After crashing at Anatoly’s place Bill has been to get his disguise sorted and is now making his final arrangements for travel.
Bill was already there when Anatoly got back to his bedsit, and he did a double-take as he saw a bearded man sitting in his chair. “What-” he began, then recognised Bill’s twinkling eyes.
“Do you like my beard?” Bill asked with a grin.
“It is quite convincing,” Anatoly answered, dumping his case of files on the bed and taking a closer look. “You can really not tell it is fake unless you look closely.”
“Hopefully, apart from the children, no one will get close enough to tell the difference,” Bill said with a smile. “Are those files anything to do with me?”
“They are all to do with you. I have never met anyone who could generate so much paperwork in a bid to disappear,” Anatoly said with a false tone of weariness.
“Well I’m a very important person to make disappear,” chuckled Bill. He gestured to the papers, “May I?”
“Of course. There are maps of some islands you might want to visit, details of where and when to meet the boat you will be using, the train timetable… Oh and some papers and documents pertaining to a Dr Walker which is to be your new identity.”
Bill nodded and picked up the sheaf of papers, setting them down on the small table. He nodded to the side, “I brought fish and chips by the way.”
“Oh good, I am starving,” Anatoly said, reaching over and grabbing a greasy newspaper wrapped bundle.
Bill smiled as Anatoly dug into the fish and chips has if he hadn’t eaten since the toast at breakfast, which in all likelihood, he hadn’t. Bill would have preferred that Anatoly took more care of himself but he also knew that being a junior in their jot meant having to do a lot of running around after all the higher ups, and often abandoning meals half-way through if they were even sat down to in the first place.
“So you are leaving this evening, then?” Anatoly said between mouthfuls, slowing down now that more than half of the meal had gone.
“Yes, I need to leave in a few hours get to Euston for nine-thirty to meet the children,” Bill explained, double-checking the tickets from the bundle of papers.
Anatoly was quiet as he finished the fish and chips, as he was thinking hard. “Should I… I mean… Would it be a good idea for me to follow on?” he asked. “Just in case there is any trouble.” He was keen to do so, keen to be of help, but he worried that it might sound as if he didn’t think Bill could take care of himself.
Bill paused on a chip for a moment, “Yes, that isn’t half a bad idea, lad! Just make sure you aren’t followed yourself.”
“I got top marks for stealth and shadowing!” Anatoly said indignantly, balling up the newspaper and tossing it in the waste paper basket.
“I know you did, but arrogance is not a reason to forget your training and abandon caution!” Bill reminded him gently.
Knowing it was no good arguing with Bill, Anatoly merely grunted. Of course he wasn’t going to throw caution to the wind and forget his training, just because he knew he was good at his job. He wouldn’t be good as his job if that was the case. “I will leave shortly after you then. Follow you to the station. Wait until you are on the train and it leaves.”
Bill nodded, “And then be careful on your way home in case the people after me, have clocked you. It never hurts to be more cautious!”
This time he scowled. “I am not sixteen any more, Bill.” He said testily. “I have been out in the field alone. I know what I am doing!”
Holding up his hands, Bill shrugged, “OK, ok, well I’m just trying to look after you Anatoly.”
Keeping a careful hold on his temper Anatoly replied; “I know. But I am not a child. I do not need looking after. I am a grown man and your colleague now.”
“I understand,” Bill said, reaching for his pipe, after finishing his supper. “Do you mind if I smoke?
“No, it is fine.” Bill lit his pipe carefully and sat back to smoke it. He looked relaxed but his mind was active, going over all his carefully laid plans.
Anatoly on the other hand was fidgety. He always was when he was eager to get going, when there was something that needed to be done. For him the clock seemed to be ticking more slowly than usual. He had already checked his weapons and laid them ready to be holstered and now there was nothing to do but wait. He was impatient to go, for the opportunity to practice the art of stealth again, for real. He always ducked and dived in London now, it was second nature, but it was more exciting if it was real. And of course, there was always the possibility of trouble. He practically itched to get involved in some action. He didn’t anticipate any trouble, not really. If anyone knew where Bill was there was nothing stopping them storming into the block of flats there and then. But you never knew.
Just before nine Bill stood up, stretched and nodded at Anatoly. “Time to suit up, we’re leaving in five.” He checked all his bags, and pulled on the big overcoat, buttoning it up.
Anatoly holstered his weapons; a revolver on either side under his jacket and a knife strapped to his left ankle. It was probably over-kill but it was always better to be over rather than under armed. He watched as Bill donned a black-checked cap and thick glasses. He looked different, especially with the beard. But then he hunched his shoulders and squinted as if even with the glasses he couldn’t see every well and he became even less like Bill Cunningham.
Bill smirked at Anatoly. “Will I do?” he asked with a slight wink.
“You are quite unrecognisable,” he said honestly. He made a mental note to practice harder at disguises himself.
“You’d better go out first,” Bill said practically, then follow at a distance.
Anatoly did as he was told, and shadowed Bill all the way to Euston Station. It was easy as Bill was shuffling along at a gentle pace and making no attempt to go unseen. He didn’t spot anyone following him, or paying him an undue attention. In fact, he seemed almost invisible to the various people who passed him, looking as shabby and old as he did.
Bill moved through the station, and once he had spotted the children, he looked over his shoulder once, gave Anatoly a small nod of his head, hailed the porter for their bags and followed the children to their train.
There didn’t seem to be anyone suspicious at the station either, but Anatoly bought an evening edition of a newspaper and leaned against a wall to peruse it, all the while keeping an eye on Bill’s train. It was busy, lots of businessmen boarding, possibly heading home after meetings in the capital. They would have to catch what sleep they could on the train and then work their usual day in the office, he guessed. He didn’t envy them in that. Nobody untoward looking boarded the train at Bill’s, or any other, carriage, and at ten precisely the train pulled out of the station leaving nothing but a cloud of smoke.
To be continued…