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The crammer's school for the very rich was off the Basel to Zürich road, sufficiently close to Zürich for the lake to be visible from its expansive verandahs and stepped walkways. Here, after the struggle of prep schools, privileged children of ambitious parents were force-fed to make university entrance, just as, to the north at Strasbourg, geese had corn thrust down their throats to make pâté de foie gras. The product of Strasbourg was frequently on the dining-room menu at the Ecole Gagner. Its students were frequently on the acceptance lists of Oxford and Cambridge and Harvard and the Sorbonne: only by sustaining maximum results could it remain the best and charge maximum fees.
The main building had been created in the seventeenth century in the style of a walled, turreted castle with crenellated battlements by a Frenchman who had pretensions to a military life without the stamina to make it possible. The high walls and the single drawbridged entrance to the dormitory area remained, giving the Ecole Gagner added attraction. They meant it was secure. Even so, bodyguards were an accepted feature in the school precincts. Six were assigned to a Kuwaiti prince. The son of a rancher who owned ten square miles in Paraguay had three. So, too, did Tewfik Azziz.
The regimentation at the Ecole Gagner would have pleased its military-minded architect. Everything had its order, from mealtimes to recreation to examination times. And vacation times. The longest holiday was in the summer, always starting on the Wednesday of the second week in June and not ending until the last Thursday in August: the principal considered the extended relaxation necessary after the workload imposed through winter and spring.
Most boarding schools have a travel officer. Reflecting the importance of its pupils, the Ecole Gagner had a department, staffed by four. Here, as with everything else, the precision was absolute, timetables agreed and adjusted weeks in advance to fit parents' requirements, and usually the convenience of private aircraft. Azziz's departure was scheduled for noon. His father had brought the Scheherazade into harbour at Monte Carlo and the Alouette helicopter, which had its own pad and hangar at the stem, could make the journey to Zürich and back to the yacht in under four hours, with the inconvenience of road travel only necessary from the school to the airport. The school's closeness to the tight-packed foothills prevented its having a landing pad of its own.
Azziz's car left the school grounds at eleven. All three bodyguards were with him. The American, Williams, who had been a Green Beret officer and then a contract employee for two years with the CIA, rode in the back alongside the boy. One Bedouin drove, the other sat beside him in the front; from their clothes and demeanour it was difficult to tell that they were Arabs, or had, ten years earlier, been desert tribesmen.
Obediently the driver kept to the speed limit crossing the ancient bridge, only accelerating slightly along the winding driveway through the outer grounds beyond; to the left were the playing fields, skating rink and covered swimming pool. The gateman was waiting at the boundary wall. He looked in, smiled and then operated the electrically controlled outer protections.
The car turned right, onto the main road, almost immediately picking up the river Limmat; from the hills it was possible to see the lake into which it fed.
"Looking forward to the vacation?" asked Williams. With the boy safely aboard the yacht, he would have two clear months to himself. His sister was expecting him in Houston by the end of the week.
"Very much," said Azziz. He hadn't found it easy, achieving the examination grades. But he had managed. He knew his father would be pleased. It was important always to please his father.
"When do you sit for Cambridge?" asked the American.
"Immediately I return. They think I'll get in without any difficulty." The boy knew that the assessment had already been sent, along with his end-of-term report, to his father. It was going to be a pleasant holiday.
The road began to fall away for the final descent into Zürich; from the elevation it was possible to distinguish the newness of the Bahnhofstrasse set against the tangled parts of the old quarter. The driver was familiar with the route and turned away towards the airport, missing the congestion of the town. Azziz detected the black spot of a helicopter and wondered if it were his; it was too far away to see the markings.
"We're in good time," said Williams, as the car turned onto the slip road to the airport. He wasn't a good flyer and put a travel pill surreptitiously into his mouth. He hoped Azziz hadn't noticed.
There was a separate car park for the private section, away from the main airport complex. When the car halted all three men turned instinctively towards Azziz. This was a mistake. So, too, was leaving the doors unlocked. All four opened simultaneously, the ambush perfectly coordinated.
"Move and he's dead," said a voice.
The .375 Magnum was against the front of Azziz's head, so all three men could see it; fired from that close, it would have decapitated him. The three remained motionless. It took only moments to disarm them. Williams had a Colt automatic in a shoulder holster and a short-barrelled Smith and Wesson against his leg in an ankle strap. The Arabs each had a Smith and Wesson, both long-barrelled.
"Take me too," said Williams. His head was tilted awkwardly because a pistol was hard beneath his left ear.
"Don't be stupid," said the man who had first spoken. He was short and slightly built, olive-skinned and crinklehaired.
One of the Bedouin said "Pig" in Arabic. In the same language the spokesman said, "Tell his father that; tell his father we're the worst pigs he can imagine." He came back to Williams. "You listening?"
"Yes," said the American.
"Tell his father to wait until he's contacted. And then cooperate. If he tries anything, with the authorities or any people like you, we'll kill the boy. You got that?"
"Yes," said Williams again.
A fifth man appeared in the doorway with a gunlike object in his hand. None of the three men recognized it as an immunization compressor which injects without the necessity of a needle. There was a hiss as the man fired against the necks of the American and the driver and into the hand of the second Arab. Unconsciousness was almost immediate.
"They're not hurt," said the curly-haired man to the boy.
Azziz looked fearlessly across the car at him. "Get this gun away from my head," he said. "It hurts."
The man nodded and the pressure was relaxed.
"You won't be harmed," said the man. "Not if you do what you're told. You're going to get out of this car and be taken to another. If you try to attract any attention, we'll shoot your legs away. You won't die, but you'll be crippled for life. Do you understand?"
"Yes," said Azziz.
"All right," said the man. "Now get out."
The boy got out of the car, fully aware for the first time of the number of men who had crowded around the vehicle, shielding what was happening from anyone else who might have entered the car park.
"You're idiots," said Azziz. "Do you have any idea what sort of man my father is?"
"We know exactly what he is," said the man. "That's why we've got you."
The Liberian-registered and appropriately named Bellicose, a freighter of 25,000 tons, sailed from Genoa in ballast, making easy passage with the coast of Italy and France always in sight until it reached Marseilles. Captain Sven Erlander let his first officer go ashore to arrange the loading, while he completed the official record from the rough log. He was still working on it when Raoul Edmunson entered the cabin.
"Going well," said the first officer. "Plenty of stevedores, too."
"Anything awkward?" asked the captain.
Edmunson hesitated. "I always think arms shipments are awkward," he said. "I don't like them."
"Neither do I," agreed Erlander. "That wasn't what I meant."
"It's all crated," said the first officer. "And the general cargo is already loaded."
"Good," said Erlander as he completed the log. The last entry recorded was the visible passing of Monte Carlo, where the Scheherazade was expectantly at anchor. The helicopter pad was still empty.CHAPTER 2
Like cigarette odour or the smell of garlic on the breath, the overnight argument was still there, a barrier neither was prepared to cross. Richard Deaken moved politely but unspeaking about the kitchen and Karen manoeuvred with equal good manners and matching silence in the opposite direction, in a dance that neither enjoyed nor properly knew the steps. She set the table, as she always did. And he put the brioches in the basket and then laid the bread alongside; it was always his job to go to the baker just off the boulevard Jacques Dalcrose for morning bread. Just as it was to brew the coffee. He concentrated more than was necessary upon the filter. He heard her sigh. Deaken removed the filter and the coffee residue with elaborate caution, almost as if it might explode, and then carried the pot to the table. He put it between them, without offering to pour for her. She reached forward impatiently, splashing some into her cup so that it spilled into the saucer. Deaken realized it was childish not to have done it for her. Karen used a tissue to clean the saucer and then turned it between her fingers into a tiny brown ball. Deaken carefully ensured he finished pouring well before the rim of his own cup, so there was no spill; he should have bought a newspaper on the way back from the baker, to create a physical division between them.
"This is fucking ridiculous."
"Yes," he said. She wasn't referring specifically to this morning but to many before. And nights. And days. And weekends. Things had been going badly for a long time.
"I don't know. It's ridiculous, like you said."
"Do you still love me?"
"You know I do."
"Then why?" she pleaded again.
"Ridiculous," he repeated. They were still dancing, more intricately now.
"It needn't be."
Deaken regarded their arguments like some juvenile game of Scrabble, a limited number of words arranged before them to create into a pattern of familiar sentences or phrases.
"We can't afford a baby," he said—the most familiar phrase of all.
Karen crumbled a brioche between her fingers, until it became a scattered pile of crumbs and dough. "We can't even afford this fucking bun!" she said.
"You know I'm right."
"Shall I tell you something ...?" She raised her hand way above her head, so that bread debris rained down between them. "I'm fed up to here ... I'm utterly and absolutely pissed off ... with this bloody affectation."
"You don't have to swear."
"I'll swear as much as I fucking well like!"
She seized her coffee cup with both hands, making a barrier between them. He thought she was beautiful, even though she had only scraped a comb through the blonde hair and coloured her lips. Anger flushed her face; she looked young and innocent and flustered. He wanted to reach out and touch her. He didn't.
"It's not an affectation," he insisted. He didn't want to argue any more with her.
"Then tell me what it is!"
"We've been through it all before."
"Richard Deaken, on the run again."
"I'm not running away," he said. "I work here in Geneva because I want to ... because I think it might have a future for me. And because to have stayed in South Africa was impossible. You know that."
"You don't work here," she persisted. "You go into that dingy bloody office and make chains out of paperclips all day. Why the hell maintain all this crap about being a lawyer for the underdog? We're the only underdogs in the entire country. The Swiss are too bloody expert at making money."
"Maybe I should try to join a firm," he conceded. Deaken wondered how long it would take other trained lawyers to recognize his problem, if he did join a group of partners: to realize that his trial nerve had gone, so that he couldn't remember the construction of a brief or the points of defence or prosecution or seize, as he had once been able to seize, the mistakes and errors of the other side and turn them to his advantage.
"You'd better, before it's too late," she said. "There's no point in having an international law degree and the reputation you have, unless you use it."
Deaken started eating a brioche, not because he wanted it but because he needed something to do. It was difficult to swallow. He should have sought psychiatric help before now; before it had become so bad that he didn't think he could ever again appear in open court, and had tried to bury himself in the anonymity of civil ligitation.
"Would you need money to buy into a firm?"
"We haven't got any."
"Sometimes they'll let you pay it off from salaries and fees, once you've joined."
She reached across the table for his hand, an impulsive gesture. "I don't mean to bitch," she said.
"I do love you. I know how good and successful you could be ... It just seems letting everything drift like this is such a waste."
She never accused him of failing her, even during their fiercest arguments, but he believed she felt that he had. "Maybe I'll look around," he said.
Karen put her head doubtfully to one side. "Promise?" she said.
"Not today," said Deaken. "I've actually got a client today. I'll start tomorrow."
Karen stood and swept the crumbs she had created into her napkin and then cleared the rest of the breakfast things from the table. "I've been thinking," she said, from the sink.
"Getting a job."
She turned as she said it, conscious of the effect it would have. She lifted a rubber-gloved hand against any outburst, washing bubbles dripping onto the floor in front of her. "I'm not trying to start another fight," she said quickly. "I'm bored with nothing to do. Honestly. And it would help; you've got to admit it would help. Financially, I mean."
"I said I'd look around," said Deaken tightly. Switzerland was packed with doctors and psychiatrists; maybe it wouldn't take long. He wouldn't tell Karen; she had once thought of him as strong and forceful ...
"That's got nothing to do with it," she said. "Why on earth shouldn't I work?"
"Because I don't want a wife of mine having to," he said, recognizing as he spoke the same pride that kept him from telling her of his fear of a breakdown.
"That's rubbish!" she said. "I might have to soon." She dried and creamed the hands of which she was so proud and began shaping her nails with an emery board.
"Wait. Please," he said.
"Let's see what I can find."
"Haven't we waited long enough?"
She stared up from her manicure and for a moment Deaken thought his wife was going to continue arguing. Instead she made a half shrug with her shoulders and went back to her filing. He got up from the table, took a cloth and began wiping the crockery she had stacked into the draining tray. He was alongside her, but she didn't look at him.
"Why don't we meet for lunch?" he said.
"We can't ..." she began and then stopped. "What time are you meeting this client?" she said instead.
"I don't know. I can't imagine that it'll go on until lunchtime." Nothing had lasted that long, from the time he had arrived in Switzerland.
"Why don't I ring you around twelve thirty, just in case?"
"Fine," agreed Deaken. They had returned to the elaborate politeness of an hour before.
Because he was meeting a new client, the first for a month, Deaken wore the better of his two suits, the one with least shine at the seat and elbows. He returned to the kitchen from the bedroom for a cloth to give his shoes a final buff. When he straightened, Karen came forward and adjusted the knot of his tie. He reached out for her, feeling the stir of excitement at the touch of her body beneath the thin housecoat.
"Maybe today will be the big one," she said.
"Thanks," he said.
She stretched up to kiss him. "Twelve thirty," she said.
"I'll be waiting."
Excerpted from Deaken's War by Brian Freemantle. Copyright © 1982 Innslodge Publications Ltd. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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