Ron looked terrified at June. He did not have to say a word though. June nodded anxiously and got up. She stopped in front of the hotel room door and a knock louder than before almost scared her. Ron walked to the balcony door at the back of the hotel room. He could see June straight ahead of him at the front door. He looked outside and looked down. They were situated on the second floor of the hotel. Ron could barely make out the outline of a similar balcony on the floor beneath them and straight down at floor level was a terrace where plenty of people were dining beneath the open skies. The smell of roast meat and beer caught Ron's nose faintly. He was hungry. June cleared her throat and Ron immediately tapped both his pockets and nodded. June unhinged the lock.
Everything happened at once. The door flung open wide knocking June to the ground with a shriek of pain. Ron turned around and faced the balcony, stepped outside and closed the balcony door behind him. The chief and the lawyer saw him and rushed through the hotel room to catch Ron. In a quick leap Ron made it onto the balcony one floor below and the police ran as fast as his fat legs could muster out of the hotel room to catch Ron during his descend. The lawyer rushed to the balcony and looked down. Ron had just stuck the landig on the terrace below and the crowd was gasping. Ron ran through the crowd into the hotel lobby winded like a sweating dog. Just as the lawyer was about to turn to June, Ron exited again with the chief hot on his heels. June did her best to stay inanimate on the floor though her heart was pounding and she could hear the commotion outside. Ron ran back into the crowd and dove in a swift motion beneath some dining tables. People screamed and left the area in a panic as soon as the chief roared…
"Stop right there, you piece of shit. I got a gun!"
"Load of bull," June thought to herself. It was impossible to get that through two airport security departments, expecially in Germany where the chief has no jurisdiction, but the threat had the desired effect. People rushed away from the terrace and a waiter with a cellphone was shouting frantically into the phone. The word "Polizei," was audible at multiple occasions. The rush of people left the chief confused and he lost his trace of Ron. Ron was panting as silently as he could beneath a set of dining tables directly behind the chief. The chief was slowly scanning the area and stooped to look underneath the tables in front of him. Ron got up and grabbed a chair. The lawyer called out: "Behind you! Watch out!" But it was too late. Ron struck the chief of police and the lawyer rushed outside the hotel room to help. As soon as the lawyer left the room June counted to ten. Got up, corrected her clothes, brushed off some dirt from a footprint on her shirt and left the room in no hurry at all.
The chief stumpled to the ground and tried to regain his footing. His right leg refused to heed him and he used a dining table to pull himself up. That is when the second hit struck the chief and sent him straight to the ground. The chair broke upon impact and Ron discarded the broken remains in his hands. The lawyer made it out onto the terrace and Ron quickly grabbed a second chair…
"You want some of this, too?"
"Stop that. Do you have any id–"
"You bastards locked away my dad," Ron roared and charged at the lawyer. The chief was lying face down on the terrace. He was breathing, but not moving an inch. Rather than challenging the kid, the lawyer turned around and ran. Police sirens could be heard in the distance coming rapidly closer. Ron threw the chair as best he could missing the lawyer completely and ran off away from the hotel lobby entrance into the streets. The lawyer did not rush to pursue Ron, but rushed to aid the fallen chief. He was bleeding from his neck and his left temple and he had broken a couple of teeth.
"Are you alright?"
"What the hell does it look like? Where is the damned kid?"
"Ran off. We'll get them, don't worry."
"Idiot, we don't know where they're going."
"June is upstairs. She'll tell us."
"I don't give a shit about the girl, I want to boy. This calls for revenge!"
The lawyer helped the chief to his feet. Dizzy the chief leaned onto a dining table and caught a glimpse of the broken chair. He winced in anger.
"Get the girl," the chief ordered as he was trying to calm down. His breathing was slowed, but not much and his head was scarlet. The lawyer obeyed and rushed into the hotel lobby and back into Ron and June's hotel room.
"She's gone," called the lawyer from the balcony. The chief did not reply but kept his composure leaning over a table with his bloody head bent in shame. The veins in his forehead was visible even from the second floor balcony.
Ron made it across the street through two blocks of dark alleys and finally caught up to June who was waiting for him in a rental car. She pulled up right as he left the last alley.
"Perfect timing," she smiled as Ron quickly seated himself besides June.
"That felt great," Ron remarked with overwhelming glee and he burst into laughter. June shared his glee for a while as they rushed away from the hotel, the GPS set to Munich. After the laughing had died out June remarked…
"There's a change of clothes, hat and glasses in the bag on the back seat. Only some food if you get hungry."
"Fantastic. I'm starving."
"Change of wardrobe first," June commented to Ron's slight dismay. She was right and he knew it. Still, his gut did not care.
The police arrived at the scene and the hotel staff quickly diverted the two police officers to the chief and lawyer both outside on the terrace. The lawyer was the first to notice them and frowned in anger. The chief looked up and burst snickered…
"Look at these clowns. Think they own it all as the waltz through here. My men would never behave like that."
"Guten Tag mei–," started one of the officers, a tall slender man with a sullen face and next to no hair, but he was interrupted by the lawyer.
"Ah, here in Germany we do not say please, gentlemen, we say 'bitte'," the tall officer remarked in the queen's English with a heavy German accent.
"Had a bit of an episode, did we?," asked the second officer. He was not quite as tall as his colleague, but he spoke perfect English. He was slightly larger, definitely younger and looked more healthy than his fellow policeman. The chief immediately lifted his head and a faint expression of recognition ran over both the younger officer's and the chief's face.
"You," hissed the chief hatefully.
"How is it," started the lawyer, but the chief could see what was on his mind.
"Don't say it." The lawyer cleared his throat.
"As I was saying," he started in a bitter tone: "How is it that whenever we run into someone significant to our pursuit, they either know you and hate your guts, or you manage to piss them off?"
The chief looked at the lawyer with murder in his eyes. The younger officer spoke first: "Pursuit?"
"Guess I'm just a people person," laughed the chief without a single trace of kindness in his eyes, eyes that seemed to bore through the lawyer's head as the chief cackled. The tall officer broke in…
"You, sir, would you come with me, bitte?" The question was directed at the lawyer and the group of four split up into two groups of two outside of earshot from each other as the interrogations began.
"What is the purpose of your stay here in Berlin?"
"I demand a lawyer," came the reply. The officer sighed and rolled his eyes. He had heard this line far too many times that he cared to count. And it seemed to him that line was only used whenever there was a good reason. If it was a simple misunderstanding, people almost never asked for a lawyer, but catch, say, a murderer red handed and you could be sure that the first line out of them would be: "I want a lawyer," or something akin to that.
"We go to the station then," said the tall officer as he got out his handcuffs.
"Those won't be necessary," the lawyer said: "I'll come willingly."
"Humour me," the tall officer said with a smile, but his eyes were just as unkind as the chiefs had been moments before.
"I really must insist those are no–"
"Resisting arrest is a crime," commented the policeman.
"Well, you can ask my lawyer if I resisted arrest."
"Do you see your lawyer here?," asked the policemen short of patience. The lawyer looked around.
"No," came the reply and the policeman dangled the cuffs in front of the lawyer with a smile so mockingly gleeful it made the lawyer's stomach churn.
Outside of earshot the chief was being interrogated by the other officer. As the lawyer the chief refused to offer any details as to what and why they were at the hotel and played a central part of the tumult. When asked if he required medical attention, the chief shrugged it off with a few racist remarks about the German endurance and vitality, remarks that did not earn him any favours from the officer, but it was doubtful if anything would. When presented with the handcuffs the chief followed through on his diplomatic discourse labelling the cuffs as "plastic toys for newbies made in China." The officer looked the chief up and down and kicked his left knee. The chief toppled over and landed on his stomach the wind knocked out of him. Cuffed, he was lifted from the ground back onto his legs, the left now so weak he could barely stand on it, and both him and the lawyer were roughly thrown into the backseat of the policecar.
To this day I have been unable to get my hands on the police reports and transcripts of the interrogations at the station, but I hope that my best source soon moving near Germany may one day provide me the material I long for. For now, I must sadly omit this part, as hilarious it may no doubt have been.
June and Ron were flying down the German autobahn towards Munich as fast as the rental car and German traffic limitations would allow them.
"Was a pretty good plan," said Ron with a smile.
"Bit brutal. I asked you to distract one of them, not trash him with a chair."
"So? Had some aggressions and I needed to vent."
"And I get to feel his revenge in Munich while you continue to Bruck," June remarked with scorn.
"Run that by me again?"
"I left a clue that we would be heading to Munich. I get off there and you continue to Bruck. When you get to Bruck you need to get Jonas out of there, like, yesterday to Vienna. We are ahead of our entourage, but not by much. No doubt they fly to Munich when they scour the hotel rool for my clue."
"How far ahead are we?"
"We arrive in Munich around 45 minutes before they do. In my earliest estimate. It does depend how long the police plan to keep them. With luck we have longer, but 45 minutes. I will stall them in Munich and try to buy you as much time as possible."
"Baiting them about a bit. Long dinner and a lot of talking. Short of that, I guess I could slam one of them with a chair," she replied with a smile and Ron chuckled.
"I never would have thought you could conjure up an escape like that," Ron remarked with amazement.
"My dad taught me well. Always plan one step ahead, prepare for the most likely second step and the least likely as well."
"What was the least likely second step?"
"That he had a gun."
"What was the plan then?"
"Better not worry about that." Ron knew better than to press her for information. She was very deflective when it hit her.
"What if Jonas doesn't want to leave?"
"Why wouldn't he? He's on the way to Vienna."
"Alright," Ron said: "What if he isn't there?"
"You're the P. I. in training here, not me. What do you think?"
"Ask around or have David track him," Ron said with exhausted routine.
"And how are you going to get there?," June asked to make sure he was up to speed.
"I take the rental back to Munich and catch the earliest flight to Vienna. There is a rental place near the airport I can drop off the car – pay the guy in cash before you ask – and get on the plane with Jonas." June was about to interrupt and ask, but only offered a brief glance and kept her attention on the road.
"And in Vienna?"
"We get a room at The Ring and wait for you guys. Probably invest in a cup and a baseball bat for my next meeting with the chief."
"And a mouthguard."
Lara waltzed into my office that afternoon. I had not seen her since she left up state to deal with James once and for all and I was happy to see her. Pouncer strode besides her and both looked refreshed as the morning dew.
"Great to see you," I remarked with a smile: "How've you been?"
"You read the police reports and newspapers. Work's work." I reached beneath my desk and grabbed a suitcase and put it onto the desk.
"Work for me pays well."
"Seriously, what do you do to earn this money?"
"You don't want to know."
"I take your work for it. Where are J, J and R?"
"Trekking through Germany with the lawyer and chief hot on their heels. They were released from custody half an hour ago and they're on their way to the airport."
"You know my career went down the drain now, right? Ms. Marson was not happy with a revival of that case."
"I know and I'm not happy with it, but turns out I need a right hand." Furious she stormed for the door, but she got a hold of her temper before she left the room…
"You bastard! You played me!"
"You get ahead and to stay ahead you need talent."
"Don't give me that. You screwed me over. They're gonna take my badge and…," her thoughts trailed off as a tear gathered in the corner of her eyes. I contemplated the idea of hiding behind my desk at the sight. She snapped her fingers and Pouncer assumed a seet in front of the office door barring his teeth. His gaze was fixed at me and it was unwavering.
"Look," I started.
"No, you look, you rotten piece of. You knew how Marson would handle it. You knew it all along, and yet you sent me along thinking that it was only a small risk I took. It was 100 percent certain and you knew it, you bastard!" A moment of silence passed and the red flush of her face subsided a bit. The silence barely got awkward before she resumed…
"Everything you do is so well planned you schemed for me to lose my job and my dog. How could you do that?"
"Well, you get ahead and to stay ahead y–" I was interupted my a stapler flying my way. I ducked out of from my desk and landed on the office floor.
"Don't give me that!"
"Look, I'm no happier with this than you are–"
"Yeah, it shows," Lara snarked. I got to my feet and ran a hand through my hair. A guard appeared at the door, but Pouncer turned and snapped at him, missing him by mere inches.
"It's okay," I said and the guard backed away.
"Look, I'm just trying to keep June and the business safe. The harpy really screwed me over in the divorce and I have a lot of money I have to pay her to keep her silent and hence me happy."
"What does that have to do with anything?"
"Now you are asking the right questions," I commented and she looked at me with wonder. Her aggressive stance immediately subsided as she assumed a seat at my desk and started going through the contents of my computer. I took a step forward to stop her, but Pouncer made it very clear with a snarl that that was never going to happen. It was as if Pouncer could read Lara like an open book.
"David, these are…" she murmured after a minute. "This is," she continued and looked at me with a frown of disgust.
"Look inside the suitcase," I said. She did so and looked to me. Then to the suitcase. Then back to me. Then to Pouncer.
"You promised," she said returning her gaze to me.
"I know. You won't lose Pouncer."
"And a fat load your word is worth. Go f–"
"Look!," I interrupted…
"No, you look," she retaliated.
"I think you made your point of view very clear."
"Look, if you want to keep the dog, you have to do what I tell you to do."
"And now you're using my fucking dog as collateral against me. You're a–"
"I give up. Fine! You want to keep shouting, keep shouting."
"Next stop Munich," cooed Ron was excitement. The long trek was almost over, but his excitement was real nonetheless. June did short work of that…
"Remember the plan."
"Right." Ron pulled his hands back down and his excitement vanished quickly. It was a race against time and in his excitement he had forgotten that. The traffic was dense and their speed had been impaired. They were no longer progressing as fast as they wished and when the highway signs heralded 'Stau' ahead neither June or Ron needed a dictionary. They were in a car jam. Slowly they came to a halt and the clock was still ticking.
"I know," nodded Ron. They were not far off their exit, but even the shortest path takes infinitely long to travel when you are standing still. It did not help the situation that both of them could see the road lead straight up to their exit. Their estimated time of arrivel on the GPS kept delaying itself as time went on, but the traffic was jammed completely.
"What are we going to do?," asked Ron.
"I don't know. We'll think of something."
"Are you sure?" She did not answer. June sat in the driver's seat and looked at the traffic with a gaze equal parts hopeless and loathing. She grabbed her phone and dialed…
"Dad?" Ron knew this would be the opening line as soon as she grasped for her phone. He was sitting passenger seat and observing the situation.
"Yeah, honey, what's up?"
"We're stuck in traffic on the Autobahn. And I mean really stuck."
"How far away from Munich?"
"We were having an argument," commented Lara stubbornly from the other end of the room.
"Who's that?," June asked.
"Lara. I'll put you on speaker. Hold on. Say hi."
"Hi boo," June said.
"Heya," Ron interjected from the passenger seat.
"We need some info. Do you know where our dynamic duo is now?"
"According to my GPS tracker, they went down a drain in London," I added with a smile. No one was amused, but Ron.
"Well, we met them in Berlin, so that can't be true."
"Where are you headed?," asked Lara oblivious to the grand scheme of the trek through central Europe.
"I thought dad kept you up to speed."
"Well, I'm trying, but communications hit a roadblock." Ron burst into laughter.
"Not funny," said Lara.
"It is," Ron protested.
"In the words of Mel Brooks, tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewers and die."
"So schadenfreude is what it is," Lara nodded with a bored face. She knew the answer straight away. We all did.
"Well, we're in Germany," he said with an audible smile. June sighed…
"Is there anything we can do? The way it's looking we're not going to get to Munich ahead of Humpty and Dumpty."
"It's alright. When they get to Munich, they don't know where to proceed."
"I left a note behind in Berlin. They're headed for Bruck. Straight away."
"June," Lara groaned.
"I'll take care of it," I answered.
"Trust me, it's best if you don't know."
"Love you," came the reply and the connection was lost. I looked at Lara and she met my gaze with a puzzled look. She looked at the briefcase on the desk and at Pouncer at the door.
"For June?," I asked. She nodded.
"You read my mind didn't you?"
"It's obvious, but it is illegal," she said looking at the dog. Pouncer was sitting at the door with his eyes fixed at me. If I moved too close he was quick to show me the result of police care, especially in the teeth department. Lara skimmed over some documents on the screen and one in particular caught her interest. It was a scanned document of flight reservations.
"I think I understand," she said with careful thought…
"One question though, how do you plan on getting Diane there without her husband?" She asked with skepticism and continued: "And how on Earth do you plan to get away with this? It'll cost you everything and even if the slightest goes awry, you will either be killed by your associates, or locked away for life. Dangerous game and I should report you to the department, if I could show myself there without losing my fucking dog," she elaborated with growing resentment resuming the mood prior to June's timely phone call.
Two hours later Ron and June arrived in Munich. June pulled up to The Mandarin Oriental, got out and Ron quickly drove off with the GPS set for Bruck. It would be a longer route as he was planning to stay off the main roads to avoid an additional traffic jam. If lady luck had favoured them with a slim chance of success, it would be unwise to risk it all again. This was Ron's idea of playing it safe. This was not the hotel June had tipped the lawyer and the chief she and Ron would use in her note, but my clever daughter figured that if we assume the chief and lawyer did arrive about an hour or half an hour before June, they would start scouring the hotels for her, so naturally she picked an altogether different hotel betting they may not, or indeed it was still possible they may, had been there looking for her. It was the first thing she asked inside the lobby and indeed no two gentlemen fitting her descriptions had been there looking for her. June figured it was likely they had ditched the first hotel and gone straight to Bruck. She asked for a room and the staff was more than happy to show her to one. She ordered food and drink straight away and the moment the service was out the door and it was locked safely, she threw herself on her bed. She was tired and the long drive made everything seem as if it was speeding towards her. Even the ceiling.
Her food arrived and she quickly scoffed it down and went for a shower on the notion that she would not stay the day. At any time Iggle and Piggle could show up at her door and she would have to be ready to go. If they had not gone straight to Bruck and Ron would encounter both of them. Alone. Was this all a giant mistake? She quickly got out of the shower, dressed herself and reached for her phone. Dial: Ron…
"Are you alright?"
"We?," a shiver ran down her spine.
"Yeah. Say hi Jonas."
"Hi," came the familiar voice.
"Where are you?"
"We're leaving Bruck. It was a short drive and Jonas was ready to go straight away. He was waiting for me."
"Not a sign of them. If they came straight here, they missed us. Don't worry. It's all good." June let out a breath of relief. She was tense, but she could feel herself relax now for the first time since London, perhaps since they left home for the East coast. She could not fight it. A smile spread across her face and she laughed. It started off as a giggle, but quickly escalated into roaring laughter. Tears were rolling down her cheeks. Ron and Jonas felt her relief through the phone, but neither spoke. Ron had nodded at Jonas…
"Let her have this," Ron had said quietly, but June did not hear it.
"I'll swing by later and pick you up, then we head for the airport."
"You should head straight there," June replied.
"Because Oggle and Woggle might show up here at any time. You guys head straight to the airport, and I'll stay here to keep them occupied."
"Are you sure about this?"
"Please, we're so close to Vienna, just go straight to the airport."
"350 kilometers is not close."
"World's not as big as it used to be. Just do it."
"Alright, hear that Jonas? We're going to Vienna." Ron hung up. June felt her tension return to her like a load of gravel on her back, but she kept her spirits high regardless. She resumed her position on her bed. The sun was setting outside and she felt tired. And before she could even contemplate turning on the TV, she was asleep. The drive had really taken every ounce of energy out of her.
Ron and Jonas drove in silence to the Munich airport. None of them spoke one word after Ron had hung up. When they got to the airport, Jonas hesitated to leave the car. Ron remained seated as well…
"Are you sure we shouldn't bring her for this?"
"She'll be fine. She's probably on a plane to Vienna right now." Ron did not think so, but said so nonetheless. After a moment of pause Ron continued…
"I'll help you on the plane and then go check up on her."
"That's probably the best idea."
"No. She's going to get pissed."
"Don't worry my love," Jonas said and put his hand on Ron's shoulder. Ron quickly shifted to break the contact. Jonas continued…
"Whereever you go and whatever you do, I'll be in Veinna waiting for you." His accent grew towards something of either North American or South Canadian, regardless Ron had recognised the reference…
"Alright, Bryan, I'll get you on the plane, just… Try not to scare anyone like that, alright?"
"Sure," Jonas said and they both left the car. Ron helped Jonas check in for a late flight to Vienna. It was a costly affair, but I had kept them very well supplied economically. Jonas boarded the plane mid-evening and Ron went back to the car and drove to the hotel. He pulled up to the Mandarin Oriental hotel a short drive later to find an ambulance parked in front of the main entrance. The hotel manager and the hotel restaurant's maitre d' was arguing with one of the doctors angrily and loudly. Although German can be a temperamental language when spoken, when it is shouted and screamed at the top of the lungs, the normal day-to-day German acquires a quiet beauty and soothing nature. At least that is what Ron thought at the time as he was walking up to the hotel. Inside the lobby he found June sitting in a couch with a blanket wrapped around her. She was half alseep, but a black eye and a bruise on her left arm told a tale of their own. Ron frooze at the entrance and looked outside to get a glipse of who was inside the ambulance. June noticed him and at first she smiled happily, but her excitement vanished with the blink of an eye and she looked down in shame.
Ron had a tough time making out anything inside the ambulance. The drivers and a doctor were obstructing his view and after a while he gave up and assumed a seat opposite June.
"I left you for what? Three hours?"
"Three and a half," June replied softly.
"And who's that out there?" No reply.
"June?" She looked up and met his gaze. A tear crawled down her cheek. Ron quickly shifted and assumed a seat besides her and put an arm around her. She was cold and tired.
"June?," he asked again.
"Is it Wiggle, or is it Woggle out there?" She smiled and gave a short laugh.
"What do you mean 'or'?" Ron thought about it for a moment. The first ambulance had already come and gone. This was the second.
"I'm going to love this story."
"You are," she said with a tired grin, and she fell asleep in his arms.