He drove to his hotel and during the journey, Rivera was quiet, contemplating the awfulness of her predicament. Only one person could save her and he said very little as they went through the night-time streets. He was constantly looking out for potential threats and making sure they were not being followed. They got to the hotel and Edge parked as near as possible to the main entrance.
“I’ll wait in the car for you to get your stuff.” She said quietly.
“No, you bloody well won’t! You’re going to come up to my room and we’ll find another hotel to put together evidence about what Charles Medwin and you have been up to. It’s going to be a long night. I’m not letting you out of my sight, because we don’t want you doing a runner, do we?”
At the reception desk he spoke to the duty manager, “I’d like a valise out of the safe, please and some sandwiches and bottled water sent up to my room.”
The manager looked at Clarita who was skulking behind Edge, “Very good, sir. Will the lady be joining you?”
Edge smiled, “But of course, as we have found each other.”
As they waited for to the lift, she said: “You bastard, Edge. Now he thinks I’m just a common slut.”
Inside the empty lift, Edge asked: “Did you keep all your correspondence with Medwin?”
“Only the e-mails. A lot of it was done face-to-face or over the phone.”
“Did you keep a call and meeting logs?”
“When I remembered, but mostly, yes.”
“When did this “relationship” start?”
“When Ryan went on sick leave. He said he would help me where he could. After all,” he said, “We’re on the same side.”
“Nobody is on his side, Clarita. He just cynically uses people. He tried to pressure me into providing information about what the military was up to. I guess he wanted to hear it from two sources.”
Rivera looked down at the lift floor. She felt hollow and used, almost like a rape victim
“He is a bastard,” she said quietly. To her surprise, she felt him reach for her hand.
“Dry your eyes, princess. We’ll sort it.”
They got out of the lift and Edge checked both corridors were clear and they went to his room.
“Wait outside while I check it.”
He scanned the room, which was clear and beckoned her in, “Right, we’re going to have the sandwiches when they come and then move hotels. I would feel safer somewhere else.”
“I’m not hungry,” she wasn’t prepared to declare a cease fire just yet.
“Neither am I. I have just killed three men and I don’t enjoy it. However, they were trying to kill us, which I take exception to. You are going to eat something, Clarita, and I don’t care if you don’t enjoy it.”
They were sitting on the bed, waiting for the food to come up. Edge pulled his Heckler & Koch assault rifle out of the valise made ready and laid it across his lap.
“Where are we going to go?”
“To a cheap hotel on the outskirts of the city. Do you have your Sig ready?”
“I only have a thigh holster, which is a bit obvious.”
He pulled up her jacket and saw that she was wearing a belt on her jeans, “Put your holster on the belt at the back, with the Sig. Your jacket should cover it.”
“Ok, cock it and make sure the safety lever is locking the slide.”
There was a gentle knock on the door and Edge clicked off the H&K’s safety catch to full, automatic fire, “You answer it. I’ll cover you.”
“Yes you. Have your Sig ready. Who is it?” he called.
“You ordered sandwiches.”
Edge nodded to her, “OK, go and answer it.”
He covered the assault rifle with a blanket. The night porter was carrying a tray and he looked at her red, bruised face, then at Edge. Gringo bastardo, lastimar a una chica tan bonita como esa.
“Thank you,” she said and took the tray. He hesitated then closed the door, “I think he was expecting a tip.”
“I’ll give him a tip. Don’t get mixed up with spooks.”
She looked down and put the tray on the bed. Obviously, he didn’t want to declare a cease fire either. They ate the sandwiches rather mechanically, not really tasting them, but they were necessarily filling. Edge realised that he had eaten nothing for over forty-eight hours. They finished and lay next to each other quietly to let the food go down.
Edge looked at his watch, “Right, let’s go hotel hunting. Somewhere modest and unassuming and most of all, anonymous.”
“I need to go to the john,” she told him.
“Crack on. There’s no windows.
“Give it a rest, Edge! I know I’ve done bad things, but you keep harping on doesn’t help.”
Down in the foyer he asked for the manager and to pay the bill.
“Did you enjoy your stay, sir?”
“Very pleasant thank you, however we need to go north and into Panama. You see, the lady is married to an extremely violent man and I have formed, should we say, an “attachment” with her.”
“I understand, sir.”
“If any “gentlemen” should call, I would be grateful if you could let them know we have driven down to Pasto. I don’t want the lady to suffer further violence, you, see?”
“Perfectly, sir.” He said looking at Rivera’s bruised face, “May I wish both of you good luck.”
After the government credit card had taken a battering he led her paternally out to her car, while she carried their daysack and he had the bergen and weapon valise, “What did you say to him? He kept looking at me.”
“That I was a knight is shining armour, coming to rescue you.”
“That is a bastard’s trick, Edge.”
“But not far from the truth,” he said as he checked the car.
They drove north-east into the countryside. There was a sign off the main road to a hotel so they took it. The hotel was quite modern but lacking in frills, probably a three-star business and they checked in with the night porter. Their room was on the top floor, clean but basic. She put her bag in the corner and the laptop on a table, switched it on and set everything up, including the dongle.
“Right, Clarita. I want you to put everything in a folder on the desktop. If you haven’t used a naming convention on the documents, rename them with date, month and year plus specific subject, so that they run in order. Once you’ve done that, I want you to tell me how you met Medwin, what was said and whatever you passed on to him. I’ll make some notes, then you can write it in your own words.”
And so, she did and it took over an hour. While she organised the files, he made a call to the British Airways desk at Bogota and booked a flight on the aircraft he was travelling on, for her to get off at Madrid. Then he did some research which he hated on his phone’s small screen. She told him she had finished with the files.
“Good. Do you want a drink of water for the recital?”
“I’m going to lock you in for your own safety. It’s not because I don’t trust you.”
She looked at him sceptically, but he returned with two bottles of water and a menu, “Breakfast will be cheap and cheerful. I hope you like bacon and steak and chips.
“If it’s with you.”
He smiled for the first time that day and got a notebook and pen, “Don’t leave anything out. If I need clarification, I’ll stop you and ask you to repeat it.”
She drank some water and started to speak. What she told him was a story as old as time itself. She knew him because she had met him before her boss went off sick. She tried to play Medwin and at first, he gave her information. But he was clever and more ruthless and he used her. She had craved the excitement and kudos of being a field operative and she realised with bitterness, that she had been gullible and naïve.
Edge was disgusted that one so junior and relative lacking in experience, was put in a position so exposed. His anger dissipated and he begun to feel pity, protectiveness and love for this woman. He realised he always had, from playful joshing when they first men, to his opening up and the time spent at the lake. She talked for a long time, some of it about Edge.
“He absolutely hates you,” she told him, “He said you were nothing more than a violent thug, and an insolent, jumped-up nobody. He told me you were too stupid to understand what was going on. I know that you’re a very intelligent and clever man, Mark Edge and I often wondered what you said to upset him.”
“Very little. I think I made it a little too obvious that I didn’t like him.”
“He asked me to find out everything I knew when we had dinner together. I did enjoy being with you, but he always wanted to know what we discussed. I swear to you, I never told him about our trip to the lake. That was our time together, private and special.”
“What about Ecuador? What was his involvement?”
“He provided a lead on Camilo Hernández. He told me there would be a meeting with the heads of the cartels at his ranch, the date and the time. I didn’t know it was a set-up, there was no meeting, or that the Ecuadorian army would be waiting for you. He wanted the American Special Forces out of the way and Hernández unhurt and able to carry on producing and distributing narcotics. He reasoned that the Green Berets would be returned to the States, after the mess in Ecuador and that suited him very well.”
“Why?” Edge asked writing furiously.
“Because Medwin was taking a cut from the narcotics trafficking, in exchange for keeping our troops away from the real action. Like the British security contractors. He set them up, so you would waste time the wrong side of the Andes. It was Medwin who pressed for the enquiry and he tried to put the blame on you. He paid the FARC to commit atrocities in that village. He fed me information, which I passed on to Major Martinez and Langley.”
“How do you know this?”
“He told me last night at the nightclub and that I’d better be careful who I spoke to. I had no idea he was going to try to kill me tonight, or was it last night? You saved my life, Mark.”
“And mine.” He said, looking at her in astonishment, “Do you have any proof of this?”
“No. Only what was said. He used to check I wasn’t wearing a wire with some electronic device. It was MI6 issue he said. I’m so sorry, Mark. He is a horrible man. He told me that he had enough on me and that he would let my Station head know everything, unless I had sex with him.”
“No! I said that if he tried it, I would tell you and that we were… You know.”
“He was bluffing,” Edge said, continuing to write, “My God, Clarita, this is a bloody sorry tale of spooks fighting like cats in a sack. I have done some awful things in my time, but nothing compares to your shenanigans.”
“Do you think I don’t know? People are dead because of me.”
He looked at the tears running down her face and brushed her hair out of her eyes. “That must have taken a lot of courage to tell me that. What’s done is done. Now we need to put this down in a document, you can use bullet points from my notes and add it to the folder. Then we’ll have a shower, relax and get ready for some breakfast.
“We’re both on the British Airways flight this evening. It’s a long flight that stops off at Madrid. You’ll get off the aircraft there and get on a train to Paris. Even the high-speed train takes around fifteen hours, so you’ll be able to get more sleep. When you get to Paris, ask a cab to take you here:”
He ripped off a sheet and gave it to her. It told her where to claim asylum.
SPADA reception center. In order to apply for asylum in France, you must first of all report to a first reception center (Spada or Pada). You must not go directly to the prefecture or to the Ofpra (French office for the protection of refugees and stateless persons).
If you are in the Paris region or Ile-de-France, you can find your PADA here:
You will need to book an initial appointment by calling a special call centre run by the French Office for Immigration and Integration. It is open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at 0800 144 414.
Some of the documents needed are as shown below:
1) Information required to prove civil status;
2) Documents confirming legal entry into French territory, including a legal entry visa;
3) A record of the route taken from the country of origin to France.
4) If it exists, the current dwelling address of the applicant in France.
“You were busy, Mark. But it means I’ll never see you again.”
“They’ll bite your hand off, you being a CIA spook, but for God’s sake stay away from the US Embassy. When you’re settled, phone me. You’ve got my number and I’ll come and see you. One day the CIA will forgive you when they investigate Medwin’s dirty dealings,” he told her. “Go for a shower and then I’ll have one. It’s 04:00 so we’ll grab some sleep, before and after breakfast. Have your Sig ready.”
She went in and had a shower and came out with a towel wrapped round her. He went in and had his shower, shaved and put on clean jockey shorts. When he went into the room, she was lying in bed with the quilt pulled up to her neck.
“Mark, do you still hate me?
“I don’t hate you. I was angry, but I’ve never hated you.”
“I want you to show me that you don’t hate me,” She pulled off the quilt and he stared in shock. She was totally naked.
“Mark, will you please make love to me. I’ve wanted you almost from the beginning when we met in the hotel. I knew you were a good man, even then. Please, Mark. It will prove to me that you don’t hate me.”
He covered her back up with the quilt and kissed her, “Clarita, as appealing as the thought of lovemaking with you is, I can’t.”
Her face darkened, “You do hate and despise me! You think I’m ugly, some geeky little kid. Some lousy wetback. That I repulse you!”
He smiled and his eyes glimmered, “I told you that you are beautiful, several times. I wasn’t lying. You are beautiful and I feel a deep love for you. But I can’t have sex with you.”
“Why? Are you gay? I don’t mind, honestly.”
Edge laughed, “No, I’m not gay. I told you, I’m married.”
“So what? Lots of people are married and have sex with other people all the time.”
“Some people may. But I don’t. I made vows before God, to have and to hold my wife from that day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God’s holy law. Vows made before God are sacred and not something that you can dip in and out of.
“Marriage, as designed by God, is a faithful, exclusive, lifelong union of a man and a woman joined intimately for a life and love. They commit themselves completely to each other and to the wondrous responsibility of bringing children into the world and caring for them. Man and woman are equal; they are also different. It is this difference that defines toward their compatibility. Man and woman, in their sexual difference, are made for each other. This compatibility draws them together in a mutually loving union that should always be open to having children.
“It is also a check and balance against the State, meaning that individuals hold allegiance to the family and not the State. Why do you think that slimy bastard David Cameron passed a law on same sex marriages? It was to destroy traditional marriage and allow the State to dilute and make inroads into an institution that has nurtured us for thousands of years.”
She was surprised at his depth of feeling, “But you are a State servant and kill at its bidding.”
“I may be a soldier, but that doesn’t prevent me from being loving, kind, questioning and able to feel empathy with my fellow humans. Even my enemies have their beliefs and may be fathers, but at the end of the day, It’s them or me. I know I don’t accept God into my life in a churchy, religious way, but the basis of faith is a good template for life. I rather like the Knights Templars’ attitude to life and faith, Non nobis, Domine, non nobis, sed Nomini tuo da gloriam. Not for us, My Lord, not for us, but to your Name give the glory.”
Each with dedicated sword to the glory of the Lord.
Guarding still the faith they hold as was done in days of old.
“Have you never felt like breaking your marriage vows?”
“Once, recently. When we were on that water ski float, you were so overwhelmingly lovely with the water dripping off your body and breasts, that I wanted you there and then.”
“Unfortunately, you couldn’t have done,” she suddenly felt very shy and embarrassed, “I had my…”
“I thought so, you know,” Edge said with a smile, “Your voice had changed subtly.”
“Yes. It had lost some of its sexiness, was slightly lower in mood, quality and pitch. It’s as old as humankind. An audio signal that the female is unable to mate.”
“Jeez, Mark. Is there anything you don’t know about womens’ bodies?”
“I’ve only ever had two serious relationships, but they have given me the opportunity to find out a lot, and it’s a wonderful journey finding out more. Every young man should have an older lover. I wanted to explore every inch of you.”
“But you didn’t,” she observed wistfully.
“No. I felt like I was taking advantage of you and seeing that black widow spider had a great deal of symbolism for me. I both regret and I am glad that we didn’t.”
“You are a strange, complex man and I love you more than you could ever know. Did you know that you frightened me when we first met? You seemed so controlled, so ruthless and cold, but I could see something else in you. I didn’t know what was inside you then, anger? Kindness? Sadness?” She pulled down the quilt, “Please get in next to me and keep me warm. I promise I won’t jump you.”
He slid under the quilt and felt the wonderful warmth of her body. She put her arm round him and cuddled him tightly. He closed his eyes and concentrated at not getting an erection. She smelled wonderful, fresh, her hair perfumed like sandalwood.
“Mark, do you mind if I ask you what you meant by suicide by FARC?”
He went up on his elbow and looked at her bruised face that was still beautiful, “You know that I’d had enough of the constant operations and killing? As well as my pension, I have made good investments courtesy of a dear friend. I knew my wife and family would be looked after financially and I reasoned they would be better off without me.”
“Oh God, Mark. Why did you decide not to deliberately get yourself killed, which would have been a fucking stupid idea!”
“Two reasons. One, the American troops were kind to me and accepted me as one of their own. Two, I met a gorgeous young woman from Puerto Rico, who made me laugh, get angry and who I grew to love because she gave my life a sense of purpose. Thank you.”
He kissed her and she nestled up to him. They went to sleep, entwined like the lovers they weren’t, but so desperately wanted to be. Before slumber he brushed her hair gently out of her face and they fell asleep, enjoying the warmth and proximity of their bodies, like kittens and he felt her heartbeat The alarm on his mobile phone went off at 07:30 and he stared at her for a few long, never-forgotten moments, before gently shaking her awake.
“Que le den al desayuno. Has roto el hechizo.” She said sleepily.
“Come on, shake that pretty arse. It’s a long flight and I’d rather resort to cannibalism than eat an in-flight meal.”
She lay face down on the bed and looked at him, “Mark, whatever happens I want you to know that I love you.”
He smiled and smacked her arse playfully, “Come on, food now and we can go back to bed.”
They had the meal downstairs, which was filling without being inspiring. Back in the room, because it seemed perfectly natural, they undressed and went back to bed and slept again. They awoke at half-past one and lay chatting, where she asked him about his tours in Northern Ireland. She was astonished at the risks he had taken working undercover in the Republican areas of Belfast and Londonderry. He told her what the IRA had done to a member of 14 Int who they captured, betrayed by MI6 to protect one of their double agents.
“But we got them. Every last one of the bastards. At least his family had a body to bury. That’s why I’ve always hated spooks and Medwin just reinforced my opinion of them.”
“What’s the plan?” she asked after they got dressed.
“We go back into the city and post your memory stick to the US Embassy, for the attention of the head of security. I’ll put my weapons in a left luggage locker at the main railway station. Then we go to the airport. He won’t get it until Monday, by which time we’ll be in Europe.”
He looked carefully round the room once they had packed to check they had left nothing, “I’ll pay the bill and then we’ll head back to Central Bogota to post the flash and drop off my weapons at the railway station. We’ll keep your Sig and the Mossberg in the car when we leave it at the airport.”
Outside he once again checked the car while she waited, keeping watch. He spent a long time under the vehicle and was finally satisfied.
“OK, let’s go.”
She loaded their kit and her laptop into the 4×4 and they drove back towards the main road. He could see the main road was busy and slowed down for the traffic, leaning forward to pick the map up from the floor.
The first rounds showered him with shattered glass and he accelerated to get onto the main road. Rivera ducked down and he could hear her chanting: “Oh, God, oh, God, oh, God.”
A van moved across in front of them to block the road and more high velocity rounds went through the windscreen and the side windows, “STAY DOWN!” Edge yelled and he appraised the situation in microseconds.
It was a neat ambush. Two to his left in the drainage ditch and probably four to his right, including the driver of the van. He saw one man with a M4 carbine aiming at the vehicle, accelerated. The 4X4 went into the ditch and the man with the carbine was crushed against the front of the vehicle and a tree. A second man on the same side, moved down the ditch and Edge rolled out of the driver’s door and killed him with three rounds. Their side of the road was clear, but rounds were still coming in from the other side. He grabbed the valise and hauled Rivera out, across the seats and out of the driver’s door. Then went in the back, lifted the back seat and grabbed the Mossberg.
“Use the car as cover, stay down low and lay down supporting fire! For fucks sake, don’t shoot me!”
He pulled out his H&K Assault rifle, loaded and cocked it, shoving two spare magazines in his pockets. They were both in the ditch and the rounds were coming in fast now. There was glass and fuel across the road and the stench of gunfire residue.
“Ready? It’s big balls time, Clarita.”
She fired at movement in the opposite ditch and re-cocked the shotgun awkwardly.
“Yes,” she shouted and fired again.
Edge was on his feet and ran zig-zagging across the road, his rifle held high in the firing position. Despite their predicament, Rivera couldn’t help but notice that he moved with a fluid grace, crouched, firing as he ran, empty cases clinking on the road. She watched him make it to the opposite drain and move into cover. She fired again and the solid deer shot shredded the vegetation and one of the men firing at her. She was like an automaton, reload, fire, reload, because she knew they were fighting for their lives.
Edge was in the ditch at the other side of the road, using the trees as cover. He began to roll-up the cover they were using and he fired a burst at the first man, Please don’t shoot me, Clarita. The 15mm lead balls from the Mossberg were heavy gauge against the men, who were not wearing body armour. Neither for that matter was Edge.
There was a pause in the shotgun’s firing, probably because Rivera was re-loading. Their would-be killers were being taken on both flanks, but while the shotgun pinned them, Edge was killing them, Come on, Clarita. Get the bloody thing up and running again! The next nearest man saw him too late and Edge cut him down with a short burst, got into cover and changed his magazine. The man Rivera had shot had been blinded in one eye, blood running down his face. Edge finished him.
He spotted one of the men, the last one, sprint across the road round behind their 4×4. Rivera Was fumbling the re-load and had dropped two cartridges and tried to put one in the magazine the wrong was round. She had to get this right for him. Someone jumped down into the ditch and she spun round to face him. They both fired at the same time, hers going low to take him in the legs. Three rounds of 5.56mm hit her below the rib cage, blowing her off her feet and she stared up at the trees and sky. “Oh, dear, God, this hurts so much!”
Bellowing with anger and pain, his trousers shredded and bloodied, he moved up to administer the coup de grâce.
He looked down at her and she tried to reach behind her back for the Sig.
He kicked her in the side and she screamed with agony, “Adiós, maldita perra.”
“Fuck you!” she screamed at him and the top half of his head disappeared in a greyish red mist, like a bad Jackson Pollock painting. A second round hit him in the mandible, blowing it off with shards of bone and teeth. The body remained on its feet and then fell on top of her, causing more anguish.
She opened her eyes as Edge dragged off the body. He knelt beside her, holding her as she cried in hopelessness.
“He got me, Mark. It hurts so much. He has killed me.”
“Don’t give up, Clarita!” He ripped open her shirt and stared at the three entrance wounds, one below and to the left of her sternum, the other to the right and one extreme right. He knew her pancreas was gone, her stomach and liver punctured and her gastric acid was almost certainly leaking into the thoracic cavity, burning the tissues and membranes. He tore off his shirt sleeve and applied gentle pressure to the wounds, but it was too painful for her. She grabbed his hand and moved it away.
“Please stop, Mark. Too much pain. Just hold and talk to me while I die.”
“Please Clarita, don’t…”
“I love you so much. You gave me hope… I guess I’ll never get married or have those babies, but it’s what I deserve. I hope they will forgive me, all the men I killed when I see them again.”
“Don’t talk like that, Clarita.” he said, lifting her up onto his thighs. He nuzzled her, knowing the pain she was going through. She wouldn’t have to bear it for long.
“Talk to me about the lake and the haiku…”
Edge looked at her serene face and could tell she was going on the final journey.
“The lake was perfect and so were you.”
The forest is Jade,
The lake gleams like cut diamonds,
Your hair smooth like Jet.
She coughed up blood and with the last of her life she said very quietly: “Life is a story. You can choose your story and I chose you. I so wanted to make love with…”
And the light went out of her eyes. He closed them and bent down next to her ear, nuzzling her hair, making it wet.
“A story with God is a better story. Goodbye, Clarita my love…”
In the weak afternoon sun, a man and a dead woman lay in a ditch outside Bogota. Edge kissed her dead lips, stood up and went to search the bodies.
© Blown Periphery 2022