Sunday May 24
After the murder it was assumed that Charles Warner – always so vigilant – had let down his guard because of the atmosphere. When he left the harbour at Lindau, Bavaria, and took his powerboat out on to Lake Konstanz it was a sunny, peaceful afternoon.
`And it was a diabolically clever and audacious killing,' Tweed commented to Martel two days later in London.
The powerboat, with Warner as its sole occupant, moved slowly as it passed through the harbour exit, flanked on one side by the stone statue of the Lion of Bavaria; on the other by the – towering lighthouse. Conforming to regulations, he sounded his hooter.
A lean, agile man of forty, Warner was wearing a German suit. On the seat beside him lay a Tyrolean hat. For his secret crossing to his landfall on the Swiss shore he had substituted a peaked, nautical cap which merged into the holiday scene.
There was nothing ahead of him on the huge lake to arouse suspicion. In the glare of the afternoon sun a fleet of yachts with coloured sails drifted like toys. Beyond rose the jagged, snowbound peaks of Liechtenstein and Switzerland. To his right one of the many white steamers which ply the lake disappeared towards the German town of Konstanz.
To his left a group of windsurfers was using the light breeze to skim over the glassy surface of the water. He counted six of them as they moved across his bows.
'Kindly get out of the Goddamn way,' he muttered as he throttled back his engine.
They were all young, fine physical specimens, clad only in bathing trunks as they propelled their strange craft in an enclosing arc. Two of them were blond. Warner was about half a mile from the shore when he realised they were playing games, circling round to stop him opening up the throttle. `Go and play elsewhere,' Warner growled.
He had a damned good mind to open up and scare them – but they were so close he might run them down. The tallest blond waved and brought his craft alongside the powerboat. He held the sail steady with his left hand while his right gripped the sheath knife strapped to his thigh. Too late a flicker of alarm alerted the Englishman. The windsurfer abandoned his sail and jumped into the powerboat. He wielded the blade with speed and lethal efficiency, plunging it into his victim at varying angles.
The other five windsurfers formed a screen of sails, masking the powerboat from anyone who might be watching them through glasses onshore. And the Wasserschutzpolizei – Water Police – had a unit and a launch at Lindau.
They maintained the screen while the tall blond completed his butchery. Then he left the powerboat, slipped into the water and upended his own sail. They resumed formation, heading for the deserted shore between Lindau and the Austrian border at the end of the lake.
`Multiple stab wounds – like the work of some maniac..
Sergeant Dorner of the Water Police stood up from his examination of the body in the drifting powerboat. He looked at the launch with Polizei painted in blue letters on the hull drawn up alongside. The youngest policeman aboard who had been watching the examination began to retch over the side. Baptism of fire, Dorner thought.
He frowned as he noticed something gleaming by his foot. When he picked it up and saw what he had found he slipped it quickly into his pocket. A triangular-shaped badge very like the Greek letter delta. He glanced down at the body again; it was a pretty grisly mess. He opened the passport extracted from the corpse's jacket together with a wallet.
`He's English. Funny, the wallet is stuffed with money…'
'Maybe those windsurfers panicked…' From his high point on the bridge of the launch, Busch, Dorner's deputy and the third man in the third man in the team, shielded his eyes and stared east. 'No sign of the bastards. They moved off fast…'
'It takes only seconds to snatch a man's wallet, Dorner persisted. 'This is the strangest killing I've come across… Christ!'
Sifting through the contents of the wallet he had found a small card made of plastic rather like a credit card. But this was no credit card Dorner thought grimly as he studied the green and red stripes, the embossed number – which identified the owner – and a five-letter code reference which meant London.
'What's the matter?' Busch called down.
Something in his chief's expression warned him they had found trouble. Dorner slipped the card back inside the wallet and beckoned Busch to leave the bridge and come close to the powerboat. He kept his voice low when Busch faced him over the narrow gap between the two vessels.
'This has to be kept quiet. First we inform the BND at Pullach immediately…'
'You mean he's…'
'I don't mean anything. But 1 think there are people in London who will want to know about this before nightfall…
Sergeant Dorner was very silent as he stood on the bridge of the police launch, leaving the handling of the vessel to his subordinate as they approached the harbour of Lindau. Attached by a strong rope, the powerboat with its ghastly cargo was being dragged at the stern, the body carefully concealed by a sheet of canvas.
It was the macabre condition of the corpse's back which worried Dorner, a fact he had not mentioned even to Busch. And the horror of what he had discovered seemed such an appalling contrast to the holiday atmosphere of Lindau where visitors strolled in the sun along the short harbour front.
Keep close watch for group six windsurfers possibly approaching your shore now. If seen apprehend and hold in close custody. Proceed on basis group armed and dangerous.
This was the top priority signal Dorner had told the young radio operator to send before they began the return trip to Lindau. By then the latest addition to his crew had fortunately recovered from his bout of vomiting. And the signal had been sent to police headquarters at Bregenz on the Austrian shore as well as to Dorner's home base.
`I thought 1 saw some weird markings carved on his back,' Busch remarked as he sounded the siren prior to entering the harbour. 'Almost like some kind of symbol – but there was so much blood…'
`Keep your mind on your job,' Dorner told him tensely.
With the sun blazing down on their necks they entered the small harbour and turned east to the landing-stage where the launch always berthed. Dorner was most concerned about how to smuggle the body the short distance from harbour to headquarters without anyone seeing it. He need not have worried. The early discovery of Charles Warner's body was already being observed.
The ancient town of Lindau with its medieval buildings, narrow, cobbled streets and even narrower alleys stands on an island at the eastern end of Lake Konstanz. There are two quite separate routes to reach this geographical oddity.
Coming by car you drive over the Seebrucke – the road bridge. Travelling to Lindau by international express from Zurich, you cross a rail embankment further west. The train stops at the Hauptbahnhof perched by the waterfront; it then moves back over the embankment and proceeds on to Munich.
The pavement artist was located outside the Bayerischer Hof, the most luxurious hotel on Lindau which faces the station exit. From here he could easily observe arrivals by train or boat.
A lean, bony-faced man in his early twenties, he wore a faded windcheater and jeans. The clothes were spotlessly clean. There are few beggars in Germany but those who exist preserve a respectable appearance. Only in this way can they hope to obtain money from passers-by.
His work was a picture of the Forum in Rome drawn in crayon on the stones of the sidewalk, a small cardboard box by its side for coins. At frequent intervals he paused while he walked up and down slowly, hands clasped behind his back.
He was now watching the police launch entering the harbour. As it swung round, broadside on, heading for its berth, he saw the powerboat being towed in its wake. Turning away, he made sure no one was watching him and checked his watch strapped well above the wrist. Then he strolled across the road, pushed open a door and walked into the Hauptbahnhof.
Before he entered the phone booth he checked to make sure no one was coming out of the office marked Polizei. Once inside the booth he called the number and waited. From an apartment block in Stuttgart a girl's voice answered.
`Edgar Braun,' he replied. -
`This is Klara. I'm just going out so I only have a minute…'
'A minute is all it will take…' He paused. The agreed opening had confirmed to each the other's identity. 'I thought that you would like to know the expected consignment has arrived…'
She sounded startled. The man who called himself Braun frowned, It was most unlike the girl to lose her detachment. Whoever's body was inside the powerboat had clearly been found much earlier than expected.
'Are you sure?' she demanded.
'Of course I'm sure.' He bridled. 'You want the details?' he suggested nastily.
'That won't be necessary.' Her voice had resumed its normal cold tone. 'Thank you for calling…'
`And my fee?' Braun persisted.
`Waiting to be collected at the Post Office in the usual way two days from now. And continue in your present job. Remember, jobs are not so easy to get at the moment…'
He was left staring at the phone. The bitch had broken the connection. He shrugged, left the booth and returned to his pitch on the pavement. Braun knew what he had to watch for but beyond phoning a girl called Klara he had never met – and the fact she had a Stuttgart number – he knew nothing about the organisation he was spying for.
In the luxurious penthouse apartment in Stuttgart Klara stared at herself in the dressing-table mirror. An ex-model with a superb figure she was twenty-seven years old. Her sleek black hair was attended to weekly by the city's top hairdresser and there was a small fortune in her wardrobe of clothes.
She had dark, sleepy-looking eyes, fine bone structure and was a chain-smoker. She was hesitating before she picked up the white telephone and called the man who owned the apartment. She lit a fresh cigarette and dialled the number in southern Bavaria.
Inside the moated schloss many miles north-east of Lindau a firm, leathery hand picked up the receiver. On his third finger the man wore a large diamond ring. Beneath his strong jaw he wore a solid gold tie-slide. Attached to his left wrist was a Patek Philippe watch.
No identification, just the single curt word.
'Klara calling. It is convenient to talk?'
`Yes! You received the fur I sent? Good. Anything else?'
The voice had a gravelly timbre, a hint of impatience that they must go through this identification rigmarole before they could get to the point. Like Klara earlier, he sounded startled when she relayed Braun's message.
'You say_ the consignment has arrived already?'
'Yes. I knew you would be relieved…'
The sixty-year old man she was talking to was not relieved. He concealed his reaction but he was alarmed at the speed with which the police had discovered the body of the Englishman.
The reference to the 'consignment' confirmed that Warner had been liquidated on schedule as planned. The further reference to 'has arrived' told him the corpse was already in police hands. He repeated almost the same words Klara had used to Braun.
'Are you quite certain? It is very quick…' 'I wasn't there to witness the collection,' she said, her voice tinged with sarcasm. 'I'm reporting what our observer told me less than five minutes ago…'
'Remember who you're talking to,' he told her. He replaced the receiver, took a Havana cigar from a box on his desk, clipped off the end and lit it with a gold lighter.
In her Stuttgart apartment Klara was careful to replace her own receiver before she used the four-letter word. He might share her bed, pay the rent, buy her clothes but he didn't bloody well own her.
She lit a fresh cigarette, studied herself in the mirror and began manipulating an eye pencil. The trouble was Reinhard Dietrich was a millionaire industrialist, a considerable landowner and a well-known politician. And she never let herself forget that she was consorting with one of the most dangerous men in West Germany.