Stand By Stand By/ Zero Option
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I guess it’ll stand right out of the flat jungle. Looks like it’s got a conical peak. You’re never going to be closer to it than fifty ks, but you’ll see it away to your right. When you get level with it, you’ll be coming to your tributary. ’ He went on to describe the precise layout of the landing-strip, the link road (which didn’t run straight, but wound through the forest) and the buildings of the laboratory itself. As he talked I wrote and sketched details in my note-book. ‘Thanks, Tony. Zero-eight-seven will be our heading.
As I said, the scale of it defies imagination. In the mid-eighties Escobar alone was reckoned to be worth two billion dollars. The funny thing is, he grew up the happiest kid you could imagine, in a strongly religious home. But then he got expelled from school and drifted into crime – stealing tombstones, stealing cars. Before he was twenty he was into contract killing. Then he started driving coca paste from the Andes to the laboratories in Medellin. He made so much money that by the time he was thirty he’d bought a hacienda for over sixty million dollars.
They look like ammunition, from the weight. Two boxes into barn, into cache. Ammo also complete. ’ They didn’t hang about. I saw them lowering some form of lid and raking loose straw back into position; then all three came out and boarded the van. It looked as though there was a partition between front and back, because they had to put one man in through the rear doors and close him in. At the gates, one of them got out to fasten the padlock and chain behind them. ‘X-rays complete in van and mobile northwards,’ I reported.
His king-sized desk and long, oval conference table were both made from some fine, rich-coloured wood like mahogany, but not so dark. The floor was made of wood as well, with a couple of bright rugs to give colour. No linoleum or chrome or glass-topped tables here. As I sat down, a tray with a cup of coffee on it appeared at my elbow. Again it crossed my mind that the coffee could be laced with the drug we’d heard about in Hereford – burundanga – which removes your will to resist; but again I thought, No, this is all above board.
They’re across the water, near Belfast. ’ ‘Could she go and stay with them for a while? ’ ‘Well, I suppose so. ’ I thought about it for a moment, and asked, ‘You mean, we have a trial separation? ’ ‘That would make it into a bit of a drama. I wouldn’t call it that. Just call it a break. You could try it for two or three weeks. It would give you a chance to sort yourself out. Meanwhile, I’ll give you something to take. Two a day. ’ He scribbled out a prescription and handed me the chit. ‘Take it easy,’ he said.