Black Storm Over the Caspian

Chapter Ten

          The Mansfield Gulfstream touched down at Heathrow at nine in the morning to a typical overcast sky. Victor Cranston had managed to fall asleep after reading Sean’s disturbing report. There had been no radio news from the States concerning Andy Douglas’s location. Victor remained worried. He ushered the passengers into the terminal for a quick breakfast while the pilots supervised the refueling. At noon the plane lifted off for Stockholm.

          Victor received the dreaded call at 2:00 P.M.

          “Vic, this is Sean. Can you hear me?”

          “You’re a bit scratchy. Go ahead.”

          “It’s now eight in the morning. I was called in because a disturbing report from Andy came in by special delivery from State. He thinks he’s in trouble. I’ll clear my desk of business and I’ll join you—somewhere. Andy is in the Metropole in Moscow. Give me some ideas.”

          “We were scheduled to stop in Stockholm, but I’ll check with Jenkins. We may have enough fuel to reach St. Pete. That will put us there around six P.M. I don’t know about night flying in Russia. We might be better off taking the train that will put us in Moscow first thing in the morning. Notify the Embassy to expect us. I can’t think of anything past that. Do you want us to wait for you?”

          There was silence on the other end of the line. Victor waited patiently. The answer did not surprise him.

          “If you think it’s safe and you get there before us, break down the door and get Andy. Otherwise, get the Russian Commandos to help you. Understood?”

          “Understood. The question remains: where do we make contact?”

          “I’ll reach the embassy after landing, hopefully early in the morning. Check with me there, first. Good luck to you. Thanks once again, old friend.”

          Victor clicked off and turned to the pilot.

          Jenkins shook his head, yes.

          “We can make it to St. Pete. We’ll be there for dinner.”

          Sean O’Rourke put down the red phone with a heavy heart. Once again events out of his control were converging to make life difficult if he could use such a mundane expression. He wasted no time brooding about it. He rang his secretary, April, at her home.

          “Good morning, April. I hate to disturb you so early, but an emergency has come up and—“

          “Andy? I’m on my way.”

          “Thanks. I’m dispatching a cab for you.”

          He made another call.

          “Lawrence, old man. How are you this fine morning?”

          “And the top of the morning to you also.”

          “I know it’s Saturday, but I need your help.”

          “It wouldn’t be about a certain missing V.P., would it?”

          “Precisely. Can you come in?”

          “I’ll hail a cab.”

          “Thanks, old friend.”

          “Lawrence, this report is for your eyes only. April, get me a ticket on the next Concorde leaving JFK for London, then move me along to Moscow as quickly as possible and get me some money from petty cash.”

          Marissa picked up the phone on the first ring.

          “Sweetheart, I’m on my way to Russia. You’re right, it looks like trouble. The doc was right again. …He’ll be in St. Pete tonight and in Moscow in the morning. …I can’t leave this for him to fight alone. …I haven’t a clue who’s behind the problem that Andy believes exists. …He risked his life once for me.   I’ll be careful. After all, I have your secret weapon on my side. Stay calm. I love you, sweetheart.”

          “April, what do you have for me?”

          “The chopper will be roof side at nine. You leave JFK at ten. British Airways will take you on to Moscow where you will arrive at six in the morning. Is that fast enough for you?”

          “Great. For once I might beat the doc to somewhere. Lawrence, can you handle the Russian visa?”

          “I’ll contact the tolerant Embassy staff once more.”

          April asked in a small voice, “What else can we do for you, O Almighty One?”

          Sean let out a good belly laugh.

          He replied, “You are the only ones who will know where I am. Lawrence, please lie again to the Board. April, cancel all appointments until I check with you. I’ll do something for both of you, though. Moe’s deli is at this moment delivering a scrumptious breakfast since I can’t leave on an empty stomach. And after that you can have the rest of the day off. Thanks, both of you.”

          Two anxious, faithful employees wished Sean O’Rourke good luck as the chopper lifted off. They prayed they would see him again. There was never a dull moment as long as he was involved with the surgeon turned adventurer.

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