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   Chapter 8 THE NETWORK

Dead Centre By Owen Jones Characters: 23074

Updated: 2018-02-09 19:01


Gareg and Bob flew into Marseille and were picked up by Genaro's Rolls Royce as before.

"Hello, Genaro, what's the latest news? We know absolutely nothing except that our man landed safely on top of the express and that there was an explosion, but the train was out of view by then."

"It is not over yet, old man, but everything has gone pretty well so far. Your man actually achieved the best result possible. He derailed the train. A de-coupling would have been the next best thing, but the train may not have come to a halt for several kilometres.

"Would you like a drink? Of course you would. George, champagne for our guests and myself and something light to eat. Canapés or sandwiches, an assortment, see what chef can rustle up."

"Yes, sir, at once." He poured three glasses of champagne, handed them round on a tray, pushed the trolley with the ice bucket to within reach of the table and left to talk to the chef.

"Now, where was I? Oh, yes… Well, I had a visual from the camera in the vest like last time, but the picture was not good at the start. I assume that my man receiving the footage was slightly too far away, but once the train came into view of the bridge after yours the picture was perfect. No audio, but you don't do that, do you? No, I thought that's what you said. Anyway, it is not necessary, I suppose.

"Your man waved at my man on the bridge just before he pulled the pin. There's a bit of trivia for you that you couldn't have known or were you receiving the signal too?"

"No, we don't normally watch the mission taking place. It is only for the client's benefit, to show that we did our best. So, our man waved at your man on the bridge and then blew himself up and…?"

"Well, my video feed went dead too, of course, but the man on the bridge said that there was a huge ball of fire, a cloud of pink mist, bits of the bomber flew off in all directions like helicopter blades, then the train wobbled and derailed. It skidded through the woods for a few hundred metres chopping down trees right, left and centre.

"Then my men got there, took the money with no resistance at all and made their get-away in a truck that was waiting for them near the bridge. We had it jacked up as if he was changing a wheel, you know?"

"So, no trouble then?"

"Oh, I didn't say that, but there wasn't much."

"There was a helicopter that saw the whole thing – on fire watch or something – but the pilot didn't know what he was looking at until the train blew up and derailed. Even then he didn't suspect that it was a raid, until my men arrived and robbed the thing, but he did notify the police of the derailment. It meant that they got there a few minutes earlier than we had anticipated.

"One police car got to the scene just as our guys were leaving and gave chase, but a grenade lobbed out of the back of the lorry soon stopped that. We dispersed into five cars and the chopper could only follow one. That was a bit hairy, but the driver lost him in the city, hired another car and everyone is on their way home as we speak.

"They are already in northern France in convoy. They will be here tonight. I don't know how much we got, but the report said that they left only what they couldn't carry. We got twenty military rucksacks full of high-denomination, used Euro banknotes from all over Europe. We went up to get ten to eleven million Euros. That'll keep the wolves from the door, as you say. For a while, at least."

"Oh, yes! Apparently, the your man's head came off like a ball out of a cannon and smacked into the stone wall a few feet below my man. He said it stuck there like a gargoyle on a cathedral. Wha, ha, ha, ha, ha!"

Neither Gareg nor Bob thought the story was at all funny, but they smiled out of politeness, because Genaro was a friend. It was one of those gory stories that soldiers often told.

"So, he, Richard, did a good job then?" said Gareg speaking what Bob was thinking as well. "He accomplished what he was required to do, what he promised to do? You can't ask more of any soldier, whether he has taken the Queen's Shilling or not." Gareg held up his glass. "God's Speed, Richard!" and they all paid their tribute to him.

This was quite a tense time for Genaro and would be until his men got back with his money, but as far as Gareg and Bob were concerned, their job was over and they were not worried that they wouldn't get paid for it. For all they knew, the money had already been transferred. It was not an issue.

If they had one concern, it was only a very minor one and that was whether they might be suspected of being two of the train robbers, which every man flying out of Essen that day might well be. Although it was 'standard practice' to stay put and lay low for a week after a high-profile job like this, they had decided to risk leaving immediately. Having served in the SAS could also draw attention to them, but the chances of this happening were very remote and they had taken every precaution possible short of using fake passports.

However, if push came to shove, they knew that they could concoct alibis for their whereabouts.

Genaro clicked the television on.

"There was a piece on a 'derailment in Germany' an hour ago, but no video. Let's see if there's anything on it now. There may be something on the six o' clock news. I can get every station in Europe on this thing. Maybe every station in the world – I wouldn't be surprised."

"Yes, I've never seen so many satellite dishes outside an airport, " said Bob.

"Most of them are redundant now, as it happens, because of the Internet. I should get some of them taken down. Ugly things, thanks for reminding me. George, remind me to get, er, what's-his-name to take down any satellite dishes I no longer need."

"Sir."

"There, look, aerial photos of the train lying on its side with a huge swathe of trees pointing away from it for two hundred metres."

The commentator only said that there were rumours of an explosion, but otherwise the derailment was a mystery and there was nothing about the robbery.

"Have you had any heat over the assassination of your rival?"

"No, nothing official, 'though my sources inform me that I am number one on their list of suspects, but they can't move yet 'lest they give me advanced warning of their intentions' and I start preparing my defence. I ask you! Do they think that I wouldn't be preparing my defence whether I had done it or not? I was bound to be the number one suspect, but they think that I will be forewarned by their acting now? Bloody idiots!"

"You have men in there then, Genaro?"

"Yes, I have men and women in the justice departments, all of them, in and around Marseille and other capo's have their informants and we all share relevant information of a threatening kind. We are like a huge creature made up of individual segments. You can kill one and that migh

, Miss Jones and Mr. James, the clerk, will sort you out."

"I'd like to hear you tell her to do it if you don't mind, I am very pushed for time."

Mr. Johnson gave the instructions and Bob stood up to leave.

"Thank you for your help, Mr. Johnson."

When they arrived at Mrs. Adams' house, Bob introduced them and said that he was the friend of Richard's who had called that morning.

"The last time I saw him, a few days ago, he asked me to make sure you got this cheque. Mr James, if you please."

They weren't sure whether the old woman was going to remain conscious. When she saw the sum, she let out a yelp.

"Where is Richard? How did he get all this money and why is he giving it to me?"

"When I last saw Richard, he was on a train in Germany preparing to do a job. He said that he wanted you to have this and he sent a few thousand over for his mates in the City Arms to have a drink on him. Perhaps he won it on the lottery?"

"He was so down, so ill, the last time I saw him …" said his mother. "We were all so worried about him."

"Well, there's no need to worry about him now and I can promise you that he is no longer sick in the slightest. Anyway, you get that cheque in the bank as soon as you can and don't tell anyone about it. We have to be going now, don't we, Mr. James?

"I doubt if we'll meet again, Mrs. Adams, but I'm sure you will see Richard again one day. Bye, and take care with that money. Mr. James, have you got a card for the lady, in case she needs someone's assistance?"

"Yes, certainly." He handed her a business card. "Call any time if you need us, Mr. Adams."

She showed them out to Mr. James' car and they drove to the City Arms. Bob was wondering whether anyone would recognise him. He gave it a fifty-fifty chance. Once inside they kept out of view of the locals as much as they could, or Bob did anyway.

"Is the landlord in?" he asked the bar girl.

"He's on lunch. Who wants to know?"

"Tell him I got a big cheque for him, but I can't hang about long. It's on account of an old friend's promise. I'm delivering it for him."

She picked up the house phone.

"He'll be right down. Can I get you anything?"

"A pint of Black Label, please. How about you, Mr. James? What's your Christian name?"

"John."

"OK, John, I'm Jim. What are you having?"

John looked at his watch, "Oh, I'm not sure, it's…"

"Don't be such a wuss."

"OK, a half of lager, please."

"Another pint, please. Don't tell me you're thinking of going back in to work? Leave your car with the landlord, have a free afternoon on the lash and get a taxi home. Pick your car up tomorrow. They'll take care of it for you."

"Hello, did you want to see me?"

"Yes, you remember Richard? Used to sit with that lot over there? He gave us this to give you."

Bob held up John's hand with the cheque in it. The landlord went to take it, but Bob pulled John's hand back.

"No, not yet. The money is for his mates, not for you. You just look after it until it's gone. Will you take care of my friend's car if he leaves it here tonight?"

"Sure, tuck it in by mine, the red Prius, so the cameras are on it."

"OK, there you go, John, but first we have another pleasant job to do. Come with me."

They walked around the corner of the bar. A few of the boys looked at them, but most didn't bother.

"Hi, boys, remember me? Jim, a friend of Richard's… He gave us a little something for you. Hold it up, John. A cheque for five thousand knicker, to be drunk by his mates behind the bar of this pub, that he liked so much."

They came over and looked incredulously at the cheque.

"Where is he?" asked one.

"I never believed he'd do it, " said another.

"I'm afraid I can't answer any of your questions because I honestly don't know where he is. Could be in Heaven or in Hell for I know, but he asked us to make sure you got this. By the way, this gentleman is John and he is from the firm of solicitors who helped get you your money. I hope you will make him feel welcome this afternoon.

"Give the landlord the cheque, John, then I'd go and move your car if I was you. Come on then, landlord, drinks for all of Richard's mates and you make sure he can bloody well hear your wish him good health."

Bob slipped out halfway through his next pint, hailed a taxi and went back to his hotel for his things. He wanted to fly out that evening, otherwise he'd hire a car and drive. He didn't mind which way it went. Bob was pleased to have made so many people happy and fulfilled his promises. Besides, he liked driving anyway and always had.

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