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The Keeper of Secrets: The Hawk

Chewing onto his dinner his mind was consumed by new developments. Intense was the right word to describe his thoughts. He had his fill of dinner. He emptied his mind and sat there with his eyes closed taking in measured breaths. He knew this was probably the last time he will be accorded the luxury of emptying his mind. He stood up and carried his plate to the sink and washed it. The ice-cold water numbed his hand. Leaving the rice and gravy on the kitchen top he went up to his room.

The last few hours he had spent in a towel. Cooking, eating, mentally playing out possible scenarios and all he had in his head were a lot of cobwebs. He had to clear them to be able to think fast and more importantly think right.

He dug into his bag and found a black jeans and matching shirt. He wore his black leather gloves and shoes and on his way out picked up his coat and keys and his glasses. Outside the temperatures had dipped and he blended into the night with his coat being black too. As he closed the door behind him the cold wind hit his face like millions of small arrows that pierced right through and entered the flesh and bones below. He listened to the door click shut. He dropped the keys in his breast pocket and started to clean his lenses standing right at the door. He could work without them but now was not the time to test his training. For now all his mental and physical resources had to be directed to the problem at hand.

He started walking hands in his coat pockets. It was a full moon. He walked and walked. It was his way of coming to conclusions before they actually occurred and preparing his responses and reactions for the same. He did not wear a watch now. Time was not of essence as of yet; possible outcomes were. Tired from walking and working all day he collapsed on a rock on the road side. He slumped and pushed his chin into his chest and let himself the luxury of closing his eyes. There was no one around, he sensed it. It was one of the reasons he took the house. He listened to the wind billowing and screaming in his ear. Driven by the need to throw something he picked up a stone. It was flat and had sharp edges. He held it in his right hand palm and closed it to make a fist. The cold stone turned his hand numb. He flicked the stone away. He hauled himself up for his walk back to his house.

The hands automatically found his coat side pockets on his way back. He knew what had to be done and he was ready for it. He had to prepare himself for it though. He unlocked the front door and walked into the warmth of his home. He walked straight to his study and computer and went back online. Slipping out of his jacket and gloves he also switched on the television and kept listening to all the news channels in bits and pieces along with his reading on the internet. 5 hours later he felt drained. He had a lot of scenarios to work with. He dragged himself to bed and fell asleep. This was the price for not being caught unawares.

4 hours went by in a flash. His biological clock woke him up at 6.30 am. He got up with a plan and today it would be set in motion if what he foresaw occurred. He was tired enough to have fallen asleep in his jeans and shirt. Pushing his shirt sleeves up, he brushed his teeth and splashed cold water on his face. The ice cold water made him alert like a coiled snake ready to attack. He went downstairs and made himself a cup of coffee and again sat at the computer searching for more connections. There were none visible. He mentally ran over all that he had looked at and yet he could not come up with any more links. Instinct told him this had to be something big. It was never so quite with just one shot. There were others that were part of this but none of their patterns had been found by him. He knew too much for he was the first along with the bureaucrat to set it all up.

He knew he had to call in but not from here he decided. Knowing the bureaucrat, if it was that big he would find him no matter where he was. He switched the television on again and watched the business news. Still nothing new had occurred in the 4 hours that he was asleep. Business was 24 hrs a day beast if one place slept another woke up to it. It needed a lot of attention and tending. Mergers, acquisitions, takeovers; the markets all had some news to give all over the world. They all poured in by the second in this digital age. Unknown to many people there lay a dark underbelly of side deals and untraceable blood money relating to the outer business world. One for appearance, one for the dark night. He had seen it all and yet it always held his attention with no boredom seeping in.

He was yet to unpack fully. He left the coffee mug in the kitchen sink and walked to his car to get his bags. 2 trips later he had all his bags in his room. He set to arrange his stuff and spent a good 3 hours doing it. With the bags empty and stuffed away he packed a lighter travel bag if he needed to travel faster and in short notice.

He showered and shaved and had the leftovers from yesterday as breakfast. As he was planning his next moves and dressing up his private line began ringing. Nobody had this number. Privacy was a thing of the past in the digital age and some one with resources could find such small information one way or another. He was not surprised; he had foreseen this as a possibility. He smiled as he already knew the first line of this conversation. “Did I disturb you?” asked the voice at the other end. The bureaucrat’s voice had not changed over the years. They both were grandmasters of this elaborate game of chess that was painstakingly put together. He sat on his bed and knew very well the first line was not to be answered. It was merely a conversation starter. “When and where?” he asked. “You are impatient for a doctor.” the voice cheerfully stated in an almost playful voice. “Yes but I am called only when the patient is grave.” His even voice gave out no emotion, not anger nor irritation at being called for a job. The bureaucrat’s voice became slightly more businesslike and continued, “Your expertise in understanding the Stockholm syndrome is needed by me and my team. Would London be a good enough place to meet in a week’s time?” The bureaucrat had thought of all possibilities and had him trapped with only answering in the positive. “Very well then, London in a week’s time and before I forget, you do have my phone number, don’t you doctor?” He just mouthed a yes and understood that the things were delicate and circumstances against them. Time the other most important factor he was not sure though. He could not predict if he was swimming against the tide of time, not without the full picture. He had to wait until all or at least part of it was revealed.

Once the call was over he went to make himself coffee. The biting cold morning and hot coffee felt good. He finished with the laundry. He did not like leaving behind work that can be finished. The business news no longer held his attention. In sometime he would have to leave for his favoured hotel. He wore a blue shirt to go with his black pants and wore a tailor-made coat. He intended to look every bit like a businessman on the move. His watch just showed time, for that was all that mattered now. He wore his glasses and slipped into his leather shoes and picked up the light travel bag he had earlier packed. He knew this would happen and had planned it in advance.

He checked the entire house. There was nothing of value in there. He walked into the garage and backed the car out and walked back in to pick his bag. On his way out he shut the main line that supplied power and gas to his home and let the door close behind his back. He sat behind the wheel of the car and took in the crisp cold air. He revved up his car.

The drive to the hotel was uneventful. The person manning the front desk was surprised. He was a good customer and had left just the day before yesterday with all bags and fair amount of groceries. He did not need to ask, he knew it was his usual room with the view. He handed the keys to him but this time all he got back was a piercing look. He took the keys and carried his light luggage to his room. He dropped the bag on the floor and went to the restaurant. He tipped generously and that meant little waiting for him. He noted that it was the same waitress as last time. She herself sensed that his demeanor was back to the person they wanted to know so much about. She was attracted to the enigma that he was but maintained her poise. He ordered his food and coffee and asked if she could get today’s newspapers. She acquiesced for that demand in a minute. The food and coffee followed. He was the talk among the staff for his return. They had a name for him too. They called him ‘The Hawk’ after his soul piercing look. It was as if he knew what they were thinking that unsettled and attracted many. Most of the regulars there they knew but he had maintained his silence and that made them have too many questions.

He finished his lunch and the newspapers and as was his quirk, folded them neatly and left a generous tip. He went to his room and called the front desk. Ordering on phone was far easier as there were inquisitive eyes and ears. He ordered a flight ticket for Stockholm early next morning and settled to go over the plans he had. Responses had to be limited and surprise or consternation was not to be felt. The bureaucrat left very little to chance. Luck; the bureaucrat believed was a manufactured product than of mere happenstance.

He got out of his shirt and lay on the bed, hands behind his head and staring at the ceiling. The front desk called him stating he had a caller. “You are becoming predictable” said the voice on the other end. The bureaucrat’s voice was accusing and sounded disappointed that it was so easy a trace. “Why have you called?” he asked. “Just checking on you.” said the bureaucrat. He informed the bureaucrat that they will stick to the plan and there are no changes.

He fell back on the bed and fell asleep. It was a luxury he was according himself for the coming days. He slept a good 8 hours. It was late evening when he woke up. He looked at the time in his watch. It showed 6.30. He needed a shower. He just stood under water and tried to relax but he could not. He was too close to knowing what the chaos was all about. He finished his bath and decided to have dinner early. He found his black jeans and his blue shirt. He wanted to relax a bit before he went out to meet the bureaucrat. He stepped out of his room and walked to the restaurant taking the stairs. He had put on some weight and had to lose some of it. As he walked to the restaurant he folded his shirt cuffs and realized he had forgotten his watch in the room. He ignored that and went ahead to the restaurant. He found a place to sit. The restaurant was deserted except for 2 couples sitting at either ends of the rectangular room.

He was asked for the order by the same woman as earlier in the day. She had got some newspapers along with her for him. He smiled and thought that the bureaucrat was probably right, he was getting predictable. He ordered food and went through the newspapers. He looked up from the paper and saw his food arriving. He paid little attention to his food. He wolfed it down fast and for a change took the newspapers with him and walked to the front desk. The man in charge there knew him by face and likes and dislikes. They maintained a database of their regular clients. The approaching man he knew pretty much ordered everything over a period of time and it made a dislike hard to point out.

“Good evening, sir. How may I help you?” He saw the man trying to read and understand him. “It was about my ticket to Stockholm. There has been a change of plans. Could you cancel it?” he said in a voice that told the man at the desk that no questions would be liked. “Right away, sir.” said the hotel employee.

He took the elevator to his room. He suddenly realized that the stakes in this game had increased and that it was going to be very difficult and dangerous. He had realized for the bureaucrat to track him down was unusual especially since the plans only allowed calling each other when things were totally out of control. The usually meant excessive damage and image control. They never had to use it till now but something had gone really wrong and that was why the bureaucrat was tracking him keenly. He surmised that the morning breakfast would be with the bureaucrat in the restaurant he just left. It was left to be seen what the bureaucrat would add to this chaos.

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