The New European – A Short Story
Jack White was feeling uneasy. That was highly unusual for him; he was normally ice cool. Something did not feel right. Perhaps it was merely this unusual partnership with MI5? It did not add up. Why weren’t the Brits doing their own dirty work? They had experts who could work with this stuff. Why did the CIA have to get involved? He’d been mulling it over on the train all the way down to Salisbury. He could not figure it out. But one thing Jack knew was that he could not get the feeling out of his head that he was being set up. But he had his orders and it wasn’t his job to deal with the politics.
Towards the end of his journey the agent from Porton Down dropped the package off without problem. It was small but deadly. He had no doubts about it doing the job.
It was the dark haired woman in the black coat that was causing the hair at the back of his neck to bristle. He’d noticed her when boarding the train and something about her demeanour raised his instincts.
Reg was so nervous his face was bright red and his hands were shaking. He’d been planning this for weeks. It meant a lot to him. He was really keen on Ivy and he knew that she liked him. They’d been seeing each other for over a month now but this was his first time he was meeting the boys. Reg knew that it was crucial to make an impression. If they took a liking to him it would make all the difference.
Why did things have to go wrong just when you needed them to needed them to go right?
Reg, noted the dark haired woman trailing in his wake and set off along the High street, looking relaxed but with every sense straining to pick up every detail. It might be coincidence but he was taking no chances. He slipped into a supermarket and, with practiced skill, shook her off. The sooner he got this job done the better.
He checked his information. The Russian’s daughter had parked in the multi-storey carpark. It was a short distance away. The assumption was that they would be leaving shortly to head for the restaurant. The Russian did not cook. Jack had time.
He entered the carpark and checked; there was no CCTV and the place was deserted. Jack pulled on the surgical gloves, slid a facemask on, and purposefully approached the car. Extracting the small aerosol and deploying it as trained, he squirted the fluid into the car’s air vents. Striding away he slipped the empty canister, gloves and mask into the airtight envelop and sealed the pack. His training was thorough. You could not afford to makes mistakes with anything as dangerous as this. He placed the envelop into a second airtight bag and headed off back to the station. His work was done.
Reg simply could not get his car started. He was in a bit of a panic and toyed with a taxi but his teenage son, Bob, came to the rescue and offered him his. It was not quite the image he was hoping for with its fake red fur seat covers and that stupid great Christmas tree air freshener dangling from the mirror; but beggars can’t be choosers. He was late.
Ivy gave him a funny look when he arrived in Bob’s old Fiesta. It was not quite what she was used to. She raised her eyebrows.
‘My car wouldn’t start,’ Reg explained forlornly.
Ivy looked over the faded red paintwork and her eyes settled on the scratches on the bonnet.
‘It’s my son Bob and his Sue,’ Reg told her with a wan smile. ‘He tried to scratch their names on the bonnet,’ He shrugged. ‘Young love.’
Reg needn’t have worried. The boys didn’t seem to notice. They piled into the back, joking and laughing. By the time they reached McDonald’s, the first port of call on the way to the park, Reg’s nerves had settled. Ivy seemed happy and relaxed and the boys were easy.
They parked up in the carpark, finished up their burgers and fries, and headed off for the boating lake and water chute in good spirits.
Jack made his way to the rendezvous in the bookshop and slipped the package to the Porton Down man. Feeling much happier now he headed for the station. Just inside the entrance he caught sight of her. The dark haired woman with the black coat was casually drinking coffee while surreptitiously watching the crowd. Jack faded into the background slipped into the newsagent to observe her for a minute. There was no doubt. His training kicked in. There was no decision to be made. He headed straight to the busses and boarded the first one.
The sun was shining and the boys were having a great time, racing each other in the pedalos and running off to the water chute. Reg and Ivy sat drinking coffees and watching. They held hands and smiled happily lost in a warm glow that had welled up inside them. The hours passed.
Jack’s training was thorough. He was one of the best. In these circumstances it was essential to do the unexpected. He disembarked at the park. Noting that there was no cameras he strode purposefully into the carpark selecting an unexceptional car as he went. Walking up to it he opened the door with practiced expertise and within seconds had the engine going. It was no real challenge with these old Fiestas. He drove out of the carpark and headed off. Pulling into the first lay-by he used his phone to set up the route. His exit strategy was already thought through. He counted on having at least three hours, probably a lot longer, before the details of the stolen can filtered through to any police cars or vehicle number plate recognition systems. He had time to get to Bristol. He would park the car up in a side street and hope that, when they found it, the police would put it down to just another joy-rider. He had ample time to disappear.
Of course, there were so many things beyond his control. If they had anything about them they would soon track the car down. They would get there. No matter how careful he had been there was bound to be traces left. Nerve gas clings to material. The car would have traces. Jack would be tracked down. By the time that happened he would be long gone – first to Finland, through Russia, then to China before seeking the safe house and being whisked home. That should be enough to confuse the issue. There would be repercussions. He was sure about that.
‘Where’s the car?’ The four of them stood aghast, staring at the space where they knew the car had been. Despite that they all looked around the carpark but, of course, no red Ford Fiesta presented itself. It was definitely gone.
‘It’s been stolen,’ Reg articulated the thoughts that had been going around all their heads, with an air of disbelief.
‘HU17 BAC’ Reg said to the young police officer who was assiduously noting everything down. ‘I can’t believe anybody would want to steal it. It’s just an old banger really.’
‘I’m sure it’s just a young joyrider, sir,’ the officer assured him, looking up from his notebook. ‘A few more details if you could, sir.’
‘It’s just an old Red Ford Fiesta,’ Reg explained hesitantly, straining his brain for any other helpful details. ‘It’s not even mine. It’s my son Bob’s.’
The police officer did not seem impressed.
‘It’s got Bob and Sue scratched on the bonnet,’ Reg added eagerly. ‘Though that is not very clear.’ He said doubtfully, realising that this might not be too helpful.
Even so the officer meticulously wrote it down.
‘It’s got red fur seat covers,’ Reg volunteered. ‘And a GB sticker. Bob and Sue went round France in it last summer.
‘I see,’ the officer said, completing his notes
Reg couldn’t think of anything else to add. ‘I hope it hasn’t been used in a robbery or anything?’ His imagination was running riot. Criminals did steal cars to commit crimes.
The officer chuckled reassuringly. ‘Don’t worry sir. I’m sure your car won’t spark any international crisis.’