Authors: James G. Skinner
THE THREAT HAS
BECOME A REALITY…
JAMES G SKINNER
Copyright © 2015 James G. Skinner
The moral right of the author has been asserted.
Apart from any fair dealing for the purposes of research or private study, or criticism or review, as permitted under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, this publication may only be reproduced, stored or transmitted, in any form or by any means, with the prior permission in writing of the publishers, or in the case of reprographic reproduction in accordance with the terms of licences issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency. Enquiries concerning reproduction outside those terms should be sent to the publishers.
This novel is a work of fiction. Names and characters are the product of the author’s imagination and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, or otherwise, without the express written consent of James G. Skinner.
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This novel is dedicated to the Spanish civil guards, the local and national police forces and the terrorist victims’ associations who courageously and methodically fight against the European drug trade as well as national and international terrorism
It is also dedicated to the defunct British Consular Network including the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and especially the honoraries that “went the extra mile” to help and assist fellow citizens in distress
There is a special personal dedication to an ex-Vice Consul, Mr Danny Wickham, OBE who gave more than he received
‘The “Teixugo” is a mysterious animal; a type of ferret or ground hog that lives alone; out of sight and out of mind’
- Galician drug lord
‘To kill a snake you must cut off its head and not its tail!’
Pedro was drying off in the shower and was about to scent and powder his body before dressing for breakfast when his wife came bursting into the bathroom. Half dressed and taking deep breaths on each word, she muttered, ‘There’s a woman… outside, screaming…’ Unhooking the hotel bathrobe, he wrapped it around his shoulders and without hesitation rushed out into the corridor. A chambermaid was standing in front of the room opposite, half leaning against her trolley, hollering at the top of her voice. Cleaning liquid spilled on the floor.
‘He’s dead!’ she kept shouting, over and over again in regular overtone spasms.
Pedro pushed her to one side, swung the door wide open and looked inside. A man in his underwear was hanging from the ceiling lamp. It was an early Tuesday morning; the tourist season was a couple of months away.
Stan Bullock, honorary British consul in Vigo, was attending the annual consular conference in Madrid when he received a call on his mobile from his secretary at the Mauro Shipping Agency where he worked.
‘Morning, sir. A police officer, Felipe Garcia, from the Taboada station just called. I told him you’re in Madrid. He says a Brit was found dead in a hotel room; looks like a suicide; says you’ve got the number.’
‘OK, thanks. I’ll take if from here.’
Stan normally allowed his staff to take down any particulars, but when he was out of town he preferred to deal direct with any matters involving a Brit in distress. Checking his emergency numbers he was soon on to the station asking for Lieutenant Garcia. Two hours earlier, he’d been in the middle of a heated discussion about the future reorganisation of the worldwide British consular network. It included Spain, one of the largest in the world. All consular reps from around the country were present. Two staff from London were explaining the new procedures.
‘Don’t agree. You can’t just put all worldwide consular posts into a common basket and expect us to dance to the same tune.’
Stan was outside the main conference room during the break sharing a coffee with Vice Consul Danny Wilton, a twenty-five-year veteran at the Madrid office, who was Stan’s point of contact.
‘Sign of the times, Stan. London wants profit and loss accounting on all our work. Focus on where the money is coming from and how it’s being spent. Welcome to diplomatic globalisation.’
‘OK. Great, but they also expect us to look after some holiday Brit who’s fallen out of a tree and broken his leg. What account would this come under?’ He was continuing with more rhetoric when he was advised of the tragedy at the Vigo hotel.
Two police cars and an ambulance were soon at the scene. Four police officers joined a team of paramedics that made their way to the second floor of the hotel.
‘Clear the area. Stand back everybody,’ said Lieutenant Garcia as he moved the now gathered crowd away from the room. It had not taken long for other residents and most of the hotel staff to rush to the scene of the tragedy. The lieutenant looked at the mini-mob. He picked on a young suit-and-tie executive. ‘Are you from the hotel?’
‘Yes sir. I’m the duty counter clerk. I’ve already called the manager and he’s on his way.’
‘Good.’ The lieutenant then entered the room, looked at the hanging corpse for a few seconds and then pulled out his notepad in routine police fashion. Two of the other police were ushering the onlookers to return to their rooms or down to the lobby, and under no circumstances to leave the hotel. Before they began to move, the lieutenant went out into the corridor and hollered, ‘Has anyone touched anything?’
There was a general shaking of bemused heads. ‘OK, carry on.’ He went back into the room, using his mobile to call the duty magistrate’s office.
Lieutenant Garcia walked around the body, looking at but not touching it, whilst his assistant took a set of photographs from different angles in the room. Garcia had a habit of mumbling to himself when taking routine notes of events such as “deaths by misadventure”. ‘Only worn garment is his underwear.’ Looking at the head he went on, ‘Used a curtain cord cut off with a knife. Where’s the knife?’ He began searching the bedroom, all the time mumbling away as he scribbled on his pad. ‘Clothes neatly folded, bed unturned: unslept in. Let’s see; what have we here?’ A copy of
was lying amongst the hotel bumph on the main table. Meanwhile, his assistant was searching through the room’s furniture.
Officer Fernandez hollered from aside the open wardrobe, ‘Lieutenant, there’s a large suitcase, a briefcase and a laptop in here; permission to check them out.’
He took them out and placed them on the bed, opened the briefcase and looked inside. There were three credit cards, an airline ticket, several copies of a brochure on sea travels called
, a mobile phone, several sets of copies of e-mails neatly clipped together under port headings, pens, paper clips, a stapling machine and finally the all important identification document; a British passport.
‘Here you are, sir.’
He opened it and flipped through the pages. As usual he mumbled, ‘Donald Simmons. Born: Liverpool, England, 4
of January 1968.’ He turned to the back of the passport. ‘Sarah Rose Simmons. Address: 16, Kings St., Manchester, Lancashire, M2 4NG.’ Lieutenant Garcia gave the passport back to his assistant and called his office.
‘Rosa? Call Mauro’s shipping people and tell them that there’s a dead Brit here in Hotel Bahia. They’ll know what to do.’
Stan was on his way to Chamartín railway station to take the night sleeper. His meetings had ended at 5 p.m. and he’d spent the last four hours browsing around the centre before making his way north. Danny had taken care of informing the British Foreign Office with the personal details of the Brit found dead in the hotel. Lieutenant Garcia had not given any further details over the phone other than those regarding his death. Stan had never handled such a case and was not looking forward to the following day’s ordeal.
‘Don’t worry,’ Danny had said. ‘The police will take care of everything. Just make sure the next of kin are looked after. That’s the hard part. They’re bound to be flying out as soon as they find out that the poor sod’s snuffed it.’
Stan was also concerned with the
coming in on her regular cruise stop prior to returning to Southampton with over 3,000 passengers on board. He had to go straight to the docks from the railway station to meet her once he got back in the morning.
Trust my bloody luck
, he thought as he continued to amble around the station bookstores and cafes.
‘According to the register, this Englishman arrived yesterday. Did anybody call or meet up with him?’ Lieutenant Garcia was with the hotel manager in his office.
‘Not to our knowledge, sir. He hadn’t even been out of his room.’
The search in the bedroom had finished; most guests were allowed to go about their business whilst the police were awaiting the arrival of the duty magistrate. The lieutenant was about to continue with his enquiries when magistrate Consuelo Pacheco arrived.
‘Sra Pacheco, we’ve got a foreigner this time. Looks like a suicide case although we didn’t find any note or anything. No signs of foul play. The ambulance is waiting for your go-ahead. I’ve spoken to the consul, but he’s in Madrid. Back tomorrow.’
She was satisfied. It didn’t take long for her to order the removal of the corpse to be sent to the local morgue for an autopsy. At that moment, the local press arrived ready to pick up the sordid details. The police eventually went back to the station to write up the report.