The Woman in Red: 28. The assignment
‘No…,’ the Baroness shouted in despair. Her eyes were wide open with fear, and she fixed her attention on the hand with the pistol against Katarina’s head. ‘I’ll talk...,' she continued in a silent voice. The tears were running down her face now. The proud woman had broken, and she acknowledged his supremacy.
‘A wise decision, Madame,’ the man in the suit said. ‘May I suggest you don’t fool us and immediately tell the truth because I can put a bullet in that beautiful head of your daughter at any time. It would be a shame when my gloves had to be stained by Katarina's blood, but you do have to make some concessions to obtain the truth, don't you?' He seemed to be amused by his words because a big smile appeared upon his ugly mug.
Beatrice swallowed for a moment and then started to speak. ‘There are indeed three recording tapes like you said. I’ve given them to three different persons to spread the risk they’ll fall into the wrong hands. They have to make them public if I don’t give a sign before the first of next month. That’s our deal, I always give a signal and then they know everything is alright. So, if they didn’t hear from me at that time…, it’s out of my hands.’
‘Okay,’ the head man said, ‘I can believe that a person has to anticipate some risks if you enter dangerous territory. But I still haven’t heard to whom you have given the tapes. Come on, tell me, my finger is itching,' and once again he held the pistol against Katarina's head. ‘They’ll never give it to you, even if you threaten them.’ The Baroness didn’t speak for a moment, but after a while continued when the man questioningly looked at her. ‘The first tape is with Frau Bertha Hofmeister, the second with Thérèse Dupont and the last one is in the possession of Monsieur Charles. I suppose they know I’ve disappeared so that will make them still more suspicious.’
The man had released Katarina, and she had escaped in the arms of Jean-Pierre, who in the meanwhile silently had stood up. He wouldn’t make sudden movements because one of the accomplices still held a gun in his hand that he pointed now and then in his direction. ‘Katarina, my dear child,’ the pedantic gangster suddenly spoke, ‘I’m going to give you an important assignment, and you have to give your best to bring it to a good end. Your mother's life depends on it. And once we've eliminated her, we'll come for your friend, and we'll keep you for last. I assure you, I'm not telling you something.' He quietly looked at her when he put his gun back in his holster.
‘I can’t let your mother go or let her ask for the tapes. I wouldn't know if she was signaling that you or she was in danger. So you are going to get the tapes for me. I presume you know these people well, don't you?' He looked at her, and she nodded, so he continued his argumentation. 'You'll have until the first of the month. I'll try it this time without violence because we already attracted enough attention with the abduction of your mother. I don't want the police on our track..., if it's not necessary, of course. It's all in your hands, do you understand?'
Katarina nodded again. She knew it would be a difficult task, but some plan already came up in her head. Jean-Pierre had to help her. She hoped he would stay on her side in these conditions, which was not evident. The man was right, the three tape keepers would be aware. They had to play it smart. Maybe this was one of the hardest things Katarina ever had done. Difficult was just another way to get there she thought to herself.
‘Okay, that’s a deal then, you have just about three weeks until the first of the month, that should be time enough. Let's meet again here the last of this month and when I don't see you at that moment, you can say adieu to your "maman", and now that I think of it..., say hi to your twin sister at the front door, your real chauffeur I mean. We'll leave through the back door. A good day to you.' He casually tapped with two fingers against the side of his forehead saying goodbye.
His accomplices took Beatrice along after one of them had gagged her again. They disappeared together with their boss behind the black curtains of the little podium and after a short noisy moment everything was quiet again in the night club.
‘Do you know this guy, Katarina?’ Jean-Pierre spoke first.
Katarina shook upon her legs, and her face was very pale due to the emotions they had endured. He put his arm around her shoulders and led her to one of the seats at the side and carefully helped her down on one.
‘I’ve never seen him before in my life, but I know this kind of people. He’s serious, and he’ll do what he promises, we have to get those tapes.’
‘Okay, I understand. But those people won’t give them so easy to us, will they?’ Jean-Pierre scratched in his hair and inquisitively looked at her.
‘No, they certainly won’t, but we have to fool them or still better, seduce them.’
Now he looked at her still more surprised. ‘How do mean, seduce? Who has to do such a thing? I don’t understand…’ He saw Katarina deliberately looking at him after his first question, and he started to suspect something. ‘You want to say that I… but how do I, I mean that…?’ He stumbled over his words.
‘I know I can’t ask that from you, Jean-Pierre. But we got so far together. Will you help me solve this problem, I don’t have to remind you my mother’s life depending on it? But if you don’t take that into account, you may be sure his threat against us is no joke. We’re all in danger if we can’t get those tapes in our hands.
‘Okay, okay…, I fully support you. But what about Monsieur Charles, I don’t think he’ll fall for my charms.’
‘You may be surprised, but no, I think he rather loves the company of women. He’s my responsibility.’