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Looking for Bertie Part V
02-03-2012, 08:59 AM
Post: #1
Looking for Bertie Part V

Friday 24 March 2011
Windsor Golf and Country Club, Nairobi

For the next few seconds, Ruth registered flashes of sensation that her mind would only later assemble into a coherent whole. There was a glimpse of men in dark clothes, their faces hidden by balaclavas. There was the deafening sound of gunfire and the smell of cordite. And there was Harry’s weight pressing her into the floor as his body covered hers. She heard harsh voices arguing in a language she didn’t know. Harry’s head was turned towards the melee. He moved as if to get up and Ruth realised that he intended to intervene. Panic flooded her and she gripped the lapels of his jacket with a strength she didn’t know she possessed and yanked him down again. He looked at her, startled, and everything she felt for him was plainly written in her eyes, including her fear for his life. He stopped moving and one of his hands found its way to her cheek, cupping it reassuringly.
“No-one move!” One of the masked men called loudly.
Harry slowly turned his head and watched them drag the blonde impersonator off through the trees. Two of the men stayed until they heard a vehicle start up in the distance. Only when its sound had faded into the night, did they turn and disappear into the trees themselves.

Harry was the first to move. He scrambled to his feet and pulled Ruth upright. His hands framed her face as he asked urgently, “Are you all right?”
She nodded, still somewhat stunned by events, and the relief in his eyes matched that in hers.
He turned away and pulled out his mobile.
“What’s the local emergency number?” he asked in the general direction of the frozen group of people still cowering on the ground.
When no-one responded, he marched over and hauled one of the local men to his feet.
“What’s the emergency number for the police?” he repeated urgently.
The man stared at him with wide, terrified eyes.
“Come on! Time is of the essence,” Harry snapped irritably, and the man stammered out the number.

Ruth watched on as Harry took control of the situation with practised ease. He phoned the police, kept everyone together and made sure none of the evidence was disturbed, and organised for the first-aid personnel of the club to come down and tend to the shocked guests. This was who Harry Pearce was, she realised. He was a man tailor-made for times of crisis. He did not bother with attempts to reassure the frightened group of people – he left that to her. Ruth moved among them with comforting words and touches and made certain that the most serious cases of shock were attended to first. When the police arrived, the group of people listened in amazement at the details Harry was able to provide:
“There were eight assailants, all black men. They all had handguns. Four had Glocks, while two of the others had Berettas. I couldn’t see the other two weapons clearly. They came through the trees, four from the left and four from the right. It was obvious that they had only one target in mind – the man they thought was David Percy.”
A representative from one of the local charities interrupted, “But it is Mr Percy that they took. He’s been here for-“
Harry cut him off impatiently. “No, it is not. The man they took is an impostor who looks a lot like the real David Percy, but it’s not him.”
The other guests shared confused looks as Harry continued. “The four assailants that were closest to him went straight for him, while the others fired in the air to distract us. One man was about to shoot the target when two of the others interfered and an argument broke out.”
He turned back to the group. “Did anyone here understand what was said?”
One of the waiters, a young local man, stepped forward. “Yes Sir. One man told the second not to shoot Mr Percy – he was worth more alive. The second man said that their instructions were to kill him, but the first man said the old man would pay more to get his son back alive.”
Harry glanced at Ruth with a grim expression.

- 0 –
One hour later

They were back at the hotel. Harry paced Ruth’s room whilst she sat on the bed and tried not to be distracted by his dishevelled appearance. His jacket was off – he’d draped it around her shoulders at some stage during the aftermath – and he’d loosened his bowtie and a few buttons. There were streaks of dirt on his sleeve and trousers. They were soon joined by Tim, who had a bottle of Scotch under his arm. Harry was not overly impressed by the label, but needs must. He poured both Ruth and himself generous measures before briefly relating the evening’s developments to the journalist. With Tim’s added bulk the room felt overcrowded and claustrophobic, and Ruth moved over to the window and opened it as wide as it could. The sounds of the evening traffic drifted in along with the aroma of roasting meat from the restaurant across the street.
“But why would someone impersonate David Percy?” Tim asked when Harry finished his account.
None of them had an answer to that.
Harry moved on. “It is now imperative that we find the real David Percy as soon as possible. Once these people realise their mistake, they could come after him. We need to get to him first.”
“Sure. But how?” Tim wanted to know.
Harry turned to Ruth. “Ruth?”

She sat down on the bed again and mulled over the facts available to them. Harry nursed his Scotch and watched her brain work, confident that if anyone could come up with an idea, it was Ruth.
“Okay, we know David visited Kenya with his father a few months ago,” she began. “We also know that he enjoyed the services of some of the high class prostitutes whilst here. It seems a reasonable assumption that, if he is in Kenya at the moment, he is shacked up somewhere with one of the ladies he met on his previous visit.”
“One of the upmarket hotels?” Tim suggested, but Harry shook his head.
“Too public. Ruth, do we have a list of properties owned by the Percys?”
“Yea.” She leaned across to her suitcase and pulled out a folder.
He sat down next to her to look through the list together. “Tim, why don’t you work your contacts and see if you can find out whether any of the more expensive prostitutes has dropped out of circulation the last few weeks.”
He handed over a key. “Use my room. Across the corridor.”

Once they were alone, they went through the list of properties, identifying the ones in Kenya. Harry was very conscious of Ruth’s bare shoulder pressing against his. He could see a bruise forming on her shoulder-blade, and it reminded him of her softness under him as he’d pressed her into the floor. He swallowed hard and concentrated on the list. Ruth pointed at one of the properties.
“This one looks promising, Harry. It’s a secluded farm on the border of the Masai Mara game reserve, not too far from the Percys’ tea plantations. It’s apparently used as a sort of lodge to impress business contacts.”
“That does sound promising.”
Tim burst back into the room. “I think I’ve identified the woman, Harry. She’s known in the trade as Brown Honey, and she’s been out of circulation for the last ten days. She told a friend she’s going south with a client.”
Ruth said, “That farm is to the south,” and Harry made up his mind.
“We need a helicopter,” he told Tim, and then he looked at Ruth. “Care for a trip south?”

- 0 –

By the time Tim succeeded in rustling up a helicopter and pilot, Ruth had found a nearby game lodge with a helipad that would provide them with a vehicle to drive around the area. Even Harry was impressed by this, and said so. As he moved toward the door, Tim turned to Ruth with a look of disbelief.
“Bloody hell, did I just hear Harry Pearce compliment you? I never thought I’d see the day.”
“Shall we go?” Harry said caustically and stalked out. Tim laughed and gave Ruth a wink as they followed.

- 0 –
Saturday 26 March 2011
Percy farm near Masai Mara

Harry let the car coast to a stop outside the gate and doused the lights. The first daylight began to streak the sky in the east, turning the low clouds pink.
“I think we’ll walk from here,” he told Ruth, resolutely ignoring the weariness seeping through his limbs. He wanted the element of surprise.
They made their way up to the house quietly. A long paved drive took them through clumps of trees which eventually opened onto an expansive lawn dotted with flowerbeds. Birds were singing lustily, celebrating the new day with no apparent concern for the two people walking past. There was no other sound to be heard. Harry took in a lungful of the clean air and enjoyed the earthy scents that came with it – wet grass, decaying plant matter and something sweet which he couldn’t identify.

They reached the house without incident and stepped onto the veranda. Harry tried the screen door, but it was latched on the inside. He took out a pocketknife and slid the blade between door and jamb, then lifted the latch. He was aware of Ruth’s quiet breath behind his shoulder as he eased the door open. She handed him the torch she was carrying and he shone it around the room before stepping inside. They slowly made their way from room to room, and encountered no-one until they came to what appeared to be the master bedroom. The door was pulled to and Harry pushed it open slowly. In the gloom he could make out the shape of two bodies in the huge bed. As he reached for the light switch, he fervently hoped that they’d got this right, otherwise the next few seconds would be a tad embarrassing.

He flipped the light on as he stepped into the room and watched as the two figures began to squirm and waken. He breathed a sigh of relief when one of the heads turned to the door and revealed the features of David Percy. As soon as the young man’s eyes blinked open, Harry said pleasantly, “Good morning, David.”
David stared at the two strangers in befuddlement. “Who the fuck are you?” he croaked blearily.
“We were hired by your mother to find you. She hasn’t heard from you for two weeks. She was worried.”
David’s answer was a snort of derision. “I find that hard to believe.”
He was fully awake by now and sat up in the bed. Harry’s attention shifted to the woman next to David. Her head was shaved and dark eyes stared at him from an oval face with high cheekbones. She was beautiful.
He said to her, “Why don’t you go and get a cup of coffee? I need to have a few words with young David.”
She looked to the man next to her, and he nodded at her. “Go take a shower, Honey.”
Without a word she got out of bed, her lithe limbs moving gracefully. She walked past them, naked, her dark skin glowing in the early morning light. To Ruth’s amusement Harry kept his eyes on David, but the tips of his ears turned red at the woman’s unselfconscious display of her body. When the bathroom door closed behind her, Harry said tersely, “Get dressed. We’ll be in the kitchen. I need some coffee.” He turned on his heel and shepherded Ruth out of the room.

- 0 –

When David finally joined them, a pot of coffee stood on the table and Harry and Ruth cradled steaming mugs. He poured himself one as well and slouched down in a chair, his bare feet stretched out before him. Harry regarded the young man steadily. David clearly wanted to convey an air of nonchalance, but there was something underneath – not quite fear, but a wariness he was trying to hide. Harry took another sip of coffee. He desperately needed the caffeine to revive his flagging energy levels.
He said, “Someone has been traipsing around Kenya pretending to be you.” He paused and added, “You have an impostor.”
David blinked, and then he laughed.

It was not quite the reaction they were expecting, and Harry and Ruth exchanged a puzzled glance.
“You find that amusing?” Harry enquired.
“Yeah. That would be Nate. He’s not an impostor, mate.”
“Oh? What would you call him?”
“A… representative.” He smirked at them.
His attitude ground on Harry’s nerves, and he took a deep breath before retorting icily, “We have not had the best of nights. This is not the time to play your silly little games, and I don’t have the inclination to listen to any of your bullshit. So give us the facts: who is Nate, and why is he going around pretending to be you?”
David held up a hand. “All right. No need to get your knickers in a twist. Nathan is my valet. We look a lot alike, and I saw an opportunity to have some fun. At first it was just for a bit of amusement – I trained him to be me. I would send him into a room full of acquaintances and see how long it took them to notice.”
He broke off and laughed. “Mind you, he proved to be bloody good at it. The little runt’s got ambition, and he took to the role of nobleman like a duck to water. When I got to university, I had a thought. Why should I attend all those boring classes if I have Nate? Unfortunately I haven’t yet found a way to let him write the exams. Once I do, we may finally pass.”
He nattered on, too wrapped up in his own cleverness to notice the darkening expressions of the two people across the table.
“When I decided to come to Kenya for a little R&R with Honey, I hit upon the idea of sending Nate around to do some community work. I thought that if it looked like I was out here doing some charity stuff it would keep my parents off my back for a while. Apparently I was wrong.”

There was an ominous silence. Then Harry said, “Nathan was kidnapped last night.”
David sat up straight, momentarily shocked, but then shook his head. “Don’t be ridiculous. Who would want to kidnap a valet?”
“Someone who thought they were kidnapping the son of the Duke of Suffolk,” Ruth snapped.
Harry added, “Don’t be obtuse. You sent Nathan to impersonate you at a gala for one of your family’s community projects in Nairobi, during which he was snatched by armed men and dragged off to God knows where.”
What? I didn’t send him there. I told that useless bastard to stay away from Nairobi. Too many people there had met me when I accompanied my father on his last business trip here.”
He shrugged and added snidely, “I did think he was becoming too big for his boots.”
Harry glared at him. “Oh yes, it’s all Nathan’s fault.” The sarcasm dripped from every word. “I expect you to get a phone call from the kidnappers soon, demanding money for the return of your valet.”
David opened his mouth to object but Harry overrode him. “Because you can be damn sure the first thing Nathan did was to convince them that he is, alas, not David Percy V.”
As if by prior arrangement, David’s mobile began to vibrate at that very moment.

All eyes turned to it. David sat frozen, unable to comprehend what was happening.
“Answer it,” Harry commanded, and the young man snatched it up.
“Yes?... Who the fuck is thi-... You can’t order me around, do you know who I am?!... What? Wait-“
He slowly put the phone down, and Harry looked ready to strangle him. Ruth put a restraining hand on his arm and could feel his muscles bunched tensely through his shirt.
“They demanded ten thousand dollars, said they are sending me a picture as incentive,” the young man announced. His phone pinged and he glanced at the image before getting up to pace the floor. Harry took the phone and he and Ruth looked at the picture of Nathan, who had obviously been beaten severely.
Harry said, “Ten thousand isn’t much. You should be able to get that together quickly-“
“I’m not bloody paying!” David shouted. “If he’d listened-“
“Harry!” Ruth said sharply, but it was too late. He was on his feet in a flash and grabbed the other man by the collar. He dragged him over to the table and snatched the mobile off it, holding it a few inches in front of David’s nose.
“Look at him! That should have been you. He is there because you found it amusing to train him like a performing monkey, to impersonate you. Just so that you could shirk your responsibilities and shack up with a prostitute. And now you have the bloody nerve to blame him for it.”
He shoved David away in disgust, his chest heaving. After a few deep breaths he continued more calmly. “It’s time to grow up, David. A title and money is not enough to earn you respect. A man does that by taking responsibility for his actions. You got Nathan into this mess, and you must get him out of it.”
David had backed away from Harry and stood with his back pressed against the wall. His eyes focussed on the mobile and he wiped a hand over his face. Eventually he nodded, all the bravado knocked out of him.
“I’ll get the money together,” he said softly.


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02-03-2012, 10:10 AM
Post: #2
RE: Looking for Bertie Part V
Terrific chapter and a nice bit of fluff too. I thought Ruth's description of Harry as a man for a crisis was very apt. And I am glad Harry finally got through to David. Looking forward to more.

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02-03-2012, 10:42 AM
Post: #3
RE: Looking for Bertie Part V
"Tips of his ears turned red" LOL. Smile

Don't like this David chap. What a waste of space.

I'm wondering why they only asked for ten thousand dollars though? That's chicken feed for a family like that. I'm wondering if there's more too it.

Thanks for the update Silktie. I'm currently at home sick with a cold, so this has cheered me up. Smile

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02-03-2012, 02:17 PM
Post: #4
Ruth RE: Looking for Bertie Part V
I liked the image of the tips of Harry's ears turning pink. It's sweet!

I agree with TL that David is a waste of space. He should be careful or Harry may very well trade David for Nathan and then leave David behind with the kidnappers. Though as TL said, the ransom amount is very low. (Perhaps I should have just quoted TL's post and said ditto.) Smile

I continue to like Tim and his comment about Harry's compliment of Ruth made me laugh. This was a wonderful chapter to wake up and read. Thanks for sharing.

Zaf: "Shouldn't you be in prison or something?"
Ros: "This is the something."
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02-03-2012, 03:22 PM
Post: #5
RE: Looking for Bertie Part V
This chapter is a great example of "God is in the details."

There's a language Ruth doesn't know!?! Blasphemy! Wink

"Brown Honey", huh? Good choice. Silba

As for the ransom amount, I suppose it would depend on who is asking for it? Clearly the kidnappers are local. 10,000 USD=830,000 Kenian shillings. I imagine that would be a heckuva a lot of money to a Kenian? Esp. b/c the dollar is in high demand right now by oil importers. The question is, who is in charge? I am guessing that you have salted this chapter with a bunch of clues? Glocks, Berettas, ransom specifically in USD. To what end, I have no clue.

Something in me is suspecting Tim with something more. If only because he dared to present Harry with any less than the best Scotch! C'mon, Harry. Beggars can't be choosers. Big Grin

On a character level, I think what you do best is inextricably interweave their personal and professional life together so smoothly without over-romanticizing it. For me at least, that is really the essence of the beauty of that relationship.

Now cracks a noble heart. Good-night, sweet [Spooks];
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

~Wm. Shakespeare, Hamlet
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02-03-2012, 07:57 PM
Post: #6
RE: Looking for Bertie Part V
Great chapter as always! I can only reiterate what everyone else has said! Some great moments, Harry's skills coming to the fore and Ruth's intelligence shining through (although I was a little dismayed to find there was a language out there she wasn't fluent in! Wink)

As AC said. I love the way you you mix the professional and personal, there were so many little moments between them but all completely in context and character!

Looking forward to more and finding out if Nate survives, Bertie is as bad as it seems and who's behind it all! Also hoping Harry and Ruth find a little time for some R&R - they must be exhausted!
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