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   Chapter 7 MARSEILLE

Dead Centre By Owen Jones Characters: 21420

Updated: 2018-02-09 19:01

Genaro's second attack would be a very important one in that there would not be a second chance for a long time, if ever. They had to get the job done properly the first time or millions of dollars would have been spent in vain. However, that was not the only problem, the target would be moving fairly fast as it was a high-speed freight train.

The participant and the suicide jacket were the most important aspects for Bob and Gareg to worry about. They would need a lot of explosive this time, but the good thing was that the hit would take place in a remote spot, so there was hardly any chance of anyone thinking it suspicious, if the bomber was very heavily padded.

It was colder in Germany too and, if luck were on their side, it would be raining as well, which would make wearing an overcoat less conspicuous.

The jacket had already been designed and made, and Richard, the participant, was ready to go even though he was an alcoholic. He was still perfectly usable because he was under a death threat from his doctor, was hurt by the infidelity and departure of his wife and wanted to prove something to her, his family and his friends - namely that he was not a nobody.

The only concern that Richard had was that the solicitor would rip him off and Bob had promised him that he would check up on that a few days after the bankers' draft had arrived.

The courier had taken the jacket over to the continent a week beforehand and stayed with it, which would have given them a chance to try again, should the first one have been found by customs officials, however unlikely that was, since they were shipped dismantled and put in the very fabric of either a private yacht, plane, car or commercial lorry and taken over by a 'friend', who did not know what he or she was carrying.

Bob wanted to get the participant closer to the location about three days before the operation. He could drink as much as he wanted, once he was over there, but he didn't want him going flaky in the UK or talking too much and giving the police enough reason to hold him for suspected terrorist intent.

When he got back from Alabama, Bob went to the farm, told Gareg his plan, put a few clean clothes in his bag and left for Cardiff. He would travel to Manchester the next day on the first available train. He would rather have driven, but they would be going straight from there to the continent and anyway, being with Richard would probably involve lots of drinking, which Bob was not adverse to per se.

Gareg would make his own way over, probably by plane from Rhoose or the nearest airport to where he happened to be which could be anywhere.

Bob checked into the Britannia Hotel on Portland Street in the city centre at midday and put the SIMM card in his phone that he used for talking to Richard.

"Hello, Dicky, how are you doing? Jim here. I just got in. How do you fancy meeting up for a drink right now? I am only here for the one night and I need a chat with you. Are you free?"

"Sure, Jim, it'd be nice to see you again. Where? How about the club at one o'clock?"

"Yes, sure, see you soon, mate."

'The Club' was the ex-Servicemen's Club, Stretford, because Richard knew that 'Jim' did not want to meet his friends 'because of his job'.

The 'Ex's' was quiet, but it could be a real laugh, if the right people were in there. Richard checked what day it was, Tuesday, it would probably be quiet in the afternoon, but they could move on after their talk.

Bob was there first. In fact, he had phoned Richard from there and if Richard had not suggested it, he would have. He knew that he had to be there first, because he hadn't wanted to walk in and find him talking with a bunch of drunks. He wore the disguise that he had always worn when meeting Richard, but there was always the slim chance in clubs like this that he would meet someone he knew from the old days and that they would probably see through him.

When Richard walked in, Bob shouted up two pints and they took them over to a table under a loudspeaker. They shook hands and sat down.

"Well, Jim, what brings you up this way again?"

"You know, Dick. The time has come."

The Juke Box went silent and Bob gave Richard two £1 coins.

"Here, stick them in the Juke Box, will you?"

When he sat down again, he said:

"You mean the Legion has a mission for me?"

"Yes, Dick, but the mission is one of those we talked about. You won't be coming back. You do understand that, don't you?"

"Yes, Jim, I don't want to come back, I'm fed up with my life."

"OK, in that case, we go on the piss today and fly to Germany tomorrow morning. Is that all right with you? Is your passport up-to-date?"

"Yes, it is all set, I'm all set… I could leave right now if you wanted me to."

"No, tomorrow is fine. Do you want to see your mother before you go?"

"No, Jim, it's not necessary, but you will sort out her money for me, won't you?"

"Yes, you have my word on that.. and the money for your mates in 'The City Arms'. Do you want to see them before you go?"

"Yes, if I could, but you don't want to go there, do you?"

"I will admit that it is not wise for me to go there, but I want to stick with you today and until we go on the mission. I will be there with you, but please, promise me, that you won't tell your friends anything about this."

"So, how should I introduce you?"

"Just say that I'm Jim and I'm an old mate from when you worked on the building sites years ago. You were a bricklayer's labourer, right? So, tell them I'm a bricklayer from way back."

"Ready for another, Dick? Oh, by the way, I've booked you into my hotel for the night too. Do you need anything from your flat?"

"No, the social pays the rent and mum's got a spare key. I'll tell her she can have whatever is in there. I'll put it in my letter."

"Good idea." Bob went up to the bar and got two more pints of bitter.

After that one, they took a taxi to 'The City Arms' in Kennedy Street, arriving at two p.m.

"Ach, Rick, you're late on parade again, me old mucker! Find a bit of stuff last night, did you, y' lucky boy?"

"Hiya, John. No, no such luck. I'd like you to meet my old mate, Jim. Jim, this is John."

"Nice to meet you, John, can I get you a drink? I was just about to get one for us."

"Well, I'd like to say 'yes', but I'm brassic until Thursday. I can't afford to get into rounds."

own, but not hard and slipped back a few feet along the roof of the first carriage before he could get a grip of anything. He put one of the hooks attached to his jacket onto something he assumed was for ventilation to give himself a breather.

So far, so good, he thought, that was the most difficult bit and yet he had managed it perfectly, even if everybody thought he was just an alchie deadbeat. He'd show them. If they could only see him now. James Bond had nothing on him!

"Woohooo!" he screamed and began to inch himself forwards. There weren't nearly as many hand-grips as he had been led to believe, but the roof was not slippery and the threat of being thrown off at that speed was not great even on corners, although there were more than a few of those. No wonder the ICE could not travel at full speed, he thought. He looked at the large face of his wristwatch. Four minutes left. He crept forward six inches at a time. He laughed, what was the worst thing that could happen? He would fall off, break every bone in his body and live! The thought amused him and he pressed on.

He looked up and an insect hit him in the eye causing him pain. He could see the next bridge in the distance. There was a man on it and he seemed to have spotted him. Richard kept moving forward and when he got to the point where he thought the engine joined the carriage he was on, he looked up waved at the man on the bridge, reached under his chin and pulled the top button and Richard was no more.

The man on the bridge later said that four things had happened almost at once: there was a huge fireball, a cloud of pink mist, the train derailed, skidding for two hundred yards into the surrounding woods bringing down hundreds of trees, and a man's head hit the wall of the bridge and stuck there.

Thirty of Genaro's best men had come out of their hiding places in the woods on motorcycles. They raced along after the train once it had passed them like the 'Hole in the Wall Gang' in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. They were on the scene a minute after the train had stopped moving, placed their explosives on the exact carriage they wanted and opened it up. Then they blew the strong boxes and removed the old bank notes, stuffing them into the large rucksacks that each man wore. Then they scrambled up the bank and got into a waiting lorry, which drove them away.

Gareg and Bob heard the explosion although they were already heading away from the wreckage by then. They clinked bottles and drove on.

"Here, Bob, do something with this will you?"

He handed Bob the walkie-talkie. Bob took the battery out, cleaned it off and threw it out the window into the woods and then did the same with the handset.

"We've time for a spot of lunch in town before our flight, if you like, Bob. I didn't eat too well this morning."

"Yes, I fancy going somewhere swanky. What do you think?"

"OK, swanky it is. Any suggestions?"

"No, except to enter 'five star restaurant' into the SatNav and see what it comes up with."

He did just that.

"It recommends… well, the first one up is 'Der Bonner Hof' behind the Rathaus."

"That sounds good enough for me. Punch it in, and let's set sail for the 'Bonner Hof behind the rat house'. We've got three and a half hours to kill, or two and a half anyway before check in at the airport.

"We could have a couple of bottles of German wine. Yes, I fancy some sp?tlese. A couple of bottles of that each, leave the car there for the hire company and take a taxi to the airport."

The meal was excellent and when it was over, Gareg asked the waiter to phone them a taxi. He said that he wanted to go back to his hotel, the Marriott. The waiter predicted ten minutes. Gareg paid the bill and gave the car keys to Bob who took them to the receptionist so that if she had to describe to anyone the person who had given them to her, the description would not tally with the hire firm's description of the man who had hired the car. Bob told her that he had already phoned the car hire company and told them to pick the keys up from the restaurant's reception. He hadn't, but by the time she had gotten around to ringing the company to remind them, he and Gareg would already be in Marseille and out of harm's way.

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