A Work Day

A Work Day

The year was 1997. The Assassin was on the trail of a Greek financier, George Pakos, who was hell-bent on bankrupting Thailand. Whereas the Swiss had no particular love of Thai culture or cuisine, the stability of the Thai economy was of interest to a lot of bankers in the western world. Not only was it essential to the political stability of the region, but a surprising amount of Thais had a surprising amount of money invested in European banks.

Of those European banks a substantial amount arrived in Switzerland, usually via Amsterdam. Connections between Bangkok and Amsterdam were already well established courtesy of the drug trade. Drugs came down from the Laos, Burma, Thai golden triangle and filtered down to Bangkok, where they were packaged and shipped at the port of Amsterdam, Europe’s premier distribution centre. A fair proportion of the money realised, then made its way to secret Swiss bank accounts, before making its way onward to another distribution system in Singapore. Needless to say an entirely reasonable percentage of any monies passing through the Swiss system tended to stay there.

Lately, however the stability needed for this trade to continue was under threat, largely due to the activities of one man: George Pakos. Pakos was a  currency dealer who  looked for holes in the markets, particularly the financial markets; under the guise of helping 3rd world countries, he raped them.

The Assassin was back in London. Not his most favourite country in the world but civilised to a degree. He was, as always, dressed for the occasion. English Brogues (he’d learned to dress from the shoes up in this country),  Saville Row suit (dark though not black – he wasn’t a funeral director), Oxford weave french-blue shirt and a dark blue silk tie (only idiots and foreigners pretended they were in the Guards) tied in a classic four-in-hand knot (… never trust anyone with a Windsor knot – what!).

As the assassin entered the building, he was directed to a security check, from which several innocuous looking security guards were glaring in his general direction. As harmless as the guards looked, he knew for a fact that the Heckler and Koch semi-automatics would not be far away (at last, something in common with Switzerland, he thought). He presented his passport to the guard and stepped through the metal-detector.

Thanks to the I.R.A., London had long been a security-conscious city, with citizens constantly being reminded not to leave their baggage unattended. The British police took this very seriously and would actually blow-up any unattended bags in a controlled explosion.

Although the British press had recently been speculating that this might be why so many fugitives felt safe here,  the assassin knew well that it had more to do with the British visa system. Always wanting to be seen by the rest of the world as fair (a somewhat ironic hang-over from days of empire), the British allowed  pretty much any Tom, Dick or deposed dictator with the equivalent of a million pounds to purchase an “enterprise” visa and, provided they hadn’t been convicted of genocide in an internationally recognised (i.e. British or American) court, they could stay for 1-5 years “investigating opportunities for investment”. (Buying an English football team seemed to be the current ‘premier’ choice of today’s investment gangsters.).

As the check on the his I.D. proved positive and the readout from the scanner negative, the assassin was allowed in the lobby proper, and moved quickly to the bank of elevators He joined the small group of men milling around (despite the English reputation for queuing, he’d found that they didn’t mostly bother unless they had too –  but then the English never did anything until they had to). They all had to wait almost 6 minutes and, to a man, everyone stared straight ahead at the ThyssenKrupp Elevator sign (it was no surprise to the assassin that an elevator made in the Netherlands would be late.)

The lift issued out into a corridor straight out of the 1930’s, although whether by design or neglect the assassin wasn’t sure.  The only sound at all was the hum of an air conditioning unit (which in England was more exotic than a palm tree).

As he neared the end of the corridor he saw that what he had taken to be a window was actually a back projection unit (he’d have to be careful here). He bore left into a wide reception area, at the far end of which sat a blonde looking as though she was expecting trouble and didn’t much care for it. As he approached her desk she ceased stroking her keyboard and  a pair of grey eyes looked in his direction, seeing nothing. She was dressed for work, but only if  she happened to work here: an oyster  Chanel suit, no shirt and no bra.  Her skin was milk and roses. The vanity panel on the desk covered her legs but they ended in stilettos which looked like they could underline a point.

He announced himself as Herr Schlafen (a nice touch, he thought). An appointment had been made – yes Mr Packos is expecting you but you are a little early? Perhaps some coffee. The assassin lowered himself gingerly onto a small leather settee. The English so enjoyed their trick furniture and the unwary visitor was never sure if he was about to knee himself in the face or slide on his ass. As it was, the furniture just supported his weight and was quiet about it.

The blonde appeared from nowhere (what was wrong with him?). She was bearing a tray on which was placed a single cup, saucer and small cafetière. As she leant forward to place the tray on the table, her jacket opened just enough to reveal a curve.

The assassin rose to meet her, whilst extracting a long, ceramic needle from the sleeve of his jacket. In one swift, practiced  motion he pushed the needle into the grey eye and straight into her brain. He withdrew the needle and moved towards the office door.

(Tim Shreeve)

For earlier exploits of The Assassin click here

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