فصل 02

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فصل 02

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  • زمان مطالعه 5 دقیقه
  • سطح خیلی سخت

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Chapter two

Meeting at the church

Seven hours later Munro checked into the Hotel Lahden Seurahuone on Aleksanterinkatu, one of Lahti’s main streets. He spoke English to the receptionist behind the desk. He enjoyed speaking Finnish, but it might be an advantage if people didn’t know he could. They might give away information, thinking that he did not understand.

In his room he took his clothes out of his suitcase and put them away carefully. He always did this in the same way, so that he would know if someone had searched his room. Munro knew they would find nothing. He never carried important papers. He never carried a gun. If someone found a gun, there were always a lot of questions to answer.

Munro checked his watch. It was already 17.45. Time to go. He looked in the mirror. Light grey eyes looked back at him. His hair, dark brown, almost black, was a bit long, but tidy. He was wearing jeans and a grey top. He picked up his map of Lahti. Just another tourist out sightseeing.

Out on the street Munro checked that no-one was waiting for him. He had already checked at the airport, and when he got off the coach in Lahti. However, it was impossible to be too careful. Last year an executive was killed at Bangkok airport before he had even started the job. There were some very red faces in London that day. The street was busy so Munro took his time checking. No-one was following. Good.

The days were already getting longer. It was still very light, and it was warm for April. As he walked across Kauppatori, the market square, he could see the church rising up over on his right. He knew from some tourist information in the hotel that the church, completed in 1978, was the work of the Finnish architect, Alvar Aalto. Munro usually liked the clean lines that Finnish architects brought to their buildings. He was surprised to discover that the church was rather an ugly building.

Munro turned into the bottom of Mariankatu and started walking up the short hill towards the church. The street was empty. He looked at his watch again. 17.55. There was no-one on the church steps. At the top of the street he looked left and right along Kirkkokatu. A woman was walking her dog, about a hundred metres away to the right. There was an art gallery on the left-hand side of the street. It was closed. Munro crossed the road and stood in the doorway of the art gallery. He could see the church steps, but it would be difficult to see him. The basic condition for a safe meeting with someone you don’t know: make sure you can see them before they can see you.

The woman and her dog disappeared round a corner. A boy on a bicycle came along from the left and turned down towards the market square. An old lady in a black dress and black shoes came out of the church, carrying a heavy shopping bag.

18.00. Munro seemed to be looking at the paintings in the window of the art gallery. Something to take back home, perhaps? A present from Lahti. Actually he was checking the streets in all directions and looking up at the church steps again. Where was Virolainen? Minutes passed.

The old lady turned left along Kirkkokatu, crossed the road and went into an apartment building. A cat crossed the road quickly in the other direction and jumped over the low wall round the church grounds. It stopped, sat on the grass and started cleaning itself carefully. Munro looked at his watch although he knew what the time was. 18.10. Still no Virolainen. Five more minutes, then he would go back to the hotel. It would be dangerous to wait any longer. He would call London for new orders.

Just then he heard a noise. The sound of running feet. Munro stepped further back into the doorway. People ran when they were late, but they also ran to get away from danger. A man appeared suddenly from the right-hand side of the church. He stopped at the top of the steps and looked all around him. He looked worried, as if someone was chasing him, but he did not know where they were going to come from next. Munro stayed where he was. If this was Pentti Virolainen, there was a problem. Something was wrong. If someone was chasing Virolainen, Munro shouldn’t be here. Above all, this should be a safe meeting. The executive from London should not be put in danger.

Munro heard noise at the bottom of Mariankatu. A car was coming up the hill. The noise seemed loud. Too loud, in fact. Munro looked quickly to his right. Too late he realised what was happening.

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