Monday, April 6, 2015

5. The Sting



I

It was coming up to Frank's and Chloe's trials.  

Johanssen was already inside, his second home, not unhappy by any stretch of the imagination.  His quarters were comfortable and he was spared the more ignominious privations of Full Sutton.

In return, many in the community around Pocklington enjoyed some of the largesse he distributed via his 'aides' as he called them.   Three stretch with good behaviour, it could have been worse.

The only unpleasantness was a bit of a turf war over the substances but when it became clear he wasn't remotely interested, calm returned and the two groups maintained a healthy and respectful distance.   Word was that Johanssen had friends in high places and he was temporarily on sabbatical to regroup and get things sorted again. 

'Let's discuss the paternity issue,' suggested Miles after supper one night.

'You mean Chloe's child?'

'Yes. Do you know the Human Tissue Act 2004, Section 45?'

'Paternity test for Chloe, yes?'

'Why didn't she abort?   It doesn't avail her anymore - the need for Ralph has also gone  -'

'Yes but it could equally be Frank's.  We just have to wait for it to happen, I'm afraid.  They've got her on the murder, pending appeal, your DI was good after all.  I could come to like the constabulary.'

II

Ms Dalshiel was having a second try with Dan Cornell.

'Puts a different complexion on things, Penny.  Not a disaster - you have many irons - but it does close your eyes and ears.  It's not going to matter - the action is MoD now on the island and that's where I see you being.  We thought you'd have to go but someone wants you to still be around.'

'And Basel?'

'We're a team, we interchange, later we go back to where we were.  We're flexible.  You are flexible, Penny, are you not?'

She looked hard at Dan Cornell and knew there was only one reply she could safely give.  There were no surviving ex-members of his little team and he'd been asking her about a couple of her side ventures.  Not out of order - he'd made it clear he had no objection, provided the interests didn't clash.

The Basel connection did show signs of clashing.  Everyone works in a team at first but ambition sorts the wheat from the chaff and the ambitious either die or get clever and survive, expand.  Duflot in Basel was now showing signs of that expansionary itch.  Penny had thought to step in and take over but it might be bad for the health, given Dan's unhealthy recent interest.

'You'll take over Basel?'

'What's that to you, my lovely?'

'You know I had thoughts,' she admitted, a trifle breezily, clever girl thought Cornell, 'but you also know I'll step back if something's going down.'

'I'll put you in there eventually, Penny - better the devil you know - but the N1 priority is Jacqueline.   She's almost certainly Laura, would you not say?'

'I thought so but there are indications she's no more than the Escort girl after all.  Those two have issues with Johanssen -'

'Not if we don't need them to.  I think we should let that one play out a while longer - it's distracting Forrester, all the other players are inside, we're into the seam already - I can't see why we need concern ourselves with the others now.'

'Jacqui.  She's been poking about. Been doing a bit of sailing lately, those two, haven't they?  North Sea's a dangerous place at times.'

'Naughty girl.  It's what I love in you.'

She'd already dropped to her knees and unzipped him by this time.

III

DI Collins had gone outside his brief in taking the London bound, due in at 11.52 at Kings Cross.

Interviewing the lovely Janine was the purpose but he also hoped to gain some background in his mind on the workings of the section.  It had come down from above to explore it, it didn't relate to any current investigation but perhaps it was felt he had some connections other investigating teams did not.

Anyway, here was Kings Cross and outside was the car.

On the way, Paul Glendinning took in his passenger and the reverse was happening too. 

Typical copper, thought Glendinning.

Typical Whitehall, thought Collins.

Yet it was all very chummy.  'What do you think she might be involved in?' asked Glendinning.

'Have you warned her?'

'Your presence is warning enough.  You want how long?'

'Give me the morning.  There's a little cafe on the Embankment - we'll have some tea and cakes there.'

'You're telegraphing your moves.  Why?'

'I need you satisfied.  If she thinks she's wired though, she won't be forthcoming.'

'Why do you think she would be forthcoming anyway?'

'I have some snippets.'

'And you think she and your investigation are connected?'

'I'm sure of it.  If I'm right, it doesn't affect any of your operations - I'm sure she does her job efficiently - but it does put a certain complexion on this murder investigation.  There's a third person, female, who should not have been involved in that murder in any way - seems no connection, no need for her there.  The interesting thing in checking her out is that I can't check her out.'

'I see,' said Glendinning, smile at the corner of his lips.  'And you needed to come to London for this?'

'See them in their natural habitat, so to speak.'

'Will you report what happens to me?  I'd appreciate the summary.'

'I assumed you'd have it covered.'

'No.  I'm going to throw myself on your mercy here.  Get back to me - face-to-face please.  Your findings have implications for our office.'

'Not a problem.'

'Here we are.'  He half pulled into his space, a tight fit in the courtyard, suggested the other get out, parked and they went upstairs.

...

'This is DI Collins, Janine.'

'I know.  How do you do.'

'Ready, madam?'

'Ready,' she replied, with amusement. 

...

Sipping on the still hot tea, he looked across at her and she jumped straight in.

'Let's cut to the chase, Detective Inspector. Why would I be of interest to your investigation?'

He began the spiel about the murder, how far they'd got, who was put away, who was still a danger - nothing, he was sure, she didn't already know. 

He concluded: 'I'm sure you knew all that from your sister anyway but I had to go through it to show you my current thinking on her.  I think she's one of the goodies but she also has an agenda.  I've one question only - who would you rate the greater threat to her - would it be an MoD man or would it be a young lady under him?'

Janine paused and considered.  Genuinely, thought Collins. 

'On paper, you'd have to say the man you spoke of - he has more power, greater reach - but she has the knowledge, the dirt, the things which can alter hierarchies, she can set people against one another and does.  I'll tell you this for free, Inspector - she's empire building and he knows it, she knows he knows and he knows that. 

Penny doesn't know about me.  Knows all about Laura.  You think that's impossible, that they'd know all. 

They don't.  I don't know why I've not been outed but I haven't.  The moment word of that enters our office, it's as good as in that lady's hands.  The war is between him and her but Laura is the one caught in the crossfire.  Yet she wants to deliver this woman.  It's this woman's swansong, I believe.'

'Yes?'

'It's vital that the connection's not made between Laura and me.  For some reason, simply through people being into other things, through some missing link, through some stroke of good fortune, this woman does not know of our connection.'

'Have no fear on this score.  For now.  It's actually in Mr. Glendinning's interests, as far as I can see, not to know.  London's a bit complicated for me.'

IV

'Rumblings from Johanssen, the trip wire says.  Large amount of money paid over,' said Miles, three hundred miles from land.

'It's upon us.'

'Yes.  How far can we trust Collins to have kept his word?  Does it matter anyway?  Is this Glendinning on the level himself?  And what happens if those in authority do know the Janine/Amelie connection?'

'Last one first - it does reduce my usefulness in some parts of Europe, on certain jobs.  But we needn't be in Europe.'

'Just tell me - are we a go or a not?'

'We're a go, as long as you're happy and I remain so and that depends only on something major getting in the way, e.g. an affair, a change in personality, some major secret coming up from the past.  Mine are out, how about you?'

'You'll learn more when we tackle Johanssen but I'm hoping it will draw you closer, rather than the other way.'

'So, we can plan ahead?'

'Yes.'

'Right, Miles, I know your shock tactics and I've concluded for myself that you would kill if necessary.  That's useful but I can also bring something.  I'm far more devious than you.  You're secretive and squirrelly but you're straight.  I'm not when it comes to getting something or preventing it - I mean I go for the jugular in a different way to you.  The two ways complement each other.

With Johanssen, we've done Plan A and the element of surprise has gone.  It's bought us time, as your colleague said.  I think my Plan C would do the trick but I agree it should wait till after your Plan B.'

'You don't know what that is.'

'Yes I do.  I know you.  This sort of thing is my business, my livelihood, Miles.'

'Not doubting it.  Feel more secure already.  So you want to hear this Plan B, yes?'  he took the lack of objection as a yes.  'OK, of my contacts, the one to use initially I think is one of the guys from the island you saw with me.  He has a redoubt for his own use and let's just say it's well stocked.  But among that circle, it's a known-known.  Someone will eventually tell Johanssen.

He'll send out expendables to try.  From that, he'll read the enemy - us - and our methods.  No doubt you'd tell me this is a war of diminishing returns.  Tit-for-tat.  I don't want him touching the fleet in his revenge because for those boys, it's their livelihood and not their war.  He wouldn't care - he'd see it as mine and it's a sitting duck. So your Plan C must follow onto the initial Plan B almost immediately.'

'Good, good, glad to hear you talking like this.  And remember, my lover -' she paused for the wry smile, which duly came '- he'll do as I'm doing as well - he'll think up what could hurt the most.  He'll look for weaknesses from our past, he'll have colleagues on the job because he has a limited brain himself.  He's quite cunning but experience gives him his wins, knowing what's worked before, rather than brilliant strategy.'

'Unless that strategy comes from someone else.'

'Yes, even from someone like Chloe.  Amelie's a major vulnerability for me now.  Your boats are for you.  Possibly other things you haven't mentioned yet.  We can't be caught because my pain threshold is not high -'

'Nor is mine.'

'- thanks for that, it's a relief.  You know what I mean.  So all these things are in the plans.  Also, we don't wait for him to move.  We move within this month with your Plan B and 'invite' him in, offer him something too good to refuse.  So no fanfare for your redoubt but a lot of hush hush which someone let's slip.  A chance too good not to take.  Even your benefactor letting it be known he's open to a higher price.

Which he well might be and so we have Plans D and E for our escape, even from our benefactors.  I take it that getting Johanssen to see reason, pleading for a ceasefire, is not on the agenda.'

'Wouldn't buy anything with his mindset.  His mindset needs to change.  Do you have something in mind?'

'Very much so.  It involves me going to the continent, calling in favours, revisiting old flames, old female friends too.  Do the flames worry you?'

'I don't like them but what can I do?'

'Trust me that I'm yours?'

'Yes.'

'There's a vulnerability for Johanssen to exploit, if anyone knew.'

'Yes.  I'm weak there.  I'd not say anything, for fear of losing you but ... well you know.  If we find a jewel, we then fear to lose it.'

'So, Plan B?'

'This redoubt is clever.  Many know of it, even know of its location but none have been there except my ... er ... friend.  It invites being attacked.  first it has obvious vulnerabilities and a smart enemy avoids those.  What appears undefended is the difficult way up a cliff but not absolutely impossible for the resolute.  They walk into a trap.'

'Which no doubt other brains as good as ours will also have worked out.'

'Yes but he has something else.  There is an outer defence, a metre thick wall but it can be penetrated by the right armour.  Once inside, the defensive wall to the second zone is less robust.  They break through there into the same trap as the cliff-scaling.  They end up in a holding bay.  He might terminate them but we gas them, drop them into a boat and send it out to sea, minus weaponry. Then we depart.'

V

It was one of the most bizarre meetings.

The pub was insignificant - the Cricketers Arms in Lower Ward Street, large lounge area, plush cubicles with table for four, that sort of thing.  Food ordered, drinks bought, three people got down to business.

Penny Dalshiel opened proceedings. Either she was playing her cards close to her chest or she had no idea whatever who Janine actually was.  Paul Glendinning sipped his drink and listened.

Janine observed her closely as she began her spiel - and spiel it was.  She was Theresa May at thirty, same hair, same sort of face, clearly full of her position today, it might even be said intoxicated by it, she was out to impress by her fast delivery, her satchel of documents, her hardheadedness.

Ms Dalshiel resented Janine - nothing was said of course but Ms Dalshiel couldn't work out why Paul Glendinning had asked if Janine could come along.  Penny would have preferred to snub the other, be dismissive but realized she couldn't very well do that, so it was a series of quite forced glances of acknowledgment in that direction from time to time which got the message across.

To Paul, Penny was just a bullshit artist.  He'd hear what she had to say.

'... so, Mr Glendinning, I'm pretty sure I can deliver your mystery lady to you, if you'd have a word to Mr. Haines at the MoD.  I can help him with the sale of the island.  You might look at these two sheets.'  She handed them across and Glendinning went through them.

'How did you know there was an encumbrance?  How did this come to you?'

'Someone involved in the sale - they can pull this and the island is tied up for years.  Of course, MoD will get it in the end and close to their price but a lot can happen in the space of a few years.'

'And you want me to speak to Joseph?'

'You've seen the documents.  I have others.  I also have the wherewithal to remove those encumbrances.'

'Would one of those encumbrances be a Dan Cornell?'

'That can be discussed at a later date.'

'What do you really want?  If the land goes to the MoD, what's that to you?'

'I'm the one handling the sale.'

'Aim high, don't you?  All right, I'm here strictly on account of my relationship with Joe.  I'll certainly speak with him and we'll go through it.  I can't speak for him but I'd imagine  it's a case of if you can deliver, he might be able to deliver.'

'That's what I'd hoped.  Let me buy the next round.' 

VI

Chloe did not have many visitors, by virtue mainly of Ralph and Frank being inside and the other two being otherwise engaged.  In fact, she'd had no visitors since she'd been inside.

So this one was intriguing and she'd agreed.  Frank's mechanic.  She laughed.  He was shown into the room, she came in the other side, they sat and he began.

'Frank wants to know if you need anything.'

'No.  Fuck off.'

'He meant did you need anything doing, bringing.'

'No.  Fuck off.'

'Uh-huh.'  He rose, nodded to the officer and went out.  Chloe, on the other hand, sat there, watching.

...

Back in his car, the man sat in his driver's seat and wrote in his pad: 'Lady-replied-fuck-off.'  He thought for a moment, then wrote: 'Twice.'

He checked the list - three down, one to go but this next one meant an overnighter to Edinburgh.  Ho hum.

VII

'Astounding place,' Laura let slip from her lips.  'You've had access to this for years?'

'I can rent it, lease it when I need.  I've never needed until now.  There are seven or eight of them for people in certain political positions in Europe - my 'friend' owns this one but they have a loose agreement, all of them.  That's why we can move from one to the other.  If someone is silly enough to blast it with military weapons, it would bring some heavy firepower down on them in turn. 

'There'll be air mattresses and sleeping bags in there for the captured, plus access to a loo.  Food parcels are dropped in throughout the day. We make our demands, give them 12 hours and see what they say.  If they agree to sign an agreement, we drop it down to them.

Once it's signed, we gas them and take them out to sea in a boat, with supplies but minus weapons.  They wake up in the boats and thereafter, it's up to them.

If they won't sign, we tell them they'll be gassed and dropped into a pit where they'll be left with nothing.  If they can get out of it, they live.   Obviously we don't do that - we still gas them and take them out to sea but this is more persuasive.'

'If they come a second time, they'll be much better prepared.'

'Yes but so will we.  We'll not be here. There are eight redoubts.  The second is nothing like the first.   They won't even get near it because the intention will be clear.  We can either take them out at sea and I have no compunction over that or else we let them land and they get caught in the trap.  The second redoubt is more effective. Care to look over the complex?' he asked.

VIII

The piece de resistance was the pool in the middle, from which various living areas extended via little bridges.  It was too naff for him, too cavernous but she liked it.

'You want one?'

'Hell no,' she said, 'but it's lovely for a holiday.'

They disrobed, she slipped into the water while he got the drinks.  'How is it?'

'Warm.'

'Let's relax today and just enjoy ourselves - time enough to worry tomorrow.'

...

They were on the mats with the acrylic cushions behind their heads, swimming and lovemaking done for now.  

'Shall we watch a film?'

'In the pool?'

He waded over, climbed out and grabbed a device, threw two floats in, then waded back, pushing them towards her, pointed the remote at the far wall, a panel opened, a widescreen TV came on, he gave her the remote.

'Press M2.'

She did and the menu came up.   'I can't see all the words.'

'Press T1.'

She did and there were the titles in big text, according to genre.  'What do you like?' she asked and they both realized they didn't know each other's tastes.

'I'm action romance thriller but I'll watch whatever you want.'

'Honestly?'

'Within reason,' he grinned.

'Wars of the Roses?'

'No.  You know why.  You know exactly what to put on.'

She was enjoying it.  'Try this.'

'Ah, Malèna,' he murmured.

...

They'd eaten - there'd been heaps of food in the fridge. In robes on the bed, she asked, 'Finer detail on the hit.'

'I've taken advice from guys in the game.  They're out there now on the water, they suggest it will be airdrop but to get here, it would take some arranging by Johanssen from inside the prison, even allowing for a good chain of command.  People are paid up front in these situations.  I'd say he's been organizing.  I also think he'll also see it as a Phase 1 only - to test out the enemy, as we've said.  It might be Cornell, in which case, we're fucked.  MoD.

'My sources say Cornell will sit back and watch Johanssen first.'

'So Cornell might still be the main problem?'

'No, Cornell is a take no risks person.  He's interested in the prize the easy way.  He'll teach the lesson if he has to but as he's got everything he wanted the easy way, why create collateral?  He'll just watch the show, as will many people.  We're now a sideshow, Miles, I'm afraid.'

IX

'Joe.'

'Paul.'

'I didn't want to discuss it in there - walls have ears.  Park benches are a bit dated but nothing beats them if the hood covers the lips.  In your opinion, can she do this and which one of them is she getting her information from?'

'I'd say follow Cornell's path and we'll find out soon enough.'

'Within the realms of possibility.  Cornell made the contact with the owners, plural, I can give you that one for free; one of them must have had a second conversation, putting him at odds with his fellow rogues.'

'Easy enough to establish and why.  Someone who needs MoD largesse.  Are you watching this Cornell?'

'Like a hawk.  I think he doesn't feel so.'

'He may and is seconding Penny Dalshiel to do the spade work.  Ms Dalshiel, of course, plans to feather her own nest.  All right, Joe, to bring it to your attention was my chief aim - the rest you sort out.'

'You say Ms Dalshiel said she could deliver your mystery lady Emma?'

'On a plate.  Past indiscretions.'

'You need those?'

'I don't but Haas or someone above him seems to and in a big way.  From my point of view, she's eased our caseload.  Do you know anything, Joe?  I'm not asking you to betray secrets.'

'I know nothing more now than when we last spoke on it.  I'd agree with your summation - this Emma is a bit of a godsend - which is why certain people, no I don't know who, would like that situation rectified.'

X

They arrived, not the next day but two days later and as professionals, the assailants tried an unexpected way, up the sheer cliff, straight into the holding pit.

It was pretty straightforward - the refusal to sign, the gas, the bodies trussed up, the opened floor, the rowboat below, cord running to the runabout, out to sea with enough provisions for them to survive, cast adrift, runabout back to the redoubt, all checked over and locked up, rental left on the front table, enough food packed into the gaffer, final door locked, out to sea.

She'd helped him mount the mast, simple enough with three shrouds, the gaff sail was raised, the jib unfurled, he offered her to take the tiller but she shook her head, he came over and sat her down, sat beside her, put her hand on the tiller, moved it one way to show her, moved it the other, she understood, he sat on the side of the hatch and watched her, she began to enjoy it until she pushed too hard and it went into wind, sail flapping around.

He sat beside her again, pushed the tiller until the boat went backwards onto a tack again, went and sat on the side of the hatch, then went below and came up with two beers, twisted the top off both and handed her one.

Within mobile range, he switched on and put through the call to his mate; the voice at the other end explained, he grunted his understanding and switched off.

'What was that?'   She was uneasy.

'The next bit is not nice.  He's going to find out that prison is not quite as safe and under his control as he thinks.  Though he's after me, he's sent an attack on someone else's property.'

'Which you knew and I knew but I admit I didn't see that through. He'll not be killed?'

'He'll recover - this time.   It will be made clear it wasn't me but in his mad mind, as he can't hit my principal, he'll try hitting me. Over to your Plan C.  Speak.'

'More subtle.  It hits him where it hurts.  What does a man like Johanssen care about most?'

'Money, face.'

'Face, yes.  He can always get more money.  What he can't get is another daughter.'

He was appalled.  'That's a thousand times worse than what I did.'

'Yes it is.'

'And your sex call us ruthless.'

'I don't mean physical harm but psychological. He keeps her well out of it in Switzerland, according to my sources.  By all accounts, she's a nice kid.   If she were to be away from the school and come into some danger and you were to rescue her -'

'How?'

'She does social media under a pseudonym, there are photos he doubtless doesn't see, we use a few of these, photoshop you onto them, as if you're talking to her, as if she's smiling and happy -'

'He'd go out of his tree.'

'He would.  He needs to know we have this reach but that we're not monsters, that we could have done as we wished with her little sister as well -'

'Sister?'

'Primary-aged.  What I've spent a long time setting up is getting the older girl to agree with all this.'

'Pardon?'

'She'll be waiting in a neutral place, with someone she trusts with her.  You'll arrive and speak with her.  It's necessary you do make this trip, even though the photo which reaches him is a fake.  Photos on this meeting now won't be used unless they have to be, later. 

Word is that he discarded the girls' mother for some young woman, the mother has a bone marrow issue which costs money which he does provide but not for the operation which would fix the problem - or so it seems.

The daughters, plural, are not impressed with that although they don't know about his activities in general so they still care.   It's fertile ground.   Our bargaining chip is always going to be that we don't use what we have and that he knows that if anything happens to us, it's sent by others.

But even that will only buy us time.  There'll be real resentment.  The only final answer is if the daughter, the love of his life, fronts him and threatens to cut all ties.  So it has to be gently done, Miles.'

'And you have this in place.'

'Yes, plus the plane booked to Zurich.'

'Will all that be enough?'

'No, the carrot is what we'd do for the mother.  More on that later.'

XI

'Wildest dreams' was the best way to describe the result, as in beyond them.

The girl herself, Natalie, was amazing.  Sharp lass, a characteristic her father had in good measure, she sniffed a scam immediately, it hadn't been the first attempt.

It was a bench in a park and she had her Vice-Principal, plus her best friend, a prefect, with her.  The attitude of the Vice-Principal was: 'This had better be good.'  Natalie herself had insisted on this meeting, the younger sister was back at school, the school's position was to hear this man out and then contact the parent.

It was laid out, document by document, with the Vice-Principal keeping a copy of every photo and document.  Whether it was the incontrovertible evidence, whether it was Miles's manner of the victim, whether it was that he was asking so little and was willing to put his own money on the line, ready to write a cheque to the school now - he wasn't sent packing.

'Why would he listen to me?' asked Natalie, when he suggested the video.

'You're his daughter.  If you threaten never to speak to him again, that you don't need his money any more to be at the school, that your mother is being transferred close to where you are, that not only is she being paid for now but that your remaining fees and those of your sister are now being paid, he will bluster but he'll understand and he has to agree.  Only you know if you would really not speak with him again or whether you would.  I don't need to know, I don't want to know.'

'But why, Mr. Forrester,' asked the VP, 'would you go to such lengths?'

'Frankly, we're threatened by Mr. Johanssen.  He has it in his head to punish us.  Though paying for fees and all of this is altruistic, our motives are, to be blunt, to protect our chance of happiness in our upcoming marriage.'  He pulled out the church documents and handed them across, then the copies.

'Our only hope was to show you we're on the level, that this is no scam or game.  Lives depend on this.'

'If he's this bad a man -'

'No, he's not that,' lied Miles and Natalie knew and appreciated it, 'but he does have the wrong end of the stick and we need protection, Natalie's mother needs this money for the operation and the girls need this security.  Mr. Johanssen is not well at the moment - he had a slight accident and we want him to know he has nothing to fear.'

The VP looked at the girl.  'Well, Natalie?'

'I'd be crazy not to.  How?'

'At school, your friend here can deal with it.  I'll leave all that to you, yes?'

'Who will we send it to?'

'It will be intercepted unless it goes to this person -' he handed over a photo and address, with a note on the back. 

Natalie looked at the shot and smiled at the memory, turned it over and read it, then handed it to the Vice-Principal.  'That's fine,' she said.  'I believe you.  I'll do it today.'

'Thanks, Natalie, thanks, ladies.'

He wrote the cheque, the VP pocketed it and then Miles took his leave.

XII

Paul was with Janine in their usual out of office spot, two coffees had gone down the hatch.

'Do we wish to interfere with this sale?' he asked.  'Is it anything to us?'

'The sale?  No.  Doesn't hurt anyone in our sphere.  I'd like to know though who's putting on the pressure from above at this end.'

'You and me both.  Do you read it that Ms Dalshiel can do for our Emma?'

'I wouldn't have said so but now I think it possible.  At a minimum, she'd go to ground and then we're further away than we ever were.'

XIII

'Why the fuck should I speak to you!' Johanssen's look was murder, 'Look at my fucking leg, look at it!'

'Firstly, your daughter told you to speak with me and threatened you if you wouldn't, secondly, your leg was not my doing.  It was his island you attacked.  I had nothing to do with the payback.'

'You have no proof I did that.'

'Don't waste my time. There's another reception awaiting  you when you come out. You won't make it past the first day.  It's my job to still be alive to stop this happening.  You do know I can, don't you?  Now let's get down to business.  We can get part of the seam back for you.' 

His ears pricked up, though he didn't want.  It became too much. 'How much?'

'2%.  We remove Cornell.  Stitch him up.'

'These are words.'

'Do you seriously think I'd go to the lengths I've gone and front you here if I couldn't deliver.  We have Cornell. One moment.'

He went over to the officer, showed him the document, was allowed to proceed, sat down and held it up to the glass.  Johanssen reached for his glasses, strained forward and read it.  He was chortling.'

'Why would you do all this?'

'Because my good lady and I don't want you snuffing us out.'

'You went to these lengths? As I've said many times ... Miles ... you're not a player, are you?  You have me over a barrel and still you won't go in for the kill.  You like the quiet life, don't you?'

'I do what it takes to get it.'

'Yes, all right, you've done that.  Honour's been satisfied, it cost you deep for all this and the prison know this.  I call this a win-win.'

'Thank fuck for that.'

'No doubt you'll still have certain measures in place.'

'I'm not a complete idiot - yes, news of my death or mutilation goes straight to Natalie.'

'Right, we'll leave it at that.  And Miles?'

'Yes?'

'Thank you.'

'One last thing, do you want to see the girls here?'

'No.'

'Thought not.  Natalie asked me to deliver this camcorder, it's been watched by the authorities here.  That's for you tonight.  It's your daughters.  What you need to do is record a reply on the camcorder for her.  You won't be in prison gear, you'll be in the library.  Chaplain or someone will do the filming.  I'll be back in two days to collect at the front desk, I'll not come in here.  It will go Royal Mail in a box to the school.'

'I don't know what to say.'

'Don't say anything, I'd prefer the brownie points.'

'You really do want that quiet life.  Maybe if I make threats every few months, I could get you to do more things.'

'I'll do them anyway - just send word - nicely - and no threats.  You know the clout I still have.  OK, need to go.  You've got some video watching to do.'

The last image Miles had was of a man who had scored a victory and that's how it needed to be.  Word of this would spread like wildfire around the prison. Now he had to, they had to, deliver on their end of the bargain.


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