Madrid: American Embassy – 21st August – Evening
One of the resident staffers at the embassy was in the office of Claudia Reyes. Mike Alvarez was connected with at least one of the security services of the United States of America.
“What do we know, Mike?” asked Claudia.
“We know that an American citizen, whose name I won’t reveal to you for security reasons, has been shot dead at almost point-blank range by a man of the Muslim faith, whom we believe was from North Africa.”
“And I heard that the assassin was killed too, along with an accomplice nearby, in two rather different ways,” replied Claudia, wrinkling her nose at the diplomacy of the question.
“Yes, the shooter had his skull smashed by a weight, taken from a table from a nearby outdoor restaurant. The weight was used to keep the umbrellas in place.”
“So, pre-meditated then, Mike. Those weights are heavy, we’re looking for a strong man here.”
“Agreed on both accounts. Whoever it was also knew how to kill people with a knife as the blade severed the spinal column, causing instant death. Two very clinical and sadistic murders.”
“A professional hitman then?”
“Agreed, which is why he’s flown the scene and does not want to come forward as the hero the media have portrayed him as.”
“He won’t be collecting the reward money either,” said Claudia looking at the notes Alvarez had given her. “Who is the guy, I mean I am not sure why you can’t tell me his name.”
“He’s been touring northern Spain with some of his buddies, places such as Pamplona, Burgos, Valladolid, and Leon. All on the train.”
“Wait,” said Claudia, “Burgos? On the train? When was he in Burgos?”
“I don’t know, I have just read the notes from the interviews, and these remarks were the back story on why they were in Spain. What’s special about Burgos?”
“It might be something and nothing, but an American tourist, James Adam, was attacked on the train there. I will ask Susan to double check this.”
Mike Alvarez nodded and waited while Claudia sent Susan del Piero a text and an email. Susan was out of the office at the moment.
“Do you think these terrorists followed them across northern Spain?” asked Claudia once she’d stopped writing.
“Could be, could be, not necessarily on the train, but watching at the stations, waiting for an opportunity to strike. There’s a whole network of them in this country, I am sure of it. It’s like the Reconquista in reverse.”
“So, Mike, what else can you tell me about the dead man? You can’t tell me his name, but is he famous or something, is there likely to be a backlash?”
Mike Alvarez smiled and readjusted his position in Claudia’s deliberately uncomfortable wooden chair. She offered people a choice – leather or wood – and it always interested her which option they chose.
Alvarez looked at her and said, “In these days, many people are famous for a short amount of time – the Warhol quote of fame for fifteen minutes is very true – but let’s just say this guy was infamous, for what, two hours maybe. And perhaps three or four times during the last two years, yeah, about that length of time.”
“What? Infamous for two hours, three or four times. Who is he, a traffic warden in Beverly Hills putting parking tickets on celebrity vehicles in the name of efficiency and strict interpretation of the parking laws? Huh?”
“No, he is, or was, a trophy hunter, someone seen smirking behind the carcasses of cute, dead animals. He had many death threats, but he wore them like a badge, never thinking someone would carry out their threat.”
“Are you saying these Muslim terrorists are animal rights activists who have taken down a trophy hunter? That doesn’t jive with me. I don’t believe many Muslims believe in animal rights.”
Mike Alvarez smiled and leaned forward onto her desk.
“You know what else doesn’t jive, Claudia, why a Muslim terrorist would kill just one tourist, when he could have sprayed the whole train with bullets.”
“Right, but who knows what goes on in the mind of a deranged lunatic.”
“This was a targeted attack, Claudia. Don’t tell anyone this, but the man who died was shot eight times in the head, eight times in the face, with a pattern that an ashtray could cover. I know he was close, but that is one hell of a marksman we have here.”
“That’s more in keeping with cleaving someone’s skull and severing the spinal column of another man, isn’t it?” said Claudia. “Maybe our hero isn’t the hero, but the man responsible for all three deaths and that is why he has not come forward, maybe he killed our fellow American.”