Chapter 9

The door opened and a tall blond young man of about Dan's own age bounded in. 'Hi, I'm Phil,' he said.  'So glad I caught you'. Dan extended his hand too, although he was aware that it night feel a bit clammy. 'This place is so calm and tranquil,' he went on. 'I love it here. Too much hustle and bustle out there in the real world, don't you find? I'm Lydie's brother by the way. Great to meet you'. Dan was surprised. 'Lydie's brother? But you sound English'. 'Just come back from a year over there.  Prep school in Sussex,' he explained. 'I'm really Philippe. I'm afraid Lydie's got the idea that Didier's holding Ollie somewhere as a sort of prisoner'. 'I hope not,' replied Dan. It was a pretty unpleasant thought. He took out the phone number. 'I'll ring it,' promised Phil. 'We mustn't be seen too much together. Didier has a very suspicious nature'. Dan nodded. 'Only a few people know about this place.' He indicated the computer. 'It's an IBM P.C. Quite a sophisticated machine. Ollie spent hours on it. All night sometimes. Drove Lydie mad. He can somehow hook up with the main computer at the Town Hall - and some other places. He told me about it once. It'll all be on there. He hid it in the hut in case Didier's people broke into the house and found it. Also, Ollie left a notebook in the house. It's in his room taped to the back of a drawer in his wardrobe. That's what he said anyway.'

Dan cycled back, picking up some grated carrot, bread and cold meat on his way. Kazzie disliked being expected to do everything. He remembered that. As they ate he asked Kazzie about the notebook but she hadn't heard of it. He found it exactly where Phil had said it would be. He opened it. It looked like a sort of diary. It gave the times - often 6 pm to 7 am when he was on the computer. It was quite strange to see Ollie's handwriting. It wasn't particularly characteristic but it was clear enough. He started to read it but it made very little sense apart from the dates and times. He'd got partway through it when the phone rang downstairs. 'Just Philippe,' Kazzie said. 'He's rung the number you gave him and the guy will see you at 3 o'clock tomorrow. The address is on here,' she handed him a scrap of paper. 'He's Canadian,' she added. Dan felt relieved about that. At least he'd understand him, although he might not like what he said. 'Do you know who he is?' he asked Kazzie. 'No. I think Ollie began to feel the less I knew the better'. Dan replaced the notebook and went back downstairs. 'I'm outside,' shouted Kazzie. He went out. There was a full moon and the garden was bathed in light. She sat at a metal table. She poured him a cup of coffee and he went out and joined her. Neither of them felt the need to talk.

He rode off the next afternoon. Kazzie had known vaguely where to head for. Dan could see how isolated it was as he sped past the cornfields in the sunshine. The cottage was at the top of a slight incline. As he rode up the hill, leaving the river behind him Dan could see that there was a well just outside the house. It certainly was a very old building. He knocked on the door and a man appeared. He was well-built, if not fat, and he had straight reddish hair. He must have been around forty.

'I'm Jim Wilson,' he said. It seemed a little unusual that he added his surname. Inside was quite basic. A smallish woman in a check shirt was sitting at a deal table. 'This is my wife Celia,' said Jim. The room was extremely bare. The couple were either very poor or they enjoyed the simple life. Dan had no real idea what he was there for, but this was soon cleared up. 'Let's pool information,' Jim was saying. 'Lydie says you're looking for Ollie. Well so am I. One minute he met with me all the time and the next minute he was gone'. 'Well all I've got is this really', said Dan and he passed the notebook over to Jim who opened it excitedly. 'I don't understand much of it,' Dan admitted, 'but there's a bit here on the last day that makes sense to an extent. "See Michel - Orleans". Not really specific'. 'Oh Michel Laurent. He's a private detective. I've got his address here. Ollie must have taken my advice and gone to see him - or arranged to at least.

So now Dan had something to go on. And more to the point an excuse to see Lydie. they met up by the river, just outside the town. 'Best to be cautious,' she had said. She arrived carrying a Thermos. It seemed so English. 'It's not for tea', she told him. 'We can have a "grog"'. "Grog" turned out to be rum with sugar and hot water. She had also brought a rug to sit on. The sky was a little overcast and the only light was from the nearby houses. The river showed the reflection. 'I don't think we can, you know, again,' she said quietly. 'I have to be fair to Ollie. I'm disappointed too'. Not half as much as I am, thought Dan as he took a stone and threw it into the water. 'Friends is something isn't it?' she said. He turned to look at her. She was smiling and her fair hair caught the light in places. Yes, friendship was something, he thought.

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Chapter 10 will be published on January 11th 2019.

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