Anton gave a short wave to Raulf as he drove off and Joe walked across the road. Raulf and Joe had pushed through without stopping, each taking turns driving to reach Zagreb, Croatia and keeping to back roads to meet Anton. Joe was able to get a few catnaps in. It was a chilly morning. Anton stood, arms crossed, legs apart and leaning on the car as Joe approached. He wore a winter coat as well as a beige scarf draped around his neck. "Get in the back," he said, tilting his head toward the car.
Joe walks toward him, "Why?"
"Because I have a disguise for you," Anton stated. Then he added for positive feedback, "You need to look less like you than you do. Though the days' growth of beard is good!"
Joe remembered Anton had a rudimentary idea about spies. He laughed while getting a look at Anton's car. "What's this supposed to be?" Joe asked. He could tell that the car was once a Mercedes even with many parts of other cars on it frankensteined together. By trade, Anton was a car body expert.
Touching the roof tenderly Anton said, "I always wanted to rebuild one of these." He pointed at Joe, adding, "Watch your manners, and don't make fun," then he smiled.
Joe got in the front seat. Anton shrugged and got in. He said, "You know I'm more interested in the motor than I am what it looks like. AND, no one who knows you will suspect you'd be in this car."
"Yeah, you're right. They wouldn't. Should I point out to you that without the mutations it would be worth money."
Ignoring the obvious remark Anton reached in the backseat for a plastic bag. "I bought a few things here for you to try on," and toss the bag at Joe. "So why come to Greece?"
"Cyril has a banking friend he can count on there. And I have something that needs securing," Joe replied, giving his briefcase on the floor a nudge with a foot. "Thirty thousand dollars to prove I'm a traitor."
Anton gave a low whistled.
Joe opened the plastic bag and looked inside. He then glared at Anton and reached inside the bag pulling out a shaggy brown wig, a knit over-sized baggy hat. Then seeing something still lodged in the bottom and pulled out a fake mustache in a fuzzy felt material. Joe pulled out the mustache and placed it over his lip. "You can't be serious," he said.
With a chuckle, his friend said, "My son sent it along to you. He thought you might like to use it. It might stop them from recognizing you with all this surveillance there is around now. Well, from a far anyway, if you are up close you're a dead man," Anton said. "Just look at you. Are you trying to avoid them? You don't even dress the part of a spy. A ball cap, sunglasses, a jacket. You don't even have a rock in your shoe or you'd at least have a limp. You're an idiot thinking what you have on would fool them. The CIA?" Anton shook his head, "You should not be in the spy business. Anyway, you are a good person. Not one of them."
"We avoided main roads when we could. I know what I'm doing. They wouldn't even think I'd been heading for Athens. And, I did tell you this is dangerous being with me," Joe reminded his friend. "If I thought you would talk to anyone I wouldn't have asked you to do this."
"Giannis is a seven-year-old. He's not going to tell anybody who would believe him if he said he knows spies?"
"Marie's son?" Joe asked.
"No, no. I got rid of her. She has an apartment far away from me now. She was too much work," Anton remarked and started the car and it came to life with a nice purr.
"Giannis is Savvina's son. Savvina is a great cook, Joe. A cooler is in the backseat. She's laid out a wonderful feast, albeit it's cold. There's Dolmadakia, you know that's the lamb stuffed grape leaves. Courgette Balls, buttery walnut Baklava and Biral soda pop to drink."
"I need coffee," Joe remarked, putting the fake mustache back in the bag. He put on the knit baggy hat then grabbed the scar from around Anton's neck and draped it around his own. "Tell Giannis the mustache did its job."
"I will tell him you wore it and thank him for you. We will stop for coffee the first chance we get," Anton told him putting the car in gear and looked over at Joe. "Put on the sunglasses and you have an adequate disguise."
Without a word, Joe reached for the seatbelt. As tired as he was it took a few seconds before he said, "Anton, there's no seat belt. What if we hit something? I'll go through the windshield."
"You'd be a goner and have no more worries."
The car took off after three jolts and they zoomed down the road.
Ben emailed Danie the time of Reilly's arrival tomorrow at 6 a.m. her time at Heathrow Airport. Danie was happier than she'd been in months and spent a few hours sightseeing. She'd already taken a ride on the Eye, even though highs scared her. Once on it, Danie was mesmerized by the views. She also toured the Tower of London, Trafalgar Square, St. Paul's Cathedral and Westminister Abbey. And she walked the eclectic streets from King's Road, Portobello Road, not far from the Detective Agency, and Borough Markets. Using an oyster card she traveled through London a few hours a day. She had been regretting her decision to come to England. She felt hope now that she would have Reilly with her. She lied to Ben about where she would be living saying she found a house to rent and leaving out anything about the Rimble Detective Agency. After all, Ben saw her whole move as foolish from the start. She felt sure, now that her confidence was back, she would find a place soon.
Cyril's idea was a godsend. Reilly living at the agency would work out as a temporary solution. The office, or house, really Danie corrected herself was a nice place. It had an eight-foot-high brick wall draped with ivy looking much like her vision of The Secret Garden she read as a child. Climbing roses, the small tea flowers still in blossom, and a few ornamental trees, now without their leaves were along the walls. And two stone benches faced each other across the lawn. The only things missing were an evergreen alcove or two and a couple of standing urns.
"Who takes care of this?" she asked Cyril.
"My wife and I do. You'll meet her went she comes to visit. She is Sir Rimble's assistant. They are at his country estate most of the time," he told her with a shrug. Looking around he added, "I need to rake the leaves soon."
Cyril insisted that she not worry about early mornings. He would feed Reilly and let him out into the garden.
"We should have stopped at my place. We could have rested," Anton said, as he turned from the ferry railing to face Joe on their way back to England. "And you could have worn some of my clothes."
"You have nothing that would fit me. Please let me keep some of my dignity," Joe smirked.
Anton shrugged, miffed. Joe had made him stop at a discount store to buy some clothing. "The bank went well," Anton added.
"Yeah," Joe murmured shutting his eyes to try and sleep from the chaotic drive through Europe. He sat on a bench facing Greece and on their way to Italy. Once there, they would take a train to Paris and another to London. Joe would be back in England within ten hours. What happens after that, Joe could only guess.
"I can't wait to sleep in a bed. I'm sick of cat naps," Joe said.
Anton asked, "You think you're safe now?"
With a chuckle, Joe said, "No, not at all."
"Will it take, my friend?" Anton asked.
Joe opened his eyes and stared at the Greek Coast they were moving away from. Its coastline was getting smaller and smaller. "They have to decide I'm no threat. I don't know if that's even possible."
"Reilly, you are a resilient dog," Cyril said smiling as he sat at his desk. The dog looked up at him from where he lay on the office rug, his tail swaying in agreement. Danie was driven to the airport by Duncan McSherry another detective in the agency to pick up the dog. When Reilly arrived from the airport the dog was unstable on his feet and visibly shaken from the plane ride across the ocean. But the dog was clearly elated at being united with Danie.
Cyril stared at the files laying on the desk without seeing them as he thought about the new editions to the agency, Reilly and Danie, albeit possibly a temporary association. Danie left a little while ago to go back to her hotel. Cyril admitted to himself that when the car pulled up and the huge brown dog got out he was a little concerned. His suit jacket was off and his white shirt sleeves rolled up. A watering can in hand he was showering the pretty autumn flowers in the dark green globe-sized planters which flanked the front door of the same color. He had to admit the animal and owner were both a little anxious for a while. Danie had stayed long enough to make sure that everything was fine between Cyril and the dog. Danie was reluctant to leave saying she'd worry Reilly would be too much for him this being the dog's first night in England. Within a half-hour it was clear they were going to get on like a house on fire and Danie left for the evening.
Cyril's mind turned to the caseload files the office was working on. Chet Burns and Meka Hebib were working on a marital dispute AKA following a cheating spouse. Bo Ramoli was following a teen to make sure she didn't meet with the older man she was infatuated with. Cyril was about to call the mother with a follow up when the phone rang.
Recognizing the number Cyril reached to answer it. "Hello, Sir Jeremy."
"This is to give you a heads up. I tried every which way to stop it but MI6 and the Company are coming over. It looks like they have our Joseph in their sights. They're going to charge him with treason in America. I don't need to tell you you should have things in hand by now. You have to let them in and have a look around," Sir Jeremy finished.
"All right, Sir. Thank you for the heads up there's no problem here," Cyril took a deep breath, "We're ready."
Cyril had not even opened a file when Reilly stood up and began barking marking the arrival of their unwanted guests.
Cyril got up and remarked, "Good boy," while heading for the door.
Opening it, a small army stood out front, behind them, Caminsky himself held up the rear.
"Mr. Caminski, do come in. Good to see you. Sir Jeremy called," Cyril remarked with a smirk opening the door wide.
Caminski followed the others in. One man in a black suit was giving orders. Everyone seemed to ignore the cute dog standing with his tail wagging searching among the stern group marching in looking for a pet.
Seeing the dog's tail slowly lower Cyril bent and petted the dog. "Come on, Reilly," he said walking to the office and the dog obeyed.
Caminski was behind them. "Where is Mathew Locklin," he demanded, using Joe's Company name.
"I don't know. He doesn't live here anymore," Cyril told him watching the young woman going through his desk.
"Since when," Caminski said, now agitated.
Cyril said, "Since we told him we wanted more money to be is Cia cover. And we all know Joe would never be a traitor."
"We have him on tape doing just that. Now, where is he?" Caminski shouted.
Cyril said incredulously, "If you say so. I don't know where he moved to. He packed weeks ago and left."
"Where is your phone," Caminski scoffed.
Cyril nodded toward his desk, "Have fun. Come on, Reilly," he said and headed out of the office, murmuring under his breath, "Shitter!"
In the kitchen, Cyril took Reilly's leash and in a minute they were heading away from the townhouse along the back road.
After about ten minutes Cyril slowed down. "Reilly, since you're new here I should show you around Notting Hill. Just remember, you're young, I have to work up to a long walk."
Five minutes later knowing they were a safe distance away Cyril took out the emergency phone from his pants pocket. Since he showed cooperation Cyril felt sure they wouldn't search him. He called Joe and when he answered, he said, "Caminski's got a warrant and is going through the house right now as we speak. He says he's got you on tape proof of treason."
"No way!" Joe said, "It's doctored whatever they have. Gees! We're heading back to France now."
"Is Anton with you," Cyril asked.
"Yes, he's with me."
Cyril heard Anton shout, "Hello, my friend."
"Ha, tell Anton I said hi back. Where will you go when you get here," Cyril asked.
With exasperation, Joe said, "I don't know. I have to think about it. Anton will come to you. Any suggestions?"
"Nothing I can think of," Cyril put in. "But on a good note young Danie is still at the hotel in room 312. We've been keeping an eye on her. I had a chance..."
A click and Joe was gone. "Bugger," Cyril swore. To the dog, he said, "Well, I didn't get to tell him I met your master. Well, he'll be surprised when he runs into her, and you, boy!"
Read the whole story to date at: https://jdswritersblog.blogspot.com/search/label/Living%20In%20The%20BackUp%20Plan