18 Betrayal

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The brouhaha, the fallout, the in-camera court cases, the total lack of any media coverage either side of the channel or around the world – all of it simply passed into local folklore and internet conspiracy theories before shutdowns in each country.

The samizdat knew but the bulk of the people knew nothing except that terrorists had been foiled, they never heard that a major dinner in the Hague had been de-paedoed in one fell swoop.  The official line was that these were turf wars, the principals taking one another out, nothing to see here.

.o0o.

Four people sat in the salon of their new launch in a north-western harbour … the boat had been completed two days earlier … ironclad in places, with wooden upper deck and coach roof, pretty as a picture, kept in another harbour during the unpleasantries but now here dominating this harbour,  68 feet long, only 19 feet wide … she looked swift and was.  

With the patrons now controlling half the fishing vessels, still run by local skippers, terms generous to the skippers, maybe it was the first stability in that harbour in a long, long while.

Miles had sufficient remaining vessels to keep the income ticking over and that was the situation when this high summit of the four took place.

On the wall of the salon between the two doors leading aft was a portrait, a local artist had taken the last known living photograph and painted in oils from it – it suited the brasswork and panelling throughout the craft.  Of course it was Sarah.

Her decision to ignore Gabby’s and the MC’s call to get out of the hall, her own mission to stay to complete the job in The Hague had been the fatal moment.  They acknowledged it was a quite ‘Sarah’ way to have gone, the last visual was her on the floor, in blood, crossing herself.  Church laity worldwide knew that Lady Sarah had been martyred, the Vatican of course ignored it.

Though the wharf had not been officially renamed in Sarah’s honour – of course not – the locals all referred to it as Sarah Daniels wharf and the warehouse had a plaque near that point on the door where she’d been near-martyred that night.  

The council removed it each time it went up, another took its place.  Jenny was watery eyed that her sister’s legacy was thus commemorated. 

An Austrian film crew with a chap named Martin Selner was arriving, their boat would need to tie up alongside, run the interview and then get out of there.  Leyton would assume, of course, officially, that they would register their visit.

Herr Selner asked the four players to just tell their stories, who would go first?

Laura would. ‘There had to be constant double-crossing and triple-crossing for the scheme to work, it was essential.  Sarah’s agenda was that she’d been ruined by these people, easy prey, thinking she’d found her true love.  That’s for her sister Jenny to tell later.  As for me, I’ve always had this fascination with the M72 LAW, which you can easily read about online …’

‘We know nothing of such weapons of course,’ smiled Martin, ‘being essentially a peaceful movement.’

‘Well of course, that’s well established and sadly, nor was I allowed to fire it, more’s the pity.  But someone must have fired it from the dinghy.’  They smiled, knowing fullwell who that had been.  ‘Jenny and I were never going over to The Hague, far too well known, they would have taken us.’

‘Leyton?  Your take?’

‘Right, well as Laura was about to say, we wanted that mothership badly, Laura was sure she’d ‘lost a yard or two’, but was still useful in close.  We were in dark outfits, faces blacked, waiting for the show to open, we received word, I passed it onto one of the special forces boys, not a clue who he was.  The two across the channel were Miles and Jenny.’

‘That was a risk in itself, given the last time.’

‘Yes and no.  They’ll explain why. This thing was impeccably organised by your lot and by that, I mean that plans could be changed rapidly to meet contingencies.’

‘Not our lot, Leyton, we’re peaceful and unarmed, these were special forces.  So we believe.’  Smiles all round. ‘All right,’ asked Martin, ‘Miles or Jenny?’

‘Ladies first,’ said Miles.

Jenny was suddenly shy.  The other three cajoled her into saying something. ‘For Sarah,’ they told her.

‘Well, as you might know, my field, despite what people think, is computers, and Miles is a capable user. He can code a bit, he was my assistant.  So that was our job, away from the real action, we can’t say even now where we were stationed – our job was to jam their jamming of our coverage.  It did fool them for long enough.  I heard our friend the MC, as we call him, warn Sis to get out, she knew she had to go, Gabby also warned her, sharply but she also knew Sarah’s personal mission, I was kept out of that.  I understand why.’

They all paused and Laura moved up to her for awhile. ‘I know you guys have to go soon,’ said Laura, ‘maybe you can move onto Miles.’

‘Not a lot for me to add really.  Jenny did her thing, I helped, we kept our own communications open though they were trying to shut us down.  We had various IT people with us.  Russians.  That was about it, until Jenny saw that happen with Sarah. The organisers and MCs were heroes. That’s about it.’

‘Yes, and free peoples welcome it very much,’ spoke Martin.  ‘What’s next?’

‘Ah, well that’s where we’re going to disappoint you.  We don’t know.  We’re about to discuss it all now, complete reorganisation, even of our personal lives.  Another drink? More nibbles?’

They thanked the four but no, they shook hands and quickly departed.

.o0o.

‘So, here we are,’ said Miles, unnecessarily.

Silence.

‘Laura?’

‘Hell this is tough, it really is.  Let’s cut to the chase, we all know that this overrides any strategic meetings about missions. The two central people here are Miles and me, we agreed to let the Jenny-Miles thing and Leyton-me thing to go ahead, just to see how it sat with us.  Miles and I talked long and hard last night as well, we agreed that the already established social unit here is us, we’re partners, we’re still betrothed as he puts it.  If we decide to stay partners, then that’s it.

We would have to part from the other two though, and that’s too painful.  Yet we’ve held off actually marrying.  All the way along with us, there were things in the mix, issues like temperament, I admit prospects too but mainly visions of the future. We decided to hear you two today before announcing anything … but we are going to announce something.

Thing is, we’ve both now spoken deeply with the other two as well, quite personally, talked it all out.  But we’re still going to wait until we hear you speak.  We did make love last night, Leyton and I, you both knew it was going to be so.  Miles?’

‘What Laura said.  Were there just us, no doubt in my mind we’d just keep on as we are.  But it’s not just us in this, and that’s the thing.’

‘That’s so,’ said Laura. ‘Not the slightest trouble us continuing, Miles and I, in principle, if he’d ever forgive me for last night.  Jenny?  Leyton?’

Jenny went first.  ‘I live in the forward cabin, there are three cabins as you know – two doubles and a guest room, a twin.   That forward cabin means far more to me than you might imagine. For what is really a homeless person working for her country, that cabin has become home to me, it means so much. Also, this boat is named the Sarah Marie Daniels, we all insisted on putting equal money in, so it’s also our boat, the four of us, together with her.  Laura’s my best female friend, my only female friend now.  You see how she mothers me.’

‘Smothers you more like.’

‘Mothers, smothers, I sense tick tock within our Laura too and she wants it done right. What I’m trying to say here is that this is all so important to me right now but more important is if Miles and Laura stay a unit, which they should.  I believe in firm unions, no cheating, I believe people should be true … and if they’re sure, they should marry.

What I’m saying is that how I feel about this boat and all your friendships should never be a factor between Laura and Miles.  Really it should not.  They must decide for themselves, not on our say-so.  And yet we’re not naive, are we, any of us?’

‘You’d join with Miles tomorrow if the path were clear?’ asked Laura.

‘Yes I would, in a heartbeat. But I’m zero threat if you two stay as one, I really do mean that.  In fact, I’d be your biggest supporter as an item.  If for some reason Miles was silly enough to throw all that in for me, then it severely unbalances the boat, the partners four.  Enough.  Leyton?’

‘Hmmmm,’ said Leyton. ‘This is heavy stuff, I feel a heel for feeling as I do but I love Laura.  That’s it.  I tried not to succumb until we agreed no holds barred last night.  As for property, were Laura to go with me, in my book Miles owes nothing, I don’t want that, I don’t want Laura going that route because firstly, it brings in legalities and secondly, my worth, for what it’s worth, is in property, not in business, I can sign a place over to Laura just like that if she insisted she needed her own.  Legally hers. 

And so it really comes back to Laura.  I’m not sure how Miles would feel after that, I’m not as angelic as Jenny.  Two pairs on this boat?  Forever?  Hmmmm, really not sure about that, looking years down the track.  What Laura said about temperament … I think this is what it’s going to come down to in the end.’

‘Right,’ said Laura, ‘I see I have to make another statement.  It started with Miles and me as instant affinity but it was also circumstances, it’s blossomed since then.  I want that to continue in one way, I want Jenny here as my best friend, but not as a threat.  Leyton has also been critical in our lives … and now to me.  If he and I became one, we could not stay in this harbour, that’s for sure, it belongs to Miles.  And Jenny really.

I do think temperament is the issue, health too, and that means prospects anyway, plans, lack of them, it’s what loyalty means, fidelity – that’s what will decide this.  On sex, to be honest … look, I’m happy either way, both would be good.  Point is, I’d not be looking around.  Just thought I’d mention that.’

‘We did and we didn’t,’ cut in Jenny.  ‘We went up to that point, we now know how it would be if we had.  We have a bit different view on it to you two, at least I do and Miles would go along with me. What do our hearts really want?  That’s the issue here.’

Laura had been listening attentively.  ‘OK, we’re going to cut this knot now. Miles and I feel the best solution for all of us, for our futures, for our livelihoods, the one which is kindest to everyone, is for Leyton and I to become an item and we’d start by exchanging our part of the launch here for two small smaller vessels, less magnificent if you like, which leaves this launch in the hands of Miles and Jenny – Leyton and I feel that shore based property is more secure, whereas we know both Miles and Jenny have this launch and this harbour in their souls, for obvious reasons.  Jenny doesn’t need reminding 24/7 of Sis but it’s still nice to be thereabouts … we know Sis loved it here too.’

‘Yes she did,’ murmured Jenny, overwhelmed.  She burst into tears and it was Laura who did the job again.

‘We know the two boats Laura and Leyton have in mind as exchange,’ said Miles, ‘I of course vacate Leyton’s second home in Lytton, I do have a very modest cottage further north if it ever came to it, I haven’t even told Jenny about this yet,’ her eyes lit up through the tears, ‘Laura and I said our farewells as a unit last night but of course, we go as friends.’

‘Yes, yes we do, emphatically Miles.’

Leyton was just plain relieved.  Apparently, as Miles had told Jenny, certain patrons had also suggested that it might be easier to breath the air if Plod or ex-Plod were not constantly in the harbour.

.o0o.

They’d agreed for the last night that Laura and Leyton would have the aft cabin, he and Jenny the for’ard, it was late evening, Jenny asked him to sit on the bed with him and be quiet.  

She pointed to the wall abutting the loo next door and said, ‘Come with me, you’re going to discover one of my quirks now, Miles.’  She led him out of their cabin to the loo, in which two could barely fit. She pointed to various places, pulled open the panelling which she’d obviously already removed once and he caught his breath.  She took her nail clippers from her bath bag and handed them to him, he crouched down and did the required snipping of the transmitter.

They returned to the cabin, Jenny went for documents she’d not shown him before – psychiatric assessment, various deaths she was investigated for – he saw Neil Joseph among those, and now she showed her family files.  Older brother who’d died, then her sister and her, plus a later child of her mother, a boy.  Father had run off early, booze, abusive when drunk, mother still alive, she’d come back to her mum later.

‘Leyton will have found out my brother was stabbed by Sarah. He’ll find out I have no previous for anything – violence, drugs, nothing.  Miles, I tried to keep the peace, he can discover that.  I keep my mum very well protected, she won’t come to the wedding but I’ll take you to a meeting place and you two can meet and talk before it.  I have no babies, I really am a virgin to the species called man, as I said, but that doesn’t mean you’ll find me intact – you catch my drift?

All I’ve told you explains my ‘surly’ and ‘taciturn’ temperament.  I’ve taken a chance that this won’t put you off, I’ve reasoned that you’re a man who judges differently.  At least I can only trust so.  If you wish to sever ties with me now, I’ll understand.’

He took her in his arms and it was ten minutes before they came up for air.

.o0o.

‘Laura was right,’ said Jenny, ‘about temperament, about pace, about morals, about things in general.  You think so?’

‘Yep, sad in a way because of my now broken commitment but yes, I agree.’

‘Can you hear that noise at the stern?’

‘Certainly can.  Bring your gun, conceal it.’

They made their way through the salon in the middle of the boat and there was Laura taking things up onto deck, she knew she had to say something.

‘We didn’t want to disturb you two with messy farewells, we thought it best to go now and send the dinghy back tomorrow morning.  Are you OK with that?’

‘Fine, fine,’ said Miles.  ‘Most decent of you and we’ll get together soon, maybe at Madeleine’s.’

‘Madeleine’s … yes, of course.  Have to go now, bye.’  She blew kisses and was gone.

They watched through a porthole in the darkened salon, the two of them headed for the wharf and were picked up by car.  Miles and Jenny went back to bed, collecting drinks and nibbles along the way.

‘Jenny, are you the suspicious type?  More suspicious than I am because you were no one’s partner?  I’m thinking of that microphone.’

She was ahead of him. ‘Check your grab bag, Miles, I’ll check mine.  Our night lamps here are on timer anyway. I’m sure you know all this but keep down close to the floor, except to switch the salon lamp on, one arm reaching up.  We then crawl ever so carefully, on all fours, towards ‘their’ cabin, looking for wires.  Ok?’

‘Ok.’

They crawled on all fours, slowly, Miles had the flashlight, he pointed, saying, ‘Stop here.’ 

She had already. ‘Trigger wire,’ said she, ‘across the cabin entrance but who was helping them?  I suspect there’ll be a wire outside, across each sidedeck, the ones leading back to the dinghies.’

‘We do have the inflatable inside in the cupboard if we need it.  Actually, I think we need it, let’s get off the boat now, call Luke, the patron’s man who’ll be on call, usually is, see what he says.  I’d say he’ll phone Paul, their explosives man …’

‘Paul?’

‘I’m not disarming it myself … and nor are you.’

‘Wouldn’t dream of it.

II

Paul whistled once he saw the whole-device wiring, including the engine bay, it was going to take immense patience, he needed to be alone, were they ok with that?  Were they ever.

III

The Patron had also sent two of his boys who were now, once Paul was done, to circumnavigate the boat while Miles, Jenny and Paul went to a cafe in a town two over from Lytton, Paul had double checked the cafe had no connection with Leyton, the police or Leyton’s known friends – in fact, probably the opposite, truth be told.

They could go on board only one at a time for sustenance.

.o0o.

Here they were. Miles asked Paul to speak, they ordered some more victuals, Paul spoke.

‘Wired by a professional, he’d doubled up on linkages, it may have been one of the Plod,’ as he called Leyton, ‘but  either way, someone came onboard at sometime.’

‘This isn’t looking good,’ said Miles as Jenny breathed out slowly through the lips, incensed.  The implications were obvious.  Miles and Jenny had been overseas, so it hadn’t been then.  They’d returned to the boat, so it hadn’t been then.

Paul put in: ‘He could have put in the wiring and tucked the ends away, instructing one of them how to attach and activate.  risky though.  By the way, the remaing dinghy they left behind was scuttled but I looked at the inflatable and anyway, you used it.  I’d say there was no point, that cupboard was closer to your cabin, too risky.  Besides, you could actually swim, you weren’t exactly out at sea.’

‘Two questions, Paul.  First is – knowing the personnel, knowing the way things happened, is there any way those two could be guiltless?’

‘Can’t see how.  Would have to be an amazing coincidence.’

‘What if the aim,’ asked Jenny, ‘was to take out those two, not us, not the boat?’

‘I’m going to be careful here.  You’re right to ask that because I have to look at both sides.  For a start, the bomb would take out the boat.  No remote device, only the trigger wires.  Yes, a person of extreme stealth could have come aboard but frankly, I can’t see how those wto in that aft cabin would not have heard something.’

‘Unless one of us four were on the boat at some point the others weren’t.  And there was one of those, storing the shopping. The most innocent explanation was it was done, as you say, when we were elsewhere, even while the show was taking place in the harbour.  Quite possible, even that they could step over in the doorway by some miracle … but getting off the boat?  Taking the one unscuttled dinghy?  Yes … might be chance …’

‘There was a wire running fore and aft between the two dinghies,’ commented Paul.  ‘They took the further dinghy.  I’d say pretty cut and dry Mr. Forrester.’

‘Yeeesss.  Can you put in a security system for us?  I mean robust security of the type we don’t mention, in case of visitation, heatseeking, anything like that?’  Paul grinned. ‘There might be a way but it will cost you, it won’t break the bank but it will cost you, it would be concealed in bulkheads.  That surveillance of your cabin by the way …’

‘Ah yes,’ said Jenny.

‘It was put in during the build – who supervised that?’

‘Leyton,’ said Miles.  ‘Wonder why.  Just perverted?’

Island 17Island 19 here

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