Edge of Apocalypse: pages 69-72 (Chapter Fourteen)
The unfortunate Yergi Banica meets Atta Zimler. It does not go well.
“At 9:35 a.m. there was a knock at the door of room 417. Zimler opened it to reveal the slightly rotund, bespectacled Romanian with the small satchel under his arm.
‘I am Yergi. You are…the Algerian?’
Zimler nodded and ushered him in. Pointing to a coffee table in the living room area, he persuaded the currier to set his package down.
The professor was clearly nervous. His eyes scanned the room, then his host.
‘Funny, y-you don’t really look Algerian…,’ he stammered.”
After a bit more of the preliminaries, they transact business, discussing the package:
“‘ […] The Russian agent whom I obtained it from vouched for its authenticity. I have quite a bit of information here for you, including the basic research and development agreement between Mr. Jordan and the Pentagon in reference to his work on the Return-to-Sender technology. Of course, no one has the actual schematics for the system…but this should provide you with an excellent starting point…’ Yergi was hoping this would all be over soon. ‘So, in regards to my payment–‘”
You can practically hear the dun-dun-DUN with this next part. 🙂
“‘Did you bring your passport, as I requested?’ Zimler responded.
Despite the cool morning Bucharest breeze flowing into the room, the Romanian was nevertheless starting to feel the first signs of sweat beading on his forehead.
‘I need to verify you are who you say you are,’ Zimler continued.”
Suuuuuuure, Zimler. The foreshadowing is getting so thick you could cut it with a knife. At this point he’s basically toying with Banica.
“‘You haven’t been to America then?’
The already uncomfortable professor now added confusion to his growing list of anxieties.
‘I was hoping you could tell me a little something about any experiences you might have had there. I plan on going there myself someday.’ Zimler smiled, handed the passport back, and turned toward the balcony.”
At least for Canadians, I know Customs officials don’t always bother stamping passports because too many of us go over the US border on any given day. It’s just barely possible Banica didn’t need a visa to enter and the Customs official didn’t bother stamping his passport, but the basic point is that the info in his passport would have told Zimler without an inquiry, because it’s highly unlikely a non-North American from the former Eastern Bloc would have been able to get such trouble-free access into the US.
Aside: Banica’s a sleazebag in other areas, too. He’s not above trading favors with students, apparently:
“Yergi, of course, was already familiar with the view. In fact, he had taken Elena to the restaurant located on the same floor of this very hotel on their first date. He’d wanted to impress her, and it had obviously done the trick. What she didn’t know was that Yergi had a student who worked at the restaurant who had offered up a free meal in exchange for a passing grade.”
Considering a free meal at an expensive restaurant could run, let’s say, 50 Euros, that’s a pretty cheap price to pay for a guaranteed grade. That being said this implies he probably did other unsavory transactions with students in exchange for passing grades. Wonder what Elena would have thought of that.
But, that being said, even penny-ante sleazebags, falling for the oldest trick in the book, don’t deserve to get murdered:
“Then Zimler added something unexpected: ‘Oh, look over there, is that your car…being towed?’
Yergi scurried toward the open doors and glanced in the direction of the street on the north side of the square.”
*rolls eyes* C’mon, don’t fall for this…!
Alas, it’s too late. Zimler, behind Banica, offs him. I’ll spare the details of that but it’s sufficient to say, R.I.P. Yergi Banica, minor sleazebag with delusions of grandeur.
Taking things back up in the aftermath, we see that Zimler’s obviously done this sort of thing before.
“The assassin calmly rose to his feet, brushed off his wrinkled linen pants, straightened his silk shirt, wound the cord in a loop, and placed it back in his pocket. He then plucked the passport from the Romanian’s hand and grabbed the satchel from the table.
Again, making sure the hallways were clear, Zimler hooked the Do Not Disturb sign around the doorknob before closing the door firmly behind him with his latex-protected hand.”
And with that, he’s off to draw a bead on Mr. Joshua Jordan.
“Quickly returning to his own room, Zimler stripped off his shirt, pants, and shoes and shoved them into a plastic bag, which he then stuffed into his Louis Vuitton suitcase. He dressed in another set of clothes and headed downstairs to the lobby to check out.
‘Pleasant visit?’ the hotel clerk inquired in a thick Romanian accent.
‘Very,’ Zimler responded, smiling broadly.
The assassin calmly walked out of the hotel and down the street. In an alley three blocks away, behind the Calea Grivitei, he slipped the plastic bag from his suitcase and placed it in a trash dumpster just as a garbage truck turned onto the street for its weekly pickup.”
After, of course, disposing of the evidence of his crime. We’ll find out later that leaving a dead body with obvious signs of strangulation is still a bad idea, even if one has worn latex gloves and been reasonably careful to avoid leaving hair or skin cells at the scene of the crime.
Chapter fifteen brings us to the White House.