I'm sorry that this has taken so long. The story actually almost finished. But first there is another country to...visit. The time has come for people to guess who Locque works for?
Previous: Part XXIII - Truth[We left Bond being held prisoner by General Gogol in a Cuban hospital, after being shot in the forest, while Locque and Katherine were discussing whether or not Locque had killed a woman. Andre bursts in with the news that Locque's father had put out a hit on Milos Columbo, that Columbo has disappeared, and that Bond's superior, M, has been on leave--all very convenient. Locque has sent Andre to Jens to learn the whereabouts of both Columbo and M.]
The next morning they both slept in late.
“Ahhh, Christ,” Locque groaned, “I’m sore. Running around in the woods—I’m getting too old for this shit. Let’s just stay in bed this morning. I’ll send out for coffee and anything else you want. But let’s not get up. Let’s eat breakfast here. What do we really need to do?
Katherine said, “I always figured you for a workaholic—someone who never sleeps in, always on the go, etc.”
“I know men like that, and they are stupid. Come here.” They came together again under the covers.
“Would you like a ‘Belgian breakfast’
?” Katherine teased him.
He gave her that biting smile. “How about I just scramble you in a pan with some butter and eat you up? Poet omelet!”
They ordered fresh bread, jam, and gouda cheese with strong, hot coffee, but they fled the bed for the couch and turned on the television. The rain lashed the windows as they ate and watched the news. “Not even a mention of you or your father today. Your star is fading…are you sorry?” Locque teased her.
Katherine shook her head. “If they can convince my old man to cop a plea, perhaps I can sneak back into the United States and make a clean sweep of the house before everything is repossessed.”
“Christ, all you think about is escaping.” Locque threw down his napkin in irritation. “You’ll have already made a clean sweep here
. Why are you so eager to rejoin the cannibals out there? Were you happy? I did not see a happy stripper on that sidewalk.”
Katherine remembered to keep her face neutral but she gloated at having provoked him. “What are you trying to say?”
“Ah, shit,” he said. “You have me flummoxed, poet. You’re one of a kind, and when I let you go, I am really going to be sorry. There—I’ve said it.
“Every other woman I enjoyed fucking was impossible to live with. The ones I could have lived with were dullards in the sack. You fight me every step of the way and you have an attitude, but you’re damn close to perfect, and there’s nothing perfect in life.”
Katherine picked at the coverlet. “You sound like you’re about to ask me a question.”
“And if I were to, what would be your answer?”
He grinned at her when her face lifted to glare at him. She replied in outrage, “You ask first!” But he did not answer, and he rose at last to shower.
If his prisoner was hoping that by allowing her to watch television she could distract him away from her by turning the channel to porn or to sports, she could forget it; the only thing he could stand to watch was auto racing. Soccer bored him; any X-rated film made after the irreverent humor of Deep Throat
disappointed him; and he loathed most music. However, Katherine’s taste ran toward tolerable genres: jazz, Baroque, New Wave, and Schubert, and so he allowed her to watch music videos or the orchestra, especially since she would turn down the volume for obnoxious songs and for commercials. She also preferred horror movies to melodramas, so he allowed that too, as long as she allowed him to interfere with her on the couch while they watched. That worked well, since most of the films were from the 1960s and cheesy, so she did not mind missing some scenes.
“This is boring,” Katherine sighed at last, and lifted the control to mute the sound from The Whip and the Body
. She turned from the flickering tube and lifted up her blouse, and Locque wrapped his arms around her greedily. “Soft porn and bad horror only equals…poorer.”
He burst out laughing at that. “Considering that you sat through Trog
, that is quite the indictment!”
“I didn’t sit through Trog
. You fell asleep and I turned it off. Gah.”
“Oh,” he mumbled, delighted that she was sitting on him and taking off her bra. He had come to enjoy, and he thought she had too, these days and evenings together on the couch, letting the television flash as they lay undressed, and sending one of the men, especially Bernard to punish him, out into the rain for takeout meals. Andre had been gone for almost a week, and the rest of the group was strictly forbidden to step over the threshold to the apartment, and so this week they had spent almost entirely alone.
More than once Locque and she had fallen asleep there on the couch, nestled together or with her head on his lap and he leaning back, only to awaken early in the morning, to turn off the TV and stumble to the bedroom, or simply to remain there all night, then have coffee and cold cuts or bagels on the couch as well.
“This place is turning into a bordello,” Katherine remarked, “with cushions strewn everywhere. I think I’ll redesign your carriage house into a harem, with bean-bag chairs and plush rugs.”
Locque stretched beneath her. “I thought you were going to turn it into a Craftsman paradise, like Old Faithful Inn.”
“I seem to remember promising to make the bed, and we have hardly slept in it.”
“Vacuum the couch, instead. That counts.”
“We have not even worn any clothes for me to wash. And you’ve made the men wash our dishes so much instead of me. If you spare the child,” and she pointed to herself, “you’ll spoil the, er, rod
“That’s my plan exactly, poet.”
Every once in a while she smiled at him, openly, as she was doing now. Sometimes she dropped her reserve and her cynicism and really acted like a woman. Sometimes they laughed together, really laughed.
In Andre’s absence, Bernard was allowed to come to the door to receive assignments if Arent was on an errand. Katherine happened to be in the front room one morning when Locque opened the door to give his commands. She quailed inwardly at seeing Bernard again, but he did not even glance her way. “Andre says he will be back tomorrow,” Bernard reported in a voice that was free of both hostility and of sarcasm.
“He’s learned something?” Locque asked.
The sarcasm returned. “I wouldn’t know. For your ears only.”
Locque closed the door again and turned with a smile at Katherine. She fought to conceal her curiosity about Jens. “Sometimes I wonder," Locque told her, "if Bernard is a spook!”
“What?” Her mouth fell open.
“Well, one of my men is. I am almost sure of it. It could be Bernard! It would explain a lot.”
She remembered Andre’s hand on her shoulder while she breakfasted on the balcony. Has he hurt you?
She made an effort not to sound to interested. “And if he—
if one of them is, you would—you’d kill him?”
“No, babe, I’ll keep him around! I’d keep him close. Spooks are handy.” He gave her a swat that was also a push toward the hallway.
“I’m hungry,” she objected. “It’s time for breakfast.”
“Go into the bedroom, first. You are going to make a telephone call.”
To her surprise, when she entered the bedroom that telephone sat on her night table beside the bed. Locque checked his watch. “Right about now. Go ahead—dial your aunt’s number. Don’t forget the international prefix.”
Katherine hesitated. “But—aren’t you afraid that she will—”
“Go ahead,” he insisted.
Katherine sat down on the bed and picked up the receiver. Locque continued to stand there, so she pressed the buttons for first her country code, and then the number. The line rang twice before a woman answered. “Katherine! Katherine, is that you?”
“You were expecting me?” Katherine asked.
“Yes, of course! It was arranged. Katherine, my God, are you all right?”
Katherine glanced up at the Belgian standing over her. “I’m all right, yes. Don’t worry, aunt.”
“Are you with—that man?”
“Right here,” Katherine replied with her eyes still on Locque.
“Oh, Katherine.” The woman sounded like she was crying.
Tears came to Katherine’s eyes as well, but Locque remained standing over her, apparently intent upon watching her. “I don’t know how much time I have, aunt.”
Her aunt lowered her voice. “Katherine, I have something important to tell you. I have a message to you from someone—a powerful man, someone who can help you. Just listen—I’m going to repeat it several times. You’ll have to memorize it, so that you can repeat it later, but do not say it out loud here. Okay?”
Katherine turned away from Locque and held the receiver close. She nodded, then remembered that her aunt could not know this. “Yes,” she said, then listened intently, aware of Locque staring at her back. “How is everyone?” she asked after a few minutes.
“I’ll repeat it one more time,” her aunt replied, and did so, while Katherine listened.
“I don’t know how we are, Katherine,” he aunt finally answered. “Fine, I guess. I mean, your brothers and sisters are safe, but it’s all strange. And the feds may drop the charges against your father.”
“Is that so?” Katherine muttered. “Well, I guess that would take the heat off of me.”
“It seems that some evidence was seized illegally, and also, he could become the chief witness in an even more important case. Also, your mother and he have reconciled.”
“Their accusing each other was probably just a stunt, anyway,” Katherine groused. “It’s not like she can testify against him, being his wife.”
“Interpol is no longer looking for you—that’s what I really wanted you to know, Katherine. The authorities are no longer interested in your case. You’re on your own, sweetie—with him
. So, remember that message. Will you…can you deliver it?”
Katherine glanced at Locque again, but he had stepped over to the windows and was looking out of them. “I’ll think about it. I’m not sure.”
There was a beep on the phone that made Katherine jump.
“Be safe, Katherine, please,” said her aunt. “Please be safe. I am always here if you need me. I’ll be waiting for you to come home.”
“Goodbye, aunt,” Katherine husked. She hung up the phone.
“And what are you not sure about?” Locque asked her saucily as he turned from the window, but there were tears in her eyes and she turned away from him.