Simon Marston was born in Gelligaer Hospital, in South Wales, to a Welsh mother and an English father who had been born in Karachi. Simon’s grandmother was an Indian Moslem who, after independence from the British, became a Pakistani citizen. An elegant woman of exceptional beauty her good looks, and dark skin, skipped a generation and passes to her grandson, who was something of an enigma at the Pengam Grammar School in the Rhymney Valley. He won a place at Sandhurst where, after initial training, he specialized in languages and Middle Eastern cultures. He sat at the coffee stall across from John.
“How can I be of help?”
“D’you know where Kavoosi keeps his interesting prisoners?”
“Probably. I know where he used to keep them. Do you want me to see someone?”
“I want you to free someone.”
Simon was startled – painful memories shot through his system but he didn’t let it show – years of diplomatic discipline held him expressionless. “That would be extremely expensive.”
“Never mind that. There’s a young woman and two men. I’d like to have the men out but she’s the most important.”
Simon took a card from his wallet, wrote a number on the back, and handed it to John. “That’s in the Singapore Investment Bank. Put one million euros in there and meet me here tomorrow. Don’t call.” He stood, smiled, and left.
Somewhere deep in the psych of Bill Brown lay a twisted pride in his ability to take a beating. Like most special forces personnel he’d trained to endure pain of various sorts and to dish it out. He knew how to take the blows, the sleep deprivation, the hours in discomforting positions, the humiliations . . . he could take all that. He could take all that at once, or over time, and remain inwardly cool but the confusion was eating away at him. What they were doing to him was just torture. There were no questions; there seemed no purpose other than sheer enjoyment the guards were taking in his agonizing. What the fuck were they up to?
He wasn’t asleep when the door opened. He was never asleep now. He moved as a zombie, as a broken animal with a nervous system that barely functioned. Pain had taken everything. “Where are the others?” A voice, an English voice, but he couldn’t see anyone. He couldn’t see anything. Were his eyes open? Maybe he forgot to open them. Maybe he forgot . . . what did he forget?
“Meira, the woman, and the others – where are they?”
How would he know? How would he know anything? He was in the dark, and cold, on hard floor, no bed, no clothes, no blanket. He had nothing. Not true. He had a little shit sometimes. Sometimes there was a little, warm, yes warm, shit. Not much now. No food now. Nearly dead. Yes, getting there. Nearly dead.
“Brown. Brown. Can you hear me Brown?”
‘Course I can. I can hear. What he say? What the Englishman say?
The door opened and closed. Did it? Did it? Did it open and close or, did it close and open again? Ah, there, did it? Did it what? What did it? The door. The door did it.
“How long has he been here?” Marston was seething.
“Who?” The Officer of the Guard remained seated – unmoved.
“That poor bastard of an Englishman in the hole.”
“Oh, him. Tough guy. Likes to kick and spit. He’s under intensive investigation.”
“Spying. He’s been spying on the Iranian people. We found him digging holes and firing rockets and bombs at innocent Iranians.”
“He’s broken. You can’t learn anymore from him.”
“We haven’t learned anything. When he used to talk he insulted the guards, insulted the Ayatollah, and Islam. He’s going to die.”
“I think he’s nearly there.”
“They always surprise me. He might last another week. Longer if they let up but I don’t like to spoil their fun.”
“How about ten thousand dollars?”
The officer sat back in his chair. Looking up he peered hard into Marston’s eyes. “Twenty.”
Marston turned, “Forget it,” he said. “I’ll get another one.”
“You got the money with you?”
Marston looked at him. “Would you? I’ll be in Chitgar Park, near the station, just before sun-up. If the place isn’t crawling with troops I’ll have the money if you have the man.”