suggested.
'Better yet from an undergroung source would be
more
plausible. Sahara's hacienda has a big swimming
pool
where I had a dip, and that was no creek water. It
was
good clean mineral water. Whats puzzling me is
there's
no sign of a well there.
Now I'm wondering, if in the digging of a well,
they
inadvertently hit one of those tunnels. When the
cocaine trade began to boom, they could have
built the
barn and stables right over the top of it to hide it
from view.'
'Is there any particular reason for it being
underneath the barn.' Pike asked.
'That's where the cocaine is processed, stored and
                        549
checked before packaging. But there wasn't
enough room
there to store the amount we're taking,' he
assured.
'If my assumptions are correct we can formulate
the
perfect plan of attack.'
'Shall I send a search party ashore to find Tet,‟
Tsi asked.
Dieger thought about that for a moment. Loosing
a
man, even though he was incapeable of speech
was bad
enough. But loosing the knowlege he may have
gained
could mean the difference between suffering
heavy
casualties when they returned, or just a few.
'We can't stay here much longer,' he said at last.
'Send two of your best men ashore to locate Tet,
while
the rest of us leave as planned. When we're out of
sight of land we'll discharge one of the fast attack
342
craft. You can lie low until dusk, then come in to
pick your men up. You shouldn't have any trouble
catching us up with your superior speed.
But lets get one thing quite clear. Under no
circumstances are you to risk your boat. Get fully
armed and don't hesitate in using your muscle if
that's what it takes to get clear.'
                        550
'Yes sir,' Tsi responded, comming smartly to
attention.
'We'll weigh anchore just as soon as the rest of
our
cargo is stowed,' he continued turning to Pike. 'If
I'm wanted I'll be in the radio room. And don't
forget
to send Scott to see me.'
An hour later Ling and Chek splashed into the
water
on the seaward side of the Atlantic Mirage. The
sun
was still high and many of the crew were already
in
the water enjoying themselves in noisy horseplay
to
cover there exit.
After making there way toward the bow, they
used a
clump of discarded foliage to conceal themselves
as
they made there way toward the shore. For
several
minutes they remained motionless with only their
heads
protruding so as not to disturb the wildlife. Then
with the greatest of care they concealed
themselves in
the thick foliage and waited for the jungle
creatures
to accept there alien presence.
                        551
After removing the waterproof wrappings from
their
weapons and equipment, which included walkie-
talkie
radio sets, they stowed an inflatable dingy in the
brush in preparation for their return.
The tree's were tall with straight trunks with few
branches near the ground. This part of the jungle
was
covered with thick brush, tall reed-like grass, and
long stemmed bright amaryllis lilies that filled the
air with a dank musky odour. There were no
paths or
trails to indicate penetration by either animal or
humans.
Rising to a crouch, they began to creep toward
the
cave above the creeks mouth, only dropping to
their
bellies when hearing voices.
343
After crawling closer to the clearing, only the
heads of four men could be seen from where they
lay.
They were sitting in the dry gully around a fire
whose
smoke drifted lazily in the still air.
Cautiously they turned inland to slither up a long,
shallow rise to where the suspected ancient lava
flow
had stopped. Then they circled until they were
                        552
directly above looking down on the foursome as
they
chatted and cooked a rabit on a crude spit.
Although dressed in shabby battle fatigues, each
man
sported a modern sub-machine gun with clips of
spare
ammunition, a pistol and and machete. There was
no
sign of the missing comrade Tet. But since his
orders
were to exlpore the jungle between the cave and
hacienda, it was easy to intercept his trail.
Following the tell tale signs of his passage, they
tracked him for two hours untill reaching a large
thicket. A discarded cigarette end and a small
patch
of trampled grass showed where he had stopped
to rest
in the shade before moving off again.
Puzzeled by his insistance on sticking to a strict
compass bearing through a heavy thicket, they
paused
to peer into the it‟s gloomy depths.
'I smell kerosene fumes,' Chek whispered, 'It's
coming from inside the thicket.'
Without waiting for comformation, he turned to
climb
a tree and found signs that Tet had done the same.
A
                       553
freshly cut vine was proof enough to show that
some
one had perched here. From here he could see
smoke
hanging lazily right in the centre of the upper
foliage. But there was no suggestion of human
occupation.
'Something tells me that all in not what it appears
to be,' he whispered on his return. 'There's smoke
and
fumes hanging in the centre, but no sign of life.'
Maybe it's a ventilation shaft,' Ling suggested.
Chek nodded, and they began to crawl on all
fours
through the undergrowth. Several minutes later
they
found themselves peering down a large natural
vent
into a tunnel from which the kerosene fumes
vented and
344
hung like a blue mist, trapped by the dense
growth.
A patch of freshly disturbed earth indicated what
had happened. A long piece of vine had most
likely
been secured to some brush in order to climb
down, but
the earth had been too shallow and the brush had
been
uprooted.
                        554
The tunnel below was not round and long,
running
from A to B as Ling had expected, but was more
like a
honey-comb. Large rock boulders that had
wedged in the
ancient lava flow divided the main stream,
causing
walls to build up behind them, forming cave-like
cavities. It was into one of these annexes they
found
them selves.
The main tunnel, just seven feet high, was easy to
locate by the flickering of Aladin-type paraffin
lamps
placed in niches along the walls. There was also
horse
droppings, confirming that it was used by pack
horses.
As they stood in the shaddows peering along, a
tiny
marble of lava bounced on the floor in the main
tunnel. They strained to listen and heard what
sounded
like a man trying to stiffle his cries of pain while
dragging his body along the floor.
Guessing it must be Tet they crept toward the
sound.
His face grimaced and his head lolled from side
to
                        555
side as he waved his hands, indicating that he was
in
to much pain to answere any questions using
hand
signals.
'Both legs and an arm are broken,' Ling
whispered.
'Were you tortured? he asked, and Tet nodded his
head.
'We don't have a field medical kit or morphine to
kill the pain. I'm going to put you to sleep so we
can
move you,' he explained.
Placing his hands at the base of Tet's neck he
gently pressed his thumbs at a spot at the base of
his
skull. Tet's eye's closed as he slipped into a
mercyfull uncosciousness.
After carefully hoisting him up through the hole
Ling slung him accross his shoulders, while Chek
led
the way back through the jungle. They arrived at
their
pre-arranged rendzvous and Ling called in their
345
progress using the walkie-talkie, while Ckek
hauled a
bag containing an inflatable dingy from its hiding
place in the brush.
'This is Charlie one calling Big Brother. Do you
read me over?' he rasped in a harsh whisper.
                       556
'We read you Charlie,' Tsi's voice assured. 'Do
you
have our stray?'
'We do, but he's got two broken legs and a broken
arm, other wise he's Okay. We are going to push
off
now, can you pick us up? Over'
'Can do. Head straight out to sea. I'll give you ten
minutes to clear the coastline before I come in.
Over
and out.'
Soon they were heading for the open sea. There
was
nothing in sight, yet both felt the tension nagging
at
there nerves the further they ventured out on the
mirror smooth surface.
'I've got a bad feeling,' Chek moaned, voicing his
fears.
'Me too,' Ling admitted. 'Stuck out here in the
open, I feel like a big fish in a very small pond.'
Even as he spoke, Tsi's voice called. 'Big brother
to Charlie one. Do you read me? Over'
'Loud and clear,' Chek responded.
'We have a radar contact about ten miles south
east
of your position. We are lying about the same
distance
away south west. I'm pretty sure its a coast guard
cutter on the prowl looking for pirate dealers.
They appear to be monitoring our progress. If we
                        557
maintain our present course we're going to meet.
To
avoid their spotting you I suggest you continue on
your present bearing while I head back out to sea
to
lure them away.
Under the circumstances, with you having a badly
injured man to deal with, I think ducking back to
pick
you up might be too risky. I'm going to call
Dieger to
see if he can orgaize an helecopter extraction
while I
keep that patrol cutter occupied elsewhere.
The better part of an hour passed before Chek's
walkie-talkie buzzed and the distant growl of a
346
helecopter could be heard.
'This Angel Wing. I can't see much with the glare
of
the moon reflecting up from the sea. If you can
locate
my position, give me some verbal direction.'
'I'll flash my torch,' Chek answered.
A series of quick flashes soon directed the rescue
vehicle on track. As it slowed to hover some
distance
away, a large oblong meshed mettle cage
suspended
beneath, was lowered into the sea until sank
beneath
                       558
the waves. Then slowly it edged its way forward
until
it rested directly beneath the inflatable dingy.
'Okay, hoist away,' Chek called into his
Walkietalkie,
and slowly the cage became airbourne to whisk
them back to the safe haven of the Atlantic
Mirrage.
Within minutes of embarking, a search aircraft
passed overhead but no contact was made.
Confident the
crisis had past, Dieger sent for Tsi to report the
findings of Tet's exploration
'Any comments? he asked Scott.
'The fact that tunnels exist is not necessarily to
our advantage,' he repied. 'Obviously, we could
find
our way through to the compound. The problem
is, could
we wipe out the guards at the entrance before
they
alert those at the hacienda and the plantations?
My previous suggestion is out of the question
unless
we can find some method of leadership.‟
'Well it's your baby,' Dieger pointed out. 'When
you,ve got it figured out let me know. If their's
anything I can do, or anything you need, don't
hesitate to ask.'
Chapter Thirteen
                       559
Most of the Atlantic's crew had one thing in
common.
Somewhere in the past, they had suffered from or
had
been tainted by the illegal drugs trade.
Regretably,
since many were seafaring or armed forces men,
this
was in the form of their wives and children
becoming
adicted, or were victims of serious crimes
perpertrated by adicts.
347
Following their departure from Columbia, Dieger
devoted much of his time preparing for making
deliveries. Due to the unpresedented amount of
cargo
and his insistence that payment be made in
diamonds or
shares in the Mafia holdings, only fifty tonnes
had
been confirmed. In normal circumstances this
would
have been a disaster, but in this particular case it
was treated as a great triumph.
Every man not on duty, or could be spared from
it,
was gathered on deck to witness one of the
factors
that had drawn them to Dieger's force. The
surplus
                        560
fifty tonnes of cocaine was brought out and
stacked on
the open deck. Then each man pierced as many
packages
as he could before throwing them into the sea
where
they could do no harm to the adicts that craved,
killed and commited a multiude of crimes in
order to
feed their habits.
When the last was gone, the sailor known as the
Manhatan Mauler stood proud among his
shipmates and
called for three cheers for their captain. They
responded heartily before demanding a speech.
'For the life of me, I can't see what you have to be
so pleased about,' Dieger mocked. 'You've just
thrown
about a billion dollar's worth of cargo overboard.'
This only brought forth a demand for more
cheering,
and when they quietened down he continued.
'Well I must admit that it feels good to have you
all gathered here, where you can see and take part
in
what we've been preaching for so long.
However, many of you will not be aware of the
fact
that the real glory for this mission belongs to a
man
                        561
you refer to as "the Limey or the Pom". He
doesn't say
much, but he's the one who started this particular
ball rolling. Now I'm not going to put him on the
spot
by asking him to give a speech, because he's not
much
of a one for talking.
Just keep it in mind that but for his ingenious
idea's, that particular billion dollar cargo wouldn't
be where it can do no harm. AS for the rest, lets
hope
we can achieve our objectives by netting some of
the
348
big wheeler-dealers and get them put away for a
good
long terms in prisons where they belong.
The next part of our mission, as far as you're
concerned is quite simple. There's no danger at all
in
making our deliveries. But on our return to
Columbia
things could be a little bit dicey.
From Captain Tsi's "reece" we know there's no
way we
can destroy the plantations by using commando
type
raids. This means everyone must be on their
guard when
                         562
ashore. If word gets back to Columbia that we
intend
wiping out the plantations, all hell is going to
break
loose when we make our bid. So be your brothers
keeper. That's about all, gentlemen. Dismiss!'
The feeling of having achieved something
boosted the
crews moral. In the days that followed the
torpedo
warheads were repacked with with cocaine. The
bofor's
guns and all unnecessary equipment was removed
from
the the fast attack boats decks to make room for
the
instaltion of additional torpedo tubes.
By-passing the exotic island of Haiti, the Atlantic
Mirage entered the vast Atlantic ocean,
maintaining a
north westerly course for two days and nights as
though heading for Miami. Then she turned,
heading
north east on a paralel course two hundred miles
off
the coast where they were out of the durisdiction
of
the U.S coastguard patrols.
This was the moment the crew had all been
waiting
                        563
for. The ships engines stopped pulsing and the
feeling
of being driven was replaced by a quiet gliding
that
progressed to a slow lazy wallowing roll on a
gentle
swell as the ship slowed.
After the docking well had been flooded, the stern
doors opened at precisely two o'clock, and
Captain Tsi
led the flotila of four fast attack craft out into the
night. Huge rain clouds hung heavily in the night
sky,
lent an eerie sense of foreboding as the mother
ship
got under way again.
'Steer two-seven-oh west for Miami.' captain Tsi
ordered before turning to his radio officer. 'Have
you
made contact with Stoddart yet?'
349
'He's on the line now sir.'
'This is captain Tsi. How are things at your end?'
he asked.
'Bustling,' Stoddart replied. 'Word has got round
that a big shipment is due and the law has put the
lid
on good and tight. Nothing has been getting
through
from other sources and the street prices have hit
an
                         564
all time high. We're hungry and waiting for your
shipment. What's you E T A?'
'Around four a,m. We have quite a swell running
out
here. How's the weather in Miami?'
'Like a duck pound and the forecast is good.'
Stoddart assured.
'Do you have any problems that I should know
about?'
Tsi asked
'No, bonney lad. You just keep coming and
deliver
the goods. I'll head out to the Sea Queen to wait.'
After signing off, Stoddart remained seated for a
moment reflecting on the situation. Dieger's first
delivery consisted of sixteen warheads, each
packed
with two hundred and fifty kilos of cocaine with a
street value of something like a billion dollars.
Dieger had pressed him to bargain hard with
Francesco Di Carlo, the Mafia's Florida
Godfather. As
a result seven hundred and fifty million dollar'
worth
of diamonds had been deposited in a vault accross
the
street from his hotel.
Swinging around in his chair, he leaned with his
arm
resting on its uncomfortable straight back to study
one of the two key's that would open the vault. Di
                        565
Carlo had insisted on retaining the second key
himself, promising to have it handed over the
moment
his men received his consignment.
Looking up, he gazed around the room. It wasn't
much, just a walk in wardrobe on the first floor,
utilized to house his transmitter, yet somehow it
put
him in mind of a prison cell.
Shuddering at the thought he turned toward the
door.
Sonia was leaning against the frame wearing a
pale
blue robe that didn't quite reach down to cover
her
350
white lace panties. From her shapely legs his gaze
elivated to meet her's.
'Eat your heart out,' she cooed with a smile.
'All the time, bonny lass,' he replied, letting the
key fall from his grasp to hang on the chain. As
he
walked toward her she stood aside, then followed
to
stand behind him as he peered through a narrow
slit in
the bamboo cane blinds.
The street was wide and well lit, with not so
much
as a tiny scrap of litter to mar its tidiness. Even
the ranks of tall royal palm trees that lined the
                        566
pavements and central reservations were so
smooth and
round, they might well have been carved out of
stone.
The bank where the diamonds were deposited
stood
prominently among the shopping parade and drug
stores
opposite. In the parking lot, a dark blue van, that
had been stationed there ever since the diamond
deposite had been made, had gathered a thin layer
of
dust.
'Don't let it bug you,' Sonia advised.
'I've seen to many double crosses,' Stoddart
admitted. 'It's the not knowing that bugs me. Is it
as
innocent as it looks? Or has Di Carlo, or the vice
squad got us staked out in hope of making a
killing?
'The vice squad? she echoed. 'I keep forgeting
that
although we consider ourselves to be on their
side,
they are still not aware of Dieger's "G" force or
our
mission.'
'Consider that a blessing. I'm not so sure about
trusting myself in this business, yet alone some
crooked or power hungry cop.'
                        567
Turning away, he walked through to the veranda
at
the rear, which skirted a large patio area. On three
sides there were holiday apartments on two
levels. A
coctail bar at the rear of the ground floor, had a
resturant running through to the front of the
building.
He huffed and grimaced. A bottle of beer cost
fifty
cents at opening time eleven a.m. But at two a.m.
the
next morning it cost three dollars. And he thought
he
351
was the smart one when running his clubs back
home.
Across the patio at the rare, close to the hotels
private swimming pool, was a round gazebo-style
bar
with a thatched roof. Beyond that another gazebo
housed a barbecue, from which plumes of smoke
drifted
during the day to entice holiday-makers with rich
spicy oramas. Beyond that lay the world
renowned
golden sands of Miami's beaches and the wide
ocean.
'Quite as the grave,' he remarked, scanning the
multitude of boats lying off shore. 'The tourists
                        568
would be hard put to believe what realy goes on
while
they are enjoying themselves.' he pondered aloud.
'Maybe it's just as well,' Sonia speculated. 'You
had best be going or you'll be late.'
Reaching around his neck, he unclipped the gold
chain with the key attached. 'You had better take
this. That at least will keep me from being
tempted
when Di Carlo's man hands over the other key.'
Taking it, she reached up to give him an
encouraging
kiss on the cheek. 'There's only one place for you
to
run - and that's back here to Momma.'
When she withdrew, he looked into her deep
bewiching
eye's and smiled, but did not speak. The promise
in
them was not for him, he knew that. He also
knew she
was destined to bewitch shrewder men than
himself
before her beauty faded. Di Carlo was her next
target.
If she failed to ensnare him, and he had made his
feelings for her quite plain despite being many
years
her senior, he knew that he was a dead man
walking.
                       569
After leaving the apartment he made his way
toward
the small wooden jetty where a motor boat
swayed
gently. Slipping it's mooring he boarded and as it
drifted clear, he prodded the started button. The
engine fired into life, shattering the tranquil
silence of the night before easing back to a steady
purring. After manoeuvering his way through a
maze of
smaller craft moored in the shallows, he headed
out to
sea where a fifteen thousand ton luxury yacht, the
Sea
Queen lay at anchore. A shivver ripled down his
spine,
for he knew that Di Carlo's men were watching
every
352
move he made. But what Di Carlo was not aware
of, was
that his men were also being observed.
When he eased alongside the Sea Queens
gangway he
stepped across and made his way up to the radio
room
on the bridge. Unlike Dieger, Captain Maurice
Chato's
Indian blood showed in his wiry build and
searching
dark eyes.
                        570
'So we meet at last,' Chato smiled offering his
hand. 'Captain Tsi has been in touch and our
shipment
should arrive in the next few minutes. I was just
about to go below to observe, would you like to
accompany me.'
'Why not,' Stoddart agreed 'might as well bear
witness to what this is all about.'
Five minutes later he found himself deep in the
bowel's of the ship. But since no one had seen fit
to
inform him exactly how the shipment was to be
smuggled
on board with the authorities on full alert, he was
more than a little supprised to find himself
encased
inside a huge pressurised compartment deep in
the
yacht‟s bowels. Iron grids surounded pool where
the
last of a dozen rubber suited divers wearing
goggles
and oxegen tanks were in the act of submerging.
Somewhat supprised he gazed around at other
equipment. There were two hard hat diving suits
hanging ready for use and a small deep sea diving
bell
among the gear, suggesting that this vessle was
used
for more than just this paticular cladestine
purpose.
                        571
He even imagined it being used to explore and
retrieve
items from sunken soviet vessles, which implied
it
might well be in the service of the U.S navy.
After clearing the vessles hull the divers swam to
a
pre-determined site. The water was crystal clear
and
the incoming torpedo's approached like a shoul of
deadly sharks. Then one by one their motors cut
and
they glided gently to rest on the sandy sea bed.
As though responding to a well practiced drill,
two
divers aproached each one. After looping wide
banded
strops around each end, they ducked beneath dark
sheets attached to them so the spent oxygen they
353
exhaled caused them to billow like parachutes
until
there weight raised gently from the sand.
Like weightless astronaughts they eased the
missles
back to the pressurised chamber where they were
hoisted out and placed on cradles in readiness for
unpacking.
When all sixteen had been recovered the faint
rumbling of the hulls outer doors closing could be
                       572
heard. This was followed by a hissing noise when
the
atmosphere depresurised to normal.
'Well what do you think? Captain Chato inquired.
'The mind boggles. I'll say one thing for you
yank's, you don't piss about. When you decide to
do
something, you do it in style. If this was our lot
back home, by the time such an operation went
through
the system and got permission to proceed, that
stuff
would have been on the streets and long gone.'
'The man that figured it out must be have been
some
kind of villain in his day,' Chato speculated.
'As it happen's, I doubt he ever harboured a bad
thought until he met me.' Stoddart confessed.
Chato just smiled. 'I'd give a lot to see Di
Carlo's face when you call him to tell him the
shipment has arrived and he can pick it up at his
convenience. I'll bet my pension he's had an army
out
watching to see how we were going to smuggle it
into
the country so he could perloin the idea and
bypass
our services's.
I don't know about you, but all this has given me
an
                       573
apitite and there's still much to do. Would you
care
to join me for some breakfast while there's time.'
Chato invited.
'Speaking for myself, I could eat a hog, trotters
and all. Do you think Di Carlo will come on
board to
complete this deal in person?' Stoddart asked.
Chato shook his head. 'I doubt it. When are you
going to call him?.
'As soon as we've eaten. I'm sure he's had me
under
surveillance, so I'll let him sweat it out for a while
longer.'
354
'People like him don't sweat so easy,' Chato
assured. 'If I'm any judge of his kind, the chances
are he's too busy trying to figure out how to get
his
hands on that shipment without paying for it.'
'That wouldn't go down too well with the other
Mafia
Don's in other parts of the country.' Stoddart
sumised
'It could only lead to our putting a hold on all
other
shipments, unless they made good our loses.'
'Well let's hope the day progresses as we expect.'
Chato said. 'Worring about what might happen
will only
give you ulsers.'
                         574
While eating breakfast, Stoddart's thoughts
returned
to the vehicle parked near the bank. Obviously it
wasn't there just to wait for him to pick up the
diamonds, because Di Carlo would not have
bothered
until his shipment had been safely delivered. On
the
other hand, it could be one of his coleagues using
it
to keep tabs on him to see who visited him during
his
stay at the hotel.
'Why don't you make the call?' Chato suggested,
noticing his worried frown.
Stoddart met his dark-eyed gaze across the table.
'I
must be getting too old for this game,' he
groaned.
'There seems to be gremlins everywhere I look
these
days.'
After refilling his cup, he sat on the corner of
Chato's desk and tapped out the digits of Di
Carlo's
private number.
'It's Max Stoddart,' he informed the female voice
that answered. 'Mister Di Carlo is expecting my
call.'
'Di Carlo speaking,' his deep nasal voice
answered a
                       575
few moments later. 'Have you any news?' he
asked,
knowing full well that according to his minions
no
shipment had been reported to have arrived.
'Your shipment is ready to be collected. When
can
you pick it up?' Stoddart inquired.
Such news, although welcome, sent Di Carlo's
pulses
racing. He was furious. Everyone that had been in
contact with Stoddart had been kept under strict
surveilance. That had been time consuming and
355
expensive, and evidently had not produced the
required
results.
'Where is it?' he demanded.
'On board the Sea Queen. Four thousand kilo's as
agreed.' Stoddart assured.
Stunned at this revelation, Di Carlo swallowed
hard.
'Can you hold the line for a minute while I get my
act
together?'
'Take your time,' Stoddart invited. 'Ther's no
particular rush.'
Covering the telephones mouth piece wilth his
palm,
Di Carlo looked through the open french doors of
his
                       576
library. Outside, the happy voices of his two
young
grand children rang with laughter as they played
in
the early morning sun on vast lawns that reached
down
to where his luxury cabin cruiser was moored at
Indian
Creek. Somewhere out of sight a battery-powered
lawn
mower whined, and he imagined his ageing father
sitting haunched on it as it trundled along.
'Don!' he rasped aloud, and his son-in-law, Don
Cantilino, stepped into veiw.
For a man of thirty years, he had a great deal of
responsibility resting on his shoulders, but his
swarthy Castilion handsomeness often drew him
away
from those of business to indulge in the pleasures
of
his many female admirers.
'Some body goofed,' he declared angrily. 'The
shipment is on board the Sea Queen ready to be
picked
up.'
'That's impossible. The customs rummage crew
assured
me it was clean when it arrived and there's no
way it
could have gotten on board since then without our
knowing.'
                       577
'Well they fucked up thats all I can say. Has the
Sea Queen taken on any stores, fuel or laundry
yet? Di
Carlo demanded.
'You know we have exclusive rights for our
companies
to take care of all ships tendering contacts,'
Cantilano protested.
'I'm well aware of that you bloody idiot. Answere
356
the question!' he ranted.
'All right keep your hair on! No they haven't!
There's no way anyone could have got that
amount of
stuff past the customs rummage inspection. Apart
from
crew libery boats going to and from shore, the
only
vessels going withing fifty yards of the Sea
Queen
were sightseers, and a small launch Stoddart used
to
get on board.'
'Damn your eye's, I was banking on finding out
how
they get the stuff into the country. You'd better
organise getting it ashore, while I go on board to
check it out before handing over this bloody key.'
'What about the crew at the bank?' Cantilano
asked.
'Leave them there until we are in possession.' he
                       578
ordered turning back to continue his conversation
with
Stoddart.
'Hello, sorry to keep you waiting. I'll be along
with my chemist shortly to check the goods. If it
comes up to expectations, I'll get it moved
straight
away.'
'Suits me fine,' Stoddart agreed affably. 'Need I
remind to bring the key?'
'How could I forget?' Di Carlo responded curtly.
'Sounds like he's coming himself Chato remarked
as
Stoddart replaced the telephone. 'It's pity our
law's
of entrapment won't allow us to have him charged
while
he's here.'
'Knowing my luck, I'd probably land in jail
myself,'
Stoddart groused. 'Apart from that his immedate
arrest
would implicate us - and that would queer our
deal
with the rest of the mob.'
'Give him to me for twentyfour hours and you
wouldn't need to bother about that,' Chato
boasted.
'I'd have him singing like a pet canary in no time
flat.'
'Winning a few battles isn't what this is about,'
                       579
Stoddart reproved. 'When Dieger pulls the plug,
he
intends winning a war against the Mafia and
anyone
that deals with them.'
'So they say,' Chato agreed showing little
357
enthusiasm. 'Lets hope his dream materialises
before
someone pulls the plug on him. Keeping this
project
under wraps is going to take one hell of a lot of
doing.'
Stoddart slid off the desk. 'Fear is the key,' he
replied. 'Have you checked to see if the video's
are
loaded and working? I'd hate to see Di Carlo slip
through our fingers after going to all this trouble.'
'Checked, checked and double checked. Stop
worrying,' Chato advised.
'In that case I'm going to check the dining room
before I get changed.
Waiting was not one of Stoddarts favourite
pastimes,
so after checking all their arrarangements, he
prowled
the decks brooding like a mountain cat. At noon,
when
the sun was at it's zenith, Di Carlo's cabin cruiser
approahed from the direction of Fort Lauderdale
and
                         580
moored up alongside. Chato immediately headed
for the
bridge to supervise the recording of Stoddarts
meeting
with him in the supposed privacy of the officers
dining room.
Di Carlo entered first and was visibly surprised to
see no attempt had been made to cover up the
neatly
stacked plastic packages of cocaine.
Alfonso Siracusa, his chemist and colleague, a
short
dapper man with an olive skin, visibly gulped so
much
his adams apple bobbed up and down.
'Christ!' he said, pushing past Di Carlo. 'You must
have friends in high places to have got this lot
passed the customs.'
Di Carlo, who had friends in that department
himself, knew that the Sea Queen had been
throughly
searched and was found to be clean on arrival.
'Just how did you manage to it?' he asked. 'I'd pay
handsomely to know.'
Stoddart smiled. 'Competition is something I can
do
without. Operating the way I do suits me fine.'
Di Carlo nodded while Siracusa selected several
packets at random. After each test his answer was
the
same "Quality, ninetysix per cent proof"
                        581
358
'If I might beg the use of your telephone, l can get
the get the transportation organized.' Di Carlo
asked.
'You can use the one in the captains cabin or I can
plug one in here if you wish,' Stoddart offered.
'Here will be fine.' he agreed.
Retrieving a spare telephone from the stewards
cupboard Stoddart pushed the jack-plug home.
'For the
Captains convenience during meals.' he
explained. Then
as Di Carlo tapped out the digits he asked.
'How will you get this ashore?' Stoddart inquired.
'You are due to take on fresh laundry, fuel and
vituals,' he replied. 'The companies involved are
owned to my organization.' then turning his back
he
grunted. 'Di Carlo, the stuffs here, so get things
moving and be quick about it.'
'Would you care for a drink while you wait?'
Stoddart asked.
'I have business to take care of ashore,' Di Carlo
answered gruffly. 'Alfonso can stay here to keep
an
eye on things and he'll hand over the key after it's
been transfered.'
'Suits me fine,' Stoddart agreed offering his hand.
'I'll be looking forward to doing business with
you
sometime in the future.'
                        582
'Me too,' Di Carlo agreed, thinking of the vast
profits he expected to make.
It was decision time for Captain Chato now that
he
knew how the cocaine shipment was to be
transported
ashore. Picking up the telephone he contacted his
diving supervisor and ordered radio detonated
mines to
be attached to the servicing craft, or crafts, that
were be used to to transport the cocaine ashore.
Then the minute Stoddart and Di Carlo departed,
he
replayed the video tapes to make sure a there was
a
perfect record of everthing that had taken place.
Setting those aside, he replaced them with fresh
ones
in order to record the actual removal of the
shipment.
Using the hidden camara's all seeing eye's he
recorded the arrival of Di Carlo's tendering
services
from the radio room behind the bridge.
359
The refueling tanker and the chandlers vitualing
tender came alongside on the shore side, but the
tender bringing the laundry moored up on the
seaward
side out of sight of prying eye's from the shore.
                        583
Large laundry baskets were hustled on board and
the
linen quickly unpacked, then repacked with
packets of
cocaine before being returned to the tender. A
simple
order over the telephone sent a diver out to fix
two
small radio controled explosive charges to the
bottom
of the linen tenders hull. When he recieved
confirmation that this had been carried out, Chato
picked up the telephone and dialed a number.
'Senator Angus McCluskey's residence,' his
private
secretary answered. 'Can I help you?'
'My name is Maurice Chato and I would like to
speak
to the senator please. It's urgent.'
'I'm afraid he's in conference at the moment. Can
I
help you?'
'Sure you can,' he answered curtly. 'You can get
off
your frigging butt and tell McClusky that Captain
Maurice Chato is on the line, before half of Fort
Lauderdale goes up in smoke!'
The secretary swallowed hard. 'Yes sir.' he
gagged.
'I'll get him straight away.'
                       584
As though stung he hurried out into the garden
where
the senator was practising his putting on the lawn.
'There's a man called Chato on the phone ranting
about blowing up half of Fort Lauderdale,' he
blustered.
'Jesus Christ,' McCluskey blasphemed dropping
his
club. 'What in hell's name‟s going on?
When he repeated the phaze on the telephone,
Chato
asked, 'Are you alone?'
Recognising his voice he turned to his secretary.
'This is private, you can go now.'
'I am now, You can speak freely.'
'You know who I am? Chato asked.
'Of course I do; you're Captain Maurice Chato,
one
of Dieger's colleagues. We attended a secret
meeting a
several weeks ago. What's all this about blowing
up
360
half of Fort Lauderdale?'
'We have a whole new ball game here,' Chato
began to
explain. 'The shipment has been loaded onto a
tendering vessel servicing the Sea Queen. I figure
that if I put a hole in it's hull and one of the
accompanying boats picks up the survivers, it will
                        585
create a prime situation for the proper authorities
to
locate the cocaine. And that will give them the
perfect excuse to investigate a big part of the
Florida Mafia holdings.
'Sounds perfect,' McCluskey praised. 'You have
my
appoval.'
'Theres just one snag,' Chato warned. 'Since the
tender will have just left the Sea Queen, any
questioning of the crew could implicate us.'
McCluskey searched for an answer. The 'G' force
were
doing a good job. One that needed to be done-and
having the Sea Queens crew arrested would most
cirtainly foul up the rest of their mission.
On the other hand he could see Chato's point. An
accidental explosion at sea would keep a vast
amount
of narcotics from ever reaching the street, plus the
prospect of bringing the Florida Mafia to
financial
ruin.
'Did Di Carlo attend the proceedings in person
and
did you video tape everything that took place?'
'That's an afirmative' Chato assured.
This was to good an opportunity to miss,
McCluskey
decided. 'Can you follow the tenders progress on
your
                        586
radar after you leave port and detonate the device
at
the last minute, so as not to endanger innocent
lives?.'
'No problem,' Chato assured.
'Then I suggest you do so. Weigh anchore the
minute
your transaction is complete, and I'll cover you as
much as I can by placing a water tight security
blanket over all 'G' force activities.'
'Consider it done,' Chato assured. 'I'll send a
messenger with the tapes before we leave. Have a
nice
day.'
361
Within an hour of there conversation, the laundry
tender began it's journey back to base with the
refueling tanker and vitualing boats following
behind. Chato immediately sent a crewman
ashore with
the tapes before giving the order to weigh
anchore.
Surprised at their sudden departure, Stoddart
joined
Chato on the bridge and was given an
explanation. The
two men hovered over the radar as there course
took
them directly out to sea. By the time the tiny
flotila
                        587
was nearing their destination, the Sea Queen had
long
since been out of sight.
With a glint of satisfaction in his dark eyes, Chato
detonated the charge. They were too far away to
hear
the explosion, but their success was soon
confirmed by
frantic radio requests for aid by the authorities
ashore.
Within thirty minutes, intercepted calls told the
story of hundreds of packets of narcotics floating
in
the sea amid a thin widespread powdery oil slick.
This
was soon on the air waves, with talk about the
biggest
illegal narcotics find ever known in the United
States.
Satisfied with the outcome of the days events,
Chato
relayed their success to Dieger on board the
Atlantic
Mirage. In the days that followed, secret
messages
from Senator McClusky kept all those concerned
informed of the situation in the state of Florida.
The arrest of Siracusa, Cantilano and Di Carlo led
to many more arrests. This combined with the
loss of
                        588
the cocaine and the diamonds handed over in
payment,
combined with having his assests frozen with the
prospect of having them seized, proved to be the
undoing and crumbling of Di Carlo's empire
overnight.
Faced with having what was left confiscated, Di
Carlo
took the easy way out by taking his own life.
Days later, a massive five tonne shipment found
its
way ashore at Jacksonville. Eight more were
loaded
onto trucks to be taken to destinations as far away
far as New Orleans, but a 'G' force teams posing
as
thieves hijacked both. Eventualy this was dumped
in
362
the Gulf of Mexico where it could do no further
harm.
Five more tonne‟s were was destoyed At
Charleston,
when a gas main exploded beneath the warehose
where it
was being stored while awaiting distribution,
thanks
to 'G' force agents.
Apart from the actual losses, the Mafia as a whole
suffered a far reaching investigation after more
                        589
discoveries by the fire department. At Savannah,
a
rival gang was informed about the location of a
further ten tonnes and a war broke out for its
possession. This resulted in its confiscation and
many
arrests followed. These led the authorities deep
into
the Mafia network and many high ranking
members faced
convictions as a result.
The 'G' forces greatest coup by far was the New
York
operation. The fast attack craft spent most of the
night launching torpdo's right into the heart of the
harbour, where the Sea Quean divers worked
feverishly
to recover the warheads. By morning nine tonnes
of
cocaine had been stored on board destined for
Baltimore, Washington, Pitsburg, Philadelphia,
Cleaveland, Detroit and Chicago. In order to
protect
their investment, the Mafia employed a whole
army of
enforcers. Under their own tight servielence the
Sea
Queen discharged her cargo, and after recieving
the
keys required for payment she sailed.
                        590
That evening, when she was many miles out at
sea, a
'G' force agent high up in the cab of a dockside a
crane, began to act like a crazy man, shooting at
anything that moved.
The steady report of his high powered rifle soon
attracted squad cars to the scene, and as more
police
arrived the Mafia guards were forced to seek
refuge in
the shaddows.
Using megaphones they tried in vain to talk their
man down, and no amount of shooting by
marksmen from
the ground could penetrate the cranes control cabs
floor to force him out. In desperation, marksmen
climbed up into the cab of an adjacent crane and
high
up on stacked containers. But as the night wore
on he
363
still evaded all eforts to coax him down.
As the new day dawned he persisted in keeping
the
authorities at bay in an effort to gain maximum
publicity during the daylight hours. Then, when a
police officer's dog detected carefully planted
traces
of cocaine, it began straining on its leash. The
officer allowed himself to be led on a trail that led
                         591
into a longshoremans canteen and rest facilities
store
room where he located the consignment of
cocaine.
Having achieved his objective the gunman let his
weapon fall to the ground.
'Hold your fire!' he shouted as the melle' of
attention was now devided between himself and
the rest
rooms. 'I'm unarmed and comming down!'
Half expecting to feel the thud of a missile hitting
his bullet proof vest, he made his way down to
where
Captain Joseph Lloyd awaited.
'Grab yourself a piece of iron he demanded
pushing
him against the crane. 'What's your name,' he
growled.
'Bains. Robert olver Bains. Just plain old Rob to
my
friends.'
In seconds he had been frisked for more weapons,
his
hands dragged behind his back and put in
handcuff's.
'You may remain silent---Lloyd began.
'You can cut the crap and get me out of here
before
some damned fool takes a pot shot at me,' he
growled,
                        592
then adding in an undertone. 'What the hell took
you
so long anyhow?'
'These things take time,' Lloyd replied. 'That god
damned dog took it's time picking up the scent.
You
did a great job though.'
Turning away while most of the attention was
now
focussed on the cocaine find, Lloyd hustled Bains
inside a squad car.
'You'd better get yourself down in the footwell
until you get clear. I'd hate to see some crank
shoot
your fool head off during all this commotion.'
Then turning to his driver he ordered. 'Take him
to
where ever he wants to go and set him free.'
'You're some kiddie to have as a friend,' Baines
364
groaned. 'I sit up there all night cold and hungry
getting shot at while you get the goodies and
promotion.'
'Take a flask and sandwiches,' next time Lloyd
chuckled.
It was inevitable that with the loses of Mafia men
and finances there would be repercussions. Word
spread
across America to such an extent that the
Canadian
                       593
Mafia cancelled any part in what they considered
a
jinxed contract, and this pleasd Dieger.
Although none of the Mafia's recent tragedies
could
actually be attributed to him, it was better to ease
off before an ambush was sprung on his force on
the
mere assumption that he was behind all the
Mafia's
tradgic loses.
Although total victory eluded him, the
achievements
of the 'G' force had reached deeper into the dark
recesses of crime than any other authorative body
had
able too during their many years of trying. Arrests
run into many hundreds, and the tally was still
rising. So far, the millions in diamonds handed
over
for no return had reached billions, while Mafia
assets
seized was many times greater and still rising.
Such an impressive record deserved recognition
and
standing on the Atlantic Mirageges bridge, Dieger
related the figures to the entire crew over the
tanoy
system. When their jubilant cheers died away, he
informed them of a change in course that would
allow
                        594
them a short well earned holiday in Burmuda.
Chapter Fourteen
Dieger had only planned on staying there long
enough
to replenish stores and fuel, but after Scott voiced
his thoughts that had been nagging him since
leaving
Columbia, he kept the Atlantic Mirage at anchore
for a
full week. Careful research proved Scott's fears
that
Ruez could not possibly fulfill his contract to
supply
a further two hundred tonne's of cocaine.
365
Scott's theory proved only a limited amount could
be
produced from the plantations shown on the
survey map
during the coca crop season. And since Dieger
had
bourne witness to the fact that they had vertualy
depleted Sahara's stock, Ruez obviously couldn't
produce double the original quantity during their
short absence without purchasing massive stocks
from
else where. The only other explanation appeared
to be
that Ruez might have ideas of joining the queue
of
                        595
those trying to make a final killig before
departing
for foriegn parts where he could enjoy his ill
gotten
gains.
Every avenue that Ruez might concievably tread
was
explored and counter measures taken. By the time
they
sailed, Stoddart had already begun his diamond
run
picking up Mafia payments left in bank vaults.
Sonia, who had inviegled her way into the upper
enchalons of the Mafia, had sold her knowlege of
Stoddarts diamond run to Monte Leone for the
promise
of a nominal million dalars. Monte Leone was
chairman
of International Finance LTD, a company that
laundered
and managed billions of dollars of Mafia money.
He proved to be as shrewd and ruthless in his
dealings in crime as he was in the world of
finance.
When his henchmen were ambushed as they tried
to rob
the man they thought to be Stoddart making his
last
collection in Miami, none were prepared to give
evidence likely to incriminate anyone other than
themselves.
                      596
Will the bulk of the Mafia Billions now in safe
hands, Stoddart approached the Atlantic Mirage
in a
fast attack craft many miles out at sea, carrying
Ruez's two hundred million dollars worth of
diamonds.
In the greyness of early dawn, low cloud shed a
fine
drizzle over a lazy rolling swell. With virtualy no
wind, the only the brightness on the drab waters,
apart from of the occasional white topped wave
breaking, was the wake left by the fast attack
craft.
While the mother ship waited, with engines quiet
and
stern doors gaping, Stoddart witnessed for the
first
366
time the idea he had once scoffed at, as Captain
Tai
piloted his way expertly into the vast cavern of
the
docking well. Voices echoed back and forth as
both
crews prepared to secure the smaller craft when
the
great doors swung closed to hide its existance
from
prying eyes.
Hugging the polished oak chest containing the
                        597
diamonds to his chest, Stoddart crossed the
gangway to
the lower gallery before making his way up
through the
decks to Dieger's cabin where Scott's pleasure at
seeing him showed in his broad smile.
'I never thought I'd be glad to lay eyes on your
ugly face again, but I am,' he greeted offering his
hand.
Placing the chest on the table, Stoddart took it in
his own firm grasp. 'I've missed you too,' he said
sincerely. 'And I've got to addmit, 'he added
turning
to Dieger, 'I owe you a dept of gratitude that I
shall
never be able to repay. In the past few weeks I've
seen more villains pay the price for their crimes,
and
I can't help thinking that but for you, I could have
been in the same boat.'
'You did a fine job,' Dieger complimented. 'The
intrigue seems to be be doing you a world of
good. You
look ten years younger.'
'That's through not having to worry about having
my
collar felt by the old bill,' he grinned. 'And what
other occupation offers free travel, the best hotels,
luxury yachts and unlimited expenses?'
'Ah!' Dieger said producing a two official looking
                         598
documents. Handing one to Stoddart and the
other to
Scott,' he added. 'Those are in appreciation for
services rendered. The United States government
has
empowered me to asked that you sign those.
With frowns, expecting them having something to
do
with the official secrets acts they both accepted
and
Stoddart began to read.
'On completion of assignments benefical the
peoples
of the United States Of America, you have been
awarded
real estate in the country a Spain. These consist of
367
one complex of ten hoiday homes and a gambling
casino.
Deeds to the aforesaid have been forwarded to
our
embassy in Madrid for variforcation and
collection at
your liesure. Signed Senator A McCluskey.
Scotts eyes gaped as he read his quoted. 'They've
awarded me a ten holiday home compex and a
fully
equipped water sports centre in Spain.'
The loud pop of a champiagn cork drew their
attention.     'Time     to    celebrate,'   Dieger
complimented.
                        599
'I appreciate this, but you wouln't have an ulterior
motive in mind? Work is work, but getting my
family
involved is an other matter entirely.' Stoddart
brooded.
'My goverments motives are strickly honourable,'
Dieger assured. 'Preparations are in place for you
to
be transported by helicopter to the nearest airport
and then off to a new life where your wife awaits
you.
The Atlantic Mirage is due to dock at Port au
Prince. When my business is completed there, we
are
going back to Columbia to wrap that part of our
mission up.'
'Opting out now has a lot of appeal,' Scott
admitted. 'But speaking for myself, having come
this
far I'd like to see this mission through to its
conclusion.'
'Me too.' Stoddart agreed.
'As you wish,' Dieger agreed. 'To success,' he
toasted raising his glass. 'Now let's have a look at
those diamonds?'
Stoddart handed over the keys and Dieger
inserted
them into the twin locks. All eyes looked down in
anticipation, and there, beneath the ornate top
were
                        600
many shallow trays. Access to them was gained
by
releasing two tiny catches inside that allowed the
front of the chest to swing down.
The trays were shallow. An inch and a half deep,
two
feet in length, by eighteen inches wide. They
were
upholstered in midnight blue velvet, displaying
large
quality gems set out in neat dimpled nests.
Beneath each gem a discription, colour and
weight
368
was recorded. None were priced, but a wad of
documents
in the rounded lid provided information that
included
dated valuations.
Stoddart swallowed hard, for only a few weeks
earlier he would have moved heaven and earth to
gain
possession of such a prize.
'Are you realy going to hand them over?' He
asked.
'Of course,' Dieger assured. 'Our deal was to
exchange them for two hundred tons of cocaine,
and I
see no reason to deviate from that agreement.'
He retrieved a minute tracking device from the
top
                       601
draw of his desk. It was no larger than a shirt
button. Then removing one of the diamonds he
made a
small incision in the velvet using a knife. Then he
eased the bug inside before replacing the gem.
'On the other hand,' he continued with a smile,
but
left the threat unspoken.
'Say no more,' Stoddart said. 'So whats the form
apart from that?'
'Hard to say. Scott has doubts as to whether Ruez
can actualy supply the tonnage required as
promised.
There's a lot of jungle out there and Scott could
be
wrong about Rues's production capacity. If he
meets
our demands, then his operation must be at least
three
times larger than we first thought. But I very
much
doubt that to be the case.
That being so, if Ruez can't honour our contract
and
doesn't admit it before we deal, it's a fair bet that
he's going to make a grab for those diamonds
before he
departs for places unknown. What he's planning
to do
with us is any ones guess. He's probably planning
to
                         602
have us marched off into the jungle and shot to
cover
his crimes.
'Now I'm beginning to wonder about the wisdom
of
deciding to stay and see this mission through,'
Stoddart said as the roar of two huge helecopters
aproached with large containers slung beneath
them.
'Scott, why don't you take Max down to the mess
room
to get some breakfast before getting him settled
into
a cabin. Then perhaps you could show him
around. You
369
never know, he might find a few surprises in
store.
'His delivering those diamonds like a good little
boy was surprise enough for one day,' Scott
grinned.
'I'm not sure he could handle any more.'
Stoddart swung a playful punch at his jaw. 'Have
you
had anymore bright ideas, bonny lad?' he asked.
'Just one,' he anwered.
'Get out of here,' Dieger growled. 'I have things to
do even if you two loafers don't.'
Outside, the gloomy mist persisted. Eyeing the
wet
                        603
decks and depressing atmoshpere, Stoddart
paused to
watch the helecopters lower the containers under
Pike's direction.
'I hope they've got a good supply of prime steaks
and seafood. I'm just about sick up to here with
foriegn restuarants and fast food grub,' he
moaned.
'A good breakfast will work wonders for you,'
Scott
forecast. 'You can tell me about escapades in the
States while you eat.'
'Don't even think about the States and food
without
taking a deep breath,' Stoddart advised. 'Have you
ever been there?'
'No. What's it like?' Scott inquired.
'Like nothing else you've ever seen or been,' he
declared. 'Everythings bigger and better than back
home. Take breakfast as-a-for-instance. You want
a
dozen eggs and a whole pound of bacon? Just
help
yourself. It doesn't cost more than a few dolars
and
no one raises an eyebrow. And coffee: they'll
keep
topping you up for as long as you can drink it.
And
its not the same watery instant crap we get back
home.
                       604
The first time I went out for a steak was an
experience in it‟s self. These yanks start off with
a
whole stack of pancakes smothered in sysup.
Then
enough salad that would keep us Pom's going for
a
week. And that comes free while you're waiting
for
what they call a steak. Basically, they tear off the
cows horns, wipe its arse, toss it on the grill, then
served it up on a plates the size of a dustbin lids.'
'You've been out their too long,' Scott laughed
370
barging him with his shoulder.
'To be honest bonny Lad. I'd would have liked to
have gone out there for keeps when this is all
over
and that's a fact. The only problem is them Mafia
guys. When they put a contract out on you it's
game
over.'
While they chatted walking aimlessly Stoddart
barely
glanced at some of the new additions. One,
looking
like a crane with two jibs protruding beyond the
the
operators cab, did in fact conceal the twin barrels
of
                         605
an Emerlec thirty-millimetre cannon, capable of
firing
twelve hundred rounds per minute. Between this
and two
helecopters - now transformed into seabourne
gunships
- stood the two container units that had just
arrived.
As the two men passed, an engineer officer
approached from behind to check the heavy doors
were
secure and the temperatures were correct. His
dark
impassive eyes seemed to rivet on Stoddart,
giving him
an eerie feeling.
'Don't worry bonny lad,' he mocked. 'We're not
about
to plunder your cargo.'
The engineers head turned slighly with the
beggings
of a smile creasing his flat tanned pock marked
face.
'Special cargo,' he explained in broken English.
'The temperature must be kept just so or the
contents
would spoil.'
'That's just how the weather affects me,' Stoddart
said smoothering a gaping yawn with his hand. 'I
think
I'll skip breakfast and turn in till lunch time.
                       606
The next few days followed the tedious routine of
life on board ship, but there were a few surprises.
Deep in the docking well where the fast attack
craft
lay secure in their births, he saw bofors guns
being
replaced by thirty millimetre cannon, similar to
the
one he had seen on the deck. These were made to
look
like life boat davits with there twin jibs
overlooking
their sterns. Only then did he realize exactly what
the innocent pieces of machinery were. The
landing
craft were now prepared for the expected assault
on
the Columbian jungle plantations.
371
Scott busied himself making a few practice flights
in a flimsy microlite aircraft, whose engine could
be
jetisoned to convert it into a glider. Numerous
meetings added to Stoddarts enlightenment.
These were
to discuss various tatics to meet unforseen
situations, and every single meeting made
Stoddarts
skin crawl. So much so his continued scratching
became
a joke.
                        607
Leaving the North Atlantic behind, they entered
the
Caribean as though heading for the Panama canal.
Then
fifty miles off the coast the engines fell silent.
Under cover of darness the fast attack craft and
two
amphibious vessels eased out into the night.
While
they drifted the helecopters took to the air, one
transfering a container on to a landing craft.
Last to leave was Scott in his flimsy microlite.
Heading toward Sahara's hacieda he quickly
climbed to
two thousand feet in order to locate a specific
area
using hi-tech night sight. After checking his
equipment he pulled a lever, while looking at two
pressurized tanks fitted just below on either side
of
his seat. Satisfied with the misty brown spray
emitting into his slipstream, he shut them off and
checked his aerosol can of insect repellent.
'Night hawk to Mirage,' he called on his
walkietalkie.
'Do you read me? Over.'
'Loud and clear,' Dieger answered.
'I'm all checked out and about to make my home
run.
Over and out.'
Several minutes later when he was approching the
                       608
coast at a hieght of one hundred and fifty feet, he
jetisoned his engine into the sea.
Silently gliding over the jungle on a course
aligning the gully from the cave to hacieda, he
began
to spay his flight path across the jungle. Using
skills aquired during his business days, he made
use
of the air currents to stay aloft with out effort.
Sweeping over the hacienda's compound, he
turned to
spray the first of the platations. From that point
he
circled to spray a narrow path over all of them.
With
372
his mission complete he scimmed silently over
the dark
foreboding jungle to the far side of the clear zone
around the hacienda close to the forests edge.
With a
quick deftness he reduced the microlights frame
to so
many pieces of alloy tubing before hiding it in the
undergrowth.
'Night hawk to Mirage,' he called.
'Loud and clear,' dieger answered.
'My mission complete and I'm on the ground
waiting.
Over.'
'Did you see any sign of life on your travels?'
                        609
Dieger asked.'
'Just a few lights. The hacieda is well lit, but I
saw no activity. There are several vehicles and
two
small helicopters in the compound, otherwise all
was
quiet. Over.'
'Good carry on as planned. We'll be dropping
anchore
in a few minutes. Ruez has made contact and
should be
on board soon. If we don't make contact every
hour on
the hour, you know what to expect. Good
hunting. Over
And out.'
Standing on the bridges wing, Dieger turned to
the
shore where a dim light burned beneath the over
hanging jungle as a guide to their anchorage. The
main
engines no longer throbbed beneath his feet as the
ship now cruised under its own momentum. On
its final
approach a cabin cruiser quietly led a fleet of
small
camouflaged boats out from the creek as they had
on on
his previous voyage.
Pike gave a brief order, which was answered by
the
                       610
harsh rattle of the anchore chain.
Guessing Ruez would be on board the cabin
cruiser,
Dieger made his way down to meet him and
Sanchez at
the head of the gangway.
'Welcome aboard,' he smiled. „I see you were
ready
for us to make a quick turn arround.
'But of course,' Ruez smiled. 'Did you have a
good
Voyage?'
'A quiet one at least.' Dieger assured.
'If the news bulletins are to be believed, I hear
373
many of your Mafia contacts were not so lucky,'
Ruez
observed. 'Many arrests have been made over the
past
month and a great deal of cocaine seized.'
'Most unfortunate,' Dieger agreed, recalling the
vast tonnage that had been dumped and therefore
not
accounted for as far as Ruez knew. 'I calculate
only
half of our original cargo reached the streets,
which
has only served to create the need for more.
Perhaps
the Mafia will be more cautious this time around.
I
                       611
sincerely hope their increaced requirements are
not
going to influence thoughts of your raising the
price?'
'No, no, no, cirtainly not,' he assured. 'Would you
like to check your murchadize before we
proceed?'
'My first officer can take care of that while you,
Sanchez and I check your diamonds. Shall we
ajourn to
my quarters? We can have a celebratory drink
while he
does his bit.'
'Ah! he beamed. 'I was hoping you might make
such an
offer. It's been a long night organizing and there's
been no time to relax.'
'Mr Pike!' Dieger called, and he turned from
where
he stood by the crane at the ships side. 'I'll be in
my quaters if you need me.'
'Yes sir!' he called back.
For a few moments his dark eyes followed them
as
they entered the accomodation. He took particular
of
the uniformed Ruez reaching to briefly touch his
holstered pistol, and then withdrawing
immediately
after reassuring himself that it was still there.
                        612
Turning away, he looked down as the first tonne
of
cocaine was hoisted by the crane from the small
boat
below. The moment it cleared the boat moved
away,
allowing the next to take its place.
A minute after the first landed on the deck, his
own
crew unslung it and the chemist began random
testing.
In less than an hour, five boats had discharged
their
cargo's before everything suddenly went quiet.
Pike
who had been peering over the side turned to find
the
reason why. The crewmen in charge of the
unloading
374
stood with their hands held high, and beyond
them a
semi-cirle ragged natives were holding machine
guns at
the ready.
'What hell's going on!‟ he demanded.
'You are all under arrest,' a spokesman ordered in
broken English.
'You're joking!' Pike scoffed. 'If you're the law
around here, I'm Father Cristmass!'
'You will put up your hands or I will shoot you
                       613
where you stand. Tell your man in the crane to
come
out or I will shoot him also.'
Obediently raising his hands Pike called, 'Hey
schultz! You had better come down here and join
the
party. Don't try anything unless you want to start
a
massacre out here!'
When Schultz meekly came to join them the
spokesman
ordered. 'All of you will stand along the ships
side
and lean over as though looking down into the
water.'
When the natives in the boats below saw them
they
pulled aside the camouflage to reveal
reinforcements,
who began to stream up the gangway to take
command of
the ship. Minutes later the entire crew below
decks
had been marched out where they were kept
under guard.
Not a single shot had been fired to give any
warning
to Dieger, but the lack of normal activity aroused
his
suspicions. The chest of diamonds stood on the
table
                       614
with Sanchez scrutinising each gem in turn
through an
eye piece before wieghing them, while Ruez
looked on
expectantly.
'Did you encounter any problems explaining
Sahara's
disappearance and the diamonds after our last
visit?'
he inquired.
'My colleagues were most upset,' Ruez answered
'but
what could I say? She was nowhere to be found
and
Sanchez backed up my story. You inccidently,
have been
invited to dine at the hacienda in order to give
your
account of what happened. I presume that I can
count
on your support?'
'Naturaly,' Dieger agreed emtying his glass. 'Can I
get you another drink before I go on deck to
check on
375
how things are progressing?'
'Beautiful,' Sanchez muttered as he held up a
large
gem to the light.
Ruez glanced at it while handing Dieger his
empty
                        615
glass. Guessing that his plan to steal the diamonds
was well under way, the last thing Ruez he
wanted was
for Dieger to leave his Quarters without him.
While he had his back to him filling his glass at
the coctail cabinate, he drew his pistol and shot
Sanchez through the back of the head.
'What in hell's name --,' Diger began spinning
around to find himself facing the smoking pistol.
'Just let them drop to the floor,' Ruez ordered,
indicating at the glass and decanter.
Letting them drop, Dieger's eyes strayed to
Sanchez's lifeless body sprawled over the chest.
'Is
he to be just another missing person? he rasped.
'One of many I fear. Lift his body clear of the
chest and then re-pack the gems.'
'You'll never get off this ship alive,' Dieger
threatened. 'My crew will have heard that shot
and
they'll be out there waiting for you.'
'I think you crew will have been arrested by a
group
of natives who are under the impression they are
my
deputies. By the time they realise the truth it will
be to late.'
'You seem to be taking a great many unneccesary
risks. Why don't you make the trade as before and
then
                        616
disappear with the diamonds? I'd be quite willing
to
put this ship at your disposal if you wanted to be
transported to parts unkown.'
'I'm afraid I brought you here under false
pretences,' he admitted. 'You see, I can't meet you
order. All we have is tweny tonnes of cocaine. As
you
may appreciate, I couldn't have told you that
because
you wouln't have returned with so many
diamonds. And
now that you have, the last thing that I need is for
you to meet with my disgruntled superiors.'
'So where do we go from here?' Dieger asked.
'First we are going on deck to reassured your
crew
376
that you are still among the living. Then you will
all
be locked up safely while I make my getaway.
I'm sure
my disillusioned colleagues will set you free after
they have confirmed your tale of woe. And just
for the
record, don't bother trying to convey my
intentions to
my men. Only two speak English. I chose them
with
particular care before enlisting them.
Now if you would be so kind as to carry the chest
                        617
for me, we shall proceed. Don't be so foolish as to
think I won't shoot if you give me just cause. Two
hundred million dolars worth of diamonds is
worth any
risk.'
'Three hundred million,' Dieger corrected. 'Let's
not forget Sahara's hundred contribution.'
'All the more reason for you to take care,' Ruez
pointed out. 'Just keep in mind what happens to
your
crew if mine take fright and start shooting.
They're
not civilised to you standards. Life out here in the
wilds is cheap, and the jungle is vast and deep.
They
only law they understand is one of survival.
'I get the message,' Dieger assured picking up the
chest.
Clasping it against his torso he waited for Ruez to
open the door, stepped through and walked out
from his
quarters beneath the bridge.
Looking below where his crew were amassed
Ruez
remarked. 'Where are the rest of your crew.'
'They paid off sick after being bitten by some of
your insects last time we were here,' he lied. I've
had to issue those that remained with cans of
insect
repellent to protect them this time.'
                        618
Ruez grinned and nodded because he was pre-
occupied
with the problem of getting rid of the witnesses to
his crime without risk to himself.
A whole month of careful planning had gone into
his
escape with the diamonds. Few of his men could
understand English, and only he and two others
could
swim. Both had served at sea, one as a junior
deck
officer, the other as an engineer.
His plan was simple. Tie up the whole crew. Take
the
377
Atlatic Mirage out to sea and sink her with all but
his two English speaking men on board. There
would
only be two other survivers apart from himself.
They
could be dispensed with at the first opportunity
once
he was safe on board his helicopter heading for a
new
life with fabulous riches.
While Dieger re-assured him self that his 'G' force
colleagues would soon be coming to the rescue,
Ruez
was considering the possibilities of the container
standing close by on the deck. He calculated that
it
                        619
was large enough to hold Dieger's crew as well as
his
own if they all squeezed in. It was also as stout as
any prison cell and would be easier than trussing
every one up.'
'Open up that container,' he ordered, before
turning
to Dieger. „Put the chest down and order your
crew to
get inside.'
'I advise you don't do that,' Dieger said. 'The
freezer malfunctioned several day's ago and the
stench
of rotting meat will be unbearable even from
where you
stand.'
'It can't be worse than whatever it is you and your
crew are using for insect repellent,' Ruez shot
back.
'You ought to try taking baths now and then.'
With a frown Dieger allowed himself to be
marshalled
ahead of his men by the ragged guards. After
pulling
open the door, he withdrew the long bolts holding
the
double doors closed. Stepping back he hauled
them
open. Those of his crew close behind fanned out
in a
                        620
wide simi-circle in front of the containers
yawning
aparture.
Unseen by the gaurds that stood behind them, a
writhing mass of dark brown carnivorous army
ants,
just out of hibernation in their previously chilled
home, surged forward onto the deck.
Uninterested Dieger's crew, who were coated in
insect repellent, they advanced in their millions
on
among Ruez's unprotected rag-tag guards behind.
In
seconds they were screaming in terror as the tiny
creatures swarmed up their legs and up inside the
378
cloths, ripping their flesh with mandible jaws.
Dropping their weapons in order to beat their
bodies
with bare hands, they sort refuge from their
torture
by jumping over the side into the water.
Ruez being unable to see in those first few
seconds
because he was standing to their rear, stood
dumbfounded. His first thought was to gun down
Dieger.
But he was lost from sight in the confusion.
Opting
instead he made a grab for the chest of diamonds
                        621
hoping to make a speedy exit. As he reached
down the
swarm were already biting his legs and swarming
upward
to the bulk of his body. Sick with fear he took
several backward steps stamping his feet, shaking
many
from his clothing. Now fearing the same fate as
many
of his men that now lay writhing on the deck
being
eaten alive, he raced for the gangway.
'Get the engine started,' he shouted to his pilot
who stared up in bewilderment.
Most of his men were now in the water trying to
scramble on board the small boats as they bobbed
about, while many non-swimmers cried for help
as they
floundered helplessly. To his boatmans distress,
Ruez
ordered him at gun point to leave them and make
a
speedy retreat.
Meanwhile, Dieger headed for the bridge to
contact
his incoming pilot that had a second container
slung
beneath his helecopter.
'Drop that container on the hacienda,' he ordered
'before turning his attention to Scott. 'Do you read
me Night Hawk.'
                        622
'Loud and clear,' Scott replied.
'Ruez made his play and has been routed. You
can
expect company any time soon. How are you
doing?'
Scott
'I've disabled all transport at the hacienda and
standing by.'
'Ruez will head for the jetty by the looks of it.
Get there as soon as you can. Hide up until he's
gone,
then use his his boat to get back here. Over and
out.'
Grabbing an earosol can, Dieger raced back down
to
379
the gangway to find Pike had the situation well in
hand. Several of his men had dove over the side
to
retrieve some of the small boats and were waiting
at
the bottom of the gangway. When Pike spayed a
trail of
foul smelling scent on the deck to the boats, the
army
of ants followed. When each boat was filled to
capacity with the heaving brown mass they were
pushed
toward the shore ready to pick up the trail laid by
Scott during his flight.
                        623
During this operation the helecopter pilot
carrying
the second container of carnivorous ants flew
over
with its escourt. Yanking a cord caused a small
explosion that severed the cable holding the
container
and seconds later another blew open the doors,
releasing millions more ants over the jungle.
Minutes later Captain Tsi arrived with the fast
attack craft to stand by case his services were
required. Even as it cruised to a stop, the twin
thirty millimetre cannon at the stern swivelled
menacingly to cover the coast line.
'Keep an eye open for Scott!' Dieger shouted. 'He
should be coming out of the creek in a small
cabin
cruiser any minute. Then he turned his attention
to
the helecopter pilot that carried the second
container
filled with army ants out on the far side of the
jungle.
'Hello Delta force. Do you read me. Over.'
'Loud and clear Captain.' Replied a voice in a lazy
Texas drawl. 'Our bomb has gone and our guests
are
having a ball - at least there's plenty of dancing
going on down there. Over.'
'Good. Head out to sea to our rendezvous. There's
no
                        624
point in hanging around he advised signing off.
'Get under way Mr Pike. Captain Tsi can wait for
Scott and catch us up.'
By the time he reached the bridge, the heavy
anchore
chain had been winched up and he had barely
warned the
engine room to „Stand By‟ on the telegraph when
he
followed up with 'Full speed ahead.'
As engines began to throb and the propellers
began
380
churning the still waters, he gave the helsman the
order, 'Steer, three-zero-zero degres and keep
your
eyes open.'
'Three-zero-zero,' the helmsmans echoed,
spinning
the spoke wheel.
As the helecopters bypassed them on there way
out to
the open sea, Dieger worried about Scott and
walked
out onto the bridges wing to look back. The white
cabin cruiser had just appeared at the creaks
mouth
where Captain Tsi waited to pick him up. Just for
a
moment Dieger allowed himself the luxury of
                       625
contemplating the consequences of their nughts
work.
Somewhere back in the jungle the billions of
carnivorous ants would now be be settled after
their
disturbance and waiting for the dawn. When the
sun
came up they would begin their march of
destruction,
eating anything that lived and was unable to get
out
of their path. Stopping such hoards was vitualy
impossible once they had decided on a direction
that
altered each dawn by one hundred and twenty
degrees.
Nothing would deter them. Death or the fear of it
was beyond their comprehension. Since they
carried the
eggs of their unborn offspring at the rear of their
column, and the prolific reproduction cycle, their
numbers were unlikely to be depleted.
It would be many a long day he thought, before
the
jungle for many miles around would be habitable.
And
with any luck the ants would multiply further in
their
new environment to clear a much larger area.
He watched as Scott abandoned the cabin cruiser
to
                        626
board the fast attack craft, which in turn sped out
to
sea to form a protective screen for its mothership,
with the beleaguered helicopter.
When the landing craft, carrying the reserve
assault
groupe came into view, scrambling nets were
thrown
over the side and the craft having served its
purpose
was left to drift with explosive charges on board.
When the sun came up there was still no sign of
any
alien craft on the radar. 'It looks like we've made
it,' Dieger observed. 'Recall Captain Tsi and the
Deta
381
force. Better dump that cocaine too.'
'Yes sir,' Pike said. 'The pleasure,s all mine.'

The end




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