Conspiracy of Swords
(See Part 1 for Disclaimers)
Shadowriter can be reached at Shadowriter@kc.rr.com
(I'd like to thank Jtd for
helping with this chapter.
The translation is hers, and she did a wonderful job. Many thanks, and hugs.)
Alex woke from her nap to the sound of Teren's voice in the next room. She couldn't undersand the conversation, but she could tell from the strident tones that her friend was having an argument with someone.
She shook her head to clear the last of the sleep images from her mind. Once again she had been plagued with dreams of death and blood, and David's bleeding body. Alex rubbed her eyes, wondering just how long it would be before the dreams left her alone.
"If this keeps up, I'll never get any rest," she mumbled aloud. "Wonder if I can talk Teren into letting me sleep with her?"
Alex had to laugh at herself.
After pulling on her jeans and a fresh t-shirt, she joined Teren in the common room. The tall agent was pacing back and forth in front of the couch, her cell phone in one hand, and a ball point pen in the other. The pen made an irritating clicking noise as Teren pressed its button again and again.
"Nein, es kann nicht noch ein bißchen warten. Ich muß jetzt sofort mit ihm sprechen. Ja, ich bestehe darauf." Teren hesitated a moment in her pacing, noticing Alex watching her from the bedroom door. "Es ist mir egal, ob er in einer Besprechung ist oder nicht. Sagen Sie ihm, es sei dringend." She gave a nod to Alex and turned to pace again. "Ja, mein Name ist Olind. Vielen Dank."
Teren turned back to Alex, moving the mouthpiece of the phone away from her. "Hey, you're awake."
"Yeah. Who are you yelling at?"
"The bank. Get dressed. It's past four and we have an appointment at five-fifteen."
"The Altbusser Galerie."
"Jeans aren't a good idea I take it?"
"Well, I don't think a dress is necessary, but --" she brought the phone back to its original position.
|" Herr Meinhard? Frau Olind am Apparat. Mir wurde gesagt, Sie könnten mir helfen. Ich habe mit der Kontonummer 13-C-13 zu tun." She waited, the pen still clicking in her hand||"Herr Meinhard? This is Ms. Olind. I believe you can help me. I'm involved with account number 13-C-13." She waited, the pen still clicking in her hand.|
|The man on the other end of the line cleared his throat. She could hear him telling his secretary to wait outside.|
|" Frau Ohlind. Es ist schon einige Zeit her, daß mich jemand mit dieser Kontonummer angerufen hat."||"Ms. Olind. It has been a long time since someone with that account called me."|
|" Das habe ich mir schon gedacht. Ich würde Sie nicht bemühen, wenn es nicht so wichtig wäre."||"I realize that. I wouldn't involve you if it wasn't important."|
|"Ich weiß nicht..."||"I'm not really sure --"|
|" Herr Meinhard, Carl Nestor schickt mich."||"Herr Meinhard, Carl Nestor said I should talk to you."|
|" Ah. Wie geht es ihm?"||"Ah. How is Carl?"|
|"Als ich ihn vor ein paar Tagen zum letzten Mal gesehen habe, ging es ihm gut."||"Good. I saw him just a few days ago."|
|"Ist er immer noch so dürr wie eine Bohnenstange?"||"Is he still as thin as a beanpole?"|
|Teren chuckled. " Wir wissen beide, daß Carl noch nie schlank war. Er ist so mollig wie immer."||Teren chuckled. "You and I both know that Carl was never thin. He's still as round as ever."|
|Herr Meinhard laughed. "Gut. Wie kann ich Ihnen helfen, Frau Olind?"||Herr Meinhard laughed. "Good. Now, how can I help you, Ms. Olind?"|
|" Ich muß unbedingt noch heute abend mit Ihnen reden. Es ist wichtig. Kommen Sie doch mit uns zum Essen."||"I need to meet with you this evening. It's important. Join us for dinner."|
|"Suchen Sie ein Restaurant aus. Eins mit viel Publikumsverkehr und gutem Essen."||"You choose. Just make it fairly public, and with good food."|
|"Zunfthaus zur Krone?"||"Zunfthaus zur Krone?"|
|" Das hört sich gut an."||"Fine."|
|"Um welche Zeit?"||"Time?"|
|"Sieben Uhr. Reservieren Sie für drei Personen unter Ihrem Namen."||"Seven o'clock. Make the reservation for three people, and put it under your name."|
|" Drei? Ich nehme an, sie bringen noch jemanden mit?"||"Three? I take it you're bringing a partner with you?"|
|Teren hesitated a moment, biting her lip. "Ja."||Teren hesitated a moment, biting her lip. "Yes, I am."|
|"Gut. Können Sie andeuten, um was es sich handelt?"||"Fine. May I ask just a hint of what this is about?"|
|"Heute abend, Herr Meinhard."||"Tonight, Herr Meinhard."|
|"Natürlich. Ich sehe Sie dann um sieben."||"Of course. I will see you at seven."|
She hung up and turned to Alex who was still patiently waiting.
"After the gallery , we have a dinner date at seven."
"Semi-formal for both?"
"Yeah. You should wear those heels we bought you."
"Why aren't the flats good enough? I wear them to the office."
"Yes, and they scream 'police' whenever you put them on."
"So, you'd rather have me in stilts?"
Teren grinned. "I would think you'd like wearing heels, Alex. After all, with your hei--"
"Don't --" Alex interrupted, "say it. Just don't even go there." She turned to go change, but stopped and looked back. "Teren?"
"You remember we once discussed kickboxing?"
"If you don't stop playing with that pen, we're going to have a match right now."
Teren looked at her hand, where she had continued clicking the pen's button. She stopped, and tossed the pen on the coffee table.
"Thank you." Alex winked at her and left the room.
Teren grinned to herself. "I know what it means if she winks, but are threats good or bad?" She chuckled, and headed for her own bedroom.
The gallery was actually three businesses in one. The ground floor of the building was an antique shop, which appeared to specialize in knick-knacks and small statues. The second level was where one could order a copy of a famous work, whether on canvas or in stone. The third floor held the actual art gallery where collectors or artists could put their works on display.
Teren led Alex across to the staircase.
"We're heading for the reprints area on the second floor. I don't know if the guy speaks English or not -- it's an international business though, so he might."
"Sure you want me along for this? If he doesn't speak English I'm not going to be able to contribute much to the conversation."
Teren put a hand on the railing, and peered back at her companion. "Would you rather not join me for this one?"
Alex's attention was split between Teren, and the antiques she could see. "I wonder if we could kind of kill two birds at once, you know? You head upstairs, and I'll check out the first floor."
"Yes?" She turned to see Teren grinning.
"Don't say kill, okay?"
Alex grinned back. "Right. Sorry."
"What's so interesting on the first floor?"
"Antiques. You know, kind of like what we found in Colorado, maybe?"
Teren raised her head, and nodded slowly. "Gotcha. Then why don't you look around, and I'll meet our friend upstairs."
"I'll be here when you're done."
Alex watched her friend climb the rest of the stairs. She couldn't resist staring just a little at Teren's backside. When she realized what she was doing, Alex blushed and turned away.
She wandered for several minutes among the cases, examining different items. Most were small statuettes, figurines of all kinds. A few had small cards beside them, obviously talking about their history, or listing a price. Alex, however, could read very little of it. Dates and prices were obvious but the rest was gibberish.
There was one case in particular that caught her eye. While most of the figurines in the shop were ceramic, these were mostly silver, and even a few gold. The dates were older than most of the other items as well, dating from the turn of the nineteenth century or earlier. One of them was a silver crucifix, on a circular base.
Alex was certain she'd seen a picture of it on the internet.
She reached out and picked up the statue, examining the figure. The detail was exquisite.
A movement at her elbow startled Alex. She looked up to find an old man with a short beard beside her. He smiled at her, and adjusted his spectacles.
"Wunderschön, nicht wahr?" he said.
"I'm sorry, I don't speak German," Alex answered. She placed the statue back on the shelf.
"I am sorry, I did not realize you were American." The old man extended his hand. "My name is Rolf. I work here in the store."
"Hi." Alex took his hand, and was surprised to find hers lifted to his lips. He gently kissed the back of her hand. "I'm Andrea." She felt proud that she remembered her false name.
"I am very pleased to meet you, Andrea." Rolf placed the accent on the second syllable of the name. "I asked if you did not find the statue beautiful?"
"Oh, it's very lovely. I'm glad you speak English, Rolf. I was wondering about it's history."
"Our research on the piece is not yet finished, but we belive it was made in Austria in the late eighteen hundreds. If my hunch is right, this piece is from a Vienese sculptor who worked around the eighteen-eighties, and eventually died as a result of the Franco-Prussian war."
"Really. You know, I thought I'd seen a picture of this piece, but I guess that's not possible, is it?"
Rolf shrugged. "Of course it is always possible, but I am not sure where you would have seen the picture. The item was locked away in a closet for many, many years."
"Why? It's so beautiful, why not display it?"
"I do not know. It came to us by way of a young German lad."
"Did he say where he'd gotten it from?"
"From his father. It was locked away, along with several other treasures. The boy inherited them all when his father died." Rolf shook his head. "I could not believe it, he did not even know what he had. He simply wanted money."
Alex turned fully to look at Rolf. "Did he move here?"
"No, I believe he returned to Munich."
"I don't understand; why would he come all the way to Switzerland to sell a piece of art? Seems to me he probably could have gotten just as much money in Germany, without the cost of the travel, don't you think?"
Rolf glanced around, then leaned forward slightly. "This was not the only piece he sold us. There were others, and some of them are illegal to sell in Germany."
Alex frowned, and folded her arms. Her voice dropped, as Rolf's had. "Why would they be illegal?"
Rolf eyed her carefully. "The items carry a mark that was outlawed in Germany after 1945." He raised an eyebrow.
After a moment's thought, Alex nodded. "I understand. Nazi memorabilia, right?"
A slight nod.
"Do you sell Nazi memorabilia, Rolf?"
He shook his head. "I will not sell such things. When the boy told me his father had been a Nazi SS officer, I felt like throwing him out of the store." He looked over at the silver crucifix. "But some of the things he brought to me, these should not be thrown out because they were held in the hands of a demon."
Rolf reached up and stroked the base of the work. "It is so beautiful, no?"
Alex nodded. "It is." She waited for a moment, biting her lip.
"I do not sell Nazi items, but there are others, here, that buy them." He shrugged. "I just work here. I am in charge of the first floor, and they keep me because I know antiques. But if I could . . ." his voice trailed off.
"Rolf, can you tell me about the boy? What was his name?"
Rolf raised his head. "Andrea, do not tell me you are interested in the Nazis?"
"Well, no, not in the way you think. But as a student of history," she decided to take a gamble here, "who's grandparents died in Buchenwald, I would like to speak to him about his father. I have a tough time understanding the reasons behind the whole war."
Rolf didn't look at her. Instead, he focused his attention on the statue, his fingers resting on the feet of the crucified figure. After a moment he seemed to make a decision, and gave himself a slight nod.
"A moment, and I will look for the book. It will have his name and address, as well as what we bought from him."
Alex frowned. "You did buy the Nazi items?"
"I did not. But I alerted my superior, and he purchased them." Rolf looked ill for a moment. "He was so, so, nice, and pleasant, and told the boy his father was a hero." His mouth twisted into a sick smile. "I think the boy was almost as disgusted as I was." He motioned her to follow him. "I will find the book. Wait here."
Alex watched as he ducked behind a curtain. She glanced around, wondering if Teren's interview was going as well as her own was.
Teren was waiting for a customer to leave. The person she needed to speak to was helping an older woman who was trying to decide what statue would best go in her garden. Everytime she appeared to have made up her mind, she'd change it again, and Teren was beginning to get frustrated.
Finally, the woman decided on The Thinker by Rodan, and she sat down with another person to fill out paperwork. Teren had a feeling she'd probably change her mind at least once more, so she interrupted as soon as the woman was seated.
|"Kann ich Ihnen helfen?"||"Yes, can I help you?"|
|"Mein Name ist Fleming. Ich habe einen Termin bei Herrn Keppelmann."||"My name is Ms. Fleming, and I have an appointment with Herr Keppelmann."|
|"Ich bin Herr Keppelmann. Wenn ich mich richtig erinnere, wollten Sie mit mir über ein paar Kopien sprechen, die ich für einen Freund von Ihnen angefertigt habe? "||"I am Herr Keppelmann. I believe you wanted to speak about some copies that were made for a friend of yours?"|
|"Genau. Für John Treville."||"That's correct. John Treville."|
|Keppelmann eyed her."Und die Kopien waren von was genau?"||Keppelmann eyed her. "And what copies would those be?"|
|"Den zwei Kelchen. Ich meine, einer sei von Guignard gewesen?"||"The two chalices. I believe one was by Guignard?"|
|Keppelmann glanced around, then motioned for her to follow him. He led her back into an area of the storage room, and through it to an office. When they got there, Keppelmann motioned for her to close the door. She didthen turned to face him.|
|"Hat Treville Ihnen eine Kopie des Guignard gezeigt?"||"Treville showed you a copy of the Guignard?"|
|"Nein, das Original. Er hat ihn verkauft."||"No, I saw the Guignard itself. He sold it."|
|Keppelmann dropped into his seat. "Er hat ihn verkauft?"||Keppelmann dropped into his seat. "He sold it?"|
|"Um ehrlich zu sein, er hat ihn verschenkt. An irgendeinen Heruntergekommenen in Colorado." Teren sat in the chair across from him. "Er hat allerdings auch den zweiten Kelch verkauft. An jemanden namens Mather."||"Well, actually he gave it away. To some stupid man in Colorado, who lived in a one room hovel." Teren sat in the chair across from him. "Of course, he also gave away a second chalice, to some man named Mather."|
|"Und woher wissen Sie das?"||"And how do you know all this?"|
|"Na ja, Mather hat versucht, den Kelch weiter zu verkaufen." She smiled. "Man hat mich gebeten herauszufinden, ob es wirklich das Original ist, das er besitzt. Er behauptet, daß es das Original sei, aber die Korrespondenz zwischen Ihrer Firma und Trevill behauptet, es sei die Kopie."||"Well, Mather tried to sell his chalice." She smiled."I was asked to look into the validity of his claim. He said it was real, but the invoice between your company and Treville said it was a copy."|
|Keppelmann folded his hands on his desk. "Darf ich fragen, für wen Sie arbeiten?"||Keppelmann folded his hands on his desk. "May I ask who you work for, Ms. Fleming?"|
|She leaned forward. "Ich arbeite für jemanden, der den Kelch kaufen will, und womöglich auch an weiteren Objekten interessiert ist. Er ist sehr reich und schätzt es gar nicht," she paused, "betrogen zu werden. Er ist der Meinung, der Guignard sei echt, aber er würde gerne wissen, wo er herkommt.Also hat er mich hier hergeschickt, um mir Ihre Bücher anzusehen."||She leaned forward. "I work for a person who wants to buy the chalice, and perhaps other items.He is a very wealthy man, who does not like to be," she paused, "cheated.He believes the Guignard, at least, to be authentic, but would like to know where it came from. So, he sent me to look at your paperwork."|
Keppelmann cleared his throat. "Ich denke Sie wissen, was in den Büchern steht."
Keppelmann cleared his throat. "I think you know what my paperwork will say, Ms. Fleming."
|"Daß der Guignard eine Kopie ist."||"It will say the Guignard is a copy."|
|"Nein. Offiziell gab es keine Geschäfte zwischen Treville und der Galerie."||"No. It will say there was never a sale between Treville and the Galerie."|
|Teren nodded. "Aha." She leaned back in her chair. "Tja, dann haben wir wohl ein Problem. Sehen Sie, die Kopie des Lieferscheins wurde von Ihnen unterzeichnet, genau wie die Zollpapiere." This time the smile showed the white of her teeth. "Und ich habe die Originale."||Teren nodded. "I see." She leaned back in her chair. "Well, then, we have a problem. See, the copy of the invoice was signed by you, as was the customs paperwork." This time the smile showed the white of her teeth. "And I have the originals."|
|The man's face had lost its color, and Teren could almost feel the nervous energy coming from him. He fidgeted, his hands unable to stay still. Teren, on the other hand, sat like a statue, smiling, with her arms stretched out on the arms of the chair. She knew she didn't have the originals, but he didn't know that.|
|Finally, he glanced up at her. "Was wollen Sie von mir?"||Finally, he glanced up at her. "What do you want, Ms. Fleming?"|
|"Ihre Quelle. Ich will wissen, wo die Kelche herkommen."||"I want your source. I want to know where the two chalices came from."|
|Keppelmann tugged at his shirt collar. "Ich glaube nicht --"||Keppelmann tugged at his shirt collar. "I'm not sure --"|
|Teren was out of her chair and half way across his desk before he realized she'd moved. She planted her hands wide apart on his desk, and leaned in close to him.|
|"Sie, mein Lieber, werden mir sagen was ich wissen will, oder Sie passen am Ende dieses Gesprächs in eine Ihrer Schreibtischschubladen. Anschließend werde ich die Polizei verständigen und dann," her smile turned feral, "dann werde ich Treville anrufen.Wie lang glauben Sie läßt er Sie am Leben, wenn er herausfindet, daß Sie ihm nur Kopien verkauft haben?"||"You, Mr. Keppelmann, will tell me what I want to know, or I will make you fit into one of your desk drawers.Then, I will call the authorities, and then," her smile turned feral, "then I will call Treville.How long do you think you'll live when he finds out you've been sending him copies?"|
|The man's eyes stood out in stark contrast to the whiteness of his face. An area near his eye twitched, and his breath was coming very fast.|
|"Ich habe keine Ahnung, wovon Sie sprechen."||"I don't know what you're talking about."|
|"Schon klar. Vielleicht glaubt er Ihnen ja. Vielleicht," she paused, "aber auch nicht." She waited for a reaction, and then took a chance. "Was würde wohl passieren, wenn er sie alle von Experten untersuchen lassen würde?"||"Right. Maybe he'll believe you. And then again," she paused, "maybe he won't." She waited for a reaction, and then took a chance. "I wonder what would happen if he chose to have them all examined by experts?"|
|When Keppelmann wouldn't meet her eyes, Teren knew she was right. At least some of the items Keppelmann had shipped to Treville had indeed been fakes.|
|"Sie haben genau dreißig Sekunden, Herr Keppelmann."||"You have thirty seconds, Mr. Keppelmann."|
|It took less than ten for him to nod. "Ich gebe Ihnen Namen und Adresse."||It took less than ten for him to nod. "I'll give you the name and address."|
|"Danke." Teren stepped back and resumed her seat in the chair.||"Thank you." Teren stepped back and resumed her seat in the chair.|
|Keppelmann, his eye still twitching, brought out a book from his desk drawer. He flipped through it. Looking even more flustered, he closed it.|
|"Ich scheine das falsche Buch hierzuhaben. Das Richtige ist wohl unten bei Herrn Wudin."||"It, ah, seems I have the wrong book. I believe the book I'm looking for is downstairs with Mr. Wudin."|
|Teren stood. "Dann sollten wir uns wohl nach unten begeben und es finden, oder?"||Teren stood. "Then perhaps we should go find it, shouldn't we?"|
|Keppelmann nodded, and stood. He led the way from the office, trying to keep one eye on Teren, which wasn't easy to do since she was behind him. Teren stifled her laughter when he nearly tripped for the third time.|
|They went down a back staircase, and through another storage area. Keppelmann stopped at another desk, and looked through the drawers. When he couldn't find what he was looking for, he began stuttering, and searching through stacks of papers, his eyes wide. Finally, Teren had had enough.|
|She put a hand on his shoulder, and he jumped, giving a short cry. She mentally rolled her eyes.|
|"Was ist los, Herr Keppelmann?"||"What's the problem, Mr. Keppelmann?"|
|"Es tut mir leid, Frau Fleming, aber ich kann das Buch mit den Lieferanten nicht finden." He managed to get the whole sentence out without stuttering.||"I'm sorry, Ms. Fleming, I seem to be having trouble locating the book with our suppliers names." He managed to get the whole sentence out without stuttering.|
|"Gibt es hier noch jemanden, der es haben könnte?"||"Is there anyone else who would have it?"|
|Keppelmann stopped for a moment, then nodded. "Rolf Wudin."||Keppelmann stopped for a moment, then nodded."Rolf Wudin."|
|"Dann finden wir diesen Herrn Wudin wohl besser."||"Then perhaps we should find Mr. Wudin."|
|"Ja, natürlich. Er müßte unten im Laden sein. Würden Sie mir bitte folgen?"||"Of - of course. He should be in the shop. Will you follow me, please?"|
|Once again, Teren followed behind Keppelmann, this time through a curtain, and into the first floor antique shop. She raised her eyebrow at the sight of Alex and an older gentleman with their heads bent over a ledger.|
|"Herr Wudin, haben Sie das Lieferantenbuch?"||"Mr. Wudin, do you have the book of suppliers?"|
|Rolf looked up from his conversation with Alex. "Ja. Hier ist es." He pulled a thin brown notebook out from under the ledger, and handed it to the younger man. "Ist irgendwas?"||Rolf looked up from his conversation with Alex. "Yes, it is here." He pulled a thin brown notebook out from under the ledger, and handed it to the younger man. "Is there a problem?"|
|"Nein." Keppelmann opened the book, then noticed that the ledger was facing Alex, and he glared at Rolf. "Wozu braucht sie das?"||"No."Keppelmann opened the book, then noticed that the ledger was facing Alex, and he glared at Rolf. "What is she doing with that?"|
|Rolf began to turn red. Alex, who had continued perusing the volume, finally looked up to see Teren standing besides a shorter, thin man with a black mustache. She noticed the paleness of the figure, and wondered if that was his natural color.|
|"Herr Keppelmann, dies ist meine Mitarbeiterin, Ms. Reed. Sagen Sie doch guten Tag."||"Mr. Keppelmann, this is my partner, Ms. Reed. Say hello."|
|Keppelmann glanced at Teren, then looked back at Alex "Guten Tag."|
|Teren nudged the man, and Alex noticed that he turned a half shade whiter. "Sie spricht kein Deutsch."||Teren nudged the man, and Alex noticed that he turned a half shade whiter. "She doesn't speak German."|
|Keppelmann looked up at Teren apologetically. "Und ich spreche kein Englisch."||Keppelmann looked up at Teren apologetically. "I'm afraid I don't speak English."|
|Teren shrugged. "So ein Pech aber auch."||Teren shrugged."Too bad."|
She switched to her native language. "Find something interesting?"
"Yes. This is Mr. Keppelmann. We're going in back now, so that he can write down a name and address for me."
"Should only be a few more minutes. Are you almost finished?"
"Good." Teren fought the urge to wink at the shorter woman. "Back in a minute."
Teren placed a hand on Keppelmann's shoulder and guided him back through the curtain. Alex watched them go with a smile on her lips.
"May I ask who that was?"
She glanced up at Rolf. "I'm sorry, Rolf. It's better if I don't tell you."
The man's eyebrows rose above the frames of his glasses. "Why?"
"Because, even though she's my friend, she's hard to explain."
Rolf nodded. "I see. And her name?"
Alex grinned. "Trouble."
The two of them stared at one another, then Alex couldn't hold her chuckles in anymore. After a moment, Rolf joined her laughter.
Teren came out of the curtained back room.
"What are you two laughing about?"
Alex tried hard to stifle her chuckles. Rolf pointed at Teren, and tried to look serious. "So, you are trouble?"
Teren lifted one eyebrow. "I suppose you could call me that."
Rolf nodded, and glanced at Alex. "You are from the America, yes?"
"You probably get some very strange looks when you give them your passport, no?"
Alex made the connection, and burst into laughter. Rolf was chuckling so hard he had to take his glasses off and wipe his eyes.
Teren just shook her head.
"I can't take you anywhere, can I, Alex?"
They left the Altbusser Galerie at twenty after six. Teren told Alex the basics of her conversation with Keppelmann while she drove to the restaurant. Alex explained what she had discovered from Rolf Wudin.
"It seems someone there does a fair trade in items from the Nazi era. Including items that have been missing since the Nazi's confiscated them."
"Like the statue you showed me?"
Alex nodded. "Exactly. That silver cross came from a young man from Munich, who sold it and quite a few other items to the store. I have the list here; Rolf was kind enough to make a copy of it for me, along with the name and address of the seller, and a few other papers."
"Good. Anything interesting?"
"Your friend Keppelmann signed the voucher accepting the goods. He also appraised several of the items from the lot, including several sabers with Nazi insignias."
Teren frowned. "Did Rolf give you any idea where the items went?"
"Rolf wasn't sure about all of them, but he knew that one of them went to the US, because he helped box it up. He couldn't remember anything other than the country, though, and there was no invoice."
Teren sighed. "Five bucks says it went to Treville."
"Uh-huh." She was quiet a moment. "I think we'll need to be cautious the rest of our stay here."
Alex raised an eyebrow. "Why? Did something happen?"
Teren shook her head. "No." She stopped at a red light, letting the car idle in neutral. "I've just had this feeling since we left the shop."
Alex waited, wondering if Teren was playing psychic, or being paranoid. When her partner didn't answer, she decided it didn't matter. "Okay. How long are we staying, anyway?"
The dark woman shrugged. "'Til I get the information I want from Meinhard."
"And that is?"
"Who owns that fucking bank account."
Alex nodded. "Right. And after that?"
"After that we hop a plane for Munich. I want to talk to this Odbert guy."
Like most European cities, Teren explained to Alex, Zurich really had not grown in size over the last hundred years or so-- just in population. Because the city had not grown, in the sense of spreading out, it took only moments to travel from place to place. This made cars mostly unnecessary within the city limits, and most residents either rode a bicycle or took the tram.
"Then why did we rent a car?"
"Because it's also very cold in Zurich, and I didn't think you'd want to freeze to the handles of a bike, or wait in the snow for a tram."
Alex nodded. "Thanks."
Even after a slow trip through the narrow city streets, Alex and Teren were a few minutes early for dinner. This allowed Teren to wait for a spot close to the front door of the Zunfthaus zur Waag. Alex, whose arm was aching from the cold, was grateful.
They were seated and waiting for Meinhard when he appeared. By Teren's watch, he was three minutes late.
Teren stood. "Ja, genau. Setzen Sie sich doch."
He shook her hand and turned to Alex. "Und Sie sind?"
Alex glanced at Teren.
"Das ist meine Mitarbeiterin, Ms. Reed. Sie spricht kein Deutsch. Sprechen Sie Englisch, Herr Meinhard?"
He bowed slightly. "Yes, I do," he said. Alex noticed that his accent was obvious, but not pronounced. "It is nice to meet you, Ms. Reed."
Alex smiled at him. "Same here, Mr. Meinhard. Please, sit." She indicated the seat between herself and Teren, and Meinhard slid into it.
"Did you order already?"
"No, we were waiting for you," Alex answered. "Do you have any recommendations?"
He nodded. "The Zueri-Gschnaetzlets is wonderful here." Alex noticed that his 'w's were pronounced with a slight 'v' sound. "And, of course, I believe you would love the Kalbsbratwurst in Zweilblesauce."
Teren glanced at Alex. "I thought I was ordering for you tonight, Andrea."
"I'm not sure I trust you. You did threaten me with cow tongue."
Meinhard looked up. "Ah, yes, tongue. Wonderful dish, and they prepare it very well here."
Alex made a face and Teren laughed. "I don't think my friend is quite adventurous enough for that. Perhaps something a little less daring?"
They ordered a bottle of wine with dinner, but only Meinhard seemed inclined to drink more than one glass. They talked about Zurich, and recent events in Switzerland and the world. Every once in a while Teren and Herr Meinhard would slip into German, and Alex would clear her throat, reminding them that she couldn't understand what they were saying.
Finally, after dinner had been cleared away, and the three of them were enjoying some dessert, Teren launched into the topic she had called Meinhard about.
"I have an account that I need information on. It's very important, and I need it as soon as possible."
He nodded. "The owner's name?"
She shook her head. "I don't know his name. I only know the account number, and when it was originally opened."
"And when was that?"
Meinhard had his cup half-way to his mouth, and it froze there for several seconds. Before he put it down.
"Do you know what you're asking?"
Alex leaned forward. "We're asking for the name of a man who has an account in your bank."
Meinhard shook his head. "You are asking about an account from the second World War. It is possibly a lost account that has not been touched in over forty years, and perhaps the money from it has even been transferred out." He sipped his coffee. "Besides, if this is about the reparations to the Jews, Switzerland has paid the required amount." He stabbed at his chocolate cake, taking a bite with angry precision.
Alex snorted, and set her fork down sharply. "Required amount. Ten cents on every dollar that was owed."
The man looked up at her. "That is, what you call it, propaganda. There is no proof that any other money exists."
Teren put up a hand, forestalling Alex, whose eyes were showing a fury that Teren had never seen in her before.
"Enough. This has nothing to do with the reparations to the Jews, Herr Meinhard. And as far as the account being abandoned, I have proof that transactions have been made from it as recently as six months ago."
Meinhard swallowed his mouthful of pastry. "You are certain of this?"
No one spoke for a long moment. Teren finished her strudel and leaned back. Alex seemed to have lost her appetite, and she simply poked at the pastry with her dessert fork, breaking off bits and pieces, but not eating. Meinhard had a contemplative look on his face as he finished his dessert and reached again for his coffee cup.
"You realize what this could mean, don't you, Ms. Olind?"
"Tell me, Herr Meinhard."
He sipped from his cup. "It could be that the man is from Odessa."
She nodded. "Perhaps. Though I thought Odessa was mostly disintegrated now."
"The network, yes, but their resources?" He shook his head.
|"Ich weiß wirklich nicht, ob ich Ihnen helfen kann, Frau Ohlind."||"I do not know if I can help you, Frau Olind."|
|Teren stared at him. She switched to German for her response.|
|"Warum?"||"What do you mean? "|
|Meinhard licked his lips. "Es ist zu gefährlich. Ich weiß nicht, ob ich Ihnen damit helfen kann."||Meinhard licked his lips. "I mean, this is a dangerous thing. I do not know if I can help. "|
|"Weil Sie an die Information nicht herankommen, oder weil Sie nicht herankommen wollen?"||"Because you can't get the information, or because you don't want to find the information? "|
Meinhard said nothing. He stared at the
Alex, sensing her partner's anger, stayed silent. As much as she really wanted to know what was happening, she didn't want to interrupt. Instead, she looked around the room, surreptitiously examining their fellow diners.
Teren leaned forward and dropped her voice.
|"Jetzt hören Sie mir mal genau zu, Meinhard. Sie haben die Wahl. Entweder, Sie helfen mir, oder Ihre Vorgesetzten werden alles über Ihre Kontakte zum Untergrund erfahren, und was sie für die getan haben."||"You listen to me, Meinhard. You have a choice here, to help me, or to allow your superiors to discover your undercover contacts, and the services you've done for them. "|
|He looked at her in horror. "Das würden Sie nicht tun."||He looked at her in horror. "You would not. "|
|"Oh doch. Wenn ich auch nur eine Sekunde lang der Meinung wäre, Sie würden mich hinhalten, würde ich Sie sofort verraten," Teren snarled.||"I would. Oh, believe me, if I thought you were holding out on me, I'd turn you over in a heartbeat," Teren snarled.|
|"Das würde meinen Tod bedeuten"||"It would mean my death."|
|"Und es würde mir um einiges weniger bedeuten als der Tod meines letzten Mitarbeitersoder der zweier Männer vor ein paar Tagen." She sat back. "Lassen Sie es nicht darauf ankommen. Die Konsequenzen würden Ihnen mit Sicherheit nicht gefallen."||"Which means less to me than my former partner's death, and the death of two men just a few days ago." She sat back. "Don't test me, Herr Meinhard. You would not like the consequences."|
They sat for several moments, not speaking. Teren sipped her coffee, her gaze steady on Meinhard. He looked only at his plate.
Alex glanced at her friend, trying to get Teren to look at her, but the dark agent just continued to glare at the man between them.
Finally, Meinhard sighed and nodded. "Na gut. Ich werde sehen, was sich machen läßt."
Teren reached into her side pocket and pulled out a billfold. Speaking in English she said, "Thank you for joining us, Herr Meinhard. Would you care to have lunch tomorrow?"
Meinhard appeared taken aback for a moment, but recovered. "I'm not sure --"
Teren raised an eyebrow, menacingly. Alex decided to step in. "Please, Mr. Meinhard. We're not going to be in Zurich for that long, and I would really like to sample more of the local cuisine."
The man glanced at the fair haired woman, and then back at her darker companion. He nodded.
"Oh, great. Is there a special place you could recommend?"
After a moment, Meinhard turned to Alex. "There is a small lunch cafe called Cafe Strieker. They have a wonderful Rueblikuchen."
"That sounds great." She looked up at Teren, careful not to say her name. "Is this alright with you?"
"Fine. Herr Meinhard, I insist on paying for dinner." She slid a bunch of folded bills into the man's hand.
"It is not necess --" Meinhard broke off as he felt the folded piece of paper hidden within the stack. "It is not necessary, but if you insist."
"Will you take care of things for us, Herr Meinhard? I would like to finish my coffee." Teren lifted her cup.
Meinhard nodded. "Of course." He slipped the note into his vest pocket. "Will you have any problem finding the cafe tomorrow?"
"No, I don't believe so. Shall we say one o'clock?"
Another nod. "That would be fine." He stood, then bowed to Alex. "Ms. Reed, a good night to you. I hope you enjoy your stay in Zurich."
Alex smiled, offering her hand. "Thank you, Mr. Meinhard. I'm already enjoying your fine city."
Meinhard gently shook her hand, then turned to Teren. "Ms. Olind. I will see you tomorrow."
She nodded. "You will indeed." She watched Meinhard leave the restaurant.
Continues in Chapter Twenty-five
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