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STOPPING WORLD WAR THREE
If it wasn’t for Primar I would never have been involved at all. The odd fact was that I hardly knew the man. He was a casual acquaintance who had cross my path on a foreign holiday… nothing more. Nonetheless, Primar was the kind of man to cash in on a friendship… however slender the meeting might have been. I had regarded him as a pleasant individual, generous to a fault, who always insisted on buying the drinks as well as paying for excellent meals. He asked for nothing in return but I had to admit that I didn’t care too much for the fellow. He was relatively short, with black hair and large dark brown eyes which always seemed to look right through you like laser beams penetrating your mind to determine all your thoughts. All that I could remember was that he told me absolutely nothing about himself except that he was in business on his own account. Most of all, however, I dislike him mostly because of his arrogance but on vacation one tends to ignore most virtues and vices especially when contact entails little more than a few games of tennis, some drinks at the bar, and a couple of meals in a high-class hotel. When he intruded on my life again, I was at a low point in relation to my future. He could hardly have improved on the timing of his reappearance.
I left the office at noon on that particular day to visit the old library at Whitechapel in the East End of London. The adjoining hall had become famous as an exhibition centre for lost souls in the world of modern art. I sat on a small bench seat to gaze at the portrait of a young woman standing in the doorway of her bedroom at night. She was so beautiful that as my eyes ran over her body with a strong sense of erotic interest I forgot all about the sandwiches I had brought with me . Suddenly, I heard someone whisper my name softly from the other side of the bench seat. I was about to turn but my action was halted by the imperative tone of his voice.
‘Don’t look round! Whatever you do, don’t look round! I need to talk to you urgently!’
‘Who are you?’ I whispered in return, my heart beating like a drum in my ears in the silence.
‘Primar! You remember me. The Costa del Sol last year!’
‘Primar!’ I repeated sharply, biting my tongue at the outburst. It was extremely difficult to comply with his command. I wanted to swivel round to take a good look at him, however caution held sway. I resisted the impulse and stared straight at the portrait.
‘I’ll be at your office in half-an-hour,’ he went on. ‘Be there! We have to talk about the 21st Century Crusaders. By the way, how’s your bridge coming along? Haven’t seen your name in the winning lists lately.’
There was a slight movement of air and I knew instinctively he had gone. Primar! From the Costa del Sol! He had tracked me down and had followed me into the art gallery. What was so clandestine about our meeting that he couldn’t be seen to meet me face to face? After some thirty seconds had elapsed I turned my head casually but, as I had suspected, no one was there. In that brief span of time he had moved from the seat to vanish from the hall. My mind raced swiftly trying to fathom the reason why he wanted to talk to me. The only thing I could imagine was that he was determined to trade upon our acquaintance and borrow some money in private. He had certainly spent it fast enough on holiday. It was then that I became angry with myself for telling him where I worked. Indeed, on reflection, I had told him far more about myself in that Spanish hotel than I cared to admit. Why had I been so gullible to reveal so much information to a perfect stranger? It had always been my opinion that holiday friendships abroad died a quick death the moment the aircraft took off on the runway of a foreign shore. Clearly it was entirely different with Primar! He knew exactly how I felt with my appointment at Dandy Advanced Electronics and the office claustrophobia I detested so much. Mu God, I had told him it was my earnest desire in the short term to write a letter of resignation to my employer before walking off into the sunset. He knew my main aim was to rid myself of the shackles and fetters which anchored me to the austere business world. Naturally, I had been spouting with holiday euphoria wanting to live like a lotus eater in the hot sunshine for the rest of my lifetime as most tourists desire. Now that I had time to think about it I must have been mad to say all that to a stranger.
After a while, I left the exhibition hall and made my way back through the unusually heavily-crowded streets. Once installed in my office on the twenty-third floor, I went to the window and stared down below. For most people it was a red-letter day and they were determined to make the most of it. The faint rhythmic sound of a large brass band wafted on the breeze of the City of
London as thousands of office workers, tourists and sightseers thronged the pavements. There was an air of excitement as they waited expectantly for the British monarchy to pass along the route. It was the majestic occasion of a royal wedding. One of the young princes, with a chance of succeeding to the throne, had found the princess of his dreams. Ultimately, a proclamation had been issued declaring that this day was to be set aside for the marriage. The crowd, however, had little concern about his potential to the throne. They were interested only in the colourful and happy event of the day., As such, they lingered in the warm sunshine hoping for a brief glimpse of the royal couple and their parents before the ceremony actually took place. Shortly, the cortege would speed by with the bride, the bridegroom and the eminent guests… all of them dressed in their elegant finery, transported by magnificent coaches, trimmed with red and gold paint, pulled by handsome well-groomed horses. And then, in the span of a few minutes, the procession would have passed and the grand spectacle would be over. Yet the crowd waited patiently just the same hardly able to contain their excitement. All the way through the main city streets large strips of multi-coloured bunting stretched and flapped in the warm breeze against the backcloth of a clear blue sky, while the sunlight glistened on the white flag-poles enhancing the glorious and auspicious occasion.
Eventually, one of the brass bands emerged from Poultry & Princes Street with the reflection of the sun flashing from the silver-coloured instruments, turning away from the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street to march steadily toward St. Paul’s Cathedral. The smart blue uniforms of the military musicians advanced in measured step with uncanny precision and in perfect harmony as the people lining the pavements watched amid an incessant babble of noise which was drowned by the tuneful efforts of the band. There had been many sad days in the City during the winter and early spring… at last fortune intended to reward it with a joyous event of national interest that readily touched the hearts of a sentimental public.
I surveyed the scene with indifference being neither a royalist nor a republican. Such indulgences failed to interest me. I did not wish to become involved with politics, religion or royalty. Furthermore, I considered that weddings were a bore. I stared at the multitude of people standing idly below with a complete lack of empathy. It seemed to me that there was no justification for a person to wait for an hour or so by the kerbside for the sake of a quick glimpse of royalty in the flesh. Any logically-minded person would watch the incident on television in the evening to obtain a full view of the proceedings in the comfort of their own home.
Fifteen minutes passed by before Penny Smith, my attractive secretary, summoned me on the intercom to tell me that Primar had arrived and was waiting to see me. She ushered him into my office and he sat facing me.
‘All rather clandestine.’ I ventured, giving him a wry smile without offering any greeting at all.
He crossed one leg over the other, clasping his hands together about them leading me to believe that he was under some tension. The body language really identified it.
‘I’ll come straight to the point,’ he began. A small edge of nervousness sounded in his voice which was so uncharacteristic of him. ‘I’m trading on an old friendship but I think you might be interested in a new dimension. I’ve no intention of outlining the whole scenario in one single broadside. It’s far too big for that. So please bear with me and hear me out.’
I stared at him in a bemused way wondering why he was stumbling so badly over the issue, shrugging my shoulders disconsolately without replying.
‘When we first met,’ he continued, ‘I took you to be a sharp energetic individual with a sense of adventure. Someone totally bored with the mundane events of modern