I heard a romantic story.., p.1

I Heard a Romantic Story_Love Is Murder, page 1


I Heard a Romantic Story_Love Is Murder

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I Heard a Romantic Story_Love Is Murder


  Lee Child

  One paragraph, one voice, one story by Lee Child. Enough said. ~SB

  I heard a romantic story. It was while I was waiting to kill a guy. And not just a guy, by the way. They were calling this guy a prince, and I guess he was. A lot of those guys over there are princes. Not just one or two a country. Families have princes. All kinds of families. They have princes of their own. There are hundreds of them. They have so many that some of them are twenty-five-year-old assholes. That kind of prince. And he was the target. This young asshole. He was going to show up in a large Mercedes sedan. He was going to get out of the backseat and walk about ten steps to the porch of the house. The porch was supposed to be like they have at a Marriott hotel, but smaller. Where you get out of the shuttle bus. Only they made it too small for cars. I guess it was supposed to keep the sun off people. Maybe animals. Because, by the way, this was India. It was the middle of the day and everything was scorching hot and too bright to look at. But this guy was going to walk to this porch. And the porch was kind of walled in partly. And as soon as I was sure he was moving at a consistent pace, I had to time it right so that I actually pushed the button first, and then he got to the walled part of the porch second, and of course the wall was where the bomb was. So it was just a button job. Easy enough for one guy to do. Except of course, they sent two guys. But then, they always do. No guy is ever alone. You go to the movies and you see the guy all on his own? Obviously he’s not all on his own, because there’s a cameraman right in his face. Otherwise you wouldn’t be seeing him. There would be no movie. That’s a minimum of two guys right there. And that’s how it was for us. Two guys. If I was a sniper, you’d have to call this other guy the spotter. Except I wasn’t a sniper. This was a button job. I didn’t need a spotter. But he was there. Probably a CIA guy. He was talking to me. It was like he had to validate the hit and give his permission. Maybe they didn’t want any radio snafus. So they put the guy right next to me. Right in my ear. And presumably he knows this Mercedes sedan is some distance away, and therefore some time away, and therefore his validation was not going to be required until some future period. And we could see the road, anyway. Certainly we could see the last hundred yards of it. After the turn. And we’d have seen dust clouds miles away. And we weren’t seeing any, which gave this guy time to talk. And he talked about how we’d gotten as far as we had, with this prince. He laid the whole thing out. He told me how it was done, basically. Which was not complicated, by the way. It was just a number of fairly simple things. They all had to work together, and we’d get a positive result. And obviously one of the strands was the old thing with the girl, and that part was working fine. Which is what this other guy was telling me. Because he seemed to be in charge of the whole girl part of the program. He was the chief. He sent the girl. Which was obviously a matter of selection. It’s about judging the task and sending the right girl. Which this guy did. I don’t think there was a lack of self-confidence in his choice. The problem was the best girl for the job in his professional judgment was also the same girl he was in love with, which obviously placed him in a predicament. He had to send the girl he loved into battle. And not battle with guns and bombs. The weapons his girlfriend was going to use were considerably more personal. It was that sort of game. And the guy knew it, obviously. He was the chief. I’m not saying he invented it, by the way. I’m saying he was currently the world’s leading exponent. He was the big dog. It’s not a question of second-guessing the guy. He did the right thing. He was a professional. He put his country first. The girl went. And did a fine job obviously. Within two weeks the guy was heading to this house in his Mercedes. That’s diligence, right there. Two weeks is a pretty short time. To get a positive result in two weeks is extraordinary. Positive in the sense that I still had to push the button. I was a strand, too. I was the final strand. All I had to do was push the button. If the guy showed up. Which he did, because of this other guy’s girlfriend. She must have done all sorts of things. The guy knew that. This is what these girls do. But he’s kind of denying it. That’s what he’s saying to me. He’s making it different for her. Maybe she didn’t do all these things. Or maybe she did. The guy didn’t make it entirely clear to me. But if she did, it was because she was doing it for the mission, of which he was the chief. She knew he knew it was mission critical. So she did it. She delivered the guy, and I’m waiting to push my button, which is on a cell phone, by the way. Cell phones are what we use now. They built a whole network just for us to blow things up. Private capital. Providers who take complaints. With radios you couldn’t complain. If something went wrong you shrugged your shoulders and you tried again the next day. But if some guy gets his call dropped, he complains. He complains real loud. Maybe it was some big deal he was doing. So the cell companies keep things working. The only drawback being the time lag. You dial a call, it’s a long time before it rings. There are all kinds of towers and computers in the way. All kind of technical management. The delay can be eight whole seconds, which was why it was all about timing. I had to judge his pace so I could push the button eight whole seconds before he got where he was going. After he arrived in the car. Which wasn’t happening yet, which gave the guy time to talk, which he did, mostly about this girl. She was living with him. Obviously not for the two weeks she was with the prince, which was the point of the whole conversation, which was actually a monologue on his part in that he was attempting to convince me he was okay with it. And that she was okay with him being okay with it. It was a minefield. But allegedly both of them were okay with it. This is what the guy was trying to persuade me about. While we waited. Which turned out to be for an hour, by the way. For one hour. We were in position one hour early. Which proves the guy planned to use the time talking, because he was the one who drew up the schedule and he was the one who was doing the talking. About this girl. This girl was an angel. Which I was prepared to believe. This was a hard guy to tolerate. But he told me all the stuff they did together and I couldn’t help but believe they had several happy years behind them. They weren’t doing new-relationship stuff anymore, but they weren’t doing old-relationship stuff yet, either. They were doing normal things, happy, maybe still a little experimental, same as some people do for a long time. I was convinced. It was a convincing description. At the time I was sure it was true. Which it was, obviously. Eventually a lot of people saw it for themselves. But it was possible to see it way back. I believed the guy. He sent the girl to the prince. They’ve both had a great time the weekend before. They’re cool with it. He’s okay with it, and she’s okay with everything. So they do it. Monday morning, off she goes. And that should be it. He’s the chief, she’s a girl in the field, there should be no contact between them. None at all. Organizationally she’s lost to him now. She’s gone. She might not be coming back. Because some of them don’t. There have been fatalities. Hence the protocols. No personal involvement. Which they’ve been faking so far, but now they’re going to have to do it for real. Except they don’t. They sneak visits. Which is a huge off-the-charts no-no professionally. It’s going to screw everything up forever. It’s a double whammy. She’s no longer deniable, and his cover is blown. But they did it. And not just once. They met five times. In two weeks. Five out of fourteen. That’s a pretty decent fraction. Not far from one half. Which is a long time to be away. Her performance was miraculous. She got the job done in two weeks, half of which was spent back with her original boyfriend. Who was telling me all about these visits. Which was another breach of discipline right there. I mean, what was I? He should have asked for ID. But he didn’t, which means he thought I was just some dumb guy who di
dn’t matter. Which was ironic, because I was just the same as him. In fact I was exactly the same as him. I was a government operator, too. His equal in every way. Except I didn’t have a girl. He was the one with the girl. And he was visiting her. The first time she was fine. She’d only just met the prince. They were still in the formal stages. The second time, not so much. They’d moved beyond the formal stages. Twenty-four lousy hours, and the prince was already doing stuff. That was totally clear. But we’re talking national security here. The best kind. You blow someone up in India, you save a lot of problems later. Maybe you save the world. Obviously people like this guy and his girl have to believe this stuff. Or maybe they already believe this stuff before they join. Maybe that’s why they seek out those jobs. Because they believe certain things. They believe there is something bigger than themselves. That’s why the girl goes back to the prince, even after that second visit. We can guess what she’s doing, because she’s in a bad state when the third visit rolls around. The prince is not hitting her. This is not a physical problem. The prince might not be doing anything at all. He could be totally naive and inexperienced. He could be undemanding. There was a range of possibilities. But she had to supply his needs in a very submissive manner. Whatever they were. She had to smile and curtsey like she was the happiest girl in the world. Which is a strain, psychologically. She was not having a good time. But she went back. She was determined to complete the mission. That’s the kind of person she was. Which put the chief in a permanent circular argument, of course. He couldn’t stop the girl he loved because if he could he wouldn’t have loved her. She would have insisted she go. He would have insisted she go. National security is a very important thing. These people believe that. They have to. So she went. And she kept on going back. She seemed stronger at the fourth visit. Better still at the fifth. She was in control now. She was doing it. She was like a boxer who just won the belt. Sure he hurts, but not much. She was like that. She was going to deliver him. She was the undisputed champion of the world. She was nearly done. She was coming home. Except maybe that boxer’s hurting worse than he lets on. Maybe she was. Maybe she’s tired, but she’s close. So she fakes it with you. She’s okay to go back. So she goes back. But part of faking was exaggerating. She’s going to deliver him, but it’s not going to be easy. Not like she’s making out. She’s going to have to offer incentives. Which she hasn’t mentioned to you. Because she’s exaggerating. She’s telling you it’s better than it is. She’s in control, but not all the way. And she conceals it, so you don’t know. And then you see the dust cloud miles away, and you wait, and then the Mercedes comes around the turn, the last hundred yards; it’s an expensive car, but dusty, and it parks right where it should and the guy gets out of the backseat. And like a prick he leaves the door wide open behind him and just walks away, like he’s the king of the world, and I’m already timing him. He’s doing that kind of fit-guy hustle, which is actually slower than it looks, but I’m on it and I know exactly when I’m going to push the button. Then the girl bounds out of the car behind him, like she had dropped her pocketbook or something and was delayed for a moment, which is exactly what I think she did, because she’s doing a kind of apologetic thing with the body language, a kind of I’m-an-idiot look, and then she catches up to the prince and she takes his arm in a kind of affectionate way. Almost an excited way, to be truthful, and you realize she got him there by promising him something special. In one of the rooms, perhaps. Maybe something he’s never done before. They’re giggling like schoolkids. They’re bounding ahead. They’re right there at the point where you have to hit the button. And by now the validation process is seriously screwed up. We’re just babbling to each other. But we know one thing. National security is very important. It’s bigger than either of us. We believe that stuff. I have to. So I hit the button. My timing was good. No reason why it wouldn’t be. I had no lack of self-confidence in my estimate of speed and direction. Eight seconds. They were perfectly level with the wall when it went up. Both of them. And that was the end of the romantic story.



  Lee Child, I Heard a Romantic Story_Love Is Murder

  Thanks for reading the books on GrayCity.Net


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