Commissioner Conroy strode across the room to welcome his visitor. Handshakes over, both men sat, taking their ease in familiar silence at the window overlooking Phoenix Park.
The commissioner waited for his political master.
“O.K. Noel, where are we up to?”
Conroy counted off the points on the fingers of his hand:
“We have total deniability. Miller’s in Spain with the dossier, he’s due back tonight. The decoys left yesterday, they should be in Italy tomorrow…”
“Where are they now?” asked the politician.
“God knows. They flew Ryanair.”
The politician allowed himself a sudden bark of a laugh before seeking his clarification:
“And you’re confident they will sow confusion in the manner that we want?”
“Trust me, that pair could fuck up a game of ludo without trying but we’ll keep kicking their arses in the right direction.” Conroy replied.
There was no laugh this time.
“And the other feller, what’s his name, Hennessy? Does he need anything ? Is there anything I can provide?” asked the politician, now very much, the only Prime Minister in the room.
Conroy, realising too late his earlier freedom, paused to consider his answer:
“He will suffice.”
Hennessy put down the folder, careful not to betray his excitement at the revelations he had just read. He unfolded the black return envelope from the inside cover and following the instructions, put the folder in, then closed and signed the security strip, before pushing it back across the table.
‘So,’ he thought, ‘even Max is out the loop on this one.’
He couldn’t decide if that pleased or disturbed him.
Max stowed the packet away, and as if reading Hennessy’s mind, said:
“I do know this much. Your first stop is The Vatican. You have an appointment tomorrow with Cardinal McShae of their secret service. Be careful of him.”
“What is he? Swiss Guard? Jesuit?” asked Hennessy.
Max shook his head, “K. O. M.”
“Here, take this,” he said, sliding Hennessy a clear plastic wallet of banknotes.
“It’s to be cash all the way from now on. Don’t use a card. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must see a man about a dog.”
Hennessy watched as Max, satchel slung like a bandolier, made his way through the tables to the washroom in the gloomy interior of the bar.
He didn’t come back.
A peal of laughter from the tour group in the corner prompted Hennessy to take a quick professional scan of his fellow patrons. The place was filling up. Mass must be over. The Feast of the Assumption would be in full swing soon.
The tour leader was gathering his group about him. Advising them their bus had arrived to take them back to their ship.
“Dinner dance tonight everyone, and this time tomorrow we’ll be in Italy!“
They all cheered. They had an infectious end of term jollity which only threw into relief what lay before Hennessy. But that path led nowhere so he checked his Bulgari. Still plenty of time. He would catch this evening’s plane to Milan, take the Maserati if Cat hadn’t wrapped it round a tree by now, and he could be in Rome by 2am. On second thoughts, the road to Rome was good, he could catch up with Cat tonight and still be in Rome with time to spare…if he left early enough.
With that thought, he smiled as if for the first time.