Jack Higgins – The Savage Day

The kettle started to whistle in the galley so I went in to make the tea. Meyer followed and leaned in the doorway, watching me.

‘Perhaps I’m tired or maybe it’s just that I’m getting old and I didn’t sleep so good kst night and that’s always a bad sign with me.’

I poured milk and tea into two enamel mugs, topped them up with a krgish measure of Jameson and handed him one. ‘What are you trying to say, Meyer ?’

‘I don’t feel so good about this, Simon.’

‘Like you said, you’re tired, that’s all.’

He shook his head violently. ‘You know me. I get an instinct for these things and I’m never wrong. The first time I felt like this was when I was seventeen years of age back in 1938.’

‘I know,’ I said. ‘You’ve told me often enough. You got out of Munich half an hour before the Gestapo came to arrest you. Your uncle and aunt wouldn’t listen and died in Dachau.’

He made a violent gesture, tea slopping out of his mug. T)on’t mock me, Simon. What about that time in Casablanca? If you hadn’t listened to me then and left on the next plane they’d have arrested both of us.’

right, so you’ve got second sight.’ I moved past him into the saloon.’Have you tried telling the Brigadier you don’t feel so good about things

He shrugged helplessly and sat down at the table opposite me. ‘How do we get into such situations, Simon? It’s crazy.’

‘Because we didn’t have any choice,’ I said. ‘It’s as simple as that. Did you bring what I asked ?’

‘In the parcel.’ I started to unwrap it and he added, ‘Where’s the cargo?’

‘The Lahtis are in the aft cabin. You’re sitting on the Uzis.’

I removed the last of the brown paper and opened the flat cardboard box it contained. Inside there was several pounds of what looked like children’s Plasticine, but was in fact a new and rather effective plastic explosive called AKI 7. There was a box of chemical fuses to go with it.

There was also a cloth bundle tied with string, which when I opened it contained several clips of ammunition and a Mauser automatic pistol with a rather strange bulbous barrel.

‘That damn thing’s almost a museum piece,’ Meyer observed as I hefted it on one hand. ‘You’ve no idea the trouble I had finding one.’

‘I know,’ I said. ‘But it’s still the only really effective silenced handgun ever made.’ I picked up the box and stood. ‘Let’s go up top. I want to show you something.’

It was raining harder than ever when we went out on deck. I led the way into the wheelhouse, put the box down on the chart table, reached underneath and pressed a spring catch. A flap fell down which held a Mark IIS Sten. There were several other spring clips and a shelf behind.

‘Aslight improvement/1 said. ‘This is what kept me up so late last night.’

I put the ARI 7 on the back shelf with the fuses and spare ammunition clips, loaded the Mauser and fitted it into place, then pushed the flap up out of sight.

‘Very neat,’ Meyer observed.

‘Nothing like being prepared.’

He glanced at his watch. ‘I’ll have to be away soon. I’ve got a hire car laid on by a local garage. They’re going to run me down to Abbotsinch. I’ll catch the evening plane to Belfast from there.’

‘Then what?’

He shrugged. ‘I’ll get straight to the house I’ve rented and wait to hear from you.’

‘You’d better show me where it is.’

I got out the right map for him and he found it soon enough. ‘Here we are. About ten miles out of Stramore on this road. Randall Cottage. It’s right at the end of a farm track beside a small wood. A bit tumbledown, but rather nice. The sort of pkce they rent to holidaymakers in the season. Here’s the telephone number.’

It was easy enough to remember. I rolled the slip of paper into a ball and flipped it out through the side window. ‘What did you tell the agent ?’

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