Michael slid the door of the van open and everyone exited. He stood back however, and in an ambiguous tone doused in apprehension, uttered to me, “I hope you know what you are doing Nick. I can sense eyes on us right now, but I will carry out my duty… May God be with you…with us all.”
Then he closed the door and accompanied his men, ill at ease. An odd thing to say, coming from him, but I knew that he respected me no matter how he felt, and also had tremendous faith in my decisions.
I watched as the men retrieved the dogs from the caravan behind us, then made their way to the entrance and after speaking to the guards briefl y, disappeared into the safe house.
I looked at Clive. “When they come back, we will go to see the patient, bring your notepad, I want everything he says recorded, everything...”
“Yes sir, it will be done.” He replied fi rmly.
I looked at him solemnly. “Clive?”
“Watch my back in there, please.”
“Do not worry sir. Th ey will have to go through me fi rst…” He didn’t say anymore, but that was assurance enough. You would have to know Clive to be convinced that his confi dence wasn’t based on anything as oversold as ego or pride, but on his faith in his training and combat ability, not to mention his inimitable size and strength, which I must say, sometimes gave me confi dence.
Believe me, I couldn’t ask for a better person to be with me on this mission today.
“As for you Roy, take a look here, you see that building?”
I pointed to a cloistered structure about fi fteen stories high, one block down towards the end of the street. He nodded courageously.
“From the top of that building, you are able to see everything that moves within a wide expanse of this area. Every street that leads to the motel is visible from there. Go to the top of it, the elevator doesn’t work obviously, you have to take the stairs… and stand on the lookout. If you see anything strange, any suspicious movement whatsoever, you yell as loud as you can at the top of your voice. Th e men will hear you. You warn them if anything comes their way. And suspect everything. I need your eyes...”
I reached into a pocket of my coat. “Here…hold on to this, just in case of anything.” I handed him a handgun I had taken from the munitions storage at the compound earlier this morning.
“It’s already loaded.” He took the gun and nodded again, then inhaled a breath of readiness. I sensed though, nervousness in him.
Perhaps he felt what I suddenly felt brooding in the air. Something was going to happen. Th is meeting was not going to take place unchallenged.
I glanced through my window, up towards the sky, unable to fi nd solace in its azure. How diffi cult it was to shake away the feeling that the worst was going to happen, that an impending disaster was hanging above you like the poised and sharpened blade of a guillotine.
I felt blindfolded, at the mercy of much more powerful forces operating around me, whether they were unholy things that we truly did not understand or the vagaries of fate that no longer seemed to be playing on my side—at least concerning the events over the last year anyway.
Deep inside, it was as if my mind was suddenly feuding within itself, as if it were simultaneously my greatest friend and enemy, revealed to me only now as tensions were rising and strong emotions were coming into play.
Both of them seemed to be locking horns in battle for the helm of my thoughts, no doubt steering my once iron resolve into a stormy sea or peaceful port, depending on which of them - the pessimist or the optimist - proved to be victorious in the end.
At this particular moment, it was evident that my enemy was edging forward.
Looking back into the van, I brought my attention to my young friend again.
“You’re best to leave now Roy, it is fi fteen fl oors. Get a head start.”
He stared at me thoughtfully. “Let’s do this thing Father.”
Grabbing my hand, he squeezed it tightly. “I will be your eyes.” He opened the door then, and stepped into the blistering day; his face and arms glowed richly - a golden yellow - as if they had suddenly been limned with a thin layer of honey.