He glanced at his watch and set the empty half pint glass of dark beer back on the bar and carefully left money in American dollars, with a nice tip, under the glass. As if the bar keep had radar, he came directly back and said, "Thank you sir." Brandt nodded and left the airport pub.
He would arrive in Paris just before five in the afternoon. That would set well with him. The early morning flight from Virginia had left way too early, for his liking, and taken too many weary hours. With the two hour lay over at Heathrow, Brandt was getting tired after little sleep the night before. He'd only gotten the assignment last evening, at six and the briefing had been short. He would need to adjust as best he could, to the time differences, and get some sleep before contact, tomorrow.
Apparently, the French had learned about his ability and requested him for a one time trial. He had never worked for another government before so Brandt looked at this as an adventure to be enjoyed rather than a burden. The challenge was always fun.
is skill in espionage and mathematics, however hush, hush he and his bosses tried to keep his secret a secret, hadn't exactly worked out. As a unique and effective operative, word had gotten around, in some circles, or, he'd never have had to come here. The company wouldn't have allowed it, either, if they hadn't been pressured to hand him over for a couple of weeks by the V.P..
Brandt walked the long hall of the airport, listening to the click of his heels and those around him. Some were rushing, mostly women, and others were like him, relaxed. He strolled to the boarding area and casually took a seat in the section next to where his flight would check in. From there he could watch the other passengers and determine if a threat was mulling about. Old habits from training never ceased working.
He sat apart from others, needing to see faces and body movements. Brandt noticed a few smugglers, small time stuff, perhaps, illegal alcohol or a couple of sticks of marijuana, but nothing threatening, no killers. People were so easy to read, he almost chuckled.
Maybe that's why I was chosen for this one, he thought, with so many other's involved. He was the suigeneris for this piece.
He adjusted his round, frameless, glasses, left over Beatles lenses, to most, though he barely knew who they were, not even thirty, yet. He just liked the glasses and the way they made him look.
Brandt paged through the newspaper he'd found on the seat next to him, watching others at the same time. The news, as usual, bored him. They were always fabricating and enhancing subjects that were of little interest to most people but tried making them into more of a story than they were. It was no wonder that everyone seemed to be trending towards free electronic news, these days. He dropped the paper off to either side of him, in two piles. That would usually deter most from sitting directly next to him, unless it got real crowded, which it wasn't at the moment. He didn't want to chat with anyone. His mind was on other things.
He reached into his right inside suit pocket and retrieved an expensive pen of violet tinted silver and a leather, flip open, note pad. With what Brandt knew of the facts, he began making preliminary calculations.
fter a few minutes of working figures and formulas of his own, he understood the two top men were like most top men, unnecessisary and expendable. But it wouldn't be him that took care of them. There was no need for there was as yet, an unknown entity that was the king pin to the organization. The one person who was unknowingly the backbone of it, due to personality and/or position, that obscurely kept things running smoothly. Take he or she out of the picture and the whole unit, the entire structure, would simply fall apart into disarray if not chaos.
It was true enough that a new ring of men could spring up within the year to try and duplicate the void, but the French government would have several months to discover them before the tourist kidnappings began again, and the criminals would, again, be disrupted. He would give the French all they needed to prevent and recognize another rise of the same kind of crime organization, if they wanted it and put the information to use. In fact, Brandt had already rough drafted the letter. The criminals would be easy enough to dispose of, after that, if the government didn't drag their feet.
Brandt heard the call for his plane and waited till they were almost closing the door to the ramp. No. He saw no threat.
He stood abruptly and walked to the check in. The door was closed by now, but barely.
The two attendants at the counter saw a short man of delicate features approaching, somewhat hurriedly, and both sighed almost simultaneously. There was always someone that was late.
he female attendant thought him beautiful, almost as beautiful as a woman and certainly as handsome as any man she'd ever known, but he was a runt, probably not even of average height and not even as tall as she. The man saw him as a prissy little thing. Not a hair was out of place and the navy blue Armani suit he wore didn't have a speck of lint or a wrinkle to it. His looks were impeccable and unlike everyone, he carried no luggage, no carry on of any kind.
Brandt presented his ticket and the papers that announced he was carrying a weapon, but which allowed him to have it, under each country he was passing through. It was a small caliber, the man behind the counter noted, a woman's gun in his mind, but registered with everyone, it seemed. The two attendants were familiar with such people and papers, but had rarely seen them or such documents. They processed him through with hardly a word.
American. Wouldn't you know it? Neither thought too highly of him, now, knowing he was carrying a gun.
"Enjoy your flight," said the female, statically.
"Thank you," said the small man, and walked to the now opened door, the male attendant standing near not unlike a guard, trying to inflate his importance. Brandt nodded and went through the door quickly.
The two of them watched him disappear into the curve of the isle, his steps purposeful, his carriage confident.
"I wonder who he is and what he's doing?" Asked the female.
The man stared, somewhat viciously.
"I could care less," he said, sudden jealousy erupting where none was called for, and slammed the door shut. He hated neat, important people. There was always something tricky about them. And it was always the little buggers, like him, he thought to himself, that came out on top, wasn't it?
fter a week and a half of tailing twenty-seven men, up to three hours each, and reading their profiles the French police had compiled on them, Brandt was almost fully exhausted and had concluded his evaluations. Back at the station, he told the policeman in charge, "I'll need about five hours of uninterrupted silence, someplace." They left him in an interrogation room with a pad of paper and without all the files they had accumulated on the ring of gangsters. He didn't want their files. He was using his own notes.
The ring forcibly took young female tourists of any nationality and thrust them into prostitution: Turning them into low end, drug controlled whores that attracted the low end Paris clientele, who fed the illegal trade, and were the true responsible parties that brought about the tragic ends to these young girls. Most of them died from disease or drugs and didn't last more than a couple of years, at best. If it were up to him, Brandt would eliminate the cause, rather than the suppliers, but knew that would entail a lot more bodies, and governments didn't like lots of bodies to dispose of.
After an exhaustive mathematical calculation session, weighing this against that, in numerical terms, mostly of his own design, Brandt had reached his conclusions. He wrote two names and their particulars down on the end corners of one sheet of the writing pad, tore them off and separated the two names. He then tore off all the calculations of figures and six blank pages down from the last sheet he'd written on. He got the brown metal waste basket from the corner and stood over it with a lighter, burning each page individually and dropping it in the basket. The act must have attracted attention. They probably had someone watching him through the glass. He was on the last two pieces of paper when the policeman in charge walked in on him with his subordinate, looking stern.
"I apologize, sir," Brandt said, "if this is against regulation. I'm afraid, though, that it is necessary." He hesitated before asking. "May I speak with you privately, sir?"
The man in charge nodded to his sub and they were alone for a moment. "Not in here. Someone is probably listening. We need complete privacy."
"We could go for a walk?"
"We could, but even that isn't secure. Too many electronic listening devices, now days. Would you accompany me to the government house?"
itting in two elaborate chairs, straight out of some palace or an ancient movie set, it seemed to Brandt, they sat quietly off the front of a huge desk in the government house. Brandt sat silently and still, gazing at his hands, while the policeman in charge smoked nervously.
They both stood when the government man came in and after some niceties, they all sat down together. Brandt was asked what he'd discovered. It was then he handed the government man the two names. After a few moments of raised eyebrows and glancing at the two of them, the government man handed one of the slips of paper to the policeman in charge. You could hear an ingestion of air being sucked in through clenched teeth.
"This is my subordinate," he protested, looking at Brandt in disbelief. "I trust him with my life."
Brandt twisted his torso, slightly, and looked the policeman in charge, directly in the eye.
"He isn't the one to be terminated, sir. But he is dirty and will collect his money and try to run. I'd put your best watch dogs on him and wait for him to leave. It will happen very quickly."
"He's married, for the love of . . ." His face was red with blood. "I went to this mans wedding. I'm god father to his children."
"That makes it more painful, but no less true or the likelihood of his running. He is the one who has allowed this evil to exist in your city and is indirectly responsible for the deaths of many young girls. I'm sorry, sir, but you must keep that in mind. I'm guessing he has close to a million dollars, in U.S. amounts, he'll try taking with him in his fear of being found out. That's a bigger stimulus to him, right now, than his family, as unbelievable as it may seem. He'll panic, as soon as the gang starts breaking up and killing each other. The man that is going to die, well, it will happen today. I'd leave now and set up your surveillance. He isn't stupid, so he'll be watching you. You better take care of all your preparations before you get back to the station. I'm sure he has listening devices installed in every part of your life. I'm sure this gentleman, here," Brandt nodded to the government man, "can help you with a sweep of your offices, car, and home, after the fact. But apprehending him is the main thing you should be concerned with at this time. Again, I am very sorry this had to come about."
The government man stood, saying his name. It was a signal for the policeman in charge to leave, and he left in shock and anger and probably a little disbelieving. They sat again when the door closed.
Brandt stared at the government man, waiting.
hen, exactly, will you do it?" asked the government man.
"As soon as I get my piece of paper from you that authorizes me to kill him, sir." The man sighed and pushed himself back from the dark desk and opened the drawer in front of his stomach. He withdrew an envelope and tossed it to the edge of the desk, then closed the drawer again, one side of his face scrunched up.
Brandt understood the government man hated the whole dirty affair, but that wasn't Brandt's concern at the moment.
He took the envelope off the desk and retrieved the paper inside, reviewing it. It was a single sheet of typed paper from the President of France, with his signature, briefly authorizing him to kill a French National. Brandt refolded the paper, tucked it back into its envelope, and slid it into his inside suit pocket. He stood and went to the door without formality, saying, "Thank you, sir."
"What time will you do it -- today, I mean?" asked the government man, half interested, now.
With his hand on the brass door lever, David Brandt glanced at him with indifferent eyes and said, "Do what?"
fter a change into common clothing, to blend in, as he had most of the week and a half that he'd been in Paris, Brandt went to the street side café he knew the man went to each day, in late afternoon, and waited. He ordered a sweet pastry and an espresso. He nibbled at the pastry and drank all the espresso, then ordered another. Finally, the target showed, but this time with a companion. A girl for crying out loud. She couldn't be over sixteen or seventeen. From the way she was dressed, in dirty smelly clothes, the wind blowing directly towards him, Brandt figured it was one of the whores the target must have grown a liking to.
The girl had that vacuous look of a drug addict with empty eyes and a mouth that had no joy in it. Her face was filthy and bruised while her lips look unevenly swollen from slappings. She wore no make up and her hair looked as if it were purposely messed up, blowing every which way in the warm breeze coming from the south. No matter. It would not hinder the execution. The man looked around at the other outside tables, not giving him a second glance, waiting to be served. Brandt chose the line he would walk past the chairs and up to the target and did so. When he was one step away, he slipped out his semi auto from his pocket and placed the silencer a centimeter away from the man's hair and squeezed the trigger. The muffled blast did it's work instantly and Brandt walked unhurriedly to the corner of the block to his prearranged, waiting taxi, just around the corner. He never looked back.
Settled into the black cab, he had finished giving the misleading address to the driver, in case anyone followed, when the door opposite Brandt flew open and the little whore jumped in. The driver turned and looked at her and then Brandt, who stared at the girl momentarily and motioned him to leave.
Brandt looked away, watching the scenery pass by. A hand took his left one and then her other joined it. They were both trembling. He patted her hands with his right one and said nothing, looking straight ahead. This was a variation he hadn't considered.
wo weeks later, on the way to London, taking the tube, Brandt read the French papers and was satisfied with the results of his work. A war had broken out in the sex trade, in Paris. The police had made numerous arrests and found huge numbers of dead male bodies. Young women were being processed and returned to their families as there was no one to prevent their escaping the deplorable houses or shipping containers they had been forced to practice their sex trade in. In short; all hell had broken loose. The organization had been smashed, but only temporarily, Brandt knew.
At the train station, Angela begged David Brandt, who she falsely knew as Richard Kline, to escort her home, but he refused. He gave her two fifty dollar bills, in American money, and put her in a taxi. She had gone through hell the last couple of weeks, detoxifying, but was cleaned up, now, and presentable, dressed in a lovely dark blouse, white pleated skirt, and white wool sweater, with black high heeled shoes. Her hair had been trimmed and permmed and make-up applied in sparing amounts to accent her models features. She was English and eighteen, he'd learned, and from an almost royal family as wealthy as they were.
She watched him from the rear window of the taxi as it disappeared into the London maze. He waited till she had disappeared.
Brandt removed his glasses and cleaned them with his white handkerchief. He put them back on and meticulously refolded his handkerchief again, then, got into another taxi.
"Heathrow Airport, please," he said.
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