Portrait of a Lady - Part 7
January 4th 2000
“Sandra?” Jenny and Suzie turned and watched as Madame X slowly got onto her feet, only to fall forward into Sandy’s arms as she came forward. Helping her to sit down on the couch, she turned and looked at Carol as she stood in the doorway, the club resting in her hands.
“I understand your caution,” she said as she stood up, “and I understand you are frightened at the moment. There is no need to be – the men who came earlier will not call again, and if they attempt to we will stop them.”
“We?” Carol walked into the room and sat opposite Madame X. “Who are we? I know Shirley here was in a fight, and that someone is trying to find her, but apart from that...”
“You did not tell her who you are?”
“Carol,” Madame said as she sat herself forward again, “It may be better if you send the girls to their room for a few minutes. I promise you I would not ask if it was not important.”
“Go on, you two,” Carol said as she smiled at Suzie and Jenny, “The grown-ups need to have a chat. I’ll come up in a few minutes.”
“See you later, Shirley,” they said as they walked out of the room, Sandy smiling at them as she closed the door behind them. She sat herself down beside Madame X and looked directly at Carol.
“Before I say anything,” she said as she removed her coat, “Thank you for looking after my friend. I hope it has not inconvenienced you too much.”
“Depends,” Carol said, “If you call been threatened by two armed men, tied up and gagged an inconvenience.”
Sandy looked at Madame, who simply nodded, before turning back to Carol. “I would call it more than an inconvenience, and be assured it will be dealt with. You have our thanks for all that you have done – if there is anything we can do?”
“You can be honest with me,” Carol said as she stood up. “Shirley, who are you?”
“I am – a businesswoman,” Madame X said as she too stood up. “The business I am in, however, must not be your concern. What should be is this – if there is anything, anything I can ever do for you, you have but to ask and it will be done.”
Carol looked at the two women, before heading for the door. “I need a fresh cup of coffee,” she said as she opened the door, “and I suspect I’m not going to like what I’m about to hear. Let me get some for all of us.”
As she closed the door, Sandy took out a mobile phone and dialled a number. “This is number 16,” she said, “I have found her and am with her now. I need a full and discrete security team to monitor my location, and I need some medical assistance.” She shut the phone and looked over at her friend. “All right,” she said quietly, “You’d better tell me what happened.”
“Sandy! Where is she?”
Maddie shot to her feet as the other woman walked into the office and threw her coat onto a chair.
“She’s safe, but she lost a lot of blood, and can’t be moved from where she is for a few days,” she said as she sat down next to her friend. “I’ve arranged security, and the woman who is looking after her has agreed not to talk to the authorities. After the visit she had this morning, I think she’s just glad of the fact her daughters will be safe.”
“I’ll explain everything later – how about the chat with our visitor?”
“Jack? John’s down there now finding out what...” The office door opened as John came in. “She’s safe?” was the first thing he said as he closed the door.
“For now – she wants you to call round later.”
“Jack’s a tough nut,” John said as he sat down, “but he gave us a name for the enforcer this bastard’s using. Apparently she’s a specialist, one he has contracted in, and she was the one who turned Jack.
“Albino, white hair?”
John looked over at Sandy. “Apparently Shirley was stabbed when she went back to look at the offices, and she saw a woman with Master.”
“That’s her – her name is Drusilla Simpson, and she’s bad news. What can you dig up on her?”
Sandy picked up the phone on her desk. “Find out what you can about a woman called Drusilla Simpson – and ask Number One to call in at her earliest convenience.”
I stayed with Carol and the girls for three more days, until the medical advisor Sandra brought in said that I was well enough to move. Before I left, however, there was one last thing I had to attend to.
January 8th 2000
“I’m going to miss both of you – thank you for everything.”
Madame X hugged Jenny and Suzie as they stood in the doorway. Carol stood behind them, a quizzical smile on her face. As the two youngsters ran into the house, Madame held her hands out to their mother.
“Carol, I feel as if I can never repay your kindness to me. Are you sure there is nothing I can do for you?”
“I don’t think that would be a good idea,” she said with a sad smile. “I helped you, and that has to be reward enough. What are you going to do now?”
“Rest, recover - after that, it is better you do not know.” She took Carol in her arms and embraced her. “Allow me two luxuries – firstly, allow me to send birthday and Christmas cards – nothing more.”
“All right,” Carol said, “What’s the second thing?”
“If you ever, ever need my help, call me and ask for Shirley. Whatever it is, I will do. On this you have my word.”
“All right,” Carol said as she let go of Madame, “but forgive me if I say I hope that need never arises.”
“I understand,” Madame said as she took John’s arm. As they walked slowly down to the waiting car, he turned and mouthed “Thank you” as Carol watched them leaving.
“Welcome to my humble abode, Madame,” Sandy said as she opened the door and allowed John to escort her in. “I’m afraid it is still too dangerous to return to the warehouse, so this will have to do for now.”
“I... I cannot refuse such a generous offer,” Madame said as she slowly lowered herself to the seat John took her to. “Madeline?”
“She will join us shortly – she’s gathering as many of our staff as she can to apprise them of the situation. For now, you need to relax, to rest.”
“I cannot rest,” Madame said, “as long as HE is around and Robert is in his hands. Have they managed to locate him yet?”
“No,” John said as he sat beside her, “but Jack is proving more co-operative now that the BA discipline unit have – talked to him.”
“I want to see him,” Madame X said as she sat back, “and soon. In the meantime, if Madeline is not too busy, there is something she needs to do for me before coming here.”
January 9th, 2000
“Remove the hood.”
Jack blinked as the hood was removed from his head, and looked down at the ropes holding him in the plain wooden chair. “Nice place,” he said as he looked round the apartment, “Who owns it?”
“None of your business, Jack,” a deep, rich voice said, and as he turned his head he saw Madame X sitting next to him, dressed in a long sleeved black dress and with a determined look in her eyes.
“Ah,” he said slowly, “So you are still alive.”
“No thanks to you,” she said as she slowly stood up. “The only reason you are still alive is because you know where Robert is, and you are going to tell me.”
“Go to hell – Drusilla would...”
“Miss Simpson is not your first problem,” Madame said as she stood in front of him, “She is.”
The door opened, and Jack watched as two masked women brought in a young lady, in her late twenties, wearing a black leather jacket and a long skirt. Her wrists were tied tightly behind her back, and she had a wide strip of white tape over her mouth. She stared at Jack, as he said “Debs – you bastard, you can’t...”
“You tried to kill me, Jack,” Madame continued as one of the masked women pointed a small pistol at the girl’s head. “Now, I intend to return the favour, unless you tell me where Master is.”
“I don’t know, I swear I don’t know,” Jack screamed. “Only Drusilla Simpson knows.”
“I will settle for her whereabouts,” Madame said, and Jack slowly let his head drop. “She’ll kill me.”
“Not my concern – where is she?”
“Dorchester hotel – Executive Suite 6. She has her own maid – highly trained.”
“Good, good, Jack. Take them away,” Madame said, and as the two were dragged out she sat back down, allowing her tiredness to show for a moment.
“Rest now,” Madeline said as she came from the other door. “Sandy has someone special looking for Miss Simpson – and now we know where to find her.”
“Can I help you?”
The young blonde girl looked at the tall, thin dark haired woman standing in the doorway.
“I’m looking for Miss Drusilla Simpson. Is she in at the moment?”
“I am afraid not, perhaps...”
“That will not be necessary,” the strange replied as she produced a small can and shot a spray of gas into the startled face of the maid. She blinked twice before falling backwards, allowing the visitor to push open the door, enter and close it behind her.
The blonde was dressed in a simple black coat dress, with a white apron around her waist and high heels. Picking her up, the stranger carried her into a bedroom, laid heron the bed and produced a roll of white medical tape from her coat pocket. It took her a few moments to secure her wrists and ankles, before stuffing a handkerchief in her mouth and passing the tape around several times.
Picking up the telephone, she dialled a number and listened.
“This is number one – inform number 16 I have entrance and secured the building.”
Drusilla Simpson opened the door to the suite and walked in, secure in the knowledge she was earning her retainer. The so-called Master had paid her handsomely for a simple act of revenge, and that was in itself good, but what of the idiot Jack? If he knew what was good for him, he will have said nothing.
“Good evening – Madame X sends her compliments.”
She barely had time to register the voice before a blow to the back of her head sent her sprawling. There was no time to react before she felt strong hands grabbing her, taping her hands and feet before she was rolled over.
“I’m Sandy,” the woman standing over her said as she stretched a length of tape over Drusilla’s mouth, “and I don’t like people who threaten my friends. One of them wants to meet you.”
Sandy closed the door and sat down. “She wants to meet with you – after you, and I quote ‘get the lying bastard off your back’”.
Madame X sat up. “What did you do?”
“Told her about the reason we shopped him. She has a thing about kids too – and she’s told us some very interesting things.”
“The fact he has a farm on the Sussex Downs – and Robert is still alive. Fancy a drive?”
It took a day to arrange and plan, but on 11th January 2000 we set off – and our organisation changed overnight.