Jack Higgins – The Savage Day

listens to nothing else. Carries a cassette tape-recorder with him everywhere.’

‘You’ve got to be kidding,’ she said.

I shook my head. ‘You’re now listening toMoonlight on the Highway, probably the best thing he ever did. Recorded with the Joe Loss orchestra on the zist March, 1938. You see, I’ve become something of an expert myself.’

The door opened and Meyer appeared. ‘Ah, Simon.’

‘Dr Murphy,’ I said. ‘And Mr Gallagher. This is Mr Meyer.’ I closed the door and Meyer, who could speak impeccable English when it suited him, started to act the bewildered Middle-European.

‘But I don’t understand. I was expecting to meet a Mr Cork, commanding the official IRA forces in Northern Ireland.’

I walked to the window and lit a cigarette, aware of Binnie leaning against the door, hands in his pockets. It was raining harder than ever outside, bouncing from the cobblestones.

Norah Murphy said, ‘I am empowered to act for Michael Cork.’

‘You were to provide five thousand pounds in cash as an evidence of good faith. Where is it, please ?’

She opened her case, took out an envelope and threw it on the bed. ‘Count it, please, Simon,’ Meyer said.

Al Bowlly was working his way throughI double dare you as I reached for the envelope and Norah Murphy said quickly, ‘Don’t waste your time, Major. There’s only a thousand there.’

There was a moment of distinct tension as Meyer reached for the tape-recorder and cut Al Bowlly dead. ‘And the other four?’

‘We wanted to be absolutely certain, that’s all. It’s

ready and waiting, no more than ten minutes’ walk from here.’

He thought about it for a moment, then nodded briefly. ‘All right. To business. Please sit down.’

He offered her the only chair and sat on the edge of the bed himself.

“Will you have any difficulty in meeting our requirements ?’ she asked.

‘The rifles will be no trouble at all. I am in the happy position of being able to offer you five hundred Chinese AK 47’s, probably the finest assault rifle in the world today. Extensively used by the Viet Cong in Vietnam.’

‘I’m aware of that,’ she said a trifle impatiently. ‘And the other items ?’

‘Grenades are no problem and we can offer you an excellent range of sub-machine-guns. The early Thompsons still make a great deal of noise, but I would personally recommend you to try the Israeli Uzi. A remarkably efficient weapon. Absolutely first class, don’t you agree, Simon ?’

‘Oh, the best,’ I said cheerfully. ‘There’s a grip safety which stops it firing if dropped, so we find it goes particularly well with the peasant trade. They’re usually inclined to be rather clumsy.’

She didn’t even bother to look at me. ‘And armour-piercing weapons?’ she said. *We asked for those most particularly.’

‘Rather more difficult, I’m afraid,’ Meyer told her.

*But we must have them.’ She clenched her right hand and hammered it against her knee, the knuckles white. ‘They are absolutely essential if we are to win the battle in the streets. Petrol bombs make a spectacular show on colour television, Mr Meyer, but they seldom do more than blister the paint of a Saracen armoured car.’

Meyer sighed heavily. ‘I can deliver between eighty and one hundred and twenty Lahti 20 mm semi-automatic anti-tank cannons. It’s a Finnish gun. Not used by any Western Powers as far as I know.’

‘Is it efficient ? Will it do the job ?’

‘Ask the Major. He’s the expert.’

She turned to me and I shrugged. ‘Any gun is only as good as the man using it, but as a matter of interest, someone broke into a bank in New York back in 1965 using a Lahti. Blasted a hole through twenty inches of concrete and steel. One round in the right pkce will open up a Saracen like a tin can.’

She nodded, that hand still clenched, a strange, wild gleam in her eye. ‘You’ve used them? You’ve had experience of them in action, I mean ?’

‘In one of the Trucial Oman States and the Yemen.’

She turned to Meyer. ‘You must guarantee competent instruction in their use. Agreed?’

She didn’t look at me. There was no need. Meyer nodded. ‘Major Vaughan will be happy to oblige, but for one week only and our fee will be an additional two thousand pounds on that agreed for the first consignment.’

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