The Paul & Jenny Stories Pt. 18tbyPAUL C©
Rubies are Red. Part 20.
It was past midnight before we finally managed to find a taxi to take us to our hotel. The airport was full of people. Some looked to be carrying all their worldly possessions with them.
The pilot had informed us just before landing that reports were coming through of renewed fighting south of the capitol. I wish he had told us before we had left. I would have left the others behind and made the trip alone.
Louise's face still held the look of triumph that had spread over it when she had slipped into the middle seat between Heather and myself when we had boarded the plane. It had been a very quiet journey.
I looked around the plane. It was less than half full. There only seemed to be one air-stewardess. I'd hoped there was a full compliment on the flight deck.
At the hotel we booked into our rooms. Our four singles had been changed to two doubles as it were. The duty manager was very sorry but the hotel was full to bursting and we were too tired to argue. There was a message for Louise from Bill. They were to meet at ten the following morning.
We followed a young man who tried to struggle with all our bags at the same time. Howie and I relieved him of some of his load. From the looks on the faces of the people we passed in the corridor on the way you would have thought that they had been turned out for our benefit.
"Who's sharing with whom?" Heather asked as we stopped at the first door the young man opened. "Howie and Louise?"
"I don't think so." Louise replied.
She looked at me. Then everybody looked at everybody else.
"Howie and I will share." I said.
I was tired and yawned.
We ushered Louise and Heather into the first room and I had to give them each a kiss goodnight. The other room was two doors down on the other side of the corridor. It smelled as if somebody had been cooking inside it. I opened the French windows the led onto the small balcony to let in some fresh air. The street outside was still full of people. People in cars and lorries on horseback or leading pack animals. I could hear thunder. No, it wasn't thunder. My anus twitched.
"What is happening?" I asked the young man in Spanish.
He hesitated for a second as if he were trying to translate what I had said into something he could understand.
"There is great fighting. Senor Roddrego's army is sweeping down from the hills behind the government's forces. Many soldiers have given up."
Well I think that was what he said. His version of Spanish was different to that which I had learned during long summer holidays spent in my Grandparents villa just north of Malaga when I had been growing up.
"Many people are running away." He continued. "Where to? There is nowhere else to go."
The young man shrugged his shoulders and walked towards the door.
"You are Mr Wagstaffe?" He turned and asked.
"Yes." I confirmed.
"The other Mr Wagstaffe? You knew him?"
"He's my grandfather."
I wasn't sure I liked the way he spoke of my grandfather in the past tense.
"Do you know where he is?" I continued.
"Si Senor. The ministry for security. I recognised the uniforms."
"I must go there tomorrow."
"Si Senor. I will take you."
"Gracis." I handed him a ten-dollar bill.
His eyes opened wide and his face lit up with a broad grin.
"We have your grandfathers things and Senor Roddrego's. I will bring then to you."
The young man seemed to skip out of the room leaving our key on the top of a chest of drawers. Within two minutes there was a knock on the door and he returned carrying three heavy looking bags.
He lined them up beside the door and took his leave.
"Well." Howie said placing his suitcase on the top of one of the beds and opening it. "I t looks as if you and Louise have enough to keep you busy tomorrow. What should Heather and I do?"
He looked up at me.
"You and Heather? Are you serious about her?"
"No." I replied. "She just sort of talked her way into everything."
"And you are not serious about Louise either?"
That was more a statement than a question.
"I like Louise."
"She's my sister and she has been through a lot."
"I know." Why did I feel like a guilty schoolboy?
"I don't want her to get hurt again."
"Nobody does." I agreed.
Here was a man who'd fuck anything that moved despite being married himself lecturing me.
"Louise understands." I continued.
He'd got me there. No she wouldn't. She would feel hurt and let down. She wouldn't do it herself.
I had to get a grip of myself. But how to do it without hurting the girls' feelings? The answer might be staring me in the face.
"I need your help."
I looked at my face in the dressing table mirror as I brushed my hair. I didn't like who looked back at me. Not just the appearance of puffy eyes from too much crying. I hated myself.
I wanted Paul.
But would he still want me?
I hadn't even enjoyed it. Well, it hadn't been horrible but just not nice. Or not as nice as it could have been.
It didn't take him long to come. That was a relief. He was bigger than Paul was down there and it had hurt at first. I supposed my reaction afterwards had spoilt it for him. But I hadn't wanted to talk about it. What was there to talk about anyway? 'You'd wanted to fuck me and now you have. Well done.'
I suppose I had been a bit of a cow towards Ron. I had tried to convince myself the previous night as I had drank my wine that he had taken me against my will. But in all truth he hadn't. He had been fairly gentle for a big man. He was just a little clumsy that was all. Especially when it came to undoing my bra. I smiled into the mirror as I remembered. I thought he was going to break it. Perhaps I should have taken it off for him. No. I couldn't have done that.
Remembering his gasp of surprise when he realised I wasn't wearing any knickers I smiled again. My reflection smiled back.
I didn't suppose he had a very happy sex life with his wife. Maybe that was why he came so quickly. He would probably have lasted longer if he stayed to do it a second time.
What was I thinking?
I replaced the receiver. There was no chance of getting a call through to England or America. I looked at my watch. It would be six in the morning in England. Jenny may even be up if she couldn't sleep because of her exam.
There was a horn beeping on a car in the street below. Some glass broke somewhere and I heard somebody scream.
I looked at Howie who had just come out of the bathroom wearing light blue pyjamas.
I did bring a pair myself but I hadn't had a chance to wear them before now.
I heard what sounded like a car backfire outside. I looked at Howie.
"I think the girls had better stay in here with us tonight." I suggested.
More backfiring then a whining sound like I heard when a bullet ricocheted. There were people screaming in the street below.
"I think you are right." Howie said in agreement and walked towards the door.
He lifted one of the suitcases to one side.
"Heavy." He commented.
He opened the door and looked out into the corridor. He stepped out and I followed.
There was the sound of a large clap of thunder in the distance. Then another, much closer this time.
Opposite the door to a room stood ajar and a man stood peering out.
"What's going on?" He asked.
I could see a woman of around forty years of age and two young girls sitting together on one of the beds.
"I don't know." I said. "I suggest you lock your door and stay inside. I'm sure somebody will tell us soon if there is anything to worry about."
One of the girls on the bed smiled at me and I smiled back.
Howie was already at the door of Louise and Heather's room. He spoke into the door and it was quickly opened. The girls rushed out and both ran to me. I put an arm around each. The girl on the bed didn't seem too pleased by the look on her face just as the man closed the door. I heard the lock turn.
There was a woman screaming somewhere in the hotel. Then it stopped.
We went back into our room and closed the door behind us. Howie locked it and pulled the dressing table across it with my help.
There was the sound of gunfire in the street below and more screaming. I went to the window with Louise by my side. I suppose she had to look being a reporter.
People were cowering in doorways and alleyways. There were six bodies lying in the road that I could see from where I stood. Louise lifted her camera and took a picture. Then she moved her position and took two more.
There was a sudden burst of firing and more screaming. This time it sounded as if it came from inside the hotel.
I saw a group of men emerge from the hotel entrance below me. One was dragging a young woman behind him. She was blond. Wearing her nightdress. She was screaming.
"Hey. You let her go." I shouted.
The men look up at me and one raised his arm. I had the sense to duck down as he fired. One of the panes of glass in the French windows shattered.
Louise placed her arm about my shoulders.
"Are you alright?" She asked.
"Sure." I replied with what I hoped was a reassuring smile.
I was trembling a little. I looked into her face. She looked worried.
"Hey." I said. "We'll be alright."
I raised my head but the men and the woman had gone.
"We need something we can use as a weapon." Howie said.
I looked around. Nothing.
"Let's try in these." I suggested crossing the room to where grandfather and Roddrego's suitcases lay.
I picked up the one that Howie had said was particularly heavy. It was. I recognised it as being one of my grandfathers. My father had one the same. I could never remember them using them. Neither my grandfather or father had talked much about their wartime exploits but I did remember one of then mentioning a suitcase. But I did remember my father once showing an excited young man a great secret.
I laid it on the first bed and opened the clasps. It wasn't locked. Well if he had left in a hurry I don't supposed he had had time to pack it himself.
I picked up the first layers of clothing inside. They had been folded neatly and laid out flat. The hotel staff must have done it. I could see the young man doing it. There was a tone of affection in his voice when he had talked of my grandfather.
More clothes and a pair of stout boots. I placed everything on the bed and lifted the empty suitcase. It still felt heavy. On the other bed Howie had already emptied the contents of one suitcase and was starting on the second. The girls were sifting through the contents.
"What's up?" Howie asked turning his suitcase upside down and letting the contents fall onto the bed.
"Still feels heavy." I explained.
The base where the hinges were did look thicker than normal.
The whole suitcase was very solidly made. It was extra thick in the top and bottom as well as in the base. How had he opened it? I remembered. There was a thin pin embedded in the leather at one end of the base. If you found it and slid it out then, with difficulty, you could slide out a thin strip of leather covered metal.
The others had gathered around me and one of them, Louise I think, gasped as I pulled out the narrow strip of metal to reveal the cavity below. I took out two bundles of currency rolled tight and secured with a rubber band each. Then two boxes of what looked like pistol ammunition. .38 cal it said on the box. The writing was faded.
The metal pins were longer in the sheets of metal that hid the cavities in the top and bottom of the suitcase. I soon found them and slid them out. In the top compartment there was a short nosed revolver, a black Balaclava helmet and a pair of black, thin, silken gloves and the hollowed out wooden butt of a weapon.
In the bottom I found the barrel, working parts and two long thin magazines of a sub-machine gun. I had seen one like this before in an old Black and White British film about the Second World War. Agents going behind enemy lines had carried them.
A thought occurred to me. If my grandfather had had this in his possession when Linda was being raped in the old Barn then why had my father only brought grandfather's old, empty, First World War revolver with him when he attempted his rescue?
Perhaps they weren't my grandfather's after all. That would leave my father.
I picked up the revolver and pressed down on the catch that allowed the chamber to swing out. I opened one of the boxes of ammunition. It wasn't full. Somebody had stuffed some cotton wool into one end to prevent the bullets from rattling. I took out one bullet to feed it into a chamber. It fitted. I filled the other chambers, slipped the cylinder back into place and set the safety catch.
Howie had picked up parts of the other weapon and was screwing the barrel into place. Next he picked up the wooden butt.
"How does this fit?" He asked. "Ah. It's ok. I see."
There was a screw sticking out of the rear of the body of the weapon and he screwed the butt into place. The whole weapon, when assembled was approximately thirty inches long. Howie worked the cocking handle back and forth a few times then looked at the small switch just below it.
"S. R. A." He read out.
I knew what they meant.
"Safe. Repetition or single shot. The A is for automatic."
"Vicious looking weapon." Howie commented handing it to me and picking up one of the magazines and starting to load it.
I stuck the revolver into the waistband of my trousers and took the sub-machine-gun in my hands and turned it over and back examining it.
Heather watched what Howie was doing and followed suit while Louise opened the second box of ammunition.
"Where did they get this from?" Louise asked. "And the suitcase. It was made for it."
"I think it was left over from the last war." I said. "My great uncle Alistair headed a small team in counter intelligence. Both my grandfather and father were part of it. So was Michael de Vane and Roddrego occasionally."
"That's something else to talk to your grandfather about." Louise held out the box of ammunition for the others.
"Fifteen bullets in a magazine." Howie said. "What do you prefer, Paul?"
I handed the SMG back to Howie.
"You have that." I replied.
I wasn't very good with a pistol let alone anything any bigger.
"Easier to hide when I go out tomorrow."
"You take these then." Howie handed me the remaining bullets.
The sound of a car horn in the distance could be heard through the windows. Then the sound of tyres squealing and gunfire.
Suddenly the lights in the hotel went out. I heard some women screaming in another part of the hotel. Perhaps in shock at the sudden darkness.
The room was slowly lit by a soft glow from outside. I moved to the first bed and started throwing my grandfather's things back into his suitcase. The rolls of currency I placed into the breast pockets of my shirt.
I looked at the luminous dial on my watch. It would be seven o'clock in England. Jenny would be up by now, getting ready for college.
I wondered what had happened to the blond woman they had dragged across the street. Had they raped her? Had some of the screams in the night belonged to her? Would she be alive in the morning? Would she want to be?
There are rules for fighting most wars, my grandfather had told me once. Civil wars had no rules and were the worst kind of wars.
I picked up the phone extension by the side of the bed and sat down.
"Hello." I said.
There was a silence at the other end before I heard somebody clear their throat.
Ron sounded depressed.
"Hello." I repeated, putting a little more warmth into my voice.
"I didn't know if I should ring you or not." He rushed that sentence. "I wasn't sure you would want to hear from me again after yesterday."
Here was my chance. I could end it here.
"That's alright." I found myself saying.
"You don't mean that."
"I do. I'm not a child. It happened and it can't be undone."
"I am sorry."
"Why." I snapped, I was starting to get angry. "You wanted to didn't you?"
"But what? Didn't you like it."
"I did. I didn't think that you wanted me to in the end."
"I didn't stop you did I?"
"I must have wanted to then."
There was complete silence from the other end. Why was I being such a cow? He'd fucked me and was ringing up to make sure I was all right about it. If I hadn't told him to leave when I had we would have had this conversation the previous evening.
"I'm sorry." I said. "I'm always crotchety in the mornings."
"You mean you are all right about what happened?"
"Yes. I said so didn't I?"
Don't get angry. Calm down. It was nice of him to ring. A lot of men would have taken their oats and run.
"It was sweet of you to ring. But I am a big girl."
"You are a lovely girl."
"Don't be daft."
I could feel his lips on mine. His fingers fumbling with my bra.
"Can I see you again?"
Wow. I hadn't been expecting that.
"Hmm." I was at a loss for words. "I... I don't know."
"What time will you be back this afternoon?"
"I will be back for two."
Why did I tell him that?
"I want to see you. But not if you do not want me to."
He was being too nice.
"I have to go." He hissed. "I'll be there at two."
There was a short silence.
"Jenny." He said softly.
"Alright." I replied and heard the click as he put the phone down.
Damn. Damn. Damn.