فصل 03

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فصل 03

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CHAPTER THREE

An amusing mistake

Hiro stared at the phone. Of course, he understood what had happened now - the Shark’s phone was a Nokia just like his. In his excitement to check the message, Hiro hadn’t noticed there was no screensaver, no photo of his dog.

Well, it was a simple mistake and there was nothing to feel guilty about. When the Shark returned from the toilet, Hiro would hand back the phone and apologise. The message didn’t seem that private. Hiro knew the Brandenburg Gate was one of the most famous sights in Berlin. So, the man was meeting someone there. He was going to collect some equipment and half his fee. Surely there wasn’t anything very private about that?

Hiro put the phone down and looked up. He wondered if the Shark had checked Hiro’s phone and discovered the mistake, too. The light was still on above the toilet door. Perhaps even at this moment the Shark was reading one of the love messages Akiko had sent Hiro before their breakup. Hiro had saved seven or eight of them.

Hiro read the message on the Shark’s phone once more. Perhaps it was the result of the book he was reading with all its murders, but the more Hiro looked at the message, the more uncomfortable he felt. There seemed to be something odd about it, something that wasn’t quite right. He paused for a second, then did something really stupid. He knew it was stupid even before he did it, but it was just so easy. He pressed the Inbox key on the Shark’s phone, and found the message list. The first message on the list - the one he’d just read - was from someone called ‘M’. Hiro picked the next message. It was also from ‘M’. Hiro looked up once more. It was safe: the toilet light was still on. He opened the message. The little screen filled immediately.

BERLIN ASSIGNMENT HOTEL ADLON ROOM 319 TUESDAY AFTER 8PM. HALF FEE AT MEETING, HALF ON COMPLETION.

Hiro wasn’t sure he understood. His heart was beating fast. Part of the message was obvious: tomorrow was Tuesday and the Hotel Adlon must be in Berlin. He knew what a fee was, too: money that is paid for doing something. But what about the rest? Wasn’t assignment’ another word for ‘job’? The word sounded a little bit odd. Wasn’t ‘assignment’ a word a writer would use in a thriller to mean …? No, that was a crazy thought! ‘It must be the effect of that silly book I’m reading,’ Hiro said to himself.

The next moment his heart stopped. When he looked up, the light above the toilet had gone out. Not only that, but the door was opening and the Shark was coming out. The old man was already making his way back towards him.

Hiro had to act fast. He closed the message, then dropped the phone back on to the seat beside him. Now he could relax: the Shark would never know Hiro had been reading the messages. Hiro watched the man come up.

A second later, Hiro realised his mistake. Of course the Shark would know! The last message had been received while he was in the toilet and Hiro had opened it then. It wouldn’t show as a ‘New Message’ now, but as one that had been ‘Read’. Hiro picked up the phone just as the Shark arrived.

Even before he sat down, the Shark spoke. ‘Ha, my friend!’ he said with another toothy smile, ‘I have just had a very amusing experience. When I was in the toilet, I decided to check the messages on my phone. But when I turned it on, I discovered-‘

‘I have your phone,’ Hiro said quickly.

The Shark watched Hiro for a moment, then seemed to relax. Hiro had an odd feeling he’d spoken just in time.

‘Yes,’ he said, ‘and I have yours. Is this your girlfriend?’ he went on, giving a short laugh. ‘She is very beautiful. What is her name?’ The Shark held out Hiro’s phone across the table. The screensaver photo of Yuki was showing.

‘Yuki,’ Hiro answered.

The Shark gave a strange nod of his head. A very beautiful dog. How amusing that we have the same kind of Nokia phone! Now perhaps you would return mine?’

Hiro was already holding the phone. He held it out, trying to stop his hand from shaking. ‘I’m very sorry,’ he said. ‘A message came through and I opened it before I realised…’

The Shark’s eyes narrowed. He watched Hiro for a moment. ‘Of course you did; that is quite natural,’ he said, then looked at his phone. Hiro didn’t move while the Shark opened the message. Hiro saw him read it, then close it again. ‘Yes, from a business colleague,’ the Shark said.

There was silence for a moment or two. Hiro didn’t know what to say. Then the Shark slowly nodded his head and smiled. ‘So, since we know each other’s great secrets, I think we must introduce ourselves. My name is Erik Bjornson. I am a businessman from Sweden. And who, may I ask, do I have the pleasure to meet?’

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