Robert Wilson: The Hidden Assassins

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Robert Wilson The Hidden Assassins
  • Название:
    The Hidden Assassins
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  • Жанр:
    Триллер / на английском языке
  • Язык:
    Английский
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The Hidden Assassins: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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Robert Wilson


The Hidden Assassins

Prologue

The West End, London-Thursday, 9th March 2006

'So, how's your new job going?' asked Najib.

'I work for this woman,' said Mouna. 'She's called Amanda Turner. She's not even thirty and she's already an account director. You know what I do for her? I book her holidays. That's what I've been doing all week.'

'Is she going somewhere nice?'

Mouna laughed. She loved Najib. He was so quiet and not of this world. Meeting him was like coming across a palmerie in the desert.

'Can you believe this?' she said. 'She's going on a pilgrimage.'

'I didn't know English people went on pilgrimages.'

Mouna was, in fact, very impressed by Amanda Turner, but she was much keener to receive Najib's approbation.

'Well, it's not exactly religious. I mean, the reason she's going isn't.'

'Where is this pilgrimage?'

'It's in Spain near Seville. It's called La Romeria del Rocio,' said Mouna. 'Every year people from all over Andalucia gather together in this little village called El Rocio. On something called the Pentecost Monday, they bring out the Virgin from the church and everybody goes wild, dancing and feasting, as far as I can tell.'

'I don't get it,' said Najib.

'Nor do I. But I can tell you the reason Amanda's going is not for the parading of the Virgin,' said Mouna. 'She's going because it's one big party for four days-drinking, dancing, singing-you know what English people are like.'

Najib nodded. He knew what they were like.

'So why has it taken you all week?' he asked.

'Because the whole of Seville is completely booked up and Amanda has loads, I mean loads, of requirements. The four rooms have all got to be together…'

'Four rooms?'

'She's going with her boyfriend, Jim "Fat Cat" Maitland,' said Mouna. 'Then there's her sister and her boyfriend and two other couples. The guys all work in the same company as Jim-Kraus, Maitland, Powers.'

'What does Jim do in his company?'

'It's a hedge fund. Don't ask me what that means,' said Mouna. 'All I know is that it's in the building they call the Gherkin and…guess how much money he made last year?'

Najib shook his head. He made very little money. So little it wasn't important to him.

'Eight million pounds?' said Mouna, dangling it as a question.

'How much did you say?'

'I know. You can't believe it, can you? The lowest paid guy in Jim's company made five million last year.'

'I can see why they would have a lot of requirements,' said Najib, sipping his black tea.

'The rooms have all got to be together. They want to stay a night before the pilgrimage, and then three nights after, and then a night in Granada, and then come back to Seville for another two nights. And there's got to be a garage, because Jim won't park his Porsche Cayenne in the street,' said Mouna. 'Do you know what a Porsche Cayenne is, Najib?'

'A car?' said Najib, scratching himself through his beard.

'I'll tell you what Amanda calls it: Jim's Big Fuck Off to Global Warming.'

Najib winced at her language and she wished she hadn't been so eager to impress.

'It's a four-wheel drive,' said Mouna, quickly, 'which goes a hundred and fifty-six miles an hour. Amanda says you can watch the fuel gauge going down when Jim hits a hundred. And you know, they're taking four cars. They could easily fit in two, but they have to take four. I mean, these people, Najib, you cannot believe it.'

'Oh, I think I can, Mouna,' said Najib. 'I think I can.' The City of London-Thursday, 23rd March 2006 He stood across the street from the entrance to the underground car park. His face was indiscernible beyond the greasy, fake fur-lined rim of the green parka's hood. He walked backwards and forwards, hands shoved deep down into his pockets. One of his trainers was coming apart and the lace of the other dragged and flapped about the sodden frayed bottom of his faded jeans, which seemed to suck on the wet pavement. He was muttering.

He could have been any one of the hundreds of unseen people drawn to the city to live at ankle height in underground passages, to scuff around on cardboard sheets in shop doorways, to drift like lost souls in the limbo of purgatory amongst the living and the visible, with their real lives and jobs and credit on their cards and futures in every conceivable commodity, including time.

Except that he was being seen, as we are all being seen, as we have all become walkers-on with bit parts in the endlessly tedious movie of everyday life. Often in the early mornings he was the star of this grainy black-and-white documentary, with barely an extra in sight and only the sporty traffic of the early traders and Far East fund managers providing any action. Later, as the sandwich shops opened and the streets filled with bankers, brokers and analysts, his role reverted to 'local colour' and he would often be lost in the date or the flickering numbers of time running past.

Like all CCTV actors, his talent was completely missable, his Reality TV potential would remain undiscovered unless, for some reason, it was perceived that his part was crucial, and the editor of everyday life suddenly realized that he had occupied the moment when the little girl was last seen, or the young lad was led away or, as so often happens in the movies, briefcases were exchanged.

There was none of that excitement here.

The solitary male or female (under the hood not even that was clear) moved in the tide of extras, sometimes with them, sometimes against. He was extra to the extras and, worse than superfluous, he was getting in the way. He did this for hour after hour, week after week, month after…He was only there for a month. For four weeks he muttered and shuffled across the cracks in the pavement opposite the underground car park and then he was gone. Reality TV rolled on without him, without ever realizing that a star of the silent screen had been in its eye for just over 360 hours.

Had there been a soundtrack it would not have helped. Even if a mike had been placed within the horrible greasy hood of the parka it would have clarified nothing. All that would have registered was the mutterings of a marginalized moron, telling himself the colour, model and registration number of apparently random cars and the time they passed his patch of pavement. It was surely the obsessive work of a lunatic.

What sort of sophisticated surveillance equipment would have been able to pick up that the eyes deep inside the darkness of the hood were only choosing cars that went into the underground car park of the building across the street? And even if there was equipment that could have made that connection, would it also have been able to discover that the stream of uninteresting data was being recorded on to the hard disk of a palm-sized dictaphone in the inside pocket of the parka?

Only then would the significance of this superfluous human being have been realized and the editor of everyday life, if he was being attentive that morning, might have sat up in his chair and thought: Here we have a star in the making.

1

Seville-Monday, 5th June 2006, 16.00 hrs

Dead bodies are never pretty. Even the most talented undertaker with a genius for maquillage cannot bring the animation of life back to a corpse. But some dead bodies are uglier than others. They have been taken over by another life form. Bacteria have turned their juices and excretions into noxious gas, which slithers along the body's cavities and under the skin, until it's drum tight over the corruption within. The stench is so powerful it enters the central nervous system of the living and their revulsion reaches beyond the perimeter of their being. They become edgy. It's best not to stand too close to people around a 'bloater'.

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