Bill Kitson

 

Read below for an extract from Buried in the Past

1986

The car was being driven well within the speed limit. The road was unfamiliar and Hendrik was unused to driving on the left. In addition, there was no lighting, neither town nor village to bring relief, only the car’s headlights to pierce the blackness of the night. Hendrik muttered something extremely unflattering to his companion about the backward state of the British nation.

‘At least this road is so lonely there are no other cars for you to worry about,’ Rutger pointed out.

‘I can see why. Who would drive along this road out of choice? How much further do we have to travel before we meet our man? I want to get rid of this stuff, take our money and return in time to catch the morning ferry.’

They were speaking Dutch, their native tongue. ‘Only a few kilometers more. We have to look for an inn that has been abandoned and boarded up.’

Hendrik gave a scornful laugh. ‘Hardly surprising the inn is abandoned. Probably from lack of customers. My only question would be, why build one out here in the first place? Are you absolutely certain we’re on the right road?’

‘I’m following the instructions I was given to the letter, and when you think of it, the loneliness of the meeting place is ideal, given what we are carrying.’ Nevertheless, Rutger shifted uncomfortably in his seat and eased the handcuff on his wrist. The movement caused the briefcase on his knee to slide forward. He clutched it, aware of the value of its contents and the perilous nature of their journey.

Several minutes later, Hendrik pointed to a large building picked out by the headlights. It was set back from the road with a large open space in front, which had obviously once been a car park. As they got nearer they could see the boarded-up windows. This had to be the place.

There was a vehicle in the car park, possibly the first to have parked there in years. It was tucked away in the furthest corner, almost as if ashamed of its presence in the dreary location. As they swung onto the tarmac the headlights of the stationary vehicle flashed, once, twice, three times. ‘That’s it,’ Rutger said. ‘That’s the signal.’

As Hendrik pulled to a halt alongside a small van, the driver got out. They could see he was carrying a briefcase, slightly larger than the one they had. The Dutchmen relaxed. This was obviously the man they had to meet, and that would be the money.

The man reached their car, opened the rear door and slid into the back seat. They heard the briefcase being opened. ‘Good evening,’ Rutger greeted him, his English heavily accented. As last words, they were hardly memorable. Hendrik saw Rutger slump forward in his seat, felt something warm and sticky splash his cheek. Then the knifeman turned his attention to him and he neither heard, nor saw, nor felt anything more.

The knifeman located the key in Rutger’s pocket and deftly unlocked the handcuff, removing the briefcase. He carried it back to his own vehicle and passed it through the open window. ‘Better check we have the right one,’ he told his companion. ‘It would be a shame if we’ve got the wrong men.’

A few seconds later, aided by the courtesy light, they both gasped in awe at the sight of row upon row of bright, sparkling diamonds, the stones winking with sinful glee at them. ‘Beautiful, absolutely beautiful,’ the passenger breathed.