Long Lost Page 34

I thought that maybe Win had stopped or at least slowed down, but now I realized that hadn\'t been the case. He had started taking more overseas trips. He had been an ’’invaluable ally’’ in the fight against child trafficking.

’’So when Win asked me for a favor,’’ Lucy went on, ’’I did it. This seemed like a pretty innocuous request anyway to run the photo Captain Berleand sent you through the system and come up with an ID. Routine, right?’’

’’Right.’’

’’It was not. We have plenty of ways at Interpol to identify people from photographs. There\'s facial recognition software, for example.’’

’’Miss Probert?’’

’’Yes.’’

’’I don\'t really need a technology lesson.’’

’’Wonderful, because I have neither the time nor inclination to give you one. My point is, such requests are fairly routine at Interpol. I put the photograph into the system before I left for the day, figuring the computer would work on it overnight and spew out an answer. Is that simplifying matters enough for you?’’

I nodded, realizing that I\'d be wrong to interrupt. She was clearly agitated and I hadn\'t helped.

’’So when I arrived at work this morning, I expected to have an identity to report back to you. But that wasn\'t the case. Instead how shall I put this politely? all forms of intestinal waste hit the proverbial fan. Someone had gone through my desk. My computer had been accessed and searched. Don\'t ask me how I know I know.’’

She stopped and started searching through her bag. She found a cigarette and put it in her mouth. ’’You damn Americans and your antismoking crusade. If one of you says anything about no-smoking rules . . .’’

Neither of us did.

She lit up, took a deep breath, let it go.

’’In short, that photograph was classified or top secret or fill in your own terminology.’’

’’Do you know why?’’

’’Why it was classified?’’

’’Yes.’’

’’No. I am fairly high up on the Interpol food chain. If it was over my head, it is ultra-sensitive. Your photograph sent warning bells right to the top. I was summoned to Mickey Walker\'s office the big boss in London. I haven\'t been honored by an audience with Mickey in two years. He called me in and sat me down and wanted to know where I\'d got the photograph and why I\'d made this request.’’

’’What did you tell him?’’

She looked over at Win, and I knew the answer.

’’That I\'d received a tip from a reliable source that the man in the photograph might be involved in trafficking.’’

’’And he asked you for the name of the source?’’

’’Of course.’’

’’And you gave it to him?’’

Win said, ’’I would have insisted.’’

’’There was no choice,’’ she said. ’’They would have found out anyway. If they went through my e-mails or phone records, they might have been able to track it down.’’

I looked at Win. Again no reaction. She was wrong they wouldn\'t have been able to track it down, but I understood where she was coming from. This was clearly something big. To not cooperate would be career suicide and maybe worse. Win would have been right to insist she put it on us.

’’So now what?’’

’’They wish to talk to me,’’ Win said.

’’Do they know where you are?’’

’’Not yet, no. My solicitor informed them I would voluntarily come in within the hour. We are checked in here under an assumed name, but if they try hard enough they will find us here.’’

She looked at her watch. ’’I better head back.’’

I thought about the Sunglasses Man who\'d set off my Spidey senses. ’’Is there any chance one of your people is following me?’’

’’I would doubt it.’’

’’You\'re under heavy suspicion,’’ I said. ’’How do you know they didn\'t follow you here?’’

She looked at Win. ’’Is he a dope or just a se*ist?’’

Win considered that. ’’A se*ist.’’

’’I\'m an agent for Interpol. I took precautions.’’

But not enough precautions so as not to get caught in the first place. I kept that thought to myself. It wasn\'t fair. She couldn\'t have known how putting that picture in the system would blow up.

We all rose. She shook my hand and kissed Win\'s cheek. Win and I settled back into our seats after she left.

’’What are you going to tell Interpol?’’ I asked.

’’Is there any reason to lie?’’

’’Not that I can see.’’

’’So I tell them the truth for the most part. My dear friend that would be you was attacked by this man in Paris. I wanted to know who he was. We cover for Lucy by saying I lied to her and said the man was involved in child trafficking.’’

’’Which for all we know is a possibility.’’

’’True.’’

’’Do you mind if I tell Terese about this?’’

’’As long as you leave Lucy\'s name out of it.’’

I nodded. ’’We need to get an ID on this guy.’’

I walked Win down to the Claridge\'s rather spectacular lobby. No violin quartet played concertos in the foyer, but they should have. The décor was modern British Upper Crust, which is to say a hybrid of Old English and art deco, done in a style both relaxed enough for jean-clad tourists and yet haughty enough to imagine that certain chairs and maybe the molding on the ceiling were snubbing their collective nose at you. I liked it. After Win left, I started for the elevator when something made me pull up.

Black Chuck Taylor high-tops.

I moved toward the elevators, stopped, and patted my pockets. I turned back with a confused expression on my face, as though I had just realized that I had misplaced something. Myron Bolitar, Method Actor. I used the opportunity to glance surreptitiously at the man with the black Chuck Taylor high-tops.

No sunglasses. Blue windbreaker now. A baseball cap that hadn\'t been there at the cemetery. But I knew. It was my guy. And he was good. People have a tendency to remember very little. Guy with sunglasses and close-cropped hair. Throw a cap on, a windbreaker over your T-shirt no one will notice you unless they\'re looking hard.

I had almost missed it, but now I knew for sure: I was being followed. My boy from the graveyard was back.

There were several ways to play this, but I was not in the mood to be coy. I walked down a narrow corridor toward the rooms they used for meetings and conferences. It was a Sunday so they were empty. I folded my arms, leaned against the coatroom, and waited for my man to make an appearance.


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