Free Ultimatum by Antony Trew

Book: Ultimatum by Antony Trew Read Free Book Online
Authors: Antony Trew
a waitress. ‘Two black coffees, please.’
    When she’d gone they talked eagerly of mutual friends, catching up on each other’s news in a sort of verbal shorthand . The waitress brought the coffee and Zeid paid her. When they’d finished it he said, ‘Let’s walk. Safest way to chat.’ They left the table and started up the southern side of the Square.
    Zeid said, ‘Delivered yet?’
    ‘This morning at nine-thirty.’
    ‘Any problems?’
    ‘No. The truck had a wheeled pallet with it. Just as well. It’s a hell of a weight. Took the driver and his mate, plus four of us, to get it in.’
    ‘Carpets are heavy, Kemal. What’s the programme?’
    Tarshe lowered his voice. ‘I’ve received the letter from London requesting re-consignment to English clients since the Athens buyer has defaulted.’
    ‘What address did they give?’
    Tarshe took a slip of paper from his wallet and passed it to the bearded man. It read:
    J. P. Leroux et Cie,      
    43 St Peter’s Road,      
    Fulham, London SW6.
    ‘You ask for a Miss Morley,’ said Kemal.
    Zeid folded the slip of paper, placed it in an inner pocket of his jacket. ‘That’s good,’ he said. ‘And now?’
    ‘We’ll sew on address and marking labels tomorrow. I’ll burn the old ones when the staff have left the office.’
    ‘Don’t on any account touch the label on the right-hand side. The one which describes the contents.’
    ‘Okay. I’ll make sure of that. The truck will come for the bale on the eighteenth and take it down to the harbour. It’ll be loaded on the Student Prince that day or the next. She sails on the nineteenth.’
    They reached the bottom of the Square and began a second circuit. ‘That’s great,’ said Zeid. ‘When does she arrive?’
    ‘She’s calling at Genoa, Marseille and Gibraltar. Due to berth at Millwall Docks on October 29th.’
    ‘Arrangements there still the same?’
    ‘Yes. The freight forwarding agents, Morrison, Dean and Fletcher, are to clear the consignment. You’ll arrange that. And collection from the bonded warehouse. Right?’
    ‘Yes. Rudi has the van.’ Zeid looked at his watch. ‘Nearly one o’clock,’ he said. ‘Wish we could lunch together, but we can’t. Better say goodbye now.’
    ‘What passport are you travelling on?’
    ‘Algerian – Simon Dufour.’
    ‘When do you leave?’
    ‘Tomorrow morning, Air France to Paris. The nine-fifteen flight.’
    ‘I wish I was coming. May Allah be with you, Zeid.’
    ‘I’m a Christian, Kemal. But I hope he will overlook that.’
    They laughed, shook hands and parted.

    In a small office on the first floor of 56 Spender Street, not far from Covent Garden, two men sat at a table, a tape-recorder between them.
    ‘Play it back, Zol.’
    ‘Okay.’ Zol Levi ran the tape back, restarted it. A conversation in Arabic followed. Shalom Ascher hunched forward, pulling at his beard, a gesture which his companion knew indicated intense concentration. The tape ran on for about five minutes before Ascher held up his hand. ‘Stop. Let’s have that last section again. Where the voices fade. Can’t get that.’
    Levi ran the tape back and re-started it. They listened intently.
    ‘It’s no good.’ Ascher stood up, stretched, yawned loudly. ‘We’ll never get it.’ He went to the small table where there was another recorder, watched the reels turning, thinking what it was all about. There were already twenty reels. The recorder’s mike was fed by the receiver/amplifier on the shelf beneath the table. It in turn was fed by transmissions from the bugs on the ground floor premises of the MIDDLE ORIENT CONSOLIDATED AGENCIES LTD On the Opposite side of the street. The bugs – the miniaturised microphone/transmitters – were a good deal smaller than a new penny piece.
    ‘So,’ said Levi. ‘What do you make of it?’
    ‘Two things. One, the man called Zeid is mentioned again. This is the third time we’ve heard his name. They expect him soon.

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