Chapter 7

'Don't move or I'll shoot'. The young woman plainly meant business. 'It's no good looking for him here. He's gone and I don't know where he is'. She spoke with a Devon accent. Even in his terrified state Dan could recognize that. It seemed very strange. Magda had moved to Cambridge years before. He looked up very cautiously. Her hair was raven black and she stared at him fixedly from behind a thick fringe. There was something familiar about her eyes. He wasn't sure, but it was worth a try. 'Kazzie?' he wondered out loud. His voice was shaky. 'A lot of people know my name around here. Don't pretend you know me,' she shouted back. Her usually deep voice had become a little shrill. 'It's me, Dan,' he shouted. 'Don't shoot.' 'Dan. I don't know any Dan and I don't know you'. 'I'm Ollie's friend from Devon.' She gazed at him and dropped the gun. She was evidently very shocked. She fell back on the sofa. 'What the hell are you doing here?' 'I'm looking for Ollie. Magda sent me. But I could ask you the same question'. 'I look after the place for Magda sometimes'. 'Nice of her to tell us about each other,' said Dan. Kazzie rolled her eyes in resignation.

'How are you?' She asked. Dan thought it was a little out of place to ask that. 'Well I'm a lot better since you dropped that gun'. 'All right, I'm sorry! I'll put it away'. 'What happened to the scarlet hair?' Dan asked. 'Oh, we all need a change. I can see it's you now.'

'Why were you pointing a gun at me?' Dan asked. It was the obvious question after all. 'Someone called Didier is after Ollie. I thought he'd sent you to teach him a lesson'. 'Didier? I've been warned about him. Is he some sort of gang leader?' 'No, he's the mayor,' Kazzie answered. Dan was taken aback. 'Ollie's been asking too many questions and we think Didier warned him off. That's why he's gone missing.' 'I've got an idea where he might be,' said Dan. 'Do you know Penny?' 'A bit'. Kazzie nodded. 'She says he has a sort of hut in the woods. Maybe he's hiding in there. Do you know where it is?' 'No but I think Lydie might be able to find it.' 'Oh Lydie, I met her'. Dan decided not to go into detail just yet. She said she'd see me down here but didn't say where'. 'Oh, she works in the hardware store on the main road. You'll find her in there. It's her Dad's shop. They'd separated before Ollie disappeared,' she went on. Well that was something anyway, thought Dan. Perhaps he should front it out now. Get it over with. 'Actually we ended up in bed together the other night'. Dan made it sound as casual as he possibly could. 'Oh no!' Kazzie really didn't like the sound of that. But Dan wondered if it mattered now that they weren't together any more. All the integrity he had ever had deserted him in one fell swoop.

Meanwhile Kazzie had moved on. 'The thing is, Didier is very jealous of his reputation. The town's divided, Most of the older people look up to him, whereas the younger people aren't so sure. He cares massively about his good name and he'll do anything to protect it'. 'What's he covering up?' Dan asked. 'Only blackmail, bribery, extortion - things like that. He has a business selling building materials. He does a lot of work for the council. He came up from South West France and made a fortune very quickly. That looked a bit suspicious'. She paused, giving Dan time to take it all in. 'The trouble is it's very hard to get proof of crimes like that'.

'Talking of crimes where did you get the gun?' asked Dan. 'My brothers,' she answered. 'What about customs?' 'Oh, they know someone in Paris'. Well they would wouldn't they. He thought it better not to ask if it was loaded or if she could fire it. he probably wouldn't like the answer.

He suddenly remembered the South African, Van Eeden and asked if Kazzie knew him. 'The French prof? Yes everyone does. He's got a house down here. That's how Magda knows him. He comes in handy as an interpreter if you've got a problem'. 'I think he may be mixed up in it,' Dan said. 'I think he's following me to make sure I don't get to Ollie'. 'People don't like him in general to be honest. Apart from that I don't know much about him'.

By now they had opened a bottle of local wine and were half way through it. Dan glanced round. It was a squarish room with rather a low ceiling. Not much character in itself but there were carefully placed lamps and silk cushions and a cherry red rug lay in front of the fireplace. The walls were painted white. It all showed Magda's taste. the scene seemed almost cheery. But soon Kazzie brought him back down to earth. 'It's a small town,' she was saying. 'You know how people gossip. Anyway someone said Didier murdered a guy in South West France. That's why he moved to Aire'. Well this just gets better, thought Dan. Better and better. And he took a small sip of wine before jumping up to go round the house checking all the windows, closing all the shutters and bolting all the doors. Cheers Magda, he thought.

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