“You look thirsty, Pavel. But as luck would have it I’ve had an exquisite – and expensive – Ardbeg smuggled in last week.”
Yakov had invited me over to his Budapest pad, overlooking the city from the east bank of the Donau. To ‘have a talk’.
“Tempting,” I said.
Yakov had already all but twisted the cork off.
“Don’t bother,” I replied. “I always bring my own.”
If Yakov’s eyes were alarm bells they’d be ringing now. Yet he did not say a word as my hand went into my pocket. He was too smart for that. He knew that if he let but slip a soupcon of anxiety, he’d no longer have the upper hand.
“Got more of those hidden pockets in that suit?” Yakov jested, pouring himself a 250 pound dram.
“A couple,” I bluffed, taking a sip from the small flask he had not found when he’d searched me five minutes ago.
“I know you’re onto me,” Yakov said.
So he did know.
“Have you been a naughty boy, Yakov?”
“Enough with the games, Pavel. Let’s get this out in the open. Nothing left to hide.”
He was calling my bluff.
“I’ve known for quite some time, yes. We all have.”
His golden ring tapped the tumbler.
“Define ‘some’ time.”
The tapping intensified. He was getting nervous. Unless it was a decoy. Somewhere in the room a gun was bound to be hidden.
“I take it you won’t be going quietly?” I asked.
Yakov shook his head.
“This has been a fun game of wits,” he replied. “These past ten years.”
I ducked the tumbler that suddenly came flying my way as we simultaneously reached for the gun taped under the salon table.
For one of us the witty days would soon be over.
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