I tossed and turned for what seemed likes hours. I had no idea what time I eventually fell asleep, but I when I woke it was still dark, I looked at the clock thinking it was probably still night, but the clock said 6:40. I decided to get up, head down to the restaurant, and see if I could get some breakfast.
As I’m not usually up at this time of the morning, I wasn’t even sure if the restaurant would be open. The door was locked and a sign said breakfast starts at 07:30 am. Shit! I turned and headed for the street, I guessed there must be a cafe open somewhere in town.
Walking down the lamp lit street my mind began simmering over the days coming events. It suddenly struck me that a week of my deadline had already gone, and I was no closer to finding Clair. I had to step up my efforts or before I knew it, there would be no more time left. In the distance I could see a bright light coming from a window, I made my way towards it, hoping it would be a cafe. As I got closer I could see a sign saying, Toney’s Greasy Spoon. Just what I needed. I opened the door and stepped inside, the smell of sizzling bacon hit me like a freight train. There was only a couple of people sat inside. I made my way to the counter, a stout man wearing a white apron stood behind.
“God, that smells great.” I said.
“How can I help you?”
“I would love a full English, if you don’t mind?”
“One full English coming up; and to drink?”
“A nice big mug of coffee, please.”
“Certainly, please take a seat.”
I sat at a table near the window, ready to see the sun rising over the tops of the city buildings. I watched as the darkness slowly began to give way to the light, and the sky quickly started to transcend from white to red. Another nice day. I thought.
Slowly the feelings of contentment began to fade, pushed out as the thoughts of Clair rose to the top of the pile. Where could she be? My heart started sinking as reality rapidly began to set in.
I’d set the meeting for 10 am, so I still had some time to get my thoughts together before I’d have to face Spud. I had to admit, I wasn’t looking forward to it. I’m not used to working with someone else, especially someone as over bearing as Spud. I just knew he was going to be a pain in the arse, and make my life hell for the next few weeks, but I had no choice in the matter. Just then the owner arrived with my coffee. “Breakfast won’t be long.”
“Thanks.” Pouring some milk into the mug, I watched as the streets outside got busier with people making their way to work. In the past I would have looked at these people thinking how mundane their daily lives must be. However, right now I would give anything to swap my life for one of theirs.
The coffee felt good as it warmed me up from the inside out, sweeping away the initial chill of the early morning. I could feel my stomach rumbling as it reacted to the smell of the bacon frying in the background. A man got up and walked out, as he opened the door behind me the morning chill wisped over me again. Cupping the mug in both hands, I quickly took another swig of coffee to help drown the shiver that suddenly run the full length of my spine. Just then, a large plate was thrust in front of me.
“Your full English. Enjoy.”
I looked down to see two large eggs, a heap of bacon and beans, topped off with two big sausages. Next to that was a small plate stacked with slices of toast. Now that’s what I call a breakfast.
“That looks great, thanks.”
Back at my hotel room, I started getting my shit together ready for the arrival of Spud. My plan was to take him through the Op’s board, make sure he had the plan imbedded in his head, and send him on his way for the rest of the day. Then I wanted to go in search of a second hand van, so I would have plenty of time to get it ready for the Op.
As in the old days Spud was bang on time. “Good to see you’re still on the ball.”
“One thing I can’t stand is tardiness. I won’t stand for it in my organisation, so I have to lead by example.”
“ Glad to hear it. Well sit down and we’ll get down to it.”
“Nice Op’s board, takes me back to the old days.”
“Well, forget the old days, this is now, and I need you to pay full attention to what I’m about to tell you, okay?”
“What ever, just get on with it.”
I gave him a look of discontent. “Look Spud if you’re not prepared to take this seriously, we can call it quits right now.”
He smiled and shook his head. “Okay, keep your hair on.”
Pointing at the board. “Okay, as you can see I’ve laid the board out in the usual fashion. The photos you can see are pictures of the target area, and the key locations to be used throughout the Op. There is a timetable, and a list of tasks to be carried out before the Op starts, happy so far?”
“He gave me a look of contempt. “Are you taking the piss?”
I went through the whole plan with him, and I had to admit I was surprised to see he didn’t disagree once. He even liked my plan, which gave me a slightly uneasy feeling. This had to be the first time he’d ever agreed with me on anything. Still I wasn’t going to complain. I asked him to set up some shooting practice for us both, to which he agreed. He said he would call me once he had the range set up, then left.
I searched the internet to find a second hand van for the Op. All I needed was a small van that was in reasonable condition. I found a nice white Ford escort van that was going quite cheap, and it was a private sale, which made it better for me. That way I could pay cash, and as I did not intend to register the vehicle, there would be no paper trail to follow later on.
I had some magnetic signs made up to place on the side of the van, and produced some false number plates that were at least registered to a white Ford escort van. Then if a cop does decide to run the plates, he won’t have any reason to suspect anything.
After finishing with the van I left my lock up and headed back to my hotel. As I opened the door to my room I saw a business card on the floor. I picked it up, on the back was written, Need to know where your daughter is? Try room 26. I turned the card over to see it was a business card for the Strand Palace Hotel. I didn’t have the first clue as to who had left the card, but I sure as hell wasn’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth.
I quickly took my pistol out from where I had taped it under the bedside table, placed it down the back of my trousers and went to grab a taxi.
When I reached the hotel I didn’t bother going to reception, but headed straight for room 26. As I approached the door I began contemplating on whether to knock, or to just kick the door in. I decided to knock, and turn to face away from the spy hole. I knocked a few times, but got no answer. I decided to pick the lock, which was very easy.
I quickly looked around, took out my pistol lowered my breathing and slowly opened the door. As I entered, the first room I came across was the bathroom to my left. I slowly crept up until I was next to the open door. I swung round quickly at the same time bringing my pistol to bear. Empty. I turned and placing my back against the wall moved slowly down the short corridor to the main room. On reaching the end, I again swung into action ready to pump a bullet into anyone who moved, only to find that this room was also empty. Shit! I put my pistol away and started searching around; looking for any clue that could help me.
After a few minutes I became very disheartened, I couldn’t find a thing that showed any signs Clair had ever been there at all. I was just about to leave, when something on the other side of the room caught my eye. I slowly walked over to the object, and as I got closer I began to make out it was an hairclip, not just an hairclip, but one you would only expect a very young girl to be wearing. I picked it up off the floor. It looks like she may have been here after all. I thought.
I went down to reception, to see if I could gain any information that could help me. There was a young woman behind the desk, shuffling through some papers.
“Hi there, I wonder if you could help me?”
“In what way sir.”
“I was suppose to have a meeting with the person who was staying here in room 26. However, it appears he has left, could you possibly tell me when he left?”
“One moment sir._ It appears that room became vacant in the early hours of this morning.”
“I don’t suppose you could tell me when he arrived, or if he was alone?”
“I’m sorry sir, but I’m not sure I can give out that sort of information.”
I took out my wallet, and pulled out a note of money. “Look if you could see your way to helping me, this fifty pound note can be yours.”
She looked around to see if anyone was watching. “Fifty pounds, I could really do with that right now. Okay, what do you need to know?”
“I need to know who stayed in that room, how many, and when they booked in here.”
“The name given was a Mr Evans. There was three of them, two men and a young girl.”
“How did this Mr Evans pay for the room?”
“He paid by credit card.”
Yes! “ Do you have the credit card details?”
“I’m not too happy about giving you those kinds of details.”
“Look, I have no intentions of stealing from him, I just need to find him. Now, do you want this fifty quid or not?”
She reluctantly gave me the information. This was the best lead I’d had so far. In fact it was the only lead I’d had so far. I had this guy’s name, and soon with these details, hopefully his address.
I took out my mobile phone and got in touch with a computer geek I often used on some of my jobs.
“Hay Liberace.” He liked being called Liberace, not that he was gay or anything. It was because he thought Liberace was such a good piano player, and as he was so good on the computer keyboard, it would be a cool name. Personally I didn’t think Liberace was that good, but what the hell. He was great with a computer, and that’s all that interested me, so who was I to argue. Still, it didn’t stop the fact that every time I said his name, a smirk would appear on my face. “I need you to do me a job.”
“What you got in mind?”
“I have some credit card details I need you to check up on.”
“What do you need?”
“I need a full name, address, telephone number, especially any mobile number that might be registered.”
“Okay, no problem, anything else?”
“Yes, I want a list of all transactions carried out within the last two weeks.”
“What’s it worth?”
“You’ll get the usual. One other thing. Will it be possible for you to set it up, so that every time a transaction is carried out, it will put a red flag up on my computer, telling me where and when the credit card was used?”
“Yes sure, but that will be extra.”
“No problem, just do it.”
“Okay, I’ll e-mail you with the details as soon as I have them.”
Having used my mobile, I noticed a number of missed calls, which came up as unknown number. I rang the number to see whom it was, only to find I was again talking to the Met.
“Hello Mr Spader, we have been trying to get in touch with you for some time.”
“Oh, hi. So, do you have any information yet?”
“Not at this moment in time. However, I do remember asking you to stay in your room, just in case your daughter tries to get in touch.”
“Excuse me, it’s been over a week now. So just how long did you expect me to stay locked away in a poxy hotel room?”
“Well, Mr Spader, if you’re not willing to co-operate, you are only going to compound an already awkward situation.”
“Look, unless you come across some information that is of any use to me, I suggest you leave me alone from now on.”
“Look, Mr Spader_”
I hung up the phone. Useless fucks. I thought.
I made my way back to the hotel and decided to wait until I heard from Liberace. I really couldn’t do much more until I had the info he was going to give me. With this new development, I decided to put the assassination job on the back burner for a while, and concentrate on trying to find Clair. At least until Spud got in touch with me again, which knowing him, I didn’t think would be long now. I had no intentions of telling Spud about the new info I’d got. I didn’t want anyone jeopardising any chance I might have of rescuing Clair. If there was a slight chance of getting her back, I was going to do it alone.
I hovered around my hotel room constantly checking my e-mails for what seemed like days. He doesn’t usually take this long coming up with the goods. I contemplated phoning him, but gave him the benefit of the doubt, as he’d never let me down in the past. It’s just, I felt I was on the verge of a break through, and the frustration was getting to me. Force of habit had me heading for the fridge to grab a bottle of JD. I took one look, and removed every bottle of liquor from the fridge and started pouring them down the sink. From now on not one sip of liquor was going to pass my lips again, until all this shit was over.
Eventually I got the call. “Hay, it’s Liberace, I’ve got what you asked for.”
“Jesus, it’s about time.”
“I know, I’m sorry, this wasn’t as easy as I thought it was going to be. The thing is, this guy, Mr Evans, isn’t actually the owner of the credit card. It belongs to a corporation, but unfortunately, even I had to admit defeat in finding out the name of them.”
“Oh right, so what are you telling me?”
Well, I managed to get the full name, but no address or phone numbers. However, I was able to track the recent transactions of the card, and be able to hook up all future transactions to show up on your computer.”
“Well that’s at least something. Thanks buddy, I owe you.”
“Not really, just pay me what I’m due.”
“I’m sending you an e-mail with the details now, okay.”
“That’s great, thanks.”
I opened my e-mail account eagerly awaiting the info inside. However, I needn’t have bothered, looking at the list of transactions, the last entry was the payment for the room at the Strand Palace Hotel. So at that moment, with the information I was given, I wasn’t going to get any closer to knowing where these people were, than I was when I was at the hotel it’s self. I would just have to wait, and hope this prick used his credit card again. Fuck!
It felt like nothing was going right for me. Shit, what the hell did I have to do, just to get a shagging break around here?
Just then the phone rang. “Hi Jack it’s Spud, I’ve managed to set up a 50m range for us to use, over at Chelsea barracks.”
Shit, that’s all I needed right now. “Oh right, that sounds great, when?”
“In two days, I’ll come round and pick you up.”
“Okay, what time?”
“About 10 am, if that’s all right?”
“Yes fine, I’ll see you then.”
“Okay, have you heard anything new yet?”
“No not really, cops have been in touch, but they’re about as much use as tits on a fish.”
“Oh well, there’s still time yet, you never know what’s around the corner.”
“Yeh, what ever, I’ll chat with you later okay?”
“Okay mate, don’t give up, we still have time on our side.”
Easy for you to say. “Yes, if you say so, chat soon, bye.”
Suddenly my computer started beeping and a red flag started waving all over the screen. I had to admit it caught me completely by surprise. Shit, what’s happening. I thought. Then it struck me, that pricks making a transaction with his credit card. At last, got you now you fuck. It took a while before the information started to come through, but at last, my biggest break so far.