The Man with the Handbag

Kurt first saw Rodriguez in the semi-shade of the lobby. He was standing, next to a high table decked out with a vase of orchids, resplendent in his loosely fitting dark suit. Beneath the suit he wore a plain open necked shirt that set off his Mediterranean tan. His distant air occasionally broke as he looked expectantly at another arrival, coming through the glass revolving doors, only to resume his muse.

Eventually, he straightened when, from the dazzling sunshine, a large shabbily dressed man arrived, carrying a large handbag. The fat man brushed past him as though he wasn’t there and made his way to the cool of the electrically fanned bar, where he ordered a beer. The dark suit followed him and sat two stools away, showing no sign of recognition.

“What you want?” said the barman.

“Whisky, rocks.”

Kurt watched as the Rodriguez laid a newspaper flat on the stool between himself and the handbag while looking at the mirror, behind the bar. He continued to observe from the wicker chair behind the aspidistra and saw the fat man slide a package from inside his bag to underneath the paper.

Rodriguez finished his drink, left five dollars on the bar and carefully picked up the newspaper, concealing the merchandise. Kurt nodded to Juan, who was carefully concealed by the door. Juan quickly walked out of the bar ahead of Rodriguez.

Kurt approached the bar and sat next to the still sweating fat man. He looked at him in the mirror. He then turned and spoke.

“Not so bad was it?” said Kurt.

The fat man started to shake. Kurt took the handbag.

“Come with us now. Your part is done.”

 

A car was waiting outside. Kurt helped the fat man in and thrust the handbag at his chest. He looked up at Kurt in a combination of apology and self pity.

“I’ll be straight with you,” Kurt said. “Drug dealing is not a healthy pursuit, especially round here. You’re lucky that I’m more interested in your Spanish friend. When you get to the airport, make sure you get on the plane. If we see you back here you’ll not live long and I promise you that those last moments will be very painful.”

The fat man winced as Kurt stubbed his cigarette on his chubby hand. Kurt slammed the door on him as Juan drove off. Kurt stood and warmed in the sun, until he saw the car take the right fork to the airport, then went back inside.

Back at his table the waiter brought another large beer as Kurt dialed the mobile number.

“Digame,” came the answer.

“Oiga, se tiene?”

“Si pero hablo ingles.”

“Okay, you know what to do next?”

“Déjà vu?”

“Yes, but let’s stick to English, your French is as bad as my Spanish.”

 

Kurt saw Rodriguez for the second time that day, as he stumbled into the hallway from the glass revolving door. He was sweating profusely and dressed in grubby whites. He brushed past the cool well dressed man standing in the shade of the orchids. He went straight to the bar and ordered a beer.

The man followed him and sat on the barstool two away from him. Kurt’s aspidistra was still playing its part and Juan was back in position by the door.

The stranger looked at Rodriguez then back at the barman.

“What you want?” said the barman.

“Vodka, Absolut.”

“Absolutely,” said the barman smiling.

He took his vodka in a single shot and laid his newspaper on the seat between them. Rodriguez responded by placing a package under it.

The stranger rose, gathered the newspaper with the package, paid his bill and made for the door. Juan followed him and once he saw him enter his car, he ran back towards Kurt nodding. As Rodriguez joined him, Kurt pressed the button on the transmitter in his briefcase. The explosion from the street momentarily rocked the building.

 

The inter-island flight departed with three passengers but arrived with two. The fat man had been helped from the plane in mid flight.  His last minutes were not painful, but they were petrifying as he flew freefall into the blue water below.

 

As Juan, with Rodriguez beside him, negotiated the back street away from the hotel, the sound of police cars cut through the heavy night air.

“Okay?” said Juan.

“Okay, but probably a bit too strong. You’ve to learn though my friend. Vamanos.”

Kurt, in the back of the open topped car, lit his first cigar of the day.

Juan accelerated the car up a hillside road.

 

Guards waived them through large gates to a white mansion dominating the ridge above. Juan pulled the car to a stop in front of stairs and Kurt got out.

“That was a good start for you. Prepare our equipment for tomorrow,” said Kurt as he closed the door.

“Si senor,” said Juan smiling. He and Rodriguez drove off towards the adjacent outbuildings.

Kurt ascended the steep stairs and entered the door at the top, which took him into a large lounge with an impressive view of the island coastline. There taking in the panorama was a lone white suited figure sat in a luxurious brown leather recliner. Kurt went right up to him. The figure hardly moved as he studied the shoreline with binoculars.

“I heard an explosion,” said the figure lowering the glasses.

“Yes sir. All is done,” said Kurt stiffly.

“Then that was the Russian. You need to be less dramatic in your disposal. We don’t really need the attention.”

“It’s not often and I wanted to teach Juan how.” Kurt winced.

“Yes, a good beginning. And the man with the handbag?”

“Sleeping with the fishes.”

“Good, good.” The figure nodded.

 

Kurt retired from the lounge, descended the stairs and walked to the outbuildings.

The lone figure resumed his observations and watched as a pelican swooped from the rocks into the sea below. He lifted his head to the horizon.

“Number One,” he said to the sinking moon.

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Author: Lindsay B Craik

TBD

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