The Brethren - Page 38

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Chapter Thirty-Eight

They left the hotel on foot, without escorts, without restrictions, but with their pardons in their pockets, just in case. And though the sun was warmer near the beach, the air was certainly lighter. The sky was dearer. The world was pretty again. Hope filled the air. They smiled and laughed at almost anything. They strolled along Atlantic Boulevard, and mixed easily with the tourists.


Lunch was steak and beer at a sidewalk cafe, under an umbrella, so they could watch the foot traffic. Little was said as they ate and drank. Everything was seen, though, especially the younger ladies in shorts and skimpy tops. Prison had turned them into old men. Now they felt the urge to party.


Especially Hadee Beech. He'd had wealth and status and ambition, and as a federal judge he'd had what was all but impossible to lose-a lifetime appointment. He'd fallen hard, lost everything, and during his first two years at Trumble he'd existed in a state of depression. He had accepted the fact that he would die there, and he'd seriously considered suicide. Now, at the age of fifty-six, he was emerging from the darkness in a rather splendid fashion. He was fifteen pounds lighter, nicely tanned, in good health, divorced from a woman who had money but not much else to offer, and about to collect a fortune. Not a bad middle-aged rally, he told himself. He missed his children, but they'd followed the money and forgotten about him.


Hadee Beech was ready for some fun.


Spicer was also looking for a party, preferably one at a casino. His wife had no passport, so it would be a few weeks before she could join him in London, or wherever he might land. Did they have casinos in Europe? Beech thought so.Yarber had no idea, and didn't care.


Finn was the most reserved of the three. He drank a soda instead of beer, and he wasn't as interested in the flesh passing by Finn was already in Europe. He'd never leave, never return to his native land. He was sixty, very fit, now with lots of money, and was about to bum around Italy and Greece for the next ten years.


Across the street, they found a small bookstore and bought several travel books. In a shop specializing in beachwear, they found just the right sunglasses.Then it was time to see Jack Argrow again, and finish the deal.


Klockner and company watched them stroll back to the Sea Turtle. Klockner and company were weary of Neptune Beach and Pete's and the Sea Turtle and the crowded rental. Six agents, including Chap and Wes, were still there, all very anxious for another assignment. The unit had discovered the Brethren, plucked them from inside Trumble, brought them to the beach, and now they just wanted them to leave the country.


Jack Argrow had not touched the files, or at least they appeared untouched. They were still wrapped in the pillowcase, on the sofa, in the exact spot Spicer had left them.


"The wire is under way;'Argrow said as they settled into his suite.


Teddy was still watching from Langley. The three were now wearing all manner of beach garb. Yarber had a fishing cap with a six-inch bill. Spicer had a straw hat and a yellow tee shirt of some variety Beech, the Republican, wore khaki shorts, a knit pullover, and a golf cap.


There were three large envelopes on the dining table. Argrow handed one to each of the Brethren. "Inside, you'll find your new identities. Birth certificates, credit cards, Social Security cards."


"What about passports?" askedYarber.


"We have a camera set up in the next room. The passports and driver's licenses will need photos. It'll take thirty minutes. There's also five thousand dollars cash in those small envelopes there."


"I'm Harvey Moss?" Spicer asked, looking at his birth certificate.


"Yes.You don't like Harvey?"


"I guess I do now"


"You look like a Harvey," Beech said.


"And who are you?"


"Well, I'm James Nunley."


"Nice to meet you, James. "


Argrow never cracked a smile, never relaxed for a second. "I need to know your travel plans. The people in Washington really want you out of the country."


"I need to check flights to London;'Yarber said.


"We've already done that. A flight to Atlanta leaves Jacksonville in two hours. At seven-ten tonight, there's a flight leaving Atlanta for London Heathrow that arrives early tomorrow morning."


"Can you get me a seat?"


"It's already done. First class."


Finn closed his eyes and smiled.


"And what about you?" Argrow asked, looking at the other two."


"I kinda like it here;" Spicer said.


"Sorry. We have a deal."


"We'll take the same flights tomorrow;" Beech said. "Assuming all goes well with Mr.Yarber."


"Do you want us to handle the reservations?"


"Yes, please."


Chap eased into the room without making a sound, and took the pillowcase from the sofa. He left with the files.


"Let's do the photos,"Argrow said.


Finn Yarber, now traveling as a Mr. William McCoy of San Jose, California, flew to Atlanta without incident. For an hour he walked the concourses of the airport, rode the underground shuttles, and thoroughly enjoyed the frenzy and chaos of being in the midst of a million people in a hurry.


His first-class seat was a massive leather recliner. After two glasses of champagne, he began to drift, and to dream. He was afraid to sleep because he was afraid to wake up. He was certain he would be back on his top bunk, staring at the ceiling, counting off another day at Trumble.


From a pay phone next to Beach Java, Joe Roy finally caught his wife. At first, she thought the call was a hoax and refused to accept the collect charges: "Who is this?" she asked.


"It's me, dear. I'm no longer in prison."


"Joe Roy?"


"Yes, now listen. I'm out of prison, okay. Are you there?"


"I think so.Where are you?"


"I'm staying at a hotel near Jacksonville, Florida. I was released from prison this morning."


"Released? But how-"


"Don't ask, okay. I'll explain everything later. I'm leaving tomorrow for London. I want you to go to the post office first thing in the morning, and get an application for a passport."


"London? Did you say London?"


"Yes."


"England?"


"That's it, yes. I have to go there for a while. It's part of the deal."


"For how long?"


"A couple of years. Listen, I know it's hard to believe, but I'm free and were gonna live abroad for a couple of years."


"What kinda deal? Have you escaped,Joe Roy? You said it'd be easy to do."


"No. I have been released."


"But you got more than twenty months to go."


"Not anymore. Listen, get the application for a passport and follow the instructions."


"Why do I need a passport?"


"So we can meet in Europe."


"For two years?"


"Yes, that's it."


"But Mother's sick. I can't just run off and leave Mother."


He thought of all the things he'd like to say about her mother, then let it pass. A deep breath, a glance down the street. "I'm going away," he said. "I have no choice."


"Just come home;" she said.


"I can't. I'll explain it later."


"An explanation would be nice."


"I'll call you tomorrow"


Beech and Spicer ate seafood in a restaurant crowded with people much younger. They roamed the sidewalks and eventually found their way to Pete's Bar and Grill, where they watched the Braves and enjoyed the noise.


Finn was somewhere over the Atlantic, following their money.


The customs agent at Heathrow barely glanced at Finn's passport, which was a marvel of forgery. It was well used and had accompanied Mr. William McCoy around the world. Aaron Lake did indeed have powerful friends.


Finn took a taxi to the Basil Street Hotel in Knightsbridge, and paid cash for the smallest room available. He and Beech had selected the hotel at random from a travel guide. It was an old-fashioned place, filled with antiques, and it rambled from floor to floor. At the small restaurant upstairs, he had breakfast of coffee, eggs, and black sausage, then went for a walk. At ten, his taxi stopped in front of the Metropolitan Trust in The City. The receptionist didn't care for his attire-jeans and a pullover-but when she realized he was an American she shrugged and seemed to tolerate it.


They made him wait for an hour, but he didn't mind it at all. Finn was nervous, but didn't show it. He'd wait for days, weeks, months to get the money. He'd learned how to be patient. The Mr. MacGregor who was in charge of the wire finally came for him. The money had just arrived, sorry for the delay. All six million bucks had crossed the Atlantic safely, and was now on British soil.


But not for long. "I'd like to wire it to Switzerland," Finn said, with the proper dose of confidence and experience.


That afternoon, Beech and Spicer flew to Atlanta. Like Yarber, they roamed the airport with unrestrained freedom while waiting for their London flight. They sat together in first class, ate and drank for hours, watched movies, tried to sleep as they crossed the ocean.


Much to their surprise, Yarber was waiting when they cleared customs at Heathrow. He delivered the wonderful news that the money had come and gone.


It was hidden in Switzerland. He surprised them again with the idea of leaving immediately.


"They know we're here;" he said over coffee in an airport bar. "Let's shake them."


"You think they're following us?" Beech asked.


"Let's assume they are."


"But why?" Spicer asked.


They discussed it for half an hour, then began looking for flights. Alitalia to Rome caught their attention. First class, of course.


"Do they speak English in Rome?" Spicer asked as they were boarding.


"Actually, they speak Italian,"Yarber said.


"You think the Pope will see us?"


"He's probably busy"


***



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