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Stories from the Verse
Chapter 98: Brown 140
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Derek again checked his dart apron. It wasn’t exactly that something was bothering him; it was less specific than that. He supposed that if the Romanians were benefiting from this leak, they would want to prevent him from sealing it. He really didn’t see how they might know about it, but better to assume that they might than be caught unprepared. Darts he could carry. Everyone knew that Englishmen played with darts.
He was still nervous as he took a seat at a small back table across from Williams, but he noticed that Williams was also nervous.
“What would you like?” the security agent said.
“Oh, I don’t know--do they have Coke?”
“It’s Romania; they have Pepsi.”
“That will be fine. And something like a donut or sweet muffin.”
Williams signaled a girl, and ordered in Romanian.
“Your Romanian is very good,” Derek observed. “Mine isn’t. I can do ‘kit kosta’ and ‘mult simesk’ and ‘coopla sheri’, or however you say them, and that’s about it.”
“Well, when you’re in a country for years, you either pick up the language or you have trouble communicating, and my job has me here a long time. Ambassadors come and go, but other than a few top people the staff is mostly here for the long term. You start to think of it as home, and learning the language comes with the territory.”
Their order arrived. “Mult simesk,” Derek said, and the waitress smiled and answered, “Coopla sheri.”
“So,” Williams ventured, “What do you know?”
“Well, its difficult to separate what I know of a certainty from what I have deduced, so I’ll just give it all to you. There’s a security leak. London knows that someone is passing secret information to the Romanians. I’ve worked out how it’s done. Several times a week Samantha slips away to visit her Romanian boyfriend who is not really her boyfriend but is using her to get information. The information is hidden in the Cadbury Crunchies she takes him, probably a microdot on the wrapper somewhere.”
Williams nodded. “Who else knows?”
Derek shook his head. “I thought you and I should try to work it out. I like Sammie, and want to keep her out of trouble in this. I figure you also don’t want anyone to know how this has been happening, so if we can find a way to fix it I think everyone will be happy.”
Williams seemed to be thinking. Derek wondered what he was thinking--and then remembered that he could read minds. He was pretty good at it once, and thought it probably the kind of thing you remembered how to do, if it worked in this world. He focused on trying to tune in the man’s thoughts.
But not here. They know me here, and the Romanian police would find me quickly. It has to be away from the embassy, though; I don’t want our people investigating it directly. Of course we would be involved, but I could reluctantly volunteer for the detail of liaising with the local police on the apparent murder of a minor British embassy staffer. So I’m going to have to do it, and quietly, on the way back to the embassy.
Derek tried not to let his face show surprise. What had he missed?
Of course. Williams wasn’t careless. He was the one who provided the candy bars. Sammie wasn’t the leak; she was the mule. She’d been set up by her own security detail.
Now he had two problems. The first--no, that was the second. The second problem was who he should tell, and how he could prove it now that Williams would be trying to cover his tracks. The first problem was how to get out of this alive.
“Well,” he said, reminding himself that he’d probably been in tougher spots and certainly had faced more dangerous enemies, “I suppose this is a lot to take in. We’ll think about options and meet again--are you good for same tomorrow?”
Obviously Williams didn’t have to consider whether he could get here for a meeting tomorrow. He expected Derek to be dead before that. He agreed readily.
“Then I’d better be getting back before they decide I’ve been gone too long. What do I owe you?”
“Don’t think of it, old chap. You can pay tomorrow.”
Derek smiled, waved, and left the building.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with twenty other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #257: Verser Relationships. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: