* * *
CHAPTER TEN - Pigalle
The following morning, at sometime around nine o’clock when the offices of a well known travel agency opened, I was on the phone and arranging tickets to Paris via Eurostar.
With a bit of persuasion and a sense of urgency, I managed to get a train leaving Waterloo Station at 1:30pm that afternoon. I also got a hotel booked for three nights in Paris. To be quite honest I only wanted two nights, but when I was told that I could have the third night free, I took up the offer. Furthermore, the hotel, I was informed, was not far from the station, and to make the whole operation even simpler, the travel agency arranged for the tickets and travellers cheques to be collected at one of their offices close to Waterloo Station. What a service! That took me just fifteen minutes to organise, and that was the easy part. After that I had to explain everything to Sandy and Anthea.
I phoned my cottage first and got no reply. I then tried Sandy’s mobile. Anthea answered. “Hello,” she said simply.
From the background drone of an engine, and the occasional squealing of tyres, I figured they were already on their way and with Sandy at the wheel. I took comfort from the fact that my car was still mobile. But when the tyres squealed again I was wondering for how much longer? Anyway, I tried not to think about it. Having made contact I now had some smooth talking to do. “Hi sweetheart,” I said in my most tender of voices. “How you doing?”
There was crackle and static on the line and the poor reception suggested they were still out in the country somewhere, possibly not far from home. “Hello darling, we’ve just left and we’re on our way,” Anthea explained.
I smiled. I’d reasoned correctly, and ‘just left’ told me they were a good five, maybe six hours away. With Sandy’s weak bladder it could be even longer. It was all dependent on how many stops they had to make. Anyway, by the time they arrived, the truth was, I’d be over on the other side of the Channel and hurtling towards Paris. “Look sweetheart, I’m not going to be here when you arrive,” I told her. “But I’ve booked you a room at a hotel. It’s at ‘The Elms’, it’s right on the corner before you get to Hendry’s. Can you make your way there?”
There was hesitation. I knew Anthea wasn’t the best in the world at navigating, nor for that matter finding anything. Even locating her slippers in the morning was a problem. But it was no use explaining to Sandy. She’d never been to Hendry’s so wouldn’t have a clue. “I think I know the place,” Anthea said hesitantly.
I didn’t want to push the matter. She could always ask a policeman. “Good,” I told her, “Now listen, there’s something I want you to do for me and it’s most important.”
“What’s that then Woody?” she asked.
I had a plan of sorts worked out, something I couldn’t do by myself, and I put it to Anthea. “I want you to get friendly with Fernando. Super friendly like. Bonk the pants off him if need be. I want you to find out what makes the guy tick. I’ve never seen him involved in bondage or male domination, and he’s recently took on a resident dominatrix at the club. Perhaps he’s bent that way? Anyway, I want you to find out what turns him on, and do it without me being around. That’s important. Will you do that for me sweetheart?” I asked, and reiterating: “It’s most important.”
There was further hesitation. I swear I could hear the cogs whirring inside her head. “Yes,” she answered cautiously, “but where will you be Woody? why are you keeping out of the way?”
This was the bit I dreaded. The last thing I wanted to tell her was that I was off to Paris without either her or Sandy. “Top secret,” I told her, “but I promise I’ll tell you all about it later. I should only be away a few of days. I’ll be back on Friday for certain.”
Again a delay. “All right Woody,” she agreed, “we’ll find the hotel and wait for you there, and I’ll get flirty with Fernando for you. But what about Sandy? What does she do?”
To be quite honest I’d not considered Sandy anywhere in my plans. I thought quickly. “Tell you what sweetheart,” I said, “introduce her to the club. She’s not been there before. Maybe she can earn a bob or two. It might be a good way of introducing yourselves to Fernando without me being involved. Try it and see anyway.”
“Mmmm,” replied Anthea, “so I take Sandy along to Hendry’s, get to see Fernando and then see what I can find out about the guy? Find out whether he’s either AC or DC, dominant or submissive, that sort of thing, and fuck him if necessary?” she queried.
I had to smile. How many girls could you talk to that would be willing to drop their knickers to anyone just for a favour? I tell you, Anthea is something special. “That’s it sweetheart, the whole works. I need to know,” I confirmed. “Do that for me and when I get back I’ll tie you to the bed and keep fucking you until you shout stop!”
Anthea laughed. “You’ve promised me that before and it’s never happened yet,” she giggled.
I know it hadn’t. Stop wasn’t a word in Anthea’s vocabulary. “Well this time I will,” I told her.
There was another giggle. “We’ll see big boy,” she said.
I decided to leave the conversion there. I was doing all right, and there’d been no mention of Paris. However, there was one final thing I needed to say. “Oh, and sweetheart,” I told her. “You two are booked into the hotel as my wife and her sister. There’s a double room and a single room booked in my name. Try not to disillusion the dear old lady who runs the place. She’s a bit frail and probably won’t stand too many shocks. You decide who’s wife and who’s sister, and try to act the parts.”
Anthea laughed. “She won’t like to find us sleeping in the same bed then?” she suggested.
I laughed, but I had a different image in mind. “I was thinking more like finding one of you tied to the bedposts next morning,” I told her, “so be careful what you’re up to.”
Anthea chuckled at the thought. “Would we ever do a thing like that?” she said jokingly.
I decided to end the conversation whilst we were still both laughing. It seemed the best thing to do before anymore awkward questions could be asked. “Bye then sweetheart, give my love to Sandy as well, and I’ll see you in a couple of days time,” I said then switched off my mobile. After that I packed my travel bag and called a taxi to take me to Waterloo Station.
* * *
Boarding Eurostar was a bit like boarding a plane. There were Passports and Immigration Controls, Customs and Security Checks, and even machines to X-ray your baggage. But right on time the train was there to board, and dead on the dot we pulled silently out of the station. I was impressed by the quietness and smoothness of the ride. I also had my own carriage and seat number identified by my ticket, so I had no problem in that department either. I settled down, relaxed and decided this was the only way to travel to Paris.
About an hour later we stopped at Ashford in Kent where further passengers got on. We then set off again. Soon afterwards we were passing through the Channel Tunnel. I must say I didn’t notice until everything went black outside. For half an hour you’re travelling in the dark. It’s just like travelling at night really. Then all of a sudden you’re back in daylight again. After that things really start to hot up. The lines over on the French side of the Channel are designed for high speed, and soon you are travelling at 300 kilometres per hour. (Almost 200 miles per hour.) For long stretches the railway lines follow a motorway. I can tell you the traffic looks stationary when you’re going over 100 miles an hour faster.
From London to Paris took just three hours, but you have to add on one more hour for Central European Time. It was 5:30pm, Paris time when I stepped off the train at the Gare Du Nord. After that I was lost and I just drifted along with the milling crowd. I ended up in a taxi rank and found myself queuing along with hundreds of other people. I estimated I had at least thirty minutes wait before it was my turn, so I decided this was not for me and pulled out of the queue. I then drifted on back into the station where I found an unoccupied bench and sat down.
Along with all my travel documents I’d received a complimentary street map of Paris. I took it out and began to familiarise myself with a city I’d always wanted to visit but never actually got around to seeing. On my previous case I’d actually reached the outskirts of Paris when staying at a hotel with Sandy, but that was closest I’d ever got. (See Submissive Work.) Anyway, I was buzzing with excitement.
Having worked out the location of my hotel and in which direction to head, I set off walking at a gentle pace. I was travelling light anyway and only had enough clothes in my travel bag for three nights.
Outside the station the sun was shining and the sky above me blue. The temperature was also several degrees warmer than London. It was at this point I had my first encounter with Paris traffic. Without a care in the world I came to a road junction controlled by traffic lights. Like the good citizen I am, I waited for the green man to appear then stepped out into the road. It was at this point I had a rude awakening. I heard the squeal of tyres, jumped back, and it was a good thing I did too. For just two inches away from my kneecap was the front bumper of a car. Immediately I leapt back on the pavement and felt my heart pounding. I watched the man in the car remonstrate to me, and I think I even said sorry, despite seeing the green man still visible over on the other side of the crossing. Anyway, after waving his arms about a lot and slapping his forehead, the man drove off. I then gave him two fingers.
The next time the green man came round I’d worked out a different strategy. This time I ran for all I was worth, and I must say I got to the other side just in time. It was a bus on this occasion that nearly got me. I decided from then on to remain on my side of the road, and treat the opposite side as some distant foreign land that was impossible to reach.
I found my hotel and booked in. It was down a one-way back street. The room was small but there was only me so it didn’t matter. I showered and shaved, then, after a slight rest on the bed, I set off again.
The time was about seven o’clock in the evening when I stepped out of my hotel. The late summer sun was still shining brightly and the weather quite warm.
I had two reasons for visiting Paris. One was to check out the manufacturer of that chair. The other was to glean a little bit more information on the shipping agents that transported that chair to London. I didn’t expect the chair manufacturer to be a major player in this intrigue. However the trail from Paris to London by the shipping agents, ‘Europa Container Transport’, was of great interest to me. I was beginning to think my earlier visit to Dundee pretty unfruitful until I saw that van turn up at Hendry’s. It could have been pure coincidence that two delivery vans, both from the same Company, turn up outside the ‘Pilliwinks’ in Dundee and Hendry’s in London, but somehow I doubted it. In the detective game you get these feelings, and I was playing the ‘the law of averages’ game. There were too many ‘pure coincidences’ to be a coincidence, if you see what I mean!
Anyway, the address of the chair manufacturer was to the south of the city and I had plans to visit this place tomorrow. So this evening, with time on my hands, I decided to go out and enjoy the Parisian night life.
* * *
I walked for while, and even though I was down a back street I found myself at a bustling five-way junction. There was a restaurant on one of the corners, so I took a vacant seat at a small round table outside. There were many restaurants about and I could have opted for any one of them. But I must admit I chose this one because I liked the views and not particularly the fine fare being served up. For over an hour I sat outside, ate my meal, supped a bottle of wine and watched the world go by.
Feeling replete I set off again. The time would be about 8:30 pm by now. After a while and wondering exactly where I was, I took out my trusty street map and checked the road names about me. To my surprise, and you’ve got to believe me here, I discovered that I was no more than stone’s throw away from the Pigalle district of Paris. Being one not to miss a golden opportunity, I set off in that general direction. Ten minutes later I found myself right in the heart of this notorious red-light district.
At this time in August there was still some daylight left, but the sun was setting fast by now and I knew it to be dark soon. I took advantage of the last of the daylight and took a stroll around. The Pigalle district is an interesting place. It’s a lively, bustling area full of ordinary shops, bars and restaurants all intermingled with the sex trade. There’s a greengrocers next to a shop that sells sex toys, a mini supermarket next to a revue bar and even an Internet café next to a shop that sells sex magazines and videos. However, one street worthy of a special mention is the ‘Boulevard de Clichy’, where both sides of the road are lined with erotica shops and striptease parlours.
I strolled around for some while, just looking, observing and feeling like a tourist. Famous places I’d heard of flashed their bright neon signs at me. Trendy night-spots such as the ‘Moulin Rouge’, ‘La Locomotive’ and ‘Elysee Montmartre’ came into view, and at each I stopped to read the notices and look at the pictures outside.
One other establishment worthy of a mention here is the ‘Musee de l’Erotisme’. It’s big building on seven levels and full of things like - and I quote from a brochure here - stimulating sexual aids from days gone by. In all it boasts some 2000 titillating objects including erotic art both antique and new from all corners of the world. I was tempted to go inside, but without Sandy and Anthea with me to enjoy the experience, I just picked up a leaflet from outside and moved on.
Eventually I found myself walking up a back street with a very steep climb. (At this point in Paris you are not very far away from Montmartre and the Sacre-Coeur, and that is right on top of a very steep hill.) Anyway, I guess I was about halfway up when I came to stand outside a strip-joint that could be best described as a little less upmarket than those establishments at the bottom of the hill.
For a while I stood and looked at the pictures outside. They were blatantly advertising ‘Kinky Sex’, something you could never find in London where everything has to be kept discreet. That’s the difference between our two cultures. The French are open and honest about these things, whilst we in Britain try to keep everything under wraps. Such a pity really, but until some government decides to grasp the nettle and do something about it, then I guess we’re stuck with all the restrictive legislation that throttles our own sex industry.
Anyway, once outside, I continued to do the same thing I’d been doing all evening. I stopped to look at a collection of photographs in a glass display frame. It was here I noticed something interesting. I found myself staring at one photograph in particular. It was a bit like a scene from the film ‘Cabaret’, with the Master of Ceremonies (Joel Grey I think!) dressed in a bowler hat, striped waistcoat and a heavily made up face, and behind him stood a group of eight girls all in various degrees of undress. Not very interesting I hear you say, but let me tell you, that man at the front looked very much like Pierre Renard. The trouble was, with all that dreadful makeup and a photograph faded by the sun, I could quite easily have been mistaken. I studied more closely, but still could not be sure. If this was Pierre, then it was an awfully young Pierre.
I looked to my watch. The time was about half past nine by now. Up until this point I’d had no intention of going inside anywhere. But now, having seen that photograph, I’m afraid my curiosity got the better of me. I straightened up my necktie, brushed down my suit then walked in through the doors.
I was greeted by a man in a black suit complete with the mandatory dickie bow. It’s funny really, but before I’d even opened my mouth the guy had worked out that I was English. “Sir is looking for a good time?” he queried.
I nodded my head. “If this is the sort of place I’m looking for, then I am,” I replied.
The man smiled. “You want good company? A nice girl,” he asked.
I nodded again. “Preferably one that speaks English,” I put to him.
The man moved to behind a small reception desk close to the door. “We have girls that speak English, that is no problem sir,” he confirmed, then got down to talking money. “Admission is eighty Euros.”
That’s about fifty pounds, which I assumed reasonable even though I didn’t know what I was getting. Before leaving my hotel I’d cashed all my travellers cheques, so I opened up my wallet and took out a one-hundred Euro note. I then noticed, along with a pile of leaflets on the counter, the club was selling postcards. I thumbed through them fast and came to the one in the display case outside. I put it to one side. “How much are these?” I asked.
“Five Euros each,” answered the man.
I quickly sorted out another three. “I’ll take these four,” I told him, then handed him my one hundred Euro note.
The man cashed the money then gestured with his hands for me to follow him through a set of double doors. I put the postcards in an inside pocket and set off behind him.
I found myself in a smoke filled room. French tobacco smells different. It’s much stronger than English and the smoke seems to hang about in the air without thinning. I cut my way through the smog and found myself being directed to a small bar in one corner. As I passed a line of tables I could see that they were all occupied by couples, mainly ageing men accompanied by scantily dressed females twenty years their younger. Then I guess I saw the funny side. In all probability I was about to join them.
I was taken to a stool next to the bar and asked to sit down. “If sir waits here I will get someone who speaks English to see you,” he informed me. “In the meantime you enjoy a drink please.”
I looked behind the bar. There were no optics but I could see a bottle of Famous Grouse whisky on a shelf. “Fine, thank you,” I said. “I will enjoy a whisky whilst I wait.”
The man gave a knowing smile, nodded his head then did a little bow. He then disappeared into the swirling blue haze that filled the dimly lit room. About five minutes later a woman drifted up to my side. Her hair was blonde, but the dark roots suggested this was not her natural colour. She was also getting on a bit. I put her in her mid-thirties, but all the same she was blessed with good looks and a fine body. She was wearing a dressing gown and very little else. At least the way the gown was provocatively open at the front suggested that she was only wearing bra and panties underneath. She sat down on a stool next to mine, lit up a cigarette, blew smoke in the air, then gave me a smile. “Sir is looking for someone that speaks English?” she queried.
I nodded my head. “It helps if I can communicate,” I told her.
The woman blew another puff of smoke into the air, then collected a drink from the bar which the barman had just poured. It looked like a Martini with ice and a slice of lemon hooked on the side. Suddenly I had visions of a French Anthea. I turned to face the barman. He was looking at me and I realised he was waiting to get paid. I tested out my French. “Combien, s’il vous plait?” I asked.
There, you see, I do know a little bit of French, even though on this occasion it wasn’t really necessary. From my earlier encounter with the barman, when I ordered my whisky, I was well aware that he spoke perfectly good English. I’d also not paid him anything as yet, so I guess he was wanting to collect the money before I ran up a massive bill. “That will be twenty Euros Sir,” he informed me.
I tried not to smile. Twenty Euros was about fifteen pounds, and this, compared with Hendry’s was cheap. The identical round - that’s a double whisky and a Martini with ice and lemon - back in England, would have cost me twenty pounds. I paid the man then got to talking with my allotted companion for the evening.
I found out that her name was Angelique and that she originated from Provence, which is French Department down south somewhere close to the Mediterranean, and had come to the big city to seek her fortune when she was just sixteen. She didn’t say twenty years ago, but I guessed that was about the time scale she was alluding to.
One other interesting fact to emerge was that she’d been working at this club for most of that time, and she was quite open about why she had been doing so. Basically it paid the rent. She was forthcoming too about her relationship with me. I was offered sex, kinky or straight and the charge was dependant on what services I had. She rattled off a list of charges; hand job so many Euros, blow job something else, right up to full sex where anything goes including bondage and whipping. This apparently was how she and all the other girls at this establishment made their money. There were rooms upstairs where she would take me.
Now I wasn’t exactly rushing for anything on offer. What I really wanted was a little bit of information as regards a certain photograph pinned to the board outside. I extracted the postcards from my pocket and showed them Angelique. “I bought these tonight,” I told her, “do you know any of these people?”
Angelique looked through all four photographs then nodded her head slowly. She pointed to a face on a photograph. “This one is me,” she replied and turning the photo round so that I could see.
To my surprise I found her pointing to a youthful looking girl stood just behind the man in a striped waistcoat and bowler hat. To be quite honest I didn’t recognise her. It was only when she pointed herself out did I see any resemblance. I pointed to the man at the front of the picture. “And this man?” I said. “Who is he?”
Angelique stared hard at the photograph. “He worked here once,” she told me, “but he is gone now.”
What I was fishing for was a name, and possibly where he might be found. I’d done a little bit of calculating. Angelique and Pierre were about the same age; both in their mid-thirties. I estimated this photograph was taken when Angelique was in her early twenties, and that is what I found most interesting, for the man in the picture also appeared to be of a similar age, which strengthened my belief that this was Pierre.
I looked to Angelique as if waiting for a little more information to be forthcoming, but nothing came. In the end she handed the four postcards back to me. I could tell that she had been struggling to think back that far. You often get these mental blocks when interviewing in the police force and there are techniques for helping the memory return. The trouble was, when sitting on a barstool with the barman listening in on the conversation, these were not the ideal conditions to conduct such an interview. So I put away the postcards in my pocket and made a decision. “Shall we go to a room?” I asked.
Angelique looked relieved and slid down from her stool. “Oui,” she answered, then rattled off something in French to the barman.
I guess we’d spent half an hour together with no money changing hands, and that must have been bad for business. Anyway, out of all the words spoken to the barman, the name champagne stuck out as the one word I recognised. I looked on as an ice bucket appeared, then the ice, and followed by a bottle of bubbly. The bucket was then pushed towards me along with two champagne glasses. “That will be eighty Euros Sir,” I was told. That’s something like fifty pounds for a bottle of champagne. But I didn’t grumble, I was getting used to club prices by now. I paid the man. Angelique collected the glasses, I carried the ice bucket, and we set off for a private room of our own.
* * *
The rooms were on the floor above. Basically we’d entered a bedroom with a double bed, a single chair and chest of drawers, and that was about all there was. Furthermore, the windows were open and there weren’t any curtains. I could hear the drone of cars and the hubbub of people talking from out on the street below. But it wasn’t the activity down below I was worried about, it was the windows across the street. There were lights on and people moving about. I placed the ice bucket on the chest of drawers and popped open the champagne. Angelique slid the two glasses alongside and I filled them to the top. I then offered a glass to Angelique, and we touched glasses and toasted.
I took a sip of my champagne then looked about the room. As I mentioned before, there wasn’t much to see, just a few sparse pieces of furniture, and the only evidence of bondage were a couple of white ropes hung over the headboard of the bed. There was also one of those feather dusters with a short cane and bright pink feathers resting on the top of the bed. In my naïvety, and possibly because my mind was on other things at the time, I assumed someone had been tidying the room and dusting cobwebs from the corners before we arrived.
Trying to think how best to handle the situation, I moved to the top of the bed and absent-mindedly picked up the feather duster. I then proceeded to dust the headboard. Angelique giggled and I gave a look that suggested I needed to be let into the secret.
She let me know. “You are into tickling? Oui?” she asked.
Suddenly the penny dropped. I told you I wasn’t thinking. “Tickling? That is what this is for?” I asked in return.
Angelique nodded her head. “My previous client. It is what he likes. To be tied up and tickled. It is what you say… a fetish… Oui?” she explained.
I had an idea. I wasn’t after sex, I was looking for information. I wasn’t into being tickled either, but with the roles reversed, then I could see great possibilities. I decided to put this on a commercial basis. After all, that is what we were here for. I nodded my head. “A fetish, yes, that is what we say in English, and I’m into it. But not to me, but to you. How much for me to tie you up and tickle you?” I asked.
Angelique rubbed her chin thoughtfully. I guess she was considering how much she could take me for, not whether she was willing to let it happen. “Two hundred Euros,” she told me after giving the matter some thought.
As ever I did a quick calculation. She was asking for something like one-hundred and twenty pounds. It seemed a bit steep to me, but really I had no option other than accept. I nodded my head. “That’s fine by me,” I told her.
Angelique held out a hand to get paid. I guess money up front was the way things were handled in this trade, so I opened up my wallet and handed her two crisp one-hundred Euro notes. She slid the money firstly into a small purse, then deposited it into the top drawer of the chest of drawers. She then turned to me. “How do you want me then?” she asked.
I collected the two lengths of rope from off the headboard and ran them through my hands. “On the bed,” I told her.
Angelique undid the belt of her dressing gown to reveal a lacy black bra and matching panties. “You want me with my clothes off? Oui?” she asked.
I nodded my head. If I was paying two-hundred Euros to tickle her all over, then I wanted my money’s worth. “Yes please,” I agreed, then waited.
Angelique removed what little else she wore, then stood upright so that we faced each other across the bed. For a few seconds I just stood to enjoy the view. A trim figure, two well rounded and firm breasts, and a little mound of black curly hair greeted me. Even though I’d suspected all along, the fact that she was not a natural blonde became obvious to me now.
I pulled myself together and told myself this was business not pleasure. “Sit down on the bed please, and face the other way, then put your hands behind your back,” I told her.
She did as she was told. I then leant across the bed and used one of the pieces of rope to bind her wrists together. It was a fairly lengthy piece of rope and I applied several turns before finishing off with a tight knot. “Now lie down on the bed,” I told her.
Angelique did as instructed and moved to lie down on the bed with her head resting on the pillow. She shuffled about a bit until she felt comfortable with her arms tied beneath her. I then used the second piece of rope to bind her ankles. Once more the rope was long and it took many turns before it was all used up. I then knotted the two ends tightly together. Afterwards I let her settle and get comfortable on the bed before I started.
Armed with my feather duster, I started in the middle, Angelique’s belly-button being the initial target. I then spread outwards in every increasing circles until the lower parts of the breasts and that little mound of black pubic hairs were reached. I then concentrated on the tits and nipples. By the look on Angelique’s face I got the impression that she was enjoying the sensation. At least there were no signs of anguish or pain.
After a while I traced a line down the centre of her body and then along the legs until I came upon the toes. First contact with the soles of the feet revealed Angelique’s weakness. She writhed at the touch and her face became distorted. There was also the hint of a little French giggle in there somewhere. “Is this the spot?” I asked and giving her some more grief with the duster.
This time she did giggle. “You’re tickling me!” she exclaimed.
True, I was; and now that I’d found the spot I was ready. They reckon tickling is a form of Chinese torture. Well I was about to test out that theory. I wanted a bit of information and I wasn’t going to let up until I got it. “I’m going to play a little game now,” I told her.
Angelique looked bemused, so I went on to explain. I took the four postcards from out of my inside pocket and showed her the one with the Master of Ceremonies at the front. “Downstairs you were telling me about this photograph,” I put to her, “you were saying you were this girl stood at the back. Now if you want to stop being tickled, then I want you to tell me about this gentleman at the front. You said that he’d left, that he no longer worked here. That’s fine, but I want you to tell me his name and where he went to from here. So think hard and try to remember, and perhaps this might help you think.”
And with that I started to concentrate on the soles of her feet. Angelique writhed and giggled as the pink feathers got to work. I wasn’t sure whether this ruse was going to work. It’s not exactly text book interrogation, but I was pursuing a line that suggested I was simply doing it for a bit of fun. I was considering the fall-out afterwards. If Angelique passed on details of what went on between us to someone in the trade, it might get into the wrong hands and people would start asking questions?
Anyway, I don’t think any of the intrigue was necessary, thirty seconds of intense tickling made her focus her mind. “Pierre,” she bleated, “his name was Pierre. But he left a long time ago.”
I smiled. Pierre was the name I was looking for. But I needed a little more information yet. “And his second name? You must remember that?” I urged with an added flurry of activity with the duster.
Angelique wriggled on the bed in an effort to avoid the feathers, but I persisted and had no intention of relinquishing now. “His second name?” I asked again.
“Err… errr…. Ren… Ren… Renard… I think,” she told me between goggles.
For a moment I stopped tickling and took stock. I’d suspected this all along, but somehow I just didn’t expect the answer. Pierre possibly, people tended to retain their Christian names. But why had he not changed his Surname and taken up some sort of alias? This puzzled me, especially now that he was part of the French Secret Service. I would have thought it was the first thing they would have done.
I took up the tickling once more. A little more intensely now. There was one more piece of information I thought might prove useful. Somewhere along the line Pierre must have moved on to join the Police Force, or the Army, or Special Branch, or something similar. It would have been a logical career move towards the position he now held. As far as I was concerned, that would clear him, and I could concentrate on what really took place on the night Fatima was kidnapped.
“Good,” I praised, then with an added flurry of activity with the duster, I asked: “Now where did he go to from here? Can you remember?”
Angelique writhed and giggled some more. I wasn’t certain that it was the sort of thing she would remember. Especially since the incident must have occurred some fifteen years beforehand. “I think… I think…,” she said, “I think he went to Spain… I think it was Barcelona.”
I stopped tickling and stood rigid. This revelation I certainly was not expecting and I was shocked. But then on further reflection, perhaps it did make some sense after all. But I wasn’t thinking about that possible career move anymore, I was thinking more in the lines of a chain of safe houses that spread from the North African coast right up to Dundee in Scotland.
After that I tickled some more, but my heart wasn’t in it, and I didn’t get anymore useful information out of her.
Eventually I untied her and we sat on the bed together finishing off the bottle of champagne. I must admit I liked Angelique. I think I mentioned before, I saw reflections of Anthea in her. I think if I’d have been born French, then our paths were destined to meet anyway.
I left her with a big kiss and an extra two-hundred Euros for her troubles. Just call me a big softy if you like.
* * *
I walked back to my hotel wondering just what I’d achieved, and whether any of the information gathered was relevant. After seeing Pierre perform so well on stage, and comparing it with my own ham performance at Hugo’s, I’d always knew that he must have gained his vast experience from somewhere: And now I knew: That experience started right here, in a seedy Paris night club, some fifteen years beforehand. But what intrigued me more was the fact that he had forsaken Paris for Barcelona.
As I walked the City streets in search of my hotel, I kept asking myself, was it possible Pierre ended up at the ‘El Calabozo’ BDSM club in Barcelona? And, over the last fifteen years, could he have moved up through the ranks and gone on to much bigger things? Things like running and organising a very elaborate Submissive Trade operation? It was a possibility, but like everything else in this case, I had no proof. To add to my problems, Pierre was the one person in this entire affair with the perfect alibi, which made it all the more complicated to unravel. Somehow that missing fifteen minutes on the night of Fatima’s abduction kept coming back to haunt me.
When I eventually found my hotel, I spent most of the night staring up at the ceiling and trying to piece together all the little bits of information I’d gathered thus far.
In the end I concluded that I was no nearer solving the mystery than I was before. The answer still lay in those unaccounted for fifteen minutes. Solve that riddle and I would have the answer.
* * *
End of Chapter Ten