فصل 03

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فصل 03

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Chapter three

Waiting for new orders

The car was a black Mercedes. When Munro saw that there were two men in the front and two in the back, he knew they were not out sightseeing. He got right down onto the ground in the doorway, making himself as small as possible. By the time the car reached the top of the street it was travelling fast, the engine very loud. As it turned the corner into Kirkkokatu, the wheels screamed a little on the road and there were four short sounds. Gun shots.

The Mercedes quickly disappeared down Kirkkokatu, turning right at the bottom into Vesijarvenkatu. Munro looked up from where he was, ready to run across the street. Luckily the men in the Mercedes hadn’t seen him. Across the street, Virolainen had not been so lucky. He was lying on his back on the church steps, blood on the front of his shirt. Munro looked up and down the road. There was no-one else around yet. Virolainen was clearly beyond help. Any information had died with him. It was time for Munro to leave.

Back at his hotel, Munro took a whisky from the bar up to his room. His work meant that he saw death more often than many people, but he never got used to it. He drank the whisky slowly and took out his phone. Munro decided a text message was quicker and safer than a phone conversation. Anyway he did not have much to say. Quickly he typed a short message and sent it to Naylor.

MEETING OFF. EXECUTIVE WELL. NEW ORDERS NEEDED.

While he waited for a reply from London, Munro looked through Etela Suomen Sanomat, one of the South Finland newspapers, which he had picked up from the hotel bar. There was a long piece about developments in Finnish bioengineering and an interview with Jorma Lappalainen, a rich businessman who owned a number of bioengineering companies. Lappalainen was saying that Finland should lead the world not just in areas like the Internet and mobile phones, but also in science, and especially bio-engineering. Munro also discovered that Jorma Lappalainen was making a name for himself as an important politician. In fact, the country would soon choose a new president, a new leader for Finland, and Lappalainen was saying that he was interested. The newspaper article ended with some personal information about Lappalainen. He lived with his sister and had homes in Helsinki, Lahti and the south of France. There was also a photo of him speaking to a crowd of people at a meeting in Helsinki. He was a short man with the very fair, almost white, blonde hair that Finnish people sometimes have. He was waving with both hands at the crowd and smiling. A political smile, thought Munro, rather than a smile of truth and happiness. It seemed no more probable that Lappalainen would tell the truth than politicians anywhere else in the world.

A sound came from Munro’s phone. He read the message.

WAIT

Munro smiled to himself. Naylor was never a man to use more words than necessary. Anyway, he clearly needed time before deciding the next move. So, how should Munro spend the waiting time?

A few minutes later Munro sat down at a table in the bar and ordered another whisky. While he waited for his drink he looked out of the window at the people walking past on Aleksanterinkatu. Lahti was getting ready for Friday night: young men and women going out to bars and discos to enjoy themselves. He thought back to the time he had spent in Finland: three years as a student at the University of Jyvaskyla, followed by a couple of years travelling up and down the country doing all kinds of different jobs. He remembered staying in Lahti for a few months. And he remembered thinking in those days that Lahti seemed to be home to the most beautiful women in Finland. He smiled to himself.

Munro picked up a menu and realised he was very hungry. His last meal had been a long time ago on the plane from Heathrow. As he looked at the menu, he heard a soft voice over his shoulder.

‘If you don’t understand the menu, perhaps I can help you.’

He turned his head. Looking over his right shoulder were two beautiful dark blue eyes. They were set in a face that was also beautiful: a small but pretty nose, short blonde hair and bright white teeth that were smiling at him at this very minute.

‘That would be very kind,’ said Munro, smiling back.

‘Riitta Koivisto,’ said the young woman, holding out her right hand.

Munro took her hand in his and shook it. It felt warm.

‘Ian Munro.’

‘Are you English?’ said Koivisto, taking the menu from Munro and sitting down next to him.

‘Scottish,’ said Munro, ‘but it’s an easy mistake to make.’

Koivisto put her head on one side.

‘Are you making fun of me?’ she asked.

‘No,’ said Munro seriously.

Koivisto smiled again. She was wearing a bright blue jumper and a short black skirt. She opened her bag, took out some cigarettes and offered one to Munro.

‘No thanks,’ he said. And you shouldn’t.’

‘I know,’ she said. ‘But I like a lot of things I shouldn’t.’ She lit her cigarette and smiled at him again.

‘So tell me, what’s a handsome Scottish man like you doing in a place like Lahti?’ she asked.

Munro laughed.

‘I’m just on holiday,’ he said. ‘Enjoying Finland and meeting wonderful Finnish people.’

‘Of course we are wonderful,’ she said. ‘It is because of the wonderful weather we have here.’

And they both laughed.

‘So Ian,’ she continued, ‘what do you do in Scotland… or England?’

At that moment the waiter arrived with Munro’s drink. She explained the menu to him and then ordered some open sandwiches for him and a jaloviina, a type of Finnish brandy, for herself. While she was ordering, Munro sat back in his chair and looked at her. She was very beautiful and she spoke excellent English, but she asked too many questions. Who was she and why did she want to know so much?

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