Charles and Alex were alone with large glasses of brandy, sat either side of the fireplace in Charles’ study. They had a raging fire going and it was safe to say, that their hair was drunk.
“So you’re telling me, that you think that he was the man, that collared us at that cafe in the first war? If I didn’t know you better Charles, I’d think that the stress of the last few days had got to you.” Alex said, focusing on his cousin through the one eye he could keep open.
“Pah! He should count himself lucky that my brother pulled me off him before I could do any real damage.The bloody cheek of turning up at my wife’s funeral after he bally murdered her! The bloody police were no use, I called Inspector Deacon at home, but his damn wife wouldn’t put him on the phone. She said I was drunk!”
“Charles you were, I mean, we were and are, absolutely bloody sozzled. I think we need to re-examine this once the dust and headaches have settled down tomorrow. Come on, I’m going to bed.” He stood, throwing his brandy, glass and all, into the fire.
The chaps had made it to the morning and were now sitting in a small cafe, trying to look inauspicious and keeping very quiet. It turned out the pilot’s German wasn’t as good as he had led on and he had almost got them caught when he indicated three coffees using his three middle fingers, rather than the thumb and first two, as is the usual German way. It took some quick and aggressive talking from Alex, to put the curious cafe owner off the trail.
They had tried discussing a plan of escape in German, but had given that up, as they had realised quickly, that three men in German uniforms, discussing how to get behind British lines, may end up with them being shot as deserters by the Germans.
“Wir sind gefickt.” Alex said.
“Ja, wir sind sehr gefickt.” Charles replied.
It took the pilot a moment, Alex could see him working through the verb tables in his head, before a small smile appeared, which was replaced quickly by a look of forlorn resignation and then.
“Guten Morgen, Kapitän. Sie sind weit von Ihrer Einheit entfernt, oder?”
They looked up to see a German military policeman.
“Do you ride Alexa?” Kath asked across the table.
The women were currently engaged in a post dinner game of cards. It was a game Kath hadn’t played before, called Poker. She had just about got the understanding of the rules, but it was apparent that Alexa was the better player, so Kath was resorting to distraction tactics.
“Ride, like, a horse?” Alexa responded.
“Well yes, what else would you ride?”
“There are many things a lady can ride Kath and more things a woman could ride.” Alexa said with more than a little bit of a gleam in her eye.
“Like what? And what could a woman ride that a lady couldn’t?” Kath responded, completely missing Alexa’s insinuations.
“When you are old enough to understand, you will understand.” Alexa replied, then laid down her hand of cards. “A royal flush, the best hand in the game. Lucky me!”
Kath threw her hand down with more than a little irritation. She had barely a pair to match her opponent’s cards and so far had not won one hand.
“One last game? Double or quits?” Alexa said shuffling the cards. “And tell me, what do you do for fun around here?”
It was a very German click. Solid, not aggressive, confident but not brash. It was a noise that had been developed by engineers and artisans to inspire confidence and security in those that heard it.
“Fucking stupid for an indicator.” Charlie said to it.
Charlie was in the car, but the car was in a hedgerow. The car had turned its own hazard warning lights on and Charlie had been sat listening to the lights turn on and off, for quite some time.
He was still miles away from the city, but could see what looked like a power station a few fields away from where he was sat and if he could have seen the view from the satellite tracking him, he would have seen the two collection wagons barrelling down the motorway towards him. But he couldn’t.
“Looks like I’m walking again.”
Charlie pulled on the door handle, which opened the door with another well engineered noise and stepped out into the hedge. He climbed over the car and headed off across the field towards the power station. This was easier said than done, as the field was about waist high in what looked like densely packed wheat.
Daniel was stood outside the front door of you know who, arm poised ready to lift the heavy brass knocker. One thing for certain was, his superior had a considerably nicer abode than he did. He paused for another beat, fighting the rising angst and bile filling up his throat, then lifted the knocker and gave one loud knock. He resisted the urge for a friendly rat a tat tat.
After a short pause, the hallway light turned on and after some shuffling of locks and latches the door was opened by an older woman.
“Can I help you sir?” Her voice was as creeky as the door knocker was sonorous.
Without hesitation, Daniel pushed past the old lady and stormed down the corridor. It was late, not so late that everyone would be in bed, but late enough Daniel hoped for the children to be out of the way.
He found his boss sat in his study, nursing a large glass of something that looked like scotch. He looked up as Daniel entered and it became apparent that it was not his first drink of the night. Daniel shut the door quietly and pulled up the chair opposite him.
“I’m sorry friend, but I don’t recognise you. Were you an old acquaintance of my wife?” Asked Charles.
The other man smiled. “No not an old friend of hers, I only came to know of her very recently in fact. It is very sad what has happened to you. I have had similar experiences myself. Perhaps we may talk about them?”
Charles looked at the man in an effort to assess whether his instincts were correct, or whether, he was just very drunk. Well, he knew he was very drunk, but he wasn’t sure whether this was impacting his instincts.
“Could you hold on a moment, I just need to get someone.”
Charles walked back to Alex.
“Alex, could you come with me and meet someone please.”
“Charles, I’m busy here.”
Charles grabbed Alex and dragged him away from the group.
“Hold on old chap!” Alex protested, but Charles had him well held until they reached the man at the other end of the room. By now, the whole room was watching.
“I’d like you to meet my cousin Alex.”
“Ah yes Alex, we have crossed paths, a lifetime ago.”
“Apologies, I don’t remember you at all sir!” Alex responded.
“Just keep walking” Charles said under his breath to his colleagues.
“Well there isn’t much else we can do is there!” The pilot replied.
“Es tut mir leid, papieren bitte?” The voice behind them came again, this time followed by the familiar metallic crunch of the bolt being drawn on a German Gewehr 98 rifle.
“It’s no use, we’re going to have to stop.” Charles said slowing and turning on the spot.
“Guten abend, der nacht ist sehr schon mein hehr. Meine papiere sind zu hause.” Charles hadn’t had to use his German for a while, but hoped the fact that the uniform he was wearing, outranked that of the guard questioning him, combined with the fact that the pilot was wearing a German police officer’s uniform, would help disguise that.
“Wo ist deine hause? Kapitän?” The four men were now stood facing each other.
“Oh come on, it’s three to one, let’s stop messing around.” Alex said in English, before, with lighting speed, slamming the butt of his pistol into the German’s gawping face.
“Come on let’s hide him before he wakes up.”
They dragged the man down a side alley, tying him up with his own boot laces.