Chapter 6 (part 2)
I headed towards the A19 and the journey home. It didn’t seem right to be in the vicinity any longer than necessary. Having breakfast in the middle of the night had left me hungry. I know a Little Chef down the motorway, so I headed for there. I ordered Full English – it came without black pudding! I don’t know how that works! It was half an hour coming as well so I had time to think. I had no conscience about the shooting. I had demonstrated good skill against a Mafioso who was likely to mess up the lives of a lot of innocent people, and for all I know, had done so already in other parts of the world. No, I was considering what I was doing with my life and what will happen next. I’ve asked myself that question before! A bored teenager who went through her ritual designed to make the customer feel good and therefore generate a tip served my breakfast. The food was of a guaranteed standard. Not bad although the elderly tomato was inedible and the sausage was tasteless. I went to the washroom got cleaned up and left. No tip.
When I got home I took the bag into the kitchen and took out the rifle. I cleaned, greased and wrapped every part. I put it away in its box and put that in the loft. I needed more space! I turned on the laptop to check emails and also my accounts. All was normal but I would need to start transferring money to my ordinary account from the Swiss account just to pay the bills. The balance was in excess of £250,000. I transferred enough to cover the next few months, both bills and some pocket money. I sat back and relaxed and must have fallen asleep. I was woken by my mobile alert. Just a ‘Good work’
I made tea and went to meet my buddies at the pub. After all it’s what I do on Friday nights. I had a very pleasant evening but for one minor incident. I went to the toilet before my walk home. A drunken man stood next to me and started mouthing off in general terms about my height and stature. He was about 6’ 2’’around four inches taller than me, and aged around 25 and had obviously had too much lager. I don’t know whether it was the final outpouring of the tension of the day, it certainly wasn’t the non-aggressive aikido training; but I zipped up walked behind him and stamped him hard on the side of the leg just above the knee. He collapsed in a heap still with his tackle dribbling and totally immobilised. I left and said goodnight to the couple of lads who were left. I pondered my actions all the way home. It was unforgivable what I had done. I could take him apart very easily and had nothing to prove, I had also drawn attention to myself. In my defence I had left before my victim exited the toilet and hadn’t said anything to the last of our crew in the pub. There was no excuse for my lack of self-control and aggression. Back to see Vince on Monday and some more guidance in the art of Ki Aikido.
The weekend passed as usual. Geoff asked if I’d seen chummy in the loo last night as he had come out crippled and said someone had used karate on him. I laughed. That couldn’t have been me I explained to them. I hadn’t seen anyone and didn’t know karate (true). It never cropped up again.
When I woke on Monday it felt strange. The first time, apart from holidays, that I had got up on Monday and not had to get ready for work. I had to think myself into a different sort of regime. My life had to be lived in a way that would ensure continued fitness and development of my abilities. I started by doing a few stretches and then setting off on a run. That was something safe and familiar. I would work out a plan for my future when I get back. I also need to check my finances again. I am going to start looking for a ‘warehouse’ where I can develop my own facilities without others being aware and that will also provide storage and exercise space. There were a couple of estate agents in town and the Internet of course. I need somewhere close to be able to hide it in plain sight! My requirements include large enough doors to provide access for a vehicle; office/accommodation; and, exercise space for aikido and weight training. Part of the accommodation would need a weapons safe. Where I keep them currently is wholly illegal. I have a permit for the rifle and the Glock 17 and plans for a safe that will need to be inspected soon! The regulations are very strict and understandably so in the current climate of terrorist activities. Having it close by would mean that I would be home quickly if I needed to be. No one else would know I owned the property or how it was acquired.
I wondered how long it would be before Sumisu got back to me. My account was even healthier when I checked after a couple of days. It surely wouldn’t be long before I got my orders. The question is what would they be? I feel a trip to Italy, maybe Sicily, would be on the cards. Some ‘sorting out’ and maybe a bit of a holiday! I have never been to Rome on my previous jaunts, or sampled the artistic and historical delights of Florence or Venice. It is a wonderful thought and an achievable dream with all the money in my account and I am sure there will be more to be earned.
The next few days were spent researching the availability of suitable properties, keeping fit, developing my skills at Aikido and meeting with friends. I think one or two who know me well are a bit suspicious of what is going on. I don’t know how long the excuse of handling high value individual accounts would last. Although there was no reason for it to be otherwise! It allowed me to dress well and keep strange patterns of attendance at the pub. I could always say when I was out of the country. I was feeling very good from a physical point of view and mentally stimulated as I am always on the edge of anticipation.
The Aikido was getting into my blood. I felt calmer and less stressed. The slower rhythmic repetitions were building stamina. Life is good!! I found a couple of possible properties but stepped back and weighed up the pros and cons. In the past I would have leapt in and bought something by now. I was still operating quickly but now, it seemed to me, more effectively. The closest one was the least ideal but proximity was probably the most important factor. It was also the cheapest and available. A bit of a no brainer! I needed a solicitor so I used a local firm. It would take 6 – 12 weeks so I was on hold. Ok Sumisu san where are my instructions?
It took another couple of days, round about 10 days in total, since I shot Torino. I felt that the trail would be cold and I would have to start over if things didn’t begin to move. I had just got out of the shower and had dressed when the buzzer went for the door. The electronic distortion could not disguise that I was hearing Sumisu at my door. I pressed the buzzer and let him in. I walked into the kitchen and turned on the kettle. I would be as hospitable as I could be in my modest home. The door was open but he didn’t come in. I went back to the door and he was standing there with a placid smile on his face. He bowed as did I and then I invited him quite formally.
I was totally shocked.
“Good morning Steele san.”
“Hi. Mr Sumisu, “I stammered. I’d lost all power of cohesive thought. “Sorry Sumisu san!”
“I can see that I have affected you. You are still a novice at Aikido or even my sudden appearance like this would not have visibly affected you so. More work is needed!”
I had been thoroughly chastised in a most benign manner. There was no doubt about the fact that he had made his point and knew I would respond in the correct way. I also knew that I would be tested again! He looked me in the eyes and just said one word, which was both a command and a request.
I knew what he wanted as if he had completed the instructions by thought transference. I had many questions and he knew it and I didn’t know where to start. Yet I knew that there might not be another opportunity. The best way to start was to plunge in and once started the conversation would flow. So my first question!
“Tea or coffee?”
“Have you green tea Steele san?”
“Yes. Call me Patrick, Sumisu san.”
“Thank you Patrick,” he smiled slightly.
We went into the lounge and sat. I started.
“The Gurentai. How did you get involved?
“That is a very simple start Patrick. I was born to it. As are most Japanese who are involved. There are growing numbers like you who have been recruited but the core is essentially native to our country. It is the way we maintain the quality of our work and the direction of our focus.”
“I know that the organisation is large and I suppose it is better from a security point of view that we don’t meet each other, but will I be meeting any of my ‘colleagues’?” I continued.
“If it is necessary. How do you know you haven’t met other members already?” he responded.
I thought for a while and looked back in my mind at situations before I had met Sumisu. There was nothing obvious. Then I thought about more recent events. I said,
“Yes, rather obvious. His mother was Japanese. He simply takes instruction and over a number of years has tutored other members of our group. Naturally, you will not approach Vincent Thompson but I feel that you have a long way to go within that discipline. I myself still attend sessions when I am able. There have been others observing you on occasions. Not so now. We feel you are reliable. The shooting in Washington was as much a test of your commitment as well as skill, but also an essential step in the process of removing the Italians from the northeast. The strategy, by the way, has worked as I felt it would. I will explain later. There are others whom you may encounter briefly and only once or twice. As you already suggested we maintain our security ruthlessly. There are never more than one or two in a relationship, rather like ours. We all work alone when on active duty,” Sumisu explained.
“I take it then that there is no home base!” I asked.
“So what happens to us foot soldiers if everything goes pear shaped?” I insisted.
Sumisu just looked at me then stood and examined the items on the walls of my lounge as he said,
“That will not happen. We are very widespread and have total faith in our ability to disappear within our own environment. One of the reasons you were chosen was because of the lack of information others have about you. You are very private and have kept details of your new life to a believable minimum. You are to be congratulated Patrick san.”
I have a collection of family photographs in one of those composite display frames. He paused in front of it nodding slowly.
“Patrick san, your parents have kind faces and an honourable demeanour. They were truly noble in a western way.”
It was a statement of fact and required no comment. I watched him as he completed his tour of inspection. He would go unnoticed in a crowded room and yet he commanded respect through his quiet confidence and slow, purposeful movements.
“Do you have family Sumisu san?” I enquired.
“Please do not be offended if I only give you the briefest of answers but the less we know of each other the less we can say! Yes I have family at both ends of the age spectrum.”
“Thank you, Sumisu san,” I replied with a small inclination of my head.
My guest came and sat down and I got the impression it was time for work. He took a small sip of the pre-packed supermarket green tea I had made for him. He actually didn’t grimace! I left mine a little longer. From habit I had found it was somewhat more palatable when tepid.
Sumisu started by saying that we had intercepted calls from the phone belonging to Torino. How had ‘they’ found that was his phone? I stayed silent and speculated at the level of surveillance possible in the 21st century. He also said that due to my shooting there was a good chance that the Italian would never walk normally again! He was satisfied I think. Then he began to tell me what had been discovered.
“Patrick san we were surprised to find that the organisation we have discovered is not based in any of the usual ‘family’ haunts. It wasn’t Sicily or near any of the large conurbations on the mainland in the west, but in a relatively quiet and off the beaten track part of northeast Italy known as the Marche. It would seem that there is a Torino family in those parts descended from the Piceni family that populated the coastal region. You will be taking a trip soon!”
I started to frame questions around the forthcoming journey but Sumisu could see how my mind was working and held up his hand,
“Save your questions Patrick san I will send a full briefing in a day or two. In the meantime attend the dojo and polish up on the philosophy behind Aikido. You have a tendency to impulsiveness almost bordering on aggression!”
Was that a reference to my assault on the bully in the toilet at the pub? How could he know? Or was it just an assessment based upon his observations of me this far? I wasn’t going to find out because he was now heading towards the door.
“I will take my leave now Patrick san.”
Without further preamble or niceties he walked out of the apartment. I watched him from the bedroom window. There was a car parked at the end of my cul-de-sac. It was a silver Ford of indeterminate age with indistinct plates and Sumisu got in the back and off he went towards the town centre. I couldn’t see the driver but imagined it would be someone just as innocuous as the car he drove. I suppose it is an indication of seniority that he has a chauffeur driven car.
I sat down and pondered what I had just experienced. I went back to my laptop and looked up The Marche.