Sunday, 27 May 2007

Chapter 96

They were dressed now, and sat across the table from each other in Ana’s small kitchen.

“The meeting is at 11.30am,” she said, and scribbled down the address for him on a piece of paper torn from a calendar. “Don’t you dare be late. They are doing you a favour even seeing us today,” she warned him, as she handed the scrap to him.

It was just after 9.30am. Harry knew he’d have to go back to Alan’s flat to collect Danny and wondered (but only briefly) how he’d fared last night.

“Don’t worry, Ana … we’ll be there,” he said. Ana suddenly bristled.

“Who is ‘we’?” she asked, sharply.

Harry was alert now to every change in Ana’s tone, and caught the jealousy in her voice perfectly. Did it mean there was still a chance, with Ana? Reassurance was necessary, he knew.

“Oh, I’m sorry, Ana. I’m here with a colleague – you’ll like him.”

“You never mentioned him before,” she said, calmer now, he noticed, the green eyed monster having retreated back into whatever cave it lived in.

“No. Danny’s his name. He’s stopping over at Alan’s, too. He’s a bright kid – kind of like the son I never had.”

She looked him in the eye. “You never lost the knack, did you?” she said, and it was as if she was pulling a knife from her chest.

A casual observer of the two of them that morning might wonder that they could even speak at all, so beyond them was the idea of a ‘normal’ conversation. Harry felt almost like he’d been swimming, blindfolded, in a pool of bitter, sun-sharp lemon juice, so that whenever he opened his mouth he caught the backwash. Ana, though, had had enough.

“OK, Harry. If we’re going to do this, let’s keep it strictly business, shall we?” If they were ever going to get anywhere, this was probably the safest route, she knew.

“Now – let me see that bond again before we take it to the Ministry…”

Harry reached into his shirt pocket to dig it out. But it wasn’t there. He casually checked the floor beside him, only slowly becoming anxious when he couldn’t see it there. Ana saw his anxiety, realized he must have misplaced it.

“I’ll check the bedroom!” she said, dashing out of the kitchen. By the time they had checked the lounge, the hallway and the stairwell they both realized, reluctantly and finally, that the bond was missing.

“Think where you were last night. When was the last time you showed it to anyone?” Ana asked.

Harry knew it had been when he was with Ana, in the bar. The thought that it might be lying there, folded on the floor beneath a table near the window, haunted him. But equally, it could be on the street, on the back seat of a taxi, somewhere in a nightclub or all points in between.

“I hope to God I left it at Alan’s, Ana!” Harry said. It was his best hope, he knew. He’d taken his shirt off for a wash before he’d gone out again with Danny, and the chances were it had fallen out then. Even so, it did cross his mind that Ana’s behaviour had been (to put it mildly) odd this morning, and for the briefest of moments he wondered whether she might have taken it. The thought – uncharitable, at best, and downright cynical at worst – was dismissed as quickly as it came. It didn’t make sense for her to arrange the meeting with the Ministry official if she’d done that. And anyway, however odd she had been, that just wasn’t Ana.

Harry glanced at the address she’d given him earlier. It was not far from the old Post Office building in the centre of Madrid.

“I’m going back to Alan’s now. Can I meet you at the Post Office at 11.25am?”

“Sure. But you had better let me know if you find the bond, Harry. There’s not much point in wasting their time if you don’t have it,” she said. “Let me know, before I set off.”

With that, Harry grabbed his coat and fair ran out of the flat, his mind now focused on only one thing. Well, at least it got rid of all that mixed up stuff Ana had been going on about – so that was alright, then.


the domestic minx said...

Oh GOD!!!
What a horrible turn of events!

I really could give Harry a good shaking!
He is entirely frustrating!

Thomas Hamburger Jnr said...

Harry just can't see the wood for the trees. He's supposed to be an ace genealogical private eye, but I don't think I'd hire him in a hurry...

Fanton said...

He seems to be a rather good gynecological private eye, though!

Thomas Hamburger Jnr said...

Indeed! Thanks for that, Fanton!

Theresa111 said...

Fanton…You're very naughty!