Allegoria Paranoia

SUBROSA

 

 

Chapter 10

I barely saw the knife on its way to my throat.  I brought my left arm up to protect myself.  I looked into black eyes and a smiling mouth.  My right hand, still in the Jacket pocket, moved upward quickly.  I pulled the trigger twice, pumping two shots into the man's chest.  My attacker staggered back to the wall as if hit by a hammer.  All I could think of was, he's shaved his mustache.

To my amazement, Stoat rebounded from the wall and came at me again.  The gun snagged the edge of my coat pocket as I pulled it out and fired another shot.  The bullet ripped the man's right bicep.  Stoat dropped the knife but did not fall.  He was out the window and down to the roof below before I could move, my mind a chaos of adrenaline.
I turned and almost shot the two Scotland Yard men as they burst in.

"It was Stoat," I yelled.

One of the men went out the window.  The other said, "Where's your telephone?"

"On the desk," I said.

The detective called Scotland Yard and reported the attack.

"Would you like to sit down?" the detective said.

I slumped into the chair at my desk.

"In a few minutes this whole area will be surrounded by police," the man said.  "Could you describe your attacker?"

"It was Charlie Stoat," I said.  "But he shaved off his mustache.  He's tall and thin.  Wiry-looking.  He was wearing a dark brown leather Jacket, a bomber Jacket, and dark pants.  He's sallow-faced with black eyes and straight black hair fairly long."

"Is he armed?" the man asked.  "We heard three shots."

"He had a knife," I said.  "That's it on the floor."

The policeman went over by the window and picked up the knife with his handkerchief and folded the cloth around it carefully.  He came back to the desk.

"I fired the shots," I said.  I put the safety on and handed the pistol to the man.  "I shot him twice in the chest as he tried to knife me.  He was behind the door when I came in.  He didn't fall when I shot him.  I think he must have been wearing a flak Jacket or Kevlar vest under his shirt.  When he came at me again, I tried to shoot him in the chest again.  The bullet went wide.  I shot him in the right arm.  That's when he dropped the knife.  He's probably dripping blood."

I fingered the holes in my Jacket pocket.  Another blazer ruined, I thought.

"I'm sorry this happened, sir," the detective said.  "We were supposed to protect you."
"Stoat is a professional assassin," I said.  "I guess I'm lucky to be alive.  This makes twice he's had a chance at me.  He might get lucky next time."

"We'll catch him before he has another opportunity, sir," the man said.

"Maybe so," I said.

"Let me call in his name and description," the detective said.

I got up and walked toward the door as the other detective came back in.  The man walked over to talk to the one on the phone, who relayed the information to Scotland Yard.

The detective hung up the phone, turned to me and said, "The attacker must have had a van waiting for him.  We have a description of the vehicle.  Don't worry.  We'll catch him.  And for the next few days, we'll increase protection around your house."

"Thanks," I said.

"We'll have to confiscate this pistol, however," the man said.  "Is it registered?"

"Somewhere in the States probably.  It's not mine.  A friend lent it to me."

"To whom does it belong?"

"Tom Zorn, the other guy I called you about giving protection to."

"We'll need to talk to Mr. Zorn."

"Swell," I said.  "I'm sure he'd enjoy talking to you."

The detectives left after that, assuring me that I would have twenty-four-hour monitoring.

Well, great, I thought.  No more gun and Stoat running around loose.  There was nothing I could do.  Then it occurred to me there was something to be done after all.  It wasn't much, but things couldn't get much worse. I called a man I knew at the London Times and asked if they had picked up the story yet about the American C-4 plastique used in the Harrods bombing by the IRA.  The Times man checked and said they had picked it up and would run it in the Saturday edition.
I made the man an offer.

"Look, this is the deal," I said.  "I know the man who supplied the C-4 for the Harrods bombing.  I can give it to you.  It won't cost you anything except you'll owe me one, and I may need a favor some day."  And soon, I thought to myself.

"I'm interested, " the Times reporter said.  "What have you got?"

"You have your tape recorder on?"

"Yes.  It's on now."

"Okay, here's your story," I said and told him the details about Charlie Stoat.  Then I said, "You can check your files on Stoat's indictment in the States.  The new story is Scotland Yard is mounting a manhunt for Stoat.  My flat is surrounded right now by police looking for him.  He's wanted for attempted murder.  He tried to kill me today.  The police have his knife as evidence.  I shot him three Times.  Twice in the chest and once in the arm, but he was wearing a bullet-proof vest and bolted down the fire escape before two Scotland Yard detectives who were watching out for me could nab him.  He'll be wanted in the Harrods bombing as well as for trying to kill me.  I've been investigating the sources of IRA guns and explosives.  You can use my name in your story.  This is our official interview.  Any questions?"

"Whom can I contact at Scotland Yard to confirm?"

"I don't know the names of the two who've been guarding me, but you can get in touch with a man named Entwhistle at Scotland Yard.  There's also a man named Austin with the Secret Intelligence Service who can tell you about Stoat."

"If this proves out, I will owe you a favor," the Times man said.  "It'll run alongside the story we picked up from the States.  Give me your number in case I have to reach you."

I gave my telephone number, and the Times man thanked me and hung up.
It was after three o'clock.  I decided to make a call to Lloyd's of London.  I picked up the receiver and put it to my ear.  As I reached to dial the number, I stopped.  The dial tone sounded hollow, like an echo of itself.  Could somebody be listening in? I thought.  Can you hear a wiretap?  Maybe I'm just paranoid.

I thought for my own sake and for the man whose name Torsky had given me that it wasn't a good idea to call from my phone.  I ran through my mind the conversations I had had that day with Torsky and with the man at the London Times.  Torsky could take care of himself for sure.  The guy at the Times was a reporter, but still, getting killed over a story was not part of the deal.  I decided to call him.

If my phone is bugged, it won't make any difference now if I call him from here, I thought.  I dialed the man at the Times.

"How's that story going?" I asked when the man came on the line.

"I'm glad you called," the man said.  "The story's finished, but after we talked, right in the middle of my transcribing our conversation, someone phoned me about it."

"What did this person say?"

"It was an American.  He told me to back off.  Those were his words.  He tried to intimidate me."

"My phone is bugged," I said.  "I didn't know when I spoke to you before.  I'm sorry."

"Don't worry about it as far as I'm concerned," the Times man said.  "The deal's still on.  I tried to hold him on the line as long as I could to trace the call, but he rang off before we could do anything.  I was just about to call you.  Was it Stoat, do you think?"

"Maybe," I said, "or one of his buddies."

"This makes it even better," the man said.  "I'll add that part in too."

"Be careful."

"I've called Scotland Yard.  They say they're on it."

"I hope," I said and hung up.

I listened to the dead receiver for a full minute but could detect nothing unusual.  I unscrewed the receiver and speaker ends of the phone but found nothing.  There must be a tap on the line, I thought.  In any case, from now on this phone is useless.  I called Scotland Yard and told them about the wiretap, hoping that would make the buggers leave, but I had no illusions that it would.

I got up from my desk and prepared to go out to find a more secure phone.
Once outside on the steps to my house, I surveyed the area.  There was a black sedan parked in front with two men it it.  I waved and then went down to talk to them.

"My phone's bugged," I said.

"We just heard," the plainclothes detective said.  "They're tracing it now."

"I have to make some phone calls.  I think I'll go over to Paddington.  I may want to use my telephone credit card."

"You want a lift?" the detective said.

"No thanks.  I'll walk.”

The car followed me as I walked over to Paddington to the place that had the all-night fax machine.  It was near the station.  They had a business that included mailing packages, express letters, money orders, currency exchange.  And they had a credit-card phone.
I called Torsky's contact at Lloyd's of London.  The Scotland Yard men sat outside the car, watching the shop.

When I got through to Lloyd's, the man almost hung up on me.

"I could tell you about IBIC," the man said, but I have to worry about my wife and children.  Goodbye."

"Wait.  Please," I said.  "I know it's dangerous.  Believe me.  I won't use your name.  Just hear what I have to say."

The man stayed on the line. I talked just to keep the man with me. "I know IBIC is a dirty organization," I said.  "I won't tell you what or how I know.  Lloyd's of London has something on IBIC.  If I quote you, it will be anonymously."

"All right," the man said, "but don't ever call me again."  The man paused.  "I'm in the legal department.  We have a racketeering lawsuit against them.  IBIC has been smuggling arms, drugs, and gold, falsifying shipping documents.  We have underwritten their shipments.  They've filed claims for lost cargo that never existed.  These are criminals.  It's like dealing with the Mafia.  We've offered volumes of evidence on IBIC's illegal activities  to our own government and to the Justice Department of the United States, but nothing has happened."

"Is there anyone in the British government I could talk to?"

"If there is, I'm not the one to tell you," the man said.  "We have a lawsuit pending."

"I understand," I said.  "Is there anyone in the States I could call?  You wouldn't have to worry in that case."

"There's a Congressional investigation of some sort, but I have no idea who's running it," the man at Lloyd's said.  "I understand the district attorney in Manhattan is also conducting an enquiry into IBIC activities in New York."

"Anything else?"

"Nothing."

"How's your lawsuit going?"

"I can't speak of that, but I will tell you it's bloody impossible to nail them down."

"Why?"

"Well, for one thing Price-Waterhouse is doing an audit of their books here in London," the man said.

"Yes?"

"It's hard to unravel.  Their account books are in Urdu, longhand."

"Lots of luck," I said.  "Thanks for your time."  I hung up.

Urdu, I said out loud to myself, and laughed.

It was after four o'clock.  The afternoon at the shop was winding up with a flurry as local businesses got their end-of-the-day packages in the mail.  The Xerox machine was busy, and people were queued up waiting to fax documents. I turned back to the telephone and inserted my credit card.  International operator.  New York City Information.  District Attorney's office.  I could talk to somebody there before lunch. I placed a call to the number in New York City for the Manhattan D.A.'s office.  After several false starts, I finally got through to the assistant in charge of the IBIC investigation.

The man I talked to was sympathetic.  He said, "So, you're having trouble with IBIC over there too, huh.  We've been looking into allegations of fraud, criminal conspiracy, money-laundering, drug-dealing, and bribery.  Pardon my French, but what a bunch of scumbags.  They stake out our people.  They tap our phones.  I expect one of these days our investigator will end up in the East River feeding the fish.  What you got?"
"I've got arms deals financed by IBIC.  I'm looking for names, structure, methods," I said.
"That we don't got," the assistant D.A. said.  "You need to talk to Washington.  They're getting the runaround same as us, but you should talk to Rita Stern.  She’s chief investigator for Cahill's Subcommittee.  Senator Cahill's a bit pompous, but he’s a good man, and Rita's as sharp as razor blades."

He gave me a number in Washington, and I placed a call.

"Hello," a woman's voice answered.

"May I speak to Rita Stern, please?"

"Speaking."

"My name's Jack McGlashan.  I'm calling from London.  I'm writing a story on illegal arms deals involving IBIC, the International Bank of Investment and Credit."

"Yeah, right," Rita Stern said.  "The Infernal Bank of International Crooks.  What do you want to know?"

"What's IBIC up to over there?" I asked.

"I work for Senator Cahill's Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics, and International Operations.  We've been looking into the way terrorists and drug dealers get their money, weapons, and drugs.  Who gets paid off.  Who gets knocked off.  That kind of thing.  IBIC's name just kept coming up."

"That's what's happened to me," I said.  "I was looking for arms smugglers and suddenly there's IBIC.  So what exactly is it?"

"Ostensibly, it's a big international bank," Rita Stern said.  "Twenty billion dollars in assets.  Branches in sixty-nine countries.  3,500 core clients.  IBIC headquarters is in London.  You should drop in and see them.  But the real home of IBIC is Karachi, Pakistan.  That's where it started, and that's where it's operated from."

"You said ‘ostensibly.’  So what else is going on?"

"IBIC is this vast, stateless multinational corporation.  A kind of law unto itself operating beyond the restrictions of national boundaries.  And within IBIC, there's another IBIC, a kind of structure within a structure.  This inner structure has its own intelligence and enforcement branch.  It's a Black Network containing all the illegal stuff."
I listened intently.  What Rita Stern said sounded familiar.

"What kinds of illegal stuff?"

"Like laundering money for dictators and drug lords.  All the dirty money goes through the Cayman Islands branch of IBIC.  The Caymans have really lax banking laws.  IBIC in the Cayman Islands is really like a bank within a bank.  You launder the money and send the money on to clean accounts at other branches around the world."

"Who's involved?"

"In money-laundering?  IBIC's clientele is a Hall of Fame of international slimeballs.  Manuel Noriega, Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, Saddam Hussein, the Medellin Drug Cartel.  IBIC helped Noriega and Marcos loot their national treasuries.  IBIC holds the money Saddam Hussein has been skimming from Iraq's oil revenues."

"For weapons?" I said.

"For weapons, sure," Rita Stern said, "and for whatever else his little heart desires."

"Can you tell me more about how IBIC is structured."

"From what I've been able to gather for the subcommittee, IBIC has a corrupt core of middle managers.  Maybe one or two in each branch.  Maybe more in the larger offices.  These branch officers are entrepreneurs free to make their own deals as long as IBIC is making money," Rita Stern said.

I was getting more and more paranoid as Rita Stern talked.  The structure she was describing sounded just like what I had figured out about Omni Arms.

"So how does it work?" I asked.

"These IBIC people spread money around to keep everybody happy.  Here in Washington, it's been easy.  They seek out politicians known to be corruptible, and there are a bunch of them.  Millions in bribes every year.  IBIC owns a holding company that owns U.S. banks.  The holding company chairman is an unctuous old wheeler-dealer from the Johnson Administration.  When IBIC went after corrupt influence peddlers, old Bullard Knox was at the top of his list."

"What does IBIC get for its money?"

"Inaction.  Lots of looking the other way," Rita Stern said.  "Dealing with the Justice Department in this IBIC investigation has been a real trip.  I can't get anything out of Justice.  That's why I'm quitting."

"You're quitting the IBIC investigation?"

"The whole thing.  I'm quitting work for the subcommittee," Rita Stern said.  "Nothing's going to happen to IBIC, not in the Senate and not in the Justice Department.  It's either incompetence or a coverup.  I think it's an effort inside the federal government to limit the investigation.  Too many have been bought off.  I've had enough."

"Is that why you've been willing to talk to me, because you're quitting?"

"That's it," Rita Stern said and laughed.  "I don't have to worry anymore about not telling tales out of school."

"May I ask one or two more things?"

"Sure, go ahead."

"Do you know anything about IBIC financing or brokering illegal arms transactions?"

"Yeah, a little," she said.  "It was IBIC in London that financed a Pakistani arms dealer who illegally provided Hawk antiaircraft missiles to Iran during Iran-Contra.  He's doing time in a U.S. federal prison now.  The National Security Council used IBIC to funnel money for the Iran-Contra scheme.  There was no direct government-to-government connection when the Saudis gave a million dollars a month to the Nicaraguan contras.  IBIC handled the transactions.  I also know that Israeli intelligence, Mossad, has an account with IBIC when it needs to deal with the Arabs."

"Anything else about weapons?"

"That's it," she said.

"One more question.  Someone I talked to said that in terms of structure, methods, and purpose, IBIC most resembles the Mafia.  What do you think?"

"Structure, methods, purpose, and origin of IBIC lead me to another conclusion," Rita Stern said.  "I think it's got CIA written all over it."

"CIA?  What makes you think so?"

"First of all, look at how IBIC got started.  It was a little bank in Karachi in 1972.  As late as 1979 it was still nothing.  Then Saudi oil sheiks started pumping money into it.  Remember what was going on then?  The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.  Reagan was president and Bush, the former head of the CIA, was vice president.  The U.S. wanted to supply the Mujahedin rebels in Afghanistan with military equipment to fight the Soviet army.  We needed Pakistan's cooperation to slip the weapons across the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.  By the mid-1980s, the CIA Islamabad operation was one of the largest U.S. intelligence stations in the world.  The U.S. needed Pakistan.  Pakistan needed money.  The U.S. gave tacit approval to Pakistan's heroin traffic.  And it looks like the CIA lent its expertise to set up IBIC to launder drug money and help pay for weapons for the Afghan rebels."

"Are you sure?"

"No, I'm not sure because I don't have documents to prove it," she said.  "But look at the setup.  The IBIC Black Network of maybe fifteen hundred people uses sophisticated spy equipment and intelligence techniques.  They're good at creating false documents.  They have elaborate networks for running drugs and money.  Where did they learn that stuff if not from the CIA?  Before that IBIC was nothing.  Suddenly IBIC is a major player running on Saudi money and secret CIA training.  You have a better explanation?" Rita Stern concluded.

"No," I said.

"You want to talk to a former IBIC employee?  He'll tell you an interesting story," Rita Stern said.

"Sure," I said.

"The reason I ask is the man is in London," she said.

"Great.  A local call."

"If he'll talk to you."

Rita Stern gave me the phone number.  I thanked her and hung up.  Business in the shop had slackened.  I looked at my watch.  It was five o'clock.  I had been on the line to Washington for almost an hour.  My phone bill would be astronomical.
I punched in the number for the ex-IBIC employee in London.  A man answered. 

"My name is Jack McGlashan.  A woman named Rita Stern gave me your number.  She says you used to work for IBIC."

"You do not have my name?" the man asked.

"No.  I just have your number," I said.

"Good.  Who are you?" the man said.

"I'm a writer," I said.  "I'm writing about IBIC's involvement in illegal arms sales to terrorists."

"Rita Stern gave you my number?"

"Yes."

"What do you want?" the man asked.

"What was your position at IBIC?"

"I worked in the secret unit, the Black Network," the man said.

"How did you get involved with IBIC?"

"I am from Iran.  It was 1980, and I was studying at a university in the United States.  Recruiters came to me.  They spoke Farzi.  They knew all my friends.  They knew my family in Iran.  They told me of the power and influence of IBIC, and they named people I knew who had gone to work for IBIC.  They offered me money."

"So you joined," I said.

"I joined after my graduation from university."

"Then what?"

"They sent me to Pakistan for a year of indoctrination.  We had courses in psychology and government and leadership.  But later we learned espionage, lessons in electronic eavesdropping, wiretaps, planting electronic apparatus for surveillance of moving targets, burglary techniques, and methods of interrogation.  Finally, we were trained in firearms and use of plastic explosives.  The indoctrination became more and more serious.  I realized I was deeply involved in an organization I wanted nothing to do with."
It sounded just like the terrorist training camp in the Libyan desert in 1980.  It also sounded like the CIA.  My paranoia was running wild again, but I spoke calmly, "So what did you do?"

"I went along with it," he said.  "I became a cog in the machine of the IBIC Black Network.  Managers in IBIC would give us our orders.  We were well paid."

"What sorts of things did you do for them?"

"I paid bribes to customs officials, police, judges, and elected officials.  We unloaded cargo, usually giant containers.  We didn't know exactly what we were handling, but in general we knew it was heroin or cocaine, gold, currency, and armaments."

"Is there a CIA connection to the Black Network?"

"I cannot say I knew this directly," the ex-IBIC man said.  "Often Americans would appear.  When we needed a plane, perhaps an unmarked 707 would arrive with an American pilot in plain clothes, no uniform.  SomeTimes the plane would say Saint Lucia Airlines or Southeast Airlines, which the knowing ones among us said were CIA proprietary companies.  When we needed forged documents, these always appeared.  It was rumored they were made up by CIA engravers."

"Anything else?  Arms and explosives to terrorists?"

"I was not privy to such knowledge," the man said.

"How did you finally get out of IBIC?" I asked.

"I got sick," the man said.  "I am dying of cancer.  They let me go."

"I'm sorry you're sick," I said lamely.

"It is God's will," the man said.

"Thanks for your help," I said.  "Good luck," I added, but the man had hung up.
I decided to call Zorn.  I punched in the number.  There was no answer.  The number didn't even ring.  There was nothing but silence.  Where the hell was Zorn?  Why wouldn't the number ring?  I left the shop fast.  I had to make sure Zorn was all right.
One of the Scotland Yard men was outside the shop.  The other was in the black sedan parked at the curb.

I spoke to the one in the glenplaid raincoat.  "Do you have a man on Zorn over at St. Katharine's boat basin?"

"I think so, sir," the detective said.  "What's the matter?"

"I can't raise Zorn on the phone.  The number won't even ring."

"I'll make a call," the detective offered.

"I'm going over there," I said.

"We'll give you a lift," the detective said.

"Thanks.  I'll take it."

We got in the car with the other man from Scotland Yard and drove through dense London traffic to Tower Bridge and St. Katherine's Dock.  It took us about an hour.
When we walked down to the boat dock, policemen were already there.  I hurried out on to the dock to Zorn's boat slip.  The boat was gone.  Zorn had disappeared. I turned to the glenplaid detective who had been so helpful.

"I thought you had him covered.  Where's Zorn's boat?  Where's Zorn?"

The detective talked to the other policemen on the scene and then turned to me.
"Mr. Zorn was supposed to be monitored starting this afternoon, but when the team arrived, the boat and Mr. Zorn were gone.  They went back to headquarters and made a report to that effect, but our team was not informed."

I was sunk in worry.  My worry turned to anger.  Getting mad won't do any good, I thought.  The only thing now is to find Zorn.

"If he's on his boat, he can only have gone up or down the Thames, right?" I said.

"That's true unless he put in at another dock," the detective said.

"Do you have boats that could track him?  He may have been kidnapped."

"We have police boats," the detective said.  "We'll stage a search."

"Any word on Stoat?"

"Not yet, sir," the detective said, "but we'll find him."

I was not reassured.  Maybe Stoat or his men had taken Zorn and his boat.
I sighed.  "Do everything you can.  If Stoat's got Zorn, Zorn's as good as dead."

I thought about the reams of printout paper on Omni Arms.  Oh shit, I thought.  This couldn't be worse.  Yeah, it could.  They could find Zorn's body floating in the river.
I wanted to be alone, but that was impossible.  I was stuck with the Scotland Yard policemen.  To ditch them would be stupid.  Suddenly, I wanted to talk to Angelique.  I had told her I would call.  She would be off work tonight.  I went to a phone at the hotel above the dock and called her.  The Scotland Yard detective stood discreetly at a distance.
The number rang.

"Âllo?" Angelique answered.

"It's me.  Jack."

"Yes, Jacques."

"Zorn's disappeared.  His boat's gone.  I'm going out of my mind."

"The police?" Angelique asked.

"They're looking for him," I said.  "I'd like to see you, but it's dangerous.  That man Stoat tried to kill me today."

"Are you all right?"

"I'm fine."

"Why don't you come here."

"I better not.  Stoat's still on the loose.  I don't want to get you involved."

"I refuse to live my life in fear of terrorists.  You must come for dinner.  I insist.  We can talk then."

"Are you sure?"

"I am sure."

"All right.  How do I get to your place?"

She gave me directions.

"I'll see you at seven, okay?" I said.

"I'll see you then," Angelique said.

Angelique's flat was in Bloomsbury, near the hospital and not far from the university and the British Museum.  I took a taxi.  The Scotland Yard contingent followed behind. Angelique's building was a nice place, substantial and well kept up.    This isn't where a nurse lives, my mind said.  It’s is too expensive.  And then I remembered that her family was rich. I took the lift to the third floor.  As I knocked on the door of Angelique’s flat, I wondered what she would look like, how she would act, in her own place. The door opened.  Angelique was wearing her hair pulled back in a French braid down her back.  She wore a navy-blue cotton shirt and white sailor dungarees, and she was barefoot.

"Âllo, Jacques," she said.

"God, you look terrific."

"Thank you," she said and touched my face with her hand. 

Her place was vast and bright.  The ceilings were high, and the walls were painted a flat brilliant white.  Framed paintings and posters covered the walls.  Books were piled everywhere.

"Do you like what you see?" she asked.

"Oh yeah.  This is really great.  Is all this stuff yours?"

"The flat is furnished," Angelique said, "but the pictures are mine, to make me feel at home."

"It's nice.  I don't know what I expected," I said and looked around again as I walked to the center of the room.  I looked at all the books.  "You read a lot?"

"Yes.  I do read a lot."

There were flowers on the tables, flowering plants and cut flowers.  From the living room I moved to the kitchen, which had big windows looking down at a pretty back garden.  The evening sun shone through the windows.  I looked back into the living room.  I could see the slanted rays shining on the buildings across the square.

"Are you all right, Jacques?" Angelique asked.

"I'm sorry," I said.  "I'm wandering around like a zombie."

"Would you like some wine?  I also have whisky."

"Wine would be good, thanks."

She opened a bottle of white wine.  We sat at an old oak table.  Sunlight filtered through the windows.

"Do you want to tell me what happened?" Angelique asked.

I sat with my elbows on the table and drank wine.

"Zorn's gone.  He and his boat have disappeared.  He cracked open the Omni Arms computer and printed out all of Price's records.  Now he's gone.  It's all gone.  Price's hatchet man Stoat tried to kill me today.  He slipped into my apartment from the fire escape and was waiting for me.  I had Zorn's gun.  I shot him, but he got away.  As far as I know, he's still on the loose.  Two detectives from Scotland Yard are outside your place now."

"They are outside to protect you?" she said.

"Yeah.  I shouldn't have come here.  This is all my fault.  If I hadn't dragged Zorn into this, he'd be all right.  He gave me his gun, and he's totally unprotected."

Angelique didn't say anything.  She just let me talk.

"You were right," I said.  "I am a dangerous man.  Zorn may be dead because of me."
I put my hands on the table.  Angelique reached across the table and put her right hand on top of my left.  I couldn't look her in the face. 

"The police will find him," Angelique said quietly.  "He may still be all right."

"Maybe."

"He wanted to help you.  It was his free choice," Angelique said.

"I know, but it's still my fault.  I've been treating this as if it were some kind of game.  If anybody gets hurt because of my stupidity, it should be me."

"Perhaps you should go and see this man Price and talk to him," Angelique said.

"Talk to Price?  And say what?  'Please give my friend back, and we won't bother you any more'?"

"Why not?" Angelique said.

"Price is scum.  Why should he listen to me?"

"You have evidence of his wrongdoing," Angelique said.

"If he's got Zorn, he's got all the evidence.  There was only one copy of the records, plus Zorn's computer disk."

"Does Price know that?" Angelique asked.

"You're right.  He can't know that for sure.  It might work.  You're pretty smart."

"For a woman," Angelique said.

"I didn't say that.  I wasn't even thinking that."

Angelique smiled.  "There may be hope for you, Jacques."

Angelique refilled our glasses, and we drank the wine.

"If I don't hear from Zorn by tomorrow, I'll call Price."

"Good," she said.  "Now, shall we have dinner?"

"I couldn't eat.  I'm too worked up.  I should go."

"You must eat," Angelique stated.  "And where would you go?  You said your flat is not safe."

"I'll be fine."

"I know.  You can take care of yourself," she said.

"Right," I said and laughed.  "You win.  What's for dinner?"

"It is broiled salmon with dill sauce.  I have also made a salad, and I bought a baguette of bread."

"Sounds great.  Do you need any help?"

"No.  You sit and talk to me while I work."

I sat at the table and watched Angelique fix the meal.  I took a sip of the greenish-white wine I had been swilling unconsciously.

"This is great wine," he said to Angelique.

"It is a Chablis," she said.

"A real Chablis?  How about that," he said.  "What do I taste in it?"

Angelique was putting the salmon on a grilling tray.

"I don't know," she said.  "Perhaps the glass is dirty."

"Not in this house.  The glass is pristine.  No.  It's something in the flavor."

"It's flint."

"What?"

"It's the poor, flinty soil north of Burgundy.  It gives the wine that taste," Angelique said.

I took another sip of wine.

"So that's what flint tastes like," he said.  "Must be like eating an arrowhead."

"What did you say?"

"Nothing.  It shows the difference between a Stone Age hunter-gatherer culture and an

agricultural society," I said.

"What are you talking about?" Angelique said. 

"Stone Age people made weapons out of flint.  Agricultural people planted vines in the

flinty soil and made wine.  Civilization."

"I think you must be getting drunk," she said.

"Probably," I said.

"The food will be ready soon."

"Good.  Do you have another bottle of this stuff?"

"Yes.  Would you open it, please?  It's over there."

I opened the other bottle of wine.  Angelique served the salmon and put a fresh sprig of dill on top of the dill sauce she had made.  She put the salad on small plates and placed the bread in a wicker basket.

"Where'd you get fresh dill?" I asked.

"In the garden in back."

We sat down, and I poured wine to refill our glasses.  I raised my glass to hers.

"Cheers," I said.  "And thank you."

"It's nothing," she said.  "Now eat."

We ate.

"This is great," I said.  "You're a great cook.  Do you always eat this well?"

"Yes, when I have someone to share a meal with."

This shut me up.  We sat in silence for several minutes.

"Are you going out with anybody now?" I asked eventually.

"Yes," she said.

"Yes?" I said.

"With you."

"Oh."

I drank the good wine and ate the salmon.

"Why aren't you married?" I asked.

"You sound like my mother," Angelique said.  "I always answer her that I am not married because I do not know the person to marry."

"Ah," I said.

"Why?  Are you making a proposal?" she said.

"No.  Should I?"

"No," she said.  "The answer would be no."

"Right."

I broke off a piece of bread and gave it to Angelique, then broke a piece for myself.  We ate the bread and salad.

"Why didn't you become a doctor instead of a nurse?" I asked.

"I like being a nurse," Angelique said.  "I wouldn't like being a doctor."

"Oh."

"You sound like my father."

"I could be your father.  I'm old enough."

"I know," she laughed.  "My father had very strong opinions.  He would never have approved of you."

"Smart man," I said.  "Do you miss him?"

"Yes," she said and paused.  "He was strong and--what is the word?--driven.  I didn't always like him, but he was a force.  I cannot believe he is dead."

"Were you close?"

"We were alike.  He would dictate, but it did him no good.  I always do what I want."

"I'm sure.”

"May I ask you something?" she said.

"Yes."

"Do you miss your little boy?"

"Yes," I said.

"You should go home to him," she said.

"I know.  I will as soon as all this is over with," I said.  "Why do you say that?"

"My father was always very busy.  I never saw him.  He was surprised to discover I had grown up," she said.  "You will be surprised too unless you spend time with him.  He won't wait."

"I've been thinking about that.  I don't know what to do."

"Yes, you do," she said.

"You're right.  I do," I said.  "I'm surprised that you thought of him."

Angelique said nothing in reply.  We finished the wine.

"Would you like coffee?" she asked.

"No.  I would like to make love to you," I said.

"Yes.  I would like that too."

Angelique stood and took me by the hand into her bedroom.  The room was dark.  She unbuttoned my shirt, and I took it off.  She pulled her shirt over her head and threw it on a chair and then took off her white dungarees.  I looked at her in the semi-darkness.  She was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen.  I put my arms around her waist and kissed her neck.  She touched my face with her hands.

"You smell terrific.  Like dill," I said and kissed her mouth.

"Thank you," she said.  "Take off the rest of your clothes and come to bed."

We made love for a long time.

The next morning, I awoke early.  Sunlight slanted through the closed shutters.  It looked like another beautiful day.  I lay there quietly for a while.  Angelique lay on her side, turned toward me with her forehead against my upper arm.  My mind began to work, and I felt fidgety.  I stopped my unease by sitting up on my left elbow to watch her.  She didn't wake up when I moved.  She looks like a little kid when she's asleep, I thought.  Her hair was all unbraided and lay across her shoulder and down her back.  I wondered what the future held for us.  It wasn't a subject I wanted to consider, so I got up and clumped into the bathroom.  I brushed my teeth by putting toothpaste on my finger and found a plastic razor and lathered my face with soap.  I found a towel in the linen closet and took a long shower.  When I came out Angelique was awake.

"Why don't you come back to bed," she said, "and we can make love."

"I just took a shower," I said.

"Good.  Then you will be nice and clean," she said.

She reached out and pulled me by the hand into the bed.  Then she whispered something in French and laughed.

I looked at her and smiled.  "That's not very lady-like."

"I have a foul mind," she said.

We made love.  Later, as I half dozed, Angelique got up and went into the bathroom.
She came back and woke me up.

"Look what a mess you have made," she said.  "There is water everywhere, the sink is full of bits of hair from your face, and you left your towel on the floor."

As she said the last words, she let fly with the sopping wet towel, hitting me in the chest with it.

"Good shot," I said.

"Did your mother not teach you to pick up after yourself?" she said.

"I always pick up after myself.  Eventually."

"You are a slob, Jacques."

"Good English slang, Angel.  Well done."

She laughed. "I will make breakfast for us," she said.

She put on the clothes from the night before and left the bedroom. By the time I got dressed, the smell of coffee filled the apartment.  Angelique was slicing bread and heating up croissants.  She also had quartered a canteloupe.

"You really know how to live," I said.

"Thank you.  Perhaps you will take a lesson," Angelique said.  "Sit down and drink some coffee."

Angelique handed me a mug, and I sat at the table.  Then she brought in the canteloupe, croissants, and bread, along with butter and marmalade, and sat down.
She began eating her canteloupe.  About halfway through it, she looked up.

"You're not eating," she said.  "Are you not hungry?"

"I'm looking at you.”

Her hair was long and loose, parted in the middle.

"You look like a little girl."

She stuck out her tongue at me.

"I don't want anything to happen to you," I said.

"One has to live one's life.  Eat your canteloupe."

We ate breakfast and had another cup of coffee together.  Then I got up to prepare to leave.

"Are you working tonight?" I asked.

"No.  I'm not working until tomorrow night," she said.

"Do you want to have dinner?  I'll take you out to a restaurant."

"I would rather eat at home.  I like my own cooking best," she said.  "Why don't you come over here, and I'll make something for us."

"I feel like it ought to be my turn," I said.

"That is nonsense," she said. "You come here at seven, and we will have dinner."

"Thanks," I said and gave her a hug.  I kissed her on the part of her dark brown hair.  "I'm going home now.  I've got to find Price's private office number in case he's at Omni Arms.  Maybe he works Saturdays.  And I've got to find out if Scotland Yard has found Zorn."

"Until this evening," she said and kissed me on the mouth.

When I went outside, two new Scotland Yard men were parked across the street bordering the square.  I walked over to the car.

"I'm going home," I said.

"You want a lift?" the driver said.

"Sure," I replied.

I got into the back seat.  I didn't want to be riding.  I really wanted to walk.  Police surveillance was changing my habits.  I liked my habits and began to resent the intrusion on my privacy, but my head told me to put up with it.

"Any word on Zorn?" I asked.

"Not yet," the policeman said.

"How about Stoat?"

"We're still looking."

I wondered about Zorn.  I wonder if I could find Zorn's local contact in the Company? I thought.  There must be a way to get in touch with your local CIA representative.  Maybe Torsky would know.

Finally I said, "Do you know if your men found the tap on my phone?"

"It's been removed," the policeman in the passenger seat said.

"Where was it?"

"That's all I know," the man said.  "You'll have to ask Lieutenant Entwhistle if you want to know more."

When I got to my flat, I thanked the Scotland Yard men for the ride and went in to check my mail.  Not much there.  I knocked on my landlady's door.  Mrs. Gardiner didn't answer.  I went around back to see if she was in the garden.  Mrs. Gardiner was on her knees, weeding.

"Hi, Mrs. G.  How're you doing?" I said.

"Good morning, young man," Mrs. Gardiner said, rising with some difficulty to greet me.
She was wearing foam rubber kneepads. "My knees aren't what they used to be, I'm afraid," she said, and then she looked at me carefully.  "Have you read the Times this morning?"

"No.  I'm afraid not.”

"You seem to have achieved a degree of notoriety.  Scotland Yard was all over the neighborhood yesterday.  They interviewed me about you.  We're not used to gunshots around here, you know."

"I'm sorry about that," I said.  "It must have been upsetting."

"It's really quite exciting," Mrs. Gardiner said.  "Have they caught that terrible man yet?"

"Stoat?  No, not yet."

"I had no idea you were writing about such dangerous things.  Terrorists.  Bombings.  I just don't believe it," she said.  "And to have a brutal assassin attempt to murder someone in this house, it's beyond comprehension."

"Maybe I should stick to writing for Horticulture magazine.  It's safer," I said.  "I really am sorry to have caused so much commotion."

"Don't be silly," she said.  "I'm just glad you're all right.  And I'm proud of you for writing about these IRA people.  Their bombings are barbaric.  Oh, I almost forgot.  My memory is terrible these days.  I received a package in the post yesterday."

"It's my article about terrorists.  I knew I could trust you, Mrs. G., so I sent it to you."
"Thank you, Jack.  Do you want it back now?  I'll get it."

"If it's no trouble, I'd appreciate it."

We went inside, and Mrs. Gardiner got me the package. When I went upstairs, I opened the door slowly; there was no one inside. I sat down at my desk and looked through the Omni Arms telephone directory. I wrote Price's private number in my notebook, but I didn't dial it immediately.  I called Torsky's private number instead.  Torsky wasn't in, a man said, but he would relay the message.  I sat thinking about what to say to Price if I got through to him.  The phone rang.

"Hello," I said.

"Is this a secure line?"

It was Torsky.

"Scotland Yard says so."

"You got the stuff?" Torsky said.

"Zorn's disappeared.  The stuff's gone," I said.

"That's what I get for dealing with amateurs," Torsky said.

"So, help me find Zorn."

"What do you want?" Torsky said.

"Do you know how I can get in touch with Zorn's Company representative?"

"You mean the Company?  Probably.  But I need to be able to deal.  I want the stuff.  What do I have to trade?  They won't give it out of the kindness of their hearts."

"I see what you mean," I said.  "I can't think of anything to trade."

"I'll work on it," Torsky said.

"Thanks.  I may be gone for a while.  I'm going to see Price about Zorn."

"You're out of your mind," Torsky said.

"Maybe.  We'll see.  Let me know what you find out."

"Sure.  If you're still around," Torsky said and hung up.

I sat with his my ear to the dead phone.  Nothing but silence.  I hoped the line wasn't tapped.  It was hard to believe anybody these days, even Scotland Yard.  I got up from my desk and walked to the front windows.  The canal was beautiful.  I looked for Thad's narrow boat.  It was gone.  He must be taking sightseers on a tour of the Regent's Canal, I thought. I returned to my desk and made the call to Price.  The telephone only rang once.

"Hello," said a voice in a flat nasal lockjaw accent that sounded to me like Fifties Andover and Yale.

"Price?"

"Who is this?"

"My name is McGlashan."

There was a slight pause at the other end of the line.

"I don't know any McGlashan.  How did you get this number?"

"It doesn't matter," I said.  "A friend of mine, Tom Zorn, has disappeared.  I think Stoat or one of your other gorillas took him."

"I don't have to put up with your harassment.  Goodbye."

I spoke quickly before the man could hang up.  "I have your secret records, the ones you keep in code, of all your illegal arms deals.  I've got them all decoded, everything you've been doing."

"That's ridiculous," Price said, but he didn't hang up.

"I think we ought to meet."

"Who are you?" Price said.

"I'm a writer.”

"If you want an interview to clear this up, I might do that.  I don't want you writing lies about me.  The libel laws in England are quite strict.  When would you like the interview?"

"Half an hour.  In your office," I said and hung up.

I went outside and told my escort I was going to Omni Arms.
"Do you want me to get a cab?" I said.

"If you do, we'll just have to follow you.  Get in," the policeman at the wheel said.

"I appreciate your giving me protection.  I'll be glad when somebody puts Stoat in the bag."

My Scotland Yard protectors drove me to the Omni Arms office building.  The city was deserted at noon on a July Saturday.  The policemen accompanied me up to the spacious offices of Omni Arms headquarters.  The main office door was unlocked.  We entered and went down a wide corridor to Price's corner office.  The policemen waited outside as I went in through an empty secretary's office and then through a mahogany door into Price's office.

Edmund Colfax Price was in his office alone.  He rose from his big desk and came around to meet me.  Price seemed automatically to start to shake my hand but then changed his mind.  We sized each other up.  I could see that Price didn't think much of me.  For my part, I was interested to meet Price.  The man was tall and lean, about six feet four.  He was wearing an impeccably cut dark pinstripe suit and dark blue dotted silk tie.  He had a long face and long hands.  His hair was parted at the side and a little slick, dark brown with no gray in it.

"Nice suit" was the first thing I said.  "Nice office too.  Bigger than your manager Hale Wattle's."

"You've been in Hale Wattle's office?"

"You know I have," I said.  "Is your office bigger than Sam Cody's?"

"No.  What do you want?" Price said.

"Pretty good preppy accent for a scholarship kid from New Jersey," I said.

"Do you specialize in being obnoxious, Mr. McGlashan?" Price said.

"You supplied the C-4 plastique that blew up Harrods," I said.  "Terrorists have used the C-4 you sold Qaddafi to blow up planes, airports, and embassies all over Europe and the Middle East.  And you've been selling arms illegally to countries on the proscribed list."

"You're making this up," Price said.

"Your hired thugs including Charlie Stoat have broken into my apartment, killed my cat, and tried to kill me.  Now I think you've kidnapped a friend of mine, Tom Zorn."

"Really, I don't know anything about this.  I'm in the legitimate business of selling arms to countries that have the legal right to buy them.  As for this fellow Stoat, I don't know him," Price said.

"I've caught you in a lie, ­Mr. Price," I said.  "I know for a fact that Stoat worked for you in Turkey and the Middle East when you were in the CIA."

"All right," Price said.  "I won't deny it.  Stoat was on contract to the CIA.  He worked for me.  It's something I'm not supposed to admit.  I took an oath to keep CIA information secret.  I haven't seen Charlie Stoat for years, and I wasn't in on his deal with Qaddafi."
"You're very cool," I said.  "And convincing.  I would certainly believe you if I didn't know better."

"Get to the point," Price said.  "I have work to do."

"I want Zorn released unharmed.  If you see to it, I'll turn over your records to you," I said.

"I don't know anything about this man Zorn, nor do I have any secret records.  You are either a fool or a paranoid.  This is all a delusion," Price said.

"Afraid not.  It's all real.  Consider my offer, Price.  Here's my number, in case the guys who tapped my phone forgot to give it to you.  Oh, one question before I leave.  Is the money worth all the people who've died because of you?"

"I think you'd better leave, McGlashan.  Your presence is becoming annoying," Price said.

"Call me when you decide," I said and went out the door.

When I came out of the office, I was joined by the two Scotland Yard policemen.

"How did it go?" one asked.

"You know about Price and Omni Arms?"

"It's in the report you gave at headquarters."

"I think his men took Zorn.  He thinks I have damaging information on him."

I sat slumped in the back of the police sedan all the way back to my flat.  Maybe Price would go berserk over what I told him.  I had wanted some kind of genuine confrontation with Price, a real showdown.  But Price was bulletproof.  There's nobody home, I thought.  Price's soul has vacated the premises.

We pulled up to my house, and I got out.  Two men approached me from across the street.  The policemen were out of the car like a shot.  It was at that point that I realized both policemen were armed.  Their pistols were leveled at the two men crossing the street.
One of the men flashed an I.D. folder as he came across to the car.  Both men wore lightweight, baggy, summer business suits and striped ties.  They were obviously Americans.

"My name is Frank Boylan," he said, flashing the I.D. folder at the nearest police officer.
"U.S. Embassy," the policeman read.

"We're here to talk to McGlashan," the one with the badge said.  "He's got to come with us.  Your protection will no longer be necessary."

"Our orders are to stick with him," the policeman who read the I.D. said.

"Your orders are cancelled," Boylan said, as he handed the policeman an official-looking letter.

The policeman showed it to his partner and me.

"It's from Lieutenant Entwhistle," the first policeman said.  "It's from headquarters, and it's his signature.  Let me call in to make sure.  Meanwhile Mr. McGlashan stays here."

The policeman called headquarters at New Scotland Yard.  He emerged from the car looking upset.

"It's true," he said.  "We're not needed.  They say he's all yours."

"This is bullshit," I said.  "I'm not going with these guys.  They're CIA."

"Apparently, they have full authority," the policeman said.  "We're not to interfere."

I turned to the Americans and said, "Just tell me who sent you."

"We're not permitted to say," the lead man said.

"Who sent you?" I yelled.

The two men huddled for a minute at the curb.  I thought they were trying to decide whether they could grab me on the street and drag me away by force.  I estimated my chances of running or resisting.  They came back to the car.

"Mr. McGlashan, we need to talk to you about your friend Thomas Zorn," the lead man said.

"Great.  Who gave you the word?" I said.  "You give me the right name, and maybe I'll go with you."

"We don't have a name to give you," the lead man said.

And the other one stuck a gun up against my ribs.  I made a decision.

"This one's got a gun on me," I said to the two men from Scotland Yard.  "I'm not going with them.  I want you to understand that.  If I go with them, they'll try to kill me.  So, if they're going to kill me, they're going to have to do it right here in the street."
I said this as loud as I could.  I kept on shouting.  The street rang with the sound of my voice.  The two Scotland Yard policemen still had their guns out.  One looked at the other, but the other didn't look at him.  He looked right at the man with the gun in my back and pointed his revolver.  "Despite the orders contained in the letter, I think you had better put that gun away and back up a few steps.  I'm an officer of the law, and I'm not going to stand here and witness an abduction.  Now move."

The man moved slowly away from me and holstered the gun under his left arm.  The other one backed up a pace and said, "This is going to have serious diplomatic repercussions."

"Leave now," the policeman said.

They walked across the street to their car and drove away.

"That was close," I said.

"I'll be up to my ears in explanations and official reviews," the policeman said.

"You did the right thing," his partner said.  "Those blokes were serious trouble."

"Thanks a lot.  I think you just saved my life," I said.  "I'm sorry to cause a problem."

"It's our job."

"You leaving now?" I asked.

"As I said, I have to file a report.  I'll call it in and put it in writing later.  I'll recommend someone call the American Embassy and straighten those fellows out.  I'll also say we'd better keep an eye on you because Stoat isn't the only one out to get you."

"That's great," I said.  "You want to come in for some coffee?"

"Maybe later," the policeman said.

"I'll go on up then," I said.