"Having a drink over there on the seafront. He can see everything from where he is. The Italians have taken pictures, so weve got a complete gallery back at his place."
"Hes too far away. Get him nearer." Harland couldnt help showing his irritation.
Harp turned to him." Come on, Bobby, were all doing this for the love of it and you. Jays taken leave to help out and Cuth Avocets given up a week on the Tweed. "
"Its an official operation."
"I know, I know. Still, you cant deny that the Office hasnt exactly given you all the support you need."
Harland said nothing. Was it that obvious?
"Ah, Ive got Jay," said Harp a few moments later." Hes lurking in one of the ruined sheds in the centre of the pier. You see him?"
"Right . . . look, I appreciate you giving your time, Macy, but I want you to understand that this does have the chief s blessing. Its very important. Could save a lot of lives."
"Im sure youre right, Bobby," said Harp amenably. He looked around and sniffed the air. "Christ, this place smells. What the hell was stored in here?"
"Hides. Uncured leather, I imagine."
Harp looked around. "You know the port machinery was entirely powered by water? Every crane, pulley, lift was powered by compressed water. Hydrodynamic power. Bloody amazing what they got up to in the nineteenth century."
"Yes," said Harland without interest. "Are we certain Rosenharte didnt make any calls from his hotel phone once he had found the note?" "Cant be sure," said Harp. "We know the place is crawling with Stasi and theyre likely to have set up a way of communicating with him without us knowing. The hotel is not the easiest place to watch."
"I bloody well hope they dont think were here. The idea is that its just Annalise. If they get any hint of us were finished."
Harp nodded. "Tell me about chummy down there. How come hes going to meet a woman he knows is dead?"
"Because the Stasi have forced him."
"But why didnt he tell them she was dead?"
"Because he couldnt not back in 1974 and especially not now. Suffice to say we put him in — "
"An impossible position. I see that, but how the girls death? Was he compromised? Has he been working for you?"
Harland remained motionless behind his binoculars.
"Theres something Im not getting," said Harp.
"Thats right, Macy." He wasnt about to tell him everything, and anyway it was far too complicated.
Harp nodded. He knew better than to press the point." Christ, Im not sure how long I can take this smell."
Rosenharte caught sight of the man with the straw hat issuing from a ruined building on his right and coming down the pier towards him. Rosenharte slowed, then stopped and pressed the little button on the side of the device taped to his chest. The man was weaving like a drunk. As he got closer Rosenharte was able to get a measure of him. The little round beer paunch and poorly cut suit jacket unambiguously announced a citizen of the German Democratic Republic. His gaze was fixed on Rosenharte and there was little doubt that he was making straight for him. For a few seconds he expected some kind of violence, but then the man seemed to stumble, clutched at his thorax and cursed before brushing off the hat and rushing the few feet to where Rosenharte was standing. At the last moment he tried to dodge out of his path, but the man lunged to the right, snatched at his shirt and gripped it with such force that Rosenharte instinctively lashed out. The man looked aghast, and only then did Rosenharte understand that the face below him was contorted with pain and fear. He kept putting one hand to his throat and was searching wildly about him. A part of Rosenharte registered disgust at his breath and the foam that had gathered at the corners of his mouth, but he gripped him by the shoulders and told him in German to be still and he would try and find him some help. As he said it, he took in a lined brow beaded with sweat, two indentations on the nose where a pair of spectacles habitually rested, a filthy, frayed shirt collar and a days growth of stubble. He shook him, looked into his eyes there was no malevolence in the expression, merely panic and told him again that he must help himself by calming down. He tried his halting Italian, but reverted to German and lowered his voice.
Excerpted from The Brandenberg Gate, (c) 2006 Henry Porter. Reproduced with permission of Grove Atlantic. All rights reserved.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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