Marlowe walked until he found an electronics shop, and paid cash for a cheap disposable mobile phone. Twilight crept into the Paris air as he left the shop and walked along the pavement. The shops were closing their shutters and the focus shifted to the cafes, where people sat outside in the fading light, filling the ashtrays and emptying their glasses. He took a seat in a chair outside a café on a street corner, and ordered a glass of wine from the young waitress. He powered up the phone and looked around as he waited for it to pick up a signal. The café looked out onto a square where several boulevards converged, and the noise of the chatter from those nearest his table could barely be heard over the sound of engines and car horns. He dialled a number from memory and put it to his ear.
After several rings there was a beep, and a deep voice made a grunting sound on the other end of the line.
“Gable?” said Gregor.
There was silence on the other end of the line for a moment.
“Who is this?” said the voice. It was low and guttural.
There was a slight exhalation from the other end, then Gable said “Greg. I didn’t expect to hear from you.”
Marlowe chuckled. “Is that because you thought I’d be hard to reach, or that I’d be dead?”
Gable made a tutting noise. “Come on. Don’t be so crass. You’ve caused a lot of hassle over these last few days. You shouldn’t have run off like that.”
“What else could I do?” Marlowe said. “The message was clear. One fuck up and your gone. I had outlived my usefulness. I didn’t think those men who came to my house that night were going to give me an award.”
“You certainly didn’t give them one either. Those were two good men you killed. If Frank wasn’t gunning for you head before that he certainly was after. Where are you now, Greg?”
Marlowe looked around. A woman near him was talking loudly on her phone, with a cigarette dangling from her fingers. Two men sat sipping beer from jugs next to her. He took a long drink from the wine, letting the silence speak.
“Did you know about it, Gable?”
There was silence for a moment.
“I knew that they were talking about something involving you. I didn’t know what. I guess after the St Petersburg incident they thought you were too much of a risk. Although I don’t think they know where you are now. Frank was up in arms about it during the week.”
“Can you help me?”
Gable paused. “Gregor, you know it’s not that simple. Once Frank decides -”
“You could talk to him, Gable. He’s always listened to you. I’ll even come in. all I ask is that I get a conversation with him. To get my side heard.”
“I can try. But I don’t know how much he’ll listen, if he lets you come in that is.”
“I’ll take my chances. And it will be on my terms. I’m tired of running, Gable. I’m not used to it. Being on the opposite end of it. Tell him I’ll come in, but give me a few days. Let me enjoy walking the streets again without looking over my shoulder constantly. Just to end all this running around.”
“I’ll talk to him,” Gable said. There was a sigh in his voice. “I’m sure he’d prefer it that way too. Give me a few hours. In fact, call me back tomorrow.”
“Thank you.” his tone was sincere. “Just one more thing, Gable.”
“How close are they to me?”
“I don’t know.” His voice had a strange hint to it.
“Really, Greg. I don’t know.”
Marlowe hung up the phone, then switched it off and took out the battery. He caught the eye of the young waitress, and ordered another glass of wine. He sat and thought. And he felt a strange feeling come over him to. Acting, rather than running, felt good. But now he had done it, he felt detached from the outcome, a sort of calm acceptance as if he were watching himself on a screen. The night air had a tinge of finality to it as if something was coming to a close, and there was a quiet satisfaction that he had played his part.
The waitress set another wine in front of him, and he sipped from the glass. The Bordeaux tasted good. He watched the cars pass on the road and felt the air grew colder as the night drew in.
Part 3 coming soon