” “bear/bare.” Use one, use both, use ’em any way you please. “
Come on then, let’s see what happens…
The Accumulator, part fourteen.
Scene: A busy café, Concarneau, northern France. Tables with parasols are arranged outside in the street, most of them occupied by families of camera-toting tourists. It is two years ago.
The camera angle changes to face the opposite direction, giving a view of the medieval walled town in the harbour. Holidaymakers stroll back and forth across the drawbridge, the only access to the fortified island, wearing their bare, sunburned skin like a badge of honour.
We are observing this pleasant seaside scene from the POV of a café patron at one of the pavement tables, a fact which becomes obvious when a hand reaches into shot for the cigarette that smoulders in a glass ashtray.
As the hand picks up the cigarette and brings it toward the camera, the angle changes once more we see that the hand holding it belongs to Patrick; relaxed and tanned, dressed in a white cotton shirt, navy blue shorts and white espadrilles, he looks every inch the local resident, an impression that is reinforced when he beckons to a passing waiter and places his order in impeccable French.
The waiter vanishes into the café and Patrick takes a final drag on his cigarette and stubs it out, just as his mobile phone rings, vibrating against the tabletop.
“Hello. Yes, I’m here, but there’s no rush…….Yeah, that’s fine, I’ll be there,” he looks at his watch, “give me half an hour, I’m just having lunch. Ok, bye.”
Patrick goes back to watching the passing crowds of tourists, eyes hidden behind sunglasses, as his voiceover returns.
“This is probably a bit of a shock, the change of surroundings and all, but there’s a pretty simple explanation for it, really. At least, my version of it is pretty simple, because the narrative style of these things doesn’t allow for much in the way of elaboration.
So, some bullet points:
– Turned out the Mercedes we pinched from the two goons in the petrol station had all their fancy Department ID badges in the glove box and some security pass on the windscreen which nobody ever seemed to question.
– The story about me being a fugitive from justice had been planted in the paper by Endicott and his smarmy army, something we found out when we ran into two coppers at a motorway services and they didn’t look at us once, let alone twice. This was subsequently confirmed when we discovered a radio in the car and were able to eavesdrop on their transmissions for a short time, until they discovered their fallen comrades, then all radio traffic went silent.
– We made it all the way to the south coast without incident and tried our luck with the Department pass at the docks in Dover, (by then, we’d smartened ourselves up a bit, I’m not proud of how we acquired the means to do that, but I’ve been trying to atone for my past sins ever since) driving straight onto the first cross-channel ferry with no questions asked. It appeared that Endicott’s Department men didn’t even require passports to travel around Europe, the strange, photoless ID cards and our car pass seemed to open any door.
– We set up in a small cottage in the Brittany countryside after a month of roughing it in the Merc, using money from a smash and grab we did on a drug dealer we’d been keeping an eye on. Cathy played her part perfectly (a strung out junkie, looking for a fix) and we got away with a lot more than we had anticipated, selling drugs is obviously a better business than I thought.
– Cathy got a job as a nurse after a few weeks, working in a local nursing home and I started a small photography studio, here in Concarneau, catering mainly to tourists and doing occasional shoots for travel brochures.
– I found it easy to pick up the language (maybe it was a skill I had before, who knows?) and after a few months of patient trying, Cathy became fluent enough that she no longer has to bear the raised eyebrows of the locals when she shops in the market.
– Nobody from The Department has contacted us in the nine years we’ve been here and as far as I knew, they had no idea where we are.
– I’m at that café because I was supposed to be meeting with a man who wanted me to do a shoot for his hotel, but he rang and told me he’d be late, so I’m meeting him in the Old Town later.
Or so I thought, because the next thing that happened was, well, just watch…”
The camera shows us the waiter, coming out of the café carrying a tray and approaching Patrick’s table. Patrick moves the ashtray and his phone to one side, clearing a space for his plate of mussels, knocking his cigarette packet off the table in the process.
As he bends to retrieve the packet from the floor, the waiter makes a strange coughing noise and Patrick looks up just in time to see the man fall to his knees, a shocked look on his face and a rapidly spreading red stain in the middle of his chest. The bowl of mussels on the table suddenly shatters and Patrick feels a sharp pain, looking down to see a deep graze in his upper arm, then someone starts screaming and Patrick is moving, ducking into an alley and running to where his old Renault is parked behind the café.
He slams the door while punching numbers on his phone, jamming the key into the ignition and slamming the car into gear.
“Come on, come on!” Patrick yells, wheels spinning on the cobbles as he speeds down the narrow street “Pick up the damn phone!”
Finally, someone answers.
“Hello, I thought you’d…”
“It’s happened, they’ve found us!”
To be continued (using next week’s prompt)…