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Mad dog, p.20

Mad Dog, page 20

 

Mad Dog
 


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  As Enrique approach the 4x4 Martxelo got out of the drivers side and advanced towards him hand outstretched as he apologised profusely for the scare that he had given them, explaining how he had no other option but to swerve across their path, if he was to avoid a head on collision, one of his rear tyres having exploded.

  -No problem, -said Enrique warmly shaking his hand, -one hell of a bit of driving, if you don’t mind me saying so. Done a bit of rallying or something? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better controlled spin using only three wheels. –

  -Yeah, I did the Udana climb as part of the Euskal Rally several times when I was younger, suppose some of it has stuck. Must admit, I wasn’t sure I could pull it around in time, I only saw the stop sign at the last moment and guessed that there had to be an opening there. –

  “Basque” thought Enrique.

  -Good god you mean you didn’t even know for sure that the road was there. Now that is impressive! –

  “Too impressive” thought Enrique as he scanned the 4x4 and the two passengers that were getting out of it.

  -Fortunate, I’d say, -Answered Martxelo, -you and your passenger alright? –

  -Yes, fine thanks, the wife got a bit excited for a moment but she’s alright now. Ever changed a wheel on a Patrol? I’ve had the misfortune to do so a couple of times and Nissan have done a fantastic job at complicating the jack. You need a degree in origami in order to unfold it. –

  -Well no I haven’t actually, but it can’t be that complicated can it, I mean I’ve changed plenty of others? –

  -Oh yes it can. Listen, get the jack out and I’ll show you how to open it and then I’ll leave you to it if you don’t mind, we’ve got a two o’clock reservation at the El Picachuelo and they’re a bit fussy to say the least about being on time. Been there yet? It’s a little expensive but well worth the trouble. Live round here do you or on holiday? – asked Enrique as he headed towards the Patrol, Martxelo in tow.

  Martxelo suddenly felt a twinge of anxiety, he didn’t want this guy looking in the boot and he was starting to ask too many questions. For the first time he paid special attention to Enrique, tall, slim, probably athletic and with a straightness of stance and hair style typical of the military or the Guardia Civil. “Guardia Civil!” his mind shouted. He carefully started to answer Enrique’s questions in sequence aware that a refusal to allow him to help them would be ridiculously suspicious.

  -No not been there yet though we were planning on giving it a go this weekend before we have to get back off to Valladolid, we’ve heard that it’s pretty special. Our holidays run out this weekend, been trekking around the area for two weeks now. Set off early this morning for the northern point of the reservoir, quite spectacular the views from there although the views from above the Dam take some beating. Listen, if you’re in a rush leave us to sort out the jack, I’m sure we’ll manage, we wouldn’t want you to miss your reservation, not if it’s as good as you say, would we? –

  -No don’t worry, it won’t take a moment and I’ll be off. –answered Enrique as he reached the rear of the Patrol.

  As Enrique stretched his hand out towards the boot door Martxelo, Mustafa and Txabi automatically shifted their positions Martxelo covering his escape route back towards the main road, Mustafa moving two paces to the rear of him and Txabi moving just off to his side.

  “Shit” thought Enrique “they’re adopting attack positions”. Slowly, aware of his numeric disadvantage and the presence of his wife only twenty yards away, Enrique grabbed the metallic Nissan disc that acted as a wheel hub to the spare tyre which covered two thirds of the door and firmly twisted it to the left. With a muted click the disk released and Enrique laid it to rest on the floor then pulled the jack out of its coupling clamps. Within seconds he had twisted, unfolded and relocated the pieces of the jack so that suddenly it adopted the appearance of a normal jack. Martxelo was the first to react, springing forward placing his hand on Enrique’s shoulder.

  -That’s amazing, -said Martxelo laughing, -It’s like one of those Transformer things. Can you do it again but this time slowly. It’s a trick well worth learning. As Enrique slowly redoubled the jack and then slowly move by move reassembled it Mustafa and Txabi moved in at his side and the tension disappeared.

  -Well if you’ve got that I’ve got a wife and a hot meal waiting for me. –said Enrique passing the jack over to Martxelo. –Oh by the way I’m Enrique. –

  - Gaizka, -said Martxelo reacting rather than thinking, having been trained to respond with the name of the registered vehicle owner.

  -Enrique. –repeated Enrique extending his hand towards Txabi who replied Eder, his favourite false name, meaning good looking, before he repeated the operation with Mustafa who simply nodded at him and smiled.

  -Right I’m off. –said Enrique turning towards the main road, pleased with himself at having been able to get at least two of their names and even more so at being able to control his nerves and therefore the situation.

  -Thanks for everything, -said Martxelo more convinced than ever that he was a Guardia Civil.

  -Anytime. –answered Enrique waving as he strode confidently back to his car.

  As Enrique drove off tooting his horn Martxelo turned to Txabi and Mustafa.

  -Let’s get this fuckin wheel changed and get out of here fast, that guy is a Guardia Civil if I’ve ever seen one. –

  -What? - Gasped Txabi. ,

  -Yes I know, -answered Martxelo grudgingly, -but I wasn’t sure so what was I supposed to do, kill the fucker?

  -You weren’t sure? asked Mustafa coldly.

  -How was I supposed to be? –

  -Well I was! His posture, his continual scanning of the scene, the change of pace of his movements the moment that we adopted positions, only a person with training could control himself so well. Oh and by the way, what did you tell him that made him check out our feet? –

  -I told him we’d been out trekking, I suppose he was checking that we all wore the correct footwear so he may well believe me but just in case lets get the hell out of here and get this heap of junk out of sight. -

  Within five minutes they were back on the road and in less than twenty were at the safe house with the Patrol parked below the car port and out of sight from both land and air. It was almost another hour later that they heard the distant sirens, sirens that they assumed to be the start of the search for them. They were wrong, the sirens were of the Guardia Civil and Ambulances that rushed to the scene of an accident at km12 of the M131 where a Ford Mondeo had left the road, crashing into the ditch and rebounding into the boundary wall killing the driver and seriously injuring his wife and two of their three children, the third and youngest receiving only superficial injuries. It appeared that the car had driven over a broken bottle neck some two hundred yards earlier, the same bottle neck that had exploded Martxelo’s tyre.

  Enrique climbed into the car next to his somewhat exasperated wife who, as was her custom, saved no time in moaning.

  -Made some new friends have we? -chirped Patri exaggerating the sarcastic tone of her voice, -don’t worry about me, I’ve been fine, sitting her alone trying to recover from the shock of you nearly killing me, -she continued getting into her stride.

  -I’m sorry darling, he replied patronisingly patting her leg before starting the car and beeping his horn as he drove off, -but if you don’t shut the fuck up I’ll finish the job. Pass me my mobile phone! –his voice changing from patronising to intimidating in an instant. Unaccustomed to being spoken to in that way she did the only thing that entered her head, she passed him the mobile and shut up doing her best to appear offended.

  Enrique tapped in the number of La Comandancia de Madrid de la Guardia Civil where he was stationed and asked to be immediately passed to O.C.C. (Operations Control Centre).

  -Good afternoon I’m Guardia Enrique Segarra Borras from the intervention of weapons and explosives division. Listen I’ve just left three individuals on the M131 at km12, two Basques and
an Arab. I suspect them to be members of ETA, I mean the thing is they were more than a little suspicious and maybe it was my imagination but they smelt of sulphur, not only that but as I neared their vehicle they adopted what appeared to be assault positions and they told me that they had been trekking up at the northern edge of the reservoir yet none of them had damp boots, I mean the entire northern area is drenched at the moment with the recent rains. I got their names and the number plate! -Enrique himself started to realise that what he was saying was sounding anything but convincing.

  -Hold on a moment I’ll just check the vehicle number, -said the operative. –You say he gave you his name? –

  -Yes. –replied Enrique.

  -It wouldn’t have been Gaizka Etxandi by any chance would it? -

  -Well, Gaizka, yes. – replied Enrique.

  -Yes well the vehicle, a Midnight Blue Nissan Patrol 2004 is registered to a Gaizka Etxandi in Bilboa. There are no fines or penalties pending against either the vehicle or him. Hold on a moment I’ll just check our Mr Gaizka Etxandi. No! Nothing on him at all, he’s clean. I’ve got to say that a guy giving you his real name doesn’t sound too suspicious to me nor particularly indicative of membership of ETA. –

  -Yes but the smell of sulphur and their positioning? –

  -Were any of them smoking? -

  -Well yes, the Arab. –

  -Matches? The smell is quite similar and as you yourself said “they appeared” to adopt assault positions, and as for their boots, well they could have changed them or simply avoided the wet areas. Look, I can report this incident if you like but are you sure? –

  Enrique suddenly felt full of doubt and became acutely aware of just how easy it would be for him to be branded as a fanatic, as overreacting, as paranoid and the effects that an incident like this could have on his career and decided to let things go.

  -Yes, I’m probably just over reacting, sorry to have bothered you. Thanks. –

  It was a decision he was to regret the following Monday morning when he returned to duty and found in the in-tray of his computer a photo of Mustafa, a most wanted terrorist, suspected of being active and imminently dangerous.

  18

  Harvey received the report from the agent sent to Hans Road shortly after Harris left him, they concluded that the van must have taken the service road at the back of Walton Place and from there left on either Beaufort Gardens, Beauchamp Place or even taken a side passage between Nºs 12 and 14 Walton Street which would have let them join either Walton Street itself or cross directly onto Pont Street Mews which would have taken them back in the direction of Hans Street. They were currently interviewing the neighbours of Walton Street but it would appear that no one had seen anything unusual, not that a Thames Water van using a service road would have been considered “unusual”. They were also examining the CTTV from the cameras that covered the areas surrounding the possible exits but in the case of Beaufort Gardens the only camera is at the entrance on Brompton Road and that camera rarely faces the Beaufort Gardens entrance, concentrating instead on the heavy Brompton Road traffic.

  The hour that Hazy and company had waited on the service road served its purpose perfectly as having scanned all the CCTV footage for the area up to half an hour after they disappeared from view MI5 concluded that they had indeed left unobserved via Brompton Road. Not all was bleak for Harvey however, from the security cameras at Harvey Nicholls, in front of the station entrance, they managed to get an extremely clear image of the van parked waiting, the pity was that the only image they could get of the driver was that of the back of his slightly balding head. Just above the rear indicator there was a scratch and a dent, just what they had been looking for!

  Charlie decided to investigate personally and set off for the Thames Water garage to see if he could locate the vehicle from the photo. It took Charlie more than half an hour to get to The Thames Water Depot on Lea Bridge Road north of Hackney where he was immediately directed to the Depot Mangers office. Martin Bailey one of the rising stars of Thames Water had been in charge of the depot for six months and had already implemented a series of “improvements” that had radically changed the relaxed yet productive working environment that George Beasley (Head of the Paint Shop) and his peers had enjoyed over the previous twenty five years despite changes of company name, management and even location. George had spent the last six months satisfying Martin’s apparently insatiable desire for statistics and spent virtually no time “hands on” which is what he enjoyed most, well apart from his hostelling in the Lake Districts and North Wales, which is exactly what he was doing when Charlie visited.

  George Beasley, 43 year old, bachelor and painfully introverted was in his last year of an Open University Masters Degree in Geology and Geography and was preparing his thesis on the demise of lead and copper mining in North Wales. It was perhaps not the most scintillating of coursework but had the benefit of being perfect for both Geography and Geology, with a minimal amount of manipulation he could use the same thesis for both and thereby save an enormous amount of time, something that he had precious little of since Mr “stats” Bailey had appeared in his life. George had only ever worked for Thames Water, in its various forms, and until lately had never considered the possibility of doing anything else, his studies being no more than a hobby to him. Recently, and in the light of his remarkably good grades and an excellent offer of free students grants for mature students looking to move into teaching, he had been seriously considering a change of direction. At the moment Charlie visited “his” depot George was leaving the Snowdonia Mountain Lodge where he had enjoyed his early lunch half way down the Nant Ffrancon Valley as he headed towards the Penrhyn Slate Quarry in Bethesda, which was to be his last stop prior to picking up his Triumph Bonneville from the pub where he had left it almost two weeks earlier. The previous day he had visited the disused Old Sygun copper mine near Beddgelert, one of the last working mines in North Wales having only been abandoned in 1903, which is currently an excellent study centre into 19th century mining techniques as well as dump for the Penrhyn Slate Mine as are many of the old mines. The photos he obtained of the ferrous oxide stalactites and stalagmites would adorn his thesis superbly as would the early evening shots of the quite superb Nant Ffrancon valley which he took from the Idwal Cottage Hostel, a converted mine managers cottage in Capel Curig, where he stayed that night. The afternoons trek had left him shattered and for the first time on the trip he failed to spend the evening propped up against a bar deciding instead to read The Quote Garden which as the title suggests deals with quotes and sayings, one of Georges passions. He slept soundly with a smile on his face having read a phrase attributed to Mark Twain although probably actually belonging to Charles Wentworth Dilke “lies, damned lies and statistics” which is used to describe the persuasive nature of numbers and the use or misuse of statistics in particular to bolster weak arguments, “and the weak minded” thought George to himself Mr “bloody stats” Bailey in mind. The relaxing trek the following morning along the bed of the Nant Ffrancon valley came as a massive relief to George who in the absence of company and above all any means of contact, never turning on his mobile phone whilst on holiday, gave him time to muse over his future and in particular the fact that he only had four more days of holidays before returning to Thames Water. His mind was practically set.

  -Good afternoon Mr Bailey, -started Charlie taking the set of photos of the van out of his file, -I was wondering if there is anyone here that can identify this van for me. –

  -Well it’s one of ours!, -exclaimed Martin Bailey as if stating something other than the obvious.

  -Yes, thank you Mr Bailey, we had reached that conclusion ourselves which is why we are here. What we would like to know is who drives this particular van. –

  -Why, what’s he done? –

  -Mr Bailey, -said Charlie starting to get weary of Mr Bailey, -I cannot tell you that nor do I think it is relevant, is there anyone here who could recognise the van from these ph
otos? –

  -Well yes, I think George could, they say that he can recognise all the vans in the fleet from the smallest of details. –

  -Excellent, can I see him please? –

  -Well no, he’s on holiday until Wednesday next week. –

  -Where has he gone and do you have a contact number for him? –

  -Well, I’ve no idea and I certainly haven’t got a number for him, perhaps one of the older members of the staff would know, they have a bit more contact with him but he’s a bit of a loner, doesn’t really seem to have friends as such. –

  In the end the only person that had the slightest idea of where George had gone was Bert Ellis Head of the Body Work Shop who had sat with George for both morning and lunch time breaks for the last fifteen years and all he knew was that he had gone trekking, that he had gone on his precious Triumph Bonneville and that it had something to do with a university course and mining, as to a phone number, they got that with no trouble, but they were also informed that it would be of no use to them until he returned from his holidays as he had it switched off so that he would not be bothered. “As if anyone would bother the miserable old sod” was the general opinion.

  -I’ll need his home address and his bank details if you have them, -said Charlie to Mr Bailey. –

  -I’m sorry but that’s private information and I can’t reveal that without authority. –replied Bailey officiously.

 
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