Read The Enemy Online

Authors: Tom Wood

Tags: #Fiction, #Action & Adventure, #Thrillers, #Suspense

The Enemy (4 page)

BOOK: The Enemy
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‘Was that a joke?’

‘When I make a joke you won’t have to ask for confirmation.’

‘All right,’ the control said with a breath, ‘I didn’t figure you as the conservative type, but I guess I can watch my language.’

‘No blasphemy either.’

A laugh. ‘Now I
know
you’re joking.’

Victor remained silent.

‘Okay,’ the control said, drawing the word out slowly, before
adding, ‘No swearing, no blasphemy. I’ll work on that. You work on your attitude. But if being employed by me is so problematic for you then after you’ve completed these three jobs we can go our separate ways. No hard feelings.’

‘Very charitable of you,’ Victor said. ‘But with the inclusion of the Bucharest job it will have been four contracts, not three.’

‘True,’ the voice agreed, ‘and if that’s how you’re going to be, then I should remind you that after the little circus show you partook in last November there are a lot of folks out there who would like nothing more than to see your head atop a spike. Considering the lengths I’ve gone to in order to keep you out of the crosshairs of several intelligence services, not least of all in Russia and the US, I would have expected a little more gratitude.’

‘I would have sent a card, only I don’t have your name or address. Would you like to give me your name and address?’

His employer laughed briefly. ‘For some reason I don’t think that would be a particularly smart idea, do you?’ He didn’t wait for an answer. ‘If protecting you isn’t enough, I guess you’ve forgotten that I’ve already scratched your back at the beginning of this arrangement in handing over a certain individual.’

‘I haven’t forgotten,’ Victor said through a tight mouth. He tried, without success, to stop his thoughts taking the inevitable path.

‘Good, because now it’s time to return the favour.’ A long pause. ‘Or was I wrong to take you as the kind of man who honours his word?’

Victor answered, ‘That’s the only way left in which I have honour,’ and disconnected the call.

There was no need for goodbyes. Such courtesy was the benefit of friends alone. And years had passed since Victor had anyone who could be considered a true friend. The last person who had approached that mantle had helped organise an attempt on his life. Victor would never make that mistake again.

But when his employer knew so much about him and his enemies, Victor had to be careful to keep his paymaster happy. He also knew that when these kind of jobs went wrong the people involved in them tended to prematurely expire. Victor was well aware that his
usefulness could run out without warning and any arrangement made for him could be a potential ambush. But Victor had been honest about keeping his word. He would pay off his debt.

Outside the hotel, he walked for a while until he found a payphone. He dialled the Hamburg number he’d been given. A woman answered in German. She had the voice of a long-term heavy smoker.

‘Yes?’

‘Georg, please,’ he said.

She coughed and thirty seconds passed before a male voice spoke. ‘Yes?’

‘We have a mutual acquaintance,’ Victor said. ‘They tell me you have something for me.’

‘At nine p.m. tomorrow get ferry line sixty-two from Landungsbrücken to Finkenwerder. Take a copy of the
Hamburger Abendblatt
with you. Keep it in your left hand. Stay on the top deck, port side. Don’t bring any weapons.’

The line went dead before he could respond.

Victor replaced the receiver. He did not conduct business this way. If arrangements could not be made without a face to face, they should be conducted in a neutral location. A ferry could be construed as neutral, but the meeting wouldn’t take place there. Someone would get on and lead him to where Georg waited. That would certainly not be a neutral location. Alternatively, if anything went wrong, the ferry would be a floating trap.

Back in the hotel room, Victor reset the chair wedged under the door handle, checked the SIG was loaded, tucked it into the front of his waistband, and, fully dressed, lay down on the bed atop the covers. Three more jobs and he could have his life back. Whatever that equated to.

He thought about the scream until he fell asleep.

CHAPTER 4

Athens, Greece

At the same time, approximately nine hundred and fifty miles southeast, Xavier Callo was trying to hide his growing erection from the six feet of blonde Norwegian hotness he’d somehow managed to pick up. The American had set the trap perfectly and she’d fallen straight into it. He’d been sitting at one of the bar’s tables, sipping Krug and tipping the waitresses with a fifty-euro note every time they so much as wiped his table. It was one of his best tactics. Waitresses liked tips, and they liked ridiculously huge tips even more. When such tips came along, they told people about them. People told other people and before long every gold-digger was looking at the small, balding guy sitting alone in the corner.

The bar had a load of modern art on the walls that looked like something Callo’s niece might make after too many E-numbers. There were no chairs around the tables. Instead there were cushioned stools that were as uncomfortable as they appeared. Behind the bar itself was a huge array of bottles neatly aligned and backlit. They glowed hypnotically to Callo’s ever more inebriated brain.

Before the blonde had arrived, Callo had let a couple of skanks swoon over him, but when the statuesque Viking goddess appeared through the bar’s door he shooed them away. Callo liked tall women, which he knew was a good thing being much closer to five feet than six, but most of the girls he ended up with only had a few inches on him. In stiletto heels, the Norwegian beauty dwarfed him.

She was on the seat next to him solely because of the money he was flashing, but Callo didn’t care. What mattered was that she wanted him. She was a good talker too, classy, and she loved that he was American. She wanted to hear everything about him. Where did he
live? What did he do for a living? Did he have a family? What was he doing in Athens? What did he like to do for fun?

‘I’m a diamond merchant,’ Callo slurred. ‘I live all over. I’ve got an ex-wife but no kids. I’m in Athens to unwind and I like doing all
sorts
of things.’

‘Oh, wow,’ the blonde said, inching closer. ‘I love diamonds. They’re so sexy.’

Her English was flawless and she didn’t have a Norwegian accent that Callo could detect. Not that he knew what one sounded like. She liked her champagne too and had Callo order another magnum, but he seemed to be doing most of the drinking. He’d only known her for twenty minutes but he was sure he loved her.

When she whispered into his ear and asked him if he wanted to go back to her place, he knew he was in for the night of his life. He followed her out on to the street. The bar was in downtown Athens and overlooked the sea. Callo loved it in the Greek islands and always visited after a big diamond sale.

He let the blonde hail a cab while he kept an arm around her slim waist for support. Taxis were usually a bitch to get late at night in this part of town, even at weekends, but one pulled up in front of them straight away. He remembered his manners and held the door open for the Norwegian. She slid on to the seat elegantly and Callo stumbled in after her.

The driver didn’t ask where they were going and the blonde didn’t tell him, but the taxi pulled away regardless. Callo tried to put his arm around the blonde but she shrugged it off. She opened her purse and took something out.

By the time Callo realised it was a hypodermic syringe, the Norwegian was already stabbing him in the thigh. She gave him an angry stare.

‘Pervert,’ she hissed.


What the
…?’

He tried to keep speaking but the words wouldn’t come out. His head felt heavy and flopped forward. He couldn’t move his limbs.

He remembered nothing after that.

CHAPTER 5

Hamburg, Germany

Hamburger Kunsthalle was open until 9 p.m. on Thursdays so Victor spent an hour perusing the art hanging in the various galleries while he checked for surveillance. When he was sure no one was watching him, Victor lingered in the Gallery of Old Masters for his own pleasure, before buying a takeout coffee at the Kunsthalle’s tastefully decorated Café Liebermann, and left.

The art gallery sat overlooking the Elbe and Victor walked the short distance along the river bank to the ferry port.

He boarded behind an elderly couple who moved slower than he would have believed possible, waiting patiently until he had room to walk past. He took the rolled-up newspaper from a pocket of his overcoat, unrolled it and kept it in his left hand. In his right hand he held his coffee cup. After climbing the steps to the top deck, he found a spot on the port side from which he could watch the steps without being obvious. He counted twenty-two passengers.

The vessel was just under ninety feet long and twenty-four feet wide. Smaller than he’d expected. Good. Too small for anything to happen. If there was an ambush waiting for him, it wouldn’t take place here.

The waters of the Elbe were black like the sky above them. The horn sounded and the ferry pulled away. Victor pretended to be just another uninterested passenger while he studied the other people onboard. He was dealing with criminals, not trained operatives, and he saw nobody who could be either.

At each stop, he watched who embarked. The ferry was used by a range of people, some on their way back from work, others on their
way out for the night, tourists, a few on the way to the night shift. He paid attention to anyone who wasn’t young or old, but no one gave him reason enough to watch closely. A couple sitting across from Victor had no inhibitions about expressing their affection for one another. He did his best to ignore them.

At the fifth stop three people boarded, of which a lone man registered on Victor’s radar. The man ascended the steps and with no subtlety paused to look around at the other passengers. He wore loose jeans and a long leather jacket. His square face was etched with purpose. After waiting too long to avoid being noticed he sat down in front of Victor.

‘Get off at the next stop and follow me,’ the man said without turning around.

At least you did that right, Victor thought.

Victor disembarked at the next stop. He abandoned the newspaper and switched the coffee cup to his left hand. In the distance, moonlit clouds silhouetted the harbour’s tall metal cranes. The air was cold. Victor’s suit jacket was unbuttoned. He had no gun to draw but it was easier to fight or run without a jacket than with.

The man in the leather jacket didn’t wait for him. He was already walking along the riverside in the direction of the harbour. He walked fast, his strides as purposeful as his face had been. Victor didn’t follow immediately but spent a moment observing the area. No one nearby.

Victor followed at the same pace as his guide to maintain the distance between them. He didn’t know where he was being led to or what awaited him when he arrived, so a little space between them was a necessary precaution. When his guide reached their destination, Victor would have some time to analyse the situation while he caught up.

They turned away from the river and along a canal that ran between huge warehouses with tall, arched windows. There were few streetlights and the area was quiet and dark. The sound of traffic was in the distance. Victor’s gaze swept back and forth, down and up, continually evaluating the environment for signs of an ambush and advantages to exploit in the event of one.

Working on the assumption that the guide was right-handed like
ninety per cent of the world, if he drew a gun, he would naturally turn around in the opposite direction of his dominant hand to shoot at someone walking behind him. It was quicker that way. So Victor walked behind and to the right to maximise the turning distance, and therefore his own warning.

Up ahead the man stopped near to a wide alleyway. He turned to face Victor and waited for him to catch up. Victor decreased his pace, watching, listening. When he stopped before his guide, the other man gestured to the alleyway. Victor waited.

‘Down there,’ the man said. His hands were in the pockets of his coat.

Victor didn’t move.

The guide remained stationary for a moment. ‘I said down there.’

‘I heard you the first time.’

The purposeful face showed understanding. ‘Don’t like people walking behind you?’

‘No,’ Victor admitted.

The man nodded thoughtfully. ‘That’s smart.’

He took his hands from his pockets and walked first into the alleyway. He didn’t look back. Victor followed after a few seconds. There was nowhere to run or hide in the confined space of the alleyway so Victor stayed close his guide. If he pulled a gun, Victor wanted to be near enough to grab it.

Fifty feet down the alley, the man stopped again. He used a key to unlock a metal door set into one of the warehouses. Hinges squealed.

‘Here we are,’ he said.

The guide looked at Victor, gave a knowing smile when Victor didn’t move, and then stepped through first.

Victor followed.

Inside, fluorescent ceilings lights illuminated a vast open space full of stacked crates and boxes. The air was cool and damp, smelling faintly of mould, rotting wood and marzipan. Victor stayed close to the guide. There were no people that he could see or hear.

The guide led Victor to the far side of the warehouse, heaved across the metal shutter of a freight elevator and stepped inside. He
closed the shutter after Victor entered and pressed the button for the third floor. It took a few seconds for the ageing machine to come to life and squeaks and clanks accompanied their ascent. They left the odour of marzipan behind but the smell of mould and rotting wood deepened. Victor tilted his head to the left and then right to crack his neck.

He saw their legs first. Two pairs of boots and faded blue jeans standing near each other. He could hear one part way through telling a joke – something about a prostitute and a vacuum cleaner. He stopped speaking before the punchline as Victor came into view. Of the two, he was obviously the muscle, six-four and around two-twenty or -thirty. An even layer of stubble covered his head, chin and cheeks.

BOOK: The Enemy
3.23Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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