Carpenter wrung the mop into the pail and turned to the sergeant. “Do you think you could
The sergeant reluctantly took a dry mop from the broom closet and began going over the area Carpenter had wet-mopped.
“Thank you,” she said. She turned to Roofer, who had been working at the computer for half an hour. “What about it?” she asked.
“It’s a tough one,” he said. “These people know what they’re doing. Do you think there might be some paper files with this information?”
“Perhaps you didn’t notice, but there are no filing cabinets in this building.”
“Oh.” He began typing again.
Carpenter checked the time. “It’s going to start getting light in less than an hour, and we don’t know what time the watch changes.”
“Pressure won’t help,” Roofer said. “Kindly shut up and let me work.”
Carpenter resisted the temptation to ream out the junior officer. He was right, after all.
The sergeant sat down at a table and pulled out a pack of cigarettes.
“Don’t do that.” she said. “Have you noticed that there are no ashtrays in the building? If they’re all nonsmokers, they’ll smell the smoke.”
The sergeant sighed and put away the cigarettes.
“Go and check on the big one.” she said.
The sergeant got up and went into the office, then came out again. “Sleeping like a baby,” he said. “I put him in the same position he was in when we arrived. When he wakes up, he’ll think he had a bad dream.”
“He’d better not wake up,” Carpenter muttered. She was looking at the door to the outside when the knob started to turn.
She waved at the sergeant to get his attention, then pointed at the door. The sergeant tiptoed toward it and took up a position to one side.
The door opened, to reveal one of their own men. “When are you going to be done?” he asked. “It’s going to start getting light soon.”
“Shut up and get back to your post,” the sergeant said. “We’ll be done when we’re done.”
Carpenter walked over to Roofer and stood looking over his shoulder.
“If you want to help,” the young man said, “wake up those people and torture them until they give you a password.”
Carpenter picked up the woman’s purse and dug out her wallet. “Try Susan,” she said.
Roofer typed. “No good.”
“Try Anne, with an
Carpenter found a National Health card and read off the number. “If that doesn’t work, try the last four digits.”
Roofer typed. “Well, I’ll be damned,” he said. “I’m in.”
“Good, now find the client list, and let’s get on with it.”
“What’s the website’s name again?”
Carpenter replaced the wallet and put the purse back where she had found it.
From inside the adjoining office came a loud moan. Carpenter ran to the door and looked inside. The big man was trying to lift his head. It fell back onto the desk with a thud.
She ran back to Roofer. “We’ve got to get out of here.”
“I’m doing a search,” he said. “It’s a slow computer.”
The sergeant stood and picked up one of the bookends Carpenter had used. “I’ll put him to sleep,” he said.
“No,” Carpenter replied. “He’s not awake yet. Just watch him.”
Roofer typed a few keystrokes. “Got it!” he shouted.
Carpenter ran to the desk and looked over his shoulder. “Print it out, and quickly!”
Roofer hit the print button and collected a sheet of paper from the machine.
Carpenter snatched it from him, folded it, and put it into the hip pocket of her jeans. “Put the computer back the way you found it,” she said, grabbing the young woman under the arms and heaving her toward the desk.
“Done,” Roofer said, standing up and helping Carpenter with the woman.
They put her in her chair, folded her arms on the desk, and laid her head on her arms.
The sergeant clapped his hands, and they both turned and looked at him. He pointed to the office. The big man was waking up.
Carpenter ran over, took the bookend from him and put it back in its place. She got into her slicker and led the way out the door.
It was still raining, but not as hard, and a dull light was penetrating the heavy clouds. They ran toward the jetty, collecting the others as they went, and soon they were in the dinghy headed toward the point.
The sergeant produced a handheld radio. “Mother, this is baby,” he said.
“Go ahead, baby,” the general’s voice came back.
“I’ve begun my journey.”
“I’ll switch on the masthead light.”
As they cleared the point a wave struck the dinghy, and Carpenter slipped off her seat into the bottom and about two inches of water. She clawed her way back, then felt in her hip pocket for the sheet of paper. It was wet. She pulled it out, stuck it under her slicker and her shirt, next to a breast. It was cold and clammy, but it soon absorbed her body warmth.
A moment later, the sergeant pointed to a light in the distance. “There!” he shouted. “Make for the light.”
Five long minutes later, they were alongside the heaving yacht, and men were pulling Carpenter on deck.
“Shall we sink the dinghy?” the sergeant asked.
“No,” Sir Ewan called back. “It might wash ashore. Get it aboard and suck it out.”
The men heaved the large dinghy aboard, connected it to the pump, and hit the reverse switch. The dinghy began to collapse.
Carpenter went below, found her small duffel and retrieved the satellite phone. She slid back the hatch, pulled the spray hood over her head, and tapped in a number.
“Yes?” a voice said almost immediately.
“It’s Aunt Rose,” she said. “Your cousin lives in Arlington, Virginia. Do you want me to read you the name and address?”
“No,” the voice said. “Bring it ashore and fax it. How was your journey?”
“Piece of cake,” she said.
“Good Auntie,” he replied, then broke the connection.
Carpenter went below and made herself a mug of tea, adding a lot of brandy.