Tag Archives: Nazi

Trusting Liar (#5)

as31-iGertruida is the first to recover. “Klasie…?”

“Ag drop the pretence, Gertruida. You all call me ‘Liar’ behind my back, so why stop now? Might as well be on the same page, yes?” Liar’s face is flushed with anger; the muscles in his thin neck prominently bulging. “That diamond belongs to me. Hand it over.”

“What are you doing? Put away the gun…”

“No! This…,” Liar sweeps his one hand towards the horizon, “…is my place. Mine!  I earned it! And you…you have no right to be here!”

“Listen, Liar, we’re not the enemy. Whoever is looking for you with the aeroplane and the chopper….well, it isn’t us. In fact, we were worried about you and that’s why we followed you. We’re here to help, man!” Vetfaan’s voice is pleading as he takes a step closer to the distraught man. “Now, put down the gun and let’s chat about all this.”

Liar hesitates, taken aback after clearly being convinced that the group  had hostile intentions. “I…I’m not sure I believe you…”

“And we’re never sure whether we can believe you, either.” Servaas’s remark lessens the tension as a few suppressed guffaws escape. Even Liar has to smile.

“Here, here’s the diamond.” Getruida holds it out to Liar. “You take it and put down the gun. We need to talk.”

Liar seemed to deflate the moment he realised the group didn’t represent a threat of any kind. He took the diamond, stuck it in his pocket, and sat down next to his rifle. Gertruida carefully detailed their quest  to warn Liar about the  Cessna –  and to help if they could. It takes a long time to convince Liar, but such are Gertruida’s skills that he eventually apologized for his behaviour.

“I…I suppose you deserve an explanation,” Liar sighs – then he tells them a story they’ll never forget.

***

After Robey Leibrandt was arrested, Walter Kempf gained access to the only aircraft available and took off, heading for Windhoek. He left in a considerable hurry, of course, and had didn’t have the time or opportunity to plan the trip. As soon as he had the plane cruising at about 2,000 feet, he took stock of his situation. In the bulky suitcase rammed into the hold, was a number of gold coins and two shoeboxes filled with diamonds. While he was confident that he would be able to bribe his way into South West Africa to get past the officials in Windhoek, his immediate problem was fuel. The Gloster was (at that time) quite famous as a survey plane but Walter had no idea how far he could fly with the two full tanks.

He switched off the left tank and flew only on the right-side fuel supply, reckoning that would give him an idea of range. Figuring out that he might make Kimberley, he headed west. It was late afternoon when he landed near the city of diamonds, where he used some gold coins to convince a lone attendant to fill up his tanks. Not wanting to stay too long, he took off almost immediately. The police interviewed the attendant the next day, documenting the last official sighting of the Gloster.

The modern runway at Upington

The modern runway at Upington

Walter knew that flying at night would be dangerous, but fortunately the skies were clear and the moon almost full. His plan was to follow the Orange River to Upington, where he hoped to refuel again. However, when he estimated that he was about a hundred miles from Upington, the oil-pressure gauge started dropping. Peering from the open cockpit, he could see smoke from the left engine. He knew then: he was in deep trouble.

He no longer had the luxury of time to follow the bends in the river below him; now he had to plot and guess the shortest way to Upington. He veered off to the north, which was a mistake. Had he gone south, he would have picked up the road to Upington, which would have at least offered him a chance to land. Soon, however, he only had the expanse of desert beneath his wings as he switched off the overheated engine. The aircraft was still maintaining altitude, but flying the cumbersome craft under the power of the single remaining engine was beyond the capabilities of Walter Kempf. He had to find somewhere safe to land…

Walter later described his landing as a miracle. He found a straight, narrow passage between two dunes and managed to make an almost perfect touchdown. Almost. An unseen mound of sand snapped off the left wheel, causing the craft to slew around and wedge itself into a dune. With the wheel off and the propellers bent, the aircraft’s flying days were over.

The exhausted pilot surveyed the damage, correctly decided that he was marooned in the desert, and decided to wait for sunrise. Curling up in the hold behind the pilot’s seats, he slept until he was awakened by the hushed voices of three Bushmen who stood talking around the crashed plane.

***

“So there he was, surrounded by Bushmen in the middle of the desert, fleeing for his life.” Liar pauses as another thought strikes him. “You know that Robey Leibrandt was sentenced to death, yes?”

Only Gertruida nods – she knows the history. Jan Smuts eventually commuted the sentence to life imprisonment; but when DF Malan became Prime Minister, Leibrandt was released from jail.

“I still don’t see how you tie up with all this, Klasie…I mean Liar?”

Servaas gets a weak smile from the man. “Ag , you can call me anything. Truth be told, my entire life had been a lie, so I don’t object to being called what I am.” He falls silent for a moment before continuing. “You see, those Bushmen helped Walter to get back to civilisation. He only took a few gold coins with him, leaving the rest of the treasure in the hold of the plane – he thought he’d go back sometime. Anyway, after three days of heavy walking, they reached a farm, called Breekyster. The farmer and his wife took good care of Walter and he stayed there for more than a month.

“Also on the farm was an old man – a bywoner – and his daughter: Nikolaas Cronje and Mathilda, or Mattie as everybody called her. They were common, poor labourers on the farm, a struggling father-and-daughter family impoverished by the recent Great Depression and the subsequent droughts. Oom Nikolaas, I was told, used to farm with sheep near Loxton, in the Karoo, before he lost everything. His wife died from pneumonia while they trekked from farm to farm, looking for work. Eventually they found refuge on Breekyster, where they were allowed to stay in the barn. The farmhouse was a modest affair and Walter shared accommodation with the Cronje’s.

“Walter told the old man – he had been a rebel in 1914, objecting against the government’s plans to fight the same Germans who helped the Afrikaners during the Anglo-Boer War – the whole story. Everything. As a Nazi sympathizer, the old man was overjoyed to lend a hand. He helped Walter to get ready to return to the earoplane – and he left one morning early with a backpack, a pistol and a compass.

aa3“Walter was never seen alive again. His body was found ten days later, a day’s walk from the farm. The desert had been too treacherous, too wild for him. A sidewinder snake was found nearby with a bullet hole through it’s neck. Surprisingly, both escaped being ravaged by scavengers.

“Needless to say, nobody reported the issue. Walter Kempf simply disappeared as far as the authorities were concerned.

“Old oom Nikolaas was saddened by the passing of his new friend – but not as much as the grieving Mattie, who realised she was pregnant on the very same day Walter was found. In fact, she almost miscarried… ” Liar sighs, staring at the diamond. “Maybe it would have been better if she did – I would have been spared a lifetime of misery…”

The Curse of the Bogenfels (# 8)

goldbar_armband“One thousand kilograms of gold? In little bars, stamped with the Reich’s insignia? Wow!” Kleinpiet lets out a long, low whistle. “That must be worth something, hey?”

Gertruida nods. “Work it out: at $50,000 a kilo? And, if you added the novelty value…collectors would fork out considerably more. The Rand being such a joke these days, you can add two more zeroes to the sum.”

Matotsi manages a wobbly smile. “Ya-a-as. A lot of loot. Out there, somewhere. Many Nkandlas…”

***

Bogenfels

//Xuiram is happy. The spirits have blessed them with a downpour of rain, filling the hollows in the rocks around them and causing little streams to run down the rock face. A pool of water collected at the back of the cave they’re sheltering in, as well.

Still observing the ritual silence, he leads his family in a slow, foot-stomping dance for a while. Later, he’ll get out the fire-sticks and wait for the embers of the twigs they collected to glow before he’ll sprinkle the holy herbs over the ashes.

Yes, he thinks, my season has gone. It’s been a good one. He glances over at his oldest son, feeling glad that he’ll be able to leave his family in capable hands.

***

Boggel’s Place

General Matotsi is much more focussed now. Boggel’s special wake-up coffee contains a Kenyan mix of freshly roasted coffee beans, a dash of hot chocolate, a sprinkling of cinnamon and a tot of Amarula.

“So…what do we do now?” Elsie sips a Green Ambulance while eyeing the general critically. She has to smile at the situation: here she was, trying to get closure on her father’s death – and suddenly it exploded into a mystery of Nazi gold, international intrigue, and the government’s greed for money. Who would have guessed…?

“I’ll tell you what I’ve pieced together. Your father was sent to Bogenfels, to look for the wreck of the City of Baroda. It was a long shot, but Captain Wilmott swore under oath that the box was left in the captain’s safe when the ship sunk. Van den Bergh an Diederichs had information that the box contained a sample of the gold and details of where it was hidden…”

“But I don’t understand what the Smit murders had to do with all this?” Gertruida holds up an apologetic hand for interrupting the small general.

“Aah…that. Yes. I’m not sure. But…assuming Smit stumbled across some irregular overseas accounts? Accounts that were used to finance a plethora of underhand activities. Accounts only known to Diederichs, Vorster and maybe van den Bergh.  Vast accounts. Accounts fed by a number of less-than-legal ways. And suppose, out of these accounts, a number of secret operations were funded. Operations, including buying rocket fuel from Pakistan; buying nuclear intel from Israel, obtaining weapons from Belgium and the US of A. Should such information be made public, a number of political faces in South Africa – and elsewhere – would have had a lot of egg all over them.” Matotsi sighs. “I think your father’s operation was financed through these funds. Anybody digging deep enough – at that time – could have unravelled the puzzle. So Smit – brilliant though he was – made a fatal mistake. A few days before his murder, he made an announcement that he would make a public statement that would shock the nation.”

“But all that was forgotten and buried in history. Nobody was interested any more. However, some time ago we were discussing the shortage of funds, one of our old agents jokingly mentioned the case of the missing millions again. The treasure, he said, was still hidden in Namibia somewhere. Now – that made a few people sit up straight. Here was an answer to some of the government’s financial woes – there for picking up and bringing home. Free.” Matotsi pauses, signals for another coffee. “The only problem being that Namibia is independent now, and we’re on friendly terms with them. And we sure as nuts don’t want to share it with them…or anybody.”

“So you had to scare me off…?”

“Yes, madam, exactly. You were getting too near something we wanted to keep secret. We couldn’t afford that.”

“The answer, then, is at Bogenfels. Find the wreck, dive the site, get the safe, get the instructions and possibly a map, get the fortune?” Gertruida, being practical as usual. “Why don’t you just locate the wreck and get it over with?”

Mototsi sighs and gives her the what-do-you-know look. “We can’t start a search without drawing attention to ourselves. A sea or air recon will definitely lead to questions being asked. The Namibians aren’t stupid. They spot a South African aircraft or boat nosing around in their waters, and we’ll have to explain exactly what we’re doing there, and why. No, this must be done quietly, without them realising what we’re doing.”

“I realise that.” Gertruida rolls her eyes. The man thinks I’m dof... “That’s why I’ve got a plan. Why don’t we become common, garden-variety tourists? One happy group of people cruising through a neighbouring country, anxious to see what’s happening next door. See sights. Drink beer. Take photographs. Have a ball….and visit Bogenfels?”

***

Bogenfels

//Xuiram sits down next to the embers, inhaling the aroma of the sacred herbs.

Send your family out. There’s a gull’s nest next to the foot of the Holy Rock. They’ll find eggs there. And your son will see the burrow of a rabbit. He’ll know what to do.

The Bushman smiles contently. Yes! More blessings on their being there. He looks up, glances at his son: what a fine young man he’s become! Their eyes meet. Then, without a word, the young man motions for the rest of the family to follow him.

IMG_3147Inhaling deeply, //Xuiram closes his eyes again. It isn’t dark when he does this: in fact, with his eyes shut, he can see quite clearly how his son leads the family down to the foot of the huge arch. Sees them find the eggs, hears the whoops of joy.

Then he sees a white man, a man with a peaked cap and a sodden, white uniform, walking towards the very cave he is sitting in. The man carries a box, a heavy box, causing him the breathe deeply. It is hot outside. Sweat drips from the man’s brow. He can see individual drops of sweat coursing down the stubbled cheeks. The man glances over his shoulder at a big ship just beyond the breaking waves, There is a smaller boat in the water, taking people to the ship.

With a last glance backwards, the man stumbles into the cave. He looks around. Fixes on a hollow in the rocks at the back of the cave. The box gets shoved into the hollow. The man drags another rock in front of the hollow. Then the man walks out to wait for the boat to pick him up.

***

Luderitz, Namibia

IMG_2909“It’s not exactly a bustling city,” Matotsi says. “Looks a bit forlorn to me.”

“Don’t be deceived, General.” Gertruida is in her element. “This used to be an important harbour. And right now, you’re next to the richest diamond fields ever discovered. Anyway, we’re not here to pubcrawl. Tomorrow we’re off to the Sperrgebiet and the Bogenfels. Who knows what waits for us there…”

“Yes, okay. At six we’ll get the helicopter at the small airfield. Low tide is at seven. The pilot is an old member of the recces – he’ll take us to the last known coordinates of the City of Baroda. According to the naval charts, the sea is about thirty metres deep there. With a bit of luck…”

The Curse of the Bogenfels (# 7)

images (65)General Matotsi comes from a long line of shepherds: he’s used to being obeyed.  Running DEAD is a simple affair for him: you issue orders and await results. This time, however, reality didn’t fit into the scenario he had hoped for. Surely warning off an old lady cannot be this complicated?

He gets off the helicopter. trying to look grim. Unfortunately, his features pucker themselves up in a cartoon-like resemblance of Nemo, which is why Gertruida has to concentrate to keep her face straight. The little general stomps in to Boggel’s Place, comes to a halt, and studies the bemused faces studying him.

“What is this all about?” Attack being the best form of defense, he doesn’t bother introducing himself.

“Ah yes. You must be the general?” Syrup dripping from Gertruida’s words. “Come in, dear man. Sit down. It’s so hot outside, you must be thirsty? What can Boggel get you, sir?”

Matotsi cannot decide whether the woman is stupid or being sarcastic. Nevertheless, he sits down at the counter, refusing the beer Boggel is waving at him, growling “Not while I’m on duty.”

Boggel nods with his understanding barman face, suggests a cooldrink, and excuses himself to fetch it from the storeroom.

“We still have the other chap.” Vetfaan seems to be talking to his glass. “A veritable fountain of information he’s been. I actually like him. Pity he isn’t here. Not feeling well, he said.”

“Wha…?” Matotsi swings around to face Vetfaan. “Where is he?”

“Listen, General, let’s get something straight. This is Boggel’s Place. Maybe you’ve never heard about it, which explains your confusion. The first rule upon entering here, is that you stomp the dust off your boots, take off your hat and say hello. Then, if you don’t know the people, you introduce yourself. Thirdly, we only drink cooldrink when the cactus runs out. Otherwise we’d think you’re a bit of a whimp, see?’

Matotsi can only stare at the big man.

“So, let’s start over, shall we? I’m Vetfaan and you’re…?”

The general gives his surname, but Vetfaan shakes his head. “First name?”

“Alpheus.” By now the general is completely unsettles. Who are these people?

“Okay, Alphie, this is how it’s going to play out. We’re a peaceful bunch over here. We don’t pick fights – especially the ones we cannot win. But we do believe in peace and harmony and we subscribe to equal opportunities. See? We have women in the bar and a disabled barman. We also practice religious freedom, which explains why Oudoom’s church isn’t always full on Sundays.

“But we don’t assault old men, and we don’t threaten mature ladies. That’s what your men have been doing. We don’t take kindly to that. Gertruida – she’s the one over there – knows all about DEAD and she’s written a most entertaining letter about it and it’s recent activities regarding the lady over there, Elsie. Now she’s waiting to see if she must post it to The Mail and Guardian.

“I suggest we all sit down, relax, and share a brandy. Then, as becomes civilised men, let’s have a friendly chat.”

This is the longest speech anybody has ever heard Vetfaan make, and it is so eloquent that he receives muted applause from the Rolbossers.

“Ja. And tell your three men – the bodyguards outside – to take a scenic tour of the town and its surroundings. They make me nervous.” Kleinpiet feels he has to say something, anything, to show everybody he’s brave, too. He puts on his Basset face when he gets no response from the little crowd…

Gertruida says you mustn’t think shepherds are stupid. They live in the veld, get to know the weather very well, and understand risks. Matotsi weighs up the odds as he accepts his cooldrink from Boggel. If he tastes the generous tot of Vodka in the orange juice, he shows no sign of it.

***

Gertruida is fond of saying alcohol is the greatest social lubricant ever invented. She also says smaller quantities are the source of great wisdom – before the next glass brings out the imbecile in you.

So it’s no surprise to find the bar a rather rowdy place two hours later. Vetfaan discovered that he and Matotsi must have had each other in their sights during the bush war. Strangely, it forms a bond between the two men.

“You were at Cuito Cuanaval? Hey man, that time I was really scared! Eish…I think we all were.”

Vetfaan nods, orders another round, and tells Matotsi he still wakes up at night, hearing the mortars explode.

“I do, too,” Alpheus Matotsi admits, clinking his glass with Vetfaan’s.

“Now tell me, Alphie. What’s this with you being involved with scaring old ladies? You guys fought bravely in Angola…what’s with you now?”

 ***

Matotsi remains silent for a long time.

“I’ll tell you,” he says after obviously coming to a decision. “But what I say now, remains here. I have the power – and the influence – to make your lives…very difficult. Understand?”

Oudoom assures the general that they won’t whisper a single word of the conversation. He doesn’t lie – he didn’t say anything about talking or writing.

The general’s account tends to drift off the subject every now and then, but Gertruida manages to piece it together.

The Nationalist government realised it was in trouble in the 70’s. The world was turning against them, their funds were drying up, and civil unrest took it’s toll. They were still firmly in the saddle, though – but they needed a lot of money to keep them there.

images (66)It was general van den Bergh who remembered the story of the City of Baroda. It was one of the bits of gossip making the rounds in the internment camp where the pro-British government of the 40’s held the members of the Ossewabrandwag (who sympathised with Germany).

According to the talk in the camp where van den Bergh and John Vorster were locked up, the Third Reich was crumbling under the combined assault of the Allies. However, the die-hard members of the Hitler regime refused to believe the end of the war would be the end of the Nazi dream. No, they planned a Fourth Reich.

“The Germans smuggled out something to South West Africa.” By now Matotsi had to concentrate really hard to keep the narrative together. “Had a lot of sympathy there amongst the people – most of whom still spoke German as a first language. And then they wanted to let their sympathisers in South Africa know about it. So a letter and a box containing evidence of what they’ve done, was sent to a member of the South African parliament – somebody they trusted. But…” he waves a wobbly finger in the air, “the box was on a ship. Ironically, the ship was sunk by a German U-boat.”

Matotsi’s eyes, set high and wide on his pointed face, starts drooping. Boggel immediately serves a mug of strong, black coffee.

$T2eC16F,!yMFIcTu(VTBBSM22eyPyQ~~60_35“Van den Bergh guessed this had to do with a massive fortune. Gold. He knew the Nazi’s already established a bank in Monaco in 1943 where they tried to hide their treasures. Later, in an investigation by the Americans into the way Germany tried to secrete away money for later use, they confirmed that a shipment of gold was smuggled to South West Africa.”

“Operation Safehaven,” Gertruida whispers. “The West stealing the assets the Germans stole…”

General Matotsi almost loses his balance as he spins around to face Gertruida.

“You know about this?”

Boggel laughs. “She knows everything, Alphie. Everything. Get used to it.”

“Oh.” Matotsi sipped the scalding coffee. “Well, that was what Boss was looking for back in the 70’s. The Minister of Finances sent an expedition. They died in the desert. That was the end of it, until this woman started poking around.” His one eye focussed on Elsie. “And we couldn’t have that. No sir. Not at all.”

“Why, Alphie?”

“Because we’re looking for it, too…”

Gertruida’s Journey (# 3)

obBoggel allows Gertruida to ramble on and on, telling him everything about Paul Harrison and the past. She’s on her third Cactus by the time she finally falls silent.

“Wow….that’s quite a story, Gertruida. And to think you never shared this with anybody? Kept it bottled up for all these years?” He reaches over the counter to pat her shoulder. “I suppose the rest must know, as well. If we want to prepare for his stay, everybody will have to be on the same page. What do you think?”

Gertruida only manages a small nod.

***

They started exchanging letters as soon as Paul settled in the small flat in the outskirts of London. At first the letters were what one would expect between good friends: news about the weather, lodgings and various mundane events scarcely filled the single page in each envelope. As friends-never-to-be-lovers, the need was to assure each other that life goes on and that they’re okay. Gertruida expected the letters to become less frequent with time, and after about six months it seemed as if she was right. By now she was studying political science at the University of Pretoria and stayed in a flat in Hatfield – both of these sponsored by Mister Harrison, the kind and generous lawyer in Calvinia.

Two months had gone by since Paul’s last letter, when he knocked at her door one evening. She was overjoyed, invited him in and offered coffee. With a nervous glance over his shoulder, he closed the door firmly before hugging her.

“I’m in a bit of a hurry, Gerty. I promise to stay longer next time, we’ve got a lot to catch up on. For now, I’d like to ask you a favour.” He put down his attaché case on the table with an apologetic smile. “A friend of mine will come to pick this up within the next few days. His name is Ronnie. Don’t give the case to anybody else, and make sure Ronnie is who he says he is. Don’t trust anybody. If he can’t tell you the name of the first opera I took you to, he’s not Ronnie.

“I’m sorry, this is all I can tell you now. I am on a very tight schedule, so I must leave immediately.” He barely finished his coffee before leaving.

His visit left her completely bewildered. He hadn’t explained anything, leaving the inquisitive mind of Gertruida to piece the puzzle together. Paul was involved in some undercover work and now has drawn her into whatever he’s busy with. Why? What does it mean? He did flee the country to escape being conscripted, didn’t he? And he did hope to meet up with communist-minded activists in London – about that he had been abundantly clear. So…surely he’s taking huge risks in coming back to Pretoria and that’s why his visit was so short. Whatever it was, the contents of the case held the answer.

She tried opening the case, only to find it surprisingly sturdy and fitted with a set of excellent locks. There was nothing to do but wait for Ronnie.

Two evenings later, her studies were again interrupted. The man said he was Ronnie and she had something for him. She asked and he answered: Carmen. She invited him in.

“Look..er…Ronnie, I may have something for you; but first I need to know some facts.”

Ronnie wasn’t keen, but Gertruida wasn’t going to let him off the hook. The case, she said, wasn’t there. Unless Ronnie cooperated, she won’t tell him where it was. Ronnie sighed, accepted coffee and gave her the bare minimum. It was enough.

Paul had indeed met some people in London. By the time he arrived in London, the ANC and the Anti-Apartheid Movement had consolidated their relationship and were functioning well with the funds they received from the UN and other countries (including Britain, while still supporting the Nationalists). One of their many logistical problems was to communicate with  their supporters inside South Africa, to accomplish a coordinated approach from both outside as well as inside the country. They needed volunteers to courier documents, pamphlets and news into South Africa – people who preferably knew Afrikaans and could easily pass as travelling businessmen. Paul, with a new passport and identity, fitted the role perfectly.

“Am I now an accomplice?” Gertruida was upset at being used so blatantly, “You must realise how important my studies are. I can’t risk everything by being part of a clandestine operation to overthrow the government? Surely you understand that?”

Ronnie put down his cup carefully while weighing his answer.

“You are already an accomplice, Gertruida. Whether you like it or not, you have already committed treason by accepting this attaché case. Better get used to it, girl.”

***

Boggel’s Place is packed to the rafters by the time Gertruida arrives. Her expression is tired and drawn, her shoulders slumped and even Servaas thinks she’s shrunk a little. The formidable woman they all admire, has been reduced to a shadow of her old self.

“Before you say anything, Gertruida,” Oudoom holds up a hand for silence, “let me assure you that we support you 100%. I’m not sure what this is all about, but you have done enough for this community for us to help you in any way we can.”

Gertruida thanks him with a hint of a smile.

“I’ll start at the beginning… My parents were members of the Ossewabrandwag – or the OB as they called it. Like you know, this organisation was against South Africa becoming involved in World War II. Over the years historians attributed Nazi-like characteristics to the OB, but in reality it consisted of men and women who felt passionate about an independent South Africa. Most of them  were true patriots who failed to see why we had to send our young men to die in North Africa and Europe. Like so many of these organisations, the common people who make up the membership had little or no idea what policies were adopted by the top structure. If you loved your country, you joined the OB.

“It follows, then, that I grew up in a Nationalist home. From the beginning I was taught that the future of South Africa depended on the separate development and protection of the various cultures in our country.” She sighs as she scans the concerned faces staring at her. “We were all brought up like that, I think. If your parents, the schools, the church and the newspapers all told you exactly the same thing, you tend to accept it without question.

“And yes, preserving culture, tradition and language is important for every nation – the continued existence of groupings in society depends on it.

“But then, when I studied political science, I began to have my doubts. The draconian laws didn’t make sense. The idea that some sections of society are protected and benefited solely because of skin colour was ridiculous. To force people into locations, compounds and homelands, the government made more and more laws that verged on the insane.

“Okay – if you’ve got that background, I must tell you about Paul…”

***

In a hotel room, a thousand kilometres away, a man picks up the phone.

“He’s disappeared, Boss.”

“What…!”

“Gone. Vanished into thin air. I still followed him this morning to his flat. He locked his door. I was satisfied he’s inside. When night-time arrived, he didn’t put on any lights. I waited an hour, then rang his number. Nothing. I knocked on his door. Nothing.

“Then I picked the lock, Boss. He wasn’t there any more. He’s gone, like I said.”

“You bloody well find him, hear me! I don’t care what it takes, but you bring him in! This cat-and-mouse game has gone too far. I want him here!” The man drops his voice to a threatening whisper before going on, “And you better get him here…do you understand?’

“Yes, Boss. I’m on it, Boss.”

Click.