by Michael E. Lloyd
Book I: Self Above All
Chapter 7: Taking Stock
Passage Grégoire, Nice
Tuesday 24 November, 3 p.m.
Twenty hours since it happened. Damn that truck! Narone did well to avoid it on that slippery road. But I told the kid to take it steady!
I’m certain nobody saw me struggling back here last night. It only took five minutes, and if anyone had, I’d have received a visit or two by now. So I’m probably in the clear — so far.
And I can’t see any cuts, just a lot of bruises. Well, no external bleeding, at least. So I haven’t left a trail.
But I’m feeling really weak now. Hardly slept a wink. Too many different injuries, and always the noise of another train going past, just as I think I’m drifting off.
My head’s still killing me, but I know I’m thinking straight. And I’m sure I have broken a rib or two, but they’ll heal in time. Hope they haven’t punctured anything!
It’s the chest pain that’s worrying me most. Fifty million balles is a very solid object when you ram up against it at speed! Maybe one day they’ll put those fancy new seat belts in every car. And my shoulder feels a lot worse too. It’s not dislocated, but it’s not good.
So I’m in poor shape, right? Dare I try and see a doctor? No, that’s still a crazy idea. Well, certainly not in Nice, anyway. The news will be all over town by now. I tried not to make it too obvious, but those witnesses will have told the flics I was injured in the crash. All the hospitals and surgeries will have been alerted.
But I’m probably going to get worse if I don’t get any treatment. The pain’s bad enough, but who knows what else might be going on inside me?
Doctors, that’s who.
And mothers, Paul-Philippe.
I don’t know anyone else here who could help me out till I get a bit better. And even in Marseilles there’s nobody I could trust. They’d ask too many questions, and then start shooting their mouths off or blackmailing me for a big share of all the cash they think I now have — hah! — in return for their silence and the services of some back-street quack ...
Well, I can’t stay in this black hole any longer, that’s for sure. That will give me no options for treatment or care if things get a lot worse. I’d better go straight back to Marseilles. I’ve got a week left before I need to pay another month’s rent. A week to decide what to do next, with a bit of sunlight coming into my room again.
I’ll need to dump the guns soon. Where? In Nice? Huh! No way am I strolling around these streets in this condition. It’ll have to be Marseilles, dammit! So, I’ll need to arrive there late this evening, pick up a cab near the station, and get it to stop a few minutes’ walk away from the apartment. Then I can drop off my suitcase, take another cab down to the port, lose the guns one by one in the water, and get another cab back.
I’ll need to wait till after dark before I leave here. So I’ll catch the seven-thirty train. And I’ll have to get changed into different clothes first, even though doing that’s going to be very painful. Then I can safely walk the few metres up to Boulevard Gambetta and get a cab round to the station. It’s not very far, but I can’t go all that way on foot, with this case to carry. Even though it’s a lot lighter than I’d planned.
And I daren’t buy a sandwich here, even though I’m starving and feeling even weaker. I’ll have to wait and pick up something in Marseilles, when I’ve finished the business at the port. And maybe even find a late-night bazaar and get in some food for the next few days. Then I’ll be able to hole up while I think things through.
Can’t really risk buying a newspaper here either. Perhaps I’ll be able to take a peek at a front page at the station, or find one lying around on the train. I really do need to know what’s been happening since the crash. And especially whether they caught Narone with the money ...
Elsewhere in Nice
Tuesday 24 November, 9 p.m.
So the evening paper has picked up a bit more information. I wonder how much of it has been confirmed? There’s no news of any more cash being found. Or Ruford himself. Where the hell is he hiding? Maybe he’s laying low in his digs in Nice. Or maybe he’s decided to get out of town for a while — or longer.
Was he injured in the crash? And has he already managed to hide the rest of the money where we agreed, or has he kept it with him? It’s impossible to know, right now. I’ll have to be patient and keep my eyes and ears open ...
But what about the getaway driver they caught this morning? Arthur Narone. I shan’t be able to get to him, of course, even if I wanted to take the risk of revealing myself — he’ll be stuck in a police cell or up at the Maison d’Arrêt until he goes to trial. But the newspaper says his girlfriend’s a singer in an Old City club. They obviously haven’t managed to dredge up her name yet.
Well, I must give Ruford a bit of slack, in the circumstances. But if he doesn’t make contact in the next couple of weeks, I may have to find some way of getting Narone’s young lady friend to help me. But again, that could mean showing my face. And I really didn’t want to have to do that. Ever.
This is not going to be easy.
Rue Marengo, Marseilles
Tuesday 24 November, 11:30 p.m.
Finished at last! Guns dumped in the harbour. Enough food and drink here for at least a week. No sign of Norbert and his deaf old wife — but they’ll have been in bed for at least an hour, anyway. And no other inquisitive neighbours popping out to ask where I’ve been for the past eight weeks!
But I can’t put up with the pain in my chest much longer. I’ll take two more aspirin and hope I can get a bit of sleep tonight, without any damned trains to disturb me. Then tomorrow I’m going to have to make some big decisions.
’Cos it’s all gone to pot now. Good job I found those newspapers on the train. I don’t give a damn about Irvoise or Aignant. But Narone arrested as well, in his own apartment?? How the hell did he let that happen? There’s no mention of the money, though. Just the single wad he was carrying. Not the two I gave him, just one ...
But if he managed to hide the other one, then he must have hidden the bag as well. Maybe in the same place. And somewhere other than his apartment, of course.
Unless someone stole it from him, or he gave it away to his mates, or the police have ...
Pah! I can’t worry about all the things that might have happened to it! Stupid! I’ve got to assume he did just what I told him to, and then got careless. Or maybe the poor sod was shopped by Irvoise. That wouldn’t surprise me.
But I can’t contact Narone and recover the money now, can I? And maybe not for years. So much for emigrating with nearly twelve million balles — or a lot more if I’d decided not to share any of it with Xérus!
Merde! I’d almost forgotten about Xérus. He must be feeling really happy too. And he said he knows where I live, didn’t he?
I’d better look on the bright side. At least I took nine of the wads, and I still have some of his advance left. Best part of five million altogether. I just need to decide where I should go, pronto, to enjoy it in peace ... or maybe to pay some doctor a lot of money to keep his mouth shut and save my life.
Gotta try and sleep now .......
Wait a minute! The paper mentioned Narone’s girlfriend. Surely he didn’t leave the money bag with her?
Well, even if he did, it’s going to be a while before I can get back to Nice and track her down to ask her myself.
Oh, why the hell can’t I get to sleep? I need some more aspirin ...
To be continued ...
Copyright © 2012 by Michael E. Lloyd