Eiley paused in the shadows and waited no more than a couple of yards from me. I took him from behind with the simplest of headlocks, snapping his neck so quickly that he had no chance to make even the slightest cry.
I lowered him gently to the ground, found the Webley in his coat pocket, picked up his old trilby and pulled it on. Then I moved towards the bridge.
Lucas was half-way across. ‘Will you get your bloody finger out, Dennis,’ he called softly.
I went up the steps head down so that it was only at the last moment instinct told him something was wrong and he swung to face me.
I said, ‘You’re a big man with women and kids, Lucas. How do you feel now ?’
He was trying to get the Schmeisser out from underneath his coat when I shot him in the right shoulder, the heavy bullet turning him round in a circle. The other two shots shattered his spine, driving him across the handrail of the bridge to hang, head-down.
His raincoat started to smoulders there was a tiny
tongue of flame. I leaned down, got him by the ankles with one hand and tipped him over. Then I tossed the Webley and the trilby after him and continued across the bridge.
Most of Oban seemed to be enveloped in a damp, clinging mist when I went out on deck and there was rain on the wind, which was hardly surprising for it had been threatening ever since my arrival two days previously.
Beyond Kerrera, the waters of the Firth of Lome, when one could see them at all, seemed reasonably troubled and things generally looked as if they might get worse before they got better. Hardly the most comforting of thoughts with the prospect of the kind of passage by night I had in front of me.
For the moment, I was snug enough, anchored fifty yards from the main jetty. I made a quick check to make certain that all my lines were secure and was just going
to go below when a taxi pulled up on the jetty and Meyer got out.
He didn’t bother to wave. Simply descended a flight of stone steps to the water’s edge and stood waiting, so I dropped over the side into the rubber dinghy, started the outboard motor and went to get him.
He looked distinctly out of place in his black Hom-burg and old Burberry raincoat, a parcel under one arm, a briefcase in his other hand, and he obviously felt it.
Is it safe, this thing?’ he demanded, peering anxiously through his spectacles at the dinghy.
‘As houses,’! said taking the briefcase he passed to me.
He hung on to the parcel, stepped gingerly into the dinghy and sat down in the prow. As we moved towards the motor cruiser, he turned to have a look at her.
‘Are you satisfied ?’
‘Couldn’t be better.’
“TheKathleen, isn’t that what they call her ? I must say she doesn’t look much.’
‘Which is exactly why I chose her,’ I said.
We bumped against the hull, I went up the short ladder and over the rail with the line. As I turned to help Meyer a curtain of rain drifted across the harbour. He darted for the shelter of the companionway and I followed him down to the saloon.
‘What about some breakfast?’ I said as he took off his coat and hat.
‘Breakfast?’ He looked at me blankly. *But it’s almost noon.’
‘So I got up late.’ I shrugged. ‘All right, tea then.’
I went into the galley and as I put on the kettle, Al Bowlly broke intoIt’s all forgotten now. When I went back into the saloon, Meyer was sitting at the table lighting one
of the fat Dutch cigars he favoured, the little cassette tape-recorder in front of him.
“When are our friends due?’
I glanced at my watch. ‘About an hour. You’re late. What kept you?’
‘The Brigadier came to see me before I left so I had to get a later plane.’
‘What did he want?’
‘A final briefing, that’s all. He’s flying to Northern Ireland himself this afternoon to be on hand in case he’s needed.’