Sunday, 14 August 2011

The Journeyman - Chapter 22

The links to previous chapters can be had at the end of this one. Apologies for missing last week but my computer problems were beyond my control.

Monday was a day for the lieutenants while their captains watched and waited. They, having for now, no great part to play.

John Dickson started his day with a meeting with Nicholsen; the man’s appearance doing more to annoy him than anything that had happened since Friday. At least whoever was screwing them had done a job of work but this overpaid Walter Mitty was an illusionist of the grand order.
‘Yes Robert I’m aware the indications point to the deal backfiring on Hopkins. It could be said to have done the same on us. If, as you say Californian are trying to off load some of their borrowing, then get what you can. I doubt if any of our UK competitors will take pity and throw us some crumbs. Who’s dealing for them?’
Nicholsen, sensing the edge in his boss’s voice hesitated. ‘I’m told it’s Esquiden and he’s tied up till later. But I have been promised he’ll get back to me before close of business today.’
You’ll be lucky, thought John. Slightly shocked to find the level of his amusement on par with a detested being stepping in dog shit. ‘Do what you can, but don’t go ridiculous just to get on the band wagon.’
Nicholsen, immune to the caution, launched into a monologue using buzzwords to camouflage his lack of facts. John managed to keep his temper by imaging the file locked in the safe and picturing Nicholsen’s reaction when its contents were revealed to him. Nicholsen drawing breath gave him the opportunity to interrupt and close the meeting. ‘I’ll leave that up to you, it is after all, your job. Now if you’ll excuse me.’ John waited till Nicholsen was at the door before adding. ‘Is it possible ICP haven’t been foiled?’
If Nicholsen searched it was for a stock answer rather than considering the possibility. ‘No, I’m convinced they were after Uniclor and it’s backfired.’
John nodded, honour done. ‘Um, my advice to you is make sure you get it right, Hopkins’s a shrewd operator.’
Nicholsen left the office convinced he’d witnessed the first sign of senility in Dickson. The amount they were considering was peanuts to what the others had committed and they’d have already taken everything into consideration.

Asking his secretary to see if Duffy could come in for a minute John used the time to don his coat. ‘Ah Duffy, do me a favour will you and cash this for me.’ He kept his face straight while searching Duffy’s for a reaction to the cheque made out for a million and a quarter cash. ‘Don’t look so worried, I think I can cover it.’ Then as an after thought, ‘And Duffy could you get it in used twenties?’ Taking the elbow of a bemused but stoic Duffy he accompanied him out of the office then walked the half-mile to Donald’s office.

Angela was busy chasing planes and suitcases along with fending off irate MD’s all wanting to know why their drivers had been taken off them during the busiest socially demanding time of the year. Gerald had growled at her, ‘Tell them they work for a Jew, are paid by a Jew and can be sacked by a Jew. And if that isn’t enough to shut them up, tell them I’ll cancel Christmas and they can have the day off on Moses birthday, whenever that is.’ Short of checking with the local synagogue Angela no idea either, so merely repeated it by rote. That apart, the constant updates to and from Fraser and Feeney were filling in the rest of her day along with chasing the manager at Coutts to confirm the funds were available for Gerald before he left for the ritual signing at Thames

Huntington was glad to get out of the flat. Not because Ruth was pressuring him for an explanation, though that in its self was part of the problem. She’d said nothing, asked nothing, hadn’t mentioned the problem since Dickson left. He’d tried to break her silence. Offered to take her to a hotel. For her to keep herself out of it until all this nasty ridiculous business was over. Half hoping she’d accept while the other half feared she’d take herself out of his life all together. She’d given him a hug and told him she’d stay here until they went down to Bramshott.

Confusion wasn’t a stranger to him. He’d learnt how to ride it, don the appropriate mask, adopt the pose and style it out. Easy when you knew the title, plot and purpose of a business event; bit more difficult when it comes to relationships. What he wanted to do was tell the lot of them, from Hopkins to the blackmailers to sod off. No, to fuck off. Then for him and Ruth to strip naked and for her to do all the things he’d paid to have done but never enjoyed because he knew the whore’s were using and he suspected, laughing, at him. He wanted to fuck – a word of luxury he often thought but rarely said - her all night, day, week, to sense the demand of a body having its wants met and satiated by him and to hell with the starch, the confines, the armour of mouldy convention. That’s why he wanted to get out; he knew he’d never do it. Easier to concentrate on the contract signing with the ambassador and his trade attaché and whether, as promised, they’d forgo their Saville Row suits for the traditional robes. After all he had his responsibilities and the signing ceremony was to take place in front of the media. And it was easier, more appropriate, for him to weave the lewdness of his fantasies round the image of a cooperative and responsive Ruth than the shamed excitement brought on by using Jane as his mental stimulus.

Donald and George with most to do were worrying least. They’d spent most of the night tying in the banks to brokers and found they had to go as far north as Glasgow and Edinburgh and include the peripheral city’s to get the cover. Fund transfers were followed by faxes to brokers stipulating the amounts and identifying the name and code of the individual who was to collect. In the main conurbations the drivers were to be accompanied by one of Hamilton’s investigators. Primarily to speed up the process of collection but also to act as security once the fringe collections had been gathered in and the fleet of cars with their twenty million cargo were heading directly to Bramshott, none with more than half a million riding in it. A situation that had cases hauled down from lofts and out from garages; sports shops raided for bags, the bigger the better and minds financial, practical and quasi judicial, struggled with the bulk of half millions in quid’s.

Neil was at home, skulking according to his predators. Waiting according to him, in case their mentors should try to contact with the only number they’d got.

David Hamilton’s police trained mind was intrigued. Initially the logistics had prevented him thinking about the scale. Only when the faxes began to stream in from Fraser giving areas, collectors and amounts did the enormity of the amount begin to register. After a few false starts because of fumbling fingers or forgetting to press the add sign, around nine in the evening, he reckoned they were to collect in excess of fifteen million.
He still no conclusions when he got home, realised it was Gwen’s night out and switched on the box to catch the tail of the late news. The reader outlining a large contract won by some consortium from the Arabs. He watched two Arabs flanked by Huntington and Goode flourishing their signatures on impressive leather bound contracts and noted the shadowy figure of Hopkins in the background.
Throughout the night the question refused to settle or clarify either on the security or why of it. He decided, now that he had been given the delivery address, first thing in the morning he'd get on to a mate of his in Southampton.

It wasn’t exactly their area but Bramshotts' owner was well enough known. Such was Hamilton’s lack of concentration the previous evening the name he was given made no connection.

I didn’t know exactly what Pat was doing but I assumed it was the same as me, only with company. Boredom must be the anaesthetic of the mind over its brain. A numbing somnolence, plateau of zero, where sleep doesn’t rest, rest doesn’t refresh, patience is only more of the same and challenge an abomination. The day was a struggle through traffic that only the lobotomised would consider an acceptable part of daily life.

The only thing worrying Pat was how and when to break the news to Jane that he wouldn’t be with her for Christmas Eve.


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