“Hey, you were surprised to see the map there still, right? You think he’s gonna leave it there forever? No, we advance his timeline with audacity.”
“You’re sure he’ll bite?”
“You’ve convinced me.”
“Me? I’m not sure of it myself; how did I convince you?”
“You have a writer’s ability to paint a picture with words. I’ve visualized Dubin through your eyes. If you challenge him in a tangible way, he’ll want to crush you personally. He won’t let some rent-a-goon plug you. He made the threat personal, didn’t he?”
I had to admit that it felt really personal. Boy, this capturing desperate criminals is fun. You should try it some time. Like, maybe the next time they ask me you can have my turn.
We headed downstairs, this time in the suit Rob had bought for me, and something more sensible for my willowy blonde. Still gorgeous and slightly dramatic, but certainly a better match for my wool tweed than her leather miniskirt.
Rob and Mossie discreetly fell in behind us without speaking. We separated outside the Victoria; Siobhan and I went left, they went right. I noticed that half a dozen well-dressed weightlifters had followed us out; three followed Rob and Mossie, three followed us.
“That, and the little eighteen-stone chap in the middle is the best wire-setter there is. He can put a microphone on you so even I couldn’t find it, and believe me, I know where to look.”
I wanted her to search me then and there, but good manners and our company prevented me from suggesting it.
“What about other electronics?”
“Can’t be helped; if we can listen, it has to be sending RF, radio frequencies. We can shield it to some extent, but if Dubin carries some kind of interference or RF checking device, we’ll have trouble.”
“Why can’t I just wear a recorder, instead of using radio? Does it have to be real-time?”
She was quiet. A lot. You’d think ‘quiet’ was quiet, but there’s quiet, and then there’s quiet.
“Company policy. We can’t always depend on being able to retrieve the recording from the, from the, um —”
“Body? Corpse? Victim?” I hadn’t thought of this particular take on the whole affair.
“Wire. We usually just call the person wearing the wire, ‘the wire.’ Depersonalizes it a bit.”
“Depersonalizes it? Don’t you want me to be a person?”
“Listen! I want you to be just as personal as you can. But if I’m thinking about Doctor Web Martin, thinking about you, while you’re in there, I can’t do my job. And I have to do my job, first. Before us, before anything. This has to happen, ’cause this is why I can sleep at night.”
I was going to have a long hard row to hoe, getting inside her head professionally. Excellent. I wanted it to take the rest of my life.
I also wanted the rest of my life to be long. Say, 40, maybe 50 years?
We arrived at the back of Tigh Coili, and went up a set of stairs. No lights were on, but I could see from the street lights we were trespassing in the offices of Adrian MacLynn, Solicitor. Twice. (It was on both windows. I was a little giddy, I guess.)
There was a side room, a file or storage room, with no windows. The little 250-pound muscleman took me in, closed the door, and turned on lights.
It was outfitted like a cross between a star’s dressing room and Radio Shack. Lighted mirror, makeup, all that; plus drawers of bits of this and that, wires sticking out and paper labels on the drawers, and sometimes the items themselves.
My astonishment must have shown on my face. “Adrian’s leg keeps him from joining our little subterfuges, but it doesn’t prevent him from renting me this little space, nor from keeping out of it, no questions asked.” I gave up trying to stay on top of all the levels to this thing, and chose instead that since I was in for my penny, might as well be in for my pound.
Max (“Maximilian, although if you call me that I will most certainly become agitated and perhaps accidentally wire you to glow in the dark next time.”) worked behind my back most of the time. He never even had me take my coat off; I suspected, later, that he operated on a ‘need to know’ basis, and also that, the less I knew, the less I could give away. Later, reflecting back on the events of the evening, not knowing what I was carrying allowed me to forget it and let my natural arrogance carry me along.
We must have been in the closet an hour before Max switched the light off. Even in the blackness, no light leaked under the door. They’d light-proofed the room like nobody’s business.
We stepped out. I could see shapes in the darkness, but there wasn’t enough light from Tigh Coili’s awning lamps to make out who was who. One of the lumps spoke with Siobhan’s voice.
“Dubin’s guy is still at the church. We need to move now, before anyone tosses a spanner in the works.”
She opened the door we’d come in, Max gently nudged from behind, and I followed down the stairs.