The cold smooth concrete on his bare feet had at first reassured him—he wriggled his toes, they felt like ice blocks now. Earlier he may have been able to leap off the stool and fight his way out. Now, after standing on the floor, the chill bit up past his ankles. His legs would give way if he tried to move. He licked his lips. His tongue touched on the fabric covering his face; a hood tied off around his neck.
‘We have the rest of your life to wait for an answer, Mr. Stuart. Your CIA friends can’t help you, you know that. You may as well tell us what we want to know.’
John heard water dripping somewhere and realized he needed to piss. He concentrated on anything else he could hear; was that a train? He heard sloshing water —he was somewhere near the river. He still didn’t know who these people were; he also didn’t have any answers to give them. Then a thought; there was one person that could tell them something of what they wanted to know.
John parted his lips and cleared his throat through a bloody mouth. His tongue passed over cracked broken teeth. Two were missing; one at the top next to his front incisor and the other a bottom molar, also on the right.
‘I told you I don’t know.’ He kept his words even.
Footsteps. They were coming at him again. It wouldn’t be fists this time.
‘But I can make sure you get there first and with a little intel, that is, if you do something for me.’
The footsteps stopped.
‘We can’t let you live, Mr. Stuart.’
Agent John Stuart, special operative for the CIA, sitting on a rusted stool in a dark run down building in old Eastern Berlin, had worked this side of Germany since his first assignment as special liaison to the three most powerful and rich men this side of the world.
His real name wasn’t John, nor was his second name Stuart. His passport did not display his true identity or the country he represented. They altered his age to make him appear older. He thought about his real age now, but he wasn’t sure.
John decided to tell the truth. ‘Go to Bar Greenwich on Gipsstraße. You’ll find a man at the back drinking Talisker Scotch from noon to midnight. He’ll have the information about the meeting and the bidders. He’ll also know how high the bidding will go.’
John wondered how much money these men would pay to get their answers—more than the CIA would have coughed up.
A man spoke in German to the rest of the room. John understood every word.
They left shortly after.
Later, they would return and kill him. If they honored his request then it wouldn’t matter, everything would be set in motion for his escape.
Mat Clarke (AUS)