For the next two days Nick emerged only for the toilet. He worked into the early hours of the mornings and then slept on the very comfortable couch at night. Each of the two days at mealtimes a tray was placed outside of the study door with plain but well prepared food and drink on it; every time the ex-boxer collected it, all the victuals had been devoured – which gave Twinkle a great deal of satisfaction. On the third day Nick left his study. He called Twinkle and told him to get ready for a journey, asking if he had brought his passport with him. “Yes, boss,” “I’m never without it,” said the dapper little man. That evening they caught a Virgin Airlines flight to Paris. On the short flight Nick was engrossed in a bundle of paperwork. Making notes here and there, with a fearsome look of anger crossing his face every now and again. They passed through customs with some speed after the Chief Customs Officer met them. A few words with Nick, and then with a salute they were ushered through a side door to the outside rear of the building, where a 700 series BMW was already being loaded for them. About a mile outside the airport they pulled into a side street. Nick placed a case on his lap. “That’s very funny, thought the ex boxer, “I didn’t see him bring that from his home to the airport.” Undoing the security locks, Nick opened the case to reveal the most amazing range of handguns: from a small Walther PPK 7.65 mm automatic through to a powerful Python 357 Magnum Revolver. “Take your pick and select a weapon, he told his little assistant, whose eyes were nearly popping out of his head. Nick was pleasantly surprised to see the man choose the Walther PPK and a lead filled leather cudgel, both weapons easily concealed. For similar reasons and also because they were his favourite weapons, he himself chose a Detective Special Colt 38 snub nose revolver and a slim razor sharp Gerber throwing knife. “How the hell did you get those through customs, boss” asked Twinkle. “ Well I was seconded to the French Foreign legion for a short time,” Nick explained. “I met and became pals with that guy who is now the Chief Customs Officer” “He was the one you saw me talking to.” “ He still owes me a few favours. Nick did not elaborate or vouchsafe that he had saved the Customs Officer’s life on three different occasions.
Twinkle, realising that the subject was closed, did not pursue the matter. “One last question boss”- “Just so that I know what to look forward to, and be prepared for.” “OK Said Nick” “Shoot!” “Could you tell me what is happening, and what we’re going to do?” asked the tiny ex boxer. “Well pal, it goes like this” volunteered Nick. “I’ve investigated as much as I could over the telephone,” “and I’ve gained special information through my computer.” “I have come to the conclusion that one at least” – “If not all three of the consortium – were connected with the attack on me.” “So I wrote everything down and analysed it,” “and that is what you saw me doing on the flight.” “We are now going to visit those three to glean as much information as we can.” “We may run into some trouble, and that is why I organized the hardware from my friend.” “We will leave it at the same place when we return.” Twinkle lapsed into thoughtful silence. They drove on towards Switzerland and their appointment with Colonel van Reeve. Johann van Reeve. Once the brutal Commandant of a South African prison camp, but now he was a successful arms dealer. He sat behind his sumptuous desk, smoking an Agio slim Dutch cigar, and from the evidence in his ashtray he was quite a heavy smoker. A blue haze pervaded the office in spite of the air conditioning system.
“So, Mr. Alum, it is indeed nice to see you again and looking so well.” “I do hear that you experienced a nasty incident in London a few weeks back,” “Is that correct man?” “Yes, Colonel” “That’s correct” retorted Nick with rather angry voice… “It would appear that you have heard through your pipeline already” “I didn’t realise that it was such common knowledge.” There was a strange edge to Nick voice and reply. “Were you also informed, that the two perpetrators died for their troubles” “One of them, according to my research, was a fellow countryman of yours.”
“He was a white South African by the name of Will Nathan, otherwise known as The Bock.” There was a tiny pause. “I am just curious to know if you knew that man!” Nick exclaimed. A peculiar look came over the South Afrikaners face: a sort of pallor, but with heightening flushed cheeks. He seem to force a grim smile as he answered “Yes, indeed, Mr. Alum” “I am sorry to say that I did.” “It seems that he was employed as my chief security officer for a time,” “But I’m sure you already know that.” “However, he was discharged for dishonesty a week before your little incident.” “You will find this is true I’m sure, when you investigate this statement.” “As I know you will do.” Nick did not enlighten the Afrikaner with regard to his stringent research, nor did he give any sign, that so far as he was aware, the story appeared to be true. Very convenient. Van Reeve was speaking again: “I sincerely hope you don’t think that I was in any way connected with that incident.” “I can assure you that I’m completely innocent. “Was it not I that arranged for you to be employed to get our manuscript back” “You did a fine job for us without anyone getting hurt.” “And you were paid in full at our meeting in East London,” “although I considered the fee to be rather high.” “Now as far as I’m concerned, that was our business finished.” “The fee for that job, Colonel, was agreed before-hand by all three of you.” “Yes, you did make the job a lot easier by giving me the information, that a London gang was holding the document.” “Although strange as to HOW you knew that.” “ Also seems strange that you were unable to supply me with any names!” “You had no way of knowing how dangerous or not the job would be Colonel.” “But I still consider it a fair fee that I was paid!” Van Reeve gave a weak smile. “The man knows” thought Nick. “But How?” Years previous, Nick and a certain Jimmy Core served together in the army in the ‘Junior Leaders Company’. They had got on very well until Nick was selected for officer training. Jimmy only served one year in Men’s Service, before being dishonourably discharged for theft and violence. They met up once again in Singapore where Jimmy was living, when Nick was searching for the killers of Laura. Two years later Jimmy was to return to his London home. When Nick uncovered the fact that it was the elder of the Core family who had the document, he was at first surprised and than pleased because it should make the return of it so much easier. He phoned Jimmy to arrange a meeting; Nick explained the situation and, having been paid one third of the fee, Jimmy handed over the manuscript. This transaction between them was supposed to have been hush-hush, yet somehow Van Reeve had acquired the information. Again how? “I’m not accusing anyone at present Colonel” retorted Nick “Just making stringent enquiries.” “I don’t like people trying to eliminate me”. “I intend to find out who it was, and why.” “Anything I can do to help you Mr. Alum, please let me” know retorted the Afrikaner. With that, he accompanied Nick to the lift door. Nick left the building and sat in the car for about five minutes until Twinkle appeared from the basement level of the office block. “Well! – any luck?”
“Too bloody right boss,” Twinkle retorted, “Van-Reeve placed a phone to Singapore just after you left.” “He talked for about ten minutes,” “Unfortunately I couldn’t get the number nor hear the conversation.” “Sorry!” “Don’t worry, pal, you did a good job.” “Well done!” “Now let’s go and book a flight to Singapore.”