September 21 2004 6:24am
Drake Alexander stands on the teak deck of his summer home contemplating the rise of the dawning sun over Cocagne Bay, the memory of broken young bodies crisp after three long years, images that haunt him still. Standing tall against the railing, his fine features are in silhouette to the waking day. An autumn breeze caresses the taut muscles of his sleek torso. Beneath a forceful brow, eyes of the deepest brown stare out at the changing elements. Drake has just finished his predawn swim, a vitalizing ritual that keeps him hardy.
The wafting air is scented with the brine of the sea water that laps gently against the pebbled shore. The horizon burns like hot embers as the sun toasts the scattered clouds a fiery orange. Amidst the cry of frenzied gulls a lone heron silently glides down on open wings, settling lightly into the water. The tide is going out. Soon there will be a hedge of heron dining. Drake is always amazed at this intelligent and adaptive bird that swallows its prey live and whole. He knows humans with similar dispositions.
Not far from his home a working wharf juts into the water, its curved rocky spine protecting the fishermen and their vessels. A Millennium Marine fishing craft slowly moves away from the pier, taking its owner to another day’s wages.
Drake knows from his long association with Williston that his information can always be trusted. Information is intangible wealth. Williston’s worldwide business interests are legion; his prestigious law firms specializing in international, corporate and tax law are the most influential. With offices spread around the world, his access to information is phenomenal. In their adolescence, Drake had learned from Williston that information is a commodity much like oil or diamonds and that it has to be verified, classified, assimilated, bargained for and traded. Although time makes a lot of material insignificant, the useful intelligence is treasured and filed safely away for future use. Williston stores many secrets in safety deposit boxes in countries that are as disinterested in the contents as the steel that houses them.
Drake is knocked from his reverie by the ringing of his phone – a silly birdsong that his sister Glory, an ornithologist had emailed him. He has assigned it to Williston’s cell phone number. He reaches for his cell, which is always nearby.
“Good morning, buddy,” Drake said, confidant that Williston is on the other end.
“Good morning to you, too,” Williston responds gruffly, then after a troubled pause gets right to the point of his call. “I received notice from Uday last Sunday that he needed to see me urgently, in person. He came to my office earlier today...”
Drake waits for Williston to continue, never having known him to be without words, and then says, “And?”
“Sorry, Drake, but Uday’s visit provoked so many miserable memories that I’m still shaken.”
“Well, he has been known to stir things up. Isn’t that one of the reasons you enjoy associating with him?” asks Drake, knowing that the bond that ties Williston and Uday Saad together is much deeper than their business dealings.
“Uday thinks he knows where Rizzato might be.” Williston explained, “And we know that where Rizzato is, something bad will happen. He’s a demon willing to carry out anyone else’s rancour. Someone with enough money has hired him for his tasteless talents.”
“Well, that’s another satisfying and distasteful word I can use to describe the bastard. Regardless, we need to find out if he is indeed there” said Williston.
“Where are you getting your info from Williston? Rizzato is not stupid and like other vermin, knows how to hide and stay alive.”
“You remember Uday’s nephew, Rafan Bashara, who runs his Bangladeshi offices in Dhaka?”
“Yes I do,” replied Drake. “He’s the Harvard graduate, a real whiz kid. I met him at his aunt’s wedding, when Uday’s youngest sister got married last spring.”
Williston explains, “On Saturday Rafan sent word to Uday that he overheard Rizzato’s name in a conversation at a bar. He then befriended the stranger, who was drunkenly boasting of his acquaintance with Rizzato and the work they were doing south of the city. Rafan tried to get him to divulge more information, but the worker was too far gone to make any sense. Rafan secured him at his apartment with hopes of getting more details from him in the morning, but the man slipped away sometime late in the night.”
Again Williston hesitates, sad memories and a bad feeling make him pause before continuing.
“The next day, Rafan found the man’s mutilated body in the trunk of his car. It was evident that he had been tortured. Obviously Rafan wasn’t the only one to overhear the boastful ramblings and they must have been followed. That’s when Rafan notified Uday.”
“Yeah... this has Rizzato’s stink on it. Where is Rafan now and what is he saying?”
“We don’t know. He hasn’t been heard from since Saturday, the day he found the body and spoke with Uday. Thinking this incident might lead us to Rizzato, Uday’s men left the body where it will eventually be found and disposed of the car so as not to draw any unnecessary attention for the present. We need your help Drake.”
Drake was about to respond when Williston adds, “There’s more. The body had a crude Z cut into the back shoulder just like Amber’s. We both know what that means.”
The implication of the three year old clue leaves Drake speechless. Images of Amber in happier times fill some seconds for both men until Williston says, “I’ll wrap things up here in Geneva today, keep Uday with me. We’ll try to locate Rafan and then fly out tomorrow morning on the company jet. I’ve got some more digging to do, so meet us on the Drifter’s Dream. We’ll be anchored off the north east coast of Antigua, out past Jumby Bay Island. If you’re flying down, I’ll have the beacon on – you’ll find us.”
With a voice of bitter malice, Williston charges Drake, “Find this man for us, Drake, and put him away... or kill him this time!”
“I will, Williston, I promise!”
The Dark Side of a Promise will be available as an eBook soon. Watch for further notices.
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Next week you can read an amusing story about three grown men acting like boys.....Part 1 of "Pioneers in a Hurry"