Allegoria Paranoia




Chapter 14

When I woke up, I didn't know where he was.  I rubbed my face and eyes with my hands and looked around the room.  I'm still at the Times, I realized, rubbing the stubble on my chin.  I got up from the couch and wandered  into the newsroom.  A young man in a cardigan sweater and tie came up to me. 

"That was nice work."

"What's that?" I asked.

"The stories you wrote about Omni Arms and IBIC."

"Thanks," I said.  "Do you have copies of yesterday's and today's Times?  I haven't had a chance to read them."

"Yes.  I'll get you copies.  Would you like some tea?"

"Sure.  Is there a washroom around here?"

"Down that hall," the young man said, pointing.

I went out to the washroom and then came back to the newsroom.  The young man had copies of the papers and a cup of tea.

"Thanks."  I sipped the tea and glanced at the headlines.  "I don't suppose Gordon Bennett is around."

"No.  He won't be in until this afternoon."

"Did he leave a computer printout and some computer disks for me?  They may be in your safe."

"I'll check."  The young man went into one of the offices.

I read the papers.  My stories had been printed just as I wrote them.  I looked at the story Gordon Bennett wrote about his abduction by the two hoods and Shilling's driver.  The connections to IBIC were all there, and Gordon's style was tighter than my own, I had to admit.  Way to go, Gordon, I thought.

Then I read about Sam Cody's press conference at Omni Arms.  Cody denied any illegal arms deals.  He said there was no inappropriate connection to IBIC and called the Times' stories irresponsible and false.  What would you expect him to say?  I asked myself.
The young man returned to say that I could have the printout and computer disks from the safe.  All I had to do was sign for them. I folded the papers, retrieved the printout and disks, and in a few minutes I was out on the street headed for my wrecked apartment.

When I got to the house, I checked the mail.  Nothing special, I thought, and climbed the stairs to my flat.  I opened the door to discover that the mess had not cleaned itself up since I left the day before.  I threw off my clothes and went into the bathroom for a shave and shower, and then listlessly ate a bowl of cereal.  I felt stale and dull.

For the rest of the morning, I cleaned up the apartment and chucked all the stuff that was broken.  Then I went down to Mrs. Gardiner's flat to call the telephone company to repair my phone line.  Mrs. Gardiner told me all about her interview with the police and everything that had been in the Times by and about me for the previous two days.  I tried to look as if I were listening.

"I don't know what the world is coming to," Mrs. Gardiner said.  "Why, just the other week the IRA killed a nun and three policemen in an explosion in Northern Ireland.  When is it all going to stop?"

"I think it'll stop when governments clamp down on the manufacture and sale of weapons and explosives," I said.  "Otherwise, it's going to go on and on."

As I walked back upstairs, I thought about what Mrs. Gardiner said about the dead nun and policemen and the IRA men who learned their trade in the Libyan desert.  I was sick of terrorists and arms dealers.

In the afternoon I went out to buy a new computer, monitor, and printer.  I wasn't satisfied with the equipment or the deal at the first place I went, so I had to go to another, where I got what I wanted.  My wrecked computer wasn't insured.  I put the purchase on a credit card and bought a policy through the store guaranteeing replacement under even the most improbable circumstances.  For good measure, I added to my debt by buying a new, blue wool blazer.  Now at last I felt as if I were getting my life back to normal.
I took my purchases back to the flat in a taxi, and the driver courteously offered to help carry my stuff upstairs.  I gave him a big tip.  The rest of the afternoon I spent hooking up the new machines.

The telephone had been fixed, and at six o'clock I sat down at my desk and called Angelique.

"Âllo," she answered.

"Hi.  This is Jack.  I'm just calling to let you know I'm still alive."

"I'm glad to hear that.  It is odd to read in the newspaper about the adventures of one's friends.  Are you a hero?"

"No.  Not unless it's heroic to get stuffed into the trunk of a car,"  I said.

"Are you all right?"

"I'm fine.  When can I see you?"

"I won't be working Friday night.  Would you like to come over for dinner?"

"Sure.  But it's my treat."

"Don't be absurd.  What would you like to eat?"

"Surprise me."  Then I added, "Wear your hair down and pulled back with a comb.  That will give me something to think about till Friday."

"I am an object of fantasy?"


"Thank you."

"I'll see you Friday."

"Yes.  Goodbye, Jacques."

My heart was pounding when I hung up the phone.  Nothing changes, I thought.  It's the same as when I was seventeen.  You're a fool, my mind said back to me.  When are you going to grow up?  Maybe when I'm dead, I said back.  Nobody ever grows up.  Maturity just means you died inside. 

I got up from the desk.  I washed my face and put on the new blazer jacket.  I decided it was time to eat, and I wanted a pint of beer.  Maybe I'll go over to Notting Hill and see how Eoin is doing, I thought.  Yeah, that's what I'll do. When I walked into the pub, Eoin Cogan actually jumped.

"What's the matter, Eoin?  You look like you just laid a square egg."

"It's not funny, Yank."

I laughed.  "It's funny to me."

"What're you doing here?"

"I felt like talking to you."

"What'll you have?"

"Draw me a beer.  And give me a shot of your best Irish whisky."

"A Halstons and a Bushmills comin' up."

Eoin drew two long pints, fastidiously topping each one off, and then poured two doubles of Bushmills.

"You going to drink with me?" I asked.


"You'll get fired.  This isn't Ireland, you know."

"I own the joint.  There's no one to fire me but myself."

"How's it going?"

"Only fair," Eoin said.  "I see that you're a celebrity."  Eoin reached under the bar and pulled out a copy of one of the tabloids with my picture on the front page, pushing the flat of my hand into the face of a reporter.  "You'll never be a politician treating the press that way."

I laughed.  "You're right about that.  What does it say?"

"It says you found the man who sold the explosives the IRA have been using.  And that you fingered Omni Arms and IBIC for selling illegal arms.  You're famous."

"Yeah, well."  I took a sip of the Bushmills and chased it with a long swallow of the good beer.  "So, what's got you down?"

"A better question is what brings you here?"

"Like I said, I wanted to see you."

"What do you want?"

"This time I don't want anything."

Eoin appeared less wary.  "All right.  Let's drink then."

"What shall we drink to?" I asked.

"Let's drink to a long life."

"To a long life," I said, and we clinked glasses and downed a long swallow of beer.

"So, what's wrong?"  I asked.

"I've been examining my life."

"No wonder you're depressed."

"I'm forty-two years old," Eoin said.  "I own a good business in a country I hate."

"Why don't you sell out and go home?"

"I can't stand to do that."

"Why not?"

"It's the inertia.  I'd be on the dole in a week."

"I'd like to go to Ireland."

"You didn't grow up there."

"No.  You're right about that.  I grew up in Boston.  I'm never going back."

"I got out.  When I came to London, I put my mind to it.  I stayed sober and made money attending to business.  Now I own this pub."

"That's good."

"You don't know," Eoin said and tried a sip of his Bushmills.  "I got involved with the liberation movement.  Some of the boys from Meath.  They're all in it, the ones from there.  It's part of the blood.  This Stoat business has made me think."  Eoin leaned over the bar and spoke softly.  "The English are trying to move closer to the Irish Republic, giving them a say in negotiations about Northern Ireland.  The IRA are stepping up their bombings.  They're afraid they'll be left out if the English and the Irish Republicans get together.  It's what should happen, but the IRA are going to kill people to drive a wedge between them."  Eoin drank his beer.  "It makes me sick to think about."

"What's to be done?"

"There's nothing to be done.  I've got a son seven years old.  If he says in school what his da' tells him, he gets beat up.  I can see what will happen.  Either he becomes an outcast and a hoodlum, or he becomes like the English kids, and I'll never be able to talk to him again."

"What are you going to do?"

"I'm going to emigrate."

"Where will you go?"

"I've got a brother in Charleston, South Carolina."

"You going there?"

"Maybe.  Or maybe I’ll go to New Orleans."

"Try Seattle.  You'll like the weather better."

"Where's Seattle?"

"It's in Washington.  Its rains a lot."

"Seattle.  I'll look into it," Eoin said and drank his beer.

"Or Vancouver.  Nice city.  Canada takes care of its people better than the States."
"I've thought about Vancouver.  Maybe I'll move to Australia.  Or New Zealand."

"I'd like to go there."


"New Zealand."

"Yeah.  But it's mostly English.  Pretty staid."

"Think about Seattle.  If you're going to have a mid-life crisis, you might as well end up someplace good."

"My wife would never go that far away."


"Anywhere.  She goes back to see her mother in Cork about eight times a year."

"Take her mother along."

"That's a thought."

We drank our whiskey and swallowed long gulps of beer.

"She's a nice old lady.  I like her pretty well."


"My mother-in-law."

"You like her?"

"Yeah.  She's easy to get along with.  Easier than my own mother was, God rest her soul." 

Eoin drank to his mother.  "So what are you going to do?"

"I don't know.  Maybe go back to the States for a while.  I don't really want to go, except to see my son.  He’s growing up.  I don't know.  A kid needs a father.  I've been playing games, doing whatever I want."  I took a sip of beer and stared at the bottles behind the bar.

"Could you bring him over here to live with you?" Eoin asked.

"Not the way I'm living now.  It wouldn't work.  My life is too unstable.  Besides, his mother would never allow it.  I'm going to have to make some changes in my life."

"Where does he live?" Eoin asked.

"Buffalo, New York."

"You think you'll go back there to live?"

"I couldn't do it.  It's too bleak.  Maybe I could get joint custody, and he could be with me part of the year.  I don't know, though.  That would be terrible for him, leaving his friends, being uprooted part of the year.  I'll have to think about it.  I've got to do something," I went on, talking mostly to myself.

We finished the whisky and beer.

Then I said, "Have you learned anything about the rose tattoo?"

Eoin shook his head.  "No.  I haven't asked.  The boys from Meath have stopped coming in.  I never said nothing, but they could tell.  I haven't the stomach for it any more.  What're you looking for?"

"I don't know.  It's like the circles of hell.  I think I'm almost at the bottom."

"You should get out.  It's time to quit."

"Maybe so."

"You want another round?" Eoin asked.

"Another beer maybe and some food."

"How about some chops and grilled tomatoes?"

"That sounds good."

"Coming up then."

Eoin went in the back to the kitchen and gave the order.  Then he returned and drew another pint.  In a few minutes the meal arrived, and I ate as if I hadn't eaten for weeks.  Afterward, I sat and drank my beer in silence.

Then I said, "My mother's name was Cogan."

"Is that so?" Eoin said.  "There's not too many of us.  Where was her family from?"

"She told me once that her great aunt, her father's father's sister told her the family was from Kells, as in the Book of Kells.  Where is that?"

It's in County Meath.  It looks like we're cousins," Eoin said and smiled.

"Cousins."  I laughed and shook my head.  "What does this mean?"

"It means we're related."

"I know that, you turkey.  But what does it mean?"

"It means life is full of surprises, and God has a strange sense of humor."

"I guess so," I said.

"It's stranger than that.  I even know your great-grandfather's name.  James."

"How do you know that?"

"Every Irish family has its emigration stories.  The Cogans came from Cork to Meath.  God only knows why.  In the Famine there were three brothers.  My great-grandfather and his two brothers.  One of the brothers, James, went to America, to Boston.  The other two stayed.  My cousin John is the parish priest in Oldcastle near Kells.  Then there's me."

"I thought Irish families were prolific,"  I said.

"Not ours.  There's more of us in Cork, of course."

"So we really are cousins," I said.  "How about that."

"You want another round, cousin?"

"No thanks.  Just a bill, cousin."

"It's on the house.  I soaked you the last time you were in."

"I know you did.  Thanks for the hospitality tonight.  I better get going.  Take care of yourself, cuz."

"And yourself," Eoin said.

I went out into the July night, wondering about all the ways things are interrelated.

The next day, on a whim, I called Cruikshank's house to see if he’d returned from Australia.  His housekeeper said that he was indeed at home.  I talked to him and set up an appointment for late that morning.  I went out for a run and picked up a copy of the Times on the way home.  The headline spoke of another IRA bombing in London.  Eoin was right, I thought, the IRA is stepping up its terrorist attacks.

When I got back to the flat, I put on water for coffee and sat down to read what had happened.  The IRA bomb went off a few hundred yards from the prime minister's office.  Police said the bomb contained five pounds of plastic explosive hidden in a briefcase left between a car and van near the War Office building.  It was the latest in a series of bombs planted during the previous two months, designed by the IRA to disrupt city life and commuter rail service.  In a related story, an overnight bombing of a store in Londonderry killed two passersby.

Price should burn in hell, I thought.  I looked through the paper to see if Price or Shilling had been arrested.  Nothing.  I dropped the paper on the desk and went to take a shower.  Afterward I put on a dress shirt, tie, and wool slacks.  And my new jacket.  Got to dress up for the old spy, I thought.

Cruikshank was in his garden when I arrived.  He was sitting at a white wrought-iron table, his bulk filling a white wrought-iron chair.  He didn't look up from his book when I walked out onto the brick patio.  I looked at the man for a full minute before deciding to speak.

"How are your roses?" I said.

"They live, despite my indifference," Cruikshank said without looking up.  "What do you want?"

Cruikshank didn't offer me a seat, but I sat down anyway, in a chair like the one Cruikshank occupied.  "I want to know about the rose."

Cruikshank stared at me with a look of incomprehension, and then his eyes widened as he considered the subject.  "Ah yes.  The rose.  The oldest symbol of our civilization," Cruikshank said, staring into space.  "When men built cities, they domesticated the wild rose.  Look what we've done to it."  Cruikshank cast his eye upon the roses in his walled garden.  "I don't like hybrid tea roses.  I prefer the older shrub varieties, like the Eglantine with bright pink single flowers and scented foliage."

"I thought you hated the smell of roses."

"I hate the smell of these roses.  They stink of old women."

"I see."

"The Rugosa from the Far East is a fine plant.  It will grow anywhere, even on a cliff, feeling the fine salt spray of the sea."

"Why don't you grow them?"

"No room."  Cruikshank surveyed his domain.  "Some old roses are no good.  The Provence, for instance, and the cabbage rose--ugh."  Cruikshank's face showed his distaste.  "Ah, but the Damask rose is lovely.  The rose of Damascus.  It bears double rose-pink flowers, very hardy and vigorous.  And the Gallicas, grown in southern Gaul by the Romans, are beautiful and hardy.  The roses here are nothing by comparison."  Cruikshank sniffed and dismissed them.  "These roses are the product of the Victorian middle class.  They need constant care.  The blooms are ostentatious, but they lack abundance and vitality.  Look at that one by the wall.  Maiden's Blush.  In French, Cuisse de Nymphe âmue.  The Thigh of the Aroused Nymph.  Victorian nonsense."

I laughed to myself at Cruikshank's scorn.

"I was actually wondering about the symbolic meaning of the rose," I attempted.

"A rich tradition," Cruikshank said, thinking aloud and gesturing in the air with one hand.  "The Romance of the Rose, under the rose, the Rosary, rose windows in Gothic cathedrals, Rosicrucians.  It is the flower of Aphrodite and the Virgin.  Sensuality, purity, perfection, eternity.  Take your pick."

Cruikshank paused, but just as I was about to ask another question, the old man started in again.  "And then, of course, there are the Zoroastrians, the original dualists, for whom the rose is identical with the sun, the central element in their worship.  For the High Middle Ages, it was the symbol of illumination, as it is to the Sufi who gave so much to medieval Europe.  The troubadours who sang the Romance of the Rose got their name from the Arabic root TRB, indicating the connection with the Cathars of Albi.  Subrosa is a late medieval expression--a rose hung over the clandestine council table.  Everything under it was to be said and done in total secrecy, out of the sight of God."

I finally interrupted.  "What do you know about the rose as the symbol for a secret organization?"

Cruikshank stared at his book as if he hadn't heard the question.  I waited.  Cruikshank was silent.  A minute, then two, then three went by.  I didn't know whether to repeat the question or get up and leave.

Then Cruikshank began to speak.  "To the medieval peasant, the whole of life was a battle between the Lord God and the Prince of Darkness.  Between evil and Christ the warrior king, whose standard bearer was Saint Michael."

Cruikshank put down his book as he warmed to the subject.  "Fides, faith, the rose of purity, bound mankind to the Lord God in His fight against Satan.  Man stood poised in the midst of creation.  It was the individual's responsibility to fight for the high God to prevent Satan's victory.  Man was given great freedom, magna libertas.  In the battle, each one had to choose for himself.  He could not be forced to turn his heart to God.  The idea of coercion to extort faith from mankind came later, with the Inquisition.  Before that, he could choose to remain in bondage to Satan and serve evil, or he could turn to God and choose goodness.  Each decision pushed the tide of victory one way or the other, as the world hung in the balance."

"I have no idea what you're talking about,"  I said.

Cruikshank ignored him and continued with his monologue.  "Heresy beset Christianity from the start.  The Persian followers of Zoroaster influenced the Gnostic Greeks and Manichaeans after the time of Christ, just as they later influenced the Shiite followers of Islam.  The world is evil, said the Gnostics in their teachings of Neo-Platonism and Persian dualism.  Through the power of pure spirit you can attain direct communion with God.  This is the secret knowledge.  The Gnostics said that this world is ruled by the Demiurge, by Satan, the Prince of Darkness.  You could become rich and powerful if only you would follow his lead.  Faust knew this, later."

I had only been half listening to Cruikshank's diatribe, but now I was suddenly alive to what the man was saying.

Cruikshank went on speaking, apparently oblivious to everything around him.  "In the eleventh century, Bulgar society was under siege from the Russians, the Byzantine Empire, and the Roman Church.  It was then that Catharism, the offshoot of Gnosticism, took root, and the Bogomils gained adherents.  When they were expelled from Bulgaria by the Byzantines, the Bogomils wandered throughout Europe, spreading their message of dualism and secret knowledge."

"Who were the Bogomils?" I asked in frustration.  "And what do they have to do with the symbol of the rose?"

Cruikshank talked through my question.  "In Western Europe, Catharism and Bogomilism were officially dead after the Albigensian Crusade of the thirteenth century.  The Inquisition supposedly stamped it out.  But of course, as practitioners of hermetic knowledge can tell you, the mind becomes what it contemplates, and one becomes that which one seeks to destroy.  Dualism became the doctrine of the peasant Christian, and Catharism became the secret knowledge of the initiate.

" In the thirteenth century, Catharism and Bogomilism went underground.  The whole character of the modern Balkan underground can only be understood in terms of the Bogomil tradition.  From the Catharists and Bogomils emerged two different responses.  On one side there appeared radical idealists who saw the light and tried to enlighten the world of darkness, or eschewed the world entirely.  On the other side there emerged from this tradition another movement in Western Europe and America, a militant and cynical secret society, the beginning of the secret fraternities of the nineteenth century that controlled events leading to the world wars in this century.  They appropriated the rose as a symbol, a dark joke.  The rose became the sign of hermetic knowledge and corrupt, profane power."

"The Faustian bargain," I said.  "You mean to tell me there are secret societies in conscious league with the devil?  That's a little hard to believe."

Cruikshank folded his arms over his girth and did not offer a reply.  The warm wet summer air hung between us, the perfume of roses mixed with the urban smell of ozone.
Since Cruikshank declined to speak further about the rose, I changed the subject.  "How was your trip to Australia?"

"A failure."

"You and your daughter didn't hit it off?"

"To her I am a phenomenon.  Communication is impossible.  She put up with me for two weeks and was glad to see me leave."

"That's too bad."

"It doesn't matter.  I made the gesture, and she appreciated it.  That's all.  It will have to do."

I changed the subject again.  "Have you ever thought of getting rid of these roses?  I mean since you hate them so much."

"No.  They are part of me.  I enjoy hating them.  They remind me of my late wife."

I didn't pursue that line further.  For some reason I liked the old spy whose life was so bleak.  I found myself wishing I could fix things for him, make his daughter love him, give him an understanding wife for his old age, remake him as a person who wouldn't end up alone when he died.  Become somebody else, I wanted to shout at Cruikshank.  Change your life before it's too late, but I realized that for Cruikshank it was already too late.

I said goodbye but received no reply.  As I turned to leave, I felt as if I myself did not exist.
I walked to the door of the solarium at the back of Cruikshank's house.  The old spy spoke one last message.  "Did you know that blanch, blank, and black have the same root in Old English?  Black and white are the same."

I couldn't think of a response.  I opened the door, walked through the house, and found myself on the street.

When I got back to my flat, the phone was ringing.  It was Zorn.

"Where the hell have you been?" I yelled.

"Sailing.  I needed to get away for a while."

"You could have told me."

"Sorry about that."

"Never mind.  I'm glad you're alive.  You want to come over?" I asked.


"Where are you?"

"Same place.  St. Katharine's Dock.  I’ll be at your place in an hour.”

Zorn arrived at three o'clock.  I filled him in on everything that had occurred since Thursday when he disappeared. 

Then I asked, "So where did you go?"

Zorn sat at my desk and fiddled with the new computer.  "Oh I just went for a sail.  I needed to be alone."


"I went over to Jersey and then up the Channel along the coast of France to Normandy. I went to Mont-Saint-Michel."

"Are you all right?"

"I am now.  How about you?"

"I'm not good at gauging my own well-being," I said, "but I think I'm about at the end of my rope."

"I'd say that's a pretty accurate assessment, considering what you've been through.  Do you have any plans?"

"I'm waiting to see what falls out of this business with Omni Arms and IBIC.  I'm hoping a government investigation of Price will result in an indictment, but it probably won't.  The C-4 connection to Price makes good headlines, but it may not hold up in court.  Simon Shilling hasn't been as smart.  He's clearly implicated in the attempt to kill me.  I expect an indictment for conspiracy to commit murder to be handed down on Shilling eventually.  I just wonder how his wife is taking it."

"His wife?"

"Ann Hamilton."

"The woman you met on Iona is his wife?"


"Jeez.  How deeply are you involved with her?"

"Not much.  But too much.  It's a coincidence, but I feel bad about it."

"Coincidence.  I see."  Zorn's eye went wide as if it really did see something.

"What is it?"

"You know more than I do.  How could I say?"

"I wish I could talk to her, but it wouldn't be any use."

"No.  I guess not," Zorn said.  "So what's going on in your head about the rest of it?"

"I'm getting really paranoid."

"Is it what Cruikshank said?"


"What did you talk about?"

"Nothing at first.  The old Tory is a rose snob.  Right out of Vita Sackville-West.  But then he spun out this conspiracy theory that goes back to the eleventh or maybe the thirteenth century right up to the twentieth.  According to Cruikshank, the rose has been co-opted as a symbol of hermetic knowledge and profane power. There are secret societies in league with the devil running this world."

"Is he crazy?"

"I don’t know. Probably. But when I put together what he said with what I've learned, I get an incredible rush of connections.  The thing I can't decide is whether it's all really related or not.  You've got organizations within organizations across international boundaries, linking the CIA, the KGB, the Bulgarian DS, the Turkish Mafia, the IRA, Omni Arms, and an international bank based in Pakistan with tentacles in the financial centers of every Western country.  Then there's the historical connection Cruikshank alluded to, secret knowledge and secret societies, going back to Manichaeans, Bogomils, and Cathars."

"Don't forget Skull and Bones," Zorn added, laughing.

"What are you laughing at?"

Zorn gave me a gap-toothed grin.  "I'm laughing at you.  All this stuff feeds your
us-versus-them mentality.  You love it.  You're happy to find conspiracy, but now the conspiracy looks so vast that either the whole world is involved, or you're the victim of your own fantasy."

"You mean like the Salem witch trials."

"Yeah.  That's it," Zorn said.

"But it all seems to fit together."

"It does, yes," Zorn agreed, "but maybe there's no direct connection at all, just similar archetypes."

"But what about the rose tattoo?  Is it a symbol of a secret society, or isn't it?  If it isn't, why would anyone bother to mutilate two bodies, three including Fick, if there's nothing to hide?"

"You'll never know."

I got up from the sofa and strode around the room.  "I've got to know."

"It doesn't matter."

"Of course it matters."

"Look, you're getting yourself lost in all this.  Cruikshank's just leading you on.  It's a game he's playing.  He knows which buttons to push, and he's playing with your mind for his own amusement."

"Maybe you're right.  But it's out there.  Stoat was out there.  Price is out there.  Simon Shilling and IBIC are out there."

"Yeah, but a lot more of it's in here," Zorn said, tapping his forefinger against his head.  "I can almost see the demons projected by your mind, like figures raised up by holograms.  You need a change of mind. Or you'll keep going round and round in the same old groove."

"Sounds like hell."

"It's your choice."

"So what do I do?"

"You need a new hermeneutic."

"What's that?"

"A way of interpreting data, a framework of assumptions used to make sense of information.  With Omni Arms and IBIC, for instance.  The meanings inhere in the data.  Don't create a cosmology.  Create interpretations that fit the data.  No more, no less."

"Ockham's razor."

"If you like."

"So where are we?"

"Deal with what you know, and then get on with your life."

I felt like a small child deprived of his favorite toy.

Zorn hung around for a while, but there wasn't much left to say.  I asked him if he had a phone yet.  Zorn said the old number was still good. After he left, I called Torsky.
"How're you doing?" Torsky asked.

"I'm getting restless.  Any luck getting a picture of the tattoo on Fick's forearm?"

"No.  The guy I talked to says he's working on it.  He says he has to be careful."


"I did find out one piece of information though."

"What's that?"

"It was your buddy Cruikshank who informed the CIA you were looking into Fick's death.  Cruikshank also told them you were going to see Teller back in June."

"Somehow that doesn't surprise me."

"Have you had any more visitors?"

"No.  It's been quiet."

"Let me know if you run into trouble."

"Thanks.  I appreciate that."

"No problem."

Torsky hung up.  I seem to be on Torsky's good list, I thought.  I dialed Entwhistle at Scotland Yard.  "How's the case on Price going?"

"I can't tell you that."

"Are you going to be able to get an indictment?"

"You're persistent aren't you."

"Well then, how about Shilling?"

"Off the record, it looks pretty good."

"So the case against Price is weak."

"I can't say.  Let it go."

"Would you let me know if anything breaks?  I have an interest in the outcome."

"You'll know when everyone else knows," Entwhistle said in a loud voice, but lower he said, "I have your number."

"Thanks.  How about the rose tattoo?  Any idea who mutilated the bodies?"
Entwhistle became huffy.  "We're investigating our internal security."

"So, the answer is no."


"I won't write anything about this.  We're on the same team, basically.  I want you to know that."

"In so far as possible, I suppose that's true," Entwhistle agreed.

I hung up the phone.  I picked up the disk for the Rolling Stone story and shoved it into the computer.  Then I went into the kitchen and got an apple.  I ate it as I reviewed what I had written.  I read the whole thing and then started back at the beginning.

I threw the apple core into the wastebasket next to the desk.  There's something here that I'm missing, I thought.  I read it again, making changes as needed.  Then I brought it up to date and sat back to think about everything that had occurred.  What's missing?  What is there in the rose tattoo?  Where is the key to unlock the door?

None of it offered anything new.  I went back to the printout of Price's records.  I examined every item.  The only common pattern I could find, and this was dominant but not consistent, was the involvement of Saudi Arabia.  The Bedouin princes of Arabia had become the financial resource for all kinds of secret plans.  They gave money, but what did their money buy?   IBIC, Iran-Contra, the rearming of Saddam Hussein's Iraq in the war with Iran.  I found nothing new, although the results were depressing.
To make my mind focus, I decided to write an article specifically about IBIC for U.S. publication.

I called Washington.  The Post gave me the runaround.  They had reporters on the IBIC story.  They didn't want any outside help.  Maybe they were on it, I thought as he hung up.  I called New York.  The Times was willing to listen.  I at least talked to someone I knew.  They had read my stuff in the London Times.  They were interested.  I outlined a story on recent events with IBIC in London, New York, and Washington.  They would take my story, special to the New York Times.  Momentum is all, I thought and sat down at the computer to pound out the story.

I had been working for two hours when the phone rang.  It was Gordon Bennett from the London Times.  "Have you heard what happened today?"

"No.  What's up?" I asked.

"Margaret Thatcher's former parliamentary private secretary Giles Draper was killed by the IRA.  It was about an hour ago."

"What happened?"

"They planted a bomb under his car.  It blew up as he left his house in East Sussex to drive to London for a meeting.  Harold is going crazy.  He and Draper were personal friends."

"Why did the IRA pick Draper?"

"He and Margaret Thatcher were close, and Draper was an outspoken critic of the IRA.  His name was one of about a hundred on an IRA hit list police discovered a year or two ago.  Draper had a wife and two teenage sons."

"There's something you can do," I said.

"Tell me."

"Find out if the explosive was C-4.  Check with Entwhistle at Scotland Yard or Austin at Special Branch."


"What's new with Price?  Is there going to be an indictment?"

"It doesn't look promising.  Omni Arms' lawyers are going to prevent it.  There's not enough direct evidence."

"What about diplomatic channels?  Is the government going to force Price to leave Britain?"

"I don't think anyone has the stuff to make that happen," Gordon said.

"What about Simon Shilling and IBIC?"

"From what I hear, an indictment is just a matter of time.  What about your IRA sources?"

"They've shut down.  The latest wave of violence is giving them cold feet."

"That's too bad.  The official response is not to appear ruffled by this, but believe me people are upset."

"I'll see what I can do.  But I don't have any ideas at the moment," I said.

"They can kill anyone they want at any time.  It's appalling."

"I'll let you know if I find anything."

I went back to the article on IBIC.  I won't call Eoin, I thought.  Eoin isn't an informer.  I kept on writing until the article was done.  It's a good story, I thought, but what difference will it make?

I walked into the kitchen and opened a can of beans and a can of tomatoes.  I boiled them in the same pot and dumped the contents in a soup bowl.  Disgusting, I thought, and ate it up. As I ate, I wandered back to my desk and found my address book.  Then I set the slimy plate aside and got out my notebook.

The addresses I was looking for were old.  Some hadn't been updated in twenty years.  I copied down five names and dialed the old numbers.  Fatman, Glazer, Sronce, Needham, and Rocoszi.  Fatman's number was still good.  Norman Fadiman answered.  But he was no help.  Yeah, he'd heard Fick was dead, but no, he didn't know anything.

Glazer's number was somebody else's now.  Sronce the same.  Needham's number was no longer in service.  But Rocoszi's number, a newer one, was good.  His wife answered.  Rock was at work.  Could he call back? she asked.  "Tell him I'll call him," I said, but I left my number anyway.

I went to bed.  At two a.m. the phone rang.  I got to it between the first and second rings.

"Jacky Mac, is that you?"


"Yeah.  What're you doing in London?"

"It's a long story."

"You still trying to be a writer?"

"Yeah.  Still trying."

"What's up."

"It's about Fick."

"I heard about him getting it."

"You know what he was up to?"

"Sure.  He told me.  He was working for the Company.  Couldn't leave off of it."

"He told you?"

"That's right."

"You know anybody from the old days that he was working with?"

"You want to know?"

"Yeah, me."

"Okay.  As long as it's you.  He was there with Charlie O.  You 'member him?"

"Charlie Clingman?"


"I need to find him."

"What's going on?"

"You really want to know?"

"Maybe not," Rock said.

"You got Charlie O.'s number?"

"I think so.  Christ.  Let me look."

Rock was gone from the phone for almost ten minutes.  "Here it is.  Sorry it took so long.  My wife keeps rearranging my stuff." 

Rock gave me the number.

"You gonna find out who killed Fick?"

"I found out," I said.  "The man is dead."

"Did you do it?"

"No.  But I watched him die."

"Good.  Tell me all about it sometime, okay?"

"I will.  I'll write you a book."

"Yeah, right."

"Thanks, Rock.  So how you doing?"

"Life sucks.  I'm working second shift.  They just cut our pay.  It was that, or we all get laid off."

"I'm sorry to hear that.  You take care.  I'll let you know what happens."


I depressed the button on the phone and dialed the number for Charles O. Clingman.  A woman answered.  When she heard who I wanted, she hung up on me.  I redialed the number.  The woman answered again.  I talked fast so she wouldn't hang up again.

"We're divorced.  Leave me alone," she said.

"It's an emergency.  Could you please help me?"

"I'll get the number," she said.  It sounded through the phone as if she hurled the receiver against a wall, but she came back and gave me the number.  I hung up and dialed again.

"What?" a man's voice answered.

"Charlie O.?"

"Who's this?"

"Jack McGlashan."

"Jacky.  It's been a long time.  How're you doing?"

"Good.  How about you?"

"Not bad.  Getting along.  I'm on my own again.  Free as a bird.  Where are you?"




"No shit."

"No shit.  I need your help."


"It's about Fick."

"Now I'm not so sure."

"Fick talked to me about a terrorist training camp in Libya.  He was working for the CIA."

"Yeah.  That's why he's dead.  He was working for the CIA, and he talked to you."

"I know.  I think about that a lot.  I don't blame you for not wanting to talk about it.  It's just that the C-4 and the guys trained in Libya are still around, and they're killing a lot of people."

"We were lied to.  That's all I can say."

"I understand.  Listen.  Let me give you my number.  We ought to stay in touch."  I gave him my phone number.  "What are you up to these days?"

"Same old thing."

"You're still in the mercenary business?"

"They call it "private security" now.  I'll be gone in a couple of days."

"Where are you headed?"

"Now, Jacky, don't ask questions."

"Right.  Give me a call if you're ever in London.  We'll have a beer."

"It's a date.  Stay healthy."

"Yeah, you too."

I put the phone back in its cradle.  A big nothing out of that effort, I thought.  I turned out the light and went to sleep.

The next day after my usual run through Kensington Gardens, I stopped on my way home and bought a bottle of orange juice, a loaf bread, and some apples and bananas.  I also bought a copy of the London Times.

Back in the flat I made coffee and put together breakfast from the food I had bought.  Then, as I had the day before, I sat down to read about the IRA's latest atrocity.
There was a picture on page one of Giles Draper taken in life and a picture of the bombed car in which he had died.  The story described the murder.  There was no mention of the explosive used in the car bomb.

Margaret Thatcher's statement expressed the prevailing British stoicism in the face of such attacks and the resolution to push on with talks between the British government and the government of the Irish Republic to try to improve the situation in Northern Ireland.  There were also statements by hardliners in Northern Ireland decrying the talks as a capitulation to the IRA and supporters of armed violence.

There was a depressing familiarity to the story.  The forces of reason and sanity were assailed once again, besieged by fanatics at both ends of the political spectrum.  I felt angry and powerless.  Why was there nothing about the explosive?  It had to be C-4.  If the police could only get hold of one of the IRA members.

Why couldn't the British government use the testimony from Stoat's trial in absentia in the States to launch an investigation of Price and Omni Arms?  Why was the business with Price being allowed to die when the results of his cynical business dealings were killing members of the British government?

I knew the answer already.  It's obvious, I thought.  It's the Anglo-American relationship.  The British don't want to embarrass the American government by pursuing Price.  If the British pursue it, questions will come up.  Why, for instance, did the U.S. allow Price, a former CIA agent, to sell C-4 in the first place?  The British don't want to deal with it.
I was disgusted by the whole situation.  After I got dressed, I called Entwhistle at Scotland Yard.

The detective was in no mood to talk.  "If you have information, give it quickly.  I'm busy."

"I imagine so.  I have a question.  Do you have a report yet from your bomb-squad about the explosive used in the Draper car-bomb?"

"I can't tell you that."

"Why not?  Is it a secret?"

"I just can't tell you.  Regulations."

"Since when?"

"Since late yesterday afternoon.  The word came to us from the Home Secretary."


"We didn't ask why.  We were just told."

"Thanks.  Talk to you later."

Somebody is trying to put a lid on the Price Omni Arms C-4 business, I thought.
I spent the rest of the morning finishing my story on IBIC for the New York Times.  Then I went out to fax it to New York.

When I got back, I called Angelique.

"Zorn's back," I told her.

"Thomas?  Is he all right?"

"He's fine.  He went for a sail in his boat to get away for a while."

"Why don't you invite him to come here for dinner with us?"

"Good idea.  What time?"


"I'll see you then."


I called Zorn.

"What are you up to?" I asked.

"I was reading for a couple of hours.  Now I'm trying to get this boat squared away.  What's up?"

"Would you like to have dinner at Angelique's tonight?  I'm going over about seven."

"Sure," Zorn said.  "Can I bring anything?"

"How about an awesome bottle of wine."

"Sounds good.  See you there."

That evening Angelique made another of her incredible meals, rack of lamb with carrots and onions.  Zorn brought three bottles of Haut Medoc.  During dinner I told about everything that had happened and what I had learned in the past few days.  A pall fell over the table long before I finished his story.

"I'm sorry to ruin your dinner," I said.

"It's nothing," Angelique said.  "I wanted to know.”

Then Zorn said, "You're too far into this.  It's become an obsession.  If you keep going with it, you'll destroy yourself."

"What if there's this vast secret organization?" I asked.

"Then we're lost," Zorn said.  "But you don't have to be organized in some secret cabal to make a bargain with the devil.  You're better off treating the rose tattoo as a metaphor.  A lot of human behavior goes on under the rose."

"Dammit.  I want to know for sure," I said.

"I don't think it matters, except as a historical oddity," Zorn said.  "Why?  Do you think it matters?"

"Yes.  It matters to me."


"If all this is part of a conspiracy, it affects my whole world view—like the assassination of John Kennedy."

"So it has religious significance?" Zorn asked.

"No.  Maybe.  I hadn't thought about it that way."

"So all this about the rose is a way of finding out about that."

"Yes.  Forget the metaphor.  If it's real, I want to know."

Angelique spoke up finally.  "It's not an empty question.  I never thought I would say this, but I think that you are both right.  The idea of the rose as a symbol of secret evil is an affront to the human spirit and civilization.  Whether it is a cabal is not important.  There are attitudes in Western society that will destroy the world if they do not change.  The rose is the world.  It has been violated.  The Great Mother has been forgotten.  Mary has been lost.  What is left to say?"

Angelique got up and began to clear the table.  Zorn and I got up to help.  I muttered something to Zorn about letting Angelique run the world.  Zorn agreed it would be a good idea.

We talked for a while after all the dishes were done.  Zorn left at eleven.  I stayed for coffee.  Then I got up to leave.

"Are you not going to stay?" Angelique asked.

"I didn't want to presume."

"Come to bed."

The next day I went home and printed out the Rolling Stone article.  Later on I went out and faxed a copy to the States.  When I got home, I called Torsky.  We met on Kensington High Street, outside the Tube station.

"I'm in a rut," I said.  "I'm trying to think of something to keep the heat on Price.  That fertilizer he shipped from Turkey to Syria.  I think it's SEMTEX plastique.  What do you think?"

"Could be.  But you'll never prove it," Torsky said.  "Don't worry about Price."

"Why not."

"Just don't worry about him.  Trust me."

"Any word on the photographs of Fick's body parts?  Does the CIA have a picture of the rose tattoo?"
"It doesn't exist."

"Did it ever exist?"

"If it ever existed, it's gone now."

"Great.  One more dead end," I said.

"Yeah.  Life is like that."

"You're philosophical."

"Price is still out to get you."

"How do you know?"

"It's my business to know."

"Yeah.  I forgot."

"Price has been a busy boy.  In Bosnia.  The private arms dealers are arming both sides.  Price has more deals than he can handle.  Maybe you're safe for a while."

I walked away discouraged.  I was like an athlete who's just learned his next race has been cancelled.  The adrenaline was pumping with no place to go.  So I just walked home.
I had not been back in his apartment for five minutes when there was a staccato knock at the door.  I went quickly to open it.  It was Ann Hamilton.  Her face was drawn and lined as if she had been crying.  She strode into my tiny apartment without waiting to be invited.  I closed the door.

"Why have you done this to me?" she demanded.

"I'm sorry.  I . . ."


"I didn't know.  I really had no idea."

"Liar!"  She was right in his face.

"It's all a coincidence.  I didn't know until it was too late."

"Liar!  You've ruined my life, and you say it's coincidence.  You were angry that I wouldn't sleep with you, weren't you?  How could you be so vindictive?"

"Really I didn't know."

"How could you not know?  I told you my husband's name.  You knew he was head of IBIC in London.  Don't claim ignorance with me.  I can't stand it."

"I didn't know he was head of IBIC until after I found out what IBIC was doing.  By then it was too late."

"You could have stopped it then.  Didn't you think about my children and me at all?  Such a good man, I thought.  So nice to my children.  You've ruined their lives.  You've wrecked my husband's career.  I wish I'd never known you.  I wish you were dead."

I grimaced.  "I'm sorry for what this has done to your family, but it wouldn't have made any difference.  The story had to come out.  What your husband and IBIC have been doing is wrong."

"And what you have done to me and my family is right?  You're one to talk.  I think you wanted to destroy Simon and me because your little ego was wounded."

"That's not it.  Believe me, that wasn't why at all."

"Then why couldn't you contact me and warn me?  Coward!  You were afraid to talk to me.  You let me read it in a newspaper story with your name on it.  Are you proud of yourself?  You made yourself a reputation at my husband's expense, and you don't even have the courtesy to inform me beforehand."

She started to cry.  I tried to comfort her.

"Get away from me!"

"All right.  Why don't you sit down?"

She refused.

"Do you want a drink of water?"


"Well I do.  I'll be right back."

I got a drink of water and a box of Kleenex and came back to the living room. 

Just then the door opened.  It was Angelique.

"Âllo, Jacques.  I brought you some flowers.  Oh."  Angelique paused.  "I am sorry.  I didn't know you had a visitor."

"Angelique, this is Ann Hamilton, the wife of Simon Shilling, the head of IBIC in London."
"I am pleased to make your acquaintance," Angelique said.

Ann Hamilton straightened her back and wiped her eyes.  "Your friend Jack McGlashan tried to make me have an affair with him, and when I wouldn't, he decided to ruin my husband.  I thought you should know."

Angelique stood looking at the woman for a moment.  "Your remark strikes me as bad form.  Nonetheless, I shall say that Jacques' affairs are his own business and not mine.  As to his ruining your husband, I believe your husband destroyed himself.  Have you no idea what he has been doing?  There is evidence that he has kept accounts for terrorist organizations and financed weapons for them to use to kill innocent people.  It is quite likely that your husband's bank financed and supported the terrorists who killed my father in Paris."

Ann Hamilton looked shocked, but then recovered enough to say, "My husband knew nothing of terrorist accounts or arms."

"Then he is a fool," Angelique said.  "And you are a silly woman if you think that your life should go on without incident while your husband is sowing evil throughout the world."

"I think I'd better leave," Ann Hamilton said.

"Ann, I'm sorry," I said.

Ann Hamilton walked past us and out the door.

I turned to Angelique.

Angelique said, "I thought you had better taste in women, Jacques.  How could you get involved with such a goose?"

With that, Angelique turned and walked out the door.

"Angelique.  Wait.  Please," I shouted to her down the stairs.

But Angelique kept on going. I called her number all afternoon but no answer.  At five o'clock I took a cab to her house.  No one was home.  When I got back to my flat, I called her again.  No answer.  I kept calling.  At ten o'clock Angelique answered the phone.

"Will you talk to me?" I asked.

"I don't wish to talk to you now, Jacques.  Perhaps in a few days or a week.  There is nothing to say.  Goodbye, Jacques."  She hung up.

There was nothing I could do.  I went out the door and down the stairs and out to the front landing.  I walked down the steps and across the street to see if Thad was on his perch atop the narrowboat, but Thad was nowhere to be seen.  The boat was dark. I kept on walking.  It started to rain.  By the time I got to Eoin's pub in Notting Hill, I was soaked.  I went in the door expecting to see the round red form of Eoin Cogan behind the bar.

"Where's Eoin?" I asked.

"He's not here," the dour black-haired man behind the bar said in a flat Midland accent.

"Draw me a pint of bitter will you?  And how about a steak and fries."

"We don't serve from the grill anymore.  Just the pub grub you see behind you.

I looked around at the offerings and made a face.  I turned back to the bartender.  "What's going on around here?"

"He's selling me the pub.  Says he's going to the States."


"Somebody told him he should move to Seattle.  That's on the West Coast, isn't it?"


"He's even taking his mother-in-law.  Can you imagine?"

"Is he still around?"

"Yeah.  He'll be in.  We haven't signed the papers yet."

I took a big swallow of beer. I drank the beer until it was gone, and then I left. 
Walking back to the flat, I had the sense that someone was following me.  I continued up the street, turned right, and waited.  I almost grabbed the boy and his girlfriend as they rounded the corner.

"Sorry," I said and headed up the street I had been on.

Getting a little nervous there, a voice said in my mind.  Better take it easy.  I stopped on the way home at a Wimpy's burger joint and ate a hamburger and fries.  It wasn't a satisfactory meal, but it was food.  I trudged up the steps to my flat, feeling old.
When I turned the key in the lock, my heart knocked in my chest.  The door was unlocked.  I opened it carefully.  The room was dark, but I could see the shape of a man sitting in the armchair near the window on the other side of the room.  It was Price.

"I need to talk to you" came the sound of a voice from the chair.  "Come in."

I came in but left the door open about a foot.

"What are you doing here?"

"A conversation.  Nothing more," the voice from the chair said.  "I've brought a bottle of Macallen.  I assume you like scotch.  It's in the kitchen.  Why don't you pour us a couple of glasses."

I went to the dark kitchen and found the bottle of Tallisker sitting on the counter.  I poured two glasses.  I dropped a cube of ice into my glass and went back to the living room and handed Price his glass of whisky.  The only light came from the streetlights outside.
Price held up his glass to me.  "Stoat is dead and sends his best."

I laughed in spite of myself.  "May he burn in hell,"  I said as a toast to Stoat.  "Why are you here?"

"'They have fostered thee for a purpose, didst thou but understand it.  Have a care to thyself, lest thou feed with lost sheep.'"

"What are you talking about?"

"It's a quotation from El Tughrai, a contemporary of Omar Khayyam."

"To what purpose?"

"Ah, that's the question," Price said.  "You don't know what you're doing."


"No, you do not."

"I know that what you're doing is evil."

"You love being able to say that.  Good and evil intertwine.  It's only the enlightened who can see where one begins and the other ends.  The apparent is the bridge to the real, if seen in the right way.  You're the victim of a delusion."

"What do you want?"

"Open your eyes.  I want you to be your own man."

"What are you offering?"

"I can make you rich," he offered.

"I don't need your money."

Price leaned back and crossed one long leg over the other.  He was smiling.

"You don't want to keep grubbing for a living," Price said, looking around at the darkened room.  "You would no doubt enjoy being financially independent.  You could afford to indulge your lovely French nurse."

I felt as if a hand gripped my throat.  "How do you know about her?"

"I know all about you.  I know about your visits with Teller and Cruikshank.  I know about your affair with Shilling's wife Ann.  I know about Zorn.  I know about your connection to Torsky, the Mossad enforcer.  I know about your friendship with Eoin Cogan, the IRA sympathizer.  I also know that your former wife Margo and your son Michael live in Buffalo, New York."

I wanted to get up and kill Price on the spot, but I kept himself under control, barely.

"What do you want?"

"I want you to stop writing.  I want you to join with me, with us."

"Who are you, all of you?"

"If you join us, you will know.  That's what you want.  The power of knowledge," Price said and smiled in the darkness.

"You know me," I conceded.  "What about the rose tattoo?"

"You will know that."

"IBIC?  The terrorist training camp in Libya?"

"Whatever you want."  Price laughed.

I didn't laugh.  "What will it cost me?"

"It will cost you your bondage."

"I'm already free."

"So you think.  But I'm here to offer you true freedom.  I am not your enemy.  I could be your friend.  You will truly be your own man, unfettered, free."

"I know who you are.  What do you think I am, a fool?"

"A fool?  Yes.  So it seems.  You are following an outworn creed," Price said.

"You mean as in 'You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve.'"

"The man who said that was crucified by his own god."

"There are worse things than dying,” I said.  "What is the son of a Presbyterian minister doing here, saying all this?"

Price took a sip of his whisky.  "The Calvinists were mistaken."

"You're going to join Stoat in hell."

"I'm afraid you're wrong," Price said.  "There is no hell.  When you die, you'll be dead, but not in heaven or hell.  That's a nasty fairy tale left over from the Middle Ages.  This life is all there is, except for the spirits who cannot bear to leave after they die."

"You sound like a man who knows."

"And you want to know."

"Not that much."

"You are a fool.  If you refuse, it will be a costly error."

I sat in the dark, weighing what Price had said.  Then I spoke.  "So be it."

"You'd better be careful.  It could cost you your life or the life of someone you care about."

I rose from the chair.  "Get out," I said.

Price got up, walked to the door, and opened it wide.   He stepped across the threshold and turned back to me.

"You'll be sorry," Price sneered.

Without thinking, I pushed Price in the chest with the flat of my hand.  He fell backwards down the stairs to the landing below.  I hoped he was dead, but he wasn't.  He got up and turned a malevolent face toward me at the top of the stairs.  I expected him to say something, but instead he turned away and was gone. 

I thought of pursuing Price and finishing the job, but instead I went back into the flat.
Now you've done it, I thought.  Price is going to kill you.  Or Angelique.  If his influence extends far enough, he'll try to get at Mike or Margo.  Nice going, Jack, a voice said to me.  Now what are you going to do?  I'll have to kill him myself, I thought.  I've got no choice.
I went to the phone and called Torsky at the Israeli Embassy.  Torsky wasn't there.  I left a message.  Torsky called back in a few minutes.

"What's up?" Torsky asked.

"I can't tell you on the phone.  Come over to my place as soon as you can."

Torsky was there in twenty minutes.

"Price was here," I said.


"He was sitting here waiting when I got home about midnight."

"What did he want?"

"He offered me a deal if I'd join his organization and stop writing about him."

"What did you say?"

"I turned him down, and then I knocked him down the stairs."

"That was pretty dumb."

"I know.  He threatened to kill me and everybody I've been involved with, including you."

"Price has got a swelled head," Torsky said.

"I need a gun that can't be traced."


"I'm going to have to kill him."

Torsky looked around the flat and thought.  I waited.  "I'll see what I can do," Torsky said.  "Don't do anything until you hear back from me."


"You'd better call Zorn and the French girl and warn them.  And tell anybody else you think might be in danger," Torsky said.

"Okay," I said.

"Have you called Scotland Yard?"


"They won't be any help until after somebody dies.  If you tell them what's happened, and Price dies, they'll come looking for you.  You'd better just sit tight."

"I'm not promising anything," I said.  "I need a gun."

"I told you.  I'll see what I can do.  I owe you one.  But killing's not in your line.  You'll mess it up.  Hold off, will you?"

"I'm not going to wait around for Price to do whatever he wants.  I've had enough."

"Let me put you and whoever in a safe house," Torsky said.  "It'll only be a couple of days."

"I'll see if Angelique and Zorn will do that.  I'd feel better if they were safe.  But I'm not going into a safe house," I said. "And I'm worried about my son and my ex-wife in the States."

"I know somebody in the FBI.  I'll get your family some protection.  Give me their address."

I gave the address.  "Make sure the person at the FBI is reliable.  We don't know Price's connections."

"Yeah, I'll take care of it."

"Thanks," I said.

When Torsky left, I called Angelique, but no one answered the phone.  I experienced a moment of panic but then figured she must have gone to work.

Then I called Zorn and explained the situation.  "Price knows all about you.  Torsky's offered a safe house."

"What good would that do?  We can't hide from Price forever."

"No.  But maybe I can take care of Price in a couple of days."

"If Price is speaking for himself, that might help, but if he was acting for some secret organization, getting Price probably won't fix things.  I think I'll take my chances."

"If that's what you want," I said.

"Do you want some help?  I've got a few ideas."

"I thought you'd had enough of this."

"No.  I think I should help you see it through," Zorn said.  "Why don't you come over tomorrow, and we'll figure out what to do."


"About noon?"

"I'll see you then."

I hung up and thought about the others.  Teller would know Price was likely to be after him because he killed Stoat, but I placed a call to send a telegram warning him.
Cruikshank had told the CIA about my interest in Price, but I sent the old spy a telegram warning him about Price anyway.  Then I tried to call Eoin at the pub.  He wasn't there, but the new owner gave me Eoin's home telephone number.  There was no answer.  I'll try later, I thought. 

Then I dialed a number in Buffalo, New York.




"This is Jack."

"What do you want, Jack?"

"Is Mike around?"

"No.  He's out."

"Do you know where he is?"

"Why?  Is something wrong?"

"Do you know where he is?"

"Yes.  He's with Phil."

"Who's Phil?"

"He's my fiancé.  We're getting married in August."

"Oh," I said.  "Congratulations."

"Is there something wrong?"

"Maybe.  A man I've been writing about has threatened to kill me.  He used to be in the CIA, and somehow he learned about you and Mike.  He's threatened to kill you, too."

"This is unbelievable.  How could you have implicated us in your madness?"

"I'm sorry, Margo.  I thought you were far enough away that you'd be safe."

"It's bad enough that you're so childish that you have to play macho hero games, but now you've got us involved.  I can't believe this."

"Listen.  Forget the accusations for a minute, will you?  I've got to talk to you," I said.

"What is it?"

"A friend of mine knows someone in the FBI who'll contact you about providing protection for a while.  Make sure you check the credentials of whoever contacts you."

"You mean we're going to be watched by the FBI so that one of your terrorists doesn't kill us."

"That's about it," I said.

"This is unbelievable.  How could you do this to your own son?  Not only are you not here to be a father, now you want to get us killed."

"Look, I'm sorry.  Please be careful and take care of Mike.  Tell him I love him."



"You're an asshole."  She hung up on me.

I went to the hospital to find Angelique.

"You must not come here," she said.

"I was worried about you.  Price was at my flat when I got home tonight.  He said that if I didn't accept his deal and stop writing, he'd kill me and the people close to me.  He knows about you."

"And I know about him," Angelique said.  "I must go."

"Angelique, wait.  Torsky offered a safe house.  Just for a little while."

"I refuse to alter my life for these barbarians.  Goodbye, Jacques."

"Please.  May I see you tomorrow just to talk?"

She sighed.  "I must go.  Come to my apartment in the afternoon at four o'clock."

"Thanks.  Take care.  Please."

"I shall be careful.  Good night, Jacques."

"Good night."