Friends and Anger – 17

He was now on a complete war footing. Somebody had made a first strike at him, and failed. From now on, there would be no predictable pattern to his movements and all communications to and from him would be via the electronic equivalents of one-time pads, burner phones and one use only temporary emails from the darknet. He would shred the Manannon identity and all financial, electronic and paper traces of him – it would be as if he’d never existed. It would be relatively easy since he’d always kept that legend purely for her sake and scrupulosity outside his working activities.

He was now in another apartment he maintained under one of his work names and organising his response. The old rules of the jungle he used to live in when he was younger would apply – find them first, deal with them and get away with it.

Julia was in a place of safety, he to all intents and purposes had gone off the radar screen, so he had time to sit and consider his response as well as use the assets he’d developed over the years. The hacker had basically used the three mobile phones to link to all the available information about the three deceased thugs. That avenue of research had been mined out as much as possible. In consequence, he was deploying physical rather than cybernetic resources.

The services he provided to his clients were never illegal but perhaps questionable at times. His real utility to his clients was that if he screwed up a job and it all went sideways, it would be nothing to do with them. They could walk away with their skirts held high out of the mud, he’d take the fall and keep his mouth shut. That was an understood thing and all built into his fees. A significant portion of his clientèle were from what’s termed the intelligence community. You developed contacts. One time, he was on a big job that required him to be at multiple places at once, so he called in a favour from the spooks.

‘Do you know anyone who’s good at surveillance?’

He got the name of somebody who’d just retired and had an excellent reputation – Margaret. He followed her around for a day, just to see if she was surveillance aware. She was bloody perfect. No odd stops at shop windows to spot from the reflection who was following her, but she knew. He could tell. Sensed it, and that sort of talent you can never teach.

The afternoon ended with her sitting in a working man’s cafe enjoying a sausage, egg and chips, while keeping an eye on the only entrance to the place. Lots of people coming in and out, but as soon as he entered, she gave him the hard stare. She was letting Manno know that she’d made him, so there was no point in kidding around. He slid into the bench seat opposite her.

‘Who are you and what do you want with me?’ she asked.

He gave her a name and told her he needed some eyes on surveillance work done and it’d pay well for it, and it’d be cash in hand. Civil Service pension plans are not renowned for their generosity.

‘Are you a spook?’

‘Lord no. This is all private sector, that’s all I work.’

She gave him a long calculating look before giving her precondition to accepting his offer. ‘If it’s injurious or harmful to my country, I’m out.’

‘I’m aware of the years of service you’ve given. You have my word of honour, it’s not nor will it ever be.’

She looked at him. His English accent was flawless but yet there was an unusual grammatical precision to that reply that suggested he might not be English, but his use of the slightly out of date phrase “word of honour” and the momentary flash of the eyes it was delivered with, gave her a good feeling about this stranger, so she took on the job.

It wasn’t the first time he would make use of her talent, and as so often happens, a professional relationship gradually developed into a close personal friendship. What she liked about working for him was that she always got the full briefing about what the current mission was without all the need to know bollocks. She was always fully in the loop. On occasion, he’d be working some big job that required more than one pair of eyes, so she’d pull in a few of her mates and cronies to help out. Manno called them her Baker Street Irregulars. They both shared a taste for the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

He rang Margaret and gave her the full briefing as well as the three home addresses of the deceased thugs he wanted watched. In essence, someone had sent a murder team after him.

‘What happened to the murder team?’

‘At a guess, they’ve all been through a wood chipper by now.’

In all the years she’d worked for him, she’d never seen him commit a violent act, but her talent was watching and reading people. There’s a certain type of walk that some men can unconsciously do. The wimmen and chillen get out of the way of it and the fairy-arsed men do likewise. The big guys realise they don’t have a dog in this particular fight, so they’ve no reason to get involved in the coming grief and part the waves and let him on through because they know blood will be shed at the end of that walk. She’d once seen him do that walk and by the end of it, somebody had suddenly decided to be a lot more cooperative.

‘Mags, this one is strictly optional. It’s not the usual commercial stuff. It’s all directed at me and my sense of it is that these bastards won’t hesitate to kill you or one of the Irregulars if they get a sniff of them. You can walk away now.’

‘Fuck off’ was her immediate response. ‘What do you need?’

It was the first time he’d ever heard her swear. He was slightly shocked. In a way, it was her committing to the mission, so he finished the briefing. I need pictures, videos, number plates of whoever comes looking for those missing three goons at their home addresses. Do it from the next county if possible. Nothing up close, no near contact. I need to find out who’s their boss or if they were merely hired to make a hit. At the first sign of trouble, you and your crew leg it.

She smiled. He always spoke a beautiful brand of polished highly-educated and exact English, but once in a while he’d use a phrase like “leg it”, which somehow suggested a street urchin origin to him. Out of nothing more than an idle curiosity to find out who he really was, she once tried to follow him after one of their meetings. He headed into a very crowded department store that had five exits, one of which he’d used to escape her surveillance. It was chocktaw full of women fighting over winter sale cardigans. It was slick work. He’d known all along she was there on his six but hadn’t given a single sign of knowing it. A consummate professional.

He paused for a while. ‘Mags …’

‘I know, so don’t be a nag. That’s supposed to be our job. I’ll be careful. Just make sure you’re safe yourself.’

©Pointman

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Comments
3 Responses to “Friends and Anger – 17”
  1. spetzer86 says:

    It’d been a while for an update on this tale. Really need to know how this pans out, but it looks like there will be a few installments to get through yet.

    Like

  2. Jeremy says:

    Like it Pointy. Work harder!

    Like

  3. tedsned says:

    Good stuff, Pointy, I like the way you let us into the protagonist’s head. I like the way he thinks, but in the end, he reacts, as if life is happening to him instead of trying to make his own imprint. …just my impression, but I am an Illinois farm boy, what do I know?

    Like

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