I wrote the draft for this in my ignorance having got smashed by attacks of Rheumatoid Arthritis which are now under control but only by natural stuff and my feet, body and hands have been butchered.
At one point I was using metal gloves and arm supports but it hits the gums and teeth as well.
I now stay on Indian food and supplements and I enjoy Yoghurt with a Tandoori Masala and smear it on everything plus of course Tumeric, Ginkgo, Black Pepper, Ashwagandha, Gingseng and D3 but back to the book.
It was written as a short action thriller and then I left it and wrote the FYOG the books which were how I thought British Politics were going with the Brands deciding; the Plebs reduced to not being able to move from her homes and never more than 60 miles; Slave Camps; Brands ruling everything and even the Plebs had to attend camps to decide who they could have children with …?
Anyway this is pure Politician’s crap with the only honesty from someone who might remember the word.
I don’t know whether Scooter followed the Major or whether the Major followed Scooter but Bishop told me they would do what the instructions were on the label or the Major and his crew would die and Bishop would kill them which since that included me, led me to asked Bishop was he going to personally shoot me and he might as well get it over with now as the whole affair was a joke to my eyes?
I’d already heard the story of the Major and Scooter driving around the jungle loaded with cash. It was a Bishop favourite and he’d been more involved than he wanted to disclose but Bishop was still hurt by something that happened there and blanked off whenever the topic got close.
Who knew who possibly gave the instructions to the monkey as Scooter drove the Major around the jungles with stacks of notes yet no-one was apparently paid off according to Bishop however no-one ever complained about not receiving money when due so did they or didn’t they get paid off and once again you could see the betrayal and set-ups all emanating from Parky.
I’d seen some this already happening with the crew until Parky decided, except suddenly the money was there in the safe and in the ‘V’ boat and who put it there?
Mr Hoo was again dreaming of past glories and if we couldn’t stop Mr Hoo from trying to relive them all our glories would be past … but who put Mr Hoo out onto a devil kill everyone mission …? With us the first in line as we were betrayed by everyone.
Was Mr Hoo thrown out by the CIA for enjoying his work too much or was there too much work so they were working in countries who would torture when they couldn’t torture them themselves although they supplied the guys to supervise and shipped them to where the torturers could work; was it that he couldn’t take what the CIA has inflicted …? Still the desire of Control Freaks was there but yet again those dreams of control meant Mr Hoo had lost it and did he now dreamed of pain and failure or proving everyone else wrong?
Such romantic times. I know we could screw up so who am I to criticise failure or …? What the hell and I still thought, like a fool, that hell was a freezing flat and I didn’t need reminding of finding a woman who could make a cold freezing house seem a luxury …?
Once she thought I had money she decided to stay with regular phone calls to her mother ever night and day until she realised the Bank owned the flat and I could not earn enough to pay for her and the house?
I tended to be known as ‘Boy’ those days although I started life as Ralf until there was a cold snap freezing both my arse and my bank account and my girlfriend after speaking to her mother, started calling me, Boy?
In my rough ‘Raffish’ days I was paying for a mortgage and personally in the shit in more ways than one and that was not my girlfriend’s fault … she thought I had money and eventually left but then several threats and lawyer’s letters started appearing until they realised the market and I were both flat and they disappeared. I had nothing left for the lawyers and nothing for her to grab. My buying the flat had obviously resulted in the whole housing market subsiding, thus leaving nothing for anyone to do anything with anything.
The previous day to show she was still alive she had rung her mother and at least she did decide to use my warmth that night which produced chills in more ways than one as it was like making love to a deep freeze. She only had the heating on during the day when she was there and turned it off as I arrived.
I finally crawled into the dawn having tried to beat the alarm clock into submission … leisurely crawling down the stairs into the icy provinces below which slowly froze me from the waist down but I had no feeling left there anyway so it didn’t make a blind bit of difference. It was so cold I left the freezer door open for central heating and it thought it was on holiday.
The Postman instead of trying to smash his way through the letter box skidded on the ice and tried to smash his head through the door instead but at least my girl-friend wasn’t up making the first call to her mother to prove I hadn’t strangled her in the night; tempting though the thought was.
I needed a shower and if it hadn’t been for sex last night – may all leaving presents be better; it was like washing one long icicle. That morning for me seemed to sum up existence or possibly an early death that I hadn’t realised had occurred and the Funeral Director would remind me.
Stained whitewashed magnolia as I sat on my dismal toilet told me amongst other things that my diet was incomplete. The toaster from the charity shop matched the visits from the ancients who knew how to repair most of the stuff we still had or should I say I still had …?
Dirty rain, dirty streets and dirty habits if I had the money, time or inclination awaited me but who really dances around the drainpipes when the local Council can drown you by a Bus Stop?
If I’d had a decent job at least they could drown me but all I could afford was the rain, the streets and the IT Department.
I looked around for my shoes with my back complaining as I bent over to pick them up; my raincoat like a face flannel and ready for the day.
People were queued for the bus by the time I arrived and with the length of the queue we were obviously on 4 buses arriving at once with one stopping and the rest carrying on so I just found the driest piece of ground to stand on and prayed for them. So many people in the queue were muttering it looked like preparation for a mass suicide or a bible reading.
What did really got up my nose, feet and half my trousers was that the Council had decided that the middle of the road should be clear of water so they cambered it. All the water therefore ran down to the failed drains with the bus often roaring off as no-one was at the stop or still breathing if they were.
Still, those days were apparently gone and they were now thinking of building a swimming pool at the bus stop!
Benny, nice guy as he was; sniffing around so much that if we let him off the ship he needed a muzzle, lead and legs tied together but he was the most amiable of crooks and got us out of so many fixes the rest of the bunch got us into that you could tolerate almost all of his escapes from what now seemed to be an escape from being a good Italian boy who did what Momma told him …? Maybe that is where he found acceptable crime, acceptable until he laid down one trailer too many?
Irish had his weapons and his hands at least had stopped trembling.
Scooter was running out of excuses and excuses when faced with reality was his chance to join the Major for a really deep swim which brings attention if you can spare it to the fact the Major had taken failure to a high level as even an idiot Officer but in fact he did not do anything more than be an idiot who followed orders until the Devil (otherwise known as Parky from his time in the car-parks watching a Government Minister’s daughter in arresting positions that he then used and became known as ‘Parky’ … yes, it was a lovely time, officer but time for a change to the Lady Joon as I limp-handed over to Mr Hoo and hoped he wouldn’t create another war as I was falling apart and wanted to die first.
Handing over to Mr Hoo was something that you could only hope his monitors were writing up in the Blackboards of his mind.
I made my way down for some sleep to be woken an hour later by Mr Hoo who liked disturbing me just after I’d dropped off, I am sure.
Bits were dropping off me as he shook me like we were in a typhoon.
“They have just hit a US tanker off the Ghana Coast; some kid didn’t make the secure area. He thought he’d be a hero and watch what they did. They found him, shot him and hung him up by his feet as a warning. We now have clearance to go for them without being nice at all so we don’t have to ‘pussy foot’ any more although World War 3 is out. We are now Gold Go so we are official … you don’t kill US people on US ships, we are shooting duck!”
I let the words from Mr Hoo finally make their way into my sleep addled brain. Once again it seemed to me that Mr Hoo was looking for glory, “Mr Hoo, the US has been shooting duck for longer than I can recall and this is a UK ship not US!”
Thinking about it later it was a pity the duck had been given a double barrelled shotgun to fight back with, which it blasted at us every time it flew over and very soon after Mr Hoo’s words so what was going on?
It was fairly obviously someone had passed on information to someone else and we were being tracked somehow but how … Mr Hoo with his Gunge anyone was a loaded weapon that someone should had offloaded.
They first hit us around Cap Spartel and after we left Mohammedia had another swing. We had the pleasure near Fuerteventura and again around the Punta Elbow to find them waiting for us at Nouakchott before they hit us at Conakry I think.
I suppose I have lost count of the attacks although I think they hit us opposite Monrovia as well with us shifting our backsides like a hesitant damsel on her first date. When we finally made Grand Bassam they were waiting; hitting us twice in one day and there were 4 or 5 battles before we finally had a break of a few days.
Those ducks hit us for over 2000 miles and if I could get my hands on Bishop now I would be shooting Bishops not ducks.
I finally made the building. It was there from somewhere as if they couldn’t decide whether it is modern or just something to fill a hole in the landscape.
At least the lift didn’t play music … it probably only did sex and drugs and neither were coming my way as I made it through the door some ten seconds before the owners were in with the clipboard – a hard stare and they were onto the next.
One of the guy’s religion required him to be home by sunset so they had him start at four thirty in the morning so he could get his day and the free overtime in before he left.
Halfway through the day, a beep from the mobile presented the final message from my girlfriend who had been working up to leaving for some time and making my life hell into the bargain, so I would throw her out and ease her conscience … this house is too cold … gone back to mother – goodbye.
Well at least the place was mine and without supporting her, I could have the heating on at night and leave it off during the day, which seemed far more logical to me as I was the one going to work.
The Manager at the site was a guy called Bishop and we got on well as we were both ex-services.
I was a Financial System troubleshooter and remembered the interview with Bishop.
“You know Accountancy?”
“You know Systems?”
“You know Insurance?”
“You’re ex RN?”
“Fine, start in the morning.”
The shortest interview I ever had, but Bishop didn’t waste time or effort and screwing up would have me out the door in seconds and bouncing.
Amongst their other gems they created, the Israeli Insurance Brokers gave a guy who looked after the systems, three month’s notice, and suddenly we found we could not enter any payments into the Insurance Company Ledgers nor reconcile balances for anyone, with no idea of what profit was being made and the Bishop and I like good Monkeys writing Shakespeare, bodged our way around, patching the systems using paper and spreadsheets to give them a snapshot of their position and exposure.
A further gem was an Orthodox Jewish guy working there and that ultimately led to me arriving in Africa, as he needed to arrive home before sunset on Friday. When he raised the issue, the Brokers answered “fine, but start at 4.00 am to get your full working hours in and get home before sunset!”
That Thursday Bishop and I had been having a fairly hairy toilet brush day. We’d just found out about a second system time bomb!
“We seem to have a problem here, Bishop?”
“What problem is that, Boy?”
“This problem is a bit different to the earlier ones, as it is working backwards into ‘old records’. It had already gone through the General Ledger and started moving entries between accounts so they don’t match the original journals and deleting payments already made before he left, so it is working backwards but causing trouble for the future and the Audit!”
“How far back, is it going Boy?” asked Bishop.
“I don’t know Bishop. We put statements in the Lloyd’s Client files so John can go and argue with them over his 20 pints, but I can at least get hold of a paper copy of the statement and try working back, finding the pattern. That gives us some kind of target line for how far it’s gone back but at the minute, we don’t know who has already paid, who owes us and we can’t produce paper statements for John any more to go money collecting unless I can get data before it disappears and manually produce statements. I’ll have to take the previous statements, check manually if they have been paid and update manually for anything I can find.”
“Have you done this before, Boy?”
“Last time was a hotel group taken over by a firm of gamblers, with the Auditors producing their own accounts as they didn’t trust the group.”
“Sounds like good training. Good for it.”
Roger Turner enjoyed coming home to meet Antonia, complete with brandy … it seemed to make his evening and define that break from work to mostly pleasure.
Roger always wondered whether he and Antonia were lovers or lodgers? They made love on a Saturday night like clockwork … the best way to describe it.
Antonia didn’t look at other men, she loved the house, the family and the freedom to live her own life. He was there if anything happened and on the end of a phone otherwise but something else was bothering her and she wouldn’t talk about it.
Sat out in the garden, away from everywhere he made his round of checking calls watching Antonia come towards him with large brandies talking the day away.
He’d met Antonia following her legal career meltdown. She was still emotionally raw and he understood; leaving her rawness to heal which took a long time but he loved her and his business; with the challenges both brought.
Something had arisen between them that was not just on a Saturday night although this was the only physical manifestation these days, “Antonia, you are a sweet relief from the week’s toils.”
“You are talking to the brandies, Roger I am up here.”
“Then come down here!” he said, opening his legs for her to sit on, “I am in need of sustenance and only you my love can supply it.”
“In the shape of two large brandies?”
“You are worth more than two large brandies.”
“I doubt that on a Friday night but tomorrow; maybe?”
“It is good to have the worries of the week over.”
“But are they over, Roger?
He thought for a moment but his children were old enough to be to ignored now and he left Antonia, Albert and Cookie to run everything else so he just needed to earn money, enjoy life but the one in the woodpile were the troubles with the Hijackings.
Managing the oil tanker hijacks was just a bit of interest with a healthy financial reward.
There were always problems with the team activities as the operation became more complex and given a choice he wouldn’t have involved incompetence of Algenald Matthews, the arrogance of Sasha Gomez with his Russian women, or for that matter Mark Stephens but he needed Alfred Stephens with his Nigerian corrupt contacts for the oil tankers and Mark is Alfred’s associated baggage just as the women are Sasha’s baggage.
The worry for Roger however was Sasha targeting primarily US tankers thus attracting US interest which he could do without and the trouble he kept having with those Russian women which kept him in the Press. He should be targeting any tankers, not just American and not appearing in the Press with his Russian girls.
Simon Askew wondered what had propelled him into a career he didn’t want and put him into a Secret Prison which he could not speak about otherwise he was guilty of breaking International and UN Laws, not to mention UK ones.
Even this he could live with after his escape to Algenald Matthews’ office as his PA but Simon had a lot of opportunities in his life as it is fashionable to describe problems, and one of them was his friendship with a CIA Agent. Often mailing each other they were as most friends are, stupid in saying too much.
His friend emailed about a girl he fallen in love with and Simon as a friend offered up his ‘best wishes’ for the relationship whilst he ran checks as friends do on the girl, who immediately came up as a Chinese Agent involved with a ‘very Senior US Army General’.
Well what was a good friend to do?
He called his friend pointing out that he was happy for their relationship and would keep mum about it but in the spirit of co-operation what could his friend offer in return for his failing to do his duty and inform his bosses about it.
This began an enhanced friendship until one day a phone call came from his friend’s boss, “You’ve interfered in a CIA operation, caused the death of a double agent and destroyed a major flow of dis-information to China. You’ve wiped out years of planning and damaged this Agency. You have a choice Simon? You either pass information that we require to us or we destroy you!” Thus Simon was now a ‘double agent’ for the CIA and if Simon thought his life had gone bad he didn’t have the experience to really understand how bad it would become.
The last instructions to him from the CIA were to approach DV who ran the Secret Team; get him to put a team together who would go to West Africa to stop the tanker piracy on the ground and this worried him as his boss did not want to be interested in affairs outside of his position and consistently told him to concentrate on the UK.
Simon rang Matthews asking for a word, “Sir, Sir Nicholas had rung asking for your assistance on something that is worrying the PM.”
“What is that, Simon?”
“Sir Nicholas said these attacks in West Africa are worrying the PM and Sir Nicholas who preferred his role isn’t known has told the PM he will asked you to create a Team to assist in solving the problem.”
This left Matthews in a quandary. He could not turn down the PM’s ear as it was the only part of the PM’s anatomy that actually functioned in respect of Matthews apart from the PM’s boot, “Simon. I must not be seen to be involved. Will you contact DV, explain the situation and tell him it is authorised under ‘Vote XML’ and whatever sub-vote is appropriate. Tell him to do it as cheaply as possible so we show willing but risk little!”
“Yes, sir,” Simon went back to his office and ran Thomas Macguire, “Macguire here.”
“Simon Askew, Thomas. Mr Matthews wants DV to arrange something but does not want to be seen to be involved. It has come down from on high that the PM through Peres wants a team to be sent out to West Africa … something about the Piracy out there but unofficially. Matthews wants it cheap, cheerful and through ‘Vote XML’ and whatever sub-vote is appropriate he said.”
“I’ll arrange it, Simon.”
“Thanks, Thomas,” Simon rang off. It should keep the CIA happy.
DV put the phone down after the call from Tom.
The Vote number was the agreed code with Matthews, when his instructions did not come direct. He rang Bishop who DV used as an unofficial link with ex-Special Services people, “Yes, DV.”
“Matthews wants a team put together to go to West Africa. Anyone come to mind?”
“As you won’t let me sort the Major and Scooter out, take them. They’re no loss. A friend of mine knows of a couple of others living rough who are on the lists so they can go. One is a lorry driver called Benny who let a load get lifted … a Gang Bosses’ daughter’s wedding and house stuff and he is in hiding. There is also an Irish guy…. virtually a wreck these days but he is still being hunted and living rough down on Camberwell Green along with the driver. That makes 4. To show willing, you need 5. Whatever you do don’t tell them the truth or none will go. Fob them off with something. Give them pennies, ship them out, and leave them to die.”
“You do like a grudge, Bishop but penny pinching will stuff it up from the beginning. £3000 a head should do it with Matthews wasting more than that on his tea a month. I’ll get Gris to do the recruiting; your ugly face around the Major and Scooter will raise alarm bells. We can feed them one story to start with; change it the further they are away. Telling them the truth when we know they can’t get out easily seems the best idea but most of them are ‘lunch’ anyway so they don’t have a choice but we need another dead-beat … pick some young innocent.”
DV stopped for a moment to consider the rest of his team.
Gris was working freelance in Ireland and enjoying her work.
Prilloch was as usual kept in harness for those quick jobs but Bishop was causing him trouble over wanting to kill people because of history. If they started doing that, they would never stop.
Bishop and Ralf were still there in the early morning when suddenly the owners came in to check if the Orthodox guy had started yet. He wasn’t there but we were which did not initially go down very well as they also wondered why and with the drinks safe open. Bishop explained the problems with the solution, leaving the Owners happy enough but still wondering about the drinks safe that Bishop had opened.
They were staying to wait for their guy an hour later so diplomatically we left for home before the trouble started.
I eventually got back to the house to find a long tirade on the table, accusing me of everything including the death of Christ, but luckily there wasn’t anything to strip from the house since paying for it had left me unable to buy anything else and she hadn’t bought anything to put there in the first place.
I found some pre-packed Indian meals, a couple of beers and a bottle of vodka she had missed in the cleaning cupboard … my emergency rations as she never went there and celebrated my new freedom by turning on the electric blanket to burn the sheets by the time I went to bed.
I came in the next day…. nothing seemed untoward and Bishop suggested a late afternoon, finish early after last night, and we joined up at the “Coughing Parrot” for a couple of beers.
Bishop got the round in and said, “Owners rang this morning, they want you gone. They don’t want anyone around who knows how bad things are. I’m OK, having worked for Israeli firms before but you were on a knife’s edge despite my backing and John the Lloyd’s Broker put the final knife twist in to get you out!”
“John had me thrown out because I know too much?”
“I can help, Boy, as I feel a bit guilty about it. I know someone who needs a job done … First Aider in Africa?”
“What are you talking about Bishop?”
“It’s a Private Job, Boy … Government deal actually … payment and no questions … you just go on holiday between jobs and you take the money. I recommended you for it Boy … it is a piece of cake! All you have to do is join the team, keep your nose clean and £3000 is yours and I can get you a job on my next project with another Insurance Broker.”
“You agreed this before you spoke to me, Bishop?”
“How much do you earn, Boy?”
“So what Bishop…. I’m alive and not in anything dodgy!”
“It’s three grand tax free and I’ll get you on the next job. In three months there are no problems, you have good references and you just took a long break to travel. All kids do it!”
“Bishop … I want to pay the mortgage next month!”
“I’ll arrange it, Boy. It will be a picnic and you’ll get a tan as well!”
“Boy, I’d better make a move, I’m meeting Jessica in Kensington and she doesn’t like standing on her own in a street … makes her look like a whore, she says. I’ll give you a call tomorrow with the meet details.”
Paid off, thrown out and in a bar to drink my sorrows down … not a happy state of mind if I could find one!
Bishop did get me a reasonable ‘knowing too much deal; no overtime though and standard hours’ pay off but enough to get me through the month plus the references that did happen but it was money in the wallet except I needed it in the Bank and I later stood there praying the deposit slips worked so there would be a flat for when I got back.
I met the team in a bar near Marlow. The Major was an old relic from a war with a bottle and the bottle had won thus taken him prisoner.
Irish watched like a short-changed Belfast Fishwife; carried a light automatic and would probably shoot himself if he didn’t relax.
Benny was as thick as two short planks and an ex Lorry Driver who has lost one lorry too many,
Scooter ran the errands hence the Scooter nickname when he was in hearing and duck’s arse when he wasn’t. The standard joke was, “where’s the duck’s arse?” and the answer as always was, “on his scooter!”
We headed out into the Garden as Irish, Scooter and Benny stank the place out and the Major shouted it out. It made you wonder where they had been hiding and how?
“Pay attention rasped the Major,” spitting beer over us, “This is an informal job for Government so there won’t be any problems,” as he spoke he reminded me of an Economics Lecturer formerly a Coal Miner who switched from boring in the mine to boring in the classroom as I nudged the guy alongside who was snoring.
My ears shut down and I drifted off, lulled to sleep by his deafening voice. I finally woke to, “Benny – the driving, Scooter – odds and ends, Boy – ministering little cuts and bruises. Tuesday we travel as a team. No wondering off or talking to anyone,” and I drifted off again.
The plan in short was to meet up at Chelmsford Station so we had to coax money from the Major who thought we should hitch-hike before we saw a penny. Scooter in the end managed to get us £500 each, after explaining to the Major that if we didn’t turn up all the money he had would have to be returned and he wouldn’t get any of it.
Another problem was that Benny apart from being brainless was a nice guy and one of those immediately attractive to women. Benny would go into a Bar and within minutes be well established with some local lady and then drifting off with her from the Bar to somewhere else but with one small problem on his return as he usually returned with his trousers on minus his underpants indicating how he had left his assignation.
There might be no flies on Benny, but there were no drawers either. It got so bad in the end we bought him the most diabolical colours and shades of pants you could think of on the assumption there was more chance of him finding them in the dark as he hurriedly left. He kept us out of the trouble though as Irish and Scooter caused it virtually everywhere we went once they had both a drink with the travelling money.
We did finally make the rendezvous after what seemed a lifetime and then found ourselves stuck in Bed and Breakfasts across the town and ganging up on the Major who had already liberated a fair degree of the money to judge by his rosy red complexion and slurred speech, “Major, we are still staying around in B&Bs as nothing seemed to be happening. When and what is going to happen?”
“We need to get you bunch to Africa, but if it comes to what I feel will happen I want to see your feet move so fast that they see sparks fly with your arse blazing at them as you run. Don’t play the bloody hero if it goes wrong, just get out, anyway you can. No-one will know what eventually happens to us and the reason you are there! Don’t think of things like loyalty we know we are all for the Knackers Yard anyway so if we get there and it goes wrong, get out and don’t look back!” and he walked away after that outburst.
It stayed quiet for a few days after that until completely out of the blue the Major suddenly said to me, “there is a change of plan, we need to lie even lower then we’ll go over via Harwich to the Hook of Holland and drive up from there.”
I must have looked like the local Vicar, because I then got Irish who had overheard the conversation, saying, “Boy! If I had a get out, I wouldn’t be here in the first place. None of us have any get outs no matter what the crap. We are stuck with this shower of ‘bollocks’ even if we don’t like it. No way out … ‘Alive’, we are Lunch!”
Algenald Matthews enjoyed the glitzy wallpaper, the low cut dresses of the courtiers controlling the tables. The splendour of the walls, tables and the tingle that once Suzanne had given him before she resumed the arrogant, middle class snobbish habits that she now epitomised while training his daughter Zeta accordingly.
His companion was Monica who enjoyed food, drink and being waited on hand on foot. Monica … the daughter of an old associate he could never stand was her usual self in the ‘Debbie’ season seeking an early set of bed-springs he guessed but from the way she kept swinging her hips she had already managed a few.
He reached for another drink he didn’t need to try and hide the feeling that he felt he would need yet another as the losses of Monica continued to strip his bank balances. The drink and losses were even wiping out the balances on his hidden accounts aided of course by his wife who had more pretensions that a penniless Spanish Duchess. Her father had become rich as money flowed to him in his political career profiting from the swings and roundabouts of political choice but he was as tight as a duck’s arse and that made Monica available with a few drinks.
She’d looked to move in on an acceptable Politician expecting the same backhanders and he was so much to the left of the Tories in his early days he could either have been SDP, centre left wing Labour or just admissible at Central Labour Dinner Parties as charity.
For the Coalition of course ‘he would do nicely’ as the ‘Vicar of Bray’.
He didn’t gamble at cards as he was never a poker faced man unless looking at his wife when he was sorely tempted to use the poker he had picked up but it was the only aspect of an open fire that interested him.
He turned his attention back to the tables again and moved to Roulette.
He tended to ration himself generally although Monica had really got him going the other night.
Still if a Defence Minister starved, it was his own fault providing of course he didn’t have Suzanne and Monica wrecking his accounts before he could.
His real problem with politics was that he was not left enough for the Liberals, nor right enough for the Tories and like most of the Coalition Policies had a centralised compromise meaning his career stability had the substance of whipped cream in a sandstorm.
His office was now based off Horseferry Road, whilst the EU and Africa Minister had taken over his old offices as the Coalition did not regard defence as something to sully their hands with; the EU and UN providing future employment for when they lost office.
In Suzanne’s eyes as she complained bitterly there was no movement in upper circles which meant no photo opportunities meaning no reason to justify the money she would spend on clothes although she spent it just the same.
Her favourite tirade was, “When Daddy was in office,” as she scorned; “Politicians and Unionists fell over themselves to obtain his wisdom,” he held court in his country manor and Algenald knew there were more brown envelopes than a sex mail order store or the Revenue on a targeted hunt for IT Consultants but all she got these days was an open cheque book and an account automatically replenished as she spent it and she wanted to have someone react to her and not the Accountants.
She’d kept going on about ponies to Algenald and at first Algenald thought she wanted £50 notes until he realised she was talking bigger money than £50 notes – she wanted a live pony.
What would they do with a pony.
They lived in Wandsworth, damn it … where was anyone going to put the pony although he was sorely tempted to tell the pair of them where he felt they could put them, and that wasn’t the only problem.
Defence was about arms, procurement and influence … all of which he knew. He shouldn’t have been forced to take over a Secret Team, a Secret Prison and now needed a Security cleared PA.
His PA preferably female in her early 20s at his side or preferably on his lap was what he needed not a guy who needed two fingers to type and would crush his kneecap if he sat on it.
This was the Defence Ministry … not a cross between the Security Service and the Klu Klux Klan and it should have a female PA to sit on his knee … after all the shit the Defence Ministry did why was that too much for the Defence Minister?
He started attending night sittings or plays as they were known in the ‘House’ and now ‘rooted’ his dealing’s correspondence to his Accountants and associates.
He often heard rumours about her late night activities, but they never made the papers to her chagrin so he chose to ignore them until they became problems. Politicians do not panic was his mantra although in truth that was because they didn’t know what was going on as they outsourced everything.
He was sick of his wife beating his eardrums on the phone at work and then carrying on when he got home.
If she was not beating something else younger than him somewhere else into submission.
Sir Nicholas Peres had appeared completely out of a blue sky, landing like a shark in oily water after the last coalition Government failed with the Politicians falling out from the preserved bolt-holes in the UN, Europe and with the Liberals desperately needing money to challenge for seats while the outgoing Government poured into the US, UN and Europe for their turn at the trough.
Sir Nicholas however, opened his moneybags, donating largesse and allowing Sir Nicholas’ ‘oil-ways’ to grease influence across the floor with money flowing from every pore.
He lived in a house by the Thames at Mortlake and with the PM’s left wing hatred of anything in Security passed full judgements to the PM when his own Security Chief told him there was no information available.
Sir Nicholas could do no wrong with the PM and with failed operations in Security the PM was not prepared to listen to anyone criticising a major backer of his Party, and considered it ‘jealous and unprofessional’ for Security to attack a valued associate, especially when raising questions about Sir Nicholas’ background which he preferred to not be investigated.
Sir Nicholas, who knew his background better than anyone else, chose only to speak of Spanish history thus allowing his sallow complexion, political connections and Spanish arrogance to keep comment to a minimum.
Sir Nicholas however also found himself closely allied to Sebastian Rommel in Security who then supplied information that Lance Jagodzinski and Carmella Salters never knew about when they spoke to him although he had played a major part in their promotions, on the advice of Rommel to Head and Deputy Head of the Security Service following some major failures in operations and a general belief amongst the Coalition that the previous incumbents were anti-coalition Labour appointees.
Sir Nicholas was also expanding his business contacts amongst the top people in London and was especially interested in Alfred Stephens, a former UN Ambassador in West Africa with very extensive connections but his attempts to pass further into this circle were thwarted by Roger and Antonia Turner who seemed to have an unusual sway over the group involved.
Alfred’s interests in oil exploration were also of especial interest, with the US more and more interested in the exploring offshore of Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast and Ghana where the fields were rich sweet oil and easily transportable straight into US ports with no problems apart from the tanker hijackings, instability and the colonials still embedded in the countries before the US could move in.
Sir Nicholas Peres had just put down the phone from Rommel Sebastian when he picked it up again to ring Jacob Christie, the EU and Africa Minister, “Jacob, Sir Nicholas!”
“Yes, Sir Nicholas.”
“I’ve an update from a Security Contact and Matthews has put a team together to go through France and down to Africa. My contact doesn’t know where they are at the moment but thinks they are still in the UK but heading for France.”
“Anything more, Sir Nicholas?”
“It’s very hazy at the moment but they are on their way. I don’t know what Matthews is playing at but I can’t think of him doing this on his own authority.”
“He has no authority there but without disclosing your source, I have no proof that he is doing anything. Who is your contact?”
“Unfortunately, if I disclose the contact he will be useless in the future and could refuse to confirm the information. Possibly a meeting between your Aide and Matthews’ Aide might be a way forward?”
“Godfrey is an ‘old pro’, he should be able to swing it. I’ll get him to arrange a meeting with Simon Askew and see what comes out of it.”
“Thank you Jacob. I’ll look forward to this escapade being stopped before it causes any more trouble!”
Jacob Christie rang Godfrey Devel, his Aide, “Godfrey, I just had Sir Nicholas Peres on. Matthews has started some hair-brained scheme and has been found out but Sir Nicholas cannot disclose the source of his information so we can act. Can you arrange a meeting with Simon Askew and see what you can get out of him.”
“I’ll arrange that immediately, sir. Simon isn’t really one of us and he has been dumped on Matthews. I’ll arrange for next Monday. Nothing is likely to happen before then.”
Next Monday and Simon Askew arrived at Godfrey Derval’s office.
“No sugar please,” Godfrey.
“What is this about Africa, Simon?”
“How did the information get to your Minister, Godfrey?”
“I assume from your Ministry, Simon. Now I think it is time you stopped wasting my time.”
“It is always nice to know where corruption rises from?”
“I don’t think my Minister needs comments from a Junior Security Officer!” Simon.
“My, my Godfrey, you are sensitive this morning, Minister a little frenetic perhaps?”
“Simon, I do not need some Security jackass telling me what my Minister is doing or how he is. It is about time you concentrated on this country and your job.”
“Godfrey, if your Minister concentrated on this country and his job he would not keep updating the French Secret Service as I am sure we would not have so many Security failures if he did stop but Security are getting interested as these failed operations were set up at Sir Nicholas Peres’ behest who is closely associated with your Minister.”
“The question however, Simon is what does your Minister think he is up to? He is planning to unleashed this bunch of idiots into my Minister’s Territory without even the courtesy of a phone call. He has set back our relationship with the French to the ‘De Gaulle’ times with this ‘ill thought out’ action and my Minister demands you recall them immediately! My Minister is not prepared to tolerate this intrusion into his areas of interest and the fact that it has occurred is the final judgement on your job which you have now failed to do, on numerous occasions.”
“I didn’t fail to do my job Godfrey; your Minister leaks like his bladder had burst which is a normal state for him, wetting himself, whilst I keep my Minister under control and stop him reacting to the stupidity of your Minister, who seems to have completely lost it in his desire for his next job in Brussels and well away from here, thank God.”
“I not prepared to tolerate your ridiculous comments about my Minister, Simon. He has done a magnificent job in stopping your ‘feeble minded’ Minister, from destroying our foreign policy in respect of Africa. My Minister has already contacted the PM, who has spoken to his counter-part in the US and the CIA now considers this exercise closed and will not be offering any support to it.”
“Since you have once again demonstrated an arrogant belief that your Minister decides Defence issues my Minister will no doubt be onto the PM as soon as I get back. Has your Minister informed the French of where these people are in a complete breach, yet again, of Security?”
“I will not divulge information to you Simon so that is of no concern to you who my Minister chooses to talk to!”
“For someone who is supposed to know what his Minister is doing, you are a dismal, troublemaking fool, Godfrey and I see no point in holding further meetings with you since they are one way and I will so inform my Minister. I suggest you stop wasting my time to boost your ego, waste someone else’s time, somewhere else!”
“You forget yourself, Simon, you are a Junior Security Officer, I have far years more seniority that you.”
“A pity that you did not learn from your years of seniority, Godfrey because you seem to have learn nothing!”
With the final exchange of insults, 2 very uncivil servants returned to their Masters.
The low place the Major had selected for us was low indeed. A Pub in the middle of 2 lanes of carriageway bisecting it on both sides. It’s trade and entertainment were Gay Punk with the Old Queen holding Court in the Bar lashing a tongue like a razor if crossed and as the main boarders were builders it was the kind of place where you brought your own sleeping bag and ear plugs. There was more cruising in the Bar however than on the Carriageways but it did not bother with trinkets upstairs such as beds, cupboards or wardrobes and you just dossed down on the floor in a sleeping bag, but it was cheap did a really good breakfast and anyone banging away on their pleasures would give up with kneecap splinters so we tended to have peace after midnight when the bands stopped unless someone went on top for sex but it still stayed quiet until they became excited and then we got the screaming with the foundations and the Pub moving in rhythm to a variety of traffic.
If they carried on long enough they would probably move us all to the Hook of Holland which would be a bit of luck as paying for a ferry seemed to be beyond us with the Major managing the money. I was seriously realising that with this bunch of no-hopers there was no way to bail out apart from the saliva from the Major’s teeth which could float us anywhere.
The Major who was really getting fed up with our comments finally rang a friend in the army in Colchester and we now had a van for £1000 with all the army trappings and as akin to a decent car as a Dolphin 3 wheeler is to a Green Painted Fire Engine.
At least we could get some new plates and registration courtesy of the Major’s contacts and another couple of weeks delay while more money disappeared but we needed the spray job for the car from green to blue as if that was anything better – I thought the whole bunch of us could do with servicing – plus of course a new gearbox, new tires and a complete removal of the lights from the top of it and a new vest for the Major which would strip the remains of the cash we had.
I asked Benny at this point, “where are we Benny?”
“Sorry Boy, only routes I ever did were London to Manchester…. up the Motorways. We aren’t far from Chelmsford, but that is about it and we are heading for Harwich then cut across via Luxembourg, France and the Payee roads up to Marseilles. It would have been cheaper and easier to fly but my guess is someone is looking for us or we wouldn’t be in this rat hole otherwise and they must be serious people but Irish and I both have serious people looking for us so we have to put up with it.”
The Major however seemed to treat me like some wayward prodigal son who had finally returned to the fold and would often just sit there and talk to me about his life which was as interesting as my ex-girlfriend in bed. At one time he started to tell me he had been in a Singapore army jail.
I asked him, “how does a Major end up in jail?”.
He didn’t leave the Army as a Major … his drink problem had led to a lot of money going missing and he said, “that put me in jail and out of the forces!”
I asked him, “how much” and he said, “enough.”
“How did you find Singapore,” I wondered.
“I didn’t need to look for it,” he said, “they stick you on these things that fly and when you get off you’ve arrived wherever they’ve sent you!”
I did however get one answer to, “why did you ever get involved in this?”
“DV has a lot of people in the shadows and often where they would prefer to stay but they undertake work he wants done, ex-forces answering to his call and once he has you, you are never free hence the joke about Hell where DV has the only free seat as you come in and approaching the Lord for dispensation is a bad decision as DV employs him dead or alive and supplied the nails for the Cross … by the way we are moving out on Sunday night,” said the Major.
We caught the overnight ferry arriving at 7.30 am but Benny had a little sting in his tail which became apparent after we emerged from the Docks in Holland and found ourselves at a set of traffic lights with the rest of the traffic on the opposite side, facing us!
We could still have been there in a small smashed up heap if the Major had not managed to penetrate Benny’s mind with the idea that facing traffic coming directly at you when the lights changed was not a good idea and turning the van around was an intelligent move, as Benny had managed to drive up the road in the wrong direction, leading to the Major’s question, “I prefer you don’t answer now Benny,” concentrate on the road, “but I am curious as to why we were on the wrong side of the road facing traffic going the opposite way? Perhaps when we stop you might like to explain how that happened, as an experienced continental driver!”
Benny we knew came from an Italian family who had moved to London when he was 6, and he was Italian. The bit we were looking for was that he was a Continental Lorry Driver but Benny it turned out had never gone further than the UK and his only remembrance of driving on the Continent was of listening to his father who had driven in the EU with Benny thinking he could work from that and then you remembered the old adage ‘once a crook, always a crook’. Given Benny’s lack of experience we decided that cutting through Germany was out and decided to aim for Antwerp hoping Benny wouldn’t miss it and head from there across to Maastricht, Luxembourg; drop down to Dijon and then on to Lyon and Marseilles and by which time all of us were looking out of every window and screaming.
Algenald hearing his Aide’s heavy footsteps almost limp past his door gave Simon just enough time to reach his desk before he picked up the phone to summons him.
“Yes sir,” was the answer from Simon, “I’ve just had a meeting with Godfrey Derval, sir.”
“My office please, Simon… now!”
His door finally open admitting Simon, “You took your time and the PM has just got off the phone.”
“So I am informed. Please tell me ‘what the hell’ I think I am doing in Africa as it has nothing to do with Defence and any connection is with the Foreign Office and the EU and Africa Minister as I need a reply to give the PM?”
“British Defence interests, sir.”
“The PM wants in no uncertain terms to have this operation quashed. I pointed out to him that he and Peres had asked me to start it and he virtually called me liar and said I was playing Politics to cause trouble in the Coalition. Now I’ve had my Leader telling me as strongly as I have ever heard him put anything to stop this ill thought out and half-baked activity.”
“We’re implementing their Policies, sir.”
“What you are implementing, Simon … I have no idea. The CIA have been told to stop all support for this operation and my job is on the line here and I would suggest everything you hold dear is as well if you don’t stop it.”
“Sir, you are funding this.”
“I might be, but that stops now! I don’t know why I agreed in the first place. The PM insisted that I ring the EU and Africa Minister to bridge build in his terms and your bonus will build in reverse terms as someone will pay for that call. Now what did you think you were doing?”
“My understanding sir was Sir Nicholas was passing a message from the PM asking for this to be set up. I told you and you authorised it providing it could not be tracked back to you so he created this trouble and how did they know at EU?”
“You had better check more than that Simon or you are back in Kensington and this time inside the cells. Do that whilst I ring the EU Minister!”
The Defence Minister rang his counterpart in the EU and Africa Ministry.
“Ah Jacob, so pleased I managed to catch you before you left for the afternoon.”
“I am usually here until late, Algenald as you well know. I think it is time you reeled in your aide, he obviously does not know how to behave in Civilised Society!”
“Just a few rough edges I think, Jacob these Security types tend to have them … must be all this running about chasing spies they do but of course with your French connections you would be aware of that.”
“Well he doesn’t seem to have caught many recently and I would expect that your team be caught before they cause any more embarrassment!”
“The instructions are being passed on as we speak. I was requested to start this operation although now the people concerned deny ever making the request … par for the course, I think.”
“Good and I hope this is the last of these little escapades!”
“Goodbye Jacob and I hope you don’t leak this conversation to the French as well!”
Algenald slammed the phone down cursing his aide and wondered whether to speak to DV directly.
It was something he preferred not to do when the issues were moving to the boundary thus allowing himself plausible deniability but he decided to leave it to Simon who had received his bollocking and should behave now.
Simon sat at his desk wondering what to do. If he crossed the CIA, they were perfectly capable of double crossing him with a call to Security of his activities in interfering with CIA operations and betraying a double agent causing her death plus the Army General being uncovered in more ways than one as she cavorted with him whilst he talked in his sleep.
He could not cancel the operation and just claim he had but someone in Security had obviously leaked information to Peres who leaked it to Jacob Christie and when the operation continued he would be in even more trouble but if the CIA were told of his activities he would be in even more trouble with both the CIA and the Security Service.
Heading towards France we successfully manoeuvred through Holland, Belgium and back into the Netherlands again; eventually around Luxembourg before finally hitting France and heading South by some freak and the van which was by now leaking more than us as it waddled its way across Europe.
The Major had decided to sail now and just to confuse the hell out of Benny as Benny was driving carefully down the E15, looking for the E714 to Marseilles, the Major suddenly said to Benny, “stay on the E15 and head for Montpelier taking the A9 to Sete. We are going to Tangier as our destination has been changed!” The look on our faces, showed it should have been our underwear that had been changed instead and that part of our undercover activity was to hide the ever increasing stains!
“Guys, Sete has a direct sea route to Tangier,” said the Major, “and we need to stay out of major ports and airports in France and very few people even know Sete has a port or a direct route to Tangier,” which obviously included us, “I was told to alter the plans so you guys come in via Holland and then out from Sete to Tangier but not to tell you until we were near. They are paying and those are the orders. I get the same treatment you do so we go to Sete! We’ve hidden the real targets from you because we have more leaks than a water board.”
“So if we now believe you, Major we are taking a van to Tangier. Do we sail it down the coast as well? Major you have run out of lies!”
“We won’t be taking the van to Tangier. We’ll use the railway from Tangier Med to Tangier Old Port in the city when we arrive.”
We eventually sampled the ‘Venice of Lanquedoc’ and tasted moules frites (mussels and chips) which were excellent in ‘Quai Maximun Liacciardi’ and really a pleasure so after a pleasant day we met the ferry with tickets already booked, making us nervous again.
The Major was so relaxed now you would think he was on holiday as if nothing we had discussed mattered and that was all we had from our noble conniving leader.
We were travelling by Grandi Navi Veloci Ferries and the ferry came with air-conditioned rooms, TV, en-suite, air conditioning and a mini-bar with self-service, a la carte and even a snack bar. The only downside was it would dock at Tangier Med as opposed to the old Tangier Ferry Port but apparently it took 45 minutes to get to Tangier Ville, so all we had to do was pick up the next train at Tangier Med and head for Tangier itself.
If anything was needed to make it better Irish and Scooter seemed to be trying to be clean and honest which was frightening but nobody was going to recognise them clean and that gave us a chance to unwind and discuss how they discovered soap before we started the next trip in earnest.
The Ferry finally docked and within 50 minutes we were at Tangier Station. The Major hired the 2 Petit Taxis … one for him and Scooter and one for myself, Benny and Irish. We arrived at the hotel and left the Major still arguing with his Taxi driver while our driver virtually threw us out; roaring off at speed. We were staying at the Hotel Royal … Budget Hotel but clean and just down the hill were the Port Gates so it seemed a fair exchange. The Major once we had dumped our gear decided we needed a drink in the Medina.
Having got us all safely ensconced around some drinks, the Major said, “Now that we are in Tangier I can really tell you what is going on,” making a point of ignoring my face, “We are not going to Freetown, we are not going to Liberia, and at that point we got up and walked away leaving the Major talking to Scooter.
As the Major had only paid for one night we had no choice but to join him and Scooter and leave the hotel the following morning and walk down the hill and through the gates, “Picking our boat up,” said the Major as we walked through heading towards the outer harbour walls until we found ourselves facing a dhow moored just behind a small cruise liner, “There’s the boat,” said the Major looking at the dhow, “Benny knows engines and can drive virtually anything; Boy knows Computer Systems so he can work the dhow; Irish is lethal with guns providing they are automatic with no problem in killing people and I am here because I am a good planner who will do as he is told and so will Scooter.”
“I think I preferred it when you just lied, Major,” I said, “You telling the truth sounds more like ‘Snow White’ on cocaine and us as the singing dwarfs.”
“I have already forgotten half of what he said,” remarked Irish, “and apart from Boy and myself, I don’t trust anyone?” continued Irish. “No-one calls a boat ‘Sam Buck Who’; you might as well call it ‘The Lady Joon Wrong’.”
Sam Buck or Lady Joon was a Jalibut or Jelbut type Dhow, derived and enlarged from Shu’ai type Dhow with a fairly broad bottom and was about 35 meters long, with the traditional high area at the stem, sweeping low towards the bow and with the wide stern of the Shu’ai type design rather than the Boum with the lateen sail already secured fore and aft but the high section at the stern gave us a steering area and some crew space in the cabin underneath the top covering. I had never seen anything like it but it seemed a fairly simple craft to sail.
There were hatches in the deck and some effort had been made to make the boat liveable although I could see us just dossing down on the deck in a sleeping bag in the heat.
The Major now produced a Chinese guy called Mr Hoo like a conjurer producing a rabbit!
“Welcome to the ‘Sam Buck Who’,” said Mr Hoo.
“We prefer to call her ‘The Lady Joon Wrong’,” said Irish.
So now we had Hoo Wong and Joon Wrong with a general impression amongst us that this was all ‘Wrong’ and we were all a bunch of Wrongdoers which was probably true.
“Mr Hoo’s speciality,” said the Major, “is teaching people to fight.”
“Who runs the boat then Major, Bruce Lee?”
“I don’t know how much diesel is under these hatch covers,” said the Major ignoring my comments as usual, “but somewhere on this boat is also Semtex, armaments, fresh water and a whole host of gear, so please don’t mistake the Semtex for Toilet Cleaner although it works under water!”
“They are called Heads, Major on a boat,” exclaimed Mr Hoo who was already dripping saliva.
“You can call them ‘Tales’ for all I care Mr Hoo and Captain Boy can join you for those long technical conversations of an evening. Mr Hoo has said there are showers here but with you lot we should be ‘OK’ as most of you will do without them and settle for a dip in the morning.”
“The first going in is likely to be you, Major if you don’t shut up,” said Benny.
“Well don’t swim at night unless you like shark feeding, up close, and not after the heads are flushed and not when you can see fins, as it can get difficult explaining the difference between friendly and unfriendly fish to the dead and before Boy starts with the questions … the Dhow is wooden built and don’t ask me what the draft is, I thought you got them in restaurants … I don’t know sod all about sailing and a draft to me usually means ‘do your flies up’ and I don’t know what the engine is and the dinghy will come in at about $60,000 dollars so treat it kindly, it is worth more than you will ever be! In the meantime we be sailing in due course and the main question is what do we do with an illustrious bunch like yourselves who end up on a Dhow that is 115 foot long with a fast rigid inflatable lying on its davits? The Dhow is sized and shaped liked the Somalia Pirates use,” so are you Major when we have finished!
The Major turned at this point and headed down the gangway.
“Going far Major?” I asked.
“Mind your own business, Boy!” and with those dulcet tones the Major was down the gangway so fast his arse was spitting flames like a Formula 1 car on starting.
“Any idea why the Major is abandoning ship so soon, Mr Hoo? We haven’t sunk yet have we as we are still upright and breathing something like air?”
“No idea, Boy. He’s certainly moving fast and already out of the Port by the look of it. No idea what he is up-to!”
We spent the next few hours talking to Mr Hoo and looking around the boat when we heard the Major shouting and staggering back to the ‘Lady’ and he had certainly tanked up ready with his fighting fuel, staggering along the wall until he reached us when he finally staggered up the ramp at the third attempt I stopped Benny from applying the boot as he came up. I’d thought Chinese people were supposed to be inscrutable but Mr Hoo looked as if he had wondered into an Asylum, where the inmates had taken over.
Already people were hanging over the stern of the cruiser in front of us and standing on jetty staring as the Major shouted at the top of his voice but what had suddenly flipped him into this ‘mental nut-case’ act? By now the rest of us were laughing like drains and then we heard the dutiful Scooter whose DA now looked like it had taken too many drinks as well and collapsed, say, “Major, you promised to stay off the whisky and what have you mixed it with to get like this?”
“What else do we need to learn,” I asked Mr Hoo, “as we are now on an operation led by a drunk.”
For every Moroccan Security Agent around and no doubt there were a few, our main hope was that they didn’t speak ‘drunk’.
Mr Hoo however produced a quick solution, “Throw the Major into the ‘V’, let me find a bucket, fill it with water and thrown it over him until he sobers up and leave him until then.” Scooter managed to get the Major onto the ‘V’ before Irish this time, kicked him overboard.
We needed to move this boat out as soon as possible, and I had never seen this boat before nor did we have all the supplies in with most of our kit and stuff strewn around so taking the boat out was a disaster but staying here wasn’t much better since something had definitely happened to send the Major headless although it could have just been finally finding the boat and having some money left, “What is your real job, Mr Hoo?”
“I am here to teach your team how to defend themselves with their hands!”
“I should be a challenge for you, Mr Hoo,” said Irish, “I daren’t even look at my hands but whose idea was it that we needed a ‘Respected and Ancient’ Chinese Gentlemen to train us?”
“Irish at my age, I don’t make frequent and unnecessary movements so my goal here is that you don’t either and if you can defend yourself without weapons you don’t think you are unarmed and also my instructions will help to release energy, movement and re-coordinate your mind with your hands, feet and to relax so reuniting your brain with your hands means neither shakes. My role here is not to fight you, but to help stop you fighting each other so you can concentrate on defending yourselves.”
“If you can do that Mr Hoo then you’ll have everyone’s blessing!” said Boy.
Mr Hoo pushed a large bunch of papers into my hands and pointed to the section detailing the boat design.
“Apart from wiping my bottom on these, Mr Hoo what do you expect me to do with them on this warm Moroccan Night?”
Once again I had the impression that the Major had lied through his dentures again; Mr Hoo was no accident, and knew more than we did which wasn’t difficult.
“Mr Hoo,” said Irish, “It looks a large boat to manage?”
“Irish,” said Mr Hoo, “we can sail with the same sails all the time. We take them up or down electronically. Controls are on both sides, and I can also control them from the cabin but I don’t want you guys running around in there pushing switches. This boat is actually built to order so the boat is not some half-witted escapade dreamed up by a bunch of idiots who should have been strangled at birth although the project might be. It has some little differences from a traditional dhow as well. The hatch before the Steering Hut is the main entrance to the cooking and storage areas with heads aft and the way to the bunks but please ‘be sick in the heads’ not the bunks and there will be enough bags by the bunks, if you can’t make it.”
“Who sleeps where, Mr Hoo?”
“The Major and Scooter will bunk in the same area by the forward store. Benny and Irish get the middle set, Boy and myself get the drop down from the Steering Area. For information, there are wall compartments in the steering area and the back storage area, which I assume we will use for weapons. Scooter’s role on board as we don’t need a cabin boy will be on comm and someone else beside myself who can steer. Benny is basically the Engine guy, Irish on weapons, me … trying to remember how to smile benevolently at you so who is going to double up for me on the steering and who doubles up for Benny on engines and Irish on weapons?”
“I can do the Comm, Boy, said Scooter and so can the Major without the booze!”
“You are his minder Scooter but we will hang him out to dry physically if he starts again.”
“Mr Hoo, when do you feel we can take the Lady out for her drink!”
“The Major was supposed to sign some papers today and I need to find out whether he did since we were getting the arms tonight. With the Major comatose I don’t know what he has done or didn’t do so I don’t know what the situation is.”
“Scooter. Are there any armaments on board and if so where are they and the ammo?”
“The weapons were due for delivery tonight, Boy and were to go into the main storage until we left harbour. The Major would have signed for them and taken delivery himself!”
“Could the Major have drunk them, Scooter?” said Irish.
“I don’t think so Irish, he hit the bottle at my guess just after he left us although he could have been limbering up earlier but the missing hours are the issue for me … he has that ability to look sober until he really is drunk so I think he wouldn’t have known when the delivery was due after a few!”
“Just a minute Scooter. You knew when the delivery was?”
“Of course I knew Boy, the Major told me when the delivery was due. I work for him!”
“Did he also tell you what the delivery would be Scooter?”
“Sorry Boy, with the Major I usually ignore it as he drones on … it is easier and automatic. Someone will be meeting the Major here tonight and they will deliver some boxes but it needs the Major’s signature and they have a photograph of the Major to prove identity. They want his name on those documents.”
“Benny, Irish, can you go with Scooter and get the Major, bring him here?”
“If it is the same to you Boy, I think there will be a bucket somewhere with some water; I’ll apply that first and leave him there until we need him!”
“Mr Hoo, I don’t care if you just use the bucket without the water. Benny can you check the fuel?”
“Will do, Boy”
“Any arguments let’s have them now because I have enough of today and we need to get any problems out of the way?”
“Backup for me on Weapons, Boy?” added Irish.
“I’ll back you up, Irish,” said Benny, “if you can teach me not to shoot myself and the rest!”
“All agreed guys, and shout now, or go do it! Go and sober the Major and find out where he has the money so he can’t buy more?”
“I’ve got his stuff, Boy; he can’t get at any more now!” said Scooter.
With a degree of speed hitherto unseen the crew finally came alive. Three of them piled into a Petite and went off to the flee pits whilst Mr Hoo and myself decided to have another prowl around the Steering Area. We seemed to stand around for hours with neither deliveries or the guys arriving, “Still no deliveries, Mr Hoo.”
“Might be something coming, Boy.”
We stood there for another while waiting for a truck to arrive, and then suddenly I realised that we had to move fast as a thought was starting to appear in the back of my head.
“Mr Hoo! Can we get the hatch cover off and the bulkhead doors open to put this stuff in the forward storage and do it pronto, when they turn up!”
“What’s a bulkhead, Boy? I can at guess at forward and sides, but I am just a country boy at heart?” joked Mr Hoo, looking at my face.
Mr Hoo then smiled, “things that bother me Boy are when is the ventilation going to come on and when are you going to ask me about the keys for this storage? I designed this boat subject to other people playing about with it after they forced me into retirement but there are no keys!”
The Petite cab arrived alongside and Scooter got out. “the hotel told us to pack up and get out!”
“The Major’s antics I assume, Scooter!”
“Yes, Boy we weren’t the only ones to get the Major and we had to pay them off to stop them calling the Police plus 2 days money for the damage he did in the hotel. Benny and Irish will be in another Petite carrying the rest of the luggage once they have finished clearing the rooms!”
“Mr Hoo, will you dump water on the Major. He seems to be moving around and is obviously used to Scooter knotting him down … tie them tighter next time, Scooter … loyalty to a drunk won’t keep us alive! Did you manage to find any keys on him, Scooter? Go with Scooter, Mr Hoo I want those keys found. Everything is locked in the Storage and we have no keys to anything?”
I stood there keeping an eye on the road for Benny and Irish to arrive while Scooter and Mr Hoo were double checking the Major’s pockets.
Finally they came back as did Benny and Irish.
I looked at Irish standing there, “We can’t find any keys for the boat, Irish.”
“Funny you should say that, Boy?” said Irish, “As we were leaving and trying to settle up,” they said, “you also owe us for the Safe Rental and charged us another week’s money. We had to pay it to get the stuff out of the safe and in the safe was not only 2 bunches of keys but another stack of cash the Major was sitting on that we didn’t know about!”
“How much do you reckon is there?”
“On a quick count £20,000 plus 20,000 Francs. I don’t know where he got it from but he didn’t have it in the UK or France so it had to come from somewhere here in Tangier. Must be why he got so happy and decided he could let loose! Surprised he came back!”
“Check out the keys on the Storage; stick it in there for now until we can sort it out unless there is a safe somewhere on board, which wouldn’t surprise me given this boat.”
“Funny you should mention that, Boy,” said Mr Hoo, “In the rear hatchway at the bottom of the hatch there is a catch. The space underneath is just above the heads at the back of the boat and when you swing the bottom up of the rear hatchway there is a safe with a combination. With the hatch full no-one could find the catch and if they did the weight would keep it flat. Worth a look?”
We headed aft opened the rear hatch, feeling around we found the catch on the side of the hatch; springing up the floor and there was the safe.
“What is the default combination, Scooter?”
“1,2,3,4, Boy,” said Scooter.
“Thought you’d know, Scooter. You were around here earlier I am damn certain. You knew about the money didn’t you, Scooter?”
“Standard number, Boy. There is a button on the inside. You press that and switch the dial to what we want then release the button.”
“Sounds simple enough, what number do we want.”
“Set it to 3286, Scooter and put all the money in it; I know you are carrying some of it…. I want what you took out as well…. just put it back or Mr Hoo and I will strip you to get it!”
“I was just covering readies, Boy I wasn’t stealing it.”
“Irish, Benny. Escort Scooter below and don’t forget his socks, shoes, pants and the inside of his mouth. If you want to check his arse, that is up to you. Once you get it out of him put it in the safe.”
“Alright,” said Scooter producing rolls of notes like a Magician on speed.
The money went into the safe.
“Before you close the safe Mr Hoo, check that combination works.”
The look on Scooter’s face told me it wouldn’t work … the same habits as his Master. Skimming, conning, lying, sweating and reverting to type by the minute; likely to make a run with the money using instinct not intelligence.
He wouldn’t do so now as Mr Hoo checked and said, “the combination doesn’t work.”
“I want you out of this area now Scooter; you don’t help yourself and do a runner. Mr Hoo and I will know the combination … you and the Major won’t so bugger off now. Go see to your Boss!” Once Scooter and the rest were out of the way, I said, “Change it to a pint of beer, Mr Hoo, they wouldn’t sink that low,” and the number was changed to 0374!”
“Still need those deliveries, Boy.”
“We can struggle through, Mr Hoo. Let’s hope no-one has put a sticker on the boat that reads if out please deliver to cruise liner next door.”
“I don’t think so, Boy and this is either a very small arms delivery on the way or it is my personal stuff.”
A small almost ‘donkey cart’ with a Chinese cyclist appeared at the gangway and Mr Hoo in a surprising demonstration of speed headed down the plank like there was really no tomorrow… unloading and shouting for Irish and Benny to help and just finishing, when a lorry appeared and our ‘donkey cart’ became a ‘bat out of hell’.
Irish and Benny were still on the jetty and now Scooter did a ‘bat of hell’ impression arriving besides them and shouting for help to unload as the lorry stopped. How many different Agendas we had here I will never know as the team started to cart gear on board.
Mr Hoo handled the driver with a few words, waving francs as the guys started attacking his lorry and stripping it.
The driver was demanding more money claiming he had not been paid and Mr Hoo paid him 1000 francs which seemed to calm him down a little but then he started shouting as the guys continued stripping the lorry and dumping the stuff on the deck.
“What is going on, Mr Hoo?” I shouted.
“I have no idea, Boy! I arranged for some treats to be delivered. I don’t know what this lorry is delivering … the one before was mine. Scooter thought this one was the arms but it is frozen food and quite a bit of it but no-one wanted a signature so I am just paying for it.”
“Give him some sterling it must be for someone else and our guys have moved in and started stripping it?” Mr Hoo produced sterling this time and carried on putting notes into his hands until he stopped shouting and picked up a calculator, showing the figure at Mr Hoo, who then said in bad French, “allow for a 1000 Francs, we have already paid you?”
The driver produced a new figure and Mr Hoo paid that with a couple of hundred more than asked and he took off with very little left on the lorry having stopped us from taking that.
“I am wondering,” said Mr Hoo, “whether that delivery was a top-up for the Cruiser next door and he got the wrong gangway, but we paid him; he took off and so did we.”
“Where are the arms that the Major has to sign for and what else is going on here? Do you mean to say Mr Hoo that all of this unloading is so you can have some treats and raiding the Cruise Liner’s top-up?”
“Yes Boy, I like my treats!”
“Mr Hoo, what state is the boat in?”
“Well Boy, I didn’t know what they might have changed after they retired me but it looks like they have left my ‘baby’ pretty much as she was although some things have worn out but Benny and I can get them working; my little man on his bike dumped off some electronics from a local contact and we can fix things!”
“Mr Hoo, before you go tend to the Major again can you tell something of your and the boat’s history because you are obviously recently reconciled lovers and I think we need to start really finding out things since the Major lied non-stop from the word go and he is just a finished hulk laid at rest – looking at him – although why he should go now after getting us here ‘God alone knows’?”
“I don’t know either, Boy. I know he is close to some shadowy figure called DV and is totally reliant on him and I know this DV is connected to someone called Bishop and that he is controlled by this Defence Minister … Algenald Matthews … who seems to be coming up again and again like a bad meal.”
“What else, Mr Hoo and I know Bishop?”
“My colleagues had one important mission destroyed by one of Matthews’ Aides and now having sponsored this from within Matthews’ Department he is trying to destroy it. I admit to a bit of dirty dealing from the CIA – part revenge for the mission your people killed and the Chinese lady with it and we forced this Security Aide to bypass the Minister; lie to DV to get this mission started with us cutting in once you were in Tangier. Your Major is a very odd guy. He used to run a death squad in Malaya and Bishop screwed up an operation to kill big gangster’s daughter and then tried to kill him and Scooter who is more than he pretends. Maybe the latest sobering up for the Major if he isn’t drowned in vomit and water might give us some idea of what happened because I am damned certain it wasn’t meant for the Major to lose it like that.”
“Benny,” I shouted, “did you check the fuel levels and make sure we have full tanks?”
“Boy, I am still trying to find where they fill the engines,” said Benny, “The tanks must be down here at the back end, and I think just past the freezers but before I start pouring I need to know what I am pouring into!”
“It sounds like the back of the boat,” said Mr Hoo, “but there are two pipes up here you use, just aft of the hatch. You, my hair-brained friend are trying to pour diesel into the freezers. Those holes are for coolant and the other is for something called water. The fuel intake is up here!”
“Fine Mr Hoo, I will be up!”
“We were set up to fail, weren’t we, Mr Hoo?”
“I checked my systems while this was going on and there is some stuff from my guys; feedback a few minutes ago from one of DV’s team who works for us. Your DV guy got a call from the Major after your money didn’t go into the bank accounts so besides the cash the Major gave you there is nothing – it was stopped. DV told the Major, money would be available somewhere but the Major knew from this he was finished with no way back and blew some of it on booze. The ‘Sam’ was always going to be used and I was flown out of retirement because I designed it and no one at short notice can learn what this boat can do. You are due to get weapons tonight from your Security guys and it is odds-on that you will get more than you bargained for soon afterwards as it is a set-up!”
“Up until now, Mr Hoo I didn’t trust anyone. Now, apparently, I have to trust you!”
“Don’t tell the lads yet. We will be paying you and the money the Major got is due to the team without arguments but already we’ve spent a lot of it. We also have some things up our sleeves once closer to our targets. One other thing, Boy, we are being watch by quite a few people hanging around and they I feel are waiting for something to happen. Can you quietly let the guys know that we could get hit very quickly and I want that gangway ready to be ditched at a moment’s notice so check the knots on it and make sure they’re loose and get Benny working on those engines.”
I looked around for the rest of the crew and finally found aft, “Scooter, Irish … Mr Hoo thinks there is a set-up after we take the weapons. Benny is topping up the fuel now, aren’t you, Benny? Once the weapons are on board we leave quietly and quickly! We need those stores below as well. Once they deliver we will move around the Cruiser and stop there if anyone is around. Then once we’re past the breakwater we head out. I have found some charts here and we can use them to get ourselves away in the dark. Can you loosen the ropes on the gangway?”
“Boy, I can hear some engines coming towards us, just one lorry for the moment not a group of cars,” said Irish.
“Someone get the Major up straight up; use a Malaria excuse and say he staggered and went overboard. As soon as he signs get the weapons on board and don’t waste time putting them away … we start moving as they drive off and ditch the gangway. This whole thing stinks so as they drive off we move out into the water. They have been told we are suckers so they won’t expect anything.”
We heard the engine coming closer and closer until it stopped on the dock opposite the boat. An English voice said, “I’ve got a delivery for you; just need a signature from someone called ‘Major something or other’?”
“The Major is suffering from an old Malaria Bug and when we took our eyes off him he got feverish and fell overboard so I’m afraid he isn’t really fit; can anyone of us sign?”
“No! Sorry it has to be the Major.”
“The Major won’t even know what he is signing so why don’t you wait a few days and deliver again!”
“The delivery has to be made tonight; can’t delay. Can you get the Major up here?”
“Irish, Benny, Scooter … get the Major over here to sign?”
They managed to hold the Major up with two hands under his arms and another on his shoulders in front of the guy who looked at the Major and said, “he’ll have to do!”
Scooter took a pencil, put it between the Major’s fingers and with a long practised look took his hand through a scrawl he knew well as a signature appeared. Once signed people appeared at breakneck speed to get the boxes on board back into the lorry and off. No sooner were they were off the boat and driving we ditched the gangway overboard and with Mr Hoo steering and Benny gentling the engines along we started to move slowly out and then parked ourselves just out of sight resting against the smaller cruise liner with only the other cruise liner on the opposite side of the Port able to see us directly and we were drown out in the noise from both liners.
“Can the rest of you put the Major back in the ‘V’,” I said, “I can hear a convoy on the way!”
The cars stopped where we had been and then passed the Cruise Liner and sat at the end of the pier.
The idea was probably just to machine gun us if we tried to pass, but they did not know whether we had passed the pier head and breakwater already heading out towards the deep water so we would wait each other out.
So as long as we sat here they could watch from the pier head until all ‘hell froze over’.
We would have to rely on Mr Hoo and Benny to get us out of the Port on the quiet engines … a little trick of the ‘Lady’ or ‘Sam’ as Mr Hoo called it was electricity from the batteries to run the engines in silent mode. In the meantime I needed to start looking at the charts.
What unnerved me however was the English voice delivering the weapons before they raided us.
“Never trust anyone, Boy,” said Mr Hoo, “that way you never get let down.”
“How do you live like that, Mr Hoo?”
“Constantly, Boy … constantly!”
“Who is trying to betray us now, Mr Hoo? I am loosing track. Do they draw lots or toss dice for whose turn it is next?”
“I am not totally sure who arranged this one, Boy. The Defence Minister if my information is correct works through some ‘knobs’ in the city and DV’s team. The EU and Africa Minister works through the French Intelligence Service but this seems to be a combination of Security and the French Intelligence Service which I imagine must have been Sir Nicholas Peres because he is the only one with links to Security, Top Government and these two Ministers so I think both the Defence and Africa guys are jumping to his instructions and you now have a ‘cabal’ trying to destroy you rather than just one guy so let’s hope they communicate as well as the rest of your bunch and we should be safe!”
“So you are telling me Mr Hoo that we now have other Players in the field trying to scuttle their own team and they are all involved with the UK Security Service as well as knowing what is going on and we are a mere bagatelle in the middle and certainly in the middle of someone’s ‘brown hole’?”
“Boy”, said Irish, “it might be better to leave the arms on the deck in case we are caught and need to break open the ammunition and arm the weapons!”
“Irish, I don’t think we can really start World War IV between 2 cruise liners – someone will be bound to notice even only if we miss. The problem in picking up speed and moving fast means we could also both; lose the boxes and the Major over the side. We would then be heading down the coast with no weapons although losing the Major would be an asset. Put them in the Cabin and there is the ‘aft’ storage that could take some.”
Benny and Irish started to move the arms, as we heard the Moroccans shouting something … the English guy … nowhere around. Britain may be good for ‘shit all’ but we certainly know how to piss off countries.
“Have you seen the West African coast before, Mr Hoo?”
“No Boy, just the Middle East and that was just hanging around offshore so going down the West African coast should be a breeze.”
“Given that hurricanes start there I agreed but sitting here like a bunch of idiots who can’t even run up a sail seems to be the current plan.”
“The ‘Sam’ is an easy boat to sail. None of the people on it have ever been able to sail and I was joking about climbing the mast. It is all electric and I’ll tell you another time about all the things built in but climbing the mast and manually hauling on sails will not happen.”
“Any plans for moving, Mr Hoo?”
“Benny is turning the engines over to charge up the batteries and once out we use sail and lose ourselves in the Straights. A couple of hours of brooding, complaining, and blaming ourselves looks to be our first course and then we cut out before the sweet trolley arrives. In the meantime Irish is checking the weapons but you’re right about not testing them on the Dock and the Cruise Ships.”
“There is still the problem of our ‘Noble Sickening Leader’ who from the vomiting sounds is entering the first stage of stability. I’ll take the lookout.”
“So will I, Boy,” said Mr Hoo, “my wants are few and deep. Benny, fire us up quietly just on electric and any signs of alarm shut down; we are aiming to move across to the other Cruise Liner so gently, please, quietly, and don’t ram it.”
Courtesy of Benny we crept away from the small Cruiser whilst aiming for the other Cruiser and leaving the bright lights and noise for the lights and noise of the other Cruiser which should destroy the night vision of anyone watching us including ourselves as we couldn’t look back or forward but see a glare lighting us up like a Christmas tree.
We sat there for hours with Benny turning the engines over until the batteries were on full charge and we then checked the illumination levels of the lights – something else that we didn’t know we could do as we watched the vehicles at the end of the right hand side of the pier until a boat suddenly started to move towards the open water and we waited to see if they opened fire on it before Mr Hoo shouted to Benny, “start the electrics.”
We quietly moved away from the Cruiser and just feet away from the pier as we moved up and out into the breakwater behind the other boat before anything changed.
Benny put some more power on the electric and as we slipped out creeping up the left hand side of the Dock eventually made the middle of the channel and raised the sails to become a dhow.
It was fairly obvious that apart from the Major who was already out for the count the rest of the crew needed to get some sleep. I had us aiming at 6° by 36° once we got out of the port which should just keep us off the Spanish coast and I hadn’t really turned anything on since I didn’t know what I was turning on and Benny now he wasn’t losing Trailers seem to have found a degree of responsibility although that was about as reliable as Scooter’s honesty and the Major staying sober.
Talk about learning by exhaust gases and the smell from mine was immense … any more nerves and I would be propelling the boat myself and I could hear the Major from here but there were a few miles before we needed to turn to Port to start down the coast. It would give me a chance to try and find the GPS and instructions.
I would probably be stuffed if the Straights weren’t straight, but Benny having found where the fuel went had topped the engines up and I had found the gauges for that as well so I could see how much fuel we had.
If I could just work out how the Compass, Latitude and Longitude worked I would probably be onto a winner but I gave up in the end and asked Mr Hoo.
“How do I switch the GPS on Mr Hoo?”
“It is over here Boy. That is an auto Pilot once it is set on, and it links to the GPS which we need to search for its 3 satellites beforehand or it won’t know where we are and I have set it up for this area and time which should give us an accurate position. We just dial in the destination so let’s turn it on.”
We moved very slowly along the Straights from the Port but it was a good while before we were anywhere near ‘Cap Spartel’ and we still needed Irish to really check the weapons we had in the daylight tomorrow and start teaching us how to use them as we were going to need them, I felt and how we would hide them in a hurry if we were being boarded although Mr Hoo had already made the point to our illustrious crew that this did not involve using the freezers convenient though they were and it seemed pretty obvious that Mr Hoo’s stomach played a major part in all his decisions.
It was about 4.00 am and I was ready to drop off by the time Mr Hoo arrived back from his nap.
He took a look at the chart and saw that I had put a Post It slip on the Steering Wheel mount to make sure I pointed the boat in the right direction – I didn’t know the GPS was doing it by the way, I would a lot more before too long, “Very intelligent, Boy,” was his comment, “at least we are using the latest technology available; now go and get some sleep!”
I wondered out of the door and around to the front hatch, conveniently left off for me. I reached my bunk area and climbed up as Mr Hoo had taken the lower bunk and swinging myself into the bunk I fell into place as my thoughts did.
In the Cabin, Mr Hoo leaned forward, pushed a button and then leaving the Cabin he pushed something at the side of the boat and took out a bucket filled it with water and threw it over the Major who merely groaned as it hit him. Mr Hoo then returned to the Cabin, replacing the bucket on route; settled himself down in the chair and went to sleep.
The perfectly timed call to the EU and Africa Minister interrupted lunch. His Aide took it, wincing before he ‘tiptoed’ into luncheon; bent by the Minister’s ear and whispered, “it appears the Moroccans screwed up and the boat left Tangier old harbour and the US has not backed off as they agreed; emphasising that the attacks on US Oil Tankers and the killing of a crew member by pirates are an attack on US interests and require retaliation.”
To give the Minister his due he didn’t at that point even raise an eyebrow although given the standards of Politicians that would probably have been considered ‘heavy labour’.
He finished his lunch at about 3 pm and was back in his office by 4 pm when he proceeded to go berserk and the first person who went berserk at was his colleague in Defence.
By the time the Defence Minister had pull the phone down the ear piece was as heated as he was as he dragged his Security Aide into his office telling Simon to get onto his CIA contact and get an answer or Simon would be in Brixton for the rest of his career if not the Scrubs.
Simon finally returned, somewhat later to the Minister’s office, “It was Security and the French who arranged the attack with the Moroccans not the CIA who organised this, Minister. I had no part in it and nor did the CIA. The attack was organised by yourself, the EU and Africa Minister and Sir Nicholas Peres. Please don’t blame for me, for something I didn’t do.”
“Simon, no matter how dis-jointed this Department is, it does not have dhows on its books nor has it directed even if it had one, a dhow to Tangier old port. I am aware, that you did not cancel the project as instructed and you are quite honestly facing an extended holiday behind bars if this goes any further. I would also make the point that I am sick of having things said to you, repeated back to me by Jacob Christie via Sir Nicholas Peres. Would you like to explain to me, how private briefings to you are coming back to bite me?”
“I don’t know Sir. I’ve never discuss anything with anyone and I can’t understand how this information is being obtained unless the offices are bugged.”
“I don’t think the offices are bugged, Simon. They are swept too often although they are certainly not cleaned that well, but information given to you is being passed around within days and I want to know how and why? There is also the point of some other information that has been passed to me. Neither Sir Nicholas nor the PM as you informed me had anything to do with the creation of this team and I have been publicly called a liar for saying so. You lied to me! Now get out of my office and find out. I want to know where they are going and what is happening.”
Algenald was just settling down when the phone rang, “Yes,” was his slumbering answer.
“Just had a call, Sir. The US have put someone on the boat, Sir.”
“What is going on, Simon?”
“The boat should have raided; found to contain weapons, ammunition and been impounded while the crew disappeared. The Major found out you had cancelled the payments after a phone call to his Bank but money was passed to him and he went on a bender with it. His antics there and in the hotel had the team thrown out and meant everyone was on the boat; they had cleared out all the accommodation and hotel safe so they had the keys for the boat, documents, money and they took off after the weapons were delivered!”
Algenald Matthews hung up.
Simon as usual made his notes for his ‘dead-man’s handle’.
They would go into a file in the old filing department with the rest and this tied into his, ‘to whom it may concern’ letter, so he had an independent record of everything that was discussed with him or he was asked to do. An hour after he’d gone to file the document footsteps moved up to his file, opened it, read the note and having made a note of the contents moved to another file and placed the note in there.
Thomas had said to Simon, one day, “Eunice never bothers herself with these files so it is all perfectly safe to use them for your personal dead man’s record and she’s been here for so many years that everyone trusts her.”
The Defence Minister rang his contact.
“Algenald here … a little hiccup over Tangier which will be sorted out.”
“I don’t think my friends are going to be happy about this. When can you remedy this error?”
“The West African coast is dangerous, Pirates, Moroccan and Mauritanian Navy’s tendency to shoot first and not asked questions afterwards so the boat can be intercepted. It turns out that the CIA has a hidden locator on the boat and my Aide’s contact has the destination and course already. With our friends there if the others don’t get them, it will be sorted.”
Morning came and having excited itself left Mr Hoo to gently creep up to find we had travelled some 15 miles if we were lucky.
The batteries were nearly flat although there were little gadgets and the sun to recharge them in about a month at this speed but we needed the engines to quietly get lost and a bit further into the ocean to charge them up fully.
Mr Hoo also decided we would need that batteries charged although his decision was made more by his desire for the use of the microwave than anything else.
Mr Hoo raised the sails and checked the Automatic Pilot which contrary to imagination did not inflate and take a seat in the cabin.
Mr Hoo still hadn’t found where the microwavable coffee had gone and with the batteries low he would have to ‘slum’ it with the real stuff until he had time to go through the freezers find the coffee and recharge the batteries … in that order. Benny could only look at the engines and stay out of the freezers according to Mr Hoo until further instructions.
Morning also broke for the Major or may be it just shattered further as tiny pieces returned to hammer on his brain but not his mouth which should be glued shut. Lying there in the bottom of the ‘V’ in his own vomit and a lot of water with Mr Hoo administering some more led to a possibility of his actually drowning. He started to come to a, “Where are we?” to Mr Hoo!
“I don’t know where you are, Major but the rest of us are in the ‘Straits of Gibraltar’ and don’t raise your head or we really won’t have to worry about you; just blow bubbles!”
“You are, Mr Hoo?” mumbled the Major.
“Your saviour at the moment, Major. Boy and the rest are asleep and you can go over the side now as far as I am concerned! Boy has probably worked out the Defence Minister’s connection but you getting ‘off the planet’ gave no-one no-time to put anything into place before they hit us so you changed a small problem into a ‘kill’ everyone that we managed to get out of. If we hadn’t hijacked the food top-up for the cruise liner however we wouldn’t have very much food. So why did you blow your mind, the bottle and the project!”
“Without DV, a whole lot of shit comes out and down on me, and even with DV it is a matter of time before I have to disappear in name, number and be officially buried. DV had promised that when we finished. I learnt the real truth when I rang my Bank and found no payments had been made so we were all really that bastard’s lunch – I should never have trusted the devil!”
“Who did you ring?”
“I rang DV who told me Matthews had cancelled the payments and to go to a place where they gave me £20,000 and 20,000 in Francs for past services and to get the hell out of it. I should have taken off then but stopped for a drink to celebrate because it meant I could escape. The Government has no intention of paying us; we’d been set up, hung out to dry with no Government backing at all even if we managed to survive and I had it all and blew it.”
“You wouldn’t have gotten anywhere. This is important to the CIA and you would be lying in water in all senses if you tried to make a run for it. The money was CIA money and I would normally have picked it up. DV has been working for us for years and he didn’t tell you to take the money and run; that was what you intended to do. He told you to pick the money up and put it away, safe.”
“What happens now?”
“Well, you are alive if you have the sense not to try and rise too high from your death-bed. You should be able to stand up in a while after I pour some more buckets of water over you which may surprise you but is a pleasure for me.”
We awoke with no washes before we headed up the ladder although the heads had a good testing. The Major was with Mr Hoo in the Cabin and as one we moved towards the Major.
Mr Hoo interrupted us by standing in the way, “the Major has explained and it makes sense; leave him alone for now, Boy. I need to teach you about this boat since I designed and used it somewhere else!”
Irish’s tone might as well have been acid as he objected, “I might not want to probe you, Mr Hoo but we were set up for a slow possible death if we had been caught, and you tell us not to ask questions or do anything about the Major!”
“It is not the time, Irish. I am your Agent with the CIA although the Major is nominally in charge and you, Boy are the skipper. The rest as they say is history.”
“We were very nearly history courtesy of the Major, Mr Hoo. We’d like him to be history,” chipped in Benny.
“Benny, I need the engines idling over to charge the batteries and power the shower. We will use sail again for now but we need the batteries fully charged up again. If the rest of you care to wander down towards the freezers at the rear of the boat, you will find on both sides when you hit the reddish piece of wood, that a plastic shape drops down and looks like a tent. For those of you to whom this is new, you stand in it, zip it up and use the hand nozzle that comes out as wall and the lever if you can understand on or off. Water is sucked from the bottom once it gets above a couple of inches. The drain pumps directly into the heads stuff and it is water, which this boat has more of than you think but we can switch it to salt water if you like. The water tanks run alongside the batteries for the length of the boat on both sides.”
“What is the draught and do we have a keel, Mr Hoo?”
“A good reason we don’t need a keel is under the storage. We use two foils which double as stabilisers and if we ever have to move fast, we lower them fully…. one each side and these raise the boat up when the engines which you will find are not a 1000 HP, fire up. We do have some engines on this brute although flat out we will be lucky to get 2 mpg!”
Irish looking around, said, “I had better check the armaments.”
“There are some other compartments you are unaware of but I will deal with the major one. The rear hatch level below decks has a piece of wood you push and a 1K microwave will drop down … it is for my coffee! It takes a lot of power to make it work but if we need to we can produce meals when the boat is moving too much to let us use the cooker and there is the electric power via the engines to recharge the batteries. There is a lot to this boat you don’t know about but you have time to learn as we travel 2000 miles on this route. So let’s find 5 coffees in the freezer.”
We took a break while Benny was allowed to go through the two freezers which ran a fair length of both sides of the hull and were now topped up with the cruiser’s supplies.
Mr Hoo carried on with his talk on the Lady Joon.
Irish had by this time opened the boxes, and his smile was immense.
“What have we got, Irish?”
“I think these look like Heckler 8s; there seems to be an M9 with night vision and this looks like an M27 and that is a G36 … I won’t know how good they are until I test them and I can do that now!”
“No! Irish, you are not testing weapons in the ‘Straits of Gibraltar’ and we need to be as least 10 miles to the Port side of the coast before we turn … try then!”
“Port Coast, Boy this is West Africa!”
“Irish, they have ships out there; they have fishing fleets with nets stretching miles out and dust sweeping off the mountains; fog inland and you want to go blazing away testing weapons? No, Irish; we’ll continue out and turn to port until we are 10 mile past the Spanish coast heading West … this is a Dhow as Mr Hoo has informed us so it will not look surprising that far out until you start shooting weapons off and highlight us for miles!”
“If I can have your attention,” shouted Mr Hoo, “There will be further armaments once we reach our first real port of call so familiarise yourselves with what we have now, but there will be more arms for you to learn about.”
“Can we increase speed, Mr Hoo. We seem to be crawling?”
“I think we can, Boy 12 knots should be enough,” said Mr Hoo.
Antona couldn’t stand Roger’s Group but found Jimmy Mackintosh who handled Banking creeping into her mind when she wasn’t really thinking and she knew she didn’t think that much these days; as long as things worked out as she wanted. He was quiet, self-assured with a sense of humour and courteous to her even when she was not in a polite mood. He seemed to dislike the Group as much as she did and she regarded them as a threat to her life as she wanted it.
She knew the Group was selected for their particular skills by Roger but Sir Nicholas Peres for some reason kept trying to be invited and Roger knew that inviting Mark Stephens would get his father as well but Peres was a greasy oil driven son-of-a-bitch and that was a very loud ‘NO!’, so they invited their children’s friends as well as some of Roger’s business contacts to the main event so there were far too many people for the house and the team would quietly meet in the bar room later?
This tended to leave Peres failing to get into the house as she had the faithful Albert guarding the Door.
She knew Roger was becoming very worried over something that Matthews had done and Mark Stephens had left Africa so there was no-one there to control things but Mark had once again failed to turn up so no one knew what was happening in West Africa and she felt that was planned to let Alfred Stephens attend in his place with Peres in tow.
She saw Jimmy and headed over, “All alone, Jimmy …? We can’t have that.”
Jimmy smiled at Antona. She was about 5 foot 7 with hazel eyes and an amused way of seeing the world but now she used more than her looks.
Jimmy looked at more than her expression before he spoke and especially her body language which now was almost vibrating, “I always think these gatherings are false, Antona. People who can’t stand one another pretending they are good friends. I’d rather settle down with a good book which I can throw against the wall when I am finished although I am tempted to do that with some of the people here.”
“And not a good woman, Jimmy?”
“Good women tend to be expensive and I don’t think I can afford a bad one, never mind a good one and it isn’t really on these days to throw them against the wall when you have finished with them. The Police tend to look ‘askance’.”
“I’ll have to find you one, Jimmy?”
“No thank you, Antona. My mother spent years trying to do that and I spent years trying to avoid them. When does Roger plan this meeting. Ah no, Peres is heading this way like he is spreading the plague and everyone blanches and dies as he passes.”
“Antona, what a pleasure and you too, Jimmy,” came the velvety oily tones of Sir Nicholas Peres.
“I wasn’t aware we had invited you, Sir Nicholas?” Antona’s nostrils were flared and her eyebrows could have raised Gods.
“As soon I heard of your suari—
“—a suari is a kingdom reign over by a King or Queen and neither Rodger nor myself seeks such a position but we did not invite you, Sir Nicholas and that was a matter of choice—”
“—I prevailed upon my good friend, Alfred Stephens to let me accompany him, Antona. I have been so looking forward to meeting you, and you as well, Jimmy.”
“Why would that be, Sir Nicholas? We have absolutely nothing in common,” said Jimmy.
“I wouldn’t say that, Jimmy. Banking is universal or so I have heard?”
“Not in my private life, Sir Nicholas which I prefer to keep private and restricted to a few close friends but now I feel I must leave you to Antona’s tender mercies?” and Jimmy walked towards the house.
“I seem to have annoyed your friend, Antona?”
“He is not my friend, Sir Nicholas he is an acquaintance of my husband and I must go and discuss matters with my Cook as we seem to have more people than we invited?”
Antona turned on her heel and headed for the house with Sir Nicholas still following her.
“I’m sorry, Sir Nicholas but why are you following me? I have already said I have business with my Cook and I don’t need an escort.”
“I seemed to have annoyed you as well in some way, Antona?”
“I need to talk to my Cook. Goodbye, Sir Nicholas!”
Antona headed back to the house finding Jimmy standing by the window, “I am sorry about that, Jimmy? I will get Roger to have a word with Alfred Stephens about him bringing his cronies in here uninvited.”
“Don’t bother yourself, Antona. I am more annoyed at him approaching you than anything else.”
“Why Jimmy; a hidden admirer?”
“You and Roger seem so happy together, I would not want anything to come between that and that includes me.”
“We have our ‘ups and downs’, Jimmy but we work around them.”
“Do you have any idea when Roger wants this meeting, Antona?”
“It is another hour at least, Jimmy. Come into the Lounge and let me pour you a drink; then I must talk to Cookie.”
Jimmy allowed himself to be escorted into the Lounge, be seated and after a time looking at Antona he was then served with a large brandy as Antona sat opposite. Jimmy had taken his first sip, when Roger came in, “What’s up, Antona?”
“An attack of Peres?”
“I’ve had a word with Alfred Stephens about that. Alfred as usual ignored what I was saying but I lost my temper and told him if he did it again he needn’t come near the house. I do not want Peres in this house.”
“Peres is a creep…?” Antona thought a bit more before asking, “Where is Mark? He should be here but his father keeps turning up trying to get information from people and I am sick of the complaints about him. He has tried to get into the house twice and I have Cookie on the back with Albert on the front. Luckily we are serving food outside today because I don’t want him in the house. He makes my skin crawl. When do you plan on having this meeting, Roger?”
“Not until everyone goes, and I thought a game of pool in the Bar later on would be a good idea. Give us all a chance to unwind after all that is going on.”
“I’d better go and see Cookie. I’ve asked Albert to get a couple of friends in to watch the doors, while they get the food ready. I’ll be around so they can check with me if Peres tries again. The downstairs toilet is the one we are allowing friends to use and no-one is going upstairs but with the external Portaloos they don’t have an excuse.”
Roger laughed, “You should have seen the looks on some of their faces when they saw them, Antona. They thought they could have a good prowl around the house but then finding they can’t get in and with external toilets it was worth their straining effort to see their faces.”
Apart from normal activities the afternoon went OK although Alfred Stephens tried ignoring Roger’s instructions and introducing Peres into the house to be met by Antona who told them the evening was by invitation only and Peres was not invited; also if Alfred tried to bring Peres into the house again then he wasn’t invited either. Alfred was still speechless when Antona closed the door on him and Peres!
Roger was still laughing later after Alfred had stormed off mouthing threats so it would be Jimmy, Roger and Sasha minus his women who Antona would not allow into the house anyway but Antona was good on a snooker table in more ways than one so they had enough for a foursome. Roger opened the conversation after they decided to play billiards and started the breaks, “This bunch have made it past Tangier. Matthews’ attempts to stop them have failed and Nicholas Peres was somehow involved in the last attempt so I think we need to keep information to a need to know. We need another attempt on a tanker, Sasha and more up to date information from you. I get information but no specific dates. I know the boats, destinations and sources but the arrival and leaving times I have to get from you, Sasha and you are not providing the information in a timely fashion,” switching his attention, “Jimmy, I know you are having trouble with the US on the money transfers but that was down to attacking US interests,” and now he switched to everyone in the room, “Anyone got any ideas because we need the money moving and we need to find out who this Peres is and why he is interfering?”
“I’ll just go and organised the coffee I think, Roger and leave you to discuss this a little more,” smiled Antona as she headed out of the room.
“The problem we have, Roger is that everyone seems to have caught wind of something and it keeps coming back to Peres. He is the guy with the PM’s ear, parts and brain, if they find it, plus security contacts; manipulative to the point that he actually managed to get Jacob Christie and Algenald Matthews to co-operate which most would consider impossible. He also has Alfred Stephens virtually walking his dog and no-one has seen anything of Mark Stephens even though he has not gone back to Africa,” added Sasha.
Jimmy joined in, “The banking transfers have been screwed to the degree that we can’t use any of the regular routes so we can’t get the money into our accounts and that is worrying.”
“I know, Mark should have stayed out there as agreed but he is flying in before an operation and flying out after it. He thinks he is using Heathrow and not some back sticks airport where they watch everyone and that is flagging up his activities and we don’t know what activities he is involved in with his father up to his immortal mouth cum arse in anything he can get involved in with so who knows? I asked everyone to be here tonight because we need to find out what is going on with the whole operation lifted out of our control? What is going on, out there?”
“I agree we have problems, Roger but I don’t see how it bothers us. We can organised other routes to transfer the money. You know the routes and Sasha puts in the fine detail whilst Mark’s team does the hijack. Alfred sorts out the documentation with his contacts and we carry on as before. There is nothing we need to do. It is still ticking over and panicking now is the worst thing we can do.” argued Jimmy, “let’s leave things to cool down.”
“Let’s go and have dinner is a better suggestion. The general consensus seems to be that we can’t do anything so we stay as we are.”
“Irish stop waving it about!” Irish looked disappointed as he lowered the gun down.
“This is a USP Compact Tactical; very handy as a hand weapon. It is a 9 mm NATO calibre developed for special operations.”
“I would have preferred they’d spent the money on toilet paper since the stuff we are using could be ammunition … rough would be a good guess” complained Benny. “Even my lorry stuff was better.”
“Benny? How many of your deliveries ever arrived; you couldn’t even choose which deliveries to lose and the Gang Boss’ daughter’s wedding house stuff was your final haul and will be if he ever finds you,” and Benny went quiet as his career was brought up again.
Irish produced something he called an ‘MG4’ and it started to look like a long afternoon ahead and at least a sober one; apart from the Major who was being kept away from the diesel.
Irish went on with his talk but this bunch running around with automatic weapons made me look at Mr Hoo with more than a raised eyebrow and the thought that sanity should be beckoning, not this!
Life unfortunately doesn’t seem to work like that however as Mr Hoo made the one statement that caught everyone’s attention and at least stopped Irish in his tracks, “in the freezer are some hamburgers and rolls …?—my thoughts—We have enough power for lunch so who fancies a hamburger with no onions unfortunately but we have some barbecue sauce and some coffee to follow; courtesy of the supplies we bought on the dock,” I wondered if the small liner was still waiting for their top-up but Mr Hoo was very tight-lipped about the hoarding ability of the Joon and I still didn’t appreciate what he had designed or why for that reason?
Even Irish looked up and stopped at that and so we all trooped out like good little boys to the smell of cooking coming up from the hatch as Benny obliged – Benny in a way was proving a God-send. Along with his ability to lose trailers he brought an ability to knit people together; providing of course that he wasn’t carrying your belongings.
Something I think he’d inherited from his family, apart from a lack of knowledge of driving in Europe but an ability to cook and even use a microwave and engines seemed to be there and he was basically our default Cook and he could drive the boat or the microwave anywhere without us knowing and he would be watched like a hawk.
After that we just asked Irish to list out the weapons and not spin around with them pointed at us or give technical explanations when few of us were able to use them. It was enough that the main weapons delivered were identified and put in the rear hatch unless we were being boarded.
The main weapon we had seemed to be a Light Machine Gun … the MG4 which could fire about 850 rounds per minute and weighed about 20 lb with a range of 1000 meters; then we had a semi-automatic, self-loading pistol – the USP45 tactical and then another USP which was a basic model but had a range of about 50m, carried a magazine of 15 rounds but there was something else called the M9 handgun. It fitted into a standard holsters and these were our small arms weapons whilst the last two were the M27 Automatic Infantry Rifles and weighed about 8 lb. They could fire about 850 rounds per minute with a 150 round magazine whilst the M9 was a standard US Army issue pistol, but to Irish’s delight there were also some RPG-7s so it looked like we were really expecting a war but had we been caught by the Moroccan Security Services with this lot we would have been expecting some very intensive questions and a note from our mothers excusing us torture would probably have not worked.
After our salvation lunch, I was looking around the cabin and something attracted my attention so I asked Mr Hoo, “what are those 2 gauges and provoked Mr Hoo …?—It didn’t seem difficult—”
Mr Hoo walked over and a cupboard opened with screens inside. The gauges he pointed out were the alarms for the sideways radar, not a gauge and he had turned them off.
“What are those green blips on the screen then, Mr Hoo?”
“They are vessels following us and one of which seemed to be making directly for us—“
“Why didn’t you tell us when you knew, instead of turning them off?”
“—The other is a depth gauge which would only sound when set on and we have for waters below 15 foot in depth. I turned that off as well for the noise, as we are at sea.”
The main worry to me seemed to be Mr Hoo was turning off the warnings which didn’t stop the boats approaching us.
“Why didn’t you tell us instead of turning them off, Mr Hoo? Who are you working for?”
Mr Hoo ignored my comment and that was another problem.
Then he changed direction and wandering out of the cabin he watched the ship changing course to follow us and said, “they seem to be lowering a boat and it looks like rifles they are carrying … um … could be AK 47s; they have a range of about 400 m, but we don’t want them getting too close as I don’t think they are official … Scooter can you go and find Irish?”
Scooter was getting tired of everyone being his Boss and looked at me.
I looked at Scooter; “Do you want to wait for them, Scooter? Go and ask the Major …? If he can focus or understand?”
“I am just getting tired of all the Bosses around here!”
“The Major doesn’t know the boat, Scooter; Mr Hoo does. So after you find Irish we could probably do with Benny to help unless we sit and wait for them, holding our hands out?”
Scooter, along with his umbrage took off to find Irish and came back attached to Benny and the Major but the next thing was Irish already at the aft storage taking out the M27, MG4 and something he said was hidden under the M27 called a G36 which he said could fire 750 rounds per minute at 800 m but was more accurate, if he really wanted to hit anything with iron sights.
I looked as Irish picked up the G36; set it to automatic and loaded a 100 round belt of ammunition which he then handed to Benny whilst he selected an MG4 for himself; fitted a bi-pod and set it to burst firing before loading a belt of ammunition into it.
Mr Hoo who watched Irish with interest, said, “their AKs only have a range of 400m, your MG4 is about a 1000m range and the G36 about 800m …? It might be better if you demonstrated that we can put some bullets amongst them at about 1000m. I appreciate Benny can’t really judge the distance with iron sights, but you have a telescopic sight on yours which is laser guided so can you open fire at 1000m …? Benny, note where they are when he opens fire and when they have come another 200m closer; join in. We don’t really want to kill them; just frighten them off without them getting too close.”
We watched Irish who without a single tremor in his hands for a change lie flat out looking at the boat approaching until he suddenly squeezed the trigger spreading a burst of bullets their way and the boat suddenly swung around and sat there with no movement.
“I aimed for the engine at the rear. I didn’t expect to hit anything,” smiling as Irish could, “but it seems to have stopped them dead in the water.”
“Nice thought, Irish,” mused Mr Hoo, “at least they stopped and unless they follow us that should be the end of that. Can you please make Benny’s gun safe as well as your own?”
Irish put his weapon on safety detached the magazine; cleared the last bullet before wandering over to do the same for Benny.
The EU and Africa Minister was once again at his ‘knife and fork’ politics when his Aide received the phone call informing him the attempt at interception had failed after someone on the boat had at long range put bullets into the rear of the attacking boat rupturing fuel lines; starting a small fire and the interception had been abandoned.
His Aide decided it was better to wait until the Minister had finished his ‘pit-a-pat’ and tell him in the office which was sound-proofed.
It was bad enough when he was cut out of the loop without having up update his Minister when the EU Minister dealt directly with the Defence Minister and all he got was rumours and his security link.
The EU Minister eventually stormed in through the door, “shouting my office now,” and without giving his Aide a chance, continued shouting, “What happened and why didn’t you let me know?”
“The last time I disturbed you at lunch you told me in future to wait until you were in the office and that you would deal directly with the Defence Minister.”
“Well I didn’t expect the Defence Minister to be at that meeting with his Aide ringing him to tell him that the interception had failed again and I didn’t know anything about it!”
“How did the Aide know there had been a problem and you, sir have stopped any information coming to me?”
“How would I know; someone contacted his Aide, I guess and he contacted the Minister who took great delight in quietly telling me that the boat sent after them was on fire!”
“Now; I need to think what we do. About the only good thing is that they shot at a Mauritanian Patrol boat which is Pirate activity and we can use that to have them hunted down; leave me to work things out!” The fuming Minister stormed back into his office snatching up the phone to ring the Defence Minister, “Christie, here, Algenald. My Aide was waiting until I was in a Secure area before contacting me unlike yours spreading the news to all and sundry which is why I didn’t know about this. As I understand it your Pirates have now opened fire on a Mauritanian Patrol boat and I think we need to put your team on a UN and NATO watch-list since they are obviously criminals and dangerous. We should warn the Insurers as well as we have their names and craft details.”
“Yes, that sounds a good idea, Jacob, but the UN is the Foreign Office’s responsibility and NATO is mine but I think it can be arranged. The Insurers however, are the Treasury’s job so I suggest you ring your friends there to arrange that.”
“Consider it done, Algenald. The sooner we get these crooks off the seas the safer everyone will be!”
Hanging up, the Defence Minister then rang his Contact.
“Roger, Algenald. I’ve just heard that this bunch have attacked a ship which plays straight into our hands. I’ve just spoken to my colleague and he has agreed that we put them on a UN and NATO Pirate List and also on the Insurance Lists!”
“Well let’s hope you are more successful with this. With the US paying even more attention to our operations we cannot even move money around until we can find other routes and sources!”
“When is the money likely to be available again, Roger?”
“When Jimmy can find alternative flows but your actions with that team have identified him to the US somehow although thinking about it we’ve only had trouble since Peres got involved. Who else knows about this team of yours?”
“I do, Jacob Christie, Peres, DV, Bishop, Simon Askew, Godfrey Derval but it seems to have spread around the Security Services so the US, UK, French and Moroccans know–”
“–‘and Uncle Tom Cobley and all’ by the sound of it and I guess the Russians are in there somewhere.”
“They don’t know about you, Roger.”
“Peres has learnt about us from somewhere and he is in your list as well so he knows both sides. What do you know about Peres?”
“Spanish blood as far as I can tell? Arrived 4 years ago. Very rich – started backing the Liberals to the tune of millions. Nothing we can find out about him on the general grapevine. Keeps his noses clean which seem to be everywhere; has the right connections and uses them. Very close to the PM and untouchable so I’m told with the money he is passing over to the PM. Very close links to Security with Romel Sebastian and seems extremely well informed about everything that is going on. Rumour has it the PM asks him first before Security since being a Left Wing Liberal he was brought up to hate Security. Peres had a strong hand in the appointments of Lance Jagodzinski and Carmella Salters as Head and Deputy Head of the Security Services when this Coalition Government forced their predecessors out.”
“So he is well informed, untouchable, highly connected and into everything?”
“—he made a point of showing at the weekend when he gatecrashed my Saturday Party and tried several times to get into the house. I had a Security firm sweep on Monday! At the moment I can’t take the risk to the organisation although Jimmy is working on things.”
“I need to get some money in soon, Roger. Suzanne is spending money that isn’t there and I can’t as a Government Minister suddenly transfer large amounts from hidden accounts even if there were large amounts in them still.”
“Hard luck, Algenald. Nothing I can do about it. I must get on anyway.”
The phone went down and it appeared to Algenald that so did his luck.
We were back together in the Cabin a few hours later and Mr Hoo was saying, “We use the engine for Casablanca. Lady Joon …? I hope they don’t check on the registration… is not known under that name so at least changing the name might have some value. Contacts can find out if we are known and what they can supply. Get your heads down – I won’t need spelling for a few hours.”
Boy wandered down to his berth and soon was dreaming of eggs and bacon; ordering a ‘double egg, double soss, bacon, chips and beans with 2 slices and a pint mug of tea and he could just see the eggs top side up – golden yellow; the beans on the toast and tasting the bacon as it crunched; swilled down with great gulps of tea but no sooner was he asking for his second helping than he suddenly found himself awake and Mr Hoo at his bedside.
“Later, Mr Hoo,” he moaned, “I haven’t ordered seconds!”
Mr Hoo, who had now completely forgotten the previous conversation was giving a lesson in why they had pensioned him of.
He was shouting, said, “you changed the name of the boat with your people in Tangier not just on the front of the boat. The Moroccan Security are now looking for ‘Lady Joon Wrong’, not ‘Sam Buck Who’ … no such boat exists as the ‘Lady Joon Wrong’ but they know the name has been changed. The boat is registered as ‘The Sam Buck Who’, you idiot we don’t have a problem getting into Casablanca providing we change the name back!”
“I didn’t know we had a problem getting into Casablanca. You are too glib on this, Mr Hoo. Where do we head for, apart from my sleep’s second course?”
“We head for Mohammedia, Boy. I’ve been saying Casablanca but it is really wrong and my people are backing off like someone has got at them. I am telling Langley one story and the local guys another. The local guys wont check with Langley and if anyone in Langley is leaking then we will be expected in Casablanca but everyone seems to know where we are all the time and it is being passed to the Moroccans. I don’t know how but at least you have confused them with the name. We’ll aim like we are going into Casablanca as the ‘Lady Joon Wrong’ but ‘The Sam Buck Who’ will go into Mohammedia instead. We can dock at the fishing jetty.”
“Which you have known about all the time? Langley might be playing games but you presenting the Oscars for best comedy. As long as I can dream of my double order you can play any game you want, Mr Hoo; now leave me to my second order of breakfast?”
Mr Hoo finally gave up and stormed off; he didn’t know who was playing what game anymore but he knew his own people were now sticking the whole action up and not just this team of fools and he was doing the same for some reason – was this his last post?
We arrived at Mohammedia and the Pilot who came out to me us first question was, “why have you stopped here?”
“We have used our fuel up because of bad winds, currents and we are now low on fuel,” said Mr Hoo.
The Pilot smiled and said, “we received a warning about a vessel looking like yours called ‘The Lady Joon Wrong’ and now you turn up here with a different name but of course with a registered boat! My job is to berth your boat and I don’t really care for the Security Services but use my cousins for the fuel you require as they are reliable and both will heavily overcharge you but those are the ways of the world and I see, Mr Hoo that you wish to thank me for piloting you here, with a small token of gratitude but I would advise you I can only delay notification of your boat due to pressure of work until my prayers tomorrow evening, and please be aware when my cousins start their work that they will want dollars as I do since I see them even now approaching to meet your needs. I will leave and remain quiet … until my prayers tomorrow evening! Understood?”
As we watch the Pilot leave we saw his cousins manhandling trolleys containing 10 five gallon fuel containers and dumping them on the deck. Mr Hoo who seemed to have expected this was already laying ropes down hatches until Benny who was very protective about the engines elbowed him aside and took over the fuel loads.
“Why were they cousins?” I asked Mr Hoo, “and how did they know our requirements and we only have francs and sterling?”
“Boy, you ask the silliest questions at times. People do keep fuel for boats which they don’t use, and they know we are paying dollars which were in a second safe and under my control but with a known boat we are very vulnerable and will not object to being robbed blind which is another reason why you are all carrying guns in closed holsters; another reason why we will be hunted down as we move West. We have some fuel for which we are paying a fortune with our pilot friend waiting for his prayers to be answered tomorrow which they will be and hopefully we have confused a few more people so we can get out of Moroccan waters!”
“We’ll leave at dawn tomorrow, Boy. Irish and Benny will watch the jetty tonight and sleep tomorrow. The Major is staying up as well, to keep an eye on them so you and I can get our heads down as no-one has anywhere to go nor anyone they can sell us to without dying painfully and it does show trust for when we can’t afford to trust them?”
“Next place we can get fuel is Fuerteventura in the Canary Isles, a small Port called Puerto del Rossario. I’ve punched in the co-ordinates for our GPS. We can just get there, park up and rest and there is nothing but a small town at the end of the jetty which is the capital of the island. We need the watches to be standard so 6 hours on, 6 off. Myself, you or the Major need to be around at all times … Irish, Benny and Scooter can match us so we always work ‘one on one’. I think that covers it and time for my bunk.”
“What do you mean, they didn’t go into Casablanca,” the EU and Africa Minister said to his Aide, “I told my contacts they had to go into Casablanca; the French were waiting with an International Warrant to take them and instead they’ve headed into Spanish waters!”
“As soon as we know where they are; what their direction is; we will intercept them again, sir.”
“Intercept them again … you can’t even intercept them in the first place and with what, I ask? There are no other naval ships in the area. The next place with any navy is Senegal and they’re not even heading there.”
“We will keep monitoring the situation, sir and we will get them!”
After 5 days we eventually made Fuerteventura and headed West into the basin the fishing boats left alone. We’d had boats following us after we left Mohammedia but our standard procedure of altering course to see if they still followed us an hour later and if they were we then stopped; gave Irish his prize toy and once they felt a laser beam flickering over the steering wheel at a 1000 yards the message was loud, clear and if ignored, Irish would in his careful way let them come close enough to put some rounds into the rear of the boat for a very peaceful trip home; if their engines were still working although we were becoming nervous as Benny was topping up every 3 or 4 hours to cover 50 miles before we needed another two jerry-cans and I asked Mr Hoo, “how much are the engines were actually using?”
Mr Hoo smiled his usual inscrutable smile and now we learnt something else we had never been told, “the boat was never designed for long-distance powered cruising as the idea is to cruise at sail speeds and only use fuel to attack a target. The engines had never been used ‘long-distance’ and we are running them close to their top levels since we have never completely serviced them in years and we need to get Benny looking at that some time but we are using up fuel at a level that will get us to Fuerteventura and I have already arranged for someone to service the engines there and refill some 50 jerry-cans with 250 gallons of fuel plus topping up the engine tanks which would normally only cost us about $500 but if we get away with less than $1000 I will be surprised.”
We arrived, and with the same quiet efficiency seen in Mohammedia we saw a small tanker arriving and we unloaded the empty jerry-cans ready for filling. Mr Hoo had raided the safe and was carrying about £2000 as well so Irish and Benny went with him as they walked down the jetty into town. By the time we had finished, Mr Hoo was back and had decided our next stop was Pointe Mouette with berths for tankers with us hiding behind and to be out before anyone realised we have arrived?
Our main problems were the wrecks, fishing boats blocking the harbour without lights and we needed to get in close because of the trade winds sweeping in the sand so you’re blind and joining the swell fighting against the Trade Winds in October which meant heavy fuel usage to get anywhere.
“What about Dakar, Mr Hoo?”
“Do you know anything about Dakar, Boy?”
“They run a rally there so they should have access to fuel and there is a large deep freeze store in town!”
“You win, Boy, we head for Dakar … it is about 500 miles, which should leave us about 50 gallons left and likely to be attacked—“
“How unusual, Mr Hoo—”
“—so someone at the prow at all times and yes, Irish you can wear holsters! We’ll need to watch for the harmatten winds as we come in with reduced visibility but we can take our time and let Irish do some weapons training as he keeps treating those guns as his private collection and I don’t want you guys killing each other in Dakar. We’ll aim for mole 10 which is the Fishing Pier. Senegal is French controlled with bases and ships so we have to be as quick as a ‘cat’s lick’ with the empties on the deck before we dock. We aim to be in about ½ hour after dusk and my local guys are pulling a lot of favours for this as they can’t be seen near us. We are already down to £5000 and 6000 francs plus about $10,000 and this fuel is costing $20 a gallon instead of $9 and just our standard containers have wiped out 4,000 francs … the other 50 gallons are more expensive than gold bars and we top up the engines first! The francs only equate to about $900 at the rate we are checking, so we are short-changed to go with the short-measure; nice to know something balances. Now is a good time if any of you have any cash to spare?”
“As one we are looked at the Major and he squealed,” he said, “I was told there was a $10,000 donation in the forward locker of the ‘V’ from the previous owner. You have the keys in the safe and changed the combination but that is the last of any cash I know of. The cards are cancelled and I would be lynched if I’d tried anything.”
“Thanks, Major and we will be first if you do try anything; we just raise the sails and you with it,” Mr Hoo, smiled liked he was enjoying himself, “check the ‘V’ for the money, Irish and put it in the safe if you find the money. We still have 500 miles at least to go to reach Dakar and there will be other deliveries waiting for when we do arrive but right now I need you guys to spend time with Irish on those weapons because life is going to get really dangerous and very soon. Benny reckons we will go through another 100 gallons of fuel but he also thinks that we are using up the freezer too quickly and I want that filled in Dakar as well.”
Benny did actually think that every port in West Africa had a freezer department but at some point we would need to start cooking instead of using a Microwave and battery power. I looked at Benny’s face when the freezer comment was made as he was worse than Mr Hoo albeit on the frozen pasta, “Benny, there is a company in Dakar, called ‘CDA’ and we have placed a bulk order for delivery when we get there so stop looking so miserable but we have to move fast when we get there. If the French get us we won’t be going anywhere and you don’t like French cooking.”
Mr Hoo, who looked at our faces chipped in with, “Chicken Breasts, Legs, Sole Fillets, Ground Beef, Chipolata Sausages, Bacon and I am sure we can throw Pork and Cheese in somewhere with pastry. Everything is cash only and I don’t want mistakes! 3 of us in every meeting where there is money carried.”
“We are 500 mile from Dakar and worrying about the Freezers so I want to start worrying about weapons. We have one MG4 light machine gun, one M27 automatic rifle, one G36 assault rifle and five USP hand guns plus a Beretta M9 which is mine. The MG4 is Irish, M27 is Benny, Boy the G36 and all of you get USPs. Why we’ve all got different weapons is because that is what they gave us but Irish is the only trained effective marksmen we have, Benny needs the gun with a rest so he can avoid shooting us … and Boy needs the magnification to see what he is doing. The G36 has a reflex sight as opposed to Benny’s iron sights so Boy will have a chance to actually hit something.”
“Boy and Irish will start of the watch when we get out of harbour in about a week. It is a straight run so don’t kill anyone until we are out of this and then we’ll have enough trouble to keep us all happy.”
Some days later we were just turning past Cap Timris when we saw a Patrol Vessel come out of the blue and start shooting at us. Mr Hoo almost wrecked himself knocking Irish down before he could get his weapon out and rushed into the cabin with the engines roaring as the boat lifted and we were leaving the Patrol Vessel drifting behind as we moved off but still following us, “Irish can you set a RPG to explode in the air only I would like some display of fire power that does not threaten them?”
“I’d like them closer for the MG4 laser to concentrate their minds,” said Irish with the smile yet again crossing his face … old times I thought.
“I’ll slow the engine and put the hydrofoils up. Try not to hit anyone!”
With the engine slowed down like we were in trouble and the gun on its tripod, Irish lay down watching the little red light run up and down the boat until he slowly pressed the trigger. We couldn’t really see from this distance but the boat quickly moved to Port with the rear of vessel towards us. Mr Hoo pushed the engines on full with us and the boat rising up and accelerating while the pursuers made no attempt to turn and follow us as Irish’s ploy worked and we kept travelling for another half hour before Mr Hoo shut us down and said, “we will be using sails for a while.”
The phone rang in the Defence Minister’s office, “Roger, a pleasure to hear from you.”
“It won’t be a pleasure for much longer, Algenald, you are losing us a lot of money … take action or we will!”
“Everything is in hand, Roger. There is an International Warrant out for these guys for arms dealing and the French Navy has ships at Dakar who can get them.”
“What! You have put out an International Warrant for arms dealing you bloody fool. Do you think we want people looking for arms dealers … what the bloody hell do you think you are doing? Why don’t you post our names up as well? Cancel the warrant; say it is a mistake – it should have been for piracy anywhere … you’ve got enough evidence of them shooting up Naval Ships. All that evidence and you go for arms dealing. I wonder why we even bothered with you!”
The phone went down as the red in Algenald’s face went up but before he could shout for his Aide the phone rang again.
“Hello, Minister here.”
“Hello Algenald, I’ve just had my French connection on the phone and apparently these guys have just shot up another Patrol boat off the coast of Mauritania.”
“Yes I’d heard. My informants tell me they are on the way from the Canary Isles after they sneaked in and out before anyone realised and are now fuelled up again which gives them a range of about Dakar as I can’t see them putting into Nouakchott after the number of Mauritanian Patrol Boats they have fired on. The French have ships at Dakar and we should be able to get them there. Someone has pointed out to me that with the attitude to arms dealers in the area it might be better to get the International Warrant re-issued for Piracy since any Naval ship can then arrest them and I will be doing this immediately, Jacob.”
It was dark and quiet when we passed some 20 mile off Nouakchott and picked up a boat tracking us back about 2 miles whilst our front and side radars picked up another 5 boats in total shadowing us.
Mr Hoo said, “it looks like trouble and we need to go further out to sea.”
“Let them come close and use the RPGs on them,” said Irish.
“I think we head right and then you can use your RPGs if you need to …. could be a trap or just shadowing and radioing ahead to Dakar with us on the menu if we do anything,” Boy and Mr Hoo looked each other up and down however Boy had the advantage although he often felt he should bend his knees when talking to Mr Hoo, “We can take the right hand front vessel but I want another mile between all but the two on the right using hydrofoils to drop off the rest so we can shut down and wait. We are not in place to start fighting battles especially when surrounded and outnumbered but breaking out quickly before they suspect anything means we can then shut down all power and let them try and find a piece of metal and that is what they will do … the Lady is metal, Mr Hoo,” Boy’s voice dropped, “and all of you stop thinking you are on Brighton Pier on a day out; and I mean you, Irish. We head straight for the boat to the right in front and destroy it if we have to but get those sails down and the engines up, Mr Hoo … we haven’t needed for hours!”
We felt Mr Hoo finally get the message although what messages who was really getting were beyond our thoughts and most others; the engines cut in and the boat start to rise, turning to starboard as we accelerated.
“Major, on the radar,” Can you see what are they doing?”
“The ones closest to the coast are not moving, the ones behind are dropping back … the one in front right is towards us.”
“Now cut the engines, raise the foils, shut down all power and we wait.”
“No noise. The radar and GPS are shut down … no electric emissions and bare feet and don’t throw your boat shoes, Benny – we’ll buy some more for one of your graves?”
Irish slowly lowered the three automated rifles onto the table. Courtesy of Irish we knew about the safety and looking down sights. Benny took Starboard, I took Port; the Major took sherry thinking we didn’t know about that secret ‘V’ stock with a glugging sound; someone was making sure the Major was tanked and Scooter would learn there are two positions for a rifle. Mr Hoo took beam and Irish took aft. We could hear the engine noise as they came closer … the 2nd at Port very clearly and could probably hear the Major on the sherry; they seemed yards away from us but still moving away. The engine noises louder and then slowly dying away.
We saw Mr Hoo adjust the sail position. Mr Hoo looked at my face and laughed; something he liked to do, “There is a gauge and once the sails are up I’ll swing them left or right until a meter gives the best reading according to GPS. Yes; I can set them from here but I don’t want you guys messing about with these controls because you might hit the wrong buttons and it is good exercise with fresh air. If you want to take the helm, I’ll grab some sleep and see you about 0600,” that seemed the only accolade I was even going to get from Mr Hoo and who told them I’d served in the Royal Navy? It had to be that bastard, Bishop?
We came into Dakar around dusk that day; aiming for the North Jetty West Face. We had the documents and cash checked and donated before being very swiftly cleared especially of the cash as the petrol tanker arrived to fill up our jerry-cans. A customs inspector seemed very curious about our freezers until Mr Hoo explained with some demonstrations of his art including our dwindling stock of French francs. With the fuel and water loaded I had no idea of time until about 4 hours later as we watched for the guys coming back and eventually they did? Or sort of?
It was about 6 hours later when 3 taxis drove up with plastic bags of stuff that the full team returned. Leaving Scooter to watch them we started loading up and if that wasn’t enough we had put our holsters back on which had the taxi drivers pointing and jabbering at Mr Hoo, who started waving French francs around until they calmed down and we finished the loading.
As they took off so did we; moving the boat slowly away to the east aiming for the entrance channel south west to that and our possible time to relax moved away with that as it was obvious we weren’t paying enough to be left in peace when we could be robbed wholesale.
Once out we opened up to 15 knots and we were out. At least October was outside of the rainy and tornado season this far down but was it out of other troubles …? Time would tell?
Mr Hoo normally full of smiles now seemed more morose than ever with his up and down character breaking out again. You honestly never knew where you stood with him as he switched emotions, moods, brain and drive in seconds and now he was off again, “We are stocked up for 6 months, providing we don’t need any more fuel or supplies. The next service area is where we are finally going to be anyway. We have 17 days sailing to put us some 200 miles off the coast for the final turn. Short of an emergency, we don’t touch Freetown. We keep our heads down and stay well away from anyone. With fresh meat, fish and eggs tonight dinner is ‘hot and sour soup’, ‘egg foo yung’ and ”ho fun Singapore style so if the Boy will take over I will start the cooking,” maybe that might keep his temperament under control although I doubted it, watching his face…?
“Perhaps another night, Benny can produce some Italian food and the rest of you can use the Internet for your recipe, so we get some variety. We probably have a fortnight to kill until we reach Monrovia so I am looking to all of you to take this chance to cheer up the rest of us with some good food and we will also want to invent some games to keep us interested. There are also some fishing rods in storage so we can see about some fresh fish but you clean what you catch and anyone throwing stuff back we could eat cleans everyone elses.”
The next fortnight seemed to pass in years as for once we just slowly sailed in peace at about 12 knots with the engine brought in to maintain the average on occasions. Each night someone would plan out a meal usually stolen out of the freezer and the Internet but we picked up flotsam as it passed and tying it behind the boat gave ourselves a chance to improve our accuracy with the guns although we kept shooting the ropes and losing what was attached but at least we started to learn what weapons could do, if we needed to use them.
Mr Hoo who did know martial arts with his other skills started us on exercises and even the Major and Scooter weren’t excused swinging sidekicks, throwing punches and doing exercises that had us aching to start with and then we found ourselves getting more flexible, thinking about where we were as someone aimed a blow which we could now avoid and I was pleased the cameras weren’t taking beauty photographs since there was no beauty in the first place and we were starting to feel more confident in ourselves but the major change was on Irish who was a different man in every way. Confident, assured and believing in himself as if we had unwrapped a wreck of himself and restored it.
Dusk was just falling some 200 mile off the coast and also about 200 mile from Sherbro Island, when we saw some large fishing boats plus motor boats heading towards us from the Sherbro Island direction for what looked like another attack and a professional one this time.
“Mr Hoo! How do these boats know where we are? It’s nearly dusk and will be bloody dark quite soon.”
One look at Mr Hoo’s face and I realised that he was blown as well and they were waiting for us. Where we going, what we were doing and probably when we were doing it, had been passed on and it could only have come from one source … CIA.
Irish was already heading to the rear storage.
They had crept up under cover of darkness and Irish was now throwing RPGs to Mr Hoo, Scooter and the Major, who were stuffing rockets into them and running into position on the Starboard side of the main deck whilst Irish, Benny and myself were clapping magazines into our automatic weapons. They were only about 600 yards away when they opened fire with the AK 47s and Mr Hoo shouted to the RPG guys to lie flat until they got closer.
Irish who had stayed aft was already spraying bursts of fire towards the boats and Benny and I joined in.
We still had sails down and Mr Hoo hit the buttons to take the sails up to give us some stability and as the sails started to rise, we both loosed off more bursts at the boats coming in.
The Major fired off his RPG on its defaults settings which whizzed over the heads of the boats coming in but his fireworks probably achieved more than we did. It looked very much like someone had forgotten to tell them we were armed as they still weren’t within real accurate range from their point and we had cover and something to rest the automatics on and firing they probably thought they were entering a different world as the Major by accident managed to hit one with a RPG.
We saw the nearest boats start to head away as the Major and Scooter finally got a grip on the RPGs and Irish was embroidering tattoos on the boats with his laser machine gun and I think the crews, as an RPG hit the main boat and exploded were getting a little unhappy. After this the whole bunch were turning and Mr Hoo shut the sails down; cut in the engines and we took off.
We finally slowed down about 20 minutes later with Mr Hoo still looking like someone had been stealing his coffee, “No-one could have known exactly where we would be at dusk some 200 mile off the coast of West Africa,” he shouted! The problem was, he was right. They seemed to know exactly where we were at all times and the first thing that crossed my minds was the cables for the GPS as we knew there was a satellite link so later after Mr Hoo and I held a little discussion with some of Mr Hoo’s skills involved plus Irish in an ‘I’ll blow your head mode’, Mr Hoo took the cover off the GPS feed with connections leading down from the mid-section of the box.
One lead to a USB plug into the computer network; the second to the satellite roof socket but a third under the floor which it shouldn’t be doing. We removed the hatch from the cabin and Mr Hoo climbed down with myself. The small duct and cable was easy to see but unless you knew what you were looking for, easy to miss. The GPS should only have two connections … 1 for the satellites and 1 for the Network; there should not be a connection going down into the boat and then it clicked, “I think Mr Hoo that if you follow that lead you are going to find it plugs into the TV Satellite Connection and from there it passes our position back using the same technology we are using to download TV programs but it is sending a signal back amongst the others. Your own people don’t trust us. I think if we terminate this extra Satellite link from the TV?”
“I think it would be easier Boy, if we just cut the connect and masked it. That way the guys can still get satellite TV but one way.”
“Sound fine by me although we don’t know who else will be waiting for us now as they know where we are going but we don’t need fuel so we change direction and we don’t need to be where they expect us … Grand Bassam seems a good site and out of the way the way this is going!”
Mr Hoo however decided Monrovia was the place to aim for and then to avoid as he could not make his mind up once again as he tried to dance for his masters and those in his own head.
We ending up staying 200 mile off the coast all the way down to Buchanan and Greenville then moving further off the coast by another 100 miles so we were well away from any traffic.
We didn’t in the end move in until after Cape Palmas so with luck we would lose anyone shadowing us as Mr Hoo had lost us with his final statement, “We go to Abidjan then to Grand Bassam. It is not just Grand Bassam we are interested in but the coast a bit further up and the lagoons around Grand Bassam. You will be moving around the lagoons and based off the old pier. There are two petrol stations and a Carrefour in Grand Bassam so it is not a desert.”
“Mr Hoo, we are still 300 mile away in Atlantic surf with massive swells and tides that will smash us if we get if we get in too close how do we find this spot and when do we go over the sand bar?”
“Boy … don’t you listen? We are going to Abidjan to pick up the Visas. Grand Bassam and the Atlantic are for later. We will be out of the swells but this boat has foils we let down for stability.”
“Sorry, Mr Hoo I must have fallen asleep with your words and dreams of sand.”
“Now I have an opportunity for the sandman, Boy so if you have woken up … the helm is yours. Irish will work with you as usual. It will take us about another 60 hours to reach Abidjan so we’ll stay 6 on 6 off until we hit the Vridi Canal and I want the sails checked on the hour!”
Vridi Canal was choppy water, oil tanker berths, ‘ro-ro’ jetty and fishing quays until you passed under the Boulevard de Gaulle and into the Ebrie Lagoon.
We saw in the distance a launch suddenly appeared from the Biafra area and then with Irish muttering about weapons and Mr Hoo and myself almost producing pistols to stop him, they flagged us with Mr Hoo nodding like a Christmas toy; to a small Isle just off ‘Isle Desiree’ and I was desirous of some peace and not watching Mr Hoo feeling superior or Irish feeling for weapons or Benny licking his lips at a chance of getting women; why the hell did they try and kill us – this bunch had suicide tattooed on their heads.
We cut the engines, lowered the foils and waited. The boat which seemed like it was hired came alongside and we roped the boats together moving the boxes on-board while more bags were thrown onto us.
After a couple of hours we moved on passing Abra down the deeper routes to Grand Bassam and eventually coming out by the Morin and into the Comoe.
From there down to Moossou near Bouet was fairly easy and finally we neared the pier near Assoyam where we could drop anchor knowing good depth existed.
Irish and Benny were working on the boxes with Mr Hoo, yet again salivating and while the contents went straight into the freezers we once again stocking up on frozen burgers and coffee that Mr Hoo would microwave.
There was also another MG4, M27 and Mr Hoo told Irish to train me on the MG4. The M27 went to Mr Hoo and my G36 went to Scooter. We had no intention of deliberately letting the Major have an automatic gun besides the pistol but Mr Hoo had another box, and from this he produced X3 Tasers and what looked like jungle knives.
Major seemed to have accepted me as Mr Hoo’s No.2 as I could stay sober but the Major knew his time with the Brits was gone and so was he.
We still had to find these Pirates and put them out of business but we never thought that the Pirates would know where to ‘pay us’ the compliment of a visit before we could ‘warmly shake them by the throat’ and that was what happened.
“Mr Hoo and I did our 6 hours on and he called a crew meeting to say he was changing the crew routines with the Major became the third cabin guy with one other on watch. The Major’s crew would be Benny; mine would be Irish and Mr Hoo would take Scooter but we would carry the knives and Tasers at all times as standard.”
“Mr Hoo started to go through potential target areas used by the Pirates. The Vitre Isle dwarfing Morin was too far away so we would just check out Bouet and take a break while the crew were welcome to go ashore but no trouble. We would need some stuff from Carrefour although God alone knows what or where we would put it apart from Mr Hoo’s gullet when it was eventually empty – and don’t wait up – and once we checked fuel there were a couple of Petrol Stations we could use. There would be alcohol on board for those not on watches but no abusing it or the lot would go over the side … all standard stuff.”
“Just the one question, Mr Hoo,” said Irish, “What force can we use if they start firing at us?”
“Irish. We are primarily targeted at disrupting their camps and activities. If they don’t start firing then you don’t …? If they do open fire then return their fire until they stop. We are not taking prisoners which does not mean kill them; Taser them if they are close; aim for the legs if they are not and then leave them. We just want them to have their plans, camps disrupted and their small boats sunk … the bigger ones if we can but the small ones and people are the target since without the small ships they can’t get crew out to the big ships. What we don’t have is permission to do is disrupt any hijacking of the tankers or do anything in public that gets our big faces across the news. Our business is the guys’ on-shore and guys; we do it quietly.”
The phone rang in the Defence Minister’s office, “Simon, sir, can you spare a moment?”
“I can give you five minutes, Simon … I need to be off after that.”
Simon came into the office, “Our guy in Abidjan was monitoring the CIA there. He saw the team meet near the Biafra area of Abidjan and the CIA transferred cases over. He watched them move down to Grand Bassam and berth just off the old pier. They don’t known we have found them and think they are safe.”
“What was in the boxes?”
“We don’t know.”
“Thank you for the update, Simon.”
Simon left and the Minister rang Roger Turner, “Roger, Algenald Matthews here – can you talk?”
“2 minutes, Algenald!”
“Security has tracked these guys to the old pier in Grand Bassam. They’ve just arrived and think they are safe,” and he rang off. Well the call had been under 2 minutes and no-one treated him like that.
Algenald then picked up the phone to the EU and Africa Minister, “Algenald Matthews here. We have finally traced this crew to the old pier in Grand Bassam. I thought you would like to know?”
“Not interested, Algenald. My French connections are sick of hearing about the antics of this crew you launched, and I have had nothing but embarrassment excusing their antics as they made fools of the people I have to deal with. You told me these were a bunch of idiots yet to-date they have outsmarted you, the Security Services and made the PM virtually vote Labour.”
“It should not be too much trouble for your contacts to take their boat out and we have them.”
“Algenald, my contacts would not touch this bunch if I personally paid the French Government. This mess was created by your Department and you have proved beyond all doubt that your Department has lost control of an armed group of people now somewhere in West Africa and your saying that you know where they are now is not something you tell me; tell it to the Ivory Coast and the PM!”
The phone slammed down again as a lot of phones were doing recently and Algenald Matthews promised himself his Aide would come to a very sticky end when it could be arranged and now he had to depend on Roger.
Having slammed the phone down on Algenald Matthews Jacob Christie was immediately on the phone to his French connections telling them that he’d found where the boat was.
We finally settled down by the old pier which was completely enclosed by trees with a sandy path back from the pier and only a couple of hundred yards through sand to meet the road connection with a landing on the other side of the trees where the ‘V’ could drop us off so it looked a nice spot but the small islands to the right were worrying since anything could come in on a shallow draught as the sand bank and bars made the water only deep enough for a short distance through a channel out and then turning into mid lagoon. You would need an inflatable if you fancied exploring there. Mr Hoo waved to me, “What’s the problem, Mr Hoo?”
“A boat followed us from Abidjan until they knew where we are berthed. An attack from the lagoon could come from the Islands on the right, land attack by boat from the sandy beach near the trees or both at once. We will moor out tonight so they can’t jump us from the pier or we get all three attacks at once.”
“There is an area just down from the bridge with a gap for protection and one way in I think. Deep enough to anchor and squeeze through but no other way to get near us and we can anchor in the middle with jungle either side; just the front way in. There are a couple of small inlets to the right but they have to come around the outcrop. Let’s get the guys together and we’ll take this bunch on, on our terms.”
We crossed the water with enough power to squeeze through the hole like a cork in a bottle moving left into a bit of clear water. Benny and Irish got the ‘V’ off the davits into the water and headed down towards the Jetty. They had the same guns so I decided to stay with mine as theirs could see in the dark; target with lasers and infra-red and they could watch any boats coming towards us.
We waited for a few hours then Irish’s radio blared out at us so the world could hear, “there are several small boats just on the other side of the barrier and that they seemed to be making for an entrance further up towards the pier and on the other side of the outcrop whilst 2 boats are coming towards the entrance we used. I had an RPG stuffed into my hands by Mr Hoo with instructions, “point and fire once they get through. It doesn’t matter if you hit them; just hope we get the right distance to frighten them with the RPGs.”
Moving the boat gave us the element of surprise as they didn’t know we were waiting and our RPGs when we fired them just missed their boats and hit the outcrop lighting up the area. At the same time Irish and Benny opened up with short bursts and we heard rather than saw shots aimed at where we should have been in the dark but Mr Hoo seemed frozen, standing there with his mouth open leaving the Major and Scooter firing rockets at anything and lighting up the outcrop like Guy Fawkes night which lit up the boats coming around the top giving me a chance at them with the RPG.
Irish and Benny moved the ‘V’ in behind the two boats that had come through the gap and Irish once again left their boats without engines. He was getting fairly proficient with this while the Major and Scooter were finding the range on the new boats, but we still needed to move further away as Mr Hoo, frozen with the good fight going on still stood there and finally by shaking Mr Hoo by the scruff of the neck I broke into his stasis and he finally put the boat into electric and took us left away from the attack.
Scooter and the Major had destroyed the nearest boats still afloat with Pirates diving overboard and swimming to the burning outcrop with Benny now taking the ‘V’ through the gap for Irish who had Benny’s automatic to shoot up the lagoon with Scooter and the Major were still looking for other boats around to aim at.
We used the radar to search for any more boats and finding none moved to the jetty further down in case of another attack. It could have been two sets of Pirates attacking but loosing several boats and people after we had just arrived would hurt but they had put together boats and 30 people to hit us within hours of our arriving which was definitely the wrong side of good!
We had also learnt Mr Hoo might be good an organising and hitting things head on if they were small enough but you needed the Major for the tactics only a coward could produce.
Mr Hoo just froze when the guns started while the Major and Scooter went for their throats from a distance. I left the Major who seemed to have got some respect back arguing in the cabin with Mr Hoo, and helped Irish and Benny bring the ‘V’ back on board. Benny immediately leapt off to check his engines with Mr Hoo and the Major still arguing. Any ability to hide was certainly wasted anyway as they screamed and shouted at each other.
In a moment of weakness I agreed after Benny asked, “would it be easier to park at the new Jetty?”
“Anything would be easier than this listening to them still screaming their heads off,” I said and I should have heard the winsome note in Benny’s voice, “head up to the jetty.”
Any ability I had to think positively of Benny and the Major was severely tested the next morning when we found the boat moored against the Jetty, Benny gone, and no-one in the cabin as the Major was asleep in his bunk.
Luckily the Police Station wasn’t that far away from the ‘No-Limit’ Nightclub and both were reachable from where Benny had parked us. Using Francs, Benny had hoarded, plus dollars we didn’t know about Benny had relieved his feelings at the club and attempted to relieve other feelings elsewhere which had attracted attention and a Police cell for Benny.
By the time we arrived at the Police Station, Mr Hoo and the Major had argued no structure of command between them thus reducing our stock of money even more than Benny had as they both went to get Benny out of his evening’s entertainment’s jail cell.
Mr Hoo offered the Policeman dollars after the Major offered francs and sterling leaving the Policeman a lot richer, nicer and Benny a lot less downtrodden until we got him back on-board the boat with us a lot poorer after the ego clash between 2 crap leaders.
Benny had never been in a battle like this and I doubted if he would have one like this one again once we got him back on the boat gave him TLC on the boat.
Most of the time, Irish said, “Benny was firing up in the air”, but Irish was being quiet decent about it – the rest of us however were pointing out that Benny had betrayed us and needed a gun up his arse.
He’d made sure everyone knew where we were and who we were.
Irish cut in again, “Benny just didn’t have the ‘bravo’ in him unless it with women so his escapades and our paying well over the top to get him out also paid for the gunfire and that was why we paid so much.”
Benny was an ‘easy going idiot’ who you couldn’t really rely on but he betrayed us and that showed in the way the rest of the crew took it.
He had been blooded and suffered for his activities but we would not be staying at the jetty any longer and moved back to the old pier where at least we were berthed away from the shore with no easy way for Benny to get to the club as we were on the other side of the water but that left us vulnerable to attacks from land in 2 positions and easily attacked from the Comoe area so once again we were sat by the pier drawing attention to ourselves as sitting ducks and we didn’t need to vote on who the first duck would be.
We did need to find somewhere else to berth as the pier had been an easy decision providing no-one knew we were there which was foiled as they now knew exactly where we were but we needed to find somewhere else we could berth and the best idea was to let Mr Hoo, the Major and Benny go looking for it.
Benny had already used 2 jerry-cans to top up the ‘V’ and once again we needed more fuel.
Against my better judgement, Benny was staying with the boat while the Major and Mr Hoo collected more petrol before they went looking.
This raised the issue of Benny being alone on the ‘V’ so Irish was detailed to stay with Benny leaving myself and Scooter with the Lady. Benny had at least taught Scooter how to start the engine. I had a H&K USP with me plus a Taser and the knife so we had some defence if anyone tried anything.
Scooter then wondered off and came back with an RPG, some rockets and the rest took off in the ‘V’ leaving us sat there.
Simon existed in Mansion Block 1, Flat 58 close to the Earls Court end of Chelsea.
He checked out his regular train as much from boredom as anything. The train ride and the regulars were routine but two now stuck out as ‘sore thumbs’ … one who never looked up from his paper with the other staying by the door who got off at Sloan Square.
On his return that night they were there again so he deliberately went past Gloucester Road to Earls Court and then he crossed over the platform and sat waiting for the next train back for about 10 minutes.
He had no doubt or he was going paranoid but he felt he was being tracked by a team who knew where he lived so it was good to let them know he knew if they existed and he finally decided to walk from Earls Court and sod waiting for a train.
Walking through Earls Court was something that was lifeblood to Simon; the lights, music, fast food, pubs … that was why he stayed at the Earls Court end of Chelsea with Fulham Road close by. He didn’t need to think about the excitement in his job …. there wasn’t any … his job didn’t really exist at all apart from sitting there reporting on Algenald Matthews to his superiors of which there seemed to be a lot. The only excitement was in the air of Earls Court and they could take his job roll up into a ball and stuff it up the Minister’s ample backside as far as he cared.
He knew the route home and didn’t bother to check whether he was being followed. It didn’t matter. They could take him any time they wanted and it would be a release with the way he felt his life was going. He didn’t wish that he had another career but the crooks had taken over the Prison and now all the racketeers worked in Politics.
The Block didn’t have grandeur or anything but at least he was back in civilisation and soon a shower, a couple of beers and Gloucester Road beckoned.
As he reached his block he started popping mints into his mouth marching across the prison exercise yard but on the money he had left he could just afford a cell.
He often promised himself a flat in a block by the river but the MP’s had the flats down there on MP’s expenses while he got some old Liberty Block following his divorce stripping him of every penny but he took her debts just to get rid of her and now he got the Prison Block 1 cell which was usually solitary confinement as any girl looking at the walk between Blocks 3 and 2 made an excuse and ran.
Still sucking mints in case his breath reached the adjoining blocks was necessary as the curtains waved like semaphores whilst the old ladies filled the time in waving their pension books in signal code for get him down and kick him in the nuts.
Roger needed a couple of stiff ones but more and more he thought that as he thought about Mark Stephens, Jimmy Mackintosh and Sasha Gomez which was much against his better judgement. Antona knew it was a business weekend and would happily stay in the background but keeping all the parties from fighting until they settled down to the meeting was getting worse and worse as they turned on him.
Roger left his car out the front and having given his wife a kiss headed for a Hine brandy closely followed by another to stop it feeling lonely. He finished his second brandy and moved to the Library to find his wife, “What amazing feast have we laid on for everyone tonight, dear?”
“Nothing that special, Roger. Cook took the easy way out and bought a large chicken and a large piece of beef. The chicken I think is being cooked Chasseur Style with shallots, butter, mushrooms, cognac and the beef was a red wine marinate, runner beans, new potatoes, cauliflower cheese, podded peas and that was, I think, the main course menu. Tomato Soup for starters with brandy and chocolate pudding for the sweet. Stilton, Brie, Cheddar and some French runny cheese for non-sweet eaters She has kept it fairly simple and they should be able to move afterwards but not too well; ripe for your brandy and cigars to see them hogs to be tied.”
“Fine, I’ll head for a shower; change and I should have time to catch up on some correspondence. Any calls I need to return?”
“No. It’s been a very quiet day that way but I do need you to have a word with Amand. One of his friends has been arrested by the Police on drug charges and I don’t want whoever it is in this house. I don’t think Alisea is involved but you might have a word with them when they get back on Monday to make sure, and insist that they do not bring this person into the house!”
“I’ll sort it, Antona. Now I’ll have that shower and get ‘today’ off me.”
The dinner sounded good … enough variety … yet simple and easy to prepare.
He stood there enjoying the fierce battering from the pressure nozzle beating his day into retreat. There was something good about an evening shower before dinner and especially after a couple of good Hine brandies. It allowed you to glow; forget the day and the pressure.
He knew Antona seemed worried and not just about the kids. Money she had been used to seeing arrive every month without fail wasn’t arriving. Buying Algenald Matthews’ gambling debts had been a gamble in itself since he couldn’t really afford them. Algenald was the only resalable target for them if he used them but if Algenald couldn’t pay them no Court would ever enforce them and he’d have thrown a lot of money away but he needed something tangible to pressurise Algenald with and it was all he could think of but it was a risky strategy but Algenald had the Security contacts and was the Defence Minister.
He headed back to the Library to go through the correspondence. Antona knew better than to even look at this mail and despite her playing the ‘empty headed wife’ he knew there was a law degree in that head and she knew he was involved in illegal operations even if she claimed she couldn’t understand his business. He produced the mobiles from a wooden safe and listened to the messages. Well hopefully tonight they could make some headway.
Arriving back in the kitchen he found Antona and Cookie discussing table placements.
He and Antona would take top and bottom spots. Sasha was a bit too excitable to put opposite Algenald Matthews so Mark Stephens would sit opposite Sasha and Jimmy Mackintosh would sit opposite Algenald Matthews. Sasha’s ego was a major problem and it would take very little for his temper to erupt although a word before they started might help since Sasha had derailed more than a few meetings with his explosive temperament and an early cocktail from Albert … Cook’s husband might be a good way to break down any troubles before they wheeled them into dinner but he made it a point to mention to Cook where he wanted places set before they went in, with Sasha and Algenald on opposite sides of the table … he hoped Sasha did not forget the cutlery was there for the food after another unfortunate episode when he started hurling knives and forks across the table at Mark Stephens and he would need Albert behind Sasha’s place until the meal was finished.
“Everything seems to sorted, Antona; just about time for the bloodletting and I know you don’t like Mark but please try and keep him in a good mood as I need those Associates of his in West Africa and keep him off Algenald’s throat although given a choice I’d let him have Algenald for breakfast and pay his bill for cleaning up.”
“Roger, you know Sasha, Mark and I get on like a fox looking for a plump hen. I am not one of Sasha’s Russian women no matter what he thinks and Mark is loud-mouthed, aggressive, abusive and over-bearing. ‘Good Evening’ is about the best you can hope for from him and that is with a sneer!”
“I need Algenald’s people in Africa neutralised to get the cash flows moving again and Mark is all I have to work with. Mark and Sasha can’t stand each other at the best of times and Sasha for a Spaniard always astonishes me with his liking for Russian women but if he turns up with one tonight I’ll slaughter him. We can get around the rest of problems by shipping oil to China with the money routed via Africa but not with a bunch of out-of-control idiots wiping out our Associates in West Africa. We have had problems enough with this bunch; never mind the rest?”
“I suppose, Roger I should be wearing a low cut dress decking out the flesh for their titillation and as the meeting is oil based perhaps I should wear my ‘Diesel’ tonight?”
`“Jeans and check shirt, Antona. With luck they will attack each other before storming off in a huff and we’ll have the weekend to ourselves?”
Roger headed to the master bedroom; strapping tight a very large US Rodeo belt around his ever increasing waist and jeans with a bandanna around his ever increasing neck for the Rodeo look when he heard a car approaching. Antona after his objections would not be putting the family jewels on display.
He made his way to the front door to welcome his first guest and as the car drew up out walked Sasha minus Russian company … a blessing.
Antona couldn’t stand him, full-stop and showed it but she couldn’t stand most of the people he dealt with which was fair enough. Roger met Sasha at the door to the comment, “where is that arsehole ‘Algenald’,” from Sasha.
“Put your temper away or go now, Sasha. If you can’t be professional then just go; I don’t need tantrums tonight, just solutions!”
“You need me, Roger I have made us a fortune!”
“You have been part of a chain giving the Nigerians a way to milk their own country with Jimmy laundering the money to pass it on to you … this is a team, Sasha that makes us all rich and I don’t need your crap since you and Jimmy allowed our transactions to get traced and so far both of you have failed to find us new routes. We now have these problems as you enriched yourself by double-crossing and betting on the oil market before the Piracy which aroused attention of some kind of link between the hijacks and your speculation and has brought us to the attention of a lot of legislators who want a cut?”
“Who is giving you this bullshit, Roger? I have not taken a penny more than my share!”
“Your greed, Mark and Algenald’s incompetence were the ‘pulling factors’ in the CIA starting to get involved because you could not just take a cut; Algenald could not be bothered to find out what his employees were doing and Mark took his eye off the ball and got ‘cocksure’. You all tried to milk everything so much the three of you have blown the entire operation unless we can change things!”
“The money was there, Roger. I took the ‘shit’ along with ‘the bull’ and I made money out of it but so did the rest and you. You and Algenald are the ones who over-extended themselves and got greedy, I didn’t!”
“Without Mark and Jimmy you could not find your backside with both hands with your conning and stealing and playing your temper games which means someone will be stood behind you all night if necessary and the table is wide enough for your feet to stay on your side so you don’t try kicking people again because I do not need your ego and self-importance destroying yet another meeting. Why you couldn’t just take a cut instead of destroying everything with playing the oil markets coinciding with the tankers getting hijacked I will never know?”
“I look forward to seeing your ‘lovely wife’, Roger!”
“I look forward to someone seeing your lovely children, Sasha; how many do you know of now from your Russia women?”
This led to a stony silence and Sasha found himself being accompanied to bedroom 3 and Roger headed back to the Bar Room … if that was the first he had to deal with he would not be sober when the last arrived. Roger had just finished his first re-enforcement drink when the bell went and he eventually opened the door to Jimmy Mackintosh, “Good Evening, Jimmy. Always a pleasure to see you although you don’t visit Antona and myself enough?”
“Always a pleasure, Roger but I prefer a quiet life and don’t visit a lot.”
“Well I am sure the evening will become interesting, Jimmy but please come inside and you will be shown to your room.”
Mentally he counted two down and now he needed another large Brandy before the next.
The doorbell resounded again, “Good evening, Algenald.”
“I need to discuss what you are up-to Roger? I have had enough of you slamming phones down on me and refusing to take calls.”
“When you have something intelligent to say, Algenald you will find me all ears but at the moment I don’t hear anything worth listening to from you and if you are going to continue this evening as you are starting it then turn around and save everyone from your characteristics. Either behave or go back out through that door … you don’t impress anyone here and I have enough trouble over your Department’s antics and their effect on the rest of my colleagues. Albert will show you to your room if you wish to stay?”
Now all he needed was Mark Stephens tanked up with some women he had picked up. Mark was ideal to deal with Pirates having spent his life out in Africa and Alfred Stephens kept good International relations which were as corrupt as Alfred was but when accurately described, you would call Mark an infantile, egotistical, stupid prick and it needed Alfred to control him and Alfred had been invited tonight but later for after Mark started if Mark actually bothered to turn up.
As he left the door, he heard the snarl of a car and opened the door to see Mark swerving across the drive in a sports car with three girls. Mark picked up women as cheaply as he could since he father restricted his money but when you match an expensive car to another quick temper as Mark did you ended up with the spoiled brat that Mark was. He opened the door with Mark wearing 3 women who with his usual aplomb said, “allow me to introduce my valets, please arrange their quarters my man; I made need them later!”
The door stayed barred by Roger, “This is an important meeting and you are drunk.”
“Just a couple, Roger ‘Old Chap’ but my chauffeur got me here and she will ensure I am in bed before ‘lights out’ so if you would be so kind, please ‘show my staff to their Apartments’.”
Before Roger blew completely, Antona appeared, “Good Evening Mark. I see you are still trying to introduce women into my house that I choose not to allow in. I don’t want any stray women you have picked up brought into my house after the last time so take them away!”
“There’s no need to be nasty, Antona; I was just trying it on … always a good wheeze to try on Roger!”
“You’ve taken up my time and Roger’s by turning up drunk with women you have picked up and I am sick and tired of Roger associating with you and I will ring your father and tell him so. I am sure that there are other people who are ‘Professional and Sober’ Roger can work with!”
“Ring my father, Antona! I don’t do everything he says!”
“You don’t tell your father that, Mark. That is why we have the situations we do because you cannot see higher than between a woman’s legs and you can’t even aspire to that! So leave your baggage outside the door and my staff will move the non-human elements to your room. I suggest you pay the rest of your luggage off now because if I see one of them in my house I will call the Police not your Father but I will call him now because we need you sober and he can do that which should stop you destroying other people’s time with your antics!”
Roger headed for the Bar Room meeting Cookie on-route who was bringing the Coffee Pot and Cups, “I hope it’s good and strong, Cookie. Mark has certainly put a lot down before getting here and so had that woman who was driving his car?”
“This will sober him up, sir. I have brewed it black, strong and sweet which is how he apparently likes it in Africa.”
“I don’t care about his habits in Africa just as long as your husband gets rid of those women?”
“Albert is pretty good at those kind of issues. He explained that if they didn’t want a taxi then his instructions were to call them a police car and point out who was driving Mark’s car. That quietened them down and they went like ‘church mice’ but rich ones I would guess and not Mark’s usual cheap mixture.”
Cookie made her way out of the room and Roger poured himself another ‘kidney destroying’ brandy while he waited for Sasha, Mark, Algenald and Jimmy to come down.
He didn’t have long to wait before Mark burst through the door demanding a large brandy, “I am not topping you up again, Mark. I need you sober tonight and I’ve told you that. We need to know, what went wrong? The last I heard we had lost nearly 6 boats apart from those shot up and unusable plus 12 dead and 8 wounded and you can’t even be bothered to be out there or to update us despite being paid to do so.”
“I am sure my father knows, Roger. He knows every big-wig in the area and the crews don’t report to me they report to locals who report to his contacts who report to him … I get updates on a by-the-way basis.”
“Mark you are supposed to be in Africa running this operation not permanently in London picking up gossip. You are supposed to be out there watching things as they occur. You come back here for some short break and you virtually have to be forced to go back out there again. If you don’t want to do it tell your father and we can get someone else and stop paying you but at the moment we need you in Africa and you haven’t been back there in months!”
The rest of the guests arrived closely followed by Albert, “Just in time, Albert; I’ll surrender the Bar to you and don’t serve Mark alcohol.”
“Gentleman,” said Albert, “I’ve pushed a list of cocktails together and we have the ingredients so the choice is yours, what can I tempt you with?”
“A Bloody Mary,” said Mark.
“Virgin Mary until you sober up, Mark! That and Coffee before you drink anymore.”
“Don’t tell me what I drink, Roger, I want a Bloody Mary and I want it now!”
“This is my house and my bar, Mark so don’t treat it like a pigsty; now you get coffee in your mouth or you get out.”
“You can call the Police as far as I am concerned but you won’t. Do you want me telling them what I know?”
“Who is going to believe you, Mark. You are the son of a friend who arrived here drunk with some female trash you picked up off the street and then tried to force them into my house and onto these people. It took my wife threatening to ring your Father to stop you. What are you going to say to the Police? I think, Mark that I need someone I can deal with and I have had enough of your tantrums and threats. I had allowed for this reaction from you and your Father should be here in about 10 minutes.”
Mark aimed a drunken blow at Roger but Albert moving around from behind the bar hit Mark before he could even get near Roger, sending Mark backwards onto the floor which tallied nicely with the door bell ringing and very quickly this door opened to admit Arthur Stephen who saw his son flat out on the floor.
“Don’t tell me he is disgracing himself, again. Why I haven’t cut you off without a penny defies any logic but my promise to your ‘Dear Mother’ who made you the spoiled brat you are. If you cannot behave like an Adult stay on floor like a child and wallow in it.”
He looked at the assembled people and said, “who hit him?”
“I did, sir,” answered Albert.
“Well done, Albert,” and reaching into his wallet he passed some money over, “I have been promising myself that for a long time and here is a token of my thanks.”
“Thank you, sir, you are most kind.”
“My pleasure Albert. I have no doubt a number of people will think the same of your actions now ‘get up Mark’ before I kick you up and mine will be a large brandy if you would be so kind, Albert.”
Roger who had been expecting more trouble suddenly saw everyone relaxing which should at least lead to an easier evening. Arthur Stephens stood there staring at his son who was ready to run, never mind walk out but fear of his Father made him stay, “How many boats and men have we lost, Mark?”
“We didn’t know they had moved their boat, father; that they had army weapons, electric power to drive the engines so we wouldn’t hear them, hydrofoils or a powerful engine, Father. We should have had this information from Algenald?”
“A bad workman blames his tools, Mark and you should have been there and not in some hut with a wench and the wench is infected as they wanted you to enjoy yourself for a long time as you scratch.”
“what have you set you up, father?”
“Nothing apart from your nervous knickers and you never ever stop. Had you been out there I would have direct information not half-baked from a dozen different directions and you don’t even know how many men or boats we lost because you rather be on top of a women and bottle than where you are being paid to be. I want you out of this house now and on your way to the ‘Ivory Coast’ and I don’t care if you run up and down the road flapping your arms to get there. I want you there; finding out what we have lost; everything about this boat and unless you come back with information I want; don’t come back. Now get out of my sight!”
Mark with his face bright red stormed out of the room and peace once again reared its ugly head.
“I don’t like to comment on family matters, Arthur—”
“—then don’t, Roger!”
“It must be about time for this dinner of yours and I need updates?”
Roger finally managed to kick his voice back into gear, “Arthur we need to talk here before we meet for dinner and that doesn’t include trying to dominate something that your son can’t even manage at its most basics. Some things I do not want my wife to know about are relationships in West Africa for instance and the dinner is geared for when we; are ready as a group, having finished this discussion, to actually join her. Albert, please recharge these Gentlemen’s glasses and I’ll start.”
“Well keep it brief, Roger I am ready for dinner even if it is not ready for me!”
“Jimmy, I accept you are under immense pressure from the US regarding certain transactions but I have to ask whether you feel shutting down our entire funds flow was the only solution to the interest the US is showing as Sasha then moved in to start ‘money trading’ when it was oikish?”
“I shut the funds flow down, Roger because they could not prove anything at that point. That inquiry has now stopped after some payments to US Senators and I understand that Sasha has managed to re-route the tankers east with the funds then re-routed via Chinese Companies to Africa … we’ve re-established cash flows although we need to be very careful as funding is moving and we have paid off a few Senators although they take any money that is going so we might get a couple of weeks to alternate fund flows providing they don’t know where the funds are or they will demand more but that is very little compared to before and paying them off means we have to route money through Russia and China to the US to pay them off. We should as we speak be seeing appropriate cash-flows available for our use via 3rd parties which will allow liabilities to be met according to deadlines.”
Alfred Stephens listened intently and then asked, “how do we handle this bunch in ‘Grand Bassam’ and who is funding them?”
“They are using a ‘custom built CIA’ boat. They are armed with Army Class weapons plus Advanced RPGs and they have now destroyed everything that has attempted to attack them without even breaking wind. All we know is that they are well organised, armed and deadly. They are now working directly for the US and CIA but I believe we have some results: 1. The Cash flows are resumed and the issue is resolved on the money, providing members of this team with funds. 2. We need to find, destroy this team and our attempts to use local resources have failed, but hopefully with Mark out there we can at least get second-hand information again and not twelfth-handed.”
“My question, Roger,” said Arthur, “is, how are the cash-flows being resumed when these guys are stopping the tankers from being hijacked. If the oil is not being taken where is the oil to re-route? How many tankers have we managed to re-route East?”
“One tanker will dock in China within one week and a second within one month. Sources have already made a down payment on the first shipment due to the issues we have discussed. The funds go directly offshore via West Africa to a safe haven who are anti-American … of which there are still a few with large legitimate cash flows of their own and South America is one area as it Cuba but there are others in the Middle East even among US allies and in Europe where EU Funds can hide the flows plus of course our old favourite – Russia. Now I think dinner is ready for us?”
Roger had decided on Pinot Noir as a good wine for chicken and beef but a simple start would be ‘tomatoes à la crème’ served with croutons, cream, butter and seasoning and some ‘grated Gruyere’.
As the first course quickly disappeared, the chicken, beef, shallots, mushrooms, cognac, runner beans, new potatoes, peas and cheese started to appear on the table and it seemed as if everyone had suddenly breathed out, yet again and when finally the chocolate pudding covered in the cognac lit up it seemed like the end of a sacrifice to the troubles.
Antona made her excuses leaving the men to their brandy, cigars and went to see Cookie making sure Cookie and Albert were not within hearing range and she could not be seen to be involved as she made a phone call.
I cut the engines while the fuel and supplies came on board.
Benny had found a spot just past the bridge on the Ancient side with clear views of the jungle so no-one could in theory easily get near us on land which sounded like the Japanese being unable to invade Singapore but anyone heading up the lagoon on the Nouveau side was easy meat unless they went up the other side of the land opposite us and just stood there launching rockets as we were a sitting target and I mean someone squatting in the jungle with your pants down because it scared the shit out of me.
Mr Hoo looked up at me and said, “They had a team here waiting for us. Sounds farfetched but they expected us to hit San Pedro then Monrovia and then when we didn’t that left Abidjan, Grand Bassam or Accra as our next destination so this is not some small team against us. They are financed, well supplied with information; know the area, the politics and have greased the right palms already. Hardly a good welcome from our colleagues who on the one side are betraying us and on the other attacking us by leaking what we are doing.”
“And how many of our people have leaked or have we made it so obvious for them, Mr Hoo they would have to be blind to miss us. Now we sit here as a sitting target waiting for them to attack again? How does it help us, Mr Hoo? We are visible anytime we try and use Abidjan. The whole idea was to stay hidden not stick out like a sore ass with it stuck in the air or that was my mulish belief.”
“Boy, with the tides into Grand Bassam being fortnightly Abidjan was the only alternative so they watched my guys? They had boats on some islands and followed us in or got organised well before we arrived. The data on us was probably leaked again and again until someone sat on the top is getting information from your or my people like a spider spreading it’s webs.”
“When will they hit us, again?” Irish, polishing a rifle asked.
“They will hit us, again and again until they get us with no defence unless we sleep an hour a day but as it stands we have taken out one gang. The Major now handles strategy as he is the best coward apart from Benny and he can’t think above a woman’s knicker level and we are already planning on moving past the Comoe to what should be safe. Boy doubles up on operations to me, rest is unchanged. Any other questions as the Major feels they will come tonight or tomorrow morning because they think we will be relaxed and be easy to wipe out. We’ll head away now in the opposite direction away from them and so they won’t know why so let’s move this Boat on electric. The Plan in the end was to move the ‘V’ to the pier so Irish, Scooter and Benny could provide covering fire from that side with the rest of us moving in from the opposite side until we are virtually on top of them. We hit them with the RPGs and hopefully some sitting targets for Irish and Scooter. Once we’ve disabled their boats we can head for the islet on the East side and then down into the lagoon alongside the coastal road until tomorrow when we moved up the Comoe river; assuming there is a tomorrow. The ‘V’ will have to take out any watchers once we have finished so silence is the word as we come out of the dark and kill them?”
Scooter who we’d thought was just a gopher had proved to be even more of a liar and was an accomplished ‘behind the lines guy’ who had forgotten more on knives than we knew and hidden it.
Mr Hoo cut in again and seemed to be enjoying it, “the ‘V’ will be Irish, Benny and Scooter … Irish with a silenced pistol, Benny on engines and Scooter on knives and automatics. I would stay on the Lady.”
We moved to get the ‘V’ down into the water and it wouldn’t move.
An inflatable can usually be slipped over the side and Irish and I now watched Benny take off after I offered to help.
This one now had a davit that didn’t move as if someone had taken a hammer to it. The ‘V’ was now very secure and would need daylight to sort it out screwing up everything we planned and the look on Benny’s face was all we needed with the Major not far behind on the thinking as the master plan went up in ‘Benny Smoke’.
“Benny,” said the Major, “the next time something doesn’t fit or you are too frightened you ask for help! Don’t hit it like a stuck valve to keep you out of harm’s way. We could all die because of your antics. You take the position by the prow … any bullets coming your way mean you catch them and count them.”
“Mr Hoo, given that Benny has wiped out any plans how much electricity do we have in the batteries for quiet running besides enough to power your freezers?”
“We can manage about two yards, Major the last of the electric power was used in the last attack.”
“Open the sails up, Mr Hoo we’ll have to confuse them because it would as sure as hell confuses me but if we move towards them on sails, hug the left hand side until it doesn’t matter then we might survive. Are we sure we know where they are?”
“My guess, Major is that they are hiding on the bend against the jungle on the left hand side so they are hidden and can go for us as we pass. They could have a fleet in there and we would never know!”
“As we approach it let the RPGs lose in that section of jungle and stay left before we move closer inshore as we pass the barrier. The jungle should then be lit up to our left and we can take out any boats we see and head straight ahead across to the inlet. That should liven things up with their boats in the light and the RPGs close up. We brighten the night up; take as many out as we can and once past those islands by the entrance we park up; set the radar and get some sleep in clear water.”
The sails were open now moving us slowly and quietly up the lagoon. The only sound was Irish berating Benny, “check your magazines are fitted properly,” before Irish squinted through the lens to check ahead. We were lying down in a foursome with Irish and myself relied on for the machine guns, Scooter back on the RPG with Benny on the Assault Rifle.
It took about 20 minutes sail and ahead we could see coming out of the islets and heading towards us, a bunch of boats, obviously confused by our heading towards them like some ‘high noon’ film but even that surprise went when Benny suddenly started shooting with no way of hitting the boats as he sprayed bullets. They picked up speed and started aiming directly for us, firing RPGs … luckily they had them set for 40m and we weren’t that close.
I hit the buttons taking the sails down and RPGs we had set with 200m fuses roared out exploding close to them and then our engines kicked in and so did Irish with his night shooting.
Benny with his spray seemed to do something to them as by luck he outranged their AKs. This gave Irish a chance to start putting in some accurate bullets as we launched another closer salvo of RPGs but Irish had taken out three of them by now and some fire managed a direct hit on a boat but with Benny still spraying bullets like confetti a boat exploded showering the other boats with fuel and suddenly they were all heading in the other direction and away from us.
Scooter picked up another light machine gun with a night scope and tripod focusing on a boat where someone seemed to be trying to balance and fire a rocket. The burst hit him then someone else and then the rocket exploded with suddenly another boat erupting in flames exploding as it’s rockets blew leaving 3 boats on fire and myself, Scooter and Irish peppering the fleeing boats with bullets.
That finished things as they took off up the river Comoe and when we reached the bend in the lagoon there was no one around at all.
We headed for the islet with the depth sounder on until we found we have 14 feet; enough for us to gently crawl through and anchor on the North side of the last isle sheltering us from the coast with a clear view of the entrance.
Mr Hoo, afterwards put the question to Benny fairly succinctly that we all felt when he said, “what the fucking hell are playing at, Benny? You put our lives in danger tonight and if one of us had died, I would have put my gun in the back of your head and pulled the trigger!”
“I am not a fighter, Mr Hoo. I came onto this operation to do engines and drive not lie on a boat firing a machine gun.”
The Major cut in at this point and said, “Boy was told he was a first aider and he got down with a gun!”
“The Boy might be a complete gutless twit but that doesn’t make me one!”
“What are your thoughts, Boy?” asked the Major.
“You put us at risk, Benny. You could have said about the ‘V’ and we could have planned for it but you hid it. We were in danger and shafted by you and lucky to get through tonight. Any one of those RPGs could have hit us if they hadn’t used the wrong default fuse timing … the reality is they can go 400m but without any accuracy; 200m is reasonable but theirs were set for 40m and that saved us. Had they set them for about 200m we would have burnt to hell as we are a bigger target and been finished us off swimming for it. How much of this is supposed to be a co-incidence with you endangering us not once, not twice but three times Benny and looking to leg it while we died?”
“It was all too pat, putting our lives at risk and you’ve played the same kind of games when you were abandoning lorries and claiming you couldn’t remember where you left them until they finally caught you and that is why you ended up on this team. I have no trouble in putting a gun to the back of your head after this and leaving you to float in the lagoon! I think Mr Hoo, we have an understanding that any time Benny puts us in this position again we put a bullet in the back of his skull without thinking twice since that seems to be how he wants to operate!”
“One point however,” interjected Mr Hoo, “Benny, I do know engines and I know these engines very well and if you do anything to them I won’t use a gun; I’ll drag you behind us in the Atlantic slowly with some cuts on you first to get the fish interested!”
“What now, Mr Hoo?”
“Once again we have fired a flare up their asses. They might attack us but we have blown their base and force them to move on. We can’t do anything else now until the ‘V’ is freed and they’ll have to come down that inlet to get to us. The radar is full on; alarms set and I, Boy and Irish will take the watch. One of us can sleep so the rest of you can get their shut-eye. If you hear the alarm then standard positions … the RPGs will be at bow together with the LMGs for Boy and Irish. You are on RPGs from now on Benny and if I see you point one anywhere else than in front you are dead with no questions asked so don’t even think about it. Now the rest of you not on duty ‘hit the sack’ for a good 12 hours.”
Irish and I carted the weapons up to the front and checked the ammo. We were well supplied even before Huron topped us up and whoever planned this made damn certain we had stacks of rockets. Our biggest problem was running out of Mr Hoo’s coffee and burgers especially on a 12 hour shift but the engine idling charging the batteries overnight would see to that even if it cost us a couple of gallon of fuel still no problems with the microwave though and we could move at speed and no doubt popping out to Carrefour and the Petrol Stations in passing.
One of things we did need to do was plan for Christmas if we lived that long.
Tomorrow was 20th December and nobody after the recent battles felt like preparing to celebrate anything apart from being alive I would guess but we needed to break the cycle.
We were sitting targets if we went back to the ferry or pier, so we sat in the middle of no-where but we might hit Abidjan for Christmas and lay up there.
We were hidden from the road although the engines ticking over would give us away if anyone had anything sophisticated but it would be short and sweet so no point in worrying about it.
Mr Hoo took the first break heading for the camp bed in the corner and I sat in the steering chair with his snoring cutting stone with a wood saw.
Irish in his usual spot by the guns was watching from the prow but they would come again tonight or tomorrow? Irish had taken out a few more in the boats so they were fairly depleted but every attack had gone wrong for them and they had lost a lot of people, boats as well and would want revenge.
Mr Hoo decided to add bath draining to his stone cutting repertoire, so I wound my weary way to listen to it by Irish. “What are your thoughts on Benny, Irish?”
“I’ve seen enough turncoats in my time so another one is no great story. He is a crook, plain and simple; if he tries it again, you, me or Scooter will take him out but I think Mr Hoo has put the fear of the devil into him so he should behave. Easier now to just let him stew.”
“You are probably right, Irish. When do you think they will come again?”
“I think Mr Hoo means to go hunting if they don’t hit us but they won’t know exactly where we are. I think they will wait until morning and then try and sneak a scout boat in to find us but I’m not sure and I’m really thinking about it. I was looking forward to a bit of sleep but we can’t change things from being sitting ducks and I think someone is telling them where we are so they can attack us and that is what seems to have been planned with us as the bait from the beginning!”
“I’ll be glad when this is all over, Irish. It has been a con from the start and about the only guys who haven’t stuffed the team are you and me as everyone else including Mr Hoo, has lied, conned and looked after No.1. About the only thing to come out of this is a chance for you to base yourself in the US.”
“Yes, I know that, Boy but how much is that worth. One chance photograph and I am a target again in a country I don’t know. More chance in Grand Bassam than the US for me. I can get lost here and they won’t find me.”
“Sounds like Mr Hoo could be starting to wake up, he usually switches to the sound of a hooter as he wakes … I’ll catch you later.”
I made my way back to the cabin in time for Mr Hoo to snort his way back into the world and I was sat down again by the time he was fully awake.
“Do you want the next break, Boy or Irish?”
“I’ll ask, Irish,” I said and walked down to the deck again.
“Do you want a break now, Irish or after me. I’m not bothered either way.”
“I’ll take a break now, Boy. If they are going hit they will do it in about 4 hours so you can sleep through it.”
“Thanks, Irish I’ll remember that in the morning when they come. Now which way do I point the gun?”
“Point it at Benny, Boy and don’t hesitate on the trigger.”
4 hours seemed to pass like 14 hours and I wasn’t sure whether the mist coming in was sand, mist or my eyes dropping on the deck.
Morning came in and we moved forward so we lay between the two isles and watched the pirates hared past our little gathering with about 10 boats and 40 guys. We had obviously been seen but moving screwed up their attack and we could have been at the far end as they went past us.
Now we headed out; up past Morin to just off Moossou where we could anchor and tuck ourselves away very nicely.
If they didn’t pass us then we knew fairly well where they were likely to be based and that would be the first attack for us instead of being on the receiving end!
We moored ourselves following the line of the road, sand and buildings. There was an enclave sticking out as this point with a spot half way down a path leading to the shore and the buildings nicely tucked out of sight behind some trees. Mr Hoo had us producing an extendible ladder with 3 foot wide base instead of steps with two other extensions slipped sideways into readymade grooves on the Lady to make a ramp. A piece of the dhow’s side flipped open with a snug fit to give access to land and Mr Hoo just kept smiling as we put it together and fitted it.
You got the general impression of pride from Mr Hoo as we put in plastic hoists that went into parallel sets of 4 holes with another piece of deck that flipped open and a chain that wrapped from the deck hole to one of the hoists and the engine powered it for lifting.
Mr Hoo had gadgets all over the boat and even the block and tackle suddenly found itself attached to another hole in the deck and could winch supplies onboard or into the ‘V’ and Mr Hoo’s ego had let that happen manually for weeks yet now he showed off the equipment already there – who was really sane on this operation and not on their own mental lifeline?
The next few days stayed calm although we didn’t relax as we waited for the next attack. The day before Christmas Eve finally arrived with nothing still stirring.
Benny and Major took the mid-day watch although the day watches had been cut from 6 hours to 3 so the rest of us were around for trouble in case but could take a nap if we wanted.
Scooter and I took the next watch and Mr Hoo and Irish the third. Tomorrow a visit from our US Abidjan friends had been arranged. The welcoming committee was I, Benny and Irish in the V to watch for any boats tracking our friends and back them off with maximum effort. Don’t muck about was the instruction. We had hurt them and I wanted them hurt some more. We have about 40 guys based behind us and they would aim to ambush the US boat if they could not get us. Unless they followed the boat down from Abidjan to find out where we were which seemed more logical but they would have to cross us to get to the camp. The idea was we would radio the Lady and the US boat if we saw anything and then this abort the US boat trip. We would then follow and put some few rockets into the trackers after we radioed. The US boat would be coming down the inlet around mid-day, so the ‘V’ should be all the way up to the start of the inlet and laid back behind the Islet by then.
Unless we were stupid these Pirates should miss our hiding place. The other plan was for the US to miss us completely and head for Grand Bassam where they could moor up and deliver the stuff, coming overland and hopefully fool everyone completely – Mr Hoo’s counter plans were completely fooling me. The Major and I deliberately kept our faces blank when this was discussed since Mr Hoo was already launching Plan B before he had finished discussing Plan A. He had gone into his ‘Gung-Ho plungeur’ mode again and was looking for something to attack because he could not sit there doing nothing but with our lack of reaction to it to his plans he did eventually also try to adopt a normal thinking mode of not deliberately looking for a fight he couldn’t handle.
We knew that if we did nothing else and the US boat went to Grand Bassam then it could mean anything even setting up a base in Grand Bassam in one of the abandoned buildings.
Grandstanding with the ‘V’ blowing boats out of the water who were near to his friends was not something that anyone was going to miss especially on top of the recent battles, if Mr Hoo had his way.
Mr Hoo still really dreamed of fighting even though he froze up when the battle started. At least the Major was a coward and safer to deal with. The action in the end would follow the Major’s plan of block anyone following behind and let the US boat get ahead. Let Mr Hoo dream of glory..
Scooter had surprised us all by his skill with a knife both handling and throwing … he was quiet deadly but was still very loyal to the Major … it was almost as if he did not know any better and he was still dangerous to us if he ever turned again us.
No radio calls so far as we finally made our way up. We still couldn’t hear any engines. No phone call; no engines from motor boats which tend to have a more racy note as we moved twisting towards the Ebrie Lagoon then we heard the steady beat of an engine coming through the mist towards us.
We pulled over to the side letting the jungle bush and groves hide us waiting to see the red stripe hanging from the stern and beating out a noise they could hear twenty miles away. It looked like a dirty red shirt as we moved out from the shore to find who was drying a bright red shirt on a clothes line. Effective but hardly intelligent as we radioed the call-sign of ‘Red Admiral’ … answer ‘Communist Dog Licker’ … which made a change from ‘Present Arms to a Butterfly’.
A broad New York voice hailed us, “Are you Hoo’s kids?” to which we replied ‘No, we had other fathers’ and moved alongside the boat. About a mile away from the Lady, Irish radioed the ‘Lady’ to check and Mr Hoo picked up the phone immediately. His immediate words were, “we have aborted Plan B, use Plan A,” which even for Mr Hoo was gibberish and Irish asked to speak to Benny as he hadn’t been able to find what Benny was looking for?
Mr Hoo’s reply worried us even more, as he said, “Benny’s in his bunk at the moment,” then the phone went dead.
We immediately looked at each other and Irish turned the phone strength down so only the US crew could pick us up, “We have a problem at base, Houston,” said Irish, “We are getting gibberish warning messages and statements we know are warnings. We think the ‘Lady’ has lost her virginity and is being violated. We need to stop and plan before we move further!”
The reply told us more than we expected or what was coming down to us, “There is a jetty back about a mile with a road running onto a jungle track connecting to a top road down to the huts behind the ‘Lady’. 5 hours to the turn-off but we need that sandy bank side-on to get the buggies over.”
“Hang-on, Mack,” said Irish, “the ‘V’ is supposed to take 20 people and the main deck is reinforced. The ‘V’ should be able to take a buggy plus me and the Boy. We can put it on the sand and come back for the next. There is a path virtually to the sand so if we get the buggies up there Boy can then take the ‘V’ although they’ll probably guess something is up. What arms have your guys got, Huron?”
“I have only two guys armed and capable. Mr Hoo told us there were no problems so no need to take precautions. We came light with just crew and 2 serious people from the Legate.”
“Mr Hoo is still living in a dream world. After 3 very serious attacks he’s telling us there’s ‘lots of Pirates’ … destroy them … while he tells you there is no problem … he might as well work for Government … same level of intelligence and honesty. What is he playing at. Does he think at all?”
“Mr Hoo was good, once. Too many people around him in the past, didn’t make it and he blames himself. He wasn’t supposed to be here but we had to use him.”
We eventually made the back end and could then unload onto the ‘V’ with their boat winching.
Getting the first buggy on was a dream as they were only 3 wheeled motorbikes and they didn’t carry the ballast of a car but by the time we got the second on we had wasted nearly an hour and we seemed to keep fighting the US guys as to who was directing and finally Irish radioed the ‘Lady’ to tell them the US boat engine had broken down and we were stopped, while they repaired it.
“How long will it take?” was Mr Hoo’s immediate question.
“They have no idea!” was Irish’s reply.
“You better come back then, and leave them to fix it,” said Mr Hoo.
“We can’t do that, Mr Hoo not with all these Pirates about,” said Irish.
“I need you guys back now,” said Mr Hoo.
“Well you will have to wait,” said Irish, and slammed the phone down.
“They must be getting panicky, Boy to be prepared to lose the ‘V’ boat so we don’t need any more ‘dick heads’ thinking with their groins,” was Huron’s comment; Benny will bring the ‘V’ down but watch him.
We climbed into the buggies; they kicked the engines alive and we were gone.
It would take about 5 hours to get where we needed and a slow down river trip should match with arrival times. Irish and I agreed to try and shout instructions to these two hoping for common sense but shove weapons up their noses otherwise. The plan was to get Irish and myself with the good weapons in a position so we can come in from behind the Lady. Benny will bring the boat in on the right of the Lady!
It was so obvious we would relax at Christmas so we should have guessed they would be told to attack. Someone intelligent was guiding them which is more than you could say for us as we were sent off into the blue.
We just had to hope we were not facing 40 guys who have already boarded the ‘Lady’.
They finally dropped us off about 100 m from the Lady and watched as we swung rocket launchers over our shoulders and picked up light machine guns. You had the distant feeling they were good in a crowd of unarmed people and useless in anything that matched them.
“I still keep thinking, Boy,” said Irish, “that as we come in from the back of the boat we’ll have silencers on these pistols and take out those in the cabin while the two Security can take out those on deck with our rifles leaving those below and I know Mr Who has stun grenades which should take care of them.”
“Irish, Mr Hoo thoughtfully provided a net of ballistic nylon and Kevlar hanging from the cabin door but we seem to be forever planning, changing the plans and I would like something that stays that way for five seconds but then life never behaves the way we want it and let’s get set up; stop changing the plans and bloody hit the boat from land leaving Benny coming in the ‘V’ and the US guys out of the way.”
For a killer, Irish seemed to have mellowed a little but he knew he was dead if anyone ever found him so in a way were Mr Hoo, Benny, Scooter, the Major and probably me … we were all shies on a coconut of life.
All of them just pushed someone or something important too far and this was their way out. It wasn’t my way out. There was no way out.
What would I do after this lot even if I survived? I could hardly get a job as a Gardener …?
What do you do in your last job, Mr …? Just call me Boy.
And was that before sailing, machine gunning people you didn’t know and attacking Pirates off West Africa – I’d be lucky if I ever got out of a mental home for the neighbours, never mind in for observation.
My inner thoughts were disturbed by a series of low roars and it was neither me or Irish backfiring. The US guys appeared having decided to roar up on the buggies.
We looked at their faces and we said, “just a little something we picked up quietly at the sales – by the perfume counter to be honest,” but thank you for being so quiet and we were off leaving them behind before the Pirates came to investigate these twits which took them away from us.
We didn’t need the RPGs; we knew that the Pirates had guessed we were on to them and firing them would have destroyed the Lady anyway and done the job for them.
Worst case was they had already killed the Major and Mr Hoo but Mr Hoo could defend himself against 3 people, perhaps …?
All younger than him and hand to foot/hand fighting … maybe squeezing those rice bags would mean more than a rice diet as they broke and was he already raiding his supplies for a Chinese takeaway and the bing meant the Microwave going off or they didn’t know that?
With any luck the Major and Scooter would be clear but Scooter lived knifes and anything with an edge would do for Scooter. The only thing the Major really had was his head, which was as thick as anything and was a good weapon.
We crept forward and Irish settled down with his toy changing scopes as he moved from telescope to infra-red but not laser, as the little red dot was a give-away.
Courtesy of Mr Hoo the below decks were well shielded and the one thing we wanted to see was our three guys and where they were.
Benny from the chug following his usual cock-up of roaring the engine so the Pirates knew he was there was slowly making his way on the left hand side of the Lady which should confuse them as it was confusing us but he was screwing up again and putting the ‘V’ between the Lady and where Huron was coming in so the boats would not be side by side and again too many cock-ups for a coincidence by Benny and he was looking for a stake out and it would be up his ass or a donkey if he had one.
Huron moved slowly down on their left side and we were in position with Irish and myself both sighted on the two guys on deck but we needed to get closer as good old Mr Hoo had made the glass bullet proof and Benny was out of it again.
With a deep sigh Irish passed his machine gun over to one Security guy and I did the same with mine. We would have to rely on the silenced automatics and the fact we have taken the ammunition out before we let them near weapons.
We move slowly down to the bow of the ship. The nice thing was the guns were waterproof. I hoped that Mr Hoo would take care of any jobs we might have missed on board and that didn’t include the one I was going to try on his head.
Benny as usual had messed everything and although he blocked us from boarding the US boat which already had netting down for us to climb up and leg over to the ‘Lady’, Benny had forced the gap wider so we could not get near the ‘Lady’ at all. Several of them now appeared with guns targeted on Huron and Benny and telling Benny to move the boat out of the way which made Benny panic into putting the boat fast forward and leaving the ‘V’ now hopelessly trapped on the sand between Huron’s boat and the ‘Lady’ and unable to go anywhere.
We raced back to the US guys and grabbed the machine guns back taking the ammunition out of our pockets and loading … we finally nodded and opened fire; taking two down. I cut in from left of Irish sweeping the boat deck while he machine gunned the right hand side.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw Mr Hoo and Scooter take out three of the pirates in the cabin with the Major throwing himself headfirst at a fourth which as an excellent use of his head.
With those below decks scrambling up to meet Huron taking shots at their heads from the forward hatch; I swiped the deck with machine gun fire but courtesy of Benny, Irish could now sprint down to the ‘V’ and once on that was climbing up the Huron’s boat netting to cover the deck with his machine gun.
A couple of stun grenades from Mr Hoo went down each hatch and all was quiet apart from Irish swearing at Benny who had screwed up everything but being a complete idiot had done something they never expected and given us a way out and in!
We could hear the sound of boats roaring away from the other side of the jungle as they left their erstwhile companions either dead or unconscious and so it looked like Christmas would not be a happy affair for some although they would have hangovers. The US guys climbed up the netting and onto their boat. The trikes would be hauled up later but the dead could float and the living we dumped in the lagoon as well, bloody and tornbut let them swim or sink. It sure is hell being peaceful these days.
“We are going to have to find somewhere else, Mr Hoo but we are running out of places?”