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Black Ice: Chapter 13

...Overall, it tended to suggest that Solrun had cancelled her application to the nunnery. It started with boys who didn't look as if they'd ever raised razor to cheek and it ended with the Italian-looking smoothie and the rip-mark where the badge had been. In between were young blokes bulging their biceps beside swimming-pools, students trying to look tubercular and poetic, and sharpies poised with languid cigarettes and bored eyes. Men with moustaches, men with beards, men with shaggy sweaters, men with hand-stitched suits, men with bikes and motor-bikes and cars. And me, out of focus as usual, ringed in red, by a waterfall.

I sat and thought about it for a moment. I wasn't jealous. You couldn't be jealous of Solrun any more than you could hate the sun for shining on other people too...

Reluctan spy Sam Craven searches the flat of his former girlfriend Solrun.

To read earlier chapters of Colin Dunne’s spy thriller please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/black_ice/

In a tight corner, I can eat guillemot without complaint. Pushed, I can listen to a conversation about the art of bowling leg-breaks. What I cannot do — cheerfully, anyway — is both at the same time. So before the coffee came, I left Christopher and Ivan and took a taxi back to Vesturbrun.

My plan was quite simple: get back into the flat and have a good snoop around, particularly at the photo of Solrun's handsome boyfriend. If Petursson had the place staked out, as he almost certainly would, I could always say I'd nipped back to get my razor, and exit smartly.

At first I didn't think I'd get past the foyer. Petursson's man was taking it easy, thumbing through a magazine as he
sprawled on a low chair in the small lounge area just inside the door. All that registered on me was his light chamois jacket — they must pay their cops well around here. After that it was eyes ahead and straight towards the lift. I knew he was watching me, and any minute I was expecting to be called to heel.

But not one word. Up I went, and the same god that had installed short-sighted policemen downstairs had arranged for the door to Solrun's flat to be left open.

He'd also arranged for a whirlwind to go through the place. I couldn't believe it. Furniture was tipped over. Clothes were scattered everywhere. Drawers had been ripped open and emptied, books had been swept from their shelves, and even the mattress had been pulled off the bed.

My first thought was indignation that the cop downstairs should sit there reading up gardening tips while an intruder went through the flat. My second was that perhaps I shouldn't put in an official complaint: I was also an intruder. And the third was the photo album. It was still there, down the back of the radiator. The only surprise was that whoever had done the searching hadn't ripped the radiator off the wall.

For the second time, I sat down and opened it. This time, I began — as they say — at the beginning.

Overall, it tended to suggest that Solrun had cancelled her application to the nunnery. It started with boys who didn't look as if they'd ever raised razor to cheek and it ended with the Italian-looking smoothie and the rip-mark where the badge had been. In between were young blokes bulging their biceps beside swimming-pools, students trying to look tubercular and poetic, and sharpies poised with languid cigarettes and bored eyes. Men with moustaches, men with beards, men with shaggy sweaters, men with hand-stitched suits, men with bikes and motor-bikes and cars. And me, out of focus as usual, ringed in red, by a waterfall.

I sat and thought about it for a moment. I wasn't jealous. You couldn't be jealous of Solrun any more than you could hate the sun for shining on other people too. She was a bit on the universal side, was Solrun.

I turned to the last page again. I knew what the long-spiked chestnut was now. It was a few years since I'd seen a picture of it, which probably explained why I hadn't recognised it immediately. It was a model of the first sputnik — you know, the Russians' vintage spacecraft. And the only people who'd be at all likely to give pride-of-place to a junky chunk of patriotic souvenir like that would not be Italian.

Once again I studied the man. Somehow he looked familiar now. He certainly didn't look Russian. I know it's wrong to nominate racial stereotypes but it is remarkable how many Russian men do have faces like overpacked satchels, and Russians don't usually dress like him either.

Or cops. You don't usually see cops dressed in exquisite chamois jackets. That's why he looked familiar. The man in the photograph with Solrun — Russian, Martian or whatever the hell he was — was at this moment sitting downstairs, cool as you like.

I was going to do something about that, right there and then, only this chain saw started at the top of my head and zoomed straight through to my torso and sliced me in two at the pelvis.
Either he was downstairs, cool as you like. Or he was upstairs, in charge of chain saws.

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