“Raymond, this is Michael Tate. How’s it going?”
“Michael? Bloody ‘ell, ‘ol boy. How long has it been?”
“At least a couple of years, Raymond,” I responded. “I apologize for not staying in touch. I trust you are well.”
“Not bad, not bad at all, ‘ol boy. It’s great to hear from you. How are you doing?”
“Reasonably well, Raymond and I hate to be calling out of the blue to ask a favor, but I really need some help right now.”
Raymond Tudor was an old friend in MI‑6, the British secret service. I had helped extricate him from a rather sticky situation in the Middle East about three years ago, and we had become close friends. He always said that he could never repay me for helping him then. I was about to give him the chance to try.
I related to him what had happened over the last couple of days, giving him as much information as I could about Trane.
“Ah yes, the infamous Lionel Trane,” came the snide retort over the phone. “Mr. Trane has many aliases. He likes to make up funny ones like that one. Another favorite of his is Clark Barr. He’s somewhat of a rogue agent of your NSA. They’re reluctant to claim him, but he’s definitely on their payroll. And you say he made an attempt on your life?”
“Well, I don’t have any hard evidence,” I said. “But planes don’t typically just explode in mid-air as flight 2620 seems to have done. I just have this nagging feeling that my revelation to him that I was quitting the business may have triggered some defensive notion in his mind that I was no longer reliable.
“Anyway, I need your help in tracking him down. As I said, the last time I saw him was on Maui in Hawaii.”
“Yes, well, his real name is Hugh Standish. I’m quite sure we have a file on him. I’ll have a look tomorrow. It’s eight p.m. here now. Let’s see — we’re eleven hours ahead of you there. I’ll call back around ten our time tomorrow morning. That will make it one a.m. your time. Is that going to work for you?”
“Sure, Raymond. This is my cell phone number. You can reach me on it. And Raymond. I really appreciate it.”
“Not at all, ‘ol boy. Least I can do. Cheerio,” were his final words as he rang off.
Typical British, I thought. They make out like tracking down someone half a world away is everyday routine. No wonder the Germans lost!
I decided to forego the hotel continental breakfast and go in search of breakfast out on the street. It’s somewhat ironic that, amidst all the glamour of the Waikiki beach area, there are a few little places somewhat out of the way where one can get a great breakfast for six or seven dollars, including eggs, sausage, pancakes, and coffee. Whereas one would have to pay thirty-five dollars for the breakfast buffet at the Royal Hawaiian.
I guess the impending excitement of the chase had produced a great appetite in me. I was fairly ravenous, and I had nearly fourteen hours to kill waiting for Raymond’s call.
After one of these hearty breakfasts, I walked back to the hotel and asked the concierge to arrange a rental car for me for at least a week. I took a map of Oahu and several brochures about activities on the island.
After a very brief period during which I scanned the materials, she informed me that the car would be delivered to the hotel parking garage within an hour and that I could pick up the key at her desk.
I returned to my room to relax for a bit, look over the brochures, and see what news was breaking on CNN.
CNN was doing its usual job of covering the crash of 2620 almost to the exclusion of all other news. It seemed that, unless someone set off a nuclear device somewhere in a city subway station, nothing could drag the network coverage away from the airplane crash.
There were several Navy ships in the crash area now, and some debris had been found, but no bodies and no “black box,” which is always the subject of the most intense search.
Several Navy planes were also rotating duty flying over the area to try to spot any signs of the crash, which may be outside the surface search area.
There was some comfort in knowing that Trane was undoubtedly assuming that the body of Michael Tate was also among those not yet found.
By the time the concierge rang my room to let me know that my car had been delivered, the news on TV was just repeating itself, and I had decided to spend the remainder of the day at Pearl Harbor and visiting the Punchbowl.
Tomorrow would be plenty of time to begin my search for Trane, wherever he may be.