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   Chapter 11 THAILAND

Dead Centre By Owen Jones Characters: 24493

Updated: 2018-02-09 19:02


Sean had the money made over to Gareg's Swiss bank account the very next day because he was a man of his word, he was impressed with the Dead Centre Agency's style and he had made his investment back forty times over without a single casualty to his men.

As far as Sean was concerned, it was one of the best deals he had ever made in his life, if not the best.

Several days after the money arrived during which he had some dealings with a Dutch bank, Bob left for Coventry to fulfil his promises to Peter. It was the most pleasurable part of the job to him. It satisfied his sense of honour, because he was discharging his pledge to a brave comrade and making someone happy.

It did not matter to him that he rarely told the truth to the beneficiaries, because they wouldn't really want to hear it and he didn't see it as part of his job. He always read the participant's letter to his family, but had never had to censor one for giving him or Gareg away. He always read the letters carefully though, because they suggested the angle that he should take when explaining someone's disappearance to a relative.

Peter and he had opened a joint bank account in Amsterdam and Gareg had already transferred $500, 000 into it. Then Bob had written a letter to the bank manager and spoken to her on a video phone link relinquishing ownership of his half of the account in favour of Peter's mother. The account had been set up so that either one of the holder's signatures was sufficient to withdraw money and so Mrs. Stevens, Peter's mother, was now effectively the sole owner of its contents.

Now all he had to do was tell her the good news.

Peter had written his farewell letter in a last will and testament style, so Bob took his cue from that and wrote:

Dear Mrs. Stevens, My name is Jimmy Carter, but it is not my real name. I have almost forgotten what that is, but I was your son, Peter's commanding officer in the French Foreign Legion up until our joint retirement earlier this year. It just so happened that we retired together, it was not planned.

In fact, Peter was invalided out, but I had to leave because of my age.

Peter had to leave because of a terminal illness that he had contracted while on active service in Africa, and I chose to help look after him until the end came which was mercifully quickly on August 7th this year.

Peter spoke of you often and asked me to make sure that you received his savings, back pay and life assurance money, which you can access using these cheque books. You and he are, or were, joint account holders, so everything is above board.

Your son was very ill, but painkillers were a great relief and his last days were happy ones.

I feel very privileged to have known your son and am glad that circumstances allowed me to spend Peter's last few weeks with him.

Please, do not try to trace me, as you will find the task an impossible one anyway. Try instead to enjoy the not inconsiderable sum that Peter has left you.

His last thoughts were of you and his last letter is enclosed.

My Highest Regards, Jimmy Carter, French Foreign Legion, Commandant, retired.

Bob put the two letters and two cheque books in a Jiffy Bag and took a taxi to the bar nearest to Peter's mother's house. He knew from conversations with Peter that she lived alone and usually went to bed at ten o' clock, so he stayed in the bar until closing time, which was midnight, walked to her house and put the envelope through the door when he could see that there were no lights on except the one in the hall, which Peter had said she left on all night to deter burglars.

Bob drove back to Cardiff the next morning in a hire car which he handed back there before continuing on to Haverford West by train. Gareg picked him up from the station.

"Did everything go all right, Bob?"

"Yes, as sweet as a nut. I would like to have seen what the old dear looked like, but I was there at the wrong time of day and didn't really want to hang around."

"Are they still blaming the museum on the Real IRA?"

"Yes, but they are beginning to wonder why they haven't claimed responsibility yet. It takes a while to sink in, you know what they're like and they've got to have someone to blame, even if it is later proved they blamed the wrong ones. It looks better than not having any suspects at all, eh?

"The Real IRA are carrying out the old practice NCND – say nothing – so they gain a little kudos and fear, although they did nothing to earn it. At least, not as far as we know. We don't actually know who employed us, and probably never will… not that I care.

"I've been thinking, how long do you reckon we can keep getting away with this, Bob?"

"Tricky one, isn't it? Who knows when he's on his last mission? Except a suicide bomber, of course. So far, no-one seems to have twigged that they are not religiously motivated bombings!"

"Well, we don't actually know what they are thinking, do we? We're not in the loop any more, but maybe I can find out what they think about the last one. I still have a few friends in Intelligence in Northern Ireland. I think I'll pop over there and ask a few casual questions.

"After that, what say we go away on holiday? Somewhere nice, hot and sexy?"

"Thailand! We had a great holiday there last time and we haven't been there for… oh, almost ten years."

"Yes, I loved Thailand too! OK, Thailand it is. We can do a tour or just stay in one or two places, whatever we like. Why don't you do a bit of groundwork while I'm in Northern Ireland?"

"Good idea. Nothing on for a while, have we?"

"There are one or two in the pipeline, but nothing firm, no. How about participants?"

"We've got two ready to go and that new one in South Africa I went to see recently. We could send him on a course while we're away, just to keep things moving along."

"I'll leave that up to you, Bob."

Gareg phoned his friend to make sure that he was still in Belfast and asked if they could meet up the following day as he had to go there on business.

They met in the bar of the 'Ten Square Hotel' in the centre of Belfast.

"You must be doing all right if you can afford to stay here, Gareg, " said his friend and ex-associate, Tom Sage.

Gareg got up and they shook hands warmly.

"Let's take a table somewhere quiet, Tom. Nice to see you again. How have you been keeping? Actually, it's quite reasonable here. £150 for dinner, bed and breakfast. That's not bad at all and it's deductable."

"Anyway, I'm fine, but as busy as hell with the museum bombing, which is why I won't be able to spare you long. I'm on my lunch break now.

"What can I do for you?"

"A drink first. What do you want?"

"Oh, thanks, er, a small Paddy's on the rocks, please,. I have to go back to work."

Gareg ordered two from the waiter who stood nearby.

"In a way, that is what I wanted to talk to you about. One of the businesses I have is an employment agency and we are thinking of opening a branch over here in Belfast, but in light of that recent bombing, well, not to put too fine a point on it, we are thinking of scrapping the idea.

"They are saying that it was the Real IRA, is that true? Is Belfast going to become a hell hole again?"

"If you are asking me whether the Troubles are starting up again, I have to say th

o frame by frame.

"Here is the second of detonation. All right, now if we go back five seconds… yes, here, look at this man, I am assuming that it is a man, sir. The image is not clear, because it is out of focus. He could be twenty to thirty metres away, behind the bomber. Now, watch him carefully.

He advanced the video frame by frame.

"See! He ducks behind the counter between one and two seconds before the explosion."

"Yes, lieutenant. He was either a very lucky man to have had his shoelaces come undone at that precise second or he knew that it was going to happen."

"Yes, sir. Perhaps we can get a better look at him from some of the other cameras."

"Very good, lieutenant, very good work indeed. Take it upon yourself to identify any other cameras that will give us better coverage of our new suspect and bring the video from them to me so we can see why he bent down at such an opportune moment."

Clearer footage from closer cameras revealed a shortish, very broad man dressed in the custom of a local Arab. He had a black moustache and a white headdress. He certainly looked Arabic, but then so had the bomber, who they now knew was Caucasian. The questions now were was this man Caucasian as well and was he helping in some way?

No earpiece had been found and they had no idea why a suicide bomber would need to have an accomplice so nearby anyway, but then they hadn't realised that for the live video feed from the bomber to be captured and forwarded to the client, someone had to be within range to receive it.

"This is Captain Allawi of the Iraqi National Police Force in Baghdad, is that Detective Inspector O'Donnaghue?"

"Yes, D.I. O'Donnaghue speaking, Captain, to what do I owe this pleasure?"

"I have been watching video footage of your museum bombing and wondered whether you had any opinions about it. Please excuse my English if I do not express myself correctly."

"You are doing very well, Captain. At least, I understand the words, but I do not understand your interest in our bombing."

"Since our suicide bombing in a Baghdad department store, when the perpetrator dressed as an Arab, but was in fact Caucasian, I have been asking for all cases involving Caucasian suicide bombers to be copied to me.

"Did you know that you had sent me a copy?"

"No, I didn't, but I don't mind."

"There is also a French police officer in Marseille who had a Caucasian suicide bomber. Yours is the third that I know of. Would you like to be kept in the loop too?"

"Yes, why not? Where can I obtain copies of the other bombings from?"

"Interpol is the easiest way. I think we may be dealing with an organised gang here which uses or coerces others to act as suicide bombers for them, but as yet I don't know how they do it or why exactly the bombers do it either.

"D.I. O'Donnaghue, your footage came over with no notes whatsoever except location, time and date, would you be prepared to have all your notes emailed to me personally at our police station and I will do the same for you? I will also pass on the contact details of the Marseille National Police and you can arrange a similar exchange of information with Captain Ursine.

"We suspected an accomplice in the French bombing, but your footage confirmed it without a doubt in my view, so we looked at our bombing again and I think we have spotted an accomplice too. An officer is typing up a report as we speak, so I will have that sent to you this afternoon as well."

"Great. Thank you for your call, Captain Allawi, I'll make sure you receive our dossier today and I'll look forward to receiving yours. I'll give the French guy a bell too.

"Goodbye for now and thanks again."

D.I. O'Donnaghue found the new information interesting rather than helpful. After all, he already knew that his bomber had an accomplice and he already knew that the motive for his bombing was robbery. He was not going to rely on foreigners to solve his suicide bombing for him whether they were related or not, and he was not convinced that they were, but he was happy if his case notes helped other police officers to catch other criminals in other countries.

He was hoping that Special Branch would come up with some new ideas or that a snout would give one of his officers a tip.

Meanwhile, the Germans were still working on their own, although they had put all their files into the Interpol database, in case they could be useful to someone or someone could help them, since big crime did not stick to borders in continental Europe as it tended to in the British Isles and Ireland.

They had come to the unhelpful conclusion that someone had accidentally detonated a bomb he was in the process of planting in order to derail the train for the purpose of robbing it, but they had not worked out how they thought he had been planning to escape the blast.

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